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5th May 2023

Karaikudi Mani, who revolutionised role of mridangam in concerts, no more


Eminent mridangam artiste Karaikudi Mani, who had dominated Carnatic music, died of age-related issues in Chennai.

  • Born on September 11, 1945, in Karaikudi in the State to T Ramanath Iyer and Pattammal, Mani shifted from vocal training to learning mridangam.
  • He was considered as one among the all-time greatest mridangam vidwans.
  • He had played alongside Carnatic giants like M S Subbulakshmi and D K Pattammal.

About Mridangam

  • Mridangam is a percussion instrument made of leather and jackwood.
  • A cylindrical body tapered at both the ends.
  • This traditional instrument is found in various parts of South India.
  • It is a popular bifacial drum of Carnatic music and is used as an accompaniment in South Indian Classical music.
  • In modern times, Mridangam is used in Carnatic music performances.
  • History
    • Sangam Period: Mridangam is known as Tannumai in Tamil culture.
      • In ancient Tamil literature, Sangam literature there is the earliest mention of the Mridangam.
      • There is a detailed reference of the instrument in the Natyasastra. It was the most used and primary percussion instrument in the Sangam period.
    • Silappatikaram (epic): After the Sangam period, it is mentioned in the epic ‘Silappatikaram’.
    • Hindu religious scriptures: It is said that it was one of the favorite instruments of Lord Ganesha and Lord Shiva’s bahana, Nandi.
  • Mridangam is very close to another classical percussion instrument Pakhavaj that is mostly used in the Hindustani traditional music in Northern India.
  • Mridangam schools: The most famous and prominent Mridangam schools then and now are the Thanjavur School and the Puddukottai School. 
  • Most notable Mridangam players: Guruvayur Dorai, Anoor Anantha Krishna Sharma, Karaikudi Mani, Bombay C N Balaji, Kovai Venugopal, Mannargudi Easwaran, Prapancham Ravindran, Srimushnam Raja Rao, N. Lakshmi Ganesh, Rohan Krishnamurthy, Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, Vasudevan Govindarajan, K. Murthy, Palghat R. Raghu, Tiruvarur Bhaktavatsalam, and more.

Washington Declaration


Recently South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol visited the U.S. to commemorate the 70th anniversary of U.S.-South Korea bilateral relations. Both leaders adopted a new joint statement called the “Washington Declaration.”

  • The successful launch of North Korea’s Hwasong-8 solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a vital component for nuclear weapons delivery, seems to have triggered the U.S. visit of the South Korean President.
  • Both countries wanted to advance the strategic partnership, drawing an alliance over an extended nuclear deterrence plan against the regional aggression of North Korea. 

What does the Washington Declaration say?

  • The agreement outlines cooperation towards deterrence.
  • According to the declaration,
    • An American nuclear ballistic submarine would be deployed in the Korean peninsula
    • A nuclear consultative group would be formed to formulate principles of joint response tactics
    • South Korea would receive Intel from the U.S. regarding nuclear advancements
    • The U.S. will strengthen South Korea’s nuclear deterrence capabilities through joint military training programs and an annual intergovernmental simulation
  • The declaration reaffirmed the non-proliferation Treaty implying that South Korea would not venture into the creation of its own independent nuclear capabilities and would instead focus on deterrence measures through an alliance-based approach.
  • It also mandates the U.S. President as the only ‘sole authority’ to use the nuclear arsenal of the U.S. in the event of a nuclear confrontation.
  • While the existence of the agreement is based on the security needs of South Korea, the policy reflects big power politics where the interests of the larger power (U.S.) takes precedence.

Non-proliferation Treaty

  • The NPT is an international treaty to
    • prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology
    • promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy
    • to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament
  • Entered into force in 1970, The Treaty represents the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States.
  • A total of 191 States have joined the Treaty, including the five nuclear-weapon States.

An upgradation to Manila Pact?

  •  President Yoon Suk Yeol said that South Korea’s new nuclear deterrence agreement with the United States should be understood as an “upgraded” version of the allies’ 1953 Mutual Defence Treaty.
  • Historically, The Allies’ 1953 Mutual Defence Treaty, also known as the Manila Pact, was a collective defence agreement signed in 1951, between the United States, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.
  • The treaty was designed to promote regional stability and prevent the spread of communism in Southeast Asia.

Why is the U.S. not keen on South Korea having a nuclear arsenal?

  • Under significant pressure from the United States, South Korea’s nuclear development programme was hindered and it signed the NPT in 1975. In the 1990s, the U.S. withdrew one hundred nuclear weapons from South Korea as part of their “Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty”. The U.S. was hoping to make North Korea unarm itself.
  • Concerning the progress of North Korea: Secondly, the Nuclear Posture Review 2022 reflects a shift in the U.S. narrative where it is now concerned about the progressing nuclear capacities of North Korea.
  • Global control: The U.S. wants to control global nuclear arms production. It has been reluctant to allow South Korea to develop their own nuclear arsenal as it would hinder the prolonged efforts of controlling nuclear production in the world.


Violence in Manipur


Manipur is witnessing an outbreak of violence due to the protest against the Meitei demand for Scheduled Tribe status.


About Meitei community

  • The Meitei are the largest community in Manipur. They are dominant in the capital Imphal and are the ones commonly referred to as Manipuri.
    • According to the last census of 2011, they are 64.6 per cent of the state population but occupy only about 10 per cent of the landmass of Manipur.
  • Other tribes: On the other hand, there are the tribals known as the Nagas and Kukis, who account for nearly 40 per cent of the population but reside across 90 per cent of Manipur’s land.
  • While the Meiteis are mostly Hindu, the Nagas and Kuki-Zomis are mainly Christian. Manipur has nearly equal populations of Hindus and Christians, at around 41 per cent each, according to data from the 2011 census.

Why are Tribes against the ST status for Meitei?

  • Tribals including Nagas, Zomis, and Kukis against the ST status for Meitei. They comprise around 40 per cent of the state’s population.
  • The Meitei community are already classified under Scheduled Castes (SC) or Other Backward Classes (OBC) and is privy to opportunities that are afforded by that tag.
  • The ST communities of Manipur fear the loss of job opportunities and other affirmative actions granted to STs by the Constitution of India to a much-advanced community like the Meitei.
  • Apart from being the majority community, Meiteis also have more representation in Manipur Assembly.
  • That’s because 40 of the 60 Assembly seats in the state are from the Imphal Valley region – the area that is mostly inhabited by the Meiteis.

Push for Scheduled Tribe status

  • As of today, 34 sub-tribes of the Naga and Kuki-Zomi tribes are on the government’s list of Scheduled Tribes, but the Meiteis are not.
  • However, the Meiteis have long been demanding Scheduled Tribe status, arguing that it needs to be protected from the influx of outsiders and “infiltration”.

Claims made by Meiteis Community

  • The Meiteis blame their troubles on “large-scale illegal immigration” from Myanmar and Bangladesh and have sought ST status.

Short News Article

Polity & Governance

Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT)

Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), New Delhi celebrated its Diamond Jubilee on its 60th Foundation Day on 2nd May 2023.

About IIFT

  • The Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) was established in 1963 as an autonomous body under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry to contribute in the skill building for the external trade sector of India.
  • The Institute was granted “Deemed to be University” status in 2002.
  • The Institute was granted the prestigious AACSB accreditation on 17th November, 2021. 
  • With this the IIFT figures amongst 900+ Business School of the world which have earned this accreditation.
  • The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) has recognized IIFT as Grade ‘A’ Institution in 2005 as well as in 2015.


Rare Black Tiger in Similipal Tiger Reserve

Recently, the death of a Rare Black Tiger was reported in the Similipal Tiger Reservein Odisha.


  • Tigers bear a distinctive dark stripe on a light background — either golden or white.
  • A rare variation in pattern, distinguished by broad stripes fused together, has also been observed among both captive and wild tiger populations. 


  • This pseudo-melanism, unlike true melanism, is characterised by unusually high melanin deposition.
  • Pseudo-melanism is linked to only one mutation in Transmembrane Aminopeptidase Q (Taqpep).
  • This is the same gene that is responsible for similar traits in other cat species.
  • Pseudo-melanism is caused by a hidden or recessive gene.
  • A cub gets from both parents two copies of each gene — the recessive gene manifests itself only if the dominant one is absent.
  • This means two tigers with normal patterns carrying the recessive gene will have to breed for a one-in-four probability of birthing a black cub.
  • Recessive genes are, however, rare. As a result, it is unlikely that two unrelated tigers will carry the same gene and then pass it on to a cub together.
  • A black tiger may succeed in a small founding population forced for generations to inbreed in isolation, offering the recessive gene a far higher chance to show up. 


A boost for Science, a wider window to the universe


The United States National Science Foundation is partnering with top U.S. universities and India’s Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology, or RRCAT (a unit of the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India) to launch LIGO-India.


  • General theory of relativity: Albert Einstein’s 1916 general theory of relativity first predicted the phenomenon of gravitational waves. But it took physicists another century to prove the theory.
  • Failed to observe: Most of the history of astronomy has been accomplished by observing light and the electromagnetic spectrum, everything from radio waves to infrared and visible light to high-energy x-rays and gamma rays, but gravitational waves are fundamentally different. They are ripples in space-time, the fabric of the universe itself.
  • First observation: In 2015, for the first time in human history, physicists observed the gravitational waves emanating from two merging black holes, 1.3 million light years from earth.
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