What's New :
GS Mains Classes 2024, Morning Batch Starts: 12th June & Evening Batch Starts: 15th June

23rd May 2023

Kutch Harappan graveyard: Life and times of buried

  • A shell bangle, pottery fragments, stone knives, and even human skeletal remains were discovered recently, in a 16-hectare stretch on the borders of Khatiya village in Gujarat’s Kutch district.

Key highlights:

  • The 16-hectare burial site in Khatiya village in Gujarat is the largest pre-urban Harappan cemetery, with unexpected finds such as shell bangles, pottery shards, stones blades, and human skeletal remains.

Discovery of Harappan Graves:

  • A multi-disciplinary international team of archeologists has discovered 500 graves and excavated 197 of them, but deep below.
  • Led by Rajesh S V, Assistant Professor in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Kerala, the researchers are looking for clues to see if the cemetery, believed to be 5,000 years old, was a big human settlement or a common facility for a cluster of smaller settlements.
  • The cemetery is believed to be 5,000 years old and belongs to the 'pre-urban' phase of the Harappan civilisation.

Harappan Civilisation

  • The Harappan civilisation, one of the oldest in the world, flourished along the banks of the river Indus from 5,000 BC to 1,000 BC.
  • The 2,500-year-long period from 5,000 BC to 2,600 BC is known as the 'pre-urban' Harappan phase, while between 2,600 BC and 1,900 BC is the 'urban' Harappan phase.
  • The fragment of a shell bangle collected from the Khatiya cemetery was found to be dating back to 2,850 BC.
  • The pottery found as burial goods at the Khatiya site was comparable to the pre-urban Harappan pottery of Sindh, Balochistan and North Gujarat.

About: Khatiya village of Gujrat

  • The soil in Khatiya is acidic, making it difficult to extract DNA from samples excavated.
  • This could help answer the mystery of the people buried in these graves and where they came from.
  • Khatiya is located on the banks of the Gandi, a stream that drains into the Great Rann of Kutch (GRK).
  • Dhoro Chhelo: A pond was dug on the south-western periphery of the ancient burial site in 2016 as part of the government’s initiative to harvest the water of Dhoro Chhelo.

Recent theory about Dholavira:

  • Dholavira is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the biggest metropolises of the Harappan civilisation, but it is 150 kilometres away from Khatiya, making it unlikely that people in the urban settlements of Dholavira were buried there.
  • Harappan sites in western Kutch: Desalpar and Khirsara, Kotda Bhadli and Nadapa are the other well-known Harappan sites in western Kutch.
    • But each of them is a site of urban and post-urban periods of the Harappan civilisation and more than 50 km away from Khatiya.
    • Being a pre-urban Harappan cemetery, there is a possibility that either there was a big settlement in Khatiya or there were smaller settlements around Khatiya and the cemetery was a common burial ground for them.

Team of Archaeologists: The international team of collaborators included 27 archaeologists, DNA analysts, geologists and GIS specialists from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, Spain, USA, Japan and Sweden.

The tussle over ‘services’ in Delhi

  • The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023 was passed by the President on May 19th to make a fresh claim of power over the services in the capital.

Key Highlights:

  • It forms a “permanent” National Capital Civil Service Authority (NCCSA) with the Chief Minister as chairperson, the Chief Secretary and Principal Home Secretary as Member and Member Secretary respectively.
  • The NCCSA exercises authority over civil service officers working in all Delhi government departments except those in public order, police and land.
  • The Lieutenant Governor’s decision, in case of a difference of opinion, would be final.
  • The Ordinance is based on the argument that the Supreme Court has acknowledged the superior authority of Parliament to make laws for the national capital.

What was the May 11 judgment by the Supreme Court?

  • The court limited the role of the Lieutenant Governor (LG) over bureaucrats in the capital to three specific areas - public order, police and land.
  • Government of India: The Centre turned the tables on the judgment and promulgated the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023 to make a fresh claim of power over the services in the capital.
  • Objective: The aim of the Ordinance is to balance the local and domestic interests of the people of Delhi with the democratic will of the entire nation reflected through the President of India.

What does the Ordinance say?

  • Power over the services: It required the LG to consult the Chief Minister only at his “discretion”.
    • The notification had excluded Entry 41 (services) of the State List from the scope of powers of the Delhi government.
  • National Capital Civil Service Authority (NCCSA): The Ordinance forms a “permanent” National Capital Civil Service Authority (NCCSA) with the Chief Minister as chairperson, and the Chief Secretary and Principal Home Secretary as Member and Member Secretary, respectively.
  • The NCCSA exercises authority over civil service officers working in all Delhi government departments except those in public order, police and land.
  • It would decide transfers, postings, prosecution sanctions, disciplinary proceedings, vigilance issues, etc, of civil service officers deputed to Delhi government departments by majority of votes of the members present and voting.
  • The Lieutenant Governor’s decision, in case of a difference of opinion, would be final.
  • This throws open a scenario in which bureaucrats in the NCCSA could possibly veto the Chief Minister.
  • The Ordinance explains that the Chief Secretary would represent “the will of the officers of GNCTD” (Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi).

The Top Court Say:

  • The Supreme Court had envisaged a “neutral civil service” carrying out the day-to-day decisions of the Council of Ministers.
  • The NCCSA attempts to bring civil service officers out of the administrative control of the elected Ministers, who embody the will of the people, and transform them into a power lobby.
  • The NCCSA negates the intrinsic link between government accountability and the principle of collective responsibility highlighted in the judgment.
  • The Ordinance, by creating the NCCSA, skirts the emphasis laid down in the judgment on the “triple chain of command” in the governance of Delhi.
  • The court had held that the civil services were accountable to the Ministers of the elected government, under whom they function.
  • The Ministers were in turn accountable to the legislature and the legislature ultimately to the people of Delhi.
  • The chain of command was forged by the Supreme Court to ensure democratic accountability.
  • The Ordinance also does not heed the President’s own Transaction of Business Rules of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, 1993.
  • Balakrishnan Committee: The court had also dismissed the K. Balakrishnan Committee’s specific recommendation that the “services” should not be included within the legislative and executive ambit of the NCTD.
    • The court held that the committee report was not relevant as it preceded the insertion of Article 239AA - the provision that deals with the governance structure of Delhi, in the 69th Constitution Amendment, 1991.

Does the Ordinance go against the Supreme Court judgment?

  • Under the constitutional scheme envisaged in Article 239AA(3), NCTD was given legislative power which though limited, in many aspects is similar to States.
  • In that sense, with the addition of Article 239AA, the Constitution created an “asymmetric federal model” with the Union of India at the centre, and the NCTD at the regional level.
  • The court had held that the executive power of the Delhi government was “coextensive” with its legislative power.
  • That is, the executive arm of the government covers all the subjects, including services, except public order, police and land, for which the legislative arm can make laws.

What does the Ordinance and the judgment say about the LG’s powers?

  • The Ordinance has put the LG back in the driver’s seat by giving him the power to take a final call on any decision taken by the NCCSA regarding services.
  • The LG was bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers under Article 239AA(4) while exercising executive powers in relation to matters falling within the legislative domain of the legislative assembly of NCTD.
  • The court had held that even the “limited discretionary power” afforded to the LG “ought to be exercised in a careful manner in rare circumstances such as on matters of national interest and finance.
  • The Lieutenant Governor could not refer every matter to the President”.

Way ahead:

  • An Ordinance is not beyond judicial review of the apex court. If the 2023 Ordinance is challenged separately, the Union would have to prove the “extraordinary or emergent situation” which necessitated it to promulgate an Ordinance merely days after a Constitution Bench settled the law.
  • A Constitution Bench in DC Wadhwa versus State of Bihar had held that the power of the Executive to promulgate an Ordinance should not be “perverted to serve political ends”.

FIPIC Summit in Papua New Guinea

  • Recently, Prime minister of India meets with Pacific Island nation leaders on sidelines of FIPIC Summit in Papua New Guinea.

Key highlights:

  • The third forum for India-Pacific islands co-operation (FIPIC Summit), which was held recently at Port Moresby was jointly hosted with Papua New Guinea.
  • India’s engagement with the 14 Pacific Island Countries (PICs) is part of New Delhi's Act East Policy.
  • Prime minister of India co- chaired the summit with PM of Papua New Guinea.
  • The discussions encompassed various areas of cooperation, including commerce, technology, healthcare, and climate change.

About FIPIC:

  • Forum for India-Pacific Island cooperation (FIPIC) is a multinational grouping for cooperation between India and 14 Pacific Islands nations.
  • It include 14 islands named- Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
  • All Head of state/head of government of the above countries met in Suva, Fiji in November 2014 for the first time where the annual summit was conceptualised.
  • The FIPIC initiative marks a serious effort to expand India's engagement in the Pacific region.
  • A major part of India's engagement with these countries is through development assistance under South-South Cooperation, mainly in capacity building (training, scholarships, grant-in-aid and loan assistance) and community development projects.
  • In 2015, FIPIC Trade Office at Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) to promote Trade & Investment opportunities between India & Pacific Island Countries.

LRS scheme: Rise in overseas remittances by Indians in FY23

  • The data showed that travel accounts for about 50% of the total outward remittances allowed under the LRS for resident individuals in FY2023.
    • Travel accounted for 35% of all Indians' worldwide spending during the years 2021–2022.

Key highlights:

  • Indians took out $ 27.14 billion (around Rs 2.24 lakh crore) during the year ended March 2023 under the Liberalised Remittances Scheme of the Reserve Bank of India, a rise of 38.39 per cent when compared to $ 19.61 billion in the previous year.
  • From July 1 this year, there will be a 20% tax on remittances under LRS, except for credit card spends below Rs 7 lakh outside India, medical expenses and education purposes.
  • Indians spent around $ 13.66 billion (over Rs 1.13 lakh crore) on overseas travel in the current financial year, a 98% jump from the same period of last year.

Liberalised Remittance Scheme:

  • Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) was brought out by the RBI in 2004.
  • It allows resident individuals to remit a certain amount of money during a financial year to another country for investment and expenditure.
  • According to the prevailing regulations, resident individuals may remit up to $250,000 per financial year.

Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA):

  • The total amount spent on foreign travels during the first 10 months of fiscal 2022-23 almost doubled when compared to the same period of previous fiscal.
  • Last week, the Centre amended rules under the FEMA; bringing international credit card spends outside India under the LRS.


  • Experts raised concerns that taxpayers can claim refunds on the TCS levy at the time of filing their returns, but this could result in their funds being locked until the refund is initiated by the tax department.

Present Status:

  • Currently, there is a 5 % tax on funds in excess of Rs 7 lakh sent out of India under the LRS of the RBI.
  • Besides travel, Indians spend money overseas on gifts, donations, maintenance of close relatives, education, medical treatment, purchase of immovable property, investment in equity or debt and deposits.

Why India needs a ‘Mission Adaptation’ in its climate change strategy

  • The Government of India should most efforts towards addressing climate change are concentrated on mitigating its impact rather than innovating enough to adapt to newer challenges.

Key highlights:

  • Green Hydrogen Mission: Climate change mitigation has received a clear mention - especially with the focus on green growth initiatives targeted at reducing the carbon intensity of the economy such as green mobility, energy efficiency and the green hydrogen mission announcement.
  • Mangrove Plantation Initiative: Certain budgetary allocations towards nature-based solutions such as the mangrove plantation initiative and the community-based wetland conservation scheme promise to have potentially positive impacts in mitigating climate change and climate adaptation.

Mission Adaptation

  • Mission Adaptation is a term used in the context of climate change and refers to the need for a strategic, proactive approach to building adaptive capacity in order to climate-proof lives, livelihoods, the environment and the economy.
  • It is a proposed initiative for creating a supportive ecosystem for all entities, including the private sector, non-profits, and civil society, to come together and work towards developing and scaling up locally-sound adaptation solutions in India.
  • The idea is to view climate adaptation as a strategic investment by the public sector and to bridge complex challenges faced by society today using the idea of public purpose to guide policy and business activity.

Way ahead:

  • The government should adopt “Mission Adaptationto create a supportive ecosystem for all entities, including the private sector, non-profits and civil society, to come together and work towards developing and scaling up locally-sound adaptation solutions.
  • The government must work towards developing a more systemic understanding of resilience, its adjacencies with other goals, and suitable methods to measure these, as well as support efforts aimed at building such an understanding across the ecosystem. This would likely benefit all actors trying to enhance climate adaptation across contexts.

Short News Article


Arsenic Consumption

In a recent study it has been found that even low levels of ‘arsenic consumption’ may impact cognitive function in children, adolescents, and young adults.

About: Arsenic

  • Arsenic is a natural component of the earth’s crust and is widely distributed throughout the environment in the air, water and land. It is highly toxic in its inorganic form.
  • Arsenic exposure is a serious public health concern due to its toxic nature.
  • Arsenic can enter the body through various routes, but one of the major sources of exposure is through contaminated drinking water.
  • Long-term exposure to inorganic arsenic, mainly through drinking-water and food, can lead to chronic arsenic poisoning. Skin lesions and skin cancer are the most characteristic effects.
  • Arsenic exposure through inhalation of contaminated air is relatively rare and usually associated with occupational settings or specific environmental incidents.
  • Ingestion of contaminated water or food is the most common route of arsenic exposure for the general population.
  • While arsenic is a naturally occurring element and has some industrial applications, it is not considered beneficial or essential for human health.

Radiometric Dating

Scientists have suggested using Calcium-41 for Radiometric Dating as an alternative to Carbon-14 for determining the age of fossilized bones and rocks.

About: Calcium-41 for Radiometric Dating

  • Calcium-41 (Ca-41) is a radioactive isotope of calcium that can be used in radiometric dating methods. It undergoes radioactive decay and transforms into Argon-40 (Ar-40) over time.
  • The ratio of Ca-41 to Ar-40 in a sample can be measured, and by knowing the half-life of Ca-41, the age of the sample can be determined.
  • Ca-41 dating is not commonly employed in dating methods involving carbon-based materials like charcoal and bone, as mentioned in option D. Carbon dating methods, which rely on the decay of Carbon-14 (C-14), are specifically designed for dating organic materials. Therefore, option D is incorrect.
  • In summary, Calcium-41 (Ca-41) decays into Argon-40 (Ar-40), and the ratio of Ca-41 to Ar-40 can be used to calculate the age of rocks and minerals.
  • It is not suitable for dating organic materials, has a half-life of approximately 100,000 years, and is commonly applied in geological dating rather than carbon-based dating methods.


Karnataka’s new, yet daunting, journey to development


Over a 35-year period, between August 1988 to May 2023, the State has had 18 different governments and was under President’s Rule four times. So, it is 22 different configurations across a 35-year period, leading to a not-so-healthy average of 18 months per configuration.

A trillion dollar economy goal

  • GDP growth: Karnataka aspires to become a trillion-dollar economy by 2032 and needs a 17%-18% Compound Annual Growth Rate in its Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) to make this happen over the next decade while the current CAGR is around 13%.
  • Skewed economy: Its GDP is around $250 billion, but the distribution is skewed, with the bulk of the contribution from the services sector.
  • Deficits: Karnataka owes about ?4,000-plus crore to power generation companies. Also, various government departments owe about ?6,000-plus crore to various electricity distribution utilities. With the free power promise, these numbers can further deteriorate.

Skilling and reforms

  • Telangana model: Telangana offers a good model to emulate, where the Telangana Academy for Skill and Knowledge (TASK) has trained and deployed an over 1,80,000 skilled workforce in the electronics industry. Karnataka needs to do this in electronics, software etc.
  • Entrepreneurship university: It must establish a greenfield skills and entrepreneurship university with intense partnerships with the private sector, on the lines of the institutes of eminence
  • Private-public task: Karnataka has had a history of broadly successful private-public task forces such as BATF, the Karnataka IT and biotechnology vision groups, all aimed at channelizing private sector ideas and resources to enhance government effectiveness.

    On Agriculture

    • Agriculture policy: Karnataka should implement the agriculture start-up policy to engender better funding, develop incubation infrastructure including branding and marketing, foster industry partnerships, and provide sensible state support in the form of market-aligned incentives. 
    • Amend Cooperative societies Act: Karnataka needs to amend the Co-Operative Societies Act to permit some kind of a pari-passu charge to rocket ship agriculture credit which remains low.
    • Startup policy: Karnataka should have a modern start-up policy in line with the demands of the times. This should come among the first five priorities of the new government to make the sector, currently embattled, roar again. 
      You must be logged in to get greater insights.


      QUIZ - 23rd May 2023
      GS Classes 2024 Optional Foundation Optional Q&A mains test series 2023 mains classes 2023 UPSC Study Material

      Verifying, please be patient.

      Enquire Now