Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 10 January 2018

SSC CGL Current Affairs

Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 10 January 2018

::National::

Playing National Anthem made optional by SC

  • The Supreme Court modified its November 30, 2016 interim order and made it optional for cinema halls to play the 52-second national anthem before every show.
  • A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, clarified that it is not mandatory to play the anthem before screenings. The court left the choice of whether to play the anthem or not to the discretion of individual cinema hall owners.
  • However, if the anthem was played, patrons were bound to stand up in respect. The court clarified that the exception granted to the disabled persons “shall remain in force on all occasions.”
  • The court banked on a Union Home Ministry order of 2015 which directs that “whenever the Anthem is sung or played, the audience shall stand to attention.”
  • “Playing of the Anthem is directive, but showing respect is mandatory,” Chief Justice Misra observed.
  • The court took note of its judgment in the Bijoe Emmanuel versus State of Kerala, which dealt with three children belonging to the Jehovah Witnesses sect who refused to sing the anthem in the school assembly though they stood up in respect, to drive home the point that standing up was a sign of “proper respect” to the anthem.
  • The modification will be in place till the Union government takes a final decision on the recommendations of an inter-ministerial committee on the occasions, circumstances and events for the solemn rendering of the national anthem.
  • The committee will examine whether any amendment is necessary to the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, to expand or specify the meaning of ‘respect’ to the national anthem. The committee, which was set up on December 5, 2017, will submit its report in six months.
  • The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act states: “Whoever intentionally prevents the singing of the Jana Gana Mana or causes disturbances to any assembly engaged in such singing shall be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.”

US has no plans to discontinue the extension of H-1B visa

  • The U.S. has no plans under consideration to discontinue the extension of H-1B visas beyond six years, when beneficiaries apply for permanent residency — green card — authorities clarified.
  • USCIS is not considering a regulatory change that would force H-1B visa holders to leave the United States by changing our interpretation of section 104(c) of AC-21, which provides for H-1B extensions beyond the six-year limit.
  • AC-21’ or the ‘American Competitiveness in the Twenty First Century Act’ is the law passed by the U.S. Congress in 2000, which also governs the extension of H-1B visas.
  • Even if it were (considering changes to section 104-c), such a change would not likely result in these H-1B visa holders having to leave the United States because employers could request extensions in one-year increments under section 106(a)-(b) of AC-21 instead.
  • The section on three-year extensions uses the word ‘may’ which could allow some discretion by the executive but there is a separate section in the same Act that allows one-year extensions in which the executive has no discretion.

Centre tells SC that there are no alternatives to hanging

  • There is no viable method presently other than hanging to execute condemned prisoners. Lethal injections are unworkable and often fail, the Centre told the Supreme Court.
  • The government was responding to a query from the apex court on alternative modes of execution.
  • The court had previously said a condemned convict should die in peace and not in pain. A human being is entitled to dignity even in death. Issuing notice, the court had earlier asked the government to consider the the “dynamic progress” made in modern science to adopt painless methods of causing death.
  • Additional Solicitor-General Pinky Anand, while seeking more time to file a detailed affidavit, made preliminary remarks that hanging to death is the only viable option in India. “Today, there is no viable method other than hanging,” Ms. Anand submitted orally.
  • Petitioner-in-person and advocate Rishi Malhotra countered that death by lethal injection is practised in several States in the U.S. and even the Law Commission of India had recommended lethal injection. The court gave the government four weeks to file the affidavit.
  • The court has already clarified that it is not questioning the constitutionality of the death penalty, which has been well settled by the court, including in Deena versus Union of India and earlier in the Bachan Singh case reported in 1980. Section 354 (5), which mandates death by hanging, of the Code of Criminal Procedure has already been upheld.
  • However, the Bench had, at an earlier hearing, favoured a re-look at the practice of hanging to death as “the Constitution of India is an organic and compassionate document which recognises the sanctity of flexibility of law as situations change with the flux of time.”
  • The court is hearing a writ petition filed by Delhi HC lawyer Rishi Malhotra, who sought the court’s intervention to reduce the suffering of condemned prisoners at the time of death. Mr. Malhotra said a convict should not be compelled to suffer at the time of termination of life.

India reached out to lawmakers of Indian origin spread across the world

  • India reached out to lawmakers of Indian origin spread across the world seeking support for its emerging status as a global power.
  • Speaking at the “First PIO Parliamentarian Conference”, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj urged the legislators and political figures to consider what kind of contribution they could make for India’s global ambition.
  • Introducing the theme of the event, Ms. Swaraj reminded the guests of the contribution of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in starting the annual Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, and appreciated the political awareness of the people of Indian origin in various countries.
  • “A total of 141 lawmakers confirmed their attendance and 134 leaders have made to this event today despite massive weather disturbance [in the West],” Ms. Swaraj said.
  • The PIO Parliamentarian forum was planned last year during a conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to connect the lawmakers of Indian origin with their ancestral land, the Minister said.
  • Mr. Modi said, “Your ancestors had to leave India under various circumstances and that is why when you return to an Indian airport, you are reminded of your ties with this country. You have a desire to return to India and I understand your feelings very well.
  • On the one hand, you have preserved Indian culture. On the other hand your people have excelled in sports, arts, cinema in the global platforms and have contributed to your adopted country’s welfare,” Mr. Modi said in Hindi.
  • He mentioned the presence of former Guyanese President Bharat Jagdeo, and noted that from Mauritius to Guyana, there were several Indian-origin individuals who had become leaders of their countries. “We have a mini-world Parliament in front of us today,” Mr. Modi said.
  • “For enhancing our pride and dignity, you all deserve our appreciation,” he said noting that India was experiencing aspirational and societal changes.
  • He noted that there was an “irreversible change” sweeping India, and urged the leaders to come forward to join hands.
  • Ms. Swaraj made special mention of the Indian community in Mauritius which had emerged as the leading player in the island nation.
  • “Gandhiji inspired people in Mauritius to get education and increase political awareness and that is why after a few generations, they have achieved political leadership,” she said congratulating the girmitiyas living abroad for their success.

Ambitious to-do list of making and launching around 65 satellites for ISRO

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has set itself an ambitious to-do list of making and launching around 65 satellites for a slew of uses. They are planned to be realised over the period from 2017 to 2021.
  • This post-12th Five-Year Plan pace is stupendous as the number of satellites made in India over the last 40-odd years hit a century only a few days ago.
  • The last three, including two small ones, were rolled out of its Bengaluru centre in late December and are slated to be launched this month.
  • The new goal puts ISAC’s annual asking rate at around 18 satellites a year: ISAC would now need to come out with three satellites every two months.
  • Since ISAC was set up in 1972 and until a few years ago, this used to be its average yearly output.
  • ISAC’s spacecraft are meant for communication, navigation and Earth observation (EO), for both general and strategic purposes, while new emerging applications are getting added.
  • In the four-year list, ISAC counts 26 for communication, 28 for EO and seven for navigation besides the scientific missions Aditya-L1 and XPoSat, apart from a few small experimental satellites.
  • A few proposals that were made during 2017 are awaiting approval. A satellite launch costs Rs. 200-Rs. 300 crore depending on its size and the level of technology.
  • Dr. Annadurai said the centre was ready to rise to the challenge; its staff was routinely working almost 24/7. Last year, ISAC started to outsource some of the large and critical activities of satellite assembly and testing to Indian industry.
  • The second such project for the ninth navigation satellite, IRNSS-1I, is under way at an ISAC campus.

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::International::

China says it does not have any plans of opening naval base at Gwadar

  • China counselled the “outside world” not to speculate on Beijing’s reported intent to open a naval base at Gwadar, the starting point of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
  • “I am not aware of what you mentioned,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said, when asked to comment on reports that that China would establish a naval base at Gwadar, to supplement its already existing Indian Ocean facility at Djibouti.
  • “As you know the building of CPEC is an important part of the Belt and Road initiative and China and the Pakistan are also making efforts to build the CPEC which is in the common interest of the countries along the route,” Mr. Lu observed.
  • He added: “So, I don’t need think it is necessary for the outside world to make too much guesses in this regard.”
  • In Pakistan, the Pakistan Today daily said that Beijing and Islamabad have no plans to build a Chinese naval base in coastal areas of Pakistan, and the matter has never been discussed between the two countries.
  • The security of the Chinese nationals working on the CPEC projects, as well as of the Chinese shipments going into the Arabian Sea, would solely be a responsibility of Pakistani law enforcement agencies, and, for the same purpose, a designated division — Strategic Security Division —had been established.

::Business and Economy::

Direct tax collection grew to a multi year high

  • Net direct tax collections grew at a multi-year high of 18.2% in the April to December period, according to official data released.
  • “The provisional figures of direct tax collections up to December 2017 show that net collections are at Rs. 6.56 lakh crore which is 18.2% higher than the net collections for the corresponding period of last year,” the government said in a release.
  • “The net direct tax collections represent 67% of the total Budget Estimates of direct taxes for financial year 2017-18 (Rs. 9.8 lakh crore).”
  • Net direct tax collections grew 12% in the same period of the previous financial year. Tax experts ascribe this quicker increase in direct tax collections to the government’s efforts to widen the tax net and increase compliance.
  • “In December 2017, the CBDT had issued instructions to step up efforts in tax collection by pursuing tax arrears and expediting even non-time barring cases where there was a possibility of raising tax demand,” Shefali Goradia, partner, Deloitte India said.
  • The release added that Rs. 3.18 lakh crore had been collected as advance tax up to December 2017, which amounts to a 12.7% increase over the advance tax collections in the same period of the previous financial year.
  • “The growth in [advance tax payments for] corporate income tax (CIT) is 10.9% and that in personal income tax (PIT) is 21.6%,” the release said.
  • The increase in advance tax receipts could also be the result of a simplification in the compliance processes for small business entities and increasing the threshold limit for opting for the Presumptive Taxation Scheme under income tax.

Free lancing grows at a huge pace in India

  • Freelancers in India, on an average, earn about Rs. 19 lakh per year, according to a new survey by global digital payments giant PayPal.
  • The survey, titled ‘Insights into the freelancers ecosystem’, said that web and mobile development, web designing, Internet research and data entry were the key focus areas for Indian freelancers, while some of them were also engaged in accounting, graphic design and consultancy.
  • India is the largest freelancer market with 10 million people freelancing, according to PayPal.
  • About 23% of the surveyed freelancers earn in the range of Rs. 40-45 lakh annually, 23% earn in the range of Rs. 2.5-5 lakh a year, 13% earn between Rs. 10-15 lakh annually, 11% earn Rs. 2.5 lakh or less annually and 8% earn Rs. 7.5-10 lakh annually, as per the report.
  • “Close to 61% of the surveyed freelancers have not been paid at least once through their career. Further, many freelancers receive payments only after 2-4 weeks of invoicing, thereby creating a gap in flow of capital,” the survey said.
  • The survey, conducted with 500 Indian freelancers, found that they were below the age of 40 and predominantly men.
  • “Of the surveyed freelancers, 41% have witnessed very fast growth in through the past 12 months, with 80% of them working with international as well as domestic clients,” the report said.

The new industrial policy seeks to promote emerging sectors

  • The new industrial policy, which seeks to promote emerging sectors, will be released within a few months, Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu said.
  • The proposed policy, a draft of which has been prepared by the Ministry, will completely revamp the Industrial Policy of 1991. Among other things, it would endeavour to reduce regulations and widen the purview to new industries currently in focus.
  • In August, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion had floated a draft industrial policy whose aim is to create jobs over the next two decades, promote foreign technology transfer and attract $100 billion in FDI annually.
  • Mr. Prabhu also said that, he had chaired a meeting of the task force on artificial intelligence (AI). The 18-member panel was constituted to explore possibilities to leverage AI for economic transformation.
  • The Ministry said in a statement that the members drafted preliminary proposals that were discussed at the meeting. Mr. Prabhu said WTO’s mini-ministerial meet to be organised by India would be held in March.

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