Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 12 January 2018
Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 12 January 2018
SC asked Kerala CM to respond to CBI’s plea
The Supreme Court stayed the trial in the SNC-Lavalin corruption case
and asked Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to respond to the CBI’s
appeal against his discharge.
A Bench of Justices N.V. Ramana and Abdul Nazeer issued notice on the
CBI appeal against the discharge of Mr. Vijayan, K. Mohanachandran and A.
The court also sought the response of the premier investigating agency
on pleas made by three other accused — M. Kasthuriranga Iyer, G.
Rajasekharan Nair and R. Sivadasan — as to why they were not treated on a
par with Mr. Vijayan and his two co-accused who were released from all
“For once, we both [the CBI and the accused] agree,” senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Raghenth Basant, appearing for the various appellant
accused persons, said in agreement with the CBI.
Mr. Mehta said the High Court had crossed the boundaries of its
jurisdiction under Article 227 of the Constitution. “The case needs to be
re-heard,” Mr. Mehta submitted.
Mr. Rohatgi and Mr. Basant successfully urged the Bench to grant
status quo on the trial proceedings while the appeals were pending in the
Polavaram Project Authority permitted Andhra pradesh government for new
The Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) has permitted the Andhra Pradesh
government to call fresh tenders for the spillway and the spill channel
concrete work. The decision was taken at a meeting of the PPA.
The early completion of the spillway including the approach channel,
stilling basin, spill and the pilot channels, was critical for completing
the project as per schedule.
He said the PPA had discussed the various bottlenecks hindering the
progress of the project, and the members felt that work on the spillway was
behind schedule and needed to be expedited.
He said the State government had already called tenders for the
spillway work and the same would be opened in a week. This would facilitate
the government from deleting the work being done by the prime contractor Transstroy and entrusting it to another contractor.
The National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) had suggested some
alternatives but the Dam Design Review Panel had made it clear that the
cofferdam was necessary upstream to build the main dam.
The PPA CEO said according to the Andhra Pradesh Re-organisation Act,
the PPA office should be located in Hyderabad, the common capital of A.P.
and Telangana for 10 years.
The PPA had some requirements and once those were provided it would
move to Vijayawada. But that was likely to take time, he said.
The Water and Power Consultancy Services Limited (WAPCOS) submitted a
proposal for monitoring the execution of the project, but the PPA wanted
details about the number of men it could deploy.
India confirms NSAs met in Bangkok
The National Security Advisers (NSAs) of India and Pakistan met on
December 26 in Bangkok, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) confirmed.
Commenting on the meeting, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said it was
part of the mechanism to hold Pakistan accountable for the terrorism that
emanates from its territory.
The ‘talks on terror’ model to engage Pakistan is a change in the
position that India had taken following the attack on the Pathankot airbase
when New Delhi had cancelled the CBD.
The dialogue was launched by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj
during her visit to Islamabad on December 9, 2015.
The MEA had maintained silence on the talks between Indian NSA Ajit
Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Lt. Gen. Nasir Janjua that were reported
in the Pakistani and the Indian media last month.
The meeting was held a day after the mother and wife of death row
prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav met him in Islamabad, but the MEA maintained that
the two NSAs did not discuss Mr. Jadhav’s case at all.
India must seize the chance: U.S.
India is a “leading power” in the Indo-Pacific and should gear up to
become an alternative manufacturing destination to China to attract U.S.
business, said U.S. ambassador to India Kenneth Juster.
In his first public address since taking over as the new envoy, Mr.
Juster also made a pitch for India and the U.S. to negotiate a Free Trade
“A number of U.S. companies have reported increasing difficulties
conducting business in the largest market in the region — China.
Accordingly, some companies are downgrading their operations there,
while others are looking with great interest at alternative markets. India
can seize the strategic opportunity — through trade and investment — to
become an alternative hub for U.S. business in the Indo-Pacific region,” he
told an audience in New Delhi.
Mr. Juster, who most recently served as assistant adviser to U.S.
President Donald Trump on economic issues, also expressed the need for India
to expand market access and intellectual property rights, both of which are
the subject of U.S.-India litigation at the World Trade Organisation.
He said India and the U.S. can work together in Afghanistan, partner
with Japan and Australia in the Indo-Pacific, coordinate their humanitarian
assistance, as well as cooperate on connectivity projects in South Asia.
He said Mr. Trump’s recent decision to suspend security aid to
Pakistan came because Islamabad “has not done all it can to eliminate
terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan that are contributing to unrest in
He placed defence and counter-terrorism cooperation as the first
pillar of the India-U.S. relationship, while calling economic relations,
energy and environment, science and health, and regional cooperation as the
Indu Malhotra to start a new chapter in SC
Senior advocate Indu Malhotra is set to make history as the first
woman lawyer to be directly appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court.
Known to be hard working and diligent, Ms. Malhotra will be the
seventh woman judge in the Supreme Court, since it was established 67 years
ago, if her appointment goes through.
A second generation lawyer, Ms. Malhotra was born in 1956 in Bengaluru
to noted advocate Om Prakash Malhotra. She joined the legal profession in
1983 and later secured first position in the Advocate-on-Record exam for the
Supreme Court, a tough nut to crack for most lawyers.
In 2007, she became the second woman to be designated as a senior
advocate by the Supreme Court only after the legendary Justice Leila Seth,
who was given the honour in 1977.
She is on the board of trustees in SaveLIFE Foundation and represented
the NGO in a case which resulted in the Supreme Court passing a slew of laws
to protect good Samaritans, who save lives in road accidents.
Another Supreme Court advocate Vrinda Grover said the addition of
another woman judge at the top court was a welcome move. “At present there
is only one, we need more,” Ms. Grover said.
In 1989, Justice M. Fathima Beevi became the first woman judge in the
Supreme Court. With only five women judges being appointed as Supreme Court
judge till now, the legal fraternity feels more women should be given the
Crocodiles and humans coexist peacefully in Odisha village
Forty-five crocodiles or muggers were spotted during the forest
department's annual enumeration at the Ghodahada reservoir and its adjoining
ponds in Ganjam district of Odisha.
The presence of crocodiles in this irrigation reservoir spread over
five square kilometres has been attributed to humans.
During the British era, a zamindar family had kept a few crocodiles in
a large tank adjacent to the Ujjaleswar temple. Forest officials say some
crocodiles from the temple tank escaped into the reservoir during floods.
According to the annual crocodile census held on January 8, 28 muggers
have have been sighted in the Ghodahada reservoir while 17 were found in the
seven ponds near it.The Ujjaleswar temple tank has four.
But forest officials feel their real numbers might be higher. In the
2017 census, 55 muggers were sighted in the region and 39 of them were found
within the reservoir.
To get an accurate figure of the crocodiles, the forest department has
decided to conduct another enumeration at the end of winter.
Crocodiles of the reservoir or those in the ponds have not harmed any
of the villagers, who are mostly fishermen, to date. Fishermen of the area
have formed a Maa Ramchandi Crocodile Protection Committee, which is
involved in the conservation of the reptiles in the reservoir and the ponds.
China’s plan for a modern Silk Road of railways, ports and other
facilities linking Asia with Europe hit a $14 billion pothole in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s relations with Beijing are so close that officials call
China their “Iron Brother”. Despite that, plans for the Diamer-Bhasha Dam
were thrown into turmoil in November when the chairman of Pakistan’s water
authority said Beijing wanted an ownership stake in the hydropower project.
He rejected that as against Pakistani interests.
China issued a denial but the official withdrew the dam from among
dozens of projects being jointly developed by the two countries.
From Pakistan to Tanzania to Hungary, projects under President Xi Jinping’s signature ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ are being cancelled,
renegotiated or delayed due to disputes about costs or complaints that host
countries get too little out of the projects.
In some areas, Beijing is suffering a political backlash due to fears
of domination by Asia’s biggest economy.
Belt and Road, announced by Mr. Xi in 2013, is a loosely defined
umbrella for Chinese-built or -financed projects across 65 countries from
the South Pacific through Asia to Africa and Europe.
Other governments welcomed the initiative in a region the Asian
Development Bank says needs more than $26 trillion of infrastructure
investment by 2030 to keep economies growing.
Nations including Japan have given or lent billions of dollars for
development, but China’s venture is bigger and the only source of money for
Among projects that have been derailed or disrupted, authorities in
Nepal cancelled plans in November for Chinese companies to build a $2.5
billion dam after they concluded contracts for the Budhi Gandaki Hydro
Electric Project violated rules requiring multiple bidders.
Consulting firm BMI Research has compiled a database of $1.8 trillion
of infrastructure investments across Asia and Africa that include Chinese
money or other involvement.
U.S. can still come back to environment deal
President Donald Trump said that the United States could “conceivably”
return to the Paris climate accord, although he stopped short of signalling
any move in that direction.
“Frankly, it’s an agreement that I have no problem with, but I had a
problem with the agreement that they signed, because, as usual, they made a
bad deal,” Trump told a news conference.
“So we can conceivably go back in,” added the President, who announced
his intention to pull out of the 2015 accord on curbing global warming
emissions last June.
A full U.S. pullout could jeopardise global efforts to limit average
warming to under two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over
pre-Industrial Revolution levels.
Standing alongside Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Mr. Trump
presented himself as a champion of environmentalism.
“One of the great assets of Norway is a thing called water,” Mr. Trump
said. “They have tremendous hydro power, tremendous. In fact most of your
energy or your electricity is produced by hydro. I wish we would do some of
In the year since coming to office, Mr. Trump’s administration has
worked to ease environmental legislation, which industry considers a burden
“The Paris Accord really would have taken away our competitive edge.
And we are not going to let that happen,” he said.
Beijing wary of Indian presence in S. China Sea
China objected to Vietnam’s invitation to India to invest in oil and
natural gas sector in the disputed South China Sea, saying it is firmly
opposed to infringement of its rights using development of bilateral ties as
Vietnam’s Ambassador to India Ton Sinh Thanh on Tuesday had told an
Indian news channel that his country would welcome Indian investments in the
South China Sea.
But China firmly oppose relevant party to use it as an excuse to
infringe upon China’s legitimate rights and interests in the South China Sea
and impair regional peace and stability,” Mr. Lu said.
China has been opposing Oil and Natural Gas Corporation exploring oil
in wells claimed by Vietnam in the South China Sea for years.
::Business and Economy::
GST refunds hit car exports: SIAM
India’s passenger vehicle (PV) exports remained flat in 2017, plagued
by the issue of GST refunds to automobile manufacturers, which has touched
Rs. 2,000 crore since the implementation of the new tax regime.
According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), PV
exports from India stood at 7,38,894 units last year as against 7,38,137
units in 2016, a marginal growth of 0.1%.
“The system of GST refund is not functioning and [is] having an impact
on exports of passenger vehicles. In December, we had a meeting of five-six
top exporters and what we found was that the pending refund amount is around
Rs. 2,000 crore,” SIAM deputy director general Sugato Sen said.
The issue has affected companies which export more from India than
they sell in the domestic market, he added.
Under the GST regime, payments are made upfront and manufacturers
claim input tax credit refund later.As per SIAM data, after the new tax
became reality in July 2017, exports began to decline rapidly.
In January-March 2017, exports grew 12.56% to 1,82,473 units against
1,62,103 units in the year-earlier period. Similarly, in April-June, it
increased 13.79% to 1,80,669 units from 1,58,770 units.
But, in July-September, exports declined by 12.87% to 1,81,423 units
as against 2,08,223 units. In October-December too, PV exports stood at
1,94,329 units as against 2,09,041 units, a decline of 7.04%.
Manufacturers such as Ford India and Volkswagen India had in November
expressed concern over the challenges related to GST refund. VW India had
even stated that it could be forced to rethink on exports if the challenge
was not resolved.
Mr. Sen added that one of the reasons for drop in PV exports was also
due to a major exporter like Hyundai focusing on catering to the growing
India, U.K. hold trade talks in Brexit’s shadow, eye FTA
Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu held talks with his
British counterpart, International Trade Secretary, as the two countries
look for opportunities to boost trade and investment, including via a
potential Free Trade Agreement, as Britain prepares to leave the European
As part of its efforts to strengthen trade, Britain’s export credit
agency U.K. Export Finance has doubled financial support for British firms
that export to India.
The UKEF has now made £4.5 billion available to British companies
exporting to India and Indian firms buying British goods and services.
While Britain is unable to hold formal trade talks with countries
outside the EU till it leaves the union (at the end of March 2019), the 12th
meeting of the U.K.-India Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO), being
held this week provides an opportunity for the countries to build on the
U.K.-India trade working group established last year.
Liam Fox, a vocal campaigner for Brexit, said expanding bilateral
trade and investment with India, and breaking down trade barriers, would be
central to the task of Britain preparing for its independent trade policy.
“It’s in our shared interest to boost prosperity, generate jobs,
develop skills, and enhance the competitiveness of both our countries,” Mr.
Mr. Prabhu is on a four-day visit to London, as part of which he is
set to attend JETCO. His visit comes ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of
Government Meeting in April, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected
Telecom subscriber base falls
The number of telecom subscribers dwindled by 1.58 crore to 118.5
crore in November, even as Reliance Jio continued to lead in customer
addition with over 15 crore subscribers, as per a report by TRAI.
“The number of telephone subscribers in India declined from 1,201.72
million at the end of October 2017 to 1,185.88 million at the end of
November 2017, thereby showing a monthly decline rate of 1.32 per cent,” the
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said in a monthly subscriber
The decline was mainly on account of closure of mobile services by
some of the operators.