Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 19 March 2018

SSC CGL Current Affairs

Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 19 March 2018

::NATIONAL::

President addresses IITians

  • President Ram Nath Kovind called upon students of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to turn entrepreneurs to create jobs and give back to society in their own way.
  • “Through your enterprise, you shall become creators of economic values and jobs. Being an IITian, you should aspire to achieve the best not only for yourself and your families, but also for the society and for nation at large,” he said.
  • The President advised students not to hesitate taking up worthy challenges in their careers.“You, in IITs, are fortunate to receive world-class education. There is a moral obligation to pay back and help those who are less privileged in whichever manner the individual prefers,” he said.
  • The President also expressed happiness over progress made by the IITs.

Spiritual route to spur Tourism

  • In a bid to spur domestic travel, the government plans to promote religious tourism in the country, said Minister of State for Tourism K.J. Alphons.
  • Plans are also afoot to popularise yoga and Ayurveda among millennials, as part of efforts to reach out to people across the globe and get “millions of more people to India.”
  • The government is now investing in creating infrastructure around religious places.
  • The number of domestic tourist visits in 2017 stood at about 1.8 billion, up about 12% from the over 1.6 billion in the previous year.
  • The government has already approved two projects — Swadesh Darshan Scheme, wherein infrastructure will be built around places of tourist interest under the umbrella of 15 themes such as Buddhist Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit.
  • Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive or PRASAD scheme that focuses on the development and beautification of identified pilgrimage destinations.
  • The government has approved allocation of about Rs. 7,000 crore for about 90 projects under the two schemes.
  • The Tourism Ministry recently launched ‘Yogi of the Racetrack’, a minute-long advertisement on yoga, that received more than 11.5 million hits in a week.
  • Six more similar advertisements on topics, including Ayurveda, will be released soon. “The whole idea is to storm the world with what the true essence of India is.”
  • Foreign tourist arrivals in 2017 stood at over 10 million, a growth of 15.6% over 8.8 million such arrivals in 2016. This resulted in foreign exchange earnings of $ 27.6 billion last year, a growth of 20.8% over 2016.
  • The Minister said that to boost tourism, the attitude of citizens should also change.

Tribal schemes revisited: Kerala

  • In the long term, the department had issued directions to all field officers of the MGNREGS to take urgent steps to identify tribal families and issue them job cards.
  • The meeting decided to prepare an action plan for taking up development work in land owned by tribal families or in tribal hamlets to be implemented during the 2018-19 financial year.
  • It was reported at the meeting that there were wage arrears to be paid to the tribal people and on this basis, the field officers have been directed to take the necessary steps to clear the arrears.
  • It was decided to provide wages to tribal families for taking up cultivation in their own land.
  • The MGNREGS officials have been asked to provide them job days in convergence with the Agriculture Department for cultivation in their own land in accordance with the approved package of practice.
  • The meeting also decided to take up construction of tanks, including silpaulin-lined tanks, to meet their drinking water requirements and construction of roads to tribal hamlets.
  • This would be done in convergence with the Forest Department. According to sources in the Rural Development Department, steps will be taken to ensure that all tribal families are given job cards.
  • For tribal women, skill training will be given in masonry work, building blocks construction, etc under Kudumbasree and they will be utilised for construction of houses under the LIFE Mission.
  • The efforts to push the work under the MGNREGS could run into trouble if panchayats in the tribal areas have failed to upload the completion reports of all works undertaken up to 2016-17 on the MGNREGS portal and have failed to complete geo-tagging of commissioned work.
  • The labour budgets of such erring panchayats would not get approval of the Central government. The figures of actual achievements in the tribal areas would be revealed only when this process was over, they said.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

State of emergency revoked: SL

  • Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena lifted the island-wide state of emergency that he imposed on March 6 to contain spiralling anti-Muslim violence in the central highlands.
  • Earlier in March, Sinhalese groups carried out a series of targeted attacks against the Muslim-owned mosques, shops and homes in Kandy located in the Central Province.
  • The death of a Sinhalese driver, who succumbed to injuries caused by four Muslim youth in a road-rage incident, is said to have triggered the attacks.
  • The ensuing anti-Muslim violence claimed at least two lives and injured many, in addition to causing loss worth millions to Muslim traders.
  • Locals in the area accused the police of inaction. The government had to summon the Army to tackle tensions.
  • Police said they have arrested nearly 200 suspects, including a key suspect associated with a hard-line Sinhala Buddhist organisation who has in the past posted messages attacking Muslims on social media.
  • Following the violent episodes, the government banned social media networks, including Facebook, WhatsApp and Viber that authorities said contributed to an escalation in tensions.
  • The services were restored last week, amid growing criticism over the government’s apparent inability to monitor or act upon online hate speech.

Syria’s war crisis

  • Turkey’s flag was flying in Syria’s Afrin after Turkish troops and Ankara-backed rebels chased out Kurdish militia forces to seize control of the city.
  • In a major victory for Ankara’s two-month operation against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria, Turkey-led forces pushed into Afrin apparently unopposed, taking up positions across the city.
  • The advance came as Syria’s civil war entered its eighth year this week with heavy fighting on two fronts — around Afrin and in the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus.
  • Hundreds have been killed and thousands forced from their homes by the ferocious assault in Ghouta, where Russian-backed forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad are battling to retake the last rebel enclave outside the capital.
  • Around 2,50,000 civilians had left in recent days after pro-Ankara fighters all but surrounded the city, fleeing southwards to territory still held by the YPG or controlled by the Syrian regime.
  • President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that Turkey-backed fighters had taken control of the city centre at 8:30 a.m. (0530 GMT).
  • Mr. Erdoğan has said that the operation could move on to other Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria.
  • Residents said it appeared that YPG units had withdrawn from the city without a fight. Officials with the Kurdish militia could not be immediately reached for comment.
  • The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 280 civilians have been killed since the campaign began on January 20 — including 16 at a hospital.
  • The Observatory said that more than 1,500 Kurdish fighters had been killed since the start of the offensive on January 20, most of them in air strikes and artillery fire.
  • More than 400 pro-Ankara rebels have also been killed, it said. The Turkish military says 46 Turkish soldiers have died.

::ECONOMY::

Association of power producers accuse RBI

  • The Association of Power Producers has accused the RBI of overruling the Parliamentary standing panel on power and key ministries with its February 12 circular that ended all the existing loan restructuring mechanisms and voted for the insolvency code to resolve stressed assets.
  • The association has also sought a special dispensation from the Reserve Bank saying their defaults are caused mostly by non-payment/delayed payments by state discoms and regulatory delays coupled with poor coal supplies by Coal India.
  • In a March 12 letter to the RBI, the association has requested Governor Urjit Patel to exclude the power sector from the purview of the new rules.
  • Indirectly accusing the central bank of overruling the House panel on energy and the views of the Union power and coal ministries.
  • The issue of stressed assets was discussed... with developers, bankers, regulators, and officials of power and coal ministries by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy.”
  • “Every effort should be made to see that the projects with huge investment do not become NPAs for want of marginal financial infusion or adjustment in the way of making working capital available for passing on the interest variable to the stressed asset,” it said.

IOC, BPCL for Gas authority

  • State-owned Indian Oil Corp (IOC) and Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL) may buy 26% stake each in gas utility GAIL India Ltd., paying the government over Rs. 20,000 crore each to become integrated energy firms.
  • Following Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s February 2017 Budget announcement aimed at creating integrated oil majors, IOC and BPCL had submitted separate proposals to buy the Centre’s 54.89% stake in India’s biggest gas marketing and transportation firm, GAIL.
  • A top source said the government was not looking at an actual merger of oil companies but only transfer of its ownership to a cash-rich PSU. At closing price of Rs. 440.85 a share for GAIL on BSE, the Centre’s stake is worth close to Rs. 41,000 crore.
  • In January, Oil and Natural Gas Corp bought out the government’s 51.11% stake in refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd. for Rs. 36,915 crore.
  • The source said IOC and BPCL too could follow the same model and split the government’s stake equally among themselves.
  • GAIL would become their subsidiary. IOC and BPCL would get to appoint one director each on the GAIL board.
  • The source said the Centre had so far not taken any view on the proposals made by IOC and BPCL.

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