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Current Affairs - 05 May 2018

General Affairs 

Final Assault On Top Hizbul Terrorist Sameer Tiger Caught On Camera
  • A video widely circulated over the social media captures the final assault on a top terrorist who had hid in a house in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district.

    The clipping that's over a minute long was apparently shot by a jawan shows the final moments of the operation launched by the army that led to the killing of Sameer Tiger, a commander of the terrorist group Hizbul Mujahideen and one of south Kashmir's most wanted.

    The video shows the house surrounded by armoured vehicles, one of them is seen sprinkling inflammable liquid on the house in which the terrorist had taken shelter. An incendiary bomb is then fired after which the house and an adjoining walnut tree catch fire.

    As the house is engulfed in flames, the terrorist, who was often seen carrying an US-made M16 rifle, moves to the terrace. Some soldiers engaged in the operation can be heard shouting "there is Sameer". When he tried to flee, a hail of bullets is fired, killing him on the spot.

    Hours before the encounter began, Sameer had circulated a video clip on social media and dared Army officer Major Rohit Shukla. While interrogating a local resident on suspicion of being a security forces informer, the terrorist asked him to tell Major Shukla "just because the tiger had stopped hunting, you think the jungle was yours".

    Major Shukla took the challenge and led the operation against the terrorist. The army officer and a jawan were injured in the gun battle. Officials say Major Shukla's condition is now stable.

    As per the new security doctrine, the shelter houses are being destroyed to prevent casualties on security forces. While police say the houses often catch fire during the exchange of fire, the video clearly shows that security forces have changed their tactics.

    Earlier, troops would storm shelter houses and go for room intervention operations to neutralise hiding militants without destroying buildings. But that was too risky as security forces would often suffer causalities in such sanitising operations.

    On Wednesday, three houses were destroyed by security forces in Shopian. Police admit that no terrorist was present in the houses, saying the operation was launched on the suspicion that a group of fleeing terrorists had taken shelter in them. One of the destroyed houses was owned by a police sub-inspector.

"Women First" For Government And Party, Says PM Modi
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that India is moving forward from women development to women-led development, and "women first" is the mantra of his government and the BJP.

    Reaching out to women ahead of the May 12 Assembly elections in Karnataka, PM Modi asked them to help the BJP win by focusing on polling booths.

    "Today, the country is moving forward from women development to women-led development," PM Modi said, interacting with Karnataka BJP Mahila Morcha workers through the 'NarendraModi App', his third such outreach aimed at galvanising the party machinery for D-day.

    He had earlier interacted with BJP office-bearers and candidates, and state farmers' wing leaders.

    "We have such a mantra for country's development, our party also believes in this mantra," he said.

    "Mahila shakti (woman power)," PM Modi said, was important in the BJP's scheme of things.

    "For us, whether it is the organisation or the government, or framing of programmes, it is women first," he added.

    Noting that capable women hold important portfolios in his cabinet, PM Modi pointed at two group photos of the SCO summit in China where External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman were the only women.

    "Both of them have connection with Karnataka," he said. Ms Sitaraman is a Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka, while Ms Swaraj had contested the 1999 Lok Sabha polls from Ballari against Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, which the latter won.

    Lauding women BJP workers, PM Modi asked them to focus on winning at the polling booth level.

    "We have to win the state election and we will win. We have to win Assembly constituency we will win. But as always I urge karyakartas (workers)...for me the most important thing is winning polling booths," he said.

    PM Modi said if a party ensures it wins at the polling booth level, no power can defeat it.

    "Where is the victory? It is in polling booths, rest is all its effects. We have to win polling booths. When we have to win polling booths, we will have to go to homes, highlight the false promises and misdeeds of Karnataka's Congress government," he said.

    PM Modi asked the Mahila Morcha workers to appeal to everyone to join India's journey to progress.

    The Prime Minister said Mahila Morcha activists are the most effective in doing that as they do it by building trust.

    Responding to a question about the Congress spreading "falsehood" despite his government's work for empowering women, PM Modi said, "If they don't spread lies, how will their vehicle run? Spreading lies is the only thing left for them to do, and because of it they are losing trust...people are disappointed."

    He said though several schemes were launched for welfare of women in the past they lacked direction and did not take into account their basic and small needs.

    The Prime Minister enlisted various initiatives of his government for women empowerment, health care and maternity leave requirements.

    While responding to a question by a woman BJP activist about atrocities on women and ways to check them, he said a blend of family values, culture, functioning of police and authorities, and prompt justice can play an important role in checking such incidents.

    The Prime Minister also stressed on the need for instilling the "fear of law". He said provisions of the IPC, CRPC and POCSO were made more stringent by his government to instil that fear.

    "Those committing rape of innocent children can be hanged. Necessary steps have been taken for time-bound investigation and fast track courts have been set up for such crimes," he added.

    Terming female infanticide "perversity of the society", he spoke about 'Beti Bachao, Bati Padhao' programme of his government and the positive developments it has brought about in areas with poor gender ratio.

    PM Modi said whether they are homemaker, job seeker or job creator, his government stands by women. He said women should play an equal role in social, economic and other fields of life.

    The Prime Minister said whether it is the Olympics or Commonwealth games, Indian women made the country proud. They are also excelling in the defence forces and becoming entrepreneurs.

    In a first, his government has decided that women will be in a combat role in the Army, he said, adding a proposal for giving them 33 per cent reservation in police force in the Union Territories is also under consideration.

    PM Modi said his government and the BJP are "completely and comprehensively" committed to "naari shakti" (women power), a significant part of the New India vision.

Missing Several Deadlines, Railways' Freight Corridor Project Sets New Target
  • Failing several times to meet its deadlines, Indian Railways has yet again set a new target of April 2020 for commissioning of the 3,342-km Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) along its trunk routes.

    Moving at a snail's pace, the ambitious Rs. 814 billion project had got the Union Cabinet's green signal way back in 2006 and since then it has not been able to meet completion schedules so far due to various reasons, including procedural wrangles, land acquisition, environment clearances and other related issues.

    The project, comprising the Eastern and Western corridors, aims to speed up the movement of freight while easing the congested routes for passenger traffic.

    The targeted completion of the project was 2016-17, shifted to the year-end of 2017-18 and now has finally been set at April 2020.

    Admitting to delays because of many issues, a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the project said: "Both the corridors are to be commissioned by April 2020 as most of the problems are now being resolved."

    According to a CAG report in 2014, "the delay in completing the project was mainly due to lack of proper planning and implementation" which has resulted in cost escalation from Rs. 281.81 billion in 2008 to Rs. 814.59 billion.

    According to CAG estimates, there was a Rs. 44.52 billion increase in the land cost by 2014 itself.

    However, the official said: "Now the land acquisition is almost complete and significant contracts related to civil and electrical works and signalling have been awarded, resulting in the works being speeded up."

    The project is crucial for Indian Railways as it faces a stiff competition from the road sector for goods movement. The shifting of goods from roads to rail will also save precious fossil fuel which will be a boon for the environment.

    Since the progress of the project is now being closely monitored by the Prime Minister's Office, the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL) has finalised a series of target dates for partial commissioning of the corridors in limited sections.

    For the Western DFC, the target of commissioning the Rewari-Marwar section (432 km) is February 2019, the Marwar-Palanpur section (207 km) is September 2019 and the Palanpur-Makarpur section (308 km), the Makarpura-Vaitran section (313 km) and the Rewari-Dadri section (127 km) is March 2020.

    For the Eastern DFC, the new targets are Khujra-Bhaupur section (343 km) by November 2018, the Bhaupur-Mughalsarai section (402 km) by August 2019, the Sonnagar-Mughalsarai section (126 km) by October 2019, the Khurja-Dadri section (46 km) by December 2019 and the Pilkhani-Sahnewal section (179 km) March 2020.

    The 1,840 km Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor from Ludhiana to Dankuni near Kolkata traverses Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

    The 1,502 km Western Dedicated Freight Corridor from Dadri (Uttar Pradesh) to Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (Navi Mumbai) passes through Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

    The corridors are expected to greatly contribute towards the economic development of the states they traverse as well as help ease the traffic load on the existing Indian Railways network.

    "Steps are being taken to make operational part of the Western corridor and a part of the Eastern corridor by November this year," the official said.

At 30 Million A Year, India Doing Extremely Well On Electrification: World Bank
  • India is doing "extremely well" on electrification with nearly 85 per cent of the country's population having access to electricity, the World Bank has said.

    Between 2010 and 2016, India provided electricity to 30 million people each year, more than any other country, the World Bank said in its latest report released this week.

    While challenges still remain to provide electricity to the remaining 15 per cent of the approximately 1.3 billion population, India is all set to achieve the target of universal access to electricity before the 2030 target date, Vivien Foster, Lead Energy Economist at the World Bank told news agency PTI.

    The report comes less than a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that all the villages in the country have been electrified. The report said that nearly 85 per cent of the country's population has access to electricity.

    "India is doing extremely well on electrification. We are reporting India about 85 per cent of the population has access to electricity," said Foster, lead World Bank author of the latest report on Energy Progress.

    This figure, she pointed out, is higher than that of the Indian government. "That might surprise you. The government is currently reporting in low 80s," she said.

    While the World Bank's methodology is based on household survey, which includes even those who are off grid, while the figures of the government is based on official utility connection, she said.

    "In absolute terms, India is doing more on electrification than any other countries. Thirty million a year, is really an astounding performance and it stands out from the crowd," Ms Foster said.

    However, India is not the fastest country in electrification. Bangladesh and Kenya, for example are faster in electrification than India, she noted.

    India, she said, is now entering the final stage of electrification.

    "You are already well over 80 per cent, so you're getting into the more difficult aspects of electrification: the more remote population, the harder to reach people," she explained.

    However, reliability of service is an area of concern for India, she said.

    "We know that in some parts of India or having the connection doesn't necessarily guarantee the energy's reliable supply. So, getting the connection obviously is very important, but India still has a long way to continue to work on actually making that access meaningful in terms of hours of service," Ms Foster said.

    Referring to India's tremendous electrification effort, the report said it expects 250 million people gaining electricity access between now and the early 2020s, when the country reaches full access.

    The rapid growth of electricity access in India is propelled by the country's $2.5 billion electrification programmes to reach universal electrification, the report said.

Technology Can Help India Leapfrog Into Inclusive Growth: Bill Gates
  • The use of technology coupled with bold decisions can help India leapfrog into inclusive growth and improve the quality of health and education, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has said.

    Appreciating Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Digital India' campaign along with the socio-economic reforms, Bill Gates said that digitisation can help monitor quality and eventually help the education system.

    The idea is "if you take care of their health, including nutrition and you improve the education system then the promise for India is really unbelievable," Mr Gates told news agency PTI in an interview.

    "Absolutely yes," Mr Gates said when asked if digitisation and modern technologies would help India achieve the goals of an ideal society as being articulated by top Indian leaders' post-independence.

    "The idea of growing up is having very high survival rates, growing up without malnutrition, giving birth without the mother's life being at risk; the next 20-25 years India will make a lot of progress on these things," said Bill Gates, who now is involved in major philanthropic activities globally as head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

    "It's not the only thing... it will help with the gender imbalance that we see," Mr Gates said.

    He said by driving innovation and better measurement one could actually accelerate the process of growth.

    "I do think that for a lot of these issues, India is very much on the cutting edge. For a lot of things, we do, we work with partners in India and the ones that are most successful are Aadhaar linked things related things," Bill Gates said.

    "Then we looked at how the countries that are in earlier stage of development can benefit. So a lot of these ideas will have a positive impact in Africa over time," he said.

    Referring to India's demographic profile, Mr Gates described it as a young country. He was highly appreciative of the steps being taken by Prime Minister Modi. "Certainly, some of the things he's taken on as priorities, like financial inclusion, improvements in sanitation, improving the vaccine system and adding new vaccines. I think that's really good," Mr Gates said.

    Bill Gates also said that he has had interactions with Prime Minister Modi, which were independent of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

    "Because he's been a leader on some climate change issues. He came to the Paris event and talked about the need for innovation and actually coined the term mission innovation that over 30 countries have signed up to about increasing R&D," he said.

    Mr Gates, while responding to a question, said that a critical mass of digital accounts at the time of demonetisation would have made things easier for Indians in the immediate aftermath of demonetisation.

    Well, the idea that over time a lot of the financial transactions will be done digitally instead of using hard currency, I think that's a good trend, both for efficiency and visibility, said.

Business Affairs

Walmart trumps Amazon to acquire 75% stake in Flipkart: report
  • After months of negotiations, it appears that Walmart may have finally trumped Amazon in the race to buy Flipkart. The brick-and-mortar retailer has reportedly outrivalled the global online retail behemoth to acquire around 75 per cent stake in India's largest e-commerce platform.

    According to a Bloomberg report, the board of Flipkart Online Services Pvt has given its nod to an agreement to sell about 75 percent of the company to a Walmart Inc.-led group for roughly $15 billion. The sale values Indian e-commerce market leader at around $20 billion.

    As part of the deal, Flipkart's largest shareholder, SoftBank, will sell all of its stake through an investment fund. SoftBank owns more than 20 per cent stake in e-tailer. Google's parent Alphabet is reportedly in talks with Bentonville, Arkansas-based retail major to acquire a minority stake in India's largest online marketplace.

    According to reports, the tech giant is likely to invest $1-2 billion. Alphabet and Walmart already have a partnership in the US since last year. In US, Walmart products are sold on Google Express, its online shopping mall. Google also sells Walmart products through Google Assistant on Google Home, its voice-controlled speaker which competes with Amazon's Echo. Walmart customers also have the option of linking their accounts to Google.

    The coming together of world's two biggest corporations is being viewed as an attempt to challenge Amazon's booming retail business across the world. The partnership is also meant to leap into the voice-based shopping experience in future.

    Walmart's acquisition of Flipkart will help the world's largest retailer in challenging the dominance of Amazon which has been eating up its market share in the US. The deal will also give a fillip to Walmart's online ambitions in a significantly huge market like India.

    Earlier in the day, The Economic Times reported that Flipkart's Executive Chairman Sachin Bansal may quit if the acquisition  by Walmart comes to fruition. Bansal has been at the helm of the company he co-founded for over a decade.

    Bansal, who holds about 5.5 per cent stake in the Indian e-commerce bellwether, is likely to take home more than $1 billion as the estimated valuation of Flipkart has been pegged around $20 billion for the Walmart buyout.

    In 2007, former Amazon executive, Sachin Bansal, teamed up with his IIT-Delhi batch mate Binny Bansal, to start Flipkart as an online books seller. Bansals began operations out of their Bengaluru apartment.

    While Sachin Bansal has serving as the CEO of the company from 2007 to 2016, Binny Bansal took care of the logistics section as the chief operating officer (COO). Binny was later elevated to Group CEO.

    Flipkart's early investors like New York-based Tiger Global, Accel and South African internet conglomerate Naspers are likely to sell their entire stakes in Flipkart to Walmart if a deal is reached. Last year, Japan's SoftBank bought a 20 per cent stake in the country's leading etailer for $2.5 billion through its $100 billion technology-focused Vision Fund. It was the biggest ever private investment in an Indian tech firm at the time.

    Walmart had earlier completed its due diligence for the Flipkart deal. Both Walmart and India's homegrown e-commerce leader stand to gain much if this long-speculated deal goes through. To begin with, they get to pool resources to compete against a common enemy, Amazon, in online as well as offline retail channels. Walmart also gets to grab a foothold in India's booming e-commerce industry.

    Meanwhile, Flipkart stands to not only add financial muscle but also strengthen its supply chain and enhance efficiency in procurement, product assortment and retailing. India's leading e-tailer, besides, has been looking to open retail stores in India for a long time now but has been waiting for the right investment partner. As such, the partnership between Walmart and Flipkart already seems like a match made in heaven.

New GST return filing process: No provisional input credit, no invoice matching
  • The GST Council has finally given its nod to a simplified Goods and Services Tax (GST) return filing process. Though it may take over a year to for the final system of return filing be in place, the system looks much simpler than the one earlier envisaged and the one currently followed.

    As per the design of the final system, all taxpayers excluding a few exceptions like composition dealer would file one monthly return. Return filing dates would be staggered based on the turnover of the registered person to manage load on the IT system. Composition dealers and dealers having nil transaction would have facility to file quarterly return.

    The new system does away with matching of invoices and the requirement of the buyers to upload invoices. The input tax credit would be available to buyer purely on the basis of the invoices uploaded by the seller.

    The seller can continuously upload invoices while the buyer can continuously see it. The buyer has the option of 'accepting' the invoice uploaded by the former. Once the buyer has accepted the invoice seller cannot edit or delete the invoices.

    Invoices for B2B transaction should have HSN at four digit level or more to achieve uniformity in the reporting system.  The B2B dealers will have to fill invoice-wise details of the outward supply made by them, based on which the system will automatically calculate the tax liability. The input tax credit will be calculated automatically by the system based on invoices uploaded by the sellers.  

    The input tax credit though would be available only on payment of tax. If the tax is not paid and input tax credit has been availed, then the credit would be reversed, though not automatically as suggested by the model proposed by Nandan Nilkeni, Infosys Chairman and former UIDAI chief.

    The statement issued by the finance ministry says that there would not be any automatic reversal of input tax credit from buyer on non-payment of tax by the seller. "In case of default in payment of tax by the seller, recovery would be made from the seller however reversal of credit from buyer should also be an option available with the revenue authorities to address exceptional situations like missing dealer, closure of business by supplier or supplier not having adequate assets etc."
    Recovery of tax or reversal of input tax credit would be through a due process of issuing notice and order. The process would be online and automated to reduce the human interface.  

    This system may take 1-1.5 years to get implemented. In the transition period - during the first six months, the existing system would continue. In the second phase, the new return will have facility for invoice-wise data upload and also facility for claiming input tax credit on self declaration basis, as in case of GSTR 3B now.

    In the second phase, the dealer will be constantly fed with information about gap between credit available to them as per invoices uploaded by their sellers and the provisional credit being claimed by them. After 6 months of this phase 2, the facility of provisional credit will get withdrawn and input tax credit will only be limited to the invoices uploaded by the sellers from whom the dealer has purchased goods.

GST Council meet: Govt to own 100% of GSTN; sugar cess faces opposition from states
  • The GST Council meet chaired by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday discussed a wide range of issues including ownership of GSTN, digital payments discount, sugar cess and simplification of GST returns forms. The 27th GST Council meet, which took place via video conferencing, deferred the decision on levying any cess on sugar as it faced opposition from several states.

    The issue of imposing a sugar cess in the wake of mismatch in prices was deferred. It was agreed that a committee comprising of five state finance ministers will recommend its suggestions to the GST Council. The panel will look for avenues available with the government in case of contingencies like the one where sugar is selling at prices lower than the market price and farmers are suffering losses.

    Opposing the move to introduce a cess on specific items, Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac told CNBC TV18 that a new cess on a particular commodity would add to the confusion. "If there is a sugar cess then there should be a cess on rubber as farmers in Kerala have suffered losses too," Isaac said.

    Under fire from various quarters over the ownership of GSTN (Goods and Service Tax Network), the Finance Minister said that the government is considering to buy the 51 per cent stake in the GSTN which is currently held by private entities. As of today, only 49 per cent is held by the government. This includes 24.5 per cent each by central and state governments.

    According to the proposal, the Centre will hold 50 per cent and the rest of the 50 per cent will be held by state governments. The share of state governments will be decided on a pro-rata basis depending on the revenue generated by each state, Jaitley said in the press briefing.

    GSTN is a not-for-profit organisation owned by the government and private players jointly. It serves as the technology backbone to India's most ambitious indirect tax reforms and runs the GST portal.

    Digital Transactions

    To popularize small digital transactions, a 2 per cent incentive on digitised payments will be given to those who pay entire sum in digital way. However, the discount/incentive will be capped at Rs 100. The Finance Minister said a committee of 5 ministers from the states will be constituted which will consider different viewpoints on this issue.

    Jaitley added that while most states were in favour of giving a 2 per cent incentive if all payments are paid digitally or through cheques, some wanted a small negative list.

    Simplified return filing

    On simplification of filing of GST returns forms, Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia announced a new simplified return that would require a taxpayer to file only one return every month.

    "It will take about six month for GSTN to prepare for it so for that period the current arrangement of GSTR3B and GSTR 1 will continue. This will be the first phase of transition where the current system will continue for the next six months," said Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia.

    "Composition dealer and zero transaction dealers will continue to file on a quarterly basis. Today, we find that the returns which are filed, 30% are nil returns, which means there is no transaction on them," Adhia added.

    The crucial GST Council meet comes at a time when GST revenues crossed Rs 1 lakh crore for the first time. As mentioned by the Ministry of Finance, the total gross GST revenue collected in April was Rs 1,03,458 crore.

Sensex closes 187 points lower, Nifty at 10,618; PC Jeweller rises 43.72%
  • After starting on a positive note, the benchmark BSE Sensex closed lower today on weak global cues as investors eyed the outcome of US-China trade talks, ahead of the US jobs report. While the Sensex fell 187 points or 0.53% at 34,915 level, the Nifty closed 61 points or 0.57% lower at 10,618. Sun Pharma (2.95%), YES Bank (2.43%) and Bajaj Auto (2.42%) were the top losers on Sensex. 

    Of 30 Sensex stocks, 20 ended in the red. Adani Ports (2.87%), HUL (0.90%) and HDFC Bank (0.80%) were the top Sensex gainers. 

    Brokers said, a weak trend in other Asian bourses as investors watched the outcome of trade talks between the US and China, ahead of the April employment data, to be released later in the day, influenced sentiments here. 

    PC Jeweller was the top gainer on BSE rising 43.72% or 53 points to 174.55 level.  The stock is up nearly 54% during the last two trading sessions. Market breadth was negative with 1116 stocks closing higher against 1578 ending lower on BSE. 131 stocks were unchanged. Market participants booked profits at higher levels in opening trade, brokers added. 

    Meanwhile, on a net basis, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) sold shares worth Rs 148.42 crore and domestic institutional investors (DIIs) sold shares worth Rs 578.92 crore in yesterday's trade, provisional data showed. 

    Global markets 
    Shares were mostly lower in Europe and Asia on Friday as investors watched the outcome of trade talks between the United States and China. European stocks opened mixed. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.5 percent to 7,541.61 while France's CAC 40 slipped 0.3 percent to 5,487.95. Germany's DAX added 0.2 percent to 12,714.72. 

    Futures augured a lackluster start on Wall Street with Dow futures down 0.2 percent and S&P futures dipping 0.1 percent. Asian markets finished lower. South Korea's Kospi sank 1 percent to 2,461.38 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lost 1.3 percent to 29,926.50. 

    The Shanghai Composite Index retreated 0.3 percent to 3,091.03 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.6 percent to 6,062.90. Japan was closed for a public holiday. Stocks rose in Taiwan but fell in Singapore and Indonesia.

Sebi extends timing for trading in equity derivatives till 11:55 pm
  • In good news for equity derivatives traders, market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has allowed stock exchanges to extend timing of equity derivatives trading till 11:55 pm with effect from October 1, 2018.

    The move is aimed to enable integration of trading of various segments of securities market at the level of exchanges, Sebi said. Trading in equity derivatives will take place from 9:00 am to 11:55 pm, similar to the trading hours for commodity derivatives segment which are presently fixed between 10:00 am and 11:55 pm starting October. 

    In case, stock exchanges are desirous of extending the trade timings beyond the extant trading hours, prior approval from SEBI shall be sought along with a detailed proposal including the framework for risk management, settlement process, monitoring of positions, availability of manpower, system capability, surveillance systems, Sebi said.
    The permission is subject to stock exchanges and clearing corporations have in place risk management system and infrastructure commensurate to the trading hours.

    In case, stock exchanges plan to extend the trade timings beyond the extant trading hours, they would require prior approval from Sebi, according to the circular.

    The bourses would also be required to submit a detailed proposal, including the framework for risk management, settlement process, monitoring of positions, availability of manpower, system capability and surveillance systems.

    In December, the Sebi board had announced much-awaited integration of stocks and commodities trading on a single exchange from October this year.

    Currently, commodity derivatives are traded on separate exchanges, which include MCX and NCDEX.

    Sebi has already been regulating the commodities derivative market after the merger of erstwhile Forward Markets Commission (FMC) with it.

    In his budget for 2017-18, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had proposed that the commodities and securities derivative markets would be integrated further by integrating the participants, brokers and operational frameworks. 

    General Awareness

    Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme
    • Context: The Ministry of Women and Child Development recently held a National Conference of 244 Districts under Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) in New Delhi. The Nodal Officers of 244 Districts, State Nodal Officers and Senior officers were part of the conference.

      About BBBP:

      Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) Scheme was launched in January, 2015. The scheme is aimed at promoting gender equality and the significance of educating girls.
      The Scheme is targeted at improving the Child Sex Ratio through multi sectoral interventions including prevention of gender biased sex selection and promoting girls’ education and her holistic empowerment.
      It is a tri-ministerial effort of Ministries of Women and Child Development, Health & Family Welfare and Human Resource Development.

      Concerns:

      The low and falling child sex ratio in the country is a matter of policy concern, not only because it violates the human rights of unborn and infant girls but also because it deprives the country of the potential economic and social contribution of these ‘missing women’.
      In addition, there may be longer-run adverse impacts from a marriage market squeeze caused by an excess supply of male relative to female youth. Already, states like Haryana and Punjab, where the sex ratio has been extremely distorted for several decades, have been experiencing bride trafficking.

      Way ahead:

      Declining sex ratio is a silent emergency. But the crisis is real, and its persistence has profound and frightening implications for society and the future of humankind. Clearly, there is a need to go beyond slogans and institute tangible schemes. Enforcement of the law that prohibits determination of the sex of the foetus must go hand in hand with massive social investments to protect both immediate and long-term prospects of girls — in the form of cash incentives through registration of births, a continuum of health care, early educational opportunities and social protection. Half-measures cannot produce a dramatic reversal of the shameful national record.

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