Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 12 January 2018

SSC CGL Current Affairs

Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 12 January 2018


SC asked Kerala CM to respond to CBI’s plea

  • The Supreme Court stayed the trial in the SNC-Lavalin corruption case and asked Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to respond to the CBI’s appeal against his discharge.
  • A Bench of Justices N.V. Ramana and Abdul Nazeer issued notice on the CBI appeal against the discharge of Mr. Vijayan, K. Mohanachandran and A. Francis.
  •  The court also sought the response of the premier investigating agency on pleas made by three other accused — M. Kasthuriranga Iyer, G. Rajasekharan Nair and R. Sivadasan — as to why they were not treated on a par with Mr. Vijayan and his two co-accused who were released from all charges.
  •  “For once, we both [the CBI and the accused] agree,” senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Raghenth Basant, appearing for the various appellant accused persons, said in agreement with the CBI.
  •  Mr. Mehta said the High Court had crossed the boundaries of its jurisdiction under Article 227 of the Constitution. “The case needs to be re-heard,” Mr. Mehta submitted.
  •  Mr. Rohatgi and Mr. Basant successfully urged the Bench to grant status quo on the trial proceedings while the appeals were pending in the Supreme Court.

Polavaram Project Authority permitted Andhra pradesh government for new tenders

  •  The Polavaram Project Authority (PPA) has permitted the Andhra Pradesh government to call fresh tenders for the spillway and the spill channel concrete work. The decision was taken at a meeting of the PPA.
  •  The early completion of the spillway including the approach channel, stilling basin, spill and the pilot channels, was critical for completing the project as per schedule.
  •  He said the PPA had discussed the various bottlenecks hindering the progress of the project, and the members felt that work on the spillway was behind schedule and needed to be expedited.
  •  He said the State government had already called tenders for the spillway work and the same would be opened in a week. This would facilitate the government from deleting the work being done by the prime contractor Transstroy and entrusting it to another contractor.
  •  The National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) had suggested some alternatives but the Dam Design Review Panel had made it clear that the cofferdam was necessary upstream to build the main dam.
  •  The PPA CEO said according to the Andhra Pradesh Re-organisation Act, the PPA office should be located in Hyderabad, the common capital of A.P. and Telangana for 10 years.
  •  The PPA had some requirements and once those were provided it would move to Vijayawada. But that was likely to take time, he said.
  •  The Water and Power Consultancy Services Limited (WAPCOS) submitted a proposal for monitoring the execution of the project, but the PPA wanted details about the number of men it could deploy.

India confirms NSAs met in Bangkok

  •  The National Security Advisers (NSAs) of India and Pakistan met on December 26 in Bangkok, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) confirmed.
  •  Commenting on the meeting, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said it was part of the mechanism to hold Pakistan accountable for the terrorism that emanates from its territory.
  •  The ‘talks on terror’ model to engage Pakistan is a change in the position that India had taken following the attack on the Pathankot airbase when New Delhi had cancelled the CBD.
  •  The dialogue was launched by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during her visit to Islamabad on December 9, 2015.
  •  The MEA had maintained silence on the talks between Indian NSA Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Lt. Gen. Nasir Janjua that were reported in the Pakistani and the Indian media last month.
  •  The meeting was held a day after the mother and wife of death row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav met him in Islamabad, but the MEA maintained that the two NSAs did not discuss Mr. Jadhav’s case at all.

India must seize the chance: U.S.

  •  India is a “leading power” in the Indo-Pacific and should gear up to become an alternative manufacturing destination to China to attract U.S. business, said U.S. ambassador to India Kenneth Juster.
  •  In his first public address since taking over as the new envoy, Mr. Juster also made a pitch for India and the U.S. to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement.
  •  “A number of U.S. companies have reported increasing difficulties conducting business in the largest market in the region — China.
  •  Accordingly, some companies are downgrading their operations there, while others are looking with great interest at alternative markets. India can seize the strategic opportunity — through trade and investment — to become an alternative hub for U.S. business in the Indo-Pacific region,” he told an audience in New Delhi.
  •  Mr. Juster, who most recently served as assistant adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump on economic issues, also expressed the need for India to expand market access and intellectual property rights, both of which are the subject of U.S.-India litigation at the World Trade Organisation.
  •  He said India and the U.S. can work together in Afghanistan, partner with Japan and Australia in the Indo-Pacific, coordinate their humanitarian assistance, as well as cooperate on connectivity projects in South Asia.
  •  He said Mr. Trump’s recent decision to suspend security aid to Pakistan came because Islamabad “has not done all it can to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan that are contributing to unrest in Afghanistan.”
  •  He placed defence and counter-terrorism cooperation as the first pillar of the India-U.S. relationship, while calling economic relations, energy and environment, science and health, and regional cooperation as the other pillars.

Indu Malhotra to start a new chapter in SC

  •  Senior advocate Indu Malhotra is set to make history as the first woman lawyer to be directly appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court.
  •  Known to be hard working and diligent, Ms. Malhotra will be the seventh woman judge in the Supreme Court, since it was established 67 years ago, if her appointment goes through.
  •  A second generation lawyer, Ms. Malhotra was born in 1956 in Bengaluru to noted advocate Om Prakash Malhotra. She joined the legal profession in 1983 and later secured first position in the Advocate-on-Record exam for the Supreme Court, a tough nut to crack for most lawyers.
  •  In 2007, she became the second woman to be designated as a senior advocate by the Supreme Court only after the legendary Justice Leila Seth, who was given the honour in 1977.
  •  She is on the board of trustees in SaveLIFE Foundation and represented the NGO in a case which resulted in the Supreme Court passing a slew of laws to protect good Samaritans, who save lives in road accidents.
  •  Another Supreme Court advocate Vrinda Grover said the addition of another woman judge at the top court was a welcome move. “At present there is only one, we need more,” Ms. Grover said.
  •  In 1989, Justice M. Fathima Beevi became the first woman judge in the Supreme Court. With only five women judges being appointed as Supreme Court judge till now, the legal fraternity feels more women should be given the opportunity.

Crocodiles and humans coexist peacefully in Odisha village

  •  Forty-five crocodiles or muggers were spotted during the forest department's annual enumeration at the Ghodahada reservoir and its adjoining ponds in Ganjam district of Odisha.
  •  The presence of crocodiles in this irrigation reservoir spread over five square kilometres has been attributed to humans.
  •  During the British era, a zamindar family had kept a few crocodiles in a large tank adjacent to the Ujjaleswar temple. Forest officials say some crocodiles from the temple tank escaped into the reservoir during floods.
  •  According to the annual crocodile census held on January 8, 28 muggers have have been sighted in the Ghodahada reservoir while 17 were found in the seven ponds near it.The Ujjaleswar temple tank has four.
  •  But forest officials feel their real numbers might be higher. In the 2017 census, 55 muggers were sighted in the region and 39 of them were found within the reservoir.
  •  To get an accurate figure of the crocodiles, the forest department has decided to conduct another enumeration at the end of winter.
  •  Crocodiles of the reservoir or those in the ponds have not harmed any of the villagers, who are mostly fishermen, to date. Fishermen of the area have formed a Maa Ramchandi Crocodile Protection Committee, which is involved in the conservation of the reptiles in the reservoir and the ponds.

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Many challenges to China’s Silk Road

  •  China’s plan for a modern Silk Road of railways, ports and other facilities linking Asia with Europe hit a $14 billion pothole in Pakistan.
  •  Pakistan’s relations with Beijing are so close that officials call China their “Iron Brother”. Despite that, plans for the Diamer-Bhasha Dam were thrown into turmoil in November when the chairman of Pakistan’s water authority said Beijing wanted an ownership stake in the hydropower project. He rejected that as against Pakistani interests.
  •  China issued a denial but the official withdrew the dam from among dozens of projects being jointly developed by the two countries.
  •  From Pakistan to Tanzania to Hungary, projects under President Xi Jinping’s signature ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ are being cancelled, renegotiated or delayed due to disputes about costs or complaints that host countries get too little out of the projects.
  •  In some areas, Beijing is suffering a political backlash due to fears of domination by Asia’s biggest economy.
  •  Belt and Road, announced by Mr. Xi in 2013, is a loosely defined umbrella for Chinese-built or -financed projects across 65 countries from the South Pacific through Asia to Africa and Europe.
  •  Other governments welcomed the initiative in a region the Asian Development Bank says needs more than $26 trillion of infrastructure investment by 2030 to keep economies growing.
  •  Nations including Japan have given or lent billions of dollars for development, but China’s venture is bigger and the only source of money for many projects.
  •  Among projects that have been derailed or disrupted, authorities in Nepal cancelled plans in November for Chinese companies to build a $2.5 billion dam after they concluded contracts for the Budhi Gandaki Hydro Electric Project violated rules requiring multiple bidders.
  •  Consulting firm BMI Research has compiled a database of $1.8 trillion of infrastructure investments across Asia and Africa that include Chinese money or other involvement.

U.S. can still come back to environment deal

  •  President Donald Trump said that the United States could “conceivably” return to the Paris climate accord, although he stopped short of signalling any move in that direction.
  •  “Frankly, it’s an agreement that I have no problem with, but I had a problem with the agreement that they signed, because, as usual, they made a bad deal,” Trump told a news conference.
  •  “So we can conceivably go back in,” added the President, who announced his intention to pull out of the 2015 accord on curbing global warming emissions last June.
  •  A full U.S. pullout could jeopardise global efforts to limit average warming to under two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.
  •  Standing alongside Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Mr. Trump presented himself as a champion of environmentalism.
  •  “One of the great assets of Norway is a thing called water,” Mr. Trump said. “They have tremendous hydro power, tremendous. In fact most of your energy or your electricity is produced by hydro. I wish we would do some of that.”
  •  In the year since coming to office, Mr. Trump’s administration has worked to ease environmental legislation, which industry considers a burden on growth.
  •  “The Paris Accord really would have taken away our competitive edge. And we are not going to let that happen,” he said.

Beijing wary of Indian presence in S. China Sea

  •  China objected to Vietnam’s invitation to India to invest in oil and natural gas sector in the disputed South China Sea, saying it is firmly opposed to infringement of its rights using development of bilateral ties as an “excuse”.
  •  Vietnam’s Ambassador to India Ton Sinh Thanh on Tuesday had told an Indian news channel that his country would welcome Indian investments in the South China Sea.
  •  But China firmly oppose relevant party to use it as an excuse to infringe upon China’s legitimate rights and interests in the South China Sea and impair regional peace and stability,” Mr. Lu said.
  •  China has been opposing Oil and Natural Gas Corporation exploring oil in wells claimed by Vietnam in the South China Sea for years.

::Business and Economy::

GST refunds hit car exports: SIAM

  •  India’s passenger vehicle (PV) exports remained flat in 2017, plagued by the issue of GST refunds to automobile manufacturers, which has touched Rs. 2,000 crore since the implementation of the new tax regime.
  •  According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), PV exports from India stood at 7,38,894 units last year as against 7,38,137 units in 2016, a marginal growth of 0.1%.
  •  “The system of GST refund is not functioning and [is] having an impact on exports of passenger vehicles. In December, we had a meeting of five-six top exporters and what we found was that the pending refund amount is around Rs. 2,000 crore,” SIAM deputy director general Sugato Sen said.
  •  The issue has affected companies which export more from India than they sell in the domestic market, he added.
  •  Under the GST regime, payments are made upfront and manufacturers claim input tax credit refund later.As per SIAM data, after the new tax became reality in July 2017, exports began to decline rapidly.
  •  In January-March 2017, exports grew 12.56% to 1,82,473 units against 1,62,103 units in the year-earlier period. Similarly, in April-June, it increased 13.79% to 1,80,669 units from 1,58,770 units.
  •  But, in July-September, exports declined by 12.87% to 1,81,423 units as against 2,08,223 units. In October-December too, PV exports stood at 1,94,329 units as against 2,09,041 units, a decline of 7.04%.
  •  Manufacturers such as Ford India and Volkswagen India had in November expressed concern over the challenges related to GST refund. VW India had even stated that it could be forced to rethink on exports if the challenge was not resolved.
  •  Mr. Sen added that one of the reasons for drop in PV exports was also due to a major exporter like Hyundai focusing on catering to the growing domestic demand.

India, U.K. hold trade talks in Brexit’s shadow, eye FTA

  •  Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu held talks with his British counterpart, International Trade Secretary, as the two countries look for opportunities to boost trade and investment, including via a potential Free Trade Agreement, as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.
  •  As part of its efforts to strengthen trade, Britain’s export credit agency U.K. Export Finance has doubled financial support for British firms that export to India.
  •  The UKEF has now made £4.5 billion available to British companies exporting to India and Indian firms buying British goods and services.
  •  While Britain is unable to hold formal trade talks with countries outside the EU till it leaves the union (at the end of March 2019), the 12th meeting of the U.K.-India Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO), being held this week provides an opportunity for the countries to build on the U.K.-India trade working group established last year.
  •  Liam Fox, a vocal campaigner for Brexit, said expanding bilateral trade and investment with India, and breaking down trade barriers, would be central to the task of Britain preparing for its independent trade policy.
  •  “It’s in our shared interest to boost prosperity, generate jobs, develop skills, and enhance the competitiveness of both our countries,” Mr. Fox said.
  •  Mr. Prabhu is on a four-day visit to London, as part of which he is set to attend JETCO. His visit comes ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to attend.

Telecom subscriber base falls

  •  The number of telecom subscribers dwindled by 1.58 crore to 118.5 crore in November, even as Reliance Jio continued to lead in customer addition with over 15 crore subscribers, as per a report by TRAI.
  •  “The number of telephone subscribers in India declined from 1,201.72 million at the end of October 2017 to 1,185.88 million at the end of November 2017, thereby showing a monthly decline rate of 1.32 per cent,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said in a monthly subscriber report.
  •  The decline was mainly on account of closure of mobile services by some of the operators.

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