Current Affairs Current Affairs - 13 September 2018 - Vikalp Education

Online Vikalp, Current Affairs, Current Awareness, General Awareness, Aptitude Classes, Daily News, General Knowledge, General Awareness For All Competitive Exam, current affairs quiz,current affairs in india, current affairs about sports, current affairs and gk, current affairs about india, current affairs daily quiz, current affairs dairy, current affairs education, Top News, Breaking News, Latest News

Current Affairs - 13 September 2018

General Affairs 

90% Of Indians Have Toilet Facility Today, Says PM Narendra Modi
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said that 90 per cent of Indians have toilet facility at their homes now as his government had got 8.3 crore toilets constructed since 2014 to make the country free of open defecation.

    "Today, 90 per cent Indians have toilet facility, which was only 40 per cent before 2014. Over 4.15 lakh villages, 430 districts, 2,800 towns, 19 states and Union Territories have been declared open defecation-free," the Prime Minister said through a video posted on his Twitter account. 

    PM Modi government came to power in May 2014 and constructed the toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission. 

    He said the World Health Organisation had expressed the possibility of saving lives of three lakh Indian children by the use of toilets. 

    PM Modi called upon the countrymen to come together at 9.30 a.m. on September 15 to mark the commencement of the "Swachhata Hi Seva Movement". The campaign will continue till October 2. 

    "On October 2, we mark the start of Gandhiji's 150th birth anniversary. It is also the day Swachh Bharat Mission completes four years of being a historic mass movement aimed at fulfilling Bapu's dream of a 'Clean India'. The 'Swachhata Hi Seva Movement' is a great way to pay tributes to Bapu. Come, be a part of this movement and strengthen the efforts to create a Swachh Bharat! 

    "I look forward to interacting with those who have worked assiduously on the ground to strengthen the Swachh Bharat Mission after which cleanliness activities will begin. I salute all those working towards a Swachh Bharat!" he said.

Here's How Leopard Urine, Faeces Played A Crucial Role In Surgical Strike
  • The Indian soldiers who carried out surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) in September, 2016 used an unusual weapon apart from firepower: leopard urine and feces.

    Apparently, it kept away the village dogs that could otherwise have given away the soldiers' movement in the darkness.

    The detail was recounted by Lt Gen. (retd) Rajendra Nimbhorkar, who was the head of the 15 Corps that looked after the security of the LoC in the Jammu region, and played a key role in the planning of the attack.

    Speaking at a function organised by the Thorle Bajirao Peshwe Pratishthan (trust) here, where he was felicitated on Tuesday, Nimbhorkar said the planners had to bear in mind that the dogs in the villages along the LoC could alert the enemy troops.

    "When I was the brigade commander in the Noushera sector (earlier in his career), I had observed that there were often leopard attacks on the dogs there and the dogs stayed away from the area at night fearing leopards," Lt Gen. Nimbhorkar said.

    "When the strikes were being planed, we took the possibility of the presence of dogs into consideration...the dogs could have barked when our troops were crossing the LoC.

    "So our soldiers spread leopard urine and feces along the route, which helped keep the dogs away," Lt Gen. Nimbhorkar said.

    He also said that extreme secrecy was maintained while planning the attack.

    "Then defence minister Manohar Parrikar had given us a week's time to execute the plan and accordingly, I had shared the plan with the troops, but did not reveal the locations to be targeted.

    "The locations were shared with the troops only a day prior to the attack," Lt Gen. Nimbhorkar said.

    The strikes were carried out by paratroopers and infantry soldiers. Lt Gen. Nimbhorkar said the time of the attack -- 3.30 AM -- was chosen to ensure maximum damage to the enemy.

    "We had studied the pattern of the terrorists' activities at their launching pads and decided that 3.30 AM was the perfect time to launch the assault.

    "Before the decided time, our troops had reached the area after crossing the difficult terrain, away from the enemy eyes. We managed to destroy three launching pads and kill 29 terrorists," he said.

    According to the Army, Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) was severely hit in the surgical strikes carried out on the intervening night of September 28-29, 2016. 

China Plans Bullet Train To Kolkata Via Bangladesh, Myanmar
  • Chinese Consul General in Kolkata Ma Zhanwu said Wednesday his country was mooting a bullet train service between Kunming and Kolkata, traversing through Myanmar and Bangladesh.

    With joint efforts of India and China, a high-speed rail link could be established between the two cities, Mr Zhanwu said at a conference here.

    "It will only take a few hours to reach Kolkata from Kunming if the rail link becomes a reality," he asserted.

    The envoy also said that Myanmar and Bangladesh would benefit from the project.

    "We may have a cluster of industries along the route. That increases the possibility of economic development of countries involved in the 2,800 km-long project," he maintained.

    The project had also found mention at the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) meet in Kunming in 2015, he said.

    The rail route was aimed at boosting trade flow in the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) corridor, Mr Zhanwu said, adding that his country has been striving for the revival of Silk Route to increase connectivity from Kunming to Kolkata.

Air Force Chief Justifies Government's Decision To Buy 36 Rafale Jets
  • Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa today strongly defended the government's decision to procure only 36 Rafale fighter jets against the original proposal of 126 aircraft, saying there have been similar "emergency" acquisitions in the past.

    The air force is reeling under a severe shortage of fighter aircraft at a time India faces security challenges from two nuclear-powered neighbours, the air chief marshal said, adding that the purchase of 36 Rafale jets (two squadrons) will help the Indian Air Force deal with the situation.

    One squadron of fighter jets comprises 16-18 aircraft.

    "Whenever the government felt the air power element of the defence forces is likely to be in a disadvantageous position, it has gone in for emergency purchases of the aircraft under the umbrella of the inter-governmental agreement," Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa said, addressing a seminar on IAF's force restructuring.

    "The history is that the government had undertaken emergency purchase of fighter aircraft on several occasions in the past," he said.

    The previous UPA government was negotiating a deal with French aerospace giant Dassault Aviation, the makers of the Rafale, for procuring 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA). However the deal could not be completed.

    "By providing the Rafale and S-400, the government is strengthening the Indian Air Force to counter the shortfalls of our depleting numbers," he said.

    The government is also procuring a batch of S-400 air defence missile systems from Russia.

    The Modi government inked a government-to-government deal with France for the purchase of 36 Rafale jets at a cost of Rs. 58,000 crore on September 23, 2016. The delivery of the aircraft will start from September 2019.

    The Congress has been alleging massive irregularities in the deal and has attacked the government for procuring just 36 jets when the Air Force required 126.

    Justifying the decision to go for only two Rafale squadrons, Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa said India procured two squadrons of MiG 23 MF jets after Pakistan received the first lot of F-16 aircraft in 1983.

    In 1985, he said two squadrons of Mirage 2000 were procured from France, and later two squadrons of MiG 29 were purchased from the then Soviet Union "All these procurements were under the umbrella of the inter-governmental agreement (IGA)," he said.

    He added that acquisitions under inter-governmental agreement are "faster" and the quickest means of achieving operational capability of the Indian Air Force.

    IAF chief said the force currently has 31 squadrons of fighter jets against the sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons. "Even when we do have 42 squadrons, we will be below the combined numbers of two of our regional adversaries," he said, referring to China and Pakistan.

PM Modi Set To Launch Swachhata Hi Seva Movement
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch 'Swachhata Hi Seva Movement' from September 15. The movement will be launched to mark the commencement of Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary on October 2. The Prime Minister further urged everyone on Wednesday to be a part of this movement and strengthen the efforts to create a 'Swachh Bharat'.

    In a series of tweets, Prime Minister Modi said, "On October 2, we mark the start of Gandhi Ji's 150th birth anniversary. It is also the day Swachh Bharat Mission completes 4 years of being a historic mass movement aimed at fulfilling Bapu's dream of a Clean India. I salute all those working towards a Swachh Bharat!"

    "The 'Swachhata Hi Seva Movement' commences on 15th September. This is a great way to pay tributes to Bapu. Come, be a part of this movement and strengthen the efforts to create a Swachh Bharat!" he tweeted.

    'Swachhata Hi Seva Movement' will begin on the morning of September 15 with Prime Minister Modi's interaction with the people connected with the Clean India Mission.

    "At 9:30 AM on 15th, we shall come together and mark the commencement of the 'Swachhata Hi Seva Movement.' I look forward to interacting with those who have worked assiduously on the ground to strengthen the Swachh Bharat Mission after which Swachhata activities will begin," the Prime Minister tweeted.

Business Affairs

Industrial output grows at 6.6% in July as manufacturing, capital goods shine
  • India industrial production grew at 6.6 per cent in July on the back of good performance by the manufacturing sector and higher offtake of capital goods and consumer durables.

    Factory output measured in terms of the Index of Industrial Production had expanded by just 1 per cent in July last year, according to the data released by Central Statistics Office (CSO).

    The IIP growth for June was also revised downwards to 6.8 per cent from the provisional estimate of 7 per cent released last month, the data showed.

    The manufacturing sector recorded a 7 per cent growth in July as against a contraction of 0.1 per cent in the same month year ago.

    The consumer durables sector recorded an impressive growth of 14.4 per cent in July against a dip of 2.4 per cent year ago. Capital goods production grew by 3 per cent in July as against decline of 1.1 per cent year ago.

    The IIP growth in April-July period was 5.4 per cent compared to 1.7 per cent year ago.

    In terms of industries, 22 out of 23 industry groups in the manufacturing sector showed positive growth during July 2018.

    The industry group manufacture of furniture has shown the highest positive growth of 42.7 per cent followed by 30.8 per cent in manufacture of computer, electronics and optical products, and 28.4 per cent in manufacture of tobacco products.

    On the other hand, the industry group manufacture of paper and paper products and printing and reproduction of recorded media have shown the highest negative growth of (-)2.7 per cent, followed by (-)0.9 per cent in manufacture of machinery and equipment.

RBI to Supreme Court: Can't recognise cryptocurrencies under existing legal regime
  • The Reserve Bank of India has just upped the ante in its crackdown on cryptocurrencies by filing an affidavit in the Supreme Court today. According to a CNN News 18 report, the banking regulator has clarified its stand on cryptocurrencies in the affidavit saying that bitcoins and its brethren can't be recognised under the existing legal regime. The RBI added that virtual currencies are "neither currency nor money; they can't even be considered as a valid payment system".

    The Supreme Court is currently hearing a case between virtual money exchanges and the RBI, and the next hearing on the matter is scheduled for September 17.

    In April, the RBI had directed all the banks to stop dealing with individuals and businesses dabbling in virtual currencies by July 5. The move was an attempt to ring-fence regulated entities from the risks associated with cryptocurrencies after it was observed that several companies had started dealing in over thousands of digital currencies, which the government and the RBI claim have no intrinsic value.

    Before this development, the RBI had issued four warnings against bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies since December 2013. Along with the Finance Ministry, it had made it clear that virtual currencies are not legal tender.

    Within days of the blanket ban announced by the RBI, a number of cryptocurrency exchanges moved court.  According to Quartz, the ball was set rolling on April 22, when the Delhi High Court issued a notice to the RBI after a petition filed by Kali Digital Eco-Systems, which had plans to launch its own cryptocurrency exchange, CoinRecoil, shortly.

    The Ahmedabad-based firm had reportedly challenged the RBI order on two grounds: Under Article 19(1) (g) of the Indian constitution, which allows citizens to enjoy the right to carry on any occupation, trade, or business; and Article 14, which prohibits discrimination and mandates equal protection under the law for all.

    In May, in a big blow to the petitioners, the Supreme Court refused to stay the RBI circular and grant interim relief to them. It also told the exchanges to engage directly with the central bank on the ban. The once-booming industry has suffered badly ever since. For instance, Unocoin, a Bengaluru-based cryptocurrency exchange, has seen its average monthly transactions dwindle from a peak of over 200,000 traders to merely 20,000 currently.

    In the meantime, following the Supreme Court's directions, the exchanges sent out detailed representations to the RBI on why its ban should be lifted. They added that they are open to greator scrutiny and willing to be regulated. The portal added that in their correspondence, the industry players further agreed to include more information and precautionary measures such as passport details and insurance cover.

    But the RBI was not convinced. In July, it clearly listed out its concerns on cryptocurrencies to the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), which counts bitcoin exchanges as its members. The regulator had flagged off concerns over investor protection, money laundering and terror financing given the anonymity of such transactions, and the cryptocurrencies' lack of intrinsic value.

    The affidavit filed today only shows that it has no plans of softening its stand.

Raghuram Rajan's prescription to stave off bad loans lost in 'political' translation
  • Raghuram Rajan, former governor, Reserve Bank of India is known for calling spade a spade. He focuses on solution rather than problems or looking ahead than doing a postmortem of the past. In his letter to the parliamentary committee, the celebrated economist Rajan listed out the key reform areas to prevent recurrence of the kind of bad loan that the system is currently grappling with. But somehow his message is lost in the political slugfest. Let's analyse Rajan's prescription for making the banking system foolproof:  

    Improve governance of PSBs and distance them from government

    The current government was quick to set up a Bank Board Bureau (BBB) for initiating governance reforms in the Public Sector Banks (PSBs) with a mandate to recommend people for the post of MD & CEO and Chairman. The PSBs saw split of the post of Chairman and MD and also outside professionals taking charge at some banks. Bank of Baroda saw two outside professionals manning the bank. But the BBB later lost the relevance as many of the CEO appointments recommended by BBB saw delays of clearance from the finance ministry. The next logical step for BBB was to create an Investment Holding Company (IHC) for housing the government stake. The BBB was to transform into IHC at a later stage. But nothing of that sort happened. Things are back to square one.

    Plugging the talent gap

    Barring Bank of Baroda (BoB) and State Bank of India (SBI), the PSBs are still managing with its existing staffers. The banking has changed a lot in the last decade with a focus on retail, risk-management, treasury and digital banking. Globally, banks are facing disruption from new fintech players. PSBs desperately need talent in newer areas like technology, digital banking, risk management, especially operational risk, and also cyber security.

    Strengthening the recovery mechanism

    The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) was seen as an effective tool of resolving the bad loan problems. But there have been roadblocks from the government and the court both. The government has come out with a new three-point formula, which includes Asset Management Companies and Alternative Investment Funds. The Supreme Court has stayed the RBI's circular for taking companies to IBC if they default even for a single day. The 180-day given by the RBI for finding a resolution was long enough to find a resolution. But now banks have no option but to wait for further orders.

    Focus on sources of next crisis

    The role of the government and the regulator is to see where the next bubble is building up and take corrective action. For example, the small ticket size loans (mudra, personal loans) are growing very fast and there is a risk of default in future.

Retail inflation cools to 11-month low of 3.69% in August
  • Retail inflation cooled to an 11-month low of 3.69 per cent for the month of August compared to 4.17 per cent in July and 3.28 per cent in the same period last year.

    The drop in inflation was mainly due to a fall in prices of kitchen items, including fruits and vegetables, official data showed Wednesday.

    CPI inflation was at 3.58 per cent in October 2017 and has remained above RBI's targeted rate of 4 per cent since then.

    The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will be considering this set of data for formulating its next bi-monthly monetary policy on October 5.

    The central bank has been mandated to keep retail inflation at 4 per cent level (with a margin of 2 per cent on either side).

    The easing of inflation below the RBI's level raises hopes that RBI may not go for another rate hike in the next policy review.

    The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the RBI had, in its last policy review, noted that uncertainty around domestic inflation needs to be carefully monitored in the coming months.

    "The main reason for increasing of the repo rate has been done to maintain the 4 per cent inflation target, a target from which we have been away for several months," the RBI Governor had said.

    "The increase in MSPs for kharif crops, which is much larger than the average increase seen in the past few years, will have a direct impact on food inflation and second round effects on headline inflation," the Monetary Policy Committee had said.

Rupee free fall against dollar! PM Modi to hold review meeting this weekend
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold an review meeting this weekend to find out ways to stop the free fall of rupee against the US dollar. The Prime Minister will also likely discuss measures to contain the ever rising prices of petrol and diesel in the country, news channels reported. The Indian currency hit a fresh record low of 72.91 against the dollar on Wednesday, only to recover to Rs 72.35. The currency has fallen over 13 per cent against the dollar since January.

    Continuous fall of the rupee has shaken the stock markets. Foreign institutional investors pulled out Rs 1,454 crore from the Indian stock markets on Tuesday alone, which is their highest daily outflow in over three months. The sharply declining rupee is not only increasing the fund raising cost in foreign countries but also making imports of crucial items like crude oil extremely expensive.

    Experts believe the poor economic scenario in the country could also prove fatal for the Modi government, which has refused to reduce excise duty on petrol and diesel despite the prices touching new highs very day. The Centre currently levies a total excise duty of Rs 19.48 per litre of petrol and Rs 15.33 per litre on diesel. VAT varies amongst states.

    The Central government had raised excise duty on petrol by Rs 11.77 a litre and that on diesel by 13.47 a litre in nine instalments between November 2014 and January 2016 to shore up finances as global oil prices fell. It has cut the tax just once in October last year by Rs 2 a litre. Considering the General Elections in 2019, analysts believe, the government needs to come up with measures to keep the growth momentum going.

    Meanwhile, the government may infuse fresh liquidity into the system and also issue NRI bonds to raise $30 billion. The RBI, which has not intervened to prevent the rupee fall so far, could also raise policy rates in its October meeting.  "If the rupee remains under pressure, the RBI might be forced to hike rates citing risks to inflationary expectations and second order impact of a weak currency," said Radhika Rao, Economist, Group Research, DBS Bank, told the Indian Express.

    The rupee is the latest currency to be dragged down by fears that an escalating trade war could hurt global growth and severely affect Asian economies. The spillover from the emerging-market turmoil in the Argentina peso and Turkish lira is largely weighing on Asia currencies.

General Awareness

    Model International Center for Transformative AI (ICTAI)
    • What to study?

      For Prelims: Objectives and features of ICTAI.
      For Mains: AI- need, concerns, potential and need for legislation.

      Context: NITI Aayog, Intel, and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) are collaborating to set up a Model International Center for Transformative Artificial Intelligence (ICTAI) towards developing and deploying AI-led application-based research projects.

      This initiative is part of NITI Aayog’s ‘National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence’ Discussion Paper that focuses on establishing ICTAI in the country through private sector collaboration.

      Aims of ICTAI:

      Based in Bengaluru, the Model ICTAI aims to conduct advanced research to incubate AI-led solutions in three important areas – healthcare, agriculture and smart mobility – by bringing together the expertise of Intel and TIFR.
      It aims to experiment, discover and establish best practices in the domains of ICTAI governance, fundamental research, physical infrastructure, compute and service infrastructure needs, and talent acquisition.

      Goals and objectives:

      Through this collaborative effort, the model ICTAI is chartered to develop AI foundational frameworks, tools and assets, including curated datasets and unique AI algorithms.
      The intent is to develop standards and support policy development related to information technology such as data-storage, information security, privacy, and ethics for data capture and use.
      The model Centre also plans to develop AI foundational technologies to promote applied research that can scale for national impact and will lead to the creation of a vibrant and self-sustaining ecosystem.
      Another key area of its focus will be collaboration with industry leaders, startups, and AI services and product companies to productize technologies and IP that are developed at the model ICTAI. And finally, the goal is to support skilling and talent development for world-class AI talent.
      The learning and best practices developed through this model ICTAI will be used by NITI Aayog to set up the future ICTAIs across country.

      What is artificial intelligence (AI)?

      Artificial Intelligence comes from computer systems that have been programmed to — or have learnt to — do tasks that would otherwise require human intelligence. Many apps and software are already making mundane work easier by doing a certain part of it for us, based on acquired intelligence.

      Concerns associated:

      Automation threatens 69% of the jobs in India, while it’s 77% in China, according to a World Bank research. The transition is expected to happen in a decade, according to experts. Therefore, if automation is not planned well and addressed holistically, it is a disaster in the making.

      New opportunities:

      While there is a risk to jobs due to these trends, the good news is that a huge number of new jobs are getting created as well in areas like cybersecurity, cloud, big data, machine learning and AI. The new job roles that will dominate the IT workforce are within digital domains such as big data, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and cybersecurity. It is clearly a time of career pivot for IT professionals to make sure they are where the growth is.

      Policy on AI:

      The Union ministry of electronics and information technology, in October 2017, set up an internal committee to advise the government on a policy on artificial intelligence (AI). The expert committee will advise the IT ministry on the most apt technologies for India. The government’s main focus is to reduce cyber attacks with AI.

      Need for a policy on AI:

      The artificial intelligence market is estimated to touch $153 billion in 2020 and expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 45.4% from 2016 to 2022. However, AI is widely seen as a major challenge in generation of employment as many companies are likely to depend more on it to cut down on human resources.

      Globally too, there is a growing interest in AI. In 2016, the White House initiated work on Preparing for the future of artificial intelligence; in the UK, the House of Commons committee on S&T looked at robotics and artificial intelligence while in 2017, the State Council of China started work on the next generation artificial intelligence development plan.

      Seven- point strategy:

      The government has recently drawn up a seven-point strategy that would form the framework for India’s strategic plan to use AI.

      The strategy includes developing methods for human machine interactions; ensuring safety and security of AI systems; creating a competent workforce in line with AI and R&D needs, understanding and addressing the ethical, legal and societal implications of AI, measuring and evaluating AI technologies through standards and benchmarks, among others.

      Way ahead:

      AI is a complex subject; it would be simplistic to look at it as all bad or all good. But robots and AI taking away middle-class, manufacturing jobs in the not-so-distant future is a very real prospect that will have to be addressed by governments sooner than they probably think.

    No comments:

    Featured post

    Current Affairs - 16 December 2018

    General Affairs   Cyclone Phethai Gathers Over Bay Of Bengal, May Hit Andhra On Monday ...

    Copyright © 2016. Vikalp Education