Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups – News Analysis from THE HINDU (December 26, 2018)
1. Govt.’s draft rules to regulate social media echo SC orders
The draft rules proposed by the government to curb “unlawful content” on social media that make it mandatory for intermediaries to trace the “originator” of such content have drawn strong criticism from the Opposition. The latter contend that the state is expanding the scope for surveillance of citizens.
However, a close look at the draft Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Amendment Rules, 2018, shows that the proposed changes are largely in line with developments on this front in cases before the Supreme Court in recent months.
2. PM opens Bogibeel Bridge, India’s longest
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday underlined the NDA government’s focus on improving connectivity in the northeastern region while inaugurating the 4.94 km Bogibeel Bridge, India’s longest rail-cum-road span, across the Brahmaputra.
The strategic bridge, which connects Dibrugarh district on the river’s south bank in Assam to Dhemaji district on the north bank, would not only improve the livelihoods of millions of people in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, Mr. Modi said, but would also serve as a boon to the defence forces.
The project was conceived by the Rail India Technical Economic Services in 1973, and the foundation stone was laid by former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda in January 1997.
However, the actual work was initiated only in 2002 by the NDA government, which was headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
3. Bengali poet Nirendranath passes away
Famous Bengali poet Nirendranath Chakraborty died at a hospital here on Tuesday following a massive cardiac arrest, his family said. He was 94.
Chakraborty was admitted to the hospital on December 9 due to age-related ailments, including acute breathing problem, the family said. He breathed his last at 12.25 p.m. on Tuesday, they said. Chakraborty is survived by his two daughters. His wife had died in January.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed grief over his death.
4. Army recovers copter stuck in Siachen snow
The Army has created a record of sorts as its pilots and technicians successfully recovered a helicopter which was stuck in snow at an altitude of 18,000 feet on Siachen Glacier in Jammu and Kashmir.
The helicopter was brought back safely to the Siachen base camp with the help of infantry troops deployed there. According to sources in the Army, an ALH Dhruv chopper, on an air maintenance sortie in the 74-km-long Siachen Glacier, developed a snag and landed near a post called Khanda in January. Though the chopper landed safely, the overnight snow resulted in its falling sideways. Attempts were made to recover it, but there was no success .
Then in July, technicians and pilots of the Army ALH Squadron 203 in Leh managed to put new parts on the chopper and bring it back to the base camp.
5. RBI to soon release new ₹20 bank note
The Reserve Bank of India will soon introduce a new ₹20 currency note with additional features, according to a document of the central bank. The central bank has already issued new look currency notes in the denominations of ₹10, ₹50, ₹100, and ₹500, besides introducing ₹200 and ₹2,000 notes.
6. Chabahar tidings
The opening of the first office of Indian Ports Global Limited at Iran’s Chabahar and the takeover of operations of the Shahid Beheshti port is a milestone in India’s regional connectivity and trade game plan. Chabahar port opens up a permanent alternative route for trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia, given the hurdles in the direct route through Pakistan. It facilitates India’s role in Afghanistan’s development through infrastructure and education projects. And it gives India’s bilateral ties with Iran, a major oil supplier and potential trade market for India, a big fillip. India has helped develop the Shahid Beheshti port with these outcomes in mind, and has been given the contract to manage it for 18 months. It will be important to operationalise the port quickly and smoothen the route to Afghanistan. The decision by India, Afghanistan and Iran to hold an international event in February 2019 to promote Chabahar and to study ways to make the route more attractive and decrease logistic costs is timely. About 500 companies have registered with the Free Trade Zone authority there. While keeping timelines and delivery of New Delhi’s commitments will be key to the port becoming a regional hub for transit trade, steel and petrochemicals, it will be necessary to encourage Afghan companies to use the route more, in line with President Ashraf Ghani’s desire to have a commercial fleet under the Afghan flag setting sail from Chabahar.
Visions of Chabahar’s immense potential as a game-changer for prosperity and stability in the region must, however, necessarily be tempered by the reality of geopolitical challenges. The Chabahar port has received a waiver from the U.S. sanctions on Iran for the moment, but these concessions could be withdrawn any time, given the constant upheaval in the administration. The possibility of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, after the pullout from Syria, will add to security concerns for Afghanistan and impact on the Chabahar route as well. Meanwhile, the reconciliation process with the Afghan Taliban is likely to see the regional powers, the U.S. and Russia engaging Pakistan more. This could give Islamabad space to play spoiler in Chabahar, which is seen as a rival warm water port to Pakistan’s Gwadar. That the Afghanistan government is hedging its bets on trade via Chabahar too is clear: in recent months, special cargo corridors have been opened with China, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Europe, Russia, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, with more trade diverted through them than with traditional partners Pakistan and India. With Chabahar, India has done well to keep a place in the intricate connectivity network of the region. Given all the competing interests that criss-cross over Chabahar, it will require sustained and nuanced diplomacy to stay ahead in this game.
7. Collective action problem
This refers to a phenomenon wherein the actions of individuals driven by their own self-interest works against the interest of the group as a whole. The free-rider problem, where something that is in the interest of a group does not happen because each person in the group simply tries to offload the costs onto other members, is a common example of it. The idea was proposed by American economist Mancur Olson in his 1965 book The Logic of Collective Action. Critics of the idea believe that the collective action problem is often the result of the absence of clearly defined property rights that are absolutely necessary for markets to coordinate complex social exchanges.
8. Iran presents first budget since return of sanctions
President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday unveiled Iran’s first budget since the return of U.S. sanctions, saying that it had been adjusted to take account of U.S.’s “cruel” measures. He announced a 20% increase in public sector wages in a sign of the economic challenges Iran has faced since the U.S. pulled out of the nuclear deal.
9. India to hold talks with RCEP nations
Indian officials will hold bilateral meetings with a few countries, including China and some ASEAN members, in the coming days to iron out issues hindering negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal, an official said.
After the bilateral meetings, the RCEP members will meet for the 25th round of negotiations in February in Indonesia.
The main issues that need resolution include number of goods on which import duties should be eliminated and norms to relax services trade.
RCEP members want India to eliminate or significantly cut customs duties on maximum number of goods that it traded on.
10. NTPC for easing MSE registration
Buoyed by over 36% of its procurement coming from micro and small enterprises (MSEs), power giant NTPC has pitched for their universal registration for supplies to all CPSUs.
“To promote ease of doing business for MSEs, NTPC chairman Gurdeep Singh has proposed a single window registration for MSEs across CPSUs,” a senior company official said.
As against the government mandate of minimum 25% procurement from MSEs, NTPC had achieved 36% procurement from MSEs in the current fiscal till November, the official said. NTPC’s total procurement was about ₹1,000 crore a year from 3,500 vendors. Last fiscal, it was ₹1,163 crore.
11. ‘Count of Japanese firms’ in India rises to 1,441’
The number of Japanese firms operating in India has gone up by 72 to 1,441 till October this year, compared to the previous year, due to the improving business environment in the country, Ambassador of Japan to India Kenji Hiramatsu said. In a communication to Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu, he said there was a significant rise in the number of firms in metal manufacturing and services.
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC)
National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)
13. Things to Remember:
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata
President of Iran – Hassan Rouhani
14. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning – Something which acts as a stimulus or boost to an activity.
Example – ‘the halving of car tax would provide a fillip to sales’
Synonyms – stimulus, stimulation, stimulant, boost, encouragement, incitement, incentive, impetus, inducement, motivation