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EBPG quota

Mains Paper 2 : Laws, Institutions & Bodies Constituted For The Vulnerable Sections |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EBPG Quota

Mains level : Reservations


News

EBPG Reservation

  • The Haryana government has withdrawn its quotas of posts kept reserved under the Economically Backward Persons in General Category (EBPG) and Backward Class (Block-C) in government jobs and state-run educational institutions.
  • The six castes – Jats, Jat Sikhs, Muslim Jats, Tyagis, Rors and Bishnois – that were included in backward class (Block-C) category were the beneficiaries of the scheme.

Why such move?

  • EBPG quota was withdrawn in view of reservation provided under the Economic Weaker Section (EWS) by the central government.
  • Since EWS reservation has come into effect, there was no requirement to continue with reservation of EBPG and such reservation is hereby withdrawn.
Minority Issues – Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Free transport for women in Delhi

Mains Paper 1 : Social Empowerment |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Women safety measures


News

  • Under a new proposal announced by the Delhi government, women will have the option to not pay for rides.
  • The move, which is at the stage of feedback and planning, has drawn various reactions.

Logic behind the move

  • The most common reason for any city incentivizing the use of public transport has been to tackle congestion on the roads.
  • The reasons given by the Delhi government are different.
  • One, to make it easier for women to move from informal and more unsafe modes of transport such as shared autos and cabs to more formal and safer modes such as the Metro.
  • Two, the government hopes that with women being able to travel for free, more of them, especially from the economically disadvantaged groups, would start working.

What’s so special with the move?

  • Globally, conversations around free public transport have revolved around decongestion and affordability, rather than safety.
  • One reason is that many of these experiments have been carried out in highly advanced Scandinavian countries with mostly safe public spaces and better reporting rates of crime against women.

Various Challenges

  • The proposal to make public transport free for women has no well known precedent anywhere in the world, and could be the first of its kind.
  • Studies on fully free public transport systems have underlined both positives and challenges.
  • In 1991, the Netherlands introduced a seasonal free-fare travel card for higher education students, which led to the share of trips made by students rising from 11% to 21%.
  • Fifty-two per cent of cyclists, and 34% of car users moved.
  • However, small European cities can hardly be an indicator for Delhi.
  • The population of all of the Netherlands is around 1.7 crore, much less than Delhi’s estimated 2 crore.
  • Average income levels are not comparable, and the public transportation system in Delhi is weaker than in most European countries.

Challenges of implementation

  • Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) is looking at special passes for women.
  • But the Metro has automated fare collection (AFC) gates that require tokens or Metro cards — the Metro will have to either isolate entry or exit points for women.
  • Along with safety on public transport, last mile connectivity is a big issue.
  • For women, walking to and from the nearest bus stop or Metro station, especially during the early mornings and late evenings, remains unsafe in many places in the city.

Way Forward

  • The challenge for the Delhi government is to find the funds for the project.
  • According to the Delhi government, the cost of subsidizing women’s travel will be around Rs 1,200 crore annually.
  • However, studies show that operational costs frequently rise in the long run, and schemes become increasingly less viable.
  • The West has done it to battle road congestion and pollution.
  • We haven’t really found a similar project in developing countries. But perhaps this will make us the pioneers.
Women empowerment issues: Jobs,Reservation and education

Gujarat launches India’s first Emission Trading Scheme

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Emission trading

Mains level : Curbing air pollution


News

  • Gujarat has launched India’s first trading programme to combat particulate air pollution on World Environment Day 2019, which has air pollution as its theme.

Gujarat Emission Trading Scheme (ETS)

  • The programme is a market-based system where the government sets a cap on emissions and allows industries to buy and sell permits to stay below the cap.
  • It is initiated by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB).
  • It was designed with the help of a team of researchers from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), the Economic Growth Center at Yale University and others.

Using Cap and Trade system

  • The government has set a cap on concentration of emissions for each industrial unit at 150 microgramme per cubic metre (ug/m3), which is the 24-hour average for emission standard set by the Central government for industrial units.
  • Globally, cap-and-trade systems have been used to reduce other forms of pollution, such as programmes that have successfully reduced sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the USA.
  • But the Gujarat programme is the first in the world to regulate particulate air pollution.

How actual trading happens?

  • Under the cap and trade system, the regulator first defines the total mass of pollution that can be put into the air over a defined period by all factories put together.
  • Then, a set of permits is created, each of which allows a certain amount of pollution, and the total is equal to the cap.
  • These permits are the quantity that is bought and sold.
  • Each factory is allocated a share of these permits (this could be equal or based on size or some other rule).
  • After this, plants can trade permits with each other, just like any other commodity on the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Limited (NCDEX).

Benefits of ETS

  • The reason for trading is that in a cap and trade market, the regulator will measure pollution over a period of time and industries must own enough permits to cover their total emissions.
  • Factories who find it very expensive to reduce pollution, will seek to buy more permits.
  • Those who can easily reduce pollution are encouraged to do so because then they have excess permits to sell.
  • Eventually, after buying and selling by plants that find it cheap to cut pollution and those for whom it is expensive, most pollution is taken care of.
  • Whatever the final allocation, the total number of permits does not change so the total pollution is still equal to the predefined cap. And yet the costs to industry are decreased.

Existing regulations

  • Under existing regulations, every industry has to meet a certain maximum concentration of pollutants when it is operating.
  • They are tested occasionally and manually (one or two times a year). However, there is widespread non-compliance across India.
  • This is partly because penalties are rarely applied, in large part because they involve punishments such as closing down the entire plant which is not necessarily appropriate for small violations.
Air Pollution

Ongole Cattle Breed

Mains Paper 3 : Economics Of Animal-Rearing |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ongole Cattle

Mains level : Promoting indigenous breeds for animal husbandry


News

  • The Vice-President has stressed for promoting Ongole cattle breed in a recent speech.

Ongole Cattle

  • Ongole cattle are an indigenous cattle breed that originates from Prakasam District in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
  • The breed derives its name from the place the breed originates from, Ongole.
  • The Ongole breed of cattle Bos Indicus, has a great demand as it is said to possess resistance to both foot and mouth disease and mad cow disease.

What’s so special about this breed?

  • Cattle breeders use the fighting ability of the bulls to choose the right stock for breeding in terms of purity and strength.
  • Ongole cattle are known for their toughness, rapid growth rate, and natural tolerance to tropical heat and disease resistance.
  • It was perhaps the first Indian breed of cattle to gain worldwide recognition.

Global Prominence

  • Ongole bulls have gone as far as America, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, Indonesia, West Indies, Australia, Fiji, Mauritius, Indo-China and Philippines.
  • The Brahmana bull in America is an off-breed of the Ongole.
  • The population of Ongole off-breed in Brazil is said to number several million.
  • The famous Santa Gertrudis breed developed in Texas, USA have Ongole blood.
  • It has gained global prominence, particularly in Brazil which imported barely hundred animals and produced multiple superior breeds like the world famous Zebu.

Used for Bull Fights

  • These cattle are commonly used in bull fights in Mexico and some parts of East Africa due to their strength and aggressiveness.
  • They also participate in traditional bull fights in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries Sector – Pashudhan Sanjivani, E- Pashudhan Haat, etc

‘Room for the River’ Project

Mains Paper 3 : Disaster Management |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Room for the River Project

Mains level : Flood control and management



News

  • The Kerala CM after returning from the Netherlands tour spoke of incorporating the model for flood control in the state’s ‘Rebuild Kerala’ plan.

‘Room for the River’ Project

  • The flagship project of the Dutch government is centered on protecting areas adjoining rivers from routine flooding and improving water management systems in delta regions.
  • The basic premise of the Dutch project is essentially to provide more space for the water body so that it can manage extraordinary high water levels during floods.
  • The project implemented at over 30 locations across the Netherlands and funded at a cost of 2.3 billion euros, involves tailor-made solutions for each river.
  • Among the nine measures which define the project are lowering the flood plain, deepening the summer bed, strengthening of dykes, relocation of dykes, reducing the height of the groynes, increasing the depth of the side channels and removing obstacles.
  • A key aspect of the project is also to improve the surroundings of the river banks through fountains and panoramic decks.
  • The landscapes are altered in a way that they turn into natural sponges which can accommodate excess water during floods.

Why such move?

  • Last year, Kerala had witnessed the century’s worst floods, which claimed nearly 500 lives and wiped out thousands of homes.
  • The Netherlands has historically been prone to flooding of rivers due to its low elevation. Much of the country lies below the sea level.
  • The country is located in the delta region of several major rivers like the Rhine, the Meuse and the Scheldt.
  • In fact, the rise of water levels in the sea and rivers due to the effects of climate change is one of the major challenges facing the Dutch.
  • But over the years, the country’s expert water management techniques and creation of independent local government bodies for flood control have borne praise across the world.
Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

New plants species with healing properties found in Manipur

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ZeliangrongTribes

Mains level : Utility of traditional knowledge of tribals


News

  • Scientists have identified new plants species in Manipur, whose medicinal or pharmacology properties were not known yet.

Traditional medicines of Zeliangrong Tribals

  • Scientists identified plants like Gynuracusimbua, Hedyotisscandens, Mussaendaglabra and Schimawallichii whose medicinal usage are reported for the first time and its pharmacological properties are not explored so far.
  • The researchers documented 145 medicinal plants that the healers use for treating 59 ailments.
  • They also found that the ethnic group used more than 40 species for treating more than one ailment.
  • In most cases, native healers were found using leaves as a primary ingredient in their formulation, owing to the year-round availability.
  • Additionally, they practice some uncommon methods such as using of guava leaves along with other medicinal plants for treating cold and fever.
  • Healers of this tribal group were also found using some rare and vulnerable species like Piperarunachalensis without being aware of the status of these plants.

About Zeliangrong ethnic group

  • Zeliangrong people are one of the major indigenous Naga communities living in the tri-junction of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland in India.
  • The term “Zeliangrong” refers to the Zeme, Liangmai and Rongmei Naga tribes combined together.
  • Earlier, the term also covered the Inpui tribe.
  • The proper noun Zeliangrong does not denote a tribe but, rather, a union of tribes or, rather, the apex tribe of three aforementioned tribes (Zeme Naga, Liangmai Naga, Rongmei Naga).
Tribes in News

Decision of Foreigners Tribunal Will Prevail Over NRC Order

Mains Paper 1 : Population & Associated Issues |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NRC

Mains level : Citizenship issue in Assam


News

  • The Supreme Court has held that a tribunal’s order declaring a person as an illegal foreigner would be binding and prevails over the government decision to exclude or include the name from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.

Decision of Foreigners Tribunal >> Govt. Decision

  • The judgment said that the principle of ‘res-judicata’ (a judicially decided issue cannot be re-agitated) would apply on the decision of foreigners tribunal.
  • A person who has been declared an illegal immigrant cannot seek re-decision in normal circumstances.
  • The bench distinguished between the decisions of NRC and of foreigners tribunals and said that the latter’s order being the quasi-judicial one would prevail.
  • The court, however, said the persons whose names are not included in the NRC in Assam can produce documents including the ones related to family tree and seek review of the tribunals decision.
  • The court had said that it cannot create an appellate forum for those, declared as illegal foreigners by a tribunal, by using its power under Article 142 of the Constitution.
Citizenship and Related Issues

Delhi’s Mohalla Clinics set to become a model for states

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mohalla Clinics

Mains level : Healthcare models in India



News

  • Started in 2015, Delhi’s Mohalla clinic initiative is set to be extended to several states, with Telangana, Karnataka, Jharkhand and J&K expressing interest in adopting the flagship project.
  • Sticking to the ‘Mohalla clinic’ name, state authorities are going to provide free treatment and diagnostic services at the centres.

Mohalla Clinics

  • They are primary health centres in the state of New Delhi, that offer a basic package of essential health services including medicines, diagnostics, and consultation free of cost.
  • Mohalla in Hindi means neighborhood or community.
  • These clinics serve as the first point of contact for the population, offer timely services, and reduce the load of referrals to secondary and tertiary health facilities in the state.

Health coverage

  • Every such clinic has a doctor, a technician for uploading patients’ Aadhaar card details and a lab assistant for collecting blood samples and disbursing medicines.
  • The clinics run from 8 am to 2 pm and doctors are paid on the basis of the number of patients they treat — each doctor gets Rs 30 per patient per day.
  • Around 100-200 patients visit these clinics on a daily basis. Each clinic is ideally supposed to cater to a 5-km radius with a population of 10,000-15,000.
  • New Delhi is soon going to add antenatal tests and immunisation at all these clinics. Our model is incentive-based in which remuneration is given to doctors on a per-patient basis.

An innovation for people

  • Delhi’s concept of providing free-of-cost diagnosis and medical services is encouraging patients to visit these clinics.
  • Last year, former secretary-general of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon, in his visit to mohalla clinics and polyclinics in the capital, had praised the systematic way in which primary healthcare services were provided to the poor.
  • The model is economically sound and offers basic services with no waiting period.
  • The Mohalla clinic is not just providing treatment but also redefining the doctor-patient relationship.

Masala Bonds

Mains Paper 3 : issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Masala Bond

Mains level : Masala Bond


News

Kerala state first to issue Masala bonds

  • The Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board issued Masala Bonds to raise funds from the overseas market.
  • It has become the first Indian state to tap into the market for masala bonds.
  • The proceeds from the bond issue are slated to be used to part-finance the rebuilding of infrastructure in Kerala that was devastated by last year’s floods.

Masala Bonds

  • They are rupee-denominated bonds i.e the funds would be raised from overseas market in Indian rupees.
  • According to RBI, any corporate, body corporate and Indian bank is eligible to issue Rupee denominated bonds overseas.
  • While companies can raise funds through these bonds, there are limitations for the use of such proceeds.
  • RBI mandates that the money raised through such bonds cannot be used for real estate activities other than for development of integrated township or affordable housing projects.
  • It also can’t be used for investing in capital markets, purchase of land and on-lending to other entities for such activities as stated above.

Minimum maturity of masala bonds

  • According to RBI, the minimum maturity period for Masala Bonds raised up to Rupee equivalent of USD 50 million in a financial year should be 3 years.
  • And for bonds raised above USD 50 million equivalents in INR per financial year should be 5 years.
  • The conversion for such bonds will happen at the market rate on the date of settlement of transactions undertaken for issue and servicing of the bonds, including its redemption.

Where can these bonds be issued and who can subscribe?

  • The bonds can only be issued in a country and subscribed by a resident of such country that is a member of FATF and whose securities market regulator is a member of International Organisation of Securities Commission.
  • While residents of such countries can subscribe to the bonds, it can also be subscribed by multilateral and regional financial institutions where India is a member country.
Capital Markets: Challenges and Developments

National Institute of Nutrition

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NIN

Mains level : NIN and its mandate



News

  • The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) has said that it stands by its findings certifying mid-day meals without onion and garlic provided by the Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF) in Karnataka schools as compliant with nutritional norms laid down by the State government.

Issue over NIN decision

  • APF provides food under the government’s mid-day meals programme at 2,814 schools in the State.
  • Absence of onion and garlic from meals made the food unpalatable and resulted in children consuming less quantity of food.
  • The issue is not just about absorption of nutrients, but is also about the food not being as per local tastes.
  • The most important question that authorities are glossing over is why not provide onion and garlic, which are available all round the year and are cheaper than other ingredients.

About NIN

  • The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) is an Indian Public health, Nutrition and Translational research center located in Hyderabad.
  • The institute is one of the oldest research centers in India, and the largest center, under the Indian Council of Medical Research, located in the vicinity of Osmania University.
  • It was founded by Sir Robert McCarrison in the year 1918 as ‘Beri-Beri’ Enquiry Unit in a single room laboratory at the Pasteur Institute, Coonoor, Tamil Nadu.
  • Within a short span of seven years, this unit blossomed into a “Deficiency Disease Enquiry” and later in 1928, emerged as full-fledged “Nutrition Research Laboratories” (NRL) with Dr. McCarrison as its first Director.
  • It was later shifted to Hyderabad in 1958.
  • At the time of its golden jubilee in 1969, it was renamed as National Institute of Nutrition (NIN).

Mandate of NIN

  • Periodic Assessment of Nutrient intakes, Health and Nutrition status of the population for optimal health, and assist the Government and regulatory bodies in policy making
  • Establishment of Dietary Reference Intake values, Recommended Dietary allowances, Dietary guidelines for Indian population; and assessment of Nutrient Composition of Foods
  • Identify various nutrition deficiency disorders prevalent among different segments of the population
  • Conduct operational research for planning and implementation of National Nutrition Programmes in the country
  • Conduct surveys and study the risk factors of NCDs through multidisciplinary research
  • Conduct innovative basic science Research on nutrient interactions, requirements, responses etc
  • Identify and study food and environmental safety challenges for providing scientific input for policy and regulation
  • Development of human resource in nutrition and also provide evidence-based nutrition knowledge to the community
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Person in news: Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

Mains Paper 1 : Modern Indian History |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

Mains level : Social reforms in Colonial India



News

Context

  • Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was the 19th century intellectual giant whose bust was vandalized by some political goons in Kolkata.
  • However he was perhaps the first Indian reformer to put forward the issues of women.
  • Vidyasagar’s Bengali primer, Borno Porichoy, remains, more than 125 years after his death in 1891, the introduction to the alphabet for nearly all Bengali children.
  • Michael Madhusudan Dutt, the 19th century pioneer of Bengali drama, described Vidyasagar as having “the genius and wisdom of an ancient sage, the energy of an Englishman and the heart of a Bengali mother”.

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

  • One of Bengal’s towering cultural icons, and among the greatest personalities of the Bengal Renaissance, Vidyasagar was a polymath who reconstructed the modern Bengali alphabet and initiated pathbreaking reform in traditional upper caste Hindu society.
  • He studied Sanskrit grammar, literature, Vedanta philosophy, logic, astronomy, and Hindu law for more than 12 years at Sanskrit College in Calcutta, and received the title of Vidyasagar — Ocean of Learning — at the age of just 21.
  • Privately, he studied English literature and philosophy and was appointed principal of Sanskrit College on January 22, 1851. He was all of 31 years old then.

Reforms by Ishwar Chandra

I. Widow Remarriage

  • The focus of his social reform was women — and he spent his life’s energies trying to ensure an end to the practice of child marriage and initiate widow remarriage.
  • He followed in the great reformist tradition of Raja Ram Mohun Roy (1772-1833), and argued, on the basis of scriptures and old commentaries, in favour of the remarriage of widows in the same way as Roy did for the abolition of Sati.
  • His earliest effort at social reform, however, came in the second half of 1850 when, in a paper on the evils of child marriage.
  • He launched a powerful attack on the practice of marrying off girls aged 10 or even younger, pointing to social, ethical, and hygiene issues, and rejecting the validity of the Dharma Shastras that advocated it.
  • He showed that there was no prohibition on widows remarrying in the entire body of ‘Smriti’ literature (the Sutras and the Shastras).

II. Campaign against polygamy

  • Alongside the campaign for widow remarriage, he campaigned against polygamy.
  • In 1857, a petition for the prohibition of polygamy among Kulin Brahmins was presented to the government with 25,000 signatures, led by the Maharaja of Burdwan.
  • The mutiny of the sepoys resulted in the postponement of action on this petition, but in 1866, Vidyasagar inspired another petition, this time with 21,000 signatures.
  • In the 1870s, the great rationalist, wrote two brilliant critiques of polygamy, arguing to the government that since polygamy was not sanctioned by the sacred texts, there could be no objection to suppressing it by legislation.

Impact of his reformist zeal

  • Vidyasagar’s first pamphlets in Bengali on widow remarriage created a tremendous stir in Hindu society.
  • Two thousand copies were sold out in a week, and a reprint of another 3,000 copies also did not last.
  • These were unprecedented sales figures for a book at that time.
  • On October 14, 1855, Vidyasagar presented a petition to the Government of India praying for early passing a law to remove all obstacles to the marriage of Hindu widows and to declare the issue of all such marriages to be legitimate.

Fruitful outcomes

  • On July 16, 1856, The Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act, known as Act XV, was passed.
  • Inspired by Vidyasagar, a number of literary men produced dramas advocating the remarriage of widows, both in Bengal and elsewhere.
  • In 1864, Jyotiba Phule succeeded in persuading a Saraswat Brahmin widow to remarry.
  • In 1866 Vishnu Shastri Pandit translated Vidyasagar’s book on widow remarriage into Marathi.
History- Important places, persons in news

Graphite mining in Arunachal Pradesh

Mains Paper 3 : Effects Of Liberalization On The Economy, Changes In Industrial Policy and their effects on Industrial Growth |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Graphite and its properties

Mains level : India-China Border Issues


News

  • Arunachal Pradesh has asked the Geological Survey of India (GSI) to explore the possibility of surveying and drilling for minerals along the India-China border.

What is Graphite?

  • Graphite is a naturally-occurring form of crystalline carbon.
  • It is a native element mineral found in metamorphic and igneous rocks.
  • It is extremely soft, cleaves with very light pressure, and has a very low specific gravity.
  • It is the only non-metal element that is a good conductor of electricity.
  • It is also known as a dry lubricant for its greasy feel.

Why mine in Arunachal?

  • Beijing is carrying out “massive” mining activities very close to the border in the Tibet Autonomous Region.
  • Arunachal could be the leading producer of graphite, going a long way in cutting down India’s import of the mineral.

Arunachal holds highest deposits of graphite

  • The GSI presented the status of mineral deposits in Arunachal Pradesh at the meeting.
  • Data showed that the State has 35% of the total graphite reserves in India – the highest in the country.
  • The GSI’s 2013 report showed Arunachal Pradesh sits on 43% of the country’s graphite resources followed by Jammu & Kashmir (37%), Jharkhand (6%), Tamil Nadu (5%), and Odisha (3%).
  • But in terms of resources, Tamil Nadu led with 37% followed by Jharkhand with 30% and Odisha with 29%.
Coal and Mining Sector

Lakshadweep recruits Barn Owls to fight rodent menace

Mains Paper 3 : Economics Of Animal-Rearing |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Barn Owls

Mains level : Not Much


News

  • With a thriving rat population playing havoc with its coconut yield, the UT of Lakshadweep hires barn owls for help.

What is barn?

  • A barn is an agricultural building usually on farms and used for various purposes.
  • It refers to structures that house livestock, including cattle and horses, as well as equipment and fodder, and often grain.

Recruiting barn owls

  • Coconut is an important money-spinner for the islands, but the pesky rodents account for 30-40% of the yield loss.
  • However, employing owls to hunt down rats is not exactly a new idea for the islanders.
  • Similar attempts were reportedly made in the 1960s as well.
  • The birds were reintroduced in the 19th century for rodent management.

Why barn owls?

  • The reason is that the rats in the Lakshadweep Islands practically live on treetops.
  • The coconut palms here grow so close together that they resemble a jungle. The fronds overlap, allowing the rodents to move easily from one tree to another.
  • Besides, the nocturnal barn owls are natural rat hunters, armed with a powerful auditory mechanism.
  • There is also an important environmental angle to Lakshadweep’s decision to choose biocontrol.
  • The islands being a designated organic zone, use of chemicals for pest control is a strict no-no.
  • If successful, the barn owl campaign will be extended to other islands in Lakshadweep as well.

Rare life-size stucco figurine unearthed in Telangana

Mains Paper 1 : Arts & Culture |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ikshavaku dynasty, Stucco

Mains level : Ancient Buddhist art


News

  • Archaeologists in Telangana have unearthed a rare treasure in the form of a life-sized stucco sculpture from a Buddhist site at Phanigiri.

What is stucco?

  • Stucco is a material made of aggregates, a binder, and water. Stucco is applied wet and hardens to a very dense solid.
  • It is used as a decorative coating for walls and ceilings, and as a sculptural and artistic material in architecture.
  • Stucco may be used to cover less visually appealing construction materials, such as metal, concrete, cinder block, or clay brick and adobe.

About the Bodhisattva statue

  • It is the biggest stucco sculpture found in the country so far.
  • The life-size figurine found in the excavations is thought to represent one of Bhodhisattva in Jathaka Chakra.
  • The stucco is about 1.73 metres in height and 35 cm in width, thus the biggest stucco sculpture found in the country so far
  • Apart from the life-sized stucco, these excavations brought to light a Mahastupa, apsidal chaitya grihas, votive stupas, pillared congregation halls, viharas, platforms with staircases at various levels.
  • It also had sculptural panels with Brahmi inscriptions, belonging to Satavahana period from first century BC, continued with Mahayana till the end of Ikshvaku period and others in third-fourth century AD.

About Ikshvaku Dynasty

  • The Ikshvaku dynasty, in Puranic literature, was a dynasty founded by the legendary king Ikshvaku. The dynasty is also known as Sūryavaṁśa (the Solar dynasty).
  • Lord Rama belonged to the Ikshavaku dynasty.
  • Twenty-two out of the twenty-four Jain Tirthankara belonged to this dynasty.
  • Rishabha is present in both Hindu as well as Jain mythology. Both refers to the same person.
  • According to the Buddhist texts, Prince Siddhartha belonged to this dynasty.
  • The Buddhist text, Mahavamsa traces the origin of the Shakyas to king Okkaka (Pali equivalent to Sanskrit Ikshvaku) and gives their genealogy from Mahasammata, an ancestor of Okkaka.
Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Kashmir Stag (Hangul)

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kashmir Stag (Hangul)

Mains level : Not Much


News

  • A massive decline in the population of Kashmir’s iconic wildlife species, the Hangul (Cervus hanglu hanglu), also known as the Kashmir stag, continues to be a big concern.

Kashmir Stag (Hangul)

  • Hangul, the state animal of Jammu & Kashmir, is restricted to the Dachigam National Park some 15 km north-west of Jammu & Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar.
  • The Hangul is placed under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and the J&K Wildlife Protection Act, 1978.
  • The Hangul was once widely distributed in the mountains of Kashmir and parts of Chamba district in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh.
  • The IUCN’s Red List has classified it as Critically Endangered and is similarly listed under the Species Recovery Programme of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the Environmental Information System (ENVIS) of the MoEFCC.

Why is Hangul crucial?

  • From a population of 5,000 in the early 1900s, the Hangul’s numbers have constantly declined over the decades.
  • The Hangul is considered equally significant to the state of Jammu & Kashmir as the tiger is to the whole of India.
  • It is the only Asiatic survivor or sub-species of the European red deer. But the state animal’s decreasing population remains a big concern.
  • According to the latest survey in 2017, the population of Hangul is 182 in Dachigam and adjoining areas. Earlier population estimates suggest that there were 197 deer in 2004 and 186 in 2015.
  • The IUCN Red Data Book — which contains lists of species at risk of extinction — has declared the Hangul as one of three species that were critically endangered in J&K.
  • The other two are the Markhor — the world’s largest species of wild goat found in Kashmir and several regions of central Asia — and the Tibetan antelope or ‘Chiru’.

Various threats

  • The biggest challenges which have been identified by experts in the way of conservation and population growth of Hangul are habitat fragmentation, predation and very low fawn-female ratio.
  • Lack of desirable breeding and fawn survival is a grave concern for the population growth.
  • Another challenge is the male-female and fawn-adult disparity in the Hangul population.
  • Influx of livestock herds of nomadic communities in the Dachigam National Park has been a challenge for years.
  • After the closing down of their traditional routes leading to over a dozen alpine pastures (in Gurez) by the army after the inception of armed conflict in Kashmir, nomads have not been able to graze their herds in those pastures.
  • So, they are taking their large herds of livestock to the upper reaches of Dachigam during summers.
  • Other dangers for the Hangul population include excessive predation of fawns by the Common Leopard, the Himalayan Black Bear and nomads’ dogs.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

LG’s role in Puducherry

Mains Paper 2 : Federalism |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : LG: Powers and Functions

Mains level : LG of Puducherry vs. LG of Delhi


News

  • The Madras High Court has that the Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) of Puducherry could not interfere with the day-to-day administration of the Union Territory when an elected government was in place.
  • The court said incessant interference from the L-G would amount to running a “parallel government.”

What did the court say?

  • The Central government as well as the Administrator [the term used in the Constitution to refer to the Lieutenant-Governor] should be true to the concept of democratic principles.
  • Otherwise, the constitutional scheme of the country of being democratic and republic would be defeated.
  • The judge made it clear that government secretaries were bound to take instructions from the ministers concerned and the Council of Ministers, headed by the CM, besides reporting to them on official matters.
  • The secretaries are not empowered to issue orders on their own or upon the instructions of the Administrator.

There lies a difference: Delhi and Puducherry

  • The court also went on to point out the differences between the powers conferred on the legislatures of Puducherry and Delhi under Articles 239A and 239AA of the Constitution.
  • The court said though Article 239AA imposes several restrictions on the legislature of Delhi, no such restrictions had been imposed explicitly in the case of Puducherry under Article 239A.
  • While the LG of Delhi is also guided by the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, and the Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules, 1993, the LG of Puducherry is guided mostly by the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963.

Back2Basics

LG of Puducherry Vs. LG of Delhi

  • The LG of Delhi enjoys greater powers than the LG of Puducherry.
  • The LG of Delhi has “Executive Functions” that allow him to exercise his powers in matters connected to public order, police and land “in consultation with the Chief Minister.
  • Under the constitutional scheme, the Delhi Assembly has the power to legislate on all subjects except law and order and land.
  • However, the Puducherry Assembly can legislate on any issue under the Concurrent and State Lists.
  • However, if the law is in conflict with a law passed by Parliament, the law passed by Parliament prevails.
Delhi Full Statehood Issue

Ishad Mango is under the threat of becoming rare

Mains Paper 3 : Food Processing & Related Industries In India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ishad Mango

Mains level : Not Much


News

  • A local mango variety called Ishad is facing the threat of becoming rare in its homeland, Ankola of Uttara Kannada district.

Ishad Mango

  • The mango has two variants — Kari Ishad, which has thin skin, more pulp and is sweeter, and Bili Ishad, which has thick skin and has less pulp and sweetness.
  • Some farmers did try to grow it outside Ankola taluk, but failed.
  • It is delicate to handle given its short shelf life. Hence, the fruit cannot be transported to faraway places.
  • The pulp of this mango has been extracted for over a century for making value-added products.
  • Oriental Canneries and Industries set up a unit in Ankola in 1908 to extract pulp from Ishad for making value-added products.
  • The then Bombay government supported it by supplying wood.
  • The pulp is used for making 48 recipes. It was being used in the United States, Australia and Sri Lanka.

Khasi ‘kingdoms’ to revisit 1947 agreements

Mains Paper 2 : Federalism |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Khasi Kingdom, Himas

Mains level : Reorganisation of States in India


News

  • A federation of 25 Himas or Khasi kingdoms that have a cosmetic existence today has planned to revisit the 1948 agreements that made present-day Meghalaya a part of India.

Concerns of Khasis

  • The revisiting is aimed at safeguarding tribal customs and traditions from Central laws in force or could be enacted, such as the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
  • The bill is one of the factors in move to strengthen the Federation of Khasi States that were ruled by a Syiem (king-like head of a Hima).
  • Himas are expecting to come to a conclusion on how best it can insulate their customs and traditions from overriding central rules and policies.
  • The Constitution has provided self-rule to a considerable extent through tribal councils, there has been an increasing demand for giving more teeth to the Khasi states.

History of Khasi Merger in India

  • During the British rule, the Khasi domain was divided into the Khasi states and British territories.
  • At that time, the British government had no territorial right on the Khasi states and they had to approach the chiefs of these states if they needed land for any purpose.
  • After independence, the British territories became part of the Indian dominion but the Khasi states had to sign documents beginning with the Standstill Agreement that provided a few rights to the states.
  • The 25 Khasi states had signed the Instrument of Accession and Annexed Agreement with the Dominion of India between December 15, 1947, and March 19, 1948.
  • The conditional treaty with these states was signed by Governor General C. Rajagopalachari on August 17, 1948.

Back2Basics

Statehood to Meghalaya

  • Meghalaya was formed by carving out two districts from the state of Assam: the United Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills, and the Garo Hills on 21 January 1972.
  • Before attaining full statehood, Meghalaya was given semi-autonomous status in 1970.
  • The Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia tribes had their own kingdoms until they came under British administration in the 19th century.
  • Later, the British incorporated Meghalaya into Assam in 1835.
  • The region enjoyed semi-independent status by virtue of a treaty relationship with the British Crown.
  • At the time of Indian independence in 1947, present-day Meghalaya constituted two districts of Assam and enjoyed limited autonomy within the state of Assam.
  • A movement for a separate Hill State began in 1960.
  • The Assam Reorganisation (Meghalaya) Act of 1969 accorded an autonomous status to the state of Meghalaya.
  • The Act came into effect on 2 April 1970, and an autonomous state of Meghalaya was born out of Assam.
  • In 1971, the Parliament passed the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganization) Act, 1971, which conferred full statehood on the autonomous state of Meghalaya.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Explained: When J&K had its own PM and Sadr-e-Riyasat

Mains Paper 2 : Federalism |

News

  • Recent statements some politicians have brought the spotlight on two erstwhile positions in Jammu and Kashmir — J&K Prime Minister and Sadr-e-Riyasat (President of the state).

J&K Prime Minister

  • J&K had its own Prime Minister and Sadr-e-Riyasat until 1965, when the J&K Constitution was amended (Sixth Constitution of J&K Amendment Act, 1965) by the then Congress government.
  • It replaced the two positions with Chief Minister and Governor respectively.
  • The first PM of J&K, appointed by Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh, was Sir Albion Banerjee (1927-29).

GoT in J&K

  • The state had nine more PMs before Independence. The first after Independence was Mehr Chand Mahajan (October 1947-March 1948).
  • He was replaced with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, who until then had been Head of the Administration.
  • The next two J&K Prime Ministers were Khwaja Shamsuddin (1963-64) and Congress leader Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq (until March 30, 1965).
  • It was during Sadiq’s tenure that the Centre replaced the two posts. In fact, Sadiq became the first Chief Minister of J&K, serving until December 1971.

Sadr-e-Riyasat

  • The J&K Constitution was adopted on November 17, 1956 but came into effect only on January 26, 1957.
  • On June 10, 1952, the “Basic Principles Committee” appointed by the J&K Constituent Assembly recommended that “the institution of hereditary rulership shall be terminated” and “the office of the head of the State shall be elective”.
  • The Constituent Assembly resolved that the head of state, named Sadr-e-Riyasat, would be elected by the Legislative Assembly for a term of five years and recognised by the President of India.
  • The Centre did not agree initially because it “impinged upon the provisions of Article 370” where the Maharaja, acting on the advice of the council of ministers, was recognised as the head of state.
  • After negotiations, the matter was resolved on July 24, 1952, when New Delhi agreed to allow J&K to recognise an elected Sadr-e-Riyasat instead of an appointed Governor.
  • Only a permanent resident of J&K could become Sadr-e-Riyasat. Once elected by the Legislative Assembly, the Sadr-e-Riyasat had to be recognised and then appointed by the President of India.

The amendment

  • The Sixth Amendment to the J&K Constitution, carried out in 1965, made a fundamental change to its basic structure.
  • Under Section 147, an amendment is to be assented by the Sadr-e-Riyasat after a Bill is passed by a two-thirds majority of the House, while Section 147 itself cannot be amended by the state legislature, and neither can an amendment that changes the provisions of Constitution of India as applicable in relation to J&K.
  • Sadr-e-Riyasat, however, was replaced with Governor across the J&K Constitution, except in Section 147 which could not be amended.
  • This has led to the existence of two kinds of heads of state in the Constitution — Sadr-e-Riyasat as well as Governor.
  • In 1975, a Presidential Order issued under Article 370 barred the J&K Legislature from making any change to the J&K Constitution regarding appointment and powers of the Governor.
J&K – The issues around the state

2 West Bengal govt schemes win UN awards

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Utkarsh Bangla, Sabooj Sathi Schemes

Mains level : Not Much


News

  • Two schemes of the West Bengal government for skill development and distribution of bi-cycles to students have won the prestigious World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) awards of the United Nations.
  • The schemes are “Utkarsh Bangla” and “Sabooj Sathi”.
  • The WB government had received another UN award in 2017 for its ‘Kanyashree’ project, a targeted conditional cash transfer scheme aimed at promoting education among girls.

Utkarsh Bangla

  • The “Utkarsh Bangla” project aims at creating a pool of skilled candidates who are industry ready.
  • It is meant especially for school dropouts.
  • Out of 1062 nominations in 18 categories, Utkarsh Bangla got the topmost award and emerged a winner in Capacity Building category.

Sabooj Sathi

  • Sabooj Sathi is a scheme for distribution of bi-cycles to estimated 40 lakh students of class IX to XII studying in Govt. run and Govt. aided Schools and Madrashas.
  • The scheme was launched in September 2015.

ABout WSIS

  • WSIS Prizes is an international contest to create an effective mechanism to evaluate and recognise individuals, governments and private bodies for outstanding success in implementing development oriented strategies that leverage the power of ICTs as an enabler of the development.
  • The contest, organised by the WSIS in Geneva, was first held in 2012.
Skilling India – Skill India Mission,PMKVY, NSDC, etc.