Current Affairs November 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Current Affairs - 28 November 2018

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General Affairs 

Donald Trump To Hold "Trilateral Meet" With PM Modi, Shinzo Abe At G20
  • President Donald Trump will have a "trilateral meeting" with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G20 summit in the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said today.

    In a press briefing at the White House, Mr Bolton said that Donald Trump's bilateral with Shinzo Abe "will transform at some point during that meeting into a trilateral meeting" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    The G20 summit is scheduled for November 30 and December 1.

    President Trump, however, is not expected to hold a formal bilateral meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with Mr Bolton saying that the President Trump's "bilateral schedule is full to overflowing at this point", Xinhua news agency reports.

    However, he did not exclude the possibility of the two leaders' informal meeting.

    Mr Bolton also said that Donald Trump, during his stay in Argentina, is expected to meet with the presidents of Argentina, South Korea, Turkey and Russia.

    White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said that Donald Trump's "participation in the G20 summit is a key opportunity to reiterate his commitment to domestic and global economic growth and prosperity, cement relations with other world leaders and advance a global economic system that is based on fair economic competition and free, fair and reciprocal trade."

    Speaking of the prospect of the US-Saudi leaders' meeting, Ms Sanders said she would not rule out any interaction, adding that Donald Trump will also meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"May Bring Private Bill For Ram Temple Construction": Manoj Tiwari
  • Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari on Tuesday said he would bring a private member Bill in the Lok Sabha for construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya if need arose.
    During a meeting with the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders, Mr Tiwari said he will "strongly advocate" a law for constructing a Ram temple at Ayodhya within the Lok Sabha and the party.

    A delegation of the VHP met North-East Delhi MP and Delhi BJP chief Tiwari at his residence and presented him a memorandum on the Ram Temple.

    "If need arose, I will also be at the forefront to bring a private member Bill in the Parliament," Mr Tiwari told PTI.

    The VHP, which is spearheading a movement for a law to pave way for construction of a Ram temple, will meet Parliamentarians across the country to seek their support.

    The outfit has announced that it would hold gatherings in every Lok Sabha constituency till December 6 to garner support for building a Ram temple in Ayodhya.

    "Starting from this month, from today itself, VHP will conduct 547 sabhas (gatherings) in all Lok Sabha constituencies and meet respective MPs, and order them to support the law for Ram temple as asked by people," Mr Kumar had said in a rally in Nagpur last Sunday.

Nagaland Seeks Nearly 8,000 Crore From Centre For "State's Development"
  • The Nagaland Government has sought an amount of Rs. 7,928.43 crore for the overall development of the state from the 15th Finance Commission, a senior official said Tuesday.

    Nagaland Finance Secretary Y Kikheto Sema while interacting with reporters revealed that the state government had submitted the requirement through the memorandum to the visiting team of 15th Finance Commission.

    A 14-member team of the 15th Finance Commission led by its chairman NK Singh arrived in Kohima on Tuesday on a three day visit to hold talks with Nagaland government, officials said.

    The Finance Commission team will hold meetings with Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, his cabinet colleagues and senior state government officials Wednesday.

    According to a memorandum of the Nagaland government submitted through the Finance Department to the 15th Finance Commission, out of the total requirement an amount of Rs. 707.10 crore will be required annually for repair and maintenance of infrastructural assets which amounts to 3,535.50 crore for five year period under 35 departments.

    The memorandum has also highlighted that due to the change of funding pattern from 1989-90 onwards, the state faced problems even for release of the monthly pay and allowances of the state government employees.

    He said that the memorandum has pointed that Nagaland was created out of the political agreement and therefore the special category status should be seriously upheld to enable the state bring about development and progress.

After High-Decibel Campaigns, Voting Starts In Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram
  • Voting for 230 assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh -- one of the most crucial heartland states -- has started after weeks of high-pitched, hectic campaigning. Voting has also begun in hill state Mizoram -- the BJP's last frontier in the northeast. In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP, led by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, is seeking a fourth term in power. The Congress is banking on anti-incumbency for what it calls a "make or break election". Mizoram is one of the five states where Rahul Gandhi's party is still in power. For the BJP, it is a crucial box to be ticked to reach their goal of ruling the northeast.
    Here are the top 10 points in this big story:
    The BJP has been dominant in Madhya Pradesh since 1990. Amid reports of public anger, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who has been in power since 2005, says his achievements -- growth rate of 10 per cent, agricultural growth rate of 20 per cent and a five-fold rise in per capita income - will help him get a fourth term.
    Mr Chouhan today said it is "pro-incumbency and anti-incumbency" which is at work in the state. Projected as the face of the party in the state, Mr Chouhan has been criss-crossing the state over the last weeks in a campaign that has been boosted by regular appearances of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party chief Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
    The Congress failed to form an alliance with Mayawati, which was expected to yield huge dividends in a state with a chunk of Scheduled Caste voters. An analysis of data from 2013 assembly elections showed that an alliance between the two would have meant victory in another 41 seats.
    Mayawati ruled out an alliance with the Congress in the current round of assembly elections. Kamal Nath told NDTV that the talks fell through as the "number of seats and the type of seats" she wanted didn't add up to a "winning combination".
    The Congress campaign in Madhya Pradesh has been dogged by reports of fallout between its three power centres in the state - Kamal Nath, who has been made the election in-charge, former Chief Minister Digvijay Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia, a close aide of party chief Rahul Gandhi. The leaders have denied any rift.
    On eve of polling, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, in an open letter to the people of Madhya Pradesh, appealed for support. For more than a decade, Madhya Pradesh has been known more for firing upon farmers, crimes against women, scams like Vyapam and Bundelkhand package, rising unemployment, sand mafia and for usurping rights of tribals, he said in the letter.
    Shashank Shukla, a top data analyst of the Congress has claimed the party has a 2.8 per cent edge over BJP in Madhya Pradesh. Most opinion polls have suggested a narrow lead for the BJP. A poll of the opinion polls suggests the BJP is likely to get 116 seats - the majority mark -- the Congress, 102.
    In Mizoram, where Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla is seeking a third consecutive term, the ruling Congress and the main opposition party, the Mizo National Front, have fielded 40 candidates each. The BJP, hoping to open its account in the state, is contesting in 39 seats. The Zoram Peoples' Movement, an alliance formed by two political parties and four groups, is contesting in 35 seats.
    Since it became a full-fledged state in 1987, the Congress and the Mizoram National Party have ruled Mizoram. In the 2013 elections, the Congress won 34 seats, the MNF, got five and the Mizoram People's Conference bagged one seat. No party has been able to form government thrice.
    The counting of votes for Madhya Pradesh Pradesh and Mizoram will take place on December 11, along with that of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana, where assembly elections are also being held.

3 Lakh People Used Government's Health Insurance, Says Arun Jaitley
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday as many as 3 lakh poor people have benefited from Ayushman Bharat health scheme in the last one-and-a-half months.
    Speaking at the function to release the book 'Making of New India: Transformation under Modi Government', Mr Jaitley said that the NDA Government is both pro-business and pro-poor as the country needs greater resources to fund the poverty alleviation programmes.

    "We are now close to about 3 lakh people in the last month and a half you have already benefited from hospitalisation under Ayushman Bharat and these are people belonging to the 10 crore poorest families in India," Mr Jaitley said.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September launched the Ayushman Bharat- Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana which aims to provide a coverage of Rs. 5 lakh per family annually, benefiting more than 10.74 crore poor families for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation through a network of empanelled health care providers.

    Mr Jaitley said if the country has to grow at a faster pace, faster than rest of the world in the next one or two decades, then contribution from the rural sector has to go up.

    "If we are to grow at a fast pace, faster than rest of the world in next 1 or 2 decade, we have a potential to do that. The potential is clear. The contribution to GDP from rural areas is yet to come in a big way. A lot of development is required in eastern parts of India, the contribution of female gender (has to go up)," the minister said.

    In 'New India', the slogans of 1971 has become complete redundant, he said, adding "We are pro business and pro poor. You can't have one without the other.

    "So the reforms which you take, which help the market economy to grow, make your pockets deeper and help you service those sections which have the first right to service those resources. This is our experience in the last 4.5 years," Mr Jaitley.

    The book, 'Making of New India: Transformation under Modi Government', contains 51 essays on themes ranging from economy to diplomacy, education to public health.

    President Ram Nath Kovind received the first copy of the book from Mr Jaitley at a function in Rashtrapati Bhawan.

    Speaking on the occasion, the president said that contemporary governance has played a vital role in giving shape and form to an all-inclusive idea of 'New India'.

    "Inclusiveness is more than just a slogan. The government has taken this philosophy to the centre of its policy-making. Numerous measures have been taken to ensure that socio-economic groups, communities and regions that had so far been left behind in the India growth story are mainstreamed in a holistic manner," he said.

    President Kovind noted that the book endeavours at weaving together an assessment of various policies and programmes and provides its readers a multidimensional view of the national development journey.

Business Affairs

Over 2 lakh stranded NRIs brought back since 2014: Sushma Swaraj
  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Tuesday, over two-lakh stranded non-resident Indians (NRIs) were brought back to India in the last four-and-a-half years.

    According to her, the Narendra Modi government had given priority to national interests in its foreign policy and India had maintained good relationship with other countries, even as some of them share troubled relations with each other.

    Swaraj was speaking at an event organised by the Shree Shakti Peeth, an affiliate of the Rashtra Sevika Samiti, the women's arm of the RSS.

    "There have been many foreign ministers earlier, but was the safety of its citizens abroad ever the priority of the external affairs ministry? Never. I initiated 'pardes mein apka dost, Bharatiya dootavas' (your friend overseas, the Indian Embassy).

    "There are people (to help) and several other options when a person gets into trouble in his own country. But, he has no one to rescue when he lands into trouble abroad due to fraud and several other reasons. There are several such examples. To give a figure, we have brought back 2,03,666 NRIs who faced troubles abroad," the minister said.

    According to her, bringing "balance into imbalanced relationship" was India's diplomacy, which is carried out by giving importance to the national interests.

    "There are 193 member countries of the United Nations, and it is not that every country has a cordial relationship with each other. The big countries (superpowers) have enmity amongst themselves.

    "But, from the very first day, we implemented our 'sanskar' of 'national interest first' in the foreign policy... India has maintained a very good relationship with the countries fighting with each other and those which don't have a good relationship, by putting national interest first in its foreign policy," she said.

    America and Russia share a bad relationship with each other. America has put sanctions on Russia, but India has a very good relationship with both the countries. Despite the sanctions, India purchased S-400 (air defence system) from Russia and did COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) with the US, the minister said.

    Similarly, the UAE and Iran share a bad relationship. But India has a good relationship with both the countries. The UAE had honoured Modi with its highest civilian honour during his visit there, and India continue to purchase oil from Iran despite the US sanctions, she said.

    "Besides, India has a very good relationship with Israel and Palestine despite their bad relationship. It is all about maintaining balance and putting the national interest first in the country's foreign policy," Swaraj said.

    Talking about India's relationship with its neighbouring countries, she said: "Prime Minister Modi wants 'sabka saath, sabka vikas' (with everyone, for everyone's development)... not only within India, but the neighbour countries should also not be left out in development."

Competition Commission gives nod to LIC's 51% stake buy in IDBI Bank
  • The Competition Commission has cleared LIC's proposed acquisition of up to 51 per cent stake in debt-laden IDBI Bank. The deal would help the insurance behemoth to enter the banking space and would provide business synergies despite the IDBI Bank's stressed balance sheet.

    In a tweet on Tuesday, the fair trade regulator said it has approved "acquisition of up to 51 per cent equity share capital in IDBI Bank Ltd by Life Insurance Corporation of India". Mergers and acquisitions beyond a certain threshold require the approval of the Competition Commission of India (CCI), which keeps a tab on unfair business practices across sectors.

    In August, the government gave its nod for the LIC's proposed purchase of up to 51 per cent stake in the bank. With the deal, the insurer would have access to around 2,000 branches of the bank through which it can sell its products. Last month, the LIC announced an open offer to buy 26 per cent stake from shareholders of the bank. The open offer, wherein shares are to be acquired at a price of Rs 61.73 apiece, would commence from December 3.

Periods of refinery shutdowns to push up fuel import, demand from private players
  • A wave of shutdowns will hit Indian state-owned refineries next year as the country prepares for cleaner fuels from April 2020, company officials said, in moves that could temporarily dent oil demand and push up imports of refined fuels.

    India, the world's third-biggest oil importer and consumer, has surplus refining capacity and rarely imports gasoil and gasoline. It also means that demand for fuel produced by India's privately owned refiners will likely climb during the period, as state refiners seek to fill the gap.

    State refiners - Indian Oil Corp, Bharat Petroleum, Hindustan Petroleum and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals - account for about 60 percent of the country's nearly 5 million barrels per day (bpd) capacity.

    The refiners will have to shut gasoil- and gasoline-making units at their plants for 15 to 45 days to churn out Euro VI-compliant fuels from January 2020 to be able to sell them from April of that year.

    "Next year will be challenging for us as I have to protect my crude throughput and finish the job at the refineries and get ready for Euro VI by April 2020," said B.V. Rama Gopal, head of refineries at IOC, the country's top refiner.

    IOC plans a roughly month-long shutdown of gasoline- and gasoil-producing units at all of its 11 refineries, he told Reuters.

    Key parts of the refineries requiring a revamp include naphtha hydrotreaters, catalytic reforming units, isomerisation units, diesel sulphurisers and diesel hydrotreaters. In addition, some refiners have to revamp or set up new gasoline treaters, hydrogen production and sulphur recovery units.

    India has been gradually reducing sulphur emissions from vehicles since 2000, when fuel sold in the country had 500 parts per million (ppm).

    Motorists in Delhi, which faces major air pollution, moved in April this year to Euro-VI standards, which allow up to 10 ppm sulphur and are known locally as Bharat Stage-VI.

    HPCL will shut its diesel and gasoline units while upgrading the crude units at its Vizag and Mumbai refineries for 30 to 45 days, its chairman M. K. Surana said.

    He forecast a slight reduction in the company's crude intake.

    "We will take the shutdown in one shot so we don't have multiple disruptions," Surana said.

    Surana and MRPL managing director M. Venkatesh, who intends to shut some refinery units for up to a month, said they see no need to import fuel in 2019 given that state fuel retailers can access robust production at local private refiners.

    Their view is challenged by analysts who estimate weaker gasoil and gasoline prices would prompt state refiners to import auto fuel instead of going to private peers who levy coastal freight charges on top of normal prices.

    A similar phenomenon was witnessed when India migrated to Euro IV fuel in phases to April 2017, said Sri Paravaikkarasu, head of east of Suez oil for consultants FGE in Singapore.

    "There is a high possibility that the lengthy shutdown period could result in a shortage of current Euro IV products in the domestic market. In such an event, Indian NOCs (national oil companies) should turn to the international market for product purchases," she said.

    FGE expects India could import 40,000 bpd of gasoline and 70,000 bpd of gasoil for about one quarter in 2019 because of the shutdowns.

    BPCL, India's second-biggest state refiner, has upgraded two of its refineries to superior-grade fuels, and is revamping the fire-hit hydrocracker at its Mumbai refinery so it can produce cleaner diesel, its head of refineries R. Ramachandran said.

    BPCL plans to shut a crude unit and some other secondary units at the Mumbai refinery for maintenance and upgrades next year for 15-20 days to produce cleaner fuels.

    Ramachandran said there could be a need to import "some additional cargoes but it will not be a major hiccup".

    "The shutdowns will be spaced out in a manner to ensure there is enough product in the market. It will be a well-orchestrated exercise," he said.

ADB to provide USD 75 mn loan for water supply project in Karnataka
  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a USD 75 million (around Rs 532 crore) loan for a water supply project in four coastal towns of Karnataka.

    The project would ensure round the clock water supply in four towns -- Kundapura, Mangalore, Puttur and Udupi.

    The fund will also be used to improve sanitation infrastructure for Mangalore town, said an official release.

    The programme, approved by ADB Board in 2014, aims to improve urban water resource management in selected river basins in Karnataka through modernisation and expansion of urban water supply and sanitation infrastructure and strengthening institutions to improve water use efficiency, water resource planning, monitoring and service delivery.

    The USD 75 million tranche 1 loan is helping strengthen urban water supply and sanitation services in three other towns of the State - Byadagi, Davangere, and Harihar.

    An agreement regarding the tranche 2 loan of the programme was signed here on Tuesday.

    Apart from providing continuous piped water supply and improved sanitation services to nearly one million people, the programme is helping the urban local bodies to become efficient and responsive urban water utility service provider.

RBI Governor Urjit Patel 'optimistic' on economy; tells Parliamentary panel note-ban impact was transient
  • In an apparent defence of the government's demonetisation decision, RBI Governor Urjit Patel on Tuesday told law makers that the note ban's impact was transient and the economy is robust, sources said. Patel, who appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, would give written responses on some of the controversial issues raised by the members, including the government citing never-used powers to get the central bank on the discussion table, said MPs who were present in the meeting.

    Making a presentation on the state of economy, the governor said the economy would get a boost from oil prices cooling off from four-year highs and asserted that the fundamentals were "robust". His views on the economy were "optimistic", sources said. Members were also informed that credit growth was 15 per cent, inflation has come down to 4 per cent and cash to GDP ratio also improved.

    On specific questions related to demonetisation, Patel told the members of Parliament (MPs) that its impact was "transient", they said. Patel was earlier scheduled to appear before the panel on November 12. The RBI governor, however, did not answer specific questions on the government considering using Section 7 of the RBI Act, NPAs, the autonomy of the central bank and other contentious issues, sources said.

    In past few weeks, the RBI and the finance ministry were on different page over issues ranging from the appropriate size of reserves to be maintained by the central bank to easing of lending norms for small and medium enterprises. Sources said Patel made a presentation on the state of the Indian economy as also the world economy to the committee and several members asked questions.

    "He stayed clear of controversial questions like government invoking special powers, instead he gave intelligent replies without saying anything," they said. Members also asked questions on the implementation of the Basel III capital adequacy norms for banks. To this, a source said the governor replied that adherence to the global norms was India's commitment to G-20 nations. During the meeting, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey -- quoting the book 'Between Debt and Devil' -- suggested that by printing more notes the fiscal debit could be checked.

    Another source said that as there were a large number of questions, the governor was asked to file written replies in 10-15 days. The RBI governor appeared before the panel days after the RBI's face-off with the finance ministry over issues ranging from the appropriate size of reserves to be maintained by the central bank to easing of lending norms for small and medium enterprises. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh is also a member of the committee headed by senior Congress leader and former Union minister M Veerappa Moily. India's banking system, particularly state-owned banks, is grappling with huge bad loans. Recently, there has been a liquidity crisis for the important NBFC sector following re-payment default by IL&FS.

General Awareness

    Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi
    • What to study?

      For Prelims and Mains: Rani Lakshmibai- related facts, overview of 1857 revolt and Doctrine of Lapse.

      Context: November 19 is the birth anniversary of Rani Lakshmibai.

      Who was Rani Lakshmibai?

      Rani Lakshmibai, one of the warriors of India’s struggle for Independence, was born as Manikarnika Tambe in 1828 in Varanasi.
      In 1842, Lakshmibai got married to Gangadhar Rao Newalkar, the Maharaja of Jhansi and got the name of Rani Lakshmibai. Few years after marriage, in 1851, Manikarnika gave birth to a boy but he couldn’t survive and died after four months.
      Then Lakshmibai and Gangadhar Rao adopted Rao’s cousin’s son, Anand Rao, who was later renamed as Damodar.
      Soon after they adopted Anand, Maharaja died due to an illness in 1853. Rani Lakshmibai was just 18 at that time.
      The East India Company took advantage of the Maharaja’s death and applied the Doctrine of Lapse. The British rulers did not accept little Damodar Rao, as the legal heir of late Maharaja Gangadhar Rao and Rani Lakshmi Bai. Their plan was to annex Jhansi on the ground that it did not have any legal heir.
      In March 1854, Rani of Jhansi was granted an annual pension of 60,000 and was ordered to leave the Jhansi fort. She was firm on the decision not to give up the dominion of Jhansi to the British. She died on June 17, 1958, martyring her life for India’s freedom.

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