Current Affairs Current Affairs - 06 January 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 06 January 2018

General Affairs 

Muslim women say Congress playing double game on Triple Talaq Bill
  • The failure of Triple Talaq Bill to pass in the Rajya Sabha has disappointed the Muslim women.

    A large number of Muslim women blamed the Congress for playing a double game with the Muslims and said that when the Congress had supported the Bill in the Lok Sabha, it should have allowed it to pass in the Rajya Sabha as well.

    Social activist Fahmida Begum said that the political parties are playing a very dirty game in the matter of this bill and it is very disappointing. She added, " Congress and other political parties are probably not liking it that the Modi government took a step to improve the lives of the Muslim women and it is clear that these other political parties do not want the Muslim women to rise above the social inequality they face in their everyday lives."

    Sonam Qureshi, an Arts student, said that it is clear that all the political parties have planned to drag this issue till the upcoming eight state assembly elections, to be held this year, so that they can take full advantage of it in polarising the votes in their favor. She added, "BJP had made the Triple Talaq an electoral issue in the UP assembly elections and got a three-fourth majority in the assembly. Now, the party could pull up the opposition just like it does for the Shahbano matter, gaining the sympathy of millions of Muslim women."

    However, she vehemently opposed Ishrat Jahan's move to join the BJP and said that Ishrat Jahan used the Triple Talaq issue for her personal gain and will now use her role in this entire matter to gain political mileage. She said that it would have been better if Ishrat had continued to work for the betterment of Muslim women without entering politics.

    However, the Muslim men praised the Congress for making a last stand against this bill in the Rajya Sabha and said 'better late than never'.

    They said that the Congress was probably regretting supporting the BJP in the Lok Sabha on this bill, so it corrected its folly in the Rajya Sabha. If the Congress really thinks about the welfare of the Muslims, it should come out on the streets against this despicable move of the BJP to interfere with the Islamic laws. They said that if the Congress does move to stand in the favor of Muslims on this issue, the Muslims will in turn, support the Congress in the 2019 elections.

By backing Triple Talaq Bill, Sonia could have washed Shah Bano sins: Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad
  • After the contentious Triple Talaq Bill failed to pass the Rajya Sabha test, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad launched a scathing attack on the Congress by saying that the party could have washed the sins of the 1986 Shah Bano case by backing the legislation.

    "Sonia Gandhi had an opportunity to wash the sins of Shah Bano of 1986 by helping to pass the Bill," Prasad said in an exclusive chat with India Today today.

    Prasad reminded the Congress that the party then led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had overturned a Supreme Court judgment on Shah Bano, who had asked for maintenance following her divorce in 1986.

    "Today, the same party is asking for maintenance," he said. "Can a government bring a law providing for maintenance for women from just one community? It has an obligation to provide to all communities like the Sikhs, the Hindus, the Parsis etc."

    The Shah Bano case, which is one of the milestones in Muslim women's struggle for marital rights in India, is about the Rajiv Gandhi government negating a Supreme Court verdict which favoured alimony for a divorced Muslim woman on the advice of Muslim fundamentalists.

    The senior BJP leader also attacked the current Congress president Rahul Gandhi, accusing him of political opportunism. "Rahul Gandhi turned janeudhari (holder of sacred Brahmin thread) in Gujarat. See what he has done now."

    The Union Minister said his ogvernment is determined to pass the Triple Talaq Bill in the Rajya Sabha when Parliament meets for the Budget session later this month.

    "Every Constitutional weapon will be utilised to make it a law. The Bill will be passed, the government is determined," he said.

Mamata unveils West Bengal's emblem, says each state must retain its individual character
  • West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday unveiled the official emblem of the state government. Designed by Banerjee herself, the logo was approved for official use by the Union government this week. The new state emblem features the "Biswa Bangla" logo encircled by a green border with Ashoka's lion capital, the national emblem placed on top.

    While neighbouring states like Bihar and Jharkhand already have separate emblems, West Bengal did not have one since its inception. Terming it a historic day, Mamata Banerjee said, "It is a new feather in the cap of our state. From now one, we shall use this logo for all government work. We are happy, we could achieve this in the new year."

    After coming to power, the Trinamool Congress government began mulling the idea along with a new name for the state. While the Centre is yet to give its nod to the name change proposal, on Wednesday it cleared the new logo for the state.

    Mamata unveiling West Bengal's emblem in Kolkata.
    "Every state must retain its own individual character. Some have their own emblem while others don't. As soon as we noticed this, we formed an expert committee and sent the proposal to the Government of India. We have also sent a proposal for name change of the state and we are awaiting Centre's approval," Banerjee said, while speaking at the event at state secretariat Nabanna.

    In September 2013, Mamata Banerjee had announced creation of a new brand called "Biswa Bangla" or Global Bengal which would be used for branding various government initiatives. Accordingly, the logo is been used extensively by the state government in recent years, be in it advertisements across media platforms. An experts committee under the aegis of eminent painter and TMC MP Jogen Choudhury had cleared the final design of the official state emblem.

    The same Biswa Bangla logo, which forms part of the new emblem has been embroiled in a controversy after Banerjee's former aide Mukul Roy, who later switched side to join BJP, alleged that the logo was registered in the name of chief minister's nephew and TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee. On its part, the state government has refuted the allegations with West Bengal Home Secretary Atri Bhattacharya claiming that the rights of the "Biswa Bangla" logo were firmly with the government.

    When the controversy reached the peak, Mamata Banerjee had once said that since she had designed the logo, she had exclusive ownership right over it, triggering speculation that her logo being a government logo would be churning revenue even when she will not be in power.

    "She must have done it to stop the allegations that Didi would be using the logo as her very own personal property. This was a clever move to secure the logo as a government property when Opposition were spreading canards that the logo was being used as a property of the aunt and the nephew," said a Trinamool Congress leader.

    By making it a state emblem, she had buried all controversies in the first place, and at the same time she had silenced the Opposition, who were trying to score a few political brownie points from it.  

US lawmakers slam Donald Trump for H1-B visa curbs that may hit 750,000 Indian American workers
  • Some US lawmakers and advocacy groups have criticised the Trump adminisration's reported plan to curb H-1B visa extensions that could result in self-deportation of an estimated 500,000-750,000 Indian Americans, saying the move would drain America of talent.

    The proposal, which was part of President Donald Trumps "Buy American, Hire American" initiative that he vowed to launch on the campaign trail, is being drafted by Department of Homeland Security leaders, according to reports.

    The H-1B program offers temporary US visas that allow companies to hire highly skilled foreign professionals working in areas with shortages of qualified American workers.

    But since taking office last January, the Trump administration has been cracking down on the scheme.

    Influential Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said, "Imposing these draconian restrictions on H-1B visa holders will tear families apart, drain our society of talent and expertise, and damage our relationship with an important partner, India."

    "This proposal could lead to the deportation of an estimated 500,000 to 750,000 Indian H-1B visa holders, many of whom are small business owners and job creators who are helping to build and strengthen our US economy. This brain drain will stifle innovation and decrease our ability to compete in the global 21st century economy," Gabbard said.

    In a statement the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) sounded alarm over the Trump administration's proposal to deny extensions of H-1B visas to green card applicants and leaving them with no choice but to return to the country of origin or be deported.

    "It is a baffling calculation. How would deporting hundreds of thousands of skilled workers, the very backbone of our STEM industries, in any way advance an America First agenda?" Shukla asked.

    Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi said while priority must continue to be improving advanced training for domestic workforce, ending H-1B visa extensions would kneecap American economy and encourage companies to further offshore jobs, instead of making those investments here.

    "I hope the administration immediately rejects this proposal," he said.

    Congressman Ro Khanna said the proposal was "anti- immigrant".

    "My parents came here on green cards. So did Sundar Pichai, Elon Musk, Satya Nadella. Trump is saying to immigrants and their kids we don?t have a place in America. Its not just wrong. Its dumb. Mr President, would America really be greater without us?" he asked in a tweet.

    According to Aman Kapoor of Immigration Voice, H-1B extension change would be just wrong at every level.

    "It will be a catastrophe of epic proportion for Indian- American community leading to mass exodus of close to 1.5 million people (around 750,000 primary applicants on H-1B visa and another 750,000+ spouses and children)," he said.

    Tsion Chudnovsky, an immigration and business lawyer in California said, "Given the dramatic effect this proposal could have on the technology industry, it doesnt seem likely it could garner enough support to be enacted as stated."

The green Gurugram initiative will encourage well maintained green spaces
  • As the entire National Capital Region (NCR) faces air pollution, the municipal corporation of Gurugram (MCG) has come up with a unique idea to enhance greenery in the city. It has decided to organise a competition to rank the parks in the city on the basis of how well they have been maintained and beautified in the first week of February.

    According to an official of MCG's horticulture department, information about the competition had already been sent out to the concerned in November last year and asked to file nomination.

    "The city has 500-odd parks and 400 of them have already filed nominations. We have categorised the event in three segments and each of them has been given a fixed amount to develop and beautify their respective parks," said Ajay Nirala, XEN of MCG's horticulture department.

    MCG has given `1 lakh for park spread over half to one acre of land, `2 lakh to those spread between 1 and 2 acres and `3 lakh to parks having area above 2 acre. "The idea is to involve people with green Gurugram campaign. MCG is bearing the cost, and as such there is no burden on RWAs and other maintenance bodies," he said.

Business Affairs

    India's GDP growth projected at 6.5% in FY18; lowest under Modi government
    • The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has projected GDP forecast for Financial Year 2017-18 at 6.5 per cent, down from 7.1 per cent in 2016-17. The current estimates, lowest under the Narendra Modi-led government, shows the Indian economy would face slowdown in FY-18. The reason for the lower GDP estimates is mainly due to poor performance of agriculture and manufacturing sectors. The CSO said the Gross Value Added (GVA) has been estimated to be around 6.1 per cent, though it was 6.6 in FY16-17.

      Chief Statistician TCA Anant during a press conference on Friday said: "We are being conservative in our estimates". The difference between GDP and GVA numbers is huge, which could hamper growth, say analysts. Anant added that manufacturing estimates also included the GST impact during initial quarters. 

      The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was 7.1 per cent in 2016-17 and 8 per cent in the preceding year. It was 7.5 per cent in 2014-15. The Narendra Modi-led NDA government had assumed office in May 2014. "The growth in GDP during 2017-18 is estimated at 6.5 per cent as compared to the growth rate of 7.1 per cent in 2016- 17," said the Central Statistics Office (CSO) while announcing the first advance estimates of National Income 2017-18.

      Economic activities were affected by demonetisation announced on November 8, 2016 and subsequent implementation of a new indirect tax regime (GST) from July 1 in the current financial year. As per the CSO data, the expansion in activities in 'agriculture, forestry and fishing' is likely to slow to 2.1 per cent in the current fiscal from 4.9 per cent in the preceding year. The growth in manufacturing sector too is expected to decelerate to 4.6 per cent this fiscal, down from 7.9 per cent in 2016-17.

      GDP growth to be robust in FY18-19: NITI Aayog  

      NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said the GDP growth would become more robust in 2018-19. Reacting on the growth estimates released by the CSO on Friday, Kumar said the second half GDP growth in 2017-18 had risen to 7 per cent, bringing the annual growth rate to 6.5%. He pointed out the economic activity had been picking up over the past three quarters and could be expected to strengthen in the coming period with the manufacturing PMI now reading at a five-year high of 54 per cent, and FMCG demand picking up briskly. Hence the GDP growth would become more robust in 2018-19.  He added that the estimates assumed significance in the wake of the fact that the higher second half growth had come despite a weaning of public sector expenditures which had peaked in 2016-17 on account of the implementation of the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission.

    New Rs 10, Rs 50, Rs 200 notes: All you need to know about availability, design changes
    • Your wallet contents have never been as brightly-hued. Hot on the heels of the demonetisation announcement in 2016 and the introduction of the bright pink Rs 2000 banknote came news reports that the RBI officials were planning to redesign all existing currency notes gradually. Since then, we have seen the introduction of banknotes in florescent blue and bright yellow, and chocolate brown is reportedly coming soon. Here's all you need to know about these new currency notes.  

      The Reserve Bank of India is reportedly all set to issue new Rs 10 denomination banknotes under the Mahatma Gandhi series with chocolate brown colour as the base. The reverse side is expected to feature Odisha's Konark Sun Temple instead of the merged image of a tiger, elephant and rhino printed on the Rs 10 note currently in circulation. It may also include two number panels with numerals in ascending size on the front side, as can be seen in the recently-introduced Rs 50 and Rs 200 banknotes. The new design was approved by the government just last week but around one billion pieces of the banknote has already been printed by the apex bank according to news reports.

      The new note has actually been a long time coming. As early as March 2017, the RBI had announced plans to issue Rs 10 denomination banknotes in the Mahatma Gandhi Series with inset letter 'L' in both the number panels, bearing the signature of Dr. Urjit R. Patel, Governor, Reserve Bank of India, and the year of printing '2017'. Let's see when it is finally introduced.

      In August 2017, the apex bank announced the introduction of the new florescent blue Rs 50 denomination banknotes in the Mahatma Gandhi Series, bearing Patel's signature. A motif of Hampi with Chariot along with the Swachh Bharat logo and slogan replaces the image of Indian Parliament with a hoisted flag printed on the reverse side of the old Rs 50 note.

      The new note has other designs, geometric patterns aligning with the overall colour scheme, both at the obverse and reverse. The numerals on the number panels on the front of the note-at the top right and bottom left corners-have been designed ascending in size from left to right. Apart from this, the front of the note shows Mahatma Gandhi's portrait in the middle with the guarantee clause and the RBI emblem. The Ashok Pillar emblem has been placed along the far right edge of the new Rs 50 note, whereas Rs 50 in Devnagri can be seen on its left. The windowed, demetalised security strip can be seen at running breadth-wise with inscriptions RBI and Bharat in Devnagri on it.

      Another big change is the size of the banknote itself. While the dimensions of the old Rs 50 note stood at 73 mm X 147 mm, the new note is leaner at 66 mm x 135 mm.

      Moreover, given that the new note is already in trouble for not being visually impaired-friendly, it may not make it to the ATMs at all.  The Delhi High Court is reportedly scheduled to hear the RBI's and the finance ministry's response to a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking withdrawal of the new Rs 50 notes on January 31.

      On August 25 last year, the RBI launched a brand new Rs 200 denomination banknote in the Mahatma Gandhi Series in select RBI offices and banks.  "To achieve the optimal system of currency that would minimise the number of denominations while increasing the probability of proffering exact change, especially at the lower end of denominations, there is a logical need to introduce the missing denomination of Rs 200, which will make the present currency system more efficient," said RBI in a statement at the time.

      The bright yellow note features a motif of the Sanchi Stupa in Madhya Pradesh, depicting the country's cultural heritage like most of the new currency notes. While most of the other salient features are just like the Rs 50 note mentioned above, this new note includes features to aid the visually impaired. Apart from raised printing of Mahatma Gandhi's portrait and the Ashoka Pillar emblem, the banknote features a raised Identification mark H with micro-text Rs 200, four angular bleed lines with two circles in between the lines both on the right and left sides. Last but not the least, the windowed security thread in this note changes colour from green to blue when tilted.

      Last month, in a written reply to Lok Sabha, the Minister of State for Finance, P Radhakrishnan, said that Rs 522.83 crore have been spent on printing of 178 crore pieces of Rs 200 denomination notes. But though the new banknote has been made available at bank branches over three months ago, hardly any ATM is dispensing it. The reason is that its dimensions (66 mm x 146 mm) are different from the existing currency in circulation due to which ATMs have to be recalibrated.

      According to The Economic Times, the central bank has ordered banks to get on with the recalibration effort to ensure more Rs 200 notes are dispensed as part of its efforts to step up supply of lower denomination notes. However, according to sources quoted by the daily, the banking industry is likely to spend more than Rs 110 crore to recalibrate the 2.4 lakh ATMs across the country, and the process could take up to six months. So far, only 4,000-odd ATMs have been recalibrated.

      Once the RBI finishes the whole exercise of putting Rs 200 notes into the system, it will reportedly redesign and print the Rs 100 denomination note. The printing will start in April next year, according to a report by Hindustan Times. The new Rs 100 note is expected be of same size and dimension as the current one, thus doing away with the need for another round of ATM recalibration.

    Forget Bitcoin and Litecoin; cryptocurrency TRON is up 12755% in just one month
    • A month ago, hardly anyone knew about TRON (TRX). After all, that was the time all eyes were on bitcoin's blistering bull run. But the day of this altcoin seems to have arrived, and how. On December 5, the share price of TRX was $0.00215. As of this morning, it is trading at $0.276378. That's a mind-boggling 12755% jump in the virtual currency's value, a growth that eclipses surges posted by the far-better known Litecoin and Ripple in the same period.

      Added to this, TRON's market capitalization has grown six-fold from $2.8 billion on January 1 to $18.7 billion today. The barely four months old altcoin is now the sixth most valuable cryptocurrency, but one of only three starting out in green this morning along with Bitcoin and Ethereum. Ironically, TRON's Initial Coin Offering (ICO) actually had a rough start since it coincided with China's crackdown on cryptocurrencies in September 2017.

      So what is TRON? It is a blockchain-based decentralized protocol that aims to construct a worldwide free content entertainment system. The protocol allows each user to freely publish, store and own data, and in the decentralized autonomous form, decides the distribution, subscription and push of contents. It also enables content creators by releasing, circulating and dealing with digital assets, thus forming a decentralized content entertainment ecosystem. Content providers will, therefore, no longer need to pay high channel fees to centralized platforms like Google Play and Apple's AppA Store. And its official currency is TRONIX (TRX).

      This fresh-on-the-big-league virtual currency has a lot going for it. The man behind TRON is Justin Sun, founder and CEO of Peiwo-the largest voice live streaming app in China. He not only brings to the table his experience as Ripple's Chief Representative in Greater China, but is also widely considered to be a protege of Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group Holdings Inc. Sun was one of the first students to attend Jack Ma Hupan University for entrepeneurs-personally invited at that-and the only millennial graduate. In fact, many of TRON's team have been roped in from Alibaba.

      TRON is also betting big on partnerships. Even if we set aside old rumours about a partnership with Alibaba being in the pipeline, Sun has already tied up with the likes of, a leading online gaming platform, and Singapore bike-sharing operator oBike. Then on January 2, he mentioned the prospect of several partnerships in the coming year. "Even NASDAQ listed companies and the giant companies with 100 million users started to contact us. We will be huge soon," he tweeted. Just 20 hours ago came another tweet: "We will announce our partnership with a very prestigious public listed company next week. Looking forward to it!"

      So things are certainly looking up for TRON, but before cryptocurrency enthusiasts rush to climb aboard this new gravy train, keep in mind that the Finance Ministry has recently announced that virtual currencies are not legal tender in the country. It also made it clear that the government or any other regulator in India has not given license to any agency for working as exchange. "Consumers need to be alert and extremely cautious as to avoid getting trapped in such Ponzi schemes," read the ministry statement, adding that virtual currencies are stored in digital/electronic format, making them vulnerable to hacking, loss of password, malware attack which may also result in permanent loss of money.

    India plans to boost tourism, travel in annual budget: Report
    • India is planning to cut taxes on travel and tourism in next month's federal budget and give more incentives to the $210 billion sector, government sources said, hoping to boost economic growth and create more jobs.

      The move could add to a domestic tourism boom in the world's second most populous nation, where low inflation and rising incomes are changing lifestyles and consumption patterns of an estimated 250 million middle-class Indians. With scores of destinations introduced on airline routes last year, air travel is also surging.

      India's tourism sector grew over 10 percent in the six months ending September, compared to near 8 percent in the year-ago period. According to an industry report, tourism employs 40 million people in India and could add 10 million jobs in a decade.

      "We'll announce measures in the budget to promote investment in the tourism sector," a top finance ministry official told Reuters, adding that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley favours lowering a 28 percent tax on hotel tariffs, and offering incentives to attract private investments.

      If the moves come about, companies expected to benefit include airlines like IndiGo, owned by InterGlobe Aviation, and Jet Airways and hotel operators such as Indian Hotels, that owns the Taj Mahal chain and EIH Ltd that operates the Oberoi hotels in India.

      Tour operators including Cox & Kings and Thomas Cook are also likely to gain.

      In India tourists, on average, pay 30 percent tax on hotel rooms and travel compared with less than 10 percent in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, said Pronab Sarkar, president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO).

      Another government official said the budget was likely to "significantly" raise allocations for tourism infrastructure and raise income tax exemptions on investments in new hotels.

      A third official, who is aware of the finance ministry's pre-budget consultations with industry groups, said Jaitley was expected to lower income tax on corporate profit, offer tax incentives on hotel construction, allocate more funds for new tourist trains and building roads to tourist destinations.

      The government will offer incentives to more regional airlines this year to cover new, under-served airports, the official added. All three officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to provide numbers or share further details.

      India needs about 200,000 new hotel rooms, Tourism Minister K.J. Alphons told parliament this week. "We have reached a plateau point and need more resources to create new infrastructure and develop tourist packages," Alphons later told Reuters, adding there was huge potential in developing areas that were not the usual tourist destinations.

      Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said developing tourism, particularly in India's remote north-eastern states, is one of his top priorities.

      Hotel occupancy levels in India are at their highest levels since 2008, even though many hotel chains have raised prices.

      The need for rooms has been spotted by foreign investors with Japan's SoftBank Group backing start-ups like OYO Rooms, which has emerged as the largest aggregator of budget accommodation across the country with hotels in over 200 destinations.

      One major driver of the domestic tourism boom has been the launch in 2017 of five regional budget airlines on over 100 routes, which are given incentives by the government to offer cut-price flights to uncovered and remote areas, encouraging thousands of families to explore flying for the first time.

      Domestic airlines carried 10.6 million passengers in the first eleven months of 2017, up 17 percent from the year-ago period - encouraging some established players like Spicejet, Jet Airways and Vistara, a joint venture between the Tata Group and Singapore Airlines, to start flights to new locations.

      Tour operators said double-digit hikes in urban wages, coupled with an over 25 percent rise in the benchmark Sensex index last year, have contributed to the domestic tourism boom. At the same time over 9 million foreigners visited India in the first 11 months of 2017, up 15.6 percent from a year ago.

      Domestic tourists, who account for 88 percent of the sector, are increasingly using online portals for hotel and travel bookings.

      Travel portal MakeMyTrip reported a 186 percent jump in hotel bookings during the September quarter and its holiday package segment that includes hotel and flight bookings, saw a 71 percent increase in revenues over the same period.

      Online operators say tourism could emerge as the new engine of growth after the IT sector but that it needs government support. "The government must lower the tax burden, ease rules and build infrastructure if it wants to ensure 15-20 percent annual growth in tourism in coming years," said Sarkar of IATO. 

    Sensex, Nifty hit fresh all time highs; YES Bank, Bharti Airtel, Tata Steel top gainers
    • The Sensex and Nifty rose in early trade amid Asian shares inching closer to their record high on strong US jobs data.

      While Sensex rose 176 points to 34,146 level, Nifty was up 41 points to 10,547 level.  Market breadth was positive with 1417 stocks rising against 429 falling on the BSE. 

      The Sensex touched its all time high of 34,161 in early morning trade. 

      YES Bank (2.74%), Bharti Airtel (1.16%) and Tata Steel (1.07%) were the top Sensex gainers. Of 30 Sensex stocks, 25 were trading in green.

      Consumer durables and metals stocks led the charge on BSE with the indexes rising 276 points and 216 points, respectively.

      Among 19 sectoral indexes,  oil and gas was the only loser down 31 points or 0.20 percent.

      BSE Midcap and small cap indexes rose 122 points and 187 points respectively.

      Idea Cellular rose over 6 per cent, top gainer on BSE, after the telco unveiled a plan to raise Rs 6,750 crore ahead of its merger with Vodafone's local unit. As part of the plan, Idea will raise Rs 3,250 crore by selling 326.6 million shares on a preferential basis to companies controlled by its parent Aditya Birla Group at Rs 99.5 apiece.

      On Thursday, 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.
      Global markets

      MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose nearly 0.3 percent in morning trade to 584.5, with benchmark indexes in Australia and South Korea up about 0.6 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.

      Japan's Nikkei gained 0.5 percent to a 26-year high.

      The US ADP National Employment Report on Thursday showed U.S. private employers added 250,000 jobs in December, the biggest monthly increase since March and well above economists' expectations of a rise of 190,000.

      That helped the Dow Jones Industrial Average sail past the 25,000-mark for the first time. S&P 500 gained 0.40 percent while the Nasdaq Composite added 0.18 percent, both notching record closing highs.

    General Awareness

    Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc. “Bomb Cyclone”
    • Context: A massive winter storm called a “bomb cyclone” is hammering the eastern coast of the US, bringing snow, ice, flooding, and strong winds.

      What is a Bomb cyclone?

      The term is used by meteorologists to indicate a mid-latitude cyclone that intensifies rapidly. A bomb cyclone happens when atmospheric pressure in the middle of the storm drops at least 24 millibars over 24 hours, quickly increasing in intensity. The lower the pressure, the stronger the storm.

      How it works?

      Deep drops in barometric pressure occur when a region of warm air meets one of cold air. The air starts to move and the rotation of the earth creates a cyclonic effect. The direction is counterclockwise in the Northern hemisphere leading to winds that come out of the northeast.

       What’s the difference between hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons?

      Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are all tropical storms. They are all the same thing but are given different names depending on where they appear. When they reach populated areas they usually bring very strong wind and rain which can cause a lot of damage.

      Hurricanes are tropical storms that form over the North Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific. Cyclones are formed over the South Pacific and Indian Ocean. Typhoons are formed over the Northwest Pacific Ocean.

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