Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 8 DECEMBER 2018

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 8 DECEMBER 2018


Centre wants objectionable contents removed from social media sites

  •  The Union government has asked social media platforms to emulate the practices they follow in the U.K. in using tools based on Artificial Intelligence to identify and take down content that incites people to commit violence, a senior Home Ministry official said on Friday.
  •  On a request was made by a law enforcement agency, the Ministry has reduced the time limit to take down such posts and videos to about four hours from about 36 hours at present.
  •  The official said that after the government held several meetings with representatives from Google, WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and others, the compliance rates in honouring requests by law enforcement agencies have gone up from 60% to 80%.
  •  The Ministry had asked Twitter to produce telephone numbers and other identifiable sources that could help track suspicious accounts, whenever asked for by law enforcement agencies.
  •  The Centre has stepped up its interactions with social media platforms to arrest the spread of rumours, and messages inciting unrest, cybercrimes and other activities that could be detrimental to national security. In May and June, over 20 people have been lynched based on fake posts or rumours floating on WhatsApp.
  •  WhatsApp has been asked to keep the complete trail of forwarding of unlawful content and share “meta data” with law enforcement agencies to identify the user who “originated the content.”

MS Swaminathan sees GM crops as a failure

  •  A research paper co-authored by leading agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan, which describes Bt cotton as a ‘failure,’ was criticised by India’s Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA), K .VijayRaghavan as ‘deeply flawed.’
  •  The article is a review of crop development in India and transgenic crops — particularly Bt cotton, the stalled Btbrinjal as well as DMH-11, a transgenic mustard hybrid. The latter two have been cleared by scientific regulators but not by the Centre.
  •  “There is no doubt that GE (genetically engineered) Bt cotton has failed in India. It has failed as a sustainable agriculture technology and has therefore also failed to provide livelihood security for cotton farmers who are mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers,” according to the paper.
  •  “The precautionary principle (PP) has been done away with and no science-based and rigorous biosafety protocols and evaluation of GM crops are in place.”
  •  The piece also raises questions on the genetic engineering technology itself on the grounds that it raises the cost of sowing, and the insertion of foreign genes (in the plant) could lead to ‘molecular and cellular events not precisely understood.’
  •  Mr. Swaminathan, credited with leading India’s Green Revolution, has in recent years advocated ‘sustainable agriculture’ and said the government should only use genetic engineering as a last resort. “Swaminathanemphasised that genetic engineering technology is supplementary and must be needbased. Only in very rare circumstance (less than 1%) may there arise a need for the use of this technology,” according to the paper.


SEBI chief says liquidity issue of NBFC’s severe

  •  The liquidity stress affecting non-banking finance companies and housing finance companies since September 2018 has abated significantly, and the Indian markets have performed better than several developed markets despite high global volatility this year, the chief of India’s stock market regulator Ajay Tyagi said on Friday.
  •  The Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Chairman said that the role of capital markets in facilitating fund raising to sustain the country’s economic growth momentum ‘becomes even more important given the stress in the banking sector.’
  •  The volatility in global markets, caused by factors such as uncertainty in oil prices, change in monetary policy stance of central banks like the U.S. Federal Reserves and U.S.-China trade tensions, is likely to persist, Mr. Tyagi said at a financial markets summit.
  •  Despite the high volatility in the Indian markets compared with ‘previous years when markets were just rising and people almost thought they provide assured returns, the performance of Indian capital markets has been comparable, not much worse than the comparable jurisdictions,’ Mr. Tyagi said.
  •  The SEBI chief said that the regulator has moved ‘in a timely manner’ ‘by government standards’ on implementing reforms in the corporate governance framework proposed by a committee headed by UdayKotak.
  •  Steps are afoot to enhance the focus on independent directors, prescribe the separation of CEO, MD and chairperson roles, enhance the role of audit, nomination and remuneration and risk management committees as well as strengthening disclosures of related-party transactions, he said.

FAO council approves India’s proposal to observe international year of millets

  •  Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare ShriRadha Mohan Singh has said that the 160th session of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Council, currently underway in Rome, approved India’s proposal to observe an International Year of Millets in 2023. On behalf of all countrymen the minister conveyed his gratitude to the countries who voiced their support.
  •  He added that this will enhance global awareness to bring back these nutri-cereals to the plate, for food and nutrition security and hence increase production for resilience to challenges posed globally by climate change.
  •  The Minister said that in the Modi regime, India’s prowess in agriculture diplomacy has grown. This international endorsement comes in the backdrop of India celebrating 2018 as the National Year of Millets for promoting cultivation and consumption of these nutri-cereals.
  •  This is further supported by increase in Minimum Support Prices (MSP) of millets. Millets consists of Jowar, Bajra, Ragi and minor millets together termed as nutri-cereals.
  •  Through the Department of Food and Public Distribution, State Governments are allowed to procure jowar, bajra, maize and ragi from farmers at MSP.
  •  In addition, the FAO Council also approved India’s membership to the Executive Board of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) for 2020 and 2021 for which the Minister expressed his deepest gratitude to other member countries for their support.

Online Coaching for UPSC PRE Exam

General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials


US resolution on Hamas movement fails at the UN

  •  A U.S. resolution championed by Ambassador Nikki Haley to condemn the Palestinian Hamas movement at the United Nations for firing rockets at Israel failed to win enough votes for adoption on Thursday.
  •  The proposed measure won 87 votes in the General Assembly, falling short of a two-thirds majority. Fifty-eight countries opposed the measure and 32 abstained.
  •  Ms. Haley, who steps down from her post at the end of the year, has repeatedly accused the United Nations of having an anti-Israel bias and has defended Israel in its latest confrontation with Hamas, the Islamist militant group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.
  •  It was the first proposed resolution condemning Hamas to be presented to the 193-nation assembly, which has been meeting since 1946.
  •  Speaking ahead of the vote, Ms. Haley said the measure “would right a historic wrong” and “put the General Assembly on the side of truth and balance in the effort to achieve peace in the Middle East.”
  •  “The question before us now is whether the UN thinks terrorism is acceptable if, and only if, it is directed against Israel,” she told the assembly.
  •  Hamas praised the outcome of the vote, describing it as a “slap” to President Donald Trump's administration, which has taken a firm pro-Israeli stance in addressing the Middle East peace process.

China hopeful in sorting out US-North Korea concerns

  •  Chinese President Xi Jinping told North Korea's Foreign Minister on Friday that he hoped Pyongyang and Washington will address each other's concerns so that peace talks on the Korean peninsula “continue to make positive progress”.
  •  Mr. Xi met with Ri Yong Ho in Beijing as denuclearisation talks have made little progress since a historic June summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
  •  “The international and regional situation as well as the situation on the Korean peninsula remains in flux, so timely exchanges and the coordination of positions between China and North Korea are still extremely essential,” said Mr. Xi.
  •  Talks on nuclear disarmament on the Korean peninsula between the U.S. and North Korea have stalled, with Washington pushing to maintain sanctions until its “final, fully verified denuclearisation” and Pyongyang condemning U.S. demands as “gangster-like.”


NITI Aayog launches global hackathon on AI

  •  With the vision to further expand the idea of‘Artificial Intelligence, AI for All’ articulated in the National AI Strategy, NITI Aayogorganiseshackathons to source sustainable, innovative and technologically-enabled solutions to address various challenges in the development space.
  •  Taking the initiative forward, NITI Aayog is now partnering with Perlin – a Singapore-based AI start up - to launch the ‘AI 4 All Global Hackathon’, and is inviting developers, students, start-ups and companies to develop AI applications to make significant positive social and economic impact for India.
  •  The challenge question seeks to develop solutions inDistributed Computing and Privacy Preserving techniques, such as multi-party computation, in AI. The objective of this hackathon is to promote awareness and subsequently develop solutions that deliver the twin benefit of efficient computing to address the infrastructure challenges, while also not compromising on privacy of data for training AI algorithms.
  •  NITI Aayog organized its first hackathon, ‘MoveHack’ in August, on the sidelines of the Global Mobility Summit 2018, with the aim of garnering cutting-edge mobility applications. Over 2,000 submissions were received out of which the Top 10 teams were awarded at the summit.


National Champion Siddharth wins Gondwana cup 2018

  •  National champion SiddharthVishwakarma beat JayeshPungliya 6-4, 7-6(5) in the final of the Gondwana Cup Rs. 10,00,000 AITA ranking men’s tennis tournament at the VIP Club on Friday.
  •  It was the best fight that Siddharth had in the whole tournament, as he had dropped a total of only 16 games in winning the earlier four rounds.
  •  The doubles title was bagged by SahilGaware and MohitMayur who beat ParikshitSomani and YashYadav 10-7 in the super tie-break.

Click Here for Old Current Affairs Archive

This is a Part of Online Coaching Programme for UPSC Exam

Buy Printed Study Material for UPSC PRELIMS EXAM

Join Test Series for IAS (Pre.) Exam