Current Affairs Current Affairs - 09 December 2017 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 09 December 2017

General Affairs 

Insurgency In North-East Has Come Down By 75-80 Per Cent, Says Rajnath Singh
  • About 75-80 per cent insurgency problems in the northeast has come to an end, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said today.

    At a 'Sainik Sammelan' at the Assam Rifles Training Centre in Nagaland, he said the country's oldest paramilitary force has been carrying out an exemplary dual service of guarding the porous 1,642-km long Indo-Myanmar border and counter insurgency operations.

    "I can tell you that 75 to 80 per cent of the insurgency problems in the northeast has come to an end," he said.

    Mr Singh also highlighted the difficult task of Assam Rifles of guarding an "open border", where a free movement regime is also in place for uninterrupted travel to each other's territories by people of both the countries.

    "It is a difficult task for you as Myanmar is a friendly country. You have to take care of the diplomatic sensitivity so that our relations do not hamper," he said.

Pakistan To Give Visa To Kulbhushan Jadhav's Mother, Wife, Says Sushma Swaraj
  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said today Pakistan has conveyed to India that it will give visas to the mother and wife of Kulbhushan Jadhav, sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism.

    In Islamabad, a Pakistan foreign office spokesperson said it will allow convicted Indian death row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav to meet his wife and mother on December 25.

    Ms Swaraj said Pakistan had earlier agreed to give a visa only to Jadhav's wife but India asked that a visa should also be given to his mother.

    "We also raised concern about their safety and security in Pakistan. Government of Pakistan has conveyed that they will give visa to the mother and wife of Kulbhushan Jadhav," Ms Swaraj tweeted.

    The minister also said she has spoken to Mr Jadhav's mother, Avantika Jadhav, and informed her about it.

    Mr Jadhav, 47, was given death sentence by a Pakistani Army court in April, following which India moved the International Court of Justice in May. The ICJ halted his execution on India's appeal pending the final verdict by it.

Centre To Announce Next 10 Smart Cities' By January-End
  • The Centre will announce the next set of 10 cities for funding under the Smart City Mission by January-end, a top official said today.

    The Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry has till now announced the names of 90 cities under the scheme and each city will get Rs. 500 crore as central assistance for implementing projects.

    The government aims to develop 100 smart cities under the scheme. "The process is on. We have received the proposals from the cities. Next 10 cities will be announced by January-end next year," Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary D S Mishra told reporters on the sidelines of an event in New Delhi.

    The ministry has received proposals from 15 cities for the fifth and the final round of the mission, while five cities have not submitted their plans, an official said.

    Some of the cities that have sent their proposals include Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), Biharsharif (Bihar), Amravati (Maharashtra), Erode and Dindigal (Tamil Nadu), and Uttar Pradesh's Moradabad, Meerut, Saharanpur, Bareilly, Rampur, Rae Bareli and Ghaziabad, the official said.

    Silvasa (Dadra and Nagar Haveli), Kavarati (Lakshdweep) and Diu (Daman and Diu) have also sent their proposals.

    The official said that Bidhannagar, Durgapur and Haldia in West Bengal, Shillong in Meghalaya and Greater Mumbai in Maharashtra have not submitted their proposals under the scheme.

    The West Bengal government has already announced that it would not participate in the Centre's Smart City programme.

Supreme Court Seeks Detailed Report For Long-Term Protection Of Taj Mahal
  • The Supreme Court today sought a detailed and comprehensive document to protect the medieval era monument Taj Mahal for at least the next 100 years.

    Terming as "ad hoc", the measures enumerated by the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) authority in its affidavit, a bench headed by Justice M B Lokur said the document submitted was interim in nature and some long-term plan was needed for protection and preservation of the historical Mughal-era mausoleum.

    TTZ is an area of about 10,400 sq kms spread over the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur in Rajasthan.

    Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta placed an affidavit stating the measures to be taken for the protection and preservation of the Taj.

    A number of measures have been proposed including ban on construction activities within 500 metres from the monument, plying of only CNG vehicles near Taj, sufficient supply of electricity to discourage use of generator sets and complete prohibition of burning of waste and garbage.

    The top court posted the matter for hearing after eight weeks.

    Environmentalist M C Mehta, who had filed a plea seeking protection of the Taj from the ill-effects of polluting gases and deforestation in and around the area, had earlier told the bench that the TTZ was an "ecologically sensitive area" and the government should have come out with a comprehensive policy for preservation and protection of the Taj.

    The apex court, which is dealing with Mehta's petition, has been monitoring development in the area to protect the Taj Mahal, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal in 1631. The mausoleum is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

From January, Trains To Get Aircraft-Type Bio-Vacuum Toilets
  • Stinking and non-functioning toilets on Indian Railways -- one of the world's largest rail networks -- may soon become a thing of the past. The national transporter is upgrading its bio-toilets to imported bio-vacuum toilets -- the kind found in aircraft -- an official said. The first 100 coaches with the new toilets will be attached to important trains like Rajdhani and Shatabdi and would be rolled out from January 2018.

    "These bio-vacuum toilets will be odour-free and cut down water usage by over one-20th," he said.

    The official also said that the Chennai-based Integral Coach Factory (ICF) will roll out the first 100 coaches fitted with bio-vacuum toilets and that these will be attached to premium trains like the Rajdhani and Shatabdi expresses.

    He also said there would be lesser chances of such toilets getting blocked.

    The railways' initiative to upgrade the existing bio-toilets came after pesistent complaints from passengers that these were getting blocked due to dumping of waste such as plastic bottles, paper and the like in the toilet pot.

    Explaining the need of shifting to bio-vacuum toilets, the official said: "Saving water is a priority for the railways."

    "In bio-toilets, the water requirement per flushing is up to 15 litres. And the water doesn't generate enough pressure to discharge the waste from the pots, resulting in a foul smell and blockage of the pot.

    "The bio-vacuum toilet only requires about half a litre of water and all the waste is cleared through suction," the official said, adding these had been tried out on a pilot basis in some trains.

    The official said that the manufacturers of the bio-vacuum toilets have assured railways that the fabrication units would be set up in India.

    Before the introduction of bio-toilets, lack of cleanliness on Indian trains, particularly in the toilets, was always a big issue. Until then, trains had no system to treat human waste, which was emptied on to the rail tracks.

    In bio-toilets, human waste wasn't supposed to be emptied on to the tracks but digested by anaerobic bacteria, which convert it into water and bio-gases that are released after disinfection. However, it was found that this hardly worked in practice.

    The bio-toilets have been deployed in Indian trains over four years to 2017, at a cost of Rs. 1,305 crore, but these are no better than septic tanks, IndiaSpend reported last week quoting a two-year-long study by the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M).

    A staggering 93,537 "bio-digesters" -- as the toilets are called --have been installed in mainline express and mail trains. However, sanitation experts and various studies -- including those commissioned by the railways -- have pointed out that most of the bio-toilets are ineffective or ill-maintained and the water discharged is no better than raw sewage.

Business Affairs

It's confirmed! Modi govt extends Aadhaar-PAN linking deadline to March 31
  • The government today extended the deadline of Aadhaar linking with PAN card till March 31, 2018. In a press statement, the CBDT said: "It has come to notice that some of the taxpayers have not yet completed the linking of PAN with Aadhaar. Therefore, to facilitate the process of linking, it has been decided to further extend the time for linking of Aadhaar with PAN till 31.03.2018."
    This is not the first time the government extended the linking deadline. The date for linking of Aadhaar with PAN was initially extended till 31st August, 2017 which was further extended upto 31st December, 2017. All taxpayers having Aadhaar Number or Enrolment Number are required to link the same with PAN under the provisions of recently introduced section 139AA of the Income-tax Act, 1961 which was effective from 01.07.2017.
    The government on Thursday informed the Supreme Court that it was willing to extend the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar for availing of various 131 services and welfare schemes to March 31 next year. Centre had earlier set December 31 as the last date to link Aadhaar, except the Aadhaar-Mobile SIM linking, which is February 6 next year.
    The Supreme Court will be setting up a five-judge Constitution Bench next week to hear pleas on making Aadhaar card mandatory for various social and welfare schemes. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra was informed by Attorney General K K Venugopal that the Centre was willing to extend the deadline of December 31 to March 31 next year.
    However, Venugopal said that February 6 next year would remain the deadline for linking Aadhaar for availing of uninterrupted mobile services as it had been mandated by the apex court. Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for those who are opposed to the Aadhaar scheme told the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, that the Centre should give an undertaking that no coercive steps would be taken against those who fail to link their Aadhaar with various services.

IIT placements jump up by 30%; more than 900 offers received by IIT Kharagpur in first 6 days
  • Things are looking great for IIT students as around 50-60 per cent of students have already been placed within a week since placements began. Placements for some of the older IITs are, in fact, up by 30 per cent from last year. It must be mentioned here that 2016-2017 was a slow year for placements.
    Economic Times quoted Debasis Deb, Chairman of the career development centre at IIT Kharagpur that last year placements had slowed down but this year they are back to 75 per cent. Although around 75-79 per cent students across IITs usually get placed during the annual recruitments, but last year the average had dipped to 66 per cent of overall students. This year the numbers are catching up with the general trend.
    Leading the IITs is IIT Kharagpur that has bagged more than 900 offers in the first six days itself. Debasis Deb mentions that it is an all-time record and that placements have jumped by 27 per cent from the same period last year. Things are similarly upbeat at IIT Madras where 144 companies have offered 540 jobs to its students. According to the Economic Times report, more than 53 per cent of students at IIT Guwahati have also landed jobs.
    Placements at IIT Roorkee and IIT (BHU) Varanasi have also shot up by 30 per cent. At IIT BHU 527 students out of 1,055 students - that is 50 per cent - have already been placed.  IIT Roorkee too has received 600 offers, a significant hike from last year's 500 offers in the same period.
    "Recruiters are hiring in big numbers this year as most companies are building teams for innovation and research," said NP Padhy, professor-in-charge, training and placement, IIT Roorkee, as mentioned in Economic Times.
    Companies like Goldman Sachs, Samsung, Citi, and Microsoft have all gone to IIT campuses this year. This year Apple Inc., Nasdaq and Rubrik have also debuted. A host of Asian companies from Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore have made their way into recruitments as well.
    Out of the companies, Microsoft is offering the fattest paycheck of Rs 1.39 crore across campuses.
    This is only the first phase of the final placements and will continue till mid-December. Placements will resume in January and continue till March-April after a short break.

Jet Airways lags behind IndiGo, SpiceJet in Q2 earnings show; stock closes 4.47% lower
  • Jet Airways on Thursday announced a 91 percent fall in net profit for the quarter ended September due to the airline's inability to offset the rise in jet fuel prices.
    Its earnings performance in the second quarter lags far behind its rivals  SpiceJet and InterGlobe Aviation-owned IndiGo.
    While low-cost carrier SpiceJet recorded a 79 per cent rise in net profit, InterGlobe Aviation's net profit rose 294 percent for the quarter ended September.
    The private carrier's earnings were announced after market hours reported Rs 49.63 crore in net profit for the second quarter of the current fiscal compared to Rs 549.02 crore for the corresponding period of last fiscal.
    "The weak demand in the Gulf continues, whilst low fares as well as yields in the domestic market have limited the ability to offset the increase in fuel prices," Jet Airways chief executive Vinay Dube said.
    At 10:20 am, the stock fell 3.35 percent or 23.35 points to 673.55 level.
    The stock closed 2.04% higher to Rs 696.75 on the BSE on Thursday. It hit an intra day high of 678.90 today.
    The stock is up 39 percent since the beginning of this year. On an yearly basis, the stock  has rallied 31 percent.
    The Jet Airways stock closed 4.47 percent or 31 points lower at 665 level on BSE.
    The Ajay Singh-led airline's net profit rose to Rs 105.28 crore during the July-September quarter of the current financial year making it the eleventh consecutive profitable quarter for the airline which was at one point on the verge of closure. Driven by higher passenger revenues, SpiceJet's total income for the quarter stood at Rs 1,838.49 crore up from Rs 1,415.83 crore in the same period a year ago, according to a stock exchange filing. This was also the carrier's highest ever second quarter profit.
    InterGlobe's net profit rose almost four-fold to Rs 552 crore ($85.26 million) in the quarter ended September 30 while revenue from operations grew 27 percent to Rs 5,291 crore The firm said its revenue per available seat km - a measure of its operating earnings - rose about 13 percent to Rs 3.52. Passenger yields, which measure the average fare paid per km per customer, climbed 9 percent. 
    India's largest airline net profit rose on compensation received from Pratt & Whitney and Airbus on aircraft groundings and delivery delays. IndiGo is among several carriers facing delays in receiving planes from Airbus due to problems with new engines supplied by United Technologies' Pratt & Whitney, which forced the airline to ground as many as nine planes.

IRB Infra hits 11 month low in intra-day trade after CBI files chargesheet against the company
  • IRB Infrastructure drops over 2.3% today after CBI filed chargesheet against the senior officials of the company and its subsidiary - Aryan Infrastructure Investments Private Ltd. The matter relates to the illegal purchase of government land in Maharashtra. The chargesheet was filed in a special court in Pune under Sections 120 (b), 420, 511 of IPC and sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. It is alleged that Virendra Mhaiskar, chairman and managing director of IRB Infrastructure and 17 others have attempted to cheat the state by grabbing government land at village Pimpaloli along the Pune-Mumbai expressway for a proposed integrated township project. The case was initiated in 2009 by RTI activist Satish Shetty, who was murdered in January 2010.  The stock hit an intra-day low of Rs 194.7, which is 11 month low. The stock recovered some ground during the day and closed at Rs 205.2, which is -2.3% below the previous day's close.
    IRB Infrastructure commenced operations in 1998 and it is engaged in construction, project management and engineering. It executes build-operate-transfer (BOT) road and highway projects. Its portfolio comprises of 22 BOT projects, out of which 14 are operational and 8 projects are under implementation. Its major clients are government agencies, such as NHAI and State Road Development Authorities, which engage in the development of the country's highways. The company has a strong order book of Rs 9959 crores at the end of FY17.
    In the last five years, company's net-worth and BOT assets registered an annualised (CAGR) growth of 13% and 22% respectively. In FY17, on a consolidated basis, its sales revenue grew by 14% compared to FY16. 40% of the revenue comes from toll collections whereas 60% comes from construction. The operating profit and net profit grew by 13.8% and 11.9% respectively between FY16 and FY17. The company has shown efficiency in utilization of capital as both ROCE and ROE improved between FY16 and FY17. ROE improved from 13% in FY16 to 14% in FY17, whereas, ROCE improved from 10% in FY16 to 11% in FY17.
    Looking at the consolidated quarterly results for Sep 2017, the company witnessed decline in sales revenue and operating profit compared to Sep'16 quarter. The sales revenue fell by -13% whereas the operating profit went down by -3.2%. The fall in revenues are due to transfer of investments in six subsidiary companies to IRB InvIT Fund. Substantial jump in other income (335.6%) and reduction in interest costs (-30.6%) and depreciation costs (-44.6%) helped IRB Infrastructure post healthy bottom-line growth of 65.1%. Its net profit margin improved substantially from 11.02% in Sep'16 to 20.9% in Sep'17.
    The stock trades at current PE of 18.02 times which is lower than the average PE (equally weighted) of BSE Infrastructure Index of 22.2 times. In the last one year, the stock has significantly underperformed the market. It gained 12.2% between 6 Dec 2016 and 6 Dec 2017. The BSE Infrastructure Index and BSE Sensex gained 24.6% and 23.5% respectively during the same period.

    NCLT asks government to appoint 10 nominee directors to handle Unitech management
    • The Principal Bench of the NCLT on Friday allowed the government to appoint 10 nominee directors to take over the Unitech management on its directions as the Corporate Affairs Ministry moved the tribunal against real estate firm over mismanagement and its failure to complete construction projects on time. The company has not been able to protect the interest of buyers, said the government.
      The government asked the bankruptcy court to suspend the company's board of directors and its chief financial officer under the Companies Act, 2013. The plea means any statement given by these officials won't be considered valid since they have been barred from speaking publicly. The tribunal will hear the plea on Friday. The government has also requested the National Company Law Tribunal to restrain Unitech top officials from selling, mortgaging, creating a charge or interest on their personal properties until the inquiry is complete.
      In October, the Supreme Court refused to grant bail to Unitech MD Sanjay Chandra, asking him to submit at least Rs 1,000 crore so as to compensate homebuyers who have sought refunds against the delay in possession of homes. Representing Unitech, former solicitor general Ranjit Kumar had requested the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud that his client should be granted bail in order to help the recovery process. Kumar had urged the bench to allow Chandra to come out of the prison for four weeks so that he can oversee the refund process to homebuyers.
      The Supreme Court  had suggested that it may consider auctioning Unitech properties through a court-appointed receiver in the coming days. The idea came after Kumar suggested that Unitech can sell flats in 64 projects to refund its customers. Unitech reportedly owes a total of Rs Rs 7,800 to 16,300 homebuyers in 61 projects across the country.
      According to amicus curiae Pawan Shree Agrawal, a total of Rs 1,865 crore is needed to refund the homebuyers claiming it. A total of 4,688 homebuyers have registered on the designated website to stake claims for Rs 1,865 crore. Out of them, 4,350 have opted for refunds, he added.
      Many have not specified whether they want refunds or possession of the house they have paid for though, as they might not be aware, Agrawal said. Chief Justice Dipak Misra had asked Unitech home buyers to mention their preferences - refund or possession - at the designated website

    General Awareness

    Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times. Kumbh Mela

    • Context:
      The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage under UNESCO has inscribed ´KumbhMela´ on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during its 12th session being held at Jeju, South Korea.
      This inscription is the third in two years following the inscriptions of ´Yoga´ and ´Nouroz´ in December. 
      About Kumbh Mela:
      Kumbh Mela is the largest peaceful congregation of pilgrims on earth. The festival, held in Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik, represents a syncretic set of rituals related to worship and ritual cleansing in holy rivers in India. As a religious festival, the tolerance and inclusiveness that Kumbh Mela demonstrates are especially valuable for the contemporary world.
      What is intangible cultural heritage?
      The UNESCO Convention for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage, adopted in 2003, defines intangible cultural heritage as the practices, representations, expressions as well as knowledge and skills that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognise as part of their cultural heritage.

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