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Current Affairs - 12 October 2018

General Affairs 

Nearly 50,000 Nominations For Padma Awards, 32 Times Higher Than 2010
  • Nearly 50,000 nominations for the 2019 Padma awards, awarded for work of distinction and exceptional achievement in different fields, have been received by the Home Ministry.
    The record number of 49,992 nominations for the Padma awards received is 32 times higher over the nominations received in 2010 when just 1,313 nominations were received from general public, a home ministry statement said.

    In 2017, the total number of nominations received was 35,595 and in 2016 the number was 18,768.

    While 84 distinguished people were honoured with the Padma awards in 2018, a total of 89 prominent people were given the awards in 2017.

    The Padma Vibhushan is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; Padma Bhushan for distinguished service of high order and Padma Shri for distinguished service in any field.

    The award seeks to recognise 'work of distinction' and is given for distinguished and exceptional achievements and service in all fields and disciplines, such as, art, literature and education, sports, medicine, social work, science and engineering, public affairs, civil service, trade and industry etc.

    All persons without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex are eligible for these awards.

    Instituted in 1954, these awards are announced on Republic Day every year.

    The government has transformed the Padma awards into a 'People's Awards' in true sense. People are encouraged to nominate unsung heroes who deserve these top civilian awards, the statement said.

    The nomination process for Padma Awards was made online in the year 2016; and a simple, accessible and secure online platform was put in place to encourage citizens to participate in large numbers.

    The technological intervention that has made the nomination process accessible to the people at large and the emphasis of the government to confer Padma Awards upon unsung heroes, who are doing selfless service to the nation, have resulted in a transformation.

    The online nomination process for the Padma awards to be announced on the occasion of Republic Day, 2019 commenced on May 1, 2018 and the last date for submission of nominations was September 15, 2018.

    Nominations were invited from central ministries, departments, states, union territories, Bharat Ratna and Padma Vibhushan awardees, institutes of excellence as also from several other sources to enable broad-based consideration.

May Sign More Defence Deals With India, US Sanctions No Bar: Russia
  • US sanctions will not be an impediment to Indo-Russia defence deals, and New Delhi and Moscow could soon sign agreements on frigates and Kalashnikov assault rifles, Russian Ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev said Thursday.

    Describing the recently-inked USD 5.4 billion S-400 missile defence system deal as the "largest contract" in the history of Indo-Russia ties, he said it was one of the "speediest" agreements to be signed between the two countries and there were no protracted negotiations.

    The implementation of the contract, signed during President Vladimir Putin's visit from October 4-5, would start in 2020 and would last for five years, he said.

    "In the coming months, you can expect more deals. Talks are on, this is the normal process. We hope that within two-three months... We could soon have a deal on frigates, it is very much on the agenda of the two sides, and we could soon have a deal on the Kalashnikov assault rifles," the envoy told a select group of journalists.

    "Yes," Kudashev said emphatically, when asked whether it would be right to state that Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act or CAATSA would not put pressure on India and Russia for further defence deals.

    His remarks come just a day after US President Donald Trump said India would soon "find out" if the punitive CAATSA sanctions apply to it over its USD 5 billion deal with Russia to purchase the S-400 Triumf air defence system.

    The CAATSA is a US federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia. In Russia's case, the act primarily deals with sanctions on Russian interests such as its oil and gas industry, defence and security sector, and financial institutions.

    Under the CAATSA sanctions, only Trump has the authority for a presidential waiver to India on weapons deal with Russia.

    The S-400 deal was underplayed by New Delhi, perhaps in a bid to keep its robust ties with Washington unblemished.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Vladimir Putin, who held their annual summit, did not mention the S-400 deal in their respective press statements. Government officials also did not publicly announce the inking of the deal, with only official sources confirming it and a joint statement making a mention of the deal.

    Asked about the playing down of the S-400 missile defence system deal during President Putin's visit, Kudashev said the relationship between the two countries is very close and military and technical part of it is important, but it need not be interpreted as a defining one.

    "The visit was about growing connectivity politically, economically, militarily in a humanitarian way, multi- dimensional... It was not about arms race, it was not about countering CAATSA, with its own CAATSA. The agenda was unifying, it was peaceful and that is why the military and technical side was important, but was one part of the statement," he said.

    On why the S-400 deal was not signed publicly, the Russian envoy said under Russian rules and protocol agreements are done before or on the sidelines of talks not necessarily in the presence of leaders, and added that may be talks were on till late.

    The Russian ambassador also slammed CAATSA, saying it was an instrument of political pressure and unfair competition.

    Another Russian diplomat said the notion that some other defence deals were not signed during Putin's visit because of CAATSA was wrong as these were complex agreements and needed more time.

    Kudashev also invoked statements made by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj saying India does not acknowledge sanctions other than those introduced by the UN.

    He said that during Putin's visit, the two countries also discussed strategies to identify common priority areas and how to protect their trade relationship from unpredictable factors like sanctions.

    Talking about the proposal of jointly developing the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), he said that it was still on agenda, but India's priority at present were S-400, frigates, helicopters, assault rifles.

    Kudashev also said India and the Russia should consider signing pacts such as the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), inked between New Delhi and Washington.

    "Given the level of our military and defence cooperation, I think the two sides need to have a stronger legal basis like these (LEMOA, COMCASA) to secure our interests," he said.

Fourth Industrial Revolution Can Take India To New Heights: PM Modi
  • The government has taken major initiatives for the Fourth Industrial Revolution over the last four years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today at the launch of a Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which will be based in Maharashtra. The centre, he said, will "open the door to infinite possibilities for the future."

    The Fourth Industrial Revolution describes the huge ongoing changes in our lives due to the Internet and the resulting smart technologies. Describing the exponential changes, PM Modi said, "Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Internet of Things, Blockchain, Big Data and several other new technologies have the capacity to take development in India to new heights... Coordination among diverse technologies is leading to 4th Industrial Revolution."

    The Centre in India is the fourth in the chain - the ones in San Francisco, US, Japan capital Tokyo and China's Beijing are already functioning. NITI Aayog will coordinate the partnership on behalf of the government.

    In its website, the World Economic Forum, which has taken this initiative, describes the Centre as a "hub for global, multistakeholder cooperation to develop policy frameworks and advance collaborations that accelerate the benefits of science and technology."

    The WEF said the initial efforts are focused on two areas of emerging technology -- artificial intelligence and machine learning.

    India, PM Modi said, is ushering in big changes. "In rural areas, our government is trying to bring about 32,000 wifi hotspots," he said citing the government's efforts to create a Digital India.

    From 59 in 2014, when his government came to power, more than 1 lakh gram panchayats are connected to optical fibres, the Prime Minister said. Our aim is to connect all 2.5 lakh panchayats, he added.

Centre To Come Up With Recommendations To Deal With Floods In Cities
  • The Centre plans to draw up recommendations on how cities should deal with such urban flooding, an official said today.
    Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said there is a need to devise a system to predict natural disasters and accordingly make preparations .

    The National Institute of Urban Affair (NIUA) today held a workshop on 'Urban Flood Resilience' where experts suggested a number of ways to tackle the issue.

    After attending the workshop, Mr Puri said there has been an increasing trend of urban flood disasters in the country in the past few years.

    "In Kerala, we had serious floods. Issues were raised again on whether we are prepared sufficiently to deal with situation," he said.

    According to the ministry, recommendations will be based on categories such as early warning for natural disasters, preparedness for emergency and planning for disaster reduction.

    Mr Puri said, "We need to map emergency services and make the information available to people."

    An official of the NIUA said once the recommendations are drawn up, they will be sent to different states.

    NIUA Director Jagan Shah stressed on the need for better coordination between different departments in states during a natural disaster.

Jammu and Kashmir Police Constable Posthumously Awarded Shaurya Chakra
  • A Jammu and Kashmir Police constable has been awarded the 'Shaurya Chakra' posthumously for showing exemplary courage while fighting "militants" in the restive state, officials said.
    The Shaurya Chakra is a military award given for showing valour, courageous action and sacrifice.

    Manzoor Ahmed Naik, who was a resident of Uri in Baramulla district, was killed at Haffu Nigeenpora village of Tral in South Kashmir's Pulwama district on March 5, 2017 during a gunfight.

    Mr Naik was part of a cordon and search operation in the area jointly conducted by the Jammu and Kashmir Police, the Rashtriya Rifles and the CRPF.

    The 33-year-old policeman, who became a father soon after he lost his life, was trying to flush out militants holed up in a house, after escaping a volley of fire in his first attempt, a home ministry official said.

    Mr Naik, undeterred by blazing fire from assault rifles, crawled in pitch dark and placed explosives around the house. As he started retreating, he came under heavy fire, but managed to escape. The explosives planted by him, however, brought down half of the house.

    After a wait of about two hours, when the firing stopped, Mr Naik again volunteered to plant explosives to bring down what remained of the house. As he charged towards the house, he was hit by a volley of bullets from a militant.

    Despite his wounds, the constable placed the explosives before dying, the official added.

    During the encounter, two militants of Hizbul Mujahideen were killed and a large quantity of arms and ammunition were recovered.

    Honouring his exemplary bravery, Mr Naik was awarded the Shaurya Chakra, the official said.

Business Affairs

Google India FY'18 revenue rises 29% to Rs 9,338 cr, profit up 33%
  • Tech giant Google saw its India revenues grow 29 per cent to about Rs 9,338 crore in 2017-18 over the previous financial year, as per regulatory documents.

    Google India's total revenue was at Rs 9,337.7 crore during 2017-18 as against Rs 7,239.5 crore in 2016-17, according to Registrar of Companies filing shared by market intelligence firm Tofler.

    The net profit was higher by about 33 per cent at Rs 407.2 crore last fiscal as compared to Rs 306.6 crore in the previous year.

    Google India's total expenses rose nearly 29 per cent to Rs 8,710.9 crore from Rs 6,760.4 crore in 2016-17 as the company continues to invest heavily in the fiercely competitive Indian market where it offers services like cloud and payments.

    According to the filing, advertising revenue contributed about 69 per cent of the company's turnover, while the share of IT-enabled services stood at 18 per cent and that of IT services was at 13 per cent.

    During 2017-18, Google India made 10 CSR grants, totalling about Rs 20.3 crore to NGOs working to improve the quality of education, and for safety of children.

    Besides, the NGOs used CSR grants to experiment with new technologies to enhance their work, and to create innovative new products to make work and teaching more accessible, it said.

PS Jayakumar gets one-year extension as MD and CEO of Bank of Baroda
  • Bank of Baroda's Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer P S Jayakumar was today given a one-year extension, an order issued by the Personnel Ministry said.

    P S Jayakumar, an ex-citibanker turned entrepreneur, had joined Bank of Baroda in October, 2015. Jayakumar is a chartered accountant by qualification.

    The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved extension in tenure of Jayakumar for a period of one year, i.e. till October 12, 2019, beyond his currently notified period of appointment of three years that expires on October 12, 2018, it said.

    Prior to his appointment as the MD and the CEO of the bank, he was the co-founder and CEO of VBHC Value Budget Housing (VBHC), a leader in housing for low and moderate income household, as per his bio data.

    He is a career banker since 1986 and has spent over 23 years in Citibank in India and Singapore.

    Jayakumar has contributed to several innovations in retail banking in India.

    Jayakumar's extension also assumes significance as the government introduced a significant policy change allowing private sector professionals to head public sector banks.

    In mid-August 2015, the government had roped in private sector professionals to run two of its largest banks -- Bank of Baroda and Canara Bank.

    To induct private sector professionals at top positions at PSBs is seen as a part of process to reform the public sector industry, which accounts for over 70 per cent of the banking business, but is struggling to deal with mounting bad loans.

    Ravi Venkatesan, former chairman of Microsoft India and ex-independent director of Infosys, had joined Bank of Baroda as its chairman and P S Jayakumar took over as MD & CEO. However, Venkatesan declined the offer for a second term.

TCS Q2 report: IT major reports 23% growth in profit at Rs 7,901 crore
  • The Tata Consultancy Services reported 22.6 per cent increase on an annual basis in profits for the quarter ended September 30, 2018. The Indian IT giant registered profits to the tune of Rs 7,901 crore on the back of strong demand for digital transformation across vertical and a strong show in BFSI and retail businesses. TCS had managed to secure a profit of Rs 7,340 crore in the previous quarter this fiscal, whereas the same for the Q2 FY18 was Rs 6,446 crore.

    For the second quarter of the current fiscal, TCS saw its revenue increase 20.7 per cent annually to Rs 36,854 crore. The company's operating margin for the quarter ended September 30, 2018 stood at 26.5 per cent which amounts to an increase of 1.4 per cent year-on-year. The company also claimed to have the best in class retention with IT services attrition steady at 10.9 per cent LTM. The IT firm also added 10,227 employees to the workforce during the September quarter, which is the highest in 12 quarters, a statement by the company said.

    The rupee revenue and margins for TCS also managed to remain on target during the Q2 FY19. The company also performed well overseas. It saw 22.8 per cent and 17.4 per cent growth in United Kingdom and European markets, respectively, which led growth among overseas business for TCS. Acceleration in North America revenue also continued, the company said while announcing the financial results for the past quarter. The depreciating rupee also bolstered performance, the TCS management said.

    "We are very pleased with our all-round strong performance in Q2. Revenue growth was driven by expanding demand for digital transformation across verticals, and continued acceleration in BFSI and Retail. Our industry leading digital growth and best-in-class client metrics bear testimony to our standing as the preferred partner in our customers' growth and transformation Initiatives," said TCS CEO and MD Rajesh Gopinathan.

    "This has been a very good quarter, with strong demand in areas like analytics, cloud and automation. Our Quartz Blockchain Solution is gaining traction, and we are seeing the creation of nascent ecosystems which could transform markets. Our Enterprise Agile 2020 vision is shaping open collaborative workplaces and Agile ways of working. This, along with MFDM, is driving intelligent automation and the discovery of a new meaning to work, i.e. training the machines with the contextual knowledge, scaling businesses and creating ecosystems," said N Ganapathy Subramanlam, Chief Operating Officer & Executive Director.

    The company has also announced a dividend of Rs 4 on every share, with the record date being October 24, 2018 and payment date being October 30, 2018.

Sensex closes 759 points lower, Nifty falls to 10,234 as global sell off intensifies
  • A day after the Sensex and Nifty staged a smart recovery rally, the indices were caught in a bear market trap originating from the US after stocks fell there on fears that rising interest rates and trade tensions could hurt company profits. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 831 points, its worst loss in eight months.

    The Nasdaq composite, with a large contingent of tech stocks, tumbled 315.97 points, or 4.1 percent, to 7,422.05. It's fallen 7.5 percent in just five days.

    Asian stocks too were hit by the US market crash and closed lower.

    The contagion spread to the Indian markets with the Sensex closing 759 points or 2.19% lower at 34,001 in trade today.

    The Nifty too tanked 225 points or 2.16% to 10,234 level.

    While the Sensex touched an intra day low of 33,723 down 1037 points, Nifty crashed 322 points to 10,138 level.

    SBI (5.74%), Tata Steel (4.60%), and Vedanta (4.45%) were the top Sensex losers.

    Of 30 Sensex stocks, 27 closed in the red.

    Meanwhile, the rupee fell to its all-time low of 74.48 to the dollar on the back of losses in the equity market.

    The currency is down over 16% since the beginning of this month.  

    ONGC (2.86%), YES Bank (2.54%) and HUL (0.75%) were the top Sensex gainers.

    Mid cap and small cap stocks also took a beating with the indices falling 2.34% and 1.41%, respectively.

    Banking stocks led the losses with the BSE bankex falling 628 points to 27,751 level. Bank Nifty closed 537 points to 24,783 level. Intra day, the index crashed 828 points to 24,493 level compared to its previous close of 25,321.

    The banking indices today wiped almost all of their yesterday's gains. On Wednesday, banking stocks led led by BSE bankex rose 968 points or 3.53% to 28,381 level.

    Bank Nifty too closed 794 points or 3.24% higher to 25,321 level.

    Auto stocks were also among major losers with the BSE auto index shedding 513 points to 19,632 level.

    Of 19 BSE sectoral indices, 17 closed in the red.

    Meanwhile, investors lost over Rs 2.63 lakh crore in market wealth in just one trading session today.

    Arun Kumar, market strategist at Reliance Securitie said,"The market internals of key indices are hovering around their respective extreme oversold zone and yet to confirm or display signs of bottoming out. The market breadth has been negative during this period. In this scenario, the index may find initial support around 10,000 plus minus 150 points and bounce back.

    Since the ongoing fall has been sharp and almost unidirectional, any rise here on has to be treated as a counter trend move.

    So in all probability the index on confirming a near-term bottom may attempt to rise towards 10600 - 10800 zone and subsequently resume its second leg of correction which could see it dip towards the zone of 9800."

    Market breadth was negative with 819 stocks closing higher compared to 1765 falling on the BSE.

    On Wednesday, the Sensex rose 461 points or 1.35% to 34,760 and Nifty ended 1.54% or 159 points higher at 10,460 level.

    "The two-day rally was a classic bear market trap. Corrections in momentum markets rarely last beyond two higher highs  and today was no exception," Vinit Bolinjkar, head of research at Ventura Securities said.

    "Breaking 10,150 (on Nifty) would mean mayhem now. 9600-9800 will be the next support level," he added.  

    Global markets

    Tokyo's Nikkei 225 gave up 3.9 percent to 22,591.10 and the Shanghai Composite lost 4.3 percent to 2,607.44.

    The Kospi in South Korea fell 3.6 percent to 2,148.97.

    Australia's S&P/ASX 200 slipped 2.4 percent to 5,906.00. Stocks plunged in Taiwan and fell across Southeast Asia.

    US stocks slumped on Wednesday as concerns over rising interest rates and trade tensions caused a sell-off in technology and internet stocks.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its worst loss in eight months, falling 3.1 percent to 25,598.74.

    The S&P 500 index sank 3.3 percent to 2,785.68. The Nasdaq composite, which has a large contingent of technology stocks, was 4.1 percent lower at 7,422.05.

    It has fallen 7.5 percent in just five days.

    Sentiment also has been dampened by the spreading US-Chinese tariff fight over Beijing's technology policy.

    The International Monetary Fund cut its outlook for global growth this week, citing interest rates and trade tensions.

Software engineers continue to be hot property, says LinkedIn report
  • Professional networking company LinkedIn, which now has 50 million members in India, came up with a Workforce Report for India. It mined and analysed data from the members of course, but also one million companies on the platform to report trends around jobs and skills.

    The report has two big takeaways.

    The report studied 14 cities and found that in seven of them, the Education sector was leading the growth in the first half of 2018. Other industries that grew fast include legal, construction, software & IT services, finance, manufacturing, corporate services, transportation & logistics, recreation & travel and health care. Trailing industries include retail, consumer goods, real estate and entertainment industries. Of the job postings made by companies, those looking for software engineers had the highest share in the first half of 2018, followed by application developers, solutions consultants, Java Software engineers, business analysts. Job posts for software engineers were the highest in eight of the 14 cities. There is a reason for this. Corporates are in the middle of a digital transformation and companies require people with technology skills. IT jobs of a certain kind are growing. Olivier Legrand, managing Director of APAC and Japan at LinkedIn says that even the legal and education sectors are hiring software engineers. While both back-end and front-end jobs are hot in IT, the front-end jobs, such as interface design, require "hybrid skills" or a mix of hard-core programming plus soft skills. Engineers, who can blend this, are in more demand.  

    A second takeaway is around talent export, counterintuitive in the given market - there is a wave of anti-globalisation across the world, in the United States, in the United Kingdom and rest of Europe.  The report, however, draws a different conclusion. "Top draw destinations for professionals in India were the United States, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. In the other direction, migration from the United States, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom into India were also the highest. In particular, the United States-India corridor witnessed the highest volume of talent migration in both directions in the first half of 2018. However, in-demand talent exchange was greatest between Australia and India," the report says. As a result of cross-border migration of talent, India saw a net outflow of digital skills and a net inflow of skills related to the Oil & Gas industry.

    The plausible reason for this export demand is again digital. Countries and companies need to migrate their legacy systems into modern technologies such as cloud and build more attractive front-ends. India has bucket loads of engineers to do the job. Protectionism hasn't impacted that reality just as yet. "But we have to observe it over time," Legrand says.

General Awareness

    Competition Commission of India
    • What to study?

      For Prelims and Mains: CCI- features, composition, functions and significance, Key features of the Competition Act.

      Context: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has amended the Combination Regulations. This amendment inter alia provide certainty & transparency and expedites faster disposal of combination cases before CCI.

      Latest amendments:

      The provisions of the Competition Act, 2002 (“Act”) relating to the regulation of combinations as well as the Combination Regulations have been in force with effect from 1st June 2011.

      A key change brought about by the present amendments is that the parties to combinations can now submit remedies voluntarily in response to the notice issued under Section 29(1) of the Act. If such remedies are considered sufficient to address the perceived competition harm, the combination can be approved. This amendment is expected to expedite disposal of such combination cases.
      In another significant amendment, where the notice is found to exhibit significant information gaps, parties to combinations are allowed to withdraw the notice and refile the same. With this amendment, the parties could address the deficiencies without facing an invalidation by CCI. Further, fee already paid in respect of such notice shall be adjusted against the fee payable in respect of new notice, if the refiling is done within a period of 3 months.
      Apart from these, certain consequential and other clarificatory changes have also been made in the Combination Regulations.

      About Competition Commission Of India:

      The Competition Commission of India (CCI) was established under the Competition Act, 2002 for the administration, implementation and enforcement of the Act, and was duly constituted in March 2009. Chairman and members are appointed by the central government.

      The following are the objectives of the Commission:

      To prevent practices having adverse effect on competition.
      To promote and sustain competition in markets.
      To protect the interests of consumers.
      To ensure freedom of trade.

      Functions of the commission:

      It is the duty of the Commission to eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of consumers and ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.
      The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.

      The Competition Act:

      The Competition Act, 2002, as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007, prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.

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