Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (December 1, 2018)
1. ‘Army not ready for women in combat roles’
Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said on Friday that while the force would take in increasing numbers of woman officers in the coming years, it wasn’t ready yet to cast them in combat roles.
“You will see an increase in the role of women in the armed forces. But we are not yet ready for them in front-line combat roles. Facilities for that need to be created from within and the women need to be prepared to face those kinds of hardships,” he said on the sidelines of the Passing Out Parade of the 135th course at the National Defence Academy in Khadakwasla here.
The Army Chief said that it was pointless comparing the culture here to that of the Western nations which was much more open. “While we may be [culturally and socially] more open in our big cities, our Army personnel do not come only from the big cities. Large numbers come from the rural areas where the intermingling between genders is still not there,” he said.
2. Growth slows to 7.1% on oil, rupee
The sectors that are estimated to have registered growth above 7% in the second quarter include ‘Manufacturing’, ‘Electricity, Gas, Water Supply & Other Utility Services’, ‘Construction’, and ‘Public Administration, Defence and Other Services’.
The ‘Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing’ sector grew at 3.8% while the ‘Mining and Quarrying’ sector contracted by 2.4% during the period.
Growth “is marginally lower than Ind-Ra’s expectation of 7.3%,” Devendra Kumar Pant, Chief Economist at Fitch Group company India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra), wrote in a note. “Even the GVA growth at 6.9% is lower than Ind-Ra’s expectation of 7.2%. “On the whole… second quarter GDP numbers do not ring in any alarm or indicate any serious deviation from the expected growth numbers,” Mr. Pant added. “No doubt the sudden spurt in crude oil prices and depreciation in rupee had a somewhat destabilising impact on the economy lately, but over the past month they have corrected equally fast.”
Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council Chairman Bibek Debroy said that the robust growth rates in sectors such as manufacturing and construction show that the growth momentum continues to be broad based.
3. Paris Agreement can’t be renegotiated: India
India will resist attempts by countries to renegotiate the Paris Agreement, said one of India’s key negotiators at climate talks set to begin next week in Katowice, Poland.
The landmark deal agreed to in 2015 exhorts countries to take steps to avoid temperatures from rising beyond 2C of pre-industrial levels, and even 1.5 C as far as possible, by the end of the century.
Currently global emissions are poised to warm the world by 3C by the end of the century.
The United States opted out of the deal last year but continues to be part of discussions as a complete withdrawal — as per terms of the UN convention — takes up to four years.
A 17-member delegation, consisting of officials from several Ministries as well as Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan, will be representing India over two weeks in what is likely to be arduous negotiations on how to agree to implement the Paris Agreement.
A key point, said Mr. Mishra, would be transparency and accountability. Developing and developed countries have disputes on whether there should be a common set of standards that all countries must adhere to when reporting what steps each has taken to contain carbon emissions.
India and China, which have committed to ensuring that their emission intensities will not cross a threshold, also argue that all countries cannot be held to the same data-monitoring-and-reporting standards.
4. Modi meets Trump, Putin ahead of G20 summit
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday interacted with U.S. President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister Theresa May ahead of the G-20 summit .
The brief exchange of views took place before the first trilateral meeting between Mr. Modi, Mr. Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe scheduled for later in the day.
Earlier, Mr. Modi held separate bilateral meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi discussed joint efforts to further enhance mutual trust and friendship. Asserting that the Wuhan meet was a milestone in India-China ties, Mr. Modi told Mr. Xi that he was looking forward to host him for an informal summit next year.
5. Hostage crisis: India is working with Ethiopia
India is trying to resolve a crisis that began after seven Indian employees of IL&FS were taken hostage by local workers in Ethiopia over unpaid wages. Sources said that both sides are trying to resolve the situation on a priority basis which began on November 24. The crisis came to light after one of the hostages took to Twitter to spread information.
6. Trump defends Russia deal efforts
U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday defended his decision to seek a business deal in Russia in 2016 even as he pursued the Republican presidential nomination, calling it “very legal” and “very cool” to keep running his business while campaigning.
In a series of tweets from Buenos Aires, where he is attending the G20 summit, Mr. Trump also said he had only “lightly looked” at a real estate project “somewhere in Russia”, but that nothing had come of the effort.
A second guilty plea on Thursday by Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, has raised new questions about his dealings with Russia while he was also establishing Republican foreign policy during his run for the presidency.
Mr. Trump repeatedly has said he had no ties to Russia. The U.S. Special Counsel’s Office is investigating Moscow for alleged interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Mr. Trump’s campaign.
Russia has denied U.S. intelligence conclusions that it meddled and Mr. Trump has frequently decried the investigation as a “witch hunt”. Both have denied any collusion.
7. Suu Kyi to be stripped of freedom of Paris award
Paris city will strip Aung San Suu Kyi of her honorary freedom of the French capital over her failure to speak out against the crackdown on the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office said on Friday.
8. What’s with the back series GDP data?
The government on Wednesday released the GDP growth estimates for previous years based on the new method of calculation and base year it had adopted in 2015. The new data and the manner in which it was released led to criticism from various quarters, including Opposition political parties and economists alike.
In 2015, the government adopted a new method for the calculation of the gross domestic product of the country, and also adopted the Gross Value Added measure to better estimate economic activity. Further, the change involved a bringing forward of the base year used for calculations to 2011-12 from the previous 2004-05. However, this had led to the problem of not being able to compare recent data with the years preceding 2011-12. The back series data released on Wednesday provided the earlier years’ data using the new calculations.
What does the new data say?
The new data release shows that GDP growth during the UPA years averaged 6.7% during both UPA-I and UPA-II, compared with the 8.1% and 7.46%, respectively, estimated using the older method. In comparison, the current government has witnessed an average GDP growth rate of 7.35% during the first four years of its term, based on the new method.
The new data shows that, contrary to the earlier perception, the Indian economy never graduated to a ‘high growth’ phase of more than 9% in the last decade or so. Former Chief Statistician of India TCA Anant also pointed out that the newer data, especially for the mining and manufacturing sectors, shows that India did not recover from the global financial crisis as quickly as initially thought.
What were the changes made?
The first and most basic change made in the data calculations was changing the base year. While using 2011-12 as the base year is simpler for calculations for subsequent years, it was a tougher exercise calculating backwards using the new base.
According to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, the method for preparing the back series is largely the same as what is used to calculate the data using the new base, which is how all national accounts calculations will be made going forward.
While doing the exercise, the government adopted the recommendations of the United Nations System of National Accounts, which included measuring the GVA, Net Value Added (NVA), and the use of new data sources wherever available. One of these data sources is the Ministry of Corporate Affairs MCA-21 database, which became available since 2011-12.
One problem encountered was in finding matching data for the older series as what the MCA-21 database provided. The key difference between the two was that the old method measured volumes — actual physical output in the manufacturing sector, crop production, and employment for the services sector. The MCA-21 database allows for a more granular approach, looking at the balance sheet data of each company and aggregating the performance of the sector from that, after adjusting for inflation.
For most sectors, simply changing the price vectors from a 2004-05 to a 2011-12 base was enough, but others required a splicing of new and old data in the relevant proportions to arrive at the closest approximation.
The new method is also statistically more robust as it tries to relate the estimates to more indicators such as consumption, employment, and the performance of enterprises, and also incorporates factors that are more responsive to current changes, unlike the old series that usually took 2-3 years to register an underlying change.
9. ‘Fast-tracking work on data protection bill’
Union Minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday said the government is “fast-tracking” consultations on the draft personal data protection bill and soon, an inter-ministerial consultation will also be initiated.
The Minister said “widest consultation and feedback” would be undertaken regarding the “milestone” legislation and all efforts to introduce the bill in the upcoming session of Parliament — beginning December 11 — are on.
The draft bill, which was released earlier this year after an almost year-long consultation process, had proposed that critical personal data of Indian citizens be processed in centres located within the country.
10. Leh, Kargil solar unit tenders likely
The government is planning to issue tenders for 7,500 MW of solar projects in the Leh and Kargil region of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) by December 15.
As part of the initiatives under the National Solar Mission, the Ministry of New and Renewable energy (MNRE) has launched the ambitious plan of implementation of 23 GW (23,000 MW) grid-connected ultra mega solar PV projects in the Leh and Ladakh regions of Jammu & Kashmir.
“First phase will comprise setting up of 2,500 MW solar PV capacity in Kargil region and 5,000 MW to be set up in Leh district,” a senior official of Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) told The Hindu, adding that the government may also think of subsidising the projects.
11. Nissan’s SUV Kicks is ICC World Cup official car
Nissan’s new sport utility vehicle (SUV) Kicks, which is scheduled for launch in early 2019, will be the ‘Official Car of ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.’ It will carry the ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy across Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Delhi/NCR, from November 30 to December 26. The trophy, along with the new Nissan Kicks, would be on display at key locations in each of these cities.
12. Bindra gets award
Raninder Singh, president, National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), was presented the gold medal and the Diploma of Honour for “exceptional services to the sport” of shooting by the outgoing president of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), Olegario Vazquez Rana, at the General Assembly in Munich on Friday.
Abhinav Bindra, chairman, ISSF Athletes Committee, who has been inducted as a member in the IOC athletes committee, was presented the Blue Cross and Diploma of Honour in appreciation of “exceptional services” to the sport.
13. India’s first indigenous film festival in Feb.
India’s first international indigenous film festival will take place in February next year in Odisha.
An initiative of activist film collective Video Republic, that has been campaigning for indigenous communities in the State, the three-stop event will be held in Bhubaneswar from February 19 to 20, move on to Puri over February 21-22 to eventually culminate in an interaction with the Adivasi communities at Niyamgiri.
It will showcase films made by indigenous people or made by non-indigenous filmmakers in collaboration with the indigenous communities.
The idea is to shine a light on and celebrate the huge and diverse native tribes and indigenous cultures, their issues and concerns and the problems afflicting them.
14. Moon rocks sell for $8,55,000 in New York
Three moon rocks brought to the earth nearly half a century ago was sold for $8,55,000 in New York on Thursday, Sotheby’s said. The rocks were collected by an unmanned Soviet Luna-16 Mission in 1970.
Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
16. Things to Remember:
BSF Director-General Rajni Kant Mishra
Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan
17. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning 1 – (of a boat or its passengers) floating without being either moored or steered.
Example – ‘a cargo ship went adrift’
Synonyms – drifting, unmoored, unanchored, lost, off course, off track, off the right track, having lost one’s bearings, disorientated, disoriented, confused, bewildered, at sea, all at sea
Meaning 1.1 – Without purpose, direction, or guidance.
Example – ‘she found herself cast adrift in a land full of strangers’
Synonyms – lost, off course, off track, off the right track, having lost one’s bearings, disorientated, disoriented, confused, bewildered, at sea, all at sea
Meaning 1.2 – No longer fixed in position.
Example – ‘one of my fillings has come adrift’
Synonyms – loose, free, astray