Current Affairs Current Affairs - 14 October 2017 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 14 October 2017

General Affairs 

Certain States Lagged Due To Governance Deficit, Says PM Narendra Modi
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said India does not lack in ideas, resources and capabilities but certain states and regions have lagged behind due to a "governance deficit".

    He was speaking at the closing session of the Conference of Governors at the Rashtrapati Bhawan here, a PMO statement said.

    He said various government schemes for the benefit of the poor are better implemented in areas where good governance exists, the statement added.

    Giving examples of schemes such as Mission Indradhanush, the prime minister said the governors can facilitate greater effectiveness of government initiatives.

    In order to strengthen the unity and integrity of India, he urged the Governors to involve themselves in initiatives such as 'Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat' and 'Run For Unity'.

    In his opening remarks at the conference yesterday, PM Modi had said that the governors can become catalytic agents for change in the society while upholding the sanctity of the Constitution.

    He mentioned the target of 'New India' by 2022 and emphasized that this can be achieved only by making it a people's movement.

Government Withdraws Gallantry Medals Given To 3 Policemen
  • Gallantry medals given to three policemen have been withdrawn after they were found to be involved in fake encounter, murder and corruption cases, a Union home ministry official said today.

    The three men are Dharmendra Choudhary, former Madhya Pradesh additional superintendent of police (ASP), Punjab Police sub-inspector Gurmeet Singh and Jharkhand Police sub-inspector Lalit Kumar.

    While Choudhary's Police Medal for Gallantry (PMG) was withdrawn in September, Lalit Kumar's was taken away in June and Gurmeet Singh's in May, an official said.

    The medal given to Choudhary, who was promoted to Indian Police Service from state police service, was withdrawn for allegedly orchestrating a fake encounter, he said.

    Choudhary was posted in Jhabua as ASP in 2002 when he gunned down a criminal wanted by police in the encounter. Choudhary received a gallantry medal from then president A P J Abdul Kalam for killing the wanted criminal.

    However, an investigation was ordered by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to look into the encounter following a complaint. It was later found that the encounter was fake, the official said, without divulging further information. 
    Gurmeet Singh was given the medal in 1997 on a proposal submitted by the state government for his bravery during service.

    He was convicted in a murder case and given life imprisonment in 2006. He was later dismissed from service.

    However, the Union home ministry learnt about the conviction only in July 2015. The matter was taken up with the Punjab government, which confirmed the conviction and advised the ministry to initiate the process of withdrawal of the medal, the official said.

    After taking views from intelligence agencies, the home ministry sent a proposal to former president Pranab Mukherjee that his medal be withdrawn who then gave his go-ahead. 

    Lalit Kumar was found to be involved in corruption cases, the official said.

    According to guidelines issued by the home ministry, the gallantry medal is withdrawn when the awardee is convicted by any court of law for such an act or conduct involving moral turpitude which brings the police force into disrepute or awardee is dismissed from service for similar act.

Government Saved $9 Billion, Thanks To Aadhaar: Nandan Nilekani
  • The Aadhaar programme has saved the government $9 billion by weeding out fake beneficiaries of government schemes, its architect Nandan Nilekani has said. With over one billion people enrolled in the national biometric identity programme, it is easier for an emerging economy as India to grow fast by building the right digital infrastructure, Mr Nilekani said.
    The Aadhaar programme launched by the UPA government has been "enthusiastically" supported by the current government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said Mr Nilekani, 62, non-executive chairman of software firm Infosys.

    "It has also saved the government about $9 billion in fraud and wastage because by having that unique number you eliminate fakes and duplicates from your beneficiary and employee list," Mr Nilekani said at a discussion organised by the World Bank on digital economy.

    "We have about half-a-billion people who have connected their IDs directly to bank accounts. The government has transferred $12 billion into bank accounts electronically in real-time to the world's largest cash transfer system. There are many many things like that," he said.

    India is the only country in the world where a billion people can do completely paperless, cashless transactions on their mobile phones using this infrastructure which dramatically reduces costs, Mr Nilekani said. "I'm a big believer that if you build the right digital infrastructure, then you can leapfrog."

    The technocrat said the World Bank has done a great job in promoting the concept of digital ID. A high-level panel representing several countries met at the bank yesterday to discuss the future of digital ID systems.

    Noting the Supreme Court has declared privacy as a fundamental right, Mr Nilekani said the court has also laid down a framework that even when the government needs to achieve a state objective then they can circumscribe some of those privacies.

    "It says for national security, for prevention of crime, protection of revenue, or for social welfare," Mr Nilekani said, adding every time the government circumscribes privacy, it has to be a law and must be reasonable.

    The question of how data use can solve inequality has not been discussed enough, Mr Nilekan said. "When the internet happened in the West in the last 15 years... the West was economically rich before they became data rich."

    But in developing countries, people have become data rich before they became economically rich, Mr Nilekani said.

'Nanded Shows BJP Can Be Defeated:' Shiv Sena Celebrates Congress Win
  • The Congress' big win in the Nanded civic elections in Maharashtra is a signal that the BJP can be defeated, said ally Shiv Sena today, its own debacle consigned to a postscript.  The Nanded civic body has been a Congress stronghold for two decades and the party has retained it, sweeping 73 of the 81 seats or wards.

    The BJP could win only six, a gain of six since it had won no seat in the last civic elections in Nanded. The Shiv Sena has won all of one seat, down from 14, but the party seemed unmindful of that statistic as it exulted in its magazine Saamna, "The results must have been a shocker for our friend, which saw the dream of a Congress-free India. The message for India through this election is clear - the BJP can be defeated." The Shiv Sena is a partner of the BJP both in Maharashtra and at the Centre, but often aligns with opposition parties in making scathing attacks on it.

    The Saamna article alleged that the BJP had made the Nanded election a "prestige issue", with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and his cabinet colleagues campaigning hard. "They were decimated, just like in Delhi by the Aam Admi Party, the Sena said.

    On its performance it merely said, "The Shiv Sena had to fight on dual fronts. On one hand was Ashok Chavan's Congress and on other the BJP, which uses all possible means to win an election."

    The Congress' state chief Ashok Chawan, whose home base Nanded is, said, "The strategy of BJP has failed in elections completely. Even after making a lot of efforts they have failed in winning. This is a clean sweep.

    The BJP had hoped to wrest the Nanded municipality from the Congress this time, extending its spectacular run in the state so far since its first big win in the general elections in 2014. In state elections soon after, it was the single largest party ahead of ally Shiv Sena, which has been struggling since to come to terms with the change in status of its once junior partner.

    The BJP has in civic elections held since late last year also won 12 of 16 civic bodies for which elections have been held.

    In elections this February to Mumbai's BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation), Asia's richest municipality, the BJP dramatically improved its position coming a very close second to the Shiv Sena with 82 seats to the Sena's 84. It narrowed that gap this week yesterday by winning a by-election to a seat left vacant by the death of a Congress corporator.

India Calls For Action On Pakistan-North Korea Nuclear-Missile Links
  • India has called attention to the Pakistan-North Korea nuclear-missile nexus and said the international community should act against those involved in such deals.

    "The international community should take a united stand against those who indulge in or benefit from clandestine (nuclear) proliferation linkages," Amandeep Singh Gill, India's principal disarmament affairs diplomat, told the General Assembly's Committee on Disarmament on Thursday.

    "India also remains concerned about proliferation of nuclear and missile technologies, which has adversely impacted India's national security," he said while expressing concern over North Korea's nuclear activities.

    Although he did not name Pakistan, the implications of the remark were clear in the context of Pyongyang's nuclear tests.

    The two countries have traded missile technology for nuclear know-how with Islamabad's top atomic scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan playing a key role.

    Pakistan's nuclear-for-missile technologies cooperation going back to at least the 1990s has been confirmed by United States officials and documented by US and international media.

    Mr Gill's statement follows India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's call last month for an investigation into the nuclear-for-missile ties between those two countries when she participated in a trilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono.

    She did not name Pakistan either, but hinting at it she said that North Korea's proliferation linkages must be explored and those involved be held accountable.

    Mr Gill, who is India's Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, said, "It is a matter of deep concern that DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) has acted in violation of its international commitments."

    "We call upon DPRK to refrain from such actions which adversely impact peace and stability in the region and beyond," he said.

    Mr Gill also denounced an effort by Mexico and five other countries that call themselves the "New Agenda Coalition" to move a resolution demanding that India give up its nuclear weapons and sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

    "The question of India joining the NPT as NNWS (Non-Nuclear Weapon States) does not arise," Mr Gill said. "At the same time, we support upholding and strengthening global non-proliferation objectives."

    Speaking on behalf of the group, Mexico's Alternate Permanent Representative Juan Sandoval Mendiolea said on Wednesday that their resolution would urge "India, Israel and Pakistan to accede to the (Non-Proliferation) Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon states promptly and without conditions, and to place all their nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards."

    The group that includes Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and Mexico did not make a similar demand on the other nuclear powers, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - or even North Korea.

    "We have updated our agenda and we hope our friends will renew theirs and focus on the real implementation deficits on non-proliferation and disarmament," Mr Gill said.

    Although it was not a party to the NPT, he said that "India abides by the principles and objectives of the NPT, including its nuclear disarmament aspirations. India is committed to making its contribution to strengthening non-proliferation."

    Mr Gill reiterated India's commitment "as a responsible nuclear power" to "a policy of credible minimum deterrence based on a No First Use posture and non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states".

    "We remain committed to maintaining a unilateral voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing," he added.

Business Affairs

Export logs 6-month high growth of 25.6% in September
  • India's export soared by 25.67 per cent to USD 28.61 billion in September, logging its highest growth in last six months on the back of expansion in shipments of chemicals, petroleum and engineering products, official data released today said.
    This is the highest export growth rate since March 2017 when shipments grew by 27.5 per cent.
    Import too rose by 18.09 per cent to USD 37.6 billion in September from USD 31.83 billion in the year-ago month, according to the data released by the commerce ministry.
    Trade balance stood almost flat at USD 8.98 billion in September 2017 against USD 9 billion in September 2016.
    Commerce minister Suresh Prabhu in a tweet said, "India's growth story is back! Exports grow by 25.6% in September 2017 as compared to September 2016."
    During September 2017, all the top ten commodity groups of export exhibited positive growth over September 2016 comprising 82.14 per cent share in total exports, he tweeted further.
    The trade data showed a decline of 5 per cent in gold import at USD 1.71 billion in September 2017. Oil and non-oil imports grew by 18.47 per cent and 17.98 per cent to USD 8.18 billion and USD 29.4 billion, respectively in the month.
    Cumulative exports during April-September 2017-18 increased by 11.52 per cent to USD 147.18 billion, while imports grew by 25.08 per cent to USD 219.31 billion, leaving a trade deficit of USD 72.12 billion.
    "In continuation with positive growth exhibited by exports for the last thirteen months, exports during September 2017 have shown growth of 25.67 per cent in dollar terms," the commerce ministry said in a statement.
    Commenting on the data, exporters body FIEO said that the growth rate would further increase in the coming months as the government has addressed their concerns related with the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
    "Though global uncertainties, rupee volatility and protectionism are still some of the major hurdles to our current growth in exports," Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) President Ganesh Gupta said in a statement.
    He also expressed hope that the country's exports would touch USD 310 billion by the end of the current fiscal.
    In September, petroleum, engineering and chemicals exports grew by 37 per cent, 44.24 per cent and 46 per cent, respectively.
    However, sectors which recorded negative growth includes handicrafts, iron ore, and fruit and vegetables.

Bharti Airtel-Tata Teleservices deal to benefit both parties, acquirer to gain more: Report
  • The Tata Teleservices-Bharti Airtel deal is positive for both the sides as it will help improve the largest telco's credit profile since its coming with no financial burden and minus any asset, said a report today.
    "Bharti's credit profile will improve slightly as it's paying no consideration for the operations, which it would acquire free of debt... benefits from additional spectrum, fibre assets and subscribers will more than offset the additional spectrum liabilities," said the report by the rating agency Fitch.
    Fitch mentioned in its report that Bharti's revenue market share will increase by 4-5 percentage points to 37-38 per cent after the deal comes into effect.
    The Tatas and Airtel yesterday inked a plan wherein consumer businesses of the diversified conglomerate will be acquired by the largest telcom company in India on a 'no cash, no debt basis'.
    The deal, which deepens consolidation in the fiercely competitive telecom sector, gives Bharti 42 million customers virtually free with spectrum licence in 19 of the 22 circles.
    Fitch said the deal will help arrest the decline in Bharti's pretax profit and bolster its 4G spectrum portfolio and network position.
    For Tata Telecom, it will be about exiting the consumer mobile segment, avoiding future investment requirements and potential further losses,it said, adding the headroom for Bharti's 'BBB-' rating improves slightly if the deal concludes in 2018, as leverage levels come down.
    It said Bharti's earnings will decline by at least 5 per cent in FY18 due to intense price competition and lower mobile termination rates but the same will improve in FY19 with a growth of 3-5 per cent.
    As part of the deal, Bharti will gain about 178.5 MHz of spectrum in the 850MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands in 17 the telecom coverage areas, the right to use Tata Telecom's extensive fibre network and 42 million subscribers that will add to its existing subscriber base of 281 million.
    "Bharti will take over only a small part of Tata Tele's deferred spectrum liabilities of USD 1.5 billion. We do not expect the transaction to result in any other increase in debt at Bharti," it said.
    The deal, which is subject to approvals from the telecom regulator, courts and anti-trust authorities, could be completed in the next 12 months, the agency said.
    It can be noted that aggressive pricing launched by the cash-rich new entrant Reliance Jio has caused an upheaval in the market, which includes dent in profitability and consolidations. Vodafone and Idea, Bharti's immediate rivals, are also about to seal-off a merger.
    "We expect that Jio tariffs will have to rise in the medium term if it is to earn an acceptable return on its significant investment," Fitch said.

Reliance Industries Q2 profit grows 12.5% to Rs 8,109 crore; Reliance Jio logs Rs 271 crore net loss
  • Mukesh Ambani-led oil-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) on Friday posted a 12.5 per cent increase in consolidated net profit to Rs 8,109 crore in the September quarter of FY18, as against Rs 7,209 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year. RIL's telecom arm Reliance Jio logged a net loss of Rs 270.6 crore, beating street estimates.
    The revenue of Reliance Industries Ltd increased by 23.9 per cent to Rs 101,169 crore ($15.5 billion) compared to Rs 81,651 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year. Commenting on strong Q2 earnings, RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani said, "Our Company reported another quarter of robust performance. I am delighted to share that this includes the financial performance of Reliance Jio which had a positive EBIT contribution in its first quarter of commercial operations."
    "The results also reflect strong underlying fundamentals of our refining and petrochemicals businesses," Ambani added.
    Surprising many analysts, Reliance Jio revenue for September quarter stood at Rs 6147 crore while Jio's EBITDA stood at Rs 1,442 crore. "The strong financial results of Jio demonstrates the robust business model of Jio and the significant efficiencies that the Company has built through its investment in the latest 4G technology and right business strategy. As always, the Group has demonstrated excellence in execution, vision and commercial acumen," Ambani said.
    "The rapid uptake of Jio services reflects the latent need of the society. We are confident that Jio will bring significant benefits to the Indian economy and the Indian customers and will take India to a much higher pedestal. We are focussed on providing multi-layered digital services on top of the basic connectivity service to optimally utilise our world class infrastructure," Ambani added.
    Operating profit before other income and depreciation increased by 39.4 per cent to Rs 15,565 crore ($ 2.4 billion) from Rs 11,164 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year. Strong operating performance was driven by the refining, petrochemicals, retail businesses and positive contribution from digital services starting from this quarter, a company statement said.
    Increase in revenue is primarily on account of increase in prices and volumes in refining, petrochemical and retail businesses. Further, the consolidated revenues reflect the commencement of commercial operations of Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited's wireless telecommunication network during the quarter, RIL said in a press statement.
    For September quarter of FY18, revenue from the refining and marketing segment increased by 15.3 per cent Y-o-Y to Rs 69,766 crore ($10.7 billion).
    In FY18 Q2, revenue from the petrochemicals segment increased by 24.9 per cent Y-o-Y to Rs 27,999 crore ($4.3 billion) due to higher volumes in the polyester chain and firm prices where as revenue for the oil and gas segment increased by 13.3 per cent Y-o-Y to Rs 1,503 crore due to commencement of CBM production.
    Reliance Industries Gross Refining Margin (GRM), the profit earned on each barrel of crude processed, stood at $12/barrel for the quarter, outperforming the benchmark Singapore complex margins by $3.7 per barrel.
    Exports (including deemed exports) from India refining and petrochemical operations were higher by 10.2 per cent at Rs 41,560 crore ($6.4 billion) as against Rs 37,717 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year due to higher volumes and product prices.
    Outstanding debt as on 30th September 2017 was Rs 214,145 crore ($32.8 billion) compared to Rs 196,601 crore as on March 31, 2017.
    Reliance has started operations of its ROGC cracker, MEG and LLDPE plants at Jamnagar. Reliance Retail acquired 40% stake in Genesis Luxury Fashion Private Limited, which operates a rich portfolio of brands such as Armani, Burberry, Coach, Michael Kors and many others.

Nifty soars to all-time high of 10,167, Sensex rises 250 points on positive signs from Indian economy
  • The Nifty today shattered all records to close at a life high of 10,167 and the Sensex rallied to an over two-month high days before Diwali as steady inflation and strong IIP numbers gave the go ahead investors were looking for.
    Domestic institutional investors went ahead with more buying, while Indian rupee appreciating against the American dollar fuelled the rally.
    The 50-share NSE Nifty closed at 10,167.45 -- a new peak -- up 71.05 points, or 0.70 per cent, after scaling new intra-day high of 10,191.90. It broke previous record closing of 10,153.10 hit on September 18. It also broke the intra-day record of 10,178.95 reached on September 19.
    Meanwhile, the 30-share BSE Sensex opened positive, but shed some ground to settle the session higher by 250.47 points, or 0.78 per cent, at 32,432.69, its biggest closing since August 2. The gauge had rallied 348 points yesterday. For the second straight week, the Sensex added 618.47 points, or 1.94 per cent, while the NSE Nifty gained 187.75 points, or 1.88 per cent.
    Investor sentiment received a boost on positive economic data after industrial production grew to a 9-month high of 4.3 per cent in August while retail inflation came in at 3.28 per cent in September, unchanged from August.

    Online sales to cross Rs 30,000 cr this festival season: Assocham
    • In the run up to the Diwali, Indian online consumers may spend more than Rs. 30,000 crore on top categories like mobile phones, electronic gadgets, consumer durables, apparel, home appliances and gift articles, says a survey by ASSOCHAM National Council on E-commerce.
      The rise of high-speed internet has enabled more people from smaller towns to come online and buy goods this year. Also, smartphone use in the country has helped its e-commerce industry to grow, said D S Rawat, Secretary-General, The ASSOCHAM
      According to the findings of the survey, while Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru lead in terms of the sales, a huge surge of interest was also registered from tier II and III cities like Pune, Gurgaon, Noida, Chandigarh Nagpur, Indore, Coimbatore, Jaipur, and Vishakhapatnam, which increased by 60-65% year-on-year.
      The regular shoppers comprised mainly of people in the 18-25 years' age group, 55% in 26-35, 8% in 36-45 and 2% in the age group of 45-60, says the report. About 65% of online shoppers are male as against 35% female. As per the report, men and women between the age group of 25 and 34 years of age shop online the most during the festive season.
      Mobile phones were the most bought product followed by electronic gadgets, consumer durables  and gift articles.
      The survey, that took place across 10 cities -- Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Chandigarh and Dehradun, had respondents ranging from professionals to officers to executives across various industry sectors including manufacturing, real estate, automobile, healthcare, retail, hospitality etc.
      This festive season, shopping on ground has taken a back seat. There are various reasons for this, like changing lifestyle, lack of time, being away from home for work, nuclear families, etc. These have brought about a change in the festive shopping methods. Online shopping has brought about convenience and ease into the customers' lives.
      About 65% of Delhiites prefer online shopping over the regular shopping this year with available deals online, than in brick-and-mortar stores, also giving advantage of free shipping with a "click" option.

    General Awareness

    INS Satpura, Kadmatt to participate in PASSEX with Japan

    • Indian Naval Ships Satpura and Kadmatt are visiting Sasebo, Japan from 12th to 15th October 2017. The visit of these ships is in line with India’s Act East Policy and reiterating of India’s commitment to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific Region.
      PASSEX with Japan:
      During this visit, INS Satpura and INS Kadmatt will engage with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) in formal calls, as well as social and sporting interactions.
      • The two Indian naval ships will also take part in Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with the Murusame Class destroyer, JS Kirisame.
      About Indo-Japan Maritime Relations:
      ‘Navy to Navy Staff Talks’ between Japan and India started in November 2008. Since then, the two navies have taken part in several bilateral as well as multilateral exercises and have developed enhanced cooperation in information sharing, meteorology and oceanography, disaster management and military training. 
      • Cooperation with Japanese Navy also includes bilateral defence training cooperation, at very senior levels.
      • Besides, Navy personnel from India and China participate in seminars and short term exchange programs which are conducted regularly in both countries. These activities are aimed at enhancing interoperability and understanding.
      • Currently, security interaction between India and Japan encompass Defence Policy Dialogue and a Maritime Affairs Dialogue.
      Indo-Japan Bilateral and Multilateral maritime exercises: 
      Strong naval relations between India and Japan can be ascribed to regular bilateral and multilateral maritime exercises.
      • Prior to 2014, navies of both the countries held Japan – India Maritime Exercise (JIMEX). Since 2014, Japan has been participating in the ‘MALABAR’exercise which has now become a tripartite naval exercise between India, the US and Japan.
      • Both the navies have also participated in each other’s International Fleet Reviews (IFR) by deputing ships and high level delegations.
      Quick Facts about Japan
      • Capital – Tokyo
      • Currency – Japanese yen
      • Current Prime Minister – Shinzo Abe

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