Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 6 January 2018
Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 6 January 2018
Adultery law to be looked at by Supreme Court
The Supreme Court on referred to a Constitution Bench a plea to decide
if the pre-Independence provision of adultery in the Indian Penal Code,
Section 497, treats a woman as a commodity owned by her husband and violates
the constitutional concepts of gender equality and sensitivity.
A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, said it
was time to reconsider the consistent view from 1954 onwards that the penal
provision was necessary to uphold family ties.
Terming the penal provision as archaic, a three-judge Bench led by Chief
Justice of India Dipak Misra said it was time to reconsider its past
decisions and consistent view from 1954 onwards that the penal provision was
necessary to uphold family ties.
Section 497 mandates that if a man has sexual intercourse with another’s
wife without the husband’s “consent or connivance”, he is “guilty of the
offence of adultery and shall be punished.”
The court had issued notice on December 8, 2017 on a petition filed by
Joseph Shine, represented by advocates Kaleeswaram Raj and Suvidutt M.S. The
Bench observed in the order that the provision raised a question mark on
social progress, outlook, gender equality and gender sensitivity.
It was time to bring to the forefront a different view with focus on the
rights of women, Chief Justice Misra observed.
The Constitution Bench would likely consider whether Section 497 would
treat the man as the adulterer and the married woman as always a victim.
Women can be inducted in territorial army
Clearing the path for the induction of women in the Territorial Army,
the Delhi High Court observed that any provision that bars them from joining
the force was against the Fundamental Rights provided under the
Territorial Army is an organisation of volunteers who receive military
training in order to be mobilised for the country’s defence in case of an
“Women are eligible for recruitment and appointment to the Territorial
Army under Section 6 of the Indian Territorial Army Act, 1948,” a Bench of
Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar said.
It said the government has not given any rationale to justify its action
of enforcing a bar against recruitment of women in the force.
The court noted that more and more countries have moved away from
positions of total prohibition to permitting recruitment of women even in
combat roles in the armed forces. It listed around 22 countries, including
the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia, which permit recruitment of women even
in combat roles.
Section 6 of the Territorial Army Act lays down rules on who is eligible
for enrolment in the Territorial Army, which is also known as the second
line of defence after the regular Army.
The High Court said the words “any person” in Section 6 shall include
both men and women.
The court order came after a PIL was filed by lawyer Kush Kalra seeking
to quash the provisions in the Territorial Army Act which prohibit gainfully
employed women from being recruited in the force.
Contending that not allowing women to join amounted to
“institutionalised discrimination” and went against the Constitution’s
spirit, the petitioner claimed the state had a duty to ensure no
discrimination was practised by anyone in the country.
“At present, Territorial Army recruits only males [gainfully employed].
Due to this institutionalised discrimination, women are being deprived of
their right to serve in the Territorial Army,” the petition said. The role
of the Territorial Army, in which actor Mohanlal, and cricketers Kapil Dev
and M.S. Dhoni are honorary members holding senior ranks, is to “relieve the
regular Army from static duties and assist the civil administration in
dealing with natural calamities....”
It also helps in maintenance of essential services in situations where
life is affected or the security of the country is threatened, the petition
Label mandatory for food certified as ‘organic’
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had issued
regulations that required food companies selling organic produce to get
certified with one of the two authorities — National Programme for Organic
Production (NPOP) or the Participatory Guarantee System for India
(PGS-India). Companies could also get a voluntary logo from the FSSAI that
marked its produce as ‘organic.’
Though NPOP and PGS-India had been in the certification business for
some years, it was mostly a voluntary exercise. “From July, any company that
claims to sell organic food and not sticking to standards can be
prosecuted,” Pawan Aggrawal, CEO, FSSAI told
“Labelling on the package of organic food shall convey full and accurate
information on the organic status of the product. Such product may carry a
certification or quality assurance mark of one of the systems mentioned in
addition to the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India’s organic logo,”
said a FSSAI notification on January 2 and published in the Gazette. These
rules were finalised after almost a year of being sent out as a draft for
For nearly two decades now, organic farming certification had been done
through a process of third party certification under the NPOP. It was run by
the Ministry of Commerce and was used for certifying general exports. Nearly
24 agencies were authorised by the NPOP to verify farms, storages and
processing units and successful ones got a special ‘India Organic’ logo.
The PGS-India programme, in contrast, had been around for only two years
and — unlike the top-down approach of the NPOP — involves a peer-review
approach. Here, farmers played a role in certifying whether the farms in
their vicinity adhered to organic-cultivation practices. This programme was
implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture through the National Centre of
SC says the new Haj policy is fair
The Centre defended its new Haj policy, saying it is not discriminatory
and the allocation of subsidy for pilgrims is based on the objective
criterion of Muslim population in each State.
The Centre was responding to allegations made by the Kerala State Haj
Committee that the policy, which allots subsidised seats based on the Muslim
count in each State, denies Muslims from smaller States such as Kerala an
opportunity to make the pilgrimage.
“Bihar has a quota of 12,000 seats, but at least 5,000 seats remain
vacant. Kerala has 95,000 applicants who want subsidy, but the quota is only
for 6,000 seats. So, only one per cent goes,” Prashant Bhushan, advocate
appearing for the Kerala Haj panel, submitted.
Countering this, Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal argued that the
allocation of subsidy quota on the basis of Muslim population of a State had
been there from the very beginning and did not start with the current Haj
guidelines for 2018-22.
The Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, made it clear that
the court would intervene in the Haj policy only if it is found to be
“This is a matter of policy,” Justice D.Y. Chandrachud orally remarked
even as the court asked the Centre to file a detailed counter-affidavit by
January 13, the next date of hearing.
Mr. Venugopal said the central Haj committee was consulted before the
new policy was finalised. “The State Haj Committees are bound by the policy
of the central Haj body. Each and every stakeholder was consulted. Now they
cannot turn around and say this is not the right way to do Haj,” Mr.
New Delhi and Washington have been in close touch over the decision, and
Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar met U.S. Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster,
hours after the U.S. administration, , as part of its “South Asia strategy”,
announced that it would suspend all security assistance to Pakistan unless
it acts against terror groups targeting Afghanistan.
“It is a welcome first step. [We] hope it will get Rawalpindi
[Pakistan’s military] thinking,” a senior official told though the
government issued no formal reaction to the development.
India had issued statements welcoming the U.S.’s South Asia strategy
announced by President Donald Trump in August, and its new National Security
Strategy issued in December, both of which called upon Pakistan to take
action against terror safe havens that target U.S. troops in Afghanistan, or
First, the U.S. announcement did not come as a surprise, as it came
three months after the Trump administration notified the U.S. Congress that
it would not disburse the 2016 tranche of its Foreign Military Funding (FMF)
of $255 million.
On January 1, the U.S. President made it clear that the action was
imminent after he accused Pakistan of “lies and deceit” on the issue and
threatened that the U.S. would continue to fund Pakistan “No More!”
As a result, it is understood India would rather not speak about what is
essentially a bilateral action between U.S. and Pakistan, even as it
strengthens its own counter-terrorism cooperation with the US. Last month’s
India-U.S. counter-terrorism designations dialogue was one such new effort.
Finally, experts say there is scepticism about whether the U.S. action
will effect the desired reaction from Pakistan, if it relates only to the
funding of about $255 million and possible $900 more in Coalition Support
Funding, without further action.
In 1981, President Zia-ul-Haq had famously referred to a U.S. offer of
$250 million for Afghan refugees as “peanuts”, said a former Ambassador to
Afghanistan and Secretary in the Ministry, Amar Sinha. “If the figure was
peanuts nearly four decades ago, think of what it would mean today.”
According to Mr. Sinha and other former diplomats, the U.S. move to cut aid
to Pakistan on the issue of its support to terror has been made in the
1970s, 1990s, and more recently by the Obama administration in 2011 as well.
“Mr. Trump has shown he is different in many ways,” said Arvind Gupta,
former Deputy NSA and Director of think-tank Vivekananda International
Foundation. “But follow-up action from the U.S. will have to be seen as
well. The U.S.’s dependence on Pakistan for assistance in its operations in
Afghanistan has not completely ended yet.”
Trump regime suspends security aid to Pakistan
The U.S. said it is suspending most of its security assistance to
Pakistan until it “takes decisive action against groups, including the
Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network”.
The announcements from the State and Defence Departments followed a
public condemnation of Pakistan by President Donald Trump on January 1.
The total amount in question could exceed a billion dollars, though no
official figure was provided. The decision will delay, and perhaps
eventually deny, pending payments to Islamabad. This includes both payments
under the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing and under the
Coalition Support Fund, which involves reimbursement by Pentagon for
Pakistan’s logistical support in the Afghanistan war.
However, civilian assistance programmes are not included and exceptions
may be made on a case-by-case basis if they are “determined to be critical
to national security interests,” administration officials said.
::ECONOMY AND BUSINESS::
GDP growth seen slowing to 6.5%
“In agriculture, what we are seeing is a base effect because last year
saw a very high growth rate because it followed two years of drought,”
Statistics and Programme Implementation Secretary and Chief Statistician of
India TCA Anant said at a press conference here.
“In terms of production, the total production would probably be the
second highest in a very long time. It is not unusual growth in agriculture
in a good year,” he said.
The CSO’s GVA full-year growth estimate of 6.1% compares with a 6.7%
pace that the Reserve Bank of India had forecast at its December policy
The central bank had at the time flagged rising oil prices and
“shortfalls in kharif production and rabi sowing” as posing downside risks
to the outlook for GVA growth.
“These numbers have a bearing on the fiscal deficit numbers for this
year and next year as well,” said D.K. Srivastava, chief policy advisor at
“For this year, the nominal growth is expected to be far lower than what
was estimated in the Budget, so the fiscal deficit number will have to be
adjusted if the 3.2% of GDP target is to be maintained. And, for next year,
the base is now lower, so that year’s fiscal deficit figure will also have
to be adjusted.” Mr. Srivastava added
Other economists cited the latest PMI survey showing an uptick in
manufacturing, and said the economy had regained momentum in recent
quarters, signalling growth would rebound in the next fiscal year.
“Economic activity has been picking up over the last three quarters and
can be expected to strengthen in the coming period with the manufacturing
PMI [Purchasing Managers’ Index] now reading at a five-year high of 54, and
FMCG demand picking up briskly,” Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog Rajiv Kumar
said in a written statement. “Hence, the GDP growth will become more robust
While the latest CSO estimates project private final consumption
expenditure, a proxy for household spending, growing by 6.3% in 2017-18,
down from 8.7% in the previous year, gross fixed capital formation — a key
investment metric — is expected to accelerate to 4.5%, from 2.4% in 2016-17.
“The advanced estimates for annual growth of 6.5% can be achieved if we
have an average of 7% growth in the last two quarters of this fiscal,” said
Ranen Banerjee, Partner - Public Finance and Economy at PwC India.
“Given the momentum in core sector growth, PMI indices and developed
world economies, the optimism may not be belied,” Mr. Banerjee said.
“Further wearing off of the demonetisation related residual effects as
well as progressively stabilising the transitionary effects of GST is likely
to support the higher growth rate estimates for the last two quarters,” Mr.
India’s Public stockholding of grains would not be affected
India’s ongoing public stockholding programmes would remain unaffected
and continue, Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu informed the Rajya Sabha. The
minister’s assurance comes in the wake of the recent Eleventh Ministerial
Conference of the World Trade Organization failing to reach a permanent
solution on public stockholding for food security purposes.
In a statement, Mr. Prabhu said the conference had agreed to extend an
existing moratorium on imposing customs duties on electronic transmission in
exchange for another moratorium preventing the evergreening of patents in
the pharmaceuticals sector.
Regarding the permanent solution to the public stockholding issue, Mr.
Prabhu said: “Quite logically, in addition to fulfilling the obligation
placed by the Bali/Nairobi mandate, India viewed this as an opportunity for
achieving an outcome that would be an improvement over the existing interim
solution through less onerous transparency and disclosure conditions, no
additional safeguards in respect of programmes already covered by the
interim solution and greater legal certainty.”
However, some developed countries sought explicit language on existing
safeguards, according to Mr. Prabhu, and the U.S. said it could not agree to
a permanent solution.
“Our public stockholding programmes, however, continue to be protected
due to the interim solution that the government negotiated in 2014, which is
available in perpetuity,” he said. “An existing moratorium on imposing
customs duties on electronic transmission was extended for two years in
exchange for another moratorium on trade-related aspects of intellectual
property rights non-violation complaint, which, inter alia, prevents
‘evergreening’ of patents in the pharmaceutical sector, thereby ensuring
accessibility and affordability of generic medicines.”
“The above decisions are in line with India’s position in the matter,”
Mr. Prabhu added. “This is a major achievement for India.”
Mr. Prabhu said that members could not arrive at an agreement regarding
a ministerial declaration following the conference.
“Ministers could not arrive at an agreed ministerial declaration at the
end of the conference on the basis of a draft brought forward from Geneva,”
the minister said.
“As the revised draft ministerial declaration subsequently proposed by
the chairperson excluded or failed to adequately include important issues
such as multilateralism, the Doha Development Agenda and special and
differential treatment of developing countries, India could not support it,”