Current Affairs Current Affairs - 07 January 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 07 January 2018

General Affairs 

'Garud' eyes new targets in Jammu and Kashmir
  • Having tasted major success by eliminating around eight terrorists during their brief stint in Jammu and Kashmir, the Garud Special Forces of the Indian Air Force are raring to go and want to be given more exposure to direct counter terror operations in the state.

    The youngest Special Force of the country, which encountered one of its first major operations during the Pathankot air base attack by Pakistan-backed terrorists, is also expanding its numbers to meet its requirements during peace and also war-time roles assigned to it.

    "Two of our teams are already in operation in Hajin area of Jammu and Kashmir and they would be replaced by two other units soon. This is going to help more and more of our troops get exposure to real action," a senior Garud officer told MAIL TODAY.

    In the aftermath of Pathankot operations, the IAF and Army had agreed to give exposure to the Garuds in counter-terror ops in the Valley and two teams were attached to the 13 Rashtriya Rifles. After a few weeks, they started operating in close coordination with the Army, but also kept developing their own intelligence network.

    In the first major operation in Rakh Hajin area of Bandipore in October, the Garuds tasted big success in a direct encounter against Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists. While tackling a team of six to seven terrorists who were trying to escape from a house even before the cordon could be established, Sergeant Milind Kishore and Corporal Nilesh Nain killed two of them before attaining martyrdom.

    The injured terrorists managed to escape but the rattled Garuds started pursuing them. Gathering intelligence, the Special Forces traced a group of terrorists hiding in a house in Chandargeer area.

    During the subsequent encounter, the Garuds eliminated six terrorists, majorly due to the bravery of Corporal JP Nirala who used his Negev LMG to kill three of them while pinning down the rest of the group.

    "The troops are highly motivated by the acts of valour of our fallen buddies and want to be given more roles in counter-terror ops in Kashmir," another officer said.

    "More than 30 per cent volunteers return within weeks of training. Most find it tough to survive the 16-18 hours-a-day life during which they are prepared both physically and mentally to earn their Garud badge," an officer said. A Garud instructor told MAIL TODAY that due to tough selection standards, only 26 officers from different branches have been able to join the elite force in the last 13 years of its existence.

Kamala Mills fire: Mumbai fire brigade report reveals safety norm violations, illegal construction in both restaurants
  • The investigation report by fire brigade department of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) brought to light a long list of rules which were flouted by both the restaurants in Kamala Mills. Mojos Bistro and 1 Above were the two restaurants where fire broke out on December 29th killing 14 persons and causing huge damage to property.

    Major findings suggest unauthorised storage of combustible material, construction of illegal shed and flooring, lack of license from fire officer. Major safety regulations were not obeyed by the management.

    Some of the findings are listed below:

    1. Staircase and emergency way leading to it was blocked by doors, decorative material partitions, barricades resulting in complete blockage of the escape route.

    2. Both 'Mojo's bistro' and '1 Above' restaurants didn't have any permision to build thatched roof. The restaurants had used bamboo frames and covered the terrace illegally with tarpaulin, nylon sheets.

    3. Combustible materials like alcohol, plywood, partition sheets, cloth were stored on the terrace itself.

    4. Charged CO2 cylinders were found on terrace.

    5. Smoking cigarettes and Hukkah was allowed illegally. Charcoal sigri was use to burn coal for Hukkah.

    6. Dangerous fire tricks were performed by bartenders illegally.

    7. Both, Mojo and 1 Above were selling Hukkah and liquor without permission. Basement of the building was used for activities which were not permitted.

    8. Fire fighting system of the building was not in working condition.

    The fire department report notes that there were around 300 people present inside both the restaurants at the time of the incident. When the fire broke out, everyone started rushing to the lifts. But escape using lifts was not possible.

    The situation worsened as the escape routes were obstructed as a result of which people in 1 Above were not able to escape in time.

    The report further adds that,the falling debris of 1 Above restaurant forced people to seek shelter in a toilet. But this proved fatal as 14 people died due to asphyxiation.

    An official requesting anonymity said that, one of the bouncers employed by the restaurant management died in the carnage. This points to the fact that even staffers did not know the escape route. Had they known it, they would have been able to guide the guests to safety

    The investigation report also mentions the owners of Mojo's Bistro which includes some influential people who till date haven't been blamed by police or the BMC for the fire.

Fodder scam: Lalu Prasad gets 3 and half years in jail, Rs 5 lakh fine
  • Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief and former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad has been sentenced to 3 and half years in jail in a fodder scam case. In addition, he has also been fined Rs 5 lakh.

    After a two-day delay, the Ranchi Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court today pronounced the quantum of sentence for the RJD chief.

    The final sentencing order copy is 24 pages long, which Judge Shiv Pal Singh signed.

    The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief's lawyer had confirmed that the quantum of sentence will be announced on Saturday at 4 pm via video conferencing.

    Visuals from Ranchi: All accused in #FodderScam present in video conferencing room, sentence to be pronounced shortly.

    &; ANI (@ANI) January 6, 2018
    On Friday, Lalu Prasad sought a minimum punishment citing health issues. His lawyer, Chitaranjan Sinha, also confirmed that the RJD leader was dealing with a lot of health issues.

    Prasad, in his plea, had mentioned, "I have no role in this scam directly; consider minimum punishment keeping in view my age and health grounds."

    The CBI court had convicted Lalu Prasad and 15 others in the fodder scam case on December 23. The court had acquitted six accused including former Bihar Chief Minister and JD (U) leader Jagannath Mishra.

    The court had convicted Prasad for offences of cheating with criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

    Under the sections, Prasad can be sentenced to a minimum jail term of one year and maximum of seven years.

    Lalu has been convicted in one of the cases of the fodder scam, wherein Rs. 900 crore from the Bihar exchequer was siphoned off under the pretext of purchasing fodder for livestock, during the '80s and '90s.

80,000 ghost teachers found to be serving in higher education institutes: Prakash Javadekar
  • India has recorded an increase in enrollment of students across institutes of higher education from 27.5 million in 2010-11 to 35.7 million last year.

    The figures mapping performance of institutes for higher education in 864 Indian universities and 40,026 colleges were released in the 8th All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) conducted by Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar.

    The survey recorded an increase in enrollment from 27.5 million in 2010-11 to 35.7 million in 2016-17 and improvement in Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) from 19.4 per cent in 2010-11 to 25.2 per cent in 2016.

    Javadekar pointed out that nearly 80,000 teachers in state and private universities have been found serving in more than one higher education institute.

    "We insisted on mandatory Aadhaar disclosure during AISHE, which revealed that there are over 80,000 teachers who are faculty members of three or more higher education institutions," he said.

    According to the mandatory Aadhaar disclosure, teachers will have to provide their Aadhaar numbers, which Javadekar explained will eliminate duplication of teachers.

    "So far, nearly 12 lakh teachers out of 15 lakh have submitted their Aadhar numbers," he said.

Amit Shah in Meghalaya as BJP sets eye on poll-bound northeast state
  • BJP chief Amit Shah is in Meghalaya today as part of his three-day tour to the poll-bound northeastern states Meghalaya and Tripura. Amit Shah will address a public rally and inaugurate the BJP's office in Shillong.

    Amit Shah's Meghalaya visit follows a major upheaval in the ruling Congress party which is finding difficult to keep its flock together. Five of its MLAs resigned from the Meghalaya Assembly and quit party to join BJP's ally the National People's Party (NPP).


    Before heading to Meghalaya, Amit Shah held a closed door meeting with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat in Ujjain yesterday for about an hour. The meeting took place at the Madhav Sewa Nyas building near Mahakal temple in the city.

    This was the first interaction between Amit Shah and Mohan Bhagwat after BJP's electoral wins in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, and before the BJP launched its campaign in the poll-bound northeastern states.

    With Amit Shah visiting Meghalaya, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma hit out at the BJP saying that the party is working on the divisive agenda of the RSS in the state. Mukul Sangma also claimed that the "ultimate aim" of the saffron brigade was to amend the Constitution and allow only one religion in the country while calling them "the agents of the devil".

    Keeping up his vitriolic attack, Sangma said, "It is the RSS which dictates, it is the RSS which decides. The prime minister does not have the power to decide on his own and even as regards who should be a minister...This is how this NDA government is working, that is why you see what you see."
    He also alleged that the RSS had started dividing the Garo people of Meghalaya by saying that their culture and tradition were different from those of the Christians and that they were like the members of the organisation.

    "But how is it that our people (Garos) are like them (RSS members)? We are tribals, we are non-vegetarian and our people eat everything that moves," he said, in an oblique reference to the BJP-ruled South Delhi Municipal Corporation's proposed ban on the display of non-vegetarian food outside eateries.

    The Meghalaya chief minister said he had to write to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh before Christmas, following requests by parents whose children were living in other parts of the country and allegedly facing threats.
    Sangma also called on the pro-Inner Line Permit (ILP) activists in the state to protest against the BJP-RSS. "The ILP-walas should first stop these people (RSS) from coming to the state because they are already making social and cultural invasions to divide our people and it is dangerous for us," Sangma said as he took on the BJP on the eve of Amit Shah's Meghalaya visit.

    From Shillong, Amit Shah will head to another poll-bound state Tripura on a two-day tour during which he will address two rallies and attend party meetings on Sunday and Monday.

    The BJP has emerged as the main challenger to the ruling CPI (M) in Tripura while in alliance the NPP, it aims to wrest power from the Congress in Meghalaya. Both Tripura and Meghalaya assemblies have 60 seats each and are likely to go to polls in February.

Business Affairs

    CDB drops insolvency proceedings against RCom
    • The New Year has kicked-off with a ray of hope for embattled Reliance ADAG Chairman Anil Ambani. Today, China Development Bank (CDB) changed its mind about taking the debt-ridden Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom) to the National Company Law Tribunal. RCom owed nearly one-fourth of its $7 billion total secured debt to CDB, its biggest foreign lender.

      Back in 2011, RCom had raised Rs 6,000 crore ($1.33 billion at that time) syndicated loan from CDB for refinancing spectrum fees. It had also signed an additional agreement for raising Rs 2,700 crore ($600 million then) from CDB for financing imports/domestic expenditure of telecom equipment from Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE. With a large amount of loan principal and interest payments overdue on this loan, CDB had filed an insolvency petition against RCom last November.

      But post Anil Ambani's new debt reduction plan, which included the recent asset sale to Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd reportedly worth around Rs 240 billion, CDB has been paid off partially and hence withdrew insolvency proceedings. "CDB has already received some payment and is happy with the deal it is being offered," a person familiar with the matter told The Economic Times. The Chinese bank, however, will retain the right to refile the petition should the final settlement get delayed.

    Bharti Airtel's brings Itel A40 and A41 with cashback offers worth Rs 1,500
    • The latest partnership with Samsung, Celkon and Airtel, Intex on Friday, brings the Itel A40 and itel A41 at an effective price of Rs 3,099 and Rs 3,199 respectively. The 'Mera pehla Smartphone' initiative moves a step ahead by partnering with China's Transsion group-owned Itel Mobile. Airtel also offers a recharge pack of Rs 169 for the owners of the devices.

      Airtel is also offering a cashback worth Rs 1,500 on the purchase of Itel A40 and A41. In order to receive the first instalment of Rs 500, Airtel subscribers need to get a cumulative recharge of Rs 3,000 on their accounts in the first 18 months and to receive the remaining cashback worth Rs 1,000 the subscribers need to recharge their devices with a minimum amount of Rs 3,000 over a period of 18 months. The original market prices of Itel A40 and A41 are Rs 4,599 and 4,699 respectively.

      "We are delighted to partner Itel as we expand our range of affordable 4G Smartphones with an aim to enable every Indian to own a 4G Smartphone and be a part of the digital revolution," said Ajai Puri, COO, Bharti Airtel, in a press statement.

      The Itel A40 comes with 5 inch FWVGA display which yields a resolution of 480x854 pixel. The device is powered by a 1.3GHz chipset, coupled with 1GB RAM. The smartphone comes equipped with 8GB internal memory.

      On the camera front, the device houses a 5Megapixel sensor in the rear panel with autofocus lens and an LED flash. The front facing snapper has a 2Megapixel sensor with a selfie flash. The compact smartphone uses a 2,400mAH battery to power the internals.

      For connectivity, the phone does supports 4G VoLTE. Additionally, it comes with Bluetooth, WiFi connectivity and GPS. A proposition of 100 days replacement warranty has also been made on the devices. The Itel A41 was launched as Itel Wish A41 in March 2017 with similar features as A40 but with different colour options.

      Airtel also collaborated with Samsung to offer Rs 1,500 cashback starting from January 7 on selected smartphones, Samsung Galaxy J2, Galaxy J5 prime, Galaxy J7, Galaxy J7 prime and Galaxy J7 pro.

    Reliance Jio offers 1GB per day data on Rs 149 plan
    • Reliance Jio, as part of its 'Happy New Year' offer, has announced 1GB per day data usage at a recharge of Rs 149, which is Rs 50 lower than its earlier plan. The company said all existing 1GB packs would be enhanced with two additional options - 50 per cent more data or Rs 50 discount on the price plans. Reliance Jio's flagship plan of Rs 399 would provide 20 per cent additional data, increasing the current validity from 70 to 84 days. These plans will be available to the customers from January 9.

      Before this, Billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio had announced Christmas and New Year bonanza with surprise cashback offers of up to Rs 3,300 on Rs 399 recharge and above. The offer is valid till January 15 only. The company has come up with several similar cashbacks to its customers in the past too, giving its rival companies like Airtel and Vodafone a run for the money. The price war started by Reliance Jio after its launch in 2016 has disrupted the entire telecom industry, leading to huge losses incurred by many companies.   

      The company has also been criticised for its dirt-cheap data plans, but as per Mukesh Ambani, "profits and losses are risks businesses take and it is more important to find out if the country and the consumers gained after Jio". He earlier said "businesses must stop looking at regulators and governments to guarantee their profits". According to Mukesh Ambani, the company is ahead of schedule on turning profitable. "Jio results are declared every quarter now. You can see the trend. You watch the next few quarters. You will learn in January and you will learn in March."

    Passengers may end up paying 13% more for air fares in 2018
    • Flight tickets are likely to become more expensive this year owing to increase in fuel prices and GST. Passengers might have to shell out nearly 13 per cent more than they are currently paying. A report in Economic Times mentioned that after implementation of GST, cost of operations has spiked by 27 per cent.

      SpiceJet Chairman Ajay Singh told Economic Times that there is a high degree of pent up demand and that they also have to keep in mind airport costs. He added that jet fuel which is not under the purview of GST must be included under GST, so that airlines can claim input tax credit.

      An airline executive quoted by in news report said that this spike in prices will be felt mostly by those who buy tickets last-minute, while fares would remain cheap if tickets are bought earlier. The executive also mentioned that the jet fuel prices had shot up by 16 per cent and other costs had shot up by 7 per cent.

      The executive also mentioned that the hike might not be felt till March, which is when the peak season travel begins.

      IndianOil Aviation Service, which supplies jet fuel to domestic and international carriers, is currently selling ATF to domestic carriers for Rs 57,349 per Kl. In July 2017, the price was Rs 47,013 per Kl. Similarly, international airlines can buy ATF for $634 per Kl as compared to $517 per Kl in July last year.

      The move could impact the India's airline industry as the boom in Indian aviation is riding on the back of the economy class and low fare. Budget carrier IndiGo has spent 35 per cent of its operating expenses in three months on fuel, the report said.

      The report also mentions that new levies under GST would add Rs 4,750 crore per year on airlines, which means it could potentially wipe off airlines' profits.

    CCI begins public consultation on Bayer-Monsanto deal
    • The Competition Commission of India today launched a public consultation process to determine whether the billion dollar merger deal between global giants Bayer and Monsanto to create the world's largest seeds and pesticide firm will have any adverse impact on competition in India.

      Issuing a public notice inviting comments from everyone affected or likely to be affected by this merger, the CCI said the submissions must be made within 15 working days.

      The fair trade regulator launches such public consultation process if it is of the prima facie opinion that a combination has or is likely to have an appreciable adverse effect on competition.

      The global level deal has been under CCI scrutiny for quite some time amid apprehensions about possible adverse impact on genetically modified market competition scenario in the country, as alleged by some parties who fear creation of monopoly.

      Mergers and acquisitions beyond a certain threshold require approval of the CCI.

      German chemical and pharma major Bayer is buying out global biotech player Monsanto in a USD 66 billion deal.

      Both the companies have presence in India, with the US firm selling genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds in the country for more than a decade.

      As per a notice filed by Bayer before the CCI in October 2016, the "proposed combination raises no competitive concern in any of the overlap products".

      In India, both entities have presence in production and sale of vegetable seeds, cotton seeds as well as in production and sale of non-selective herbicides, according to that notice.

    General Awareness

    Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
    • Context: India’s biggest water carnival through ‘Jal Mahotsav’ is organised every year in Hanuwantiya Island in Madhya Pradesh. The third such ‘Jal Mahotsav’ concluded this year on January 2.

      About Jal Mahotsav:

      What is it? The festival, held between October and January, is a celebration of Madhya Pradesh’s natural beauty and its culture. It is also a great place to try out a variety of adventure sports like parasailing, paramotoring, water zorbing, and many others. The festival also represents the culture of Madhya Pradesh – a culture that stands for rich skill set of its artisans and rich heritage.

      Where is it held? Hanuwantiya island, located on the banks of the Indira Sagar dam in Madhya Pradesh, plays host to India’s largest water carnival – Jal Mahotsav.

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