UPSC IAS Prelims 2022 Material | Art and Culture Current Affairs – Literature and Other important aspects – Part 2

Dear Friends,

This post is a part of our current affairs series for the UPSC IAS Prelims 2022. In this post, we have covered Art, architecture, and Culture in the news of the Literature and Other important aspects section. This post covers current affairs from Dec. 2021 to 15th March 2022. In the 2nd part, we will cover the rest of the current affairs from July 2021 to 31st April 2022.

Art and Culture in news 2021-22

Literature and Other important aspects

To Read Other Current Affairs Compilations for UPSC Prelims 2022– Click here

Thamirabarani civilization 

News

A study has revealed that the Thamirabarani civilization in Tamil Nadu is at least 3,200 years old.

About the study on Thamirabarani civilization

The study was carried out by the US-based Beta Analytic Testing Laboratory.

The laboratory has conducted the carbon dating analysis of rice with soil found in a burial urn in Sivakalai in southern Tamil Nadu during an archaeological excavation.

The analysis has revealed that the Porunai river [Thamirabarani] civilization belongs to 1155 BCE which is 3,200 years ago.

Encouraged by this finding, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has announced the establishment of the Porunai Museum in Tirunelveli at a cost of ₹15 crores.

Future Excavations to find Tamil Roots

The Tamil Nadu government will now conduct archaeological excavations in neighbouring states and countries in search of Tamil roots.

In the first phase, studies would be undertaken at the ancient port of Musiri now known as Pattanam, in Kerala. Similar studies would also be conducted at Vengi in Andhra Pradesh and Palur in Odisha.

Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department would also conduct research at Quseir al-Qadim and Pernica Anekke in Egypt as well as in Khor Rori in Oman to establish the Tamils trade relations with these countries.

Note: Pot shreds with Tamil scripts have been found in these countries.

Moreover, studies would also be conducted in southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam where king Rajendra Chola had established supremacy.


Choppu Samaan

News

Recently, a Welfare Association of wooden toymakers named Ambasamudram Bharani Mara Varna Kadasal Artisans has applied for the Geographical Indications tag for  Choppu Samaan.

About Choppu Samaan

It is a traditional toy for kids. It is a kitchen set that is made up of fine wood with polished edges. Furthermore, it is painted with harmless natural colours, so it is safe for children. Originally, artists used teak and rosewood, but now there is more use of eucalyptus and rubberwood.

Making of toy

The wood is seasoned by the method of air drying. It is then cut into smaller cylinders to fit onto a lathe (machine for shaping wood). The toys are shaped on that lathe with standard carpentry tools. After manufacturing, the products are either lacquered on a wooden lathe or simply painted with colours. Lacquer is prepared by mixing lac with pigments. Screw-pine leaves are used to polish the finished toys. These are also known as Kadasal toys.


Shankhalipi Script

News

Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) discovered remains of an ancient temple dating back to the Gupta period (5th century) in Bilsarh village in Uttar Pradesh’s Etah district.

Note: The Bilsarh site was declared as a ‘protected’ site in 1928. Every year, the ASI undertakes scrubbing work at the protected sites.

About the discovery of ASI

ASI has discovered two decorative pillars of an ancient temple dating back to the Gupta period (5th century).

The stairs of the temple had ‘shankhalipi’ inscriptions. The inscription possibly reads Mahendraditya which was the title of king Kumaragupta I.

This discovery becomes significant since only two other structural temples from the Gupta age have been found so far — Dashavatara Temple (Deogarh) and Bhitargaon Temple (Kanpur Dehat).

About ​​Shankhalipi Script
Shankhalipi Script
Source: Indian Express

Shankhalipi Script is also called a “shell-script”. It is found in inscriptions across north-central India and dates back to between the 4th and 8th centuries.

It was discovered in 1836 on a brass trident in Uttarakhand’s Barahat by English scholar James Prinsep.

Moreover, the script is found to be similar to the Brahmi Script as both are stylised scripts used primarily for names and signatures.

The inscriptions consist of a small number of characters, suggesting that the shell inscriptions are names or auspicious symbols or a combination of the two.

Prominent sites with shell inscriptions include the Mundeshwari Temple in Bihar, the Udayagiri Caves in Madhya PradeshMansar in Maharashtra and some of the cave sites of Gujarat and Maharashtra. In fact, shell inscriptions are also reported in Indonesia’s Java and Borneo.


Bucher Papers

News

The Central Information Commission(CIC) has observed in an order that the disclosure of Bucher papers is in the National Interest.

However, the commission stopped short of ordering the disclosure of the documents, which are withheld under the directions of the External Affairs Ministry.

About Bucher Papers

Bucher Papers are related to the period of 1947-49 and may throw light on the Accession of Jammu and Kashmir(J&K).

The papers are named after General Sir Francis Robert Roy Bucher, who served as the second chief of the Indian Army between January 1, 1948, to January 15, 1949.

These papers were compiled by General Bucher and given to the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library(NMML).

However, NMML has kept these documents closed from public scrutiny even after 70 years on the instructions of the External Affairs Ministry.

About Nehru Memorial Museum & Library (NMML)

NMML is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. It was established in 1964 in the memory of the First Prime Minister (PM) of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (1889 – 1964).

The museum is dedicated to the objective of promoting advanced research on Modern and Contemporary India.

The museum has four major constituents, namely, a Memorial Museum, a library on modern India, a Centre for Contemporary Studies and the Nehru Planetarium.


Abhidhamma Day

News

The Prime Minister will visit Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh to inaugurate an international airport and attend an event marking Abhidhamma Day at Mahaparinirvana Temple.

About Abhidhamma Day

Abhidhamma Day marks the end of a three-month rainy retreat – Varshavaas or Vassa – for the Buddhist monks and nuns, during which time they stay at one place and pray.

The story behind Abhidhamma Day

According to widely held belief, this is the day when Lord Buddha came back to earth from heaven.

​​He is believed to have gone to heaven to teach Abhidhamma Pitaka (a basket of ultimate things) to his mother. The teaching took three months after which Buddha came back to Earth.

Hence, his followers too mark the three-month time by staying in one place and praying.

The speciality of the event in Kushinagar

During the event,  Sri Lanka will present to India two murals painted by renowned Sri Lankan artist Solias Mendis at the Kelaniya Rajamaha Vihara, a popular Buddhist temple near Colombo.

One of the murals depicts ‘Arahat Bhikkhu’ which depicts Mahinda, son of Emperor Ashoka delivering the message of the Buddha to King Devanampiyatissa of Sri Lanka.

The other shows the arrival of ‘Theri Bhikkhuni’ Sanghamitta, the daughter of the Emperor, in Sri Lanka, bearing a sapling of the ‘sacred Bodhi tree’ under which Siddhārtha Gautama is believed to have attained enlightenment.

According to the Culture Ministry, the highlight of the event is the exposition of the Holy Buddha Relic being brought from Waskaduwa Sri Subuddhi Rajvihara Temple in Sri Lanka by the Mahanayaka of the temple.

These relics are accepted as real relics (bone fragments, ashes, pieces of Jewels) of the Buddha.

These relics were found in Piprahwa, Siddharthnagar district of Uttar Pradesh, about 160 km from Kushinagar, in 1898. A part of the relics was sent to the King of Thailand and another part was sent to the King of Burma.

The historical significance of Kushinagar

Kushinagar is an International Buddhist Pilgrimage Centre where Buddhists believe Gautama Buddha delivered his last sermon and attained ‘Mahaparinirvana’ or salvation.

Kushinagar is also identified with Kushinara, capital of the ancient Malla republic which was one of the 16 Mahajanapadas of the 6th-4th centuries BC.

The area went on to be part of the kingdoms of the Mauryas, Shungas, Kushanas, Guptas, Harshavardhana, and the Palas. Kushinara is believed to have been inhabited until at least the 12th century.

The first excavations in Kushinagar were carried out by Alexander Cunningham and ACL Carlleyle who unearthed the main stupa and the 6-metre-long statue of the Reclining Buddha in 1876.

The other significance of Kushinagar

Kushinagar is also the centre of the Buddhist circuit which consists of pilgrimage sites at Lumbini, Sarnath and Gaya. Further, Kushinagar is also among the very few places in India where The Buddha is depicted in reclining form.

The prime tourist attractions in Kushinagar include the ancient Mahaparinirvana Temple- one of the most sacred shrines for Buddhists, Rambhar Stupa, Kushinagar Museum, Sun Temple, Nirvana Stupa, Matha Kuar Shrine, Wat Thai Temple, Chinese Temple, Japanese Temple.

Hence, the airport is expected to help in attracting more followers of Buddhism from home and abroad to Kushinagar.


Bhaskarabda and other different types of Calendars in India

News

Assam Government has announced that Bhaskarabda, a Luni-Solar Calendar, will be used as an official calendar.

Note: Currently, the official calendar of the Assam government is the Saka calendar and the Gregorian calendar. However, the Bhaskarabda calendar will also be used from now onwards.

About the Bhaskarabda Calendar

Bhaskarabda Calendar is an era counted from the date of the ascension of a 7th-century local ruler, Bhaskar Varman to the throne of Kamrupa kingdom.

The calendar uses a lunisolar system, which is based on both the phases of the moon and the solar year. The gap between Bhaskarabda and Gregorian is 593 years.

Note: Bhaskar Varman was a contemporary and political ally of northern Indian ruler Harshavardhana.

Different types of Calendars in India

Gregorian Calendar: Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most of the world. It was introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII as a minor modification of the Julian calendar. The calendar is based on the solar cycle.

Saka Calendar: Kushana king Kanishka is believed to have created a calendar that came to be known as the Saka Calendar. It is based on the lunisolar system. It was adopted as the National Calendar of India in 1957 after recommendation by a committee headed by eminent scientist Meghnad Saha.

Note: In the lunisolar calendar, months are lunar, but years are solar.

Hijri Calendar: Hijri calendar is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days. It is used to determine the proper days of Islamic holidays and rituals, such as the annual period of fasting and the proper time for the Hajj.

Vikram Samvat Calendar: It is the historical Hindu calendar used in the Indian subcontinent. It is the official calendar of Nepal. In India, it is used in several states. The calendar uses lunar months and solar sidereal years. King Vikramaditya of Ujjain established the Vikrama Samvat era after defeating the Śakas.


Bamiyan Buddhas

News

The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has said it would protect the ancient Buddha statues in Mes Aynak. This is the site of a copper mine where the Taliban are hoping for Chinese investment.

This Taliban’s position is in marked contrast to the time they ruled Afghanistan earlier. Earlier, they brought down the Bamiyan Buddhas statues using artillery, explosives, and rockets.

About the Bamiyan Buddhas

The Bamiyan Buddha Statues were situated in the Hindu Kush mountains, in the central highlands of Afghanistan.

They were great examples of a confluence of Gupta, Sassanian and Hellenistic artistic styles.

They are said to date back to the 5th century AD and were once the tallest standing Buddhas in the world.

They were called Salsal and Shamama by locals. Salsal means “the light shines through the universe”; Shamama is “Queen Mother”.

Previous Taliban ruling and Bamiyan Statues

In 2001, the Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas statues. Following the fall, UNESCO included the remains in its list of world heritage sites in 2003, with subsequent efforts made to restore and reconstruct them.

Significance of Bamiyan

Bamiyan is situated in the high mountains of the Hindu Kush in the central highlands of Afghanistan.

The valley, which is set along the line of the Bamiyan River, was once integral to the early days of the Silk Roads, providing passage for not just merchants but also culture, religion and language.

When the Kushana Empire spread, Bamiyan became a major trade, cultural and religious centre.

As China, India and Rome sought passage through Bamiyan, the Kushans were able to develop a syncretic culture.

Moreover, during the rapid spread of Buddhism between the 1st to 5th centuries AD, Bamiyan’s landscape reflected the faith, especially its monastic qualities.


Geo-heritage Sites in India

News

The Geological Survey of India(GSI) has identified two geological heritage sites in the Indian Himalayan Region of India.

About the two sites identified by GSI

The two sites identified by GSI in the Himalayan Region are:

Siwalik Fossil Park

Location: Himachal Pradesh

Description of the Site: The Siwalik Fossil park displays a rich collection of vertebrate fossils recovered from the Siwalik rocks of the area of the Plio-Pleistocene age.

– The deposition of Siwalik sediments took place in the narrow linear depression, called the ‘fore deep‘, which started developing in front of the Himalayas since the inception of its uplift in the middle Miocene.

Stromatolite bearing Dolomite / Limestone of Buxa Formation

Location: Sikkim

Description of the Site: The Geoheritage site at Mamley exposes litho units of Buxa Formation, Daling Group of Proterozoic age. The dolostones are profusely stromatolitic (Precambrian algal structures). This site provides one of the rare examples of early life in Sikkim Himalaya.

About Geo-heritage Sites

Geo-heritage refers to the geological features which are inherently or culturally significant offering insight to earth’s evolution or history to earth science or that can be utilized for education.

The Geological Survey of India (GSI) declares geo-heritage sites/ national geological monuments for protection and maintenance.

Geo-heritage Sites in India
          State

Geological heritage site/National geological monument

ANDHRA PRADESHVolcanogenic bedded Barytes, Mangampeta

Eparchaean Unconformity

Natural Geological Arch, Tirumala Hills,

Erra Matti Dibbalu- the dissected and stabilized coastal red sediment mounds located between Vishakhapatnam and Bhimunipatnam.

 KERALALaterite near Angadipuram PWD rest house premises

Varkala Cliff Section

TAMILNADUFossil wood near Tiruvakkarai

National fossil wood park

Charnockite, St. Thomas Mount

Badlands of Karai Formation with Cretaceous fossils along Karai – Kulakkalnattam Section

GUJARATSedimentary Structures – Eddy Markings, Kadan Dam 
RAJASTHANSendra Granite

Barr Conglomerate

Stromatolite Fossil Park.

Gossan in Rajpura-Dariba Mineralised belt, Udaipur Dist.

Stromatolite Park

Kishangarh Nepheline Syenite, Ajmer Dist

Akal Fossil Wood Park

Welded Tuff

Jodhpur Group – Malani Igneous Suite Contact

Great Boundary Fault at Satur

        MAHARASHTRALonar Lake
CHATTISGARHLower Permian Marine bed at Manendragarh
KARNATAKAColumnar Lava, St Mary Island

Pillow lavas near Mardihalli

Peninsular Gneiss, Lalbagh

Pyroclastics & Pillow lavas, Kolar Gold fields

HIMACHAL PRADESHSiwalik Fossil Park, Saketi
ODISHAPillow Lava in lron ore belt at Nomira
JHARKHANDPlant Fossil bearing Intertrappean beds of Rajmahal Formation, upper Gondwana sequence
NAGALANDNagahill Ophiolite Site
SIKKIMStromatolite bearing Dolomite / Limestone of Buxa Formation

Darlong Community

News

Lok Sabha has passed the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2022. The bill sought to include the Darlong community as a subtribe of the Kuki tribal community in the list of Scheduled Tribes(STs).

About Darlong Community

Darlong is a tribal community of Tripura, which has a population of 11,000. They are considered as a generic tribe under the Kuki community.

Traditionally, the Darlongs adopted Jhum cultivation/shifting cultivators. Today, most of them have taken up agroforestry and horticultural plantation or orchard development as their main livelihoods.

The community has a high prevalence of education and cultural activities, and members of the community serve in senior positions in the local administration.

For instance, a tribal musicologist and Rosem (a tribal instrument) maestro Thanga Darlong was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri a few years ago for his contributions to culture.

Tribal Population in Tripura

Tripura has 20 tribal communities. Most of these tribes live in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council, formed in 1982.

The tribal council covers nearly 70% of the total area of Tripura and houses roughly 30% of the state’s population.

A large majority of them still depend on slash and burn cultivation and traditional livelihood for sustenance.


Hatti Community

News

The Union Home Minister has assured the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh that the Centre would consider the request for inclusion of the Hatti community in the list of Scheduled Tribes.

About the Hatti Community

The Hatti community is largely concentrated in the Trans-Giri area of the Sirmaur district in Himachal Pradesh.

The community is named after their age-old professional practice of selling their homegrown crops at small markets called ‘Haat’ in nearby cities.

The Hattis is governed by a traditional council called Khumbli, which like the khaps of Haryana decides community matters. The Khumbli’s power has remained unchallenged despite the establishment of the Panchayati Raj system.

Reason for Scheduled Tribe(ST) Status demand by Hatti Community

Hatti community of Himachal Pradesh share social as well as cultural similarities with the Jaunsar community of the Jaunsar-Bawar area of Uttarakhand.

This is because the Trans-Giri area and Jaunsar Bawar area, were part of the erstwhile Sirmaur princely state.

Incidentally, those who crossed over to the Jaunsar Bawar area which is now in Uttarakhand have enjoyed tribal status since 1967. However, the Hatti community of the Himachal weren’t accorded the ST status.

Hence, they are demanding that they should also be granted the Scheduled Tribe(ST) status.


National Virtual Library of India(NVLI)

News

The government has implemented the National Virtual Library of India(NVLI) project through the Indian Culture Portal.

Currently, the Indian Culture Portal has a total of about 2.98 lakh digital artifacts with metadata and more than 34 lakh bibliographic entries.

About the National Virtual Library of India(NVLI)

Launched by: Ministry of Culture in collaboration with IIT Bombay, Mumbai.

Aim: To provide a platform for the digital preservation of diverse cultural artifacts, and to create awareness and a sense of collective ownership among citizens about their shared heritage.

The platform hosts data of cultural relevance from various repositories and institutions all over India.

As part of the NVLI project, IIT-B has developed the Indian Culture Portal. It is a one-stop source portal for information related to history, heritage, and culture.

Salient Features of the Portal

– Inclusive Digital Platform: The portal provides access to multiple cultural resources such as the national and state archives, libraries and district gazetteers which will cater to all sections of the society.

– Free Access and Bilingual Digital Platform: Free access to archival resources and documents.The portal is also bilingual and is available in both English and Hindi language.

– Accessible by the Visually Impaired: The portal has specific features and functionalities that allow the visually impaired to read and access the portal without difficulty.

– Digital Flipbook for Rare Books and E-books: This exclusive feature is available for all books on the portal. Rare Books on the portal are also downloadable

– QR Code Sharing: Data on the portal can be easily shared using unique QR codes. Once scanned, the desired page can be easily accessed on phones and other devices.


Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya

News

The Prime Minister has inaugurated Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya in New Delhi.

About Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya

Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya is a museum dedicated to all the prime ministers of the country since independence.

Located at: Delhi’s Teen Murti Complex.

Logo: The logo of the museum shows hands holding the dharma chakra, symbolizing the nation and democracy.

Nodal agency for the project: Nehru Memorial Museum and Library(NMML).

The museum integrated the erstwhile Nehru museum into this new building.

Key Features of the museum

The museum building integrates the Teen Murti Bhawan in New Delhi designated as Block I, with the newly-constructed Block II. It also includes the erstwhile Nehru Museum.

The museum will have displays that showcase stories of how the respective Prime Ministers steered the nation.

Personal items, gifts and memorabilia like medals, commemorative stamps, and speeches of the PM will also be on display.

The museum will also use holograms, virtual reality, augmented reality, multi-touch, multimedia, smartphone applications, interactive screens, and experiential installations to make the exhibition content interactive.

Significance of the museum

The museum will become a source of inspiration for the youth, who will be able to witness the hardships each PM faced and how they overcame them to lay the foundations of a new India. The museum will also reflect the shared heritage of each government.

Key contributions of various Former Prime Ministers that the museum displays

The museum has galleries dedicated to Former Prime Ministers. For instance:

The Shastri gallery highlights his role in the Green Revolution and the Indo-Pak war of 1965.

The Indira gallery highlights India’s role in the liberation of Bangladesh and the nationalization of banks.

The Vajpayee gallery celebrates him as a great parliamentarian and orator and highlights India’s victory in the Kargil War and the Pokhran nuclear tests.

The economic reforms of the early 1990s and the civil nuclear deal with the US are highlighted among Manmohan Singh’s contributions.


Kodavas

News

Researchers have published a book titled “A Place Apart: Poems From Kodagu”. It is a bilingual edition of 21 poems by Appanna. This book will help spread awareness about the endangered Kodava takke language.

About Kodavas

Kodavas are an ethnolinguistic group from the region of Kodagu (Coorg) in Karnataka. They speak the Kodava language. They are traditionally land-owning agriculturists and patrilineal, with martial customs.

Kodavas worship ancestors and weapons. They are the only ones in India permitted to carry firearms without a license.

Festivals: 1) Kailpoldu (Festival of Arms), 2) Kaveri Sankramana (worship of river Kaveri), and 3) Puttari (Harvest festival).

Kodava Takke Language

Kodava takke belongs to the Dravidian group of languages. This language doesn’t have a script. But over the years, it has found its way into a written form through Kannada.

The language has been classified as an Endangered Language by UNESCO as it is spoken by just 166,187 people according to the 2001 census.

About the endangered Kodava Takke language

Several factors have contributed to the Kodava language becoming endangered.  For instance, with the coming of the Haleri dynasty, Kannada became the language of communication, the language of the court and state. The language took a further back seat when the British introduced Kannada as the medium of education.


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