Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 21 March 2018

SSC CGL Current Affairs

Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 21 March 2018


SC/ST act being used for blackmail: SC

  • The anti-atrocities law, which protects Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes from casteist slurs and discrimination, has become an instrument to “blackmail” innocent citizens and public servants, the Supreme Court observed in a judgment.
  • The past three decades have seen complainants — who belong to the marginalised sections of society — use the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 to exact “vengeance” and satisfy vested interests, a Supreme Court Bench of Justices A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit said in their 89-page judgment.
  • “Innocent citizens are termed accused, which is not intended by the legislature. The legislature never intended to use the Atrocities Act as an instrument to blackmail or to wreak personal vengeance,” the Supreme Court observed.
  • Instead of blurring caste lines, the Act has been misused to file false complaints to promote caste hatred, the apex court said.
  • The current working of Atrocities Act may even “perpetuate casteism” if it is not brought in line and the court needs to intervene to check the “false implication of innocent citizens on caste lines.”
  • The 1989 Act penalises casteist insults and even denies anticipatory bail to the suspected offenders.
  • The law is therefore used to rob a person of his personal liberty merely on the unilateral word of the complainant, the court said.
  • Justice Goel wrote that anticipatory bail should be allowed if the accused is able toprima facie prove that the complaint against him is malafide.
  • The court referred to how public administration has been threatened by the abuse of this Act. Public servants find it difficult to give adverse remarks against employees for fear that they may be charged under the Act.
  • Issuing a slew of guidelines to protect public servants and private employees from arbitrary arrests under the Atrocities Act, the Supreme Court directed that public servants can only be arrested with the written permission of their appointing authority.
  • In the case of private employees, the Senior Superintendent of Police concerned should allow it.
  • Besides this precaution, a preliminary inquiry should be conducted before the FIR is registered to check whether the case falls within the parameters of the Atrocities Act and if it is frivolous or motivated.

Copernicus satellite, India joins Europe on data sharing pool

  • India has joined Europe’s mega global arrangement of sharing data from earth observation satellites, called Copernicus.
  • Data from a band of Indian remote sensing satellites will be available to the European Copernicus programme, while designated Indian institutional users will in return get to access free data from Europe’s six Sentinel satellites and those of other space agencies that are part of the programme, at their cost.
  • The space-based information will be used for forecasting disasters, providing emergency response and rescue of people during disasters; to glean land, ocean data.
  • For issues of security, agriculture, climate change and atmosphere, according to a statement issued by the European Commission here.
  • The agreement was signed in Bengaluru by Philippe Brunet, Director for Space Policy, Copernicus and Defence, on behalf of the EC and by P.G. Diwakar, Scientific Secretary, Indian Space Research Organisation.
  • The multi-billion-euro Copernicus is Europe’s system for monitoring the earth using satellite data. It is coordinated and managed by the EC.
  • The free and open data policy is said to have a wide range of applications that can attract users in Europe and outside.
  • The Copernicus emergency response mapping system was activated on at least two Indian occasions — during the 2014 floods in Andhra Pradesh in October 2014 and after the 2013 storm in Odisha.
  • The arrangement includes technical assistance for setting up high bandwidth connections with ISRO sites, mirror servers, data storage and archival facilities.

2014 IS abducted Indians are dead: Sushma

  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj informed the Rajya Sabha that the 39 Indians, who had been abducted in Iraq in 2014, are dead.
  • In her suomotu statement in Parliament, Ms. Swaraj said that while it was not immediately known when the Indians were killed, their bodies had been recovered from a mound in Badush, around 30 km from Mosul.
  • The identities of the deceased were established after the bodies were exhumed from a mass grave and matched with DNA samples collected from family members in September last year.
  • Strands of long hair, a kada (metal bangle worn by Sikhs), a few ID cards and shoes, which were not of Iraqi brands, were also recovered from the mound after the bodies were exhumed, the Minister said.
  • The help of the Martyr’s Foundation, an Iraqi government-run agency, was sought to establish the identity of the deceased, she said.
  • Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh would travel to Iraq to bring back the mortal remains of the Indians, she said.
  • The group of 40 Indian workers, mostly from Punjab, and some Bangladeshis were taken hostage by fighters of the Islamic State (IS) when the outfit captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in 2014.
  • A member of the group, Harjit Masih from Gurdaspur, managed to escape to Erbil and contacted Indian authorities. He later claimed that the other hostages were taken to a jungle, lined up and shot dead. The government had then rejected his claims.

Need operationally effective and humane AFSPA: Centre

  • In a first admission that Centre was keen to water down the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), 1958, Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir informed the Lok Sabha that it was considering a proposal to make the Act more “operationally effective and humane.”
  • The AFSPA is in force in several northeastern States.
  • The decision came after the Home Ministry decided to reduce the number of Central Armed Police Force personnel deployed in the northeastern States.
  • The Army had opposed any such move and several rounds of meetings had taken place with the Home Ministry.
  • Home Minister Rajnath Singh had suggested that certain “tweaking” was required as far as deployment of Central forces was concerned.
  • An official said the insurgency-related incidents in Northeast had come down to 308 in 2017, the lowest since 1997.
  • Another official said there was no final decision to repeal the AFSPA as of now, but the Jeevan Reddy Committee report, which recommended so, was taken into account.
  • The Centre appointed a five-member committee headed by Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy in November 2004 to review the AFSPA.
  • The committee recommended that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, should be modified to specify the powers of the armed forces and the Central forces.
  • The Home Ministry was of the view that additional Central forces would be sent to the northeastern States and the respective State governments would deploy the State police for regular law and order and patrolling duties.
  • In 2017, no insurgency-related incidents were reported in Tripura and Mizoram and no security forces were killed in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Mizoram.

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Venezuela sanctions broadened, ban on e-currency: U.S

  • The Donald Trump administration announced that it was broadening sanctions against Venezuela, blacklisting four government officials and banning a digital currency President Nicolás Maduro created last month to circumvent financial sanctions on his economically strapped nation.
  • The White House said the new measures were intended to send a message to Mr. Maduro’s government, which it has accused of corruption and repression.
  • The nation is in the throes of food and medicine shortages and a collapse of the health system as well as other government services, circumstances that have prompted hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans to flee.
  • The intensification of sanctions comes as Mr. Trump prepares to attend the Summit of the Americas next month in Lima, Peru, where the crisis in Venezuela will be a central issue.
  • The sanctions also come just two months before Mr. Maduro is to stand for re-election in a race he is expected to win given his control of Venezuela’s political and judicial machinery.
  • The United States is among the countries that have declared they will not recognise the results.
  • The sanctions brought an angry response from Mr. Maduro, who issued a statement that the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington “rejects and strongly condemns the alleged and unilateral new sanctions of the Donald Trump regime against the Venezuelan people and our financial and economic system”.
  • The administration’s announcement came a few hours after Mr. Trump signed an executive order barring the use of any digital currency issued by the Maduro government since January 9.
  • Mr. Maduro announced last month that his country had begun a pre-sale of the Petro, backed by the nation’s vast petroleum reserves.

Xi’s 2nd term in office

  • President Xi Jinping has set the tone for his second term in office with a rousing speech where he warned his countrymen of the difficulties that they may have to endure to ensure China’s peaceful rise.
  • In an address which was intended to rally the Communist Party of China to counter expected headwinds ahead, Mr. Xi evoked Chinese nationalism, including an oblique take from Mao Zedong’s famous quote —“The east wind will prevail over the west wind.”
  • But Mr. Xi reassured those who may be intimidated by China’s rise that his country was not pursing “hegemony”.
  • Mr. Xi’s comment could be directed at many, including those seeking independence of Taiwan or “self-determination” in Hong Kong, Xinjiang or countries such as India, Japan or in Southeast Asia, which have territorial disputes with China.
  • China’s tough position on its boundaries could also be a message to the U.S., after President Donald Trump signed a legislation, which encourages frequent exchanges between U.S. and Taiwanese officials.
  • Mr. Xi said that the people of China must be ready to contend with forces that were likely to hinder their country’s growth spiral.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Mr. Xi on his re-election as President. The two leaders, in a telephonic conversation, agreed to continue their close consultations on issues of mutual interest.


U.S tariffs will be taken bilaterally

  • India will take up the issue of the U.S. imposing tariffs on steel and aluminium imports on a bilateral level, Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu.
  • “We are obviously not the largest exporter of steel or aluminium to the U.S.,” Mr. Prabhu said at a press conference following the conclusion of an informal mini-ministerial meeting of the WTO, which was attended by 53 countries.
  • “But still, as far as we are affected, we will definitely take it up with the U.S. with whom we have a huge trade surplus and we have a very good political relationship. We will take up this matter with them bilaterally.”
  • U.S. President Donald Trump recently announced a 25% import tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminium.
  • WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo also expressed his concerns about the actions taken by the US, warning that this could lead to escalation and retaliatory tariffs being imposed by other countries.
  • “The WTO does not as an institution take a stance, but I have said publicly that I am very concerned [about the U.S.’ decision],” Mr. Azevedo said.
  • “Members committed to continuing negotiations on various issues including on the ones where we made no progress under the Doha round,” Mr. Azevedo said.
  • “But... just pledging support for the system is not enough. We need to match words with deeds.”

Move out, Move Up approach could ease agrarian crisis: IFPRI

  • Indian must adopt policies that facilitate sections of farmers to ‘move out’ of rural areas to urban areas and the remaining ones to ‘move up’ in the farming sector to tackle the current agrarian crisis, the head of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said.
  • “India needs a ‘move out, move up’ approach to deal with the agriculture crisis,” Shenggen Fan, Director General, IFPRI.
  • Non-farm opportunities in rural areas must also increase if farmers have to come out of poverty.
  • food processing, input supplies, trade and marketing, making construction materials for urban centres etc. as such non-farm opportunities that are possible in rural areas, where farmers could work part-time or seasonally.
  • Policy makers in India do not appreciate this much, it appears to me. They want to keep people in rural areas. This is not fair to them as they would continue to struggle. The policies should facilitate move out and move up.
  • Talking about the future of agriculture, he said as urban people get prosperous they will demand better, more nutritious food in the future.
  • This would encourage agriculture that is now grain focused, to shift to vegetables, fruits, good dairy products and meat.
  • Pointing out that the ownership of future agriculture technologies will have implications for the future of farmers, Mr. Fan said India must increase its investment in research.
  • According to Mr. Fan, the spread of the Internet has led to a “lot of misinformation on GMOs” in countries liked India and China, and the “governments and the researchers have the responsibility to spread accurate information” to help farmers.
  • Mr. Fan said anti-globalism could be detrimental to food security and countries such as India and China must continue to argue for “free and fair trade” and the free movement of people around the world.

NTP almost ready: Sinha

  • Union Minister Manoj Sinha said that the new telecom policy (NTP) was almost ready and would be brought in the next session of Parliament after Cabinet nod.
  • “The new telecom policy is almost ready, and, this month, we will place it on the Department’s website for public comments. We will bring it in the next session of Parliament,” the telecom minister said on the sidelines of ‘Deen Dayal SPARSH Yojana’ award ceremony.
  • The NTP 2018, being crafted by the Department of Telecom, is expected to present a growth roadmap for the Indian telecom sector, which has been reeling under severe financial stress.
  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had earlier suggested that the sector should be able to address global requirements and attract investments of about $100 billion by 2022 under the new policy.
  • The regulator had also recommended that NTP 2018 should facilitate ease of doing business through simplification of licensing and regulatory frameworks, rationalisation of taxes, levies and related compliances and facilitating availability of resources, including spectrum.

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