GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World and Society.

Book Signed By Rabindranath Tagore Auctioned For USD 700.

Background

  • A signed hardcover copy of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘The King of the Dark Chamber’ – the English translation of his famous Bengali play ‘Raja’ – has been sold for USD 700 at an auction in the US.
  • Signed on a prefatory page in fountain pen by Tagore, the Bolpur edition of the book was published by The Macmillan Company in 1916.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The play revolves around a mysterious, unseen, omniscient king, who is both benevolent and efficient.
  • His reluctance towards being seen causes most of the drama in the story, rattling his beautiful wife and the kings of nearby kingdoms.
  • The book was consigned by an American book dealer, according to US-based RR Auction.
  • It was initially expected to fetch USD 500 at the online auction.
  • Tagore became the first Indian to win a Nobel Prize (Literature) in 1913.
  • He wrote successfully in all literary genres, but was first and foremost a poet, publishing more than 50 volumes of poetry.
  • Tagore was knighted by the British in 1915, but gave up his knighthood after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919.

Sources- Business-Standard.

 

GS Paper II- Governance.

Centre, ADB Ink $120mn Loan Agreement To Improve Rail Infrastructure.

Background

  • The Centre and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a loan agreement to the tune of USD 120 million for the completion of works for double-tracking and electrification of railway tracks along high-density corridors to improve operational efficiency of Indian railways.
  • The tranche 3 loan is part of the USD 500 million multi-tranche financing facility for the Railway Sector Investment Program approved by the ADB Board in 2011. The loan amount will be used to complete the ongoing works commenced under earlier tranches.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The project is aimed at enhancing the efficiency of the rail infrastructure through electrification, introduction of modern signaling system, and doubling rail tracks on key routes in the country. The Program will help develop an energy-efficient, safe, and reliable railway system that will result in reduced travel time along project rail routes and improved operational and financial efficiency, said Sameer Kumar Khare, Joint Secretary (Multilateral Institutions), Department of Economic Affairs.
  • Funding for tranche 3 loan will contribute towards achieving the overall Program outputs of double-tracking about 840 kilometer of rail routes and electrification of 640 kilometer of tracks along high density corridors. The program is also helping implement new accounting systems and provide additional safety measures including collision avoidance equipment, added Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission.
  • The investment program is targeting busy freight and passenger routes in the states of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, including the “Golden Quadrilateral” corridor that connects Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi. The doubling of rail sections is being implemented along Daund-Titlagarh section, the Sambalpur-Titlagarh section, the Raipur-Titlagarh Section and the Hospet-Tinaighat section while electrification is being undertaken along the 641-kilometer Pune-Wadi Guntakal section.
  • On a related note, ADB’s loan has a 20-year term, including a grace period of five years, an annual interest rate determined in accordance with ADB’s London interbank offered rate (LIBOR)-based lending facility, and a commitment charge of 0.15 percent per year.

Sources- ANI.

 

GS Paper III- Environment.

Environment Ministry Gives Nod To Neutrino Project.

Background

  • The India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project has got a fresh lease of life with the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) taking it up as a special case and granting it environmental clearance to set up the lab in Bodi West hills.
  • MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee (Infra 2), after detailed deliberations on the proposal and submissions by the project proponent, recommended this at its meeting on March 5 2018.
  • According to the minutes of the meeting available in the public domain, the EAC was given to understand that though the proposals were not within its scope, the Ministry wanted it to consider this as a special case.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • As the previous EC granted in 2011 was quashed by the courts, a certified compliance report may not be required and no work has been initiated at the site, the project proponents submitted.
  • The panel was informed that there was no scope for radioactivity and leaching of water and these have been explained to the courts. The project proponents clarified that studies showed there would be no impact of blasting on any habitation in the vicinity.
  • While granting EC, the committee stipulated specific conditions, of which two are key for the project to take off. One is the consent to establish and operate to be obtained from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB). In the past, INO project proponents had complained that the TNPCB had been sitting on the file for years without taking any action when Jayalalithaa was Chief Minister (2011-16). Also, the INO team has to obtain the necessary forest and National Board for Wild Life clearances as per law. The Mathikettan Shola National Park in Idukki district, Kerala, is situated within five km from the project site.
  • When the project was considered by the Tamil Nadu State Expert Appraisal Committee in November 2017 (after Jayalalithaa’s death), it said that the proposed site forms part of the catchment area of various streams that contribute to the Vaigai watershed.
  • Therefore, Tamil Nadu was of the opinion that the proposal could not be appraised under category B of item 8(a) ‘Building and construction projects of the Schedule to the EIA notification 2006’, as it involved many technical features other than mere construction. The SEAC also said the project should be appropriately handled by the Centre. Incidentally, Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam represents the Bodi Assembly constituency.
  • Considering the national importance of the proposal, the MoEF decided to take the proposal at the Central level as a special case — a category 8(a) project — and granted environmental clearance with 17 conditions.

Sources- The Hindu.