Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (December 3, 2018)
1. U.S., China decide to hold off fresh tariffs for 90 days
China and the United States agreed to halt additional tariffs in a deal that keeps their trade war from escalating as the two sides try again to bridge their differences with fresh talks aimed at reaching an agreement within 90 days.
The White House said on Saturday that President Donald Trump told Chinese President Xi Jinping during high-stakes talks in Argentina that he would not boost tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25% on January 1 as previously announced.
Beijing for its part agreed to buy an unspecified but “very substantial” amount of agricultural, energy, industrial and other products from the U.S., the White House said in a statement.
Mr. Trump had imposed 10% on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods in September. China responded with its own tariffs.
2. New CEC Arora seeks support for ‘fair’ polls
Sunil Arora, 62, a retired 1980-batch IAS officer of the Rajasthan cadre, took over as Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) on Sunday.
Mr. Arora sought the cooperation of political parties and people to make elections “totally free, fair and ethical.”
He succeeded O.P. Rawat who demitted office on Saturday.
The Lok Sabha election, which is due next year, will be conducted by the Election Commission under Mr. Arora.
He will also hold elections to the Assemblies of Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand, Delhi, Bihar and Jammu & Kashmir.
He will be in office till April 12, 2021.
Mr. Arora retired in April 2016 as Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. During his 36 years of service, he held various crucial positions in Rajasthan and at the Centre.
Mr. Sunil Arora assumed charge as the 23rd Chief Election Commissioner (CEC).
3. Over 60,000 visitors at Hornbill fest
More than 60,000 people have visited the Hornbill Festival of Nagaland at Naga Heritage Village Kisama near here since its inauguration on Saturday, a State tourism official said Sunday. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the 10-day-long annual festival on Saturday.
Altogether 63,032 visitors with 780 foreignershave visited the picturesque venue, said assistant director of Tourism department (Statistics) T. Khakihe Sumi. The inaugural day had 19,953 visitors while Sunday it rose up to 43,079, he informed.
The visitors were treated with cultural performances from across the country including Odisha, Assam, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya and Jammu and Kashmir.
4. 34 years after Bhopal leak, survivors continue fight
Thirty-four years after the gas tragedy, survivors continue to demand proper rehabilitation, adequate compensation and proper medical treatment for ailments caused by the toxic leak.
In what is termed as the world’s worst industrial disaster, over 15,000 people were killed after methyl isocyanate leaked on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984, from the pesticide plant of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) in the city.
More than 5 lakh people were affected due to the toxic leak.
Various organisations fighting for gas leak survivors have been seeking proper medical care, adequate compensation, and cleaning of the groundwater and soil.
5. Job creation at the farmer’s doorstep
The Telangana government’s recent announcement of the Rythu Bandhu scheme has spotlighted the policy of utilising cash transfer to assist land-owning farmers with a non-agricultural income — instead of the traditional policy measures of price interventions, trade restrictions and farm loan waivers. While the scheme is nominally intended as investment support for inputs such as seeds and pesticides, it implies a transfer of ₹8,000 per acre for every landowning farmer over two crop seasons.
As Credit Suisse notes, the scheme has an inbuilt bias for large farmers, allowing 9% of farmers with more than five acres to earn 34% of the total payout. My travels across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, among other States, over the last few years, have shown how difficult it is for marginal farmers to eke out a living from just agricultural income.
Rural India’s economic situation continues to worsen. A recent survey by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (All India Rural Financial Inclusion Survey) shows that the average monthly income of rural households is ₹8,059, with agricultural households deriving only 43% of their income from agriculture; most of it is from providing daily wage labour and government jobs. While agricultural households typically had a higher income than non-agricultural households, they had higher debt on average (₹1,04,602 and ₹76,731, respectively). This is also reflected in the decoupling of urban Indian incomes from rural India with per capita income in rural India lagging a fair bit. The government has sought to double farmer income by raising minimum support prices, but such initiatives would apply directly only to 48% of rural India, with non-agricultural households being left behind. Perhaps we need to look at alternative sources of income.
6. Animistic bias
Also known as the animistic fallacy, this refers to a cognitive bias that causes people to believe that even naturally occurring phenomena are the result of a conscious force. Psychologists believe that the animistic bias is what causes many people across different cultures to believe that the universe must be the creation of a supernatural god. Some have even argued that evolutionary pressures may have shaped the human brain in such a way that it attaches conscious intentions to many things that simply occur in nature. While this causes unnecessary paranoia, it may have also increased the chances of survival of human ancestors.
7. India to host G20 summit in 2022
For the first time, India will host the annual G20 summit in 2022, when the country celebrates its 75th anniversary of Indepen- dence.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement at the closing ceremony of the 13th G20 summit here in the Argentinian capital on Saturday.
He thanked Italy for allowing India to play the host. Italy was to host the summit in 2022.
8. DRDO invites applications from military officers
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has invited applications from serving officers of the three services already working with it for permanent absorption as civilian officials into its Defence Research and Development Cadre (DRDS).
In a letter dated November 28, the DRDO said, “…service officers in DRDO as well as Permanently Seconded (PS) service officers are eligible for consideration for permanent absorption in civilian capacity in DRDS cadre of DRDO. The officers after absorption in DRDS, will be governed by the DRDS rules as amended from time to time and other rules as applicable to defence civilian employees of the government.” The deadline for submitting applications is December 20, after which a committee would shortlist eligible officers based on their research experience to the equivalent ranks and research aptitude, among other criteria. There are two ways serving officers are sent to the DRDO — on a fixed tenure, after which they go back to their service, or as PS officers where officers are permanently deputed to DRDO.
The broad eligibility criteria are: service officers on tenure should not be above the age of 50 years as on December 20, 2018, while there is no such stipulation for PS officers.
Another important criterion is that “officers should not have been fully superseded in their parent organisations.”
Once absorbed, the officers will be treated as civilian scientists for pay and promotion, the official added.
9. India, U.S. Air Forces to begin joint drill today
The Air Forces of India and the U.S. will begin a 12-day military exercise in the Kalaikunda and Panagarh air bases in West Bengal on Monday with an aim to enhance operational coordination, officials said.
The ‘Ex Cope India-18’ will be the fourth edition in the series of bilateral drills between the Indian Air Force and the U.S. Air Force. This is for the first time, the exercise is being held at two Air Force bases, the officials said.
“The aim of the exercise is to provide operational exposure and undertake mutual exchange of best practices towards enhancing operational capability,” the IAF said in a statement.
The U.S. has sent a fleet of F15 C/D and C-130 military aircraft. The IAF is participating with the Su-30 MKI, Jaguar, Mirage 2000, C-130J and AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft.
10. Swaraj to co-chair India-UAE panel meet
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will co-chair the 12th session of the India-UAE Joint Commission meeting for Economic and Technical Cooperation with her counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi during her official visit to the Gulf country on December 3 and 4. Indiam Ambassador Navdeep Singh Suri said the Minister’s visit was a major opportunity to continue dialogue at the highest levels.
11. Modi receives jersey from FIFA president
Prime Minister Narendra Modi met FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who gifted him a football jersey with his name on its back. Mr. Modi, who met Infantino on the sidelines of the G20 Summit here on Saturday, shared a picture of the blue jersey, with his name on the back, on Twitter.
12. ‘AMLO’ assumes Mexican presidency
Andrés Manuel López Obrador vowed a “deep and radical” change in Mexico as he assumed the country’s presidency on Saturday, five months after winning a landslide election victory.
The leader, widely known by his initials as “AMLO”, took the oath of office and donned the presidential sash before Congress — where the coalition led by the upstart party he founded four years ago, Morena, now has strong majorities in both houses.
Ending 89 years of government by the same two parties, Mr. López Obrador surged to victory in the July 1 elections, promising a new approach to issues fuelling widespread outrage: crime, poverty and corruption.
13. WhatsApp seeks RBI nod to expand its payment services
The chief of WhatsApp has written to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), seeking a formal nod to expand payments services to all its 200 million users in India.
The messaging app, which has drawn fire from the government over the spread of fake messages on its platform, continues to wait for a regulatory clearance to launch full-fledged payments operations in India — months after its ‘testing’ amassed nearly one million users — and almost two years since it first began discussions with the government on its payments services plans.
The development comes at a time when competitors such as Google have forged ahead with their payments offerings.
14. Panel to look at selling OIL, ONGC fields
The government has constituted a six-member committee to look at selling as many as 149 small and marginal oil and gas fields of state-owned ONGC and Oil India to private and foreign companies to boost domestic output, sources said.
The panel is headed by NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar and includes Cabinet Secretary P. K. Sinha and Oil Secretary M. M. Kutty.
Sources said the committee is a follow-up of the October 12 meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review domestic production profile of oil and gas and the roadmap for cutting import dependence by 10% by 2022.
15. Leaning Tower of Pisa is losing its tilt, thanks to engineers
“It’s still straightening,” said engineer Roberto Cela, gazing at the Leaning Tower of gleaming in the autumn sunshine of northern Italy. “And many years will have to pass before it stops.”
The gravitationally-challenged landmark is leaning less after years of ambitious engineering work. Fortunately for the millions of tourists who come here every year, the 186-feet tower remains beautifully askance.
The medieval bell tower, a symbol of the power of the maritime republic of Pisa in the Middle Ages, has leaned to one side ever since building started in 1173 on ground that proved a little too soft.
The tower was closed to the public in January 1990 for 11 years over safety fears, as its tilt reached 15 feet from the vertical, threatening to turn it into a pile of rubble.
To understand how the 14,500-tonne building is moving, measurements are made as often as once an hour, some automatically using pendulums, some manually using a surveyor’s optical level.
“The tower tends to deform and reduce its lean in the summer, when it’s hot, because the tower leans to the south, so its southern side is warmed, and the stone expands. And by expanding, the tower straightens,” said Mr. Squeglia.
16. NASA rocket to observe earth’s leaky atmosphere
NASA is set to launch a rocket to get a closer look at how the earth’s atmosphere is leaking into space. Understanding atmospheric escape on earth has applications all over the Universe — from predicting which planets might be habitable, to piecing together how Mars became a desolate landscape.
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC)
Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL)
18. Things to Remember:
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) – Shri Sunil Arora
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj
FIFA president Gianni Infantino
French President Emmanuel Macron
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
19. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning 1 – Not being what it purports to be; false or fake.
Example – ‘separating authentic and spurious claims’
Synonyms – bogus, fake, not genuine, specious, false, factitious, counterfeit, fraudulent, trumped-up, sham, mock, feigned, pretended, contrived, fabricated, manufactured, fictitious, make-believe, invalid, fallacious, meretricious
Meaning 1.1 – (of a line of reasoning) apparently but not actually valid.
Example – ‘this spurious reasoning results in nonsense’