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Current Affairs - 05 March 2018

General Affairs 

After Meghalaya Hung Verdict, Kiren Rijiju Meets UDP Chief To Discuss Government Formation
  • BJP leader Kiren Rijiju met UDP president Donkupar Roy at his residence today to discuss the formation of a non-Congress government in Meghalaya, under the leadership of the National People's Party (NPP), which secured the second position in the state assembly polls with 19 seats.

    "We are not a big player here. We have come to express our support to the regional parties to form a non-Congress government," Mr Rijiju told PTI after coming out of Roy's residence in Shillong.

    Meghalaya threw up a fractured mandate yesterday with the ruling Congress emerging as the largest party, marginally ahead of its rival, the NPP, an ally of the BJP at the Centre and in Manipur.

    The Congress bagged 21 seats in the 60-member Assembly, eight less than the last elections.

    The BJP, which drew a blank in the last elections, got two seats. The United Democratic Party (UDP) won six seats while its alliance partner the HSPDP won two seats. The People's Democratic Front (PDF) bagged four seats, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) and three Independents got one seat each.

    UDP general secretary Jemino Mawthoh said his party, too, has made it clear during the meeting that it favours a non-Congress government in the state.

    "We will be discussing government formation with our alliance partners and members of the PDF and the KHNAM soon," he said.

    Assam BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma had also met the UDP president earlier in the day to discuss alliance possibilities, he said.

    "The UDP, which had led a regional alliance in 2008, still feels the pangs of betrayal by the Congress, which overthrew the coalition a year after to remain in power alone for a decade," Mawtoh said.

    The memories of 2009 are still fresh and the UDP, this time, prefers to work with the non-Congress parties, he said.

    "Although we (UDP) are at an advantage point to bargain for seats, we will still follow democratic conventions," he added.

    Polling for 59 seats of the 60-member Assembly in Meghalaya was held on February 27. A Nationalist Congress Party candidate was killed in an IED blast, which resulted in countermanding of the polls in one seat.

People Of Northeast Rejected "Politics Of Hate", PM Modi Says In Karnataka
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today that the people of the Northeast have rejected the "politics of hate" by "unanimously" voting the BJP to power.

    The BJP on Saturday wrested Tripura, the Left bastion, and received an invitation to be part of the government in Nagaland, while Meghalaya elected a hung Assembly.

    PM Modi, while addressing a youth convention in Tumakuru about 70 km from Bengaluru via video-conferencing, said the poll results of Tripura had given him immense joy.

    "The brothers and sisters of the Northeast have rejected the politics of hate by unanimously voting the BJP to power," he said.

    The convention is being organised to mark the silver jubilee celebrations of the Ramakrishna Vivekananda Ashram in Tumakuru and celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Sister Nivedita, a social worker and a disciple of Swami Vivekananda.

    PM Modi, speaking on the subject of 'Youth power: A Vision for New India', said a fitting reply to radicalisation could only be given by the resolve for integration.

    Hitting out at the previous Left and Congress regimes in the Northeast, PM Modi said the people there earlier were feeling cut off from the Indian mainstream because of policies and decisions that alienated them, but his government has been working relentlessly to wipe off this feeling.

    "Our government has resolved to work in such a way that no part of the country and no group feels alienated and we have proved this by working towards it," he said.

    "This wave of integration can also be felt among the people of Karnataka," he said.

    The mandate which the people of Northeast have given is in itself is a very big change, PM Modi said.

    By participating in the happiness of the people of the Northeast through the Assembly polls results, the whole country has sent a strong message that they were with their dreams and sentiments.

    "For the country's unity, showing solidarity to the sentiments of the Northeast is a necessity and very big thing," he said.

    PM Modi said the results of Northeast Assembly polls have created an environment of festivity in the entire country.

    The Prime Minister said the Assembly polls also brought the whole country together to celebrate the happiness of the people living there.

    "I don't see Northeast poll results through the lens of victory and defeat of political parties, but what is important is that the whole country became participants in the happiness of people residing there," he said.

    PM Modi said such occasions were rare that accomplishments of the Northeast become accomplishments of the whole country.

    "We all saw this happening when many Indians, who were glued to the television as though they themselves were in the electoral battlefield, started to realise the happiness, dreams and sentiments of the people of the Northeast as their own," he said.

Vehicles Of President, Vice President To Have Number Plates, Court Told
  • The road transport ministry is in the process of installing number plates in vehicles used by people who hold top constitutional posts such as the president, vice-president, governors and lieutenant governors after a non-profit group filed a petition in the Delhi High Court, saying the vehicles stood out without the number plates and could be easily identified as targets by terrorists.

    The petitioner also said it would be difficult for people to trace the right owner and file for damages in case of an accident, and not showing the registration number as in any regular vehicle could be seen as disobeying the law by people in important posts.

    In an affidavit before a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar of the Delhi High Court, the road transport ministry said it has written to the authorities to get the vehicles registered.

    "The offices of the President of India, Vice President, Governors and Lieutenant Governors in the country and Secretary (Ministry of External Affairs) have been asked vide letter dated January 2, 2018 to ensure that all the vehicles used by the President/President's Secretariat, Vice President/Vice President's Secretariat, Governor/ Lieutenant Governors/ or their officers/secretariat, Ministry of External Affairs be registered, if not done, and that they display registration mark as per the rules," the ministry's affidavit said.

    Fourteen vehicles used by the foreign ministry for carrying state guests from other nations are being registered, the government's counsel Rajesg Gogna told the court.

    The vice-president secretariat has informed that "all the vehicles of this secretariat display their registration number including vehicles being used by the Vice President of India and his spouse", Mr Gogna said.

    In a strong remark in its petition, the non-profit group Nyayabhoomi said, "The practice of replacing the registration mark with the State Emblem of India, instead of displaying them both, is arbitrary and symptomatic of the desire to rule rather than to serve."

    Nyayabhoomi's secretary Rakesh Agarwal asked the court to direct the Delhi government and the Delhi Police to seize all the cars used by the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the vice-president, Raj Niwas and the protocol division of the foreign ministry for not being registered under the Motor Vehicles Act.

    The petitioner said the foreign ministry in its reply to an application filed under the Right to Information Act said none of its 14 cars were registered. It said the Rashtrapati Bhawan declined to give the registration numbers of its cars for security reasons.

Lotus Will Now Bloom In Karnataka, Kerala, Says Yogi Adityanath On BJP's Northeast Win
  • UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath today credited the BJP's "historic" performance in north eastern states to "development-oriented" policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and "organisational skills" of Amit Shah and said the day is not far when one party will be in power right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

    The chief minister was addressing a press conference at the BJP headquarters here after the party's good show in assembly polls in Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya.

    "The BJP's sterling performance in northeast will go a long way in fulfilling development aspirations of people," he said.

    Mr Adityanath said for the first time after Independence, these northeastern states will get chance to join the national mainstream and enjoy fruits of development.

    The UP chief minister, who had campaigned for the saffron party in these assembly elections, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's development oriented policies and organisational skills of BJP President Amit Shah led to his party's "sterling performance".

    He said the 'lotus' will now bloom in Karnataka, Kerala, West Bengal and Odisha, thanks to the development-oriented policies of the prime minister and his good governance, and the guidance of the party chief Amit Shah.

    "That day is not far when one party will be in power right from Kashmir down to Kanyakumari," he said.

    He also exuded confidence that the BJP will win Lok Sabha by-elections next week in Gorakhpur and Phulpur constituencies in Uttar Pradesh.

    Continuing its winning streak, the BJP wrested Tripura, and received invitation to be part of the government in Nagaland, while Meghalaya elected a hung Assembly.

BJP, Neiphiu Rio And Allies Meet Governor To Form Government In Nagaland
  • Former Chief Minister of Nagaland Neiphiu Rio along with senior BJP leader Ram Madhav and other candidates who joined the BJP-NDPP alliance met Governor PB Acharya at his house today to stake claim to form the government. The BJP and its new partner Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) will form the government in the state with the help of two candidates who offered their support soon after the assembly results were announced.

    The BJP and the NDPP together bagged 29 seats in Nagaland, as did outgoing chief minister TR Zeliang's Naga People's Front (NPF), just two seats short of getting a majority. However, independent candidate Tongpang Ozukum and the Janata Dal (United) Nagaland decided to help the BJP reach the 31 mark in the 60-member assembly.

    Mr Zeliang had said his party would be happy to form a new government with its old ally, the BJP. But the BJP in its pre-election alliance chose Neiphiu Rio's new party and projected him as presumptive chief minister.

    For the BJP, forming government in Nagaland will mean consolidating its position further in the north east. It has posted a big win in Tripura on Saturday, uprooting the CPM after 25 years of rule and ending the 20-year run of the Left party's Manik Sarkar as chief minister.

    In Meghalaya, the third north eastern state where votes were counted, a hung assembly means the BJP is in with a chance at forming government by tying up with regional parties. Having recently set up governments in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, the party's Mission North East is coming together.

Business Affairs

Banks write off NPAs worth Rs 516 cr of 38 wilful defaulters in H1 FY18
  • Public sector banks have written off loans worth Rs 516 crore owed by wilful defaulters in the first half of the current fiscal, as per the data collated by the finance ministry.

    As part of this exercise, 38 loan accounts of wilful defaulters were written off the books of banks during April-September period of 2017-18, it said.

    Write-off in banking parlance means that the bank has made 100 per cent provision from its earning against that account. Following this, non-performing asset (NPA) is no longer part of its balance sheet.

    However, the write-off puts pressure on balance sheet of banks as it erodes operating profit.

    Since recovery in case of wilful default is very remote so the possibility of write-back in the future is also very little, said a senior bank official.

    A wilful defaulter is somebody who has essentially not used the fund for the purpose it has been borrowed or he has not repaid when he can do so; he has siphoned off the funds or he disposed of the assets pledged for loan without the bank's knowledge.

    If there is wilful default then where is the possibility of recovery, when the entire exercise was undertaken with a clear intention of default, the official said, adding that banks could only get few of their assets which have been disclosed.

    Recovery forms only minuscule part of the outstanding loan in most of the cases, the official added.

    The Reserve Bank of India in its direction to banks in 2015 said lenders should initiate legal proceedings wherever warranted, against the borrowers or guarantors and foreclosure for recovery of dues should be initiated expeditiously. The lenders may initiate criminal proceedings against wilful defaulters, wherever necessary.

    The country s largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) accounts for over 27 per cent of the total amount owed to public sector banks by wilful defaulters as of March 2017, according to the finance ministry data.

    As many as 1,762 wilful defaulters owed Rs 25,104 crore to State Bank of India (SBI) as on March 31, 2017, putting pressure on its balance sheet. Punjab National Bank (PNB) is next on the list with 1,120 wilful defaulters having outstanding non-performing assets (NPAs) or bad loans of Rs 12,278 crore.

    Together these two banks account for Rs 37,382 crore or 40 per cent of the total outstanding loans.

    Total outstanding loans due to public sector banks by 8,915 wilful defaulters amounted to Rs 92,376 crore.

CBI says gold bribes given in $2 billion PNB fraud case
  • An official of Punjab National Bank received gold and diamond jewellery from a billionaire jeweller accused of being involved in a $2 billion bank fraud, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told a court on Saturday.

    The state lender in January uncovered the alleged fraud in which several bank officials were suspected of colluding with jeweller Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi to issue fraudulent letters of undertakings (LoUs), for their companies to raise loans from overseas branches of mostly Indian banks.

    The CBI, which has arrested 14 people in the case, on Saturday for the first time said bribes were paid to at least one Punjab National Bank (PNB)official by Modi.

    The agency told the court that Yashwant Joshi, who worked as a manager in the forex department of the Mumbai branch that is at the centre of the fraud, admitted to having received two gold coins weighing 60 grams and a pair of gold and diamond earrings from Modi.

    The articles have been recovered from Joshi's house in the presence of independent witnesses, the CBI said.

    "This indicates that he was in collusion with the beneficiary accused persons to cheat the bank," CBI Inspector D. Damodaran said in a court filing."He also obtained illegal gratification from the beneficiary party for continuing issuance of fraudulent LoUs."

    Joshi, who was committed to judicial custody by the Mumbai court along with four other PNB officials and an associate of Modi, could not be contacted for comment.

    Modi and Choksi, who owns Gitanjali Gems Ltd, left India before the fraud came to light, but have said in letters and statements they were innocent.

    PNB, India's second-biggest state lender, has mainly accused two low-level employees of the Brady House branch of issuing the LoUs without making corresponding entries in the bank's main software, helping the fraud to go undetected for years.

    The CBI, however, has expanded its investigation and arrested two internal auditors of the branch, among others.

    Separately, TV channels reported that another Mumbai court on Saturday issued non-bailable warrants against Modi and Choksi following an appeal by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), an agency focused on foreign exchange and money laundering offences.

    "Modi appears to be the prima donna in the whole saga of the fraud perpetrated on the PNB," the directorate said in a filing to the court seen by Reuters.

    "The case involves a circuitous web of routes created by the said Modi and in such circumstances, the fraudulent transactions appear to be in the personal knowledge and exclusive domain of Nirav Modi".

    Modi has yet to be tracked by the authorities, but the ED said"reportedly, Modi is presently in Hong Kong". The agency has already seized various properties of Modi and Choksi, as banks assess the hit to them from the fraud.

    State Bank of India and two other state-run banks, Union Bank of India and Allahabad Bank, are lenders who had extended credit based on the LoUs issued by PNB that were later found to be fraudulent. Allahabad Bank said on Saturday it had a $366.87 million exposure to the case.

Nearly 87 crore bank accounts linked to Aadhaar, says UIDAI official
  • A month before the expiry of the deadline, around 80 per cent of bank accounts and 60 per cent of mobile connections have been linked with national biometric identifier Aadhaar, according to a senior official at UIDAI.

    The government has mandated submission of the 12-digit unique identity number by every bank account holder by March 31, 2018 to weed out unaccounted wealth.

    For the same purpose, Aadhaar linking with income-tax permanent account number or PAN has also been made mandatory.

    By March 31, all mobile SIM cards are also to be linked with Aadhaar to establish the identity of mobile phone users.

    Out of the 109.9 crore banks accounts, almost 87 crore have been seeded with Aadhaar, said the official of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which issues the national ID number.

    Of this, 58 crore have already been verified while in case of the rest the authentication process is underway with the documents that have been submitted to the banks, the official said.

    The official further said that as against the 142.9 crore active mobile connections, 85.7 crore have already been linked with Aadhaar.

    When contacted, UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey told PTI: "Yes, about 80 per cent of the bank accounts have been seeded with Aadhaar, and we hope that the remaining will be covered soon...Financial losses caused to banks and genuine account holders through identity frauds will be curbed."

    With over 1.2 billion residents already enrolled for Aadhaar -- a unique 12-digit number backed by fingerprints, iris scans and certain demographic details -- the programme today is the world's largest biometric database.

    Aadhaar is required as an identity proof of residents by various government and non-government entities.

    While a five-judge Constitution bench is hearing a clutch of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar programme, as things stand today, PAN, bank accounts, credit cards, insurance policies, mutual funds, pension plans and social welfare benefits will have to be linked to Aadhaar by March 31, 2018.

    The UIDAI recently announced a new concept of Virtual ID which an Aadhaar-card holder can generate from its website and give for various purposes, including SIM verification, instead of sharing the actual 12-digit biometric ID.

    The soon-to-be-introduced Virtual ID, a random 16-digit number, will give the users the option of not sharing their Aadhaar number at the time of authentication.

    Aadhaar has also announced that it will soon include face recognition alongside iris or fingerprint scan as a means of verifying the users, helping those who face issues in biometric authentication or have worn-out fingerprints.

Loan defaults: Sebi to push for urgent disclosure by listed firms
  • Seeking to join forces with other agencies to check financial frauds, regulator Sebi plans to make it mandatory for listed companies to make urgent disclosure about all major loan defaults.

    Concerned over an alleged loan fraud of over Rs 12,000 crore at state-run Punjab National Bank remaining undetected for years, the capital markets watchdog is revisiting its "on-hold" proposal to mandate listed firms to disclose all 'substantial' loan defaults within a day.

    The proposal is expected to be discussed by Sebi's board at a meeting later this month, even as a final decision is yet to be reached on the threshold limit for quantifying a loan default as 'substantial', a senior official said.

    One view is to keep this 'threshold' as low as Rs 5 crore, though some want it higher at Rs 50 crore, the official said, while adding there would be other factors such as direct and indirect systemic impact of the default to determine whether it would be considered 'substantial' or not.

    Besides, the Sebi board is also likely to discuss the Kotak panel report on corporate governance. The high-level panel, headed by eminent banker Uday Kotak, has suggested a major overhaul of corporate governance norms for listed companies, including steps to improve oversight of financial irregularities at listed firms.

    The Securities and Exchange Board (Sebi) has already received public comments on the report, while preliminary discussions have been held with the corporate affairs and finance ministries in this regard.

    With regard to the loan default disclosure, Sebi's board will discuss its "on-hold" proposal to mandate listed companies to disclose to the stock exchanges about their loan defaults, to banks and financial institutions, within one working day of such a miss.

    Once implemented, the move would help investors take an informed decision at the earliest in cases of loan defaults by listed companies and at the banks.

    The proposal was put on hold just a day before it was supposed to implemented on October 1 --apparently after reservations expressed by the banking industry that such a move can create a panic like situation.

    The fresh push by Sebi follows detection of an alleged loan fraud of over Rs 12,000 crore fraud at state-run PNB.

    While billionaire jewellery designer Nirav Modi, the alleged perpetrator of this fraud, is not directly linked to any listed company, his relative and business associate Mehul Choksi's Gitanjali Gems is a listed firm and has been involved in some other cases of suspected market manipulations.

    Sebi has already launched a probe into trading and disclosure related issues in the matter of PNB and Gitanjali Gems in connection with the biggest fraud in the Indian banking industry so far, allegedly perpetrated by absconding Modi.

    Ever since the fraud came to light on February 14, investors wealth has seen a massive erosion worth billions of dollars at PNB, Gitanjali Gems and several listed firms including public sector banks with direct or indirect exposure to Modi.

    "With the PNB fraud coming to light, it has become important to ensure timely disclosure of even a small loan default rather than the situation to balloon into a major crisis," a senior official said.

    Sebi is considering to make a fresh push on its earlier proposal, although it is open to make a constructive changes to the proposed framework, he added.

    Regarding the other important agenda before Sebi, the 177-page report of the Kotak panel has called for limiting the chairmanship to only non-executive directors and appointing at least one woman independent director.

    While the proposal for only non-executive director allowed to be made chairman would eventually lead to a split in the posts of chairman and managing director, the committee also suggested increasing the minimum board strength to six and the number of board meetings to five in a year.

India to emerge as top trading partner of Vietnam, says Tran Dai Quang
  • Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang said India will emerge as the top trading partner of Vietnam soon and the target of USD 15 billion bilateral trade turnover by 2020 is feasible.

    He said India can become provider of inputs for the Vietnam's textile and footwear industry and his country also wants to enhance cooperation with India in tourism sector.

    "Currently, India is among top 10 trading partner of Vietnam. Soon, India will emerge as the top trade partner of Vietnam.

    "Our target of USD 15 billion bilateral trade by 2020 from USD 10 billion currently is feasible," the Vietnamese President said while addressing India-Viet Nam Business Forum organised by industry bodies CII, FICCI and Assocham.

    Tran said that with population size of 100 million, Vietnam is among the fastest growing economy and it is also safe destination of investment.

    Noting that Vietnam is growing at 6.5-7 per cent rate, he said, "India has always identified Vietnam as important part of its Act East policy".

    The president also pointed out that India and Vietnam has enjoyed long standing traditional friendship.

    The Vietnamese President is on three-day visit in India.

    Speaking at the same occasion, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Ramrao Bhamre said that our founding fathers have lead struggle against the colonialism.

    India admires bravery of Vietnamese people in their fight against colonial power, he added.

General Awareness

Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Diabetes has five types, say scientists

  • Context: Scientists have unveiled a revised classification for diabetes. There are five distinct types of diabetes that can occur in adulthood, rather than the two currently recognised.

    Currently, the disease is divided into two sub-types:

    With type-1 — generally diagnosed in childhood and accounting for about 10% of cases — the body simply doesn’t make insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels.

    For type-2, the body makes some insulin but not enough, which means glucose stays in the blood. This form of the disease correlates highly with obesity and can, over time, lead to blindness, kidney damage, and heart disease or stroke.

    The new clusters are:

    Cluster 1 – severe autoimmune diabetes is broadly the same as the classical type 1 – it hit people when they were young, seemingly healthy and an immune disease left them unable to produce insulin
    Cluster 2 – severe insulin-deficient diabetes patients initially looked very similar to those in cluster 1 – they were young, had a healthy weight and struggled to make insulin, but the immune system was not at fault
    Cluster 3 – severe insulin-resistant diabetes patients were generally overweight and making insulin but their body was no longer responding to it
    Cluster 4 – mild obesity-related diabetes was mainly seen in people who were very overweight but metabolically much closer to normal than those in cluster 3
    Cluster 5 – mild age-related diabetes patients developed symptoms when they were significantly older than in other groups and their disease tended to be milder.


    People with diabetes have excessively high blood glucose, or blood sugar, which comes from food. Some 420 million people around the world today suffer from diabetes, with the number expected to rise to 629 million by 2045, according to the International Diabetes Federation.

    Significance of this discovery:

    This is the first step towards personalised treatment of diabetes. This discovery could lead to better treatments and help doctors more accurately predict life-threatening complications from the disease.

    What is diabetes?

    Diabetes, often referred to by doctors as diabetes mellitus, describes a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar), either because insulin production is inadequate, or because the body’s cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both.

    India’s concern:

    Today, Diabetes has become a major public health concern in India. According to the International Diabetes Federation, over 66 million people in India live with this metabolic disease; an almost equal number has pre-diabetes which is an immediate precursor to diabetes. It is predicted that by 2030 diabetes mellitus may afflict up to 79.4 million individuals in India.

    Way ahead:

    India currently faces an uncertain future in relation to the potential burden that diabetes may impose upon the country. If this continues unchecked, an already overloaded and inefficient health system will run out of solutions. Many influences affect the prevalence of diabetes throughout a country, and identification of those factors is necessary to facilitate changes in the healthcare system.

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