ART AND CULTURE
1. NEW STUDY SUGGESTS INDUS VALLEY PEOPLE SPOKE ANCESTRAL DRAVIDIAN LANGUAGE
THE CONTEXT: Using similarities between the word used in bronze-age Mesopotamia for ‘elephant’ and that used by people of the Indus Valley civilisation (IVC), a study published by the journal Nature suggests that a significant population of the IVC spoke ancestral Dravidian languages.
- Mukhopadhyay’s study analyses archaeological, linguistic, archaeo-genetic and historical evidence to claim that the words used for ‘elephant’ (‘pīri’, ‘pīru’) in bronze-age Mesopotamia and the word for ‘ivory’ (‘pîruš’) recorded in Old Persian documents dated to the sixth century BC were originally borrowed from ‘pīlu’, Proto-Dravidian for ‘elephant’.
- Since the IVC traded extensively with Mesopotamia, especially in ivory objects that were considered luxury goods, these words are “fossilised foreign words” that had their origin in languages that the IVC people spoke.
- The only other source of ivory for IVC was Egypt, whose words for the object (‘ab’, ‘abu’, ‘ȧb’, ‘beḥu’, ‘netcheḥ-t’) don’t share phonetic connections with ‘pīru’. Mukhopadhyay concludes, thus, that the ‘pīru’-based words could likely have originated in the IVC.
- While this inference suggests these words originated in the IVC, Mukhopadhyay analyses present-day words for ‘elephant’ in Indo-Aryan and Dravidian languages as well to conclude that ‘pīlu’ is Proto-Dravidian.
- In today’s Dravidian languages, too, words like ‘pīlu’, ‘pella’, ‘palla’, ‘pallava’, ‘piḷḷuvam’ and ‘pīluru’, signify elephants.
- In Sanskrit, the most popular words for ‘elephant’ are ‘hastin’/’hastī’ (referring to its trunk) or ‘dantin’ (referring to its tooth). Neither of these words, which refer to stable taxonomical features, is phonetically similar to ‘pīlu’.
- The study has also reported independent evidence of ‘pīlu’s’ connection with the meaning of ‘tooth’ in the name of the Salvadora persica tree, commonly known as the ‘toothbrush tree’. In Arabic countries, it is called ‘miswak’, meaning ‘tooth-cleaning-stick’. It has been used “since antiquity as [a] natural toothbrush.
- Speakers of several Indic languages call Salvadora persica ‘pīlu’, reinforcing the inference that ‘pīlu’ is related to the Proto-Dravidian word for ‘tooth.
Reference: The Wire
INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
2. COLLEGIUM RECOMMENDS NINE JUDGES FOR SUPREME COURT
THE CONTEXT: The Supreme Court Collegium has recommended to the government nine names for appointment as apex court judges, and in the process scripted history by naming Karnataka High Court judge B.V. Nagarathna, who may become India’s first woman CJI.
- The names include eight judges and one lawyer from the Supreme Court Bar.
- They are Karnataka High Court (HC) Chief Justice (CJ) A.S. Oka, who is the most senior Chief Justice; Gujarat Chief Justice Vikram Nath; Sikkim Chief Justice J.K. Maheshwari; Telangana Chief Justice Hima Kohli, who is also the only serving woman Chief Justice; Justice Nagarathna; Kerala High Court judge Justice C.T. Ravikumar; Madras High Court judge Justice M.M. Sundresh; Gujarat High Court judge Justice Bela M. Trivedi; and senior advocate P.S. Narasimha, in that order.
- The Collegium has for the first time, in one single resolution, recommended three women judges. It has thus sent a strong signal in favour of representation of women in the highest judiciary.
- It has also continued the recent trend to recommend direct appointments from the Supreme Court Bar to the Bench of the court.
- If the government approves the names, three of the nine – Chief Justice Nath and Justice Nagarathna and Mr. Narasimha would go on to be the CJIs.
- Mr. Narasimha, who had served as Additional Solicitor General, may become the ninth lawyer to be ever appointed directly as judge in the apex court.
- The top court currently has 10 vacancies. Judicial appointments to it have remained frozen since September 2019.
Reference: The Hindu
3. SC ALLOWS WOMEN CANDIDATES TO APPEAR FOR UPSC NDA EXAM
THE CONTEXT: The Supreme Court allowed the women candidates to take the National Defence Academy (NDA) exam scheduled for September 5. The apex court said that admissions will be subject to the final orders of the court.
- The apex court further took upon the Army for not allowing women to take part in NDA exams. On Army’s submission that it’s a policy decision, the top court said that this policy decision is based on “gender discrimination”.
- As per the current eligibility criteria, candidates (male) who have cleared class 12 level or equivalent education were only eligible to apply. They should be at least 18 years of age to be eligible to apply for the job.
- After the court’s decision, it is expected that UPSC may soon define the new eligibility criteria and guidelines for admitting women candidates through the NDA exam. Those who clear the UPSC NDA exam are called for an SSB interview. On the final selection, candidates are recruited in the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force wings of the NDA, and for the Indian Naval Academy Course (INAC) for training.
Reference: Indian express
ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE
4. RATIFICATION OF KIGALI AMENDMENT THIRD OF INDIA’S
THE CONTEXT: Cabinet approves Ratification of Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer for phase down of Hydrofluorocarbons.
- Under the Kigali Amendment; Parties to the Montreal Protocol will phase down production and consumption of Hydrofluorocarbons, commonly known as HFCs.
- Hydrofluorocarbons were introduced as non-ozone depleting alternative to Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). While HFCs do not deplete the stratospheric ozone layer, they have high global warming potential ranging from 12 to 14,000, which have adverse impact on climate.
- Recognizing the growth in use of HFCs, especially in Refrigeration and Air-conditioning sector the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, reached agreement at their 28th Meeting of the Parties (MOP) held in October 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda to add HFCs to the list of controlled substances and approved a timeline for their gradual reduction by 80-85 per cent by the late 2040s.
- India will complete its phase down of HFCs in 4 steps from 2032 onwards with cumulative reduction of 10% in 2032, 20% in 2037, 30% in 2042 and 80% in 2047.
- All amendments and adjustments of the Montreal Protocol, prior to the Kigali Amendment have Universal support.
- National strategy for phase down of Hydrofluorocarbons as per the applicable phase down schedule for India will be developed after required consultation with all the industry stakeholders by 2023.
- Amendments to the existing legislation framework, the Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Rules to allow appropriate control of the production and consumption of Hydrofluorocarbons to ensure compliance with the Kigali Amendment will be done by mid-2024
5. NATIONAL MISSION ON EDIBLE OILS – OIL PALM
THE CONTEXT: The Union Cabinet has given its approval to launch a new Mission on Oil palm to be known as the National Mission on Edible Oils – Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) as a new Centrally Sponsored Scheme with a special focus on the North east region and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- There are two major focus areas of the Scheme. The oil palm farmers produce Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFBs) from which oil is extracted by the industry. Presently the prices of these FFBs are linked to the international CPO prices fluctuations. For the first time, the Government of India will give a price assurance to the oil palm farmers for the FFBs. This will be known as the Viability Price (VP).
- This will protect the farmers from the fluctuations of the international CPO prices and protect him from the volatility. This VP shall be the annual average CPO price of the last 5 years adjusted with the wholesale price index to be multiplied by 14.3 %. This will be fixed yearly for the oil palm year from 1st November to 31st October. This assurance will inculcate confidence in the Indian oil palm farmers to go for increased area and thereby more production of palm oil.
- The second major focus of the scheme is to substantially increase the assistance of inputs/interventions. A substantial increase has been made for planting material for oil palm and this has increased from Rs 12,000 per ha to Rs.29000 per ha. Further substantial increase has been made for maintenance and inter-cropping interventions. A special assistance @ Rs 250 per plant is being given to replant old gardens for rejuvenation of old gardens.
- Further Special assistance will be provided for the North-East and the Andaman regions in which special provisions is being made for half moon terrace cultivation, bio fencing and land clearance along with integrated farming. For capital assistance to the industry, for the North East states and Andamans, a provision of Rs 5 core of 5 mt/hr unit with pro rata increase for higher capacity. This will attract the industry to these regions.
6. DISC 5.0
THE CONTEXT: Three years after the launch of Defence India Startup Challenge 1.0 (DISC), Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX), Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO), will launch DISC 5.0 in New Delhi on August 19, 2021.
- iDEX provides a platform for different stakeholders in the defence & aerospace sectors, essentially acting as an umbrella organisation to oversee technology development and potential collaborations in the specific field.
- With initiatives such as DISC and Open Challenges, iDEX is able to utilise the strong science, technology and research talent base of the country to develop new capabilities in defence innovation.
- DISC 5.0 will have more challenges than the first four DISC editions taken together.
- The launch of DISC 5.0 will be a massive leap towards leveraging the startup ecosystem to develop India’s defence technologies, equipment design and manufacturing capabilities.
- These challenges will also encourage startups to become more attuned to innovative concepts and inculcate the approach of creative thinking in India’s budding entrepreneurs.
7. G7 MEETING ON AFGHAN CRISIS
THE CONTEXT: U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on August 17, 2021, on the situation in Afghanistan and they agreed to hold a virtual G7 leaders’ meeting next week to discuss a common strategy and approach.
- The U.S. President and the British PM discuss humanitarian assistance and support for refugees.
- The United States and Western allies resumed evacuating diplomats and civilians , the day after scenes of chaos at Kabul airport as Afghans thronged the runway.
- As they rush to evacuate, foreign powers are assessing how to respond to the transformed situation on the ground after Afghan forces melted away in just days, with what many had predicted as the likely fast unravelling of women’s rights.
Reference: The Hindu
Q 1. Consider the following statements:
1. Kigali amendment is amendment done to Kyoto protocol in 2016.
2. It is about phasing out of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC).
3. HFCs are Green House Gases.
Which of the statements given above is/are incorrect?
a) 1 only
b) 1 and 2 only
c) 2 and 3 only
d) 3 only
ANSWER FOR AUGUST 18, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS (REFER RELEVANT ARTICLE)
Q.1 Answer: b)
- Statement 1 is incorrect: It is launched by RBI.
- Statement 2 is correct: The index will be released in the month of July every year.
- Statement 3 is correct: The financial inclusion will be measured in a single value ranging between 0 and 100, where 0 represents complete financial exclusion and 100 indicates full financial inclusion.
Q.2 Answer a)
- The Odisha Forest and Environment Department is set to begin ‘Island Odyssey’ and ‘Hirakud Cruise’ ecotourism packages for tourists to islands inside the reservoir whenCOVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
- ‘Cattle Island’, one of three islands in the Hirakud reservoir .It has been selected as a sight-seeing destination.
- When large numbers of people were displaced from their villages when the Hirakud dam was constructed on the Mahanadi river in 1950s, villagers could not take their cattle with them.
- They left their cattle behind in deserted villages. As the area started to submerge following the dam’s construction, the cattle moved up to Bhujapahad, an elevated place in the Jharsuguda district.
- Subsequently named ‘Cattle Island’, the piece of land is surrounded by a vast sheet of water. The cattle show wild characteristics. They are not ferocious, but shy. If a person comes near, the animals just run away.