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Current Affairs - 27 July 2018

General Affairs 

Kargil Diwas: President, PM Lead Nation In Paying Tribute To Soldiers
  • President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in paying homage to the martyrs of Kargil on Kargil Vijay Diwas today.
    The day marks the victory of the Indian Armed Forces over Pakistan in the mountains of Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir and the success of India's 'Operation Vijay' in 1999.

    "On Kargil Vijay Diwas, every Indian acknowledges the efforts and gallantry of our Armed Forces. We salute the ultimate sacrifice of the martyrs of Kargil, and record our everlasting debt to their families," President Kovind said.

    @rashtrapatibhvn
     On Kargil Vijay Diwas, every Indian acknowledges the efforts and gallantry of our Armed Forces. We salute the ultimate sacrifice of the martyrs of Kargil, and record our everlasting debt to their families #PresidentKovind

    Vice President Naidu said he saluted the valour, courage and sacrifice of the brave jawans that resulted in a "spectacular victory for our country in the Kargil War in 1999".

    "Vijay Diwas helps in reminding our countrymen of the bravery of soldiers who are all the time alert in extremely difficult situations and environment in defence of our country and for the safety and security our lives," he tweeted.

    @VPSecretariat
     Vijay Diwas helps in reminding our countrymen of the bravery of soldiers who are all the time alert in extremely difficult situations and environment in defence of our country and for the safety and security our lives. #KargilVijayDiwas pic.twitter.com/0CUca1d9MI

    Prime Minister Modi too said that a grateful nation pays homage to all those who served the nation during 'Operation Vijay' and remembered former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for the leadership provided by him during the operation.

    "Our brave soldiers ensured that India remains protected and gave a befitting answer to those who tried to vitiate the atmosphere of peace. India will always remember with pride, the outstanding political leadership provided by Atal Ji during Operation Vijay. He led from the front, supported our armed forces and clearly articulated India's stand at the world stage," he said on Twitter.

    @narendramodi
     On #KargilVijayDiwas, a grateful nation pays homage to all those who served the nation during Operation Vijay. Our brave soldiers ensured that India remains protected and gave a befitting answer to those who tried to vitiate the atmosphere of peace.

    @narendramodi
     India will always remember with pride, the outstanding political leadership provided by Atal Ji during Operation Vijay. He led from the front, supported our armed forces and clearly articulated India’s stand at the world stage. #KargilVijayDiwas

    Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the three Service chiefs -- Army chief General Bipin Rawat, Naval chief Admiral Sunil Lanba and Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa -- laid wreaths and paid rich tributes to the martyrs on the 19th anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas at the Amar Jawan Jyoti in Delhi.

    "We salute all the bravehearts who proudly protect the nation," the defence minister said.

    Other ministers also paid tribute to the soldiers.

    Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, "On Kargil Vijay Diwas we salute the unflinching courage and supreme sacrifice of all those soldiers who fought valiantly in 1999. Every Indian citizen is proud of their heroism and service to the nation."

    External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj added that she saluted the "courage, valour and sacrifice of our martyrs and heroes".

    Union minister Arun Jaitley tweeted, "Salute to indomitable courage of our soldiers."

We'll Withdraw Support If Devendra Fadnavis Is Replaced: Independent MLA
  • Independent MLA Ravi Rana today warned that he and six other independent legislators supporting the BJP-led Maharashtra government would withdraw their support if Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is replaced.

    "We have heard that a section of the BJP is contemplating replacing the chief minister. Hence, we want to make our stand clear that our support is to Devendra Fadnavis and if he is replaced, we will withdraw our support to the BJP government," Mr Rana, MLA from Badnera in Amravati district, told news agency PTI.

    He said Mr Fadnavis alone was capable of providing reservation to Maratha and Dhangar communities. "(Devendra) Fadnavis is doing good work for the welfare and development of Maharashtra," Mr Rana said.

    He was referring to a Shiv Sena leader's statement yesterday that there were talks within the BJP to replace the chief minister.

    He said he was clarifying the stand of the group of independent MLAs as he had information that a section of the BJP was contemplating replacing the chief minister in the wake of the ongoing Maratha quota stir, which turned violent.

    In the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly, the ruling BJP has 122 members and has the support of three MLAs of Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, one member of Rashtriya Samaj Paksh, seven independents and the lone MNS legislator. With its 63 MLAs, the Shiv Sena is part of the government.

    Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut had yesterday claimed that there were "talks within the BJP" to replace Mr Fadnavis, in the backdrop of the violent Maratha quota agitation.

    "(BJP president) Amit Shah and (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi will take the final decision on changing the leadership in the state. But there is talk within BJP of changing the chief minister," Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut had told reporters in Mumbai.

    However, two senior BJP ministers have rubbished Mr Raut's claim, saying there was no talk within the BJP of replacing Mr Fadnavis.

    Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil had said there was no reason to replace the chief minister. "The CM is much more in favour of giving Marathas reservation than even I am," he had said.

    Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar had said there was no talk within the BJP of replacing Fadnavis. "All decisions in the party are taken collectively," he had said.

Jio Institute Not Declared 'Institution of Eminence': Prakash Javadekar
  • The government said today the 'Institution of Eminence' tag has not been bestowed on the Jio Institute, but only a letter of intent has been given subject to conditions.

    During Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, several members sought clarity on the criteria on the basis of which the prestigious title was conferred on select institutions.

    HRD minister Prakash Javadekar said a committee of experts had made the selections after a thorough scrutiny.

    Mr Javadekar categorically told the House that the Jio Institute has not been declared an 'Institution of Eminence'.

    He said the Jio Institute has only been recommended by a panel for a letter of intent, subject to certain conditions.

    The institutes which were chosen were Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.

    He said the Birla Institute of Technological Sciences, Pilani, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, and Jio Institute were recommended for issuance of letter of intent, the minister's reply said.

    When CPI leader D Raja sought to know why top performing institutions like the IIT Chennai or JNU were not included, Javadekar said a panel had carried out the scrutiny and the government had maintained an arm's length. Raja put up another supplementary question, but before Javadekar could reply, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said the questions should be directed through the chair.

    "The mantri (minister) need not respond just because the Raja (King) has asked," Mr Naidu commented in a lighter vein. Earlier replying to another question, Javadekar listed the steps taken to improve the condition of educational infrastructure in the country.

    An allocation of Rs. 75,000 crore over the period from April 1 this year to March 31, 2020 has been approved under the Samagra Shiksha scheme, which was 20 per cent more than the current allocations.

    He said the annual grant of Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 20,000 per school was approved for strengthening of libraries while the composite school grant has been raised from Rs. 25,000 to one lakh from Rs. 14,500 to 50,000.

    Annual grant for sports equipment was Rs. 5,000 for primary schools, Rs. 10,000 for upper primary and upto Rs. 25,000 for secondary and senior secondary schools, he said.

    Allocation for children with special needs was also increased, including a stipend of Rs. 200 per month for girls to be provided from class I to XII, he said, adding that the allotment for uniforms was enhanced from Rs. 400 to Rs. 600 per child per year.

JD(U) Demands Central Assistance For Bihar Farmers In The Rajya Sabha
  • The Janata Dal (United) today demanded central assistance to provide relief to farmers in Bihar who are facing problems in Kharif sowing due to deficient rains.

    "Bihar is facing a drought-like situation," said JD(U) MP Ramnath Thakur while raising the demand during Zero Hour in the Rajya Sabha.

    Highlighting the plight of farmers due to deficient rains, he said they are not able to sow crops and there is also a shortage of fodder for livestock.

    According to him, borewells have also been affected because of drop in water level in several parts of the state.

    He demanded that the Centre immediately send a team in Bihar to assess the situation and also provide financial assistance for providing relief.

    Congress member MV Rajeev Gowda demanded government intervention to end the strike called by truckers. He said transportation of goods was being affected due to the strike.

    Mr Gowda said the problem is due to problems in implementation of e-way bill under the GST.

    Ram Vichar Netam of BJP spoke about the problems faced by people in Chhattisgarh due to movement of elephants. He said 200 people have lost lives and thousands injured due to attack by elephants.

    Mr Netam said the present compensation of Rs. 2 lakh given to families of people killed in elephant attacks is too little and should be enhanced.

    Bhupender Yadav (BJP) highlighted the importance of water management in the wake of a recent report by Niti Aayog, while KG Kenye (NPF) raised the issue of supply of adulterated fish, vegetables and fruits in Nagaland.

    Besides 16 Zero Hour mentions, the House also took up 10 special mentions.

    As part of his special mention, Sukhram Singh Yadav (SP) demanded that the Azamgarh Railway Station be renamed after noted Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi.

    Vijila Sathyananth (AIADMK) made a demand to upgrade the ESIC Hospital at Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu to 100 beds from the current 50 and also fill up vacancies on water footings to ease problems faced by labourers.

    Prasanna Acharya (BJD) demanded establishment of a permanent bench of the Odisha High Court in western part of the state.

Under Bharatmala Project, 6,320 Km Roads Have Been Awarded: Nitin Gadkari
  • Projects for constructing 6,320 km of road have been awarded under the first phase of the Bharatmala project, with the financial implication estimated to be Rs. 1.44 lakh crore, the government said today.

    Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari also informed the Lok Sabha during Question Hour that the total investment for Bharatmala is expected to be around Rs. 7.50 lakh crore for constructing about 84,000 km of road.

    "Out of the total financial outlay of Rs. 5,35,000 crore allocated for Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase-I, projects with financial implication of approximately Rs. 1,44,300 crore for a length of about 6,320 km have been awarded," he said.

    The minister noted that these projects were awarded up to June 2018.

    Under the first phase, a total of 34,800 km of road, including 10,000 km of residual NHDP (National Highway Development Project) have been approved for development.

    The first phase of Bharatmala is to be implemented during the period from 2017-18 to 2021-22.

    "To achieve timely completion of Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase-I, the preparation of DPR (Detailed Project Report) and implementation of civil works is closely monitored at appropriate level," Mr Gadkari said.

    According to Mr Gadkari, a total length of 2,000 km for border and international connectivity roads as well as 2,000 km for coastal and port connectivity roads have been considered under the first phase.

    Bharatmala is a pan-nation scheme to improve the road network in the country.

Business Affairs

Bharti Airtel turns a surprise profit of Rs 97 crore in June quarter due to tax gains
  • Indian telecom conglomerate Bharti Airtel managed to defy street expectations and come out with a profit in the June quarter. After the slim profit the telecom major managed in the March quarter of the last fiscal, it seems to be finding its feet back in the competitive Indian telecom industry. Bharti Airtel posted a sequential rise of 17.37 per cent in its profit attributed to owners, which rose to Rs 97.3 crore for the quarter ended June 30, 2018. In the previous quarter, this figure stood at Rs 82.9 crore.

    This, however, is 74 per cent lower than the figure of Rs 367.7 core recorded during the corresponding quarter last fiscal. Deferred tax gains to the tune of Rs 1,844.3 crore that Bharti Airtel received in the current fiscal provided the nudge for the unexpected profit in the quarter under review, when most analysts were expecting a hefty loss.

    The consolidated profit for the period stood at Rs 479.06 crore. The consolidated revenue from operations of Bharti Airtel stood at Rs 20,080 crore in the June quarter of current fiscal, which is 2.2 per cent higher than 19,634.3 crore seen in the March quarter of fiscal year 2017-18. Operating profit for Bharti Airtel stood 2.9 per cent lower at Rs 6,725.8 crore in the June quarter, whereas the operating margins slipped 180 basis points to 33.5 per cent.

    "Consolidated EBITDA at Rs 6,837 crore declined 12.6 per cent Y-o-Y. Consolidated EBITDA margin decreased by 1.6 per cent to 34.0 per cent in the quarter as compared to 35.6 per cent in the corresponding quarter last year. Consolidated EBIT dropped by 43.8 per cent Y-o-Y to Rs 1,680 crore," Bharti Airtel said in a regulatory filing.

    In the June quarter, Bharti Airtel saw its standalone loss balloon to Rs 1,457.20 crore as opposed to Rs 760.2 crore in the previous quarter. The telecom giant had posted a standalone profit of Rs 280.6 crore in the corresponding quarter for the year before.

    "Industry pricing continues to remain untenable. However, led by our successful bundles, content partnerships and handset upgrade programs, our mobile data traffic surged 355 per cent on a Y-o-Y basis. Non-mobile portfolio also continues to witness healthy growth on back of investments in home passes and HD content," said Bharti Airtel's India MD and CEO Gopal Vittal.

    The Indian telecom giant also posted good numbers from its Africa businesses. Airtel Africa's net revenue grew by 16.6 per cent on a Y-o-Y basis. "Data traffic grew by 75 per cent, voice minutes increased by 44 per cent, and Airtel Money throughout grew by 43 per cent on a Y-o-Y basis. Consequently, EBITDA margin has expanded by 7.8 per cent Y-o-Y. Q1 EBITDA margin is 36.4 per cent," said Raghunath Mandava, MD and CEO, Bharti Airtel Africa.

    At the end of the day, the Bharti Airtel closed at 357.60-mark after climbing 5.75 points or 1.63 per cent before the Q1 results of the company were released.

Maruti Suzuki net profit up nearly 27% in June quarter
  • Maruti Suzuki India's (MSI) stock slumped over 4 per cent in just 40 minutes this afternoon, after the company announced its first quarter results since the numbers were lower than analysts' estimates. The stock closed at Rs 9,396.65 apiece on the BSE. Ironically, the country's largest carmaker has posted its highest profit growth in 18 months in the quarter under review.

    In a regulatory filing, MSI reported an impressive 26.91 per cent increase in standalone net profit to Rs 1,975.3 crore for the quarter ended June 30, up from Rs 1,556.4 crore in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal.

    The operating profit stood at Rs 2,631.3 crore, a growth of 59.7 per cent over Q1FY18 on account of higher sales volume, a favourable product mix and the company's cost reduction efforts, including lower advertisement expense. But it was partially offset by adverse commodity prices and forex rates.

    "While the operating profit increased by 59.7 per cent, the net profit increased by 26.9 per cent on account of lower non-operating income due to mark-to-market impact on the invested surplus, compared to last year," the company added in a statement.

    Its Q1 sales stood at Rs 21,810.7 crore, up from Rs 19,374.1 crore in the year-ago period. However, MSI said the two figures are not comparable as revenues from operation are reported net of GST since the implementation of the new tax regime in July 2017.

    The company also posted a strong growth in its vehicle sales. "The Company sold a total of 490,479 vehicles during the Quarter, a growth of 24.3 per cent over the same period of the previous year. Sales in the domestic market stood at 463,840 units, a growth of 25.9 per cent. Exports were at 26,639 units," the company said.

CBDT extends income tax return filing deadline to August 31
  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has extended the deadline of filing income tax returns from July 31 to August 31. The decision comes days before the deadline and provides relief to individuals who were required to file returns by the month end. In a couple of tweets, The finance ministry said, "Upon consideration of the matter, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) extends the 'Due Date' for filing of Income Tax Returns from 31st July, 2018 to 31st August, 2018 in respect of the said categories of taxpayers."

    "The Due Date for filing of Income Tax Returns for Assessment Year 2018-19 is 31.07.2018 for certain categories of taxpayers," the official handle of the ministry mentioned.

    @FinMinIndia
     Upon consideration of the matter, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) extends the ‘Due Date’ for filing of Income Tax Returns from 31st July, 2018 to 31st August, 2018 in respect of the said categories of taxpayers.

    @FinMinIndia
    Replying to @FinMinIndia
    The Due Date for filing of Income Tax Returns for Assessment Year 2018-19 is 31.07.2018 for certain categories of taxpayers.

    According to a new order applicable from 2018-19, individuals failing to meet the deadline will have to pay a penalty. As mentioned in the new section, 234F, added in the Income Tax Act, an individual would have to pay a penalty of Rs 1,000, Rs 5,000 or Rs 10,000 depending on when the returns are filed.

    If the income of the taxpayer is less than Rs 5,00,000 per year then the penalty will not amount to more than Rs 1,000. For the rest, if they miss the deadline for filing taxes for FY 2017-18 but file it by December 31, 2018, then they are liable to pay Rs 5,000 as penalty. However, if they file their taxes on or after January 1, 2019 then they will need to pay a fine of Rs 10,000.

Sensex scales 37,000 for the first time; Nifty at lifetime high of 11,172
  • The BSE Sensex has just set a new record - it crossed the 37000-mark earlier this morning for the first time. This is the 20th time that the Sensex has scaled a new peak this year. The Nifty also climbed 40.20 points to hit life-time high of 11,172, surpassing its previous intra-day record of 11,171.55 hit on January 29.

    Extending its record run for the fourth-day, the 30-share Sensex touched a new peak of 37026.18 today on widespread buying in capital goods, FMCG, realty and banking stocks amid heavy buying by domestic institutional investors and positive global cues.

    The Sensex, however, lost some ground and closed at 36,984.64. Factors like the strengthening rupee against the dollar, a normal monsoon so far, and short-covering of bets - since today is the last session of July expiry in the derivatives segment - also kept the overall market sentiment high.

    Moreover, according to analysts, strong liquidity in the market following unabated buying by domestic institutional investors (DIIs) and encouraging Q1 earnings by some companies has further lifted the mood. On a net basis, DIIs bought shares worth Rs 97.64 crore while foreign portfolio investors sold shares worth Rs 1,195.75 crore yesterday, going by provisional data.

    The local markets were also supported by gains in Asian stocks, which tracked climbing US shares courtesy positive developments on the trade front. Yesterday, US President Donald Trump announced that he had reached an agreement with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to work towards a "zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods" situation. This, in essence, means that a potential transatlantic trade war has been averted.

    The top gainers that helped Sensex scale its new peak were SBI, Bharti Airtel, Tata Motors, ITC, Coal India, L&T, ONGC, HDFC Bank, RIL, Maruti, M&M, Bajaj Auto, IndusInd Bank, Kotak Bank and HDFC, rising up to 1.79 per cent. On the other hand, Asian Paints, Hero MotoCorp, Wipro and Infosys were among the top losers, shedding up to 1 per cent.

    There's more good news in store. Sanjiv Bhasin, EVP-Markets & Corporate Affairs at IIFL, for one, sees Nifty hitting 15,000 by next year. "Globally, India is in a very sweet spot, most macros are turning positive as far as bonds, rupee and oil are concerned. Corporate results are very pleasing as well. Even though it is a narrow rally and people may have doubted and missed it by being in the wrong stocks, if you can sit through the volatility, in the next three months, midcaps should give very good returns. In the next three years, one could see 30 per cent growth and hence, the target by next year's Diwali for Nifty is at 15,000," he told Moneycontrol, adding, "The only caveat is the general elections next year, which could stall the markets for a while. That would largely be a knee-jerk reaction and hence the target of 15K is till Diwali."

Govt gives final nod to Vodafone-Idea merger; to be India's largest operator
  • The government today gave final approval to the mega merger of Vodafone and Idea Cellular which will create the country's largest mobile operator with 35 per cent market share and around 430 million subscribers.

    The move comes just days after Idea Cellular and Vodafone India made a joint payment of Rs 7,268.78 crore 'under protest' to the Department of Telecom (DoT) for merging their mobile businesses.

    A senior DoT official privy to the development said that the final approval has been accorded to the merger today and the entities will now approach Registrar of Companies (RoC) for stipulated filings for approval, completing the last leg of formalities.

    DoT gave conditional nod to the merger on July 9 and asked the two firms to meet the demand raised for taking the merger on record.

General Awareness

    100th year of Montford Reform
    • What to study?

      For Prelims and Mains: Features and significance of 1919 Act.

      Context: This month marks the 100th year of the publication of the ‘Report on Indian Constitutional Reforms’, commonly known as the Montagu-Chelmsford Report (MCR). Edwin Montagu was the Secretary of State for India. Lord Chelmsford was the Viceroy of India.

      Features of the Act:

      It relaxed the central control over the provinces by demarcating and separating the central and provincial subjects. The central and provincial legislatures were authorised to make laws on their respective list of subjects. However, the structure of government continued to be centralised and unitary.
      It further divided the provincial subjects into two parts—transferred and reserved. The transferred subjects were to be administered by the governor with the aid of ministers responsible to the legislative Council. The reserved subjects, on the other hand, were to be administered by the governor and his executive council without being responsible to the legislative Council. This dual scheme of governance was known as ‘dyarchy’—a term derived from the Greek word di-arche which means double rule. However, this experiment was largely unsuccessful.
      It introduced, for the first time, bicameralism. Thus, the Indian Legislative Council was replaced by a bicameral legislature consisting of an Upper House (Council of State) and a Lower House (Legislative Assembly). The majority of members of both the Houses were chosen by direct election.
      It required that the three of the six members of the Viceroy’s executive Council (other than the commander-in-chief) were to be Indian.
      It extended the principle of communal representation by providing separate electorates for Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians and Europeans. It granted franchise to a limited number of people on the basis of property, tax or education.
      It created a new office of the High Commissioner for India in London and transferred to him some of the functions hitherto performed by the Secretary of State for India.
      It provided for the establishment of a public service commission. Hence, a Central Public Service Commission was set up in 1926 for recruiting civil servants.
      It separated, for the first time, provincial budgets from the Central budget and authorised the provincial legislatures to enact their budgets.
      It provided for the appointment of a statutory commission to inquire into and report on its working after ten years of its coming into force.

      How was it received by Indians?

      The 1919 reforms did not satisfy political demands in India. The British repressed opposition, and restrictions on the press and on movement were re-enacted through the Rowlatt Acts introduced in 1919. The act allowed certain political cases to be tried without juries and permitted internment of suspects without trial.

      These measures were rammed through the Legislative Council with the unanimous opposition of the Indian members. Several members of the council including Jinnah resigned in protest. These measures were widely seen throughout India of the betrayal of strong support given by the population for the British war effort.

      Magna Carta of Modern India:

      The 1919 Act went on to become the basis for the Government of India Act, 1919 and 1935, and, ultimately, the Constitution. The key principles of responsible government, self-governance and federal structure grew out of these reforms. The Act on Indian constitutional reforms along with the Montagu Declaration are, thus, worthy claimants of the title of the Magna Carta of Modern India.

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