Current Affairs sections updated with November 2014 news

The Current Affairs sections:

Notes on Current Affairs
Current GK
Appointments Etc
Sports News

have been updated with November 2014 news.

These sections are useful for those preparing for Civil Services Exam, UPSC Exams, SSC Exams, Assistant Grade Exam, LIC and other Insurance Recruitment exams, Defence Services exams like NDA & CDS, Bank PO, RBI, Clerks’ Recruitment Exams, MBA, Hotel Management, CLAT, CSAT etc

How to Study: Techniques of Learning and Remembering

Cut out rituals
A ritual is a preliminary to something else. There are many rituals indulged in as preliminaries to studying. There are personal rituals. Some students must go through the ritual of dressing for the ordeal of study. Some pre-study rituals take the form of special eating. These are gastronomical rituals. Then there are social rituals like talking to some one, making telephone calls.

Such ritualistic activities are apparently legitimate reason for postponing studying that is anticipated as both being difficult and disagreeable. Indulgence in them means frittering away of time and energy. They are attempts to put off what you are not at all eager to do. Cut out the rituals. Get on with the work.

Spaced v. Continuous method of study
In the spaced method of learning, learning periods are distributed in time separated by periods of rest or the periods of very different activity. It is also called the distributed or the study—rest—study—rest method. It is contrasted with the method of continuous study.

Psychological research has repeatedly shown that the spaced method is superior to the continuous method. The spaced method encourages you to spend more time on studying. You experience less fatigue. The rest pause following a period of learning gives you an opportunity to integrate what is learned. The rest pause not only makes integration possible, it also makes the forgetting of wrong things possible, thus making retention of the right things possible. Adopt the spaced method.

The SQ3R system of study
The SQ3R system of study has proved of undoubted value in American colleges and universities for effective study. The SQ3R stands for: Survey Question Read Recite Revise.

(1) Survey: Briefly this means that instead of picking up a textbook and reading one of its chapters over and over, you should first ‘survey’: i.e., find out all you can about the aims and purposes of the book, read the author’s preface, study the table of contents and the index, read the chapter summaries (if there are summaries) and skim rapidly through the book. Keep in mind your own object in study, the syllabus you are trying to cover, and the relevance of the book to your own areas of interest. If the book does not suit your purpose, if it is not well-written, and at the right level of standard, look for a better one that makes the grade. In brief make a reconnaissance before you start your main work, and get an over-all perspective of what lies before you. It is akin to military, naval, etc reconnaissance and its importance can hardly be over-stressed.

(2) Question: This step involves asking questions. It entails going rapidly through the chapters of the book which you are tackling and jotting down such questions as occur to you. This is useful as it motivates you and gives you a purpose. It compels you to think and to marshal such knowledge as you already possess. By maintaining a questioning attitude you will, in due course, come to study books critically: “No intelligent person merely reads a book. He cannot help dwelling on particular points as he reads, and contrasting or uniting them with other points that he has just grasped.” Bacon wrote, “Read not to contradict and confute, not to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider.”

(3) Reading: The next step—reading proper—is of vital importance. The first reading of a textbook chapter should be slow and thorough. Most good textbook chapters have a pattern of headings and subheadings which you should keep at the back of your mind as you read. If the subject is illustrated by graphs or diagrams take the trouble to master them. They are much more easily remembered than long verbal statements.
This type of reading is analytical reading, the aim of which is to discover the details, the specific results, the facts out of which the general ideas and broader view of the subject developed. It requires you to read more slowly, to re-read sentences and paragraphs that are not clearly understood. It is the reading in which your major study work is done.

(1) Automatic reading, which fails to command conscious attention. Avoid it, for establishing the habit of reading ideas rather than words.

(2) Reading as a ritual like reading an assignment three times with the blind faith that somehow three readings of an assignment will lead to success.

(3) Recitation: Recitation is defined as an attempt to reproduce in any way that which is being (or has been) learned.

Recitation is a very potent and effective factor in remembering (memorizing) for the following reasons:
(a) It keeps motivation strong.
(b) It facilitates the use of immediate goals.
(c) It tells you how well you are progressing in learning.
(d) It gives rise to reward when you are successful or punishment when you are less successful in what you are learning.
(e) Finally recitation gives you patience in doing what you ultimately want to do.
Bacon wrote, “If you read anything over twenty times, you will not learn it by heart so easily as if you were to read it only ten times trying to read it between lines and when memory failed looking at the book.”

How to recite
Following are ways in which you can recite a given material.
(1) Write it.
(2) Draw things which lend themselves to drawing, e.g., data represented graphically.
(3) Picture it, e.g., visualize the characteristics of each of the several types of architecture you are studying.
(4) Hear it—hear that musical selection you are trying to master. Use other senses also.
(5) Tell it to someone.
(6) Explain it to someone—e.g., a complex theory you are trying to learn.
(7) Talk it over—discussion in a group of two or three.
(8) Outline the substance.
(9) After reading each major section of a chapter, lay the book on one side and try to recall what you have been reading. Periodic recall is an undoubted aid to learning.
(10) Write out abstracts. Studies have shown that time spent in active recitation leads to more effective learning. Its value is further enhanced when there is some device by which you are kept informed as to whether the ideas you are recalling are correct or incorrect.

The final step of SQ3R system is Revision. Revision should not be considered something to be undertaken just before exams. Memory experiments show that material that has to be retained over long periods should be studied and restudied. Memories become stronger and stronger with each re-learning and forgetting proceeds more slowly.

The first revision should take place as soon as possible after the original learning. Further revisions are often necessary before the final revision which precedes exams. Underlining the importance of review Prof W.W. Ruch says that it is important to review as soon as possible after learning and then to review again and again from time to time. “Review should be selective, with the most emphasis given to those parts which are most important or most difficult.”

In revision before exams, pay particular attention to the earlier material you have learnt, as more of it will have been forgotten. Leave yourself time to go over all the material you have covered. Research studies have shown that subjective estimates of strengths and weaknesses are often faulty. Active revision, and a few attempts at answering old exam questions should give you a better idea of where your true strengths and weaknesses lie.

It needs emphasis that revision should be an active rather than a passive process. ‘Revise by writing down from memory what you know about each topic, then check with your books and notes’, is sound advice.

Technique of over-learning
Over-learning is an important technique in learning and remembering. Over-learning is learning in which repetition or practice has proceeded beyond the point necessary for the retention or recall required. Such over-learning may, however, be necessary in view of the factors likely to affect recall, which are bound to enter subsequently from the circumstances of the case.

It is that added time and effort beyond what is required now that you have put into learning what you intend to recall at sometime in the future. It also means that you spend added time and energy learning something which you already know.

As Maddox observes, material is under-learned when it has not been studied long enough for you to be able to recall it 100 per cent correctly. It is over-learned when you continue to practise it after you can recall it 100 per cent correctly. For example, it might take you 10 minutes to learn a vocabulary of 20 foreign words. If you then carry on learning and reciting with the same close attention as before, you are over-learning the material. Another 5 minutes would represent 50 per cent over-learning, another 10 minutes 100 per cent.

It pays to over-learn because of the distinct gain in retention: it increases the strength of your memory traces. “If you want to remember something for a long time, you should over-learn it.”

Over-learning to be effective, must be active learning. Your attention must be riveted upon what is being learned. Therefore, over-learn actively and with conscious attention by using various methods of recitation. As Dudley puts it, “Do not repeat what you wish to remember until you barely know it, but until you know it really well.”

Seven Things You Need To Know About GST Bill

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha on 19 October 2014. This Bill has faced stringent opposition from states in the past, the main reason why the bill couldn’t be passed by the previous Congress government.

The Bill seeks to rationalise state and central indirect taxes into a harmonised tax structure. Currently, companies pay multiple taxes at the state and central levels, which raises the prices of their products, making them less competitive compared with imports from China and other low-cost locations. The hassle and time wasted in filing myriad taxes also deters entrepreneurs and foreign companies from investing in India.

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Indians now will be able to sit for US CPA Exam in Middle East

Indian citizens will now be able to appear for the uniform Certified Public Accountants (CPA) examination in the Middle East.

The announcement was made by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and Prometric.

CPA Exam candidates can register and conduct their exams at Prometric test sites throughout the Middle East.

Along with passing the Uniform CPA Examination, international candidates must meet education and professional experience requirements as mandated by US Boards of Accountancy.

Saudi Arabia is playing chicken with its oil

In August 1973, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat paid a secret visit to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, to meet with King Faisal. Sadat was preparing for war with Israel, and he needed Saudi Arabia to use its most powerful weapon: oil.

Until then, King Faisal had been reluctant for the Arab members of OPEC to use the “oil weapon.” But as the October 1973 Arab-Israeli war unfolded, the Arab oil producers raised prices, cut production and imposed an embargo on oil exports to punish the United States for its support of Israel. Without Saudi Arabia, the oil embargo would not have gotten very far.

Today, Saudi Arabia is once again using its “oil weapon,” but instead of driving up prices and cutting supply, it’s doing the reverse. In the face of a global slide in oil prices since June, the kingdom has refused to cut its production, which would help to drive prices back up. Instead, the Saudis led the charge to prevent OPEC from cutting production at the cartel’s last meeting on Nov 27.

The consequences of Saudi policy are impossible to ignore. After two years of stable prices at around $105 to $110 a barrel, Brent blend, the international benchmark, fell from $112 a barrel in June to around $65 on Friday. “What is the reason for the United States and some U.S. allies wanting to drive down the price of oil?” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro asked rhetorically in October. His answer? “To harm Russia.”

That is partially true, but Saudi Arabia’s gambit is more complex.

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The state and Islam: Converting the preachers

SAUDI ARABIA has long used a simple method to regulate mosques. The oil kingdom lavishes clerics with money and perks that can suddenly vanish if their preaching goes astray. If that does not work they are fired or parked in jail. Now Saudi preachers face a new constraint: starting next year authorities will install centrally monitored cameras in every mosque to record what goes on inside. The move is ostensibly meant to prevent theft and regulate energy use, but few doubt the real intention is to tighten the state’s grip on Islam, part of a trend across the Middle East.

Critics have long reviled Saudi Arabia for its sponsorship of a rigidly puritanical brand of religion. The ruling Al Saud family, whose legitimacy rests in part on a 270-year-old pact with the Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam, has tended to shrug off the complaints. But in recent months it has worried about a backlash from conservatives angered by the government’s enthusiastic support for the crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, as well as its participation in the American-led military coalition against Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq. Apparently fired up by IS propaganda, radicals in the kingdom have lately targeted “infidel” Westerners and “deviant” Shias in a string of small but deadly terror attacks.

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via The Economist

Making sense of the growth puzzle

The performance of the Indian economy has been quite enigmatic in the past two-three years. Two successive years of low growth cast a shadow on our growth potential and we went around looking for reasons. Policy paralysis dramatized the issue and remained embedded in our minds. The cabinet committee on investment under the United Progressive Alliance government cleared as much as over Rs.6 trillion worth of investment by February. Yet, growth remained anaemic. We then said that we need reforms and there was some movement on land reforms and foreign direct investment in retail. Then the central government changed. Clearances have continued and the administration has been made to take decisions. Yet, the economic situation is at best stable, although sentiment is sanguine. Are we missing something?

An analysis of the growth path since 2011-12 shows slowdown has been due to a series of issues in which the government plays only a secondary role. The main issue has been with demand, where the level of spending has come down. The three major components: consumption, investment and government have shown limited traction.

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via Livemint