Current Affairs Current Affairs - 05 January 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 05 January 2018

General Affairs 

Black wheat: From curing cancer to controlling weight, here's what you need to know about it
  • In this age of social media, applications like WhatsApp, Facebook, etc have started replacing traditional and reliable news sources.

    The drawback?

    These news items are often unverified.

    Recently, a similar incident happened when a post about black wheat went viral over social media platforms.

    The post mentioned that the new type of wheat has been produced after seven years of research and has the capacity to cure health issues like cancer and diabetes. It was claimed that this new type of wheat will be sold at double the price of normal wheat. Moreover, it was also stated that National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute has the patent of the same.

    As usual, the post was believed by many people. But how true was the information?

    Apparently, when NABI was consulted for the same, it turned out that there wasn't just black-coloured wheat, but there were samples of blue and purple wheat as well. This is because of the different levels of athocyanin in it.

    Anthocyanins are the pigments that determine the colours of fruits and vegetables. The concentration of these pigments further determine the colour of the food item. Normal wheat has a 5ppm concentration of anthocyanin, whereas black wheat is reported to have around 100-200ppm of anthocyanin. This makes black wheat, scientifically, a healthier option.

    Apart from anthocyanin, there is also a difference in the food values offered in normal and black wheat. Both have different levels of zinc and iron as well. Black wheat is said to have around 60 per cent more iron concentration than normal wheat. However, the amount of protein, nutrients and starch remain the same.

    Clearly, black wheat is the winner in terms of health.

    But, coming back to the post. It had been claimed that black wheat has the capacity to cure cancer, manage weight, and control blood pressure and cholesterol. But according to experts, all these tests have shown a positive result in case of mice. Human beings are yet to be part of the testing. So, it cannot be claimed that black wheat is the cure for all the aforementioned health issues.

    Moreover, products made of black wheat are also not yet available in the market. In such a case, it is difficult to estimate its price as well.

    Well, even though black wheat does exist with quite a lot of health benefits, all the claims in the post aren't true.

India all set to launch 31 satellites on January 10
  • As India's first space mission in the year 2018, India will launch 31 satellites including the earth observation spacecraft Cartosat. The launching is scheduled on January 10, from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C40) will also carry 28 satellites from USA and five other countries.

    The PSLV- C40 will launch four months after a similar rocket failed to launch India's eighth navigation satellite in the Earth's lower orbit in August 2017.

    "The sixth Cartosat in the second series and other satellites are integrated with the rocket at the spaceport. The mission launch board will decide the rocket's lift-off time for the reverse countdown two days ahead," said Devi Prasad Karnik, Director, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in an interview to IANS.

    The cartosat 2 is expected to capture high quality images for cartographic, rural and urban applications and other uses like road network monitoring.

    Apart from Cartosat 2, the payload will also include one nano and microsatellite from India. Scientists are taking special care to make sure that the 44.4 metre rocket will put the 720 kg Cartosat and other satellites into their correct orbits.

    After the failure of the August 31st mission, ISRO aims to make up for it by launching at least one satellite launch every month in 2018.

    Among the launches lined up for the first half of the year, ISRO plans to deploy GSAT-6A, and GSAT-29 advanced communication satellites in the geosynchronous orbit.

    ISRO has also planned to launch its second lunar mission- Chandrayan-2, with an orbiter, lander and rover for the first time. Chandrayan-2 will study the moon's lunar conditions by collecting data on its topography, mineralogy, exosphere. Moreover, it will study the presence of water, ice and hydroxyl.

PM Modi's Mann ki baat becomes the most trended hastag in India in 2017
  • In this age of social media, the concept of hashtags is not alien to most people. Every day, social sites witness a new set of hashtags around which, users from all over the world put their thoughts forward.

    Some hastags, though, go on to grab the maximum attention and turn out to be the most trending ones.

    This year, #MannKiBaat became the favourite most trending topic on Twitter for India.

    Mann Ki Baat is a radio programme hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the last Sunday of every month. It features on All India Radio, DD National and DD News.

    One of the factors that makes the show so popular is that listeners are also invited to send their own audios. Every month, some selected audios are broadcast on the show.

    In fact, the Mann ki Baat alone fetches a large amount of revenue for All India Radio.

    #Mannkibaat sparked a great deal of commentary all over the year, including a tweet from cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar that went viral.

    Thank you @PMOIndia for the mention. Preparation is key for it a student or a player. Focus makes the challenge less daunting.

    - sachin tendulkar (@sachin_rt) January 29, 2017

    Mann ki Baat started in October 2014. To expand more and reach maximum population possible, the show is being planned to be broadcast in regional dialects too. 

    While #ManKiBaat topped the list,  #jalikattu and #GST were not far behind.

    Jallikattu, a traditional Tamilian bull-taming sport, was in the spotlight earlier in 2017, and gained the second spot.

    GST, which sparked mixed opinions among people, went on to become the third most trending topic in India on Twitter.

    Apart from these, there were many more hashtags that ruled social media platforms: #MumbaiRains and #TripleTalaq emerged as some of the top trending hashtags of the year.

    Other trending hashtags of 2017 were #Demonetisation, #SwachhBharat, #UttarPradesh, #GujaratElections and #Aadhaar.

Lalu to remain active on social media despite being in jail
  • RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav who has been convicted in the Rs 950 crore fodder scam case is presently inside the Birsa Munda jail in Ranchi.

    Lalu who has remained pretty active on social networking site Twitter in the last few months is definitely being missed by his followers as he has not tweeted anything in the last 48 hours. His last post was minutes after he was arrested on Saturday.

    However, Lalu was back on Twitter on Monday evening and he tweeted about his innovative method which he would be adopting from now on to communicate with his followers.

    Lalu said that from now on whenever he has to share his views on any issue, national as well as related to Bihar, he would be tweeting about it and and his Twitter handle would be operated by his office or his family members.

    So the question arises is how would Lalu's office or his family come to know about what he wants to share.

    For this, he would be using the services of those who would be visiting him inside the Birsa Munda jail in Ranchi. Tweeting about this on Monday, he said that his visitors would convey his message to his family members who would then tweet his opinion.

    "Dear Friends! While in jail my Twitter handle shall be operated by my office in consultation with family. I shall speak my mind through visitors. The fight to preserve the constitution and protect the right now vulnerable groups shall go on", tweeted, Lalu Prasad Yadav, RJD chief.

Largest amphibious aircraft has its maiden flight in China
  • The world's largest amphibious aircraft in production, AG600, took its maiden flight on December 25 from Zhuhai . Also known as 'Kunlong', it flew for a duration of one hour.

    Flight AG600 is roughly the same size as a Boeing 737 and has four turboprop engines. It has a capacity of carrying 50 people and has a maximum takeoff weight of 53.5 tonnes.

    The wingspan is of 38.8 m. It took eight years to develop the airplane and is known as "protector spirit of the sea, islands and reefs".

    The amphibious aircraft is expected to serve in firefighting and marine rescue. It is also reported that there are around 17 orders placed with the manufacturer Aviation Industry Corporation of China.

    It is also being compared to billionaire Howard Hughes' flying boat, also known as Spruce Goose. Although Flight AG600 is comparatively smaller than the Spruce Goose, but has better capabilities.

    The Spruce Goose had a wing span of 97.54m. However, it could fly only once for 26 seconds in 1947.

    The new and largest amphibious aircraft is anticipated to strengthen China 's military forces. Earlier this year, China also launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier, Type 001A

Business Affairs

    Anil Ambani opens up on game plan for RCom's future, disruption caused by Reliance Jio
    • 2017 was the best of times and the worst of times for Reliance ADAG Chairman Anil Ambani. On one hand, his debt-ridden flagship company - Reliance Communications (RCom) - was forced to exit the wireless telecom business, while on the other hand, his executives were finally cleared of all wrongdoing in the 2G scam case. Here's a look at the impact that these two events will have on his fortunes, and his game plan for the future.

      RCom-Jio deal

      "For 10 years, 40 quarters, RCom showed EBIDTA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) growth, revenue growth, declared dividend, and then landscape changed in Indian telecom sector," Ambani told The Economic Times in his first media interview in 10 years.

      He had inherited the telecom business of the Reliance Group following the division of the family empire between the two brothers in 2005. But, with the non-compete clause in the agreement coming to an end, elder brother Mukesh made a dramatic entry into the telecom sector in 2016 with Jio and shook up the industry with his disruptive pricing. Unable to cope with Jio's promise of free voice calls and data on dirt-cheap prices, RCom's number of subscribers reportedly dwindled to 14 million in December 2017, from 120 million a year earlier. At RCom's annual general meeting in September last year, Ambani had said that "the wireless or mobility sector, from any dimension you look at, is in the ICCU. It is not in the general ward, it is not in the ICU, it is in the ICCU", adding that the market is "potentially" moving towards limited competition, perhaps even a monopoly with Jio's entry.

      Faced with a massive debt of Rs 45,000 crore crippling RCom, Ambani decided to exit the consumer telecom space as part of its asset monetisation plan. On patriarch Dhirubhai Ambani's 85th birth anniversary, the Ambani brothers signed an agreement under which Jio acquired 122.4 MHz of RCom's spectrum along with all its telecom towers, optic fiber cable network and media convergence nodes reportedly for Rs 24,000-25,000 crore. Anil Ambani had earlier announced that the proceeds of this deal would go to repay much of RCom's debt. The RCom stock rose up nearly 35 per cent a day after the deal was announced.

      Under the new debt revival plan, upon completion of all transactions, the balance debt in RCom is expected to be Rs 6,000 crore, a reduction of over 85 per cent of total debt, according to the company. Ambani expects full debt resolution by March 2018, which is good news for the beaten-down stock.

      2G verdict

      On December 21, 2017, Special CBI Judge OP Saini acquitted all the accused in three separate 2G scam cases lingering in courts for six years. And the Reliance ADA Group was, finally, vindicated. "No individual or corporation should undergo this humiliation, slander, damage to individual and corporate reputation," Ambani said to The Economic Times.

      To remind you, in its charge sheet filed in 2011, CBI had alleged that Reliance ADA Group, which included Reliance Telecom, had made an alleged investment of over Rs 990 crore in Swan Telecom (STPL), through a "circuitous route" when the latter applied for 2G licences in 14 telecom circles across India. Reliance ADA Group Managing Director Gautam Doshi along with senior executives Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara were arrested and Ambani had been roped in as a prosecution witness.

      "I am a net loser since 2008," he had said a statement given to the CBI in 2011. He was not exaggerating. The share price of RCom, which hovered close to the Rs 800 mark in late 2007, has tanked steadily in the past decade to a low of Rs 10.10. It has only seen a revival in the past one month. In contrast, the S&P BSE Sensex has gained nearly 126% during this period.

      Though Ambani has said that it is "premature to talk of any action" regarding seeking damages from the government, he might decide to take his cues from Videocon Telecommunications, which is reportedly planning to file a compensation claim for Rs 10,000 crore from the government.

      The road forward

      In his recent interview, Ambani said that "the new RCom will be stronger and be India's largest B2B business".  Over the years, RCom has built other businesses that contributed about 35 per cent to its revenues as of June 2017. These include cloud, undersea cables, India enterprise business, data centres and direct-to-home services. According to him, with marquee companies like Facebook, Yahoo!, Amazon and Alibaba coming to India and buying space in data centres, there's a huge growth opportunity and this trend is to continue. As he told the daily, "IDC (international data centres) business is set to explode. There is huge opportunity and as opportunity for India grows with $400 billion in reserves and good ratings, we will grow as well."

    RBI asks banks to recalibrate ATMs for Rs 200 notes; 1 billion new Rs 10 notes printed
    • In a move to make notes of lower denominations available to the public, RBI has asked banks to recalibrate ATMs so that more Rs 200 notes can be dispensed. According to reports, this push is going to cost the banking industry Rs 110 crore. Banks would have to recalibrate 2.2 lakh ATMs across the country and each ATM would cost an estimated Rs 5000.

      The project would involve installation of spacers to adjust the size of the currency. The Economic Times quoted a banker saying that it could take 5-6 months to smoothly implement this project.

      Although the circulation of notes have gone to 95 per cent of what it was before demonetisation, the shortage of lower denomination notes have been criticised by critics and public alike. However, as mentioned by the Finance Ministry in Lok Sabha, the RBI has already printed 16.96 billion Rs 500 notes and 3.6 billion Rs 2000 notes as of December 8. The value of this adds up to Rs 15.79 trillion, which has grown to Rs 16.71 trillion by December 22.

      Not only Rs 200 notes, the RBI is all set to issue new Rs 10 notes as well. According to reports, RBI has already printed 1 billion Rs 10 notes. The new Rs 10 note will have chocolate brown as the base colour and will bear the image of Konark Sun Temple.

      The new Rs 10 note will be part of the Mahatma Gandhi series. The RBI introduced new Rs 50 and Rs 200 notes under this series in August last year.

      On November 8, 2016, PM Modi announced that all Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes would no longer be legal tender. That constituted 86 per cent of the currency in circulation at that point. Till then, 95 per cent of all transactions in India were conducted in cash and 85 per cent of workers were paid in cash. According to reports, almost half of India's population did not have bank accounts.

      In its annual report for 2016-17, the RBI disclosed that 99 per cent of those obsolete notes were returned to the banking system. This led everyone from initial critics of demonetisation, politicians, and average working class citizens to question the point of demonetisation.

    Sensex rises 176 points to 33,969, Nifty at 10,504 level; Tata Steel, Dr Reddy's, L&T top gainers
    • The Sensex and Nifty closed higher in Thursday's trade  with capital goods and consumer durables stocks leading the gains.

      While Sensex rose 176 points to 33,969, Nifty was up 61 points to 10,504 level. The markets gained steam during the last hour of trade.

      Metal stocks too contributed to the rally with BSE metal index rising 420 points  to 15,578 level on BSE.

      The BSE consumer durables and capital goods index rose 578 points and 408 points, respectively.

      Public sector bank stocks too rose after finance ministry cleared proposal for infusion of Rs 7,577 crore in six weak public sector banks (PSBs) as part of the recapitalisation plan to bolster capital adequacy ratio.

      Bank Nifty rose 144 points to 25,462 level. BSE Bankex rose 144 points to 28,777 level. PNB (5.97%), Bank of Baroda (3.77%) and SBI (1.72%) were the top index gainers.

      Market breadth was positive with 1,915 stocks closing higher against 1,002 stocks falling on BSE. Tata Steel (3.74%), Dr Reddy's (3.33%) and L&T (3.08%) were top Sensex gainers.  

      SJVN (11.88%) was the top gainer on BSE after the firm said it would consider a buyback of shares at its board meeting to be held on January 9.

      The Hindustan Foods stock was locked in upper circuit in Thursday's trade after the firm announced it has received all licences and started commercial production of pest products from January 2, 2018.

      The stock of the FMCG firm closed 10% or 34.20 points higher to Rs 376.20 on the BSE, a fresh 52-week high level.  The stock opened at 375 level and hit an intra day low of 348 on BSE.

      Global markets

      Meanwhile, Asian stocks surged to their decade highs on the back of strong US economic data.

      Nikkei 225 was the top gainer in Asia  rising 3.26% or 741 points to 23,506 level. Hang Seng, Shanghai SE Composite Index rose 0.57 percent and 0.59 percent, respectively.

      US factory activity increased more than expected in December, boosted by a surge in new orders growth, in a further sign of strong economic momentum at the end of 2017. On Wall Street, the three main stock indexes hit record closes, helped by a 1.5 percent rise in energy stocks.

      In Germany, Europe's economic power house, the unemployment rate hit a record low of 5.5 percent in December, underpinning a broad-based economic upswing.

      Oil prices were touching levels not seen since before commodity markets slumped in 2014/15, having been boosted by tensions in key producer Iran and ongoing OPEC-led output cuts.

      US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose to as high as $62.17 per barrel, up 0.9 percent for the day and their highest level since mid-2015. International benchmark Brent also scaled a 2-1/2-year high of $68.19 a barrel.

    Public sector banks' stocks push Sensex, Nifty higher after FinMin clears proposal for infusion of Rs 7,577 crore in six lenders
    • Public sector bank stocks led the rise on Sensex and Nifty on Thursday with the finance ministry clearing proposal for infusion of Rs 7,577 crore in six weak public sector banks (PSBs) as part of the recapitalisation plan to bolster capital adequacy ratio.

      While the Bank Nifty rose 0.33% or 130.20 points to 25448 level, BSE Bankex closed 144 points or 0.51 percent higher to 28,777 level. PNB (5.97%), Bank of Baroda (3.77%) and SBI (1.72%) were the top bankex gainers.  PNB (3.48%), Bank of Baroda (3.01%) and Canara Bank (2.25%) were the top bank Nifty gainers.

      Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in October announced an unprecedented Rs 2.11 lakh crore two-year road map to strengthen PSBs, reeling under high non-performing assets (NPAs) or bad loans. Their NPAs have increased to Rs 7.33 lakh crore as of June 2017, from Rs 2.75 lakh crore in March 2015.
      The plan includes floating re-capitalisation bonds of Rs 1.35 lakh crore and raising Rs 58,000 crore from the market by diluting government  stake.

      The government is working on the modalities for issuing the recapitalisation bonds as it aims to front-load the infusion with an aim to strengthen the state-owned banking sector, sources said, adding that the announcement in this respect, including detailed guidelines, will be made during this month.

      Jaitley had also announced that banks would get about Rs 18,000 crore under the Indradhanush plan over the next two years.

      Under the Indradhanush road map announced in 2015, the government had announced infusion of Rs 70,000 crore in state- owned banks over four years, while they will have to raise a further Rs 1.1 lakh crore from the market to meet their capital requirement in line with global risk norms, known as Basel-III.

      In the last three-and-a-half years, the government pumped Rs 51,858 crore capital in the PSBs. The remaining Rs 18,142 crore will be injected into the banks over the next two years.

    SJVN stock hits fresh 52-week high as board to consider share buyback on January 8
    • The SJVN stock rose up to 15.65% in Thursday's trade after the firm announced its board would meet on January 8 to consider a buyback of the fully paid equity shares of the company.

      At 12:01 pm, the stock was trading 12.46 percent or 4.25 points higher  at 38.75 on the BSE.

      It hit a 52 week high of 39.90 on the BSE. The stock opened at 39.40 and hit an intra day low of 38.15 level.

      The stock closed at 38.60, 11.88 percent higher on BSE. 

      "Pursuant to Regulation 29 (1) (b) of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015, and other applicable provisions of law, notice is hereby given that the Meeting of Board of Directors of the Company will be held on 08th day of January 2018 i.e., Monday at New Delhi, inter alia, to consider the proposal for Buyback of the fully paid-up equity shares of the Company, "SJVN said in a filing to BSE.

      The announcement was made after market hours on Wednesday.

      The stock hit a 52-week low of 30 level on January 6, 2017. 18.88 lakh shares of the firm were traded on the BSE. The stock is up 28.15% or 8.5 points on a yearly basis.

      SJVN , a mini ratna, was incorporated on May 24, 1988 as a joint venture of the the central government and Himachal Pradesh government. The firm is primarily engaged in the business of generation and sale of power. The company operates through thermal power segment. The company is implementing power projects in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Arunachal Pradesh in India besides neighbouring countries, which include Nepal and Bhutan. The installed capacity of the company is approximately 1,959.6 MW.

    General Awareness

    10 Savitribai Phule facts: The lady who changed the face of women's rights in India
    • Savitribai Phule was born in a family of farmers in Naigaon, Maharashtra. She played an important role in improving women's conditions and became the pioneer of women's education in the country.

      1. Savitribai Phule is hailed as India's one of the first modern feminists.

      2. Married at the tender age of nine, she fought against social evils like child marriage and sati pratha.

      3. She laid emphasis on educating women and along with her husband, Jyotirao Phule, she opened the first school for girls in India. They together went on to open 18 schools for girls.

      4. She not only worked for women's rights but also championed the cause of fighting against the practice of corrupt caste system.

      5. She opening up a well for the untouchables in her own house was an act resulting from her vehement defiance to untouchability and her compassion for the outcast.

      6. Savitribai Phule was not just a social reformer but also a philosopher and a poet. Her poetry mostly revolved around nature, education and the abolition of caste system.

      7. She observed the miserable conditions of pregnant rape victims and therefore, along with her husband, opened a care centre "Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha".

      8. In order to reduce the miseries of the widows, she organised and led a strike against the barbers to dissuade them from shaving the heads of the widows which was a norm back in those days.

      9. In order to encourage students to study and reduce the drop-out rate, she used to give stipends to children for attending school.

      10. At a time when caste system was embedded in Indian society, she promoted inter-caste marriages. She along with her husband founded the Satyashodhak samaj which used organise marriages without a priest and dowry.

      The Phule couple was honoured by the government for their commendable efforts in the field of education. Truly, Savitribai Phule was a lady ahead of her time.

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