Current Affairs Current Affairs - 12 April 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 12 April 2018

General Affairs 

First Opposition, Now Bihar Government Figures Contradict PM's 8.5 Lakh Toilet Claim
  • Current Affairs - 12 April 2018, Current Awareness, General Knowledge,
    A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that 8.5 lakh toilets were constructed in Bihar in a week, the Bihar government's own records contradict PM Modi's claim.

    During the time span mentioned by the Prime Minister, the pictures of 6.6 lakh toilets were uploaded on the government's Management Information System (MIS), a software that stores the pictures and geographical coordinates of a particular construction so as to avoid duplication.

    And the number of 6.6 lakh spans three categories --- upgradation of some old toilets, completion of projects that were under way and toilets that were initiated and construction of new toilets.

    "In the past one week, over 8.5 lakh toilets have been constructed in Bihar and that is not an easy task to do. The speed  and development is not a mean feat," PM Modi had said at the concluding ceremony of Champaran Satyagraha centenary celebrations in Bihar's Motihari on Tuesday.

    Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav and Sanjay Nirupam of the Congress had mocked the claim, saying it wasn't practically possible.

    Sources in the Bihar government say 8.5 lakh toilets were constructed between March 13 and April 9. And quite a lot of groundwork that went into achieving that number.

    Over the past year and a half, nearly 32,000 swachhagrahis or cleanliness ambassadors were inducted and nearly 40,000 masons were trained by the government.

    The sanitation coverage in Bihar, in other words the number of households having a toilet, is at 52 per cent, way behind the national average of 80 per cent.

    Since 2006, the state government had a scheme called the Lohiya Swachh Yojana, long before the centre announced the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan after the NDA government came to power in 2014. Currently, both the sanitation drives have been merged and being run as Lohiya Swachh Bihar Abhiyan, named after socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia.

    Under the scheme, the estimated cost of building a toilet is nearly Rs. 12,000. While the centre funds 60 per cent of the amount, the rest is borne by the state.

Mark Zuckerberg Says His Own Data Was Shared By Cambridge Analytica
  • Current Affairs - 12 April 2018, Current Awareness, General Knowledge,
    Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday told lawmakers that his own personal data was included in that of 87 million or so Facebook users that was improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

    But he pushed back on congress members' suggestions that users do not have enough control of their data on Facebook in the wake of the privacy scandal at the world's largest social media network.

    "Every time that someone chooses to share something on Facebook ... there is a control. Right there. Not buried in the settings somewhere but right there," the 33-year-old internet magnate told the US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee.

    Once again wearing a dark suit instead of his usual gray T-shirt, the hearing was Zuckerberg's second in two days. On Tuesday, he took questions for nearly five hours in a US Senate hearing without making any further promises to support new legislation or change how the social network does business, foiling attempts by senators to pin him down.

    Investors were impressed with his initial performance. Shares in Facebook posted their biggest daily gain in nearly two years on Tuesday, closing up 4.5 percent. They were down 0.7 percent in early trading on Wednesday.

    Facebook has been consumed by turmoil for nearly a month, since it came to light that millions of users' personal information was wrongly harvested from the website by Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy that has counted US President Donald Trump's election campaign among its clients.

    Zuckerberg faced broad concerns from members of Congress about how Facebook shares user data.

    "How can consumers have control over their data when Facebook does not have control over the data?" asked Representative Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce committee.

    The latest estimate of affected users is up to 87 million.

    Patience with the social network had already worn thin among users, advertisers and investors after the company said last year that Russia used Facebook for years to try to sway US politics, an allegation Moscow denies.

    mark zuckerberg reuters
    The hearing was Mark Zuckerberg's second in two days. (Reuters)

    Lawmakers have sought assurances that Facebook can effectively police itself, and few came away from Tuesday's hearing expressing confidence in the social network.

    "I don't want to vote to have to regulate Facebook, but by God, I will," Republican Senator John Kennedy told Zuckerberg on Tuesday. "A lot of that depends on you."

    Zuckerberg deflected requests to support specific legislation. Pressed repeatedly by Democratic Senator Ed Markey to endorse a proposed law that would require companies to get people's permission before sharing personal information, Zuckerberg agreed to further talks.

    "In principle, I think that makes sense, and the details matter, and I look forward to having our team work with you on fleshing that out," Zuckerberg said.

Can't Compel Forces To Buy 'Made In India' Weapons, Says Defence Minister
  • Current Affairs - 12 April 2018, Current Awareness, General Knowledge,At a prestigious exhibition that seeks to project India as one of the major defence manufacturing hubs, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the army was free to buy defence equipment from anywhere in the world.

    While India's military remains the world's biggest buyer of defence equipment, the country is aspiring to become a key manufacturer and eventually an exporter.

    To that end, the four-day DefExpo this year is focusing on India's ability to successfully manufacture defence systems - a shift from offering foreign firms a platform to showcase products the country could buy. This year's exhibition has been titled "India: the emerging defence manufacturing hub".

    Speaking to reporters at exhibition in Thiruvidanthai near Chennai, Ms Sitharaman said she can't "force the forces" to buy only "Made in India" equipment. While it would be nice if that were to happen, the armed forces were at liberty to pick and choose the equipment they need from anywhere in the world, she said.

    In the past, home grown military equipment has been handled with caution. Even top-of-the-line systems like the Tejas fighter planes or the Akash missile system had to undergo years of testing and tweaking before the army expressed satisfaction.

    Tejas was inducted by the Air Force in 2016 after a wait of nearly three decades. The supersonic surface-to-air missile Akash was inducted in 2015 after an equally long wait.

    For a manufacturer, this becomes a stumbling block, since most buyers take note of whether the host country is successfully using the product.

    "By 2025, India wants to go from being an importer to exporter," for military equipment, said Dr Ajay Kumar, secretary in the Ministry of Defence. With that aim, two defence production corridors -- one in Uttar Pradesh and another in Tamil Nadu -- have already been announced by the government.

    Today, the minister said there are "demands" from a few foreign countries to buy missiles from India, but declined to reveal any names. "There would be more opportunities than challenges" to help the country's defence manufacturers earn, she added.

First Smart Fence Along Bangladesh Border In Assam Is Now Operational
  • Current Affairs - 12 April 2018, Current Awareness, General Knowledge,
    The first 'smart fence' pilot project to plug vulnerable gaps along India's borders has been rolled out in Assam on a riverine stretch with Bangladesh, the Border Security Force chief said.

    The project is a part of the Modi government's ambitious plan to completely seal the India-Pakistan and the India-Bangladesh borders in the next few years. It is called the comprehensive integrated border management system (CIBMS).

    Border Security Force Director General KK Sharma told news agency PTI that the maiden testing of technical surveillance and alarm gadgetry was recently operationalised on the 55-km-long stretch in Dhubri, across the Brahmaputra.

    "The rolling out of the CIBMS pilot project has been initiated recently in Assam's Dhubri area. This is a riverine border area and hence no fence could be erected here," Mr Sharma said.

    At present, BSF troops use speed boats to guard this patch, which is highly prone to illegal migration and cattle smuggling due to the changing course of the mighty river.

    No permanent structure - like border posts - can be erected in the area.

    The Director General said a similar project will be launched this month along the India-Pakistan International Border, in two stretches of 5 km each, in Jammu.

    The technology being tested in the Dhubri region is a mix of surveillance and warning systems, he said, adding, he would not want to go into details about the devices being deployed.

    The BSF chief said more than "2,000 kilometre of the border" along Pakistan and Bangladesh will be brought under the ambit of the 'smart fence project' - that uses infra-red cameras and radars - out of the total of a little over 6,300 km of the two borders it is tasked to guard.

    "In fact, on the Pakistan side, we may go in for CIBMS even at places where we have fencing because we would like to be doubly sure. Roughly, about 2,000-plus kilometre length on both the borders has been identified as being vulnerable or as being without fence where we need to implement the CIBMS in the days to come.

    "This rolling out process for the entire distance of 2,000 km will take about 3-5 years time," he said.

    When asked if the force was not able to get the "required technology" to plug these vulnerable gaps on the two frontiers, prone to infiltration and smuggling of arms and drugs, the Director General said that was not the case.

    "No, it is not like that. All this technology is available. The problem lies in integrating all these things. Integration of all these gadgets and bringing all these on the same platform and then taking a common feed to the border out post, that is the challenge," he said.

    Mr Sharma added that once a software is created which integrates all these things, then the BSF personnel sitting in the border post will have a picture which is shown on a monitor and the gadgets and technology will be "guarding the border for us and if something is amiss, an alarm will be created." 

    "At this juncture, my men will respond," the Director General said.

    Talking about the technology source for this multi-crore project aimed to fortify Indian borders, Mr Sharma said most of these are being manufactured abroad but are easily available.

    "There is nothing unique or scarce about them. The technology is mostly developed abroad but India is fast catching up. There are Indian players also who are trying to develop these technologies within the country," Mr Sharma said.

    The nearly-2.5-lakh-personnel-strong BSF is the country's largest border guarding force, and the Sashastra Seema Bal (Nepal and Bhutan borders) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (China border) being the other two paramilitaries under the command of the union home ministry.

Widespread Concern That Electoral System Is Being Undermined By Money, Muscle Power: Manmohan Singh
  • Current Affairs - 12 April 2018, Current Awareness, General Knowledge,
    Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said there was widespread concern that the country's electoral system was being undermined by the use of money and muscle power and stressed on the need to effect electoral reforms to check the menace.

    Addressing the first S B Rangnekar Memorial Oration at the Panjab University, his alma mater, Dr Singh said India's electoral system has succeeded against great odds and has destroyed feudal systems of government. It has opened up opportunities for the common man, without any social, economic or political privilege whatsoever by birth, to occupy the highest positions of power, he said.

    "There is, however, today widespread concern that our electoral system is being undermined by money power and muscle power," he said addressing the gathering.

    "The faith of the people in democratic elections as the best system to select a government that would govern in the common interest is today being eroded as much by a sustained campaign to attack democratic institutions and elected representatives as by the increasing political corruption and the capture of political parties and elected office by vested interests," he said.

    Electoral reforms to cleanse elections of money and muscle power and to maintain integrity of elected officials are vital areas for securing and strengthening India's democracy, said the former prime minister.

    Talking about renewing commitment to democracy, Dr Singh invoked B R Ambedkar and said, "Democracy requires not only that all of us must get involved, but that we must each ensure that everyone has an equal voice." 

    "Dr. Ambedkar once worried that the day may come when people may prefer government for the people to government by and of the people. He saw that as a great danger. On this 70th anniversary, we must ensure that we do not fall into the trap of choosing government for the people over government by and of the people." 

    The topic of Mr Singh's address was: The Seventieth Anniversary of our Independence - Strengthening the roots of our Democracy.

    "We need to ask ourselves whether we are losing patience with democracy and turning to more authoritarian alternatives that may well yield superior short-term results but in the long term will end up destroying our country and all the achievements of the last seventy years," he said.

    "Governance is complex. It is messy. It is slow. Its benefits are long term. It requires great patience. Above all, democracy is a system in which people without privilege have a decisive voice in governance. If this is lost, democracy becomes meaningless," said Dr Singh.

    "Democracy requires not only that all of us must get involved, but that we must each ensure that everyone has an equal voice," he said.

    Dwelling on the issue of equality, Dr Singh said it is the keystone of democracy. "And it is one of the greatest challenges faced by India in building our democracy because of the persistence in our society of feudal, hierarchical ideas of inequality based on caste, class and gender." 

    Dr Singh said, "Speaking on November 25, 1949 to the Constituent Assembly about his concerns on the challenge of transforming India into a society based on equality, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar said, [In our Republic], in politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognizing the principle of one-man-one-vote and one-vote-one-value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one-man-one-value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? 

    "If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which this Assembly has so laboriously built up." 

    Dr Singh said that the country's first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru warned in 1952 in one of his letters to chief ministers, "if poverty and low standards continue then democracy for all its fine institutions and ideals, ceases to be a liberating force." 

    "The economic liberalisation that I was associated with in 1991-1996 (as the finance minister) and 2004-2014 (as the prime minister) was, above all, a process of opening up new opportunities for people born without social and economic privilege. This was for me the guiding vision behind our economic reforms," he said.

    He said democracy is more than a system of governance.

    "Equality, freedom and fraternity are the three values that constitute the life breath of democracy - its very essence," he said..

Business Affairs

Saudi Aramco signs MoU to build Rs 3 lakh crore refinery in Maharashtra
  • Current Affairs - 12 April 2018, Current Awareness, General Knowledge,
    Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has signed a pact with a consortium of Indian oil companies to jointly develop and build a mega integrated refinery and petrochemicals complex Ratnagiri Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd (RRPCL), in Maharashtra. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed on sidelines of the International Energy Forum (IEF) conference in the capital earlier today.

    The strategic partnership brings together crude supply, resources, technologies, experience and expertise of these multiple oil companies with an established commercial presence around the world. The Indian consortium consisting of IOCL, HPCL and BPCL will own a 50% stake in the joint venture while Saudi Aramco will hold the remaining half. According to a statement by the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Saudi Aramco may also seek to include a strategic partner to co-invest in the project.

    Dharmendra Pradhan, the Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, said that this project, with an estimated investment of over Rs 3 lakh crore, would bring huge benefits to the region and the entire country in terms of large-scale employment generation, direct and indirect, as well as all-round economic development.

    According to the statement, a pre-feasibility study for the refinery has been completed, and the parties are now finalising the project's overall configuration. The refinery will be capable of processing 1.2 million barrels of crude oil per day (60 million metric tonnes per annum). It will not only produce a range of refined petroleum products, including petrol and diesel meeting BS-VI fuel efficiency norms, but also provide feedstock for the integrated petrochemicals complex, capable of producing around 18 million tonnes per annum of petrochemical products.

    Furthermore, the project will also include the development of associated facilities such as a logistics, crude oil and product storage terminals, raw water supply project as well as centralised and shared utilities.

    If things go according to plan, RRPCL will rank among the world's largest refining and petrochemicals projects and go a long way in meeting India's fast-growing fuels and petrochemicals demand.

    Saudi Aramco President and CEO, Amin H. Nasser, said that the MoU marks a significant development in India's Oil & Gas Sector, adding that participating in this mega project will allow Saudi Aramco to go beyond the role of crude oil supplier to a fully integrated position which supports India's future energy demands.

    What's left unsaid is that this move will give Saudi Arabia a new outlet for its oil. In fact, according to Reuters, buying stakes in refineries is the strategy that the kingdom has adopted to expand its market share in Asia and fend off rivals. Saudi Arabia is competing with Iraq to be India's top oil supplier. That apart, Saudi Aramco, the world's biggest oil producer, is moving to invest in refineries overseas to help lock in demand for its crude ahead of an initial public offering expected later this year, or the next.

Tata Group may not bid for Air India as terms not favourable: Report
  • Current Affairs - 12 April 2018, Current Awareness, General Knowledge,
    Tata Group is unlikely to consider a bid for Air India as the government's terms are just too onerous, Reuters reported today. The report suggests three terms - merger with existing airline, job security of staffs and ownership of debts - that may have deterred the Tata Group from buying the national carrier.

    Tata Group till few months ago was seen as a potential bidder for the national airline. Last month, the government came out with a detailed preliminary information memorandum on the national carrier's stake sale. As per the memorandum, the winning bidder cannot merge the airline with existing businesses and they will also have to bear the responsibility of a massive debt.

    Given that the Tata already owns stakes in two airline joint-ventures, the group is clueless how a deal would be workable under such conditions, the report said citing a source. According to the source, Air India has too much debt and there is little clarity on what a buyer would be allowed to do with the airlines large workforce. "Anyone who puts money upfront ... even for Tata to put in that kind of money, it would want complete control," Reuters quoted another source as saying.

    The government in its proposal has included some really tough clauses such as the winning bidder would be required to stay invested in the airline for at least three years, the bidder should have a minimum net worth of Rs 5,000 crore, each bidder should have positive profit after tax in at least three of the immediately preceding five financial years.

    Within days of the memorandum, IndiGo and JetAirways opted out of the race. First, IndiGo President and whole time Director Aditya Ghosh put out a statement, saying: "From day one, IndiGo has expressed its interest primarily in the acquisition of Air India's international operation and Air India Express. However, that option is not available under the government's current disinvestment plan for Air India."

    And days after, Jet Airways Deputy CEO & CFO Amit Agarwal in a statement said: "We welcome the government move to privatise Air India. It is a bold step. However, considering the terms of offer in the information memorandum and based on our review, we are not participating in the process." There were quite a few aviation players who were interested before the government put out the detailed memorandum that included Tata as well.

    Last year in October, Tata Sons Executive Chairman N Chandrasekaran in an interview had said that the group was interested in buying Air India but was waiting for the details.

    Speaking in detail about what he thinks on Air India privatisation, he said: "We still don't have all the details. Every business proposal will be very seriously looked at and we will look at that (Air India). Definitely. But currently we don't have the data... there are so many different groups within Air India and then there is real estate, there is debt, there is liabilities and we got to look at all of that, but we will definitely look at it."

    Air India was founded by JRD Tata as Tata Airlines in 1932 which was nationalised in 1953.

Delayed payments troubling flagship rural employment guarantee scheme, allege civil society groups
  • Current Affairs - 12 April 2018, Current Awareness, General Knowledge,
    The central government is failing to ensure timely payments for the work carried out by labourers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MN-NREGA) scheme in the past few months, complains a civil society group.

    The NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, a group comprising of workers' collectives, trade unions, organisations and individuals that closely track India's flagship employment guarantee scheme, says that 99 per cent of the Fund Transfer Orders (FTOs) for NREGA wage payments sent to the Public Finance Management (PFMS) in April 2018 remains unprocessed. For the month of March, the percentage of unprocessed payments or FTOs stands at 86. Almost 64 per cent of the FTOs of February also remain unprocessed, they complain.

    It was in January 2016 that the central government introduced the National Electronic Fund Management System (NEFMS) to streamline the process of NREGA wage payments. Civil society groups allege that the system had only tightened the ministry's control over NREGA funds as it 'routinely withholds the processing of FTOs'.

    "Last year, the Ministry froze processing of FTOs worth over Rs 3,000 crores due to lack of NREGA funds. It may be recalled that in August 2017, the Ministry of Rural Development demanded a supplementary NREGA budget of Rs 17,000 crore, but the Ministry of Finance approved only Rs 7,000 crore, that too in January 2018. As inadequate funds should not be a problem at the beginning of a financial year, the reason for the current non-processing of FTOs is not clear", Jean Dreze, a development economist and activist says.  

    In an interim directive in ongoing public interest litigation by Swaraj Abhiyan, the Supreme Court had instructed the government to ensure that workers are paid within 15 days of doing work. The activists say that the situation of long and unpredictable delays in NREGA wage payments continues despite the Supreme Court directive. Incidentally, there is a clause which entitles the workers for compensation if the payments are delayed beyond a fixed time.

    Last year, the activists had produced documents to show that the finance ministry had itself accepted the problem of partial payment of compensation, but stated that the full payment for the entire duration of delay will be a heavy financial burden on the government. "As the Modi government failed to curtail NREGA through overt measures such as restricting the programme to the poorest districts or reducing the wage - material ratio, it has resorted to undermining the Act by starving it of funds", the Morcha states. 

Digital transformation to contribute $154 billion to India's GDP by 2021, says Microsoft
  • Current Affairs - 12 April 2018, Current Awareness, General Knowledge,
    Digital transformation by companies can contribute $154 billion to India's GDP by 2021, says new report. This will increase the country's growth rate by 1% every year. 

    The "Unlocking the Economic Impact of Digital Transformation in Asia Pacific" report by Microsoft in partnership with IDC Asia/Pacific surveyed 1,560 respondents from mid and large-sized organizations across 15 economies in the region. 

    In 2017, about 4% of India's GDP was derived from digital products and services created directly through the use of digital technologies, such as mobility, cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI), says the report. 

    "Within the next four years, it is estimated that nearly 60% of India's GDP will have a strong connection to the digital transformation trends," says Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India. "Organizations are increasingly deploying emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, and that will accelerate digital transformation led growth even further," he adds. 

    The study identified five key benefits that companies can have from digital transformation: greater productivity, improved customer advocacy, cost reduction, increased revenue from products and services and higher profit margin. 

    The study indicates that while 90% of organizations in India are in the midst of their digital transformation journey, only 7% in the entire region can be classified as leaders. These are organizations that have full or progressing digital transformation strategies, with at least one third of their revenue derived from digital products and services. In addition, these companies are seeing between 20 - 30% improvements in benefits across various business areas from their initiatives.

    The study indicates that leaders experience double the benefits of followers, and these improvements will be more pronounced by 2020. Almost half of leaders (48%) have a full digital transformation strategy in place.

    The study identified key differences between leaders and followers, which contribute to the improvements tracked:

     Leaders are more concerned about competitors and emergence of disruptive technologies: The digital economy has also given rise to new types of competitors, as well as emerging technologies such as AI that have contributed to the disruption of business models.

     Business agility and culture of innovation are key goals: When addressing business concerns, leaders are focused on creating a culture of agility and innovation to counter competition. Followers, on the other hand, are more focused on improving employee productivity and profitability.

     Measuring digital transformation successes: Organizations across Asia Pacific are starting to adopt new key performance indicators (KPI) to better measure their digital transformation initiatives, such as effectiveness of processes, data as a capital, and customer advocacy in the form of Net Promoter Score (NPS). As organizations realize the potential of data as the new oil for the digital economy, leaders are much more focused on leveraging data to grow revenue and productivity, and to transform business models.
     Leaders are more aware of challenges in their digital transformation journeys: In addition to skills and cybersecurity threats as key challenges, leaders have also identified the need to bolster their data capabilities through the use of advanced analytics to develop actionable insights in fast-moving markets.

     Leaders are looking to invest in AI and Internet of Things: Emerging technologies such as AI (including cognitive services and robotics) and IoT are areas where leaders are investing in for 2018. Besides these emerging technologies, leaders are also more interested in investing in big data analytics to mine data for actionable insights than others.

    The study suggests that companies need to focus on capitalizing their own data in order to gain new market insights, create new digital products and services, and monetize data through data sharing securely, and in collaboration with its ecosystem.

Sensex closes 25 points higher, Nifty holds 10,400 level; banking, oil & gas stocks sink
  • Current Affairs - 12 April 2018, Current Awareness, General Knowledge,

    The Sensex and Nifty closed marginally higher in volatile trade with consumer durables and metal stocks leading gain while oil and gas and banking stocks pulled the market lower. Sensex, which gained 861.18 points in the previous four sessions, closed 60 points or 0.18% higher at 33,940 level.

    The gauge hit an intra day high of 33,981 and low of 33,750 in rangebound trade on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Nifty closed 0.14% or 14.90 points higher at 10,417 level.

    TCS (2.85%), Sun Pharma (2.50%) and Hindustan Unilever (1.73%)  were the top gainers on Sensex.

    Adani Ports (2.42%), SBI (2.26%) and YES Bank (2.26%) were the top losers on the index.

    Banking stocks fell after govt bond yields rose over 4 percent in four days. The BSE bankex closed 195 points or 0.69% lower to 28, 173 level. Bank Nifty too closed 128 points or 0.51% lower at 25,098 level.

    Sameet Chavan, chief analyst, technical and derivatives at Angel Broking said, "As we had pointed out in the previous article, the index seems a bit tired and does not have the similar sort of strength we saw in last couple of weeks. This is quite evident as it has entered a strong resistance zone of 10400 - 10500. For the coming session, 10350 would now be seen as a key support for the Nifty. A sustainable slide below this would apply brakes on the recent relief rally. However, having said that if we look at today's recovery to close near day's high, it's an indication of index extending this move towards the recent swing high of 10478. Hence, first half an hour would be quite crucial and traders are advised to keep a close watch on this development."

    Oil marketing companies IOC (6.41%), HPCL (7.42%) and BPCL (7.42%) closed in the red after reports said the government has asked these firms to absorb Rs 1 per litre price hike.  The OMCs were top three losers on the NSE.

    The BSE oil and gas index fell 335 points or 2.23% to 14,715 level.

    Market breadth was negative with 1195 stocks closing higher against 1506 stocks ending in the red.

    Global markets

    Shares were mixed in Asia on Wednesday, trading in a narrow range after overnight gains following conciliatory comments on trade by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xi's pledge to cut tariffs on imported cars and improve intellectual property protection was seen as a step toward easing trade tensions.
    Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index lost 0.5 percent to 21,687.10 and the Kospi in South Korea declined 0.3 percent to 2,444.22. Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 0.6 percent to 30,898.14 and the Shanghai Composite index surged 0.6 percent to 3,208.08. Australia's S&P ASX 200 dipped 0.5 percent to 5,328.70. Shares rose in Taiwan and in most Southeast Asian markets.

    The S&P 500 index surged 1.7 percent to 2,656.87. The Dow gained 1.8 percent to 24,408. The Nasdaq composite added 2.1 percent to 7,094.30 and the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks advanced 1.9 percent, to 1,543.43. 

General Awareness

Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
Right to convert is part of fundamental right of choice

  • Context: The Supreme Court has held that a person’s right to choose a religion and marry is an intrinsic part of her meaningful existence. Neither the State nor “patriarchal supremacy” can interfere in her decision.


    The observations are part of the 61-page reasoned judgment published by the Supreme Court in the case of Hadiya, a 26-year-old Homeopathy student who converted to Islam and married a Muslim man. The case first gained attention as a case of forced conversion.

    Important observations made by the court (Key points for mains):

    Freedom of faith is essential to his/her autonomy; Choosing a faith is the substratum of individuality and sans it, the right of choice becomes a shadow.
    Matters of belief and faith, including whether to believe, are at the core of constitutional liberty. The Constitution exists for believers as well as for agnostics.
    Constitution protects the ability of each individual to pursue a way of life or faith to which she or he seeks to adhere. Matters of dress and of food, of ideas and ideologies, of love and partnership are within the central aspects of identity. Society has no role to play in determining choice of partners.
    The absolute right of an individual to choose a life partner is not in the least affected by matters of faith. The Constitution guarantees to each individual the right freely to practise, profess and propagate religion. Choices of faith and belief as indeed choices in matters of marriage lie within an area where individual autonomy is supreme.

    Article 25 and forced conversions:

    Article 25 states that subject to public order, morality and health, and to the other fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution, all persons are equally entitled to “freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.”

    The word “propagate” mean “to transmit or spread one’s religion by an exposition of its tenets,” but does not include the right to convert another person to one’s own religion. It has to be remembered that Article 25(1) guarantees ‘freedom of conscience’ to every citizen, and not merely to the followers of one particular religion and that, in turn, postulates that there is no fundamental right to convert another person to one’s own religion because if a person purposely undertakes the conversion of another person to his religion, as distinguished from his effort to transmit or spread the tenets of his religion, that would impinge on the ‘freedom of conscience’ guaranteed to all the citizens of the country alike.

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