Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups – News
Analysis from THE HINDU (January 22, 2019)
1. Centre proposes to hike pensions
Ahead of the 2019 election, the
Rural Development Ministry has proposed that the monthly pensions of the
elderly poor, disabled and widows be increased from the current ₹200 to ₹800.
For those above the age of 80, the proposal is to increase the pension from ₹500
to ₹1,200 a month.
The Ministry has submitted the
proposal, which would have an additional annual cost implication of ₹18,000
crore, to the Finance Ministry to be considered for inclusion in the interim
Budget to be presented on February 1.
2. ‘Plastic waste imports to India go up’
In spite of a ban on the import of
plastic waste into India, the influx of PET bottles has quadrupled from 2017 to
2018 thanks to legal loophole, says a Delhi-based environmentalist
organisation, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Smriti Manch (PDUSM).
“Indian firms are importing
plastic scraps from China, Italy, Japan and Malawi for recycling and the
imports of PET bottle scrap & flakes has increased from 12,000 tonnes in FY
16-17 to 48,000 tonnes in FY 17-18 growing @ 290%. India has already imported
25,000 MT in the first 3 months of FY 18-19,” says a note by the organisation.
Government and industry estimates
suggest that India consumes about 13 million tonnes of plastic and recycles
only about 4 million tonnes.
A lack of an efficient waste
segregation system and inadequate collection is the root cause, according to
experts, for much of the plastic not making its way to recycling centres.
To incentivise domestic plastic
recycling units, the government had banned the import of plastic waste,
particularly PET bottles in 2015. In 2016, an amendment allowed such imports as
long as they were carried out by agencies situated in Special Economic Zones.
It’s this loophole that’s been exploited.
3. Wisdom of repugnance
Also known as the yuck factor,
this refers to the argument that any intuitive feeling of disgust that a human
being might feel towards something is reason enough to consider the thing to be
immoral in nature. Supporters of this idea believe that the emotional reaction
towards something is simply an involuntary articulation of deeper wisdom within
human beings that may not be easily comprehensible through reason. The term was
coined by American scientist Leon R. Kass in 1997 to argue against the cloning
of human beings. Critics of the idea believe that gut reaction against
something can, in fact, lead people to do things that are deeply unethical in
4. Pak. shares draft pact on Kartarpur Corridor
Indian and Pakistani officials are
expected to meet next month to discuss a “draft agreement” on the Kartarpur
corridor in Punjab, sources confirmed. The meeting follows the Pakistan
government’s announcement that it had shared the draft of the agreement, to be
signed by the two governments, for “facilitation of (Indian) Sikh Yatrees to
visit the Gurudwara, Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, Narowal, Pakistan”.
In a statement on Monday, the
Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the draft had been shared “in line
with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s commitment” to open the pilgrim corridor in
time for the 550th Birth Anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in November 2019. The
Pakistan government also appointed its Director-General (South Asia &
SAARC), Dr. Muhammad Faisal “as the focal person on Pakistan’s side and
requested that the Government of India designate a focal person at its end”,
the statement said, and called for an Indian delegation to travel to Islamabad
to finalise the agreement.
5. Bihar will implement 10% EWS quota: Nitish
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar
on Monday said the 10% reservation for the economically weaker sections will be
implemented in the State even as he called for enhanced quota for the Other
Backward Classes. He demanded that the census in 2021 should be caste-based to
enable proportional representation of various castes in reservation.
6. Kamala Harris announces decision to run for President
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris
announced on Monday that she is running for President, joining an already-crowded
field of Democrats who are making or considering bids to take on Donald Trump.
“The future of our country depends
on you and millions of others lifting our voices to fight for our American
values. That’s why I’m running for President of the United States,” the Senator
representing California said in a video posted on Twitter.
Ms. Harris made the announcement
on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
She joins Senator Elizabeth Warren
of Massachusetts, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, New York Senator Kirsten
Gillibrand and former Housing Secretary Julian Castro, among others, in vying
for the 2020 Democratic nomination.
After two terms as District
Attorney of San Francisco (2004-2011), she was twice elected as
Attorney-General of California (2011-2017), becoming the first woman to serve
as chief law enforcement officer of that populous State. Then in January 2017,
she took the oath of office as California’s junior U.S. Senator, making her the
first woman Senator of South Asian descent.
7. May offers to tweak Brexit plan, refuses to rule out ‘no-deal’
British Prime Minister Theresa May
sought to break the parliamentary deadlock over Brexit on Monday by proposing
to seek further concessions from the European Union (EU) on a plan to prevent
customs checks on the Irish border.
After her Brexit divorce deal with
Brussels was rejected by 432-202 lawmakers last Tuesday Ms. May has been
searching for a way to get a deal through.
8. France slaps €50-mn fine on Google under new law
France’s data watchdog on Monday
announced a fine of €50 million ($57 million) on U.S. search giant Google,
using the EU’s strict General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for the first
Google was handed the record fine
from the CNIL regulator for failing to provide transparent and easily
accessible information on its data consent policies, a statement said.
The CNIL said Google made it too
difficult for users to understand and manage preferences on how their personal
information is used, in particular with regard to targeted advertising.
“We’re studying the decision to
determine our next steps,” said Google.
The ruling follows complaints
lodged by two advocacy groups last May, shortly after the landmark GDPR
directive came into effect.
9. Germany bans Iranian airline Mahan Air
Germany said on Monday that it had
banned Iranian airline Mahan Air from its airports, in an escalation of
sanctions adopted by the European Union (EU) against Tehran over attacks on
opponents in the bloc.
The move was necessary to protect
Germany’s “foreign and security policy interests”, Foreign Ministry spokesman
Christofer Burger told reporters.
Mahan Air, Iran’s second-largest
carrier, was blacklisted by the U.S. in 2011, as Washington said the carrier
was providing support to elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards known as the
Quds Force. The U.S. treasury has threatened sanctions against countries and
companies offering the airline’s aircraft landing rights.
10. U.S. asks Russia to destroy new missile system
The U.S. called on Russia on
Monday to destroy a new cruise missile system which it said was a “direct and
continuing violation” of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty,
and accused Moscow of destabilising security.
Robert Wood, U.S. Disarmament
Ambassador, said the system was capable of carrying both conventional and
nuclear warheads and represented a “potent and direct threat to Europe and
Asia” as it had a range of 500 km to 1,500 km.
The U.S. last week rejected a
Russian offer to save the INF treaty, which keeps nuclear missiles out of
Europe, because it could not be properly verified, setting the stage for
Washington to withdraw from the pact next month.
11. ‘Bihar outgrew others in FY18 GDP’
Bihar and Andhra Pradesh led the
pack among States in terms of GDP growth in financial year 2017-18, clocking
11.3% and 11.2% growth, respectively, compared with the national GDP growth of
6.7% for the year, according to a report by Crisil.
According to the report, 12 of the
17 general category States grew faster than the national growth rate.
However, it noted that this growth
was not equitable, with the gap between the per capita incomes in low-income
and high-income States widening over the last five years.
“In fiscal 2018, Bihar, Andhra
Pradesh, and Gujarat were top-rankers in terms of GSDP growth among the 17
non-special States considered in our analysis,” the report said. “Jharkhand,
Kerala, and Punjab were at the bottom.”
The analysis found that between
the financial years 2012-13 and 2016-17, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka
were the fastest growing states, on average.
While all three managed to
maintain their GSDP growth higher than the all-India GDP growth in 2018, only
Gujarat remained in the top three. Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka both saw their
rankings slip to 9 and 4, respectively.
The States at the bottom,
similarly, saw a reversal of fortunes. West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar had
ranked at the bottom in the past five years. In financial year 2017-18,
however, Bihar rose to the top spot and West Bengal rose to the sixth rank,
with a growth of 9.1%, significantly stronger than the national GDP growth
rate. Jharkhand, however, remained at the bottom.
12. BHEL, Libcoin consortium to build lithium-ion gigafactory
State-owned Bharat Heavy
Electricals Limited (BHEL), one of India’s largest power generation equipment
manufacturers, is in talks with Libcoin consortium to build Indian government’s
first lithium-ion gigafactory as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make
in India, for India” programme.
Libcoin is a consortium comprising
Magnis Energy, Duggal Family Trust and Charge CCCV s(C4V) and has plans to
build large lithium-ion battery gigafactories globally.
Commenting on the development,
Libcoin chairman Rajan Duggal said: “Our plan is to be the largest lithium-ion
battery manufacturer in India, and we aim to be the first mover in one of the
world’s largest markets. The interest this project is generating, especially in
the Indian automobile sector, is very exciting.”
Development of the gigafactory
would initially start with the construction of a 1 gigawatt hour lithium-ion
battery plant, which would be scaled up to 30 GWh in due course, said Magnis
Magnis chairman Frank Poullas
said: “To have the Central Government of India endorse this project is very
encouraging for both Magnis and its partners.
13. 19 amphibian species are critically endangered: ZSI list
An updated list of Indian
amphibians was released on the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) website last
week, with 19 species being treated as critically endangered and 33 species as
Nirmal U. Kulkarni, a
herpetologist and conservationist from Mhadei Reseach Centre said, “Since 2009,
the scientists of the ZSI in collaboration with other institutes have been
updating the Indian amphibian checklist periodically. In 2009, the total number
of species listed was 284. In 2010 it was 311, in 2011 it was 314, in 2012 and
2013 it was 342, in 2015 it was 384 and in 2017 it was 405 species.”
The list also notes if the species
are in danger, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature
The current list bears the names
of 432 amphibian species from India, the year of discovery and their IUCN ‘red
list’ conservation status.
Among the amphibians listed, 19
species are treated as critically endangered and 33 species as endangered, Mr.
Kulkarni said, noting that the list describes 19% of amphibians as data
deficient species and 39% as not assessed by the IUCN.
National Commission for Women
UN High Commissioner for Refugees
15. Things to Remember:
British Prime Minister Theresa May
16. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning – Diminish gradually in
size, amount, or strength.
Example – ‘traffic has dwindled to
Synonyms – diminish, decrease,
reduce, get smaller, become smaller, grow smaller, become less, grow less,
lessen, wane, contract, shrink, fall off, taper off, tail off, drop, fall, go
down, sink, slump, plummet, decline, degenerate, deteriorate, fail, ebb, wane,
sink, slip, slide, go downhill, go to rack and ruin, decay, wither, fade, fade