Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups – News Analysis
from THE HINDU (January 05, 2019)
1. A.P. unveils second largest rock art trove
second largest petroglyph site, containing about 80 petroglyhs, has been
discovered at Mekala Benchi, near Aspari, in Kurnool district. These
petroglyphs, or rock carvings, underscore Kurnool’s importance as a major site
of Neolithic settlements in south India.
Kandanathi, with 200 petroglyphs, is also in
Kurnool district. While Mekala Benchi has rock carvings dating back from the
Neolithic to the Megalithic period, Kandanathi’s carvings range from the
prehistoric to the historic period.
The petroglyphs were recently discovered by
Yadava Raghu, an archaeologist and academic consultant with Yogi Vemana
University’s Department of History and Archeology. Two boulders, one known as
‘Boodida Konda’ (ash-coloured hill) and the other an unnamed granite hillock,
mostly have images of bulls or bull-riding, and human figures, an elephant,
tiger-like animals and cupules.
Native bulls of western Kurnool are known for
their ‘long horns’, as depicted in the petroglyphs. “Settled village life and
the finished stone axe are salient Neolithic features of communities settled on
granitoid hills or levelled terraces on hillsides or on valley floors. The
current site, at the granite foothills of Boodida Konda, fits the description
of a Neolithic settlement,” Mr. Raghu said. The researcher collected stone
tools and potsherds from the site dating back to the Neolithic period (2900
2. Lokpal search panel formed, govt. tells Supreme Court
The government informed the Supreme Court on Friday that a
search committee had been constituted in September 2018 for zeroing in on
eligible candidates for the Lokpal, and it will frame its own rules of
The Department of Personnel and Training’s notification,
issued on September 27, lists the names of the eight-member search committee,
led by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai. A Bench, led by Chief
Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, ordered Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal to file
an affidavit detailing the steps taken so far in the search for a Lokpal.
When Mr. Venugopal offered to pass on to the court a “note”
detailing the steps taken, Justice Gogoi insisted that the Centre file a sworn
The court then posted the case to January 17.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, for petitioner NGO Common Cause, submitted
that Section 4 of the Lokpal Act mandates the government to be transparent
about the search and appointment process.
3. Wi-Fi facility at 2,000 rail stations soon
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has instructed officials to
provide Wi-Fi facilities at a minimum of 2,000 stations as soon as possible.
The Minister has also called for setting up a single
helpline number for all non-security railway complaints by the end of January.
Additionally, point of sale (PoS) machines will be
distributed in all trains to each catering staffer by March 31 to address
complaints related to overcharging by the caterer, an official release said.
The government will replace conventional coaches with modern
LHB (Linke Hofmann Busch) design coaches in all long distance trains, the
Railway Minister told the Rajya Sabha on Friday.
4. Ramnath Goenka award for The Hindu scribe
S. Vijay Kumar, Senior Deputy Editor with The Hindu in was
on Friday presented the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award for
Investigative Reporting (Print category).
Instituted by the Ramnath Goenka Memorial Foundation, the
award was presented by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh at a ceremony in New
The award for Investigative Reporting in the broadcast
category was won by Anand Kumar Patel of India Today TV.
The awards for Political Reporting went to Brajesh Rajput of
ABP News Network and Sushant Kumar Singh of the Indian Express.
M. Gunasekaran with News18 Tamil Nadu (broadcast)and Nishant
Dattaram Sarwankar and Sandeep Ashok Acharya both with Loksatta(print), bagged
the awards in the Regional Languages category.
The award in the Environmental Reporting category were
presented to Sushil Chandra Bahuguna of NDTV and Sandhya Ravishankar of the
online magazine The Wire.
5. NGT stays notification on groundwater
Terming a December 12 notification issued by the Union Water
Resources Ministry on the extraction of groundwater, as “unsustainable,” the
National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the Centre to “not give effect” to it
as it had “serious shortcomings.”
A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel
said, “It is clear that rather than laying down stricter norms for extraction
of groundwater for commercial purposes and putting in place a robust
institutional mechanism for surveillance and monitoring, extraction of
groundwater has been liberalised adding to the crisis, unmindful of the ground
situation and likely impact it will have on environment.”
Coming down heavily on the Ministry, the Bench said, “The
so-called regulation is illusory. The so-called conditions are incapable of
meaningful monitoring as shown by past experience also. There is no check on
injection of pollutants in the groundwater in the impugned notification.”
Taking into account the Ministry’s suggestion of levying a
water conservation fee, it said, “The fee virtually gives licence to harness
groundwater to any extent.”
6. NGT imposes ₹100 cr. fine on Meghalaya
Following a report submitted by a committee appointed to take
stock of mining in Meghalaya, the National Green Tribunal on Friday imposed a
cost of ₹100 crore on the State government.
A Bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel
directed the State government to deposit the amount with the Central Pollution
Control Board within two months. The environmental compensation was levied on
the State government based on a report submitted by an independent committee
constituted by the NGT in August last year.
“The report indicates that the April 2014 order has been
blatantly violated. The acid mine discharge has been continuing and
consequently water bodies have been polluted to an extent that it is not
suitable for human consumption.
The compensation has been levied based on the environmental
loss owing to this,” said advocate Raj Panjwani, the amicus to the matter.
7. Women MPs push for quota
Women members in the Rajya Sabha on Friday urged the
government to ensure the passage of the women’s reservation Bill in the Lok
Sabha. The Bill, which proposes a 33% reservation for women in Parliament and
State legislatures, was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010 but has been stuck in
the Lower House for nine years.
The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, commonly known as
the women’s reservation Bill, needs to be approved by the Lok Sabha in order to
Referring to the protests in Kerala regarding the entry of
women into the Sabarimala temple, Kanimozhi, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam member,
said there was discrimination against women in the country.
8. Telcos pay ₹58 lakh fine for call drops
Financial disincentives of about ₹58 lakh were imposed on
telecom companies, including Idea and BSNL, for not complying with the
benchmark to measure the drop call rate. These penalties were imposed during
the six-month period from January 2018 to June 2018, Telecom Minister Manoj
Sinha said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.
“As per the latest report of the Telecom Regulatory
Authority of India for the quarter ending September 2018, all telecom services
providers are complying with drop call rate (DCR) benchmarks despite rapid
increase in traffic volume and more stringent benchmarks, except Idea in…Assam,
Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and North East; and Bharat Sanchar Nigam
Limited (BSNL) in … West Bengal,” the Minister added.
Idea was fined a total of ₹10.5 lakh in the quarter ended
March 2018, while the penalty on BSNL, Tata and Telenor stood at ₹3 lakh, ₹22.5
lakh and ₹6 lakh, respectively.
For the quarter ended June 2018, a fine of ₹12 lakh was
imposed on Idea and ₹4 lakh on BSNL.
In a separate reply, the Minister said that to combat call
drops, about 9.74 lakh additional base transceiver stations (BTS) for
2G/3G/4G-LTE services had been added by service providers since July 2015.
This took the total BTS count in the country to about 20.07
lakh in November 2018. Additionally, about 9.59 lakh 2G/3G cells have been
rectified or optimised during July 2016 to October 2018.
9. ‘Data protection law finalised’
Union Minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad
told the Rajya Sabha on Friday that the government had finalised the data
protection law and it would soon be introduced in Parliament.
Mr. Prasad said the government was in the process of
finalising guidelines for social media intermediaries such as Facebook,
Twitter, YouTube, Google and WhatsApp.
The draft bill, which was released last year, had proposed
that critical personal data of Indian citizens be processed in centres located
within the country. It had also proposed financial penalties for data processor
for violations of the data protection law. Likening Google to the East India
Company, BJP MP Rakesh Sinha said companies in the West have collected data
related to all aspects of the lives of Indians and this was a step in the
direction of “neo-imperialism.”
Responding to this, Mr. Prasad said, “irrespective of how
big the company was, if they tried to manipulate the data of Indians, strict
action would be initiated.”
While responding to a question on hacking of data, Mr.
Prasad said that as per the information provided by the Reserve Bank of India,
a total of 1191, 1372, 2059 and 921 cases of frauds involving ATM/debit cards,
credit cards and Internet banking frauds (amount involving ₹1 lakh and above)
were reported during the years 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 (up to
September 30, 2018) respectively. “In comparison to the number of transactions,
the number of fraud or data manipulation was miniscule,” he said.
10. ‘Obsolete tech in EVMs deliberate’
Former Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat said on Friday
that the electronic voting machines (EVMs) used in India were not
Internet-enabled as in developed countries, making them tamper-proof just like
calculators. The use of this obsolete technology in the machines was
deliberate, he said.
Mr. Rawat said the EC had to face criticism as political
parties had formed an opinion that the EVMs were faulty and were benefitting a
“All political parties had complained about the EVMs. It
created doubts in the minds of the common people. But the Election Commission
has come out clean. The EVMs are tamper-proof,” he said at an event here. He
said the new EVMs get into the factory mode if anyone tampers with them.
11. LS passes Bill to amend Aadhaar Act
The Lok Sabha on Friday passed a Bill to amend the Aadhaar
Act and two related laws which will allow individuals to offer voluntarily
biometric ID as a means of identity verification for obtaining services such as
opening a bank account and getting a mobile phone connection.
The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill also gives a
minor the option to opt out of the 12-digit identity scheme on attaining the
age of 18. It provides for stiff penalties for violation of norms set for the
use of Aadhaar and bans service providers from storing core biometric
information and Aadhaar number of individuals who voluntarily offer it as a
means of authentication.
12. Chinese lunar rover named as ‘Yutu 2’
China has named the lunar rover, successfully deployed on
Thursday to carry out a string of experiments on the unexplored far side of the
moon, as ‘Yutu 2’.
The state-run Xinhua news agency reported that the Yutu 2
touched the lunar surface at 10.22 p.m. local time on Thursday, leaving a trace
on the loose lunar soil. The rover’s touchdown is part of China Chang’e-4 lunar
Analysts say that China’s lunar probe is part of its ‘Made
in China-2025’ project, which focuses on advanced technology, including space
13. China tests its ‘Mother of All Bombs’
China has tested its most powerful non-nuclear weapon,
dubbed the “Mother of All Bombs” by official media in a reference to a U.S.
munition used in Afghanistan.
In a short video published on the website of state arms
manufacturer Norinco, the massive bomb drops on to a plain and produces a
gigantic ball of fire and black smoke.
The bomb — whose strength is only second to that of a
nuclear weapon, according to the official Xinhua agency — was dropped by a
Chinese H-6K bomber.
The bomb is five to six metres long (16 to 20 feet), but
weighs less than the American version, according to military analyst Wei
Dongxu, who was quoted by the semi-official Global Times daily on Friday.
14. U.S., China to hold trade talks next week
A U.S. government delegation, led by Deputy Trade
Representative Jeffrey Gerrish, will visit China on Monday and Tuesday for the
first face-to-face talks since President Donald Trump and his Chinese
counterpart Xi Jinping agreed on a temporary truce in the trade war, China’s
Commerce Ministry said.
15. Archaeologists find temple to god of skinning sacrifices
Archaeologists in Mexico say they have found the first
temple dedicated to a deity called the ‘flayed lord’, an important god in the
Aztec Empire whose worshippers were said to wear the skin of sacrificial
Artefacts related to the god were found in the central state
of Puebla, at a site built by the Popoloca people, Mexico’s National Institute
of Anthropology and History said in a statement. The Popolocas built in the
area over several centuries, beginning around A.D. 900, and were assimilated
into the sprawling Aztec kingdom.
At the temple, which the institute said was probably built
between A.D. 1000 and 1260, the archaeologists found artefacts related to the
god, Xipe Tótec, including two stone skulls and a stone torso that had an extra
hand hanging off its left arm. Scientists said the extra hand suggested the god
was wearing the remains of a sacrificial victim.
Noemi Castillo Tejero, the archaeologist who led the
project, was not available for an interview, but the institute said that the
excavation at the complex, called Ndachjian-Tehuacan, had also uncovered two
altars nearby, in a layout that appeared to match Aztec accounts of rituals
associated with the cult of Xipe Tótec.
Those accounts, from around the time of the Spanish invasion
in the early 1500s, say that worshippers of Xipe Tótec sacrificed people,
usually prisoners of war, by having them fight a series of combatants in a kind
of gladiatorial ritual — or by killing the prisoners with arrows. The
worshippers then flayed the victims, and priests were said to have worn their
LHB (Linke Hofmann Busch)
National Green Tribunal (NGT)
17. Things to Remember:
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal
18. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning – Make amends or reparation
Example – ‘a human sacrifice to atone for the sin’
Synonyms – make amends, make reparation, make restitution,
make recompense, make redress, make up for, compensate, pay, pay the penalty,
pay the price, recompense, answer