Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (October 18, 2018)
1. Beautiful Kulgod is the best village
PIN Code 591310 is the most developed village in the country under the Antyodaya scheme of the Centre. On Wednesday, Kulgod in Karnataka’s district got ready to celebrate its special status as the results of the village ranking came in. Its score: 94 out of 100.
Nestled on the banks of the perennial Ghataprabha river, Kulgod is a clean, green village. It scored high on infrastructure, financial inclusion, women’s empowerment, health and education, among 47 parameters.
There are signs of prosperity: a well-equipped gram panchayat office, branches of two nationalised banks, a co-op bank, a BSNL centre, a government primary school, three private high schools, an electricity customer care centre, a PHC, a veterinary hospital, and an ATM. With a population of 7,000 people, it has 5,200 voters.
The economy is aided by agriculture, and nearly 90% of the area is irrigated by the Ghataprabha right bank canal and the Rameshwar lift irrigation project. There is a frequent bus service. Beyond Class X, girls take a bus to the government college at Koujalagi, 6 km away.
2. SC bars States from diverting money from CAMPA funds
The Supreme Court has barred State governments from diverting money from their Compensatory Afforestation and Management Planning Authority (CAMPA) funds meant for environmental protection, rehabilitation of displaced persons due to issues like depletion of forest, mining, etc.
The apex court’s order came after realising that the Punjab government took ₹1.11 crore from CAMPA funds and to pay its lawyers and other legal expenses.
A Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur, S. Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta, on October 1, ordered the Punjab government to reimburse ₹1,11,01,420 to its CAMPA funds within a fortnight. The court discovered the diversion of funds from a document prepared by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Punjab, and placed on record before the Bench.
The court was hearing a suo motu case titled In Re: National CAMPA Advisory Council. This is part of a major effort by the Supreme Court since 1995 to prevent and monitor environmental degradation. The idea of having CAMPA funds and authority was introduced by the apex court. The periodic orders of the court in this litigation finally led to the birth of The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act of 2016.
In a March 2018 order, the Supreme Court recorded that the total amount in CAMPA funds is “tentatively put in the region of ₹.70,000-75,000 crore approximately” and likely to go even higher.
The apex court had observed that this was a “huge amount” which can be used for the benefit of environmental protection and rehabilitation of persons displaced by environmental causes. Availability of these amounts will not only help the States/UTs and local communities to ensure better management of their forest resources.
The 2016 Act’s objective is promote conservation, protection, improvement and expansion of forest and wildlife resources of the country.
3. The Central Industrial Security Force has been inducted at the international airport in Kannur on Wednesday. The airport will begin operations on December 9.
4. Understanding Zika
What is Zika?
Zika, a flavivirus spread mainly by mosquitoes, belongs to the same genus as dengue and chikungunya. Some evidence that Zika has been in India for long comes from a 1954 survey, which found several Indians with Zika antibodies. However, this evidence wasn’t conclusive, because other flaviviruses, like dengue, can also trigger Zika-neutralising antibodies. The first confirmed Indian case occurred in 2016 in Gujarat. Later, three more cases were detected, before the 2018 Rajasthan outbreak. Despite its long presence in Asia, Zika outbreaks in this region have been benign. This changed with a large French Polynesian outbreak in 2013 and a larger Brazilian one in 2015.
What are the symptoms?
In Rajasthan, where 72 have been infected, Zika is causing fever, rash, muscle and joint pain. But the French Polynesian and Brazilian outbreaks were linked to deadlier conditions such as microcephaly, in which the child of a Zika-infected mother is born with an abnormally small head. In rare cases, patients also developed Guillain-Barre syndrome, which causes potentially fatal muscle weakness. Indian officials are watching out for these complications, since the Rajasthan strain is closely related to the Brazilian strain.
5. Pollution haven hypothesis
This refers to the hypothesis that companies that cause a lot of environmental pollution generally prefer to set up their factories and other facilities in developing countries that have lax environmental regulations. This is because complying with the tough environmental standards in developed countries is usually a costly affair. So it makes economic sense to locate operations in countries with poor environmental standards. Apart from lax environmental regulations, people and policymakers in developing countries also attach a lower value to the need for a clean environment.
6. A.P. hamlets shine in rural survey
Kuligod in Karnataka’s Belagavi district is the country’s best developed village, but more than a third of the gram panchayats ranked in the top 10 are in Andhra Pradesh, according to the findings of an ongoing Rural Development Ministry survey.
With multiple panchayats assigned the same score – and thus tied at the same ranking – there are 97 panchayats in the top 10 ranks. Of these, 37 panchayats are in Andhra Pradesh while 24 are in Tamil Nadu.
Villages from other States are represented only in single digits. Of the States going to the polls next month, Telengana and Madhya Pradesh have five and four panchayats in the top 10 ranks respectively.
The Rural Development Ministry has done a gap analysis of more than 3.5 lakh villages, in more than 1.6 lakh panchayats under the Mission Antyodaya convergence scheme. A team of officials surveyed and scored village level facilities and amenities using parameters related to infrastructure, economic development and livelihood, irrigation facilities, health, nutrition and sanitation, women’s empowerment, and financial inclusion.
While in October 2017, an initial baseline survey was carried out in 50,000 gram panchayats, this year, the exercise is expected to cover all of the country’s 2.5 lakh panchayats by the end of November. The rankings will be updated as more panchayats are included, the Ministry said.
At the national level, the data shows progress in some areas and also spotlights discrepancies in respect of targets met under some other government schemes.
For example, the survey reveals that more than 95% of villages have electricity available for domestic use, while the government had earlier this year claimed that 100% of villages had power connections.
Similarly with regard to sanitation, the survey shows only 58% of villages — slightly more than 2 lakh of the 3.5 lakh surveyed villages — are open defecation free (ODF). However, according to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan-Gramin, 5.13 lakh of India’s 6 lakh villages are already ODF.
The survey also shows only 21% of villages having a community waste disposal system.
About a quarter of all villages have more than 75% of households using clean energy, such as LPG or biogas.
7. India, China set to resume drill
India and China will resume the annual joint Army exercise ‘Hand-in-Hand’ in December in China’s Chengdu region, an Army official said. The drill was cancelled last year due to tense relations in the aftermath of the Doklam standoff.
“The Exercise Planning Conference is scheduled to be held from November 1-3 at Chengdu in China to work out the modalities of the exercise,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“The final dates of the exercise, which will tentatively take place in mid-December, will be finalised during the conference.”
Following the Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in April, the two countries have initiated several measures to normalise relations.
About 175 personnel from each side will take part. The Indian sidewould be represented by troops from the 11 Sikh Light regiment under the Northern Command.
The scope of the exercise is to understand transnational terrorism and evolve joint drills for the conduct of counter terrorism operations, in addition to Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations.
In three phases
The exercise will be held in three phases — familiarisation, basic training and the joint exercise.
Separately, the Army has for the first time organised a forward area tour to Leh on October 16 and 17 for interested foreign service attaches posted in India.
8. Chandigarh police merger with other UTs put on hold
The Union Home Ministry has suspended a notification issued last month to merge senior ranks of police from Chandigarh and five other Union Territories, including Delhi. The decision was opposed by the Congress government in Punjab and the Shiromani Akali Dal.
9. EC for capping anonymous donations to ₹2,000
The Election Commission (EC) has again written to the Law Ministry for capping anonymous donations to parties to ₹2,000 for greater transparency in funding. However, the context in which the request had been made was not clear.
10. British MPs to debate making Deepavali a public holiday
British MPs are set to hold a debate in Parliament later this month on whether Hindu and Muslim religious occasions such as Deepavali and Id should be made into public holidays, following public calls for change, including through petitions submitted to Parliament.
Over 45,000 people have signed a petition on Parliament’s e-petition website, calling for Id-ul-Fitr and Id ul-Adha to be made public holidays, while over 11,000 have signed a petition to make Deepavali and Dussera public holidays.
The petitions noted that despite both religions accounting for sizeable sections of the British community (the 2011 census said there were 2.7 million Muslims, or 4.8% of the U.K. population, while there are 8,17,000 Hindus or 1.5%) there are no public holidays that recognised their religions.
11. Canada legalises marijuana
Canada became the first industrialised nation to legalise recreational cannabis on Wednesday. However, its biggest cities like and Vancouver currently don’t have any store selling marijuana.
Weed enthusiasts in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada’s easternmost province, kicked off the first permissible sales at midnight.
12. UN’s Syria envoy to quit in November
UN’s Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Wednesday that he would step down at the end of November for personal reasons, but would use his final month to push for the formation of a panel to rewrite the Constitution. Mr. De Mistura, in the job for more than four years, is the longest serving of three UN mediators.
13. Arundhati Bhattacharya joins board
Former chairman of State Bank of India Arundhati Bhattacharya has joined as additional director, designated as independent director, Reliance Industries.
“Arundhati Bhattacharya is appointed for five years commencing October 17, 2018, subject to approval of the shareholders,” RIL said. It also said wholly-owned arm Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings has bought 12.7% in SkyTran Inc., which develops technology in the field of Personal Rapid Transit Systems.
14. Praveen takes triple jump bronze
Praveen Chitravel, a farm labourer’s son from Tamil Nadu, clinched the bronze medal in the men’s triple jump in the ongoing Youth Olympics here on Tuesday.
The 17-year-old, who hails from a village in Thanjavur district, cleared a distance of 15.68m to finish fifth in the Stage 2 competition on Tuesday night but his good showing in Stage 1, where he was third with a jump of 15.84m, took him to the podium with a combined effort of 31.52m.
Alejandro Diaz of Cuba won gold with a 34.18m (17.14+ 17.04) while Emmeanuel Oritsemeyiwa (16.34+15.51) of Nigeria came second.
Praveen was a gold medallist in the inaugural Khelo India School Games and won a silver at the junior Nationals in Coimbatore earlier this year.
15. Vasudevan assumes office as VFI president
S. Vasudevan will assume the role of president of Volleyball Federation of India and hold office till 2021, said Ramavtar Singh Jakhar, secretary, VFI, in a release on Wednesday. Ramavtar said that the Delhi HC had endorsed the elections held by VFI on April 11 2016 and upheld the removal of Avadesh Kumar Chaudhary as president.
16. Bulgaria urged to save giant monument
Perched like a vast flying saucer on a central Bulgarian mountainside, Buzludzha is a brutalist concrete monument that was built to glorify communism nearly 40 years ago. The striking circular building has been left to fall victim to vandalism and decay, as Bulgaria has been eager to forget its communist past, but now Western experts want to preserve it as a heritage site.
The 230-foot-high structure — made of 70,000 tonnes of concrete, 3,000 tonnes of reinforced steel and 40 tonnes of glass — looks like it is hovering at around 1,400 metres above sea level. It has a 40-metre-wide ceremonial hall and was covered from floor to ceiling in mosaics depicting the history of Bulgaria’s communist party. Inaugurated in 1981, it fell into disrepair following the collapse of the ‘Iron Curtain’ in 1989 and now lies empty and crumbling.
Experts from cultural heritage organisation Europa Nostra visited the site last month and have urged the Bulgarian authorities to rescue what they believe is “a masterpiece of architecture, engineering and art”. Europa Nostra listed it as one of the most endangered heritage sites in Europe this year.
17. Anna Burns wins Booker Prize
Anna Burns has won the prestigious Man Booker Prize for fiction for Milkman, a vibrant, violent story about men, women, conflict and power set during Northern Ireland’s years of Catholic-Protestant violence.
Ms. Burns is the first writer from Northern Ireland to win the £50,000 (₹48 lakh) prize, which is open to English-language authors from around the world. She received her trophy from Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, during a black-tie ceremony at London’s Guildhall.
The 56-year-old Belfast-born novelist said she was “stunned” to have won. Ms. Burns said her books took a long time to complete, and she has often struggled financially since her first novel, No Bones, was released in 2001.
18. UN launches mental health strategy
The United Nations has launched a strategy to help its staff deal with workplace mental health issues. “The strategy underscores the need to care for each other, and to reach out to colleagues who may be in distress,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, adding that tackling stigma is key to the programme.
19. China tests world’s largest unmanned drone
China has successfully tested the world’s largest unmanned transport drone which can carry a payload of 1.5 tonnes, official media reported on Wednesday. A commercial drone Feihong-98 (FH-98) developed and modified by the China Academy of Aerospace Electronics Technology made a test flight in the Baotou site in north China on Tuesday.
Compensatory Afforestation and Management Planning Authority (CAMPA)
Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)
21. Things to Remember:
President of Volleyball Federation of India – S. Vasudevan
22. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning – Revoke, cancel, or repeal (a law, order, or agreement)
Example – ‘the government eventually rescinded the directive’
Synonyms – revoke, repeal, cancel, reverse, abrogate, overturn, overrule, override, annul, nullify, declare null and void, make void, void, invalidate, render invalid, quash, abolish, set aside, countermand, retract, withdraw