Current Affairs Current Affairs - 12 February 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 12 February 2018

General Affairs 

Over 120 Recommendations For High Court Posts Pending With Centre, Top Court: Sources
  • Over 120 recommendations by 13 high courts for appointment of judges are pending with the government and the Supreme Court collegium, awaiting a final decision at a time when 403 posts out of a total sanctioned strength of 1,079 are vacant in various high courts.

    On the flip side, the figures also indicate that the high courts are yet to recommend suitable names for 280 vacancies.

    Highly-placed sources in the government said that as on February 1, as many as 123 recommendations made by collegiums of 13 high courts were pending with the government as well as the Supreme Court collegium.

    While 43 names are pending with the Supreme Court collegium, 80 names are with the government.

    The sources pointed out that the figures also indicate that the high court collegiums have not recommended names to fill up the remaining 280 vacancies.

    As per the latest law ministry data, as on February 1, the Allahabad high court has a maximum of 56 vacancies, followed by 39 in Calcutta, 38 in Karnataka, 35 in Punjab and Haryana High Court and 30 in Andhra Pradesh/Telangana High Court.

    The high court collegiums first send the names to the law ministry, which after getting inputs from the intelligence bureau sends the files to the SC collegium.

    According to the procedure for the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court, and the 24 high courts, the top court collegium recommends the names of candidates to the government which, in turn, either accepts the proposal or returns it for reconsideration.

India's Ties With UAE Much More Than That Of Buyer-Seller: PM Modi
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said India's relations with the UAE was much more than that of a buyer and a seller as he hailed the country's growing ties with the Gulf countries as "deep, broad and vibrant."

    Addressing the members of the Indian community at the Dubai Opera on the second day of his two-day visit to the UAE, PM Modi said his government was trying to bring India to a global benchmark.

    "Today, be it the UAE or other Gulf nations, our relation with them is not just that of a buyer and a seller. It has become much more," PM Modi said.

    The Prime Minister assured the Indian community that his government will work to bring to reality their dreams.

    "India's leap in World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Rankings from 142 to 100 is unprecedented. But we are not satisfied at this, we want to do better. We will do whatever it takes to make it possible," he told the gathering.

    PM Modi hailed his government's decisions like demonetisation and implementation of Goods and Services Tax.

    "GST had been languishing for seven years, but now it is a reality," he said in his nearly 20-minute speech.

    Taking a dig at his detractors, PM Modi said even the poor people agree with the fact that demonetisation was a right move. But some people lost their sleep and they are still mourning, he added.

    PM Modi also thanked the UAE which provided almost 30 lakh people from India a home like environment, away from home.

    Earlier, Indian High School student and Guinness Record Holder Sucheta, who has the unique ability to sing in 107 languages, performed a medley of regional Indian language songs ahead of PM Modi's arrival at the Dubai Opera.

Students Willing To Study MBBS Abroad May Have To Clear NEET
  • Students willing to study MBBS in foreign universities may soon have to clear the NEET as the government plans to make the test mandatory for them so that only competent students make the cut.

    Currently, students who wish to study medicine in any government or private medical college in the country have to clear the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) which came into existence from 2016.

    According to a senior health ministry official, the proposal is at an advanced stage.

    The official said that among those who go abroad to study medicine, around 12 to 15 per cent of the graduates manage to clear the Foreign Medical Graduates Examination (FMGE), a licensure examination conducted by the Medical Council of India.

    "A mere 12 to 15 per cent of the graduates, who come back after studying abroad, manage to clear the Foreign Medical Graduates Examination (FMGE). If they don't clear the FMGE, they don't get registered to practice in India.

    "In such cases, they start quackery or practice illegally which can be dangerous. So the move is aimed at ensuring only competent students get to study medicine in foreign universities," the official said.

    At present, a student who wishes to take up a medical course has to obtain an essentiality certificate from the MCI for admission in any medical college outside India.

    Every year, around 7,000 students go outside India to study medicine. Most of the students go to China and Russia.

    "As per the data, the percentage of graduates who have studied abroad and have cleared the FMGE has ranged between 13 and 26.9 per cent in the last five years. This is really a matter of concern as they go out, spend lot of money of their parents and are not able to contribute to the healthcare in India once they come back," the official explained.

    Once the new proposal is approved, those aspiring to study medicine outside India will be given a No Objection Certificate (NOC) only if they clear NEET, the official said.

    There were some complaints that the FMGE paper was very tough because of which those who come back from abroad are unable to clear it. But a committee constituted to review the FMGE syllabus found it to be perfectly suitable and relevant.

2 Lakh Foreigners Availed Healthcare Facilities In India In 2016
  • More than 2 lakh foreigners, including 1,678 Pakistanis and 296 Americans, availed healthcare facilities in India in 2016, signalling the country's growing reputation as a popular medical destination.

    According to home ministry statistics, as many as 2,01,099 medical visas were issued to citizens of 54 countries across the globe in 2016.

    India had liberalised its visa policy in 2014.

    A survey conducted by a business chamber stated that the primary reason for making India a key destination for medical value travel was the treatment from accredited facilities at par with developed countries at a much lower cost.

    Medical tourism in India is estimated at $3 billion and projected to grow to $7-8 billion by 2020, the survey said.

    The highest number of medical visas in 2016 were issued to Bangladeshi nationals (99,799 citizens), followed by Afghanistan (33,955 citizens), Iraq (13,465), Oman (12,227), Uzbekistan (4,420), Nigeria (4,359) among others, according to Home Ministry statistics.

    Altogether 1,678 Pakistanis, 296 citizens from the United States, 370 from the United Kingdom, 96 from Russia and 75 from Australia were also issued medical visas.

    A home ministry official told PTI that many of these medical visas were issued under the E-visa category where a visitor can get the travel document online prior to the arrival in India.

    Tourist visa on arrival (TVoA), enabled by Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), popularly known as e-tourist visa scheme, was launched on November 27, 2014.

    Under the e-tourist visa scheme, an applicant receives an email authorising him or her to travel to India after it is approved and he or she can travel with a print-out of this authorisation.

    On arrival, the visitor has to present the authorisation to the immigration authorities who would then stamp the entry into the country.

    Currently citizens of more than 160 countries enjoy the e-visa facilities to visit India.

    Foreign patients travelling to India to seek medical treatment in 2012, 2013 and 2014 stands at 1,71,021, 2,36,898, and 1,84,298 respectively.

    In 2015, around 1.90 lakh foreigners availed the medical facilities in India.

"160 Nations Improved Infrastructure With Indian Technology": PM Modi In Dubai
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said technology, changing at the speed of thought, will ultimately have the answers to some of the global challenges and it was the duty of governments to use it for development and not destruction. Delivering the keynote address at the World Government Summit in Dubai, PM Modi also spoke of the technological edge of India and how he personally monitors the projects.

    Indian technology, he said in the talk themed "Technology and Governance" is also greatly helping out other nations. "With the help of Indian technical and economic cooperation, 160 nations have improved their infrastructure. Africa has improved tele-medicine and education facilities with India's help," he said.

    In India, the government departments are mapping their resources using satellite imagery, he said. With this, projects stuck for even 40 years have started moving. "Files stuck due to bureaucracy have started moving, because of real-time monitoring which technology has made possible," he said.

    In this context, he also named Aadhaar, India's 12-digit Unique Identification project, saying it led to the plugging of leakages to the tune of $8 billion.

    He also named the big spinoff of demonitisation -- a fresh focus on cashless transactions that was expected to weed out corruption and black money. Since November 2016, when demonitisation was announced, a "digital payment revolution has been happening in India," the Prime Minister said. With the Start-up India programme, India has become a start-up nation, creating an innovation ecosystem.

    The Prime Minister - who is on the third leg of his three-nation tour in the Arab world - said the city of Dubai was the great "driver of technology". "A person can be awed by hearing the technological advances in Dubai, but seeing it for real is a great experience... It has converted a desert into an ocean, a miracle feat," he said.

    Underscoring the importance of harnessing technology in the right direction, he said in the "new world, we are interconnected, we are interlinked, we are living interdependent lives. In the times to come, we will together face global challenges. And in this, technology will be a big help," he said.

Business Affairs

PM Narendra Modi meets UAE PM, discusses bilateral ties
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi today met UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and discussed ways to expand bilateral cooperation in trade, defence and people-to-people contacts.

    Modi also met business leaders from Gulf Cooperation Council countries and shared his vision of "new India" with them.

    "Strengthening our comprehensive strategic partnership! Prime Minister Modi met with Vice President and PM of UAE Sheikh Mohammed in Dubai," Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

    The two leaders had an engaging discussion on expanding cooperation in trade and investment, defence and security and people-to-people contacts, Kumar said.

    Modi also met Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Sapar Isakov on the sidelines of the World Government Summit in Dubai.

    Yesterday, Modi arrived in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, and held wide-ranging talks with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as the two sides signed five agreements, including a historic pact awarding a consortium of Indian oil companies a 10 per cent stake in offshore oil concession.

    "Taking India story to the business leaders! Prime Minister Modi painted the vision of a new India and shared the ease of doing business in India with the business leaders from Gulf Cooperation Council countries," Kumar said in another tweet.

    "He spoke at length about the economic opportunities in India and the series of reforms undertaken in the last 3.5 years," the Prime Minister Office said in tweet.

    Modi, earlier, launched a project for the construction of the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi, describing the holy place as a "catalytic agent" of humanity and harmony that will become a medium of Indias identity.

    He laid the foundation stone for the BAPS Swaminarayan temple via video conferencing from the Dubai Opera House, where he addressed the members of the Indian community.

    Modi is visiting the United Arab Emirates for the second time after his 2015 trip to the Gulf country.

SBI wrote off bad loans worth over Rs 20,000 crore last fiscal
  • The country's largest lender SBI wrote off bad loans worth Rs 20,339 crore in 2016-17, the highest among all the public sector banks, which had a collective write off of Rs 81,683 crore for the fiscal.

    The data pertains to the period when the associate banks of State Bank of India (SBI) were not merged with it.

    Public sector banks' (PSBs) write-off stood at Rs 27,231 crore in 2012-13, government data showed.

    The figure has jumped nearly three-fold in five years.

    In 2013-14, the state-owned banks wrote off bad loans worth Rs 34,409 crore; Rs 49,018 crore in 2014-15; Rs 57,585 crore in 2015-16 and hitting Rs 81,683 in the fiscal ended March 2017.

    Besides SBI, Punjab National Bank had a write-off of Rs 9,205 crore in 2016-17, followed by Bank of India (Rs 7,346 crore), Canara Bank (Rs 5,545 crore) and Bank of Baroda (Rs 4,348 crore).

    In the current financial year, PSBs have written off loans worth Rs 53,625 crore in the six months to September.

    As per data from the Reserve Bank, nine public sector banks, out of the total 21, had gross non-performing asset ratio of above 15 per cent (the percentage of bad loans in terms of total loans outstanding) as of September 30, 2017.

    Fourteen PSBs have gross non-performing asset ratio of over 12 per cent.

    PSBs are faced with mounting non-performing assets (NPAs) or bad loans, putting the financial sector under stress. The government has unveiled a Rs 2.11 lakh crore capital infusion plan for the PSBs, including via bonds, in the next two years.

ONGC, partners acquire 10% stake in Abu Dhabi oilfield for $600 million
  • ONGC Videsh Ltd and its partners have acquired a 10 per cent in a large offshore oilfield in Abu Dhabi for $600 million, the first time any Indian company has set foot in oil-rich Emirates.

    OVL, the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), Indian Oil Corp (IOC) and a unit of Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL), paid a signing amount of $600 million for a 10 per cent stake in Abu Dhabi National Oil Co's (ADNOC) 40-year Lower Zakum Concession, Offshore Abu Dhabi.

    "The current production of this field is about 400,000 barrels of oil per day (20 million tonnes per annum) and Indian consortium's annual share shall be about 2 million tonnes," OVL said in a press statement.

    The field is to achieve plateau target of 450,000 barrels of oil per day by 2025.

    The contract for the concession was signed in Abu Dhabi last evening in presence of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    This is the first time that Indian oil companies have taken part in an Abu Dhabi oil and gas concession.

    The concession, which has a term of 40 years with an effective date of March 9, 2018, was signed by ONGC Group Chairman Shashi Shanker and ADNOC Group Chief Executive Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber.

    "ADNOC is finalising the potential partners for the remaining 30 per cent of the available 40 per cent stake in the Lower Zakum Concession earmarked for international oil and gas companies," the statement said.

    The deal "will help India meet its growing demand for energy and refined products, create opportunities for ADNOC to increase its market share in a key growth market, and build a solid foundation as ADNOC explores potential international investments, particularly focused on downstream opportunities," Sultan al-Jaber said.

    Shanker hoped that the historic agreement will lead to further opportunities for Indian oil and gas companies to participate in the UAE's energy sector.

    "The agreement reflects the vision of the Prime Minister of India towards strengthening hydrocarbon linkages with the UAE on a win-win basis," he said.

    ADNOC chief executive said the pact supports company's strategy to maximise economic value and recovery from its offshore oil and gas resources. "This is an attractive and strategic agreement for both parties that will deliver competitive returns and long term growth opportunities."

    ADNOC had in August last year said that it would split its ADMA-OPCO offshore concession into three areas - Lower Zakum, Umm Shaif and Nasr, and Sateh Al Razboot and Umm Lulu - with new terms to unlock greater value and increase opportunities for partnerships.

    "The present transaction marks entry of OVL in highly prospective UAE region and is consistent with its stated strategic objective of adding high quality producing assets to its existing oil and gas exploration and production portfolio," the statement said.

    OVL is India's largest international oil and gas company, having 39 projects in 18 countries, including Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Mozambique, Myanmar, Russia, South Sudan, Sudan, Namibia, Venezuela, Vietnam and New Zealand.

    It currently produces about 277,000 barrels of oil and oil equivalent gas per day and has total oil and gas reserves (2P) of about 704 million tonnes of oil equivalent as on April 1, 2017.

    ADNOC will have 60 per cent stake in the existing ADMA-OPCO concession, which produces around 700,000 barrels per day of oil and is projected to reach about 1 million barrels per day 2021.

    Existing shareholders in ADMA-OPCO are BP plc with 14.67 per cent, Total SA with 13.33 per cent and Japan Oil Development Co with 12 per cent.

Mid-air collision averted, Vistara flight comes close to Air India plane
  • A mid-air disaster was averted in the Mumbai air space when a Vistara aircraft came perilously close to an Air India plane, prompting the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) to launch a probe. On February 7, the Vistara's UK 997 Pune-bound aircraft from Delhi, carrying 152 passengers, was just 100 feet away from the Air India's AI 631 flight for Bhopal which had 109 passengers on board.

    The AI flight captain has written in her resolution advisory report that the aircraft was just 100 feet away when it was taken to a safer distance. The collision was averted after an automatic warning alerted the pilots of the two planes of being in close proximity to each other, an official said. The commander of the Air India flight acted swiftly on the instrument warning and steered the aircraft to a safer distance, a senior official of the airline said.

    The two pilots of the Vistara flight have been grounded, pending investigation, while the Air India pilots have been cleared for flying by the AAIB for not being at fault, the official added. Vistara confirmed the incident and said both its pilots have been taken off flying duty, pending investigation. "In this particular incident, the resolution advisory (by the Traffic Collision Avoidance System or TCAS) got triggered due to conflicting traffic. Our pilot followed the standard operating procedure to avoid it and carried out an uneventful landing. The matter is under investigation by the relevant authority," a spokesperson of the Vistara said.

    TCAS is an on-board equipment that advises pilots regarding the traffic in the proximity of the aircraft and also prescribes what action a pilot can take to maintain the desired separation between the aircraft. "The Air India aircraft was going as per the ATC instructions. There was no confusion. But it seems that something had gone wrong between the Vistara pilot and the ATC as the Vistara aircraft kept descending while the ATC was giving different instructions. There was some kind of an argument between them," the Air India official said.

    "The Vistara aircraft continued descending. So, finally, when our pilot saw the warning (the Vistara aircraft breaching the mandatory separation) on board, she just took the corrective action and turned the aircraft from the collision point," the airline said. The Air India pilot's action was perfect as she followed the resolution advisory and steered the aircraft to a safer distance, it added. "The AAIB has cleared our pilot for flying," the Air India official said, while lauding her timely action. "It was a close shave," he said.

Stempeutics ink outlicensing deal with Alkem for osteoarthritis drug
  • Banglaore-based Stempeutics Research, a group company of Manipal Education and Medical Group (MEMG), has signed an out-licensing deal with Alkem Laboratories, Mumbai for a potential osteoarthritis knee therapy Stempeucel.

    The product, which will undergo Phase 3 clinical trials in India soon is expected to be made available in the market by 2020. The out licensing deal comprises of upfront payment, royalties and various regulatory and sales based milestones payments. Alkem will get the exclusive marketing rights for Stempeucel in India for Osteoarthritis, once the approval process is over.

    "We are pleased to be associated with Stempeutics and the Manipal Group in bringing the next generation of biologics to address unmet medical needs in India. Stempeucel offers a novel treatment approach to the physicians in India to treat Osteoarthritis and will substantially improve the quality of life of millions of patients suffering from this painful disease", Sandeep Singh, MD, Alkem said.

    Osteoarthritis is a common and debilitating chronic degenerative disease of large joints, especially the hip and knee, characterized by a loss of articular cartilage, subchondral sclerosis, and marginal osteophyte formation. Worldwide, approximately 9.6% of men and 18% of women aged ?60 years have symptomatic osteoarthritis.

    Stempeutics has successfully completed a Phase 2 clinical trial in India and the outcomes have been published in the peer-reviewed indexed journal Arthritis Research & Therapy, UK. The Phase 2 trial data showed that a single intra articular injection of Stempeucel with 25 million cell dose was well tolerated and had positive effects on long term pain reduction and overall improvement in WOMAC scores which measures Pain, Stiffness and Physical Function of the patient, the company claimed.

    According to BN Manohar, CEO of Stempeutics, Stempeucel drug has a potential to address the root cause of the disease. "In Phase III trial we are going to administer Stempeucel using ultrasound guidance and use new MRI techniques called T2 mapping to assess the quality of articular cartilage and also to assess the quantitative analyses of articular cartilage. We are extremely happy to collaborate with Alkem in developing Stempeucel for OA treatment", he said.

    Allogeneic Stem Cell therapy currently dominates the Global Stem Cells Market with a share of almost 63% compared to the autologous market (37%). The potential for stem cell therapy market in India is about $ 540 million and expected to grow rapidly, states the company.

General Awareness

Role of women and women’s organization.

  • ontext: So far, 107 complaints have been received through portal ‘SHe-box’. The government has all concerned authorities to take appropriate actions.

    About SHe-box:

    What is it? It is an online complaint management system for registering complaints related to sexual harassment at workplace. It was launched by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The complaint management system has been developed to ensure the effective implementation of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act (the SH Act), 2013.

    Once a complaint is submitted to the portal, it will be directly sent to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of the concerned Ministry/Department/PSU/Autonomous Body etc. having jurisdiction to inquire into the complaint. Through this portal, WCD as well as complainant can monitor the progress of inquiry conducted by the ICC.

    Significance of the portal:

    This portal is an initiative to provide a platform to women working or visiting any office of Central Government (Central Ministries, Departments, Public Sector Undertakings, Autonomous Bodies and Institutions etc.) to file complaints related to sexual harassment at workplace under the SH Act. Those who had already filed a written complaint with the concerned Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) constituted under the SH Act are also eligible to file their complaint through this portal. It is also an effort to provide speedier remedy to women facing sexual harassment at workplace as envisaged under the SH Act.

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