Current Affairs Current Affairs - 22 December 2017 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 22 December 2017

General Affairs 

2G case verdict: CBI, ED to appeal against decision
  • Following a stinging observation made by Special CBI court judge OP Saini, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) decided to appeal against the acquittal of all the accused in the 2G spectrum case.

    Reliable sources within the agency have told India Today that the top leadership of CBI immediately decided that they would appeal before the higher court, since they strongly believe that the have ample evidence against the accused in the case. Typically, CBI takes the 90-day legal window before taking any decision to appeal. But in this case the decision was taken immediately after the verdict came in. Another CBI source said, "the apex court cancelled the licences on the basis of certain evidence. Can that be ignored."

    A special CBI court today pronounced the judgement on the 2G spectrum allocation case after a 6 years-trial. The special court acquitted all the people accused in the case.

    The Enforcement Directorate (ED) will also appeal against the judgement, PTI quoted agency sources as saying.

    BJP leader Subramanian Swamy also said the government should appeal in the High Court against the 2G case verdict.

    The CBI probe in the 2G spectrum case was ordered after Swamy became a petitioner in a PIL filed by Centre for Public Interest Litigation or CPIL in 2012.

    Congress and DMK leadership erupted in celebration after the verdict was announced acquitting former telecom minister A Raja and DMK leader M Kanimozhi. DMK's working president, MK Stalin, said that the verdict further proves that nothing wrong was done.

    Former PM Manmohan Singh said in a statement said that a "vicious campaign and propaganda" was launched against his government back then.

Kulbhushan Jadhav's mother and wife to fly to Islamabad
  • The Pakistani Foreign Office spokesperson on Thursday said that Kulbhushan Jadhav's mother and wife would travel to Islamabad by air.

    Earlier there were speculations that they could cross over through Wagah border but India Today has learnt through sources in Pakistan that it was at the behest of the Indian government that they agreed to being flown in rather than driving down from Lahore.

    Sources say that India cited security reasons for travelling by air. Pak spokesperson Dr. Mohammad Faisal told media persons that the "meeting will take place on Dec 25th in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad."

    Former Indian naval officer, Kulbhushan Jadhav, has been under the captivity of the Pakistani military since March 2016 and this would be his first contact with anyone other than the military officials of Pakistan.

    When asked about the travel plans, Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar refused to divulge any detail regarding the travel plans.

    "I have been hearing a lot of things about this particular meeting. Modalities are still being worked out. Who goes when and how are still being worked out", he said.

    Pakistan has also proposed media interaction with the mother and wife after the meeting. Pak spokesperson had said, "Pakistan is willing to permit media interaction with wife and mother. We are waiting for response from India."

    The Indian side is deliberating on these proposals and will take a call on it. While India Today has learnt that the Jadhav family is likely to fly out on the 24th, for now the Ministry of External Affairs made it very clear that the logistics details would not be made public.

Medical syringe manufacturers to cut prices to avoid govt axe
  • Medical syringe prices may come down from next year. Manufacturers of disposable syringes have decided to cap trade margins at 75 per cent from ex-factory/import landed to MRP.

    The Executive Body and larger membership of All India Syringe & Needle Manufacturing Association (AISNMA) have decided that with effect from Consumer Day on December 24th, 2017 all members will print reduced MRP on basis of a Voluntary Capped Trade Margins of maximum 75% over their discounted net ex-factory prices (including GST) and implement this latest by Republic Day, January 26th, 2018. This period is to allow all manufacturers to clear current stock of their packing material with current MRPs and enable smooth transition. This covers all categories of syringes and needles - disposable, auto disable, reuse prevention, needle stick prevention, insulin pen needle etc.

    The move comes after a meeting between the manufacturers and the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) officials. The NPPA had told the medical syringe manufacturers to cut down price or the government will be forced to act.

    The regulator in its meeting with the manufacturers had conveyed government's concern about over pricing of syringes. The issue of overpriced medical consumables got highlighted during the recent Fortis Gurugram episode.

    NPPA in its inquiry has found that the hospital had overcharged the family of deceased seven-year-old dengue patient for medical consumables. The girl's parents had complained they were billed heavily for 1,600 gloves, 660 syringes and many high-end antibiotics. The data submitted by the hospital showed that it had charged as high as Rs 70 for a 5ml syringe while the procurement price was just Rs 15. NPPA inquiry into all the medical bills related to the case found several violations by the hospital.

    "In the meeting with about 28 syringe manufacturers, the NPPA warned us on imminent action by government if India, our suggestions were sought and market dynamics feedback was also taken," said one of the manufacturers on condition of anonymity.

    Rajiv Nath, president of the AISNMA, told India Today that this step should be seen as a contribution by the manufacturers to the citizens of the country for patients benefit.

    "AISNMA initiates path breaking self-regulations on syringes and needles, a first in the Medical Devices Industry, we are sincerely attempting to address the systemic issues of irrational MRP," he added.

Farmers unrest brewing in Madhya Pradesh, milk spilled on streets in Morena, semi-nude protests staged in Sheopur
  • Farmers' unrest is once again brewing in Madhya Pradesh. Hundreds of farmers protested on the streets in Sheopur and Morena districts on Thursday demanding a canal and better price for milk. They have also threatened to intensify their stir by Friday.

    In Sheopur district, farmers of 35 villages on Thursday staged an indefinite semi-nude protest at the district headquarters demanding construction of a canal from the Chambal river. The agitating farmers had earlier held five panchayats and protested for seven days seeking an assurance from the government.

    While in Morena district's Salabgharh town, farmers spilled milk on the streets demanding better price. The farmers in Morena have announced a massive protest on Friday in which thousands are expected to participate.

    The agitating farmers of both the districts have alleged that they have been given false assurances by the government in past, and that this time around, the protests would be much bigger in scale than the Mandsaur protests that rocked the state in June this year.

    Five farmers were killed in police firing in Morena in June this year when they were protesting for a better price for their produce. The government in a haste had announced a minimum support price for onions and pulses, but failed to pacify the agitating farmers.

    In an attempt to mitigate the damage caused by the Mandsaur farmers' protest , the government had later launched a 'Bhavantar Scheme' under which farmers were to be paid the difference between their selling price and the average of the selling price of three neighbouring states.

    Farmers have alleged that the 'Bhavantar Scheme' is a farce as no one is getting the direct cash as was promised by the state government.

    "The scheme has in fact worked to the disadvantage of the farmers as we are not getting the promised cash and also the leaders have further lowered the prices," an agitating farmer said.

    Agrarian distress is a major cause of concern for Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who misses no opportunity in calling himself a farmer's son and has won past elections by promising to double the income of farmers.

Roti Bank: Ex-cop joins Mumbai's dabbawalas to distribute leftover party food among the poor
  • Food wastage is one the biggest disasters in our urban world, a sin almost each of us is guilty of. Making an effort to curb this are the legendary dabbawalas of Mumbai.

    Last year, the dabbawalas, a network of lunch box delivery agents, decided to start an initiative to distribute leftover food from parties, weddings, etc. among the poor. They named it Mumbai Roti Bank.

    To make this initiative a more systematic process scientific, former Police Commissioner D Shivanandan joined the Roti Bank with his equally-minded friends from Corporate World.

    Now, Shivanandan has funded a vehicle, stainless steel utensils, etc. to the dabbawalas, so that leftover food are not taken in plastic bags or dabbas which are unhygienic.

    NGO Roti Bank also has a phone number for people to call and donate their leftover food to these dabbawalas at any given point of time. This food can then be delivered to the poor living in South Mumbai to Dadar area.

    Shivanandan also has long-term plans to expand Roti Bank's service in other cities within Maharashtra, and later, across India.

Business Affairs

RBI holding back Rs 2000 notes worth Rs 2.4 lakh crore: SBI Report
  • The most visible after-effect of demonetisation, apart from snaking queues outside ATMs, was the introduction of the bright pink Rs 2,000 notes. But it seems the government has already lost its interest in the one-year-old currency note. According to an SBI Research report, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) may either be holding back the high denomination note or could have already stopped printing it. The Ecoflash report titled "Are Rs 2,000 high denomination notes being held back?" juxtaposed data presented in the Lok Sabha recently with the latest RBI Annual Report to arrive at this conclusion.

    The value of small denomination currency in circulation up to March 2017 was Rs 3.5 lakh crore. This implied that the value of high denomination notes was equivalent to Rs 13.3 lakh crore as on December 8, after netting out the small denomination notes from the currency in circulation on that day. The report further said that, as per the finance ministry's disclosures in the Lok Sabha, the RBI had printed 16,957 million pieces of Rs 500 notes and 3,654 million pieces of Rs 2,000 notes till December 8. The total value of the latter, thus, stood at Rs 15.7 lakh crore.

    "This means that the residual amount of high currency notes of Rs 2.4 lakh crore (Rs 15.7 lakh crore minus Rs 13.3 lakh crore) may have been printed by the RBI but not supplied in the market," said the report authored by Soumya Kanti Ghosh, group chief economic adviser, SBI. Interestingly, the report added "it is safe to assume" that the above figure of Rs 2.4 lakh crore may be on the lower side as the RBI must have printed notes of small denomination in the interregnum (Rs 50 and Rs 200).

    "As a logical corollary, as the Rs 2,000 denomination currency led to challenges in transactions, it thus indeed seems that RBI may have either consciously stopped printing the 2,000 denomination notes/or printing in smaller numbers after initially it was printed in ample amount to normalise the liquidity situation," it said.

    Speculation about the pink note being phased out actually began within a month of its introduction. As early as December 2016, RSS ideologue S. Gurumurthy had said that eventually Rs 2,000 notes would be taken out of circulation because it was a stopgap measure to quickly remonetise India. By summer this year, there were various media reports either claiming that the supply of the currency note had declined or that that RBI had already stopped printing them. But the government has been consistently denying such reports. Just four months back, when asked whether the government is considering phasing out Rs 2000 notes, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said "No, there was no such discussion."

    Only one thing is for sure for now: There are a lot fewer pink notes in circulation.

Reliance Infra sells Mumbai power business to Adani for Rs 18,800 crore to pare debt
  • There's no clear idea on how much time it'll take for Reliance Communications to address its debt problem but Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group's infrastructure company, Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) will soon become debt-free. RInfra, as part of its deleveraging strategy for future growth, on Thursday signed a deal with Adani Transmission Limited (ATL) for a 100 per cent stake in its Mumbai power business for a value of Rs 13,251 crore. As part of the deal, the ATL will take control of the integrated business of power generation, transmission and distribution. According to Rinfra, India's largest private integrated power utility, the latest deal is the largest ever debt reduction exercise by any corporate. Following the signing of the deal between RInfra and Adani Transmission, the shares of both the companies surged up to 10 per cent on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) in intra-day trade.

    Though the deal has been signed for a total consideration of Rs 18,800 crore, its actual value is Rs 13,251 crore that comprises the entire power business valued at Rs 12,101 crore and regulatory assets of Rs 1,150. Besides, the company said regulatory assets of Rs 5,000 crore and net working capital of Rs 550 crore will flow directly to RInfra. "The acquisition marks our foray into the distribution sector in India. We see distribution as the next sunrise sector as India embarks on its mission to achieve 24x7 power for all," said Gautam Adani, Chairman of the Adani Group. He added there was a "massive opportunity" for organic as well as inorganic growth.

    Reliance Infrastructure's Mumbai power business is a gigantic power generation and distribution system that caters to a population of more than 3 million people in residential, industrial and commercial consumers of Mumbai. With a power generation capacity of over 1,800 mw, Reliance Energy generates annual revenues of Rs 7,500 crore with stable cash flows. For the quarter that ended in September, Reliance Infrastructure posted a net profit of Rs 5.44 billion and reported a total debt of around Rs 140 billion. Anil Ambani-led Reliance Infrastructure on December 6 had bagged contracts worth Rs 5,000 crore through international competitive bidding in Bangladesh to set up infrastructure for a 750 mw LNG-based combined cycle power plant.

Astron Paper IPO subscribed 243.20 times on last day
  • The initial public offer of kraft paper manufacturer Astron Paper and Board Mills was subscribed 243.20 times on the last day of bidding on Wednesday.

    The IPO which aims to raise Rs 70 crore received bids for 3,40,48,47,040 shares against the total issue size of 1,40,00,000 shares, data available with the NSE showed.

    The portion reserved for qualified institutional buyers (QIBs) was subscribed 103.36 times, non institutional investors 396.99 times and retail investors 76.26 times, merchant banking sources said. The IPO was open for subscription from December 15 to December 20, 2017 in a price band of Rs 45 to Rs 50 per share.

    Pantomath Capital Advisors Private Limited is the book running lead manager to the offer. The equity shares of the company are proposed to be listed on the NSE and BSE.

    Incorporated in 2010, Astron Paper and Board Mills' is engaged in manufacturing of kraft paper. The company has manufacturing facility in Gujarat.

    The company mainly caters to packaging industry and has been able to develop a loyal clientele network consisting of various packaging companies and MNCs

    It is one of the major kraft paper manufacturers in Gujarat with manufacturing facility having an installed capacity of 96,000 mt tonnes per annum.

DB Realty, Sun TV Network, Unitech stocks close up to 20% higher post 2G scam verdict
  • The stocks of companies linked to the 2G scam rose after a special CBI court acquitted all the key accused in the Rs 1.76 lakh crore scam.

    DB Realty (19.94%), Sun TV Network Ltd  (5.03% ) and Unitech (15.82%)  gained in early morning trade on BSE .

    While DB Realty closed 19.89 percent higher to 43.70 level, Sun TV Network gained  4.51% or 42.35 points to 982.10 on BSE. The Unitech stock rose 11.86% to 7.92 level on the BSE.

    The scam came to light almost seven years ago when auditing agency Comptroller and Auditor General or CAG in a report held then Telecom Minister A Raja responsible for causing the state exchequer a loss of Rs 1,76,379 crore by allocating 2G spectrum licences at throwaway prices. But, today the court found that the prosecution failed to prove the charges.

    DB Realty managing director Shahid Balwa in March 2011 resigned from the company's board of directors after his firm was accused of being a beneficiary of the Rs 1.76 lakh crore 2G scam.

    According to allegations, Maran family-owned Sun TV Network was a beneficiary of pay-offs in the 2G scam by an overseas telecom firm.

    Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd Managing Director Sanjay Chandra's name cropped up in the scam, after his firm the Indian partner of Norway's Telenor was among one of the two firms accused of being favoured by former telecom minister A Raja when mobile phone licences were issued in 2008.

    Meanwhile, the Sensex closed 21 points lower to 33,756 level. The Nifty was down 4 points to 10,440 level .

    Lodha Developers looking to raise up to $1 billion via IPO
    • Lodha Developers is looking to raise up to $1 billion through an initial public offering that is likely to be launched next year, two people with knowledge of the plan told IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication.

      The Sensex and Nifty have surged almost 30 percent this year, bolstered by strong foreign inflows, spurring companies to raise a record of more than $11 billion through IPOs so far this year.

      The company had planned an IPO of Rs 2800 crore ($437 million) in 2010, but it was shelved due to a weak stock market.

      The real estate developer has hired Citic CLSA, Kotak and Morgan Stanley for the IPO, the people said, adding that more banks were likely to join the syndicate, IFR said.

      Lodha is currently developing an estimated 43 million square feet of real estate and has 28 ongoing projects across London, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and Bangalore, according to its website.

      The S&P BSE Realty Index is up 97 percent since the start of the year.

    General Awareness

    India’s first National Rail and Transportation University at Vadodara

    • Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the Ministry of Railways’ transformative initiative to set up the first ever National Rail and Transport University (NRTU) in Vadodara to skill its human resources and build capability. This innovative idea will be a catalyst for transformation of rail and transport sector towards New India.

      Key facts:

      The University will be set up as a Deemed to Be University under de novo category as per the UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2016.
      A not-for-profit Company under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013 will be created by the Ministry of Railways which shall be the Managing Company of the proposed university.
      The company will provide financial and infrastructural support to the university, and appoint Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor of the university.
      Board of Management, comprising professionals and academics, shall be independent of the Managing Company with full autonomy to perform its academic and administrative responsibilities.
      The funding of the new University/Institute is to entirely come from Ministry of Railways. 

      Significance of this move:

      The university plans to use latest pedagogy and technology applications (satellite based tracking, Radio Frequency Identification and Artificial Intelligence) to improve on-the-job performance and productivity. Close collaboration with the Indian Railways will ensure that the stakeholders have access to Railways’ facilities, which will work as ‘live labs’ and they will be able to work on solving real life problems. It will have ‘Centres of Excellence’ showcasing high-end, niche technology like High Speed Train.

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