What's New :

6th March 2023

Burial sites of Charaideo


Assam’s pyramid-like structures known as moidams or maidams have met all the technical requirements of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre.

  • They were recently nominated for a Heritage site in Assam.
About the development:
  • Charaideo in eastern Assam has more than 90 moidams, the mound-burial system of the Ahoms who ruled large swathes of the present-day State and beyond for some 600 years until the advent of the British in the 1820s.
  • The nomination of Moidams – the Mound-Burial System of the Ahom Dynasty met all of the technical requirements outlined in the Operational Guidelines concerning the completeness check of nominations to the World Heritage List.
  • The nomination of the Charaideo Moidams coincided with the 400th birth anniversary of Lachit Borphukan, the most celebrated Ahom general who thwarted the attempts of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb’s army to capture Assam.

The technical completeness of a nomination does not imply that the site concerned is of Outstanding Universal Value and would necessarily be inscribed on the World Heritage List.

Charaideo: Significance

  • Moidams (or Maidams) represent the late medieval (13th-19th century CE) mound-burial tradition of the Tai Ahoms in Assam, which lasted almost 600 years.
  • 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.
  • Out of 386 Moidams explored so far, 90 royal burials at Charaideo are the best preserved, representative, and most complete examples of this tradition.
  • The Charaideo Moidams enshrine the mortal remains of Ahom royalty along with the objects they cherished.
  • But after the 18th century, the Ahom rulers adopted the Hindu method of cremation, later entombing the cremated bones and ashes in a Moidam 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 Dadara in 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), 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 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.

Manual Scavenging and laws


A recent video which got viral from the Dharampuri region of Tamil Nadu shows the dark reality of India’s Caste system and the still prevalent manual scavenging in parts of the country by a specific caste group.

  • This is a violation of Fundamental rights and Laws made against scavenging.

What is Manual Scavenging?

  • Manual evacuation refers to the process of removing human and animal waste from dry toilets and transporting it for disposal.
  • It was officially banned by the anti-manual scavenging Act in 1993 as a degrading practice.
  • Unfortunately, snatching by hand is still going on. According to the Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011, 1.8 million families have joined the scam to earn a living.
  • Not only does it violate basic human rights to life but it also poses a serious threat to human health.

The data:

  • In April 2022, the Centre said that there have been no manual scavenging deaths in the country but 161 workers died cleaning sewers and septic tanks in the last three years.
  • Tamil Nadu reported the highest number of such deaths at 27 followed by 26 in Uttar Pradesh, according to government data.

Laws related to manual scavenging:

  • Amendment Act: Introduction of 'The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (Amendment) Bill, 2020' as part of the National Action Plan for the Department of Justice and Empowerment.
  • Aim:
  • The Plan aims to make the modern sewerage system more efficient and less fuel-efficient; the establishment of a sewerage system and sewage treatment system with transport tanks, transport and treatment of sewage treatment; to equip municipalities, and establish Clean Response Units with support lines.
  • The Bill makes the following important changes:
  • Mechanical Cleaning: The Bill proposes to completely clean sewage systems and provide better occupational safety and compensation in the event of an accident.
  • Penalty: The Bill proposes to make the law prohibiting the seizure of hands more severe by increasing the time of detention and fines.

Currently, engaging any person for the purpose of hazardous cleaning of sewer pipes and sewerage tanks by any person or agency is punishable by imprisonment for up to five years or a fine of up to Rs.5 lakh or both.

  • Funds: Funds will be given directly to sanitation workers and not to municipalities or contractors to purchase equipment.

Other related provisions:

  • The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 prohibits the construction or maintenance of unhygienic toilets and the hiring of any person by hand cleaning or hazardous cleaning of sewer pipes and swimming pools.
  • It also provides measures to rehabilitate people identified by the Municipality as service providers.
  • In 2014, the Supreme Court ordered the government to identify all those who died in the wild since 1993 and to provide Rs.10 lakh each as compensation for their families.
  • In 1993, the Government of India introduced the Manual Scavengers and the Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act prohibiting the hiring of hand-operated scavengers to clean dry toilets and the construction of flush toilets.
  • In 1989, the Prevention of Atrocities Act became an integrated security guard for sanitation workers; more than 90% of the people employed as handicraftsmen belong to Organized Castes. This was an important sign of the liberation of artisans from selected traditional practices.
  • Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees the ‘Right to Life’ and also with dignity.

How it is an Institutional failure?

  • Persistence in various provinces: Recent examples from communities involved in genocide in the provinces of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh underscore the government's failure to eradicate genocide and eradicate deeply entrenched ideologies and practices that still bind members of affected communities.
  • Law Enforcement: India's constitution prohibits the practice of non-compliance, and the Bill of Rights, 1955, prohibits forcing anyone to use hand-scratching. The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993 declared that the employment of hand guards and the construction of dry toilets would be punishable by fines and imprisonment. Yet its persistence reflects the failure of the law and the country.
  • Deaths: Safai Karmachari Andolan, reported 1,269 people were killed in the 2014-16 genocide.
  • Reports of deaths of workers involved in cleaning and repairing pits in the mines, during the ‘Swachh Bharat’ period show the state’s failure to eradicate the practice.

Recent developments:

  • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment will amend the law for making machine cleaning mandatory, whereas the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched the ‘SafaimitraSuraksha Challenge.’
  • Technological development:
  • The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras has developed a robot with the aim to eliminate manual scavenging in India.
  • Around 10 units will be deployed across Tamil Nadu and the plan is to put them to use in Gujarat and Maharashtra next.

India’s should not remain prisoner of the past: SC


The Supreme Court while dismissing a petition which sought directions to restore the names of places changed by “foreign barbaric invaders” has mentioned that a country cannot remain a ‘prisoner of the past’.

What is the Supreme Court’s verdict?

  • The Court bench has mentioned that the focus on renaming places has been described by various politicians and public figures as “a way of correcting history”.
  • However, as the Court pointed out, one cannot wish away history. It is better to understand it in its proper context, instead of forcing contemporary debates and ideas on it.
  • An objective analysis with room for healthy debate is the need of the hour and does not force-fitting contemporary political narratives into what happened centuries ago.

Procedure for changing City Names:

At Central Level:

  • The proposals of the states would be scrutinised by the Union Home Ministry according to the existing guidelines in consultations with the agencies concerned.
  • The Ministry approves the proposal after taking no objections from the Ministry of Railways, Department of Posts and Survey of India, which confirms that there is no such city, town or village in their records with a name similar to the proposed one.
  • Then an executive order is passed on the renaming of cities.

At the state level:

  • The power to rename a city is given to the State Legislators.
  • It starts with a request by means of a resolution by any Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) which proposes to rename any specific street or city.
  • Then the resolution is discussed and deliberated upon.
  • After this, voting on the validity of the resolution is done. If there are majority votes in favour of the resolution, the said resolution shall be declared passed. If the majority of votes for a resolution are not achieved, the resolution shall fail. The majority used is a simple majority.
  • Based on the majority view the State Legislation will make the necessary changes in the name of the state or city.

Recent Changes:

  • Bangalore to Bengaluru
  • Bombay to Mumbai
  • Benaras to Varanasi
  • Gurgaon to Gurugram
  • Allahabad as Prayagraj
  • Aurangabad to Sambhaji Nagar



Recently, researchers presented their ideas for "organoid intelligence," a potentially ground-breaking new field of study that aspires to develop Biocomputers.

  • Historically, different human neurological abnormalities have been studied in rat brains.
  • However, Rodents and humans have different structures and functions, and their cognitive abilities clearly differ from one another.
  • Therefore, researchers are creating brain organoids—3D colonies of brain tissue—in the laboratory.
  • These "mini-brains" (up to 4 mm in size) are made from human stem cells and replicate many of the anatomical and operative characteristics of a developing human brain.

Bio-computers and their functioning:

  • Researchers plan to produce "bio-computers" by fusing brain organoids with contemporary computing techniques.
  • They intend to grow the organoids inside flexible frameworks attached to several electrodes, where they will be combined with machine learning (similar to the ones used to take EEG readings from the brain).
  • These structures will be able to administer electrical stimuli to simulate sensory sensations as well as record the neuronal firing patterns.
  • Then, using machine learning techniques, the response pattern of the neurons and their impact on human behaviour or biology will be analysed.

 What are organoids?

  • Organoids are stem cell-derived, microscopic, self-organized three-dimensional tissue cultures. Such cultures can be developed to mimic much of an organ's intricacy.
  • These are tiny organ-like structures that frequently resemble the embryonic phases of a developing tissue but lack the full functional maturity of human organs.

Opportunities of ‘bio-computers’:

  • Biological basis of human cognition: stem cells from sufferers of cognitive or neurodegenerative problems can be used to create brain organoids.
    • The biological underpinnings of human cognition, learning, and memory can be discovered by comparing the information on brain anatomy, connections, and signalling between "healthy" and "patient-derived" organoids.
  • Drug development: They might aid in understanding the biology of and developing drugs for severe neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders including Parkinson's disease and microcephaly.

Are ‘bio-computers’ ready for commercial use?

The answer to the questions lies in the below-given concerns:

  • Smaller size: Today, brain organoids are around three millionths the size of a real human brain, with an average cell count of less than 100,000 and a diameter of less than 1 mm.
    • Therefore, increasing the size of the brain organoid and adding non-neuronal cells involved in biological learning will both help the brain's computing capabilities.
  • Microfluidic systems: microfluidic systems are not yet developed by researchers, which help to transport oxygen and nutrients, and remove waste products.
  • Advanced analytical techniques: Scientists have not yet developed advanced analytical techniques (with help from machines) to correlate the structural and functional changes in the brain organoids to the various output variables.
  • Long-term memory: The challenge in front of researchers is to develop long-term memory, which they would achieve within 1-25 years.
  • Ethical issues: There is no team to deal with the ethical issues arising from the bio-computers. Ethical guidelines have to be developed for the ethical use of bio-computers.

SWAMIH investment fund


SWAMIH Investment Fund have so far raised Rs.15,530 crore to provide priority debt financing for the completion of stressed, brownfield, and residential projects that are registered with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA).

What is the SWAMIH investment fund?

  • The Special Window for Affordable and Mid-Income Housing (SWAMIH) Investment Fund I is a social impact fund created with the objective of completing stressed and stalled Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) registered projects.
  • This is a government-backed fund that was set up as a Category-II AIF (Alternate Investment Fund) debt fund registered with SEBI and launched in 2019.
  • The Fund is sponsored by the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, and is managed by SBICAP Ventures Ltd., a State Bank Group company.
  • The fund is considered as the lender of last resort for distressed projects because it funds first-time developers, established developers with troubled projects, developers with a poor track record of stalled projects, customer complaints and NPA accounts, and even projects where there are litigation issues. 

Alternative Investment Fund (AIF):

  • AIF refers to any fund created or incorporated in India that is a privately pooled investment vehicle that collects funds from professional investors, whether they are domestic or foreign, for the purpose of investing them in accordance with a defined investment strategy for the benefit of its investors.
  • AIF does not include funds covered under the SEBI (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996, SEBI (Collective Investment Schemes) Regulations, 1999 or any other regulations of the Board to regulate fund management activities.


  • One of the biggest domestic real estate private equity teams, SWAMIH Fund is solely dedicated to supporting and overseeing the completion of distressed housing projects.
  • Creation of numerous auxiliary industries: The Fund, which was successful in unlocking more than Rs. 35,000 crores in liquidity, has also significantly contributed to the creation of numerous auxiliary industries in the real estate and infrastructure sectors.
  • Over 130 projects with sanctions totalling more than Rs 12,000 crore have received final approval from SWAMIH to date.
  • In 30 tier 1 and 2 cities, the Fund has finished 20,557 homes, and its three-year goal is to complete over 81,000 dwellings.

India's Progress in Bio-Fuel


The Centre’s SATAT scheme for bio-CNG plants at the Indian Oil Corporation has blamed the pandemic for the delays in meeting the target of setting up 5,000 bio-CNG plants by 2023-24.

Sustainable Alternative towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT):

  • Under the SATAT scheme, individual entrepreneurs should put up compressed bio-gas (CBG) plants. The CBG produced at these plants will be delivered through cylinder cascades to the network of OMC fuel stations for sale as an alternative green transport fuel.
  • To increase returns on investment, the business owners might market the additional by-products produced by these plants separately, such as carbon dioxide and bio-manure.
  • Goal: To manufacture compressed biogas (CBG) from trash and biomass sources such as farm residue, cow dung, sugarcane press mud, municipal solid waste (MSW), and waste from sewage treatment plants, and to make CBG available on the market for use as a clean fuel.

About CBG:

  • Bio-gas is naturally created by the anaerobic decomposition of waste and biomass sources such as agricultural residue, bovine dung, sugarcane press mud, municipal solid waste, and sewage treatment plant waste, among others.
  • After purification, it is compressed and called compressed bio-gas.  It contains more than 95% pure methane.
  • When it comes to composition and energy potential, compressed bio-gas is a perfect match for natural gas that is sold in stores.
  • Compressed bio-gas is a renewable alternative to fossil fuels for use as an automotive fuel since it has a calorific value of about 52,000 KJ/kg and other characteristics similar to those of CNG.


The progress on the effective functioning of the scheme has been slow and tardy.  Up till now, 40 plants have been commissioned and 80 retail outlets are selling bio-CNG. This is primarily because of the following reasons:

  • Feedstock: Feedstock is not present In adequate amounts for the smooth functioning of the plants.
    • Eg. the Radius of feedstock collection and distribution of bio-CNG to 25 km which later increased to 150km due to lack of demand.
  • Infrastructure: There is an absence of enough infrastructure to collect the waste. Thus inadequate infrastructure is acting as the hurdle for the
  • Technology: India does not have state-of-the-art technology which could efficiently produce CBG at a low cost. Cost-efficient technology is very costly and is absent in the local market.
  • Absence of Market: CBG does not have a proper market in the transport sector. Till the time CBG does not have a well-established market in the transport sector, distribution will remain a major challenge.
  • Distribution of the gas:

Government efforts:

  • Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has issued a circular to include bio-CNG in the “white category” (of non-polluting industries that do not require environmental clearances).
  • Government issues Specifications for the sale of organic fertilizers. Union Ministry of Fertilisers will issue clear specifications for both solid and liquid organic fertilisers.
  • Government plans to connect 400 cities with the CNG grid in five years, which will take care of the distribution.
  • Several state governments are already offering incentives like subsidised land and electricity for bio-CNG plants and feedstock assurance.

India’s labour force and national income data


NSSO’s latest annual Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) report for 2021-22 (July-June) has been released recently.

Key highlights:

  • The report underlines that the agricultural sector employs 45% of the nation’s labour force
  • Though this figure is less than 5% in 2020-21, but still on a higher note than in 2018-19, which was as low as 42.5%.
  • It is obvious that the pandemic's economic impacts, which compelled a reverse exodus to the farms, haven't completely subsided.
  • The share of the labour force employed in agriculture fell from 64.6% in 1993-94 to 5% in 2018-19.
  • The biggest decline, from 58.5% to 48.9%, happened between 2004-05 and 2011-12.
  • The rate of decline in the employment share of agriculture after 2011–12 has moderated, and after 2018–19, it actually increased.

Reasons for shifting trend:

  • High value-addition: agriculture is able to employ such large chunks of people primarily because of high-value addition;
    • Eg. The sector’s share in terms of value-added or GVA is as high as 19%.
  • Low-value addition in Manufacturing: Manufacturing has low-value addition when compared to the agriculture sector
    • Eg. Manufacturing had a 35.4% overall proportion of GVO but only a 15.8% relative share of GVA.
  • Service sector-driven growth: Indian economic growth is driven towards the service sector, which requires high skills.
    • The service sector is the biggest contributor to the GDP but employs less than 30%. 
  • Skills development: Indian labour is not skilled enough to meet modern industrial needs. The employment options for workers with lower skill levels are limited.
  • MSME under stress: Compared to large companies, MSMEs have a four times higher labour intensity. But they deal with numerous issues like credit crunch etc.

Way forward:

  • Boosting labour-intensive sectors: Labour-intensive industries should be supported, such as those in the food processing business, the leather industry, the garment industry, the electronics industry, the gem and jewellery industry, the financial services industry, and the tourism industry.
  • Building up MSME: The MSME sector needs to be supported and developed. Regulation easing and financial aid are helpful. Priority should also be given to easy credit availability. MUDRA could lead to the creation of necessary jobs in India.
  • Skill development: various government schemes like Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana  should be implemented in letter and spirit
  • Labour reforms: Reforming the labour market requires changing the strict labour laws that currently exist. In a nation where labour is in plentiful supply, corporations in India favour capital-intensive modes of production.

Short News Article


Windfall tax

The Government has marginally hiked windfall tax on locally produced crude oil to Rs.4400 per tonne from Rs.4350 per Tonne.


  • It was introduced in 2022.
  • Windfall taxes are designed to tax the profits a company derives from an external, sometimes unprecedented event— for instance, the energy price-rise as a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
  • These are profits that cannot be attributed to something the firm actively did, like an investment strategy or an expansion of business.
  •  The United States Congressional Research Service (CRS) defines a windfall as an “unearned, unanticipated gain in income through no additional effort or expense”.
  • Objectives:
    • The introduction of the windfall tax as a way to rein in the “phenomenal profits” made by some oil refiners who chose to export fuel to reap the benefits of skyrocketing global prices while affecting domestic supplies.
  • Global Scenario:
    • Besides India, a wave of countries including the United Kingdom, Italy, and Germany have either already imposed a windfall profit tax on super normal profits of energy companies or are contemplating doing so.


Iran’s lithium deposit

The Iranian Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade (MIMT) has informed that a deposit located in the western province of Hamedan contains some 8.5 million metric tons of lithium ore.

About Lithium deposits:

  • Iran discovered the second largest lithium reserves.
  • According to the US Geological Survey, the world’s largest identified lithium resources (not counting Iran) are as follows: Bolivia, 21 million tons; Argentina, 20 million tons; Chile, 11 million tons; Australia, 7.9 million tons; China, 6.8 million tons.
  • Rising global lithium demand and surging prices have drawn increased interest in the so-called ‘lithium triangle’ that spans parts of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.
  • Lithium has become the new 'white gold' as the demand for high performing rechargeable batteries is rising.

Lithium: properties & Uses:

  • It is a chemical element with the symbol Li.
  • It is a soft, silvery-white metal.
  • It is highly reactive and flammable, and must be stored in mineral oil.
  • Lithium in India:
  • India recently established inferred lithium resources of 5.9 million tons in the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir.

Major Sites:

  • The major mica belts in Rajasthan, Bihar, and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Pegmatite (igneous rocks) belts in Odisha and Chhattisgarh.
  • Brines of Sambhar and Pachpadra in Rajasthan, and Rann of Kachchh in Gujarat.


Nano liquid DAP

Prime Minister hailed the government's approval to nano liquid DAP fertiliser, mentioning it an important step towards making life easier for farmers.

What is Nano Urea?

  • Nano Urea is a nanotechnology based revolutionary Agri-input which provides nitrogen to plants.
  • Nano Urea is a sustainable option for farmers towards smart agriculture and combat climate change.
  • Nano urea is a patented and indigenously made liquid that contains nanoparticles of urea, the most crucial chemical fertiliser for farmers in India.
  • A single half-litre bottle of the liquid can compensate for a 45kg sack of urea that farmers traditionally rely on, it is claimed.
  • Nano urea (Liquid) contains 4 % nanoscale nitrogen particles.
  • Nanoscale nitrogen particles have a small size (20-50 nm); more surface area and number of particles per unit area than conventional urea.


Tax transitions


  • Recently, about Rs 1.5 lakh crore of gross Goods and Services Tax (GST) collections were informed in February 2023, which highlighted the 12th successive month that GST revenues have stayed over Rs 1.4 lakh crore.

GST collections:

  • Average Quarterly revenues: The average monthly GST collections in the first 11 months of 2022-23 now stand at ?1,49,776 crore, 21.5% higher than the average monthly kitty of little over ?1.23 lakh crore through 2021-22.
  • Highest and lowest revenue: The month of April (with the highest monthly revenues of over ?1.67 lakh crore), and October and January 2023 (whose collections were upgraded to over ?1.57 lakh crore).
  • Positive policy effects: This lends shows the government’s assertion in January that policy changes introduced over the past year have improved compliance with more taxpayers filing returns.
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