CURRENT AFFAIRS 18 th Dec 2017

1 .IAF Phases out  MI 8 “PRATAP” helicopters

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  • The Indian Air Force’s Soviet era multi-utility medium lift Mi-8 helicopters were phased out of service in a ceremony on Sunday.
  • MI-8 also called PRATAP has been the backbone of medium lift combat capability of Indian Air Force.
  • The MI-8 helicopter arrived in India in the year 1971 at Bombay and were formally inducted in the Indian Air Force helicopter inventory in the year 1972.
  • Between 1971 and 1988, Indian Air Force inducted 107 MI-8 helicopters, rechristened as the “PRATAP”.
  • MI-8’s served for 45 years after their induction and is currently being phased out.


2 . India is the second largest producer of horticultural crops and fruits in the World

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  • Research and development projects in horticulture crops have yielded encouraging results, as a result, the production of horticulture crops have been more than food grains irrespective of adverse climatic conditions.
  • Today after China, India is the second largest producer of horticultural crops and fruits.
  • More than 9 crore metric ton of fruits on 63 lakhs hectare land were produced during 2015-16.
  • According to an estimate, production of 30 crore metric ton horticulture crops on 2.5 crore hectare land is expected during 2016-17 .
  • The record achievement includes 42 million ton of fruit production on 65 lakh hectare land.
  • In terms of area in India, the citrus fruits hold second position (10.37 lakh hectare) and third (12 million tonnes) in production.


  • Establishment of National Horticulture Board (NHB) by the Government of India in 1984 as an autonomous society under the
    Societies Registration Act 1860. Board has its Head Quarter in  Gurgaon (Haryana).
  • List of schemes administered by NHB-

(i) Development of Commercial Horticulture through Production and Post Harvest Management of Horticulture Crops
(ii) Capital Investment Subsidy Scheme for construction/ expansion/ modernization of Cold Storages/Storages of
Horticulture Produce
(iii) Technology Development and Transfer for promotion of Horticulture
(iv) Market Information Service for Horticulture Crops
(v) Horticulture Promotion Service


The broad aims & objectives of all the above mentioned schemes are as under :-
i) Development of hi-tech commercial horticulture in identified belts and make such areas vibrant with horticultural
activity, which in turn will act as hubs for development of horticulture
ii) Development of modern post-harvest management infrastructure as an integral part of area expansion projects
or as common facility for cluster of projects
iii) Development of integrated, energy efficient cold chain infrastructure for fresh horticulture produce,
iv) Popularization of identified new technologies / tools / techniques for commercialization / adoption, after carrying
out technology need assessment
v) Assistance in securing availability of quality planting material by promoting setting up of scion and root stock
banks / mother plant nurseries and carrying out accreditation / rating of horticulture nurseries and need based
imports of planting material.
vi) Promotion and market development of fresh horticulture produce.


3 .  Uighur- China discord in Xinjiang

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  • Chinese authorities are using detentions and data-driven surveillance to impose a police state over the region of Xinjiang and its 10 million Uighurs.
  • Unprecedented levels of police blanket Xinjiang’s streets in many cities. Cutting-edge surveillance systems track where Uighurs go, what they read, who they talk to and what they say.

Who are the Uighurs?

The Uighurs are Muslims. They regard themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations.The region’s economy has for centuries revolved around agriculture and trade, with towns such as Kashgar thriving as hubs along the famous Silk Road.

In the early part of the 20th Century, the Uighurs briefly declared independence. The region was brought under the complete control of communist China in 1949.Xinjiang is officially designated an autonomous region within China, like Tibet to its south.

What are their grievances?

Activists say central government policies have gradually curtailed the Uighurs’ religious, commercial and cultural activities. Beijing is accused of intensifying a crackdown after street protests in Xinjiang in the 1990s, and again in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Over the past decade, many prominent Uighurs have been imprisoned or have sought asylum abroad after being accused of terrorism. Mass immigration of Han Chinese to Xinjiang had made Uighurs a minority in Xinjiang.Beijing is accused of exaggerating the threat from Uighur separatists in order to justify repression in the region.

What is the view from Beijing?

China’s central government says Uighur militants are waging a violent campaign for an independent state by plotting bombings, sabotage and civic unrest.Since the 9/11 attacks in the US, China has increasingly portrayed its Uighur separatists as auxiliaries of al-Qaeda, saying they have received training in Afghanistan. Little evidence has been produced in support of these claims.