Current Affairs Current Affairs - 13 November 2017 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 13 November 2017

General Affairs 

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman hails Pakistan's move to allow Kulbhushan Jadhav to meet wife
  • Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today called Pakistan's decision to allow former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav to meet his wife a "good humanitarian gesture."
    Kulbhushan Jadhav, accused of being an agent of India's Research and Analysis Wing, has been sentenced to death for alleged espionage. On Friday, the Pakistan Foreign Office said he would be allowed to meet his wife on "humanitarian grounds." 
    Pakistan previously rejected India's demands for consular access to Jadhav - several times. The United Nations' top court, the International Court of Justice, stayed Jadhav's execution earlier this year.
    "It is a good humanitarian gesture," Nirmala Sitharaman said at a press conference in Ahmedabad, when asked about Islamabad's decision.
    "India is making all efforts to get Kulbhushan Jadhav released from Pakistani prison. India has also approached the International Court of Justice (on the issue)," she said.
    Sitharaman said she learned about Pakistan's decision from the media. "I don't know what is the position on allowing his wife to visit him, but it is a good gesture. It will boost Jadhav's morale in jail."

Not pursuing proposal to introduce Islamic banking in the country, says RBI
  • In a major move, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided not to pursue a proposal for introduction of Islamic banking in the country.
    Replying to an RTI query, the central bank said the decision was taken after considering "the wider and equal opportunities" available to all citizens to access banking and financial services.
    Islamic or Sharia banking is a finance system based on the principles of not charging interest, which is prohibited under Islam. The issue of introduction of Islamic banking in India was examined by the RBI and the government of India, the RBI said.
    "Taking into account, the wider and equal opportunities available to all citizens to access banking and financial services, it has been decided not to pursue the proposal further," the central bank said in its reply to the RTI application filed by a PTI correspondent.
    The RBI was asked to provide details of steps being taken for the introduction of Islamic or interest-free banking in India.
    RAGHURAM-LED PANEL WANTED A CLOSER LOOK
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on August 28, 2014 launched Jan Dhan Yojana, a national mission to bring about comprehensive financial inclusion of all the households in the country.
    In late 2008, a committee on Financial Sector Reforms, headed by former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan, had stressed on the need for a closer look at the issue of interest-free banking in the country.
    "Certain faiths prohibit the use of financial instruments that pay interest. The non-availability of interest-free banking products results in some Indians, including those in the economically disadvantaged strata of society, not being able to access banking products and services due to reasons of faith," the committee had said.
    Later, on the instruction of the central government, an inter-departmental group (IDG) set up in the RBI examined the legal, technical and regulatory issues for introducing interest free banking in India and has submitted its report to the government.
    AN ISLAMIC WINDOW IN CONVENTIONAL BANKS
    The RBI had in February last year sent a copy of the IDG report to the finance ministry and recommended an "Islamic window" in conventional banks for gradual introduction of Sharia-compliant banking.
    "In our considered opinion, given the complexities of Islamic finance and various regulatory and supervisory challenges involved in the matter and also due to the fact that Indian banks have no experience in this field, Islamic banking may be introduced in India in a gradual manner," it had said in a letter to the ministry.
    "Initially, a few simple products which are similar to conventional banking products may be considered for introduction through Islamic window of the conventional banks after necessary notification by the government," the letter said.
    The letter further read: "It is also our understanding that interest free banking for financial inclusion will require a proper process of the product being certified as Sharia complaint will be required both on the asset and liability side and the funds received under the interest free banking could not be mingled with other funds and therefore, this banking will have to be conducted under a separate window."

Three-member Supreme Court bench likely to hear plea for probe into judges bribery case
  • Following huge drama in the Supreme Court last week over a petition seeking SIT probe into the judges bribery case, a three-member bench is likely to hear the plea tomorrow.
    The petition contends that alleged bribes were taken using the names of apex court judges for getting favourable order for a private medical college seeking relaxation in government order that barred from enrolling new students in medical courses.
    The plea filed by advocate Kamini Jaiswal is now listed for hearing before a bench of justices R K Agrawal, Arun Mishra and A M Khanwilkar at 3.30 pm tomorrow.
    WHAT HAPPENED IN SUPREME COURT LAST WEEK?
    A bench of justices J Chelameswar and S Abdul Nazeer had ordered on November 9 that the plea be heard by a five-judge Constitution bench of the senior-most judges of the apex court.
    However, on November 10, in an unprecedented hearing, a five-judge constitution bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra had ruled that "no judge can take up a matter on his own, unless allocated by the chief justice of India, as he is the master of the roster".
    The CJI-led bench had over-ruled the order of Justice Chelameswar directing a Constitution bench hearing, saying, "If any such order has been passed by any bench that cannot hold the field as that will be running counter to the order passed by the Constitution bench."
    The hearing on November 10 had brought the tussle within top judiciary to the fore with the Constitution bench overturning the order of a two-judge bench to set up a larger bench to hear the graft case allegedly involving judges.
    WHAT IS THE CASE?
    The case pertains to a medical admission scam following a government barring 46 medical colleges across the country from admitting new students for their courses citing sub-standard facilities on the campus.
    The scam involves a retired high court judge, a havala operator, promoters of the trust which run the medical college and middlemen. The CBI, in its FIR, lodged on September 19, has named several persons, including former Orissa High Court judge Ishrat Masroor Quddusi, as accused in an alleged corruption case.
    Quddusi, who had also served as a judge in the Chhattisgarh High Court, was arrested along with Lucknow-based Prasad Institute of Medical Sciences' chairman B P Yadav, his son Palash Yadav and three others, for allegedly trying to settle a matter relating to a medical college barred from admitting new students.
    In the showdown over the issue of supremacy in constituting a bench, it was said that the authority of CJI Dipak Misra was allegedly undermined by a bench headed by Justice Chelameswar.
    Justice Chelameswar, who is the senior-most judge after the CJI, had termed the allegations leveled in a CBI FIR as "disturbing" and ordered setting up a bench of five top judges of the court on the petition filed by Jaiswal, who claimed that there were allegations against Justice Misra.

NTRO provides training to various industries to tackle cyber attacks
  • Aiming to provide security to country's major private and public information technology networks, the National Technical Research Organisation has been designated as the agency to help in tackling the cyber security threat in the country.
    "The National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) has been notified as the nodal agency for protecting the critical IT structure from cyber threats such as unauthorized access and disruption," senior NTRO officers told Aaj Tak.
    "The NCIIPC has also been given the mandate to facilitate safe, secure and resilient information infrastructure for critical sectors of the nation including power, banking and rail sectors," the sources said.
    In this regard, the NTRO has been given the task of evolving protection strategies for the industry along with the cooperation strategies for them.
    "The NTRO has also been tasked to issue guidelines, advisories in coordination with the cyber emergency response team and other bodies tasked to look after this domain," they said.
    A source said from the time it was allocated this responsibility, the NTRO has helped in strengthening the vulnerable points of IT infrastructure in over 300 cases.
    NTRO has also joined hands with private sector companies including Quick Heal to receive regular threat feeds from it to identify command and control centres.
    The sources said they have also got in touch with international agencies from Japan, Egypt, Israel and Russia for creating situational awareness and sharing threat intelligence.
    The NTRO, which has so far been a secretive organization, is also in talks with the IITs and other institutes to disseminate information on cyber threats and vulnerabilities.

Chitrakoot Assembly bypoll result: Congress posts convincing win, says winds of change in air
  • The Congress today retained the Chitrakoot Assembly constituency in Madhya Pradesh with its candidate Nilanshu Chaturvedi defeating his BJP rival Shankar Dayal Tripathi by a margin of 14,135 votes. 
    The Chitrakoot Assembly seat fell vacant after Congress MLA Prem Singh, who had won the seat three times, died in May this year. Singh had won the Chitrakoot Assembly seat in 1998, 2003 and 2013, losing to BJP's Surendra Singh Gaharwar in 2008.
    Soon after the win, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, "The winds of change are in the air. Many thanks to the people of Chitrakoot for their faith and trust in the Congress party."
    BJP MP Nand Kumar Chauhan was quoted by ANI as saying, "We fought in Chitrakoot to win but did not succeed... as per the counting pattern, it seems Congress will win" but added that the Chitrakoot results are not reflective of the mood of the state. 
    With the Assembly election in Madhya Pradesh likely to take place in November next year, the results of the Chitrakoot bypoll hold significance for both the BJP and the Congress.
    Voting for the Chitrakoot Assembly bypoll took place on November 9 with the constituency recording almost 65 per cent voter turnout.
    As many as 257 polling booths with VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) machines were set up for the bypoll, said an Election Commission official. 
    Congress MP from Guna Jyotiraditya Scindia, former Union Minister Kamal Nath, Leader of Opposition in Madhya Pradesh Assembly Ajay Singh campaigned for Nilanshu Chaturvedi. 

Business Affairs

Larsen & Toubro beats estimates with 27 percent jump in Q2 profit
  • India's top engineering and construction company Larsen & Toubro Ltd reported a higher than expected 27 percent rise in second quarter net profit, helped by a one-off gain from the sale of a subsidiary.
    Consolidated net profit rose to 18.2 billion rupees ($279.31 million) in the three months ended Sept. 30 from 14.35 billion rupees a year earlier, the company said in a statement on Saturday.
    Analysts on average had expected a net profit of 12.2 billion rupees, according to Thomson Reuters data.
    L&T said it had an exceptional gain of 1.37 billion rupees during the quarter from the sale of the unit.
    The rise in revenue was less spectacular at 6 percent from the year ago period, at 264.47 billion rupees.
    "The accelerated implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) has upset business environment and tripped growth in an economy already beset with twin challenges of attracting investments and adhering to fiscal rectitude," the company said.
    India implemented nationwide GST in July to unify the $2 trillion economy and make it easier for companies to transact across state borders.

Central Railway nets Rs 100.67 crore from ticketless travellers in 7 months
  • The Central Railway (CR) has collected a record Rs 100.67 crore as fine from ticketless travellers from April to October under a special drive carried out by the commercial department, an official said.
    "The Central Railway registered a record ticket checking earnings of Rs 100.67 crore for the period April to October 2017 and credit for this goes to the intensive campaign against ticketless and irregular travellers launched by the commercial department," said the official.
    During the seven-month period, a total of 19.82 lakh cases of ticketless or irregular travel and unbooked luggage were detected by the commercial staff as against 16.37 lakh cases during the corresponding period last year, registering an increase of 21.08 per cent in number of cases, he said.
    An amount of Rs 100.67 crore was realised from them as fine against Rs 80.02 crore during the same period last year, an increase of 25.81 per cent in earnings, he added. The CR has been taking regular steps to provide better services to its bonafide rail users and also to curb the ticketless travel, he said.

ONGC aims to complete HPCL acquisition by March, says Chairman Shashi Shanker
  • The nation's largest energy driller ONGC hopes to complete the acquisition of the state-run oil marketer Hindustan Petroleum Corporation by March, chairman and managing director Shashi Shanker said.
    The ONGC chief also refused to comment on the reported government move to monetise up to 60 per cent of the oil and gas fields developed by it and Oil India to private parties, saying they have not heard anything from the government but read it in newspapers only.
    When announced in July, ONGC, one of the richest PSUs with a mount of cash, had pegged the cost of acquiring the 51.11 per cent government stake for around Rs 32,000 crore, but since then HPCL stock has rallied and there are fears that the oil and gas explorer will have to shell out much more than the initial estimate.
    When completed, ONGC will become the first fully integrated state-run oil and gas company with significant upstream and downstream operations with many refineries and over 14,400 retail outlets.
    On July 19, the cabinet had approved the sale of its 51.11 per cent in the third largest oil retailer and refiner to ONGC as part of its effort to create an integrated energy behemoth and also to meet the hefty Rs 72,500-crore selloff target it had budgeted for this fiscal.
    When asked about the cost-escalation for the deal and how the debt-free ONGC will raise the newly floating cash outgo, Shanker dismissed all such fears.
    "There is an impression that this acquisition decision was thrust on us. That's not the case. It was announced by the finance minister in the Budget and then they consulted us on what we want. We chose HPCL after considering all the pros and cons. We are confident that we'll be completing the deal before March end," Shanker said.
    But he declined to quantify what ONGC will pay to shareholders, citing that it is being evaluated by the advisors to the deal.
    Explaining why they chose HPCL over BPCL, he said, "We've around 15 million tonnes refinery in Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemcials, but we've no retail presence, while HCPL has huge retail presence with over 14,400 outlets, but does not have enough refining capacity. So there is a perfect business sense in choosing HCPL."
    On the reported government move to sell up to 60 per cent stake in producing oilfields and gas fields of ONGC, OIL, he said, "We have not got any such proposal. I too read in the newspapers."
    The move comes as the oil ministry is unhappy with the near stagnant oil and gas production and believes giving out the discovered fields to private firms will help raise output as they can bring in technology and capital.
    It hopes that the move may boost domestic output and help meet the prime minister's target of reducing fossil fuel imports by 10 per cent by 2022. Currently, the country- the world's third-largest crude importer--buys up to 80 per cent of its supplies from overseas.
    It can be noted that after the discovery of the Bombay High oil fields in 1974 and the Bassein gas fields in 1976, the oil and gas behemoth ONGC has not been able to bring in any new major fields into production in the last three decades.
    The country has failed to draw in global oil majors since 1990 despite easing fiscal terms. The only exceptions are Royal Dutch Shell and BP which bought stakes from firms that had won drilling rights.

DLF expects to close GIC deal by Dec; Rs 13,000 cr infusion by Feb
  • Realty major DLF expects the sale of its promoters' stake in its rental arm to GIC for Rs 8,900 crore to be concluded by December and infusion of proceeds into the company by February 2018, a top company official said.
    DLF expects infusion of over Rs 13,000 crore into the company, including Rs 10,500 crore from promoters and another Rs 3,000 crore from institutional investors to maintain the minimum public shareholding norm.
    The country's largest realty firm will use this fund to significantly reduce its debt which stands at over Rs 25,000 crore.
    "DLF's public shareholders have approved the GIC deal. GIC Singapore has also received the CCI approval. The final order is awaited after which the closing process will begin.
    "We are hopeful of concluding this deal and subsequent infusion of funds into DLF within this fiscal year," DLF's Senior Executive Director (Finance) Saurabh Chawla told analysts.
    Promoters will receive the proceeds in this calendar year and will infuse funds into DLF by February 2018, he added.
    In late August, DLF promoters decided to sell their entire 40 per cent stake in DLF Cyber City Developers Ltd (DCCDL) for Rs 11,900 crore.
    This deal included sale of 33.34 stake in the DCCDL to Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC for Rs 8,900 crore and a buyback of the remaining shares worth Rs 3,000 crore by DCCDL. Post this deal, DLF will have 66.66 per cent stake in DCCDL.
    DLF's CFO Ashok Tyagi said the company has started selling its flats from November 1 which was stopped since May because of implementation of the real estate regulatory law RERA.
    The company has an unsold inventory of about Rs 15,000 crore, he added.
    "Out of 15 million sq ft under construction in our residential business, 13 million sq ft will be completed by March next year. Around 8 million sq ft is ready to be handed over to customers shortly," Tyagi said.
    DLF's CFO said that the company would explore the option of developing its land bank in partnership with local builders in locations like Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad but not in Delhi-Gurgaon.
    Chawla also said the company would not enter the affordable housing segment.
    Yesterday, the company reported a 91 per cent fall in consolidated profit at Rs 17.88 crore for the quarter ended September against Rs 198.53 crore in the year-ago period.
    Total income dropped 21 per cent to Rs 1,751.34 crore in the second quarter of this fiscal from Rs 2,225.66 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year.

    RBI remains net buyer of greenback in September, snaps up $1.3 billion
    • The Reserve Bank continued to remain net purchaser of the US currency after it bought USD 1.259 billion in September from the spot market. In the reporting month, the central bank bought USD 3.788 billion, while it sold USD 2.529 billion in the spot market, according to the latest RBI data. In August too, the central bank was net purchaser of 3.226 billion of the greenback, buying USD 4.556 billion and selling USD 1.330 billion in the spot market.
      The RBI intervenes in the foreign market to contain volatility in the rupee and not set a price band. Last year in September, the RBI had net purchased USD 4.649 billion and had sold USD 4.392 billion, while it bought USD 9.041 billion from the spot market. In FY17, it net purchased 12.351 billion of the US currency as it bought USD 71.764 billion and sold USD 59.413 billion in the spot market.
      In financial year 2016, the central bank was again a net buyer to the tune of USD 10.209 billion. In the forward dollar market, the outstanding net purchase at the end of September was USD 31.131 billion, while the net forward purchase at the end of August was USD 32.823 billion, the data showed.

    General Awareness

    India sixth most vulnerable country facing extreme weather events – Report

    • India has ranked as sixth most vulnerable country in the world on Global Climate Risk Index (CRI) 2018 released by Germanwatch (an independent Berlin-based development and environmental organisation).
      About Global Climate Risk Index (CRI) 2018:
      CRI ranks countries in terms of facing extreme weather events.
      • Germanwatch compiles CRI rankings by analysing number of deaths per 100000 inhabitants, extent of financial losses and loss per unit of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of countries.
      • Economic and population data from International Monetary Fund (IMF)was taken into consideration for compiling the rankings.
      • In this latest CRI, only weather related events – storms, floods and temperature extremes (heat and cold waves) – have been taken into consideration. It does not include loss of life and financial losses due to Geological incidents like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or tsunamis as they are not related to climate change and thus are not relevant in this context.
      Highlights of Global Climate Risk Index (CRI) 2018:
      India’s vulnerability of facing extreme weather events has marginally decreased this year, as it ranked at 4th position in last year’s CRI.
      • As per the report, in 2016, India lost maximum number of human lives (2119) and sustained over $21 billion worth loss of properties.
      • In 2016, US suffered the maximum financial loss (over $47 billion).
      • However, it is to be noted that India is not in the list of the top 10 vulnerable nations on CRI if data for long-term i.e.1997-2016 is considered. For 1996-2106, India stood at 12th position in the list.
      • A cursory look at top 10 countries on the index reveals that less developed countries have been more affected by climate change as compared to industrialised countries.
      Global Climate Risk Index (CRI) 2018 – Top 10 Countries:


      1Haiti
      2Zimbabwe
      3Fiji
      4Sri Lanka
      5Vietnam
      6India
      7Chinese Taipei
      8Macedonia
      9Bolivia
      10United States

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