ART AND CULTURE
US HANDS OVER 157 ANTIQUES TO INDIA
THE CONTEXT: As many as 157 artefacts and antiquities were handed over by the United States during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the country.
- The list has a diverse set of items — a 1.5-metre bas-relief panel of Revanta in sandstone made in the 10th century, an 8.5 cm tall bronze Nataraj figure from the 12th century, 56 terracotta pieces, several bronze figurines and copper objects, among others.
- The items, which were stolen or smuggled out of India over a period of time, mostly belong to the period between the 11th and 14th centuries. The returned antiquities include an 18th-century sword in its sheath, with the inscription mentioning Guru Hargobind Singh in Persian.
- There are several historic antiquities as well, including a copper anthropomorphic object from 2000 BC and a terracotta vase from the 2nd century.
- While 71 artefacts are cultural, the others comprise figurines relating to Hinduism (60), Buddhism (16) and Jainism (9).
- Their make spreads across metal, stone and terracotta.
- One of the works is a paper painting depicting Rasikapriya by an anonymous painter, possibly influenced by the famed works of Rasikapriya composed by 16th-century poet Keshava Das. T
- During the meeting between Modi and US President Joe Biden, the two leaders also committed to strengthening efforts to combat theft, illicit trade and trafficking of cultural objects.
INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
SAUBHAGYA COMPLETES FOUR YEARS
THE CONTEXT: Saubhagya completes four years of successful implementation 2.82 crore households have been electrified since the launch of Saubhagya.
- SAUBHAGYA is one of the largest household electrification drives in the world. SAUBHAGYA was announced by the Prime Minister on 25th September 2017.
- The objective of the scheme was to achieve Universal Household Electrification in the country, through last-mile connectivity and providing access to electricity to all un-electrified households in rural areas and poor households in urban areas.
- The journey started with Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) which envisaged the creation of basic electricity infrastructure in villages. The focus of the scheme was on strengthening & augmentation the existing infrastructure and metering of existing feeders/distribution transformers to improve the quality and reliability of power supply in rural areas.
- While the set objectives of the scheme have been achieved, team SAUBHAGYA has continued its work of providing 24×7 quality power supply to all. All states have been requested to launch special campaigns in their respective states to identify any left out un-electrified households and subsequently provide electricity connections to them. A dedicated toll-free helpline has also been launched for that purpose.
ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE
THE CONTEXT: The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that Cyclone Gulab has weakened into a deep depression and moved westwards with a speed of 6 kmph during last the last few hours. Odisha evacuated about 40,000 people in six southern districts ahead of the storm.
NAMING OF TROPICAL CYCLONES IN NORTH INDIAN OCEAN
- Cyclone Gulab was named by Pakistan.
- In 2000, a group of nations called WMO/ESCAP (World Meteorological Organisation/United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific), which comprised Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand, decided to start naming cyclones in the region.
- After each country sent in suggestions, the WMO/ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones (PTC) finalised the list.
- The WMO/ESCAP expanded to include five more countries in 2018 – Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
- The list of 169 cyclone names released by IMD, in April 2020, were provided by these countries – 13 suggestions from each of the 13 countries
DELHI METRO EARNED 19.5 CRORE RUPEES FROM THE SALE OF CARBON CREDITS
THE CONTEXT: The Delhi Metro said it has earned Rs19.5 crores from sale of 3.55 million carbon credits collected over a period of six years from 2012 to 2018, in its bid towards gaining greater energy eﬃciency.
- In 2007, Delhi Metro became the ﬁrst Metro or Railway project in the world to be registered by the United Nations under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which enabled it to claim carbon credits for its Regenerative Braking Project
About Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
- The CDM is a project-based Green House Gas (GHG) oﬀset mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol allowing the public and private sector in high-income nations the opportunity to purchase carbon credits from greenhouse gas emissions-reducing projects in low or middle-income nations as part of their eﬀorts to meet international emissions targets under the Kyoto protocol.
- CDM projects generate emissions credits called Certiﬁed Emission Reductions (CERs), which are then bought and traded.
- One CER is equal to one ton of CO2(eq) emission reduced.
COIR INDUSTRY IN INDIA
THE CONTEXT: Coir industry was concentrated in the State of Kerala, which has now been proliferated to other parts of the country also, with the efforts taken by the Board.
ABOUT COIR BOARD
- Coir Board was set up under the Coir Industry Act, 1953 by the Government of India for the overall sustainable development of coir industry in the Country.
- The functions of the Board as laid down under the Act include undertaking, assisting and encouraging scientific, technological and economic research, modernization, quality improvement, human resource development, market promotion and welfare of all those who are engaged in this industry.
- The Head Quarters of the Board is located at Coir House, M.G. Road, Kochi, Kerala and is running 48 establishments including 29 marketing outlets across the country.
- The functions mandated under the Coir Industry Act are carried out by Coir Board under the various Schemes/Programmes, including research and development activities, training programmes, extending financial support for setting up of coir units, domestic as well as export market development, welfare measures to the workers etc.
COIR INDUSTRY IN INDIA
- The coir industry sustains more than 7 lakhs of coir workers, predominantly women, in different states of the country.
- It is estimated that around 80% of the workforce in the industry are women and it plays a vital role in rural women empowerment of many coastal districts of the country.
- There are 1570 registered coir exporters in the country.
- The export of Coir and Coir products from India during the year 2020-21 registered an all-time high record of Rs.3778.98 crores with an increase of over Rs.1021 crores from the previous year.
- Under PMEGP(Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme), Coir Units have been started in different states of the country
- Coir Products are eco-friendly in nature and gained “Eco Mark” certification by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt. Of India.
- Coir products save the environment and help to reverse Global Warming.
- “Coir pith” used to save water
- “Coir Geotextiles” used to save soil
- “Coir Wood” used to save trees and forest
- The Board’s Research Institutes are undertaking new R&D projects in coir with various CSIR units and Universities, in the field of spinning and product diversification.
PM MODI’S ADDRESS AT UNGA
THE CONTEXT: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 25 with a powerful speech. During his address, PM Modi highlighted India’s progress and innovation in science, technology, healthcare, as well as the situation in Afghanistan, at the global stage.
MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS FROM MODI’S SPEECH AT UNGA
- COVID-19: PM Modi began his speech by giving tribute to those who lost their lives due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). PM Modi mentioned that India has developed the world’s first DNA vaccine for Covid which can be administered to everyone above the age of 12. He also asked the Covid vaccine makers to come and invest in India and stated that India understands the responsibility of exporting vaccines. Modi also said that Indian scientists are also developing a nasal vaccine for Covid-19.
- Terrorism: PM Modi said that the dangers of “regressive” thinking and extremism are increasing in the world. In a veiled warning to Pakistan, he said the current delicate situation of Afghanistan, saying that the world has to ensure that Afghanistan isn’t used to “spread terrorism or launch terror attacks”.
- Democracy: PM Modi hailed the strength of India’s diverse and vibrant democracy during his address. India is a great example of a vibrant democracy. Our democracy is recognised for its diversity. Democracy has been India’s great tradition for thousands of years.
- Science and Tech: PM Modi hailed India’s scalable and “cost-effective” tech solutions. The science and technology-based innovations taking place in India can make a big contribution to the world. The scalability of our tech solutions and their cost-effectiveness are both unparalleled. Over 3.5 billion transactions are taking place every month in India through the unified payment interface (UPI.
- Climate: PM Modi said that India is ensuring a balance between economy and ecology, and the world can take pride in India’s efforts to combat climate change.
- Clean water: PM Modi reiterated that India has embarked on a journey to provide clean and potable water. In India, we are carrying out a very big campaign to ensure that piped, clean water reaches over 170 million homes.
- Healthcare: By giving over 500 million people the facility of free treatment in hospitals, India has given them access to quality health services. By building 30 million proper homes, India has made homeless families homeowners.
- Maritime security: PM Modi said that the world must protect the oceans from the race for “expansion and exclusion” as he urged the international community to speak in one voice to strengthen the rules-based world order.
- Banking: During the last seven years, India has brought over 430 million people who were previously unbanked into the banking system. Today, over 360 million people, who earlier could not even imagine this was possible, have insurance coverage as security.
- Indians in the world: Modi said that every sixth person in the world is Indian and when Indians make progress, it also gives an impetus to the development of the world. When India grows, the world grows. When India reforms, the world transforms.
QUAD LEADERS’ SUMMIT
THE CONTEXT: On September 24, President Biden hosted Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan at the White House for the first-ever in-person Leaders’ Summit of the Quad.
- The leaders have put forth ambitious initiatives that deepen our ties and advance practical cooperation on 21st-century challenges: ending the COVID-19 pandemic, including by increasing production and access to safe and effective vaccines; promoting high-standards infrastructure; combatting the climate crisis; partnering on emerging technologies, space, and cybersecurity; and cultivating next-generation talent in all of our countries.
- The Quad will help Vaccinate the World: As Quad countries, we have pledged to donate more than 1.2 billion vaccine doses globally, in addition to the doses we have financed through COVAX
- The Quad will launch the Quad Infrastructure Coordination Group: Building on existing leadership from Quad partners on high-standards infrastructure, a senior Quad infrastructure coordination group will meet regularly to share assessments of regional infrastructure needs and coordinate respective approaches to deliver transparent, high-standards infrastructure.
- The Quad will Form a Green-Shipping Network: Quad countries represent major maritime shipping hubs with some of the largest ports in the world. As a result, Quad countries are uniquely situated to deploy green-port infrastructure and clean-bunkering fuels at scale.
- Establish a Clean-Hydrogen Partnership: The Quad will announce a clean-hydrogen partnership to strengthen and reduce costs across all elements of the clean-hydrogen value chain, leveraging existing bilateral and multilateral hydrogen initiatives in other fora.
- The Quad countries will convene a Climate & Information Services Task Force and build a new technical facility through the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure that will provide technical assistance in small island developing states.
- The Quad will launch the Quad Fellowship: The Fellowship will sponsor 100 students per year—25 from each Quad country—to pursue masters and doctoral degrees at leading STEM graduate universities in the United States.
- The Quad will publish a Quad Statement of Principles: After months of collaboration, the Quad will launch a statement of principles on technology design, development, governance, and use that we hope will guide not only the region but the world towards responsible, open, high-standards innovation.
- Establish Technical Standards Contact Groups: The Quad will establish contact groups on Advanced Communications and Artificial Intelligence focusing on standards-development activities as well as foundational pre-standardization research.
- Launch a Semiconductor Supply Chain Initiative: Quad partners will launch a joint initiative to map capacity, identify vulnerabilities, and bolster supply-chain security for semiconductors and their vital components. This initiative will help ensure Quad partners support a diverse and competitive market that produces the secure critical technologies essential for digital economies globally.
- Support 5G Deployment and Diversification: To support the critical role of Quad governments in fostering and promoting a diverse, resilient, and secure telecommunications ecosystem, the Quad has launched a Track 1.5 industry dialogue on Open RAN deployment and adoption, coordinated by the Open RAN Policy Coalition. Quad partners will jointly facilitate enabling environments for 5G diversification, including efforts related to testing and test facilities.
- Monitor Biotechnology Scanning: The Quad will monitor trends in critical and emerging technologies, starting with advanced biotechnologies, including synthetic biology, genome sequencing, and biomanufacturing. In the process, we will identify related opportunities for cooperation.
- The Quad will launch a Quad Senior Cyber Group: Leader-level experts will meet regularly to advance work between government and industry on driving continuous improvements in areas including adoption and implementation of shared cyber standards; development of secure software; building workforce and talent; and promoting the scalability and cybersecurity of secure and trustworthy digital infrastructure.
- The Quad will share Satellite Data to Protect the Earth and its Waters: Our four countries will start discussions to exchange Earth observation satellite data and analysis on climate-change risks and the sustainable use of oceans and marine resources.
U.S.-INDIA JOINT LEADERS’ STATEMENT: A PARTNERSHIP FOR GLOBAL GOOD
THE CONTEXT: President Joseph R. Biden welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the White House today for their first in-person Leaders’ engagement, renewing their close relationship and charting a new course to advance the partnership between the world’s largest democracies.
- The Leaders affirmed a clear vision that will guide the U.S.-India relationship forward: building a strategic partnership and working together with regional groupings, including ASEAN and Quad members, to promote shared interests in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond; developing a trade and investment partnership that increases prosperity for working families in both countries; finishing the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and other health challenges; galvanizing global efforts to scale up climate action; strengthening democratic values and institutions in support of our respective peoples; and enhancing people-to-people ties that have made both countries stronger.
- Prime Minister Modi welcomed President Biden’s initiative to convene the Global COVID-19 Summit on Ending the Pandemic and Building Back Better to Prepare for the Next, given our shared commitment to combating the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Through the two main tracks of the Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP) and the Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogue (CAFMD) under the U.S.-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership, the United States and India will accelerate clean energy development and deployment of critical technologies to advance a clean energy transition. India welcomed the United States to join the Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT).
- President Biden reaffirmed the strength of the defence relationship between the United States and India and the unwavering commitment to India as a Major Defense Partner through close defence engagements in information sharing, sharing of logistics and military-to-military interactions, strengthening cooperation in advanced military technologies, and expanding engagements in a multilateral framework including with regional partners.
- The Leaders reaffirmed that the United States and India stand together in a shared fight against global terrorism, will take concerted action against all terrorist groups, including groups proscribed by the UNSCR 1267 Sanctions Committee, condemned cross-border terrorism, and called for the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks to be brought to justice.
- They looked forward to reconvening the India-U.S. Trade Policy Forum before the end of 2021, to enhance the bilateral trade relationship by addressing trade concerns, identifying specific areas for increased engagement and developing an ambitious, shared vision for the future of the trade relationship. Forum.
- Reflecting shared values and principles, and growing strategic convergence, President Biden and Prime Minister Modi resolved to advance the U.S.-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership and look forward to what the United States and India will achieve together.
PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS
Consider the following statements about Clean Development Mechanism (CDM):
- It is a market mechanism developed under the Paris agreement.
- It helps developed countries to compensate for excess emission of Greenhouse gases by acquiring carbon credits.
- It is an example of carbon offsetting.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
a) 1 only
b) 1 and 2 only
c) 2 and 3 only
d) 1, 2 and 3
ANSWER FOR SEPTEMBER 25, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS (REFER TO RELEVANT ARTICLE)
Q1 Answer: c)
- NHPC’s 510 MW Teesta-V Power Station located in Sikkim has been conferred with the prestigious Blue Planet Prize by International Hydropower Association (IHA), a London based non-profit membership association.
- The award had been conferred to Teesta-V Power Station based on its sustainability assessment undertaken by a team of accredited lead assessors of IHA in 2019 using the Operation Stage tool of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP) of IHA.
- The IHA membership includes leading hydropower owners and operators, developers designers, suppliers and consultants.
- The IHA Blue Planet Prize is awarded to hydropower projects that demonstrate excellence in sustainable development.
- The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP) is the leading international tool for measuring the sustainability of hydropower projects.
Characteristics of cryptocurrencies:
- The absence of any centralised authority and is maintained through distributed networks.
- Funds transfer between two parties happens without the need for a third party like banks.
- Cryptocurrencies typically use decentralized control. It works through distributed ledger technology, typically a blockchain.
The term “cryptocurrency in itself is derived from the encryption techniques used to secure the network. Therefore, safe and secure transactions or payments.Spread the Word