News (Text)


When:
December 8, 2018 @ 11:30 am
2018-12-08T11:30:00+05:30
2018-12-08T11:45:00+05:30

NEWS

8 DECEMBER 2018

Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS III: CORRUPTION

ED raids Robert Vadra’s staff

2.

GS II: POLITY – EXECUTIVE

Rajan’s student is new CEA

3.

GS II: GOVERNANCE – POLICY

Hype around surgical strikes unwarranted: Lt. Gen. Hooda

4.

GS III: SECURITY

NSCN(K) faction asks Centre to revive ceasefire

5.

GS III: AGRICULTURE

M.S. Swaminathan calls GM crops a failure, Centre’s adviser faults paper

6.

GS III: INFRASTRUCTURE

DGCA draws flak for its 737 Max fix

7.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

Expired dart fired on Avni, says probe body

8.

GS II: SOCIAL – UNREST

U.P. police search for Army jawan

9.

GS II: SOCIAL – MEDIA

Social media sites told to filter content using AI

10.

GS I: CULTURE

HC stays Art of Living event at Big Temple

11.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – USA

U.S. fails in its UN bid to decry Hamas movement

12.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – USA

‘Huawei affair won’t hit trade talks’

13.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – USA

Address common concerns, China tells U.S. and N. Korea

14.

GS III: ECONOMY – INDICATORS

Current account deficit widens to 2.9% in Q2

15.

GS III: ECONOMY – INDICATORS

Liquidity stress has abated, says SEBI chief

16.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

Ex-CEA moots NBFC asset quality review

17.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

Luxembourg offers free mass transit for all

GS III: CORRUPTION

ED raids Robert Vadra’s staff

  • The Enforcement Directorate said it conducted searches on the premises of three persons, including two employees of Robert Vadra, Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law, in connection with defence deals.
  • The move drew a sharp reaction from Mr. Vadra’s lawyer, who termed it “politics of revenge and malicious vendetta.”
  • According to the agency, the suspects had acquired assets abroad, allegedly using commissions from some defence deals.

GS II: POLITY – EXECUTIVE

Rajan’s student is new CEA

  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has cleared the appointment of Krishnamurthy Subramanian as the Chief Economic Adviser for three years, according to an official notification issued.
  • Like former CEA and RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, he is also an alumnus of the IIT-Kanpur and the IIM-Calcutta.
  • He is an associate professor at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad.

GS II: GOVERNANCE – POLICY

Hype around surgical strikes unwarranted: Lt. Gen. Hooda

  • Former Northern Army Commander Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda, the face of the “surgical strikes” carried out across the Line of Control in 2016, said that the initial euphoria over the operation’s success was natural but the constant hype around it unwarranted.
  • Gen. Hooda said in hindsight, it would have been better had India carried out the strikes secretly.
  • The aim of any such offensive had to be not only tactical but strategic too, which substantially hampers enemy morale, he said, adding that he could not say with certainty if India had actually achieved that objective in full measure.
  • Defence commentator Colonel (retd) Ajai Shukla cautioned against the recent trend of colouring military achievements with political motives.

 

GS III: SECURITY

NSCN(K) faction asks Centre to revive ceasefire

  • A breakaway faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang), led by Khango Konyak, has decided to revoke its decision of unilaterally abrogating the ceasefire agreement with the Union government with immediate effect.
  • The NSCN(K) had signed ceasefire with the Centre in 2001 but unilaterally abrogated it in March 2015 when the then chairman of the group, S.S. Khaplang, was alive.
  • The NSCN (Isak-Muivah) has been engaged in peace talks with the interlocutor of the Central government since 1997, when it announced a ceasefire agreement after an insurgency movement that started in Nagaland soon after India’s Independence.
  • Subsequently, the Centre signed a Framework Agreement with the NSCN(I-M) on August 3, 2015.
  • The Union government has also started separate talks with working committees of six Naga nationalist political groups since 2017.

GS III: AGRICULTURE

M.S. Swaminathan calls GM crops a failure, Centre’s adviser faults paper

  • A research paper co-authored by leading agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan, which describes Bt cotton as a ‘failure,’ was criticised by India’s Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA), K. VijayRaghavan as ‘deeply flawed’.
  • The article is a review of crop development in India and transgenic crops — particularly Bt cotton, the stalled Bt brinjal as well as DMH-11, a transgenic mustard hybrid.
  • The latter two have been cleared by scientific regulators but not by the Centre.
  • “There is no doubt that GE (genetically engineered) Bt cotton has failed in India. It has failed as a sustainable agriculture technology and has, therefore, also failed to provide livelihood security for cotton farmers who are mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers,” according to the paper,
  • The piece also raises questions on the genetic engineering technology itself on the grounds that it raises the cost of sowing.
  • Also, the insertion of foreign genes (in the plant) could lead to “molecular and cellular events not precisely understood.”
  • Swaminathan, credited with leading India’s Green Revolution, has in recent years advocated ‘sustainable agriculture’ and said the government should only use genetic engineering as a last resort.
  • “…Swaminathan emphasised that genetic engineering technology is supplementary and must be needbased. Only in very rare circumstance (less than 1%) may there arise a need for the use of this technology,” according to the paper.
  • However, the MSSRF also dabbles in GE research. It has a programme on developing drought-resistant GM rice by using genes from mangroves to potentially protect rice varieties grown along the coasts from being affected by higher saline content — a consequence of warming seas from climate change.
  • “The programme is ongoing but isn’t aimed for the present. Genes from salt-tolerant plants too aren’t ideal…however, GE may be deployed to manage against abiotic stresses,” said Mr. Kesavan.
  • Abiotic stresses refer to environmental factors that could meddle with plant yield, as opposed to ‘biotic’ stressors such as insects.

GS III: INFRASTRUCTURE

DGCA draws flak for its 737 Max fix

  • The solution suggested by India’s aviation regulator to avoid a situation similar to the one that likely led to the fatal crash of a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft is unimplementable as of now, veteran aviators said.
  • The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) wants airlines to train pilots operating the 737 Max 8 model plane on a simulator by replicating the circumstances that are suspected to have led to the crash off Jakarta in October 2018, which killed all 189 people on board.
  • The former pilots, one of them a certified instructor, said the DGCA’s recommendation could not be implemented as of now in India as there was neither a simulator for this variant of the 737 aircraft, nor could the set of conditions — that investigators suspect led to the Lion Air crash — be simulated on the available simulator.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

Expired dart fired on Avni, says probe body

  • The committee constituted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to enquire into the death of tiger T-1 (the official name of the tigress known as Avni) in Pandharkawada on November 2, has concluded that the dart shot to immobilise the big cat had been used about 56 hours after it was prepared, well past the recommended 24 hours.
  • The probe panel also faulted the planning and conduct of the operation that resulted in the tigress being shot and killed.
  • “T-1 was seen multiple times on November 2, 2018, during daytime. Despite this, no proper planning was done for darting and capture of T-1 and cubs. There was no wildlife manager, veterinarian or biologist in the team. The team was not equipped to deal with the sedated tiger; team was not having reversal drugs, stretcher, capture cage, net, and manpower to locate T-1 after tranquillisation.”
  • Only back-up team was of six labourers equipped with stick at a distance of approximately 1 km… Therefore, it is evident that the darting of T-1 by the team is without adequate preparedness and not adhering to the standard operating procedure of NTCA,” it noted.

GS II: SOCIAL – UNREST

U.P. police search for Army jawan

  • In a fresh twist to the Bulandshahr mob violence case, an Army jawan has emerged as a key suspect in the murder of police inspector Subodh Kumar Singh.
  • While the police are yet to issue details of the allegations or his role, they have sent a team to Jammu to investigate and possibly nab him.
  • The jawan, identified as Jeetu, alias Fauji, allegedly fired at the police officer during the mob violence.
  • He was on leave from Jammu and Kashmir in his home town of Bulandshahr, a local daily reported. It said that after the incident, he allegedly fled to Jammu. Jeetu Fauji is among the 27 names in the FIR lodged in the mob violence.
  • The report in the daily says the claim was made by the police on the basis of a video in which the jawan is allegedly seen firing at the officer.
  • The main accused, Yogesh Raj, a Bajrang Dal activist, is still absconding.

GS II: SOCIAL – MEDIA

Social media sites told to filter content using AI

  • The Union government has asked social media platforms to emulate their practices in the U.K. in using Artificial Intelligence tools to identify and take down content inciting violence, a senior Home Ministry official said.
  • On a request by a law enforcement agency, the Ministry has reduced the time limit to take down such posts and videos to about four hours from about 36 hours.
  • The Ministry has asked Twitter to engage “flaggers” and “voluntary organisations” to identify, detect and take down objectionable content in real time.
  • The Ministry had asked Twitter to produce telephone numbers and other identifiable sources to help track suspicious accounts.
  • The Centre has stepped up its interactions with social media platforms to arrest the spread of rumours, and messages inciting unrest, cybercrimes and other anti- national activities.
  • In May and June 2018, over 20 people have been lynched based on fake posts or rumours floating on WhatsApp.
  • WhatsApp has been asked to keep the complete trail of forwarding of unlawful content and share “meta data”to identify the author of the content.

GS I: CULTURE

HC stays Art of Living event at Big Temple

  • The Bench of the Madras High Court granted an interim injunction against a meditation event organised by Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Art of Living at the Sri Brihadeeswarar temple in Thanjavur, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • The Bench call for the temporary structure put up within the temple complex be removed.
  • The court was hearing a PIL petition filed by N. Venkatesh of Thanjavur, which sought a direction to the authorities concerned to cancel permission for the event at the temple premises.
  • Venkatesh said that the iconic temple was over 1,000 years old and by allowing private parties to put up temporary structures within its premises, the authorities were showing no regard for heritage.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – USA

U.S. fails in its UN bid to decry Hamas movement

  • A U.S. resolution championed by Ambassador Nikki Haley to condemn the Palestinian Hamas movement at the United Nations for firing rockets at Israel failed to win enough votes for adoption.
  • The proposed measure won 87 votes in the General Assembly, falling short of a two-thirds majority. Fifty-eight countries opposed the measure and 32 abstained.
  • Haley, who steps down from her post at the end of the year, has repeatedly accused the United Nations of having an anti-Israel bias and has defended Israel in its latest confrontation with Hamas, the Islamist militant group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.
  • It was the first proposed resolution condemning Hamas to be presented to the 193-nation assembly, which has been meeting since 1946.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – USA

‘Huawei affair won’t hit trade talks’

  • Avoiding a knee-jerk response, China is delinking the detention of the daughter of the founder of Huawei in Canada from trade talks with the U.S.
  • Meng Wangzhou – chief financial officer (CFO) of Chinese tech giant Huawei, and the daughter of the company’s founder Ren Zhengfei – was detained by the Canadian authorities during transit in Vancouver, on the behest of the U.S.
  • Meng was arrested, apparently as part of a U.S. investigation into the use of the global banking system by Huawei to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran.
  • The Asian Nikkei Review reported that Huawei plays a key role in the ‘Made in China 2025’ industrial modernisation initiative, which U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer seeks to scrap as the two countries vie for technological superiority.

GS II: INTERNATIONAL – USA

Address common concerns, China tells U.S. and N. Korea

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping told North Korea’s Foreign Minister that he hoped Pyongyang and Washington will address each other’s concerns so that peace talks on the Korean peninsula “continue to make positive progress”.
  • Denuclearisation talks have made little progress since a historic June 2018 summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
  • Talks on nuclear disarmament on the Korean peninsula between the U.S. and North Korea have stalled, with Washington pushing to maintain sanctions until its “final, fully verified denuclearisation” and Pyongyang condemning U.S. demands as “gangster-like.”

GS III: ECONOMY – INDICATORS

Current account deficit widens to 2.9% in Q2

  • Current account deficit (CA) widened to 2.9% of GDP for the July-September quarter due to higher trade deficit compared with 1.1% during the same period of the previous year, the Reserve Bank of India said.
  • The CAD for the April-June quarter was 2.4% of GDP or $15.9 billion.
  • The widening of CAD on a year-on-year basis was primarily on account of a higher trade deficit at $50 billion compared with $32.5 billion a year ago, the central bank said.
  • “The deficit widened due to sharp rise in oil prices. But now prices have corrected 31% from peak levels. Exports also picked up after rupee weakened against the dollar.
  • Overall, the country’s balance of payments was in deficit of $1.9 billion in the July-September quarter as compared with a surplus of $9.5 billion in the year ago period.

GS III: ECONOMY – INDICATORS

Liquidity stress has abated, says SEBI chief

  • The liquidity stress affecting non-banking finance companies and housing finance companies since September 2018 has abated significantly, and the Indian markets have performed better than several developed markets despite high global volatility this year, the chief of India’s stock market regulator Ajay Tyagi said.
  • The Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Chairman said that the role of capital markets in facilitating fund raising to sustain the country’s economic growth momentum ‘becomes even more important given the stress in the banking sector.’
  • The volatility in global markets, caused by factors such as uncertainty in oil prices, change in monetary policy stance of central banks like the U.S. Federal Reserves and U.S.-China trade tensions, is likely to persist, Mr. Tyagi said at a financial markets summit.
  • “These factors have also affected Indian markets, as well as domestic issues such as NBFCs and housing finance companies facing tight liquidity since September 2018, although it has improved much on account of steps taken by the RBI in providing systemic liquidity,” the SEBI chief said.
  • The SEBI chief said that the regulator has moved ‘in a timely manner’ ‘by government standards’ on implementing reforms in the corporate governance framework proposed by a committee headed by Uday Kotak.
  • Steps are afoot to enhance the focus on independent directors, prescribe the separation of CEO, MD and chairperson roles, enhance the role of audit, nomination and remuneration and risk management committees as well as strengthening disclosures of related-party transactions, he said.

GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING

Ex-CEA moots NBFC asset quality review

  • Citing the ongoing IL&FS crisis, former chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian called for an asset quality review (AQR) for non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) like the one carried out on banks by the central bank, to fully gauge the extent of the hidden stress in the system.
  • Stressing the need for the Reserve Bank to function in an autonomous way, he also hit out at the recent “politicisation” of the issue, saying it is detrimental to the country’s interests.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT – POLLUTION

Luxembourg offers free mass transit for all

  • Luxembourg is a small country with big traffic jams.
  • So when Prime Minister Xavier Bettel was sworn in for a second term, his governing coalition promised free mass transit for all, which would make the country the first to offer such a benefit.
  • Luxembourg is barely larger than a city-state, with a population of about 5,60,000.
  • But more than 1,80,000 workers commute across the border from Belgium, France and Germany.
  • Part of the problem is that Luxembourg already has the highest number of cars for its population in the European Union: 662 for 1,000 people, bringing it closest in the region to the United States, a world leader with more than 800 cars per 1,000 people.
  • The number of international commuters has doubled in the past two decades, rising more quickly than the country anticipated, Mr. Klein said.
  • Luxembourg’s highways are packed with cars, and overcrowded trains often suffer delays.
  • Free mass transit will be available from the beginning of 2020.

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