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Current Affairs - 11 July 2018

General Affairs 

5 New Languages For Rajya Sabha Members To Speak In The House
  • From the forthcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament, Rajya Sabha MPs will be able to speak in the House in any of the 22 Indian languages listed in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said today.
    The Rajya Sabha Secretariat has arranged for simultaneous interpretation facility for five more languages - Dogri, Kashmiri, Konkani, Santhali and Sindhi.

    Mr Naidu formally inducted the interpreters for these languages today.

    Of the 22 scheduled languages, Rajya Sabha has earlier established Simultaneous Interpretation Service for 12 languages -- Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.

    For five languages - Bodo, Maithili, Manipuri, Marathi and Nepali, interpreters of Lok Sabha are being deployed.

    Mr Naidu said: "I have always felt that mother tongue is the natural medium to convey our feelings and thoughts without any retention. In a multilingual setting such as Parliament, members must not feel handicapped or inferior to others due to language constraints."

    "That's why I was keen to have simultaneous interpretation facility for all the 22 Scheduled languages. I am glad this is becoming a reality from the coming Monsoon Session," he added.

    An official said that the Rajya Sabha Secretariat has made "special efforts" to identify, select and train interpreters in these five languages and took help of various universities and missions of the states in New Delhi.

Railway Ministry Set To Launch Shri Ramayana Express From November 14
  • The Railways will run a unique pilgrim train, Shri Ramayana Express, from November 14 on the Ramayana circuit to cover the major destinations related to the Hindu epic, the Railway Ministry announced today.
    According to the Ministry, the Indian Rail Tourism and Catering Corp (IRCTC) will run the 800-seater train from Delhi Safdarjung railway station. The train will complete its journey till Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, in 16 days.

    "The train will cover all important destinations associated with the life of Lord Shri Ram in a 16-day all inclusive tour package," it said. This will be spread both in India as well as Sri Lanka. 

    The tour package will cover all meals, accommodation and wash and change facilities in dharmashalas, all transfers, sight-seeing arrangements and dedicated tour manager of IRCTC who will be travelling with the tourists during the entire tour. 

    The Ministry said the "Shri Ramayana Yatra-Sri Lanka" pilgrimage will have two components - one each in India and Sri Lanka. 

    "After leaving Delhi, the train will make its first stop in Ayodhya followed by Hanuman Garhi Ramkot and Kanak Bhawan temple. The train will then cover the important destinations of Ramayana circuit such as Nandigram, Sitamarhi, Janakpur, Varanasi, Prayag, Shringverpur, Chitrakoot, Nasik, Hampi and Rameshwaram," it said. 

    The Sri Lanka leg of the tour will be charged separately. The passengers opting for the Sri Lanka leg can take a flight to Colombo from Chennai. 

    IRCTC presently offers five-night/six-day Sri Lanka tour package at a cost starting from Rs. 47,600 per person. 

    The tour package will cover destinations like Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Colombo and Negombo in Sri Lanka.

    Meanwhile, IRCTC is also operating an AC Tourist Train from August 28 to September 9 on the Ramayana Circuit from Trivandrum offering an all inclusive tour package starting from Rs. 39,800 covering Panchavati, Chitrakoot, Shringverpur, Tulsi Manas Mandir, Darbhanga, Sita Marhi, Ayodhya and Rameshwaram. 

On Twitter, PM Modi Most 2nd Influential World Leader After Trump: Survey
  • With over 42 million followers on his personal Twitter account, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is behind US President Donald Trump (52 million) and Pope Francis (47 million) but in terms of influence on the micro-blogging site, PM Modi is the second most important world leader, a global study said today.
    With over 11 million followers, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is not only the most followed female world leader but also the most followed foreign minister in the world, according to the 2018 "Twiplomacy" study by BCW -- a global communications agency.

    The study analysed the activity of 951 Twitter accounts of heads of state and government and foreign ministers for a year -- from May 2017 to May 2018 -- using aggregate data from Crowdtangle.com, a content discovery and social monitoring platform.

    While PM Modi currently has 43.4 million followers on Twitter, Donald Trump has 53.4 million while Ms Swaraj has 11.8 million followers.

    Donald Trump became the most followed world leader in October 2017 when he passed Pope Francis (@Pontifex) who is the second most followed world leader with more than 47 million followers on his nine language accounts.

    Trump's followers on his @realDonaldTrump account has more than doubled since taking office on January 20, 2017.

    Tweets from the US President generated 264 million interactions (likes and retweets) over the past 12 months, more than five times as many as PM Modi, with 52 million interactions, and 12 times as many as Pope Francis''s tweets which generated 22 million interactions, the study showed.

    As of May 18, 2018, the heads of state and government and foreign ministers of 187 countries had a presence on Twitter, representing 97 per cent of all 193 UN member states, the findings showed.

    The governments of only six countries, namely Laos, Mauritania, Nicaragua, North Korea, Swaziland and Turkmenistan do not have an official presence on the platform, the study said.

    Facebook is the second-most popular network among government leaders, and it is where they have the biggest audience, according to the study.

YouTube To Invest $25 Million In Countering Fake News
  • Google-owned video-sharing platform YouTube has announced it will invest $25 million to fight fake news -- especially for the urgent coverage of breaking news -- on its platform for over 1.8 billion monthly active users.
    The investment will be part of the Google News Initiative (GNI), first introduced in March by the tech giant, to help the media and to deal with fake news.

    "We''re establishing a working group with news organisations and experts from around the world to help us develop new product features, improve the news experience on YouTube and tackle emerging challenges," said Neal Mohan, Chief Product Officer at YouTube, in a blog post late on Monday.

    "News organisations including Vox Media, Jovem Pan and India Today are early members of the working group. We''re looking forward to having more join as we convene the group in the coming weeks," added Robert Kyncl, Chief Business Officer.

    Beginning in the coming weeks, when YouTube users in the US search for videos on breaking news, they will see short excerpts of the news as well as the links to different media.

    In addition, YouTube will provide links to Wikipedia or the Encyclopedia Britannica with controversial videos or conspiratorial issues such as the Moon landing.

    "We remain committed to working with the journalism community to build a more sustainable video ecosystem for news organisations," the post read.

    To make it easier to find quality news, YouTube has launched "Top News" shelf that highlights videos from news sources in search results.

    When a breaking news event happens, another new feature called "Breaking News" shelf will highlight videos from news organisations about that event directly on the YouTube homepage.

    The "Top News" and "Breaking News" features have been launched in 17 countries, including in India.

    Mohan and Kyncl admitted that "there is a lot of work to do", but underlined that they will try to "provide a better experience to users who come to YouTube every day to learn more about what is happening in the world from a diversity of sources".

    "We will provide funding across approximately 20 global markets to support news organisations in building sustainable video operations," the blog post added.

Indians Most Stressed Globally On Work, Financial Issues: Survey
  • Stress levels are the highest in the country with 89 per cent of survey respondents claiming they suffer from stress on issues such as finances, work, among others, compared with the global average of 86 per cent.
    This makes India lead the pack of nations that suffer the worst from everyday stress. In comparison people from other developed and emerging countries including the US, Britain, Germany, France, China, Brazil and Indonesia feel much less stressed, said a survey by Cigna TTK Health Insurance.

    In addition, one in eight Indians have serious trouble in dealing with stress, with the millennials suffering more than other groups.

    What more, nearly, 75 per cent of the respondents in the country do not feel comfortable talking to a medical professional about their stress, with consultation cost being one of the biggest barriers.

    The survey, involving nearly 14,500 people in 23 countries, explores people's perceptions and concerns on health and their sense of well-being across five key areas - physical, family, social, financial and work.

    Workplace wellness has emerged as a key theme with 87 per cent of the respondents feeling that workplace wellness programmes are important in choosing between two potential employers.

    The findings show that one in two respondents plan to finance their medical expenses from their savings in old age, followed by insurance. Four in 10 Indians have purchased health insurance for themselves.

    Almost 90 per cent of those surveyed are open to sharing their healthcare data, as they see the benefits for better treatment and lower costs.

Business Affairs

Andhra Pradesh Ranked No. 1 In 'Ease Of Doing Business', Delhi No. 23
  • Andhra Pradesh has topped a list of states in the new Ease of Doing Business rankings, released by the government today. Andhra Pradesh's neighbour Telangana, also the country's newest state, has been ranked number two in the list.
    Haryana and Jharkhand have moved up three slots each, to be ranked third and fourth in the state rankings. Gujarat has slid two slots to the fifth position. The other states that make up the top nine, described as the top achievers, are Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan.

    States have been ranked on how well they have implemented 405 business reforms initiatives identified by the centre and the feedback from businesses.

    "This time we have taken feedback from industry to see whether the reforms are percolated to the ground level," Ramesh Abhishek, secretary of the department of industrial policy and promotion said.
    Next year, he said, states would only be evaluated based on feedback from the industry.

    "A large number of states have made significant progress in reforms suggested in BRAP 2017," the government said.

    Delhi wasn't one of them.

    It has slipped four slots from the 19 to 23 rank, with 32 per cent marks.

    Uttar Pradesh (93 per cent), Bihar (82 per cent) and militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir (33 per cent) had scored better than Delhi with 32 per cent marks.

    The national capital scored 121 hits on the reform scorecard and was slipped up on 235 initiatives. The city government had reported 34 per cent compliance of the reforms. But the surveyed businesses said the city government, which has been engaged in a tug-of-war with the Lieutenant Governor for three years, had done much less.

    17 states have achieved a reform evidence score of more than 90 per cent and 15 have achieved a combined score of 90 per cent and more.

    "The states which have achieved 80 per cent or more reforms evidence score represent 84 per cent of the country's area, 90 per cent of the country's population and 79 per cent of India's GDP," the government said.

Axis Bank shortlists 3 candidates to succeed CEO Shikha Sharma
  • Axis Bank on Tuesday said it has shortlisted three candidates to succeed the MD & CEO Shikha Sharma, whose term is due to expire in December this year. The bank, however, did not disclose names of the candidates shortlisted for the post.

    In terms of extant RBI norms and the succession planning process of the bank, the Board of Directors of the bank at its meeting held on July 9, 2018, has recommended the names of three candidates, in order of preference, for the approval of the RBI, Axis Bank said in a regulatory filing.

    "The candidate as approved by the RBI, will succeed Shikha Sharma, whose term as the Managing Director & CEO of the Bank, is due to expire on December 31, 2018," the bank said.

    Axis Bank will be submitting its application in respect of the recommendations relating to the said appointment, for the approval of the RBI, it added further. Earlier in April, the bank CEO had wanted her new term to be reduced to seven months from three-year tenure, which was accepted by the bank board subsequently.

    Sharma had completed her third term as MD and CEO of Axis Bank on May 31. However, she had not intimated the reason for an early exit from the bank. The bank board had decided to reappoint her as the MD&CEO for a period of three years with effect from June 1, 2018.

How can Jio Institute which does not exist be selected as 'Institution of Eminence'? Govt explains!
  • Reliance Foundation's Jio Institute is among the six colleges that have been selected as Institutions of Eminence - a status that will ensure complete autonomy and facilitate them to make a mark in global rankings. Apart from Jio - which is yet to established, other five institutions are Indian Institute of Science- Bangalore, IIT-Bombay, IIT-Delhi, Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences (known as BITS-Pilani) and Manipal Academy of Higher Education. All these institutions are running and running well. But, why Jio Institute, which does not even exist, in the list? This is the question that many people and academicians are asking ever since the government announced its decision.     

    A professor from IISc-Bangalore in a tweet asked, "How did @PrakashJavdekar evaluate this Jio Institute to decide it was better than IIT M or IIT KGP or so many other Institutions? How can an Institution that is in the process of being set up be declared Institution of Eminence? What are we missing here?" The professor echoed the sentiments of lakhs of people who are expressing their anger over the decision on the micro blogging site.  

    Sensing the anger, the Ministry of Human Resource Development today came out with an explanation on how Jio Institute was accorded such coveted status despite having no physical infrastructure in place.  According to the government, Jio Institute has been given this tag under Greenfield Project - purpose of which is to allow responsible private investment to build global class educational infrastructure. There were four parameters on which all applications were judged.

    The parameters were: (a) availability of land for construction of the institution, (b) putting in place a core team with very high qualification and wide experience, (c)making available funding for setting up the institution and (d) a strategic vision plan with clear annual milestone and action plan. "The Committee (selection committee) has come to a conclusion that out of the 11 applications, only Jio Institute satisfied all the four parameters, and hence was recommended for issuing a letter of intent for setting up an Institute of Eminence," the HRD Ministry said. The Ministry also clarified that the private institutions under the project will not get funding from the government. This is significant as public institution selected under IoEs will get financial assistance up to Rs 1000 crore over the period of five years.

    The Ministry had received 114 applications - 74 from public sector and 40 from private sector - for selection of IoEs.

    The government expects that the selected Institutions will come up in top 500 of the world ranking in 10 years and in top 100 of the world ranking eventually overtime - so far, no Indian university have figured in the top 100 best universities in the World University Ranking.

    Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech 2016 had announced that the government was committed to empower higher educational institutions to help them become world class teaching and research institutions. "An enabling regulatory architecture will be provided to ten public and ten private institutions to emerge as world-class Teaching and Research Institutions. This will enhance affordable access to high quality education for ordinary Indians," he had said.

    Ministry of Human Resource Development in a statement issued on Monday said that to achieve the top world ranking, these selected Institutions will have autonomy to admit foreign students up to 30 per cent of admitted students and to recruit foreign faculty upto 25 per cent of faculty strength. These institutions can offer online courses upto 20 per cent of its programmes and enter into academic collaboration with top 500 in the world ranking Institutions without permission of UGC. Not only that, these institutions are free to fix and charge fees from foreign students without restriction.

    The government had initially planned to upgrade 20 institutions - 10 from public sector and 10 from private sector - as world class teaching and research institutions called as Institutions of Eminence. However, an empowered expert committee headed by former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami recommended selection of only six institutions.

Sensex rises 304 points, Nifty closes at 10,947; Reliance, YES Bank, Coal India top gainers
  • The market rose for the third straight day on optimism over corporate earnings in the first quarter and positive global cues. While the Sensex rallied about 305 points to end at an over 5-month high of 36,239, Nifty rose 94 points to 10,947 level. The Sensex has now gained 665 points in three sessions. The benchmark is just a tad lower from its all-time high of 36,283 hit on January 29 this year.

    The Sensex and Nifty remained above their key levels of 36,000 and 10,900 throughout the session, indicating robust investor optimism after a prolonged lacklustre spell.

    "Most of the gains can be attributed to markets doing well globally. There may be some impact from weakening of the dollar as that may lead to some money coming back to emerging markets," Neeraj Dewan, Director at Quantum Securities said, adding that the market is expecting a good earnings season this quarter.

    "Crude concerns, however, linger on."

    Reliance Industries (3.02%), YES Bank (2.58%) and Coal India (2.56%)  were the top Sensex gainers.

    The Reliance Industries stock was the top Sensex gainer after international brokerages gave a thumbs up on the prospects of the stock. The stock closed 30.10 points higher at 1025.75 level becoming the top gainer on Sensex.  It opened at 1001 level and hit an intra day high of 1028.50 in trade.

    Market breadth was positive with 1676 stocks closing higher compared with 962 ending in the red on BSE.

    VK Sharma, Head, Private Client Group and Capital Market Strategy at HDFC Securities said, " The Nifty registered another gap up as it closed with gains of 94 points or  0.87%  to close at 10, 947, a level not seen by the benchmark in 5 months. The Nifty is now just 183 points or 1.8% from its all-time closing peak of 11,130 registered on 29th of January, earlier this year.

    The only obstacle standing between the Nifty and its all-time high is Crude Oil. If Crude Oil does not go up, we could have a new high in this series itself."

    The BSE midcap and small cap indices clocked 1.01% and 1.04% gains, fuelling rise on benchmark indices.

    Auto and metal stocks led the gains with BSE bankex and BSE metal indices rising over 200 points each.

    Of 19 BSE sectoral indices, 18 ended higher. BSE healthcare sector falling 20 points was the sole loser among the indices.

    Deepak Parekh-led financial services conglomerate HDFC group saw the market capitalisation of its listed firms cross Rs 10 lakh crore mark, making it only the second Indian business house after Tatas to achieve this feat.

    Shares of HDFC Bank rose by 1.31 per cent to close at Rs 2,149, HDFC 1.54 per cent to Rs 1,939.20, HDFC Standard Life 0.51 per cent to Rs 476.70 while Gruh Finance fell by 0.96 per cent to Rs 341.35 on the BSE.

    Domestic institutional investors (DIIs) picked up shares worth a net Rs 740.39 crore on Monday, while foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) offloaded equities to the tune of Rs 569.91 crore, provisional data showed.

    Global markets

    World markets were mostly higher on Tuesday, trading in a narrow range, as positive economic data from Britain and beyond soothed jitters over the resignation of two of its top ministers over Brexit.

    France's CAC 40 rose 0.3 percent to 5,412.82, while Germany's DAX shed less than 0.1 percent to 12,540.15 in early trading.

    Britain's FTSE 100 edged 0.1 percent higher to 7,695.04. Major US indexes were set to open higher. Dow futures added 0.1 percent to 24,804.00. S&P 500 futures gained 0.1 percent to 2,789.20. The S&P 500 index has climbed at least 0.8 percent for the third straight day.

    Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.7 percent to 22,196.89 and South Korea's Kospi gained 0.4 percent to 2,294.16. The Shanghai Composite index finished 0.4 percent higher at 2,827.63. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dipped less than 0.1 percent to 28,682.25. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.4 percent to 6,258.10. Shares rose in Taiwan and were mostly higher in Southeast Asia.

TCS' net profit jumps 23% to Rs 7,340 crore in June quarter
  • IT major Tata Consultancy Services Ltd's net profit rose 6.3 per cent sequentially while 23.5 per cent on YoY basis to Rs 7,340 crore in its first quarterly results declared to stock exchanges on Tuesday. The company's net profit in the same period in the previous fiscal stood at Rs 5,945 crore, the TCS said.

    India's biggest IT company, TCS, reported the total revenue of Rs 34,261 crore, which is 6.8 per cent up sequentially and 15.8 per cent compared to the corresponding quarter last year. The company's profit before taxes and other income rose 5.3 per cent to Rs 8,578 crore sequentially, while 24.06 per cent compared to the corresponding month last year. The company's operating margin stood at 25 per cent.

    TCS said its board has declared an Interim Dividend of Rs 4 per equity share of Re 1 each of the company. "The Interim Dividend shall be paid to the equity shareholders of the company whose names appear on the register of members of the company or in the records of the depositories of the beneficial owners of the shares as on July 18," said the company.

    Commenting on the Q1 performance, TCS CEO Rajesh Gopinathan said the company is starting the new fiscal year on a strong note. "With a good set of wins during the quarter, a robust deal pipeline and accelerating digital demand, we are positioned well for the future," said Gopinathan.

    In Q4 of the previous fiscal, TCS reported a 4.48 per cent year-on-year (YoY) rise in consolidated net profit at Rs 6,904 crore for the March quarter. The country's biggest software services exporter reported a revenue growth of 8.2 per cent (YoY). Its FY18, Q4 revenue came at Rs 32,075 crore.

    Meanwhile, the TCS share that was trading at Rs 1,897.50 at 9.40am on Tuesday closed .6 per cent lower at Rs 1,883 ahead of the quarterly result announcement later in the day.

    Other highlights of TCS' Q1 results

    BFSI (Banking, Financial Services and Insurance) verticals growth accelerates 4.1 per cent YoY and 3.7 per cent QoQ.
    North America rebounds on BFSI and Retail recovery at 7 per cent YoY and 3.7 per cent QoQ.
    Digital revenue stands at 25 per cent, up 44.8 per cent Y-o-Y.
    Two new clients in $100million+ band, 13 clients added in $5million+ band sequentially.
    The company's total employees stood at 400,875 in 46 countries by the quarter end; and the IT services attrition rate at 10.9 per cent in the past one year.

General Awareness

    ‘Institutions of Eminence’
    • Context: Government declares 6 educational ‘Institutions of Eminence’; 3 Institutions from Public Sector and 3 from Private Sector shortlisted.

      The institutions selected are:

      Public Sector: (i) Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Karnataka; (ii) Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Maharashtra; and (iii) Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

      Private Sector: (i) Jio Institute (Reliance Foundation), Pune under Green Field Category; (ii) Birla Institute of Technology & Sciences, Pilani, Rajasthan; and (iii) Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka.

      Implications of the decision:

      Each ‘Public Institution’ selected as ‘Institution of Eminence’ will get financial assistance up to Rs. 1000 Crore over a period of five years.
      These Institutions shall be provided with greater autonomy to admit foreign students up to 30% of admitted students; to recruit foreign faculty upto 25% of faculty strength; to offer online courses upto 20% of its programmes.
      They will also be allowed to enter into academic collaboration with top 500 in the world ranking Institutions without permission of UGC; free to fix and charge fees from foreign students without restriction; complete flexibility in fixing of curriculum and syllabus, among others.
      At the same time, they will get more opportunity to scale up their operations with more skills and quality improvement so that they become World Class Institutions in the field of education.

      Need for world-class institutes:

      India lacks world-class universities according to international rankings, and Indian academics, compared internationally, are rather poorly paid. Students also suffer an immense shortage of places in top academic institutions and throughout the higher education system. India today educates only half as many young people from the university age group as China and ranks well behind most Latin American and other middle-income countries.

      Way ahead:

      If India is to succeed as a great technological power with a knowledge-based economy, world-class universities are required. The first step, however, is to examine the problems and create realistic solutions. Spending large sums scattershot will not work. Nor will copying the American academic model succeed.

      Facts for Prelims:

      N Gopalaswami committee was constituted to select 20 institutes of higher education in India that will be developed into “world-class” institutes.

      Institutions of Eminence scheme:

      The institutes of eminence scheme under the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry aims to project Indian institutes to global recognition.
      The 20 selected institutes will enjoy complete academic and administrative autonomy.
      The government will run 10 of these and they will receive special funding.
      The selection shall be made through challenge method mode by the Empowered Expert Committee constituted for the purpose.
      Only higher education institutions currently placed in the top 500 of global rankings or top 50 of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) are eligible to apply for the eminence tag.
      The private Institutions of Eminence can also come up as greenfield ventures provided the sponsoring organisation submits a convincing perspective plan for 15 years.

      What’s important?

      For Prelims: Gopalaswami committee, Institutions of eminence scheme.
      For Mains: Need for world class institutes and challenges therein.

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