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Current Affairs - 28 April 2018

General Affairs 

PM Modi presents gifts to President Xi on Wuhan Summit sidelines

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday presented Chinese President Xi Jinping reprints of two paintings done by the celebrated Chinese painter Xu Beihong (1895-1953) during his stay at Santiniketan between 1939 and 1940, sources said.

    Titled "The Horse" and "Sparrows and Grass", these paintings are in the collection of the Visva Bharati University and their single reprints were especially commissioned by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) for presentation on the sidelines of the informal summit meeting between the two leaders at Wuhan.

    Sources further revealed that Xu Beihong came to Santiniketan and taught at the Kala Bhavana as its first visiting professor from China.

    During his stay, Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore inaugurated an exhibition of more than 150 paintings of Beihong in December 1939.

    Prime Minister Modi arrived in Wuhan early on Friday and had one-on-one and delegation-level talks with President Xi. Both leaders also undertook a visit to an exhibition of Marquis Yi of Zeng Cultural Relics and Treasure at the Hubei Provincial Museum.

    Following delegation-level talks, the Chinese President hosted a dinner for the visiting Indian Prime Minister at which Chinese cuisine was served.

    Sources said that in a departure from protocol and in a unique gesture, the Chinese President saw off Prime Minister Modi after dinner.

PM Modi pitches for strong bilateral ties with China
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday underscored the need for strengthening bilateral relations between India and China through his own version of "Panchsheel" or five-point agenda.

    At the delegation-level talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the East Lake Guesthouse here, Prime Minister Modi said through the "Panchsheel", the bolstering of bilateral relations between the two Asian giants will be based on - shared vision, strong relationship, shared resolve, better communication and shared thought process.

    "If we follow the path of Panchsheel, it will bring world peace, stability and prosperity," the Prime Minister added.

    To this, President Xi said China was ready to cooperate and work with India to seek guidance, with the help of the five principles of Panchsheel, as proposed by Prime Minister Modi.

    In 1954, when India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited China, he signed a peace treaty called "Panchsheel" with then Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai to respect each other's sovereignty.

    The original "Panchsheel" agreement stated the five principles as follows - mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in each other's internal affairs, peaceful coexistence and equality and cooperation for mutual benefit.

    Stressing on the importance of India to China, Prime Minister Modi said, "This is possibly for the first time that you have met a country's leader twice outside the capital Beijing. This is a sign of the importance that you accord to India as a country."

    Underscoring the need to work together, Prime Minister Modi added, "We (India-China) have the responsibility to work for 40 percent of the world population. This means trying to successfully get the world rid of many problems. To work together towards this is a big opportunity for us."

    He further said that such informal summits between India and China should happen more often, adding that they should become a tradition between the two Asian giants.

    Inviting President Xi to hold a similar informal summit next year in India, Prime Minister Modi said, "I hope such informal summits become a tradition between both countries. I'll be happy if, in 2019, we can have such an informal summit in India."

    Earlier today, Prime Minister Modi and President Xi held one-on-one talks after the former arrived in Wuhan.

    Both leaders discussed the historical past and civilisational ties of both India and China as Prime Minister Modi also recalled his visit to Three Gorges Dam when he was Gujarat's Chief Minister.

    After that, President Xi took Prime Minister Modi on a tour of the exhibition of Marquis Yi of Zeng Cultural Relics and Treasure at the Hubei Provincial Museum in Wuhan.

    The Hubei Provincial Museum, one of the most prominent museums in China, opened in 1954, and has many state-level historic and cultural relics.

    The ongoing informal summit between India and China is expected to bring a thaw in tensions between the two nations, that had arisen due to the Doklam stand-off last year.

    Prime Minister Modi will depart for India on Saturday afternoon.

PM doing everything to maintain friendly ties with neighbours: Rajnath
  • Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his intention to maintain friendly relations with neighbouring nations.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Wuhan, China, for a two-day informal summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping that is expected to give a new direction to bilateral ties.

    "It is not just China, we want to be friendly with every neighbouring country. Our Prime Minister has been doing everything he can so that our relationship with our neighbours become better," Singh said.

    Modi arrived in Wuhan on Friday for delegation-level talks with President Xi. The summit is expected to defuse tensions between India and China post the Doklam stand-off.

    Friday started off with both holding a one-on-one talks after which they visited an exhibition of Marquis Yi of Zeng Cultural Relics and Treasure at the Hubei Provincial Museum.

    Thereafter both held delegation-level talks, accompanied by six top officials each, at the East Lake Guesthouse, where President Xi is residing. The meeting, which was originally scheduled for half-an-hour, went on for more than two hours.

    At the meeting, Modi asserted that China and India have set the pace for the world economy over the last 1,600 years, while also stressing on the importance of India and China working together "to successfully get the world rid of many problems."

    The Chinese President later hosted a dinner for Prime Minister Modi, at which Chinese cuisine was served.

    Last year, a military stand-off in the Doklam region was resolved after 73 days. Both sides arrived at an understanding then to disengage. 

Rahul dubs PM Modi's China tour a 'no agenda visit'
  • Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's unprecedented informal summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping while calling it a 'no agenda' summit.

    Rahul took to his Twitter and said, "Dear PM, Saw the live TV feed of your "No Agenda" China visit. You look tense! A quick reminder:

    Modi arrived in Wuhan on Thursday to hold an informal summit with President Xi, with the two set to discuss on several key issues of common interests and reset bilateral ties, which took a hit post the two-month-long Doklam standoff.

    In an another tweet, the Congress chief also described the proposed US visa rules as a "huge setback" for India saying, "New US Visa Rules, huge setback for India...There are some things a hug can buy. For visas, you're on your own. Foreign Policy by Narendra Modi, Foreword by Donald Trump."

    India Business News: In a move that would impact nearly a 100,000 spouses of Indian workers, mostly women, the Donald Trump administration plans to revoke a policy which e

    His tweet comes in the backdrop of US President Donald Trump administration's new visa rules which disallow the spouses of H-1B visa holders to obtain an employment authorisation document (EAD).

UPSC Civil Services results out, Hyderabad's Anudeep Durishetty tops
  • The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on Friday announced the results of the Civil Services examinations held in October 2017, with Hyderabad candidate Anudeep Durishetty topping the list.

    Anu Kumari and Sachin Gupta secured the second and third position respectively.

    As many as 980 posts, 54 of which are for reserved categories, in various government departments like the Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Central Services (Group A and Group B) were up for contention in the UPSC examinations.

Business Affairs

Capital Float raises first international debt line of Rs 48 cr.
  • Leading digital lender Capital Float on Friday announced raising debt of Rs. 48 crores from the Netherlands-based asset management company, Triodos Investment Management (Triodos IM).

    The latter is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Triodos Bank, one of the world's leading sustainable banks, and manages EUR 3.3 billion in AUM.

    This takes Capital Float's total debt raise to USD 130 million ( Rs 840 crores).

    The company has raised USD 107 million (Rs 695 crores) in equity thus far.

    Triodos IM is the first international investment management company to invest in debt at Capital Float through its investment funds Triodos Fair Share Fund and Triodos Microfinance Fund.

    Through this collaboration, Triodos IM intends to increase its strategic focus on SME lending in India.

    Capital Float will leverage the funds from the debt raise for the purpose of onward lending, as the company continues adding to its existing AUM of over Rs 1200 crores.

    "This collaboration with Triodos IM indicates Capital Float's ever-growing reputation in the international financial circles. Investments like these will help put digital lending in India in the international spotlight. With this fresh injection of funds, we will strengthen our focus on expanding our MSME borrower segments," said Gaurav Hinduja and Sashank Rishyasringa, co-founders of Capital Float, in a joint statement.

    Aditya Mohan, Senior Investment Officer said, "We are pleased to partner with Capital Float and are enthused by their approach of using technology as an enabler for collaboration in financial services. We look forward to contributing to a digital eco-system which can make credit accessible and affordable to MSMEs".

    Northern Arc Capital performed a crucial role in facilitating the debt raise between Capital Float and Triodos IM.

    "We are excited to have played a critical role in an important transaction. The investment by Triodos IM in Capital Float is a great demonstration of our commitment to back clients in every way possible along their growth path," said Dr. Kshama Fernandes - MD and CEO Northern Arc Capital.

GST collection at Rs.7.19 lakh crore from Aug 17 & Mar 18
  • The government mobilised Rs.7.19 lakh crore from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from August 2017 to March 2018, according to the Ministry of Finance.

    This includes Rs. 1.19 lakh crore of Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST), Rs. 1.72 lakh crore of State Goods and Services Tax (SGST), Rs. 3.66 lakh crore of Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST), including Rs. 1.73 lakh crore on imports, and Rs. 62,021 crore of cess, including Rs. 5702 crore on imports.

    For this eight months, the average monthly collection has been Rs. 89,885 crore.

    While the tax on domestic supplies in a month is collected through the process of returns and gets collected in the next month, IGST and cess on imports gets collected in the same month.

    Therefore, during the current year, GST on domestic supplies has been collected only in eight months from August 2017 to March 2018, IGST and cess on imports has been collected for nine months, from July 2017 to March 2018.

    Including the collection of July 2017, the total GST collection during the financial year 2017-18 stands provisionally at Rs. 7.41 lakh crore.

    The SGST collection during the year, including the settlement of IGST has been Rs. 2.91 lakh crore and the total compensation released to the states for a period of eight months during the last financial year was Rs. 41,147 crore to ensure that the revenue of the states is protected at the level of 14 percent over the base year tax collection in 2015-16.

    The revenue gap of each state is coming down over last eight months.

    Further, the average revenue gap of all states for last year is around 17 percent.

Global firms with combined market cap of USD 8.9 trillion come to India
  • International Business Congress ("IBC"), an international non-governmental and non-profit organisation with 122 members from 28 countries worldwide, held its annual general meeting for the first time in India at the invitation of Mr. Hemant Kanoria, Chairman and Managing Director, Srei and Trustee, Kanoria Foundation.

    More than 100 global corporations with a combined market capitalisation of USD 8.9 trillion and annual revenue of USD 2.3 trillion participated in IBC's twenty first annual general meeting in New Delhi reflecting India's meteoric rise as an economic powerhouse. The event served as a platform for economic co-operation, bringing forward proposals for debottlenecking and building favourable environment for safe and efficient entrepreneurial activities. The event is also expected to enhance opportunities for investments and trade cooperation between Indian and global corporations.

    "The government is on a mission mode to usher in structural reforms aimed at improving the business climate in India. Many outdated laws have been repealed. FDI (foreign direct investment) regime has been liberalised and new laws such as Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code have allayed investors' apprehensions on lack of exit route from their investments in India. Technology is also being embraced in a big way to make government processes more transparent and hassle-free. Now, India is definitely one of the most attractive investment destinations for global corporations," Mr. Kanoria said.

    The list of attendees of IBC's twenty first annual general meeting included Russian natural gas major Gazprom, German energy giant Uniper Global Commodities SE, Schneider Electric, Cisco Solutions LLC, Shell Exploration and Production Services B.V., Siemens A.G., Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Limited, J.P. Morgan Securities PLC, KPMG JSC, Hewlett Packard Inc., Goldman Sachs Russia Limited, Deutsche Bank A.G., UBS Bank Limited (Russia) and several other large global corporations.

    Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation and Mr. Amitabh Kant, Chief Executive Officer, National Institution for Transforming India Aayog ("NITI Aayog") also graced the event.

35.3L new payrolls generated from September-February
  • The NITI Aayog on Thursday claimed that 35.3 lakh new payrolls were generated between September 2017 and February 2018 from the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), and the Pension fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA).

    As per the monthly payroll data, 31.10 lakh new additions were made to the EPFO across all age groups in the payroll. Given that the data for recent months is provisional due to continuous updating of employee records, the NITI Aayog said the data could be called a conservative estimate.

    From the PFRDA, the New Pension Scheme (NPS) data indicated the generation of 4.2 lakh new payroll during the given period, only from Tier-I account. NPS currently manages the corpus of around 50 lakh employees in State and Central government, thus totaling to 35.3 lakh new jobs.

    In addition, the ESIC data also mirrored the payroll growth shown in the two sets of data from EPFO and PFRDA.

    India has, for the first time, introduced monthly payroll reporting for the formal sector to facilitate analysis of new and continuing employment. The numbers from these three organisations are to put an end to all speculations and conjectures regarding job creation in the economy.

    On a related note, payroll data from these three organisations would now be released every month, the NITI Aayog said.

    The government's think tank also said other organisations such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), Bar Council, Medical Council and other professional bodies could have such monthly data for payroll reporting for their professionals.

Mobile manufacturing industry to touch Rs.132, 000Cr by 2018 end
  • The Indian mobile manufacturing industry is expected to touch Rs 1, 32, 000 crores by the end of 2018, Union Minister, of Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Thursday.

    "India manufactured about 110 million mobile phones in 2015-16 as compared to 60 million in 2014-15 showing a growth of over 90 percent. In value terms, India's mobile manufacturing industry produced mobile phones worth Rs 54,000 crore in FY15-16 compared to Rs 18,900 crore in FY14-15. The same reached Rs 94,000 crore by end of 2017," Prasad said at the MeitY - ASSOCHAM-Ericsson Joint ICT Start-Ups Awards-2018.

    In terms of volume, in 2014, India produced five crore mobile phone made locally in India which reached 15 crores in 2015-16. In 2017 the Indian mobile manufacturing industry produced 22 million mobile phones. By 2020, the minister said this number would touch 50 million.

    In terms of electronics manufacturing units, Prasad said within three years, the industry added 120 such units, two-thirds of which are mobile manufacturing units, 54 in Noida alone.

    "On top of that these industries employ five lakh people," he added.

    With India being regarded as the world's third-largest start-up community after USA and England, Prasad said MeiTY is working in mission mode to make India's digital sector a USD 1 trillion economy in the next five years, with a potential to create 50 to 70 lakh new jobs.

    Prasad opined that the BPO industry should move to small towns where overhead costs are less compared to big cities. He further said about 86 new BPOs are operating in 27 states excluding digitally rich areas. BPO centers have already come up in Patna and Muzaffarpur, while such centers would soon be opened in smaller cities like Ghazipur, Jahanabad, and Gaya, he said.

    "The government will give a grant of Rs. 5 crore to start-ups doing innovation in the field of cybersecurity and healthcare," he added.

    The minister also mentioned the increasing adoption of the Umang (Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance) app and the Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) app that enables secure cashless payments through mobile phones.

    General Awareness

    World Press Freedom Index
    • Context: World Press Freedom Index for the year 2018 has been released.

      What is it?

      Published every year since 2002 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the World Press Freedom Index is an important advocacy tool based on the principle of emulation between states.

      What does it measure?

      The Index ranks 180 countries according to the level of freedom available to journalists. It is a snapshot of the media freedom situation based on an evaluation of pluralism, independence of the media, quality of legislative framework and safety of journalists in each country. It does not rank public policies even if governments obviously have a major impact on their country’s ranking. Nor is it an indicator of the quality of journalism in each country.

      Indicators:

      Along with the Index, RSF calculates a global indicator and regional indicators that evaluate the overall performance of countries (in the world and in each region) as regards media freedom. It is an absolute measure that complements the Index’s comparative rankings. The global indicator is the average of the regional indicators, each of which is obtained by averaging the scores of all the countries in the region, weighted according to their population as given by the World Bank.

      Press freedom map:

      The press freedom map, which is distributed in print and digital versions, offers a visual overview of the sitution in each country in the Index. The colour categories are assigned as follows: good (white), fairly good (yellow), problematic (yellow), bad (red) and very bad (black).

      Press Freedom Index 2018- Highlights:

      In this year’s index, Norway is first for the second year running, followed — as it was last year — by Sweden.
      India has dropped from rank 136 last year to rank 138 this year. India fared poorly on indicators such as hate speeches, attacks on journalists on social media, trolling them and targeting their reputation.
      SAARC nations: Afghanistan (118), Bhutan (94), Nepal (106), the Maldives (120), and Sri Lanka (131), all performed better than India; with Pakistan (139) and Bangladesh (146) performing worse.
      North Korea continues to rank last.

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