Current Affairs April 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Monday, April 30, 2018

Current Affairs - 30 April 2018

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General Affairs 

MoU signed between PHDCCI, Indian Yoga Association to promote yoga
  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) and Indian Yoga Association (IYA) to promote yoga, health and spiritual tourism in the Krishna Circuit in Uttar Pradesh.

    The MoU was signed between D.K. Aggarwal, Vice president, PHDCCI, and Kamlesh Barwal, Secretary-General, IYA, in the presence of yoga guru Baba Ramdev.

    Speaking to ANI, Ramdev said, "It is one of the biggest steps in Indian tourism history. With this, the entire world will be attached to yoga. This will lead to world peace, world harmony and prosperity."

    The two organisations have joined hands to provide a holistic tourism experience to domestic and international travellers looking for some spiritually invigorating and cultural experiences.

    According to a statement by IAY, "This niche sector is sought to be promoted effectively by industry partner PHDCCI, which is committed to bringing about effective changes in the management, innovation and proactive development of strategies and strengthening the linkages for advancement through partnerships with like-minded organisations." 

Amit Shah hosts multiple rallies in Karnataka
  • Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah on Sunday held a roadshow in Karnataka's Tumkur as a part of his campaigning for the upcoming state legislative assembly elections.

    Earlier in the day, he hosted a packed roadshow in Davanagere.

    He also visited the Duggamma Temple in Davanagere to seek blessings the ahead of the elections.

    As the elections in the state are inching closer, the political parties are leaving no stones unturned to woo the voters.

    A few days back, Congress president Rahul Gandhi also visited the poll-bound state and held rallies.

    Karnataka will go to polls on May 12 to elect representatives to the 225-member state assembly. The results will be out on May 15.

People fed up of Congress misrule: Ravi Shankar Prasad
  • Ahead of the Karnataka assembly elections, Union minister and BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad on Sunday said that people are fed up of Congress party's 'misrule' and assured that wave of change is about to come.

    "People of Karnataka are tired of Congress' misrule in the state. A change will definitely take place there. BJP government will work for the development of the state," he told ANI.

    He further took a dig at Congress 'Jan Akrosh' rally and said that it shows party's greed for power.

    Congress president Rahul Gandhi led the rally which highlighted the alleged failure and corruption of the Prime Minister Modi-led government.

    The minister expressed ire over Rahul's irresponsible attitude and alleged him of using derogatory words against Prime Minister Modi in the rally.

    "The words he used against our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi is shameful, irresponsible and baseless," said the minister.

    Earlier in the day, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President, Amit Shah, said that the rally organised by the Congress highlighted the increasing irrelevance of a "dynasty and their courtiers," who were overthrown from one state after another in the elections.

    The rally comes ahead of the Karnataka Assembly elections, which will take place on May 12.

Tagore's work left indelible impression on everyone: PM Modi
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday recalled the contribution of Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore in the world of literature.

    Addressing the nation on 43rd edition of 'Mann Ki Baat', the Prime Minister responded to a topic from Aayan Kumar Banerjee, a citizen of North 24 Parganas in West Bengal.

    "Gurudev Tagore was a personality full of knowledge and intellect whose writings left an indelible mark on everyone," he said.

    "Rabindra Nath was a personality full of talent, a multi-directional persona but a teacher in his inner self can always be felt. He has written in Gitanjali - " He, who has the knowledge has the responsibility to impart it to the students," Prime Minister Modi noted.

    "I do not know Bangla but had the habit of rising early since my childhood and in Eastern India, radio broadcasts start early while in Western India these start a bit late. I have a faint memory that probably around 5:30 in the morning, Rabindra Sangeet used to be broadcast on radio and I had developed a habit to listen to Rabindra Sangeet on radio. And, whenever I got a chance to listen to poems like Anandloke and Aaguner, Poroshmoni, I used to feel as if my mind was being energised. You must also have been impressed by Rabindra Sangeet and his poems. I pay my respectful homage to Rabindra Nath Tagore," he said.

Cong rally is 'Parivar Akrosh' not 'Jan Akrosh': Amit Shah
  • Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah on Sunday tore into the Congress party, saying that the 'Jan Akrosh' rally organised by the latter was, in reality, a 'Parivar Akrosh' rally.

    Talking to his Twitter handle, the BJP chief said that the rally organised by the Congress highlighted the increasing irrelevance of a "dynasty and their courtiers," who were overthrown from one State after another in the elections.

    "A dynasty and their courtiers, who were sent out of state after state by 'Jan Aadesh' now pretend to represent 'Jan Akrosh.' Today's Congress rally is nothing but a 'Parivar Akrosh Rally' which highlights their increasing irrelevance," Amit Shah tweeted.

    "During today's 'Parivar Akrosh Rally' you will see abject India-hatred on display. After all, the Congress cannot digest that 125 crore Indians have seen through their anti-development and highly divisive politics. Congress' efforts to create divisions are fully exposed!" he added.

    He further said that the Congress party couldn't digest that the people of the country saw through their "anti-development and highly divisive politics".

    He added that the party stood exposed in their effort to create divisions.

    "If the Congress wants to see 'Jan Akrosh' they should see the results of the election after election, where their Party has been comprehensively defeated across the length and breadth of India. People are not tolerating Congress' lies, empty promises, corruption and communalism," Shah tweeted.

    Further, taking a dig at the party, the BJP chief said that if the Congress party wanted to see 'Jan Akrosh,' they should see the results of an election.

    Shah questioned the Congress party for 'disallowing" the Parliament from functioning and preventing the formation of an OBC commission.

    He even asked Congress president Rahul Gandhi to apologise to the nation for "trampling over every possible institution in the country just because of their power hungry nature."

    "If the Congress really wants to know why is there Jan Akrosh, they should answer in today's rally why did they disallow Parliament to function. They should answer why has the Congress prevented the formation of an OBC commission that gives justices to backward sections?" asked Shah.

    "I also hope the Congress President apologizes to the nation for the Party's efforts to trample over every possible institution in the country just because of their power-hungry nature. The country is tired of these negative and arm-twisting tactics of the Congress," he added.

    Rahul Gandhi showcased 'Jan Aakrosh' (public outrage) over an alleged failure and corruption of the Prime Minister Modi-led government.

    This was Gandhi's first rally in Delhi since assuming the post of Congress president.

    The rally comes ahead of the Karnataka Assembly elections, which will take place on May 12.

Business Affairs

Cashback to businesses, discounts to consumers for digital transactions on anvil
  • The government is working on a proposal to incentivise digital transactions by providing cashbacks to businesses and price benefits to consumers, a source said.

    As per the proposal being worked out by the Revenue Department, consumers paying through the digital mode would be offered a discount over the maximum retail price (MRP). The discount would be capped at Rs 100.

    Businesses, on the other hand, could get a cashback based on the quantum of turnover through the digital mode.

    The proposals to encourage digital transactions are likely to be placed before the GST Council, chaired by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and comprising state ministers, on May 4.

    According to the source, the issue of providing incentive for digital transaction was discussed at a meeting held in the Prime Minister's Office.

    During the meeting, three possible modes of incentivising businesses to go in for digital transactions were discussed. Apart from cashbacks, a proposal to allow businesses to obtain tax credit on the basis of turnover obtained through digital mode was also discussed.

    This would have worked like the input tax credit mechanism wherein businesses can credit for taxes paid on raw materials.

    Besides, the option of allowing businesses to offset their GST liability up to a threshold for using digital transaction was also deliberated.

    The source said the Revenue Department has zeroed in on the option of cashback to businesses based on a threshold of digital transaction. This would be easier to implement and cannot be misused by unscrupulous elements.

    As a matter of precaution, the department will ascertain the veracity of the digital transactions reported by the businesses and then credit the cashback to their bank account.

    During the PMO meeting, it was also discussed if any incentives could be given for digital transaction from the direct taxes side.

    The direct tax department, the source said, has outlined the steps it had taken to discourage cash dealings. Besides, for small businesses opting for presumptive taxation scheme, it had reduced the rate for calculation of deemed profit from 8 per cent to 6 per cent in respect of the amount of total turnover or gross receipts received through banking channel/digital means.

    The source said since the incentives would have been on the basis of the turnover of the businesses, it was felt that the indirect tax department would be better placed to incentivise the businesses and hence the GST Council would have to give a final go ahead.

Reduce 'infant mortality' rate among start-ups: Suresh Prabhu
  • Union Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu on Saturday said that the existing start-ups in India was much more than the official records show. The current figure of young ventures in the country is grossly understated, he said.

    The Minister was speaking at the Goa Start-Up and Innovation Day which was an interactive programme organised by the Goa government to provide a platform to new ventures to explore various opportunities.

    According to Prabhu, India officially has 20,000 start-ups across the country, but this is a grossly understated number. During his keynote address, Prabhu recalled his recent visit to the Gujarat University where he found young boys aged 17-18 years with incredible ideas. "These boys are ahead of others. They are going to be successful businessmen of the future," Prabhu said. 
    The Commerce Minister said a phenomenon like 'infant mortality'- which prevails among human beings and refers to deaths of young children - also exists in start-ups and this has proved detrimental to their growth. He said: "Infant mortality exists in case of start-ups as most of the start-ups are not going beyond their first few months of activity. So we must also work on reducing this infant mortality rate."

    Start-ups in India showed promising growth of 36 per cent during 2017.

    "There has been 36 per cent growth in start-ups in the year 2017 which I am monitoring every day. It (the growth) will accelerate. Start-ups is going to be an extremely important activity. Of the total USD 18 billion invested in start-ups, USD 14 billion were in the last year," he said.

    The Minister further said that some of the employees of large companies have launched their own start-ups. A total of USD 217 million has been invested in employee-driven start-ups in India, he added.

India likely to clock 7.5 per cent growth in FY19: Deutsche Bank
  • The Indian economy is witnessing a "cyclical upswing" and the country is likely clock a GDP growth of 7.5 per cent this financial year, says a Deutsche Bank research report.

    "Our current growth forecast for 2018-19 is 7.5 per cent (RBI estimate is 7.4 per cent), which will mark an improvement from the 6.7 per cent likely outturn in 2017-18," the global financial services major said.

    The Reserve Bank expects India's economic growth rate to strengthen to 7.4 per cent in the current fiscal, from 6.6 per cent in 2017-18, on account of revival in investment activity.

    The report, however, noted that higher global oil prices, risk of an earlier than anticipated rate hike cycle from the RBI and the potential negative impact of the banking sector frauds on credit and overall growth are some of the factors that pose downside risk to its baseline GDP estimate.

    Brent crude prices are currently hovering around USD 75 a barrel, which is up 12 per cent from end December 2017 levels.

    According to the Deutsche Bank research report, a USD 10 increase in oil prices can shave off growth by about 10 bps while other factors pose about 15-20 bps additional downside risks.

    Notwithstanding the fact that higher oil prices can potentially slow the pace of recovery, economic momentum will continue to improve 'sequentially in 2018-19 and beyond', the report noted.

    "Capacity utilisation has started to improve, which should incentivise private sector capex recovery with a lag, GST collections have picked up thanks to the implementation of e-way bill, NPA resolution is underway and the government is likely to remain focused on pushing infrastructure investment, which should bode well for the growth outlook going forward," the report added.

Reliance Industries to shut oil, gas fields in KG-D6 block
  • Reliance Industries plans to shut oil and gas production at its main fields in KG-D6 block in the coming months and begin complying with the government's guidelines for decommissioning facilities in the Bay of Bengal block where output has hit its lowest ever.

    "Adhering to Site Restoration Guidelines issued by Government of India, RIL submitted Bank Guarantee for Decommissioning activity for existing producing fields (D1D3 and MA)," the company said in an investor presentation post announcing its fourth quarter earnings.

    RIL had till date made 19 oil and gas discoveries in the Krishna Godavri basin. Of these, MA -- the only oil discovery in the block -- began production in September 2008. Dhirubhai-1 and 3 (D1 and D3) fields went onstream in April 2009.

    While the company did not provide any timelines for decommissioning and stopping of production at the fields that have witnessed output drop to a fourth of peak, sources privy to the development said MA field may be shut as early as October after the current lease of a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) unit, which processes output from the field, expires.

    E-mails sent to RIL and its partner BP plc of UK, which holds 30 per cent stake, for comments remained unanswered.

    The government's Site Restoration Guidelines provide for a one year notice for decommissioning of facilities.

    In the presentation, RIL said "average production of gas (from KG-D6 block in January-March 2018) was 4.3 million standard cubic metres per day and oil and condensate was at 1,865 barrels per day."

    The gas output, which was lower than 4.9 mmscmd in the October-December quarter of 2017, was made up of output from D1 and D3 and MA fields. It said this was due to "continuing natural decline" at the fields.

    RIL had in the field development plan for D1 and D3 proposed a capital expenditure of USD 8.836 billion. For developing Dhirubhai-26 or MA oilfield, it had in 2006 proposed to invest USD 2.234 billion, which was scaled down to USD 1.96 billion in 2012.

    The fields were in the investment plans supposed to last a minimum 15 years but have extinguished in less than a decade.

    KG-D6 fields had hit a peak of 69.43 mmscmd in March 2010 before water and sand ingress shut down wells. This peak output comprised 66.35 mmscmd from D1 and D3, the largest of the gas discoveries on the KG-D6 block, and 3.07 mmscmd from MA field.

    Besides the fall in output from D1 and D3, gas production from MA field, which had hit a peak of 6.78 mmscmd in January 2012, too has dropped.

    RIL in the presentation said it is now developing three sets of discoveries -- R-Cluster, Satellite Cluster and MJ fields in KG-D6 block at a cost of Rs 40,000 crore. These fields together would bring 30-35 mmscmd of peak ouput. Initial gas will begin flowing from 2020.

    "R-Cluster development activities commenced; drilling to commence by 2Q FY19," it said.

IPOs stay above issue price; 65% new entrants give robust returns in 2017-18
  • The primary market emerged as a money spinner for investors in 2017-18, with 65 per cent of the newly listed companies trading well above their issue prices, giving returns of up to three times.

    Out of 41 companies that made their debut in the past fiscal, 27 are trading above their issue prices fixed after their IPOs. The remaining 14 firms, however, have failed to attract investors and are quoting below their issue price, an analysis of the new entrants on the NSE showed.

    These 27 firms have rewarded investors with returns in the range of 1-325 per cent, with six of them reaching over 100 per cent till the last trading date (April 27).

    Shankara Building Products, which made its market debut in April last year, has seen the steepest surge in its share price and is trading 325 per cent higher than the issue price.

    The initial share-sale offer of Apex Frozen Foods has given a return to the tune of 270 per cent while Salasar Techno Engineering has rewarded investors with a return of 258 per cent.

    Besides, Astron Paper and Board Mills and PSP Projects have jumped about 174 per cent each over their respective issue prices. Further, AU Small Finance Bank has rallied over 103 per cent from its issue price.

    Others that have given impressive returns are CDSL, Dixon Technologies (India) Ltd, Bandhan Bank, Cochin Shipyard, Godrej Agrovet, Prataap Snacks as well as Security and Intelligence Services (India) Ltd.

    "It's not that all companies' prices have flared up unmindful of realities. There has been exuberance for some issues because they are truly high potential. Either they are from virgin sectors like insurance or from genuinely high growth consumer facing businesses.

    "Some buoyancy or appetite surely comes in from the demand side but that depends on discretion of fund managers to judiciously pick right stocks in their portfolios," Aashish Somaiyaa, CEO, Motilal Oswal AMC told PTI.

    In contrast, as many as 14 companies have failed to stay afloat as they are trading much below their respective issue prices.

    S Chand has seen its shares plunge by 41 percent, while shares of General Insurance Corporation of India have fallen by 22 per cent and The New India Assurance Company has shed about 17 per cent.

    Interestingly, public sector insurers -- General Insurance Corporation of India and The New India Assurance Company -- have been trading well below their respective issue prices, while the same has not been the case with private sector players.

    Shares of HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company have been trading 79 per cent above the issue price and those of ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company and SBI Life Insurance Company have risen by over 13 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively.

    "One of the key determinants for long term investors like us is quality and continuity of management. Insurance especially is a long haul industry with choice of business and underwriting playing a key role," Somaiyaa said.

    "While many PSUs have excellent management the short tenures of key personnel and discontinuity of strategies can make it difficult to formulate an investment hypothesis. Further in certain products and segments of distribution there has been steady value migration from PSU to private players," he added.

    Meanwhile, the BSE's benchmark Sensex has climbed by over 10 per cent in the last financial year and is currently hovering at close to 35,000 points.

    In the fiscal gone by, a total of 45 companies came out with their initial public offers (IPOs) raising a record over Rs 82,000 crore. The previous high was in 2007-08, when companies mobilized more than Rs 41,000 crore through initial share-sales.

    Further, a host of companies are rushing in to file their draft prospectus with market regulator Sebi for launching their IPOs. Somaiya believes the performance of future public issues will clearly depend on individual merit and demerit.

    "The key positive is that in the last couple of years many excellent businesses have got listed either for growth capital or for PE (private equity) exits. These have been great opportunities for investors as they were hitherto in private domain," he added.

    According to Somaiyaa, if there are companies belonging to a sector with a long and sustainable trajectory of growth and these firms are able to differentiate themselves then undoubtedly there is "merit" in considering them.

    General Awareness

    United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
    • Context: A four-day Asia Pacific Regional Workshop of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), jointly hosted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and UNCCD Secretariat, to build the capacity of the Asia-Pacific Region to monitor and report on land degradation, was recently held in New Delhi.

      About UNCCD:

      Established in 1994, the United Nations to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management.
      It is the only convention stemming from a direct recommendation of the Rio Conference’s Agenda 21.
      To help publicise the Convention, 2006 was declared “International Year of Deserts and Desertification”.
      The Convention addresses specifically the arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as the drylands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples can be found.
      Its 197 Parties aim, through partnerships, to implement the Convention and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The end goal is to protect land from over-use and drought, so it can continue to provide food, water and energy.
      The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is the nodal Ministry for this Convention.

      Way ahead:

      The new UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework is the most comprehensive global commitment to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) in order to restore the productivity of vast expanses of degraded land, improve the livelihoods of more than 1.3 billion people, and reduce the impacts of drought on vulnerable populations to build.

      By sustainably managing land and striving to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality, now and in the future, not only will the impact of climate change be reduced, but a conflict over natural resources will be avoided.

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