Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 25 December 2017
Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 25 December 2017
SC directed Centre to place on record the amended draft of the Central
The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to place on record the amended
draft of the Central Tribunal, Appellate and other Authorities Rules, 2017,
which is under challenge for modifying the terms of appointment and
functioning in various statutory tribunals, including NGT.
Appearing before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra,
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal submitted that the government would amend
the Rules and place the draft of the changes on January 4, 2018 before the
The court, on December 15, ordered the government to give copies of the
amended Draft Rules to senior advocates Arvind Datar and Mohan Parasaran,
who were appointed amicus curiae, in the case.
They are to peruse the proposed amendments and, if necessary, point out
anything contrary to the Attorney General’s submission before the matter is
taken up by the court.
The court emphasised that the amendments should be in consonance with
its past decisions in tribunal appointments.
The development came on several petitions, primarily one by Congress MP
Jairam Ramesh, challenging the provisions of the 2017 Rules and the Finance
Act, 2017 introducing the modifications in key tribunal appointments.
Mr. Ramesh specifically challenged Sections 182, 183, 184 and 185 of the
Finance Act, 2017 as well as the 2017 Rules framed under Section 184.
He contended that Section 184 clothed the government with “uncanalised
and unguided power to make rules to provide for qualifications, appointment,
term of office, salary, allowances, resignation, removal and other terms and
condition of service of chairpersons and members of several other tribunals
and appellate tribunals.
But now, the Centre, through the Finance Act, had gifted to itself the
power to control the functioning of the tribunal itself and, that too, when
the government was itself a party in most cases before the tribunal, Mr.
Ramesh had contended.
Centre asked High Courts to set up a mechanism to fast-track the maintenance
Expressing concern over delay in disbursing money awarded as maintenance
to women by courts, the Centre has asked the High Courts to set up a
mechanism to fast-track the process.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has written to the Chief Justices of
all High Courts flagging the issue of “procedural delays” first pointed out
by Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi.
The Law Minister asked High Courts to advise district courts to monitor
timely disbursal of maintenance and speedy execution of warrants awarded by
Acting on the Law Minister’s letter, several High Courts have set up
committees to now monitor the process of disbursal of maintenance to women.
“To take care of the concern shown in the letter, the High Court has
issued a circular to all the principal district and sessions judges in the
State where they have directed to monitor the disbursal of the money awarded
to the women as maintenance by the courts,” Chief Justice BadarDurrez Ahmed
of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court said.
“The High Court is also compiling data relating to pending cases
pertaining to average time taken in awarding/actual payment of maintenance
in such proceedings,” wrote Chief Justice Ahmed.
Jaipur Thakur to be the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh
His name was announced by the party’s central observers and Union
Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Narendra Tomar and J.P. Nadda in the presence
of State party in-charge Mangal Pandey, all MPs and other senior leaders at
a meeting in Shimla.
Mr. Thakur’name was proposed by the former Chief Minister Prem Kumar
Dhumal and seconded by sitting MP Shanta Kumar, Mr. Nadda and State
Mr. Dhumal had made his position clear that he would no longer be a
contender for the top post. It was then believed that Mr. Nadda would be the
high command’s choice.
However, the high drama and suspense going on since December 18 ended
when Mr. Thakur’s name was unanimously accepted by the elected MLAs and the
It is believed that the Prime Minister did not want to spare Mr. Nadda
from his duties at the Centre and his organisational role at the top.
A relatively younger leader, Mr. Thakur having the required RSS backing
became the automatic choice for the top post. An agriculturist by
profession, he had also remained State BJP president and a Minister of
Panchayati Raj and Rural Development in the second Dhumal government of
Parliamentary panel asked the government to take urgent remedial measures
Concerned over rising NPAs of banks, a Parliamentary panel asked the
government to take urgent remedial measures to reduce the volume of stressed
assets in the system and strengthen its vigilance mechanism.
The Committee on Petition in its reports said that it is constrained to
note that even after having a ‘vigilance mechanism’ in vogue in the banking
system, there are incidences of fraud relating to non-performing assets.
“In this regard, the Committee opined that merely issuing of guidelines
or advisories by the government or the RBI for averting the incidences of
fraud relating to NPAs do not seem to have yielded the desired results and
the RBI — being a Regulator — does not seem to have succeeded insofar as
implementation and enforcement of its own guidelines is concerned,” it said.
The Committee, therefore, recommended that the government impresses upon
the Reserve Bank of India to monitor and follow up strict compliance of
relevant instructions with banks and financial institutions on a regular
basis, the panel added.
It also recommended that the existing vigilance mechanism be revisited
and, if required, be amended, to provide more teeth to it.
Problems arose in the WTO meet
Asked recently by the fashion and lifestyle publication Vogue about her
‘recurrent nightmare’, the late music icon Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris
said, “Trump,” and then, quipped, “Oh wait, that’s reality...”
Though far removed from the lofty world that Ms. Jackson inhabits, weary
trade officials — from more than a hundred developing countries, including
India — were also hit by a somewhat similar reality towards the latter stage
of the intense negotiations in Buenos Aires.
They had converged in the Argentine capital earlier this month for the
meeting of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) apex decision-making body
called the Ministerial Conference (MC), an event attended by trade officials
from all the 164 WTO member countries.
On the cards was a decision, without many stringent riders, to enable
developing countries to safeguard the livelihood of poor farmers and meet
their population’s food security needs. This was considered ‘low-hanging
fruit’ as there was already a Ministerial mandate to arrive at such a
decision by 2017.
Trump administration reneged at the last minute on an earlier commitment
by the U.S., and instead sought many onerous conditions — in proposed WTO
norms relating to public stockholding of food grains — that developing
countries could not accept as binding rules.
Rewind to the beginning of this year. In January, the Trump
administration withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a mega-regional
free trade agreement signed by the Obama administration along with 11 other
With such startling moves, the Trump administration has given further
credence to the notion that it favor’s bilateralism over multilateralism,
and protectionism over free trade.
It has also signalled that it would not hesitate to take decisions that
upset the continuity of or consistency with earlier U.S. policies.
In a much criticised stand, the Trump administration decided to block
the appointment of judges to the WTO’s Appellate Body, under the Dispute
Settlement Mechanism (DSM) on grounds including that the U.S. was losing far
too many cases — something that many have contested.
Multilateral agreements within the WTO framework have far-reaching
implications on global trade unlike bilateral deals. So when biennial WTO
Ministerial Conferences (MC) end in a deadlock like what was seen in Buenos
Aires, it affects the credibility of the multilateral rule-based trading
Decisions at the WTO are taken by consensus among all member countries.
Though all are considered equal, countries like the U.S. wield considerable
influence in the manner in which consensus is arrived at.
So, when the U.S. decides that sectoral agreements at the WTO is the way
forward, it could in turn change the very DNA of the global body and spell
the end of WTO in its current form.
Facing such a prospect, what are the options before India, which, along
with several other nations, has been opposing the introduction of new and
the so-called 21st Century trade issues such as e-commerce, investment
facilitation and proposed norms on small firms, without resolving
outstanding Doha Round issues such as food security?
He said India needed to quickly forge a larger alliance on issues such
as e-commerce and investment facilitation in addition to planning a strategy
to counter the moves that are against India’s interests.
On a more fundamental point, Mr. Dhar warned that global rule-making
will face a serious problem if countries take actions that lead to loss of
trust in having a constructive dialogue process.
::Science and Tech::
China’s home-grown AG600, the world’s largest amphibious aircraft
China’s home-grown AG600, the world’s largest amphibious aircraft in
production, took to the skies for its maiden flight.
The plane, codenamed ‘Kunlong’, according to state news agency Xinhua,
took off from the southern city of Zhuhai and landed after roughly an
With a wingspan of 38.8 metres and powered by four turboprop engines,
the aircraft is capable of carrying 50 people and can stay airborne for 12
The amphibious aircraft has military applications but will be used for
firefighting and marine rescue, with at least 17 orders placed so far with
state-owned manufacturer Aviation Industry Corp of China, state media
While it is around the size of a Boeing 737, the AG600 is considerably
smaller than billionaire Howard Hughes’ flying boat, better known as the
Spruce Goose, which had a wingspan of 97 metres and a length of 67 metres
but only made one brief flight, in 1947.
The AG600’s flight capabilities put all of China’s island-building
projects in the South China Sea well within range.
The aircraft can fly to the southernmost edge of China’s territorial
claims — the James Shoal — in just four hours from the southern city of
Sanya, state-ownedGlobal Times reported.
The shoal is also claimed by Taiwan and Malaysia, and is currently
administered by Malaysia. The collection of submerged rocks lies roughly 80
km from Malaysia’s coastline and about 1,800 km from the Chinese mainland.
Chip to dramatically improve the efficiency of teaching machines
Scientists have developed a new type of neural network chip that can
dramatically improve the efficiency of teaching machines to think like
The network, called a reservoir computing system, could predict words
before they are said during conversation, and help predict future outcomes
based on the present.
Reservoir computing systems, which improve on a typical neural network’s
capacity and reduce the required training time, have been created in the
past with larger optical components.
Researchers from University of Michigan in the U.S. created their system
using memristors, which require less space and can be integrated more easily
into existing silicon-based electronics.
Memristors are a special type of resistive device that can both perform
logic and store data. This contrasts with typical computer systems, where
processors perform logic separate from memory modules.