Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 28 December 2017

SSC CGL Current Affairs

Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 28 December 2017

::NATIONAL::

Indian Science Congress will be held in Manipal University

  • The 2018 edition of the historic Indian Science Congress will be held at Manipur University, Imphal, in March.
  • The event was scheduled at the Osmania University (OU), Hyderabad, in the first week of January but had to be moved out due to “security problems.” This was the first time the 106-year-old ISC — the largest congregation of scientists in India — had to be postponed at the last minute.
  • The congress sees several students, Nobel Laureates and scientists from India’s science academies in attendance. Fresh registrations would now be required, Prof. Gangadhar said.
  • Since the days of Jawaharlal Nehru, the ISC was traditionally the first public function the Prime Minister addressed in the calendar year.
  • Student unrest has rattled the OU since December 3 last year, after the suicide of a student and this was among the key reasons that led to its withdrawal as a venue. Moreover, funds allotted by the ISCA to the OU to spruce up the campus and prepare for the event were mostly unspent, sources said.
  • The choice of venue is usually decided a year in advance and the massive logistical exercise involves coordinating the visit of several Nobel Laureates, heads of Indian science academies and thousands of students.
  • In recent years, the Science Congress has also got flak for being a forum that promoted pseudo science, such as in 2014, when a session on mythology and Vedic-era airplanes was a highlight.
  • India-born Chemistry Laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan had castigated the congress as a “circus.”

Re-Branding Kerala

  • Festivals have always been a popular attraction for tourists visiting God’s Own Country. Now as part of a re-branding exercise, Kerala Tourism is launching a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based inventory of around 1,000 festivals in the State. These will be promoted as tourist attractions.
  • The GIS-based Festival Inventory of Kerala, a geo-coded, user-friendly web application, offers the user a comprehensive platform that maps listed festivals to their respective venues.
  • It details each festival’s legend, origin, popularity, duration, associated celebrations, rituals, and directions to the venue, along with the name of a contact person for further queries.
  • Accessible at http://www.demo.prixelmedia. com/festival/fest/ for now, the spatial data is enhanced with features that allow dynamic navigation based on calendar, categories, and places.
  • The map-based search allows a user to identify the location and plan the journey. It also includes details such as the annual festivities at the various shrines, boat races, Theyyams, music and dance festivals, and sporting events.
  • Of the festivals, 82 are in Kasargod district; Kannur 85, Wayanad 44, Kozhikode 61, Malappuram 63, Palakkad 54, Thrissur 88, Ernakulam 85, Idukki 68, Kottayam 102, Alappuzha 82, Pathanamthitta 55, Kollam 53 and the highest of 104 is in Thiruvananthapuram.
  • A variety of unique and lesser known events such as the Shadow Puppetry Festival, Malabar River Festival, Manaveeyam Queer Fest, Oachira Kali, Splash-Wayanad, Ananthapuri Chakka Mahotsavam, and Malabar International Kite Festival also figure in the inventory.
  • Ten common festivals celebrated across the State in a secular spirit have also been included. The details of each festival are accessible as PDF documents.
  • Executed by GITPAC International for Kerala Tourism at a cost of Rs. 28 lakh, the GIS inventory is the outcome of one-and-a-half years of research and visits to the festival venues spread across the State.
  • With the rolling out the inventory, Kerala Tourism plans to market the State’s cultural heritage and legacy in international travel fairs, festivals and road shows. A festival calendar is already available on the official website.

Air freight corridor service between Kabul-Mumbai

  • India and Afghanistan launched an air freight corridor service connecting Kabul with Mumbai. Afghan Vice-President Sarwar Danish flagged off the first flight of the dedicated service from Kabul, six months after a similar corridor connected the city with Delhi.
  • The Afghan media reported that during the ceremony, Mr. Danish commented on the importance of such connectivity initiative. “India also promised to hold exhibition for Afghan traders in Mumbai city and they want to create business chambers.”
  • Deputy Chairman of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) Khan Jan Alokozay expressed hope that connectivity with India’s commercial capital would increase fruit exports from Afghanistan.
  • Afghan officials said since the launch of the corridor to New Delhi, fruits and medicines worth $20 million had been imported by India.
  • The air corridor marks an important bilateral development as it comes as Afghanistan joined Pakistan and China in a trilateral talk in Beijing which marked Kabul’s opening up to Islamabad.

Israel takes India’s vote in its stride

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to India in a fortnight will focus on taking cooperation on “the double-T’s” of technology, including on agriculture and water conservation, and (counter-) terrorism to the “next level”, according to officials familiar with the planning of the visit.
  • They also indicated that Israel’s unhappiness with India’s vote at the United Nations had been put behind both countries in a “diplomatic” manner.
  • Mr. Netanyahu’s visit comes close on the heels of India’s decision to vote for a resolution that criticised the United States for its shift on the status of Jerusalem, and urged Israel to keep its commitments on talks for the two-state solution.
  • Officials did not deny that the Israeli government had lodged a protest with India about its vote, but indicated that India’s stand had to be seen in the larger context of its growing alignment with Israel on other issues.
  • In particular Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel in July 2017 as the first Indian PM there. As a result, Israel had used “the right diplomatic channels” to express its sentiments.
  • India’s vote at the UN had been seen as move by the Modi government to affirm its traditional position on the Israel-Palestine peace process, as well as to strike a balance in ties between the two countries, especially ahead of an expected visit by Prime Minister Modi to Palestine in 2018.
  • Mr. Netanyahu, who is expected to be in India for a four-day four-city tour that will take him to Agra, Ahmedabad and Mumbai, apart from his official meetings in Delhi which he will begin his visit with.
  • On January 16, Mr. Netanyahu will deliver the keynote address at the External Affairs Ministry’s annual think-tank event, the “Raisina Dialogue.” Mr. Netanyahu, who will be accompanied by his wife, Sara Netanyahu, will also visit the Taj Mahal in Agra.
  • In Mumbai, Mr. Netanyahu, whose delegation will include a big business team of about 75-100 companies, will engage with industrialists as well as the film industry.
  • An evocative ceremony is also expected at Mumbai’s Chabad House, one of the sites of the Mumbai 26/11 terror attack, and where Moshe, an infant whose parents were killed and his nanny who saved him will fly in from Israel to join Mr. Netanyahu.
  • Mr. Modi is also expected to accompany Mr. Netanyahu during much of the visit which will have its last stop in Gujarat.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

China says CPEC’s extension is not targeted at any other country

  • Without naming India, China said that no country should exercise its influence to undermine the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which could include Afghanistan as its new member.
  • Referring to Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s observations at the joint press conference with his counterparts from Pakistan and Afghanistan, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said that “CPEC is not directed at any third party, and we hope to bring benefits to third parties and the whole region.”
  • But she warned that the trilateral dialogue “should not be influenced or disturbed by any country’s influence”.
  • India opposes CPEC as it infringes on its sovereignty on account of its passage through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).Ms. Hua affirmed that Afghanistan was keen to join CPEC
  • China’s mediation to normalise ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan includes interactions with Afghan and Pakistani clerics belonging to the two Ulema Councils, in order to prevent the spread of religious extremism.

The last man who speaks Taushiro

  • The words are Taushiro. A mystery to linguists and anthropologists alike, the language was spoken by a tribe that vanished into the jungles of the Amazon basin in Peru generations ago, hoping to save itself from the invaders whose weapons and diseases had brought it to the brink of extinction.
  • A bend on the river sheltered the two brothers and the other 15 remaining members of their tribe. The clan protected its tiny settlement with a ring of deep pits, expertly hidden by a thin cover of leaves and sticks.
  • Even by the end of the 20th century, few outsiders had ever seen the Taushiro or heard their language beyond the occasional hunter, a few Christian missionaries and the armed rubber tappers who came at least twice to enslave the small tribe.
  • The Taushiro were among the world’s last hunter-gathers, living as refugees in their own country. To count in their language, they had words only for the numbers 1 , 2 , 3 and, then, many .
  • The entire legacy of the Taushiro people now lies with its last speaker, a person who never expected such a burden and has spent much of his life overwhelmed by it. He continues to live in Intuto.
  • Working with Amadeo, government linguists have created a database of 1,500 Taushiro words, 27 stories and three songs, with plans to make recordings of Amadeo available to linguists.

::BUSINESS AND ECONOMY::

Govt may miss fiscal deficit target

  • The Centre has decided to borrow an additional Rs. 50,000 crore in the last three months of this financial year, a move that some economists said could result in the government missing its budgeted fiscal deficit target of 3.2% of GDP.
  • Announcing the borrowing calendar for the fourth quarter, the Finance Ministry said that the additional borrowing, which would be done through government bonds, would, however, be offset by trimming T-Bills (treasury bills) from Rs. 86,203 crore to Rs. 25,006 crore.
  • “The Government will trim down the T-Bills from present collections of Rs. 86,203 crore to Rs. 25,006 crore by March end, 2018. (ii) The Government will raise additional market borrowings of Rs. 50,000 crore only in fiscal FY18 through dated government securities. (iii) The Government will thus, between now and March 2018.”
  • In the Union Budget, the government had factored gross and net market borrowing at Rs. 5,80,000 crore and Rs. 4,23,226 crore respectively, with Rs. 3,48,226 crore proposed to be raised (net) from bonds and Rs. 2,002 crore from T-bills.
  • “Most importantly, this should also alter the fiscal consolidation path,” Mr. Ghosh said. “So, if this year’s fiscal deficit is 3.5% or higher, next year’s deficit should also stay close to that.
  • Because, the government may not want to go for an aggressive consolidation in an election year since it needs to spend more to push growth, which is still picking up.”
  • The Finance Ministry said borrowings had so far been “in line”, suggesting the government doesn’t apprehend significant fiscal slippage.
  • “Borrowings in FY 18 till date (December 26, 2017) have been conducted in line with the borrowing calendar for FY18. Gross and net market borrowings in FY18 till December 26, 2017, are Rs. 5,21,000 crore and Rs. 3,81,281 crore, excluding buyback/switches, respectively.
  • As against the budgeted net T-bills receipt of Rs. 2,002 crore in FY18, net collections till December 26, 2017, are Rs. 86,203 crore.”
  • Another factor that would come into play next year, Mr. Ghosh said, was that the deficit would be on the basis of a larger GDP number.

India’s export push to face headwinds

  • India’s efforts to increase exports could face several external and domestic challenges in 2018.
  • “(In 2018), global trade may not perform as strongly as in 2017,” Standard Chartered cautioned in a recent note to clients. “Asia, the region most open to trade, cannot count on the same degree of external support that it received in 2017.”
  • Among the many factors, the bank listed multiple political event risks — including in the Middle East and Europe (‘possible polls in Germany and the Brexit negotiation process’) — which could knock the markets, and global growth, off track in 2018.
  • Earlier, the Centre announced incentives to the tune of Rs. 8,450 crore in its mid-term review of Foreign Trade Policy to help increase exports of goods and services, particularly from labour-intensive segments and small firms as well as to boost job creation and value-addition in the country.
  • The announcement came in the backdrop of India’s shipments contracting in October — the first after 14 successive months of positive growth — in the impact of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
  • Though exports posted a healthy 30.5% growth in November, a Nomura report said “growth in labour-intensive exports (leather products, ready-made garments) remains weak, possibly because of working capital issues due to delayed GST refunds.”
  • While trade data reflected a solid export rebound, with imports remaining elevated, the current account deficit (CAD) could widen to 2-2.5% of GDP in Q4 from 1.2% in Q3. The CAD may widen to 2% of GDP in 2018 from 1.5% in 2017, mainly due to higher oil prices, it observed.
  • Measures, including lower interest rates, incentives for small firms to take part in global exhibitions as well as reducing their tax burden would boost exports.
  • These steps, along with expediting GST refunds and improvement in logistics, could further boost exports.

Plastics sector looks to enhance exports

  • Plastic manufacturers in India are examining ways to increase exports overcoming the strong headwinds they have been facing, industry officials said.
  • Though India has big manufacturers like Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL), they account for less than 1% market share in the more than $800 billion global exports market for plastics. However, efforts are on to grow this base.
  • “Post Goods and Services Tax (GST) introduction, we have taken up important issues and concerns of members with the concerned ministry for remedial action in terms of fast-tracking of IGST refunds, exemption of merchant exporters from GST on procurement against bond or Letter of Undertaking (LUT),” he said.
  • In the first six months of the current financial year, India exported plastics worth $3.49 billion as compared with the $3.19 billion reported during the first six months of the previous financial year, registering an increase of 9.5%.
  • In the current financial year, plastic exports were expected to grow by 6% from $7.56 billion in 2016-17 to $8 billion and PLEXCONCIL was confident that this target would be surpassed.
  • India exports plastics to more than 185 countries with the United States and China being some of the major importers.
  • Though the industry offers huge growth potential due to low labour cost and availability of skilled manpower, the fragmented nature of the industry is hindering growth. Slower adoption of newer technologies, mainly by the MSME sector, is adding to the problem.
  • “The industry is dominated by the MSME sector, particularly the small scale industry, which urgently requires government support in the form of Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) to replace their obsolete machines,” the Council said.

::SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY::

First known Hybrid bird species discovered

  • Scientists have discovered the first known hybrid bird species to be found in the Amazon rainforest — a golden-crowned manakin with yellow feathers.
  • Through a series of genetic tests, researchers found that the golden-crowned manakin — first discovered in Brazil in 1957 but not seen again until 2002 — is in fact a hybrid species.
  • “While hybrid plant species are very common, hybrid species among vertebrates are exceedingly rare,” said Jason Weir from the University of Toronto in Canada.
  • A hybrid species forms when two parental species mate to produce a hybrid population, which then stops being able to freely interbreed with the parental species.

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