Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (November 29, 2018)
1. Aviation Ministry wants airlines to drop web check-in fee
The government is of the view that IndiGo and SpiceJet should withdraw their web check-in fee, according to a top source in the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
IndiGo and SpiceJet recently revised their web check-in policies to include a levy for air travellers opting for web check-in for any seat in an aircraft. Earlier, passengers would have to pay extra only for certain preferred seats. “We have told the two airlines to remove the new fee,” the source told The Hindu. The Ministry had already met the airlines’ officials and would be holding another meeting with them.
Asked how the government could intervene since airlines were allowed to unbundle services, a senior official said airlines should incentivise web check-in.
2. DGCA to bring gender parity for cabin crew
Aviation watchdog DGCA plans to bring gender parity in body-weight norms for flight attendants, according to a senior government official.
“The permissible body mass index (BMI) for female cabin crew is discriminatory. The rule for them is far more stringent than their male counterparts and we intend to rectify that. However, we have found that there is no such discrimination among male and female pilots,” the senior DGCA official told reporters on the sidelines of an event on Wednesday. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has made public a draft amendment to a Civil Aviation Requirement, which revises the BMI for female flight attendants. It has sought comments from stakeholders on it until December 26.
As per existing DGCA guidelines, the maximum BMI for female cabin crew is 22 while for male it is 25. This has often resulted in more women flight attendants being grounded for being overweight than their male colleagues.
According to Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha in Lok Sabha last year, there were as many 30 female flight attendants of Air India who were grounded for being obese, while only four male flight attendants of the airline had been temporarily barred from flying duties.
3. NGT slaps ₹5-crore fine on Bengal
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed a fine of ₹5 crore on the West Bengal government for failing to take steps to improve the air quality of Kolkata and Howrah. Subhas Datta, the petitioner, said that the cost has been imposed for failing to comply with an earlier order of the NGT in August 2016.
In an order on Tuesday, the principal bench of NGT’s Eastern Zone, comprising Judges S.P. Wangdi and non-judicial member Nagin Nanda, directed the State’s Chief Secretary to file an affidavit by January 8, 2019 regarding the payment of compensation and the action taken report in this regard. The NGT directed that the cost should be paid within two weeks to the Central Pollution Control Board. If the government failed to do so, it would have to pay an additional ₹1 crore as fine for every month’s delay.
The 2016 order included taking steps like augmentation of air monitoring network, traffic management, streamlining of efficiency auto emission training centres, and phasing out of commercial vehicles more than 15-years-old.
4. UGC’s new norms for recruitment
Doctoral degree holders from the top 500 foreign universities are now eligible for direct recruitment as an assistant professor in Indian varsities, according to the UGC. According to the new recruitment norms, the top 500 ranking of the university shall be referred from four famous world university ranking systems — Quacquarelli Symonds, Times Higher Education rankings and the Academic Ranking of World Universities of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
5. Asian of The Year award for Kerala flood rescue
Indian Navy commander Vijay Varma and captain P. Rajkumar were among those honoured at the ‘Asian of The Year’ awards here on Wednesday, acknowledging their selfless service and bravery in rescue operations during the Kerala floods.
6. Central bank recap
There are two important takeaways from the deposition of Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance on Tuesday. First, the banking industry is over the hump on non-performing assets (NPAs), which peaked in the quarter ending March 2018 at 11.18% of advances. Both gross and net NPAs have registered a decline for two consecutive quarters — June and September 2018. Crucially, there has been a sharp fall in slippages (fresh NPAs added to the existing heap) from 7.3% in March 2018 to 3.87% in September. This is certainly good news as it indicates that the skeletons are mostly out of the cupboard now. Of course, there is still the onerous task of resolving the bad loans stock, which is at a little over ₹10 lakh crore now. Profitability of banks will continue to remain under stress as they provide for the bad loans in their books and/or take hair-cuts on recoveries through the insolvency process. Meanwhile, banks will also have to be wary of their small loans portfolio, especially those made under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, which already add up to ₹6.77 lakh crore. These will need close monitoring.
The second important aspect of Mr. Patel’s deposition was his spirited defence of the RBI’s autonomy. Though he was careful not to say anything that would break the détente forged by the Centre and the central bank at its last board meeting on November 19, he made three forceful points: that the RBI’s autonomy is important to protect depositors’ interests; monetary policy has to be the exclusive domain of the RBI; and its reserves are central to maintaining its AAA rating. These statements are probably aimed at nipping in the bud any attempts to change the governance structure of the central bank. After the last board meeting, there have been reports that the Centre is planning to push for board committees to be set up to “assist” the RBI in the discharge of its work. Monetary policy is anyway the preserve of the Monetary Policy Committee created two years ago under the RBI Act, but there are other equally important functions which the Centre may be attempting to control through the board. The issue of autonomy is clearly the gorilla in the room and driving it out is not going to be an easy task. Yet, for the Centre and the RBI there is no alternative but to continue talking on this subject even while ensuring that it does not cast a shadow over their other respective roles and responsibilities. The issue of RBI autonomy is not something that first emerged during this government’s tenure, nor is it likely to be solved in its remaining tenure.
7. Savanna principle
This refers to the hypothesis that the human brain is adapted primarily to the conditions in which human ancestors survived once upon a time rather than to the modern age. The term was coined by American evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa in an academic article published in 2004 to state that the human brain may be adapted to the time when human ancestors lived in the African savannas. The Savanna principle has been used to explain why a lot of human behaviour in the modern age seems irrational. Since the modern age is relatively recent in evolutionary terms, the human brain may not have evolved sufficiently to deal with the modern environment.
8. Interim Budget to be presented on Feb. 1
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will present the interim Budget for the financial year 2019-20 on February 1, 2019.
The Finance Ministry on Wednesday said “the work for preparation of the interim Budget has already commenced and is now gaining momentum”.
The Ministry has already sought inputs from Union Ministries. It would be the last budget of the NDA government before the Lok Sabha election.
The Ministry began the budgetary exercise last month. During the process, meetings were held with the Ministries of Steel, Power, Housing and Urban Development and others to finalise revised expenditure for the current fiscal and projections for the next financial year.
The Ministry will impose quarantine to bar the entry of mediapersons into North Block, the seat of the country’s Finance Ministry, from December 3.
This will be the sixth consecutive Budget to be presented by Mr. Jaitley.
9. Sri Lanka’s top military officer held
A magistrate court on Wednesday remanded Sri Lanka’s top-most military officer for allegedly harbouring a key suspect in a case of disappearance of 11 men in the final years of the war. All 11 are believed to have been subsequently murdered.
The Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake ordered the detention of Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne until December 5 after he evaded arrest for weeks, ignoring warrants.
Given his position of power as the country’s highest-ranking military officer, Admiral Wijegunaratne could influence witnesses or disrupt the ongoing investigation and hence could not be granted bail, the magistrate had noted.
In September, the Admiral had suddenly departed to Mexico following a CID summon, raising serious doubts over his cooperation in the probe.
While Army intelligence officers have earlier been arrested in connection with war-time crimes, Admiral Wijegunaratne is the senior most official to be interrogated about his alleged role in helping naval intelligence officer Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi, who is accused of kidnapping 11 young men between 2008 and 2009 for ransom, flee the country.
10. Test Championship will balance out cricket: ICC
The International Cricket Council was committed to safeguard the longer format of the game regardless of the popularity of T20, the shortest format.
The ICC General Manager (Commercial) Campbell Jamieson said here on Wednesday: “There are a number of key decisions we have taken in relation to Test cricket and Test World Championship. Last year or earlier this year there are developments that ICC and members have put forward in relation to the growth of the game. The Test Championship, which start in July 2019, will certainly balance out the amount of cricket that various countries are playing in other formats.”
Jamieson pointed out the rising demand for tickets for the 2019 World Cup in England next year.
Jamieson also highlighted the growing status of women’s cricket. “There are a number of women’s cricket events over the next five years. What is great is the fact that there are number of teams which are really becoming competitive. So if we look back 10 years, it was generally England, Australia and New Zealand. Now we see India, West Indies, South Africa, Sri Lanka competing at the highest level.”
With the ICC bidding for women’s T20’s inclusion at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Jamieson noted, “It’s a great opportunity for the game to grow.”
Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)
National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)
12. Things to Remember:
Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
13. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning 1 – Devoutly religious.
Example – ‘a deeply pious woman’
Synonyms – religious, devout, devoted, dedicated, reverent, god-fearing, churchgoing, spiritual, prayerful, holy, godly, saintly, faithful, dutiful, righteous
Meaning 1.1 – Making or constituting a hypocritical display of virtue.
Example – ‘his pious platitudes’
Synonyms – sanctimonious, hypocritical, insincere, self-righteous, holier-than-thou, pietistic, churchy