Current Affairs Current Affairs - 07 June 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 07 June 2018

General Affairs 

Government Nod To Rs. 10,000-Cr Continuation Programmes For PSLV
  • The Union government today approved the continuation of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III programmes, costing more than Rs. 10,000 crore, in a move that will help Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launch light and heavy-weight satellites.

    The operationalization of PSLV, ISRO's most-trusted workhorse, has made India self-reliant in launching satellites for earth observation, disaster management, navigation and space sciences.

    For heavy satellites, India is helped by France which launches its satellites from Kourou in FSouth America's French Guinea.

    The cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also gave its nod for funding 30 PSLV operational flights under the programme.

    The PSLV programme is expected to meet the launch requirements of satellites for earth observation, navigation and space sciences and will also ensure the continuity of production by the Indian industry.

    The fund requirement is Rs. 6,131 crore and includes the cost of 30 PSLV vehicles, essential facility augmentation, programme management and launch campaign.

    The PSLV Continuation Programme (Phase 6) will meet the demand for launch of satellites at a frequency of up to eight launches per year, with maximum participation from the Indian industry.

    All operational flights would be completed during the period 2019-2024, the government said in a statement.

    PSLV continuation programme was initially sanctioned in 2008, and four phases have been completed. The fifth phase is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2019-20.

    The phase-6 approval will cater to the launch of satellite missions from the third quarter of 2019-20 to first quarter of 2023-24.

    With the recent successful launch of PSLV-C41 on April 12, PSLV has completed three developmental and 43 operational flights and the last 41 flights have been successful.

    The cabinet also approved funding for the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III Continuation Programme (Phase-1), consisting of 10 GSLV (Mk-III) flights, at an estimated cost of Rs. 4,338 crore.

    The GSLV Mk-III Continuation Programme (Phase-1) is the first phase of operational flights that will enable the launch of four-tonne class of communication satellites.

    The operationalization of GSLV Mk-III will make India self-reliant in launching four-tonne class of communication satellites, sustain and strengthen the space infrastructure and reduce the dependence on procured launches from foreign countries.

    The cabinet was also apprised of a memorandum of understanding signed between India and Oman in February in Muscat for peaceful use of the outer space.

    The MoU shall enable cooperation in areas such as space science, technology and applications including remote-sensing of the Earth, satellite-based navigation, space science, planetary exploration, use of spacecraft and space systems and ground system and application of space technology.

Indian Navy Ship 'INS Kulish' Reaches Indonesia
  • A missile corvette and a maritime patrol aircraft of the Indian Navy today reached Indonesia, days after the two countries vowed to deepen maritime engagement.

    The Indian Navy said the visit of the warship INS Kulish seeks to underscore India's peaceful presence and solidarity with friendly countries towards ensuring good order in the maritime domain.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited Indonesia last week during which both the countries agreed to upgrade their ties to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and called for freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region.

    China has been expanding its military influence in the Indo-Pacific region and India and several other countries including the US have been pushing for a rules-based order for the region. The two countries, particularly, decided to enhance maritime cooperation.

    The missile corvette and Dornier maritime patrol aircraft of the Andaman and Nicobar Command arrived at Belawan in Indonesia to attend the final phase of the 31st edition of the India-Indonesia coordinated patrol from June 6 to 9.

    Indian Naval assets have been increasingly deployed in recent times to address the chief maritime concerns of the region.

    The Indian Navy has also been involved in assisting countries in the Indian Ocean Region with surveillance of Exclusive Economic Zones, search and rescue and capability-enhancement activities.

    "The current deployment will contribute towards the Indian Navy's efforts to consolidate inter-operability and forge strong bonds of friendship across the seas," the Navy said.

Jammu IPS Officer Coaches Students In Free Time, Wins Huge Support, Praise
  • Taking time out from his busy schedule, a young IPS officer is dedicating two hours every morning to help students in their studies, a move which has brought smiles to candidates preparing for competitive examinations but are unable to meet the expenses of quality coaching.

    South Jammu Superintendent of Police Sandeep Chaudhary has started 'operation dreams' with an aim to see students get past the academic hurdles in the way of their goals.

    The 2012-batch Indian Police Service officer of Jammu and Kashmir cadre initially started with free coaching from his office chamber for 10 candidates who aspire to become sub-inspectors in the state police, the examination for which is scheduled later this month.

    However, the number grew within a few days to more than 150 students preparing for various examinations, including civil services, staff selection commission and in banking sector, forcing Mr Chaudhary to look for an alternative arrangement.

    Mr Chaudhary then shifted his class to a private community centre near his office along the Jammu airport road after the owner voluntarily offered his support for the initiative.

    "I was discussing the upcoming examination for the post of sub-inspector with my colleagues when the idea to start free coaching for aspiring students came to my mind... Each day, the number of students is growing and the brighter part of the initiative is that more than 25 girls are coming for the classes," Mr Chaudhary told PTI.

    Mr Chaudhary, from Punjab, started the initiative on May 30 from his office chamber, shifted to the new class on June 1, and will continue until June 23, a day before the scheduled date of the examination for sub-inspectors.

    Mr Chaudhary shared his story with the students. He said he never went to a college for higher education or a coaching centre to crack the Union Public Service Commission examination.

    "I did my BA and MA from Indira Gandhi National Open University. I joined Panjab University for regular course in journalism for about three months but then I dropped out due to circumstances and joined MA in public administration from IGNOU. I completed my education through correspondence - which was not very costly but I was guided at every stage, even during UPSC preparation, by friends and seniors," he said, making a point to the students that costly coaching is not essential to achieving their goals.

    Wearing his uniform but limping due to a ligament tear, the officer is making every effort to turn his class lively and his students are ecstatic for being a part of his initiative.

    Preeti, who is aspiring to become a sub-inspector in the police, said she is lucky to join the coaching as "her outlook towards the police changed altogether after coming here".

    "I was not sure about the fairness of the selection process and seeing the dedication and devotion of this officer, I was having a wrong notion," she said.

    She said preparing under the guidance of an IPS officer is something that cannot be achieved at any coaching centre.

    "The youth of Jammu especially from the rural background lack exposure. They are going through their books but lack general outlook of the world outside. I am keeping this thing in mind while preparing the students," Mr Chaudhary said.

    He said the students have come from varied backgrounds and far off places.

    "By teaching them for free, I am not only helping them save money and help them in building their career but had achieved a unique satisfaction for myself. I have learnt like this and hopefully after they achieved heights in life, I am sure they too will come forward and extend a helping hand to someone," he said.

    The officer, credited with great successes in his drive against the menace of drugs and criminal activities since his posting in February last year, said he is investing in citizens of tomorrow.

    "The concept of community policing brought us closer to people. We are visiting schools and colleges delivering lectures, mostly related to the menace of drugs, besides organising meetings with senior citizens to ensure safe society. Mine is altogether a different initiative and is supported by my seniors including SSP, IGP and DGP," he said.

    Police stations under Mr Chaudhary's command have registered more than 220 FIRs under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act since his posting in February last year. These included 70 cases in the first five months this year.

    "My effort is that I am investing in the youth and I am sure they will reciprocate positively for the betterment of society," he said.

    Mr Chaudhary said the Jammu and Kashmir Police has sacrificed so much and it shows in its seriousness towards the betterment of society.

    He said he is a firm believer in democratising education.

    "The country has different types of education system and the people from the humble background had to face a lot of difficulty at the competitive stage," he said.

    The officer said his seniors are not only encouraging him but have also assured him of complete support.

    "My appeal to parents is always to give their children time and do not show their love only through money. They need time and guidance," he said.

    Amit Singh from Bakshi Nagar area of Jammu city said he has undergone training at various centres but it is different here. "He (Chaudhary) is not here for money. He is lecturing and seeking immediate feedback. I am sure it will help a lot of us to crack the examination," he said.

    Digvijay Singh Jamwal, another student aspiring to clear the civil services examination, said he has had a good experience as the initiative provided them a platform.

    "Normally Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 20,000 is being charged by coaching centres for any short course. (But) this is free and very fruitful," he said.

"Fund Of Funds" Will Ensure Rs. 1 Lakh Crore Funding To Startups: PM Modi
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the Rs. 10,000 crore fund of funds created by the government will ensure funding to the tune of Rs. 1 lakh crore for startups, which are now mushrooming in smaller towns and also in unconventional segments like agriculture and social sectors.

    He said the Rs. 10,000 crore fund has helped venture capital funds provide assistance of Rs. 7,000 crore to startups. This fund, he said, in the long run will ensure funding of Rs. 1 lakh crore to startups in the country.

    To strengthen the ecosystem for budding entrepreneurs, the government too has created an ecosystem, PM Modi said.

    Starting from availability of funds, the government has worked on areas like setting up of tinkering labs, incubation centres, removing regulatory hurdles, providing tax incentives and support in the field of legal issues and intellectual property rights.

    These initiatives have helped entrepreneurs even in smaller cities, towns and villages and these areas are emerging as vibrant startup centres, the Prime Minister said while interacting with young entrepreneurs from across the country, including cities like Dehradun, Guwahati and Raipur.

     "Adequate capital, courage and connecting with people are required for excelling in the startup sector," he said.

    PM Modi said there was a time when startups meant only digital and technology innovation but now things are changing and we are seeing startups in various other fields, including agriculture.

     "We have started an Agriculture Grand Challenge. We invite more youngsters to ideate on how to transform our agriculture sector," he said.

    The government has launched the Startup India Action Plan to promote budding entrepreneurs in the country. The plan is aimed at giving incentives such as tax holiday, inspector raj-free regime and capital gains tax exemption.

    Emphasising on the importance of startups, he said these are growth engines of the future. "Today's big companies were startups at some point. I urge the people of India to keep innovating," he said.

    PM Modi added that the youth in India are creating jobs and the government is committed to harnessing the demographic dividend.

    To promote the products of young entrepreneurs, he said the government has eased public procurement norms for them.

    He also said that along with Make in India, Design in India too is important for startups.

    PM Modi said India is a young nation where 65 per cent of the population is below 35 years of age and this demographic dividend would become a driving force for the country.

    "In the last 4 years, we have worked in this direction. To promote and support innovation, we started Startup India scheme," he said.

    Under this initiative, startups have been registered in about 419 districts in 28 states and 6 UTs so far, out of which 44 per cent are in tier 2 and 3 cities. This shows that youth from small cities and villages can contribute to the country's growth story, he said.

    "Today in the country, 45 per cent startups are started by women and one startup on an average provides job opportunities for 12 people," he said.

    Talking about the steps being taken by the government, PM Modi said it is working in the direction of providing market for startups and asked them to join the Government e-Marketplace (GeM).

     He also said that trademark and patent registrations have increased multiple times since 2013-14. About 68,000 trademark registrations happened in 2013-14 and now this number has increased to over 2.5 lakh, PM Modi said.

    Similarly, patent registrations too have jumped to over 11,500 from 4,000 in 2013-14.

     He also called upon people to share stories about persons who are working on innovative ideas with the hashtag '#innovate India'.

    "Let's start a movement. You must also have an idea, share those with us with this hashtag," he said, urging people to make 'innovate India' a mass movement.

    In the future, startups will help drive innovation and contribute to the country's growth prospects. Emphasising on the importance of innovation, he said if "we will not innovate, we will become stagnant".

Rajnath Singh To Visit Jammu And Kashmir To Review Suspension Of Ops
  • Home Minister Rajnath Singh would visit Jammu and Kashmir for two days starting tomorrow where he would review the ongoing suspension of anti-terror operations and tour a border district, officials said.

    The home minister might also attend an Iftar to be hosted by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, an official said.

    During his visit, he would review the prevailing situation in the state, particularly in border areas and the restive Valley, which witnessed several incidents of violence in the recent past.

    There would also be a detailed review of the situation since May 16 when the Centre unilaterally announced suspension of anti-terror operations during the month of Ramzan, an official said.

    The need for such an exercise was to understand the impact of the suspension of operations on the life of citizens and whether to extend it further, the official said.

    Mr Singh would hold meetings with Governor N N Vohra, the chief minister, top civil, police and paramilitary officials.

    The home minister might also make an announcement on whether the operations would be suspended beyond Eid and during the Amaranth yatra beginning June 28, the official said.

    The recent incidents of stone pelting, attacks on security forces in the Kashmir valley and infiltration attempts along the border would also figure in the meetings Singh would have with the security forces' top brass, the official said.

    The home minister's visit comes amidst an offer for talks with the Hurriyat Conference. The separatist amalgam, however, had made it clear that it was ready for a dialogue only if there was clarity on the initiative, Jammu and Kashmir was declared "disputed", and a few other conditions were met.

    The home minister would also review the situation along the Indo-Pak border, where cross border firing led to death of at least 20 people and evacuation of several thousand people so far this year.

    The ongoing development projects, announced as part of the Rs. 80,000 crore package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, would also be reviewed in the meeting, another official said.

    A number of projects related to creating employment opportunities and sports infrastructure to attract youths might be unveiled during the visit.

    This was the second high-level visit to the state after the announcement of suspension of operations by the Centre on May 16.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited all the three regions of the state -- Ladakh, Srinagar and Jammu -- late last month.

    During his stay in Kashmir, the home minister would travel to the frontier district of Kupwara where he would review some projects being undertaken as part of the Border Area Development Programme.

    On the second day of the tour, the home minister would visit Jammu and take stock of the situation along the International Border where at least 20 people, including a dozen security personnel, were killed in firing by Pakistani forces.

    The central government had already decided to construct more than 28,400 bunkers in Jammu and Kashmir for the safety of residents living along the Indo-Pak border who often face shelling from the Pakistani side.

Business Affairs

Air India's 11,000 employees have not received May's salary so far; pay delayed for third month in row
  • India's national carrier Air India is going through a deep financial crisis, and recent incidents have only added to its woes. First, no bidder showed interest in buying the beleaguered airline. And now, the salaries of over 11,000 permanent employees working for the Maharaja are stuck for the month of May. Reports suggest the cash-strapped airline has failed to release salaries of its employees for the third month in a row. So what's causing the delay? Though it's obvious the airline is struggling to keep up with its finances, the management has not officially communicated the reason behind the inordinate delay to its staff.

    "We have still not received our salaries for May. Moreover, the management has not informed us till date as to when it will be disbursed. This is the third month in a row that the airline has delayed the salaries," PTI quoted a source saying.  

    Usually, the Air India employees get their salaries by 30th or 31st of every month but the March and April salaries of the Air India employees were delayed by seven days. The state-owned lender Bank of Baroda had come to its rescue after the career raised working capital loan from the bank, and released the salaries on May 7. Though no official confirmation has been received so far, an Air India spokesperson told PTI the employees are expected to receive their May salaries by next week.

    Considering its mounting losses, Air India has asked the government to restore equity infusion after it failed to find any buyers in its privatisation bid. In 2012, the Congress-led UPA government had approved a turnaround plan under which Air India was to receive a total equity infusion worth Rs 30,231 crore up to 2021. So far, the state-run airline has received more than Rs 26,000 crore under the bailout package.

    The centre had approved strategic divestment plan to privatise Air India in June 2017. Under the proposal, the government wanted to sell 76 per cent stake in Air India, 100 per cent in its subsidiary Air India Express, and 50 per cent in its ground handling staff. It had also said that the prospective buyer would have to pare half of its total debt of Rs 54,000 crore. Unfortunately, even those who showed some interest initially -- IndiGo, Jet Airways, and Tata Sons -- backed out citing unfavourable terms of conditions by the government. This is second time in the past two decades that the government had failed to sell stake in Air India.

    The government last week said it didn't find any takers for the Maharaja of India as no bids were received for Air India's strategic disinvestment before the deadline for the submission of Expression of Interest (EOI) ended on May 31.

RBI monetary policy: MPC hikes repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.25%, keeps stance neutral
  • The monetary policy committee of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday decided to hike the repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.25 per cent while maintaining a neutral stance. All the members of RBI's MPC voted in favour of a rate hike. The verdict of six-member MPC, headed by RBI Governor Urjit Patel, came after three days of deliberations instead of the usual two days. This is the first time MPC has taken this long to reach a decision since its formation in June 2016. The RBI had earlier cited 'administrative exigencies' as the reason for the longer meeting. The unanimous vote to hike benchmark repo rate comes after more than four years. The last time this repo rate was raised was in January 2014, before Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP government came to power.

    The increase in repo rate comes as a bad news for those who have borrowed from banks because it is likely to lead to an increase in the interest they pay on loans, be it home loan, car loan or personal loan. When the RBI increases the repo rate - which is the rate at which banks borrow money from the RBI - banks usually pass on the burden to the customers. 

    The word on the street was that the central bank may wait until August before hiking the key repo rate. However, the neutral stance taken by the RBI will be a silver lining for the markets. Inflation has seen an upward trend due to rising fuel prices. Consumer price inflation or CPI was 4.6 per cent in April 2018. Inflation has remained higher than RBI's 4 per cent target since November 2017, but it is well within the upper band of 6 per cent. In its Second Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, the central bank has marginally revised upwards its inflation projection for the current fiscal on firming crude oil prices in the global market.

    The reverse repo rate has also been adjusted to 6 per cent and the bank rate has been kept at 6.50 per cent. Reverse repo rate is the rate of interest offered by RBI, when banks deposit their surplus funds with the RBI for short periods. When banks have surplus funds but have no lending (or) investment options, they deposit such funds with RBI. Banks earn interest on such funds.

    Just days before the RBI's bi-monthly monetary policy review, several banks including State Bank of India (SBI), Punjab National Bank (PNB) and ICICI Bank increased lending rates (MCLR) by around 10 basis points. During the last bi-monthly policy review meeting in April, the RBI had kept repo rate and reverse repo rates unchanged.

    The rate hike comes after official economic data released on May 31 showed the Indian economic growth for fiscal year 2017-18 at 6.7 per cent. In its monetary policy statement, the RBI retained growth projections for the current fiscal at 7.4 per cent on hopes of further boost to investments and higher consumption.

    What is Repo Rate?

    When banks need money they approach RBI. The rate at which banks borrow money from the RBI by selling their surplus government securities to RBI is known as 'repo rate'. Repo rate is short form of Repurchase Rate. Generally, these loans are for short duration up to 2 weeks.
    It simply means repo rate is the rate at which RBI lends money to commercial banks against the pledge of government securities whenever the banks are in need of funds to meet their day-to-day obligations.

    Banks enter into an agreement with the RBI to repurchase the same pledged government securities at a future date at a pre-determined price. RBI manages this repo rate which is the cost of credit for the bank.

    Example - If repo rate is 5 per cent, and bank takes loan of Rs 1000 from RBI, they will pay interest of Rs 50 to RBI.

    So, higher the repo rate higher the cost of short-term money and vice versa.

    Higher repo rate may slowdown the growth of the economy.

    If the repo rate is low then banks can charge lower interest rates on the loans taken by us.

Govt clears Rs 8,000 cr relief package for sugarcane farmers, ups floor price to Rs 29 per kg
  • The Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Cabinet on Wednesday approved a relief package of Rs 8,000 crore for the sugar industry, which would help cash-starved sugar mills to clear dues to cane farmers at the earliest. Of the total relief package, Rs 4,500 crore would be used for boosting ethanol production in the country. The package also includes government's last month's announcement of Rs 1,540-crore production-linked subsidy for sugarcane farmers to help millers pay cane payments.

    The government has also increased minimum selling price (ex-mill sale price) to Rs 29 per kg from Rs 25 per kg. The centre would create a buffer stock of 3 million tonnes of the excess sugar, and has allotted Rs 1,175 crore for this purpose.

    The government's decision to boost ethanol production, which can be blended in petrol, would help sugar mills clear their stock in time and provide cane farmers a remunerative price for their crops.

    This could be a win-win situation for farmers, sugar mills and the government, which have been struggling due to high sugar production. The Cabinet also cleared Rs 1,300-crore interest subvention on loans to be provided for setting up new ethanol facilities and improving the infrastructure capacity of the existing ones.

    Experts, however, suggest Rs 29 of floor price for sugarcane is not enough as its actual cost comes somewhere between Rs 33 and Rs 35. Sugar mill owners have appreciated the move but are skeptical over the logic behind providing Rs 29 per kg of minimum sale price, which they think would do little to help farmers under stress due to fall in the sugarcane price.

    In an effort to keep domestic cane prices at check, the government had earlier doubled sugar import duty to 100 per cent, and had asked sugar mills to export 2 million tonnes of sugar.

    Sugar mills are under a lot of pressure to clear farmers' dues worth over Rs 22,000 crore -- maximum Rs 12,000 crore worth dues in UP -- as the country saw a record sugar production of 31.6 million tonne in the 2017-18 season. The high production led to sharp drop in prices and farmers' money was stuck with sugar mills.

Government's mission to double farmers' income by 2022 on track: Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh
  • Narendra Modi government has substantially increased allocation of resources for the agriculture sector as compared to the previous regime and is well on its way to achieve its targets in a mission mode, says Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh. In a response to Business Today, Singh said greater emphasis is being given to agricultural education, research and extension activities and extension of the facilities for irrigation, low-cost organic farming, crop insurance, national agricultural market, horticulture development and agro forestry remain focus areas.


    BT: The initiatives are good. But are we seeing its benefit on the ground? Has it improved agri-economy and increased farmers' income?

    Singh: The government has transformed the targets related to the implementation of the schemes for the farmers' welfare into mission mode. We have been successful in creating awareness among the farmers towards the new initiatives taken for the progress of agriculture sector. The government has made sustained and reinforced endeavours for transforming rural sector in a positive way.  Prime Minister has set a target before the nation to double the farmers' income by the year 2022. The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare is consistently working towards this mission.

    BT: How has Prices Stabilization Scheme (PSS) benefited farmers? What measures government has taken in agricultural marketing to empower farmers?

    Singh: During 2016-17, we saw a bumper production of pulses.  States like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, etc., had all sent proposals to procure 'arhardaal' to provide support price to the farmers.  We have procured 20.6 lakh tons of pulses and farmers have been the beneficiaries.  The government has declared an appropriate and beneficial price related parameter for sugarcane and the minimum support along with 22 prominent crops like wheat and paddy. The procurement of pulses and oilseeds is carried out with Price Stabilization Fund on minimum support price after having obtained the proposal from the states. Food processing is also a focus area. Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana has been launched with the allocation of Rs.6,000 crores. Forward and backward linkage of agro-processing clusters under this scheme will benefit 20 lakh farmers, and create employment opportunities for 5.5 lakh people. Further, the government is laying emphasis on the improvement of agricultural marketing.  The e-national agriculture market initiative has so far linked 466 markets. Further, a Model PMC Act 2017 has been circulated to all the states for improving marketing system in the agriculture sector. A Model Act for promoting contract farming is also being worked out.

    BT: Micro-irrigation has been given a lot of emphasis by this government. Can you give us an update?

    Singh: Our objective is more crop per drop. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana has been launched to solve the problems related to drought.  The aim of this scheme is to provide water to every field. Nearly 99 medium and major irrigation schemes lying pending for years are being completed in a fast manner. The watershed development task is also being implemented expeditiously along with water harvesting and water management. Ponds are being constructed in the field of the farmers under MNREGA. Solar energy driven pumps are being provided to the farmers at subsidized rates.

    BT: How is Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana helping the farmers?

    Singh: This is a security coverage for the farmers. The lowest premium rates have been laid down since ever for Kharif and Rabi crops, which is maximum 2 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively. In it, the risk related to pre-sown period and harvesting period have been included along with standing crop. The loan sanction has been made equal to financial parameters by removing capping. Not only this, 25 per cent payment is being made instantly through online system for the claims of losses. For expeditious payment of the claims and crop loans to the farmers, new techniques like the drone and smartphone for harvesting have been utilized in a number of states. Provision has been made for depositing premium amount through new technical facilities like service centre and online since this Kharif season while keeping in view the facilitation to the farmers. Government has made a number of changes for providing relief in the eventuality of loss due to natural calamities. Now the government is providing relief on 33 per cent losses instead of 50 per cent. Apart from this, amount of relief has been increased by 50 per cent.

    BT: In which stage is the doubling of farmers' income plan? What have we done so far?

    Singh: The Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture is playing an important role in making the farmers income as double. For this purpose, better plantation material, improved seeds and protected cultivation and high-density plantation, rejuvenation, precision, and farming like are being provided. While utilizing Jio informatics (CHAMAN), the horticulture assessment and management related coordinated programme has been launched with the estimated cost of Rs. 13.38 crore in Sept. 2014 which is to be completed by 2018. The aim of this programme is to develop and strengthen the methodology for forecasting the potential production in the area to be used for agricultural crops while utilizing remote sensing technology and sample survey methodology. Our government is also utilizing Integrated Farming System (IFS). IFS concentrates on the multi-cropping system, cycle cropping, inter-cropping, allied activities like horticulture, livestock, fisheries, and bee-keeping etc. along with allied crop practices.  This not only enhances the production of the sustained livelihood of the farmers but also reduces the effect of drought, flood and other seasonal incidents.  The farmers have also witnessed 40 per cent enhancement in their annual income through consolidated agriculture system.

    To fulfil the dream of our Prime Minister's dream into reality regarding doubling of the income of farmers' by 2022, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has constituted state-wise coordination committees. The main task of this committee is to prepare extensive strategic documents for making the income of the farmers double. During the last 3 years, ICAR has developed 571 new crop species giving better yield in adverse natural intolerant conditions. Apart from this, the council has developed 11 new bovine species along with better agriculture methods.

    150 seed hubs have been established across the country for bringing about self-dependence in the field of pulses production that resulted in 22 million tons record production of pulses.

    The council has so far prepared contingency scheme for 623 districts for increasing tolerance for the crop in the condition of adverse natural calamities. They are continuously striving for keeping them updated. The farmers will be capable enough for saving their agricultural product even during adverse natural circumstance on account of receipt of advisory in time.

    White Revolution is boosting dairy sector in the country. We also launched E-Pashu Haat Portal in November 2016 to link farmers and breeders of indigenous breeds. During 2014-17, 23 per cent increase has been recorded in the income of dairy farmers as against 2011-14. In comparison to 2013-14, the milk production has increased by 18.81 per cent in the year 2016-17. Realizing the great potential of fisheries sector, Prime Minister has heralded Blue Revolution, a scheme with an outlay of Rs.3,000 crore with the aim to increase fish production by 50 per cent in the next three years which means the target is to produce 15 million tonnes by 2019-20. During 2014-17, fish production has increased by 20.1 per cent as compared to 2011-14, which is unprecedented.

Sensex rises 275 points, Nifty above 10,650 even as RBI hikes repo rate
  • The Sensex surged almost 276 points to end above the key 35,000-mark even as the RBI hiked the policy rate by 0.25 per cent on inflation concerns. However, the RBI retained the GDP growth forecast for 2018-19 at 7.4 per cent on hopes of further boost to investments and higher consumption. The central bank hiked the benchmark lending rate for the first time in four-and-half-years on inflation concerns arising from a surge in international oil prices. The repo rate now stands at 6.25 per cent.

    Anita Gandhi, Whole Time Director at Arihant Capital markets said, "The six-member MPC committee of RBI raised interest rates by 0.25 bps for the first time in 4.5 years in BJP-led NDA govt, keeping CRR and SLR status quo. Recent hike in crude prices & better GDP for last quarter of FY 18 suggest inflation trajectory may be on the higher side. Though, this may put some pressure on borrowers, it is positive news for the savers in the economy".

    The Sensex, which opened at 34,932, fell after RBI's policy announcement but soon recovered to touch the day's high of 35,230.

    It finally ended at 35,178, up 275.67 points, or 0.79 per cent.

    The gauge had lost 419 points in the previous three sessions.

    Suvodeep Rakshit, vice-president and senior economist at Kotak Institutional Equities said, "RBI MPC hiked repo rate by 25 bps to 6.25% while keeping the stance unchanged at "neutral". We remain confident that this will be a shallow rate hike cycle if the present conditions do not deteriorate significantly. We expect the RBI to hike by another 25 bps in the August policy but the call will hinge on how crude and INR movements pan out over the next few months, as well as, the extent of MSP hikes. We need to carefully look at the RBI minutes and observe the extent of upward pressure on food prices in the near term, risks of fiscal slippages, domestic growth recovery, and evolving global macro conditions (trade wars, DM monetary policy cycle, and commodity prices) to have greater clarity on the extent of RBI's rate hike cycle."

    On similar lines, the Nifty, after shuttling between 10,698 and 10,587 finished the session 91.50 points, or 0.86 per cent higher at 10,684.65.

    Bharti Airtel (4.55%), Tata Motors (3.56%) and Sun Pharma (3.21%) were the top Sensex gainers.

    On the BSE, top gainers were Avanti Feeds (19.86%) , Reliance Communications (10.34%) and Allahabad Bank (8.82%).

    Banking stocks rose after the RBI announced the rate hike. Bank Nifty which stood at 26,317 at 2:30 PM when the rate hike was announced rose 50 points to close at 26,367 level.  BSE bankex which stood at 29,402 at the time of policy announcement rose 58 points to close at 29,460 level.

    Meanwhile, domestic institutional investors (DIIs) bought shares worth a net Rs 474.33 crore, while foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) sold shares worth Rs 157.51 crore yesterday, as per provisional data.

    Global markets

    Global stocks markets followed Wall Street higher Wednesday ahead of a meeting of major industrialized economies overshadowed by tension over US steel tariffs.

    In early trading, London's FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent to 7,706.16 points while France's CAC 40 edged up 5 points to 5,465.64. Germany's DAX lost 3.6 points to 12,781.79. On Tuesday, the DAX gained 0.1 percent while the CAC 40 dipped 0.2 percent and the FTSE 100 dropped 0.7 percent. On Wall Street, the future for the Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.3 percent while that for the Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 0.1 percent.

    Tokyo's Nikkei 225 rose 0.4 percent to 22,625.73 and Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.5 percent to 6,025.10. Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.4 percent to 31,222.77 while the Shanghai Composite Index added 1 point to 3,115.18. India's Sensex advanced 0.6 percent to 35,113.28 and benchmarks in Taiwan, New Zealand, Bangkok and Manila also rose. South Korean markets were closed for a holiday.

    General Awareness

    Global Initiative on Academic Network (GIAN)
    • Context: In a bid to make Indian cities more sustainable, the NITI Aayog has launched a new course on ‘Urban Analytics – Evaluating and Measuring Sustainability of Cities’ at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee. The course was launched under Global Initiative on Academic Network (GIAN). The course will provide an understanding and analysis on the urbanisation and its impacts that would help in evaluating the conditions of sustainability in Indian cities.

      What is GIAN program?

      Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) in Higher Education was launched in 2015. It is a program of Ministry of Human Resource and Development.

      Aim: GIAN aims at tapping the talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs to engage with the institutes of higher education in India to augment the country’s existing academic resources, accelerate the pace of quality reforms, and further strengthen India’s scientific and technological capabilities.

      GIAN is envisaged to achieve the following objectives:

      To increase the footfalls of reputed international faculty in the Indian academic institutes.
      Provide opportunity to our faculty to learn and share knowledge and teaching skills in cutting edge areas.
      To provide opportunity to our students to seek knowledge and experience from reputed International faculty.
      To create avenue for possible collaborative research with the international faculty.
      Develop high quality course material in niche areas, both through video and print that can be used by a larger body of students and teachers.
      To document and develop new pedagogic methods in emerging topics of national and international interest.

      What needs to be done to make our cities sustainable?

      There is a need to harness the potential of urban information system and urban planning for making Indian cities more sustainable. All stakeholders should come forward with innovative and contextual solutions for Indian cities and create a model of a “living lab” by adopting a rural agglomeration in a nearby area which will transform into a township in the near future.

      Way ahead:

      India is the global host of the World Environment Day 2018, where the focus is on Sustainability and achievement of Sustainable Development Goals including SDG 11 which has a goal to “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. Now, it is the responsibility of all the stakeholders involved to achieve this goal in a timely manner.

      What’s important?

      For Prelims: GIAN and its objectives.
      For Mains: Significance of GIAN and reforms in higher education, sustainable cities- need, significance, challenges and solutions.

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