Keeladi Museum by January 2021 

#GS1 #Art #Culture 

News : Tamil Nadu state govt. plans to complete the on-site museum at keeladi 

About Keeladi 

The site Keeladi with the cultural deposit mound extending over a vast area of more than 110 acres, amidst the coconut grooves is located at Thirupuvanam Taluk in Sivagangai District. 

Key findings of Keeladi Excavations 

  • 5820 antiquities with enough cultural traits in the form of structural activity (brick structures, terracotta ring wells, fallen roofing tiles with double holes and deeply finger pressed grooves to draw rain water).
  • Antiquities like few pieces of golden ornaments, broken portions, copper objects, iron implements, terracotta gamesmen (chessman), hop scotches, ear ornaments, spindle whorls, figurines and portions besides beads of terracotta, glass, semi-precious stones (agate, carnelian, crystal, etc.).
  • Popular ceramic types like finer variety of Black and Red ware, Black ware, Black Polished ware, Red ware, Rouletted ware, few pieces of Arretines were also found. 
  • There are also enough numbers of graffiti sherds of both pre and post firing nature. A good number of Tamil Brahmi sherds also have been unearthed.
  • All these finds clearly indicate the cultural richness of the ancient civilization of the Tamils of this region having its close proximity to the temple city Madurai. 

Source : The Hindu 

Torreites sanchezi(Mollusk) 

#GS3 #Science&Technology  

Context :  

  • An extinct species of rudist clam that lived during the Cretaceous period, some 70 million years ago, grew fast, laying down daily growth rings. 
  • In a new study, a team of researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Ghent University used lasers to sample minute slices of Torreites sanchezi’s shell and count the growth rings. 
  • The rings allowed the scientists to determine the number of days in a year and more accurately calculate the length of a day 70 million years ago. 
  • The new measurement also informs models of how the Moon formed and how close to Earth it has been over the 4.5-billion-year history of the Earth-Moon gravitational dance.

Source : Indian Express 

Growth and the farmer  

#GS3 #Agriculture 

Context :  

  • Last month, Montek Singh Ahluwalia’s book, Backstage: The Story Behind India’s High Growth Years, was released.

Key points: 

  • It was believed that inclusive growth is not feasible unless agriculture grows at about 4 per cent per year while the overall economy grows at about 8 per cent annually.
  • The main instrument of agricultural strategy was the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), which gave more leverage to states to allocate resources within agriculture-related schemes.
  • Agri-GDP growth had a significant impact on poverty reduction, whichever way it was measured — the Lakdawala poverty line or Tendulkar poverty line, which is higher. 
  • The rate of decline in poverty (head count ratio), about 0.8 per cent per year during 1993-94 to 2004-05, accelerated to 2.1 per cent per year, and for the first time, the absolute number of the poor declined by a whopping 138 million during 2004-05 to 2013-14. 
  • Interestingly, this holds even on the basis of the international poverty line of $1.9 per capita per day (on 2011 purchasing power parity, PPP, also see graphs).

Concerns :  

  • Export bans on agricultural commodities as these impacted farmers’ incomes adversely. But the government of the day often ended up taking the consumer’s side, as that was considered pro-poor. 
  • This reduced the incentives for farmers, who then had to be compensated by increasing input subsidies.
  • When estimated the producer support estimates (PSEs), as per the OECD methodology — used by countries that produce more than 70 per cent of the global agri-output — we found a deeply negative PSE. This indicates implicit taxation of agriculture through trade and marketing policies, even when one has accounted for large input subsidies going to farmers

Way forward :  

  • The Economic Survey of 2019-20 makes a case for restricting food subsidy to 20 per cent of the population — the head count poverty in 2015 as per the World Bank’s $1.9/per capita per day (PPP) definition was only 13.4 per cent. 
  • For the others, the issue prices of rice and wheat need to be linked to at least 50 per cent of the procurement price or, even better, 50 per cent of the FCI’s economic cost. 
  • Unless we make progress on this front, it is difficult to unlock resources for the growth of agriculture, which slumped from 4.3 per cent during 2009-14 to 3.1 per cent during 2014-19.

Source : Indian Express 

Jharkhand third state in India to have star ratings for industrial firms  

#GS3 #Industry #Environmnet 

News :  

  • Jharkhand government will start its “Star Rating Program,” which will be mandatory for several industries, to reduce pollution through increased transparency. 
  • The initiative was taken after the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB) collaborated with the University of Chicago Trust (UC Trust) as knowledge partners.
  • Odisha and Maharashtra are other two states have implemented the star rating system.

Source : Indian Express 

ROPAX : People can now travel in their cars directly on to ROPAX vessel 

#GS3 #Infrastructure 

News :  Shri Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State for Shipping (I/C) visited ROPAX service at Bhaucha Dhakka in Maharashtra and inspected the facilities created for the passengers as the ROPAX Service from Bhaucha Dhakka to Mandwa commences today. 

About ROPAX 

  • ROPAX service is a ‘Water Transport Service Project’, under Eastern Waterfront Development. 
  • The benefits of this service include reduction in the travel time, vehicular emission and traffic on the road. 
  • The road distance from Mumbai to Mandwa is about 110 kilometres, and gruelling road journey takes three to four hours, whereas by waterway it is about 18 kilometre and journey of just an hour.

Source : PIB  

Little stem bird 

News : 

  • Scientists have discovered a fossil of a tiny bird-like creature whose skull was preserved in 99-million-year-old amber. 
  • This tiny stem bird - a bird close to the point where avians split from the dinosaur ancestors - has tiny teeth.
  •  The creature is the tiniest Mesozoic dinosaur to be discovered so far. 
  • Such discoveries have an impact on how paleontologists reconstruct the past.

Source : The Hindu 

Superhydrophobic coating to save metallic surfaces 

Created with polyurethane and silicon dioxide nanoparticles, the coating can be easily spin-coated on steel. 

  • Fascinated by the beauty of water rolling off a lotus leaf, a team of chemical engineers has now created a similar superhydrophobic coating that can be used to save steel from rusting.
  • The team from the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines), Dhanbad, and Ohio State University used polyurethane and silicon dioxide nanoparticles to create the coating which can be easily spin-coated on steel.
  • The surface of the coating was found to have superhydrophobic property. 
  • The coating was also chemically stable in both acidic (pH 5) and alkaline (pH 8) conditions for more than six weeks. 
  • It also exhibited thermal stability up to 230 degree C.
  • The mechanical stability of the coating was tested with water jet, floating, bending, sand abrasion tests and was found to be highly stable.


Is the global economy headed for recession? 

#GS3 #Economy 

How deep has the impact of COVID-19 been on businesses around the world? And which are the ones that have been hit the hardest?  

The story so far: The global death toll due to COVID-19 has crossed the 5,300 mark, with over 1.42 lakh people infected. India, where 88 people have been infected, saw two casualties. A diverse set of industries has been impacted by the spread of the virus. With daily news reports painting a dismal picture of supply chains affected, it is easy to visualize the global economy virtually grinding to a halt. 

What does it mean to the global economy? 

  • Analysts fear that the global economy may tip into a recession unless the virus turns out to be seasonal. 
  • The problem with current predictions is no one knows how long the virus will remain potent, how authorities around the world are able to stanch new cases and the resources they pull out to treat old ones. 
  • What business hates is uncertainty and uncertainty is the only thing that abounds when it comes to predictions about the vitality, endurance and longevity of the new virus.
  • This year, in early March, the Institute for International Finance had said that global economic growth could turn out to be as low as 1%, and this was even before the OPEC club and Russia fell out on production agreements to maintain stable oil prices. 

Which are the industries impacted? 

  • The Indian pharmaceutical, automobile and mobile phone industries, for example, immediately wobbled. India depends on China for supplies of components for products that these sectors make.
  • The Indian pharma industry, which depends on China for 70% of raw materials needed to manufacture drugs here, has seen input costs go up by 50% as of February this year. 
  • It is for this reason that the markets have barely taken note of regulators’ attempts to infuse funds into the global economy.
  • The Euro markets remained unmoved even after the European Central Bank announced fresh stimulus measures to help the economy cope with the growing cost of the COVID-19 epidemic. 

How will it hit the travel sector? 

  • Travel has been hit severely as countries issue advisories to eliminate unnecessary travel and go into lockdown mode. 

Sales of medical supplies, soaps, hand sanitisers and essentials to be stocked up at home will evidently rise. 

It is said that after the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in China in 2003, shoppers began to prefer buying online, to avoid crowded spaces and that e-commerce major Alibaba’s fortunes zoomed after this. Digital shopping may see even more traction. With schools shutting down temporarily, online learning platforms are likely to get a boost. 

Source : The Hindu 

When every line in the book is violated 

#GS2 #Education 

#GS4 #Ethics 

The core values of education are injured by the violence that breaks out among citizens during a riot 

  • After a violent riot, teachers of young children have a difficult time deciding what to say in their classes when children ask awkward questions.
  • It is not difficult to imagine the bewildering array of queries that the recent communal riots in the nation’s capital have triggered in the minds of young people.
  • A violent riot is normally seen as a breakdown of law and order. That it indeed is, implying a weakening of the state’s moral authority and people’s trust in it. Within a few days, the state re-establishes its authority and state functionaries, such as the police and other officers, start to assume that the damage done to their credibility has been restored. 
  • In the context of education, however, the impact of a riot goes much deeper.
  • As an institution of the state, a school — whether privately run or managed directly by the government — enables the young to imbibe the moral principle underlying the state’s authority. 
  • It is this moral principle that permits the state to exercise power over the lives of citizens. When a riot breaks out, schools are closed, mainly to protect children from aggression and violence.
  • When a riot has swept past, schools reopen and the resumption of their routine is usually perceived as the return of normalcy.

The real loss 

  • This perception is erroneous because it does not take into account the school’s real loss in terms of its own authority to serve and perpetuate the state’s morality. 
  • Every core value of education is injured by the violence that breaks out among citizens during a riot. 
  • It takes years to explain to the young that relations among people and communities are guided by certain values. 
  • Even a specific topic such as respect for someone else’s property and publicly owned infrastructure takes a long time to teach in a manner that it would make sense to children. 
  • All this effort is wasted when children see with their own eyes that people are killing others and burning shops, houses and buses. 
  • In the case of Delhi, the damage done to children’s learning was greater as it included the incredible realization that the police did nothing and merely watched when the killing and looting started. Why didn’t the police stop the riot, children want to know.

Then and now 

  • In early November of 1984, riots broke out following Indira Gandhi’s assassination. 
  • Schools remained closed for many days. When they reopened, the government sent a specific instruction to schools, forbidding any discussion of the riots. 
  • Teachers faced a dilemma. They knew how deeply many children had been scarred. Not just Sikh children who had seen the brute killing of their own elders, but others too who had witnessed horror or heard about it. 
  • They all needed ways to express their disturbed minds and seek some solace from teachers.
  • Now, 36 years later, the city is back at the same juncture. Teachers feel bewildered as they face the task of explaining to the young why a part of Delhi burst into flames. 
  • Any explanation would necessarily involve telling children why the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 has proved controversial.
  • Although the official curriculum now proudly claims to promote critical thinking and foundational learning, these terms provide little scope for responding to what is happening in one’s own neighbourhood or the country.
  • The Delhi riots coincided with an official visit of the American President, Donald Trump, to India, beginning February 24. His wife, Melania Trump, was scheduled to witness how a government school transacts a so-called ‘happiness’ curriculum. 
  • It was terribly ironical that she was attending a ‘happiness’ class in south Delhi while violence and fire raged in the north-eastern part of the city. We can imagine the meaning of the happiness that curriculum designers hope to impart through this innovation. 
  • In their design, happiness is another form of cynicism, marking the capacity to stay aloof and unaffected by the fate of fellow human beings.

Sanctity of education 

  • Textbooks, teachers and principals routinely tell children that India’s religious diversity is a matter of pride. What, then, accounts for so much hatred, children must wonder.
  • The personal trauma suffered by hundreds and the bewilderment of others who have witnessed the collapse of social order and police responsibility cannot be healed by words and promises alone.
  • Education must deal with the deeper anxieties of the young in order to retain its own sanctity and credibility. 
  • The hatred that found open expression for some days in north-east Delhi has put a question mark on the capacity of the system of education to nurture the core values a democratic order demands.

Violent riots knock down the sanctity of public education and people’s faith in it as a resource for maintaining basic human values. In a post-conflict phase, officers and teachers must decide what they will tell the young and how. To follow the modern idiom and simply ‘move on’ (i.e. put the riots behind) is to invite the usual price that unresolved trauma incurs. Simply ignoring the damage done to the sanity of young minds is tantamount to letting democracy suffer the loss of intellectual vitality that education alone can provide. 


Source : The Hindu 


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