Current Affairs Current Affairs -14 May 2017 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs -14 May 2017

General Affairs 

Hackathon For EVMs On Thursday, The Way AAP Wants It. In Botswana
  • Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party that returned disappointed from Friday's all party meet because the Election Commission's announced a challenge seems to have found a hackathon that would get its technocrats a free hand to break into Electronic Voting Machines, or EVMs. But it is in Botswana, 8,000 km away from the national capital.

    "Sad that EC has backed out of hackathon," the Delhi Chief Minister had tweeted on Friday evening after the poll body meeting to reassure political parties that the voting machines could not be tampered. For the hackathon proposed by the poll body, the AAP leaders wanted the commission to give them an EVM to hack. The commission refused.

    But a south African country that is preparing to introduce Made In India voting machines in the next round of elections scheduled for 2019 is ready. Given the heat that the EVMs have generated over the last few years, Botswana's plan has been viewed suspiciously by the opposition that has also approached the courts.

    Next week's hackathon is aimed at setting such fears at rest.

    On Thursday, it will hold a demonstration of the machines with the voter verifiable paper audit trail, or VVPAT, which offers instant evidence of the vote recorded by printing a paper receipt visible before it drops into a sealed box.

    Next, it will give people with the know how to disrupt, hack and compromise the secure performance of the machines to do so, said a notice put out by the government on its Facebook page, and reported by multiple regional online media outlets. 

    "All those with the technical capability to hack the EVM are invite to come forward," the notice said. The event will be held on 18 May but the deadline to register for the hackathon ends today.

    AAP legislator Saurabh Bharadwaj had on Tuesday "hacked" a gadget "similar to an EVM" in the Delhi Assembly to make the point that voting machines can be tampered in "under 90 seconds" by changing the motherboard. 

    One engineer from the public sector, Bharat Electronics Limited told that it was fallacious to claim that an EVM could be tampered if its motherboard was replaced. If you replace an EVM's motherboard with that of a transistor, it can play songs.

After Nowshera, Heavy Firing By Pakistan In Rajouri's Chingus Since Morning
  • In a fresh ceasefire violation today, Pakistan has resorted to heavy firing and mortar shelling in Chiti Bakri in Chingus area of Jammu and Kashmir's Rajouri sector. The firing that started in the morning is still on. Pakistan is targeting Indian posts with automatic weapons and long range mortars.

    This is the third ceasefire violation in the last three days. There have been 271 ceasefire violations in the last one year. The Indian Army is giving a befitting response to Pakistan.

    Earlier on Saturday, two persons were killed and three others were reportedly injured in indiscriminate shelling by Pakistan in the Nowshera sector along the Line of Control (LoC).

    Meanwhile, panic has gripped Rajouri. Schools have been shut and the volatile situation along the border has triggered a fresh migration. 

'From Caesar To Caesar': India Tells International Court of Justice Appeal In Pakistan For Kulbhushan Jadhav Would Be A Sham
  • In its application against the death sentence awarded to Indian citizen Kulbhushan Jadhav, India has told the International Court of Justice that the verdict was awarded by Pakistan's military court after a "vitiated" trial and any appeal against this decision in the neighbouring was "illusory".

    The United Nations' highest court will hold the first round of hearing on Monday before a formal stay order is expected to be passed by the 15-judge bench to let the court hold detailed hearings that could take months to conclude.

    In all of four hearings between September 2016 and February 2017, a Pakistan military court had completed the trial against the 46-year-old Mr Jadhav, convicting him on multiple counts of terrorism that led to loss of "many lives and damage of property". India insists the former naval officer was on business to Iran from where he was abducted. Pakistan claimed he was caught from Baluchistan.

    In making its case that Pakistan had violated the Vienna convention that mandated India should have been informed about his arrest and given access to him. New Delhi has produced all the letters exchanged with Islamabad to demonstrate that the only offer, even if conditional, to give consular access came after the trial had concluded. But it wasn't only the appeals process that was vitiated.

    The application went on to argue that the remedy against the conviction cited by Mr Aziz was "worthless" since Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had already confirmed the verdict.

    "An appeal before a Tribunal presided over by him or officers' junior to him would be an appeal from Caesar to Caesar," the application to institute proceedings at the world court in the Dutch city of The Hague said.

    Pakistan Prime Minister's Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had last month claimed Kulbhushan Jadhav's trial was conducted in a "fully transparent manner" and based on credible, specific evidence.

    He had gone on to declare that he could appeal against the 10 April sentence within 40 days to the appellate military court, and file a mercy petition first to Chief of Army Staff, and then, to Pakistan President.

    India has cited a news report in Pakistani newspaper Dawn that made it clear the appellate tribunal would be headed by a two-star general. "The spokesperson is quoted as having said that he did not see any chance of the verdict being overturned," the application by the foreign ministry's joint secretary Deepak Mittal said.

Major Cyber Attacks Over The Past 10 Years
  • A huge range of organisations and companies around the world have been affected by the WannaCry ransomware cyberattack, described by the EU's law enforcement agency as "unprecedented".

    From "cyberwar" to "hacktivism", here are some of the major cyberattacks over the past 10 years:

    - Cyberwar -

    One of the first massive cyberattacks to hit a state occurred in spring 2007 in the Baltic nation of Estonia, when a spate of intrusions forced the closure of government websites and disrupted leading businesses.

    The assault paralysed key corporate and government web services for days and knocked out the national emergency hotline for more than an hour. Estonia, which was in the midst of a diplomatic dispute with Russia, blamed Moscow for the attacks, which it denied.

    A year later, Georgia suffered similar attacks which crippled its official presidential website and the main broadcast networks during the South Ossetia war. The attack was attributed to Russian nationalists.

    In July 2009, a dozen US government websites, including those of the White House, Pentagon and State Department, were targeted in a coordinated cyberattack which also struck sites in South Korea.

    South Korea was again the victim of a cyberattack in March 2013 amid tensions with North Korea. The attack paralysed the websites and tens of thousands of computers at several TV stations and banks for hours.

    In November 2014, Sony Pictures Entertainment became the target of the biggest cyberattack in US corporate history, linked to its North Korea satire "The Interview".

    The hackers -- a group calling itself Guardians of Peace -- released a trove of embarrassing emails, film scripts and other internal communications, including information about salaries and employee health records.

    Washington blamed Pyongyang for the hacking, a claim it denied -- though it had strongly condemned the film, which features a fictional CIA plot to assassinate leader Kim Jong-Un.

    And in 2010, a computer virus called Stuxnet attacked Iran's nuclear facilities, setting back the country's atomic programme. 

    Although hackers of Russian, North Korean or Chinese origin are often cited, many believe the attack was orchestrated by the United States and Israel, but they have never acknowledged responsibility.

    - Hacktivism -

    The loose-knit piracy collective Anonymous, arguably the most well-known hacking group, has targeted a number of organisations under its mantle of fighting injustices, including the Pentagon, the Church of Scientology, the Islamic State group and Mastercard.

    Anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, founded 10 years ago by Australian Julian Assange, specialises in the release of classified materials.

    In 2010, it published 251,000 classified cables from US embassies around the world and thousands of military documents on Afghanistan.

    Last year it published files and communications from the Democratic Party, damaging presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign. US intelligence officials said the release was part of a Russian plot to aid the eventual election victor Donald Trump.

    In March, the group released a large number of files and computer code from the CIA's top-secret hacking operations, showing how the agency exploits vulnerabilities in popular computer and networking hardware and software to gather intelligence.

    A similar election attack targeted the campaign of French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron barely 24 hours before the final round of voting in April, when thousands of documents from his En Marche! (On the Move!) movement were dumped online.

    The campaign denounced the "massive and coordinated hacking attack," calling it an attempt at "democratic destabilisation, like that seen during the last presidential campaign in the United States."

    - Cyberterrorism -

    In January 2015, a group declaring support for IS jihadists hacked into the social media accounts of US Central Command (CENTCOM), an embarrassing setback for Washington in its war against IS in Syria and Iraq.

    A black-and-white banner with the words "CyberCaliphate" and "I love you ISIS" replaced CENTCOM's usual logo on Twitter and YouTube before the pages were suspended.

    Two months later, a group calling itself the "Islamic State Hacking Division" published what they said were the names and addresses of 100 military personnel and urged supporters to kill them.

    It posted information about members of the air force, army and navy, including photos and ranks.

    There have also been countless criminal attacks around the world, with hackings of online payment systems costing more than $300 million (275 million euros) of losses for about a dozen top US and European companies between 2005 and 2012.

    Major companies and media houses have also been targeted, including Yahoo!, which was targeted by hackers seeking personal data on millions of users in both 2013 and 2014.

    In April 2015, France's TV5 Monde television suffered a major hacking by self-proclaimed Islamic State militants, but an investigation later revealed that the hackers were Russian.

    Hackers managed to shut down transmissions for several hours and hijacked the channel's website and social networks.

India Boycotts China Meet On Connectivity, Says It Must Respect Territorial Integrity
  • India has boycotted a two-day meeting in China that began today on Beijing's ambitious initiative for cross border connectivity through ports, railways and roads called the 'One Belt One Road' project. 

    In a statement on Saturday, the Ministry of External Affairs said "Connectivity projects must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity."

    In a reference to the controversies that plague the Chinese plan, the Indian government statement goes on to say, "We are of firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognized international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality. Connectivity initiatives must follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create unsustainable debt burden for communities; balanced ecological and environmental protection and preservation standards; transparent assessment of project costs; and skill and technology transfer to help long term running and maintenance of the assets created by local communities."

    One part of the project called the CPEC (the China Pakistan Economic Corridor) runs through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir or PoK. India has strongly objected to this project, maintaining that PoK is a part of India, not Pakistan.

    The Foreign Ministry makes a specific reference to the CPEC, saying "Regarding the so-called 'China-Pakistan Economic Corridor', which is being projected as the flagship project of the BRI/OBOR, the international community is well aware of India's position. No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity."

    India's boycott comes as Nepal confirmed its participation in the meeting on Friday. Other neighbours like Sri Lanka and Pakistan are already attending including Pakistan's PM Nawaz Sharif who met Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday. 

    The US too has decided to attend, marking a U-turn in its position.

    The scheme is the brainchild of President Xi, and aims to build a "new Silk Road" of ports, railways and roads to expand trade in a vast arc of countries across Asia, Africa and Europe.

    Leaders of 29 countries plus senior delegates from other nations gather in Beijing for the two-day summit. 

    The Foreign Ministry statement also says "Expansion and strengthening of connectivity is an integral part of India's economic and diplomatic initiatives. Guided by our principled position in the matter, we have been urging China to engage in a meaningful dialogue on its connectivity initiative, 'One Belt, One Road' which was later renamed as 'Belt and Road Initiative'. We are awaiting a positive response from the Chinese side."

Business Affairs 

Withdraw plan to charge on transactions on SBI mobile wallet, demands Employees Federation
  • The Bank Employees Federation of India has demanded that State Bank of India, the countrys largest public sector bank, withdraw the proposed plan to levy charges on transactions made though banks mobile wallet. 
    Last week, SBI had said it would introduce a new facility through which every withdrawal of cash through ATMs using the banks mobile wallet would attract a charge of Rs 25. BEFI Tamil Nadu unit General Secretary C P Krishnan said the association wanted SBI to withdraw the plan "forthwith". 
    He pointed out that SBI which has already in control of 25 per cent of the total business in the banking industry, had increased it to 33 per cent, following the merger of five subsidiary banks from April 1, 2017. 
    Stating that SBI had changed its earlier stand from charging for transactions made through ATM to levying a charge for transactions through e-wallet, he said SBI had also planned to impose charges on exchange of soiled notes. 
    "SBI management has begun a war on the common man and the SBI clients numbering around 25 crore in the name of service charges and fine. This would set a bad precedent for other public sector banks," he said. 
    Recalling SBIs announcement in 2012 that it would waive the rule to maintain minimum balance for Savings Bank account holders, he said the new announcement of steep increase in charges to those who do not maintain minimum balance will drive "crore of people away from the bank." 
    "We strongly deplore this move of the SBI and demand that the RBI and Central Government instruct the SBI management to withdraw it immediately," he said.

Vijay Mallya's extradition hearing deferred to June 13
  • The hearing on the issue of embattled Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya's extradition from the UK has been deferred to June 13, Britain's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has said.
    The CPS will be arguing on behalf of the Indian authorities when the fugitive businessman's extradition case comes up for hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on June 13. The hearing was earlier scheduled for May 17.
    "The next hearing is June 13 for a case management hearing," a CPS spokesperson said on Friday.
    A four-member joint CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) team had arrived in London earlier this month.
    "Our aim is to build a strong, infallible case and these meetings will help resolve issues across the table. The CPS will be arguing based on documents provided by CBI and ED, therefore a joint team is here to address queries they may have," official sources had said.
    Mallya, the 61-year-old chief of the erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines who owes over Rs 9,000 crore to various Indian banks, has been living in self-imposed exile in Britain since March last year.
    He was arrested by Scotland Yard last month on fraud allegations, triggering an official extradition process in the British courts.
    He attended a central London police station for his arrest and was released on conditional bail a few hours later after providing a bail bond worth 650,000 pounds, assuring the court of abiding by all conditions associated with extradition proceedings, such as the surrender of his passport and a ban on him possessing any travel documents.

Gutka, calculators, TV picture tubes removed from new IIP series
  • Items like gutka, calculators and colour TV picture tubes have been removed from the new series of Index of Industrial Production with 2011-12 as base year, while steroids and refined palm oil are among those that have found place in it.
    The total number of items in the index has increased to 809 as compared to 620 earlier.
    The changes effected by the government in the product basket are aimed at capturing the economic data in a more comprehensive manner.
    The 149 new items include steroids and hormonal preparations, cement clinkers, medical/surgical accessories, pre-fabricated concrete blocks and refined palm oil.
    On the other hand, 124 items such as biaxially oriented polypropylene films, calculators, colour TV picture tubes, gutka have been deleted from the 2004-05 series.
    The Central Statistics Office (CSO), under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, revises the base year of the macroeconomic indicators as a regular exercise to capture structural changes in the economy and improve the quality and representativeness of the indices.
    The revised series uses the National Industrial Classification (NIC) 2008 for the purpose of classification of industrial production.
    The ministry also said in a statement that in order to reflect the increasing significance of electricity generation from renewable sources, it has been decided to include the data in the new series.
    Further, it added that the number of source agencies reporting data for compilation of IIP in the new series will be 14 as compared to 15 earlier.
    The objective of the revision is to update the item basket and reporting entities and to "bring the coverage more in line with the current consumption and production patterns", Chief statistician TCA Anant told reporters here.
    He said certain items which were in the old series are present in the new series as well, but are appropriately reclassified either by splitting up old items or combining them.
    "An effort has been made to broad-base data collection to ensure that we get data from much larger establishments," he added.
    He also said that with the release of the new series of IIP (base 2011-12), an institutional mechanism has been established for facilitating dynamic revision of the item list of products and the panel of factories, through a Technical Review Committee, chaired by Secretary, Ministry of Statistics.
    The committee will meet at least once a year for identifying new items that need to be included in the item basket and removing those that have lost relevance in the industrial sector or are no longer being produced. 

    Oil ministry warns against fake websites on free-LPG scheme
    • The oil ministry on Friday warned citizens to be wary of fake websites on free-LPG scheme Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana saying they should not respond to advertisements for dealers being issued by such portals.
      "Attention of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has been drawn to a number of fake websites which have come up recently in connection with the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.
      "It is to bring to the kind notice of general public that official website of PMJY is," an official statement said.
      This official website contains freely downloadable forms, both in English and Hindi, to be filled by the prospective beneficiaries for new LPG connection.
      "It is also noticed that the entity with the name has issued an advertisement regarding appointment of LPG distributorship under RGGLV Yojana.
      "It is clarified that this entity is not authorised by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to appoint LPG distributorship. It is requested that general public should not respond to the advertisement or any other communication from this entity in any manner," it added.

    WPI series: Tissue paper, cucumber, jack fruit among 199 new items in basket
    • As many as 199 new items, including natural gas, tissue paper, conveyer belt, rubber tread, steel cables, pointed gourd, cucumber, bitter gourd and jack fruit, are included in the new series of Wholesale Price Index (WPI) to make the inflation data more broad-based.
      While 146 items, including Coke (Coal), papad, video CD player, khandsari and light diesel oil, were dropped under the new series.
      The government today released the new series of the WPI with change in base year to 2011-12 from 2004-05 and after rejigging the items in the basket for making the index more reflective.
      There is an increase in the number of items in WPI basket from 676 to 697. In all, 199 new items have been added and 146 old items have been dropped, the Commerce Ministry statement said.
      It said the new series is more representative with increase in number of quotations from 5,482 to 8,331, an increase by 2,849 quotations (52 per cent).
      The ministry said that in the new series of WPI, prices used for compilation do not include indirect taxes in order to remove impact of fiscal policy as this is in consonance with international practices and will make the new index conceptually closer to Producer Price Index.
      Under the new series, the seasonality of fruits and vegetables has been updated to account for more months as these are now available for longer duration.
      It said that a high-level Technical Review Committee has been set up for the first time to carry out dynamic review process in order to keep pace with the changing structure of the economy.
      According to statement, in the primary articles, new vegetables and fruits such as radish, carrot, cucumber, bitter gourd, mosambi, pomegranate, jack fruit, pear etc have been added.
      In the mineral group items like copper concentrate, lead concentrate and garnet have been added whereas copper ore, gypsum, kaolin, dolomite, magnesite have been removed.
      Natural gas has been added as a new item.
      In the revised series, the WPI will continue to constitute three major groups namely -- primary articles, fuel and power and manufactured products.
      In the fuel and power major group, the index for non- coking coal will also be available at a disaggregated level based on Gross Calorific Value (GCV) to cater to the requirements of diverse user groups. The item coke has been dropped.
      The index for electricity in the new series will be compiled as a single item in comparison to the separate indices according to usage in agriculture, industry, domestic, commercial and railways in 2004-05 series.
      In the new series, monthly average rate of sale of power of 49 selected generating stations covering Hydro and Thermal sectors is being used to compile the index for electricity.
      In the mineral oil sub-group, light diesel oil has been deleted in view of its decreasing importance while petroleum coke has been added as a new item owing to its growing importance.
      There have been some changes in weights of the retained mineral fuels. The number of quotations has been increased significantly to give wider geographical coverage.
      The ministry said in manufactured products category, the number of 2 digit groups has been increased from 12 to 22 in the new series in keeping with National Industrial Classification (NIC) 2008.
      Around 173 new items like conveyer belt, rubber tread, steel cables, tissue paper, wooden splint, XLPE compound have been added while 135 items like khandsari, papad and video CD-Players have been dropped. 

    General Awareness

    PM Narendra Modi’s two day visit to Sri Lanka

    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on a two-day visit to Sri Lanka on 11th and 12th May 2017. During this visit, he participated in the International Vesak Day celebrations, the biggest festival of Buddhists and attended several other programmes.
      PM Modi addresses Vesak Day celebrations in Colombo
      Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief guest for the 14th International Vesak Day celebration in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
      Following are the highlights of PM Modi’s address on Vesak Day Celebrations in Colombo:
      • PM Modi referred to mindsets rooted in hate and violence asbiggest challenge to sustainable world peace and added that the spread of terrorism in Asian region is a physical manifestation of this destructive emotion.
      • He acknowledged that Buddha’s teachings are relevant even in 21stCentury and has been inculcated in our governance, culture and philosophy.
      • PM Modi expressed hope that India and Sri Lanka will work together to uphold ideals of peace taught by Buddha and strive forregional and global peace.
      • He also announced a direct flight between Colombo and Varanasi by Air India which will be operational by August 2017.
      UN Vesak Day celebration from May 12-14
      14th edition of United Nations Vesak Day celebration was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 12th – 14th May 2017. Sri Lanka hosted this celebration for the first time. Large number of local and foreign delegates participated in this celebration.
      • The theme of this year’s celebration was “Buddhist Teachings for Social Justice and Sustainable World Peace”.
      • The celebration included an academic conference, a cultural show and creation of special Vesak zone at different places in Sri Lanka from 12th to 14th May 2017.
      Narendra Modi inaugurates multi-specialty hospital in Sri Lanka
      On May 12, 2017 Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a multi-specialty hospital at Dickoya in Nuwara Eliya district of Sri Lanka.
      • This 150-bed capacity hospital is located in an area which is home to a large Indian-origin Tamil community.
      • The construction cost of this hospital has been drawn from $2.6 billion developmental aid committed by India to Sri Lanka.
      Sri Lanka :
      • Capitals: Colombo, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte
      • Currency: Sri Lankan rupee
      • Prime minister: Ranil Wickremesinghe

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