Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (October 29, 2018)
1. Robot trucks to help airlines save on ATF
Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport is set to be the first airport in the country to commence commercial use of TaxiBots — semi-robotic tow trucks — to help airlines reduce use of air turbine fuel during taxiing. SpiceJet and Jet Airways will carry out a live test with these tow trucks on Monday, following which the aviation regulator DGCA will grant approval for their use.
TaxiBot India introduced two semi-robotic tow trucks to IGI in September, which have since undergone several trials. Once the live performance evaluation with passengers onboard the aircraft is successful, the firm will sign commercial contracts with SpiceJet and Jet Airways, company spokesperson Sanjay Bahadur said.
The advanced tow trucks will be used for narrow-body planes of the two airlines and will initially be deployed only for flights departing from IGI.
The company is also in talks with Mumbai and Bengaluru airports for introducing similar operations.
Planes taxi from parking bay to runway or vice versa using their own engines to provide thrust. However, an aircraft can be steered with both its engines off with the help of a TaxiBot, which lifts and holds the aircraft’s nose wheel and transports it from the terminal to runway and back.
2. ₹700-crore project to clean up courts
A ₹700-crore project has been proposed to have clean courts, right from the Supreme Court and the High Courts to the 3,388 lower courts. At a pre-launch function of the ‘Swachh Nyayalaya’ project, Supreme Court judge Madan B. Lokur said that besides construction and maintenance of wash-rooms in over 16,000 court rooms, a mechanism needed to be devised to deal with garbage, and to weed out old case files.
3. Gulf in strategic precepts
Twenty years after exchanging bitter words following New Delhi’s nuclear tests, India-Japan ties exude exceptional warmth. From development assistance to maritime cooperation, both countries view each other as “special strategic and global partners.” But an unsavoury truth is apparent beneath the surface: ties are a mile wide but an inch deep. In 2011, India and Japan began implementing the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement; yet seven years later, bilateral trade has yet to hit even the $20 billion mark. India’s exports to Japan have in fact contracted in four of the past six years. Since early 2010, Japan and India have discussed joint infrastructure projects in third countries, including announcing an Asia-Africa Growth Corridor. But not a single project has taken off, including in Myanmar and the Mekong countries where the two share complementary interests.
The largest gap between form and substance is evident in the area of defence cooperation. The framework of Indo-Japanese defence ties has grown considerably, including the joint declaration on security cooperation, the action plan to advance such cooperation, a defence equipment transfer agreement, a classified military information security protection agreement, and the ongoing logistical support cooperation talks. Yet, 10 years later, the two sides have failed to realise the sale of a single defence article and there exists no conventional threat-specific contingency scenario in which the two militaries can practicably cooperate. The veiled threat to interdict Chinese shipping at the Indo-Pacific’s chokepoints might make for good theatre but is poor policy. Not since the Napoleonic wars has a campaign to interdict the shipping of a major power been successfully mounted — except during a general war.
India and Japan must grapple with the gulf that separates their guiding strategic precepts if they are to transcend the hollow institutionalisation that infects strategic ties. Though swayed by competing currents of Asia-oriented or autonomy-centred diplomacy, Japan, ever since its Meiji opening 150 years ago, has never been able to successfully postulate an order beyond a Western-led alliance framework.
For its part, independent India has never sought to articulate an identity within the framework of an alliance system – be it Western or any other. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi eloquently restated at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, New Delhi remains conspicuously committed to a non-Western, pluralistic model of cooperative security in Asia.
Nuzzling together within a broader anti-China coalition can only go so far in bolstering strategic congruence. Rather, Japan must adopt a more independent-minded approach in the Indo-Pacific that is less attached to the West and more amenable to partners like India.
4. Tullock paradox
This refers to an apparent paradox where the cost or price paid to obtain rent-seeking favours from the government is far lower than the monetary benefits that could be obtained from such bribery. The Tullock paradox is used to wonder why the world is not more corrupt than it is already given the benefits derived from rent-seeking. Many reasons have been cited to explain the paradox. One of them is that the cost of seeking favours from the government is lowered by competition between politicians to pocket bribes from citizens. Politicians demanding lower bribes can outcompete those demanding higher bribes, thus limiting corruption.
5. A flurry of parties ahead of polls
As many as 58 political parties have been registered with the Election Commission in the past three months, taking the total number of registered, unrecognised parties to 2,143.
Of these, 17 are from four of the five States where Assembly elections are being held.
These many new parties were registered between June 20 and September 26. Eight of the new entrants are from Rajasthan, five from Telangana, three from Madhya Pradesh and one from Mizoram.
“The list keeps changing, with new additions and deletions over a period of time,” an EC official said. In all, 255 such parties were de-listed between February and December 2016.
Applications of 13 more parties are currently under the commission’s consideration and public notices have been issued seeking objections.
6. Day One: Modi, Abe hold informal talks
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, held informal talks at a picturesque resort near Mount Fuji and visited a factory making industrial robots on Sunday as they spent eight hours together on the first day of the two-day summit.
Mr. Modi, who arrived in Japan on Saturday evening to attend the 13th India-Japan annual summit, said the partnership had fundamentally been transformed and strengthened as a “special strategic and global partnership”. The summit will seek to review the progress in ties and deepen the strategic dimension of the relationship.
The Prime Ministers visited the FANUC industrial facility, which specialises in automation. “Taking our cooperation to modern and advanced technologies. PM @narendramodi and PM @AbeShinzo visited the FANUC Corporation, one of the largest makers of industrial robots in the world, in #Yamanashi, and toured the robotics and automation facilities,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted. Mr. Modi was briefed about the robotic and automation capabilities of FANUC, officials said.
7. Elite China security team arriving
A delegation from a group responsible for the security of the top seven members of the Chinese leadership will visit New Delhi in November, as security ties between India and China begin to expand.
The delegation, led by Chen Yuantao, Deputy Director-General of the VIP security wing of the Public Security Ministry, will hold talks on November 23 and 24, an official source who did not wish to be named told The Hindu.
The wing is in charge of the security of seven members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo, headed by President Xi Jinping.
The delegation will hold talks with India’s elite Special Protection Group (SPG).
“Both sides are of the view that there could be much to learn from each other regarding VVIP security. This is an important exploratory visit,” the source said.
The Chinese team’s visit comes after Zhao Kezhi, Minister of Public Security, concluded a visit to India earlier this month.
“We have had top-level visits from the Chinese security establishment in the past, but during Mr. Zhao’s visit, there was greater intent to carry forward practical cooperation, especially with India’s police forces,” the source said.
8. NSG without military operations commander
The NSG, which has been without a regular military operations commander for the past six months, has asked the Home Ministry to intervene and appoint an officer from the Army. The post of Inspector-General (Operations) is held by a Major General-rank officer of the Army. The post fell vacant after Shashank Mishra moved to his cadre on promotion.
9. WTO panel to examine India-U.S. export case
The World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) dispute settlement body has set up a panel to examine the U.S.’ complaint against certain export-subsidy measures by India as both the sides failed to resolve the issue at consultation level, an official said. In March, the U.S. dragged India to WTO over export subsidies, saying that these incentives were harming the American firms.
10. Title No. 99 for Federer
The triumph was Federer’s first in more than four months since winning on grass at Stuttgart in June
Roger Federer won his 99th career ATP Tour title here on Sunday, defeating qualifier Marius Copil 7-6(5), 6-4 in the Swiss Indoors final.
A ninth title at Federer’s hometown event in Basel, where he was once a ball boy, matched the nine he won at the Halle grass-court event in Germany.
Final: Roger Federer bt Marius Copil 7-6(5), 6-4.
Semifinals: Federer bt Daniil Medvedev 6-1, 6-4; Copil bt Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-7(8), 6-4.
11. Vinales wins; Marquez crashes out
Spanish rider Maverick Vinales on Sunday secured his first title of the season after he emerged victorious at the Australian MotoGP while Marc Marquez crashed out of the race. The 23-year-old clocked 40 minutes, 51.081 seconds, ahead of Italy’s Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso respectively.
12. Jaipur Foot for Syrian amputees
A special camp will be organised in Syria to fit “ Foot”, an artificial limb, in people wounded in the civil war in the West Asian country.
The Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS), the parent body of ‘Jaipur Foot’, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Syrian organisation Saint James the Mutilated (SJM) for the purpose.
Under the MoU BMVSS will hold a special camp in Syria with the support of Ministry of External Affairs and the Syrian Foreign Ministry.
In the first phase, 500 amputees would be provided with ‘Jaipur Foot’, a release from BMVSS said on Saturday
13. China’s first private rocket fails after launch
The first attempt by a private Chinese company to send a rocket into space has failed. Beijing-based Landscape said that the first and second stage of its ZQ-1 rocket worked normally. Landscape said that “cowling separation was normal but something abnormal happened after the second stage.”
14. Noted author Ntozake Shange passes away
Playwright, poet and author Ntozake Shange, whose most acclaimed theatre piece is the 1975 play For Colored Girls died on Saturday. She was 70. The Tony Award-nominated play describes the racism, sexism, violence and rape experienced by seven black women.
15. No pressure on India to buy F-16 fighters from U.S.: envoy
The United States is not going to put pressure on India to buy F-16 fighter jets or any other defence system, a senior U.S. diplomat has said.
United States Consul General in Mumbai Edgard Kagan said India has purchased more than $15 billion worth of American defence materials and the U.S. is very proud of the expanding defence ties between the two countries.
Asked if there is a threat of the U.S. imposing trade sanctions on India after its multi-billion deal with Russia for the S-400 air-defence system, he did not give a direct answer. “The idea that the U.S. is going to pressure India to buy the F-16 or any other system is not true. We believe that American military systems bring tremendous capability to India or any other country which buys them. But we recognise that India makes its decisions on its own grounds,” he told PTI in an interview.
Mr. Kagan said it is important to recognise that decisions have consequences and India is very well aware where the U.S. stands on a variety of issues. There are also matters that both countries can work closely to resolve, he said.
India recently concluded a $5 billion deal to buy the S-400 air defence missile system from Russia, which could attract U.S. sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act instituted by the U.S. Congress on arms purchases from Moscow.
American lawmakers, however, have allowed the possibility of a presidential waiver.
Mr. Kagan said, “The fact is India has purchased over $15 billion worth of American defence materials and there hasn’t been any hint of a scandal. There hasn’t been one suggestion of any impropriety and that’s very significant. The American defence procurement are transparent… All details are published on the U.S. site.”
This gives certainty to the people buying American products, the U.S. Consul General said. “When you compare the track record of the C-17 purchases for instance, or C-130 purchases, which were all done on budget, on time, and in a very transparent way without a single hint of impropriety with many other defence procurement, the difference is quite striking.” The C-17 and the C-130 are U.S.-made cargo aircraft.
16. Step up Zika surveillance, States told
As hundreds of cases of Zika viral infection continue to be reported from Jaipur in Rajasthan, after this year’s index case was reported on September 22, the Centre has directed all States to intensify vector surveillance and control activities so that the transmission of the vector-borne infection is limited.
The threat perception of a Zika outbreak may not be imminent in Kerala. But the vector which spreads Zika, the hardy Aedes aegypti mosquito, has been thriving in Kerala, responsible for the huge annual dengue epidemics in the State and it may only a matter of time before Zika surfaces in Kerala.
Given the high endemicity of A. aegypti mosquitoes in the State and the fact that this is a new pathogen, Kerala should perceive the threat of a Zika epidemic in the long term, epidemiologists feel.
“In Brazil too, Zika was considered a benign disease till an unusual clustering of microcephaly in neonates (head circumference less than 31 cm in term babies,) raised the hypothesis about the possible connection between Zika infection in pregnancy and microcephaly.
17. Mahila Mall to open on November 14
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will launch Mahila Mall, the first mall in the country with an all-women crew, at 10 a.m. on November 14. Others Ministers of the State Cabinet and senior Kudumbashree officials are expected to be present on the occasion.
The mall, a venture of Unity Group under the Kozhikode Corporation Kudumbasree CDS, is in its final stages of completion. It houses business establishments by around 75 women entrepreneurs or groups, including those from the Kudumbasree fold. “This will be the first mall that opens with full occupancy and all shops in complete running condition,” said M.V. Ramsy Ismail, Kudumbasree Project Officer of the corporation.
The 36,000-square-feet mall in five storeys houses branded outlets, supermarket, and a restaurant on the ground floor, while the first, second and third floors will have boutiques, footwear shops, dry cleaning centres, beauty parlours, banks, and outlets for imported gadgets, opticals, handicrafts, babycare, and home appliances, and bookstalls and electronics shops.
Besides, there are conference rooms, training centres, and underground car parking facility. The Kudumbashree Micro Bazaar, which will be a permanent outlet for Kudumbashree products, will be set up on the premises of the mall. A car wash facility, ATMs, and CDMs will be part of the mall. It will also have a permanent space for She Taxis.
The opening of the mall, which was scheduled for mid-September, was postponed owing to the recent floods in the State.
18. A.P. ranked first, with 10.5% growth
Andhra Pradesh has achieved the number one rank in the country with an average growth of 10.5% during the last four years.
It has surpassed many developed States such as Maharashtra and Gujarat following a “focused approach” and setting high targets for itself.
According to the State Planning Department, the average growth in the country stood at 7.3% during the last four years.
Probably, Andhra Pradesh is the only State to clock the double-digit growth rate.
While Telangana has slipped to the second place, Maharashtra is ranked sixth. Punjab is placed 14th and Karnataka third.
The growth in Andhra Pradesh was 9.2% in 2014-15, the year of bifurcation. Later, it was ranked second. In the subsequent year, it achieved a double-digit growth of 10.6% though its rank had slipped to the 4th place.
19. Ministry gives nod for foreign carriers at Kannur airport
The Union Civil Aviation Ministry has expressed readiness to give permission to foreign carriers willing to operate international flights from the Kannur international airport, which is gearing up for commercial operations from December 9.
Union Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey has formally communicated to the Kannur International Airport Limited (KIAL) authorities that the Ministry is ready to give the nod to foreign carriers that are ready to divert international flights being operated by them to any airports in the country to Kannur.
The KIAL had already taken steps to know the willingness of the foreign carriers in this regard, official sources told The Hindu.
Emirates, Gulf Air, Oman Air, Air Arabia, Qatar Airways, Kuwait Airways, Fly Dubai, Air Asia, Silk Air, Sri Lankan Airlines and Malindo Air are the airlines that have evinced interest in Kannur.
Bilateral traffic rights are not an issue for commencing flight operations to West Asia and other sectors from Kannur.
Air Turbine Fuel (ATF)
Kannur International Airport Limited (KIAL)
21. Things to Remember:
Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy
Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi
22. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning – Come or bring together for a meeting or activity; assemble.
Example – ‘the committee had convened for its final plenary session’
Synonyms – summon, call, call together, order, assemble, gather, meet, get together, come together, congregate, collect, muster