Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (November 21, 2018)
1. Venkaiah for liberal leadership
Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday said there is a need for men and women who would listen patiently to different voices, and called for nourishing of institutional structures put in place by the Constitution makers through a farsighted and liberal leadership.
He was speaking on the occasion of 104th birth anniversary of former Supreme Court Judge Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer in New Delhi on Tuesday. Justice Iyer had also served as a Cabinet Minister in the first Communist government led by E.M.S Namboodiripad in Kerala.
2. Odisha House passes 33% reservation for women
The Odisha Assembly on Tuesday passed a resolution by unanimous voice vote for providing 33% reservation for women in Legislative Assemblies and Parliament. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had initiated discussion on the motion.
Mr. Patnaik termed the motion as “historic”. The move is being viewed as a masterstroke to woo the women voters ahead of the forthcoming elections. There are 12 women legislators in the 147-member State Assembly at present.
Mr. Patnaik, known for initiating women-focussed programmes, said that no household, no society, no State, no country has ever moved forward without empowering its women. He appealed to the legislators to extend their support and adopt the resolution unanimously.
Stating that the principle of gender equality is enshrined in our constitution, Mr. Patnaik said Biju Babu was the true champion of women’s empowerment. “In 1992, he brought women to the realm of political decision-making by providing 33% reservation for women in local bodies.”
Mr. Patnaik, whose government has enhanced reservation for women in local bodies to 50%, said that the real number was much more than 50% in the State at present. “From Malkangiri to Sundargarh, we witness the new Odisha. An Odisha with lakhs of Mamata Padhiamis and Jayanti Ekkas,” said Mr. Patnaik, while citing the examples of Mamata Padhiami, a girl from Malkangiri and Jayanti Ekka, a grassroots entrepreneur from Sundargarh.
3. Gaja several times more devastating than Thane
Five days after Cyclone Gaja made its midnight landfall between Vedaranyam and in Tamil Nadu, almost every road, street and habitat in is littered with electrical posts, cables, cellphone towers, tree trunks and branches. Steel roofs of petrol bunks and building have been blown off and small bus stands collapsed as pillars got twisted and boats flung to distant places. There is hardly any structure that has escaped the fury of cyclone.
4. India, Russia to build stealth frigates
India on Tuesday signed a $500 million deal with Russia to locally manufacture two stealth frigates with technology transfer. The agreement was signed between Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) and Rosoboronexport of Russia.
The cost of the engines for the ships which would come directly from Ukraine and the cost of constructing them at GSL are in addition. While the ships are built by Russia, the engines are supplied by Zorya Nashproekt of Ukraine. Four gas turbine engines, gear boxes and specialist support will cost around $50 mn per ship, a Defence source said.
In October 2016, India and Russia signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for four Krivak or Talwar stealth frigates — two to be procured directly from Russia and two to be built by GSL. Of late, GSL has maintained a good track record. It has delivered 28 ships ahead of schedule in the past four years.
India recently signed a $1 bn deal with Russia for direct purchase of two frigates. The basic structures of the two frigates are already ready at the Yantar shipyard in Russia and will be finished now.
5. Power generation hit at Kudankulam
The first reactor of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, which resumed power generation only last Saturday after being idle for about 108 days, stopped operations owing to a “technical snag” in the turbine section.
6. The U.S.-China discord at APEC highlights the dangers of their tariff war
Breaking with more than a quarter-century of history, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) organisation wrapped up its summit with no joint communiqué issued. Its leaders, principally led by the U.S. and China, clashed over the proposed wording of the document. The economic rivalry between Washington and Beijing appeared to fracture the 21-nation summit into two segments. The source of the friction stemmed from the Trump administration’s “America First” policy, under which Washington led the charge on “unfair trade practices”. This was an implicit accusation that China wasn’t levelling the playing field in global trade. The U.S. has been urging China to increase market access and grant intellectual property protections for American corporations, cut back on industrial subsidies and, at a broader level, bring down the $375-billion trade gap. Vice President Mike Pence, who attended on the President’s behalf, also hinted at strategic pushback when he called upon nations to eschew loans that could leave them in a debt trap with Beijing. The Chinese message at the plenary was a strategic one too: President Xi Jinping did not mince words in touting Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative. The BRI has worried smaller Asian nations and the U.S., particularly given that China views the Asia-Pacific landscape as a means to secure economic predominance worldwide.
To understand what this clash of the global economic titans portends for the world trading system, it is instructive to examine the path of their mutual conflict thus far. The troubles began over the summer when both countries started taxing $50 billion worth of the other’s imports, followed by the U.S. slapping $200 billion of Chinese exports with a 10% tariff, to be ratcheted up to 25% by the year-end. China, unsurprisingly, retaliated with a promise to impose reciprocal taxes to the tune of $60 billion. Already, the tariff war has resulted in the IMF downgrading its global growth outlook for this year and the next to 3.7%, down 0.2 percentage points from an earlier forecast. If this continues, eventually global supply chains may be hit, and shrinking trade volumes may cause companies to seek out new trading routes and partners. Institutionally, multilateral rule-making bodies such as the WTO may lose their authority, and an interlocking system of bilateral trade treaties and punitive sanctions networks may substitute the consensus-based approach that was forged so painstakingly after World War II. Asia will be at the heart of this war of attrition because strategic control of its high-value maritime trading routes is the key to China’s dreams of global trade dominance. After the APEC summit the world is still poised on the edge of the trade war vortex. The forthcoming G20 meeting in Argentina offers an opportunity to pull back from the brink.
7. Gause’s law
Also known as the competitive exclusion principle, this refers to the proposition that the populations of two competing species cannot remain at stable levels over time. When two species compete for control over a limited amount of resources, the dominant species will take advantage over its weak competitor. This will cause the weaker species to get excluded from its previous territory and its population to drop over time. The law is named after Soviet biologist Georgii Gause although it was formulated first by American biologist Joseph Grinnell in his 1904 paper “The Origin and Distribution of the Chestnut-Backed Chickadee”.
8. BASIC nations push for ‘climate finance’
Ahead of the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) in December, Environment Ministers and top climate change negotiators from Brazil, South Africa, China and India (BASIC) convened in Delhi on Tuesday and said the countries — as a group — would continue to push for developed countries on their earlier commitment to providing $100 billion annually from 2020.
So far only a fraction of these monies have actually been provided, the BASIC group stated.
This year’s edition of the COP — the 24th such meeting — will see representatives from at least 190 countries, think-tanks, and activists converge in Katowice, Poland from December 2 to 14 to try to agree on a Rule Book that will specify how countries will agree to take forward commitments taken at the 21st COP in Paris in 2015. At that meeting, countries had agreed to take steps to limit global warming to 2C below pre-industrial levels. A key aspect to make this possible is climate finance, but countries so far aren’t agreed on what constitutes climate finance: do investments made by private companies in developed countries in new green technology count? Does improving efficiency in a thermal plant count?
9. India offers many roads, says President
India and Vietnam “share a vision for the Indo-Pacific” and will launch their first “Bilateral Maritime Security Dialogue” in early January, announced President Ramnath Kovind during a visit to Hanoi, as he took a broad swipe at China’s Belt and Road Initiative in an address to the National Assembly on Wednesday.
“India offers a cooperation model that does not require its friends to make choices but rather expands choices and expands opportunities for all; that opens not one but many roads,” Mr. Kovind, who is the only foreign leader besides Chinese President Xi Jinping to address the Assembly.
Mr. Kovind also said Vietnam and India concurred on the South China Sea as a “critical component” of the Indo-Pacific, which is the area of another flashpoint with Beijing, that has a territorial dispute with Hanoi over the Spratly Islands.
10. Board committees to assist RBI
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is set to get a makeover in line with its global counterparts, with several board committees to be formed on various aspects like technology, risk management, banking regulation, supervision, among others, to assist the central bank in its operations.
Proposed by the government, the issue will be discussed in the next board meeting of the central bank, scheduled for December 14. The other issue of improving governance standards of the RBI was on the agenda for Monday’s board meeting but could not be discussed. The third matter, relating to liquidity facility to non-banking finance companies, will also be discussed in the next board meeting.
On Monday, after discussing several contentious issues during the nine-hour long board meeting, decisions were taken on four aspects: forming a committee on RBI’s economic capital framework, debt recast scheme for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, extending the deadline for last tranche of capital conservation buffer by one year and review of banks under prompt corrective action by the Board for Financial Supervision (BFS).
According to sources, the BFS that comprises the governor, four deputy governors and a few board members, will study the performance and earnings of banks of the first six months of the current fiscal that are under the prompt corrective action framework of RBI. Accordingly, a decision will be taken to bring out some lenders from PCA depending on their performance. At present, 11 out of 21 public sector banks are under the PCA framework.
11. Google gets ‘Neighbourly’, to add more cities in India
Google has announced the national roll-out of a new app from its ‘Next Billion Users’ team called ‘Neighbourly,’ which helps people source local information from their neighbours.
With more than 1.5 million downloads and half-a-million people on the waitlist, Google is rolling out ‘Neighbourly’ starting with Bengaluru and Delhi, which topped the waitlist.
Over the next few weeks, more cities will be added every day, including Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune. Some other cities include Kolkata, Chandigarh, Lucknow and Indore.
The ‘Neighbourly’ app has already made inroads in popular neighbourhoods in Mumbai first, followed by cities like Jaipur, Mysore, Vizag, Kochi and Coimbatore.
Ben Fohner, senior product manager on Google’s Next Billion Users team, said humans are the core part of the app as the information that users get from ‘Neighbourly’ comes from people based on their ‘experiences’ and not from a website.
Google said people are integrating ‘Neighbourly’ into their routines, asking just about anything from finding the source of an LPG odour to knowing “why there are elephants on the street outside?”
12. PCB compensation claim dismissed
ICC’s dispute panel on Tuesday dismissed Pakistan’s compensation claim against India for allegedly failing to honour a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on bilateral series, handing the BCCI a massive win and ending the long-standing feud. “PCB case against BCCI dismissed by dispute panel,” the ICC posted on its official Twitter page. “The judgement is binding and non-appealable,” it added.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had demanded ₹447 crore compensation after alleging that the BCCI didn’t honour the MoU that required India to play six bilateral series between 2015 to 2023.
The BCCI, on its part, maintained that the alleged MoU was not binding and did not stand as Pakistan failed to honour a commitment to support the revenue model suggested by India for the ICC. “We are happy that our stand has been vindicated. What PCB termed as MoU was just a proposal letter,” CoA chief Vinod Rai said.
13. Bans to continue: CA
Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft will all have to serve their full bans for ball-tampering, Cricket Australia (CA) ruled on Tuesday after reviewing a submission by the players’ union to cut the penalties.
CA interim chairman Earl Eddings said the board had “determined that it is not appropriate to make any changes to the sanctions handed down to the three players”.
Smith and Warner, then Australia’s captain and vice-captain, were banned from state and international cricket for 12 months over the incident in South Africa in March, while Bancroft was suspended for nine months.
14. Women may soon fight without headgear
Facing stiff competition from other combat sports, amateur boxing is in for some drastic changes, such as allowing boxers to wear their National colours and removal of headgear for women, in the run-up to the 2020 Olympics.
Among the proposed changes, switching from traditional red and blue uniform to National colours is at the top of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) priority list.
The AIBA executive committee has already approved the recommendation of its technical and rules commission regarding making the sport more colourful.
15. IOC sends out a strong advisory
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Tuesday conveyed to the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) an International Olympic Committee (IOC) advisory which asked international federations to exclude a country from hosting any international sporting event if the local government is not able to “ensure equal treatment for the participating athletes and sporting delegations, in accordance with the basic principles of autonomy and non-discrimination” of the Olympic Movement.
The letter assumes significance due to recent instances of Kosovo’s exclusion from different international sporting events, including the ongoing World women’s boxing championships here.
The International Boxing Association (AIBA) and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) had expressed their concern over a Kosovo boxer not getting Indian visa as the Government did not recognise the new country.
16. Equalling a 23-year-old record
The stalemate continued at the World chess championship as Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana played out a 38-move draw in their eighth game here on Monday.
The result equalled the record for most consecutive draws to start a title contest, set by Garry Kasparov and Viswanathan Anand at New York in 1995.
The battle resumes on Wednesday.
Brazil, South Africa, China and India (BASIC)
Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA)
Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL)
18. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning 1 – Surround and have or hold within.
Example – ‘this area of London encompasses Piccadilly to the north and St James’s Park to the south’
Synonyms – surround, enclose, ring, encircle, circumscribe, skirt, bound, border, fringe
Meaning 1.1 – Include comprehensively.
Example – ‘no studies encompass all sectors of medical care’
Synonyms – cover, embrace, include, incorporate, take in, contain, comprise, involve, deal with
Meaning 2 – Cause to take place.
Example – ‘But, foolish though I undoubtedly am, I encompass only my own destruction.’