Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups – News Analysis from THE HINDU (January 30, 2019)
FOR YOUR DAILY DOSE OF CURRENT AFFAIRS FROM “THE HINDU”,
1. George Fernandes no more
George Fernandes, former Defence Minister and one of the
most prominent leaders of the socialist movement in the 1970s, died here on
Tuesday morning. He was 88. Mr. Fernandes had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s
and was bedridden over the past few years.
2. Yamuna cleaning: 3 States told to furnish ₹10 cr. each
Expressing dissatisfaction over the cleaning of the Yamuna,
the National Green Tribunal on Tuesday directed the State governments of Uttar
Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi to furnish a perform-ance guarantee of ₹10 crore
each within a month.
3. Army joins Meghalaya mine operations
The Indian Army has joined the multi-agency operations to
search for the remaining 13 miners trapped inside a 370-foot-deep coal mine in
Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district, officials said on Tuesday.
4. Punjab govt. approves Smart Village Campaign
The Punjab government on Tuesday approved the ‘Smart Village
Campaign’ for overall development of villages at a cost of ₹384.40 crore. The
decision was taken at a meeting of the State Cabinet here.
5. NASA solar probe begins second orbit of sun
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has begun its second orbit of the
sun and is on track for its closest approach to our star, the U.S. space agency
said. Just 161 days after its launch, the Parker probe completed its first
orbit of the sun on January 19. The spacecraft has now begun the second of 24
planned orbits, on track for its second perihelion, or closest approach to the
sun, on April 4. Parker Solar Probe entered full operational status on January
6. Rajasthan Zika strain is endemic to Asia, says new study
The Zika virus that infected 159 people in an outbreak in
Rajasthan last year, could have been circulating in India for several years and
is endemic to Asia, according to a new study published in the journal
Infection, Genetics and Evolution this week.
The study, led by authors from Pune’s National Institute of
Virology (NIV), an institute under the Indian Council of Medical Research
(ICMR), is the first to sequence full Zika virus genomes from India.
7. Decision put off on Institutes of Eminence
The University Grants Commission has deferred a decision on
which institutions should be granted the prestigious Institutes of Eminence tag
as an expert committee has recommended more names than the government scheme
“The expert committee recommended 30 names, 15 in each
category. But the government scheme said we had to select ten in each category
[of public and private institutions]
,” UGC member Sushma Yadav told The Hindu
after the Commission’s meeting on Tuesday.
“It is not just a question of naming institutions, but there
is also a ₹1,000 crore grant [for the public institutions]. So we decided to
refer back to the government, whether they want to expand the scheme,” she
said, adding that the committee had not put its list of names in any
preferential order or ranking.
The scheme is aimed at developing world-class institutions
which would put India on the global education map. Institutions were offered
greater autonomy and freedom to decide fees, course durations and structures.
The 10 selected public institutions would also receive a grant of ₹1000 crore,
while the 10 private institutions would not receive any financial assistance.
The empowered expert committee headed by former Chief
Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami had initially recommended 11 institutions
for the tag in July 2018. Of those, the Centre had actually bestowed the tag on
six institutions, three public — IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay and IISc Bangalore – and
three private — BITS Pilani, Manipal University, and the yet-to-open Jio
University. In December, the committee recommended 19 more names, taking the
total list to 30.
8. New TRAI order provides for greater choice and transparency on
pricing of channels
The tariff order on broadcasting and cable services issued
by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is set to become effective on
February 1, giving the consumer the option to pay only for those channels she
wants to watch. Under the scheme, there is also a maximum price for pay
channels declared by the broadcaster, which is reported to TRAI, bringing about
greater transparency. Each channel will be available on an a la carte basis.
The effect is that the consumer’s subscription cost on a base package of 100
standard definition television channels is fixed in the form of a network
capacity fee. And even within this group, there is freedom to choose channels,
with a provision for appropriate revision for any pay channels. This is a
welcome departure from a regime where combinations of free and pay channels
were decided by distributors and broadcasters as bouquets that did not reflect
actual demand for individual channels. Efforts to introduce a la carte choice
were thwarted by pricing individual channels almost as high as the bouquets
they were part of. Bouquets are enabled in the new scheme, but with the
stipulation that at least 85% of the total price of all channels that form part
of a bouquet be charged, removing the incentive to distort prices. Distributors
including cable and DTH platforms, and advertisers, should welcome the order,
which strengthens price discovery and eliminates inflated claims of the
9. Unfunded liabilities
This refers to any future debt obligation for which no
proper provision has been made in the present. A company that promises to pay
pension to its employees in the future, for instance, will generally have to
set aside sufficient funds in the present in order to be able to fund its
future obligation. While companies and governments are mandated by law to show
unfunded liabilities as a liability on their balance sheets, accounting tricks
may be used to hide the true size of such liability. It is believed that the
actual debt load of many governments in the developed world could be many times
higher if unfunded liabilities were properly taken into account.
10. Foreign policy engagements to keep PM busy in February
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Seoul in
February to receive an award from an NGO, a visit that is one of several
high-profile foreign policy engagements expected next month, before the country
heads for general elections.
A bilateral visit to Bhutan has also been discussed, but not
confirmed yet. Planning is also on for a visit by Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu to Delhi in the next few weeks, official and diplomatic
sources confirmed. Israel is scheduled to hold general elections on April 9.
Sources working on the Korean visit said its “exact contours
are still being worked out”, but the Prime Minister is expected to make a short
trip to South Korea towards the end of February. This will be his second visit
to Seoul after May 2015. The trip will also follow the bilateral visit by South
Korean President Moon Jae-In to India in July 2018. In October 2018, the Seoul
Peace Prize Cultural Foundation announced that it would award Mr. Modi with its
annual Peace Prize.
While the award ceremony is linked to the Prime Minister’s
visit for bilateral talks, officials said the Foundation was not linked to the
South Korean government.
11. Centre’s nod to ₹7,214 cr. disaster relief
The Home Ministry on Tuesday approved the release of ₹7,214
crore to six States and a Union Territory for damage caused by natural
calamities during the kharif season 2018-19.
A statement by the Ministry of Home Affairs said a
high-level committee, headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, sanctioned the
additional assistance of ₹7,214.03 crore from the National Disaster Relief
Among the sanctioned amount, ₹4,714.28 crore will be given
to Maharashtra (drought), ₹949.49 crore to Karnataka (drought), ₹900.4 crore to
Andhra Pradesh (drought), ₹317.44 crore to Himachal Pradesh (flood and
landslips), ₹191.73 crore to Uttar Pradesh (flood), ₹127.60 crore to Gujarat
(drought) and ₹13.09 crore to the Union Territory of Puducherry (cyclone).
Finance Minister Piyush Goel, Agriculture Minister Radha
Mohan Singh and senior officers were present in the meeting.
12. Jewellery gets a ‘council’
The Commerce Ministry on Tuesday announced the formation of
a Domestic Council for Gems & Jewellery to bring the industry’s domestic
business stakeholders under one umbrella so that they could evolve a unified
approach to promote growth in the sector.
“This Council will help in tapping new opportunities in the
already existing large domestic market,” Commerce & Industry Minister
Suresh Prabhu said.
13. Lokpal search panel holds first meeting
An eight-member search panel formed to select members of
anti-corruption ombudsman — Lokpal — held its first meeting on Tuesday, nearly
four months after it was set up by the Centre, officials said. The committee,
headed by former SC judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, discussed modalities related
to the appointments of the chief and members of Lokpal. The meeting comes days
after the Supreme Court set February-end deadline for the panel to send names.
14. U.S. imposes sanctions on Venezuelan oil firm
The Donald Trump administration on Monday imposed sweeping
sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil firm PDVSA, aimed at severely curbing
the OPEC member’s crude exports to the U.S. and at pressuring socialist
President Nicolás Maduro to step down. Russia, a close ally of Venezuela,
denounced the move as illegal interference in Venezuela’s affairs and said the
curbs meant Venezuela would probably have problems servicing its $3.15 billion
sovereign debt to Moscow.
Minutes before the sanctions announcement, Juan Guaidó, the
Opposition leader who proclaimed himself interim President last week with U.S.
backing, said Congress would name new boards of directors to the company and
its U.S. subsidiary, Citgo.
Mr. Guaidó, supported by the U.S. and most countries in the
Western Hemisphere, says Mr. Maduro stole his re-election and must resign to
allow new, fair polls.
Mr. Maduro, in a live national broadcast on Monday, accused
the U.S. of trying to steal U.S. refining arm Citgo Petroleum, the OPEC
member’s most important foreign asset, which also manages a chain of U.S. gas
stations. He said Venezuela would take legal actions in response.
In the first sign of serious retaliation, three sources with
knowledge of the decision said PDVSA had ordered customers with tankers waiting
to load Venezuelan crude bound for the U.S. to prepay for the cargoes.
15. Suman Kumari is Pakistan’s first Hindu woman judge
Suman Kumari has become the first Hindu woman to be
appointed as a civil judge in Pakistan. Ms. Kumari, who hails from
Qambar-Shahdadkot in Sindh province, will serve in her native district. She
passed her LLB examination from Hyderabad and did her Masters in Law from
Karachi’s Szabist University.
The country’s first judge from the Hindu community was
Justice Rana Bhagwandas, who served as the acting Chief Justice for brief
periods between 2005 and 2007. Last year, Mahesh Kumar Malani became the first
non-Muslim to be elected on a general seat in the National Assembly while a
Thari woman, Krishna Kumari, was elected in Pakistan’s Senate elections.
16. May seeks MPs’ mandate to reopen Brexit deal
British Prime Minister Theresa May urged MPs on Tuesday to
give her a mandate to renegotiate her Brexit deal with the European Union (EU),
despite Brussels insisting that it will not budge, just two months before
She asked the House of Commons for its support in seeking to
re-open the agreement she struck with EU leaders only last month, but which was
overwhelmingly rejected by MPs on January 15.
“The world knows what this house does not want. Today we
need to send an emphatic message about what we do want,” Ms. May told MPs ahead
of a series of votes on what next steps they want her to take.
She is supporting a proposal that seeks to remove a
controversial “backstop” clause on Northern Ireland from the divorce agreement.
17. Kramnik calls it quits
Russian chess grandmaster Vladimir Kramnik, regarded as one
of the strongest players in the world, announced on Tuesday he was retiring
from professional competition.
Kramnik, 43, made waves in 2000 when he defeated defending
champion Garry Kasparov at the World Championship. Currently ranked seventh by
the World Chess Federation, he became the undisputed World champion in 2006.
18. Success for golden langur breeding project in Assam
Assam Environment and Forest Minister Parimal Shuklabaidya
on Tuesday announced the success of the Golden Langur Conservation Breeding
Programme in the State.
The golden langur conservation project was undertaken at the
Assam State Zoo in Guwahati during the 2011-12 fiscal.
Funded by the Central Zoo Authority, an isolated and
undisturbed site within the zoo was chosen to provide a natural habitat for the
primates with a golden coat endemic to Assam.
In April 2018, the zoo authorities shifted a pair of golden
langurs — Bolin and Lovely — from the display enclosure to the isolated site.
Lovely gave birth to a female infant on December 26.
The golden langur (Trachypithecus geei) is currently
Apart from a 60 square mile area in north-western Assam,
small populations are found in Bhutan and Tripura.
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)
National Institute of Virology (NIV)
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)
21. Things to Remember:
British Prime Minister Theresa May
22. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning – Unnecessary, especially through being more than
Example – ‘the purchaser should avoid asking for superfluous
Synonyms – surplus, redundant, unneeded, not required,
excess, extra, spare, to spare, remaining, unused, left over, unnecessary,
needless, unneeded, inessential, pointless, redundant, uncalled for,
unwarranted, unjustified, gratuitous