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Current Affairs - 04 November 2017

General Affairs 

Real time intelligence sharing with friendly countries offered by India amidst increasing Chinese presence
  • As Chinese Naval presence in the Indian Ocean region becomes more pronounced, India for the first time ever has offered to share "real time information and intelligence" with the navy of countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri-Lanka, Mauritius and other friendly countries to counter conventional and non-conventional threats. The threats include drugs, human trafficking, smuggling and territorial disputes in the South-China Sea.
    The offer was made at "Goa Maritime Conclave", a first of its kind initiative led by India. As China becomes more aggressive in the South China Sea region, India has formed a new grouping of friendly countries and Navies in the Indian Ocean to explore areas of mutual interest and cooperation.
    In an indication of its intent, China has recently set-up its first off-shore base in the Horn of Africa. Chinese warships and submarines sailing out of East Africa will now be able to project power far away from its shores.
    Instead of going alone, India has chosen a cooperative approach instead. It has got together Navies of 10 friendly countries under a single umbrella.
    "We have identified common security threats across all countries and need greater degree for coordination and info sharing to take things forward to provide maritime security and safety of the global commons of the Indian Ocean," Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba told India Today. He also added that the proposal for sharing information and intelligence "has been received positively" by all.
    Helped by GSAT-7 satellite - Rukmini, the Indian Navy has a complete picture of vast waters of the Indian Ocean. From Gulf of Aden in Northern tip of the Arabian Sea to shores or Australia and New Zealand. This is further supplemented by a fleet long range maritime surveillance aircraft - the US P8i.
    Once information and Intelligence sharing agreement is operational, it would mean countries like Indonesia, Mauritius, and Malaysia would be acting in coordination with India Navy. "On the basis of information shared by India, Indonesia and Malaysia can mobilize ships to handle threats," a senior officer who was part of the discussion told India Today.
    Speaking exclusively to India Today the First Admiral of Indonesia B. Irwanto said, "It is great move, no one can take on all threats alone, there need for cooperation and coordination between friendly navies."
    Mauritius too has welcomed the offer from India. Karl Nobin of Mauritus told India Today, "Intelligence and information sharing would help smaller countries with fewer resources and using the information we can handle threats more effectively with lesser resources."

Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh hits out at BJP over corruption charges
  • Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today slammed the BJP in a series of tweets saying that "BJP's supposed fight against corruption made me laugh."
    Virbhadra Singh slammed BJP's chief ministerial candidate, Prem Kumar Dhumal over his remarks stating that his party will provide corruption-free government in Himachal Pradesh if it was voted to power.
    Taking to Twitter Virbhadra Singh wrote, "@DhumalHP Ji, your remarks on BJP's supposed fight against corruption made me laugh. Last time I saw, your own sons were out on bail."
    Singh said that the BJP's "main achievement is 'ease of doing corruption'. @AmitShah & son's miracle of 16,000 times lucre hike happens only in BJP rule. BJP's fear of real Vikas, as being witnessed in Himachal Pradesh today, is the reason why personal attacks on me is your main agenda."
    He further said, "Let's not forget the time when your party chose a joyous day of wedding of my daughter, Himachal's daughter, to carry out a CBI raid." The CBI had conducted raids on Virbhadra Singh's residence in September, 2015 on the night of his daughter's wedding.
    Virbhadra Singh's comments followed his offensive against Prime Minister Narendra Modihours after his rally at Kangra yesterday. Singh had accused the BJP and PM Modi of misusing power and money in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly election.
    Virbhadra Singh said, "Modi ji, you come to Himachal hundred times, we welcome you. But I can tell you, I haven't seen such a public display and misuse of power and money as you and the BJP are doing in Himachal Pradesh polls."

    How khichdi, staple of kings and commoners, travelled from ancient ages to World Food India 2017
    • Over the next three days, the range of Indian cuisines would be on display at the World Food India, 2017 in New Delhi. Participants from more than 40 countries and 27 Indian states are taking part in the exhibition, organised in association with industry body CII.
      Ahead of the World Food India 2017 and on social media, khichdi, an ancient Indian dish, attracted unusual attention. From the confusion about the Narendra Modi government's plan to declare khichdi the national food to the dish being projected as the Brand India food were all debated and discussed on social media. Cooked and eaten in almost every Indian home, khichdi had seldom received such attention in millennia.
      Simply put, khichdi is a Indian style porridge. It is believed to be the salty derivative of the Vedic dish, Kshirodana (modern version is kheer). The word khichdi has its origin in Sanskrit term, Khichcha meaning 'mixed' or 'mixture'. Renowned chef Sanjeev Kapoor will cook khichdi to set a world record during the World Food India 2017.
      KHICHDI IN HISTORY
      Ancient Indian texts talk about dishes prepared with the mixture of rice and pulses. Two of the words that are mentioned in reference to a dish like khichdi are Krisaranna and Khichcha.
      Archaeological evidence from around 1200 BC proves that Indians ate rice and pulses together. Though, these two grains were definitely eaten in much earlier days separately. Famous philosopher of ancient age, Chanakya, who was the prime minister of Magadhan emperor Chandragupta Maurya, has cryptically wrote about a balances dish that could possibly be taken for khichdi.
      Chanakya's prescription for a balanced meal was one prastha (about 1.4 pounds) of rice, quarter prastha of lentils, 1/62 prastha of salt, and 1/16 prastha of ghee taken together.
       His contemporary and famous writer Megasthenese -who stayed in the royal court of Chandragupta Maurya for years - provides a detailed account of how rice and pulses formed the popular dish in India and were eaten together. 
      FOREIGN TRAVELERS AND KHICHDI
      It is interesting that Indian authors and Asian travelers did not write about khichdi much but the foreign tourist-writers found the dish peculiar enough to mention about it in good detail. Indian and Asian writers might have found khichdi too common to warrant a special place in their accounts.
       Medieval traveller from Morocco, Ibn Batuta mentions Kishri being prepared and eaten by Indians around middle of 14th century. Ibn Batuta describes that moong is boiled with rice and eaten after adding ghee. He says people had this dish every day for breakfast. 
      Russian traveller Nikitin described about Khichdi being eaten by people in south India in 15th century. In 17th century, French tourist-writer Tavernier - who was so fond of India that he came here six times - wrote that khichdi was a popular evening meal in Indian homes.
      MUGHALS LOVED KHICHDI
      Khichdi had special place in Mughal royal kitchen. There is no record of khichdi being a cuisine in the kitchens of Mughal empire founder Babur or his son Humayun, it gained importance during Akbar, the first India-born Mughal emperor.
      Akbar's minister and court historian Abul Fazl talks about several varieties of khichdi cooked in the royal kitchen. In Ain-i-Akbari, he gives specific recipes for each variety. Then, there is famous tale of Birbal's khichdi. 
      Of all the Mughal emperors, Jahangir can be singled out for his fondness of khichdi. A special variety of khichdi was prepared for him by adding pistachios and raisins to the old recipe. The emperor named the dish as Lazeezaan, meaning delicious.
      Aurangzeb, the Mughal emperor least known for extravagance and eating, was fond of another variety of khichdi called Alamgiri khichdi. This variety had fish and eggs among its ingredients.
      KHICHDI OF OTHER RULERS
       The Nizams of Hyderabad too gave importance to khichdi in their royal meals. A non-veg improvisation of khichdi - by adding minced meat - particularly found place in Nizam's kitchen.
      In the 19th century, the British took khichdi from India to their own country, where it became Kedgeree. It became a rather sophisticated breakfast dish in England. It is still popular in England. 
      Every part of India has some recipe of khichdi. From khichuri in West Bengal to Ven Pongal in Kerala, khichdi has united India in geographical expanse with its flavor and through dynasties till the last Mughal emperor.

    Kejriwal govt slams Centre in Supreme Court, says ministers have to touch bureaucrats' feet to get things done
    • The Arvind Kejriwal government on Thursday alleged before the Supreme Court that the Centre through the L-G of Delhi had completely paralysed the function of the government and the situation was such that ministers have to touch the feet of bureaucrats for an advice or get things done.
      It said the Delhi government vs Lt Governor power tussle needs to be settled at the earliest by clearly defining the boundaries as it was effecting the day-to-day governance of the national Capital.
      During the hearing however, the bench remarked that Delhi being a union territory, the Kejriwal government did not have absolute powers and needs the L-G's nod on a large number of matters especially police, public order and land.
      It also said the governor cannot sit on files beyond a reasonable period and needs to take quick decisions. "Delhi High Court says the L-G of Union Territory of Delhi has greater power than the President and a state governor. That is completely inconceivable," senior counsel Gopal Subramanium representing the Delhi government argued before a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
      The bench had begun adjudicating the raging turf war between the Delhi government and the Centre. Kejriwal government has challenged the August 4, 2016 judgment of the Delhi High Court that declared the L-G as the "administrative head" and ruled that he is not bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers.
      The Kejriwal government is seeking a judicial declaration on the boundaries of the constitutional relationship between the Delhi government and the Centre, in administering the Capital.
      During the hearing the bench gave several hints that it was of the view that a harmonious interpretation of Article 239AA was needed to fulfill constitutional mandate for a democratic elected government in Delhi.
      It will decide on which all issues the aid and advice of the council of ministers need to be taken by the LG and also define the nature of his discretionary powers.
      Subramanium argued that the L-G is only a figurative head who is bound to act only as per advice of the CM-led council of ministers.
      "Delhi HC has erroneously concluded that Lieutenant Governor of Delhi is not bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers. This is against the basic features of the Constitution," government sources said when asked what the line of argument would be.
      Subramanium also argued that HC's conclusion was result of misreading of the 69th amendment which incorporated Article 239AA into the Constitution in 1991 that gave special powers to Delhi.

    China says ready to work with India as President Xi Jinping begins new term
    • A top Chinese diplomat said on Friday that China was "ready to work with India" in what he called "a new era" of Chinese "neighbourhood diplomacy" as President Xi Jinping begins his second term.
      On his first overseas visit in his second term, Xi will travel on November 10 to Vietnam to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economic leaders' summit and also pay a state visit to Vietnam and Laos, officials announced on Friday.
      Chen Xiaodong, Assistant Foreign Minister, told reporters the visit would underline what he described as a "guiding principle" for China's relations with neighbours, which had been outlined at the October 18-24 Party Congress in Beijing. The congress affirmed Xi's status asthe leader of the party ahead of his second term, and also enshrined his ideological contribution into the party constitution.
      Chen highlighted what he described as the situation in the disputed South China Sea "moving towards relaxation", and said this was part of Xi's "guiding principle" of "neighbourhood diplomacy with Chinese characteristics for a new era", adding that the "progress" in the South China Sea "shows countries in the region have the willingness, wisdom and ability to properly handle the South China Sea issue."
      In a thinly veiled comment aimed at the United States, Chen added that China "hopes countries outside the region can look at the positive progress in the South China Sea situation in an objective manner" and help maintain peace and stability in the region.
      On Xi's first visit after the congress, he said it "will help open neighbourhood diplomacy with Chinese characteristics for a new era, the goal of which is to foster a new type of international relations and build a community of shared future for mankind. This will be the overall direction for neighbourhood diplomacy for China in the next stage."
      "President Xi also elaborated on China's neighbourhood diplomacy focusing on the principle of sincerity, amity, inclusiveness and mutual benefit, and neighbourhood diplomacy aimed at building partnerships and friends with neighbours. We have been following this concept past few years in cooperation with neighbours and in deepening our political mutual trust. This is a guiding principle."
      On relations with India, Chen said, "India is an important neighbour of China. China attaches great importance to relations with India. We are ready to work with India to promote constant progress of bilateral relations guided by neighbourhood diplomacy with Chinese characteristics for a new era."
      But whether this will see any change in the recent tensions in relations is unclear. Only on Thursday, China for the second year running blocked an application to designate the Pakistani terrorist Masood Azhar at the UN Security Council sanctions committee.
      Prime Minister Modi and Xi in September agreed to adopt "a forward looking" approach to the relationship, as they met in Xiamen, China at the BRICS Summit after the August 28 disengagement after a 72-day border stand-off at Doklam near the India-China-Bhutan trijunction.
      On Thursday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said both India and China had "properly settled this issue through diplomatic means consistent with our common interest." "We hope India can follow historical conventions and work with China to ensure peace and tranquility of the border area," spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters.

    Business Affairs

    Torrent Pharma to acquire India biz of Unichem for Rs 3,600 crore
    • In a major consolidation move in the domestic pharma sector, drug firm Torrent Pharmaceuticals today said it will acquire the branded business of Unichem Laboratories in India and Nepal for Rs 3,600 crore.
      Unichem's business under consideration comprises a portfolio of over 120 products, manufacturing plant at Sikkim catering to these two markets and all the employees engaged in it, Torrent Pharmaceuticals said in a filing to the BSE.
      "The transaction is on going concern basis by way of slump sale", it added.
      The company had earlier in December 2013 announced its decision to acquire Elder Pharmaceuticals' branded domestic formulations business in India and Nepal for a consideration of around Rs 2,000 crore.
      In the biggest such deal in the domestic drug sector, pharma major Sun Pharmaceutical Industry had announced in April 2014 that it would acquire troubled rival Ranbaxy in an all-stock transaction worth USD 4-billion that included USD 800 million debt.
      Earlier today, Torrent Pharmaceuticals reported a 1.44 per cent dip in its consolidated net profit to Rs 204 crore for the second quarter ended September.
      The company had posted a net profit of Rs 207 crore in the same period a year ago, Torrent Pharmaceuticals said in a BSE filing.
      Consolidated revenue from operations stood at Rs 1,429 crore for the quarter under consideration as against Rs 1,429 crore for the corresponding period of the previous fiscal, it added.
      Shares of Torrent Pharmaceuticals today closed 0.76 per cent lower at Rs 1,315.30 per scrip on BSE.

    Mobile service providers, banks must clearly state last date to link Aadhaar, says Supreme Court
    • While hearing the Aadhaar case on Friday, Supreme Court refused to pass any interim order in the matter saying that final hearing in all Aadhaar-related issues would start before another bench in the last week of this month and the Centre has already extended the deadline till December 31. The apex court also pulled up telecom providers and banks for sending threatening messages regarding Aadhaar linking and that they must mention the last date in the messages sent by them to their customers.
      "We make it clear that in the messages sent by banks and telecom service providers, the date of December 31, 2017 and February 6, 2018, shall also be indicated as the last date of linking Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile numbers," the bench said.
      On October 30, the Supreme Court handed the Aadhaar-related matters to constitution bench for hearing in the last week of November. Several petitions challenging the Centre's move to make Aadhaar card mandatory for availing various services and benefits of welfare schemes have been filed in the apex court.
      Some petitioners even termed the linking of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) number with bank accounts and mobile numbers as "illegal and unconstitutional".
      However, on October 25 Centre told the top court that the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to receive benefits of government schemes has been extended till March 31, 2018 for those who do not hold the 12-digit unique biometric identification number and were willing to enroll for it.
      Aadhaar has been at the centre of controversy for some time now. Lately, a nine-judge constitution bench of the apex court had held that Right to Privacy was a Fundamental Right under the Constitution. Several petitioners challenging the validity of Aadhaar had claimed it violated privacy rights.
      In fact, they also objected to the CBSE's alleged move to make Aadhaar card mandatory for students appearing for examinations, a contention denied by the Centre.  
      According to one of the counsel representing the petitioners, government "cannot compel" citizens to link their Aadhaar with either bank accounts or cell phone numbers.

    Punjab National Bank net profit grows 2% YoY in Q2'18 as bad loans decline
    • Punjab National Bank (PNB) posted net profits to the tune of Rs 561 crore in the second quarter of current fiscal beating expert estimates. The second biggest public sector bank in India saw its net profit rise by 2 per cent in the September quarter as compared to the corresponding period last year and more than 63 per cent against the June quarter of the current fiscal. Operating profits posted by PNB in Q2'18 rose by 20 per cent Y-o-Y to end at Rs 3279 crore.
      The rise in PNB profits beating analyst estimates could be attributed to decrease in the bank's bad assets. PNB saw its gross NPA ratio reduced to at 13.31 per cent during Q2 in 2017-18 in comparison to 13.63 per cent seen at the end of September 2016. The bank's net NPA ratio slid to 8.44 per cent in this quarter from 9.10 per cent recorded at the end of September quarter last year. PNB claimed in a statement to have contained slippages during the September quarter.
      The net interest income for Q2 FY18 stood at Rs 4015 crore, showing a 3.5 per cent Y-o-Y growth, whereas the non-interest income for the same period amounted to Rs 1906 crore, with a 5.4 per cent growth.
      PNB also managed to cut its operating expenses by 10.6 per cent, spending Rs 2642 crore between July and September this year, as compared to Rs 2956 crore seen for the corresponding period last fiscal. Its total income during the September quarter of 2017-18 was up at Rs 14,205.31 crore as against Rs 13,638.64 crore in the year-ago period.
      The global business for PNB brought in Rs 10.46 lakh crore in Q2 FY18 with an increase of 8 per cent as against Rs 9.68 lakh crore seen last year. Global deposits alone for the bank stood at Rs 6.36 lakh crore, growing at 10.7 per cent from Rs 5.74 lakh crore for Q2 FY17. Bank's global credit rose year-on-year by 4.5 per cent, whereas domestic credit increased by 8.3 per cent, according to a statement by PNB.
      Additionally, the board of directors of PNB has given the green signal to the bank management to partially sell its stake in PNB Housing Finance Ltd. But for now, PNB Finance Housing Ltd will continue to be one of the core associates of PNB.
      Meanwhile, PNB shares rose to the day's high of Rs 211.95, growing 8 per cent, after its Q2 results came out. 

    Sensex closes shy of 33,700 mark, Nifty rises 28 points; banking stocks lead gains
    • The Sensex closed 112.34 points or 0.33 percent higher at 33,685 points, shy of the 33,700 level on gain in banking stocks. The BSE Sensex rose to its highest ever level of 33,733 level in intra-day. The Nifty rose 28 points to 10,452 level. Banking and capital goods stocks were in focus as the BSE capital goods index and BSE bankex rose the most among sectoral indices. While the capital goods index rose 201 points to 18,601 level, the bankex rose 289 points to 29,092 level.  Among banks, Punjab National Bank (5.07 percent), Axis Bank (1.87 percent), IndusInd Bank (2.78  percent), SBI (3.57 percent) and YES Bank (1.79 percent) were among the top gainers on the BSE. Bank Nifty closed 223 points higher at 25650 level. We look at key developments, which are affecting the market today.
      15:40 pm: Realty firm Godrej Properties reported a 91 per cent rise in its consolidated net profit at Rs 44 crore for the quarter to September. Net profit stood at Rs 23 crore in the year-ago period. Total income increased to Rs 536.08 crore in the second quarter of this fiscal, from Rs 359.04 crore in the same period of the previous year.
      15:34 pm: Hindalco Industries, an Aditya Birla Group company, posted a 11 per cent fall in standalone profit at Rs 392.8 crore in Q2 against a net profit of Rs 439.7 crore in the corresponding quarter of previous fiscal. "Net profit for quarter before exceptional items was at Rs 461 crore. Exceptional items (post tax adjustment) were Rs 68 crore. Reported net profit after adjustment for exceptional items (is) Rs 393 crore," Hindalco Industries said.
      15:33 pm: BSE IPO index drops 0.37 percent, power index down 0.35 percent, oil and gas index falls 0.16 percent, IT index dips 0.04 percent.
      15:31 pm: Amtek Auto hits upper circuit, closes 20 percent higher at Rs 29.70 on the BSE . Multinational firm Bharat Forge said it has also participated in in the process of buying the debt-laden  Amtek Auto along with other potential bidders.
      15:29 pm: GMR Infrastructure, Jaiprakash Associates and Punjab National Bank are among the top traded stocks by volume on the NSE.
      15:14 pm: Tata Power Co net profit falls about 44% on lower income from its power generation business. Stock trading 0.12 percent higher on the BSE.
      14:55 pm: Reliance Nippon Life Asset Management will make its stock market debut on Monday. The company's IPO was subscribed 81.54 times during October 25-27.
      14:34 pm: Power Finance Corporation reports Rs 1,886 crore net profit in Q2.
      12:54 pm: HEG Ltd hits upper circuit of 5 percent at 1840 level on the BSE after the firm logged net profit of Rs 114 crore in Q2 of the current fiscal. The firm had reported net loss of Rs 14 crore in the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal. HEG is a premier company of the LNJ Bhilwara group and manufactures graphite electrodes. It has one of the largest integrated graphite electrode plants in the world, processing sophisticated UHP (Ultra High Power) electrodes.
      12:41 pm: Punjab National Bank net profit rises 2 percent to Rs 560.6 crore in Q2, net NPAs at Rs 34,570 crore. Stock rises over 4 percent to 205 level on the BSE. 
      12:09 pm: The Glenmark Pharmaceuticals stock was trading lower after the drug firm reported a 4.23 per cent fall in its consolidated net profit to Rs 214.12 crore for the second quarter ended September 30, 2017. The company had posted a net profit of Rs 223.58 crore for the corresponding period of the previous fiscal, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals said. At 12:08 pm, the stock was trading 2.41 percent or 15 points lower at 632 level on the BSE.
      12:00 pm: The Indian rupee was trading at 64.575 level today. The home currency closed at 64.61 against the dollar, down 0.02% from its Wednesday's close of 64.60.
      11:56 am: India has pipped Canada to become the world's eighth-largest stock market by capitalization. This year's 47% surge in market capitalization has helped India seal its position in the $2-trillion club. At $2.26 trillion, the Indian stock market is now bigger than those of Canada and Switzerland. It is 5.3% and 12% behind Germany and France, respectively.
      11:48 am: Deutsche Bank raises target price of Container Corporation of India to Rs 940 from Rs 840; rating 'sell'. Stock trading 0.33 percent lower at 1377 level on the BSE.
      11:39 am: Market breadth was positive with 1,463 stocks trading higher against 977 falling on the BSE.
      11:31 am: Punjab National Bank shares up 1.95 percent to 201 level at 11:31 am ahead of quarterly results today.
      11:28 am: Services industry activity expanded at its fastest pace in four months in October as demand continued to strengthen despite accelerating price pressures. The Nikkei/IHS Markit Services Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 51.7 last month - its highest since June - from 50.7 in September. In July and August, the index was below the 50-mark that separates growth from contraction.
      10:49 am: Hathway Cable rises 19.91 percent on the BSE as the firm reports Rs 14-crore net profit in Q2 against Rs 40 crore loss in Q2 of previous fiscal.
      10:43 am: Jet Airways stock rises over 3.50 percent to 610 level amid rising crude oil prices.
      10:42 am: Lupin announced the launch of its Doxycycline Hyclate Tablets USP, 75 mg and 150 mg having received an approval from the US FDA earlier. Stock trading 1.08 percent lower at 1049 level on the BSE.
      10:07 am: Bharti Airtel (2.15 percent), Axis Bank (1.91 percent),  Larsen and Toubro (1.04 percent) top gainers on the 30-stock Sensex.
      9:53 am: Former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan said the US Treasury should not label India as a "currency manipulator", as the country needs to build forex reserves to protect the economy from surge in outflows. Rajan, currently a professor at University of Chicago Booth School of Business, further said India runs a current account deficit, which could get larger on rise in crude oil prices in international market.
      9:50 am: Footwear retailer Khadim India's initial public offer was subscribed 14 percent on the first day of bidding on Thursday. The IPO, which aims to raise Rs 543 crore, received bids for 7,16,960 shares against the total issue size of 50,73,006 shares.
      9:44 am: The initial public offering (IPO) of New India Assurance was subscribed by 1.07 times on Thursday, the second day of issue, with investors bidding for 12.87 crore shares against 12 crore shares on offer.
      9:41 am: Higher production and strong commodity prices helped Vedanta post a 43 per cent jump in consolidated net profit at Rs 2,036 crore for the July-September quarter. Total income during the quarter increased to Rs 22,466 crore, over Rs 18,154 crore in the year-ago period.
      9: 23 AM: Bharti Airtel rises 3.42 percent or 18 points to 561 level on the BSE.
      9:10 AM: Asian markets are trading mostly higher on the last trading day of the week on the back of better than expected Services PMI numbers from China which came in at 51.2 vs. 50.6.
      In Europe, markets closed mixed yesterday. FTSE closed higher as BoE hiked interest rates for the first time in a decade but signaled at gradual easing in the future. On the earnings front, we saw good numbers coming in from Howden Joinery and Credit Suisse.
      US markets closed higher after the release of tax reform bill which is expected to lower the corporate tax rate to 20%.
      9:05 am: President Donald Trump on Thursday tapped Fed Governor Jerome Powell to become head of the U.S. central bank, breaking with precedent by denying Janet Yellen a second term but signaling a continuation of her cautious monetary policies.

    HAL pitching the country's first civilian aircraft to prospective buyers
    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious Make in India programme is set to get a major boost if the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) finds a buyer for the country's first civilian aircraft - HAL DO-228. The aircraft developed at HAL's Kanpur facility is used by defence forces for more than two decades. HAL is waiting for its first break in the civil aviation space and pitching to airline operators, especially start-up carriers, to buy these aircrafts.

      HAL says that the aircraft has considerably lower list price, operational costs and can land at most regional/small airports in the country. For instance, the price of DO-228 is around Rs 60 crore as compared to an estimated price of over Rs 160 crore for ATR-72. IndiGo, the largest carrier in terms of market share, has signed agreement with French-Italian aircraft maker ATR for the purchase of 50 ATR 72-600s. IndiGo, which primarily operates narrow-body Airbus A320s, will deploy ATRs for regional connectivity.

      A large majority of airlines in India, and even globally, don't buy aircraft. They choose leasing - finance or operational. If the cost of ATR is higher, its leasing cost will also be higher. HAL officials say that the operational costs of ATRs are over Rs 2 lakh per flying hour in comparison to DO-228's Rs 85,000 per hour. The operational expenses of aircraft includes crew cost, maintenance costs, airport infrastructure costs, marketing, landing and parking charges, and distribution costs. HAL says that this aircraft is ideal for start-up carriers.

      To cover these costs, ATRs need to have a minimum occupancy of 70 per cent. The typical seating plan of ATR 72-600 is 70 seats. The operators will have to sell around 50 seats per flight. DO-228, which is made in India turboprop with some imported components and imported engine (from Honeywell), has a seating capacity of 19. "It's not difficult to fill up those many seats. ATRs may not be profitable on regional routes as some operators are expecting," says a HAL official.

      According to HAL, the aircraft requires runway length of 2,100 feet for take-off and 1,800 feet for landing which makes it suitable to operate in almost 99 per cent of airports in India. There are an estimated 450 airstrips and airports in the country. HAL is currently in the process of acquiring certification from the civil aviation regulator DGCA (director general of civil aviation) which is expected by December. 

      Some 140 DO-228s are already operated by defence forces where the aircraft has recorded a clean track record on safety, and has no major complaints on the maintenance side. Depending on the order book, HAL has a capability to produce 10 aircraft annually. HAL says that the biggest hurdle in selling of aircraft is the non-availability of aircraft leasing companies in India. "We are getting responses from operators but they want these aircraft on lease. We are a manufacturer; and cannot do leasing. We are talking to lessors on this issue but since they are foreign entities, they prefer foreign products over us," says a HAL official.

    General Awareness

    India slips 21 slots on WEF Gender Gap index 2017

    • India has ranked 108th out of 144 countries on Global Gender Gap Index 2017 released by World Economic Forum (WEF). This year’s rank marks a drop by 21 places as compared to previous year’s ranking.
      About Global Gender Gap Index/Report:
      • Global Gender Gap report is published annually by World Economic Forum (WEF) since 2006.
      • It reflects the state of gender equality in the countries listed on the index.
      • The report measures gender gap in countries on four thematic dimensions viz. Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment.
      Highlights of Global Gender Gap Report 2017:
      India has performed poorly on three out of the four main dimensions. In Economic Participation and Opportunity India ranked 139th, in Educational Attainment it ranked 112th.
      • In Health and Survival it ranked fourth-lowest in the world at 141st position. Over the past decade, India remained world’s least-improved country in this dimension.
      • However, in the dimension of Political Empowerment, India maintained its position in Top 20 at 15th rank.
      • In India, on an average 66% of women’s work is unpaid, as compared to 12% of men’s.
      • Having closed 88% of gender gap, Iceland has topped Global Gender Gap Index 2017. Iceland has been holding the distinction of being world’s most gender-equal country for nine years.
      • 2017 is the year, during which global gender gap has widened for the first time since Global Gender Gap Report was first published in 2006.Currently, 68% of the global gender gap has been closed, indicating a marginal widening as compared to 2016 when the gap closed was 68.3%.
      Global Gender Gap Index 2017 – Top 10 Countries:
      1Iceland
      2Norway
      3Finland
      4Rwanda
      5Sweden
      6Nicaragua
      7Slovenia
      8Ireland
      9New Zealand
      10Philippines

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