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

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

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

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

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

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.

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