Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 18 March 2017


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 18 March 2017

:: National ::

Five cities across the country will be the first to start using plastic bank notes of Rs. 10

  • Five cities across the country with diverse geographical and climatic conditions will be the first to start using plastic bank notes of Rs. 10 denomination, with the Centre approving a field trial.
  • The plastic bank notes are considered to be cleaner than paper currency, will last longer and are difficult to counterfeit.
  • Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry has asked the Reserve Bank of India to go ahead with the procurement of the requisite plastic substrate material and approved the printing of Rs. 10 notes.

National security is an issue on which parties should refrain from blame games

  • National security is an issue on which political parties should refrain from blame games, said Defence Minister Arun Jaitley in Lok Sabha
  • In response to the statement of Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia, during the debate on Defence Budget allocations, Mr. Jaitley said Indian security forces were fully prepared to meet any challenge.
  • While there were long-standing problems in the defence sector, there were also good policies formulated, followed and developed over the past several decades under various regimes.
  • Countering Mr. Scindia’s arguments on the lack of resources, Mr. Jaitley who is also the Finance Minister said in the past two years, 147 contracts worth over Rs. 2 lakh crore had been concluded for the procurement of equipment.
  • As part of the deals, 155 mm ultra-light howitzers, BrahMos missiles, Pinaka rockets and ballistic helmets are being supplied to the Army.
  • For the Navy and the Coast Guard, there are ongoing shipbuilding projects of P17A frigates, deep-sea rescue vessels, P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft, the upgrade of Kamov-28 helicopters, Dornier aircrafts, off-shore petrol vessels and fast patrol vessels.
  • And for the Air Force, Rafale fighter aircraft, heavy-lift and Apache attack choppers are being procured.
  • Of these, 100 projects worth Rs. 2.51 lakh crore are under ‘Buy and Make in India’ and 34 projects are under the Buy Global arrangements.
  • A substantial part of the defence funds allocation also goes towards the payment of salaries and pensions.
  • Revenue mobilisation of the State must increase, that is, the primary resource that the Government gets, and this is not necessary to be done by raising the level of taxation.
  • The obvious method is, you expand the base check evasion.It is only then the slice, which will be available for national security, will also increase.

Supreme Court Collegium has handed over the finalised Memorandum of Procedure

  • The Supreme Court Collegium has handed over the finalised Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointment of judges to the government.
  • While maintaining the government’s proposal for a national security clause in the MoP, the Collegium has reserved to itself the right to reiterate a name rejected by the government.
  • Now, while accepting national security and public interest as the new ground of objection to appoint a candidate as a judge, the collegium is learnt to have made it clear that the government will not have a right to reject its recommendation.
  • The body of five senior-most judges of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar has made it clear that if the government has objections on the ground of national security and public interest, it will convey the same to the collegium. The collegium will then take a final call.
  • While accepting the government's demand to set up secretariats in the apex court and the 24 high courts to assist collegiums in SC and HCs in selecting judges, the collegium has refused to accept the demand for committees of retired or sitting judges to assist the collegiums. .
  • The government and the apex court have been trying to finalise the Memorandum of Procedure a document to guide appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.

Separatist opposed the Pakistan’s move to declare Gilgit-Baltistan as its fifth province

  • Separatists opposed the Pakistan government’s move to declare Gilgit-Baltistan as its fifth province.
  • In a joint statement, Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik said, “Kashmir, Ladakh, Jammu, Azad Kashmir [Pakistan-occupied Kashmir] and Gilgit-Baltistan is a single entity.”
  • The separatists said since the political destiny of Jammu and Kashmir was yet to be decided any proposal to declare Gilgit-Baltistan as the fifth State of Pakistan was “unacceptable.”
  •  Referring to Pakistan as “a prime party to the Kashmir issue”, the separatists said such a step may hamper the disputed status of Kashmir. “Both India and Pakistan have no authority or right to alter the geographical status of the State,” they added.
  • Recently, a committee, headed by Pakistan’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, had proposed giving the status of a province to Gilgit-Baltistan.

Ambitious project of NATGRID slow to move due to non-filing of posts

  • The Union Home Ministry informed a parliamentary panel earlier this week that it couldn’t get qualified IT professionals to fill 35 posts in the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), an ambitious intelligence project conceptualised by the United Progressive Alliance government after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.
  • The panel has asked the Ministry to “re-publicise the posts” and “offer remuneration commensurate with that of the private sector to attract the most qualified professionals.”
  • The NATGRID is a centralised agency which stores sensitive personal information on citizens, from almost two dozen agencies, to be made available for counter-terror investigations.
  • “These posts were not filled because of the non-availability of qualified professionals for various posts in the organisation,” Ministry officials were quoted in the report — Demands for Grants (2017-18).
  • The panel, headed by the Congress leader and former Home Minister P. Chidambaram, had asked the Ministry for the reasons for the cut in the NATGRID’s budget from Rs. 45 crore to Rs. 18.71 crore last fiscal.
  • “The 2016-17 budgetary allocation included a provision of Rs. 11.50 crore under revenue head in connection with the engagment of 35 consultants,” the Ministry said.
  • The panel pulled up the officials and said: “In a country like India, known worldwide for its highly skilled IT professionals, it is simply not acceptable that the non-availability of professionals was the reason for not filling the 35 posts of consultants.
  • The Committee feels that either the Ministry had failed to publicise the posts widely or the remuneration being offered was not attractive enough.
  • The Committee recommends that the Ministry needs to clear the confusion looming large over the NATGRID’s future by completing the construction of its main building at the earliest.”

Govt proposed a labour code to provide social security cover to the entire workforce

  • The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has proposed a labour code which will provide social security cover to the entire workforce in the country, including self-employed and agricultural workers.
  • Even households employing domestic help will also have contribute towards schemes including provident fund and gratuity for the worker, according to a ‘draft code on Social Security and Welfare’ proposed by the Labour Ministry.
  •  Factories employing even a single worker will have to contribute towards social security benefits, as per the proposal.
  • Every working person in the country will be covered under the social security code whether she belongs to the organised sector or the unorganised sector.
  • For the first time, we intend to cover agricultural workers along with self-employed people and target to provide social security benefits to 45 crore workers,Said a top labour ministry official, on conditions of anonymity.

ICAR and ICRISAT would work together on crop improvement and agronomy programmes (Register and Login to read Full News)

:: International ::

China appears set to strengthen Pakistani military forces to protect CPEC

  • China appears set to strengthen Pakistani military forces to protect the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and to combat cross-border infiltration by militants in China’s western Xinjiang province.
  • The two sides also discussed the security of the CPEC.  Masood Khalid, Pakistani Ambassador to China, said at a news conference that Pakistan had deployed more than 15,000 troops to protect the CPEC.
  • The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post had earlier reported that China was planning a five-fold increase in its marine force — from 20,000 to 100,000. Some of the Chinese marines would be stationed at Djibouti in Africa, and the Pakistani port of Gwadar, the starting point of the CPEC.
  • China’s authorisation to Pakistan to produce ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, anti-ship missiles and main battle tanks was also on the agenda of Gen. Bajwa’s talks.
  • Xinhua quoted Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli, whom Gen. Bajwa met, as saying that the two countries should enhance defence and security cooperation and push forward the building of the CPEC in an orderly manner.
  • The Pakistani daily Dawn has reported quoting a statement from the Inter Services Public Relations that China’s leadership appreciated Pakistan’s fight against terrorism with a special mention of eliminating al-Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban and the East Turkmenistan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

Military action against North Korea an option for U.S. (Register and Login to read Full News)

:: Business and Economy ::

Fresh DGCA norms for pilots taking naps

  • The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued fresh guidelines for airlines to address communication lag while pilots are taking controlled rest during the flight.
  • The aviation regulator said the guidelines have been issued “in the wake of two incidents of radio communication failure involving Jet Airways and Air India aircraft in the European airspace”.
  • Both the London-bound planes had to be escorted by air force jets after they lost contact with the air traffic control.
  • The DGCA has asked airlines to maintain speaker volume “at an appropriate level” and not to switch it off or keep it at minimum level during the flight.

IDSA seeks action to stop unauthorised sale in e-commerce firms (Register and Login to read Full News)

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