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Current Affairs - 17 April 2018

General Affairs 

12 Missions, 12 Months - ISRO's Mega Plan For 2018 Revealed. Details Here
  • 2018 is proving to be a very busy year for India's space agency ISRO, with a mission planned for each month. The Indian Space Research Organisation has already launched 3 important satellites between January 1 and April 12. These include remote sensing satellite Cartosat-2 on board the PSLV-C40 rocket in January, communication satellite GSAT-6A on board GSLV-F08 rocket on March 29, and navigation satellite IRNSS-1I on board the PSLV-C41 rocket on April 12. "In the next eight months, ISRO has nine more important missions planned," ISRO Chairman K Sivan told reporters at the Sathish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh's Sriharikota last week. This means ISRO will average one mission every month for the year 2018 - which would be a remarkable achievement.

    Here are the details of some of the important launches planned by ISRO for the rest of 2018:

    CHANDRAYAAN-2 MISSION

    Expected to be the biggest mission of all this year, Chandrayaan-2 will be India's second mission to the moon. It will be a totally indigenous mission, which means it will be a 100 per cent 'made in India' mission. Unlike Chandrayaan-1, which only had a lunar orbiter, Chandrayaan-2 will have an orbiter, a lander and a rover. According to ISRO's plan, after reaching the 100 km lunar orbit, the 'lander' housing the 'rover' will separate from the 'orbiter'. After a controlled descent, the lander will soft land on the Moon's surface at a specified site and deploy the rover. The rover, which will be six-wheeled, will move around the landing site in semi-autonomous mode as decided by the ground commands. The instruments on the rover will observe the lunar surface and send back data, which will be useful for analysis of the Moon's soil.

    The orbiter of Chandrayaan-2 will weigh around 3,290 kg and will orbit around the moon to perform the objectives of remote sensing the moon. The payloads will collect scientific information on lunar topography, mineralogy, elemental abundance, lunar exosphere and signatures of hydroxyl and water-ice.

    The Chandrayaan-2 mission will be launched on board the GSLV-F10 rocket, and is planned for the second half of 2018 (Aimed for October). The GSLV or Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV Mk II) is the largest launch vehicle developed by India, which is currently in operation. This fourth generation launch vehicle is a three stage vehicle with four liquid strap-ons. The indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS), which is flight proven, forms the third stage of GSLV Mk II.

    THE GSAT-11 MISSION

    As explained by ISRO, the GSAT-11 is a multi beam high throughput communication satellite operating in Ka and Ku-bands employing a new bus. It provides 32 user beams in Ku-band and 8 gateway beams in Ka-band. The payload includes Ka x Ku-band forward link transponders and Ku x Ka band return link transponders.

    The GSAT-11 satellite is planned to be launched by Ariane from Kourou, French Guiana in first half of 2018 (Aimed for June). India's GSAT satellites are indigenously developed communication satellites which are used for digital audio and video broadcasting. The GSAT satellites are geosynchronous satellites - having a geosynchronous orbit, which means they have an orbital period the same as the Earth's rotation period. The GSAT series of satellites have been developed by ISRO with an aim to make India 100 per cent self-reliant in broadcasting services.

    C-band, Extended C-band and Ku-bands provide services for telecommunications, television broadcasting, weather forecasting, disaster warning and search and rescue operations.

    ISRO chairman K Sivan confirmed that the GSAT-11 will be the "heaviest satellite" ever made by ISRO. Though he did not specify the exact weight, he confirmed that it will be in excess of 5.7 tonnes (more than 5,100 kg).

    THE GSLV-Mk3-D2 / GSAT-29 MISSION

    GSAT-29, which too is a GSAT series satellite as explained above, is configured around ISRO's Enhanced I-3K Bus and  will be the payload for second developmental flight of GSLV-MkIII. It carries Ka x Ku multi-beam and optical communication payloads for the first time. The mission targets for Village Resource  Centres (VRC)  in  rural  areas  to  bridge  the  digital divide.

    The GSLV-MkIII-D2/GSAT-29 Mission is scheduled to be launched during the first half of  2018. The satellite will weigh around 3,500 kg. "The GSLV-Mk3-D2, will launch the GSAT-29. We are going to have a host of GSLV missions like DigiSat and high resolution remote sensing satellites," ISRO Chairman K Sivan confirmed.

    GSAT-7A MISSION

    According to news agency PTI, ISRO Chairman K Sivan has confirmed the launch of the GSAT-7A mission this year. "We have another GSLV mission, which is going to have GSAT-7A," he said.

    The GSAT-7A satellite is an advanced military communications satellite. It will be dedicated for the sole use of the Indian Air Force. It is similar to the GSAT-7 which is currently being used exclusively by the Indian Navy. The Navy's GSAT-7 is a multi-band communication spacecraft, which has been operational since September 2013. The GSAT-7 satellite helps enable the Indian Navy to extend its blue water capabilities and stop relying on foreign satellites like Inmarsat, which provide communication services to its ships. Similarly, the GSAT-7A satellite will help the Indian Air Force spread its wings further.

    GSAT-7A will enable the Indian Air Force to interlink different ground radar stations, ground airbase and Airborne early warning and control (AWACS) aircraft. The GSAT-7A satellite will enhance the Indian Air Force's network-centric warfare capabilities and enhance its global operations.

    GSAT-7A is expected to be launched in the second half of 2018 and will be launched on board the Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou, French Guiana. The GSAT-7A satellite will be put into a geosynchronous orbit.

    THE RISAT-1A MISSION

    RISAT or Radar Imaging SATellite (RISAT-1A) will be a remote sensing satellite that is similar in configuration to RISAT-1. It will be the third satellite in the RISAT series. RISAT-1, which was the second in the series, uses C-band 5.35 GHz synthetic aperture radar for earth observation.

    Because of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks the RISAT-2 satellite took priority over the RISAT-1 satellite. RISAT-2 carried an Israeli-built X-band radar. This is how RISAT-2 became the first in the series and RISAT-1 became the second.

    The RISAT-1 satellite has a purpose of monitoring natural resources management, primarily agriculture planning and forestry surveys, as well as to predict and prevent flooding. It helps monitor paddy plantations and yields in the kharif season and to assists in food security planning.

    The latest in the series - RISAT-1A - will primarily be a land-based mission and will be used for terrain mapping. It will also be used for land analysis. Though analysis of land will be its primary focus, it will also analyse the ocean and water surface. It will also monitor the moisture in the soil across the country and will greatly benefit for agricultural purposes.

    RISAT-1A satellite will carry a 'synthetic aperture radar' which will operate at 5.35 GHz in C-band. A synthetic aperture radar or SAR can be used for earth observation irrespective of the light and weather conditions of the area being imaged. RISAT-1A will be launch on board the PSLV or Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. It will weigh around 1,850 kgs.

    MISSIONS BETWEEN JANUARY AND APRIL 2018

    India launched 3 important missions between January and April 2018. These include remote sensing satellite Cartosat-2 on board the PSLV-C40 rocket in January, communication satellite GSAT-6A on board GSLV-F08 rocket on March 29, and navigation satellite IRNSS-1I on board the PSLV-C41 rocket on April 12.

    To know all about the PSLV-C40 / Cartosat-2 Series Satellite mission, which was ISRO's 100th satellite launch, click here.

    To know all about the GSLV-F08 / GSAT-6A mission, click here.

    COMMENTSTo know all about the PSLV-C41 / IRNSS-1I mission, click here.

    Calling it one of the busiest years for the ISRO, chairman K Sivan said scientists are excited and determined to achieve the targets. After three launches in the first four months, "We have a lot more missions on the anvil. In the next eight months, we are going to have nine missions. We are going to have both GSLV and PSLV missions. Along with that (launches) we have technology demonstration for future missions as well," he said.

Why The Monsoon Is So Crucial For India And Prime Minister Narendra Modi
  • Monsoon rains are likely to be 97 percent of their long-term average in 2018, the meteorological department said on Monday, reassuring farmers ahead of summer planting.

    What are the categories of monsoon?

    A normal, or average, monsoon means rainfall between 96 and 104 percent of 89 cm, which is a 50-year average rainfall in four months starting in June.

    The classification by the India Meteorological Department, says rainfall below 90 percent of the average would count as drought.

    During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first two years in office -- in 2014 and 2015 -- there were consecutive droughts, that led to some criticism of the government's handling of the issue.

    Rainfall above 110 percent of the average means an excessive monsoon, which is not as damaging as a drought, but could be potentially harmful for the yields of certain crops.

    The monsoon season starts with rains on the southern Kerala coast around June 1, covering the whole country by the middle of July.

    Why is the monsoon important?

    The monsoon delivers about 70 percent of India's annual rainfall and determines the yield of key crops such as rice, wheat, sugarcane and oilseeds such as soybeans. The farm sector accounts for about 15 percent of India's $2 trillion economy, but employs more than half of the country's 1.3 billion people.

    If monsoon rains lift farm output, it can boost demand for consumer goods as it raises incomes of rural people.

    A stronger economic outlook would lift equities, mainly for companies selling products in rural areas, including consumer goods, automobiles, fertilisers and pesticides.

    If monsoon rains lift farm output, it can boost demand for consumer goods
    India is self-sufficient in crops such as rice and wheat, but a drought would require the country to import food. In 2009, India imported sugar after poor rains, sending global prices to record highs and pushing up local inflation.

    Monsoon rains replenish reservoirs and groundwater, allowing better irrigation and more hydropower output. Higher rainfall can trim demand for subsidised diesel, which is used to pump water from wells for irrigation.

    How does the monsoon affect inflation and central bank policy?

    Food accounts for 50 percent of India's consumer price index, which the central bank closely monitors while deciding on monetary policy. A bumper farm output would keep food prices under control.

    During past droughts, the government supported farmers by giving out incentives, straining the fiscal deficit. A good monsoon will limit government spending on such measures.

    How reliable is the monsoon forecast?

    The IMD issues its first forecast typically more than a month ahead of the monsoon's onset.

    On an average, its forecast has been accurate only once every five years over the past two decades, even after taking into account an error band of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

    The IMD's forecast for the 2017 monsoon was its most accurate since 2008. Last year, there was a difference of only 1 percentage point between the forecast and the actual rainfall. Even during normal monsoon years, some parts of India face drought, while some others suffer from floods.

    The IMD will come out with a second forecast for the 2018 monsoon rains in June.

    Why is the monsoon important for Prime Minister Modi ahead of the 2019 elections?

    PM Modi, who has promised to double farmers' income over five years, remains popular nearly four years into his term. Farmer unrest, however, has flared in some states ruled by the BJP, catching regional leaders flat-footed.

    A normal monsoon could lead to higher output of summer-sown crops, helping state leaders placate farmers. 

Supreme Court Dismisses Plea Against Pension, Benefits To Former MPs
  • The Supreme Court today dismissed a plea challenging the perks, including pension and travel allowances, given to former Parliamentarians.

    A bench of Justice J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul said, "The petition is dismissed".

    The bench had reserved its verdict on March 7 this year.

    The Centre had on March 7 told the Supreme Court that the entitlement of former Members of Parliament (MPs) to get pension and other benefits was "justified" as their dignity has to be maintained even after they complete their tenure as parliamentarians.

    The Centre had told the bench about the Finance Bill 2018 which contains provisions regarding salary and pension of MPs and also about revision of their allowances after every five years starting from April 1, 2023, on the basis of cost inflation index.

    The Supreme Court had in February directed the Centre to clarify its stand on setting up of an independent mechanism for determination of salaries and allowances of MPs after the government had said the issue was "under consideration".

    The top court had in March last year agreed to examine the constitutional validity of laws granting pension and other perks to retired MPs and had sought responses from the Centre and ECI on the issue.

    An NGO 'Lok Prahari' has approached the top court challenging the Allahabad High Court order dismissing its plea which had claimed that pension and other perks being given to MPs even after demitting office were contrary to Article 14 (Right to Equality) of the Constitution.

    The plea has also said that Parliament has no power to provide for pensionary benefits to lawmakers without making any law.

China Says It Wants To Stick To 'Right Path' Of Bilateral Ties With India
  • China wants to stick to the "right path" of bilateral ties with India, explore new areas for cooperation and ensure sound and steady development of the relationship, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said today.

    China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying's remarks came during a media briefing as she replied to a question on a series of high-level meetings between the two countries.

    After last year's stand-off in Doklam, India and China have stepped up dialogue at various levels to reset the ties.

    Hua said China's ties with India have seen new progress and all round cooperation this year.

    "This year under the guidance of the two leaders (Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi), China and India relations have been developing with a sound momentum," Hua said.

    "China attaches great importance to developing relations with India and we would like to work together to implement the consensus reached by leaders, stick to the right path of the bilateral ties, accumulate more positive energy, explore new areas for cooperation and ensure sound and steady development of bilateral ties," she said.

    "We have seen close exchanges at all levels and new progress in all round cooperation," Hua said without elaborating.

    On April 13, a meeting was held between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Yang Jiechi, Director of China's Foreign Affairs Commission and member of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) in Shanghai.

    Besides the meeting between Yang and Mr Doval, the two countries "successfully" held the 11th Joint Economic Group meeting and the fifth Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED), she said.

    Hua said officials from the two foreign ministers also met. The two sides also held working mechanism meeting on border affairs and cross border rivers, she said.

    "These interaction show that China and India share a wide range of common interests and our bilateral cooperation holds great potential," she said.

    External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman are also due to visit China on April 24 to take part in the meetings of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

    Prime Minister Modi himself is scheduled to visit China in June to take part in the SCO summit in the Chinese city of Qingdao.

$337 Million Washing Machine-Sized Spacecraft To Seek Earth-Like Worlds
  • NASA is poised to launch a $337 million washing machine-sized spacecraft that aims to vastly expand mankind's search for planets beyond our solar system, particularly closer, Earth-sized ones that might harbor life.

    The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, is scheduled to launch Monday at 6:32 pm (2232 GMT) atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

    Its main goal over the next two years is to scan more than 200,000 of the brightest stars for signs of planets circling them and causing a dip in brightness known as a transit.

    NASA predicts that TESS will discover 20,000 exoplanets -- or planets outside the solar system -- including more than 50 Earth-sized planets and up to 500 planets less than twice the size of Earth.

    "They are going to be orbiting the nearest, brightest stars," Elisa Quintana, TESS scientist at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center, told reporters on Sunday.

    "We might even find planets that orbit stars that we can even see with the naked eye," she added.

    "So in the next few years we might even be able to walk outside and point at a star and know that it has a planet. This is the future."


    Follow-on to Kepler

    TESS is designed as a follow-on to the US space agency's Kepler spacecraft, which was the first of its kind and launched in 2009. Now, the aging spacecraft is low on fuel and near the end of its life.

    Kepler found a massive trove of exoplanets by focusing on one patch of sky, which contained about 150,000 stars like the Sun.

    The Kepler mission found 2,300 confirmed exoplanets and nearly 4,500 candidates. But many were too distant and dim to study further.

    TESS, with its four advanced cameras, will scan an area that is 350 times larger, comprising 85 percent of the sky in the first two years alone.

    "By looking at such a large section of the sky -- this kind of stellar real estate -- we open up the ability to cherry-pick the best stars to do follow up science," said Jenn Burt, a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

    "On average the stars that TESS finds observes be 30-100 times brighter and 10 times closer than the stars that Kepler focused on."

    Since TESS uses the same method as Kepler for finding potential planets, by tracking the dimming of light when a celestial body passes in front of a star, the next step is for ground-based and space telescopes to peer closer.

    The Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space telescope, scheduled to launch in 2020, should be able to reveal more about planets' mass, density and the makeup of their atmosphere.

    "TESS forms a bridge from what we have learned about exoplanets to date and where we are headed in the future," said Jeff Volosin, TESS project manager at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center.

    By focusing on planets dozens to hundreds of light-years way, TESS should be a stepping stone to future breakthroughs, he said.

    "With the hope that someday, in the next decades, we will be able to identify the potential for life to exist outside the solar system."

Business Affairs

Strong policies in place for developers accessing user data: Google
  • Google is not Facebook. We know that. Nevertheless, two if its executives repeatedly reiterated this fact when pressed with the most important question today: How safe is the user's data with the company? The executives said that the company has strong policies which are constantly reviewed. However, they shied away from pointing to any specific policy that has been, or is in the process of being reviewed in light of the Facebook slip. Users, the executives, underlined, have access to how their data is being used. They also have opt-out choices.  

    On the sidelines of 'Grow with Google', an event in Singapore last week, Business Today's Goutam Das spoke to Karim Temsamani, President, Asia-Pacific Operations, Google, and Arjun Narayan, the company's Head of Trust & Safety, based in the company's Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore.

    Here's what they had to say:

    On the humongous amount of user information Google has and if this data is secure:

    Karim Temsamani: We take the information of our users incredibly seriously and we do a lot of work around it. We have an incredible safety record in terms of protecting the information of our users. From an user's perspective, you want transparency, control, and choice. We provide all of this through My Accounts, where one can see all of the information Google has about him or her. You can make choices as regards to that information and can control it - you can decide not to share some of the information; you can download all of your data if you want to have access to it; you can decide not to provide your location. There is a reason why we may want to have that at an aggregate level to be able to provide better services. For example, your location on Google Maps. The location is extremely useful if through the Assistant (the company's virtual personal assistant) we were to tell you that there is heavy traffic today and you should leave 15 minutes earlier or you will miss your meeting. Should you as an user not want that information? Most of the anonymous data that we keep on our systems is to ensure that the results we serve users are more relevant and useful for them.

    On third party developers on Google Play (the company's app store) accessing user information:  

    Karim Temsamani: There is a tremendous amount of activity on Google Play with developers asking permission with regards to user data they can access. We have very strong policies with regard to the data of users. We don't accept developers wanting to access data if it doesn't make sense in the context of their app.

    On the Facebook development, and if there were policies Google is reviewing:  

    Arjun Narayan: I am not going to speculate about other companies. I will talk about what we do. At Google, we have maintained very high standards. We have adequate safeguards and we constantly re-evaluate our safeguards. From a philosophical standpoint, we value user trust and we do not take that lightly because we know that is extremely important for our ecosystem to thrive. We have the policies, safeguards, and enforcement in place. Then, from an user choice perspective, we provide choice. Users have access to how their data is being used, they also have opt-outs available.  

    On whether all users know about these choices: 

    Arjun Narayan: There is never enough when it comes to educating our users. There is always more we can do in this space. We want to make sure our community is aware of these options.

Bangalore highest paying city; pharma, healthcare firms top paymasters
  • Bangalore is the highest paying city in the country, while pharma and healthcare is the highest paying industry for talent in India, says a report.

    According to Randstad Insights, the research and analysis division of Randstad India, the average annual cost to company (CTC) for talent across all levels and functions in Bangalore stood at Rs 10.8 lakh per annum.

    Bangalore is followed by Pune at Rs 10.3 lakh, NCR and Mumbai Rs 9.9 lakh and Rs 9.2 lakh, respectively. Chennai (Rs 8 lakh), Hyderabad (Rs 7.9 lakh) and Kolkata (Rs 7.2 lakh) are the other three names on the list of Indian cities paying the highest average salaries for professionals.

    The report further noted that professionals from the pharma and healthcare industries are paid the highest in India with an average annual CTC of Rs 9.6 lakh across all levels and functions.

    The roll-out of GST saw a spike in demand for implementation and compliance specialists, thus making professional services the second highest paying sector in the country, with an average salary of Rs 9.4 lakh, it added.

    FMCG, is the third highest paying industry with an average CTC of Rs 9.2 lakh. The IT sector, offering an average annual CTC of Rs 9.1 lakh and infrastructure, real estate and construction at Rs 9.0 lakh take the fourth and fifth position in the list as Indias most lucrative industries for professionals.

    Meanwhile, there are some roles where talent in 6-10 year experience bracket is paid relatively higher remuneration. Specialist doctors top the chart with an average annual CTC at Rs 18.4 lakh, followed by solution architects at a CTC of Rs 15.1 lakh, product engineering specialists at Rs 14.8 lakh and blockchain technology experts at a CTC of Rs 14.6 lakh.

    "A strong salary structure that strikes a perfect balance between internal and external pay equity is an imperative today for the organisations as it?s often the key to bring top talent on board and keep them motivated," Randstad India MD & CEO Paul Dupuis said.

    Randstad Insights Salary Trends Report 2018 analysed 1,00,000 jobs across 20 industry verticals and 15 functions.

Ola plans to get 1 million electric vehicles on its platform by 2021; mostly e-rickshaws
  • If things go to plan, ride-hailing company Ola could emerge as one of the largest electric vehicle (EV) fleet operators in the world by next year. After all, in the next 12 months it hopes to add a whopping 10,000 e-rickshaws and electric auto-rickshaws in its service under its 'Mission: Electric' programme launched today.

    The company announced that it will be working with driver-partners, cities, vehicle manufacturers, and battery companies to make sustainable technologies cost-effective and viable in daily mobility. That's not all. The Bengaluru-based company is also aiming to get one million electric vehicles on its platform by 2021 to boost the electric vehicle ecosystem in the country.

    From cycle rickshaws to 'shuttles' and last-mile transport, three-wheelers continue to be a dominant form of daily transit for many across the country as well as "a source of livelihood for millions of people every day". Ola co-founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal also pointed out that it represents an immediate opportunity to improve outcomes for all stakeholders while reducing pollution.

    Last May, SoftBank-backed Ola had launched its first EV project in Nagpur. The project includes electric cabs, electric auto rickshaws, electric buses, rooftop solar installations, charging stations, and battery swapping experiments. Building on this effort, Ola believes that electrification can improve outcomes for drivers, customers, and its business model. "After more than 4 million 'electric' kilometres travelled and many lessons learned, we are significantly expanding our commitment to electrify mobility in India..we look forward to working with state governments and other partners to introduce accessible, affordable, and sustainable mobility solutions at scale," Aggarwal added.

    According to the company, the pilot project provided significant insights into effectively managing vehicles, batteries, and operations. However, The Business Standard cited insiders claiming that the experiment has failed due to the high cost of electric vehicles, lack of charging infrastructure and the driving range of vehicles being lower than anticipated. This explains the focus on electric three-wheelers in the near term.

    While Ola said it will further expand its EV fleet to three other Indian cities, it has not disclosed the names yet. The company claims to be in discussion with "several state governments to create an appropriate policy environment to deploy electric three-wheelers" as well as "OEM partners and EV innovators globally to bring vehicles on the road in a planned and phased manner". One thing is for sure: As India's largest private vehicle fleet operator, Ola could represent a natural catalyst for EV technology in the country. Now, if only the infrastructure required for such plans would not be quite as slow to play catch-up.

Sensex, Nifty close higher for eight straight session; Infosys, Tata Motors top losers
  • The Sensex and Nifty managed to close in the green for the eight straight session, outperforming their global peers amid flow of positive economic data that revived overall investor sentiment. While the Sensex recovered about 406 points from its intra day lows and closed 112 points or 0.33% higher at 34,305 level, the Nifty rose 0.46% higher at 10,528 level.

    The indexes entered positive territory nearly 2.5 hours before the market closing after US air strikes on Syria appeared to be having scant impact on trading, and oil prices fell back. 

    Hero MotoCorp (2.02%), Kotak Mahindra Bank (1.88%) and Adani Ports (1.85%) were the top gainers on Sensex.

    According to government data, inflation based on wholesale prices eased marginally to 2.47 per cent in March on cheaper food articles, especially pulses and vegetables.


    Wholesale inflation was 2.48 per cent in February and 5.11 per cent in March last year.

    Besides, reflecting further improvement in the economic situation, industrial production grew by a healthy 7.1 per cent in February while the key retail inflation slipped to a five-month low of 4.28 per cent in March, official data showed on Thursday.

    Tata Motors which closed 4.96% lower at 339 level was the top Sensex loser on reports that Britain's biggest carmaker Jaguar Land Rover will cut around 1,000 jobs and production at two of its English factories due to fall in sales caused by uncertainty around Brexit and confusion over diesel policy.

    Infosys followed Tata Motors and lost over 3.10% at 1,132 level after the firm cut its margin guidance for FY19, and disclosed plan to sell Panaya and Skava during its Q4 earnings announcement on Friday.

    The 30-share barometer, which cracked the 34,000-mark at the outset, hit a low of 33,899.34 on profit-booking in recent gainers amid sustained outflows by foreign funds.

    However, towards the middle of the session, revival of buying, spread over a broad front, helped wiping out initial losses and touched the day's high of 34,341.46 before settling higher by 112.78 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 34,305.43.

    The index had risen 1,173.88 points in the past seven sessions.

    The 50-share NSE Nifty too moved in a wide range on hectic selling and buying and finally closed 47.75 points, or 0.46 per cent, higher at 10,528.35. Intra-day, it hovered between 10,396.35 and 10,540.15.

    Market breadth was negative with 1,253 stocks closing higher against 1416 stocks ending lower on BSE.

    Global stocks 

    Global shares were mixed in Asia on Monday, with Chinese benchmarks leading declines in Asia. The air strikes on Syria appeared to be having scant impact on trading, and oil prices fell back. Eyes were on Chinese GDP data due on Tuesday. The FTSE 100 in Britain dropped 0.4 percent to 7,236.05 while Germany's DAX added 0.2 percent to 12,464.26. The CAC 40 in France was flat at 5,316.11. The future for the S&P 500 climbed 0.6 percent while the future for the Dow Jones industrial average was also up 0.6 percent, pointing to early gains on Wall Street.

Flipkart to announce new exclusive partnership with 'tech giant' on April 17
  • E-commerce giant Flipkart is expected to make two big announcements on Tuesday. In a teaser posted on the e-tailer's Twitter page, Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy said, "Long term partnerships have transformed the way India buys mobile phones. We are proud to enter into an exclusive partnership with a 'tech giant' to disrupt the mobile phone landscape in a big way. Get ready for two big announcements soon."

    While the homegrown online marketplace has not given any names as to who will be its likely 'tech giant' partner, media reports suggest that it could be a partnership with Huawei which is planning to launch the latest P20 series, or a partnership with Motorola to announce the upcoming Moto G6 mid-range series.

    Huawei, a Chinese tech giant and the third largest smartphone maker in China, is now gearing up to launch its P20 line up in Indian market. Huawei caters to the mid-end segment and sells phones below the price line of Rs 30,000.

    Another entrant could be Moto G6. Even though Moto is yet to make a debut with its new product Moto G6 on e-commerce website Flipkart. An event is also lined-up in Brazil for the launch of Moto G6 and it also includes other smartphones like Moto G6, Moto G6 Plus, Moto G6 Play

    Flipkart will also run a 'Laptop Bonanza' sale from April 17-19. The e-commerce website claimed that it will offer up to Rs 38,000 off on laptops.

General Awareness

Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.
Pradhan Mantri Ujwala Yojana

  • Context: Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) was launched in the state of Telangana on the birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

    About the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana:

    Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana aims to provide LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to poor households.

    Who is eligible? Under the scheme, an adult woman member of a below poverty line family identified through the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is given a deposit-free LPG connection with financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per connection by the Centre.

    Identification of households: Eligible households will be identified in consultation with state governments and Union territories. The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

    Some of the objectives of the scheme are:

    Empowering women and protecting their health.
    Reducing the serious health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuel.
    Reducing the number of deaths in India due to unclean cooking fuel.
    Preventing young children from significant number of acute respiratory illnesses caused due to indoor air pollution by burning the fossil fuel.

    What makes LPG adoption necessary?

    About 75 crore Indians, especially women and girls, are exposed to severe household air pollution (HAP) from the use of solid fuels such as biomass, dung cakes and coal for cooking. A report from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare places HAP as the second leading risk factor contributing to India’s disease burden.

    According to the World Health Organization, solid fuel use is responsible for about 13% of all mortality and morbidity in India (measured as Disability-Adjusted Life Years), and causes about 40% of all pulmonary disorders, nearly 30% of cataract incidences, and over 20% each of ischemic heart disease, lung cancer and lower respiratory infection.

    Significance of the project:

    PMUY has been a revolutionary initiative that has transformed the lives of more than 3.57 crore households spanning across the length and breadth of the country. The initiative is in line with Governments aim to eradicate energy poverty, thereby promoting economic empowerment.

    Way ahead:

    The PMUY is a bold and much-needed initiative, but it should be recognised that this is just a first step. The real test of the PMUY and its successor programmes will be in how they translate the provision of connections to sustained use of LPG or other clean fuels such as electricity or biogas. Truly smokeless kitchens can be realized only if the government follows up with measures that go beyond connections to actual usage of LPG. This may require concerted efforts cutting across Ministries beyond petroleum and natural gas and including those of health, rural development and women and child welfare.

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