Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups – News Analysis from THE HINDU (January 14, 2019)
1. Nitish offers prayers on 352nd Prakash Parv
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday offered prayers
at Takht Sri Harmandir Patna Sahib on the occasion of 352nd Prakash Parv — birth
anniversary of 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Govind Singh. “We had organised 350th
Prakash Parv of 10th Sikh Guru on a grand scale two years ago,” he said.
2. Train hits killed 49 elephants in 3 years
In 2016, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate
Change (MOEFCC) released ‘Eco-friendly measures to mitigate impacts of linear
infrastructure’, an advisory document for mitigating human-animal conflicts.
Despite this advisory, and many others issued by conservationists and
organisations, deaths of wild animals in road and railway accidents have
The MoEFCC told the Rajya Sabha, in response to a question
by MP T. Subbarami Reddy, that 49 elephants were killed in Railway accidents
between 2016-18 (nine in 2015-16, 21 casualties in 2016-17 and 19 in 2017-18).
In the same 3-year period, three tigers were killed in road accidents while
eight tigers were mowed down by trains.
Three lions died in a train accident in the Amerli district
of Gujarat in December 2018. Prior to this, 10 lions died in railway and road
accidents between 2016-2018.
West Bengal and Assam together accounted for 37 out of the
49 deaths of elephants on train tracks across the country. While the number of
elephant casualties on railway tracks in West Bengal has fallen from five in
2015-16 to three in 2016-17 to two in 2017-18, the number of elephants dying in
railway accidents in Assam have increased in the same period — the State
recorded three elephant deaths by accidents in 2015-16, ten in 2016-17 and 14
According to the Ministry, several notifications have been
issued, including one on December 28, 2016, to Chief Wildlife Wardens, to implement
precautionary measures for minimising elephant deaths caused by train
3. IMD to give advance forecast on storms
Scientists at the India Meteorological Department are
working to create models to forecast thunderstorms six to 12 hours in advance,
officials said. Early warnings will give States more time to respond, they
4. NGT asks State govt. to check illegal mining
A month after 15 miners were trapped in a coal mine, search
operations for which is still underway, a three-member committee of the
National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the Meghalaya Police to investigate
into nearly 1,200 cases of illegal quarrying across the State. The green
tribunal had imposed a blanket ban on coal mining and transportation in
Meghalaya in 2014, citing unscientific methods and absence of safety measures.
5. Hayflick limit
Also known as the Hayflick phenomenon, this refers to the natural
limit that exists on the number of times a normal human cell population divides
before cell division stops. After each cell division, the telomeres at the ends
of the cell decrease in length slightly. This process continues until the cell
becomes so short that it cannot divide further. The phenomenon is named after
American anatomist Leonard Hayflick who first proposed the idea after
conducting a study of human fetal cells in 1961. It was earlier believed that
cells can divide forever and are thus immortal. The Hayflick limit differs
across various organisms with the human cell dividing about 50 to 70 times over
6. Govt. re-promulgates triple talaq ordinance
The government has re-promulgated the ordinance banning the
practice of instant triple talaq (‘talaq-e-biddat’).
Under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage)
Ordinance, 2019, issued on Saturday, divorcing through instant triple talaq
will be illegal, void and would attract a jail term of three years for the
husband. A Bill to convert the earlier ordinance, issued in September, 2018,
was cleared by the Lok Sabha in December and was pending in the Rajya Sabha.
Since the Bill could not get the Parliamentary approval, the fresh ordinance
was issued. The Cabinet last week approved its re-issuance.
Seeking to allay fears that the proposed law could be
misused, the government has included certain safeguards, such as adding a
provision of bail for the accused before trial. These amendments were cleared
by the Cabinet on August 29, 2018.
7. Gujarat to implement 10% quota
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani announced on Sunday that
the State would implement the 10% quota in government jobs and higher education
for the economically backward sections in the general category from January 14.
This makes Gujarat the first State to implement the quota.
“The economically weaker sections from the general category
communities will get 10% reservation in admissions to higher education and
government jobs, starting Uttarayan on January 14,” Mr. Rupani said.
In a press release, the State government said the new quota
would be implemented in admissions and jobs which were advertised before
January 14 but for which the actual process for recruitment or admissions had
not started before January 14.
8. At mini 2+2, India, U.S. review progress on pacts
India and the U.S. reviewed the progress on finalising two
key agreements during the 2+2 intercession meeting last week, apart from taking
stock of the overall defence cooperation. The agreements are the Industrial
Security Annex (ISA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for
Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA), a foundational agreement.
“This was to follow up on the 2+2 dialogue and to keep the
official-level dialogue going. The two sides reviewed the decisions taken at
2+2 and also exchanged notes on developments in the Indo-Pacific and the
region, broadly the countries of interest. Also, the bilateral defence
cooperation was reviewed, especially the greater Maritime Domain Awareness
(MDA) and the first tri-service exercise which will take place later this
year,” an official source said.
The inaugural 2+2 dialogue was held last September and was
chaired by the Defence and External Affairs Ministers and their U.S. counterparts.
The third foundational agreement, Communications Compatibility and Security
Agreement, was signed on the sidelines. As the next step in furthering defence
cooperation, negotiations are on to conclude the ISA and BECA.
The U.S. has already shared a draft of BECA, the last
foundational agreement to be signed. “We have a working draft [BECA] which we
are looking at. It came some time before the Defence Minister’s visit to
Washington,” the official said.
9. India to grow crops for UAE, Saudi Arabia
Union Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu announced here on
Sunday that the UAE and Saudi Arabia had decided to use India as a base to
address their food security concerns.
Mr. Prabhu was speaking to presspersons after meeting
delegates from the two countries, along with representatives from 44 others, at
a summit of the Confederation of Indian Industry here.
“The UAE and Saudi Arabia will use India as a base in
addressing their social security concerns. For the first time, India’s export
policy identifies the potential of agriculture along with horticulture, dairy,
plantation and fisheries,” Mr. Prabhu said. The farm-to-port project will be
similar to a special economic zone but in the style of a corporatised farm,
where crops would be grown keeping a specific UAE market in mind. The concept
has been accepted by both governments.
10. Iran summons Polish envoy over hosting of summit
Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned a senior Polish diplomat to
protest at Poland jointly hosting a global summit with the United States
focussed on West Asia, particularly Iran, state news agency IRNA reported on
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday said the
summit — to be held in Warsaw over February 13-14 — would focus on stability
and security in the region, including the ”important element of making sure
that Iran is not a destabilising influence”.
An Iranian Foreign Ministry official told Poland’s charge
d’affaires in Tehran that Iran saw the decision to host the meeting as a
“hostile act against Iran” and warned that Tehran could reciprocate, IRNA
added. “Poland’s charge d’affaires provided explanations about the conference
and said it was not anti-Iran,” it added.
The Polish Foreign Ministry confirmed that the meeting took
place on Saturday.
On Friday, Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
criticised Poland for hosting the meet and tweeted: ”Polish Govt can’t wash the
shame: while Iran saved Poles in WWII, it now hosts desperate anti-Iran
circus.” Mr. Zarif was referring to Iran hosting more that 1,00,000 Polish
refugees during the Second World War.
11. Tsipras to call confidence vote after resignations
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Sunday said he would
call a confidence vote in his government after his coalition ally quit, leaving
him bereft of a parliamentary majority. Earlier, Defence Minister Panos
Kammenos resigned in protest at a deal ending a long-running dispute with
Macedonia over its name, saying he was taking his other six Ministers in
Cabinet with him.
12. Govt. plans technology centres for MSMEs
The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME)
will develop 20 technology centres, along with extension centres across the
country in another 3-5 years.
According to Sudhir Garg, Joint Secretary of the Union
Ministry of MSME, these centres would come up at an investment of ₹200 crore
each. There are plans to have about 100 extension centres, each at an
investment of ₹20 crore. “We are identifying locations. These will come up in
the next three to five years. The aim is to ensure that maximum [number of]
units are benefited from the facilities,” he said.
As many as 18 tool rooms are operational in the country and
15 more are in different stages of development or have started functioning.
These tool rooms are specific to electronics, general engineering and high-end
They have modern technology machinery and testing equipment
and the services are offered to industries at a competitive price.
With the development of technologies such as virtual reality
and augmented reality, the manufacturing units in the MSME sector need to have
access to these.
The Ministry is creating trained manpower in virtual reality
through the National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC). It has also developed
training modules that use virtual reality and these will be launched across the
country through the NSIC in a couple of months.
13. Noted writer Neelum Saran Gour bags The Hindu Prize for fiction
Noted English writer Neelum Saran Gour, author of Requiem in
Raga Janki and Bengali writer and socio-political activist Manoranjan Byapari,
author of Interrogating my Chandal Life: An Autobiography of a Dalit, bagged
The Hindu Prize 2018 for fiction and non-fiction respectively at The Hindu Lit
for Life 2019 here on Sunday.
N. Ravi, Publisher and former Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu
presented the award to Ms. Gour. In her acceptance speech, Ms. Gour said she
was short of words to describe the feeling and thanked the jury for the award.
The award includes a citation and a cash prize of ₹5 lakh.
Mr. Ravi said literature and writing have been of particular
interest to The Hindu as a newspaper and The Hindu Prize for Fiction was
instituted in 2010 to recognise excellence in Indian writing in English. “Since
then, we have been gratified that the number of books coming for consideration,
the quality of writing and the variety of themes have all grown substantially.”
Director of The Hindu Group of Publications and Festival
Director and Curator of The Hindu Lit for Life Nirmala Lakshman and members of
the jury — Malayalam writer Paul Zacharia, writer and author Githa Hariharan,
writer and critic Radha Chakravarty, poet A.J. Thomas and poet and artist
Arundhathi Subramaniam were present on the occasion.
14. Coming, a film on bear that served in Second World War
During Second World War, Wojciech Narebski and his fellow
Polish servicemen had to lift crate after heavy metal crate of artillery.
Fortunately for them, one of the soldiers had superhuman strength: Corporal
Wojtek, a Syrian brown bear.
“When he saw that we were struggling, he’d want to help…
He’d come over, grab a crate and carry it to the truck,” Mr. Narebski, now 93,
was speaking of his days with Wojtek in the 22nd Artillery Supply Company.
This can be heavy work, even for a bear. When Wojtek got
tired, he would simply stack one crate on top of the other, “which also helped
us, because we didn’t have to lift the crate off the ground,” recounted the
veteran who spent two and a half years with the friendly giant he considered a
15. Nobel-winning scientist loses honorary titles
Nobel laureate James Watson, co-discoverer of the DNA helix
and father of the Human Genome Project, has been stripped of honorary titles at
the laboratory where he worked for four decades, following “reprehensible”
remarks on race and ethnicity.
The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the New York facility
which also has a school named after him, said it was acting in response to his
remarks made in a television documentary aired this month.
The 90-year-old geneticist resigned under fire from his
laboratory in 2007 after telling a British newspaper that people of African
descent tend to have lower intelligence. However, in the new documentary titled
American Masters: Decoding Watson, when asked about his views on race in the
decade since his departure from the lab, Mr. Watson said he stood by his former
remarks, citing the difference in IQ tests results to suggest black
16. New species of antibiotic resistant bacteria found
Researchers have discovered new species of
antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the blood of two patients in China, according
to a study. The study showed that the patients were carrying unidentified species
of Enterobacter huaxiensis and Enterobacter chuandaensis that did not respond
to penicillin or cephalosporin group of antibiotics.
Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC)
Human Spaceflight Programme (HSP)
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)
18. Things to Remember:
Central Vigilance Commissioner K.V. Chowdary
19. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning – Promote or make widely known (an idea or cause)
Example – ‘these objectives have to be promulgated within
Synonyms – make known, make public, publicize, spread,
communicate, propagate, disseminate, circulate, broadcast, promote, announce,