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23rd January 2023

Puri’s Jagannath Temple, provisions for non-Hindus and foreigners


Recently, Odisha’s Governor backed the entry of foreign nationals inside the Jagannath Temple in Puri, which converted into a debate and has triggered controversy.

About Jagannath Temple:

  • The Jagannath Temple of Puri is an important Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath(a form of Vishnu), located on the eastern coast of India, in the state of Odisha.
  • It is believed to have been constructed in the 12th century by King Anatavarman Chodaganga Deva of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty.
  • Anantavarma Chodagangadevais also known for building the Sun temple of Konark and Puri is considered the cultural capital of Odisha.
  • Jagannath Puri temple is called ‘Yamanika Tirtha’where, according to Hindu beliefs, the power of ‘Yama’, the god of death, has been nullified due to the presence of Lord Jagannath.
  • This temple was called the “White Pagoda” and is a part of Char Dham pilgrimages.
    • Badrinath
    • Dwaraka
    • Puri
    • Rameswaram
  • There are four gates to the temple-
    • Eastern ‘Singhdwara’ which is the main gate with two crouching lions
    • Southern ‘Ashwadwara’
    • Western 'Vyaghra Dwara'
    • Northern ‘Hastidwara’
    • There is a carving of each form at each gate.
    • In front of the entrance stands the Aruna stambha or sun pillar, which was originally at the Sun Temple in Konark.

About Annual Rath Yatra:

The temple is famous for its annual Rath Yatra, or chariot festival.

  • Images of all three deities Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Lordess Subhadra are ceremoniously brought out of the inner sanctum (Garbhagriha) from the chief temple in Jagannath Puri.
  • They are placed in a chariot which is then pulled by volunteers from Jagannath puri temple to Gundicha Temple.
  • For this festival, special chariots are built each year.

Provisions for Temple Entry:

  • Only Hindus are allowed inside the shrine to offer prayers to the temple deities in the sanctum sanctorum.
  • It has been the practice for centuries even though there is no clearly articulated reason for it.
  • Some historians believe that multiple attacks on the Temple by Muslim rulers might have led the servitors to impose restrictions on the entry of non-Hindus.
  • Others have said that this was the practice from the time the Temple was built.

When Non-Hindus can visit Lord Jagannath?

  • Patitapaban darshan:
  • Lord Jagannath is also known as Patitabapan which literally means “saviour of the downtrodden”.
  • So all those who are barred from entering the Temple because of religious reasons get the privilege of a darshan of the Lord in the form of Patitapaban at the Lion’s Gate.
  • When the Lord emerges
  • Jagannath comes to Bada Danda (the Grand Road) along with his siblings during the nine-day Rath Yatra (car festival) in June-July every year.
  • This is an occasion when non-Hindus can have His darshan.
  • As the deities go on a sojourn to the Gundicha temple, their birthplace, devotees from around the world throng Puri for a glimpse of the Lord.
Recent controversy:

In 2011, a proposal by Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, then adviser to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, supported the entry of non-Hindus into the Temple to boost Odisha’s tourism potential, triggering a major controversy. Mohapatra had to withdraw his statement.

Arguments in favour of Non-Hindus and Foreigners entering Temple:

  • To promote Tourism in the state.
  • To promote equality
  • To promote India’s rich heritage in other countries

Constitutional backings:

Article 25(2) grants power to the State to enact the law on two distinct aspects.

  • Article 25(2)(a)empowers the state to regulate “economic, financial, political or other secular activities which may be associated with religious practice”.
  • Article 25(2)(b)enables the state to enact a law to prohibit the exclusion of ‘classes and sections’ of Hindu society to enter into Hindu temples of a public character and also make laws for social welfare and reform.
  • Thus, the control of secular aspects associated with religion and the power to throw open Hindu temples to all classes and sections of society are distinct.
  • The Constitution does not permit the state to assume ownership of properties belonging to religious institutions.

Legal provisions related to entry at religious places:

  • In the Indian Young Lawyers Association v State of Kerala, the word morality used in Article 26(b) means constitutional morality.
  • It is rooted in the fundamental postulates of human liberty, equality, fraternity, and dignity.
  • Thus, as a consequence, the freedom of religion and, likewise, the freedom to manage the affairs of a religious denomination are subject to fundamental notions of constitutional morality, effectively opening the door for the application of Article 15(2) and Article 17, given the conditions enumerated within the clauses are satisfied. 
  • The anti-exclusion principle, i.e., Article 15(2) raises questions about the lack of explicit mention of places of worship within the text of the provision. 

Ahom burial sites in Assam selected for UNESCO World Heritage tag


The Centre has decided to nominate Assam’s Charaideo Maidams, the Ahom equivalent of the ancient Egyptian pyramids for the UNESCO World Heritage list.

About Assam’s Charaideo Maidams:

  • They belong to the late medieval (13th-19th century CE), built under the mound burial tradition of the Tai Ahom community in Assam.
  • Charaideo, more than 400 km east of Guwahati, was the first capital of the Ahom dynasty founded by Chao Lung Siu-Ka-Pha in 1253.
  • The country is celebrating the 400th birth anniversary of Lachit Barphukan, a legendary Ahom general whose battle against the Mughals in 1671.

Features of the site:

  • Out of 386 Maidams or Moidams explored so far, 90 royal burials at Charaideo are the best preserved, representative of and the most complete examples of the mound burial tradition of the Ahoms.
  • The Charaideo Maidams enshrine the mortal remains of the members of the Ahom royalty, who used to be buried with their paraphernalia.
  • After the 18th century, the Ahom rulers adopted the Hindu method of cremation and began entombing the cremated bones and ashes in a Maidam at Charaideo.

The Ahom Dynasty:

  • The Ahom dynasty (1228–1826) ruled the Ahom kingdom in present-day Assam, India for nearly 598 years.
  • The dynasty was established by Sukaphaa, a Shan prince of Mong Mao who came to Assam after crossing the Patkai Mountains.
  • The rule of this dynasty ended with the Burmese invasion of Assam.
  • In external medieval chronicles, the kings of this dynasty were called Asam Raja, whereas the subjects of the kingdom called them Chaopha or Swargadeo.
  • The Ahom rule lasted till the British annexed Assam in 1826, following the Treaty of Yandabo.

The famous battles of Ahoms:

Battle of Alaboi (1669):

  • In 1669, Aurangzeb dispatched the Rajput Raja Ram Singh I to recapture territories won back by the Ahoms.
  • The battle of Alaboi was fought between the Ahom armed force and Mughals trespassers on August 5, 1969, in the Alaboi Hills near Dadarain North Guwahati.

Battle of Saraighat (1671):

  • The battle of Sarai Ghat was one of the most significant warfare in medieval India.
  • The Battle of Saraighat was a naval battle fought between 1671between the Mughal Empire (led by the Kachwaha king, Raja Ram Singh I), and the Ahom Kingdom (led by Lachit Borphukan) on the Brahmaputra river at Saraighat, Guwahati, Assam.
  • Although weaker, the Ahom Army defeated the Mughal Army through brilliant uses of the terrain, clever diplomatic negotiations to buy time, guerrilla tactics, psychological warfare, military intelligence and by exploiting the sole weakness of the Mughal forces (navy).
  • The Battle of Saraighat was the last battle in the last major attempt by the Mughals to extend their empire into Assam.
  • Though the Mughals managed to regain Guwahati briefly later after a Borphukan deserted it, the Ahoms wrested control in the Battle of Itakhuli in 1682 and maintained it till the end of their rule. 
UNESCO Heritage Site:
  • The list of World Heritage Sites is maintained by the international ‘World Heritage Programme’ which is administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.
  • A World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by UNESCO for its special cultural or physical significance.
  • Criteria for inclusion in the List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
  • Any heritage or any historical site has to be first on the tentative list to be a part of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.
  • Once it makes it to the tentative list, then the proposal is sent to UNESCO for inclusion in the final List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, only if the site:
    • Contains significant natural habitats for the conservation of biological diversity, including threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.
    • Associates with events, living traditions, ideas, beliefs, and artistic & literary works of outstanding universal significance etc.


Buddhist monastery complex at Bharatpur of Bengal


Recent excavations at Bharatpur in West Bengal’s Paschim Bardhaman district have revealed the presence of a Buddhist monastery.

About the site:

  • The last excavation at the site was taken place about fifty years back in the 1970s.
  • At that time black and red ware pottery belonging to the Chalcolithic Age was recovered with a Buddhist stupa.
  • The recent excavations have revealed the presence of an extended monastery complex at the site. 

A Buddhist stupa is a commemorative monument usually housing sacred relics associated with the Buddha or other saints or priests, whereas votive stupas have similar significance but are smaller structures originating in eight cylindrical structures.

Key findings:

  • Recent excavations have revealed the presence of a Buddhist monastery.
  • According to experts, the Buddhist sites in the State are the presence of a large stupa along with a monastery complex and black and red ware pottery from the Chalcolithic or Copper Age.
  • In the 1970s, five beautiful seated sculptures of the Buddha in Bhumisparsha Mudra.
  • Bhumisparsa Mudra is the gesture of hand showing five fingers of the right hand towards the earth symbolising the Buddha’s enlightenment.
  • These miniature sculptures, each about 30 cm in height, were most likely used for worship in the monastery. 


  • The site was important for two main reasons:
  • It is an early village settlement on the bank of the river Damodar which could date to around 2000 BCE; and
  • The Buddhist monastery complex found symbolises the site is secular and is an early village with Buddhist followers.

Importance of stupas

  • Religious importance –
    • Relic repository: In the beginning stupas were built to venerate and safeguard relics and remains of Buddha.
    • Sacred place: Along with monasteries (viharas) later, stupas were included in chaityas, which is a prayer halls.
    • Circumambulation path: an important Buddhist ritual around the path surrounding it.
    • The object of veneration– it is believed that relics of buddhas body were buried within the stupas
  • Philosophical
    • Meditation: It is an important place for meditation.
    • Commemorative: In the Tibetan tradition, stupas were built to celebrate the life events of the Buddha.
  • Symbolic: The stupas encapsulate the teachings and ideology of Buddha
    • Dhamek stupa at Sarnath marks the spot where the Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment, revealing his Eightfold Path leading to nirvana.
  • Historical: Provide information about the various dynasties who ruled India. Eg :
    • Mauryas: Bairat stupa , Sanchi stupa , Bharhut stupa etc
    • Sathavahanas: Amaravati stupa etc
  • Architectural –
    • Oldest stone structures: The stupas at Sanchi and Bharhut are one of the oldest stone structures in India.
    • Inclusion of text in narrative panels– at Bharhut (Queen Maya’s dream)
    • Use of marble– at Amravati stupa
    • Taxila excavations reveal stupas with Boddhisatva images, Gandhara influence and patronage of Kanishka.

Digital crop survey in India


The Central Government has planned to launch a digital crop survey across 10 states from the Kharif-2023 season.

About the survey:

  • Objective: The survey will collect information on different types of crops sown by farmers in their fields.
  • The information will be collected through an automated process by using “Geo-Referenced maps” of the farmland plots and remote sensing images.
  • Implementation:
  • The digital crop survey will be rolled out initially as a pilot project in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Gujarat. Later, it will be gradually rolled out across the country.
  • Once it becomes fully operational, it will add to the age-old crop area statistics collection system, which is known as the ‘Patwari agency’.

In the patwari agency, a complete enumeration of all fields (survey numbers) called ‘girdawari’ is made of a village during each crop season to compile land use, irrigation and crop area statistics.

Key features:

  • The proposed survey will use the latest technological advancements such as visual and advanced analytics, GIS-GPS Technologies and AI/ML to provide near real-time information about the crops sown by the farmers.
  • As part of the digital agriculture initiatives, the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare plans to develop a reference application for the crop-sown survey.
  • Data used: Satellite data from National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), which comes under the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has already been made available to the states.
  • Crop registry: The crop registry will act as a single source of truth for collecting the data in a standardized manner, during the digital crop survey.
  • The crop registry will have the ability to capture single or multiple crop IDs for the same farmland plot for the same season, along with the respective area of sowing and type of crops, such as intercrop, mixed crops, and single crops.
  • It will add linkage to Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Geo-referenced Cadastral maps would enable users to reach the right farm and collect the right data and images.
  • The linkage to remote sensing and aerial image analysis tools can be used to cross-check data at a larger area level with the reported and derived information from the field level for enabling higher accuracy levels.
  • The survey will also have a mobile interface that will allow offline data capturing in the field (farmland plot) where the crop is sown.

Initiatives for farmers:

  • Improving ProductivityDue to stagnancy in the quantum of agricultural land, it is imperative to increase productivity over the same amount of land.
    • Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana(PMKSY) provides for more crops, per drop.
    • The Soil Health Card scheme aims at promoting soil test-based and balanced use of fertilisers to enable farmers to realise higher yields at a lower cost.
  • Improving Total Factor ProductivityTFP is an important source of output growth which directly contributes to cost saving and thus increases income. TFP growth represents the effect of technological change, skill, infrastructure etc.
    • National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) aims to form a unified national market for agricultural products by making a network for the markets related to the existing Agricultural Product Marketing Committee (APMC).
    • Direct Benefit Transfer: The NITI Aayog has suggested that all subsidies for agriculture, including fertiliser, electricity, crop insurance, irrigation and interest subvention be replaced by income transfer because it eliminates the leakages of resources in the system.
  • Diversification of Crops: When farmers go for a single crop type they are exposed to high risks in the event of unforeseen climate events, such as the emergence of pests and the sudden onset of frost or drought.
    • Crop Diversification Programme (CDP) is being implemented which aims to diversify the area from water-guzzling crops like paddy to alternate crops like maize, pulses, oilseeds, and cotton & agro-forestry plantation.
  • Financial Assistance: There are several initiatives taken up by the government:
    • The Union Budget 2019-20 has made the highest-ever allocation to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Rs. 1, 30,485 crores, a 140 per cent jump over the ’18-19 budget estimate of Rs 57,600 crore.
    • Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna has been launched to provide relief to the farmers inflicted by the loss of crop damage.
    • Kisan Credit Card Scheme aims to provide direct benefits to farmers and ease the pressure on them.
    • Micro Irrigation Fund created with NABARD has been approved for encouraging public and private investments.
    • Implementation of Swaminathan Report- Recently, the Government has increased the MSP for all Kharif and Rabi crops and other commercial crops for the season 2018-19 with a return of at least 50 per cent over the cost of production.
    • The Government has decided to implement a new Central Sector Scheme for providing an old age pension of Rs.3000/- to eligible small and marginal farmers as they have minimal or no savings.
    • PM KISAN - This central sector scheme aims to supplement the financial needs of the SMFs in procuring various inputs to ensure proper crop health and appropriate yields, commensurate with the anticipated farm income at the end of each crop cycle.
  • Other Initiatives:
    • The Government has been promoting organic farming in the country through the schemes such as Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).
    • Coffee Board has launched a block-chain based coffee e-marketplace. It will help integrate the farmers with markets in a transparent manner.
    • NITI Aayog launched 2016 an index to rank States and UTs based on the implementation of seven provisions proposed under the model APMC Act.
    • The Mega Food Parks scheme aims to create a mechanism of linking agricultural production to the markets, by involving farmers, processors and retailers together in a cluster-based approach

India’s plan to eradicate measles, rubella


India had set a target to eliminate measles and rubella (MR) by 2023, having missed the earlier deadline of 2020, seeing disruptions due to the pandemic. 

About the Disease:

  • Measles is a highly infectious condition.
  • Scientists have identified 21 strains of the measles virus
  • There is no specific treatment for measles


  • Runny nose
  • Dry hacking cough
  • Conjunctivitis, or swollen eyelids and inflamed eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Photophobia, or sensitivity to light
  • Sneezing
  • A reddish-brown rash
  • Koplik's spots or very small greyish-white spots with bluish-white centres in the mouth, insides of cheeks, and throat.
  • Generalized body aches


There are two types of measles:

  • Measles: This is the standard form caused by the rubeola virus.
  • Rubella or German measles: This is caused by the rubella virus.
  • Rubella generally presents as mild but presents more of a risk to unborn infants than young children if a woman contracts the virus while she is pregnant.
  • It is neither as infectious nor as severe as standard measles.
  • The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines contain immunizations for both types.
Spread of Measles and Rubella in India:
  • According to the latest Global Measles and Rubella Update, India had 56,399 confirmed measles cases and 1,066 confirmed rubella cases in 2018.
  • As per WHO, measles is a leading cause of death in children, with one-third (around 56,000 in 2011) of all measles deaths worldwide happening in India.
  • Rubella causes birth defects, such as irreversible deafness and blindness in nearly 40 thousand children in India every year.
  •  At least 220 million children from 30 states and union territories have already been vaccinated under the nationwide campaign that started in 2017.

Need for emergency action:

  • The measles virus is one of the world’s most contagious human viruses that kill more than 1, 00,000 children every year globally, and rubella is a leading vaccine-preventable cause of birth defects.
  • Both measles and rubella can be prevented by just two doses of a safe and effective vaccine.
  • Over the past two decades, the measles vaccine is estimated to have averted more than 30 million deaths globally, as per the WHO’s statistics.
  • While measles has a high fatality rate, rubella infection in a pregnant woman will have an impact on the foetus, resulting in birth defects.

India’s plan to eradicate MR diseases:

  • During 2010–2013, India conducted a phased measles catch-up immunisation for children aged 9 months–10 years in 14 States, vaccinating approximately 119 million children.
  • Mission Indradhanush was launched in 2014 to ramp up vaccinating the unvaccinated population.
  • During 2017–2021, India adopted a national strategic plan for measles and rubella elimination, and introduced rubella-containing vaccine (RCV) into the routine immunisation programme, besides launching a nationwide measles-rubella supplementary immunisation activity (SIA) catch-up campaign.
  • It also transitioned from outbreak-based surveillance to case-based acute fever and rash surveillance, and more than doubled the number of laboratories in the measles-rubella network.

Short News Article

History (GS-I)

Parakram Diwas 2023

The Parakram Diwas is celebrated on January 23, to commemorate the birth anniversary of freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose.


  • The year 2023 marks the 126th birth anniversary of Bose, fondly known as ‘Netaji’.
  • To mark the occasion, 21 unnamed islands of Andaman and Nicobar will be named after Param Veer Chakra awardees.
  • A model of the National Memorial dedicated to Netaji which will be built on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Dweep will also be unveiled.
  • Who was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose?
  • Born in 1897 in Cuttack, Bose was an Indian nationalist in the era of British colonialism.
  • After completing his education in India, Bose left for London to prepare for the Indian Civil Services exam and cleared it.

Role in India’s freedom struggle:

  • In 1938, he became the president of the Indian National Congress. But resigned a year later despite defeating his rival in re-election.
  • On October 21, 1943, Bose formed ‘Azad Hind Fauj’ and later started Azad Hind radio station in Germany
  • He went missing on August 18, 1945, after a plane crash in Taiwan.

Environment (GS-III)

First anti-deforestation raids in Amazon


Brazil's government has launched its first Anti-Deforestation raids to protect Amazon. 


  • Brazil's environmental protection agency IBAMA launched its first anti-deforestation raid in search of illegal loggers that are contributing to the Amazon's deforestation.
  • Prior to winning the elections, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva pledged to rid the forest of illegal loggers in October 2022.
  • Most of the destruction that occurs in the Amazon is owed to Jair Bolsonaro, who suspended the Amazon Fund in November 2019 following a quarrel with Norway.

Findings from raid:

  • According to Reuters, agents from the IBAMA agency launched raids in multiple states including Para, Roraima and Acre.
  • The police is able to track illegal loggers with the help of satellite images showing loggers clearing forests.

Science and Technology (GS-III)

The India International Science Festival in Bhopal

The 8th edition of the India International Science Festival (IISF) was inaugurated at the Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology (MANIT), Bhopal, on January 21, 2023.

About the event:

  • Theme: Marching towards Amrit Kaal with Science, Technology, and Innovation.
  • It is a four-day festival, also aligned with the G20 vision, which is Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam or “One Earth· One Family · One Future.”
  • IISF will feature 14 thematic events:
    • Students Science Village
    • Face to face with New Frontiers of Science & Technology
    • Science through Games & Toys
    • Students Innovation Festival
    • Vaigyanika (Literature)
    • International Science Film Festival
    • Guinness World Records attempts
    • Artisan’s Technology Village-Vocal for Local
    • Young Scientist Conclave
    • New Age Technology Show
    • National Social Organisations and Institutions Meet (NSOIM)
    • STEM @ 2022-Mega Science and Technology Exhibition
    • Start-up Meet
    • Science and Technology Council Conclave.
  • More than 2,500 school students from across India have been invited to attend the festival.
  • Additionally, the festival will feature Biotech and Agri-tech start-ups.


Bad Times Ahead


  • The Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, has mentioned that the message of this year’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos is that times are bad and there are more bad times ahead. 

The scenario in India:

  • The Government’s silent reaction to Russia’s act of war: India’s no reaction or talks to Russia’s move to rage war against Ukraine was not worth it as a developing global leader.
  • Focus on bilateral moves: India must focus on its moves for maintaining International peace and raise voice against injustice, so to address its personal interest also like against China.
  • Political stance: There are several instances going on India’s land which make the government’s move tilt towards politics rather than development projects.
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