Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (December 5, 2018)
1. Extension of NRC deadline sought
More than 40 organisations of southern Assam’s Barak Valley have demanded an extension of the ongoing claims submission phase of the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) in view of the panchayat elections.
Less than 20% of the 40.70 lakh people excluded from the complete draft NRC have filed claims since the window opened on September 25.
The panchayat polls for the three districts of Barak Valley — Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj — are scheduled for December 9. The first phase of polling is on Wednesday.
2. Odisha CM writes to Modi on women’s Bill
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to initiate necessary steps for passing the Bill for reservation of one-third seats in Parliament and State Legislatures for women. “I assure full support of my government in providing women their rightful place in the decision-making process,” he said.
Pointing out that the principle of gender equality is enshrined in the Constitution, Mr. Patnaik said: “The country will move forward with much greater momentum only if the other half of our population, our mothers, sisters and daughters have a role in the highest decision-making bodies”.
“Mahatma Gandhi always spoke of gender equality and empowerment of women in society. Taking a historic decision to empower women in our country would be the finest tribute to the Father of the Nation on his 150th birth anniversary,” Mr. Patnaik wrote.
He informed Mr. Modi that the Odisha Assembly had adopted a resolution to provide reservation of one-third seats for women in Parliament as well as State Legislatures.
3. Haryana to set up courts for SC/ST Act cases
The Haryana government will set up special courts to deal with cases registered under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act to prevent and curb atrocities on Dalits. It was decided in a meeting of the State-level vigilance and monitoring panel here on Tuesday that was presided by CM Manohar Lal Khattar.
4. Disabilities Act: States going slow on roll-out, says study
A study conducted by the Disability Rights India Foundation (DRIF) on the implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act, across 24 States, has revealed that more than half have not notified the State rules, despite a significant lapse of time.
Ten States, including Bihar, Manipur, Meghalaya, Odisha, Telengana, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, have notified the State rules, the survey said.
The study, conducted in collaboration with the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) and National Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (NCRPD), said the Act, passed in December 2016, should have been notified by all States within six months.
The study, which concentrated on the States’ administrative machinery with respect to the Act, found that nearly 80% of the States had not constituted the funds for implementation of the RPWD Act. Among the five States to have constituted the funds, Tamil Nadu has allocated ₹10 crore, while Himachal Pradesh has allocated ₹5 crore. “Only Tamil Nadu has taken some action with regard to providing an increased quantum of assistance for people with disabilities in social security schemes,” the report said.
Though 62% of the States have appointed Commissioners for Persons with Disabilities, “the progress has not been substantial. Only three States have constituted Advisory Committees, comprising of experts, to assist the State Commissioners” the study noted.
Out of the 24 States and Union Territories that responded to the study, Madhya Pradesh was ranked the highest, followed by Odisha, Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands along with Jammu and Kashmir ranked the lowest. The national capital was ranked number 12.
While 58% of the States have not notified Special Courts in the districts for trying offences under the Act, 87% have not appointed a Special Public Prosecutors as mandated by the law, the study said.
5. Winter to be warmer than normal: IMD
Winter is likely to be warmer than average, with fewer ‘cold wave’ days between December and February, according to a forecast by the India Meteorological Department.
The forecast suggests that ‘above normal’ seasonal minimum temperatures (>0.5° C) are most likely over most of the subdivisions of the country. However Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Chhattisgarh in central India, would most likely see ‘normal’ (between 0.5°C and -0.5°C) seasonal minimum temperatures prevailing.
“There will be fewer days of cold wave conditions,” said K.J. Ramesh, Director-General, IMD.
However, winter in general would be colder than last year, said Mr. Ramesh.
6. Six more berths reserved for women in AC 3-tier
The Railways have decided to reserve for women six additional berths in AC 3-tier coaches of Rajdhani, Duronto and all fully air-conditioned trains. “Six berths in 3AC class of Rajdhani/Duranto/fully Air Conditioned trains (having 3AC class) should be earmarked for female passengers, irrespective of their age, travelling alone or in a group of female passengers,” read a Railway Board circular.
7. Shift to low carbon
Both rich and poor countries have faced extensive damage from storms and heatwaves this year. As climate representatives meet in Poland for the Conference of the Parties 24, the crucial question is whether carbon emissions will be reined in to avert further damage due to climate change.
In India, rains, floods and landslides in Kerala have killed 373 people since May 30. Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Assam were battered by floods this year, as was Chennai in 2015. Meanwhile, Delhi, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana, among other States, experienced heatwaves.
Greenhouse gas emissions, of which carbon dioxide is the biggest component, make the earth warmer and lead to more heatwaves. A study in the journal Scientific Reports found that the decadal mean of daily maximum temperature for April and May in the 2010s is 40-42°C over large parts of India. Warmer air holds more moisture, which results in more intense rainfall and provides more energy for storms. Climate scientists attribute the rising trends in flooding and heatwaves to human-induced climate change.
In the absence of a shift to a low carbon economy worldwide, the average temperature could rise by more than 2°C by the end of this century. Hotter, longer summers and excessive rainfall in some areas and droughts in others will damage crops. Warm coastal waters will turn unsuitable for certain species of fish.
Adapting to a changing climate is one part of the agenda. Japan has invested a lot of money on coastal defences. It has built the world’s largest underground flood water diversion facility. But with a coastline of about 7,500 km, most of which is low-lying, India cannot make such colossal investments. Better early warnings and timely evacuations have had huge pay-offs, the most striking example being the massive relocation of people from the coasts of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha before Cyclone Phailin struck those areas.
8. Sure thing principle
This refers to a logical principle which states that it is unnecessary to consider uncertainties while making a decision if these uncertainties will not affect the eventual decision taken by a person in any way. If an investor, for instance, will buy a stock regardless of the earnings of a company, it makes no sense to worry about whether it will report a profit or a loss. It is used to emphasise the point that it may be a waste of effort to consider the probability of various uncertain events if these events are effectively irrelevant to the final decision. The principle was proposed by American statistician Leonard Jimmie Savage in his 1954 book The Foundations of Statistics.
9. GSAT-11, India’s heaviest satellite
GSAT-11 is slated for launch on December 5 from Kourou in French Guiana, onboard European launch vehicle Ariane 5 ECA.
GSAT-11 is part of ISRO’s new family of high-throughput communication satellite fleet that will drive the country’s Internet broadband from space to untouched areas.
10. Accounting methods of climate fund questioned
The Finance Ministry has issued a ‘discussion paper’ that has criticised the accounting methods used by developed countries to report how much money they have given, so far, to developing countries to address climate change.
Accounting procedures, regarding the flow of climate finance, is one of the most controversial issues being debated at Katowice, Poland where countries have gathered to agree upon a ‘Rule Book’ to implement the Paris Agreement of 2015, that commits countries to ensure the earth doesn’t warm 2C beyond pre-industrial levels.
In 2019, developed countries are expected to make available $100 billion annually to developing countries, according to a 2010 agreement in Cancun.
In 2016, developed countries published a road map to $100 billion, which claimed that public climate finance levels had reached $41 billion per year in 2013-14. In 2015, India had disputed this figure arguing it was only $ 2.2 billion. “The 2017 numbers also tell a similar story. Only around 12% of total pledges to climate funds have actually materialised into disbursements,” the Ministry paper notes.
11. India’s Bhutan hydel project ready
India is expected to commission a major hydropower project in Bhutan in the coming weeks, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said on Tuesday.
Delivering a speech on India-Bhutan relations, the top diplomat said cooperation in the hydropower sector was a sign of strength of the time-tested ties between the two countries.
“This year we hope to commission the flagship 750 megawatt Mangdechhu hydropower project, hopefully this month itself, and we are also working on a number of ongoing and planned projects that will ensure our relationship in this sector continues in the future,” said the Foreign Secretary assuring Bhutan of India’s commitment to work with the Himalayan country.
The Mangdechhu project was bagged by the Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL) and it will be implemented on a bilateral basis. The Foreign Secretary said India-Bhutan ties had adapted to the changing times. Bhutan’s latest democratic election had firmed up its position as a leading democracy in the region, he said.
Commissioning of the project will mark a highpoint in bilateral ties in the coming months.
The official said India and Bhutan were now interacting at the level of parliamentarians and civil society participants, while also maintaining close dialogue at the official levels.
12. U.K. govt. loses contempt vote
In a major climbdown for Theresa May and victory for Opposition parties, the British government is set to publish the full and final legal advice given to it on the withdrawal deal after a cross-party coalition of MPs won a motion finding the government in contempt of Parliament.
Following a lengthy debate on Tuesday afternoon, during which the government introduced an amendment attempting to thwart the contempt motion, MPs voted for a disclosure by 311 to 293 votes.
The Labour Party, the Greens, the Scottish National Party, the Plaid Cymru, and even some MPs from the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) came together in an extraordinary and unprecedented show of political unity. This was the first time that a British government was found in contempt of Parliament in such a way.
Earlier this week, the government had published a summary of the legal advice, ignoring a parliamentary vote that had required it to publish the advice in full. The motion was a “last resort”, after the government “wilfully” refused to comply with Parliament, said Labour’s spokesperson on Brexit issues Keir Starmer during the debate on Tuesday. “That is contempt of Parliament,” he said, adding that it had huge “constitutional and political significance”.
Following the vote, Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom said that the government would publish the advice because of the “expressed will” of the House. Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney-General had insisted that keeping government advice confidential was in the national interest.
The climbdown by the government highlights the breakdown of trust and of relations within the Conservative Party and between the government and the DUP, an ally, as well as the willingness of MPs from both parties to vote against it ahead of a crucial vote on December 11.
The content of the advice — set to be published on Wednesday — could worsen things further for the government should off-the-record briefings provided to sections of the British press over the weekend prove to be true. The Sunday Times had quoted Cabinet sources as saying that the legal advice includes a warning that Britain could be “indefinitely” stuck in an EU customs union if the backstop arrangements to prevent a hard border in Northern Ireland kicks in. This would confirm the worst fears of opponents — including ‘hard Brexiteers’, who are adamant that Britain must be able to take back control unilaterally and from the outset.
13. Britain can unilaterally stop Brexit: EU adviser
In a boost for those campaigning for Britain to either remain in the European Union (EU) or hold a second referendum, a top EU legal adviser confirmed that Britain could withdraw its notice to leave the EU unilaterally, without getting the support of other member nations.
In an opinion statement to judges at the European Court of Justice (ECJ), published on Tuesday, Advocate-General Campos Sánchez-Bordona pointed to a “third way” that was now open to the U.K., which is facing the real prospect of a no-deal Brexit amid massive parliamentary opposition to the agreement reached between the British government and the EU-27 group of nations in November.
This third way involved Britain “remaining in the EU in the face of an unsatisfactory Brexit”, he wrote in the opinion. While it is a non-binding ruling, the opinion of Advocate-Generals are mostly followed by judges at the ECJ. The opinion comes ahead of a ruling in a case brought by petitioners — led by Scottish Members of the European Parliament — who had sought a ruling on Britain’s ability to extract itself from the Article 50 process, by which Britain triggered Brexit over 18 months ago.
“The opinion puts the decision about our future back in the hands of our own elected representatives where it belongs,” said Jo Maugham QC, one of the petitioners and a prominent anti-Brexit campaigner.
14. Courage was his middle name
It was a decision left to Gautam Gambhir. When and how to bow out of cricket? He chose to leave on his terms, just as he played the game, making his decisions, good or bad. The Delhi-Andhra Ranji Trophy match will mark the conclusion of a glorious chapter in Indian cricket when the dashing opener plays his final First-Class innings.
“The most difficult decisions are often taken with the heaviest of hearts. And with one heavy heart, I’ve decided to make an announcement that I’ve dreaded all my life,” Gambhir said of his retirement from all forms of the game.
At 37, Gambhir was obviously left with little motivation to carry on.
He had lost his place in the Indian team, having last played a Test in 2016, and ODI in 2013, but he had plenty to contribute to his state, particularly after Delhi had lost the services of Virender Sehwag and Ashish Nehra. Gambhir was one of his kind. He did not mind a confrontation in the middle.
The left-hander played two huge knocks — in the 2007 World T20 final and the 2011 World Cup.
His marathon innings of 136 against New Zealand at Napier in 2009, which lasted nearly 13 hours, was an effort that will be remembered forever.
15. Peers wax lyrical about VVS
V.V.S. Laxman would win the ‘most lovable player in Indian cricket’ award by miles.
Going by the warmth that the event — promotion of his book 281 And Beyond — generated here on Tuesday, it was clear that his fan club had its roots in the dressing room itself.
Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra, Murali Kartik and Gautam Gambhir were among those who raved about their former teammate, not just for his cricket, but for his unassuming nature in the most distressing times for Indian cricket.
The autobiography, co-authored by noted cricket writer R. Kaushik, documents Laxman’s journey from the time he knew it was a hard task. “To play for the country within five years or else return to become a doctor (like his parents),” as Laxman recalled.
The event was laced with some hilarious little-known anecdotes, like the time he had to take a taxi to the ground in Johannesburg.
16. It’s now Delhi Capitals!
Delhi Daredevils will now play as Delhi Capitals, with a new logo and team colours, in the next edition of the Indian Premier League. The new identity of the Delhi franchise was unveiled here on Tuesday.
The support staff of Delhi Capitals, to be led by Shreyas Iyer, would comprise of Ricky Ponting (head coach), Mohammad Kaif (assistant coach), James Hopes (bowling coach). Pravin Amre would be in-charge of talent scouting.
17. SpaceX launches 64 satellites at one go
SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket on Monday, sending an unusual payload into space — 64 satellites at the same time, a U.S. record. The company marked another milestone in its bid to make rockets more re-usable, like aereplanes: the blast-off used a recycled booster. A sculpture called Orbital Reflector by artist Trevor Paglen was also sent up.
18. 900-year-old gold coins found in Israel
Rare gold coins and a golden earring have been discovered in the ancient Mediterranean port of Caesarea in northern Israel — possibly left and never recovered as Crusaders conquered the area in 1101 A.D. The Israel Antiquities Authority announced the find on Monday of a bronze pot holding 24 gold coins and the earring.
National Register of Citizens (NRC)
India Meteorological Department (IMD)
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
20. Things to Remember:
U.S. Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis
Defence Minister of India Nirmala Sitharaman
J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik
21. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning – A commotion; a fuss.
Example – ‘remember all the hullabaloo over the golf ball?’
Synonyms – fuss, commotion, uproar, hubbub, outcry, furore, ruckus, ado, palaver, brouhaha, hue and cry