Current Affairs Current Affairs - 15 June 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 15 June 2018

General Affairs 

22 Sailors Rescued After Container Ship Catches Fire In Bay Of Bengal
  • The Indian Coast Guard today rescued all 22 sailors aboard a container ship that caught fire around midnight in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of Haldia in West Bengal. The ship has now been set adrift, with the coast guard still monitoring its movements.

    "All the 22 survivors including the captain of the ship were picked up by the Coast Guard vessel," Coast Guard Commander (NE) Inspector General KS Sheoran said today.

    The MV SSL Kolkata reported the fire, which was caused due to an explosion in one of the containers, at 12:05 am today.  The Coast Guard immediately deployed a ship from Haldia and a Dornier aircraft from Kolkata for search and rescue operations.

    But the fire was of such magnitude that naval air assets from Vishakhapattinam had to be launched in the morning. The navy dispatched one Sea King 42C helicopter and a Dornier aircraft to assist the Coast Guard.

    container ship fire bay of bengal
    The MV SSL Kolkata reportedly caught fire due to an explosion in one of its containers

    The fire reportedly spread very fast due to rough sea conditions and strong winds. The Coast Guard ship Rajkiran reached the area at around 8 am, and discovered that the fire had spread to 60 containers and the master of the vessel had decided to abandon ship.

    The navy aircraft were informed that the MV SSL Kolkata was located by the Coast Guard and that the operations would be over by the time they reached. Both the aircraft were then routed back to their base in Vishakhapattinam.

    The Coast Guard refused to rule out the possibility of an oil spill from the ship's fuel. It is currently co-operating with Kolkata Port Trust, Haldia Dock Complex, Dhampra Port and the owner of the vessel for firefighting operations

    The container ship was on a coastal voyage from Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh to Kolkata when it caught fire.

Amitabh Bachchan Pledges Rs. 2 Crore To Army Widows, Farmers
  • Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan today confirmed reports that he would be donating Rs. 2 crore for the welfare of widows of Indian Army soldiers' and farmers.

    The 75-year-old actor took to Twitter where he shared a number of source-based new articles and captioned the tweet as: "Yes I can and I will..."

    According to reports, Mr Bachchan had pledged to give away Rs. 1 crore each to the deceased soldiers' families and to the cause of repayment of farmers loans.

    The articles also stated that the veteran actor had handpicked a team to list and locate authentic organisations that will ensure the money reaches to the designated people in need. The actor, however, did not mention anything about this.

Arvind Kejriwal Urges PM To Intervene To End IAS Officers' Strike
  • Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention to end the IAS officers' "strike" claiming that Lt Governor Anil Baijal was doing "nothing" to break the impasse.

    In his letter to PM Modi, Mr Kejriwal cited instances when government work was stuck as the officers have not been attending meetings with ministers for the past three months.

    He said cleaning of drains before monsoon, setting up of mohalla clinics and measures to curb air pollution in Delhi are stuck because of the alleged strike by the IAS officers.

    He said no meeting has taken place between IAS officers and ministers for the past three months to address the issue of air pollution, even as toxic pollutants in the air reached to dangerous levels over the past three days.

    The chief minister said the Centre and the Lt Governor have control over the IAS officers and had they been under the Delhi government, their "strike" would have ended within hours.

    Mr Kejriwal wrote to PM Modi on the fourth day of the sit-in he and his ministers are holding at Mr Baijal's office, demanding that the Lt Governor direct the IAS officers to end their "strike" and act against those who have struck work. They also want the Lt Governor to approve the proposal for doorstep delivery of ration.

    "Due to strike, several works are being affected. As L-G is doing nothing to end IAS officers' strike, Delhi government and the people of Delhi request you (PM) with folded hands to get the strike called off immediately so that works of Delhi can resume," Mr Kejriwal said in the letter.

    He said the cleaning of drains should start before the monsoon, but officers have not been attending meetings due to which work is suffering. Due to the strike, setting up of new mohalla clinics and poly clinics has come to a halt, he said.

    "Pollution is the biggest problem in Delhi. Earlier, there was a review and planning meeting in every 15 days on the issue, but due to strike, there has been no such meeting in the last three months," the chief minister alleged.

    Separately in a tweet, Mr Kejriwal alleged that the Lt Governor's office did not allow his brother to meet him. "My brother came to meet me from Pune. He was not allowed to meet me. This is wrong."

    In the morning, a team of doctors conducted a health checkup of Mr Kejriwal's deputy Manish Sisodia and health Minister Satyendar Jain at the Lt Governor's office, who are on indefinite hunger strike to press for their demands.

    Mr Kejriwal has said they will not leave the Lt Governor's office until their demands are met. The Aam Aadmi Party has threatened to stage a "dharna" at the Prime Minister's Office on Sunday if a solution to the issue was not found this week.

    According to the AAP government, officers have not been attending meetings with the ministers and not picking up their calls due to which government work for people was suffering.

    However, the IAS officers' association has claimed that no officer has been on strike and no work has been affected.

    The Lt Governor's office recently slammed Mr Kejriwal's sit-in, saying it was one more "dharna without reason".

Atal Bihari Vajpayee Still In AIIMS ICU, Condition Being Monitored
  • Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, continues to be in the ICU of AIIMS, and his condition is being monitored by a team of doctors round the clock, sources at the hospital said.
    AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria had yesterday said that the 93-year-old leader has shown significant improvement and doctors are hopeful of his full recovery in the next few days.

    Mr Vajpayee was admitted to the premier hospital on June 11 with kidney tract infection, chest congestion and his urine output being on the lower side.

    "He was immediately evaluated by a team of doctors and was put on injectable antibiotics," Guleria had said.

    Mr Vajpayee, a diabetic, has one functional kidney. He suffered a stroke in 2009, weakening his cognitive abilities. Later, he developed dementia.
    Political leaders, including Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, RSS general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje visited the ailing leader at the hospital today.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and H D Deve Gowda, and Congress president Rahul Gandhi have visited Vajpayee at the AIIMS over the past three days.

    Mr Vajpayee was thrice elected the prime minister between 1996 and 1999 and is the only non-Congress prime minister to complete the full term of five years, from 1999 to 2004. As his health deteriorated, he had slowly withdrawn himself from public life and was confined to his residence for years.

Soldier Abducted From Jammu And Kashmir's Pulwama Shot Dead By Terrorists
  • Hours after a soldier was abducted by terrorists from Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district this morning, his bullet-ridden body has been found. Aurangzeb, who was proceeding on leave for Eid when he was abducted, was shot in the head and neck, police said.
    His body was found by a team of police and Army at Gussu village, about 10 km away from Kalampora, in Pulwama district, from where he was abducted.

    The soldier belongs to 4 Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry and was posted with the 44 Rashtriya Rifles camp at Shadimarg in Shopian, where he was part of the army's ongoing anti-terror operations.

    At about 9 am today, army men from the unit stopped a car asking the driver to drop the soldier in Shopian, officials said, recounting what had happened. Terrorists stopped the vehicle as it approached Kalampora and abducted the soldier.

    Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, "Another piece of terrible news to add to an already horrible day. May Aurangzeb rest in peace. Allah Jannat naseeb karay(sic)."
    Aurangzeb's body was found just a couple of hours after senior journalist and 'Rising Kashmir' Shujaat Bukhari was shot dead by terrorists outside his office in Srinagar.

    A month ago, anti-terror cordon and search operations were suspended in Jammu and Kashmir under a peace initiative of the Central government on the occasion of Eid. Security officials say during this period, the state has witnessed a huge spurt in terror activity as well as crime.

    In May last year, a young, unarmed army officer was kidnapped by terrorists while he was attending a family wedding. His bullet-ridden body was found the next day.

    Ummer Fayaz, 22, was a Lieutenant of the Rajputana Rifles and had joined the army five months ago.

Business Affairs

Trump administration intent on revoking H-4 rule for spouses of H-1B visa holders
  • The Trump administration has reconfirmed its intent to rescind H-4 rule regarding employment authorisation to certain spouses of H-1B visas, popular among Indian IT professionals.

    The move will have a major impact on Indian-American women as they are the major beneficiary of the Obama-era rule.

    "Removing H-4 Dependent Spouses From the Class of Aliens Eligible for Employment Authorization," said the Department of Homeland Security's Unified Agenda in the federal register notification of its semi-annual regulatory agenda.

    As per the notification published Monday, the Department of Homeland Security is proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation.

    It was in February 2015 that it had published a final rule extending eligibility for employment authorisation to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B non-immigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status.

    The federal register notification said that the notice of proposed rulemaking or NPRM would be published in June.

    However, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) insisted that "No decision about H-4 visas is final until" the rulemaking process is completed.

    USCIS will alert the public when the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) has been posted for public comment.

    An NPRM is posted for public comment and after comments have been considered USCIS will post the final rule, a USCIS official told PTI requesting anonymity.

    "The agency is considering a number of policy and regulatory changes to carry out the President's Buy American, Hire American Executive Order, including a thorough review of employment-based visa programmes," Michael Bars, USCIS Spokesperson told PTI.

    "USCIS is focused on safeguarding the integrity of our immigration system and ensuring its faithful execution so that the wages and working conditions of US workers are protected," he said.

    "USCIS is committed to reforming employment-based immigration programmes so they benefit the American people to the greatest extent possible," Bars said.

    Meanwhile, scores of Indian-Americans who have been waiting for years to get their Green Card met Congressman Paul Tonko in Albany, New York to press for an early reform of the Green Card backlog and not to rescind H-4 rule on employment authorisation.

    Activist Renuka Rajkumar addressed the gathering about the impact of revoking employment permits for spouses who have been waiting on green cards for a long time.

    In her speech, she recalled despairing for a decade before she was afforded the opportunity to work.

    In spite of her higher education and prior professional experience, it took her almost a year to find a job in her chosen profession.

    Hardik Chirra spoke passionately about the challenges faced by Children on H-4 dependent visas.

    Hardik, a 10th grader who has been studying in Albany schools for the last decade spoke about the challenges faced in college admissions, anxiety about having to self-deport, leaving his family behind when he turns 21.

ICICI Bank drags Punj Lloyd to NCLT for insolvency over non-payment of Rs 825-crore loan
  • Private lender ICICI Bank has dragged infrastructure major Punj Lloyd to National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) seeking insolvency proceedings against the company under Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). Punj Lloyd reportedly owes Rs 825 crore to ICICI Bank, the non-payment of which led to the development.

    In a response to a clarification sought by the Bombay Stock Exchange in the matter, Punj Lloyd confirmed that ICICI Bank has dragged the company to the Tribunal. "We would like to inform you that ICICI Bank Limited (ICICI) has filed an application before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) under Section 7 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code," the company stated in a regulatory filing.

    However, Punj Lloyd also mentioned that the 90 per cent of the lenders are in favour of the resolution plan proposed by the company and will oppose ICICI Bank's appeal before the NCLT. In its Q4 financial report, Punj Lloyd, as part of its financial restructuring towards paring debt and strengthening balance sheet, had submitted a proposal to its lenders for restructuring its debt.

    "We would further like to inform that in a meeting of the Lenders of the Company held on June 13, 2018, more than 90 per cent of the lenders have, consequent to the receipt of the required rating criteria by the Company, agreed to support a Resolution Plan under the Leadership of State Bank of India (SBI) for restructuring the outstanding debts of the Company. It was also decided that SBI on behalf of all Lenders shall oppose ICICI application at NCLT. The restructuring proposal is currently being reviewed by the lenders as per the latest RBI guidelines," the company said in the BSE filing.

    The restructuring proposal is currently being reviewed by the lenders as per the latest RBI guidelines. SBI has reportedly opposed the insolvency proceedings on the ground that the mandatory period of 180 days to resolve the debt issue, as mandated by RBI norms, is not over yet.

    The application by ICICI Bank was taken up for hearing by the NCLT on Thursday. During the hearing, counsels representing Punj Lloyd and SBI informed the tribunal that most of the lenders are in favour of restructuring of company's debt, the company further mentioned in the regulatory filing. The tribunal has now asked Punj Lloyd and SBI to file the necessary reply or application in this case. The next hearing will take place on July 24.

    "In view of the above, the company is of the view that the application filed by ICICI may not be admitted by the NCL T since more than 90% of the Lenders of the Company are in favour of restructuring the debts," the filing by Punj Lloyd said.

    Meanwhile, ICICI Bank has also initiated forensic audit against Punj Lloyd after taking the company to the NCLT, a report by The Economic Times said. The bank will be taking the services of TS Chadha of the Chadha & Co as the forensic auditor in the matter.

Petrol, diesel prices level out after a fortnight's decline, remain unchanged for second day
  • After declining for a fortnight, petrol and diesel prices have hit a pause button with rates remaining unchanged for the second consecutive day today. Petrol and diesel price were last revised on June 12 when they were cut by 15 paise and 10 paisa a litre, respectively. Rates have remained unchanged since then, according to a review of price notifications issued by state fuel retailers. Petrol costs Rs 76.43 per litre in Delhi and diesel is priced at Rs 67.85 a litre. Prices in Delhi are the lowest among all metro cities and most state capitals due to lower sales tax or VAT.

    After hitting an all-time high of Rs 78.43 a litre for petrol and Rs 69.31 for diesel on May 29, rates have been cut on 14 occasions thereafter as international oil prices softened and the rupee strengthened against the US dollar.

    Petrol price has dropped by Rs 2 a litre and diesel by Rs 1.46. This compares to Rs 3.8 a litre hike in petrol and Rs 3.38 a litre hike in diesel rates in Delhi in the fortnight beginning May 14 when state-owned oil firms ended a 19-day pre-Karnataka poll hiatus to resume daily price revision.

    Retail prices are still higher than the peak touched during the previous UPA regime. Petrol had touched Rs 76.06 on September 14, 2013. The peak price for diesel during previous UPA government was hit on May 13, 2014, when rates touched Rs 56.71 a litre.

    Since January 1, 2018, petrol prices have risen by Rs 6.46 a litre and diesel by Rs 8.21. Petrol price in Delhi was Rs 71.41 a litre and diesel was priced at Rs 56.71 when the present BJP-government took office.

    The government had deregulated or freed petrol pricing from its control in June 2010 and diesel in October 2014. It allowed revision of prices on a daily basis since mid-June last year to reflect changes in cost instantly.

    The government at the centre had raised excise duty on petrol by Rs 11.77 a litre and that on diesel by Rs 13.47 a litre in nine instalments between November 2014 and January 2016 to shore up finances as global oil prices fell, but then cut the tax just once in October last year by Rs 2 a litre.

    Only four states -- Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh -- reduced VAT following the October 3, 2017 cut in excise duty. This month, Kerala cut VAT by Re 1 a litre.

AirAsia bribe case: Days after CBI visit at its office, Tata Trusts affirms support to Venkataramanan
  • About two weeks after the CBI raided the office of Tata Trusts' overall head R Venkataramanan, a combined meeting of the trustees of the Tata Trusts was held on Thursday to discuss the issues arising from the investigations being carried out by the ED and the CBI in a bribery case against AirAsia India.

    Slamming reports in media, the trust said its office was not raided but visited as part the ongoing investigation related to AirAsia India. Tata Sons Limited owns 49 per cent stake in Air Asia India Limited, while the rest is held by Malaysia-based airline AirAsia Berhad.

    On May 29, the CBI filed an FIR accusing AirAsia India, its officials as well as AirAsia Berhad, of trying to manipulate government policies through corrupt means in order to bag an international licence for the domestic airline. The FIR named Group CEO of AirAsia Tony Fernandes, Tharumalingam Kanagalingam, former Deputy Group CEO of Malaysia-based AirAsia Berhad, Venkataramanan, among several others.

    Meanwhile, the trustees categorically reiterated that the ongoing investigations have nothing whatsoever to do with the affairs of any of the Tata Trusts, and said documents relating to the trusts were neither seen nor called for by the investigators.

    In a statement, Tata Trusts clarified the office of Venkataramanan, in his capacity as a Non-Executive Director and a nominee of Tata Sons on the Board of AirAsia India was visited by the authorities, not raided as reported by a section of media. The trust said the agency sought clarifications on some papers relating to Air Asia India, some of which were seized.

    Expressing concern that "inaccurate and mischievous" reports were carried by some media entities to give an impression the Tata Trusts' offices were raided, the trustees reaffirmed their continued support to Venkataramanan.

    The accused allegedly bribed government officials to secure the international flying permit for AirAsia India at a time when the 5/20 rule was in place, which mandated airlines to have five years of experience as well as a minimum 20 aircraft-fleet to be eligible to fly on international routes.

    In 2016, this rule was partially eased as part of the new aviation policy, paving way for domestic airlines to fly overseas provided they deploy 20 planes or 20 per cent of their total capacity for domestic operations with no limit on years in operation. The eased norms benefited AirAsia India and Vistara, both partly owned by the Tata Group.

Pre-GST goods with revised price stickers now could be sold till July 31
  • Sale of pre-GST packaged goods has now been allowed with stickers of revised rates till July 31, the government today said.

    After implementing GST from July 1, 2017, the government had allowed use of stickers with revised rates, alongside the printed MRP for pre-packaged items to reflect changes in selling price for three months till September 30. The deadline has been extended several time and the latest was April 30.

    In a latest order, the consumer affairs ministry said the deadline has been extended till July 31 on request made by manufacturers, packers and importers.

    The details such as 'country of origin' should be mandatorily declared along with other declarations, including 'best before use' or 'use by date or expiry date' required under the rules, the ministry added.

    The unsold items had an MRP which included all taxes of pre-GST era but with the implementation of new regime, some of the final retail prices have undergone change due to increase or decrease in tax incidence.

    General Awareness

    Nalanda University
    • Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for withdrawal of Nalanda University (Amendment) Bill, 2013 pending in the Rajya Sabha.


      The Nalanda University was established on the basis of a Joint Press Statement at the 4th East Asia Summit held in Thailand in October, 2009, which supported its establishment as a non-state, non-profit, secular and self-governing international institution. Subsequently, the Nalanda University Act, 2010 was passed by the Parliament and came into effect from 25thNovember 2010.

      Highlights of Nalanda University (Amendment) Bill, 2013:

      It establishes Nalanda University in Bihar as a result of decisions taken at the East Asia Summits.
      Under the Act, the University is a non-profit public-private partnership, supported by each member country as well as other sources. The Bill amends the Act to provide for the Government of India to meet the university’s capital and recurring expenditure to the extent required.
      The powers of the University are amended to include the power to set up a consortium of international partners to meet the objectives of the University, and appoint persons working in any other University or academic institution, including those located outside India, as faculty of the University.
      The size of the Governing Board of the University is being increased to include two persons of eminence and two members from the academic faculty of the University. The Bill also makes provision for the appointment of Deans and Provosts.

      Key facts:

      Nalanda stands out as the most ancient university of the Indian Subcontinent. It engaged in the organized transmission of knowledge over an uninterrupted period of 800 years.
      The historical development of the site testifies to the development of Buddhism into a religion and the flourishing of monastic and educational traditions.
      It was a major Mahavihara or a large Buddhist monastery that also doubled up as an important centre of learning from the 5th to 1200 AD in the erstwhile kingdom of Magadh.
      The construction of Nalanda university began in 5th century AD and flourished under the Gupta rulers. It came to an end in the 12th century when it was destroyed in 1193 AD by the invading Turkish army led by its commander Bakhtiar Khilji.
      UNESCO has declared Bihar’s much awaited ancient site – the ruins of Nalanda Mahavihara – a World Heritage Site.

      What’s Important?

      For Prelims and Mains: Nalanda Mahavihara- Historical importance, Highlights of the Bill.

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