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Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 6 December 2017

Daily Current Affairs for IAS Exams

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 6 December 2017


SC refused to defer the hearing in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute

  • The Supreme Court refused requests by appellant parties belonging to the minority community to defer the hearing in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute till after July 15, 2019, that is, post the next general elections.
  • On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the demolition of the 16th century Babri Masjid by kar sevaks , a Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, remained undeterred by submissions that every day of the Ayodhya title dispute hearing in the Supreme Court would invite serious repercussions across the country.
  • The Bench fixed the date for final hearing on February 8, 2018. The court did not entertain, for now, a plea to refer the 13 appeals, including one filed by the U.P. Sunni Central Waqf Board, to a five-judge Constitution Bench.
  • The appeals are against a September 2010 judgment delivered by a three-judge Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court for a three-way partition of the disputed site.
  • The appellants said the dispute was not just any other civil suit but probably the most important case in the history of India, which would “decide the future of the polity”.
    Govt announced incentives worth Rs. 8,450 crore to boost exports of goods and services
  • The government announced incentives worth Rs. 8,450 crore to boost exports of goods and services — mainly from labour-intensive segments and the MSME— and to increase employment generation and value-addition.
  • The incentives were announced as part of the mid-term review of the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP).
  • The move comes at a time when India’s shipments shrank in October — the first after 14 consecutive months of positive growth — due to the impact of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
  • “The FTP will continue to be reviewed and evaluated regularly for addressing concerns of the exporters, simplification of procedures and for promotion of exports,” an official statement said.
  • The FTP for the period 2015-2020 had set an ambitious target of $900 billion for India’s exports of goods and services by 2019-20. It also aimed to raise India’s share in world exports from 2% to 3.5%.
  • The FTP mid-term review was postponed to incorporate feedback from exporters regarding GST.

India and China set the goal of leading a new wave of globalisation

  • In the first major follow-up to the September talks in Xiamen between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, top economic planners of India and China set the goal of leading a new wave of globalisation by synchronising their emerging economies.
  • NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar and his Chinese counterpart Li Wei, president of the Development Research Council (DRC) — the Chinese Cabinet’s top official think tank — began talks based on a firm common understanding.
  • They agreed that the two countries must work together to rescue globalisation from neo-protectionist tendencies in the U.S., Europe or anywhere else in the world.
  • Mr. Kumar said an open, liberal and rule-based globalisation, wherein India and China could play a defining role, was necessary for prosperity and global political stability.
  • He underscored the urgency of India-China partnership because of rising protectionism.
  • The two sides also discussed the latest innovations in electric vehicles, clean energy, higher education and Special Economic Zones.

Govt amended rules to allow the court to constitute single member NGT Benches

  • In a bid to address the festering problem of vacancies in the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the government has amended rules to allow the court to constitute single member Benches.
  • Current rules require that every Bench of the NGT consist of “two or more” members and is made up of at least one judicial and one expert member.
  • The balance of judicial and independent experts was necessary to ensure that technical aspects of disputes were adequately addressed.
  • The NGT specialises in adjudicating on matters relating to environment, forests and harm to people or property due to the neglect of environmental obligations of infrastructure projects.
  • A senior official in the Environment Ministry said this was a ‘stop gap’ arrangement, but emphasised that this didn’t imply a chairperson could now appoint a new member.

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Global Education Monitoring Report 2017-18 says Pak glorifying war

  • The Global Education Monitoring Report 2017-18 of the UNESCO expresses concern over school textbooks in many countries glorifying war and military heroes rather than teaching peace, non-violence and reconciliation.
  • It says that that just 10% of the textbooks across the world include explicit statements on the need for conflict prevention and resolution.
  • The report offers the example of textbooks in Pakistan that focus on militarism, wars with India and differences between Hindus and Muslims.
  • “Textbooks that glorify war and military heroes, exclude pluralistic perspectives or undermine other peoples or ethnicities can make teaching peace, non-violence and reconciliation difficult,” says the report.
  • “In Pakistan, textbooks have been criticised for normalising militarism and war and including biases and historical errors and distortions. Prominent Pakistanis other than military heroes and nationalist movement leaders are often excluded.”
  • It adds, “Pakistani textbooks published after a 2006 curriculum reform still emphasised wars with India and largely ignored peace initiatives.
  • They also perpetuated a narrative of conflict and historic grievances between Muslims and Hindus, rather than discussing the potential for conflict resolution and reconciliation.”
  • Seeing deterioration in Indian textbooks, too, on this ground, the report says, “For their part, Indian history textbooks from 2002 put the blame on Pakistan and contained clear bias against Muslim elements in the region’s history.”
    China has decided to temporarily stop funding at least three major projects in Pakistan
  • China has decided to temporarily stop funding at least three major road projects in Pakistan, being built as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, following reports of corruption.
  • The decision of the Chinese government was conveyed to Pakistan in a meeting held in November and the existing procedure for release of funds had been abolished.
  • He also claimed that Chinese side was quite disturbed with media reports, published in Pakistan, about corruption in the CPEC projects and and that was the reason Beijing has temporarily halted release of funds for the corridor.

UAE formed a new economic and partnership group with Saudi Arabia

  • The UAE announced it has formed a new economic and partnership group with Saudi Arabia, separate from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a move that could undermine the council amid a diplomatic crisis with Qatar.
  • The Emirati Foreign Ministry announcement, just hours ahead of a GCC meeting in Kuwait, said the new “joint cooperation committee” was approved by the UAE’s ruler and President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nayhan.
  • It wasn’t immediately clear how the development could affect the six-member GCC meeting, which is expected to focus on the Qatar issue. Half of the GCC members are boycotting Doha.
  • The Emirati Ministry said the new “committee is assigned to cooperate and coordinate between the UAE and Saudi Arabia in all military, political, economic, trade and cultural fields, as well as others, in the interest of the two countries.”
  • The UAE and Saudi Arabia have cultivated even-closer ties in recent years. Emirati troops are deeply involved in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
  • Abu Dhabi’s powerful Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Zayed al-Nayhan, also is believed to have a closer relationship with Saudi Arabia’s young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
  • The Emirati announcement did not say whether any other Gulf Arab countries would be invited to join the new group.
    Business and Economy

Business activity in the services sector contracted in November

  • Business activity in the services sector contracted in November, following two months of growth, primarily due to the Goods and Services Tax, according to a private sector survey.
  • The Nikkei India Services Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 48.5 in November from 51.7 in October. A reading that exceeds 50 implies expansion while one below 50 denotes a contraction.
  • “The Indian service sector dipped into contraction territory during November, following growth in the previous two months,” the report said.
  • “This was matched by a reduction in new work. Panellists widely blamed the deterioration in business performance to the goods and service tax (GST). Meanwhile, cost pressures intensified during the latest survey period.”
  • “Underlying data highlighted that service activity fell in response to a drop in new business during November,” the report added.
  • “According to anecdotal evidence, July’s GST continued to affect businesses as it led to sluggish demand and lower customer turnout. As with the case with activity, the rate of contraction in new work was modest.”
  • However, with manufacturing activity offsetting the poor performance of the services sector, private sector output rose for the third consecutive month in November.
  • The Nikkei Composite Output Index fell from 51.3 in October to a three-month low of 50.3 in November, however remaining in the expansion side.
  • The poor activity in the services sector is also borne out by official data released by the government.
  • The second quarter GDP data released last week showed that growth in private sector services gross value added (GVA) fell from 7.4% in the June quarter to 6.7% year-on-year.

RBI warned the public of the risks of virtual currencies

  • Even as bitcoin touches new highs, fuelling investor interest, the Reserve Bank of India warned the public of the risks of virtual currencies (VCs).
  • Citing its earlier warnings on the subject, the central bank said, “in the wake of significant spurt in the valuation of many VCs and rapid growth in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), RBI reiterates the concerns.”
  • It may be noted that the price of a single bitcoin, which is not regulated by any monetary authority, had skyrocketed to up to $11,000 last week in a rally which puzzled watchers.
  • “There is no underlying or backing of any asset for VCs,” the bank had said in a December 24, 2013 note.

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