Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 7 February 2018

SSC CGL Current Affairs

Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 7 February 2018

::NATIONAL::

Misuse is not a ground to strike down Aadhaar Act: SC

  • The mere possibility of misuse cannot be a ground for striking down the Aadhaar Act, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud orally observed during a Constitution Bench hearing on the validity of the unique identity scheme.

  • “There has been a long list of judgments holding that a mere possibility of misuse will not lead to the striking down of legislation.

  • We have a little bit of a problem with that line of your argument,” Justice Chandrachud, a member of the five-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, told the Aadhaar petitioners.

  • To this, senior advocate Kapil Sibal said misuse has ceased to be a “possibility.”

  • “Misuse is happening. Misuse exists. Personal data is already out in the public domain. Once a genie is out of the bottle, it cannot be put back... So, if there is a consistent line of judgments, treat Aadhaar as an exception,” Mr. Sibal, who opened his submissions for petitioners Raghav Tankha and former IAS officer M.G. Devasahayam, submitted.

  • Justice A.K. Sikri, on the Bench, at one point, observed that if the government wanted information about a person it could access it even without the help of Aadhaar. “No, you cannot.

  • The government needs a court order,” Mr. Sibal reacted. Justice Sikri responded that “surely there were other ways...”

  • “On that, less said the better,” Mr. Sibal answered.

  • Noting that information is power in the digital world, Mr. Sibal said the “Right to Information Act of 2005 made the citizen more powerful, but the Aadhaar Act wants to make the state more powerful.”

Indian Tiger census

  • India’s tiger census, which began late last year, will see coordination with Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh in estimating the territorial spread of the animal in the subcontinent.
  • While India has engaged with Nepal and Bangladesh in previous tiger counts, this is the first time all countries are uniting in arriving at tiger numbers, particularly in regions with shared borders.
  • “We’ve had officials from these countries come to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for training,” said Y. Jhala, senior scientist.
  • “This time we hope it will be a simultaneous exercise and tigers aren’t double-counted.”
  • Since 2006, the WII — a Union Environment Ministry-funded body — has been tasked with coordinating the tiger estimation exercise.
  • The once-in-four-years exercise calculated, in 2006, that India had only 1,411 tigers.
  • This rose to 1,706 in 2010 and 2,226 in 2014 in later editions on the back of improved conservation measures and new estimation methods.
  • The survey — divided into four phases — began last winter and is expected to reveal its findings in early 2019.
  • Commissioned by the Union Environment Ministry’s National Tiger Conservation Authority, the Rs. 10 crore exercise this year involves 40,000 forest guards traversing 4,00,000 sq. km. of forests; wildlife biologists independently assessing them; approximately a year’s duration of field work; 14,000 camera traps; and coordination with 18 States.
  • Along with tigers, the survey also collects information on the prey population of deer and other animals.
  • Forest guards have Android phones and an app to storedata.
  • Officials said one challenge in past censuses was that a sighting, or traces of a tiger’s presence, had to be manually logged in. This led to errors in location data.

Agni-1 successfully test-fired

  • India successfully test-fired its short-range nuclear capable ballistic missile Agni-1 with a strike range of over 700 km from a test range off the Odisha coast, Defence sources said.
  • The indigenously developed surface-to-surface missile was launched as a part of a periodic training activity by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the Army to consolidate operational readiness, they said.
  • The state-of-the-art missile was launched around 8.30 a.m. from a mobile launcher at Pad 4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at the Dr. Abdul Kalam Island, formerly known as Wheeler Island, the sources said.
  • Describing the trial a “complete success”, they said that all the mission objectives were met during the test.
  • The sophisticated Agni-I missile is propelled by a solid rocket propellant system and is equipped with a specialised navigation system that ensures it reaches the target with a high degree of precision, the sources said.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

Palestine seeks more India’s interaction: Diplomatic adviser to Palestinian President

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Palestine this week is “historic” and will be important in the West Asian peace process, says a key diplomatic official in Ramallah, indicating a greater role for India in the political process with the decline of the U.S. role in mediation.
  • “Mr. Modi is visiting us at an important juncture when Palestine needs India to interact much more with the region,” Majdi El-Khaldi, the diplomatic adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
  • “The U.S. can no longer be the only mediator,” he said, referring to the U.S.’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
  • “We are asking the European Union and EU countries to mediate, and we are inviting India, which will be a strong leader in a multipolar world, to assist the process.”
  • Mr. El-Khaldi’s words are significant as they come during a period of intensive engagement between New Delhi and West Asia.
  • After Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to India last month, the government is pivoting its interests to Israel’s rivals: with the PM travelling to Jordan, Palestine, Oman and the UAE this week, and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visiting Saudi Arabia.
  • New Delhi is also preparing for three high-level visits, from the region’s most powerful leaders, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Jordanian King Abdullah II in February, and Saudi King Salman later this year.
  • Calling the renewed engagement in West Asia as “smart diplomacy” by India, Mr. El-Khaldi said that India was one of the “few countries in the world” that had no problems with most of the countries in the region.
  • Asked about Mr. Netanyahu’s statement during his visit to Delhi that one should “ally with the strong”, not the weak, Mr. El-Khaldi said that while Palestine was the “weaker side” as it was “under occupation”, and India had many technological requirements from Israel, it was wrong to believe that India would “choose Israel over Palestine.”
  • “When it comes to specific disputes, Palestinians are mindful of their position, and we don’t interfere in domestic issues. When our Ambassador [to Pakistan] didn’t follow this policy, even if it was inadvertent, we said it was a mistake and withdrew him immediately,” Mr. El-Khaldi said.

Amended order creates more problems in Maldives

  • Exiled former President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed sought India’s military intervention in the country to release dissidents in prison.
  • “We would like the Indian government to send an envoy, backed by its military, to free the judges and the political detainees, including former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, from their detention and to bring them to their homes. We are asking for a physical presence,” he said in a statement.
  • Mr. Nasheed’s appeal came a day after President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency in the Maldives, following a Supreme Court ruling last week that has put the Indian Ocean island back on the boil.
  • The apex court ordered the release of nine Opposition leaders, including Mr. Nasheed, and the reinstatement of 12 expelled MPs.
  • The turbulence in the country over the last few days prompted some countries to issue travel advisories and security alerts citing potential violence.
  • President Yameen told the nation in a televised address that there was no enforcement of a curfew, and that neither general movements, services and businesses, nor travel in and out of or within the country was affected.
  • The government put out a detailed statement justifying the emergency rule, saying President Yameen had “exhausted all venues available to him, legally and protocol wise.”
  • On 6th of February, President Yameen also revised and issued a second amendment to the Presidential decree concerning the state of emergency, lifting an Article in the Constitution that said: “the Supreme Court shall be the final authority on the interpretation of the Constitution, the law, or any other matter dealt with by a court of law.”
  • “This is not a state of war, epidemic or natural disaster. This is something more dangerous,” President Yameen said. “This is an obstruction of the very ability of the state to function.”
  • The President added that the apex court overstepped its authority in ordering the politicians released.
  • “This state of emergency is the only way I can determine how deep this plot, this coup, goes,” Mr. Yameen said.
  • Accusing the President of declaring martial law illegally, Mr. Nasheed said: “We must remove him from power. The people of the Maldives have a legitimate request to world governments, especially to India and the U.S.,” calling on Washington to stop all financial transactions of regime leaders.
  • Opposition MPs in Male said they feared being arrested, in the wake of the arrests of a former President, the Chief Justice, and a Supreme Court judge, hours after the government declared emergency on Monday.
  • According to Husnu Suood, President of the Maldives Bar Association and a former Attorney-General, President Yameen needs to send his reasons for declaring emergency within 48 hours to Parliament for its approval.
  • “If it is not approved by Parliament, the state of emergency will lapse. For that reason, [Opposition] parliamentarians are expected to be arrested,” he told.
  • The restoration of the 12 MPs into the body, as per the Supreme Court order, would effectively give the Opposition a majority in Parliament.
  • Attempts to obtain a comment from the President’s Office were unsuccessful.
  • “There is an imminent threat [to us],” Opposition MP and lawyer Ali Hussain told The Hindu from Male. “The military takeover of the Parliament house and the Supreme Court shows that the President may order just anything he wants to be carried out.”
  • Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on the government in Male to lift the state of emergency and guarantee safety for its citizens, “including members of the judiciary”.
  • Guterres "urges" the Maldivian government "to uphold the constitution and rule of law, lift the state of emergency as soon as possible, and take all measures to ensure the safety and security of the people in the country, including members of the judiciary," a statement from his spokesman Stephane Dujarric read.

::ECONOMY::

Repo Rate may stay same

  • The six-member monetary policy committee of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is meeting for the last time in this financial year.
  • It is expected to maintain the status quo for the third straight review meeting as retail inflation is hovering close to the central bank’s upper tolerance limit.
  • Consumer price index-based inflation or retail inflation — the central bank’s primary yardstick for setting interest rates — was 5.21% in December, just below the 6% upper band mandate of RBI.
  • Rising food prices was one of the main factors behind the 17- month-high retail inflation.
  • Economists said there could be further pressure on inflation with rising oil prices and higher minimum support prices for farmers, as promised in the Union Budget last week.
  • All this would mean the RBI would hold the repo rate, the key policy rate at 6%, accompanied by ‘hawkish’ tone, though the stance of the policy would likely continue to stay neutral.
  • “RBI is likely to stay on hold on policy rates tomorrow, but expect a hawkish commentary,” said Abheek Barua, chief economist, HDFC Bank.
  • “Rising oil prices, higher MSPs announced in the Budget and slight deviation in the fiscal consolidation path have increased the probability of higher rates in 2018-19.
  • Bond yields are expected to remain around current levels in the near term but trend towards 7.75% by September 2018.”
  • Bond yields have been rising since the Budget was presented, and after the government missed the fiscal deficit target and pushed back the glide path of attaining the fiscal deficit target of 3% to 2020-21 from 2018-19.
  • Next year’s fiscal deficit target of 3.3% is also under a cloud as revenue projections are seen as optimistic.
  • It added that the RBI would flag the projected fiscal slippage, higher oil, and MSPs as risks to future inflation, but not as factors that would warrant an imminent tightening.

20-25% EV by 2025 is splendid job: Tata Motors CEO

  • If electric vehicles stood at about 20-25% of the total vehicles registered in 2025, India could consider that it had done a “splendid job,” the CEO of Tata Motors, Guenter Butschek.
  • The Centre has proposed moving to 100% electric vehicles by 2030, though the auto industry has recommended that the country should target 40% of personal vehicles and 100% of public transport vehicles to turn electric by then.
  • It has suggested 2047 as the target for all-electric passenger vehicles.
  • Mr. Butschek stated that strong growth in the electric vehicle segment would also lead to the automatic promotion of fuel cell vehicles as well.
  • In a presentation, the CEO claimed that India could be the world’s third largest auto market by 2026, with a revenue of $300 billion.
  • The auto industry was looking at growth of 10-15% for the next five years.
  • He claimed that all industry players did not have a “level playing field” as they moved to implement BS-VI standards by April 1, 2020.
  • Mr. Butschek said that some of Tata Motors’ competitors already had off-the-shelf technology in other parts of the world, which they could bring to India.
  • In response to another question, Mr. Butshchek denied that Tata Motors was asking for any kind of “protection”.
  • Repeatedly stressing in his comments that “smart mobility” was linked to “smart cities”, he argued that a new kind of ecosystem was required for the promotion and use of electric vehicles.
  • According to the Tata Motors CEO, a different standard of infrastructure and a new kind of service station would be required to cater to electric vehicles.
  • “These vehicles will be an extension of your digital space,” Mr. Butschek said.
  • India, he stated, needed solid competency in the manufacturing of electric vehicles. For instance, countries like South Korea and China had already established competencies in this field.

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