Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 30 December 2017

SSC CGL Current Affairs

Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 30 December 2017


Upper house will send triple talaq bill to select committee

  • The House of Elders is likely to send the legislation making instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat a criminal offence, with a jail term of up to three years to a select committee.
  • Cross-party consultations are likely to be held on the issue before the Bill comes to the Rajya Sabha on January 2. Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge had pushed for the Bill being sent to a standing committee.
  • In the Lok Sabha Congress MPs Sushmita Dev and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had moved amendments seeking an independent corpus for affected women and to remove the “criminality” clause in the legislation.
  • “We are not against the Triple Talaq Bill, but we are against the draft presented by the government. We want a legislation that will be a bulwark for Muslim women. At the same time sending Muslim men to jail will not necessarily help the cause,” a Congress MP said.
  • The AIADMK, the BJD, the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Left parties are clear that the legislation should be sent to a select committee.

First Draft of National register of citizens

  • A couple of days before the “part draft” of the National Register of Citizens is published in Assam, that if someone’s name was not on the list, it did not imply that he or she was not an Indian citizen.
  • On Supreme Court directions, the Registrar-General of India will publish the list on December 31 to distinguish Indian citizens living in Assam from those who illegally entered the State from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971.
  • The official said the initial list would contain the names of nearly 2 crore of the 3.28 crore who applied for inclusion in the registry from 2013.

Insolvency and Bankruptcy code amended by lok sabha

  • The Lok Sabha amended the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code law to prevent wilful defaulters and existing promoters from taking part in insolvency proceedings of stressed assets of companies unless they make their bad loans operational by paying up interests.
  • The Bill will replace an ordinance that was brought in November to prevent unscrupulous promoters from misusing the provisions of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).
  • Replying to the debate, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government can’t allow loan defaulters to “merrily walk back” and take part in bidding proceedings.
  • A defaulter, however, can become “eligible to submit a resolution plan” if they clear all dues with interest and other charges relating to their NPA accounts.
  • The Finance Minister said the NPAs were a legacy issue and during the UPA regime, banks resorted to “window dressing and ever-greening of loans”.While moving the Bill, Mr. Jaitley had said the IBC law had been a learning process for the government.
  • Changes have had to be made to ensure that ineligible people do not find loopholes to walk back into the companies against which insolvency proceedings were initiated, he said.
  • Commenting on the changes to the IBC, tax experts said that while the intention of the government was good, all bad loans might not be the result of wilful default, diversion or misappropriation of funds.

Darkening of siang river issue

  • The Union government has conveyed its views and concerns to the Chinese authorities, including at the highest levels of the government, on the unusual darkening of the Siang river in Arunachal Pradesh. The change in colour came to light in November, and China holds an earthquake in Tibet responsible for it.
  • Official reports of the colour of water in the Siang changing emerged from the Arunachal Pradesh office of the Central Water Commission (CWC) on November 10, attributing it to excess silt.
  • What caused a deluge in silt however was not specified, but the water at Tuting was still potable, the CWC said.
  • However another report from the Arunachal Pradesh Water Supply Department showed that iron levels were beyond permissible limits and samples from the river beyond Pasighat and Jonai showed higher aluminium and iron levels.
  • A public outcry prompted leaders, including Chief Minister, Pema Khandu, to write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to launch a thorough investigation.
  • “The reason for change in water of River Siang may possibly be because of any landslide/earthquake/any other activity in upstream region of Tuting site across the international border with China for which information is not available. Exact reason is not known as yet,” Mr. Meghwal told the House.
  • The Siang enters India from Tibet, where it flows for about 1,500 km as the Tsangpo and becomes the Brahmaputra after it flows into Assam.
  • Reports from Arunachal Pradesh and Assam blamed tunnel construction by China in Tibet. India nevertheless broached the issue with Wang Yi, Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China, during his visit to India on December 11, 2017.

31 satellites including cartosat series to be launched by ISRO

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Friday said it would launch 31 satellites, including India’s Cartosat-2 series earth observation space craft, in a single mission on January 10.
  • The mission will be the first ‘Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle’ (PSLV) mission after the unsuccessful launch of the navigation satellite IRNSS-1H in August this year.
  • The mission’s main payload would be India’s Cartosat-2 series earth observation satellite. The high-profile Mission Readiness Review committee and Launch Authorisation Board is scheduled to meet soon to take the final call.
  • PSLV-C40 will be used for the launch from the spaceport in Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota, about 100 kilometres from Chennai.
  • The mission would be a combination of 28 nano satellites from abroad, including Finland and the U.S., one micro and one nano satellite from India along with one Cartosat satellite, the official said.
  • On August 31, India’s mission to launch its backup navigation satellite IRNSS-1H on board PSLV-C39 was unsuccessful after a technical snag on the final leg.
  • In February this year, PSLV-C37 launched the first Cartosat-2 series satellite along with 103 co-passenger satellites in a single flight.

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::Business and Economy::

Much required equity infused into PSBs

  • The Centre has released the much-required equity capital to six stressed public sector banks (PSBs) as some of these lenders were on the verge of breaching minimum capital norms on December 31, 2017.
  • The PSBs are Bank of India (Rs. 2,257 crore), Central Bank of India (Rs. 323 crore), Dena Bank (Rs. 243 crore), IDBI Bank (Rs. 2,729 crore), Bank of Maharashtra (Rs. 650 crore) and UCO Bank (Rs. 1,375 crore).
  • These lenders would be asked to improve on parameters such as bad loans and recovery to which effect a communication would be sent shortly.
  • According to bankers, some of these lenders could have breached the minimum regulatory capital requirement, as mandated by the RBI, at the end of the third quarter.
  • Banks are mandated to maintain minimum 9% capital adequacy ratio (CAR) plus a capital conservation buffer of 2.5%. Within the CAR, minimum common equity tier-I (CET 1) capital ratio is prescribed at 5.5%.
  • The Kolkata-based UCO Bank has informed stock exchanges that the Centre, in its letter dated December 28, ‘communicated its sanction for release of Rs. 1,375 crore towards preferential allotment of equity shares.’ IDBI Bank has also informed the exchanges about the capital infusion.
  • According to latest RBI data, capital adequacy ratio of PSBs as on September 30 was 12.2% while the CET 1 ratio was 4.7%. UCO Bank, for example, had a CET 1 of 6.64% and gross non-performing asset ratio of 19.74% as on 30 September.
  • All these banks are saddled with huge non-performing assets and are under the prompt corrective action (PCA) framework of the Reserve Bank of India — which means certain operations of these banks have been curtailed by the regulator.
  • There were rumours circulated on social media, after PCA was imposed on banks, that due to poor financial health, some of them could be closed down. Both, the RBI and the Centre, strongly denied these claims.

Country set to receive highest ever FDI inflow

  • With government data showing that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) worth $33.75 billion has already flowed into India in the first half of this fiscal, the country is poised to see FDI inflows in 2017-18 surpassing even the record $60 billion it received in the last financial year.
  • However, researchers have found ‘severe’ delays as well as ‘serious’ omissions and commissions in FDI reporting, and that these “problems were quite pronounced in the record-breaking year of 2016-17.”
  • Meanwhile, consultants said the government would need to consider the enormous foreign investor interest in sectors such as Multi-Brand Retail Trade (MBRT), insurance and pension and look at ways to further open up these sectors.
  • It also needs to tweak policies in segments such as pharmaceuticals, spend more money on improving infrastructure as well as addressing red-tape if it wanted India to attract even more FDI in the coming years.
  • Incidentally, according to CARE Ratings, “India fetched (a) mere 2% of the total world FDI inflows in 2016.” It said India’s share was “very low compared with the other peers”, adding that “Hong Kong had a share of 5%, ...while Brazil witnessed inflows of 4% of the world’s net FDI inflows.”
  • It said, “At another level, there is not much of a correspondence between the FDI policy changes, selection of thrust sectors under Make in India and the reported inflows,” adding that “incidentally, the problems were quite pronounced in the record-breaking year of 2016-17.”
  • The report further said, “besides [the government’s] ‘Ease of Doing Business’ [initiatives], there should be emphasis on ‘Ease of Doing Policy Relevant Analysis’ also.”
  • However, the NDA government made a comparison of FDI from the time it took over till now (2014-17) as against 2011-14 (during the UPA regime), and recently informed Parliament that FDI grew in aviation and mining (both, six times), automobile and auto-components (1.7 times), gems and jewellery (3.5 times).
  • In the next fiscal, significant levels of investments are expected from countries including the U.S., South Korea, Taiwan, Italy, Germany and the U.K. in sectors including food processing, railways, defence, infrastructure, automobiles and ‘Electronic System Design and Manufacturing’.
  • India could attract more FDI by further opening up sectors including insurance, pension, MBRT (retail trade in products manufactured in India) and pharma, besides addressing red tape and logistical problems.

India’s fiscal deficit at the end of November breached the target

  • India’s fiscal deficit at the end of November breached the target and touched 112% of the budget estimate for 2017-18 mainly due to lower GST collections and higher expenditure.
  • In absolute terms, the fiscal deficit — the difference between expenditure and revenue — was Rs. 6.12 lakh crore during April-November 2017-18, according to the data by the Controller General of Accounts (CGA).
  • During the same period a year earlier, the deficit stood at 85.8% of that year’s target. For 2017-18, the government aims to bring down the fiscal deficit to 3.2% of GDP. Last fiscal, it had met the target of 3.5% of GDP.
  • The CGA data showed that the government’s revenue receipts were at Rs. 8.04 lakh crore in the eight months to November, which works out to 53.1% of the budget estimate (BE) of Rs. 15.15 lakh crore for 2017-18.
  • The receipts, comprising taxes and other items, were at 57.8% of the target in the year-earlier period.
  • The Goods and Services Tax (GST) collections slipped to their lowest in November as rates were cut on dozens of goods to make the new national sales tax regime more acceptable. Total GST collections in November slipped to Rs. 80,808 crore, from over Rs. 83,000 crore in October.

Government warns against crypto currencies

  • The government has joined the Reserve Bank of India in cautioning potential customers about investing in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, likening them to ponzi schemes where investors risk losing their money.
  • “There has been a phenomenal increase in recent times in the price of virtual ‘currencies’ (VCs) including Bitcoin, in India and globally,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.
  • “VCs don’t have any intrinsic value and are not backed by any kind of assets. The price of bitcoin and other VCs therefore is entirely a matter of mere speculation resulting in spurt and volatility in their prices.
  • There is a real and heightened risk of investment bubble of the type seen in Ponzi schemes which can result in sudden and prolonged crash exposing investors, especially retail consumers losing their hard-earned money,” the statement added.
  • “Consumers need to be alert and extremely cautious as to avoid getting trapped in such Ponzi schemes.”
  • Private sector cyrptocurrency players agree with the Finance Ministry’s call for caution, adding that the bulk of the cryptocurrencies in the market are not reliable.

::Science and Tech::

Astronauts at ISS to get new years eve 16 times

  • As the astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) orbit the earth once every 90 minutes, they will experience New Year’s eve 16 times, NASA has pointed out.That is 16 sunrises and sunsets while circling 402.3 km above the earth.
  • The six astronauts will go into the last weekend of 2017 with light duties and family conferences before taking the New Year’s Day off.
  • The current crew on the orbital laboratory comprises three U.S. astronauts, two Russian cosmonauts and a Japanese astronaut.
  • Ahead of the New Year, the astronauts are conducting life science studies to help mission doctors keep astronauts healthier and stronger while living in outer space.
  • Doctors measure the astronauts’ breathing and other parameters during exercise to ensure they have the strength to perform strenuous activities such as space walks and even emergency procedures.
  • Flight Engineer Scott Tingle of NASA was harvesting plants for the Advanced Plants Experiment-05 (APEX) and stowing the botany samples in a science freezer for further analysis, a NASA blog post said.
  • Scientists are exploring how plants respond to microgravity and observing molecular and genetic changes.

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