1 - FEBRUARY - 2018




INS KARANJ launched

  • The Navy’s third state-of-the-art Scorpene class submarine, INS Karanj , was launched.
  • The new submarine is named after the earlier Kalvari class INS Karanj , which was decommissioned in 2003.
  • Six Scorpene class submarines are being built under Project 75 by the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDSL), Mumbai, under a $3.75 billion technology transfer signed in October 2005 with the Naval Group of France.
  • However, the programme has been delayed by four years due to construction delays.
  • No more delays in the programme to launch the rest.
  • The Scorpene class is the Navy’s first modern conventional submarine series in almost two decades, since INS Sindhushastra was procured from Russia in July 2000.
  • INS Karanj saw action in the 1971 War.
  • Expecting the new Karanj to be commissioned by the end of the year.
  • Wednesday’s launch follows the launch of the first two Scorpene submarines —INS Kalavari and INS Khanderi .
  • INS Kalvari , the first to be launched, was commissioned in December 2017 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • INS Khanderi , which was launched in January 2017, is currently undergoing deep dive trials and is expected to be commissioned later this year, according to Navy officials .
  • Admiral Lanba said he expected timely construction and speedy delivery of the remaining three submarines — Vela , Vagir and Vagsheer .
  • The three submarines are in various stages of outfitting. The entire project is expected to be completed by 2020.
  • The MDSL is in the process of upgrading and would soon have the capability to build and launch two lines of submarines.
  • INS Kalvari , manned by a team of eight officers and 35 sailors, carries sea-skimming SM39 Exocet missiles and the heavyweight wire-guided Surface and Underwater Target (SUT) torpedoes. For self-defence, it has mobile anti-torpedo decoys.

Centre says India can’t be a refugee capital

  • We do not want India to become the refugee capital of the world,” the Centre told to Supreme court.
  • The government was responding to a submission made by Rohingya refugees.
  • The Border Security Force (BSF) at the borders was “pushing back” their compatriots fleeing persecution in Myanmar with chilli spray and stun grenades.
  • “People from every other country will flood our country,” Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for the government, orally submitted before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.
  • Mr. Mehta submitted that the government was in talks and should be allowed to take a decision.
  • There was no contingency as of now and this was not a matter for the court to intervene.
  • Mr. Mehta said he needed time to respond to the allegations made by the refugees, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, about being driven back from the border.
  • The court gave him time till March 7, the next date of hearing.
  • At one point, Mr. Mehta said the government was “constitutionally obliged” to decide on the Rohingya issue.
  • He also submitted that “this is not a matter in which we can show any leniency.”
  • Mr. Bhushan submitted that welcoming refugees, who had fled persecution, with violence was against India’s international and humanitarian commitments.
  • He pointed out that the Rohingya refugees in camps in India lived in abject poverty and squalor.

Indus script ran towards the left : IMSc

  • Two scientists working at The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai, (IMSc) have figured out a way to computationally estimate whether a language is written from left to right or otherwise.
  • Most interestingly, they have studied the Indus script and calculated that it must flow from right to left.
  • “The Indus script ran from right to left by observing how the writing got a little cramped as it ran towards the left — suggesting that the writer started writing at the right end and ended up running out of space as he or she reached the left end,” says Sitabhra Sinha of IMSc, one of the two scientists who carried out the study.
  • We know intuitively that in a language, some words are used more often than others.
  • Similarly, some letters of the alphabet occur more at the start of words and others are more common at the end of words.
  • The variation faced by different letters may be measured using two independent statistical indices — the Gini index and Shannon’s entropy.
  • They have established that there is a difference between these measures when calculated for the first letter and the last letter.
  • This difference between start and end of a word makes it possible for them to identify whether the word is written from left to right or the other way around.
  • In most of the 24 languages studied, including Arabic, Chinese, Korean, and Sumerian, the two were able to predict using their computation alone whether the words in that language were written left to right or otherwise.
  • In the hitherto undeciphered Indus script also, they predict that the words are written from right to left.

Labourers denied pay, previleges under Minimum Wages Act : Railways

  • The Ministry of Railways has exposed a scam where labourers who were engaged by private contractors to execute projects across the country.
  • They were denied of their rightful pay under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, and other dues prescribed under the labour laws.
  • The Railways engage private contractors to execute projects worth several thousands of crores of rupees across the country.
  • These contractors employ a large number of labourers, both skilled and unskilled, to carry out the works that include construction of bridges, buildings, gauge conversion projectsand maintenance of its assets such as stations, coaching depots, locomotives, tracks, etc.
  • The labourers employed have to be paid wages under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, and Minimum Wages Rules, 1950, amended from time to time.
  • Also, wherever applicable, they have to be protected under the provisions of the Employees Provident Fund Scheme, 1952 and Employees State Insurance Act, 1948, among others.
  • Violation of these labour legislations would entail criminal proceedings against the contractor as well the principal employers.
  • Some “unscrupulous” contractors were resorting to various strategies “to deceitfully deprive the contract labour of their rightful wages”.
  • Such unlawful practices deprives contract labourers of their just and legal rights and also leading to violation of conditions of contract (exposing Principal Employer to the risk of proceedings under these Acts).
  • Any reluctance on the part of a contractor to award minimum wages to contract labour, for the period during which he had admittedly worked, is violation of contract conditions, illegal, unfair and violates the Fundamental right of the Right to Life.


Trump first State of the Union address

  • U.S. President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address followed the script of his nationalist politics on immigration, trade and the U.S.’s global ties, while offering conditional conciliation to his domestic critics on issues.
  • Called for 
    a) Unity, 
    b) repeated his long standing promises to rebuild infrastructure
    c) overhaul the country’s immigration system 
    d) hailed “the extra ordinary success” of his administration.
  • Foreign policy
    a) Takes credit for liberating territories held by the IS
    b) Russia and china “rivals”
    c) Depraved North korea
    d) Urge to address fundamental flaws in Iran nuclear deal
    e) Admin. Imposed sanctions on the communist and socialist dictatorships in cuba and venezuela
  • Plans and priorities
    a) $1.5 trillion for infrastructure
    b) Modernise and rebuild nuclear arsenal
    c) Open detention at Guantanamo Bay
    d) Foreign legislation aid always “serves American interests” and “only goes to American friends”
  • Immigration reforms
    a) Path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants
    b) Build southern wall
    c) End visa lottery and push for Merit based immigration system
    d) Protect nuclear family

Afghan Intelligence with evidence about Kabul blast to Pakistan

  • A high-level Afghan delegation comprising the Interior Minister and the intelligence chief arrived in Pakistan to hand over evidence related to the recent attacks in Kabul.
  • The evidence will be shared with the Pakistan Army, the source claimed, without providing further details.
  • Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Muhammad Faisal said the Afghan team, comprising Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak and National Directorate of Security chief Masoom Stanekzai, visited Islamabad with a message from President Ashraf Ghani.
  • The visit comes amid anger in Afghanistan over an attack on a luxury hotel and a car bomb in the capital, Kabul.
  • It killed more than 120 people, which the government has blamed on Haqqani network militants believed to operate out of Pakistan.
  • Afghanistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN Mahmoud Saikal on Monday accused Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), of training a terrorist involved in the attack on Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel.


No Populist budget, focus on Direct taxes

  • There are unlikely to be any major changes in indirect tax as most of them are now under the purview of the Goods and Services Tax Council, Budget 2018.
  • Budget could have several positive changes on the direct tax side, according to analysts.
  • Key consideration while reducing direct taxes, either for individuals or corporates, would be to ensure that the changes don’t reduce government revenue too much.
  • There is already the possibility of overshooting the fiscal deficit target.
  • The other thing that could change is the medical reimbursement limit of Rs. 15,000, which is an archaic limit. So that could go up.
  • There is a chance the government may introduce a long term capital gains tax on equity shares, or may remove the dividend distribution tax.
  • There could be some changes on the corporate tax front as well, according to analysts, but they added that the government will be careful with these in order to minimise the impact on the exchequer.
  • The GST has subsumed most of the indirect taxes, and so there are very few avenues for changes.
  • Against the backdrop of consistently rising oil prices, there has been an increasing demand for a cut in the excise duty on fuel.
  • However, indications from both the government and the private sector suggest that this will not happen in this Budget.

Budget – Test to investor’s faith

  • Since his election four years ago, Indian markets have welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign to mend patchy public finances and develop new areas of growth in Asia’s third largest economy.
  • To keep investors’ confidence, government will need to be seen containing the fiscal deficit.
  • Also increasing spending in key areas of the slowing economy.
  • Markets will be focused on how much India widens its fiscal deficit beyond the 3% of gross domestic product projected for 2018/19.
  • A Reuters poll showed most economists expect a 3.2% deficit as the government looks to increase investments in key areas such as agriculture to bolster its re-election prospects in elections due by 2019.
  • Gains could be more pronounced in stock market if India sticks to its 3% target.
  • But a deficit above 3.2% could hit shares and send bond yields up by 20-25 basis points, depending on the size of the blowout, on fears of populist policy ahead of next year’s elections.
  • Annual economic survey on Monday suggested “a pause” in fiscal consolidation, sending bonds plummeting.

U.S CIT cut – Global response

  • The recent U.S. tax cuts and reforms are exerting a lot of pressure globally, with most countries now looking at ways to enhance their tax competitiveness in order to attract investments and boost growth.
  • Thereare expectations that the government may also usher in tax reforms in the Union Budget in line with global trends.
  • Every country around the world is now looking at their tax rates and how competitive they are vis-a-vis the U.S.
  • They are looking at ways to attract investments and raise revenue.
  • So the US tax reforms are putting pressure globally.
  • The reduction of Corporate Income Tax (CIT) in the U.S. from 35% to 21%.
  • Suddenly, with just 21% CIT, companies [in the U.S.] will have more money.
  • They are already giving bonuses to employees.
  • Walmart announcing an increase in minimum wages for its employees.
  • Companies such as Apple and Exxon Mobil are reported to have indicated plans to invest billions of dollars in the U.S. following the tax cuts.
  • The difference in CIT between the U.S. and India (where the rate is about 30%) as well as the exchange rate risk, concerns being expressed whether the CIT cut in the U.S. would possibly lead to a slowdown in investment into India by U.S.-based firms.
  • India’s budget last year had an announcement on reduction of CIT to 25% in case of small companies with annual turnover up to ₹50 crore.
  • The Centre should similarly reduce CIT to 25% for large companies.
  • Many Indian exporters — for whom the major market is the U.S. — are mulling shifting to the U.S. to get the benefit of import tariff, reduction in CIT and 100% deduction on purchase of equipment.
  • Indian leather exporters are also weighing the option of adding production in Bangladesh to take advantage of the 15% cash support announced by that country, besides the import tariff gains of exporting from a least developed country.




Last Updated on Friday, 02 February 2018 18:10

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