Mint Lite | Vaccine diplomacy, museums, coal plants, multiplex and others4 min read . Updated: 17 Sep 2020, 10:08 PM IST
Stories, views, opinions and talking points that matter, from around the world
Museums have been a talking point this week. Author and historian William Dalrymple has said UK needs a “museum of colonialism" where children will be able to learn about “the really terrible things that happened in our past" in a year when statues of imperialists and racists have been toppled around the world. A few days earlier, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath had said Agra’s upcoming Mughal Museum will be renamed for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj because there was no place for “symbols of slavery" in his state. The past seems to be a subject of current debate. For more national and world news, here’s Mint Lite.
Shut old coal plants, save ₹1.1 trillion
Exit-coal campaigners would approve of this new report from environment consultancy firm Climate Risk Horizons (CRH). It estimates that the shutting down of older and under-construction coal power plants could not only cut greenhouse gas emissions but also save the government, power distribution utilities and the consumers around ₹1.1 trillion. Just shutting power plants older than 20 years could save up to ₹530 billion over five years in 11 states. The savings will come in two ways: shutting down 36,536MW of older, inefficient coal projects will save an estimated ₹188 billion on investments in retrofit emission control systems. Getting electricity from renewables or the power exchange instead of thermal projects could lead to additional savings of ₹70 billion a year based on current tariffs. It said shutting down older plants is a more economical option than trying to retrofit them to make them emissions-compliant. Retro-fitting pollution control systems was a suggestion made in a recent paper from the Central Electricity Regulatory Committee, but this requires additional expenditure.
The era of vaccine diplomacy
Friday is the last day for governments to decide whether to take part in Covax, an $18 billion initiative that aims to give lower-income countries the same access to vaccines as wealthier nations. So far, 172 countries have joined WHO’s Covax initiative, which aims to procure and distribute 2 billion doses of approved vaccines by the end of 2021.The US, which has signed direct deals with pharma majors and secured its own supply, has refused to join Covax. Beijing has said it “supports" Covax but it hasn’t said that it will put money into the project. For Covax, getting China on board and providing doses to its 1.4 billion people means greater negotiating power with drug makers. Diplomatic experts say signing up would help China repair its image in the world. It’s received flak for its handling of the initial outbreak in Wuhan, and subsequently over issues in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and the border conflict with India.
Uneven gains on the index
Since 23 March, when India locked down and the markets fell, Reliance Industries stock has surged 164%. It’s boosted the Sensex despite the gloomy econ-omic environment. In that time, Reliance’s surge accounted for 43% of the Sensex rally. In comparison, a rise in US’ most valuable stocks—Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google-Alphabet, collectively known by the acronym FAANG—made up 22% of the S&P 500’s surge during the same period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. US’ largest stock, Apple, contributed 11% to the S&P 500’s jump since March even as iPhone maker’s market cap crossed $2 trillion. Reliance’s market value has nearly doubled to more than $200 billion this year as it shifted focus to digital and drew funds from Facebook, Google and others.
Multiplex owners’ worries mount
At a time when multiplex chains are staring at huge losses because of the novel coronavirus outbreak, one of Indian film industry’s biggest actors Akshay Kumar has announced the release date for his horror-comedy Laxmmi Bomb on streaming platform Disney+ Hotstar, causing further anxiety among the country’s cinema hall owners. The film, directed by Raghava Lawrence, will be streamed from 9 November, just ahead of the Diwali weekend, which, in the pre-covid world, drew large numbers of people to movie halls. Multiplex and single-screen owners have been desperately waiting for reopening permits, despite knowing that they have no content to bank on, as many films are opting for release on OTT channels. Estimates show the movie exhibition sector, which provides employment to lakhs of people, has lost an estimated ₹9,000 crore in the past six months.
Virus delays Spain’s Sagrada Familia
The long-awaited completion of one of Spain’s top tourist attractions, Sagrada Familia, will no longer happen in 2026 because the pandemic. The architectural masterpiece, which received a building permit only last year, has been under construction for nearly 140 years. Construction work came to an abrupt halt in March when the Spanish government ordered a national lockdown to slow the spread of the virus. There’s no confirmed date yet on when the work will resume since parts of Spain is facing a second wave of covid-19. Only one façade of the basilica was finished when its designer, modernist architect Antoni Gaudi, died in a trolley accident in 1926. The ornate cathedral is now 70% finished. Once complete, it will feature 18 towers, with its highest steeple reaching 564ft into the air, and dedicated to religious figures including the Virgin Mary and the four evangelists—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Curated by Shalini Umachandran and Pooja Singh. Have something to share with us? Write to us at email@example.com or tweet to @shalinimb