Today’s Current Affairs November 26 (from the Hindu and other sources)

November 26, 2019

Front page

Supreme Court will deliver Maharashtra judgment today

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court will deliver its judgment today that, hopefully, would break the impasse in Maharashtra. The country awaits, with baited breath, to hear the judgment.

** According to the latest news, Ajit Pawar the renegade NCP MLA who triggered the crisis by siding with the BJP and becoming the Deputy Chief Minister, has resigned from his job, and returned to NCP. With the writing in the wall becoming clearer, Fadnavis, the Chief Minister, has resigned from the post, thus paving the way for the Congrees-NCP-Shiva Sena to stake claim for the government. Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court had ordered a floor test in the Assembly in 24 hours.

Good words and phrases used .. Writing on the wall, Pave, Renegade, Impasse

J & K’s detained political leaders refuse to sign any bond to be released from confinement

The top political leaders of J&K have turned down an offer to be freed from their internment by surrendering their unfettered political rights.

Good words used .. Internment, Unfettered

Assam turtles help to resuscitate the dying Assamese Gamuchha

Assamese take pride in their heritage Gamosha – a hand-woven thin towel used as a covering of the upper body. Assam’s iconic turtles are on the verge of extinction. Yet, the same endangered species will now help to inject life to the dying heritage of the Gamosa, another Assamese identity. A volunteer group of women have hit a novel idea. They have asked the weaver to weave the image of the turtle on their Gamosas. Happily for the women activists, the people have shown enthusiastic response to this novel experiment.

National

Eco Impact study of K. C Valley – IISC exudes optimism

Koramangala –Chhallaghatta Valley (KC Valley) is a unique irrigation project that will serve twin objectives. It will solve the problem of disposal of Bengaluru’s sewage , and secondly, it will rejuvenate the minor irrigation network in the nearby areas. The irrigation canals will get a new lease of life bringing smiles to the farmers. Now, a group of scientists from the IISC, IITs, and National Environmental Research Institute (NEERI) have joined hands to study the environmental impact of this new and innovative project.

52-day strike of Telegana transport employees called off

The strike of the Telengana State Transport Corporation has been called off by the Joint Action Committee (JAC). The strike had greatly inconvenienced the travelling public, who have heaved a sigh of relief on seeing the buses back on the streets.

Good words and phrases used … Heave a sigh of relief

Food sold in market have alarming quality concerns

A survey conducted by the Food Standards and Safety Authority of India (FSSAI) finds that 3.7% of food samples collected and tested are unsafe and 15.8% unsuitable for human consumption. Interestingly, Bihar and Goa come out with the cleanest record in the survey.

Closed Nokia plant in Chennai set to re-open

Soon, the closed Nokia factory complex will hum with activity with thousands of workers in the shop floor. The new owner, Salcomp, will make recharge cables for Smart phones including the Apple XR model. Nearly 70% of the products will be exported to China. India’s electronics goods export might double to reach 3.2 billion dollars this year.

ISRO launches super-sensitive Cartosat-3

ISRO successfully launched its Polar Satellite Lunch Vehicle rocket (PSLV-C47) into the Sun Synchronous Orbit from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. The payload also had 13 other nano-satellites from the U.S. The Cartosat-3 has ultra sensitive imaging capability.

International

Poll results in Hong Kong deepens China’s conundrum

The resounding victory of the pro-democracy candidates has rattled the Chinese authorities who find themselves in a quandary about the ways to contain the surge without dangerously diluting China’s hold on the territory. Muddying the water further, The U.S. Congress has passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, 2019. This may not be binding on President Trump, but it certainly has irked President Xi. This Act will ring in the ears of the Chinese President for years.

Good words and phrases used .. Rattle, In a quandary, Muddy the water, Irk, Ring in the ears of someone

Gotabaya says Sri Lanka will never do anything inimical to India’s strategic interests

The new president of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapakshe has allayed Indian fears about his country siding with China to the detriment of India. Such an affirmation hopefully will put to rest India’s unease with the new power set-up in the island nation. He is scheduled to visit India in November 29 to be followed by Modi’s reciprocal visit n March, ’20.

Good words used .. Inimical, Allay, Detriment, Put to rest

Doctors express concern on Assange’s failing health in prison

Julian Assange, who leaked sensitive American documents, is presently incarcerated in the U.K. He is battling multiple health issues, and may not recover unless taken out for specialized medical treatment. A group of 80 British doctors has aired an appeal to the government urging a reprieve for Assange on humanitarian grounds.

Good words used .. Incarcerated, Air as verb, Reprieve

China’s repression of the Uighur Muslims in Xinxiang province

Interred inside high prison walls, and guarded by sentries of Chinese army, hundreds and thousands of Uighur ethnic Muslims are being pushed through a gruesome re-training program that will mainstream them to main-land China’s cultural ways. In the process, every Islamic identity of the jailed Uighurs is being compulsorily erased from their minds and brain. The inmates’ ethnic names are being changed, their holy book, the Quran, is being rubbished, mosques being demolished, and pork, abhorred by Islam is being fed to them – all at gun point. They are being re-skilled in modern trades that could help them do jobs in China’s industrial economy. The Uighurs have no recourse for remedy, as they bemoan their fate in the government administered camps. Quite embarrassingly for the authorities, a voluminous 800-page document has been smuggled out cotaining horrific details of the life and training the inmates have to endure in Chinese hands. The leaked document has created a worldwide wave of resentment against the Chinese for such egregious onslaught on universal human rights.

Good words and phrases used … Inter, Sentry, Endure, Recourse, Gruesome, Rubbish, Abhor, Bemoan, Egregious, Onslaught

U.S. resumes anti-IS campaign in Syria in league with the Kurdish fighters

In what appears to be a volte-face on the part of President Trump has asked the military to resume the campaign to root out the remnants of the vanquished IS terror machine. Quite paradoxically, President Trump has sought the active participation of the Kurdish fighters in the U.S.-led crack down on the IS pockets. Just weeks ago, he abandoned the Kurds to their fate in the face of the marching Turkish army. Kurds have historically been the military allies of the U.S. This shows how whimsical Trump can become even when taking major policy decisions.

Good words and phrases used .. Volte-face, League, Remnant, Vanquish, Whimsical, Paradoxically

Financial

Global trade picks up pace leading to Sensex surge

As China and the U.S. inched closer to a deal signaling an end to the acrimonious atmosphere of the past, global trade that remained tepid in the past is likely to regain some strength in the coming days. Taking cue from this, the indices of the stock exchanges in Hong Kong, Sanghai, Tokyo, and Seoul, all headed up. In Mumbai, Sensex too surged lifting the spirits of the traders. Among the gainers were HDFC, Bharti Airtel, Axis Bank, Kotak Mahindra, and Reliance Industries. In another good news, Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI) INTO India has also increased.

Spectrum auction to be completed by the financial year-end

Eager to mop up revenue, the government has decided to complete spectrum auction by the financial year end. However, it is not clear why the Department of Telecom has not yet referred the minimum tariff issue to TRAI yet.

GST collection so far reaches a meager Rs.3.26 lakh crores

Although just four months are left of this fiscal, GST collection at Rs.3.26 lakh crore has managed to reach the half yearly mark of the targeted figure. This has dampened the spirit of the Finance Ministry struggling to mop up revenue to contain the Fiscal deficit within specified limit.

Good words used .. Mop up, Dampen

Subhas Chandra, the media mogul of the news and entertainment industry loses control of his ZEE group

Unbridled growth of debt has finally taken its toll on Subhas Chandra who finds himself ejected out of the Chairman’s post of the company. Like many other beleaguered corporate who have come to breaking point due to spiraling debt burden, Zee has seen the pain of credit growth. By selling away his own shares, Subhas Chandra has just managed to save his face, although he has lost much of his sheen as an astute entrepreneur. R. Gopalan, former Finance Scretary will replace Subhas Chandra as the Chairman of the group.

Good words and phrases used .. Unbridled, Take the toll of, Beleaguered, Sheen

Micro-finance sector registers impressive growth

Bulking the trend of a creeping economic slow-down, microfinance sector has grown by a healthy 47.85%. Tamil Nadu has come out in top as the state where maximum amount of such loans has been availed.

Good words and phrases used .. Bulk the trend

Editorial and opinion

Formidable task for India to consolidate its gains in primary level schooling

Stepping into the age of 10 marks a watershed in a child’s life. It is at this stage that their mind opens up to the world around. They begin to grasp simple ideas and begin to think of things outside their homes. To let the mind open up to this exciting arena, the child has to be able to read and understand very simple texts. This link of the age of 10 and the ability to read and understand simple texts like stories is a crucial benchmark to asses if the child is growing up.

Sadly, more than half of such ten-year-olds in low and middle income countries fail to reach this threshold. Malnutrition, and lack of access to schools are the two main underlying causes. The consequences for such children in their later life are very bad, as they fail to pick up skills to do simple arithmetic, and assimilate basic ideas needed for a very low-rung job.

The consequences for the economy are also equally devastating. A farmer who can’t read and understand the instructions on a pesticide bottle, or a diary man who fails to apply arithmetic to compare his sales proceeds with his expenses on rearing his stock are surely a drag on the economy.

This is termed as ‘learning poverty’ that is so pervasive in many of the underdeveloped world today. Fighting ‘learning poverty’ therefore is a crying need for governments and NGOs today.

The world has, no doubt, fought and pushed back this malaise, but the progress has not been encouraging. Between 2000 and 2017, the incidence of ‘learning poverty’ has gone down by a meager 10%. Ideally, this figure should have been 100%, meaning that all 10-year-olds today would have been free of ‘learning poverty’. If we do not move fast to address this problem, by 2030, nearly 43% of the children will not have the ability to read and understand simple texts.

Many countries have done good work though. Kenya, and Vietnam are two such countries who have made impressive strides to eradicate ‘learning poverty’. Kenya has brought in technology, trained and motivated teachers, and has distributed one free book to each child. As a result, the number of grade two students, who can read, has increased threefold.

India has also made remarkable progress in this regard. The Right to Education initiative has brought many more young children to school. However, the quality of primary school education has been far from satisfactory. For getting the best results, schools have to adequately staffed by trained and motivated teachers. Class rooms must look lively. Regular monitoring of progress of each child has to be monitored. Schools must be secured against trespassers and stray cattle and dogs etc. Toilet facilities should also form a part of the school infrastructure. Technology has to be used to teach and record the performance of students.

The above improvements are not so expensive that India can’t bear it. What is needed is far greater commitment by the authorities to bring about the desired changes.

The ten-year-olds of 2030 will be born next year, i.e, 2020. So, this is the opportune time for the government to pull up its socks and move energetically to free the future generation Indians of the scourge of ‘learning hunger’.

We have to remember that India has committed itself to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG-4). So, let’s galvanize ourselves to reach the targets.

Good words used .. Mark a watershed, Opportune, Galvanize

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