Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (November 20, 2018)
1. Sabarimala temple board seeks time
The Travancore Devaswom Board on Monday moved the Supreme Court saying that about 1,000 women have registered their names to visit the temple, but it could not ensure their security against the “acts of hooliganism and assault” of protesters and certain political parties in and around the Sabarimala premises.
The board, which manages the temple, sought more time to implement the September 28 judgment of the court allowing women aged between 10 and 50 to enter and worship in the hill shrine.
It said that even the ‘unprecedented’ efforts of the Kerala police to provide security to young women pilgrims were overwhelmed by the protesters.
The women had to be escorted back to safety, away from the threats of the protesters.
2. Govt., RBI call truce after a marathon board meeting
The tension between the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) appeared to have defused for the time being with both agreeing to settle for a middle ground at the end of an over nine-hour board meeting on Monday.
The most contentious issue between the central bank and the Finance Ministry was the RBI’s capital. Now, while the RBI has agreed to set up an expert committee on the economic capital framework (ECF), its mandate is restricted to future earnings and not the existing reserves, sources privy to the board deliberations told The Hindu.
“The board decided to constitute an expert committee to examine the ECF, the membership and terms of reference of which will be jointly determined by the Government of India and the RBI,” the central bank said in a statement.
On the PCA, the Board for Financial Supervision (BFS) of the RBI will review the norms and take a call if some of the parameters like net non-performing asset (NPA) ratio could be relaxed so that some of the banks come out of the PCA. There are 11 public sector banks out of 21 that are on the PCA.
The BFS consists of the Governor, four Deputy Governors and a few other board members. Another significant decision was relief to micro, small and medium enterprises — the sector which is badly hit by the twin blows of demonetisation and patchy implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
3. Naveen cancels brewery project in Dhenkanal
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday cancelled the setting up of a brewery plant in Dhenkanal district where hundreds of trees were felled despite strong protests by the villagers.
Mr. Patnaik took the decision based on the recommendations of Revenue Divisional Commissioner D.V. Swamy, who probed the felling of trees in Jhinkargadi forest.
Mr. Patnaik had himself performed the ground-breaking ceremony of the ₹102-crore project, which was to be set up by P&A Bottlers Private Limited, on November 3.
The plant was to come up on 12 acres of forestland in Jhinkargadi.
In a throwback to the Chipko movement of the 1970s, women of Balarampur village successfully thwarted the tree-felling bid by the Dhenkanal district administration on November 7 by embracing the trees.
4. CIC asks RGI to change data collection norms
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Registrar General of India (RGI) to change its practices of data collection, especially with regard to births and deaths.
Information Commissioner Yashovardhan Azad issued the directives to make changes in the software and practices of the RGI.
He was hearing a petition filed by an RTI applicant, seeking information about the deaths reported in all the wards of Mumbai in 2016.
The information was not provided to him, following which he approached the CIC.
During the hearing, the official representing the RGI said the office was a data aggregator.
He submitted that the States were tasked with the overall implementation under Section 3 of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, whereas the ground-level record was maintained by the registrars appointed by the respective States, Mr. Azad noted.
5. ‘Literacy levels in rural India suffer from migration of families’
Literacy levels in rural households of India dip with seasonal migration, the UNESCO global education monitoring report 2019 has observed, bringing out the educational challenges thrown up by migration.
“In India, 10.7 million children aged 6 to 14 lived in rural households with a seasonal migrant in 2013. About 28% of youth aged 15 to 19 in these households were illiterate or had not completed primary school, compared to 18% of the cohort overall,” says the report. “About 80% of seasonal migrant children in seven cities lacked access to education near work sites, and 40% are likely to end up in work rather than education, experiencing abuse and exploitation.”
The report says that the construction sector absorbs the majority of short-term migrants. “A survey in Punjab State of 3,000 brick kiln workers in 2015-16 found that 60% were inter-State migrants. Between 65% and 80% of all children aged 5 to 14 living at the kilns worked there 7 to 9 hours per day. About 77% of kiln workers reported lack of access to early childhood or primary education for their children,” it says.
Inter-State migration rates have doubled between 2001 and 2011. “An estimated 9 million migrated between States annually from 2011 to 2016,” the report says.
It also warns of the negative impact on education for children who are left behind as their parents migrate: “Test scores were lower among left-behind children aged 5 to 8.”
The report shows there is only one urban planner for every 1,00,000 people in India, while there are 38 for every 1, 00,000 in the United Kingdom.
6. Viewing Kartarpur via telescope
India plans to install a “high-powered telescope” in Punjab’s Gurdaspur for Sikh devotees to view Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib across the border in Pakistan, the Home Ministry said on Monday.
This is part of a series of projects planned to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh faith.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had constituted a National Implementation Committee (NIC) under the chairmanship of Home Minister Rajnath Singh to plan events for the anniversary which falls in 2019. The committee’s meeting, on November 8, was attended by Mr. Sidhu among others.
The telescope would be installed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the Home Ministry said in a statement.
Chairs on Guru Nanak Dev would be set up by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, one in a university in the U.K. and another in Canada.
“Publication of Gurbani in different Indian languages will be made by National Book Trust (NBT), Ministry of Human Resource Development. UNESCO will be requested to translate and publish anthology of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s writings in world languages,” the ministry added.
7. Maldivian reprieve
After five years of rule by a government that strong-armed political dissent domestically, the Maldives has put a pro-people administration in power, swearing in Ibrahim Solih, representing the Maldivian Democratic Party, as President on November 17. He has announced a slew of populist policies, and vowed to end an era of “large-scale embezzlement and corruption”. The last is an allusion to the untold millions allegedly paid to officials as kickbacks for various mega-construction projects. The Solih government came to power on the back of a coalition of unlikely bedfellows. The MDP, the party of former President Mohamed Nasheed, has joined hands with the Jumhooree Party of business tycoon Qasim Ibrahim, the Islamic-based Adhaalath Party, and the support base of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. They will have to ensure that ideological differences do not cause the coalition to split at the seams, and unravel the consequences of previous President Abdulla Yameen flinging open the doors to Chinese investment, allowing a cascade of financing that caused the national debt to balloon to nearly a quarter of GDP. But a strategic return to India and its underlying democratic values could back-stop the economic pummelling that Male is sure to face if creditors in Beijing start calling in their dues.
The new government is being cautious, but professedly firm, in unravelling this web of debt. The leadership has promised that what is owed will be paid, and not a penny more; and that wherever opacity cloaked the grant of land, lease rights, construction projects and more, the honouring of debts would be linked to whether a transparent and fair process was followed in the first place. Yet, there is little doubt that China is there to stay in the Maldives, and a balancing agreement will have to emerge through the plethora of commercial contracts the new government would ideally like to renegotiate. In this mission, the renewed bonhomie with India, reflected in the respect accorded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian delegation at the inaugural ceremony, will play a crucial role. Innumerable Indians work across the hospitality, education, and health-care sectors of the Maldives economy, and India contributes everything from helicopters to medical visas to Maldivians. The greatest threat to stability comes less from geo-strategic denouements than from within the fabric of its polity. Certain elements that backed the anti-democratic 2012 ‘coup’ that unseated Mr. Nasheed and supported the dramatically centralised power of the previous presidency still abide within the ruling combine. There is only one option for the fledgling coalition government: to strengthen Maldivian institutions and, by extension, democracy.
8. Menu cost
This refers to the cost incurred by firms due to the change in prices of goods and services that they sell. As prices change frequently, firms may need to print new menus to display their new prices, remove old price tags and replace them with new price tags, and in general invest more time and effort in managing the pricing of their products. A firm, however, may willingly incur menu costs only if there would be significant losses incurred by the firm if its prices are not changed immediately. The concept of menu costs was first proposed by Israeli economists Eytan Sheshinski and Yoram Weiss in their 1977 paper “Inflation and Costs of Price Adjustment”.
9. Army selects Russian Igla-S missile
India has picked Russia’s Igla-S missile system as the choice for the Army’s multibillion dollar contract for man-portable air defence systems, officials said on Monday.
“The Igla-S bid from Rosoboronexport of Russia has been declared the L1 in the Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) deal,” said a defence official on condition of anonymity.
The declaration of the Russian bid as the lowest, which was reached after a series of delays that saw several trials and retrials, still doesn’t guarantee a certain transaction given some concerns about the possible threat of U.S. sanctions for arms purchases from Russia.
The other bidders were MBDA of France and SAAB of Sweden.
10. Maldives to pull out of China FTA
The Maldives’ new government will pull out of a free trade agreement (FTA) with China, said Maldivian Democratic Party leader Mohamed Nasheed.
“The trade imbalance between China and the Maldives is so huge that nobody would think of an FTA between such parties,” said Mr. Nasheed. “China is not buying anything from us. It is a one-way treaty.”
Signed last year
Former President Abdullah Yameen signed the FTA during a visit to Beijing in December last year, and the same month, his Parliament ratified the treaty. Mr. Nasheed, now an adviser to President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, said that Parliament would not pass the changes required for the agreement to come into force.
Between January and August this year, the Maldives’ imports from China were $342 million, while its exports to China were just $2,65,270, according to Maldives customs data. The island nation bought meat, agricultural produce, flowers, plants, electronics and toys from China among many other items.
11. Talks on with 150 nations to reform WTO: Prabhu
Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu on Monday said he was in talks with at least 150 countries to work out the way forward for reforming the World Trade Organisation (WTO). He said that the multilateral trading system was under stress and a number of fresh trade-restrictive measures, which would affect global trade and economic growth, had surged.
“It is necessary that we look at making the WTO improve further,” Mr. Prabhu said at a conference on a strategic alliance for the WTO and trade remedy laws. “The WTO has to change, and change for the better. We are preparing an agenda that does not exclude any country in the process of making the WTO better.”
He said that he had personally met with 150 trade ministers to move a reformed WTO agenda forward. “I am getting a positive response from all concerned, including the Director General of WTO, in our endeavour to take all countries on-board.”
“Expansion of global trade hinges on rules and processes determined by the WTO and unless global trade expands, national economies will not benefit,” he said. “It is important that all substantive issues that have been agreed to at the Doha and other trade rounds, as well as new issues that have cropped up, are addressed with a sense of urgency.”
12. AirSewa 2.0 portal, app unveiled
The Ministry of Civil Aviation has introduced the upgraded version of AirSewa 2.0 web portal and mobile app to provide superior user experience with enhanced functionalities to air travellers.
Major improvements include features such as secure sign-up and log-in with social media, chatbot for travellers support, and improved grievance management, including social media grievances and details of flight schedule. The improved version operates through an interactive web portal as well as through a mobile app for both android and iOS platforms.
13. App unveiled for retail investment in T-bills
The National Stock Exchange (NSE) has launched an app and web-based platform, ‘NSE goBID’, for retail investors to buy government securities.
The new app would allow investors to invest in treasury bills (T-Bills) of 91 days, 182 days and 364 days and various government bonds from one year to almost 40 years, said a statement by the exchange.
The retail investors would be able to make payment directly from their bank accounts using Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Internet banking, the statement added.
While investment could be done almost every week after a one-time registration, the app would be available to all investors registered with NSE’s trading members.
“The launch of NSE goBID for investing in government securities is a milestone at a time when India is seeing surge in digital payments,” said Ajay Tyagi, Chairman, Securities and Exchange Board of India.
14. Centre mulls linking e-way bill with FASTag
The revenue department is planning to integrate e-way bill with NHAI’s FASTag mechanism and DMICDC’s Logistics Data Bank services, to facilitate faster movement of goods and check GST evasion. The proposal will improve operational efficiencies across the logistic landscape. It will also help in preventing GST evasion by unscrupulous traders who take advantage of the loopholes in the supply chain, an official said.
15. Rakibul re-elected AICF president
The All India Carrom Federation (AICF) conducted its election here on Sunday, as directed by the Delhi High Court, vide its judgement dated August 6.
After a prolonged case over the civil writ petition 3314/2016, when the AICF questioned the government’s order to disaffiliate the federation following the last election in 2015, the early election was conducted as desired by the judiciary. Rakibul Hussain was re-elected president while Bharti Narayan was elected the first woman General Secretary. Arun Kedar was elected treasurer and Girish Bachharaj Vyas executive president.
16. International Film Festival of India set to kick-off today
The 49th edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2018 will kick-start on Tuesday evening with an opening ceremony that will showcase the theme of a “New India” through a variety of genres of cinema.
The ceremony will be held at the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium on the outskirts of the city from 4.30 p.m. onwards.
The inaugural would entail a 90-minute programme incorporating elements and narratives of the rich and diverse kaleidoscope of the Indian film industry, showcasing the themes of history, action and romance.
This festival will showcase 212 films from over 68 countries. International Competition section incorporates 15 films, including three Indian films.
As many as 26 feature and 21 non-feature Indian films will be screened in the Indian Panorama section.
17. Best-picture Oscars up for sale in rare auction
Two Academy Awards for best picture are going up for sale in a rare auction of Oscars. An Oscar awarded to Mutiny on the Bounty in 1936 and another given to Gentleman’s Agreement in 1948 will go up for auction in Los Angeles starting December 11.
Board for Financial Supervision (BFS)
Non-Performing Asset (NPA)
Registrar General of India (RGI)
Central Information Commission (CIC)
Open Defecation Free (ODF)
Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC)
National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)
19. Things to Remember:
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik
Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu
20. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning – The point at which something is at its best or most highly developed.
Example – ‘physics is the acme of scientific knowledge’
Synonyms – summit, top, crest, pinnacle, mountaintop, spire, heights, brow, apex, crown, tip, cap, vertex, zenith, apogee, peak, pinnacle, zenith, highest point, high point, crown, crest, summit, top, tip, apex, apogee