Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 31 December 2017
Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 31 December 2017
After India’s protest palestine recalled its Pakistan envoy
Affirming ties with India and Palestine’s support to “India’s fight
against terror,” Palestinian Ambassador to India Adnan Abu Al Haija informed
the govt that the Palestinian Authority had decided to recall its Ambassador
to Pakistan, Walid Abu Ali, for sharing the stage with LeT chief Hafiz
“What he did was not acceptable to my government. Palestine has very
close ties with India and has always supported India’s fight against terror.
As a result, [Ambassador Ali] has been recalled to Ramallah by the
government,” Ambassador Al Haija said.
In Islamabad, Mr. Ali refused to comment, but diplomatic officials
confirmed that he had received orders to return to Palestine.
In a statement issued in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority’s Foreign
Ministry spokesman said the Ambassador’s decision to participate in the
rally with Hafiz Saeed was an “unintended mistake, but not justified.”
“The State of Palestine affirms its stand with the Republic of India in
dealing with terrorist threats, as our nations are real partners in the war
against terrorism,” the statement said.
India had conveyed its strong protest on the matter to Ambassador Al
Haija, who met with Secretary, Economic Relations, Vijay Gokhale at the
Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi.
“Government of India has strongly conveyed to the Palestinian side that
the Palestinian Ambassador in Pakistan's association with terrorist Hafiz
Saeed, who is proscribed by the United Nations… is unacceptable,” a
statement issued by the MEA.
Union govt releases funds for development of Assam inland water ways
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari announced that Rs. 1,250 crore has been
sanctioned for overall development of inland water transport of Assam.
The Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping asked the
State water resources department to involve a foreign consultant, if
required, for preparing the Detailed Project Report (DPR) within three
Of this amount, Rs. 32 crore will be utilised for constructing 56
terminals and Rs 60 crore for Ro-Ro service. Ro-ro is ‘roll-on, roll-off’
ferry service in which people and goods including vehicles would be ferried.
Infrastructural development will also be brought about at the terminals
at Bogibeel, Nematighat, Kamalabari, Silghat, Jogighopa, Silchar, Dhubri and
Pandu, a release said.
Mr. Gadkari asked the State government to take immediate steps to
upgrade the entire network of embankments measuring around 4,474 kilometre
and make them road-cum-dykes.
The expenses of this upgradation job would be borne by the Centre, he
said, adding that raw materials should be procured from local markets and
local youths should be involved in the project.
Mr. Gadkari also reviewed the progress of the works related to perennial
flood and erosion management, dredging of the Brahmaputra and the express
highway, the release said.
Understanding Economy in correct perspective
Two economic decisions, namely demonetisation and the Goods and Services
Tax, had major ramifications for almost all metrics of economic performance
such as GDP growth, inflation, industrial production and exports.
In the first three months of 2017 (the fourth quarter of the financial
year 2016-17), GDP growth slowed to 6.1%. The rate dipped to 5.7% in the
April-June quarter, but rebounded somewhat to 6.3% from July to September.
The Index of Industrial Production growth first slumped to 1.2% in
February 2017. Then, just as it was showing signs of recovery, it again
plummeted in June.
The post-GST period initially saw strong growth — of 4.5% in August and
4.15% in September — but even this was short-lived as the festival month of
October only saw a growth of 2.24%.
Exports grew every month until October, when it snapped a 14-month
growth streak by contracting because of exporters’ problems with the GST.
This, however, changed in November, when exports grew by about 30%.
Consumer price inflation in the beginning of the year quickened to 3.89%
by March, but then fell to 1.46% by June. Inflation thereafter rose
steadily, with the latest data pegging it at 4.88% in November, the highest
it has been since August 2016.
Before the informal sector could recover from the impact of
demonetisation, the government rolled out the GST, a major overhaul of the
indirect tax regime, in July. Not only did the new system replace a number
of indirect taxes, it also created a huge compliance burden on companies
looking to file their returns under the GST.
Industrial activity fluctuated throughout the year due to the lingering
effects of demonetisation and the additional burden of the GST.
Just before the launch of the new tax regime, companies rushed to get
rid of their existing stocks to avoid additional compliance burdens once the
GST was in place. This meant very little new production in June.
Thereafter, poor customer demand and a complex tax structure meant
production never really recovered to its potential.
Customers did not flock to markets during the festive season as in other
years because a lot of their annual purchases were already made during the
June de-stocking period, when companies had offered attractive discounts to
Inflation has mostly been spurred by fuel and food prices. Crude oil
prices have remained around $50 a barrel throughout the year, rising to $54
in September, $56 in October, and $61 in November.
Food prices fluctuated mostly due to vegetable price inflation, which
swung from a contraction of 15.6% in January 2017 to a growth of over 22% in
Exports suffered in the few months following the GST roll-out due to the
input tax credit system. A hold-up in this process meant exporters found a
large part of their working capital locked away.
The government also took a few key steps to recapitalise banks and
tackle non-performing assets. It announced a Rs. 2.11 lakh crore
recapitalisation plan for public sector banks in an effort to address the
‘twin balance sheet’ problem had resulted in poor credit off-take and
anaemic private investment, both of which have been slowing economic growth.
While the data suggest that the economy has recovered from the effects
of demonetisation, the effects of the GST will likely last a little longer,
according to analysts.
At the same time, several steps taken by the government such as the
implementation of the insolvency and bankruptcy codes and the GST roll-out
have resulted in India leapfrogging 30 places to the 100th rank in the World
Bank’s Doing Business report.
Ratings agency Moody’s upgraded India after a 13-year gap. Both of these
should help India attract more foreign direct investment.
When Pakistani forces freed a Canadian-American family this fall held
captive by militants, they also captured one of the abductors.
U.S. officials saw a potential windfall: He was a member of the
Taliban-linked Haqqani network who could perhaps provide valuable
information about at least one other American hostage.
The Americans demanded access to the man, but Pakistani officials
rejected those requests, the latest disagreement in the increasingly
dysfunctional relationship between the countries.
Now, the Trump administration is strongly considering whether to
withhold $255 million in aid that it had delayed sending to Islamabad, as a
show of dissatisfaction with Pakistan’s broader intransigence toward
confronting the terrorist networks that operate there.
The administration’s internal debate over whether to deny Pakistan the
money is a test of whether President Donald Trump will deliver on his threat
to punish Islamabad for failing to cooperate on counter-terrorism
Relations between the U.S. and Pakistan, long vital for both, have
chilled steadily since the President declared over the summer that Pakistan
“gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror”.
The U.S., which has provided Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid since
2002, said in August that it was withholding the $255 million until Pakistan
did more to crack down on internal terrorist groups.
The Trump administration has foreshadowed a cut-off in recent days with
harsher language. Last week, in announcing his national security strategy,
Mr. Trump again singled out Pakistan for criticism. “We make massive
payments every year to Pakistan,” he said. “They have to help.”
In July, the Pentagon said it would withhold $50 million in military
reimbursements for Pakistan because the country had not taken “sufficient
action” against the Haqqani network.
::Business and Economy::
Parliamentary panel asked the Telecom Department to act fast
Parliamentary panel has asked the Telecom Department to “act swiftly”
and bring suitable amendments in the TRAI Act to empower the authority to
effectively regulate the sector.
In its report, the Standing Committee on IT recounted its past
recommendation on the issue, where it had “noted with concern” that the TRAI
had not been vested with requisite powers to enforce regulations.
The issue of an amendment came to the fore after the Supreme Court in
May 2016 quashed a TRAI order that mandated mobile service providers to
compensate Rs. 1 for every call drop.
Difficult year for the textile industry
For the textile industry, the year 2017 was challenging as it faced
headwinds in the form of Goods and Services Tax (GST) leading to disruptions
While retailers and manufacturers reduced inventory with special
discount sales before the new indirect tax regime took effect, industries
along the textile value chain saw GST-related disruptions in production.
For an industry that is highly fragmented, runs on cash economy and
where products are for mass consumption, the tax regime put a spanner in the
According to industry sources, textile production was affected by about
3% to 4 % this year on account of GST. Though exports are showing growth
issues with GST remain.
“China is reporting positive activity and demand is picking up in the
U.S. and the European Union,” said Siddhartha Rajagopal, executive director,
Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council.
“These are expected to augur well for Indian textile and clothing
exporters next year. While there might be a small growth in exports this
year (2017), there are problems in refunds for GST as even the July refunds
are yet to come. The government should clear the backlog.“
Industry sources say that as more textile units get into the formal tax
system, the prices of textile products might go up in the coming months.
But, the impact would not be much for consumers. What is of concern to the
industry is imports going up after GST.
Post-GST, import of many textile items have increased, affecting the
domestic industry and exports have become less competitive. The Centre has
to restore the pre-GST import duty and export incentives. It should also
focus on Free Trade Agreements, Mr. Jain says.
Cotton continues to be an advantage for the Indian textile sector as the
current season’s production might be 380 lakh bales or a little more, said
P. Nataraj, Chairman, Southern India Mills’ Association.
Exports saw 3% rise between April and October, according to according to
Kavita Gupta, Textile Commissioner. Though garment exports saw a slight
decline in October, yarn and fabric exports have been better so far this
Also, Rs. 1,400 crore was disbursed as subsidy under the Technology
Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS), supporting investments in the textile
GST would benefit the industry in the long run. With regard to
technology mission on cotton, the office of the Textile Commissioner had
submitted a proposal to the Textile Ministry.
::Science and Tech::
another layer of security to LiFi
Like WiFi, the light-fidelity (LiFi) technology that uses both visible
and near-visible light is used for free-space communication.
While microwaves used in WiFi technology to transmit signals can pass
through walls, visible and near-visible light that carry the LiFi signal
cannot, thus making the network more secure.
Now, researchers from Bengaluru’s Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced
Scientific Research (JNCASR) have added another layer of security to LiFi.
Light bounces off from walls and falls on the receiver. So wall
boundaries can be used effectively for reflecting signals so that
communication is maintained even without line-of-sight communication between
the signal source and receiver. Detectors can receive both direct and
So the researchers studied the effect of walls painted with fluorescent
and phosphorescent paints. Both fluorescent and phosphorescent paints absorb
and then emit light with marginal loss.
The researchers set out to do the complete opposite of what other
researchers have been trying to do. White LED is obtained by combining blue
LED with phosphors.
While others have been trying to reduce the excitation life time of
phosphors to improve the signal bandwidth, the JNCASR researchers purposely
added phosphors to introduce noise in the signal to make the network more
On absorbing light, phosphorescent paint remains in an excited state and
continues to emit light even several hours after the original source of
light has been switched off.
“We can now use the light emitted by the phosphorescent paint as a
source of signal by using an appropriate modulator,” says Prof. Narayan.
This would mean that signal transmission can continue for hours even when
light source has been turned off.
“This was not a targeted research. This idea just came about and we had
some fun. But it has opened up an interesting area of research,” says Prof.