Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (October 28, 2018)
1. Sirisena suspends Parliament
Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena on Saturday suspended Parliament, a day after he sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replaced him with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, plunging the island nation into political turmoil.
Through an extraordinary gazette, Mr. Sirisena said Parliament was prorogued until November 16.
The announcement came just as Mr. Wickremesinghe declared he had the majority in Parliament.
“Reconvene Parliament immediately so that I can prove my majority,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said at a press conference, flanked by Muslim and Malayaha (hill country) Tamil leaders, who are part of his United National Front. “Let us get this controversy out of the way,” he added.
Meanwhile, members of the Sirisena-Rajapaksa combine said they too had a majority of “120 plus” in the 225-member House.
While a confidence vote in Parliament might have put their competing claims to test, Mr. Sirisena’s decision has now deferred the possibility by about two weeks, fanning rumours of cross-overs between the two camps.
2. New Delhi pins its prestige on Mauritius project
As work gets under way on one of India’s prize projects in the Indian Ocean to upgrade facilities on the Agalega islands in Mauritius, the government is watching a battle brewing in the Mauritius parliament over the project.
After facing resistance over placing its helicopters in the Maldives’ Addu Atoll and the virtual cancellation of its project to develop the Assumption Island in the Seychelles earlier this year, New Delhi is moving swiftly but quietly to ensure its project in Mauritius — to construct a jetty, rebuild and extend the runway, and build an airport terminal — does not run into trouble.
The $87 million project, to be funded by India, has been awarded to AFCON construction group and RITES engineering consultancy. Surveys have begun to fulfil the contract signed on September 28 this year, which stipulated that construction begin by February 12, 2019, and be completed in 2021.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth’s government faced tough questions in the National Assembly over Indian involvement in the project and its costs and whether it would involve a military component.
3. S.K. Mishra is ED’s interim Director
The Centre appointed Indian Revenue Service officer Sanjay Kumar Mishra as interim Director of the Enforcement Directorate for three months on Saturday.
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cleared his name on the last day of the tenure of the incumbent Karnal Singh.
Mr. Mishra has been appointed Principal Chief Director of the ED. He will be the interim Director for three months or till further orders, says a notification issued by the Department of Personnel and Training.
4. Nagaland split over centenary celebrations of club that united warring tribes
Kohima, the only theatre of the Second World War in the Indian subcontinent, is gearing up for the centenary of an ethnic club moulded by events during the First World War in faraway France.
But the Nagaland capital is divided over who has the right to celebrate the special day of the club that unified disparate Naga tribes and laid the foundation of an armed movement for secession from India.
The stand-off is between the influential Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) and members of the 100-year-old Naga Club. The NSF doubts the credibility of the members since the Naga Club of 1918 became dormant in 1982, while the latter say the students’ body should not dictate terms just because it “took over” the club building in 1983.
The club building is not far from the landmark Kohima War Cemetery, an iconic reminder of a fierce battle in 1944 between the British-led Allied forces and the Japanese army alongside Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army.
The British government had during the First World War recruited 2,000 labourers and porters from some 15 Naga tribes and sent them to fight in France between 1914 and 1918. Alienated from other British Indian troops on European soil, the Nagas developed a sense of unity.
Many of them returned, and under the leadership of R.S. Ruichumhao, formed the Naga Club along with some British officials in 1918. The club provided the foundation for the Naga nationalist movement. In 1929, members of the club submitted a memorandum to the Simon Commission, proposing self-rule by the Nagas after the departure of the British from India.
The Naga Club was later overshadowed by the Naga Hills District Tribal Council formed in 1945, which metamorphosed into a political organisation called Naga National Council (NNC). Under the legendary Angami Zapu Phizo, the NNC waged a war of independence against the Indian Union in the 1950s.
5. Centre files Rafale deal details in SC
The Centre on Friday submitted to the Supreme Court details of the decision-making process for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets in a fly-away condition from France’s Dassault Aviation.
The details of the decision-making process were filed with the Secretary General of the Supreme Court in a sealed cover as directed by the Court on October 10 while hearing a PIL by advocate M.L. Sharma.
Directing that the information be furnished in a sealed cover and should reach the court by October 29, the court had said it was not issuing notice to the respondents.
The court had sought information from the government as Attorney General K.K. Venugopal said the purchase of the French fighter aircraft concerned national security and described the petition as a “political interest litigation”.
Mr. Sharma had referred to the pricing of the aircraft that had been quoted at different points of time before different forums to stress that the price being paid by India was high.
6. Processing fee waived for devotional TV channels
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has waived the processing fee of ₹50,000 for temporary uplinking and downlinking of devotional TV channels, sources said on Saturday. Yoga guru Ramdev thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore for the move.
7. Malik scraps Reliance contract
Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik on Saturday scrapped a State government contract given to Reliance General Insurance Company (RGIC) and directed the Anti-Corruption Bureau to review the entire process in relation to the granting of contract.
“Taking a well-informed view on all aspects and the concerns about the process involved, the Government is of the opinion that in the interest of the government and for enhanced transparency, it would be judicious not to proceed further in the contract with the insurance firm,” said a spokesman for the State government. “A decision has been taken to foreclose the contract,” the spokesman added.
The J&K government had picked RGIC to provide a group health insurance policy to its employees and pensioners.
8. A drive to register citizens
The Supreme Court on October 8 issued notice to the Centre and the Election Commission on a public interest litigation petition by a non-political forum seeking an exercise, similar to the one done in Assam, to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Tripura. Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarma, son of Tripura’s last king, filed an affidavit in the court a fortnight later in favour of the NRC. A long-standing demand of Tripura’s ‘tribal nationalists’ for deportation of illegal migrants from Bangladesh resulted in these petitions, widening the gap between the indigenous people and non-tribal settlers, mostly Bengali Hindus and some Muslims.
What is the demand about?
Tripura is often cited in the northeastern region as an example of how migration can alter the demographic pattern of the State. Census data show the population of Tripura’s 19 Scheduled Tribes dropped from 63.77% in 1881 to 31.78% in 2011. This is attributed to the migration of 6.10 lakh Bengalis — the figure almost equal to the State’s total population in 1951 — from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) between 1947 and 1971. Going by the language census of 2011, Tripura has 24.14 lakh Bengali speakers, thrice the 8.87 lakh who speak Kokborok, the language of the largest tribal group. Unlike the NRC of Assam, where the cut-off date for excluding the putative foreigners is March 24, 1971, tribal groups in Tripura want July 19, 1948, as the date of determining migrants as per the provision of Indian nationality laws for people who migrated from territories that became East Pakistan. The Tripura People’s Front suggested this cut-off date in its petition. The petition followed former extremist leader and chief of Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl’s meeting with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
Where does the NRC stand?
Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb initially rejected the demand for the NRC, but said later that his government would undertake the exercise if it succeeded in Assam. The ruling BJP’s ally Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura – behind the Twipraland demand – favours the NRC.
9. World’s smallest optical gyroscope developed
Scientists have developed the world’s smallest optical gyroscope – a device that helps vehicles, drones and handheld electronic devices know their orientation in 3D space. The new gyroscope, described in Nature Photonics, is 500 times smaller than the current best device.
Originally, gyroscopes were sets of nested wheels, each spinning on a different axis, said researchers from the California Institute of Technology in the U.S. However, today’s cellphones have microelectromechanical sensor, the modern-day equivalent, which measures changes in the forces acting on two identical masses that are oscillating and moving in opposite directions.
These MEMS gyroscopes are limited in their sensitivity, so optical gyroscopes have been developed to perform the same function but with no moving parts and a greater degree of accuracy using a phenomenon called the Sagnac effect, named after French physicist Georges Sagnac.
The smallest high-performance optical gyroscopes available today are bigger than a golf ball and are not suitable for many portable applications, researchers said. As optical gyroscopes are built smaller and smaller, so too is the signal that captures the Sagnac effect, which makes it more and more difficult for the gyroscope to detect movement, they said. Up to now, this has prevented the miniaturisation of optical gyroscopes.
10. Machine ethics
With the wide development of AI, questions of machine ethics arise in many contexts, for example in self-driving cars. A human driver might brake hard to save a pedestrian, while subjecting the passengers to a risk in a move that is decided by a moral value. A self-driving car will have to make such judgements based on encoded machine ethics. A machine ethics survey of 2.3 million people, published in Nature, indicates that deciding on a universal rule in such matters would be difficult. The survey presented13 scenarios in which someone’s death was inevitable, and the people surveyed had to choose whom to spare. The data showed there were no universal rules, and therefore it is impossible to come up with a perfect set of rules for robots.
11. What is the ghost of Cassiopeia?
About 550 light years away in the constellation of Cassiopeia lies IC 63, a stunning and slightly eerie nebula. Also known as the ghost of Cassiopeia, IC 63 is being shaped by radiation from a nearby unpredictably variable star, Gamma Cassiopeiae, which is slowly eroding away a cloud of dust and gas. The Gamma Cassiopeiae is a blue-white subgiant that is surrounded by a gaseous disc, which is 19 times more massive and 65,000 times brighter than our sun. It also rotates at the incredible speed of 1.6 million km per hour — more than 200 times faster than our parent star and releases radiation. The radiation of Gamma Cassiopeiae is so powerful that it even affects IC 63 and bestows an eerie appearance that gives it its ghostly aura.
Book – Thanjavur’s Gilded Gods: South Indian Paintings in the Kuldip Singh Collection
Writer – Anna L. Dallapiccola with Kuldip Singh and R.G. Singh
Description – With material on all aspects of Thanjavur paintings, from design, colours, the use of gold leaf to conservation, this collection is a treasure
Book – On Jim Corbett’s Trail and Other Tales from the Jungle
Writer – A.J.T. Johnsingh
Description – A naturalist ventures into the forests to capture the reality of nature, which can be terrifying, magical, static and cinematic
Book – Is this Azaadi?
Writer – Anand Chakravarti
Description – A moving document of Dalit struggles in rural Bihar
Book – The Twice-Born — Life and Death on the Ganges
Writer – Aatish Taseer
Description – A writer, sure of himself elsewhere, stumbles in Benares
Book – What China and India Once Were
Writer – Edited by Sheldon Pollock, Benjamin Elman
Description – A new book explains how two cultural giants arrived at their present state, considering their commonalities and divergences. In jointly composed chapters, writers explore ecology, polity, gender relations, religion, literature, science and technology. It establishes innovative frameworks for understanding the historical and cultural roots of East and South Asia in the global context.
Book – Gene Machine
Writer – Venki Ramakrishnan
Description – The winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry tells the story of the race to uncover the ribosome’s complex structure, a key breakthrough that resolves an ancient mystery of life and could lead to the development of better antibiotics. Older than DNA itself, the ribosome is the mother of all molecules. It is the machine that decodes the information in DNA.
Book – Shades of Truth
Writer – Kapil Sibal
Description – An eminent lawyer and senior politician reflects on the actions of the Modi government since 2014 and argues that it revels in the past without solving problems of the present and preparing for future challenges. Sibal takes on the government on many fronts, from assault to democracy to Aadhaar and privacy, even as he assesses policy decisions of the UPA government.
Book – The Origins of Dislike
Writer – Amit Chaudhuri
Description – In a diverse collection of essays, Chaudhuri explores the way in which writers understand and position their own work in antithesis to, and affinity with, writers and movements that have gone before. As he writes in the introduction, it as “an attempt… to understand the writer’s relationship to literary history, and the way it and the writer define each other.”
Book – The Skripal Files
Writer – Mark Urban
Description – In March, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were enjoying a Sunday in Salisbury, England, unaware that they had been poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. This book explores the time Skripal spent as a spy in Russian intelligence, how he was turned to work as an agent by MI6, and his release in a swap that brought him to Salisbury.
13. Chris Broad completes triple century of ODIs
Chris Broad became only the second member of the ICC Elite Panel of Match Referees to reach 300 ODIs when he walked out for the toss in the third match between India and the West Indies here on Saturday.
Even though Broad made his ODI debut as an official in Auckland in 2004, 11 years after Ranjan Madugalle refereed in his opening match in Karachi, the Englishman now trails the Sri Lankan by only 36 ODIs.
Jeff Crowe of New Zealand is third on the list with 270, while former India fast bowler Javagal Srinath has officiated in 212. Roshan Mahanama retired in 2015 after refereeing in 222 ODIs.
Broad is presently sitting on 98 Tests and will become the second referee after Madugalle to complete a unique double by reaching the 100-Test mark in the second Test between New Zealand and Bangladesh in Wellington in March, 2019.
Madugalle also leads Broad 92-89 on a head-to-head in T20Is.
Broad became an elite match referee in 2004, a year after refereeing in his maiden Test in Hamilton, and has since refereed in all the ICC Cricket World Cups.
To mark the occasion, a memento was presented to Broad before the start of the match.
14. Sports scribe Shome is no more
Veteran sports journalist M.N. Shome passed away here recently. He was 90.
Shome wrote for various publications and was associated with the Indian Olympic Association and the Jawaharlal Nehru Hockey Trust as media consultant for a long time.
He had covered many international competitions, including the Olympics and Asian Games.
National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS)
Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs)
16. Things to Remember:
CM of Punjab Shri Capt. Amarinder Singh
Governor of Punjab Shri V.P. Singh Badnore
CM of Rajasthan Smt. Vasundhara Raje
Governor of Rajasthan Shri Kalyan Singh
CM of Sikkim Shri Pawan Kumar Chamling
Governor of Sikkim Shri Ganga Prasad
CM of Tamil Nadu Shri Thiru Edappadi K. Palaniswami
Governor of Tamil Nadu Shri Banwarilal Purohit
CM of Telangana Shri K Chandrasekhar Rao
Governor of Telangana Shri E.S Lakshmi Narasimhan (Add. Charge)
17. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning 1 – (of a problem or difficulty) trouble (someone or something) persistently.
Example – ‘she was beset with self-doubt’
Synonyms – plague, bedevil, attack, assail, beleaguer, afflict, torment, torture, rack, oppress, trouble, worry, bother, harass, hound, harry, dog
Meaning 1.1 – Surround and harass.
Example – ‘I was beset by clouds of flies’
Synonyms – surround, besiege, hem in, shut in, fence in, box in, encircle, ring round, enclose