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Current Affairs – 13th May 2015

Category : All, Current Affairs · by May 13th, 2015

1- Union Cabinet gives nod to 5% disinvestment in NTPC & 10% in Indian Oil Corporation

khichdi, blog,current affairs, general,knowledge, ias, ips, civil, services, CSAT,pre, ies, general studies, GS, mains, competitive, entrance, bank, PO, IBPS, current, affairs, may, 2015, blog, study, material, CSAT, Union Cabinet gives nod to 5% disinvestment in NTPC & 10% in Indian Oil CorporationUnion Cabinet gave its approval to 5 per cent disinvestment in National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) and 10 per cent in Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).

Decision in this regard was taken by Union Cabinet Meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. These approvals are part of Union Government’s budgeted target to raise 41,000 crore rupees through strategic stake sales i.e. disinvestment for the current financial year 2015-16.

Disinvestment in both Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSU) may fetch the government over 13,000 crore rupees at current market price. The proposed share sale of 5 per cent in NTPC will fetch Union government 5,565 crore rupees while that of 10 per cent in IOC will bring in 7,932 crore rupees.

Currently, Union government holds 74.96 per cent in NTPC and 68.57 per cent in IOC.

2- Union Government Constitutes Justice AP Shah Committee to look into the issue of MAT on FIIs

Union Government Constitutes Justice AP Shah Committee to look into the issue of MAT on FIIs

Justice AP Shah

Union Government has constituted Committee headed by Justice A.P. Shah to look into the issue of Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) on Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs).

It was announced by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Rajya Sabha. The committee will submit its report expeditiously in order to resolve the issue of MAT between the tax authorities and the foreign investors.

Background

Government uses the MAT to get companies, which pay less or zero tax due to the available exemptions to pay some tax.

The issuance of such tax demand on FIIs has caused an outcry among them as they were exempted from paying such taxes from April 1, 2015.

But the tax authorities have demanded MAT in respect of previous years i.e. till 2014-15.

3- 58% immunisation rate in rural areas, 67% in urban areas of India: Union Government

khichdi, blog,current affairs, general,knowledge, ias, ips, civil, services, CSAT,pre, ies, general studies, GS, mains, competitive, entrance, bank, PO, IBPS, current, affairs, may, 2015, blog, study, material, CSAT, 58% immunisation rate in rural areas, 67% in urban areas of India: Union GovernmentUnion government has announced that, the current immunisation rate in rural areas is around 58 per cent while it is over 67 per cent in urban regions of the country. It was announced by Union Health Minister J P Nadda on 12 May 2015 in a written reply in Rajya Sabha.

As per the written reply,

  • Lack of awareness among parents and non- availability of vaccines is the main reasons behind the low rate of immunization in the country.
  • In order to promote immunisation programme in India, government had allocated funds of Rs 221.70 crore, Rs 188.91 crore and Rs 189.26 crore for year 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 respectively.
  • While, government had not allocated any funds for the development of new vaccines in the last three years.
  • To improve immunisation rates, government has taken elaborating steps.
  • Union Government also is providing flexible funds to states for mobility support, alternate vaccine delivery and mobilisation of children accredited social health activists.
  • Government also had conducted special immunisation weeks in areas with pockets of low immunisation coverage in the country.
  • Under ‘Mission Indradhanush’, government has implemented immunization drives to target areas with partial immunisation and no immunisation in 201 high-focus districts to protect children against seven life-threatening diseases including pertussis, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, tuberculosis and Hepatitis B.

4- Daniel Mookhey, first Indian-origin lawmaker in Australia to take oath on the Gita

Daniel Mookhey, first Indian-origin lawmaker in Australia to take oath on the Gita

Daniel Mookhey

Daniel Mookhey has become first Indian-origin Member of Parliament (MP) from the Australian state of New South Wales to be sworn in to Australian parliament on the Hindu religious text, the Bhagavadgita.

Recently, he was chosen by the Australian Labour Party to fill the casual vacancy in the New South Wales upper house. Thus, making him state’s first politician of Indian background.

Daniel Mookhey was born in Blacktown suburb in New South Wales to Indian parents who had migrated to Australia from Punjab in 1973. He holds three university degrees and currently is working as a consultant to unions, charities and community groups.

5- Deepak Iyer appointed as CEO and MD of Bharti AXA General Insurance

Deepak Iyer appointed as CEO and MD of Bharti AXA General Insurance

Deepak Iyer

Deepak Iyer was appointed as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director (MD) of Bharti AXA General Insurance. Iyer will  take charge from Interim CEO and MD Milind Chalisgaonkar and join the board of company by end of June 2015.

Presently, he is working as the MD-Indian subcontinent at Wrigley India, a subsidiary of the US-based Mars. Iyer has rich and diverse experience of 22 years across various aspects of management, sales, P&L management, marketing, research and development, operational turnaround and franchise management across different countries.

Earlier, he had worked with PepsiCo for 16 years handling multiple international assignments, including in Africa, North & East India (including Nepal, Bangladesh, & Sri Lanka) and Director-Sales for Modern Trade/ Leisure/ Food service/Travel & Transport channels of the company.

6- Union Cabinet approved amendments to Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Bill

Union Cabinet approved amendments to Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment BillUnion Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 13 may 2015 approved official amendments to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012.

The official amendments along with the Amendment Bill 2012 seeks to amend the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) (CLPR) Act, 1986 and allows children below the age of 14 years to work in select non-hazardous family enterprises

Following official amendments have been approved by the Cabinet:

  1. It prohibits employment of children below 14 years in all occupations and processes and links the age of prohibition of employment to age under Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. However, it will not prohibit
  • a child helping his family or family enterprise, which is other than any hazardous occupation or process, after his school hours or during vacation; and
  • a child working as artist in an audio-visual entertainment industry, except the circus, provided that the school education of the child is not affected.
  1. It introduces a new definition of adolescent in the CLPR Act and prohibits the employment of adolescents (14 to 18 years of age) in hazardous occupations and processes.
  2. It provides for stricter punishment for employers for violation of the CLPR Act has been proposed to act as a deterrent:
  3. In case of first offence of employing any child or adolescent in contravention of the Act, penalty would be imprisonment for a term not less than six months, which may extend to two years or with fine not less than 20000 rupees which may extend to 50000 rupees or with both.
  4. In case of a second or subsequent offence of employing any child or adolescent in contravention of the Act, the minimum imprisonment would be one year which may extend to three years.
  5. It makes the offence of employing any child or adolescent in contravention of the Act by an employer a cognizable offence.
  6. There would be no punishment in case of a first offence by the parents/guardians and in case of a second and subsequent offence; the penalty would be a fine which may extend to 10000 rupees. This amendment is introduced in light of socio-economic conditions of parents/guardians.
  7. It provides for constitution of Child and Adolescent Labour Rehabilitation Fund for one or more districts for the rehabilitation of the child or adolescent rescued.

Why the need for amending CLPR Act, 1986?

Firstly, the official amendments along with Amendment Bill, 2012 seeks to strike a balance between the need for education for a child and the reality of the socio-economic condition and social fabric in the country.

Secondly, the socio-economic milieu of India is such that, on the one hand, children help their parent especially in occupations like agriculture, artisanship etc. and on the other, they learn basics of occupation while helping the parents.

Thirdly, the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act (CLPR Act) 1986 was not in sync with the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 that enjoins the State to ensure free and compulsory education to all children in the age group of 6 to 14 years. A corollary to this would be that if a child is in the work place, he would miss school.

Lastly, CLPR Act was not in conformity with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions 138 and 182, which provide for minimum age of entry into employment and prohibition of employment of persons below 18 years, in work which is likely to harm health, safety and morals.

7- Indian author Neel Mukherjee won 2014 Encore Award for The Lives of Others

Indian author Neel Mukherjee won 2014 Encore Award for The Lives of Others

Neel Mukherjee

Indian author Neel Mukherjee on 12 May 2015 won the 2014 Encore Award for his novel The Lives of Others. The award is worth 10000 pounds. The Lives of Others is his second novel. The novel is set in Kolkata of the 1960s when Naxalite violence was at its peak. It is the story of Supratik Ghosh and his family, after he leaves home to join the Communist party of India, Marxist and mobilise the peasants against their landlords. The Lives of Others was also shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize and the Costa Novel Award. Neel Mukherjee’s first novel, A Life Apart, was published in 2010.

Other short-listed authors are Will Wiles, Deborah Kay Davies and Amanda Coe. Encore award was founded by Lucy Astor in 1990 to celebrate second novels.

2013 Encore award won by Evie Wyld for All The Birds, Singing.

8- Facebook signed up with nine news publishers to launch Instant Articles

Facebook signed up with nine news publishers to launch Instant ArticlesFacebook Inc on 12 May 2015 signed up with nine publishers to launch Instant Articles. Instant Articles will publish articles directly to the social network’s mobile news feeds. The launch partners for Instant Articles are NBC, The Atlantic, The Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel and Bild.

Instant Articles will let stories load more than 10 times faster than standard mobile web articles and will include content from publishers such as the New York Times, BuzzFeed and National Geographic. The news publishers can either sell and embed advertisements in the articles and keep all of the revenue, or allow Facebook to sell ads.

The Internet social networking company will also let the news companies track data and traffic through comScore and other analytics tools. Instant Articles lets them deliver fast, interactive articles while maintaining control of their content and business models.

9- President of India appointed four Governors and transferred two

President of India appointed four Governors and transferred twoPresident of India Pranab Mukherjii on 12 May 2015 appointed four Governors and transferred two others. These appointments and transfers were done in accordance with Article 155 of the Constitution of India.

Appointed Governors

  • V Shanmuganathan was appointed as the Governor of Meghalaya. He is a member of BJP national executive.
  • Draupadi Murmu was appointed as the Governor of Jharkhand. She is from BJP and was a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Odisha’s Rairangpur constituency in 2000.
  • Tathagata Roy was appointed as Governor of Tripura. Roy had unsuccessfully contested on BJP seat from Kolkata Dakshin Lok Sabha constituency in 2014.
  • JP Rakkhowa was appointed as Governor of Arunachal Pradesh. He is a 1968-batch IAS officer. He has been involved in issues related to Northeast after his retirement.

Transferred Governors

  • Syed Ahmed, Governor of Jharkhand was shifted to Manipur. He was appointed in September 2011. His tenure will end in September 2016.
  • Lt General (retd.) Nirbhay Sharma, who was serving as Governor of Arunachal Pradesh since May, 2011, was transferred and appointed as Governor of Mizoram for the remainder of his term, which ends in 2018. He is the eighth Governor of the state since 2014.

10- Supreme Court issued Guidelines on Regulating Government Advertisements

Supreme Court issued Guidelines on Regulating Government AdvertisementsThe Supreme Court (SC) on 13 May 2015 issued guidelines on regulating government advertisements. The guidelines were issued by a SC bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi. The new guidelines by the apex court were framed with a view to discourage such advertisements from creating personality cults and it applies to the frequent advertisements that are placed by the centre and state governments to publicise schemes.

Details of the guidelines

Only photographs of the President, Prime Minister (PM) and Chief Justice of India (CJI) can feature in the newspaper advertisements released by state and central government departments. The photographs of these dignitaries can only be used with their prior approval.

Besides, these three, the photos of late leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru can also be used in the government advertisements. The use of photo of any politicians other than these personalities was banned by the apex court.

Other than politicians, the photos of even Chief Ministers and bureaucrats were also banned from being featured in newspaper advertisements. In order to see that the framed guidelines are not violated, the apex court even asked the government to appoint a three-member committee to monitor it.

The guidelines were issued by a SC bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi in response to a petition filed by lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan-headed NGO Common Cause, who sought strict rules to ban government advertisements glorifying the politicians and ministers of government in power as it is the blatant misuse of taxpayers’ money. These guidelines were based on the recommendations of NR Madhava Menon headed three-member committee constituted by the SC to look into the matter in August 2014.

11- UP Government launched Samajwadi Shudha Payjal Yojna for UP Roadways bus stations

UP Government launched Samajwadi Shudha Payjal Yojna for UP Roadways bus stationsUttar Pradesh (UP) Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on 12 May 2015 launched the water ATM facility Samajwadi Shudha Payjal Yojna for UP Roadways bus stations. This facility was installed at Charbagh of Lucknow and at other 100 bus stations of the state. Through this service, the passengers will get best potable water at the most affordable price of two Rupees per liter.

Moreover, the Uttar Pradesh government also flagged off four luxury buses Scannia to four different destination including Delhi. It also inaugurated an IVRS number 149 enquiry facility regarding bus services of UP.

The state government also laid the foundation stone for up gradation of 25 bus stations where state of the art technology and best passenger and civic facilities will be available.

12- Moody’s released the report Global Macro Outlook: 2015-16

Moody's released the report Global Macro Outlook: 2015-16Moody’s, the US research analytics firm, on 12 May 2015 released the quarterly Global Macro Outlook: 2015-16 report.

As per the report, stronger US dollar and shifts in capital flows will widen the gap between global economies in 2015-16. The anticipated tightening of US monetary policy as compared to monetary easing by other central banks reflects different prospects for growth and inflation around the world. The divergence will be between those economies that have built up resilience, like the US and India, and those that are vulnerable to negative shocks, like Brazil, South Africa and Turkey. This gap will fuel shifts in capital flows and currency values and affect the global economic outlook.

The report further forecasts that although the stronger US dollar will dent the growth prospects of US economy but still the economic growth will be robust. Moody’s forecasts US GDP growth of 2.8% in both 2015 and 2016.

Moody’s also expects that GDP growth in G20 economies will be 2.8 percent in 2015, which remains broadly unchanged compared to 2014, however, the G20 GDP growth will increase to around 3 percent in 2016. The weaker euro and lower oil prices is forecast to give a boost to the euro area economy, with GDP growth of around 1.5 percent in both 2015 and 2016. Lower oil prices and the weaker euro will boost growth in the short term.

In China, domestic factors will mainly account for economic developments. Moody’s maintains its forecast that GDP growth will slow to 6.8 percent in 2015 and 6.5 percent in 2016, from 7.4 percent in 2014.

Moody’s on India’s growth prospects

India’s GDP will grow at a strong pace of 7.5 percent 2015-16, which is the highest among G20 economies, helped by the reforms drive and lower oil prices. The report also forecasts a broadly balanced current account for the first time in 10 years. This has been due to lower energy import bill and restriction in gold imports. Furthermore, Moody’s forecasts that, the Make-in-India campaign will give a boost to domestic manufacturing and other reforms measures would bring in higher investment and boost growth. On inflation front, it said that inflation will remain moderate helped by adoption of inflation targeting policy by Reserve Bank of India (RBI). This would in turn ensure that higher inflation on food products does not spill onto other goods, services and wages and will raise real incomes, profits and overall GDP growth.

According to the road map, RBI intends to lower retail inflation to 6 percent by January 2016 and 4 percent (+/- 2%) thereafter.

Downside risks to Global economy

The report has identified several risks that could lead to lower growth in some individual countries. These risks are

(a)    a Greek exit from the euro area,

(b)    a disorderly reaction to tighter US monetary policy,

(c)    the impact of any future correction of Chinese equity or property prices, and

(d)    a possible disorderly liberalisation of China’s capital account.

13- Arvind Saxena appointed as a Member of Union Public Service Commission

Arvind Saxena appointed as a Member of Union Public Service CommissionArvind Saxena was on 7 May 2015 appointed as a Member of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). His appointment was made by the President Pranab Mukherjee. With this appointment, Saxena became the first officer from Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) to become a member of UPSC. The tenure of Saxena will commence from the date he enters upon the office till he attains age of 65 years.

Prior to this appointment, Saxena was Director and Ex-officio Special Secretary, Aviation Research Centre (ARC) of India’s external snooping agency RAW. He is a Rajasthan Administrative Service (RAS) officer of 1978 batch.

As per Article 315 of Indian Constitution, the Chairman and members of UPSC have the term of six years or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.

14- Picasso’s painting Les Femme d’Alger sold for 179.3 million US dollars

Picasso's painting Les Femme d’Alger sold for 179.3 million US dollars

Les Femme d’Alger

Pablo Picasso’s painting Les Femme d’Alger (Version O) was on 11 May 2015 sold for 179.3 million US dollars during an auction at Christie’s in New York. With this sale, this painting became the most expensive painting to be sold at an auction. Les Femme d’Alger, a 1955 painting known in English as The Women of Algiers had a pre-auction estimate of 140 million US dollars.

The previous world record for a painting sold at an auction was 142.4 million US dollars for British painter Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud.

About the painting Les Femme d’Alger

Pablo Picasso, the Spanish painter and sculptor, painted a series of fifteen variations of Les Femme d’Alger painting between December 1954 and February 1955. The paintings depict Algerian women in a harem smoking a hookah. Picasso designated the series alphabetically as versions A through O. The version sold is Version O, the last of the series.

15- RBI advised all Public Sector Banks to appoint Internal Ombudsman

RBI advised all Public Sector Banks to appoint Internal OmbudsmanThe Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 11 May 2015 advised all public sector banks (PSBs) to appoint internal Ombudsman. This internal Ombudsman will be designated as Chief Customer Service Officer (CCSO) and it should not have worked in the bank in which it has been appointed as CCSO.

The objective of this initiative is to further boost the quality of customer service and to ensure that there is undivided attention to resolution of customer complaints in banks. The internal ombudsman will be a forum available to bank customers for grievance redressal before they can even approach the Banking Ombudsman.

Besides, it also asked some private sector and foreign banks to appoint such Ombudsman. These are ICICI Bank Ltd., HDFC Bank Ltd., Axis Bank Ltd., Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd., IndusInd Bank Ltd., Standard Chartered Bank, Citi Bank N.A. and HSBC Ltd. These banks have been selected on the basis of their asset size, business mix, etc.

Banking Ombudsman Scheme

The RBI introduced the Banking Ombudsman Scheme (BOS) in 1995 to provide an expeditious and inexpensive forum to bank customers for resolution of their complaints relating to deficiency in banking services provided by commercial banks, regional rural banks (RRBs) and scheduled primary co-operative banks.

Under the BO Scheme a total of 27 grounds of complaints/deficiencies in bank services are covered. RBI operates the BOS, free of cost, so as to make it accessible to all.

16- Pop artist Chris Burden passed away

Pop artist Chris Burden passed away

Chris Burden

Renowned Pop artist Chris Burden passed away on 10 May 2015 following melanoma disease at his home and studio in Topanga Canyon, California. He was 69.

Trained as a Minimalist, Burden began his career by making art that employed the most minimal materials possible. His most famous early works were Shoot (1971), in which a confederate shot him in the arm with a rifle from about 15 feet away. In another work Trans-fixed (1974), Burden had made himself nailed Christlike, over the hump of a Volkswagen Beetle. In For Through the Night Softly (1973), he crawled through a 50-foot-long pile of broken glass in his underwear, with his hands tied behind his back.

Burden did a string of performances that were focused on endurance, pain, and anti-social behavior, and marked him as one of his generation’s leading artists. Burden was born in Boston on 11 April 1946.

17- RBI released the report titled State Finances: A Study of Budgets of 2014-15

RBI released the report titled State Finances: A Study of Budgets of 2014-15, RBI advised all Public Sector Banks to appoint Internal OmbudsmanThe Reserve Bank of India (RBI) 12 May 2015 released the report titled State Finances: A Study of Budgets of 2014-15. The theme of this year’s report is Fiscal Consolidation: Assessment and Medium Term Prospects.

The report is an annual publication that provides data, analysis and an assessment of the finances of state governments. It provides the snapshot of the changing dynamics of fiscal federalism over the years.

Main highlights of the report

  • It calls for renewed and sustained efforts by states towards fiscal consolidation in the years following the global financial crisis so as to increase states’ own revenues.
  • It calls for freeing up resources for higher capital outlays, improving the quality of fiscal consolidation and setting the consolidated debt-GDP ratio of the states, including off budget liabilities on a declining trajectory.
  • The rapidly growing e-commerce could contribute to states’ own revenue efforts, provided there is greater clarity in rules and procedures to enable better compliance.
  • Windfall gains accruing over time from auctioning of natural resources need to be channelised effectively for meeting developmental needs of the mineral rich states.
  • Transition from the present origin-based indirect tax regime to a destination-based tax regime under the Goods and Services Tax from 1 April 2016 is expected to create a buoyant source of revenue for the centre and states in the medium term.
  • Improvement in fiscal marksmanship is important for delivering on fiscal consolidation intentions, particularly by minimising the systematic bias towards over-estimation of expenditure relative to receipts.

The report has been prepared in the Fiscal Analysis Division (FAD) of the Department of Economic and Policy Research.

18- Lee Alan Johnson named Head Coach of U-19 football team of India

Lee Alan Johnson named Head Coach of U-19 football team of India

Lee Alan Johnson

Lee Alan Johnson of England on 12 May 2015 was named as the Head Coach of Under-19 football team of India. He was named by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

Besides, 34-year-old Johnson will also act as the Head Scout for the national side and will also perform the role of Assistant Coach of the senior team. Prior to this, Johnson was working as the Technical Director of the Football Federation of Rwanda where he was also the Head Coach of the U-17 national team. Johnson was also an FA Learning Tutor for the Football Association besides being the academy coach at Crystal Palace Football Club and Chelsea Football Club.

19- Lok Sabha passes Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2015

Lok Sabha passes Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2015Lok Sabha on 13 May 2015 passed The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2015 by a voice vote.

The Bills amends the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 in order to make cheque-bounce filing of cases more convenient for check payees (person who receives the cheque).

Key facts

  • The bill adds provision to specify the territorial jurisdiction of the courts in cases related to bouncing of cheques which was not present in the parent Act.
  • It says that cases in this regard need to be filed only in a court in whose jurisdiction the bank branch of the payee lies.
  • It also adds provision related to more than one case is filed against the same person before different courts for bouncing of cheques. In this matter, the case will be transferred to the court that has appropriate jurisdiction.
  • The bill also amends the definition of cheque. Now it defines it ascheque in the electronic form which is signed in a secure system with a digital signature or using electronic system and drawn in electronic medium using any computer resource.

About Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881

  • The Act defines bills of exchange, promissory notes, cheques and creates penalties for issues such as bouncing of cheques.
  • It also specifies circumstances under which complaints for cheque bouncing can be filed.

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