Current Affairs – December 20, 2018

/Current Affairs – December 20, 2018
Current Affairs – December 20, 2018 2018-12-20T16:42:26+00:00

Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups – News Analysis from THE HINDU (December 20, 2018)

1. 9% growth by 2022 must to generate jobs: NITI Aayog

A growth rate of 9% is essential to generate enough jobs and achieve universal prosperity, according to a vision document released by NITI Aayog on Wednesday.

Towards this, the ‘Strategy for New India @75’ document recommends a number of steps, including increasing the investment rate, reforming agriculture, and codifying labour laws.

2. Bill banning commercial surrogacy passed in LS

The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed a Bill banning commercial surrogacy with penal provisions of jail term of up to 10 years and fine of up to ₹10 lakh.

The Bill, which will become law once the Rajya Sabha approves it, allows only close Indian relatives to be surrogate mothers and purely for “altruistic” reasons. It states an Indian infertile couple, married for five years or more, can go in for ‘altruistic surrogacy’ where the surrogate mother will not be paid any compensation except medical expenses and insurance.

Opening the debate, Mr. Nadda said India had become a hub of commercial surrogacy and surrogate mothers were being exploited.

The Minister claimed that the Bill had the support of every section of society, besides political parties, the Supreme Court and the Law Commission.

3. National Security Act (NSA)

The National Security Act of 1980 is an act of the Indian Parliament promulgated on 23 September, 1980 whose purpose is “to provide for preventive detention in certain cases and for matters connected therewith”. The act extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It Contains 18 sections. Wikipedia

Enacted by: Parliament of India

Date assented to: 27 December 1980

Date commenced: 27 December 1980

Territorial extent: The whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir

4. President’s Rule in J&K from today

President’s Rule will come into force in Jammu and Kashmir from Thursday, after expiry of six months of Governor’s Rule, an official order said on Wednesday.

President Ram Nath Kovind signed the proclamation paving the way for imposition of Central rule in the State which was placed under Governor’s Rule on June 20 after the BJP withdrew support to the PDP government led by Mehbooba Mufti.

5. ISRO’s ‘angry bird’ takes to the skies

An anxious ISRO Chairman K. Sivan on Wednesday watched the flight path of the GSLV-F11 intently as it soared into the evening sky carrying communication satellite GSAT-7A, meant to enhance the communication infrastructure of the Indian Air Force.

Three key factors had weighed on the minds of the launch team at ISRO — the weight of the satellite, changes made to the cryogenic stage and the second stage of the vehicle to increase payload capacity, and the possibility of a cyclone looming on the coast that finally changed track gave anxious moments to the team.

In its Mk-II version, the GSLV with the indigenous cryogenic stage carried on board its heaviest satellite that weighed 2,250 kg, from the second launch pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR, here at 4.10 p.m.

“[In] the vehicle, the second stage propellant loading has been increased from 37.5 tonnes to 40 tonnes, and cryogenic stage propellant loading has been increased from 12 tonnes to 15 tonnes along with enhanced thrust value for the cryogenic stage,” Mr. Sivan said after the satellite was placed in a ‘super synchronous transfer orbit’, a little over 19 minutes after launch to enhance its life, pegged at eight years.

Though the Mission Control team remained tight-lipped about the purported use of the satellite, sources in ISRO and the Indian Air Force said the satellite would enhance the communication capabilities of IAF. “This is primarily for the Indian Air Force’s communication purposes, such as ground to air communication,” one of the sources told The Hindu. The satellite, being dubbed as ‘angry bird’ by some, is likely to enhance the range of communication and also aid in aircraft to aircraft communication.

“There is always further improvements in GSLV… in the coming GSLV F10s and F12 missions we are going to make bigger payload compartment to accommodate still bigger spacecraft and that is another important challenge in front of us and we are getting ready with that change as well to make sure that GSLV continues to remain very successful and rugged vehicle like PSLV,” said S. Somanath, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre.

6. Tejas fuel droptank put through test in Chennai

A team of scientists from the Fatigue and Fracture Laboratory and the Advanced Seismic Testing and Research Laboratory, CSIR-Structural Engineering Research Centre (SERC), Chennai, conducted a crucial qualification test of the fuel drop tank of the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).

The laboratory designed and developed the test in consultation with the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL).

The LCA has been developed, designed and sponsored by the ADA and produced by HAL.

P. Gandhi, Chief Scientist and Head of the Fatigue and Fracture Laboratory, said the droptanks are attached to the aircraft externally. In case of emergency, they can be de-linked and dropped, which gives them the name. The aircraft has other fuel tanks inside.

The 1,200 litre fuel drop tank of Tejas needed to be qualified for sloshing of fuel when it is two-thirds full and vibration during air turbulence as a mandatory requirement.

The test was carried out according to ‘U.S. Military Standard’ specifications and to prove that manoeuvring during flight would not be affected due to the sloshing around of fuel and additional vibration.

7. Satellite gives IAF a shot in the arm

Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa said on Wednesday that the launch of satellite GSAT-7A would enhance the networking and communication capabilities of the Air Force.

The satellite is expected to enable the force to interlink different ground radar stations, ground airbase and airborne early warning and control (AWACS) aircraft.

Mr. Dhanoa was at the Jodhpur airbase to interact with the contingents and officials of the Indian Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Forces, who are participating in the joint exercise, ‘Aviaindra 18’, which will end on December 21.

8. Lok Sabha has passed a new Bill to protect transgender persons, but concerns remain

The passage of a Bill in the Lok Sabha to secure the rights of transgender persons is a progressive step towards extending constitutional protection to this highly marginalised community. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2018, as passed, is an improved version of the legislation introduced two years ago. The earlier draft was widely perceived as falling short of the expectations of stakeholders and not adequately rights-based, as envisaged by the Supreme Court in its landmark decision on transgender rights in 2014. Experts, as well as the Standing Committee of Parliament on Social Justice and Empowerment, had criticised the original definition of ‘transgender persons’ for violating the right to self-determined identity. The revised definition omits the reference to a ‘neither male nor female’ formulation, and covers any person whose gender does not match the gender assigned at birth, as well as transmen, transwomen, those with intersex variations, the gender-queer, and those who designate themselves based on socio-cultural identities such as hijra, aravani, kinner and jogta. The requirement that a district screening committee must recommend the issue of a certificate to each transgender may be necessary to prevent misuse, but such a process goes against the principle of self-identification, a key right the Supreme Court had protected. The government has omitted the need to go through the same screening committee to get a revised certificate after a transgender has sex reassignment surgery, but the medical certification requirement remains. Transgender persons may question the need for such external gate-keeping.

There are other legitimate concerns in the revised Bill, which will now go to the Rajya Sabha. One refers to the bar on forcible separation of transgender persons from their families, except through court orders. It has been revised to cover transgender children. Earlier it covered adults as well, but the committee had noted that it was within the family that many transgender persons faced harassment and abuse, and often felt driven to flee their homes. Another concern is that the Bill criminalises begging by making it an offence for someone to compel or entice a transgender person into seeking alms. When begging itself is no more seen as an offence, it may harm the community if such a means of livelihood – in the absence of employment – is criminalised. The Bill, unfortunately, does not give effect to the far-reaching directive of the Supreme Court to grant backward class reservation to the transgender community. Nor have the Standing Committee’s concerns about recognising civil rights in marriage, divorce and adoption among them been addressed. There is much good intention behind the welfare provisions, but social legislation is much more than high-minded clauses. It needs to be followed up with zealous implementation and framing of deadlines to achieve specific objectives.

9. J-curve effect


This refers to a phenomenon wherein the trade balance of a country worsens following the depreciation of its currency before it improves. Generally, any depreciation in the value of a currency is expected to improve the economy’s overall trade balance by encouraging exports and discouraging imports. However, this may not happen immediately due to some other frictions within the economy. Many importers and exporters in the country, for instance, may be locked into binding agreements that could force them to buy or sell a certain number of goods despite the unfavourable exchange rate of the currency.

10. Senate passes criminal justice reform Bill

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform Bill that would roll back what are seen as excessively punitive criminal justice policies that have been in place since the crackdown on crime in the 1980s.

The Bill, which had wide bipartisan support (only 12 Republicans voted against it), makes it easier for federal offenders to earn early release from prison, lowering mandatory federal sentences, expanding job training and other interventions to reduce recidivism.

The Bill benefits federally convicted individuals, mostly serving drug offences. Major reforms include reducing the disparity in how crack cocaine and powder cocaine offences are treated by federal law — the differential treatment of the types of cocaine offences tends to be harsher on African-American users. Some 2,000 federal offenders are likely to be impacted by this.

Second, the ‘three strikes’ rule, which mandated a life sentence for three drug felonies, will carry a reduced 25-year sentence. Judges will also get more room to circumvent mandatory minimum sentences and places restrictions on the practice of ‘stacking’ — where an offender could get decades extra in jail for committing an offence while also carrying a firearm.

11. ‘India may need 2,300 planes’

Airlines in India will need 2,300 moreplanes, valued at $320 billion, until 2037, aerospace major Boeing said on Wednesday in its market outlook. Globally, the number needed in the next 20 years is projected at 42,370 planes worth $6.3 trillion. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for almost 40% of the worldwide estimates, and India for 5%.

Narrow body planes

As much as 84%, or 1,940 aircraft, of deliveries to India are likely to be of narrow body planes. Wide-body planes will account for 15% of total deliveries or 350 planes. Regional jets will account for the remaining 1% or 10 planes, Boeing said.

The commercial services market in India is valued higher than that of aircraft purchase and is projected to be worth $430 billion. These services primarily include ground handling, maintenance and engineering and cabin services.

Over the same period, India would continue to be the fastest-growing market at 7.8% growth rate with a huge appetite for air travel — while 0.1% of the Indian population took a flight in 2017, the same figure for U.S. was 3%.

12. Packaging of foodgrain in jute bags made mandatory

The Centre has mandated the packaging of 100% of foodgrain and 20% of sugar in jute bags for 2018-19 but has also left the window open for the dilution of the order. This includes a stipulation on placing 10% of the orders through reverse auction on the government e-marketplace.

The order follows the Jute Packaging Materials (Compulsory Use in Packing Commodities) Act (JPM), which was enacted in 1987 to protect the jute sector from the plastic packaging segment.

While West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh are the two largest jute goods producers, Punjab is the largest procuring State. It plans to initiate the procurement on a trial basis for 10% of the indents.

Gunny bags now account for about 63% of raw jute consumption, according to official statistics. The sector employs about 3.7 lakh mill workers directly besides supporting several lakh farmer families. Since 1987, the JPM Act has been mandating compulsory use of sacks in certain areas to bring buoyancy to the raw jute market.

13. Prabhu flags ‘angel tax’ to FinMin

The Commerce and Industry Ministry has taken up with the Finance Ministry the issue of ‘angel tax’ notices being sent to start-ups, Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu has said.

Several start-ups have raised concerns over taxation of angel funds under the Section 56 of the Income Tax Act, which provides for taxation of funds received by an entity.

14. e-library of rare books launched in Pune

The Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI), which houses one of South Asia’s largest and most invaluable agglomeration of rare manuscripts, opened its treasure vault digitally by launching an e-library of ancient religious and historical works on Wednesday.

Nearly 1,000 rare books and manuscripts in Sanskrit and its related languages are presently available for readers worldwide to savour in this first phase of digitisation.

The institute, named after legendary Indologist Ramkrishna Gopal Bhandarkar, was set up in 1917 and has in its possession nearly two-and-a-half-lakh rare books and manuscripts, some of them in an extremely brittle state. “The rationale behind the e-library is to preserve at least some of these books. Hence, we chose to digitise 20,000 among the rarest-of-the rare books and four to five thousand will be available for readers to read them online for free,” said noted Indologist Prof. Shrikant Bahulkar.

Three fully-automated Zeutschel high-resolution German scanners were specially procured by the institute at a cost of ₹15 lakh each.

15. Asma Jahangir honoured

Late Pakistan lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jahangir has been awarded the UN Human Rights Prize for 2018. Her daughter Munizae Jahangir received the prestigious award on behalf of her mother.

Jahangir was announced as one of the four winners of the quinquennial prize in October. Other winners included women’s rights activist in Tanzania, Rebeca Gyumi; activist for the rights of indigenous Brazilian communities Joenia Wapichana and Ireland’s human rights organisation Front Line Defenders.

16. Evidence of water found on 17 asteroids

Scientists have detected evidence of water on 17 asteroids for the first time using data from the infrared satellite AKARI. Researchers from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and University of Tokyo found that water is retained in asteroids as hydrated mine- rals, which were produced by chemical reactions of water and anhydrous rocks that occurred inside the asteroids.

17. Thrissur Pooram film in Oscar reminder list

The Sound Story, a film on sounds of Thrissur pooram by sound editor Resul Pookutty, has made it to the reminder list of productions eligible for the 91st Academy awards, according to a Facebook post by him. In all, 347 films are in the reminder list of the award. The Oscar-winning sound editor and his team recorded the sounds of the 36-hour festivities of the previous pooram.

18. Abbreviations:

National Security Act (NSA)

19. Things to Remember:

Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik

20. Improve your Vocabulary:


Meaning 1 – (of a natural force) sweep over (something) so as to surround or cover it completely.

Example – ‘the cafe was engulfed in flames’

Synonyms – inundate, flood, deluge, immerse, swamp, wash out, swallow up, submerge

Meaning 1.1 – Eat or swallow (something) whole.

Example – ‘the toad can engulf nestling birds’

Meaning 2 – Powerfully affect (someone); overwhelm.

Example – ‘a feeling of anguish so great that it threatened to engulf him’

Synonyms – inundate, flood, deluge, immerse, swamp, wash out, swallow up, submerge

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.