Current Affairs Current Affairs - 06 October 2017 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 06 October 2017

General Affairs 

3 Indian Air Force Women Pilots To Make History, Set To Fly Military Jets
  • The first three women fighter pilots of the country are set to script history next month when they will fly military jets after completing a strenuous training in the coming three weeks.

    Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh were commissioned as flying officers in July last year, less than a year after the government decided to open the fighter stream for women on an experimental basis.

    "You will be glad to know that their performance has been on par with other pilots despite the strenuous and demanding nature of flying," Chief of Air Staff BS Dhanoa said addressing a press conference.

    A senior Indian Air Force (IAF) official involved in training of the three women pilots said they will steer the combat jets next month. Currently, the three women pilots are flying advanced Hawk jet trainers.

    The IAF chief said the next batch of three women trainee pilots has been selected for the fighter stream in July and is presently undergoing stage 2 of fighter pilot training.

    "On successful completion of training, the three women fighter pilots will be commissioned into the fighter stream in December this year," Chief of Air Staff BS Dhanoa said.

Ganga Prasad Sworn In As Meghalaya Governor
  • The newly appointed Meghalaya Governor, Ganga Prasad was today sworn in as the 17th governor of the state at a function at the Raj Bhavan in Shillong.

    Mr Prasad is also the fifth governor to have been sworn in in as many years since July 2013.

    The Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court. Justice Dinesh Maheshwari administered the oath of office and secrecy to Mr Prasad in the presence of Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, his cabinet colleagues, MLAs and senior officials of the government. 
    Mr Prasad relieved B Purohit from his additional charge as governor of Meghalaya, a temporary appointment made after V Shanmuganathan resigned earlier this year on charges of compromising with the dignity of the gubernatorial office.

    Mr Prasad was a member of the legislative council in Bihar for 18 years and a former leader of opposition in the Bihar assembly. He was a businessman by profession but started his political career as a Jan Sangh member in 1967 and held various organisational posts in it as well as in BJP.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan 'Amused' By Yogi Adityanath's Remarks On Medical Facilities
  • Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has hit out at his Uttar Pradesh counterpart, Yogi Adityanath, for his remarks on the law and order situation and medical facilities in the state.

    He said it "amused" him that the UP chief minister found time for Kerala despite "problems" in his own state. "It really amuses me that you (Yogi Adityanath) found time for Kerala, despite the fact that a large number of problems exist in UP as per newspaper reports," Mr Vijayan said in a facebook post late last night.

    He also expressed confidence that Mr Adityanath's visit to Kerala would rejuvenate him for facing problems back in UP. "But dear I am sure this break, (beautiful and happy trip) would help you to get rejuvenated for facing various issues in UP," he said.

    Reacting to Mr Adityanath's comments on infant mortality rate (IMR) in Kerala, Mr Vijayan said, "The Infant Mortality Rate in Kerala is 10 while the national average is 34 and in Uttar Pradesh, it is 43." He even thanked the UP chief minister for letting the country know about IMR figures.

    Mr Vijayan also asked Yogi Adityanath to refrain from speaking allegedly on the basis of "false and fake" information provided by the state BJP leaders. 
    The Uttar Pradesh chief minister, who was in Kannur yesterday to take part in the BJP's 'Jana Raksha Yatra', had alleged that medical facilities in Kerala were "inadequate."

    He also accused the Left party of promoting violence in the state.

    "There is no scope for political violence in a democracy but unfortunately Kerala, God's own land, is witnessing politically sponsored violence," Mr Adityanath had said.

    The two-week long Jana Raksh Yatra, led by BJP state unit president Kummanam Rajashekharan, has been organised to highlight the alleged attacks on BJP-RSS cadres by the ruling CPI(M).

Rail Ecosystem Can Create A Million Jobs Within A Year: Minister Piyush Goyal
  • Working on various areas across the railway ecosystem in India can create 10 lakh jobs within a year, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said today.

    Monetising the real estate assets as well as fast tracking some of the existing investment plans would generate a lot of employment opportunities in the railways and the ecosystem around it, he said.

    "My own sense is, may not be directly jobs in railways, but certainly through engaging people and working in variety of areas across the ecosystem, not less than a million jobs can be created in less than 12 months -- only railways and ecosystem around the railways," Mr Goyal said at the India Economic Summit of the World Economic Forum or WEF.

    The government's moving aggressively on the rail track and safety maintenance programme alone would create 2 lakh jobs, he added.

    Besides, leveraging the amount of railway real estate by monetising those assets will help to generate resources without burdening passengers. "If I look at the amount of investment in pipeline and activate that, it will create 2-2.5 lakh jobs in existing projects," Mr Goyal said.

    He said India has huge investment potential but a change in mindset is required to transform the country.




    Mr Goyal said that with sectors like coal, power showing turnaround, it's the turn of the railways now.

    On the need for the country re-branding itself, he said the narrative of India is changing.

    "Over the years India was well known for Yoga, Ayurveda, cricket or Bollywood. Narrative is changing, Brand India is being built. India is being now recognised as a country which is honest in its dealings, where technology drives growth," Mr Goyal said.

    Stating that mega structures cannot be built on a weak foundation, he said if India has to prepare itself for global challenges of tomorrow, there is a need to develop a framework that will ensure decades of prosperity.

    "I think there is no better place in the world today to invest in, no larger market than the Indian market and there is no pole which is going to be more important than India," he said.

India Calls For Closer And Real-Time Intelligence Sharing Against Terror Networks
  • India has called for closer and real-time intelligence sharing, coordination of operations and technology assistance to address the increasing challenges posed by transnational crime organisations.

    Despite the development of an expanding body of international treaties and conventions, designed to address the entire range of trans-border crimes, the challenge appears to only grow further, Mayank Joshi, Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of India to the UN said while participating in General Assembly's Third Committee debate.

    "A problem with a global dimension can only be tackled with effective and enhanced regional and international cooperation," said Mr Joshi.

    Terror organisations such as the UN designated entities -- ISIS, Al Shabaab, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, LeT, JeM -- continue to expand their reach across continents destabilising entire regions through their cross-border financing, propaganda, recruitment over cyberspace and social media, he told the UN committee.

    "All of us are aware of the importance of genuine international collaboration in meeting these multifarious challenges. This requires much closer and real time intelligence sharing, coordination of operations, capacity building and technology assistance," he said.


    They are increasingly able to target attacks according to their choosing, he said, adding that many of these networks also collaborate with others.

    Further, chronic civil wars and emerging armed conflicts, many of them involving non-state actors, are leading to large movements of people fleeing for safety, falling prey to organised crime syndicates.

    Smuggling and trafficking of persons, arms and drugs, money laundering seem to be on the rise, he said. Counterfeiting and sophisticated fraud schemes too are on the rise, he added.

    With exponentially growing reach of new technologies, new crimes are emerging, Mr Joshi said, adding that cyber safety is becoming a serious concern at individual levels.



    In a world inter-connected through modern technologies, there is a deepening nexus between various types of transnational organised crimes and entities engaging in them, he told the UN committee.

    "All of us are aware of the importance of genuine international collaboration in meeting these multifarious challenges. This requires much closer and real-time intelligence sharing, coordination of operations, capacity building and technology assistance," Mr Joshi said.

    In his remarks, Mr Joshi also rued that a 'Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism' has seen little progress and remains stalled with lack of clarity on defining issues.

    There is also a lack of common understanding on how to address areas such as cyber security, he said.

    Earlier opening the day-long debate via video-conference from Vienna, Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director of the Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) called for increased international cooperation.

    Noting that economic uncertainty is the main driver of crime and drug trafficking, he said they remained closely linked to violent extremism.

    The UNODC is working to strengthen criminal justice responses to terrorism and other emerging crimes, including piracy and heroin trafficking at sea, he said.

Business Affairs

GST Council meets on Friday: Faster refunds likely for exporters, will look into GSTN glitches
  • Exporters can expect to receive some good news after the GST Council meeting scheduled tomorrow. The all-powerful body to look after the indirect tax regime might provide some relief to exporters in terms of faster refunds, as well as GST compliance. This will be the 22nd meeting of the GST Council.
    Expectations for some relief for the exporters have risen in light of the fact that the committee, set up under Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia on issues faced by exporters, is likely to submit its preliminary report to the Council tomorrow. Based on that the Council is likely to recommend some relaxation for exporters so that their working capital which is locked up in refunds is released, government sources said.
    Also, the CBEC will inform the Council that it is ready to release IGST refunds to exporters from October 10. In a meeting with the Revenue Secretary last month, exporters had expressed their concerns over an estimated amount of Rs 65,000 crore being held up in GST input credit if norms are not modified by December.
    Moreover, officials also informed that easy compliance for exporters is expected to be discussed by the GST Council in the meeting tomorrow. In this regard, permission to file GST returns on a quarterly basis instead of every month might be granted.
    The government has already allowed exporters to furnish Letter of Undertaking (LUT) instead of bonds at the time of exports, which will help in making GST compliance easier and prevent working capital from being locked up.
    The GST Council can even consider start another round of registration for enrolling under the composition scheme, stated a CNBC-TV18 report. The composition scheme allows small taxpayers - those with an annual turnover up to Rs 75 lakh - to pay GST at a fixed rate on a monthly basis.
    Another item on the agenda of the full-fledged meeting of GST council might be to evaluate improvements in the functioning of GST Network, the IT backbone of the tax regime. Officials in the government said that the Group of Ministers led by Sushil Modi to look into GSTN glitches will also brief the GST Council on the status of portal's functioning.

Loan borrowers rejoice! RBI recommends new benchmark for lending rates
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has suggested bringing in place an external benchmark rate to link lending rates for faster transmission of rate cuts to the borrowers by the banks. This is in line with recommendation made by a study group set up by the RBI to review the working of the Marginal Cost of Funds Based Lending Rate (MCLR) system. In April 2016, RBI came up with a new benchmark-MCLR for faster transmission of rate cuts. However, varying reset periods under the same and tweaking by banks led to considerable time lag in full transmission of the rate cut, thereby defeating its whole purpose.
    The external benchmark may come into effect from 1 April, 2018. The study group has recommended three external benchmarks options: T-Bill rates, the CD rates and the Reserve Bank's policy repo rate. Of all, it finds the repo rate the best benchmark for effective transmission of rate cuts.
    "The main challenge in using either T-bill rates or CD rates as the benchmark is that the current level of market depth in the T-Bill and CD markets can make such benchmarks potentially susceptible to manipulation. The Reserve Bank's policy repo rate has the primary advantage that it is robust, reliable, transparent and easy to understand. With the repo rate as the benchmark, the transmission of the repo rate changes to lending rates of banks will be quick, direct and strong," the report by the study group said.
    The report expressed concern over considerable transmission lag in lowering the lending rate after reduction in MCLR "In the case of private sector banks, it took almost six months for the transmission from the lower MCLR to actual lending rates. However, in the case of public sector banks, the transmission was not complete even after six months," the report further added.
    The group also batted for allowing seamless and cost-free migration to MCLR system by banks to its customers, in its report. It further recommended the reduction of reset period  from once in a year to once in a quarter on MCLR, and also raised the issue of spread over and above the benchmark rate.
    "The decision on the spread over the external benchmark should be left to the commercial judgment of banks. However, the spread fixed at the time of sanction of loans to all borrowers, including corporates, should remain fixed all through the term of the loan, unless there is a clear credit event necessitating a change in the spread.

SEBI panel led by Uday Kotak calls for overhaul of corporate governance norms
  • Suggesting a major overhaul of corporate governance norms for listed companies, a Sebi panel on Thursday recommended limiting chairmanship to only non-executive directors and appointing at least one woman as independent director. While the proposal for only non-executive director being allowed to be made chairman would eventually lead to a split in the posts of chairman and managing director, the committee also suggested increasing the minimum board strength to six members and the number of board meetings to five in a year.
    The current rules require that there must be one woman on board, irrespective of her being an independent or executive director.
    The new recommendations also call for having at least half of board as independent directors, up from one-third currently.
    Besides, the panel headed by eminent banker Uday Kotak also suggested a minimum remuneration of Rs. 5 lakh for independent directors per annum and a sitting fee of Rs. 20,000-50,000 for each board meet.
    It also sought to make it mandatory to seek public shareholders' approval for annual remuneration of executive directors from promoter family if the amount exceeds Rs. 5 crore or 2.5 per cent of the company's net profit.
    In case of more than one such director, the same condition would apply for aggregate annual remuneration exceeding 5 per cent of the net profit.
    The approval of shareholders will be required every year in which the annual remuneration payable to a single non-executive director exceeds 50 per cent of the total annual remuneration payable to all non-executive directors.
    The capital markets regulator Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India) has sought public comments till November 4 on the panel's recommendations, which run into 177 pages and covers a host of issues.
    The panel has suggested at least half of board members to be independent directors at listed companies, while all directors must attend at least half of board meets.
    Besides, public shareholders' nod would be must for non-executive directors over 75 years of age.
    The panel, which submitted its report on Thursday, was set up by Sebi in June this year with a view to enhancing the standards of corporate governance of listed entities in India.
    The committee consisted of officials from the government, industry, professional bodies, stock exchanges, academicians, lawyers and proxy advisors. The committee was asked to submit its report within four months.
    The terms of reference of the committee were to make recommendations to Sebi on various issues including ensuring independence in spirit of independent directors and their active participation in functioning of the company.
    Besides, the suggestions are aimed at improving safeguards and disclosures pertaining to related party transactions. They also cover issues in accounting and
    auditing practices by listed companies and seek to improve effectiveness of board evaluation practices.
    The report also seeks to address issues faced by investors on voting and participation in general meetings, and disclosure and transparency related issues.

With Rs 2.47 lakh crore, Mukesh Ambani is richest Indian for the 10th consecutive year
  • Forbes' list of the richest Indians was topped by Mukesh Ambani for the tenth consecutive year. The elder Ambani brother, Chairman of Reliance Industries Limited, has seen a very successful year. One factor contributing to his recent earnings is the massive success of Reliance Jio since its launch in 2016. Mukesh Ambani tops the list with a staggering Rs 2.47 lakh crore or $38 billion in net worth, and is also one of the top five richest people in Asia. However, his younger brother, Anil Ambani , is way down the list on the 45th spot with $3.15 billion.

    The magazine mentioned that Mukesh Ambani saw his wealth increase by 67 per cent from last year. In fact there was an increase of 26 per cent in the aggregate wealth of the top 100 richest people. Forbes also mentions that all of the rank holders in the list are billionaires this year. The minimum worth to make to the list last year was $1.25 billion, which shot up by 17 per cent this year.
    On the second spot is Wipro's Azim Premji with $19 billion, followed by the combined net worth of the Hinduja brothers, Lakshmi Mittal, Pallonji Mistry, the Godrej family and Adani.
    It must be mentioned here that there are only three women entrepreneurs in the top 100, excluding the positions that have gone out to families or siblings. The richest woman ranked in the list is Savitri Jindal of the OP Jindal Group with 7.5 billion USD on the 16th spot. Leena Tiwari of USV India is on 71 with 2.19 billion USD, followed by Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon on 72 with 2.16 billion USD.  
    Vijay Shekhar Sharma, 39, of Paytm is the youngest individual and one of the newest entrant in the list with 1.47 billion USD.
    Cookies-and-airline tycoon Nusli Wadia is the wealthiest newcomer with a net worth of USD 5.6 billion at the 25th position on the Forbes' richest Indians list.
    Other new entrants in the list are Dinesh Nandwana (ranked 88th with a fortune of USD 1.72 billion) of e- governance services firm Vakrangee; and Rana Kapoor (100th, USD 1.46 billion) of Yes Bank.
    "While the Indian billionaire factory continued to churn out new names from diverse sectors, the price of entry rose to a record high. The top 100 club is getting more exclusive with each passing year," said Naazneen Karmali, India Editor of Forbes Asia.
    The minimum net worth to make the cut in this year's list rose to USD 1.46 billion from USD 1.25 billion last year.
    Last year, Yoga guru Ramdev's close associate Acharya Balkrishna had entered the annual Forbes list of India's 100 Richest People at the 48th position with a net worth of USD 2.5 billion. This year he has improved his rank to 19 and his wealth has swelled to USD 6.55 billion.
    Noted returnees to the list include veteran investor Radhakishan Damani at the 12th place with a net worth of USD USD 9.3 billion. Damani saw a significant rise in wealth by the listing of his supermarket chain D-Mart in March.
    Other returnees on the list are Future Group's Kishore Biyani at the 55th place with a fortune of USD 2.75 billion and siblings Murli Dhar and Bimal Gyanchandani (75th, USD 1.96 billion).
    Here are the top 10 richest people in India:
    1. Mukesh Ambani, RIL, 38 billion USD
    2. Azim Premji, Wipro, 19 billion USD
    3. Hinduja Brothers, Ashok Leyland, 18.4 billion USD
    4. Lakshmi Mittal, Arcelormittal, 16.5 billion USD
    5. Pallonji Mistry, Shapoorji Pallonji Group, 16 billion USD
    6. Godrej family, Godrej Group, 14.2 billion USD
    7. Shiv Nadar, HCL Technologies, 13.6 billion USD
    8. Kumar Birla, Aditya Birla Group, 12.6 billion USD
    9. Dilip Shanghvi, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, 12.1 billion USD
    10. Gautam Adani, Adani Ports & SEZ, 11 billion USD 

SBI Life Insurance debuts at Rs 733.30, gains 5 per cent over issue price
  • SBI Life Insurance Company today made its debut on the Bombay Stock Exchange at Rs 733.30, a premium of 4.75 per cent over its issue price of Rs 700. The stock  opened at Rs 733.30 and touched a high of Rs 738. On the National Stock Exchange, the stock opened at Rs 735, with a premium of 5 per cent over its issue price.  SBI Life's initial share sale offer was opened on September 20 and closed on September 22. This was the second listing of a life insurer after ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, which went public last year.
    The performance of the SBI Life stock is in line with the prediction made by some analysts. In one such prediction ahead of the IPO launch, Angel Broking had said that SBI Life has a well balanced portfolio (ULIP - 50.5 per cent, non participating - 34.7 per cent and participating - 15.4 per cent) and is well capitalised with a solvency ratio of 211 per cent (mandatory - 150 per cent). This will ensure growth without dilution in the coming years, boosting the return on equity (RoE) from current level of 17 per cent, the company said.   
    Reliance Securities had also considered SBI Life IPO a healthy investment opportunity. In a statement , it said: "Being the market leader in new business premium, we expect SBI Life to be a key beneficiary of strong growth in Indian life insurance industry over the next few years owing to low life insurance penetration, rising income level and higher preference for financial assets (such as insurance)."
    SBI Life's Rs 8,400-crore IPO was oversubscribed 3.58 times and the portion meant for qualified institutional buyers was oversubscribed 12.56 times. According to NSE data, non- institutional investors received 70 per cent subscriptions and retail investors 85 per cent. SBI Life is a joint venture between India's largest lender State Bank of India and BNP Paribas Cardif, the insurance holding company of France.
    SBI Life is country's largest private life insurer, in terms of new business premium generated in each fiscal year since fiscal 2010. The company's market share of new business premium increased from 15.87 per cent in fiscal 2015 to 20.04 per cent in fiscal 2017. It also increased market share of new business premium in the entire life insurance industry, from 4.89 per cent in fiscal 2015 to 5.80 per cent  in fiscal 2017.
    SBI Life earned Rs 313.48 crore in net profit for the quarter ended June 30, 2017. For the year ended March 31, 2017, the private sector insurer earned Rs 954.6 crore in net profit against Rs 844.1 crore net profit for the year ended March 31, 2016.

General Awareness

RBI announces 4th Bi-Monthly Monetary Policy

  • On October 4, 2017, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced Fourth Bi-Monthly Monetary Policy Statement for financial year 2017-18. This time the Policy Repo Rate has been kept unchanged.
    Post the Fourth Bi-Monthly Monetary Policy Statement announcement, the policy rates and reserve ratios are as follows:
    Policy Repo Rate6.00%Unchanged – since 2nd August 2017
    Reverse Repo Rate5.75%Unchanged – since 2nd August 2017
    Marginal Standing Facility Rate6.25%Unchanged – since 2nd August 2017
    Bank Rate6.25%Unchanged – since 2nd August 2017
    Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR)4.00%Unchanged – since 9th February 2013
    Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR)19.50%With Effect from 14th October 2017
    Highlights of RBI’s Second Bi-Monthly Monetary Policy Statement:
    • Repo Rate has been kept unchanged at 6.00%. Consequently, the Reverse Repo Rate at 5.75 per cent, marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 6.25 per cent too remains unchanged.
    • Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) has been cut by 50 basis points to 19.50 per cent with effect from October 14, 2017.
    • The six-member RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted 5:1 for the decision. Only Ravindra Dholakia (External Member) voted for a 0.25 percent reduction in repo rate.
    • RBI has projected inflation to stay in the range of 4.2-4.6 per cent in the second half of 2017-18.
    • Economic growth forecast has been revised down to 6.7 per cent from the August 2017 projection of 7.3 per cent.
    • Loss of growth momentum in Q1 of 2017-18 and adverse impact on the manufacturing sector owing to uncertainties triggered by Goods & Services Tax (GST) implementation have been cited as primary reasons for downward revision of growth forecast.
    Next meeting of RBI Monetary Policy Committee is scheduled on 5th and 6thDecember 2017.

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