Chaukhandi-IASToppers-2019
Current Affair Analysis

11th June 2019 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

Chaukhandi Stupa; Location of Hong Kong; International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT); Bharat Stage (BS) norms; Difference between BS-IV and the new BS-VI; CAFE regulations; Draft of the National Education Policy 2019; Issue of three language formula; Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964; National Register of Citizens (NRC); Cyclone Vayu; Location of EL Salvador; Location of Portugal; Samadhi Statue; Anuradhapura era; Kheer Bhawani mela; Traffic Index 2018; End of Childhood Index 2018; New initiative to control Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Brucellosis; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
June 11, 2019

Contents

Government Schemes & Policies

  • No Intention to Impose Hindi, New Education Policy Flexible
  • All States can now constitute Foreigners Tribunals

Issues related to Health & Education

  • New initiative to control Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Brucellosis
  • India ranks 113 of 176 countries on children’s wellbeing

Economy

  • Traffic Index 2018: How Mumbai congestion was measured at world high

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • ICAT Releases India’s 1st BS – VI Certificate in Two Wheeler Segment

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Why lakhs are protesting on the streets in Hong Kong
  • El Salvador recognises forests as living entities
  • India, Portugal to join hands in setting up maritime museum

Art & Culture

  • UP’s Chaukhandi Stupa declared ‘protected area’
  • Hundreds gather in Kashmir for annual Kheer Bhawani mela
  • PM Gets Samadhi Buddha Statue as Gift from Sri Lankan President

Geophysical Phenomena

  • Why Cyclone Vayu is an obstacle to northward progress of monsoon

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Government Schemes & Policies

No Intention to Impose Hindi, New Education Policy Flexible

photo11 Current Affairs Analysis

Former ISRO chief, who heads a panel on new National Education Policy, clarified that there were no efforts to impose Hindi even as he dismissed reports of dissent against the removal of the Hindi clause.

Release of Revised draft of the National Education Policy 2019

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  • The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) released a revised draft of the National Education Policy 2019.
  • It offers flexibility over the choice of languages in schools under the three-language model, following protests over the perceived imposition of Hindi in non-Hindi speaking States.
  • Political parties in the South, particularly Tamil Nadu, had strongly opposed the three-language formula suggested in the earlier draft policy.
  • As per revised draft, Students who wish to change one or more of the three languages they are studying can do so in Grade 6 or Grade 7, so long as they are able to demonstrate proficiency in three languages in their modular Board Examinations.

What was the earlier provision of draft National Education Policy 2019?

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  • As per earlier draft, the study of three languages by students in Hindi-speaking States would continue to include Hindi and English and one of the modern languages from other parts of India, while the study of languages by students in non-Hindi speaking States would include the regional language, Hindi and English.

Issue of three language formula:

The three language formula was first mentioned in the National Policy on Education (NPE), 1968.

As per National Policy on Education (NPE), 1968:

  1. i) At the secondary stage, State governments should implement the three-language formula, which includes the study of any modern Indian language, Hindi and English in the Hindi-speaking States.
  2. ii) In the non-Hindi Speaking States, Hindi should be studied along with the regional language and English.
  • The NPE, 1986 made no change in the 1968 policy on the three-language formula.

 

  • On promotion of Hindi, the NPE 1968 said every effort should be made to promote the language and that “in developing Hindi as the link language, due care should be taken to ensure that it will serve, as provided for in Article 351 of the Constitution, as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India.
  • The establishment, in non-Hindi States, of colleges and other institutions of higher education which use Hindi, as the medium of education should be encouraged”.

Why is there opposition to the teaching of Hindi which crystallised into a policy in an official document in 1968?

The origin of the linguistic row, however, goes back to the debate on official language.

  • In the Constituent Assembly, Hindi was voted as the official language by a single vote.
  • However, it added that English would continue to be used as an associate official language for 15 years (after the enactment of constitution) under official languages act. Hence, the use of English for official purposes was to cease on 26 January, 1965.
  • During the expiration of official languages act in 1965, the anti-Hindi agitation took place.
  • However, as early as in 1959, Jawaharlal Nehru had given an assurance in Parliament that English would continue to be in use as long as non-Hindi speaking people wanted it.

Protest by Tamil Nadu government:

  • The recent release of draft NPE set off a political storm in Tamil Nadu which is traditionally opposed to the compulsory study of Hindi.
  • The Tamil Nadu sees draft as an attempt to impose Hindi on the unwilling State.
  • Tamil Nadu had witnessed massive protests against earlier attempts to impose Hindi in 1937 and 1965 as well.
  • Tamil Nadu has been following the two-language formula for many decades, under which only English and one regional language are compulsory in schools.
  • In 2006, facing criticism that many manage to avoid learning Tamil by opting for Hindi or Sanskrit in private schools, the State government enacted The Tamil Nadu Tamil Learning Act under which Tamil has to be compulsorily learnt in schools operating in the State.
  • The State is also opposed to the establishment of Navodaya schools by the Centre in any part of Tamil Nadu.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

All States can now constitute Foreigners Tribunals

 

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With Assam’s National Register of Citizens as the backdrop, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has laid out specific guidelines to detect, detain and deport foreign nationals staying illegally across the country.

Order of MHA to set up Foreigners Tribunals

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  • The MHA has amended the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964, and has empowered district magistrates in all States and Union Territories to set up tribunals to decide whether a person staying illegally in India is a foreigner or not.
  • These tribunals have the power to regulate its own procedure for disposal of the cases in a time bound manner.
  • Earlier, the powers to constitute tribunals were vested only with the Centre.

Which state has currently Foreign tribunal in India?

  • Currently, only Assam has Foreign tribunal in India.

These tribunals are quasi-judicial bodies which determines if a person staying illegally is a foreigner or not.

Why did it was set up in Assam?

  • In 1962, the Registrar General of India in his report said more than 2 lakhs infiltrants had entered Assam from East Pakistan. As a result, a police drive was initiated to detect and deport such infiltrators. This led to a hue and cry. Many politicians opposed it stating that several genuine citizens were also being deported in the process.
  • As a result, The Central government said that such persons would need to go through a judicial process before being deported which created the Foreign tribunals.
  • Following the order, several tribunals were set up in Assam. After the Illegal (Migrant) Determination Act (IMDT), 1983 even more tribunals were set up.
  • However, in 2005, the Supreme Court defined IMDT as unconstitutional and brought the Tribunals under the Foreigners Act.

What is the procedure for foreign criminal in states without Foreign tribunals (FT)?

  • In all the states except Assam, once a foreigner has been apprehended by the police for staying illegally, he or she is produced before a local court under the Passport Act, 1920 or the Foreigners Act, 1946 with the punishment ranging three months to eight years in jail.
  • Once the accused have served the sentence, the court orders their deportation, and they are moved to detention centres till the country of origin accepts them.

Background:

  • The draft NRC in Assam was published on July 30, 2018 amid huge controversy over the exclusion of nearly 40 lakh people from it. With the final NRC getting ready to be published on July 31, 2019 after Claims and Objections, the Centre has set some directives for those excluded to approach the FTs.
  • The recently amended Foreigners (Tribunal) Order, 2019 empowers individuals to approach the Tribunals. If a person doesn’t find his or her name in the final list, they could move the Tribunal.
  • Earlier only the State administration could move the Tribunal against a suspect.
  • Recently, to help Assam government in handling cases related to NRC, Central government sanctioned around 1,000 Tribunals to be set up in Assam.

About the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964  

  • The Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964 was issued by the Central Government under Section 3 of The Foreigners Act, 1946.
  • Though the order had a country-wide jurisdiction, it was intended for the state of Assam for all practical purposes.

What is National Register of Citizens (NRC)?

  • The NRC was introduced to identify illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and recognise the Indian citizens in Assam.
  • It was first prepared in 1951 and Assam is the only state having this arrangement.
  • Under NRC, immigrants who have documents proving that they entered Assam before 1971 will be considered Indian citizens and others have to show that they their ascendants have lived in Assam even before 1971.

Who is a D-voter?

  • Short for ‘dubious’ or ‘doubtful, this is a category of voters disenfranchised by the government for alleged lack of proper citizenship documents.
  • Some 2.48 lakh people got the D-voter tag during NRC process

Who is a declared foreigner?

  • D-voters are tried by special tribunals under the Foreigners’ Act and if they fail to defend their citizenship claim they are marked as declared foreigners and sent to any of six detention camps, which are within jails for criminals, for deportation. There were 91,206 declared foreigners as on December 31, 2017.

[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Issues related to Health & Education

New initiative to control Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Brucellosis

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Union Cabinet has approved new initiative (scheme) to control Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Brucellosis to support the livestock rearing farmers and improve the health of animals.

About the new initiative:

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  • The Cabinet had cleared a total outlay of Rs. 13,343 crores to fully control these diseases amongst the livestock in the country in the next five years and subsequently eradicate these diseases. 
  • In case of FMD, the scheme envisages vaccination coverage to 30 crore bovines (cows-bulls and buffaloes) and 20 crore sheep/goat and 1 crore pigs at six months’ interval along with primary vaccination in bovine calves, while the Brucellosis control programme shall extend to cover 100% vaccination coverage of 3.6 crore female calves. 
  • The programme so far has been implemented on cost sharing basis between the Central and State Governments. In a rare instance of departure, the Central Government has decided to now bear the entire cost of the programme to ensure complete eradication of these diseases and better livelihood opportunities for all the livestock rearing farmers in the country.

Threats of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Brucellosis:

  • These diseases are very common amongst the livestock – cow-bulls, buffaloes, sheep, goats, pigs etc.
  • Both the diseases have a direct negative impact on the trade of milk and other livestock products.
  • If a cow/buffalo gets infected with FMD, the milk loss is upto 100% which could last for four to six months.
  • Further, in case of Brucellosis the milk output reduces by 30%, during the entire life cycle of animal. 
  • Brucellosis also causes infertility amongst the animals. The infection of brucellosis can also be transmitted to the farm workers and livestock owners.

[Ref: PIB]

 

India ranks 113 of 176 countries on children’s wellbeing

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India ranks 113 in 176 countries on the wellbeing of children in End of Childhood Index 2018. 

About the Index:

  • The index is part of ‘Changing Lives in Our Lifetime – Global Childhood Report, 2019’ .
  • It was released by Save the Children, a non-profit established in the United Kingdom to improve the lives of children.
  • Countries are evaluated on eight parameters on the wellbeing of those up to 19 years of age — child mortality, malnutrition, lack of education, child labour, early marriage, adolescent birth, displacement by conflict and child homicide.

Global Highlights of End of Childhood Index 2018:

Top counties where childhood is least threatened:

 

endofchildhood-ranking-2019111

1st rank: Singapore

2nd Rank: Sweden

3rd Rank: Finland, Norway and Slovenia

Last Rank: Central African Republic

  • Globally, the rate of child marriage has reduced by 25 per cent in 2019.
  • Worldwide, there are three million fewer teen births now than in 2000.
  • In South Asia, India has performed significantly well where child marriage is down 51 per cent since 2000.

India Specific highlights of End of Childhood Index 2018:

  • India ranked behind Bhutan (98), Sri Lanka (56) and China (36).
  • India has successfully cut the teenage birth rate by 63 per cent since 2000 and 75 per cent since 1990.
  • In South Asia, India has performed significantly well where child marriage is down 51 per cent since 2000.
  • India has improved significantly on child mortality from 39 deaths per 1000 live births in 2017. This is still way worse than the goal of 25 or fewer deaths set my Millennium Development Goals.
  • Every fifth Indian child is out of school at primary and secondary levels and more than 11 per cent in the 5-17 age groups are child labourers.
  • More than 38 per cent Indian children are stunted compared to 8.1 per cent in China,17.3 per cent in Sri Lanka and 33.6 per cent in Bhutan.
  • Indian progress alone accounts for almost three quarters of decline in teen births worldwide.

 [Ref: Down to earth]

 

Economy

Traffic Index 2018: How Mumbai congestion was measured at world high

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As per Traffic Index 2018 published by an Amsterdam-based company, Mumbai is the most traffic-congested city in the world for the second straight year and Delhi at fourth place.

About Traffic Index

  • It is published by TomTom, an Amsterdam-based company that offers traffic solutions, uses location technology to collect traffic information.
  • It has been publishing city rankings since 2011.
  • It is calculated from anonymized GPS data collected via navigation devices, in-dash systems and smartphones.

Global Highlights of Traffic Index 2018:

  • Top five most congested cities:

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  1. Mumbai
  2. Bogota (Colombia)
  3. Lima (Peru)
  4. New Delhi
  5. Moscow (Russia)
  • Nearly 75% of the cities, considered under the 2018 index, had increased or stable congestion levels between 2017 and 2018.
  • Globally, traffic congestion is rising. It shows a strong global economy, however, increasing congestion level has the huge environmental impact.
  • Globally, Christmas Day resulted in the least traffic congestion.
  • Drivers in Tel Aviv (Israel) and Istanbul stood to save the most time by avoiding driving during morning and evening rush hours.

India related Highlights of Traffic Index 2018:

  • Mumbai’s 2018 congestion level is 65% meaning that the extra travel time is 65% more than an average trip would take during uncongested conditions. For Delhi, the congestion is level is 58%.
  • In Mumbai and Delhi, traffic congestion during morning and evening peak hours varies between 73% and 102%. The index found that traffic flows most freely between 2 am and 5 am in both cities.

 [Ref: Indian Express]

 

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

ICAT Releases India’s 1st BS – VI Certificate in Two Wheeler Segment

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International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT) released India’s first Type Approval Certificate (TAC) for Bharat Stage – VI (BS – VI) norms for the two wheeler segment.

  • Last year, ICAT issued the approval for BS –VI norms to M/s Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles for the Heavy Commercial Vehicle segment which was also the first in its segment in India.

What is Type Approval Certificates?

  • Type approval certificate is granted to a product that meets a minimum set of regulatory, technical and safety requirements.
  • Generally, type approval is required before a product is allowed to be sold.

What are ICAT certificates?

  • In India the Rules and Regulations related to driving license, registration of motor vehicles, control of traffic etc. are governed by the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (MVA) and the Central Motor Vehicles rules 1989 (CMVR).
  • Under the CMVR, various test agencies are established to test and certify the vehicles based on the safety standards and emission norms. After testing the vehicle for compliance of all standards and norms, the test agency grants a ICAT certificate to the manufacturer.

Background:

  • In 2018, International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT) launched ‘Certification with High Security Features’ initiative to stop the forging or counterfeiting of the ICAT certificates.
  • It was a first of its kind initiative taken by any automotive certification agency in India for enhancing the security of the Central Motor Vehicles (CMVR) certificates which includes Type Approval Certificates (TAC) and Conformity of Production (COP) Certificates for vehicles, engines and components.

About International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT):

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  • ICAT is a division of National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project (NATRiP) implementation society (NATIS), under the Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises.
  • It was established in 2006 at Manesar, Haryana.
  • It was established for carrying out Research & Development besides extending homologation facilities in the field of Automotive Engineering.
  • It is one of the prime testing agencies recognized by the Government of India as one of the accredited ‘Type Approval and Homologation’ agencies in India under Central Motor Vehicle Rules (CMVR).
  • It has also been recognized as Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (SIRO) by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR).
  • Since 2010, it is also recognised by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for Tyre Testing, Safety Glasses and by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for emission and noise testing of generator sets.

What are Bharat Stage (BS) norms?

  • Introduced in 2000, the Bharat norms are emission control standards that are based on the European regulations (Euro norms).
  • They set limits for release of air pollutants from equipment using internal combustion engines, including vehicles.
  • Typically, the higher the stage, the more stringent the norms.
  • BS IV norms stipulate only 50 parts per million sulphur compared with up to 350 parts per million under BS III.
  • Also, hydrocarbon, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions are lower under BS IV.

Difference between BS-IV and the new BS-VI:

  • The major difference in standards between the existing BS-IV and the new BS-VI auto fuel norms is the presence of sulphur.
  • The newly introduced fuel is estimated to reduce the amount of sulphur released by 80 per cent, from 50 parts per million to 10 ppm.
  • As per the analysts, the emission of NOx (nitrogen oxides) from diesel cars is also expected to reduce by nearly 70 per cent and 25 per cent from cars with petrol engines.
  • However, the introduction of higher grade fuel will be beneficial only if it is done in tandem with the roll-out of BS-VI compliant vehicles.
  • Using BS-VI fuel in the current BS-IV engines or, conversely, running BS-VI engines on the current-grade fuel, may be ineffective in curbing vehicular pollution, and may damage the engine in the long run.

Why is it important to upgrade these norms?

  • Upgrading to stricter fuel standards helps tackle air pollution. Global automakers are betting big on India as vehicle penetration is still low here, when compared to developed countries. At the same time, cities such as Delhi are already being listed among those with the poorest air quality in the world.
  • The national capital’s recent odd-even car experiment and judicial activism against the registration of big diesel cars shows that governments can no longer afford to relax on this front.
  • With other developing countries such as China having already upgraded to the equivalent of Euro V emission norms a while ago, India has been lagging behind. The experience of countries such as China and Malaysia shows that poor air quality can be bad for business. Therefore, these reforms can put India ahead in the race for investments too.

What are Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency/Economy (CAFE) regulations?

  • The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulation was first enacted by the United States after the 1973–74 Arab Oil Embargo to improve the average fuel economy of cars and light trucks.
  • They aim at lowering fuel consumption (or improving fuel efficiency) of vehicles by lowering carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, thus serving the twin purposes of reducing dependence on oil for fuel and controlling pollution.
  • Corporate Average refers to sales-volume weighted average for every auto manufacturer.
  • The norms are applicable for petrol, diesel, LPG and CNG passenger vehicles.
  • CAFE regulations in India came into force from April 1, 2017. Under this, average corporate CO2 emission must be less than 130 gm per km till 2022 and below 113 gm per km thereafter.
  • While CAFE regulations focus on reducing CO2 emissions, BS VI focusses on other harmful exhaust from vehicles.

Key Facts:

  • Automotive homologation is the process of certifying vehicles or a particular component in a vehicle that it has satisfied the requirements set by various statutory regulatory bodies. It is mandatory to get this approval to export automobile products or components.

[Ref: PIB, The Hindu]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

Why lakhs are protesting on the streets in Hong Kong

Hundreds of thousands of protesters dressed in white marched in the streets of Hong Kong in the biggest protest since the Umbrella Revolution of September-December 2014.

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Reason behind the march of protestors:

  • The protesters were marching against proposed changes in the law that would allow suspects accused of crimes such as murder and rape to be extradited to mainland China to face trial.
  • Once the law is changed, Hong Kong will also handover individuals accused of crimes in Taiwan and Macau to China. Macau, like Hong Kong, is a Chinese special administrative region with significant autonomy.

Government’s response:

  • The Hong Kong government has said that the proposed amendments would seal loopholes that allowed the Hong Kong to be used by criminals.
  • However, it has assured that courts in Hong Kong would make the final decision on extradition and that individuals accused of political and religious offences would not be extradited.

Protesters’ concerns

  • China will use the changed law to target political opponents in Hong Kong.
  • Due to China’s flawed justice system, extradited suspects are likely to face torture.
  • The change in the law will add another problem to Hong Kong’s already crumbling autonomy.
  • It will not just affect Hong Kong’s reputation as an international finance centre, but also its judicial system.

Background:

  • After taking over Hong Kong in a war by Britain in the 1800s, Britain returned it to China in 1997 with a condition that the city would partly govern itself for 50 years before fully falling under China’s control.
  • So until 2047, Honk Kong and the mainland would operate under the principle known as ‘one country, two systems’.
  • Moreover, when Hong Kong’s extradition accords were being finalized in 1997, Taiwan and China weren’t included because the Hong Kong has a fundamentally different criminal justice system.

What is extradition?

  • Extradition is the surrender of a criminal to one country by another.
  • It also helps in maintaining the territoriality of the penal code which says that a country should not apply its criminal law to a person who committed an offence outside its territories except when the crime is related the countries national interest.
  • The process is regulated by treaties between the two countries.

What are the internationally accepted conditions for extradition?

There is a general consensus about few conditions of extradition.

  • The crime should fulfil the criterion of dual criminality, i.e. it is a punishable offence in both the countries. For instance, homosexuality might be a crime in country A while it is accepted in B. The country A cannot request B to extradite a person who is charged with a homosexuality related offence.
  • Persons charged for political reasons are generally not extradited. Some countries refuse to extradite if the kind of expected punishment is abolished or is not administered in their own territories. For instance, Australia, Canada, Macao, Mexico, and most of the European nations refuse to extradite a criminal if the person in question might get capital punishment after his extradition.

What are the extradition laws of India?

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  • In India the Extradition Act, 1962 regulates the surrender of a person to another country or the request for arrest of a person in a foreign land.
  • The act specifies that any conduct of a person in India or in a foreign state that is mentioned in the list of extradition offence and is punishable with minimum one year of imprisonment qualifies for extradition request.
  • The process has to be initiated by the central government.
  • In the case of countries with which India does not have such a treaty, the central government can by notified order treat any convention to which India and the foreign country is a party as the extradition treaty providing for extradition with respect to the offences specified in that convention.
  • If the extradition request has come from two or more countries then the government has the rights to decide which of them is the fittest for the request.
  • Since 2002 India has extradited 42 fugitive criminals who were handed over by the foreign countries to India.
  • According to the CBI website, India has signed extradition treaties with 37 countries and extradition arrangements with eight other nations.
  • The countries with whom New Delhi has such treaties include Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Russia, UK and the US.
  • Italy, Fiji, Singapore, Sweden and Thailand are the nations having extradition arrangements with India.

Location of Hong Kong:

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  • Hong Kong is a special administrative region on the eastern side of the Pearl River estuary in southern China.
  • It is surrounded by the South China Sea on all sides except the north, which neighbours the Guangdong city of Shenzhen along the Sham Chun River.

[Ref: Indian Express]

 

El Salvador recognises forests as living entities

El Salvador has, in a historic move, recognised forests as living entities.

Recognizing forests as living entities:

  • On World Environment Day (June 5), El Salvador recognised forests as living entities.
  • Recognising forests as living entities sets the stage for a new paradigm in El Salvador in which humans live in harmony with forests and respect them as more than just property.
  • Its citizens will now be required to preserve forests.

Background:

  • El Salvador has lost about 85 percent of its native forests since the 1960s. Recognizing forests as living entities will help in making that loss.
  • In 2018, a coalition of environmental and social leaders has called for recognition of the Rights of Nature in El Salvador. In recent months, the coalition, ‘Yes for the Rights of Nature’ has focused on a campaign to recognize forests as living entities.

Location of EL Salvador:

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  • It is in the continent of Central America.
  • It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala, and Honduras.
  • It is the most densely populated country in Latin America.

Key facts on El Salvador:

  • It is known as the Land of Volcanoes due to frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity.
  • It is the smallest country in Central America.
  • Also, it is the only country in Central America that does not have a coastline on the Caribbean Sea.
  • Coffee cultivated in the western part of the country is famous all over the world.

[Ref: Down to Earth]

 

India, Portugal to join hands in setting up maritime museum

India and Portugal will cooperate in the setting up of a national maritime heritage museum at Lothal in Gujarat.

About the Museum:

  • Indian Navy and Portugal Navy decided to set up maritime museum based on a similar museum that is looks handled by Portugal Navy in Lisbon (Portugal).
  • The project is being implemented by the Ministry of Shipping through its Sagarmala programme, with the involvement of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the State government and other stakeholders.

Location of Portugal

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  • It is located in the continent of Europe.
  • Portugal shares land borders with only one country, Spain.
  • It is the second largest country in the European Union (EU).

Key Facts:

  • Spanish language is the second most widely spoken language in the world.
  • It has Europe’s biggest wealth gap.
  • Spain is the largest producer of olive oil by volume, followed by Italy and Greece.
  • It’s the only European country with cities on African soil – Ceuta and Melilla.
  • La Tomatina is an annual festival held in Spain where people throw thousands of tomatoes at each other.
  • Spain’s national anthem is one of only four national anthems in the world (along with those of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and San Marino) that has no words.

[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Art & Culture

UP’s Chaukhandi Stupa declared ‘protected area’

According to a notification issued by Union Ministry of Culture, Chaukhandi Stupa, an ancient Buddhist site located in Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh (UP) has been declared as ‘protected area of national importance’ by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

 

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About the Chaukhandi Stupa:

  • Because of its four-armed plan, the Stupa is known as ‘Chaukhandi’.
  • Stupa is a high earthen mound covered with brickwork, to which stands atop a terraced rectangular plinth and it is capped by an octagonal Mughal tower. 
  • It is widely believed that Stupa was originally built as a terraced temple during Gupta period (4th-6th centuries AD) to mark the site where Lord Buddha traveling from Bodh Gaya to Sarnath was reunited with panchavargiya bhikshus (Budhha’s five companions) who had previously deserted him at Rajgir.
  • Chaukhandi Stupa is a lofty brick structure crowned with an octagonal tower. The octagonal tower is a Mughal monument built by Goverdhan, the son of Raja Todarmal in 1588 AD to commemorate the visit of Humayun to this place.
  • It also finds mention in account of Hiuen Tsang, celebrated Chinese traveler of 7th century AD.

Key facts:

  • Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya in neighbouring Bihar and Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi are already included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • Currently there are 1092 World Heritage sites in the world. However, 37 World Heritage Properties are in India out of which 29 are Cultural Properties and 7 are Natural Properties and one is categorised as mixed site.

[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Hundreds gather in Kashmir for annual Kheer Bhawani mela

Hundreds of Kashmiri Pandit devotees prayed at the famous Ragnya Devi temple in Ganderbal district as the Kheer Bhawani mela was celebrated.

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What is Mela Kheer Bhawani?

  • Mela Kheer Bhawani is celebrated annually in the Tulmulla area of Ganderbal district in Central Kashmir.
  • It is celebrated on the eighth day of the full moon (Jesht Ashtami) in the month of May/ June.
  • According to belief, on this day, the Goddess changes the colour of the spring’s waters, which are ascribed to different manifestations of the Goddess. Turning of the colour into shades of black is supposed to signal approaching disaster.

The Kheer Bhawani Temple:

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  • The Kheer bhawani temple, constructed on a spring, is dedicated to the Goddess Rajnya Devi, popularly known as Kheer Bhawani.
  • The name Kheer Bhawani is derived from the fact that thousands of devotees offer milk and Kheer or pudding to the sacred spring, as they believe the pudding turns black to warn of impending disaster.
  • This temple is considered to be the Presiding Deity of most of the Kashmiri Brahmans.

[Ref: The Hindu]

 

PM Gets Samadhi Buddha Statue as Gift from Sri Lankan President

Prime Minister received a special gift, a replica of the Samadhi Buddha Statue, from Sri Lankan President after the two leaders met in Colombo.

Samadhi Buddha Statue

About Samadhi Statue:

  • It is considered to be one of the best sculptures in the Anuradhapura era.
  • This meditation pose is known as Dhyana Mudra.
  • This statue is 7 feet 3 inches in height and carved from dolomite marble.

About Anuradhapura era (377 BC to 1017 AD):

  • Anuradhapura is situated in the North Central province of Sri Lanka.
  • In the 4th century BC, King Pandukabhaya made Anuradhapura the capital of his Kingdom.
  • Around 250 BC, King Asoka became the Emperor of India and became a Buddhist. He sent nine Buddhist delegations to nine countries including Sri Lanka.
  • Arahath Mahinda, who was sent by Ashoka to Sri Lanka, spent rest of his life in Sri Lanka and started the Gauthama Buddha Sasanaya (Buddhist order of the Lord Gauthama Buddha) in Sri Lanka.
  • This started an era of culture interwoven with Buddhist philosophy that created an agricultural based society in Sri Lanka.

[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Geophysical Phenomena

Why Cyclone Vayu is an obstacle to northward progress of monsoon

Cyclone Vayu, which likely to generate winds of speed 110-120 km per hour and categorised as a severe cyclonic storm, is slated to reach the Gujarat coast soon.

vayu-11

What will be the effect of cyclone Vayu on Indian monsoon?

 

cyclone-ivan11

  • It is likely to halt the northward progression of the monsoon for a few days.
  • It is also expected to interfere with normal progression by absorbing all the moisture from the monsoon winds towards itself.

How did cyclones interfere with monsoon?

  • Due to very strong low-pressure areas of the cyclone core, winds in surrounding areas are forced to rush towards these low-pressure areas. (Winds always move from high pressure to low pressure. In case of cyclones, the surrounding area of cyclone act as high pressure).
  • When this low-pressure areas, develop near or over land, they can pull the monsoon winds towards their centre.

Arabian Sea cyclones

  • Though cyclones are common in the June, very few of them originate in the Arabian Sea. Most cyclones are found in the Bay of Bengal.
  • Arabian Sea cyclones are also relatively weak compared to those emerging in the Bay of Bengal.

How cyclones work?

  • Tropical cyclones are intense water-rotating systems formed by strong winds around low-pressure areas. They have a spiral, anticlockwise movement.
  • Additional weather conditions like high sea surface temperature, vertical changes in wind speed inside the spiral, and high relative humidity help cyclones form and intensify.

Why the Bay of Bengal has high number of Cyclones than Arabian sea?

Bay of Benga

bangal11

  • Higher rainfall and the sluggish winds around it that keep temperatures relatively high.
  • Warm air currents enhance this surface temperature and aid the formation of cyclones.
  • Receives higher rainfall and constant inflow of fresh water from the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers. This means its surface water keeps getting refreshed, making it impossible for the warm water to mix with the cooler water below, making it ideal for a low pressure depression necessary to from cyclone.
  • Cyclones usually weaken if they encounter a large landmass. However, due to the lack of any such presence between the Pacific and the Bay, cyclonic winds easily move into the Bay of Bengal.

Arabian Sea:

Arabian_Sea_map11

  • Receives stronger winds that help dissipate the heat (heat is necessary to from low pressure zone).
  • The lack of constant fresh water supply helps the warm water mix with the cool water reducing the temperature.
  • Most of the cyclonic winds in the Bay of Bengal are encounter by the Western Ghats and the Himalayas, hence, never reaching the Arabian Sea.

Why the post-monsoon period has higher number of cyclones than the pre-monsoon period in Bay of Bengal?

  • Since high water and air temperatures are crucial to the formation of cyclones, they are most expected, in summer. However, the Bay of Bengal witness cyclones both in pre-monsoon and post-monsoon period.
  • The post-monsoon period sees a higher number of cyclones than the pre-monsoon period. This is because summers and pre-monsoons see dry and hot air moving from north-western India towards the Bay.
  • This blocks the rise of air from the water and formation of clouds, preventing cyclone-friendly conditions. But the absence of this air movement in the post-monsoon phase increases the chances of cyclones.

[Ref: Indian Express]

 

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