Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups – News
Analysis from THE HINDU (January 15, 2019)
1. Retail inflation at 18-month low
Inflation in December eased at both the retail and wholesale
levels, with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) recording an 18-month low, while
the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) registered an eight-month low driven primarily
by falling fuel prices, according to two government releases on Monday.
Retail inflation, as measured by CPI, slowed to 2.19% in
December from 2.33% in November. Wholesale inflation slowed to 3.8% compared
with 4.64% recorded in November.
2. Kataria takes oath as pro tem Speaker
Senior BJP MLA Gulab Chand Kataria took oath as the pro tem
Speaker of the Rajasthan Assembly on Monday. He will conduct the first meeting
of the 15th Assembly beginning Tuesday. Once a new Speaker is elected, Mr.
Kataria, who was the Home Minister in the previous government, will be the
Leader of Opposition, while Rajendra Rathore will be his deputy (LoP) in the
3. Helping build urban houses faster, cheaper
The Centre will offer about ₹150 crore as a technology
innovation grant to build 6,000 homes — cheaper, faster and better — using
alternative technologies and materials under the Global Housing Technology
Challenge launched on Monday.
However, the challenge may not do much to actually speed the
pace of construction under the urban section of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana or
Housing for All, which has completed just over 10% of its target as the scheme
reaches its halfway point.
After a global expo and conference in March, the Ministry of
Housing and Urban Affairs will invite bids and identify proven demonstrable
technologies from around the world, which are to be adapted and mainstreamed
for use in the Indian context. By July, six winning bidders will be invited to
design and build lighthouse projects of 1,000 housing units each. Apart from
state and Central assistance of ₹1.5 lakh each, the Centre will offer an
additional technology innovation grant of ₹2.5 lakh for each house, PMAY (Urban)
mission director Amrit Abhijat said.
Another section of the challenge will identify potential
future technologies which may not yet be market ready, and offer incubation
facilities and accelerator support in collaboration with four of the IITs.
4. Mine rescue hit as Navy vehicle gets stuck
The Navy spent the whole of Monday to retrieve their
unmanned vehicle which had got stuck during underwater searches for the 15
miners who have been trapped in an illegal mine here for over a month.
The unmanned vehicle was finally pulled out from the 370
foot-deep coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district, officials said.
During the day, a team from a Chennai-based company that
specialises in submersible robotic inspections launched its underwater search
operations in the nearby abandoned mines using smaller robotic vehicles,
operations spokesperson R. Susngi said.
They have been tasked with preparing a map of these rat-hole
mines and see if there are any traces of the trapped diggers, the spokesperson
said. He said senior scientist from the Hyderabad-based CSIR-NGRI Dewashish
Kumar has also begun an electric topography survey in the area to identify the
rock strata, besides get other important information.
Mr. Susngi said due to the Navy operation to salvage their
vehicle, the team from Kirloskar Brothers Ltd (KBL) could not operate its
high-power pumps and the de-watering process was affected. The KBL team uses
two high-power pumps to de-water the main shaft, while Coal India Ltd (CIL) has
brought eight of its submersible pumps to the site, according to Mr. Susngi.
However, only two of the CIL pumps are being put to use to de-water the nearby
abandoned mines downstream, close to the main shaft, he said.
5. A plan is needed for plastic waste in packaging and manufacturing
India won global acclaim for its “Beat Plastic Pollution”
resolve declared on World Environment Day last year, under which it pledged to
eliminate single-use plastic by 2022. So far, 22 States and Union Territories
have joined the fight, announcing a ban on single-use plastics such as carry
bags, cups, plates, cutlery, straws and thermocol products. Puducherry will
implement a ban from March 1. Where firm action has been taken, positive
results have followed. A Bengaluru waste collective estimates that the volume
of plastic waste that they collect dropped from about two tonnes a day to less
than 100 kg. Voluntary initiatives are having an impact in many States, as
citizens reduce, reuse and sort their waste. Yet, this is only a small start.
Waste plastic from packaging of everything from food, cosmetics and groceries
to goods delivered by online platforms remains unaddressed. It will take a
paradigm shift in the manner in which waste is collected and handled by
municipal authorities to change this. Governments must start charging the
producers for their waste, and collect it diligently, which will lead to
recovery and recycling. But the depressing reality is that State and local
governments are unwilling to upgrade their waste management systems, which is
necessary to even measure the true scale of packaging waste.
The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 are clear that
producers, importers and brand owners must adopt a collect-back system for the
plastic they introduce into the environment. Although the rules were notified
in the same year, amended later and given high visibility by the Ministry of
Environment, Forest and Climate Change, not much has been done to take the
process forward. At the very least, local bodies should consult manufacturers
or importers to assess the problem.
6. Negativity bias
This refers to the tendency among human beings to be
impacted more by negative events than by positive events of the same magnitude.
In other words, there is a disproportionately high sensitivity that the human
brain exhibits towards unpleasant events when compared to equally pleasant
ones. Scientists believe that the negativity bias could be in-built in the
human brain as natural selection may have particularly favoured the passing of
genes that give higher weight to negative events from one generation to the
other. Such genes, for instance, may be better at avoiding dangers that may be
fatal to the survival chances of a species.
7. India protests harassment of staff in Pak.
The Indian High Commission in Islamabad has written a note
of protest to the government of Pakistan, alleging persistent harassment and
relentless surveillance by local security agencies.
A source told The Hindu that the harassment has even
extended to social occasions that Indian diplomats have to attend.
“Attempts were made to hack social media accounts of senior
Indian diplomats, and the High Commissioner and Deputy High Commissioner are
being closely followed and aggressively watched by Pakistani security
agencies,” said a source who requested anonymity.
The new row erupted hours after a Pakistani diplomat was
briefly detained over inappropriate behaviour at a south Delhi market.
The allegation of persistent harassment of Indian diplomats
came weeks after consular officials from the Indian mission were denied access
to visiting Sikh pilgrims in Pakistan.
8. CEO suggests early Assembly polls in J&K
Jammu and Kashmir’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shailendra
Kumar has suggested early Assembly election in the State, assuring full
preparedness, in a presentation made to the Election Commission in New Delhi
two days ago. Official sources said Mr. Kumar made an elaborate presentation,
putting forth the “pros and cons” of early or delayed elections. An official
said Mr. Kumar suggested early election as the urban local bodies and the
panchayat elections have set the ball rolling in the State. Mr. Kumar said the
conditions were “conducive for early election.”
9. SC refuses to intervene now in citizenship issue
The Supreme Court on Monday refused immediate intervention
in a petition seeking to quash a series of subordinate laws notified by the
government which allow the naturalisation of illegal Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist,
Jain, Parsi and Christian migrants fleeing religious persecution from
Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The court said the Citizenship Amendment Bill was under the
consideration of Parliament, and the court should not step in at this stage. It
agreed to keep the petition pending.
The Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said
the petition would become infructuous if the Bill, already passed in the Lok
Sabha, got Rajya Sabha assent.
The current petition filed by Nagarikatwa Aain Songsudhan
Birodhi Mancha and some others contended that the leeway offered by the subordinate
laws would increase the “uncontrolled influx of illegal migrants from
Bangladesh to Assam”. The illegal immigration, it said, has caused huge
demographic changes in the northeastern State.
The petitioners urged the court to declare the amendments
made through the Passport (Entry into India) Amendment Rules, 2015; the
Foreigners (Amendment) Order, 2015; and the order issued by the Home Ministry
on December 26, 2016 under the Citizenship Act, allowing the naturalisation of
illegal immigrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and
Christians, as “illegal and invalid”. These subordinate laws served the same
purpose as the proposed Bill.
10. Jaideep Govind is new NHRC secretary-general
Senior IAS officer Jaideep Govind took over as
secretary-general of the National Human Rights Commission on Monday, an NHRC
statement said. Mr. Govind had previously served as Special Secretary and
Financial Adviser in the Union Ministry of Rural Development. He has held
various important posts in the Government of India such as Additional Secretary
in the Ministry of Home Affairs and looked after critical areas of left-wing
extremism, the NHRC said.
11. My deal or no Brexit, says May
Prime Minister Theresa May has warned that no Brexit at all
is the most likely outcome if MPs reject her withdrawal deal on Tuesday, as she
sought to persuade wavering MPs to back her.
With a clear majority of parliamentarians set to oppose her
deal, the main question is over the scale of the defeat — with the Prime
Minister making every effort to make it a close result, potentially enabling
her to return with a second amended deal in the future were the EU to agree to
The deal is expected to be voted down despite a new letter
from Jean Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, and Donald
Tusk, the president of the European Council, offering assurances over the
temporary nature of the Irish backstop. However, with the letter failing to
amount to anything that would be legally binding, it is unlikely to ease the
concerns of those fearful that the deal risks leaving the U.K. in a perpetual
state of limbo where it could remain bound to EU rules without having an
influence over policy.
Highlighting the level of the crisis, Gareth Johnson, a
government whip, resigned on Monday, insisting that he could not “in all
conscience” support the government’s position.
12. Divers find second black box of crashed Indonesia Lion Air jet
Indonesian authorities on Monday said they will immediately
begin to download contents of a cockpit voice recorder (CVR) from a Lion Air
jet that crashed into the sea near more than two months ago, killing all 189
people on board.
The crash was the world’s first of a Boeing Co 737 MAX jet
and the deadliest of 2018, and the recovery of the aircraft’s second black box
from the Java Sea north of Jakarta on Monday may provide an account of the last
actions of the doomed jet’s pilots. “We have our own laboratory and personnel
to do it,” Haryo Satmiko, deputy chief of the transportation safety committee,
Mr. Satmiko said it had in the past taken up to three months
to download, analyse and transcribe the contents of recorders. Contact with
flight JT610 was lost 13 minutes after it took off on October 29 from the
capital, Jakarta, heading north to the tin-mining town of Pangkal Pinang.
A preliminary report by Indonesia’s transport safety
commission focussed on airline maintenance and training, as well as the
response of a Boeing anti-stall system and a recently replaced sensor, but did
not give a cause for the crash.
13. Pakistan to shelve major CPEC power project
The Pakistan government has decided to shelve a major
coal-based power plant project under the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic
Corridor (CPEC), citing sufficient generation capacity already lined up for the
next few years. It has requested Beijing to formally delete the project from
the CPEC list, a report in Dawn said.
14. Centre to award UDAN-III routes soon
The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation will shortly award new
regional connectivity routes under UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagarik) III, Union
Minister for Commerce, Industry & Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu said in
Mumbai on Monday.
“Very soon, we will be declaring results for a very
successful round in UDAN III. We will announce it formally in the next two
days. The new routes will meet lot of unmet demand and futuristic requirement
of people,” Mr. Prabhu said ahead of a two-day Global Aviation Summit.
“[In this round] We want to do something which is completely
ready and fool-proof. In the past, some airlines that had bid and succeeded in
bagging routes did not take off [from those routes]. We do not want to see a
repeat of that kind. We want to make sure that UDAN is really flying,” the
15. India to unveil Air Cargo Policy
India’s first Air Cargo Policy will be unveiled at the
two-day Global Aviation Summit starting here on Tuesday.
Despite registering a double-digit growth for nearly four
years in a row, India has remained without a specific policy for air cargo.
Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu, announcing this, said
that over 30 countries were participating in the first-of-its-kind aviation
Emphasising that security, safety, convenience and
affordability were the key aspects, the Minister said the aviation vision for
2040 would address all the issues so that India will have sustainable growth in
the sector at all times.
“We are trying to make a policy for air cargo so that the
aviation market can grow, which, in turn, will boost the trade and economy of
the country,” he said.
Mr. Prabhu said that the success of the aviation sector in
the country was completely propelled by the participation of private players,
adding that infrastructure for the movement of air cargo could be created in
the same way.
The Minister said night hours, when air passenger traffic
was negligible, could be used to airlift cargo.
16. An open-air lab to study effects of climate change
In one of the most inhospitable places on Earth, the
southernmost part of Chile’s Patagonia region, scientists are studying whales,
dolphins and algae in order to help predict how climate change will affect the
Seno Ballena fjord produces the kind of conditions that
should be seen in other marine systems in the next few decades, when dramatic
changes are expected in the environment due to increased carbon dioxide
emissions in the atmosphere and the melting of glaciers. “This place is like an
actual experiment in nature because it allows us, without needing to conduct
experiments in the lab, to know what will happen without imagining it,” marine
biologist Maximiliano Vergara said.
The researchers are analysing the chemical, physical and
biological variables of the waters, which show lower levels of pH, salinity and
calcium, especially in the most shallow areas, as a consequence of climate
The chilly fjord waters provide one of the most productive
marine habitats in the world, where sardines and krill can be found in huge
But climate change poses a threat to its ecosystem as the
melting of a glacier on Santa Ines island and increased rainfall have led to
rising levels of freshwater. If that continues, it would have dire consequences
for whales as the plankton they feed on could disappear. “A change in the
microalgae could generate changes in the secondary structure (of the marine
system) or the animals that feed on these,” marine biologist Marco Antonio
Researchers are taking samples from eight stations around Seno
Ballena to measure the effects of the melting glacier on Santa Ines.
For now, they noted a slight drop in the number of humpback
whales but an increase in other species such as sea lions, which previously
were not present in that region, and dolphins. They also found a lower
concentration of calcium carbonate, something which can affect the shells of
marine organisms such as mollusks or krill, a staple of whale.
17. Desalination plants harm environment: UN
Almost 16,000 desalination plants worldwide produce
bigger-than-expected flows of highly salty waste water and toxic chemicals that
are damaging the environment, a U.N.-backed study said on Monday.
Desalination plants pump out 142 million cubic metres of
salty brine every day, 50% more than previous estimates, to produce 95 million
cubic metres of fresh water, the study said.
About 55% of the brine is produced in desalination plants
processing seawater in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar,
according to the study by the U.N. University’s Canadian-based Institute for
Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH).
The hyper-salty water is mostly pumped into the sea and,
over a year, would be enough to cover the U.S. state of Florida with 1 foot of
brine, it said of the fast-growing and energy-intensive technology that
benefits many arid regions.
Brine, water comprising about 5% salt, often includes toxins
such as chlorine and copper used in desalination, it said. By contrast, global
sea water is about 3.5% salt.
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)
19. Things to Remember:
Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant
Union Minister of Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad
20. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning 1 – Decide not to proceed with (a project or plan),
either temporarily or permanently.
Example – ‘plans to reopen the school have been shelved’
Synonyms – put to one side, lay aside, pigeonhole, stay,
stand over, keep in abeyance, suspend, mothball
Meaning 2 – (of ground) slope downwards in a specified
manner or direction.
Example – ‘the ground shelved gently down to the water’
Synonyms – slope, tilt, incline, be at an angle, angle, tip,
cant, be askew, skew, lean, dip, pitch, list, bank, heel