Current Affairs Current Affairs - 10 January 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 10 January 2018

General Affairs 

Maharashtra: Directly elected civic body chiefs to have financial powers
  • The Maharashtra government on Tuesday decided to grant financial powers to directly elected chiefs of municipal council, nagar panchayats and industrial townships presidents so that they have a stable tenure in office.

    The government had introduced in 2017 direct elections to presidents in the above civic bodies, wherein the people directly elected the municipal council presidents.

    However, the government has empowered the municipal council Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to annul any proposal brought by the civic body that is not consistent with state laws, policies and programs.

    The state cabinet at its meeting on Tuesday approved a proposal to amend the Maharashtra Municipal Council, Nagar Panchayats and Industrial Townships Act, 1965.

    As per the proposed amendments, the directly elected municipal council presidents cannot be removed from their posts in the first two and half years. After that period, councilors demanding removal of the president shall have to provide solid evidence of misbehaviour.

    The allegations shall be probed by the district collector and if there is any mettle in the allegations then the district collector shall submit his/her report to the state government. Following which the government shall remove the president from his post.

    According to the proposed amendments, instead of the general body meeting being held once in two months, the same shall now be held every month. The opinion of the CEO shall be binding and the CEO shall also be empowered to take part in the deliberations at the meeting.

    The CEO shall also make factual clarifications. The minutes of the general body meeting shall be finalised within seven days and shall be uploaded on the civic body's official website. The standing committee of the civic body shall have the powers to ratify the decisions taken at the general body meeting.

    The BJP is leading maximum civic bodies in the state followed by Shiv Sena, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party.

Bulls eye: Manesar competition to crown India's best police commando sniper
  • It's a battle of prestige for the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) and State Police Commando's proving their mettle in brains, brawn and aim.

    In a first, the National Security Guard who is organizing the All India Police Commando Competition (AIPCC) in Manesar for a little over a week from 13th of January to 20th of January has special ground has been prepared for this very competition.

    Out of the 25 participating teams, only ten are said to be up for the challenge. The black cat commandos have also been regularly practicing for the coveted event.

    While each state will be sending its toughest men, the soldiers will be tested on their potential, capabilities, precision and preparedness to meet exigencies.

    The aim is to enhance physical and mental robustness, shooting skills, leadership qualities under stressful conditions and foster team spirit amongst the participating teams. Each team will have maximum strength of 35 which will include its administrative staff.

    While the cynosure of the competition will be the sniping event, there are other events like the Cheetah run Competition which will include 1.3 kilometer run with 10 kg load and personal weapon obstacle and 2.4 run towards reflex firing range.

    Also there will be black hawk firing and small team operation like raid on terrorist hideout in urban and rural setting.

    If clearing this was not tough enough, there are at least 55 judges from the Army and the Central Armed Police Forces. The force will also show its muscle power with the splendid show by the black cats in the opening ceremony.

    Rajasthan Police has on three occasions won the AIPCC including the 7th competition which was incidentally also organised by the Rajasthan Police in Jodhpur.

    While the event is being organised in Manesar, neither Delhi Police nor Haryana Police is said to be participating. Similar is the case of the North east state.

    Interestingly amongst the one's participating from state are  Jammu and Kashmir which is bearing the brunt of terrorism, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand , Maharashtra and Odisha currently fighting the naxals.

    Reportedly, many of the state police departments could not spare their men due to the upcoming Republic Day on 26th January.

Aadhaar leak: Only 23 per cent think their biometric data is safe with UIDAI, says survey
  • Security of Aadhaar data has been a subject of debate ever since the idea was floated under the UPA government. With the latest expose by a national daily showing that with rampant corruption, unauthorised access of Aadhaar data is possible for as less as Rs 500, the fear is increasing again one more time.

    In an online survey conducted by social engagement platform LocalCircles, only 23 per cent people said that they were "quite confident" that their Aadhaar data could be protected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDIA).

    The survey received over 15,000 votes, of which, 52 per cent feared that their Aadhaar data might not be safe from unauthorised access by hackers and information sellers.

    An overwhelming 91 per cent of respondents said that those accessing Aadhaar data illegally should be punished with five years in jail. Around 77 per cent said that a penalty of Rs 1 crore should also be imposed apart from the jail term for unauthorised access of Aadhaar data.

    In a related poll, about 70 per cent found the UIDAI's decision to file case against the journalist who exposed the vulnerability of Aadhaar data was uncalled for.

    While the UIDAI is working to plug loopholes in the Aadhaar security systems, majority of people, who took part in the survey, are of the view that access to biometric data should be restricted. About 43 per cent said that access to Aadhaar data should be limited to verification of only name and address for e-KYC where it is mandatory.

In ten hours, NRI cleans dead water reservoir, removes 35K ton of garbage
  • In what could be described as a real success story of Swachch Bharat campaign, an NRI and local administration of Barmer removed 35,000 metric tons of grabage and silt from an oldest reservoir just in a day.

    On Saturday, January 6, 70 Dumpers, 7 Hitachi hydraulic excavators, 12 JCB diggers and 4 tractors were pressed into service to clean 2.6 ha (hectare) of the reservoir known as Kareli Nadi.

    Barmer is located in Thar desert, right on the international border with Pakistan. Kareli Nadi was the sole source of drinking water for the city half a century ago, but was marginalised and neglected over the years.

    Gradually, it became dumping yard with all kinds of waste, including carcasses, that were thrown here.

    As a result, catchment area was nearly eroded, leaving little space to store water. The arrival of Indira Gandhi Canal further reduced administration and locals' interest in it.

    In December 2017, District Collector, Shivprasad M. Nakate and Municipal Commissioner Gunjan Soni explored the possibility of restoring and renovating the water body.

    Nawal Kishore Godara, an NRI and his brother Teeku Singh, both hail from Barmer, came forward and took upon themselves to revive the Kareli Nadi.

    On January 6, the cleaning work was executed on the war footing. Once the garbage was removed, the fresh soil was spread around. Plantation has been done along the banks.

    "It is a tribute to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his stress on water conservation and making India clean," says Godara.

    Modi is visiting Barmer on January 16 to lay the foundation stone for Barmer refinery and Petrochemical Complex. He said on request of the administration he and his brother agreed to carry out the mammoth task. "But it was really a hell of a place before it was cleaned," he says.

    No wonder, cleaning Barmer of grabage has given him and administration immense satisfaction.

China mum over General Bipin Rawat's remarks on PLA troop reduction in Doklam
  • China today skirted a direct response to Army chief General Bipin Rawat's remarks that there was a major reduction of Chinese troops in Doklam, but insisted that its soldiers stationed in the area were exercising "sovereignty rights".

    China and India were engaged in a 73-day tense standoff at Doklam in the Sikkim sector which ended on August 28.

    "The Dong Lang (Dokalam) area has all along been part of China and under China's continuous and effective jurisdiction. There is no dispute in this regard," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told the media when asked about Rawat's remarks.

    Rawat yesterday said Indian and Chinese troops had resolved an issue over the recent attempt by Chinese teams to build a road on the Indian side of the border at Tuting in Arunachal Pradesh.

    Rawat also said there was a major reduction of Chinese troops in the Doklam area.

    "Chinese border troops patrolling and stationing in the Dong Lang area are exercising sovereignty rights in accordance with the stipulations of historical conventions and upholding territorial sovereignty," Lu said, without commenting on the troop reduction.

    Lu also did not directly refer to Rawat's comment that India and China have sorted out the issue relating to the plans of Chinese troops to construct a road well into the Indian territory at Tuting in Arunachal Pradesh in the last week of December.

    Lu reiterated China's claims over Arunachal Pradesh which Beijing says is part of South Tibet.

    "My colleagues have responded to the question concerning this many times. I need to reiterate that there is a huge dispute on the eastern section of the China-India boundary," Lu said.

    "So we have to reach an agreement through consensus. But before that we need to uphold peace and security. We can properly resolve the relevant dispute through mechanisms already established and bind by historical boundary related agreements," he said.

    On Doklam, China has been asserting that the area which was also being claimed by Bhutan belonged to it.

    The Doklam standoff, the longest in recent years between the two nations, ended after China agreed to stop road construction and India withdrew its troops.

    But much to the surprise of India, China continued the deployment of its troops in an area close to the site of standoff disregarding its previous practice of pulling out soldiers during the winter.

Business Affairs

World Economic Forum 2018: Arun Jaitley interacts with CEOs to set India's agenda for Davos
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday interacted with industry CEOs along with Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu to set the Indian government's agenda and participation at the forthcoming annual meeting of World Economic Forum at Davos. 

    The External Affairs Ministry on Monday announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would lead the 'largest ever' Indian contingent of over 100 delegates to Switzerland during the four-day World Economic Forum 2018 in Swiss Alps town of Davos on January 23. The Prime Minister would deliver a keynote address at the 48th event of the World Economic Forum on January 23. The ministry has said PM Modi would also hold a bilateral meeting with Alain Berset, the President of the Swiss Confederation.

    In a big achievement to India, the country has been entrusted with the responsibility of hosting the welcome reception at the world leaders' event, and Indian foods and yoga would mark the commencement ceremony of the four-day annual jamboree of the rich and powerful. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit marks the first-ever visit of any Indian prime minister in the past 20 years after former PM HD Deve Gowda who visited the forum in 1997.

    This year's World Economic Forum Annual Meeting aims to "rededicate leaders from all walks of life to developing a shared narrative to create a shared future in a fractured world," states the WEF website. Earlier, the WEF had said over 3,000 leaders representing over 100 countries would gather to discuss global, regional and industry agendas. CEOs of top companies, government heads, artistes, and civil society members from across 120 nations would debate issues that matters to the world.

    6.40pm: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley interacts with industry CEOs along with Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu about the Indian government's agenda and participation at the forthcoming annual meeting of World Economic Forum at Davos.

    6.20pm: Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion Secretary Ramesh Abhishek tells CNBCTV 18 this year would see the biggest ever delegation of Indian ministers at Davos2018. "The Prime Minister is doing so much and the world needs to know about it," he says.

    India-related issues to be discussed during the forum include the country's role a major economic power, 'how India is using big data in policymaking', 'India's role in ensuring peace and stability in the Asia'.

    The Indian delegation also includes Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar and Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region of India, Jitendra Singh. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's counterpart Shahid Khaqan Abbasi would also attend the WEF. Neighbouring Asian giant China would mark a significant presence, and its Belt Road Initiative would be part of several forum discussions.

    This year's global agenda for WEF includes 'global governance', 'changing geopolitical landscape', 'sustainable and inclusive economic development', and 'Fourth Industrial Revolution', says the WEF. For the first time, the forum would have all-women co-chairs.  

    PM Modi addresses PIO Parliamentarians 
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday indirectly slammed China for its expansionist foreign policies in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh, and said India didn't eye anyone's territory. During the persons of Indian origin (PIO) parliamentarians' meet, PM Modi said India's development model didn't define 'give and take' policy. The event marks 102nd anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's return from South Africa. He asked them to invest in India, and contribute in the country's economic growth.

    "India is that country which has always played a constructive role in the world arena. We do not measure our policy towards any nation on the basis of profit or loss but view it through the prism of human values," he said, adding that India neither intended to exploit anyone's resources nor was "eying" anyone's territory. "Our focus has always been on capacity building and resource development," he said. The day-long conference was attended by as many as 134 elected representatives from 24 countries, including France, Fiji, Switzerland and Mauritius.

Sensex logs record closing high of 34,443, Nifty at 10,637; Coal India, YES Bank, Wipro top gainers
  • The Sensex and Nifty ended at record closing highs for the third consecutive session as optimism rose ahead of Narendra Modi government's last full year Budget on February 1. The indexes also gained ground amid optimism over Q3 earnings due to favourable effect of a low base an year ago. Tata Consultancy Services is due to post December-quarter results on Thursday, followed by Infosys on Friday.

    While the Sensex closed 90.40 points or 0.26% higher to 34,443 level, breaching its previous closing level of 34,352.79, Nifty settled at 10,637, a rise of 13 points from its previous record close of 10,623 level.

    Earlier, the Sensex hit an all-time high of 34,488 level intra day. Nifty too touched lifetime high of 10,659 in trade today.

    BSE realty index rose 2.9 percent, consumer durables index added 0.8 percent, IPO and energy indexes gain 0.15-0.2 percent; IT index was up 0.3 percent.

    Coal India (5.63%), YES Bank (2.31%) and Wipro (2.11%) are the top Sensex gainers.

    Bharti Airtel (1.18%), Adani Ports (1.13%) and Hero MotoCorp (0.91%) are top losers on Sensex.

    Coal India rose up to 7.69% after the state run miner said its board has approved a hike in non-coking coal prices for both power and non-power consumers with immediate effect.

    "Markets are flattish as there is some volatility due to expectations around budget, corporate results which are starting soon and the global markets," said Vinod Nair, Head of Research at Geojit Financial Services.

    Coffee Day Enterprises, the Cafe Coffee Day chain owner was locked in the upper circuit of 20% or 54.10 points to 324.65 level.

    Market breadth is negative with 1369 stocks closing higher against 1623 enidng lower on BSE. 102 stocks were unchanged.

    S&P BSE consumer durables index was the top gainer among the 19 sectoral indexes  rising 193 points to 24,053 level.  PC jeweller (6%) and VIP Industries (4.17%) were the top gainers on the  index.

    The BSE auto index was the top loser with Cummins India (2.14%) and Eicher Motors (1.84%) falling most on the index.

    Meanwhile, iron ore miner NMDC closed 4.48 percent lower to Rs 154.60 after the government unveiled a plan to sell up to 47.5 million shares in the company.

    MSCI's all-country world stocks index posted another record high as Europe's main markets shrugged off a tech wobble in Asia and instead cheered Christmas trading updates and more forecast-beating data from Germany.

    Asian trading saw Japan's Nikkei close at its highest since November 1991, catching up to the previous session's gains as markets reopened after a holiday on Monday.

    South Korea's share market erased its gains and slipped 0.1 percent, dragged lower by a 3.1 percent drop in shares of Samsung Electronics Co.

Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum slump: Why cryptocurrency market lost 20% in 24 hours
  • The cryptocurrency market is suddenly awash in red. Within 24 hours of CoinMarketCap, a leading global index of digital currency prices, adjusting its listed data by removing a group of Korean cryptocurrency exchanges from its price calculations, total market capitalization crashed by more than $150 billion. All the top 10 cryptocurrencies were showing drops of anywhere from 1.8% to 22% on the website earlier this morning.

    Yesterday, CoinMarketCap tweeted that "This morning we excluded some Korean exchanges in price calculations due to the extreme divergence in prices from the rest of the world and limited arbitrage opportunity. We are working on better tools to provide users with the averages that are most relevant to them." Since the trading prices of most virtual currencies are much higher on South Korean exchanges like Bithumb, Coinone and Korbit-reportedly up to 30% higher due to high local demand-compared to other countries, CoinMarketCap's revised prices showed a sharp, sudden drop.

    This, in turn, triggered off panic selling by investors unaware of the reason behind the crypto price decline displayed on the website. Many probably thought that this was the long-predicted bubble burst. As a result, the cryptocurrency market that was collectively worth $835.6 billion at 11.07 UTC, reportedly nosedived to a low of $668.7 billion, down 20% in one day. As news of the real reason for the price correction spread, the market started to slowly recover lost ground and the market cap currently stands at $760 billion.

    CoinMarketCap's decision to revise its price calculations comes in the heels of a Korean crackdown on crypto trading. In late December, authorities in South Korea, the world's third largest market for cryptocurrencies after the US and Japan, announced that they were planning to ban opening anonymous cryptocurrency accounts and introduce new legislation enabling regulators to close exchanges if needed. According to Investopedia, the world's largest financial education website, the authorities have also recently announced that they were inspecting six of the country's largest financial institutions that offer virtual currency accounts to institutions for compliance with anti-money laundering laws. This was reportedly the trigger for the website's sudden move.

    The worst affected of all digital currencies was Ripple's XRP while Ethereum took the smallest hit. Just four days ago, Ripple had fallen by more than 25% after Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange, squashed rumours about integrating it. So the CoinMarketCap revision was a double whammy, reportedly wiping out $20 billion from its market cap. Digital currency king Bitcoin, meanwhile, is up 9% from a low of $14,208.20 yesterday.

    Apart from the heartburn caused, the recent panic underscores the inherent instability of the crypto market. Investors looking to make a quick profit are advised to proceed with caution

SBI to raise Rs 5,000 crore via bonds for affordable housing
  • Country's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) today said it proposes to raise Rs 5,000 crore through long term bonds to fund affordable housing.

    The proposed bond raising programme aims at funding infrastructure and affordable housing, SBI said in a filing to stock exchanges.

    The bank will seek approval of the board for issuance of long term bonds of Rs 5,000 crore for financing of infrastructure and affordable housing in domestic and overseas market, it said.

    The bank, however, did not specify whether the borrowing would be in rupee denomination or dollar.

    The executive committee of the central board is scheduled to have a meeting on January 17, it added.

    Yesterday, the bank announced plans to raise up to USD 2 billion (over Rs 12,600 crore) by issuing bonds in US dollar or other convertible currency over two fiscals to fund overseas expansion.

    It said the fund-raising will take place through a public offer and/or private placement of senior unsecured notes in US Dollar or any other convertible currency during 2017-18 and 2018-19.

    Last month, the bank's board had approved raising Rs 8,000 crore through various sources, including masala bonds, to meet Basel III capital norms.

    Masala bonds are rupee denominated specialised debt instruments that can be floated in overseas markets only to raise capital.

    The bank said it has time till March 2018 to raise the funds.

    Banks in India have to comply with the global capital norms under Basel III by March 2019. Internationally agreed time frame for the same is January 2019.

Coal India stock closes 5.76% higher on hike in non-coking coal price
  • The Coal India stock rose up to 7.69% on Tuesday after the state run miner said its board has approved a hike in non-coking coal prices for both power and non-power consumers with immediate effect.

    At 2:45 pm, the stock was trading 5.71% or 16.45 points higher at 304.15 level on BSE. On the NSE , the stock was up 6 percent to 304.70.

    The stock is the top Sensex and Nifty gainer today.  

    On the equity volume front, over 2.5 crore shares changed hands on NSE. On BSE, 13.73 lakh shares of the firm were traded till 2:52 pm. The stock is up 14 percent or 37 points since the beginning of this year. It has delivered 1.215% returns during the last one year.

    The stock closed 5.63% or 16 points higher at 304 level on BSE. On Nifty, the stock closed 5.76% higher at 304 level.

    G. Chokkalingam from Equinomics wrote Coal India (CIL) has revised upwards the prices of non-coking coal with effect from January 9, 2018. Due to this revision, CIL will earn an incremental revenue of Rs 1,956 crore for the balance period of FY2018 and projected incremental revenue for FY2019 would be Rs 6,421 crore. Last month also, CIL levied evacuation charges of Rs 50 per tonne which is expected to earn an additional revenue of Rs 2,500 crore annually. As a result of price hike and additional levy, Coal India's total income would rise by Rs 8,900 crore annually which is significantly more than Rs 5,700 crore the company would add to the total wage bill on account of 20% rise in workmen's salaries.

    Equinomics continues to recommend a HOLD on the stock with a revised target price of Rs 330 per share.

    The miner was compelled to revise prices in the wake of rising costs which was a drag on its profitability for the last few quarters.

    Coal India is a coal mining company, which is engaged in the production and sale of coal. The company offers products, including coking coal, semi coking coal, non-coking coal, washed and beneficiated coal, middlings, rejects, coal fines/coke fines, and tar/heavy oil/light oil/soft pitch. Its middlings are used in power generation, brick manufacturing units and cement plants.

General Awareness

Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
  • Context: The 18th All India Whips’ Conference was recently inaugurated at Udaipur, Rajasthan. The conference is hosting around 90 Delegates belonging to 19 States and Centre.

    Significance of the conference:

    The purpose of this conference is to strengthen the parliamentary democracy, its institutions and ultimately serve the people at large. The conference provides a platform to Whips of various political parties – ruling as well as opposition at the Centre as well as the States to exchange their views and experiences and discuss the challenges facing them in discharge of their Parliamentary duties and evolve norms for efficient working of parliamentary machinery.

    Who is a whip?

    A whip is an important member of a political party’s parliamentary body, having a central role in ‘Floor Management’ in both the Houses of Parliament and is responsible for discipline within the party. Their main job is ensuring that their members in Parliament and legislature vote in line with the party’s official policy on important issues and make sure that the members turn out for important votes.

    Importance of whips in our political system:

    In the parliamentary form of Government, Whips of various political parties are the vital links of the internal organization of parties, inside the legislatures. The efficient and smooth functioning of Parliament and State Legislatures depends, to a considerable extent, upon the office of the Whip. The Whips can be rightly said to be the managers of the parties within the legislatures.

    Facts for Prelims:

    It was 18th All India Whips’ Conference and was held at Udaipur, Rajasthan.
    First All India Whips Conference was organized at Indore in 1952, in the very first year of general elections to the First Lok Sabha.
    Organizing the All India Whips Conference is one of the functions assigned to the Ministry of Parliamentary affairs, under Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 made under article 77(3) of the Constitution.

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