Daily Current Affairs for 31st August 2021

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Jallianwala Bagh Memorial revamp

Why in News

Recently, the Prime Minister inaugurated the renovated complex of the Jallianwala Bagh memorial in Amritsar, Punjab.

Key features of renovated Jallianwala Bagh memorial

  • Four museum galleries have been created through adaptive reuse of redundant and underutilised buildings.
  • The galleries display the historical value of events that took place in Punjab during that period, with the fusion of audio-visual technology, including projection mapping and 3D representation, as well as art and sculptural installations.
  • A sound and light show has been set up to display the events that took place on April 13, 1919, when the British forces fired on a large and peaceful gathering of protesters, killing over 1,000 people and injuring hundreds of them.
  • The Shaheedi well has been repaired and restored with a redefined superstructure. The heart of the Bagh, the flame monument, has been repaired and restored, the water body rejuvenated as a lily pond and the pathways have been made broader for better navigability.
  • Several new and modern amenities have been added including redefined paths of movement with appropriate signages, illumination of strategic spots, landscaping and hardscaping with native plantation and installation of audio nodes throughout the garden.
  • Newer areas have been developed for housing the Salvation Ground, Amar Jyoti and Flag Mast.

Dr Satyapal and Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew

  • Dr. Satyapal and Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew were the two unforgettable names of Indian History.
  • They both were played the in dominant role in the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre.
  • On one hand, Dr. Satyapal was a physician and political leader in Punjab in British India, and on the other hand, Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew was an Indian independence activist, barrister, politician and later a leader of the peace movement.
  • Both had not only shaken the foundation of the British colonial rule in India but amplified the threat by strengthening the Hindu-Muslim bonhomie.
  • It was in 1919 that India had emerged strongly in response to repeated attempts by the Britishers to divide and rule the country particularly on the basis of religion.
  • There were leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Mohammad Ali Jinnah who unequivocally had resisted any such attempts to break the nation.
  • In Punjab, it was due to the strong impact of Kitchlew and Satyapal that Muslims and Hindus were a close-knit society and threatened the British foundation in the country.
  • The legend has it that this was the time when a Muslim and a Hindu man would even drink from the same cup.
  • The British got the essence of danger and arrested both Kitchlew and Satyapal. And as a result, to protest against the arrest of these leaders, a mass gathering was held at Jallianwala Bagh which did not go down well with the British Indian Army under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer.
  • With nearly 90 soldiers, he arrived at the Jallianwala Bagh on April 13, 1919, and ordered 50 of his cops to fire 1,650 rounds at the unarmed civilians.

Jallianwala Bagh massacre

  • On April 1919, when the British were facing major protests in Punjab against the Rowlatt Act, that let them arrest people without any warrant or trial. Sir Michel O’ Dwyer imposed martial rule in Lahore and Amritsar on April 11, but the order reached Amritsar only on April 14.
  • Alongside, he also sent Col Dyer, who was then holding the temporary rank of Brigadier General, from the Jalandhar cantonment to Amritsar.
  • On April 13, Col Dyer’s troops marched through the town to warn against the assembly of more than four people. But the announcement did not reach most people, and devotees started making a beeline to the Golden Temple to celebrate Baisakhi.
  • As the day wore, many of them headed to the nearby Jallianwala Bagh, a quadrangle with a well, surrounded by tall houses and a narrow passage, to join the public meet against the arrest of Dr Satyapal and Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew.
  • The two had been arrested for opposing the Rowlatt Act, and local leaders had called for a protest meet on the evening of April 13.
  • Upon hearing about the large gathering, Col Dyer marched into the Bagh with a column of 50 soldiers and bolt action rifles.
  • They fired all the 1,650 rounds they had, even though the crowd started fleeing after the first volley. According to the British, 376 persons were killed in the firing, whereas, the Indian historians peg the toll at 1,000.
  • The massacre stunned the country:
  • Nobel laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore returned his knighthood, describing the incident as “without parallel in the history of civilised governments”.
  • Mahatma Gandhi started his non-cooperation movement soon afterwards.
  • Then British parliamentarian Winston Churchill described the massacre as “a monstrous event, an event which stands in singular and sinister isolation”.

Hunter Commission

  • After the nightmare event took place at Jallianwala Bagh, a committee had been set up by the Britishers under the chairmanship of ‘Lord William Hunter’ to examine the mishap that occurred there.
  • The commission submitted its report on 26th May 1920 and majority of the members reprimanded Dyer for a ‘mistaken concept of duty’.
  • It concluded that the gathering was not the result of a conspiracy by Indians. Martial law declared in Punjab was justified.
  • It also concluded that Dyer firing at the mob was justified except that he should have given a warning first, and that the duration of the firing should have been shortened.


  • Such places of historical and heritage importance are being reduced to theme parks. This trend has been going on for the last five to seven years.
  • Jallianwala Bagh was the beginning of the end of British rule in India.
  • Instead of reducing it to a theme park by putting statues, the focus should have been on things like documentation and interpretation centre.


West Nile Virus

Why in News

Recently, Russia has warned of a possible increase in West Nile Virus (WNV) infections this autumn as mild temperatures and heavy precipitation will create favourable conditions for the mosquitos that carry it.

West Nile Virus

  • West Nile Virus is an infectious disease that spread by infectious mosquitoes.
  • The disease spreads from birds to humans with the bite of an infected Culex mosquito.
  • It can lead to fatal neurological disease in humans.
  • According to the, World Health Organisation, the virus causes West Nile Fever in around 20% of the cases. It is related to dengue, Zika, and yellow fever viruses.
  • As per WHO, the virus was first isolated in a woman in the West Nile district of Uganda in 1937.
  • It was identified in birds (crows and Columbiformes) in the Nile delta region in 1953.
  • Human infections attributable to West Nile Virus have been reported in many countries for over 50 years.


  • People infected with West Nile Virus usually have no symptoms or mild symptoms.
  • The symptoms of the disease include a headache, fever, skin rash, body aches, and swollen lymph glands.
  • The symptoms of the virus can last a few days to several weeks, and usually, they go on their own.
  • The disease may cause the inflammation of the brain, called encephalitis, or the inflammation of the tissue that surrounds the spinal cord and the brain, called meningitis.


  • There are no specific treatments or vaccines for West Nile Disease in humans. The best way to avoid infections is to prevent mosquito bites.
  • The treatment is supportive for the patients with neuro-invasive West Nile Virus which often involves, intravenous fluids, hospitalization, prevention of secondary infections, and respiratory support.
  • The milder temperatures attributed to climate change can cause diseases such as the West Nile Virus to become more widespread.


Hydropower Projects in the Himalayas

Why in News

Recently, the central government denied to all the new Hydropower projects at the upper reaches of the Ganga and stated that the earlier sanctioned project would have to adhere all the environment regulations that is essential to preserve the health of river.

Key Points

  • According to an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, as part of an ongoing case on the feasibility of hydroelectric projects in the aftermath of the 2013 Uttarakhand floods, seven projects have been allowed to complete construction primarily on the grounds that they were over “50% complete.”
  • The seven projects are the:
  • Tehri Stage 2,
  • Tapovan Vishnugadh (which was impacted by the February flood),
  • Vishnugadh Pipalkoti,
  • Singoli Bhatwari,
  • Phata Bhuyang,
  • Madhyamaheshwar and
  • Kaliganga 2.


  • In the aftermath of the Kedarnath floods of 2013, the Supreme Court had halted the development of hydroelectric projects in Uttarakhand pending a review by the Environment Ministry on the role such projects had played in amplifying the disaster.
  • Various committee had been set up to examine the environmental impact of hydroelectric projects in the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi basin, which resulted into not in favour of the project.
  • Even the Water Resources Ministry has been consistently opposed to hydropower projects in the Ganga. In charge of the National Mission for Clean Ganga, the Water Ministry has maintained that the cleanliness of the river was premised on minimum levels of water flow in all seasons and the proposed projects could hinder this.
  • By 2019, however, the renamed Jal Shakti Ministry had changed its stance to accommodate seven out of the 24 projects.
  • Its current position however is that barring these, it is “not in favour” of new projects in the Ganga river basin.
  • Though hearings in the SC are ongoing, this is the first time that the government has a formal uniform position on hydropower projects in the Uttarakhand region.


  • Due to hydroelectric project at the upper reaches of the Ganga, experts have attributed the glacial melt to global warming.
  • Glacier retreat and permafrost thaw are projected to decrease the stability of mountain slopes and increase the number and area of glacier lakes.
  • Climate change has driven erratic weather patterns like increased snowfall and rainfall.
  • The thermal profile of ice was increasing, which means that the temperature of ice that used to range from -6 to -20-degree C, was now -2-degree C, making it more susceptible to melting.
  • It was these changing phenomena that made infrastructure projects in the Himalayan regions risky, and made expert committees recommend that there should be no hydropower development beyond an elevation of 2,200 metre in the Himalayan region.
  • Moreover, with increased instances of cloudbursts, and intense spells of rainfall and avalanches, residents of the region were also placed at increased risk of loss of lives and livelihood.

Way Forward

  • It is suggested by various environmentalist that the proposed projects being built by private companies allot only a limited percentage of their produced power for the State of Uttarakhand itself.
  • The Centre has frequently changed its position and will continue to prioritise infrastructural development in the region, even if it comes at a heavy environmental cost.


Vande Bharat trains

Why in News

The Ministry of Railways plans to operate 102 Vande Bharat trains by March 2024.

Key Points

  • After the announcement of the operation of 75 Vande Bharat trains, the Ministry of Railways has floated tenders for manufacturing 58 rakes, each comprising 16 coaches.
  • Railway officials stated that, 102 Vande Bharat trains would be commissioned by early 2024.

Vande Bharat Trains

  • The Train18, later named Vande Bharat Express, was rolled out by the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai.
  • It was launched in 15th February 2019.
  • It showcased as India’s first semi high-speed train with an operational efficiency of 160 kmph and a game-changer.
  • As of Aug 2021, the Indian Railways operates two Vande Bharat trains, one from Delhi to Varanasi and the other from Delhi to Katra.
  • Vande Bharat trains are self-propelled “engineless” train sets.
  • Its faster acceleration and deceleration results in reduced train travel time.


National Monetisation Pipeline

Why in News

According to the recommendation of NITI Aayog, to make the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) a success, the government should give Income Tax breaks to attract retail investors into instruments such as Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs).

Key Points

  • The Centre’s think tank driving the NMP, estimated to raise almost ₹6 lakh crore for the exchequer over four years, has also called for bringing such trusts within the ambit of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) to provide greater comfort to investors.
  • Bringing in policy and regulatory changes to scale up monetisation instruments such as InvITs and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and expand their investor base have been identified as a critical element for the NMP.
  • The government plans to use the InvIT and REIT route to monetise public assets such as highways, gas pipelines, railway tracks and power transmission lines.
  • More tax-efficient and user-friendly mechanisms like allowing tax benefits in InvITs as eligible security to invest under Section 54EC of the Income Tax Act, 1961, are important starting points for initiating retail participation in the instruments.

Capital gains offset

  • Section 54EC allows taxpayers to offset long-term capital gains from transactions in immoveable properties through investments in bonds issued by some government-backed infrastructure firms.
  • Though this will entail a cost in the form of loss of revenue for exchequer, the long-term benefits may outweigh the cost as linking investments in specified bonds with the capital gains exemption had proved to be a success in the past.
  • While InvIT structures have been used in India since 2014, the Aayog pointed out that such trusts are not considered a ‘legal person’ and cannot be brought under IBC proceedings, deterring lenders from participating.

National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP)

  • According to the government vision, NMP is envisaged to serve as a medium-term roadmap for identifying potential monetisation-ready projects, across various infrastructure sectors.
  • It consists a four-year pipeline of the Central Government’s brownfield infrastructure assets which will serve as a medium-term roadmap for the Asset Monetisation initiative of Centre, besides providing visibility to the investors.
  • The National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) estimates aggregate monetization potential of Rs.6 lakh crores through core assets of the Central Govt, over a 4-year period, from FY 2022 to FY 2025.

Asset monetisation

  • Asset monetisation is globally a widely used business practice. It consists limited period transfer of performing assets to unlock “idle” capital and reinvesting it in other assets or projects that deliver improved or additional benefits.
  • Governments and public sector organisations, which own and operate such assets and are primarily responsible for delivering infrastructure services, can adopt this concept to meet the ever-increasing needs of the population for improved quality of public assets and service.
  • Asset monetisation can be undertaken through a range of instruments/ tools broadly categorised into two approaches:
  • Direct Contractual Approach such as PPP Concessions, and
  • Structured Financing models such as Infrastructure Investment Trust (InvIT), Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT).


  • According to the Finance Ministry, asset monetisation, based on the philosophy of creation through monetisation, is aimed at tapping private sector investment for new infrastructure creation.
  • It is necessary for creating employment opportunities, thereby enabling high economic growth and seamlessly integrating the rural and semi-urban areas for overall public welfare.
  • The end objective of this initiative to enable ‘Infrastructure Creation through Monetisation’ wherein the public and private sector collaborate, each excelling in their core areas of competence, so as to deliver socio-economic growth and quality of life to the country’s citizens.

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