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Current Affairs - 17 October 2017

General Affairs 

NSG includes high-end gadgets in its force, prepares for 'multi-city and multi-target attacks'
  • The National Security Guards (NSG) - India's elite counter-terrorism force, is for the first time preparing its personnel for the newest security challenge for 'multi-city and multiple attacks' in India.
    A top source in the NSG said, "The force has been actively conducting mock drills with multiple targets and multi city attack."
    This involved NSG Commando's from its headquarters in Delhi,and various regional hubs. The idea was to put to test the real potential in case of multiple attacks."
    India witnessed the gruesome attacks of 26/11 which killed 166 people in the year 2008, this was also an example of a multi-target attack. The intelligence input at the time had called it a "curtain raiser". But there have been key advances in technology and strategy.
    Besides electronic gadgetry which assists the NSG commandos, the elite force has also procured head-mounted K9 camera system for its dog squad, in order to facilitate a 360 degree vision to the handlers and operation. The mock drills are perfect to test the ability of the force.
    The technology enables commanders in anti-terror operations like room intervention and assaults. Sources say the operational commander can witness what the dog is seeing through the set of cameras mounted on the goggles.
    In case of a next terror attack, there is very likely scenario that the four-legged soldier would go for the kill, followed by human soldiers.
    Albeit post 26/11, terror attacks have been largely limited to the western border with Pakistan. There has been two terror attacks in Punjab: Gurdaspur in July 2015 and attack on Pathankot Airbase in 2016.
    The force is preparing its commandos for any imminent action.
    While there seems to be dormant threat perception from terror outfits like the dreaded Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda, the real threat may come from Pakistan-based terror organisations Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.
    Sources though downplay the terror threat from Rohingya Muslim, and say the intelligence agencies are tasked to look into such threats.
    While the anti-terror commando squad has hinted that a lot has changed since 26/11, the influx of new technology along with dog squad gadgets will elevate the capabilities of NSG to a whole new level.

Karnataka assembly speaker proposes 13-gram gold biscuit for legislators to mark diamond jubilee celebrations
  • Karnataka assembly speaker's proposal of gifting state legislators gold biscuits on the diamond jubilee celebrations of Vidhana Soudha has come under strong criticism.
    The proposal sent to the finance department consisted a plan for expenditure of Rs 26.87 crore to gift MLAs and MLcs expensive gifts. The speaker proposed that the legislators get a 13-gram gold biscuit worth Rs 55,000 each which will be embossed with the state emblem along with a miniature model of Vidhana Soudha.
    The proposal also suggested that the secretariat staff, comprising both the Upper and Lower Houses, get silver plates worth about Rs 6,000 each.
    While speaking to India today , speaker KB Koliwad  said that he had indeed sent the proposal to the finance department and it is pending with the chief Minister.
    "It is just at a proposal stage. We have submitted this to the finance department. The CM is the finance minister and he needs to take a decision."
    The Congress party is quite embarrassed with this ridiculous proposition and have out-rightly criticised Koliwad.
    "This kind of proposal is just not acceptable to us and there is no need to spend such money for such things. We can use the money for other things, and we should not waste the tax payers money like this . I will definitely convey my objection to the chief minister", said Dinesh Gundu Rao, the working president of the Karnataka Congress Committee.
    "This move by the speaker Koliwad is highly deplorable, monsoon fury has affected Bangalore and people are suffering. At such a time such a proposal must be shot down immediately by the CM" , said BJP spokesperson S Prakash.
    President of India Ram Nath Kovind has been invited to address a special joint session of the Karnataka legislature on the occasion of the diamond jubilee which will take place on October 25th and 26th.
    "On the back foot now, there is Rs 26 crore for the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Vidhan Soudha, which includes cultural programmes. However, there is no proposal for gifting gold and silver in it. 

Rahul Gandhi's weather report on Narendra Modi's Gujarat visit: It will rain jumlas today
  • Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi today took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Gujarat ahead of Assembly election in the state. Modi is slated to address a public rally near Gandhinagar in his home state today.
    Rahul Gandhi, in a tweet posted from his office's handle, said, "Mausam ka haal: Chunav se pahle Gujarat me aaj hogi jumlon ki bearish (Weather report: It will rain jumlas today in Gujarat ahead of election)
    The election to Gujarat Assembly is expected to be over before the results of the Himachal Pradesh polls are declared on December 18. The Election Commission last week announced date for Himachal Pradesh election but defer the same for Gujarat for the first time since 1998.
    The Congress has criticised the decision of the Election Commission alleging that the poll body buckled under the pressure from PM Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. The Congress alleged that the Election Commission has given the Centre and the BJP government of Gujarat to announce sops for the state on the eve of the Assembly polls.
    MODI IN GUJARAT TODAY
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi is is visiting his home state Gujarat today where he would address a gathering of BJP workers at a village near Gandhinagar. The prime minister will address the 'Gujarat Gaurav Mahasammelan' being organised by the state BJP to celebrate the conclusion of the saffron party's 'Gujarat Gaurav Yatra' (march for Gujarat's honour).
    "I bow to the people of Gujarat for blessing BJP for decades. We will always fulfil the dreams of every Gujarati with full strength and vigour," Modi tweeted ahead of his visit.
    Modi, who has been frequently visiting the poll-bound state, said in another tweet the two 'Gujarat Gaurav Yatras' "showcased the spirit of Jan Shakti & reflected Gujarat's strong faith in politics of development & good governance".Senior leaders of the party joined the 15-day march, which was launched on October 1. The march covered a distance of around 4,471 kilometres, spread over 149 of the 182 Assembly constituencies in the state, state BJP chief Jitu Vaghani said.
    "Tomorrow, the prime minister will give his guidance to around seven lakh BJP workers at the Gujarat Gaurav Mahasammelan to be held in Bhat village," he said. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, BJP national president Amit Shah and many other leaders of the party would be present, he added.
    Last week, Modi had visited Gujarat to inaugurate and lay foundation stones of various projects in Rajkot, Vadnagar, Gandhinagar and Bharuch. He had also held a roadshow in his hometown Vadnagar on October 8.

World Food Day: Why 19 crore Indians go to bed hungry every night
  • Every year on October 16, about 150 countries celebrate the World Food Day to mark founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in 1945.
    This year's theme is "Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development." Recent Global Hunger Index released by the International Food Policy and Research Institute (IFPRI) shows that India is among the worst performers on the fronts of hunger and malnutrition.
    India ranks only above Pakistan in the south Asia region on Hunger Index. All other neighbours have performed better. China stands at 29th position, Nepal at 72, Myanmar at 77, Bangladesh at 88 and Sri Lanka at 84. Bhutan could not be included in the Global Hunger Index for lack of data.
    According to the National Health Survey (NHS), more than 19 crore Indians are under-nourished or face hunger. The irony is that the first programme to deal with hunger was launched under British rule in 1939.  The National Food Security Act was legislated in 2013 to tackle the same problem.
    DATA SPEAKS LOUDEST
    The official data of the government (available with the department of the health and family welfare) gives scaring figures related to the state of malnutrition and hunger in the country.
    Data for 2015-16 says that 38 per cent of children below five years are stunted, that is, they have low height for their age. The ratio is 31 per cent for children living in urban areas while 41 per cent those in the rural areas.
    Same is the case with wasting of children. Wasting refers to a process by which a debilitating disease causes muscle and fat tissue to "waste" away. On an average, 21 per cent children in India suffer from wasting syndrome. Only three countries in the world have wasting above 20 per cent - Djibouti, Sri Lanka, and South Sudan.
    A total of 36 per cent children are underweight and 58 per cent are anaemic. The teeming millions of under-nourished or hungry children form a feeble generation for years in the country.
    THE FAILING SCHEMES OF NUTRITION
    There is an unending list of schemes at the Centre and in the states to improve the nutrition level of people, particularly of women and children. The Public Distribution System (PDS) was launched by British under the compulsions of the World War II to ration cereals to people in some cities.
    Three years after the launch of PDS, department of food was created in 1942. The PDS was discontinued in 1943. However, between 1943 and 1946, an estimated 15 lakh people died in Bengal of starvation when famine struck.
    The five steps taken by the government to deal with malnutrition have attracted much attraction at the central level - the PDS including the Targeted PDS, the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), the Mid-Day Meals scheme, the Antyodaya Anna Yojana and the National Food Security Act, 2013.
    The fact that India ranks towards the bottom on the Global Hunger Index is a proof in itself that the schemes have miserably failed. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has pointed out to loopholes in the working of the PDS. It reported that the PDS is leakage prone, leads to huge wastage and is wrecked by corruption. The Centre spends about Rs 1.4 trillion a year on food subsidy.
    WASTAGE OF FOOD
    Wastage of food has been highlighted by various agencies including the national auditor. According to one estimate, 40 per cent of all food produced goes waste at godowns, restaurants and during community feats.
    A private member bill titled the Marriages (Compulsory Registration and Prevention of Wasteful Expenditure) Bill, 2016 was introduced in Parliament to tackle the wastage of food. The Bill seeks to put a cap on wedding expenditure including on food.
    Earlier this year, the government informed Parliament that over 11,889 tonnes of foodgrains got rotten at various centres of the Food Corporation of India FCI) in 2016-17.
    The estimated cost of the wastage is almost Rs 1 lakh crore. If the wastage is measured in terms of the food provisions as per the food security law, the tonnage would be sufficient to feed about 20 lakh people.
    The National Food Security Act guarantees five kg of food grains per person to 75 per cent of rural population and 50 per cent of urban population in the country.
    BAD STATE OF AGRICULTURE
    The state of agriculture has a close connection with malnutrition. With second largest population, India is third largest food producer in the world. But, the sad part of the story is that the per capita productivity of agriculture is dismally low.
    While nearly 55 per cent of India's population is dependent on agriculture, its share in the gross domestic product is about only 15 per cent. The annual growth rate target of around 4 per cent has hardly been achieved for years.
    The cumulative effect of poor agricultural growth in India is that the average earning of the dependent families is low. With low income and high dependence ratio, the purchasing power of these families is very low.
    Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has shown in his research in the field of welfare economics that low purchasing power is actually responsible for more starvation deaths than the availability of foodgrains.

Maharashtra: BJP government faces ire for appointing 11 private firms for PR
  • Eleven private advertising companies will promote the Maharashtra government's policies and schemes, especially on social media, according to a government resolution issued last week.
    The resolution says these agencies will use audio-visual media, posters and banners. There will be a major thrust on social media, and the use of hash-tags to create positive trends.
    The agencies will have to ensure that information about the Fadnavis administration's schemes is conveyed properly, and work on his government's image. They'll need to talk about decisions like demonetisation and GST, which have been in the eye of a storm.
    The BJP government is likely to spend a few hundred crores on the entire exercise. The Opposition has called such expenses unnecessary.
    "There is a dedicated department called the DGIPR (Directorate General of Information and Public Relations) of the state government that does the same job. Why appoint agencies to it then? The BJP, through this, wants to dole out crores to agencies that are related to its party workers..." said Nawab Malik, a spokesperson for Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party.
    DGIPR officials did not respond to India Today's request for a comment.
    'TALIBANI STYLE OF FUNCTIONING'
    Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena, the BJP's ally in Maharashtra, said the saffron party was becoming increasingly "intolerant" of criticism on social media. 
    Uddhav Thackeray, the president of the Sena, wrote in an editorial for his party's newspaper that the way young people were "being targeted for speaking against government policies" was "a Talibani style of functioning."
    "The BJP is falling in the the pit which it dug for someone else."
    He said the government feels that the President, the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister "should not be an object of ridicule on social media."
    But where, he asked, did these teachings go when former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh"was made a butt of jokes on social media?"

Business Affairs

Wholesale inflation drops to 2.6% in September as food prices soften
  • Wholesale inflation dropped to 2.60 per cent in September as prices of food articles, including vegetables, softened. In August, the wholesale price index (WPI) had zoomed to a four-month high of 3.24 per cent. WPI inflation was at 1.36 per cent in September last year.
    Build up inflation rate in the financial year so far was 0.97 per cent compared to a build up rate of 3.44 per cent in the corresponding period of the previous year.
    The index for 'Food Articles' group declined by 4 percent to 144.8 (provisional) from 150.8 (provisional) for the previous month due to lower price of fruits & vegetables (15%), betel leaves (6%), ragi (4%), bajra (3%), pork, maize and tea (2% each) and poultry chicken (1%).  However, the price of gram (10%), arhar (3%), masur, urad and fish-inland (2% each) and jowar, egg, barley, condiments & spices and peas/chawali (1% each) moved up.
    Inflation in vegetable prices cooled to 15.48  per cent in September, as against a high of 44.91 per cent in the previous month.
    Onion prices, however, continued to rule high with 79.78 per cent increase in September. In egg, meat and fish segment the rate of price rise was 5.47 per cent.
    Inflation in manufactured products witnessed a slight increase at 2.72 per cent, against 2.45 per cent in August.
    In fuel and power segment, inflation cooled to 9.01 per cent, against 9.99 per cent in August.
    Fuel inflation has remained high in the past two months as petrol and diesel prices continued to be priced high relentlessly on global crude oil rates, while power tariffs shot through the roof on lower domestic production.
    Pulses continued to witness deflation at 24.26 per cent, likewise in potato at 46.52 per cent and wheat at 1.71 per cent.
    The final print of July WPI inflation remained unchanged from the provisional estimate of 1.88 per cent.
    Data released earlier this week showed that retail inflation was at 3.28 per cent in September, unchanged from August, even as vegetable and cereal prices had softened.
    Besides industrial production grew at a nine-month high of 4.3 per cent in August, mainly on account of robust performance of mining and power sectors coupled with higher capital goods output.
    Earlier this month, the Reserve Bank kept benchmark interest rate unchanged on fears of rising inflation while lowering growth forecast to 6.7 per cent for the current fiscal.
    It also raised its inflation forecast to a range of 4.2 to 4.6 per cent during remainder of current fiscal as against 4 to 4.5 per cent previously.
    Last week, retail inflation came in at 3.28 per cent for the month of September, unchanged from August despite softening of vegetable and cereal prices.

Sensex, Nifty touch fresh record highs on IMF booster
  • The BSE Sensex rose by 200.95 points to close at an all-time high of 32,633.64 as investor optimism climbed following encouraging comments from the IMF chief. The broader NSE Nifty too ended at a fresh life-time high of 10,230.85 points, showing gains of 63.40 points, or 0.62 per cent, in its record setting spree for the second session.
    Market sentiment was buoyant in a truncated trading week ahead of Diwali and encouraging Q2 earnings from oil-to- telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries.
    The rupee appreciating further to 64.68 against the dollar (intra-day) at the forex market too fuelled the rally.
    Sentiments got a lift after the IMF chief Christine Lagarde on Saturday said the Indian economy is on a "very solid track" in the mid-term, triggering all-round buying activity, brokers said.
    The broader NSE Nifty zoomed past the 10,200-mark for the first time to hit an all-time high of 10,242.95. It however failed to maintain record levels on profit-booking, and settled at new high of 10,230.85, up 63.40 points, or 0.62 per cent.
    It broke its previous record closing of 10,167.45, hit on October 13.
    The BSE Sensex after scaling an all-time high of 32,687.32 points at the outset, finally ended 200.95 points to end at a new peak of 32,633.64, breaching its previous record of 32,575.17 hit on August 1 and also broke its intra-day record of 32,686.48 reached on August 2.
    The gauge had gained 598.70 points in the previous two straight sessions.
    Unabated buying by domestic institutional investors (DIIs) and wholesale price inflation (WPI) falling to 2.60 per cent in September, helped both the key indices to scale new highs.

Want to buy gold this Dhanteras? Check out offers from jewellers, Paytm, Amazon
  • Indians love for yellow metal is well-known. And auspicious occasions like Dhanteras and Diwali only add to the excuse for shopping for more gold by them. Now with the government revoking its order on producing PAN and Aadhaar for purchases above Rs 50,000, this Dhanteras may see people flocking to buy gold without any hiccup. If you too cannot resist gold and share an emotional connect with gold, it makes sense to check out some exciting deals in the market before you shell out your money on it.
    Amazon Gold coins: If you aim to buy a gold coin, you must check out the offer from biggest e-tailer-Amazon. In order to make this festival grand, the e-tailer is offering its customers up to 10% discount on gold coins. You can choose a range from leading brands like Joyalukkas, Malabar, Senco Gold, Bluestone, P.N. Gadgil Jewellers, Kama Jewellery and MMTC-PAMP. The coins are available from 1 to 50 gm with purity level ranging from 22 kt to 24 Kt. 
    Paytm Gold: Under its 'Diwali Gold Sale', Paytm enables 3% additional gold on a minimum purchase of Rs 10,000 in this festive season. You have to use the promo code GOLDFEST to avail the offer. In order to sell gold, Paytm has parterned with MMTC-PAMP, for 24 karat gold. Alternatively, you can buy gold from it at as little as Re 1.  Also, if you are buying gold from this platform for the first time, you can avail a 2% gold on a purchase below Rs 10,000. This too requires you to key in a promo code.  The company is also offering assured bonus gold to anyone making a purchase of gold worth more than Rs. 50.
    Sovereign gold bonds: .Ahead of Dhanteras and Diwali, government of India has come out with third-tranche of sovereign gold bond scheme. The scheme, opens till December 27, allows investment for a minimum 1 gm. There is a discount to the tune of Rs 50 per gram if you buy through online mode and will get an interest 2.5 per cent per annum besides the price appreciation of the metal in the years. Another advantage is saving on 3% GST on gold and tax exemption on any capital gains arising out of redemption after its maximum tenure of 8 years, as mandated by Union Budget 2016-17. Also, like physical gold, you can use these bonds as collateral for raising loan and do not have to incur cost related to storage and handling.
    Jewellers: As a part of its festive offer, top jewelers have tied up with banks to offer cash backs to customers. If you have a HDFC credit card, you can avail 5% cash back on jewellery purchased through Tanishq and Mia. Also, on a minimum purchase of Rs 25000 gold from Malabar gold and diamonds, you can get 5% cash back using your SBI credit card. Kalyan Jewellers is providing a free gold coin on gold purchases worth Rs 25,000. If you happen to purchase diamond, uncut and precious stone jewellery customers, the offers extends to two free gold coins.

Godrej Agrovet shares surge 37% on market debut
  • Animal feed producer Godrej Agrovet Ltd's shares surged as much as 37 per cent on market debut on Monday after an initial public offering of about $179 million.
    Godrej Agrovet stock jumped to as much as Rs 630 from its IPO price of Rs 460 after raising Rs 11.6 billion in the IPO that was subscribed over 95 times earlier this month.
    Analysts at Angel Broking have given the stock a "subscribe" rating, considering the company's diversified business profile, decent margins, strong return ratios, healthy balance sheet and strong history of its parent.
    Besides its main animal feed business, Godrej Agrovet is into crop protection, oil palm, crop protection, dairy and poultry, as well as processed foods.
    Indian companies have so far raised around $8 billion in IPOs this year, and look set to surpass the record $8.65 billion raised in 2007.

    Flipkart in talks with BookMyShow to buy minority stake
    • E-commerce giant Flipkart is in talks with Mumbai-based online ticketing platform BookMyShow to become a significant minority shareholder. The move, if it comes through, is likely to boost India's largest e-ticketing service in a market which has seen the rise of Alibaba-backed Paytm.
      Amid fierce competition from cash-burning competitors, a sale of minority stake to Flipkart may help BookMyShow revive its slackening sales growth. Flipkart's investment in BookMyShow may also benefit Flipkart's own payments platform Phonepe which it acquired last year.
      The online retailer wants to invest fresh capital into BookMyShow (Bigtree Entertainment Pvt. Ltd) as well as buy shares from some of its investors, a Livemint report said.
      BookMyShow may be valued at $500-700 million if the proposed deal goes through, it said.
      Network18, which is owned by Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries is the single largest shareholder in BookMyShow with a 39 per cent stake.
      For the year ended March 2016, the firm posted a profit of Rs 3.1 crore on revenue of Rs248 crore. The last fiscal year, however, sales growth took a hit because of a push by Paytm into movie tickets, it added.
      Last week, SoftBank-backed Flipkart said it will invest $500 million in PhonePe to scale up operations of its payments arm. The commitment is in addition to the $75 million infused by Flipkart in PhonePe since the acquisition in 2015, it said.
      BookMyShow had raised Rs 550 crore last year led by Stripes Group in a deal which valued it at over Rs 3,500 crore. The funding saw participation from BMS' existing investors - Network 18, Accel Partners, and SAIF Partners.
      BookMyShow has an international presence in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, UAE and New Zealand. Founded in Mumbai in 1999 and re-launched in 2007, BMS is now present in over 350 towns and cities across India.
      BookMyShow allows users to book tickets for movies, plays, sports and live events through its website, mobile app and mobile site. Last month, BookMyShow became one of the first Indian online brand to participate in the WhatsApp business pilot. As part of this test, BookMyShow has made WhatsApp a default ticket confirmation channel for all its users.

    General Awareness

    Indigenously built Anti-Submarine Warship INS Kiltan commissioned into Navy



    • On October 16, 2017, Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman commissioned India’s third indigenously built Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) corvette INS Kiltan into the Indian Navy. The commissioning ceremony was held at Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh and was attended by Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba.
      Specifications of INS Kiltan:
      INS Kiltan is the third of the four ASW corvettes to be built under Project-28.It has been designed by Directorate of Naval Design and has been built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata.
      • INS Kiltan is 109 meters long and 14 meters at the beam. Its displacement tonnage (ship’s weight) is 3500 tonnes.
      • It is propelled by four diesel engines can achieve speeds in excess of 25 knots with an endurance of 3,450 nautical miles.
      • INS Kiltan’s crew will comprise 13 officers and 178 sailors.
      • The ship is armed with heavy weight torpedoes, ASW rockets, 76 mm caliber medium range gun and two multi-barrel 30 mm guns.
      • It is Indian Navy’s first major warship which has superstructure made of carbon fibre composite material imported from Sweden. This not only improves the stealth features but has also resulted in lower weight (100 tonnes lighter than the previous corvettes) and maintenance costs.
      • As a pilot project, INS Kiltan has undertaken sea trials of all major weapons and sensors before commissioning. It is thus the first major Indian warship to have done so.
      • It is named after a coral island in Aminidivi group of the strategically located Lakshadweep and Minicoy group of Islands.
      About Project 28:
      Project-28 is Indian Government’s 7800 crore project to build and induct four Kamorta-class Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) corvettes in Indian Navy.
      • It was approved in year 2003.
      • Besides INS Kiltan, other two ships that have been commissioned under this project are INS Kamorta (commissioned in 2014) and INS Kadmatt (commissioned in 2016).
      • Construction work on the fourth ship, INS Kavaratti is in progress and is expected to be completed by end of 2017.

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