Tokyo Olympics 2020 Postponed
The International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee have decided to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games to the summer 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the Olympics Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
The decision came after some of the major sporting nations like Australia and Canada withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
The nations withdrew in the backdrop of limited international travel, difficulty in training and exposed risk of contracting or spreading the disease.
The organisers have postponed the event for the first time in its 124-year modern history.
The first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896 at Athens (Greece).
It is also considered as the first postponement of an Olympics in peacetime.
Earlier, the games were not held during World War II considering the turmoil across the world.
In 1940, Japan was to be the first Asian country to host the Olympics.
But its military aggression in Asia forced the annulment of the Olympics scheduled in Japan.
The 1940 Olympics is known as the “Missing Olympics” after the Games were switched to Helsinki (Finland) before finally being scrapped because of World War II.
Tokyo was spending $12.6 billion to host the Games and a postponement could cost it $6 billion as the short-term period loss.
It will also be a bitter blow to sponsors and major broadcasters who rely on this four-yearly event for critical advertising revenue.
Recently, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck in the northern Pacific and a tsunami warning was issued for the closest shores on Russia’s far eastern Kuril Islands.
The earthquakes of this strength in the region have caused tsunamis in the past far from the epicenter of the earthquake.
The epicenter is the point on the Earth’s surface directly above a hypocenter or focus.(The hypocenter is where an earthquake or an underground explosion originates.)
Geographic Location of Kuril Islands:
Kuril Islands are stretched from the Japanese island of Hokkaido to the southern tip of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula separating Okhotsk Sea from the North Pacific ocean.
It consists of 56 islands and minor rocks.
The chain is part of the belt of geologic instability circling the Pacific and contains at least 100 volcanoes, of which 35 are still active, and many hot springs.
Earthquakes and tidal waves are common phenomena over these islands.
Importance of South Kuril Islands:
The islands are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and are thought to have offshore reserves of oil and gas.
Rare rhenium deposits have been found on the Kudriavy volcano on Iturup.
Nickel-based superalloys of rhenium are used in the combustion chambers, turbine blades, and exhaust nozzles of jet engines.
Tourism is also a potential source of income, as the islands have several volcanoes and a variety of birdlife.
Russia has deployed missile systems in the region.
Russia also plans a submarine project and intends to prevent any American military use of the islands.
Sovereignty Issue of South Kuril Islands:
The Kuril Islands dispute between Japan and Russia is over the sovereignty of South Kuril Islands.
The South Kuril Islands comprises Etorofu island, Kunashiri island, Shikotan island and the Habomai island. These islands are claimed by Japan but occupied by Russia as successor state of the Soviet Union.
These islands are known as Southern Kurils by Russia whereas Japan calls them Northern Territories.
Recapitalisation of RRBs
Recently, the Centre has approved a ₹1,340-crore recapitalisation plan for Regional Rural Banks (RRBs).
The move is crucial to ensure liquidity in rural areas during the lockdown due to the COVID-19 crisis.
This recapitalisation (a strategy of enhancing the financial base of an entity to overcome a rough financial situation) would improve their capital-to-risk weighted assets ratio (CRAR) and strengthen these institutions for providing credit in rural areas.
The step will help those RRBs which are unable to maintain a minimum CRAR of 9%, as per the regulatory norms prescribed by the RBI.
The release of the Rs. 670 crore as the central share funds will be contingent upon the release of the proportionate share by the sponsor banks.
The recapitalisation process of RRBs was approved by the cabinet in 2011 based on the recommendations of a committee set up under the Chairmanship of K C Chakrabarty.
The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) identifies those RRBs, which require recapitalisation assistance to maintain the mandatory CRAR of 9% based on the CRAR position of RRBs, as on 31st March of every year.
The scheme for recapitalization of RRBs was extended up to 2019-20 in a phased manner post 2011.
Traditional New Year Festivals
The President of India has greeted the people on the eve of Chaitra Shukla Pratipada, Ugadi, Gudi Padava, Cheti Chand, Navreh and Sajibu Cheiraoba.
These festivals of the spring season mark the beginning of the traditional new year in India.
Chaitra Shukla Pratipada:
It marks the beginning of the new year of the Vikram Samvat also known as the Vedic [Hindu] calendar.
Vikram Samvat is based on the day when the emperor Vikramaditya defeated Sakas, invaded Ujjain and called for a new era.
Under his supervision, astronomers formed a new calendar based on the luni-solar system that is still followed in the northern regions of India.
It is the first day during the waxing phase (in which the visible side of moon is getting bigger every night) of the moon in the Chaitra (first month of Hindu calendar).
These festivals are celebrated by the people in the Deccan region including Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
The common practice in the celebrations of both the festivals is the festive food that is prepared with a mix of sweet and bitter.
A famous concoction served is jaggery (sweet) and neem (bitter), called bevu-bella in the South, signifying that life brings both happiness and sorrows.
Gudi is a doll prepared in Maharashtrian homes.
A bamboo stick is adorned with green or red brocade to make the gudi. This gudi is placed prominently in the house or outside a window/ door for all to see.
For Ugadi, doors in homes are adorned with mango leaf decorations called toranalu or Torana in Kannada.
Sindhis celebrate the new year as Cheti Chand. Chaitra month is called ‘Chet’ in Sindhi.
The day commemorates the birth anniversary of Uderolal/Jhulelal, the patron saint of Sindhis.
It is the lunar new year that is celebrated in Kashmir.
It is the Sanskrit word ‘Nav-Varsha’ from where the word ‘Navreh’ has been derived.
It falls on the first day of the Chaitra Navratri.
On this day, Kashmiri pandits look at a bowl of rice which is considered as a symbol of riches and fertility.
It is a ritual festival of Meiteis which is observed on the first day of Manipur lunar month Shajibu, which falls in March/April every year.
On the day of the festival, people arrange a joint family feast in which traditional cuisines are offered to local deities at the entrance gates of the houses.
Cess Fund for Welfare of Construction Workers
Recently, the Ministry of Labour & Employment has Issued an advisory to all States/UTs to use the Cess Fund for Welfare of Construction Workers.
The advisory comes under Section 60 of the Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) Act, 1996.
The Act regulates the employment and conditions of service of building and other construction workers.
It provides for their safety, health and welfare measures and for other matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
All State Governments/UTs have been advised to transfer funds from the Cess Fund to the account of construction workers through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) mode.
The amount to be granted to construction workers may be decided by the respective state governments and Union territories.
The financial assistance at this point in time would help to mitigate the financial crisis of construction workers to some extent and boost their morale to deal with COVID-19.
About the Cess Fund:
The BOCW Cess Act, 1996, provides for the levy and collection of cess at 1-2 % of the cost of construction, as the Central government may notify.
The cess has been levied at the rate of 1% of the cost of construction, as notified by the Central government in its official gazette.
The cess is collected by the State governments and UTs.
It is utilised for the welfare of building and other construction workers by the respective State Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Boards.