Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 28 January 2018

SSC CGL Current Affairs

Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 28 January 2018

::NATIONAL::

1. Efforts to eliminate terrorism : India-Combodia

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Cambodian counterpart, Samdech Hun Sen, held talks to boost ties in key areas of defence, security and counter-terrorism.
  • Called for concerted global efforts to eliminate terrorism.
  • Includes blocking sources of terror financing and dismantling terrorist bases.
  • The two countries inked four pacts,

a) to improve cooperation in the prevention of crimes
b) improve cooperation in investigation of crimes
c) legal assistance in criminal matters
d) a line of credit from India to finance Cambodia’s Stung SvaHab water resources development project for $36.92 million.

  • In Defence, with on-going ship visits and training programs, agreed to further enhance ties, through exchanges of senior-level defence personnel and capacity-building projects.
  • Expressed a keen interest in enhancing cooperation in maritime domain.
  • Including preservation of marine and coastal environment.
  • Anti-piracy cooperation, security of sea lanes of communication to maintain peace.
  • Ensure safety and security of navigation in the Indo-Pacific Region.
  • Supported complete freedom of navigation and overflight.
  • Pacific resolution of maritime issues based on international law.
  • Proposed a line of credit in several key areas such as health, connectivity and digital connectivity.
  • Unequivocally condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
  • Described terrorism as “Curse” to mankind.

2. Eyes over LAC reveals Chinese build-up near Doklam

  • India and China are pursuing a “wide-ranging strategic build-up” in airbases close to the Doklam Plateau,
  • This is according to the latest analysis of satellite imagery acquired by Stratfor, an American geopolitical intelligence company.
  • The analysis looked at four critical airbases, two each on both sides, to study the air and air-defence aspects of the two countries.
  • India and China had been engaged in an almost two-month standoff at Doklam in the summer of 2017.
  • The LAC will remain a contentious border because both countries will continue to seek an advantage in this difficult terrain.
  • The company looked at imageries from two Indian airbases — Siliguri Bagdogra air base and the Hasimara Air Force Station.
  • Both depict “how India has moved to reinforce its air power close to the Doklam Plateau,” it says.
  • “Siliguri Bagdogra normally hosts a transport helicopter unit, while Hasimara was the base for the MiG-27ML ground attack aircraft until they were retired at the end of 2017.
  • Since the Doklam crisis of mid-2017, the Indian Air Force has greatly increased the deployment of Su-30MKI warplanes to these air bases as can be seen from the imagery.
  • A notable increase in helicopters and deployments of the KJ-500 airborne early warning and command aircraft in the two air bases, components of the HQ-9 long-range surface-to-air missile system and the Soar Dragon UAVs at Shigatse Peace Airport.
  • The Chinese made a number of major airfield upgrades at Shigatse immediately after the end of the crisis.
  • A new runway was constructed by mid-December, nine aircraft aprons measuring 41 metres by 70 metres were built along the main taxiway and eight helipads were set up in the northeast corner of the airfield.
  • This construction, along with the deployment of new equipment in greater numbers, highlights how China has undertaken a serious effort to improve capabilities close to the LAC.

::INTERATIONAL::

1. Medical marijuana legal : U.S States

  • New Jersey’s new Governor, Phil Murphy, made access to medical marijuana easier in the Garden State.
  • Earlier, California, with its nearly 40 million people, legalised recreational marijuana use, having cleared the way for medical marijuana in 1996.
  • Twenty-nine States in the U.S. now allow marijuana for medical purposes, while eight have legalised its recreational use.
  • As the acceptance of marijuana is growing, so are the opportunities to invest in it.
  • High-net-worth individuals have become a go-to source of investment dollars.
  • This is partly because of the size of many of the companies, which are generally too small for institutional investors.
  • But it’s also because many of the companies require affluent investors who are willing to operate in a moral and legal grey area.
  • Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.
  • Because of questions about the legality of marijuana, many banks will not accept deposits or conduct business relationships with cannabis companies.
  • Yet the returns are alluring.
  • Shares are rising for companies in Canada, where marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes and the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is pushing for it to be legalised recreationally.

2. Operation Olive Branch : Turkey

  • The U.S. has reiterated a pledge to Turkey to stop arming a Syrian Kurdish militia that Ankara is fighting, the Turkish presidency said, after the allies’ ties were strained by Turkey’s offensive in Syria.
  • “Confirmed” that Washington would “not give weapons to the YPG” militia.
  • Turkey launched its operation “Olive Branch” on January 20 against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, supporting Syrian opposition fighters with ground troops and air strikes.
  • Turkish Foreign Minister MevlutCavusoglu said the U.S. needs to withdraw from northern Syria’s Manbij region immediately.
  • Mr. Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey president said the Turkish forces would sweep Kurdish fighters from the Syrian border and could push all the way east, including to Manbij.

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::ECONOMY::

1. Short time stabilized GST widens base : Jaitley

  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Goods and Service Tax (GST) had stabilised in a ‘very short’ time and that it provided an opportunity to widen its base and further rationalise the rates in the future.
  • GST had brought about an entire change in the country’s indirect tax system.
  • It gives us an opportunity, in time to come, to increase its base and rationalise the structure as it continues to evolve.
  • At present, the GST has four rates — 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%.
  • In November, the GST Council had decided to keep only ‘sin’ goods and white goods under the 28% tax bracket and moved 178 items from the highest tax bracket to 18%.
  • Thirteen items were moved from the 18% to the 12% bracket; eight items from the 12% to the 5% bracket; six items from the 18% to the 5% category, while six other items moved from the 5% to the 0% slab.
  • Following the reduction on more than 200 items, collections hit their lowest in November from Rs. 80,808 crore in the October.

2. Funding of $330 billion to overcome housing shortage : ANB capital

  • India would require about $330 billion of construction funding to overcome housing shortage in the country and most of this money would be mobilised from global funds, according to an industry official.
  • The capital requirement in Indian real estate is immense.
  • The existing gross bank credit to the sector is less than $55 billion.
  • If we consider the larger sector beyond residential, the capital infusion requirements are virtually limitless.
  • Indian real estate is metamorphosing into a highly transparent industry into which all large global funds will want to enter aggressively.
  • In the GST era, there is also a lot of interest in warehousing and logistics.
  • While equity and debt capital was available, in most cases developers and funding avenues fail to connect with each other due to lack of resources, connections and intent.

3. Improve in Ease of doing business index- Reasonably Possible : Mr. Jaitley

  • Improving India’s ranking in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index is “reasonably possible”.
  • If various machineries, including the tax department, make concerted efforts to improve the three laggard parameters.
  • He also said that WTO talks have not made much headway in most areas, except trade facilitation, which helps cut costs and make it more efficient.
  • He said out of the 10 criteria which the World Bank followed, there were actually three that need to be improved —

a) one relating to municipal permission for land and buildings,
b) the second related to trading across borders and
c) the third to do with contract enforcement.

“Each one of these has a number of minute details which we need to satisfy and most of them are not very difficult to satisfy,” he said.

::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

1. Pulse Polio Immunisation (PPI) 2018

  • President Ram Nath Kovind, launched the Pulse Polio Immunisation (PPI) programme for 2018 here, by administering polio drops to children less than five years old at the RashtrapatiBhavan.
  • The event was organised on the eve of the National Immunisation Day, which is observed on 28 January.
  • More than 17 crore children of less than five years across the country will be given polio drops as part of the government’s drive to eradicate polio from the country.
  • The government is making all the possible efforts to protect children from more and more diseases.
  • Govt also introduced the injectable Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) into the routine immunisation programme.”
  • The Universal Immunisation Programme is focusing on safeguarding children from more diseases than ever before, and has introduced new vaccines like the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) and rotavirus vaccine.

2. Body clock trigger – Cock crow

  • There are few environmental signals to tell us that it is morning.
  • In cities you wake up when the alarm sounds. In villages you wake up to the crowing of the cock.
  • Records reveal that this has been happening since the Indus Valley days.
  • Scientists use the word rooster. Much research has been done on why the rooster crows.
  • Why they crow in the morning at day break has been the study of some bird scientists.
  • While several theories had been debated, the actual answer is that it is due to the body clock (or circadian rhythm) of the rooster.
  • Chicken are social animals, living in groups. When one rooster in the group crows at dawn, other roosters in the group join the chorus, though weakly and a bit later.
  • It appears the crowing is a means of advertising their territories, so that no foreign wars start.
  • They found that the one to crow first is the highest ranking rooster in the pack. He has priority to announce the break of dawn, the others are his subordinates.
  • The hens in the pen do not crow. They only chatter a bit and that too among themselves in the pack.
  • There might be a social order amongst them too, establishing a “pecking order” just as the males have a “crowing order.”
  • Do the hens too have a circadian clock built in them? Apparently so, particularly during ovulation and egg production.
  • And as the male hormone peaks up at pre-dawn hours in a rooster, the hormone gonadotropin appears important during ovulation of hens.
  • As to why hens only chatter while roosters crow so loud, the answer seems to lie in the differences in their anatomy.
  • The full-blown crowing intensity of a “king” rooster is as high as 143 db (that of a jet engine is about the same), of course this is when we are about a foot away.
  • With such a loud crowing, the rooster itself does not become deaf because that their ears are specially built.
  • The researchers strapped microphones to the rooster to their ears as it crowed.
  • They found that their ears are blocked when they crow; a quarter of their ear canals completely close and soft tissue covers half of their eardrums; in fact, they do not hear their own crowing at full strength.
  • Their skulls are also made so as to withstand this racket.
  • The hens, with their inherent wisdom, stay about a yard or meter away, so that they are not affected with the sound; even if they did, their hair cells in the inner ear apparently quickly regenerates.

3. Designer Molecules to be used for drug delivery

  • It is a marvel of synthetic chemistry that today we can build molecules pretty much like we make up structures with building blocks.
  • Using this method for their science at Dillip Kumar Chand’s lab at the Department of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, researchers have made a molecule that looks like a five-pointed star with its tips truncated.
  • All you have to do to build the molecule is to get together the component molecules and ligands and shake them with a solvent in a “one-pot.”
  • Of course, the hard work is in knowing what components you will add to the solvent and in what measure.
  • Prof. Chand’s team calculated the structures using the density functional theory, to work out the architecture of the molecule they were building.
  • Such designer molecules with cavities in them can be used for drug delivery. Prof. Chand explains: “Molecules having a cavity are used for binding the guest [molecule] and transporting the guest to another site.”
  • For example, binding a drug and delivering the drug. In building this molecule, the researchers introduce more than one cavity in a single molecule. This makes it more interesting.
  • In order to build the desired molecule, the team uses three components:
  • One is palladium (II) which can bind to molecules at four places 90 degrees apart.
  • The second is the molecule 4-4’-bipyridine which is like a rod that can bind at its two ends.
  • And the last is the molecule 1,4-phenylenebis(methylene) diisonicotinate which is like a stick bent twice along its length and can bind to two molecules at its two ends.
  • By throwing in five measures each of the three components, the team comes up with a star-shaped resultant molecule.
  • The use of palladium(II) itself is unusual and new. Further, binding it to two different ligands has never been done before.
  • Normally, using a rigid rod-like ligand would usually yield a square arrangement but in this case it yields a pentagonal star-like arrangement.
  • The team now aims to make different variations of this design and use the cavity for binding drug molecules and transport them to required sites.

4. BMP signaling regulates three processes

  • Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMP) are secreted signalling molecules which are already known to regulate the production of neurons from neural stem cells.
  • Now, using mice models, a team of researchers led by Prof. Jonaki Sen from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur has found that BMP signalling is active in the cerebral cortex during embryonic development as well as during later stages of development after birth, too.
  • They found that BMP signalling regulates three processes —

a) the migration of newborn neurons from stem cell niche to their destined place in the cortex,
b) polarity (the axon forming the base and the dendrites forming the apical or top side) of neuronal cells,
c) branching of dendrites in the upper layer neurons of the cerebral cortex.

  • The cerebral cortex has six neuronal layers formed in an inside-out manner. The early-born neurons form the inner cortical layers while the late-born neurons form the outermost layers.
  • So any perturbation or delay in the migration of newborn neurons results in disturbed layer formation and lack of proper connectivity between neurons.
  • Similarly, when polarity (alignment) or branching of dendrites is affected, the neurons will not be able to form proper electrical connections.
  • Though there are other factors that determine migration and polarity, the role of BMP signalling in these two processes was not known till now.
  • BMP signalling was previously known to play an important role in the early development of the brain.
  • The study is the first to show that BMP signalling plays an important role in cortex development by regulating the migration of newborn cortical neurons and the establishment of polarity in the upper layer of cerebral cortex.
  • There are many neurodevelopmental disorders linked to aberrant migration of neurons such as lissencephaly, autism, epilepsy and schizophrenia.
  • We now know that inhibition of BMP signalling leads to delayed migration and this may be one of the causes for such disorders. Thus, it might be possible to prevent or treat these diseases if further research is carried out.
  • BMP signalling can be through two pathways — phospho-SMAD or LIM kinases. When BMP signalling was totally inhibited, both the pathways were affected.
  • As a result, all the three processes — migration, polarity and neurons not making enough branches — were affected.
  • To understand the role of each pathway in affecting any of the three stages of neuronal development, the researchers selectively blocked one pathway at a time.
  • Both pathways have a role in the migration of neurons. When only one of the pathways was blocked, migration was affected but to a lesser extent than when both pathways were inhibited.
  • In the case of polarity, inhibiting the LIM kinase pathway seemed to be less effective than inhibiting the phospho-SMAD pathway.
  • Even when both the pathways of BMP signalling were blocked, migration was only delayed and not completely stopped.
  • But the delay in migration causes problems. When neurons finally reach the upper layers (layer II/III), they don’t have proper polarity.
  • The gestation period in the case of mice is 20 days. The migration delay was seen two days after BMP signalling was blocked on gestation day 15.5 and continued till at least the day of birth.
  • Disturbed polarity was manifested on the sixth day after birth. Defects in dendrite branching was first seen 15 days after birth and fully manifested 21 days after birth.
  • “BMP signalling is involved in regulating multiple phenomena at different stages of cortex development,” says Prof. Sen.

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