Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 30 August 2022
India highlights threats posed by terror groups from Afghanistan at UNSC
India highlighted the threat to regional peace posed by terror groups operating from Afghanistan, including Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Islamic State, and called for stronger action by the Taliban set-up to deliver on counter-terrorism commitments.
There has been a “significant increase” in the presence of the Islamic State-Khorasan Province in Afghanistan and its capacity to carry out attacks, and linkages between groups listed by the UN Security Council such as LeT and JeM “pose a direct threat to the peace and stability of the region”, India’s envoy to the UN, RuchiraKamboj, told a security council meeting on Afghanistan on Monday.
In a reference to the Taliban set-up in Kabul, Kamboj said the recent findings of the 1988 Sanctions Committee’s sanctions monitoring team indicate “that the current authorities need to take much stronger action to fulfill their anti-terrorism commitments”.
She added that there has been a “significant increase in the presence of ISIL-K in the country and their capacity to carry out attacks”. The ISIL-K, “with its base reportedly in Afghanistan, continues to issue threats of terrorist attacks on other countries”.
Both Islamic State-Khorasan Province and al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent have issued statements in recent months threatening attacks in India over the issue of controversial remarks against Prophet Mohammed by two former BJP spokespersons.
Kamboj also said a series of attacks on religious places of minority communities, including the recent attack on a Sikh gurdwara in Kabul on June 18 followed by another bomb blast near the same shrine on July 27, is “hugely alarming”.
“We need to see concrete progress in ensuring that such proscribed terrorists, entities, or their aliases do not get any support, tacit or direct, either from Afghan soil or from the terror sanctuaries based in the region,” she said.
IMF board releases over $1.1 billion in Pakistan bailout funds
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) board approved the seventh and eighth reviews of Pakistan's bailout programme, allowing for a release of over $1.1 billion to the cash-strapped economy, the fund and the government said.
The IMF agreed to extend the programme by a year and increase the total funding by 720 million special drawing rights, or about $940 million as per the current exchange.
The funds will be a lifeline to the South Asian country suffering from devastating floods which have inflicted damage of at least $10 billion according to the country's planning minister.
In a statement, IMF Deputy Managing Director Antoinette Sayeh said adhering to scheduled increases in fuel levies and energy tariffs is "essential" as Pakistan's economy "has been buffeted by adverse external conditions." These include "spillovers from the war in Ukraine, and domestic challenges, including from accommodative policies that resulted in uneven and unbalanced growth," he noted.
The fund announced the approval and the amount to be disbursed hours after Finance Minister Miftah Ismail had broken the news via Twitter.
The Extended Fund Facility (EFF) programme was initially for 36 months and worth $6 billion at the time of its approval in 2019. It had stalled since earlier this year as Islamabad struggled to meet targets set by the lender.
The IMF board also approved Pakistan's request for waivers related to the country's failure to meet some of the programme's criteria.
Ismail also said government efforts to get the programme back on track via painful corrective economic measures had saved Pakistan from default.
RBI support pulls rupee up from fresh lows, helps currency recoup losses
After weakening to a new low against the US dollar on Monday, the rupee recouped most losses as market interventions by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in the form of dollar sales reined in depreciation in the domestic currency, dealers said.
The rupee touched a fresh low of 80.13 per dollar in early trade as comments by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reinforcing the central bank’s commitment to rate hikes strengthened the greenback globally.
But, with the RBI stepping in to protect the rupee, the domestic currency ended the day at 79.97 per dollar. The rupee had closed at 79.87 per dollar on Friday. The RBI was said to have been aggressively selling dollars around the 80.05-80.10 level, dealers said.
In 2022, so far, the local unit has depreciated 7 per cent versus the greenback.
Speaking at the Jackson Hole Economic Symposium on Friday, Powell said that restoring price stability would likely require maintaining a restrictive policy stance for some time. The historical record cautions strongly against prematurely loosening policy.
Higher US interest rates lead to a rise in the country’s bond yields and a stronger dollar; they also reduce global investors’ appetite for assets in emerging markets, such as India.
With the US dollar index heading near the 109.50 mark on Monday – the index was at 108.20 when the Indian markets closed on Friday – the rupee weakened past the lifetime low of 80.06 per dollar that was touched on July 19.
“USD/INR spot closed 10 paise higher due to sharp rise in the US Dollar index, after the Jackson Hole meeting. But the extent of gains was capped due to aggressive intervention from the RBI and a pullback in the US Dollar index due to hawkish statements from the European Central Bank. Over the near term, we expect USDINR to move within a range of 79.60- 80.40 on spot,” said Anindya Banerjee, V-P, currency derivatives & interest rate derivatives at Kotak Securities said.
::Science and tech::
Artemis 1 mission: Engine leakage among snags that delayed launch, says NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Artemis 1 moon mission was postponed after the crew could not get the rocket’s engines to the proper temperature range required to start the engines at lift-off. NASA has informed that the mission management team will announce the further course of action on Tuesday 6 pm (i.e.,3:30 am Wednesday as per Indian time).
The countdown for the first attempt of the NASA Artemis 1 mission was put on hold at T-40 mins and later called off after the crew ‘ran off time’ in the two-hour launch window available on Monday. The mission, hailed as the first step in the next era of human exploration on the moon, was scheduled to take off at 6:03 pm on 29th August.
“The launch director called a scrub because of an engine bleed that couldn’t be stopped,” NASA informed the reason behind postponing the launch.
The four RS-25 engines of Artemis Mission’s Space Launch System must be thermally conditioned before super cold fuel starts flowing through them for lift-off.
To condition them to the required temperature, the Launch controllers intensify the pressure on the core stage liquid hydrogen tank to route (bleed) a portion of the almost minus 423 F liquid hydrogen to the engines.
Apart from this issue, there were also other flaws detected during the launch. Leakage was found at the quick disconnect on the 8-inch line utilised to supply and drain core stage liquid hydrogen. There was also an outflow of hydrogen from a valve run to pour out the propellant from the core stage intertank, NASA stated.
Serena Williams puts off retirement with US Open first round win
Serena Williams signalled she is not quite ready for retirement advancing to the second round of the U.S. Open on Monday with a scrappy 6-3 6-3 win over Danka Kovinic.
The victory over the 80th ranked Kovinic, just her second this year, will be a confidence boost for Williams but the path to a record equalling 24th Grand Slam now gets treacherous.
Waiting in the wings is Estonian second seed AnettKontaveit, who breezed past JaquelineCristian 6-3 6-0.
It was far from a vintage performance from the 40-year-old American but it mattered not to a jam-packed Arthur Ashe Stadium as Williams' fighting spirit remained razor sharp even if her serve and ground strokes were not.
Even with Williams far from her best the odds always appeared stacked against the 27-year-old from Montenegro.
Playing in her 21st U.S. Open, Williams has never lost in the first round and her victory over Kovinic was her 106th at Flushing Meadows.