Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 24 DECEMBER 2018

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 24 DECEMBER 2018


Centre firm on bringing in triple talaq law

  •  Prime Minister NarendraModi reiterated on Saturday his government’s commitment to bring a law on triple talaq to ensure that rights of women are protected.
  •  “We have made efforts to ensure that women from all walks of life get security and freedom. Despite strong protests from extremists and Opposition parties, the government is committed to bringing a law on triple talaq,” he said.
  •  Mr.Modi also talked about measures and initiatives his government had taken for women’s empowerment, safety and freedom. Owing to his government’s efforts, a strong Act had been enacted to award death sentence to those accused of rape.
  •  “We have given priority to women in the financial inclusion programme, under which more than 50% of Jan Dhan bank accounts have been opened in the name of women.”
  •  He said cooking gas connections would be given to poor families in rural areas. Another flagship scheme of his government, building toilets in rural areas, had been lauded across the world.
  •  “Today in the Central government, there are two women members in the prestigious and crucial Cabinet Committee on Security. This has happened for the first time,” he said. He also mentioned Foreign Minister SushmaSwaraj and Defence Minister NirmalaSitharaman.

EC moots new electoral reforms

  •  The Election Commission is set to make a fresh push for electoral reforms with the government, including making filing of false declaration a ground for disqualification and putting a cap on expenditure by candidates in Legislative Council polls.
  •  Highly placed sources in the commission said its officials would raise the subject of making bribery during the election period a cognisable offence at the meeting planned with Legislative Secretary G. NarayanaRaju after the winter session of Parliament ends.
  •  The sources said the Commission would ask the Ministry to take a call on its demand to extend constitutional protection to the two Election Commissioners on the lines of the provision given to the Chief Election Commissioner.
  •  A Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only through impeachment by Parliament. The President can remove the Election Commissioners based on the recommendation of the CEC.
  •  Referring to the issue of false declarations, the sources said that, as of now, the penalty was a jail term of six months. But the EC wants to make it into an “electoral offence”.
  •  Conviction in an electoral offence is a ground for disqualification. “Jail term of six months does not instil fear. Disqualification would,” another official said.


Finance commission concerned about fiscal discipline

  •  Finance Commission Chairman N.K. Singh on Saturday sounded a note of caution against fiscal slippage, saying it would adversely impact the country’s macroeconomic stability as well as investment climate.
  •  The remarks come in the backdrop of States such as Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, which witnessed a change of government, announcing farm loan waivers.
  •  Mr. Singh expressed apprehension that some States are not according priority to fiscal discipline, which was not the case earlier.He also emphasised the need to strengthen the Centre-State relationship through institutional mechanisms.
  •  Addressing the ‘Skoch Summit’ here, he said the government should look at ways to further accelerate the reforms process pertaining to the factors of production — labour, land, capital.
  •  He said India’s per capita income is approaching the $2,000 mark and it would increase further, but there will still be challenges.
  •  “Yes, India’s per capita income will go up, yes India will be transformed by 2030 or 2040, but all said and done India will still remain relatively poor,” he said.

GST council cuts rates, rationalises slab

  •  The Goods and Services Tax Council cut rates on 17 items and six types of services during its 31st meeting on Saturday, leaving only one common use item cement in the 28% bracket.
  •  Cutting rates on cement would have a significant impact on revenues and so the Council decided to hold off on it, Finance Minister ArunJaitley said.
  •  Seven items that saw tax rates being slashed from the 28% bracket are certain vehicle parts used in agriculture, monitors and TVs up to 32 inches, retreaded tyres, power banks, digital cameras, videogame consoles (all from 28% to 18%), and parts and accessories for the carriages for disabled persons (from 28% to 5%).
  •  Mr Jaitley said a Group of Ministers, in consultation with the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), will study the revenue data from the available portions of the first two years of GST and submit its analysis to the Council. The revenue impact of Saturday’s rate cuts over the full fiscal year would be ₹5,500 crore, he added.
  •  The GST Council took another decision aimed at putting to rest a large part of the confusion surrounding the applicability of the tax. At the moment, each State has an Advance Ruling Authority (ARAs) that can issue a ruling on any issue pertaining to GST rates and their applicability. Often, different ARAs deliver conflicting judgements.

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Turkey and US will agree to support Syria even after US troop withdrawals

  •  Turkish President RecepTayyipErdogan and US counterpart Donald Trump have agreed to prevent a power vacuum in Syria after American ground forces withdraw.
  •  Turkish Presidency in a statement said that both the leaders in a phone conversation yesterday agreed to ensure coordination between their countries' military, diplomatic and other officials to avoid a power vacuum which could result following any abuse of the withdrawal and transition phase in Syria.
  •  Mr Trump tweeted that the two leaders had a long and productive call and also discussed the Islamic State group and heavily expanded trade. On Friday, he announced plans to pull the 2,000 US troops out of Syria, where they have been helping coordinate a multinational fight against Islamic State.
  •  Trump's decision shocked the US allies, while Turkey lauded it. An American pullout would allow Turkish troops to move against the hardened Kurdish fighters in Syria as Kurdish fighters are deemed as terrorists by the Ankara.

Srilankan northern provinces affected by heavy flash floods

  •  Nearly 50,000 people have been affected by recent flash floods in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, the Disaster Management Centre said on Sunday.
  •  Following sudden, heavy showers on last week, flash floods hit parts of Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Vavuniya and Jaffna districts. Over 13,000 families in the Tamil-majority area have been impacted, authorities said.
  •  According to SuntharamArumainayaham, Kilinochchi Government Agent (the GA corresponds to the district collector in India), some 2,500 families in the district, displaced in the floods, are currently staying at 22 welfare centres.
  •  “Water is gradually receding today [Sunday] after some respite from the heavy rain. But it will take a few days for the people to return to their homes. Many houses have been damaged, we will need additional medical care and sanitation facilities, we are looking into all that now,” he told.
  •  While several districts in Sri Lanka have experienced extreme weather in the last couple of years, Kilinochchi, in particular, has borne the brunt of wavering and severe climatic conditions.
  •  Falling production and poverty pushed many farmers and their families to resort to micro-finance loans that ended up trapping them in massive debts. And now, it is one of the worst-affected areas in the flash floods.


China launches communication satellite to provide broadband services

  •  China on December 22 launched its first communication satellite to provide broadband internet services worldwide in an apparent bid to rival Google and other international firms.
  •  The satellite was launched from a Long March 11 carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in north-western China and is the first in the Hongyun project planned by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. (CASIC).
  •  The Hongyun project, started in September 2016, aims to build a space-based communications network to provide broadband internet connectivity to users around the world, especially those in the underserved regions.
  •  The concept of running a low-cost, high-performance satellite network to provide space-based communications and internet services has become popular globally among industry players.
  •  Currently, many foreign tech companies, including Google, SpaceX, OneWeb and Telesat, have already launched plans to use satellites to provide free internet access.
  •  Last month, a Chinese internet technology firm unveiled the first satellite in a constellation plan comprising of 272 satellites to provide free WiFi service worldwide.


Seven year old to captain Australia

  •  Archie Schiller, the seven-year-old leg-spinner spinner inducted into the Australian team earlier this month, is set to co-captain the side alongside Tim Paine in the in the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
  •  The announcement was made by Paine at an event in Yarra Park on Saturday, the day the bubbly youngster turned seven. “It’s great to have him around and we look forward to his debut on Boxing Day,” said Paine.
  •  Archie has faulty heart valves, which was discovered when he was three months old, leading to irregular beating of the heart and further life-threatening complications. He has already undergone 13 surgeries.

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