Current Affairs 1st September 2022

1.    MIKHAIL GORBACHEV

  • News: As the eighth and final leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev sought to reform the Communist state and infuse greater transparency. But his efforts unleashed a wave of unstoppable forces that led to the nation’s demise, reshaping the geopolitical landscape and leaving the U.S. as the world’s sole superpower.
  • Gorbachev as leader of Soviet Union:
    • The son of peasants, the world would come to know him as the architect of “perestroika” and “glasnost”—restructuring and openness—domestic policies he hoped would breathe new life into the country’s sluggish 1980s economy, remake the political system and loosen some civil restrictions at a time of warming relations with the West.
    • What happened next was the unravelling of decades-old entrenched Communist regimes across the Eastern bloc, the reunification of Germany’s East and West, and greatly improved ties with the U.S.
    • Gorbachev’s rejection of force to crush the push for freedom in the Soviet bloc, the easing of censorship in the media and cultural life, and his support of a landmark nuclear-arms-control agreement with the U.S. won him much praise abroad, and he was awarded the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize.
    • The Nobel committee cited “his leading role in the peace process.”
    • These were the acts of a rare leader—one with the imagination to see that a different future was possible and the courage to risk his entire career to achieve it. The result was a safer world and greater freedom for millions of people.
    • But such warm sentiments weren’t felt at home, where many blamed the Soviet leader for the poverty and economic hardship that came with his loosening of centralized control of some businesses and in agriculture and manufacturing, for allowing the rise of nationalism in former Soviet republics, and for the loss of the U.S.S.R.’s status as a superpower.
    • The real problem is, he was trying to introduce freedom of society for a population that did not know how to use freedom,” said Moscow-based political scientist Mark Urnov, who worked at Mr. Gorbachev’s foundation. “For many generations, we were under a very tough totalitarian regime. We were deprived of any elementary personal freedom. To overcome such kind of a legacy, three or four generations are needed.
    • Gorbachev ultimately resigned as leader of communist Russia on Dec. 25, 1991. The next day, the U.S.S.R. was formally dissolved. In a television address to the nation, he lamented that although the U.S.S.R. had been blessed with resources such as oil and gas, the country was “increasingly lagging behind” developed nations.
    • He explained the necessity for his radical reforms. “The reason was already visible—society was suffocating in the grip of a command-bureaucratic system,” he said. “All attempts at partial reform—and there were many—failed one after another. The country was losing perspective. It was impossible to live on like that.”
    • Gorbachev’s life following the end of his presidency was characterized by rounds on the lecture circuit in the West, penning papers and books, and hobnobbing with dignitaries, who respected and admired him, including former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
    • Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev was born on March 2, 1931, to a peasant family of mixed Russian and Ukrainian heritage in the village of Privolnoye, in Russia’s southern Stavropol region.
    • The period that defined his political legacy began in 1985 with perestroika, envisioned as a way to revitalize the socialist economic and political system, by boosting the country’s low productivity and substandard quality of its goods, and prompting a better work ethic. “I believe that perestroika started at a time when it was necessary, and when the country was ripe for perestroika,” Mr. Gorbachev said in a 2002 speech at Harvard University. “Not only objective conditions were in place, but also the subjective conditions were in place for perestroika. Perestroika couldn’t have started because of the initiative from below. It couldn’t have started outside the party system.”
    • His policy of glasnost offered citizens greater liberties, including allowing them to say what they wanted without fear of retribution. He encouraged differing views and greater candor in government affairs, released political prisoners, and allowed the publication of once classified information about the crimes of the Stalin era. “The main achievement of Gorbachev was the liberation of Soviet people from the press of the system created by the Bolsheviks and controlled by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union,” said Dmitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. “He gave people freedom.”
    • Gorbachev ended the U.S.S.R.’s almost decadelong involvement in Afghanistan’s civil war, in which some 15,000 Soviet soldiers died. He cemented the thawing of the Cold War with the signing of the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with President Ronald Reagan. The pact banned the two nations’ conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 300 miles to 3,400 miles.
    • Definitions:
      • Perestroika: Perestroika  was a political movement for reform within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) during the late 1980s widely associated with CPSU general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and his glasnost (meaning “openness”) policy reform.
        • The literal meaning of perestroika is “reconstruction”, referring to the restructuring of the Soviet political and economic system, in an attempt to end the Era of Stagnation.
        • Perestroika allowed more independent actions from various ministries and introduced many market-like reforms.
        • The alleged goal of perestroika, however, was not to end the command economy but rather to make socialism work more efficiently to better meet the needs of Soviet citizens by adopting elements of liberal economics.
      • Glasnost: Glasnost has several general and specific meanings – a policy of maximum openness in the activities of state institutions and freedom of information, the inadmissibility of hushing up problems, and so on.
        • It has been used in Russian to mean “openness and transparency” since at least the end of the 18th century.

2.    PM MITRA

  • News: The scheme, known as Mega Integrated Textile Region and Apparel (PM MITRA), was announced in Budget 2021 to make the textile industry globally competitive. It was given a budget of ₹4,445 crore for seven years up to 2027-28. Seven such parks are due to be approved.
  • About PM MITRA:
    • The park will be developed by a Special Purpose Vehicle which will be owned by the Central and State Government and in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) Mode.
    • Each Park will have an incubation centre, common processing house and a common effluent treatment plant and other textile related facilities such as design centres and testing centres.
    • Incubation centre is the institution that assists entrepreneurs in developing their business and solving problems associated with it, especially in the initial stages, by providing an array of business and technical services, initial seed funds, lab facilities, advisory, network and linkages.
    • The Master Developer will not only develop the Industrial Park but also maintain it during the concession period.
    • Funding:
      • The centre will provide development capital support for the development of common infrastructure of Rs 500 crore for each greenfield MITRA park and upto Rs 200 crore for each brownfield park.
      • Greenfield describes a completely new project that has to be executed from scratch, while a brownfield project is one that has been worked on by others.
    • Eligibility for Incentives:
      • An additional Rs 300 crore will be provided as Competitiveness Incentive Support for the early establishment of textiles manufacturing units in each of these parks.
      • Investors who set up “anchor plants” that employ at least 100 people will be eligible for incentives of upto Rs 10 crore every year for upto three years.
    • Significance:
      • Reduce Logistics Cost:
        • It will reduce logistics cost and strengthen the value chain of the textile sector to make it globally competitive.
        • High logistics costs are considered a key hurdle to India’s goal of boosting textile exports.
      • Employment Generation:
        • Each park is expected to directly generate 1 lakh jobs and indirectly generate a further 2 lakh jobs.
      • Attract FDI:
        • The parks are crucial to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
        • From April 2000 to September 2020, India’s textile sector received Rs 20,468.62 crore of FDI, which is just 0.69% of the total FDI inflows during the period.
      • Other Related Initiatives:
        • The Production Linked Incentive Scheme for man-made fibre segment (MMF) apparel, MMF fabrics and ten products of technical textiles for five years has been approved.
        • A National Technical Textiles Mission has already been launched to promote research and development in that sector.

3.    MINES AND MINERALS NEW AVERAGE SALE PRICE DEFINITION

  • News: Proposed amendments to the law governing mines and minerals will seek to change how the average price of minerals is calculated in order to make them cheaper —for both sales and auctions—and more attractive to investors.
  • Details:
    • The way this is proposed to be done is by removing an anomaly called ‘royalty on royalty’. The average sale price (ASP) of a mine has several components, including the royalty paid to the state government by the company that owns the mine.
    • However, this is in addition to the royalty investors have to pay to states, which is calculated as a percentage of the ASP. This is the ‘royalty on royalty,’ which becomes an additional charge on miners.
    • Currently, ASP, which can differ from mine to mine in each state, includes royalty payments to the District Mineral Foundation (DMF) and the National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET).
    • Charging royalty and premium on the sale value that includes royalty is not an appropriate way to collect revenue and leads to cascading effect on both royalty and premium. It also creates complications in changing royalty rates.
    • The government proposes to correct this by including a definition of ASP in the Mines Minerals Development and Regulation Act, 1957, through an amendment.
    • The new definition of the ASP would exclude GST, royalty to NMET and DMF, export duties and other levies from the way the price is calculated.
    • One of the fears among states over the proposed changes was that it would impact their royalty earnings as it would now be calculated on the lower price of minerals.
    • But officials argue that removing the “cascading impact of royalty on royalty” will likely raise investor interest and increase participation in future auctions, thereby making additional revenue available to state governments. This is also expected to give a boost to the sector.
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