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26th April 2023

Kerala’s Thirunelly temple’s structures need protection


The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has urged the government to conserve the historically significant structures, including the 600-year-old ‘Vilakkumadom’, an exquisite granite structure, at the Sree Mahavishnu Temple at Thirunelly in Wayanad district during the on-going renovation of the temple.

About the temple
  • Thirunelli Temple is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Maha Vishnu on the side of Brahmagiri hill in Kerala. 

  • East: The Tirunelli temple faces east where the sun rises over the Udayagiri range. 
  • North: At the north is the formidable Brahmagiri Range which appears so close to the temple.
  • West and South: At the west and south are Karimala and Narinirangimala respectively.
  • Style: The 15th-century structure is built in the typical Kerala style, with tiled roofs. 
    • A local ruler began building a stone structure, but he was interrupted by a war, and a few pillars stand in solitude in memory of the attempt. 
    • An impressive structure from that period is an aqueduct, bringing water from the hill streams to the temple.
  • Thirunelli Temple is the only temple in the world where devotees can perform all the rituals related to one’s life, starting from birth to death and life after death. Panchatheertham is the temple's holy pond.
  • Kashi of the South: It is believed that here the prathishta of Lord Vishnu was performed by Lord Brahma. It is also known as ''Sahyamala Kshetram'' and ''Kashi of the South''.


The Vilakkumadom at Thirunelly temple, an exquisite granite structure, is incomplete and its incompleteness is a part of history. It is said that the work was initiated by the King of Coorg without the knowledge of the temple’s custodian, the Kottayam Raja. The Kottayam Raja later stopped the works and the structure remained untouched afterwards. 

26 States and UTs adopts Bhu-Aadhar: DoLR


The Department of Land Records (DoLR) has informed that at least 26 States and UTs have adopted the Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN) or Bhu-Aadhar and seven more States are conducting a pilot test of the project.

What is Bhu-Aadhaar?

  • The Bhu-Aadhaar or ULPIN is a “14-digit alpha-numeric number generated based on the latitude longitude of the vertices of each land parcel”. 
  • It is designated to be the “single, authoritative source of truth of information on any parcel of land or property to provide integrated land services to the citizens as well as all stakeholders”.

Other important initiatives for land records

Bhu-Naksha initiative

  • The Bhu-Naksha project introduced in 2022 is another project under the Digital India Land Record Modernisation Programme implemented in 2016. 
  • The Bhu-Naksha initiative provisions for mapping boundaries and conducting spatial measurement of land to computerize land records and produce digitized maps of a region with parcels of demarcated land. 
    • These maps are editable based on the results of property divisions in G2G (govt to govt) and G2C (govt to citizen) domains. 
    • These parcels of land are then identified by a Bhu-Aadhaar number.

National Generic Document Registration System (NGDRS)

  • As many as 28 States and Union Territories (UTs) in the country have adopted the National Generic Document Registration System (NGDRS).
  • NGDRS is a digital portal for maintaining land records.
  • The NGDRS is an application developed for allowing people to buy land online via electronic registration of property and documents. The project was initiated by the Department of Land Resources under the aegis of the Ministry of Rural Development.

What is India aiming for?

  • The Indian government is aiming to digitize 100 per cent of land records by 2024. 
  • The initiative to create a unified database for land and property records comes alongside other government projects to digitize health and education records through a similar foundational plan which involves creating separate registries for stakeholder entities, a unique ID (in this case the Bhu-Aadhaar) linked to common national IDs like Aadhaar and integration of these databases via APIs which allow for interoperability of services like registrations, managing certifications, transfer of land ownership, etc.

What is the need?

  • Land disputes account for 66 per cent of civil cases in the country. 
  • These disputes mainly arise out of issues related to land ownership and whether or not the state has the power to redistribute land, which may have historically been inhabited by various indigenous communities of that region. 

What are the challenges?

As the government speeds up the process to digitize land records, concerns related to

  • accuracy in mapping the areas as per physical demarcations
  • lack of documentation
  • manipulation of digital records
  • uncertainties about mechanisms to challenge digital records on the basis of existing rules

Genome sequencing and the Genome India Project


The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) recently said that the exercise to sequence 10,000 Indian human genomes and create a database under the Centre-backed Genome India Project is about two-thirds complete. 

What is the human genome?

  • The human genome is the entire set of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) residing in the nucleus of every cell of each human body. 
  • It carries the complete genetic information responsible for the development and functioning of the organism. 
  • Base: The DNA consists of a double-stranded molecule built up by four bases – 
    • adenine (A)
    • cytosine (C)
    • guanine (G) 
    • thymine (T)
  • Every base on one strand pairs with a complementary base on the other strand (A with T and C with G).
  • In all, the genome is made up of approximately 3.05 billion such base pairs. 

What is genome sequencing?

  • While the sequence or order of base pairs is identical in all humans, there are differences in the genome of every human being that make them unique. 
  • The process of deciphering the order of base pairs, to decode the genetic fingerprint of a human is called genome sequencing.
  • Human Genome Project: In 1990, a group of scientists began to work on determining the whole sequence of the human genome under the Human Genome Project.
    • The first results of the complete human genome sequence were given in 2003. However, some percentage of repetitive parts were yet to be sequenced. 
    • The Human Genome Project released the latest version of the complete human genome in 2023, with a 0.3% error margin. 
  • Genome India project: Genome India Project is a research initiative   to gather samples, compile data, conduct research, and create an ‘Indian reference genome' grid
    • India’s 1.3 billion-strong population consists of over 4,600 population groups, many of which are endogamous. Thus, the Indian population harbours distinct variations, with disease-causing mutations often amplified within some of these groups. 
    • Creating a database of Indian genomes allows researchers to learn about genetic variants unique to India’s population groups and use that to customise drugs and therapies. 

Application of genome sequencing

  • Genome sequencing has been used to evaluate rare disorders, preconditions for disorders, and even cancer from the viewpoint of genetics, rather than as diseases of certain organs.
  • Nearly 10,000 diseases — including cystic fibrosis and thalassemia — are known to be the result of a single gene malfunctioning.

In a first, fly ash particles found in Antarctic ice


Spheroidal carbonaceous particles (SCP), a component of fly ash, have been identified for the first time in an Antarctic ice core, according to a new study.

What is fly ash?

  • Fly ash is a residue generated in combustion and comprises the fine particles that rise with the flue gases. 
  • Fly ash is a heterogeneous material. The main chemical components present in fly ash are:
    • Silicon dioxide
    • Aluminium oxide
    • Ferric oxide
    • Calcium oxide (occasionally)
  • Source: Coal-fired power plants are the biggest sources of fly ash, which contains toxic chemicals such as arsenic, barium, cadmium, nickel and lead, among others.
  • Impact: Without proper management, fly ash can pollute the waterways, groundwater, drinking water, and air, posing a risk to humans, wildlife, and the environment.

What are the applications?

  • In the commercial and industrial sectors, fly ash has a wide variety of applications and uses, though it is primarily known for improving the durability and workability of concrete mixes. 
  • Fly ash is also a filler in paints, adhesives, and metal and plastic composites. 
  • It's commonly used as structural fill for road construction and fly ash can be used to make bricks, ceramic tiles, plaster, Portland cement, and ready-mix cement.

Indoor air pollution can slow down brain development: Study


India’s poor indoor air quality can impair cognitive development in children under two years — when brain growth is at its peak, according to a study.

What is indoor air pollution? Which air pollutants exist indoors?

  • It refers to the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of air in the indoor environment within a home, building, institution or commercial facility. 
  • A number of air pollutants have been recognised to exist indoors, including NOx, SO2, ozone (O3), CO, volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds (VOCs), PM, radon and microorganisms.
  • Some of these pollutants (NOx, SO2, O3, and PM) are common to both indoor and outdoor environments and some of them may originate from outdoors.
  • These air pollutants can be inorganic, organic, biological or even radioactive.

What factors affect indoor air quality?

  • Indoor air quality is affected by many factors, including:
  • Type and running conditions of indoor pollution sources
  • Ventilation conditions: Air pollutants may accumulate in the indoor environment if the indoor air is not well-ventilated, which seriously affects the health of the inhabitants.
  • Indoor activities (cooking with dirty fuel): According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around three billion people, mostly women in the villages of India and in other parts of the world still cook and heat their homes using dirty solid fuels.
  • These include waste wood, charcoal, coal, dung and abundantly available crop wastes. These are burnt on open fireplaces, cooking stoves etc.
  • This generates a large amount of air pollutants such as
    • sulphur dioxide (SO2
    • nitrous oxides (NOx)
    • carbon monoxide (CO)
    • particulate matter (PM)

Effects of indoor air pollution

The effect of these air pollutants on humans depends on their toxicity, concentration and exposure time and may vary from person to person.

  • Sick building syndrome (SBS): The most common effect is called sick building syndrome (SBS), in which people experience uncomfortable or acute health effects such as irritation of the nose, eyes and throat, skin ailments, allergies and so on.
  • Premature deaths: The WHO fact sheet on household air pollution due to indoor pollutants states that 3.8 million premature deaths occur annually.
    • These include stroke, ischaemic heart diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and lung cancer, all of which are attributed to exposure to household air pollution.
  • More than 116,000 infants in India died within a month of birth in 2019 due to air pollution, outdoor and indoor, according to the State of Global Air 2020 report released on October 21, 2020.
  • Another study published in Environmental Research in February 2021 found that air pollution and higher particulate matter 2.5 concentrations in ambient air originating from fossil fuel combustion caused 2.5 million premature deaths in India in 2018.

Short News Article

International Relations

European countries to expand North Sea wind farms

Nine European countries have pledged to multiply the capacity of offshore wind farms in the North Sea by eight times current levels before 2050, turning it into what Belgium’s energy minister called “Europe’s biggest green power plant”.

  • The North Sea is a part of the Atlantic Ocean, located between Norway and Denmark in the east, Scotland and England in the west, and Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France in the south. 
  • An offshoot of the North Sea is the Skagerrak, between Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, which connects to the Baltic Sea through the Kattegat, Öresund, the Great Belt and the Little Belt. In the south, the North Sea connects with the rest of the Atlantic through the Strait of Dover into the English Channel and in the north through the Norwegian Sea.
  • Major rivers that drain into the North Sea include the Forth (at Edinburgh), Elbe (at Cuxhaven), the Weser (at Bremerhaven), the Ems at Emden, the Rhine and Meuse (at Rotterdam), the Scheldt (at Flushing), the Thames, and the Humber (at Hull). 
  • The Kiel Canal, one of the world's busiest artificial waterways, connects the North Sea with the Baltic.

Science & Technology

Government launches SUPREME

The government launched an initiative to provide financial support for the upgradation and maintenance of analytical instrumentation facilities (AIFs) created under the ministry’s support.


  • The Support for Up-gradation Preventive Repair and Maintenance of Equipment (SUPREME), a first-of-its-kind programme by the government, extends financial support for repair, upgradation, maintenance, retrofitting, or acquiring additional attachments to increase functional capabilities of existing analytical instrumentation facilities.
  • Such facilities at institutions recognised by the University Grants Commission (UGC) are eligible to apply for grants under SUPREME.


India and the SCO paradox


The visit of Chinese and Russian defense ministers to attend a ministerial meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation this week in Delhi is drawing much attention.

Aims and objectives 

  • Establishing Peace: The main objective of the SCO was to promote peace in Eurasia.  
  • Preventing Conflicts: its also aims to cope with the intra-state and inter-state conflicts among the member states. 
  • Counter-terrorism: Counter-terrorism has been the principal preoccupation of the SCO all these years. The rise of terrorism can be seen in the form of attacks in USA ie 9/11.


  • Internal conflicts: Internal conflicts in the SCO are major issues. Many countries face serious conflicts for example between India and China, Delhi and Islamabad, as well as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
  • Aggressive China: China’s rise is increasing the prospects for Beijing’s emergence as the dominant force in inner Asia. Aggressive China is danger for the India. 
  • Ukraine war: Russia’s war in Ukraine is raising questions about Moscow’s capacity to sustain primacy in its backyard. 
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