Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups – News Analysis from THE HINDU (December 23, 2018)
1. Bogibeel Bridge
Bogibeel bridge is a combined road and rail bridge over the
Brahmaputra river in the north eastern Indian state of Assam between Dhemaji
district and Dibrugarh district.
The 4.94-km-long structure, India’s longest rail-cum-road
bridge across the Brahmaputra is India’s first fully-welded bridge, which will
protect it from harsh weather.
The 4.94-km-long structure, India’s longest rail-cum-road
bridge across the Brahmaputra, will help the Indian armed forces move men and
material to Arunachal Pradesh in a faster manner. It will also benefit the
Indian Railways, as it will help reduce the distance between Assam and
Arunachal Pradesh by 600 km.
The design of the ₹4,857 crore bridge is such that, unlike a
normal steel bridge, it did not require the use of a single nut or bolt. Bolts
and rivets that are normally used in a steel bridge require periodic replacement
due to shear failure over traffic loads.
It is set to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi
on December 25.
2. Govt. eyeing quick fix for farm sector
The defeat in the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh,
Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh has made the government go back to the drawing board
over the issue of rural distress, and some measures to bolster incomes in the
countryside may be announced by the end of the winter session of Parliament.
While the problems plaguing the agriculture sector are
long-standing and need long-term solutions, there is a realisation that rural
incomes need to be bolstered.
3. Kamal Nath likely to form
Cabinet on December 25
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath is likely to form
his new Cabinet on December 25, a Congress leader said on Saturday.
Mr. Nath was camping in Delhi and has almost received a
green signal from the party high command, the leader added. The names of the
new Ministers might be announced on December 25.
The Congress veteran was sworn in as CM on December 17, six
days after the Congress pulled a narrow victory over the BJP which ruled the
State for 15 years since 2003. According to the party insiders, one or two
Independent MLAs might get a berth in the new Cabinet. Though the Congress
emerged as the single largest party in the 230-member Assembly, it failed to
cross the halfway mark on its own and sought support of the BSP and SP which
have won two and one seat each.
4. Gurugram centre to monitor IOR
Consolidating the regional efforts with friendly nations to
keep the global commons “open and accessible for all,” India on Saturday
inaugurated an Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) which
will work closely with countries in the region and will be manned by the Indian
“The need for IFC-IOR stems from importance of the IOR for
world trade and security. All stakeholders are equal in this maritime security
and safety milestone,” Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at the
The IFC has been established at the Navy’s Information
Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) at Gurugram, the single point centre
interlinking all the coastal radar chains to generate a seamless real-time
picture of the nearly 7,500-km long coastline.
The IFC aims to bring various countries in the region and
pool in best practices to jointly monitor the vast IOR which is increasingly
becoming the theatre of contention between great powers apart from an increase
in natural disasters and trans-national threats like piracy, terrorism and
According to Navy officials, “all countries — about 21 —
that have already signed White Shipping Information Exchange agreements with us
are IFC partners and can post International Liaison Officers (ILOs) at the
centre.” At least 10 countries, including the U.S., France, Italy and Japan,
have expressed interest in posting their officers. “It is for equals, it is for
partners,” Ms. Sitharaman stated.
The centre will be tracking and monitoring 75,000 to 1.5
lakh shipping traffic in the IOR in real time, round-the-clock.
5. In Meghalaya, flouting the ban on mining
An ‘underground economy’ has for long been known to fuel
Meghalaya’s politics. It has taken the collapse of a coal mine and – in all
probability – the death of at least 15 miners for the reality of illegal mining
to hit hard.
The accident on December 13, when the miners struck an
aquifer leading to the flooding of a 370-foot mine, was the first after the
National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned unscientific ‘rat-hole mining’ in the
State on April 17, 2014.
Where is the mine?
The mine, about 130 km from the capital Shillong, is at Ksan
near the river Lytein in the Saipung area of East Jaintia Hills, one of eight
mining districts of the State.
The site is 48 km from where rights and anti-mining activist
Agnes Kharshiing was assaulted a month ago for her campaign against illegal
mining. East Jaintia Hills has a major share of an estimated coal reserve of
576 million tonnes in the State, which also has substantial deposits of
limestone and other minerals. Much of the coal sent out of Meghalaya before the
NGT ban was from this district. An assessment by a committee, constituted by
the NGT, recorded the highest amount of extracted coal — 3.7 million tonnes of
a total 6.5 million tonnes — in the State in September 2014.
What prompted the NGT ban?
The NGT ban, retained in 2015, followed a petition filed by
the All Dimasa Students’ Union in Assam. The union had cited a study by O.P.
Singh of the North Eastern Hill University that said mining in the coal belts
and coal stockpiles in the Jaintia Hills areas were polluting rivers and streams
flowing down to Assam’s Dima Hasao district, killing aquatic life and rendering
the water unfit for drinking or irrigation. Apart from the ecological impact,
the NGT observed that “there is umpteen number of cases where by virtue of
rat-hole mining, during the rainy season, water flooded into the mining areas
resulting in the death of many.” The trigger for the ban was the case of 15
miners trapped fatally inside a flooded mine in the South Garo Hills in July
2012. In between, a Shillong-based NGO filed a public interest litigation
petition against illegal coal mining, claiming the rat-hole mines employed
70,000 child labourers. The government later said only 222 children were found
working in the mines.
What is rat-hole mining?
Coal mining in Meghalaya, financed by businessmen from
outside, took off commercially in the 1980s. Since much of the State’s land is
community-owned, it was easy for the moneyed locals to purchase land and employ
non-tribal labourers to burrow for maximum profit. Rat-hole mining, involving
digging of tunnels 3-4 feet high, was the most preferred to strike at narrow
coal seams deeper inside the hills.
The less dangerous of two methods of digging tunnels is
side-cutting on the slopes. The other method entails digging a rectangular pit
vertically to a depth of up to 400 metres. Rat-hole-sized tunnels are dug
horizontally wherever the coal seams are found for the workers to crawl in and
out. The NGT found these techniques unscientific and unsafe for workers.
6. Sikkim’s highest forest zone could get denser
The cold climes on high-altitude mountain tops make it
usually difficult for trees to grow above the timberline (the last canopy
forests on the mountains). Though global warming is changing this in many of
the world’s high mountains and causing timberlines to move upward, the eastern
Himalaya may be an exception, find scientists. The zone of uppermost canopy
forests here are unlikely to shift upwards but will get denser, suggests a
study in PLOS ONE.
Timberlines, the uppermost limit of canopy forests that
gradually gives way to the treeline (beyond which trees do not grow) are
limited by climate: factors including low temperatures and high winds on
mountain tops prevent woody tree growth higher up. Timberlines, therefore,
serve as indicators of climate change. To find out if a similar pattern exists
in the eastern Himalaya, scientists from institutes including Sikkim’s G. B.
Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment and Sustainable Development
studied the composition and regeneration of woody trees in the timberline
ecotone (transition zone) between the timberline and treeline, of Khangchendzonga
Across nine contiguous sites in the Park, the team studied
tree composition in this ecotone which lay between 3,787 and 3,989 metres above
sea level. Among the 20 woody tree species they recorded here, the Bhutan fir
Abies densa, the woolly rhododendron Rhododendron lanatum and the small-leaf
rowan Sorbus microphylla dominated the vegetation. Environmental factors such
as elevation, slope and humus played a role in this species composition. The
density of trees in the timberline ecotone was significantly higher than that
of its western Himalayan counterparts.
7. Revealing dark matter
Astronomers now have a revolutionary, more accurate way to
“see” dark matter in galactic clusters. They use the fact that individual stars
stripped from their galaxies have a distribution that reflects that of dark
matter in those regions.
8. An operative needle that sees
Scientists in Australia have created an inter-operative
needle that can visualise brain blood vessels in live human patients with high
sensitivity and specificity. Their goal is to reduce the risk of fatal
haemorrhaging during neurosurgery. The study is reportedly the first use of an
optical coherence tomography needle probe in human brains in vivo. Needle
biopsies of the brain are commonly used for diagnosing brain tumours, but they
are risky because they can lead to intracerebral haemorrhaging if a blood
vessel is hit while the brain is being probed for tissue. Existing
intra-operative technologies, such as inter-operative MRI, do provide real-time
information during surgery; however, these techniques are expensive and usually
impractical. The new needle combines a commercial biopsy needle with a tiny
optical coherence tomography camera to build a tool that allows for
differentiation between blood flow and tissues in real time. The researchers
found the needle could detect at-risk blood vessels with 91.2% sensitivity and
97.7% specificity. Details of the device have been published in the journal
9. What is the hedonistic treadmill?
Also known as the hedonistic adaptation, it refers to
people’s tendency to return to a stable state of happiness in the aftermath of
a major positive or negative event. This also implies that accumulation of material
prosperity, beyond a point, brings about no greater increase in happiness.
Recently, researchers have found that the ‘joy of giving’ fades away much
slower than the ‘joy of receiving’. Why this is so is as yet unclear. An
explanation is that when people focus on an outcome, such as getting paid, they
can easily compare outcomes which diminishes their sensitivity to each
experience. When people focus on an action, such as donating to a charity, they
may focus less on comparison and instead experience each act of giving as a
unique happiness-inducing event.
Book – Notes of a Dream: The Authorized Biography of A.R.
Writer – Krishna Trilok
Description – A young biographer goes with the beat to bring
out the inner world of the shy genius, A.R. Rahman
Book – Sweden’s Dark Soul: The Unravelling of a Utopia
Writer – Kajsa Norman
Description – Racism, sexual assault, slave trade — Sweden’s
squeaky clean image is ripped apart in an expat’s grim account
Book – Patel: Political Ideas and Policies
Writer – Edited by Shakti Sinha & Himanshu Roy
Description – How Patel mobilised India before and after
Book – Early Indians: The Story of Our Ancestors and Where
We Came From
Writer – Tony Joseph
Description – When did the first humans come to India? Based
on DNA research and archaeological evidence, Joseph traces the large migration
of humans into the subcontinent. He tells us about the Harappans, whether north
Indians are genetically different from south Indians, and when the caste system
began. This is the story of India’s prehistory up to the Vedic period.
Book – Deities & Devotees: Cinema, Religion, and
Politics in South India
Writer – Uma Maheswari Bhruguband
Description – This study explains how cinema and popular
religion have shaped each other. Unlike Hindi cinema, mythological and
devotional films have remained popular genres in Telugu (and Tamil too).
Pointing at viewership, the author argues that cinema and other audio-visual
technologies have led to the re-orientation of sensibilities and the
cultivation of new sensory modes.
Book – How To Rig An Election
Writer – Nic Cheeseman & Brian Klaas
Description – Is the world becoming less democratic and do
dictators who hold elections survive longer? Two writers explain the concept of
a ‘dictator’s toolbox’ and uncover the six main strategies that enable
authoritarian leaders to undermine the electoral process and guarantee victory,
drawing on global examples of rigging, from Azerbaijan and Belarus to India,
the U.S. and Zimbabwe.
Book – Free Hit: The Story of Women’s Cricket in India
Writer – Suprita Das
Description – In the 2017 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup,
India made it to the finals and lost. However, the tournament marked an
unprecedented high in viewership. This book tells the story of how women’s
cricket in India got here, and casts light on gender-based pay gaps,
sponsorship challenges, and the indifference of cricketing officials.
Book – The Anatomy of a Sting
Writer – Bhupen Patel
Description – It takes a lot of hard work to not just
uncover a story but to also gather enough evidence to bring it to light. The
author who, as an investigative journalist, has exposed all sorts of rackets,
recounts some of his dramatic and hard-hitting operations, taking the reader
through the entire process of a sting.
11. Pay up or lose rights to host 2023 WC, ICC tells BCCI
In a major blow to the Board of Control for Cricket in India
(BCCI), the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Saturday asked the board to
either pay $23 million by the end of this year as compensation for the tax
deductions incurred in hosting the 2016 World T20 or end up losing the World
Cup 2023 rights.
During the ICC board meeting in Singapore in October, it was
decided that the BCCI would have to compensate for the tax deductions that the
ICC faced as India hosted the 2016 World T20, after no exemption in taxes was
given by either the State or the Central Government.
The ICC also mulled deducting the amount from the revenue
share for the ongoing financial year from BCCI’s coffers if they failed to
comply with the demands.
As per reports, the BCCI has asked the ICC to share the
minutes of the meeting where they had promised to get them a tax waiver.
But the ICC, they said, haven’t shared the same as of yet.
According to reports, while former president N. Srinivasan
was at the helm of BCCI, he did not promise the ICC any compensation for tax
deductions if they fail to receive a waiver from the government.
India is slated to host the 2021 Champions Trophy and the
2023 World Cup.
12. B.V.P. Rao is Archery association president
The panel headed by B.V.P. Rao won the key positions in the
election of the Archery Association of India here on Saturday.
The election was held under the supervision of former Chief
Election Commissioner S. Y. Quraishi. The secretary’s post went to Maha Singh
and D. K. Vidyarthi was elected the new treasurer.
On his election, Rao said, “We have ended the V.K. Malhotra
era. I will focus on the management of the sport which suffered a lot in the
last several years. I will see to it that we conduct all national events on
time and offer better conditions for the archers.”
Rao promised good facilities to the archers. “The archers
will receive quality training, equipment support and competition exposure. We
will also develop plans to nurture talent by working in close co-ordination
with various agencies,” Rao added.
Office-bearers: President: B.V.P. Rao; Sr Vice-president:
Sunil Sharma; Vice-president: Rajendar Singh Tomar, Purnima Mahato; Secretary:
Maha Singh; Treasurer: DK Vidyarthi; Joint-secretaries: Manoj Kumar, Dhul Chand
Damor; Executive members: V. Lalzawmliana and Kh. Bheigyabati Chanu, Bansaralin
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)
Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC)
14. Things to Remember:
President of Archery association: B.V.P. Rao
15. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning 1 – Showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold
Example – ‘a series of audacious takeovers’
Synonyms – bold, daring, fearless, intrepid, brave,
unafraid, unflinching, courageous, valiant, valorous, heroic, dashing, plucky,
daredevil, devil-may-care, death-or-glory, reckless, wild, madcap
Meaning 2 – Showing an impudent lack of respect.
Example – ‘he made an audacious remark’
Synonyms – impudent, impertinent, insolent, presumptuous,
forward, cheeky, irreverent, discourteous, disrespectful, insubordinate,
ill-mannered, bad-mannered, unmannerly, mannerless, rude, crude, brazen,
brazen-faced, brash, shameless, pert, defiant, bold, bold as brass, outrageous,
shocking, out of line