Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups – News Analysis from THE HINDU (January 07, 2019)
1. Aadhaar and driving licence may be linked
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said the government will soon make it mandatory for linking Aadhaar with driving licences.
Delivering his presidential address at the ongoing 106th Indian Science Congress at Lovely Professional University here, the Minister for Law, Electronics and Information Technology said: “We are soon going to bring a law which will make it mandatory to link Aadhaar with driving licence.”
Eulogising about the Centre’s ‘Digital India’ programme, the Minister claimed that it had bridged the urban-rural divide.
Through a power presentation, Mr. Prasad said: “This is digital profile of India — 123 crore Aadhaar cards, 121 crore mobile phones, 44.6 crore smart phones, 56 crore Internet users, there has been 51% growth in e-commerce.
2. Tribals of West Bengal battling food scarcity: study
Two months after the West Bengal government denied any food scarcity as a possible cause of death of seven persons from a tribal community, a survey report has identified “food scarcity in varying degrees” in about 31% of tribal households in West Bengal.
The study titled ‘An Inquiry into the world of the Adivasis of West Bengal’, conducted by Professor Amartya Sen’s Pratichi Institute and Asiatic Society, will be released in Kolkata on Monday.
The survey was conducted in 1,000 tribal households to ascertain living conditions, health and education.
West Bengal is home to a over five million tribals, with 6% of the India’s tribal population of 100 million. But in many areas, tribals of the State are “far behind” in terms of human development. One area, which has been a matter of contention in recent months after the death of seven tribals in a span of 15 days in November, is scarcity of food. The preliminary survey report claimed that “nearly one third [31%] of the surveyed households” reportedly faced “food scarcity in varying degrees” in the past year.
The report indicated that the number of deaths reported to have occurred in the surveyed households, in the year preceding the survey, “was 52, among which 48 [92%] were premature deaths” and only four were due to old age.
The work participation rate [WPR] is higher among the Adivasis in Bengal “forcing the children of schoolgoing age to discontinue their studies in order to fend [for] themselves and support the families,” the report noted. According to the Census of 2011, while WPR is 39% and 49% in Bengal and India, respectively, “the corresponding figures for Adivasis were 49% and 47%,” indicating the participation of more children.
3. Railways propose new security plan at stations
The Railways is planning to seal stations just like airports, and passengers would be advised to arrive 15-20 minutes before scheduled departure of trains to complete security checks.
The security plan — with high-end technology — has already been put in motion at Allahabad, for the Kumbh Mela which begins this month, and at the Hubballi railway station in Karnataka with a blueprint for 202 more stations ready for implementation, Railway Protection Force Director-General Arun Kumar told PTI.
4. Orange alert sounded for Pabuk
The Centre has sounded an “Orange” alert for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, officials said on Sunday.
Cyclonic storm Pabuk is approaching the archipelago and currently hovering over the Andaman sea and the neighbourhood, they added.
An “orange” alert means an increased likelihood of bad or extreme weather, which may disrupt road and air travel and threaten life and property.
5. Life-cycle hypothesis
This suggests that individuals even out their consumption in the best possible manner over their life cycles. The hypothesis is that people who are young usually have several years of productive employment ahead of them, so they tend to borrow money to fund their education and consumption needs, while people who are older tend to be more conservative about their borrowing and spending habits as they have fewer years of productive employment ahead of them. The life-cycle hypothesis was proposed by Italian economist Franco Modigliani and his student Richard Brumberg in 1957.
6. MPs’ panel proposes legal status for SSC
A Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) has recommended that the Centre accord statutory status to the Staff Selection Commission (SSC), one of the largest recruitment agencies in the country.
The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and all State Public Service Commissions either have constitutional or legal status. The SSC is the only such organisation that performs similar functions on a much larger scale, but does not enjoy statutory status.
The SSC was created to ease the burden of the UPSC by taking over the recruitment for posts below the Group ‘A’ level. There has been a phenomenal increase in the workload of the SSC, from 9.94 lakh candidates in 2008-09 to over 2 crore in 2016-17.
While the workload and responsibilities of the SSC have increased exponentially over the years, it has remained an “attached body” under the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), and has to depend entirely on the government for all its needs, with no autonomy.
The Committee, headed by BJP lawmaker Bhupender Yadav, said that according statutory status to the SSC would contribute to greater functional autonomy, faster decision-making and efficiency in the overall performance and delivery of results by the SSC in the recruitment process.
An expert group constituted by the government in 2014, for reviewing the examination system in the SSC, had recommended according statutory status to the Commission.
At present, the SSC has a sanctioned staff strength of 481 officers but is functioning with 75% of its sanctioned strength.
7. Panel to go into quota for Assamese
The Centre has set up a high-level committee headed by former IAS officer M.P. Bezbaruah to assess the appropriate level of reservation of seats in the Assam Assembly and local bodies for the Assamese people, besides providing employment opportunities.
Last week, the Union Cabinet took a decision in this effect under the Assam Accord of 1985.
The committee and its terms of reference were notified a day before the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, is expected to table its report in Parliament, paving the way for India to grant citizenship to six persecuted minorities — Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists — from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who came to the country prior to the year 2014.
There has been a strong resistance to the Bill in BJP-ruled Assam as it would pave the way for giving citizenship, mostly to illegal Hindu migrants from Bangladesh in Assam, who came after March 1971, in violation of the Assam Accord.
In a notification, the Home Ministry said the committee would examine the effectiveness of actions taken since 1985 to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.
8. Defence manufacturing rules eased
The government issued a notification last week simplifying the the process for approval of manufacturing of a range of defence and aerospace equipment and components by private industry, by bringing them under the licensing authority of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).
The notification was issued as a press note dated January 1 by the DIPP, which is under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Items are listed in three categories — defence aircraft, warships of all kinds, and allied items of defence equipment.
The most significant aspect is that warships of all kinds, surface and sub-surface, have been included in the listing. “With the list of defence items requiring industrial licences being pruned down by removing the requirement of licensing for ‘parts and components of the equipment’, this would accrue benefits towards Tier-I/Tier-II vendors giving a boost to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs),” industry body Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) said in a statement.
This notification, which supersedes DIPP’s earlier press note of June 2014 on this issue, segregates defence items in two categories covered by two different Acts — the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951, and the Arms Act, 1959.
9. JPC to submit report on Citizenship Bill today
A Joint Parliamentary Committee will submit its report on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill on Monday, in all probability recommending its introduction.
The Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant Indian nationality to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12, even if they do not possess any proper document.
The Congress, Trinamool Congress, CPI(M) and a few other parties are steadfastly opposing the Bill, claiming citizenship cannot be given on basis of religion. After the report is submitted in Lok Sabha, it is to be seen if the Bill could get through during the winter session of Parliament, which ends on Tuesday, sources said.
10. Declare new Indian notes legal: Nepal writes to RBI
Nepal has asked the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to declare newly circulated Indian currency notes of denominations higher than ₹100 legal tender in the country. The Nepal Rastra Bank, the country’s central monetary authority, wrote a letter on Friday to the RBI, asking it to make ₹200, ₹500 and ₹2,000 legal tender in Nepal, The Himalayan Times reported on Sunday.
11. In a first, Malaysia’s King abdicates
Malaysia’s King has abdicated, royal officials said on Sunday, in a historic first for the country that ended weeks of speculation about his future after he took medical leave. Sultan Muhammad V’s decision marks the first time a King has abdicated in the country since it gained independence from Britain in 1957.
It came after the King took leave at the start of November for two months, during which time unconfirmed reports circulated that he had married a Russian former beauty queen.
A statement from the national palace confirmed the resignation of Sultan Muhammad, 49, known for his fondness for four-wheel driving and other extreme sports. “His majesty tells the people of Malaysia to continue to be united to maintain unity, tolerance, and work together,” said the statement, signed by the Comptroller of the Royal Household, Wan Ahmad Dahlan Abdul Aziz. It gave no reason for the King’s move. But there had been a question mark over the reign of the King, who ascended to the throne in December 2016, since he took a leave of absence for medical treatment in November. Reports then circulated online that he had married a former Miss Moscow in Russia.
12. Hydro projects of 5,950 MW stalled
As many as 16 hydro power projects of 5,950 MW capacity are stalled due to financial constraints and other reasons, which may prompt the government to bring in a hydro policy at the earliest.
“A total of 37 hydro power projects of 12GW generation capacities are under construction in the country. Out of these, 16 projects with a total generation capacity of 5,950 MW are either stalled or held up due to financial constraints and other reasons,” a senior official said.
The official said out of the 16 projects, 10 are stalled due to financial stress.
According to the Central Electricity Authority estimates, the annual loss of energy generation from these stalled hydro projects is about 18,761 million units.
The official said the government is working on a hydro policy that would provide for longer loan repayment period, lower interest rate and other incentives which would help bring down the tariff of these projects.
The Power Ministry has informed about formulating a hydro policy to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy. The policy will also shore up the hydro power sector, which is facing stiff competition from other clean sources and also from thermal power.
13. Govt. banks rationalising foreign units
Public sector banks are in the process of closing or rationalising about 69 overseas operations in the next few months as part of their capital conservation exercise.
Planned rationalisation of operations and examination of a total of 216 overseas operations of the public sector banks (PSBs) was undertaken last year, sources said.
Following the review, 35 overseas operations were closed while 69 are under process or being considered for rationalisation.
Unviable foreign operations are being shut while multiple branches in same cities or nearby places are being rationalised with a view to achieve efficiency, sources said.
14. Goerges retains Auckland crown
Julia Goerges drew on her experience to retain the WTA Auckland Classic title on Sunday, coming from a set down to end the stunning run of Canadian teen sensation Bianca Andreescu. The 30-year-old German won 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 with the final point coming when an Andreescu forehand went into the net. Goerges broke serve thrice in the decider to claim her 15th WTA title.
15. Agut wins Qatar Open title
Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut earned his first 2019 title and the ninth of his career, defeating Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in the Qatar Open final. Agut needed nearly two hours on Saturday to clinch his third win over the former top-10 player.
16. Dark matter can be moved around: study
In a first, scientists have found evidence that the mysterious dark matter — believed to make up most of the mass of the universe — can be heated up and moved around, as a result of star formation in galaxies. The findings, published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, provide the first observational evidence for the effect known as ‘dark matter heating’, offering clues as to what makes up dark matter.
Scientists found that galaxies that stopped forming stars long ago had higher dark matter densities at their centres than those that are still forming stars today. This supports the theory that the older galaxies had less dark matter heating.
Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)
Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC)
Staff Selection Commission (SSC)
Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM)
18. Things to Remember:
Railway Minister – Piyush Goyal
Home Minister – Rajnath Singh
19. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning 1 – (of a monarch) renounce one’s throne.
Example – ‘Ferdinand abdicated the throne in favour of the emperor’s brother’
Synonyms – resign, retire, quit, stand down, step down, bow out, renounce the throne, resign from, relinquish, renounce, give up, hand over, turn over, deliver up, surrender, vacate, forswear, abjure, cede
Meaning 2 – Fail to fulfil or undertake (a responsibility or duty)
Example – ‘the government was accused of abdicating its responsibility’
Synonyms – disown, turn down, spurn, reject, renounce, give up, avoid, refuse, abnegate, relinquish, abjure, repudiate, waive, yield, forgo, abandon, surrender, deliver up, disgorge, cast aside, drop, turn one’s back on, wash one’s hands of