Given below are the daily current affairs for 23rd March 2021. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.
- INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
U.P., M.P. sign agreement on Ken-Betwa interlinking work
The governments of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have signed an agreement that nudges forward a long-stalled multi-crore, controversial project to link the Ken and the Betwa rivers.
Ken-Betwa interlinking Project:
- The project aims to irrigate the water-deficient Bundelkhand region, spread over both States, and provide electricity.
- The project involves transferring surplus water from the Ken river in Madhya Pradesh to the Betwa in Uttar Pradesh and irrigating 3.64 lakh hectares in the Bundelkhand region of both States.
- The project involves building a 77-metre-tall and a 2-km-wide Dhaudhan dam and a 230-km canal.
- The Centre was originally to fund 90% of the cost (?37,611 crore in 2018) but a final decision is still outstanding.
Several obstacles have dogged the project.
- Nearly 8,650 hectares of forest land including part of Panna National Park in Madhya Pradesh will be submerged if the project is to become a reality.
- It will also have an adverse impact on tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries in the region. This has led to widespread opposition from conservationists.
- It would also affect the habitat of vultures and jackals. After years of protests, however, it was finally cleared by the apex wildlife regulator, the National Board for Wildlife, in 2016.
- There have been disagreements between the two state governments. Eg: disagreement between the States on the share of water.
- While there is a 2005 agreement between the two States on how water would be shared, Madhya Pradesh says these assumptions are no longer valid and the only way to meet the increased water requirements would be to include local management projects — the Kotha barrage, Lower Orr and Bina complex that were envisaged in the second phase of the project — in the first phase.
- This would increase project costs.
- The project has been delayed due to political and environmental issues.
In the latest development, the agreement has been signed by both Chief Ministers.
‘Workers in govt. contracts must possess skill certificate’
The government has decided that all workers executing government contracts must have official certification for their skills.
- Government contractors’ preference for low-wage informal workers was creating a dichotomy where the government was trying to promote skilling in the workforce without insisting on the use of skilled manpower for its projects.
- The new stipulation would make more people seek certification and influence industry hiring practices, the Ministry said.
- The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has told all government departments to mandate this requirement for all contracts issued under their watch.
- The government aims to train and certify skilled workers, in contrast to contractors’ preference to employ informal workers at lower wages.
- A phase-wise application is being thought about where it could be mandated that up to 10% of the strength of skilled workers utilised in 2021-22 will be certified skilled workers, which would be progressively increased to 100% by 2026-27.
- As per the Periodic Labour Force Survey of 2018-19, only 2.4% of India’s workforce is formally trained.
China, Russia look to deepen ‘best’ ties
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is on a key visit to China.
- The visit comes shortly after the China-U.S. dialogue in Alaska. It follows the first leaders’ summit of the Quad (India, Australia, Japan and the U.S.) grouping.
- He asserted that Russia’s relations with China were currently at the best in their entire history.
- He argued that the formation of a truly multipolar and democratic world is, unfortunately, being hindered by Western countries, particularly the United States as they seek to continue to dominate at any cost on global economy and politics and impose their will and requirements on others.
- He said, “In response, Russia and China are promoting a constructive and unifying agenda and hope that the international governance system would be fair and democratic, run smoothly and be based on extensive interaction between countries and their integration initiatives,”.
Areas of Discussion:
- Both countries are expected to discuss deepening coordination against the threat of sanctions from the West.
- Recently, the EU imposed sanctions on four Chinese officials for human rights violations in Xinjiang, the first sanctions since the 1989 arms embargo.
- Lavrov called on both countries (permanent members of the UN Security Council to work under the UN framework on the immediate end to unilateral coercive measures and to take the opportunity to enhance their scientific and technological innovation and improve their national strength in response to the sanctions.
- Trade ties are also on the agenda.
- China is Russia’s biggest trade partner.
- 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the Treaty of Good-neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation signed in July 2001.
- This treaty was credited by Russia for deepening strategic relations and creating a model of interaction between Russia and China that is absolutely free from any ideological constraints, not subject to any opportunistic factors nor against any third country.
- Experts in Russia believe that the China-Russia relationship could counterbalance the Quad.
- Russia’s continuing close relations with India is a potential destabilising factor for the Quad’s potential.
- They believe that India would not destroy its relations with Russia just because it wants to seek courtship with the U.S. to deal with China. From this perspective, if Russia-India relations continue in a stable way, they will to some extent restrain India-US ties from further deepening.
- As early as December 1998, the then Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov expressed hope that Russia, China and India could establish a ‘strategic triangle’ that would be in the interests of peace and security.
- Currently, China and India have undergone twists and turns in their relations due to border tensions.
- Russia has actually played an active role between China and India.
- Russia has maintained relatively close ties with India, which has thereupon become a counterbalance to the Quad group.
Remission of Duties and Taxes on Export Products (RODTEP) scheme
- The Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) scheme was announced by the Government of India (GOI) in September 2019.
- Its aim is to boost exports by allowing reimbursement of taxes and duties, which are not exempted or refunded under any other scheme in accordance with the World Trade Organization (WTO) norms.
- RoDTEP is a combination of the Merchandise Export from India Scheme (MEIS) and Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL).
- At present, embedded duties and taxes, which are not refunded under any other scheme, range from 1-3%.
- Under the scheme, a rebate of these taxes will be given in the form of duty credit/electronic scrip.
Centre readies draft plan for district-wise export promotion
What’s in News?
The government has readied a draft district-wise export promotion plan for 451 districts in the country after identifying products and services with export potential in 725 districts.
- Aiming for double-digit export growth from 500 districts over 3-5 years, the Commerce Ministry has asked States to prepare an annual ‘export ranking index’ of districts on export competitiveness with the assistance of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).
- The district-specific approach involves the States in identifying potential export sectors and the logistics bottlenecks to be fixed.
- In the initial phase, products and services with export potential in each district have been identified and an institutional mechanism of State and District Export Promotion Committees (SEPC) is being created, with an action plan to grow exports from each district.
- District Export Promotion Committees have been notified in the districts of all the States except West Bengal.
- While foreign trade constitutes 45% of India’s GDP, most export promotion efforts are driven by the Centre.
Gandhi Peace Prize for Mujib and Sultan Qaboos
What’s in News?
The Culture Ministry has announced that the father of the nation of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the former Sultan of Oman, the late Qaboos bin Said Al Said, will be awarded the Gandhi Peace Prize for 2020 and 2019, respectively.
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