ART AND CULTURE
1. BIRSA MUNDA MUSEUM
THE CONTEXT: PM inaugurated the Birsa Munda museum in Ranchi on ‘Janjatiya Gaurav Divas’ or tribal pride day. It is the first of 10 new museums dedicated to tribal culture and contribution to the freedom movement.
BIRSA MUNDA AND TRIBAL REVOLT
- He was an Indian tribal freedom fighter, religious leader, and folk hero who belonged to the Munda tribe.
- He is also known as ‘Dharti Abba’ or the Earth Father.
- He started the faith of ‘Birsait’. He wanted to reform the tribal society and so, he urged them to let go of beliefs in witchcraft and instead, stressed the importance of prayer, staying away from alcohol, having faith in God and observing a code of conduct.
- He started a movement called ‘Ulgulan’, or ‘The Great Tumult’.
- His struggle against the exploitation and discrimination against tribals led to a big hit against the British government in the form of the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act being passed in 1908.
- The act restricted the passing on of land from the tribal people to non-tribals.
2. RANI KAMALAPATI RAILWAY STATION
THE CONTEXT: PM inaugurated the revamped Rani Kamalapati railway station, earlier known as Habibganj, in Bhopal.
ABOUT RANI KAMLAPATI
- She was the Gond queen of the region in the 18th century and the widow of Ginnorgarh’s chief, Gond ruler Nizam Shah.
- She was one of Nizam Shah’s seven wives and daughter of Chaudhari Kirpa-Ramchandra. Queen was well known for her beauty and abilities and was often praised.
- Nizam Shah was poisoned to death by his cousin Chain Singh, who wanted to marry Rani Kamlapati.
- According to reports, she built the seven-storey ‘Kamlapati Palace’, which presently serves as an ASI protected monument and overlooks the Upper and Lower Lakes.
- Rani Kamlapati Palace is a secular architecture of the 18th century built of Lakhauri bricks, cusped arches over crumpled pillars.
- The merlons are shaped as water lotuses honouring the name of the Queen.
- With more than a 1.2 crore population, the Gond community is one of the largest tribal groups in India. Linguistically, the Gonds belong to the GondiManda subgroup of the South Central branch of the Dravidian language family
INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
3. ASSESSING THE DIGITAL GAP AND LEARNING LOSSES
THE CONTEXT: Schools are reopening for physical classes after 18 months of closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although a variety of efforts were taken by many schools and governments to reach them through remote education, surveys are now showing that only a minority of students was able to access lessons of any sort during the lockdown, and that widespread learning losses are likely.
- As the new academic year got underway in June and July 2020, schools were forced to begin remote education and the Centre promoted its digital education platform DIKSHA.
- Over the last few months, independent surveys have shown that in 15 States only 8% of students in rural India were able to access online education, while at least 37% completely dropped out.
- With 22 States and UTs having completely opened their schools, teachers and students are now grappling with the new ground reality of learning gaps.
4. NCRB DATA ON CUSTODIAL DEATHS
THE CONTEXT: Over the last 20 years, 1,888 custodial deaths were reported across the country, 893 cases registered against police personnel and 358 personnel charge-sheeted. But only 26 policemen were convicted in this period.
- The dismal record — compiled from the National Crime Records Bureau’s annual Crime in India (CII) reports from 2001-2020.
- The NCRB data show that the highest number of policemen — 11 — convicted for custodial deaths was in 2006 when seven in UP and four in Madhya Pradesh were found guilty.
- According to the latest data, 76 custodial deaths were reported in 2020, with Gujarat reporting the highest, 15, deaths. The other states on the list are Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and West Bengal.
- The 113th report of the Law Commission had recommended the insertion of Section 114 B in the Indian Evidence Act, which puts the burden of proof on the police to explain any injury caused in custody.
5. THE OTHER DIGITAL DIVIDE
THE CONTEXT: UPI has cut across the Indian socio-economic digital divide quite well and amazingly fast. However, it is a different type of digital divide that we should watch out for, namely, the chances of being defrauded when we use our phones to pay.
- Some common frauds take advantage of the fact that we may be unclear how the app works and the dos and don’ts of online transactions. For example, when you initiate a payment, you have to key in your PIN to complete the transaction. However, to receive payments you don’t need a PIN. This can be grounds for confusion.
- Some UPI apps have an online/ real-time chat and it’s easy for users to mistake the chat as being official instructions from the app itself. So, if the fraudster asks for your PIN on the chat you may wall believe your app is prompting to enter the PIN. You just have to be alert always.
- Another fraud is based on your registered mobile number (RMN). The SIM card of your phone/ your RMN is at the heart of your account, its authentication and operations. Fraudsters try to replicate your SIM by cloning it or simply conning you to cooperate so that they can get a replacement SIM.
- Then it’s theirs to get OTPs (one-time passwords) and make digital transactions on your accounts.
6. RBI ASKS BANKS TO STANDARDISE NPA’S
THE CONTEXT: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has directed banks that that loan accounts classified as non-performing assets (NPAs) should be upgraded as ‘standard’ assets only if the entire arrears of interest and principal are paid by the borrower.
- According to the central bank, some lending institutions upgrade accounts classified as NPAs to the ‘standard’ asset category upon payment of only interest overdue and partial overdue.
- Banks have also been asked to specifically mention in the loan agreements the exact due date of a loan and the breakup of the principal and interest, among others, instead of giving a description of the due dates, which leaves scope for interpretation.
- Henceforth, all lenders have to clearly mention the exact due dates for repayment, frequency of repayment, break up between the principal and interest, examples of SMA/NPA classification dates etc.
7. S-400 TRIUMF LONG-RANGE AIR DEFENCE SYSTEM
THE CONTEXT: India is preparing for a visit from the Russian President in early December, but it is the arrival of the $5.4-billion Russian long-range surface-to-air missile defence shield “S-400”, that is likely to generate more international headlines.
ABOUT THE DEAL
- India has contracted five S-400 Triumf (NATO designation SA-21 Growler) regiments from Russia under a $5.43 billion deal signed in October 2018.
- Delivery was originally slated to begin in 24 months by the end of 2020 but was slightly delayed due to late payments as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Eventually, both sides worked out a Rupee-Rouble exchange for payments, following which India paid a 15% advance amount, triggering the delivery cycle.
- The delivery is likely to be completed by April 2023, as informed by the Government in Parliament in July 2019. The final timeline has not been stated.
WHAT IS THE S-400 SYSTEM?
- S-400 Triumf is considered one of the world’s most advanced air defence systems that can simultaneously track and neutralise a range of incoming objects spanning aircraft, missiles and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) over very long ranges.
- The system can provide air interception against early warning aircraft, airborne missile strategic carriers, tactical and theatre ballistic missiles, medium-range ballistic missiles, among others, in a dense radio countermeasure scenario.
- Designed by Almaz-Antey Central Design Bureau, the S-400 is a successor to the S-300 system and entered operational service in 2007. In 2015, it was deployed in Syria by Russia to protect its military assets and has also been deployed in Crimea.
- The S-400 is fully mobile and each system has a 3D phased array acquisition radar that can track around 300 targets up to 600 km, command and control centre, automatic tracking and targeting systems, launchers and support vehicles.
- Each system has four different types of missiles for up to 40 km, 120 km, 250 km and a maximum range of 400 km and up to 30 km altitude. The different ranges and varying altitudes create a layered air defence net.
- An S-400 battalion has eight missile launchers, typically with four missiles each. The 30K6E Command and Control elements include the 55K6E combat control post.
WHY IS THE S-400 IMPORTANT FOR INDIA?
- The S-400 fills important gaps in India’s national air defence network and would complement India’s indigenous Ballistic Missile Defence system developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation and create a multi-tier air defence over the country.
- Given its long-range, it means that if deployed towards the Western borders, the system can track movements of Pakistan Air Force aircraft as soon as they take off from their bases.
- For the Indian Air Force (IAF), the high-end technology S-400 would give a fillip and make up for its falling fighter aircraft squadrons in the medium term.
WILL INDIA BE SANCTIONED FOR THE S-400 PURCHASES?
- The United States Government has made it clear that the delivery of the five S-400 systems is considered a “significant transaction” under its Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) of 2017, which could trigger sanctions against Indian officials and the Government.
- The CAATSA is designed to ensure that no country is able to increase military engagement with Iran, North Korea and Russia without facing deterrent punitive action from the U.S. The sanctions are unilateral, and not part of any United Nations decision, and therefore no country is bound to accept them.
- Section 231 says the President shall impose no fewer than five different sanctions on any Government that enters into a significant defence or intelligence deal with the Russian Government. Section 235 lists 12 options, including stopping credit lines from the U.S. and international banks such as the IMF, blocking sales of licensed goods and technology, banning banks, manufacturers and suppliers, property transactions and even financial and visa sanctions on specific officials.
- However, the law empowers the President to waive sanctions or delay them if he/she certifies that the deal is not a threat to the U.S. and allies, that waiver of sanctions is in the U.S.’s “vital national security interests” or that the country being sanctioned promises to reduce its future dependence on the “adversary country”.
- The U.S. has already placed sanctions on China and Turkey for the purchase of the S-400.
- The Biden administration has not given any firm indication on where it leans on India’s case yet.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
8. 41ST SCIENTIFIC EXPEDITION TO ANTARCTICA
THE CONTEXT: India has successfully launched the 41st Scientific Expedition to Antarctica with the arrival of the first batch of its contingent at the southern white continent. The first batch comprising of 23 scientists and support staff reached the Indian Antarctic station Maitri.
- The 41stexpedition has two major programs. The first program encompasses geological exploration of the Amery ice shelf at Bharati station. This will help explore the link between India and Antarctica in the past.
- The second program involves reconnaissance surveys and preparatory work for drilling of 500 meters of ice core near Maitri. It will help in improving the understanding of Antarctic climate, westerly winds, sea-ice and greenhouse gases from a single climate archive for the past 10,000 years.
- The ice core drilling will be done in collaboration with the British Antarctic Survey and the Norwegian Polar Institute. In addition to accomplishing scientific programs, it will replenish the annual supplies of food, fuel, provisions, and spares for operations and maintenance of life support systems at Maitri and Bharati.
- The Indian Antarctic program, which began in 1981, has completed 40 scientific expeditions, and built three permanent research base stations in Antarctica, named DakshinGangotri (1983), Maitri (1988) and Bharati (2012).
- As of today, Maitri and Bharati are fully operational. The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa—an autonomous institute under the Ministry of Earth Sciences—manages the entire Indian Antarctic program.
THE PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS
Q1. With reference to the history of India, “Ulgulan” or the Great Tumult is the description of which of the following events? (UPSC Prelims 2020)
a) The Revolt of 1857
b) The Mappila rebellion of 1921
c) The Indigo revolt of 1859 – 60
d) Birsa Munda’s revolt of 1899-1900
ANSWER FOR NOVEMBER 15th, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS
Tiger reserves of Arunachal Pradesh:
- Namdapha tiger reserve
- Kamlang tiger reserve
- Pakke Tiger reserve
Note: Orang tiger reserve is located in Assam.Spread the Word