January 2020
M T W T F S S
« Dec   Feb »
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

[op-ed of the day] Weathering the stormop-ed snap


Context

State of Climate of India report by IMD should occasion interventions to make people resilient to extreme weather events.

What does the report confirm?

  • Frequent extreme weather events: The report states that extreme weather events have become par for the course in the country.
  • The report notes that excessive heat, cold and rainfall killed 1,562 people during the year.
  • Intense dry spells, even droughts, were interspersed with floods in several parts of the country
  • Above normal temperature:  The mean temperature last year was 0.36 above normal.
  • The excess rainfall: The country also recorded excess rainfall during both the southwest and northeast monsoons.

Long-term meteorological trends:

  • The IMD report should be seen in conjunction with long-term meteorological trends.
  • The warmest decade: The World Meteorological Organisation reckons that the decade starting 2011 remains on track to be the warmest on record.
  • Increase in the relative humidity: At the same time, data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Forecast shows that the relative humidity in the mid-troposphere in the Subcontinent has increased by about 2 percent in the past four decades.
  • Such warming has increased the capacity of oceans to form intense cyclonic disturbances.

Implications for disaster-preparedness:

  • Cyclones: Last year, as the IMD report notes, the Indian Ocean witnessed eight cyclones.
  • Cyclones don’t kill but buildings can turn hazardous during such extreme weather events.
  • The vulnerability of the poor: In Odisha winds blowing at more than 140 kilometers per hour ripped off roofs and window frames in modern houses and also exposed the vulnerability of the mud and bamboo houses of the poor.
  • Guidelines: The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs does have guidelines for climate-friendly construction.
  • But planners in coastal cities and towns rarely pay heed to its provisions.
  • Cooperation between the states: The changing dynamics of weather also demands cooperation between states that share a river basin.
  • Maharashtra and Karnataka bickered over opening the gates of the Almatti dam on the Krishna.

Implications for the farmers:

  • For farmers, vagaries in nature mean disruptions in the entire cropping cycle.
  • This year, Kerala, southern Karnataka, and Gujarat were heavily deficient till July.
  • But within a few days in the last week of July, these states recorded surplus rainfall.
  • Rainwater storage and use: Increasing their resilience calls for efficient rainwater storage and use.

Conclusion:

It’s clear that dealing with exceptional weather will require interventions at the national, state and local levels. The Statement on Climate of India 2019 drives home the urgency of such interventions.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] A multilateral alternative, by Asiaop-ed snap

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2-Relations with China and the U.S.


Context

After the gap of 200 years, Asian economies are once again larger than the rest of the world combined.

The Asian Century

  • Providing an alternative order: With the rise of India and China, Asia is providing a multilateral alternative to the world base on values.
  • Asian Century corresponds to the re-emergence of the two countries, leveraging the size and technological competence
  • Civilizational values: Both countries have civilisational values that are different from the west.
  • Peaceful existence: In the case of India and China balance of power is a western construct and both lived in peace across the ages.
  • The rise of China on the global landscape: In 2013, after attaining 15% of global wealth, announced the multilateral Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In 2014, launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, challenging the global governance paradigm.
  • India in 2015, established the International Solar Alliance, laying out a distinct global sustainable development framework.
  • Current multilateralism and its problems: The U.S. has recognised the ‘Asian Century’ bypassing multilateralism and recognised Indo-Pacific construct.
  • The U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and the inclusion of intellectual property rights into the trade regime point to the colonial origin of the present order.

 

New Framework- Country-specific to global value chain

  • Changing competition: Competition is moving from country-specific to fragmented competition based on global value chains.
  • Imposing the U.S. determined national security standards has led to only a handful of countries agreeing to ban Huawei for 5G technology.
  • The U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran that have affected India’s interests.
  • A different approach of China: It is based on “common interests” as different from the agreed goals of a negotiated treaty. BRI is an example of this.
  • It optimise not maximise the financial returns with countries remaining out of it.
  • The BRI offers the benefit of integration and connectivity with European markets to the member countries.

Potential of BRI

  • It acts as a strategic framework: It provides a strategic framework for new global institution building.
  • Its scope is as wide as multilateral treaties.
  • Internationalizing the Renminbi: With state-owned enterprises in the infrastructure sector in the sector in BRI and backing from national banks is internationalising the Renminbi.
  • Developing blockchain bases infrastructure: As a leader in digital transactions, China is developing blockchain-based infrastructure in BRI countries. Thus reducing the dependence on the dollar.

The shared interest of India and China

  • RCEP: China and the rest of the countries are eager that India joins the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is poised to become the largest trading block.
  • Security and border dispute: With the U.S. pivot to Asia, China is eager to resolve the dispute with India to avoid constraints.
  • Huawei: India has rejected American opposition to Huawei taking part in 5G trials, India allowed all applicants to participate.

    The emergence of new values

  • The emergence of the new order should not be seen through a western prism.
  • The triumvirate: India, the U.S., and China are intertwined with each other. China was the largest supplier of the goods to the U.S. in 2018 and it has been India’s major trading partner.
  • They take part in limited sectoral cooperation on a regional basis.
  • Both the U.S. and China have a regular high-level discussions on strategic issues with India.

    Area of future differences

  • In Asia, differences will center on overlapping priorities.
  • Security-The U.S.’s effort to maintain hegemony.
  • Economy-China’s emphasis on connectivity, markets, and growth.
  • An equitable and sustainable development-India-led framework of digital infrastructure designed as a public good.

   Conclusion

With the rise of India and China in Asia and the presence of the U.S. with them is going to make the new order centered around Asia a new reality in the near future.

Citizenship and Related Issues

[op-ed snap] The Indian Constitution’s unitary tiltop-ed snap

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2-The Constitution in favour of strong Centre


Context

The Centre-State conflict over CAA, and the Constitutional obligation on the state to implement the laws made by the Parliament, has once again brought to the fore the fault lines in the Indian federalism.

The opposition of the States to the Central law

  • Several state governments have declared that they would not implement the CAA.
  • Legislative Assembly of Kerala passed the resolution stating that the law contradicts the basic values.
  • The resolution is only symbolic.
  • Passage of such a resolution is not constitutionally barred.
  • But it may not be in tune with the federal scheme under the Constitution.

What are the obligations on the States?

  • Article 256 obligates the State governments to ensure the implementation of the laws made by Parliament.
  • The Centre may give such direction as may appear to be necessary to ensure compliance with the laws made by Parliament.
  • The refusal to enforce the law even after the Centre issues direction would empower the President to impose the President’s Rule in the State.
  • Neither the refusal to implement not the official protests registered by the States carry much legal force.
  • The Calcutta High Court directed the state government to remove anti-CAA advertisements from the website.
  • The High Court barred the state from campaigning against a parliamentary law.

The diminishing role of the Opposition

  • The parliament has been reduced to a site for procedural formalities.
  • There is a poor understanding of the role of the parliamentary Opposition in Indian politics.
  • Once the elections are over the Opposition is expected not to meddle in the governance.
  • The absence of Leader of Opposition in the Parliament for the last 6 years manifests this attitude.
  • Further, in the absence of the Opposition showing any resilience, national politics seems to be operating without a credible political check.

The unitary tilt of the Constitution

  • Single-party dominance at the Centre has always revealed the tendency of our Constitution to concentrate the power.
  • The concentration of power is embedded in the very structure of the Constitution.
  • A ‘centrist bias’ of the Constitution further augments the power of single-party dominance.
  • Against the backdrop of the fissiparous tendencies in the backdrop of partition, it was justified for the founders to be hesitant in favour of stronger federalism.

The rise of Electoral federalism

  • Change in voting patterns.
  • Over the last couple of years, there is huge vote swings between national and State elections in the same constituencies and separated by only a few months.
  • In other words, federalism is not a mere legal division of power, the democracy and voters too are becoming federal.
  • This embrace of electoral federalism may be one of the most significant achievements of Indian democracy.
  • Hence, parties that lose in national elections can still win State elections and form governments.
  • The State governments are thus filling the opposition deficit at the Centre.
  • This shift of opposition from Delhi to State capitals is likely to become the politics over federalism.

Conclusion

  • The conflict that CAA triggered might become a template for future contestations over the federal question, while the politics seem to be ripe for the advancement of federalism.

 

Goods and Services Tax (GST)

Explained: Voting at the GST CouncilExplainedPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GST Council

Mains level : Functioning of the GST Council


  • Breaking the tradition of consensus-based decisions in its 37 earlier meetings, the GST Council voted for the first time in its 38th meeting held on December 18.

GST Council voting rules

  • As per The Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016, in case of a voting, every decision of the GST Council has to be taken by a majority of not less than three-fourths of the weighted votes of the members present.
  • The vote of the central government has a weightage of one-third of the total votes cast, and the votes of all the state governments taken together have a weightage of two-thirds of the total votes cast in that meeting.
  • As of now, out of the total 30 states and UTs (excluding J&K), 20 are ruled by the NDA.
  • This essentially means that a vote in the Council could largely be an academic exercise — unless a number of the BJP’s allies switch sides.

Impacts of imbibing Voting

  • With the precedent of voting now established, consensus at the Council could be challenged again in the future.
  • The rules of voting in the GST Council are such that the odds are stacked in favour of the Centre in the normal course.
  • However, in case of a vote, any disagreements within the ruling coalition at the Centre may bring its support below the three-fourths majority that is needed for the passage of a decision.

Way Forward

  • Differences of opinion are likely to crop up on proposals to raise rates, especially of the lower slabs, in the future — a concern that made most states rule out an immediate rate hike in the last Council meeting, even as they were in agreement over a broader overhaul of the GST structure.
  • So far, even if states voiced their differences over a proposal in the Council, all decisions had been taken by consensus in the meetings of the GST Council.
  • With a departure from the consensus approach having been made, there could be more instances of voting exercises going forward — especially as revenue-raising measures come up in future meetings.

Back2Basics

GST Council

  • The GST Council is a federal body that aims to bring together states and the Centre on a common platform for the nationwide rollout of the indirect tax reform.
  • It is an apex member committee to modify, reconcile or to procure any law or regulation based on the context of goods and services tax in India.
  • The GST Council dictates tax rate, tax exemption, the due date of forms, tax laws, and tax deadlines, keeping in mind special rates and provisions for some states.
  • The predominant responsibility of the GST Council is to ensure to have one uniform tax rate for goods and services across the nation.

How is the GST Council structured?

  • The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is governed by the GST Council. Article 279 (1) of the amended Indian Constitution states that the GST Council has to be constituted by the President within 60 days of the commencement of the Article 279A.
  • According to the article, GST Council will be a joint forum for the Centre and the States. It consists of the following members:
  1. The Union Finance Minister will be the Chairperson
  2. As a member, the Union Minister of State will be in charge of Revenue of Finance
  3. The Minister in charge of finance or taxation or any other Minister nominated by each State government, as members.

Terms of reference

  • Article 279A (4) specifies that the Council will make recommendations to the Union and the States on the important issues related to GST, such as, the goods and services will be subject or exempted from the Goods and Services Tax.
  • They lay down GST laws, principles that govern the following:
  1. Place of Supply
  2. Threshold limits
  3. GST rates on goods and services
  4. Special rates for raising additional resources during a natural calamity or disaster
  5. Special GST rates for certain States
Coal and Mining Sector

FDI in coal miningPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : FDI

Mains level : Implication of FDI in coal sector


The Union Cabinet has approved an ordinance to amend two laws to ease mining rules, enabling foreign direct investment in coal mining.

About the Ordinance

  • At a Cabinet meeting chaired by PM the ordinance to amend the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 and the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 was approved.

Benefits of the proposed FDI

  • The decision would boost the ease of doing business and increase the growth avenues.
  • The Coal India would be strengthened and the government was aiming at achieving production of one billion tonnes by 2023-2024.
  • The “end-use restrictions” had been done away with allowing “anyone to participate in the auction of coal blocks”.
  • The ordinance would strengthen the auction process of those mines whose leases were expiring on March 31, 2020. Seamless transfer of clearances would also be facilitated.

Back2Basics

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

  • A FDI is an investment in the form of a controlling ownership in a business in one country by an entity based in another country.
  • It is thus distinguished from a foreign portfolio investment by a notion of direct control.
  • FDI are commonly made in open economies that offer a skilled workforce and above-average growth prospects for the investor, as opposed to tightly regulated economies.
  • FDI frequently involves more than just a capital investment. It may include provisions of management or technology as well.
Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

Lithium-Sulfur BatteryPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Lithium-Sulfur Battery

Mains level : Application of Li-S batteries in EVs


Researchers from Australia have claimed that they have developed the world’s most efficient lithium-sulfur (Li-S) battery, capable of powering a smartphone for five continuous days. With this equivalence, an electric car would be able to drive a distance of over 1,000 km in one charge.

What are Lithium-Sulfur Batteries?

  • Researchers who have developed this new Li-S battery claim it has an “ultra-high capacity” and has better performance and less environmental impact.
  • This means that they may be able to outperform the Li-ion batteries by more than four times.
  • With Li-ion batteries, some disadvantages include their susceptibility to overheating and their being prone to damage at high voltages.
  • Such batteries also start losing their capacity over time — for instance, a laptop battery in use for a few years does not function as well as a new one.

Construction

While the materials used in the Li-S batteries are not different from those in Li-ion batteries, the researchers have reconfigured the design of the sulfur cathodes (a type of electrical conductor through which electrons move) to accommodate higher stress without a drop in overall capacity.

Advantages of the Li-S batteries

  • Li-S batteries are generally considered to be the successors of the Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries because of their lower cost of production, energy efficiency and improved safety.
  • Their cost of production is lower because sulfur is abundantly available.
  • Even so, there have been some difficulties when it comes to commercialising these batteries, mainly due to their short life cycle and poor instantaneous power capabilities.

Why is this development important?

  • As the market share of electric vehicles (EV) is increasing and people are becoming more aware and conscious of global warming and climate change.
  • There is a need for development in terms of the kind of batteries used in these vehicles.
  • The growth of the EV market is linked to the development of batteries that are cost-effective, more efficient and leave a smaller environmental burden.
  • Today, most EV use Li-ion batteries, but are slowly reaching their theoretical limits of being able to provide roughly up to 300-watt hour per kilogram of energy.
  • Thus arises the need for batteries that can store more energy to run these cars, and Li-S batteries are considered to be a good alternative.

[pib] Mutual Legal AssistancePIB

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Mutual Legal Assistance


In furtherance to India’s policy of zero tolerance for crime and in an endeavor to fast track the dispensation of justice, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued Revised Guidelines for Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters.

Mutual Legal Assistance guidelines

  • They aim to enhance and streamline the process of international mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.
  • By incorporating various legal and technological developments in the recent years, it aims to make the documentation in this regard more precise and focused as well as compliant with International requirements.
  • The guidelines have also taken into account the concerns raised by various courts for prompt and timely responses in service of documents on persons residing abroad.
  • As an initiative, the revised guidelines have provision for service of documents on authorities of foreign country preferably within 10 days of receipt of request in respect of offences committed against women and children.

Why need Mutual Legal Assistance?

  • The transnational nature of crime and digital explosion has blurred geographical boundaries for criminal activities.
  • Availability of evidence and criminals outside the sovereign jurisdiction of countries has necessitated the transformation of scope and nature of conventional investigation.

MLA treaties

  • India has entered into Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties/ Agreements with 42 countries and is signatory to various international conventions i.e. UNCAC, UNTOC etc.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is the designated ‘Central Authority’ for India. Generally, assistance is sought and received in the form of Mutual Legal Assistance Requests/Letters.
Indian Navy Updates

[pib] Operation SankalpPIB

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Op Sankalp

Mains level : Safeguards against the ongoing turmoil in the Gulf


Indian Navy has commenced Maritime Security Operations, code named Op SANKALP, in the Gulf region to ensure safe passage of Indian Flag Vessels transiting through the Strait of Hormuz.

Op Sankalp

  • Indian Navy warships and aircraft were deployed to establish presence, provide a sense of reassurance to the Indian merchantmen, monitor the ongoing situation and respond to any emergent crises.
  • The operation is being progressed in close coordination with all stakeholders including Ministry of Defence, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Shipping, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and DG, Shipping.
  • The Navy continues to monitor the situation in the Gulf region and is maintaining presence in the region to ensure security of our sea borne trade and the safety of Indian Flag Merchant Vessels transiting through the region.
Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

Genome Sequencing of Cobra VenomPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Antivenom

Mains level : Genome sequencing and its applications


This week, an international team of researchers reported that they have sequenced the genome of the Indian cobra, in the process identifying the genes that define its venom.  This has provided a blueprint for developing more effective antivenom.

Big four in Snake bites

  • India alone accounts for about 50,000 deaths annually, and these are primarily attributed to the “big four”.
  • The challenge has been producing antivenom for the species known collectively as the “big four” — the Indian cobra (Naja naja), common krait (Bungarus caeruleus), Russell’s viper (Daboia russelii), and saw-scaled viper (Echis carinatus).
  • In India, common antivenom is marketed for the treatment of bites from the “big four”, but its effectiveness is questionable.
  • While the common antivenom worked as marketed against the saw-scaled viper and the common cobra, it fell short against some neglected species and also against one of the “big four” — the common krait.
  • Accidental contact with snakes leads to over 100,000 deaths across the world every year.

What is antivenom?

  • Antivenom is currently produced by a century-old process — a small amount of venom is injected into a horse (or a sheep), which produces antibodies that are then collected and developed into antivenom.
  • This is expensive, cumbersome and comes with complications. Some of the antibodies raised from the horse may be completely irrelevant.

Why has production of effective antivenom been challenging?

  • Venom is a complex mixture of an estimated 140-odd protein or peptides.
  • Only some of these constituents are toxins that cause the physiological symptoms seen after snakebite.
  • But antivenom available today does not target these toxins specifically.

Issues with present antivenom

  • The horse also has a lot of antibodies floating in its blood that have nothing to do with the venom toxins.
  • One more problem with horse antibodies — our immune system recognises it as foreign and when antivenom is given our body mounts an antibody response. This leads to what is called serum sickness.
  • Also, next time if one is unlucky and has a snakebite incident (even if it is a different snake) and they are given a horse-derived antivenom, the body is going to have a severe allergic reaction.

How does decoding the genome help?

  • In the Indian cobra genome, the authors identified 19 key toxin genes, the only ones that should matter in snakebite treatment.
  • They stress the need to leverage this knowledge for creation of antivenom using synthetic human antibodies.
  • Targeting these 19 specific toxins using synthetic human antibodies should lead to a safe and effective antivenom for treating Indian cobra bites.

Back2Basics

Genome Sequencing

  • Genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes.
  • Each genome contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism. In humans, a copy of the entire genome—more than 3 billion DNA base pairs—is contained in all cells that have a nucleus.
  • Genome sequencing is figuring out the order of DNA nucleotides, or bases, in a genome—the order of As, Cs, Gs, and Ts that make up an organism’s DNA.
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

Goldilocks ZonePrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Goldilocks Zone

Mains level : Not Much


NASA has reported the discovery of an Earth-size planet, named TOI 700 d, orbiting its star in the “habitable zone”.

Goldilocks Zone

  • A habitable zone, also called the “Goldilocks zone”, is the area around a star where it is not too hot and not too cold for liquid water to exist on the surface of surrounding planets.
  • Our Earth is in the Sun’s Goldilocks zone. If Earth were where the dwarf planet Pluto is, all its water would freeze; on the other hand, if Earth were where Mercury is, all its water would boil off.
  • Life on Earth started in water, and water is a necessary ingredient for life as we know it.
  • So, when scientists search for the possibility of alien life, any rocky exoplanet in the habitable zone of its star is an exciting find.

TOI 700 d

  • The newest such planet was found by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission, which it launched in 2018.
  • The star, TOI 700, is an “M dwarf” located just over 100 light-years away in the southern constellation Dorado, is roughly 40% of our Sun’s mass and size, and has about half its surface temperature.
  • The find was confirmed by the Spitzer Space Telescope, which sharpened the measurements that TESS had made, such as orbital period and size.
  • TOI 700 d measures 20% larger than Earth. It orbits its star once every 37 days and receives an amount of energy that is equivalent to 86% of the energy that the Sun provides to Earth.
History- Important places, persons in news

Person in news: Revolutionary Ashfaqullah KhanPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : HSRA

Mains level : HSRA and its revolutionary activities


The Uttar Pradesh cabinet has approved a proposal for a zoological garden spread across 121 acres in Gorakhpur, to be named after the freedom fighter and revolutionary Ashfaqullah Khan.

Ashfaqullah Khan

  • Khan was a freedom fighter who, along with Ram Prasad Bismil, was sentenced to death for the Kakori train robbery, commonly referred to as the Kakori conspiracy of 1925.
  • He was born on October 22, 1900, in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
  • He grew up at a time when Mahatma Gandhi had launched the non-cooperation movement and urged Indians not to pay taxes to the government or co-operate with the British.

Moved by NCM withdrawal

  • Within about 1.5 years of the movement’s launch, in February 1922, the Chauri Chaura incident took place in Gorakhpur — a large number of non-cooperation protestors clashed with the police and set the police station on fire, killing roughly 22 policemen.
  • Opposed to violence, Gandhi called off the movement.
  • The youth of the country were greatly disappointed and disillusioned with this. Khan was one among these youths.
  • Subsequently, he joined the revolutionaries and became acquainted with Bismil.

Ashfaqullah Khan and the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association

  • In the mid-1920s, Khan and Bismil went on to found the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA), with the aim of winning freedom for the country through an armed revolution.
  • HSRA published its manifesto titled “The Revolutionary” in 1925.
  • It held that the immediate object of the revolutionary party in the domain of politics is to establish a federal Republic of United State of India by an organized and armed revolution.
  • The final constitution of this Republic shall be framed and declared at a time when the representatives of India shall have the power to carry out their decision.
  • But the basic principles of this Republic will be universal suffrage and abolition of all system which make the exploitation of man by man possible, e.g. the railways, the mines and other industries such as the manufacture of steel and ships all these shall be nationalised.

The Kakori Conspiracy

  • In August 1925, an armed robbery took place on board the Kakori Express, going from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow, carrying money that had been collected at various railway stations and was to be deposited in Lucknow.
  • In this planned robbery, carried out to fund the activities of the HSRA, Bismil, Khan and over 10 other revolutionaries stopped the train and fled with the cash they found in it.
  • Within a month of the robbery, many members of the HSRA were arrested.
  • In September 1926, Bismil was arrested however Khan was on the run and was later arrested.
  • The trial for the case went on for about 1.5 years. It ended in April 1927, with Bismil, Khan, Rajendra Lahiri and Roshan Singh sentenced to death, and the others given life sentences.
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Epiphany festivalPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Epiphany Festival

Mains level : NA


The Epiphany festival was celebrated in parts of India, such as Goa and Kerala. In Goa, the celebration is known by its Portuguese name ‘Festa dos Reis’, and in parts of Kerala by its Syriac name ‘Denha’.

Epiphany or Three Kings’ Day

  • Epiphany is among the three oldest and major festival days in Christianity, the two others being Christmas and Easter.
  • It is celebrated on January 6 by a number of Christian sects, including Roman Catholics, and on January 19 by some Eastern Orthodox churches.
  • In the West, the duration between December 25 and January 6 is known as the Twelve Days of Christmas.
  • Epiphany is a feast day, or a day of commemoration, which in Christianity marks the visit of the Magi (meaning the Three Wise Men or Three Kings) to the Infant Jesus (Christ from his nativity until age 12).
  • According to Christian belief, the Magi — Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar (or Casper), the kings of Arabia, Persia, and India, respectively — followed a miraculous guiding star to Bethlehem to paid homage to the Infant Jesus.
  • The day also commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River.

Celebrations in India

  • In Goa, the Magi or Three Kings are called ‘Reis Magos’ in Portuguese.
  • The Reis Magos fort, and church, in Bardez, and the Three Kings Chapel in Cansaulim, get their name from the belief.
  • Communities in Bardez, Chandor, Cansaulim, Arossim, and Cuelim are known to celebrate Epiphany.
  • In Kerala, at the St. Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral in Piravom, ‘Denha’ is an important annual celebration, in which a big congregation takes part.