UPSC Prelims News of 1 October 2022
Context: The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has apprehended an individual carrying black cocaine.
About Black Cocaine
- Conversion: “Black cocaine” is a mixture of regular cocaine and other chemicals, in order to ensure that sniffer dogs used at airports do not detect contraband.
- It is being used by drug smugglers coming to India from South American countries.
- Mixture: Regular cocaine base is mixed with various substances to appear like other product (Ex: Charcoal), to interfere with colour-based drug tests.
- The mixture is undetectable by drug-sniffing dogs as activated carbon may sufficiently absorb trace odours.
- Extraction: The pure cocaine base is then extracted using common organic solvents such as methylene chloride or acetone.
- Another process will be required to convert the cocaine base into powdered cocaine hydrochloride.
Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB)
- NCB is an Indian central law enforcement and intelligence agency under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- It was created in 1986 under Section 4 (3) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.
- Coordination various Central and State Agencies involved in drug law enforcement;
- Assisting States to enhance their drug law enforcement effort;
- Collection and distribution of intelligence;
- Analysis of seizure data, study of trends and operations;
- Preparing National Drug Enforcement Statistics;
- Coordinate with International agencies such as UNDCP, INCB, INTERPOL, Customs Cooperation Council, RILO etc;
- National contact for intelligence and investigations.
Sapta Kosi High Dam
Context: India and Nepal have decided to take forward the Sapta Kosi high dam project through further studies.
About Sapta Kosi High Dam
- Sapta Kosi High Dam is a multipurpose project that will be constructed on the Saptakosi River of Nepal.
- The project will aim to control floods in south-east Nepal and northern Bihar and to generate hydropower.
- Proposed benefits:
- The citizens of both countries can carry out irrigation of land, regulate water transportation, practice aquaculture, and generate hydroelectricity using the water from the planned dam.
The Kosi River
- The Kosi is a trans-boundary river that flows through Tibet, Nepal and India. It is also known as Saptakoshi for its seven upper tributaries.
- The river branches into tributaries before joining Ganges in Bihar. The major tributaries of Kosi River in India are Kamala and Bagmati.
- Sedimentation: The river carries a large amount of sediments from its Himalayan basin and deposits them in terai and plains of Nepal and India.
- Floods: Due to heavy sedimentation, it changes its path frequently, and causes floods. It causes frequent floods in Bihar and is called ‘sorrow of Bihar’.
- Antecedent: The Kosi river is antecedent to the Himalayas, meaning that it had existed before them and has continues to maintain its original flow and pattern despite change in rock topography.
- Antecedent rivers such as Kosi create deep gorges in its path.
Sittanavasal Cave Temples
Context: The Sittanavasal Jain caves of Tamil Nadu are in dire need of conservation.
About the Caves
- The Sittanavasal area houses Arivar Kovil (temple of Arihants – Jains), ‘Ezhadipattam’ (a cave with 17 polished rock beds), megalithic burial sites and the Navachunai tarn (small mountain lake) with a submerged shrine.
- Sittanavasal is considered by historians to be a major centre of Jain influence. It is the only place in Tamil Nadu with Pandya paintings.
- This cave temple was built by Pallava King Mahendravarma (580–630 AD) before his conversion from Jainism to Hinduism.
- An inscription, however, credits restoration of caves to a Pandyan king, most likely Maran Sendan (654–670 AD) or Arikesari Maravarman (670–700 AD).
- The paintings on the ceilings of Arivar Kovil are an early example of post-Ajanta cave paintings (4th to 6th centuries).
- It was made using the fresco-secco technique (a process that avoids preparation of the wall with wet plaster).
- Themes of paintings:
- The ceiling paintings show ‘bhavyas’ (exalted souls who work to achieve moksha or spiritual liberation) enjoying themselves in a pool, consisting of blooming lotuses.
- There are faint outlines of dancing girls on the ‘ardha mandapam’ pillars.
- Materials used:
- Colours were made using a mixture of plant dyes and mineral elements such as lime, lamp black, and clay pigments like ochre for yellow and terre verte for the greyish-green tints.