Current Affairs Current Affairs - 16 August 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 16 August 2018

General Affairs 

Signs, Silent Claps. Autistic, Differently-Abled Kids' Day At Red Fort
  • Several sign language instructors moved their hands up and down as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Independence Day address to the nation from the historic Red Fort progressed. Several students with disabilities cheered and smiled. All of them were excited.

    Nearly 120 persons with disabilities, including a number of children from schools and NGOs, sat patiently in the lawns of the 17-century monument, listening to PM Modi's address with help from the women instructors.

    They were at the Red Fort to listen to their prime minister on the 72nd Independence Day.

    And the prime minister ensured his address had words for his special guests. He mentioned the rights of the disabled and a common sign language dictionary prepared for them by the government.

    The First Indian Sign Language Dictionary of 3,000 words was launched in March. It was developed by Indian Sign Language Research & Training Centre.

    Throughout the over 80-minute address of PM Modi, the instructors stood facing the disabled people in an enclosure marked for them. They ensured PM Modi's message reached them in a language they understood comfortably.

    The instructors, with their back against the Red Fort, were there under the government's 'Sugamya Bharat' initiative, which aims to serve the differently-able community.

    New Delhi-based Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya National Institute For Persons with Physical Disabilities, an autonomous organisation under the administrative and financial control of the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, had facilitated the visit of the 120 people, a senior official said.

    Sanskriti Bhatia, programme manager at Sai Swayam Society, a non-profit organization, was among the four people who interpreted the prime minister's speech.

    Ms Bhatia said she "meaningfully interpreted" the prime minister's address and not literally, to make the visitors understand it better.

    Asked, how difficult it was to hear the speech from behind and interpret it simultaneously, Tanu Tomar, another instructor, said, "It was not difficult at all."

    "We made the sign gestures for various emotions like pride, honesty, patriotism and nationalism an they cheered when Modiji talked about people with disabilities," she said.

    "The youths, aged 13-18, came from schools run by Deendayal Upadhyaya institute, and a couple of NGOs. They were really excited to be a part of the event and cheered in their own language," an official of the institute said.

    "Most of them who attended the celebration are speech-impaired or hearing-impaired. Some of them are autistic or have bone disorder," the official said. 

Maharashtra Government Committed To Welfare Of Farmers: Devendra Fadnavis
  • The Maharashtra government will push forward various welfare initiatives taken up for farmers and socially backward classes in the state, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said today.

    The BJP-led government is also committed towards the development of industries in Maharashtra, Mr Fadnavis said after hoisting the national flag at the state secretariat here on the 72nd Independence Day.

    He lauded the state government's flagship water conservation scheme which, he said, has helped in dealing with water woes of people in 16,000 drought-affected villages.

    Now, the government intends to provide benefits of this micro-irrigation project, called 'Jalyukt Shivar', to 25,000 more villages, he said.

    The scheme involves deepening and widening of streams, construction of cement and earthen stop dams, and digging of farm ponds, to make the state free of drought by next year.

    Mr Fadnavis said the state government has "done well" towards the empowerment of marginalised people and has introduced various social and welfare initiatives for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes, Mr Fadnavis said.

    "This is the state of Shahu, Phule and Ambedkar where all are treated equally," he said, referring to social reformers Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj, Jyotirao Phule and the architect of the Indian Constitution, Dr BR Ambedkar.

    "We must progress at all costs and that is why we have focused equally on all sections of society, in all the areas of the state, be it urban or rural," he said.

    The state is marching ahead to achieve its part of the nationwide 'Housing for All by 2022' Mission, he said.

    Maharashtra has steadfastly worked on all schemes launched by the Centre and has done "exceedingly well" in initiatives like the 'Swachh Bharat' and 'Swachh City', on the livable city index and in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the chief minister said.

    Notably, Pune, Navi Mumbai and Greater Mumbai from Maharashtra have been ranked India's three most livable places on the government's 'Ease of Living Index', released earlier this week by the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry.

    "Maharashtra has witnessed a quantum jump in attracting investments. Around 42 per cent to 47 per cent of the total investments in the country were actualised in the state alone," he said.

    Besides, Maharashtra has been generating employment on a large scale, he said.

    The EPFO (Employees Provident Fund Organisation) figures prove that the state generated the maximum number of jobs, around eight lakh, last year, he said.

    Referring to other initiatives taken for farmers, he said the BJP-led state government purchased food grains (from cultivators) worth a record of Rs. 8,000 crore in the last three years.

    The previous (UPA) government had only spent Rs. 450 crore in 15 years on the purchase of food grains, he said, adding that "this proves our commitment for the well-being of farmers."

"Impatient" To Move Ahead: PM Modi's Message From Red Fort Ahead of 2019
  • From the ramparts of historic Red Fort on India's 72nd Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi  today said he was "impatient" for change -- underscoring his goals for the New India on multiple fronts. With less than a year to go for the national elections, PM Modi also gave his government's report card. The progress over the last four years can be measured only if 2013 is taken as the "base year", he pointedly said. There was no direct reference to the Congress.

    "If we take 2013 as the base year, you'll be surprised to learn the pace of progress... The world used to talk about electricity blackouts, bottlenecks in India. Today it says the "sleeping elephant" has started walking," he told the thousands assembled outside the 400-year-old fort.

    If work was being done at the speed of 2013, "It would have taken centuries to build as many toilets as we have now. The electrification of villages would have been delayed by a couple of decades," he said. Cooking gas would have taken a 100 years to reach the kitchens of the underprivileged and optical fibre would have taken generations to reach villages.

    Towards the end of his 80-minute speech, the Prime Minister confided, "People say all kinds of things about me. Whatever they say, I want to admit some things publicly today... "I am impatient because many countries are ahead of us, I am impatient to take our country ahead of all of them".

    What followed was a list of hurdles the country is facing and his to-do list that included improving the quality of life and utilisation of all resources.

    The Congress hit back, calling the Prime Minister's speech "hollow" and reiterated party chief Rahul Gandhi's challenge of a debate.

    Party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala questioned whether the Prime Minister would care to debate on the "failing economy and falling rupee, for the rupee has hit a new low that is 70 and the trade deficit has gone over $18 billion".

    "Will you today debate as to the manner in which China has occupied Doklam, they are intruding into Ladakh and has been engulfing India from all sides," the Congress spokesperson questioned.

Madhya Pradesh "Role Model", Gives Death To Child Rapists: Chief Minister
  • Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today said the state has become a "role model" in dealing with rape cases of minors and 10 accused in such offences have been awarded the death sentence.
    The earth needs to be rid of such "demons", he said after unfurling the national flag at the Independence Day function in the Motilal Nehru Stadium in Bhopal.

    The state had last year approved the provision of capital punishment for those found guilty of raping girls aged 12 or below.

    "One thing saddens us is that on one hand we are hiring girls in police (department) for their empowerment, and on the other, demons are taking birth who rape innocent and minor girls," Mr Chouhan said.

    "The demons are a curse on the earth. We have to free this planet of them," he asserted.

    He said Madhya Pradesh is the first state to pass a bill for hanging rapists of minor girls.

    "Madhya Pradesh has become a role model by awarding death sentence to more than 10 such offenders," he said, adding 50 special courts have been set up in the state to conduct trials in rape cases.

    At least 10 rapists of girls aged 12 or below have been awarded the death sentence by various courts in the state since February this year.

    A court in Madhya Pradesh's Shahdol district had sentenced a 23-year-old man to death on February 28 for raping and killing a four-year-old girl.

    Yesterday, a 40-year-old man was sentenced to death by a court in the Sagar district for raping a 10-year-old girl.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi today called for giving wide publicity to cases in which rapists were awarded the death sentence, saying it would instill fear in people with a "demonic mindset".

    He spoke about fast-track trial of rape cases in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan where convicts were condemned to death within days, and said such cases need to be given wide publicity to deter people from committing such crimes.

    Madhya Pradesh accounted for the highest 4,882 rape cases out of 38,947  recorded across the country in 2016, as per the National Crime Record Bureau's last report.

    The state recorded 2,479 rape cases of minor girls, followed by Maharashtra and UP with 2,310 and 2,115 such cases respectively, the NCRB report said.

    Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of rape cases (4,391) in 2015 too, according to the report.

    Mr Chouhan said Madhya Pradesh has initiated a slew of measures for women's empowerment.

    "After panchayat, provisions have been made for reservation to women in government jobs," he said.

    Women are getting 50 per cent reservation in teaching jobs and 30 per cent in various other fields, except the Forest Department, he said.

    Shivraj Singh Chouhan also said 500 additional seats have been created in MBBS courses to overcome the shortage of doctors in the state.

    Efforts are on to improve the health services in MP, he said, adding medical colleges will be opened in Datia, Vidisha, Khandwa and Ratlam districts.

    Also, sanctions have been granted to open two more medical colleges in the Seoni and the Chhattarpur district, he added.

On Independence Day, PM Highlights His Visions For A New And Better India
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi described India's progress under him and his vision for the country through poetry, saying "we are breaking chains" and are "determined to soar above the sky and build a new India".

    "Hum tod rahe hain zanjeerein, hum badal rahe hain tasveerein; ye navyug hai nav Bharat hai, khud likhengein apni taqdeerein (We are breaking chains, we are changing pictures; this is a new era, new India, we will write our own destiny)," he said in his Independence Day speech.

    As he laid down his vision for a new India, audience broke into applause.

    "We have made a commitment, we have dedicated our body and soul, we are determined that a new Sun must rise and we must soar above sky, we have to make a new India," PM Modi said.

Business Affairs

Cosmos Bank ATM hack: NPCI says cyber fraud due to malware attack on bank's IT system
  • A day after Pune-based Cosmos Bank said it was hit by a cyber attack in which miscreants allegedly hacked the server and transferred over Rs 94 crore to overseas accounts, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) claimed that its systems are "fully secure" and the cyber fraud happened due to a malware-based attack on the lender's IT system.

    "This has happened due to malware based attack on bank's IT system which has caused a fraud. Under the attack, maximum transactions have been reported from outside India. We wish to reiterate that our systems are fully secure and we are monitoring the situation continuously. We are there to support Bank in identifying the cause of this fraud," Bharat Panchal, Head of Risk Management at NPCI said.

    Hackers managed to siphon off over Rs 90 crore through a malware attack on the server of the cooperative bank and cloning thousands of debit cards, Cosmos Bank chairman Milind Kale had said. The fraudulent transactions were carried out on August 11 and August 13 and the malware attack by the hackers originated in Canada.

    The bank has also registered an FIR at the Chatushringi police station in the city. A case was registered under sections 43, 65, 66(C) and 66 (D) of the Information Technology Act and relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code.

    Kale had said that over the two days, hackers withdrew a total Rs 78 crore from various ATMs in 28 countries, including Canada, Hong Kong and a few ATMs in India, and another Rs 2.5 crore were taken out within India.

    On August 13, hackers again transferred Rs 13.92 crore in a Hong Kong-based bank by using fraudulent transactions, he had said.

    Kale had said the cooperative bank's core banking system was not affected and that it has already appointed a professional forensic agency to investigate the fraud.

    As a precautionary measure, the bank has closed ATMs operations and suspended net and mobile banking facilities, he had said.

Once a fragile-five economy, India now multi-trillion dollar investment destination: PM Modi
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day Speech today highlighted his government's achievements in the past four years. Prime Minister Modi said that the country has made rapid changes in the past four years compared to 2013 when the Congress-led UPA government was in power. The Prime Minister listed down the progress in the economy and mentioned the steps his government has taken in electrification of villages, resolving of NPAs in banking sector, among others.

    Prime Minister also said the world's approach towards India has seen a change in the past four years with global agencies saying the India economy is going to grow even bigger. Prime Minister Modi in his Independence Day speech also cited IMF's recent report which said India's economy is an elephant that's starting to run. "India is now the land of reform, perform and transform. We are poised for record economic growth," PM Modi said.

    The Prime Minister said that the mood in the country has changed with new hope amongst youngsters. He said there is a flood of start-ups in Tier II and Tier III cities in India. Prime Minister Modi said that had the country continued at the pace of 2013 under the UPA, the country would not have achieved many socio-economic targets that it has in the past four years for decades.

    In his speech Prime Minister Modi also thanked the Indian middle class tax payers. "Every honest tax payer is helping three poor families get enough food," the Prime Minister said.

    Prime Minister Modi also said that under the Mudra Yojana, loans worth Rs 13 crore were issued and four crore people got the loan for the first time.  Prime Minister Modi said that the rollout of GST has also benefited the country and thanked the business class for embracing the new tax system. PM Modi said in one year after GST, direct tax payers have grown from 70 lakh to 1 crore 16 lakh.

    PM Modi also announced that the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna, which will benefit 10 crore families, will be launched on September 25, the birth anniversary of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhaya.

    The Prime Minister also announced that by 2022, India will send its manned space mission. "It is my pleasure to announce that by 2022, in India's 75th year of Independence or even before that, India will take the tri-colour to space," said Modi.

    Ahead of I-Day, President Ram Nath Kovind addressed the country and said contentious issues and extraneous debates should not be allowed to distract us at a "pivotal moment" when the country is at the cusp of achieving many long-awaited goals.

    "Universal access to electricity, the elimination of open defecation, the elimination of homelessness, the very elimination of extreme poverty is achievable and attainable. We are at a pivotal moment. Let contentious issues and extraneous debates not distract us," Kovind said"

    In his televised address to the nation, he said: "The decisions the country takes today, the foundations we lay, the projects we undertake, the social and economic investments we make today whether for the immediate future or for the medium term will determine where we stand."

    "The pace of change and development in our country is rapid and appreciable. And as per our civilisational traditions, it is driven by our people, by civil society and by a partnership between citizen and government. Its focus, again in keeping with the essence of Indian thought, is on a better life for the less fortunate," the President further said.

Agri export policy on the anvil, to double farm income by 2022: PM Modi
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said a new agriculture export policy will be unveiled soon to boost farm income as the government is on track to achieve the target of doubling farmers' income by 2022.

    Addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the occasion of 72nd Independence Day, Modi spelt out pro-farm measures taken during four years of his government, the cornerstone being the bold move to fix the minimum support price (MSP) of crops at least 1.5 times of the cost of production.

    "The demand for higher MSP was pending for years. From farmers to political parties to agriculture experts, everybody was asking about it but nothing happened. We took a bold decision that farmers should get 1.5 times more price than their cost of production and implemented it," he said.

    The Prime Minister said doubts were cast when he set the target of doubling farm income by 2022 but decisions like increase in price for crops have ensured that the government is on track of meeting the target.

    Noting that in the changing times, farmers too are facing global markets and the government is working on an agriculture export policy in this regard.

    "For the first time in the country, we are progressing towards agriculture export policy so that our farmers can face competition in the global market," Modi said.

    He, however, did not give details of the policy on the anvil.

    The Commerce and Industry Ministry in March had come out with a draft 'Agriculture Export Policy', aimed at doubling agricultural exports and integrate Indian farmers and agricultural products to the global value chain.

    While the BJP had promised in 2014 to give farmers a price of 1.5 times of cost, an announcement to give effect to the promise was made in the government's fifth and final annual Budget presented on February 1 this year.

    Last month, the government announced the minimum support price of kharif crops and hiked the MSP for paddy by a record Rs 200 per quintal. The MSPs of other kharif (summer-sown) crops were also raised sharply to help fulfil its poll promise to give farmers 50 per cent more rate than their cost of production.

    "The country is producing record foodgrains. Our granaries are full," Modi said and complemented farmers and agri-scientists for this achievement.

    With rising population and less cultivable area, he said it's the need of the hour to make agriculture modern and scientific through use of technology. "Therefore, our entire focus is to bring modernisation and transformation in the agriculture sector".

    He said the farmers have started adopting micro-irrigation, drip irrigation and sprinklers. The government is reviving 99 stuck irrigation projects so that farmers get water in their fields.

    "With a 'Beej se Bazar Tak' (helping farmers in getting seeds as well as accessing market) approach, we are bringing a remarkable change in the agriculture sector. The aim is to double farmers' income by 2022," Modi said.

    He said some people had doubt about achieving the goal of doubling farmers' income but the resolve of the government was firm.

    "Hum makkhan par lakeer nahi, patthar par lakeer kheechane wale hain (decisions taken by us are cast in stone and not on butter)".

    The Prime Minister said the government is promoting value addition to boost the income of farmers.

    In his about 90-minute speech, Modi spoke about the new avenues farmers are engaging in, like organic farming, blue revolution and bee-keeping, as also solar farming.

    India, he said, is currently the second largest fish producer in the world and will soon occupy the top position, while honey exports have doubled.

    Referring to sugarcane farmers, he said the ethanol production has trebled.

    The government recently announced Rs 8,500-crore package for the sugar sector, including soft loans for setting ethanol manufacturing capacity.

It's official! Ayushman Bharat to be rolled out on September 25
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM) on September 25. In an hour-long Independence Day speech today, PM Modi said that the AB-NHPM will be rolled out on the occasion of Deen Dayal Upadhyay's anniversary which falls on September 25.

    "Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Abhiyaan will be launched on 25th September this year. It is high time we ensure that the poor of India get access to good quality and affordable healthcare," Prime Minister Modi said.

    He further said that the healthcare initiatives of the government would have a positive impact on 50 crore Indians. "It is essential to ensure that we free the poor of India from the clutches of poverty due to which they cannot afford healthcare," he said.

    Earlier, the Prime Minister was expected to announce the roll out of Ayushman Bharat on Independence Day. The chief architect of the scheme Dr Vinod K Paul had told Business Today that only 12-15 states would launch the scheme on 15 August 2018 as the others were not prepared to roll it out on time. States like UP and Bihar may take another 6 months or longer to launch Ayushman Bharat, he had said.

    The fact that the government has decided to delay the roll out could mean it does not want to risk any technical glitches similar to what GST faced immediately after its launch last year.

    While presenting the Budget 2018, then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced two major initiatives as part of Ayushman Bharat programme aimed at making path-breaking interventions to address health holistically, in primary, secondary and tertiary care system, covering both prevention and health promotion.

    Prime Minister Modi's flagship National Health Protection Scheme will cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) providing coverage up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation. This will be the world's largest government funded health care programme.

RBI puts 200 stressed accounts under scanner
  • As part of its effort to contain rising non-performing assets (NPAs), the RBI has started scrutiny of 200 large accounts to assess level of stress and provisioning done against them by respective banks. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is examining as to whether banks have followed prudential norms in respect of these stressed assets, a senior public sector bank official said.

    It is also assessing classification, provisioning and debt recast in respect of those loans, the official added.

    This is a part of regular annual inspection of book of the banks that the central bank undertakes each year after the closure of the financial year, another official said.

    Some of the accounts include Videocon, Jindal Steel and Power, the official added.

    This exercise comes at a time when gross NPAs in the banking system has risen to around Rs 10.3 lakh crore, or 11.2 per cent of advances, compared to Rs 8 lakh crore, or 9.5 per cent of total loan, as on March 31, 2017.

    Following the annual inspection of the last year, many lenders, including Axis Bank, Bank of India and Yes Bank, were caught for under-reporting of NPAs.

    The lenders started reporting divergences since June last year for having under-reported NPAs in FY16. This was followed by a second round of disclosures, starting October, of under-reporting in FY17 by a few lenders.

    In most cases, this led to a shooting up of NPAs and an ensuing jump in provisions against dud assets. This eroded their bottomlines, and led to a sell-off in the stock causing erosion of wealth for investors.

    Private sector lenders, which were reputed for their caution on the asset quality front vis-a-vis the poorly governed state-owned peers, were the worst hit in this exercise.

    Among others, mid-sized private sector lender YES Bank was found to have under-reported gross NPAs by a whopping Rs 11,000 crore in the two fiscals, while the third largest lender Axis Bank was found to have a divergence of over Rs 14,000 crore and ICICI Bank had over Rs 5,000 crore on these accounts for FY16 alone.

    Last year, RBI had tweaked the rules to make it compulsory for lenders to disclose under-reporting of bad assets. Before this there was a massive book clean-up through the asset quality review (AQR) in the previous year.

General Awareness

    NITI Aayog launches “Pitch to MOVE”
    • What to study?

      For Prelims: particulars of the programme.
      For Mains: Entrepreneurship promotion in the country and the efforts by government in this regard.

      Context: NITI Aayog has launched “Pitch to MOVE” – a mobility pitch competition that aims to provide budding entrepreneurs of India a unique opportunity to pitch their business ideas to a distinguished jury.

      About “Pitch to MOVE”:

      “Pitch to MOVE” is organised by NITI Aayog in collaboration with Invest India and Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).

      Aim: The competition aims to identify and reward the start-ups offering innovative solutions for shared, connected, and environment friendly mobility. It also aims to incentivise the startups, which will help the Government realize its vision of Shared, Connected, Intermodal and Environment Friendly Mobility for India. The objective is to harness the latest disruption for generating employment and growth in our country.

      The Startups can be from the domain of Public Mobility, Electric Vehicles, Shared Transport, Last Mile Connectivity, Passenger Transportation, Battery Technology, Automotive IoT, Freight & Logistics, Powertrain/Drivetrain, Experiential, Travel, Mobility Infrastructure and Automotive Electronics etc.

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