Major News and Events of 18 February 2015
What Happened on 18 February 2015
PM Flags Off Aero India Expo, Vows to Implement 'Make in India' Initiative in Defence Sector
AAP Removes Environment Clearance Hurdle for Medium, Small-Scale Industries in Delhi
PM Modi Condemns Attacks on Religious Institutitons, Assures Strong Action
Swine Flu claims 624 lives in 45 days; Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh among worst affected states
CBI to Initiate Inquiry Against Millionaire Bureaucrat in Uttar Pradesh
SBI reports slow loan growth, reduces non-performing assets by Rs 6,000 crore
Fair Trade Watchdog CCI Asks Coal India to 'Cease and Desist' from Unfair Practices
Snapdeal Targets Sales Worth $10 bn by Dec 2015
Nokia Renews 3-Year Contract with HCL for Selling Mobile Devices in India
Three Indians Shortlisted for Planned Trip to Mars in 2024
World Cup: India-Pakistan Match Creates New Viewership Record
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s controversial 10-lakh priced ‘name-stripped’ suit, which attracted media attention during US President Barack Obama’s India visit, is up on auction in Gujarat today. The first bid was done by a BJP leader named Rajubhai Agarwal whose bid price was Rs. 51 lakh. However, the bid was increased by a textile businessman named Suresh Agrawal to whooping Rs. 1 crore. Rajendra Kumar, a senior official, told media that auction will be open for interested buyers till 5pm IST of February 20. The suit is displayed in Surat’s Science Centre.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off 10th Aero India Expo in Bangalore and vouched for ‘Make in India’ initiative to make India self reliant in defence manufacturing in place of current defence-importer status. NaMo expressed his desire to see India manufacture seventy per cent of hardware in the coming 10 years. Modi categorically mentioned that his government is reforming policies related to defence procurement to favour domestic companies while awarding defence contracts. NaMo also said that defence manufacturing will create 100,000 to 120,000 additional highly skilled jobs.
Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government told media that the small and medium scale industries (non-polluting or have neglible polluting) no longer need to obtain ‘No Objection Certificate’ from Pollution Control Board. Statement issued by Satyendra Jain, industry minister, said that issuance of No Objection Certificate by the Pollution Control Board is neither helping environment nor SMEs. Analysts believe that this is a major push given by the government to SME-sector as pollution check is believed to be one of the major ‘stumbling blocks’ in doing business easily in the capital.
Narendra Modi finally broke his silence on the issue of religious intolerance and a spate of attacks on religious institutions across India. He asserted that every individual in India has the right to adopt or retain any religious faith. Modi went on to say that his government will undertake stern measures against any group that perpetrates violence in the name of religion. M.G. Vaidya of RSS reacted by saying that this kind of statement can be done only by a ‘good Hindu’. Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India’s President, Baselios Cardinal Cleemis, welcomed Indian PM’s assurance.
Death toll due to swine flu has reached 624 throughout the country in the last 45 days. Total number of swine flu affected persons reported till now this year is 9,311. The worst affected states are Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Telangana where the official death toll counts are 176, 150, 81, 58, and 46 respectively. 2,500 and 1,600 positive swine flu cases have been reported respectively from Rajasthan and Gujarat. Sources revealed that JP Nadda, Union Health Minister, has already held meeting with drug controller, additional secretaries and health secretary to review prevailing conditions.
A Special Investigation Team has asked CBI to inquire about the alleged black money amassed by Yadav Singh, a bureaucrat from Uttar Pradesh. It has been reported that the government engineer has amassed assets worth Rs. 10,000 crore that came to light when tax department officials raided his home in Noida. Sources say that the officials recovered documents of 40 fake companies, 20 properties, two kgs of gold, and diamonds worh Rs. 100 crore. SIT had initially asked UP government to hand over the case to CBI, but it did not take any action.
State Bank of India (SBI) is reportedly checking its loan growth. While the sector grew at the rate of 9.1 per cent till end of December 2014, growth rate of loan on a year-on-year basis was 6.9 per cent for SBI. In the last one year, SBI has curtailed its non-performing assets by Rs 6,000 crore. Net profit of SBI has risen to Rs 2,910 crore, an increase of 30.2 per cent over the last one year. In last 5 trading days, the stock price has increased from a low of 280.55 to 304.85 at 12.00 pm on 18 Feb.
Competition Commission of India (CCI) has asked state-owned Coal India Ltd., largest coal producer of India, to “cease and desist” from practicing unfair business tactics by violating competition norms. The fair trade watchdog has lately found out violation of competition norms by CIL regarding supply of dry fuel, after GHCL filed a complaint against the monopolist state-owned coal producer. CIL was slapped with a penalty of Rs. 1,773 crore by CCI back in December 2013 too. Stock price of Coal India was trading at 381.40 at 12.20pm IST, an increase of 1.11 per cent since previous close.
After Flipkart announced its plan to increase GMV (gross merchandise value) to $8 billion by December 2015, reports revealed that Snapdeal is targeting to increase its GMV to $10 billion by year end. According to a company source, by December 2015 GMV of Snapdeal is going to quadruple from the existing $2 billion. While electronics segment is believed to bring in $5-billion business, $2 billion will be brought in by fashion segment. It is learnt that main focus will be on Tier-II cities, much more than the metro and Tier-I cities.
HCL Infosystems has signed a contract of 3 years with Microsoft Mobile OY’s subsidiary NISPL (Nokia India Sales Private Limited) for distributing mobile handsets including Nokia First mobile phones and Microsoft Lumia across rural India and Organised Trade and General Trade channels. Though HCL Infosystems has been distributing Nokia phones for quite sometime now, renewal of the contract is considered significant as it has been signed after Nokia’s acquisition by Microsoft. Sutikshan Naithani, Joint President for Consumer Distribution Business of HCL Infosystems, told media that this renewal will give them the opportunity to expand channel reach.
Science and Technology
Shraddha Prasad, a teenager from Kerala has been shortlisted for the trip to Mars. The 19-year old girl, studying mechanical engineering from Coimbatore’s Amrita University, was selected from a list of 2.5 lakh applicants. Two more Indians who made it to the final-100 list are 29-year old Ritika Singh (who is based in Dubai) and 29-year old doctorate student from University of Central Florida Taranjeet Singh Bhatia. They will be a part of the 100-member team that is scheduled to make a one-way trip to the red planet in 2024.
Viewership during India-Pakistan match of World Cup 2015 created record as over 25 million views have been reported in India on digital platform, according to the data circulated by Star India - the official broadcaster of the game. Sanjay Gupta, the CEO of Star India, told media that STAR Sports and Hotstar received a total viewership of 25 million (with 10 to 12 minutes of average duration), much above the 5 million views of US Super Bowl American football at NBC Sports Live Extra.