19-22 December 2017 Current Affairs

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22 Dec, 2017

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1) The United Nations General Assembly on 21 December 2017 voted by a huge majority to reject US President Donald Trump’s unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Apart from US and Israel, which other 7 countries voted against the resolution and thus supported the US? – Guatemala, Honduras, Marshal Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo

Explanation: The United States was effectively isolated on the issue of President Donald Trump’s controversial decision of 6 December 2017 to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as the United Nations’ General Assembly on 21 December 2017 voted by a huge majority (128-9) to declare the recognition “null and void”.

At an emergency session of the body’s General Assembly, 128 countries voted in favour of the resolution rejecting US President Donald Trump’s controversial decision, 9 countries voted against, while 35 abstained.

All 4 other members of the UN Security Council (Russia, China, France and UK) opposed the US. Other important countries that voted against the US include India, Iran, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland.

Apart from US and Israel, 7 small countries voted against the resolution and thus supported the US. These countries are – Guatemala, Honduras, Marshal Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo.

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2) The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2017 that seeks to strengthen corporate governance, initiate action against defaulting firms and improve ease of doing business was passed by the Parliament on 19 December 2017. It will bring about major changes in which Act? – The Companies Act, 2013

Explanation: The Companies (Amendment) Bill 2017, which seeks to bring about major changes in the Companies Act, 2013, was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 19 December 2017 by a voice vote. The bill, which was adopted by the Lok Sabha in July 2017, will now have to receive the assent of the President to become law.

The major changes in the amendment bill include simplification of the private placement process; rationalization of provisions related to loans to directors and replacing the requirement of approval of the central government for managerial remuneration above prescribed limits by approval through special resolution of shareholders. The Companies Act, 2013 has already been amended once under the current government.

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3) A Delhi court on 21 December 2017 acquitted all accused, including former Telecom Minister A. Raja and DMK Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi in the 2G spectrum allocation scam case. This anticipated ruling was delivered by which Special Judge of the CBI? – Justice O.P. Saini

Explanation: CBI had charged A. Raja, Kanimozhi, then Telecom Secretary Siddhartha Behura, Raja’s former private secretary R.K. Chandolia and 11 other persons in the 2G spectrum allocation scam case.

The CBI has alleged that the promoters of the Essar Group were the real investors and beneficiaries of the spectrum and licences were issued to Loop Telecom, a front company of Essar to acquire 2G licences and spectrum in 2008.

Acquitting the accused, Special CBI Judge Hustice O.P. Saini said:  “I have no hesitation in holding that the prosecution has failed to prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt.”

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4) For the first time in its 105-year history, the Indian Science Congress (ISC), the largest congregation of Indian and foreign scientists in India, indefinitely postponed as announced on 20 December 2017. Which university was to host this prestigious event? – Osmania University (Hyderabad)

Explanation: Hyderabad’s Osmania University was scheduled to host the 2018 edition of the Indian Science Congress (ISC) from 3 to 7 January 2018. But on 20 December 2017 the university expressed its inability to host the event due to certain issues in the campus. The university has been witnessing student unrest since suicide of a student last year.

The ISC is traditionally the first public function the Prime Minister addresses in the calendar year. The event witnesses several Nobel Laureates, heads of Indian science academies and thousands of students.

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5) A bill to exclude which plantation entity from the definition of ‘tree’ under the Indian Forest Act was passed by the Lok Sabha on 20 December 2017? – Bamboo

Explanation: The Lok Sabha on 20 December 2017 passed a bill to exclude bamboo from the definition of ‘tree’. The bill permits felling and transit of bamboo grown in non-forest areas and will amend the Indian Forest Act, 1927.

The bill will also replace the pertaining ordinance promulgated by the President on 23 November 2017. The government is of the view that bamboo taxonomically is grass and expects that change in law would encourage bamboo plantation by farmers.

It is worth mentioning that India imports bamboo despite being its second largest producer after China. Bamboo is used extensively in variety of applications such as furnishing, yarn, pulp and paper, handicrafts, decoration, musical instruments, etc.

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6) Congress improved it tally remarkably in the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections despite unable to defeat the ruling BJP. With this win the BJP was able to retain the power for which successive term in the state? – Fifth

Explanation: The results of the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections were announced on 18 December 2017 in which the ruling BJP was able to retain power despite significant reduction in its seat. The party won just 99 assembly seats in the 182 seat house while the Congress with its allies bagged 80 seats. Congress itself won 77 seats. 6 seats were won by other parties/independents.

With this win the BJP was able to win elections continuously for sixth time while it retained power for fifth successive time. It came to power for the first time in 1995 by winning 121 seats out of 182. It has been able to retain the power in five successive Assembly elections from then – in 1998, 2002, 2007, 2012 and now 2017. However, Congress was able to improve its tally significantly from 60 in 2012 to 77 now.

On the other hand BJP was successful in dethroning the Virbhadra Singh-led Congress government in Himachal Pradesh. Of the 68 seats in the state Assembly, BJP won 44 while Congress was reduced to just 21. 3 seats were won by other parties/independents. With this win the BJP and its alliance partners have governments in 19 states across the country.

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