Insights Daily Current Affairs, 14 June 2018
Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
Sanchi Stupa of India and Pho Minh Pagoda of Viet Nam
Context: Cabinet approves MoU between India and Viet Nam on Joint issue of postage stamp. Joint Issue depicts Sanchi Stupa of India and Pho Minh Pagoda of Viet Nam.
About Sanchi Stupa:
- When was it built: Commissioned in 3rd century BCE, Expansion/ additions/restoration works/ made in different periods.
- Who built it: Commissioned by Emperor Ashoka of the Maurya Dynasty.
- Where is it located: Located 46 km north-east of Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh, India.
- Architectural Style: Buddhist Art and Architecture.
- Other facts: It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
About Pho Minh Pagoda:
- The pagoda was originally built during the Ly Dynasty and later expanded in 1262 during the Tran Dynasty.
- It was a place for high-ranking mandarins and the aristocracy of the Tran Royal Court to worship and lead their religious life.
- For Prelims: Sanchi Stupa- features and significance, Pho Minh Pagoda- location and its significance.
- For Mains: Development of Art and Architecture during Mauryan period.
Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for withdrawal of Nalanda University (Amendment) Bill, 2013 pending in the Rajya Sabha.
The Nalanda University was established on the basis of a Joint Press Statement at the 4th East Asia Summit held in Thailand in October, 2009, which supported its establishment as a non-state, non-profit, secular and self-governing international institution. Subsequently, the Nalanda University Act, 2010 was passed by the Parliament and came into effect from 25thNovember 2010.
Highlights of Nalanda University (Amendment) Bill, 2013:
- It establishes Nalanda University in Bihar as a result of decisions taken at the East Asia Summits.
- Under the Act, the University is a non-profit public-private partnership, supported by each member country as well as other sources. The Bill amends the Act to provide for the Government of India to meet the university’s capital and recurring expenditure to the extent required.
- The powers of the University are amended to include the power to set up a consortium of international partners to meet the objectives of the University, and appoint persons working in any other University or academic institution, including those located outside India, as faculty of the University.
- The size of the Governing Board of the University is being increased to include two persons of eminence and two members from the academic faculty of the University. The Bill also makes provision for the appointment of Deans and Provosts.
- Nalanda stands out as the most ancient university of the Indian Subcontinent. It engaged in the organized transmission of knowledge over an uninterrupted period of 800 years.
- The historical development of the site testifies to the development of Buddhism into a religion and the flourishing of monastic and educational traditions.
- It was a major Mahavihara or a large Buddhist monastery that also doubled up as an important centre of learning from the 5th to 1200 AD in the erstwhile kingdom of Magadh.
- The construction of Nalanda university began in 5th century AD and flourished under the Gupta rulers. It came to an end in the 12th century when it was destroyed in 1193 AD by the invading Turkish army led by its commander Bakhtiar Khilji.
- UNESCO has declared Bihar’s much awaited ancient site – the ruins of Nalanda Mahavihara – a World Heritage Site.
For Prelims and Mains: Nalanda Mahavihara- Historical importance, Highlights of the Bill.
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
North Eastern Council
Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal of Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) for the nomination of the Union Home Minister as ex-officio Chairman of North Eastern Council (NEC). The Cabinet has also approved that Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of DoNER would serve as Vice Chairman of the Council.
Under the new arrangement, Home Minister shall be the Chairman and Minister of DoNER as Vice Chairman, NEC and all the Governors and Chief Ministers of North Eastern States will be Members.
- This would provide a forum for discussing inter-state matters more comprehensively and also consider common approaches to be taken in future.
- NEC can now also perform the tasks undertaken by the various Zonal Councils to discuss such inter-State issues as drug trafficking, smuggling of arms and ammunition, boundary disputes etc.
- This repositioning of NEC will help it to become a more effective body for the North Eastern Region. The Council shall, from time to time, review the implementation of the projects/schemes included in the project; recommend effective measures for coordination among the state Governments for these projects etc.
- NEC was established under the North Eastern Council Act, 1971 as an apex level body for securing balanced and coordinated development and facilitating coordination with the States.
- Subsequent to the Amendment of 2002, NEC has been mandated to function as a regional planning body for the North Eastern Area and while formulating a regional plan for this area, shall give priority to the schemes and projects benefiting two or more states provided that in the case of Sikkim, the Council shall formulate specific projects and schemes for that State.
- For Prelims: NEC, its functions and composition.
- For Mains: Significance of North Eastern region of the country and efforts by government for the development of the region.
Topic: Issues related to education.
New norms for College teachers
Context: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has brought out a new set of regulations to alter the conditions for recruitment and promotion of college and university teachers, so as to make universities more focussed on research and colleges on the teaching-learning process.
- Research will no longer be mandatory for college teachers for promotion. However, university promotions will offer weightage to research done. College teachers will be graded on teaching rather than research. College teachers can still do research and earn higher grades for it.
- Other than research, college teachers can earn grades for other activities too — like social work, helping in adoption of a village, helping students in extra-curricular activities, contributing teaching material to Swayam, the MOOCS platform for online material.
- College teachers can become professors now. Till now, a college teacher could not rise above the rank of associate professor, the professor post being limited to university departments.
- To become an assistant professor in a college, the requirement remains the same: Ph.D or NET plus a master’s degree. However, for promotion to the post of associate professor, a Ph.D will be mandatory even at the college level.
- Indians who had been awarded a doctoral degree from any of the top 500 global universities would be eligible to teach in Indian universities without the requirement of any equivalence certificate or NET as soon as the regulations are notified.
University Grants Commission (UGC):
- The University Grants Commission of India (UGC India) is a statutory body set up in accordance to the UGC Act 1956 under Ministry of Human Resource Development.
- It is charged with coordination, determination, and maintenance of standards of higher education. It provides recognition to universities in India and disburses funds to such recognized universities and colleges.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis
Context: India is hosting the 10th meeting of Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis. India has highest burden of Lymphatic Filariasis and there is need of taking leadership role to Eliminate lymphatic filariasis.
Theme: Celebrating progress towards elimination: Voices from the field on overcoming programme challenges.
About Lymphatic Filariasis:
- LF or commonly known as Elephantiasis is one of the oldest and most debilitating neglected disease, which is currently endemic in 73 countries of the world, including India.
- LF is a devastating parasitic infection spread by mosquitoes. The parasites are thread-like worms (filariae) that develop in and then damage the human lymphatic system and associated tissues.
- It is usually contracted in childhood, often before the age of five. The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and specialised tissues that are essential to the maintaining the overall fluid balance and health of organs and limbs and importantly are a major component of the body’s immune defence system.
- The damage caused by the filaria or adult worms living in the lymphatic system upset this delicate fluid balance and fluid remains in the tissues causing chronic swelling usually of the lower limbs.
- The disease affects the poorest population in society, particularly those living in areas with poor water, sanitation and hygiene. LF does not kill the affected people, but may cause permanent disfigurement, reduced productivity and social stigma.
It is an alliance of partners from 72 LF endemic national country programmes, NGOs, private sectors, academic and research institutes and international development agencies that assists WHO’s Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis.
- For Prelims: About Elephantiasis and GAELF.
- For Mains: Global disease burden and the need for coordinated efforts in this regard.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Disaster management.
Dam Safety Bill, 2018
Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for introduction of Dam Safety Bill, 2018 in the Parliament.
Highlights of the Bill:
- The Bill provides for proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in the country to ensure their safe functioning.
- The Bill provides for constitution of a National Committee on Dam Safety which shall evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations as may be required for the purpose.
- The Bill provides for establishment of National Dam Safety Authority as a regulatory body which shall discharge functions to implement the policy, guidelines and standards for dam safety in the country.
- The Bill provides for constitution of a State Committee on Dam Safety by State Government.
Functions of the National Dam Safety Authority:
- It shall maintain liaison with the State Dam Safety Organisations and the owners of dams for standardisation of dam safety related data and practices.
- It shall provide the technical and managerial assistance to the States and State Dam Safety Organisations.
- It shall maintain a national level data-base of all dams in the country and the records of major dam failures.
- It shall examine the cause of any major dam failure.
- It shall publish and update the standard guidelines and check-lists for the routine inspection and detailed investigations of dams and appurtenances.
- It shall accord recognition or accreditations to the organisations that can be entrusted with the works of investigation, design or construction of new dams.
- It will also look into unresolved points of issue between the State Dam Safety Organisation of two states, or between the State Dam Safety Organisation of a State and the owner of a dam in that State, for proper solution.
- Further, in certain cases, such as dams of one State falling under the territory of another State, the National Authority shall also perform the role of State Dam Safety Organization thereby eliminating potential causes for inter-state conflicts.
- It will help all the States and Union Territories of India to adopt uniform dam safety procedures which shall ensure safety of dams and safeguard benefits from such dams. This shall also help in safeguarding human life, livestock and property.
- The Dam Safety Bill, 2018 address all issues concerning dam safety including regular inspection of dams, Emergency Action Plan, comprehensive dam safety review, adequate repair and maintenance funds for dam safety, Instrumentation and Safety Manuals. It lays onus of dam safety on the dam owner and provides for penal provisions for commission and omission of certain acts.
Need for a legislation:
There are over 5200 large dams in India and about 450 are under construction. Plus there are thousands of medium and small dams. Due to lack of legal and institutional architecture for dam safety in India, dam safety is an issue of concern. Unsafe dams are a hazard and dam break may cause disasters, leading to huge loss of life and property.
For Prelims and Mains: Highlights of the Bill and key functions of the National Dam Safety Authority.
Topic: Conservation related topic.
Water Management Index
Context: NITI Aayog is planning to launch a Composite Water Management Index.
Benefits of the Index:
- The index can be utilised to formulate and implement suitable strategies for better management of water resources.
- The index would provide useful information for the States and also for the concerned Central Ministries/Departments enabling them to formulate and implement suitable strategies for better management of water resources.
Significance of the index:
- This index is an attempt to inspire States and UTs towards efficient and optimal utilization of water, and recycling thereof with a sense of urgency. It will be a useful tool to assess and improve the performance in efficient management of water resources.
Facts for Prelims:
Nikkei Asia Prize:
Context: Noted social reformer and founder of Sulabh International Bindeshwar Pathak was recently honored with Japan’s prestigious ‘Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture and Community’. The award was given to him for his significant work in tackling poor hygiene and discrimination.
Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture and Community:
- The Nikkei Asia Prize is an award which recognizes the achievements of people and organizations that have improved the lives of people throughout Asia.
- The awards were created and presented by Nikkei Inc, one of the largest media corporations in Japan.
- Launched in 1996, the program honors people in Asia who have made significant contributions in one of the three areas: regional growth; science, technology and innovation; and culture.
- Former PM Manmohan Singh and Infosys Chairman Narayan Murti are among the few Indians who have won the prize in the past.