Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups – News
Analysis from THE HINDU (January 13, 2019)
1. ‘70% towns along Ganga let out garbage into the river’
Four-and-a-half years after the Centre launched its flagship
Namami Gange programme to clean up the Ganga, a government- commissioned
assessment has found that 66 towns and cities along the river still have
nullahs or drains flowing directly into the Ganga. Almost 85% of these nullahs
do not even have screens set up to stop garbage from entering the river.
Of the 92 towns surveyed, 72 still have old or legacy dump
sites on the ghats. Only 19 towns have a municipal solid waste plant, according
to an assessment done by the Quality Council of India (QCI).
The third party assessment, which was conducted over a
six-week period in November and December 2018, was commissioned by the Ministry
of Urban Development (MoUD). It covered 92 of the 97 towns along the river
located in five States: Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West
Bengal. Of the remaining five towns, three had no ghats along the river, while
two were shut due to extreme weather conditions during the period of the
2. Ashok Chawla resigns as chairman of TERI
Former Finance Secretary Ashok Chawla has resigned as
chairman of The Energy Resources Institute (TERI).
TERI director general Ajay Mathur told The Hindu that Mr.
Chawla had resigned on Friday night.
“Yes, he has resigned. We are now internally consulting with
other council members on the steps ahead,” he said in a phone conversation.
Earlier, Mr. Chawla had stepped down as chairman of the
National Stock Exchange (NSE) on Friday after the Central Bureau of
Investigation (CBI) received the Finance Ministry’s approval to prosecute him
in the Aircel-Maxis bribery scandal.
3. Quota Bill gets President’s assent, becomes law
President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday gave his assent to the
Constitution amendment that provides 10% reservation to the economically
backward section in the general category in government jobs and education.
With the Ministry for Law and Justice issuing a notification
about the Constitution (103 Amendment) Act, 2019 receiving the Presidential
assent, reservation for the economically weaker among general category is now
The Act amends Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution —
ensuring Fundamental Rights to a citizen — by adding a clause that allows the
State to make “special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker
sections of citizens”.
These provisions would relate to “their admission to
educational institutions, including private educational institutions, whether
aided or unaided by the State, other than the minority educational institutions”.
The Act makes it clear that reservation would be “in
addition to the existing reservations and subject to a maximum of 10% of the
total seats in each category”.
Amendment of Article 16 stated, “Nothing in this article
shall prevent the State from making any provision for the reservation of
appointments or posts in favour of any economically weaker sections of citizens
other than the classes mentioned in clause (4), in addition to the existing
reservation and subject to a maximum of 10% of the posts in each category.”
Unlike other Constitutional Bills that require ratification
from half of the State Assemblies, the Law Minister had clarified that this Act
would not require such a process.
4. Modi to open ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ meet on Jan. 18
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the ninth
‘Vibrant Gujarat’ global investors summit on January 18 in the presence of five
heads of States and over 100 diplomats and captains of industry.
After inaugurating the main session, the Prime Minister will
also participate in a round-table session with financial experts and sovereign
funds’ CEOs regarding investment opportunities in the country. Mr. Modi will be
on a two-day visit to the State on January 17 and 18.
According to Gujarat Chief Secretary J.N. Singh, heads of
State of Denmark, the Czech Republic, Uzbekistan, Rwanda and the Republic of
Malta will be attending the summit. Mr. Modi will hold one-on-one meetings with
the leaders on the sidelines of the event before hosting a dinner on January
A day before the main event on January 18, Mr. Modi will
open the ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ global trade show in which several hundred companies
from across the country are participating.
Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Rwandan President
Paul Kagame, Denmark’s Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of
the Czech Republic Andrej Babis and Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat have
confirmed their presence in the summit in which about a dozen countries have
joined as partners.
As part of the summit, the Gujarat Government, in
association with the Ministry of External Affairs is holding “Africa Day”, in
which over 100 diplomats and public figures from African nations will be
5. Top honour
President Ram Nath Kovind presented the Honorary Rank of General
of the Indian Army to Nepal Army chief General Purna Chandra Thapa on Saturday.
6. PM to release coin to commemorate Sikh guru
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Sunday release a
commemorative coin on Guru Gobind Singh to mark the birth anniversary of the
10th Sikh Guru. He attended the 350th birth anniversary celebrations of the
Guru in Patna on January 5, 2017. He had also recalled the Guru in his monthly
radio address ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on December 30, and lauded his heroism, sacrifice
7. Is there a renewed quota debate?
Who is this reservation for?
The constitutional amendment passed by Parliament last week
seeks to expand the concept of reservation, a form of affirmative action, to
favour the “economically weaker sections.” Those who are covered by the
existing reservation for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the
‘socially and educationally backward classes,’ a constitutional category known
in popular parlance as Other Backward Class or OBC, are not eligible for the
proposed new reservation of 10%. The amendment makes it clear that the new
reservation in public sector jobs and education in both public and private
sectors will be above the existing quotas. The Supreme Court had ruled earlier
that the total quantum could not exceed 50%. Politically, the move by the
Narendra Modi government aims to placate upper caste Hindus, though those not
covered by any quota among the followers of other religions too are potential
What is the problem?
The amendment raises questions about its compatibility with
the basic structure of the Constitution, which the court has held cannot be
altered even by Parliament. A petition has already been filed in the Supreme
Court, alleging the amendment violates the basic structure doctrine. The idea
of giving 10% reservation to the upper castes also raises other ethical and
moral questions that may not be justiciable. Reservation is currently covered,
primarily under clauses (4) and (5) of Article 15 and clause (4) of Article 16,
which allows the State to make special provisions “for the advancement of any
socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled
Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.” The court has examined the concept of
‘socially and educationally backward classes’ and has ruled that caste can be a
basis for inclusion in that category. In the Indra Sawhney vs Union of India,
the court examined the decision of the government to implement the Mandal
Commission report that stipulated 27% reservation for OBCs and ruled that
economic criteria could not be the sole basis for reservation and the 50%
ceiling ought not to be crossed. All these questions will be reopened in the
light of the new amendment.
What is the government stand?
The government invoked the Directive Principles of State
policy contained in Article 46 to defend its proposal for reservation for the
economically weaker sections. This could be questionable. Article 46 says “the
State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of
the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes
and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all
forms of exploitation.” The “economically weaker sections of citizens were not
eligible for the benefit of reservation. With a view to fulfilling the mandate
of Article 46, and to ensure that the economically weaker sections of citizens
get a fair chance of receiving higher education and participation in employment
in the services of the state, it has been decided to amend the Constitution of
India,” the amendment Bill stated.
8. Study shows solar wind fills the night side of the Moon
A study using observations from Chandrayaan 1 mission has
found how plasma particles from the solar wind make their way into the Moon’s
night side, filling up the wake region, long thought to be devoid of plasma
particles. This has significance in understanding bodies like the Moon which do
not have global magnetic fields.
In recent times, there has been a huge interest in
understanding the plasma environment of the Moon, which is generated mainly by
its interaction with the solar plasma wind flowing towards it from the Sun.
This plasma wind consists of charged particles such as protons and is partly
absorbed by the side of the Moon facing the sun. The rest of the solar plasma wind
incident on the Moon flows around it, but leaves a wake (a void) on the side
not facing the sun (the night-side of the Moon).
Earlier, it was believed that this wake was devoid of any
particles. But recent Moon missions such as Chandrayaan-1, Kaguya, Chang’e-1
and Artemis have found evidence of refilling of near lunar wake (heights of 100
km to 200 km above the lunar surface on the night side) with solar wind
Unlike the Earth, the Moon has no global magnetic field
originating from a magnetized core. It has weak crustal fields that are too
small to shield it globally from charged solar plasma particles incident on it.
At some regions the crustal fields are quite strong and these are known as
magnetic anomalies. The plasma particles scatter off these anomalous crustal
9. Inexplicable U-turn
The suspension of the National Policy for Treatment of Rare
Diseases (NPTRD) has come as a rude shock to families and patients affected by
a rare disease (defined by the World Health Organisation as one that affects
less than 1 in 1,000. Definitions vary nationally).
On November 30, 2018, the Centre filed an affidavit in the
Delhi High Court stating that the current policy for rare diseases needed to be
reframed due to challenges in implementation and costs. The Union Health
Ministry termed the current policy “untenable” as the implementation of the
policy was moved out of the Public Health Division to the National Health
Mission (NHM). Since the ambit of the NHM is restricted to primary and secondary
health care, rare diseases (which come under tertiary care) cannot be served.
The Ministry is sure to have known beforehand that rare diseases cannot be
treated under the NHM. A flimsy reason such as this reflects a lack of intent
and a political unwillingness to ensure health justice.
The NPTRD was approved in May 2017 on the orders of the
Delhi High Court. The Government of National Capital Territory, Delhi had also
appointed an interdisciplinary committee to look into the challenges of rare
diseases. The recommendations of the three major committees and sub-committees
were used to formulate policy going beyond just treatment and suggesting
measures towards awareness, prevention, research and development of therapies
and orphan drugs and issues of health insurance. The policy set out a road map
for the immediate treatment of affected patients along with concrete
implementation mechanisms. It recommended the setting up of a
technical-cum-administrative committee (at the Central and State levels), and
an immediate corpus of funds (₹100 crore) for treatment. The policy also stated
the role of the Union Health Ministry by suggesting that a rare disease cell
should be set up within the Ministry and headed by a joint secretary. When the
policy clearly outlined the Ministry’s role, it is unclear why implementation
was moved to the NHM. The affidavit filed by the Centre states that no corpus
of funds was created under the NHM.
10. What is a ketogenic diet?
A ketogenic diet, which is bandied as a weight-loss
technique, is derived from coaxing the body to make small molecules called
“ketones”. This is an alternative fuel source for the body and used when blood
sugar (glucose) is in short supply. Ketones are made when carbohydrates (that
easily break into glucose) are removed and limited protein becomes the main
constituent of diet. The liver produces ketones from fat. These ketones then
serve as a fuel source throughout the body, especially for the brain.
Proponents say the body on a ketogenic diet can be trained to survive on fat
and that it not only helps lose weight but also curbs hunger pangs. However, it
is a diet that needs to be properly managed.
Book – Essential Essays: Culture, Politics, and the Art of
Writer – Adrienne Rich
Description – A well-known poet and feminist explains why
art is a part of the struggle for social justice and equality
Book – Listen to Me
Writer – Shashi Deshpande
Description – Shashi Deshpande, who has broken many
stereotypes, on the writing life and why women’s stories flowed out of her
Book – Masala Shakespeare
Writer – Jonathan Gil Harris
Description – How popular cinema deals with our multiple
Book – Studies in Jain Population and Demography
Writer – Edited by Prakash C. Jain
Description – What an ancient community needs to do to survive
Book – Ganga: The Many Pasts of a River
Writer – Sudipta Sen
Description – A historian tells the story of the world’s
third-largest river from prehistoric times to the present. Sen begins his
chronicle with the river’s first settlers, its myths of origin in Hinduism and
its significance in Buddhism. He traces the communities that arose on its
banks, the merchants that navigated its waters and the many empires.
Book – Bridging East & West: Rabindranath Tagore and
Romain Rolland Correspondence (1919-1940)
Writer – Edited by Chinmoy Guha
Description – Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) and Romain
Rolland (1866-1944) were two of the principal humanists of the 20th century who
questioned the ideas of frontier and nationalism from their respective
socio-political contexts. This volume is an attempt to see how they tried to
bridge their milieus between the two World Wars.
Book – Leapfrogging to Pole-Vaulting
Writer – Raghunath Mashelkar, Ravi Pandit
Description – These two writers see many opportunities for a
fundamental shift in the way we live and ‘develop’. Using the metaphor of
pole-vaulting, they suggest ways to surmount problems like farm distress.
Dotted with case studies, they argue that while environment, energy and
employment pose stiff challenges, they also offer opportunities for change.
Book – India in the Age of Ideas: Select Writings 2006-2018
Writer – Sanjeev Sanyal
Description – This is a collection of articles and columns
Sanyal wrote over the course of a dozen years, ranging from economics and urban
design to history, culture and religion. Using analytical tools drawn from
sources like the philosophical framework of Complex Adaptive Systems and Rig
Veda, he challenges common assumptions about India.
12. Another feather in Dhoni’s cap
Mahendra Singh Dhoni became the fifth player to score 10,000
runs for India in One-day International cricket, adding another feather to his
illustrious cap on Saturday.
Starting the innings at 9,999 runs, Dhoni took seven
deliveries to reach the landmark on his way to a patient 51 in the first ODI of
the three-match series against Australia.
While the right-handed Dhoni had crossed the 10,000-run mark
in the format in 2017 during the England tour, 174 of them came while batting
for Asia XI in three matches. On Saturday, he breached the mark for the
Dhoni thus joined an elite list of Indian cricketers who had
previously achieved the feat, which include Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly,
Rahul Dravid and Virat Kohli.
In 330 ODIs for India, the wicketkeeper-batsman has now over
10,050 runs at an average of 49.75, including nine centuries and 67 fifties.
Overall, Dhoni is the 13th player to score 10,000 ODI runs.
13. Mena, Rodrigues clear stage 5
Indian rider C.S. Santosh crashed out in the fifth stage of
the 41st edition of the Dakar Rally even as his Hero MotorSports teammates
Oriol Mena and Joaquim Rodrigues dished out gritty performances to reach the
finishing line on an incident-filled day, here.
The stage 5 of Dakar 2019 turned out to be an extremely
tough and dangerous day for the competitors, claiming its fair share of
casualties on Friday.
Santosh suffered a nasty crash between the waypoint 4 and 5,
scuttling his chances to pursue the stage further. The crash brought a
premature end to Santosh’s attempt to conquer a record fifth Dakar by an
According to last received reports, his condition is stable
and is currently being attended to by the medical team at a hospital in Tacna.
14. de Minaur wins first title
Alex de Minaur won two matches in a day to claim his first
career ATP title at the Sydney International on Saturday. de Minaur, 19,
conquered Italian Andreas Seppi 7-5, 7-6(5) in the final after beating France’s
Gilles Simon in the semifinal.
Quality Council of India (QCI)
Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD)
The Energy Resources Institute (TERI)
National Policy for Treatment of Rare Diseases (NPTRD)
16. Things to Remember:
Nepal Army chief General Purna Chandra Thapa
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath
17. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning 1 – Lose strength or momentum.
Example – ‘the music faltered, stopped, and started up
Synonyms – hesitate, delay, drag one’s feet, stall, think
twice, get cold feet, change one’s mind, waver, oscillate, fluctuate,
vacillate, be undecided, be indecisive, be irresolute, see-saw, yo-yo
Meaning 1.1 – Speak hesitantly.
Example – ‘‘A-Adam?’ he faltered’
Synonyms – stammer, stutter, stumble, speak haltingly,
hesitate, pause, halt, splutter, flounder, blunder, fumble