Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups – News Analysis from THE HINDU (January 04, 2019)
1. China’s probe lands on far side of moon, sends images
A Chinese space probe touched down on the far side of the moon on Thursday, China’s space agency said, hailing the event as a historic first and a major achievement for the country’s space programme.
The Chang’e-4 lunar probe, launched in December, made the “soft landing” at 02.26 GMT and transmitted the first-ever “close range” image of the far side of the moon, the China National Space Administration said.
The moon is tidally locked to Earth, rotating at the same rate as it orbits our planet, so most of the far side — or “dark side” — is never visible to us. Previous spacecraft have seen the far side, but none has landed on it.
The landing “lifted the mysterious veil” of the far side of the moon and “opened a new chapter in human lunar exploration,” the agency said in a statement on its website, which included a wide-angle colour picture of a crater from the moon’s surface.
The probe, which has a lander and a rover, touched down at a targeted area near the moon’s south pole in the Von Karman Crater, after entering its orbit in mid-December.
The tasks of the Chang’e-4 include astronomical observation, surveying the moon’s terrain, land form and mineral make-up, and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment of its far side. “It’s an important milestone for China’s space exploration,” Wu Weiren, chief designer of the lunar exploration programme, said.
2. Leh, Kargil districts to have solar power projects
Leh and Kargil districts of the Ladakh region will soon have solar power projects under the State-run Solar Energy Corporation of India, officials said on Thursday.
3. Improved Light Combat Aircraft gets green light for production
On December 31, Light Combat Aircraft ‘Tejas’ quietly progressed towards manufacture in an enhanced, battle standard format.
A new ‘limited’ clearance from military airworthiness certifier CEMILAC for the Indian fighter green-lights its production in a superior lethal version, multiple sources associated with the LCA programme confirmed.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limted (HAL), which is mandated to produce the LCAs for the Indian Air Force (IAF), aims to get the first aircraft out in late 2019 in the just-cleared standard, its Chairman and Managing Director R. Madhavan said.
The LCA is being designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in Bengaluru. The IAF has asked HAL to make 40 LCA aircraft. Of this, 20 will be in the advanced ‘FOC’ (final operational clearance) format. Another 20 are in the earlier IOC (initial operational clearance) version.
The FOC tag signals that the novice LCA is fully equipped and fit for battle. It adds many features over the IOC version, which Tejas achieved in December 2013. The IOC enabled the IAF to start flying it and in getting acquainted with its competences. Until then, only test pilots and ADA handled Tejas.
4. Object relations theory
This refers to a branch of psychoanalysis which describes the process by which children develop an internal image of various people around them during their initial years of growth. It is believed that the psyche that children develop during their early years through constant exposure to various objects around them determines their behaviour as adults to a significant extent. The first image of an object that a child usually forms in life is that of her mother, so object relations theorists generally emphasise the importance of the relationship between a mother and her child. Object relations theory has been employed in the treatment of various mental illnesses.
5. RS approves President’s proclamation for J&K
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said the government had no objection to holding Assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir along with the Lok Sabha poll later this year if the Election Commission (EC) so desired.
Replying to a discussion related to a statutory resolution on the President’s proclamation under Article 356 with respect to J&K, which was approved by the House after a debate, Mr. Singh said holding polls was the EC’s mandate and that the Centre would provide the necessary security forces for enabling the same.
Countering the Opposition’s charge that the Congress, the National Conference and the PDP were not allowed to form government after the PDP-BJP government fell, Mr. Singh asserted that there had been no such conspiracy. He added that it was not the first time that Governor’s rule had been imposed in the State, stating that on one occasion it had remained in force continuously for six years.
6. Judges’ retirement age won’t go up
The Law Ministry on Thursday said there was no proposal as of now to increase the retirement age of Supreme Court judges from 65 to 67 and of High Court judges from 62 to 65.
The Ministry was responding to the recommendation of a Parliamentary Standing Committee that raising the retirement age of judges would help retain the existing judges, which in turn would help in reducing both vacancy and pendency of cases in short run.
In August 2010, then Union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily introduced the Constitution (114th Amendment) Bill, 2010 in the Lok Sabha.
The Bill, which sought to increase the retirement age of High Court judges to 65, could not be taken up for consideration in Parliament and lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.
The committee, in its report tabled in Parliament on Thursday, raised concern over the large number of vacancies of judges in High Courts.
The Ministry countered that the appointment of judges in the Supreme Court and High Courts is a continuous and collaborative process of the Judiciary and Executive.
7. ECI to conduct mock polls in all Odisha villages
The Election Commission of India will hold mock polls in all villages in Odisha for extensive demonstration of electronic voting machines and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail from January 7. “Though VVPAT was used during Bijepur by-elections, the ECI has decided to use it in all the 147 Assembly constituencies for the first time to maintain transparency in the forthcoming elections,” said Surendra Kumar, Chief Electoral Officer of Odisha.
8. ‘Chandrayaan-2 among 32 missions planned for 2019’
India has planned 32 missions, including the “most complex” Chandrayaan-2 during 2019, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has said. India’s maiden human spaceflight programme ‘Gaganyaan’ would go full steam ahead to accomplish the various development and qualification milestones during the year, the space agency said.
9. Lion Air ends search for black box
Lion Air has ended its search for the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) from its Boeing 737 MAX jet that crashed into the Java Sea in October, killing all 189 people on board. However, Indonesian investigators said that they plan to launch their own probe.
The main wreckage and the CVR, one of two so-called black boxes, were not recovered in an initial search. Lion Air said in December it was funding a 38 billion rupiah ($2.64 million) search using the offshore supply ship MPV Everest. The search using the ship ended on Saturday, Danang Mandala, the spokesman for Lion Air Group, said.
10. Ireland to seek EU aid over Brexit
Ireland will seek hundreds of millions of euros in aid from Brussels if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal, the Agriculture Minister was quoted on Thursday as saying.
“You’re looking at hundreds of millions here,” Michael Creed told The Irish Independent.
The emergency aid would aim to buttress sectors such as beef, dairy and fishing — those most exposed to customs and regulatory changes likely to arise if Britain severs all ties. Nearly 80% of Irish exporters deliver products to Britain, according to 2016 government figures.
11. Pak. scraps visa on arrival for Afghans
Pakistan on Thursday scrapped the long-standing facility of on-arrival visas for Afghan nationals, authorities said, citing security risks amid a spike in terror attacks. Citizens from 24 countries are now issued ‘on-arrival’ visas in Pakistan.
12. ‘₹70,000 cr. recovery likely by March from 12 big IBC cases’
The government expects a recovery of about ₹70,000 crore from the 12 big companies that were identified for bankruptcy proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, by March 31, 2019, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley wrote in a blog on Thursday.
According to the RBI, these 12 companies are estimated to account for a quarter of the gross non-performing assets in the system, and so were identified for immediate bankruptcy proceedings.
“Some of the big 12 cases such as Bhushan Power and Steel Ltd. and Essar Steel India Ltd. are in advanced stages of resolution and are likely to be resolved in this financial year, in which realisation is expected to be around ₹70,000 crore,” Mr. Jaitley wrote to commemorate two years of the IBC.
He added that so far, 1,322 cases had been admitted by the National Company Law Tribunal. He said that the NCLT disposed of 4,452 cases at the pre-admission stage and that 66 cases had been resolved after adjudication, from which creditors had recovered about ₹80,000 crore. Another 260 cases had been ordered for liquidation. “As per NCLT database, in 4,452 cases disposed at pre-admission stage, the amount apparently settled was around ₹2.02 lakh crore,” Mr. Jaitley said.
13. ‘Printing of ₹2,000 notes reduced to minimum’
The printing of ₹2,000 banknotes, introduced post-demonetisation in November 2016, has been reduced to “minimum” by the Reserve Bank, a top finance ministry official said on Thursday.
Soon after the sudden decision to ban old ₹500/1000 currency notes by the government, the Reserve Bank of India had come out with the ₹2,000 currency note along with a new look ₹500 note as part of its massive remonetisation exercise.
The official said that the RBI and the government, from time to time, decided on the quantum of currency to be printed on the basis of money in circulation.
When the ₹2,000 note was launched, it was decided that the printing would be “scaled down” going forward, since the new high currency value note was meant for meeting the remonetisation need.
“The printing of 2,000 rupee notes has been substantially reduced. It has been decided to limit the printing of 2,000 currency notes to minimum. This is nothing new,” the official said.
According to RBI data, there were 3,285 million pieces of ₹2,000 notes in circulation at end-March 2017. A year after (on March 31, 2018), there was only a marginal increase in the number at 3,363 million pieces. Of the total currency in circulation amounting to ₹18,037 billion at end-March 2018, ₹2,000 notes accounted for 37.3%, down from 50.2% at end-March 2017.
14. ‘E-com rules don’t allow FDI in multi-brand retail’
The FDI rules for e-commerce have not allowed FDI in the inventory-based model or multi-brand retailing, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion said on Thursday.
The clarification comes in the backdrop of new provisions related to e-commerce released last month. “Certain averments suggest that Press Note 3/2016 had covertly allowed multi-brand retail trading. Such a view is completely contrary to the specific provisions of [the note], which unambiguously provided that FDI is not permitted in the inventory-based model of e-commerce which amounts to multi-brand retail,” a note released by the DIPP said.
15. NHAI to raise ₹10,000 cr. via Bharatmala bonds
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) plans to raise ₹10,000 crore through Bharatmala Taxable Bonds in the current fiscal, Parliament was informed on Thursday. Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said as per the internal and extra budgetary resources approved for 2018-19 by the government, ₹62,000 crore is to be raised by NHAI through various sources including Bharatmala bonds.
16. Sportstar annual awards to make a new Avatar
Sportstar, which celebrated its 40th birthday in 2018, is reviving its annual awards.
The awards marked a celebration of sporting excellence for about a decade from the mid-1990s and are making a comeback as ‘Sportstar Aces’.
The voting for the 10 Popular choice categories is now open on the Sportstar website and through SMS.
The awards — for the year 2018 — will celebrate the superstars, potential stars and the tireless silent partners who have dedicated their lives to sports to realise the dream of making India a sporting nation.
‘Sportstar Aces’ will identify and reward the most-deserving athletes irrespective of the popularity of the sport.
There are untold stories of struggle, fierce dedication and selfless work behind each athlete’s success. ‘Sportstar Aces’ will narrate these stories, thereby, providing encouragement to our athletes and their support systems while providing the readers with the true picture of what it takes to achieve excellence.
Divided in three categories — Popular Awards, Nominated Awards and Jury Awards — the awards night will see the crowning of 21 athletes from various sporting disciplines.
The nomination process for the Best University for the Promotion of Sports and Best Corporate Organisation for Promotion of Sport is also open on the website.
17. Indians at the top
The second day of the 10th India International Regatta saw the Indians occupy the top spot in most of the classes. The winds were conducive at 8-10 knots and the sailors competed eagerly at the seas outside the port of Chennai.
Opti Main Fleet: 1. Julia Werton (Swe); 2. Emil Wolfgaug (Swe); 3. Jai Kiran Kumar Bolli; 420: 1. Navyn Prabhakar & Neelanand; 2. Chitresh Thatha & Aniketh; 3. M. Binoob & Pilli.
Laser 4.7: 1. Harshita Tomar; 2. Ram Milan Yadav; 3. Hemanth Nagireddy; Laser radial: 1. Ramya Saravanan; 2. M. Koteswara Rao; 3. Satish Yadav.
RS One: 1. Muhammad Ramadhan Syarif (Ina); 2. Rahul Chaudhary; 3. Sathiya Sudhan; 29er: 1. Suruvarapu Gagan & Abhishek; 2. Ashish Vishwakarma & Alankar; 3. Jayalakshmi Sundaravadivel & Ashwin.
Opti Green Fleet: 1. Ravali Parandi; 2. John Yerrollo; 3. Karthik Nenavath.
18. NASA shares detailed images taken by New Horizons of the distant celestial body called Ultima Thule
Ultima Thule, an icy celestial body, is aptly shaped like a giant snowman, NASA scientists have announced.
The first detailed images beamed back from the U.S. agency’s New Horizons mission allowed scientists to confidently determine the body was formed when two spheres, or “lobes,” slowly gravitated towards each other until they stuck together — a major scientific discovery.
The New Horizons spacecraft on Tuesday flew past Ultima Thule, which was discovered via telescope in 2014 and is the farthest and potentially oldest cosmic body ever observed by a spacecraft.
Before that flyby, the only image scientists had was a blurry one showing Ultima Thule’s oblong shape, resembling something like a bowling pin or a peanut. “That image is so 2018… Meet Ultima Thule!” said lead investigator Alan Stern, doing little to hide his joy as he revealed a new sharper image of the cosmic body, taken at a distance as close as 27,000 km with a resolution of 140 metres per pixel.
Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA)
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)
20. Things to Remember:
Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh
21. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning – The practice of spying or of using spies, typically by governments to obtain political and military information.
Example – ‘the camouflage and secrecy of espionage’
Synonyms – spying, undercover work, cloak-and-dagger activities, surveillance, reconnaissance, intelligence, eavesdropping, infiltration, cyberespionage, counter-espionage, counter-intelligence