Government Schemes & Policies
- Maharashtra scraps Jalyukta Shivar scheme
- Steel Cluster Development
- 1st Anniversary of PM-KISAN observed
- SPICe+ web form
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Report on the constitution of BMC
Defence & Security Issues
- Joint command to unify defence services
Art & Culture
- ASI barricading Hampi to prevent vandalism
Key Facts for Prelims
2020: A leap year
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Government Schemes & Policies
Maharashtrascraps Jalyukta Shivar scheme
Maharashtra State Minister for Water Resources has cited ‘substandard’ work carried out under Jalyukta Shivar, the flagship water conservation project launched by previous government of the state and officially scrapped the project.
Jalyukta Shivar scheme:
- Jalyukta Shivar was launched in December 2014 after Maharashtra experienced consecutive droughts.
- It was aimed at rolling out measures that could potentially mitigate water scarcity in the most drought-prone villages in a systematic manner.
- Nearly 52 % of the state’s geographical area is prone to drought, either naturally or due to poor rainfall.
- This includes Marathwada and adjoining areas of Madhya Maharashtra and large parts of Vidarbha.
- The project targeted strengthening and streamlining existing water resources like canals, bunds and ponds by arresting maximum run-off rainwater during monsoon.
- Tasks to widen and deepen natural water streams and connect them to nearby water storage facilities like earthen or concrete check-dams was proposed.
- In the first phase, planned during 2015 – 2019, Jalyukta Shivar envisaged to make 5,000 villages drought-free, every year.
- During its proposed tenure, the government eyed at making 25,000 drought-prone villages water-sufficient.
- During the five-year tenure of the scheme, major corruption charges were levied against the BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra against the Jalyukta Shivar project.
- The charges of discrepancies were levelled against 1,300 tasks carried out under the scheme which ended in seeking an investigation by the Anti-Corruption Bureau.
- It was alleged that work to the tune of Rs 200 crore was carried out inappropriately, along with improper fund allocation and substandard quality of work was carried out during the last three years.
- Soon after the Maha Vikas Aghadi came to power towards the end of 2019, steps to wind up the project were initiated. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray himself ceased the funds for the project in January.
- Since, Jalyukta Shivar no longer in existence, focused efforts of the past five years, in most likelihood, will go down the drain unless a similar scheme is introduced.
- With rainfall variations getting more pronounced, in addition to depleting groundwater reserves, the state will need concrete interventions to tackle future water requirements.
Steel Cluster Development
A Meeting of the Consultative Committee of the Members of Parliament for the Ministry of Steel was held recently, chaired by the Minister of Steel and Petroleum & Natural Gas Shri Dharmendra Pradhan.
Significance of Steel:
- The meeting aimed at “Steel Cluster Development”.
- Steel has been playing an important role in the industrial development of India, as it is a key input for critical sectors such as infrastructure, construction and automobile.
- Indian Steel capacity has steadily grown to 142 MTPA, with the country becoming the world’s second largest producer of steel.
- Total steel consumption is expected to nearly 160 MTPA by 2024-25, and the Government is promoting domestic production and consumption of steel.
- The Secondary Steel producers contribute about 55% of the total steel production, and it also contributes significantly to employment generation across the value chain.
Steel Cluster Development:
- The steel industry globally has thrived in a cluster model, as they enhance competitiveness of these units.
- Central Government is keen to facilitate creation of new steel clusters in line with the global benchmarks, and establish the right institutional mechanism to systemize the existing clusters.
- The draft policy for development of steel clusters in India prepared by the Ministry of Steel is an endeavour to help resolve the existing challenges faced by the steel units and unlock their growth potential.
- The Policy will take into account the role and responsibilities of various stakeholders, particularly the State Governments, Industry and the people.
- These committees provide a forum for informal discussions between the ministers and the members of Parliament on policies and programmes of the government and the manner of their implementation.
- They are constituted by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.
- The committees stand dissolved upon dissolution of every Lok Sabha and thus, are reconstituted upon constitution of each Lok Sabha.
- They consist of members of both the Houses of Parliament.
- The Consultative Committees are not Parliamentary Committees.
1st Anniversary of PM-KISAN observed
Union Minister for Agriculture said that the PM-KISAN is among the several new initiatives focusing on Agriculture and Rural Development sectors.
- On the occasion, PM-KISAN Mobile App was lunched through which farmers can view the status of their application, check history of credits to their bank accounts etc.
About the PM-KISAN
- In the Interim budget of 2019-20, Government has announced the ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN)’ for providing an assured income support to the small and marginal farmers.
- Under this programme farmer families will be provided direct income support at the rate of Rs. 6,000 per year. This income support will be transferred directly into the bank accounts of beneficiary farmers, in three equal instalments of Rs. 2,000 each.
- Funded by Government of India with Rs. 75,000 crores corpus.
- PM-KISAN beneficiaries will be given the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) so that farmers can take easy loans from the banks. The Government has also included Animal Husbandry and Fisheries sectors under the ambit of the PM-KCC Scheme.
- All landholding farmers’ families having cultivable landholding in their names (Farmers are not bound to have the 2 hectares of cultivated land as per earlier guidelines. Earlier, Small and Marginal Farmers families were also eligible for this benefit but after the changes in eligibility guidelines, these farmers are not eligible and hence will not get the benefit).
- All institutional Land holders; and Farmer families in which one or more of its members belong to former and present holders of constitutional posts, government office, who paid income Tax in last assessment year and Professionals like Doctors, Engineer etc.
- Beneficiaries having higher economic status are not eligible for this scheme.
Significance of Programme
- Around 12 crore small and marginal farmer families are expected to benefit.
- PM-KISAN would not only provide assured supplemental income to the most vulnerable farmer families, but would also meet their emergent needs especially before the harvest season.
- PM-KISAN would pave the way for the farmers to earn and live a respectable living.
Current Status of PM-KISAN Scheme
- A budget of Rs. 75,000 crores have been provided in the current Financial Year for the PM-KISAN scheme.
- More than 8.46 crore farmer families have been given the PM-KISAN benefits. (Total number of beneficiaries to be covered under the scheme is about 14 crores, and the Government aims to cover 12 lakh farmers by the end of this Financial Year).
- Common Service Centres (CSCs) has also been launched for online procedure for farmers’ enrolment in this scheme.
- West Bengal is the only state out of the ambit of PM-Kisan as it has refused to share and authenticate farmers’ data.
- Uttar Pradesh is the top-performing state, which has collected data of nearly 2 crores (out of 2.4 crore) farmers, so far.
SPICe+ web form
As part of Government of India’s Ease of Doing Business (EODB) initiatives, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has notified a new Web Form christened ‘SPICe+’ (pronounced ‘SPICe Plus’) replacing the existing SPICe form.
About SPICe+ Web Form
- SPICe+ is an integrated Web Form that offer 10 services by 3 Central Govt Ministries & Departments (Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Labour & Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance) and One State Government (Maharashtra).
- It aims to save as many procedures, time and cost for Starting a Business in India.
- It would be applicable for all new company incorporations.
- SPICe+ would have two parts viz.: Part A-for Name reservation for new companies and Part B offering a bouquet of services viz. Incorporation, DIN allotment, Mandatory issue of PAN, TAN, EPFO registration, ESIC registration, Profession Tax registration (Maharashtra) and Mandatory Opening of Bank Account for the Company and Allotment of GSTIN (if so applied for).
- The new web form would facilitate On-screen filing and real time data validation of companies.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Report on the constitution of BMC
The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) is set to tell the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that it has created 243,499 biodiversity management committees (BMC) and 95,525 people’s biodiversity registers (PBR) as of January 2020.
- The NGT had asked the Union Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change in April 2019 to report on the constitution of BMCs and PBRs in every state within three months.
- This was related to a petition seeking implementation of provisions of Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and Biological Diversity Rules, 2004.
Biodiversity management committees:
- BMCs are created for “promoting conservation, sustainable use and documentation of biological diversity” by local bodies across the country.
- BMC prepares People’s Biodiversity Register in consultation with the local people.
People’s biodiversity registers:
- PBRs contain “comprehensive information on availability and knowledge of local biological resources”.
- It would seek a year’s extension to finish the “huge process” of creating PBRs as it couldn’t be “completed in such little time”.
Report by National Biodiversity Authority:
- Till 2016, when the case was filed in NGT, there were just 9,700 BMCs and 1,388 PBRs.
- Now, till January 31, 2020, 95 % of the BMCs have been made.
- BMCs were set up at 144,371 of the 252,709 panchayats and 6,834 PBRs were documented with 1,814 in progress.
- A new framework to convert PBRs in electronic form— e-PBRs was also in progress.
- The new system will also protect intellectual property rights over traditional knowledge; information will not be shared without consent.
Defence & Security Issues
Joint command to unify defence services
Recently, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) said his office is working on a tentative timeline for the establishment of joint commands among the three defence services beginning with an Air Defence Command.
What are Joint commands?
- It is a unified command in which the resources of all the services are unified under a single commander looking at a geographical theatre.
- The commander of a joint command will have the freedom to train and equip his command as per the objective, and will have logistics of all the services at his beckoning.
Is there any tri-services (joint) command at the moment?
There are two tri-services commands at the moment.
i) The Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC), a theatre command, is headed by the chiefs of the three services in rotation. It was created in 2001 after a Group of Ministers had given a report on national security following the Kargil War.
ii) The Strategic Forces Command, which was established in 2006.
How many total commands are there?
- There are 17 commands, divided among the three services.
Army has 7 commands – Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western, Central, Southwestern and the Army Training Command
Air Force has 7 commands – Eastern, Western, Southern, Southwestern, Central, Maintenance and Training commands,
Navy has 3 commands – Western, Eastern and Southern commands.
- These commands report to their respective services, and are headed by three-star officers. Though these commands are in the same regions, but they are no located together.
Significate of joint commands
- Leader of a unified command has control over more varied resources, compared to the heads of the commands under the services now. For instance, the head of one of the proposed commands, Air Defence Command, will have under him naval and Army resources, too, which can be used as per the threat perception.
- Through such integration and jointness, the three forces will be able to avoid duplication of resources. The resources available under each service will be available to other services too. The services will get to know one another better, strengthening cohesion in the defence establishment.
Do militaries of other countries have such commands?
- China has five theatre commands. Its Western Theatre Command is responsible for India.
- The US Armed Forces has 11 unified commands, of which seven are geographic (Africa, Central, European etc.) and four functional commands (Cyber, Special Operations, Transportation and Strategic).
- While the number of commands India needs is still being studied, the CDS has envisaged that there could be between six to nine commands.
- One possibility is to have single commands looking at the China and Pakistan borders respectively, as they are the two major threats.
- The other option is to have a separate command for the border in the Jammu and Kashmir region, and another command looking at the rest of the western border. There could be independent commands looking at the border with China which is divided by Nepal.
- There will be two functional commands as well. i) Logistics Command will bring the logistics of all the service under one person and ii) Training and Doctrine Command for basic common training.
- A committee headed by Lieutenant General D B Shekatkar had earlier recommended three new commands: Northern, for China; Western, for the Pakistan border’ and Southern, for maritime security.
Art & Culture
ASI barricading Hampi to prevent vandalism
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is contemplating installing a wooden barricade around the stone chariot inside Vittala Temple complex at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hampi in a bid to protect it from vandalism.
About Vittala Temple
- The Vittala Temple in Hampi is considered to be one of the largest and the most famous structure in Hampi.
- The temple is located near the banks of the Tungabhadra River.
- It is also known as Shri Vijaya Vitthala Temple. It is dedicated to Lord Vitthala, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
- It is built in the Dravidian style of architecture.
- Notable structures in this temples are the shrine of the Goddess (also known as Devi shrine), Maha Mantapa or main hall and the famous Stone Chariot. (It is one of the three famous stone chariots in India. The other two chariots are in Konark (Odissa) and Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu)).
History of Vittala Temple:
- It was built during the reign of King Devaraya II (1422 – 1446 A.D.), one of the rulers of the Vijayanagara Empire. Several portions of the temple were enhanced by Krishnadevaraya in 15th century.
- Hampi is located on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in central Karnataka.
- It was a part of the Mauryan Empire back in the third century BC.
- Hampi remained an integral part of the capital city of the Vijayanagara from 1343 to 1565 AD. It reached its prime during the rule of Krishna Deva Raya.
- The group of Monuments at Hampi were built between 1336-1570 A.D., from the times of Harihara-I to Sadasiva Raya.
- Among all the rich monuments, Virupaksha Temple is the most significant, dedicated to the patron deity of the Vijayanagara rulers, Lord Virupaksha.
- It is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Group of Monuments at Hampi).
- Colin Mackenzie, in 1800 discovered the remains of Hampi and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has been conducting excavation works in the site.
- Primarily Dravidian style of architecture.
- Combinations of Cholas, Pandya’s & Chalukya Style.
- Built mainly from local granite along with the lime, mortar etc.
- There are more than 500 monuments and the notable Structures at Hampi are Vittala temple, Virupaksha temple, Hampi Bazaar, Achyuta Raya’s Temple, Hazara Rama Temple etc.
About Vijayanagara Empire
- The Vijayanagar Empire was founded in 1336 by Harihara and Bukka brothers. They had been in the service of the Kakatiyas of Warangal.
- After the fall of Warangal at the hands of the Iklhi Sultans, they shifted to Kampili. After the conquest of Kampili, the two brothers were taken to Delhi where they embraced Islam and became favourites of the Sultan.
- Soon the Hoysalas attacked Kampili and defeated the governor of Delhi. The Sultan at this point sent Harihara and Bukka to govern that region.
- They started the restoration of Sultan’s power but came in contact with Vidyaranya who converted them back to the Hindu They declared their independence and founded the state of Vijayanagar with Harihara as its king in 1336.
- The most famous king of the Vijaynagara Empire was Krishnadeva Raya. He defeated the king of Odisha and annexed Vijaywada and Rajmahendri. He encouraged trade with the western countries.
Conflict between Vijayanagara rulers and the Bahamani kingdom
- The beginning of the Vijayanagar-Bahmani conflict started on a large scale during the reign of Bukka I in 1367.
- The conflict between Vijayanagara rulers and the Bahamani kingdom resulted in formation of three distinct areas: in the Tungabhadra doab, in the Krishna- Godavari delta and in the Marathwada country.
Decline of Vijayanagar Empire
- The decline of the Vijayanagar kingdom began with the death of Krishnadeva Raya in 1529. The kingdom came to an end in 1565, when Ramrai was defeated at Talikota by the joint efforts of Adilshahi, Nizamshahi, Qutubshahi and Baridshahi. After this, the kingdom broke into small states.
- Vijayanagar architecture can be classified into religious, courtly, and civic architecture.
- It is a combination of the Chalukya, Hoysala, Pandya, and Chola styles that evolved in earlier centuries.
- Preferred for its durability, local hard granite was the building material of choice, however, soapstone, which was soft, was also used for reliefs and sculptures.
- Vijayanagar temples are characterized by ornate pillared halls and rayagopurams (monumental towers adorned with life-sized figures of gods).
- The courtly architecture of Vijayanagar is made of mortar mixed with stone rubble and often shows secular styles with Islamic-influenced arches domes, and vaults.
- Soapstone was commonly used for reliefs and sculptures.
- Sculpture was integrally linked with architecture in the creation of Vijayanagar temples.
- Large life-size figures of men, women, gods, and goddesses adorn many Vijayagara temples, and temple pillars often have engravings of charging horses or hippogryphs (yali) and other elements of Hindu mythology.
- Another feature is the carving and consecration of large monolithic statues, such as the Sasivekalu Ganesha and Kadalekalu Ganesha at Hampi.
- The Vijayanagar school of painting is renowned for its frescoes (technique of mural painting) of Hindu gods and goddesses and scenes from Hindu mythology.
- It gradually evolved into many styles of painting in South India, including the Mysore and Tanjore schools of painting.
- Vijayanagar painting is most commonly represented in elaborate manuscripts and wall paintings in Hindu temples.
Examples of pantings
- Dashavatara (the Ten Avatars of Vishnu) and the Girijakalyana (the marriage of Parvati, Shiva’s consort) in the Virupaksha Temple at Hampi;
- The Shivapurana murals (the Tales of Shiva) at the Virabhadra temple at Lepakshi; and those at the Kamaakshi and Varadaraja temples at Kanchi.
- The most famous of the manuscripts detailing the various nuances of the Mysore school is the Sritattvanidhi, prepared under the Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar.
- Other Sanskrit literary sources such as the Visnudharmottara Purana , Abhilasitarthacintamani, and Sivatatvaratnakara also highlight the principles of painting, methods of preparing pigments etc.
Key Facts for Prelims
2020: A leap year
The year 2020 is a ‘leap year’ i.e. the month of February will have 29 days instead of 28, and the total number of days will be 366 instead of 365.
Why do we have leap years?
- A calendar is meant to correspond to the Earth’s seasons. For this, the number of days in a calendar needs to match the time required by the Earth to orbit the Sun.
- The time required by the Earth to complete its orbit around the Sun is approximately 365.242 days.
- But years are usually only 365 days. To adjust for the extra 0.242 days in the orbital period, which becomes almost one full day in four years, the calendar adds an extra day once every four years.
- This approximates the time to 365.25 days, which is close to the actual 365.242 days.
- This was also the case in 2016, and 2024 will again be a leap year.
- We follow the Gregorian calendar introduced in 1582.
- Before that, the calendar followed was the Julian calendar, introduced in 45 BC.
- The calendars were different in their treatment of leap years.
- The Julian calendar had leap days every four years, but since it still did not accurately conform to the Earth’s precise orbit time, it kept falling behind with respect to natural seasons over the centuries.
- By the 16th century, the Julian calendar had fallen out of tune with the natural seasons by almost 10 days.
- To correct this discrepancy, Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 decreed that the day of October 4 that year would be followed directly by October 15 – thus covering up the error.
What is the new system?
- In the Gregorian calendar, a century year (a year ending with 00) is not a leap year, even though it is a multiple of 4. Thus, the year 2100 will not be a leap year.
- But even this does not provide total accuracy. To ensure that, some century years remain leap years.
- In the Gregorian calendar, leap years include those century years which are exactly divisible by 400. Thus, 2000 remained a leap year even though it ended with 00.
- The Gregorian calendar reduces the margin of error under the Julian calendar, thus keeping days more in tune with seasons.