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Current Affairs - 16 December 2017

General Affairs 

Cabinet Approves Bill To Replace Medical Council Of India
  • A bill to replace the Medical Council of India (MCI) with a national medical commission was cleared by the Union Cabinet on Friday, Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

    "The MCI will be replaced, and a National Medical Commission bill has been brought. This is to correct the whole medical ecosystem," he said.

    The MCI is a statutory body for establishing uniform and high standards of medical education in India. The bill seeks to replace the MCI with a new Commission.

    According to government sources, the National Medical Commission Bill envisages a four-tier structure for the regulation of medical education, with a 20-member National Medical Commission at the top.

No 'Shaheed' Or 'Martyr' In Our Terminology, Says Government
  • There is no term as "martyr" or "shaheed" in the Army or the police and instead a soldier or a policeman killed in action is called a "battle casualty" or "operations casualty" respectively, the ministries of defence and home have submitted before the Central Information Commission.

    The issue surfaced after an RTI applicant approached the Union home ministry seeking to know the meaning and detailed definition of word "shaheed" (martyr) according to the law and the Constitution.

    He also asked about the legal provisions to ensure restriction on its misuse and punishment for violation.

    The application was transferred to different officials of the home and defence ministries but when the applicant could not get a satisfactory response, he approached the CIC, the highest appellate body in matters relating to the Right to Information Act.

    The respondents from the ministries of defence and the home affairs were present and heard, Information Commissioner Yashovardhan Azad said.

    "The respondent from the Ministry of Defence stated that word 'shaheed' or 'martyr' is not used by the MoD. Instead the one used is 'battle casualty'. The respondent from the Ministry of Home Affairs stated that in the MHA the word used is 'operations casualty'," Mr Azad said.

    Quoting the submissions, he noted that the decision to declare cases of 'battle casualty' and 'ops' were taken after a report of a court of inquiry in both the matters.

    "After hearing the respondents and the perusal of the record, the commission finds that the averments made by both the respondents have duly explained the correct usage of the terms and directs the respondents to send a revised reply to the appellant accordingly," he said.

Car Found Carrying 25 Rifles, 4,000 Rounds Near Nashik, 3 Arrested
  • A huge arms haul has been made by police officers from Chandwad police station in Nashik district of Maharashtra. Three men were arrested in connection with the case on Thursday night.

    District Superintendent of Police Sanjay Darade told reporters, "The police received a complaint saying that after filing diesel at a petrol pump, a bolero car sped off without paying. The Nashik Control Room also received that information and the control alerted all the patrolling mobiles and the anti-dacoity squad and they intercepted the car at the Chandwad toll plaza."

    "After questioning the driver the squad found their answers unsatisfactory and the car was taken to the police station. After a detailed search we found a huge cache of arms and ammunition. The roof of the car was modified to create a compartment and the arms and ammunition was hidden in that," Mr. Darade added.

    A car with a Mumbai registration number was found carrying 25 rifles, 19 country-made pistols and 4,000 cartridges, sources in the Nashik police said.

    The arms were being carried in hidden cavities in the car. Those who were in the car initially told the police that they were headed from Malegaon to Mumbai.

    The car had stopped at a toll plaza on the Mumbai-Agra Highway when the seizure was made. Police officers refused to divulge details saying investigations were at a preliminary stage. "We have got 13 days of police custody and separate teams have been formed to prove all aspects including who else is involved, where were arms being taken to and a detailed investigation is being carried out," Darade told reporters.

Bullet Train, And Possibly Submarines, Deepen India-Japan Ties
  • Many of the cargo containers passing through the port  in Mumbai have a small piece of Japan Inc. attached: Devices from NEC Corp. that can be tracked as the containers rumble through the interior of Asia's third-largest economy.

    The partnership between NEC and the port illustrates the strengthening relationship between Tokyo and New Delhi. Japan is seeking growth markets, while India craves advanced technology and foreign investment. The leaders of both countries, Shinzo Abe and Narendra Modi, are also working to counter the growing regional influence of China -- an important economic partner to both but also historically a rival.

    "We have the two largest democratic economies in this region, we respect international rules, openness and transparency -- these are basic principles that we share," said Kenko Sone, a former head of global communications for Mr Abe who now serves as minister of economic affairs at Japan's embassy in Delhi.

    Cash Flows

    With a young and growing population now at 1.3 billion people, India offers an enticing market for Japanese companies, as well as affordable labor for manufacturers looking even further west to Africa and the Middle East for new markets. India needs an estimated $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investment in just the next 10 years to help modernize its economy and lift more of its people out of poverty.

    Japan is pouring money into India. Lending for development, particularly infrastructure, has grown nearly sixfold since 2001, totaling 366 billion yen ($3.2 billion) in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available. The two nations are working together on infrastructure projects that include the $100 billion Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and a Japanese bullet train to run between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in PM Modi's home state of Gujarat.

    Foreign direct investment by Japanese companies has also soared, reaching $3.7 billion in 2016, its second-highest level ever. Though it slipped this year, over the past decade it has totaled $25.8 billion, a nine-fold increase over the previous 10-year period. Japanese manufacturers have flooded into auto clusters in Haryana and Rajasthan near Delhi, and into western Gujarat and southern Chennai.

    India's young population is an attraction for Suzuki Motor Corp., majority owner of India's biggest car maker, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. The company makes about 1.5 million cars a year in India, but aims to produce 2 million annually in 2020, according to Satoshi Kasukawa, a Suzuki Motor spokesman.

    "India's population is pyramid shaped, and it's possible for us to provide entry cars to young people," Kasukawa said.

    Japanese manufacturers are increasingly using India to make products destined for other emerging countries. Many of Japan's major automakers are already selling India-made vehicles in Africa, while Hitachi Construction Machinery Co. has started distributing its machines in Africa after a joint venture with Tata Group went well, according to the Japan External Trade Organization.

    With Mr Abe fresh off an election victory and PM Modi predicted to win a second term in 2019, the alliance between the two countries is expected to grow for years. Political stability in both Japan and India gives the two nations confidence to build deeper economic ties while strengthening the strategic relationship, Japan's Sone said.

    Defense Ties

    The two countries are also attempting to rival China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, creating the Asia Africa Growth Corridor in an attempt to grow export markets. PM Modi and Mr Abe launched the initiative at a meeting of the Asian Development Bank in May 2017 -- shortly after China hosted various countries at a Belt and Road forum in Beijing.

    Japan also hopes to sell defense technology, perhaps including Soryu submarines, to India as PM  Modi tries to modernize the country's aging, largely Soviet-era military equipment. They have also stepped up military cooperation, with Japan joining the annual Malabar naval exercises with India and the United States in the Bay of Bengal, designed to protect "shared interests" in the region.

    "India and Japan are in a sense front-line states of a rising and more assertive China," said Manoj Joshi, a distinguished fellow at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation think tank. "The U.S. is an ocean away, the Europeans even further. Both know that by themselves they are not sufficient to balance China, but together they do not look all that bad."

Found: Another Star System With Eight Planets, Just Like Ours
  • Only a handful of star systems have more than a single planet. With eight worlds, our solar system has long taken the prize for the biggest lineup. But no longer.

    Our corner of the galaxy now shares the record with another system, Kepler 90, NASA and Google researchers announced Thursday. A Google algorithm uncovered a scorcher of a planet, a rock 30 percent larger than Earth, orbiting a star a few thousand light-years away. This planet, Kepler 90i, brought the total number of planets circling its star to eight - just like our solar system's octuplets.

    "For the first time, we've discovered an eighth planet in a distant planetary system," Paul Hertz, head of NASA's astrophysics division, said during a media briefing. This discovery required an advanced technology to comb through the gargantuan amount of data obtained by the Kepler space observatory.

    The Kepler telescope, which trails millions of miles behind Earth like a loyal pup, has gazed out into space since 2009. During that time it has brought in data from 150,000 stars. When an exoplanet crosses in front of one of them, Kepler registers a subtle dip in that star's sunlight.

    Fishing for those dips within the massive database is a challenge. "The Kepler mission has so much data it is impossible to examine manually," Christopher Shallue, a Google AI software engineer, explained during the briefing.

    With help from Andrew Vanderburg, an astronomer at the University of Texas at Austin, Shallue developed a machine-learning program that detects light curves. (Google and NASA have been collaborating for years; in 2013, they unveiled the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab, a machine-learning facility at the space agency's Ames Research Center.) The scientists did not give the program, called a neural network, explicit instructions to find the characteristic curves of an exoplanet. Instead, it had to learn by example.

    "A neural network is loosely inspired by the structure of the human brain," Shallue said. "You can think of the neurons as switches." The U-shaped dip of Kepler 90i passing in front of its star was too weak a signal for human detection. But it was strong enough for the AI, churning through 14 billion data points, to detect.

    Astronomers are confident that the exoplanet exists and that its surface temperature could exceed 800 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a shorter orbit than Mercury's, completing a circle around its star once every two weeks. "This is almost certainly an exoplanet," Vanderburg said, with the odds of a false positive being 1 in 10,000. Already, the results from this deep data dive have been accepted for publication in the Astronomical Journal.

    But the number of worlds is not the only similarity between our solar system and the Kepler 90 system. As in ours, Kepler's small, rocky planets are closest to the sun and its gas giants farthest away. Kepler 90 itself is larger than our sun, though not extremely so.

    The planets in our system are far more spread out, however. Neptune is, at its closest, 2.8 billion miles from the sun. The most distant gas giant in the Kepler 90 system is 93 million miles from its star. "All the planets are found scrunched very close to their star," Vanderburg said.

    Because the telescope has only observed the system's center, it may contain still other worlds. "It's very possible that Kepler 90 has even more planets that we don't know about," Vanderburg added. Any planet with a longer orbit - a world as far from Kepler 90 as Jupiter is from our sun - would pass by the observatory undetected.

    The Kepler telescope is in its twilight years. In 2013, two of four reaction wheels that had kept it on target failed. Without a fix, the mission was doomed.

    Desperate to salvage the $550 million craft, researchers turned to the only available support: the sun. They harnessed the pressure of solar radiation to stabilize Kepler, as The Post reported in 2014. With two functional wheels and the force of the sun acting like a crutch, the craft could once again focus on distant stars. The reborn project was given the name K2.

    During the Kepler and K2 missions, astronomers have confirmed the location of 2,500 exoplanets. Kepler has detected another 5,000 exoplanet candidates, which await confirmation.

    The K2 mission was funded for an additional three years of life in 2016. The spacecraft's fuel is expected to run dry at some point in 2018.

Business Affairs

Trading Calls: Buy Wockhardt, Petronet LNG, Says Expert
  • Indian stock markets are likely to start Friday's session on a positive note with the SGX Nifty on Singapore Exchange trading 64 points higher at 10,352.50. Equities in the other Asian markets were on track for weekly gains. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.04 per cent in early trade, poised to gain 1.2 per cent for the week. Japan's Nikkei stock index slipped 0.8 per cent, down 1.3 per cent for the week. The Federal Reserve hiked interest rates on Wednesday but left its rate outlook for the coming years unchanged. Overnight on Wall Street, major US stock indices fell, with the S&P 500 down the most in a month.

    On Thursday, domestic shares had snapped two straight days of losses. The NSE Nifty ended 0.58 per cent higher at 10,252.1 while the BSE Sensex closed up 0.59 per cent at 33,246.7. The indices fell as much as 0.50 per cent each earlier in the day.

One Point One Solutions IPO Subscribed 84 Times
  • Thane-based business process outsourcing (BPO) company One Point One Solutions has taken the SME markets by storm garnering a whopping subscription of over Rs. 2,600 crore for its Rs. 43 crore initial public offering.
    The issue, which opened for subscription on December 13 and closed today, was subscribed more than 84 times, a statement issued by the lead manager Pantomath Group said. The company's Rs. 43 crore initial public offer (IPO) comprised sale of 66.24 lakh equity shares, of which 18.82 lakh were reserved for anchor investors.

    On Tuesday, the company had raised Rs. 12 crore from anchor investors. This was the first time the anchor portion was provided for and subscribed in any small and medium enterprise (SME) IPO, it added. Proceeds from the issue would be utilised towards repayment of debt, working capital and general corporate purposes.

    India has seen a record year for IPOs with more than $11 billion of initial share sales in 2017. A few days ago, Shalby's initial public offering (IPO) worth Rs. 510 crore ($79 million) was subscribed 2.8 times on the last day of the sale.

    Institutional investors bid for 4.5 times the number of shares reserved for them, while the retail portion was subscribed 2.93 times.

    The offer comprised a primary share sale of Rs. 480 crore, while one of the existing shareholders was selling 1 million shares in the IPO in a price range of Rs. 245 rupees to Rs.248. Edelweiss, IDFC Bank and IIFL Holdings managed the initial public offer (IPO).

Fixed Deposit Interest Rates Up To 3-Year Tenures: SBI, YES Bank & More
  • Fixed deposits (FDs) are an attractive mode of parking one's money safely. It offers security in terms of savings on one's income. A fixed deposit, which is provided by banks or non-banking finance companies, offers a rate of interest that is higher than that on a regular savings bank account. FDs mature on a particular date, which means that after one's FD matures, he/she can get the matured amount (that is inclusive of interest paid on a specific time period).

    Fixed deposits (FDs) vis-a-vis income tax
    FDs are of two types: some are normal FDs while others act as tax-saving instruments. However, income tax has to be paid on interest income accrued on both types of FDs.

    Unlike other FDs, the lock-in period of tax saving fixed deposits is five years. Only individuals and HUFs (Hindu undivided family) can invest in the tax-saving FD scheme. One of the major differences between normal FDs and tax-saving FDs is that the former can be redeemed before maturity, while the latter can't be redeemed before five years.

    Under the section 80C of the income tax (I-T) Act, you can claim deduction for investments up to Rs. 1.50 lakh on tax-saving FDs. The amount so invested is meant to be deducted from the gross total income to arrive at the taxable incom

    Why you should invest in FDs:
    "Surplus funds if parked in a savings account may end up getting consumed. FDs, due to their fixed investment horizons, can help one inculcate savings behaviour. FDs are the best option for counter balancing the market risk from other investments in one's portfolio," said Ambuj Chandna, Sr. EVP & Head - Retail Liabilities, Investment & Payment Products, Kotak Mahindra Bank.

    Further, FDs give the customer an option to choose the  tenor of the investment horizon from a short-term period of seven days up to 10 years, he added.

    A fixed deposit with monthly or quarterly interest pay out option can generate monthly/ quarterly cash flow for a customer without impacting the principal invested, said Mr Chandna. Alternatively, for someone who is not looking at FDs for regular cash flows can choose the cumulative option, where the interest gets added to the principal on a quarterly basis, he added. Here, the interest is compounded and paid at the end of the tenure.

    On maturity, customers can opt to re-book the entire amount for another tenor at the then prevailing rates or withdraw the FD and use the money for the purpose it was originally invested for, Mr Chandna said .

ICICI Securities Files IPO Papers To Raise Nearly Rs. 3,000-4,000 Crore
  • ICICI Securities, a subsidiary of private sector lender ICICI Bank, Friday filed draft papers with markets regulator Sebi to raise an estimated Rs. 3,000-4,000 crore through an initial public offering (IPO). The public issue comprises sale of 64,428,280 equity shares, amounting to 20 per cent stake, by ICICI Bank, according to the draft red herring prospectus (DRHP). The offer includes a reservation of up to 32.21 lakh shares for individual and Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) shareholders of ICICI Bank.
    According to merchant banking sources, the initial public offer (IPO) is expected to garner Rs. 3,000-4,000 crore. "The objects of the offer for the company are to achieve the benefit of listing the equity shares on the stock exchanges. Further, the company expects that the listing of equity shares will enhance its visibility and brand image and provide liquidity to its existing shareholders," the preliminary papers noted. DSP Merrill Lynch, IIFL Holdings, SBI Capital Markets, Citigroup Global Markets India, Edelweiss Financial Services and CLSA India will manage the company's public issue.

    Earlier this year, ICICI Bank had diluted part of its holding in ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company's IPO.

    'Rs. 36,000 Crore Is States' Revenue Deficit Post GST Implementation'
    • There has been a shortfall of Rs. 36,000 crore in projected revenues in the first four months post Goods and Services Tax (GST) implementation, West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra said on Friday. While the projected collection at 14 per cent growth was Rs. 1,72,000 crore, the actual figure realised had been Rs. 1,36,000 crore, resulting in a deficit of Rs. 36,000 crore for the first four months till November, Mitra, who is also a GST Council member, told reporters on the sidelines of an event here.

      GST was rolled out from July 1, this year.

      He said the compensation amount, in case of revenue loss of the states after GST was Rs. 55,000 crore. This amount semed inadequate in the collection figures if it did not gain traction.

      According to Mitra, the main reason for the deficit was the inability of a vast section of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to register themselves on the GSTN portal.

      "Due to this, many of them had gone back to the manual mode", he said.

      In this regard, Mitra said he had urged the Centre to raise the compensation amount.

      Meanwhile, Mitra informed that Shalimar Works of the state government had formed a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) with a Bangladeshi ship building firm to manufacture ships here.

      The Centre has accorded all the clearances for the SPV, he said.

      Moreover, a city-based agro processing firm -- IFB Agro -- has expressed desire to set up a phyto-sanitary compliance unit at Haldia for a shrimp processing plant, he said.

    General Awareness

    Large Dams in India

    • India has over 1200 all-sized Dams and Reservoirs that are meant for several purposes including Hydro Electricity Generation, Irrigation. We are enlisting some of the large Dams in India to be remembered by candidates.
      Some Facts about dams in India -
      • Tehri Dam is By far India's Biggest in Terms of Height - 260.5 Metres, followed by Lakhwar Dam (204 Metres).
      • By Length, Ukai Dam si Largest with length 4927 Metres, followed by Nagarjuna Sagar Dam (4865 Metres).
      • Bandardhara Dam is India's First Dam, created in 1926 (Also called Wilson Dam).

      DamCompletion YearRiverState
      Tehri Dam2005BhagirathiUttarakhand
      Lakhwar DamUnder ConstructionYamunaUttarakhand
      Idukki Arch Dam1974PeriyarKerala
      Bhakra Dam1963SatlujHimachal Pradesh
      Pakal Dul DamUnder ConstructionMarusudarJammu & Kashmir
      Sardar Sarover Gujarat DamUnder ConstructionNarmadaGujarat
      Srisailam Dam1984KrishnaTelangana
      Ranjit Sagar Dam1999RaviPunjab
      Baglihar Dam2009ChenabJammu & Kashmir
      Chemera I Dam1994RaviHimachal Pradesh
      Cheruthoni Dam1976CheruthoniKerala
      Pong Dam1974BeasHimachal Pradesh
      Jamrani Dam1990GolaUttarakhand
      Subansiri Dam2014SubansiriArunachal Pradesh
      Ramganga Dam1974RamgangaUttarakhand
      Nagarjuna Sagar Dam1974KrishnaTelangana
      Kakki Dam1966KakkiKerala
      Nagi Dam1958NagiBihar
      Salal Dam1986ChenabJammu & Kashmir
      Sholayar Dam1971SholayarTamil Nadu
      Koyna Dam1964KoynaMaharashtra
      Idamalayar Dam1985IdamalayarKerala
      Supa Dam1987Kali NadiKarnataka
      Karjan Dam1987KarjanGujarat
      Kulamavu Dam1977KilivillithodeKerala
      Koteshwar DamUnder ConstructionBhagirathiUttarakhand
      Doyang Hep DamUnder ContructionDoyangNagaland
      Rihand Dam1962RihandUttar Pradesh
      Indira Sagar Dam2006NarmadaMadhya Pradesh
      Warna Dam2000VarnaMaharashtra
      Bhatsa Dam1983Bhatsa and ChornaMaharashtra
      Pillur Dam1967BhavaniTamil Nadu
      Upper Kodayar Dam1972Kodayar
      Jakham Main Dam1986Jakham (Mahi)Rajasthan
      Lower Ghatghar Dam2007Maharashtra
      Thenmala Dam1986KalladaKerala
      Mattupetty Dam1953PalarKerala
      Tungabhadra Dam1953TungabhadraKarnataka
      Parbati DamUnder ConstructionParbatiHimachal Pradesh
      Chakra Dam1985ChakraKarnataka
      Bandardhara Dam1926ParavaraMaharashtra
      Lower Vaitarna Dam1954VaitarnaMaharashtra
      Ukai Dam1972TapiGujarat
      Upper Aliyar Dam1971AliyarTamilnadu
      Aruna DamUnder ConsructionArunaMaharashtra
      Upper Bhavani Dam1965BhavaniTamilnadu
      Podagada Dam1996PodagadaOdisha

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