9 PM Current Affairs Brief – July 2nd, 2018

Mains Test Series

Download the compilation of all summaries of all the news articles here

GS: 2

Gearing up for space wars

Gearing up for space wars


  1. Harsh V. Pant, professor, and Kartik Bommakranti, Associate professor, discusses that the implication of the American plans for space weapons corps are still unclear.

Important Analysis:

2. Recently, the U.S.    President Donal Trump announced the creation of a “space force”.

3. The imperative by America to build space weapons goes back to the cold war.

Eg- Strategic Defense Initiative of the Reagan administration.

4. The purpose is to deny the Russians and the Chinese advantages in space and to maintain U.S. dominance.

5. The  U. S. armed services facing following organisational challenges:

  • It could negatively impact ongoing missions.
  • It could very well increase budgetary allocations in the future.
  • It could undermine American efforts in the domain of joint warfare.
  • It increase greater organizational uncertainty within the U.S. military.

6.Fundamental difficulty of  a space crops:

  • Physical environment of space is not conducive to conduct military operations

7.China and Russia’s response:

  • China has reiterated its response to the Trump Administration’s accouncement with its often repeated statement that it opposes the weaponisation of space.
  • With a range of terrestrial interests in direct conflict with the America, Beijing will be in no mood to allow U.S. space dominance.
  • China’s space programme has been dedicated to building “Assassin Mace” technologies.
  • Russia making it clear that it will vigorously take on the U. S. However, given its lack of the resources for competition, it will in all probability, for tactical reasons, align itself with China.

8.Implications for India:

  • While, India is officially committed to PAROS, or the prevention of an arm race in outer space, it is yet to formulate a credible official response to the Trump plan.
  • India has yet to establish a credible space command of its own.
  • The government needs to engage with multiple stakeholders directly about the role of space weapons will play in India’s grand strategy.
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GS: 3

FDI growth hits 5-year low

FDI growth hits 5-year low


  1. FDI growth hits 5 year low in India

Important facts:

  1. 2. According to the latest data of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion(DIPP), FDI in 2017-18 grow by only 3% to $ 44.8 billion.
  2. 3. Foreign inflows in the country grew by 8.67% in 2016-17, 29% in 2015-16, 27$ in 2014-15, and 8% in 2013-14.
  3. 4. An UNCTAD report, too, recently stated that the high FDI in India decreased to $ 40 billion in 2017 from $ 44 billion in 2016 fiscal.
  4. 5. According to UNCTAD report, outflows from India, the main source of the FDI in South Asia, more than doubled to $ 11 billon.
  5. 6. Downward pressure on the FDI and slowdown in global value chains are a major concern for policy makers worldwide.
  6. 7. Sector specific FDI:
  • The main sectors that received maximum foreign inflows in the last fiscal include services ($6.7 billion), computer software and hardware ($6.15 billion), telecommunications ($6.21 billion), trading ($4.34 billion), construction ($2.73 billion) automobile ($2 billion) and power ($1.62 billion).

8. Mauritius has emerged as the largest source of FDI in India with $15.94 billion in 2017-18 followed by Singapore ($12.18 billion), Netherlands ($2.8 billion), the US ($2.1 billion) and Japan ($1.61 billion).

9.Further, the data showed that the FDI equity inflow of $44.8 billion in 2017-18 is the highest ever for any financial year.

10. FDI is critical to because:

  • It helps in improving ease of business in the country.
  • Critical to revive domestic investment.
  • For attracting more foreign investors.
  • Decline in foreign inflows could put pressure on the country’s balance of payments.
  • May also impact the value of the rupee.

11.Although India has done considerably well in terms of improving ease of doing business ranking, it needs to take step for reviving domestic investment to attract FDI.

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Agni-V to be part of nuclear arsenal soon

Agni-V to be part of nuclear arsenal soon


  1. Agni V will be inducted into the nuclear arsenal very soon.

Important facts:

2. The missile features the latest technologies for navigation and improved accuracy.

3. The intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) with range over 5000 km can reach most parts of China.

4. Recently, the canisterised variant of the missile was successfully test-fired by the user, the Strategic Forces Command (SFC).

5. Few more user trials will be conducted very soon.

6. The submarine based nuclear arsenal, which ensures strike capability is under process of development.

7. More submarines and longer range submarine launched missiles are under stages of development.

8. About Agni V:

  • India’s longest-range ballistic missile.
  • An intercontinental ballistic missile developed by the DRDO of India.
  • Is a part of the Agni series of missiles, one of the missile systems under the original Integrated Guided Missile Development Program.
  • For enhancing India’s nuclear deterrence against China.
  • Three-stage solid fuelled missile with composite motor casing in the second and third stage.
  • The Agni series of missiles also includes the Prithvi short-range ballistic missiles and figher aircraft.
  • Range: 5000km
  • Agni- V is capable of bringing targets across China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong, under its range
  • In June, it was successfully test-fired off the Odisha coast and a number of other pre-induction tests are being planned for upcoming days.
  • India currently has Agni-1 with a 700-km range, Agni-2 with a 2,000-km range, Agni-3 and Agni-4 with a 2,500-km to more than 3,500-km range.
  • Very few countries including the US, China, Russia, France and North Korea have intercontinental ballistic missiles.

9. Other projects:

  • Apart from Agni V, the government is also working on several key projects including integrating the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile on 40 Sukhoi combat aircraft.


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Tax department launches ‘instant’ PAN card service

Tax department launches ‘instant’ PAN card service


  1. Income Tax Department has launched an ‘instant’ Aadhaar based PAN card services.

Important facts:

2. The facility is provided free of cost.

3. Available only for Aadhaar Card holders.

4. The service will be available for individual seeking the unique identity for the first time.

5. The service is available for limited period on a first come, first served basis.

6. The facility was introduced because of the increasing number of people applying for the PAN.

7. A fresh PAN will be allotted on the basis of a one-time password sent on mobile number linked to the Aadhaar number.

8. The new PAN will have same details as mentioned in the Aadhaar.

9. The e-PAN facility is only for resident individuals and not for Hindu Undivided Family, firms, trusts and companies.

10. The Central Board of Direct Taxes, which makes policies for the Income Tax Department, extended the deadline for the PAN-Aadhaar linking to March 31 next.

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GST monthly revenue will exceed Rs. 1.1 lakh cr: Goyal

GST monthly revenue will exceed Rs. 1.1 lakh cr: Goyal


  1. According to the finance minister Piyush Goyal, revenue from GST will exceed Rs 1.1. lakh crore.

Important facts:

2. He expects about 13 lakh crore of revenue this fiscal.

3. There was scope for further rationalization of the tax rates if tax compliance improved and e-way bill system settled down, minister added.

4. Recently, the Goods and Service Tax (GST) has completed one year of its implementation. GST was launched on 1stJuly 2017

5. About GST:

  • GST is a single tax on the supply of goods and services
  • It is considered to be a destination based tax as it is applied on goods and services at the place where final/actual consumption happens
  • GST is applied to all goods other than crude petroleum, motor spirit, diesel, aviation turbine fuel and natural gas and alcohol for human consumption
  • There are four slabs for taxes for both goods and services- 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%. Although GST aimed at levying a uniform tax rate on all products and services, four different tax slabs were introduced because daily necessities could not be subject to the same rate as luxury items.
  • ‘Dual’ GST Model:

6. Central GST (CGST) levied by Centre

7. State GST (SGST) levied by State

8. Integrated GST (IGST) –levied by Central Government on inter-State supply of goods and services.

9. UTGST – Union territory GST, collected by union territory government


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Govt. banks must boost monitoring, training systems’

Govt. banks must boost monitoring, training systems’


  1. Reserve Bank of India issues regulatory instructions to banks on various matters, including customer service.

Important facts:

2.Banking codes and standard board of India (BCSBI) was set up in 2006.

3.Accordingly, BCSBI had evolved two codes:

  • The Code of Bank’s commitment to customers
  • The Code of banks commitment to micro and small enterprises.

4.Banking codes are different from norms:

  • The codes are a voluntarily declared commitment, as a self regulation, of member-banks to their customers explaining how they will deal with their customers.
  • The codes complement regulatory guidelines.
  • They do not replace or supersede regulatory guidelines.

5.Building awareness among customers become primary motive because:

  • The code explain how banks will deal with their customers in their day-to-day operations.
  • For better implementation of code it is necessary that both customers  and service providers need to be aware of it
  • BCSBI is making efforts to create and enhance awareness about codes among the customers.

6.Code for senior citizens:

  • There is no separate code for senior citizen.
  • But, the Code of Bank’s Commitment to Customers contains a dedicated section for senior citizen and differently-abled customers of banks.
  • The focus of provisions covered under this section is on ease of availing banking services in a rightful manner.
  • This contains a specific reference to commitments of member-banks to senior citizens.

7.Areas that particularly need improvement for better banking standards delivery to customers:

  • There is a need for strengthening awareness about relevant code commitments and their importance among the staff at bank branches.
  • The banks, particularly public sector banks, need to strengthen their monitoring and training systems coupled with an element of accountability.
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The dream of being an AI powerhouse

The dream of being an AI powerhouse


  1. Priyanka Pulla, author, analyse India’s dream of becoming an Artificial Intelligence(AI) powerhouse and challenges in fulfilling this ambition.

Important Analyses:

2. Recently, NITI Aayog in its report has chalked out an ambitious strategy for India to become an artificial intelligence powerhouse.

3. Artificial intelligence means the use of computers to make decisions instead of human beings.

4. NITI Aayog envisions AI solutions for India especially in five key areas-Agriculture, Smart cities, healthcare, education, infrastructure, and transport.

5. In Agriculture sector, machines will be helpful in the following manner:

  • Provide information to farmers on various aspects related to agriculture like quality of soil etc.
  • India could see a farming resolution because the country has 30 million farmers with smart phones but poor extension services.
  • With India planning to install 100 GW of solar power by 2022, such AI will play central role in power planning.
  • However, there are various hurdles in achieving these goals:

Lack of data.

  • Most sophisticated form of machine learning like “deep learning”, attempt to mimic the human brain.
  • Deep learning does not able to work for all companies in India because of lack of data.
  • Presently, the firm uses traditional machines learning technologies such as regression analysis that work with less data.
  • Another problem for AI firms today is finding the right people.
    • As per the NITI Aayog’s report, about 50 Indian scientists carry out serious research and concentrated in elite institutions.
    • Only 40% of AI professionals have worked in emerging technologies like deep learning.
    • According to survey of Linkedin, 386 out of the 22,000 people with PhDs in AI across the would be Indians.
    • Open libraries of machine learning code, can be customized to solve Indian problems.

6. The discussion paper of NITI Aayog mentioned no timeline for India’s goal of becoming AI superpower. But following changes are required immediately :

a)The government must collect and digitize data under its existing programmes.

b) To close the skill gap.

  • For this, NITI Aayog suggested setting up a network of basic and applied AI research institutes. These institutes must collaborate with agricultural universities, medical colleges and infrastructure planners.

c)NITI Aayog’s ambitious road map does not mention deadlines or funding. Without these, it lacks accountability. The government must specify its commitments on these fronts.

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