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GS 1

Graffiti taking its toll on prehistoric rock paintings

Prehistoric

News:

  1. Archaeological survey of India has raised the concern over the defacement of Prehistoric rock painting at Pandavulagutta in JayashankarBhuplpally district of Telangana.

Important Facts:

  1. The prehistoric rock paintings resemble the most ancient Rock painting at Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh
  2.  The prehistoric rock paintings of JayashankarBhupalpally district in Telangana are prey to confessions of undying love and names is marked for posterity.
  3. Pandavulagutta is home to painted rock shelters dating to 10000 BC-8000 BC which include
  • An 8th century inscription of the Rashtrakuta period.
  • Painted frescoes from the 12th century Kakatiya Empire.
  • The Kakatiya artists have painted scenes from the Mahabharata and the elephant-headed Ganesha.
  1. Pandavulagutta, millennia-old rock paintings is facing Increasing defacement due to scraped graffiti and smeared oil paints.
  2. The concern have been raised for the state government to protect and preserve the paintings. Till date no preventive measures have been taken by any responsible agency.

GS 2

Had ‘extremely productive’ talks with Putin, says Modi

India-Russia

News:

  1. The first ever informal summit between India and Russia was held in Sochi, Russia. The informal summit is a new aspect of the bilateral ties.

Important Facts:

  1. The “Strategic Partnership” between India and Russia has evolved into “Special Privileged Strategic Partnership”.

3.Mr. Modi said friendship between India and Russia had stood the test of time, and the ties would continue to scale new heights.

  1. India and Russia are working together on International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and BRICS

5.Both countries noted the steady growth of trade turnover

  1. Both countries would discuss the impact of US sanctions against Russia under the countering America’s Adversaries through sanctions Act (CAATSA) on Indo- Russia defence cooperation.
  • The Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) is a U.S. federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia.
  • The CAATSA includes sanctions against countries that engage in significant transactions with Russia’s defence and intelligence sectors.
  1. India could face U.S. sanctions for purchasing high value military defence items, in particular state-of-the-art S-400 Triumf missile defence system, from Russia.
  2. Indian official sources confirms that India is not going to allow its defence engagement with Russia to be dictated by any other country.

On the great Asian highway

India-china

News:

  1. Syed MunirKhasru, Chairman of the international think tank, The Institute for Policy, Advocacy, and Governance, is of the opinion that better communication between India and China would benefit the whole region.

Important Facts:

  1. India and China must forge an understanding to cooperate on regional connectivity projects.
  2. Inability to communicate, cooperate and coordinate on matters of regional trade and connectivity have affected the relationship of all countries in the Asian region.This is the major roadblock to prosperity in the region.
  3. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj refused to endorse China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Foreign Ministers’ meeting.
  4. India’s stand on BRI is seen to be more of a strategic bargaining position, and not an opposition to regionalism.
  5. Consequences of poor connectivity in the region:
  • Intra-regional trade is among the lowest in South Asia.
  • South Asia, with a population of 1.8 billion, has only 5% intra regional trade.
  • Non-tariff barriers (NTBs) are high.
  • Building infrastructure can reduce the Non Tariff Barriers by 80%.
  1. Benefits of improving connectivity:
  • Increased trade,
  • Better people-to-people interaction
  • Better understanding among people
  • Increased tolerance among countries
  • Closer diplomatic relations in the region.
  1. Status of regional organisations/initiatives:
  • Most of the states are a part of regional initiatives led by India and China. These initiatives have not progressed much due to slow progress.
  • The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation(SAARC) is in a deadlock due to India-Pakistan ties hitting a low in the recent past.
  • The Bay of Bengal’s potential to enhance trade through its ports and waterways has not been utilized. It serves as a funnel to the Malacca Straits. It has now become one of the most important strategic hotspots for global trade.
  • India-led Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. BIMSTEC Energy Centre and a task force on Trans Power Exchange and Development Projects, to develop a memorandum of understanding for the establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection has been created. But overall, it is losing out on important opportunities due to its reluctance to take initiatives.
  • A portion of the Maritime Silk Route crosses the Bay of Bengal and involves Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
  •  Both China and India are pursuing regional initiatives on their own which could lead to benefit for all involved states
  1. BBIN way
  • There was a trial run of Bangladesh-Nepal bus service under the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) motor vehicles agreement. This shows that the gridlock of the region can be overcome by the ambition of smaller states to establish connectivity.
  • Bhutan did not ratify the agreement due to opposition from its parliament. So it asked the other countries to move ahead. It said that it would join in as soon as it Parliament ratifies it.This has shown that it is possible to implement plans even when all the members are not able to participate in it.
  1. If the BRI, BIMSTEC and BBIN were made complementary to each other and had established with cooperation and coordination, the projects under the schemes could have been implemented more efficiently. It would have enhanced trade and connectivity in the region and benefit all countries in the region-small and large.
  2. The ineffective and slow moving regional projects are ultimately affecting the citizens. They are deprived of well-thought-out and carefully strategized regional connectivity projects.
  3. The smaller states of the region are losing out economically as the bigger states are not able to cooperate with each other.

What’s in an election?

Election; democracy

News:

  1. SundarSarukkai, Professor of Philosophy at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru, analyses the role of elections in a democracy.

Important Analysis:

  1. The significance of democracy lies in how power is exercised by those elected to power.

3.The defining principle of democracy is the principle of One Person One Vote.

  1. Over emphasis on the principle of One Person One Vote:
  • It has reduced the idea of democracy to a ritual of casting votes.
  • The act of participation in a democracy was conceived as a dynamic and continuous process. But in a few years it has been reduced to merely an act of voting.
  • The society thus formed is fundamentally undemocratic in character.
  • The parties which speak for democracy have little democratic ethos within them.
  • Political parties are dominated by families or friends or business partners.
  • Nepotism and exclusion are the basic working principles of our political parties.
  1. Today, voting has become a business transaction where the voters are ‘compensated’ for their votes.
  2. Significance of voting:
  • Voting makes sure that those who have power are accountable in some way and that they exercise that power in a democratic manner.
  •  Elections are only a means towards the goal of controlling those who wield power, but instead they have become the end in themselves.
  1. In India, the mere exercise of voting or choosing a representative is being equated with democracy. This results in the election of people who govern undemocratically.
  2. The Principle of trusteeship:
  • It was advocated by Gandhiji and even industrialists like J.R.D Tata.
  • All of us have an equal claim to the public goods in the society we belong to.
  • Elections help us implement the principle of trusteeship.
  • Through elections we choose a person to take care of the ‘public wealth’ that belongs equally to all of us.
  • The elected representatives are merely trustees on our behalf and it is a primary duty of the trustee to make sure that they do not destroy what they are trustees of.
  • This principle of trusteeship has been completely destroyed by merely viewing democracy as an act of voting.
  1. Good governance implies that these “trustees” take decisions and implement them so as to protect the common public goods.
  2. Instead of protecting the common goods, the elected representatives take our share of the public wealth for their personal gain.
  3. Other institutions are affected due to this watered down notion of democracy:
  • Very few institutions inculcate democratic values in their functioning.
  • Private institutions have little commitment to democracy. In an overall set up where democracy is not respected, they lose their little sense of trusteeship.
  1. Political alienation happens because people are a part of the political process only for the few minutes when they cast their votes.

13.Political alienation leads to cultural alienation which in turn leads to right wing movements.

  1. In order to get rid of most of the problems plaguing India, not only choice, but even power has to be democratised.

GS 3

Kerala may seek WHO help to battle Nipah virus infection

Nipah virus

News:

  1. The kerala government is planning to seek the help from World Health Organization regarding Nipah virus infection.

Important Facts:

  1. National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has reported the Nipah virus infection incidence as the “third major outbreak in the country.”
  2. The laboratory result of all the recent death has confirmed the presence of the Nipah virus.
  3. A team of experts from All-India Institute of Medical Sciences is expected to visit the Kerala’s Kozhikode district.
  4. The Nipah virus was transmitted from animals to humans where bats acts as its carriers.
  5. Symptoms of Nipah virus infection include: Fever, Heachache, Vomiting, Dizziness, Altered Consciousness, Coma, Respiratory distress, Hallucination, Cough and Cold.
  6. Diagnosis include:
  • virus isolation and real time polymerase chain reaction test (RT-PCR) from throat and nasal swabs, cerebrospinal fluid, urine, and blood samples
  • Antibody detection by ELISA (IgG and IgM)
  1. Preventive measures
  • Wash, peel and cook fruits before eating them.
  • Hand washing at home to avoid primary infection and transmission.
  • Quarantine of those infected has been suggested as it can be highly contagious.
  1.  To completely understand the cycle of infection a detailed tests would have to be conducted in accordance with Animal Husbandry.
  2.  A similar outbreaks has reported in West Bengal which was linked to Bangladesh, where panic resulted in many people to leave there residence.

Note: Refer 21 may 9 pm News for more details.

Camera traps record rare black panther in Odisha

Rare species; environment

News:

  1. The Forest and Environment Department of Odisha have recorded the presence of black panthers in a forest in Sundargarh district.

Important Facts:

  1. Odisha has been listed as the ninth State in India where the elusive and rare big cat has been seen.
  2. The camera trap was installed in Garjanpahad Reserve Forest of Hemgir Range of Sundargarh Forest Division under the guidance of Divisional Forest Officer of Sundargarh and the Chief Wildlife Warden in December 2015.
  3. prior to this presence of Black Panther was reported 26 years ago but there no scientific or pictorial records could establish the claim of Black Panther in the state.
  4. About Black Panther:
  •  Black Panther or melanistic leopard is a color variant of the Indian leopard.
  •  Black Panther is shy as a normal leopard and very difficult to detect.
  1. Black Panther is mostly found in densely forested areas of southern India which include:
  •  Kerala (Periyar Tiger Reserve)
  •   Karnataka (Bhadra Tiger Reserve, Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve and Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary)
  • Chhattisgarh (Achanakmar Tiger Reserve)
  • Maharashtra (Satara)
  •  Goa (Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary)
  • Tamil Nadu (Mudumalai Tiger Reserve)
  • Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

Miles to go

Bankruptcy code

News:

  1. The new Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) witnessed a major success when Tata Steel acquired 73% stake in the bankrupt firm Bhushan Steel.

Important facts:

  1. The proceeds from the acquisition will go towards settling almost two-thirds of the total outstanding liabilities that Bhushan Steel owes banks.
  2. In future, if banks recover funds of such considerable scale, then:
  3. It would considerably reduce the burden on taxpayers and
  4. It would free valuable assets to be used for wealth-creation.
  5. The challenges which remains for the bankruptcy resolution process are:
  6. The proposed eligibility criteria for bidders,
  7. Restriction of capacity in helping out creditors efficiently, and
  8. Strict time limit for the resolution process.
  9. The possible measures to be taken are:
  10. A robust market for stressed assets that is free from all kinds of entry barriers is requird,
  11. Recommendation of the Insolvency Law Committee for a relaxed bidder eligibility criteria should be implemented, and
  12. Amendments to the bankruptcy code should primarily be driven by the goal of maximising the sale price of stressed assets.

The Meghalaya example

Social audit

Article:

  1. The authors, Sampath Kumar, Commissioner and Secretary, Government of Meghalaya and RakshitaSwamy describes about the importance of social audits, which acts as a strong tool for community participation and grievance redress.

Analysis:

  1. Background:
  2. In April, 2017, Meghalaya became the first State India to pass social audit legislation.
  3. The legislation is known as the Meghalaya Community Participation and Public Services Social Audit Act.
  4. Later, the Meghalaya government decided to pilot social audits in a campaign mode.
  5. Eighteeen villages representing Garo, Khasi and Jaintia Hills were selected for the pilot.
  6. The purpose of social audits are:
  7. Citizen participation in the planning, implementation and monitoring of programmes;
  8. Detecting beneficiaries who were eligible, but had been left out;
  9. Sharing information about schemes, and enhancing awareness amongst people about their entitlements;
  10. Recording people’s testimonies;
  11. Identifying priorities for inputs for planning;
  12. registering of grievances;
  13. Identifying systemic shortcomings; and
  14. Recording financial and procedural irregularities and deviations between fact and record.
  15. Audits helped identify and bring about evidence-based policy changes.
  16. In India, there is a growing acknowledgement of social audits as a credible means of institutionalising citizen oversight. There is an urgent need to come up with a working protocol for facilitating social audits across a range of interventions.
  17. The Meghalaya pilots would have help to formulate a practical framework through which that can be done.
  18. Civil society needs to shape the social audit campaign, be a watchdog, and staunchly protect the independence of the process. Social audits must become part of the demand for effective legislation for the whole country.

Wages for looking

NookuKooli; labour union

News:
1. The Kerala government has banded the practice of “NokkuKooli” from May 2018.

Important Facts
2. Nokkukooli is a practice in Kerala of extorting money from employers, shopkeepers or households by loading-and-unloading workers.

  1. It is done by an organisedlabour unions in kerala under which wages have to be paid to workers for loading works done by other workers or machines.

4.This happens with the tacit support of political parties including those in government.

  1. Impact of NokkuKooli
  • NokkuKooki has resulted in the industrial backwardness of Kerala.
  • The trade union have use this practice extensively to suppress the local people.
  1. The Kerala government has banned the practice beginning from May 1, 2018. Government is planning to make NokkuKooli a non-bailable offence.

China launches relay satellite to explore far side of moon

Space science

News:

  1. China has launched a relay satellite named Queqiao or “Magpie Bridge” to explore the far side of the moon.

Important Facts:

  1. The satellite will facilitate communication between controllers on earth and the Chang’e 4 mission.
  2. Far side or the dark side faces away from the earth and is comparatively unknown.
  3. Queqiao is expected to arrive shortly at the Earth-moon Lagrange point 2. It is  a gravitationally stable spot located 64,000 km beyond the far side of the moon.
  4. Building multiple adjustments to its orbit will pose a challenges to China satellite program..
  5.  China Achievements:
  • China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003,the third country to do so after Russia and the U.S.
  • Previously landed  Jade Rabbit rover on the moon.
  1. Upcoming Missions:
  • Land its Chang’e 5 probe on moon in 2019
  • launch of the 20-ton core module in still orbiting Tiangong 2 station.
  • Mars rover planned for mid 2020s.
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