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Current Affairs - 19 November 2017

General Affairs 

Bombay HC threatens to stop railway administration employees' salaries
  • Chief Justice Manjulla Chellur of the Bombay Court was furious when she thundered at the Central Railway administration regarding an old bridge.
    The 136-year-old Hancock Bridge in Mumbai was demolished by the railways exactly two years ago as its height restricted the speed of the trains that passed under it.
    Manjulla said point-blank, "Shall we pass an order saying that if you don't find a solution then you will not draw salaries?"
    The authorities have been dragging their feet on the issue of constructing a new bridge to replace the old one.
    A petition had been filed by activist Kamlakar Shenoy pointing out that people had to walk a very long distance to cross the railway tracks safely. However, many citizens are at the risk of losing their lives since they cross railway tracks to cut some time.
    The division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice MS Sonak said that it was surprised that even though thousands of pedestrians risked their lives every day by crossing the railway tracks in the absence of an alternative, the authorities chose to "turn a blind eye" to the problem.
    "How can you be blind and deaf to the plight of the common man? You cannot just come to court and tell us that this is not possible, that is not possible. Your job is not just to identify the problem, it is also to come up with solutions," the bench said.
    The Mumbai municipal corporation had earlier told the Bombay High Court that it was ready to fund the construction of a new foot over bridge (FoB) and provide the land as well, the railways was still reluctant to take up the construction work.
    But railway authorities say that there is no space for the FoB. However Chellur dismissed the problems of the authorities and asked them to "imagine that it is your own child or your own parent who has to cross over the tracks to reach from one side to another. And then think of a solution".
    The court has now asked the railway officials to come up with a solution by November 22 and inform the court about it.

Gujarat Assembly election: BJP likely to announce Patidar candidate as CM
  • The BJP in Gujarat appears to be on backfoot with the young Patidar leaders rallying against the party and threatening that the entire community might vote against it.
    If sources in the party are to be believed, BJP might announce a clear chief ministerial candidate in Gujarat, and this person could be a Patidar leader. Speculations are rife, it could be deputy chief minister Nitin Patel, senior state party leader Purshottam Rupala, state party president Jitu Vaghani or any other leader who has a standing in the community.
    At the moment, BJP President Amit Shah, has announced that the elections are being fought under the leadership of Nitin Patel and incumbent chief minister Vijay Rupani. It is therefore assumed that this leadership will be repeated if the party comes to power.
    There is no categorical statement that Rupani or Patel will be the CM candidate.
    If the party announces a Patidar face as a CM candidate, it would be a masterstroke to counter the agitation led by Hardik Patel since the last two years.
    This would also be clinching because Congress cannot match this promise. For one, it doesn't have a towering Patidar leader who can legitimately lay claim to the top post. Besides, Congress's top leadership consists of Kshatriya leaders, who are infact seen as Patidars' nemesis.
    Moreover, the Grand Old Party has maintained that it fights elections on party symbol and ideology, not personality cult.
    In effect, the BJP's announcement could possibly topple the Congress's carefully built apple cart.
    "We were expecting the name would be announced by mid-November. Infact, we are surprised it has been delayed. It is now expected Narendra Modi will announce it when he visits Gujarat around November 24," a senior leader from BJP confided.
    Since the last two decades, the BJP has enjoyed electoral support of Patidars. The party has in return a noteworthy line up of Patidars as its top leadership to show for it.
    Gujarat's chief ministers before and after Narendra Modi were Patidars - Keshubhai Patel and Anandiben Patel, respectively.
    However, a year ago, when Anandiben Patel stepped down in October last year, it wasn't taken very kindly by the community. They blamed BJP for her ouster, though she had resigned of her own volition, without any apparent pressure from the party.
    Following her resignation, Mehsana MLA Nitin Patel, who was then the finance minister, was expected to be the CM. He had infact even made an announcement and started celebrations, but this resulted in a big loss of face for him when Rupani's name was announced.
    Patidars are believed to make up about 18% of the electorate and have a sway over nearly 58 seats in the 182 seat Assembly. In Vijay Rupani's cabinet nearly 10 senior and junior ministers belonged to the community.
    Hardik Patel has been leading a movement demanding reservation for the Patidar community under the OBC category. BJP has offered its inclusion for reservation under the Economically Backward Class (EBC), which would not be specific to the Patidars, but would include them.
    This has so far been unacceptable to Hardik's team.
    Congress on the other hand claims to have worked out a formula to give reservation to the party under the OBC. This formula is yet to be made public. If this actually works out, the Patidars may tilt towards the Congress in huge numbers.
    In such a scenario, a Patidar CM candidate of the BJP would atleast split the votes in a community that is known to vote enmasse.

Sonia calls CWC meet on Monday, Rahul Gandhi to be Congress president before Gujarat Assembly election
  • It is now almost certain that Rahul Gandhi will be elevated as Congress president before votes are cast for Gujarat Assembly election. Sources in the Congress say that decks have been cleared to choose Sonia Gandhi's successor in the party.
    Congress president Sonia Gandhi has convened a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) at 10.30 am on November 20. The CWC is expected to approve the election schedule for the party president's post.
    The Congress's election schedule is likely to be of 10-15 days. Rahul Gandhi is one confirmed candidate, who will be filing nomination for the post. If no other party leader files nomination till the last date of doing so, Rahul Gandhi will be elected as Congress president unopposed.
    According to sources, vice-president Rahul Gandhi's elevation as party president will take place before December 2.
    The Congress election committee has sent a tentative schedule, according to which November 21 has been fixed as the date to file nomination and December 1 as the date for withdrawal of candidature. Date of organisational poll is December 8 and counting will be held on December 11.
    The Congress sources said that no other leader has shown intent to enter into a contest against Rahul Gandhi. This equation makes it certain that Rahul Gandhi will be declared Congress president before first vote is polled in Gujarat Assembly election.
    "The Congress Working Committee (CWC) will announce the organisational election schedule. The date of withdrawal of nomination is the day when an announcement will be made that Rahul Gandhi has been elected unopposed as the party's president", said a senior party leader. The Election Commission has set December 31 as the deadline for Congress's organisational polls. Rahul Gandhi has dropped enough hints during his election campaigns in Gujarat that he is ready to lead the Congress as party president.
    The Pradesh Congress committees have already passed resolutions in support of Rahul Gandhi for the new party president.
    Rahul Gandhi's elevation has been deferred several times in the past as he reportedly wished to take the mantle officially after November 19, the 100th birth anniversary of his grandmother and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Gujarat Assembly election: Hardik Patel sets tonight's deadline for Congress over seats, Patidar quota
  • With more people leaving his camp by the day, Patidar leader Hardik Patel seems to be in a hurry to make alliance or break ties with the Congress for Gujarat Assembly election.
    Reports suggest that Hardik Patel has given a fresh deadline of midnight tonight for the Congress leadership to decide on his demands for a separate quota for Patidars in Gujarat and a list of candidates on about two-and-a-half dozen Assembly seats.
    The Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader is said to have given a list of around 30 Gujarat Assembly constituencies, where he wants to field his own candidates. The Congress, on the other hand, is reluctant to accept the demand of leaving out 30 seats to Hardik Patel.
    Gujarat will vote for 182-seat Assembly next month in two phases on December 9 and 14. The last date for filing nomination for the first phase ends on Tuesday. Hardik Patel, reportedly, wants to have clear view by tonight so that if he has to announce his own candidates, he has a couple of days to nominate contestants.
    Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has shown inclination to accommodate Hardik Patel's demand to cash in on anti-incumbency against the BJP government. Hardik Patel has galvanised the Patel community in Gujarat over past two years. This may work in favour of the Congress should Hardik Patel joins the party or announces support to it for Gujarat Assembly election.
    The resurgent Gujarat Congress is already feeling strain in accommodating candidates of newly inducted OBC leader Alpesh Thakor's choice. The party leaders are not in favour of conceding Hardik Patel's demands as they fear it would lead to dissension in the ranks.
    On the other hand, some of the close aides of Hardik Patel including Dinesh Bambhania were in New Delhi yesterday to hold talks with the Congress over seat adjustment for Gujarat Assembly election. The Congress leadership is in the process of finalising the list of candidates for the Gujarat election.
    However, the PAAS leaders are reportedly unhappy as they could not hold talks with senior Congress leaders over accommodating their candidates on Congress's symbol for Gujarat election. With things not moving as per PAAS's calculation, it is reported to have given a deadline to the Congress to come clean on the matter by midnight tonight.
    Dinesh Bamania, convener of PAAS, claimed that Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki initially had a brief meeting with them and told them that there would be a detailed meeting again after the Congress Central Election Committee's meeting got over.
    "However, even after the CEC meeting got over, they have not met us and Solanki is not picking up our calls. This is an insult to us," he said.
    After the waiting, Bamania, after speaking to PAAS leader Hardik Patel, has reportedly given an ultimatum to the Congress to declare its stand on the reservation status within 24 hours or else face opposition. The 24-hour deadline ends tonight.
    This is the second time that Hardik Patel has set a deadline for the Congress this month. Earlier, he had asked the Congress leadership to make up their mind by November 7 on the issue of reservation for Patidars in government jobs and college admissions. But, he withdrew the deadline without Congress making any concrete efforts to persuade him.

Kashmir footballer Majid Arshid gets warm welcome after he quit LeT to return home
  • In a major victory for the armed forces, a college student and footballer Majid Arshid, who had joined the Lashkar-e-Taiba a week ago, has surrendered before security forces .
    Arshid walked into a security camp in south Kashmir on Thursday night and surrendered with his arms and ammunition.
    The college student, a goalkeeper for his local team in Anantnag in south Kashmir, is believed to have turned to militancy after a close friend was killed in an encounter.
    Police was constantly in touch with his friends and family members, urging them to put pressure on Arshid to return home.
    The surrender follows appeals by his parents and Jammu and Kashmir Police. His parents had gone on television and social media to ask him to surrender. A video showing his mother Asiya Khan crying and asking him to come home went viral on social media.
    The return of the terrorist to the mainstream received a warm welcome from both the security forces and political parties in the state as police and army have decided that no case would be registered against the footballer.
    "A mother's love prevailed. Her impassioned appeal helped in getting Majid, an aspiring footballer back home. Every time a youngster resorts to violence, it is his family which suffers the most," tweeted the chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti.
    "I understand the predicament of young boys who have strayed into militancy. Most realise the futility of senseless violence & want to return home and live normal lives with dignity," reads another tweet of Mehbooba.
    Director General of Police SP Vaid also urged all women in Jammu and Kashmir to appeal to their sons, who have joined militancy, to shun the path of violence and return home.
    In a joint press conference by army and police officers in Srinagar, Victor Force commander Major General BS Raju said it was a very brave decision by the 20-year-old to leave the terror group.
    Amid conflicting reports whether Majid Khan had surrendered or was caught, Raju said, "The brave young man, Majid Khan, decided on his own to shun violence and returned to lead a normal life, pursuing his academics and passion for football."
    The Army, he said, merely facilitated his decision.
    "He was neither apprehended nor did he surrender. We only facilitated his return," Raju said.
    The Kashmir Valley's police chief, Munir Khan, said no charges would be pressed against Majid and he would be allowed to join his family.

Business Affairs

Infosys set to open Rs 13,000 crore share buyback on November 30; Narayana Muthy, Nilekani to participate
  • Indian IT behemoth Infosys is all set to launch its Rs 13,000-crore share buyback offer. The Infosys share buyback scheme will open on November 30 and will continue till December 14, as per a statement filed by the compnay with the Bombay Stock Exchange.
    Companies usually opt for share buybacks in order to improve earnings per share and return surplus cash to shareholders, while supporting share price during period of sluggish market condition. Some of the founders and high-profile former executives associated with Infosys have been calling for share buyback for quite some time now so that the surplus capital with the company could be returned to shareholders.
    Now the first ever share buyback in the 36-year long historry of Infosys is expected to see the IT player buying back more than 11.30 crore shares for a price of Rs 1,150 apiece according to a statement by Infosys.
    Going by the BSE filing, Infosys will spend around Rs 13,000 crore to buy back a total of 11,30,43,478 equity share of a face value of Rs 5 from registered shareholders as on November 01, 2017. Reports are that founders Narayana Murthy and Nandan Nilekani will also sell their shares in the buyback.
    In its regulatory filing to the BSE oulining the share buyback dates, Infosys said that the company through letter dated November 16 received observations from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on the draft letter of offer for the buyback.
    The biggest Indian IT company and larger rival of Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), completed a Rs 16,000-crore mega buyback offer earlier this year in May. Other competitors like Cognizant, Wipro and Mindtree had also made similar announcements.
    Infosys went through a period of upheaval earlier this year when the first non-founder CEO of three years, Vishal Sikka, stepped down citing interference from company founders, especially N R Narayana Murthy. The company is in the process of finding and naming a new CEO. Although reports of Ashok Vemuri being named the next Infosys CEO were doing the rounds, he turned down any such plans.
    Meanwhile, Narayana Murthy has exuded confidence in the present Infosys Chairman Nandan Nilekani that he can choose a competent CEO without any help and the company is doing well under him.

Moody's rating upgrade for India: Don't be lured into false belief, says Manmohan Singh
  • The NDA government should not be "lured into false belief" that the economy is out of the wood, former prime minister Manmohan Singh said today, reacting to the Moody's upgradation of India's sovereign credit rating.
    The US-based agency upped India's rating to Baa2 from Baa3 and changed its rating outlook to 'stable' from 'positive', saying the reforms will help stabilise rising levels of debt.
    "I am glad that Moody's has done what they have done but we must not be, I think, lured into false belief that we are out of the woods," he said, reacting to a query on Moody's rating, here.
    The economy needed strong purposeful guidance to move forward at the rate which the government itself says they want the country to move eight to 10 per cent, Singh said on the sidelines of a national seminar on 'Macro Economic Developments in India: Policy Perspectives' organised by the Economics Department of St Teresa's College, Ernakulam.
    His comments came in the wake of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley terming the Moody's upgrading India's sovereign rating after 13 years as "belated recognition" of reforms undertaken.
    Singh also cautioned that the soaring prices of the crude oil could "hurt the fiscal system" of the country.
    "Now the crude oil prices are USD 62-64 whereas few months ago, they were about 40-45. So it can hurt balance of payment. It can also hurt the fiscal system as well," Singh said.
    Asked how different he would have implemented the GST, Singh said there was "undue haste" in implementing the new taxation system and blamed the bureaucracy for its lack of preparedness.
    "Both in administration and implementation, I think there is much to be desired and the very fact that the council has met so many times, they have now reduced rates of 211 items." That showed that there was undue haste in implementation and the bureaucracy had not done its homework, he said.

Larsen & Toubro wins Rs 8,650 crore contract for building Mumbai Trans Harbour Link

  • Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its heavy construction arm of L&T Construction has won order worth Rs 8,650 crore from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). The company mentioned in a BSE filing that the order is for constructing Package 01 and 03 of Mumbai Trans Harbour Link.
    "The proposed Mumbai Trans Harbour Link will serve as an economic gateway to Navi Mumbai connecting to Nhava Sheva Port, the Mumbai Pune Expressway and the Mumbai Goa highway," it added.
    The Mumbai Trans Harbour Link project involves construction of 21.8 km bridge connecting Mumbai mainland with Navi Mumbai. While L&T has secured Package 01 of the contract jointly with IHI Corporation, Japan, it will undertake work under Package 03 on its own.
    The Package 01 will include building a multi-level interchange at Sewri and a 6-lane bridge from Sewri to 10.38 km into the Mumbai bay, a Business Standard report said. This bridge will cross the Sewri mudflats, Pir Pau Jetty and Thane Creek channels, along with country's first of its kind orthotropic steel deck crossing other obligatory navigation channel.
    Under Package 03 of Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, L&T Construction will build a 3.6 km 6-lane bridge at Navi Mumbai connecting National Highway 4B, State Highway 54, as well as interchanges, rail overbriudges and toll plazas.

Bharti Airtel Q2'18 results hit by Jio effect: Net profit falls 76.5% Y-o-Y to Rs 343 crore
  • Moody's Investors Service has withdrawn debt-laden Reliance Communications' corporate family rating, citing a missed scheduled payment related to the company's dollar bond.
    "Moody's has today withdrawn Reliance Communications' (RCom) Ca corporate family rating (CFR) and its negative outlook. At the same time, Moody's has also withdrawn the Ca rating on RCom's senior secured notes," a Moody's statement said.
    According to Moody's website, a CFR applies to all affiliates under the management control of an entity to which it is assigned, whereas obligations rated 'Ca' are highly speculative and are likely in, or very near, default with some prospect of recovery in principal and interest.
    The rating withdrawal follows a default on interest payment on a foreign bond.
    "The semi-annual interest payment on its USD 300 million senior secured bond was due on November 6, 2017. According to the indenture, the company had a seven-day grace period, after which an event of default would occur," Moody's said.
    Giving the rationale behind its latest move, Moody's said it has withdrawn the ratings as it considers a missed scheduled payment either of interest or principal as a "default".
    Earlier this month, RCom had said the company is not paying interest or principal amount for the time being to any lenders or its bondholders in view of the strategic debt restructuring scheme and debt standstill period till December 2018.
    The loss-making company, which has already announced shutting down of its 2G and 3G mobile telephony business by November 30, is saddled with Rs 44,300 crore debt.
    To tide over the problem, it presented what it calls a 'no-loan write-off' plan where lenders are to convert Rs 7,000 crore of debt into equity.
    Lenders are yet to accept the offer of taking 51 per cent stake in the company through a debt swap.
    The 'no-loan write-off' plan also involves repaying of up to Rs 17,000 crore loans out of proceeds of monetisation of spectrum, tower and fibre assets.
    An additional Rs 10,000 crore would be paid by selling real estate in the Dhirubhai Ambani Knowledge City in Mumbai and other properties across eight metros.

    Bharti Airtel signs deal with Ericsson for strategic partnership on 5G technology
    • Swedish telecom gear maker Ericsson today said it has partnered with Bharti Airtel for 5G technology for the telecom giant's India operations.
      "We have MoUs (agreements) with 36 operators globally. In India, we have recently tied up with Bharti Airtel for 5G technology," Ericsson Senior Vice President and Head of Market Area South East Asia, Oceania and India Nunzio Mirtillo told reporters here.
      He, however, did not comment on the financial details of the partnership.
      As part of the partnership with Airtel, Ericsson will work with Bharti Airtel on creating a strategic roadmap for evolution of the network to the next-gen 5G technology, Mirtillo said.
      Ericsson is already a vendor to Bharti Airtel in areas like managed services and 4G.
      Earlier this year, Bharti Airtel had inked a similar pact with telecom gear maker Nokia to expand their partnership to areas like 5G technology standard and management of connected devices.
      Ericsson today showcased the first live 5G end-to-end demonstration here using its 5G test bed and 5G NR Radio.
      This, Ericsson claimed, has an "extremely high throughput and ultra-low latency".
      Mirtillo said the company is committed to the Indian market.
      "The 5G technology showcase has been organised in the direction of creating a robust 5G ecosystem in the country even though 5G network are rolled out by 2020," he added.
      According to Ericsson's estimates, 5G technology -- that will support faster data access -- will enable a USD 27.3 billion revenue potential for Indian telecom operators by 2026.
      "The largest opportunity will be seen in sectors like manufacturing, energy and utilities followed by public safety and health sectors," a report by Ericsson said.
      It added that this will be over and above the revenue generated from traditional services, which is expected to grow up to USD 63 billion by 2026.

    General Awareness

    Qatar named as World’s Richest Country according to IMF’s GDP data

    • GDP Per Capita is a measure of the total output of a country computed by dividing gross domestic product(GDP) by the number of people in the country. In theoretical terms, higher per capita GDP results in to a higher standard of living.
      • Fortune’s rankings are based on the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) October 2017 data.
      • Economy of many of the richest countries (such as Brunei and Qatar) is highly dependent on oil, whereas countries like Iceland and Ireland have strong banking and investment systems.
      • It is to be noted that despite low unemployment and growth in consumption and investment, US did not feature in the Top – 10 richest countries list.
      • Most of the Top 10 richest countries have small populations as compared to countries that are world leader in terms of size of GDP — such as the United States, China and Germany.
      • Besides, many of these Top 10 richest countries have a large number of immigrant workers who contribute significantly to the economy. These immigrant workers do not have resident status and thus are not counted in the GDP per capita calculations.
      Richest Countries in the World – Top 15
      RankCountryGDP Per Capita
      8United Arab Emirates$68250
      10Hong Kong$61020
      11San Marino$60360
      12United States$59500
      13Saudi Arabia$55260
      Quick Facts about Fortune (Magazine):
      • First Issue – 1930
      • Based in – New York, US

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