Current Affairs 20th February

Modi launches slew of infra projects in Kerala #GS2 #Governance

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a bevy of infrastructure projects in Kerala, including the 2,000-MW Pugalur-Thrissur high voltage direct current (HVDC) power transmission corridor.

He said the power transmission corridor would ensure the transfer of a large quantum of power from the national grid to the State and guarantee reliable access to electricity.

Stating that “development is our aim, development is our religion,” the Prime Minister also inaugurated, via videoconference, a 50-MW solar park in Kasaragod and a 75-mld (million litres a day) water treatment plant at Aruvikkara, Thiruvananthapuram, and launched the work on two Smart City Mission initiatives in the capital — the Rs. 427-crore 37-km Smart Road project and the Integrated Command and Control Centre at the City Corporation.

National grid link

The Pugalur-Thrissur line is Kerala’s first HVDC inter-connection with the national grid and the country’s first system to use the voltage source converter technology.

Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram had made significant progress under the Smart Cities Mission. Under the mission, 27 projects worth Rs. 770 crore had been completed in the two cities, while 68 projects worth Rs. 2,000 crore were in the pipeline. As many as 175 water supply projects worth Rs. 1,100 crore were being taken up in Kerala under AMRUT, he said.

Mr. Modi said the government was giving utmost importance to the blue economy. Development strategies targeting the fishermen community were based on “more credit, increased technology, top-quality infrastructure, and supportive government policies”. Government policies would ensure that India became a hub of seafood exports, he added.

Under the Smart Cities Mission initiatives, the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, the State, and the Centre were implementing projects worth Rs. 1,135 crore in the corporation. Under the Rs. 427-crore, Smart Roads project, 37 km of city roads would be developed with amenities, including footpath, cycle tracks, and utility corridors.

Benefit of the NewsExample for Smart city mission & National Power Grid.

India, China complete Pangong Tso withdrawal #GS2 #IR

India and China have completed disengagement on the north and south banks of Pangong Tso (lake) in eastern Ladakh, and the 10th round of Corps Commander talks are to be held in Moldo on the Chinese side around 10 a.m. to discuss pullbacks from other friction areas, a defence official said on Friday.

Disengagement was fully complete as per an agreement and had been jointly verified by both sides. In line with the agreement, all landforms have been restored to that as existed before April 2020. As per the agreement for Pangong Tso, the next commanders talk is to be held within 48 hours after the completion of withdrawal from the lake.

The other major friction areas between the two countries are Gogra, Hot Springs and Depsang Plans. The focus of the next round of talks is expected to be on complete disengagement from the friction points at Gogra and Hot Springs. Some pullback had taken place at Patrolling Points (PP) 15 and 17A in Gogra and Hot Springs, and the process stopped after the developments on the south bank of the lake in end-August.

The second official said that with disengagement completed on both the banks, withdrawal from the PP15 and PP17A should not take too long and could be completed quickly once an agreement was reached.

Disengagement from PP14 at Galwan and partial disengagement from PP15 and 17A began in June last and continued in July even after the clash at Galwan on June 15. With disengagement now complete, a moratorium on patrolling by both sides in the Pangong Tso area has come into effect.

To ensure that there is no violation of the agreement by China, there is monitoring by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and cameras have been installed at several locations, the second official stated, adding that the entire area was visible from multiple heights.

On the north bank, Chinese troops have withdrawn to east of Finger 8, while Indian troops have moved back to the Dhan Singh Thapa post near Finger 3.

Benefit of the NewsIndia- China Border disputes

NEP is a milestone to self-reliant India: PM #GS2 #Governance

Describing the new education policy as a major milestone in the making of a self-reliant nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore developed systems at Visva-Bharati which were the medium of modernising Indian education and freeing it from the shackles of slavery.

Mr. Modi, who was virtually addressing the convocation at Visva-Bharati University, said the new education policy promoted entrepreneurship and self-employment, research and innovation. “This education policy is a major milestone in the making of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat.

The Prime Minister said West Bengal had served as an inspiration for ‘Ek Bharat-Shreshth Bharat’ (One India-Superior India) and added that Visva-Bharati would play a big role in the 21st century knowledge economy, taking Indian knowledge and identity to every corner of the world.

He urged the students of Visva-Bharati to prepare a vision document for next 25 years about when the country would celebrate 100 years of independence.

The Prime Minister said Gurudev Tagore named the university Visva-Bharati, meaning ‘Global University’, since he expected that anyone who came to learn in the university would see the whole world from the point of view of India. He said Visva-Bharati was not just a knowledge imparting institution but an attempt to reach highest goal about realising the self.

Benefit of the NewsTagore view point.

New PSE policy envisages at most 4 strategic-sector firms’ #GS3 #Economy

The new public sector enterprises policy envisages that the strategic sectors have limited number of players restricting it to maximum four public sector enterprises of a holding nature. Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) Secretary Sailesh said the remaining enterprises would be rationalised in terms of mergers, amalgamations and privatisation if feasible.

As part of the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced that there would be a maximum of four public sector companies in strategic sectors, and state-owned firms in other segments would eventually be privatised.

We need to ensure that the desired results are achieved in the collaborative effect of the private sector to enhance wealth, improve R&D, and growth of the economy.

The Secretary also said that with the announcements of the new PSU policy, the government wished to have a strong and impactful public sector in a strategic sector. “MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) have the potential in the sectors such as defence, infrastructure, manufacturing, power, petroleum, coal, mining, ports, airports, and many more, which will help to create better running of government assets.

Benefit of the NewsNew PSE policy

In Australia PM Scott Morrison call to Modi, news Bill to rein in Big Tech firms #GS2 #IR

Australia has reached out to India among several countries, including Canada, France and the UK, in a move to stitch a global coalition against tech giants Google and Facebook amid a faceoff over compensation for sharing news content from media companies on their platforms.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, and later said that they “discussed the progress” on Australia’s “News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code Bill 2020”.

Under the proposed law — News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code Bill 2020 — Australia seeks to mandate a bargaining code that aims to force Google and Facebook to compensate media companies for using their content. The legislation is being closely watched the world over, given that it sets a precedent in regulating social media across geographies.

While Google has agreed to pay news organisations in Australia, Facebook has decided to black out news content from the country on its social networking platform.

From Monday, the Bill will be debated in the Australian Senate, which is expected to adopt the law by the end of the week. It has already been passed by the lower House of Australian Parliament.

Morrison has said that the country’s fight to make Facebook pay for news content could go global as he has had “promising” talks with other world leaders. He said that he has spoken to Modi and Canada’s Justin Trudeau about the ban.

French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson are also “watching closely” as Australia battles it out with Facebook, Morrison said.

It is common for leaders to state their national priorities in their readouts of the same calls. While the media Bill is important for Morrison, Modi had underlined Indo-Pacific as key takeaway, especially with the Foreign Ministers of the Quad grouping holding a meeting.

Ahead of the laws getting passed, Google and Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp entered into an agreement earlier his week that will see Google paying NewsCorp for premium content. The deal is being pegged as one of the most extensive agreements between big tech and a media house. Google is also trying to enter into deals with major publishers in the UK, Germany, Brazil and Argentina.

In India, policymakers have so far focused on the dominance of intermediaries such as Google and Facebook, which are positioned in a way that service providers cannot reach customers except through these platforms. However, a substantial discussion on the impact of intermediary platforms on the health of news media outlets is yet to commence in any meaningful way.

Lashing out at Facebook, Morrison said in a post on the platform: “Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing. I am in regular contact with the leaders of other nations on these issues.”

Benefit of the News–  Recent Australia new bill for Digital Platforms

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