Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (November 30, 2018)
1. ISRO puts ‘Sharp Eye’ into orbit
Nearly three minutes after lift-off on Thursday, India’s workhorse launch vehicle, the PSLV, carrying 31 satellites on board soared in a trajectory crossing the path of the Sun and sped to inject India’s Hyper Spectral Imaging Satellite (HysIS), being dubbed ‘Sharp Eye’, towards the launcher’s intended first orbit.
Over the course of the next one hour, the team at Mission Control waited for the PSLV C-43 to come up on the other side of the Equator to insert 30 small satellites from various countries into another orbit as requested by the customers. The 30 satellites were part of a commercial launch.
In its 13th flight of the Core-Alone version and 45th launch of the PSLV, ISRO carried one satellite each from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Finland, Malaysia, Netherlands and Spain, and 23 satellites from the U.S. on board as co-passengers of the HysIS.
At 9.57 a.m., the rocket lifted off from the first launchpad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR, here. A little over 17 minutes later, the HysIS was injected into a precise orbit of 636 km from Earth. The HysIS is an Earth Observation satellite primarily to assist in a wide range of applications in agriculture, forestry, geological environments, coastal zones, among others.
2. Nothing secret about Taj vision document: SC
The Supreme Court on Thursday told the Uttar Pradesh government that the vision document on protecting Taj Mahal, being prepared by School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Delhi, should be made public once finalised as there was “nothing secret” about it.
A Bench of Justices Madan B Lokur, S. Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta was told by the SPA that the process of preparing vision document would be completed within a “few days” and as per terms of reference they would submit it to the Uttar Pradesh government.
“It [vision document] should be made public. It is a vision document. There is nothing secret about it. You place it on record also,” the Bench told counsel representing Uttar Pradesh.
Additional Solicitor General A.N.S. Nadkarni, appearing for the Centre, told the Bench that the first draft of the heritage plan for Taj Mahal, which is to be submitted to the UNESCO, was ready and it would be finalised within eight weeks.
He said that once the heritage plan was finalised, it would be sent to the UNESCO along with the vision document.
The Bench also dealt with the issue of declaring Agra as a heritage city and the Centre told the court that it had written to the Uttar Pradesh government about it.
3. SC strikes down age bar for NEET
The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed candidates aged 25 years and above to apply and appear in the NEET-UG 2019 examination.
A three-judge Bench led by Justice S.A. Bobde observed that “If they are allowed to appear in the examination, they shall take the examination provisionally subject to the final outcome of these matters (case)”.
The court directed the National Testing Agency (NTA), set up to conduct the NEET exams, to keep its portal open for a week to enable candidates to apply for the exam. The court further impleaded NTA as a party in the case, asking it to file its response in four weeks and posted the case for January.
4. ISRO to make Gaganyaan indigenous
The Indian Space Research Organisation wants to make the ambitious manned mission Gaganyaan “more and more” indigenous by utilising the facilities available in the country, ISRO Chairman K. Sivan said here on Thursday.
“In order to meet the Prime Minister’s (Narendra Modi) vision (of sending humans to space) by 2022, to undertake some testing we may go abroad. But we have not decided that,” he added.
5. 3,000 BSNL centres to offer Aadhaar services
State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited will soon offer Aadhaar enrolment and updation facilities in its 3,000 customer service centres across India, at an estimated cost of about ₹ 90 crore, its Chairman Anupam Shrivastava said on Thursday.
6. Marshall-Lerner condition
This refers to the proposition that the devaluation of a country’s currency will lead to an improvement in its balance of trade with the rest of the world only if the sum of the price elasticities of its exports and imports is greater than one. For instance, if total export revenue falls due to inelastic demand for a country’s exports and total import expense rises due to inelastic demand for its imports, this will lead to a further worsening of the country’s trade deficit. So devaluing its currency may not always be the best way forward for a country looking to reduce its trade deficit. The Marshall-Lerner condition is named after British economist Alfred Marshall and Russian economist Abba P. Lerner.
7. Top IAF honour for Guwahati helicopter unit
President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday presented the Standards to 118 Helicopter Unit in Guwahati and the Colours to the Air Defence College, Lucknow. The Standards is the Indian Air Force’s topmost peacetime award for an operational or fighting unit. The Colours is for a static unit.
Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa also attended the programme.
8. Trump cancels meet with Putin
U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday cancelled his planned meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, citing the naval stand-off in which Russian forces seized three Ukrainian ships.
In a Twitter message posted as he was travelling to Buenos Aires for the Group of 20 meeting, where he had planned to meet with the Russian leader, Mr. Trump said, “Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin.” He added: “I look forward to a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved!”
The decision was an abrupt reversal given that Mr. Trump had just told reporters shortly before leaving that he planned to go ahead with the session.
The meeting was scrapped days after Russian forces seized three small Ukrainian naval vessels and more than 20 sailors, including at least three wounded in a shooting by the Russian side, and briefly blocked passage through the Kerch Strait.
9. Lanka signs port deals with China
Sri Lanka penned two contracts with Chinese firms for a port upgrade project on Thursday in the middle of a political hiatus that has raised doubts over the legitimacy of the government and the deals.
An official at the state-run Sri Lanka Ports Authority told Reuters it signed two contracts with Chinese firms worth more than $50 million combined on Thursday after the deals were approved by Mahinda Rajapaksa’s disputed Cabinet last week.
The deals are a $32 million contract to enhance the deep berth capacity of state-run Jaya Container Terminal in Colombo with China Harbour Engineering, and another one worth $25.7 million for the purchase of three cranes from Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries for the same project, according to the ports authority official.
10. Govt. to move nearly half of Air India’s ₹55,000-cr. debt to SPV
The government has decided to transfer more than half of Air India’s nearly ₹55,000-crore debt into a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to help the airline cut expenditure on servicing the huge loan, R.N. Choubey, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, said.
“More than ₹29,000 crore will be moved from Air India into an SPV, which will also house the non-core assets such as the ground-handling arm and land. Liquidation of these assets will enable us pay off the debt. This will help Air India to reduce an expenditure item because of the interests it pays on its loans,” Mr. Choubey told reporters on Thursday.
Earlier this week, the Group of Ministers approved 100% stake sale of Air India’s ground-handling arm Air India Air Transport Services Limited (AIATSL), an asset that will be moved to the SPV. AIATSL is the only profit-making subsidiary of Air India apart from Air India Express Ltd.
According to the earlier revival plan under the UPA-2 regime, Air India was approved equity infusion of ₹30,231 crore until 2021. Of this, it has received ₹28,000 crore. “There are two ways of looking at this plan. On one side, the break-up of Air India’s core and non-core assets will help the government capture the upside of profit-making entities to pay off the debt of the airline.
11. Škoda plans 95% part localisation
Škoda Auto, which is leading the second phase of Volkswagen Group’s growth in India under the ‘India 2.0’ programme, is eyeing 95% localisation of parts of all Škoda and Volkswagen vehicles made in India, from the current level of 64%, to compete efficiently in the market, a top executive said.
This will be effective 2021, when a new range will be rolled out for both Skoda and Volkswagen under a single management structure. “We are aiming to reach 95% localisation of vehicle parts within 6 months of the launch of new vehicles,” Gurpratap Boparai, head of Volkswagen Group India.
12. Mairaj jumps to sole lead
Olympian and World Cup silver medalist Mairaj Ahmad Khan jumped into the sole lead with 98 out of 100 after four rounds in men’s skeet in the 62nd National shotgun championship at the JDA Range on Thursday.
The 43-year-old Mairaj had a series of 25, 24, 25 and 24, as he led by one point over Smit Singh, Gurjoat Singh and Man Singh.
Sheeraz Sheikh was on 96, while Amrinder Singh Cheema and Angad Vir Singh Bajwa shot 95.
The fifth round will be followed by the final for the top six on Friday.
In the junior section, Indereshwar Singh Sekhon and Abhay Singh Sekhon had the joint lead with 94, three points ahead of Anantjeet Singh Naruka.
Karn Vikram Singh (89), Gurnihal Singh Garcha (88), Ayush Rudraraju, Bhavtegh Singh Gill, Rajveer Singh Gill and Keshav Pratap Singh (87) followed the leaders.
13. Manav Thakkar clinches a double
Top seed Manav Thakkar clinched both the singles and doubles titles at the Portugal junior and cadet Open table tennis tournament here. Manav defeated compatriot Jeet Chandra 11-5, 7-11, 10-12, 11-8, 9-11, 11-4, 11-9 for the singles title on Wednesday. Later, Manav and Manush Shah beat second-seeded compatriots Jeet Chandra and Snehit Suravajjula 11-7, 11-6, 13-15, 7-11, 11-6 for the doubles title.
14. Reggae gets into heritage list
Reggae music, whose chill, lilting grooves won international fame thanks to artists like Bob Marley, on Thursday secured a coveted spot on the United Nations’ list of global cultural treasures.
UNESCO, the world body’s cultural and scientific agency, added the genre that originated in Jamaica to its collection of “intangible cultural heritage” deemed worthy of protection and promotion.
UNESCO noted that while reggae started out as “the voice of the marginalised” it was “now played and embraced by a wide cross-section of society, including various genders, ethnic and religious groups.”
Its “contribution to international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity underscores the dynamics of the element as being at once cerebral, socio-political, sensual and spiritual,” Paris-based UNESCO added in a statement.
Reggae joins a list of cultural traditions that includes the horsemanship of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, a Mongolian camel-coaxing ritual and Czech puppetry, among over 300 other traditional practices.
Jamaica applied for reggae’s inclusion this year at a meeting of the UN agency.
A centuries-old form of Georgian wrestling called chidaoba and the Irish sport of hurling also won recognition as cultural assets.
Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)
Hyper Spectral Imaging Satellite (HysIS)
School of Planning and Architecture (SPA)
National Testing Agency (NTA)
National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT)
16. Things to Remember:
ISRO Chairman K. Sivan
NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar
17. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning – A long, angry speech of criticism or accusation.
Example – ‘a tirade of abuse’
Synonyms – diatribe, invective, polemic, denunciation, rant, broadside, attack, harangue, verbal onslaught