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Kerala curios to take on Chinese souvenirs: Page 1
- The artisan Biju Babu from Wayanad, Kerala, is known for his skillful bamboo craftsmanship, but his work is being overshadowed by cheap Chinese imitations flooding the local market.
- Trinkets and mementos with Kerala emblems are commonly found across the nation, but many of these souvenirs are soulless and not truly representative of Kerala’s vibrant culture. They are often made in factories in China or northern India.
- The Kerala government has launched the Kerala Souvenir Network to address this issue and provide a solution.
- The products from the Kerala Souvenir Network will be branded under Kerala Tourism and sold exclusively at premium government-authorized outlets in resorts and tourist destinations across the state. They will also be available on the Responsible Tourism portal.
- The Responsible Tourism Mission, the nodal agency for implementing the souvenir network, has over 5,000 units across the state, including a large number of handicraft units. These units will develop unique souvenirs for the state.
- A competition has been launched among registered units under the souvenir network to come up with innovative products based on a specified theme within a month.
- The mission plans to launch 15 branded souvenirs, one for each district and one specifically for Beypore, a constituency being developed as a Responsible Tourism destination.
- Expert panel will select the winning souvenirs based on factors such as cost, eco-friendly materials, weight, function, and aesthetics.
- A group of 30 craftspersons will be trained by experts to further train other artisans in the state in manufacturing these souvenirs.
- The Kerala branding will provide authenticity and a reliable platform for sales for the artisans involved in creating these souvenirs.
India will do its best to end the war, Modi tells Zelenksy: Page 1
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed India’s commitment to resolve the war in Ukraine during a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan.
- PM Modi conveyed his personal desire to end the hostilities and assured President Zelensky that India would do everything necessary to resolve the crisis.
- PM Modi mentioned the pain of war and expressed his understanding of the situation in Ukraine based on the experiences shared by Indian children who were brought back from Ukraine.
- The Indian delegation included National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, while the Ukrainian President was accompanied by his security and foreign affairs team.
- President Zelensky discussed the peace formula with PM Modi and raised Ukraine’s requirements for mobile hospitals and demining support.
- Mr. Zelensky invited PM Modi to visit Ukraine, and the PM conveyed India’s support for dialogue and diplomacy to find a way forward.
- PM Modi indirectly addressed the commodities crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine, particularly affecting fertilizer supplies worldwide, during the G-7 meeting.
- He emphasized the need to remove political obstacles in global fertilizer supply chains and supported natural farming as an alternative to fertilizers.
- The Prime Minister also raised the issue of safeguarding the rights of transgender individuals during a working session of the G-7 meeting.
G-20 meet will boost J&K tourism, investment inflow: L-G Manoj Sinha: Page 8
- The upcoming G-20 working group meeting in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, is expected to showcase the hospitality of the region and boost tourism in the Union Territory.
- The city of Srinagar has undergone a major makeover for the event, with the Jhelum-Rajbagh riverfront receiving a facelift, which was dedicated to the public by Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha.
- The Jammu and Kashmir administration has finalized all arrangements for the G-20 meeting and aims to highlight the beauty, culture, and warm hospitality of the region to the global audience.
- The successful conduct of the G-20 meeting is expected to attract tourism and investment to the Union Territory.
- J&K Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta launched an open quiz and photo competition on the official website to promote awareness about the G-20 event and educate residents, especially students, about the forum, local customs, traditions, and initiatives in Jammu and Kashmir.
- The quiz questions will cover various aspects such as culture, tradition, tourism, and IT initiatives in Jammu and Kashmir, aiming to foster critical thinking and broaden knowledge about important summits and global affairs among the participants.
- Security has been tightened across Jammu and Kashmir ahead of the G-20 meeting, with security drills conducted by Central Reserve Police Force commandos on the Dal Lake, where the main event venue is located.
Quad leaders express deep concern over consequences of Ukraine war: Page 9
- Leaders of the Quad countries (India, Japan, the U.S., and Australia) expressed deep concern over the ongoing war in Ukraine and mourned its humanitarian consequences. They pledged to provide continued humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.
- The Quad leaders reaffirmed their commitment to maintaining and strengthening stability in the Indo-Pacific region based on international law.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and U.S. President Joseph Biden participated in the Quad summit held in Hiroshima, convened by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
- The leaders issued a joint vision statement and three other statements on clean energy supply chains, cybersecurity and secure software, and critical and emerging technology standards.
- The next Quad leaders’ meeting will be held in India in 2024, as announced by Prime Minister Modi.
- The Quad statement expressed concern about the global economic impacts of the war in Ukraine, including food, fuel, energy security, and critical supply chains. The leaders emphasized their commitment to dialogue and diplomacy for resolving the conflict.
- The Quad countries did not directly mention Russia’s actions in deference to India’s divergent stand on the issue, and they did not refer to the G-7’s proposal for new sanctions and measures against Russia.
- The statement made pointed references to upholding peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific maritime domain, opposing destabilizing or unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo by force or coercion. It expressed concern about the militarization of disputed features and disruptive activities in offshore resource exploitation, indicating actions by the Chinese PLA-Navy in the South China Sea and East China Sea.
- Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra did not confirm or deny discussions about China’s actions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the military standoff since April 2020 but mentioned the Quad leaders’ focus on mitigating regional challenges.
Cultural stars in bilateral firmament have one-on-one with PM in Japan: Page 9
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi met leading Japanese personalities who have played a significant role in promoting Indian culture in Japan.
- The interactions aim to deepen mutual understanding and create stronger bonds between India and Japan.
- Mr. Modi met Tomio Mizokami, a Professor Emeritus at Osaka University and an author and linguist proficient in Hindi and Punjabi languages. He was conferred the Padma Shri in 2018 for promoting Indian literature and culture in Japan.
- Mr. Mizokami presented the book “Jwalamukhi,” an anthology of writings from the 1980s by Japanese scholars who laid the foundation of Hindi learning in Japan.
- The Prime Minister also met Hiroko Takayama, a Western-style painter born in Hiroshima, who has a deep association with India spanning over two decades.
- Ms. Takayama has conducted workshops, held exhibitions in India, and was a Visiting Professor at Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan.
- She presented Mr. Modi with an oil painting of the Buddha, created in 2022.
- Prime Minister Modi emphasized that such interactions enhance mutual understanding, respect, and strengthen the bonds between India and Japan.
Global polio targets set for this year unlikely to be met: Page 12
- The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was established in 1988 to eradicate polio globally.
- Wild poliovirus subtype-2 and subtype-3 have been successfully eradicated since the establishment of GPEI.
- Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only countries where indigenous transmission of wild poliovirus subtype-1 (WPV1) continues.
- The number of WPV1 cases in Afghanistan and Pakistan increased in 2022 compared to the previous year.
- In 2023, there has been one reported WPV1 case in Pakistan and none in Afghanistan so far.
- Concerningly, circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPVs) have been reported in countries where poliovirus transmission had been eliminated, such as Canada, Israel, the U.K., and the U.S.
- Multiple poliovirus types have been co-circulating in various countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Israel, Malawi, Mozambique, Republic of the Congo, and Yemen.
- The current global epidemiology of poliovirus transmission poses challenges to achieving the GPEI goal of detecting the last cases of WPV1 and cVDPV by 2022-2026.
New technique welcomes calcium-41 to radiometric dating: Page 12
- Carbon dating revolutionized scientific fields by estimating the age of organic materials based on carbon-14 content.
- Carbon dating has limitations for objects older than around 50,000 years.
- Scientists proposed using calcium-41, with a half-life of 99,400 years, to date fossilized bones and rock.
- Detecting rare calcium-41 atoms was a challenge due to their low abundance.
- Atom-trap trace analysis (ATTA) is a technique introduced by researchers to detect calcium-41 atoms.
- ATTA involves laser-cooling and trapping atoms to detect calcium-41 based on electron transitions.
- Researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China achieved promising results using ATTA to detect calcium-41 atoms.
- They hope to improve the efficiency and sensitivity of ATTA in future studies.
- ATTA avoids confusion with similar atoms like potassium-41 that lack the same electron transition.
- Researchers are exploring the application of ATTA in studying the history of rock coverage by ice in warmer and colder climates.
- Collaboration with geo-scientists is underway to measure the abundance of calcium-41 in rock samples.
How has SC validated T.N. stand on jallikattu?: Page 13
- Jallikattu, a traditional rural sport involving bulls, has received judicial approval from the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court.
- The Tamil Nadu Assembly made an amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act in 2017 to facilitate the regulation of jallikattu with stringent regulations.
- The court ruling settles the debate regarding the sport’s disallowance on the grounds of animal cruelty and violation of animal rights.
- The verdict also applies to other sports involving bovines such as Kambala in Karnataka and bullock-cart racing in Maharashtra.
- Animal rights activists argue that jallikattu inflicts unnecessary cruelty and causes pain and suffering to the animals.
- In the past, there were instances of alleged mistreatment of bulls in unregulated events, but such acts have become rare with the introduction of regulations.
- In 2014, the Supreme Court banned jallikattu and similar sports involving animals, considering the Tamil Nadu law regulating the sport as repugnant to the Central legislation on preventing cruelty to animals.
- The court ruled that the State law prioritized the interests of organizers, spectators, and participants over animal rights.
- The Tamil Nadu government faced a massive agitation in 2017 demanding the facilitation of jallikattu, leading to the adoption of a State-specific amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
- The amendment defined jallikattu as a cultural and traditional event to preserve native breeds of bulls, making it an exception to cruelty provisions.
- In the latest ruling, the Constitution Bench accepted the cultural significance of jallikattu and upheld the Amendment Act, legitimizing the sport.
- The court emphasized that the State legislation should be read in conjunction with the stringent regulations for conducting jallikattu, ensuring no statutory violations that warrant a ban.
Will all overseas spends come under tax net?: Page 13
- The Union Budget proposed a higher tax on certain types of remittances of funds abroad, which caused widespread outcry from taxpayers.
- The Finance Minister proposed to raise the tax collection at source (TCS) rate on overseas tour packages and foreign remittances under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS).
- The TCS rate for overseas tour packages was to be raised from 5% to 20%, and a 20% tax was proposed for all remittances under the LRS.
- On March 24, the Finance Minister sought to further tighten the proposal by including credit card payments for foreign tours within the ambit of LRS and tax collection.
- On May 16, the Finance Ministry issued a notification to bring all credit card spends abroad under the LRS, enabling the levy of a higher TCS on credit card spends overseas from July 1.
- The 20% TCS levy on credit card spends abroad received criticism for blocking taxpayer funds and causing unnecessary harassment.
- The government defended the levy, stating that it aimed to track disproportionately high LRS payments compared to individuals’ disclosed incomes and would primarily impact tour travel packages, gifts to non-residents, and high net-worth individuals.
- In response to the criticism, the Finance Ministry made a partial U-turn by exempting payments abroad up to ₹7 lakh per financial year from the TCS levy, including both credit and debit cards.
- Concerns remain about the rationale and rate of the levy, and further clarifications may be needed to address the discontent among taxpayers and business travelers.
WHO’s guideline on non-sugar sweeteners: Page 13
- The World Health Organization (WHO) issued new guidelines advising against the use of non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) as a “healthy” alternative to sugar for weight control or reducing the risk of diet-related non-communicable diseases.
- Non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) are marketed as low or no-calorie alternatives to free sugars and include substances like aspartame, saccharin, stevia, and others.
- The WHO analyzed 283 studies on the intake of NSS and found that higher intake of NSS was associated with a 76% increase in the risk of obesity and a slight increase in BMI.
- Long-term use of NSS was warned to have potential risks of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, chronic kidney disease, and cancer.
- Health experts suggest that India should provide guidance on NSS consumption due to the increasing prevalence of obesity and diabetes in the country.
- The WHO recommends consuming minimally processed, unsweetened foods and beverages as an alternative to NSS and reducing portion sizes or overall energy intake for weight loss.
- The Ministry of Health will need to initiate discussions among policy-makers before deciding to adopt the WHO’s conditional recommendation as a national policy.
- Efforts should be made, particularly focusing on young individuals, to adjust taste preferences and eating behaviors based on the new guidelines.
Connecting continents: Page 14
- The International North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) aims to connect Russia’s Baltic Sea coast to India’s western ports in the Arabian Sea via Iran.
- The project was first proposed in 2000, and preliminary agreements were signed in 2002 by Russia, India, and Iran. Azerbaijan joined later, and 13 countries ratified the agreement.
- Progress on the project was slow due to Western sanctions on Iran and geopolitical challenges.
- Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 brought Russia and Iran closer, leading to renewed focus on the NSTC.
- President Vladimir Putin announced Russia’s commitment to developing the NSTC in his State of the Nation address in February 2023.
- Russia and Iran recently signed an agreement to develop the critical Rasht-Astara railway, a key link in the NSTC.
- The NSTC offers a shorter and cheaper route compared to the traditional Baltic Sea-North Sea-Mediterranean-Arabian Sea route.
- The corridor has the potential to enhance energy security for India, as it opens avenues for increased trade and energy ties with Russia.
- Challenges include the construction of the Rasht-Astara railway, financial limitations, geopolitical issues, and differences in rail gauges between Russia and Iran.
- Despite challenges, Russia and Iran are determined to proceed with the project, considering it a potential game changer for Eurasian economic integration.
SEBI moots mechanism for AMCs to deter possible market abuse, fraud: Page 15
- The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has proposed that asset management companies (AMCs) establish surveillance and internal control systems to prevent market abuse and fraudulent transactions.
- The senior management of AMCs should ensure the implementation of an institutional mechanism to detect and report possible misconduct by employees, dealers, stockbrokers, or other connected entities.
- AMCs should have an escalation and reporting mechanism for market abuse and fraudulent transactions.
- SEBI’s proposal follows recent cases of front-running involving Axis AMC and Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC).
- SEBI has issued a consultation paper seeking public comments on the proposed measures by June 3.
- The regulator suggests that AMCs should have robust surveillance systems and internal controls tailored to their specific needs.
- AMCs should customize their surveillance systems based on back-testing historical data to ensure effectiveness.
- System-driven alerts should be processed along with soft alerts such as lifestyle checks and recording of communications to determine the likelihood of misconduct.
- SEBI recommends that AMCs have a documented policy outlining actions to be taken based on the likelihood of wrongdoing and other relevant factors.
Source: The Hindu Epaper
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