Current Affairs Current Affairs - 17 February 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 17 February 2018

General Affairs 

In order to focus better, de-focus first, PM Modi quotes Vivekananda at Delhi school's Town Hall session
  • Posing as a friend whom students can turn to before exams and a grandparent-figure, who can ask parents to stop scolding their children for not performing well, Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with nearly 2,300 school and college students in Delhi on Friday.

    The Prime Minister began his conversation on a light note by asking students if they were tense. He spoke to them at length about the miraculous effects of self-confidence.

    Beginning his Town Hall session, Modi asked students to focus on the present. I remember when cricketer Sachin Tendulkar explained me his strategy. Tendulkar told me that he only focused on the ball that he was playing at that moment, and did not worry about the past or future, Modi said.

    In order to focus better, the PM also asked students to de-focus first. Can you fill a glass with milk that is already full? No. You have to first empty the glass so that you can add more. This is also applicable to your mind, he said.

    When another student, Girish, asked Modi how was he preparing for his exams the General Elections next year he paused for a second and replied, "If I were your guru, I would have asked you to become a journalist because only journalists ask complex questions."

    In his message to parents he said, I urge parents to not make the achievements of their child a matter of social prestige. If you didnt become a doctor, you do not have to make your child a doctor. Every child is blessed with unique talents. Let your child discover his or her potential.

    Answering a question on peer pressure and competition among friends from Neha Sharma, a student from Kerala, he said, A student should follow the rule of war where one has to play in their own field. Students should not give into the competition among his or her friends. A child is born with his or her own potential, capabilities and independent strength. You should determine your strength and excel in that field.

    He quoted Swami Vivekananda to invoke the importance of self-confidence, to deal with examination stress and anxiety. He gave the example of the Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris, who won a bronze medal in the ongoing Winter Olympic Games, just 11 months after suffering a life-threatening injury.

Supreme Court cracks whip on 'rich' MPs, MLAs, orders constant monitoring of assets
  • The Supreme Court was shocked at the quantum jump of assets of some MPs/MLAs, their kin and associates, by more than 500 per cent between two elections, and has ordered a crackdown.

    It said such accretion of wealth was a sure indicator of rampant corruption and beginning of a failing democracy.

    A bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar, in a bid to keep a strict tab on disproportionate income of politicians, on Friday directed that not just the candidate, but even the spouse and dependents should henceforth divulge their assets and source of income while filing nomination for contesting polls.

    The judges said such information would be relevant and necessary for a voter to make an appropriate choice at the time of the elections.

    "Sudden accretion of wealth and assets of a legislator, and his, associates is certainly a matter which should alarm the citizens and voters of any truly democratic society. Such phenomenon is a sure indicator of the beginning of a failing democracy. If left unattended, it would inevitably lead to the destruction of democracy and pave the way for the rule of mafia," said the bench.

    "Democracies with higher levels of energy have already taken note of the problem and addressed it. Unfortunately, in our country, neither the Parliament nor the Election Commission of India paid any attention to the problem so far," it said while delivering judgment in a PIL filed by NGO Lok Prahari which sought effective measures to prevent politicians from amassing disproportionate assets.

    It is to be noted that the bench had, during the hearing, directed the Central Board of Direct Taxes to file an affidavit as to what action had been taken against the lawmakers whose assets jumped by over 500 per cent after being elected and were suspected of amassing disproportionate wealth.

    The CBDT said it was probing allegations against seven MPs and 98 MLAs, and a preliminary assessment of a 42 MLAs was underway.

    Initially, 26 Lok Sabha MPs, 11 Rajya Sabha MPs and 257 MLAs whose names were handed over by Lok Prahari were probed.

    The SC also called for a mechanism to periodically collect data of legislators and associates, examine in every case if there is disproportionate increase in assets and recommend action.

    It said the rules declaring that undue accretion of assets would render a legislator "disqualified".

    Further, it would be equally competent for the government of India to establish a permanent mechanism for monitoring the financial affairs of the legislators and their associates for periodically ascertaining the relevant facts.

    "Because the establishment of such a permanent mechanism would be a necessary incident of the authority to declare a legislator "disqualified", it said.

India’s longest container terminal ready, PM Modi to inaugurate it on February 18
  • As Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to inaugurate the longest container terminal in the country at Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNP) on February 18, India is all set to take a giant step forward in terms of enhancing its containers handling capacity.

    The first phase of terminal four is complete and this will add a capacity of 24 lakh containers per year, the most for any government-run Indian port.

    Modi's inauguration of the first phase of container terminal four comes almost two and half years after he laid its foundation stone in October 2015. The one km long terminal will be able to dock mother vessels and handle the biggest container ships. It can handle three container ships at one go.

    The first phase of terminal four is complete. (Photo: Mandar Deodhar)
    "This terminal is a key enabler for value added services," said Gopal Krishna, secretary of the Shipping Ministry. "JNP was developed as a satellite port for Mumbai Port. Now, there is time to think of a satellite port for JNP."

    Container terminal four has been developed on a design-build-fund-operate-transfer basis by Bharat Mumbai Container Terminals Private Limited (BMCT), a subsidiary company of the Port of Singapore Authority (SPA).

    With an investment of Rs 7,915 crore, it is also the largest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India's port sector. JNP will get 35 per cent of the revenue earned by BMCT for 30 years. The first phase has been completed with an expenditure of Rs 4,719 crore.

    The picture is not all rosy though. With the completion of terminal four in 2022, JNP will take its container handling capacity to 10 million TEUs - the highest in India. However, it will be still inadequate in comparison to China, which has 20 ports with a handling capacity of 10 million TEUs.

    "JNP is a gateway port. It can't be compared with China's open ports," argued Unnikrishnan Nair, head of operations at JNP. He said that JNP is deepening its channel that will help the freight cost go down.

    He also claimed that the efficiency of JNP has gone up after digitisation. "Each vessel that reaches the port has a fixed time. It needs a huge amount of coordination to put the containers on board. The paperless work has helped us in a big way to achieve this," Nair said.

    Krishna admitted that developing new ports is no easy task. When asked about the progress of the deep drafted multi cargo port at Wadhvan - 70 km north to JNP - he said opposition from the locals is one of the reasons for the delay in developing the port.

    "The local's opposition has to be properly managed through proper rehabilitation schemes. The DPR (Development Progress Report) work of this project is going on," he said denying speculation that the project has been put on backburner.

    "Port development will require heavy investment. We won't shy away from it," he said.

On PM Trudeau's visit, India likely to raise issue of growing Sikh radicalism in Canada
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will embark upon his first visit to India from February 17 to 25. This is the first time that Trudeau will travel with his entire family, his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and three kids aged 3, 9 and 11.

    During his seven-day sojourn, the Canadian Prime Minister will visit Mumbai, Delhi, Amritsar, Ahmedabad and Agra. Canadian diplomatic sources have confirmed that he "will begin his programme upon arrival in India on February 18, with a visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra."

    This visit is being seen as an "opportunity" to promote "Canada-India cooperation" on a range of issues. According to the diplomat, "He will highlight Canada's support for a strong, united, diverse India and to further strengthen the vibrant, strategic partnership, including increasing commercial and investment opportunities, between both countries."

    Ahead of his visit, the National Security Advisor of Canada was in India last week and held a day-long meeting with his counterpart NSA Ajit Doval to chart out details of the visit with regards to defence, counter-terrorism, trade and investment.

    When the question of India's concerns regarding the rise of Sikh radicalism and Khalistani movement came up for discussion between the NSAs or if it is likely to be discussed during the bilateral meeting, the source refused to discuss these specific issues but added, "any issue and concern on security front would be on the table and we will cooperate in all such investigations."

    Top security officials from India and Canada have held a series of meetings apart from the NSA meet ahead of the visit to discuss concerns about a spike in the activities of Sikh radicals in Canada which is likely to be part of discussions on Friday.

    The focus of the visit is to enhance trade and investment cooperation between the two sides in addition to engaging on the increase in security and defence cooperation.

    The Prime Minister is being accompanied by a delegation of ministers: Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development; Bardish Chagger, the Minister of Small Business and Tourism; Kirsty Duncan, the Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities; Harjit Singh Sajjan, Minister of National Defence; and Amarjeet Sohi, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

    There are Canadian Parliamentarians also travelling on their own to India and will join in on certain portions of the PM's programme.

    During all his people-connect programmes, Trudeau will speak on "pluralism" and "tolerance" as well as visit three important places of worship.

    February 18: PM Trudeau will begin his programme with a visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra.

    February 19: Will travel to Ahmedabad to visit Sabarmati Ashram. The Prime Minister will take part in a discussion titled "Education and Investment Opportunities" with students from IIM and neighbouring colleges at the Indian Institute of Management.

    February 20: In Mumbai, the PM will hold bilateral meetings with business leaders and participate in a "women business leaders' roundtable," followed by a discussion at the Canada-India Business Forum. He will also attend an event with members of the Indian film industry.

    February 21: the PM will depart from Mumbai for Amritsar where he will visit the Golden Temple following which he will return to New Delhi.
    February 22: Trudeau will visit the Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India, as well as a cricket pitch. The Prime Minister will later deliver a key note address at the Canada-India Business Summit.

    February 23: The Prime Minister will head to the Rashtrapati Bhawan for an official welcome ceremony followed by a wreath laying ceremony at Rajghat (Gandhi memorial). He will meet with President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Modi as well as other high-level Indian officials. Trudeau and Modi will deliver joint statements. Later in the day, Trudeau will participate in a roundtable with chief executive officers from Canadian and Indian companies.

    February 24: On his last day, Prime Minister Trudeau will deliver the keynote address at the 2018 Young Changemakers Conclave conference. This conference features TED-talk style discussions by young leaders in business, civil society, the film industry and sports. The Prime Minister will conclude his visit to India and return to Canada.

    He will visit Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar; Jama Masjid mosque in Delhi and the Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib) in Amritsar.

    "Canada and India have long-standing bilateral relations built on shared traditions of democracy and pluralism, and on strong people-to-people and cultural ties," the diplomat said.

    On the trade and investment front, Canada wants India to de-link conclusion of Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) from the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

    Canada wants an early conclusion to negotiations on FIPA, although India Today has learnt that the agreement will not come through during this visit. Negotiations are underway.

    According to Canadian sources, the Indian side has indicated that the FIPA pact should be concluded simultaneously with CEPA. But Canada insists on FIPA which would "stimulate" investments into India.

    Canadian investments in India increased between 15 and 16 billion USD in recent years, which include pension fund companies. Investments could "slow down" in the absence of a FIPA, according to Canadian sources.

    "The opportunities can increase if a FIPA is in place because risk premiums can be adjusted to reflect that agreement," a source said.

    The sources added that the FIPA and CEPA would be "on the radar" during Trudeau's visit.

    In 2017, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and India amounted to $8.4 billion. That same year, India was Canada's eighth largest destination for merchandise exports.

Unpublished data shows India's fraud problems extend far beyond PNB: Report
  • Investors may have been shocked when one of India's biggest banks disclosed a $1.77 billion fraud by billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi, but the central bank has recorded data that shows the problem runs far deeper and wider.

    Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data, which a Reuters reporter obtained through a right-to-information request, shows state-run banks have reported 8,670 "loan fraud" cases totalling Rs 612.6 billion ($9.58 billion) over the last five financial years up to March 31, 2017.

    In India, loan frauds typically refer to cases where the borrower intentionally tries to deceive the lending bank and does not repay the loan.

    The figures expose the magnitude of the problem in a banking sector already under pressure after years of poor lending practices. Bad loans surged to a record peak of nearly $149 billion last year.

Business Affairs

Gem of a scam: How Nirav Modi used fake LoUs to defraud PNB of about Rs 11,400 crore
  • A set of bank officials in connivance with businesses owned by flamboyant diamond and jewellery merchant Nirav Modi exploited information gaps and lax processes in India's second largest PSU bank, Punjab National Bank, to defraud it of money that may add up to $1.77 billion, or Rs 11,345 crore.

    Possibly, the amount may be even higher if the modus operandi employed in this fraud is being used in other banks as well. PNB has written to 30 banks as soon as it discovered the fraud explaining the modus operandi, asking them to investigate if they have faced similar frauds. The final number may be known only after the investigation at PNB and these 30 banks is over.

    PNB discovered that at least 2 individuals, deputy manager Gokulnath Shetty and clerk Manoj Kharat, from its Brady House branch in Mumbai repeatedly issued Letters of Undertaking (LoU) to Nirav Modi's companies and their banks without following the processes, without securing cash reserve or collateral and without recording the transactions in the bank's core banking software, the system on which the banks's financial transactions are run and recorded. An LoU is a guarantee by the issuing bank to the receiving bank and the companies that it would undertake to pay a certain amount of money on a specific date.

    Modi and his companies leveraged those LoUs in Hong Kong to secure buyers' credit from the local branches of Allahabad Bank (estimated to be Rs 2,000-2,200 crore), Union Bank (about Rs 2,000-2,300 crore), Axis Bank (about Rs2,000 crore) and State Bank of India (Rs 960 crore), among others. Between five-six Hong Kong branches of Indian Banks (Allahabad Bank, Axis Bank, Union Bank of India, Bank of India and State Bank of India) are believed to have issued buyers' credit against these LoUs.

    These suspect bank officials issued the LoUs and informed these branches via the international cash transfer service called SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) which connects all international banks worldwide. However, exploiting the information gap-and the fact that unlike other Indian banks PNB had not integrated its SWIFT network with the bank's core banking network- they chose not to record these transactions in the bank's own system.

    While Shetty retired in May, 2017, PNB has, meanwhile, suspended 10 officials after its prepreliminary investigation. PNB managing director Sunil Mehta says it approached CBI on January 29 after it detected the fraud. "The fraud was detected in the third week of January and a case was filed with CBI," Mehta said. The fraudulent LoUs were discovered when Modi's companies Solar Exports, Stellar Diamonds and Diamonds R US asked PNB for buyers' credit in mid-January.

    The bank official handling the forex desk told them that since they didn't have pre-sanctioned limits, they should provide cash margins or collateral. To that the companies responded by saying that they had been availing the buyers credit in the past. PNB began investigating it at this point. PNBs first complaint was filed on January 29 with the CBI mentioning it as a Rs 280 crore fraud. However, on February 14 it issued another statement saying it detected fraud of $1.77 billion (Rs 11,300 crore).

    Observers suspect round-tripping of funds raised from one bank being used to pay up buyers' credit for the other bank in this modus operandi. Over 150 such LoUs were issued since the first one was fraudulently issued in 2011. Interestingly, while an LoU expires in 90-180 days, these bank officials are believed to have rolled them over after each expiry, as a result the fraud lay undetected for over 7 years. In a letter to PNB, Modi is believed to have asked for six months to pay Rs5,000 crore due from him. Since the buyers' credit has been issued against PNB's LoUs, the bank is liable to pay for any shortfall, non-payment by Modi and his companies. PNB's managing director said the bank will honour every payment owed to these banks.

    The Enforcement Directorate has raided various premises of Nirav Modi belonging to his entities-Firestar Diamonds, Stellar Diamonds, Find Diamond R US and Solar Exports- all across the country and have seized diamonds, precious stones and jewellery worth an estimated Rs5,100 crore. Nirav Modi, his wife Ami (a US citizen), his brother Nishal (a Belgian citizen) as well as his uncle Mehul Choksi, promoter of Gitanjali Gems, fled the country between January 1 and January 6. Nirav Modi was last spotted at Davos where he appeared for a photo opportunity with PM Narendra Modi right after his address at the World Economic Forum on January 23.

WhatsApp Payments beta launch nets NPCI nod, but only for one million users
  • It is one less hurdle for WhatsApp Payments as it got the green flag from National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) for preliminary launch. The payments regulator approved the beta testing of WhatsApp's UPI-based payment feature among a portion of its user base with a low transaction limit.

    "Currently, the NPCI has given its consent to roll out WhatsApp BHIM UPI beta launch with limited user base of one million and low per transaction limit. Four banks will join the multi-bank BHIM UPI model in phases (in the coming weeks) and full feature product shall be released after the beta test is successful," NPCI said in a statement.

    The NPCI - an umbrella organisation for all retail payments in India -- asserted that it follows "well-defined guidelines" for BHIM UPI services with the objective of making its platforms "inter-operable and based on open standards, convenient and secure". The principles for inter-operability include ability to send and receive money through any BHIM UPI ID, intent and collect call and, read and generate BHIM/Bharat QR code that are required in final BHIM UPI app.

    "BHIM UPI-enabled app fulfils such principles only will be permissible for full scale public launch," it emphasised.

    WhatsApp Payments service is expected to disrupt the digital transaction scenario in India, which has been booming since demonetisation in 2016. The ripples are expected to rock the boat even for e-commerce leader Paytm on account of the reach the messaging application has.

    "We welcome this statement by NPCI. It addresses the concerns of interoperability violation that we had raised. It also clarifies that the trial has been restricted to 1 million users, though we feel that a product with the stated violations could have been tried out amongst a much smaller base. We are still concerned that this statement is silent on the critical issue of safety/security of a financial transaction through UPI, where consumers need to mandatorily sign-in with username and password. This violation is fundamental and very serious," a Paytm spokesperson said in response to the NPCI approval.

    "WhatsApp must implement login & password like all other BHIM UPI apps. This statement is also silent on other issues such as the requirement to send SMS notifications for every UPI transaction. We hope that future rollout will be fully compliant with all the guidelines. We wait to hear NPCI views on some of these missing aspects," the spokesperson further said.

    Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma had been openly critical of the Facebook-owned company and its payment service, and has even alleged that the US firm was getting unfair advantage.

    Sharma had raised a storm after Facebook-owned WhatsApp started testing payments through its platform. He alleged that WhatsApp's UPI payment platform has security risks for consumers and is not in compliance with the guidelines.

    Alleging Facebook of having "arm-twisted" UPI to derive benefits, Sharma had said Facebook was "killing beautiful open UPI system with its custom close garden implementation."

No reservation charts in trains from March 1; Railways' pilot project to last 6 months
  • Indian Railways, which has the largest network in the world, plans to save money by doing away with reservation charts on all trains. The Green initiative has already been implemented it in reserved coaches at New Delhi's Hazrat Nizamuddin, Mumbai Central, Chennai Central, Howrah, and Sealdah stations, but now the Ministry of Railways has decided to discontinue this service on all trains for six months.

    The Ministry of Railway has directed its zones to discontinue pasting reservation charts on reserved coaches of all trains at A1, A and B category stations as a pilot project for six months from March 1, an official statement said on Friday. However, physical and digital display of charts will continue at the platforms, the ministry statement said.

    Based on the income from passengers, the railways classifies its stations into seven categories A1, A, B, C, D, E and F. It has 17 zones. "At those stations where electronic charts display plasma has been installed and the same is functioning properly, physical reservation charts at such platforms can be stopped," it added.

    The aim behind the move to go paperless is the green initiative by South Western Railways Bengaluru Division (SBC), which discontinued pasting charts on reserved coaches of all trains from Bengaluru City and Yeshwantpur stations from November 2016. The move helped save over Rs 60 lakh spent on paper by the division.

    The Southern Railways, as part of Green Initiative, will also discontinue the practise of pasting of reservation charts on train coaches on a trial basis for six months from March 1. However, the respective coach and berth number information would still be available at centralised locations in all the railway stations and also with the travelling ticket examiners, an official release said. By moving towards paperless initiative, the southern railway would be able to save 28 tonne of charting paper and Rs 1.70 lakh every year, the release said. Other efforts include encouraging e-ticketing for both reserved and unreserved tickets, it said.

    Meanwhile, Railways has initiated a massive recruitment drive to hire 89,000 employees in levels C and D. This recruitment drive has been started to hire for the posts of assistant loco pilots, technicians, switchmen, trackmen, helpers, porters and many other openings. Railway minister Piyush Goyal tweeted February 14 that they have started the recruitment process for group D for 62,907 posts. Candidates that are high school pass or have an ITI or industrial training institute degree are eligible to apply for it, last date being March 12.

If and only if PNB would have heeded RBI's advice
  • Quite often animals or even the birds are the first to warn humans of an approaching earthquake. Financial markets, too, have many soothsayers. Raghuram Rajan, the celebrated economist, actually predicted the global financial meltdown of 2008 much before it created havoc with the world economies. The world is still struggling to recover from that shock. Globally regulators are the best masters to give signals of a financial catastrophe but seldom do players heed their wisdom.

    The state-owned Punjab National Bank, too, looks to be a victim of turning a blind eye to the crises that was brewing at its backyard for many years. The fraudster Nirav Modi was using the bank's letter of undertakings (LoUs) and a SWIFT messaging system (not linked to their core banking) to get access of funds from the overseas branch of other Indian banks. PNB as an issuing authority of LoUs is now in the soup as it has to honor all the financial obligations as Modi is absconding.  

    The Reserve Bank of India's Deputy Governor SS Mundra, who retired last year, was the first to speak publically about the possible cracks in the banks payment infrastructure. In September 2016, almost 18 months ago, Mundra disclosed that the RBI has come across instances of fraudulent messaging confirming documentary credits being transmitted using the SWIFT infrastructure. The cases may have been minor, but the issue was very sensitive as the system was compromised in some cases.

    Mundra said although the latter incidents were mainly a result of failure of internal controls and non-adherence to four eyes principles (by banks), it is also on account of reliance on disparate systems whereby SWIFT transactions could be done without originating a corresponding transaction in the core banking solution(CBS). This is exactly took place in the PNB case where the transactions effected over SWIFT system were not captured in the core banking solution.

    Mundra, who was earlier the CMD of Bank of Baroda, also narrated an incident where an attempt was made on a commercial bank in India by generating fraudulent payment instructions on the Nostro accounts and transmitting them over SWIFT messaging system. "Though monetary loss could be prevented with proactive follow up with the concerned paying intermediary banks, the incident has reinforced the fact that the various stakeholders have not learnt the lessons yet," said Mundra bluntly.

    Globally, the SWIFT system is already under attack from cyber criminals. Recently, the Central Bank of Bangladesh came under attack from cyber criminals when they successfully manage to withdrew almost $81 million from their account in the US Federal Reserve Bank.

    Later, SWIFT also admitted that there was some tempering of SWIFT messaging system at the central bank of Bangladesh.

    In the PNB case, the bank is putting the blame on its employees. Tomorrow, some cyber criminals could attack Indian banks' SWIFT messaging system, the way it happened with the Central Bank of Bangladesh. All these banks have transactions globally with MNC banks. These transactions have to be honored at any cost. Faster the banks especially PSBs realize this, better it is for the financial system.    

Sensex closes 286 points lower at 34,010, Nifty falls below 10,500, SBI top loser on exposure to PNB fraud
  • The Sensex and Nifty ended lower in Friday's trade amid weakness in banking stocks due the PNB fraud and absence of positive global cues.

    While the Sensex closed 286 points lower to 34,010, Nifty fell 93 points to close at 10,452 points.

    The Sensex rose nearly 211 points in early trade to hit an intra day high of 34,508 level. The index saw a continous slide through the day as the impact of Rs 11,400 crore fraud in Punjab National Bank was felt on other lenders who had exposure to these funds.

    Bank stocks were among the top losers with BSE bankex falling 335 points or 1.17% to 28,396 level.

    Bank Nifty too plunged 1.02% or 260 points to 25,163 level. Auto and capital goods indices too shed 414 pts (1.65%) and 258 points (1.33%) on the BSE.

    SBI, which has been directly affected by such unauthorised transactions was the top Sensex loser falling 2.55% at 271 points.  Reports said SBI had exposure of Rs 1,300 crore to the fraud. YES Bank (2.52%), ICICI Bank (2.31%) and Adani Ports (2.08%) were other major losers on the index.

    "Movement is erratic in many shares... impact on PNB stock may be done, but if other banks have exposure to the same group, then it could become an issue," said Jayant Manglik, President-Retail Distribution, Religare Broking.

    Small cap and midcap indices led the decline falling 1.22% and1.20 percent each.

    Market breadth was negative with 709 stocks closing higher against 2095 falling on the BSE. 114 stocks were unchanged.

    The Punjab National Bank stock closed 2.10 percent lower at 125.65 level on BSE. During the last two trading sessions, the stock fell over 20% on disclosure of Rs 11,400 crore fraud by the lender.

    Shares of Gitanjali Gems tanked another 20% after the detection of Punjab National Bank's Rs 11,400-crore fraud. Gitanjali Gems is one of the companies charged by investigating agencies for colluding with Nirav Modi in carrying out the fraud. The stock closed 19.94% or 9.35 points to 37.55 level on BSE.

    Global markets

    The MSCI world index of stocks, which tracks shares in 47 countries, was up 0.4 percent after European bourses opened. After suffering its biggest weekly drop since August 2015 last week, this week's recovery puts the index on track for its best weekly showing since early December 2011.

    European shares were set to chalk up healthy weekly gains, snapping a three-week losing streak as earnings updates continued to impress, and volatility and jitters over rising inflation eased. Among country benchmarks, the UK's FTSE was up 0.6 percent and Germany's DAX .GDAXI added 0.8 percent, while Italy's FTSE outperformed, up 1.2 percent.

    Japan's Nikkei rose 1.2 percent, with investors relieved to see the government appoint Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda for another term, suggesting the central bank will be in no rush to dial back its massive stimulus program.

General Awareness

Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
Prasar Bharati

  • Context: Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati (PB) has turned down a resolution moved by the Union ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B) to appoint a serving IAS officer to its board, and deferred its proposal to bring in professionals to head the news service units of Doordarshan and All India Radio.

    Why? The board refused to appoint a serving IAS officer as member (personnel) on grounds that the appointment would go against the norms laid down in The Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act, 1990. The broadcaster concluded that accepting the resolutions moved by the ministry would “amount to infringing Prasar Bharati’s autonomy”.

    What the law says?

    As per the PB Act of 1990 the Prasar Bharati Board consists of a chairman, a CEO, two whole-time members for finance and personnel, six part-time members, heads of Doordarshan and All India Radio and one representative of the I&B ministry. There is no provision to have a serving bureaucrat on the board.

    Appointment of board members: The PB Act states that the President of India will appoint the Board members decided by a selection committee which is headed by the Vice President of India and includes the Chairman of the Press Council of India and a nominee of the President. The ministry does not have a direct role in appointment of the chairman and whole-time members of the Board.

    Prasar Bharati:

    Prasar Bharati is a statutory autonomous body established under the Prasar Bharati Act and came into existence in November 1997. It is the Public Service Broadcaster of the country. The objectives of public service broadcasting are achieved in terms of Prasar Bharati Act through All India Radio and Doordarshan.

    Way forward:

    India is in dire need of broadcast autonomy, especially in the form of a truly autonomous, even if state-assisted, public service broadcaster. This was a promise made by Nehru to Parliament in 1948. But, it is yet to be redeemed. The post-Emergency 1977-78 broadcast autonomy committee, in its report “Akash Bharati”, presented a blueprint for autonomy.

    Despite brave efforts to make something of it, Prasar Bharati (PB) has not lived up to its charter. PB “needs to be adequately empowered and enabled” with independent professionals and financial self-reliance to “unleash its creative forces” beyond the market as a true voice of India, its ethos, culture and aspirations in order to become a genuine public broadcaster rather than remain a “government broadcaster”.

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