Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 7 January 2018

SSC CGL Current Affairs

Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 7 January 2018

::National::

Public sector banks to go swachh

  • For public sector undertaking (PSU) bankers, cleaning up the sea of red on their books thanks to bad loans will no longer be enough.
  • The Centre has written to PSU banks and insurance companies to build public toilets in and around their branches and join Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
  • “All public sector banks, public sector insurance companies, are requested to make special efforts in the construction of toilets for the public in their premises and nearby locations wherever feasible, and also arrange for their proper maintenance through outsourcing agencies under corporate social responsibility funds,” the Finance Ministry said.
  • Banks have been asked to furnish data on construction of toilets and their maintenance to the Department of Financial Services in the Finance Ministry, so that their cleanliness efforts can be assessed every quarter along with achievements on credit growth, bad loan recoveries and priority sector lending.
  • “Cleanliness may figure as a specific agenda item in all quarterly, periodic review meetings,” the letter said.
  • Banks have also been asked to promote cleanliness in automated teller machine booths, in withdrawal slips, and also to suggest cleanliness to loan customers while inspecting their premises.
  • Following the directive, the Department of Financial Services held a video conference with heads of PSU banks and insurers, where it was initially mooted that branches can let people use existing toilets within the premises as well.
  • PSU banks have around 90,000 branches. Bankers said the construction of a toilet would cost Rs. 50,000 on an average, although it may be higher in urban centres and metro cities, where they may need to acquire land.
  • Several bank chiefs are surprised at the directive, as it is not seen as a core activity of a bank.

Lingayat community status to remain uncertain for six more months

  • A stance of the State government over the issue of a separate religion tag for the Lingayat community, potentially an important factor in the upcoming Assembly elections, may continue to be in doubt as the expert committee set up to look into the issue has resolved to seek a six-month extension for submitting its report.
  • The committee met for the first time on Saturday and if it gets its way, then the government can make a recommendation to the Centre only after the elections, leaving the ruling Congress’ stance on the issue up in the air.

Govt says all measures taken to curb activities of ISI

  • Nearly 7,000 additional Border Security Force (BSF) personnel were deployed along the Pakistan border to check cross-border infiltration, the government has informed a parliamentary panel.
  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, said the “government’s measures to curb such activities [subversive activities in India through Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)] lack the necessary determination.”
  • The committee said it was understandable that recognising and proving such clandestine activities were difficult, but the “government needs to be more decisive so as to send a clear-cut message to the sponsors of these acts”.
  • The External Affairs Ministry assured the committee that all necessary actions were taken to protect national and national security interests and “undertaking of cross-LoC counter-terrorist operations last year [in 2016] was one such example.”
  • A well-coordinated response is very much in evidence, both in understanding the surgical strikes and in neutralising cross-border terrorists,” the Ministry said in a response. It said that 26 companies (around 2,600 men) of “special party” of the BSF had been moved from the Bangladesh border to the Pakistan border.
  • “Over the years, the Pakistani government has not only illegally occupied a portion of Jammu & Kashmir but also asserted it claims thereon.
  • The most astonishing aspect of such assertion has been Pakistan’s handing over a portion of PoK to China and the recent China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) further aggravates our sovereignty concerns.
  • In the light of such developments, the Committee feel that India needs to outline a coherent and comprehensive policy on Jammu & Kashmir, including PoK. The Committee, therefore, reiterate their recommendation of pursuing a proactive and assertive position on our rightful claims to PoK, including Gilgit-Baltistan,” the report said.

NRI’s facing big problems due to Aadhaar

  • Non-resident Indians are having a harrowing time in accessing government services and registering land deeds as the Revenue Department is insisting on the biometric identification number.
  • This is despite a recent order issued by UIDAI chief executive officer Ajay Bhushan Pandey asking Central government departments and State governments, as well as implementing agencies, to keep in mind that Aadhaar, as a document, may be sought only from those eligible for its enrolment.
  • Most of the NRIs, PIOs and OCIs may not be eligible for Aadhaar enrolment as per the Aadhaar Act of 2016.
  • However, most NRIs complain that the Aadhaar number is required for everything, including enrolling a student for a public exam such as those conducted by the CBSE, for getting LPG cylinders, telephone connection, and renewing driving licences. Banks insist on linking Aadhaar with their accounts to avoid deactivation.
  • Further, as many NRIs are doing business in India, when they are filing income tax returns, the authorities are insisting on linking Aadhaar with the PAN card, K.V. Shamsudheen, chairman, UAE-based Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust, said.
  • The biggest difficulty is the Revenue Department asking property owners to furnish Aadhaar copies as the State government has commenced a programme to digitise land documents.

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::International::

Israel-Palestine are taking another look at the one-state idea

  • As momentum ebbs for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, both sides are taking another look at the one-state idea. But that solution has long been problematic for both sides.
  • For the Israelis, absorbing three million West Bank Palestinians means either giving up on democracy or accepting the end of the Jewish state.
  • The Palestinians, unwilling to live under apartheid-like conditions or military occupation, have also seen two states as their best hope.
  • Now, for the first time since it declared its support for a Palestinian state side-by-side with Israel in 1988, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is seriously debating whether to embrace fallback options, including the pursuit of a single state.
  • Palestinian supporters envision one state with equal rights for Palestinians and Jews. Palestinians would have proportionate political power and, given demographic trends, would before long be a majority, spelling the end of the Zionist project.
  • That outcome is unacceptable to the Israeli right-wing, which is pressing to annex the land on the occupied West Bank where Jewish settlers have built communities while consigning Palestinians to the areas where they live now.
  • Israeli proponents of these ideas freely acknowledge that the Palestinian areas would be considerably less than a state, at least to start: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has even called it a “state-minus”.
  • Eventually, they say, the Palestinians could achieve statehood in a confederation with Jordan or Egypt, as part of Israel, or perhaps even independently — but not soon.

Smart Dubai project good example for India

  • Sometime in early 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet put forth a plan for upgrading a cluster of 300 villages to ‘Smart Villages’.
  • Christened as the Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission, after the founder of the Jan Sangh, the project aimed to develop the first phase by 2019. A sound plan, considering that at least 833 million, about 68%, of Indians are living in rural areas.
  • And one that can be easily realised in a developing setting such as India’s, according to Yousef Khalili, head of Smart City Digital Transformation Consulting Unit at NXN Group.
  • For Mr. Khalili, one of the architects of the Smart Dubai projects, Smart Villages is an idea that’s close to his heart. For India, Mr. Khalili recommends starting with the challenges that are presented for such a project.
  • The stress points of a city are very different from that of a village; and the quality of their life is perhaps the most prominent challenge in rural areas. Here, we are talking about demands of basic decent life conditions — education, health care, environment and employment among others.
  • Mr. Khalili says one should not look for the typical solutions that governments often resort to which have had little success over decades. When pointed to the obvious drawback that most villages lack the kind of Internet connectivity required, Mr. Khalili strikes back with complementary solutions.
  • However, even with pragmatic, yet lofty ideas, Mr. Khalili is aware that realising them would require more than just good intentions. At his previous position with Cisco as well, Mr. Khalili had worked extensively on a project focussing on India as a landscape to launch Smart Villages.

::Business and economy::

ICMAI has been approached by the Defence Ministry and AAI

  • The Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICMAI) has been approached by the Defence Ministry and the Airports Authority of India to provide suggestions on costing and pricing techniques.
  • H. Padmanabhan, vice-president of the institute, told the media here on Saturday that the institute was doing such a project for the Railways.
  • “The Railways wants a clear presentation from us before March 31. There are deadlines for defence and AAI too. We are on the job to provide our services,” he said. The institute has also given its pre-budget suggestions to the government.
  • D.P. Nandy, director — Advanced Studies, at the institute, said it had introduced four new courses for members and non-members. These are related to arbitration, business valuation, GST and one for engineering students.
  • The three-month course on GST will be unveiled next month and the other three from April. Each batch will have 20-25 students in about 40 centres across the country.
  • The institute plans tie-ups with organisations related to these professions to take the courses to more people. If required, it will organise in-house classes for employees if there is a request from the companies, he said.
  • Apart from these, it has a tie-up with the National Skill Development Agency and has signed agreements with many State governments to train young graduates.

::Science and technology::

Ozone layer recovered since CFC ban

  • An international ban on chlorine-containing man-made chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), has resulted in about 20% less ozone depletion, NASA said.
  • CFCs are long-lived chemical compounds that eventually rise into the stratosphere, where they are broken apart by the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation, releasing chlorine atoms that go on to destroy ozone molecules.
  • Stratospheric ozone protects life on the planet by absorbing potentially harmful ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin cancer and cataracts, suppress immune systems and damage plant life.
  • By comparing the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) measurements of hydrochloric acid and nitrous oxide each year, the scientists determined that the total chlorine levels were declining on average by about 0.8% annually. The study was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
  • To determine how ozone and other chemicals have changed year to year, scientists used data from the MLS aboard the Aura satellite, which has been making measurements continuously around the globe since mid-2004.
  • The change in ozone levels above Antarctica from the beginning to the end of southern winter — early July to mid-September — was computed daily from MLS measurements every year from 2005 to 2016.
  • When ozone destruction happens, chlorine is found in many molecular forms. But after chlorine has destroyed nearly all the available ozone, it reacts instead with methane to form hydrochloric acid, a gas measured by MLS.
  • According to the study , the Antarctic ozone hole should continue to recover gradually as CFCs leave the atmosphere, but complete recovery will take decades.

How H.pylori stays in highly acidic atmosphere

  • An international group of over 50 scientists including three Indians have found out how the bacteria Helicobacter pylori survive in highly acidic environment of the human stomach. H. pylori causes peptic ulcer, and chronic infection can also lead to gastric cancer.
  • For the first time, scientists have found that the binding of the bacteria to the stomach mucosal layer is acid-sensitive, allowing it to attach and detach when needed.
  • The bacteria bind to the mildly acidic (pH 6) mucous layer of the stomach and when the mucous is shed into the highly acidic (pH 2) stomach, the bacteria quickly unbinds and moves to a fresh mucous layer site. The results were published in Cell Host & Microbe.
  • Previous studies have shown that the bacteria tightly attach to the epithelial cells and mucous of the stomach with the help of an adhesin called BabA.
  • But now the researchers found that though tightly bound to the mucous, the binding affinity reduces once the bacteria sense more acidic pH (2-4 pH). The mucous lining of the stomach is constantly shed into the stomach, which is highly acidic compared with the mucous layer.
  • The scientists found a 2- and 20-fold less binding at pH 4 and 2, respectively, compared to pH 6. Within 30 seconds, 85% of the bacteria detached from the mucous layer when placed in a strong acid. They also saw that 95% of them recovered binding activity when shifted to less acidic site.
  • In order to know the exact pH at which bacteria loses binding, they tested 21 Swedish bacteria isolates. They found that that the bacteria detached at pH ranging from 2.3 to 4.9 showing that they can adapt to individual acid secretion patterns.
  • H. pylori is associated with low stomach acidity in Peru but higher acidity in Indians. The scientists carried out further studies to understand how Indian strains were more acid tolerant. They found that in order to escape the acid, the Indian strains attach to the end or bottom of the stomach.

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