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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 10 & 11 January 2021

Contents

  1. Kalaripayattu academy braces for action
  2. Study shows that Identical twins aren’t perfect clones
  3. Arunachal puts India on Vanadium map
  4. Decoding a meteorite that fell near Jaipur in 2017
  5. Evidence of megalithic culture found in Periyapatna taluk
  6. SC to review verdict upholding Aadhaar

KALARIPAYATTU ACADEMY BRACES FOR ACTION

Context:

A new facility is set to come up in Kerala to teach Kalaripayattu which is considered to be the oldest surviving martial art of the country to the newer generations.

Relevance:

GS-I: History, Art and Culture (Martial Arts in India), Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Kalarippayattu
  2. Ancient evidences
  3. Other Important Martial Artforms in India

About Kalarippayattu

  • Kalarippayattu originated in Kerala at around 3rd Century B.C. and is one of the oldest martial arts in India.
  • ‘Kalari’ in Malayalam means a specific type of school/gymnasium where martial arts are practiced or taught.
  • Kalarippayattu includes mock duels and physical exercises.
  • Kalarippayattu is NOT accompanied by any drumming or songs and the most important aspect is the style of fighting.
  • The most important key of Kalarippayattu is the Footwork. It also includes kicks, strikes and weapon-based practice.
  • Even women practice this artform, and Kalarippayattu is still rooted in the traditional rituals and ceremonies.

Kalarippayattu includes a number of techniques and aspects; some of them are:

  1. Uzhichil – the massage with Gingli oil
  2. Fighting with Otta (Otta is an ‘S’ shaped stick)
  3. Maipayattu – body exercises
  4. Puliyankam – sword fight
  5. Verumkai – bare-handed fight
  6. Angathari – Use of metal weapons and sticks of Kolthari

Ancient evidences

  • Kung- fu, popularized by the monks of the Shoaling Temple traces its ancestry to Bodhi Dharma – an Indian Buddhist monk and Kalaripayattu master.
  • The primary source of Indian martial arts is in Sangam literature: Akananuru and Purananuru are two of the Eight Anthologies in the Sangam Literature – and they describe the use of spears, swords, shields, bows and silambam in the Sangam era.
  • There is also mention a form of Kalaripayattu called Tulunadan Kalari in the Northern ballads of the Chekavar in the Malabar region.

Why did it lose significance?

  • Following the collapse of the princely states and the advent of free India – Kalaripayattu has lost its significance as a mortal combat code.
  • Thus, establishment of the academy in Kerala and prescribing proper syllabus will help to revive one of the oldest martial artforms in India.

Other Important Martial Artforms in India

Silambam

  • Silambam is a weapon-based (kind of staff fencing) Indian martial art originating in South India (primarily in Tamil Nadu) in the Indian subcontinent.
  • This style is mentioned in Tamil Sangam literature circa 400 BCE and promoted during the reigns of Pandyas, Cholas and Cheras.

Thang-ta and Sarit Sarak

  • Thang-ta is an armed martial artform, created by the Meitei people of Manipur. It is one of the most lethal forms of combat.
  • Thang refers to a sword and Ta refers to a spear – which are the two main elements of Thang-ta.
  • Sarit Sarak is an unarmed martial artform that uses hand-to-hand combat which originated in Manipur.
  • The history of Sarit Sarak can be traced back to the 17th Century when it was successfully used by the Manipuri kings to fight with the British.

Pari-khanda

  • Pari-khanda is a style of sword and shield fighting from Bihar, created by the Rajputs.
  • Pari-khanda steps and techniques are also used in Chau dance.

Thoda

  • Thoda is known as a form of a martial art form that is commonly seen in
  • Himachal Pradesh, especially in the valleys of Kullu and Manali.
  • Thoda needs excellence in archery, where the main weapons are bows and arrows.

Gatka

  • Gatka is the name of an Indian martial art associated with the Sikhs of the Punjab who practice an early variant of the martial art.
  • It is a style of stick-fighting, with wooden sticks intended to simulate swords.
  • The Punjabi name gatka properly refers to the wooden stick used.

Musti Yuddha

  • Musti Yuddha quite literally means fist fighting (‘musti’ meaning fist and ‘yuddha’ meaning fight or battle) in Sanskrit.
  • Tracing back to ancient India, this form of combat has been
  • referenced in both the Rig Veda and the Ramayana.

Mardani Khel

  • Mardani Khel is an armed Indian martial art from Maharashtra.
  • It is particularly known for its use of the uniquely Indian patta (sword) and vita (corded lance).

Pehlwani/Kushti

  • Pehlwani, also known as kushti, is a form of wrestling contested in the Indian subcontinent.
  • It was developed from the native Indian malla-yuddha.
  • The words pehlwani and kushti derive from the Persian terms pahlavani and koshti respectively, meaning Heroic wrestling.

-Source: The Hindu


STUDY SHOWS THAT IDENTICAL TWINS AREN’T PERFECT CLONES

Context:

New research study shows that Identical twins are not exactly genetically the same.

Relevance:

GS-III: Science and Technology, Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Understanding what is meant by “twins”
  2. Understanding Monozygotic (identical) Twins
  3. Genetic mutations
  4. What the new study has shown?

Understanding what is meant by “twins”

Twins are two offspring produced by the same pregnancy. (Need not necessarily be born at the same time)

Twins can be either:

  1. Monozygotic (‘identical’), meaning that they develop from one zygote, which splits and forms two embryos.
  2. Dizygotic (‘non-identical’ or ‘fraternal’), meaning that each twin develops from a separate egg and each egg is fertilized by its own sperm cell.

Understanding Monozygotic (identical) Twins

  • Monozygotic (MZ) or identical twins occur when a single egg is fertilized to form one zygote (hence, “monozygotic”) which then divides into two separate embryos.
  • Monozygotic twins may also be created artificially by embryo splitting.
  • It can be used as an expansion of in vitro fertilization (IVF) to increase the number of available embryos for embryo transfer.

Genetic and epigenetic similarity in Identical Twins

  • Monozygotic twins are genetically nearly identical and they are always the same sex unless there has been a mutation during development.
  • The children of monozygotic twins test genetically as half-siblings (or full siblings, if a pair of monozygotic twins reproduces with another pair or with the same person), rather than first cousins.
  • Identical twins do not have the same fingerprints however, because even within the confines of the womb, the fetuses touch different parts of their environment, giving rise to small variations in their corresponding prints and thus making them unique.
  • Monozygotic twins always have the same genotype.
  • Normally due to an environmental factor or the deactivation of different X chromosomes in female monozygotic twins, and in some extremely rare cases, due to aneuploidy, twins may express different sexual phenotypes, normally from an XXY Klinefelter syndrome zygote splitting unevenly.
  • Monozygotic twins, although genetically very similar, are not genetically exactly the same.
  • The mutations producing the differences detected in this study would have occurred during embryonic cell-division (after the point of fertilization).
  • If they occur early in fetal development, they will be present in a very large proportion of body cells.
  • Another cause of difference between monozygotic twins is epigenetic modification, caused by differing environmental influences throughout their lives.

Genetic mutations

  • A mutation means an alteration in a sequence of DNA – a tiny change that is not inherently good or bad, but can influence physical features or susceptibility to certain diseases.
  • They can occur when a cell divides and makes a slight error in replicating DNA.

What the new study has shown?

  • The new study goes beyond earlier work by including DNA of parents, children and spouses of identical twins.
  • That allowed the researchers to pinpoint when genetic mutations occurred in two different kinds of cells – those present in just one individual and those inherited by that person’s children.
  • They also found mutations that occurred before the developing embryo split into two, setting the stage for twins.

-Source: The Hindu


ARUNACHAL PUTS INDIA ON VANADIUM MAP

Context:

Arunachal Pradesh could be India’s prime producer of vanadium, a high-value metal used in strengthening steel and titanium.

Exploration being carried out by Geological Survey of India (GSI) has placed the eastern Himalayan State on the vanadium map of the country and geologists are confident of identifying a deposit soon.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Industry and Infrastructure (Distribution of Minerals)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Vanadium?
  2. Uses of Vanadium
  3. India’s Vanadium sources and Consumption

What is Vanadium?

  • Vanadium is a soft, grey and ductile element (in its pure form is a soft, grey and ductile element) and it is anelement with the symbol V and atomic number 23.
  • It is a hard, silvery-grey, malleable transition metal.
  • The elemental metal is rarely found in nature, but once isolated artificially, the formation of an oxide layer (passivation) somewhat stabilizes the free metal against further oxidation.
  • Vanadium occurs naturally in about 65 minerals and in fossil fuel deposits.

Production of Vanadium

Vanadium is produced in China and Russia from steel smelter slag.

Other countries produce it either from magnetite directly, flue dust of heavy oil, or as a byproduct of uranium mining.

Uses of Vanadium

  • It is mainly used to produce specialty steel alloys such as high-speed tool steels, and some aluminium alloys.
  • The most important industrial vanadium compound, vanadium pentoxide, is used as a catalyst for the production of sulfuric acid.
  • The vanadium redox battery for energy storage may be an important application in the future.
  • Vanadium alloys are durable in extreme temperature and environments, and are corrosion-resistant.
  • Its addition improves the tensile strength of steel and of reinforcing bars used for buildings, tunnels and bridges.

India’s Vanadium sources and Consumption

  • India is a significant consumer of vanadium but is not a primary producer of the strategic metal.
  • According to data provided by GSI, India consumed 4% of vanadium produced across the globe in 2017.
  • China is largest producer which produces 57% of the world’s vanadium. (China consumed 44% of the metal.)
  • The promising concentrations of vanadium in the palaeo-proterozoic carbonaceous phyllite rocks in Arunachal Pradesh will be the first report of a primary deposit of vanadium in India.
  • Vanadium mineralisation in Arunachal Pradesh is geologically similar to the “stone coal” vanadium deposits of China hosted in carbonaceous shale.

-Source: The Hindu


DECODING A METEORITE THAT FELL NEAR JAIPUR IN 2017

Context:

In 2017, a meteorite that struck Jaipur broke into several fragments, but a pit of about 15 cm in diameter and 10 cm in depth was formed at the impact site. Now, a new study has shed light on the mineralogy of the meteorite.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is a Meteorite?
  2. Types of Meteorites
  3. Why is it important to study Meteorites?
  4. More about the Jaipur Meteorite

What is a Meteorite?

  • A meteorite is a solid piece of debris from an object, such as a comet, asteroid, or meteoroid, that originates in outer space and survives its passage through the atmosphere to reach the surface of a planet or moon.
  • When the original object enters the atmosphere, various factors such as friction, pressure, and chemical interactions with the atmospheric gases cause it to heat up and radiate energy.
  • It then becomes a meteor and forms a fireball, also known as a shooting star or falling star.
  • Once it settles on the larger body’s surface, the meteor becomes a meteorite.
  • Meteorites vary greatly in size. For geologists, a bolide is a meteorite large enough to create an impact crater.
  • Meteorites that are recovered after being observed as they transit the atmosphere and impact the Earth are called meteorite falls.

Types of Meteorites

Meteorites have traditionally been divided into three broad categories:

  1. Stony meteorites that are rocks, mainly composed of silicate minerals;
  2. Iron meteorites that are largely composed of metallic iron-nickel;
  3. Stony-iron meteorites that contain large amounts of both metallic and rocky material.
  • Asteroid: A relatively small, inactive, rocky body orbiting the Sun.
  • Comet: A relatively small, at times active, object whose ices can vaporize in sunlight forming an atmosphere (coma) of dust and gas and, sometimes, a tail of dust and/or gas.
  • Meteoroid: A small particle from a comet or asteroid orbiting the Sun.
  • Meteor: The light phenomena which results when a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere and vaporizes; a shooting star.
  • Meteorite: A meteoroid that survives its passage through the Earth’s atmosphere and lands upon the Earth’s surface.
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Why is it important to study Meteorites?

  • Meteorites are representative of asteroids. Asteroids are the remnant debris of the inner solar system formation process and thus offer the formation history or the building blocks of the planets.
  • Therefore, by studying meteorites in the laboratory and asteroids by exploration and sample return mission we try to reconstruct the activity of early solar system events.
  • Also, asteroids are often rich in volatiles and other minerals and can be exploited for future planetary exploration.

More about the Jaipur Meteorite

  • The meteorite named Mukundpura CM2 was classified to be a carbonaceous chondrite.
  • The study revealed that Mukundpura CM2 had experienced varying degrees of alteration during the impact.
  • Some minerals like forsterite and FeO olivine, calcium aluminium rich inclusion (CAI) minerals escaped alteration.
  • Few magnetites, sulphides and calcites were also found.

-Source: The Hindu


EVIDENCE OF MEGALITHIC CULTURE FOUND IN PERIYAPATNA TALUK

Context:

A megalithic burial site and neolithic tools have been discovered in an agricultural field in Mysuru, Karnataka.

There is no protection to megalithic burial sites from the State Archaeological Department who cite paucity of human and financial resources.

Relevance:

GS-I: History, Art and Culture (Historical Evidences)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is a Megalith?
  2. Megaliths in India
  3. Neolithic age
  4. Neolithic Age in India
  5. Neolithic tools

What is a Megalith?

  • A megalith is a large pre-historic stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones.
  • Most extant megaliths were erected between the Neolithic period (although earlier Mesolithic examples are known) through the Chalcolithic period and into the Bronze Age.
  • While “megalith” is often used to describe a single piece of stone, it also can be used to denote one or more rocks hewn in definite shapes for special purposes.
  • It has been used to describe structures built by people from many parts of the world living in many different periods.

Megaliths in India

  • Megaliths in India are dated before 3000 BC, with recent findings dated back to 5000 BC in southern India.
  • Megaliths are found in almost all parts of southern India.
  • There is also a broad time evolution with the megaliths in central India and the upper Indus valley where the oldest megaliths are found, while those in the east are of much later date.
  • A large fraction of these is assumed to be associated with burial or post burial rituals, including memorials for those whose remains may or may not be available.
  • The case-example is that of Brahmagiri, which was excavated in 1975 and helped establish the culture sequence in south Indian prehistory.
  • However, there is another distinct class of megaliths that do not seem to be associated with burials.
  • The burial sites are the sites with actual burial remains, such as dolmenoid cists (box-shaped stone burial chambers), cairn circles (stone circles with defined peripheries), and capstones (distinctive mushroom-shaped burial chambers found mainly in Kerala).
  • Commemorative megaliths include memorial sites.
  • In India, archaeologists trace the majority of the megaliths to the Iron Age (1500 BC to 500 BC), though some sites precede the Iron Age, extending up to 2000 BC.
  • The majority of megalithic sites are found in Peninsular India, concentrated in the states of Maharashtra (mainly in Vidarbha), Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana.

Neolithic age

  • The Neolithic (“New Stone Age”) is the final division of the Stone Age and when began about 12,000 years ago when the first developments of farming appeared in the Epipalaeolithic Near East, and later in other parts of the world.
  • The Neolithic division lasted (in that part of the world) until the transitional period of the Chalcolithic from about 6,500 years ago (4500 BC), marked by the development of metallurgy, leading up to the Bronze Age and Iron Age.
  • The Neolithic comprises a progression of behavioral and cultural characteristics and changes, including the use of wild and domestic crops and of domesticated animals.

Neolithic Age in India

  • In South India, the Neolithic began by 6500 BC and lasted until around 1400 BC when the Megalithic transition period began.
  • South Indian Neolithic is characterized by Ash mounds from 2500 BC in Karnataka region, expanded later to Tamil Nadu.

Neolithic tools

  • The Neolithic Period, or New Stone Age, the age of the ground tool, is defined by the advent around 7000 BCE of ground and polished celts (axe and adz heads) as well as similarly treated chisels and gouges, often made of such stones as jadeite, diorite, or schist, all harder than flint.
  • A ground tool is one that was chipped to rough shape in the old manner and then rubbed on or with a coarse abrasive rock to remove the chip scars either from the entire surface or around the working edge.
  • Polishing was a last step, a final grinding with fine abrasive.
  • That such a tool is pleasing to the eye is incidental; the real worth of the smoothing lay in the even cutting edge, superior strength, and better handling.
  • Although the polished rock tool is the index to the Neolithic Period, it may be noted that the ice sheets were receding and climatic conditions were assisting the conversion of hunters into herdsmen.
  • The new, relatively sedentary life spawned further inventions, such as pottery.

Some of the Neolithic tools are:

  1. Polished axes
  2. Blades
  3. Arrowheads
  4. Ring stone
  5. Sickle
  6. Plough
  7. Harpoon
  8. Muller
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-Source: The Hindu


SC TO REVIEW VERDICT UPHOLDING AADHAAR

Context:

A five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court will examine petitions seeking a review of the court’s earlier verdict upholding the Aadhaar programme as a reasonable restriction on individual privacy to fulfil the government’s “legitimate aim” to provide dignity to the poor.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Government Interventions and Schemes)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. The Contention: Majority view held by the Constitution Bench
  2. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)
  3. Aadhaar Act, 2016
  4. Supreme Court on Aadhaar Card in the past

The Contention: Majority view held by the Constitution Bench

  • The majority view held by the Constitution Bench declared Aadhaar an “unparalleled” identity proof that could not be duplicated unlike PAN, ration card, and passport.
  • The review petition has argued that the Aadhaar Act clearly did not fall within the ambit of Article 110 (1) of the Constitution, which restricts Money Bills to certain fields.
  • Another petition said that the judgment did not examine certain vital issued connected to the scheme and it parent statute.
  • One of the petitions pointed to a section which specifically prohibits any person from parting with any information which is pertaining to one’s “income”. The petition said the provision categorically states that the demographic information shall not include information pertaining to one’s income statement.
  • The petition highlighted how the Aadhaar programme had already become an instrument of collection and transfer of personal data.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)

  • UIDAI is an agency under the central government of India mandated to collect demographic and biometric information of the country’s residents, store the data in a central database, and issue to each resident of the country a 12-digit unique identity number called Aadhaar.
  • UIDAI was established as per the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.
  • The act is also called the Aadhaar Act 2016 in short.
  • UIDAI is therefore a Statutory Body.
  • It comes under the Electronics & IT ministry.

Aadhaar Act, 2016

  • The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016 is a money bill of the Parliament of India.
  • It aims to provide legal backing to the Aadhaar unique identification number project.
  • It was passed on 11 March 2016 by the Lok Sabha.

Supreme Court on Aadhaar Card in the past

  • SC has orally observed that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for availing welfare schemes.
  • The Center has declared that Aadhaar card will be mandatory for opening new bank accounts and for transactions above Rs. 50,000. All existing account holders will also have to submit their Aadhaar details by December 31, 2017, failing which accounts will be deemed invalid.
  • A five-judge bench on December 15, 2017 agreed to the Central government’s decision to extend the deadline of linking of “everything”, including mobile phones and bank accounts, to Aadhaar card till March 31, 2018. But SC also ordered that an Aadhaar card holder opening a new bank account will have to furnish his Aadhaar card to the bank.

-Source: The Hindu

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