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Current Affairs 24 June 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Lab-grown Diamonds (LGDs) and Upanishads
  2. Liaquat-Nehru pact
  3. Global Liveability Index 2023
  4. Ancient Maya City
  5. Nano Urea
  6. Summer Solstice

Lab-Grown Diamonds (LGDs) and Upanishads


Context:

During the PM of India’s inaugural state visit to the US, he gifted the US President, Biden, and his wife with several presents. These gifts included a 7.5 carat lab-grown diamond and a first edition print of the book The Ten Principal Upanishads, published in 1937.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are lab grown diamonds?
  2. How are LDGs produced?
  3. What are Lab-Grown Diamonds (LDGs) used for?
  4. Upanishads

What are lab grown diamonds?

  • Lab grown diamonds are diamonds that are produced using specific technology which mimics the geological processes that grow natural diamonds.
  • They are not the same as “diamond simulants” – LDGs are chemically, physically and optically diamond and thus are difficult to identify as “lab grown.”
  • While materials such as Moissanite, Cubic Zirconia (CZ), White Sapphire, YAG, etc. are “diamond simulants” that simply attempt to “look” like a diamond, they lack the sparkle and durability of a diamond and are thus easily identifiable.
  • However, differentiating between an LDG and an Earth Mined Diamond is hard, with advanced equipment required for the purpose.

How are LDGs produced?

  • The most common (and cheapest) is the “High pressure, high temperature” (HPHT) method.
  • As the name suggests, this method requires extremely heavy presses that can produce up to 730,000 psi of pressure under extremely high temperatures (at least 1500 celsius).
  • Usually graphite is used as the “diamond seed” and when subjected to these extreme conditions, the relatively inexpensive form of carbon turns into one of the most expensive carbon forms.
  • Other processes include “Chemical Vapor Deposition” (CVD) and explosive formation that creates what are known as “detonation nanodiamonds”.

What are Lab-Grown Diamonds (LDGs) used for?

  • LDGs have properties similar to natural diamonds, including their optical dispersion which gives them the diamond sheen.
  • They are often used for industrial purposes in machines and tools due to their hardness and extra strength.
  • LDGs have high thermal conductivity but negligible electrical conductivity which makes them valuable for electronics.
  • With the depletion of natural diamonds, LDGs are becoming a replacement for the precious gemstone in the jewelry industry.
  • The growth in production of LDGs does not affect India’s established diamond industry that involves polishing and cutting of diamonds.

Upanishads:

  • Categories of Hindu Sacred Texts: Hindu sacred texts are divided into two main categories: shruti (the revealed) and smriti (the remembered).
  • Authority of Shruti: Shruti texts are considered the most authoritative and include the 4 Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama, and Atharva) along with accompanying texts such as Brahmanas, Aranyakas, and Upanishads.
  • Less Authoritative Texts: The second category, smriti, is derived from shruti but is considered less authoritative. Examples include the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, Dharmashastras, and Puranas.
  • The Upanishads/Vedanta: The Upanishads, dating from 800-500 BC, mark the end of the Vedic period and are philosophical texts that delve into concepts such as transmigration, which are central to Hindu tradition today.
  • Atman and Brahman: The Upanishads explore the relationship between the atman (the individual’s distinct, unchanging self) and the brahman (the ultimate reality in the universe).
  • Conduct and Birth: According to the Chandogya Upanishad, those who exhibit good conduct in life will attain a good birth, such as that of a brahman, kshatriya, or vaishya.
  • Significance in Hindu Theology: The Upanishads gained particular importance in Hindu theology through the interpretations of 8th-century scholar Adi Shankara, who synthesized the Advaita Vedanta tradition.
  • Principal Upanishads: There are ten main or principal Upanishads, including Esha, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Chandogya, and Brihadaranyaka.

-Source: Indian express


Liaquat-Nehru Pact


Context:

Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the founder of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh (predecessor of the BJP), passed away on June 23, 1953, reportedly due to a heart attack. However, prior to his demise, he had resigned in April 1950 in protest against the controversial Nehru-Liaquat Pact.

Relevance:

GS I: History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Nehru-Liaquat Pact
  2. Criticisms of Nehru-Liaquat Pact
  3. SP Mukherjee’s Issues with the Nehru-Liaquat Pact

Nehru-Liaquat Pact

Background:

  • The Nehru-Liaquat Pact, also known as the Delhi Pact, was signed between India and Pakistan.
  • It aimed to address the treatment of minorities in the two countries following the partition of British India in 1947.

Signing and Purpose:

  • Signed on April 8, 1950, by Jawaharlal Nehru and Liaquat Ali Khan, the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, respectively.
  • The pact was a response to communal tensions and violence that arose after Partition.
Key Provisions:
  • Security: Both countries agreed to protect the life, property, and honor of their respective minority communities.
  • Equality: Emphasized equal rights and opportunities for all citizens, irrespective of religion or ethnicity.
  • Non-Discrimination: Pledged to eliminate discrimination based on religion, race, caste, or creed, ensuring security for minority communities.
  • Repatriation of Minorities: Allowed for the return of migrants who had moved from one country to the other after Partition and wished to go back to their former homes.
  • Cultural and Educational Rights: Recognized the significance of preserving the cultural and educational rights of minorities, including protection of language, script, and religious institutions.

Objective:

  • The pact aimed to promote harmony, protect minority rights, and alleviate tensions between the two countries in the aftermath of Partition.

Criticisms of Nehru-Liaquat Pact

Insufficient Implementation:

  • Despite the agreement, incidents of communal violence and discrimination persisted in both India and Pakistan.
  • Critics argue that the provisions of the pact were not effectively enforced by the governments.

Limited Scope:

  • The Nehru-Liaquat Pact primarily focused on the rights and protection of religious minorities.
  • Critics contend that it neglected the rights of linguistic and ethnic minorities who also faced discrimination and marginalization.

Lack of Community Consultation:

  • Some analysts criticize the pact for being negotiated and signed by leaders without extensive consultation with the affected minority communities.
  • This limited the inclusivity and representation of the voices and concerns of the minorities in the agreement.

Inadequate Monitoring and Enforcement:

  • Without robust mechanisms to monitor and enforce the provisions, the pact remained symbolic and failed to bring substantial change on the ground.

Political Motivations:

  • Many political analysts argue that both Nehru and Liaquat used the pact as a means to enhance their international image and project an image of tolerance and harmony.
  • Critics suggest that the real impact on minority rights was limited.

Unchanged Ground Realities:

  • Despite the pact, the conditions for minorities continued to be challenging, and their rights and security remained largely unchanged.

SP Mukherjee’s Issues with the Nehru-Liaquat Pact:

Advocacy for Divided Bengal:

  • Initially, Mookerjee supported the idea of a united India.
  • However, as Partition became inevitable, he shifted his focus towards advocating for a divided Bengal, with West Bengal specifically for Hindu Bengalis.

Anger over the Delhi Pact:

  • When the Nehru-Liaquat Pact was signed, which promised minority rights and the establishment of minority commissions in both India and Pakistan, Mookerjee became extremely angry.
  • He viewed the Pact as a betrayal of the logical outcome of Partition, which was a Hindu India and a Muslim Pakistan.

Concern for Hindu Refugees:

  • Witnessing the large influx of Hindu refugees from East Pakistan, Mookerjee felt that the Pact would leave Hindus in East Bengal at the mercy of the Pakistani state.
  • He believed that the Pact did not adequately address the rights and security of the Hindu minority in East Bengal.

Advocacy for Population and Property Exchange:

  • Instead of the Pact, Mookerjee argued for a systematic exchange of population and property between East Bengal and the states of Tripura, Assam, West Bengal, and Bihar.
  • He proposed granting the Hindu minority in East Bengal an opportunity to settle in India while encouraging the Muslim minorities in India to relocate to East Bengal.

-Source: Indian express


Global Liveability Index 2023


Context:

Recently, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) unveiled its highly anticipated Global Liveability Index 2023.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Global Liveability Index 2023:
  2. Key Highlights

Global Liveability Index 2023:

  • The index evaluates lifestyle challenges in 173 cities worldwide.
  • It considers five metrics: healthcare, culture, environment, education, and stability.
  • The ranking highlights cities that offer a high quality of life.

Key Highlights:

  • Top liveable cities: Vienna (Austria), Copenhagen (Denmark), Melbourne and Sydney (Australia).
  • Bottom three liveable cities: Algiers (Algeria), Tripoli (Libya), and Damascus (Syria).
  • Osaka (Japan) ranked 10th among Asian cities.
  • The index reached a 15-year high, reflecting global recovery from the pandemic.
  • Average index score increased to 76.2 out of 100 from 73.2 last year.
  • Stability metric slightly declined.
  • Western European cities dropped in rankings due to workers’ strikes and the progress of cities in Asia and the Middle East.
  • Cities affected by civil unrest and military conflicts remained at the bottom of the list.

-Source: Indian express


Ancient Maya City


Context:

Archaeologists in Mexico have made a significant discovery in the dense jungle of the Yucatan Peninsula, uncovering the remains of an ancient Maya city.

Relevance:

GS I: History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Major Findings Related to the Ancient Maya City
  2. Maya Civilization

Major Findings Related to the Ancient Maya City:

Expedition and Discovery:

  • The National Institute for Anthropology and History (INAH) led the expedition to Ocomtún.
  • Airborne laser scanning was used to identify pre-Hispanic structures in the region.
  • Ocomtún, meaning “stone column” in Yucatec Maya language, was a prominent city in the central lowland region of the Yucatan Peninsula between 250 and 1000 AD.

Unique Settlement Pattern:

  • The discovery revealed an elevated terrain surrounded by wetlands, indicating a distinctive and strategic settlement pattern.

Inhabitation and Rituals:

  • Pottery fragments suggest that Ocomtún was inhabited during the Late Classic period (600-900 AD).
  • The site was located near the La Riguena river, possibly used for community rituals.
  • Central altars indicate the presence of community rituals, emphasizing the spiritual and communal aspects of Maya life.

Maya Ballgame:

  • The Maya ballgame was played in the region, representing a significant religious practice.
  • The game involved passing a rubber ball, symbolizing the sun, through a stone hoop without using hands.

Period of Change:

  • Ocomtún likely experienced significant changes between 800 and 1000 AD.
  • This period coincided with the decline and collapse of the Lowland Maya civilization, characterized by population decline, urban center deterioration, and political instability.
  • The fall of Ocomtún and other Maya cities reflected a larger regional collapse, marking a transformative phase in Maya history.

Maya Civilization:

  • The Maya are indigenous people who inhabited Mexico and Central America, with their origins in the Yucatán region.
  • They emerged as a prominent civilization around 250 CE in southern Mexico, Guatemala, northern Belize, and western Honduras.
  • The height of Maya culture, known as the Classic Period, lasted until about 900 CE.
  • The Maya civilization was highly advanced and influential in various fields.
  • They developed sophisticated systems of writing, astronomy, mathematics, art, architecture, and religion.
  • Maya cities featured impressive structures such as pyramids, palaces, temples, and plazas.
  • Despite their remarkable achievements, much about their history and culture remains enigmatic and still a subject of ongoing research and exploration.

-Source: Indian express


Nano Urea


Context:

Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd (IFFCO) recently said it had signed an agreement with California-based Kapoor Enterprises Inc to export liquid nano urea to the US.

Relevance:

GS III: Agriculture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Nano Urea
  2. Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO):

Nano Urea

  • Nano Urea is an innovative agricultural input based on nanotechnology that supplies nitrogen to plants.
  • It is developed and patented by the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO).
  • It is the only nano fertilizer approved by the Government of India and included in the Fertilizer Control Order (FCO).
  • Nano Urea has a desirable particle size of about 20-50 nm, providing more surface area and a greater number of nitrogen particles compared to conventional urea prill.
  • It contains 4.0% total nitrogen (w/v).
Benefits:
  • The production process of Nano Urea is energy-efficient and environmentally friendly, resulting in lower carbon footprints.
  • It offers increased availability to crops by over 80%, leading to improved nutrient use efficiency.
  • Nano Urea is expected to enhance crop productivity, soil health, and the nutritional quality of produce while addressing the issues related to the excessive use of conventional fertilizers.

Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO):

  • IFFCO is the largest multi-state cooperative society in India, fully owned by Indian cooperatives.
  • It is primarily involved in the production and distribution of fertilizers.
  • Headquarters: New Delhi, India.

-Source: Live Mint


Summer Solstice


Context:

The longest day of the year, for anyone living north of the Equator, is June 21. The day is referred to as the summer solstice, and it occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer, or more specifically right over 23.5 degrees north latitude.

Relevance:

GS I- Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Summer Solstice
  2. Why do we have summer solstice?

About Summer Solstice

  • In Latin, solstice means “the sun stands motionless”
  • For those residing north of the Equator, June 21 will be the longest day of the year in 2021.
  • This day is distinguished by a higher amount of solar energy received.
  • This day is known as the summer solstice in technical terms, as it is the longest day of the summer season. It happens when the sun is directly above the Tropic of Cancer, or more precisely, when the sun is directly overhead 23.5 degrees north latitude.
  • The Southern Hemisphere receives most sunlight on December 21, 22 or 23 when the northern hemisphere has its longest nights– or the winter solstice.

Why do we have summer solstice?

  • Since Earth rotates on its axis, the Northern Hemisphere gets more direct sunlight between March and September over the course of a day.
  • This also means people living in the Northern Hemisphere experience summer during this time.
  • The rest of the year, the Southern Hemisphere gets more sunlight.
  • During the solstice, the Earth’s axis — around which the planet spins, completing one turn each day — is tilted in a way that the North Pole is tipped towards the sun and the South Pole is away from it.

Source: Indian Express


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