Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 8 January 2018
Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 8 January 2018
INS Arihant more dependable platform for second strike
INS Arihant , India’s only operational ship submersible ballistic
nuclear (SSBN) asset, is its most dependable platform for a second-strike,
given the country “no first use” on nuclear weapons. The other options,
land-based and air-launched, are easier to detect.
The submarine is manned by a staff of 100 with extensive training from
the School for Advanced Underwater Warfare in Visakhapatnam and further
hands-on training on INS Chakra , a Nerpa-class nuclear ship.
Arihant has been immobilised even as the second ballistic missile
submarine,Arighat , was launched on November 19 for sea trials. The launch
was kept a low-profile event attended by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
and senior Navy officers.
INS Arihant and other nuclear launch platforms — land-based missiles and
designated aircraft — are operationally handled by the Strategic Forces
Command, and report to the Nuclear Command Authority chaired by the Prime
However, the over 100 nuclear warheads are not mated with missiles or
bombs and remain in civilian custody of the Atomic Energy Department and the
Defence Research and Development Organisation.
India has an ambitious plan to build a SSBN fleet, comprising five
Naval sources say the plan hinges on Arihant ’s success. It has taken 30
years to build it, at a high cost.
“It was initially estimated to cost about Rs. 3000 crore for three boats
— now the cost of Arihant itself seems to have gone over Rs. 14,000 crore,”
a former high-ranking naval officer said.
The Eastern Naval Command plans to operate its nuclear sub fleet from an
independent Naval Operational Alternative Base (NOAB) being constructed on
5,000 acres of land at Rambilli, for direct access to the sea. The base is
located about 50 km from Visakhapatnam, and jetties are under construction.
India’s role in studying gravitational waves increased
India’s role in studying gravitational waves — touted as one of the most
important discoveries of the recent past — will increase once the proposed
gravitational wave observatory is set up in the country, said David Reitze,
executive director of LIGO.
The observatory is expected to start functioning by 2025.“The more
detectors we have and depending on where they are, the more accurately we
are able to point in the direction in the sky. India having a detector
improves that dramatically and that’s going to be a big mission,” said Mr.
Gravitational waves are ‘ripples’ in the fabric of space-time, caused by
some of the most violent and energetic processes in the universe such as
merger of black holes or neutron stars. Its discovery saw three scientists
get the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2017
One way was to make the detector at least 40% more effective, allowing
them to be more sensitive.
At present, the LIGO detectors are sensitive to about 70 to 80
megaparsec (280 million to 300 million light years) for binary neutron stars
and for binary black holes, the sensitivity is about 2 gigaparsec
(approximately 3 billion light years)
With improved sensitivity, these detectors will be able to fetch
information from farther distances in space.
Army approved a revised promotion policy
Faced with long delays in the promotion of officers of the ranks of
Major-General and Lieutenant-General, the Army has approved a revised
While deciding to fill only 75% of the annual vacancies for the next
four years to bring down the average age of the officers, the new policy
will allow Lieutenant-Generals with just 18 months of residual service to be
considered for posting as commanders instead of the existing 24 months.
“The new promotion policy approved in the last week of December was
promulgated based on the recommendations of an expert committee and the
Army’s own consultations which have been approved by the Defence Ministry.
The policy aims to reduce the ages of senior commanders and enhance
transparency and stability in the higher ranks and appointments.
Over the past several years, many crucial staff positions have been
vacant as eligible officers had not completed their command tenures because
of the increased officer pool at the middle level and delays in holding
promotion boards. This had increased the overall age of the officers
compared with their counterparts in the Navy and the Air Force.
To address the issue, the Defence Ministry constituted a committee of
two retired officers mandated to interact with all stakeholders and give
their recommendations on revising the promotion policy.
The key measures in the revised policy include a clearly defined road
map of conducting selection boards in a shorter timeframe for a brief period
and calculation of vacancies based on actual exits in a year.
To take care of the immediate situation, a cap of 75% of the annual
vacancies will be implemented for a brief period of four years to achieve a
reduction of average age bracket by one year.
Other features include consideration of all affected officers on a
common yardstick and promotion of different streams on common seniority. The
measure reducing the qualifying residual service for commanders from 24
months to 18 months will “provide a larger pool of competent officers”.
Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme indicated food poisoning one of
the major outbreaks
Recent data put out by the Union Health Ministry’s Integrated Disease
Surveillance Programme (IDSP) has indicated that food poisoning is one of
the commonest outbreaks reported in 2017. This is apart from acute
diarrhoeal disease (ADD).
According to the data, 312 of the 1,649 outbreaks reported till the
third week of December 2017 were due to ADD and 242 were due to food
The IDSP has interpreted that the incidence of ADD and food poisoning is
high in places where food is cooked in bulk, such as canteens, hostels and
Director of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the nodal
agency under the Union Health Ministry that documents outbreaks and brings
out data under its disease surveillance programme, told that the trend had
been the same over many years.
“It is not just this year. Acute diarrhoeal disease and food poisoning
have been common outbreaks since 2008. This is followed by chickenpox and
measles,” Dr. Dhariwal said.
Food poisoning, also called food-borne illness, is caused by eating
contaminated food. Infectious organisms including bacteria, viruses and
parasites or their toxins are the most common causes.
Pointing out that the increase in the number of cases was due to better
and increased reporting of cases, he said the good thing was that the
overall mortality was not alarming.
Govt urges NRI’s to come back to India in Asean-India summit
Setting the tone for the government’s outreach to the Indian diaspora,
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday urged people of Indian
origin to take advantage of India’s projects for connectivity to Southeast
Speaking in Hindi at the ASEAN-India Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in
Singapore, she said her Ministry prioritised the welfare of Indian citizens
living abroad, and urged them to return home to take advantage of the
Referring to the challenges such as piracy in the high seas and the
armed conflicts that Indians living abroad often encountered, she said her
Ministry was committed to helping the crisis-struck Indians at a “supersonic
Ms. Swaraj said Southeast Asia remained an inseparable part of the plan
to convert the 21st century into the Asian century.
Her comments came days before India hosts the heads of states of the
Southeast Asian countries in Delhi on January 25 for the ASEAN-India
Commemorative Summit, a high-profile display of its “Act East policy”.
Ms. Swaraj, who was in Indonesia on January 5 and 6, had announced that
President Joko Widodo would be one of the guests of the summit and the
Republic Day parade.
The push for ASEAN ties will be on display on January 9 when India hosts
the first global meeting of parliamentarians of Indian origin.
::Business and Economy::
FDRI needs to increase the confidence in investors
The banking system of any country is built on an edifice of trust that
depositors have in their banks. The confidence that money is safe, keeps
depositors away from withdrawing their funds unless they really need it.
Meanwhile, it allows banks to lend out the money to borrowers which
generates interest income for the depositor, profit for the bank and larger
However, the ‘bail-in’ clause in the government’s Financial Resolution
and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill has created confusion. Section 52 of the
Bill allows the proposed Resolution Corporation to cancel the liability owed
by a failed bank.
Since the main liability of a bank is the ordinary depositor’s money, it
naturally causes concern whether depositors stand to lose their money beyond
what is insured in the event of a bank failure. Unless nipped in the bud, a
panic reaction could destabilise the banking system.
The new provision of ‘bail-in’ is welcome. However, when the banking
system is struggling with the larger issue of non-performing assets, it is
better to concentrate on recovery and also encourage bankers grant fresh
loans for that the economy grows at faster pace.
In India, up to Rs. 1 lakh of a depositor’s money is protected by
insurance provided by the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation
(DICGC), a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of India.
However, this insurance limit has not been changed since 1993 even while
income and deposit levels have grown substantially.
Many countries revised their deposit insurance limits after the global
financial crisis of 2008 but India did not do so. Deposits up to $250,000
are protected by insurance in the U.S. while the figure is $1,15,000 in the
U.K. But the accurate comparison should take into account the average income
in a country.
Deposit insurance limit is 3-4 times the average income levels in the
U.K. and the U.S. In the case of emerging countries like Brazil and China,
the insurance limit is 9 times the per capita income. Compare that with
India where the insurance limit is actually a little less than its per
Government should increase the deposit insurance limit under the Bill,
considering that at about $1,600, it is at a much lower level than some of
the other developing or larger economies.
Further, there should be provision for a periodic review to raise the
quantum of deposits covered by insurance.
There are two problems with this clarification. First, the implicit
guarantee cannot be emphasised beyond a point lest it creates a moral hazard
in the form of risky behaviour by banks and lazy monitoring of banks by
Second, what about private banks who hold 25% share of total deposits in
the country? Are their customers not deserving of the same protection from
Taxation issues led to problems for coffee
Under the Constitution, agricultural income can be taxed by the State
and not by the Centre.
However, in the case of tea, the Centre contended that there was a
substantial manufacturing process involved in the production of tea; hence,
income from tea could not be classified as fully agricultural income and
that a part of the income had to be taxed as central income.
This was done under Sec 8 of the I-T Act, which stated that due to the
manufacturing activity involved, 40% of the income would be taxed by the
In 2002, the Centre then followed the same logic and introduced Sec 7 &
7B for rubber and coffee respectively. It decided to partially tax the
agricultural income from both commodities, claiming there was manufacturing
Where coffee is cured or hulled before being sold, manufacturing
activity was involved and hence 25% of the income was to be taxed by the
Curing is a process by which raw coffee is converted to green beans
ready for roasting. Substantial machinery and effort is involved but the
actual cost of curing works out to about Rs. 2 per kg for a product worth
about Rs. 200 per kg, or 1%. The Centre thus claimed the right to tax 25% of
the agricultural income from coffee.
Once this legislation was enacted planters, started selling uncured
coffee instead of cured coffee. The coffees were sold in raw coffee form
which is a ‘bulk’ coffee. Soon, a vibrant, active, regular and credible
market for raw coffee developed.
Today, the farm gate prices are quoted mostly for raw coffee. When raw
coffee is traded, the criteria looked at is moisture content, appearance and
outturns, not so much the cup taste. Overnight, the charm of producing a
fine cup disappeared
Good bulks at the least cost of production became the norm. The coffee
was then bought by curers, exporters and domestic roasters, who cured,
graded and bulked the coffee according to customer requirements. In the
process, the origin of the coffee got lost.
The production of fine coffees takes a lot of effort; while the extra
input and efforts are certain, the rewards are uncertain. There is a
considerable marketing effort involved and the price realisations are
In such a scenario, most growers will be reluctant to pursue fine
coffees when they know that they fall within the jurisdiction of an income
Though today there is no agricultural income tax, central income tax can
also be avoided. As a result, one finds that most of the fine coffee awards
are won by corporates, who have the administrative capacity to deal with the
Credit growth, after a long gap, grew in double digits to 10.65%
Credit growth, after a long gap, grew in double digits to 10.65% to Rs.
80,96,727 crore in the fortnight ended December 22, 2017 due to the base
effect, according to RBI data.
Advances stood at Rs. 73,17,391 crore in the fortnight ended December
23, 2016. “The credit growth is mainly because of the base effect,” State
Bank of India’s managing director (retail and digital banking) P.K. Gupta
“Due to demonetisation last year, the base figures are getting revised
and so, that is where you are seeing the growth,” Mr. Gupta added.