Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups – News Analysis from THE HINDU (December 28, 2018)
1. Amid protests, triple talaq Bill passed
The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, after a heated debate. The Opposition Congress and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) staged a walkout before the voting.
The two parties, through their floor leaders Mallikarjuna Kharge and P. Venugopal, had earlier opposed the Bill during the debate and asked that it be referred to a Joint Select Committee for consideration rather than be debated and passed.
However, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asked members to pass the Bill, citing humanitarian consideration for Muslim women suffering under triple talaq.
The Bill to make the practice of triple talaq among Muslims a penal offence was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 17 to replace an ordinance issued in September. Under the proposed law, giving instant triple talaq will be illegal and void, and will attract a jail term of three years for the man. The fresh Bill is proposed to supersede an earlier Bill passed in the Lok Sabha and pending in the Rajya Sabha.
2. Centre extends deadline to update NRC
The Centre has given an extension of six months to complete the ongoing exercise for updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam by June 30.
In a notification, the Registrar General of India Sailesh said the decision was taken as the exercise to enumerate citizens in the NRC, a list of Assam’s residents, could not be completed within the specified date of December 31, 2018.
3. Gehlot takes Home, PWD goes to Pilot
The newly inducted Ministers in Rajasthan were on Thursday allocated portfolios by Governor Kalyan Singh on the advice of CM Ashok Gehlot. Mr. Gehlot has kept nine departments, including Finance and Home, with himself. Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot was given the portfolios of Public Works, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.
4. River Dolphins go missing in Sunderbans as water salinity rises
Rise in salinity in the water system that makes the Indian Sunderbans has resulted in a decrease in population of the Ganges River Dolphins in the region.
A recent study covering 100 km of rivers and channels around the Sunderbans has revealed that the national aquatic animal is no longer sighted in the central and eastern parts of the archipelago. Only in the western part of Sunderbans, where the salinity is lower, could researchers find some evidence of the species.
The details of the study have been published in Journal of Threatened Taxa, in an article titled Possible Range Decline of Ganges River Dolphin Platanista Gangetica in Indian Sundarban. The paper, authored by Sangita Mitra and Mahua Roy Chowdhury, states that “sighting records in the present study reveal that distribution of GRD (Ganges River Dolphin) is influenced by the salinity level of the waterways”.
5. Virudhunagar shines in development
Tamil Nadu’s Virudhunagar showed the most improvement, between June and October, among the country’s 111 most underdeveloped districts, while Jharkhand’s Pakur reflected the least improvement, according to a survey by the Niti Aayog.
The government think tank on Thursday released the second ‘delta’ ranking of these districts that measures the incremental progress made by them across areas such as health and nutrition, education, agriculture and water resources, financial inclusion, skill development, and basic infrastructure.
Virudhunagar is followed by Nuapada in Odisha, Siddharthnagar in Uttar Pradesh, Aurangabad in Bihar and Koraput in Odisha.
As per the second delta ranking, Hailakandi in Assam, Chatra and Giridih in Jharkhand and Kiphire in Nagaland brought up the bottom, above Pakur, as the districts showing the least improvement.
Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara topped the list for ‘fast movers’ for showing initiative and displaying a qualitative jump in scores between June and October 2018. In the first delta ranking, Kupwara had topped the list for ‘least improved aspirational districts’.
The Aspirational Districts Programme was initiated in January 2018.
6. 5 tourist spots to get audio guides via app
Soon, tourists visiting Amer Fort (Rajasthan), Kaziranga (Assam), Colva Beach (Goa), Kumarakom (Kerala) and Mahabodhi temple (Bihar) will be able to avail themselves of an audio guide through a mobile application. The Ministry of Culture on Thursday signed an agreement with a private entity for the initiative.
The Ministry also awarded a Letter of Intent to seven agencies under its “Adopt a Heritage” programme which allows public and private sector companies to operate, maintain and develop amenities at heritage sites. These iconic tourist attractions include monuments of Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh) and Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), awarded to Dalmia Bharat Private Limited, as well as Bhimbetka rock shelters (Madhya Pradesh) and Aalampur Temple (Telangana), among others.
Earlier this year, the Dalmia group was awarded an agreement to develop and maintain Red Fort in Delhi for a period of five years.
7. Call to declare cyclone Gaja a national disaster
Cyclone Gaja must be declared a national disaster as it caused unprecedented devastation in delta districts of Tamil Nadu, said People for Humanitarian Rights, a civil society organisation after a visit to the districts.
8. Bangladesh goes to the polls amid allegations of high-handedness by the government
Demands by the Opposition in Bangladesh for the resignation of the Chief Election Commissioner just days ahead of the December 30 parliamentary election reflect the bitter divisions that have undermined the credibility of government agencies. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the main constituent of the Opposition Jatiya Oikya Front, claims that 9,200 of its activists have been arrested since the election schedule was announced. The country has seen a spike in political violence, mainly targeting the Opposition. The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina denies the allegations and blames the BNP for violence. Last week, Mahbub Talukdar, an election commissioner, said there was no level playing field between the ruling Awami League and the Opposition. In a report published on December 22, Human Rights Watch said that “arrests and other repressive measures… have contributed to a climate of fear”. Ever since democracy was restored in 1990-91, election seasons have been tumultuous. In the past when the BNP was in power, it had refused to step down after its tenure ended. In 1996, the Awami League led mass movements for elections, while in 2006 a military-backed caretaker government postponed the election, which was finally held in December 2008. Since then, Ms. Hasina has held power.
This time, she is seeking re-election with a formidable record in government. During the last 10 years the economy has seen a relatively high growth rate, hitting 7.8% last fiscal. Bangladesh also improved on social indicators over the past decade. While the Sheikh Hasina government takes credit for this as well as its tough stand on Islamist militancy, it faces criticism for its authoritarian turn. The passing of the Digital Security Bill and the crackdown on student protests in Dhaka drew flak even from Awami League supporters. On the other side, the Opposition is trying to channel the resentment towards the government. Khaleda Zia, BNP leader and a former Prime Minister, is disqualified from contesting as she is in prison for corruption, and the Opposition has brought in Kamal Hossain, a jurist who was a minister in Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s government, to lead the alliance. But the Opposition’s tacit alliance with the Jamaat-e-Islami, the militant Islamist party whose registration with the Election Commission was revoked after a 2013 court ruling, has been alarming. BNP workers too have been involved in violent incidents. For the Awami League, the election should have been an opportunity to break with the history of violence and seek the mandate based on its performance. But its increasing tendency to use force against the Opposition and the violence by its party activists have already marred the election process.
9. Snackwell effect
This refers to the tendency among dieters to over consume low-calorie food in the belief that such food is healthier than high-calorie substitutes that cause them to gain weight. In reality, however, many dieters may be consuming a lot more calories during the day by over consuming low-calorie food than they would if they simply stuck to a normal diet that includes high-calorie food. It is named after the American food brand SnackWell’s, which is popular for its low-calorie, fat-free cookies that are considered to be healthy. The Snackwell effect has been used to explain the increase in obesity levels despite the rising popularity of healthy food choices.
10. Pak. official summoned
The government of India on Thursday summoned a Pakistan High Commission official to protest incidents of terrorist infiltration and unprovoked firing on civilians across the Line of Control by the Pakistani security forces, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
According to the MEA, the official was told about specific incidents on December 21 and 26, where India has expressed “grave concerns” about consistent violation of bilateral commitments by Pakistan.
“This year, despite repeated calls for restraint… Pakistan forces have carried out over 1,962 incidents of unprovoked ceasefire violations in which 50 Indians lost their lives,” the MEA statement said.
11. Karmapa kept New Delhi in the dark
India was not informed by Ogyen Trinley Dorje before he took the passport of another country (the Commonwealth of Dominica), government sources said on Thursday, indicating a rift with the Lama who claims to be the Karmapa, who had travelled to the United States last year and has not returned despite saying on several occasions that he would do so.
Sources aware of the developments also reiterated India’s “neutral position” on which the head of the Karma Kagyu lineage is, given the rival claimant Trinley Thaye Dorje. The Dalai Lama as well as the Chinese government had, in 1992, recognised Ogyen Trinley Dorje as the rightful heir to the position, but India has not accepted that.
“The government of India does not recognise Ogyen Trinley Dorje as the 17th Karmapa Lama. There are other contenders,” said one highly placed source, clarifying the circumstances around the Karmapa’s travel documents. “He has secured the passport of the Commonwealth of Dominica. He didn’t share this information with India. He doesn’t need to, but in good faith he ought to have, since he was our guest. What was the reason for not sharing this with the government of India?” the source asked, in the first such official reaction to Ogyen Trinley Dorje’s move.
12. MEA upbeat over ties with China
Restoring relations with China and bringing back a “balance” to ties in the neighbourhood are considered achievements of the government’s foreign policy in the year 2018, while challenges ahead in 2019 will include keeping the balance between the U.S.-Europe axis on one hand and the Russia-China axis on the other.
According to a year-end review of the government’s policies, sources said, the establishment of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) by India ranked amongst its biggest successes as it is the first multilateral organisation — with as many as 71 member countries already signed on — that is headquartered in India.
13. ‘7th tranche of electoral bonds sale from Jan. 1’
The seventh tranche of electoral bonds sale will take place from January 1-10, the Finance Ministry said on Thursday. Electoral bonds are being pitched as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties as part of efforts to bring transparency in political funding.
14. UAE reopens embassy in Syria
The United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in on Thursday, marking a big diplomatic boost for President Bashar al-Assad from a U.S.-allied Arab state that once backed rebels fighting him. The UAE said the move aimed to curb risks of regional interference in “Arab, Syrian affairs” — an apparent reference to non-Arab Iran, whose support for Mr. Assad has been critical to his war effort.
The UAE flag was raised at the embassy, shut since the early months of the conflict nearly eight years ago. The UAE Foreign Ministry said its charge d’affaires assumed his duties on Thursday.
15. Seven PSBs to receive ₹28,615 crore from Centre
The government is likely to infuse ₹28,615 crore into seven public sector banks (PSBs) through recapitalisation bonds by the end of this month, sources said.
The amount infused will help the banks meet regulatory capital requirement, and its disbursement might take place before December 31, sources said.
Out of these seven PSBs, Bank of India is likely to get the highest amount of ₹10,086 crore, followed by Oriental Bank of Commerce, which might get ₹5,500 crore through recapitalisation bonds, sources added.
Other banks that are likely to receive capital infusion in this round included Bank of Maharashtra which may get ₹4,498 crore, UCO Bank (₹3,056 crore) and United Bank of India (₹2,159 crore).
The government will infuse ₹2,159 crore capital through preferential allotment in State-run United Bank of India, the lender has informed the exchanges on Thursday.
16. American adventurer finishes solo trek across Antarctica
An American adventurer has become the first person to complete a solo trek across Antarctica without assistance of any kind.
Colin O’Brady, 33, took 54 days to complete the nearly 1,600 km journey, crossing the frozen continent from coast to coast.
In an Instagram post, he explained his journey ended upon crossing the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf: the point where Antarctica’s land mass ends. It lies at the head of Ross Sea, a deep bay of the Southern Ocean.
17. U.K. seeks to double levy on plastic bags
Britain launched a consultation on Thursday on its plans to double the charge for single-use carrier bags from 2020 and extend the scheme to cover all shops. Since October 2015, large retailers in England have been legally required to impose a charge of five pence for plastic bags.
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
Public Sector Banks (PSBs)
19. Things to Remember:
Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik
20. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning 1 – (of a secret or something unknown) come to be known; be revealed.
Example – ‘it transpired that millions of dollars of debt had been hidden in a complex web of transactions’
Synonyms – become known, become apparent, be revealed, be disclosed, come to light, emerge, come out, get out, be discovered, be uncovered, materialize, leak out, turn out, be made public
Meaning 1.1 – Prove to be the case.
Example – ‘as it transpired, he was right’
Meaning 1.2 – Occur; happen.
Example – ‘I’m going to find out exactly what transpired’
Synonyms – happen, occur, take place, come about, come to pass, crop up, turn up, arise, chance, ensue, befall, be realized, take shape