Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups – News Analysis from THE HINDU (December 22, 2018)
1. Himachal, Kerala and T.N. top development index
Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu have been ranked highest in terms of being on track to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), according to a first-of-its-kind index released by NITI Aayog on Friday.
The index comprises a composite score for each State and Union Territory based on their aggregate performance across 13 of the 17 SDGs. The score, ranging between 0 and 100, denotes the average performance of the State/UT towards achieving the 13 SDGs and their respective targets. The average Indian score was 57.
Tamil Nadu has a score 66, and is the top scorer on the goals to do with eradicating poverty and also providing clean and affordable energy.
2. Hefty fines if States fail to give plans to clean up rivers: NGT
Noting that 16 States have submitted “incomplete action plans” pertaining to the cleaning of 351 polluted river stretches in the country, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has extended the deadline for submitting the action plans to January 31.
The green panel, however, added that in case of non-compliance, hefty compensation will be levied on the States and the Union Territories.
The directions came after the green panel took suo-motu cognisance of a report published by The Hindu, pertaining to an increased number of polluted river stretches across the country.
A Bench, headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, said, “Contamination of water and deterioration in water quality are matters to be taken seriously as they affect public health…Unfortunately, in spite of categorical directions of this tribunal, 15 States and UTs have failed to carry out the order.”
State Pollution Control Boards and pollution control committees of the UTs have been directed to display quality of the water of polluted river stretches on their respective websites within 30 days and the same has to be revised every three months.
3. Nod to place amendments to Haryana Police Act-2007
The Haryana Cabinet on Friday approved a proposal to place amendments to the Haryana Police Act, 2007, for consideration and deliberation in the State Assembly. The decision was taken at a meeting held here under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
“The amendments are related to selection of Director General of Police and procedures related to removal of the DGP. A committee is proposed to be constituted under the Chief Secretary with the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) and Director General of Police, Haryana, as its members and Special Secretary (Home) as its Member Secretary,” said an official statement.
4. Central teams assessing drought damage in 6 States
Inter-ministerial teams are visiting six States to assess the impact of drought in the summer monsoon season. The State governments have requested drought relief assistance from the Centre to the tune of almost ₹17,000 crore for two crore hectares of affected land, according to Agriculture Ministry data.
Rainfall shortages have hit hard in three States of the Deccan plateau — Maharshtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh — as well as the western States of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Jharkhand and Odisha have also been affected. However, the Odisha government, which has already declared drought for kharif 2018, has not yet submitted a memorandum for assistance from the Centre.
The inter-ministerial teams will assess the damage and submit their reports to a sub-committee headed by the Agriculture Secretary.
The sub-committee will send final recommendations for financial assistance from the National Disaster Response Fund to a high-level committee, headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
Maharashtra is the worst affected in terms of land area, with more than 85 lakh hectares hit by drought conditions, according to data provided to Parliament by Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh this week. Out of its 36 districts, 26 districts have been affected, and the State government has requested ₹7,522 crore in central assistance.
In Karnataka, 24 out of 30 districts have been declared drought-hit, with 37 lakh hectares affected. The State has requested assistance of ₹2,434 crore. In Rajasthan, almost 35 lakh hectares have been affected, and the State has requested nearly ₹2,820 crore of central assistance.
5. India reminds China of peace
Peace and tranquillity are “important prerequisites” of continuous development of bilateral ties between India and China, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Friday. She was speaking after a two-hour meeting with Wang Yi, her counterpart from Beijing.
“Our defence forces are trying to firm up bilateral ties and are focussed on implementing confidence-building measures. These steps will help in maintaining peace and tranquillity in our border areas…,” she said.
Ms. Swaraj pointed to the benefit drawn from frequent meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping. The two met earlier this year at Wuhan for an informal summit.
She indicated India’s readiness to host the second edition of the informal summit that was decided in Wuhan.
Ms. Swaraj highlighted the growing trade deficit as a matter of concern for Delhi, and expressed satisfaction at the steps China had taken to reduce the imbalance.
The concerns were raised at the end of bilateral discussion held during the first high-level mechanism for people-to-people exchanges.
Ms. Swaraj said that the parties identified 10 areas such as films, media, sports and tourism that would be in focus to facilitate greater relationship between the people of both countries.
Laying out Beijing’s plans, the Chinese Minister said heritage protection, academic exchanges and language teaching would be among the priority areas.
6. ₹2,250-cr. scheme for farmers in Jharkhand
Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das on Friday announced a ₹2,250-crore scheme to help 22.76 lakh medium and marginal farmers of the State double their income by 2022. The State government will give ₹5,000 per acre to 22.76 lakh medium and marginal farmers from the next financial year, he said. “Under the new Mukhya Mantri Krishi Yojana, ₹2,250 crore will be spent. The scheme will start from the 2019-20 financial year,” he said.
7. Rajya Sabha to discuss President’s Rule in J&K
The Rajya Sabha will discuss the imposition of President’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir next week, its Deputy Chairperson Harivansh said on Friday. He was replying to a comment by Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, who said the issue had not been discussed in Parliament although both Houses were functioning.
8. UAE to deposit $3 billion in Pakistan’s central bank
The United Arab Emirates said on Friday it will soon deposit $3 billion in the central bank of Pakistan to help “enhance liquidity” as the country struggles with a balance of payments crisis.
The transfer of 11 billion dirhams by the government-owned Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) is expected to be carried out in the “coming days”, the WAM news agency said. Quoting a statement from the ADFD, the state news agency said the amount is meant “to support the financial and monetary policy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan”. It will “enhance liquidity and monetary reserves of foreign currency” at the central bank, it added.
Pakistan is facing a deteriorating balance of payments crisis. The rupee plunged almost 5% to a record low at the end of November, after what appeared to be a sixth devaluation by the central bank in the past year.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan thanked the UAE on Friday “for supporting Pakistan so generously in our testing times”.
The UAE announcement came days after Pakistan attended talks in Abu Dhabi between the United States and Taliban officials from Afghanistan.
Islamabad has also received billions of dollars in Chinese loans to finance infrastructure projects.
9. U.S. to withdraw troops from Afghanistan
U.S. President Donald Trump has decided to pull a significant number of troops from Afghanistan, a U.S. official has said, but the Afghan presidency on Friday brushed off concerns that the drawdown would affect security.
Reports suggested as many as half of the 14,000 troops in the war-torn country could be leaving.
The move stunned and dismayed diplomats and officials in Kabul who are intensifying a push to end the 17-year conflict with the Taliban. Taliban already controls vast amounts of territory and is causing “unsustainable” Afghan troop casualties.
“If you’re the Taliban, Christmas has come early,” a senior foreign official in the Afghan capital told AFP.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid did not comment about the troop withdrawal when contacted by AFP. But a senior Taliban commander welcomed the decision.
10. Centre moves NCLT to re-open IL&FS books
The Corporate Affairs Ministry on Thursday moved the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), seeking to reopen the books of IL&FS Group and its subsidiaries for the past five years under Section 130 of the Companies Act, to ascertain financial mismanagement.
This is the first time that the government has invoked powers under Section 130 of the new Companies Act of 2013 to reopen the ledgers of a company.
The government wants to check the balance-sheets of crippled group entities and the two listed subsidiaries — ITNL and IL&FS Financial Services — for the past years and the move comes after the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) found shocking details of corruption, personal enrichment and other non-transparent deals.
The NCLT, however, refused to pass an immediate order saying it had to seek the views of the relevant statutory bodies and regulators such as the Reserve Bank, SEBI and the Income Tax Department, before taking a call on the petition.
11. FIFA World Cup final a big hit
A combined global audience of 1.12 billion watched the World Cup final between France and Croatia in July, FIFA, the governing body of world football, said on Friday.
In total, FIFA said, a “combined 3.572 billion viewers — more than half of the global population aged four and over — tuned in to world football’s ultimate competition” for at least a minute, over the course of the World Cup’s from June 14 to July 15.
A survey it had commissioned by FIFA found that 3.04 billion viewers caught at least three minutes, a 10.9 per cent increase on Brazil 2014, and 2.49 billion watched at least 30 minutes, or one third of one match, up on 2014’s 1.95 billion.
FIFA calculated that the average live audience for each of the 64 matches was 191 million.
The survey estimated that 9.5 per cent of that audience, or 309.7 million people, watched no coverage at home but “caught the action on digital platforms, in public viewing areas or in bars and restaurants.”
That proportion was higher for the final between France and Croatia.
FIFA said 884.37 million viewers tuning in to traditional TV coverage.
And a further 231.82 million watching outside the home or digitally.
12. InSight Lander places first instrument on Mars
NASA’s InSight lander has deployed a seismometer on the surface of Mars, completing a major mission milestone that will allow scientists to peer into the Martian interior by studying ground motion — also known as marsquakes. New images show the seismometer, with its copper-coloured covering, NASA said.
National Green Tribunal (NGT)
National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)
14. Things to Remember:
Chief Minister of Meghalaya – Shri Conrad Sangma
15. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning – Not intimidated or discouraged by difficulty, danger, or disappointment.
Example – ‘they were undaunted by the huge amount of work needed’
Synonyms – unafraid, undismayed, unalarmed, unflinching, unshrinking, unabashed, unfaltering, unflagging, fearless, dauntless, intrepid, bold, valiant, brave, stout-hearted, lionhearted, courageous, heroic, gallant, doughty, plucky, game, mettlesome, gritty, steely, indomitable, resolute, determined, confident, audacious, daring, daredevil