Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 27 DECEMBER 2018

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 27 DECEMBER 2018


NITI Aayog to release delta ranking under aspirational district programme

  •  NITI Aayog will release the Second Delta Ranking of the Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP) .Shri Amitabh Kant, CEO NITI Aayog will release the Second Delta Ranking under ADP and brief the media on this occasion.
  •  The districts have been ranked in a transparent basis on parameters across Health & Nutrition, Education, Agriculture & Water Resources, Financial Inclusion & Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure through key performance indicators.
  •  The rankings, for the first time, will also factor in inputs from household survey conducted by NITI Aayog’s knowledge partners, namely, TATA Trusts and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).
  •  The Aspirational District Programme was launched by the Prime Minister on January 5, 2018. It aims to rapidly transform the districts that have shown relatively lesser progress in key social areas and have emerged as pockets of under-development, thereby posing a challenge to ensure balanced regional development.
  •  The first Delta ranking for the Aspirational Districts was released in June 2018.It ranked the Aspirational Districts on improved performance across five developmental areas of Health and Nutrition, Education, Agriculture and Water Resources, Financial Inclusion and Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure, over the months of April and May 2018, on the basis of self-reported data.

EC bans all kinds of tobacco near polling booths for 2019 elections

  •  The Election Commission has banned all kinds of tobacco in polling booths during next year's general elections, in a bid to effectively implement tobacco control laws in the country.
  •  The Commission has asked all states and Union Territories to issue instructions to district electoral officers-cum-district magistrates to ensure prohibition of not just smoking, but also the use of chewable tobacco in all polling booths.
  •  The Commission's guidelines said all the polling booths in country to be declared tobacco free and not just smoke free and hence use of bidi, cigarette, gutkha, chewable tobacco are prohibited in all polling booth. As per the guidelines, each polling booth will have a banner put up, saying the same.
  •  The presiding officer of each polling booth will be nominated as nodal officer for ensuring tobacco-free status at their booths. All district tobacco control cells will supervise and monitor this campaign to sensitise people on ill effects of tobacco.


Government reviews guidelines for FDI in e-commerce market

  •  Government has reviewed guidelines for Foreign Direct Investment in E- commerce companies to protect the interests of domestic players. It has taken host of steps and barred e-commerce companies from selling products of the companies in which they have stake.
  •  In a statement, the Commerce and Industry Ministry said, it has also prohibited e-commerce companies from entering into an agreement for exclusive sale of products.
  •  Cash back provided to buyers by group companies of marketplace entity shall be fair and non-discriminatory. The Ministry said, E-commerce entities providing marketplace will not directly or indirectly influence the sale price of goods or services and shall maintain level playing field. These decision will come into effect from 1st of February, 2019.
  •  The decision comes in the backdrop of several complaints being flagged by domestic traders on heavy discounts being given by e-commerce players to consumers. Traders have welcomed the government's move to tighten norms for sale of products by e-commerce firms.

Manufacturing sector posts growth in second quarter

  •  The manufacturing sector, particularly the textile, iron and steel segments, maintained the pace of sales growth in the second quarter of 2018-19 compared with the year-earlier period, the RBI said on Wednesday.
  •  Demand conditions in the manufacturing sector “maintained its pace in the September quarter 2018-19 as reflected in strong sales growth (year-on-year),” as per the RBI analysis of 2,700 listed private sector non-financial companies.
  •  The central bank said heavy moderation was seen in the sales growth of motor vehicles and other transport equipment, driven in part by a large adverse base effect, and pharmaceutical and medicine industries.
  •  The information technology (IT) sector also recorded further improvement in sales growth over the year-ago period.
  •  The manufacturing sector continued to record strong growth in net profit, which received support from other income.
  •  On the expenditure front, manufacturing companies continued to face rising input cost (cost of raw materials, staff cost) pressures. In the case of the IT sector, staff costs accelerated in tandem with the improvement in sales growth, the RBI said.

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Iran holds talks with Taliban leaders

  •  Iran has met with the Afghan Taliban, a top Iranian security official said on Wednesday, according to the Tasnim news agency, just days after the militants attended reconciliation talks in the UAE.
  •  Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, made the announcement while on a visit to Kabul, several Iranian agencies reported. “The Afghan government has been informed of the communications and talks carried out with the Taliban, and this process will continue,” he said, quoted by Tasnim. No details on where the talks took place were given by the news agency, which is considered close to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
  •  The announcement follows reconciliation talks last week between the U.S. and Taliban officials in the UAE.
  •  Iran and Afghanistan share a nearly 600-mile border, and have a had a complex relationship in recent years. Tehran has long supported its co-religionists in Afghanistan, the Shia Hazara minority, who were violently persecuted by the Taliban during its rule in the 1990s.
  •  Iran worked alongside the United States and Western powers to help drive out the Taliban after the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

Russia test fires hypersonic missile

  •  Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday hailed final tests of a hypersonic missile, which he had earlier said would render existing missile systems obsolete.
  •  “On my instructions, the Ministry of Defence prepared and conducted a final test of this system. This has just been completed with absolute success,” Mr. Putin said, during a televised meeting with members of the government.
  •  The Kremlin told Russian news agencies that the test had taken place in far eastern Kamchatka. Mr. Putin had unveiled features of the Avangard during his annual address in March, which he said would be part of a new generation of “invincible” weaponry.
  •  The hypersonic missile could fly at 20 times the speed of sound and manoeuvre up and down, meaning that it could breach defence systems, he had said at the time.
  •  The final test comes after U.S. President Donald Trump announced plans to pull out of a key Cold War-era nuclear weapons pact, the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Mr. Putin has laid out plans to develop missiles banned under the deal if the U.S. abandons it.


Japan to withdraw from international Whaling commission

  •  Japan on Wednesday said it is withdrawing from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and will resume commercial whaling next year, in a move expected to spark international criticism.
  •  The announcement had been widely expected and comes after Japan failed in a bid earlier this year to convince the IWC to allow it to resume commercial whaling.
  •  Tokyo has repeatedly threatened to pull out of the body, and has been regularly criticised for catching hundreds of whales a year for “scientific research” despite being a signatory to a moratorium on hunting the animals.
  •  Leaving the IWC means Japanese whalers will be able to resume hunting in Japanese coastal waters of minke and other whales currently protected by the IWC.
  •  The IWC, established in 1946 to conserve and manage the world’s whale and cetacean population, introduced a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986.
  •  Tokyo has long exploited a loophole allowing whales to be killed for “scientific research” and says it is trying to prove the population is large enough to sustain a return to commercial hunting.


Ricky Ponting inducted into ICC hall of fame

  •  Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting was formally inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame on Wednesday.
  •  To mark the occasion, Ponting received his commemorative cap from compatriot ICC Cricket Hall of Famer, Glenn McGrath, during the tea break on the opening day of the third Test against India at the MCG.
  •  Ponting was named in the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame along with former India captain Rahul Dravid and England woman wicketkeeper-batter Claire Taylor during the ICC Annual Conference in Dublin in July. Ponting could not attend the ICC conference

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