Current Affairs Current Affairs - 15 September 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 15 September 2018

General Affairs 

Rafale-Like Controversies Lower Nation's Esteem: Ex-Chief Of Air Staff
  • The political slugfest between the ruling NDA and the Opposition Congress over the multi-billion dollar Rafale fighter jet deal lowers the nation's prestige as the world is watching, former Chief of Air Staff Arup Raha said today.
    There could always be "something wrong or something right" in such big-ticket purchases, he said.

    "Such Rafale-like controversies lower a nation's esteem as the world is watching. These are big-ticket purchases. Something may be wrong or something may be right," Mr Raha told reporters on the sidelines of a defence seminar organised in the city.

    The former CAS said such controversies were not good for the defence capability of a nation as the faith in the system would be lost.

    "Everything is well-documented. There is nothing to hide. The stakeholders (government and the Opposition) may always organise a confidential meeting and discuss it," he said.

    The Congress has been alleging that the NDA government has helped certain companies benefit from the deal.

Delhi-Mumbai Expressway New Route To Save Rs. 16,000 Crore: Nitin Gadkari
  • Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Friday said the government has planned a new road alignment for the Delhi-Mumbai expressway that connects some of the most backward areas in five states and also saves Rs. 16,000 crore in land acquisition.

    "We are planning a new alignment for Delhi-Mumbai express highway from Gurgaon to Jaipur ring road to Sawai Madhopur (Rajasthan) to Ratlam (MP) to Varodara. It is from backward areas of Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. That is the reason our land acquisition cost is reduced from Rs. 7 crore to Rs. 80 lakh per hectare. We saved Rs. 16,000 crore in land acquisition in this project," Mr Gadkari said through video conference at a meet on "Public Affairs: The New Paradigm".

    Earlier, the road plan for Delhi-Mumbai expressway included Surat and Ahmedabad. The new alignment of the 12-lane express highway will give a boost to the economic development of these backward areas and also reduce the distance by 120 km.

    Speaking at the 5th National Forum hosted by the Public Affairs Forum of India (PAFI), a platform for public affairs professionals in the country, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said that "politics is an instrument of social economic reform".

    He said the growing migration from the rural areas to the cities is a concern and that his government has given the highest priority to rural development. Rural population has come down from about 85 per cent to 55 per cent since Independence, he said.

    "Rural development is crucial to the well-being of the overall Indian economy and the government of India's priority is upliftment of rural infrastructure, and providing quality education, clean drinking water and employment opportunities. Agriculture faces water challenges and we are working towards harnessing our resources by building dams and different kinds of innovative models for effective water conservation," he said.

    Mr Gadkari is also the Minister of Shipping and of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.

    Highlighting the work being done on waterways, the minister sought greater private participation in the upcoming waterway between Varanasi and Haldia, which will be a cost-competitive alternative for exports to neighbouring countries in the east.

    He also said that import cost of aviation fuel can be solved through use of indigenously produced bio-fuel for the aviation industry.

With Climb In UN Human Development Index, India Also Gets A Warning
  • India loses a quarter of its human development value due to inequality, UNDP country head Francine Pickup said over India's ranking of 130 in the human development index.

    Noting that despite overall progress, women continue to be deprived of healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living, Ms Pickup said given the current rate of progress globally, women will have to wait "more than 200 years to achieve equality in workforce".

    "For a country that has made such remarkable progress, pockets of deprivation continue to prevent millions of people from fulfilling their true potential. Women especially continue to have a lower HDI than men, primarily because of fewer opportunities in education and at work," Ms Pickup said in an email interview.

    India climbed one spot to 130 out of 189 countries in the latest human development rankings released Friday by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

    HDI is a summary measure for assessing long-term progress in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.

    India's Human Development Index (HDI) value for 2017 was 0.640, which put the country in the medium human development category, according to the Human Development Report (HDR) released by the UNDP.

    Ms Pickup said inequality and climate change remain big threats for India.

    According to an earlier human development report, the average HDI for South Asia could be 12 per cent lower by 2050, when effects of global warming are considered.

    Climate change is likely to increase migration, displacement and negatively affect livelihoods, she said.

    Deteriorating air quality in major Indian cities and its impacts on human health are also worrying. India also has one of the largest number of people in the world living on degraded land, Ms Pickup said.

    "The solution lies in innovation. The government has shown great leadership in creating an ecosystem that fosters creative thinking and innovation, through initiatives such as the Atal Innovation Mission, Startup India and more.

    "We are confident of India's growth trajectory. With almost a sixth of the world's humanity, the ideas and innovations of tomorrow will come from India," she said.

    However, Ms Pickup said the government is actively working towards removing this disparity between men and women.

    "The success of the Sustainable Development Goals globally hinges on India. India's national development schemes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Swachh Bharat, Make in India and initiatives aimed at universalising school education and healthcare, will be crucial in ensuring that the upward trend in human development accelerates," she said.

No Question Of Engaging Opposition On Rafale Deal: Nirmala Sitharaman
  • Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has ruled out any engagement with the opposition on issues relating to the multi-billion dollar Rafale fighter jet deal, saying they do not deserve to be involved after throwing muck on a very sensitive issue concerning India's defence preparedness.

    Ms Sitharaman said the government decided to go for procuring only two squadrons of Rafale jets as an emergency measure in the wake of China and Pakistan significantly ramping up their air power by inducting stealth fighters.

    "Is there any point of calling them and explaining? They are misleading the country with something which was not even agreed to during the UPA government. You are throwing an allegation saying there is a fraud. You did not care for operational preparedness of the air force," she told PTI in an interview.

    The defence minister was asked whether the government will engage with opposition parties the way the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2005 had taken the opposition into confidence and addressed their apprehensions to pave way for finalising the nuclear deal with the US.

    "It (Rafale deal) is an inter-governmental agreement. You (Opposition) have asked us questions and I have given answers to them in Parliament. Then what am I calling them for? What am I going to tell them when I call them?" she said.

    The defence minister also asserted that the Rafale deal cannot be equated with the Bofors issue at all as was being attempted by the Opposition, as she has rid the defence ministry from middlemen entirely.

    Led by Congress, opposition parties have been attacking the Modi government alleging it is procuring 36 Rafale jets from France at an exorbitantly high cost.

    Congress has said the UPA finalised a price of Rs. 526 crore per fighter while negotiating a deal to buy 126 Rafale jets, but the current government is buying each aircraft at Rs. 1,670 crore when the weapons and avionics onboard the jets will be of same configuration.

    Ms Sitharaman said the weapon systems, avionics and other key add-ons to the Rafale aircraft will be "much superior" in comparison to what was negotiated by the UPA.

    In 2016, the Modi government signed a government-to-government deal with France for purchase of 36 Rafale jets at an estimated cost of Rs. 58,000 crore.

    Asked whether the controversy surrounding Rafale will hit flow of foreign funds into the defence sector, she said it will not have any impact as it is very clear that allegations are baseless.

    Ms Sitharaman also rejected the opposition charge that the government was trying to benefit Reliance Defence Ltd from the deal under the offset requirement, saying the government has no role in selecting an offset partner of Dassault Aviation, the maker of Rafale.

    Under India's offset policy, foreign defence entities are mandated to spend at least 30 per cent of the total contract value in India through procurement of components or setting up of research and development facilities.

    Ms Sitharaman said, officially, she does not know which company Dassault Aviation is partnering with to execute the offset obligations.

    "I have not got to know who is Dassault's offset partner..It is a commercial decision. There are laid down procedure to check the process of fulfilment of offset obligations. Neither I can accept, nor I can suggest, nor I can reject anybody from going with anybody," she said.

    On October 27, last year, Dassault Aviation and Reliance Defence laid the foundation for manufacturing facility near Nagpur to manufacture aerospace components and fulfil offset obligation connected to the Rafale deal.

    The opposition has been asking how RDL, with no experience in aerospace sector, can be chosen as an offset partner while the government has been maintaining that it was officially ignorant of the fact that Dassault has joined hands with RDL to execute offset obligations.

    Rejecting charges of corruption in the Rafale deal, the defence minister said the people of the country have put a closure on this "non-issue" as they have trust in Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India Must Shed 'World's Largest Arms Importer' Tag: Defence Official
  • The secretary in the department of defence production (DP) Ajay Kumar today said India has overtaken China as the world's largest arms importer and should shed the tag.

    He said the public-private partnership in defence in the country is being encouraged to step up arms exports and licensing system in some items that had been liberalised.

    "India is the world's largest arms importer, a place which earlier belonged to China", he said over video conference from Delhi at a seminar organised by Bharat Chamber of Commerce on Friday.

    Mr Kumar said, "If China could (reduce dependence on imports productions) then why cannot India"?

    Citing the instance of Mexico, he said the central American country has established a huge aero-manufacturing base and exports to the US and Europe.

    According to MR Kumar, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council are responsible for 74 per cent of the global arms trade. "What part of that pie we need to have?" he asked, adding that many countries were willing to buy arms from India.

    Mr Kumar said that testing infrastructure would be set up for the private sector also.

    Former chief of Air Staff Arup Raha said, "unfortunately India continues to depend on imports for high-end weapon systems".

Business Affairs

India's exports rise at fastest pace in 3 months in Aug; trade deficit narrows to $17.4 bn
  • India's exports rose at the fastest pace in three months to reach $27.84 billion in August on account of healthy growth in petroleum products, engineering, pharma, and gems and jewellery shipments.

    Imports too grew by 25.41 per cent in August to $45.24 billion due to costlier crude oil shipments.

    In August, the growth rate in overseas shipments touched a three-month high of 19.21 per cent. Earlier in May, exports had recorded a growth of 20.18 per cent.

    Trade deficit during the month narrowed to $17.4 billion as against $12.72 billion in the same month last year, according to the data released by the commerce ministry Friday. In July, the trade deficit soared to a near five-year high of $18.02 billion.

    Exports of petroleum products, engineering, pharma and gems and jewellery in August rose by 43.25 per cent, 31.81 per cent, 28.52 per cent and 34.76 per cent respectively.

    Oil imports in August grew by 51.62 per cent to $11.83 billion and non-oil imports were up by 18.17 per cent to $33.41 billion.

    Gold imports in August jumped by 92.62 per cent to $3.64 billion. The continuous fall in the value of domestic currency appears to be helping exports.

    During April-August this fiscal, the exports recorded a growth of 16.13 per cent to $136.09 billion, while imports during the first five months of this fiscal grew by 17.34 per cent to $216.43 billion.

    Trade deficit during the period widened to $80.35 billion as against $67.27 billion in the same period last year.

    Oil imports during April-August this fiscal grew by 53.35 per cent to $58.81 billion and non-oil imports were up by 7.84 per cent to $157.62 billion.

    The high trade deficit is one of the factors that dragged the rupee to below 70 levels.

    The rupee touched an all-time low of 72.91 on September 12. Today it closed at 71.84 against the dollar.

10 years of the Great Recession! These experts believe next financial bubble is about to burst
  • This month marks 10 years of the 2008 financial market crash. This was time when America's one of the largest banks, Lehman Brothers, filed for the biggest bankruptcies of all time on the back of bad mortgages. The collapse of Lehman Brothers set off a chain reaction in the United States, which soon spread across the global markets and shattered the world economy. With the fall of financial institutions and housing markets, stock markets plunged to historic lows globally. As global companies went bankrupt, the world saw unprecedented level of unemployment. Ten years down the line, some believe the financial bubble may burst again, blaming governments of doing little address structural issues facing the world economy. Here are quotes from experts who believe the next Great Recession could strike anytime soon.

    If the there is a shock -- and I think everyone feels that there is some kind of shock coming from somewhere, you know it's one of the biggest bull runs we have had in a long time -- selling out those ETF positions and in particular the bonds, the bond market, if there is a rush to the door, a rush to the exit, it's going to be very difficult for the market to take the weight of all that selling.

    -- Michael Horan, Director, BNY Mellon's Pershing

    As soon as next year. The next recession is really frightening because we don't have any stabilisers. We are replaying an age-old storyline of financial bubbles that has been played many times before.

    -- Paul Tudor Jones, Founder, The Tudor Group (hedge fund boss who predicted 1987 crash)

    Earnings growth north of 20 per cent isn't sustainable, especially when you're nine years into an economic expansion.

    -- Ed Clissold, Chief US Strategist for Ned Davis Research

    Imminent. There is surely a doozy just around the bend. The market is whistling past the graveyard.

    -- David Stockman, former director, Office of Management and Budget under ex-US president Reagan

    By 2020. I think we are in a pre-bubble stage that could go into a bubble stage.

    -- Ray Dalio, Founder, Investment Firm Bridgewater Associates

    It's anyone's guess. But when the bear does emerge from hibernation, expect a market loss on the order of 60 per cent.

    -- Investor John Hussman

    A great liquidity crisis will hit financial markets, marked by flash crashes in stock prices and social unrest.

    -- Marko Kolanovic, JP Morgan's top quant

No need for govt approval to decide pay of top bosses in public companies
  • In line with the Modi government's promise of minimum government, maximum governance policy, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs yesterday announced that public sector companies will no longer need the government's nod for handing out fat pay cheques to its top brass. As per official data, there are more than 70,000 public companies.

    The approval of the "central government shall no longer be required for the payment of remuneration to managerial personnel [in excess of 11% of the net profit of a company]," the ministry said in a release. The ministry added that in such cases, only the approval of shareholders-at least 75% vote-by way of a special resolution would be required. The amended norms have come into effect from September 12.

    The Companies Act sets certain limits regarding pay for the managerial personnel of public companies, which are generally subject to stricter corporate governance requirements and have more than 200 members.

    The limits are calculated against a company's net profit. The cap is 1% for non-executive directors put together but it can go up to 3% subject to certain conditions. For whole time directors and managing directors, their total pay can be up to 10%. Combining both, the total remuneration limit would be 11%. Till now, any payment of managerial remuneration in excess of this cap required the ministry's approval and the revised norms do away with it.

    There's one important pre-condition. In case a company has defaulted on its dues to any bank, financial institution or non-convertible debenture holders, the approval of the concerned lender would be required before the remuneration proposal is put up to the shareholders.

    With this development, the ministry said "all pending applications submitted to the ministry for approval of proposals for payment of managerial remuneration in excess of the limits laid down, would automatically abate and companies are free to obtain requisite approvals for those proposals, from the shareholders within one year".

    It added that all the relevant changes have also been notified to Schedule V of the Companies Act that mainly pertains to eligibility and remuneration of directors. Now, as per the revised norms, the MR-2 e-form need to be filed only for appointment of managerial personnel, no longer for remuneration issues.

    Talking about the amended norms, Corporate Affairs Secretary Injeti Srinivas said that the revised norms would allow shareholders to make "rational and viable decision" with respect to managerial remuneration. The long-awaited and much-cheered move is aimed at providing ease of doing business to the law-abiding corporates of this country.

Patanjali will not necessarily have an edge in the dairy industry
  • Though the early part of this year saw the French yogurt maker, Danone, exit India, the last couple of months have been action-packed for the Rs 100,000 crore Indian dairy industry. While Parag Milk Foods acquired Danone's milk production facility in Punjab, global dairy major, Fonterra, re-entered India by partnering with the Future Group.

    Fonterra had partnered with Britannia a decade ago, which had hit a roadblock. Britannia has launched its own milk collection centre near Pune, while ITC Foods, apart from announcing its entry into milk based beverages, also launched liquid milk in Bihar under the brand name, Aashirvaad Svasti. The newest kid in the block is none other than Patanjali Ayurved.

    As always, the FMCG upstart has an ambitious plan for dairy too. The founder of the company, Baba Ramdev, is targeting sales to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore by 2020, and daily sales would be around 10 lakh litres. The yoga guru-turned entrepreneur also claims to have their own collection centres and chilling centres across North India. Just as it did with its other products, Patanjali Milk would also be sold Rs 2 lesser (Rs 40) than the MRP (Rs 42) of other brands.

    A procurement of its own will surely help the company in scaling up the business and ensuring quality. Most of the recent dairy entrants have realised that procurement is key to success in India, and have been investing on procurement facilities. But will Patanjali have an edge over ITC or Nestle in the dairy business? R.S. Sodhi, Chairman, Amul, gives a safe answer by saying that any company with a good enough distribution might and their own procurement system can be successful in the dairy business. "If more organised players come in it will be good for the industry and for the farmers."

    But in the case of Patanjali, the concern is that their foray into multiple categories could lead to a loss of focus. In fact, the company, after growing exponentially in the past few years experienced flat growth in the last fiscal. Though Ramdev and his Co-Founder, Acharya Balkrishna, blame it on economic policies such as GST, FMCG experts believe that a lot of the flat growth has been due to their entry into too many categories and consequent dilution of focus. Patanjali's sales in several modern retail stores have dipped and one of the major reasons for this has been the controversies around the quality of their products. In fact, the company, which was known to be dictatorial with retailers is reportedly caving in to their demand of selling their products at deep discounts.

    Patanjali will definitely have to work harder to make a dent on competition growth in the dairy sector. Talking on why the dairy sector has been the centre of action, Sodhi of Amul says, "Dairy has become attractive to the private sector as the price of raw milk has dipped by Rs 6 to Rs 10 in the last couple of years. The prices have gone down, but the production has increased and consumption has also increased." However, this situation says Sodhi, may not last for too long. "The milk powder exports had gone down but with several State Governments giving export incentives for milk powder, the unused inventory will reduce and the farmers will get paid more," he adds.

    The good news certainly is that with more companies entering the fray, the consumer will be spoilt for choice.

Indian CEOs' salaries increase at faster rate than companies' profit, says report
  • The salaries of Indian CEOs and promoters have seen a rise of around 19.3 per cent per year as compared to average corporate earnings, which grew at 13 per cent, in the past three years. While the overall salaries of employees grew at just 10 per cent a year, the honchos of these listed companies accounted for top-earning heads. The CEOs are prospering in India but there has been no corresponding trickle-down effect. Average salaries of employees in even highly prosperous companies are not increasing the way CEO emoluments are.

    A report published in Business Standard cites a survey saying CEOs' salaries increased by whopping 20.4 per cent in FY 18, 13 per cent in FY 17, and 21.6 per cent in FY17. The survey was conducted by evaluating financial details of as many as 172 listed companies, which offered annual compensation of Rs 10 crore or more to their CEOs or promoters. In the past three years, the net sales of the surveyed companies grew at an average of 12.9 per cent, 8 per cent, and -5.5 per cent, respectively. Operating profit of these companies also failed to achieve the similar growth as the salaries of their CEOs and promoters. While these companies achieved operating profits of 15.2 per cent, 14.7 per cent and 3.9 per cent in FY18, FY17 and FY16, growth in their companies' net profit also fell short of the earnings compared to their top bosses.

    Experts suggest it shows promoter-CEOs are brazenly taking care of themselves, and pay themselves whatever they feel they can get away with. They suggest companies should decide about their CEOs' salaries considering all financial parameters. Some, however, also feel that additional pressures on Indian CEOs - compared to their Western counterparts - justify their high remuneration.

    HR experts say there is no direct correlation between a company's profits and its professional CEO's total compensation. "A significant amount of compensation is linked to the individual's potential in the eyes of the company's board, how it views his/her ability to turn around the company and lead it in the future," they believe.

    Top six Indian CEOs who are earning highest annual salaries in India, include CP Gurnani, Managing Director and CEO of Tech Mahindra (Rs 146.1 crore), AM Naik, Group Chairman, Larsen and Toubro (Rs 137.2 crore) Kalanithi Maran (Rs 87.5 crore), Executive Chairman, SUN TV, Kavery Kalanithi (Rs 87.7 crore), Executive Director, Sun TV, Pawan Munjal (Rs 75.4 crore), CMD and CEO, Hero MotoCorp, Sajjan Jindal (Rs 60.5 crore), CMD, JSW Steel/JSW Energy.

General Awareness

    District Disability Rehabilitation Centre (DDRC)
    • What to study?

      For Prelims: Key features of DDRC.
      For Mains: Significance, objectives and roles of DDRC.

      Context: The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment is organising a ‘National Conference of District Disability Rehabilitation Centres’.

      The participants in this one day conference include District Magistrates of 263 districts were DDRCs have been set up, Principal Secretaries Social Welfare, reputed NGOs, District Social Welfare officers, eminent Doctors etc.
      The conference is organized for taking the message of DDRCs further, which play a crucial and central role for the wellbeing of Divyangjan and to give clarification about the mechanism of schemes and disseminate its success stories.

      About DDRC:

      District Disability Rehabilitation Centre (DDRC) provide comprehensive services to persons with disabilities and facilitate creation of infrastructure and capacity building at the district level for awareness generation, rehabilitation and training of rehabilitation professionals.

      The District Disability Rehabilitation Centres are set up under the Plan Scheme- “Scheme for implementation of Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995 (SIPDA).” 310 districts have been identified and 263 DDRCs have been set up.

      Objectives of the District Disability Rehabilitation Centres are as under:

      Awareness generation, early intervention and assessment of the need of assistive devices to divyangjans.
      Therapeutic services such as Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy etc. to divyangjans through rehabilitation professionals.
      Equipment for rehabilitation services.

      Role of State Government:

      State Governments are expected to play a more pro-active role in the effective working of DDRCs. In order to ensure greater involvement of State/District Administration, the State Government may suitably supplement the honorarium and other requirements of the DDRCs for undertaking their various activities in an effective manner.
      State Governments may authorized District Collectors in their capacity as Chairperson of DMT, to make minor modifications for effective functioning of DDRCs, considering the ground realities within the broad stipulation of the DDRC Scheme.
      State Government may also authorize the District Collectors to make interim advances out of the local funds placed at their disposal to tide over the difficulties caused in the field due to procedural delays in release of central funds.

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