Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (October 02, 2018)
1. Govt. puts Uday Kotak in charge to stem IL&FS crisis
The government finally intervened in the IL&FS crisis on Monday, superseding its board and appointing new members, with banker Uday Kotak as chairman.
After a report from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs concluded that the affairs of the IL&FS holding company and its group companies were being conducted in a manner that was prejudicial to public interest, the government moved the National Company Law Tribunal(NCLT) for superseding the Board, which was granted with immediate effect.
The NCLT also approved the induction of six directors recommended by the government. “The new Board shall take up its responsibility with immediate effect, after following due procedures,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.
A probe by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office has also been ordered into IL&FS and its subsidiaries following complaints.
2. From Bihar to Assam via Bangladesh
A 2,085-km trip of two barges kindles hope for India’s inland waterways
Two barges carrying 1,233 tonnes of bagged fly ash from Bihar reached its destination — Guwahati’s Pandu port — on Monday morning to rekindle hope for a transport system that had virtually ended with Partition in 1947.
Around Independence, Assam’s per capita income was the highest in the country primarily because of access for its tea, timber, coal and oil industries to seaports via the Brahmaputra and Barak river systems. The scenario changed after the river routes were cut off and rail and road through the Chicken’s Neck, a narrow strip in West Bengal, became costlier alternatives.
“This has been one of the biggest voyages in recent history covering 2,085 km from Kahalgaon in Bihar to Pandu in Guwahati. This is basically to demonstrate that the inland waterways, both National Waterway 1, or Ganga, and National Waterway 2, that is Brahmaputra, are technically feasible for transportation of barges of 1,500-2,000 tonnes through India-Bangladesh Protocol route,” said Shashi Bhushan Shukla, member (traffic) of Inland Waterways Authority of India.
IWAI officials said the voyage of the barges marked one of the longest hauls in the inland water sector movement in the country. It materialised after the IWAI convinced a cement firm in Assam to use waterways for procuring fly ash, used as raw material in cement and brick industry. The cement plant is near Sonapur, about 30 km east of Guwahati.
The fly ash bags from NTPC’s plant were loaded at Kahalgaon on two 1,000-tonne barges on August 30. The vessels crossed over Bangladesh waters on September 11 and entered Assam on September 26. The movement was slowed in Bangladesh due to heavy current in the river from near Chandpur to upstream Baluchar.
3. Gir sees 21 lion deaths in 19 days
As many as 21 lions have died in Gujarat’s Gir forest since September 12, sending shockwaves through the only abode of Asiatic lions in the world.
Government authorities have attributed the deaths to infighting and viral infection, prompting the State to bring in experts from Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly, and Delhi zoo.
According to the State forest department, 11 lions died between September 12 and 19 in Gir’s Dalkhania and Jasadhar range. Of these 11 lions, carcasses of seven were found in the forest area, while four died during treatment.
Later, between September 20 and 30, 10 more lions which were rescued from the Dalkhania range died during treatment, taking the toll to 21 and making it the worst such tragedy in Gir forest.
4. Justice Gogoi will take over on October 3 as India’s 46th Chief Justice of India and the first top judge from Assam.
5. Plastic ban in six Odisha cities
A ban on storage and sale of plastic bags is all set to come into force in six urban centres of Odisha from Tuesday, coinciding with the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The government will restrict the indiscriminate use of certain types of plastic products in the territorial jurisdiction of five municipalities and municipal corporations, including Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Rourkela and Sambalpur, and in the pilgrim town of Puri.
“Vendors will not be allowed to use polythene sheets of less than 50 micron thickness for storing, transporting, dispensing or packaging of any article or commodity or food items, consumables, milk and milk products and edible oil in sealed manner,” said the government in its order.
Excluded from the prohibited list are plastics for carrying and transporting garbage; containers like cups for milk products, including curd and ice cream; polythene packaging materials used in plant nurseries, horticulture and agriculture; plastic-packaged medicines, blood transportation bags, syringes, samples or specimen bags.
6. Centre initiates probe into type-2 polio virus contamination
The Union Health Ministry has ordered an inquiry into the type-2 polio virus contamination detected in the vials used for immunisation in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Telangana, and has ordered additional immunisation in three States.
The government, which has stepped-up surveillance after the breach, has said, “That all possible precautions have been put in place to ensure that polio doesn’t resurface.’’
The last case due to type-2 wild poliovirus globally was reported from Aligarh in India in 1999.
India was declared polio free in 2014 and the last case was reported on 13 January 2011, when Rukhsar from Howrah was infected with type-1 polio virus.
India eliminated the type-2 strain in 2016, and the type-2 containing poliovirus vaccine (ToPV) was phased out in April 2016. Children born after April 2016 in India have no immunity to type-2 polio virus.
There are three serotypes of poliovirus, each of which causes poliomyelitis. The vaccine used by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the global eradication effort is a trivalent preparation comprising all three serotypes.
Traces of polio type-2 virus were found in some batches of oral polio vaccine (OPV) manufactured by a Ghaziabad-based pharmaceutical company, even as the firm’s Managing Director (MD) was arrested this past week.
7. Concern over India’s low ‘air safety oversight score’
The Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) has expressed concern over India’s low ‘air safety oversight score’, which is lower than that of Myanmar, Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and North Korea in the Asia-Pacific region.
The report prepared by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) shows that the only countries that rank below India are Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, Vanuatu and Samoa.
The ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme seeks to identify if countries have consistently implemented a safety-oversight system. India is one of the 15 countries that are below the minimum target rates.
The APAI also demanded that there be more clarity in the expected number of aircraft India will press into service in the next five years.
8. Navy copter crash-lands, crew safe
A Chetak helicopter of the Navy on a routine training sortie crash-landed at the INS Rajali Naval base at Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu on Monday.
“There were three crew [members] on board. All three are safe,” a Navy spokesperson told The Hindu. The helicopter’s main and tail rotors were damaged.
The Chetak CH 442 was on a training sortie and carried out a ‘hard-landing’ at 09.04 a.m, the Navy said.
9. UPSC allows candidates to withdraw from exams
Claiming that only half of the over 10 lakh aspirants who apply for civil services exam actually write the test, the UPSC on Monday said it has, for the first time, decided to allow candidates to withdraw from the examination if they wish to, according to an official statement.
10. emonstration effect
This refers to the changes that happen to the behaviour of people after they observe the behaviour of others and its consequences. The demonstration effect has been employed by social scientists to explain how events and other developments in one part of the world can lead to subsequent events in other regions. The breakout of a political revolution in one country, for instance, can spark similar revolutions in other countries. Similarly, the success of certain economic policies in some parts of the world can cause other countries to mimic such policies.
11. A beleaguered behemoth and its 169 units
Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd. (IL&FS) was set up in 1987 by the legendary M.J. Pherwani (former chairman of Unit Trust of India, National Housing Bank, etc.) to finance and promote infrastructure projects in the country.
It is now a financial behemoth with assets of over ₹1,15,000 crore — and debt of ₹91,000 crore.
IL&FS is a holding company that operates through 169 other companies that are either subsidiaries, group companies or joint ventures with others. It is/has been associated with landmark projects such as the tunnel under the Zoji La Pass, Delhi-Noida toll bridge, Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) and a host of road, power, water and port projects.
Three of its group companies are listed on the stock markets. They are IL&FS Investment Managers Ltd., IL&FS Engineering and Construction Company Ltd. and IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd. IL&FS was originally promoted by the Central Bank of India, Unit Trust of India and HDFC. Orix Corporation of Japan, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, LIC and SBI joined in as co-promoters later.
What’s the controversy now?
IL&FS Finance, a group company, defaulted in late August on a commercial paper repayment. This was followed by a default by IL&FS on repayment of a ₹1,000 crore deposit to Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI). A series of defaults by the holding company and group outfits followed in the ensuing weeks running up to the annual general meeting of IL&FS on September 29.
That the group was over-leveraged and facing liquidity issues was well known in the market over the last few months leading to ratings downgrades by CARE and ICRA of IL&FS paper to junk status. Yet, the series of defaults in September shocked the markets. When a mutual fund sold the debt paper of a housing finance company at a steep discount to meet its fund redemption obligations in mid-September, the markets pressed the panic button and resorted to wholesale selling of all NBFC shares. The fear set in that defaults by IL&FS, a company rated as important to the system by the RBI, was spreading across the financial system.
12. India backs direct talks with Taliban
India on Monday expressed “readiness” to work towards implementing the Tashkent Declaration of March that called for direct talks with the Taliban without preconditions.
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev during his official speech delivered here suggested a political dialogue between Kabul and the fighters to put an end to the conflict in Afghanistan and to restore regional stability.
In a joint statement at the end of official discussions with the visiting Uzbek leader, both sides pledged to work on the goals of the Tashkent Declaration.
The Tashkent Declaration had called for “direct negotiation with the Taliban without any preconditions.”
The Uzbek leader who is visiting India soon after the visit by his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani is one of the tallest regional leaders to speak on dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban fighters who are challenging President Ghani’s government in large parts of Afghanistan.
The visiting dignitary said India and Uzbekistan agree on key regional security issues and highlighted the defence cooperation.
13. Telcos to submit plan to stop UID-based eKYC
The UIDAI on Monday asked telecom companies to submit within next 15 days a plan to stop using Aadhaar for customer authentication, days after the Supreme Court imposed curbs on the use of the 12-digit unique ID number. A circular has been issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India to service providers such as Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea.
14. U.S., Canada agree on free trade pact
The agreement replaces the 25-year-old NAFTA, which Trump had threatened to cancel
Canada and the U.S. reached a deadline deal on a new free trade pact that will include Mexico, the governments announced late on Sunday, after more than a year of talks to revamp a pact President Donald Trump had labelled a disaster.
The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) updates and replaces the nearly 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which Trump had threatened to cancel. The rewrite “will result in freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth in our region,” said a joint statement from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.
15. U.S.-Japanese pair win Nobel Medicine Prize
Two immunologists, James Allison of the U.S. and Tasuku Honjo of Japan, won the 2018 Nobel Medicine Prize for research into how the body’s natural defences can fight cancer, the jury said on Monday.
Unlike more traditional forms of cancer treatment that directly target cancer cells, Dr. Allison and Dr. Honjo figured out how to help the patient’s own immune system tackle the cancer more quickly.
The award-winning discovery led to treatments targeting proteins made by some immune system cells that act as a “brake” on the body’s natural defences killing cancer cells.
The Nobel Assembly, after announcing the prize in Stockholm, said that the therapy “has now revolutionised cancer treatment and has fundamentally changed the way we view how cancer can be managed”.
In 1995, Dr. Allison was one of two scientists to identify the CTLA-4 molecule as an inhibitory receptor on T-cells.
T-cells are a type of white blood cell that play a central role in the body’s natural immunity to disease.
16. Macedonian referendum backs new name
Macedonian voters on Sunday supported a plan to rename the country, aimed at ending a decades-long spat with Greece and unlocking a path to NATO and EU membership. The Electoral Commission’s official count shows that 91.3% favoured changing the name to North Macedonia. However, only a third of the 1.8 million-strong electorate voted.
17. Gita Gopinath is IMF Chief Economist
International Monetary Fund (IMF) appointed India-born Gita Gopinath as Economic Counsellor and Director of the IMF’s Research Department.
Ms. Gopinath will succeed Maurice (Maury) Obstfeld, who announced he would retire at the end of 2018, an official statement said on Monday.
18. BCCI comes under RTI Act
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is covered under the RTI Act and answerable to the people of the country under its mechanism, the Central Information Commission ruled on Monday.
The commission, the top appellate body in RTI matters, went through the law, orders of the Supreme Court, the Law Commission of India report, submissions of the Central Public Information Officer in the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to conclude that the status, nature and functional characteristics of the BCCI fulfil required conditions of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act.
19. Mushtaque is new HI chief
Mohd Mushtaque Ahmad was named as the new president of Hockey India (HI) on Monday.
Secretary-general: Rajinder Singh; senior vice-president: Gyanendro Ningombam; vice-presidents: Asima Ali, Bhola Nath Singh; treasurer: Tapan Kumar Das; joint secretary: Asunta Lakra, Firoz Ansari; executive members: Arti Singh, M. Renuka Lakshmi, S.V.S. Subramanya Gupta; athlete representatives: R.P. Singh and Joydeep Kaur.
20. New sporting facility in the City of Nawabs
Ekana Stadium set to host West Indies
For as long as one can remember, international cricket in Uttar Pradesh was synonymous with the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur. That monopoly, however, is all set to be challenged come November 6, when the Ekana International Stadium here would host its maiden international game against the touring West Indies.
The newly-built stadium in the state capital has already hosted a handful of domestic games through the last couple of seasons before getting the go-ahead for an international fixture.
21. Instagram names Adam Mosseri as new head
Facebook Inc’s Instagram on Monday announced that Adam Mosseri, the current vice-president of product, will take over as the new head of the photo-sharing app. Instagram’s co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger had recently resigned from the company.
Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO)
Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI)
Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS)
Trivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (TOPV)
International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)
Air Passengers Association of India (APAI)
National Company Law Tribunal(NCLT)
Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI)
Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA)
Hidayatullah National Law University (HNLU)
23. Things to Remember:
Chief Minister of Puducherry V. Narayanasamy
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
24. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning – A great victory or achievement.
Example – ‘a garden built to celebrate Napoleon’s many triumphs’
Synonyms – victory, win, conquest, success