Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (September 30, 2018)
1. Mughal-era bridge on Dal Lake to live on
The iconic 17th-century bridge, Oont Kadal, shaped like the hump of a camel and located in the middle of the picturesque Dal Lake in , will be restored through a conservation project with the help of Germany.
Going under the bridge — which features in old film hits such as Arzoo, Jab Jab Phool Khilay, Kashmir Ki Kali and Phir Wahi Dil Laya Hoon — on a shikara treats one to the expanse of the Zabarwan Hills, amid which nestle the famous Mughal-era gardens like the Nishat and Shalimar.
2. Now, undertake a virtual journey on the Railways with Google
Railway enthusiasts worldwide can now undertake a virtual journey with the Indian Railways, one of the largest and the busiest rail networks, on Google’s Arts and Culture platform. The Ministry of Railways, on Friday, partnered with the U.S.-based technology company for an online showcase of its history, museums as well as some of the network’s more scenic routes .
The virtual tour will enable users to explore more than 150 different places associated with the Indian Railways. “Anyone can now explore India’s railways in detail with over 100 exhibitions that bring together more than 3,000 images, 150 videos and 150 iconic locations across India,” Google said in a statement.
“Over 1,51,000 kilometres of track, 7,000 stations, 1.3 million employees and 160 years of history…Indian Railways is one of the most celebrated railway networks in the world,” Google said. “We’re bringing Indian Railways’ heritage and sights to the entire world.”
The project: ‘The Railways — Lifeline of a Nation’, will also bring out the stories of trackmen, station incharge officials and workshop engineers.
3. IMA slams govt.’s move to scrap MCI
Earlier this week, in a move to enhance the governance and the quality of medical education, an Ordinance was issued dissolving the MCI and replacing it with a seven-member Board of Governors (BOG) led by NITI Aayog member Dr. V.K. Paul.
A Bill to replace the MCI with the National Medical Commission (NMC) is pending in Parliament.
The Board of Governors also includes Dr. Randeep Guleria, Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi; Dr. Jagat Ram, Director, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh; Dr. B. N. Gangadhar, Director, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bengaluru; and Dr. Nikhil Tandon, Professor, Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism at AIIMS Delhi.
4. Modi to open Gandhi museum in Rajkot
Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be visiting Gujarat on Sunday to inaugurate multiple projects, including a museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi at the Alfred high School in Rajkot, and a modern chocolate factory set up by Amul in Anand.
Mr. Modi would also inaugurate a gas pipeline project in Kutch and an LNG terminal built by the Gujarat government-promoted Gujarat State Petronet Ltd (GSPL).
In Rajkot, the museum had been set up by the State government at the school from where Gandhiji passed his matriculation in 1887. Renamed Mohandas Gandhi High School after Independence, the school was closed in 2017 after authorities decided to convert it into a museum.
The chocolate plant in Anand district has been set up by Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, which markets dairy products under the brand name ‘Amul’. The plant has been built with investment of ₹190 crore and has a capacity to produce 1,000 tonnes of chocolates of different flavours.
5. The world comes to appraise Swachh Bharat
Delegates from 68 countries attend Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention to learn from the experiment
President Ram Nath Kovind, who inaugurated the event, harked back to the leadership example of Mahatma Gandhi, who not only fought for political independence but also valued human freedom in terms of everyday access to sanitation facilities. “India is striving to eliminate open defecation in its entirety by October 2, 2019. This is the best 150th birthday gift we can give to Gandhiji,” he said.
The delegates left on Saturday evening for a “Gandhi Trail” trip to Gujarat, where they will visit the Sabarmati Ashram and see Swachh Bharat at work on the ground in Punsari village.
6. N. Ravi unanimously elected PTI Chairman
Vijay Kumar Chopra elected Vice-Chairman
N. Ravi, Publisher and former Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, was on Saturday unanimously elected Chairman of the Press Trust of India (PTI). Vijay Kumar Chopra, Chief Editor of the Punjab Kesari Group of newspapers, was elected Vice-Chairman.
Mr. Ravi succeeds Viveck Goenka, chairman and managing director of the Express Group.
The elections took place at a meeting of the Board of Directors of the news agency following the company’s 70th annual general meeting
Mr. Ravi has been the chairman of the India chapter of the International Press Institute and a member of the executive board of the International Press Institute, Vienna.
He was president of the Editors’ Guild of India and had been a member of the National Integration Council from 2006 to 2008.
Mr. Ravi has won several academic awards, including a gold medal in constitutional and international law.
Besides Mr. Ravi, Mr. Chopra and Mr. Goenka, the PTI Board members are Mahendra Mohan Gupta (Dainik Jagran), K.N. Shanth Kumar (Deccan Herald), Vineet Jain (Times of India), Riyad Mathew (Malayala Manorama), Aveek Kumar Sarkar (Anand Bazar Patrika), M.P. Veerendra Kumar (Mathrubhumi), R. Lakshmipathy (Dinamalar), Hormusji N. Cama (BombaySamachar), Justice R.C. Lahoti, Deepak Nayyar, Shyam Saran and J.F. Pochkhanawalla.
7. India to gift 3 MiG-21s to Russia
A highlight on the sidelines of the upcoming India-Russia bilateral summit is likely to be the gifting of three MiG-21 fighter jets to Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin will be in New Delhi on October 4 and 5 for the annual summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Three MiG-21s are scheduled to be handed over to Russians based on a request from their Defence Minister to our Defence Minister. They comprise one Type 75 aircraft and two Type 77 aircraft,” an official source said.
The aircraft to be gifted are in flight-worthy condition and the cost of crating and transportation will be borne by the Russians, another official said.
The MiG-21 has more of emotional value for Russia, as it has the distinction of being the most produced supersonic fighter in history. According to the website militaryfactory.com, close to 11,500 aircraft were built and operated by over 50 countries.
The MiG-21, a product of the Soviet Union, was designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the 1950s. It made first flight in 1956 and entered service in 1959. However, Russia stopped producing the aircraft in 1985, while India continued operating the upgraded variants.
India inducted the MiG-21s in 1963 and got full technology transfer and rights to license-build the aircraft in the country. It is the first supersonic fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force. The IAF still has about 120 MiG-21s in service which will all be phased out of service by 2021-22.
8. Arun Kumar appointed Director-General of RPF
Senior IPS officer Arun Kumar was on Saturday appointed Director-General of the Railway Protection Force (RPF), an order issued by the Personnel Ministry said. He will succeed Dharmendra Kumar, who retires on Sunday. Mr. Kumar, a 1985 batch officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, is serving as Special Director-General of the Border Security Force. He has worked as Joint Director of the CBI and was in charge of probe into the 2008 Aarushi murder case.
9. The lowdown on IL&FS cash crunch
The cash crunch and debt pile-up being faced by Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS), a major infrastructure finance and construction company, has led to concerns about risks in the entire non-banking financial sector, a fear that spooked markets all of last week.
The crisis began when it defaulted on a short-term loan from SIDBI a month ago. This was followed by a series of defaults that led to a ratings downgrade. IL&FS Financial Services, a 100% subsidiary of IL&FS, has also defaulted on loans worth ₹440.46 crore since September 12. The IL&FS funds long-term projects, of over 10 years, but its borrowings are of a lesser duration, which widens the asset liability gap. Broking firm JM Financial pointed out that IL&FS has an aggressive asset liability management profile. According to estimates, while for the one-year bucket, it has a positive mismatch, but for three years there is a 17% negative mismatch. Asset liability mismatch turns negative when the outflow of liabilities are more than the inflow of assets. Incorporated in 1987 and initially promoted by the Central Bank of India, Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited (HDFC) and Unit Trust of India (UTI), IL&FS has a complex structure with 169 subsidiaries. Over the years, its shareholding has broad-based and it inducted institutional shareholders, including the SBI, the LIC, ORIX Corporation of Japan, and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. The LIC is the largest shareholder, with a 25.34% stake followed by ORIX which has 23.54%.
10. IISc team finds new approaches to kill TB bacteria
Oxidative stress can directly damage the DNA, proteins and lipids of most of the bacteria and eventually kill them. However, disease-causing bacteria have evolved mechanisms to survive such stressful conditions. One of the ways bacteria overcome oxidative stress is by condensing or compacting the DNA (nucleoid). Compacted DNA has reduced surface area and hence lower vulnerability to oxidative stress.
The role of several nucleoid-associated proteins produced by bacteria in condensing the DNA is also well known. But for the first time a protein (WhiB4) that condenses the DNA of TB-causing bacteria in response to oxidative stress has been found by a multi-institutional team led by Prof. Amit Singh from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.
WhiB protein action
The active form of WhiB4 protein is produced in the presence of oxidative stress leading to compaction of TB bacterial DNA. The protein level reduces after a while and thus preventing long-lasting condensation, and also allows the compacted DNA to revert to its original state. “We found the WhiB4 protein was helping the TB bacteria to persist within the host when exposed to stressful conditions,” says Dr. Manbeena Chawla, from IISc and one of the first authors of the paper.
11. Skin speaker
Imagine playing a favourite song through the skin. An international team of researchers has now developed a wearable technology that can help one do so. The ultrathin and transparent nanomembrane is embedded with silver nanowire array and can be attached to almost any surface to act as a loudspeaker. They also fabricated a similar device that can be used as a microphone. It can be connected to smartphones, computers and help in the voice-based security system. The study says that the nanomembrane can be fabricated to make wearable sensors and healthcare devices.
12. What is the Open Insulin project?
The Open Insulin (OI) project is a California-based initiative trying to a develop an open-source protocol for manufacturing off-patent insulin, much like movements in the software industry, in the 1980s and 1990s that successfully made open source operating systems. Manufacturing pure insulin in laboratories is fairly expensive and the process is protected by patents. The crowd-funded initiative at OI, which was founded in 2015, hopes to make and refine synthetic insulin from E. coli bacteria and document their process. This, it is hoped, will result in a process that a generic pharmaceutical company can use to make insulin that is affordable for diabetes patients all over the world.
Book – Africanistan — Development or Jihad
Writer – Serge Michailof
Description – In sub-Saharan Africa, why an exploding population presents a clear and present danger to the continent and the world
Book – Darjeeling Reconsidered: Histories, Politics, Environments
Edited by Townsend Middleton & Sara Shneiderman
Description – Darjeeling was transferred to the East India Company in 1835. The book under review seeks to understand the history of Darjeeling from the time of its transfer to its existential crisis in the post-colonial period through the prisms of history, politics and environment.
Book – Treasured Epistles
Writer – K. Natwar Singh
Description – Technology has speeded up communication. But it has spelt the death of the art of letter writing. Instant messaging can never become a record of the past as, say, the letters that leaders of our freedom struggle wrote to each other. They shed light on personal relations and also on the most significant events of that historic period.
In his pre-politician years, as a diplomat and writer, K. Natwar Singh received letters from several well-known people who “extended and enriched” his “Weltanschauung”, as he remarks in the preface to Treasured Epistles. Those whose letters feature in this volume include Indira Gandhi and C. Rajagopalachari, the last Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten, distinguished writers E.M. Forster, R.K. Narayan, Nirad C. Chaudhuri, Mulk Raj Anand and Han Suyin — and even, Jawaharlal Nehru’s two sisters Vijaylakshmi Pandit and Krishna Hutheesing.
Book – Between the Great Divide: A Journey into Pakistan-administered Kashmir
Writer – Anam Zakaria
Description – What binds the two parts of J&K despite limited cultural ties
Book – The Lost History of Liberalism
Writer – Helena Rosenblatt
Description – This book challenges basic assumptions about a political creed that has become a rallying cry in today’s divided public arena. Taking readers from ancient Rome to today, Rosenblatt traces the evolution of the words ‘liberal’ and ‘liberalism’, revealing the heated debates that have taken place over their meaning. We still can’t seem to agree on liberalism’s meaning.
Book – Farmers, Subalterns, and Activists
Writer – Trent Brown
Description – In theory, chemical-free sustainable agriculture has ecological benefits, social and economic benefits for rural communities. In practice, organisations promoting sustainable agriculture often maintain connections with powerful institutions with vested interests. This book explores this tension within the sustainable farming movement through reference to three case studies of organisations in rural India.
Book – The Rise and Fall of the Emerald Tigers
Writer – Raghu Chundawat
Description – A conservation biologist shares his findings from the research he did on Panna tigers, between 1996 and 2006. By 2002-03, the fortunes of Panna’s tigers, and Chundawat’s research, nosedived when the park management changed. This is an account of the politics and administrative apathy plaguing Indian wildlife conservation. He discusses the larger threats to Indian wildlife, and solutions.
Book – At Home with Muhammad Ali
Writer – Hana Ali
Description – This is an intimate portrait of a legend, written by Muhammad Ali’s daughter Hana. As Ali approached the end of his boxing career, he strove to embrace a new purpose and role in life beyond the ring. Despite the complexities of his personal life, he went to great lengths to keep all of his nine children united and to help others.
Book – Neta Abhineta: Bollywood Star Power in Indian Politics
Writer – Rasheed Kidwai
Description – What draws the personalities who entertain us on screen to the world of governance? Kidwai explores why some of Hindi cinema’s top stars from Dilip Kumar, Sunil Dutt, Amitabh Bachchan to Hema Malini and Jaya Prada entered politics. Was it a quest for relevance when their star power dimmed?
14. IAAF ranking system
The world athletics body IAAF is yet to officially release its new world ranking system but it has offered a peep into how it works.
Every performance in an international or national competition will be translated into a score, based on the IAAF scoring table.
Performances in the Olympics and World Championships (OW) will bring the maximum points with the Nationals (F) the least.
Incidentally, the Asian Championship (category GL) is ranked higher than the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games (both category A).
The best five performance points will be totalled and the average will be the athlete’s ranking score in his event.
Also, recent performances in a one-year cycle will have more value with points being deducted from performances older than nine months on the date of rankings.
15. Updated DLS System from today: ICC
The ICC on Saturday announced updated versions of the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) System and its Code of Conduct, which will come to effect from September 30.
The new version of the DLS, introduced in 2014, is based on information from 700 ODIs and 428 T20Is, which comprise over 240,000 outcomes of individual deliveries.
The update has been carried out following a detailed ball-by-ball analysis of scoring patterns, including in the Power Plays, in all limited-over internationals played during the previous four years, according to an ICC media release.
The changes come into effect with the first ODI between South Africa and Zimbabwe in Kimberley.
Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH)
National Medical Commission (NMC)
Indian Medical Association (IMA)
Medical Council of India (MCI)
United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)
Press Trust of India (PTI)
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
17. Things to Remember:
CM of Goa – Shri Manohar Parrikar
CM of Gujarat – Shri Vijaybhai R. Rupani
CM of Haryana – Shri Manohar Lal
CM of Himachal Pradesh – Shri Jairam Thakur
CM of Jammu & Kashmir – President Rule
18. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning 1 – An intensive or sudden military attack.
Example – ‘a heavy artillery blitz’
Synonyms – bombardment, battery, bombing, onslaught, barrage, sally
Meaning 2 – A sudden concerted effort to deal with something.
Example – ‘Rahul and I had a blitz on the cleaning’
Synonyms – all-out effort, effort, exertion, endeavour, onslaught, attack, push, thrust, set-to