16th Feb, 2019-IAS Current Affairs
‘Tagore award’ (GS1: Indian Culture)
Issue: The President of India will present the Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony to Shri Rajkumar Singhajit Singh; Chhayanaut (a cultural organization of Bangladesh); and Shri Ram Sutar Vanji for the years 2014, 2015 & 2016 respectively
About the awards
Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony was instituted by the Government of India from 2012 recognizing the contributions made by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore to humanity at large with his works and ideas, as part of the Commemoration of his 150th Birth Anniversary in 2012, for promoting values of Cultural Harmony.
It is awarded annually and carries an amount of Rs. One Crore (convertible to foreign currency), a citation in a Scroll, a Plaque as well as an exquisite traditional handicraft / handloom item. The Award may be divided between two persons / institutions who are considered by the Jury to be equally deserving of recognition in a given year. This annual award is given to individuals, associations, institutions or organizations for their outstanding contribution towards promoting values of Cultural Harmony. The Award is open to all persons regardless of nationality, race, language, caste, creed or gender.
A written work, in order to be eligible for consideration, should have been published during the last ten years. Work by a person since deceased cannot be the subject of an Award. If, however, his death occurred subsequent to a proposal having been submitted to the Jury in the manner stipulated in the Code of Procedure, then a Posthumous Award may be made.
About Rabindranath Tagore
He Bengali poet, short-story writer, song composer, playwright, essayist, and painter who introduced new prose and verse forms and the use of colloquial language into Bengali literature, thereby freeing it from traditional models based on classical Sanskrit. He was highly influential in introducing Indian culture to the West and vice versa, and he is generally regarded as the outstanding creative artist of early 20th-century India. In 1913 he became the first non-European to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Early life of R. Tagore
The son of the religious reformer Debendranath Tagore, he early began to write verses, and, after incomplete studies in England in the late 1870s, he returned to India. There he published several books of poetry in the 1880s and completed Manasi (1890), a collection that marks the maturing of his genius. It contains some of his best-known poems, including many in verse forms new to Bengali, as well as some social and political satire that was critical of his fellow Bengalis.
Contributions of R. Tagore
- In 1901 Tagore founded an experimental school in rural West Bengal at Shantiniketan (“Abode of Peace”), where he sought to blend the best in the Indian and Western traditions. He settled permanently at the school, which became Visva-Bharati University in 1921.
- Years of sadness arising from the deaths of his wife and two children between 1902 and 1907 are reflected in his later poetry, which was introduced to the West in Gitanjali (Song Offerings) (1912)
- Tagore was awarded a knighthood in 1915, but he repudiated it in 1919 as a protest against the Amritsar (Jallianwalla Bagh) Massacre.
- In the late 1920s, when he was in his 60s, Tagore took up painting and produced works that won him a place among India’s foremost contemporary artists.
- Though Tagore denounced nationalism, he also vouched for the Indian independence through some of his politically charged songs. He also supported Indian nationalists and publicly criticized European imperialism. He also criticized the education system that was forced upon India by the English.
‘Sustainable growth’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Under Indo-German Development Cooperation, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) organized Second National Conference on Sustainable and Environment-friendly Industrial Production (SEIP) Project
Some major interventions from this project which were discussed over the day included topics as – Resource efficiency and cleaner production in industries (as there have been over 100 success stories from this action), voluntary action by industries and industrial associations, skills development, sustainability standards for industrial areas, etc.
Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: Moving a step ahead towards ensuring optimum use of National Waterways, the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) launched a new portal LADIS – Least Available Depth Information System recently
About the portal
LADIS will ensure that real-time data on least available depths is disseminated for ship/barge and cargo owners so that they can undertake transportation on NWs in a more planned way. An assured depth of waterway is required for seamless movement of vessels. If real time information is made available regarding LADs in stretches of various NWs, it will help transporters by guiding them on the suitability of time of movement.
IWAI has designed LADIS to facilitate the day to day operations of inland vessels plying on National Waterways and to avoid any hindrance in service and operation. It will enhance credibility and efficiency of information sharing to achieve seamless operations on National Waterways, besides pre-empting problems that may occur during movement of vessels.
India has an extensive network of inland waterways in the form of rivers, canals, backwaters and creeks. The total navigable length is 14,500 km, out of which about 5200 km of the river and 4000 km of canals can be used by mechanized crafts.
Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the statutory authority in charge of the waterways in India. Its headquarters is located in Noida, UP. It does the function of building the necessary infrastructure in these waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects and also administration. On 31st August 2018, IWAI made 13 standardized state-of-art design public for the transportation of cargo and passengers keeping in mind Ganges complex river morphology, hydraulics, acute bends, currents etc. in National Waterway – 1. The first implementation will be between Varanasi–Haldia stretch in assistance and investment from World Bank.
‘E-visas’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The e-Tourist Visa which was introduced in September 2014 with 46 countries has now been made applicable for 166 countries
Important changes made in this regard include
- Duration of stay in India of e-Tourist and e-Business Visas is maximum upto 1 Year with multiple entry subject to the stay stipulations.
- Also, the existing restriction of allowing foreigner for a maximum of three times has also been removed
- Continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 180 days in case of nationals of all countries who are eligible for grant of e-visa
- No registration will be required if the stay is for a period of less than 180 days.
- E-Visa is valid for entry through 2 (two) more designated Airports (Bhubaneswar and Port Blair) raising the total number of such airports to 28.
Significance of tourism in India
India is known among modern travelers for its colorful culture, rich history, beautiful landscapes and breathtaking architecture, but the country wasn’t always a popular tourist destination. As recently as 2003, India was receiving fewer than 3 million foreign tourist arrivals each year, but the numbers have changed drastically since then. Foreign tourist arrival numbers in 2017 exceeded 10 million, and analysts expect to see more than 15 million tourists visiting India annually by 2025. India’s rapidly growing tourism sector now plays a huge role in the nation’s economy, supporting tens of millions of jobs and generating billions of dollars each year.
In 2017, tourism generated about $230 billion in India, making up 9.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, and the tourism and hospitality sector is among the top 10 sectors in the Indian economy attracting foreign investments. On top of that, tourism and hospitality supported nearly 42 million jobs in 2017. The sector is expected to only keep expanding from here, with India projected to make the world’s top five business travel markets by 2030 and its tourism sector predicted to generate $490 billion per year by 2028.
The Indian government is leaning into this boom in tourism by investing in the market, hoping to attract international hotel chains and foreign spending in an effort to continue growing the nation’s economy. The government signed a $40 million loan agreement with the World Bank for a tourism development project, and the 2018-2019 budget for the country allots nearly $200 million for the development of tourist circuits.
‘Anandi Gopal’ (GS1: Indian History)
Issue: Anandi Gopal is a straight, linear telling of the life one of India’s first women doctors and brings to fore almost all the important events, situations and people she encountered in her short, 22 years.
Who was Anandi Gopal?
Anandi Gopal Joshi, considered by some as India’s first female doctor, was one of the earliest female physicians in India. Anandi Gopal Joshi’s family had been landlords for many years during the British Raj, but due to excessive taxes by the British, as well as losses that had accumulated over the years, her family underwent a troublesome financial period when Yanuma (Anandi Gopal Joshi) was still very young. As was custom during the mid-nineteenth century, Yamuna (Anandi Gopal Joshi) was pressured to marry at a very young age – nine. She married Gopalrao Joshi, a widower who was nearly 30 years old at the time. He was a postal clerk in the same town where Yamuna (Anandi Gopal Joshi) used to live.
Anandi Gopal Joshi was fourteen when she first became a mother, but her baby died in ten days due to lack of medical care and facilities. Facing such immense trauma and sadness at fourteen, she decided to do something about healthcare in India. She told her husband that she was determined to become a doctor – a physician. He supported her decision and backed her entirely to study medicine.
Anandi Gopal Joshi applied to the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania and was granted admission. She traveled to from Calcutta (present day Kolkata) to New York by ship. She began her medical training at the age of nineteen. While in America, her health, which was already not a hundred per cent from her days in India, further deteriorated due to the cold weather and unfamiliar diet. She even went on to suffer tuberculosis or TB. Despite all that, she stayed motivated to complete her MD in medicine. Her journey had been so inspiring that she got much publicity in the Indian press, and on her graduation, the then Queen of England, Empress of India, Queen Victoria sent her a congratulatory message. She had become the first woman of Indian origin to study and graduate with a degree in medicine in the United States. Anandi Gopal Joshi went on to inspire generations of women to pursue their higher education.
‘Most Favored Nation’ (GS2: India-Pakistan bilateral relations)
Issue: India on Friday announced that it had decided to withdraw the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status granted to Pakistan
What is MFN status?
Under the WTO agreements, countries cannot normally discriminate between their trading partners. Grant someone a special favor (such as a lower customs duty rate for one of their products) and you have to do the same for all other WTO members.
This principle is known as most-favored-nation (MFN) treatment It is so important that it is the first article of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which governs trade in goods. MFN is also a priority in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) (Article 2) and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) (Article 4), although in each agreement the principle is handled slightly differently. Together, those three agreements cover all three main areas of trade handled by the WTO.
Some exceptions are allowed. For example, countries can set up a free trade agreement that applies only to goods traded within the group — discriminating against goods from outside. Or they can give developing countries special access to their markets. Or a country can raise barriers against products that are considered to be traded unfairly from specific countries. And in services, countries are allowed, in limited circumstances, to discriminate. But the agreements only permit these exceptions under strict conditions. In general, MFN means that every time a country lowers a trade barrier or opens up a market, it has to do so for the same goods or services from all its trading partners — whether rich or poor, weak or strong.
Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: A new species of spider has been discovered from the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, a major biodiversity hotspot in the State.
About the new discovered species
The new species, Cocalus lacinia, spotted in the Kurichiad forest range of the sanctuary, is taxonomically related to an Australian species, described by arachnologist Fred Wanless in 1981. The nocturnal spider hides in the crevices of teak plants during day, and hunts at night for small insects. This discovery of a new species of spider from India and the presence of its close relative from Australia supports the theory that millions of years ago the biosphere was united and the present continents were formed by splitting a single big continent named Pangea
‘NDM-1 gene’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: An antibiotic-resistant gene first discovered in India has been found some 13,000km away in the Arctic region, triggering concerns about the speed with which superbugs can spread across the world.
Researchers found the New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase 1 (blaNDM-1) gene, which helps bacteria produce an enzyme making it immune to one of the world’s last line of antibiotic defence (carbapenems), in Svalbard, an archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole
About NDM-1 gene
NDM-1 (New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1) is an enzyme that makes bacteria resistant to a wide range of powerful antibiotics, including the carbapenem class of antibiotics that are used to treat multidrug-resistant infections.
The gene for NDM-1 encodes beta-lactamase enzymes called carbapenemases, which makes bacteria resistant to antibiotics, including carbapenem, which is used to treat other superbugs such as methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus (MRSA).
The most common bacteria that make this enzyme are E. Coli and K. pneumoniae, but the NDM-1 gene can spread to other bacterial strains.