Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups – News
Analysis from THE HINDU (January 08, 2019)
1. Centre plans 10% quota for the poor
The Union Cabinet on Monday approved a Constitution
Amendment Bill to provide 10% reservation to the economically backward sections
in the general category, a senior government official said. The Bill will also
cover those from the Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist and other minority
communities. The quota will be over and above the existing 50% reservation to
the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes
The decision, which comes ahead of the general election in
April-May, was taken at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The specific details of the Bill were not available as there
was no word from the government after the meeting. A press briefing scheduled
for the evening was cancelled. The reservation is for those castes that now do
not avail themselves of quota in any category.
A nine-judge Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court had,
in the Indira Sawhney case, capped reservation at 50%. The court had ruled on
November 16, 1992, that “clause (4) of Article 16 of the Constitution speaks of
adequate representation and not proportionate representation” and “relaxation
can be done in extraordinary situations and while doing so, extreme caution has
to be exercised and a special case made out.”
According to the 2011 Census, the population of the country
was 1.21 billion. The population of the Scheduled Castes was 201.4 million and
that of the Scheduled Tribes stood at 104.3 million.
2. Navy to set up new air base in Port Blair
Later this month, the Navy will commission a new airbase 100
miles north of Port Blair in the strategically located Andaman and Nicobar
“The base, INS Kohassa, will be commissioned by Navy chief
Admiral Sunil Lanba on January 24,” spokesperson Capt. D.K. Sharma said.
This will be India’s fourth air base and the third naval air
facility in the archipelago, which are more closer to Southeast Asia than to
the Indian mainland, overlooking key sea lanes of communication and strategic
The base will initially operate choppers and Dornier
short-range surveillance aircraft, Capt. Sharma said.
It will initially have a runway of about 3,000 m which will
in phases be extended to 9000 m to support all kinds of aircraft including
As part of the upgrade, the base will feature staging
facilities, a fuel dump and maintenance and repair facilities. A complement of
personnel would be positioned there.
3. The Meghalaya government must urgently ensure that all illegal
mines are shut down
The tardy response of the Centre and the State of Meghalaya
to the plight of at least 15 workers trapped in a rat-hole coal mine since
mid-December has exposed the extraordinary indifference in government to labour
welfare and the law. Two workers have been found dead in a second mine in the
East Jaintia Hills district. The primary responsibility for the operation of illegal
mines lies with the State government, and it should be called to account for
ignoring the directions of the National Green Tribunal to close them and levy
punitive royalties on those that extracted the coal. Several appeals are before
the Supreme Court in connection with a ban ordered by the Tribunal on rat-hole
mining and the transport of already mined coal. It should be possible at least
now to put an end to it. The Meghalaya government has been evasive on the issue
of the continued operation of the illegal mines, in spite of the adverse
findings of the Justice B.P. Katoki committee appointed by the NGT. It avoided
taking action even after a similar mine-flooding accident that claimed 15 lives
in 2012 in South Garo Hills, and the subsequent ban. Although the NGT has
ordered the State to deposit ₹100 crore with the Central Pollution Control
Board for environmental restoration in the wake of the recent disaster at Ksan
in East Jaintia Hills, the first-order priority is to close the rat-hole mines.
It is the responsibility of the Centre and the State to rehabilitate the
workers from impoverished communities, reportedly including some child
labourers, who are ready to undertake the risky labour because of the
higher-than-average wages paid. This should not be difficult, considering that
the value of extracted coal stored in Meghalaya was officially estimated at
over ₹3,078 crore four years ago, and mineral resources should be treated as
The scale is high: as interpreted from satellite images and
reported by the Katoki panel, it could be of the order of 24,000 mines, many of
them illegal. If illegal mines continue to operate in flagrant violation of
rules under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, the
responsibility lies with the State government. Chief Minister Conrad Sangma has
said a ban on coal mining is not the solution, given the economic conditions in
the region. Yet, the State government has done little to implement reforms and
diversify employment away from dirty mining under primitive conditions over the
years, in spite of judicial orders. In fact, authorities in Shillong continue
to ignore such directions, as the accident at the Lumthari mine in East Jaintia
Hills shows. As recently as in December, Parliament was informed that 22 States
had constituted a task force to review illegal mining and act on it, but
Meghalaya does not figure in that list.
4. Primordial soup
This refers to a hypothesis regarding the origin of life on
earth. It states that life on the planet originated around 4 billion years ago
through the combination of abiogenic material on the earth’s surface and some
form of external energy. This natural reaction led to the birth of the most
primitive cells that are the building blocks of life. It is believed that, over
time, these primitive cells gradually evolved into a huge variety of complex
living organisms. The hypothesis was first proposed by Soviet biologist
Alexander Oparin in 1924 and later independently by English geneticist John
Haldane in 1929.
5. Centre okays Citizenship Bill
The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the contentious
Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 recommended that the Assam government should
help settle migrants “especially in places which are not densely populated,
thus, causing lesser impact on the demographic changes and providing succour to
the indigenous Assamese people”.
The Bill paves the way to grant citizenship to six religious
minorities — Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists — from
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who came to India before 2014.
There has been a strong resistance to the Bill in the
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 of 1985.
The Union Cabinet cleared the redrafted Citizenship
Amendment Bill on Monday, and it is likely to be tabled in Parliament on
Tuesday. The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) expressed its concern before the
The committee headed by Rajendra Agarwal of the BJP
appreciated the government’s decision, claiming such people were being
subjected to “unfair treatment” in those countries and submitted the 440-page
report in the Lok Sabha on Monday.
6. Leprosy is no longer a ground for divorce
The Lok Sabha on Monday passed a Bill seeking to remove
leprosy as a ground for divorce, stating that this was a “discriminatory”
provision for a disease that is now curable.
“Leprosy is being removed as a ground for divorce as it is
now a curable disease as against the earlier notion of it being incurable,”
said Minister of State for Law P. P. Chaudhary moving the Personal Laws
(Amendment) Bill, 2018, in the Lok Sabha.
The Bill has sought to amend five Acts — the Divorce Act,
1869, the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939, the Special Marriage Act,
1954, the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance
Act, 1956 — on provisions related to marriage, divorce, and separation of Hindu
and Muslim couples.
Each of these Acts prescribe leprosy as a ground for seeking
divorce or separation from the spouse. The Bill cleared on Monday removes this
as a ground for divorce or separation.
The Bill was passed by a voice vote amid din as the Congress
protested over the Rafale deal and and the Samajwadi Party over the issue of
7. SC shocked as Section 66A of IT Act is still invoked
Over three years after it struck down Section 66A of the
Information Technology Act as unconstitutional, the Supreme Court on Monday
said it was shocked to hear that authorities still continued to book people
under the now-extinct draconian provision.
A Bench led by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman, who wrote the
judgment in March 2015 upholding online free speech against Section 66A, said
“strict action” would follow if the claims in the petition filed by the
People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) were found true.
The court ordered the Centre to respond to the petition in
The PUCL said Section 66A, which restricted free expression
online, continued to survive and occasionally found a place in the FIRs
registered by the police in complete contravention of the Supreme Court
judgment in the Shreya Singhal case.
The judgment had found that Section 66A was contrary to both
Articles 19 (free speech) and 21 (right to life) of the Constitution. The
entire provision was struck down by the court.
The petition said the judgment rendered Section 66A extinct
from the very date of its insertion into the IT Act, i.e. October 27, 2009.
The petition said many officials may not even know about the
Supreme Court verdict.
8. Sheikh Hasina takes oath for third consecutive term
Sheikh Hasina was sworn in as Bangladesh’s Prime Minister
for a record fourth term on Monday after her Awami League registered a
landslide victory in the recent election that was marred by deadly violence and
allegations of vote rigging.
President Md. Abdul Hamid administered the oath of office to
the 71-year-old Ms. Hasina at the Bangabhaban for a record third consecutive
term. Ms. Hasina was first elected Prime Minister in 1996 and then again in
2008 and 2014.
The President then administered the oaths for the new
Ministers, Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers who will form the Cabinet.
Ms. Hasina will lead a Cabinet of 24 Ministers, 19 Ministers of State and three
State Ministers. Her Cabinet is mostly made up of new faces. Thirty-one members
of the new Cabinet are first-timers.
Ms. Hasina, who had included representatives from the Awami
League’s allied parties in the previous cabinets, has not picked any of them in
her new Cabinet.
9. May to hold Brexit vote on Jan. 15
Prime Minister Theresa May will hold a delayed parliamentary
vote on her Brexit deal on January 15, the BBC reported on Monday, citing
Ms. May was forced to pull the vote on her deal in December
after she said it would be defeated by a large majority.
The government had previously said the vote would be held in
the week of January 14.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said on Monday that Britain
will set out additional proposals for Northern Ireland and giving parliament a
bigger role as the government seeks more assurances from the European Union on
her Brexit deal.
10. Process starts to elect new Malaysia king
Malaysia’s royals prepared on Monday to pick a new king to
replace Sultan Muhammad V, who abdicated in a historic first after reportedly
marrying a Russian former beauty queen, holding a special gathering at the
As the country reacted with shock to the news, Malaysia’s
Islamic royal families set about the task of electing a new king. A special
meeting of the rulers was held at the palace in Kuala Lumpur to set a date for
a new king to be elected, official news agency Bernama reported.
11. World Bank President announces resignation
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim announced on Monday that
he would step down next month, more than three years before his current term
was due to expire.
The decision ends Mr. Kim’s six-year tenure and may give
U.S. President Donald Trump decisive influence over the future leadership of
the global development lender.
Mr. Kim, who became President in 2012, is to join an as-yet
unnamed firm focussing on investments in developing countries, the bank said in
a statement, and will return to the board of Partners-in-Health, which he
World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva will serve as interim
12. First India-flagged cruise from April
Aimed at contributing to India’s cruise tourism, Zen
Cruises, a company promoted by Essel Group chairman Subhash Chandra’s family
office, has announced plans to start cruise services on India’s coastline
starting April 17.
Karnika, the first ship under the Jalesh brand, with a capacity
to take 1,900-2,000 people on board, will sail from Mumbai to Goa, to begin
The company, which will operate its services under the
Jalesh Cruises brand, has decided to make Mumbai its home port and the ships
will be registered in India, thus making it the first India flagged cruise
13. On top down under — after seven decades of agony
Their spirit shone bright on a murky day; much like
headlights on an unlit highway.
This Indian team had been tactically slick, fought with
commitment and passion, and accomplished what no Indian team had managed to
achieve in 71 years.
India had finally, after all these years of wait, agony and
near misses, triumphed in a Test series in Australia. Indian cricket had broken
through a monumental barrier.
A persistent drizzle and bad light meant the fifth day’s play
was called off at 2.30 p.m. local time at the SCG on Monday; Australia,
following on 322 behind and six without loss in its second innings, was not
forced to save the fourth Test.
India had retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a 2-1
verdict in the four-Test series. Down under, the Indians had kept their date
14. Ferrari to replace Arrivabene with Binotto
Ferrari is set for a management reshuffle with team
principal Maurizio Arrivabene to be replaced by technical director Mattia
Binotto, according to reports on Monday. Gazzetta Dello Sport said Arrivabene’s
contract will not be renewed following another disappointing season. Ferrari
president John Elkann has decided that Binotto, 49, is the right man to lead
the Italian stable in 2019.
15. Gas hydrates produced under ‘space’ conditions
Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras
have experimentally shown that methane and carbon dioxide (CO2) can exist as
gas hydrates at temperatures and pressures seen in interstellar atmosphere. Gas
hydrates are formed when a gas such as methane gets trapped in well-defined
cages of water molecules forming crystalline solids. In terrestrial conditions,
gas hydrates are formed naturally under the sea bed and glaciers under high
pressure, low temperature conditions. Methane hydrate is a potential source of
The methane and CO2 hydrates were produced in the lab at
very low pressures (ten thousand billionth of atmospheric pressure) and
temperature (as low as -263 degree C) to simulate the conditions of deep space.
The carbon dioxide hydrate produced in the lab raises the
possibility of sequestering or storing carbon dioxide as hydrates by taking
advantage of ice existing in environmental conditions favourable for hydrate
formation. In these environments, the carbon dioxide will have enough energy to
interact with ice. So both molecules will have enough mobility to allow
interaction to form carbon dioxide hydrate.
Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)
Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)
Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs)
17. Things to Remember:
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharam
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora
Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg
World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva
18. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning 1 – Assistance and support in times of hardship and
Example – ‘the wounded had little chance of succour’
Synonyms – aid, help, a helping hand, assistance
Meaning 1.1 – (succours) Reinforcements of troops.
Synonyms – additional troops, fresh troops, additional
police, supplementaries, auxiliaries, reserves