Daily Current Affairs-31st Oct 2018

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Happy Birthday “IRONMAN”

On 31 October 1875, ‘Iron Man of India’ Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was born in Nadiad village in present-day Gujarat.


  • Patel’s father Jhaverbhai had been a soldier in the army of Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi. His mother was Ladbai.
  • He passed his matriculation in 1897 and then pursued law in England. After completing his law course in 1913, Patel returned to India and then established his practice at Godhra.
  • He later moved his successful practice to Ahmedabad and initially wanted to accumulate wealth and live a comfortable life for himself and his family. He had married and had two children by then.
  • In Ahmedabad, he happened to meet Mahatma Gandhi and after a couple of meetings, came under his spell. He became an ardent follower of Gandhi and started involving in political work.
  • He became the secretary of the Gujarat wing of the Congress Party and volunteered to lead the Kheda campaign against taxation of peasants, since Gandhi himself would be at Champaran.
  • The Kheda campaign (1918) was a success and through a village-by-village tour, Patel and his associated compelled the peasants to refuse to pay taxes until the government met their demands. Patel raised an army of volunteers who helped the villagers in this work. This revolt directed a lot of sympathy towards the farmers’ plight. The government agreed to talk with Patel and also suspended taxes for a year. Patel emerged as a hero of the people.
  • After this in 1920, he was elected the president of the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee. He remained in that position till 1945.
  • When Gandhi announced the non-cooperation movement in 1920, Patel supported him and worked tirelessly organizing it. It was then that he discarded his European garb and adopted Khadi. Patel was one leader who supported Gandhi when he suspended the movement in the wake of the Chauri Chaura incident.
  • Another major campaign led by Patel was the Bardoli Satyagraha in 1928. Here again, he asked farmers to refuse to pay taxes in the wake of floods and famines in the area, and a steep hike in taxes by the government. After the success of this campaign, the title ‘Sardar’ was bestowed on him by his colleagues.
  • Patel was arrested during the Dandi Salt March (1930). After his release following the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, he was elected the President of the INC in its Karachi session in 1931. He was again arrested in 1932.
  • He became a central figure in the Congress Party and was its chief fundraiser and organiser especially in selecting candidates for the central and provincial assemblies. He believed in instilling discipline among the party members and did not want people to be distracted from the larger goal which was independence from British rule.
  • He supported the Quit India Movement and inspired people to fight by an emotional speech made on 7 August 1942. He was arrested along with all prominent national leaders and released only in June 1945.
  • Partition of the country seemed inevitable and even though Patel was against it, he understood that it was needed at that time as the Congress and the Muslim League could not see eye to eye on that issue. It was also needed to stem the tide of communal hatred and violence that was seeping throughout the country. At the Congress meeting set to vote on the proposal, he said, “I fully appreciate the fears of our brothers from [the Muslim-majority areas]. Nobody likes the division of India and my heart is heavy. But the choice is between one division and many divisions. We must face facts. We cannot give way to emotionalism and sentimentality….Whether we like it or not, de facto Pakistan already exists in the Punjab and Bengal. Under the circumstances I would prefer a de jure Pakistan, which may make the League more responsible. Freedom is coming. We have 75 to 80 percent of India, which we can make strong with our own genius. The League can develop the rest of the country.”
  • Patel represented India on the Partition Council where the division of public assets between the two new nations were overseen.
  • After the unimaginable horrors of the violence during partition, Patel set about organising relief work and refugee camps. He called the South Indian regiments of the Indian Army to restore order in the affected areas knowing well that the police force of Punjab and Delhi, who were too close to the tragedy, could not be relied upon.
  • Patel is revered in India not only for his role as a freedom fighter but also for his role in unifying the country after independence. India was politically composed of British Indian provinces and the princely states which numbered more than 600.
  • Patel is considered as the Bismarck of India with regard to his stellar contribution in the political integration of the country. When the Nawab of Junagadh acceded to Pakistan despite having an 80% Hindu population, Patel sent the army there. With a combination of military and political tactics, the princely state was merged with India. Hyderabad also, with a similar situation (Hindu majority with a Muslim ruler) followed the Junagadh way. The Indian army, on the orders of Patel, invaded Hyderabad in 1948 and secured its union with India.
  • Patel was in charge of the Provincial Constitution Committee and the Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities and Tribal and Excluded Areas, in the Constituent Assembly of India.
  • For his role in setting up the modern civil services of India, he is also referred to as the ‘patron saint’ of the civil services. He famously called the services the ‘steel frame’ of the country’s government machinery.
  • Sardar Patel died in Bombay of a massive heart attack on 15 December 1950 aged 75.
  • He was awarded the Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1991. His birth anniversary is observed as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas (National Unity Day) since 2014.


Supreme Court modifies Diwali cracker ban order

  • The Supreme Court today modified its order fixing a time slot of 8 pm to 10 pm for bursting firecrackers on Diwali. The apex court said the timing will be changed in places like Tamil Nadu and Puducherry but will not exceed two hours a day.
  • A bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan also observed that the direction for permitting the use of green crackers was meant for the Delhi-NCR region and was not pan India. The apex court was hearing several applications filed by the Tamil government and firecracker manufacturers seeking modification and clarification of its October 23 order.
  • The Tamil Nadu government yesterday urged the apex court to allow firecrackers to be burst on Diwali morning in accordance with religious practices in the state, besides the already permitted 8 pm to 10 pm period.
  • The counsel appearing for firecracker manufacturers told the court that it was not possible to come up with green crackers this Diwali since there was no set composition for manufacturing them.

PM Modi to dedicate today to the nation world’s tallest Statue of Unity on birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will dedicate to the nation world’s tallest statue, the Statue of Unity, at Kevadiya in Narmada district of Gujarat today.
  • The 182-metre statue of the Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is being unveiled on his birth anniversary.
  • That the dedication ceremony will have many attractions, including fly-pasts and playing of patriotic music by ceremonial bands of the Army, Navy, Indian Air Force.
  • “Surya Kiran of the Air Force will perform aerobatics in the sky over the statue while spreading the colours of the Indian flag in the sky. At the same time, a team of Jaguar fighter aircraft will also fly, and a team of MI-17 choppers will shower rose petals on the statue. Cultural programmes and folk dance performances by artists from Gujarat, Punjab, Assam and Mizoram have also been planned.
  • The statue has been built at a cost of about 2,400 crore rupees. Approximately 70,000 tons of cement in addition to 18,500 tons of reinforcement steel and 6000 tons of structural steel has been used to build the statue.
  • 1700 metric tons of bronze has also been used. Mr Modi had laid the foundation stone of the project on 31st October 2013 when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. With the unveiling, the statue will become a representative and inspiration of Unity, Integrity and Peace across the globe.
  • Near the statue, Mr Modi will also unveil the ‘Wall of Unity’ which has been created with the earth samples collected from various states across the country.
  • As part of the effort to make the region around the statue a tourist spot, many projects like Valley of Flowers and Tent City have been developed.
  • The Prime Minister will also unveil a ‘Light and Sound show’ on Sardar Patel in the exhibition hall built at the pedestal of the Statue of Unity. The show will depict the Iron Man of India’s fight against British rule.

Nation remembers Indira Gandhi on her death anniversary.

  • The nation is remembering Indira Gandhi on her death anniversary today. Congress President Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi paid floral tribute to the former Prime Minister at her samadhi at Shakti Sthal.In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to Indira Gandhi.

GS-II(International Affairs)

 India, Italy call upon UN-member counties to implement Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte held bilateral talks in New Delhi and discussed a range of issues of mutual interest.
  • In a joint statement, both leaders strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
  • They asserted that strong measures need to be taken against terrorists, terror organizations and all those who encourage, support and finance terrorism.
  • They called upon all UN member countries to effectively implement the UN-Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, UNSC Resolution 1267 and other relevant UNSC resolutions relating to the prevention and suppression of terrorism and terrorist financing.
  • On climate change, the two leaders reaffirmed their strong commitment to the full and swift implementation of the Paris Agreement adopted to enhance the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  • They reiterated their commitment to strengthen mutual understanding and expand the range of bilateral engagement to promote peace, stability, economic progress and prosperity of the two countries.
  • Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte left for Italy as he was on a day-long official visit to India.38 candidates withdraw their nominations in 1st phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly polls

EAM Sushma Swaraj to hold several meetings with leaders of Kuwait to bolster bilateral ties

  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will today hold several bilateral meetings with the leaders of Kuwait with the aim to bolster ties between the two countries. She will meet her counterpart Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah and will also call on Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
  • Ms Swaraj reached Kuwait last evening on the second and final leg of her visit to West Asia.
  • She interacted with the Indian Community and paid floral tributes at Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi’s statue at the Indian Embassy. This is Ms Swaraj’s maiden visit to the Gulf nation.
  • The External Affairs Minister reached Kuwait from Doha where she met Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani and her counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.
  • The External Affairs Ministry said in a statement that both sides discussed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and signed a declaration to establish Joint Commission at the level of Foreign Minister to periodically review progress in various cooperation initiatives.
  • This is Sushma Swaraj’s first official visit to Kuwait.
  • The visit to the two West Asian countries is in pursuit of India’s objective of enhanced engagement with the Gulf region, which is in India’s extended neighbourhood.

Significance of Kuwait:

  • Kuwait is home to around 10 lakh Indian
  • s, who form the largest expatriate community in the Gulf nation. The strong Indian community contributes significantly to the economic and scientific development of Kuwait.

Donald Trump suggests he will end birthright citizenship with executive order

  • President Donald Trump today said, he is preparing an executive order that would end the right to US citizenship for children born in the US to non-citizens.
  • Under the current laws, anyone born in the US irrespective of the nationality of parents automatically becomes an American citizen.
  • It is said that the US is the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the US for 85 years with all of those benefits.
  • Asked about the legality of such an executive order, Trump said, Some legal experts believe that the president with an executive order can end birthright citizenship without changing the Constitution. Responding to a question, Trump said the effort to end birthright citizenship is in the process.
  • The US is one of two developed countries in the world who grant citizenship based on location of birth. This policy is a magnet for illegal immigration, out of the mainstream of the developed world, and needs to come to an end.

United States slams removal of Pakistan’s ban on JuD, FIF

  • The US today said, recent removal of the ban on Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa, JuD and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation, FIF runs counter to Pakistan’s commitment to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
  • It said, the move would jeopardise the country’s ability to meet its commitments to fight terrorism under the UN Security Council resolution. A State Department spokesperson told PTI that the expiration of the ban on these terrorist outfits is contrary to Islamabad’s commitment to work with FATF to address weaknesses in its counter-terrorism financing regime.
  • The spokesperson said, the US is deeply concerned that this development will jeopardise Pakistan’s ability to meet its commitments under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 to freeze and prevent the raising and moving of funds belonging to UN-designated terrorist groups.
  • The spokesperson was responding to a question on the recent lapse of the ordinance that led to lifting of the ban on the two outfits in Pakistan.


Meeting of Financial Stability and Development Council held

  • The Financial Stability and Development Council, FSDC, held a meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday which was presided over by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
  • RBI Governor Urjit Patel, financial sector regulators and top officials of the Finance Ministry attended the meeting.
  • It reviewed the progress in setting up a Computer Emergency Response Team in the financial sector under a statutory framework.
  • The Council took note of the activities undertaken by the FSDC sub-committee chaired by the RBI Governor.

Govt has no plan to privatize profit-making industrial units, says Nitin Gadkari

  • Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari laid the foundation stone for the country’s largest Dry Dock at Cochin Shipyard in Kerala.
  • It is being constructed at a cost of 1,799 rupees crore and will be completed by May 2021.
  • It is expected to generate employment opportunities for about 2,000 people.
  • The Centre has a plan to invest in Inland Waterways in Kerala. He lauded the contributions of Cochin Shipyard in the field of skill training in ship building.
  • The Cochin Shipyard has played a key role in the economic development of Kerala.
  • The new initiative would further boost the economic prospect of the State and India’s share in global shipping Industry will rise to two per cent.


Malala Yousafzai to be honoured by Harvard University for her work promoting girls’ education

  • Nobel Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai will be honoured by Harvard University for her work promoting girls’ education.
  • Harvard’s Kennedy School said Yousafzai will be conferred with the 2018 Gleitsman Award at a ceremony on 6th December.
  • Yousafzai became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 when she was recognized for her global work supporting schooling for all children. As a teen in Pakistan, she survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban. She later founded the nonprofit Malala Fund to support her work.
  • Now aged 20, Yousafzai is a student at Oxford University in England.
  • The Gleitsman Award provides 125,000 US dollars for activism that has improved quality of life around the world. 


India among nations that face grave danger to soil biodiversity: WWF

  • India’s soil biodiversity is in grave peril, according to the Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas prepared by the World Wide Fund for Nature.
  • The WWF’s ‘risk index’ for the globe — indicating threats from loss of above-ground diversity, pollution and nutrient over-loading, over-grazing, intensive agriculture, fire, soil erosion, desertification and climate change — shows India among countries whose soil biodiversity faces the highest level of risk.
  • Coloured red on the Atlas, these include Pakistan, China, several countries in Africa and Europe, and most of North America.
  • The two key drivers of biodiversity loss were the over-exploitation of natural resources and agriculture, the WWF added in its report.
  • While India’s per capita ecological footprint was less than 1.75 hectares/person (the lowest band among countries surveyed), its high population made it vulnerable to an ecological crisis, even if per-capita consumption remained at current levels, the WWF warned.

Soil Biodiversity

  • Soil biodiversity is generally defined as the variability of living organisms in soil and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.
  • The threat – decline in Soil Biodiversity – has been described as a reduction of forms of life living in soils (both in terms of quantity and variety) and of related functions.

Significance of Soils

  • Soils are a globally important reservoir of biodiversity. They contain at least one quarter to one-third of all living organisms on the planet yet little is known about them, as only around 1% of soil microorganisms have been identified compared to 80% of plants.

Reasons for soil biodiversity:

  • Soil biodiversity decline is usually related to some other deterioration in soil quality and at local levels, it is clear that biodiversity is in decline.
  • For example, soil sealing (the permanent covering of soil with hard surfaces, such as roads and buildings) causes the death of the soil biota by cutting off water and carbon and nutrient inputs.
  • Also soil biodiversity decline can be linked with erosion, organic matter depletion, salinization, contamination and compaction.

China eases ban on tiger and rhino parts, conservationists alarmed

  • China unveiled new rules on October 30 that would allow the use of rhino horn and tiger parts for some medical and cultural purposes, watering down a decades-old ban
  • WWF stated could have “devastating consequences”.
  • China’s State Council issued a notice replacing its 1993 ban on the trade of tiger bones and rhino horn.
  • The new rules ban the sale, use, import and export of such products, but allow exceptions under “special circumstances”, such as medical and scientific research, educational use, and as part of “cultural exchanges”.
  • Beijing banned trade in tiger bones and rhino horns, both prized in traditional Chinese medicine, 25 years ago as part of global efforts to halt declining animal stocks. But illegal poaching has continued, driven by demand in an increasingly affluent country.
  • Commercial tiger farms in China are legal, and although using tiger bones in medicine was banned, tiger parts from these farms often end up being made into tonics or other medicines.

GS-III(Science & technology)

World’s biggest amphibious plane takes flight

  • The AG600 completed its first takeoff and landing on water at a reservoir in China’s central Hubei province.
  • The AG600 is the world’s largest amphibious airplane.
  •  The plane is also known as the Kunlong and was developed independently by China.
  • According to China’s state-owned Xinhua news agency, it took off from the water and landed steadily after a 14-minute flight. The 121-foot-long aircraft is about 40 feet tall and has a 127-foot wingspan.
  • That makes it roughly the size of a Boeing 737. It has a range of 2,800 miles and a cruising speed of about 310 mph. it can fly for up to 12 hours.

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