Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups – News Analysis from THE HINDU (December 31, 2018)
1. PM Sheikh Hasina set for a landslide win in Bangladesh
Initial trends in Bangladesh’s general election indicated a “landslide” for the ruling coalition, the Grand Alliance led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Awami League.
However, the Opposition’s rainbow coalition, the Jatiyo Oikya Front (JOF), led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has rejected the election and demanded a re-election under a neutral government.
Counting began soon after polling for 299 seats ended at 4 p.m. on Sunday. By late in the evening, a local television station, Channel 24, reported that the Awami League had easily crossed the 151 seats required to form a majority government.
The Election Commission confirmed the complete result in one constituency in southwestern Gopalganj, where Ms. Hasina bagged 2,29,539 votes while her opponent from the BNP got only 123 votes.
2. Triple talaq Bill likely to face stiff resistance in RS
The Centre is likely to face stiff resistance in its second attempt to ensure passage of the triple talaq Bill when it comes up on Monday in the Rajya Sabha, as the Congress is all set to oppose the proposed law in coordination with other Opposition parties.
The amended Bill, passed by the Lok Sabha this past week, is listed in the business of the Upper House for the day.
In the last session, the earlier Bill could not be taken up in the Rajya Sabha due to a lack of consensus among political parties.
Although the government expressed the hope that the Bill would find support in the Rajya Sabha, this time too the Congress plans to oppose it.
3. Veteran filmmaker Mrinal Sen dead
Mrinal Sen, one of the towering figures of Indian cinema, passed away on Sunday at his south residence. He was suffering from ailments related to old age. He was 95.
The last rites are likely to be performed on January 2 after his son Kunal returns from abroad.
The last of the triumvirate of legendary filmmakers that included Satyajit Ray and Ritwick Ghatak, Sen received various national and international awards, including the Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 2003.
Legendary actor Soumitra Chatterjee, who worked in four of his films, described Sen’s death as the “fall of a titan”, and said he was the last of the directors to usher in the golden era in Bengali cinema.
Sen was heavily influenced by parallel cinema and introduced a new kind of film-making with his unusual camera movement, non-linear narrative, discontinuities and freeze frames — something Indian cinema had never seen before.
4. Pradhan launches sanitary pad-making initiative
The Ujjwala Sanitary Napkins initiative by three oil marketing companies – IOCL, BPCL and HPCL – was launched by Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan here on Sunday.
The three companies will set up 100 manufacturing units at the Common Service Centres (CSC) covering 93 Blocks across 30 districts of Odisha at an estimated cost of ₹2.94 crore.
Mr. Pradhan said the mission, which forms part of the CSR initiative of OMCs in Odisha, is aimed to educate women on female hygiene and health, improve accessibility to low cost eco-friendly sanitary pads and boost rural employment and economy.
At least 10 Ujjwala beneficiary women will get employment at each CSC. Each facility will have a capacity to produce 1,200-2,000 pads per day and will have a sterilisation room to ensure that the napkins are sterilised before they are packed for use by rural women.
The CSCs are also being provided with raw material, enough to make 45,000-50,000 pads. These napkins will be priced at ₹40 per pack, each containing eight pads. The Ujjwala pads will be made of virgin wood pulp sheet, non-woven white sheet and a gel sheet which are all biodegradable in nature and will leave minimal carbon footprint.
5. Diffusion of responsibility
This refers to a social phenomenon wherein individuals who are members of a group refuse to take personal responsibility for their actions. Instead, each individual assumes that other members of the group are responsible for group outcomes. Such diffusion of responsibility is often considered to be the result of lack of ownership among individual members of a group. Since no single person is held responsible for any group outcome, members of the group lack any significant positive or negative incentive to take responsibility for their actions. The concept has been used to explain the behaviour of mobs, crowds, and groups of people in general.
6. CIC gets four Information Commissioners
The government has appointed four new Information Commissioners in the Central Information Commission, which was functioning with just three of Commissioners as against a sanctioned strength of 11, including the Chief Information Commissioner.
President Ram Nath Kovind has approved the appointment of former IFS officer Yashwardhan Kumar Sinha, former IRS officer Vanaja N. Sarna, former IAS officer Neeraj Kumar Gupta and former Law Secretary Suresh Chandra as Information Commissioners in the CIC, a government order accessed by PTI said.
Mr. Sinha is a 1981-batch IFS officer and former High Commissioner of India in the United Kingdom. The only woman in the CIC, Ms. Sarna is a 1980-batch Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Excise) officer, who was the Chief of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC).
7. Hard lesson: funds not enough to attract teachers to government schools
State governments have increased their budgets for school education in the past three years, but the allotment of funds has not been enough to attract permanent qualified teaching staff to government schools, finds a recent study conducted across six States.
The report, prepared jointly by Child Rights and You (CRY) and the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA), examines budgeting for school education in six States — West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra — during the 14th Finance Commission recommendation period, which started in April 2015.
The study finds that there has been an overall increase in revenue with the States following the 14th Finance Commission recommendations. This was a result of an increase in the share of the States in the divisible pool of Central taxes from 32% to 42%. At the same time, a reduction in the Union government’s contribution to the States for Central schemes in social sectors forced the States to improve their tax revenue collection. The study analyses whether the availability of additional funds translated into prioritising of school education in these six States.
Between 2015-16 and 2017-18, there was a net decline in the share of school education budget in the total State Budget for three of the six States, according to the detailed demand for Grants and State Budget documents. Bihar saw a dip of 3.1%, Maharashtra a drop of 1% and West Bengal 0.9%. On the other hand, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh saw an increase in the size of school education budget by 0.4%, 2.6% and 3.2%, respectively.
The report examines whether the increase in the size of school education budget was more than the rise in size of the total budget, indicating a higher priority for the sector. It concluded that between 2014-15 and 2017-18, Uttar Pradesh saw a 98.8% increase in budget for schools, whereas its total budget increased by 63.3%. West Bengal’s budget for school education increased by 49.4% while its total budget increased by 48.2% and in Tamil Nadu, the former increased by 38.7% but the total budget increased by 38.5%, indicating that school education was a priority for these three States.
At the same time, all the six States showed an increase in the magnitude of per-child and per-student spending for education between 2014-15 and 2016-17.
8. Better patrolling, technology helped foresters nab golfer
Braving the chilly winter morning of December 26, a team of five or six Forest Department staffers who were on patrol duty intercepted a SUV approaching a buffer area in a corner of the Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary.
Despite the dense fog, the glowing headlights of the vehicle gave away its position.
It was around 5.30 a.m. that the SUV was seized, more than an hour-and-a-half after it probably entered the sanctuary in Bahraich.
A dead fowl, which was allegedly hunted, hide of sambhar deer and boar and a .22 rifle, binoculars, range finders and other equipment were recovered from the vehicle, which had a Haryana number plate.
9. Ross Island is now Netaji Dweep
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday announced renaming of three islands of the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago as a tribute to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
The Ross Island was renamed Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Dweep, the Neil Island as Shaheed Dweep and the Havelock Island as Swaraj Dweep, Mr. Modi said to thunderous applause from the audience here.
The three islands are major tourist spots.
Donning the Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army) cap, he addressed a public meeting at the Netaji Stadium on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the hoisting of the Tricolour by Bose here. “When it comes to heroes of the freedom struggle, we take the name of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose with pride. The first Prime Minister of the Azad Hind government, Subhas Babu had made India’s Independence resolution on the soil of Andaman,” he said.
On this day in 1943, Bose had suggested that Andaman and Nicobar Islands be renamed Shahid and Swaraj Dweep. Mr. Modi released a commemorative stamp, its first-day cover and a ₹75 coin. He announced the setting up of a deemed university named after Bose.
10. CAIT flags ‘undue pressure by lobbies’ against e-com rules
The Confederation of All India Traders has hit out at the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum’s statement terming the recent changes in the e-commerce rules “regressive”, saying that such a statement was an attempt by companies such as Amazon and Walmart to try to pressurise the Indian government into relaxing the rules.
The government last week issued a clarification to the e-commerce rules that tightened the operational leeway for e-commerce firms with foreign direct investment in them, and which exerted direct or indirect control over vendors selling on their portals.
11. Centre launches global search for AI top slots
The Centre plans to hire professionals for top positions in Air India through a global search process, as part of efforts to revive the national carrier, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said.
Against this backdrop, the Centre is considering the proposal to professionalise AI management. The carrier is estimated to have a debt of over ₹55,000 crore and about ₹29,000 crore is to be transferred into an special purpose vehicle.
12. Kohli & his merry men keep date with destiny
You can freeze the frame. A joyous Virat Kohli defying gravity, leaping as high as his ambition, even as teammates swarm around him.
Ishant Sharma bounced at Nathan Lyon, the batsman attempted a hook, and a gleeful ’keeper Rishabh Pant held the top-edge. The Test had been won.
With an unassailable 2-1 lead in the four-Test series, the visitors will now attempt to accomplish what no Indian team has ever done — triumph in a Test series in Australia — when the Sydney Test begins on January 3.
India’s last Test victory at the iconic MCG came way back in 1981 when Sunil Gavaskar’s team, inspired by Kapil Dev, overcame Australia by 59 runs.
13. Space probe nears dark side of moon
A Chinese space probe is moving into position to land on the dark side of the moon for the first time, the official Xinhua agency reported on Sunday.
The probe, the Chang’e-4, entered a planned orbit on Sunday “to prepare for the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon”, the news agency said, citing the China National Space Administration. It didn’t say when the landing would occur.
The moon is tidally locked to Earth, rotating at the same rate that it orbits our planet, so the far side — or the “dark side” — is never visible from Earth.
Xinhua said the probe had entered an elliptical lunar orbit at 08.55 Beijing time, which brought it at its closest point just 15 km away from the surface of the moon. The Chang’e-4 first entered a lunar orbit on December 12.
14. China to mark Year of the Pig with ‘Peppa Pig’ film
China is set to mark the Year of the Pig with a film starring ‘Peppa Pig’. A government document listing upcoming movie projects shows a new film in the works titled ‘Peppa Pig Celebrates Chinese New Year” to be released in February 2019 during the Lunar New Year holiday.
Central Information Commission (CIC)
Public Information Officer (PIO)
Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC)
Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT)
16. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning 1 – A sign of what will happen in the future; an omen.
Example – ‘they heard the sound as an augury of death’
Synonyms – omen, sign, indication, presage, warning, forewarning, harbinger, signal, promise, threat, menace, ill omen, forecast, prediction, prognostication, prophecy, straw in the wind, writing on the wall, hint, auspice
Meaning 1.1 – The interpretation of omens.
Synonyms – fortune telling, divining, foretelling the future, forecasting the future, prophecy, prediction, soothsaying