Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (November 14, 2018)
1. Sri Lanka court stays dissolution, snap elections
Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed President Maithripala Sirisena’s dissolution of Parliament and restrained the Election Commission from preparing for snap elections.
After hearing 11 petitioners and respondents for two days, the top court suspended until December 7, the proclamation issued by Mr. Sirisena last week sacking the legislature and calling for elections on January 5.
The ruling comes amid a fortnight-long political upheaval.
Following the ruling, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya convened Parliament on Wednesday. Mr. Jayasuriya will first meet representatives of all parties at 8.30 a.m. and reconvene the House at 10 a.m. “All MPs are requested to attend,” he said in a statement.
2. Govt. asks Twitter to help track accounts
The Centre has asked microblogging site Twitter to furnish telephone numbers and other identifiable sources that could help track suspicious accounts, as asked for by law enforcement agencies, a senior Home Ministry official said.
Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Monday pulled up Twitter representatives for being slow to act on the government’s requests to take down content and accounts that incite communal violence.
The Centre has stepped up interactions with social media platforms to arrest the spread of rumours inciting unrest and other activities detrimental to national security. Twitter representatives told the Ministry officials that allowing only verified accounts would hit free speech.
3. Is govt. crop insurance scheme losing steam?
More than 84 lakh farmers, which is around 15% of the total farmers insured in the first year of the Centre’s ambitious Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana in 2016-17, withdrew themselves from the scheme in 2017-18, a reply to an RTI application has revealed.
It includes 68.31 lakh farmers from the four Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled States of Madhya Pradesh, Maharasthra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
The crop insurance companies, including Reliance, ICICI, HDFC and IFFCO, among others, have registered a total profit of around ₹15,795 crore since the launch of the scheme, though the final profit margins could change since the insurance claims for 2017-18 Rabi crops are yet to be estimated. The profits for 2016-17 are approximately ₹6,459 crore, said the RTI reply.
4. U.P. Cabinet nod for Faizabad name change
The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet on Tuesday approved a proposal to change the name of Faizabad district to Ayodhya, a week after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath made the announcement on the eve of Diwali.
5. Dudhwa Tiger Reserve opens on Thursday
LAKHIMPUR KHERI (U.P.)
The world-famous Dudhwa Tiger Reserve would open for tourists on Thursday, complete with a new ‘welcome gate’ at its base camp and an opportunity of lunch with jungle natives Tharus. The Reserve comprising Dudhwa National Park and Kishanpur and Katarniaghat wildlife sanctuaries starts its tourist season on November 15 and concludes on June 15 before the monsoon every year.
6. New index to check ease of doing agri-business
States may soon start receiving extra funding for the Agriculture Ministry’s flagship schemes on the basis of their performance in encouraging agri-business, especially with regard to marketing, land and governance reforms.
The Centre expects to roll out a new Ease of Doing Agri-Business Index early next year, which will rank the States on the basis of such reforms, as well as their investment in agriculture, increased productivity, reduction of input costs, and risk mitigation measures. “In future, the Ministry may consider rewarding the higher performing States [both in absolute and incremental terms] by linking the performance with allocation from flexi funds made available in various flagship schemes of this Ministry,” says a recent concept note for the Index.
NITI Aayog already brings out a Agricultural Marketing and Farm Friendly Reforms Index, rating States on their implementation of such reforms. In the initial edition of that Index in 2016, Maharashtra stood first in the rankings, followed by Gujarat.
The proposed index has a wider ambit, but the focus is still on reforms, with marketing reforms (25%) and governance and land reforms (20%) carrying almost half of the weight of the parameters in its scoring system.
7. Tomar, Gowda get Ananth Kumar’s portfolios
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has redistributed the portfolios of late Ananth Kumar between Union Statistics Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda and Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. Mr. Gowda has been assigned the charge of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, while Mr. Tomar will be Minister of Parliamentary Affairs.
8. India, Japan, U.S., Australia hold first ‘Quad’ talks at Manila ahead of ASEAN Summit
Beginning a diplomatic initiative, India on Sunday participated in the first formal official-level discussions here under the recently floated regional coalition known as the ‘Quad’, the quadrilateral formation that includes Japan, India, United States and Australia. The quadrilateral talks were held even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with Premier Shinzo Abe of Japan and U.S. President Donald Trump at a gala dinner thrown by President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines for the leaders who are here to participate in the 31st ASEAN and the 12th East Asia summits.
9. Group polarisation
Also known as the group polarisation effect, this refers to the tendency among groups to assume positions that are far more extreme than the initial positions of the individual members of the group following a group discussion. Increased interaction between like-minded individuals can cause groups as a whole to assume more extreme positions. Such polarisation, however, may not happen when the group consists of individuals with vastly different view points. A group of liberals, for instance, may assume an extreme liberal position after a discussion. The same may not happen in a group that consists of both liberals and conservatives.
10. Democrat wins Arizona Senate race
Democrat Krysten Sinema, a 42-year-old member of the U.S. House of Representatives, will become the first woman Senator of Arizona. Ms. Sinema, a former social worker, narrowly beat by a 1.7-% margin her Republican opponent Martha McSally, a former Air Force pilot and also a Congresswoman.
Ms. McSally, who had the lead at the end of Election Day on November 6, conceded on Monday, with nearly all votes counted, as postal ballots were tallied.
11. The mind behind Marvel superheroes
Marvel legend Stan Lee, who died on Monday at the age of 95, revolutionised pop culture as the co-creator of iconic superheroes like Spider-Man and The Hulk.
He ended up in the comics business by accident, thanks to an uncle who got him a job when he was a teenager filling artists’ inkwells and fetching coffee.
From Spidey to Black Panther to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, Mr. Lee collaborated with other authors and illustrators to put his lively imagination on the page. Iron Man, Thor and Doctor Strange would follow — and today, all three heroes have multi-film franchises that rake in hundreds of millions of dollars.
Born on December 28, 1922 to Jewish immigrants who migrated to the U.S. from Romania, Mr. Lee got that first assistant’s job at age 17 at Timely Comics and began rising through the ranks. He teamed up with illustrator Jack Kirby in the 1960s to invent the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man.
12. Amazon chooses 2 locations for ‘second headquarters’
Amazon, the online retailing giant, officially announced on Tuesday that it will split its “second headquarters” between New York City and a DC suburb in Northern Virginia.
Up to 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment are likely to be split between the two centres — to be located in Long Island City, a neighbourhood in the Queens borough of New York City; and Crystal City, located in Arlington County, just outside the Washington DC.
13. Union Bank celebrates 100th foundation day
Union Bank of India celebrated its 100th Foundation Day in Mumbai on Sunday. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who was the chief guest, hailed the bank’s role in nation building. On the occasion, the bank launched Combo Card (debit and credit) and Rupay Contactless Card (debit and pre-paid), an app for mobile banking, U Mobile and new web and tab-enabled module for credit growth in MSME Sector — Union Mudra.
Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG)
15. Things to Remember:
Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan
Minister of Parliamentary Affairs – Narendra Singh Tomar
16. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning – A small, narrow space or opening.
Example – ‘bugs and spiders conceal themselves in crannies of the bark’
Synonyms – chink, crack, crevice, slit, split, fissure, rift, cleft, opening, gap, aperture, cavity, hole, hollow, niche, corner, recess, bay, booth, alcove, nook, interstice