Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (November 12, 2018)
1. ‘Gaja’ to bring rain to north T.N., Puducherry
The deep depression over the Bay of Bengal intensified into Cyclone ‘Gaja’ on Sunday. North Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are likely to get good rain on November 14 and 15, India Meteorological Department officials said.
Named ‘Gaja’ by Sri Lanka, the cyclone lay 840 km east of Chennai and 880 km east of Nagapattinam. It is likely to intensify into a severe cyclonic storm in the 24 hours starting on Sunday evening. It is expected to move west-northwestwards during the next 36 hours. It may then weaken and cross the north Tamil Nadu-south Andhra coasts between Cuddalore and Sriharikota during the forenoon of November 15, Met officials said.
2. Spit on Pune streets, be prepared to clean it
In a bid to keep Pune streets clean, the civic body has started punishing people spitting on roads by making them clean the spit, besides levying a fine on offenders, an official said on Sunday. The decision was taken after authorities found that only monetary fine was not adequate to check the menace of spitting, the official said.
3. Degree creep
This refers to the increase in the number of degrees required to land a job over time. Jobs that required candidates to hold a Bachelor’s degree some years ago, for instance, might now require a Master’s degree. It is believed that degree creep is the result of an increase in the number of candidates competing for a limited number of jobs. The reduction in the cost of education due to an increase in subsidies offered by governments is also seen as a reason to get more educated.
4. IAF alive to threats: Dhanoa
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is “very much alive” to the emerging threats that could arise in the Indo-Pacific region, Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa said on Sunday, saying the force was prepared to deal with any challenge to protect India’s national interests.
He said there was cause for concern over the rate of modernisation and induction of new equipment in India’s neighbourhood, even as the nation faced challenges emanating from “unresolved territorial disputes” and “sponsored” non-state and transnational actors. But the IAF was capable of, and was moving ahead, for countering them effectively, he told PTI in an interview.
Asked if the IAF could play a role in smashing terrorist training camps across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, he did not rule out such a possibility. “The IAF is well equipped to take on threats which occur from across the border, be it in the realm of sub-conventional or other domains,” he said.
Asked if the IAF was capable of playing a role to expand India’s geopolitical influence in the Indo-Pacific region, he said: “We have the second largest fleet of C-17s in the world. Therefore, India will pull its heft in helping out friendly nations in times of human distress and humanitarian relief. In addition, the IAF is very much alive to the emerging threats that could arise in the Indo-Pacific region.”
At present, the IAF has a fleet of 10 C-17 Globemasters, used for strategic airlift missions, transporting troops, and cargo for long-range missions.
The U.S. has been pushing for a greater role for India in the Indo-Pacific, which is seen by many countries as an effort to contain China’s growing clout in the region.
5. India, Singapore begin sea drills
The 25th edition of the India-Singapore bilateral naval exercise, SIMBEX, has begun at the tri-services command in Port Blair.
The exercise, which kicked off on Saturday off the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, will conclude on November 21.
Launched in 1994
“Started as basic Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) exercises in 1994, today these exercises have graduated to complex maritime combat drills, including missile and torpedo firings, and shore-based intensive professional exchanges,” the Navy said in a statement.
Seven ships from the Indian Navy and five ships from the Singapore Navy along with an Archer class submarine and a Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle will take part in the exercise.
Maritime patrol aircraft of both countries, P8I of Indian Navy and Fokker F50 from Singapore, will also take part.
The number of missiles and torpedo firings being undertaken are in fact unprecedented and perhaps the largest the Indian Navy has undertaken with any foreign Navy till date, the Navy added.
The two countries have vastly expanded their military cooperation in recent years under India’s Act East policy. Late last year, the two countries signed a naval agreement which has a provision for mutual logistical support and gives India access to the Changi naval base.
India and Singapore are working on a trilateral exercise with an Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) country, likely Thailand, and eventually plan to scale it up to a multilateral format.
6. BJP to stage street plays
The BJP in Madhya Pradesh has decided to stage street plays in small towns and rural areas on the theme of development works carried out by the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in the State. BJP leaders on Sunday gathered at the party office here and shortlisted several drama groups for the campaign. Scores of artists had come for an audition test. Those selected were asked to perform street plays on the themes pertaining to the BJP government’s achievements in the State.
7. Bangladesh Opposition not to boycott general election
Bangladesh’s main Opposition party announced on Sunday that it would not boycott next month’s general election and would challenge Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the polls, despite its leader being in jail.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party said it would contest the December 23 election but has expressed fears it will not be democratic and has threatened protests.
The BNP boycotted the 2014 election over fears it would be rigged, allowing Ms. Hasina to walk into a second term unchallenged.
8. Singapore PM hints at early election next year
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong suggested on Sunday that a general election may be called next year, more than a year before his government’s mandate ends, as the city-state braces for growing economic uncertainty.
9. North, S. Korea begin destroying border posts
North and South Korea began destroying 20 guard posts along their heavily-fortified frontier on Sunday. Under an agreement made between their generals in late October, they agreed to each remove 10 posts.
10. A teacher who shaped economic policies
On Sunday in Chennai, India lost one of its notable economists with the passing of T.N. Srinivasan. Indian economists around the world joined the chorus of tributes and praise for the academic, whose publications and teachings made inroads into several important economic policy concepts that governments around the world, and notably in India, are still grappling with.
Thirukodikaval Nilakanta Srinivasan was most recently the Emeritus Samuel C. Park, Jr. Professor of Economics at Yale University. Prior to that he had been advisor to and professor at some of the most prestigious institutions in the world, including the World Bank, MIT, Stanford University, and the Indian Statistical Institute. In 2007, he was conferred the Padma Bhushan for his contributions to literature and education.
Dr. Srinivasan’s teachings and beliefs regarding international trade would and should have an impact in all discourse on the subject, especially today when a number of large economies are increasingly looking inward and adopting protectionist policies. He believed that international trade should be free and without barriers.
11. Behind India’s leap in ease of doing business
India’s leap in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings this year has slipped under the radar, in the cacophony over demonetisation and the RBI-Centre spat.
The country has, in fact, been one of the biggest ‘improvers’ in the 2019 study, with its rank shooting up from 100 to 77, among 190 countries. This is quite a big jump, given that its rank crept up from 142 to 100 in the four years from 2015 to 2018.
The World Bank now deems India an easier place to do business in than BRICs peers such as Brazil (109) and South Africa (82) and West Asian economies such as Qatar (83) and Saudi Arabia (92).
But it has a long way to go before it can catch up with China (46, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is at 4), the U.S. (8) or Singapore (a lofty 2). New Zealand is the top dog here.
12. Decoding the Central Board of the RBI
The Central Board of Directors of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has recently been a topic of much discussion, in the light of both the recent public tussle between the RBI and the Finance Ministry and the second anniversary of demonetisation.
What is the RBI Board?
The RBI Board is a body comprising officials from the central bank and the Government of India, including officials nominated by the government. According to the RBI, the “general superintendence and direction of the affairs and business of the RBI is entrusted to the Central Board” and the Board exercises all powers and does all acts and things that are exercised by the RBI. The Board is also to recommend to the government the design, form and material of bank notes and also when and where they can serve as legal tender.
Who sits on the Board?
The Board consists of official directors, who include the Governor and up to four Deputy Governors, non-official directors, who include up to ten directors from various fields and two government officials, and one director from each of four local boards of the RBI.
Currently, the Board members are: RBI Governor Urjit R. Patel; Deputy Governors N. S. Vishwanathan, Viral V. Acharya, B.P. Kanungo, and Mahesh Kumar Jain; Dr. Prasanna Kumar Mohanty, Dilip S. Shanghvi, Revathy Iyer, Sachin Chaturvedi, Natarajan Chandrasekaran, Bharat Narotam Doshi, Sudhir Mankad, Ashok Gulati, Manish Sabharwal, Satish Kashinath Marathe, Swaminathan Gurumurthy; Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg and Financial Services Secretary Rajiv Kumar.
The Governor and Deputy Governors hold office for not more than five years, the ten directors nominated by the government hold office for four years, and the government officials are to hold a term on the RBI Board as long as the government sees fit.
According to the RBI Act, the director of the RBI Board cannot be a salaried government official (except for the ones specifically nominated by the government), be adjudicated as insolvent or have suspended payments to creditors, an officer or employee of any bank (again, this does not include the government nominee), or, interestingly, “is found lunatic or becomes of unsound mind”.
When does the Board meet?
The Governor has to call a Board meeting at least six times in a year, and at least once each quarter. A meeting can be called if a minimum of four Directors ask the Governor to call a meeting. The Governor or, if for any reason unable to attend, the Deputy Governor authorised by the him to vote for him, presides the Board meetings. In the event of split votes, the Governor has a second, or deciding vote.
Why has the RBI Board been in the news?
The RBI Board recently entered the news during the public spat between the central bank and the Finance Ministry. One of the reasons for the disagreement was the government’s alleged threat of invoking Section 7 of the RBI Act.
Section 7 basically empowers the government to supersede the RBI Board and issue directions to the central bank if they are considered to be “necessary in public interest”.
13. World marks the centenary of the Great War Armistice
World leaders gathered under driving rain in on Sunday to lead global commemorations marking 100 years since the end of First World War, at a time of growing nationalism and diplomatic tensions.
Around 70 leaders, including U.S. and Russian Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, marked the centenary of the 1918 Armistice in the French capital at 11 a.m. local time (10:00 GMT).
After church bells rang out across France, the leaders sat together at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe for a memorial that included classical music and the reading aloud of letters by First World War soldiers.
14. Largest brain-mimicking supercomputer switched on
The world’s largest supercomputer designed to work in the same way as the human brain has been switched on for the first time.
The Spiking Neural Network Architecture machine is capable of completing more than 200 million million actions per second, with each of its chips having 100 million transistors.
SpiNNaker, built at the University of Manchester in U.K., can model more biological neurons in real time than any other machine on the planet. Biological neurons are basic brain cells present in the nervous system that communicate by emitting ‘spikes’ of pure electro-chemical energy.
It is unique as it mimics the massively parallel communication architecture of the brain, sending billions of small amounts of information simultaneously to thousands of different destinations.
15. Mars sunrise turned into a musical piece
Scientists have created the soundtrack of the 5,000th Mars sunrise captured by NASA’s rover, Opportunity, using data sonification techniques. Researchers from the Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Exeter in U.K. created the two-minute piece of music, titled Mars Soundscapes. It will be presented at the Supercomputing SC18 Conference in Dallas, on November 13.
Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)
Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)
17. Things to Remember:
Chief of IAF – Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
RBI Governor Urijit Patel
Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu
French President Emmanuel Macron
18. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning 1 – Give or grant someone (power, status, or recognition)
Example – ‘the powers accorded to the head of state’
Synonyms – give, grant, tender, present, award, hand, vouchsafe, concede, yield, cede
Meaning 2 – (accord with)(of a concept or fact) be harmonious or consistent with.
Example – ‘his views accorded well with those of Merivale’
Synonyms – correspond, agree, tally, match up, concur, coincide, be in agreement, be consistent, equate, harmonize, be in harmony, be compatible, be consonant, be congruous, be in tune, dovetail, correlate