Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 27 December 2017

SSC CGL Current Affairs

Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 27 December 2017

::NATIONAL::

BCI considering plea to ban lawmakers as practising advocates

  • An expert committee of the Bar Council of India is considering a plea to ban lawmakers — Members of Parliament and Members of the Assemblies — from doubling up as practising advocates, saying they are salaried public servants and cannot ride two horses at the same time.
  • “The three-member panel is examining the provisions of the Advocates Act and the Bar Council of India Rules in this respect,” Bar Council of India (BCI) Chairman and senior advocate Manan Kumar Mishra told.
  • The panel is composed of top BCI office bearers and advocates B.C. Thakur, R.G. Shah and D.P. Dhal.
  • The petition filed by Supreme Court advocate Ashwini Upadhyay contended that MPs and MLAs draw their salaries from the Consolidated Fund of India, hence, are “employees of the state”.

Rupani sworn in as 16th chief minister of Gujarat

  • Vijay Rupani was sworn in as the 16th Chief Minister of Gujarat along with 19 Ministers, including Nitin Patel, Deputy Chief Minister, after the BJP’s victory in the recent Assembly elections.
  • The ruling party won the elections for the sixth consecutive time, though with a reduced tally of seats.
  • The portfolios of the new Ministers are likely to be allotted before the first Cabinet meeting.
  • The 20-member Council of Ministers was administered the oath of secrecy and office in a high-profile function in the presence of top leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP patriarch L.K. Advani, party president Amit Shah, top Union Ministers and Chief Ministers from the BJP and NDA-ruled States.
  • Besides Mr. Rupani and Mr. Patel, other top names sworn in include former State BJP chief RC Faldu, former Minister Kaushik Patel and sitting Ministers such as Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, Dilip Thakor, and Jayesh Radadia.

GST collection fell down

  • The Goods and Services Tax (GST) collection in November fell further to Rs. 80,808 crore from Rs. 83,346 crore in October, show official data released.
  • “The total collection under the GST for November has been Rs. 80,808 crore till December 25, 2017,” the government said.
  • “[A total of] 99.01 lakh taxpayers have been registered under the GST till December 25, of which 16.60 lakh are composition dealers who are required to file returns every quarter. [A total of] 53.06 lakh returns have been filed for November till December 25.”
  • The government collected as much as Rs. 92,283 crore in July, Rs. 90,669 crore in August, and Rs. 92,150 crore in September.
  • Of the Rs. 80,808 crore collected in November, Rs. 13,089 crore is under the Central GST (CGST), Rs. 18,650 crore under the State GST (SGST), Rs. 41,270 crore under the Integrated GST (IGST) and Rs. 7,798 crore from the compensation cess.
  • Tax experts say the fall in the collection is along expected lines, due in part to the large number of rate reductions that came into effect on November 15. They reckon that the collection will improve from January.
  • “The dip in collection for November is on expected lines, as the rates of over 175 items were reduced from November 15 and refunds to exporters started recently,” Pratik Jain, leader, Indirect Tax, at PwC India, said in a press note.
  • “Even for December, there could be an impact of the opening credit claim for which the last date is December 27. From January, the collection should stabilise.”
  • The right number will be reflected in the last quarter of 2017-18, or maybe the first quarter of the next financial year. The reduction was expected, and the government had done these calculations. It is hoped that the level of compliance improves further so that the revenue is back on track.
  • Others point to more systemic problems in the GST implementation, highlighting that the GST Council had deferred the filing of the GSTR-2 and GSTR-3 forms, and tax filers were wary of the GST Network portal, which had been hit by glitches initially.
  • The government has suspended GSTR-2 and GSTR-3 owing to the difficulties in invoice-matching and the date for GSTR-1 has been extended several times.
  • “These extensions granted by the government have caused a negative message in the minds of taxpayers that due to the technical glitches, the GST Network is not ready to keep a check of faulty taxpayers.”
  • Mr. Bhargava said that since the simplified GSTR-3B form was on the basis of self-assessment, businesses might not report accurate figures, and this could have contributed to the lower collection.

India’s first pod taxi project to become reality

  • The much-awaited India’s first pod taxi project has moved a step closer to reality after a high-level panel recommended inviting fresh bids for the same conforming to the strictest safety standards on the lines of those prescribed by an American body.
  • The projected Rs. 4,000-crore pod taxi scheme — also known as Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) — is a dream project of Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, and the NHAI has been mandated to execute it on Delhi-Gurgaon pilot corridor (12.3 km) from Delhi-Haryana border to Rajiv Chowk in Gurgaon on a PPP (public-private partnership) basis.
  • “The committee recommends issuance of a fresh EOI (expression of interest) incorporating (automated people movers) APM standards and specifications, along with other general safety parameters with Niti Aayog recommendations,” the five-member committee set up for technical and safety standards of PRT, headed by transport expert S K Dhramadhikari, said.
  • The ambitious project has been plagued by delays as government think-tank Niti Aayog raised some red flags, asking the highways ministry to direct initial bidders to prepare a 1-km pilot stretch as all the technologies were unproven.
  • Subsequent delays were caused due to formation of the high- powered committee to lay down safety and other specifications.
  • PRT is an advanced public transport using automated electric pod cars to provide a taxi-like demand responsive feeder and shuttle services for small groups of travellers and is a green mode of uninterrupted journey.
  • The committee in its report, a copy of which is with PTI, also recommended framing of request for quotation (RFQ) based on discussions with interested players and stressed the need for evaluation, based on performance in the test sections.
  • The automated people mover (APM) standards in the US as recommended by the committee for the maiden PRT in India have been prepared by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and these constitute the minimum requirements for an acceptable level of safety and performance for the PRT.
  • “The APM standards include minimum requirements for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the various sub-systems of an APM system and are in general relevant for a PRT,” the committee said.
  • These include vehicle arrival audio and video visual warning system, platform sloping, evacuation of misalighted vehicles, surveillance/CCTV, audio communication, emergency call points and fire protection, among other advanced systems, it added.
  • The pilot project, to be taken up on design, build, finance, operate and transfer (DBFOT) basis, is meant for a 12.3-km stretch from Delhi-Haryana border on NH 8 (near Ambience Mall) to Badshahpur via Rajiv Chowk, IFFCO and Sohna Road.
  • The model is in place in London’s Heathrow airport, Morgantown and Masdar city.
  • Earlier, three global companies, including New Zealand’s Metrino Personal Rapid Transit that later called off its joint venture with Indian partner Gawar construction, were picked during initial bids for the project.

China to maintain communication with India regarding Tibet lakes

  • China will maintain communication with India on efforts to manage the massive lakes formed by landslips on the Brahmaputra in Tibet following an earthquake, a Chinese Foreign Ministry official said. The formation of these lakes had triggered fears of a sudden flooding on the Indian side.
  • Reports say three huge artificial lakes, whose size and the volume of water impounded are yet to be ascertained, were formed in the Brahmaputra, locally known as the Yarlung Tsangpo, due to landslips after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake in Tibet.
  • The massive accumulation of water has caused concerns that if the lakes merge or overflow, millions of people downstream along the banks of both the Siang (in Arunachal Pradesh) and the Brahmaputra (in Assam) would be affected.
  • The Chinese side, through the existing channels, will maintain communication with the Indian side on the cross-border rivers.
  • Ms. Hua said verification by the Chinese authorities had revealed that the lakes were on the eastern section of the India-China boundary.
  • Earlier, China had denied reports that the water in the Siang river had turned highly polluted because of attempts to build a massive tunnel to divert the water to the arid Xinjiang region. The issue was reportedly discussed at the recent talks between NSA Ajit Doval and Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

Afghan to be included into CPEC

  • China flagged the possible inclusion of Afghanistan in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — a move that is likely to irk India.
  • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi mooted a possible opening of the doors for Kabul’s entry in the backdrop of the first Foreign Ministers’ trilateral dialogue between China, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • India has opposed CPEC, which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), on the grounds that it infringes on its sovereignty.
  • Mr. Wang advocated that Afghanistan could join connectivity initiatives, in view of the urgency of improving its people’s lives.
  • “So China and Pakistan are willing to look at with Afghanistan, on the basis of win-win, mutually beneficial principles, using an appropriate means to extend CPEC to Afghanistan,” the Pajhwok Afghan News quoted Mr. Wang as saying.
  • China has called CPEC a “flagship project” of its Belt and Road Initiative, aimed at building connectivity along the Eurasian corridor. A joint statement released at the end of the one-day conference said that the three countries reaffirmed their commitment to “advancing connectivity under the Belt and Road Initiative”.
  • Analysts say that the proposal providing the landlocked Afghanistan an access to the port of Gwadar — the starting point of CPEC— may be intended to balance, if not undermine, the India-Afghanistan-Iran trilateral agreement, which gives Kabul access to the Iranian port of Chabahar.
  • The first meeting of the three Foreign Ministers follows Mr. Wang’s visit to Kabul and Islamabad in June. During that visit, “Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed that they are building up a new mechanism of crisis management, including information sharing and intelligence cooperation.
  • Referring to the trilateral proposal, Mr. Hu said that “The significance is that with this kind of mechanism, China will do its best to stabilise the bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
  • Observers point out that China’s de facto mediation between Pakistan and Afghanistan is being domestically seen as a test case for similar efforts in other global hotspots. It follows Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech at the 19th Party Congress where he proposed that China would work towards establishing a global “community of shared destiny”.
  • The joint statement listed establishing “political mutual trust and reconciliation, development cooperation and connectivity, security cooperation and counterterrorism as three topics of the trilateral cooperation”.
  • The three Foreign Ministers agreed to “communicate and consult” on defining a Memorandum of Understanding on counterterrorism, it said.

::BUSINESS AND ECONOMY::

2017 proved to be best year for Indian equity market

  • The year 2017 proved to be the best-ever in the Indian equity market in terms of money raised through public issues, with 36 firms raising almost Rs. 67,000 crore. That is more than the cumulative total raised in six years till 2016 when 103 firms entered the market to raise a little more than Rs. 55,000 crore.
  • Interestingly, the record mobilisation was primarily due to the insurance sector which saw some of the largest entities entering the capital market this year. The top five public issues of the year — totalling close to Rs. 44,000 crore — were all from the sector, namely, General Insurance Corporation, New India Assurance, HDFC Standard Life Insurance, SBI Life Insurance and ICICI Lombard General Insurance, as per data from Prime Database.
  • “There was an overall optimism in the secondary markets and foreign flows though volatile were largely positive that led to many companies hitting the market,” he said.
  • A recent note from Motilal Oswal Financial Services attributes the record mobilisation to the optimistic market mood and strong fund flows amidst which the key indices delivered positive returns.
  • Incidentally, the BSE Sensex has risen almost 28% in the current calendar year, which is the best return for the benchmark since 2014 when it gained close to 30%. While the Sensex lost a little more than 5% in 2015, it ended almost flat in 2016 with a gain of less than 2%.
  • Further, the year 2017 has, till date, seen foreign flows totalling almost Rs. 49,000 crore, or more than double the Rs. 20,568 croreseen last year.
  • The optimism was not limited to large firms but was also seen on the platform created for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The year saw 133 SMEs listing, raising a record Rs. 1,785 crore — higher than the cumulative amount raised since the platform was introduced in 2012 till 2016.
  • The segment showed further signs of maturity with companies raising, on average, more than Rs. 40 crore — a stark deviation from earlier years when the average issue size on the SME platform was in the range of Rs. 20-30 crore.
  • The year’s biggest SME IPO was that of Zota Health Care with an issue size of Rs. 55 crore. Euro India Fresh Foods, Jash Engineering and One Point One Solutions all entered the market with an offering size of more than Rs. 40 crore.
  • The market saw unprecedented buoyancy backed by strong domestic demand, with SMEs seeing good performance post listing as well, said Mahavir Lunawat, MD, Pantomath Capital Advisors, an investment banking entity in the SME space.
  • Most market participants expect the optimism to continue in 2018 as many companies are in the pipeline to hit the capital market in the coming months.
  • According to Prime Database, issues worth more than Rs. 12,000 crore are waiting on the sidelines with all regulatory approvals in place. Further, there are about eight companies with a cumulative issue size of close to Rs. 18,000 crore waiting for approvals from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
  • A note from State Bank of India said the rise in IPOs presented a good picture for corporates as it represents a better option for raising money. Some names in the pipeline include Hindustan Aeronautics, Nakshatra World, ICICI Securities, National Stock Exchange and Reliance General Insurance.
  • “The trends will continue in 2018 as there is already a pipeline of around Rs. 50,000 crore. Importantly, the year is expected to see companies from more diversified sectors and not too much concentration in terms of size and sectors,” said Mr. Roy.

India to become fifth largest economy in 2018

  • India is set to overtake the United Kingdom and France to become the world’s fifth largest economy next year, a report said.
  • Currently ranked seventh, India will move up to fifth place in 2018 and vault to third spot by 2032, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), a London-based consultancy, said in its annual rankings.
  • The Indian economy hit a three-year low in the first quarter of the current financial year, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s snap decision in November 2016 to scrap high-value banknotes and following a tax overhaul.
  • Growth slumped to 5.7% for the three months ending June but recovered slightly to 6.3% for the quarter ending September.
  • “Despite temporary setbacks... India’s economy has still caught up with that of France and the U.K. and in 2018 will have overtaken them both to become the world’s fifth largest economy in dollar terms,” said CEBR deputy chairman Douglas McWilliams. Cheap energy and a digital revolution will drive economic growth globally, it said.

Panel seeks more powers for SEZ board

  • A committee constituted by the Department of Commerce — to make recommendations for aligning the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Rules with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) laws as well as for removal of various difficulties faced — has suggested that the inter-ministerial Board of Approval (BoA) be accorded powers to grant exemption, relaxation or relief to units and developers from certain rules to promote these zones.
  • In its 39-page report, to which stakeholders can send comments till this month-end, the committee, under the chairmanship of L.B. Singhal, Development Commissioner, Noida SEZ, recommended, “The BoA [the highest decision-making body on SEZs] may, in public interest, pass such orders or grant such exemption, relaxation or relief, as it may deem fit and proper, on grounds of genuine hardship and adverse impact on trade to any person or class or category of persons from any provisions of SEZ Rules.”
  • While granting such exemption, the BoA may impose such conditions as it may deem fit, it added.

Govt sends out strong message to corporates

  • Sending out a strong message to corporates, the government has said that non-compliance will be “very costly” and strong deterrents will be there to curb the dangerous adventure of using companies for wrongful purposes.
  • Continuing the clampdown on illicit fund flows, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has already struck off more than 2.24 lakh companies that have not been doing business for long and disqualified more than three lakh directors associated with such entities.
  • Against this backdrop, Corporate Affairs Secretary Injeti Srinivas said things are being simplified for legitimate businesses while checks are being strengthened against illegal business activities.
  • “It should be very easy to be compliant and very costly to be non-compliant. We want this. There should be a strong deterrent against illegal business. People using the company for wrong purposes, that should be a very dangerous adventure,” he told in an interview.

::SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY::

Now, a big bubble theory

  • Scientists have said that the solar system could have formed in the bubbles produced by a giant, long-dead star, which was 40 to 50 times the size of the sun.
  • Despite the many impressive discoveries humans have made about the universe, scientists are yet to come to a consensus about the birth story of the solar system.
  • The prevailing theory is that the solar system formed billions of years ago near a supernova.
  • But the new scenario, explained in a paper in the Astrophysical Journal , begins with a giant type of star called a Wolf-Rayet star.
  • They burn the hottest of all stars, producing tonnes of elements which are flung off the surface in an intense stellar wind.
  • As the Wolf-Rayet star sheds its mass, the stellar wind ploughs through the material around it, forming a bubble structure with a dense shell.
  • “The shell of such a bubble is a good place to produce stars,” because dust and gas become trapped inside where they can condense into stars, said study co-author Nicolas Dauphas, Professor at University of Chicago in the U.S.
  • The researchers estimate that 1% to 16% of all sun-like stars could be formed in such stellar nurseries.
  • The study addresses a nagging cosmic mystery about the presence of two elements in our solar system compared to the rest of the galaxy.
  • Meteorites left over from the early solar system suggests there was a lot of aluminium-26. In addition, studies increasingly suggest the solar system had less of the isotope iron-60.
  • This brings scientists up short, because supernovae produce both isotopes.
  • “It begs the question of why one was injected into the solar system and the other was not,” said co-author Vikram Dwarkadas from the University of Chicago.
  • This brought the scientists to Wolf-Rayet stars, which release lots of aluminium-26, but no iron-60.
  • As for the fate of the giant Wolf-Rayet star, the researchers believe that its life ended long ago, likely in a supernova explosion or a direct collapse to a black hole.

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