Current Affairs Current Affairs - 17 December 2017 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 17 December 2017

General Affairs 

Mizoram Becomes Third Power-Surplus State In North-East: PM Modi
  • Mizoram had become the third power-surplus state in the north-east after Sikkim and Tripura, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today.

    He also said the central schemes for the benefit of the north-east had gained momentum and that his government was committed to developing the region.

    "Today, we celebrate a significant milestone in the history of Mizoram with the completion and dedication of the 60-MW Tuirial hydropower project," the prime minister said, while addressing a public meeting in Aizawl after inaugurating it.

    With the commissioning of the project, Mizoram became the third power-surplus state in the north-east, he added.

    The hydropower project would produce "251 million units" of electrical energy every year and boost the economic development of the state, PM Modi said.

    "The completion of this project is a reflection of our commitment to completing the ongoing projects and ushering in a new era of development in the north-east," he added.

    The Tuirial project, which was announced and cleared in 1998 by the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, was the first major central project to be successfully commissioned in Mizoram, the prime minister said.

After US Blow To Net Neutrality, Minister Reinforces India's Stand
  • Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad offered some comfort to spooked internet users in India today, voicing full-throated support for "net neutrality" days after the US scrapped rules that ensured a free and open internet. Speaking at an event in New Delhi, he said it was for the US to decide its stand on net neutrality but "our stand from day one is very clear - right of non-discriminatory access to internet is not negotiable".

    "Internet must be available to all. From Day One that I've been handling the portfolio of communications too, I have always said in the parliament: right of access to internet is not negotiable. I don't want to go into the debate of net neutrality that is for America to decide... I have been very clear, our government has been very clear," he said at the Times Network's Digital India Summit.

    The minister cited the example of denying an all-clear to Facebook's Free Basics platform, which intended to bring free access to some websites while leaving out others.

    "Therefore, when Facebook came to India with their Free Basics... we examined and we found it would be "free-only-when-you-enter-through-my-gate". India does not believe in one gate... very clear about it... and I did not give any permission for that," he said.

    Indian's internet regulator, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India or TRAI, had issued an order in February last year on discriminatory pricing over internet access which led to ban of platforms like Free Basics and Airtel Zero.

    Last month, TRAI finalised its recommendations on net neutrality in which it prohibited internet service providers from making any discrimination in traffic while providing web access by either blocking or throttling some apps, websites and services or by offering "fast lanes" to others.

    The Department of Telecom has to now take call on TRAI recommendations over net neutrality.

    Mr Prasad's message today earned him positive reviews from internet rights activists. "I believe internet is one of the finest creation of mankind and must be available for all. If internet is a global platform it must have link with local," Mr Prasad said.

Railways May Soon Offer Discounts Like Airlines, Hotels
  • Just like the airlines and hotels, the railways could soon be dishing out discounts on tickets if trains were not fully booked, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said today, indicating a complete revamp of the flexi-fare scheme.

    Mr Goyal's remarks came days after the Railway Board formed a six-member committee to review the flexi-fare scheme.

    Speaking after a day-long conclave of senior officials here, he said that the national transporter is studying a model of dynamic pricing, offered by the airlines and hotels.

    "We have been deliberating on a dynamic pricing policy.

    "So far we have been discussing that the price should not go up but I want to go a step ahead. I am exploring a possibility where suppose trains are not going full like in airlines we get discounted fairs.

    "We will use (Ashwani) Lohani's expertise...like there is dynamic pricing in hotels. First the prices are low..then the prices go high and then later you get discounts on the remaining rooms through bookmyhotel or other websites," Mr Goyal said.

    He also questioned why flexi-fares only were meant for price increase of rail tickets.

    "Just like the airlines and hotels where a person gets discount at that last minute, it (the railways) should also offer discounts on the routes with relatively low occupancy," he said.

    The six-member committee, set up on December 11, has been mandated to recommend ways to offer a more lucrative scheme which may include loyalty and other benefits to the passengers.

    The board has also asked the panel to consider modifications or amendments to the the flexi-fare system to offer passengers flexibility of rates during peak season, lean season or during week days, weekends or festivals.

    The committee has been asked to submit its report within 30 days.

    The flexi-fare system, launched in September 2016, led to up to 50 per cent increase in fares. Under the formula, base fares increase from 10 per cent to 50 per cent with every 10 per cent of berths booked.

    While revenue increased, the railways lost passengers as several berths remained vacant, officials said.

    Mr Goyal also said that in the coming year, plans are being made to maximise utilisation of assets.

    "In the airlines, we see the maintenance of an aircraft is completed within 30 minutes and it is made ready to go for another journe. In the same way, the railway rakes should be utilised to full capacity.

    "It is a saying that one should be able to sweat one's assets. Right now a Rajdhani Express train from Delhi to Mumbai stays at the station for maintenance. It can be maintained and cleaned by 22 teams in 30 minutes and again made fit to go on a journey of two or three hours, beside its original return journey," he said.

    "It can be utilised for a small trip in that time. Going ahead I would want that the trip between Delhi and Mumbai be completed in 11 hours and half-an-hour on each side goes in maintenance. So a round trip would become possible," the minister said.

    He was replying to a question on if the railways is exploring the possibility of a Rajdhani Express train making a round trip within 24 hours, with half-an-hour gaps for inspection at either end, to maximise utilisation.

    Mr Goyal said that while the national transporter was already trying out an experiment on the Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani by using two engines, he has also suggested that the train should depart from Delhi at 5 pm instead of 4 pm, allowing people one more hour to do work.

    "It should reach Mumbai by 7 am instead of 6 am in the morning, allowing people to sleep for an additional hour," he added.

India Is Afghanistan's Most Reliable Regional Partner: Pentagon
  • India is Afghanistan's "most reliable regional partner", the Pentagon told the US Congress today as it welcomed additional economic, medical, and civic support from New Delhi to the war-torn country.

    "India is Afghanistan's most reliable regional partner and the largest contributor of development assistance in the region," said the Pentagon in its report to the Congress titled 'Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan'.

    This assistance includes civil development projects such as the Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam and the Afghan parliament building, the report said.

    India provides significant training opportunities for Afghan officers and enlisted personnel and has frequently offered to increase its burden sharing for Afghanistan, it said, adding that approximately 130 Afghans travel to India each year to attend various military and commissioning programmes.

    India has also donated limited security assistance, most notably four Mi-35 aircraft, the Pentagon said.

    "The new South Asia policy highlighted our relationship with India and called on India to provide more assistance to the international efforts in Afghanistan. The United States welcomes additional Indian economic, medical, and civic support to Afghanistan," the Pentagon said in its report.

    This is the first report of the Pentagon to Congress after President Donald Trump announced his new Afghan and South Asia policy in August.

    "Our purpose in Afghanistan remains the same: to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a safe haven from which terrorist groups can plan and execute attacks on the United States, or our allies and citizens abroad. To accomplish this, we continue to support our Afghan partners and train, advise, and assist its military and government institutions," it said.

    Under the new strategy, the US will continue to support the Afghan government and security forces in the fight against the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria - Khorasan (ISIS-K), and other insurgents and terrorists, to strengthen the Afghan government and prevent reestablishment of terrorist safe havens in Afghanistan.

    "A major change from our previous strategy is the shift from a time-based approach to a conditions-based one. This shift underscores the US commitment to the continued development of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF), provided that our Afghan partners satisfy their obligations," the Pentagon said.

    The new strategy does not mean a return to US-led combat operations, instead, the key to success lies in improving ANDSF capabilities and allow them to lead in the fight against the Taliban, it clarified.

    "We will continue to work by, with, and through the ANDSF to help them defeat their enemies and to ultimately arrive at a political settlement in Afghanistan," said the Pentagon.

Facebook's Bid For Indian Cricket Spurred Fox Asset Sale
  • Three months before he struck a deal with Walt Disney Co., Rupert Murdoch got a sobering reminder of how quickly the media world was changing.

    The billionaire's 21st Century Fox Inc. was trying to purchase global TV rights for cricket matches in India's top league, one of dozens of bidding processes for sports programming he's participated in over his decades in the business. But this time he was competing against a new rival -- Facebook Inc., which offered $600 million to stream the matches.

    Fox eventually agreed in early September to pay $2.55 billion for TV and streaming rights for five years. But Facebook's ambitions weren't lost on Murdoch, 86, who had already begun contemplating the idea of selling major parts of Fox's media empire to a bigger rival to create a stronger competitor in an increasingly costly entertainment industry.

    Facebook's bid for the cricket was a "warning shot" that the digital giant was "coming at sport," Murdoch said in an interview on Fox Business Network on Thursday. Meanwhile, Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. have been spending lavishly to build a library of popular programs, creating a war for talent for networks like Fox's FX.

    "We're pivoting at a pivotal moment," he told Sky News.

    Murdoch and Iger sowed the seeds for the deal on a summer evening at the Australian-born billionaire's 13-acre Moraga Estate vineyard in Los Angeles. The pair, who have been in close contact in part because of their joint ownership of streaming service Hulu, discussed the disruptive forces tearing through the industry and talked about what the future might look like for their respective businesses.

    "I left thinking that there might be an opportunity for us to do something with him," Iger told Bloomberg TV on Thursday.

    As well as figuring out how best to bolster their defenses against digital rivals, succession planning was another driving force in the deal, said people familiar with the matter. Iger, who extended his contract by two years until 2021 to help implement the deal, now has the option of tapping James Murdoch to take over the reins. That could potentially solve the issue for Murdoch as well, leaving his other son, Lachlan, to run the remainder of the family empire.

    Back To Roots

    The Disney boss followed up with a phone call within weeks after the summit at the winery, and, by the start of October, the two firms were working with advisers on a potential deal that Murdoch says takes the business "back to our roots, which is news and sports."

    Iger admitted that he hadn't envisioned such a transaction being possible a year ago -- or even six months ago

Business Affairs

Aadhaar-SIM Linking: UIDAI Suspends Airtel, Airtel Payments Bank's eKYC Licence
  • In its strongest action yet, the aadhaar body (UIDAI) has temporarily barred Bharti Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank from conducting Aadhaar-based SIM verification of mobile customers using eKYC process as well as e-KYC of payments bank clients. The action follows allegations of Bharti Airtel using the Aadhaar-eKYC based SIM verification process to open payments bank accounts of its subscribers without their 'informed consent'. UIDAI also took strong objection to allegations that such payments bank accounts are being linked to receive LPG subsidy.
    UIDAI, in an interim order, "suspended e-KYC licence key of Bharti Airtel Ltd and Airtel Payment Bank Ltd with immediate effect," sources with direct knowledge of the development said. This essentially means Airtel would not be able to, in the interim, carry out 'electronic-verification' or link mobile SIMs of its customers with their 12-digit biometric national ID Aadhaar though the efficient and paperless eKYC (or electronic Know Your Customer) process of UIDAI. Also, Airtel Payments Bank will not be able to open a new account with Aadhaar e-KYC. However, accounts can be opened through alternate methods, if available. When contacted, an Airtel spokesperson said: "We can confirm that we have received interim order from the UIDAI regarding temporary suspension of Aadhaar linked e-KYC services till their satisfaction on certain processes relating to Airtel payment banks onboarding of customers."

    "We are engaging with the authority and are hopeful of an early resolution. We are also undertaking to complete the said actions on priority and have commenced thorough checks of our process flows.

    "Being compliant to all guidelines is paramount to us. In the interim, any inconvenience to our customers is regretted," the spokesperson said. More than 23 lakh customers have reportedly received as many as Rs. 47 crore in their Airtel bank accounts, which they did not know had been opened. Sources said it was brought to the notice of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) that at the time of mobile verification using Aadhaar e-KYC, the Airtel retailers were also opening Airtel Payments Bank accounts, without informed consent of the user.

    Government LPG subsidy was also getting transferred to these accounts, without their consent.

    UIDAI observed that as per agreement with the authority,

    Airtel and Airtel Bank are duty bound and under obligation to ensure security and privacy of residents' identity information. Security and privacy of Aadhaar data is a highly sensitive matter and the Supreme Court is looking into its various aspects. Suspending the 'e-KYC licence key', UIDAI ordered PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct an audit of Bharti Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank to ascertain if their systems and processes are in compliance with the Aadhaar Act. UIDAI may consider revocation of suspension or decide further necessary action upon receipt of the report. The alleged actions of Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank were found to be in violation of different sections of the Aadhaar Act, 2016, which mandates obtaining explicit consent of the individual. Violations are liable to be punished with Rs. 1 lakh per day fine and termination of authentication user agreements. Both Bharti Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank were appointed as Authentication User Agencies (AUA) by UIDAI and had entered into an agreement with UIDAI in February 2015 and September 2016 respectively for the purposes of availing authentication services provided by the authority.

    Sources said in response to the first notice of September 18, Airtel and Airtel Bank stated that they have amended their process and the opening of a bank account is completely de- linked from the process of re-verification of mobile connection.

    These replies were found to be unsatisfactory by UIDAI, which issued another notice on November 24. The company responded by saying no bank account was opened without the consent of the customers and additional safeguards have been introduced. The replies too were found to be unsatisfactory as UIDAI continued to receive numerous complaints of unauthorized opening of Airtel Payments Bank accounts.

    Sources said the interim order listed out some of the complaints and went on to state that Airtel and Airtel Bank had made "false statements" to "deceive and mislead" UIDAI. When UIDAI reviewed the Airtel mobile app, it found that when the app is opened, along with the welcome message a pre-ticked consent box is momentarily flashed on the screen which states "Upgrade or create my Airtel Payment Bank wallet using existing Airtel mobile KYC." This was found to reflect blatant disregard of Aadhaar Act and Regulations.

GST Council Clears E-Bill Mechanism For Transfer Of Goods By January 16
  • GST Council on Saturday decided to implement the e-way bill mechanism throughout the country by June 1 after reviewing the readiness of the IT network. Under the e-way bill system, goods worth more than Rs. 50,000 have to be pre-registered online before they can be moved from one state to another. The 24th meeting of the GST Council, held on Saturday via video conferencing under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, discussed the implementation of the e-way bill system in the country after reviewing readiness of hardware and software for its launch, an official statement said. "Till such time as the national e-way Bill is ready, the states were authorised to continue their own separate e-way Bill systems," it added.
    However, it was represented by the trade and transporters that this is causing undue hardship in the inter-state movement of goods and therefore, bringing in an early all- India system of e-way bill has become a necessity. As per the schedule of implementation, the nationwide e- way bill system will be ready to be rolled out on a trial basis latest by January 16, 2018, the Finance Ministry statement said. Trade and transporters can start using this system on a voluntary basis from January 16.

    Subsequently, the rules for implementation of nationwide e-way bill system for inter-state movement of goods on a compulsory basis will be notified with effect from February 1, 2018. This will bring uniformity across the states for seamless inter-state movement of goods, it said. The e-way bill mechanism has been introduced in the GST regime to plug tax evasion loopholes. Tax evasion was one of the reasons cited by the government for the fall in revenue collection in October.

    The GST revenue for October stood at Rs. 83,346 crore, the lowest since the implementation of the new indirect tax regime from July 1. It was significantly lower than the September figure of Rs. 95,131 crore. "While the system for both inter-state and intra-state e-way Bill generation will be ready by January 16, the states may choose their own timings for implementation of e-way Bill for intra-state movement of goods on any date before June 1, 2018," the statement said.

    There are certain states which already have a system of e-way bill for intra-state as well as inter-state movement and some of those states can be early adopters of the national e-way bill system for intra-state movement also, it noted.

    "But in any case, the uniform system of e-way Bill for inter-State as well as intra-state movement will be implemented across the country by June 1," it added. According to Deloitte India Senior Director R Muralidharan, the mechanism will not only help the tax authorities monitor inter-state and intra-state movement of goods but also cut transportation time by reducing loss of time at check posts. Further, this is expected to help the dealers who do inter-state transactions in multiple states as the e-way bill process will now be common across states, he said.

Cabinet Approves Amendment To Law On Cheque Bounce Cases
  • The Cabinet on Friday approved an amendment to a current law to allow for payment of an interim compensation in cheque dishonour cases with a view not to allow unscrupulous elements holding payments, pending long trial, sources said.

    An amendment to the Negotiable Instrument Act will allow a court to order for payment of an interim compensation to those whose cheques have bounced due to dishonouring parties, a move aimed at promoting a less cash economy.

    The amendment is likely to be introduced in the ongoing winter session of Parliament.  

    Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, while briefing the media about the Cabinet's decisions, said amendment to Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 has been approved.

    The minister, however, did not provide details about the proposed amendment.

    However, sources said the amendment would enable the court to order interim compensation to the payee of a cheque, a part of the cheque amount at the trial stage.

    If the drawer is acquitted, the court may direct the payee to repay the amount paid as interim compensation with interest, they said.

    Similarly, appellate courts would be enabled to order the appellant to deposit a part of the compensation awarded by the trial court at the time of filing appeal.

    The amendment has been proposed to help trade and commerce, particularly the MSME sector, and in order to increase the credibility of the cheque as a financial instrument, sources added.

    Dishonouring of cheques due to inadequate funds in the account of the drawer of the cheque or for other reasons causes lot of distress in the trade, business and MSME sectors.

    Dishonouring of cheque causes incalculable loss and inconvenience to payees and "erodes the credibility" of cheques to a large extent.

    The Cabinet, sources said, considered the proposal to amend the Negotiable Instruments Act to "address various representations" from the public as well as the trading community regarding the "injustice caused to payees" as a result of pendency of cheque dishonour cases.

    "The common themes in such representations are delay tactics by unscrupulous drawers of dishonoured cheques, relatively easy filing of appeals and obtaining stay on proceedings," they said.

    A payee of a dishonoured cheque has to spend considerable time and resources in court proceedings to realise money due to him.

    The amendment is in line with the government's push to make India a less cash economy.

    It is to be mentioned here that cheques are an integral part of the payments landscape, and form the backbone of trade and commerce, by being negotiable instruments.

Trump Administration May Stop Spouses Of H-1B Visa Holders From Working
  • US President Donald Trump's administration is set to propose revoking a rule that makes spouses of thousands of H-1B visa holders eligible to work while in the US, potentially complicating a major driver of technology jobs, the media reported. Since 2015, the spouses of H-1B, or high-skilled, visa holders waiting for green cards have been eligible to work in the US on H-4 dependent visas, under a rule introduced by former President Barack Obama's administration, CNN reported.

    The tech sector is a major employer of H-1B visa holders. But in a statement late Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security said that it intended to do away with the rule. However, the department did not explain its reasons in the announcement, saying that it was only acting "in light of" the "Buy American, Hire American" executive order that Trump had signed in April.

    The formal process to rescind the rule will still need to be initiated at a later date.

    While changing the rule would not prevent spouses of H-1B holders from pursuing other avenues for work authorisation, it could deter a number of high-skilled immigrants from staying in the US if their spouses cannot easily find work.

    As well as dropping the rule allowing spouses to work, the Department of Homeland Security statement mentioned plans for other changes to the H-1B visa programme, reports CNN.

    They include revising the definition of what occupations are eligible for the programme "to increase focus on truly obtaining the best and brightest foreign nationals", which would be a standard potentially far above what is currently understood under the law.

    The Obama-era rule allowing spouses to work already faces a legal challenge. A group called Save Jobs USA filed a lawsuit in April 2015 arguing that it threatens American jobs.

    It has continued to press the case following Trump's election, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said in the past that the H-4 rule "hurts American workers".

    The administration's plans to overhaul the H-1B programme has caused particular alarm in India, which accounts for 70 per cent of all H-1B workers.

    The H-1B is a common visa route for highly skilled foreigners to find work at companies in the US. It is valid for three years, and can be renewed for another three years.

    It is a programme that's particularly popular in the tech community, with many engineers vying for one of the programme's 85,000 visas each year.

    In October, the government said it was toughening up the process for renewing the visa. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services instructed its officers to review requests for renewal as thoroughly as they would initial visa applications.

    Fed's Rosy Economic Scenario Leaves Inflation Puzzle For Incoming Chief Jerome Powell
    • As incoming Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell works through his holiday shopping list, he might consider the nearly 50 per cent discount he could get buying Calvin Klein underwear online instead of at the local mall.

      In the litany of reasons that explains why US consumer price inflation has stalled, the drop in clothing prices last month, which was the largest in 20 years, takes its place alongside cheap cellphone contracts, one-off declines in drug prices and cheap gasoline, among others.

      The US central bank considers all of these price drops "transitory," but there have been enough in a row for the Fed to miss its inflation target five years running, and fresh economic projections this week indicate policymakers remain mystified about why prices are not rising, given unemployment is at a 17-year low and the economy is growing steadily.

      When the Federal Reserve met this week and raised short-term interest rates for the fifth time since late 2015, the inflation issue triggered two dissents among the nine voters on the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee, and that division could widen.

      "Inflation... is too low and has been for some time," Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said in a dissenting statement on Friday.

      Mr Evans, who will not be voting on monetary policy in 2018, framed low inflation as a long-term problem if businesses and households stop believing the Fed is committed to its 2 per cent inflation target.

      A low but steady level of inflation is considered healthy in developed economies, but it depends importantly on public psychology and expectations that Mr Evans said "appear to me to have drifted down."

      New chair, old problem

      The debate will likely dog Mr Powell during his early months as Fed chief. It will be hard for the Fed to justify further rate increases unless inflation moves towards the central bank's target.

      That, in turn, would saddle Mr Powell with exceptionally low interest rates, and little room to respond with rate reductions in the event of a recession.

      Fed Chair Janet Yellen, in her final press conference as head of the central bank, had little advice other than to acknowledge that something may be fundamentally wrong about how the Fed looks at inflation, unemployment and the important relationship between them.

      "I have tried to be straightforward in saying that this could end up being something that is more ingrained and turns out to be permanent. It's very important to watch it and, if necessary, rethink," Ms Yellen told reporters on Wednesday, referring to the Fed's inflation miss.

      The economic projections issued this week after the Fed's policy meeting contained what seems to be an internal tension.

      Economic growth is forecast to accelerate next year, and unemployment to drop to 3.9 per cent from the current 4.1 per cent. That should put it at a level low enough to mean workers have leverage to demand wage increases and businesses feel emboldened to raise prices.

      Yet inflation is not seen rising and the Fed did not say it expects to raise rates any faster than already planned.

      Federal Reserve officials say their preferred forecast for inflation is around 1.7 per cent for this year, rising to 1.9 per cent in 2018, then reaching 2.0 per cent in 2019 and staying there.

      They have made similar projections in the past, and been wrong.

      On the list of possible reasons, Ms Yellen, like Mr Evans, cited a possible slip in public expectations. She said the Fed may also simply misunderstand how inflation and unemployment relate in the current economy, with millions of working-age adults still on the sidelines of the job market, more choosing part-time work, and an expanding "gig economy".

      Theoretically, there is an unemployment rate below which inflation rises, and while estimates of that "have come down," Ms Yellen said, "it's conceivable that they need to come down even more."

      In the projections last week, the median forecast of Fed officials kept that estimated "longer-run" unemployment rate at 4.6 per cent. Yet they also saw unemployment averaging below 4 per cent through 2020 without any appreciable jump in inflation, another seeming contradiction.

      Retail experts and analysts who follow inflation say the Fed's inflation outlook is not likely to get any help soon from the prices of clothes, home appliances, electronics, cars or other goods.

      The 1.3 per cent drop in apparel prices recorded in November was the largest since 1998, when the move to globalized supply chains and the integration of China into the world economy were still gaining momentum.

      Now, it is the transformation of how things are sold and how consumers shop that is holding down prices, said Blerina Uruci, vice president of economic research at Barclays, and there is no sign of the process letting up soon.

      The use of e-commerce sites like Amazon still only accounts for about 10 per cent of retail sales, Uruci noted, and the impact of technological innovation on sales and distribution will likely take years to run its course.

      Meanwhile, consumers are becoming more adept with the tools at hand. Anyone looking for underwear in a brick-and-mortar store can quickly compare prices on a phone.

      Technology is "allowing shoppers to push retailers towards a very competitive environment," said Rick Helfenbein, president and chief executive officer of the American Apparel and Footwear Association.

    General Awareness

    Quiz from Current Affairs

      1. The Supreme Court of India has extended the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar card with bank accounts, mobile numbers and various other government schemes by______
        A) February 28, 2018
        B) April 30, 2018
        C) March 31, 2018
        D) May 1, 2018
          Option C
        Explanation: 
        The Supreme Court agreed with the Centre’s submissions and set the deadline of linking of Aadhaar card with bank accounts, mobile numbers and various other schemes as March 31, 2018. Earlier the deadline for linking with mobile was February 6, 2018.
      2. Name the first ever mobile app launched by Mumbai Metro One to enhance the safety of commuters
        A) SafeCare
        B) SecuCare
        C) SafeTravel
        D) SecuProg
          Option B
        Explanation: 
        Mumbai Metro One launched the first mobile security product, “SecuCare” app to make commuters more secure. With the help of this app, a commuter can click pictures or make videos which will get directly transmitted to the Central Security Control Room of the Metro Corporate Centre in DN Nagar, along with the commuter’s train and exact physical location.
      3. The Government of India has given its approval for the establishment of an International Training Centre for Operational Oceanography by UNESCO in which city?
        A) Hyderabad
        B) New Delhi
        C) Bangalore
        D) Pune
          Option A
        Explanation: 
        The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the establishment of an International Training Centre for Operational Oceanography in Hyderabad by Unesco. The establishment of Unesco Category-2 centre will provide an opportunity for India to emerge as a leading country in the Indian Ocean.
      4. The Union Home Ministry has set new time deadline for ATM replenishment due to the ever increasing cash van robbery cases in the country.What is the new time deadline in urban areas?
        A) 9 p.m
        B) 10 p.m
        C) 6 p.m
        D) 11 p.m
          Option A
        Explanation: 
        In view of spate of cash van robberies across the country earlier, the Union Home Ministry has proposed a new draft standard operating procedures (SOP) for replenishing ATMs, setting a deadline for 9 p.m. in urban areas, 6 p.m. in rural areas and 4 p.m. in Maoist-affected areas.
      5. NASA scientists have recently discovered an eighth planet orbiting the Kepler-90 system using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. Name the newly spotted planet.
        A) Kepler-91i
        B) Kepler-90i
        C) Kepler-9i
        D) Kepler-90!
          Option B
        Explanation: 
        NASA has announced the discovery of an eight planet orbiting Kepler-90, a star comparable to the Sun located 2,545 light-years from the Earth. With eight planets, the Kepler-90 system equals our own system in terms of the number of planets orbiting a single star. Astronomers have yet to detect a system with more than eight planets.
      6. Which country hosted the Eleventh World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC11)?
        A) Uruguay
        B) Chile
        C) Brazil
        D) Argentina
          Option D
        Explanation: 
        The Eleventh World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC11) was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu had led the Indian delegation in the conference.
      7. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has tightened its order for ban on the use, sale manufacture of plastic items in Haridwar and Rishikesh and has imposed a fine of Rs _____ on violators.
        A) Rs 5000
        B) Rs 6000
        C) Rs 7000
        D) Rs 10000
          Option A
        Explanation: 
        The National Green Tribunal (NGT) reiterated its 2015 order banning the use, sale, manufacturing and storage of plastic items in the pilgrimage towns of Haridwar and Rishikesh in Uttarakhand. The tribunal ordered a fine of Rs 5,000 on the violators.  
      8. In order to boost digital payments, the government has decided to waive Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) on all debit card/BHIM UPI/ AePS transactions of up to ______
        A) Rs 1500
        B) Rs 2000
        C) Rs 2500
        D) Rs 1000
          Option B
        Explanation: 
        To encourage widespread usage of digital payments, the government has decided that no Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) charges will be levied on debit card transactions of up to Rs 2,000. Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) applicable on all debit card/BHIM UPI/ AePS transactions up to and including a value of Rs 2000 will be be borne by government for 2 years with effect from 1 January, 2018 by reimbursing same to the banks.
      9. The 3rd edition of the World Telugu Conference has been organized in which city?
        A) Chennai
        B) Bangalore
        C) Bhubaneswar
        D) Hyderabad
          Option D
        Explanation: 
        The third World Telugu Conference began in Hyderabad, Telangana. The aim of the Conference is to promote Telugu and its literature besides helping the present generation learn more about Telugu language and its rich culture and heritage.
      10. Who has been elected to be the next President of Indian Olympic Association (IOA) for 2018-22 session?
        A) Rajeev Mehta
        B) Narinder Batra
        C) Rakesh Gupta
        D) R.K. Anand
          Option B
        Explanation: 
        International Hockey Federation (FIH) chief Narinder Batra was elected the president of Indian Olympic Association (IOA) in an Annual General Body Meeting. He will succeed N Ramachandran.
      11. What is the official name of the recently unveiled Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic emblem?
        A) Flying High
        B) Leap
        C) Winter Dream
        D) Water Cube
          Option C
        Explanation: 
        The emblems of the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, respectively named “Winter Dream” and “Flight,” have been unveiled in Beijing, China.
      12. Who has been honoured with the 2017 BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year?
        A) Usain Bolt
        B) Roger Federer
        C) Rafael Nadal
        D) Muhammad Ali
          Option B
        Explanation: 
        Roger Federer has been voted BBC overseas sports personality of the year for a record fourth time.

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