Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 25 January 2018
Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 25 January 2018
Ban on tobacco sale at shops selling FMCG items : MH Govt.
The Maharashtra government banned the sale of tobacco at shops selling
fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) items to ensure that children don’t
The goods include packaged food and other consumables.
The FDA has also extended ban on ‘scented supari’ (areca nut) by six
months till July 2018.
The central government had asked Maharashtra’s Chief Secretary to
prohibit shops selling FMCGs from selling tobacco.
“This practice attracts teenagers to consume tobacco. Therefore, we came
up with a notification on January 9, banning all shops selling FMCG items
from selling any tobacco products,” Ms. Darade, Commissioner of Maharastra
Food and Drug Administration said.
Indigenous Civil Airplane took off again
At 11 a.m, a nondescript civilian plane, painted in grey, took off from
the HAL Airport.
For many in the National Aeronautical Laboratory, the flight held a
special significance: the rise of their flagship programme.
Nearly a decade after a tragic crash of the 14-seater Saras, which
effectively stalled the indigenous civilian aircraft programme, saw the
first flight trial of the new version of the airplane, PT1N (Prototype 1
Those in the know-how said the first of the over six “design confidence
building” trials went off successfully.
For 40 minutes, the aircraft, accompanied by a defence escort, flew to
speeds of 140 knots and reached a height of 8,500 feet, said officials.
Subsequent design and altitude alterations can see the flight reach
closer to its top speed of 184 knots and 30,000 feet in height.
The aircraft programme, named after the Indian crane Saras, was first
conceptualised in the 1990s as a way to establish a short-haul civil
After decades on working out the design, NAL carried out its first
flight on May 29, 2004.
On March 6, 2009, Prototype 2 crashed at Bidadi on the outskirts of the
city killing two wing commanders and one flight test engineer.
A subsequent inquiry found that incorrect drill procedures were given to
pilots during a test where engines were to be switched off and then relit.
The accident, however, had a lasting impact on the project, and by
mid-2013, monetary sanctions for the project dried up.
It was only in 2015-end that the project restarted, and by Aero-India
2017 in Bengaluru, NAL announced that CSIR had given the go-ahead and flight
tests would begin in 2018.
“It is a big morale booster for NAL to see a long-pending project gather
steam,” said an official, when asked about what the short-flight means to
the defence public sector unit.
Security issues main focus at ASEAN summit
Symbolism and ceremony will mark the 25th year commemorative summit of
the ASEAN-India dialogue partnership, but officials say security issues in
the Indo-Pacific will be the focus of discussions among the 10 leaders of
the Association of South East Asian Nations and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Maritime Cooperation & Security”, the theme during the Leaders’
Retreat, will find “prominent mention” in the joint statements, said
officials involved in the planning.
It is understood that Vietnam, which is tasked with drafting the
statement, and India have both been keen on cooperation on Freedom of
Navigation, access to waterways and countering piracy on the high seas as a
key part of the Delhi Declaration, which would be seen as a strong message
The ASEAN-India joint statement, on the theme of “Shared Values and
Common Destiny” will focus on the “three Cs of connectivity, commerce and
Along with the issues of maritime security, cybersecurity and
cooperation on fighting terrorism.
Other areas of divergence, that will not be in the joint statement could
be taken up during the Retreat, where leaders will sit together informally
in the majestic setting of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Among them is the Rohingya issue, with the repatriation of refugees from
Bangladesh being delayed after many including the UN cited a lack of
guarantees for their safety in Myanmar.
India’s High Commissioner to Bangladesh gave a statement supporting the
However, the ASEAN-India grouping may find the issue too sensitive to
broach in any formal way with Aung San Suu Kyi.
India’s difficulties with the 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic
Partnership (RCEP) will also be on the agenda for talks, as most ASEAN
countries are keen to conclude the negotiations by 2018-end.
India is keen to discuss its concerns over China’s Belt and Road
Initiative. However, this may not find as much traction.
SC questions Totalitarianism in Aadhaar cases
The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned the argument put forth by
petitioners in Aadhaar cases that collection of personal information of
citizens by the state would lead to totalitarianism.
It asked whether the state’s access to personal and biometric data was
necessary to combat terrorism and crimes such as money-laundering.
Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, hearing the challenge to the Aadhaar scheme as
a violation of the fundamental right to privacy, said an individual ought to
have no objection if the state accessed his or her personal data to check if
he was paying taxes.
What would be the problem if personal information was used only for the
limited purpose for which it was collected, he asked.
But senior advocate Kapil Sibal said that at present, a citizen who had
parted with his personal data and biometrics was in the dark about how the
state was using them and whether or not these were safe at all.
“By the time the citizen gets to know, the Big Brother would have become
a ‘Bigger Brother’,” he said.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan and advocate Vipin Nair, for the
petitioners, argued that the whole idea was to prevent such a situation.
Mr. Divan submitted that cancellation of Aadhaar now would amount to
turning off the switch on a person.
The authorities could do this if Aadhaar appeared fraudulent to them.
Justice A.K. Sikri asked what was wrong in cancelling an Aadhaar number
procured through fraud.
But Mr. Divan said there should be other alternatives to Aadhaar and a
person’s very existence should not hinge on just one source.
He said a situation had arisen wherein a person ceased to exist and
became a ghost, if his biometrics did not match. The arguments will continue
on January 25.
Centre determined to reduce Population Growth before deadline
The UN’s World Population Prospect report may state that India’s
population will equal China’s in the next seven years.
But the government seems determined to slow down the growth before that
According to our figures, 24 States and Union Territories in the country
have achieved the total fertility rate (TFR) of 2.1%.
The TFR is defined as the total number of children born or likely to be
born to a woman in her lifetime at the prevailing rate of age-specific
fertility. Population stabilisation is said to be achieved at a TFR of 2.1
because a population just replaces itself at that rate.
Identified 146 districts across seven states — Assam, Bihar,
Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh — that
have high TFR, for this project.
Among the things that are part of the plan is a range of contraceptive
devices, medicines, counselling, special classes for family planning and in
cases where there are social barriers, to work with institutions to dispel
China and Japan appear set for a long-term engagement.
Based on a two-track approach, where Tokyo’s decision to build its
military muscle can be leveraged to negotiate with Beijing from a position
The Nikkei Asian Review reported that Mr. Abe reiterated Japan’s
readiness to push ahead with his “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy,”
It pursues stability and prosperity on the basis of an international
rules-based order in the region.
The report highlighted that the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy
policy was “originally” seen as aimed at addressing China’s maritime
assertiveness, signalling a shift in stance.
It added: “But (Mr.) Abe also said Japan will cooperate with Beijing to
meet growing demand for building infrastructure in Asia, bearing in mind
President Xi Jinping’s “One Belt, One Road” cross-border infrastructure
The Indo-Pacific doctrine was not focused on China’s so-called
Instead it was an expression of anxiety regarding the uninterrupted flow
of trade along important regional sea lanes.
Mr. Abe said Japan and China were “inseparable” countries.
Mr. Abe expressed his resolve to have reciprocal visits between him and
Chinese President Xi Jinping “as soon as possible”.
The sources said the process of reciprocal visits could begin with
Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang’s visit to Japan for a trilateral meeting
of China, Japan and South Korea.
That could be followed by a visit to China by Mr. Abe. Mr. Abe’s arrival
in Beijing would set the stage for President Xi’s return visit to Japan.
Capital infusion into PSBs
The government on Wednesday announced the details of the Rs. 2.1 lakh
crore recapitalisation plan for public sector banks (PSBs)
It had announced in October 2017, including a reforms package across six
themes including aspects like customer responsiveness, responsible banking,
and increasing credit offtake.
The recapitalisation package would be spread across the current
financial year 2017-18 and the next year 2018-19.
The capital infusion plan for 2017-18 includes Rs. 80,000 crore through
recapitalisation bonds and Rs. 8,139 crore as budgetary support.
The recapitalisation package would follow a differentiated approach for
banks that have been assigned for prompt corrective action (PCA) and those
that have not.
The recapitalisation amount for PCA banks would be used for support to
maintain their regulatory capital requirements, and to strengthen their
governance and operations.
The amount for non-PCA banks is to be used for investment in growth
Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg said recapitalisation
bonds would not have an impact on the fiscal deficit as they would be “cash
Help us fight against Climate Change: Tea growers
The tea industry wants the Centre to help it fight climate change, which
is affecting crop output. The common ground between the large estates and
small tea growers — now an emerging force in the Indian tea industry — seems
to be the incentives they are seeking to support the farm practices that
have become necessary to combat climate change.
Small tea-growers, who have begun carving out an increasing share in
India’s total crop, are urging the Centre to adopt a more farm-centric
approach — one which would assist a majority among them, who grow tea on
less than an acre.
“They are essentially farmers and they need schemes to protect them from
the impact of climate change and resultant crop loss,” the Confederation of
Indian Small Tea Growers Association said in a representation to the Centre.
“We strongly urge the government of India to implement crop insurance
schemes and invest in preparing farmers.”
As erratic climate continues to affect output, the industry’s focus is
on creating irrigation facilities and on replanting the older tea bushes.
Almost 38% of the area under cultivation comprises tea bushes which are more
than 50 years old. While the younger 10-year-old bushes cover 26% of the
area, about 9-10% each fall in the intervening decadal categories spanning
11-50 years. The age of a bush is directly linked with yield.
Industry gets support for its investment in this regard through income
tax deductions, with the floor limit set at Rs. 25 crore. This limit ought
to be removed so as to enable investment in plant and machinery for
irrigation, according to the industry.
The problem of small farmers having to face heavy crop loss due to
recurring instances of hailstorms, frost, rains and droughts, in the absence
of any system to compensate them, is another concern.
“We strongly urge the government to implement crop insurance schemes and
invest in measures that would prepare farmers to face the challenge of
climate change,” the growers’ body said. It also wanted the government to
declare minimum support price for green tea leaf produced by small growers.
According to the Tea Board, small growers accounted for 44% of the
1,250.5 million kg of tea crop in 2016-17.
The organised tea industry, which is weighed down by social costs
(mandated under the Plantation Labour Act and covering areas like housing,
medical, potable water and subsidised rations), is also keen to see some
direct tax relief for these expenses. Customs duty on specified machinery
was 5% in 2003 and through yearly extensions continued at this level till
2011. Industry contends that the moderate increases in price do not cover
the rise in inputs costs.
In respect of GST, the industry has sought some simplification and
removal of anomalies that are affecting exporters.
On the value-added export front (tea bags), industry is looking for
concessional duty on filter paper, multiwall paper and nylon cloth which is
required for making tea bags.
“These products are either not available in the domestic market or of
poor quality. Total duty incidence on these papers is very high making India
uncompetitive,” industry said.
New Norms for Insurance Brokers : IRDAI
IRDAI will soon announce a new set of regulations to govern insurance
The norms would cover issues concerning ownership and partnership.
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Insurance Brokers)
Regulations, 2013, are to be replaced by the new regulations.
The role of brokers is in improving insurance penetration.
People had to be made aware of the benefits of insurance.
The policies have to be bought as opposed to being sold.
The insurance business was growing very well, across life, non-life and
even health verticals.
The Centre’s initiatives such as crop insurance and Pradhan Mantri
Suraksha Yojana had also “generated positive attitude in the people towards
The challenges for the regulator, would be about adopting technology and
digitisation of the insurance process for the benefit of the customers.
Digitisation would allow for a reduction in cost, improving the reach to
the customer and usher in custom-made products using analytic tools.
Insurance Brokers Association of India president Sanjay Kedia said the
gross domestic premium (non-life) contribution by insurance brokers was Rs.
30,442 crore in 2016-17.
There were 428 insurance brokers in the country.
::SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY::
Conceived and Developed Indian Vaccine gets “Pre-qualified” status
For the first time, a vaccine conceived and developed from scratch in
India has been “pre-qualified” by the World Health Organisation.
The Rotavac vaccine, developed by the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech
Limited last year, was included in India’s national immunisation programme.
To be “pre-qualified” means that the vaccine can be sold internationally
to several countries in Africa and South America.
While several vaccines from India have been pre-qualified, this is the
first that was entirely developed locally and, according to experts, is a
sign that there is a credible industrial, scientific and regulatory process
in place to develop vaccines in India.
The Rotavac vaccine protects against childhood diarrhoea caused by the
rotavirus and was built on strain of the virus isolated at the the All India
Institute of Medical Sciences here over 30 years ago.
Some medics have raised concerns that the rotavirus vaccine carried a
small chance of causing infants to develop a bowel disorder; but the Rotavac
vaccine, having been tested in the field for over a year, have not shown any
Amarnath driver gets gallantry award
A bus driver from Gujarat who drove through a hail of bullets and saved
the lives of more than 50 Amarnath Yatra pilgrims last year has been
selected for the Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak, the second highest honour given
to civilians for gallantry after the Sarvottam Jeevan Raksha Padak.
The Home Ministry announced this ahead of Republic Day.
Sheikh Salim Gafur displayed rare grit and bravery and continued to
drive the bus which came under attack on July 10, 2017 in Jammu and Kashmir.
Seven pilgrims were killed and 14 injured when terrorists opened fire on
the bus near Batengoo in Anantnag district, while 52 passengers escaped
unharmed as Mr. Gafur showed presence of mind.
The State government will also honour him with a Rs. 1 lakh cash prize
at a function to be held later.
The Jammu and Kashmir police got 38 of the 107 gallantry medals,
followed by the CRPF (35) and the police forces of Chhattisgarh (10),
Maharashtra (7) and Telangana (6). Five IPS officers are on the medal list.
The highest number of gallantry awards were won by security personnel
involved in counter-terror operations in Jammu and Kashmir.
A total of 35 personnel serving in Naxal-affected areas and three in the
Northeast too have made it to the gallantry list.
Seven police officials have been awarded the medal posthumously.
Among them six were from Chattishgarh who laid down their lives in anti-Naxal
operations at Chintagufa in Sukma district.
Nand Kishore Prasad, assistant sub-inspector, CRPF, has been selected
for the police gallantry medal for showing exemplary courage in an operation
against terrorists who attacked a bus carrying BSF personnel on June 3,
Of the 785 police medals announced, 616 are for distinguished service.