Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups – News Analysis from THE HINDU (January 01, 2019)
1. Govt. rejects demand to send triple talaq bill to House panel
The government on Monday rejected the Opposition’s demand in the Rajya Sabha to send the contentious Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, to a joint select committee for further scrutiny.
The House was adjourned after heated exchanges between the treasury and Opposition benches.
The Bill will be taken up again on Wednesday, when the House meets after a break for New Year’s Day. The legislation was cleared by the Lok Sabha on Friday.
The government is in an uncomfortable position, with at least three parties, including NDA ally Janata Dal (United), opposed to the legislation.
2. 2018 was a landmark year for BJP, women in Northeast
The Bharatiya Janata Party expanded its footprint across the Northeast in 2018 by forming coalition governments in Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura. But a regional party, Mizo National Front, struck the final blow in Mizoram to make the region “Congress-free”.
The year was also the best and the worst for women in the Northeast. Assam’s sprinter Hima Das made history for Indian athletics by striking gold in the 400m at the World U-20 Athletics championship in Finland and Manipur pugilist M.C. Mary Kom created a world record at 35 by winning her sixth gold at the World Women Boxing championship. Assam’s Rima Das became a household name when her low-budget film Village Rockstars got the best national film award and was nominated as India’s entry for the Oscars in the best foreign films category.
On the flip side, Meghalaya-based activists Agnes Kharshiing and Amita Sangma battled for life after members of alleged coal mafia assaulted them for following and documenting illegally stacked coal and coal-laden trucks. The assault on them and a mishap in an illegal mine at Ksan in the State’s East Jaintia Hills district a month later put the spotlight on an unholy nexus that encourages coal mine owners – many of them lawmakers – flout an April 2014 ban by NGT on ‘rat-hole’ mining with impunity.
NRC, Citizenship Bill
The issue that hogged the headlines was that of exercise to update the National Register of Citizens in Assam and the Narendra Modi government’s bid to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, that seeks to legitimise the stay of non-Muslims who migrated from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan till December 2014 due to alleged religious persecution.
The defining moment of the NRC exercise began past the midnight of December 31, 2017, with the publication of the first draft that accommodated 1.39 crore out of the 3.29 crore applicants. The complete draft was released on July 31 with the names of 40.07 lakh people left out of the list. The claims and objections round for the excluded to be back on the list by producing relevant proof of citizenship ends on December 31.
The crowning glory for Assam was the appointment of Ranjan Gogoi, the man at the helm of the Supreme Court-monitored NRC, as the first Chief Justice of the apex court from the Northeast.
3. ASI declared 6 monuments of national importance in 2018
The 125-year-old Old High Court Building in Nagpur, Maharashtra, and two Mughal-era monuments in Agra — Haveli of Agha Khan and Hathi Khana — are among the six monuments declared protected and of national importance by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 2018.
The ancient Neemrana Baori in Rajasthan’s Alwar district; the Group of Temples at Ranipur Jharail in Odisha’s Bolangir; and the Vishnu Temple in Kotali, Pithoragarh district, Uttarkhand, are the three other monuments that have been listed.
In 2016 and 2017, no new monument was included in the list of sites of national importance. The last monument to be included in the list, in 2015, was the Vishnu Temple in Nadavayal in Kerala’s Wayanad district.
The list was presented in the Lok Sabha on December 24, 2018, by the Ministry of Culture in response to a question by the Shiv Sena MP from Ramtek, Krupal Balaji Tumane. Replying to the question, the Ministry said that the ASI takes up a survey for documenting/reporting ancient monuments/sites through exploration, and that a village-to-village survey and conservation of monuments is a continuous process.
According to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, an “Ancient Monument means any structure, erection or monument, or any tumulus or place of interment, or any cave, rock-sculpture, inscription or monolith which is of historical, archaeological or artistic interest and which has been in existence for not less than 100 years.”
There were 3,686 centrally protected monuments/sites under the ASI in the country; the number has now increased to 3,693. Uttar Pradesh (745 monuments/sites), Karnataka (506) and Tamil Nadu (413) have the highest number of ASI-maintained sites.
4. RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Authority) Act, 2016
The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 is an Act of the Parliament of India which seeks to protect home-buyers as well as help boost investments in the real estate industry. Wikipedia
Date signed: 25 March 2016
Date assented to: 25 March 2016
Bill published on: 14 August 2013
Bill: Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2016
Date commenced: 01 May 2016 (59 of 92 sections notified); 01 May 2017 (remaining)
Enacted by: Parliament of India
Introduced by: Dr. Girija Vyas, Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation
5. Centre gives ₹1,146.12 cr. more for cyclone relief
A high-level committee, chaired by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, on Monday approved an additional ₹1,146.12 crore to Tamil Nadu from the National Disaster Response Fund for relief in the districts ravaged by Cyclone Gaja.
6. Hasina’s triumph
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s party was always going to win Sunday’s parliamentary election. She remains immensely popular, her government sought a fresh mandate with a formidable record of economic growth and social progress and her party, the Awami League, set the agenda for the election and dominated the campaign. Still, the scale of the victory would have taken even her supporters by surprise. The party’s Grand Alliance won 288 of the 299 seats contested, more than the 234 seats it won in 2014 when the Bangladesh Nationalist Party boycotted the poll. This time, the Opposition coalition Jatiya Oikya Front, led by the BNP, secured only seven seats. But there are conflicting claims about the way the election was conducted. As soon as the results were known, Kamal Hossain, the leader of the Opposition coalition, called it a farcical election and demanded that the Election Commission call a fresh poll. More than 40 Opposition candidates pulled out of the race after voting began on Sunday, alleging rigging. However, the Election Monitoring Forum and the SAARC Human Rights Foundation, which includes both local and international observers, said in its preliminary evaluation that the election was “much freer and fairer” than previous ones. In the past, Bangladesh had seen governments declining to hold elections, one being cancelled and called again, and others being delayed amid violence. This time the election was called on time. Participation was higher, with the turnout at 66%, compared to 51% in 2014.
The challenge before Ms. Hasina is daunting. To begin with, she has to heal a country rattled by political divisions and violence. The government and the Election Commission could have held the election without being open to charges that it was manipulated. There was a crackdown on the Opposition in the run-up to polling day. Pro-Opposition websites were taken down, thousands of activists were jailed, and political violence was unleashed to target BNP members. The situation was so grave that even one of the election commissioners said there was no level playing field. The Election Commission should conduct a fair investigation into allegations of rigging to restore faith in the poll process. Ms. Hasina should reach out to the Opposition. Her otherwise impressive record has been marred by her government’s authoritarian character. The victory is a chance for Ms. Hasina to mend her ways, to be more inclusive and run a government that respects the rule of law, the basic rights of citizens and institutional freedom. For India, Ms. Hasina’s victory is good news. New Delhi and Dhaka have deepened economic, security and strategic ties under her leadership. This should continue, no matter what the general election outcome in India in 2019.
7. Kübler-Ross model
This refers to the five emotional stages that a person usually goes through during a period of grief. They are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. However, not all people who experience grief go through all these stages. Some people may skip past some of the stages. The duration of each stage of grief may also vary from person to person depending on various reasons. The Kübler-Ross model was first proposed by Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying, based on her study of patients who were terminally ill.
8. JPC clears its report on citizenship Bill
The Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016, which proposes citizenship to persecuted minorities barring Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, is likely to table its report on January 7 on the penultimate day of the winter session of Parliament as the panel on Monday cleared the report rejecting all amendments moved by the Opposition.
At Monday’s meeting, out of 30 members, all the 13 BJP members were present. And only six Opposition members were present. The draft report will be circulated on January 3 and it will be tabled on January 7. The Opposition is now planning to file dissent notes to the joint committee’s report.
The report will clear the decks for the legislation to become a reality. The Bill proposes citizenship to six persecuted minorities — Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists — from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who came to India before 2014.
9. Sudhir Bhargava is new CIC chief
The government has appointed Sudhir Bhargava the new Chief Information Commissioner. Four new members have also been appointed to the Central Information Commission (CIC), taking its strength to seven. Four vacancies still remain.
The CIC is the highest appeal body under the Right to Information Act. It has been functioning with just three members since the former chief and several members completed their tenure last month.
Mr. Bhargava, a former Secretary to the Social Justice Ministry, will be sworn in by President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday. He has been a Commissioner since June 2015, and will take over as the ninth chief of the CIC. As all of his predecessors, he is a retired bureaucrat.
All four new commissioners are also retired bureaucrats. Yashwardhan Kumar Sinha was High Commissioner to the U.K. Vanaja N. Sarna was chief of the Central Board of Excise and Customs.
Suresh Chandra retired as Union Law Secretary earlier this year. Neeraj Kumar Gupta was Secretary in the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management.
10. LS passes medical council Bill
The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill to allow a panel of eminent professionals to run the scam-tainted Medical Council of India (MCI) so that medical education can be regulated in the best manner.
The Bill seeks to replace an ordinance issued in September 2018.
Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda said this Bill superseded the MCI and the powers of the council had been vested in a Board of Governors (BoG). The BoG will have all eminent personalities and include directors of AIIMS and PGI, Chandigarh. This board will continue to perform till a council is constituted, according to Mr. Nadda.
A separate Bill to replace the MCI with the National Medical Commission is pending in Parliament. “This Bill has been issued so that medical education can be regulated in the best manner,” he said.
11. V.K. Yadav is new Railway Board Chairman
V.K. Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway, has been appointed the new Railway Board Chairman. Mr. Yadav takes over from Ashwani Lohani, who retired on Monday. He belongs to the 1980 batch of the Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers. Mr. Lohani was appointed Chairman after A.K. Mital resigned in August, 2017, following the derailment of the Kaifiyat Express in Uttar Pradesh.
12. New e-com norms spoil party for big players
It was bold a step by the government and a huge blow for the big players in India’s e-commerce market. The new rules announced by the Centre last week have indeed spoilt the year-end party for the likes of Flipkart-Walmart and Amazon.
These big players in the e-commerce space are now forced to go into an huddle, and devise a new way out to sustain their business aspirations in India.
More than anybody else, these players will be hit hard as they run their enterprises in India on a marketplace model, which does allow them the luxury of having foreign direct investment (FDI).
The tightening of the e-commerce rules must be seen in the context of alleged misuse of this marketplace model by many an e-commerce firm.
These firms have been said to use a circuitous mechanism to get around the restrictions in a marketplace model. The back-door window is now effectively shut for them.
Essentially, the new rules prohibit any equity relationship between marketplace e-commerce players or their associate firms with vendors.
Should there be any such understanding between them, the vendors will then not be allowed to sell their products through the platform owned by the instant e-commerce company. Also, the new rules explicitly talk about an arm’s length relationship between them.
Should a vendor source over 25% of their inventory from an e-commerce company or firms controlled by it, then it would be disallowed from selling its product on that e-commerce platform.
The rules will have immediate cost implications for Walmart-Flipkart, Amazon and the like, who have built up huge inventory (using their group firms to stock up with vendors who sell on their platforms).
13. Iran oil: no tax on rupee payments
The Finance Ministry has exempted rupee payments made to the National Iranian Oil Co. (NIOC) for crude oil imports from a steep withholding tax, according to a government order reviewed by .
The exemption will allow Indian refiners to settle about $1.5 billion of outstanding payments to NIOC. The two nations on November 2 signed a pact to settle oil trades through UCO Bank in rupees, currency not freely traded on international markets.
14. Smriti wins two ICC awards
Smriti Mandhana was on Monday adjudged the Women’s Cricketer of the Year as well as the Women’s ODI Player of the Year by the ICC.
Left-handed opener Smriti won the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Award for the Women’s Cricketer of the Year for scoring 669 runs in 12 ODIs, along with 622 runs in 25 T20Is in 2018. Her ODI runs came at 66.90 while her strike-rate for T20Is was 130.67. Smriti played a crucial role in India’s semifinal appearance at the Women’s World T20 in the West Indies, where she scored 178 runs in five matches at a strike-rate of 125.35.
Smriti became only the second India woman player to win an ICC award after fast bowler Jhulan Goswami, who was named the ICC Player of the Year in 2007.
England’s 19-year-old left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone has been voted the Emerging Player of the Year after grabbing 18 wickets in nine ODIs and 17 in 14 T20Is during the calendar year.
15. Harmanpreet Kaur named captain
Harmanpreet Kaur was on Monday named captain of the ICC Women’s T20I Team-of-the-Year, which also includes Smriti Mandhana and Poonam Yadav.
Opening batswoman Smriti and leg-spinner Poonam were also included in the ODI team, which has New Zealander Suzie Bates as captain.
The ODI and T20 sides were selected by a voting academy, which has former players like Lisa Sthalekar, Charlotte Edwards, Anjum Chopra and members of the media, and took into consideration performances in the 2018 calendar year.
Besides the Indians, Australia’s Alyssa Healy and Suzie Bates of New Zealand are the other players who feature in both the ODI and T20I squads.
16. Spaceship zooms towards distant mysterious world
A NASA spaceship is zooming toward the farthest, and quite possibly the oldest, cosmic body ever photographed by humankind, a tiny, distant world called Ultima Thule 6.4 billion kilometres away.
The mysterious object is in a dark and frigid region of space known as the Kuiper Belt.
A guitar anthem recorded by legendary Queen guitarist Brian May — who also holds an advanced degree in astrophysics — will accompany a video simulation of the flyby on the NASA website.
Real-time video of the actual flyby is impossible, since it takes more six hours for a signal sent from Earth to reach the spaceship, named New Horizons, and another six hours for the response to arrive.
17. Foreigners can now fly directly to Andamans
Foreign tourists can now directly fly to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as the government has designated Port Blair airport as an authorised immigration check post for entry into and exit point from India.
The decision to open up the Andaman and Nicobar Islands directly for foreign tourists came after it was found to be the most sought-after tourist destination in the country receiving an average four lakh tourists, including several thousand foreigners, annually.
Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA)
RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Authority) Act
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF)
Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)
19. Things to Remember:
Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi
Sudhir Bhargava is new CIC chief
20. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning 1 – The process of passing legislation.
Example – ‘the enactment of equal pay legislation’
Synonyms – passing, making law, ratification, ratifying, validation, validating, sanction, sanctioning, approval, approving, endorsement, adoption
Meaning 1.1 – A law that is passed.
Example – ‘enactments covering food safety’
Synonyms – bill, act, law, by-law, order, decree, resolution, ruling, rule, regulation, statute, edict, measure, motion, command, commandment, pronouncement, proclamation, dictate, dictum, diktat, fiat
Meaning 2 – An instance of acting something out.
Example – ‘the story becomes an enactment of his fantasies’
Synonyms – acting, playing, performing, performance, staging, appearance