Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 9 January 2018

SSC CGL Current Affairs

Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 9 January 2018

::National::

SC says morality changes with time in LGBT case

  • The Supreme Court referred to a larger Bench a writ petition filed by five gay and lesbian members of the LGBT community to strike down the colonial Section 377 in the Indian Penal Code of 1860, which criminalises homosexuality.
  • A three-judge Bench decided to revisit a December 2013 verdict of the Supreme Court in the Suresh Kumar Kaushal versus Naz Foundation, which dismissed the LGBT community as a negligible part of the population while virtually denying them the right of choice and sexual orientation.
  • The Bench said a section of people cannot live in fear of a law which atrophies their right to follow their natural sexual inclinations. It said societal morality changes with time, and law should change pace with life.
  • While the court noted that Section 377 punishes carnal intercourse against the order of nature, it added, “The determination of order of nature is not a common phenomenon. Individual autonomy and individual natural inclination cannot be atrophied unless the restrictions are determined as reasonable.”
  • The court observed that what is natural for one may not be natural for the other, but the confines of law cannot trample on or curtail the inherent rights embedded with an individual under Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution.
  • It noted the arguments of senior advocate Arvind Datar and advocate Menaka Guruswamy, who appeared for the petitioners, that Section 377 is not a reasonable restriction on the fundamental right to choice.
  • The petitioners include Navtej Singh Johar, Bharathanatyam dancer; Sunil Mehra, senior journalist; Ritu Dalmia, restaurateur; Aman Nath, an expert on Indian art and culture; and Ayesha Kapur, food and beverage industry consultant.
  • Mr. Datar argued that Section 377 has the potential to destroy individual choice and sexual orientation.
  • The court agreed that both its decisions emphasising transgender identity in the NALSA case and the observations made by a nine-judge Bench in the right to privacy case upholding the right to sexual orientation and choice of sexual partners warrant a re-look into its dismissive verdict in the Naz case.
  • But initially the Bench seemed reluctant, saying a five-judge Bench is already considering a curative petition by Naz.
  • The court, at one point, even observed that a provision cannot become unconstitutional purely because it is abused. Mr. Datar, however prevailed, saying while Naz is an NGO, he is representing petitioners whose fundamental rights are directly affected by Section 377.
  • A Review Bench of the Supreme Court, in January 2014, had agreed with the December 11, 2013 verdict refusing to strike down Section 377 IPC. The 2013 verdict had, instead, set aside the historic and globally accepted verdict of the Delhi High Court.
  • The High Court had read down Section 377 and declared that the penal provision targeted homosexuals as a class.

Real time complaint for the online victims

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs is set to launch a web portal where people who have faced online abuse and victims of cybercrimes like financial frauds can register complaints on a real-time basis.
  • The Centre also plans to give access rights to banks on the portal to address cases of fraudulent transactions online.
  • Home Minister Rajnath Singh said last week that according to India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), there was a 21% increase per year in incidents of cybercrime.
  • The portal has been readied on the directives of a committee appointed by the Supreme Court to check circulation of child pornography and sexual violence videos on the Internet.
  • In December, the court asked the Centre to set up a cell in the Central Bureau of Investigation or the Ministry of Home Affairs to report and take down such videos and messages.
  • SC said it “expected the government and social media platforms and Internet service providers, including Google, Yahoo, Facebook, WhatsApp and Microsoft, to abide by the recommendations on which there is consensus and to try and implement them at the earliest.”The portal will be operational from January 10.
  • “If money has been fraudulently withdrawn through someone’s credit or debit card, the person can log onto the portal and register a complaint. Since banks would be given access rights, the bank concerned would receive the complaint and take action immediately,” said a senior official of the Home Ministry.

India’s supercomputing prowess moved up several notches

  • India’s supercomputing prowess moved up several notches after it unveiled pratyush,an array of computers that can deliver a peak power of 6.8 petaflops. One petaflop is a million billion floating point operations per second and is a reflection of the computing capacity of a system.
  • According to a statement by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM),Pratyushis the fourth fastest supercomputer in the world dedicated to weather and climate research, and follows machines in Japan, USA and the United Kingdom.
  • It will also move an Indian supercomputer from the 300s to the 30s in the Top500 list, a respected international tracker of the world’s fastest supercomputers.
  • The machines will be installed at two government institutes: 4.0 petaflops HPC facility at IITM, Pune; and 2.8 petaflops facility at the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecast, Noida.
  • The government had sanctioned Rs. 400 crore last year to put in place a 10-petaflop machine. A key function of the machine’s computing power would be monsoon forecasting using a dynamical model.
  • This requires simulating the weather for a given month — say March — and letting a custom-built model calculate how the actual weather will play out over June, July, August and September.
  • With the new system, it would be possible to map regions in India at a resolution of 3 km and the globe at 12 km.
  • While inaugurating the facility at IITM, Pune, Union Science Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan saidPratyushwould be India’s “premier" HPC (high performance computing) and was a step up from India’s current peak capacity of 1.0 PF.

PM asked state police chiefs to share information with each other

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the State police chiefs to share information with one another as “security cannot be achieved selectively, or alone, and for that breaking of silos and information sharing among States can help make everyone more secure”.
  • Speaking at the concluding day of the annual conference of DGPs and IGPs at the BSF Academy in Tekanpur, Madhya Pradesh, Mr. Modi said there was an emerging global consensus towards greater information sharing on illicit financial dealings, and India could play a key role in achieving this.
  • Mr. Modi said cybercrimes should be given top priority and dealt with immediately.In this context, he particularly mentioned the importance of social media.He said messaging should rely on local languages for greater effectiveness.
  • Referring to the radicalisation of youth, Mr. Modi urged the top police officers to use technology to pinpoint the problem areas.
  • Nearly 250 top officers from the State police forces and central police organisations participated in the three-day meet.
  • Mr. Modi said India was an “organic entity” and not an “assembled” one, and asked the police officers from the States to open up in sharing information on illicit financial dealings. He said while openness was getting increased acceptance worldwide, there was a need for greater openness among the States too, on security issues.
  • Following a directive of Mr. Modi, the Home Ministry has been organising the conference outside the national capital since the NDA government came to power in 2014.
  • The previous three conferences were held in Guwahati, Rann of Kutch and Hyderabad.The Prime Minister recalled how the nature and scope of the conference had changed since 2014, beginning with it being shifted out of Delhi.
  • He appreciated the officers who had been instrumental in facilitating this change.Mr. Modi said the conference had now become more relevant, in the context of challenges and responsibilities facing the country.
  • He said the new format of the conference had resulted in a marked improvement in the quality of discussions.
  • The Prime Minister commended the security apparatus for keeping the country safe. He said the officers present in the conference had provided leadership, despite often having to operate in an environment of negativity.
  • As a result of the discussions over the last few years, now, once an objective is clearly defined for the police force, there is a lot of cohesion in the execution.

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::International::

New U.S. strategy for Afghanistan is to launch a two-pronged military offensive

  • Pakistan is believed to have told U.S. interlocutors that a major military offensive against the Taliban from both sides of the Afghan border, if it fails, will have negative consequences for the entire region, according to a media report.
  • The key element in the new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan is to launch a two-pronged military offensive that inflicts a military defeat on the Taliban and forces them to join the Afghan reconciliation process on Kabul’s conditions.
  • U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis at his weekend briefing at the Pentagon urged Islamabad to cooperate with the U.S. in defeating the Afghan Taliban.
  • Pakistan fear that a major military offensive, without engaging some Taliban factions in direct talks first, could be counterproductive.
  • The Taliban might outlive this offensive too, and deal with it “lying low in their mountain fastness, as they did with previous offensives”, one interlocutor said.And in the process Pakistan will lose whatever influence it has.
  • With all lines of communication closed, the Taliban will become even more dangerous, particularly for Pakistan, which has always faced the blowback of previous adventures in Afghanistan, whether launched by the Russians or Americans, the report said.

::Business and Economy::

Government is looking into ways to incentivise States that promote exports

  • Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu said the government was looking into ways to incentivise States that promote exports, adding that a strategy was being prepared to increase the share of international trade in India’s GDP.
  • “We have discussed ideas to incentivise States that will promote exports,” Mr. Prabhu said at a press conference following the third meeting of the Council for Trade Development and Promotion.
  • “We will have to work with NITI Aayog for this. We had also asked States to appoint at least one nodal officer in charge of exports. They said for this, they would need experts, not bureaucrats. So, we are looking into that.”
  • “We are in the process of preparing a strategy for at least 40% of India’s GDP which will happen in next 7-8 years to come from global trade, and at least half of that should be from exports,” he added.
  • “So, [we are looking at] strategies for promoting that. We are also looking at strategies for Make in India..., to take our manufacturing share to more than what it is today.”
  • Trade bodies that attended the meeting sought steps to raise the awareness of officers who handle refunds under the Goods and Services Tax, and also asked for an exemption from GST for all inputs used for export production.

Companies (Amendment) Act, 2017 notified by the government

  • The government announced that it has notified the Companies (Amendment) Act 2017, which is set to ease the implementation of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016.
  • “The Central Government notified the Companies (Amendment) Act, 2017... on January 3, 2018,” the government said in a release.
  • “The provisions of this Amendment Act shall come into force on the date or dates as the Central Government may appoint by notification(s) in the Official Gazette. A few provisions in the Amendment Act have important bearing on the working of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016.”
  • Currently, Section 53 of the Companies Act 2013 prohibits the issuance of shares at a discount, something the new Act has changed.
  • Similarly, Section 197 of the Companies Act 2013 requires the approval of the company in a general meeting for the payment of managerial remuneration in excess of 11% of the net profits.
  • The amended Act says that in case of payment default, “... the prior approval of the bank or public financial institution concerned or the non-convertible debenture holders... for such payment of managerial remuneration shall be obtained by the company before obtaining the approval in the general meeting.”
  • Section 247 of the Companies Act 2013 prohibits a registered valuer from undertaking valuation of assets in which he has a direct or indirect interest.
  • Amendments limit the prohibition to three years prior to a valuer’s appointment or three years after the valuation was conducted.

SBI planning to raise 2 billion dollar through issuance of bonds

  • State Bank of India (SBI) is planning to raise $2 billion by issuing bonds in U.S. dollars or in some other convertible currency in the current and the next financial years.
  • The bank’s board approved the fundraising in its meeting. The lender may raise the funds in more than one tranche. The funds could be used to support credit demand.
  • “The executive committee of the Central Board... has approved long term fund-raising in single/multiple tranches up to $2 billion,” SBI said in a notification to exchanges.
  • The lender said the fund-raising will take place through a public offer and/or private placement of senior unsecured notes in U.S. dollars or any other convertible currency during fiscal years 2017-18 and 2018-19. SBI shares declined 0.2% to close at Rs. 305.65 on the BSE.

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