This Daily Current Affair Capsule aims to be a time-saving tool for going through relevant news from national dailies and government releases on PIB. Aspirants for UPSC IAS, CDS, SSC CGL, NDA, etc. will find it highly useful to cover for revision and awareness purposes.

 

National Important Current Affairs – 6 January 2018

■ The Rajya Sabha was today adjourned sine die with chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu urging members to seriously introspect on their conduct in the House which lost almost 34 hours due to frequent disruptions. The House functioned a total of 41 hours.

The winter session of Parliament concluded without passing the triple talaq bill in Rajya Sabha. The triple talaq bill, which criminalizes the practice of instant divorce among Muslims, was tabled in the Rajya Sabha, where the opposition parties, which have numbers in their favour in the upper house, wanted the proposed legislation to be referred to the Select Committee, but the ruling government has rejected the demand.

The Winter Session, 2017 of Parliament saw the productivity of Lok Sabha at 91.58% and that of Rajya Sabha at 56.29%.

 

■ This year’s Union budget and the last one in this tenure of the Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government will be presented on 1 February. The budget session will begin from 29 January.

This budget comes at a time when, structural policy reforms such as demonetization and the rollout of the goods and services tax have slowed the economy and squeezed revenue receipts—resulting in rising fiscal pressures. The Finance Minister will, therefore, have to strike a delicate balance between allocating fresh resources to alleviate rural distress and incentivising an investment revival while keeping an eye on the electoral calendar at the same time.

 

■ Political scientist Gopal Guru has been appointed as the Editor of the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) by the Sameeksha Trust for a period of five years. Professor Guru currently teaches Political Science at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi.

 

■ The 26th edition of the annual World Book fair will be held in New Delhi from 6th January, under the theme: ‘Environment and Climate Change’. This year’s book fair will host the European Union as the Guest of Honour Country. It is being organised by National Book Trust, in association with ITPO.

 

■ The Supreme Court has referred plea on the validity of the adultery law which only criminalises a man, to a constitution bench. Chief Justice, Dipak Misra had observed that, though the offence of adultery is committed by both the man and the woman… Only one party is held liable for the criminal offence”.

The court is hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the constitutional validity of the legal provisions governing adultery in India, in so far as it is discriminatory against men. It was also sought that in light of the SC judgment on right to privacy, Section 497 must be looked at from a fresh perspective.

  • Presently, Adultery is punishable by imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. The woman, or wife, is exempted from the purview of this section.
  • Law says: “Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, 1960 deals with the offence of adultery and imposes culpability on the person who has sexual intercourse with a woman who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man (husband)”.
  • The PIL has asserted that Section 497 was violative of Article 14 (equality before law), 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, caste, sex) and 21 (right to life) of the Constitution of India as it is heavily gendered biased. Criminal law is supposed to be neutral.

 

■ According to the latest edition of the All India Higher Education Survey (AIHES) launched by Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Prakash Javadekar, the gross enrolment ratio (GER) has improved to 25.2 . This means around 25 of every 100 eligible students are pursuing higher education. The GER was 24.3 in 2014-15 and 19.4 in 2010-11. This is positive development amid concerns about employment opportunities not growing in tune with demand.

  • Although India aims to attain a GER of 30% by 2020, it’s still much behind countries like China, which, currently, boasts an enrolment ratio of 43.39%. USA’s GER is 85.8% and Pakistan’s is 9.93%.
  • The data also shows that gender parity in higher education is improving. In 2016-17, for every 100 male students, there were 94 female students. This is an improvement from 2014-15, when there were 92 female students for every 100 male students.

About Gross Enrollment Ratio:

GER is a statistical measure for determining the number of students enrolled in undergraduate, postgraduate and research level studies within the country and is expressed as a percentage of the population.

Challenges in Higher education sector: Other than the employment concern, the burgeoning student population and decreasing number of teachers point to a problem of understaffing in higher education. The data showed that in 2016-17, there were 1.37 million teachers, as against 1.52 million in 2015-16.

 

■ The Delhi high court has paved the way for recruitment of women in the Territorial Army (TA), saying any provision that bars them is ultra vires fundamental rights provided under the Constitution.

The court said the words “any person” in section 6 of the TA Act, shall include both men and women.  The court’s ruling came on a PIL alleging “institutionalised discrimination” against women for not being recruited in the TA.

About Territorial Army:

It is an organisation of volunteers who get military training in order to be mobilised for the country’s defence in case of an emergency. The Territorial Army is the second line of defence after the regular Army.

 

International Current Affairs Capsule – 6 January 2018

■ The US has placed Pakistan on a ‘Special Watch List’ for “severe violations” of religious freedom, making it the only country to be put on the newly-formed list. The Special Watch List is for countries that engage in or tolerate severe violations of religious freedom but may not rise to the level of the ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ (CPC).

Pakistan was placed in this list because the country harasses its religious minorities, has state-sanctioned discrimination against groups such as the Ahmadis and tolerates extra-judicial violence in the name of opposing blasphemy.

 

North Korea has accepted South Korea’s proposal to hold official talks to discuss inter-Korean relations and its possible participation in the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month. These will be the first high-level talks between the two after a communication gap of more than two years.

■ The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is launching two new missions to explore the starting point of space, nearly 100 km above Earth’s surface.  These missions GOLD (Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk) and ICON (Ionospheric Connection Explorer) would make complementary observations from different points.

 

Economics Today’s Current Affair Capsule – 6 January 2018

■ Apple Inc. has said all Mac computers and iOS devices, like iPhones and iPads, are affected by chip security flaws unearthed this week, but the company stressed there are no known exploits impacting users.

Note that: Intel Corp., the microprocessor maker, confirmed a report stating that its semiconductors contain a vulnerability based around a chip-processing technique called speculative execution. Intel said its chips, which power Macs and devices from other manufacturers spanning over last 10 years, contain the flaw. Google and other security researchers had disclosed two major chip flaws, one called Meltdown affecting only Intel Corp chips and one called Spectre affecting nearly all computer chips made in the last decade.

 

■ The Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture with the Indian airlines, chaired by Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien, has raised issues ranging from the behaviour of airline staff and addressing passenger complaints to service of on-board food and ticket cancellation charges.

According to the panel’s report tabled in the Parliament, there is a need for adequate technology-driven infrastructure, considering airport infrastructure had a major role in extending facilities and amenities to the passengers. It also observed that the government needed to be “proactive to face the emerging challenges of the growth of civil aviation sector”.

The committee also pulled up the government for adopting “the open sky policy without laying down the necessary guidelines, rules and regulations to control the activities of the airlines”.

  • It reprimanded the airlines and asked them to train their staff to reduce cases of misbehaviour.
  • Bad press generated around the CISF, as highlighted by recent incidents, prove that the training programmes are insufficient. It has suggested to the Centre to re-evaluate the soft skills training given to CISF and security personnel to make them more passenger friendly.
  • AAI and other Airport Operators should build new infrastructure and expand existing airports to enhance the facilities available at airports. Decongesting the airports, decongesting the runway and the airspace should be the top priority of the Government.
  • It also criticised the practice of airlines following non-uniform block times, under which different airlines would have different flying times for the same sector.
  • The Committee has recommended all the airlines to follow the practice of uniform block times. It noted that the ‘block time’ is the time usually the aircraft take to fly a particular sector but many airlines are not following it. The aircrafts are permitted to use the “non-uniform block time” i.e. long duration flying time (more time in the air) to cover a particular sector due to lack of slots at the airports.

 

■ The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has released the forecast that GDP growth in the current financial year will slow to a four-year low of 6.5%. This is below par from the provisional 7.1% pace seen in 2016-17, dragged down by deceleration in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

According to the first advance estimates of national income for 2017-18, Gross Value Added (GVA) has also been projected to expand by 6.1% in 2017-18, which is slower than 6.6% in the preceding fiscal year.

  • Within this, the GVA growth rate for ‘agriculture, forestry and fishing’ is expected to slow sharply to 2.1%, compared with the previous year’s 4.9% pace.
  • Manufacturing sector growth has also been forecasted at 4.6% in 2017-18, compared with the 7.9% expansion provisionally estimated for 2016-17.

 

■ Indian-origin banker Ravi Menon, the MD of Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), has been honoured with the Best Central Bank Governor in Asia-Pacific for 2018.
Recall that: Raghuram Rajan received this honour in the year 2016.

 

 

“Current Affairs Questions for UPSC IAS Prelims – 6 January 2018 “

Q1. Which union ministry has launched India’s first digital online oncology tutorial series?

  • A) Ministry of Human Resource Development
  • B) Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
  • C) Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology
  • D) Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

Q2. The Border Security Force (BSF) has launched which operation on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) International Border to curb infiltration in the winters?

  • A) Operation Border
  • B) Operation Control
  • C) Operation Alert
  • D) Operation Star

Q3. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has initiated PCA against Allahabad Bank over its high bad loans. What is “PCA”?

  • A) Prompt Control Action
  • B) Principal Complaints Action
  • C) Principal Component Action
  • D) Prompt Corrective Action

Q4. Which state will host the 39th National Games in 2022?

  • A) Meghalaya
  • B) Nagaland
  • C) Mizoram
  • D) Assam

Q5. Which city is hosting the Conference on Transformation of Aspirational Districts?

  • A) New Delhi
  • B) Kochi
  • C) Chennai
  • D) Bengaluru

Answer these questions in the comments below. We encourage you to discuss your thoughts on the news and issues mentioned in today’s current affairs post. The idea is to promote healthy discussions on interesting issues to make preparation fun. Have a good day!

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