Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (October 24, 2018)
1. SC moves to make festivals less noisy
The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck a balance between the interests of the firecracker industry and the right to public health, allowing the manufacture and sale of only “green” and reduced-emission or “improved” crackers, while banning those that are loud and toxic to man, animal and the environment.
A Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan held that only green or improved crackers would be used during religious festivals and other occasions, including weddings.
In nationwide curbs, the judgment reduced the time for bursting crackers during Deepavali and other festivals to two hours: between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. For Christmas and New Year, the time slot allowed is half-an-hour, between 11.55 p.m. and half-past midnight.
2. Norms for full-body scanner at airports likely next month
The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) is likely to release the technical norms for operating full-body scanners to screen passengers at airports next month, according to a senior government official.
“A committee comprising representatives of the Intelligence Bureau, the National Investigating Agency and the Cabinet Secretariat will be finalising technical specifications for full-body scanners using millimetre wave technology, following which these will be published next month,” a senior official of the Ministry of Home Affairs said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The BCAS had decided to recommend body scanners using active and passive millimetre wave technologies instead of back-scatter and full transmission X-ray technologies after consulting the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), which had expressed concerns about frequent exposure of passengers to X-ray radiation, the official said.
The two types of millimetre wave scanners produce a silhouette of the passenger being screened instead of a naked image, thereby safeguarding the privacy of the individual.
The official added that these scanners would not be mandatory for airports to deploy but could be used in addition to equipment such as door metal frame detectors, explosive trace detectors, explosive vapour detectors as well as pat down searches.
3. O-ring theory
Also known as the O-ring model of economic development, this refers to the theory that even the smallest components of a complex production process must be performed properly if the end product of the process is to have any useful value. In other words, a mistake that creeps into even the smallest of tasks can cause the final product to possess absolutely no value to users. The O-ring theory derives its name from a 1986 incident in which the Challenger space shuttle was completely destroyed as a result of the failure of a simple gasket, or O-ring, to work properly. It was first proposed by American development economist Michael Kremer in 1993.
4. J&K withdraws order to buy Gita, Ramayana
J&K Chief Secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam on Tuesday withdrew an order issued by the Education Department “to procure in bulk Urdu and Kashmiri versions of the Bhagavad Gita and Ramayana in all educational institutions and libraries of Jammu and Kashmir”.
The order was issued on October 4 and came under criticism from political parties and civil society groups after it was circulated online on Monday.
5. India issues demarche to Pakistan
India summoned a senior diplomat from the Pakistan High Commission here on Tuesday and issued a diplomatic note of protest regarding the military casualties suffered on October 21 during a cross-border infiltration attempt from the Pakistani side.
A statement from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) conveyed concern regarding continued infiltration attempts from Pakistan. “It was informed that two Pakistan armed intruders have been killed by the Indian security forces during the ensuing firefight and the Government of Pakistan take custody of the dead bodies of its nationals,” said the statement from the MEA that also declared that the latest infiltration bid revealed Pakistan’s complicity in aiding terrorism in the region.
The Army too lodged a strong protest with its Pakistan counterpart over the recent killing of soldiers.
6. SC to hear Sabarimala petitions on Nov. 13
The lifting of the prohibition at the instance of third parties, in spite of opposition by a large section of women worshippers, was anomalous, the petition said.
A review by the Chetna Conscience of Women has argued that a Pandora’s box would be opened if a constitutional court began entertaining petitions which purely pertain to faith, customs, practices and beliefs.
A separate petition filed by the Akhila Bharatheeya Ayyappa Dharma Prachara Sabha opposed ‘non-Hindu’ women from going to the temple.
7. Bangladesh question looms over Citizenship Bill
As the deadline for a joint committee of Parliament on the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, nears an end, some members asked whether it was possible to present the Bill in a truncated form by excluding Bangladesh. The Bill proposes citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who came to India before 2014.
Violation of equality
The joint committee met on Tuesday to discuss the Bill, posing questions to the Ministries of Home, Foreign and Law whether the proposed law violated provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution that guarantees equality before the law and prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. One of the members also raised concerns if acknowledging the minorities from Bangladesh as “persecuted minorities” would hurt relations with the neighbouring country.
Another member said the draft legislation had unnecessarily led to a volatile situation in the northeast as Assam faced violent protests on Tuesday.
There has been a strong resistance to the Bill in BJP-ruled Assam.
A source told The Hindu that BJP’s Rajendra Agrawal, chairperson of the joint committee, was keen that the report be submitted during the winter session of the Parliament, as the tenure of the committee would lapse.
8. Xi opens world’s longest sea bridge
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday inaugurated a 55-km bridge that will deepen the integration of Hong Kong and Macao with the rest of China.
The world’s longest sea-crossing bridge will be at the heart of an integrated Greater Bay Area (GBA) covering 11 major neighbouring cities, which include Hong Kong, Macao, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. The giant GBA comprising 68 million people is expected to rival the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S., as well as the Tokyo Bay Area of Japan.
From a passenger clearance building of the Zhuhai Port in mainland China, President Xi announced the opening of the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai Bridge (HMZB). Leading officials from the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions as well as from the neighbouring Guangdong province, the industrial heart of China, attended the 9 a.m. ceremony.
The opening of the bridge docks with the start of a bullet train last month between Hong Kong and Guangzhou, the gateway to the rest of mainland China. Analysts see the opening of the HMZB as a symbol validating the ‘One country, Two Systems’ formula under which Hong Kong and Macao have substantial political autonomy while remaining part of China.
The bridge has been built to withstand super-typhoons, a magnitude-8 earthquake, as well as hits by super-sized cargo ships. A 6.7 km underground sea tunnel to allow uninterrupted flow of shipping above, along the super-busy Pearl River Delta, is also part of the bridge’s design. In the end, it will cut the travel time between the three cities from three hours to just 30 minutes. It took about a decade to build the $20 billion bridge.
9. No change in stand on Azhar: China
China on Tuesday reiterated that it had not shifted from its stance of refusing to recognise Masood Azhar as an international terrorist, despite the marked improvement in New Delhi-Beijing security ties following the Wuhan summit in April.
“As to India’s request for the listing of Masood Azhar, we have already stated our position many times,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in response to a question. The spokesperson did not elaborate on her comment.
China’s repeated obstruction to the listing of Azhar, the head of the banned Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad group, in the UN terror log has been an irritant in India-China ties.
But New Delhi-Beijing ties were uplifted across the board by the Wuhan summit in April between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Referring to the signing of a security agreement on Monday during the New Delhi visit of Zhao Kezhi, Chinese Minister of Public Security, Ms. Hua linked it to the spirit of the Wuhan summit. “Now (the) two countries enjoy sound development of bilateral relations. President Xi and Prime Minister Modi held an informal meeting in Wuhan this April,” she said.
10. U.S. will quit N-treaty with Russia: Bolton
Washington is pressing ahead with its plan to quit a nuclear arms control pact, National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Tuesday, signalling that a meeting with Russian leader President Vladimir Putin had not deflected the White House from its plan.
Mr. Bolton had a 90-minute meeting in the Kremlin with Mr. Putin, at which the Russian leader had taken the White House to task over what he said were a series of unprovoked steps against Moscow. “There’s a new strategic reality out there,” Mr. Bolton said, saying that a Cold War-era treaty no longer met the demands of the world as it is now.
Also, Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov said a preliminary agreement has been reached on a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Mr. Putin in Paris on November 11.
11. First woman SC justice in U.S. has dementia
Sandra Day O’Connor, 88, a pioneer in the legal profession who made history in 1981 by becoming the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court and served there for a quarter century before retiring in 2006, announced on Tuesday that she has been diagnosed with dementia. She was seen as a centrist on the conservative-leaning court.
12. World’s oldest shipwreck found in Black Sea
An ancient Greek trading ship dating back more than 2,400 years has been found virtually intact at the bottom of the Black Sea, making it the oldest known shipwreck, researchers said on Tuesday. The vessel is one of more than 60 shipwrecks identified by the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project.
13. H1-B labour certification: TCS in top 10
Software major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is the only Indian company among the top 10 firms to get foreign labour certification for the H-1B visas for the fiscal year 2018.
The company got over 20,000 such certifications, according to official data in which Ernst & Young was ranked No 1.
The H-1B visas are the most sought-after among Indian IT professionals.
The visa programme allows employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in the U.S. on a non-immigrant basis in specialty occupations or as fashion models of distinguished merit and ability.
14. Praggu masters Eljanov
R. Praggnanandhaa (Praggu) gave another evidence of his prowess when he nailed experienced campaigner and Ukraine No. 2 Pavel Eljanov to reach 2.5 points after three rounds of the Isle of Man International chess tournament on Monday.
Currently, the world’s third youngest Grandmaster in the all-time list, Praggu sacrificed his queen against a rival rated at 2703, against his own rating of 2519, and went on to gain a stronghold. Later, he displayed precise technique to prove his superiority in 64 moves.
Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO)
Greater Bay Area (GBA)
16. Things to Remember:
Chinese President Xi Jinping
Russian President Vladimir Putin
17. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning 1 – Fail to resist pressure, temptation, or some other negative force.
Example – ‘we cannot merely give up and succumb to despair’
Synonyms – yield, give in, give way, submit, surrender, capitulate, cave in
Meaning 1.1 – Die from the effect of a disease or injury.
Example – ‘after a few blows there, the porcupine succumbs’
Synonyms – die from, die of, pass away as a result of, be a fatality of