Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 29 March 2018

SSC CGL Current Affairs

Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 29 March 2018

::NATIONAL::

Implementation of order by SC on seniority list

  • In a move that implies major shifts in bureaucracy, the State government of Karnataka has asked its departments to implement the seniority list as directed by the Supreme Court.
  • This would mean that while thousands of general category employees will be promoted, many employees belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes will have to be demoted to accommodate the general category employees.
  • According to sources in the government of the about six lakh government employees, at least about 50,000 will see changes in their designations --- either with a promotion or a demotion.
  • The departmental promotion committee will now screen the eligible candidates for promotion.
  • The government has also sought a list of those to be demoted to see how the issue can be handled.
  • The government had sought extension of time to implement the seniority list after the Supreme Court, in February 2017, struck down the provision of consequential seniority (which ensured reservation in promotions to SC/ST employees).
  • Since then, the government had sought time from the Supreme Court thrice. The court had on March 20 set a one-month deadline to implement the order.
  • The Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms issued a circular asking departments to notify seniority list and also collate list of officials who will have to be demoted.
  • In the same circular, it also withdrew the order that had asked departments to withhold any fresh promotions.
  • The issue over consequential seniority had taken a political turn with government introducing a Bill to prevent any demotion of SC/ST employees, citing a committee report that favoured continuation of the scheme to bring a balance in bureaucracy.
  • Both the Houses of the legislature had passed the Bill unanimously. The Governor has referred the Bill to the President for his assent, which is yet to happen.
  • “The Chief Secretary was asked by the Supreme Court to implement the order within one month on March 20,” said a source.
  • The Election Commission has also been informed about the development since the model code of conduct is in force, added the source.
  • The concept of consequential seniority has been followed in the State since the late 1970s to give adequate representation to SC/STs in various cadres.

Comprehensive Farm loan wavier and legal form to back MSP

  • Major Opposition parties have united in provisional support of two Bills drafted by farmers’ organisations, demanding comprehensive farm loan waivers and proposing legal backing to enforce minimum support prices (MSP).
  • There was a need to examine the Bills more closely and hold further consultations with all parties.
  • He was speaking at a round table session organised by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Committee, which drafted the Bills in partnership with 193 farmers’ organisations.
  • Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar suggested that a committee be set up to go through the proposed Bills, clause by clause.
  • He said that if all non-NDA parties in the Rajya Sabha came together, they would have the numbers to pass the legislation and pressure the Lok Sabha to take up them up as well.
  • “There is no question of pleading. I demand a special session of Parliament where you discuss only this and nothing else,” said Trinamool Congress MP Dinesh Trivedi, pledging Mamata Banerjee’s support.
  • “This should not be called karza maafi [loan waiver], but karza mukti [loan free]. If the M.S. Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations had been implemented, there would not be any need for this [loan waiver] at all,” said Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of the CPI(M).
  • Strong support
  • The parties which expressed support include the Shiv Sena, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, YSR Congress Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Aam Aadmi Party, National Conference, Janata Dal(S), Biju Janata Dal, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha, Rashtriya Lok Dal and Swaraj India and former Janata Dal(U) leader Sharad Yadav.
  • The proposed Farmers’ Freedom from Indebtedness Bill, 2018 provides for a one-time settlement of all farmers’ loans, both from banks and private moneylenders.
  • It also gives farmers the right to access institutional credit and proposes that quasi-judicial distress and disaster relief commissions be set up at State and national levels to deal with regional or crop-specific distress situations.
  • The proposed Farmers’ Right to Guaranteed Remunerative Minimum Support Prices for Agricultural Commodities Bill, 2018, wants the MSP to guarantee a 50% profit margin over the comprehensive cost of production a legal right for every farmer, and bar the option of any price below MSP being offered in the market.

India and Pakistan to talk about Indus Water Treaty

  • India and Pakistan will go ahead with talks on the Indus Waters Treaty despite an upsurge in tensions over the LoC crossfire and allegations of harassment of diplomats in Delhi and Islamabad, External Affairs Ministry sources confirmed.
  • According to the treaty provisions, the 114th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) will take place in India on March 29 and 30 in New Delhi to hold technical deliberations on various issues, they said.
  • India’s Indus Water Commissioner P.K. Saxena, technical experts and a representative of the Ministry will meet a six-member delegation from Pakistan, led by Syed Muhammad Mehar Ali Shah.
  • The last meeting was held in Islamabad in March 2017, a significant move at the time as it came after the “surgical strikes” by India across the Line of Control, and the government’s announcement that it would reconsider its position on the 1960 treaty with Pakistan after terrorist attacks in Uri.
  • While the government kept its treaty commitments to meet, it has been exploring ways to utilise its share of the Indus waters more efficiently and to the maximum permissible.
  • Ahead of the PIC meeting, Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari announced that three dams would be built in Uttarakhand to further that effort.
  • “Water from our [share of] rivers was going into Pakistan. We are making detailed project reports to stop that from happening and water will be given to Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi and Haryana,” Mr. Gadkari said in Rohtak.

No Creamy layer in SC/ST

  • The government opposed the idea of a “creamy layer” within the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes category.
  • The government told a Supreme Court Bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that the principle of creamy layer could not be applied to the presidential order on quota for SC/ST groups.
  • The court was hearing a petition to exclude the affluent members, or the “creamy layer”, of these communities from accessing reservation benefits.
  • Additional Solicitor-General P.S. Narasimha said the government would not do anything to dilute benefits due to them.
  • The Bench asked the government to file a categorical affidavit. The petition filed by Samta Andolan Samiti, representing the poor and downtrodden strata of the SC/ST community in Rajasthan, contended that the rich among the SC/ST communities were “snatching away” quota benefits while the deserving and impoverished among them continue to “bite the dust.”
  • It is this lack of percolation of reservation benefits down to the poor and really backward among SC/ST communities that has led to social unrest, Naxalite movements and perennial poverty, the petition said.
  • This is the first time that a petition has been filed urging the Supreme Court to introduce the “creamy layer” concept to the SC/ST communities.
  • In 1992, a nine-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney case or the Mandal case, as it was popularly known, upheld caste-based reservation for OBCs as valid. The apex court had also directed that the creamy layer of OBCs (those earning over a specified income) should not avail reservation facilities.
  • The Mandal judgment however confined the exclusion of the creamy layer only to the OBCs and not to the SC/STs.

Collegium system of appointment of Judges need urgent measures: SC

  • Urgent measures are required to improve the collegium system of appointment of judges, including the setting up of an independent secretariat, the Supreme Court highlighted in a judgment.
  • The apex court said “corrective measures” needed to be taken against “post-appointment conduct or inadequate performance or failure to uphold righteous conduct” by sitting judges.
  • A Bench of Justices A.K. Goel and Rohinton F. Nariman said the improvements contemplated by the five-judge NJAC Bench, in December 2015, in the collegium system had not “seen the light of the day”.
  • The court ordered that the Centre should ensure that the new memorandum of procedure brought about the improvements recommended by the NJAC Bench.
  • The apex court highlighted how various High Courts remained without permanent Chief Justices.
  • The Law Ministry website shows that seven High Courts have been making do with Acting Chief Justices for months on end. Justice Goel, who authored the verdict, said Acting Chief Justices were meant only as a temporary measure before a permanent Chief Justice is appointed.
  • The judgment points out how High Court Chief Justices are appointed for a few days before they retire, serving no purpose to the cause of justice delivery.
  • The court stressed the need for a “full-time”and independent body of experts to help in the appointment process.
  • “A full-time body consistent with independence of judiciary appears to be immediate need for the system. Absence thereof contributes to denial of justice,” the judgment observed.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

More data control for users: Facebook

  • Facebook unveiled new privacy settings aiming to give its users more control over how their data is shared, following an outcry over hijacking of personal information at the giant social network.
  • The updates include easier access to Facebook’s user settings and tools to easily search for, download and delete personal data stored by Facebook.
  • Facebook said a new privacy shortcuts menu will allow users to quickly increase account security, manage who can see their information and activity on the site and control advertisements they see.
  • “We’ve heard loud and clear that privacy settings and other important tools are too hard to find and that we must do more to keep people informed,” chief privacy officer Erin Egan and deputy general counsel Ashlie Beringer said in a blog post.
  • “We’re taking additional steps in the coming weeks to put people more in control of their privacy.”
  • The new features follow fierce criticism after it was revealed that millions of Facebook users’ personal data was harvested by a British firm linked to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign — although Facebook said the changes have been “in the works for some time”.
  • Earlier this month, whistleblower Christopher Wylie revealed that political consulting company Cambridge Analytica obtained profiles on 50 million Facebook users via an academic researcher's personality prediction app.
  • The app was downloaded by 2,70,000 people, but also scooped up their friends' data without consent — as was possible under Facebook’s rules at the time.
  • Ms. Egan and Ms. Beringer also announced updates to Facebook's terms of service and data policy to improve transparency about how the site collects and uses data.
  • Facebook’s move comes as authorities around the globe investigate how Facebook handles and shares private data, and with its shares having tumbled more than 15%.
  • The crisis also threatens the Silicon Valley tech industry whose business model revolves around data collected on Internet users.
  • The U.S. Federal Trade Commission this week said it had launched a probe into whether the social network violated consumer protection laws.
  • Authorities in Britain have seized data from Cambridge Analytica in their investigation, and EU officials have warned of consequences for Facebook.

::ECONOMY::

Tightened rules on Corporate Governance by SEBI

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has tightened the corporate governance norms for listed companies by accepting most of the recommendations of the Kotak Committee while also strengthening the regulations for derivatives and algorithmic trading.
  • At a board meeting held, the capital markets regulator decided to reduce the maximum number of directorships to seven from 10 in a phased manner while expanding the eligibility criteria for directors.
  • The regulator has also enhanced the roles of the audit committee along with those of the nomination and remuneration committee and the risk management committee at companies.
  • Further, the new norms relating to the number of independent directors, appointment of at least one independent woman director and time limit for holding annual general meetings would be rolled out in a phased manner with the bigger firms being mandated in the initial phase.
  • Listed companies would also be required to make enhanced disclosures related to related party transactions and subsidiaries.
  • For equity derivatives, the regulator has decided to move towards physical settlement for all stock derivatives in a phased manner to “facilitate greater alignment of cash and derivative market.”
  • SEBI has also amended the eligibility criteria for stocks to be included in the derivatives segment since the last such amendment was done six years ago.
  • Meanwhile, a framework for ascertaining the exposure limits for investors based on their income tax returns has been approved to ensure that investors do not take undue risks and also miss-selling of products is curbed.
  • “For exposure beyond the computed exposure, the intermediary would be required to undertake rigorous due diligence and take appropriate documentation from the investor,” SEBI said in a statement.
  • SEBI also announced steps to strengthen the guidelines for algorithmic trading, including stock exchanges providing tick-by-tick data feed free-of-cost to trading members, tweaking the penalty framework to minimise orders that are way off the mark and enhancing certain disclosure requirements for stock exchanges. Exchanges have also been directed to offer shared co-location services that would reduce the cost for trading members.
  • For mutual funds (MFs), the regulator has reduced the cap for expenses charged for each scheme. The maximum limit has been reduced from 20 basis points of the daily net asset value of the schemes to 5 basis points, which would benefit the investors in the form of marginally higher net asset value (NAV) of the scheme.
  • Among other things, SEBI amended the enforcement framework for non-compliance of the listing regulations.
  • This would allow exchanges to freeze the shareholding of the promoter and promoter group for non-compliance.
  • SEBI also decided to initiate a public consultation process for a framework for listed companies that are in the midst of insolvency resolution process.

Fiscal Deficit touches 7.15 lakh crore

  • India’s fiscal deficit soared to Rs. 7.15 lakh crore at the end of February, exceeding the revised target of Rs. 5.94 lakh crore for the entire 2017-18 fiscal. As per data released by the Controller General of Accounts (CGA), fiscal deficit for April-February was 120% of the revised estimates on account of increased expenditure and subdued revenue receipts.
  • The monthly account till February-end revealed that the government had collected Rs. 12.83 lakh crore revenue, which is 79.09% of revised estimates.
  • Of this, more than Rs. 10.35 lakh crore is collected from taxes, while more than Rs. 1.42 lakh crore and Rs. 1.05 lakh crore accrued on account of non-tax revenue and non-debt capital receipts, respectively.
  • Non-debt capital receipts consist of recovery of loans of Rs. 13,301 crore. Besides, Rs. 92,493 crore has been mopped up through PSU disinvestment till February-end.
  • In the revised estimates of 2017-18, the government had raised the disinvestment target to Rs. 1 lakh crore.
  • In 11 months till February, more than Rs. 5.29 lakh crore has been transferred to state governments as devolution of share of taxes by the Centre, which is Rs. 66,039 crore higher than the corresponding period of last year 2016-17.

Will make AI available to all: Microsoft

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer going to remain the secret sauce of giant tech companies. Microsoft said that it was betting big on ‘democratising’ artificial intelligence and making it ‘available to all’ to help improve lives and transform businesses.
  • Detecting deadly diseases, reducing accident risks, predicting consumer behaviour and helping farmers increase crop yields were some of the AI-based innovations that the world’s largest software maker showcased along with its partners at an event here.
  • The firm said it was helping 650 India-based partners use the Microsoft cognitive services, Internet of Things (IoT), AI and machine learning platforms to build solutions for India.
  • Over the last year, Microsoft and its partners have deployed AI solutions in areas such as healthcare, education, agriculture, retail, e-commerce, manufacturing and financial services.

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