Current Affairs Current Affairs - 3 January 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 3 January 2018

General Affairs 

Dr Ambedkar's grandson, Dalit leader Prakash, calls for Maharashtra bandh to protest Koregaon-Bhima riots
  • Yesterday's deadly violence in Pune during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the of the Koregaon-Bhima battle is slowly spiraling into a major storm with Maharashtra Dalit leader Prakash Yashwant Ambedkar calling for a state-wide shutdown tomorrow.

    Prakash, the grandson of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and a leader of the Bhartiya Republican Party - Bahujan Mahasangh, while calling for the band also alleged that the perpetrators of yesterday's violence belonged to "right-wing organisations" and had the "tactic support" of the Devendra Fadnavis state government.

    At the same time, Ambedkar said he was "appealing for peace" and promised that "tomorrow's bandh would be peaceful" even as he asserted that had he not controlled the Dalit crowd on Monday the situation would have been worse.

    The aftermath of yesterday's riots has already seen violence. Mumbai and Pune have seen protests and rallies, with some sporadic incidents of violence.

    Mumbai's Chembur and Ghatkoper suburbs have been particularly affected with demonstrators damaging shops and bring railway services to a halt.

    Today's protests come after a clash between two groups during yesterday's anniversary celebrations of the 1818 Battle of Koregaon, in which the Britishers defeated an army of Peshwas.

    A group opposed to the celebration of the anniversary clashed with Dalits marching to the Koregaon Bhima battle memorial in Pune. The clash led to the death of one man.

    Maharahstra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, urging people "not to believe in rumours", said a judicial inquiry into the man's death will be ordered. Fadnavis also asked political parties to "refrain from making any decisive statements".

    The chief minister's comments before Ambedkar issued his call for a state-wide bandh. The Mumbai Police spokesperson, reacting to the call for the state-wide bandh, said his force will be fully prepared.

    Earlier, Opposition leaders used yesterday's riots and the following protests to take aim the Fadnavis-led Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra.

    "I spoke to the locals of Vadhu village and I am told that some outsiders who belonged to right-wing organisations provoked the violence", Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar claimed.

    The Congress too made similar allegations. "The attack was completely pre-meditated. Some people from RSS were campaigning in the area for some time and were trying to instigate people on the backdrop of recent tensions," Raju Waghmare, spokesperson of the Maharashtra Congress, said.

AAP's Kumar Vishwas can demolish BJP's fake nationalism in Rajya Sabha, says Hardik Patel
  • The Aam Aadmi Party is yet to announce the names of the three leaders who will represent the party in Rajya Sabha. Will Kumar Vishwas be one of them? The suspense over Kumar Vishwas is giving even outsiders the opportunity to take a swipe at the party.

    January 5 is the last date for nomination for these seats.

    Kumar Vishwas is one of the founders of the party. He is also a popular poet with quite a following. Since the Aam Aadmi Party came to power in Delhi, Kumar Vishwas has been made to look like an outsider within the party and this has not gone down well with supporters.

    Now, Hardik Patel, the young Patidar agitationist in Gujarat has tweeted wondering why AAP was unwilling to send Kumar Vishwas to Rajya Sabha. He said Kumar Vishwas could demolish the BJP's fake nationalism in parliament.

    The tweet comes after reports suggested that senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh's entry to Rajya Sabha was near-certain and the party was looking at choosing from Meera Sanyal, Naveen Gupta, Sushil Gupta and the poet Imran Pratapgarhi. AAP had also reached out to former BJP leader and now a bitter Modi critic Arun Shourie and former RBI chief Raghuram Rajan, but neither of them seem to have shown any inclination to represent the party.

    Since Kumar Vishwas's name did not figure in the names doing the rounds, his supporters have begun mobilising on social media. A faction the party has even organised protest meetings to assert their support for Kumar Vishwas.

    Party chief Arvind Kejriwal and Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, who are on vacation, are expected to announce the names after a meeting of the political affairs committee on Wednesday.

    Kumar Vishwas has been at the centre of controversies within AAP in spite of being one of its most prominent voices. Amanatullah Khan, AAP MLA from Okhla in Delhi, once launched a vicious attack on Kumar Vishwas and the MLA was suspended from the party only to come back, much to Kumar Vishwas's chagrin.

    Kumar Vishwas has repeatedly said that he was not looking for power or position. Party's bossman Arvind Kejriwal however hasn't had a smooth ties with Kumar Vishwas. Arvind Kejriwal, without having ever naming Kumar Vishwas, has said people not happy with the party's ways of functioning were welcome to leave.

CM Fadnavis on Koregaon-Bhima riot: Don't believe in rumours; orders probe
  • Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis ordered a judicial inquiry into deadly clashes that erupted during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the of the Koregaon-Bhima battle in Pune.

    One person died after a group, opposed to the celebration due to the "British victory" in the Battle of Koregaon, clashed with a rally of Dalits making its way the Koregaon Bhima battle memorial.

    CM Fadnavis said he has ordered an inquiry to find out the exact circumstances of the death and said people "should not believe in rumours".

    "Around 3 lakh people had gathered (for the Koregaon-Bhima battle anniversary celebrations). Some people tried to create a serious scene. But six companies (of security personnel) were posted. Police promptly controlled the situation and averted a major problem," Fadnavis said.

    "We have ordered a judicial probe in the incident under a sitting HC judge," the chief minister added. "Rs 10 lakh compensation for the next to kin of the deceased (has been announced)."

    "I appeal political parties to refrain from making any decisive statements," Fadnavis also said, a sly reference to Opposition parties alleging the role of 'right-wing' forces in the violence seen at Bhima Koregaon yesterday.

    Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar said he had spoken to locals who alleged that "some outsiders who belonged to right-wing organisations provoked the violence". Meanwhile, the Congress claimed the violence that took place was "completely pre-meditated."

    The violence took place during an annual trek Dalits make to mark the anniversary of the 1818 Battle of Koregaon, in which British forces defeated an army of Peshwas.

Pulwama attack: Neglience by top brass of CRPF?
  • Shocking details have emerged of not just a security lapse but negligence which led to Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists entering a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp in Lethapora, Pulwama.

    On December 31, three heavily armed JeM terrorists stormed the camp around two in the morning. Five CRPF jawans were killed while three were injured. Three terrorists were killed in the encounter.

    The Lethapora camp houses the 185 battalion. It also serves as a training centre for jawans fighting counter-insurgency.  

    A senior security force officer told India Today that the commanding officer of the battalion was told about the possibility of an attack. The input came from the Jammu & Kashmir Police.

    On Saturday (December 30) security forces in general and CRPF in particular were  warned of an  impending attack after JeM's top commander Noor Mohammed Tantray was killed by security force earlier this week. A terror module carried out a revenge attack.

    A senior source told India Today: "At one o clock in the afternoon on Saturday , Jammu & Kashmir Police shared a specific intelligence."

    "This was a tragedy simply waiting to happen. Poor security of the perimeter boundary of the camp, no night lighting and lack of buddy system in the two posts are the reasons," a CRPF officer

Triple Talaq Bill: Congress undecided, BJP upbeat ahead of Rajya Sabha vote
  • Amid the uncertainty over the ruling BJP tabling the contentious Triple Talaq Bill in the Rajya Sabha, the Congress remains undecided on its stand, forcing a senior Union minister to mock the party for being "confused".

    The Congress today said it would consult a larger opposition before finalising its stand on the contentious Bill. Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi attacked the Congress for its "confused" stand and wanted to know why it was sad while the Muslim women were happy.


    "These days a number of reforms are being brought in. The Triple Talaq Bill is one of them," Naqvi, who is the Minority Affairs Minister, told reporters in New Delhi. "The Congress takes one step forward and then 10 steps backward. The party is confused on triple talaq," he said. "The Muslim women are happy, but I don't know why the Congress is sad."

    The Minister's remarks came just before the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 was listed for consideration and passage in the Rajya Sabha, when the House meets after a three-day break. It was passed by the Lok Sabha on Thursday last week.

    The Narendra Modi government lacks a majority in the Upper House and is making all the efforts for the Bill's smooth passage by reaching out to the Opposition parties.

    According to sources in the Congress, Leader of Opposition in the Upper House Ghulam Nabi Azad has convened a meeting of the leaders of his party as well as other parties in his Parliament chamber today, before the Bill is scheduled to be taken up in Rajya Sabha.

    The sources added that while the Congress was in favour of the Bill as it proposed to ban instant triple talaq, whether it would press for sending it to the Select Committee, as has been the practice in the Rajya Sabha, would only be seen when it's taken up.

    The party might press for amendments in the bill, including a clause for maintenance to the Muslim women and making it mandatory for the man to prove that triple talaq had not been invoked, the sources said.
    In Lok Sabha last week, the Congress and some other parties had demanded that the Bill should be sent to the Standing Committee, but the government rejected their demand. The amendments to the bill moved by the opposition were also rejected.

    Senior Communist Party of India leader D Raja today said that the Left wants the Triple Talaq Bill to be referred to the Select Committee and accused the government of "bypassing the committees" on crucial bills.
    "As far as Left parties are concerned, we want this bill to be referred to the Select Committee. But the BJP-led NDA government is bypassing the committee system," Raja said. "They are saying don't send bills to the Standing Committee for closer scrutiny. When it comes to Rajya Sabha, we will demand that it should be sent to the Select Committee," he said.
    Meanwhile, Muslim women's rights group Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), which was a petitioner in the Supreme Court against instant triple talaq, has written to the members of the Upper House, stating that the Bill should prescribe 'Talaq-e-Ahsan', that involves arbitration, as the method for divorce. The women's group has also sought that the offence of giving triple talaq be made a non-cognisable and bailable crime.

Business Affairs

    Rupee touches two-and-half-year high against dollar at 63.53
    • On account of an uptick in dollar selling by exporters and banks, the Indian rupee started the second day of the year 2018 on a bullish note gaining 0.23 per cent from its Monday's trading close. The currency traded at 63.53 on Tuesday while also achieving 63.52 during the day. Interestingly, rupee gained by almost 6 per cent against dollar in 2017. The last time the domestic currency traded at 63.52 against dollar was on July 22 in 2015. The American dollar index has been sliding for the past one year owing to higher economic growth registered by major economies and their stricter monetary policies.

      Earlier on Tuesday, the domestic currency opened marginally up at 63.67 and jumped 6 paise to a fresh five-month high of 63.62 at the interbank foreign exchange market on dollar selling by exporters. The domestic currency gained by almost 19 paise against dollar on Monday. Rupee has been strengthening against the US dollar for the past few days.

      The stock markets also opened strong but lost some of the gains later. The BSE Sensex was trading up 48.77 points or 0.14 per cent at 33,861.52 after hitting a high of 33,964.14. Also, the US dollar fell against major currencies as traders booked profit after passage of US tax bill and expectations of monetary tightening by central banks supported the euro and the British pound.

      With 0.4 per cent decline from its previous close of 92.24 in the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, a score of Asian currencies gained significantly during the day. Malaysian ringgit was up 0.67%, Singapore dollar 0.59%, South Korean won 0.5%, Thai baht 0.44%, China offshore 0.42%, Taiwan dollar 0.34%, Japanese yen 0.34%, Indonesian rupiah 0.30%, China renminbi 0.20%, reported Mint.

    Bitcoin not considered legal tender in India, says Arun Jaitley
    • Reiterating the government's stand on cryptocurrencies, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said virtual currencies like bitcoin were not considered lawful or legal tender in India, and that the government would wait for an expert panel report on cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum before taking a decisive stand on the matter.

      "The government does not want to take any substantial steps before the report is filed. We will look into the report and then issue corrective measures after a thorough understanding of the situation. We will also take the global scenario into consideration. However, we have clearly stated that dealing with virtual currrencies is at one's own risk," Jaitley said in Rajya Sabha today.

      A committee under the Secretary, Economic Affairs Department is examining all aspects of virtual currencies and deciding specific actions accordingly. Instead of taking any knee-jerk action, let's wait for the report of this committee, Jaitley said.

      On the other hand, the Finance Minister once again stated that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are not considered legal tender in India. "Since December 24, 2013, the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have maintained the same stand on bitcoins and other forms of virtual currencies. Through multiple notifications, the two parties have notified the public time and again that bitcoins will not be considered lawful or legal tender in India," he said.

      Jaitley also added that the government has no way to stop terrorists and other criminal outfits from using cryptocurrencies. "One of the features of cryptocurrency is that there is lack of dependence on the state. It functions with a degree of anonymity. It operates within a virtual community which is created and enjoys the trust of that virtual community," he said.

      On the question of what the government has done to protect the interest of citizens, Jaitley said that 11 cryptocurrency exchanges have been identified in India. "Bitcoins are not restricted to India; it is a problem world over. There are 785 VCs in operation worldwide presently. Cryptocurrency lacks dependence and function with anonymity within a virtual community. All operations are online. We have identified 11 exchanges dealing with virtual currencies in India," the Finance Minister said.

    Government notifies electoral bonds for political donations
    • In a bid to curb influence of illicit cash in Indian political system, the Finance Ministry today notified the contours of new electoral bonds. Announced during the last Budget session, these bonds will now be the only way to make donations to political parties.

      Donors will be able to purchase these bonds through specified branches of the State Bank of India. The bonds will be available for purchase for a period of 10 days in the months of January, April, July, and October. This period will be extended to 30 days in the year general elections are to be held.

      On the notification of electoral bonds, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that only a citizen of India or a body incorporated in India will be eligible to purchase the bond. Although no limit has been imposed on the value of bonds that can be bought, donors will have to purchase them in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,0000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh or Rs 1 crore, he said in statement in the Lok Sabha.

      Although called a bond, they will be interest-free debt instruments that resemble promissory notes where the SBI will be the custodian of the donor's funds until the political parties are paid.

      The electoral bonds will have to be encashed within 15 days or their issuance through a designated bank account of the receiver. Also, The donations through electoral bonds could only go to registered political parties.

      Jaitley also clarified that the name of the payee will not appear on the bearer instrument, the amount being paid has to be declared though. The donors will have to make KYC disclosures to SBI.

       During the last Budget session, Jaitley had announced electoral bonds, along with a ban on cash donations above Rs 2,000 to political parties. These steps were intended to clean  the political funding in the country.

      In this announcement last year in February, the Finance Minister had announced that political donors could purhcase these electoral bonds againsyt cheque or digital payments. Passing political funding through the banking system is meant to help make it tracebale.

    Financial inclusion: Long road still ahead in 2018
    • With an aim to take the agenda of financial inclusion further, 2017 saw two categories of small and nimble institutions, allowed by the Reserve Bank of India, take shape in the country.

      Designed to offer financial services to the underserved, the year saw small finance banks (SFBs) and payments banks begin and building on their operations. It's still early days to assess the impact of these entities on financial inclusion. But mainstream banks also took steps at expanding their footprint in the financial inclusion space.

      For instance, with IDFC Bank acquiring Trichy-based Grama Vidyal Microfinance, Kotak Mahindra Bank acquiring BSS Microfinance, DCB Bank acquiring stake in Annapurna Microfinance and IndusInd in Bharat Financial Inclusion.

      Even as there was action on these fronts, the year saw many from the rural households still coping with the challenges in the form of after effects of demonetisation and remonetisation of some of the high value currency notes, announced in the country on November 8, 2016.  

      Consider this: Vijayalakshmi Das, CEO of the Friends of Women's World Banking (FWWB), India, and a veteran in the micro-lending space from India, says: "It will take another year or so for women borrowers in rural India to fully recover from the impact of demonetisation because all the business activities they were involved in were in cash whether it was buying raw material or stocks or purchasing vegetables."

       She should know considering that FWWB, India, she says, today deals with 6 lakh to 10 lakh rural families across the country. Those within the micro-lending world, see this also getting reflected in the rise in NPAs (non performing assets) in the microfinance institutions. Typically, as against less than 1 per cent earlier, it has been around 15 per cent for some though the numbers vary depending on each institution.

      M. S. Sriram, visiting faculty at the IIM Bangalore and member of the external advisory committee that the RBI that had processed the applications for small finance banks, feels while take off of the SFBs was a major step forward in the financial inclusion space, it depends on how they and the payments banks build traction, especially in the rural hinterlands.

      The professor who has just published a book : "Talking Financial Inclusion in liberalised India - conversations with the Reserve Bank of India governors (six of them - five retired and one current governor - Urjit Patel", feels the new year may see much more consolidation and he does not see new start ups coming up immediately.

      May be overtime, he feels it may be that some of the new banks that have got created will "move upwards and become bankers to the missing middle - which the MSME sector - and in turn create space for new entrants but that again may not happen immediately and may take another year to two more."

    Sensex, Nifty close flat in rangebound trade; Bharti Airtel, SBI, Maruti top losers
    • The Sensex closed flat in a session marked by range bound trade. The Nifty closed 6 points higher at 10,442 level.

      The Sensex opened 121 points higher but failed to hold on to gains and traded within a range of 33,703 to 33,964 . It closed at 33,812, a fall of 0.49 points.

      Top Sensex gainers were Tata Motors (3.16%), ONGC (2.36%) and Coal India (1.46%).

      Bharti Airtel (2.24%), SBI (1.35%) and Maruti Suzuki (1.24%) were the top losers on the Sensex.

      Market breadth was negative with 1152 stocks closing higher against 1689 falling on the BSE.

      The Reliance Naval and Engineering stock rose to its fresh 52 week high in early trade, extending gains from Monday's trade. The stock hit 72.60 level within minutes of the market opening, its yearly high on the second trading day of the new year. The stock closed 8.44 percent or 5.5 points lower at 59.65 level.

      The TVS Motor stock hit a fresh 52-week high on Tuesday after the two and three-wheeler maker reported a healthy 39% growth in December sales. The sales of Chennai-based auto firm rose to 2,56,909 units from 184,944 units in December 2016. Earlier, the stock hit a 52 week high of 794.90 level on BSE. It closed 1.21% or 9.25 points higher at 775 level on BSE.

    General Awareness

    Arunachal declared open defecation-free State
    • Arunachal Pradesh has emerged as the second State in the Northeast, after Sikkim, to be declared Open Defecation Free. Arunachal has 21 districts and the State attained the feat much before the national deadline of October 2, 2019.


      Arunachal Pradesh has managed to do this before the deadline of October 2, 2019. The state government had cut short the national ODF target by one year and ten months ahead of the national target and set 31 December, 2017, as the final target to achieve ODF status in Arunachal Pradesh.

      About SBM:

      Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) aims to eliminate open defecation by 2019. The goal also includes conversion of insanitary toilets to pour flush toilets, eradicating of manual scavenging and Municipal Solid Waste Management (MSWM).

      Significance of the mission:

      Poor sanitation spreads infectious diseases that kill hundreds of thousands of children each year, and stunt the physical and cognitive development of those who survive. Announcing a goal of accelerating the reduction in open defecation was a great idea, articulating a worthy goal for serious public policy efforts.

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