Current Affairs Current Affairs - 11 January 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 11 January 2018

General Affairs 

CBSE Class 10, 12 exams to start March 5, end April 12. Full date sheets here
  • The CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) has announced the dates for the Class 10 and 12 exams. The CBSE board exams for the two classes begin on March 5 and will end on April 12 for Class 12, and April 4 for Class 10.

    Students can check the date sheets on CBSE's website

    The CBSE exams for classes 10 and 12 will last a total of 38 days.

    As many as 28.24 lakh students will appear for the class 10 and 12 CBSE examinations. Of the 28.24 lakh students appearing for the CBSE board exams, 16,38,552 students will take the class 10 exam while 11,86,144 students will take the class 12 exam. Among the 28.24 lakh students who will sit for the exam are also 8 transgender students - 6 of whom will appear for the class 10 exam and 2 for the class 12 exam.

    While the first CBSE exam for class 10 is of the subject Information and Communication Technology, the Class 12 students will be appearing for the English paper.

    As per the CBSE guidelines, the CBSE affiliated schools will conduct the practical exams from mid-January and complete it by January 31.

    This will be the first batch to appear for Class X board examination after the board decided to junk the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) and reintroduce the board exams.

Rajasthan: Real Estate Regulatory Authority acts on four defaulting real estate projects
  • Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA), Rajasthan has imposed fine on two developers and issued notices to two others for different violations.

    Builders in Rajasthan are notorious to miss deadlines and not keep promises and RERA's first action which is on technical grounds can be a good beginning to rein them in if it is sustained.

    RERA has imposed fines on developers of Ginni Homes and Manglam Grand City for not depositing required documents even after registering the projects online with RERA.

    Subham Group and Manglam Builders have been issued notices for advertising their projects, Manglam Aroma and Shyam Vatika respectively without prior registration.

    Welcoming the action, Vishal Minhas, an NRI told India Today that he too was a victim for the delay and no response from Avalon Royal Park of Avalon Group in Bhiwadi.

    "They have been missing deadlines and I suspect that they have not fairly done required formalities with RERA either.  Now I am too contemplating to move RERA against Avalon Group," he said.

    One will wait to see when RERA begins to penalise builders for delays and not keeping promises.

Indian Army killed 138 Pakistan soldiers in 2017 in tactical ops, cross-border retaliation: Sources
  • The Indian Army killed 138 Pakistan Army personnel in 2017 in tactical operations and retaliatory cross-border firings along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, government intelligence sources said today.

    The Indian Army lost 28 soldiers during the same period along the LoC, the sources said.

    The sources said the Pakistan Army usually does not acknowledge the deaths of its personnel and shows them as civilian casualties in certain cases.

    The Indian Army has been adopting a "tough" approach in dealing with ceasefire violations and terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir in the last one year.

    The Pakistan Army has suffered 138 fatal and 155 non- fatal casualties in tactical operations and retaliatory cross-border firings along the LoC in 2017, the intelligence sources told PTI.

    A total of 70 Indian Army personnel were injured during cross border firings and other incidents.

    Asked about the fatalities on the Pakistani side, the Army refused to comment. However, Army spokesperson Col Aman Anand said India has been effectively retaliating against all ceasefire violations by the Pakistan Army and will continue to do so.

    According to official figures, 860 incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops were reported in 2017 as against 221 last year.


    It seems the Pakistan Army has a policy of not acknowledging the killing of its personnel, the sources said. They also referred to the Kargil war when Pakistan had declined to accept casualties despite proof given by India.

    The sources also cited an incident on December 25 when a group of five Army commandos crossed the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir and killed three Pakistani soldiers. The Pakistan Army had posted a tweet that day acknowledging the deaths but later deleted it.

    The Pakistan Army's spokesperson two days later rejected reports that Indian commandos selectively targeted a post across the LoC and killed three of its soldiers.

    The intelligence sources said Indian Army killed 27 Pakistani soldiers in sniper firing last year while seven of its soldiers lost their lives in Pakistani sniper firing along the LoC.

    As part of its policy of "hot pursuit", the Indian Army has been carrying out tactical operations to foil Pakistan Army;s support to terrorists.

    In May last year, the Indian Army had said it launched "punitive fire assaults" on Pakistani positions across the LoC, inflicting "some damage", days after two Indian Army personnel were beheaded.

Change definition of corruption: Uddhav Thackeray takes potshots at BJP
  • Calling allegations of corruption as just a mean to attack Opposition, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray has said that time has come now to define corruption in a new perspective. 

    Uddhav has quipped that the snake everyone was trying to beat in the name of corruption when in Opposition has turned out to be a lifeless rope when in power.

    Uddhav was referring to the recent verdicts in the 2G scam case and the Agusta Westland verdict by an Italian court.

    "The verdict by the Italian will definitely have its impact on the cases (pertaining to Agusta Westland) in India. If former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi is innocent he should get a clean chit. But how will one make up for the days spent behind bars and the subsequent agony he had to face?" Uddhav questioned.

    "How long will the practise of politicians making wild allegations and the investigating agencies will continue to make arrests and probes under pressure based on these allegations? And when these allegations are proved wrong politicians lose nothing, but the credibility of institutions like CBI become a laughing stock," Uddhav added.

    Uddhav also pointed fingers at the BJP saying that it was the BJP that made allegations in the 2G and Agusta Westland scam, adding that the air in these allegations is ironically removed during the BJP's tenure itself.

    "Same had happened during the Bofors allegations. Citizens of the country are now in a quandary on how much one should trust such allegations," he said.

    Taking dig at the BJP, Uddhav said, "Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis when in opposition made tall claims that he has cart full of proofs against Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkare in the irrigation scam. But forget Tatkare and Pawar's arrest, BJP's very own Eknath Khadse was found embroiled in land scam".

    "BJP was pitching hard for a Lokpal to curb corruption. But since the BJP has come to power the Lokpal too has disappeared," he added.

Mumbai: BMC crackdown over of fire safety norms, hotels need to have audit team
  • After the Kamla Mills fire incident, BMC wants hotel and restaurant owners association and other associations related to hotel industry to conduct an internal fire audit and cancel the membership of hotels, pubs restaurants which will flout the rule.

    This meeting was attended by city hotel and restaurants owners part of the Hotel and Restaurant Association (Western India).

    Industry has welcomed this proposal by BMC commissioner. They also assured the civic chief of full cooperation in making restaurants and hotels in the city safe for its patrons.

    The Kamala Mills fire incident has been followed by the BMC cracking the whip on illegal alterations and additions made by several eateries to their premises.

    "We welcome this proposal by BMC. We are already in talks with NGOs which are expert in this. We feel that we should also make our home safe first that's why our association after Kamala Mills tragedy immediately issued circular asking members to conduct the audit immediately." Said Dilip Datwani, President, Hotel & Restaurant Association Western India (HRAWI)

    In this regard, The AHAR had, following the devastating fire, issued a 14-point circular laying down fire safety norms to 8,000 member-establishments in the city.

    Though congress had welcomed this move but they feel BMC just can't wash its hand by putting responsibility on Hotels.

    "It's welcoming move by BMC. But my point is that if BMC is putting responsibility on these private players then responsibility over BMC also gets increase as they have to see whether these private players have done their job or not." said Ravi Raja Congress leader in BMC.

Business Affairs

Cabinet approves 100% FDI in single brand retail, construction development
  • The Union Cabinet On Wednesday made a slew of amendments in country's Foreign Direct Investment policy for key sectors. In some sectors, it allowed 100 per cent foreign investment while in others the cabinet raised the existing foreign investment limit. These sectors involve single brand retail trading, construction, power exchanges and aviation.

    The government in a press statement informed that it has permitted 100 per cent FDI under automatic route for single brand retail trading. Under the existing policy, this limit was 49 per cent and for 100 per cent FDI, the government approval was required. After the amendments, no government approval is required for 100 per cent investment.

    In the civil aviation sector, the government for the first time has allowed foreign investors to put money in Air India. So far, foreign airlines were allowed to invest in Indian companies operating scheduled and non-scheduled air transport services up to the limit of 49 per cent. However, this provision was not applicable to Air India, thereby implying that foreign airlines could not invest in the state-run airline. "It has now been decided to do away with this restriction and allow foreign airlines to invest up to 49 per cent under approval route in Air India," the statement said.

    The government has made it clear that foreign investments in Air India including that of foreign Airlines should not exceed 49 per cent either directly or indirectly and substantial ownership and effective control of the national carrier will continue to remain in Indian national (keeping privatisation in mind).

    The Cabinet also clarified that "real-estate broking service does not amount to real estate business and is therefore, eligible for 100 per cent FDI under automatic route. This is the second round of FDI reform that the Modi government has unleashed. In past, the government introduced multiple FDI policy changes for defence, construction development, insurance, pension, Broadcasting, Civil Aviation, Pharmaceuticals and Trading.

    The government has claimed that after the initial move FDI inflows increased substantially. "During the year 2014-15, total FDI inflows received were US $ 45.15 billion as against US $ 36.05 billion in 2013-14. During 2015-16, country received total FDI of US $ 55.46 billion. In the financial year 2016-17, total FDI of US $ 60.08 billion has been received, which is an all-time high," the statement said.

    Foreign investment is a major driver of economic growth and a source of non-debt finance for the economic development of the country, the government claims. 

    Meanwhile, the Confederation of All India Traders has hit out at the government for the 100% FDI in retail brand. It said: "100 per cent FDI in single brand retail through the automatic route will facilitate easy entry of MNCs in the retail trade and also violate the poll promise of the BJP." 

Residential real estate prices drop 3% in top cities
  • The Indian residential market is showing a "price crack" for the first time in many years. In other words, prices have fallen in the second half of 2017 by a weighted average of 3 per cent across cities versus the year-ago period, property consultancy Knight Frank said in a new report.

    Prices in Pune declined the maximum at 7.3 per cent, followed by Mumbai (5 per cent), Bangalore (5 per cent), Kolkata (5 per cent), Chennai (3 per cent), and NCR (2 per cent). Only markets that have ready to move inventory such as Hyderabad and Ahmedabad saw prices firming up 3 per cent and 2 per cent respectively. The prices of assets in most of the cities have dipped while consumer price inflation (CPI) has risen.

    The softness in pricing reflects the stress in the residential real estate sector of the country. The lingering impact of demonetisation, the enforcement of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA), and the trust deficit in developers has all derailed the market.

    According to data from Knight Frank, housing launches in 2017 crashed 41 per cent to 1,03,570 units versus 2016. This is down 78 per cent from the peak of 4,80,000 units launched in 2010. Declines have been sharper in NCR at 56 per cent in 2017.

    Housing units sold pan India in 2017 dropped 7 per cent to 2,28,072 units compared to 2016 and declined 38 per cent since the peak in 2011.

    On the positive side, unsold inventory dropped 19 per cent to 5,28,494 housing units. Mudassir Zaidi, Executive Director - North at Knight Frank said that 60-65 per cent buyers used to be short-term ones - or speculators. They have vacated the market. This implies that the market is moving towards end users.

    Zaidi, however, doesn't expect a V-shaped correction. The recovery in residential real estate will be slow. The report also added that the "the long awaited drop in prices is a healthy step toward market recovery as this along with other measures such as reduction in unit sizes across cities will boost home-buyer affordability".

Gold loan market to grow to Rs 3.1 lakh crore by 2020: KPMG
  • A recent KPMG report predicts that value of organised gold loan market in India will grow to Rs 3,10,100 crore by 2020 at a three-year compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.7 per cent. In 2015-16, the gold loan market in the country had recorded a 10.82 per cent growth with a value of Rs 1,96,600 crore. The report predicts organized gold loan market in the country to grow to Rs 2,39,100 crore in 2017-18 with a growth of 11.8 per cent and to Rs 2,74,000 crore in the next financial year with a growth of 14.6 per cent.

    However, factors like increasing regulations, low future outlook for gold prices in the next 2-3 years, evolving saving pattern of consumers, data security etc will be challenges for the industry, warns the report.

    India is one of the largest consumers of gold with an estimated stock of 23,000 tonnes. About 40 per cent of the gold loan market is in South India. Public sector banks and NBFCs like Muthoot Finance and Manappuram control nearly 81 percent of the organised gold loan market. Informal players in the sector like pawn brokers and money lenders, which are unregulated, control 40-60 percent of the gold loan transactions in the country, say estimates.

    The report said growth drivers for the industry would be exclusion from mainstream personal and retail loans by scheduled banks,  changing attitudes towards applying for gold loans, geographical demands, large volume of existing gold held by rural communities, availability of gold loan in extremely flexible terms and lower default rates in the supply side.

    The report said gold loan companies are expected to continue delinking the gold price volatility risk by offering more variants of lower tenure loan products. Increased competition from Small Finance Banks (SFBs) will reduce the yield and players should invest in technology and automation to a great extent. The space is likely to see interesting partnerships with fintechs to help streamline and automate processes.

    The report said the industry is on a growth trajectory and key players have started leveraging technology (online gold loan), personalised loan schemes, improved branding and targeted marketing. Another key recent action was to de-link gold price volatility to business profitability. Though demonetization caused a temporary shortfall in business, the negative impact was short-lived as key players moved to digital payments. The digital ecosystem has created credibility and has tilted in favour of the specialised gold loan NBFCs. 

Sensex falls 82 points on profit-booking, Nifty holds on to 10,600 level; Asian Paints, YES Bank top gainers
  • The Sensex and Nifty fell of their record highs on profit-booking in afternoon trade with BSE midcap and small cap indexes contributing to the decline. 

    While the Sensex was trading 82 points or 0.24% lower at 34,360, Nifty was holding on to  the key 10,600 level , still down 33 points.

    The midcap and small cap indexes fell 89 and 91 points respectively.

    Earlier in the day, BSE Sensex hit new life-time intra day high of 34,565.63 in opening session, extending its record-setting spree for a fourth session on buying by domestic investors ahead of quarterly results by bluechips.

    The 30-share index rose by 122.44 points, or 0.35 per cent, to hit a new peak of 34,565.63, surpassing its previous record (intra-session) of 34,488.03 points hit yesterday.

    The gauge had gained almost 650 points in previous four sessions to close at a record high at 34,443.19 in yesterday's session.

    Sectoral indices, led by healthcare, realty, teck, oil & gas, IT and infrastrcuture, were leading the gains.

    The 50-share NSE Nifty gained 18.50 points, or 0.17 per cent, to quote at 10,655.50.

    The gauge touched an intra-day high of 10,659.15 and closed at record high of 10,637 yesterday.

    Major gainers were ONGC, Coal India, Bharti Airtel, Sun Pharma, Adani Ports, Reliance Industries, Power Grid, ITC Ltd, Dr Reddy's, SBI, Infosys, NTPC and TCS, rising by up to 1.40 per cent.

    Brokers said fresh buying by domestic institutional investors (DIIs) and retail investors ahead of third quarterly earnings by bluechip companies lifted the flagship Sensex to new highs.

    Besides, a firm trend in global markets also boosted sentiments, they said.

    Among other Asian markets, Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.21 per cent, while Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.24 per cent in early trade today. Japan's Nikkei, however, fell 0.22 per cent.

    The US Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at new records ahead of key earnings reports.

Revenue growth to hit 5-year high in Q3: CRISIL Research
  • Corporate revenues (excluding that of banking, financial services and insurance, and oil companies) are expected to rise around 9 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter of FY2017/18, says a CRISIL Research report. The revenues growth is expected to hit a five-year high in the quarter concluded in December 2017. Stronger performance of consumer-oriented sectors is expected to be the primary driver of growth in the second half of this fiscal with GST teething troubles abating and trade channels reverting to normalcy. Companies across key sectors account for nearly 70 per cent of the market capitalisation of NSE-listed firms, excluding banking, financial services, insurance and oil.

    Consumption-linked sectors, except telecom services, are expected to grow at a robust 13-14 per cent, driven by a demand boost during the festive season and owing to the low base effect from demonetisation impact in the same quarter last fiscal along with the fade-out of GST-related disruptions. Telecom, however, will continue to face pricing pressure as incumbents slash tariffs to maintain competitive pricing. Export-linked sectors such as IT and pharmaceuticals will also continue to disappoint amid a tough international environment. In pharmaceuticals, the U.S. pricing and regulatory pressures will remain although pricing concerns will come down over the next few quarters, aided by new product launches. Commodity-linked sectors such as steel products and petrochemicals are expected to grow amid firm prices.

    Telecom services, pharma, sugar and housing sectors will see the sharpest fall in margins. Had it not been for these sectors, overall EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) margins of key sectors would have declined only by 40 bps in the third quarter of fiscal 2018.

    The aggregate top-line performance was relatively better at 6.8 per cent in the second quarter of fiscal 2018, after a weak first quarter. Key commodity-linked sectors such as cement, steel products, aluminium and natural gas registered a healthy 21 per cent YoY growth in revenue and saved the day. According to the report, steel and non-ferrous metals led the commodity-linked sectors' performance, benefiting from the rise in prices. Further, the pain in consumption sectors relatively softened, with all consumption-linked sectors, excluding telecom, registering a YoY growth of 14 per cent.

    A rise in the input cost and pricing pressure dented the overall profitability of Indian industries. The EBITDA margin contracted a little less than 100 bps to 19 per cent in the second quarter of fiscal 2018.

General Awareness

Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
  • Context: The folk painting of Madhubani will soon be seen decorating the walls of various government buildings in Bihar, the eastern Indian state where the art hails from. The idea behind painting the town in Madhubani is to give visitors a firsthand experience of how the paintings are blended with the region’s culture.

    About Madhubani paintings:

    Madhubani, which means ‘forest of honey’, is a style of folk painting old enough to find mention in some of the ancient Indian texts like the holy Ramayana. It is also known as Mithila, for its origin is said to be the Mithila region in Bihar.

    Traditionally, the Madhubani paintings are created using fingers and twigs, and items like matchsticks have come to be used in their creation in recent times.
    Their various styles include Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna, and Kohbar, which would historically be painted only by women from the upper strata in the caste system, who would make them on mud walls on special occasions.
    The norms have now changed and the paintings can be enjoyed by anyone and in various forms. Madhubani is now found on apparel, paper, canvas, and other products, which boast of designs inspired by Hindu deities such as Krishna, Rama, Lakshmi, Shiva, Durga, Saraswati, all of whom have been painted in Madhubani since ancient times. Other subjects of Madhubani paintings include peacocks, fish and human connection with nature.

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