Current Affairs – November 16, 2018

/Current Affairs – November 16, 2018
Current Affairs – November 16, 2018 2018-11-16T18:46:10+00:00

Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (November 16, 2018)

 

1. SC pulls up States for not recruiting judges

The Supreme Court on Thursday pulled up various State governments and the administrative side of the High Courts for delay in filling vacancies in subordinate judicial services.

A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, had taken suo motu cognisance of more than 5,000 vacancies for subordinate judicial posts even as pendency touched crores.

The Bench found that the recruitment process was under way for only 100 vacancies in Delhi, which has over 200 vacancies.

In a five-page order earlier, the Supreme Court had recorded that there were a total of 22,036 posts in the district and subordinate judiciary, ranging from district judges to junior civil judges, across the States.

It said 5,133 out of the 22,036 posts were vacant.

 

2. U.K. faces a new crisis over Brexit

Hopes that Britain’s course to Brexit was finally on track were dashed on Thursday as several ministerial resignations — including of Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab — and a push for a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Theresa May triggered a new political crisis, threatening the future of the deal thrashed out earlier this week.

Ms. May has shown no sign of giving in. “Am I going to see this through? Yes,” she said at a press conference in the evening in which she appealed to the public, pointing to the centrality of her deal for keeping Britain’s manufacturing sector (and associated jobs) alive, as well as avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland, and ending free movement.

 

3. J&K to construct 20,000 flats for cops on self-financing basis

The Jammu and Kashmir Administrative Council, headed by Governor Satya Pal Malik, on Thursday approved the proposal submitted by the State Home department for construction of 20,000 flats “on a self-financing basis” for police personnel. The move comes in the backdrop of frequent abductions and killings of policemen in their native places in Kashmir by militants.

The Jammu and Kashmir Administrative Council, headed by Governor Satya Pal Malik, on Thursday approved the proposal submitted by the State Home department for construction of 20,000 flats “on a self-financing basis” for police personnel. The move comes in the backdrop of frequent abductions and killings of policemen in their native places in Kashmir by militants.

The flats, the administration said, will be constructed over a period of two years for which the State land will be provided by the government on nominal charges. “The flats will be allotted to intending police personnel on self-financing basis. The government will facilitate provision of loan from J&K Bank and other banks,” said the spokesman.

Official figures suggest that the total strength of the J&K police force is 83,000. The new accommodations will be in addition to the housing facilities already offered in Srinagar and Jammu. Besides, the police have residential quarters in all district police lines.

The plan is bigger than the one the Maharashtra government undertook for its 1,90,000 police personnel by providing 8,000 houses in 2016.

The State police have lost 37 personnel, including eight Special Police Officers, in militant attacks and abductions till October this year, highest in the past one decade. This year, militants also managed to raid houses of the relatives of the policemen, including the houses of officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.

 

4. Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur flagged off a “Startup Yatra”

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Thursday flagged off a “Startup Yatra”, saying the programme was aimed at turning the State’s educated youth into job providers from jobseekers. He said the State government would provide all possible help to the youth to develop entrepreneurship under the scheme.

 

5. 4 Indian authors shortlisted for DSC Prize

Four Indian authors and two authors of Pakistani origin have made it to the shortlist of the $25,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2018. The names were announced at an event in the London School of Economics & Political Science on Wednesday.

The shortlisted writers are Jayant Kaikini for No Presents Please (translated from Kannada by Tejaswini Niranjana); Kamila Shamsie for Home Fire; Manu Joseph for Miss Laila Armed And Dangerous; Mohsin Hamid for Exit West; Neel Mukherjee for A State Of Freedom; and Sujit Saraf for Harilal & Sons. Now in its eighth year, the DSC Prize is an international literary award focussed on South Asian fiction writing. The jury panel this year included Rudrangshu Mukherjee, Claire Armitstead, Nandana Sen, Firdous Azim and Tissa Jayatilaka.

88 entries this year

Founded in 2010 by Surina Narula and Manhad Narula, the DSC Prize has helped raise the profile of South Asian writing.

Works are selected on the basis of how poignantly they bring alive a spectrum of themes and emotions relevant to contemporary life in the region.

This year the prize received a record 88 entries. Commenting on the shortlist, Surina Narula, co-founder of the prize, said, “The shortlist represents the very best of South Asian fiction writing, and the depth, creativity and unique narrative of each of these novels is both impressive and inspirational.”

The prize received submissions also from publishers based in the U.K., the U.S., Canada, and Australia, highlighting the growing interest in South Asian writing.

The final winner will be announced at a ceremony to be held at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet in Kolkata between January 22 and 27, 2019.

 

6. Widespread rain forecast as Gaja nears T.N. coast

Widespread rainfall would continue over Tamil Nadu on Friday under the influence of Cyclone Gaja which was yet to make landfall at the time of going to the press.

While a few places in north Tamil Nadu and Puducherry may experience heavy rain, several parts of south Tamil Nadu may get heavy to very heavy rainfall of up to 20 cm as the system moves inland, according to the India Meteorological Department.

S. Balachandran, Deputy Director-General of Meteorology, Chennai, said the severe cyclonic storm was 125 km east of Nagapattinam and 126 km east of Karaikal at 8.30 p.m.

The cyclone was approaching the coast at a speed of 11km per hour. The outer band of the cyclone had already touched the coast and Karaikal started receiving rain around 7 p.m. Given its speed, it may take 3-4 hours for the cyclone to cross the Tamil Nadu coast near Nagapattinam.

 

7. Dumb agent theory

Economics

This refers to the hypothesis that decisions made by groups of individuals turn out to be better than the decisions taken by isolated individuals. It is used to emphasise the wisdom of crowd knowledge. The dumb agent theory has been used in support of the efficient market hypothesis which states that the the prices of securities properly reflect their true underlying value. It has also been applied in the field of prediction markets where the wisdom of the crowd, rather than an individual, is employed to forecast the future to the best possible accuracy level. The idea was first conceptualised by American journalist James Surowiecki.

 

8. PM favours inclusive Indo-Pacific region

India is committed to a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday, as he called for enhancing multilateral cooperation and economic and cultural ties among member-nations at the 13th East Asia Summit in Singapore.

It was Prime Minister Modi’s 5th East Asia Summit (EAS). India has been participating in the EAS since its very inception in 2005. “At the East Asia Summit, I shared my thoughts on enhancing multilateral cooperation, economic and cultural ties among member nations. Also reiterated India’s commitment to a peaceful and prosperous Pacific region,” the Prime Minister tweeted.

The EAS consists of 10 ASEAN nations (Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Brunei and Laos), Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the U.S.

 

9. Vietnam opposes military alliances in region: envoy

Vietnam has an “ambivalent” position on the Quad grouping comprising India, Australia, Japan, and the U.S., Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau said on Thursday. Elaborating, he said while Vietnam welcomed any country’s initiative to preserve freedom of navigation and overflight in the region, it was opposed to any military alliance that could undermine regional peace and security.

Differences in Singapore

The Vietnamese Ambassador’s comments came even as officials from the Quad grouping met in Singapore on Thursday. In a sign that the four countries continued to have differences on the objectives of the grouping, each of the four sides issued separate statements.

 

10. Ramaphosa likely to be R-Day guest

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa is likely to be the chief guest of the 2019 Republic Day ceremonies, an official source said on Thursday.

Mr. Ramaphosa had hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the BRICS summit in Johannesburg in July. He is also expected to take part in the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, to be held in Varanasi from January 21 to 23.

The information came days after the U.S. confirmed that President Donald Trump will not be the chief guest because of his pressing schedule.

 

11. New poll officer for Mizoram

The Election Commission on Thursday appointed Ashish Kundra, a 1996-batch IAS officer, as the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Mizoram, following protests by the NGO coordination committee seeking his predecessor’s ouster.

Services of the former CEO S.B. Shashank have been placed with the EC. His removal is being seen as a “truce” with the protesters to ensure smooth conduct of the Assembly election on November 28.

The coordination committee chairman, Vanlalruata, welcomed the appointment of Mr. Kundra, who is from the AGMUT cadre. “We wanted Shashank out, and the ECI has agreed. Anyone in his place who can cooperate with the people is welcome,” he said.

Trouble started in Mizoram in the last week of October after Mr. Shashank wrote to the EC, alleging interference by the State Home Department in finalising the voters’ list, which involved the displaced minority Bru community. Therefore, the then Principal Secretary (Home) Lalnunmawia Chuaungo, a Gujarat-cadre IAS officer of the 1987 batch, was transferred out and replaced by Lalrinliana Fanai.

This triggered protests by civil society, which demanded Mr. Shashank’s removal. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Chief Election Commissioner, Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla sought the reinstatement of Mr. Chuaungo.

 

12. The GSLV-GSAT launch enhances India’s capacity to meet its communication needs

The Indian Space Research Organisation has marked a big milestone by successfully testing its heavy-lift launcher while launching an advanced communication satellite. It plans to use this for the Chandrayaan-II moon mission in the early months of 2019. On Wednesday the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle MarkIII (GSLV MkIII) launched GSAT29, an advanced communications satellite, into a geosynchronous transfer orbit where the satellite’s closest approach to earth would be 190 km and the farthest 35,975 km. The launcher bearing the 3,423 kg satellite took off from a launchpad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota. Seventeen minutes later, after various stages, the vehicle injected the satellite into the transfer orbit. Taking over smoothly, ISRO’s master control facility at Hassan assumed the command and control of the satellite, and it will be manoeuvred into a geostationary orbit, its final destination, in days. Once placed, the satellite’s solar panels and antennae will unfold and work will begin. With a liftoff mass of 640 tonnes, the GSLV MkIII is the heaviest launch vehicle made in India, and GSAT29 is the heaviest satellite to take off from Indian soil. Both launcher and satellite have other characteristics that make them stand out. The launcher can carry payloads up to 4 tonnes to the geosynchronous transfer orbit and up to 10 tonnes to a low-earth orbit. The multi-band, multi-beam satellite can cater to the communication needs of people in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast.

The first successful experimental flight of the GSLV MkIII was in 2014 when it carried a dummy crew module as a payload. This proved its capacity in the atmospheric flight regime. Its first developmental flight was on June 5, 2017, when it launched GSAT19, weighing 3,136 kg. The present launch marked the second developmental flight of the MkIII. With these two successes, the launcher is declared ‘operational’ and joins the ranks of the working vehicles, the PSLV and the GSLV. This is far fewer than the number of developmental flights the older launch vehicles were subjected to. This is because the solid and liquid propellant stages had been tested before. The third cryogenic stage could establish its performance in just two developmental flights. Of course, these were preceded by numerous experimental flights and ground-based tests. This success sets the stage for trying out variations such as other types of engines, different fuel combinations and higher launch capacity. The GSLV MkIII has not just boosted the satellite into its orbit, but also restored morale at ISRO, which had been dented by the GSAT 6A setback.

 

13. India, China agree to expand military ties

India and China are set to expand their military ties, in tune with the spirit of the Wuhan informal summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April.

During talks between visiting Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra and his Chinese counterpart Shao Yuanming, both sides agreed to add another layer of exchanges between the military personnel of the two countries.

For the first time, cadets from Indian and Chinese military academies, as well mid-level officers, will meet each other regularly. “We are expanding military exchanges between our personnel at all levels in the aftermath of the Wuhan summit,” official sources told The Hindu. The two senior officials also agreed to continue with visits at the level of military commands and civilian officers of the Ministry of Defence.

An Indian Embassy statement noted that “specific additional confidence-building measures at the operational level” have been included in view of the importance of maintaining peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas. These decisions have been taken for “implementing the consensus of Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping” — an obvious reference to the Wuhan informal summit.

The Defence Secretary’s visit precedes the arrival of National Security Adviser Ajit Doval later this month for boundary talks with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Mr. Xi and Mr. Modi are then expected to meet on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Argentina next month.

 

14. Trade deficit rises to $17.13 bn

India’s merchandise trade deficit widened in October to $17.13 billion due in large part to a higher oil import bill, official data released on Thursday showed.

The trade deficit is wider than the $14.61 billion seen in October of last year and the $13.98 billion in September 2018.

“Exports in October 2018 were $26.98 billion, as compared to $22.89 billion in October 2017, exhibiting a positive growth of 17.86%,” a release said. “In rupee terms, exports were ₹1,98,634.84 crore in October 2018, as compared to ₹1,48,962.64 crore in October 2017, registering a positive growth of 33.35%.”

This growth in exports marks a rebound from the contraction of 2.15% seen in September in dollar terms.

The major commodities that saw stronger growth in exports compared with last year include engineering goods (8.87%), petroleum products (49.38%), gems and jewellery (5.48%), organic and inorganic chemicals (34.01%), and drugs and pharmaceuticals (12.83%).

Oil imports in October 2018 were $14.21 billion, which was 52.64% higher in dollar terms compared with October last year and 30.2% higher than the oil imports of September 2018.

 

15. Intel unveils design house at ₹1,100 cr.

Chipmaker Intel Corp., on Thursday unveiled a state-of-the-art design house on its Bengaluru campus.

The Santa Clara, California-based company said that it had built the facility named ‘SRR4’ at an investment of ₹1,100 crore.

It will house technologists who work on “cutting-edge engineering” across hardware and software. “The new R&D facility reinforces our commitment to India,” said Bob Swan, CFO and interim CEO, Intel Corporation. Intel had a robust collaboration with the “vibrant and mature technology” ecosystem in India and looked forward to the next 20 years of innovation, he added.

 

16. No. 20 for Advani

India’s Pankaj Advani on Thursday won his third straight IBSF billiards crown in the 150-up format, taking his overall tally of world titles to a staggering 20. The 33-year-old overcame Nay Thway Oo of Myanmar in a high-quality final.

 

17. Savitha is World u-12 champ

India’s B. Savitha Shri, with 9.5 points, won the World under-12 girls’ chess championship held in Santiago de Compostela (Spain) on Thursday. Uzbekistan’s Umida Omonova (9 points) and Kazakhstan’s Amina Kairbekova (7.5 points) finished behind her.

 

18. What does AIBA stand for?

Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur

The International Boxing Association, originally the Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur and still referred to as the AIBA is a sport organization that sanctions amateur (Olympic-style) boxing matches and awards world and subordinate championships.

 

19. ‘Super-Earth’ found orbiting Sun’s nearest single star

Astronomers have discovered a frozen planet with a mass more than three times that of the Earth, orbiting the closest solitary star to the Sun.

The potentially rocky planet, known as Barnard’s star b, is a ‘super-Earth’ and orbits around its host star once every 233 days, said researchers from Queen Mary University of London.

The findings, published in the journal Nature, show the planet lies at a distant region from the star known as the ‘snow line’ This is well beyond the habitable zone in which liquid water, and possibly life, could exist, researchers said. The planet’s surface temperature is estimated to be around -170°C, they said. However, if the planet has a substantial atmosphere the temperature could be higher and conditions more hospitable.

At nearly six light-years away Barnard’s star is the next closest star to the Sun after the Alpha Centauri triple system. It is a type of faint, low-mass star called a red dwarf. Red dwarfs are considered to be the best places to look for exoplanet candidates, which are planets outside our solar system.

Barnard’s star b is the second closest known exoplanet to our Sun. The closest — Proxima b — lies just over four light-years from Earth and orbits around the red dwarf Proxima Centauri.

The researchers used the radial velocity method during the observations that led to the discovery of Barnard’s star b. The technique detects wobbles in a star which are likely to be caused by the gravitational pull of an orbiting planet. These wobbles affect the light coming from the star.

 

20. Ice age crater discovered beneath Greenland glacier

Buried beneath a kilometre of snow and ice in northern Greenland, scientists have uncovered an asteroid impact crater, bigger than the area of Paris.

This is the first time that a crater of any size has been found under one of Earth’s continental ice sheets, said researchers from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. The researchers worked for the past three years to verify their discovery, initially made in the 2015.

The crater measures more than 31 km in diameter, placing it among the 25 largest impact craters on Earth, according to the study published in the journal Science Advances. It was formed when a kilometre-wide iron meteorite smashed into northern Greenland.

The crater was first discovered in July 2015 as the researchers inspected a new map of the topography beneath Greenland’s ice-sheet.

They noticed an enormous, but previously undetected circular depression under Hiawatha Glacier. “We immediately knew this was something special but at the same time it became clear that it would be difficult to confirm the origin of the depression,” said Mr. Kjaer.

The 20-tonne iron meteorite sits in the courtyard at the Geological Museum in Copenhagen.

 

21. Abbreviations:

Airports Authority of India
East Asia Summit (EAS)
National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT)

 

22. Things to Remember:

Britain’s PM – Theresa May
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa

 

23. Improve your Vocabulary:

lament

Meaning 1 – A passionate expression of grief or sorrow.
Example – ‘his mother’s night-long laments for his father’
Synonyms – wail, wailing, lamentation, moan, moaning, groan, weeping, crying, sob, sobbing, keening, howl, complaint

Meaning 2 – A complaint.
Example – ‘there were constant laments about the conditions of employment’

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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