Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (October 16, 2018)
1. Saudi Arabia promises to meet India’s oil needs
Saudi Arabia stands committed to meeting all of India’s energy needs, especially in oil, its Energy Minister Khalid A. Al-Falih said on Monday.
Speaking at the India Energy Forum, he said this meant an increase in investment in India as well.
Mr. Al-Falih said Saudi Aramco’s investment of $44 billion in the Ratnagiri refinery was “just the start” and that the company was keen to invest in an integrated downstream business, including on the retail side, as well as in storage capacity.
2. ‘Museum of PMs a distinct project’
The Union Culture Ministry will construct a museum on Prime Ministers on the Teen Murti Estate here within a year, Minister Mahesh Sharma said on the occasion of the project’s ground breaking ceremony on Monday.
The museum dedicated to all Prime Ministers, including incumbent Narendra Modi, will come up within the 25.5-acre estate, but separate from the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) buildings.
Mr. Sharma said no part of the NMML on two acres of land on the premises would be touched during the construction of the new museum. “The land belongs to the government and while some of it has been given to the NMML, 23 acres is still left and we have decided to use it,” he said.
This is being seen as the Centre deciding to build the museum on its own after the NMML Society deferred a vote on a proposal to amend its memorandum of association to build the museum under its own aegis.
The proposal for amendment made at its annual general meeting in July has been deferred in view of opposition from members like Congress leaders Mallikarjuna Kharge and Karan Singh, who felt the proposed amendment would dilute the legacy of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, after whom the NMML is named.
3. Bid to build consensus on Sabarimala issue
An air of uncertainty hovers over the pilgrimage as the Sabarimala temple opens for monthly poojas on Thursday, the first time since the Supreme Court lifted curbs on entry of women into the hill shrine.
While the State government reiterates its constitutional obligation to implement the verdict, the Travancore Devaswom Board opened a channel for parleys with the erstwhile royal family of Pandalam, members of the ‘Tantri’ (chief priest) family and organisations such as the Ayyappa Seva Sanghom and the Ayyappa Seva Samajam on Tuesday in a bid to evolve a consensus.
If the board and the agitators stick to their stated positions — to implement the verdict, on one side, and to retain the tradition by preventing the entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years to the temple respectively — the talks may not yield a positive outcome.
Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) president A. Padmakumar said the primary task of the board is to conserve the tradition and rituals of the temple.
4. ‘12 courts set up to try MPs and MLAs’
The Supreme Court has upped the ante on the States, Union Territories and High Courts which have not provided it with details of criminal cases pending against sitting lawmakers, warning that their Chief Secretaries and Registrars General will be made personally liable for non-compliance.
The Centre informed the court that so far a dozen such courts had been created in 11 States.
A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, on October 10, gave 11 States/Union Territories (UTs) and the High Courts of Karnataka, Kerala and Tripura a deadline of four weeks to comply with its September 12 order.
The order has called on States/UTs to furnish data to determine the number of special courts to be set up across the country to exclusively try accused legislators.
The States/UTs which have not complied with the September 12 order are Goa, Himachal Pradesh Meghalaya, Mizoram, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu and Lakshadweep.
5. Pollution forecast system unveiled
The Central government on Monday announced a pollution forecast system that can alert, three days in advance, about the likelihood of extreme pollution events and dust storms.
Though unveiled by Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan, the system is yet to go live but is expected to be made available “in the next two days” to the public via the CPCB and the Environment Pollution Control Authority, said Secretary of the Ministry of Earth Sciences Madhavan Rajeevan. The National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting, the IMD and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, are involved with developing the application.
6. IIT-Bombay tops in QS ranking of Indian institutions
Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, has topped the first-ever standalone ranking of Indian higher education institutions by QS, a think tank that is famous for bringing out world rankings of institutions.
Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, which tops Indian institutions in almost all rankings, stands second.
The top 10 Indian institutions include seven IITs, with the IITs at Madras, Delhi, Kharagpur and Kanpur standing third, fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively, in the rankings.
While the University of Hyderabad stands seventh, the University of Delhi stands eighth in the rankings.
Most institutions ranked at the top by India’s official rankings NIRF do very well in the QS rankings as well, with Jawaharlal Nehru University, ranked sixth in NIRF, being the most notable absentee.
7. Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences
The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences awarded jointly to William D. Nordhaus and Paul M. Romer for their respective contributions in integrating climate change and technological innovation into macroeconomic analysis is interesting. Both laureates designed methods for addressing questions related to creating conditions for “long-term sustained and sustainable economic growth”. While Mr. Nordhaus is credited for creating a quantitative assessment model that analyses the relationship between economy and climate, in Mr. Romer’s case, it is for his pioneering work on “endogenous growth theory” that highlights how knowledge and ideas drive economic growth.
Mr. Romer, who was till recently the chief economist of the World Bank, has gone beyond the realm of theory and become a man of action in attempting to implement some of his economic ideas on the ground. Building on his theoretic work on economic growth, he has been championing the creation of “Charter Cities” — new cities with distinct rules that foster innovation and economic growth. These are characterised as “start-up cities” that experiment with reforms by breaking out of the existing state system. Since the nation-state is too big a unit to try out new rules, Mr. Romer proposes built-from-scratch cities as the ideal site at which new rules and institutions are introduced to attract investors and residents.
8. The Right to Information (RTI) Act
The Right to Information (RTI) Act, operationalised in October 2005, was seen as a powerful tool for citizen empowerment. It showed an early promise by exposing wrongdoings at high places, such as in the organisation of the Commonwealth Games, and the allocation of 2G spectrum and coal blocks. However, it now faces multiple challenges.
The Act, path-breaking in many respects, did not give adequate authority to the Information Commissions to enforce their decisions. Besides awarding compensation to an applicant for any loss suffered, the commissions can direct public authorities to take the steps necessary to comply with the Act, but are helpless if such directions are ignored.
True, if an officer fails to fulfil his duty, the commission can either impose a maximum penalty of ₹25,000 or recommend disciplinary action against him. However, this deterrent works only when the piece of information lies at the lower levels; it is ineffective in many cases where information relates to higher levels of government. Implementation of decisions taken by the commissions, therefore, remains a weak link.
This refers to the practice of offering money or other forms of gifts to media broadcasters in order to promote certain content over others. Payola, which is most popular in the radio industry, has been criticised by many as a form of corruption and is considered to be illegal in most countries. Others, however, have supported it as a genuine business practice that helps in the promotion of content that is more likely to satisfy the tastes of consumers. They have argued that payola can help new content producers, who would otherwise find it extremely hard to receive the support of broadcasters, to popularise their content.
10. PM Modi makes a pitch for cost reduction
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, and NITI-Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar were also present at the meeting. “Prime Minister highlighted the significant positioning of India in the oil and gas market,” the release added.
“He noted that the oil market is producer driven; and both the quantity and prices are determined by the oil producing countries. Though there is enough production, the unique features of marketing in the oil sector have pushed up the oil prices.”
11. India, France in talks to conduct tri-service exercise
India and France are in discussions for a bilateral tri-service military exercise to take forward the strategic cooperation while also exploring ways to operationalise the logistics agreement. These issues were discussed during the visit of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to Paris last week.
“We have agreed on a bilateral tri-service exercise with France. The modalities are being worked out and it is likely to be held next year,” an official source said on Monday.
This will be India’s third such joint exercise. The first joint tri-service exercise was held with Russia in October last year and has finalised one with the U.S. to be held next year.
India and France currently hold bilateral exercises between individual services — Shakti, Varuna and Garuda respectively for the Army, Navy and Air Force.
India and France signed a logistics pact in March this year which gives access to their militaries to each other’s bases for logistics support. While the agreement gives India access to French military bases all over the world on a “reciprocal basis,” of particular interest for New Delhi are the three French bases in the Indian Ocean — Reunion Island, Djibouti and Abu Dhabi.
Taking it forward
Ms. Sitharaman and her French counterpart Florence Parly discussed “how to operationalise it and make it happen.” “While the agreement has been signed, we now have to identify specific aspects to implement it,” the source added.
These three bases would give the Indian Navy and the Air Force operational turnaround to the far end of the Indian Ocean, improving its monitoring and surveillance of the region, in the backdrop of increased Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
12. Ahead of climate talks, India in touch with 40 countries
Ahead of the December climate talks in Katowice, Poland, India is having discussions with 40 countries, including China, to forge alliances and compel developed countries to make good on promises, made over the years, to provide enough finance and technology to stem runaway global warming.
Over the years, developed countries have promised to provide $100 billion annually to developing countries to check such warming.
“We are having talks with nearly 40 countries in various capacities,” C.K. Mishra, Secretary, Environment, Forests and Climate Change Ministry, told The Hindu on the sidelines of a conference. “Mainly, it is about firming up about how the Paris agreement is to be implemented, as well as outstanding commitments on providing finance and technology.” Over the years, India has been part of several such alliances.
The ‘Like Minded Developing Countries’ (India, China, Venezuela and Iran) and BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India, China) are networks that are formed to lend weight to developing country concerns.
“There are constant fora where we interact…video calls, meetings. However not all COPs would result in big bang announcements…some are about compelling countries to make good on outstanding commitments,” said a government official familiar with climate change negotiations.
The Conference of Parties (COP) is a group of 200 countries which meet annually on addressing global warming.
13. Regional links are key: China envoy
India and China are in talks over connectivity projects that pass through Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Beijing’s ambassador said here on Monday. Speaking at the first ever joint India-China training programme for Afghan diplomats, Ambassador Luo Zhaohui said that both sides should cooperate over connectivity projects with Iran, Pakistan and extend it to smaller countries of South Asia.
“We are talking a lot about regional connectivity initiatives such as the International North-South transport corridor, India-Iran-Afghanistan transit and trade arrangement, and China-Pakistan—Afghanistan cooperation,” said Mr. Luo.
14. Wickremesinghe to meet PM Modi
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will visit New Delhi later this week and meet his counterpart Narendra Modi to discuss bilateral matters, official sources in Colombo said.
Mr. Wickremesinghe, according to his office, will take part in high-level meetings, including with Mr. Modi, on October 19 and 20.
The visit is seen as significant from both sides, sources said. New Delhi has been concerned with the slow pace of several India-aided projects in the island, while Colombo appears inclined to iron out issues in order to better balance its ties with key partners India and China. President Maithripala Sirisena is scheduled to visit Beijing soon.
From the Indian side, “priority projects” in the island include the Mattala airport, near the China-controlled port in the southern Hambantota district; the Palaly airport in Jaffna in the Northern Province; the Trincomalee oil tank farm in the east; the East Container Terminal at the Colombo Port and a Liquefied natural gas plant in Kerawalapitiya, north of Colombo. Despite bilateral discussions and joint agreements on development cooperation and commercial partnership, none of the projects have taken off the way it was envisaged. Colombo-based officials, who spoke to The Hindu on condition of anonymity, said the delay was due to political reasons in some cases, and bureaucratic issues in others.
15. Data diktat: 15 players fail to comply
With the central bank’s deadline for payment players to store data locally in India coming to an end on Monday, it is believed that about 15 entities out of the total 78 are yet to fully comply with the directive.
Further, some of the largest entities that are not yet compliant are in constant dialogue with the RBI after having completed a “significant amount of work” towards compliance, said banking sources.
“Around 62-63 entities have fully complied with the RBI circular and the rest who are currently not compliant have also completed a significant amount of work towards becoming fully compliant,” said a person familiar with the development.
“Some of the bigger players are in the process of compliance and are also in continuous dialogue with the RBI. The central bank is currently ascertaining whether the non-compliant players are facing any particular genuine difficulties,” said the person on condition of anonymity.
While it could not be immediately confirmed, it is believed that some of the biggest payment processing players are yet to fully comply with the RBI diktat that was issued in April. Email queries sent to American Express, Visa and Mastercard remained unanswered till the time of going to press.
16. OYO Hotels launches operations in UAE
Hospitality chain OYO Hotels said on Monday it had launched operations in the United Arab Emirates. The company said it has a string of over 10 full-inventory-franchised and operated hotels and more than 1,100 rooms in three Emirates — Dubai, Sharjah and Fujairah, in the UAE.
It plans to host guests in over 12,000 rooms, 150 hotels and all seven Emirates, across UAE by 2020.
“With over 170 countries committing to the World Expo 2020, the hospitality sector in the Middle East, and more specifically UAE, is poised to grow substantially,” said Ritesh Agarwal, founder and CEO, OYO Hotels. “With our market learnings and expertise, we are ready to tap this opportunity,” he said. According to data from Dubai Corporation of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), overall, Dubai hotel room supply is set to reach 1,32,000 by 2019 end.
The Dubai Tourism also forecasts the hospitality sector to experience sharp, sustained growth over the coming years, with occupied room nights set to reach 35.5 million annually in 2019, representing a 10.2% compound annual growth rate over the next 24 months, said OYO.
17. Silver for women’s hockey team
The Indian women’s hockey team went down 3-1 to host Argentina and picked up its maiden medal in the five-a-side competition of the Youth Olympic Games, here on Sunday. China won bronze after routing South Africa 6-0.
18. No shooters below 12: NRAI
Shardul Vihan had competed in the World championship in 2012 in Lonato when he was just 12
The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has stated that any shooter below 12 years of age would not be allowed to compete in the 62nd National shooting championships in Thiruvananthapuram and Jaipur.
With the glittering example of 16-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary winning the Asian Games and Youth Olympics gold, not to forget the overwhelming performance of Manu Bhaker in the World Cups, Commonwealth Games and Youth Olympics, it was clear that the youngsters were getting trained early and making a huge impact.
However, in order to discourage children from handling dangerous weapons, the NRAI has brought the age stipulation, equally for rifle, pistol and shotgun.
It may be noted that the 15-year-old Shardul Vihan, who won the Asian Games silver in double trap, had competed in the World championship in 2012 in Lonato when he was just 12!
He had finished 11th among the juniors then.
The National championship for rifle and pistol will be held at Vattiyoorkkavu, Thiruvananthapuram, from November 15 to December 7 while the 62nd National shotgun championship will be staged in Jaipur from November 16 to December 3.
The mixed team events in air rifle, air pistol and trap, will be restricted to one team per State unit.
19. MIT plans to set up a college for AI
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is taking a particularly ambitious step, creating a new college backed by a planned investment of $1 billion. Two-thirds of the funds have already been raised, MIT said, in announcing the initiative on Monday.
The college, called the MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, will create 50 new faculty positions and many more fellowships for graduate students. It is scheduled to begin in the fall semester next year, housed in other buildings before moving into its own new space in 2022.
National Rifle Association of India (NRAI)
Indian Ocean Region (IOR)
Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML)
21. Things to Remember:
Home Minister of India Rajnath Singh
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
22. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning – Former
Example – ‘the erstwhile president of the company’
Synonyms – former, old, past, one-time, sometime, as was, ex-, late, then
Current Affairs is an important GK topic for UPSC, NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Air force X & Y Groups, SSC, and other competitive exams. Every year in UPSC, SSC and Bank there are few questions from Current Affairs.