Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 31 December 2017

SSC CGL Current Affairs

Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 31 December 2017

::National::

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 Saeed.
  • “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 months.
  • 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 incentivise sales.
  • 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 November.
  • 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.

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::International::

U.S. may withdraw aid to Pakistan

  • 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 operations.
  • 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 in production
  • 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 works.
  • 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 year.
  • Also, Rs. 1,400 crore was disbursed as subsidy under the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS), supporting investments in the textile sector.
  • 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 reflected signals.
  • 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 secure.
  • 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. Narayan.

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