Current Affairs Current Affairs - 13 June 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 13 June 2018

General Affairs 

Army Starts 2-Month NEET Coaching "Kashmir Super 30 Medical"
  • To provide state of the art educational facilities for medical aspirants, the Indian Army on Tuesday started "Kashmir Super 30 Medical", a full time residential coaching project for NEET aspirants of the Kashmir Valley.

    The programme is being executed by a Kanpur based NGO, National Integrity and Educational Development Organisation (NIEDO), which will provide faculty members for academics and the army will oversee the overall administration, logistics and infrastructure with requisite annual funding from Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL).

    The facility was inaugurated by Chinar Corps Commander Lt Gen AK Bhatt in the presence of selected students, parents and representatives of NIEDO and HPCL among others.

    The Chinar Corps Commander complimented the selected students and urged them to continue their hard work.

    He said: "I will be very happy to see you all joining the medical colleges across India next year".

    Post signing of the Memorandum of understanding (MoU) on March 15, 2018, NIEDO carried out an exhaustive selection process across Jammu and Kashmir by conducting written examination for over 1,400 students which was followed by screening tests and interviews of the 170 shortlisted students.

    "Finally, only 30 bright, talented and aspiring students have been selected for training for a period of 12 months."

Rajasthan Government Schools To Hold Lectures Of "Saints-Mahatmas"
  • The government schools in Rajasthan will hold lectures of "Saints-Mahatmas" on every third Saturday of the month as an extra-curricular activity, the academic calendar of the school education department said. 

    As per the calendar released recently for the session 2018-19, the schools will hold 'Bal Sabhas' for five minutes on Saturdays. 

    The calendar has fixed schedule of five Saturdays, including review of issues of national importance or lecture of any great personality or lecture of "Saints-Mahatmas" on the third Saturday.

    The event can also be held apart from 'Bal Sabhas' during the zero hour after morning prayer, the calendar stated.

    The academic calendar for the year 2018-19 has been circulated to all the district education officers in the state by the director of the secondary education department to ensure the activities are implemented in all government schools.

    On the first Saturday of the month, biographies of well-renowned persons will be read out to the students, it said.

    On the second Saturday, stories on inspiration and moral values will be read out.

    On the fourth Saturday, a quiz programme will be held, whereas on the fifth Saturday, plays on moral values will be enacted and patriotic songs will be sung, it said. 

Kim Jong Un Committed To Denuclearisation, Says Trump After Historic Summit
  • President Donald Trump said he had "developed a very special bond" with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their historic summit here Tuesday, and proclaimed the start of a new era that could break a cycle of nuclear brinkmanship and stave off a military confrontation.

    "Yesterday's conflict does not have to be tomorrow's war," Trump said at a news conference in Singapore following more than four hours of talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

    Trump said Kim "reaffirmed" his commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and also agreed to destroy a missile site in the country.

    "We're ready to write a new chapter between our nations," he said.

    Trump sounded triumphant following his meeting with Kim, expressing confidence the North Korean leader was serious about abandoning his nuclear program and transforming his country from an isolated rogue regime to a respected member of the world community.

    Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un met in Singapore after months of negotiation on how to end a nuclear standoff

    But Trump provided few specifics about what steps Kim would take to back up his promise to denuclearize his country and how the United States would verify that North Korea was keeping its pledge to get rid of its nuclear weapons, saying that would be worked out in future talks.

    "We will do it as fast as it can mechanically and physically be done," he said of the process to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons.

    Trump announced that he will order an end to regular "war games" the United States conducts with ally South Korea, a reference to annual joint military exercises that are an irritant to North Korea.

    Trump called the exercises "very provocative" and "inappropriate" in light of the optimistic opening he sees with North Korea. Ending the exercises would also save money, Trump said.

    The United States has conducted such exercises for decades as a symbol of unity with Seoul, and previously rejected North Korean complaints as illegitimate. Ending the games would be a significant political benefit for Kim, but Trump insisted he had not given up leverage.

    US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walk after lunch at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore (Reuters)

    "I think the meeting was every bit as good for the United States as it was for North Korea," Trump said, casting himself as a leader who can secure a deal that has eluded past presidents.

    The South Korean president's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment about Trump's announcement that he would cancel the military exercises.

    At the Shangri La defense dialogue in Singapore earlier this month, South Korea's defense minister Song Young-moo said that the American military's activities in South Korea was "a separate issue from North Korea's nuclear issue".

    "U.S. forces stay in the Korean Peninsula to maintain stability and peace in the Korean Peninsula and North-east Asia," he said.

    At his news conference, Trump called Kim, an absolute ruler accused of massive human rights violations, a transformational leader for his country.

    Donald Trump also said he and Kim Jong Un had discussed human rights briefly.

    "Today is the beginning of an arduous process. Our eyes are wide open. But peace is always worth the effort," Trump said.

    Trump said human rights issues were raised Tuesday, but did not give details. American college student Otto Warmbier, who died last year days after release from a North Korean prison, "did not die in vain."

    After the series of meetings at Singapore's secluded and opulent Capella resort, the two leaders sat beside each other and signed what Trump called a "very comprehensive" agreement setting the path forward for negotiations.
    donald trump kim jong un reuters
    US President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un sign documents after their summit in Singapore (Reuters)

    The document was not immediately released, but Trump held aloft a copy for news photographers. Images show that the agreement includes a pledge by Trump to "provide security guarantees" to North Korea, while "Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

    When asked about Kim's commitment to the process of getting rid of North Korea's nuclear weapons, Trump said: "We are starting that process very quickly. Very, very quickly."

    But the document is an outline, with no specifics or deadlines and leaves the details on key issues such as how the United States would verify that North Korea had given up its nuclear program for future talks. It commits the two leaders to follow-on meetings and a new relationship between the nations, but it does not say that diplomatic relations would be opened.

    "President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea have committed to cooperate for the development of new U.S.-DPRK relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world," the agreement reads.

    Throughout the day, Trump cast his meetings with Kim in the most positive light.

    US President Donald Trump holds up a document signed by him and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un. (AFP)

    "We are very proud of what took place today," Trump said before he and Kim shook hands a final time. "I think our whole relationship with North Korea and the Korean Peninsula is going to be a very much different situation than it has in the past. We both want to do something, we both are going to do something. We have developed a very special bond."

    Trump added: "We are going to take care of a very big and a very dangerous problem for the world."

    Kim thanked Trump for making the summit happen.

    "Today we had a historic meeting and decided to leave the past behind," Kim said through an interpreter. "The whole world will see a great change."

    Neither leader was specific about what the next step would be, although Trump said he would "absolutely" invite Kim to the White House.

    "This is going to lead to more and more and more," Trump said.

    Donald Trump also said he and Kim Jong Un had discussed human rights briefly.

    But beneath the remarkable images from the Capella was the thornier reality that the two sides remained divided on crucial issues and on a denuclearization plan, which could take years to complete and would probably face significant stumbling blocks along the way.

    Ahead of the meeting, U.S. officials had said that if the session went well it would yield a series of more detailed discussions about ridding North Korea of nuclear weapons in exchange for economic benefits and security assurances.

    The two leaders began meeting shortly after 9 a.m. local time, approaching one another from opposite wings on a stage with a red carpet and a row of alternating U.S. and North Korean flags. They shook hands and held their grip before turning to face a small group of journalists for images to be beamed rapidly around the world, both men maintaining serious expressions.

    The president motioned to Kim to leave the stage, and the two men retreated into a private chamber to meet one on one, joined only by their interpreters, with the aim of establishing a rapport before the more technical nuclear arms negotiations.

    The unprecedented greeting between the unorthodox leader of the world's richest and most powerful nation and the brutal ruler of the most isolated and repressive would have been considered almost unimaginable just months ago as Trump, 71, and Kim, 34, traded threats and personal insults. Never before had a sitting U.S. president met with a ruling Kim family patriarch, as previous White Houses refused to validate the regime amid its nuclear provocations and human rights abuses.

    A view looking toward Sentosa, the resort island where Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump met today (Reuters)

    During an expanded meeting after their one-on-one session, Trump was flanked by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, national security adviser John Bolton and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly. Kim was joined by Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party, who had visited Trump at the White House two weeks earlier.

    Later in the day, after a formal seated luncheon, Trump continued to strike a positive tone.

    "It's going great. We had a really fantastic meeting, lot of progress," Trump told reporters as he and Kim walked together at the resort. "Really very positive. I think better than anybody could have expected, top of the line. Really good."

    Trump then walked Kim over to his armored presidential limousine. A Secret Service agent held a door open so Kim could peer inside "the Beast."

    In the days before the meeting, with negotiators struggling to reach a basic agreement, Trump and his aides sought to lower expectations about how quickly the administration could persuade Pyongyang to begin dismantling its weapons arsenal.

    One major issue that appeared to remain unresolved following the summit was North Korea's brutal human rights record, which Trump had lambasted last year after the death of American college student Warmbier, who had been held captive in the North for 17 months and then released in a coma.

    After the luncheon, Donald Trump walked Kim Jong Un over to his armored presidential limousine.

    Trump, who delights in challenging conventional wisdom, seized on the chance to do what other presidents could not and, despite having taken office with scant geopolitical experience, quickly elevated the escalating North Korea threat to his top foreign policy priority. As Pyongyang demonstrated rapidly sophisticated proficiency in its nuclear arsenal, Trump oversaw a tightening of economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation of Pyongyang - only to leap in March at Kim's offer to meet, despite warnings from former U.S. officials that he was moving too quickly and rewarding the regime for its bad behavior.

    At 8:53 a.m., a black stretch Mercedes sedan bearing North Korean flags pulled up to the Capella. Kim stepped out in a traditional black Mao suit and quickly entered the building. Trump followed six minutes later, emerging from the presidential limousine in a dark suit and red power tie, and with an impassive stare.

    At 9:04 a.m., they strode toward each other and, as they shook hands, Trump patted Kim's right shoulder with his left hand.

    It was the moment of truth for Trump, who last week boasted that he would use his "touch" and his "feel" as a seasoned dealmaker to size up the leader of the world's most opaque regime and determine within the first minute whether he was serious about making a deal.

    Seated next to Kim ahead of the private meeting, Trump said: "It's my honor, and we will have a terrific relationship, I have no doubt."

    In Seoul, people applauded as they watched the handshake between Kim and Trump on a big TV screen. (Reuters)

    Kim spoke in Korean of "the old prejudices" that have hampered relations. "But we've overcome all of them, and we are here today," he said.

    Trump and his team vowed Monday that the United States would not repeat past missteps. Deals reached between Washington and Pyongyang under Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama collapsed after North Korea conducted additional missile and nuclear tests.

    "The United States has been fooled before - there's no doubt about it," Pompeo told reporters Monday. "Despite any past flimsy agreements, the president will ensure no potential agreement fails to adequately address the North Korean threat."

    On his final day before meeting Kim, Trump sought to consolidate support from key allies, speaking by phone with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who have been in close coordination with the White House for months.

    It was Moon's outreach to Kim around the Winter Olympics, which were held in South Korea in February, that launched a flurry of diplomatic engagements that culminated in the Trump-Kim summit.

    At a cabinet meeting in Seoul on Tuesday, Moon said he was so excited that he had had trouble sleeping. "I join all the people in ardently aspiring for the success of the summit to bring complete denuclearization and peace to us and usher in a new era among the two Koreas and the United States," Moon said.

    At Seoul's main train station, travelers applauded as they watched the handshake between Kim and Trump on a big TV screen.

    "I am hopeful now that hostilities will die down," said Lim Sung-gyu, a 24-year-old college student who is waiting to do his South Korean military service.

Shiv Sena On Plot To Assassinate PM Modi
  • The Maharashtra government's claim about a Maoist plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi was today questioned by the BJP's ally Shiv Sena, saying that the claim "does not seem to be legitimate".

    As a high-level meeting presided by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh decided to strengthen the security of PM Modi, the BJP slammed opposition parties for claiming that the plot could be a publicity ploy and said it was the "lowest point of insensitivity and politics".

    NCP chief Sharad Pawar alleged the BJP was playing the "threat letter card" to gain sympathy.

    The comments came against the backdrop of a claim by Maharashtra police that Maoists were plotting assassination of the prime minister and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

    The police, after arresting five people with alleged Maoist links last week, had said that a letter was seized from the house of one of them in which there was a suggestion about assassinating PM Modi in "Rajiv Gandhi-type incident".

    "the plot to assassinate them (PM Modi and Mr Fadnavis) seems mysterious and the story of a horror film," said an editorial in Shiv Sena mouthpiece 'Saamna'.

    Quoting contents of the purported Maoist letter, the editorial said, "Modi has succeeded in forming governments in 15 states. If this continues, the organisation will be in trouble. And thus, Modi should be eliminated. All this was revealed by the police, which seems laughable."

    It said the issue is being milked for political purpose, adding, "this conspiracy does not seem to be legitimate, is what being said by the experts."

    The Shiv Sena said PM Modi's security is as strong as Mossad (Israel's intelligence agency) and it is virtually impossible for anybody to penetrate it.

    Earlier, Mr Pawar raised doubts over the veracity of the threat letter.

    "The BJP has realised that they are losing the popular support. In order to gain sympathy, the BJP is now playing the threat letter card. However, I am sure that the people will not fall prey to such tactics," he said at a function in Pune yesterday.

    "I have spoken to a senior retired police officer who told me that when such letters come they do not go to media but to the security agencies which make sure that adequate security measures are taken," the former chief minister said.

    Mr Fadnavis hit out at Mr Pawar, saying he was not expected to "stoop to this level". In a tweet in Marathi, Mr Fadnavis said that "Pawar ji should play politics of the nation and not politics of hatred."

    Questioning the veracity of the threat letter seized by police, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said it is "unverified", and noted that it was government's duty to provide foolproof protection and security to the prime minister.

    "I do not think you should take all these unverified letters as though they are official documents. Such letters will float about," Mr Chidambaram told reporters when asked about the threat letter.

    "It is the business of the government to offer and provide complete protection to the Prime Minister of India...So let the Government take whatever measures it has to take to provide complete foolproof protection and security of the prime minister. We are all interested in the security of the PM of India," the former union home minister told reporters in Delhi.

    Union minister Prakash Javadekar said everybody should have condemned such an attempt, more so as India has lost two prime ministers to violence.

    "People are still not sensitive," the BJP leader said at a news conference in Delhi.

    Mr Javadekar said instead of questioning those who wrote the letter opposition parties were questioning as to how it came to the fore.

    "This is the lowest point of insensitivity and politics".

    Home Minister Rajnath Singh held the high-level meeting in which National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and Director Intelligence Bureau Rajiv Jain were present to review the security in the wake of inputs about threat to PM Modi's life.

NASA's Opportunity Rover Halted Over Martian Dust Storm
  • NASA's Opportunity Rover's science operations have been temporarily suspended as it waits out a growing dust storm on Mars, the US space agency said in a statement.

    First detected by NASA on June 1, the storm ballooned to more than 18 million square kms and included the Opportunity's current location at Perseverance Valley in the Red Planet by June 8.

    The swirling dust has raised the atmospheric opacity, or "tau", -- the veil of dust blowing around, which can blot out sunlight -- in the valley in the past few days.

    As the rover uses solar panels to provide power and to recharge its batteries, the rover was required to shift to minimal operations.

    The storm's atmospheric opacity is now much worse than a 2007 storm that Opportunity weathered. The previous storm had an opacity level, or tau, somewhere above 5.5; this new storm had an estimated tau of 10.8 as of morning on June 10.

    Despite the worsening dust storm, Opportunity also sent a transmission to NASA engineers on the same day, the report said.

    Data from the transmission let engineers know the rover still has enough battery charge to communicate with ground controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

    However, still science operations remain suspended, the report said.

    Opportunity's team has also requested additional communications coverage from NASA's Deep Space Network -- a global system of antennas that talks to all the agency's deep space probes.

    The latest data transmission showed the rover's temperature to be about minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 29 degrees Celsius).

    Engineers will monitor the rover's power levels closely in the week to come. The rover needs to balance low levels of charge in its battery with sub-freezing temperatures.

    Its heaters are vitally important to keeping it alive, but also draw more power from the battery. Likewise, performing certain actions draws on battery power, but can actually expel energy and raise the rover's temperature.

    The rover has proved hardier than expected by lasting nearly 15 years, despite being designed for a 90-day mission.

    Full dust storms though one are not surprising, but are infrequent. They can crop up suddenly but last weeks, even months.

    During southern summer, sunlight warms dust particles, lifting them higher into the atmosphere and creating more wind.

    Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and two other NASA spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet --Odyssey and MAVEN -- routinely support rovers on the ground.

Business Affairs

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This company blames PM Modi's demonetisation, Supreme Court, Brazilian govt for its loan problem

  • Last week, Videocon Industries was admitted by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for insolvency proceedings. The first homegrown consumer durable company in India owes a consortium of banks led by the State Bank of India around Rs 39,000 crore. According to Bloomberg, the beleaguered company is casting the blame on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Supreme Court and the Brazilian government for its financial woes. The report added that Videocon has also filed an appeal to wrest back control.

    In a regulatory filing yesterday, Videocon attached a copy of the NCLT order where it has also pleaded its case. "Learned counsel [on behalf of Videocon Group] has also highlighted that the Corporate Debtor [Videocon Industries Limited] had always cooperated with the Bank Authorities in timely repayment of loan in the past, but at present the default has happened because of the unexpected and unforeseen circumstances," said the court order.

    The first of these unforeseen circumstances to be listed is the Supreme Court's decision to cancel 156 2G licences of various telecom operators. The Group has alleged that the "telecom business was victimised" by the ruling and as a stakeholder Videocon too was badly affected. "The Group had suffered huge losses in telecom business on account of cancellation of license, which resulted into non-payment of bank liabilities," read the order. Next on the list is the Brazilian government, because red tapism on their part in granting sanctions to Videocon's joint venture with Brazil Petroleum Limited resulted in "heavy losses".

    Even Modi's surprise demonetisation decision finds mention. "The Learned Counsel has also informed that [Videocon Industries] was in the business of manufacturing and supply of cathode ray tube televisions," said the court order, adding that Videocon was the only player boasting considerable profit margins. That is till demonetisation, on account of which suppliers were unable to provide the raw material, which in turn caused a sharp decline in the business and Videocon "was constrained to close that business".

    The report added that the company's shares, which have plunged a whopping 96 per cent over the past five years, was trading at Rs 7.56 apiece on the BSE today.

    Meanwhile, a response from Videocon states, " the notification filed by Videocon on the exchanges, Videocon has not blamed Honorable PM Narendra Modi for the its debt pile and has only pointed towards demonetisation for increased challenges in business."

7th Pay Commission: Modi government's latest announcement to benefit 23 lakh retired employees
  • In a move that could bring cheers to over 23 lakh retired employees of universities and colleges, the Narendra Modi government on Tuesday said it has revised the pension of retired faculty and other non-teaching staff in central universities and colleges under the 7th Central Pay Commission.

    Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said as per the recommendations of the 7th Central Pay Commission, the centre government has increased the pension of retired faculty and other non-teaching staff in central universities and colleges, which would benefit around 25,000 present pensioners in these institutions.

    He also added that these 25,000 pensioners would be given benefit to the tune of Rs 6,000 to Rs 18,000. "Around 25,000 present pensioners will benefit in Central Universities and the UGC maintained deemed to be universities to the tune of Rs 6000 to Rs 18, 000," Javadekar tweeted.

    Apart from providing benefits to these 25,000 pensioners, the decision will also affect over 23 lakh employees retired from state universities and affiliated colleges -- those who have adopted the prescribed pay scales. "The present move of centre government would benefit approx. 8 lakh teachers and 15 lakh non-teaching staff who retired from state public universities and affiliated colleges, who wish to adopt or have adopted pay scales prescribed for central universities," Javadekar tweeted.

    However, the government has no taken any decision to increase the 'minimum pay and fitment factor' beyond the 7th Central Pay Commission recommendations, which could provide benefits to over 48 lakh central government employees. In March, Minister of State in Finance P Radhakrishnan told the Rajya Sabha no decision had been taken in this regard, and that the benefits recommended in the 7th Pay Commission remained as such.
    "The minimum pay of Rs 18,000 per month, and fitment factor of 2.57 are based on the specific recommendations of the 7th Central Pay Commission in the light of the relevant factors taken into account by it. Therefore, no change therein is at present under consideration," he said.

    There is, however, speculation that PM Narendra Modi would dole out this bonanza to appease employees on the Independence Day on August 15. Media reports say PM Modi is holding his 'trump card' as of now but could announce the hike in the salaries of the central government employees and also increase the retirement age to 62 before the General Elections in 2019, probably on August 15.

    The Narendra Modi government had increased the salaries of the central government employees by 14 per cent in January. However, most employees were unhappy with the fact that the hike was not enough, considering rising inflation and cost of living.

    Himachal govt enhances special pay, uniform allowance of drivers

    Himachal Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Monday announced to enhance the special pay of the drivers of the state government from Rs 800 to Rs 1,000 per month which will give them financial benefit of Rs. 2400 per year. Besides, he also announced increase in uniform allowance from Rs 200 to Rs 300. He said the finance department had already been directed to clear the pending medical and travelling allowance bills of the drivers and conductors at the earliest. He also announced to give two special increments to the drivers driving dozers, JCB and plant machines etc, who have not got the benefit of any promotion during their service period.

Not possible to monitor all 1.16 lakh bank branches across India: RBI Governor tells Parliamentary panel
  • RBI Governor Urjit Patel on Tuesday told a parliamentary panel headed by senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily that it's impossible for the central bank to monitor all 1.16 lakh commercial bank branches across India. He said the banks need to improve their internal control system to tackle issues related to frauds and other challenges like asset quality and rising non-performing assets. He said PNB, in its compliance report to the RBI, furnished wrong information on safety measures adopted by the public sector lender.   

    Patel, however, assured the panel that the NPA crises would be resolved soon as steps were being taken to boost the banking sector.

    On the issue of accounting of losses from Rs 14,000-crore PNB fraud involving diamond merchant Nirav Modi, the RBI governor told the Parliament panel that the primary responsibility of risk management rests with the board of directors of Punjab National Bank. He apprised the panel that in case of the PNB scam, all lines of defence had failed, which led to a fraud with such a large value.

    He said the RBI had warned the banks to scale up their monitoring process against similar frauds in other banks. The PNB had furnished a compliance report on safety mechanism to the RBI, which turned out to be factually incorrect. "PNB submitted factually false compliance on safety mechanism advised by the RBI," he said.

    He also apprised the committee that from 2015 to 2018, as many as 15,000 bank frauds have been reported, which accounted for Rs 75,000 crore.

    Interestingly, losses of public sector banks have touched a staggering Rs 87,370 crore during the financial year ended on March 31, 2018, with the fraud-hit Punjab National Bank leading the pack as the biggest loss-maker. Of the 21 state-owned banks, only two banks, Indian Bank and Vijaya Bank, posted profits during 2017-18. All 21 banks had together posted a net profit of Rs 473.72 crore in 2016-17.

    The central bank also submitted a background note on the condition of the entire banking sector to the committee, in which it noted that the banking sector was facing major challenges due to stress in asset quality and mounting bad loans, which adversely impacted profitability of banks.

    The RBI said the total stressed advances ratio for scheduled commercial banks improved marginally to 11.54 per cent on December 2017 compared to 11.61 per cent in March 2017.

Maharashtra to set up artificial intelligence clusters with Canadian help
  • IVADO and Next AI, two artificial intelligence (AI) accelerator firms in Quebec, a predominantly French-speaking province in eastern Canada, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government of Maharashtra to set up AI clusters in the state.

    During Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' visit to Middle East, Canada and the US to attract investments into the state, IVADO has signed a collaboration agreement with the Department of IT, Maharashtra for setting up an AI accelerator in the state. IVADO and Maharashtra also signed a Letter of Intent to become part of the World Organization on AI. Next AI too has signed an agreement with the government of Maharashtra's Department of Information Technology to set up a joint AI accelerator to promote 50 AI start-up units in the state. IVADO and Applied AI Research Institute of Mumbai, launched in February, will work together to set up AI clusters in Maharashtra in conjunction with IIT Mumbai, said sources.

    Canada based IVADO acts as a facilitator of professionals and academic researchers to develop cutting-edge expertise in data science, operational research and artificial intelligence and creates opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaborations between specialists, partners, researchers and students in its network. NextAI is a global innovation hub for AI related venture creation and technology commercialisation and has access to up to $200,000 in capital, world-renowned faculty and scientists, a network of Canada's top business leaders and entrepreneurs and cutting edge AI tools, said sources.

    Speaking at a panel discussion on the topic in Quebec, Fadnavis said that Maharashtra was the first state in India to come out with a comprehensive cloud policy that has enabled the entire government to take steps to shift its operations to cloud and take advantage of the capabilities of cloud computing. In this direction, the government has come out with the first fintech policy in India that includes incentives to start-ups, fintech registry etc. Additionally, the IT department of the state government has also embarked on the use of blockchain in some key areas such as land registry, healthcare, transport, etc.

    Meanwhile, the delegation from Maharashtra has also got investment commitments in ports, infrastructure and urban housing, including slum redevelopments projects, from the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) key decision makers and business leaders.

SBI expects to recover Rs 50,000 cr this fiscal: Report
  • The past two quarters have not been easy on the State Bank of India. In February, it had reported its first quarterly loss in 17 years, if not more, and in Q4, its net loss had tripled to Rs 7,718 crore.

    But the country's largest lender is a lot more optimistic about this fiscal year. According to The Economic Times, SBI is aiming to recover Rs 50,000 crore this year and is strengthening its recovery team for better collections.

    Of this amount, SBI hopes to recover around Rs 30,000 crore just from the cases with the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). According to Pallav Mohapatra, Deputy Managing Director of Stressed Assets Resolution Group at SBI, the bank's total exposure to the two lists of stressed assets referred for resolution by the RBI last year stands at around Rs 78,000 crore. The report added that its provision coverage ratio on the first set of 12 NCLT accounts is reportedly 56 per cent, and 75 per cent for the second list. So far, the bank had filed 250 cases under IBC with a total exposure of Rs 95,000 crore.

    In its analyst presentation for FY2018 results, SBI had said that its expected haircut on the first list of stressed assets is 52 per cent and it is optimistic that a bulk of the resolutions will go through in the first half of the current fiscal. But it's slow going, so far, on the NCLT front since most of the cases have been largely trapped in legal hurdles, although the recoveries have been decent. The bank was able to recover Rs 8,500 crore from the Bhushan Steel-Tata Steel deal, taking a haircut of 30 per cent. It expects to recover Rs 6,000 crore from the Electrosteel-Vedanta deal. The bank expects the second NCLT list to be resolved by the end of this fiscal and anticipates roughly 25 per cent recovery from it.

    "The guidance has been given to our teams, now the entire system is geared towards making the recovery possible," Mohapatra told the daily. "We will be using a variety of tools ranging from taking some of these accounts to NCLT, selling bad loans to asset reconstruction companies, one-time settlement with promoters and specific camps for retail borrowers who haven't paid up on time."

    SBI also told the daily that it will be much more aggressive in dealing with restructuring cases in the future. "If a fresh restructuring is done, banks have to look at what is the skin in the game for the promoters and if the current management is not capable of handling stress situations, then the bank will find a new management to run the company," said Mohapatra.

    The bank expects to get back around Rs 10,000 crore from one-time settlement, sale to ARCs et al.

    General Awareness

    • 1. The world's No Tobacco day is observed on 31st May. This year the theme is:
      1) "Tobacco and heart disease
      2) "Tobacco and Cancer
      3) "Tobacco and Lung Cancer
      4) "Tobacco and health problems
      5) "Tobacco and Life Risk

      2. The Joint Military Exercise SURYA KIRAN-XIII, a biannual event started between which of the following two countries:
      1) India and Nepal
      2) India and Bangladesh
      3) India and Pakistan
      4) India and Bhutan
      5) India and Myanmar

      3. For the first time,which country is hosting Shanghai Cooperation Organisation-Regional AntiTerrorist Structure Legal Experts meeting 2018?
      1) India
      2) Pakistan
      3) China
      4) Nepal
      5) Bhutan

      4. Vikas Gowda announced his retirement. He is:
      1) The chief secretary of RBI
      2) The only Indian to win commonwealth games in Weightlifting
      3) The only Indian to win Commonwealth Games medal in Discus throw
      4) The Chief Election Commissioner
      5) The Indian origin Srilankan cricketer .

      5. The new Messaging App 'Kimbho' was launched by :
      1) BHEL
      2) BSNL
      3) TATA
      4) Patanjali
      5) Ayush

      6. Sangeeta Bahl is in the news recently. The reason is :
      1) She has become the oldest Indian woman to scale the Mount Everest.
      2) She is the youngest Indian woman to scale the Mount Everest.
      3) She is the double amputee to climb Mt everest
      4) She created world record by scaling 3 highest mountains in single climbing season.
      5) She hails from Telangana state.

      7. Which city is going to be NATO's 1st Latin American Global Partner?
      1) Cuba
      2) Colombia
      3) Brazil
      4) Peru
      5) Argentina

      8. Recently, Alicia Pucheta became the first interim woman President of which country ?
      1) Paraguay
      2) Poland
      3) Finland
      4) Ireland
      5) cuba

      9. Nepal is the first country in WHO's South-East Asia Region to defeat Trachoma. Trachoma is a : 1) Eye disease caused by infection
      2) Liver disease
      3) Pancreas disease caused by virus
      4) Brain disease
      5) Small and large intestine disease caused by viral infection

      10. The United States has withdrawn to invite which country from Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise:
      1) Russia
      2) Pakistan
      3) North Korea
      4) India
      5) China

      11. Prime minister launched Eastern Peripheral Expressway recently. Which among the following are true about Expressway:
      a) It has been launched in Bagpat, Uttar Pradesh.
      b) Eastern Peripheral Expressway is 235 km long.
      c) It is India's first highway to be lit by solar power .
      1) Only a and b are true
      2) Only b and c are true
      3) All a, b and c are true
      4) None of them are true
      5) Only a and c are true

      12. The International Day of UN Peacekeepers is observed every year on May 29 and this year the theme is:
      1) "UN Peacekeepers: 70 Years of Service and Sacrifice".
      2) "UN Peacekeepers: Many Years of Service and Sacrifice".
      3) "UN Peacekeepers: Life for Service and Sacrifice".
      4) "UN Peacekeepers: Service and Sacrifice".
      5) "UN Peacekeepers: Change the lives for better future".

      13. Which country has banned products from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain, accusing it of supporting terrorism.?
      1) US
      2) Israel
      3) Qatar
      4) India
      5) UK

      14. India, United States and Japan will deploy 22nd Malabar exercise at Guam. Guam is a:
      1) Guam is a US island territory in Micronesia, in the Western Pacific.
      2) Guam is a Japan's island territory in Micronesia.
      3) Guam is an Indian island territory near Indian ocean.
      4) Guam is a Japan's island territory near Red Sea
      5) Guam is a richest city in US.

      15. In the fourth week of May, which country has passed a tougher anti-terror law?
      1) Malaysia
      2) Indonesia
      3) India
      4) Myanmar
      5) France

      16. Gaj Yatra launched in Garo Hills recently. In which state it is:
      1) Nagaland
      2) Tripura
      3) Meghalaya
      4) Manipur
      5) Odisha

      17. Which state Government Launches Reuse Of Treated Waste Water Policy ?
      1) Telangana
      2) Andhra Pradesh
      3) Goa
      4) Gujarath
      5) Manipur

      18. Prime minister inaugurated India's first 14-lane highway. It is between:
      1) Delhi-Meerut
      2) Delhi-jaitser
      3) Delhi-sirpur
      4) Meerut-dispur
      5) Chennai-meerut

      19. Name the Indian cartoonist who has won award in the best caricature category at the 2018 World Press Cartoon awards:
      1) Srikumar saran
      2) Thomas antony
      3) Madhukar gupta
      4) Sreedhar
      5) Sraswathi narasimha rao

      20. The US Capitol ,for the first time will host which among the following gathering of community: 1) African-americans
      2) Muslims
      3) Indian-Americans
      4) Muslim-Americans
      5) immigrants

      21. Name the former World Shooting Champion who won the gold in the Grand Prix in Munich, Germany:
      1) Heena sidhu
      2) Rajwant singh
      3) Tejaswini sawant
      4) Surya kanthi
      5) Anju mudgal

      22. Choose the correct answer?
      a) India will be the host country for celebrations of World Environment Day 2018
      b) The theme for this year is 'Beat Plastic Pollution'
      c) World environment day is celebrated on 5th June.
      d) Cuba was the host country for the world environment day 2017.
      1) Only a and b are true
      2) Only b and c are true
      3) Only a and c are true
      4) Only c and d are true
      5) Only a, b and c are true

      23. The ASEAN India Film Festival has started in New Delhi. The Headquarters of ASEAN are at : 1) Jakarta, Indonesia
      2) New Delhi, India
      3) Beijing, China
      4) Canberra, Australia
      5) Kaulalumpur, Malaysia

      24. The second stage of Archery World Cup 2018 has been started in Antalya. Antalya is in:
      1) Malaysia
      2) Finland
      3) Turkey
      4) Bhutan
      5) Nepal

      25. Dr. Kamaljit S. Bawa has been conferred with the prestigious Linnean Medal. Which of the statements are true about this:
      a) The Linnean Medal is awarded to a biologist every year by the Linnean Society of London
      b) He became the first Indian to win this award
      c) Dr. Bawa is Botanist and the President of ICRISAT d) He is the Indian Botanist and President of ATREE
      1) Only a and c are true
      2) Only b and c are true
      3) Only c and D are true
      4) Only a and d are true
      5) Only a,b and d are true

      26. Which Indian airport has been recognized as the world's first fully solar energy-powered airport by United Nations Environment Programme?
      1) Cochin international Airport
      2) Goa International Airport
      3) Indira Gandhi International Airport
      4) Rajiv Gandhi International airport
      5) Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport

      27. The BCCI and UN Environment has signed an agreement to promote 'green' Cricket in India. the main aim is to:
      1) Focus on phasing out singleuse plastic across stadiums in the country, highlighting hazards of plastic pollution .
      2) Focus on planting trees around the stadiums
      3) Focus on Non-smoking across stadiums. Highlighting hazards of smoking pollution
      4) Focusing on hazards of drunk and drive cases, and avoidance of accidents
      5) Focusing on eradicating air pollution

      28. Who launched the twin pit toilet technology ad campaign for the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) ?
      1) Aamir khan
      2) Akshay kumar
      3) Anil kapoor
      4) Rishi kapoor
      5) Jackie shroff

      29. As per Lancet's latest study, India's rank in terms of Healthcare Access and Quality (HAQ) Index is :
      1) 125
      2) 134
      3) 145
      4) 167
      5) 150

      30. On 25th May 2018, which International union has brought in to effect the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rule?
      1) ASEAN
      2) NATO
      3) SAARC
      4) EU
      5) BIMSTEC

      31. Choose the correct one:
      a) India was ranked 44th in terms of competitiveness for year 2018
      b)The US became the most competitive economy country
      c) Malaysia and UK are in the second and third place
      1) Only a is true
      2) Only b and c are true
      3) Only a and c are true
      4) Only c is true
      5) Only a and b are true

      32. The 5th India-CLMV Business Conclave 2018 was held in which country?
      1) Cambodia
      2) Myanmar
      3) Vietnam
      4) Laos
      5) India

      33. Name the actor/actress who has been collaborated with NITI Aayog for the promotion of Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) launched by the Central government:
      1) Shraddha kapoor
      2) Ranbir kapoor
      3) Sushant singh rajput
      4) Hrithik roshan
      5) Jai hemant shroff

      34. Which UN organization has launched a data visualisation application recently?
      1) UNO
      2) UNSC
      3) UNDP
      4) UNFPA
      5) UNICEF

      1) 1 2) 1 3) 2 4) 3 5) 4 6) 1 7) 2 8) 1 9) 1 10) 5
      11) 5 12) 1 13) 3 14) 1 15) 2 16) 3 17) 4 18) 1 19) 2 20) 3
      21) 3 22) 5 23) 1 24) 3 25) 5 26) 1 27) 1 28) 2 29) 3 30) 4 31) 5 32) 1 33) 3 34) 5

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