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Current Affairs 14 June 2023


  1. United States to rejoin UNESCO
  2. National Commission for Scheduled Castes
  3. Cooperative Banks
  4. Palkhi festival
  5. New Development Bank (NDB)
  6. Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project
  7. Chikungunya

United States to Rejoin UNESCO


UN cultural and scientific agency UNESCO announced that the United States plans to rejoin — and pay more than $600 million in back dues.


GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Why did the US Decide to Rejoin UNESCO?
  2. Background on US Departure from UNESCO
  3. About UNESCO

Why did the US Decide to Rejoin UNESCO?

  • The decision to rejoin UNESCO was driven by concerns over China’s increasing influence in the organization’s policymaking, particularly regarding standards for artificial intelligence and technology education globally.

Background on US Departure from UNESCO:

  • Previous Withdrawal: In 1984, during the Cold War era, the United States had previously withdrawn from UNESCO.
  • Funding Halt: The US and Israel stopped funding UNESCO in 2011 after it admitted Palestine as a member state.
  • Complete Withdrawal: In 2017, the Trump administration decided to withdraw from UNESCO altogether, effective the following year.
Reasons for US Departure:
  • Anti-Israel Bias: One of the main reasons for the US withdrawal was the perceived anti-Israel bias within UNESCO, particularly its handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and recognition of Palestine as a member state.
  • Financial Concerns: The United States had been a significant contributor to UNESCO’s budget, and concerns about fiscal management and accountability influenced the decision to withdraw.
  • Reassessing Engagement: The withdrawal also reflected a broader scepticism towards multilateral institutions and a desire to reevaluate and prioritize US engagement and funding in international organizations.


  • UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to promoting international cooperation in Education, the Sciences, and Culture.
  • It is a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group, working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • UNESCO is headquartered in Paris and operates through numerous field offices worldwide.
  • With 193 Members and 11 Associate Members, it is governed by the General Conference and the Executive Board.
  • Notably, three UNESCO member states (Cook Islands, Niue, and Palestine) are not members of the United Nations, and three UN member states (Israel, Liechtenstein, United States) are not UNESCO members.
Objectives of UNESCO:
  • Promoting quality education and lifelong learning for all.
  • Harnessing scientific knowledge and policies for sustainable development.
  • Addressing social and ethical challenges arising from global issues.
  • Fostering cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue, and a culture of peace.
  • Building inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication technologies. • UNESCO places a special focus on “Africa” and “Gender Equality” as global priority areas.
History of UNESCO’s Establishment:
  • During World War II, the Conference of Allied Ministers of Education proposed the creation of an educational and cultural organization.
  • In November 1945, the United Nations Conference for the establishment of UNESCO was held in London, and on November 16, 1945, UNESCO was founded.
  • The first session of the General Conference took place in Paris from November to December 1946.
Key reports published by UNESCO
  • Global Education Monitoring Report
  • The United Nations World Water Development Report
  • World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development
  • Global Ocean Science Report

Source: Indian Express

National Commission for Scheduled Castes


The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has now issued a notice to Zomato founder over an “inhuman” and casteist advertisement that featured a Dalit character from the film Lagaan being used as a table, lamp, watering can, etc. 


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. National Commission for Scheduled Castes
  2. Functions

National Commission for Scheduled Castes

  • The National Commission for Scheduled Castes is an Indian constitutional body established with a view to provide safeguards against the exploitation of Scheduled Castes and Anglo Indian communities to promote and protect their social, educational, economic and cultural interests, special provisions were made in the Constitution. 
  • Article 338 of the Indian constitution deals with National Commission for Scheduled Castes.
  • It consists of:
    • Chairperson.
    • Vice-chairperson.
    • Three other members.
  • They are appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal.


  • The commission’s responsibilities include monitoring and investigating issues related to safeguards for Scheduled Castes (SCs) under the constitution
  • Enquiring into complaints regarding the deprivation of rights and safeguards for SCs
  • Advising and participating in the planning of socio-economic development for SCs
  • Regularly reporting to the President on the implementation of these safeguards
  • Recommending steps to further the socio-economic development and other welfare activities of the SCs
  • Any other function related to the welfare, protection, development, and advancement of the SC community
  • The commission is also responsible for similar functions for the Anglo-Indian community
  • Previously, the commission also had similar responsibilities for other backward classes (OBCs) but was relieved of this responsibility in 2018 through the 102nd Amendment Act.

Source: The Hindu

Cooperative Banks


To strengthen 1,514 urban co-operative banks, the Reserve Bank India has notified four key measures, including giving them two years more to meet the priority sector lending targets.


GS-III: Indian Economy (Banking)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Measures taken by RBI
  2. What are Cooperative Banks?
  3. Overview of Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs)
  4. Structure of co-operative banks in India
  5. Importance of Cooperative Banks
  6. Concerns Associated with Urban Co-operative Bank

Key Measures taken by RBI:

Opening new branches for Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs):

  • UCBs are allowed to open new branches without prior approval from RBI.
  • UCBs can open up to 10% (maximum 5 branches) of the number of branches in the previous financial year.

One-Time Settlement for UCBs:

  • UCBs are permitted to do One-Time Settlement at par with commercial banks.
  • This measure provides flexibility for UCBs to settle their outstanding loans.

Extension of Priority Sector Lending (PSL) targets:

  • The timeline for UCBs to achieve Priority Sector Lending (PSL) targets has been extended by two years.
  • The new deadline for meeting PSL targets is March 31, 2026.

Refund of excess deposits:

  • Excess deposits, if any, after clearing the shortfall of PSL during the financial year 2022-23, will be refunded to the UCBs.
  • This measure ensures that UCBs are not penalized for exceeding their PSL targets.

Other initiatives:

  • RBI has appointed a nodal officer to facilitate closer coordination and focused interaction between RBI and the cooperative sector.
  • These measures aim to strengthen UCBs, particularly those operating in urban areas, and help them overcome challenges in meeting PSL targets.
Possible Effects:
  • The initiatives taken by RBI will provide relief and support to UCBs, allowing them to expand their operations and improve their financial position.
  • These measures address the hardships faced by UCBs in meeting PSL targets and contribute to the overall strengthening of the cooperative sector.
  • The Ministry of Cooperation is committed to empowering and treating cooperatives at par with other economic entities, recognizing their significance in the country’s economy.

What are Cooperative Banks?

  • Co-operative banks are financial entities established on a co-operative basis and belonging to their members. This means that the customers of a co-operative bank are also its owners.
  • Cooperative Banks continue to be important and the ideal organisations even in the changing economic environment, as participation and inclusion are central to poverty reduction.
Important Details with respect to  Cooperative Banks
  • Co-operative banks in India are registered under the State’s Cooperative Societies Act.
  • The Co-operative banks are also regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and governed by the Banking Regulations Act 1949 and Banking Laws (Co-operative Societies) Act, 1955.
  • The Registrar of Cooperative Societies (RCS) is in control of management elections and many administrative issues as well as auditing, and the RBI brought them under the Banking Regulation Act as applicable to cooperative societies.
  • Urban cooperative banks have been under the radar of the RBI, but because of dual regulation either of them did not have as much control over these banks in terms of supersession of boards or removal of directors.

Structure of co-operative banks in India

  • Broadly, co-operative banks in India are divided into two categories – urban and rural.
  • Rural cooperative credit institutions could either be short-term or long-term in nature.
  • Short-term cooperative credit institutions are further sub-divided into State Co-operative Banks, District Central Co-operative Banks, Primary Agricultural Credit Societies.
  • Long-term institutions are either State Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development Banks (SCARDBs) or Primary Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development Banks (PCARDBs).

Overview of Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs):

  • UCBs are primary cooperative banks situated in urban and semi-urban areas, although there is no formal definition for them.
  • UCBs, along with PACS, RRBs, and LABs, can be categorized as differentiated banks operating in localized areas.
  • Prior to 1996, UCBs were limited to lending for non-agricultural purposes, but this restriction is no longer applicable.
  • Traditionally, UCBs had a community-centric focus, providing loans primarily to small borrowers and local businesses. However, their operational scope has now expanded significantly.

Importance of Cooperative Banks

The cooperative banking system has to play a critical role in promoting rural finance and is especially suited to Indian conditions.

Various advantages of cooperative credit institutions are given below:

  1. Alternative Credit Source:  The main objective of the cooperative credit movement is to provide an effective alternative to the traditional defective credit system of the village moneylender.
  2. Cheap Rural Credit: Cooperative credit system has cheapened the rural credit by charging comparatively low-interest rates, and has broken the money lender’s monopoly.
  3. Productive Borrowing:  The cultivators used to borrow for consumption and other unproductive purposes. But, now, they mostly borrow for productive purposes.
  4. Encouragement to Saving and Investment: Instead of hoarding money the rural people tend to deposit their savings in cooperative or other banking institutions.
  5. Improvement in Farming Methods: Cooperative credit is available for purchasing improved seeds, chemical fertilizers, modern implements, etc.
  6. Financial Inclusion: They have played a significant role in the financial inclusion of unbanked rural masses. They provide cheap credit to the masses in rural areas.

Concerns Associated with Urban Co-operative Bank

  • The uncovering of large-scale financial irregularities has taken urban cooperative banks off guard.
  • Low capital basis, weak corporate governance, inability to detect fraud, delayed adoption of new technologies, and insufficient system of checks and balances are difficulties confronting urban cooperative banks (UCBs).
  • The latest Banking Regulation (Amendment) Act 2020 empowers the RBI with all powers, including those formerly reserved for the registrar of cooperative organizations.
  • The RBI’s control was limited, and it shared it with the registrar of cooperative societies of states, resulting in the much-discussed dual control and the issues it posed to the central bank.
  • The cooperative sector has two challenges:
    • first, increased competition from not just Scheduled Commercial Banks, but also from minor financing banks and payments banks;
    • second, vulnerability caused by internal shortcomings, such as the inability to detect and prevent fraud.

-Source: The Hindu

Palkhi festival


Delegates from several countries, who are in the city for the G20 Digital Economy Working Group Conference, got a glimpse of the 800-year-old Warkari community’s palkhi festival.


GS I: History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Palkhi Festival
  2. Palkhi Procession
  3. Historical Significance

Palkhi Festival:

  • Palkhi is an ancient tradition that originated in Maharashtra, India, started by saints and continued by their followers known as varkaris, who follow the vari ritual.
    • Varkaris are followers of the Hindu religious sect that worships Vithoba, an incarnation of Krishna.
    • They actively participate in the Palkhi festival and embark on the pilgrimage to Pandharpur as an expression of their devotion to Vithoba.
  • It is an annual pilgrimage, known as yatra, to Pandharpur, the sacred abode of the Hindu deity Vithoba in Maharashtra, dedicated to honoring the deity.

Palkhi Procession:

  • The varkaris undertake a journey on foot, accompanying palkhis (chariots) carrying the paduka (sandals) of revered saints, particularly Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram.
  • Dnyaneshwar’s palakhi departs from Alandi, while Tukaram’s palakhi begins its journey from Dehu, both located in the Pune district of Maharashtra.
  • The Palkhi procession commences in the month of Jyeshth (June) and lasts for 22 days.
  • Every year, on the eleventh day of the first half of the month of Ashadh, the Palkhi reaches Pandharpur.
  • Upon reaching Pandharpur on Ashadi Ekadashi, the devotees take a sacred dip in the Chandrabhaga River/Bhima River before proceeding to visit the Vitthal temple.

Historical Significance:

  • The tradition of the Palkhi has been followed by various saints, including Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram.
  • In 1685, Narayan Baba, the youngest son of Tukaram, introduced the Palkhi as a symbol of social respect, bringing innovation to the existing dindi-wari tradition.
  • He placed Tukaram’s silver padukas in the Palkhi and proceeded with his dindi to Alandi, where he added Dnyaneshwar’s padukas to the same Palkhi.
  • For several years, this tradition of twin Palkhis continued, but disputes within Tukaram’s family arose in 1830 regarding rights and privileges.
  • Consequently, a decision was made to separate the Palkhis, resulting in two distinct Palkhis: Tukaram Palkhi from Dehu (Pune) and Dnyaneshwar Palkhi from Alandi (Pune).
  • Since then, both Palkhis meet in Pune for a brief halt and then diverge at Hadapsar, only to reunite again at Wakhri, a village near Pandharpur.

Source: Indian Express

New Development Bank (NDB)


Honduras President recently requested the country’s admission to the BRICS-led New Development Bank (NDB).


GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About New development bank
  2. Governance Structure of NDB
  3. Objectives

About New development bank:

  • It is a multilateral development bank jointly founded by the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) at the 6th BRICS Summit in Fortaleza, Brazil in 2014.
  • It was formed to support infrastructure and sustainable development efforts in BRICS and other underserved, emerging economies for faster development through innovation and cutting-edge technology.
  • It is headquartered at Shanghai, China.
  • In 2018, the NDB received observer status in the United Nations General Assembly, establishing a firm basis for active and fruitful cooperation with the UN.

Governance Structure of NDB:

Board of Governors:

  • The Bank is governed by a Board of Governors comprising the finance ministers of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa).

Voting Power:

  • The voting power within the Board is determined based on the shares held by each country in the bank.

Share Retention:

  • While new members have the opportunity to join NDB, the five BRICS countries will collectively maintain a minimum of 55% of the total shares.


  • The NDB’s management includes a presidency that rotates among the BRICS members, ensuring equal representation, and four vice presidents who are selected from the remaining BRICS countries.


  • Fostering development of member countries.
  • Supporting economic growth.
  • Promoting competitiveness and facilitating job creation.
  • Building a knowledge sharing platform among developing countries.

Source: The Print

Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project


State-run hydropower company NHPC Ltd. Will soon start trial runs for the Subansiri Lower project.


GS III: Infrastructure

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project:
  2. What is a Gravity dam?
  3. About Subansiri River

About Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project:

  • The Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project is currently the largest hydroelectric project in India.
  • It is a run-of-river scheme located on the Subansiri River, near North Lakhimpur on the border of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.
  • The project has a capacity of 2000MW and features a concrete gravity dam that stands 116 meters high from the river bed level.
  • The project is being developed by the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC), a state-run entity.

What is a Gravity dam?

  • A gravity dam is a type of massive structure commonly constructed using concrete or stone masonry.
  • These dams are typically built in a straight line across a broad valley and rely on their own weight to resist the horizontal thrust of the retained water.
  • Gravity dams are known for their durability and require minimal maintenance.

About Subansiri River

  • Origin: The Subansiri River originates in the Tibetan plateau in China. It flows through the state of Arunachal Pradesh in India and eventually joins the Brahmaputra River.
  • Length: The Subansiri River is approximately 442 kilometers long, making it one of the major rivers in the region.
  • Tributary of Brahmaputra: The Subansiri River is the largest tributary of the Brahmaputra River, one of the longest rivers in Asia.
  • Hydroelectric Potential: The Subansiri River has significant hydroelectric potential due to its high volume of water and varying topography. The Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project is a major undertaking to harness the river’s hydropower.
  • Biodiversity: The Subansiri River and its surrounding areas are known for their rich biodiversity. The river supports a diverse ecosystem, including various species of fish and other aquatic life.
  • Importance for local communities: The Subansiri River plays a crucial role in the livelihoods of the communities living along its banks. It supports agriculture, fishing, and other activities that sustain local populations.
  • Cultural Significance: The Subansiri River holds cultural and religious significance for the local communities. It is often associated with traditional rituals, festivals, and folklore that are deeply rooted in the region’s heritage.
  • Environmental Concerns: The construction of large-scale hydroelectric projects on the Subansiri River has raised concerns about potential environmental impacts, including the displacement of communities and the alteration of the river’s natural flow.
  • Scenic Beauty: The Subansiri River flows through picturesque landscapes, including dense forests, mountainous regions, and scenic valleys. Its beauty attracts tourists and nature lovers to explore its pristine surroundings.
  • These facts highlight the importance, ecological value, and cultural significance of the Subansiri River in the region.

Source: The Hindu



According to a recently published research paper, a human clinical trial of a vaccine candidate to prevent chikungunya has returned a 99% immune response.


GS II: Health

About Chikungunya:

  • Transmission: Chikungunya is a viral disease that is primarily transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes, specifically the Aedes (Stegomyia) aegypti and Aedes (Stegomyia) albopictus species. These mosquitoes can also transmit other viruses like dengue and Zika.
  • Origin of the Name: The term “chikungunya” originates from the Makonde language spoken in East Africa, and it translates to “bent over in pain,” describing the characteristic joint pain associated with the disease.
  • Global Spread: The first outbreak of chikungunya was documented in southern Tanzania in 1952. Since then, the disease has been identified in nearly 40 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas.
  • Incubation Period: After being bitten by an infected mosquito, symptoms of chikungunya typically appear within 4 to 8 days. However, the incubation period can range from 2 to 12 days.
  • Common Symptoms: The most common symptom of chikungunya is the sudden onset of fever, often accompanied by severe joint pain. Other common symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue, and rash.
  • Complications: While serious complications are rare, severe cases of chikungunya can occur, leading to long-term joint pain and even death, especially in older individuals.
  • Treatment: Currently, there is no approved vaccine or specific antiviral treatment for chikungunya. The primary focus of treatment is on relieving symptoms through rest, adequate hydration, and the use of pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs.

Source: The Print

December 2023