Current Affairs Current Affairs - 14 November 2017 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 14 November 2017

General Affairs 

Narendra Modi in Manila: 10 years after Shinzo Abe mooted idea, Quad coalition takes off at ASEAN Summit sidelines
  • Manila, the venue for 31st ASEAN Summit and capital city of the Philippines, has signaled emergence of a new world order and renewed efforts on the sidelines of the meet to keep the balance of power steady in Indo-Pacific region.
    Though the top leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the US are yet to formally engage in what is being called as quadrilateral alliance or coalition, the talks between the four nations have begun at level of foreign office officials. This indicates widening of their security cooperation under Japan-proposed quadrilateral alliance.
    The meeting between the officials of the four nations at Manila yesterday is being seen as the first major move towards formation of the quadrilateral security dialogue or 'quad'. The deliberations were focused on "common" interests in the region.
    "The officials also exchanged views on addressing common challenges of terrorism and proliferation linkages (read China-North Korea connection) impacting the region as well as on enhancing connectivity," the MEA statement said.
    With the rising might of China in Asia and its assertiveness on global issues, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had proposed the idea of quadrilateral security dialogue (QSD) by widening the scope of the trilateral strategic dialogue (TSD) involving Australia, Japan and the US.
    The TSD began with a series of meetings from 2002 between the three countries with the stated objectives of fighting global terrorism and containing nuclear proliferation. But, the grouping was ostensibly intended to keep a check on Chinese emergence as a dominant world power and a bullying force in the Pacific Ocean region especially in the South China Sea.
    The TSD was elevated to ministerial level talks in 2005 and two years later Shinzo Abe proposed to include India as the fourth partner and change the nature of the dialogue from strategic to security interests.
    Shinzo Abe's proposal to hold the quadrilateral security dialogue involving Australia, India, Japan and the US kicked off in 2007 with the support from the then US Vice-President Dick Cheney, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
    The quadrilateral dialogue also saw joint military exercises of unprecedented scale under Exercise Malabar. The diplomatic engagement too gained momentum making China nervous about the new grouping in the region of its ambitious expansion plans.
    China registered formal protests with each of the quad member countries. China was the lone power in the region left in isolation. But, the Japan PM's idea could not take off to formalisation of a coalition. With the change of leadership in Australia, the quad was junked.
    Kevin Rudd replaced Howard in Australia in 2007 and by 2008, he had unilaterally announced departure from the quadrilateral security dialogue. The QSD ceased. But, Exercise Malabar continued with India, Japan and the US. There is renewed interest shown by Australia joining the annual naval exercise.
    With another change of government in Australia in 2010 when Julia Gillard replaced Rudd as the Prime Minister, things moved favourably for the quad. Julia Gillard favoured enhanced military cooperation with Japan and the US.  
    The India question seems to have been answered now under Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is also in Manila to attend the ASEAN Summit. Finding conditions favourable, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono in October again mooted the idea of quadrilateral dialogue. Taro Kono had indicated that Japan would take efforts for the QSD talks in Manila.
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi is meeting US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of ASEAN Summit. A meeting with Malcolm Turnbull is not yet on the cards, but its possibility cannot be rejected.
    During Modi -Trump and Modi-Abe talks, the issues of "common challenges" are expected to feature prominently. Both, Trump and Abe have been pushing for greater role for India in the Indo-Pacific region.
    Reports suggest that the issue of China's aggressive build up in the South China Sea figured in the meeting of the quad officials yesterday. China's global ambitions and its rapid expansion in the Indian Ocean have been a cause for alarm for all the big geostrategic players.
    India and China are already engaged in rivalry on many fronts including territorial claims and counter-claims. India has perceived China's assertiveness on including the China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor in its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative as a direct challenge to its sovereignty as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
    China has recently acquired a couple of ports at strategic locations in the Indian Ocean warranting a review by India of its naval strategic policy. On the other hand, President Trump has been insisting on deepening India's role in Indo-Pacific region.
    Trump uses the "Indo-Pacific" term so often that it has led to speculations that the US has already prepared its plan to have the quadrilateral security dialogue in place before much long. Only the Narendra Modi government, it seems, has to make up its mind and join, as part of its 'Act East Policy', what could be an effective counter-China block.

Not more than 50,000 devotees allowed at Vaishno Devi shrine: NGT
  • Only 50,000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu to avoid any untoward incident, the National Green Tribunal directed today.
    The green panel also said that a new path to the shrine exclusively for pedestrians and battery-operated cars will be opened from November 24.
    The NGT directed that no horses or mules shall be allowed on the new route to the shrine and these anmimals shall be removed slowly from the old path as well.
    It also directed the authorities to impose a fine (environment compensation) of Rs 2,000 on anyone found littering the roads as well as the bus stop at the nearby Katra town.
    The NGT bench headed by chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar made it clear that if the number of pilgrims exceeds the prescribed 50,000 cap, they will be stopped at Ardhkuwari or Katra town, considering that the Vaishno Devi Bhawan structure cannot accomodate more than 50,000 persons.
    The green panels directions came during the hearing of a plea filed by an activist seeking directions to stop the use of horses and ponies in Vaishno Devi shrine premises in Jammu, prompting the green panel to seek response from the government on the issue.
    The petitioner had expressed concern over the "pollution and danger to public health" caused by indiscriminate use of horses, ponies, mules and donkeys, to carry pilgrims and goods from Katra to the Vaishno Devi temple.
    The directions came while NGT was hearing a plea filed by activist Gauri Maulekhi seeking to remove horses and mules from the path to the shrine, saying it was dangerous for the pedestrians, especially the senior citizens.
    "The new path which was constructed for Rs 40 crore should be positevely opened to public by November 24. No further time will be granted and, in default, appropriate action will be taken against the concerned authorities.," it said.
    Only 50,000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu to avoid any untoward incident, the National Green Tribunal directed today.
    The green panel also said that a new path to the shrine exclusively for pedestrians and battery-operated cars will be opened from November 24.
    The NGT directed that no horses or mules shall be allowed on the new route to the shrine and these animals shall be removed slowly from the old path as well.
    It also directed the authorities to impose a fine (environment compensation) of Rs 2,000 on anyone found littering the roads as well as the bus stop at the nearby Katra town.
    The NGT bench headed by chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar made it clear that if the number of pilgrims exceeds the prescribed 50,000 cap, they will be stopped at Ardhkuwari or Katra town, considering that the Vaishno Devi Bhawan structure cannot accommodate more than 50,000 persons.
    The green panels directions came during the hearing of a plea filed by an activist seeking directions to stop the use of horses and ponies in Vaishno Devi shrine premises in Jammu, prompting the green panel to seek response from the government on the issue.
    The petitioner had expressed concern over the "pollution and danger to public health" caused by indiscriminate use of horses, ponies, mules and donkeys, to carry pilgrims and goods from Katra to the Vaishno Devi temple.
    The directions came while NGT was hearing a plea filed by activist Gauri Maulekhi seeking to remove horses and mules from the path to the shrine, saying it was dangerous for the pedestrians, especially the senior citizens.

    "The new path which was constructed for Rs 40 crore should be positively opened to public by November 24. No further time will be granted and, in default, appropriate action will be taken against the concerned authorities.," it said.

Narendra Modi at ASEAN: Want to make India a global manufacturing hub, says PM
  • In his meeting with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Philippines capital Manila, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said India and the US are working for the "future interests of Asia and humanity". 
    "Relations between India and US are growing. Our relations go beyond; we are working for future interests of Asia and humanity," Modi said in his bilateral meeting with Trump.
    • India has always contributed to world peace. Our contingent in the UN Peacekeeping Forces is among the biggest. India is the land of Mahatma Gandhi, peace is integral to our culture: PM Modi
    • Our efforts are aimed at transforming India and ensuring everything in our nation matches global standards: PM Modi
    • I've come to a nation and a region that is very important for India, says PM Modi at a community program in Manila
    • Speaking at the business meeting in Manila, PM Modi also touted some of his government's major initiatives such as the Jan Dhan Yojna and the focus on digital transactions. 
    • "Most sectors of the Indian economy are open for foreign investment," PM Modi said at the business meeting. "Task of transforming India is proceeding at an unprecedented scale. We are working day and night towards easy, effective and transparent governance."
    • Addressing a business meet in Manila, PM Modi strongly pitched the Make in India project, saying he wants to make the country a "global manufacturing hub".
    • The move to set up the quadrilateral alliance comes in the backdrop of growing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea. The US has been favouring a larger role for India in the strategically important Indo-Pacific region.
    • The two leaders are understood to have discussed the security scenario in the region besides several other issues of mutual interests, including ways to further boost bilateral trade.
    • The meeting in the Philippines capital came a day after officials of India, the US, Japan and Australia held talks to give shape to the much talked about quadrilateral alliance to keep the strategically important Indo-Pacific region free, open and inclusive.
    • The two leaders discussed a range of key issues including defence and security.
    • Trump on Saturday praised India's "astounding" growth after it opened up its economy and also lauded Modi, saying he has been working successfully to bring the vast country and its people together.
    • With an eye on an aggressive China, both India and the US are giving final shape to their security cooperation under the proposed quadrilateral coalition that also includes Japan and Australia.
    •  India, the US, Japan and Australia on Sunday held their first official-level talks with a focus on keeping the Indo-Pacific region "free and open", seen as a move to counter China in the area.
    •  Modi arrived in Manila on Sunday on a three-day visit to the Philippines during the course of which he will attend the 15th India-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and the 12th East Asia Summit on Tuesday.
    •  This year marks the 25th year of the India-Asean dialogue partnership and the golden jubilee of the formation of the Asean regional bloc.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh chairs a high level cyber security meet in Delhi
  • The Union Home Minister on Monday chaired a high-level meet on cyber security. The meeting was held in the North Block. It was attended by MHA officials with a primary focus on security of payment gateways like PayTM and other e-wallets.
    The meeting was to review steps to check cyber crimes in the financial sector, emanating from the increased usage of cards and e-wallets.
    Digital payments in India have increased manifold especially after the Digital India push and demonetisation by the Modi government.
    With the use of digital payments spreading to farthest corners of the country, the need for creating a uniform monitoring and law enforcement mechanism is considered to be the need of the hour. The broad contour of this is being worked out in the home ministry.
    Integration and inclusion of KYC norms to keep an eye on digital slush funds is also said to be part of the meeting's agenda.
    Data access from global servers also remains a key issue in keeping a watch over the payments and use of financial gateways.

In Gujarat, Hardik's is not the only Patel rebellion that Narendra Modi, Amit Shah have faced
  • With election campaign picking up for Gujarat Assembly election, an old video of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is doing rounds on social media. Originally shot for 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the video has a message from the then prime ministerial candidate and it is like: "cast your vote, don't vote your caste."
    Reports say that the Gujarat BJP leaders attributed the vigorous re-circulation of the video to party workers preparing for state Assembly election. It assumes significance in the view that the BJP is facing serious challenges from three young and formidable caste-based leaders in Gujarat.
    Hardik Patel of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani and OBC leader Alpesh Thakor, who has now joined the Congress, have been campaigning for their respective communities and attacking the BJP government for past three years.
    Together the three leaders claim to represent over 70 per cent of voters in Gujarat. This has been a cause of concern for the BJP, PM Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, who have managed to come better of caste-based electioneering in the state for long.
    The first consolidation of castes for an election was seen in Gujarat during 1970s under Madhavsinh Solanki - the father of current Gujarat Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki. Madhavsinh Solanki etched together a winning caste alliance as under KHAM - standing for Kshatriya, Dalit (then called Harijan), Adivasi (the tribals) and Muslim.   The KHAM alliance challenged hitherto dominant Patels in Gujarat politics after they moved away from the Congress during JP movement and emergency period. A power Patel leader, Chimanbhai Patel even joined the BJP. Patels have been the backbone of the BJP in Gujarat ever since.
    The KHAM largely remained with the Congress till the end of last century even though the Congress lost elections after 1995 in Gujarat. The caste calculations gave way to politics of polarisation after Gujarat riots in 2002, when Narendra Modi was the chief minister of the state. But, Modi also had to beat some kind Patel rebellion in all the elections that he fought as the Gujarat chief minister.
    Gujarat riots took place in February and March while the election to the state Assembly was held in December 2002.  The polls were held under polarised environment and the BJP secured its highest ever tally of 127 in the 182-seat Assembly under Narendra Modi, who had resigned in July eight months ahead of his tenure.
    Modi came from OBC community and was made chief minister by a Patel-dominated party. Before Modi became the chief minister of the state which did not have history of a CM lasting his full term of five years. So, by the time of the Lok Sabha elections in 2004, the Patels in the BJP had started raising revolt.
    The disgruntled faction of the BJP was led by former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, who enjoyed backing of some of the senior leaders of the party in Patel dominated Saurashtra and also Kutch. Narendra Modi not only overcame Keshubhai Patel's rebellion but also made moves to break KHAM alliance. In 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP secured 14 of 26 Lok Sabha seats from Gujarat.
    2007 AND 2012 GUJARAT POLLS
    In the run up to the 2007 Gujarat Assembly election, Patel leaders including powerful Gordhan Zadaphia, who was the state home minister during the 2002 riots. Zadaphia had active support of Keshubhai Patel and Congress leaders, some of whom attended the meetings called by the rebel BJP Patel leader.
    The BJP won 117, 10 less than the previous tally in 2007 Gujarat Assembly election. But, by now, Modi had succeeded in breaking the KHAM alliance. He had wooed a section of Kshatriyas with Hindutva politics, tribals with rural development and electrification schemes and presented himself as the icon of Gujarati pride. Assault on Modi was deflected by the BJP under him as attack on Gujarati pride.
    Ahead of 2012 Gujarat Assembly polls, Keshubhai Patel rebelled again. He quit the BJP to form his own the Gujarat Parivartan Party. The Patels seemed to consolidate again against Narendra Modi.
    Modi, who had by now teamed with Amit Shah as election winning machine, returned as the Gujarat chief minister with almost identical number of seats as 2007.  The BJP got 116 seats while Keshubhai Patel's party secured less than 4 per cent votes.
    Hardik Patel is challenging Modi-Shah combination on their home turf this time around. Unlike Keshubhai Patel and Gordhan Zadaphia, Hardik Patel is untested in election. But, he has been pulling huge crowds for two years.
    Challenge to Narendra Modi-Amit Shah looks bigger in the context of similar caste agitation led by Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani. While after joining Congress, Alpesh Thakor might have lost his appeal in the OBC community, which PM Modi, himself comes from, Dalits seem to be rallying behind Jignesh Mevani with the same solidarity.
    To make matter worse, Karadia Rajputs have raised the banner against Gujarat BJP president Jitu Vaghani alleging that he is deliberately targeting the community leaders. The BJP is finding it hard to pacify the community, which is demanding a public apology from Vaghani.
    Apparently Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not doing anything different in Gujarat election campaign. The template for Gujarat polls seems to be the same as far as the BJP and Modi are concerned. Modi is back as the face of the BJP for Assembly election.
    Busy with the affairs of the Centre and international commitments, which have kept PM Modi out of Gujarat for almost past two weeks, he recently wrote an open letter to the voters in the state. The BJP began distributing his letters last week with Amit Shah's door-to-door campaign - Gujarat Gaurav Mahasampark Abhiyan.
    Modi is again seeking votes for development referring to the stage of development under the Congress rule 22 years back. PM Modi has reemphasised the BJP's poll slogan in his letter, "Darek Gujarati No Ek Hi Awaaz: Hun Chhoon Vikas, Hun Chhoon Gujarat (One voice of all Gujaratis: I am Vikas, I am Gujarat)" to counter Opposition's "Vikas has gone crazy" campaign.
    This is a sort of repeat of Modi's "Sauno Saath, Sauno Vikas" (Together with all, development for all) slogan that he used during his tenure as the Gujarat chief minister. His successor Anandiben Patel improved it to "Gatisheel Gujarat" (Dynamic Gujarat), which incumbent CM Vijay Rupani turned into "Pragatisheel Gujarat" (Progressive Gujarat). But, on the BJP posters in Gujarat, it is all over Narendra Modi.

Business Affairs

Jaitley slams Congress for linking GST cut to polls, calls it 'juvenile politics'
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today debunked Congress' claim on GST rate cut on over 200 goods, saying it was "juvenile politics" to link it to any election or political demand. Jaitely said there was a scope for further rationalisation of rate but the course would be decided by revenues that accrue from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) that was implemented from July.
    "This rationalisation is 3-4 month exercise," he said, adding that the GST Council decided on the rate cut on the recommendation of a Fitment Committee.
    The decisions in the GST Council are "all consensus decisions," he said. "This is really juvenile politics to link it with either elections or political demands". The GST Council, which Jaitley heads, had last week brought down tax rate on 178 products from 28 per cent to 18 per cent and pushed down several others in lower bracket. Congress, which has made high tax rates and increased compliance burden in the GST regime an election issue in the run up to the assembly elections in Gujarat, claimed credit for the move. Its Vice President Rahul Gandhi had demanded a single rate of up to 18 per cent GST tax as against 0, 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent slabs currently.
    Explaining the rationale for the rationalisation in rates of goods and services that have been done after the launch of the GST in July, Jaitley said the principle objective is that the transition has to be smooth and not abrupt. He said almost every item is better off than it was in July 1.
    "Those who are speaking of a single rate GST have no understanding of the tariff structure. Food items have to be taxed at Nil. Common man items have to be taxed at the lowest range of 5 per cent. "Luxuy goods, sin products and products hazardous to environment and health cant be taxed at the same rate as aam admi (common man) product. So, wheat, rice, sugar cant be taxed at the rate as Mercedes car or yacht or tobacco," he said.
    Without taking any names, he said those who speak of single rate have "no elementary understanding" of GST. He, however, said there is a scope for rationalisation of rate. In 4 months we have rationalised the 28 per cent slab. Such rationalisation (will happen in future) depending on revenue buoyancy will take place," he said. He went on to reel out the benefits of GST saying there is a single rate for products across the country, all inter- state barriers have gone and inspectors have disappeared. "You only have to address software (issue with filing of tax return). I think there is already a net advantage in medium and long term, smooth and a larger market and revenue buoyancy," he said.
    Jaitley said the government expects all the tax rate benefit to be passed on to consumers, helping bring down inflation. "This is the advantage of an efficient tax system." "Rationalisation process in the transition will always continue. So, wherever there is scope for improvement and procedural simplification will always continue," he said. As the transition from over a dozen central and state levies to a single GST, the Council has been very pragmatic and flexible. "It has not been rigid. We react to market realities," he added. On the decision of lowering tax on food bill in restaurants to 5 per cent from 18 per cent previously, the finance minister said the Council has taken a tough decision to deny the restaurant owners the right to set off tax paid on inputs from the tax on products as they had "unfairly" "pocketed" tax credit and did not pass on the credit to consumers.
    After the November 10 decision of the GST Council, Gandhi said the Congress will continue to fight for a lower 18 per cent tax for all products. "India need a simple GST, not a Gabbar Singh Tax. People of India and the Congress fought to bring down the rates of many items under the 28 per cent slab. Our struggle will continue to have a single rate and an 18 per cent cap. If the BJP doesn't do it, Congress will show how to do it," he tweeted on November 11.
    Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said, "Ministry of Finance must be complimented for 'improving' macro-economic situation in 4 months and 10 days! This is the time taken for common sense to germinate, flower and ripen into a fruit". He said on November 10 that "Gujarat elections did what Parliament and common sense could not do".

Crude shock, Jio jolt: Reliance Industries lost Rs 50,000 crore market value in 13 days
  • The crude price rise and slowing customer addition in its telecom network put pressure on Reliance Industries (RIL), India's largest company by markets value. In November so far, billionaire Mukesh Ambani promoted RIL has lost about Rs 50,000 crore on Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). The share price fell by over 8 per cent in the first 13 days in November and closed at Rs 874.90 on Monday. The market value of the company stands at Rs 5.53 lakh crore now.
    The crude may have short term impact on the company's prospects because of the lags in product price realisation. It is essentially that the price of petroleum products won't rise in parallel to crude price. The brent crude price has risen by over $10 a barrel since September and it stands at over $63 on Monday. The experts say that the prices of petroleum products increase with a lag of minimum two weeks compared to crude price movement. In some cases, the prices of products (including petrochemical products) won't rise in parallel, because of the fears around reduction in demand.
    Usually, the companies in hydrocarbon exploration and production (E&P) will benefit out of the crude price rise. But RIL has no advantage at this side as its oil and gas production, including from its largest Krishna Godavari (KG) basin, fell to a nominal size because of the geographical complexities in the exploration region.
    In another short-term hassle, the company's heavy-debted telecom venture Reliance Jio has started to witness a slowdown in subscriber additions while it continues to gain market share. The data of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) showed that Jio added 4.09 million customers in August. This is the second-lowest monthly incremental growth for the company since its launch about a year back. Till January 2017, Jio added over 16 million subscribers every month. In February, subscriber addition dropped to 12 million and then it halved to 5.83 million by March, before touching an all-time low of 3.87 million in April. The numbers picked up in May after the new offers were announced by the company.
    After subscriber addition slowed down, Jio announced cashbacks of up to Rs 2,599 under its triple cashback offer on recharge of Rs 399 or above. The offer was made available for all Jio Prime subscribers from November 10 and will last till November 25. The rival Bharti Airtel had launched a full cashback during Diwali.

With spike in food, vegetable prices, retail inflation hits seven-month high
  • The retail inflation rose up to seven-month high to 3.58 in October due to the high prices of food items, especially vegetables, eggs, milk and their products, and tobacco products and housing sector. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) and the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, in a latest report, said the Consumer Price Index (CPI) based inflation was 3.28 per cent in September, 4.2 per cent in October last year. The previous high was 3.89 per cent in March this year.
    The CSO data says the October inflation for the food basket increased to 1.9 per cent. It was 1.25 per cent in September. The rate of price rise in the vegetable segment almost doubled to 7.47 per cent as against 3.92 per cent in September.
    Higher inflation was also noted in protein rich items like oils and fats, eggs, and milk (and its products). However, fruits were comparably cheaper in October on sequential basis. Inflation in pulses continued to decline and settled at (-) 23.13 per cent. It was (-) 22.51 per cent in September. The inflation for sugar and confectionery items increased and settled at 6.75 per cent. Spices saw some decline in price and settled at (-) 2.15 points.
    Pan, tobacco and intoxicants saw high inflation and settled at 6.91 per cent. Clothing and footwear (4.76), housing (6.68), and fuel and light (6.36) were costlier on sequential basis. Cereals and products also saw 3.68 per cent inflation.
    All eyes will be on the current fiscal's sixth bi-monthly meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee, headed by RBI Governor Urjit Patel, on December 5-6. Retail inflation, a key input for RBI in setting the key interest rate, has been rising consistently since June amid a slowdown in factory output measured on Index of Industrial Production (IIP).

GST rate cut: Stocks that are likely to benefit the most from Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's move
  • The GST rate cut announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday is likely to benefit FMCG stocks and lead a revival for the sagging market.
    The move has come as a relief for many consumers and companies hit hard by the allocation of specific goods to the 28 per cent tax bracket.
    As many as 178 items of daily use were shifted from the highest tax bracket of 28 per cent to 18 per cent. In the services segment, the tax rate was reduced to 5 per cent for all restaurants, both air- conditioned and non-AC while food bills in restaurants of starred hotels will be taxed at a higher rate, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said after the GST Council meeting in Guwahati.
    The new tax slabs will come into effect from November 15. The all-powerful GST Council reduced the number of items in the top 28 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) slab to just 50 from 228 that were put on the list until now.
    Only luxury and sin goods such as cigarettes and sugary drinks remain in the highest tax bracket and items of daily use of the middle-class have been shifted to the 18 per cent slab.
    Chewing gum, chocolates, coffee, custard powder, marble and granite, dental hygiene products, polishes and creams, sanitary ware, leather clothing, artificial fur, wigs, cookers, stoves, after-shave, deodorant, detergent and washing power, razors and blades, cutlery, storage water heater, batteries, goggles, wrist watches and mattress are among the products on which tax rate was cut from 28 per cent to 18 per cent. Brokerage Motilal Oswal has listed the following stocks which are likely to benefit from a GST rate cut. 
    Beneficiaries of rate reduction from 28% to 18%
    Consumer Products
    Shampoo, deodorants & other toiletries - HUL, ITC Detergents - HUL, Jyothy Labs Hair cream & dyes - Godrej Consumers Liquid or cream for skin washing - Colgate Instant coffee - Nestle, HUL Chocolates, chewing gums, malt extract, food preparation of flour - GSK Consumer, ITC, HUL Shaving & razor blades - Gillette, HUL Watches, goggles - Titan Luggage - VIP Industries, Safari
    Capital goods
    Fork lifts, lifting and handling equipment, bulldozers, excavators, earth moving machinery, escalators - Larsen & Tubro, BEML
    Home building
    Marble and granite tiles & ceramic items - Kajaria Ceramics, Somany Ceramics, Asian Granito Wooden furniture - including plywood, veneered panels and laminated wood - Century Ply, Greenply Mattress, bedding articles and similar furnishing items - Bombay Dyeing Sanitary wares -  Cera Sanitaryware Limited
    Rubber tubes and articles of rubber - MRF, Ceat, Apollo Tyres, JK Tyres
    Beneficiaries of reduction of tax rates in other slabs
    Light electricals
    Fans, pumps & lamps - Crompton Consumer, Havells, Orient Electric, Bajaj Electricals Switches - Havells Cables & wires - Havells, Finolex Cables, V Guard Primary cell & batteries - Eveready Industries

    18% slab to 12% slab
    Condensed milk - Nestle, Parag Milk Foods Refined sugar and sugar cubes - EID Parry, Balrampur Chini, Shree Renuka Pasta & diabetic food - Nestle, ITC Other - 18% slab to 12% Slab Spectacles frames - Titan
    28% slab to 5% slab
    Aircraft engines, aircraft tyres & seats - InterGlobe Aviation, Jet Airways, SpiceJet

    Qualcomm turns down Broadcom's $103-billion acquisition bid
    • Mobile chipmaker Qualcomm Inc on Monday rejected rival Broadcom Ltd's $103-billion takeover bid, saying the offer "dramatically" undervalued the U.S. company.
      Shares of Qualcomm were up 1 percent at $65.25 in premarket trading, while those of Broadcom fell 0.7 percent to $263.
      "After a comprehensive review, conducted in consultation with our financial and legal advisors, the Board has concluded that Broadcom's proposal dramatically undervalues Qualcomm and comes with significant regulatory uncertainty," Qualcomm's Presiding Director Tom Horton said in a statement.
      Broadcom made an unsolicited bid last week in its efforts to become the dominant supplier of chips used in the 1.5 billion or so smartphones expected to be sold around the world this year.
      Reuters reported on Sunday that Qualcomm would rebuff the $70 per share offer, citing people familiar with the matter.
      Broadcom could not immediately be reached for comment.
      The offer also comes at a time when Qualcomm is trying to close its pending $38-billion acquisition of automotive chipmaker NXP Semiconductors NV.
      Broadcom has indicated it is willing to buy Qualcomm irrespective of whether it closes the NXP deal.
      A sale to Broadcom would also need a nod from the antitrust officials, who are still considering Qualcomm's purchase of NXP.
      Qualcomm, an early pioneer in mobile phone chips, supplies so-called modem chips to phone makers such as Apple, Samsung and LG that help the phones connect to wireless data networks.
      "No company is better positioned in mobile, IoT, automotive, edge computing and networking within the semiconductor industry," Qualcomm's Chief Executive Steve Mollenkopf said.
      "We are confident in our ability to create significant additional value for our stockholders."

    General Awareness

    India to be 3rd largest aviation market by departure by 2019

    • As per a report by global consultancy and research firm, Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), India will be world’s third largest aviation market for departures by 2019.
      Highlights of report by Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA):
      Currently, India is the fourth largest aviation market in the world with 131 million passengers per annum (for the year 2016).
      • US is the largest aviation market with 815 million passengers, followed by China (490 million passengers) and Japan(141 million passengers).
      • However, the report has cautioned that Indian airports are ill-prepared to handle the increase in passengers.
      • It is estimated that Indian airport system would exceed its maximum structural capacity by FY 2022. This could happen much sooner if work on the new airport projects gets delayed.
      • In aviation parlance, quantum of maximum passengers an airport can handle if all the possible infrastructure and operational improvements are carried out is referred to as maximum structural capacity.
      • The report has outlines that airports of Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai are at the highest risk of saturation whereas smaller airports like Agartala, Guwahati, Kozhikode, Lucknow and Pune are already operating beyond their design capacity.
      • Over the next five years, to cater to the rising passenger flow, Indian airlines operator would induct nearly 350-400 aircraft in their existing fleet. This will further create new problems such as availability of arrival/departure time slots and parking bays.
      • It has been estimated that 55 new airports will be required by 2030, which would need 150000 to 200000 acres of land and will entail USD36-45 billion of investment.
      Indian Aviation Market (Arrivals+Departures) – Growth Forecast:
      • In context of arrivals plus departures, Global airlines’ body International Air Transport Association (IATA) has projected that India will become the third largest aviation market by 2025.
      • However, looking at the current trend, CAPA estimates that India will climb up to the third spot (for arrivals+departures) by the end of 2022-23.
      • For 2022-23, Indian airports will serve over 460 million fliers, up from 265 million in 2017-18.

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