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7th February 2023

Lepakshi murals in Veerabhadraswamy temple to be key attraction for G-20 delegates

Context

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is making all arrangements to ensure that the proposed hour-long trip of G-20 delegates to the Lepakshi Sri Veerabhadraswamy temple.

About Lepakshi Temple
  • Lepakshi temple is located in Andhra Pradesh, built during the era of the Vijayanagara Empire.
  • The temple is famous for its three shrines, which are dedicated to-
    • Lord Vishnu
    • Lord Shiva
    • Lord Veerabhadra

Mural Painting

  • Lepakshi Veerabhadra Temple complex has India's highest sculptural wealth and mural paintings.
  • Asia's biggest mural painting-Veerabhadra Swamy (measuring 24x18 feet), a hanging pillar in the dancing hall and the biggest monolithic bull in the country.
  • The Veerabhadra Temple was constructed by two brothers, Viranna and Virupanna.
  • Architectural style: The temple is built in the Vijayanagar architectural style and has beautiful sculptures adorning the walls.
  • It is one of the finest & oldest temples in India.
  • It is situated atop the Kurmasailam (tortoise-shaped) hill.
  • There is a huge Nandi bull made from a single granite stone.
  • Lepakshi has many murals from the Vijayanagara Era and the famous sculpture of the snake on the Nagalinga.
  • The original structure is said to have been built by Sage Agastya and finds mention in the Skanda Purana as one of the 108 Saivaite pilgrimage centres of ancient India.

  • The entire temple complex was believed to be rebuilt by Virupanna, and his brother Veeranna under the rule of Vijayanagara king Achyuta Devaraya.
  • The main shrine, the 70-pillared nrutya mantapa, the detailed and beautiful carvings on them depicts gods and artists playing musical instruments and dancers in various poses and mudras.
  • The high ceiling is filled with long panels of fresco paintings.

About the Archaeological Survey of India

  • The ASI is the premier organization for the archaeological research and protection of the cultural heritage of the country.
  • The prime objection of ASI is to maintain the archaeological sites, ancient monuments and remains of national importance.
  • Its Headquarters is in New Delhi.
  • It was established in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham.
  • It regulates all archaeological activities as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, of 1958.
  • It functions under the aegis of the Union Ministry of Culture.
  • It also regulates the Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, of 1972.

Turkey & its relation to earthquakes

Context

Recently, Turkey witnessed a 7.8 magnitude earthquake which is one of the most powerful earthquakes in the past two decades with more than 1,300 people killed and thousands still believed to be trapped under rubble. 

What makes Turkey a hotbed of seismic activity? 

  • Turkey is frequently shaken by earthquakes.
  • Turkey’s proneness to earthquakes comes from its tectonic location.
  • Turkey, a hotbed of seismic activity, sits on the Anatolian Plate, which borders two major faults as it grinds northeast against Eurasia. 

Tectonic plates

  • The Earth’s outermost layer comprises some 15 major slabs, called tectonic plates. 
    • The boundaries between these plates are a system of faults – fractures between two blocks of rocks. Any sudden movement along these faults can cause earthquakes.
  • The North Anatolian fault, traverses the country from west to east, and the East Anatolian fault, rests in the country’s southeastern region.
    • The North Anatolian fault (NAF) line, the meeting point of the Eurasian and Anatolian tectonic plates — is known to be “particularly devastating”. 
  • The NAF, one of the best-understood fault systems in the world, stretches from the south of Istanbul to northeastern Turkey and has caused catastrophic earthquakes in the past. 

About Earthquake

  • An earthquake is the shaking of the surface of the Earth, resulting from the sudden release of energy in the Earth‘s lithosphere that creates seismic waves.
  • Earthquake is the form of energy of wave motion transmitted through the surface layer of the earth.
  • It may be due to faulting, folding, plate movement, volcanic eruptions and anthropogenic factors like dams and reservoirs.

China's balloon tested boundaries of international law

Context

The U.S. military shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast after it traversed sensitive military sites across North America. 

China’s Balloon Incident

  • From January 28 to February 4, 2023, a large, white high-altitude balloon operated by China crossed North American airspace, passing over Alaska, western Canada, and the contiguous United States.
  • Then, a U.S. jet shot it down over the Atlantic and U.S. ships raced to gather the debris.

Who has sovereignty over the air?

  • International law is clear with respect to the use of these balloons over other countries' airspace.
  • Every country has complete sovereignty and control over its waters extending 12 nautical miles (about 22 kilometres) from its land territory.
  • Every country likewise has "complete and exclusive sovereignty over the airspace above its territory" under international conventions.
    • This means each country controls all access to its airspace, which includes both commercial and government aircraft.
  • But the upper limit of sovereign airspace is unsettled in international law. In practice, it generally extends to the maximum height at which commercial and military aircraft operations, which is around 45,000 feet (about 13.7km).
  • The supersonic Concorde jet, however, operated at 60,000 feet (over 18km).
    • The Chinese balloon was also reported to be operating at a distance of 60,000 feet.
  • International law does not extend to the distance at which satellites operate, which is traditionally seen as falling within the realm of space law.
  • There are international legal frameworks in place that allow for permission to be sought to enter a country's airspace, such as the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation.
    • The International Civil Aviation Organization has set an additional layer of rules on airspace access, including for hot air balloons, but it does not regulate military activities.

Regulations in the US

  • The US also has its own "air defence identification zone", a legacy of the Cold War.
  • It requires all aircraft entering US airspace to identify themselves. Canada has its own complementary zone.

Punish to reform: Rajasthan’s open prison model

Context

The open prison model adopted in Rajasthan, with convicts staying on community land without high walls or strict surveillance, has promoted a reformative form of punishment and succeeded in transforming the lives of inmates.  

What is Open Prison?

  • Open prisons have relatively less stringent rules as compared to controlled jails.
  • They go by many names like minimum-security prisons, open-air camps or prisons without bars.
  • The fundamental rule of an open prison is that the jail has minimum security and functions on the self-discipline of the inmates.
  • The jail does not confine them completely but requires them to earn their living to support their families, living with them inside the jail.
  • Prisoners can move out of prison for their work and are supposed to come back to the prison campus after their working hours.
  • Every state in India has a prison law, like the Rajasthan Prisoners Rules and Andhra Pradesh Prison Rules, 1979. Seventeen states are reported to have functional open jails with Rajasthan having 31 such prisons, the highest that any state has.
  • The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, popularly known as the Nelson Mandela Rules:
    • It laid down the objectives of open prisons stating that such prisons provide no physical security against escape but rely on the self-discipline of the inmates, providing the conditions most favourable to the rehabilitation of carefully selected prisoners.

Right to Life and Personal Liberty For Prisoners 

  • Article 21: The Supreme Court in various cases has declared the right to medical care comes under the ambit of Article 21 of the Constitution
    • Article 21 of the Constitution also guarantees the right to personal liberty and thereby prohibits any inhuman, cruel or degrading treatment to any person whether he is a national or foreigner. 
  • Article 39A: Article 39A of the Constitution of India deals with the obligation of the State to provide free Legal Aid to such accused prisoners both in the prison and outside, as they are unable to engage a lawyer due to a lack of means to defend themselves in the Court for the criminal charges brought against them.

Benefits of open prison

  • It will reduce overcrowding and operational costs of the prison administration.
  • It will reduce the psychological pressure and lack of confidence among prisoners when they assimilate into society.
  • It goes with the repeated call to develop a humane attitude and reformative approach towards the offenders in society.

Issues faced by prisoners 

  • Overcrowding.
  • Prolonged detention of under-trial prisoners
    • A poor man remains in jail for over a year without trial for minor offences such as theft.
  • Many inmates can’t even afford the bail amount. 
  • Unsatisfactory living conditions.
  • Lack of treatment Programs.
  • The allegations of the indifferent and even inhuman approaches of prison staff have repeatedly attracted the attention of critics over the years. 

NCST functioning with less than 50% of sanctioned strength: Ministry in LS

Context

Recently, Data presented by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) in Lok Sabha revealed that the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) is currently functioning with less than 50% of its sanctioned strength.

About National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST)
  • The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) was established by amending Article 338 and inserting a new Article 338A in the Constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003. 
  • By this amendment, the erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was replaced by two separate Commissions namely-
    • The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) [Article 338]
    • The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) [Article 338A] 
  • The Commission is an authority working for the economic development of Scheduled Tribes in India.
  • The Constitution of India does not define Scheduled Tribes as such. Various acts, such as the Protection of Civil Rights (PCR) Act, 1955, and the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) (POA) Act, 1989, revised in 2015, and its Rules, 2016, have gained legitimacy with the establishment of the National Commission of Scheduled Tribes (NCST).

Composition

    • The NCST consists of one chairperson, one vice-chairperson and three full-time members.
    • All the members of the Commission have a tenure of 3 years.
    • They are appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal.
    • The Chairman shall be appointed from amongst eminent social, and political workers belonging to Scheduled Tribes who inspire confidence amongst the Scheduled tribes by their varied personalities and record of selfless service.
    • The Vice-Chairman and all other Members out of whom at least two shall be appointed from amongst persons belonging to the Scheduled Tribes.
    • At least one other member shall be appointed from amongst women.
    • The Chairman, the Vice-Chairman and the other Members shall hold office for 3 years from the date on which he/she assumes such office.
    • The members are not eligible for appointment for more than two terms.

Functions 

  • The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes has been laid down in Article 338A of the Constitution. 
  • Clause (5) states that it shall be the duty of the Commission:
    • to investigate and monitor all matters to the safeguards provided for the Scheduled Tribes under this Constitution or under any law for the time being in force or under any order of the Government and to evaluate the working of such safeguards.
    • to inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Scheduled Tribes.
    • to participate and advise on the planning process of socioeconomic development of the Scheduled Tribes and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State.
    • to present to the President, annually and at such other times as the Commission may be deemed fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards.
    • to make in such reports recommendations as to the measures that should be taken by the Union or any States for the effective implementation of these safeguards and other measures for the protection, welfare and socio-economic development of the Scheduled Tribes.
    • to discharge such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the Scheduled Tribes as the President may subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament, by rule specified.

Short News Article

Environment

Global Climate Resilience Fund

Hillary Clinton (Former US secretary of state) announced a Global Climate Resilience Fund of 50 million dollars for women to fight climate change in association with the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) founded by late activist Ela Bhatt.

About

  • The fund will empower women and communities to fight climate change and help provide new livelihood resources and education
  • Climate change-related heat poses an additional challenge to women workers in informal sectors and the Global Climate Resilience Fund will assist in addressing this challenge.
  • Hillary Clinton visited salt pan workers in the Little Rann of Kutch near Kuda village in Gujarat's Surendranagar district and learnt from them the process of salt production and hardships faced by them.

Science & Technology

HAL’s helicopter manufacturing factory in Karnataka

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the helicopter factory by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at Karnataka’s Tumakuru.

  • A light utility helicopter which was made in the latest helicopter factory was also unveiled.

About

  • It is India's largest such factory — in Karnataka's Tumakuru.
  • The greenfield helicopter factory of the defence PSU has been planned to become “a one-stop solution” for all helicopter requirement of the country.
  • This helicopter factory is Asia's largest helicopter manufacturing facility and will initially produce the Light Utility Helicopters (LUH).

Science & Technology

In a first, Naval LCA lands on INS Vikrant

A prototype of the Naval variant of the indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) undertook its maiden landing on board aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, in a feat described by the Indian Navy as a 'historical milestone' for India's self-reliance in defence manufacturing.

Landing and take-off of the LCA

  • The landing and take-off of the LCA prototype and MiG-29K aircraft came as part of flight trials on board the aircraft carrier.
  • The Indian Navy currently operates over 40 MiG-29K jets.
  • The air wing of INS Vikrant will be able to carry 30 MiG-29K fighter jets, according to officials.

About INS Vikrant

  • INS Vikrant is the country's first indigenous aircraft carrier.
  • The carrier has a top speed of around 28 knots and a cruising speed of 18 knots with an endurance of about 7,500 nautical miles.
  • It is 262 metres long, 62 metres wide and has a height of 59 metres. Its construction began in 2009.

Editorial

Jammu, village defence and governance

Context:

The revival of Village Defence Guards can be a feasible solution for the empowerment of local bodies as panchayats are most suited to understand local dynamics in a conflict zone

Increased terrorism in the Jammu region

  • There have been several terror-related incidents in the region of the Jammu division over the last year.
  • According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, there were infiltration attempts, recoveries of war-like stores, explosions followed by gunshots at the house of a local MLA, a neutralisation of hideouts, and the nabbing of suspects in Rajouri and Poonch of Jammu division.
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