Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 6 February 2018

SSC CGL Current Affairs

Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 6 February 2018

::NATIONAL::

No third party interference in a free marriage

  • Two adults are free to marry and “no third party” has a right to harass or cause harm to them, said Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, speaking against honour killings.
  • When activist MadhuKishwar brought up the issue of Ankit Saxena, a young man who was allegedly murdered by his lover’s parents, Justice Misra said, “we are not into that. That is not before us.”
  • Ms. Kishwar said “honour killing” was “too soft a word” for such crimes against young people. “They should be called hate crimes,” she submitted.
  • But the Chief Justice repeated that no one has any individual, group or collective right to harass a couple.
  • A senior counsel, who represented the khap panchayat, objected to the panchayats being portrayed as “inciters” of honour killings.
  • The counsel said such panchayats were age-old traditions and they do encourage inter-caste marriages now.
  • He argued that the objection of khaps to marriages between people from the same gotra was upheld in Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955.
  • The section said “ sapinda should be removed by five degrees from the father’s side and by three degrees from the mother’s side.”
  • He said only three per cent of honour killings were linked to gotra.
  • The remaining 97% were due to religion and other reasons.
  • Marriage within the same gotra led to genetic deformity in children, the counsel argued.
  • “We encourage inter-caste marriages. In Haryana, because of the skewed gender ratio, we get women from other States,” the counsel said.
  • But the Chief Justice said the court was not concerned about khap panchayats either.
  • “We are not writing an essay here on traditions, lineages, etc. We are only concerned with the freedom of adults to marry and live together without facing harassment,” the Chief Justice said.
  • The court is hearing a petition filed by Shakti Vahini, an NGO, to make honour killing a specific crime.

SC says vehicular pollution problem is very serious problem

  • The Supreme Court described the issue of vehicular pollution as “very serious” and a “critical problem” and observed that it would have an impact not only on this generation but also on the children yet to be born.
  • The apex court said the Government could not take the issue lightly and directed the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) to file an affidavit indicating the position as regards the availability of Bharat Stage (BS)-VI emission standard compliant fuel in Delhi.
  • BS-VI emission standard is scheduled to come into force from April 1, 2020 across the country.
  • A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta asked the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) whether any study was conducted on environmental pollution, its effect on the health of people and the cost to deal with it.
  • Additional Solicitor General A.N.S. Nadkarni, appearing for the MoEF&CC, said a study was underway and that he would get back to the court with its details.
  • To this, the bench said if the Government did not have any material of its own and claimed that a scientific study carried out by any foreign scientist on the issue was useless, then it was creating a problem for itself as well as the people.
  • Advocate Aparajita Singh, assisting the court as an amicus curiae (friend of the court), told the bench that the BS-VI norms should be made applicable in the Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) from April 1, 2019 as the government itself had acknowledged that the people were suffering due to pollution.
  • Referring to data, she said pollution would come down by around 80% in case of the BS-VI vehicles, as compared to the BS-IV ones.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

New Nuclear Policy by US

  • A treaty committing the U.S. and Russia to keep their long-range nuclear arsenals at the lowest levels since early in the Cold War went into full effect.
  • When it was signed eight years ago, President Barack Obama expressed hope that it would be a small first step toward deeper reductions, and ultimately a world without nuclear weapons.
  • Now, that optimism has been reversed.
  • A new nuclear policy issued by the Trump administration, which vows to counter a rush by the Russians to modernise their forces even while staying within the treaty limits, is touching off a new kind of nuclear arms race.
  • This one is based less on numbers of weapons and more on novel tactics and technologies, meant to outwit and outmanoeuvre the other side.
  • The Pentagon envisions a new age in which nuclear weapons are back in a big way — its strategy bristles with plans for new low-yield nuclear weapons that advocates say are needed to match Russian advances and critics warn will be too tempting for a President to use.
  • The result is that the nuclear-arms limits that went into effect on Monday now look more like the final stop after three decades of reductions than a way station to further cuts.
  • Yet, when President Donald Trump called on Congress to “modernise and rebuild our nuclear arsenal” in his State of the Union address last week, he did not mention his administration’s rationale.
  • In contrast to Mr. Trump’s address, the report issued, known as the Nuclear Posture Review, focussed intensely on Russia.
  • It described Mr. Putin as forcing the U.S.’s hand to rebuild the nuclear force.
  • The report contains a sharp warning about a new Russian-made autonomous nuclear torpedo that appears designed to cross the Pacific undetected and release a deadly cloud of radioactivity that would leave large parts of the West Coast uninhabitable.
  • It also explicitly rejects Mr. Obama’s commitment to make nuclear weapons a diminishing part of American defences.
  • The limit on warheads — 1,500 deployable weapons — that went into effect expires in 2021, and the nuclear review shows no enthusiasm about its chances for renewal.
  • Even Mr. Trump’s harshest critics concede that the United States must take steps as Russia and China have invested heavily in modernising their forces, making them more lethal.

::ECONOMY::

Services Sector fastest rise in activity : Survey

  • The Indian services sector remained in expansion mode in January, registering the fastest rise in activity in three months driven by a renewed increase in new business orders, says a survey.
  • Even though growth rates for activity and employment accelerated since December, it remained weaker than their respective long-run survey averages.
  • The seasonally-adjusted Nikkei Services Business Activity Index improved to 51.7 in January, up from 50.9 in December, signalling a faster expansion.
  • The index remained above the neutral mark of 50 in January, that separates growth from contraction for the second consecutive month.
  • In November, the index stood at 48.5.
  • The recovery across India’s service sector continued during January, with growth in output picking up to the joint-strongest since June 2017 as underlying demand conditions improved.
  • Indian service providers addressed new business inflows and rising backlogs by expanding workforces for the fifth consecutive month in January.
  • Moreover, the rate of job creation was the fastest since last September.

Procedural fairness in matters of public procurement: Jaitley

  • Finance Minister ArunJaitley said the Centre would have to ensure procedural fairness in matters of public procurement as well as in award of contracts.
  • Warned that a ‘pick-and-choose’ system in commercial activities of the State would lead to allegations of corruption and nepotism.
  • Transparency and fairness enable a State to act in the best interest of its citizens in terms of price, quality and service delivery and help avoid elements of nepotism and corruption in public procurement.
  • The introduction of the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) for online purchases of common use items, he said in addition to having its own rules and regulations relating to public procurement, the layers of accountability at various levels in the government had also been tightened.
  • The conference aims to help South Asian Governments to consider enhancements and innovations in their public procurement systems and enable efficient utilisation of public resources, ensuring quality and timeliness in delivery of services.

Cryptocurrency POS devices into India: Pundi X

  • The Jakarta-based Pundi X is planning to bring cryptocurrency Point of Sale (POS) devices into India.
  • This is significant given that the government, in its Budget last week, had made it clear that cryptocurrencies were not legal tender in India.
  • The company has developed a POS device that store owners can use. The device interacts with a ‘pass card’ that customers hold, similar to a debit card but only for cryptocurrencies.
  • The key in all of this is the fact that the actual transactions will be conducted in rupees, whereas the asset being exchanged would be bitcoins.
  • Both the Reserve Bank of India and the government have repeatedly said that cryptocurrencies do not qualify as legal tender and hence cannot be used to conduct transactions.
  • Mr. Cheah said his technology helps store owners “convert a crypto currency to a local currency, so all the transactions that we do are in the local currency.
  • What will be exchanged is the bitcoin, but the actual mode of exchange will take place in rupees.”
  • The idea, he said, was to change the way we use cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, moving their use value away from simple storage of value, to a real-world everyday use.
  • The Pundi X devices will support all major cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, litecoin and etherium, and the company aims to roll out 100,000 devices across the world in the next three years. India will play a large part in this, and the roll out is set to begin soon, he said.

FD 3.3% for current year needs work

  • The budgeted fiscal deficit for India is in line with expectations but there are some risks of slippage in financial year 2018-19, unless economic activities formalise at a rapid pace, said a Goldman Sachs report.
  • While the budgeted deficit is in line with expectations, the revenue targets are on the optimistic side, particularly on recently-introduced GST tax revenue growth.
  • “We estimate a 20 basis point upside risk to the fiscal deficit in 2018-19, unless economic activities formalise at a rapid pace over the coming year to generate the necessary buoyancy in revenues,” Goldman Sachs said in a research note.
  • The government outlined a fiscal deficit target of 3.3% of GDP in 2018-19 as against a revised estimate of 3.5% in 2017-18, indicating some fiscal consolidation, albeit at a slower pace than that recommended under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) framework.
  • According to Goldman Sachs, risks tilted towards a higher fiscal deficit for 2018-19.
  • Lower indirect tax revenue collections may outweigh any upside risks from higher nominal GDP growth, non-tax revenue and direct tax collection.
  • The government is unlikely to cut spending considerably next year, even if revenues undershoot the budgeted amount, in order to support growth ahead of the elections.
  • “This could take the fiscal deficit to 3.5% of GDP versus the 3.3% budgeted,” it noted.
  • Moreover, higher oil prices could exert additional pressure on the fiscal deficit.
  • Based on the overall oil subsidy estimate in the Budget, the government appears to have assumed oil prices to average between $60-65/bbl, about $10-15/bbl lower than the Goldman Sachs’ oil price forecast.
  • “We estimate that every $10/bbl increase in oil prices could increase the fiscal deficit by 0.3 [percentage point] of GDP if the government absorbs the entire shock,” it said.

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