Current Affairs Current Affairs - 06 May 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 06 May 2018

General Affairs 

Will Start Work On Godavari Inland Waterways This Year, Says Nitin Gadkari
  • Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Saturday said he will strive to get work started on the Godavari inland waterways this year. He added that once the project is completed it will change the economy of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra.

    "Our department has done feasibility study for Godavari waterways and I will soon give orders for preparing detailed project report (DPR)," he said after laying the foundation for four national highway projects amounting to Rs. 1,523 crore in Hyderabad.

    "The Centre will allot an initial funding of Rs. 2,000 crore for this project. This is my dream project," the Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Water Resources said.

    Mr Gadkari called upon the three states to contribute 10 per cent equity each for setting up a special purpose vehicle (SPV).

    He added that he would procure the remaining funds at lesser interest rates and asked the governments of all the three states to send the proposals.

    "Work on 10 waterways in the country has begun. We are bringing in seaplanes and the rules for this will be finalized in the coming months," he said. He added that waterways would substantially bring down logistical costs.

    "For our industrial development, inland waterways are very important," Mr Gadkari said.

    Mr Gadkari said 3,000 TMC of Godavari water goes waste and the Centre is working on two projects to stop this flow of water. Instead, the water would be used for the benefit of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

    "We are working on stopping the wastage of water. Our priority is to see to it how these states will benefit from this," he added.

    "First we want to tap water from Indravathi and take it to tail-end of Cauvery (in Tamil Nadu) through two dams. This will be a 50,000 crore project," Mr Gadkari added.

    The second plan is through Polavaram project (in Andhra Pradesh). The plan is to transfer water from the river Godavari to Krishna river and from there to Pennar river. Finally it will join with the Cauvery, he said.

    Mr Gadkari further said, "India and Pakistan have three rivers each. Our rightful share of water is flowing into Pakistan and hence I have directed the department to prepare DPR to ensure that we will be able to transfer the water to Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan."

    He also announced approval of an additional Central Road Fund (CRF) of Rs. 750 crore to Telangana in addition to the Rs. 1,700 crore to the state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Coins New Definition For Electronic Voting Machines
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday gave a new definition for Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) even as he flayed the Congress for its oft repeated accusation that the Centre and BJP manipulated EVMs for winning elections.

    "E stands for Energy of the people, V for people's electoral value addition, and M for people's motivation for progress. This is EVM, I can see this EVM," PM Modi said at an election rally in Mangaluru.

    He said the writing on the wall is clear with regard to the Karnataka assembly polls.

    "On May 15, BJP will form government with full majority. So they have already started saying that Modi has tampered with EVM. Modi did not defeat us, EVM did it. Wherever they win there EVM is good and where they lose there they start singing about EVMs," PM Modi said.

    "On May 15, let Congress make any excuses they want. People will punish them for their sins of five years (in Karnataka)," he added.

Amit Shah Asks Congress Not To Involve Other Nations In India's Politics
  • BJP chief Amit Shah today asked the Congress not to involve foreign nations in India's domestic politics as he wondered why the party involved Pakistan in such matters.

    Mr Shah tweeted screenshots of Pakistan government paying tributes to Tipu Sultan, who ruled parts of present day Karnataka, on his death anniversary on Friday and Mani Shankar Aiyar's reported praise of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of the neighbouring country.

    "The Congress and Pakistan have amazing telepathy. Yesterday, Pakistan government remembered Tipu Sultan, whose jayanti (birth anniversary) the Congress marks with fanfare and today Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar admires Jinnah. Be it Gujarat or Karnataka polls, I fail to understand why Congress involves Pakistan," he claimed.

    I appeal to Congress not to involve foreign nations in our domestic politics. Let’s keep the discourse civil and positive.

    "During Gujarat elections we saw how dinner meetings with topmost Pakistan officials were held to defeat the BJP and now the mutual love for Tipu Sultan and Jinnah. I appeal to the Congress not to involve foreign nations in our domestic politics. Let's keep the discourse civil and positive," he said.

    The Congress had then rejected the BJP's charge, voiced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi among others, and accused it of deliberately bringing Pakistan into the election discourse to polarise voters.

    The BJP chief's comments come amid a row over the presence of Jinnah's portrait in Aligarh Muslim University, with his party's leaders demanding its removal.

    The BJP has also sought to corner the Congress government in Karnataka for holding events to commemorate the former Mysore king's birth anniversary. BJP leaders have claimed that Tipu Sultan was involved in atrocities against Hindus.

In Karnataka, PM Modi Finds A New Acronym To Attack Congress - "PPP"
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi amped up his criticism against the Congress on Saturday, predicting the return of the BJP to Karnataka and squeeze Rahul Gandhi's party to just two states. PM Modi, as usual, also came with an acronym to describe the opposition party's new status. "When the results for the Karnataka elections are out on May 15, then it will not be an Indian National Congress. It will become PPP Congress," PM Modi, who doesn't lose an opportunity to coin acronyms to make his point, said.

    "That means Punjab, Puducherry, Parivar Congress," he said. Karnataka is one of the only four states ruled by the Congress. The other three are Punjab, Puducherry and Mizoram. This isn't the first time that the BJP or PM Modi has predicted the defeat of the Siddaramaiah government or attacked the dynastic politics of the Congress.

    The BJP's presumptive chief minister BS Yeddyurappa had recently also predicted a clear majority for the BJP in the 224-member assembly, the second slot for the Congress with 50-60 seats and JDS, around 30. But the barbs have become sharper as campaigning for the May 12 election enters the home stretch.

    PM Modi said despite a series of electoral losses in Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Tripura did not have the Congress as worried as it is now.

    "I tell you why... Because their ministers and leaders in Karnataka have built a tank here. A part of money looted from people is taken home and the rest is put in that tank. The tank is linked to Delhi through a pipeline which carries the money directly to Delhi," he said, asking people to "be alert".

    "If the Congress comes to power, its government will do nothing but loot," PM Modi said. It is seen as his counter-offensive to Rahul Gandhi who has been taking swipes at him for not speaking about corruption cases against the Reddy brothers or its CM face Yeddyurappa.

    Rahul Gandhi, who had tweeted a sharp attack on him for protecting Yeddyurappa just hours earlier, has not responded to the attack.

    Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who was also on his line of fire, however, was quick with his take.

    "Heard you spun a new abbreviation 'PPP' today. Sir, we have always championed the 3 Ps of democracy - 'Of the People, By the People, For the People'. While your party is a 'Prison', 'Price Rise' & 'Pakoda' party," Siddaramaiah tweeted.

    He also reminded PM Modi that it was mining baron G Janardhan Reddy, who he called "one of your friends", who was believed to have spent Rs. 500 crore on his daughter's wedding at the peak of the cash crunch due to the notes ban decision.

    COMMENTSSiddaramaiah also posed some questions, suggesting that PM Modi should also touch upon issues that really matter to people of Karnataka. "Why is diesel and petrol so expensive when international crude oil prices are half of what they used to be before 2014?" he asked.

    Earlier in the day, PM Modi sought to counter the Congress campaign that the BJP and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda-led Janata Dal Secular had a deal. PM Modi, who had recently accused Rahul Gandhi of insulting Deve Gowda, insisted in Tumkuru that the Congress and JDS had a "secret understanding".

Musk's SpaceX Is Using A Powerful Rocket Technology But NASA Has A Problem
  • When Elon Musk and his team at SpaceX were looking to make their Falcon 9 rocket even more powerful, they came up with a creative idea - keep the propellant at super-cold temperatures to shrink its size, allowing them to pack more of it into the tanks.

    But the approach comes with a major risk, according to some safety experts. At those extreme temperatures, the propellant would need to be loaded just before takeoff - while astronauts are aboard. An accident, or a spark, during this maneuver, known as "load-and-go," could set off an explosion.

    The proposal has raised alarms for members of Congress and NASA safety advisers as the agency and SpaceX prepare to launch humans into orbit as early as this year. One watchdog group labeled load-and-go a "potential safety risk." A NASA advisory group warned in a letter that the method was "contrary to booster safety criteria that has been in place for over 50 years."

    Concerns at NASA over the astronauts' safety hit a high point when, in September 2016, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blew up while it was being fueled ahead of an engine test. No one was hurt, but the payload, a multimillion-dollar satellite, was lost. The question on many people's minds at NASA instantly became: What if astronauts were on board?

    The fueling issue is emerging as a point of tension between the safety-obsessed space agency and the maverick company run by Musk, a tech entrepreneur who is well known for his flair for the dramatic and for pushing boundaries of rocket science.

    In this culture clash, SpaceX is the daring, Silicon Valley-style outfit led by a man who literally sells flamethrowers on the Internet and wholeheartedly embraces risk. Musk is reigniting interest in space with acrobatic rocket-booster landings and eye-popping stunts, such as launching a Tesla convertible toward Mars.

    His sensibilities have collided with a bureaucratic system at NASA that has been accused of being overly conservative in the wake of two shuttle disasters that killed 14 astronauts.

    The concerns from some at NASA are shared by others. John Mulholland, who oversees Boeing's contract to fly astronauts to the International Space Station and once worked on the space shuttle, said load-and-go fueling was rejected by NASA in the past because "we never could get comfortable with the safety risks that you would take with that approach. When you're loading densified propellants, it is not an inherently stable situation."

    SpaceX supporters say tradition and old ways of thinking can be the enemy of innovation and thwart efforts to open the frontier of space.

    Greg Autry, a business professor at the University of Southern California, said the load-and-go procedures were a heated issue when he served on Trump's NASA transition team.

    "NASA is supposed to be a risk-taking organization," he said. "But every time we would mention accepting risk in human spaceflight, the NASA people would say, 'But, oh, you have to remember the scar tissue'- and they were talking about the two shuttle disasters. They seemed to have become victims of the past and unwilling to try anything new, because of that scar tissue."

    In a recent speech, Robert Lightfoot, the former acting NASA administrator, lamented in candid terms how the agency, with society as a whole, has become too risk-averse. He charged the agency with recapturing some of the youthful swagger that sent men to the moon during the Apollo era.

    "I worry, to be perfectly honest, if we would have ever launched Apollo in our environment here today," he said during a speech at the Space Symposium last month, "if Buzz [Aldrin] and Neil [Armstrong] would have ever been able to go to the moon in the risk environment we have today."

    NASA is requiring SpaceX and Boeing to meet a requirement that involves some complicated calculations: The chance of death can be no greater than 1 in every 270 flights.

    One way to ensure that, as Lightfoot said during his speech, is to never fly: "The safest place to be is on the ground."

    - - -

    Still, the scar tissue runs deep.

    NASA lost 14 astronauts in two space-shuttle disasters, the result of deep systematic problems of a once young and swashbuckling agency that many said had grown sclerotic.

    In the investigation into the 2003 disaster, the Columbia Accident Investigation Board blasted NASA for failing to learn "the bitter lessons" from the Challenger explosion in 1986. Columbia was lost as much by a "broken safety culture" as much as the chunk of foam that broke off and damaged the shuttle's heat shield. That second disaster helped lead to the retirement of the shuttle in 2011, leaving NASA in the position of being unable to fly astronauts from U.S. soil.

    Instead, NASA pays Russia to ferry its astronauts to the International Space Station, an arrangement that costs the agency millions. In 2006, Russia charged $21.3 million a seat. That jumped to $81.9 million by 2015.

    To end the dependence on Russia, NASA has turned to the private sector, outsourcing the responsibility of flying astronauts to the space station to two companies - SpaceX and Boeing - that have been awarded $6.8 billion in contracts combined. Other private companies eventually could compete for other government launch contracts - including Blue Origin, which was founded by Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos - but none are expected to send people to the space station anytime soon.

    The pivot to private companies is enabling NASA to focus on deep space. But SpaceX and Boeing have both faced challenges and delays. Now, as the drought in human spaceflight extends into its seventh year, NASA is facing the prospect of even more delays - and questions about whether the contractors it plans to rely on will have a better track record than the agency that put men on the moon.

    "It really is a very, very difficult problem to do human spaceflight," said Phil McAlister, the director of NASA's commercial spaceflight development division. "You've got thousands of pounds of really highly energetic propellants on board. You've got mini controlled explosions going off. You've got to survive the rigors of space, which is not very friendly for the human body. And then you've got to reenter the atmosphere, and the spacecraft gets heated up to thousands of degrees."

    SpaceX pulled off 18 successful launches last year, a record, and is aiming for more this year. But it has also lost two of its Falcon 9 rockets in explosions, and amid all its triumphs, it has never attempted flying humans.

    The first failure happened in 2015, when a rocket blew up a couple of minutes after liftoff as it was flying cargo and supplies to the space station. No one was on board, and no one was injured. Then, just over a year later, another rocket exploded, this time on the launchpad while being fueled ahead of an engine test.

    At the time, Musk declared that if crews had been aboard they would have been safely ferried away by the rocket's abort system. Still, that mishap is forcing the company to redesign bottles of pressurized helium that sit inside the rocket's fuel tanks.

    Now SpaceX is getting ready to fly astronauts on an upgraded version of the same rocket. And its decision to add propellant to the rocket with astronauts on board is attracting scrutiny.

    To get more power out of its rocket, SpaceX brings its propellants - liquid oxygen and refined kerosene - to unusually low temperatures. That causes them to become dense, meaning SpaceX can pack more fuel into its rockets.

    To SpaceX, the approach is another example of how it is breaking the mold. The densified propellant "provides greater propellant margin for increased reliability," the company said in a statement. In other words, should something go wrong on the mission, the rocket would have more propellant to adjust to emergencies. SpaceX's dramatic booster landings also require additional propellant.

    But to others it is an unnecessary risk. At a Capitol Hill hearing earlier this year, members of Congress pressed Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX's vice president for build and flight reliability, about the safety of the load-and-go procedure.

    Koenigsmann said that the fueling takes only about a half-hour, a "relatively quick procedure, and we believe that this exposure time is the shortest and therefore the safest approach."

    And the company points out that if anything goes wrong during fueling, the rocket's launch abort system would allow the astronauts to escape safely. It also conducts a "static fire," a quick test firing of the engines in the days leading up to the launch to make sure the rocket is operating properly.

    And since its rockets and its Dragon spacecraft are reusable, the company gets to inspect them after each flight, giving it an in-depth understanding of how the vehicles perform.

    "As with all hazard analyses across the entire system and operations, controls against those hazards have been identified, and will be implemented and carefully verified prior to certification," the company said in a statement.

    But in a 2015 letter to NASA, Thomas Stafford, a retired Air Force lieutenant general and then chairman of the agency's space-station advisory committee, wrote that "there is a unanimous, and strong, feeling by the committee that scheduling the crew to be on board the Dragon spacecraft prior to loading oxidizer into the rocket is contrary to booster safety criteria that has been in place for over 50 years, both in this country and internationally."

    At the hearing this year, William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said the agency had not decided whether it would allow SpaceX to load crews before loading the fuel, but he did not rule it out.

    He vowed that the agency would "make sure that we're really, really safe to go fly, and the system is ready for crew before we put them on board."

    In an interview, Lightfoot, the former acting NASA administrator, said the agency is in deep discussions with SpaceX about the safest way to go. The agency has a long history with SpaceX, first hiring it to fly cargo to the station and now looking for it to send humans into space.

    "It's a matter of having a good risk discussion so that we understand that," he said. "I would just say that instead of working it in the press, we work in the engineering review boards."

    - - -

    For all its push-the-envelope swagger, SpaceX says it is serious about flying people safely and is going to great lengths to study every aspect of the vehicle, down to individual valves, so that it will meet and surpass the 1-in-270 chance-of-death metric, said Benji Reed, the director of SpaceX's commercial crew program.

    When Reed was down at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a recent trip, he came across a room on a special tour where the astronauts' families from the shuttle program used to wait ahead of the rocket launch.

    They were stunned to see that a whiteboard with drawings made by the children of the crew lost in the 2003 Columbia disaster was still there, preserved.

    "That really drives it home," Reed said. "This isn't just the people that we're flying - these are all of their families. So we take this extremely seriously, and we understand that our job is to fly people safely and bring them back safely. To do that you have to humanize it. You have to see them as your friends and as your colleagues."

    But even with some of the best engineering minds at NASA, calculating risk is an imperfect science. There are too many unknowns in systems that are inherently dangerous and complex.

    "Even identifying all of the risks is impossible," Gerstenmaier said during a speech last year. "Also, risk cannot be boiled down to a single statistic."

    Before the very first shuttle flight, NASA estimated that the chance of death was between 1 in 500 and 1 in 5,000. Later, after the agency had compiled data from shuttle flights, it went back and came up with a very different number.

Business Affairs

Flipkart yet to finalise stake sale deal with Walmart
  • Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart's board is yet to finalise a deal to sell a controlling stake to Walmart Inc, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said on Friday, adding a deal could just be days away.

    Bloomberg reported earlier on Friday, citing unidentified sources, that Flipkart's board had approved a deal to sell a stake of about 75 per cent in the company to a group led by US retail giant Walmart for about $15 billion.

    A third source told Reuters that while Flipkart's board had "in-principle" approved engaging with Walmart based on the terms of an offer before them, taxation-related concerns and a few other issues need to be resolved.

    The first two sources said Alphabet Inc is also likely to invest in Flipkart alongside Walmart, but terms of the deal may change. Japan's SoftBank Group, the biggest investor in the Indian firm through its private equity fund, is considering selling its roughly 20 per cent stake as part of the deal if the price is right, two other sources said.

    "SoftBank does not like to be a passive investor," one of the sources said.

    Reuters had previously reported Walmart was in advanced talks with Flipkart to acquire a controlling stake in the Bengaluru-based online marketplace at a valuation of at least $18 billion.

    Flipkart has bought back $350 million worth of shares from its investors as it seeks to convert its Singapore-incorporated company to a private limited firm, in a move that could ease the way in for a new strategic investor, regulatory filings show.

    Flipkart and Alphabet did not respond to Reuters' requests seeking comment. Walmart and SoftBank declined to comment.


    Earlier this week, Indian TV channel CNBC-TV18 reported Amazon Inc had made a formal offer to buy 60 per cent of Flipkart and that it had also proposed a $2 billion breakup fee to convince Flipkart to discuss its offer.

    Sources told Reuters that Amazon had shown an interest in buying Flipkart, but said a deal with Walmart was much more likely to go through. Amazon is Flipkart's biggest rival in India.

    Amazon's move to bid for Flipkart may push up valuations of the Indian firm, but engaging with the tech giant could be fraught with risks for Flipkart, said industry insiders and lawyers.

    Beyond the risk of opening its books for due diligence and exposing sensitive commercial agreements to its biggest rival in India, an Amazon-Flipkart combination could face significant antitrust hurdles, they said.

    Amazon is currently seeking legal opinion to understand how the country's antitrust regulator, the Competition Commission of India (CCI), is likely to view any deal with Flipkart, a lawyer and an industry source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

    A former senior CCI official said e-commerce firms were already giving deep discounts and an Amazon-Flipkart union was likely to be in a position to sway the market their way, but the CCI could be convinced to approve a deal if both

    firms suggested "innovations or remedies."

    "This definitely would be a tricky case and not easy to sail through," he added.

    Amazon declined to comment on whether it had bid for Flipkart or was seeking legal opinion for a potential investment in the firm.

    Flipkart, together with its fashion units Myntra and Jabong, controls nearly 40 percent of India's online retail market, while Amazon is a close second with a 31 percent share, according to data from research firm Forrester.

    Both Amazon and Flipkart are pouring billions of dollars into winning shoppers in the fast-growing market that is expected to be worth $200 billion within a decade.

Niti Aayog inks pact with IBM to develop crop yield prediction model using AI
  • Niti Aayog and IBM on Friday signed a pact to develop a crop yield prediction model using artificial intelligence (AI) to provide real time advisory to farmers in Aspirational Districts, an official statement said.

    According to the statement, the partnership aims to work towards use of technology to provide insights to farmers to improve crop productivity, soil yield and control agricultural inputs with the overarching goal of improving farmers' incomes.

    First phase of the project will focus on developing the model for 10 Aspirational Districts across Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

    The scope of this project is to introduce and make available climate-aware cognitive farming techniques and identifying systems of crop monitoring, early warning on pest/disease outbreak based on advanced AI innovations.

    IBM will be using artificial intelligence to provide all the relevant data and platform for developing technological models for improving agricultural output and productivity for various crops and soil types, for the identified districts.

    Niti Aayog will facilitate the inclusion of more stakeholders on the ground for effective last mile utilisation and extension using the insights generated through these models, the statement added.

Finance Ministry bets on stable interest rates, but ground reality is different
  • Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg has gone on record saying that interest rates are unlikely to go up. But there are enough reasons for interest rates to move northwards. Here are five reasons that make a strong case for higher interest rates:

    The deposit growth has been sluggish  in the last one year. It has fallen to single digit.  In March , the largest bank in the country , the State Bank of India (SBI) hiked the deposit rates by 10-15 basis points.  Last month, the largest private bank , HDFC Bank  effected a major hike, up to 100 basis points in deposit rates. Going forward, the deposit rates are going to go up as competition to garner deposits will hot up. This increase in deposit will have an impact on the lending rates as cost of funds will inch up.

    The inflation has been at an elevated level in the last 9 months. In fact, the RBI pressed the pause button on easing the repo rate in August last year. The CPI or the consumer price index, which the RBI tracks is currently at 4.28 per cent, which is over the targeted level of 4 per cent ( + - 2 per cent ). The projected inflation for 2018-19  is also higher than 4 per cent. The RBI has projected a CPI of 4.7-5.1 per cent for the first half ( April-Sept)  and 4.4 per cent in the second half ( Oct-March)  of 2018-19.

    There are too many inflation impacting factors that are now  playing out. The crude oil rise has been unabated, which will directly impact the inflation numbers. The recent decision of a hike in MSP,  the staggered implementation of HRA by states, fiscal deficit numbers and also the rupee depreciation, will push up inflation in the coming months. The election season of the election year will also increase the money supply in the economy.

    The yield in the domestic bond market are on the rise, which clearly indicates that the interest rates will rise in future. The higher inflationary  projection for the coming months is already leading to fall in the bond prices and consequently rise in yields. This gives a clear indication of  higher interest rates in future.

    The US Federal Reserve is also getting back to normalcy in its monetary policy.  The Fed rates are already rising gradually. Globally, the growth is coming back and the commodity prices are also recovering , which hints that inflation will also move up going forward.

Infosys CEO Salil Parekh to receive annual performance-linked equity grant worth Rs 13 crore
  • India's second largest software services company Infosys on Friday said its CEO Salil Parekh will receive an annual performance equity grant worth Rs 13 crore.

    Parekh had joined the Bengaluru-based company in January this year after a protracted stand-off ensued between Infosys founders led by NR Narayana Murthy and the previous management over issues of corporate governance and compensation to former executives.

    The tussle had led to the sudden resignation of the then CEO Vishal Sikka last year.

    "Pursuant to the approval of shareholders and as per the terms of the employment agreement with Salil Parekh, CEO and Managing Director, the Nomination and Remuneration Committee and the Board has approved the Annual Performance Equity Grant of RSUs (Restricted Stock Units) with a value of Rs 13,00,00,000 (Rs 13 crore)," Infosys said in a regulatory filing.

    It further said as many as 1,08,600 shares were granted based on the market price on May 2, 2018.

    "The number of shares that will vest shall be calculated upon the CEO's successful completion of three full fiscal years with the company, concluding on March 31, 2021 and will be determined by company's performance on various parameters as determined by the Board," it added.

    The board of directors has also approved a change in the remuneration of company secretary AGS Manikantha, who will receive a fixed pay Rs 50.86 lakh per annum and variable long term bonus of Rs 13.87 lakh, taking the total compensation to Rs 64.73 lakh.

    "In addition, he shall be entitled to receive stock incentives as may be decided by the Nomination and Remuneration Committee from time to time based on performance," it added.

In case your train is cancelled, money will be refunded automatically: Indian Railways
  • The Indian Railways on Friday announced that if your train is fully - from start station to end station - cancelled, your tickets will be cancelled and refunds will be processed automatically. In a tweet, the IRCTC, which handles online ticketing operations of the Indian Railways, said that in case of train cancellation, 'PNR (passenger name record) will be automatically cancelled. Refunds will be processed in the same account through which payment was made'. 

    In the last couple of months, the government introduced several new rules to make passengers' ticketing experience hassle-free. Last month, the Railways came up with some new rules to help the passengers seeking Tatkal tickets at the last minute in cases of emergency.

    Due to high demand during summer, the Tatkal tickets get booked within a short span of time, especially on some of the busiest routes. Also, technical glitches on the IRCTC website make it difficult for passengers to book the tickets.

    To deal with such problems, the Indian Railways introduced new rules:

    People will have to book the tickets a day before the travel. For AC coach tickets, the bookings will start at 10 am, while for general coaches it would be 11 am.
    Passengers can claim complete refund of train fare and Tatkal charges, if the train fails to leave within three hours of its scheduled time.

    If a train's route is diverted and a passenger doesn't want to travel on that route, the passenger can ask for a full refund.

    Also, a passenger can ask for a refund if the train's route is diverted and his station/stop is not in the new route.

    Passengers can also claim a full refund if he/she is shifted to a lower class and he doesn't want to travel in that class.

    Passengers will be paid back the difference if he/she agrees to travel in the lower class.

    In March, the Railways announced that it will allow passengers to transfer their confirmed ticket to another person in case they are unable to travel. It also put down guidelines on how to transfer a confirmed ticket. "Chief Reservation Supervisor of important stations are authorised by Railway Administration to permit the change of name of a passenger having a seat or berth reserved in his name," the Railways said in a statement.

    According to the guidelines, a person can transfer the confirmed ticket to another family member be it the father, mother, sibling, children or spouse. The person would need to make a written request 24 hours prior the scheduled departure. If a government servant wants to transfer a confirmed ticket then he or she can make a written request before 24 hours of departure.

    In case a student of a recognised educational institute wants to transfer his or her ticket, then they will need to get the approval of the head of the institution. A written request by that authoritative figure will allow the transfer of the ticket to another student from the same institution.

    General Awareness

    National security clearance policy
    • Context: The Home Ministry has given security clearance to more than 5,000 investment proposals, including for Foreign Direct Investment, in the last four years.

      Among the foreign countries, U.S., China (including Hong Kong), Mauritius, U.K. has received the green signal for the maximum number of projects at 10 each, followed by Germany 6, Bangladesh 3 and two each for Italy, Israel, Netherlands and Switzerland.


      Security clearance is granted by the Ministry of Home Affairs after assessing reports received from the Central Intelligence and investigating agencies from the national security point of view.

      The Ministry had formulated a new national security clearance policy in 2015 after the government decided to speed up projects, which were stuck for lack of approval by Intelligence Bureau (IB) or other agencies including the State police.
      The time taken for security clearance for a project was eight-nine months on an average. This has been brought down to 40 days since last year.

      Policy for national security clearance:

      The Ministry of Home Affairs has formulated a policy for national security clearance for certain sensitive sectors of the economy by codifying all existing practices. In addition, the policy has also liberalized certain investment restrictions existing earlier.
      The new policy is aimed at bringing about a healthy balance between meeting the imperatives of national security and facilitating ease of doing business and promoting investment in the country.
      Under the new policy, fifteen parametres have been laid down where inputs from security agencies will be sought.
      The parametres on which inputs would be sought by the security agencies would be: money aundering charges against the promoters, terrorist angle, financial fraud and scam, passport fraud, links with external intelligence agencies and conviction for any serious crime like murder.


      At present, only 11 sectors, including defence and retail trading, require government approval for foreign direct investment. Over 90% of FDI proposals have come through the automatic route.

      What’s important?

      For Prelims and Mains: Policy on security clearance and FDI reforms.

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