Current Affairs Questions & Answers - Dec 14, 2017

1)   Theresa May has lost the Brexit vote over which flagship bill?

a. EU Integration Bill
b. EU Departure Bill
c. EU Union Bill
d. EU Withdrawal Bill
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: EU Withdrawal Bill

British Prime Minister Theresa May on December 13 suffered a damaging parliamentary defeat over Brexit, after her own MPs rebelled to demand parliament have the final say on the divorce deal with Brussels.

Members of Ms. May's Conservative party joined with opposition lawmakers to inflict the government's first defeat over the flagship E.U. (Withdrawal) Bill, sparking huge cheers in the House of Commons.

It is a blow to Ms. May on the eve of a crucial summit in Brussels, where E.U. leaders are expected to approve the terms of the interim Brexit deal agreed last week after months of tortuous negotiations.

The E.U. (Withdrawal) Bill is intended to formally end Britain's membership of the E.U., as well as smooth its exit by transferring thousands of pieces of European legislation onto the U.K. statute books.

It also gives Ministers powers to amend the laws as they move across, to address any technical glitches.

But MPs objected to the fact that these so-called "Henry VIII" powers also extend to the implementation of the withdrawal agreement with the E.U.

2)   Fed Reserve raised interest rates by what percent on Dec 13, 2017?

a. Quarter of a percentage point
b. Half of a percentage point
c. Single percentage point
d. Double percentage point
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Quarter of a percentage point

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point on December 13, as anticipated, but left its rate outlook for the coming years unchanged even as policymakers projected a short-term acceleration in US economic growth.

Having raised its benchmark overnight lending rate three times this year, the Fed projected three more hikes in each of 2018 and 2019 before a long-run level of 2.8% is reached. That is unchanged from the last round of forecasts in September.

Gross domestic product is expected to grow 2.5% in 2018, up from the 2.1% forecast in September, while the unemployment rate is seen falling to 3.9% next year, compared to 4.1% in the last set of projections.

But inflation is projected to remain shy of the Fed's 2% goal for another year, with weakness on that front remaining enough of a concern that policymakers saw no reason to accelerate the expected pace of rate increases.

Policymakers do see the federal funds rate rising to 3.1% in 2020, slightly above the 2.8% "neutral" rate they expect to maintain in the long run. That indicates possible concerns about a rise in inflation pressures over time.

As it stands, inflation is expected to remain below the Fed's target in the near term and is being monitored "closely" by policymakers.

The Fed also said that, as of January, it would raise the amount of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities that it would not reinvest on a monthly basis to $12 billion and $8 billion, respectively.

That is consistent with its balance sheet reduction plan.

3)   India's first electronic manufacturing cluster will come up in which state?

a. Andhra Pradesh
b. Madhya Pradesh
c. Chhattisgarh
d. Karnataka
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Andhra Pradesh

India's first Electronic Manufacturing Cluster (EMC) will be coming to Andhra Pradesh.

EMC has been designed and developed for providing facilities and amenities for manufacturing mobiles and allied products.

The Union Government, through Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY) in 2012 had announced about setting up EMC in India, with grant-in-aid for establishing such clusters.

In 2015, Andhra Pradesh Government had announced first exclusive mobile and electronic manufacturing cluster in the new capital city Amaravati.

State Government had allotted 113.27 acres of land for new cluster, through Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC).

For this purpose, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) called Sri Venkateswara Mobiles and Electronics Manufacturing Hub Private Limited was formed.

Besides, an anchor unit has been formed in name of Seven Hills Digital Park Private Limited (SHDPPL) for three companies.

The EMC will generate around 50,000 jobs every year.

4)   The 7th International Groundwater Conference was hosted in India following what theme?

a. Ground water Vision 2030 - Water Security, Challenges and Climate Change Adaptation
b. Ground water Vision 2020 - Water Security, Challenges and Climate Change Adaptation
c. Ground water Vision 2031 - Water Security, Challenges and Climate Change Adaptation
d. Ground water Vision 2040 - Water Security, Challenges and Climate Change Adaptation
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: Ground water Vision 2030 - Water Security, Challenges and Climate Change Adaptation

The 7th International Ground Water Conference (IGWC-2017) was hosted by India in New Delhi from December 11 to 13, 2017.

The theme of conference was "Ground water Vision 2030- Water Security, Challenges and Climate Change Adaptation".

IGWC Conference

  • The conference was organized by National Institute of Hydrology (NIH), Roorkee and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) under aegis of Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
  • The delegates from 15 countries participated in the conference and 250 research papers were presented, including 32 Keynote papers.
  • The conference took stock of present status and challenges of Groundwater management in the country under the changing water use and climatic scenarios.
  • The conference discussed these burning issues in 10 focal themes spread.
  • It looked into synergistic policy options between various sectors linked with water resources in country and drew a roadmap to address these challenges for sustainable development goals of 2030.

5)   India and Australia held which dialogue in New Delhi between foreign and defence secretaries in Dec 2017?

a. 2+1 dialogue
b. 1+2 dialogue
c. 2+2 dialogue
d. 2+3 dialogue
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: 2+2 dialogue

India and Australia held their first '2+2 dialogue' in New Delhi and highlighted need to maintain Asia-Pacific region as a "free" and "open" zone.

The 2+2 dialogue model between both countries included foreign and defence secretaries.

India and Australia share warm bilateral relations based on shared democratic values and pluralism.

There is a growing convergence of strategic perspectives between the two countries.

2+2 Dialogue: Know More

  • It was first meeting of this level since the two sides participated in quadrilateral discussion between India, United States, Australia and Japan in Manila in November 2017 for new strategic partnership targeting the Asia-Pacific region.
  • In the 2+2 dialogue, all aspects of bilateral relations with focus on strategic and defence relations between two countries were reviewed.
  • Both countries agreed that free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region serves the long-term interests of all countries in the region and of the world at large.
  • The dialogue indicated that focus remains on freedom of navigation in South China Sea, where China has been reclaiming land for infrastructure, boosting its maritime influence.

6)   Bihar Government launched which scheme for checking crimes against women?

a. Safe City Surveillance Scheme
b. Safe City Surveillance Yojana
c. Safe City Surveillance Plan
d. Safe City Surveillance Program
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Safe City Surveillance Scheme

The Bihar government has launched Safe City Surveillance Scheme for checking crime against women.

It aims to bring all major public places under watch of close-circuit television (CCTV) cameras and improve overall crime control in the state.

The scheme has been launched in a phase-wise manner, will commence from capital city Patna. It has specially launched for checking crime against women, such as harassment, eve-teasing and molestation, snatching incidents and roadside scuffles etc. It will also help in keeping a track of miscreants.

The scheme will bring all major public places under the watch of CCTV cameras.

These will used for crime control as well as traffic management. Bihar home department will be nodal agency for implementation of the surveillance scheme.

The network of CCTV cameras under this scheme will be connected to control room, where it will be monitored round the clock by policemen.

Those in control room will coordinate with their counterparts in field and police stations and also alert them about any incident in their area.

7)   India is holding talks with ASEAN to extend which highway to Vietnam?

a. India-Myanmar-Thailand
b. India-Myanmar-Korea
c. India-Myanmar-Bangladesh
d. India-Myanmar-China
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: India-Myanmar-Thailand

India is planning to hold talks with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries to extend India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) highway up to Vietnam.

As per proposals from India, the 1,360 km long IMT highway from Moreh in India to Mae-Sot in Thailand can be extended to Vietnam via Laos and Cambodia.

The connectivity provided by expansion of IMT highway till Vietnam can generate an estimated $70 billion annually in incremental GDP and $20 million in incremental aggregate employment by 2025.

Besides, it will provide much required market for crops grown in hilly regions of Northeast India, thus benefiting growers in getting better price for their produce.

Besides, Government is also working to connect India with South East Asia is IMT Motor Vehicle Agreement (IMT MVA).

India, Myanmar and Thailand had commenced negotiations for finalising and implementing IMT MVA in 2014 to utilise physical road infrastructure on IMT Trilateral Highway.

India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) highway

  • The India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway is highway under construction under India's Act East policy that will connect Moreh, India with Mae Sot, Thailand via Myanmar.
  • The highway is expected to boost trade and commerce in ASEAN-India Free Trade Area, as well as with rest of Southeast Asia.

8)   Sri Lanka has handed over which strategic port to China for a 99 year lease?

a. Hambantota
b. Trincomalee Harbour
c. Port of Colombo
d. Port of Galle
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: Hambantota

Sri Lanka has formally handed over its southern strategic port of Hambantota to China on 99-year lease.

Two Chinese firms managed by China Merchants Port Holdings Company (CMPort) and Sri Lanka Ports Authority will own port and the investment zone around it.

Hambantota port is strategically located right in middle of vital energy supply lines in Indian Ocean, connecting Middle East and East Asia.

It had gained strategic significance after Sri Lankan government had decided to build massive deep-sea port and airport with huge Chinese loans.

The Sri Lankan government had signed a $1.1 billion deal in July 2017 to sell a 70% stake in Hambantota port to China.

Under the 99-year lease agreement, Sri Lanka received $300 million as initial payment. The deal was signed after port suffered heavy losses, making it impossible for Sri Lanka to repay its debts to China which was used to open Hambantota port in 2011.

Significance of Hambantota Port

  • For China, Hambantota port is crowning glory of its One Belt One Road project, which aims to build new Silk Road of trade routes between China and more than 60 countries in Asia, Africa, Middle East and Europe.
  • That project is underpinned by network of harbours across world that has put China in position to challenge US as the world's most important maritime superpower.
  • Other similar developments in region include Gwadar port in Pakistan, which is centrepiece of $55 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
  • India is apprehensive that the port is part of Chinese 'string of pearls' with an objective to surround India and dock its military vessels.
  • The String of pearls is a geopolitical theory on potential Chinese intentions in the Indian Ocean region.

9)   India is set to host the third annual meeting of AIIB in which Indian city in June 2018?

a. Mumbai
b. Chennai
c. Delhi
d. Kolkotta
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: Mumbai

India will host third Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Mumbai, Maharashtra in June 2018.

In this regard, Union Government and AIIB Secretariat have signed MoU to delineate duties and responsibilities of major stakeholders who would be involved in organizing the aforesaid Annual Meeting.

The theme of the annual meeting is "Mobilizing Finance for Infrastructure: Innovation and Collaboration".

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

  • The AIIB is multilateral financial institution proposed by China.
  • Its purpose is to provide finance to infrastructure development and regional connectivity projects in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Its goals are to boost economic development in Asia-Pacific region, provide infrastructure, and promote regional cooperation and partnership.
  • It was founded in October, 2014 and became operational in January 2016. It is headquartered in Beijing.
  • Currently, it has 56 member states. It is seen as rival to World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB).
  • The capital of AIIB is $100 billion, with almost $30 billion invested by China. India is one of the founding members of AIIB and 2nd largest shareholder in AIIB followed by Russia.
  • The voting shares are based on size of each member country's economy and not contribution to the bank's authorised capital.

10)   Which scheme is working for creating digital inclusion and equitable growth in the BPO sector?

a. India BPO Development Scheme
b. India BPO Growth Scheme
c. India BPO Promotion Scheme
d. India BPO Advancement Scheme
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: India BPO Promotion Scheme

Schemes such as BPO Promotion and Common Services Centres have helped us create digital inclusion and equitable growth.

Growth of IT sector in India has traditionally remained confined to a few select urban clusters.

The India BPO Promotion Scheme was conceived t change this.

Given the special focus of the Government to develop the North East regions of India, the North East BPO Promotion Scheme was also conceived simultaneously.

The schemes provide special incentives of upto Rs. 1 lakh per seat in the form of Viability Gap Funding (VGF).

Disbursement of financial support under these schemes is directly linked with employment generation.

These schemes provide special incentives for employment to women and Divyang, setting up operations in towns other than capital towns, generating employment beyond target and promoting local entrepreneurship.

There are also special provisions for the Himalayan states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

A total of 48,300 seats under India BPO Promotion Scheme and 5000 seats under North East BPO Promotion Scheme have been distributed across different states in proportion to their populations.

Some of the locations where BPOs have commenced operations in the North East are Guwahati, Jorhat, Kohima, Imphal etc.

11)   Scientists have developed a new battery material based in _______ with charging speed 5 times faster than lithium-ion batteries.

a. Graphene
b. Carbon
c. Nitrate
d. Chromium
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: Graphene

Scientists have developed a new graphene-based battery material with charging speed five times faster than today's lithium-ion batteries.

The breakthrough by researchers at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) in South Korea provides promise for the next generation mobile batteries and electric vehicles.

Standard lithium batteries require charging time of at least an hour to fully charge, even with quick charging technology, so numerous attempts to explore new innovative materials have been started.

Among the materials looked at, graphene, a material with high strength and conductivity, has widely become the primary source of interest.

In theory, a battery based on the "graphene ball" material requires only 12 minutes to fully charge, researchers said.

This "graphene ball" was utilised for both the anode protective layer and cathode materials.

This ensured an increase of charging capacity, decrease of charging time as well as stable temperatures.

Researchers used graphene and mass synthesised it into a 3D form using silica (SiO2).

Their research enables mass synthesis of graphene at an affordable price as the markets for mobile devices and electric vehicles is growing rapidly.

Graphene: Know More

  • Graphene is an allotrope (form) of carbon consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in an hexagonal lattice.
  • It is the basic structural element of many other allotropes of carbon, such as graphite, charcoal, carbon nanotubes and fullerenes.
  • Graphene has many unusual properties.
  • It is the strongest material ever tested,efficiently conducts heat and electricity and is nearly transparent.
  • Graphene shows a large and nonlinear diamagnetism, which is greater than that of graphite, and can be levitated by neodymium magnets.