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    Current Affair & GK Notes available free - 26 December 2017

    Current Affairs 25th December 2017  

     

    Important Points

    ·         Russia to build nuclear power plant in Sudan by - Nuclear agency Rosatom

     

    ·         Land exploration satellite launched by – China

     

    ·         IndiGo and SpiceJet to start using Terminal 2, instructed by - Delhi High Court

     

    ·         North Korea says new U.N. sanctions an act of war on - 24th December 2017

     

    Details

     

    Russia to build nuclear power plant in Sudan by - Nuclear agency Rosatom

    Russia signed an agreement with Sudan to build a nuclear power plant in the nation on 21st December 2017.Russia’s nuclear agency Rosatom shared this information. Rusatom Overseas, a branch of Rosatom and Sudan's electricity ministry in Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan signed this deal. 

    The agreement followed up on the high-level meeting that took place between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Sudan counterpart Omar al-Bashir in November 2017.

    This nuclear technology's development will be allowing Sudan to deal with its energy security problem. The agreement also has strategic implications, as it will be determining the nature of relations between Russia and Sudan for a long time to come.

    The Sudanese President had also asked for Russia to protect Sudan from the "aggressive acts" of the United States during Vladimir Putin’s visit to Sudan.

    Bashir also expressed his wish to strengthen military ties with country - Russia and praised Moscow's military campaign in Syria.
    The Sudanese President is wanted by the ICC (International Criminal Court) for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity related to the conflict in Darfur, which claimed at least 300,000 lives.

     

    Land exploration satellite launched by – China

    A land exploration satellite into a preset orbit for remote sensing operations launched by China. It was conducted from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert, northwest China's Gansu Province during early morning hours.

     

    Important Objectives

    ·         The satellite will be mainly used for remote sensing exploration of land resources.

    ·         Long march-2D rocket carried this out.

    ·         This launch was the 259th mission of the Long March rocket series.

     

    Did you know?

    China had launched remote sensing satellites which are designed

    to conduct electromagnetic probes and other experiments successfully on 25th November 2017.

     

    IndiGo and SpiceJet to start using Terminal 2, instructed by - Delhi High Court

    Indigo Airline passengers flying to and from Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru and other domestic locations will now have to utilize Terminal 2 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport as the Delhi High Court has refused its petition challenging the guidelines of DIAL, explaining that traffic load at Terminal-1 was heavy beyond its capacity. SpiceJet, which was later impleaded as party in the matter, was also denied any relief. Present year, Delhi International Airline Limited had released directions to different airlines to operate flights to and from Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru and other domestic locations from Terminal-2 by 4 th January 2018.

     

    These instructions were opposed by Indigo that was refused by the court. The court however extended the final dates to 15 th February as the earlier limit for starting the operations is near and is supposed to expire soon. Indigo recognised passenger's inconvenience due to changes in the operations and to that the court replied that the argument does not hold much weightage. Delhi International Airline Limited informed the court that during the re-development of Terminal-1, there would be decrease in the boarding gates from 15 to 10 and aircraft parking places from 55 to 33, reducing the capacity of Terminal-1 to 13 mppa only.

     

    With additional estimate, the potetial can be brought up to 17 million passengers per year. DIAL also highlighted that peak fog season in the month of January can causes delay in the flights, that will result in an increased load on the structure of the terminal, and could risk the safety of passengers and flights performances.

     

    North Korea says new U.N. sanctions an act of war on - 24th December 2017

    The current U.N. sanctions opposition to North Korea are an act of war and equivalent to a complete economic blockade against the nation, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry informed on 24th December 2017, frightening to punish those who assist the measure. The U.N. Security Council without opposition applied new sanctions on North Korea on 22nd December 2017 for its latest intercontinental ballistic missile test, looking forward to limit its access to refined petroleum and crude oil and its incomes from workers outside.

     

    The U.N. resolution looks forward to restrict approximately 90 percent of refined petroleum exports to North Korea by capping them at 500,000 barrels per year and, in a quick change, requests the repatriation of North Koreans working outside within 2 years, instead of 1 year as earlier proposed.

     

    Editorial: A capital mistake

     

     


    Context:

    On 6 December 2017, United States President announced that the United States would officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He also stated that a new building for the U.S. embassy would be built in Jerusalem.

     

    The decision was criticized by the majority of international leaders, including the European Union‘s foreign policy chief. A motion condemning the move was proposed in the United Nations Security Council, but was vetoed by the United States after a 14-1 vote. The United Nations General Assembly later passed a motion 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions, condemning US president’s announcement.

    Never before in the history of the UN has a member state threatened, so publicly and so inelegantly, fellow member states with dire consequences if they did not fall in line with its position as the U.S.

     

    Global voice of dissent against the US President’s decision:

    Reacting to US recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, External Affairs Ministry said that India’s position is shaped by its views and interests, and not determined by any third country.

    §  UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, the holy city is the final-status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations.

    §  Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said, the decision tantamount to the United States abdicating its role as a peace mediator after a decade of sponsoring the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

    §  Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Iran and Qatar have also denounced the US move.

    §  Saudi Arabia called it unjustified and irresponsible, while France and the UK said they did not support the decision.

    §  Hamas has called it a new uprising.

    §  Russia also expressed serious concern over the US decision, saying the move threatened security in the region.

     

    UN Security Council has convened a meeting in the wake of the US President’s decision.

     

    Washington vetoes draft UN resolution rejecting US decision on Jerusalem

    The United States has vetoed a draft UN resolution rejecting President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

     

    §  The veto was cast by US Ambassador after all 14 other Security Council members backed the measure.

    §  The veto highlighted Washington’s isolation over Mr Trump’s announcement that the US embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, effectively ignoring Palestinian claims on the city.

    §  Many of the key US allies backed the measure saying that any decision on the status of Jerusalem has no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded.

    §  Protests broke out across a number of Islamic countries after the US decision.

     

    Egypt had put forward the draft resolution which had included a call on all countries to refrain from opening embassies in Jerusalem.

     

    Jerusalem, a contentious issue

    The Jerusalem issue is easily the most contentious one between the Palestinians and the Israelis. There are other issues such as borders, sharing of waters, refugees, security, and so on. None of them is amenable to easy answers, but the Jerusalem problem is the most sensitive. Any attempt to unilaterally change its status will kill the peace process.

     

    U.S. President Donald Trump has obviously given priority to nourishing his core domestic constituency rather than worry about the concerns of his close allies, all of whom voted against the U.S., except Canada — though it did not side with its powerful neighbour and simply abstained.

    Immediate Reaction

     

    §  The immediate international reaction to Mr. Trump’s decision on Jerusalem was rather muted. Instead of condemning it, most voiced concern at the negative impact it would have on the peace process.

    §  Even several Arab countries were not very vocal in their criticism. But soon, the Arab street asserted itself and forced the governments to take a more robust position.

    §  Egypt seems to have played a lead role in this. It drafted a resolution which avoided mentioning the U.S. by name; that would have made it difficult for Britain and others to support the draft.

    §  After the veto in the Security Council, Egypt and Turkey lost no time in bringing the matter to an emergency session of the General Assembly, where there is no veto.

     

    India is among 128 countries voting in favour of UN General Assembly resolution

    The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital null and void.

    In all, 172 member states cast their votes. This means 21 countries did not vote at all. A few of them seem to have lost their right to vote because of arrears in payment of their mandatory dues to the organisation. The resolution passed with 128 votes in favour, a comfortable two-thirds majority. Nine voted against, and 35 abstained.

     

    §  The resolution stressed that Jerusalem was a final status issue to be resolved through negotiations.  

    §  The countries favouring the resolution also disregarded President Trump’s threat to cut off financial aid to those countries that backed the resolution.

     

    Strongly supporting Trump’s decision US Ambassador to the UN warned that the US may strip funding of those countries that voted against its Jerusalem move.

     

    §  India did not speak on the floor of the Assembly in New York, but after Mr. Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it had said that its Palestinian position was independent and consistent.

    §  It would be interesting to watch how the presidential threat works out in practice in the case of Pakistan which voted against the U.S.

    §  Among India’s neighbours, Bhutan abstained. This might be explained either by its desire to demonstrate its independence from India or not to alienate the U.S., or perhaps a combination of the two.

     

    Tilting the vote

    India’s vote in favour of the resolution was in line with its traditional policy in favour of a negotiated settlement for Jerusalem as part of a larger two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. The government, no doubt, analysed the cost-benefit ratio.

     

    1.       As for the Israel: India’s vote would have disappointed Israel and the U.S.

    §  It has excellent relations with Israel, as ought to be.

    §  But an objective analysis suggests that it is Israel which needs India more than the other way around.

    §  India buys at least a third of Israel’s defence production. India is also very important to Israel for diplomatic and political reasons.

     

    1.       As for the U.S., the interest is more mutual.

    §  We need American support for a few things such as the sale of their defence platforms and membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

    §  The U.S. has a huge interest in India’s markets; especially expensive military hardware.

    §  There is also the China factor. But since Mr. Trump has very recently described India as a leading global power and expressed his readiness to support it in reaching that status, India can perhaps relax.

    §  It is fortunate since it is not dependent on American aid, which can be cut off or reduced at will.

     

    Conclusion

    India supported to the creation of a Palestinian state according to UN Resolution 181 (1948). However, there had been some speculation that in the face of the U.S. threats over the resolution, as well as Mr. Netanyahu’s forthcoming visit to India in January, India would dilute its support to those principles in favour of close strategic ties with both nations.

     

    In choosing to vote for the resolution at the UNGA, India has shown clarity of purpose that also aligns with the broad global consensus.

     



    Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

     

    National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)


     

    Context: Since the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) was set up 18 months ago, over 4,300 cases have been filed at its various benches for resolution process, according to the Reserve Bank data. Of these, more than 500 applications seeking admission for insolvency proceedings were rejected, dismissed or withdrawn.

     

    About National Company Law Tribunal:

     

    What is it? National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) is a quasi-judicial body that will govern the companies in India. It was established under the Companies Act, 2013 and is a successor body of the Company Law Board.

     

    Powers: NCLT will have the same powers as assigned to the erstwhile Company Law Board (which are mostly related to dealing with oppression and mismanagement), Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR)(revival of sick companies) and powers related to winding up of companies (which was available only with the High Courts).

     

    Background: The setting up of NCLT as a specialized institution for corporate justice is based on the recommendations of the Justice Eradi Committee on Law Relating to Insolvency and Winding up of Companies.

     

     

    Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

     

    The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2017


     

    Context: 

    The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2017 has been introduced in the Parliament as a private member’s bill. Private members’ bills can be introduced by any member of Parliament who is not a minister but seldom get enacted.

     

    Highlights of the Bill:

     

    §  The Bill proposes at least three years of imprisonment for a public servant who inflicts torture on anybody for a confession or even for information that may lead to the detection of an offence. The punishment could be extended to ten years.

    §  A public servant who intentionally does any act to cause grievous harm to somebody, even if in police custody, shall be punished.

     

    Significance of this move:

    The proposed legislation fulfils India’s commitment, as confirmed to the United Nations, that “torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” are prohibited and constitute serious violations of human rights. The 152nd report of the Law Commission on “Custodial Crimes” had also recommended changes to the law to make torture punishable.

     

    Background:

    India is one of only eight countries out of 170 signatories to the United Nations convention against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment yet to ratify it.

     

    UN convention against torture:

    India has signed the UN Convention against torture way back in 1997. But, it has still not ratified it. The Convention defines torture as a criminal offence. The Convention requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture in any territory under their jurisdiction, and forbids states to transport people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured.

     

    Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

     

    UN imposes new sanctions on North Korea 


     

    The UN Security Council has unanimously voted to impose tough new sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s latest missile test. The restrictions, proposed by the US, are designed to prevent Pyongyang from furthering its nuclear programme. The move was a “significant ramping up” of sanctions against North Korea.

     

    The sanctions:

    The sanctions include a ban on nearly 90% of refined petroleum exports to North Korea. The resolution also orders North Koreans who work abroad to return to the country within 24 months.

    The resolution also contains a commitment to the resumption of “six-party talks”, leaving the door open for possible diplomatic negotiations. The six-party talks are a diplomatic effort, which aim to find a peaceful solution to security concerns in the Korean Peninsula. They involve North Korea, South Korea and the US, along with regional powers China, Japan and Russia. The last six-party talks were held in 2009.

     

    Intentions behind this move:

    The idea is to squeeze North Korea as tightly as possible to reduce its income, reduce its revenues, and in that way hopefully drive it to the negotiating table and also for it to stop its missile development process.

     

    Background:

    Last month, the US unveiled fresh sanctions against North Korea which it said were designed to limit the funding for its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. The measures targeted North Korean shipping operations and Chinese companies that trade with Pyongyang.

    The UN also approved new sanctions following North Korea’s nuclear test on 3 September. These measures restricted oil imports and banned textile exports – an attempt to starve the North of fuel and income for its weapons programmes.

    What necessitated this move?

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s government has conducted several missile tests this year, which have drawn condemnation from the international community. Recently, in November 2017, it had successfully conducted a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the US mainland. The missile is said to be the “most powerful ICBM” yet to be tested by the country. It was the third test of an ICBM by North Korea this year.

     

    North Korea’s reaction:

    It described the latest UN sanctions “as a violent breach of our republic’s sovereignty and an act of war that destroys the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and a wide region.

     

    Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

     

    Reservoir computing system 

    Scientists have developed a new type of neural network chip that can dramatically improve the efficiency of teaching machines to think like humans. The network is called- Reservoir Computing System.

     

    How was it created?

    Researchers from University of Michigan in the US created their system using memristors, which require less space and can be integrated more easily into existing silicon-based electronics. Memristors are a special type of resistive device that can both perform logic and store data.

     

    How it works?

    Researchers used a special memristor that memorises events only in the near history. Inspired by brains, neural networks are composed of neurons, or nodes, and synapses, the connections between nodes.

     

    To train a neural network for a task, a neural network takes in a large set of questions and the answers to those questions. In this process of what’s called supervised learning, the connections between nodes are weighted more heavily or lightly to minimise the amount of error in achieving the correct answer.

     

    Once trained, a neural network can then be tested without knowing the answer. For example, a system can process a new photo and correctly identify a human face, because it has learned the features of human faces from other photos in its training set.

     

    Significance of the system:

    Reservoir computing systems built with memristors can skip most of the expensive training process and still provide the network the capability to remember. This is because the most critical component of the system – the reservoir – does not require training.

     

    When a set of data is inputted into the reservoir, the reservoir identifies important time-related features of the data, and hands it off in a simpler format to a second network. This second network then only needs training like simpler neural networks, changing weights of the features and outputs that the first network passed on until it achieves an acceptable level of error.

     

    Applications:

    The system can predict words before they are said during conversation, and help predict future outcomes based on the present.

     

    Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

     

    India to have its own gravitational wave detector in 2025

     


    A new LIGO gravitational wave detector to measure ripples in the fabric of space and time is set to be built in India by 2025, in collaboration with universities from across the globe. The new Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detector will add to the two already operational in the US.

     

    Significance of this move: A third LIGO detector will help pinpoint the origin of the gravitational waves that are detected in future.

     

    Background:

    The LIGO detectors discovered the first gravitational waves produced by two giant merging blackholes last year. The research won a Nobel Prize in Physics this year.

     

    About LIGO:

    The observatory, described as “the most precise measuring device ever built,” is actually two facilities in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington. They were built and operated with funding from the National Science Foundation, which has spent $1.1 billion on LIGO over the course of several decades.

    The project is led by scientists from the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is supported by an international consortium of scientists and institutions.

     

    What are Gravitational Waves?

    Gravitational waves are the ripples in the pond of spacetime. The gravity of large objects warps space and time, or “spacetime” as physicists call it, the way a bowling ball changes the shape of a trampoline as it rolls around on it. Smaller objects will move differently as a result – like marbles spiraling toward a bowling-ball-sized dent in a trampoline instead of sitting on a flat surface.

     

    Why they are useful?

    These waves will be particularly useful for studying black holes (the existence of which was first implied by Einstein’s theory) and other dark objects, because they’ll give scientists a bright beacon to search for even when objects don’t emit actual light.

    With this, mapping the abundance of black holes and frequency of their mergers could get a lot easier. Since they pass through matter without interacting with it, gravitational waves would come to Earth carrying undistorted information about their origin. They could also improve methods for estimating the distances to other galaxies.

     

    Why it is difficult to detect these waves?

    The reason that gravitational waves have been so difficult to detect is that their effects are tinier than tiny. In fact, the signals they produce are so small that scientists struggle to remove enough background noise to confirm them.

     

    Einstein’s prediction:

    Albert Einstein predicted gravitational waves in his general theory of relativity a century ago. Under this theory, space and time are interwoven into something called “spacetime”. Einstein predicted that mass warps space-time through its gravitational force.

    When objects with mass accelerate, such as when two black holes spiral towards each other, they send waves along the curved space-time around them at the speed of light, like ripples on a pond. The more massive the object, the larger the wave and the easier for scientists to detect. Gravitational waves do not interact with matter and travel through the Universe completely unimpeded.

     

    Facts for Prelims:

     

    Country’s first AC suburban local train in Mumbai:

    The Indian Railways has flagged off the country’s first air-conditioned suburban local train for Mumbai commuters, 150 years after the first suburban local was hauled by a steam engine in 1867. Manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, the fully air-conditioned air-suspension coaches have a capacity of carrying nearly 6,000 commuters per rake, automatic door opening-closing system, LED lights, Emergency Talk Back System between commuters and guard besides a public address system and advanced GPS-based passenger information systems.

     

    Delhi Metro’s Magenta Line:

    Delhi metro is all set to inaugurate its first section of Magenta line. This line will connect between Botanical Garden and Kalkaji, reducing the travel time between Noida and South Delhi by about half an hour.

     

    Features: The Majenta Line will have, for the first time in India, trains that will run unattended. However, there would be roving attendants. Similarly, the platform screen doors (PSDs) are also being used for the first time. PSDs are glass-made screens installed near the edge of platforms that open only when a train arrives and shut after it departs. They are installed to enhance commuter safety. There is also Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) signalling technology will be used that can facilitate movement of trains with a frequency of 90 to 100 seconds.

     

    World’s largest amphibious aircraft takes off in China:

    China has launched homegrown AG600, the world’s largest amphibious aircraft. The plane is codenamed Kunlong. With a wingspan of 38.8 metres (127ft) and powered by four turboprop engines, the aircraft is capable of carrying 50 people and can stay airborne for 12 hours. The amphibious aircraft has military applications but will be used for firefighting and marine rescue.

     

    India’s first design university ‘World University of Design’ opens campus:

    India’s first and only Design University – World University of Deisgn has opened it’s campus at Sonipat, Haryana. The University has International Collaborations with foreign Universities like UWS University of West Scotland, VFS the Vancouver Film School, and IAAD the Italian University of Design.

     

    The university offers country’s largest creative course catalogue – 23 specialized UG and PG programs in various Design arenas such as Design, Fashion, Communication, Visual Arts, Design and Retail Management, and Architecture. The University follows a unique curriculum that encourages Research, Academic Excellence, Industry Preparedness and Social Innovation.

     

    Odisha recognised as ‘Champion State’ for exports:

    The Centre has recognised Odisha as a ‘Champion State’ for recording the highest growth in exports during 2016-17. The exports from the state have increased from Rs 19,082 crore in 2015-16 to Rs 40,872 crore in 2016-17 with merchandise exports from Odisha registering the highest growth rate of 114% among all the states.

     

     

     







































































































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