The story of Indian Railways and its tryst with privatisation
In a country of 1.3 billion, the Indian Railways plays an integral role running the world’s fourth largest rail network in the world—across 64,000km, ferrying nearly 23 million passengers per day in over 13,000 passenger trains daily. With a workforce of nearly 1.3 million, it is also one of the largest employers in the world.
But the railways, in recent years, confronted with its dwindling finances, has been mulling ways of generating revenue through different streams, including the non-fare revenue segment, leasing out its vast pool of vacant land and, most importantly, opening doors for Public Private Partnership (PPP) for its trains and stations.
It has felt the need to bring in private investment to upgrade its facilities and infrastructure, with an eye, also, on the competition as domestic airlines take away its AC class passengers and passengers increasingly opt to travel by road for shorter distances.
The railways recovers about 57% of cost of travel and the remaining is given as subsidy—which means that the institution incurs 43 paise per rupee for each ticket as subsidy. This is not a traditional subsidy, but is instead cross-subsidised from the money railways makes from its freight operations.
Bangladesh bans arrival from Europe except UK and 12 other countries
In view of the surge in the COVID 19 cases in the country over the last week, Bangladesh has banned the arrival of passengers from Europe except the UK and 12 other countries.
A circular was issued to this effect by the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) on Thursday specifying that passengers from Europe except the UK and Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, Chile, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Qatar, South Africa, Turkey and Uruguay will not be allowed to enter Bangladesh.
The airlines operating from all these countries are allowed only to carry transit passengers who will have to stay inside the premises of the HazratShahjalal Airport.
The CAAB said that the decision was taken after reviewing the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic situation throughout the country and globally.
The Directorate General of Health Services has identified 31 districts out of 64 in the country as ‘high risk’ based on the daily test positivity rate of over 10 percent. These districts include 11 under the Dhaka division.
Health Minister ZahidMaleque announced on Wednesday that a number of specialised public hospitals in Dhaka will add beds for the COVID 19 patients in view of sudden increase in the demand for hospitalisation.
World Bank estimates India's 2021-22 GDP growth from 4% to 10.1%
Private consumption and public investment will see the Indian economy likely growing by 10.1% in 2021-22 (FY22), the World Bank said, although, in a sign of all-around uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, it said India’s economic growth in FY22 would be in the broad range from 7.5% to 12.5%.
The 10.1% is 4.7 percentage points higher than the World Bank’s previous estimate for India’s growth in 2021, and reflects the pace of the country’s recovery. However the Bank also expects the Indian economy to contract by 8.5% in FY21, higher than the government’s own estimate of 8%.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected India’s economy will grow by 11.5% over 2021 and 6.8% over 2022, painting a rosier picture.
“Given the significant uncertainty pertaining to both epidemiological and policy developments, real GDP (gross domestic product) growth for FY21/22 can range from 7.5 to 12.5%, depending on how the ongoing vaccination campaign proceeds, whether new restrictions to mobility are required, and how quickly the world economy recovers.
::SCIENCE AND TECH::
New clue about how particles self-assemble can pave the way for understanding dynamics in living cells
Molecular chirality is encoded in the static structure of building units of particles. It is well known that it results in interactions that are stereoselective. However, in many systems, chirality can be associated with how the particles move.
Can particles which refuse to interact with each other form condensed phases like solids and liquids be brought together? How do particles form these structures without attraction when left on their own? Scientists have now found a clue to determine how self-assembled structures can be made using a strange class of particles that do not interact and have non-superimposable mirror images (chiral).
Whether such chiral activity can introduce stereoselective interactions between particles is still unknown to scientists. By investigating the role of chiral activity, a group of scientists have for the first time shown that objects can self-recognize even when their shape is not chiral. Further, they report spontaneous dimerization into two types of dimers- ‘movers’ and ‘spinners’.
Chiral active matter is ubiquitous in nature, and numerous biological systems possess some degree of chiral activity. The present study could thus pave the way towards understanding dynamics in living cells and their assemblies. However, in biological systems, precisely tuning chiral activity is very difficult and how precisely it affects the emergent dynamics is not clear.
Scientists from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research Bangalore, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India and the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, tuned the nature of the chiral activity of millimetre-sized rice-shaped grains with the help of 3D printing.
Woman weightlifter fails dope test, asked to return home from national camp
A woman weightlifter, who was part of the ongoing national camp at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala, has been provisionally suspended after testing positive for banned substance.
The weightlifter, a national record holder and who has participated in several international tournaments including the Commonwealth Championship where she won gold, was set to be a part of the Indian team for the Asian Championship to be held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from April 16 to 25.
"Yes, she has failed a dope test. The report came about 10-15 days back," a source in the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) confirmed the development to PTI.