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Daily Current Affairs

18-September-2023

Daily Current Affairs For UPSC ,Daily Current affairs of The hIndu and Indian Express.

1. Project Cheetah Overview: One Year Later

Topic: GS3 – species reintroduction.

Context:

  • Project Cheetah aims to establish viable cheetah populations in India, enabling them to function as top predators and expand within their historical range, contributing to global conservation efforts.

Project Status:

  • 20 adult African cheetahs imported: First batch arrived on September 17, 2022, followed by another batch on February 18, 2023.
  • Cheetahs underwent prolonged quarantine periods.
  • Release into the wild was delayed; only 12 out of 20 cheetahs were released.
  • Six cheetahs died, including four in captivity and two in the wild.
  • Four adult cheetahs remain unreleased, and three of four cubs have died.
  • Surviving cheetahs are in captivity, with potential plans for re-release in the winter.
  • New release sites like Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary and Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary are considered.

Cheetah Mortalities and Causes

  • Multiple reasons attributed to cheetah deaths, including renal conditions, mating attempts, heatwave, and cardio-pulmonary failure.
  • Questions raised about the decision to bring a sick cheetah into the project.
  • Deaths of cubs born in captivity raise concerns about early mating attempts. 

Were Mortalities Expected?

  • Mortalities in captivity and among cubs during different seasons were not anticipated or planned.
  • Project authorities have changed mortality rate references, potentially to justify unexpected deaths.

Impact on Conservation and Lessons Learned

  • Project Cheetah diverted attention and resources from other conservation projects, such as Great Indian Bustard and Asiatic lion translocation.
  • Using cheetahs to conserve grasslands and ecosystems has limitations.
  • Focus should shift to creating high-quality habitats before importing more cheetahs.
  • Wider consultation and transparency in project planning and execution are needed.

2. Army likely to induct 114 Dhanush guns by 2026, say officials

Topic: GS3 – defence modernisation.

Context:

  • The Indian Army has ordered 114 Dhanush artillery guns, with one regiment already operational, and expects to receive all the guns by 2026.

More information about the news:

  • Dhanush is a 155-mm, 45-caliber towed artillery gun with a range of 36 km, extendable to 38 km with specialized ammunition.
  • The Army aims to increase the range of the Pinaka Multi-Rocket Launch Systems (MRLS) and is collaborating with the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) on this project.
  • The Pralay surface-to-surface quasi-ballistic missile is in advanced stages of induction.
  • The Army has four Pinaka regiments and six more on order, with plans to enhance their range and configurations.
  • A Pinaka Area Denial Munition rocket system has been developed, and Pinaka with a range of 120 km is under development.

3. Activists raise concern over Bill for appointing CEC, ECs

Topic: GS2 – Indian polity

Context:

  • Activists and civil society members have raised concerns about the autonomy of India’s Election Commission if the contentious Bill related to the appointment of Election Commissioners (ECs) is passed.

Why in the news?

  • The Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023, proposes that the selection panel for appointing the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and the ECs will consist of the Prime Minister as the Chairperson, the Leader of the Opposition as a member, and a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister as another member.
  • Earlier, the Supreme Court had ruled that the selection panel should comprise the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and the Chief Justice of India (CJI). However, this procedure was to be followed only until Parliament enacted a law.
  • Concerns have been raised that the inclusion of a Cabinet Minister instead of the CJI would lead to the selection committee being controlled by the government.
  • Critics argue that the Bill is unconstitutional and could be challenged in the Supreme Court as it violates democracy.
  • While the Bill has raised anxieties about the Election Commission’s independence, it’s noted that Indian elections have been generally free and fair, even before the Supreme Court ruling.

4. Santiniketan finds its place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Topic: GS1 – Indian art and culture

Context:

  • Santiniketan, a town established by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in West Bengal, has been added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

What is in the news?

  • Santiniketan, which means “abode of peace,” began taking shape in 1901 and is the place where Tagore founded Visva-Bharati University.
  • It becomes India’s 41st World Heritage Site to join the UNESCO List.
  • The dossier proposing Santiniketan’s inclusion highlights its cultural and architectural significance.
  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has been involved in the restoration of several structures in Santiniketan in recent years.

Note: for more details on the news – please refer PIB 18 September 2023.

5. Santiniketan on UNESCO’s World Heritage List

Topic:GS1-art and culture, prelims

Context:

  • Rabindranath Tagore’s Santiniketan, the university town in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, has been inscribed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Details:

  • Santiniketan becomes the 41st UNESCO World Heritage Site in India and the third in West Bengal, after the Sundarbans National Park and the Darjeeling Mountain Railways.
  • Last year, the state’s Durga Puja got space in “Intangible Cultural Heritage of humanity” under UNESCO

About Santiniketan:

  • Established in 1901 by the Nobel Laureate, Santiniketan was a residential school and centre for art based on ancient Indian traditions and a vision of the unity of humanity transcending religious and cultural boundaries.
  • A ‘world university’ – Visva Bharati was established here in 1921.
  • Santiniketan is directly and tangibly associated with the life, works and vision of Rabindranath Tagore and the pioneers of the Bengal School of Art.
  • It exhibits the crystallisation of their ideas of internationalism, humanism, inclusiveness, environmentalism and a pan Asian modernism.

Other sites which found place on the list:

  • Ancient Jericho in Palestine;
  • Zarafshan Karakum Corridor of Silk Roads in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan;
  • the Gedeo Cultural Landscape in Ethiopia;
  • the Cultural Landscape of Old Tea Forests of the Jingmai Mountain in China’s Pu’er.

6. PM VISHWAKARMA SCHEME

Topic: GS2-Govt policies and intervention, prelims

Details

  • The scheme will have an initial allocation of around ₹13,000 crore to ₹15,000 crore and will be launched on the occasion of Vishwakarma Jayanti, which falls on September 17 this year.

About Lord Vishwakarma:

  • Vishwakarma, in Hindu mythology, is seen as the architect of the gods and was the divine carpenter and master craftsman.
  • He is considered the patron deity of workers, artisans, and artists.

Features of Vishwakarma Yojana

  • Vishwakarma Yojana is a scheme that aims to provide skill development, financial assistance, market linkages, social security and empowerment to the artisans and craftsmen belonging to various communities, especially the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
  • It will cover artisans and craftsmen from various sectors such as textiles, leather, metal, wood, clay, stone, bamboo, cane, paper, glass etc.
  • It will provide skill training to the artisans and craftsmen based on their existing level of proficiency and market demand. The training will be imparted through various modes such as online courses, mobile apps, workshops, seminars etc.
  • It will provide financial assistance to the artisans and craftsmen in the form of loans, grants, subsidies, interest waivers etc. The assistance will be given for various purposes such as raw material procurement, tool purchase, product development, quality improvement etc.
  • It will provide market linkages to the artisans and craftsmen through various platforms such as e-commerce portals, exhibitions, fairs, festivals etc. It will also facilitate branding, packaging,

Significance

  • The Vishwakarma Yojana is expected to have a significant impact on the lives and livelihoods of traditional artisans and craftsmen.
  • It will help them to enhance their income, productivity, quality, and competitiveness.
  • It will help them to access new markets, both domestic and international, and increase their customer base.
  • It will help them to preserve their identity, dignity, and cultural heritage.
  • It will contribute to the overall development of the rural economy and society.

Way Forward

  • The Vishwakarma Yojana holds the potential to uplift traditional artisans and craftsmen, but its success hinges on strategic steps.
  • By creating awareness, streamlining coordination, gathering accurate data, promoting innovation, and ensuring protection, the government can foster a thriving environment for these artisans, preserving cultural heritage while driving economic empowerment.
  • Through a holistic approach, the scheme can pave the way for sustainable growth and prosperity in the traditional arts and crafts sector.

7. New Parliament’s gates, and their guardians

Topic: Prelims, GS1-art and culture

Context:

  • Days ahead of the new Parliament building holding its first session, Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar Sunday hoisted the national flag at the ‘Gaja Dwar’ of the complex.

Gaja Dwar

  • The new Parliament has six entrances.
  • According to a government note on the Parliament art project, the sculpture of an elephant, or Gaja, has been installed to guard the entrance to the north, since the animal represents intellect and memory, wealth and wisdom, and thereby embodies the aspirations of the elected representatives of a democracy.
  • According to vastu shastra, the north direction is associated with the planet Mercury, the source of higher intellect.
  • The Lord of the direction is Kubera, the god of wealth. Therefore, the Gaja is placed to the north.

Guardians of the other doors

ASVA:

  • Asva or the horse, standing alert and ready at the southern entrance, is symbolic of endurance and strength, power, and speed, also describing the quality of governance.

GARUDA:

  • The eagle-like Garuda stands at the eastern ceremonial entrance, signifying the aspirations of the people and the administrators of the country.
  • In vastu shastra, the eastern direction is associated with the rising sun representing hope, the glory of victory, and success.

MAKARA:

  • A mythological aquatic creature, the Makara combines the bodily parts of different animals, representing unity in diversity among the people of the country.

SHARDULA:

  • Another mythological creature, Shardula is said to be the most powerful, foremost of all living beings, symbolising the power of the people of the country.

HAMSA:

  • The most important quality of the people of a democracy is the power of discernment and self-realisation born of wisdom.

Reminding the people of this essential feature is the Hamsa, or swan, at the public entrance to the north east.

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