Daily Current Affairs | 18th May 2020

International Museum Day 2020: Date, Theme and Significance of the Occasion 

The Ministry of Culture hosted a webinar on “Revitalising Museums and Cultural Spaces” to celebrate the International Museum Day.

  • The National e-Governance Division (NeGD) created by the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) provided technical assistance for conducting the Webinar.
  • The International Museum Day is celebrated every year on 18 May to raise awareness about the fact that “museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.”
  • The International Museum Day 2020 was celebrated with the theme “Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion”.
  • International Museum Day was instituted in 1977 by the International Council of Museums (ICOM).

International Council of Museum

  • ICOM is the main and only organisation of museums and museum professionals with global scope, committed to promotion and protection of natural and cultural heritage, present and future, tangible and intangible.
  • It was created in 1946 and is headquartered in Paris, France.It serves as a network of museum professionals (35,000 members in 137 countries) acting in a wide range of museum- and heritage-related disciplines.

Administration of Museums in India

  • Multiple ministries hold charges of various Museums.
  • Not all Museums are administered by the Ministry of Culture.
  • Some are run without government support by a handful of people under a Board of Trustees.
  • The Budget 2020proposed the setting up of an Indian Institute of Heritage and Conservation with the status of a deemed university under the Ministry of Culture.
  • The National Portal and Digital Repository for Indian Museums(under the Ministry of Culture) have been launched for digitisation of the collections of the Museums.

Notable Museums in India

  • National Museum, New Delhi (Subordinate Office under the Ministry of Culture)
  • National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru
  • Victoria Memorial Hall (VMH), Kolkata
  • Asiatic Society, Kolkata
  • National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), New Delhi

 

Structural reforms in 8 key sectors to boost economy, says FM

Recently, the Union Finance Minister announced the fourth tranche of Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan targeted towards fast track investments in the eight sectors.

  • The fourth tranche focuses on eight sectorsnamely, coal, minerals, defence production, civil aviation, power distribution, social infrastructure, space and atomic energy.
  • The announced measures also form a part of the Rs. 20 lakh crore economic stimulus package to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The government has already announced the Economic Stimulus-I, the Economic Stimulus-IIand the Economic Stimulus-III.

Basis of Policy Reforms for Fast-track Investments

  • Fast tracking of investment clearancethrough the Empowered Group of Secretaries.
  • Establishment of Project Development Cellin each Ministry to prepare a list of investable projects and also to coordinate with investors and Central/State Governments.
  • Ranking of States on investment attractivenessto compete for new investment.
  • Incentive schemes for promotion ofnew champion sectors such as solar PhotoVoltaic (PV) manufacturing; advanced cell battery storage etc.

Finance Minister announced following policy reforms to fast track investment in an effort towards Aatma Nirbhar Bharat:

    1. There will be fast tracking of investment clearance through Empowered Group of Secretaries.
    2. Project Development Cell will be constituted in each Ministry to prepare investible projects, coordinate with investors and Central/State Governments.
    3. There will be ranking of States on investment attractiveness to compete for new investment.
    4. Incentive schemes for promotion of new champion sectors will be launched in sectors such as solar PV manufacturing; advanced cell battery storage etc.

Smt. Sitharaman also announced that a scheme will be implemented in States through challenge mode for Industrial Cluster Upgradation of common infrastructure facilities and connectivity. There will be availability of industrial land/land banks for promoting new investments and making information available on Industrial Information System (IIS) with GIS mapping. 3376 Industrial Parks/ Estates/SEZs in five lakh hectares are mapped on IIS. All Industrial Parks will be ranked during 2020-21.

The Finance Minister today announced the following structural reforms in the eight sectors of Coal, Minerals, Defence production, Civil AviationPower Sector, Social Infrastructure, Space and Atomic energy. 

The details are as follows:

A. COAL SECTOR

  1. Introduction of Commercial Mining in Coal Sector

The Government will introduce competition, transparency and private sector participation in the Coal Sector through:

  1. A revenue sharing mechanism instead of regime of fixed Rupee/tonne. Any party can bid for a coal block and sell in the open market.
  2. Entry norms will be liberalised. Nearly 50 Blocks will be offered immediately. There will not be any eligibility conditions, only upfront payment with a ceiling will be provided.
  3. There will be exploration-cum-production regime for partially explored blocks against earlier provision of auction of fully explored coal blocks. This will allow private sector participation in exploration.
  4. Production earlier than scheduled will be incentivized through rebate in revenue-share.

2. Diversified Opportunities in Coal Sector

  1. Coal Gasification / Liquefication will be incentivised through rebate in revenue share. This will result in significantly lower environment impact and also assist India in switching to a gas-based economy.
  1. Infrastructure development of Rs. 50,000 crore will be done for evacuation of enhanced Coal India Limited’s (CIL) target of 1 billion tons coal production by 2023-24 plus coal production from private blocks. This will include Rs 18,000 crore worth of investment in mechanised transfer of coal (conveyor belts) from mines to railway sidings. This measure will also help reduce environmental impact.

3. Liberalised Regime in Coal Sector

      1. Coal Bed Methane (CBM) extraction rights will be auctioned from Coal India Limited’s (CIL) coal mines.
      2. Ease of Doing Business measures, such as Mining Plan simplification, will be taken. This will allow for automatic 40% increase in annual production.
      3. Concessions in commercial terms given to CIL’s consumers (relief worth Rs 5,000 crore offered). Reserve price in auctions for non-power consumers reduced, credit terms eased, and lifting period has been enhanced.
  1. MINERAL SECTOR
        1. Enhancing Private Investments in the Mineral Sector

There will be structural reforms to boost growth, employment and bring state-of-the-art technology especially in exploration through:

  1. Introduction of a seamless composite exploration-cum-mining-cum-production regime.
  2. 500 mining blocks would be offered through an open and transparent auction process.
  3. Joint Auction of Bauxite and Coal mineral blocks to enhance Aluminum  Industry’s competitiveness will be introduced to help Aluminum industry reduce electricity costs.

2. Policy reforms in Mineral Sector

The distinction between captive and non-captive mines to allow transfer of mining leases and sale of surplus unused minerals, leading to better efficiency in mining and production shall be removed. Ministry of Mines is in the process of developing a Mineral Index for different minerals. There will be rationalisation of stamp duty payable at the time of award of mining leases.

C. DEFENCE SECTOR

  1. Enhancing Self Reliance in Defence Production
  1. Make in India’ for Self-Reliance in Defence Production will be promoted by notifying a list of weapons/platforms for ban on import with year wise timelines, Indigenisation of imported spares, and separate budget provisioning for domestic capital procurement. This will help reduce huge Defence import bill.
  1. Improve autonomy, accountability and efficiency in Ordnance Supplies by Corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board.
  1. Policy Reforms in Defence Production
  1. FDI limit in the Defence manufacturing under automatic route will be raised from 49% to 74%.
  1. There will be time-bound defence procurement process and faster decision making will be ushered in by setting up of a Project Management Unit (PMU) to support contract management; Realistic setting of General Staff Qualitative Requirements (GSQRs) of weapons/platforms and overhauling Trial and Testing procedures.

D.CIVIL AVIATION SECTOR

  1. Efficient Airspace Management for Civil Aviation

Restrictions on utilisation of the Indian Air Space will be eased so that civilian flying becomes more efficient. This will bring a total benefit of about Rs 1,000 crore per year for the aviation sector. This will lead to optimal utilization of airspace; reduction in fuel use, time and will have positive environmental impact.

  1.  More World-Class Airports through PPP

6 more airports have been identified for 2nd round bidding for Operation and Maintenance on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) basis. Additional Investment by private players in 12 airports in 1st and 2nd rounds is expected to bring around Rs. 13,000 crore. Another 6 airports will be put out for the third round of bidding.

  1.  India to become a global hub for Aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO)

Tax regime for MRO ecosystem has been rationalized. Aircraft component repairs and airframe maintenance to increase from Rs 800 crore to Rs 2,000 crore in three years. It is expected that major engine manufacturers in the world would set up engine repair facilities in India in the coming year.  Convergence between Defence sector and the civil MROs will be established to create economies of scale. This will lead to maintenance cost of airlines to come down.

E.POWER SECTOR

1.   Tariff Policy Reform

Tariff Policy laying out the following reforms will be released:

(i) Consumer Rights

  1. DISCOM inefficiencies not to burden consumers
  2. Standards of Service and associated penalties for DISCOMs
  3. DISCOMs to ensure adequate power; load-shedding to be penalized

(ii) Promote Industry

  1. Progressive reduction in cross subsidies
  2. Time bound grant of open access
  3. Generation and transmission project developers to be selected competitively

(iii) Sustainability of Sector

  1. No Regulatory Assets
  2. Timely payment of Gencos
  3. DBT for subsidy; Smart prepaid meters

2.  Privatization of Distribution in UTs

Power Departments /  Utilities in Union Territories will be privatised. This will lead to better service to consumers and improvement in operational and financial efficiency in Distribution. This will also provide a model for emulation by other Utilities across the country.

F. SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE: BOOSTING PRIVATE SECTOR INVESTMENT THROUGH REVAMPED VIABILITY GAP FUNDING SCHEME  – Rs 8,100 CRORE

The Government will enhance the quantum of Viability Gap Funding (VGF) upto 30% each of Total Project Cost as VGF by the Centre and State/Statutory Bodies. For other sectors, VGF existing support of 20 % each from Government of India and States/Statutory Bodies shall continue. Total outlay is Rs. 8,100 crore. Projects shall be proposed by Central Ministries/ State Government/ Statutory entities.

G. SPACE SECTOR: BOOSTING PRIVATE PARTICIPATION IN SPACE ACTIVITIES

There shall be level playing field provided to private companies in satellites, launches and space-based services. Predictable policy and regulatory environment to private players will be provided. Private sector will be allowed to use ISRO facilities and other relevant assets to improve their capacities.  Future projects for planetary exploration, outer space travel etc shall also be open for private sector. There will be liberal geo-spatial data policy for providing remote-sensing data to tech-entrepreneurs.

H. ATOMIC ENERGY RELATED REFORMS

Research reactor in PPP mode for production of medical isotopes shall be established to promote welfare of humanity through affordable treatment for cancer and other diseases. Facilities in PPP mode to use irradiation technology for food preservation – to compliment agricultural reforms and assist farmers shall also be established. India’s robust start-up ecosystem will be linked to nuclear sector and for this, Technology Development-cum-Incubation Centres will be set up for fostering synergy between research facilities and tech-entrepreneurs.

Criticism

  • It is considered to be less of a stimulus and more of industrial reforms,which could have been announced at any time.
  • It has been also observed that the only direct budgetary cost in this tranche was the Rs. 8,100 crore to be provided as a raised 30% viability gap funding to boost private investment in social sector infrastructure.
  • The fourth tranche covered sectors of strategic importance but these policies will be rolled out over a 3-6 month period, and any implication for supporting or reviving the economy as it comes out of lockdown is missing.

 

India welcomes Afghan power-sharing deal

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and political rival Abdullah Abdullah have signed a power-sharing agreement two months after both declared themselves the winner of last presidential election.

What’s the Deal?

  • The deal calls for Abdullah to lead the country’s National Reconciliation High Council and some members of Abdullah’s team would be included in Ghani’s Cabinet.
  • Ghani would remain President of the war-torn nation.
  • The Reconciliation Council has been given the authority to handle and approve all affairs related to Afghanistan’s peace process.

Why a deal?

  • Afghanistan has been in political disarray since the country’s Election Commission in December announced Mr. Ghani had won the September 28 election with more than 50% of the vote.
  • Abdullah had received more than 39% of the vote, according to the EC, but he and the Elections Complaint Commission charged widespread voting irregularities.
  • Ghani and Mr. Abdullah both declared themselves president in parallel inauguration ceremonies in March.
  • The discord then prompted the Trump administration to announce it would cut $1 billion in assistance to Afghanistan if the two weren’t able to work out their differences.

Role of the US

  • A peace agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban signed February 29 calls for U.S. and NATO troops to leave Afghanistan.
  • It was seen at the time as Afghanistan’s best chance at peace in decades of war.
  • Since then, the U.S. has been trying to get the Taliban and the Afghan government to begin intra-Afghan negotiations, but the political turmoil and personal acrimony between the two impeded talks.

India’s Stand

  • India has welcomed the power-sharing deal between President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah.
  • It hope that the power-sharing deal will result in renewed efforts for establishing enduring peace and stability, and putting an end to externally-sponsored terrorism and violence in Afghanistan.

Importance of Afghanistan for India:
Afghanistan’s main advantage is its geography.

  • Anyone who controls Afghanistan controls the land routes between the Indian subcontinent, Iran, and resource-rich Central Asia.
  • Economically, it is a gateway to the oil and mineral-rich Central Asian republics.
  • Afghanistan has become the second-largest recipient of Indian foreign aid over the last five years.
  • India has become more and more popular in Afghanistan, not only because of its soft power, but also by setting up infrastructure, including hospitals, roads and dams, and contributing to the fabric of a democratic nation-state.

 

National Migrant Information System (NMIS) – a central online repository on Migrant Workers – developed by NDMA to facilitate their seamless movement across States

Recently, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has developed an online dashboard called ‘National Migrant Information System (NMIS)’.

  • The online portal (NMIS) would maintain a central repository of migrant workersand help in speedy inter-state communication to facilitate the smooth movement of migrant workers to their native places.
  • Thekey data pertaining to the persons migrating has been standardized for uploading such as name, age, mobile no., originating and destination district, date of travel etc.
  • States will be able to visualize how many people are going out from where and how many are reaching their destination States.
  • It has additional advantages likecontact tracing, which may be useful in overall Covid-19 response work.
    • The mobile numbers of people can be used for contact tracing and movement monitoring during Covid-19.
    • Contact tracingis the process of identification of persons who may have come into contact with an infected person and subsequent collection of further information about these contacts.
  • The Government of India has allowed the movement of migrant workers by buses and ‘Shramik’ special trainsto enable them to travel to their native places.

National Disaster Management Authority

  • The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is theapex statutory body for disaster management in India.
  • It was constituted in accordance with the Disaster Management Act, 2005with the Prime Minister as its Chairperson and nine other members, and one such member to be designated as Vice-Chairperson.
  • Mandate:Its primary purpose is to coordinate response to natural or man-made disasters and for capacity-building in disaster resiliency and crisis response.
    • It is also theapex body to lay down policies, plans and guidelines for Disaster Management to ensure timely and effective response to disasters.
  • Vision:To build a safer and disaster resilient India by a holistic, proactive, technology driven and sustainable development strategy that involves all stakeholders and fosters a culture of prevention, preparedness and mitigation.

Syndemics of COVID-19  

The possibilities of Covid-19 being syndemic have been raised in the backdrop of the World Health Organization (WHO) announcement that Covid-19 less likely to be eliminated (i.e. may become endemic).

  • The rapid spread of Covid-19 across the world has been characterized as ‘Pandemic’by the WHO.

Note

  • Pandemic:A pandemic is declared when a new disease for which people do not have immunity spreads around the world beyond expectations.
  • Epidemic:An epidemic is a large outbreak, one that spreads among a population or region. It is less severe than pandemic due to a limited area of spread.
  • Endemic:A disease is called endemic when the presence or usual prevalence of its infectious agent is constant within a given geographical area or population group.
  • Definition
    • A syndemic is a situation when two or more epidemics interact synergistically to produce an increased burden of disease in a population.
    • A situation of syndemic was first described by medical anthropologist Merrill Singer in the mid-1990s.
  • Possibility of Syndemic in the Current Scenario:
    • Covid-19 Pandemic and Presence of Dengue, Malaria:
      • The least possibility of elimination of Covid-19 pandemic and warning about the second wave of Covid-19 infections worldwide have reinforced the presence of Covid-19 for the long term.
      • Meanwhile, the alarm is being raised about diseases like dengue and malaria emerging with the upcoming monsoon season in tropical South Asia.
      • Thus, there is a possibility that the world will face increased burden of the diseases and thus the situation of syndemic.
    • Presence of Antibiotic Resistance:
      • The second wave of infection due to Covid-19 is suspected to be seen in those with weakened immunity.
      • At the same time, the world already faces antibiotic resistance and if Covid-19 deepens as a syndemic in populations with antibiotic resistance, the world will face comorbidities.
      • Comorbidity is the presence of one or more additional conditions co-occurring with a primary condition.
      • Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria or other microbes to resist the effects of an antibiotic. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections.
    • Past Instances of Syndemic:
      • The 1957 Asian influenza pandemic observed deaths not only due to the primary viral infection, but also due to secondary bacterial infections among influenza patients. In short, it was a viral/bacterial syndemic.
      • Meanwhile, researchers have shown that in Kenya, 5% of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infections are due to higher HIV infectiousness of malaria-infected HIV patients.
    • Possible Solutions:
      • Whole world will need to implement large-scale population testing for Covid-19 (such as PCR and antibody testing) to contain it at its base level.
      • The societies around the world will also have to consider innovations in population health surveillance technology and develop creative business models at a scale.

Ladakh sector’s Galwan Valley and its history in Sino-India relations  

Recently, Chinese media has accused India of building defence facilities in the Galwan Valley region of the contested Aksai Chin area.

  • China controls Aksai Chin area, while India claims that it is part of Indian territory(Union territory of Ladakh).
  • Chinese media claims that the actions by the Indian side have seriously violated China and India’s agreements on border issues.
    • It also claims that India has violated China’s territorial sovereignty and harmed military relations between the two countries.
  • India has not responded to the accusation yet.
  • The latest round of conflict comes days after Indian and Chinese troops clashed in the NakuLa area in north Sikkim and Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh.
  • India and China have an unresolved 3488 km long border disputethat has cast a shadow on ties for decades.
  • Prolonged rounds of negotiations have failed to resolve the dispute between the two neighbours.
  • However, in the Wuhanand Mahabalipuram summits, both China and India had reaffirmed that they will make efforts to “ensure peace and tranquility in the border areas”.
  • Also, on 1stApril, 2020 India and China completed their 70 years of diplomatic relations.

Dispute over Aksai Chin

  • During the time of British rule in India, two borders between India and China were proposed-Johnson’s Line and McDonald Line.
    • The Johnson’s line (proposed in 1865) shows Aksai Chin in erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir(now Ladakh) i.e. under India’s control whereas McDonald Line (proposed in 1893) places it under China’s control.
    • India considers Johnson Line as a correct, rightful national border with China, while on the other hand, China considers the McDonald Line as the correct border with India.
  • At present, Line of Actual Control (LAC) is the line separating Indian areas of Ladakh from Aksai Chin. It is concurrent with the Chinese Aksai Chin claim line.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email