Background :-Recently, due to black marketing and hoarding price of certain commodities have sky-rocketed.Usually hoarding was thought of as a localized phenomenon , however , recent trends indicate towards an organized hoarding.In the recent event of Chennai Floods, people have witnessed day-light robbery in the form of exorbitant price of certain commodities.Hoarders are exploiting the situations such as calamities and deficient monsoon to benefit themselves. The worrisome fact is that , the benefits are not reaching the farmers , instead it is the middle man who is getting all the benefits.In light of this , Central and state governments have taken certain measures to whiplash the hoarders.
Legal Instruments :-
Essential Commodities Act, 1955
Prevention of Black-marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980
Price Stabilization Fund is being implemented to regulate price volatility of agricultural commodities.
Higher MSP has been announced so as to incentivize production and thereby enhance availability of food items which may help moderate prices
2)Panchi :-Wheeled version of UAV Nishant
A product improvement project-Panchi (Wheeled version of Nishant), catering to the Army requirement of conventional take-off and landing has been undertaken. The project is in an advanced stage of development. Panchi could be utilized by Army for their tactical UAV requirements.
3)National De-Worming Programme :-
The expected goal is to maintain coverage of more than 75% of school children with Albendazole, till Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) ceases to become public health problem.
The de-worming program is accompanied by awareness generation activities, like Information, Education and Communication (IEC) strategies focusing on sanitation, hygiene and use of clean drinking water etc., besides administration of deworming drug.
4) ASPIRE -A Scheme for Promotion of Innovation, Rural Industry and Entrepreneurship :-
Aspire Scheme Launched to Promote Rural Entrepreneurship
The planned outcomes of ASPIRE are setting up Technology Business Incubators (TBI), Livelihood Business Incubators (LBI) and creation of a Fund of Funds for such initiatives with SIDBI.
5)SFURTI– Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries:-
The objectives SFURTI is to organize the traditional industries and artisans into clusters to make them competitive and provide support for their long-term sustainability by way of enhancing the marketability of products, improving the skills of artisans, making provision for common facilities and strengthening the cluster governance systems.
6) Schemes related to Minority Affairs:-
Seekho aur Kamao (Learn and Earn) – placement linked skill development scheme for minorities aims to upgrade various modern/traditional skills of minority youth enabling self-employment.
USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/ Crafts for Development)–to preserve rich heritage of traditional arts/crafts of the minorities. It aims at capacity building and updating the traditional skills of master craftsmen/artisans; documentation of identified traditional arts/crafts of minorities; set standards for traditional skills; training minority youths in identified traditional arts/crafts through master craftsmen; and develop national and international market linkages.
Nai Manzil :-An integrated education and livelihood initiative launched for school dropouts and Madarsa students
MANAS –Maulana Azad National Academy for Skills – addresses all skill development needs of minority communities. It provides an all India Training framework with leading training partners in PPP Mode.
Nai Roshni :-for Leadership Development of Minority Women with an aim to empower and instill confidence in women by providing knowledge, tools and techniques for interacting with Government systems, banks and intermediaries at all levels.
Hamari Dharohar– to preserve the rich heritage of minority communities of India
7)SC backs appointment of priests as per Agamas :-
Reiterating that the fundamental right to freedom of religion is not confined to doctrines and beliefs but extends to “essential practices” done in pursuance of that faith, the Supreme Court held that appointment of archakas (priests) in Tamil Nadu temples as per the restrictions prescribed by the age-old Agamas (treatises) is not a violation of the right to equality.
SC invoked Article 16(5) of the Constitution to hold that “exclusion of some and inclusion of a particular segment or denomination for appointment as archakas would not violate Article 14 [right to equality]
Under Article 16 (5), the fundamental right to equality of opportunity will not affect a law mandating that an office-bearer of a religious or denominational institution should belong exclusively to a particular religion or denomination.
The judgment strikes a balance by not exactly striking down the Tamil Nadu government order of May 23, 2006, which allowed any qualified and trained Hindu to be appointed as priest in Hindu temples in the State.
Reasoning behind the judgement :-
In the context of the Constitution Bench judgment of 1972 in the Seshammal case, the Supreme Court explained that Agamas were the “fundamental religious belief” of a particular sect.
To justify this reasoning, the Bench referred to a century-old ruling of the Madras High Court in the Gopala Moopanar case which explained that the exclusion prescribed in the Agamas was not on the basis of caste, birth or pedigree. The Moopanar case revealed how some Agamas even excluded Brahmins from the sanctum sanctorum and duties of performance of pujas
It it is essentially a case of Right to equal opportunity (Article – 16 ) vs Right to equality ( Article-14) and also includes Abolition of untouchability (Article 17)
SC was judging whether any of these rights are violated by Agamas.
The SC holds that it does not violate article – 16 or article -14 as it is in the interest of particular religion or sect to not only hold a certain belief or faith but also should be able to practice it.In this case , Agamas are fundamental belief of certain sect and they should be allowed to practice according to the text of Agamas as long as it does not violate the constitutional norms.
For the case of untouchability (article – 17) , SC holds that the exclusion prescribed in Agamas are not on the basis of birth,caste of pedigree and hence question of violation of article -17 does not arise.
What are Agamas:-
The Agamas (Sanskrit: आगम) are a collection of scriptures of several Hindu devotional schools. The term literally means tradition or “that which has come down”, and the Agama texts describe cosmology, epistemology, philosophical doctrines, precepts on meditation and practices, four kinds of yoga, mantras, temple construction, deity worship and ways to attain sixfold desires
These canonical texts are in Sanskrit and in south Indian languages such as Tamil (written in Grantha script and Tamil script)
The Agama texts of Hinduism present a diverse range of philosophies, ranging from theistic dualism to absolute monism
The three main branches of Agama texts are those of Shaivism (Shiva), Vaishnavism (Vishnu), Shaktism (Devi) which is also known as Tantra
The Agamas literary genre may also be found in Śramaṇic traditions (i.e.Buddhist, Jaina etc.).Bali Hindu tradition is officially called Agama Hindu Dharma in Indonesia.
Each Agama consists of four parts:-
Jnana pada – knowledge of reality and liberation
Yoga pada – physical and mental discipline
Kriya pada – rules for rituals, construction of temples , design principles for sculpting, carving
Charya pada – lays down rules of conduct, of worship
The Saiva Agamas are found in four main schools – Kapala, Kalamukha, Pashupata and Saiva ; The Agamas of Kashmiri Saivism is also called the Trika Shastra.
The Shakta Agamas are commonly known as Tantras,and they are imbued with reverence for the feminine, representing goddess as the focus and treating the female as equal and essential part of the cosmic existence.
The Vaishnava Agamas are found into two main schools – Pancharatra and Vaikhanasas
Note- It is not necessary to remember the all details about Agamas ( the essence is essential though), but it is our duty to provide a holistic view of it. The reason is simple – UPSC is running out of questions and is asking questions which are very dynamic or were in news. Hence while covering the polity part we also covered the culture part .We can not afford ignorance.
8)Arbitration and Reconciliation Amendment Bill, 2015
Background – Passed by Lok Sabha , it was a questions in the MAINS this year.
The Bill seeks to make the arbitration process more investor-friendly, cost-effective and suitable for expeditious disposal of cases. It will also facilitate in making India a hub of international commercial arbitration.
Important provisions in the bill:-
The Bill seeks to impose a time limit of 12 months for arbitrators to decide on disputes. Parties can also choose to fast track their arbitration within 6 months.
Courts will also be asked to decide disputed arbitral awards within a year.
The Bill also includes provisions specifying and restricting the term ‘Public Policy of India’ on whose ground an arbitral award could be challenged.
According to the Bill, an award would be construed as against the Public Policy of India if it is induced or affected by fraud or corruption, or is in contravention of the fundamental policy of Indian law or is in conflict with the most basic notions of morality or justice.
9)Few Facts of importance:-
Afghanistan has become the 164th WTO member
India’s biggest Wildlife Rescue Centre has been commissioned at Gorewada near Nagpur, Maharashtra. It has been named as Gorewada Zoo and Wildlife
RK Mathur becomes Chief Information Commissioner
Nuclear Power Plants in News:-
Kovvada- Andhra Pradesh
Mithi Virdi – Gujrat
The Great Indian Bustard bird which is confined in six states — Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh ; is a critically endangered. Population of this species is estimated to be less than 300. The population of this species is declining due to alteration of important bustard habitats due to industrialisation, mining, intensive agricultural practices, etc
11)Evidence of Buddhist monastery found:-
A treasure trove of historical evidence of immense heritage value has been by found by archaeologists at the Vommili village of Andhra Pradesh
The objects retrieved from a trial excavation on the surface include a standing image of the Vajrayana deity ‘Heruka’, a terracotta elephant head, conical mud bowls, thumb and finger print designs on pots, polished black ware, dull chocolate-coloured slipware and herringbone patterns.
Most of the Buddhist heritage sites found in the city and in Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam districts are located along the coast and had flourished between 3 century BC and 3 century AD. But this site is located in the hinterland, far from the coast, and it flourished for about a thousand years.
Vajrayāna also known as Tantric Buddhism
The period of Indian Vajrayāna Buddhism has been classified as the fifth or final period of Buddhism in India.Vajrayāna literature does not appear in the Pāli Canon and the Agamas.
The distinctive feature of Vajrayana Buddhism is ritual, which is used as a substitute or alternative for the earlier abstract meditations.
Questions of the Day (150-200 words)
1)Recently Many state in India are banning Alcohol. Do you think it is a well reasoned and well founded act of the government? What are the pros and cons of banning alcohol.
2)Do you think the ” odd even formula” of banning cars in Delhi is only symbolic? Can it really achieve what it aims to ? Do you think it is enforceable ?
Darknet, also known as dark web or darknet market, refers to the part of the internet that is not indexed or accessible through traditional search engines. It is a network of private and encrypted websites that cannot be accessed through regular web browsers and requires special software and configuration to access.
The darknet is often associated with illegal activities such as drug trafficking, weapon sales, and hacking services, although not all sites on the darknet are illegal.
Examples of darknet markets include Silk Road, AlphaBay, and Dream Market, which were all shut down by law enforcement agencies in recent years.
These marketplaces operate similarly to e-commerce websites, with vendors selling various illegal goods and services, such as drugs, counterfeit documents, and hacking tools, and buyers paying with cryptocurrency for their purchases.
Anonymity: Darknet allows users to communicate and transact with each other anonymously. Users can maintain their privacy and avoid being tracked by law enforcement agencies or other entities.
Access to Information: The darknet provides access to information and resources that may be otherwise unavailable or censored on the regular internet. This can include political or sensitive information that is not allowed to be disseminated through other channels.
Freedom of Speech: The darknet can be a platform for free speech, as users are able to express their opinions and ideas without fear of censorship or retribution.
Secure Communication: Darknet sites are encrypted, which means that communication between users is secure and cannot be intercepted by third parties.
Illegal Activities: Many darknet sites are associated with illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, weapon sales, and hacking services. Such activities can attract criminals and expose users to serious legal risks.
Scams: The darknet is a hotbed for scams, with many fake vendors and websites that aim to steal users’ personal information and cryptocurrency. The lack of regulation and oversight on the darknet means that users must be cautious when conducting transactions.
Security Risks: The use of the darknet can expose users to malware and other security risks, as many sites are not properly secured or monitored. Users may also be vulnerable to hacking or phishing attacks.
Stigma: The association of the darknet with illegal activities has created a stigma that may deter some users from using it for legitimate purposes.
AI, or artificial intelligence, refers to the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence, such as recognizing speech, making decisions, and understanding natural language.
Virtual assistants: Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant are examples of virtual assistants that use natural language processing to understand and respond to users’ queries.
Recommendation systems: Companies like Netflix and Amazon use AI to recommend movies and products to their users based on their browsing and purchase history.
Efficiency: AI systems can work continuously without getting tired or making errors, which can save time and resources.
Personalization: AI can help provide personalized recommendations and experiences for users.
Automation: AI can automate repetitive and tedious tasks, freeing up time for humans to focus on more complex tasks.
Job loss: AI has the potential to automate jobs previously performed by humans, leading to job loss and economic disruption.
Bias: AI systems can be biased due to the data they are trained on, leading to unfair or discriminatory outcomes.
Safety and privacy concerns: AI systems can pose safety risks if they malfunction or are used maliciously, and can also raise privacy concerns if they collect and use personal data without consent.