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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 27 January 2020

INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 27 January 2020

Table of Contents:

 

GS Paper 1:

1. Nagardhan excavations- findings on Vakataka dynasty.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. 71st Republic Day.

2. Criminalization of Politics.

3. Global Talent Competitiveness Index.

4. Oslo Accords.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Accretion Burst Event.

2. Biorock or mineral accretion technology.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. About Padma Awards.

 


GS Paper  : 1


 

Topics Covered: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Nagardhan excavations- findings on Vakataka dynasty

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Recent excavations and revelations on vakataka dynasty and queen Prabhavatigupta.

Context: Archaeological excavations at Nagardhan, near Nagpur, have provided concrete evidence on the life, religious affiliations and trade practices of the Vakataka dynasty and also about the Vakataka rule under Queen Prabhavatigupta.

Queen_Prbhavatigupta

About findings and their significance:

  1. An oval-shaped sealing has been traced. It belongs to the period when Prabhavatigupta was the queen of the Vakataka dynasty.
  2. It bears her name in the Brahmi script, along with the depiction of a conch.
  3. The presence of the conch, scholars say, is a sign of the Vaishnava affiliation that the Guptas held.
  4. A copper plate issued by Queen Prabhavatigupta has also been found. It starts with a genealogy of the Guptas, mentioning the Queen’s grandfather Samudragupta and her father Chandragupta II.
  5. Since the Vakataka people traded with Iran and beyond through the Mediterranean Sea, scholars suggest that these sealings could have been used as an official royal permission issued from the capital city. Besides, these were used on documents that sought mandatory royal permissions.

Who was Queen Prabhavatigupta?

  • The Vakataka rulers were known to have forged several matrimonial alliances with other dynasties of their times. One of the key alliances was with Prabhavatigupta of the mighty Gupta dynasty, which was then ruling north India.
  • After marrying Vakataka king Rudrasena II, Prabhavatigupta enjoyed the position of Chief Queen.
  • Scholars say Queen Prabhavatigupta was among a handful of women rulers in India to have reigned over any kingdom during ancient times. Also, there had been no evidence so far of any successor female ruler within the Vakataka dynasty, the researchers suggest.
  • She ruled for about 10 years until her son Pravarasena II
  • She had a pivotal role in propagation of Vaishnava practices in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.

About Vakataka dynasty:

  1. Ruled parts of Central and South India between the third and fifth centuries.
  2. Rule extended from the southern edges of Malwa and Gujarat in the north to the Tungabhadra River in the south as well as from the Arabian Sea in the west to the edges of Chhattisgarh in the east.
  3. They were the most important successors of the Satavahanas in the Deccan and contemporaneous with the Guptas in northern India.
  4. They were Shaivite rulers.
  5. Nagardhan served as a capital of the Vakataka kingdom.
  6. The elephant god was a commonly worshipped deity in those times.
  7. Animal rearing was one of the main occupations. Remains of seven species of domestic animals — cattle, goat, sheep, pig, cat, horse and fowl — have been traced.
  8. The rock-cut Buddhist viharas and chaityas of Ajanta Caves (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) were built under the patronage of Vakataka emperor, Harishena.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered:Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

71st Republic Day

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Republic Day- significance and things showcased.

Context: India celebrated its 71st Republic Day on January 26, 2020.

 Guest of Honour: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

  • Bolsonaro is the third Brazilian President to be invited as Chief Guest for India’s Republic Day Parade.
  • Before him, India hosted President Fernando Henrique Cardoso in 1996 and President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in 2004, as chief guests for the Republic Day Parade.

Why January 26th?

The Constitution came into effect on January 26, 1950, a date specially chosen to coincide with the anniversary of ‘Purna Swaraj Diwas’.

January 26, 1930 was marked as ‘Purna Swaraj Diwas’, or the day the nation would attain complete freedom from its colonisers by the Congress.

  • The members of the drafting committee felt that the birth of the constitution should be observed on a day that held some significance in their fight for independence.
  • When India was ultimately granted freedom by the British in 1947, but on August 15 and not January 26, the date was instead assigned to celebrating India’s Republic Day.
  • This was the day the Indian Independence Act was consequently repealed and India was established as a democratic republic, no longer a dominion of the British Crown.

What was showcased at the parade?

  1. Dhanush Artillery Gun.
  2. Rafale and Tejas aircrafts.
  3. Anti-Satellite Weapons System (ASAT).
  4. Gujarat – Rani ki Vav – Jal Mandir.
  5. Meghalaya – Living Root Bridge.
  6. Punjab – 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

Criminalization of Politics

What to study?

For Prelims: Salient features of RPA.

For Mains: Criminalisation of politics- concerns, challenges and solutions.

Context: SC asks EC to devise mechanism to curb criminalization of politics.

The court also asked the poll body to come up with a framework within one week, which can contribute towards the larger issue of containing the entry of candidates having criminal background into politics.

Need for:

Fielding candidates with criminal antecedents has been one of the key concerns in the recent elections.

The extent of this can be understood from the fact that according to an analysis by New Delhi based Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), nearly half the MPs of the 17th Lok Sabha elected in May last year had declared criminal cases against them.

Out of the 539 MPs which ADR analysed, 233 had declared criminal cases against them which was an increase of 44% in the number of MPs with declared criminal cases since 2009.

In its analysis released in May last year, ADR added that out of the 542 MPs analysed during Lok Sabha polls in 2014, 34% or 185 had declared criminal cases against themselves while out of 543 in 2009, 30% or 162 had declared criminal cases against themselves.

What does the RPA say on this?

Currently, under the Representation of Peoples (RP) Act, lawmakers cannot contest elections only after their conviction in a criminal case.

Section 8 of the Representation of the People (RP) Act, 1951 disqualifies a person convicted with a sentence of two years or more from contesting elections. But those under trial continued to be eligible to contest elections. The Lily Thomas case (2013), however, ended this unfair advantage.

Efforts by SC in this regard:

The SC has repeatedly expressed concern about the purity of legislatures.

  1. In 2002, it made it obligatory for all candidates to file an affidavit before the returning officer, disclosing criminal cases pending against them.
  2. The famous order to introduce NOTA was intended to make political parties think before giving tickets to the tainted.
  3. In its landmark judgment of March 2014, the SC accepted the urgent need for cleansing politics of criminalisation and directed all subordinate courts to decide on cases involving legislators within a year, or give reasons for not doing so to the chief justice of the high court.

Main reasons for Criminalization:

  1. Corruption
  2. Vote bank.
  3. Lack of governance.

What is the way out?

There are three possible options.

  1. One, political parties should themselves refuse tickets to the tainted.
  2. Two, the RP Act should be amended to debar persons against whom cases of a heinous nature are pending from contesting elections.
  3. Three, fast-track courts should decide the cases of tainted legislators quickly.

Other suggested measure to curb criminalization of politics:

  1. Bringing greater transparency in campaign financing is going to make it less attractive for political parties to involve gangsters.
  2. The Election Commission of India (ECI) should have the power to audit the financial accounts of political parties.
  3. Broader governance will have to improve for voters to reduce the reliance on criminal politicians.
  4. The Election Commission must take adequate measures to break the nexus between the criminals and the politicians.

Conclusion:

Corruption and criminalisation of politics is hitting at the roots of democracy. Therefore, Parliament must take steps urgently to curb this menace. Candidates and political parties must give wide publicity to criminal cases pending against her/him in the local media, both print and electronic, after s/he files nomination to contest elections.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics covered: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Global Talent Competitiveness Index

What to study?

For prelims and mains: GTCI- key findings, indicators and significance.

Context: Global Talent Competitive Index (GTCI) for 2020 has been released.

About GTCI:

  • GTCI, launched in 2013, is an annual benchmarking report that measures the ability of countries to compete for talent.
  • It is released by INSEAD business school in partnership with Adecco Group and Google.
  • The report measures levels of Global Talent Competitiveness by looking at 70 variables such as ease of hiring, gender earnings gap, and prevalence of training in firms.

Performance of India:

  1. India is placed at no. 72.
  2. Although more could be done to improve the country’s educational system (68th in Formal Education), India’s key strength relates to growing (44th) talent, due to its levels of lifelong learning (40th) and access to growth opportunities (39th).
  3. The country’s highest-ranked sub-pillar is employability, but the ability to match labour market demand and supply stands in contrast to the country’s poor mid-level skills.

Global performance:

  1. Switzerland, the United States and Singapore lead the index.

Key observations:

  • The gap between talent champions and the rest of the world is widening.
  • A similar gap is also seen in the universe of artificial intelligence. AI talent is scarce and unequally distributed across industries, sectors, and nations.
  • More than half of the population in the developing world lacks basic digital skills.

 What next?

  1. AI policies and programmes should work to minimise negative outcomes and increase access to AI for those left behind.
  2. AI could provide significant opportunities for emerging markets to leapfrog.
  3. Some developing countries (e.g., China, Costa Rica, and Malaysia) can become talent champions in their respective regions, while others (e.g., Ghana and India) have significantly improved their capacity to enable, attract, grow, and retain talent over the past few years, and hence can be labelled talent movers.
  4. The emergence of AI in the workplace requires a massive re-skilling of the workforce. At all levels of qualifications, workers will need training on adaptability, social intelligence, communication, and problem-solving.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered:Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Oslo Accords

What to study?

For Prelims: Where is Jerusalem located?

For Mains: What is the Controversy all about, India’s stand and the need for viable solution.

Context: Palestinians threaten to quit Oslo Accords, if U.S. President Donald Trump announces his West Asia peace plan next week.

Why? Palestinians’ concerns:

The main worry is that this initiative will turn Israel’s “temporary occupation (of Palestinian territory) into a permanent occupation”.

The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state and believe Mr. Trump’s plan buries the two-state solution that has been for decades the cornerstone of international West Asia diplomacy.

What’s the issue?

Under the Oslo Accords of the 1993, both Israel and the Palestinians agreed that the status of settlements would be decided by negotiations. But the negotiations process has been all but dead for several years now.

Israel walked into East Jerusalem in 1967, and subsequently annexed it. For Israel, Jerusalem is non-negotiable.

The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Most of the world’s nations look at it as occupied territory.

About the Oslo Accords:

Formally known as the Declaration of Principles (DOP), the pact established a timetable for the Middle East peace process. It planned for an interim Palestinian government in Gaza and Jericho in the West Bank.

Oslo II, officially called the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza, expanded on Oslo I. It included provisions for the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from six West Bank cities and about 450 towns. Additionally, the pact set a timetable for elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council.

The Details of Oslo Accords:
The Declaration calls for:
– Israel to withdraw from Jericho and Gaza, and eventually the West Bank.
– Five years of limited autonomy for Palestinians in those areas.
– Election of Palestinian Legislative Council within nine months.
– Establishment of a Palestinian police force.
– The question of Jerusalem was left undecided.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Awareness in Space.

Accretion Burst Event

What to study?

For Prelims: Meaning, features, about maser monitoring organisation.

For Mains: Significance of the findings.

What is it?

Astronomers have recently found that the funnelling of matter into a forming star happens at different rates over time, as per the rotating disc of gas and dust theory.

Sometimes the forming star swallows up a huge amount of matter, resulting in a burst of activities in the massive star.

This is called an accretion burst event.

It is incredibly rare: only three such events have been observed, out of all the billions of massive stars in the Milky Way.

Need for these understandings:

Astronomers don’t yet fully understand how massive stars in our galaxy are formed. So far, observations have only yielded some pieces of the puzzle.

This is because nearly all the known massive stars in our galaxy are located very far away from our solar system. They also form in close proximity to other massive stars, making it difficult to study the environment where they take shape.

So, rotating disc theory helps in understanding these events.

With this, the astronomers will be able to develop and test theories to explain how high-mass stars gain their mass.

Maser Monitoring Organisation (M2O):

After the first detection of an accretion burst, in 2016, astronomers from around the world agreed in 2017 to coordinate their efforts to observe more.

This led to the formation of the Maser Monitoring Organisation (M2O).

The primary goal of M2O is to make the atronomy community aware of the importance of Maser monitoring. It is also to increase the number of sources monitored, the number of transitions monitored at, and increase cadence of observation.

What is a Maser?

A maser is the microwave (radio frequency) equivalent of laser. The word stands for “microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”.

  • Masers are observed using radio telescopes and most of them are observed at centimetre wavelength: they are very compact.
  • A maser flare can be a sign of an extraordinary event such as the formation of a star. 

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Biorock or mineral accretion technology

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of the technology.

 Context: The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), with help from Gujarat’s forest department, is attempting for the first time a process to restore coral reefs using biorock or mineral accretion technology in the Gulf of Kachchh.

What is Biorock?

It is the name given to the substance formed by electro accumulation of minerals dissolved in seawater on steel structures that are lowered onto the sea bed and are connected to a power source, in this case solar panels that float on the surface.

How they are formed?

  1. The technology works by passing a small amount of electrical current through electrodes in the water.
  2. When a positively charged anode and negatively charged cathode are placed on the sea floor, with an electric current flowing between them, calcium ions combine with carbonate ions and adhere to the structure (cathode).
  3. This results in calcium carbonate formation. Coral larvae adhere to the CaCO3 and grow quickly.
  4. Fragments of broken corals are tied to the biorock structure, where they are able to grow at least four to six times faster than their actual growth as they need not spend their energy in building their own calcium carbonate skeletons.

img_27-1-20

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims:


 

About Padma Awards:

Padma Awards – one of the highest civilian Awards of the country, are conferred in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. They were instituted in the year 1954. The Awards are given in various disciplines/ fields of activities, viz.- art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc.

Categories:

  1. Padma Vibhushan is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service;( it is a second degree honour).
  2. Padma Bhushan is awarded for distinguished service of high order. (it is a third degree honour).
  3. Padma Shri is awarded for distinguished service in any field. (it is a fourth degree honour).

The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year. The award is normally not conferred posthumously. However, in highly deserving cases, the Government could consider giving an award posthumously if the demise of the person proposed to be honoured has been recent, say within a period of one year preceding the Republic Day on which it is proposed to announce the award.