Current Affairs Current Affairs - 25 September 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 25 September 2018

General Affairs 

Not Interfering With Citizen's List Update, Says Assam Government
  • The Assam government on Monday denied allegations that it was interfering with the NRC update process for excluding people's names, saying no genuine Indians would be left out.

    It will be ensured that no foreigner's name is included in the update exercise of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), state Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said in the Assembly.

    He was speaking on behalf of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who holds the home portfolio. Mr Sonowal has categorically said all Indian citizens' names would be included.

    Allaying fears of exclusion of people's names from the citizen's register, Mr Patowary termed it "false". The people, whose names did not figure in the NRC final draft, are entitled to file claims and objections as due opportunities are available before publication of the final citizen's register, he said during the Question Hour.

    Responding to the allegation by the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) MLA Aminul Islam that the government was interfering with the NRC process by referring names to the foreigners' tribunals, the minister said the citizens register was being updated under the Supreme Court's direct supervision and there was no question of any interference.

    "Under the MHA's (ministry of home affairs) instruction the Assam government has issued directions to all the SPs and DCs that no action for fresh inquiry or reference to tribunals should be initiated by the administration or police till the final NRC is published."

    The tribunals, however, may issue notices regarding the cases referred to it before the publication of the final NRC draft, Mr Patowary said.

    He also informed the House that the state government had filed two affidavits in the Supreme Court to accept the earlier-mentioned 15 documents during the claims-and-objection process, instead of new guidelines of 10 documents only.

    On the Congress and AIUDF seeking removal of NRC state coordinator Prateek Hajela, Patowary expressed helplessness, saying he had been instructed by the apex court not to share any information regarding NRC with the legislators, judiciary and executives.

    "Hajela had recently submitted a letter to the SC in a sealed envelope. We do not know what is there. We have requested the Supreme Court to share information with us as law and order is a state subject. It is a very sensitive subject," he added.

    The assembly witnessed some noisy scenes during the discussion over alleged harassment of people over proving of their citizenship. The Opposition pointed out a few cases, where some people were harassed by the tribunal authorities, but Patowary termed them "rare".

    He informed that 4,55,976 cases of 'D' (doubtful) voters have been referred to the tribunals till December 2017.

    From January-April this year, a total of 1,079 cases have been forwarded by the border police and the total number of 'D' voters in the draft electoral roll published on September 15 is 1,19,559, he added.

Ahead Of Polls Army, Top Cops Review Security In Jammu And Kashmir
  • Ahead of the local bodies and Panchayat elections, Jammu and Kashmir's Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh and the valley's top army official Lt Gen A K Bhatt today, reviewed the security situation, at a meeting in Handwara of Kupwara district of the state.
    "The DGP and GOC 15 Corps Lt Gen Bhatt held a joint security review with the officers of Army, BSF, CRPF and police in the district police lines, Handwara," a police spokesman said.

    Addressing the officers, the DGP emphasised that the existing cooperation and synergy between different forces is to be further strengthened to combat the terrorism and also to ensure smooth conduct of the local governance elections.

    Mr Singh expressed happiness that the synergy exhibited by the security forces at the ground level is the best model of success for any force. "Irrespective of the colour of uniforms, all forces are doing their best in service of the nation," he said.

    The DGP said improvement in the situation has been made possible by the sacrifices and good work of all the forces.

    "The anti-infiltration operations on borders by the Army have proved very successful as a number of terrorists who were infiltrating into the State were killed," he said hailing the role of the CRPF in assisting the police in maintaining law and order.

    While addressing a darbar of all police ranks of the district, the DGP also appreciated the efforts made by police in maintaining law and order in the state. 

    Acknowledging the sacrifices made by police in the line of duty, he assured the Jawans that government is taking all possible measures for the welfare of the Jawans.

    Mr Singh thanked the government for enhancement of ex-gratia relief for the personnel of J&K police and SPOs in the recent time.

    The meeting was also attended by GOC Kilo Force Maj Gen D P Pandey, IGP CRPF Zulfikar Hassan, IGP Kashmir Zone S P Pani, SP Handwara Ashish Mishra and Commandants of Army and CRPF.

After Hollande's Rafale "Clarification", No Room For Doubt: Rajnath Singh
  • With the NDA government under attack from the Congress on Rafale deal, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said that following "clarifications" from former French president Francois Hollande, there is no room for any doubt in the matter.

    He also accused the Congress of trying to gain political mileage over the issue with an eye on the Lok Sabha elections next year.

    "The opposition does not have any issue left so it is raking up Rafale deal issue," the home minister told reporters after a meeting of the Central Zonal Council.

    "After clarifications from Hollande there is no room for any doubt about the deal. The Congress is making it an issue to gain political mileage in 2019 Lok Sabha polls," Singh said.

    Francois Hollande, who was French president when the Rs. 58,000 crore deal was announced, was quoted as saying by French publication 'Mediapart' that France was given "no choice" on selection of the Indian partner for Dassault and the Indian government proposed the name of Reliance as offset partner for the French aerospace giant.

    AFP reported that Francois Hollande told it on the sidelines of a meeting in Canada on Friday that France "did not choose Reliance in any way". When asked whether India had put pressure on Reliance and Dassault to work together, Francois Hollande said he was unaware and "only Dassault can comment on this".

    The Centre on Saturday had asserted that it did not have any role in the selection of Reliance Defence as a partner for Dassault while France said it was in "no manner" involved in the choice of any Indian industrial associate for the contract.

    On Kashmir issue, Mr Singh said, "I think the matter will be resolved. The problem is not increasing. We are ready to talk to everyone. As far as terrorism is concerned, all security agencies are working in coordination."

    "Terrorism in Kashmir is Pakistan-sponsored," he said.

    About the issues raised in the zonal council meeting, the home minister said that out of 22 points, 20 have been resolved, adding in the last four years, in 12 meetings, 680 issues were discussed of which 428 were resolved.

    Besides Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand Chief Ministers Yogi Adityanath and Trivedra Singh Rawat respectively, the meeting was attended by representatives from Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh as well.

    The Central Zonal Council comprises Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand. The council's meeting aims at addressing common concerns of the participating states and settling cross-border concerns, if any.

    Five Zonal Councils -- central, western, northern, southern and eastern -- were established under the States Reorganisation Act, 1956. 

"Naxal Supporters Will Soon Be Neutralised": Chhattisgarh Chief Minister
  • Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh Monday said his government is making efforts through development projects to "soon neutralise" the ideological and financial support Maoists receive from sympathisers from Raipur to Delhi.

    In an interview to PTI, the longest-serving BJP chief minister outlined several development-related activities, including those being undertaken in the state's Maoist-affected Bastar region.

    Mr Singh also exuded confidence of a  consecutive fourth victory for the BJP in the upcoming Assembly polls in the state.

    Polls for the 90-member Chhattisgarh Assembly are due this year-end.

    The chief minister said his government has been working on a plan to completely eliminate maoism from the state since 2003 and that the strategy is showing results. 

    "We have brought development in most (of the naxal-affected) areas and more than that we have been able to win the people's trust. Naxals are getting discouraged and Naxals activities are going down," he said.

    Referring to Maoists sympathisers, Mr Singh said maoists have got a very strong support system from Raipur to Delhi.

    "I feel the kind of support that is given Naxals and their ideology is very strong. They make big lawyers who take up their cases. So, they are economically strong too.

    "There are people of their (naxals) ideology who support them, from high courts to the Supreme Court (referring to some providing legal aid to them)," the chief minister said.

    He, however, expressed confidence that these sympathisers will soon be "neutralised".

    "Like the naxals are getting weaker, they (sympathisers) will also become weak. This fight (to check naxalites and their supporters) is of Chhattisgarh and other states.

    "We are getting successful (in checking naxal activities) and this support system will soon be neutralised," Mr Singh said.

    He also lamented that some human rights supporters are opposing action against maoists.

    "They make noise of human rights violation. They had come to me also. I asked them whether the human rights are of naxalites alone or of the common people also. They (naxals) abduct their children, girls and destroy schools.

    "They are the biggest violators of human rights as they keep the whole area (of their influence) captive. Why you (sympathisers and human rights defenders) don't speak then? You only think of them (naxals) only?" Mr Singh said.

    His assertion assumes significance as some human rights defenders were arrested last month from different parts of the country, including one Chhattisgarh-based activist, by state police forces. The Supreme Court is hearing a case on a plea made by a historian challenging the arrests.

    Talking about the upcoming Assembly polls in the state, Mr Singh said the BJP is confident of its victory and all set to form government after the elections.

    "The experience of the last three elections tells us that we will be in a better position in this poll. BJP chief (Amit Shah) has decided a target of 65 plus seats in the state.

    "We all are set to achieve that. Our workers up to the booth level are doing their jobs. We are sure that we will get a big victory this time," the chief minister said.

    Mr Singh, who has been the chief minister of the state since December 2003, rejected suggestions that there was anti-incumbency against his administration.

    "Sensing, somewhat, a little mood of anti-incumbency in some areas, we started a mass contact programme. We visited different parts of the state and heard the people's grievances, if any, and provided on the spot solution to them. 

    "So, whatever little concern or problem they had from the administration, we have already provided solutions to them. Hence, no such (anti-incumbency) feeling exist," he said.

    The chief minister said the BJP is approaching the people with a promise and vision to make a 'New Chhattisgarh' by 2025.

    "When Chhattisgarh turns 25 (in 2025), our GDP will be doubled, farmers' income will be doubled. We will ensure 100 per cent literacy in the state.

    "We are creating an educational hub in the worst naxal-affected Bastar region to Sarguja, and providing all possible support to the farmers of the state," Mr Singh said, outlining plans to approach voters ahead of the Assembly polls.

Differences With Rahul Gandhi Are Political, Not Personal: Rajnath Singh
  • Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said the BJP's differences with Congress President Rahul Gandhi were "political and nor personal" in nature.

    Speaking at an interactive event at a management institute in Lucknow, his Lok Sabha constituency, Mr Singh said the Bharatiya Janata Party always believed in differing on political and ideological issues and never took things to personal level.

    Asked by a student about Rahul Gandhi's increasing number of visits to temples, the Minister said this was done keeping in mind the 2019 parliamentary polls.

    When a student asked him on the growing perception that India was leaning towards the US, he said New Delhi's foreign policy was guided by the traditional credo of "Na kahu se dosti, na kahu se bair" (Friend of none and enemy of none). 

    "We want good relationship with all countries," he added.

    Queried about the government's stand on the contentious Section 370 of the Constitution, which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the Minister appeared to fumble for a while and then asked the student who had asked her to raise this question.

    "If I utter a word on this, it will become international news... You should wait... Some decisions have to be taken with great seriousness and deliberations."

    Rajnath Singh quickly added that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India and will always remain one. "Nobody can take away the state from us."

Business Affairs

Corporate Affairs Ministry likely to deregister another 50,000 companies this fiscal
  • Amid intensified efforts to curb illicit fund flows, the government expects to de-register another 50,000 companies this fiscal. These firms have not been carrying out business activities for long, according to a senior official.

    The names of more than 2.26 lakh companies have already been struck off from official records and almost an equal number has been identified for further action.

    In 2018-19, the Corporate Affairs Ministry has identified nearly 2.26 lakh companies for continuously not submitting requisite filings for two or more years.

    A senior ministry official said that around 70,000 companies that have not been carrying out business activities for long have been deregistered so far in the current fiscal.

    Another 50,000 such entities are expected to be deregistered during this financial year, the official added. The fiscal ends on March 31, 2019.

    Last month, Minister of State for Corporate Affairs P P Chaudhary said Registrars of Companies (RoCs) have identified around 2.26 lakh companies which have not filed their financial statements or annual returns for a continuous period of two or more financial years.

    Exclusion of companies from the records would be done by the RoCs as per the rules and that it is a continuous exercise, he had said.

    Section 248 of the Companies Act -- implemented by the ministry -- provides powers to strike off names of companies from the register on various grounds, including for being inactive for long.

    There are concerns that shell entities are being used as conduits for illegal fund flows.

IL&FS crises deepens, financial services arm defaults on CP
  • For the third time in a month, crippled infrastructure conglomerate IL&FS Financial Services on Monday defaulted on interest payments on commercial papers.

    The interest payment on the papers were due Monday, the company informed the exchanges.

    The company said it will not be able to access commercial papers market for up to six months from the date of repayment of this obligation.

    The company did not quantify the default amount.

    "The commercial papers which were due on September 24, could not be serviced by the company," the company said in a BSE filing.

    Last Friday, its managing director and chief executive Ramesh C Bawa and some key board members had resigned amid crisis in the IL&FS group for alleged defaults in loan payments and corporate governance issues.

    The infrastructure conglomerate has come under the scanner of multiple regulators, including Sebi, for alleged defaults related to financial disclosures and corporate governance.

    Earlier this month, it came to light that IL&FS group defaulted on a short-term loan of Rs 1,000 crore from Sidbi, while a subsidiary has also defaulted Rs 500 crore dues to the development finance institution.

    While IL&FS group has a consolidated debt of Rs 91,000 crore with IL&FS alone having nearly Rs 35,000 crore, IL&FS Financial Services Rs 17,000 crore, which sits as standard asset for most of the lenders, according to a Nomura India report.

Five factors why Sensex fell 536 points, Nifty closed below 11,000 level today
  • The Sensex and Nifty closed nearly 1.5% lower in trade today amid a depreciating rupee, rising crude oil prices and selling pressure on stocks of non-banking financial companies (NBFCs).  On the global front, China reportedly rebuffed a plan for talks with the US on resolving their dispute over trade and technology which roiled Asian stocks.

    While the Sensex closed 536 points or 1.46% lower to 36,305, the Nifty lost 175 points or 1.58% to trade at 10,967 level.

    This is the weakest closing since July 11 when it settled at 36,265.93. The index has lost 1,249.04 points in the previous four sessions.

    Sentiments remained distinctly weak in sync with declining global markets as the intensifying dispute between the world's two biggest economies has spooked financial markets worried about the fallout on global growth, brokers said.

    YES Bank fell by another 0.35 per cent, taking its total losses to more than 29 per cent after the RBI curtailed the term of its founding CEO Rana Kapoor.

    Mustafa Nadeem, CEO at Epic Research said, "At present, market is still in a panic mode, to simply put it, VIX is up 15% at 17.8 levels. The Algo models were quickly able to identify and created sell side positions in the NBFC sector and we saw what happened to many stocks in that space. Financial services and banks were also caught in this brutal sell-off. 

    Those levels of fear were seen back in January last week or February 1st week when volatility spiked and the global markets saw a major sell-off. So here at present levels something we can relate to is happening and going forward this may call in for a sector rotation, deleveraging in a stretched valuations market and liquidating as well. So we may continue to see declines interrupted with some minor pullbacks. A consolidation should be seen between 10800 - 11200  while all the above-mentioned things happen.

    Nifty may see some minor consolidation with pullbacks going ahead though this will be a transition phase for bears. We continue to remain to sell on advances as a strategy."

    On Friday, the Sensex closed at 36,841.60, down 279.62 points. It saw an intra-day swing of 1,495.60 points.

    The broader NSE Nifty shed 91.25 points to finish at 11,143.10.

    Rupee fall
    IT stocks were the top gainers on the Sensex as rupee touched 72.73 level against the dollar. The currency fell 29 paise to 72.49 level against the dollar in early trade. The currency ended 43 paise lower at 72.63 level to the dollar in trade today. The domestic unit had closed 17 paise higher at 72.20 against the dollar on Friday on sustained selling of the American currency even as local equities witnessed a high volatility.

    TCS (4.51%), Coal India (2.10%) and Infosys (1.56%) were the top Sensex gainers.  In fact, the TCS stock hit its all-time high of 2,214 in trade today reaping benefits of a decline in home currency.

    Top losers on the index were M&M (6.46%), HDFC (6.22%) and IndusInd Bank (4.94%).

    Brent crude prices hit $80 per barrel

    Meanwhile, brent crude oil price hit $80 per barrel mark in trade today. Aviation stocks were down 4-6 percent on the back of rise in oil prices. Oil prices rose about 2 percent on Monday as markets tightened ahead of Washington's new sanctions against Iran, with some traders forecasting a spike in crude to $100 per barrel.

    Oil prices could rise to $100 a barrel by 2019, warned merchants. Oil prices could rise towards $100 per barrel by 2019 as US sanctions against Iran tighten markets, commodity merchants Trafigura and Mercuria said.

    Non-banking finance companies fall

    Stocks of non banking finance companies closed lower in trade today. The Dewan Housing Finance stock closed 11.79% or 41.45 points higher at 393 level today.  On Friday, the stock crashed 42.43 per cent to end at Rs 351.55 on the BSE. Intra-day, it tanked 59.67 per cent to Rs 246.25-its 52-week low.

    Bajaj Finance fell 5.25%, Gruh Finance 5.88%, Cholamandalam Investment and Finance 7.15%, Edelweiss Financial Services 8.43%, Indiabulls Housing Finance 7.57%, Repco Home Finance 5.30%, GIC Housing Finance 5.36% and PNB Housing Finance closed 7.56% lower on concerns among investors over shortage of liquidity in these firms.

    "There are liquidity concerns ... financial stocks led the rally and now they are dragging the markets and it has a domino effect on sectors such as real estate and autos," said AK Prabhakar, head of research at IDBI Capital.

    "There is a lack of trust in the markets. Take the IL&FS case - when a AAA rated company is suddenly downgraded, how can people trust rating agencies," said Prabhakar.

    Auto, banking stocks crash 

    Meanwhile, auto and banking indices led the fall with the BSE auto index closing 872  points lower at 22,402 points. The BSE bankex too fell 679 points to 28,022 level. The bank Nifty too slipped 2.45% or 626.55 points to 24,970 level. Auto stocks were hit by petrol and diesel prices hitting all time high today.

    In Mumbai, petrol prices crossed the Rs 90-mark for the first time ever as a dip in the value of rupee and rise in international oil prices pushed rates across the country to new all-time high. The fuel now costs Rs 90.08 at Indian Oil Corp (IOC) outlets in the city while it is priced at Rs 90.17 at Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) outlets and Rs 90.14 at Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) stations.

    Petrol prices were hiked by 11 paise per litre and diesel by 5 paise, according to price notification of state-owned oil firms.

    The hike pushed petrol price in Delhi to Rs 82.72 per litre and diesel to Rs 74.02.While the BSE midcap index closed 2.40% lower at 15,221, small cap index fell 2.72% at 15,333 in trade today.

    Market breadth was negative with 538 stocks closing higher compared with 2111 stocks falling on the BSE.

    US-China trade tensions

    China and the United States imposed new tariff hikes on each other's goods on Monday and Beijing accused Washington of bullying, giving no sign of compromise in an intensifying battle over technology that is weighing on global economic growth. There was no sign that proposed trade talks between Washington and Beijing would go ahead.

    US regulators went ahead with a planned 10 percent tax on a $200 billion list of 5,745 Chinese imports including bicycles and furniture. China's customs agency said it responded at noon by beginning to collect taxes of 5 or 10 percent on a $60 billion list of 5,207 American goods, from honey to industrial chemicals.

    The conflict stems from US President Donald Trump's complaints Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.

    Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 1.6 percent to 27,499.39 and Australia's S&P ASX 200 edged 0.1 percent lower to 6,186.90. Markets in Japan, South Korea, Shanghai and elsewhere in the region were closed for national holidays.

    Germany's DAX fell 0.4 percent to 12,382.50 and the CAC 40 in France lost 0.3 percent to 5,479.86. The FTSE 100 in Britain lost 0.2 percent to 7,472.33. The futures contracts for the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 both fell 0.2 percent, auguring a slow start on Wall Street.

BofAML ups CAD forecast to 2.8% in FY19 on rising crude prices
  • Expecting oil prices to slide further, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) on Monday widened its current account deficit (CAD) estimate by 0.20 per cent to 2.8 per cent of GDP for fiscal year 2018-19.

    The widening current account gap is one of the major concerns which is putting pressure on the rupee, which has depreciated 13 per cent against dollar this year.

    Brent breached the $80 per barrel mark on Monday and analysts at the American brokerage said they expect it to go up further to $95 by June 2019, which will put pressure on the current account.

    "We raise CAD forecasts by 0.20 per cent to 2.8 per cent of GDP in FY19 and by 0.10 per cent to 2.9 per cent in FY20 with our oil strategists hiking Brent forecasts,"it said.

    The country's CAD widened to $15.8 billion or 2.4 per cent of the GDP for the first quarter.

    The brokerage added that a foreign currency swap window for oil marketing companies (OMCs), the largest consumer for dollars, is also unlikely to help and voted in favour of tapping into the diaspora by doing a NRI bond issue.

    "We do not think it is possible for the RBI to set up a forex swap window to fund oil imports by OMCs with our oil strategists seeing $95 per barrel by June 2019," it said.

    The NRI bonds option has been successfully utilised thrice in past instances of rupee depreciation.

    Adverse trade seasonality and the scheduled general elections are other challenges for the country's external sector, according to the brokerage.

    It said it is "scarcely possible" for the RBI to pre-commit to swap $8 billion a month when $25-30 billion of forex intervention would push down forex reserves to the eight-month import cover, on FY20 basis, that it sees as "critical" for rupee stability.

    If foreign portfolio flows do not revive and the US-China trade war escalates, the brokerage feels the RBI will have to sell another $10-15 billion by March itself to fund FY19 CAD forecast of 2.8 per cent of GDP.

    Upping the foreign currency inflow through NRI bonds is also a better option than hiking rates, it said.

    In order to stem the rupee depreciation, the brokerage said the government and the apex bank can potentially take measures like hiking rates at the next policy review, operational measures like curtailing net open positions and rebooking of cancelled forwards or hiking the cost of trade finance and also tariff hikes.

Indian refiners plan to reduce oil imports in the face of rising Brent, falling rupee
  • The tax department has slapped ONGC Videsh Ltd a service tax demand of Rs 7,666.10 crore on remittance the firm makes to its overseas subsidiaries for past one decade, sources in know of the development said.

    OVL, the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), has stakes in 41 projects in 20 countries spanning from Venezuela to New Zealand. For the operations of these projects, the local units and joint ventures would raise a demand for money on the parent, OVL, which would transmit the funds.

    The service tax department now contends that the overseas units are rendering a service to OVL and as such the company is liable to pay service India's oil import bill stood at $11.83 billion in August, as per oil ministry data. That's a 15% jump month-on-month and nearly 52% higher than the oil bill in August 2017. With Brent beginning to boil again while the rupee continues to fall against the dollar, the outlook on oil is far from optimistic for the country, which imports over 80% of its oil needs. In fact, India is the world's third-biggest oil importer.

    So Indian refinery officials reportedly met in Mumbai to brainstorm options for dealing with the situation on September 15. "One of the immediate steps that the refiners are considering is to reduce crude purchases for a short time and reduce our inventory," a source who attended the meeting told Reuters.

    Earlier today Brent crude hit $80.47 per barrel, its highest peak since May, and an uptick of around 30% from its low for the year on February 13. However, in rupee terms, the oil price has gained 46% since then as the Indian currency has been steadily depreciating and Indian refiners pay for their crude in dollars.

    The refinery officials' plan to cut imports illustrates that rising crude prices and emerging market currency weakness may start causing oil demand to decline in a number of markets that have so far seen healthy crude consumption.

    "State refiners normally maintain up to a month-long inventory which include crude in the storage, pipeline and in transit to India. Reducing inventory will help reducing the costly imports and, thereby, reduce the demand for dollars," R.K. Singh, a former chairman of Bharat Petroleum Corp (BPCL), told the agency. He explained that the entire process of reducing the inventory has to be done in a coordinated manner among the refiners to ensure that there are adequate supplies of the product in the market to meet the local demand.

    While using up crude inventories could save Indian refiners short-term import costs, the inherent risk is that if prices do not ease subsequently, the companies will end up with a fatter oil bill in the future. Despite this risk, the sources said that the Indian government supports the plan.

    After all, state refiners have opted for this strategy in the past, too. According to Singh, in 2013, BPCL had halved its crude inventories to an average of 15 days of supply for its operations, when the rupee declined to below 68 to the dollar and oil prices were over $100 per barrel.

    Worryingly, oil prices seem to be headed there. Commodity traders Trafigura and Mercuria recently said that the international crude oil benchmark could rise to $90 per barrel by Christmas and pass $100 early next year amid tightening global supplies.

    On the one hand, US sanctions against Iran, the third-largest producer in OPEC, are scheduled to kick off in November. According to JP Morgan, the sanctions on Iran could lead to a knock out of 1.5 million bpd from the market. On the other, unplanned disruptions from Venezuela, Libya and Nigeria have further tightened the market, just as global demand approaches 100 million bpd for the first time. The US financial institution added that it expects Brent to average $85 per barrel over the next six months.

    Although the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as well as top producer Russia are discussing raising output to counter falling supply from Iran, no decision has been made public yet. So the domestic refineries will have to take a call on their plan to reduce oil purchases sooner rather than later.

General Awareness

    Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha
    • What to study?

      For Prelims and Mains: About the Sabha, its objectives, significance.

      Context: The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, inaugurated the centenary celebrations of the Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha on September 22, 2018.

      About Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha:

      The organisation was established by Annie Besant in 1918 with support from Mahatma Gandhi, who became the founder president of the Sabha, who held the post till his death.
      In 1964, the institution was recognised by the Indian Government as one of the Institutes of National Importance.
      It was established to propagate the study of Hindi in the then Madras Presidency and princely states of Banganapalle, Cochin, Hyderabad, Mysore, Pudukkottai, Sanduru and Travancore.
      The first Hindi class was taken by Gandhi’s son Devdas Gandhi.

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