Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups – News Analysis from THE HINDU (January 03, 2019)
1. Bill to allow voluntary use of Aadhaar ID introduced
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday introduced a Bill in the Lok Sabha that will provide legal backing for voluntary seeding of biometric Aadhaar ID with mobile numbers and bank accounts after the Supreme Court barred mandatory use of the 12-digit unique identifier by private firms.
‘No privacy violation’
He said the proposed amendment Bill was in compliance with the Supreme Court’s judgment and that there would be no infringement of privacy.
2. Share swap ratio for bank merger cleared
The boards of Bank of Baroda (BoB), Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank on Wednesday approved the share swap ratio for the proposed merger. Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank shareholders will get 402 and 110 shares of BoB, respectively, for every 1,000 shares held.
The Union Cabinet approved the amalgamation of the three banks, with Bank of Baroda as the transferee bank, and Vijaya and Dena as transferor banks. This would mean that the merged entity would be known as the Bank of Baroda.
However, bank officials said there would be a new logo of the merged entity to reflect the identity of all the three banks. The merger will come into effect from April 1.
3. New panel to protect Assam’s heritage
The Union Cabinet has approved the setting up of a high-level committee for implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord which provides for constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of Assam. It also recommended reserving Assembly seats for indigenous communities in the State.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had assured Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal in May 2018 that a committee would be set up at the earliest.
4. Eminent writer Manoj Das honoured
Eminent English and Odia writer Manoj Das on Wednesday received the Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja National Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature, instituted by the Berhampur University. During the 53rd foundation day ceremony, the university also honoured noted folk dance guru Nabaghana Parida with Dakshin Odisha Loksanakruti Samman.
5. Train 18 may run this month
The indigenously-built, semi high-speed train, dubbed Train 18, is likely to start operations this month, with the first run being between Delhi and Varanasi, a senior railway official said.
Train 18, touted as the successor to the Shatabdi series, can run at a speed of between 160 and 200 kmph. Manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, at a cost of ₹100 crore, Train 18 touched a high speed of over 180 kmph during trial run. However, once it is launched, it is expected to run at 130 kmph speed.
The official said the train would cover the distance between Delhi and Varanasi in eight hours, compared to over 11 hours at present.
6. Chhattisgarh gets new Chief Secretary
In a sudden move, the newly-elected Congress government in Chhattisgarh replaced the State’s Chief Secretary, Ajay Singh, with Sunil Kujur, a 1986-batch IAS officer, on Wednesday night. Mr. Singh has been made the Bilaspur Revenue Board chairman.
7. Breaking down the new Coastal Regulation Zone Notification
What changes will the notification bring?
The Cabinet has approved a significant relaxation of development controls along the coastline through the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification 2018, as part of a plan to encourage construction of buildings and launch tourism activities in areas that are closer to the high tide line. State governments and others had made representations, calling for a review of coastal management policies. Recommendations for changes were then made by the Shailesh Nayak Committee.
The Centre has taken the view that both affordable housing availability and tourism will grow if restrictions on coastal zones are relaxed. With this objective, a decision has been taken to permit current Floor Space Index (FSI) or Floor Area Ratio (FAR) in urban areas coming under CRZ-II — which governs the size of buildings — as on the date of the new notification. This does away with the restrictions on construction which date back to the Development Control Rules of 1991. The CRZ-II urban category, as per the CRZ notification of 2011, pertains to areas “that have been developed up to or close to the shoreline”, and are legally designated municipal limits already provided with roads, water supply, sewerage connections and so on.
What about rural areas?
For rural areas, the newly approved notification adds a sub-category to CRZ-III. The new provision, CRZ-III A, applies development restrictions to a much smaller area of 50 metres from the high tide line, compared to the 200 metres that was earmarked as the no development zone (NDZ) earlier for densely populated areas. These are defined as places with a population of 2,161 per sq km as per the 2011 Census. Areas with a population density below that will continue to have 200 metres as the NDZ.
However, for tourism expansion, the new scheme will allow temporary facilities such as shacks, toilet blocks and changing rooms, maintaining only a slim margin of 10 metres from the high tide line.
The system of granting clearances has also been changed. States will have the authority to approve proposals for urban (CRZ-II) and rural (CRZ-III) areas. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change will grant clearances for ecologically sensitive areas (CRZ-I), and areas falling between the low tide line and 12 nautical miles seaward. The modifications also include demarcation of a 20-metre no development zone for all islands and guidelines to deal with sensitive areas.
8. Sexual dimorphism
This refers to the various prominent differences in the physical characteristics of males and females of the same species apart from just their primary reproductive characteristics. These differences may include size, colour, shape, cognitive abilities, and various other distinct characteristics. Sexual dimorphism, which is prevalent across various species, has been attributed by scientists to the process of sexual selection. It is believed that males or females with certain characteristics may have been favoured by the opposite sex. This might have caused genes responsible for these characteristics to be passed on to future generations, thus magnifying differences between the sexes.
9. Rajya Sabha calendar charts many milestones
The 2019 Rajya Sabha calendar, launched by its Chairman and Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu, is a treasure trove of the Upper House’s history. For instance, it says that over 34 of its 66 years of existence, including the first 17 years, the Rajya Sabha did not have a Leader of the Opposition.
It was only in December 1969 that the position was first occupied by Shyam Nandan Mishra of the Congress. The office was formally created by an Act in 1977. The longest serving Leader of the Opposition is former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, with a tenure of six years. He has the distinction of being the longest-serving Leader of the House, with a stint of 10 years. The calendar, Mr. Naidu said, is a chronicle of political changes in the Rajya Sabha since 1952. Featured in the calendar are 65 leaders, including 13 Chairmen, 12 Deputy Chairpersons (three women among them), 26 Leaders of the House and 14 Leaders of the Opposition, since the inception of the Rajya Sabha in 1952.
Six Rajya Sabha Chairmen who have gone onto become the President. The last to make this transition was K.R. Narayanan, and Pratibha Patil is the first Deputy Chairperson of the house to occupy the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Lal Bahadur Shashtri, India’s second Prime Minister, was the first Leader of the House to lead the executive.
10. Trade Unions Act to be amended
The Centre proposes to amend the Trade Unions Act, 1926, to facilitate recognition of trade unions at the Central and federal level. The Union Cabinet approved the amendment on Wednesday.
Most trade unions, however, vehemently opposed the proposed amendments, saying the government was trying to interfere in, and cripple, their functioning.
Ten Central trade unions had earlier written to the Labour Ministry objecting to the draft version of the amendment Bill; the only major standout was the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
11. Afghanistan NSA likely to arrive today
Days after Afghanistan strengthened its defence and security wings, its National Security Adviser is expected here on Thursday, sources have confirmed. The NSA, Hamdullah Mohid, took charge in mid-2018 replacing Haneef Atmar and has the crucial responsibility as the war with the Taliban intensified against the backdrop of the international dialogue. Mr. Mohid is expected to hold a series of meetings with top officials of the Government of India.
12. China building ‘advanced’ warships for Pak.: report
China is building the first of four “most advanced” naval warships for Pakistan as part of a major bilateral arms deal to ensure among other things “balance of power” in the strategic Indian Ocean, the state media reported.
Equipped with modern detection and weapon systems, it will be capable of anti-ship, anti-submarine and air-defence operations, China Daily quoted state-owned defence contractor China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) as saying.
The under-construction ship is a version of the Chinese Navy’s most advanced guided missile frigate, it said.
CSSC did not specify the ship’s type but said it is being constructed at its Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard in Shanghai.
China, an “all-weather ally” of Islamabad, is the largest supplier of weapon system to Pakistan. Both countries also jointly manufacturing the JF-Thunder, a single engine multi-role combat aircraft.
The ship’s class is reported to be Type 054AP, which means it is based on the Type 054A of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, the report quoted the Pakistani Navy as saying.
The Pakistani Navy previously said four such ships had been ordered, according to the report.
13. ‘Economy on track to maintain high growth rate’
The Indian economy is projected to be the fastest-growing major economy in the current year and upcoming fiscal 2019-20, the Finance Ministry said on Wednesday, while emphasising that the government has taken several steps to boost investors’ confidence.
The average growth of the economy between 2014-15 and 2017-18 was 7.3%, the fastest among major economies in the world, the Ministry said in its Year End Review 2018.
“Indian economy is projected to be the fastest-growing major economy in 2018-19 and 2019-20 [International Monetary Fund October 2018 database]. This is borne [out] by GDP growth of 7.6% in the first half of 2018-19,” it said.
The economy is on track to maintain a high growth rate in the current global environment, it added.
Highlighting various initiatives taken to improve investor confidence and boost growth, it said there were measures to spur manufacturing, comprehensive reforms in foreign direct investment policy, special package for the textile industry, push to infrastructure development by giving infrastructure status to affordable housing and focus on coastal connectivity.
The direct tax-to-GDP ratio of 5.98% achieved during 2017-18 fiscal is the best in the last 10 years, the Ministry added.
It further said there was a growth of over 80% in the number of tax returns filed in the last four financial years from 3.79 crore in 2013-14 to 6.85 crore in 2017-18.
14. U.K. Sinha to head RBI panel on MSME revival
The RBI has appointed an eight-member expert committee headed by former SEBI chairman U.K. Sinha to comprehensively review and propose long-term solutions for revival of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector.
Other members of the panel are Ram Mohan Mishra, Additional Secretary, Development Commissioner MSME; Pankaj Jain, Joint Secretary, Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance; P. K. Gupta, Managing Director, SBI; Abhiman Das, Professor, IIM-Ahmedabad; Sharad Sharma, co-founder, iSPIRT Foundation; and Bindu Ananth, Chair, Dvara Trust. The committee will submit its report by the end of June 2019.
Among the terms of references, the RBI said the panel would review the current institutional framework in place to support the MSME sector, and examine the factors affecting the timely and adequate availability of finance to the sector.
15. Pink Test to raise funds for breast cancer awareness
The fourth Test between Australia and India is expected to raise a record-breaking $2,100,000 to support 15 nurses specialising in breast care services for a year.
A joint initiative by the McGrath Foundation and Cricket Australia, the campaign wants to promote breast cancer awareness.
The foundation’s co-founder and president, bowling legend Glenn McGrath, presented the Australian men’s Test team with their pink caps for the official team photo at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday.
Over the last decade, the Sydney Pink Test has become a national phenomenon and is the largest sporting fund-raising initiative in Australia.
Mr. McGrath said: “With 50 Australians diagnosed with breast cancer every day, there is critical and continuing need for more McGrath Breast Care Nurses to support families through breast cancer.”
16. Karachi’s public buses to run on biogas
In a bid to freshen its air and cut planet-warming emissions, the Pakistani port city of Karachi will introduce buses that run on biogas.
With funding from the international Green Climate Fund, Karachi will launch a zero-emission Green Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network, with 200 buses fuelled by bio-methane.
Malik Amin Aslam, adviser on climate change to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, said the BRT system was the first transport project the Green Climate Fund had approved, and would bring “multiple environmental and economic benefits”.
The BRT system, to be rolled out over four years, will have a fleet of 200 hybrid buses that will run on bio-methane produced from manure excreted by Karachi’s 4,00,000 milk-producing water buffaloes.
The project will prevent about 3,200 tonnes of cow manure going to waste. The cow dung will be converted into energy and fertilizer at a biogas plant, Mr. Aslam said.
Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, CEO of Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) Pakistan, a policy think-tank, said calculating the overall impact on the environment was complex, as the buses would be introduced in stages.
17. Juno captures volcanic plumes on Jupiter moon
NASA’s solar-powered Juno spacecraft has beamed back new images of volcanic plumes on Jupiter’s moon Io, captured during the mission’s 17th flyby of the gas giant. On December 21, four of Juno’s cameras captured images of the Jovian moon Io, the most volcanic body in the solar system.
Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA)
19. Things to Remember:
Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal
Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha
20. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning 1 – Arouse the curiosity or interest of; fascinate.
Example – ‘I was intrigued by your question’
Synonyms – interesting, fascinating, absorbing, compelling, gripping, riveting, captivating, engaging, enthralling, diverting, titillating, tantalizing, interest, be of interest to, fascinate, be a source of fascination to, arouse someone’s curiosity, engage someone’s attention, attract, draw, lure, tempt, tantalize
Meaning 2 – Make secret plans to do something illicit or detrimental to someone.
Example – ‘Henry and Louis intrigued with the local nobles’
Synonyms – plot, hatch a plot, conspire, take part in a conspiracy, make secret plans, lay plans, scheme, manoeuvre, connive, collude, work hand in glove