TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related SOCIAL ISSUES 1. Manual Scavenging B. GS2 Related INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. Pak. duplicity key hurdle in fight against terror: Sushma 2. MiG-21s to be gifted to Russia by India SOCIAL JUSTICE 1. Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention C. GS3 Related ENVIRONMENT 1. 59 plant species in IUCN threat categories 2. Black Spotted Turtles/ Geoclemys Hamiltonii ECONOMY 1. Cocoa butter important source of vitamin D D. GS4 Related E. Editorials POLITY AND GOVERNANCE 1. Mizoram’s date with displaced Brus 2. No other book can trump the Indian Constitution ART AND CULTURE 1. The garden opposite the Taj F. Tidbits G. Prelims Fact 1. Oont Kadal 2. Lepchas 3. Kamangari Bhint Chitro /Wall Paintings H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
- Scavenging has been an occupation imposed upon certain citizens of the country by the society, which later on continued as a traditional occupation where a section of people among Scheduled Castes was ordained to clean the night soil and carry it manually on their heads. This class of citizens of India is known as Manual Scavengers.
- Manual scavenging exists primarily because of absence of water borne latrines. Using a broom, a tin plate and a drum, they clear and carry human excreta from toilets, more often on their heads, to dumping grounds and disposal sites.
- The States/UT’s are slow in identification of insanitary latrines and manual scavengers as there is no time-bound plan for identification of insanitary latrines and manual scavengers
- In spite of a legal obligation to do so, State governments are not keen to demolish and rebuild old facilities lacking sanitation, or conduct a full census of both the latrines and the people engaged in clearing such waste.
- They are exposed to the most virulent forms of viral and bacterial infections that affect their skin, eyes, limbs, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems.
Social and Economic Concerns
- Even though, in modern times these people desire to leave the profession, their social, economic, educational and cultural aspects have made it difficult for them to find an alternate profession.
- The social stigma of untouchability continues to stick, in one form or the other largely because of the unclean nature of their occupation.
- Many communities still regard the inclusion of a sanitary toilet as ritual and physical pollution of the house, and even the less conservative are ready to accept only large, expensive and unscientific structures much bigger than those recommended by the WHO.
- More pernicious is the entrenched belief in the caste system that assumes Dalits will readily perform the stigmatized task of emptying latrines.
- In the past(before 1980), the main efforts of the Government were concentrated on improving the working and living conditions of scavengers and not the core problem of converting dry latrines to pour flush latrines in any systemic manner.
- The National Scheme for Liberation and Rehabilitation of Scavengers and their Dependents (NSLRS) was started for providing alternative employment to the liberated scavengers and their dependents.
- The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 provides for the prohibition of employment of people as manual scavengers and the rehabilitation of manual scavengers and their families.
What needs to be done?
- A determined approach to end the scourge requires a campaign against social prejudice that impedes solutions. Change now depends on the willingness of the courts to fix responsibility on State governments, and order an accurate survey of the practice especially in those States that claim to have no insanitary latrines or manual scavenging.
- Raising the confidence level among those engaged in manual cleaning is vital; even official data show their reluctance to take up self-employment.
- Empowerment holds the key to change, but that would depend on breaking caste barriers through education and economic uplift.
- Compensation sanctioned should be paid immediately; only a fraction of those with verified claims have received it.
B. GS2 Related
- In a speech in United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said Pakistan’s duplicity is a key obstacle in the global fight against terrorism and India is an immediate and continuing target of terrorism originating from there.
Extracts from the speech
- The most startling evidence of this duplicity was the fact that Osama Bin Laden, the architect and ideologue of 9/11 was given safe haven in Pakistan….that claimed to be America’s friend and ally
- The killers of 9/11 met their fate; but the mastermind of 26/11 Hafiz Saeed still roams the streets of Pakistan with impunity
- Pakistan glorifies killers; it refuses to see the blood of innocents
- The international community has become increasingly aware of Pakistan’s role in promoting terrorism, the absence of an international agreement on the definition of terrorism allows Pakistan to characterise terrorists as “freedom fighters,”
Sushma Swaraj reiterated India’s demand for a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) at the UN General Assembly.
The CCIT was proposed by India in 1996.Its objectives are
- To have a universal definition of terrorism that all 193-members of the UNGA will adopt into their own criminal law
- To ban all terror groups and shut down terror camps
- To prosecute all terrorists under special laws
- To make cross-border terrorism an extraditable offence worldwide.
Currently there is opposition from the three main blocs that have raised objections: the U.S., the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) and the Latin American countries.
- The most powerful objector, the U.S. has been worried about the application of the CCIT to its own military forces especially with regard to interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
- The US wanted the draft to exclude acts committed by military forces of states during peacetime.
- Latin American countries that had concerns about human rights laws
- The OIC wants exclusion of national liberation movements, especially in the context of Israel-Palestinian conflict.
The United Nations must accept that it needs fundamental reform. Reform must begin today; tomorrow could be too late. If the UN is ineffective, the whole concept of multilateralism will collapse.
- The MiG-21, a product of the Soviet Union, was designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the 1950s.
- It made first flight in 1956 and entered service in 1959.
- However, Russia stopped producing the aircraft in 1985, while India continued operating the upgraded variants.
- India inducted the MiG-21s in 1963 and got full technology transfer and rights to license-build the aircraft in the country.
- It is the first supersonic fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force. The IAF still has about 120 MiG-21s in service which will all be phased out of service by 2021-22.
- On the sidelines of the upcoming India-Russia bilateral summit India is likely to be the gifting three MiG-21 fighter jets to Russia.
- Three MiG-21s are scheduled to be handed over to Russians based on a request from their Defence Minister to our Defence Minister. They comprise one Type 75 aircraft and two Type 77 aircraft.
- The aircraft to be gifted are in flight-worthy condition and the cost of crating and transportation will be borne by the Russians.
- This will be major symbolic gesture to showcase the all-weather friendship and deep strategic partnership between India and Russia.
- The aircraft will get new registration numbers and may be adopted for vintage flight.
- The MiG-21 has more of emotional value for Russia, as it has the distinction of being the most produced supersonic fighter in history. According to the website militaryfactory,com, close to 11,500 aircraft were built and operated by over 50 countries.
- Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation organized a global sanitation convention to mark the beginning of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi, also coinciding with the fourth anniversary of the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission.
- It will bring together Sanitation Minsters and other leaders in WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) from around the world.
- The global Convention will be aimed at sharing sanitation success stories and lessons across all participating countries.
- The success of the Swachh Bharat Mission will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the global achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6.2), i.e. to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all.
Some Stats on sanitation
- The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan-Grameen claims to have increased the percentage of the rural population with access to toilets from 39% in 2014 to almost 95%.
- Overall, 503 districts and 24 States have been declared open defecation-free. About $20 billion have been allocated to the programme.
Gujarat government declaration of open defecation-free status questioned by CAG
- The CAG report stated a survey conducted in 120 gram panchayats in eight districts found that nearly 30 per cent of the households had no access to toilets, either individual or public.
- Out of the 54,008 households in the test-checked villages, only 38,280 (71 per cent) households have access to toilets, while 15,728 households or 29.12 per cent were without any access to toilets, the report stated.
- The Union government had informed Lok Sabha that 11 states, including Gujarat, have been declared as ODF under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM).
C. GS3 Related
- Scientists have recently identified the threat status of 59 Indian plant species based on criteria used by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
- Experts from several institutes prioritized 59 plant species that are at risk of “elimination” if the threat levels they face are not assessed soon
- They revealed that 10 species are critically endangered, 18 endangered, six vulnerable, five near threatened and one species each are data deficient and least concern.
Palm Bentinckia Nicobarica
- It is currently listed as endangered; however the new study suggests it is critically endangered based on its distributional attributes (the palm is reported only from the Great Nicobar Island).
- Based on population sizes and numbers of mature individuals remaining in the wild using field surveys revealed that habitat loss was a huge factor affecting many declining plant population
- Factors such as low seed viability could have caused declines in the wild too.
Significance of this report
- This would streamline conservation efforts for the plants.
- Funding agencies often consider the threat status of species provided in IUCN’s Red List (a catalogue of the world’s threatened species), to sponsor research and conservation activities to save them.
- A recent report by TRAFFIC says India accounts for 29% of black spotted turtles (Geoclemys hamiltonii) seized from across seven countries in South Asia
- IUCN: Vulnerable
- Countries occurrence: Bangladesh; India; Nepal; Pakistan
- In India, the species is distributed across the north, northeast and a few parts of central India in States such as West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and parts of Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Meghalaya.
- The medium-sized freshwater turtle has a black shell with yellow streaks.
- The highest number of seizures occurred in India, accounting for a total of 3,001 (29.33%) specimens.
- Of the 53 seizures across these seven countries, 38% (or 20) seizures were from India.
- India is followed by Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand (1,995 specimens or 19%) and Hong Kong (1,775 specimens or 17%), followed by Bangladesh (1,197 specimens or 12%).
- The remaining specimens were seized from China, Pakistan and Singapore.
- Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra fall completely out of the distribution range of the species, it proves that these States are used as trade routes. Seizure data indicates that black spotted turtles are transported to Chennai by car or train, and subsequently smuggled to other parts of the region.
- Chennai has been identified as a major transit hub for illegal international trade in the Indian star tortoise, another species smuggled in large numbers.
- The report describes the India-Bangladesh border, part of the species’ natural range, as another hotspot for trade in the black soft-shelled turtle.
- The species was once smuggled for its meat and is now sought after as an exotic pet.
- Of the 55 suspects arrested for smuggling black spotted turtles, the number of known convictions was only 20, showing lacunae in the preparation of cases, and in procedural lapses in prosecution.
- increasing public awareness
- Better law enforcement and cooperation among international authorities.
- Cocoa butter and dark chocolate can be a significant source of Vitamin D and may help reduce the risk of respiratory diseases and brittle bones, according to the study, published in the journal Food Chemistry.
Vitamin D is crucial for the human body. It comes in two types: vitamin D2 and D3.
- Vitamin D3 is produced in the human skin through exposure to the sun. Humans get 90 per cent of their vitamin D requirements this way.
- The rest is ideally consumed through food, such as fatty fish or chicken eggs.
- Vitamin D2, which can also be utilised by the human body, is found in fungi.
- Cocoa is the dried and fully fermented fatty seed of the cacao tree from which chocolate is made.
- “Cocoa” can often also refer to the drink commonly known as hot chocolate; cocoa powder, the dry powder made by grinding cocoa seeds
Where is it grown in India?
- Cocoa plant is a small (4 to 8 m height) evergreen tree. In India, it is mainly cultivated in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu mainly as intercrop with Arecanut and Coconut.
- Cocoa can be grown up to 300 m above mean sea level.
- It requires a minimum of 90-100 mm rainfall per month with an annual rainfall of 1500-2000 mm.
- The plants need equitable climate with well distributed rainfall.
- The temperature range of 15°-39°C with optimum of 25°C is considered ideal.
- Cocoa requires deep and well drained soils. Poorly drained soil affects growth of plants. Majority of area under Cocoa cultivation is on clay loam and sandy loam soil. It grows well in the pH range of 6.5 to 7.0.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
- In 1997, some 40,000 Bru people were displaced from the state of Mizoram.
- Unfortunately, this incident got much less traction than that of the Kashmiri Pandits seven years before.
- However, a task that has been more frustrating has been making the displaced Bru people return home from relief camps from the adjoining state of Tripura.
- This has been a frustrating experience for the Centre and the north-eastern States for almost 21 years now.
Who are the Bru people?
- The Brus community are also known as Reangs.
- These people are scattered across the states of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura.
- In the state of Mizoram, they inhabit small pockets of Mamit, Lunglei and Lawngtlai districts. However, the biggest chunk is in Mamit bordering North Tripura district of Tripura.
Conflict between the Mizos and the Brus
- A conflict with the majority Mizos in 1995 made influential organisations like the Mizo Zirlai Pawl (students’ union) demand that the Brus, labelled a non-indigenous tribe, be deleted from Mizoram’s electoral rolls.
- As a consequence to this, an armed movement began by the extremist Bru National Liberation Front.
- This armed movement killed a Mizo forest official on October 21, 1997.
- Further, many Bru villages were burnt down and scores were allegedly raped and killed.
- Thousands of Brus fled to North Tripura where they were given shelter in relief camps. Most of the refugees were from Mamit and a few from Kolasib and Lunglei.
- The Brus are not a major voting force in the state of Mizoram. They were only a force in about three of Mizoram’s 40 Assembly constituencies.
- It was only during election season that Mizoram officials crossing over to Tripura for facilitating their franchise.
- With time, the Brus began demanding relief on a par with that of Kashmiri Pandit and Sri Lankan Tamil refugees.
- The Ministry of Home Affairs brought the stakeholders to the talks in 2015, and a financial package of Rs. 435 crore was arrived at in July.
- Significantly, the package covers 32,876 members of 5,407 Bru families. It includes, a one-time assistance of Rs. 4 lakh in fixed deposit within a month of repatriation, monthly assistance of Rs. 5,000 through direct benefit transfer, free rations for two years, and finally, Rs. 1.5 lakh in three instalments for building houses.
What does the package include?
The package included:
a) Eklavya residential schools,
b) permanent residential and
c) ST certificates and
d) funds to the Mizoram government for improving security in the Bru resettlement areas.
What is the present situation?
- The refugees were given a September 30 deadline to move or face harder times in the camps. But the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Coordination Committee (MBDPCC), another refugee group, has demanded a better package that includes resettlement in clusters and an autonomous council for Brus.
- It is important to note that a few families have accepted the package offered by the Centre and returned, but most of the internally displaced refugees have refused to budge unless they get a better deal. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has set them a September 30 deadline and threatened to stop free rations and other facilities.
- In conclusion, Mizoram and Tripura officials involved in the repatriation process feel the government will relax the deadline for more refugees to “change their mind.” The pressure is also from local Brus of Tripura, who are reportedly facing an identity crisis because of the refugees.
- On January 26, 1950, for the first time in Indian history, we, believers and practitioners of diverse philosophies and religions, decided to also become the people of a single book.
- This book was the Constitution of India.
- This was the only way to knit ourselves together into one modern nation.
- Irrespective of how inadequate our Constitution might be, an enduring consensus exists that it provides a strong, secure foundation for an inclusive, dignity-protecting, and freedom-sensitive society.
- It was devised by men and women of diverse faiths, speaking different languages and belonging to different castes; its basic structure is sound and needs no altering.
Religion and the State:
- According to the Constitution, the state should not interfere in the choice of individuals or groups in their quest for ultimate self-fulfilment.
- As a matter of fact, this is precisely what religious freedom means.
- Secondly, the Constitution acknowledges the value of distinct traditions but simultaneously recognises that aspects of any tradition necessitate that they are reinterpreted, reinvigorated and refashioned. This is also true of religion.
- The Constitution of India also demands a social revolution.
- It signifies a break from unjustifiable hierarchical norms of the past to build a defensible egalitarian ethos in the present where everyone can live with dignity and respect.
- The state needs not strict separation but principled distance from all religions.
- The state disengages from religion or engages with it, engages positively (actively promoting religion) or negatively (intervene to inhibit it), and in order to treat all as equals, does not accord the same treatment but, as the occasion demands, helps or hinders one religion more than others.
- As a consequence to this, without abandoning overall respect for Hinduism, the degrading practice of untouchability which was justified by certain Hindu texts, had to be abolished.
- It is important to note that in 1956, thanks to the efforts of Ambedkar, Nehru and several progressive Hindus, Parliament partially reformed Hinduism by passing the Hindu Code Bills.
- This saved Hinduism from decay by giving Hindu women a stake in their received religion. As a consequence, for the first time, Hindu women could remain Hindus and yet move towards greater equality and freedom. The majority of Hindus benefited from it even if a section of the Hindu orthodoxy was displeased.
- In light of this, it is believed that abominable practices in our society need to be stopped.
- For example, the practice of instant triple talaq is an abominable practice rejected by many Muslim countries.
- This practice gives enormous power to Muslim males, and is deeply degrading to Muslim women.
- It is believed that perpetuating this practice when other forms of civil contractual practices, compatible with both the Constitution and a more meaningfully interpreted Quran, are available continues an injustice to existing victims and disrespects the ‘holy book’ of democracy.
Note to the Students:
- This article is important as it relates to an important historical site, known as the Mehtab Bagh.
- We have covered a note on the Mehtab Bagh in this article. Students can be asked to write short notes on this in the Mains Examination; a question can also be expected on the same in the Prelims Examination.
- French traveller Jean-Baptiste Tavernier was the first to mention the story of a black Taj Mahal, and it caught the popular imagination in later centuries. However, archaeological excavations have found no evidence of any foundation on which such an edifice could have been built.
- Soon after the Taj Mahal was ready, Shah Jahan moved to the new city of Shahjahanabad in present-day Delhi, and possibly did not visit Agra for some years.
- However, Aurangzeb, who did visit Agra in 1652, said in a letter, that the dome of the mausoleum had developed a leak and needed repair. He got it repaired. He also said that though the octagonal pool and pavilions of the Mehtab Bagh were in good shape, the garden was inundated and had to be restored. This establishes the connection between the two parts separated by the river.
A Note on the Mehtab Bagh
- The Mehtab Bagh (Moonlight Garden) is a charbagh complex in Agra, North India. It lies north of the Taj Mahal complex and the Agra Fort on the opposite side of the Yamuna River, in the flood plains.
- The garden complex, square in shape, measures about 300 by 300 metres (980 ft × 980 ft) and is perfectly aligned with the Taj Mahal on the opposite bank. During the rainy season, the ground becomes partially flooded.
- The Mehtab Bagh garden was the last of eleven Mughal-built gardens along the Yamuna opposite the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort, the first being Ram Bagh. It is mentioned that this garden was built by Emperor Babur. It is also noted that Emperor Shah Jahan had identified a site from the crescent-shaped, grass-covered floodplain across the Yamuna River as an ideal location for viewing the Taj Mahal.
- It was then created as “a moonlit pleasure garden called Mehtab Bagh.” White plaster walkways, airy pavilions, pools and fountains were also created as part of the garden, with fruit trees and narcissus. The garden was designed as an integral part of the Taj Mahal complex in the riverfront terrace pattern. Its width was identical to that of the rest of the Taj Mahal.
Nothing here for today!!!
G. Prelims Fact
1. Oont Kadal
- It is a hump-backed bridge, locally known as Oont (Camel) Kadal in Kashmir lies in the middle of the Dal Lake
- It was built in the times of the ruler Shah Mir Sultan for the parking of Dongas that ferried tourists and locals who wished to take a tour of the Mughal garden ‘Nishat Bagh’.
- Dal Lake is prone to strong winds and windstorms making it impossible for Dongas and Shikaras to cross over. This link road came into existence for public convenience and also for Dongas and Shikaras to rest and anchor their boats during storms.
- Trees are also planted on both the sides of the road which provide shade to the pedestrians and also cut the strong winds.
- The iconic 17th-century bridge, Oont Kadal will be restored through a conservation project with the help of Germany.
- The Lepcha are also called the Rongkup meaning the children of God
- They are the aboriginal inhabitants of Sikkim and they are mostly settled in North Sikkim.
- Some population can also be found in WB, Nepal, Bhutan, etc.
- The Lepcha have their own language, also called Lepcha.
- It belongs to the Bodish–Himalayish group of Tibeto-Burman languages. The Lepcha write their language in their own script, called Róng or Lepcha script, which is derived from the Tibetan script.
- Most Lepchas are Buddhist, a religion brought by the Bhutias from the north, although a large number of Lepchas have today adopted Christianity.
- The Lepcha trace their descent patrilineally.
- They were thriving art form in Kutch, in the palaces and homes of the affluent.
- Kamangari art originated in the 18th century.
- The themes were as diverse as the patron’s tastes, but were predominantly mythological, with scenes from the Ramayana or Krishna Leela. Royal processions was another favourite. The landscape was another rich source of material, and date palms and peacocks and scenes from everyday life were common.
- The paintbrushes were made from the bark of the local date palm, and the colours sourced from tree bark, flowers and stones. The artists would paint on wet plaster to ensure permanence.
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. Consider the following about Brihadisvara Temple:
It follows Vesara architecture
The temple is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site
Which of the above statements are incorrect?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither of them
Question 2. With reference to appointment of the Chief Justice of India:
By convention the outgoing Chief Justice of India selects his successor
He is appointed on the basis of seniority as per the age of the Judge.
The correct code is:
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither of them
Question 3. Mount Paektu recently seen in news is in:
- North Korea
Question 4. Which of the following statements about Muziris is correct?
- It was an ancient seaport and urban center on the Malabar Coast
- It is mentioned in Sangam literature
- Muziris finds mention in the Voyage around the Erythraen Sea
The correct code is:
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1 and 3
- 1, 2 and 3
I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam
India can take a leaf out of the Chinese model of diplomacy rather than following western model of medaling with Internal Politics. Critically Analyze.
The Aadhar Judgment was the required medicine for the cancer of surveillance but failed on inclusion front by making it mandatory for food security. Suggest suitable measures to overcome this plight.
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis
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