August 2019

Daily Current Affairs (16-08-19)


Related Topics: Government Schemes, Indian Diaspora


A group of Indian Origin youth visiting India under ‘Know India Programme’ (KIP) called on the Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh.

This is the 54th Edition of “Know India Programme”.

There are 40 participants in this edition from 9 countries,

About the Programme

KIP is an important initiative of the Government of India.

The aim of KIP is to engage and make the students and young professionals of India Diaspora in the age group of 18-30 years, feel a sense of connect with their motherland and to be motivated and inspired by the transformation taking place in India.

The objective of KIP is to give them an exposure to various aspects of contemporary India’s forms of art, heritage and culture.

It also promotes awareness on different facets of life in India and the progress made by the country in various fields such as Industry, Education, Science & Technology, Information & Communication Technology, Climate and Power & Renewable Energy etc.

Additional Info

Pravasi Teerth Darshan Yojna (PTDY) is an important initiative of Government of India providing the elder generation in Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) in the age group of 45-65 year an opportunity to reconnect with their root.

PTDY accords first preference to people from Girmitiya countries such as Mauritius, Fiji, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica.

Girmitiya’s are the descendants of indentured Indian labourers brought to Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, East Africa, the Malay Peninsula, Caribbean and South America (Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname) to work on sugarcane plantations for the prosperity of the European settlers.

Hence, these countries were known as Girmitiya countries.

The term Girmitiya was coined by Mahatma Gandhi who called himself as the “First Girmitia”.



Related Topics: Army Reforms, Defence


Prime Minister has announced the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff to provide “effective leadership at the top level” to the three wings of the armed forces, and to help improve coordination among them.

What is the office of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)?

The CDS is meant to be a single-point military advisor to the government, and to coordinate long-term planning, procurements, training and logistics of the three services.

As future wars become short, swift and network-centric, coordination among the three services is crucial.

As the stress on resources increases and defence budgets remain flat, the way forward is optimisation of resources by joint planning and training.

The CDS, being above the three Service Chiefs, is expected to play this role by optimising procurement, avoiding duplication among the services and streamlining the process.

India being a nuclear weapons state, the CDS will also act as the military advisor to the Prime Minister on nuclear issues.

Present Status

In the absence of a CDS, presently the seniormost of the three Chiefs functions as the Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC).

But it is an additional role and the tenures have been very short.

Why CDS over CoSC?

CoSC arrangement was “unsatisfactory”, and its Chairman was seen as a “figurehead”.

The post did not further tri-service integration, resulting in inefficiency and an expensive duplication of asset.

The CoSC system is a leftover from the colonial era, with only minor changes being carried out over the years.

International Scenario

All major countries, especially the nuclear weapon states, have a CDS.

The U.K. from which the Indian armed forces and the Defence Ministry are modelled on has a Permanent Secretary, equivalent to the Defence Secretary, and also a CDS.

U.K. Government guidelines state that the CDS is the professional head of the British armed forces and, as military strategic commander, is responsible for how operations are carried out.


Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA)

Related Topics: Internal Security, Right to Dissent

Why in News

Former IAS officer Shah Faesal was stopped at New Delhi airport and sent back to Kashmir, where he has been detained under the J&K Public Safety Act (PSA).

About J&K PSA

The Act was introduced by the government of J&K as a tough law to prevent the smuggling of timber and keep the smugglers “out of circulation”.

The law allowed the government to detain any person above the age of 16 without trial for a period of two years.

It received the assent of the J&K Governor on April 8, 1978.

PSA allows for administrative detention for up to two years “in the case of persons acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State”, and for administrative detention up to one year where “any person is acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”.

Detention orders under PSA can be issued by Divisional Commissioners or District Magistrates.

Section 22 of the Act provides protection for any action taken “in good faith” under the Act.

Under Section 23 of the Act, the government is empowered to “make such Rules consistent with the provisions of this Act, as may be necessary for carrying out the objects of this Act”.

Criticisms against the Act

Right from the beginning, the law was misused widely, and was repeatedly employed against political opponents by consecutive governments until 1990.

After the emergence of militancy, the J&K government frequently invoked the PSA to crack down on separatists.

Between 2007 and 2016, over 2,400 PSA detention orders were passed, of which about 58% were quashed by the courts.

The terms under which a person is detained under PSA are vague and include a broad range of activities like “acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State” or for “acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”.

The Act has been used against human rights activists, journalists, separatists and others who are considered as a threat to the law & order, thus not allowing the scope for ‘Right to Dissent’.



Related Topics: Natural Calamities, Disaster Management


Almost 60 people are feared dead, buried alive under layers of mud and rocks in the Kavalappara landslide.

It is the worst tragedy in Kerala’s devastating monsoon so far this year.

When authorities claim the unprecedented rainfall is the only reason for the landslide in Kavalappara, scientists and environmentalists opines that the unscientific excavations in more than 30 quarries in the area have also played a major role in making the highlands vulnerable to landslides.

Why Highlands became shaky grounds?

Destabilising geological processes, coupled with extreme rainfall events, unscientific farming and construction activities, poses a serious threat to human habitation in the highlands of Kerala.

A team of scientists from NCESS, who carried out an investigation in the wake of the heavy rain and devastating floods in August 2018, had found that land subsidence, lateral spread, and soil piping were an immediate threat to life and property in the uplands.

Wherever landslides happened, there were granite quarries on the other side of the hill, according to government data on damages and a recent mapping of Kerala’s granite quarries.

10 out of the 11 pockets which witnessed major landslides, and where 91 quarries operated, were classified as ecologically sensitive zones and asked to be banned from mining and quarrying by the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel, also known the Madhav Gadgil Committee in its report in 2011.

In  Kavalappara, which saw one of the two biggest damages in the rains as a landslide smashed down a hill submerging hundreds of houses in the valley, estimates point out to 27 quarries within a five km radius.

Most of the slopes were used for raising crops and farmers had blocked the natural drainage systems.

Behind every landslide, there is an unscientific change of crops, cutting off the slope of the hill, construction, and quarrying.

Way Forward

Based on the recommendations of the NCESS, the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has initiated steps to establish a network of landslip monitoring stations in the highlands.

The researchers recommended the formation of a trained task force for the highlands to monitor ground signatures like hollows, cracks, and water spouts that often precede land subsidence, lateral spread and landslides.

Any developmental activities like construction of roads and buildings in such vulnerable areas should be accompanied with remedial measures for slope stabilisation.

Mining should be conducted for construction activities, but the authorities should ensure that it does not affect the environment.


                FACTS OF THE DAY

  • In recognition of his stellar work in promotion of science and technology, ISRO Chairman K Sivan was awarded the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Award by the Tamil Nadu government.


  • Indian men’s cyclist team created history by clinching the Team Sprint gold medal at World Junior Track Cycling Championships in Frankfurt, Germany.


  • Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh has launched his government’s flagship programme called ‘Village Volunteers System’ aimed at providing government services at doorsteps of people.


  • Chief Minister of Punjab dedicated the 3rd phase of ‘Jung-E-Azadi’ memorial to people who were killed in Jallianwala Bagh massacre and unsung heroes who were incarcerated in Andaman Cellular jail during Indian freedom struggle.

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