Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (December 13, 2018)
1. ‘Sec. 377’ is top ‘What is…’ query of 2018 on Google
Sport-related queries dethroned entertainment as India’s top ‘googling’ obsession in 2018, occupying the top three spots on the list of most searched for ‘items’ online. This is as per the annual trends data released by Google, which it does towards the end of every year.
The top three trending queries of the year in India were ‘FIFA World Cup 2018’, Live Score’ and ‘IPL 2018’.
Apart from being the top query overall, ‘FIFA World Cup 2018’ was the most searched in sports and news categories, with football toppling cricket and Bollywood, which have traditionally been the top two themes of Indian curiosity.
Interestingly, the Supreme Court’s judgment decriminalising homosexuality probably led to a huge spike in ‘What is Section 377’ searches, making it the top ‘What is…’ search.
Tamil and Malayalam film industries walked away with the top searches in the ‘trending movies’ and ‘personalities’ categories respectively. Rajinikanth’s recently released film 2.0 was the most Googled film, while the Malayalam actor Priya Prakash Varrier, who broke the Internet with a wink, was the most searched personality.
2. Ranil wins vote of confidence in House
A majority of Sri Lankan parliamentarians — including 14 from the Opposition Tamil National Alliance (TNA) — on Wednesday voted for ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as their preferred candidate to serve in the post.
The motion, moved by Sajith Premadasa, deputy leader of Mr. Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP), sought to demonstrate the support that the deposed leader has in the House.
It is unlikely that the trust vote — passed with the support of 117 MPs in the 225-member House — will help end the island’s political impasse, especially coming a week after President Maithripala Sirisena declared that he would not appoint Mr. Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister “even if all 225 legislators” back him.
3. SC extends time for NRC claims
The Supreme Court on Wednesday extended the deadline for submission of claims and objections for inclusion in the Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC) from December 15 to December 31, 2018.
A Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Rohinton Nariman also extended the subsequent date for starting the process of verification of the claims and objections from February 1 to February 15.
The court further directed that copies of the draft NRC be made available for inspection at convenient locations.
4. India gets submarine rescue system
The Indian Navy joined a select group of naval forces in the world on Wednesday when it inducted its first non-tethered Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) system at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai. The DSRV is used to rescue crew members from submarines stranded under water in the high seas.
The DSRV can be operated at a depth of 650 metres and can rescue 14 people at a time. The state-of-the-art system is also equipped with a decompression chamber that can accommodate submariners and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), which can be used to beam images and provide immediate assistance. The Western Naval Command had recently successfully held trials with actual simulations with different classes of submarines.
Describing it as a landmark event, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba said, “The induction of the DSRV marks the culmination of years of effort of the Navy in acquiring this niche submarine rescue capability. It is the latest in terms of technology and capability.”
The DSRV can also be transported by air, enabling it to conduct rescue operations across the globe. “Our endeavour is to train our crew to provide submarine rescue services in the Indian Ocean region and beyond,” Admiral Lanba said.
The Indian Navy currently operates five different classes of submarines.
In March 2016, the Indian Navy had signed a ₹2,000 crore contract with the U.K.-based James Fisher Defence (JFD) for two submarine rescue systems as well as maintenance for 25 years. Admiral Lanba said the second system would be inducted in April and would be based at the Eastern Naval Command in Vishakapatnam.
The Indian Navy has also signed a ₹9,000 crore contract with the Hindustan Shipyard Limited for two ships, which would serve as the dedicated mother ships for the submarine rescue system, the first of which is expected to arrive by 2022. At present the system is housed on-board a ship which has been taken on lease from the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI).
5. ‘NSG must have its own air wing’
A Parliamentary panel has recommended that the Centre urgently take steps to ensure that the National Security Guard (NSG) — the country’s premier counter-terrorist and contingency force — is equipped with its own dedicated air wing.
The committee headed by Congress leader P. Chidambaram observed with anguish that the two Mi-17 helicopters procured by the NSG in 1988-99, were grounded and unavailable. While one of the helicopters met with an accident on February 22, 2002, and got damaged extensively; the second one was unserviceable due to want of spare parts.
The 215th Parliamentary Standing Committee Report on Home Affairs tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday recommended that the “Ministry of Home Affairs should make urgent and sincere efforts to commission a dedicated Air Wing of NSG and provide requisite types and number of air assets to strengthen the aviation capability of the force.” The NSG’s delay in reaching Mumbai during the November 2008 terrorist attacks on the city had come under severe criticism, with the non-availability of dedicated aircraft hampering the force’s rapid reaction capabilities.
The NSG was raised in 1986 following the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Operation Blue Star. The force, which is trained to operate as an elite urban anti-terrorist and anti-hijack force, doesn’t have a cadre of its own or direct recruitment and is instead dependent on personnel sent on deputation from the army and the central armed police forces.
6. End IPS hegemony in CAPF: panel
A parliamentary panel has recommended that the post of Director-General and other senior positions in Central Armed Police Forces should not be reserved for Indian Police Service officers. The panel has suggested that the nature of duty of CAPF are more similar to that of the Armed Forces and it would make more sense to bring more officers from the Armed Forces on deputation.
Currently, the DG rank in CAPFs is “100% reserved for IPS officers.”
7. West Bengal Deputy Speaker passes away
West Bengal Deputy Speaker Haider Aziz Safwi passed away at a city hospital on Wednesday. He was 73. A former IPS officer, he represented the Uluberia (East) Assembly constituency in Howrah district on Trinamool Congress ticket in 2011 and 2016. From 2011-2016, he held portfolios like Correctional Administration and Inland Waterways.
8. Getting citizenship could become easier for some
Why the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is so deeply contested
What is the proposal?
The winter session of Parliament may see the government push for the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill of 2016. The proposed law, which amends the original Citizenship Act of 1955, mandates that Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan will not be treated as illegal immigrants despite having entered India without valid documents. They will not face deportation as illegal immigrants under the Passport (Entry into India) Act of 1920 and the Foreigners Act of 1946. Illegal immigrants from these six communities from these countries are assured a smooth sail to citizenship over Muslims.
Why did the Act come into existence?
The Bill, which was introduced in Parliament on July 15, 2016, explains that many persons of Indian origin including persons belonging to the six “minority communities” from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh have been unsuccessfully applying for citizenship under the Citizenship Act of 1955 but are unable to produce proof of their Indian origin. Hence, they are forced to apply for citizenship by naturalisation which prescribes 12 years’ residency as qualification.
The Bill states that such a long-drawn process denies illegal immigrants from these six minority communities of the three nations “many opportunities and advantages that may accrue only to the citizens of India, even though they are likely to stay in India permanently”. The amendment shortens the period of residency from 12 to seven years for gaining citizenship by naturalisation. The Bill also empowers the government to cancel registration as OCI in case of any violation of the Citizenship Act or any other laws. Recently, the government has made its resolve clear to go ahead with the amendments by notifying amendments in the Citizenship Rules of 2009 to include a separate column notifying changes in the citizenship form for applicants belonging to six communities from these three nations.
9. Cultural determinism
This refers to the belief that the cultural environment is the primary determinant of the behaviour of individuals in any society. According to the proponents of this theory, differences in human behaviour can be explained simply by the differences in the cultural upbringing of people and not due to any innate differences in their biological nature. Cultural determinists view many social phenomena as artificial constructs of society rather than as the natural outgrowth of innate human nature. This is in contrast to the theory of genetic determinism which states that genes determine human behaviour to a significant level and thus also influence culture.
10. BJD opposes dam safety Bill in Lok Sabha
The government on Wednesday introduced the Dam Safety Bill, 2018 in the Lok Sabha which will enable the States and Union Territories to adopt uniform procedures to ensure safety of reservoirs.
The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) opposed the Bill, with party MP Bhratruhari Mahtab stating that the “subject comes under the purview of State governments” and not in the purview of the Lok Sabha or Parliament.
The Bill provides for surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance to prevent disasters related to dams.
Introducing the Bill on behalf of Road and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Water Resources and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal countered Mr. Mahtab’s position saying that the Central government had the legislative competency to introduce the Bill.
11. Britain backtracks on plan to suspend ‘golden visa’ scheme
Anti-corruption campaigners have condemned the British Home Office’s decision to backtrack on plans to suspend a “golden visa” scheme for wealthy investors, just days after announcing the suspension.
Last week, the Home Office had said it was planning to suspend the Tier-1 (investor) visa scheme that enables its holders to gain a swifter route to settlement in the U.K. until new safeguarding rules were brought in in 2019.
While mainly used by Russian and Chinese nationals, it is also popular with Indian nationals: 82 applied for an investor visa through this route between 2008 and March 2018, reported Transparency International.
However, the formal announcement to Parliament never materialised, with no mention of the scheme or changes to it in an update from the Home Office.
12. Canada court grants bail to Huawei executive
A Canadian court has granted bail to Huawei’s chief financial officer, who is wanted in the U.S., as diplomatic tensions turned to the detention of a former Canadian diplomat in Beijing. Meng Wanzhou was released on Can$10 million ($7.5 million) bail on Tuesday.
13. ITTF award for Manika
India’s star paddler Manika Batra was bestowed with the International Table Tennis Federation’s Breakthrough Star Award 2018 during a ceremony on Wednesday.
At this year’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Manika won four medals including a historic women’s singles gold, team gold, women’s doubles silver (with Mouma Das) and mixed doubles bronze (with G. Sathiyan).
She had also bagged the bronze in mixed doubles (with A. Sharath Kamal) at the 2018 Asian Games.
14. Japan picks ‘disaster’ as symbol for 2018
Japan on Wednesday selected the Chinese character for ‘disaster’ as its ‘defining symbol’ for 2018, a year that saw the country hit by deadly floods, earthquakes and storms.
Japanese TV stations broadcast the annual announcement live, with Seihan Mori, master of the ancient Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto, writing the character on a huge white panel with an ink-soaked calligraphy brush.
At the end of every year, the general public votes for the Chinese character they think embodies the key news and events of the previous 12 months.
A total of 20,858 people out of 1,93,214 chose the character ‘disaster’.
The country was hit by a series of natural disasters in 2018, starting with massive flooding in western regions that killed over 200 people.
It was also battered by a typhoon that inundated a major international airport, and an earthquake in the north that triggered landslides and disrupted supply lines. An unprecedented heatwave also struck the country over the summer, causing more than 150 deaths, with over 80,000 people hospitalised.
15. 102-year-old great-granny becomes ‘oldest’ skydiver
A 102-year-old great-grandmother is believed to have become the world’s oldest skydiver after plunging 14,000 feet through the South Australian sky. Centenarian adrenaline junkie Irene O’Shea said she “felt normal” after a 220 km per hour dive that sent her cheeks flapping wildly.
16. InSight lander takes its first selfie on Mars
NASA’s InSight spacecraft has used a camera on its robotic arm to take its first selfie — a mosaic made up of 11 images, the space agency said. This is the same imaging process used by Curiosity rover mission, in which many overlapping pictures are taken and later stitched together. Visible in the selfie are the lander’s solar panel and its entire deck, including its science instruments.
Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV)
Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)
National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)
18. Things to Remember:
Road and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari
19. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning – Think about (something) carefully, especially before making a decision or reaching a conclusion.
Example – ‘I pondered the question of what clothes to wear for the occasion’
Synonyms – think about, give thought to, consider, review, reflect on, mull over, contemplate, study, meditate on, muse on, deliberate about, cogitate on, dwell on, brood on, brood over, ruminate about, ruminate on, chew over, puzzle over, speculate about, weigh up, turn over in one’s mind