The Hindu Review (Current + English Article + Vocab)| 15th December 2018

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♦ Author Amitav Ghosh honoured with 54th Jnanpith award

  • Noted English writer Amitav Ghosh has been honoured with this year’s Jnanpith Award, a literary award given to an author for “outstanding contribution towards literature”, Bharatiya Jnanpith announced Friday.
  • “Amitav Ghosh is a path-breaking novelist. In his novels, Ghosh treads through historical settings to the modern era and weaves a space where the past connects with the present in relevant ways.
  • “His fiction is endowed with extraordinary depth and substance through his academic training as a historian and a social anthropologist,” a statement from Bharatiya Jnanpith read.
  • The decision was taken in a meeting of Jnanpith Selection Board chaired by eminent novelist, scholar and Jnanpith laureate Pratibha Ray.
  • Mr. Ghosh, one of the most prominent contemporary Indian writers, is known for a series of novels such as Shadow Lines, The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide, and Ibis Trilogy — Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke, and Flood of Fire — chronicling the Opium trade between India and China run by the East India Company.
  • The writer, in a tweet, said he was “honored and humbled”.

Kamal Nath to take charge in M.P.

  • Forty-eight hours after the Congress made a political comeback in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, veteran leader Kamal Nath seems set to take over reins in Bhopal as the next Chief Minister.
  • The formal announcement is expected late on Thursday following a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) of the newly elected MLAs in Bhopal.
  • Earlier in the day, posting a photo of himself with Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia, Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time. – Leo Tolstoy.”

Mahinda Rajapaksa to resign as PM on Saturday, says son Namal

  • Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was appointed prime minister in a controversial move, will resign on Saturday, his son announced Friday.
  • This comes shortly after the Supreme Court refused to stay a court order restraining the embattled former strongman from holding the office until it fully heard the case next month.
  • Mr. Rajapaksa was appointed as the premier on October 26 by President Maithripala Sirisena after sacking Ranil Wickremesinghe, plunging the nation into a constitutional crisis.
  • “To ensure stability of the nation, Former President @PresRajapaksa has decided to resign from the Premiership tomorrow after an address to the nation,” Rajapaksa’s son Namal tweeted.
  • The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and others will “now work to form a broader political coalition with President Sirisena”, Namal, who is also a lawmaker, added.
  • The apex court’s latest ruling came a day after it unanimously declared that the dissolution of Parliament by President Maithripala Sirisena was “illegal”, in a body blow to the embattled leader, whose controversial decisions plunged the island nation into an unprecedented political turmoil.

IB, RAW chiefs get six-month extension

  • The Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) has approved six-month extension to Intelligence Bureau Director Rajiv Jain and Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) Secretary A.K Dhasmana.
  • The heads of country’s internal and external intelligence wings had a fixed tenure of two-year each.
  • Mr. Jain was to demit office on December 30 and Mr. Dhasmana a day earlier.
  • The two officers will remain in office during the next year general election
  • “The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the extension in service of Rajiv Jain, Director, Intelligence Bureau for a period of 6 months beyond the present tenure i.e. 30.12.2018, in relaxation of Rule 16(1A) of All India Services (Death-cum-Retirement Benefits) Rule, 1958 and FR 56,” a Government Order said.

Ashok Gehlot to be Rajasthan Chief Minister, Sachin Pilot Deputy CM

  • The Congress on Friday named Ashok Gehlot as Rajasthan’s next Chief Minister and Sachin Pilot as the Deputy Chief Minister after party president Rahul Gandhi successfully brokered peace between the veteran leader and his younger colleague following several rounds of discussions.
  • After Congress’ observer to the State K.C. Venugopal made the announcement at a media briefing in New Delhi, Mr. Gehlot thanked Mr. Gandhi for giving him an opportunity to serve the people of the State for the third time and promised that he and Mr. Pilot will give “good governance.”
  • Mr. Pilot exuded confidence that Congress’ good electoral performance will continue, saying the party will get a big mandate in 2019 polls and form the government.
  • “We will meet the governor today and will decide on the details of the oath-taking ceremony,” Mr. Venugopal said.

TRS leader K. Chandrashekhar Rao sworn in as Telangana CM for second straight term

  • Telangana Rashtra Samiti president K. Chandrashekhar Rao was on Thursday sworn in as the Chief Minister of Telangana for the second term by Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan.
  • Mr. Mohammed Mahmood Ali, who was Deputy Chief Minister holding the subject of revenue in the previous term, was the only Minister to be administered the oath of office along with Mr. Rao.
  • The brief ceremony lasted just five minutes on the lawns of Raj Bhavan.
  • Most of the 88 newly elected MLAs of TRS were present but conspicuous by their absence were the four Ministers who lost the election. Former Speaker S. Madhusudana Chary who also lost the poll was present. Barring a Congress member of the Legislative Council Ponguleti Sudhakar Reddy, the entire Opposition kept away from the event.
  • The Chief Minister’s son and former Industries Minister K.T. Rama Rao greeted the visitors at the inner gate within the Raj Bhavan. Former Tamil Nadu Governor P.S. Rammohan Rao, Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen president Asaduddin Owaisi, bureaucrats and senior police officers attended. A huge LED screen was set up to beam images of people walking in and all those occupying seats.

Zoramthanga to be sworn in as Mizoram CM on Saturday

  • Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan on Wednesday afternoon invited Mizo National Front (MNF) president Zoramthanga to form the government.
  • The oath-taking ceremony will be held at the Raj Bhavan at noon on Saturday.
  • The 74-year-old Zoramthanga, who was Chief Minister for two terms from 1998-2008, had staked claim to form the government on Tuesday evening after his party won 26 Assembly seats in the 40-member Mizoram House.
  • Outgoing Congress Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla had submitted his resignation an hour before Mr Zoramthanga had staked the claim. The current term of the Assembly expires on Friday.
  • “The Governor’s invitation came late in the afternoon today (Wednesday),” MNF spokesperson Lena Jongte said.
  • “Total prohibition is our top priority since the flow of liquor during the Congress regime has destroyed many a life in Mizoram. We will also implement the Socio-Economic Development Policy for the uplift of farmers and job generation for the unemployed youth, besides ensuring proper road connectivity,” Mr. Zoramthanga said.

Delhi High Court stays online sale of medicines by e-pharmacies

  • The Delhi High Court on Thursday stayed the online sale of medicines by e-pharmacies since it was not permitted under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and the Pharmacy Act, 1948. The direction was passed by a division bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V Kameswar Rao on a petition filed by Dr Zaheer Ahmed, who sought a ban on “illegal” sale of drugs and medicines online.
  • In a hearing on October 6, the court had sought responses of the Centre, the Delhi government, Central Drug Standard Control Organisation and Commissioner of Food and Drugs Administration on the petition. The court has listed the matter for further hearing on March 25 next year. Presently, there is no law that governs the e-pharmacy business in India.
  • In the petition, Ahmed claimed that online illegal sale of medicines would lead to a drug epidemic and drug abuse.  Pointing to a direction of the Drug Controller General of India to the State Drug Controllers regarding strict vigil on the online sale of medicines, the petition said lakhs of medicines were being sold through e-pharmacies in violation of the order.
  • The petition further claimed that sale of drugs through e-pharmacies increases the risk of self-medication, sale of drugs without a prescription, as well as the sale of psychotropic substances.

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurates 4th edition of Kochi Muziris Biennale

  • Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Wednesday inaugurated the fourth edition of the Kochi Muziris Biennale, a 108-days long celebration of contemporary art featuring close to 90 artists from across the globe.
  • At a function held at the Parade Ground in Fort Kochi, Vijayan underlined the importance of art in life and the role that the Biennale plays in making Kochi a melting pot of different shades of artistic talent. He also touched upon the financial fragility of the state government in the wake of the devastating floods in August, and how the administration has chosen not to keep a distance away from the conduct of the Biennale.
  • “As you know, Kerala is on the path of reconstruction after the floods. I’d like to underline that despite the financial constraints, the government did not want the Biennale to be affected in any way. The government has allotted the same funds that were allotted the last time,” the chief minister said. “The government’s stand is not to keep a distance away from art by making flimsy excuses. If life has to be complete, art is necessary. In the absence of art, human life sinks down to the quality of animal life. Art and culture makes life meaningful. The government does not want to make any compromise on developing art in the state,” he added.

♦ CAG Rajiv Mehrishi appointed as Vice-Chair of UN Panel of Auditors

  • Comptroller and Auditor General Rajiv Mehrishi has become the Vice-Chair of the UN Panel of Auditors, CAG said on Tuesday. The United Nations Panel of Auditors consists of External Auditors of the United Nations and its agencies.
  • Presently, the panel consists of 11 countries — India, Germany, Chile, Canada, France, Italy, Philippines, Ghana, Indonesia, Switzerland and United Kingdom. Currently, the panel is chaired by the Comptroller and Auditor General of the UK.
  • The panel held its annual meeting in New York from 3 to 4 December 2018 and discussed various issues concerning audit of United Nations and the agencies under the United Nations System, CAG said in a statement. The panel also elected the Comptroller and Auditor General of the UK as Chair of the Panel for another term (2019).
  • “The panel also unanimously elected the Comptroller and Auditor General of India as the Vice Chair of the panel for the year 2019,” it said. The next meeting of the panel will be held in in Bonn, Germany in November-December 2019.

RBI slaps ₹ 1 crore fine on Indian Bank for violating cyber security norms

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Tuesday imposed a fine of ₹ 1 crore on Indian Bank for violating cyber security norms.
  • The RBI has imposed, by an order dated November 30, a monetary penalty of ₹ 10 million on Indian Bank for contravention of Circular on Cyber Security Framework in banks, the central bank said in a release.
  • The contravention is with regard to RBI’s directions on Frauds- Classification and Reporting by Commercial Banks.
  • “This penalty has been imposed in exercise of powers vested in RBI under the provisions of…the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 taking into account the failure of the bank to adhere to the aforesaid guidelines and directions issued by RBI,” the release said.
  • This action is based on deficiencies in regulatory compliance and is not intended to pronounce upon the validity of any transaction or agreement entered into by the bank with its customers, the release added.

♠Vocabulary (The Hindu)

  1. CORNUCOPIA (NOUN): (प्रचुरता)Abundance

Synonyms: bounty, fullness 

Antonyms: need, lack

Example: I shall come from London Town with a cornucopia of presents.

  1. FRET (VERB): (चिड़चिड़ाना)Feel uneasy

Synonyms: be upset, be anxious 

Antonyms: please, delight 

Example: She was always fretting about something or the other. 

  1. ETHEREAL (ADJECTIVE): (कोमल)Extremely delicate

Synonyms: light, sublime 

Antonyms: earthly, indelicate

Example : In this ethereal realm are the currents that make possible wireless telegraphy.

  1. UNLETTERED (ADJECTIVE): (निरक्षर)Uneducated

Synonyms: ignorant, illiterate 

Antonyms: educated, literate

Example: Such misconceptions have not been confined to the unlettered masses.

  1. SPRIGHTLY (ADJECTIVE): (प्रमुदित)Lively

Synonyms: agile, active 

Antonyms: spiritless, lethargic

Example: The sprightly old woman walks two miles every day.

  1. SANCTIMONIOUS (ADJECTIVE): (पाखंडी)Self-righteous

Synonyms: insincere, hypocritical

Antonyms: honest, sincere

Example: His sanctimonious expressions explained his intentions.

  1. SULLEN (ADJECTIVE): (उदास)Morose

Synonyms: gloomy, brooding 

Antonyms: cheerful, pleasant

Example: The offenders lapsed into a sullen silence.

  1. CHAOTIC (ADJECTIVE): (अराजकतापूर्ण)Disordered

Synonyms: uncontrolled, lawless

Antonyms: ordered, organized

Example: My house becomes a chaotic place in the absence of my wife.

  1. CONTRITE (ADJECTIVE): (पछताया हुआ)Chastened

Synonyms: repentant, sorrowful 

Antonyms: indifferent, unapologetic

Example: He was so contrite that he wrote me a letter of apology.

  1. PRUNE (VERB): (काटना/ छाँटना)Pare down

Synonyms: trim, reduce 

Antonyms: include, increase

Example: Economic hard times are forcing the companies to prune their budget.


Homeward bound?: on extradition of Vijay Mallya

The judicial order in the United Kingdom allowing the extradition of businessman Vijay Mallya marks a rare victory for India in getting back a fugitive from the law from another jurisdiction. Coming shortly after the United Arab Emirates handed over Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal, progress in the Mallya extradition case is another victory for the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is in the throes of a raging controversy over a power tussle involving its two top officers. It must be a matter of satisfaction to the Government of India that the controversy did not affect the outcome of the extradition proceedings before the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London. Mr. Mallya’s lawyers raised doubts about the CBI’s independence, its alleged susceptibility to political interference, the perception that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Opposition Congress were using his case to score political points, the possible pressure on Indian courts due to adverse media coverage and, lastly, the conditions in Indian prisons as overcrowded and with appalling facilities for its inmates. Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot rejected these issues. On preliminary evidence, in an order that analyses documents and the sequence of events relating to borrowings made by Kingfisher Airlines from IDBI Bank, she concluded that there is a prima facie case against Mr. Mallya as well as some bank officials. The industrialist does have an opportunity to go on appeal before higher courts. But the categorical finding that there appears to be an intention to defraud, and that the end-use of the borrowed money did not match the stated purpose for which the loans were taken, may make it a little harder for him to obtain relief.

It is clear that fleeing India in March 2016 while a consortium of lenders to the defunct airline was seeking to recover about ₹9,000 crore from the company has not helped Mr. Mallya’s cause, beyond buying him time. He has failed to portray himself as a victim of the political system and the media back home. And the verdict, by which his case has been sent to the U.K. Home Secretary for a formal decision on his extradition, reinforces the widely held perception that his company’s financial predicament is due less to the problems that beset the aviation sector at the relevant time and possible poor management, than to his profligate ways and flamboyant lifestyle. In particular, the extradition court accepted evidence that showed that “the offence may have begun with the obtaining of the loans, but continued with the disbursement of the loan proceedings and his subsequent avoidance of his liabilities”. With the court also having spoken of a prima facie case of money-laundering being established, Mr. Mallya’s attempt to play victim has failed. It is only appropriate that he be brought back to India at the earliest and made to submit himself to the legal process.

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