UPSC Prelims News of 14 January 2023
Stupa at Nalanda
Context: Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has discovered two 1200-year-old miniature votive stupas near Sarai Tila mound within the premises of ‘Nalanda Mahavihara’.
- The votive stupas were offered in fulfilment of a vow. They were carved from stone and depict Buddha figures.
- These figures were popular during the 7th century CE in India, as an offering by Buddhist pilgrims visiting various holy sites and temples.
- Nalanda Mahavihara:
- It is a world heritage site in Bihar. The site comprises of archaeological remains of a monastic and scholastic institution dating from the 3rd century BCE to the 13th century CE.
- The site includes stupas, shrines, viharas (residential and educational buildings) and important artworks in stucco, stone and metal.
- Stupas are Buddhist commemorative monuments usually housing sacred relics associated with the Buddha or Buddhist monks or nuns.
- Sanchi Stupa is one of the most popular Buddhist Stupas in the world. It was commissioned during the time of Emperor Asoka.
Context: The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has notified comprehensive regulatory standards for Basmati Rice, Vide Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) First Amendment Regulations, 2023, for the first time in India.
- Basmati rice is a premium variety of rice cultivated in the Himalayan foothills of the Indian sub-continent and is universally known for its long grain size, fluffy texture and unique inherent aroma and flavour.
- Agro-climatic conditions of the specific geographical areas where Basmati rice is grown; as well as the method of harvesting, processing and ageing of the rice contributes to the uniqueness of Basmati rice.
- Being a premium quality rice and fetching a higher price, it is prone to various types of adulteration and hence the notified regulatory standards by FSSAI.
- The standards specified by FSSAI, are aimed at establishing fair practices in the trade of Basmati rice and protecting consumer interest, both domestically and globally.
Pongal- Festival Of Harvest
- Context: The ruling party and its allies in Tamil Nadu have skipped the Pongal festivities organized by the Raj Bhavan.
- Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated by the Tamil community at the beginning of Uttarayana (north-wards journey of the Sun).
- It is a celebration to thank the Sun, Mother Nature and the various farm animals that help to contribute to a good harvest.
- Pongal is celebrated over 4 days and also marks the beginning of the Tamil month called Thai, which is considered an auspicious month.
- The first day is called the Bhogi festival; the Second Thai Pongal; the Third Mattu Pongal; the Fourth day is called Kaanum Pongal.
- Pongal also refers to the name of the dish made and eaten during this festival. It is a mixture of boiled sweet rice. It is derived from the Tamil word pongu, which means “to boil over”.
- Celebrations in other states:
- Bhogali Bihu: Assam
- Makar Sankranti: Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha
- Uttarayan: Gujarat
- Lohri: Punjab and Haryana
- Poush songkranti: West Bengal
Sethu Samudhra Canal Project
Lanka, Tamil Nadu
- Context: The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has recently moved a resolution to revive the Sethu Samudhra Canal project, seeking help from the Centre.
- The project proposes to link Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka by creating a shipping canal.
- Project requirement
- Currently, ships coming from the west coast of India and other western countries with destinations on the east coast of India and also in Bangladesh, China, etc have to navigate around the Sri Lankan coast.
- The existing waterway is shallow and not sufficient for the movement of ships, due to the presence of a shallow region known as Adam’s Bridge, located southeast of Rameswaram near Pamban.
- Substantial savings for the shipping companies, exporters, importers and manufacturers.
- Channel will become an invaluable asset from a national defence and security point of view enabling easier and quicker access between the coasts.
- Fishermen will directly benefit due to the potential for the development of fishing harbours (between Nagapattinam and Tuticorin) with proper landing and storage facilities.
- Issues/Challenges associated
- Loss of Livelihood for people who depend on fishing in the waters where the canal will be dug.
- Seabed scooped from the straits will be dumped in deeper water out to sea, which would endanger a rich biosphere reserve with 400 endangered species, including sea turtles, dolphins, dugongs and whales.
- Environmentalists point out that a canal would also destroy the natural barrier between the Bay of Bengal and the shallower, calmer waters of Palk Bay.
Swadesh Darshan Project
Why in News? The Kerala Tourism department is likely to highlight Beypore ‘Uru’ in the detailed project report (DPR) to be submitted to the Centre for the Swadesh Darshan project.
- It is a Central Sector scheme launched in 2014-15 by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture for the integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits.
- It aims to promote, develop, and harness the potential of tourism in India.
- Under it, the Ministry of Tourism provides Central Financial Assistance to State Governments and Union Territory Administrations for the infrastructure development of circuits.
- It is envisioned to synergise with other schemes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill India, make in India etc.
White Tufted Royal Butterfly
Why in News? Recently, A team of butterfly observers and researchers have found White Tufted Royal Butterfly, a rare butterfly species at Kalliyad in Kannur.
- White Tufted Royal Butterfly is a rare species and is protected under Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act.
- The wingspan of the butterfly is just 32-40 mm.
- Its larvae feed on Scurrula parasitica, a plant belonging to the Loranthaceae family.
- The species had been previously spotted in Agasthyakoodam in 2017 and the Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary in 2018.
Why in News? Recently, Governor of Uttarakhand gave the nod to a Bill that gives 30% reservation to the native women of the State.
- It refers to the equal opportunity provided to other categories of beneficiaries such as women, veterans, the transgender community, and individuals with disabilities, cutting through the vertical categories.
- Article 15 (3) of the Constitution contemplates horizontal reservation.
- The horizontal quota is applied separately to each vertical category, and not across the board.
- For example, if women have a 50% horizontal quota, then half of the selected candidates will have to necessarily be women in each vertical quota category.
- Reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes is referred to as vertical reservation.
- It applies separately for each of the groups specified under the law.
- It comes under Article 15(3) of the Indian Constitution.
Why in News? Union Minister for Minority Affairs said that the Centre has done away with the discretionary Haj quota for pilgrims.
- The Haj is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the most sacred place for Muslims.
- Haj is supposed to be a mandatory religious duty for all adult Muslims physically and financially capable of doing so.
- The rites of pilgrimage are performed over five to six days, in Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar.
- Saudi Arabia allows country-wise quotas which determine the total number of pilgrims who can make a journey from a particular country.
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
Why in News? Recently, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights celebrated its 18th Foundation Day.
- The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) is a statutory body established under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005.
- It is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
- Under the act, a Child is defined as a person in the 0 to 18 years age group.
- It aims to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in harmony with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- This commission has a chairperson and six members of which at least two should be women.
- All of them are appointed by the Central Government for 3 years.
- The maximum age to serve in the commission is 65 years for Chairman and 60 years for members.
Why in News? Recently, the Prime Minister paid tributes to Rajmata Jijau on her Jayanti.
- Jijabai Bhonsle, referred to as Rajmata, Rastramata, Jijabai or Jijau, was the mother of Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha Empire.
- She was born to Mahalasabai Jadhav and Lakhuji Jadhav of Deulgaon, near Sindkhed, in present-day Maharashtra.
- Jijabai was married at an early age to Shahaji Bhosle.
- She also renovated Kevareshwar Temple and Tambadi Jogeshwari Temple.