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Current Affairs 20 January 2024

  1. Jallikattu
  2. Cabo Verde Achieves Malaria-Free Status
  3. Shankaracharyas
  4. National Essential Diagnostics List
  5. Senna Spectabilis
  6. Chang’e 6 Mission


Context:

Recently, Alanganallur Jallikattu was inaugurated in Madurai district of Tamil Nadu.

Relevance:

GS I: Art and Culture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Jallikattu?
  2. Why is Jallikattu important in Tamil culture?
  3. Why has Jallikattu been the subject of legal battles?
  4. So, is it legal or banned now?

What is Jallikattu?

  • The bull-taming sport is popular in Madurai, Tiruchirappalli, Theni, Pudukkottai and Dindigul districts — known as the Jallikattu belt.
  • Jallikattu is celebrated in the second week of January, during the Tamil harvest festival, Pongal.
  • A tradition over 2,000 years old, Jallikattu is a competitive sport as well as an event to honour bull owners who rear them for mating.
  • It is a violent sport in which contestants try to tame a bull for a prize; if they fail, the bull owner wins the prize.
  • In an age when the farm sector is largely mechanised, there are no major monetary benefits for bull owners in breeding Jallikattu bulls other than the prizes they get during the Jallikattu events.
    • Traditionally, these used to be a dhoti, a towel, betel leaves, bananas and a cash prize of Rs 101.
    • Over the last two decades, the prizes have included grinders, a fridge and small furniture.

Why is Jallikattu important in Tamil culture?

  • Jallikattu is considered a traditional way for the peasant community to preserve their pure-breed native bulls.
  • At a time when cattle breeding is often an artificial process, conservationists and peasants argue that Jallikattu is a way to protect these male animals which are otherwise used only for meat if not for ploughing.
  • Kangayam, Pulikulam, Umbalachery, Barugur and Malai Maadu are among the popular native cattle breeds used for Jallikattu.
  • The owners of these premium breeds command respect locally.

Why has Jallikattu been the subject of legal battles?

  • In India, legal battles surrounding animal rights issues emerged in the early 1990s.
  • A notification from the Environment Ministry in 1991 banned the training and exhibition of bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers and dogs, which was challenged by the Indian Circus Organisation in the Delhi High Court.
    • In 1998, dogs were excluded from the notification.
  • Jallikattu first came under legal scrutiny in 2007 when the Animal Welfare Board of India and the animal rights group PETA moved petitions in the Supreme Court against Jallikattu as well as bullock cart races.
  • The Tamil Nadu government, however, worked its way out of the ban by passing a law in 2009, which was signed by the Governor.
  • In 2011, the UPA regime at the Centre added bulls to the list of animals whose training and exhibition is prohibited.
  • In May 2014, days before the BJP was elected to power, the Supreme Court banned the bull-taming sport, ruling on a petition that cited the 2011 notification.

So, is it legal or banned now?

  • That is the subject of a case pending in the Supreme Court. The state government has legalised these events, which has been challenged in the court.
  • In January 2017, months after the death of Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, massive protests erupted across Tamil Nadu against the ban, with Chennai city witnessing a 15-day-long Jallikattu uprising.
  • The same year, the Tamil Nadu government released an ordinance amending the central Act and allowing Jallikattu in the state; this was later ratified by the President.
  • PETA challenged the state move, arguing it was unconstitutional.
  • In 2018, the Supreme Court referred the Jallikattu case to a Constitution Bench, where it is pending now.
  • The main question to be resolved is whether the Jallikattu tradition can be protected as a cultural right of the people of Tamil Nadu which is a fundamental right.
    • Article 29 (1) mandates that “any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same”.
  • Like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka too passed a law to save a similar sport, called Kambala. A similar attempt by Maharashtra, too, was challenged in court, before it was passed as a law.
  • Except in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, where bull-taming and racing continue to be organised, these sports remain banned in all other states including Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Maharashtra due to the 2014 ban order from the Supreme Court.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The World Health Organization (WHO) declares Cabo Verde as a malaria-free country, making it the third nation in the WHO African region, alongside Mauritius and Algeria, to achieve this status.

Relevance:

GS II- Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Malaria
  2. About Government of India Initiatives to Reduce Malaria.

About Malaria

  • The Malaria is a leading cause of human morbidity and mortality.
  • Despite huge progress in tackling the disease, there are still 212 million new cases of malaria and 430,000 malaria-related deaths worldwide each year according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
  • The Malaria is caused by the Plasmodium parasite.
  • The parasite can be spread to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes.
  • There are many different types of plasmodium parasite, but only 5 types cause malaria in humans.
  • The Children under the age of 5 and pregnant women are most susceptible to the disease.
  • The severity of malaria varies based on the species of plasmodium.
  • The Symptoms are chills, fever and sweating, usually occurring a few weeks after being bitten.

About Government of India Initiatives to Reduce Malaria.

  • The India’s progress in fighting malaria is an outcome of concerted efforts to ensure that its malaria programme is country-owned and country-led, even as it is in alignment with globally accepted strategies.
  • At the East Asia Summit in 2015, India pledged to eliminate the disease by 2030.
  • Following this public declaration, India launched the five-year National Strategic Plan for Malaria Elimination.
  • This marked a shift in focus from malaria “control” to “elimination”.
  • The plan provides a roadmap to achieve the target of ending malaria in 571 districts out of India’s 678 districts by 2022.

-Source: Indian Express, The Hindu



Context:

The four Shankaracharyas recently said that they will not attend the inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

Relevance:

GS I: History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Shankaracharyas
  2. Life and Works of Adi Sankaracharya
  3. What is Advaita Vedanta?

Shankaracharyas

Origins and Title:

  • The term “Shankaracharya” translates to “teacher of the way of Shankara.”
  • It is a religious title held by the leaders of the four Hindu maths established by Adi Shankara in the eighth century.

Purpose and Locations:

  • Adi Shankara founded these maths, serving as centers for imparting knowledge, with components like shrines, temples, libraries, and living quarters.
  • The four maths are situated in Dwarka (Gujarat), Joshimath (Uttarakhand), Puri (Odisha), and Sringeri (Karnataka).

Role and Responsibilities:

  • Shankaracharyas are not only spiritual leaders but also oversee the Dashanami Sampradaya, an order of renunciates following Adi Shankara’s teachings.

Life and Works of Adi Sankaracharya:

Birth and Background

  • Adi Sankaracharya was born in Kaladi, Kerala in 788 CE.

Philosophy and Writings

  • He propounded the Doctrine of Advaita (Monism).
  • He wrote many commentaries on the Vedic canon (Upanishads, Brahma Sutras and Bhagavad Gita) in Sanskrit.
  • His major work is Brahmasutrabhasya (Bhashya or commentary on the Brahma Sutra).

Travels and Contributions

  • He travelled the length and breadth of India spreading Advaita Vedanta.
  • He was responsible for reviving Hinduism in India to a great extent when Buddhism was gaining popularity.
  • He was a devotee of Shiva.
  • He criticised the Mimamsa School of philosophy and explained a major point of deviance between Hinduism and Buddhism.

Legacy

  • Shankaracharya established four Mathas in the four corners of India and the tradition continues to this day.
  • He preached renunciation and adoption of the knowledge path to realize Brahman.

What is Advaita Vedanta?

  • Advaita Vedanta articulates a philosophical position of radical nondualism, a revisionary worldview which it derives from the ancient Upanishadic texts.
  • According to Advaita Vedantins, the Upanishads reveal a fundamental principle of nonduality termed ‘brahman’, which is the reality of all things.
  • The basic theme of Advaita is that the one unchanging entity (Brahman) alone is real while changing entities do not have absolute existence. The world is Maya or illusion and only the Self is real. A person who realises this attains moksha (liberation of the soul).
  • The doctrine says that there is no difference between the Atman and the Brahman. The individual soul is not different from Brahman. Hence, its name Advaita meaning non-duality.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has begun the process of revising the current National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL) and invited relevant stakeholders to offer suggestions on adding or deleting diagnostic tests to the current list by the end of February.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL): Ensuring Access to Crucial Tests in Healthcare

Objective and Scope:

  • The NEDL outlines essential and fundamental diagnostic tests crucial for healthcare facilities at various levels, including village centers, sub-health centers, wellness centers, and primary health centers.

Initiative and Release:

  • Introduced by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the first NEDL was unveiled in 2019 to emphasize the importance of diagnostics in the healthcare system.

Inclusions in the List:

  • Encompassing general laboratory tests for common conditions, the list incorporates diagnostics for both communicable and non-communicable diseases.
  • Disease-specific tests for ailments such as HIV, hepatitis, tuberculosis, dengue, malaria, and region-specific endemic diseases are part of the NEDL.

Global Significance:

  • India holds the distinction of being the first country to introduce the National Essential Diagnostics List.

Definition of Essential Diagnostic Tests:

  • These tests address priority healthcare needs, considering disease prevalence, public health relevance, efficacy, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness.
  • Focus on conditions with a substantial disease burden, ensuring the introduction of diagnostic tests significantly impacts disease diagnosis and management.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The Forest Department of Tamil Nadu has cleared 356.50 hectares of invasive growth of Senna spectabilis that posed a threat to biodiversity conservation in Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR).

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Senna Spectabilis
  2. Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve

About Senna Spectabilis:

  • Senna spectabilis is a plant species of the legume family (Fabaceae) native to South and Central America.
  • The plant has become an invasive alien species in parts of Africa, India and other countries.
  • The thick foliage of the tree arrests the growth of other indigenous tree and grass species.Hence,it causes food shortage for the wildlife population especially herbivores.
  • It also adversely affects the germination and growth of the native species.
  • It is categorised as ‘Least Concern’ under IUCN Red List.

Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve

Geographical Location:

  • Positioned at the confluence of the Eastern and Western Ghats, it resides within the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, situated in the Erode District of Tamil Nadu.

Contiguity and Connectivity:

  • Adjacent to the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, it shares borders with the Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Karnataka, as well as the BR Tiger Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary, fostering a connected ecosystem.

Diverse Vegetation:

  • Encompassing southern tropical dry thorn forests, mixed deciduous forests, semi-evergreen forests, and Riparian forests, the reserve boasts rich and varied vegetation.

Rivers Flowing Through:

  • The Bhavani, Moyar, and Noyyal rivers traverse the region, adding to its ecological significance.

Indigenous Tribal Presence:

  • Home to indigenous tribal communities, notably the Irula and Kurumba tribes, the reserve reflects cultural diversity alongside its ecological wealth.

Floral Composition:

  • A variety of trees and shrubs populate the reserve, including Albizia amara, Chloroxylon swietenia, Gyrocarpus jacquini, Neem, Tamarind, Sandalwood, Randia dumetorum, and Zizyphus.

Rich Fauna:

  • The reserve is inhabited by diverse wildlife, featuring prominent species such as Elephants, Tigers, Panthers, Sloth Bears, Gaurs, Black Bucks, Spotted Deer, and Bonnet Macaques.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) recently announced that the Chang’e 6 sample return mission is on track to land on the surface of the Moon in the first half of 2024.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Chang’e 6 Mission: Unveiling Lunar Secrets from the South Pole

Objective and Design:

  • A planned lunar lander mission, Chang’e 6 is meticulously crafted to retrieve samples from the lunar south pole, contributing pivotal data for understanding the Moon’s geological intricacies.

Sampling Strategy:

  • Aiming to secure samples from the Moon’s far side, the mission is set to collect up to two kilograms of lunar surface material, paralleling the configuration of the successful Chang’e 5 mission.

Geological Exploration:

  • Chang’e 6 embarks on the unprecedented task of exploring the far side of the Moon, unraveling geological mysteries through the analysis of collected samples.

International Collaboration:

  • Showcasing global cooperation, the mission incorporates payloads from the European Space Agency (ESA) and the French space agency CNES, including instruments for ion testing, radon gas measurement, radar calibration, and the contribution of a CubeSat from Pakistan.

Dual Components – Lander and Rover:

  • Chang’e 6 comprises a lander and a rover, with the lander executing a precise touchdown on the lunar surface. Simultaneously, the rover engages in exploration, conducts experiments, and facilitates the meticulous collection of lunar samples.

-Source: The Hindu


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