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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

Monthly DNA

06 Feb, 2021

12 Min Read

Colombo’s East Container Terminal

GS-II : International Relations Sri Lanka

Colombo’s East Container Terminal

Context

  • The Sri Lankan government’s decision to overturn the tripartite agreement to develop Colombo’s East Container Terminal is a setback to India and Japan.

East Container Terminal project

  • The project, worth an estimated $500-$700 million, was a key marker for infrastructure investment in the island nation where Chinese projects are most prominent.
  • More than two-thirds of trans-shipment at this port is tied to India, making it an important trade and connectivity link.
  • Japan has been a keen supporter of Sri Lanka’s growth story, with its loans of about ¥1.1 trillion and grants and technical cooperation of about ¥300 billion.
  • As a joint venture for India and Japan to invest in, the ECT project was also expected to showcase how the two Indo-Pacific partners, and also Quad members, could provide South Asia with viable, transparent and sustainable alternatives for financing and development.

Disappointment in India and Japan

  • The sharp statements from New Delhi and Tokyo now reflect their deep disappointment and their suspicions about the motivations.
  • The ostensible reason for the decision is growing pressure from port union groups which have opposed any foreign participation and threatened a “work-to-rule” agitation if ECT operations were handed to the Adani group, as proposed.
  • India has also had some misgivings about whether the Rajapaksa brothers, who became President and Prime Minister in 2019-2020, would in fact honour the commitments made by the previous government, given the acrimony between the two governments.
  • Similar commitments made by former PM Ranil Wickremesinghe during a visit to Delhi when he signed an MoU for developing the Eastern city of Trincomalee through oil and infrastructure projects also appear to have fallen by the wayside.
  • The larger question of a possible Chinese role in the ECT decision also hangs over the decision, given that other terminal projects at the Colombo Port such as the Colombo International Container Terminal, have not faced similar pushback.
  • It is also curious that given its financial difficulties, Sri Lanka felt confident in taking a decision guaranteed to upset such important donors.

West Container Terminal

  • New Delhi has said it continues to engage Sri Lanka on the ECT issue, although it remains cold to Colombo’s alternative offer of developing the West Container Terminal.

Recent steps were taken by India to strengthen Sri Lanka ties

  • Over the past year, the Modi government has invested much time and resources in India-Sri Lanka ties, including a new credit line, currency swap agreement, and COVID-19 assistance and vaccines.
  • NSA Ajit Doval and EAM S. Jaishankar have visited Colombo more than once, and Mr Modi has hosted President Gotabaya and Prime Minister Mahinda.
  • India has also set many stores by its partnership with Japan, which could be a template for similar projects, as a counter to China’s BRI.

Conclusion

  • There is much at stake for all three countries to derail the partnership.

Source: TH

Serological survey of ICMR

GS-III : S&T COVID-19

Serological survey of ICMR
Context

  • The results of the ICMR’s third serological survey to ascertain the spread of COVID-19 show that nearly one in five Indians — about 270 million — may have been infected.

Serological Survey

  • A serological survey is conducted to assess the prevalence of a disease in a population. It is done by detecting the presence of specific antibodies that are produced against the virus.
  • A serological survey includes the IgG Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) test. It estimates the proportion of the population exposed to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Results of serological survey

  • However, what is known so far is that compared to August — when data for the second serological survey was announced — there has been a three-fold rise in infections.
  • There has also been a five-fold rise (in percentage terms) of the infection in those aged 10-17 years.
  • The third edition also included a serological survey of doctors, nurses and paramedical staff, revealing that nearly 25% — significantly above the national average — had been infected.
  • Experts of various hues point to the declining trend in infections since September, and the absence of multiple peaks in coronavirus cases as a pointer to the spread being far wider and speeding up ‘herd immunity.

Herd immunity

  • A state when a significant proportion of people in a locale have been infected, thereby retarding future spread

Way ahead

  • This survey nor any city-wide survey has evaluated how long antibodies persist and if certain virus mutant variants can overcome the protection from antibodies.
  • Such surveys must shift focus to asking more granular questions:
    • Should the rise in spread among teenagers and children mean that they be considered for vaccination earlier than scheduled?
    • Should companies accelerate trials to test protection in children?
    • Should the rise in rural India — the survey is designed in a way to sample more villages than urban pockets — mean that they be given vaccines earlier?

Conclusion

  • It would be wrong to derive comfort from this situation.
  • The ICMR emphasises that the results point to a significant number still potentially vulnerable, underscoring the need to be vaccinated and continuing with distancing and masking up.
  • The ICMR and the government health facilities must coordinate with a broader spectrum of specialists to investigate questions that can be used to guide and modify vaccination policy.

Source: TH

Jamtara district, Jharkhand- the Phishing Capital of India

GS-III : Internal security Cyber Security

Jamtara district, Jharkhand- the Phishing Capital of India

  • The Jamtara district holds the distinction of being the “phishing capital of India”.
  • Many drop-outs of the 15-35 age group have been turning to cybercrime to earn a few quick bucks.
  • The place has historical roots as Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar had once worked through a community library movement here.

Source: TH

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