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Current Affairs 03 July 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Green Credit Programme
  2. Census in India
  3. National Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission
  4. Mekedatu Project
  5. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
  6. PEN Pinter Prize
  7. Tam Pà Ling Cave
  8. Ashadha Purnima

Green Credit Programme


Context:

Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India has notified the draft ‘Green Credit Programme (GCP)’ implementation rules for 2023.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Green Credit Programme
  2. Significance of the Green Credit Programme
  3. Concerns Regarding the Green Credit Mechanism

Green Credit Programme:

  • The Green Credit Programme introduces a system of incentives, known as “Green Credits,” for activities that have a positive impact on the environment.
  • It complements the domestic Carbon Market in India, expanding beyond CO2 emission reductions to incentivize a wider range of sustainable actions.
Objectives:
  • The Green Credit System aims to meet various environmental obligations, encouraging companies, individuals, and local bodies to undertake sustainable initiatives.
  • Unlike the carbon market’s focus on CO2 emissions, the Green Credit Programme promotes broader environmental goals.
Tradable Credits:
  • Green credits earned through sustainable activities will be tradable, allowing participants to sell them on a proposed domestic market platform.
  • This creates a market-based approach to incentivize and reward environmentally beneficial actions.
Program Administrator:
  • The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) will serve as the administrator of the Green Credit Programme.
  • ICFRE will develop guidelines, processes, and procedures for the implementation of the programme, ensuring its effectiveness and integrity.

Green Credit Activities:

The programme promotes a range of activities that contribute to environmental sustainability, including:

  • Increasing Green Cover: Promoting tree plantation and related activities to enhance the green cover across the country.
  • Water Conservation: Encouraging water conservation, water harvesting, and efficient water use, including the treatment and reuse of wastewater.
  • Regenerative Agriculture: Promoting natural and regenerative agricultural practices and land restoration to improve productivity, soil health, and the nutritional value of food produced.
  • Waste Management: Supporting sustainable waste management practices, including collection, segregation, and treatment.
  • Air Pollution Reduction: Encouraging measures to reduce air pollution and other pollution abatement activities.
  • Mangrove Conservation: Promoting the conservation and restoration of mangroves, important ecosystems for coastal areas.
  • Ecomark Label: Encouraging manufacturers to obtain the “Ecomark” label for their goods and services, signifying their environmental sustainability.
  • Sustainable Infrastructure: Encouraging the construction of buildings and infrastructure using sustainable technologies and materials.
  • Setting Thresholds and Benchmarks: The Green Credit Programme will establish thresholds and benchmarks for each specific Green Credit activity, ensuring clear standards and targets for participants to achieve.

Significance of the Green Credit Programme:

Encouraging Compliance and Synergy:

  • The programme incentivizes private sector industries and entities to fulfill their existing obligations by aligning their actions with those generating or purchasing green credits.
  • It promotes convergence between different legal frameworks and encourages a comprehensive approach to environmental sustainability.

Support for Ecosystem Services:

  • The guidelines of the programme integrate mechanisms to quantify and support ecosystem services.
  • This benefits organic farmers and Farmers Producer Organizations (FPOs) by recognizing and rewarding their contributions to ecosystem conservation.

Valuing Multiple Ecosystem Services:

  • The Green Credit Programme introduces a unique instrument that values and rewards multiple ecosystem services.
  • It goes beyond carbon mitigation and allows green projects to achieve optimal returns by considering a broader range of environmental benefits.

Concerns Regarding the Green Credit Mechanism:

Risk of Greenwashing:

  • Experts express concerns that the market-based nature of green credits may lead to greenwashing practices.
  • There is a risk of entities making false or exaggerated claims about environmental sustainability without delivering substantial environmental benefits.

Tokenistic Activities:

  • Some fear that companies or entities may engage in superficial activities solely to generate green credits, without making meaningful efforts to address environmental issues.
  • This raises concerns about the genuineness and effectiveness of the actions taken.

Need for Urgent Emissions Reductions:

  • Critics question the effectiveness of market mechanisms, such as green credits, in achieving the necessary and urgent emissions reductions required to combat climate change.
  • They argue that more transformative efforts guided by government policies and regulations are essential.

Resource Allocation and Fraud Prevention:

  • There are concerns about the allocation of resources for monitoring and preventing fraud within the green credit mechanism.
  • Critics argue that these resources could be better directed towards initiatives with more significant transformative impacts on sustainability.

-Source: Down To Earth


Census in India


Context:

The Census enumeration scheduled to take place in 2021 has been pushed to 2024-25 until further orders. With this, the exercise related to National Population Register (NPR) would also get delayed. NPR is to be updated with the first phase of Census 2021.

Relevance

GS I: Population and Related issues

Dimensions  of the Article:

  1. About the Census
  2. Key facts about India’s census
  3. Significance of census:
  4. What are implications of the delay?
  5. National Population Register (NPR)

About the Census

  • The census provides information on size, distribution and socio-economic, demographic and other characteristics of the country’s population.
  • The first synchronous census in India was held in 1881, and since then, censuses have been undertaken uninterruptedly once every ten years.
  • India’s last census was carried out in 2011 when the country’s population stood at 121 crores.
  • The Census 2021 will be conducted in 18 languages out of the 22 scheduled languages (under 8th schedule) and English, and the option of “Other” under the gender category will be changed to “Third Gender”.
  • For the first time data is proposed to be collected through a mobile app by enumerators and they will receive an additional payment as an incentive.
  • The last caste-based census was conducted by the British in 1931.
  • Arthashastra by ‘Kautilya’ written in the 3rd Century BC prescribed the collection of population statistics as a measure of state policy for taxation.
  • In India, a census is conducted every decade and Census 2021 will be the 16th national census of the country.

Key facts about India’s census

  • In India, the census was first started under British Viceroy Lord Mayo in 1872 and the first synchronous census in India was held in 1881. 
  • It is being conducted at an interval of 10 years. 
  • The decennial Census is conducted by the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Census is conducted under the provisions of the Census Act, of 1948.
  • The population census is a Union subject under Article 246 of the Indian Constitution.
  • It is listed as serial number 69 of the seventh schedule of the constitution.

Significance of census:

  • Foundation of Statistical Analyses: A census generates primary and authentic data that forms the foundation for various statistical analyses. This data is crucial for planning, decision-making, and development initiatives across sectors like administration, economy, and social welfare.
  • Planning and Development: Census data provides essential information for planning and development initiatives in various sectors. It helps policymakers, government agencies, and organizations to understand demographic patterns, population trends, and distribution of resources, enabling them to formulate effective strategies and allocate resources efficiently.
  • Constituency Delimitation and Representation: Census data plays a vital role in demarcating constituencies and determining representation in government bodies. It helps in deciding the number of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in Parliament, State legislatures, local bodies, and government services. This ensures proportional representation and promotes inclusivity in the political and administrative systems.
  • Business and Industry Planning: Census data is valuable for business houses and industries as it helps them strengthen and plan their operations, especially for expanding into areas that were previously underserved. The data provides insights into population characteristics, consumer demographics, and market potential, facilitating business decisions and market penetration strategies.
  • Grants and Resource Allocation: The Finance Commission utilizes population figures from census data to provide grants to states. The allocation of resources, funding, and development assistance is often based on the population data available from the census.

What are implications of the delay?

  • The Census data is important for various administrative functions, welfare schemes, and other surveys.
  • The Finance Commission uses Census figures to allocate funds to states, and a delay could put them at a disadvantage.
  • Outdated Census data (such as the data from the 2011 Census) can become unreliable and affect those who do and do not receive the benefits of welfare schemes.
  • Census data is also used as a “frame” or list for selecting representative samples for other sample surveys conducted in the country.
  • The Census is crucial for determining the population of migrants and migration patterns.
  • The National Population Register (NPR) exercise, which was to happen with the first phase of the Census, should now be delinked due to its politically sensitive nature and the urgency of the Census, according to former bureaucrats.

National Population Register (NPR):

  • The NPR is a register that includes the details of usual residents of India.
  • It is mandatory for every usual resident to register in the NPR.
  • A usual resident is defined as someone who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more, or intends to reside there for the next 6 months or more.
  • It encompasses both Indian citizens and foreign citizens.
Objective:
  • The NPR aims to create a comprehensive identity database of all usual residents in the country.
  • It serves as a basis for various government schemes and initiatives.
History and Updates:
  • The first National Population Register was prepared in 2010, and data was updated in 2015 through a door-to-door survey.
  • The next update of the NPR was planned to be conducted along with the Census 2021.
  • However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the NPR updation and related field activities were postponed.
Authority and Legal Basis:
  • The NPR is conducted by the Office of the Registrar General of India (RGI), which operates under the Home Ministry.
  • It is prepared under Rule 3 of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  • These rules were framed under the Citizenship Act, 1955.
Distinction from National Register of Citizens (NRC):

The NPR should not be confused with the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

  • The NRC is a register that specifically lists details of Indian citizens, excluding foreign citizens.
  • The NRC’s purpose is to identify Indian citizens living in India and outside.

-Source: The Hindu


National Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission


Context:

Recently, the Prime Minister launched the National Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission and distributed sickle cell genetic status cards to the beneficiaries in Madhya Pradesh.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the National Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission
  2. Sickle Cell Anaemia
  3. Symptoms
  4. Treatment
  5. Indian Government Initiatives to reduce Sickle Cell Anaemia

National Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission:

  • The mission aims to tackle the significant health challenges associated with sickle cell disease (SCD), with a particular focus on the tribal population.
  • It represents a crucial milestone in the Government’s ongoing efforts to eliminate SCD as a public health issue by 2047.

Objectives of the Mission:

Provision of Affordable and Accessible Care:

  • Ensure that all SCD patients have access to affordable and easily accessible healthcare services.
  • Improve the availability and affordability of SCD treatments and medications.

Quality of Care:

  • Enhance the quality of care provided to SCD patients.
  • Implement measures to ensure that healthcare facilities meet the required standards for SCD management.

Prevalence Reduction:

  • Implement strategies to reduce the prevalence of SCD in the population.
  • Focus on early detection and prevention methods to minimize the number of new SCD cases.

Health Promotion:

  • Raise awareness about SCD through health promotion campaigns.
  • Provide pre-marital genetic counseling to educate individuals about the risks associated with SCD.

Prevention:

  • Conduct universal screening programs to identify SCD cases at an early stage.
  • Emphasize the importance of early detection and prompt intervention to prevent complications.

Holistic Management & Continuum of Care:

  • Develop a comprehensive management approach for individuals with SCD.
  • Establish coordinated care across primary, secondary, and tertiary healthcare levels.
  • Ensure adequate treatment facilities at tertiary healthcare institutions.

Patient Support System:

  • Establish a robust support system for SCD patients.
  • Provide guidance, counseling, and emotional support to patients and their families.

Community Adoption:

  • Encourage community involvement in SCD prevention and care.
  • Promote the adoption of preventive measures and support systems within local communities.
Coverage Targets:
  • The mission aims to reach a total of 7 crore people.
  • Provide screening, counseling, and care services for individuals with SCD within a three-and-a-half-year timeframe.

Sickle Cell Anaemia

  • Haemoglobin which is tasked with carrying oxygen to all parts of the body, has four protein subunits — two alpha and two beta.
  • In some people, mutations in the gene that creates the beta subunits impact the shape of the blood cell and distorts it to look like a sickle.
  • A round red blood cell can move easily through blood vessels because of its shape but sickle red blood cells end up slowing, and even blocking, the blood flow.
  • Moreover, sickle cells die early, resulting in a shortage of red blood cells that deprive the body of oxygen.
  • These obstructions and shortages may cause chronic anaemia, pain, fatigue, acute chest syndrome, stroke, and a host of other serious health complications.
  • Without treatment, quality of life is compromised and severe cases can become fatal in the initial years of life.
Symptoms

The symptoms of sickle cell anaemia can vary from person to person, but common symptoms include:

  • Painful episodes (sickle cell crisis)
  • Anaemia
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Delays in growth and development
  • Joint pain
  • frequent infections
Treatment

Currently, there is no cure for sickle cell anaemia, but treatments are available to manage the symptoms and prevent complications.

  • Pain management
  • Blood transfusions
  • Antibiotics to prevent infections
  • Hydoxyurea, a medication to reduce the frequency of sickle cell crises
  • Stem cell transplantation in some cases
Indian Government Initiatives to reduce Sickle Cell Anaemia
  • The Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Rural Health Mission in different States are undertaking outreach programmes for better management and control of the disease.
  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs launched a portal wherein people can register themselves if they have the disease or the trait, in order to collate all information related to SCA among tribal groups.
  • In the Budget, the Union Health Minister said the government plans to distribute “special cards” across tribal areas to people below the age of 40.
    • The cards will be divided into different categories based on the screening results.
    • The mission will receive funding under the National Health Mission.

-Source: The Hindu


Mekedatu Project


Context:

Environmentalists recently advocated for the revival of the raja kaluve network and dead lakes in Bengaluru to resolve the city’s drinking water problem instead of moving ahead with the Mekedatu Reservoir Project.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Intra-State Relations, Functions & responsibilities of the Union and the States, Issues and challenges of federal structure)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Cauvery River
  2. Mekedatu
  3. About the Mekedatu Project:
  4. Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA)
  5. Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC)

About the Cauvery River

  • The Cauvery River (Kaveri), designated as the ‘Dakshina Ganga’ or ‘the Ganga of the South’, flows in a southeasterly direction through the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and descends the Eastern Ghats in a series of great falls.
  • Before emptying into the Bay of Bengal south of Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu the river breaks into a large number of distributaries forming a wide delta called the “Garden of Southern India”
  • The Cauvery basin extends over states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Union Territory of Puducherry draining an area of 81 thousand Sq.km.
  • It is bounded by the Western Ghats on the west, by the Eastern Ghats on the east and the south, and by the ridges separating it from the Krishna basin and Pennar basin on the north.
  • The Nilgiris, an offshore of Western ghats, extend Eastwards to the Eastern ghats and divide the basin into two natural and political regions i.e., Karnataka plateau in the North and the Tamil Nadu plateau in the South.
  • Physiographically, the basin can be divided into three parts – the Westen Ghats, the Plateau of Mysore, and the Delta.
  • The delta area is the most fertile tract in the basin. The principal soil types found in the basin are black soils, red soils, laterites, alluvial soils, forest soils, and mixed soils. Red soils occupy large areas in the basin. Alluvial soils are found in the delta areas.
  • It is almost a perennial river with comparatively fewer fluctuations in flow and is very useful for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation because its upper catchment area receives rainfall during summer by the south-west monsoon and the lower catchment area during the winter season by the retreating north-east monsoon.
  • Harangi, Hemavati, Shimsha, and Arkavati are the tributaries on the left bank (north) and Lakshmantirtha, Kabbani, Suvarnavati, Bhavani, Noyil, and Amaravati are the tributaries on the right bank (south).

Mekedatu

  • Mekedatu is a location along Kaveri in the border of Chamarajanagar and Ramanagara Districts. Sangama is the place where Arkavati merges with Kaveri.
  • At Mekedaatu, the Kaveri runs through a deep, narrow ravine of hard granite rock.
  • The water flows very fast through the gorge, gouging pits in the rocky riverbed.

About the Mekedatu Project:

  • The Mekedatu dam project is located in Ramanagaram district, approximately 100 km south of Bengaluru, near the entry point of the Cauvery River into Tamil Nadu. The project has been a subject of controversy for several years.
  • The proposed dam has a capacity of 48 TMC (thousand million cubic) feet and an estimated cost of Rs 6,000 crore. Its primary objectives are to provide drinking water to Bengaluru and recharge the regional groundwater table.
  • In November 2014, the Karnataka government, under Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, invited expressions of interest for the project and allocated Rs 25 crore in the 2015 Budget for a detailed project report.
  • The Mekedatu dam is planned to be larger than the Krishnaraja Sagar project on the Cauvery River. The Central Water Commission (CWC) approved a feasibility study for the project in 2018.
History of Opposition to the Project:
  • Tamil Nadu witnessed widespread protests against the dam in 2015, including a statewide bandh supported by various stakeholders. The state Assembly passed unanimous resolutions against the project in December 2018 and January 2022.
  • Prior to the 2016 Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, Captain Vijayakanth of DMDK led a delegation of Opposition leaders to meet the Prime Minister to raise concerns about the project. Siddaramaiah, the then Chief Minister of Karnataka, also led an all-party delegation from Karnataka seeking the Centre’s cooperation for the project.
  • In August 2021, Tamil Nadu approached the Supreme Court against the project, arguing that Karnataka’s plan to construct two reservoirs on the Cauvery River would alter its flow and violate the final award of the Cauvery River Water Tribunal (CRWT). Tamil Nadu contended that the project would impede the flow of water downstream, affecting areas such as Billigundulu along the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border.

Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA)

  • CWMA has been created as per the Cauvery Management Scheme framed by Centre and approved by Supreme Court.
  • The Cauvery Management Scheme deals with release of water from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.
  • It will be implemented by Cauvery Management Authority (CMA).
  • CMA will be sole body to implement CWDT award as modified by Supreme Court.
  • The Central Government will have no say in implementing of the scheme except for issuing administrative advisories to it.
  • The authority will comprise a chairman, a secretary and eight members.
  • Out of the eight members, two will be full time, while two will be part time members from centre’s side. Rest four will be part time members from states.
  • The main mandate of the CMA will be to secure implementation and compliance of the Supreme Court’s order in relation to “storage, apportionment, regulation and control of Cauvery waters”.
  • CMA will also advise the states to take suitable measures to improve water use efficiency.
  • It will do so by promoting use of micro-irrigation, change in cropping patterns, improved farm practices and development of command areas.
  • The CMA will also prepare an annual report covering its activities during the preceding year.

Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC)

  • The Central government constituted the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) as per the provisions in the Kaveri Management Scheme laid down by the Supreme Court.
  • While the CWMA is an umbrella body, the CWRC will monitor water management on a day-to-day basis, including the water level and inflow and outflow of reservoirs in all the basin states.

-Source: The Hindu, Indian Express


Shanghai Cooperation Organisation


Context:

Chinese Foreign Ministry recently said that the Chinese President will attend the virtual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) being hosted by India.

Relevance:

GS II- International relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the SCO? 
  2. Organizational structure of SCO
  3. How is this relevant to India? 
  4. Is it about countering the West? 

What is the SCO? 

  • Founded in June 2001, it was built on the ‘Shanghai Five’, the grouping which consisted of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
  • They came together in the post-Soviet era in 1996, in order to work on regional security, reduction of border troops and terrorism.
  • They endowed particular focus on ‘conflict resolution’, given its early success between China and Russia, and then within the Central Asian Republics.
  • Some of their prominent outcomes in this arena entail an ‘Agreement on Confidence-Building in the Military Field Along the Border Areas’ (in 1996) between China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which led to an agreement on the mutual reduction of military forces on their common borders in 1997.
  • It would also pitch in to help the Central Asian countries resolve some of their boundary disputes. 
  • In 2001, the ‘Shanghai Five’ inducted Uzbekistan into its fold and named it the SCO, outlining its principles in a charter that promoted what was called the “Shanghai spirit” of cooperation.
  • The precise assertion, combined with some of the member states’ profiles, of building a “new international political and economic order” has often led to it being placed as a counter to treaties and groupings of the West, particularly North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
Member states
  • India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
  • The SCO also has four observer states — Afghanistan, Iran, Belarus and Mongolia — of which Iran and Belarus are now moving towards full membership. 
Main goals
  • Strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states;
  • Promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, economy, research and technology, and culture.
Focus areas:
  • Education, energy, transport, tourism and environmental protection.
  • It also calls for joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region; and the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.

Organizational structure of SCO

The SCO secretariat has two permanent bodies —

  • SCO Secretariat based in Beijing 
  • Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) based in Tashkent.

Other than this, the grouping consists of

Heads of State Council (HSC):

  • It is the supreme decision-making body of the organisation.
  • It meets annually to adopt decisions and guidelines on all important matters relevant to the organisation.

Heads of Government Council (HGC):

  • The HGC (mainly including Prime Ministers) also meets annually to zero in on the organisation’s priority areas and multilateral cooperation strategy.
  • It also endeavours to resolve present economic and cooperation issues alongside approving the organisation’s annual budget. 

Foreign Ministers Council:

  • The Foreign Ministers Council considers issues pertaining to the day-to-day activities of the organisation, charting HSC meetings and consultations on international problems within the organisation and if required, makes statements on behalf of the SCO. 

How is this relevant to India? 

  • India acquired the observer status in the grouping in 2005 and was admitted as a full member in 2017.
  • Through the years, the SCO hosts have encouraged members to use the platform to discuss differences with other members on the sidelines.
  • India is also a part of the ‘Quadrilateral’ grouping with the U.S., Japan and Australia.
  • Its association with the grouping of a rather different nature is part of its foreign policy that emphasises on principles of “strategic autonomy and multi-alignment”. 

Is it about countering the West? 

  • The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) noted in 2015 that decades of rapid economic growth had propelled China onto the world’s stage, whereas Russia found itself beset with economic turmoil following the Crimean annexation in 2014 and ejection from the G8 grouping.
  • Most recently, Russia’s action in Ukraine caused it to be subjected to sanctions on multiple fronts by the West.
  • China, in what could be referred to as ‘distance diplomacy’, had held that security of one country should not be at the expense of another country — blaming the West (specifically referring to NATO) for the entire episode.
  • Thus, the organisation spearheaded by both Russia and China does not find its supporters in the West. 
  • The Iranian leadership has often stressed that the country must “look to the East”.
  • This is essential not only to resist its economic isolation (by addressing the banking and trade problems on account of U.S. sanctions) from the West, but also find strategic allies that would help it to reach a new agreement on the nuclear program.
  • In other words, using its ties with China and Russia as a leverage against the West. Additionally, it would help it strengthen its involvement in Asia. 
  • The same premise applies for Belarus, which lent its support to Russia for its actions in Ukraine. An association with the SCO bodes well for its diplomacy and regional stature.

-Source: The Hindu


PEN Pinter Prize


Context:

Recently, the British children’s writer and performance poet Michael Rosen has been awarded the prestigious PEN Pinter Prize 2023.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. The PEN Pinter Prize
  2. About Michael Rosen

The PEN Pinter Prize:

  • The PEN Pinter Prize was established in 2009 as a tribute to Harold Pinter, the Nobel Laureate playwright.
  • The recipient of the prize must be a writer who has produced a significant body of work, including plays, poetry, essays, or fiction of exceptional literary merit, written in English.
  • The prize is awarded to a writer from the UK, Ireland, or the Commonwealth who demonstrates a fearless commitment to revealing the truth about contemporary life.
  • In addition to honoring a writer from the aforementioned regions, the prize also includes recognition of an international writer of courage. This part of the prize is selected by English PEN’s Writers at Risk Committee in collaboration with the winner.
  • The international writer chosen for this half of the prize is someone who has faced persecution for speaking out about their beliefs.
  • Previous recipients of the PEN Pinter Prize include notable writers such as Malorie Blackman (2022), Tsitsi Dangarembga (2021), Hanif Kureishi (2010), Salman Rushdie (2014), and Lemn Sissay (2019).

About Michael Rosen:

  • Michael Rosen is a renowned figure known for his efforts in making poetry accessible to children through his work and performances.
  • His themes often revolve around social, political, and ethical subjects.
  • With a portfolio of over 140 books, Rosen has championed a writing style for children that reflects their everyday lives, employing humor and wordplay to validate their imaginative ways of thinking.

-Source: Indian Express


Tam Pà Ling Cave


Context:

Tam Pà Ling Cave in the Annamite Mountain range in Northern Laos has recently provided groundbreaking insights into the timeline of human arrival in Southeast Asia. Tam Pà Ling Cave features a sloping structure formed by periodic slope wash deposition.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Findings in Tam Pa Ling Cave
  2. Dating Methods Used in Tam Pà Ling Cave
  3. Denisovans

Key Findings in Tam Pa Ling Cave:

  • Human Habitation: The excavation at Tam Pà Ling Cave provided evidence suggesting that humans have inhabited the area for approximately 56,000 years. This challenges previous assumptions about the timeline of human presence in the region.
  • Sediment Accumulation: Contrary to earlier beliefs, it was found that the sediment layers at the site accumulated steadily over an estimated period of 86,000 years, rather than through rapid sedimentation events.
  • Arrival of Modern Humans: The discovery of a leg bone fragment, found at a depth of seven meters, indicates that modern humans arrived in the region between 86,000 and 68,000 years ago. This finding pushes back the timing of Homo sapiens’ arrival in Southeast Asia.
  • Denisovan Presence: An intriguing discovery in the cave was a tooth estimated to be 150,000 years old. This finding links the cave to the presence of Denisovans, an extinct human relative, adding to our understanding of the human evolutionary history in the region.

Dating Methods Used in Tam Pà Ling Cave:

  • Luminescence Dating: This method relies on light-sensitive signals in buried sediment and uses minerals like quartz and feldspar to determine the age of the sediments.
    • Quartz: Used for dating the younger levels of sediment, typically found in the top three meters.
    • Feldspar: Used for dating the lower levels of sediment, specifically in the range of four to seven meters, where quartz may be limited.
  • Uranium Series Dating: This dating method involves measuring the uranium and its decay products within a tooth or other samples to estimate their age.
  • Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) Dating: ESR dating measures the number of electrons in tooth enamel. This technique provides a numerical age for the fossil based on the accumulation of trapped electrons over time.
  • Sediment Dating: This method determines the age of the sediment layers themselves, which provides a framework for understanding the fossils found within. It relies on various techniques such as luminescence dating, uranium series dating, and micromorphology analysis. Micromorphology analysis examines sediments under a microscope to establish the integrity of the layers.

Denisovans:

  • Denisovans are a distinct lineage of humans known primarily from remains found in Siberia and Tibet.
  • They existed hundreds of thousands of years ago and coexisted with Neanderthals in certain regions.
  • Through interbreeding with early modern humans, traces of Denisovan genetic material have been passed down to present-day human populations.
  • The identification of Denisovans was made after the discovery of fragmentary finger bone and teeth, dating back approximately 40,000 years, in the Denisovan Cave located in Siberia.
  • These fossil findings have provided valuable insights into the existence and genetic contribution of Denisovans, expanding our understanding of human evolutionary history.

-Source: The Hindu


Ashadha Purnima


Context:

The International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture, will celebrate Ashadha Purnima on July 3, as the Dharma Chakra Pravartana Divas at the National Museum, New Delhi.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

About Ashadha Purnima:

  • Ashadha Purnima is celebrated every year on the full moon day of the month of Ashadha in the Indian lunar calendar.
  • It is also known as Guru Purnima and is observed as a day of reverence to gurus (teachers) by both Buddhists and Hindus.
  • The day is significant as it commemorates the first teaching of Gautam Buddha after attaining Enlightenment to his first five ascetic disciples (pancavargiya) at Deer Park, Risipatana Mrigadaya in present-day Sarnath, near Varanasi.
  • The teachings imparted on this day hold great importance in the Buddhist tradition.
  • In addition to India, Ashadha Purnima is also celebrated as Esala Poya in Sri Lanka and Asanha Bucha in Thailand.
  • Ashadha Purnima also marks the beginning of the rainy season retreat for Buddhist monks and nuns, known as Vassa or the Buddhist Lent.
  • During this three-month retreat, which lasts from July to October, monks and nuns stay in one place, typically their temples, to engage in intensive meditation and study.

-Source: Live Mint


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