- In November, 2018, the governments of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal withdrew ‘general consent’ to the CBI to register fresh cases under its purview. One implication of the decision is that the CBI will have to obtain the State’s consent case by case.
- Absconding liquor baron Vijay Mallya became the first person to be declared a fugitive economic offender by the special court hearing cases under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act (FEOA). The FEOA, which became a law on July 31, 2018, allows for declaring a person as an offender after an arrest warrant has been issued against the individual and the value of offences exceeds Rs. 100 crore. Another condition for declaring a person a fugitive economic offender (FEO) is when the individual refuses to return to the country to face prosecution. As per the new law, a special FEOA court can order the confiscation of a FEO’s properties, including those which are benami, and the proceeds of crime in and outside India. Once properties are confiscated, the Union government has the right over them, and it can dispose them after 90 days.
- Agasthyarkoodam, is the second highest peak in Kerala and is located in the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala. The government of Kerala recently lifted the ban on women trekking the peak.
- BeiDou Navigation Satellite System — China’s homegrown Global Positioning System.
- Seven cities – all in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh – have been certified ODF++, according to the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban. The certification, an extension of the ODF or Open Defecation Free protocol, means that all the faecal sludge and sewage in these cities is treated scientifically before discharge. The seven cities are Indore, Khargone, Sahaganj, Ujjain, Bhilai, Rajnandgaon and Ambikapur. The Urban Affairs Ministry is setting up a sub-mission on faecal sludge management under its AMRUT scheme.
- EVMs replaced the paper ballot system in the Kerala State elections in 1982 and are now used during Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. EVMs are easy to operate, reliable, eliminate the possibility of invalid votes, make the process of counting faster, and are easier to transport compared to ballot boxes. Only two Indian public sector units manufacture EVMs: Bharat Electronic Limited and the Electronics Corporation of Indian Ltd.
- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched the country’s first electronic surveillance satellite, EMISAT. Space-based electronic intelligence or ELINT from the 436-kg spacecraft will add teeth to situational awareness of the armed forces as it will provide location and information of hostile radars placed at the borders; this will be another dimension to the current land or aircraft-based ELINT.
- To better the safety standards in rail travel, Indian Railways has decided to use Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) design coaches and stop production of the old ICF design coaches. As compared to Integral Coach Factory (ICF) design coaches, the LHB design coaches are lighter in weight. They also have higher carrying capacity as well as higher speed potential. Also, other than these features, the LHB design coaches have increased codal life and better safety features, says Indian Railways. LHB coaches also have anti-climbing features, so that in case of a collision, the coaches do not climb on top of each other. From April 2018 onwards, only LHB coaches would be manufactured by production units of the national transporter. In Union Budget for 2017-18 a fund called ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh’ (RRSK) was announced. The fund has been created with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore, which is to be utilized over a period of five years for replacement, renewal as well as for upgradation of critical safety assets.
- Andhra Pradesh’s second largest petroglyph (a rock carving, especially a prehistoric one) site, containing about 80 petroglyhs, in Kurnool district. These petroglyphs, or rock carvings, underscore Kurnool’s importance as a major site of Neolithic settlements in south India. Kandanathi, with 200 petroglyphs, is also in Kurnool district. While Mekala Benchi has petroglyphs dating back from the Neolithic to the Megalithic period, Kandanathi carvings range from the prehistoric to the historic period. These petroglyphs mostly have images of bulls or bull-riding, in addition to human figures, an elephant, tiger-like animals and cupules.
- Settled village life and the finished stone axe are salient features of the period (2900 BCE-1000 BCE). Neolithic communities settled on top of granitoid hills or levelled terraces on hillsides or on valley floors. Neolithic people were the early pastoral community. The present day Gollas and Kurubas (grazing communities), who are predominant in Kurnool, are the living examples of the first pastoralists. Incidentally, the Gollas also use beautifully finished axes made of iron, which look very similar to the fine polished stone axes of the Neolithic era.
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