Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 25 January 2018

SSC CGL Current Affairs

Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 25 January 2018

::NATIONAL::

Ban on tobacco sale at shops selling FMCG items : MH Govt.

  • The Maharashtra government banned the sale of tobacco at shops selling fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) items to ensure that children don’t consume tobacco.
  • The goods include packaged food and other consumables.
  • The FDA has also extended ban on ‘scented supari’ (areca nut) by six months till July 2018.
  • The central government had asked Maharashtra’s Chief Secretary to prohibit shops selling FMCGs from selling tobacco.
  • “This practice attracts teenagers to consume tobacco. Therefore, we came up with a notification on January 9, banning all shops selling FMCG items from selling any tobacco products,” Ms. Darade, Commissioner of Maharastra Food and Drug Administration said.

Indigenous Civil Airplane took off again

  • At 11 a.m, a nondescript civilian plane, painted in grey, took off from the HAL Airport.
  • For many in the National Aeronautical Laboratory, the flight held a special significance: the rise of their flagship programme.
  • Nearly a decade after a tragic crash of the 14-seater Saras, which effectively stalled the indigenous civilian aircraft programme, saw the first flight trial of the new version of the airplane, PT1N (Prototype 1 New).
  • Those in the know-how said the first of the over six “design confidence building” trials went off successfully.
  • For 40 minutes, the aircraft, accompanied by a defence escort, flew to speeds of 140 knots and reached a height of 8,500 feet, said officials.
  • Subsequent design and altitude alterations can see the flight reach closer to its top speed of 184 knots and 30,000 feet in height.
  • The aircraft programme, named after the Indian crane Saras, was first conceptualised in the 1990s as a way to establish a short-haul civil aviation market.
  • After decades on working out the design, NAL carried out its first flight on May 29, 2004.
  • On March 6, 2009, Prototype 2 crashed at Bidadi on the outskirts of the city killing two wing commanders and one flight test engineer.
  • A subsequent inquiry found that incorrect drill procedures were given to pilots during a test where engines were to be switched off and then relit.
  • The accident, however, had a lasting impact on the project, and by mid-2013, monetary sanctions for the project dried up.
  • It was only in 2015-end that the project restarted, and by Aero-India 2017 in Bengaluru, NAL announced that CSIR had given the go-ahead and flight tests would begin in 2018.
  • “It is a big morale booster for NAL to see a long-pending project gather steam,” said an official, when asked about what the short-flight means to the defence public sector unit.

Security issues main focus at ASEAN summit

  • Symbolism and ceremony will mark the 25th year commemorative summit of the ASEAN-India dialogue partnership, but officials say security issues in the Indo-Pacific will be the focus of discussions among the 10 leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • “Maritime Cooperation & Security”, the theme during the Leaders’ Retreat, will find “prominent mention” in the joint statements, said officials involved in the planning.
  • It is understood that Vietnam, which is tasked with drafting the statement, and India have both been keen on cooperation on Freedom of Navigation, access to waterways and countering piracy on the high seas as a key part of the Delhi Declaration, which would be seen as a strong message to China.
  • The ASEAN-India joint statement, on the theme of “Shared Values and Common Destiny” will focus on the “three Cs of connectivity, commerce and culture”.
  • Along with the issues of maritime security, cybersecurity and cooperation on fighting terrorism.
  • Other areas of divergence, that will not be in the joint statement could be taken up during the Retreat, where leaders will sit together informally in the majestic setting of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
  • Among them is the Rohingya issue, with the repatriation of refugees from Bangladesh being delayed after many including the UN cited a lack of guarantees for their safety in Myanmar.
  • India’s High Commissioner to Bangladesh gave a statement supporting the process.
  • However, the ASEAN-India grouping may find the issue too sensitive to broach in any formal way with Aung San Suu Kyi.
  • India’s difficulties with the 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will also be on the agenda for talks, as most ASEAN countries are keen to conclude the negotiations by 2018-end.
  • India is keen to discuss its concerns over China’s Belt and Road Initiative. However, this may not find as much traction.

SC questions Totalitarianism in Aadhaar cases

  • The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned the argument put forth by petitioners in Aadhaar cases that collection of personal information of citizens by the state would lead to totalitarianism.
  • It asked whether the state’s access to personal and biometric data was necessary to combat terrorism and crimes such as money-laundering.
  • Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, hearing the challenge to the Aadhaar scheme as a violation of the fundamental right to privacy, said an individual ought to have no objection if the state accessed his or her personal data to check if he was paying taxes.
  • What would be the problem if personal information was used only for the limited purpose for which it was collected, he asked.
  • But senior advocate Kapil Sibal said that at present, a citizen who had parted with his personal data and biometrics was in the dark about how the state was using them and whether or not these were safe at all.
  • “By the time the citizen gets to know, the Big Brother would have become a ‘Bigger Brother’,” he said.
  • Senior advocate Shyam Divan and advocate Vipin Nair, for the petitioners, argued that the whole idea was to prevent such a situation.
  • Mr. Divan submitted that cancellation of Aadhaar now would amount to turning off the switch on a person.
  • The authorities could do this if Aadhaar appeared fraudulent to them. Justice A.K. Sikri asked what was wrong in cancelling an Aadhaar number procured through fraud.
  • But Mr. Divan said there should be other alternatives to Aadhaar and a person’s very existence should not hinge on just one source.
  • He said a situation had arisen wherein a person ceased to exist and became a ghost, if his biometrics did not match. The arguments will continue on January 25.

Centre determined to reduce Population Growth before deadline

  • The UN’s World Population Prospect report may state that India’s population will equal China’s in the next seven years.
  • But the government seems determined to slow down the growth before that deadline.
  • According to our figures, 24 States and Union Territories in the country have achieved the total fertility rate (TFR) of 2.1%.
  • The TFR is defined as the total number of children born or likely to be born to a woman in her lifetime at the prevailing rate of age-specific fertility. Population stabilisation is said to be achieved at a TFR of 2.1 because a population just replaces itself at that rate.
  • Identified 146 districts across seven states — Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh — that have high TFR, for this project.
  • Among the things that are part of the plan is a range of contraceptive devices, medicines, counselling, special classes for family planning and in cases where there are social barriers, to work with institutions to dispel doubts.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

Japan and China to deepen ties

  • China and Japan appear set for a long-term engagement.
  • Based on a two-track approach, where Tokyo’s decision to build its military muscle can be leveraged to negotiate with Beijing from a position of strength.
  • The Nikkei Asian Review reported that Mr. Abe reiterated Japan’s readiness to push ahead with his “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy,”
  • It pursues stability and prosperity on the basis of an international rules-based order in the region.
  • The report highlighted that the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy policy was “originally” seen as aimed at addressing China’s maritime assertiveness, signalling a shift in stance.
  • It added: “But (Mr.) Abe also said Japan will cooperate with Beijing to meet growing demand for building infrastructure in Asia, bearing in mind President Xi Jinping’s “One Belt, One Road” cross-border infrastructure initiative”.
  • The Indo-Pacific doctrine was not focused on China’s so-called “containment”.
  • Instead it was an expression of anxiety regarding the uninterrupted flow of trade along important regional sea lanes.
  • Mr. Abe said Japan and China were “inseparable” countries.
  • Mr. Abe expressed his resolve to have reciprocal visits between him and Chinese President Xi Jinping “as soon as possible”.
  • The sources said the process of reciprocal visits could begin with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang’s visit to Japan for a trilateral meeting of China, Japan and South Korea.
  • That could be followed by a visit to China by Mr. Abe. Mr. Abe’s arrival in Beijing would set the stage for President Xi’s return visit to Japan.

::ECONOMY::

Capital infusion into PSBs

  • The government on Wednesday announced the details of the Rs. 2.1 lakh crore recapitalisation plan for public sector banks (PSBs)
  • It had announced in October 2017, including a reforms package across six themes including aspects like customer responsiveness, responsible banking, and increasing credit offtake.
  • The recapitalisation package would be spread across the current financial year 2017-18 and the next year 2018-19.
  • The capital infusion plan for 2017-18 includes Rs. 80,000 crore through recapitalisation bonds and Rs. 8,139 crore as budgetary support.
  • The recapitalisation package would follow a differentiated approach for banks that have been assigned for prompt corrective action (PCA) and those that have not.
  • The recapitalisation amount for PCA banks would be used for support to maintain their regulatory capital requirements, and to strengthen their governance and operations.
  • The amount for non-PCA banks is to be used for investment in growth capital.
  • Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg said recapitalisation bonds would not have an impact on the fiscal deficit as they would be “cash neutral.”

 Help us fight against Climate Change: Tea growers

  • The tea industry wants the Centre to help it fight climate change, which is affecting crop output. The common ground between the large estates and small tea growers — now an emerging force in the Indian tea industry — seems to be the incentives they are seeking to support the farm practices that have become necessary to combat climate change.
  • Small tea-growers, who have begun carving out an increasing share in India’s total crop, are urging the Centre to adopt a more farm-centric approach — one which would assist a majority among them, who grow tea on less than an acre.
  • “They are essentially farmers and they need schemes to protect them from the impact of climate change and resultant crop loss,” the Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers Association said in a representation to the Centre. “We strongly urge the government of India to implement crop insurance schemes and invest in preparing farmers.”
  • As erratic climate continues to affect output, the industry’s focus is on creating irrigation facilities and on replanting the older tea bushes. Almost 38% of the area under cultivation comprises tea bushes which are more than 50 years old. While the younger 10-year-old bushes cover 26% of the area, about 9-10% each fall in the intervening decadal categories spanning 11-50 years. The age of a bush is directly linked with yield.
  • Industry gets support for its investment in this regard through income tax deductions, with the floor limit set at Rs. 25 crore. This limit ought to be removed so as to enable investment in plant and machinery for irrigation, according to the industry.
  • The problem of small farmers having to face heavy crop loss due to recurring instances of hailstorms, frost, rains and droughts, in the absence of any system to compensate them, is another concern.
  • “We strongly urge the government to implement crop insurance schemes and invest in measures that would prepare farmers to face the challenge of climate change,” the growers’ body said. It also wanted the government to declare minimum support price for green tea leaf produced by small growers.
  • According to the Tea Board, small growers accounted for 44% of the 1,250.5 million kg of tea crop in 2016-17.
  • The organised tea industry, which is weighed down by social costs (mandated under the Plantation Labour Act and covering areas like housing, medical, potable water and subsidised rations), is also keen to see some direct tax relief for these expenses. Customs duty on specified machinery was 5% in 2003 and through yearly extensions continued at this level till 2011. Industry contends that the moderate increases in price do not cover the rise in inputs costs.
  • In respect of GST, the industry has sought some simplification and removal of anomalies that are affecting exporters.
  • On the value-added export front (tea bags), industry is looking for concessional duty on filter paper, multiwall paper and nylon cloth which is required for making tea bags.
  • “These products are either not available in the domestic market or of poor quality. Total duty incidence on these papers is very high making India uncompetitive,” industry said.

 New Norms for Insurance Brokers : IRDAI

  • IRDAI will soon announce a new set of regulations to govern insurance brokers.
  • The norms would cover issues concerning ownership and partnership.
  • The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Insurance Brokers) Regulations, 2013, are to be replaced by the new regulations.
  • The role of brokers is in improving insurance penetration.
  • People had to be made aware of the benefits of insurance.
  • The policies have to be bought as opposed to being sold.
  • The insurance business was growing very well, across life, non-life and even health verticals.
  • The Centre’s initiatives such as crop insurance and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Yojana had also “generated positive attitude in the people towards insurance.”
  • The challenges for the regulator, would be about adopting technology and digitisation of the insurance process for the benefit of the customers.
  • Digitisation would allow for a reduction in cost, improving the reach to the customer and usher in custom-made products using analytic tools.
  • Insurance Brokers Association of India president Sanjay Kedia said the gross domestic premium (non-life) contribution by insurance brokers was Rs. 30,442 crore in 2016-17.
  • There were 428 insurance brokers in the country.

::SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY::

 Conceived and Developed Indian Vaccine gets “Pre-qualified” status from WHO

  • For the first time, a vaccine conceived and developed from scratch in India has been “pre-qualified” by the World Health Organisation.
  • The Rotavac vaccine, developed by the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech Limited last year, was included in India’s national immunisation programme.
  • To be “pre-qualified” means that the vaccine can be sold internationally to several countries in Africa and South America.
  • While several vaccines from India have been pre-qualified, this is the first that was entirely developed locally and, according to experts, is a sign that there is a credible industrial, scientific and regulatory process in place to develop vaccines in India.
  • The Rotavac vaccine protects against childhood diarrhoea caused by the rotavirus and was built on strain of the virus isolated at the the All India Institute of Medical Sciences here over 30 years ago.
  • Some medics have raised concerns that the rotavirus vaccine carried a small chance of causing infants to develop a bowel disorder; but the Rotavac vaccine, having been tested in the field for over a year, have not shown any negative effect.

::OTHERS::

Amarnath driver gets gallantry award

  • A bus driver from Gujarat who drove through a hail of bullets and saved the lives of more than 50 Amarnath Yatra pilgrims last year has been selected for the Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak, the second highest honour given to civilians for gallantry after the Sarvottam Jeevan Raksha Padak.
  • The Home Ministry announced this ahead of Republic Day.
  • Sheikh Salim Gafur displayed rare grit and bravery and continued to drive the bus which came under attack on July 10, 2017 in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Seven pilgrims were killed and 14 injured when terrorists opened fire on the bus near Batengoo in Anantnag district, while 52 passengers escaped unharmed as Mr. Gafur showed presence of mind.
  • The State government will also honour him with a Rs. 1 lakh cash prize at a function to be held later.
  • The Jammu and Kashmir police got 38 of the 107 gallantry medals, followed by the CRPF (35) and the police forces of Chhattisgarh (10), Maharashtra (7) and Telangana (6). Five IPS officers are on the medal list.
  • The highest number of gallantry awards were won by security personnel involved in counter-terror operations in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • A total of 35 personnel serving in Naxal-affected areas and three in the Northeast too have made it to the gallantry list.
  • Seven police officials have been awarded the medal posthumously.
  • Among them six were from Chattishgarh who laid down their lives in anti-Naxal operations at Chintagufa in Sukma district.
  • Nand Kishore Prasad, assistant sub-inspector, CRPF, has been selected for the police gallantry medal for showing exemplary courage in an operation against terrorists who attacked a bus carrying BSF personnel on June 3, 2016.
  • Of the 785 police medals announced, 616 are for distinguished service.

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