Current Affairs Current Affairs - 07 August 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 07 August 2018

General Affairs 

India Keeps Door Open For Trade-War Truce With The US
  • India deferred the imposition of retaliatory tariffs on some US imports to next month, opening the door to an agreement that would avert a trade war between the two nations.

    The higher import duty on goods like chickpeas and Bengal gram, or chana, has been delayed to Sept. 18 from Aug. 4, the finance ministry said in a notification. The two sides have held meetings to relieve the tension in trade relations after Washington slapped higher levies on products shipped from the South Asian nation.

    The move comes as trade tensions between the US and China intensifies. The Trump administration is considering increasing its proposed tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods, while Beijing has threatened to retaliate.

    India's list also included tariffs on walnuts, almonds, boric acid, apples, diagnostic reagents and some hot-rolled coil products. The nation's position is that Trump's 25 percent and 10 percent duties on steel and aluminum, respectively, violate the global trading rules and have hurt its exports.

    India had a trade surplus of $25 billion with the U.S. in 2017, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The U.S. cited this as one of the reasons for naming India a potential currency manipulator.

Army To Give Its Cows To Government Departments For Rs. 1,000 Per Animal
  • Nearly a year after the defence ministry ordered closure of 39 military farms across the country, the Army has decided to "transfer" all the cattle kept there to government departments or dairy cooperatives at a nominal cost of Rs. 1,000 per animal.

    Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre, while replying to a question in Rajya Sabha, said all the cattle in the military farms will be transferred to central and state government departments or to state cooperatives.

    He said a cost of Rs. 1,000 will be charged per animal.

    The minister was asked whether high-yielding cows numbering 15,000 have no buyers given their high maintenance cost.

    In August last year, the defence ministry had announced a series of reform measures for the Indian Army which included shutting down the military farms.

    These farms are occupying around 20,000 acres of defence land across the country and the Army was spending around Rs. 300 crore for their maintenance.

    The firms were set up by the British to ensure supply of milk to Army units.

For Those Left Out Of Assam Draft Citizens' List, A Date Is Key
  • People who submitted applications to prove their Indian citizenship till the last date of August 31, 2015 but were excluded in the final NRC draft are only eligible to file claims and objections, an official at the NRC Assam coordinator's office said today.

    Those who have not applied till August 31, 2015 cannot apply between August 10 and September 28, fixed for filing claims and objections, the National Register of Citizens official told PTI.

    A decision for those who could not submit their applications in 2015 will be taken according to the directive of the Supreme Court after the final NRC is published, he said.

    The final NRC will be published only after disposal of all claims, objections and corrections, and the date for its publication will be fixed by the Supreme Court.

    Many eminent people like former chief minister Anwara Taimur and relatives of former president Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed had not submitted their applications within the stipulated time and consequently their names are missing from the list, he had said.

    The final NRC will retain names of only those persons born till the last date of submission of the applications.

    Inclusion of any child born to the applicant after August 31, 2015 cannot be done through claims, he said.

    Similarly, if an applicant died after application form is submitted and if eligible, their names will not be excluded from the final NRC, he said.

    Claims and objections must be submitted to the Local Registrar of Citizen Registration (LRCR) at the NRC Seva Kendras and not online, but corrections can be made online.

    Claims can be submitted only at the NSKs where the people had originally submitted their applications even if there has been a change of address after the submission of the form, the official said.

    The claim can be submitted with additional documents or with the same documents submitted earlier.

    The objections can be submitted only at the NSKs covering the residence of a person and that will require grounds for objections, he said.

    Forms for claim, objection and correction will be made available at the NSKs and can be downloaded from the NRC website from August 10.

    There will be separate forms for claim, objection and correction.

    The final draft of the NRC was published on July 30 and included the names of 2.89 crore people out of 3.29 applicants with more than 40 lakh people being left out.

15 Maoists Killed In Encounter With Security Forces In Chhattisgarh
  • 15 Maoists were killed on Monday in an encounter with security forces in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district. The gunfight took place in the morning in a forest area in south Sukma, around 500 km from Raipur.

    Till now 15 bodies have been recovered, and a large number of firearms has also been seized from the encounter site. An area committee member, who had a bounty of Rs. five lakh, has also been arrested, along with a female Maoist.

    Earlier this month, Maoists had released a pamphlet claiming that they lost 247 of their cadres in encounters with security forces over the last two years. Maoist announced Shaheed Diwas starting from 28th July for a week.

    This was one of the biggest Maoist operations in the history of Chhattisgarh, where 15 bodies of rebels were recovered in a single incident, state's Special Director General of Police (anti-Naxal operations) D M Awasthi told reporters.

    Based on intelligence inputs about locations of Maoist camps in south Sukma, two teams of security forces were sent into the forest from different directions last evening, Mr Awasthi said.

    The teams included personnel of the District Reserve Guard, Special Task Force, Central Reserve Police Force and its elite unit Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA).

    One of the patrolling teams, comprising around 200 personnel of the STF and the DRG, spotted a Maoist camp this morning at the forest in Nalkatong village, located around 500 km from here, following which it started encircling the place, Mr Awasthi said.

    A gunbattle took place between Naxals and the patrolling team for about half-an-hour, he said.

    Maoists' platoon commander Vanjam Hunga was among the killed, Mr Awasthi said, adding that identities of the other 14 cadres were yet to be ascertained.

6 "Terrorists" Arrested Over Assassination Attempt On Nicolas Maduro
  • Venezuela's government said on Sunday it had arrested six "terrorists and hired killers" over an alleged assassination attempt on President Nicolas Maduro using explosive-laden drones.

    Interior and Justice Minister Nestor Reverol announced the arrests on state television, saying "several vehicles have been seized and hotel raids carried out in Caracas where important information was collected."

    Reverol said the "assassination" attempt was carried out by two remotely operated drones and each carrying a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of plastic explosive C4 -- "capable of causing effective damage over a 50-meter (164 feet) radius."

    He said one of the drones flew over the tribune where Maduro was giving a speech to mark a military parade but that it became "disoriented by signal inhibiting equipment" and was thus "activated outside the assassins' planned perimeter."

    The second drone lost control and crashed in an adjacent building, Reverol added. 

    He said it was "a crime of terrorism and assassination" and that the "material and intellectual authors inside and outside the country" had been identified, with further arrests "in the coming hours" possible.

    He said seven soldiers had been injured, with three of them in a critical state.

    Reverol said one of the six detainees was already wanted for involvement in a daring raid on a northern military base a year ago, in which rebels made off with a cache of weapons.

Business Affairs

Address issues like data ownership, data deletion rights before finalising data privacy draft bill
  • The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 (referred to as the draft bill), is the first step to establish a framework for processing personal data of individuals or data principals. The committee headed by Justice BN Srikrishna released the Draft Bill along with their committee report, which attempts to outline the reasoning behind the provisions as proposed in the draft bill. The Draft Bill provides the obligations for three entities, namely, data principals, data fiduciaries, and data processors. The data fiduciaries would include such entities who would determine the purpose and means for processing personal data, with the data processors being entities that would be processing such data on behalf of the data fiduciaries.

    Considering that it is in its initial stages, the draft bill does cover some of the key tenets that form the basis of any data privacy framework. Despite its coverage, there are still few aspects that have not been covered by the draft bill.

    Data ownership

    Notably, the draft bill, as opposed to the recent recommendations on data privacy issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), does not indicate with whom the ownership of data actually lie. This may impact the extent to which the draft bill may be effective in providing data privacy. A combined effect of other provisions of the draft bill gives an impression that the ownership does not lie with data principals, at least. For example, the provision related to 'purpose limitation' permits processing of personal data for 'any other incidental purpose', which may result in the dilution of control that the data principals possess in relation to processing of personal data.

    Right to delete data

    No provisions of the draft bill enable the data principals to completely delete their personal data from the repositories of the data fiduciaries. This may further limit control that may be exercisable by the data principals. This aspect may need to be further assessed in order to ensure data principals have full control and say as to how their data is to be handled.

    Extra-territoriality of the draft bill

    The draft bill intends to have an extra-territorial effect and seeks to cover processing of personal data if the processing is 'in connection with any business carried on in India'.  The phrase appearing in this provision appears to be vague and unclear. Does it intend to include businesses or commercial activities wholly carried out in India? Businesses or transactions may be such that they may be carried out across international borders. For example, financial transactions that may be initiated through institutions in India may involve foreign payment systems, which are based outside India. In such a case, part of certain transaction may occur within India and other parts may be carried out outside India. It is unclear how such businesses would be covered under the provisions. Unfortunately, the report, too, is silent in this respect. The report only mentions these aspects in relation to social media platforms (based outside India), which routinely handle huge volumes of personal data related to individuals located in India. To that extent, it is unclear as to how the draft bill will implement the extra-territorial nature as prescribed therein.

    Tracking cross-border

    Monitoring cross-border transfer of personal data is one of the functions of the proposed Data Protection Authority of India (DPA). Such monitoring of cross-border transfers of personal data in digital form would only be possible if communication networks are specifically monitored by the DPA. However, the draft bill does not reconcile how such functions may be implemented in light of Section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. The present provision stipulates that only agencies that are authorised by the Central/State Government may monitor transmission of information over a communication network. This is further conditional on the government satisfied that such activities are necessary for the national security and in national interest. Such a provision may have to be reconciled with the provisions of the IT Act to affect regulation of cross-border transfer of personal data.

    Critical lacunas

    Some of the issues such as data ownership and data deletion rights are some of the critical lacunas. These aspects are considered the bedrock for an effective data privacy framework in India considering the large population, extent of digital penetration, and level of digital literacy in India. These aspects have to be addressed before the Draft Bill is finalised, as these would be necessary for ensuring that the data privacy within India is effective and comprehensive.

Minimum balance penalty: SBI says it has reduced charges by up to 40% since April
  • A day after it was reported that total 24 banks collected over Rs 5,000 crore for the non-maintenance of minimum balance in FY18, the state-owned State Bank of India clarified on Monday that it has reduced the average monthly balance (AMB) requirement by up to 40 per cent since April, and that the bank does not charge anything from customers having basic saving accounts or pensioners, miners, etc.

    The country's largest public sector bank, in a statement, said, its charges for the non-maintenance of average monthly balance are one of the lowest in the industry.  "The bank has steeply reduced the charges for non-maintenance of average monthly balance up to 70 per cent in metro or urban and semi-urban categories. Charges in the rural market were also reduced up to 75 per cent."

    "Bank accounts such as Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana or basic savings bank deposit or the accounts of pensioners, minors, social security benefit holders, etc, are exempted from any such requirement," said the statement. The bank has around 42.5 crore savings bank accounts, of which almost 40 per cent accounts are under the exempted category, said the SBI, adding that customers also have the option to convert their existing savings accounts to BSBD account for free.

    As many as 21 public sector banks (PSBs) and three major private sector lenders have collected Rs 5,000 crore from customers for non-maintenance of minimum balance in their accounts in 2017-18. Among the PSBs, the State Bank of India emerged the highest earner with Rs 2,433-crore penalty, nearly half of the total collection. The SBI's minimum average balance requirement for its customers in metro cities is Rs 3,000. If the average balance falls between Rs 2,999 and Rs 1,500, then the bank charges Rs 30 as a penalty. And if it goes down further from Rs 1,499 to Rs 750, then the SBI charges Rs 40, and Rs 50 if the MAB is below Rs 750.

    In the private sector, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank and ICICI Bank are the highest collectors. With Rs 590-crore collection HDFC is at the top, followed by Axis Bank which earned Rs 530 crore. ICICI Bank collected Rs 317 crore as penalty for the financial year 2017-18. The Punjab National Bank (PNB) collected Rs 211 crore as penalty. The minimum balance limit for general savings account in PNB is Rs 500 for rural areas and Rs 1,000 for semi-urban areas.

Govt to invite fresh bids for 100 per cent stake sale in Pawan Hans
  • Will the government get third-time lucky in its attempt to sell off Pawan Hans? The Department of Disinvestment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) has floated the offer to sell government's 51 per cent stake in the profit-making helicopter services provider twice in the past year. And now, after Oil and Natural Gas Corp's (ONGC) board recently approved divesting its entire 49 per cent stake in the entity, the government is going to issue an amended expression of interest (EoI) shortly.

    According to an official, the government will soon invite fresh bids for 100 per cent stake sale in Pawan Hans - a joint venture between the government and the country's largest oil and gas explorer - by issuing an addendum to the disinvestment document.

    "An addendum would be issued to the EoI document issued on April 13. The addendum would state that ONGC has expressed its interest in selling its 49 per cent holding and fresh bids can be put in for the entire 100 per cent stake," the official told PTI. Pawan Hans has a fleet of 46 choppers.

    It operates seven Dauphin N3 Helicopters for ONGC's offshore operations. These helicopters undertake passenger crew change service and production tasks, including night ambulance, on a regular basis to meet the offshore requirements of the state-owned oil behemoth.

    The government had first floated an offer to sell its 51 per cent stake in the helicopter services provider last October, but the EoI was withdrawn in April this year in view of the tepid response. Only two bidders, Indian helicopter major Global Vectra Helicorp and US-based Continental Helicopters, had reportedly shown interest.

    Around that time, some investors had suggested that the government and ONGC should sell their stakes together. "Potential investors had then suggested that ONGC's 49 per cent stake too should be sold along with government's 51 per cent. They feared that ONGC holding 49 per cent could mean government interference in some way," the official said.

    Subsequently, on April 13, the government came out with a fresh information memorandum for the strategic sale, wherein bidders need to have a minimum net worth of Rs 500 crore. The deadline for Expression of Interest (EoI) was supposed to be June 18 and about half a dozen bidders are believed to have submitted bids this time round. Then, on July 2, ONGC wrote to the government saying that its board had resolved that it would prefer to exit Pawan Hans simultaneously with the government.

    The official said the existing bids for the government's 51 per cent stake would stay."We want to give other investors a chance in case they want to bid for entire 100 per cent stake," the official said.

    SBI Capital Markets is the transaction advisor for the strategic disinvestment of Pawan Hans.

Sensex hits record high of 37,805, Nifty breaches 11,400 level for first time
  • The Sensex and Nifty started the week on a strong note hitting their lifetime highs in early trade led by strong buying in consumer durables, PSU and banking counters amid firm Asian cues. While the Sensex hit a lifetime high of 37,805, the Nifty touched 11,427, its highest ever level breaching the 11,400 level for the first time in trade today.

    The Nifty rose 67 points from its Friday record closing of 11,360 level. The Sensex rose up to 249 points in trade today.

    Major gainers include ICICI Bank, SBI, Yes Bank, Vedanta, Tata Steel, Adani Ports, Bharti Airtel, Axis Bank, Tata Motors, Infosys, Coal India, Hero Motocorp, Tata Motors, ONGC, RIL, M&M, Sun Pharma, Bajaj Auto, NTPC, TCS, ITC, L&T and Power Grid, rising up to 2.59 per cent.

    At 11:31 am, the Sensex was trading 222 points or 0.59 % higher at 37,778 level. The Nifty stood at 11,410, 0.44% or 50 points higher compared to its previous close.

    Top Sensex gainers were Axis Bank (3.86%), ICICI Bank (3.08%) and SBI (2.34%).

    Top losers on the Sensex were HUL(2.04%), Kotak Mahindra Bank (1.37%) and Sun Pharma 1.25%. 

    Besides, fresh buying by domestic institutional investors (DIIs) and strengthening rupee also boosted investor sentiment.

    Meanwhile, midcap and smallcap indices on the BSE rose 72 points and 100 points, respectively.

    On Nifty, top gainers were  Axis Bank (3.37%), ICICI Bank (3.10%) and UPL (2.52%).

    Top Nifty losers were HUL (1.62%), Kotak Mahindra Bank (1.26%) and Dr Reddy's (1.19%).

    The  Sensex gained 391 points in the past session on Friday after the weather office said monsoon will be normal in August and September, boosting growth prospects of the rural economy.

    Domestic institutional investors (DIIs) bought shares worth a net of Rs 87.08 crore, while foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) sold shares worth a net of Rs 5.87 crore on Friday, provisional data showed.

    Traders said positive cues from other Asian markets and fresh buying by domestic institutional investors, influenced sentiments.

    Market breadth was positive with 1,496 stocks trading higher compared with 874 falling on the BSE.


    Global markets

    Asian stocks were mostly higher, despite a new Chinese threat of tariff hikes on U.S. goods, after Washington reported solid employment numbers.

    Japan's Nikkei 225 added 9 points to 22,533.81 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.7 percent to 27,870.07.

    The Shanghai Composite Index lost 1 percent to 2,713.58 while Seoul's Kospi added 0.2 percent to 2,292.96. Sydney S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.5 percent to 6,266.00 and India's Sensex was 0.5 percent higher at 37,788.60. Benchmarks in Taiwan and New Zealand and Southeast Asia gained while Bangkok and Manila declined.

Amazon vs Flipkart: From 80% off to one deal every hour, Independence Day sales offer big discounts
  • With Independence Day coming up, e-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart are rolling out the choicest discounts and offers. This is only the beginning of a string of sales that is likely to be offered during the festive season, as has been the practice in the long-drawn competition between Amazon and Flipkart. Amazon's Freedom Sale will continue for four days, while Flipkart's The Big Freedom Sale will run for three days.

    If you have been meaning to buy that futon or that television set, here are the things you should look out for when the sales start:


    Amazon's Freedom Sale

    Amazon's sale will start on August 9 and will run till August 12. The sneak peek that's currently running on Amazon says that it is offering more than 20,000 deals across more than 200 categories and more than 2,500 brands. The company has also partnered up with SBI for more lucrative offers.

    1. Amazon is offering up to 40% off on mobiles and accessories across more than 25 brands including MI, OnePlus, Motorola, Nokia and Vivo. There will also be 4 launches and 30 Amazon exclusives.
    2. They are offering up to 50% off on electronics across 350 brands including Bose, Sennheiser, Canon, Lenovo and JBL. There's a discount of up to 55% on 10,000 products.

    3. From USHA and Bombay Dyeing to Bosch and Prestige, Amazon is offering up to 70% discount on home and kitchen products across more than 200 brands. Amazon is also offering up to 50% off on more than 2,000 products.    

    4. On daily essentials, Amazon is offering up to 50% off. Moreover, there will be daily deals on more than 10,000 products.

    5. When it comes to fashion, Amazon is gearing up with 50-80% discounts, across more than 500 brands including Puma, United Colors of Benetton, American Tourister and US Polo Assn.

    6. One can avail up to 40% off on TVs and appliances. Additionally, one can knock off up to Rs 22,000 on exchange. They also have benefits like 48 hr installation and no cost EMI. Customers can apply these deals on brands such as LG, Voltas, Samsung, Whirlpool, BPL, Sony and Sanyo.

    7. Amazon Prime users are eligible for exclusive deals and offers as well.

    8. They are also rolling the Amazon App Jackpot and offering prizes up to Rs 4 lakh.


    Flipkart's The Big Freedom Sale

    The home-grown giant's sale will start on August 10 and run till August 12. Along with discounts, Flipkart is also offering new deals every 8 hours, change of prices every 8 hours, one deal every hour and "revolutionary" deals at midnight till 2 am. Flipkart has joined hands with Citi Bank credit card for heftier deals.

    1. While it is not made clear what the deals are on mobile phones, the sneak peek page on Flipkart claims great deals for top brands including Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi and more.
    2. Flipkart is offering up to 70% off on appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines and TVs.

    3. For electronic products like laptops and camera, Flipkart is offering up to 80% off on brands like Apple, Dell and Google.

    4. When it comes to fashion, footwear and accessories, Flipkart is offering 40-80% off.

    5. Up to 40-80% off is being offered on kitchen essentials including brands like Prestige, Bombay Dyeing, HomeTown and more.

General Awareness

    Defence India Startup Challenge
    • What to study?

      For Prelims: Digital Literacy Library- features.
      For Mains: Significance and benefits of the library.

      Context: Facebook Launches Digital Literacy Library to Help Youth Build Skills Online.

      About the Digital Literacy Library:

      The Library aims to help young people build the skills they need to safely enjoy online technology.

      The library is a collection of lessons to help young people think critically and share thoughtfully online.
      Divided into themes such as privacy and reputation, identity exploration, security, safety and well-being, the lessons reflect the voices of young people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicities, geographies, and educational levels.
      The lessons can be found on Facebook’s Safety Center as well as on Berkman Klein’s Digital Literacy Resource Platform.

      Significance of the library:

      There are 830 million young people online around the world, and this library is a resource for educators looking to address digital literacy and help these young people build the skills they need to safely enjoy digital technology.

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