Current Affairs Current Affairs - 14 April 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 14 April 2018

General Affairs 

NCERT Publishes Child Helpline Information In Textbooks
  • NCERT has published information about helplines for children in all course books from Class 6-12, giving around 26 crore school children access to them, the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry said.

    WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi had suggested the idea to Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar last year during a telephone conversation.

    "The National Council Of Educational Research And Training (NCERT) has published the information regarding Childline (1098) 24x7 Helpline for children and POCSO e-box on the back side of the front cover of all course books from Class 6 to Class 12. To equip the children with the information regarding the possible modes of protection/complaints," the ministry said in a statement.

    Ms Gandhi had requested her Cabinet colleague to popularise POCSO e-box and Childline 1098 through NCERT publications, screening of educational films on child sexual abuse in schools and having strict norms to employ the support staff.

    She thanked the HRD Minister and NCERT for implementing her suggestion and stated that parents, guardians and teachers should remain vigilant about children as well as their behaviour. Any suspected situation should be reported immediately on the Childline No.1098 and the POCSO e-Box, the ministry said.

    Through these course books, the information is expected to reach approximately 26 crore students in 15 lakh schools.

    NCERT was also advised to include a chapter in social science subject regarding the issues mentioned above.

    "The narrative may continue till Class 12 for having a reasonable impact on young minds. The information will not just reach these children, but is about to stay with them on daily basis. As a result, it is expected that the children will be more aware and they may use the Child Helpline or POCSO e-box, in case of any distress. The easy accessibility of this information in the hand of children themselves may also deter the prospective abusers, at least to a reasonable extent," the ministry said.

    The information via these books will also be available to 10 lakh teachers along with the family members and care givers of these children.

PM Modi Leads Day-Long BJP Fast To Target Congress For Parliament Washout
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi led a day-long fast on Thursday, signalling to the Congress that it was the opposition that should take the blame for the recent parliament washout. PM Modi was joined by top Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Rajnath Singh, Prakash Javadekar, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Piyush Goyal, as well as other BJP members of parliament, in observing the fast.

    Campaigning in Karnataka, where assembly election will be held on May 12, BJP president Amit Shah joined his party colleagues in pinning the budget session washout on disruptions caused by the Congress.

    "The Congress knew very well that they cannot debate in any of the houses, so they did not let the parliament function. The BJP was left with no choice but to go to the people as it is the biggest forum for us," Mr Shah said at a rally in the southern state where the BJP is backing its state chief BS Yeddyurappa to take the state from the Congress's Siddaramaiah.

    The Congress does not believe in democracy as it does not even have an internal party democracy, Mr Shah said.

    Most BJP Lok Sabha members sat on fast in their constituencies while Rajya Sabha members did so in their states.

    amit shah karnataka pti
    BJP president Amit Shah, while campaigning for the party in Karnataka, also observed the fast (PTI)

    PM Modi said his party's leaders must work to expose opposition parties that had throttled democracy by stalling parliament proceedings during the budget session. "Those who couldn't gain power in 2014, don't want the country to move forward. They didn't let parliament work for a single day. They killed democracy and we will observe the fast to expose them in front of the world," he said through teleconference, addressing MPs to mark social reformer Jyotiba Phule's birth anniversary.

    Health Minister JP Nadda went to the prime minister's constituency Varanasi; Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad went to Patna, and Minister of State for Rural Development Ram Kripal Yadav went to Digha in Bihar to observe the fast led by PM Modi.

    hema malini pti
    BJP leader Hema Malini observes a fast with party leaders (PTI)

    Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was in Chennai while Prakash Javadekar was in Benguluru. Union minister Vijay Goel was in Tamil Nadu. Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh was in Motihari in Bihar, Steel Minister Birender Singh was in Jind. Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu was in Delhi. BJP general secretaries Bhupender Yadav, Anil Jian and Arun Singh were in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, respectively.

    Earlier this week, Congress leaders led by Rahul Gandhi had observed a day's fast at Mahatma Gandhi's memorial Rajghat to protest against the violence during a "Bharat Bandh" called by Dalit groups protesting against what they believe the dilution of a law meant to protect them from atrocities.

Aadhaar-Based Paperless Air Travel Soon To Be A Reality In India: Reports
  • Even as Aadhaar's credibility is being debated, paperless travel could soon become a reality, according to an aviation expert.

    "Our research shows that 70 per cent of passengers in India said they would definitely use biometrics if given the option, removing the need to show a passport or boarding card at key points at airports," Maneesh Jaikrishna, Vice President -- Indian Subcontinet, Eastern and Southern Africa -- for SITA told IANS in an interview in Jaipur. He said this was well above the global average of 57 per cent.

    Leveraging India's national Aadhaar biometric identity system, together with SITA's Smart Path technology, would be able to provide secure and efficient journey through the airports, he added. SITA is IT and communications service provider for air transport.

    Maneesh Jaikrishna had announced at the recent Air Transport IT Summit in Jaipur that paperless travel would be a reality in India soon.

    Asked about paperless travel in view of Aadhaar's credibility being questioned on security issues, he said many more passengers were quickly adapting to innovations and technologies when it came to air travel. Passengers prefer technology to face-to-face interaction he said, referring to a Passenger IT Trends report.

    Talking about SITA's Smart Path which uses biometrics as the single identification token at every step in the passenger journey, Jaikrishna said it was easily integrated into existing airport infrastructure and airline systems. "This includes standard common-use, self-service equipment in the form of check-in kiosks, bag drop units and gates for secure access and boarding. These systems make rapid deployment easy and cost-effective," he added.

    He said the Smart Path works by integrating government systems and databases, allowing integrated immigration and border checks. Designed to be modular, it allows airports to implement whole journey identity management into the passenger self service.

    Speaking on efforts being taken on successful implementation of Digiyatra -- the governmenta's initiative to digitise air travel -- he said the Airports Authority of India had chosen three airports, including Varanasi and Vijayawada, to implement the biometric access system for passengers' boarding process. Such initiatives showed that Digiyatra would definitely be the future of air travel, he added.

    Further, as India is also forecasted to be among the top three passenger aviation markets by 2025 -- with air passenger numbers in India consistently seeing a double-digit growth over the past few years -- he said SITA was playing a critical role in transforming Indian aviation and the passenger experience through innovative ICT solution. 

    In last few years, airports in tier II and III cities had witnessed a robust growth rate. Hence, SITA was also set to provide modern infrastructure to these airports. "We have included the provision of modern and standardised infrastructure throughout the country. With the development of the UDAN scheme, we are seeing Tier II and III cities becoming a key area of development in terms of airports and connectivity," he said.

    At the Air Transport IT Summit 2018, SITA had announced that MIHAN (Multimodal International Hub Airport, Nagpur) would be deploying SITA's technology like Common Use Terminal Equipment (CUTE) and Common Use Self Service (CUSS) to allow any airline to use any agent desk, gate position or self-service kiosk for passenger check-in and bag drop. It will also deploy the baggage tracking solution.

    SITA will also extend its technology for better baggage handling to 15 other airports under AAI including Trivandrum, Chennai, Kolkata, Goa, Lucknow, Jaipur, Amritsar, Chandigarh and Ahmedabad.

City Not "Smart" Till Its Roads Are Pothole Free: Bombay High Court
  • The Bombay High Court Thursday said the Maharashtra government's endeavour to make every city "smart" was commendable but it would only be possible when a city's roads, streets and footpaths were in a good condition and free of potholes.

    A division bench of justices A S Oka and P N Deshmukh said it was a citizen's fundamental right to have good roads, streets and footpaths and people could not be deprived of their rights.

    The remarks were made by the high court in its order after it took up the issue of rising number of potholes and poor condition of roads in Mumbai and other districts of Maharashtra, which was leading to death of motorists.

    The court said it was the legal and constitutional obligation of the state government and all other local authorities to ensure good roads.

    "We are aware of the state government's endeavour to make every city smart. However, no city can be known as smart unless its roads, streets and footpaths are in good condition and pothole-free," Justice Oka said.

    The bench directed the state government to come up with a policy on the terms and conditions in relation to road contracts so as to ensure quality and durability of the work carried out.

    "We also direct the state government to set up a centralised grievance redressal mechanism, where citizens can lodge their complaints. A person travelling from one city to another would not know under which authority a particular road falls," the court said.

    Once the government receives a complaint, it can then forward it to the local authority concerned for follow-up action and compliance, the court said.

    The bench has directed the state government to set up this centralised mechanism by June 15.

    The bench also took note of the death of a city-based doctor after falling into an open manhole during the last monsoon.

    "Such unfortunate incidents cannot be repeated. Civic bodies shall take all the necessary precautions to ensure that no manhole is left open and if it is (left open), then necessary warning boards shall be placed near it," the court said.

    The bench has directed the state government to file a compliance report on its directions and posted the petition for further hearing on July 24.

    The bench said it hoped that all the municipal corporations and district councils in the state take all the necessary steps by June to ensure good roads before the onset of monsoon.

Ajit Doval Meets Top Chinese Diplomat After Last Year's Doklam Stand-Off
  • National Security Advisor Ajit Doval today held talks with top official of China's ruling CPC Yang Jiechi in Shanghai, the Indian Embassy said. This is the second meeting between the two officials after the last year's Dokalam stand-off.

    Mr Doval's meeting with Mr Yang, the Politburo member of the CPC, comes ahead of several key dialogues between the two countries, which are trying to reset the ties after the last year's 73-day long stand-off at Dokalam.

    The Indian Embassy in a brief statement said that Mr Doval and Mr Yang, both special representatives of the India-China boundary talks, held talks, but gave no details about the meeting.

    Mr Yang is also Director of Foreign Affairs Commission. Till last month, Yang was the State Councillor of the CPC, a top diplomatic post.

    He was replaced by Foreign Minister, Wang Yi. Wang will hold the dual posts of State Councillor and Foreign Minister in a major reshuffle of top officials.

    This is the second meeting between Doval and Yang after the Dokalam stand-off.

    Mr Yang attended the 20th round of boundary talks between the two countries in Delhi in December last year during which both sides decided to reset the ties with more interactions.

    Since December, the two sides are trying to iron out differences on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, India's entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group and China blocking the efforts to designate Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist by the UN.

    The two countries are preparing for a series of high-level interactions leading up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's proposed visit for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in June.

    External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman are scheduled to be in Beijing on April 24 to attend different meetings of the SCO and interact with their counterparts from the member states.

    The eight-member SCO, in which India was a latest entrant along with Pakistan, is due to hold its summit in the Chinese city of Qingdao.

    The SCO comprised of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.

    Ahead of the summit, the organisation which is focused on anti-terrorism cooperation is holding a host of ministerial and officials' meetings to work out a firm agenda for the summit to provide a new direction to the grouping.

    SCO Foreign and Defence Ministers meetings are also scheduled on April 24 and almost around the same time, according to officials here.

    Both sides attach lot of significance to these meetings to reset the ties as they were taking place after President Xi Jingping has commenced his second-five-year tenure last month with the prospect continuing in power for life following the removal of two-term limit for the president.

Business Affairs

Bank Board Bureau was supposed to help fix PSBs, but it's not happening
  • The government has shown some urgency in reconstituting the Bank Board Bureau (BBB) team under the leadership of another retired bureaucrat B P Sharma this week. This was due after the end of the term of the first team under ex-CAG Vinod Rai that took office two years ago. The decision to set up a BBB for improving governance at public sector banks (PSBs) was bold. And coming from the new government with a clear majority in the lower house, it was seen by many as shifting of the power centre from the bureaucrats at the finance ministry to BBB.

    But surprisingly, there has been no follow up to take the BBB to the next logical step. What is missing is the formation of the Bank Investment Company (BIC), a holding company for housing the government stake at all the PSBs. So far, there is no road map. The PSBs are already neck deep in trouble with government only pouring in more capital.

    If one looks at the broader structural plan, the BBB was the brain child of P J Nayak (former Chairman of Axis Bank) committee that was set up four years ago to review the governance of the banks boards. The committee suggested a phase-wise process of keeping the government away from the PSBs. The ownership is a very sensitive issue. Under the first phase, senior retired bankers would advise the government in appointments of CEOs and directors on the boards. But that didn't happen in letter and spirit as many a times the government either didn't agree with the BBB's choices for CEOs or delayed announcing the candidates. But that was just one part of the bigger solution for the PSBs as envisaged in the PJ Nayak committee.

    The next big step, which was to set up a Bank Investment Company (BIC), is not at all in sight. BIC was supposed to take the government stake in the PSBs and also take care of appointments of PSB board members. In the final phase, the power of BIC was supposed to go back to banks (or their board and management) as it was envisaged that by that time banks would be on their feet to take those decisions. Take for example, the private bank board today decides the selection of CEOs and other senior management team members. Similarly, board members are also appointed or replaced without any interference from the government.

    But as things stand today, there is a long road ahead. Currently, the government is still hanging on as an owner of the PSBs. In the last four years, the government has not taken any encouraging steps to repeal some of the Acts that govern the PSBs. There is a Bank Nationalization Act of 1970. The largest bank in the country, the State Bank of India (SBI) is governed by the SBI Act. The Nayak Committee had suggested all the PSBs should be brought under the Companies Act just the way private banks are registered in India. This process would anyway take time as the government has to build consensus at the political level.

    In fact, when the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley first announced the formation of BBB in his budget 2015-16, he also mentioned that a road map for consolidation of PSBs would be spelt out. The plan was to transfer all the government holding in PSBs to Bank Investment Company. The government stake at BIC would be 100 per cent. Many expert says the government could have easily diluted its majority stake in operating PSBs from 51 per cent to much lower. That would have helped in raising capital from outside without any pressure on the exchequer. There was another window of reducing the government stake in the BIC itself from 100 to 51 per cent. This could have gone down further in later years. This entire process has many steps and could take many years. But, unfortunately, it's stuck at the first step.

hSupreme Court rejects out-of-court settlement for Binani Cement; ball back in NCLT's courthh
  • The Supreme Court today struck a big one for the fledgling Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) by refusing to allow the out-of-bankruptcy court deal between UltraTech Cement and Binani Industries (BIL) for its beleaguered subsidiary Binani Cement. So all parties will now have to go back to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for subsequent acts of this long drawn out drama.

    Earlier this week, BIL had moved the apex court with an appeal to redeem the pledge of its assets Binani Cement from its lenders. It had also deposited a sum of Rs 750 crore to show its commitment, along with a bank guarantee for the remaining amount of the total offer of Rs 7,266 crore.

    To remind you, last month, UltraTech's board had agreed to issue a 'comfort letter' to provide the above-mentioned amount in return for 98.43 per cent stake in Binani Cement provided the company came out of insolvency proceedings. Significantly, this offer came after the latter's Committee of Creditors (CoC) had voted in favour of the resolution plan submitted by the Dalmia Bharat-Bain Piramal Resurgence Fund consortium.

    The offer from the Aditya Birla Group company was certainly fatter than Dalmia Bharat's winning bid of around Rs 6,500 crore. So Binani Cement's CoC last Saturday decided to conditionally back the deal between BIL and UltraTech, subject to the Supreme Court's nod. The Kolkata bench of the National Company Law Tribunal also recently adjourned the hearing of the Binani case to April 16 in light of the hearing today.

    According to BloombergQuint, while putting forth its argument in the top court BIL had said that UltraTech's out-of-court offer ensured that all Binani Cement creditors would be paid in full. UltraTech meanwhile argued that there were no grounds to disqualify them from making the offer. The Competition Commission of India gave its approval to the UltraTech bid two weeks ago, which it previously claimed was the reason why it was not rated as the highest bidder for Binani Cement.

    "We are happy that the Supreme Court has upheld the IBC process and has not terminated the process, which was requested by the defaulting promoter and the losing bidder. At the same time, Supreme Court has said that nobody should front someone. Now it will be heard at NCLT ... as scheduled earlier to approve our resolution plan," Mahendra Singhi, group chief executive officer, Dalmia Group, told the news portal.

    According to him, Dalmia Bharat's resolution plan proposed to pay out nearly 99 per cent of all operational creditors in Binani Cement, excluding some related parties and certain other operational creditors. "Legally the lenders have voted for us by 99.4 per cent majority, so there was no question that lenders would not be supporting us," he added.

    The NCLT proceedings on Monday will hopefully take things towards closure. Let's not forget that the 270-day deadline specified for bankruptcy resolution under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code is fast approaching. Bank of Baroda had dragged Binani Cement to NCLT last July after it failed to repay a loan of over Rs 97 crore.

Expansion of crop MSP not good, direct investment support a viable plan, say researchers
  • Renowned agriculture economist Ashok Gulati and his team of experts have suggested that the government's plan to declare minimum support price (MSP) for the entire range of rabi crops may not be a great idea. The experts also have doubts over the effectiveness of the price deficiency payment (PDA) mechanism Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana (BBY) that was experimented by the Madhya Pradesh government for eight khariff crops last year.

    In a working paper published by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) the experts; Gulati, Tirtha Chatterjee and Siraj Hussain argue that raising MSPs with no supporting procurement mechanism is unlikely to mitigate farmers from the supply shocks and price risks.

    The working paper becomes important as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had, in his Budget speech, explicitly stated the government's decision to declare MSP for all khariff crops that are at least 150 percent of its production cost.  He also said that if the market prices are lower than the prescribed prices, the government will either procure the produce on MSP or ensure a mechanism where farmers are getting that amount. The experts fear that these measures could distort agricultural market dynamics and instead prefer substitution of MSPs with direct income or investment support.

    The working paper titled "Supporting Indian farmers: Price support or direct income/investment support?" states that MP's BBY scheme benefited only 23 percent of the production and casts doubts on its ability to be effective  if scaled up at an all India level. "Assuming that somehow a system will be erected to benefit all the production that is marketed and excluding the government procurement of wheat and paddy at MSP and sugarcane sold to sugar mills at FRP/SAP, the financial costs of ramping up BBY/PDP at national level are staggering, ranging from Rs 56, 518 crore to Rs 1.13 lakh crore to Rs 1.69 lakh crore annually, depending upon if market prices are 10 percent, 20 percent or 30 percent below MSP, respectively", they point out.

    But bigger costs are likely to be inflicted from massive distortions which this scheme, coupled with MSP based on 1.5 times the cost will bring about, they caution. They believe that an MSP formula based on just cost plus pricing, without any considerations to the demand side of the commodities and their inter-crop price parity, is likely to play havoc in the economy causing major distortions to the functioning of markets. "Just to give a feel of the possible situation, MSP of paddy for 2018-19 kharif season will have to go up by 11 to 14 percent, of cotton by 19 to 28 percent, and jowar by 42 to 44 percent, if MSP pricing is based on 1.5 times the cost A2+FL. Under such a pricing structure, farmers may find it profitable to allocate more area under jowar and increasing its production significantly. In the absence of commensurate demand, market prices may fall way below the announced MSP necessitating large scale procurement at MSP or large outgo through PDP. This would not be economically very rational", the report explains.

    As was seen in Madhya Pradesh, BBY is also prone to manipulation by traders and several mandi level functionaries.

    Gulati and his team suggests direct investment subsidy (DIS) to farmers as a better option as it would be "simpler to implement, transparent, crop-neutral and without causing much distortion to the functioning of markets".

    Incidentally, Telangana  is planning  to give  Rs 10,000/ha  (Rs  4000/acre),  per  season,  to  farmers. Karnataka's plan is more modest and targeted to only dry land farmers. "If DIS is scaled at the national level, at Rs 10,000 per ha, and for total gross cropped area of around 1978  lakh  ha,  total payment  will  be Rs 1.97  lakh crore. At  Rs  5000/ha,  it  will  cost only half, about Rs 98.5 thousand crore. So, direct income transfer at all India level may not be cheaper but direct income transfer will not accentuate market distortions and its associated efficiency losses, and it would be much more inclusive and equitable, as well as transparent", the report says.

    The experts talk about the need for digitization of plots, linking them with Aadhaar and bank accounts and tenancy reforms, as prerequisites for a complete success.

    "Since the primary objective is to stabilize farmers' incomes, the need of the hour is to reach farmers efficiently and at an appropriate time.  Therefore, raising MSPs with no supporting procurement mechanism is unlikely to mitigate farmers from the supply shocks and price risks. As discussed earlier, this will only lead to either large PDP or huge procurement costs in case of Government procurement", they conclude.

Karnataka is the top solar state in India: Mercom Capital
  • Karnataka's solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity crossed the 5GW mark in the first quarter of 2018 to transform it into India's top solar PV state, according to Mercom's India Solar Project Tracker. So far in 2018, Karnataka has maintained its brisk pace of solar project commissioning. In 2017, the state installed over 2GW of solar PV capacity and, in the first three months of 2018 alone, the state matched that annual total with the installation of over 2GW of solar PV projects.The 2GW of growth seen in 2017 came from the commissioning of approximately 1.5GW of projects that were allocated under the state's solar policy and over 600MW of solar projects were commissioned under the National Solar Mission.

    Talking to Mercom about the state's solar growth trajectory, a Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited (KREDL) official said, "We want to make Karnataka a model renewable energy state. Policy implementation and removal of hurdles by the state electricity regulatory commission, KERC, has led to a spike in the installation numbers. We are easing the process of developing solar projects in the state and the current installation numbers are a reflection of the same."

    "If you consider the last two quarters, no other state has come close to Karnataka in terms of project commissioning," the official added.

    When asked about the commissioning of over 1GW of solar PV projects for third-party sale of power, the KREDL official said, "This should not come as a surprise. These projects were onboard prior to 2017 and almost all of them were commissioned in the first quarter of 2018."

    Talking to Mercom about the development of solar capacity in Karnataka, an official with the Karnataka Solar Power Development Corporation Limited (KSPDCL) said, "In the Pavagada Solar Park, 600MW has been installed, another 550MW have been awarded, and the infrastructure development is also happening at a satisfactory pace. Capacity additions at Pavagada Solar Park will further add to the installed capacity of the state."

    According to the report, Telangana became the first Indian state to achieve more than 3GW of cumulative solar capacity in 2017 after it added approximately 695MW of solar installations during the fourth quarter alone. Karnataka was then at the number two spot with cumulative solar installations totaling 2.8GW, after adding approximately 950MWs during the fourth quarter of 2017. As of March 31, 2018, the state of Karnataka had leapfrogged Telangana to claim the top spot with over 5GW of installed solar PV capacity.

    Mercom reported that utility-scale projects accounted for 90 percent of the 9.6GW of total solar installations added during 2017. During the period, Telangana and Karnataka each installed more than 2GW of solar capacity.In Karnataka where land availability is an issue; implementing agencies have gone for the taluk-wise allocation of projects to avoid burdening the existing grid infrastructure and to optimally utilize available land. Recently, over 1GW of solar PV capacity was auctioned and awarded in Karnataka. Mercom reported that the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) for solar projects totaling 640MW to be developed in various taluks of the state have now been signed.

    It also reported that KREDL has auctioned 550MW of solar projects to be developed at the Pavagada Solar Park in the Tumkur district of the state.

    "Karnataka has done a commendable job so far in becoming the state with most solar installations. The big question is what happens in Karnataka after the 1GW of projects remaining in its development pipeline get completed. If power demand remains weak and solar power becomes more expensive due to tariff imposition, future activity is likely to be less robust," said Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group.

Sensex rises 91 points to 34,192, Nifty closes at 10,480; Adani Ports, Wipro, Kotak Bank top gainers
  • The Sensex and Nifty ended in the green for the seventh straight session led by metal stocks after global stocks recovered on delay in United States' final decision on possible military strikes against Syria. While the Sensex closed 91 points or 0.27% higher at 34,192, the Nifty ended at 10,480 level, a rise of 0.21%.

    "Ever since RBI (Reserve Bank of India) cuts its inflation trajectory, the equities have done well. And if this trend of falling inflation and reduction in bond yields continue, good signs await the equity markets," said Vinod Nair, head of research at Geojit Financial Services.

    The Sensex gained 1.5% on a weekly basis while the Nifty rose 1.30% during the same period. The successive growth in fourth straight months in the index of industrial production (IIP) at 7.1 per cent and moderation in consumer price index (CPI) inflation to 4.28 per cent, lifted the sentiment.

    Midcaps and small cap indices on BSE rose 0.46% and 0.26%, respectively.

    Gains were led by metal stocks with the BSE index rising 1% to 14,095 level.

    Healthcare stocks too contributed to the gains with the BSE healthcare index rising 0.56% to 13,679 level.

    Adani Ports (2.66%), Wipro (2.2%) and Kotak Bank (1.69%) were the top Sensex gainers.

    SBI (1.22%), Axis Bank (1.17%) and YES Bank (0.66%) were the top losers on Sensex.

    Reliance Industries closed 1.22% or 11.30 points higher at 938.5 level amid news that the Mukesh Ambani firm would buy close to 73 per cent stake in education technology provider Indiavidual Learning Private Ltd (Embibe) to become a majority shareholder. As part of the agreement, RIL will invest $180 million into the company over the next three years to ramp up artificial intelligence (AI) and further geographic expansion.

    Infosys closed 0.58% higher at 1169 level ahead of the firm's Q4 earnings set to be announced in evening today. Market breadth was negative with 1285 stocks closing in the green against 1436 stocks ending in the red. 138 stocks were unchanged.  

    Global markets

    Global stock markets were mostly higher Friday investor appetite for risk returned after the US said it was exploring the possibility of returning to trade talks with 11 Pacific countries. Sentiment also improved as the US said it is consulting allies before making a final decision on possible military strikes against Syria.

    Britain's FTSE 100 was flat at 7,256.35 in early trading while France's CAC 40 rose 0.2 percent to 5,320.74 and Germany's DAX gained 0.5 percent to 12,472.06. Futures augured a tepid start on Wall Street with S&P futures up 0.1 percent and Dow futures also up 0.1 percent.

    Asian markets finished higher. Nikkei 225 rose 0.6 percent to 21,778.74. South Korea's Kospi advanced 0.5 percent to 2,455.07. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index edged down 0.1 percent to finish at 30,808.38. China's Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.7 percent to 3,159.05. Australia's S&P/ASX200 rose 0.2 percent to 5,829.10. Stocks in Taiwan, Singapore were higher but in the Philippines and Indonesia they were lower.

General Awareness

Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.
Aspirational District Programme

  • Context: Small Industries Development Bank of India (Sidbi) has charted a plan to promote micro enterprises in 115 aspirational districts across the country to contribute in their development. The bank has tied up with Common Service Centre (CSC) to meet this objective.

    About Transformation of Aspirational Districts Programme:

    ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ was launched in January with an aim to quickly and effectively transform some of the most underdeveloped districts in the country.

    Implementation strategy:

    The broad contours of the programme are Convergence (of Central & State Schemes), Collaboration (of Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors), and Competition among districts driven by a mass Movement.

    This will converge the central and state schemes, collaborate central, state and district collectors to strengthen these districts by identifying the low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress and then rank the district by getting the data on a real-time basis.

    Selection of backward districts:

    The 115 districts, including 35 affected by left-wing extremism, were selected on parameters like deprivation (extent of landless households), health & nutrition (institutional delivery, stunting of children and wasting in children), education (elementary dropout rate and adverse pupil-teacher ratio) and infrastructure (un-electrified homes, lack of toilets, villages not connected by road and lack of drinking water).

    Significance of the scheme:

    With states as the main drivers, this program will focus on the strength of each district, identify low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress, and rank districts.

    Under the programme, identified districts are prodded and encouraged to first catch-up with the best district within their state, and subsequently aspire to become one of the best in the country, by competing with, and learning from others.

    Need for the development of backward districts:

    India cannot grow at a high rate on a long run until these districts catch up, whatever high are the GDP number, it has no meaning until the benefit of growth percolates down to very basic level. Ensuring progress in areas facing the most severe challenges and improving conditions in remote and rural regions are prerequisites for India to reach the next stage of its economic and human development.

    Through its massive scale and innovative use of data, the aspirational districts programme (ADP) will help India move towards its goals.

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