Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (November 5, 2018)
1. Sirisena reconvenes Parliament
Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday announced reconvening of Parliament on November 14. He had suspended Parliament last month, two days after sacking Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replacing him with former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa. A gazette notification on the date was issued by his secretary Udaya R. Seneviratne.
In a dramatic turn of events, Mr. Rajapaksa was sworn in as the new Premier of the Indian Ocean island nation on October 26 after Mr. Sirisena sacked Mr. Wickremesinghe, who termed the move “unconstitutional” and vowed to prove his majority in Parliament. The development came amid growing tensions between Mr. Sirisena and Mr. Wickremesinghe on several policy matters.
2. Water ATMs may help in bridging safe water gap
For thousands of communities across India, the process of getting drinking water is now the same as the process of getting cash: they head to an ATM.
With 82 crore people who still do not have access to piped water and 70% of water in the country contaminated by pollutants, the government is increasingly starting to accept small water enterprises — such as water ATMs and community purification plants — as an alternative solution to the safe drinking water challenge.
A new report by Safe Water Network (SWN) says the government needs to spend ₹44,000 crore on 2.2 lakh small water enterprises to provide safe drinking water to about 37 crore people, mostly in urban slums where piped water infrastructure is difficult to build, and in rural areas with contaminated water sources. While such enterprises cost only a fraction of piped water infrastructure, policy changes and at least a doubling of tariffs are needed to help them bridge the safe water gap, says the report released this week.
A recent report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) pointed out that only 18% of the rural population has access to potable piped water, failing to meet the 2017 target of 50%.
3. H1N1 (Swine flu, Also called: pig influenza)
The “H” (hemagglutinin) and the “N” (neuraminidases) are both proteins that are found on the outer shell or envelope of the virus. Different viruses have different hemagglutinin and neuraminidase proteins.
A human respiratory infection caused by an influenza strain that started in pigs.
Symptoms: Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, chills, weakness and body aches. Children, pregnant women and the elderly are at risk from severe infection.
People may experience:
Pain areas: in the muscles
Cough: can be dry
Gastrointestinal: diarrhoea, nausea, or vomiting
Whole body: chills, fatigue, or fever
Also common: headache, shortness of breath, or sore throat
4. Section 66A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000
In 2015, the Supreme Court struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, as unconstitutional.
In a landmark judgment upholding freedom of expression, the Supreme Court has struck down Section 66A of the amended Indian Information Technology Act, 2000 (“IT Act”), a provision in the cyber law which provides power to arrest a person for posting allegedly “offensive” content on websites.
5. Illusion of control
This refers to a form of cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate the extent of their control over external events. It often leads people to believe that they can influence things or events that are actually well beyond their direct influence. The phenomenon is named after a 1975 paper by American psychologist Ellen Langer. The illusion of control is prevalent among gamblers who believe that certain tricks or repeated routines can influence the outcome of bets even though bets are simply chance events influenced mostly just by luck. It can lead to overoptimism about the future and disappointment.
6. S. Korean First Lady arrives in New Delhi
Political symbolism and shared history drive the four-day visit of South Korea’s First Lady Kim Jung-sook, who arrived here on Sunday, said Seoul’s envoy to India.
Ms. Kim has been invited to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of a park in Ayodhya dedicated to Indian-born Korean Queen Heo Hwang-ok.
Queen Heo, originally named Princess Suriratna, is believed to have travelled to the Korean city of Gimhae from Ayodhya in AD 42 as a 16 year old.
The park with a monument was first built in 2000, but is being enlarged with the help of a grant of land from the Uttar Pradesh government.
The First Lady will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, before travelling to Uttar Pradesh, where she will visit the existing park, and the site for the new park, as well as attend Deepavali celebrations along the banks of the Saryu river.
The link with Ayodhya is considered important in South Korea as more than 10% of its population belongs to the influential Kim-Heo clan that Queen Heo and King Kim founded, and many Koreans come as tourists to India each year to visit the park.
7. 1971 war hero passes away
Vice-Admiral M.P. Awati (retd.), who commanded a naval unit of the Eastern Fleet in the 1971 India-Pakistan war and whose actions led to the destruction of an enemy submarine, passed away at his hometown near Satara in Maharashtra on Sunday, the Navy said. Vice-Admiral Awati, a Vir Chakra recipient, was 91.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman described him as an icon in the naval history. “Vice Admiral M P Awati (Retd) #PVSM, #VirChakra passed away; was the commanding officer of a naval unit of the Eastern Fleet, Dec’71. Captured three enemy ships carrying contraband goods. His actions led to destruction of an enemy submarine. An icon in naval history. My homage,” she tweeted.
Navy chief Sunil Lanba said Vice-Admiral Awati’s death marked the end of an era. “A giant of a man, one of our tallest heroes and greatest icons,” he said on the Navy’s Twitter handle.
8. U.P. to get ‘triple talaq pramukhs’
The Uttar Pradesh BJP will soon be appointing around 100 women as ‘teen talaq pramukhs’ across the State to ensure rehabilitation of the victims and their children, a party leader said on Sunday.
Nazia Alam, secretary of the U.P. BJP minority wing, who will be the overall in-charge, said that the triple talaq pramukhs will be appointed for each of the 93 ‘organisational districts’ and six regional units of the saffron party in the State. “Educated women who have sound knowledge of the Shariat and the law and who can bring a social change in the lives of the victims of triple talaq will be appointed as pramukhs,” Ms. Alam said.
She said the candidates will be chosen after Deepavali, followed by a survey in December to ascertain the total number of triple talaq victims in the State.
9. Illinois State braces itself for all-India Congressional race
Of the about 500 Congressional and gubernatorial races this Tuesday, there is one of unique and special relevance to India. The 8th Congressional District in Illinois (IL-08) is witnessing a race in which two people of Indian origin — both first-generation immigrants — are competing against each other for a seat in the U.S. House or Representatives.
Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi, the incumbent, a Harvard-educated lawyer and erstwhile businessman, goes up against Jitendra Diganvker, a businessman and Uber driver, running on the Republican ticket.
The district is strongly Democratic — Hilary Clinton won it by a margin of 22% in 2016 and Democrats have easily won the State of Illinois in the last seven elections. The district is also diverse, with 5% of its voters being Black, 13% Asians and 26% identifying themselves as of Hispanic ethnicity, as per the 2010 Census.
10. Territory says ‘no’ to freedom from France
The South Pacific archipelago of New Caledonia voted against independence from France on Sunday in a long-awaited referendum that capped a 30-year long decolonisation process.
A “yes” vote would have deprived Paris of a foothold in the Indo-Pacific region.
Based on provisional results and with a participation rate of nearly 80%, the “No” vote stood at 56.9% around 1300 GMT, local TV station NC La 1ere reported on its website.
The referendum was the first auto-determination vote to be held in a French territory since Djibouti in the Horn of Africa voted for independence in 1977.
11. ‘Post-policy health conditions must be covered’
All health conditions arising after the inception of a health insurance policy should be covered and cannot be permanently excluded, a committee has recommended to the insurance regulator.
This is among the key recommendations of a committee appointed to look into standardisation of exclusions under health insurance policies. The panel has submitted its report to the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India.
It has said that all health conditions acquired after policy inception, other than those that are not covered under the policy contract (such as infertility and maternity), should be covered under the policy and cannot be permanently excluded.
Thus, exclusion of diseases contracted after taking the policy such as Alzheimer’s , Parkinson’s , AIDs/HIV infection, morbid obesity, etc., cannot be permitted, the panel recommended. “Exclusions for specific disease conditions are incorporated as permanent exclusions in the policy wordings. This result in many claims becoming not payable for diseases being contracted even after the policy has been incepted. Specific cases were highlighted where claims were repudiated when the policy has been in force for 6-7 years for conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, etc,” it said.
The working group, as part of its methodology, met various stakeholders of the health insurance industry including representatives of health insurers, general insurers, life insurers, insurance brokers, third-party administrators, agents, Ministry officials, NGOs, consumer activists, medical experts and reinsurers, and collected their views.
12. Defaulters list: CIC issues notice to RBI chief
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has issued a show-cause notice to RBI Governor Urjit Patel for “dishonouring” a Supreme Court judgment on disclosure of the wilful defaulters’ list.
The CIC has also asked the Prime Minister’s Office, the Finance Ministry and the RBI to make public the letter of the former Governor Raghuram Rajan, on bad loans.
Irked over the denial of information on disclosure of names of wilful defaulters, who have taken bank loans of ₹50 crore and above, by the RBI, the CIC has asked Dr. Patel to explain why a maximum penalty should not be imposed on him for “dishonouring” the court verdict, which had upheld a decision taken by then Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, calling for disclosure of names of wilful defaulters.
Dr. Patel, speaking at the Central Vigilance Commission on September 20, had said the guidelines on vigilance, issued by the CVC, were aimed at achieving greater transparency, promoting a culture of honesty and probity in public life and improving the overall vigilance administration in the organisations within its purview, the CIC noted.
“The CIC feels that there is no match between what RBI Governor and Deputy Governor say and their website regarding their RTI policy, and a secrecy of vigilance reports and inspection reports is being maintained with impunity,” Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said.
13. RBI starts process to set up PCR
The Reserve Bank has initiated steps to set up a wide-based digital Public Credit Registry (PCR) to capture details of all borrowers, including wilful defaulters and also the pending legal suits in order to check financial delinquencies. The PCR will also include data from entities like market regulator SEBI, the Corporate Affairs Ministry and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India to enable banks and financial institutions to get a 360-degree profile of existing and prospective borrowers on a real-time basis.
The RBI has invited expression of interest (EOI) for developing the registry from companies with a turnover of over ₹100 crore in the last three years.
14. For the love of chocolate
The next time a new chocolate variety is launched as part of the popular Cadbury brand anywhere in the world, chances are that it would have been developed in India.
Mondelez, which makes the Cadbury brand of chocolates and Bournvita, has launched a state-of-the-art research, development and quality center in Thane, Mumbai, that would exclusively cater to R&D activities in the chocolate and beverage segment.
This is the global major’s only second such research centre after Bournville in the U.K. that caters to chocolates. In all, Mondelez has 10 such centres spread across countries such as Brazil, Poland, Singapore, France and Germany, focussing on various product segments in which the company is present globally.
That the latest centre dedicated to chocolates has come up in India also highlights the fact that India is one of the most important markets for the global major, which is valued at more than $61 billion.
Mondelez cannot afford to ignore India where it has the lion’s share — more than 60% — in the chocolate segment and is also the highest growth market for the confectioner. Nowhere else does Mondelez have such a significant share of the chocolate market.
The research facility has come up with an investment of $15 million and is spread across more than 12,000 square metres. It houses over 150 specialists, including food scientists, engineers and analytical chemists among others.
The new facility is an upgraded version of the old centre that has been in existence for over two decades.
Some of the products that have been developed at the Thane plant and made available all over the world include Dark Milk, Cadbury 5Star (which is exported to Brazil, Philippines, Malaysia and South Africa) and Bournvita for Nigeria.
Products such as Dairy Milk Crispello, Dairy Milk Lickables, Fuse, 5Star 3D and Bournvita for Women have also been developed in India exclusively for the domestic market.
15. Fairytale finish for Luksika Kumkhum
Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum scripted a dream run, winning her first WTA title with a powerful display against the unseeded Russian Irina Khromacheva in the $1,25,000 L&T Open, at the Cricket Club of India courts on Sunday. A net-chord point off a double-fisted backhand brought an end to a pulsating title match at 1-6, 6-2, 6-3. Luksika won $20,000 and 160 WTA points.
When Irina wrapped up the opening game, breaking her rival’s first service game in under three minutes, the impression was that the Russian was set to dictate terms against the tenacious Thai.
The left-hander continued to dominate, even recovering from three-point deficit of her first service game to win five points and the game with a low drop. The roller-coaster ride was confined to the second game as the one-time World No. 89 took the opening set in quick time.
16. Bagnaia and Martin emerge champion
Italy’s Francesco Bagnaia was crowned World champion in the Moto2 class after coming third in the Malaysian GP and taking an unbeatable lead in the standings. In Moto3, Honda’s Jorge Martin was crowned champion after storming to victory in a nail-biting showdown with title rival Marco Bezzecchi.
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
Tea Research Association (TRA)
Central Information Commission (CIC)
Public Credit Registry (PCR)
18. Things to Remember:
Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena
RBI Governor Urjit Patel
19. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning – (especially of a small animal or child) run with quick light steps, especially through fear or excitement.
Example – ‘he scampered in like an overgrown puppy’
Synonyms – scurry, scuttle, dart, run, rush, dash, race, sprint, hurry, hasten, make haste