1. Kerala’s captive jumbos get genhetic IDs
DNA profiling may be a contentious issue among humans, but
for Kerala’s captive elephants, it’s a done deal. In a first for India, every
one of Kerala’s captive elephants now has a unique DNA-based genetic ID. M.
Radhakrishna Pillai, Director, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB),
which was given the task of DNA fingerprinting the elephants, handed over the
DNA database, prototypes of Unique Identification Cards, and a study report to
the Forest Department’s Chief Wildlife Warden P.C. Kesavan on Tuesday.
Captive elephants are those that have been captured from the
wild and used by humans. The Forest Department provided blood samples of
captive elephants from across the State to the RGCB for DNA fingerprinting. The
method is a forensic technique that makes it possible to identify individuals —
people or animals — based on unique DNA characteristics called micro-satellites
(DNA portions that occur repeatedly), much like fingerprints.
To conduct DNA fingerprinting, the RGCB’s teams at the
Regional Facility for DNA Fingerprinting (RFDF) in Thiruvananthapuram first
removed duplicate samples after cross-verification and then isolated DNA from
the samples. After tests, 11 micro-satellite markers (which help isolate
specific micro-satellites) and one sex marker (for gender ID) were selected,
said E.V. Soniya, head of the DNA Fingerprinting Unit at the RGCB. The database
covers all 519 captive elephants. “This database is now accessible to the
Forest Department,” she said. The RGCB also developed a protocol to DNA
fingerprint elephants using dung and tusk samples, which could help solve
wildlife crimes, including poaching and illegal trade.
2. Ansari back in India after six years
Hamid Nehal Ansari, an Indian national in the custody of
Pakistani authorities, was repatriated on Tuesday. He was united with his
family at the Wagah-Attari border crossing where his mother and peace activists
The return of Mr. Ansari, who had been missing in Pakistan
since 2012, took place after he completed a three-year prison term. He had
reportedly entered Pakistan through the Northwest of the country to meet a
woman he befriended on social media
3. Gujarat waives power tariff
A day after the new governments in Madhya Pradesh and
Chhattisgarh announced farm loan waivers, the Gujarat government on Tuesday
announced a ₹650-crore waiver of power tariff for 6.22 lakh households in rural
areas of the State. Power companies had snapped supply because of theft and
non-payment of dues.
4. NGT raps Ministry over groundwater notification
The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday rapped the Union
Water Resources Ministry over its notification pertaining to groundwater
A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel
came down heavily on the Ministry and said that the notification, issued on
December 12, was against “national interest”.
In the notification, the Ministry had said that industries
extracting groundwater and those that use the same for packaged drinking water,
would need to apply for a no-objection certificate from the government.
However, the agriculture sector will be exempt from the fees, the notification
The Ministry informed the Bench that a Water Conservation
Fee has also been introduced in the revised guidelines.
5. IAF shows its mastery in ‘airlift’
In an evaluation of the rapid airlift capability of the
Indian Air Force at times of war and natural disasters, the Western Air Command
(WAC) airlifted a record 463 tonnes of load from Chandigarh to airfields and
drop-zones in the Ladakh region in a single wave on Tuesday.
This was accomplished with a fleet of 16 fixed-wing
transport aircraft, including the heavy-lift C-17 Globemaster and Il-76 and the
medium-lift An-32. “All aircraft were loaded, and took off from the Chandigarh
airbase early in the morning. The entire wave was accomplished in little less
than six hours,” the IAF said in a statement.
The WAC is entrusted with the air maintenance of India’s
northern region, and under normal circumstances, it airlifts close to 3000
tonnes of load a month.
6. Centre drafts child protection policy
A code of conduct for employees of all organisations and a
declaration signed by them agreeing to ensure the safety of children are some
of the provisions included in the Centre’s draft national child protection
policy, prepared on the prodding of the Supreme Court in the wake of the
Muzaffarpur shelter abuse case.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development has placed the
draft policy on its website and invited comments from stakeholders until January
4. This will be the first policy dedicated to the protection of children, an
area that until now was only a part of the broader National Child Policy, 2013.
The Supreme Court had earlier directed the CBI to
investigate allegations involving 17 shelter homes for children, destitute
women, beggars and senior citizens in Bihar following the case of sexual abuse
of more than 30 girls in a shelter home in Muzaffarpur in the State. The
Supreme Court had also asked the Centre to consider framing a national policy
on protection of children.
As per the draft, the policy will apply to “all
institutions, and organisations (including corporate and media houses),
government or private sector”.
The draft policy recommends that all organisations must have
a code of conduct based on “zero tolerance of child abuse and exploitation”. It
requires organisations to lay down that employees don’t use language or
behaviour that is “inappropriate, harassing, abusive, sexually provocative,
demeaning or culturally inappropriate”.
Institutions should also designate a staff member to ensure
that procedures are in place to ensure the protection of children as well as to
report any abuse. Any individual who suspects physical, sexual or emotional
abuse must report it to the helpline number 1098, police or a child welfare
Unlike the National Child Policy, 2013, the latest document
doesn’t talk about children who may need special protection: including those
affected by migration, communal or sectarian violence, children forced into
begging or in conflict with the law, and those infected with HIV/AIDS. It also
doesn’t talk about the role of the State for ensuring the protection of child
rights or addressing local grievances.
7. Evening train after 137 years
The iconic Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) has a first
since its birth 137 years ago – an evening daily toy train service hauled by a
But the evening narrow-gauge train, introduced on Monday for
tourists, does not go the whole hog.
Instead of the 88 km between New Jalpaiguri at 113.8 metres
above mean sea level to Darjeeling at 2075.6 metres, the train will cover 18 km
between Siliguri Junction and Rongtong at the 427.9 metres.
“The train leaves Siliguri at 3 p.m. to reach Rongtong at
4.20 p.m. with a 10-minute stop at Sukna station. The train returns from
Rongtong after a 25-minute halt for refreshment and engine reversal,” Pranav
Jyoti Sharma, spokesperson of Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), said.
8. The Katowice consensus does not adequately reflect the challenge
to limit global warming
The UN Climate Conference held in Katowice, Poland, has
moved ahead with the implementation of the Paris Agreement through a rule book,
reflecting strong support among citizens of all countries for urgent action to
avert dangerous climate change. Public pressure has prevailed over scepticism,
although the outcome does not adequately reflect the short window available to
make deep greenhouse gas emissions cuts. Yet, the Paris Agreement, endorsed by
195 countries under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), has
a long road ahead before carbon emissions can be pegged at levels flagged by
scientists. Recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in
a special report, issued a stark warning on man-made emissions. It said that to
cap the rise in global average temperature over pre-industrial levels at 1.5°C,
a 45% reduction in emissions over 2010 levels must be made by 2030. This is a
challenge for all big economies, including India, which is among the top five
emitters of carbon dioxide. In the Indian context, it highlights the need for
action on several fronts: scaling up solar and wind power in line with the goal
of reaching 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, steadily reducing reliance on
coal, shifting substantially to electric mobility and adopting green industrial
processes. Taxing luxury emissions and using the dividend to give the poor
energy access has to be the policy target, building on international green
climate funding linkages.
At Katowice, Indian negotiators put forth legitimate
concerns on the likely social impact of the new rules that will operationalise
the Paris Agreement in 2020. After all, at an estimated 1.2 tonnes of CO2 per
capita, India emits far below the global average of 4.2 tonnes. Yet, cumulative
emissions determine the impact on climate, and India’s emissions grew at an
estimated 6.3% in 2018. The prospect of increased frequency and intensity of
extreme weather events and sea level rise in a warming world affecting small
island states allows little room for complacency. The task now is to achieve a
paradigm shift that will slow down the addition of new sources of carbon
emissions. As a party to the global climate compact, India has to
systematically assess its emissions and measure mitigation actions for
reporting to the UNFCCC at stock-taking meetings. This is an opportunity to
bring major sectors such as energy production, building, agriculture and
transport on board, and make changes to regulations that favour
environment-friendly alternatives. China has taken the lead in advancing
electric mobility, while individual States and cities are ahead of national
governments, as in the U.S., in reducing their carbon footprint. A clean-up in
India will help meet emissions commitments and remove the blanket of air
pollution that is suffocating entire cities.
9. Overperception bias
Also known as the sexual overperception bias, this refers to
the tendency among people to overestimate the level of sexual interest that
others have in them. It is believed that men are more likely to overestimate
the interest level of women. On the other hand, women are said to underestimate
men’s interest level. This is attributed to the fact that the evolutionary cost
of underestimation is relatively high for men when compared to women. The
overperception bias is considered to be a corollary of the sexual
underperception bias which refers to the tendency among people, mostly women,
to underestimate the interest level of people of the opposite sex.
10. ‘T.N. consent not needed for grant of ToR for new Mullaperiyar
The Centre has informed the Rajya Sabha that prior consent
from the Tamil Nadu government is “not required” for the collection of baseline
data for the preparation of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report
for the Kerala government’s proposal to build a new dam at Mullaperiyar.
In response to a query from DMK MP Kanimozhi in the Upper
House, Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change
Mahesh Sharma stated that the ministry had granted the Terms of Reference (ToR)
for the construction of a new Mullaperiyar dam on November 14, 2018.
The grant of ToR was as per the Environment Impact
Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006, and a subsequent amendment in 2009, along
with the conditions for preparation of the EIA/EMP report, he stated.
A condition had been stipulated in the ToR letter, he said.
It states: “As per the ruling of the Supreme Court, in its judgment dated May
7, 2014, liberty has been granted to the parties to apply to the court if they
are unable to arrive at some amicable solution regarding the new dam.
11. Vajpayee’s portrait to be unveiled in Parliament
A life-size portrait of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari
Vajpayee will be unveiled at the historic Central Hall of Parliament during the
ongoing winter session of Parliament.
Though an official date has not been announced, it could
take place on December 25, the former Prime Minister’s birth anniversary that
the Modi government celebrates as Good Governance Day.
The proposal to honour Vajpayee’s legacy was moved by Home
Minister Rajnath Singh in the presence of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and
senior BJP leader Satyanarayan Jatiya. The Portraits Committee of the Lok
Sabha, at a meeting chaired by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, unanimously agreed to
Leaders in the committee include Deputy Speaker M.
Thambidurai, Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge,
Trinamool Congress’s Sudeep Bandopadhya, Biju Janata Dal’s Bartuhari Mahtab,
Jitender Reddy of the TRS and Anant Geete of the Shiv Sena.
12. Interim CBI chief is Additional Director
M. Nageswara Rao, the interim Central Bureau of
Investigation Director, was on Tuesday made the Additional Director with the
approval of the Appointments Committee of Cabinet. According to an order issued
by the Department of Personnel and Training, the appointment has been made till
his approved tenure with the CBI or till further orders, whichever is earlier.
13. Rajapaksa named leader of Opposition
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was on Tuesday named the
Leader of Opposition in the Sri Lankan Parliament, but rival lawmakers
contested his eligibility to hold the position.
The Speaker has said that he would consider the objections
and give a ruling on Friday.
14. U.S. military to have a ‘Space Command’
U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered the creation
of “Space Command”, a new organisational structure within the Pentagon that
will have overall control of military space operations.
The command will be separate from Mr. Trump’s goal to build
an entirely new branch of the military called “Space Force,” which has not
received approval from Congress.
“I direct the establishment, consistent with United States
law, of United States Space Command as a functional Unified Combatant Command,”
Mr. Trump said in a memo to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.
Speaking at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida’s Cape
Canaveral, Vice-President Mike Pence said Space Command would integrate space
capabilities across all branches of the military.
15. Likhitha posts wins
Likhitha Kalava won both her singles and doubles first round
matches in the $15,000 ITF women’s tennis tournament in Djibouti. Likhitha beat
Suqing Peng of Singapore 7-5, 6-2 in singles. She and Emmanuelle Girard of
France made the doubles quarterfinals.
The results: $15,000 ITF men, Islamabad: Singles (first
round): Chandril Sood bt Vladimir Polyakov (Rus) 0-6, 6-2, 7-5; Hamidreza Nadaf
(Iri) bt Lakshit Sood 6-1, 6-2.
Doubles (pre-quarterfinals): Anton Chekhov (Rus) & Kai
Wehnelt (Ger) bt Chandril & Lakshit 6-2, 6-4.
$15,000 ITF men, Gabode, Djibouti: Singles (first round):
Likhitha Kalava bt Suqing Peng (Sgp) 7-5, 6-2.
Doubles (pre-quarterfinals): Emmanuelle Girard (Fra) &
Likhitha bt Sarah Pang (Sgp) & Dan Ni Wang (Chn) 6-4, 6-4.
16. Film on menstruation, set in rural India, joins Oscar race
Period. End of Sentence, a the short film about women in
India fighting against the deeply rooted stigma of menstruation, has made it to
the Oscar shortlist in the Documentary Short Subject category.
Directed by award-winning Iranian-American filmmaker Rayka
Zehtabchi, the film is created by The Pad Project, an organisation established
by an inspired group of students at the Oakwood School in Los Angeles and their
teacher, Melissa Berton.
The executive producer of the film is Guneet Monga.
The 26-minute film follows girls and women in Hapur in
northern India and their experience with the installation of a pad machine in
The film also delves upon Mr. Muruganantham’s invention of
an easy-to-operate machine that makes low-cost sanitary napkins using supplies
that are readily available in India.
Mr. Muruganantham, whose story inspired the Bollywood
feature film Pad Man, brings his machines to these small towns, helping train
women to operate them and in turn sell the supplies at very affordable prices
to other women in their area. The women retain the profits, effectively
creating a sustainable women-run micro-business that protects both their health
and their future.
India’s entry for the Foreign Language Film Category,
Village Rockstars is out of the Oscar race.
17. Most-distant solar system object observed
Scientists have discovered the most-distant body ever
observed in our solar system — located over 100 times farther than Earth is
from the Sun. The new object has been nicknamed “Farout”.
- NationalGreen Tribunal (NGT)
- NortheastFrontier Railway (NFR)
- NationalHuman Rights Commission (NHRC)
19. Things to Remember:
Pradesh CM – Kamal Nath
20. Improve your Vocabulary:
Prod (someone) gently with one’s elbow in order to attract attention
‘people were nudging each other and pointing at me’
poke, elbow, dig, prod, jog, jab, butt
– Touch or push (something) gently or gradually.
‘the canoe nudged a bank of reeds’
Synonyms -touch, bump, bump against, push, push against, run into