Polity & Governance
- Home minister chairs sixth meeting of Island Development Agency
- Commissionerate System approved in UP
Issues related to Health & Education
- Integrated Road Accident Database
- Maharashtra, Gujarat lag behind in compensation for sewer deaths
- World’s fastest growing cities
Bilateral & International Relations
- PM Modi to attend the inaugural session of Raisina Dialogue
- Hormuz Peace Initiative
Art & Culture
- Harvest festivals in India
- Statue of Unity finds place in ‘8 Wonders of SCO’
- Inscriptions confirming medieval monasteries presence at Moghalmari
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Polity & Governance
Home minister chairs sixth meeting of Island Development Agency
In the meeting chaired by Home Minister, the progress made under the “Holistic development of islands” program was reviewed.
Highlights of the meeting
- In the meeting, a detailed presentation was made by the CEO of NITI Aayog highlighting the current status of the planned projects being implemented for the benefit of the islanders.
- The status of the implementation of decisions taken in the last meeting were also highlighted in the presentation.
- Home minister expressed satisfaction at the progress made and called upon all concerned to expedite implementation of the on-going projects for islanders’ benefits.
Holistic Development of Identified Islands – An initiative by the government
- For the first time in India, an initiative of sustainable development in the identified Islands within scientifically-assessed carrying capacity has been taken-up.
- Phase I – 10 islands namely Aves, Long, Little Andaman, Smith and Ross in Andaman & Nicobar and Bangaram, Cheriyam, Minicoy, Suheli and innakara in Lakshadweep were initially identied for sustainable development.
- Phase II – suitable sites in 12 more islands of Andaman and Nicobar and five islands in Lakshadweep have been covered.
- Development plans with a focus on the creation of jobs for the islanders through tourism promotion as well as the export of seafood and coconut-based products made in the Islands have been prepared and are being implemented in four islands of Andaman and Nicobar (Swaraj Dweep, Shaheed Dweep, Hutbay and Long) and five islands of Lakshadweep.
- Key infrastructure projects such as operationalization of Diglipur airport for civilian aircraft and construction of a new airport in Minicoy Island have been accorded high priority by the Government.
- CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone) clearance has been accorded for ‘Middle Strait Bridge’ on Andaman Trunk Road.
- In order to sustainably utilize the potential of Tuna Fish, ten deep-sea modern fishing vessels are being procured by Lakshadweep administration from Cochin Shipyard Limited.
- An Islands Development Agency (IDA) under the Chairmanship of Hon’ble Union Home Minister was also set up in June, 2017 to oversee the comprehensive development of Islands in the country. Five meetings of the IDA have been held so far.
- Valuable recommendations made by the IDA in its meetings have helped significantly in planning and implementing suitable interventions effectively for islanders’ benefits.
About Island Development Agency
- The IDA was set up on 1stJune, 2017 following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s review meeting for the development of islands.
- The meetings of the agency are chaired by the Union Home Minister.
- Members of the IDA include cabinet secretary, home secretary, secretary (environment, forests and climate change), secretary (tourism) and secretary (tribal welfare).
Commissionerate system approved in UP
The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet on Monday approved the commissionerate system of policing for state capital Lucknow, and Noida.
What is commissionerate system?
- In the commissionerate system, the Commissioner of Police (CP) is the head of a unified police command structure, is responsible for the force in the city, and is accountable to the state government.
- The system gives more powers, including magisterial powers, to police officers and is aimed at better and effective policing.
- The CP is drawn from the Deputy Inspector General rank or above, and is assisted by Special/Joint/Additional/Deputy Commissioners.
- The sixth National Police Commission report (released in 1983) recommended the introduction of a police commissionerate system in cities with a population of 5 lakh and above, as well as in places having special conditions.
- Under the commissionerate system, the commissioner does not report to the District Magistrate and reports directly to the government.
- It gives an integrated command structure and helps fix responsibility with the Commissioner and eliminates blame game between civil administration and police when something goes wrong.
- It is supposed to allow for faster decision-making to solve complex urban-centric issues.
Changes in UP:
- The Additional Director General of Police rank officer would be appointed as commissioner and will have two Inspector General of Police Rank officers as deputies.
- The system would be monitored for six-months on a review basis to know its effectiveness in handling law and order better and the earlier system of District Magistrates would be done away on an experimental basis.
- The new team would also have a special Superintendent of Police (SP) appointed for women security to ensure control of crime related to women and timely investigation of the registered cases.
- There would be another SP rank officer who would be in charge of Traffic management. CCTV cameras would be installed at different places in these two cities for better traffic management and also for law and order.
How many states have it?
- Almost all states barring Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, UT of J&K, and some North-eastern states have a commissionerate system.
- Under the 7th Schedule of the Constitution: ‘Police’ is under the State list, meaning individual states typically legislate and exercise control over this subject.
Issues related to Health & Education
Integrated Road Accident Database
The government has launched a central accident database management system that will help in analysing causes of road crashes and in devising safety interventions to reduce such accidents in the country.
- Integrated Road Accident Database (IRAD), has been developed by the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) and will be implemented by the National Informatics Centre.
- The project costs ₹258 crore and is being supported by the World Bank.
- The system will be first implemented on pilot basis in the six states with highest fatalities from road crashes- Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
- The IRAD mobile application will enable police personnel to enter details about a road accident, along with photos and videos, following which a unique ID will be created for the incident.
- Subsequently, an engineer from the Public Works Department or the local body will receive an alert on his mobile device. He or she will then visit the accident site, examine it, and feed the required details, such as the road design.
- Data thus collected will be analysed by a team at IIT-M, which will then suggest if corrective measures in road design need to be taken.
- Road users will also be able to upload data on road accidents on a separate mobile application, which is expected to go live from April 1.
Road accidents in India:
- The Report on road accidents in India in 2018 stated that the accidents claimed over 1.5 lakh lives in the country in 2018, with over-speeding of vehicles being the biggest reason for casualties.
- Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh remain accounted for the highest number of road accidents and death on account of road accidents respectively in 2018
- According to the World Road Statistics,India recorded the highest number of road accident deaths across 199 countries in 2018 followed by China and the US.
[Ref: The Hindu, Economic Times]
Maharashtra, Gujarat lag behind in compensation for sewer deaths
According to National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) out of 926 deaths inside sewers in the country (1993 – Dec 2019), families of 172 victims were yet to receive compensation with Gujarat (48) and Maharashtra (32) having the highest number of cases where the amount was not paid or the payment was unconfirmed.
What is the issue?
- States that were found lagging behind in the rehabilitation of manual scavengers were asked to comply soon by the monitoring committee (chaired by Minster of Social Justice) which is meant to review the implementation of Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.
- Most of the sewer death cases since 1993, when the NCSK was established, compensation to the families of the victims had been paid.
- Tamil Nadu, which had the highest number of such deaths, had paid compensation in all but seven of the 234 cases.
- Gujarat was yet to pay or confirm payment in 48 of the 162 sewer deaths recorded in the State, and in 31 of those cases, the legal heir could not be traced, the data showed.
- According to the NCSK, a total of 53,598 people, of which 29,923 were in Uttar Pradesh alone, had been identified as engaged in manual scavenging after surveys in 2013 and 2018.
- One-time cash assistance had been disbursed in 35,397 cases, with Uttar Pradesh accounting for 19,385 such people.
- Capital subsidy and skill development training had been provided to 1,007 and 7,383 of the identified manual scavengers, respectively, the data showed.
Steps taken by the Government:
- Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 has been passed.
- As per the provisions of the Act, District Vigilance Committees had been constituted in 21 States/Union Territories, State Monitoring Committees in 26, and State Commissions for Safai Karamcharis in eight.
About National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK):
- NCSK was established in 1994 to deal with the grievances of persons engaged in manual scavenging.
- It has a sanctioned strength of four members and a chairperson.
- It is statutory bodyestablished under National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993.
- It aims to promote and safeguard the interests and rights of Safai Karamcharis.
- Its mandate is to study, evaluate and monitor the implementation of various schemes for Safai Karamcharis as an autonomous organisation.
World’s fastest growing cities
A recent survey of Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has listed three Indian cities in the world’s top ten fastest-growing urban areas.
- It was based on total % change during 2015-20.
Indian cities in the list:
- The three cities from Kerala- Malappuram, Kozhikode and Kollam made it to the top 10 of the list.
- Malappuram was ranked No. 1 in the world rankings with a 44.1 % change between 2015 and 2020.
- Kozhikode was ranked fourth with 34.5% change and Kollam was at number 10 with 31.1% change.
- Other Indian cities in the list were Thrissur (Kerala) at 13th position, Surat (Gujarat) at 26, while and Tiruppur (Tamil Nadu) is at 30.
What are urban agglomerations (UA)?
- According to UN: UA are extended areas built around an existing town along with its outgrowths — typically villages or other residential areas or universities, ports, etc., on the outskirts of the town.
- 2011 Census: a continuous urban spread consisting of a town and its adjoining urban outgrowths or two or more physically contiguous towns together.
How are these cities growing so fast?
- The three cities are seeing rapid urbanisation due to the inclusion of new areas in the UA’s limits.
- The total fertility rate (TFR) i.e. the number of children a woman is likely to have in the childbearing age of 15-49) in Kerala is 1.8 as per NITI Aayog data from 2016 far below the replacement rate of 2.1.
Urban populations can grow:
- when the birth rate exceeds the death rate (natural growth);
- when workers migrate to the city in search of jobs;
- when more areas get included within the boundaries of the city;
- when existing rural areas are reclassified as urban.
- The low fertility rate in Kerala means the increase in the population of Malappuram is because more villages are being transformed into towns, expansion of cities.
Risks of Unplanned Urbanisation:
- Unregulated housing, lack of reliable public transport, longer commutes within towns puts a strain on the meagre resources of migrants.
[Ref: Live mint, Indian Express]
Bilateral & International Relations
PM Modi to attend the inaugural session of Raisina Dialogue
India’s flagship global conference on geopolitics and geo-economics Raisina Dialogue will begin with Prime Minister Narendra Modi attending the inaugural session at which seven former heads of state or government will share their views on important challenges facing the world.
Highlights of the meeting
- The fifth edition of the prestigious Raisina Dialogue, jointly organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Observer Research Foundation, will bring together 700 international participants from over a 100 countries.
- The three-day conference will see the participation of 12 foreign ministers, including from Russia, Iran, Australia, Maldives, South Africa, Estonia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Latvia, Uzbekistan and the EU.
- Iran foreign minister Javed Zarif’s participation assumes significance as it comes following the killing of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani.
About Raisina Dialogue
- The Raisina Dialogue is an annual flagship conference on Geopolitics and Geo-economics.
- The conference is organised by Ministry of External Affairs and Observer Research Foundation (ORF).
- The name of conference comes from Raisina Hill which is the elevation in New Delhi where presidential palace of India, Rashtrapati Bhavan is located.
- It is designed to explore prospects and opportunities for Asian integration as well as Asia’s integration with the larger world.
- It is predicated on India’s vital role in the Indian Ocean Region and how India along with its partners can build a stable regional and world order.
- The first edition of the conference was held in March 2016 with the theme “Asia: Regional and Global Connectivity”.
- It is organized on the lines of the Shangri-La Dialogue held in Singapore.
- The second edition of conference was held in January 2017 with the theme “The New Normal: Multilateralism in a multipolar world”.
Hormuz Peace Initiative
India attended the Hormuz Peace Initiative that was held in Tehran in early January 2020.
- The initiative was led by Iran to stabilise the Strait of Hormuz which is one among the world’s busiest and strategically located shipping lanes amid escalating US-Iran tensions.
- It saw participation from key regional players including Oman and India besides Afghanistan and China.
Strait of Hormuz:
- It is a strait between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
- It provides the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean and is one of the world’s most strategically important choke points.
- Two-thirds of the oil and half liquefied natural gas (LNG) India imports come through the strait.
- As much as 18 million barrels of oil pass through the Strait of Hormuz every day, accounting for one-third of the global oil trade.
- A third of the world’s LNG trade also passes through the strait.
Art & Culture
Harvest Festivals of India
Makar Sankranti is a popular harvest festival celebrated pan India with same ardour but different regional names and flavours.
- It is celebrated on 14th of January of every year to celebrate the transition of Sun to the Makar Zodiac.
- Makar means Capricorn and Sankranti is transition.
States & Peculiarity
Sakraat or Sankranti
Delhi and Haryana
Singing folk Songs, Delicacies like Churma of ghee, halwa, Presenting gifts to in laws: Manana and Sidha
Holy dip in river, Major mela at Sri Muktsar Sahib
Sankrant Bhoj, Flying Kites
Ceremonial dips, Khichdi, Naati (Folk dance)
Ceremonial dips, Khichdi, Offering sweet meals to crows
Sacred dips, Fasting, Til ladoo
Sakraat or Khichdi
Bihar and Jharkhand
Ceremonial dip, Dahi-chuda, Khichdi
Bhog, Pithas (Rice Cake), Buffalo fight
Ganga Sagar Mela, Pitha (Bengali sweet), Laxmi Puja
Makar Basiba, makara chaula or uncooked newly harvested rice, Uttarayana Yatra
Flying kites, Undhiyu (spicy, baked mix of winter vegetables)
Til Gud ladoo, Gulachi poli
Four-day festival, Pongal (sweet dish made from the new harvest of rice boiled in milk)
Kichchu Haayisuvudu (display of cows and bulls in colourful costumes), Harvest festival
[Ref: The Hindu]
Statue of Unity finds place in ‘8 Wonders of SCO’
External Affairs Minister announced that the 182-meter tall Statue of Unity in Gujarat has been included in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s ‘8 Wonders of SCO’ list.
About Statue of Unity:
- Statue of Unity is the world’s tallest statue with a height of 182 metres (597 feet) which is almost double the height of the Statue of Liberty, USA.
- The Statue of Unity depicts Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (1875–1950), a leading figure in the nonviolent Indian Independence Movement and the first Deputy Prime Minister/ Home Minister of Independent India.
- It is located on the Sadhu Bet island, near Rajpipla on the Narmada river (Sardar Sarovar dam) between the Satpura and the Vindhya mountain ranges.
- The Statue of Unity has a viewing gallery at 135 metres, which can accommodate up to 200 visitors at a time and offers an expansive view of the dam and the surrounding beautiful mountain ranges of Satpuda and Vindhyachal.
- It was built in just 46 months. A ‘Loha Campaign’ was launched across villages to collect iron from farmers.
- The statue has been designed for seismic Zone IV as an earthquake resistant structure.
- Noted sculptor Ram V. Sutar, a Padma Bhushan Awardee, who has created over 40 monumental sculptures over the past 40 years was designated as the sculptor for the Statue of Unity.
Other wonders included in SCO list are:
- China – Daming Palace
- Tajikistan – Navruz Palace
- Pakistan – Mughal Heritage
- Kazakhstan – Tamgaly Gorge
- Uzbekistan – Po-I-Kalan Complex
- Russia – The Golden Ring cities
- Kyrgyzstan – Lake Issyk-Kul
Shanghai Cooperation Organization – SCO
- Headquarter – Beijing, China.
- SCO is a Eurasian organisation which was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
- These countries, except for Uzbekistan, had been members of the Shanghai Five, founded in 1996. After the inclusion of Uzbekistan in 2001, the members renamed the organisation to SCO.
- It has now eight members: China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.
- India, which has had an observer status for the past 10 years, was accepted along with Pakistan as full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in 2017.
- SCO has Afghanistan, Iran, Mongolia and Belarus as observers.
- The SCO has established relations with the United Nations, where it is an observer in the General Assembly, the European Union, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
- SCO represents 40 % of global population, 20 % of global GDP and 22% of the global geographical area.
- It is seen as a counter to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
Inscriptions confirming medieval monasteries presence at Moghalmari
A study of inscriptions on clay tablets recovered from recent excavations at Moghalmari, a Buddhist monastic site of the early medieval period in West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district, have confirmed the presence of two monasteries — Mugalayikaviharika and Yajnapindikamahavihara.
Findings on the clay tablets
- The monasteries at Moghalmari date from 6th century CE and were functional till the 12th century CE.
- During excavations six tiny fragments of inscribed seals were found.
- Each of them contained a set of letters accompanied by the deer-dharmachakra symbols.
- The inscriptions are in Sanskrit.
- The script is a transitional phase between later north Indian Brahmi and early Siddhamatrika.
- The first name Yajñapindikamahavihara, implying etymologically ‘a place of sacrificial offering’ is of special significance.
- The second name on the seals, Mugalayikaviharika, bears a phonetic resemblance to the modern name of the site, Moghalmari.
Links to other findings
- Archaeologists and historians point out that famous Chinese traveller Xuanzang (more widely identified as Huen Tsang), who visited India in the 7th century CE, referred to the existence of ‘ten monasteries’ within the limits of Tamralipta (modern day Tamluk in adjoining Purba Medinipur district). However, he did not refer to any specific name or location.
- With the discovery of the site and the deciphering of the inscriptions, at least two of these monasteries are now identified.
- It was known from Buddhist texts that Buddhist monasteries have a definite hierarchy — Mahavihara, Vihara and Viharika — which is reflected in the inscriptions found.
- The presence of two monasteries dating to the same period within a single compound is unique in eastern India.
- Moghalmari is a village and an archaeological excavation site in Paschim Medinipur district of West Bengal.
- The first detailed excavation of the Moghalmari site started in 2003 by a group of archaeologists led by Asok Dattafrom Department of Archaeology, University of Calcutta.
- In the first phase of the excavation in 2003-04, two sites in the Mogholmari village was selected for the excavation.
Brahmi and Siddhamatrika Script
- Brahmi script is the earliest writing system developed in India after the Indus script.
- All modern Indian scripts and several hundred scripts found in Southeast and East Asia are derived from Brahmi.
- Rather than representing individual consonant (C) and vowel (V) sounds, its basic writing units represent syllables of various kinds (e.g. CV, CCV, CCCV, CVC, VC).
- It is classified as an alpha-syllabic writing system.
- In the late 19th century, Georg Buhler advanced the idea that Brahmi was derived from the Semitic script and adapted by the Brahman scholars to suit the phonetic of Sanskrit and Prakrit.
- India became exposed to Semitic writing during the 6th century BCE when the Achaemenid empire took control of the Indus Valley.
- It is a medieval Brahmic writing style derived from the Gupta Script in the late 6th century and ancestral to Assamese alphabets, Bengali alphabet, Maithili alphabet and Tibetan alphabet.
- The word Siddhaṃ means “accomplished” or “perfected” in Sanskrit.
- It is an abiguda (segmental writing system) rather than an alphabet where each character indicates a syllable including a consonant and a vowel i.e. consonant-vowel sequences are written as a unit.