CURRENT AFFAIRS – 23/06/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS - 23/06/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS – 23/06/2023

Centre grants approval for Kalaignar pen monument in Bay of Bengal

The Union Ministry of Environment has given Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance for the Tamil Nadu government’s proposal to construct Muthamizh Arignar Dr. Kalaignar pen monument in Bay of Bengal, off the Marina beach in Chennai, but with 15 conditions.

With this final approval, the State government may begin the process to implement the proposal.

In a letter to the Public Works Department on June 19, the Union Ministry said the CRZ clearance was provided based on the recommendations of the Expert Appraisal Committee and Tamil Nadu Coastal Zone Management Authority.

It has also noted that the Ministry may revoke or suspend the clearance if the implementation of the conditions were not found satisfactory.

Conditions compliance

The environment statement would have to be submitted to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board every year and the compliance of conditions need to be uploaded on PWD website.

The Department had proposed the pen monument to be 30-metre high and it would be spread over 8,551 sq.m. This would include pen pedestal, lattice bridge above beach and land and pedestrian pathway above sea.

The 7-metre wide bridge would be 290-metre over the land and 360-metre over the sea.

Some of the conditions laid by the Union Ministry include no objection certificate from INS Adyar that is situated 800 metres away from the project site before the construction; monitoring of erosion and accretion studies should be done; reports on crowd management and emergency evacuation plans must be provided to the regional environment office.

Green panel order

Noting that any order or direction of court and tribunal must be complied with, the Ministry added that the CRZ clearance letter is subject to the final order of the National Green Tribunal, southern zone.

Chennai-based Hubert Enviro Care Systems is the infrastructure and environmental consultant for the project.

The PWD would prepare a detailed project report for executing the project based on the Ministry’s approval.

Facts about the News 

Kalaignar Pen Monument


  • It is a proposed offshore memorial to honour the late M Karunanidhi, a former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and a prolific writer, poet, and orator.
  • The monument, which will be shaped like a giant pen, will symbolize his contributions to Tamil literature and culture, as well as his political legacy.
  • The project was announced in 2022 and is expected to cost Rs 81 crore and cover an area of 8,551 sq m in the Bay of Bengal, about 360 m from Marina Beach in Chennai.

Key Features

  • The monument will feature regional motifs, architecture, and designs with Tamil heritage elements, and will be surrounded by landscaped gardens.
  • The pen monument is a representation of Karunanidhi’s achievements in Iyal (poetry and literature), Isai (music), and Naadagam (theatre), the three fundamental pillars of both ancient and contemporary Thamizh, or Tamil.


  • Karunanidhi, who was also known as Kalaignar (artist), wrote over 100 books, including novels, short stories, biographies, essays, and memoirs.
  • He also penned several plays and screenplays for Tamil cinema and was a renowned speaker and leader of the Dravidian movement.
  • The pen monument has been planned as a tribute to Karunanidhi’s memory and a source of inspiration for future generations of Tamil writers and artists.


  • The project has also faced some criticism and opposition from various quarters, including environmental activists, fishermen’s groups, and some political parties.
  • The critics have raised concerns about the potential ecological damage and loss of livelihoods due to the construction of the monument in the coastal zone.
  • They have also questioned the need for such a costly and extravagant project at a time when the state is facing several developmental challenges and social issues 

Present Status

  • The project requires clearance from the Union Environment Ministry under the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2011.
  • The Expert Appraisal Committee of the ministry will decide on granting the clearance.
  • The project has already received approval from the Tamil Nadu State Coastal Zone Management Authority.

Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change


  • EAC is a statutory body that evaluates the environmental impact of various development projects and recommends whether they should be granted environmental clearance or not.
  • EAC consists of experts from different fields such as ecology, wildlife, hydrology, geology, sociology, engineering, etc.
  • EAC is divided into several sectors such as thermal power, coal mining, river valley and hydroelectric projects, infrastructure and industrial projects, etc. Each sector has a separate EAC that meets periodically to appraise the project proposals submitted by the proponents.

A doorway to an entrepreneurial university

New knowledge is always the result of interactions between disparate or competing disciplines. Whenever diverse players from different endeavours come together, institutions and organisations make gains because these joint ventures lead to the creation of a whole new body/ bodies of knowledge.

University systems have always seen this. The modern university system, which is a result of large efforts to institutionalise and scale up research and study in many disciplines, keeps evolving.

Over the years, multidisciplinary studies have seen new disciplines such as biochemistry and computing science, which in turn are spawning dozens of new sub-disciplines including the current rage, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Generative AI.

While the modern university system has accelerated the growth and the rise of new disciplines across the globe, innovations that bring together academic and industrial research work are creating economic and intellectual value for universities.

A new phase

This joint enterprise of academia and industry, for creating innovations that lead to new products, services, platforms and patents, is entering a new phase. This brings us to the next possible evolution of universities, namely, the entrepreneurial university. Of course, this is a provocative idea. One school of academia maintains that universities should be the fount of new knowledge and research, and any attempt at a commercialisation of this vision should not be allowed. But, globally, the thinking among new-age universities, and ‘educational entrepreneurs’ is to ensure a fine balance between education and enterprise, where learners pay an optimal price of attaining knowledge, gaining employable skills, or pursuing serious research.

While we need not get into a debate among these competing ideas, there is a definite need to create instruments and pathways that foster research and lead to a commercialisation of research output, so that the university system can capitalise the intellectual value of a new product or processes.

The UGC’s push

In India, the University Grants Commission (UGC)’s initiative to institutionalise the concept of ‘Professor of Practice’ is perhaps a right pointer towards an entrepreneurial university.

The UGC’s move clearly shows how universities are best positioned to foster innovation, simply because of the flow of new sets of bright minds every year, seeking to push the frontiers of knowledge further.

The UGC has said: “The objective behind introducing [the] Professor of Practice (PoP) is to enhance the quality of higher education by bringing practitioners, policymakers, skilled professionals, etc. into [the] higher education system.”

The initiative wants to bring industry and other professional expertise into academic institutions through a new category of positions viz. PoP. This will help take real world practices and experiences into classrooms and also augment faculty resources in higher education institutions. In turn, industry and society will benefit from trained graduates who are equipped with the relevant skills.

A PoP is typically an individual with significant experience in their industry, appointed to a faculty position at a university to share his/her practical knowledge and skills with students. Unlike traditional academic professors, PoPs are often hired from outside academia, and may not be required to have a PhD or other advanced research degree. Based on their expertise and experience in a specific profession or industry, they are expected to bring real-world insights and perspectives to the classroom. PoPs can be found in fields that include business, engineering, law, journalism, and the arts.

In the field of engineering, for example, a PoP can teach courses that focus on practical, real-world applications and share their insights in applied learning. They can serve as mentors for student projects; develop new courses that are more aligned to industry trends; collaborate with other faculty on research projects and point to ways of converting patents into commercial products (which they do regularly in the industry).

Innovation is the next pillar

PoPs can serve as ambassadors for their universities, building relationships with industry partners and helping to connect students with internship and job opportunities. They can also participate in professional organisations and conferences to stay up-to-date on industry trends and best practices. Thus, PoPs can reshape a university’s commercial thinking and energise the actions that add vividity to a university’s culture. Teaching and research were the foundational pillars of a university in the industrial era. In today’s post-knowledge societies, innovation is the third pillar in universities. This should also be a continuous activity.

When this innovative culture sets in strongly, every academic will be able to synthesise ideas and spin out start-up enterprises. These university-based start-ups would not only incubate ideas but also convert ideas into patents and transform patents into commercial products. The more such ideas grow, the better the idea of an entrepreneurial university gains ground. Its fruition would be a full convergence of research, industry work and academia. The sum of this coalition will be much more than the individual parts.

Perhaps, one day, PoPs will lead to a new generation of ‘entrepreneurs in residence’, showing the way for bright students to create the next Google on campus.

The University Grants Commission’s move to institutionalise the concept of a ‘Professor of Practice’ could help bridge the gap between academia and the professional world

Manipur invokes RBI’s riot provisions to aid borrowers

The Manipur government has declared that the whole State has been affected by riots and violence, impacting the economic activities and livelihood of the public.

To provide relief, the State government has invoked a rarely used Reserve Bank of India (RBI) provision pertaining to restructuring and rescheduling of loans. It provides relief to borrowers when economic activity comes to a halt and offers moratorium on repayment of loans. The guidelines have been mostly invoked in areas affected by natural calamities and not for a law and order situation.

Since Wednesday, three incidents of firing and a car-bomb explosion have been reported in the State.

In a June 21 order, Vineet Joshi, Chief Secretary of Manipur, said that reports were received from several Deputy Commissioners that many properties and businesses of residents have been affected due to the law and order situation. “ The borrowers who had taken loans are not in a position to repay them and requested SLBC [State Level Bankers’ Committee] to extend relief to the affected persons,” it said. The SLBC discussed the matter on June 9.

The order also said chapter No. 7 of the “Reserve Bank of India (Relief Measures by Banks in Areas Affected by Natural Calamities) Directions, 2018” applies to the State.

“Therefore, the Governor of Manipur hereby declares that the whole State of Manipur is being affected by violences/riots leading to economic activities and livelihood of the public being affected,” and relief measures may be taken up under the RBI’s guidelines, the order said.

Trade unions boycott G-20 meet over BMS appointment as chair

About 10 Central Trade Unions (CTUs) have boycotted the Labour20 (L-20), the meeting of trade unions from G-20 countries, which began in Patna on Thursday. The unions are unhappy with the Centre’s decision to appoint RSS-supported trade union Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) as the chair of the L-20.

The CTUs complained that the International Trade Unions Confederation (ITUC) used to chair the L-20 meetings and the BMS was not a member of the ITUC. The Centre has apparently refused the ITUC’s demand that the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) also be made a chair of the L-20 by maintaining that the BMS is the largest trade union in the country.

Bihar Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar inaugurated the thematic event of the engagement group of L-20 on Thursday. BMS president Hiranmaye Pandaya is chairing the meet. Mr. Pandya said the L-20 would not only represent the voice of G-20 nations but it would surely also represent the voice of those nations whose representatives were not in the attendance.

The key themes of the meeting are “Social Security & International Portability of Social Security Fund and Women and Future of Work”. Mr. Pandya said the trade unions themselves discussed these issues. “Extensive discussions were also held with the representatives of Business-20, Civil-20, Youth-20, Women-20 etc.,” he said.

Union Labour Secretary Aarti Ahuja is also attending the meeting. Union Labour Minister Bhupendra Yadav and Union Minister of State for Labour Rameshwar Teli and Labour Minister of Bihar Surendra Ram will address the summit on Friday.

When asked about the CTUs’ decision to boycott the L-20, Mr. Yadav said his Ministry had always been encouraging tripartite consultations. Mr. Pandya said that 173 delegates from 28 countries were attending the conference.

The CTUs said in a letter to the Union Labour Ministry that it was surprising that the Centre did not respond to their letters on L-20 in the last six months.

Facts about the News 

About International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC):

  • It is an organization established in 2006, that promotes the trade union movement.
  • It represents 176 million workers in 161 countries and territories and has 325 national affiliates.
  • Mission: Promotion and defence of workers’ rights and interests, through international cooperation between trade unions, global campaigning and advocacy within the major global institutions.
  • Its main areas of activity include the following: trade union and human rights; economy, society and the workplace; equality and non-discrimination; and international solidarity.
  • It is governed by four-yearly world congresses, a General Council and an Executive Bureau.
  • It works closely with the International Labour Organisation and with several other UN Specialised Agencies.
  • Headquarters: Belgium

Medicines Patent Pool deal to make cancer drug cheaper

In a move that will make certain cancer drugs more accessible and cheaper for patients, the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) has signed sub-licence agreements with the India-based companies Eugia, Hetero and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, along with the Indonesian firm BrightGene, to make generic versions of the drug Nilotinib of the Switzerland-based pharmaceutical corporation Novartis.

The drug is used for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukaemia, a type of blood cancer.

These first sub-licence agreements that the MPP, a United Nations-backed group working towards increasing access to, and facilitating the development of, life-saving medicines for low- and middle-income countries, has signed for a cancer treatment drug are the result of a licence agreement signed between it and Novartis Pharma AG in October 2022 for their patented cancer medicine.

Nilotinib is sold under the brand name Tasigna and marketed worldwide by Novartis.

Information released by the MPP said the selected manufacturers can make generic versions of Nilotinib in India and seven middle-income countries.

They can also supply it in 44 territories included in the licence through a non-exclusive licence agreement, subject to local regulatory authorisation.

Charles Gore, executive director of the MPP, said that they have worked with the four generic manufacturers to develop generic Nilotinib and the move will give an affordable treatment option to people diagnosed with the disease in such countries.

The licence includes the opportunity to develop and supply generic versions of Nilotinib in seven middle-income countries.

  • The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) is a Unitaid-backed international organisation founded in July 2010, based in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Its public health driven business model aims to lower the prices of HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis C medicines and facilitate the development of better-adapted HIV treatments through voluntary licensing and patent pooling.
  • Its goal is to improve access to affordable and appropriate HIV, hepatitis C and tuberculosis medicines in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC).
  • Economics research finds evidence that the pool increases generic diffusion in LMIC and upstream innovation.

Amid search for Titan, lessons for proposed Indian submersible dive

With hope dwindling on the chances of survival of those in the Titan submersible, scientists in India, preparing to undertake a similar dive in an indigenous vehicle late next year, say that multiple back-up safety measures for the crew are already in place, though there may be reviews of the safety systems employed.

The Titan, which previously ferried tourists to the wreck of the Titanic buried 3,800 metres in the North Atlantic, lost contact with its mothership, Polar Prince, on June 17.

The Titan consists of a carbon-fibre sphere with a titanium casing on the front and back. “When we were in the planning stage, there was a proposal to use carbon fibre but we firmly ruled it out and insisted on a titanium enclosure,” said G. Ramadass, Director, National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), Chennai, which is in the process of designing a submersible, Matsya-6000, that will take three Indians to a depth of 6,000 metres into the Indian Ocean.

Matsya-6000 also has syntactic foam, a flotation device that would rise to the top and help determine the physical location of the submersible, even if it were unable to resurface.

Ahead of the main dives, likely in December 2024 or early 2025, the NIOT divers will undertake several test dives up to 500 metres inside another submersible made of steel. Titanium is stronger than steel but many times lighter — a key criterion that helps the submersible resurface with relative ease from the depths of the open ocean. While the choice of material is made depending on the depth and the cost involved, it’s crucial that the submersible’s hull is perfectly spherical, so that extreme pressure at the ocean depth is evenly balanced. “Even with the slightest imperfection, say even a millimetre off, it will go off like a bomb,” M. Ravichandran, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), told The Hindu.

“This accident will certainly have us review and re-check all the safety measures that we will be incorporating in our mission,” Dr. Ravichandran added.

About MATSYA 6000

  • Developed indigenously, MATSYA 6000 is a manned submersible vehicle. MATSYA 6000’ vehicle is being designed and developed by National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), Chennai under Ministry of Earth Sciences
  • It will facilitate the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) in conducting deep ocean exploration.
  • It has an endurance of 12 hours of operational period and 96 hours in case of emergency, according to the ANI news agency.
  • It is India’s first unique manned ocean mission and is a part of the Rs 6000-crores Deep Ocean Mission.
  • The manned submersible will allow scientific personnel to observe and understand unexplored deep-sea areas by direct intervention. It will also boost the Central government’s vision of ‘New India’ that highlights the Blue Economy as one of the ten core dimensions of growth.

Design specifications

  • Titanium Enclosure: Matsya-6000 features a titanium casing on the front and back, chosen over carbon fiber for enhanced safety.
  • Syntactic Foam: The submersible is equipped with syntactic foam, a flotation device that helps determine its location even if it cannot resurface.

 Samudrayaan Mission

  • Samudrayaan is a mega mission related to the ocean/sea-launched in October 2021.
  • It is aimed to develop “a self-propelled manned submersible to carry three human beings to a water depth of 6,000 meters in the ocean with a suite of scientific sensors and tools for deep ocean exploration.
  • It seeks to carry out deep ocean exploration of non-living resources such as polymetallic manganese nodules, gas hydrates, hydro-thermal sulfides, and cobalt crusts, located at a depth between 1000 and 5500 meters.