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Northeast gets its first AIIMS, slew of projects: Page 1
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first AIIMS in the Northeast at Changsari near Guwahati.
- The AIIMS is part of various projects worth more than ₹3,400 crore initiated and dedicated to the nation in Assam.
- The super-speciality hospital was built at a cost of ₹1,120 crore and has a capacity of 750 beds, including 30 AYUSH beds.
- The AIIMS will admit 100 MBBS students annually.
- The Assam Advanced Healthcare Innovation Institute (AAHII) was also launched, which will be a research and innovation center in the area of medical sciences, including a 500-bed multi-speciality hospital.
- Prime Minister Modi emphasized the government’s commitment to the development of Northeast India and the policy of ‘nation first and people first.’
- He highlighted the efforts of the BJP-led government in modernizing India’s health sector and expanding education and health facilities in the region.
- Prime Minister Modi also launched the Aapke Dwar Ayushman campaign, distributing Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana cards to eligible beneficiaries.
Optical relief: Page 8
- Indian consumers experienced a moderation in headline inflation in March, with retail inflation level recorded at 5.66%, the lowest since December 2021.
- This comes after a sustained period of high inflation that peaked at an eight-year high of 7.8% in April, driven by factors such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict and global oil prices.
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had to explain to the government why the inflation target was missed for three successive quarters, leading to a pause on interest rate hikes after a streak of hikes.
- The RBI expects inflation to average 5.2% in 2023-24, lower than its previous projection of 5.3% in February. However, the statistical effects of higher numbers from the previous year’s base may be contributing to the lower inflation.
- Despite headline inflation staying below 6%, prices are still rising at a significant rate, with most goods and services experiencing price hikes in the past year.
- Excluding seasonal changes in items such as vegetables, the inflation faced by consumers in March was still 6.6%, and imported inflation fell to its lowest level since November 2019 at 2.8%, indicating that domestic factors are still contributing to price increases.
- Food prices, including cereals, spices, and milk, may continue to rise due to worries about crop losses and potential El Niño effects, which could further impact household budgets.
- While propping up growth is a priority, inflation remains a concern as squeezed consumption is unlikely to inspire investment.
- There is a need to remain vigilant on inflation, even as efforts are made to boost economic growth.
Myriad woes: Page 8
- Myanmar’s military junta has been using disproportionate force against civilians and opposition groups, leading to widespread violence and instability in the country.
- The opposition groups, including the National Unity Government (NUG) and the People’s Defence Force (PDF), have joined hands with ethnic militias to fight against the military and restore democracy in Myanmar.
- The military junta has refused to engage in inclusive dialogue or share power, leading to a stalemate in the conflict.
- Regional powers, such as Russia, China, and India, should use their economic and political influence to pressure the military junta to stop the violence and enter into talks with the opposition.
- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has proposed a peace plan, but the military junta has not shown willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue.
- The restoration of democracy under a federal constitutional order is the only sustainable, long-term, and just solution to Myanmar’s woes.
- The situation in Myanmar has implications for regional stability in Southeast Asia, and it is important for regional powers to not view it as an internal problem, but rather take steps to resolve the conflict peacefully.
- Ending the violence is the crucial first step towards achieving a peaceful resolution in Myanmar and restoring democracy in the country.
NISAR satellite to map Himalayas’ seismic zones: Page 12
- The NISAR satellite, jointly developed by ISRO and NASA, will map the most earthquake-prone regions in the Himalayas with unprecedented regularity, using L-band and S-band frequency bands.
- The satellite will create a “deformation map” every 12 days, providing high-resolution, all-weather data from the seismically active Himalayan region.
- The data generated by NISAR can potentially give advance warning of land subsidence, as observed in Joshimath, Uttarakhand, and identify places at greatest risk from earthquakes.
- The NISAR satellite is expected to be launched in January 2024 and is estimated to cost approximately $900 million, with ISRO contributing about one-tenth of the cost.
- Scientists believe that NISAR will be a game-changer in earth-science observation, providing valuable insights into deformation patterns and helping in the study of strain buildup in the Himalayas.
- The frequency of observations taken by NISAR, every 12 days, and the ability to provide images even under cloudy conditions make it a valuable tool for studying deformation patterns and understanding earthquake risks.
- NISAR is expected to be the costliest space mission ever, but the data it generates can significantly enhance our understanding of the geology and seismic activity in the Himalayan region, potentially improving earthquake preparedness and mitigation efforts.
China’s Xi, Brazil’s Lula meet in Beijing to boost ties: Page 13
- Chinese leader Xi Jinping met with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to boost ties between China and Brazil, two of the world’s largest developing nations.
- Mr. Lula’s visit to China, his country’s most important trading partner, aims to challenge Western-dominated economic institutions and strengthen cooperation between the two countries.
- The talks focused on trade ties and other forms of cooperation, with both leaders emphasizing the extensive common interests between China and Brazil.
- The leaders oversaw the signing of agreements in areas such as agriculture and aeronautics, highlighting the improved relations since Mr. Lula took over from right-wing populist Jair Bolsonaro.
- Mr. Lula’s visit also included the swearing-in of former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff as the head of the Chinese-backed New Development Bank, which funds infrastructure projects in Brazil and other developing countries.
- The New Development Bank, established as part of the BRICS framework (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), portrays itself as an alternative to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, providing loans without imposing what developing nations see as punitive conditions.
- China is Brazil’s biggest export market, and Brazil is the biggest recipient of Chinese investment in Latin America, with significant trade in commodities such as soybeans, beef, iron ore, and crude oil.
Pakistan gets closer to IMF deal after UAE pledges $1 bln: Page 13
- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has confirmed financial support of $1 billion to Pakistan, according to the Finance Minister of Pakistan, removing a significant hurdle in securing a much-awaited bailout tranche from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
- The commitment from the UAE is one of the last requirements from the IMF before approving a staff-level pact to release a tranche of $1.1 billion, which has been delayed for months. This tranche is crucial for Pakistan to resolve its acute balance of payments crisis.
- The external financing from the UAE is needed to fully fund the balance of payments gap for the fiscal year that ends in June, indicating the importance of this support in stabilizing Pakistan’s economy.
- Pakistan has been in talks with the IMF for a bailout package to address its economic challenges, including a large current account deficit and declining foreign reserves. The support from the UAE is expected to provide much-needed relief in addressing these issues.
- The confirmation of financial support from the UAE underscores the significance of international partnerships and cooperation in addressing economic challenges and promoting financial stability in developing countries like Pakistan.
Textile, apparel exports decline 14%: Page 14
- Textile and apparel exports from India contracted by 14% in the fiscal year 2022-2023 compared to the previous year. Textile exports shrank by 23.3% to $19.3 billion, while apparel exports grew by 1.1% to $16.1 billion.
- Textiles and apparel constituted 9.79% of total goods exports in 2021-2022, but the share decreased to 7.95% in 2022-2023, indicating the decline in export performance in this sector.
- Factors that affected exports in the textile and apparel sector included high inventory with international buyers and high cotton prices in India in the previous year. However, there is hope for improvement as cotton textile exports crossed $1 billion in March 2023, indicating a positive momentum.
- Industry sources emphasized the need for a stable raw material policy, whether it is for cotton or manmade fibers, and highlighted the importance of no restrictions on raw materials.
- Despite challenges such as the Russia-Ukraine war, sluggish demand in major garment importing countries, stiff competition from other apparel manufacturing countries, and volatility in raw material prices, India was able to ramp up its global apparel exports in 2022-2023, as stated by the chairman of the Apparel Export Promotion Council.
G-20 Finance Ministers discuss debt distress, Ukraine and other challenges: Page 14
- The G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (FMCBG) met in April 2023 to discuss various global economic issues, including debt distress in poor and middle-income countries, challenges to the global economy, such as Ukraine, and other topics like cryptocurrency risk and transparency in international taxation.
- The meeting was co-chaired by India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das, as part of India’s year-long G-20 presidency. This was the second meeting, with the first one held in February in Bengaluru.
- The discussions on Ukraine did not result in a communique or Chair’s Statement, as decided in the meeting. The February meeting had an Outcome Document and Chair’s Statement due to disagreement among member countries, particularly Russia and China, over language regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- The press statement from the meeting mentioned that members discussed key challenges to the global economic outlook, including the war in Ukraine, food and energy insecurity, climate change, and risks to financial stability.
- The next FMCBG meeting is scheduled for July 2023 in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India.
Source: The Hindu Epaper
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