Current Affairs for NDA/CDS/AFCAT/Airforce X&Y Groups
News Analysis from THE HINDU (October 15, 2018)
1. Windmills are not so green for wildlife
Windmills are seen as a source of green energy, but researchers say they pose a threat to wildlife in forests through collisions and noise.
The impact of the giant structures in Karnataka was studied by researchers from Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON) during a two-year project. They found that windmills killed birds and bats in collisions, and that birds and mammals also moved away due to the noise.
The noise levels near windmills go up to 85 decibels (dB), the equivalent of large trucks. The drone of a turbine, which operates day and night, is above 70dB. By comparison, noise in urban areas is 55 dB and even in industrial areas, is lower at 75dB. Ambient noise in forests is less than 40 dB.
Such avoidance and movement to [forest] fringes might increase conflict with humans. This calls for protocols and policy guidelines before diverting forest land for wind farms, states the study funded by Karnataka Forest Department, Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited (KREDL) and National Institute of Wind Energy.
Karnataka has diverted 37.80 sq. km of forests for wind farms, Union Environment Ministry data show. KREDL says that there are more than 3,857 wind turbines generating 4,730 megawatts of electricity.
2. Allahabad may become Prayagraj
What’s in a name? For the BJP-led government in U.P. it’s a lot, as it has begun moves to soon change the name of Allahabad to Prayagraj. While the government views it as a tribute to the Sangam city ahead of the 2019 Kumbh Mela, Opposition parties questioned the logic behind it. A proposal to change the name was passed in the Kumbh Mela Margdarshak Mandal meeting held in Allahabad on Saturday.
3. Action plan to combat air pollution in Delhi to kick in today
An emergency action plan will be implemented from Monday to combat air pollution that has begun to show a trend towards very poor category, the Central Pollution Control Board said. Under the emergency plan, called the Graded Response Action Plan, stringent actions are implemented based on the air quality of Delhi.
4. Looking back at Verma report
The Centre has planned to set up a panel of judges to look into the legal framework to curb sexual harassment at workplaces. However, in 2013, the J.S. Verma Committee had recommended the setting up of an employment tribunal instead of an internal complaints committee, in sweeping changes to the Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Bill.
5. 2013 report wanted changes to sexual harassment law
The Centre recently announced its plan to set up a panel of judges to look into the legal and institutional framework to curb sexual harassment at workplaces following the #MeToo campaign on social media.
However, as early as 2013, the Justice J.S. Verma Committee, in its landmark report on gender laws, had recommended setting up of an employment tribunal instead of an internal complaints committee (ICC) in sweeping changes to the Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Bill.
The panel was formed in the aftermath of the December 16 Nirbhaya gangrape in 2012 and the ensuing nationwide protests, and submitted its report on January 23, 2013.
At that time of the submission of the report, the Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill had already been passed by the Lok Sabha and was awaiting the Rajya Sabha’s nod. The Bill was passed unchanged by the Upper House a month later.
The Committee, chaired by Justice Verma and including Justice Leila Seth and senior lawyer Gopal Subramanium, termed the Sexual Harassment Bill “unsatisfactory” and said it did not reflect the spirit of the Vishakha guidelines — framed by the Supreme Court in 1997 to curb sexual harassment at the workplace.
The report noted that an internal complaints committee as laid down under the then proposed law would be “counter-productive” as dealing with such complaints in-house could discourage women from filing complaints. Instead, the committee proposed forming an employment tribunal to receive and adjudicate all complaints.
To ensure speedy disposal of complaints, the Justice Verma Commitee proposed that the tribunal should not function as a civil court but may choose its own procedure to deal with each complaint.
Onus on employer
The Committee said any “unwelcome behaviour” should be seen from the subjective perception of the complainant, thus broadening the scope of the definition of sexual harassment.
The Verma panel said an employer could be held liable if he or she facilitated sexual harassment, permitted an environment where sexual misconduct becomes widespread and systemic, where the employer fails to disclose the company’s policy on sexual harassment and ways in which workers can file a complaint as well as fails to forward a complaint to the tribunal. The company would also be liable to pay compensation to the complainant
The panel also made several suggestions to encourage women to come forward and file complaints. For instance, it opposed penalising women for false complaints and called it an “abusive provision intended to nullify the objective of the law”.
The Verman panel also said that the time-limit of three months to file a complaint should be done away with and a complainant should not be transferred without her consent.
6. The shortlists for the best Indian literary fiction and non-fiction work were also announced.
Half the Night is Gone by Amitabha Bagchi, A Day in the Life by Anjum Hasan, All the Lives We Never Lived by Anuradha Roy, Requiem in Raga Janki by Neelum Saran Gour, Poonachi by Perumal Murugan (Translated from Tamil by N. Kalyan Raman), The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die by Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay (Translated from Bengali by Arunava Sinha) were the works shortlisted in the fiction segment.
In the non-fiction segment, a new addition this year, Interrogating My Chandal Life by Manoranjan Byapari, The Bengalis by Sudeep Chakravarti, Remnants of a Partition by Aanchal Malhotra, Indira Gandhi: A Life in Nature by Jairam Ramesh and The Most Dangerous Place by Srinath Raghavan, made it to the shortlist.
7. IRCTC’s chatbot for customer support
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited has launched AskDisha, a chatbot powered by artificial intelligence, to troubleshoot customers’ travel-related queries. AskDisha will support several regional languages and will be voice-enabled.
8. Chennai Port gets a new cruise terminal
A modernised cruise terminal was inaugurated at the Chennai Port on Friday. Built at a cost of ₹17.24 crore, it offers a host of amenities to cater to cruise tourists and liners. The terminal will have 10 immigration counters.
9. October 15 is observed, respectively, as International Day of Rural Women by the United Nations, and National Women’s Farmer’s Day (Rashtriya Mahila Kisan Diwas) in India.
In 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare decided to take the lead in celebrating the event, duly recognising the multidimensional role of women at every stage in agriculture — from sowing to planting, drainage, irrigation, fertilizer, plant protection, harvesting, weeding, and storage.
This year, the Ministry has proposed deliberations to discuss the challenges that women farmers face in crop cultivation, animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries. The aim is to work towards an action plan using better access to credit, skill development and entrepreneurial opportunities.
10. Bonding with Africa, in partnership
Chinese President Xi Jinping grabbed headlines last month after announcing a hefty $60 billion package for Africa. African leaders have been naturally ecstatic after Mr. Xi’s announcement in Beijing at the inaugural of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). At the FOCAC, a triennial assemblage of African and Chinese leaders, the 50-plus African leaders and their Chinese hosts charted big plans to build roads, power plants, and railways and much more in Africa.
Ahead of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg in July, when Mr. Xi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Rwanda almost at the same time
The mandarins in Beijing were referring to the mechanism yielded by the Wuhan informal summit in April between Mr. Xi and Mr. Modi, where it was decided that China and India would coordinate their approaches for engaging a third country or set of countries in South Asia and beyond. The Chinese also described Beijing and New Delhi as “like-minded partners” in Africa.
Meanwhile Russia has already launched an initiative to bond with Africa. South Africa, the host of the recent BRICS summit and co-chair of FOCAC in Beijing, will always remain the natural gateway for a vibrant emerging economy engagement with Africa.
This refers to a digital encoding technique that is used to achieve the deliberate distortion of digital signals in order to prevent an unauthorised reception. It is achieved through the use of a device called scrambler or randomiser. Scrambling helps telecommunication service providers to offer their services only to customers who are willing to pay, thus helping them sustain their business models. Signals that are distorted by the sender need to be unscrambled through the use of an appropriate descrambling device. This helps prevent the theft of digital signals.
12. T.N. notifies compensation for sexual abuse victims
The State government has notified the Tamil Nadu Victim Compensation Scheme for Women Victims/Survivors of Sexual Assault/Other Crimes, 2018, in line with the Supreme Court judgment delivered last month. A bench led by Justice Madan B. Lokur had approved the suggestion for compensation while hearing the Nipun Saxena Vs Union of India case and directed that the guidelines be made operational.
Under the scheme, a rape survivor will get a minimum compensation of ₹4 lakh. In the case of a survivor of gang rape, the compensation would be ₹5 lakh. If the woman has lost her life, her dependant would be entitled to a compensation of ₹7 lakh. The maximum compensation that could be granted in cases of loss of life as well as gang rape is ₹10 lakh and the maximum compensation for rape could be ₹7 lakh, as per the scheme.
13. Special forces in India-U.S. exercise
The first India-U.S. tri-services exercise is likely to take place in 2019, and talks are on to include the special forces of the two countries in the drill, a senior U.S. defence official has said.
The three forces of each country already take part in bilateral exercises separately — their Armies participate in an annual drill called Yudh Abyaas, whose latest edition took place in September, and the Air Forces take part in a bilateral drill called Cope India.
The Navies participate in an exercise called Malabar, involving Japan.
But this will be the first time, the three services of India and the U.S. will participate in a drill together.
“The first one will be in India, and it will take place in 2019. It would include all our services, plus we are kind of scoping the exercise right now to include each of the services’ special operations forces. That is very exciting. This is under discussion right now … essentially all our services, plus potentially the special operations forces,” Brigadier-General David E. Brigham said.
An initial planning conference will be held to discuss the scale of the exercise, he said.
No date has been fixed for the joint drill yet, Mr. Brigham said.
The drill may take place sometime in late August because U.S. naval ships could be in the region around that time.
The drill will focus on a United Nations-based scenario and the overarching mission of humanitarian assistance, disaster relief measure, the U.S. Brigadier-General said.
He said India was the “natural humanitarian disaster relief hub” in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Indian Army has Para SF, the Navy has Marcos while the Air Force has the Garud as their respective special forces.
Though the joint tri-services drill was formally announced after the first 2+2 dialogue between the principals of the External Affairs and Defence Ministries of the two countries last month, work on it had begun much before.
14. Centre to develop ‘model shelters’ for homeless
The Centre will develop “model shelters” for urban homeless in States, equipped with facilities such as playground, television and common kitchen, an official said. According to the Housing Ministry, two model shelters will be developed in each State under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Urban Livelihoods Mission.
15. Monjin sets about honing job seekers’ skills
Monjin, a video interviewing and assessment platform, has set up a network of candidates (job seekers) and interviewers (certified interviewers) to enhance the skill of the former to make them job ready in the global market.
Domain experts (retired people or working senior executives) registered on the company’s platform are being deployed to interview job seekers in their preparatory stages and helping them upgrade to face real job interviews confidently.
There is a growing trend among professionals to mentor job seekers and earn some extra money. Human resource (HR) tech platforms such as Monjin are capitalising on such ‘interviewers’ to assess and evaluate the skills of their candidates to reduce the rate of rejections.
16. Dominant India gallops to an emphatic series victory
It was a symbolic performance from fast bowler Umesh Yadav, who returned with a maiden 10-wicket haul in his 40th Test, to emphasise the fact that India has emerged a formidable force in this department in contemporary cricket.
It was a stunning effort on a pitch which offered little help. And, one which could make even the West Indies — having produced some legendary pace bowlers in the past — envious.
The 30-year-old Umesh, the lone pace bowler in the line-up with debutant Shardul Thakur injured on first day after bowling just 1.4 overs, fashioned India’s convincing, 10-wicket win over the West Indies (with floodlights on in an extended session) in the second Test at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Sunday.
17. Garcia clinches Tianjin Open
Caroline Garcia won her first title of the year as the French player defeated Karolina Pliskova to edge a nervy Tianjin Open final on Sunday. The 16th-ranked Garcia battled through a narrow first set before streaking away in the second to beat the Czech top seed 7-6 (9/7), 6-3.
18. First kids TV show on sexual abuse
The world’s first children’s television series about sexual harassment will be screened next year, its Italian makers said.
Jams will tell the story of an 11-year-old girl called Joy who is harassed by a powerful family friend, a lawyer who plays football with her father. The show, aimed at nine to 14-year-olds, is the first ever to be fully dedicated to tackling the delicate subject, said broadcaster Rai.
The series is now being directed with the supervision of a neuropsychological team from a hospital in Rome that specialises in this area, the makers said.
Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) director
Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS)
Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC)
Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON)
20. Things to Remember:
Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma
Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri
Chinese President Xi Jinping
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat
21. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning 1 – Deferential respect.
Example – ‘they paid obeisance to the Prince’
Synonyms – respect, homage, worship, adoration, reverence, veneration, respectfulness, honour, submission, deference
Meaning 1.1 – count noun A gesture expressing deferential respect, such as a bow or curtsy.
Example – ‘she made a deep obeisance’
Synonyms – bow, curtsy, bob, genuflection, salaam, salutation