Daily News-8th August 2017
China turns up pressure against North Korea
China ramped up the global pressure against North Korea by warning it not to conduct more missile tests a day after the UN Security Council approved severe economic sanctions against the reclusive regime, according to a report.
“Do not violate the U.N.’s decision or provoke international society’s goodwill by conducting missile launching or nuclear tests,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sunday during a gathering of the world’s top diplomats in the Philippines, the Associated Press reported.
The sanctions – unanimously approved on Saturday – ban countries from importing North Korean coal, iron, lead and seafood products and prohibit them from letting in the country’s laborers who send money back home that helps fund Kim’s weapons programs.
Myanmar army clears itself of Rohingya atrocity claims
More than 70,000 members of the persecuted minority fled to neighbouring Bangladesh after the military launched a widespread crackdown late last year in the north of Rakhine state to hunt down insurgents who attacked police border posts.
UN investigators who interviewed hundreds of escapees documented reports of mass killings, widespread rapes and horrifying accounts of babies being thrown into burning houses.
In a report released in February they said security forces may have committed atrocities so severe they amount to crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.
Both the military and the civilian government led by Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi have denied allegations of widespread atrocities against the Rohingya and refused to allow in a UN fact-finding mission to investigate.
The Rohingya, stripped of citizenship by Myanmar’s then-military leaders in 1982, are loathed by many in the Buddhist-majority country, who claim they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and refer to them as “Bengalis”.
What are cosmic Rays?
Cosmic rays are high-energy radiation, composed mainly of protons and other atomic nuclei, believed to be coming in from faraway distances in our galaxy. Scientists are not entirely certain about the origin of these cosmic rays though they are believed to be produced in supernova explosions. How these particles are accelerated to such energies is not very well understood either. Scientists across the world are studying cosmic rays in the hope of unlocking more secrets of nature
Currently, the third generation of these cosmic rays experiments, named GRAPES-3 (Gamma Ray Astronomy PeV EnergieS), are being conducted in Ooty.
Non-performing assets: Govt-run banks write off record Rs 81,683-crore bad loans in FY17
Despite a series of steps to contain non-performing assets (NPAs), public sector banks (PSBs) wrote off a record Rs 81,683 crore worth of bad loans in the financial year ended March 2017, a jump of more than 41 per cent over the previous year’s write-off amount of Rs 57,586 crore, as per the finance ministry data.
Even as the amount of loans written off has been rising steadily in the past five years, their combined profitability deteriorated sharply during the same period, as NPAs spiked and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)-mandated asset quality review forced them to make higher disclosures of non-performing loans.
The gross NPA of banks has risen to 9.6 per cent (of total advances) in March 2017, from 9.2 per cent in September 2016, as per the RBI data.
In order to contain NPAs and consequential write-offs, the finance ministry took a series of measures in the past 2-3 years, including asking banks to agree to operating performance norms for getting capital, amending the loan recovery laws, merging associate banks with the parent State Bank of India, among others.
The government last year enacted the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) and earlier this year empowered the RBI to direct banks to initiate insolvency proceedings against large loan defaulters. The RBI has recently directed banks to refer 12 large NPA cases for resolution under the IBC. The 12 troubled companies being referred to NCLT under the RBI directive — including Jyoti Structures, Bhushan Steel, Monnet Ispat and Electrosteel Steels, Amtek Auto and Era Infra Engineering among others — account for a combined debt of around Rs 2.5 lakh crore.
Australia, Japan, U.S. call for South China Sea code to be legally binding
Foreign ministers of ASEAN and China on Sunday adopted a negotiating framework for a code of conduct, a move they hailed as progress but seen by critics as a tactic to buy China time to consolidate its maritime power.
Australia, Japan and the United States also “voiced their strong opposition to coercive unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions”.
They urged claimants to refrain from land reclamation, construction of outposts and militarization of disputed features, a veiled reference to China’s expansion of its defense capability on Mischief, Fiery Cross and Subi reefs in the Spratly archipelago.
They urged China and the Philippines to abide by last year’s international arbitration ruling, which invalidated China’s claim to almost the entire South China Sea, where more than $3 trillion worth of sea-borne goods passes every year.
Several ASEAN countries want the code to be legally binding, enforceable and have a dispute resolution mechanism. But experts say China will not allow that and ASEAN may end up acquiescing to what amounts to a gentlemen’s agreement.
Have power to settle competitive tariff issues: Trai to CCI
Telecom regulator Trai today shot off a letter to anti-trust watchdog CCI asserting its power and expertise to deal with matters relating to competition and predatory pricing in telecom tariffs.
Countering Competition Commission of India’s contention over jurisdiction on market dominance and predatory pricing, Trai emphasised that it has the wherewithal to examine all matters — even competition issues — falling within its tariff-related powers, an official said.
In the 2-page letter to CCI Chairman Devender K Sikri, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said that as telecom regulator, its core responsibility is to look at tariffs.
The telecom watchdog held that it had earlier in 2006 too initiated a consultation on tariff plans with lifetime validity that had dealt with predatory pricing issues.
Issues such as predatory pricing, market dominance and extension of promotional offers have led to some high-decibel public spats between new-comer Reliance Jio and established operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular.