Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 4 January 2018

SSC CGL Current Affairs

Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 4 January 2018

::National::

Hindi made as official language in UN

  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor engaged in a war of words over making Hindi one of the official languages at the United Nations.
  • While Mr. Tharoor questioned the proposed move of the government, the Minister called his statement that Hindi was mainly spoken in India as ‘ignorant.’
  • Replying to a question during the Question Hour , Ms. Swaraj said, “It is often asked why Hindi is not an official language in the UN. Today, I will want to tell the House, the biggest problem is the procedure...At least, 129 member countries will have to agree to share the cost.”
  • The Minister explained that as per rules, two-thirds of the 193 members of UNwill not only have to vote for Hindi as official language but also share the financial cost incurred to do so.
  • “The problem comes when apart from voting, the burden of the amount also falls on them. Economically weaker countries that support us shy away from this. We are working on it, we are making attempts to get support of countries like Fiji, Mauritius, Surinam... where people of Indian origin are there,” Ms. Swaraj said
  • Mr. Tharoor, who was a high-ranking official in the UN, asked what was the need to push for Hindi when it was not even the national language of India.
  • He said it makes sense if the incumbent Prime Minister chooses to speak in Hindi but there could be a different scenario in the future.

Govt changed the figure of money received by NGO’s

  • More than a week after the government claimed that NGOs received only Rs. 6,499 crore as foreign contributions, the Home Ministry in a written reply before Rajya Sabha revised the figures and said the NGOs received Rs. 13,750 crore till December 30, 2017.
  • In 2015-16, the foreign funds received by NGOs stood at Rs. 17,773 crores and Rs. 15,299 crores in 2014-15.
  • In its written reply, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said, “close to 25,000 NGOs are registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.
  • In all, 5,922 NGOs have been served notices for failing to file annual returns, and the registration of 4,867 NGOs has been cancelled.
    Earlier on December 20, the Home Ministry in a reply to a question in Parliament put the figure at Rs. 6,499 crore in 2016-17, without mentioning the month.
  • An official said that the figures given on December 20 were provisional as the last date for filing annual returns was December 31.
  • “The foreign funds received by many NGOs were not accounted for in the reply given in December,” explained an official.

India rejects Anti-tank missile deal with Israel

  • An Indian Defence Ministry spokesman declined comment on the cancellation.Local media reported that India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation was developing a domestic anti-tank missile the government was keen to support.
  • “Rafael regrets the decision and remains committed to cooperating with the Indian Ministry of Defence and to its strategy of continuing to work in India, an important market, as it has for more than two decades, to provide India with the most advanced and innovative systems,” the firm said in a statement.
  • However, India’s Defence Ministry said separately it had cleared a plan to buy 131 Barak missiles.The 4.6-billion-rupee ($72 million) order follows up an earlier purchase of Barak missiles, meant to protect Navy vessels against sea-skimming missiles and aerial threats.
  • The two countries have grown closer since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014, widening commercial cooperation beyond their longstanding defence ties.
  • Mr. Modi became the first sitting Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel last summer, and Mr. Netanyahu will fly to India on Jan. 14.
  • Rafael, whose CEO will join Mr. Netanyahu on his trip, said the cancellation was made prior to the signing of the final supply contract and despite its compliance with all of India’s wishes.

Difference between ministries over CAMPA

  • Differences between the Environment Ministry and the Finance Ministry have become a roadblock to the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).
  • This authority was envisaged as an independent body that would manage a corpus — collected from industries that have used forest land for projects — that accumulates around Rs. 6,000 crore annually and is already worth around Rs. 42,000 crore.
  • These funds are meant to be used by states to implement agro-forestry in non-forest land to compensate for felled forest. In spite of Parliament — after a fractious debate — signing CAMPA into law last year, it is yet to come into existence.
  • Minister of State for Environment Mahesh Sharma told Parliament last week that this was because the “rules” governing the management of the fund weren’t finalised and several meetings had been held among states to fix these rules.
  • Sources in the Environment Ministry say that while the rules have been framed, the Finance Ministry isn’t on board. “Power to disburse the funds should be with the CAMPA, however the Finance Ministry says it should be routed through the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI).
  • The CFI is the repository of government revenues and taxes and all funds channelled through it require Parliamentary approval. Currently funds collected under CAMPA directly go into the Public Account and from thereon to the states.
  • The Comptroller and Auditor General recently pulled up the government for not transferring Rs. 83,497 crore, collected as a ‘Secondary and Higher Education Cess’ in the Consolidated Fund of India during 2006-2007 to 2016-2017, to designated funds in the Public Account from where government routes money to schemes.
  • Currently, States are able to access CAMPA funds through an “ad hoc” mechanism whereby the Centre disburses it on a needs-basis.
  • There are, however, too few personnel entrusted with managing this fund and often there isn’t enough due-diligence. This year, for instance, the ad hoc body disbursed only Rs. 1,827 crore to states this year as opposed to Rs. 2,213 crore and Rs. 2,057 crore in the preceding years.
  • The Supreme Court, in a 2009 order, had directed that an independent authority be charged with disbursing these funds.

Govt ready to send the triple talaq bill to select committee but only after debate

  • The government said it could concede to the Opposition’s demand to send the triple talaq Bill to a select committee of Parliament but only after a debate in the Rajya Sabha.
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accused the Congress and some other Opposition parties of “double standard” — for supporting the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, or the triple talaq Bill in the Lok Sabha but attempting to stall it in the Rajya Sabha by asking that it be sent to a select committee.
  • Mr. Jaitley said this at a meeting of the BJP’s parliamentary party in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.
  • “Arunji said that while the Congress and some others supported the Bill in the Lok Sabha, the situation in the Rajya Sabha was different where these parties were acting in tandem with the Left to block the Bill.
  • He also said that when he was Law Minister in the first NDA government, when certain offences under the Domestic Violence Bill were to be considered bailable, Left feminist activists moved the Supreme Court to make these offences non-bailable.
  • When it comes to criminalising certain laws related to Hindu, Sikh or Christian marriages, the opposition is not that great, only when it comes to Muslim marriages this is so.
  • The Congress and the Left are ideologically confused on this issue, a Bill that seeks gender justice,” said an MP who was present at the meeting. Other Ministers too spoke at the meeting, with the Prime Minister and Mr. Shah remaining silent.
  • Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi castigated the Congress and the Opposition for spreading “disinformation” that the Modi government was against minorities.
  • “Under the previous UPA regime, Saudi Arabia cut the Haj quota from India to as many as 25,000 visas, while the Modi government negotiated an overall enhancement of our Haj quota to 36,000 visas,” he said.
  • He also said that it was the Modi government that had made progressive changes in the Haj policy, allowing females unaccompanied by males to make the pilgrimage,” he said.
  • Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment led the parliamentary party through the intricacies of the OBC Bill that had to be re-introduced in the Lok Sabha as some amendments moved by the Opposition were cleared by the Rajya Sabha.

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::International::

US says specific action on Pakistan is expected within two days

  • Some specific action on Pakistan could be expected in the next one or two days, the White House said. However, Mr. Trump’s harshly worded Twitter post on January 1, several commentators fear, could be counterproductive to its operations in Afghanistan.
  • Multiple statements emerging from the Trump administration kept the pressure up on Pakistan. U.S. Permanent Representative to United Nations Nikki Haley said Pakistan had “played a double game for years”.
  • “In terms of specific actions, I think you’ll see some more details come out on that in the next 24 to 48 hours,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said during the daily briefing.
  • The administration has already withheld military aid of $255 million in August, which is technically still available to Pakistan, conditionally. That could be withdrawn entirely.
  • A decision on $400 million in Coalition Support Fund — reimbursement of expenses to Pakistan related to Afghan war — for the year 2017 is also pending. This money could be given only if the administration certifies that Pakistan has taken adequate action against the Haqqani Network.
  • Mr. Trump’s tweet does not indicate a shift in policy, as the previous Barack Obama administration had come to the same conclusion about Pakistan. Mr. Trump’s undiplomatic rhetoric, on the other hand, could backfire.
  • “In actual terms, the policy does not appear to have substantially changed. In its final years, the Obama administration followed through on cuts in military and economic aid when they were unsatisfied with the degree of cooperation coming from Islamabad, particularly in targeting militant organisations. This was meant to send a signal of divergent interests.
  • “The difference is that the current administration has amplified the signal with a sweeping incendiary statements and antagonistic rhetoric that is likely (to be) counterproductive,” said Sameer Lalwani, Co-Director of the South Asia Program at the Stimson Center.
  • Alyssa Ayres, senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations believes that Pakistan is “actively choosing” to not acting against the Haqqanis.
  • Pakistan has plenty of tools to respond to further U.S. coercive measures including closing the G-LOCS and A-LOCS (ground and air lines of communications), ratcheting up the temperature on the Afghan border, and reducing intelligence cooperation.
  • If the U.S. pressure tactics work, and Pakistan backs off on its links to militants, then Afghanistan is a big winner. But if the pressure tactics fail, stability in Afghanistan could worsen, and the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan will grow even more complicated than it already is.

::Business and Economy::

More than 5000 crore allotted for development of Waterways

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the more than Rs. 5,369 crore Jal Marg Vikas Project for development of fairway on National Waterway-1 with the technical and investment support of the World Bank.
  • The project will extend over Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. It will cover major districts, including Varanasi, Ghazipur, Vaishali, Patna, Begusarai, Musrhidabad, Pakur, Hoogly and Kolkata, according to an official statement.
  • The project, which is expected to be completed by March 2023, will provide alternative mode of transport that will be environment friendly and cost effective, the government said, adding that the project would contribute in bringing down the logistics cost in the country while providing a boost to infrastructure development.
  • “NW-1 development and operations will lead to direct employment generation to the tune of 46,000 and indirect employment of 84,000 will be generated by vessel construction industry,” the government added.
  • The government said that the IBRD loan component would be Rs. 2,512 crore, while the Centre’s counterpart funding of Rs. 2,556 crore would be sourced from budgetary allocation and the proceeds from a bond issue.
  • Private sector participation under PPP mode would be Rs. 301 crore.
  • The project will include construction of multi-modal terminals at Varanasi, Sahibganj, Haldia, Kalughat, Ghazipur and Farakka, five pairs of roll-on roll-off terminals, integrated ship repair and maintenance complexes, bank protection works, and provision of navigation aids.

Bharat Biotech has received a pre-qualification from the WHO

  • Bharat Biotech has received a pre-qualification from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for Typbar Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine.
  • This paves the way for supplies of the vaccine to UNICEF, Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and Gavi supported countries, chairman and managing director told.
  • The Hyderabad firm, which had invested Rs. 150 crore in the product and is positioned to supply up to 50 million doses a year, is working to expand the manufacturing capacity to 200 million doses.
  • Mr. Ella said he expected the first deliveries, following the pre-qualification, to begin this year. In India, the product is being marketed for two years now.
  • Typbar TCV is the first typhoid vaccine clinically proven to be administered to children from 6 months of age to adults, and confers long-term protection against typhoid fever.
  • A release said the product had been evaluated in human challenge studies at Oxford University and typhoid conjugate vaccines had been recommended by WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization.
  • With WHO-SAGE recommendation, for use of TCV for use in infants between 6 and 23 months of age and catch up vaccinations for children between 2 and 15 years of age, countries could introduce the vaccine into their immunisation programmes.

National Telecom policy-18 open for public comments

  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released a consultation paper inviting stakeholder comments on the new National Telecom Policy that is expected to be finalised by March this year.
  • The consultation process follows a DoT letter in August last year, requesting the authority to give its policy inputs for formulation of the National Telecom Policy-2018.
  • In the paper, TRAI has sought stakeholders’ comments on structure and contents of the proposed inputs for National Telecom Policy-2018, clearly outlining the specifics, besides suggesting any other issue related to policy framework which stakeholders feel are important for the growth of the telecom sector.
  • The government has targeted to finalise the National Telecom Policy-2018 by March.
  • TRAI said, NTP-2018 “can have twin goals (i) facilitate development of communication infrastructure and services to achieve inclusive socio-economic growth in the country, and (ii) to propel India to become the front-runner in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
  • This policy would set the mission and objectives to be accomplished by the end of calendar year 2022, when India will be celebrating its 75 years of Independence, it added. The deadline for the written comments is January 19, 2018.

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