Current Affairs for NDA CDS AFCAT Airforce X&Y Groups Dec 24, 2018

/Current Affairs for NDA CDS AFCAT Airforce X&Y Groups Dec 24, 2018
Current Affairs for NDA CDS AFCAT Airforce X&Y Groups Dec 24, 2018 2018-12-24T19:11:32+00:00

Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups – News Analysis from THE HINDU (December 24, 2018)

1. Karnataka wages costly fight to eject bugs from buses

Until a few years ago, travelling on a premier bus operated by the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) was fraught with menace as the seats were infested with bed bugs.

The KSRTC used to receive complaints from passengers on buses operated to Chennai, coastal destinations such as Mangaluru and Kundapura, and several places in Uttara Kannada.

But nearly 10 years later, the transport corporation appears to have won the battle against bugs, although it is proving to be a costly one.

KSRTC officials claimed that preventive measures, primarily fumigation, have helped control the bed bugs. The KSRTC has roped in the Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) to fumigate buses at its five divisions and spends over ₹1 crore every year on its fleet of around 870 premier buses.

2. India to limit pilgrim flow to Kartarpur

India will invite Pakistan to discuss the blueprint of the Kartarpur corridor finalised by it.

Under the plans drawn up for pilgrims visiting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan, India is likely to cap the number of visitors per day and fix the number of hours a pilgrim can spend at the shrine, which is four kilometres from the Gurdaspur border.

A senior official told The Hindu that the safety of the pilgrims is of utmost importance and India would insist on a sovereign assurance from Pakistan. The official said while the security would be robust on the Indian side, conditions on the Pakistan side were a cause for concern.

In 2014, over 50 people were killed in an attack by the Taliban at Wagah, Pakistan’s border crossing point with India’s Attari.

3. Evening toy train services started in Darjeeling

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railways for the first time has started evening toy train services to enable tourists to experience the joyride during the second half of the day, officials said. The toy train service had been exposing tourists to the magical beauty of the Himalayas for more than a century. The new service was introduced last week.

4. PM to open Buddhist site museum at Lalitgiri in Odisha

One of the earliest Buddhist settlements in Odisha, Lalitgiri, where excavations have yielded ancient seals and inscriptions, has been converted into a museum. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the museum through video conference from Bhubaneswar on Monday.

Located in Cuttack district, it will be the third site museum of the Bhubaneswar circle of the Archaeological Survey of India after Ratnagiri and Konark, said Nandini Bhattacharya Sahu, Regional Director of ASI (Eastern Circle).

The museum complex is spread over 4,750 sq. m. The building and auditorium are built over 1,310 sq. m. The complex has been constructed at a cost of ₹10 crore. Excavations at Lalitgiri have yielded the remains of four monasteries, showing cultural continuity from the post-Mauryan period till the 13th century CE.

The centre of attraction is a relic casket containing corporal remains found inside the ‘Mahastupa’. “Huge sculptures of Buddha, architectural fragments of Viharas and Chaityas are arranged period-wise…the central gallery is designed after a Buddha Mandala with a colossal Buddha image at its centre and six Bodhisattva images surrounding it,” said Arun Malik, Archaeologist, ASI (Bhubaneswar Circle).

The site yielded more than 40 seals and inscriptions, most of them bearing Buddhist “Dharnimantras” in the eastern variety of Nagri script and in Sanskrit dating between 7th and 11th centuries CE.

5. Male nurses in Army seek parity

In a long pending issue of parity, male nurses referred to as Nursing Technicians (NT) in the Army have been demanding an equivalent status with the women nursing cadre, Military Nursing Service.

Members of the Military Nursing cadres are commissioned officers.

Some of the male nurses have taken the legal route too. Last month a fresh petition was filed in the Supreme Court.

“Combat male nurses have been in the Army since 1966. We get trained in the same school. But we are commissioned as Junior Commissioned Officers, while women are commissioned as officers,” a serving NT said on condition of anonymity.

Petitions by male nurses were dismissed on several occasions on the ground that there was no discrimination.

One senior defence official acknowledged the differences in the two categories and said that there was division within the Army on the issue.

6. Nuclear-capable Agni-IV successfully tested

India on Sunday successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable long-range ballistic missile Agni-IV, with a strike range of 4,000 km. The flight was tested from Integrated Test Range at the Dr. Abdul Kalam Island near here. The indigenously developed Agni-IV is a two-stage missile.

7. What is altruistic surrogacy?

What is an altruistic surrogacy arrangement? According to the new Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, approved by the Lok Sabha last week, it includes contracting a ‘close relative’ as a surrogate by a heterosexual married couple who have been childless for five years of their marriage. This line, in gist, separates altruism from the commercial tinge that surrogacy carries with it.

How is an act of selflessness translated into thinking about a pregnancy that is aimed towards relinquishing the child to a close relative? In the U.K., laws on surrogacy allow only altruistic arrangements where the surrogate can be paid only ‘reasonable expenses’. The fluidity in defining reasonable expenses means that this should ideally include payment for medical treatment, and in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) but may include other ‘expenses’. In most of Australia, altruistic surrogacy entails restricted — in different parts of the world, varying levels of legal restrictions, or complete bans are practised — pre-approved payments to the surrogate, including for diet during the pregnancy, and/or for the medical treatment. However, altruism also entails the provision that the surrogate is the legal mother of the child, which can be transferred to the parents through a legal process, including adoption. In many countries in Europe, the act of gestation defines motherhood, even though the egg used for the pregnancy through IVF may belong to the couple entering the arrangement.

As per the new Surrogacy Bill, the surrogate in India continues to fulfil her role as a gestate. In keeping with the insistence on gestational surrogacy, which makes the use of IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies mandatory, the current Bill is faithful to the Indian Council of Medical Research’s Draft Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2010. The latter has governed the practice of surrogacy till the Surrogacy Bill of 2016 banning commercial surrogacy comes into effect. Motherhood did not belong to the surrogate; she was trained to think of herself as a gestate, as research by Amrita Pande suggests, and the relinquishment of the child was an absolutely essential clause within the draft bills on commercial surrogacy, and in practice in the surrogacy contract.

The commercial surrogacy arrangement in India was an exchange of money for services: and yet, clinics and surrogacy agents went to great lengths to transform the commercial element of the surrogacy arrangement, primarily identified as the surrogate’s fees, into gift-giving, and sacrifice. That motherhood could be for sale is a matter of distress and shock.

In that sense, altruistic surrogacy is not very different from its opposite commercial variant. Unlike the U.K., altruism in India is being defined through the tie of kinship, not through the exchange of payment for ‘services rendered’. Here, kinship and family hide the commercial element entailed in seeking a surrogate from among close relatives. Thus, much of the criticism against the Surrogacy Bill in Parliament points toward the lack of definition that the category of the ‘close relative’ carries.

8. Sentientism

Philosophy

This refers to the philosophy that all sentient beings, which can experience different kinds of emotions that are similar to the emotions experienced by human beings, possess natural rights that need to be respected by people. Proponents of sentientism, also known as sentientists, believe that animals and other living beings that can feel emotions like pain and sympathy need to be treated with due consideration given towards their feelings. Some sentientists even argue that the ability of beings to feel emotions should be the fundamental consideration among moral philosophers when it comes to determining their moral rights.

9. Volcano-triggered tsunami in Indonesia

A tsunami killed at least 222 people and injured hundreds on the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra following an underwater landslide believed caused by the erupting Anak Krakatau volcano.

10. SSB gears up to tackle floods

The Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), posted along the Nepal border, is training its men in riverine patrolling as rampant flash floods affect several areas in Bihar.

An official said that since 2017, the force has been training its personnel for rescue and relief work in flood-like situations as several border outposts get submerged in water.

“We cannot leave the border unattended when a flood strikes. It has to be guarded, come what may. We are training the men so that they are prepared in times of crisis,” said an SSB official.

The official added that the training is imparted at the force’s Aqua Marine Training Institute in Porbandar.

For the past few years, the areas along the Nepal border have witnessed unpredictable flash floods originating from the rivers in the Himalayan ranges. Several districts of north Bihar are affected by these flash floods.

Post-Doklam, the SSB also opened three new BOPs in Sikkim and 15 others in Arunachal Pradesh, that shares its border with Bhutan in the west.

The official said that the new BOPs that had come up along the Sikkim-Bhutan border were not exactly close to Doklam but were constructed to fortify India’s defence structure.

The SSB was also mulling to use “laser fence” technology to plug loopholes along the two borders of Nepal and Bhutan that it guards.

11. Dhaka for mission in Chennai

Soon after the elections in Bangladesh on December 30, the government will formally give a proposal to India to open a new Deputy High Commission (DHC) office in Chennai.

It will be the first of Bangladesh missions in South India and the sixth diplomatic office of the country in India.

The mission proposed is another indication of “growing engagement” between Bangladesh and India, officials in Dhaka said.

Visitors from south India now visit the DHC in Kolkata or Mumbai for visa and other travel-related requirements.

In view of the increasing flow of visitors on both sides, the Bangladesh government is also mulling over the idea of a Dhaka-Chennai flight.

“It would depend on economic viability and flow of visitors to the Chennai mission,” Mr. Hasan said, adding that the mission would be in place within six to 12 months.

12. EC makes fresh push for election reforms

The Election Commission is set to make a fresh push for electoral reforms with the government, including making filing of false declaration a ground for disqualification and putting a cap on expenditure by candidates in Legislative Council polls.

Highly placed sources in the commission said its officials would raise the subject of making bribery during the election period a cognisable offence at the meeting planned with Legislative Secretary G. Narayana Raju after the winter session of Parliament ends on January 8.

While the Law Ministry is the administrative Ministry for the EC, the Legislative Department is the nodal unit for issues related to the panel.

The sources said the Commission would ask the Ministry to take a call on its demand to extend constitutional protection to the two Election Commissioners on the lines of the provision given to the Chief Election Commissioner.

A Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only through impeachment by Parliament. The President can remove the Election Commissioners based on the recommendation of the CEC.

13. Modi announces new award for national unity

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced the institution of a national unity award on the lines of the Padma awards, an official statement said on Sunday. The annual award would be given to any Indian who has contributed to national unity in any manner, the statement said, adding that the Prime Minister drew inspiration from Sardar Patel’s contribution towards the unification of the country. The announcement was made at the annual conference of DGPs and IGs of police. 

14. India-born U.K. leader Paddy Ashdown dead

Paddy Ashdown, the face of centrist politics in the U.K. for more than a decade and a one-time marine commando who sought to secure peace in the former Yugoslavia, died on Saturday. He was 77. Mr. Ashdown led the Liberal Democrats for 11 years up to 1999, steering it to become a campaigning force in British politics against the Conservatives and the Labour Party.

The party said Mr. Ashdown died on Saturday evening. He had recently been hospitalised with bladder cancer. It said he would be remembered as someone who made an immeasurable contribution to furthering the cause of liberalism.

Jeremy Ashdown was born in India on Feb. 27, 1941, the eldest son of an Indian Army colonel. He was educated at an English private school where he earned the nickname Paddy.

He had in recent years campaigned for the U.K. to remain within the European Union. He warned that chaos could ensue if it voted to leave and described Brexit as “a sense of personal bereavement”.

15. Cuban MPs approve new Constitution

Cuban lawmakers on Saturday unanimously approved a revised draft of a new Constitution that retains the island’s one-party socialist system but reflects its socio-economic opening since the fall of the Soviet Union. The draft Constitution will maintain the Communist Party as the country’s guiding force and the state’s dominance of the economy, according to state media.

16. SpaceX blasts off powerful GPS satellite

A SpaceX rocket on Sunday blasted off a powerful GPS satellite for the U.S. Air Force, marking its 21st and final launch for the year 2018. “Three, two, one, zero. Ignition and lift-off,” said a SpaceX mission control operator as the white Falcon 9 rocket took off under sunny, blue skies at 8:51 am (1351 GMT) from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

17. RBI mulls cooling-off period for its retired top officials

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has come up with a new norm for its top officials who want to take up the job of a chairman or chief executive of any other entity, post retirement.

According to central banking sources, the RBI has mandated a three-year cooling-off period for retired officials before they can take over as chairman or chief executive of any other entity. While making this new rule, global best practices have been cited, sources said.

However, to join as a director of any company’s board, the one-year cooling period mandate continues. RBI had been liberal in waiving off the one-year cooling period in the past, they said.

There have been several instances of top RBI officials like Deputy Governor and Executive Directors taking up the position of chairman of other entities.

G. Padmanabhan, who retired as RBI’s Executive Director May 31, 2015 joined as the non-executive chairman of Bank of India on August 14, 2015. The appointment was made by the government. Shyamala Gopinath, who retired from the RBI as Deputy Governor in June 2011, became the non-executive chairman of HDFC Bank in January 2015.

In June, Bandhan Bank’s board cleared the appointment of former RBI Deputy Governor H.R. Khan as its non-executive chairman. Mr. Khan had retired as Deputy Governor in July 2016. RBI has not approved Bandhan Bank’s application following which the lender withdrew the application.

18. RBI shortlists Wipro, TCS, 4 others for PCR

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has shortlisted six major IT companies, including TCS, Wipro and IBM India, to set up a digital public credit registry (PCR) for capturing details of all borrowers and wilful defaulters.

The proposed PCR will also include data from entities such as markets regulator SEBI, the Corporate Affairs Ministry, Goods and Service Tax Network (GSTN) and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI), to enable banks and financial institutions to get a 360-degree profile of existing as well as prospective borrowers on a real-time basis.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has shortlisted six major IT companies, including TCS, Wipro and IBM India, to set up a digital public credit registry (PCR) for capturing details of all borrowers and wilful defaulters.

The proposed PCR will also include data from entities such as markets regulator SEBI, the Corporate Affairs Ministry, Goods and Service Tax Network (GSTN) and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI), to enable banks and financial institutions to get a 360-degree profile of existing as well as prospective borrowers on a real-time basis.

“Consequent to the publication of expression of interest (EoI) on October 27, 2018, the RBI had received responses from several vendors for implementation of end-to-end solution for PCR,” the central bank said.

The other three shortlisted vendors are Capgemini Technology Services India, Dun & Bradstreet Information Services India and Mindtree Ltd. The RBI would soon seek request for proposals from the six vendors.

In June, the RBI had announced the setting up of a PCR to address information asymmetry, foster access to credit and strengthen the credit culture in the economy. The PCR would be the single point of mandatory reporting for all material events for each loan.

19. Seven-year-old to co-captain Australia

Archie Schiller, the seven-year-old leg-spinner inducted into the Australian team earlier this month, is set to co-captain the side alongside Tim Paine in the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The announcement was made by Paine at an event in Yarra Park on Saturday, the day the bubbly youngster turned seven.

“It’s great to have him around and we look forward to his debut on Boxing Day,” said Paine.

Archie has faulty heart valves, which was discovered when he was three months old, leading to irregular beating of the heart and further life-threatening complications. He has already undergone 13 surgeries.

20. Abbreviations:

Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB)

Public Credit Registry (PCR)

21. Things to Remember:

French President Emmanuel Macron

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

22. Improve your Vocabulary:

tranche

Meaning – A portion of something, especially money

Example – ‘they released the first tranche of the loan’

Synonyms – piece, part, bit, section, chunk, division, portion, slice, fragment, component, wedge, lump, slab, hunk, parcel

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.