Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 28 December 2017
Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 28 December 2017
Indian Science Congress will be held in Manipal University
The 2018 edition of the historic Indian Science Congress will be held at
Manipur University, Imphal, in March.
The event was scheduled at the Osmania University (OU), Hyderabad, in
the first week of January but had to be moved out due to “security
problems.” This was the first time the 106-year-old ISC — the largest
congregation of scientists in India — had to be postponed at the last
The congress sees several students, Nobel Laureates and scientists from
India’s science academies in attendance. Fresh registrations would now be
required, Prof. Gangadhar said.
Since the days of Jawaharlal Nehru, the ISC was traditionally the first
public function the Prime Minister addressed in the calendar year.
Student unrest has rattled the OU since December 3 last year, after the
suicide of a student and this was among the key reasons that led to its
withdrawal as a venue. Moreover, funds allotted by the ISCA to the OU to
spruce up the campus and prepare for the event were mostly unspent, sources
The choice of venue is usually decided a year in advance and the massive
logistical exercise involves coordinating the visit of several Nobel
Laureates, heads of Indian science academies and thousands of students.
In recent years, the Science Congress has also got flak for being a
forum that promoted pseudo science, such as in 2014, when a session on
mythology and Vedic-era airplanes was a highlight.
India-born Chemistry Laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan had castigated
the congress as a “circus.”
Festivals have always been a popular attraction for tourists visiting
God’s Own Country. Now as part of a re-branding exercise, Kerala Tourism is
launching a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based inventory of around
1,000 festivals in the State. These will be promoted as tourist attractions.
The GIS-based Festival Inventory of Kerala, a geo-coded, user-friendly
web application, offers the user a comprehensive platform that maps listed
festivals to their respective venues.
It details each festival’s legend, origin, popularity, duration,
associated celebrations, rituals, and directions to the venue, along with
the name of a contact person for further queries.
Accessible at http://www.demo.prixelmedia. com/festival/fest/ for now,
the spatial data is enhanced with features that allow dynamic navigation
based on calendar, categories, and places.
The map-based search allows a user to identify the location and plan the
journey. It also includes details such as the annual festivities at the
various shrines, boat races, Theyyams, music and dance festivals, and
Of the festivals, 82 are in Kasargod district; Kannur 85, Wayanad 44,
Kozhikode 61, Malappuram 63, Palakkad 54, Thrissur 88, Ernakulam 85, Idukki
68, Kottayam 102, Alappuzha 82, Pathanamthitta 55, Kollam 53 and the highest
of 104 is in Thiruvananthapuram.
A variety of unique and lesser known events such as the Shadow Puppetry
Festival, Malabar River Festival, Manaveeyam Queer Fest, Oachira Kali,
Splash-Wayanad, Ananthapuri Chakka Mahotsavam, and Malabar International
Kite Festival also figure in the inventory.
Ten common festivals celebrated across the State in a secular spirit
have also been included. The details of each festival are accessible as PDF
Executed by GITPAC International for Kerala Tourism at a cost of Rs. 28
lakh, the GIS inventory is the outcome of one-and-a-half years of research
and visits to the festival venues spread across the State.
With the rolling out the inventory, Kerala Tourism plans to market the
State’s cultural heritage and legacy in international travel fairs,
festivals and road shows. A festival calendar is already available on the
Air freight corridor service between Kabul-Mumbai
India and Afghanistan launched an air freight corridor service
connecting Kabul with Mumbai. Afghan Vice-President Sarwar Danish flagged
off the first flight of the dedicated service from Kabul, six months after a
similar corridor connected the city with Delhi.
The Afghan media reported that during the ceremony, Mr. Danish commented
on the importance of such connectivity initiative. “India also promised to
hold exhibition for Afghan traders in Mumbai city and they want to create
Deputy Chairman of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI)
Khan Jan Alokozay expressed hope that connectivity with India’s commercial
capital would increase fruit exports from Afghanistan.
Afghan officials said since the launch of the corridor to New Delhi,
fruits and medicines worth $20 million had been imported by India.
The air corridor marks an important bilateral development as it comes as
Afghanistan joined Pakistan and China in a trilateral talk in Beijing which
marked Kabul’s opening up to Islamabad.
Israel takes India’s vote in its stride
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to India in a
fortnight will focus on taking cooperation on “the double-T’s” of
technology, including on agriculture and water conservation, and (counter-)
terrorism to the “next level”, according to officials familiar with the
planning of the visit.
They also indicated that Israel’s unhappiness with India’s vote at the
United Nations had been put behind both countries in a “diplomatic” manner.
Mr. Netanyahu’s visit comes close on the heels of India’s decision to
vote for a resolution that criticised the United States for its shift on the
status of Jerusalem, and urged Israel to keep its commitments on talks for
the two-state solution.
Officials did not deny that the Israeli government had lodged a protest
with India about its vote, but indicated that India’s stand had to be seen
in the larger context of its growing alignment with Israel on other issues.
In particular Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel in July
2017 as the first Indian PM there. As a result, Israel had used “the right
diplomatic channels” to express its sentiments.
India’s vote at the UN had been seen as move by the Modi government to
affirm its traditional position on the Israel-Palestine peace process, as
well as to strike a balance in ties between the two countries, especially
ahead of an expected visit by Prime Minister Modi to Palestine in 2018.
Mr. Netanyahu, who is expected to be in India for a four-day four-city
tour that will take him to Agra, Ahmedabad and Mumbai, apart from his
official meetings in Delhi which he will begin his visit with.
On January 16, Mr. Netanyahu will deliver the keynote address at the
External Affairs Ministry’s annual think-tank event, the “Raisina Dialogue.”
Mr. Netanyahu, who will be accompanied by his wife, Sara Netanyahu, will
also visit the Taj Mahal in Agra.
In Mumbai, Mr. Netanyahu, whose delegation will include a big business
team of about 75-100 companies, will engage with industrialists as well as
the film industry.
An evocative ceremony is also expected at Mumbai’s Chabad House, one of
the sites of the Mumbai 26/11 terror attack, and where Moshe, an infant
whose parents were killed and his nanny who saved him will fly in from
Israel to join Mr. Netanyahu.
Mr. Modi is also expected to accompany Mr. Netanyahu during much of the
visit which will have its last stop in Gujarat.
China says CPEC’s extension is not targeted at any other country
Without naming India, China said that no country should exercise its
influence to undermine the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which
could include Afghanistan as its new member.
Referring to Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s observations at the joint press
conference with his counterparts from Pakistan and Afghanistan, Chinese
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said that “CPEC is not directed at
any third party, and we hope to bring benefits to third parties and the
But she warned that the trilateral dialogue “should not be influenced or
disturbed by any country’s influence”.
India opposes CPEC as it infringes on its sovereignty on account of its
passage through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).Ms. Hua affirmed that
Afghanistan was keen to join CPEC
China’s mediation to normalise ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan
includes interactions with Afghan and Pakistani clerics belonging to the two
Ulema Councils, in order to prevent the spread of religious extremism.
The last man who speaks Taushiro
The words are Taushiro. A mystery to linguists and anthropologists
alike, the language was spoken by a tribe that vanished into the jungles of
the Amazon basin in Peru generations ago, hoping to save itself from the
invaders whose weapons and diseases had brought it to the brink of
A bend on the river sheltered the two brothers and the other 15
remaining members of their tribe. The clan protected its tiny settlement
with a ring of deep pits, expertly hidden by a thin cover of leaves and
Even by the end of the 20th century, few outsiders had ever seen the
Taushiro or heard their language beyond the occasional hunter, a few
Christian missionaries and the armed rubber tappers who came at least twice
to enslave the small tribe.
The Taushiro were among the world’s last hunter-gathers, living as
refugees in their own country. To count in their language, they had words
only for the numbers 1 , 2 , 3 and, then, many .
The entire legacy of the Taushiro people now lies with its last speaker,
a person who never expected such a burden and has spent much of his life
overwhelmed by it. He continues to live in Intuto.
Working with Amadeo, government linguists have created a database of
1,500 Taushiro words, 27 stories and three songs, with plans to make
recordings of Amadeo available to linguists.
::BUSINESS AND ECONOMY::
Govt may miss fiscal deficit target
The Centre has decided to borrow an additional Rs. 50,000 crore in the
last three months of this financial year, a move that some economists said
could result in the government missing its budgeted fiscal deficit target of
3.2% of GDP.
Announcing the borrowing calendar for the fourth quarter, the Finance
Ministry said that the additional borrowing, which would be done through
government bonds, would, however, be offset by trimming T-Bills (treasury
bills) from Rs. 86,203 crore to Rs. 25,006 crore.
“The Government will trim down the T-Bills from present collections of
Rs. 86,203 crore to Rs. 25,006 crore by March end, 2018. (ii) The Government
will raise additional market borrowings of Rs. 50,000 crore only in fiscal
FY18 through dated government securities. (iii) The Government will thus,
between now and March 2018.”
In the Union Budget, the government had factored gross and net market
borrowing at Rs. 5,80,000 crore and Rs. 4,23,226 crore respectively, with Rs.
3,48,226 crore proposed to be raised (net) from bonds and Rs. 2,002 crore
“Most importantly, this should also alter the fiscal consolidation
path,” Mr. Ghosh said. “So, if this year’s fiscal deficit is 3.5% or higher,
next year’s deficit should also stay close to that.
Because, the government may not want to go for an aggressive
consolidation in an election year since it needs to spend more to push
growth, which is still picking up.”
The Finance Ministry said borrowings had so far been “in line”,
suggesting the government doesn’t apprehend significant fiscal slippage.
“Borrowings in FY 18 till date (December 26, 2017) have been conducted
in line with the borrowing calendar for FY18. Gross and net market
borrowings in FY18 till December 26, 2017, are Rs. 5,21,000 crore and Rs.
3,81,281 crore, excluding buyback/switches, respectively.
As against the budgeted net T-bills receipt of Rs. 2,002 crore in FY18,
net collections till December 26, 2017, are Rs. 86,203 crore.”
Another factor that would come into play next year, Mr. Ghosh said, was
that the deficit would be on the basis of a larger GDP number.
India’s export push to face headwinds
India’s efforts to increase exports could face several external and
domestic challenges in 2018.
“(In 2018), global trade may not perform as strongly as in 2017,”
Standard Chartered cautioned in a recent note to clients. “Asia, the region
most open to trade, cannot count on the same degree of external support that
it received in 2017.”
Among the many factors, the bank listed multiple political event risks —
including in the Middle East and Europe (‘possible polls in Germany and the
Brexit negotiation process’) — which could knock the markets, and global
growth, off track in 2018.
Earlier, the Centre announced incentives to the tune of Rs. 8,450 crore
in its mid-term review of Foreign Trade Policy to help increase exports of
goods and services, particularly from labour-intensive segments and small
firms as well as to boost job creation and value-addition in the country.
The announcement came in the backdrop of India’s shipments contracting
in October — the first after 14 successive months of positive growth — in
the impact of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Though exports posted a healthy 30.5% growth in November, a Nomura
report said “growth in labour-intensive exports (leather products,
ready-made garments) remains weak, possibly because of working capital
issues due to delayed GST refunds.”
While trade data reflected a solid export rebound, with imports
remaining elevated, the current account deficit (CAD) could widen to 2-2.5%
of GDP in Q4 from 1.2% in Q3. The CAD may widen to 2% of GDP in 2018 from
1.5% in 2017, mainly due to higher oil prices, it observed.
Measures, including lower interest rates, incentives for small firms to
take part in global exhibitions as well as reducing their tax burden would
These steps, along with expediting GST refunds and improvement in
logistics, could further boost exports.
Plastics sector looks to enhance exports
Plastic manufacturers in India are examining ways to increase exports
overcoming the strong headwinds they have been facing, industry officials
Though India has big manufacturers like Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL),
they account for less than 1% market share in the more than $800 billion
global exports market for plastics. However, efforts are on to grow this
“Post Goods and Services Tax (GST) introduction, we have taken up
important issues and concerns of members with the concerned ministry for
remedial action in terms of fast-tracking of IGST refunds, exemption of
merchant exporters from GST on procurement against bond or Letter of
Undertaking (LUT),” he said.
In the first six months of the current financial year, India exported
plastics worth $3.49 billion as compared with the $3.19 billion reported
during the first six months of the previous financial year, registering an
increase of 9.5%.
In the current financial year, plastic exports were expected to grow by
6% from $7.56 billion in 2016-17 to $8 billion and PLEXCONCIL was confident
that this target would be surpassed.
India exports plastics to more than 185 countries with the United States
and China being some of the major importers.
Though the industry offers huge growth potential due to low labour cost
and availability of skilled manpower, the fragmented nature of the industry
is hindering growth. Slower adoption of newer technologies, mainly by the
MSME sector, is adding to the problem.
“The industry is dominated by the MSME sector, particularly the small
scale industry, which urgently requires government support in the form of
Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) to replace their obsolete
machines,” the Council said.
::SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY::
First known Hybrid bird species discovered
Scientists have discovered the first known hybrid bird species to be
found in the Amazon rainforest — a golden-crowned manakin with yellow
Through a series of genetic tests, researchers found that the
golden-crowned manakin — first discovered in Brazil in 1957 but not seen
again until 2002 — is in fact a hybrid species.
“While hybrid plant species are very common, hybrid species among
vertebrates are exceedingly rare,” said Jason Weir from the University of
Toronto in Canada.
A hybrid species forms when two parental species mate to produce a
hybrid population, which then stops being able to freely interbreed with the