Current Affairs Current Affairs - 11 December 2017 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 11 December 2017

General Affairs 

On Winter Session Eve, BJP MLA Writes To Devendra Fadnavis On Vidarbha
  • BJP MLA Ashish Deshmukh has appealed to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to take steps to carve out a separate Vidarbha state.

    The MLA from Katol in Nagpur district has written a letter to Mr Fadnavis, urging him to be a "torch bearer" for the cause of separate Vidarbha.

    Mr Deshmukh, a strong Vidarbha statehood supporter, wrote the letter on December 6 and made it public today, a day before the winter session of the state legislature starts here from tomorrow.

    Mr Deshmukh told Mr Fadnavis, who hails from Nagpur, that the BJP is in power at the Centre and also in Maharashtra.

    Hence, he should put forth with much vigour the demand for a separate Vidarbha before Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, he added.

    In the letter, the ruling party lawmaker pointed out that the region in eastern Maharashtra is rich in natural resources but still remains impoverished.

    "Ninety per cent of natural resources in Maharashtra fall in Vidarbha. Besides, 70 per cent of the power in state is generated in Vidarbha. These factors can be a huge booster for the development of Vidarbha," claimed Mr Deshmukh.

    Mr Deshmukh lamented the lack of industrial growth and unemployment in the cotton-growing belt, which comprises 11 districts.

    "The MIDCs in Vidarbha are not creating enough jobs. Besides, new industries are not clicking in Vidarbha. Even the ambitious projects like MIHAN (a cargo hub and airport venture) have proved to be non-starters," he said.

    Many of the small-scale industries in the region have closed down in the last few years, resulting in job losses in thousands, Mr Deshmukh said.

    The BJP is a supporter of smaller states, but its ally, the Shiv Sena, is vehemently opposed to any division of Maharashtra.

Google Can Never Replace Guru: Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu
  • Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu has said Google can never replace 'guru' (teacher) while emphasising on the importance of teachers and education.

    He also asked students not to get influenced by the anti-social elements who try to create unrest in universities.

    Google has been quite popular as the search engine provides answers to people's all queries, from the most random to the most meaningful.

    "Google can never replace Guru. A guru gives not mere academics, but gives insights as well," Mr Naidu said yesterday at the alumni meet of the Andhra University (AU).

    The vice president, who is himself an alumni of the university, spent some time in his classroom at the AU College of Law and shared his memories with students on the campus.

    A few sections of the society have been fuelling unrest in universities for their selfish plans, Mr Naidu said, and asked students not to get influenced by the ideas of such anti-social elements.

    He asked the Andhra University to focus on research and improve its academic standard.

    Andhra University got NAAC 'A' grade but it has to improve its quality in terms of teaching, research, among other things, to achieve A++ grade, Mr Naidu said.

    He also inaugurated the convention centre building of the university, which was built at a cost of Rs. 13.5 crore.

    The auditorium, with five levels of seating, has a fixed capacity of 1,600 seats and can also accommodate 200 extra chairs in its gallery.

    "The built-up area is around 40,000 sqft and the total area is around 4.5 acres with landscaped gardens and two parking areas that can accommodate 400 cars," the university's vice chancellor, Prof G Nageswara Rao, said.

    Mr Naidu also visited the Chepalauppda village on Visakha-Bheemil beach road which was adopted by him and launched several development programmes there.

Next Budget Will Not Be A Populist One, Says Prime Minister's Economic Council Member
  • The prime minister's economic advisory panel member Rathin Roy has expressed hope that the forthcoming budget will not be a 'populist' and will reflect the commitment of the government to improve quality of expenditure. 

    The government, Mr Roy said, will come with yet another good budget, which is likely to be presented on February 1. 

    "I would not think any populism is permissible. I think the government will present a responsible budget, which will reflect its expenditure quality and commitments. I don't think that the government will use the budget to be populist. I am very confident that political authorities understand this," Mr Roy said. 

    Asked what should be the government's reform agenda for the next 18 months, Mr Roy said that Narendra Modi's government should focus on completing the reforms undertaken by it in over the last three years.

    "Many good reforms have been started, they will take time to complete, so rather than embarking on fresh set of reforms, the focus should be on completing reforms like the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC), universalisation and deepening of banking etc," Mr Roy, who is also the director of economic think-tank NIPFP, said. 

    The Narendra Modi-led NDA government came to power in May 2014 and the next general elections are due in 2019. 

    Asked to comment on the RBI's decision to hold key policy rates, Rathin Roy said that he completely respects the Monetary Policy Committee's decision. 

    "We have seen periods when interest rates came down. It is always good for interest rates to fall further but we have to keep an eye on savings also," the eminent economist noted. 

    Talking about overall macroeconomic environment in the country, Mr Roy pointed out that India has a long way to go in terms of reforms and policies to get 8 per cent growth. 

    "It is very clear that around 7 per cent growth is achievable and we are doing it. Inflation is low, current account deficit (CAD) is under control, 6.3 per cent growth on an average is a high rate of growth. And so far the government has adhered to its fiscal responsibility. So if you look at fiscal policy, monetary policy, exchange rate policy, and growth, macroeconomic environment is fine," the member of Economic Advisory Council to Prime Minister observed. 

    Asked about job situation, Rahin Roy said there is a need to look again how the economy can grow by tapping the domestic demand. "For me the agenda for next 10 years is very clear. India must become able to produce what all Indians consume. 

    "... You cannot solve job problem by only focusing on job, you solve job problem by involving those who have jobs and are producing goods," he insisted. 

Pakistan Accuses India Of Turning Down Its 'Message For Peace'
  • Pakistan accused India on Saturday, of turning down its "message for peace" by refusing to stop ceasefire violations.

    Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal claimed that Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif in a letter to his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj had urged for calm and respect for the 2003 ceasefire agreement.

    "India has responded to the letter and instead of accepting our message for peace once again repeated old allegation of cross border incursions and refused to stop violations," the spokesperson said.

    Mr Faisal also said that India was not ready for independent verification of its allegations or accept Pakistan's proposal to give proper access to the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP).

    India maintains that the UNMOGIP has outlived its utility and is irrelevant after the Simla Agreement and the consequent establishment of the Line of Control (LoC).

    Mr Faisal alleged that India was using cross border attacks to divert attention from the issue of Kashmir.

Arvind Kejriwal Slams Delhi BJP Chief For Opposing Punishment To Hospital
  • Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today denounced Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari for opposing the cancellation of the licence of Max Hospital in Shalimar Bagh, for erroneously declaring a newborn dead, alleging he had "sold his integrity".

    Reacting to the chief minister's remark, Mr Tiwari said he opposed the cancellation of the hospital's licence becasuse Mr Kejriwal did not consider the plight of its workers and patients admitted there.

    The Delhi government had on Friday cancelled the hospital's licence for alleged medical negligence in multiple instances.

    Addressing a gathering in the Mundka area, Arvind Kejriwal said he was "sad" that Manoj Tiwari and the BJP had come out in support of the hospital.

    "The BJP is standing with the Max Hospital. Had we been dishonest, we would have made a deal with the hospital and kept mum (on the issue)" the Delhi chief minister said.

    "But we have not come into politics to commit wrongdoings or earn money. We have entered politics to serve the people and work with them honestly. I am sad Manoj Tiwari has sold his integrity," he alleged.

    Arvind Kejriwal added that doctors work hard but private hospitals exploit them.

    Mr Tiwari accused the AAP government of adopting double standards, as Mr Kejriwal "was not suspended" when former minister Jitender Singh Tomar's degree was found fake.

    "The negligence of doctors should be punished severely but what did Kejriwal do to help the patients and employees who have been left to fend for themselves?" the Delhi BJP chief asked.

    "When Jitender Tomar's law degree was found fake and Satyendar Jain faced corruption charges, why Kejriwal was not suspended," Mr Tiwari further questioned the Delhi chief minister.

Business Affairs

SBI changes names, IFSC codes of around 1,300 branches
  • Post the merger of its five associates, State Bank of India has changed names and IFSC codes of nearly 1,300 of its branches. The country's largest lender has changed the names and IFSC codes of branches located in major cities such as Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Lucknow, among others. "Some of our old associate branches are getting merged with SBI branches. When that merger happens, the IFSC codes get changed," the bank's managing director (retail and digital banking), Praveen Gupta, said. He said customers have been informed about the change in IFSC codes, but internally also the bank has mapped them to the new codes.
    "Even if some payment comes based on the old IFSC codes, it will get mapped with the new codes. It will not cause any problem to any customer," he said. The bank has close to 23,000 branches. The bank has put up the list of branches with old and new names and IFSC codes on its website. Indian Financial System Code, or IFSC, is an 11-digit alpha-numeric code used to uniquely identify all bank branches participating in any RBI regulated funds transfer system.
    The IFSC code is required to transfer money from one account to another using RTGS, NEFT or IMPS methods. In April this year, SBI merged its five associate banks - State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore - and also Bhartiya Mahila Bank into itself.

Government hints at reviewing rates in top GST bracket
  • After slashing the GST rates of over 200 items last month, the government on Saturday hinted at reviewing levies on the items in the top 28 per cent tax bracket.
    On November 10, the GST Council, headed by finance minster Arun Jaitley, had lowered Goods and Services Tax (GST) rates on over 200 items, ranging from chewing gum to chocolates, to beauty products, wigs and wrist watches.
    As many as 178 items of daily use were shifted from the top tax bracket of 28 per cent to 18 per cent, and a uniform 5 per cent tax was prescribed for both air-conditioned and non- AC restaurants.
    "We have already reduced GST slabs of 12 per cent to 5 per cent and 5 per cent to zero per cent (on six items). Going forward, we may look at reviewing the 28 per cent slab," Union minister of state for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla said at an event here this evening.
    The GST Council had also pruned the list of items in the top 28 per cent slab to just 50 from 228 earlier.
    Following this major rejig in GST rates, Jaitley had hinted at a further scope for rationalisation of rates.
    "In four months, we have rationalised the 28 per cent slab. Such rationalisation (will happen in future) depending on revenue buoyancy," Jaitley said at an event last month.
    Shukla said by March next year, the government will ensure that all the processes under the GST are simplified.
    The GST, a landmark tax reform which subsumed a host of central and state levies, came into force on July 1.

Indian economy set for higher growth trajectory, says Arun Jaitley
  • Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said the Indian economy is set for a higher growth trajectory on the back of a slew of structural reforms.
    He said the NDA government would now focus on large- scale investment in the infrastructure sector and rural areas.
    "I think, we should be looking forward to a much higher growth trajectory (for India) in the days to come.
    "Our government has carried out structural reforms at the right time. Demonetisation and GST were carried out keeping in mind their long-term benefits to the economy," Jaitley said.
    Reversing the five quarters of slowing GDP growth, Indian economy expanded by 6.3 per cent in July-September on the back of a pick-up in manufacturing.
    The gross domestic product growth had hit a three-year low of 5.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2017-18. It was 7.5 per cent in the September quarter of 2016-17.
    Jaitley was speaking last night at an event organised to mark the golden jubilee celebration of the local branch of the Western India Regional Council of the Chartered Accountants Association of India (ICAI). Representatives from trade and industry bodies attended the meet.
    He said the upgraded global growth projections should be a further help to Indias own GDP rate expansion.
    The finance minister also took on the critics of note- ban and GST.
    "The fundamental question is: Does India continue to indefinitely be a cash-dominated economy? To say its a very risky proposition, it will have adverse consequences for a quarter or two, so lets not attempt it? Can India say, you will have de-stocking, so lets not attempt GST?," he asked.
    Jaitley said while the Congress dithered, the BJP took bold decisions.
    "The BJP simply did what the Congress couldnt while they were in power. Attacking black money was never a priority for the Congress. So their concern (about demonetisation) is natural. And GST was a Congress move. But since (the Congress) party is an opportunist, it is opposing it," he said.
    Jaitley said the BJP stayed away from populism.
    "Populism is what we did not indulge in. We could have let people live in a cash-dominated economy and let India continue to have a shadow economy and have everyone really prosper on that basis. (But) we struck a blow to that kind of an economy. Thats not populism. That was the right economic policy to follow."
    He said key measures like scrapping high-value currency notes and rolling out GST, a landmark indirect tax reform, won global appreciation.
    "There is a global appreciation of the fact that India has the capacity and courage to carry out structural reforms like demonetisation and GST," Jaitley said.
    Positive responses and statements about the Indian economy from influential international bodies like the World Bank, the IMF and Moodys had "increased the confidence of India", he noted.

After Rs 76.5/cylinder hike, oil companies skip LPG price revision
  • After hiking cooking gas LPG price by Rs 76.5 in 19 installments in 17 months, national oil companies skipped the monthly revision in rates this month ahead of elections in Gujarat.
    State-owned Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) have been since July last year raising price of LPG on 1st of every month with a view to eliminating government subsidies on the fuel by 2018.
    The oil companies however skipped the hike this month.
    "Yes it is true that we have not done a revision in subsidised LPG price this month," said a top executive at one of the three retailers requesting not to be quoted. "I am not in a position to specify what promoted this (decision). It is a routine management decision."
    Asked if the government had asked the oil companies to skip the monthly revision, the official refused comments.
    The price of subsidised LPG was last raised by Rs 4.50 per cylinder on November 1 to Rs 495.69, according to a price notification issued by state-owned firms.
    The government last year had asked state-run oil firms to raise prices every month to eliminate all the subsidies by March 2018. Since the implementation of the policy of monthly increases from July last year, subsidised LPG rates have gone up by Rs 76.51 per cylinder. A 14.2-kg LPG cylinder was priced at Rs 419.18 in June 2016.
    Every household is entitled to 12 cylinders of 14.2-kg each at subsidised rates in a year. Any requirement beyond that is to be purchased at market price.
    Initially, the hike in LPG rate was Rs 2 per month which was raised to Rs 3 from May this year. The November 1 hike in the LPG price was the sixth since the May 30 order of the oil ministry to raise rates by Rs 4 per cylinder every month.
    According to the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) of the Oil Ministry, there is a subsidy of Rs 251.31 on every 14.2-kg subsidised LPG cylinder.
    Incidentally, the non-subsidised or market priced LPG rates were raised by Rs 5 per cylinder to Rs 747 a bottle on December 1. Non-subsidised LPG rates have moved in tandem with their cost since December 2013.
    There are as many as 18.11 crore customers of subsidised LPG in the country. These include over 3 crore poor women who were given free connections during the last one year under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna.
    There are 2.66 crore users of non-subsidised cooking gas including those who gave up subsidy on call by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    Syndicate Bank reduces MCLR by 0.05% for certain tenors
    • Public sector lender Syndicate Bank today slashed the marginal cost based lending rate (MCLR) by 0.05 per cent for select maturities.
      The Bengaluru-headquartered lender has cut the overnight, 1-month and 3-month MCLR by 0.05 per cent each to 7.95, 8 and 8.05 per cent.
      The new MCLR rate will take effect from December 10, Syndicate Bank said in a statement today.
      The MCLR for six-month and one year lending have been kept unchanged at 8.25 per cent and 8.45 per cent.
      The bank said that there was no change in base rate and BPLR (Benchmark Prime Lending Rate) at 9.5 and 13.85 per cent, respectively.
      Banks review their MCLR rates on a monthly basis, which is relatively a new method of charging interest on advances.
      Introduced in April 2016, the Reserve Bank in August said it is going to review MCLR on the contention that banks were passing on lesser repo rate revision benefits to consumers.

    General Awareness

    Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate. International Solar Alliance

    • With 19 countries ratifying its framework agreement, the International Solar Alliance (ISA) has become the first treaty-based international government organisation to be based in India.

      Significance of this event:

      This marks the culmination of India’s efforts, which had taken a lead role in setting up the ISA—an alliance of 121 sunshine countries situated between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. ISA also signals that New Delhi would employ it as a foreign policy tool to cement its leadership among developing countries. 

      Facts for Prelims:

      The ISA now has become a treaty based inter-governmental international organisation and it will be recognized by UN legally to become fully functionable.
      Guinea became the 15th country to ratify this agreement.
      Other prominent intergovernmental organisations in the energy sector include the Vienna-based Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA).

      About ISA:

      The ISA is an Indian initiative, jointly launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the president of France on 30 November 2015 in Paris, on the sidelines of COP-21, the UN climate conference. It aims at addressing obstacles to deployment at scale of solar energy through better harmonization and aggregation of demand from solar rich countries lying fully or partially between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

      The ISA, headquartered in India, has its secretariat located in the campus of the National Institute of Solar Energy, Gurgaon, Haryana.
      The Paris Declaration, establishing the ISA, states that the countries share the collective ambition to undertake innovative and concerted efforts for reducing the cost of finance and cost of technology for immediate deployment solar generation assets.
      Introduced in April 2016, the Reserve Bank in August said it is going to review MCLR on the contention that banks were passing on lesser repo rate revision benefits to consumers.

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