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29th September 2022

Centre Extends Free Ration scheme for 3 months

Context

The Central government recently announced an extension of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY) for another three months until December 2022.

About

About PMGK Anna Yojana

  • The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) is a free food grain scheme introduced in March 2020
  • Objective: To alleviate Covid distress.
  • The scheme as part of Atmanirbhar Bharat to supply free food grains to migrants and poor
  • Different Phases:
    • Phase-I and Phase-II of this scheme was operational from April to June, 2020 and July to November, 2020 respectively.
    • Phase-III of the scheme was operational from May to June, 2021.
    • Phase-IV of the scheme during July-November, 2021 and
    • Phase V from December 2021 till March, 2022.
    • Phase VI from April-September, 2022.
      • Financial implication for the Central government has been about Rs. 3.45 Lakh Crore upto Phase-VI of PMGKAY.
    • The PMGKAY scheme for Phase VII from September to December 2022 would entail an estimated additional food subsidy of 44,762 Crore.
      • The total outgo in terms of food grains for PMGKAY Phase VII is likely to be about 122 LMT.
  • Benefits allocated:
    • PMGKAY beneficiaries get 5kg free ration per person per month in addition to their normal quota of food grains under the National Food Security Act.
    • Under NFSA, highly subsidised food grains are provided to about 75% rural and 50% urban population of the country.
  • Eligibility:
    • Families belonging to the Below Poverty Line - Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Priority Households (PHH) categories will be eligible for the scheme.
    • AAY families are to be identified by States/UTs as per the criteria prescribed by the Central Government.
    • Households headed by widows or terminally ill persons or disabled persons or persons aged 60 years or more with no assured means of subsistence or societal support.
    • All primitive tribal
    • Landless agriculture labourers, marginal farmers, rural artisans/craftsmen such as potters, tanners, weavers, blacksmiths, carpenters, slum dwellers, and persons earning their livelihood on daily basis in the informal sector are included under the scheme.

Regulatory Bodies involved

  • Public Food Distribution System in States
  • Ministry of health and Family welfare
  • Ministry of finance

ASI finds Buddhist caves, and temples in MP.

Context

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has reported 20 Buddhist caves, ranging from the 2nd Century BC to 5th Century BC, at Madhya Pradesh’s Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve.

About
  • The Buddhist religious artefacts found in the region of Baghelkhand are of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism.
  • Significance: The Buddhist relics found are from a period when Hinduism flourished in the region
  • This is also the first time Bandhavgarh has been explored since archaeologist NP Chakravarti last explored it in 1938.
  • Key Findings: Some of the key findings are
    • board games
    • monolith depicting the ten avatars of Vishnu
    • a votive stupa
    • two Saiva Math belonging to the Kalachuri period
    • chaitya-shaped doors, coins, stampage and as many as 46 new sculptures which were never seen before
    • Fragments of a Buddhist pillar dating to the 2nd or 3rd Century BC were found at the site as well
    • Over 24 Brahmi inscriptions, dating to 2nd Century to 5th Century BC, were also found.
      • The inscriptions mention sites such as Mathura and Kaushambi, and Pavata, Vejabharada and Sapatanaairikaa.
      • The kings they mention include Bhimsena, Pothasiri and Bhattadeva.
    • Also part of the findings is 26 ancient temples and remains from the Kalachuri period.
    • The team also found evidence of 19 water bodies.
    • Remains of the Gupta period, such as door jambs and carvings from 4th to 5th century BC were documented during the exploration.

The Kalachuri dynasty, which spread over parts of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, is also associated with the earliest Ellora and Elephanta cave monuments.

About Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve:

  • Bandhavgarh National Park is located in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Bandhavgarh was declared a national park in 1968 and then became Tiger Reserve in 1993.
  • Historical Significance: Its mention can be found in the ancient books of the ‘Narad Pancharatra’ and the ‘Shiv Purana’ that this place is being associated with Ramayana.
  • The park derives its name from the most prominent hillock of the area, which was said to be given by Hindu Lord Rama to his brother Lakshmana to keep a watch on Lanka. Hence the name Bandhavgarh (Sanskrit: Brother's Fort).
  • The Bandhavgarh Fort is a great masterpiece of “Treta Yuga” (one of the ages of mankind in Hinduism).
  • It was ruled by major dynasties including Sengars, the Kalchuris, and the Baghels (believed to rule the regions for the longer period).

About Archaeological Survey of India (ASI):

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), under the Ministry of Culture, is the premier organization for the archaeological researches and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation.
  • Maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance is the prime concern of the ASI.
  • Besides it regulate all archaeological activities in the country as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
  • It also regulates Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.

New Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)

Context

The Government of India has recently appointed Lieutenant General Anil Chauhan (Retired) as the next Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).

About

Who is Lieutenant General Anil Chauhan?

  • Lt Gen Chauhan is known as the ‘China expert’ who has had multiple tenures in the Eastern Command and retired as the Eastern Army Commander on 31 May, 2021.
  • Before assuming charge of the Eastern Command, the officer, who has a career spanning over nearly 40 years, was the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) during the Balakot air strike in 2019.
  • He was commissioned into the 11 Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army in 1981.
  • Lt Gen Chauhan was also the architect of Operation Sunrise, a joint Indo-Myanmar military operation that targeted multiple insurgent groups in the Northeast in 2019.
  • As the CDS, Lt Gen Chauhan will lead India’s theaterisation effort, with the three Services yet to sort their differences over the exact structure and command.
  • He will also be functioning as Secretary to Government of India, Department of Military Affairs.
  • He will also be making a priority list of procurements that needs to be made while taking into account joint acquisitions rather than each Service following its own list.

About Chief of Defence Staff (CDS):


  • The post of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in the rank of a four star General with salary and perquisites at par with a Service Chief was created in 2019.
  • The CDS is meant to be a single-point military advisor to the government, and to coordinate long-term planning, procurements, training and logistics of the three services.
  • The dual-hatted role refers to the two hats the CDS wears:
    • the permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee which has the three service chiefs as members
    • head of the newly created Department of Military Affairs (DMA) in the ministry

Role of Chief of Defence Staff:

  • Principal Military Adviser: CDS acts as the Principal Military Adviser to the Defence Minister on tri-services matters. He is also be the military adviser to the Nuclear Command Authority (chaired by the Prime Minister), which handles India’s nuclear arsenal.
  • Department of Military Affairs’ Head:The Department of Military Affairs will also be headed by the CDS. The mandate of the Department of Military Affairs will include the following areas:
  • Promoting jointness in procurement, training and staffing for the Services.
  • Facilitation of restructuring of Military Commands for optimal utilisation of resources.
  • Promoting use of indigenous equipment by the Services.
  • Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee: The CDS will be the permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC). As a permanent chair, CDS will:
  • Administer all tri-service organisations and commands.
  • Function as the Military Adviser to the Nuclear Command Authority.
  • Implement the five year Defence Capital Acquisition Plan (DCAP) and the two year roll on Annual Acquisition Plans.
  • Coordinate operation, logistics, transport, training, support services communications, etc. of the three Services

Redevelopment plan for Ujjain’s Mahakaleshwar temple

Context

The first phase of the Mahakaleshwar Corridor, which cost Rs 350 crore, is complete now and all set for inauguration.

About

What is the Mahakal corridor?

  • Mahakal Maharaj Mandir Parisar Vistar Yojna is a plan for the expansion, beautification, and decongestion of the Mahakaleshwar temple and its adjoining area in Ujjain district.
  • Under the plan, the Mahakaleshwar temple premises of around 2.82 hectares is being increased to 47 hectares, which will be developed in two phases by the Ujjain district administration.
  • This will include the 17 hectares of
  • The project is expected to increase annual footfall in the city from the current 1.50 crore to nearly three crore.

First phases of the Mandir Parisar Vistar Yojna

  • One of the aspects of the Vistar Yojna’s first phase is a visitor plaza with two entrances or Dwaars — the Nandi Dwaar and the PinakiDwaar.
    • The visitor plaza can hold up to 20,000 pilgrims at a time.
    • A circulation plan to reduce congestion has also been developed, keeping in mind the entry of visitors into the city and their movement up to the temple.
  • A 900-metre pedestrian corridor has been constructed, connecting the plaza to the Mahakal temple, dotted with 108 murals and 93 statues depicting stories related to Lord Shiva, such as Shiv Vivah, TripurasurVadh, Shiv Puran, and Shiv TandavSwaroop.
  • The first phase is complete and will be inaugurated by PM Modi on October 11. In a cabinet meeting held recently in Ujjain, the Mahakal corridor was renamed as

Second phase of the plan:

  • It also includes development of various areas of Ujjain city, such as Maharajwada, Mahal Gate, Hari Phatak Bridge, Ramghat façade, and BegamBagh Road.
  • Buildings in Maharajwada will be redeveloped and connected to the Mahakal temple campus, while a heritage dharamshala and Kumbh museum will be built.
  • The second phase is being developed with funding from AgenceFrancaise de Development (AFD) under the City Investments to Innovate Integrate and Sustainable (CITIIS) programme.

Mahakaleshwar Temple

  • Mahakaleshwar, which means the ‘Lord of time’, refers to Lord Shiva. As per Hindu mythology, the temple was constructed by Lord Brahma and is presently located alongside the holy river Kshipra.
  • MahakaleshwarJyotirlinga in Ujjain is one of the 12 jyotirlingas considered the most sacred abodes of Shiva.
  • The temple’s Mahakal Lingam is believed to be Swayambhu (self-manifested) and unlike any other jyotirlingas in the country, the idol of Mahakaleshwar faces south.
  • The shrine is revered as one the 18 MahaShaktiaPeeth in India.
  • The temple in its present form was built by the Maratha general RanojiShinde in 1734 CE.

 

I2U2 & India’s food security challenges

Context

On the sidelines of the 77th Session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), I2U2 (India-Israel-UAE-US), leaders discussed various important issues. Among themprominence was given to food security – the latest entrant to the mutual areas of interest.

About

Key-objective

  • Setting up food parks across India and hybrid renewable and clean energy storage project in Dwarka, Gujarat, are the two ongoing projects wherein all the partners are committed to work together and deepen their economic partnership.

I2U2:

  • I2U2 stands for India, Israel, the UAE, and the US.
  • The genesis of this group took place in middle-east to harness the maritime traffic of the Strait of Hormuz, Bab Al Mandab and Suez Canal region.
  • Out of the 8 maritime choke points in the world, these three lie closer to each other around Israel and UAE.

What is Food Security?

  • According to NFSA, Food Security is defined as the availability of sufficient food grains to meet the domestic demand as well as access, at the individual level, to adequate means of food at affordable prices.
  • The globally recognized definition of food security is access to food at the household level at all times to ensure a healthy and active life for all its members.

Challenges

Required Measures

  • prevalence of inequality among the society
  • unsuccessful delivery of public services
  • pathetic liability system
  • infringement in the implementation of pro-poor policies

 

  • Addressing major challenges of low GDP per capita, sufficiency of supply, public expenditure on R&D and protein quality
  • Enhancing agricultural sector
  • Need to shift from the existing expensive, inefficient, and corruption-ridden institutional arrangements in a transparent manner and are self-targeting
    • Eg.- Automatic Grain Dispenser or Grain ATM.
  • Ensuring quality food
  • Government needs to conduct a fresh national survey on food insecurity

Important Government Scheme promoting food and nutrition security

  • Mid-Day Meal Programme
  • National Food Security Act
  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act
  • Public Distribution System
  • Antyodaya Anna Yojana
  • National Nutrition Mission
  • Zero Hunger Programme
  • Eat Right India Movement

Right to Food

  • The right to food is fundamental to living a dignified life. It is a person's fundamental human right.
  • Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, coupled with Articles 39(a) and 47, safeguards the right to food and makes it mandatory for the state to ensure that it is effectively realized.
  • The Supreme Court of India has also recognized the right.

China-Japan relations

Context

Japan and China recently mark the 50th anniversary of the 1972 normalization of their ties.

About

Areas of Conflict between China and Japan:

  • Territorial disputes
    • A huge source of contention is an uninhabited group of Tokyo-controlled, Beijing-claimed East China Sea islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
    • Japan insists that the islands, which once hosted a Japanese seafood factory, are part of its territory, both historically and by international law.
    • China says they were stolen by Japan in 1895 and should have been returned at the end of World War II.
    • The 1972 normalization communique did not deal with the issue, but the dispute intensified after Japan’s government in 2012 nationalized the Senkaku islands, leading to violent protests across China.
    • Chinese coast guard and fishing boats are regularly found in the area, routinely violating Japanese waters.
  • Fear of Taiwan Emergency
    • Japan, along with its security ally the United States, has openly criticized increased Chinese activities in the South China Seas.
    • Tokyo has also pushed for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. China claims Taiwan, a self-governing democracy, and has threatened to annex it by force if necessary.
    • With a U.S.-China trade war and naval tensions on the rise in the area, Japan is increasingly worried about Taiwan emergencies.
  • Wartime History:
    • Japanese atrocities during the Sino-Japanese war include the Rape of Nanking, the use of chemical and biological weapons and grisly human medical experiments in Manchuria, where Japan’s imperial army had a secret biological weapons unit.
    • Japan also brought nearly 40,000 Chinese laborers to Japanese mines and factories, where many died of malnutrition and abuse.
    • In the 1972 communique, China waived the right to war compensation, which some experts say was in exchange for Japan’s apology and recognition of China as the only legal government. Japan, however, has provided official development aid totalling 3.6 trillion yen ($25 billion) to China over the past four decades.
  • Yasukuni Shrine
    • China considers Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine — which honors 2.5 million war dead, including convicted war criminals — as a symbol of Japan’s wartime militarism.
    • Beijing views visits by Japanese ministers and lawmakers to the Tokyo shrine as indicative of a lack of remorse over Japan’s wartime aggression.
    • China, along with South Korea, which Japan colonized from 1910-1945, routinely protests against such visits.
  • Economic Security
    • As a top U.S. ally and a major trade partner with China, Japan is in a delicate situation and must balance its position between the two superpowers.
    • China has been more assertive about pressing other governments to embrace Chinese-led initiatives, including a trade group called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
    • Japan, along with the United States, is seeking ways to stand up to increasing Chinese economic influence in the region.
    • Tokyo also wants to reinforce economic security with other democracies in areas such as supply chains and the protection of sensitive technologies, apparently as a counter to China.

Italian Space Agency releases LICIACube images of DART crash

Context

The Italian Space Agency has released images of the collision captured by its LICIACube a few minutes after the collision.

About
  • LICIACube sent the images of NASA spacecraft-asteroid collision within minutes of the impact.
  • Images such as these will be crucial in helping scientists understand the structure and composition of Dimorphos, which will be important to ascertain how effective DART was in diverting the asteroid.

About LICIACube:

  • The LICIACube, also known as the Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging Asteroids, was launched from the Earth alongside the DART impactor.
  • The CubeSat was given the important task of taking pictures prior to the collision and then flying away and taking pictures of the wreckage left behind.
  • Role of LICIACube:
    • The two cameras on CubeSat are capable of comprehensive images to provide NASA with the essential information regarding the crash.
    • The cameras have been designed to take an image every six seconds till the impact. And afterward, during its flyby of the asteroid, LICIACube was tasked with taking three high-resolution images focusing on the asteroid, the impact and the debris left behind.
    • Interestingly, during its flyby, the LICIACube was also entrusted to visit another side of the asteroid and take images, something the NASA DART Impactor was never able to see.
  • The design of the LICIACube spacecraft is based on a 6U platform developed by the aerospace company Argotec  in the framework of the ArgoMoon mission, adequately suited for the LICIACube mission, which will host two instruments:
    • LEIA (LICIACube Explorer Imaging for Asteroid), a narrow field panchromatic camera to acquire images from long distance with a high spatial resolution.
    • LUKE (LICIACube Unit Key Explorer), a wide field RGB camera, allowing a multicolor analysis of the asteroidal environment.
  • Objectives of the LICIACube mission can be summarized as follows:
    • to witness the DART impact on the Dimorphos surface;
    • study the formation of the plume generated by the impact, in particular to characterize its structure and evolution, directly linked to the structure of the asteroid surface material;
    • characterize – depending on the plume’s dissipation rate – the impact site on the Dimorphos surface, to obtain measures of the crater’s size and morphology;
    • Observing the non-impacted hemisphere, to contribute to dimension and volume estimate of the target itself.

Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART)

  • DART is the first-ever mission dedicated to investigating and demonstrating one method of asteroid deflection by changing an asteroid’s motion in space through kinetic impact.
  • This method will have DART deliberately collide with a target asteroid which poses no threat to Earth, in order to change its speed and path.
  • DART’s target is the binary, near-Earth asteroid system Didymos, composed of the roughly 780-meter (2,560-foot) -diameter “Didymos” and the smaller, approximately 160-meter (530-foot)-size “Dimorphos,” which orbits Didymos.
  • DART will impact Dimorphos to change its orbit within the binary system.
  • DART is also carrying a cubesat that will film the larger spacecraft's impact and beam the footage back to researchers on Earth.
  • At the time of DART's impact, Didymos will be visible enough to be a good candidate for study and distant enough to be no danger, at approximately 6.8 million miles (11 kilometers) away from Earth.

Editorial

Rediscovery of the south

Context:

  • G-20 presidency is an opportunity to position India as the voice of the Global South rather than hitching its wagons to the West.

Staying South-Voice of Global South

  • Global South: The term global South generally refers to countries classified by the World Bank as low or middle-income that are located in Africa, Asia, Oceania, Latin America, and the Caribbean. It is a fashionable term of the aspirational Third World — “Global South”.
  • Change in Indian official outlook: The main factors responsible for this are: the persistent unwillingness of the Big Five (the US, Russia, China, France, and UK) to reform the UN; Western deglobalization; disinterest in the reform of multilateral financial and trade organizations; Failure on the part of the US, EU, China, and Japan to address the problem of mounting external debt burden of developing countries; the impasse on climate change.
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ThinkQ

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QUIZ - 29th September 2022

Mains Question:

“The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is the principal military advisor to the Defence Minister”. Discuss (150 words)

Question Mapping

  • Subject: Polity & Governance (GS-II)
    • Sub-topic:  Appointment to various Constitutional Posts, Powers, Functions and Responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

Approach 

  • Introduction- brief about the post of CDS
  • created in 2019 on the recommendations of Shekatkar committee
  • Discuss about the role of CDS as the Principal Military Adviser to the defence minister on all tri-services matters
  • Other major duties and functions 
    • To head the Department of Military and function as its Secretary.
    • To function as the Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee
    • To administer the Tri-Service organizations/agencies/commands.
    • To function as the Military Advisor to the Nuclear Command Authority.
    • To bring about jointness in operation, logistics, transport, training, support services, communications, repairs and maintenance, etc of the three Services.
  • Conclude accordingly 
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