Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 2 January 2018
Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 2 January 2018
first draft of Assam NRC published
Nearly 32 years after the Assam Accord was signed, the first draft of an
updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) for the State listed 1.90 crore
names out of the 3.29 crore applicants. The updated NRC was published at
midnight on December 31.
Assam is the only State in the country that prepared an NRC in 1951
following the census of that year and has become the first State to get the
first draft of its own updated NRC.
The NRC, 1951, is updated in Assam with the names of applicants whose
names appear in NRC, 1951, or any electoral rolls of the State up to
midnight of March 24, 1971 and their descendants and all Indian citizens
including their children and descendants who have moved to Assam post March
Announcing the publication of the first draft of the updated NRC at a
press conference, Registrar-General of India Sailesh told journalists that
verification of the remaining applicants was under way and the subsequent
draft would be published after the names were verified.
State NRC Coordinator PratikHajela allayed fears of those whose names
did not appear in the first draft, saying the verification was a tedious
process and there was a possibility that some names within a single family
might not be included in the first draft. He appealed to all people not to
panic as the verification process was still on.
The time frame for the publication of the NRC draft was set by the
Supreme Court which has been monitoring the entire process of updating the
1951 NRC in Assam.
The court had turned down a plea by the Central government last month
for an extension of the time frame till July 31, 2018, and directed that the
first draft be published at the midnight of December 31.
Mr. Sailesh said the time frame for publication of the second draft
would be decided in accordance with the directive of the Supreme Court,
adding that the entire process would be completed in 2018. The court has
fixed February 20 as the next date for the hearing.
The Mines failed to pay penalties Odisha govt. suspends operations
The Odisha government suspended operations in seven mines that failed to
pay penalties by December 31 for illegal extraction of iron and manganese
ores between 2000 and 2011.
The Supreme Court had on August 2 imposed a penalty on 150-odd iron and
manganese ore lessees in the State for environment clearance violations.
The Odisha government had issued demand notices to the lease owners to
pay compensation to the tune of Rs. 17,576.17 crore for mining of 215.5
million tonnes of iron and manganese ores.
“Of the Rs. 17,576.17 crore penalty, the government has received over Rs.
8,223 crore,” said Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Kumar Mallick. Only 72
defaulters were able to meet the deadline, he said.
The government will submit a status report on fine collection to a
Central Empowered Committee, appointed by the Supreme Court, in two to three
days, director of mines Dipak Mohanty said.
The mines that were served notices included State-run PSU IDCOL’s Roida
mine, ESSEL’s Koira mine, Mideast’s Roida mine and Serajuddin Co’s Balda
The Enforcement Directorate has identified four companies allegedly
incorporated at the instance of Gagan Dhawan, who has been arrested for his
role in the Rs. 5,383-crore bank loan cheating case against Gujarat-based
Sterling Biotech and others. The agency suspects that they are all shell
The agency alleges that the account of one of these companies, Solpuri
Furnishing Private Limited, was used to acquire a property in Gurugram. The
other companies are HGV Security Systems Private Limited, Sturdy
Infrastructure Private Limited and Orion Green Energy Private Limited.
The Directorate alleges that the accused misused loans received from an
Andhra Bank-led consortium of public sector banks.
Odisha govt. releases calendar, almanac in Braille
The visually impaired in Odisha will get this year’s Odia calendar and
almanac in the Braille format, printed and published by Computerised Braille
Press in Berhampur.
Printing of the calendar, Braille Dinapanjhika 2018, has been sponsored
by the Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities
Department of Odisha government.
The calendar was officially released and copies would be sent free by
post to all blind schools in the state, educated visually impaired persons
and social organisations working for the visually challenged. Any visually
impaired person can register his or her address to get this calendar free
Apart from days and dates as per Gregorian calendar, this Braille
calendar in Odia also provides information about important days in the Hindu
calendar such as purnima, amavasya, and samkranti.
All major festivals observed in Odisha have also been mentioned along
with key national and international days. All government holidays have also
been mentioned in the calendar.
Each page of the calendar includes famous excerpts from the works of
renowned Odia writers. It also contains a section that lists all major
schemes of the government for the visually challenged and the process to
NRC updating in Assam
The NRC is being updated in Assam to detect Bangladeshi nationals, who
may have illegally entered the State after the midnight of March 24, 1971,
the cut-off date. This date was originally agreed to in the 1985 Assam
Accord, signed between the then Rajiv Gandhi government and the All Assam
Students’ Union (AASU).
However, successive State governments failed to achieve much progress in
detecting and deporting foreigners as set out in the Assam Accord. In 2005,
another agreement was signed between the Centre, the then Tarun Gogoi
government in Assam and the AASU where it was decided to update the NRC that
was first published after the Census data of 1951 in post-Partition India.
Though the Gogoi government had started the NRC update as a pilot
project in some districts, it was stopped after violence broke out in some
parts of the State.
In July 2009, Assam Public Works (APW), an NGO, petitioned the Supreme
Court for identification of Bangladeshi foreigners in the State and deletion
of their names from the voters’ list.
The list published is the first draft of the updated NRC. Another list
is expected by February-end or early March, with more names and details.
However, if a citizen’s name is missing, he or she can file an objection
and request that the name be included after submitting the requisite
documents to the NRC centre or online on the website www.nrcassam. nic.in
The Assam government did fear violence and hence requisitioned over
20,000 paramilitary personnel and requested the Army to be on standby to
deal with any law-and-order issue.
However, Chief Minister SarbanandaSonowal said people, irrespective of
their caste or religion, had taken part in the process and expressed
confidence that the NRC update will not result in violence.
The security challenge, however, will emerge only when the process of
updating the NRC gets completed and a large number of people are left out.
The publication of the first draft of the NRC by December 31, 2017 was
ordered by the Supreme Court.
The top court has been hearing this case since July 2009 when Assam
Public Works moved court to intervene in detecting and deporting
NRC is a process by which a bona fide Indian citizen can be
distinguished from a foreigner.
If a person from Assam is living or working in another part of the
country, it is advisable to get oneself registered and establish one’s
legacy as an “inhabitant” of Assam.
NRC wins consensus, but not Citizenship Bill
There has been political consensus in Assam that an updated National
Register of Citizens, as mandated by the Supreme Court, will help
identification of Bangladeshi migrants, who are staying illegally in Assam
after the midnight of March 24, 1971, and their expulsion in accordance with
the Assam Accord. However, the actual number of illegal migrants in the
State will not be known till the claims and objections of all those excluded
in the final draft are settled by the NRC authorities.
The verification of the NRC for the subsequent draft will also decide on
the applications from 29 lakh women, who have submitted certificates issued
by Gaon (gram panchayat) secretaries and executive magistrates to support
their claim of residency after migration post-marriage.
The Supreme Court allowed these documents after setting aside an order
of the Gauhati High Court which declared these documents “invalid” and
“ineffective in the process of the verification of claims for inclusion in
The Supreme court, however, clarified: “The certificate issued by the
G.P. secretary, by no means, is proof of citizenship. Such proof will come
only if the link between the claimant and the legacy person (who has to be a
citizen) is established. The certificate has to be verified at two stages.
The first is the authenticity of the certificate itself; and the second
is the authenticity of the contents thereof. The latter process of
verification is bound to be an exhaustive process in the course of which the
source of information of the facts and all other details recorded in the
certificate will be ascertained after giving an opportunity to the holder of
The publication of the first draft of the NRC came close on the heels of
ruling coalition partner Asom Gana Parishad threatening to snap ties with
the ruling BJP if the Centre pushed for passage of the Citizenship
(Amendment) Bill, 2016 that seeks to grant citizenship to Hindu
Bangladeshis, who have entered Assam illegally post-1971.
All Opposition parties, including the Congress and the All India United
Democratic Front, and student and youth organisations have opposed
identification of illegal migrants on the basis of religion.
They have demanded withdrawal of the Bill on the ground that if made
into an Act, it would render the updated NRC and the entire process of
updating the citizenship register infructuous.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s New Year tweet is indicative that his
administration is not satisfied by Pakistan’s response on terror. A month
ago, U.S. Secretary of Defence James Mattis had told Pakistan during a visit
that it “must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists
operating within the country”, according to a Pentagon statement.
There was significant scaling down of U.S. assistance to Pakistan in the
later years of the Barack Obama administration. From $2.177 billion in 2014,
it came down to $1.604 in 2015 and $1.118 billion in 2016. In 2017, it was
The U.S. has also made disbursement of Pentagon’s Coalition Support
Funds (CSF) conditional.
CSF pertains to reimbursement to Pakistan for its logistical and
operational support for U.S.-led military operations.
In 2015, $300 million of the CSF was tied to a certification requirement
that Pakistan was taking adequate action against the Haqqani network. That
component increased in the following years — in 2016 it was $350 million out
of $900 million and, in 2017, it was $400 million out of $900 million.
The Obama administration did not certify in Pakistan’s favour in 2015
and 2016. A decision by the Trump administration for 2017 is pending. In
August 2017, the administration kept $255 million in military assistance to
Islamabad in suspension as it demanded specific action against terrorists.
The defence budget for 2018 reduced the CSF allocation to $700 million
and tied half of it to action against the Haqqani Network. A recent
congressional move to include Lashkar-e-Taiba also in the same category of
certification requirement was dropped after the Pentagon resisted it.
Unveiling his strategy for Afghanistan in August 2018, Mr. Trump had
censured Pakistan and named India as a partner.
California legalised marijuana
The arrival of the new year in California brought with it broad
legalisation of marijuana, a much-anticipated change that comes two decades
after the State was the first to allow pot for medical use.
The nation’s most populous State joins a growing list of other States,
and the nation’s capital, where so-called recreational marijuana is
permitted even though the federal government continues to classify pot as a
Pot is now legal in California for adults 21 and older, and individuals
can grow up to six plants and possess as much as an ounce of the drug.
About 90 businesses received state licenses to open on New Year’s Day.
Just after midnight, some Californians were raising blunts instead of
In 1996, over the objections of law enforcement, President Bill
Clinton’s drug czar and three former Presidents, California voters approved
marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Twenty years later, voters approved legal recreational use and gave the
State a year to write regulations for a legal market that would open in
29 States have adopted medical marijuana laws. In 2012, Colorado and
Washington became the first States to legalise recreational marijuana. Since
then, five more States have passed recreational marijuana laws, including
Massachusetts, where retail sales are scheduled to begin in July.
::BUSINESS AND ECONOMY ::
For asset valuation IBBI registration is must
Professionals carrying out asset valuations under Companies Act and
Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code will have to get themselves registered with
Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) from April to conduct such
activities, an official statement said.
“With effect from April 1, 2018, for conducting valuations required
under the Companies Act, 2013 and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016,
a person is to be registered with the IBBI as a registered valuer,” the
Ministry of Corporate Affairs said in a statement.
A government notification in October had delegated powers and functions
to the IBBI under Companies Act and designated it as the authority under the
Companies (Registered Valuers and Valuation) Rules, 2017.
As per the notification, a valuer needs to have necessary qualification
and experience, be a member of a recognised valuer organisation and should
be registered with IBBI to carry out such activities.
FinMin permitted to rectify GST returns
The Finance Ministry has permitted businesses to rectify mistakes in
their monthly returns — GSTR-3B — and adjust tax liability, a move that will
help them file correct returns without fear of penalty.
This relaxation will give an opportunity to businesses to claim tax
credit correctly by rectifying the mistakes made initially while computing
Businesses have been finding it difficult to assess tax liability
correctly after India moved to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime with
effect from July 1.
Industry bodies have been demanding relaxation of norms and easier
compliance provisions to help businesses adapt to the new system of filing
tax returns online.
The CBEC, in a recent communication to field officers, has said “as
return in Form GSTR-3B does not contain provisions for reporting of
differential figures for past month(s), the said figures may be reported on
net basis along with the values for current month itself in appropriate
::SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ::
Identified Unknown microbes in space
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have for the
first time identified microbes in space without having to send samples back
to Earth for tests.
The ability to identify microbes in space could aid in the ability to
diagnose and treat astronaut ailments in real time, as well as assisting in
the identification of DNA-based life on other planets.
It could also benefit other experiments aboard the orbiting laboratory.
Identifying microbes involves isolating the DNA of samples, and then
amplifying or making many copies of that DNA that can then be sequenced, or
The investigation was broken into two parts: the collection of the
microbial samples and amplification by Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), then
sequencing and identification of the microbes.
NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson conducted the experiment aboard the
orbiting laboratory, with NASA microbiologist and the project’s Principal
Investigator Sarah Wallace and her team watching and guiding her from the
“Once we actually got the data on the ground we were able to turn it
around and start analysing it,” said Aaron Burton, NASA biochemist.
The samples were returned to Earth soon after. Biochemical and
sequencing tests were completed in ground labs to confirm the findings from
the space station. Researchers ran tests multiple times to confirm accuracy.
Genes which may give corals new lease of life
Scientists have identified a gene that improves the heat tolerance of
the algae that live symbiotically with coral species, and could potentially
help the corals adapt to some warming.
Symbiodinium is a unicellular algae that provides its coral host with
photosynthetic products in return for nutrients and shelter.
However, high sea temperatures can cause the breakdown of this symbiotic
relationship and lead to the widespread expulsion of Symbiodinium from host
tissues, an event known as coral beaching. If bleached corals do not
recover, they starve to death, leaving only their white, calcium-carbonate
Now, researchers from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
in Saudi Arabia have identified special genes, called retrotransposons,
which could help the algae adapt more rapidly to heat stress.
During their study, most genes commonly associated with heat stress were
turned off, while a small number of retrotransposons were turned on.
The team suggests that the activation and replication of Symbiodinium’s
retrotransposons in response to heat stress could lead to a faster
evolutionary response, “since producing more mutations increases the chance
of generating a beneficial one that allows the symbionts to cope better with
this specific stress,” said geneticist and principal investigator, Manuel
Tacotron 2” Google’s new AI system
In a major step towards its “AI first” dream, Google has developed a
text-to-speech artificial intelligence (AI) system that will confuse you
with its human-like articulation.
The tech giant’s text-to-speech system called “Tacotron 2” delivers an
AI-generated computer speech that almost matches with the voice of humans,
technology news website Inc.com reported.
At Google I/O 2017 developers conference, the company’s CEO Sundar
Pichai announced that the internet giant was shifting its focus from
mobile-first to “AI first” and launched several products and features,
including Google Lens, Smart Reply for Gmail and Google Assistant for iPhone.
According to a paper published in arXiv.org , the system first creates a
spectrogram of the text, a visual representation of how the speech should
That image is put through Google’s WaveNet algorithm, which uses the
image and brings AI closer than ever to mimicking human speech. It can
easily learn different voices and even generates artificial breaths. “Our
model achieves a mean opinion score (MOS) of 4.53 comparable to a MOS of
4.58 for professionally recorded speech,” the researchers were quoted as