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Current Affairs 06 December 2021 for UPSC Exam | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Culture mapping of 80 villages kicks off
  2. Sri Lanka’s Malaiyaha Tamils in inhumane conditions
  3. Centennial Year of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)
  4. States told to adopt Delhi police model
  5. Disallowing Questions by Members of Parliament
  6. Indonesia’s Mount Semeru volcano erupts

Culture mapping of 80 villages kicks off

Context:

Culture mapping of 80 villages associated with noted personalities in history, in particular the freedom movement, unique crafts and festivals had been started as a pilot project, which is expected to be completed in the 2021 financial year.

Relevance:

GS-I: Art and Culture, GS-II: Governance (Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors, Issues arising out of their design and implementation)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Signs of Neglect of culture
  2. About the project for cultural mapping of 80 cities
  3. National Mission on Cultural Mapping of India
  4. What needs to done to change course and support culture?

Signs of Neglect of culture

  • An online resource for arts and culture, Sahapedia, recently ran the budget numbers for the Ministry of Culture (MoC) and it shows that budget allocations for culture have declined in the last five years (2016-2021) now standing at a mere 0.07% of the Budget.
  • To put into perspective: the annual budget of the MoC — which runs three Akademis, 70-odd museums, three national galleries, several national libraries and archives, cultural institutions of the size of the National School of Drama and Kalakshetra, zonal cultural centres, and more — equals 1.5 Rafales (budget for the MoC is just over Rs. 2,500 Crores while one Rafale jet costs around Rs. 1,600 crores).
  • When the pandemic struck in 2020 – instead of helping beleaguered artists and artisans, the government slashed culture funding by a further 21%. To put this into perspective: countries like China, Singapore, Australia and the U.K. increased allocations to culture, besides announcing billion-dollar relief packages.
  • Additionally, the Indian government’s cultural institutions are plagued by vacancies (ranging from 30% to 70%) and lack of trained manpower. This means fund usage has invariably been random and ill-planned.

About the project for cultural mapping of 80 cities

  • The project would lead to a “national register and interactive database of artists and art practices from the villages of India”.
  • Each artist would be given a unique ID and an e-commerce platform set up.
  • The work under the mission involves coordinating the data collection through ground and field surveys conducted on the basis of detailed formats and questionnaires, mobile application, interactive web-portal and an over-the-top (OTT) platform to showcase ethnographic documentaries/ cultural events/ festival/ melas etc. of villages.
  • From Sempore in Kashmir to Kanjirapally in Kerala, villages with a connection to the freedom movement as well as those with their own art practices have been selected for the project, being conducted by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA).

About the list of cities included in the project for cultural mapping

  • Sempore or Pandrenthan in Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir that is associated with 14th Century mystic Lal Ded or Lalleshwari.
  • Choglamsar and Wanla villages from Ladakh, known for wood carving
  • Khatkar Kalan village in Punjab, which has a memorial of Bhagat Singh
  • Reni village of Uttarakhand, where the Chipko movement started
  • Kathputli Colony in Delhi, known for the “migrant kathputli artists”
  • Two villages in Tamil Nadu — Ettayapuram (the birthplace of poet Subramania Bharathi) and Thiruchigadi (a village of “women potters”).

National Mission on Cultural Mapping of India

  • The National Mission on Cultural Mapping, envisioned in 2015, but set up by the Ministry of Culture in 2017 – aims at converting the vast and widespread cultural canvas of India into an objective cultural map, designing a mechanism to fulfil the aspirations of the whole artist community of the nation and preserving the rich cultural heritage of this country in the form of a cultural repository of artists and art forms.
  • Specially designed data capture form with technical collaboration of National E-Governance Division (NEGD)/Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) has been formulated for data collection.
  • National Mission on Cultural Mapping is a part of the ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ umbrella.

What can mapping do?

At the least, it can create a database that anybody can plug into, thus becoming a resource for the media, researchers and funders. At its best, it can do so much more. It can, for instance, locate a derelict cinema and renovate it as an auditorium in a town where there are none, or create transport and tourism infrastructure around a declining crafts village.

Components:

  1. Mission encompasses data mapping, demography building formalising the processes and bringing all the cultural activities under one web-based umbrella for better results.
  2. Mission also seeks to open a direct channel of communication of artists with the Government and peer to peer communication among artists for talent honing and handholding of each other.
  3. Establish the cultural mapping (database of cultural assets and resources) via running nationwide cultural awareness programme called Hamari Sanskari Hamari Pachan Abhiyan for the development of all art forms and artists. This Abhiyan will take care of their aspirations and needs by providing a robust mechanism under “Design for Desire and Dream” project.
  4. The mission will run the Abhiyan also by arranging “Sanskritik Pratibha Khoj Samaroh Din” at various levels of this project.
  5. Establish a National Cultural Working Place portal for obtaining information, knowledge sharing, participation, performance and awards in the field of all art forms.
  6. Provide support in effective utilisation of financial and intellectual resources, minimising wastage of time in talent scouting and providing an opportunity for developing cultural inventory including artists and art forms.
  7. Ranking/Certification of attainments of any kind at any level acquired through formal or non-formal means in conventional art forms.
  8. Spreading Digital Literacy for teacher empowerment and encouraging teachers/Gurus to be available on the internet for guidance/mentoring for the artists along with online evaluation processes for artists.

Limitations of the mission:

  • Out of total outlay of 3000 crore only 42 crores were utilised in two years of its functioning.
  • Due to lack of IT infrastructure, artists identification data at block level could not be completed. 
  • The scheme focuses more on providing services rather creating the empowering the artists to perform better.

What needs to done to change course and support culture?

  1. The Government should focus on timely allocation of funds to all agencies and institutions, especially on a priority basis.
  2. As planned, a Nation-wide artists database should be made available at earliest to increase exposure.
  3. Self-declaration of art and art-forms should be promoted as it will help remove issues regarding representation.
  4. To secure the future, Schools and colleges could be encouraged to promote artistic facilities.

-Source: The Hindu


Sri Lanka’s Malaiyaha Tamils in inhumane conditions

Context:

Sri Lanka’s Malaiyaha Tamil workers, whose labour in tea plantations fetches precious foreign exchange to the country, are living in “inhumane and degrading” conditions, a U.N. expert has said.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbors, Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. U.N. expert on Malaiyaha Tamils in Sri Lanka
  2. History of India-Sri Lanka relations
  3. About the UNHRC Resolution against Sri Lanka

U.N. expert on Malaiyaha Tamils in Sri Lanka

  • Contemporary forms of slavery have an ethnic dimension. In particular, Malaiyaha Tamils – who were brought from India to work in the plantation sector 200 years ago – continue to face multiple forms of discrimination based on their origin.
  • U.N. bodies have consistently highlighted human rights concerns during Sri Lanka’s civil war period and after, pertaining to the Tamils of the war-affected north and east. However, the plight of the Malaiyaha Tamil community, historically neglected and marginalised, has received relatively less international attention.
  • Despite some alternative houses are built in cooperation with the Indian government, up to 10 people live in a 10×12 space, poor sanitation, and the persisting denial of land rights to the community – which resembles the workers’ colonial-era line room accommodation.
  • India has committed to building 14,000 houses in Sri Lanka’s hill country, but the construction is progressing at a slow pace amid private plantation companies’ apparent reluctance to part with land.
  • The visiting U.N. official flagged continuing discrimination of the community based on caste, especially in the Northern Province, where a sizeable hill country Tamil population lives, unable to acquire land.

History of India-Sri Lanka relations

  • India-Sri Lanka relations date back to over 2,500 years, with the Kingdoms in Sri Lanka engaging in continuous wars with occupying South Indian Kingdoms.
  • According to traditional Sri Lankan chronicles (such as the Dipavamsa), Buddhism was introduced into Sri Lanka in the 4th century BCE by Venerable Mahinda, the son of Indian Emperor Ashoka. Sri Lanka has the longest continuous history of Buddhism of any Buddhist nation.
  • Tamils in Sri Lanka, had established Hinduism and Tamil language links with South India.

Indian intervention in the Sri Lankan civil war

In the 1970s–1980s, private entities and elements in the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the state government of Tamil Nadu were believed to be encouraging the funding and training for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a separatist insurgent force.

In 1987, faced with growing anger amongst its own Tamils, and a flood of refugees, India intervened directly in the conflict for the first time.

After subsequent negotiations, India and Sri Lanka entered into an agreement (13th amendment.)

  • The peace accord assigned a certain degree of regional autonomy in the Tamil areas with Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) controlling the regional council and called for the Tamil militant groups to lay down their arms.
  • Further India was to send a peacekeeping force, named the IPKF to Sri Lanka to enforce the disarmament and to watch over the regional council.
  • Most Tamil militant groups accepted this agreement, however, the LTTE rejected the accord because they opposed a candidate.
  • The result was that the LTTE now found itself engaged in military conflict with the Indian Army.
  • The government of India then decided that the IPKF should disarm the LTTE by force, and the Indian Army launched a number of assaults on the LTTE, including a month-long campaign dubbed Operation Pawan to wrest control of the Jaffna peninsula from the LTTE.
  • The Indo-Sri Lankan Accord, which had been unpopular amongst Sri Lankans for giving India a major influence, now became a source of nationalist anger and resentment as the IPKF was drawn fully into the conflict.

About the UNHRC Resolution against Sri Lanka

  • The draft resolution is based on a report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) – according to which the government of Sri Lanka had created parallel military task forces and commissions that encroach on civilian functions, and reversed important institutional checks and balances, threatening democratic gains, the independence of the judiciary and other key institutions.
  • Sri Lanka abruptly withdrew in 2020 from an earlier UNHRC resolution (Resolution 30/1) on war crimes – under which it had committed, 5 years previously, to a time-bound investigation of war crimes that took place during the military campaign against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

India’s role in the resolution

  • Sri Lanka has described the resolution as “unwanted interference by powerful countries” and has officially sought India’s help to gather support against the resolution.
  • Whichever way it goes, the resolution is likely to resonate in India-Sri Lanka relations and for India internally, it will reflect in the run-up to the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu.
  • Previously, India voted against Sri Lanka in 2012 and India abstained in 2014.

UNHRC’s Stand on the Sri Lanka war crimes matter

  • The present government in Sri Lanka was “proactively” obstructing investigations into past crimes to prevent accountability, and that this had a “devastating effect” on families seeking truth, justice and reparations.
  • United Nations (UN) member states “should pay attention to the early warning signs of more violations to come, and called for “international action” including targeted sanctions such as asset freezes and travel bans against “credibly alleged” perpetrators of grave human rights violations and abuses.
  • States should also pursue investigations and prosecution in their national courts under accepted principles of extraterritorial or universal jurisdiction of international crimes committed by all parties in Sri Lanka.

-Source: The Hindu


Centennial Year of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)

Context:

President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, inaugurated the Centennial Year Celebration of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in the Central Hall of Parliament House.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Constitution (Constitutional Provisions, Parliamentary Committees)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Public Accounts Committee’s History
  2. Key points about the PAC
  3. Role of the PAC
  4. What are the challenges faced by PAC?

Public Accounts Committee’s History

  • The PAC website says the Committee on Public Accounts was first set up in 1921 in the wake of the Montague-Chelmsford Reforms.
  • With the Constitution coming into force on January, 26, 1950, the Committee became a Parliamentary Committee functioning under the Speaker with a non-official Chairman appointed by the Speaker from among the Members of Lok Sabha elected to the Committee. But even then, a member from the ruling party continued to be Chairman.
  • The Congress had the post until 1967, when Minoo Masani of Swatantra Party became Chairman. Since then, the PAC has always been headed by a member from the Opposition.

Key points about the PAC

  • The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee is appointed by the Speaker of Lok Sabha.
  • The PAC is not an executive body and it can only make decisions that are advisory by nature.
  • It presently comprises 22 members (15 members elected by the Lok Sabha Speaker, and 7 members elected by the Rajya Sabha Chairman) with a term of one year only.
  • It was framed with the purpose of ascertaining whether money granted to the Government by the Parliament has been spent by the former within the “scope of demand” or not, the PAC restricts any Minister from being elected as a member of it.

Role of the PAC

  • Holding the Executive to account for its use of public money is one the key roles of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the “mother of all Parliamentary Committees”.
  • The primary function of the PAC is to examine the accounts showing the appropriation of the sums granted by the House to meet the expenditure, the annual Finance Accounts of the government and, other such accounts laid before the House as the Committee may think fit except those relating to such Public Undertakings as are allotted to the Committee on Public Undertakings.
  • Apart from the Reports of Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on Appropriation Accounts of the Government, the Committee examines the various Audit Reports of the CAG on revenue receipts, expenditure by various Ministries/Departments of Government and accounts of autonomous bodies.
  • The Committee looks upon savings arising from incorrect estimating or other defects in procedure no more leniently than it does upon excesses.

What are the challenges faced by PAC?

  • The PAC’s power to scrutinise expenditure provides for Parliamentary oversight over Executive decisions and acts as a check on slackness, negligence and even wrongdoing on the part of the Executive.
  • However, the lack of technical expertise hinders the PAC’s examinations. Officers are sometimes able to dodge PAC summons, which has prompted suggestions that it should have the power to hand out harsher punishments.
  • In 2016, the Institute of Public Auditors of India (IPAI) sought suo motu powers of investigation for the PAC. The PAC had also pitched for making the CAG and Auditor General (AG) accountable to Parliament.

-Source: The Hindu


States told to adopt Delhi police model

Context:

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs has urged the State Governments to follow the crime analytics model of Delhi Police in preventing street crimes against women through crime mapping and identification of hotspots for reinforced action.

Relevance:

GS-II: Governance, GS-II: Polity and Constitution

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the recommendation to follow the Delhi Police model
  2. Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS)

About the recommendation to follow the Delhi Police model

  • The Union Home Ministry said the Crime Mapping Analytics and Productive System and related tools were deployed on the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS).
  • As part of the initiatives to strengthen the capacity to deal with cases of crimes against women, it was recommended that the SOP on registration of FIRs should include guidelines to police to record reasons for delay in reporting of crimes by the complainants to the police. A provision was made for recording this statement in the FIRs on the CCTNS.
  • The States and Union Territories weretold to widely circulate the BPR&D’s handbooks on ‘Women’s Safety & Security’ and ‘First respondents and Investigators’ to police personnel, and include the guidelines in the training modules.

Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS)

  • Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) is a project initiated in June 2009 which aims at creating a comprehensive and integrated system for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of policing at the Police Station level. This will be done through adoption of principles of e-Governance, and creation of a nationwide networked infrastructure for evolution of IT-enabled state-of-the-art tracking system around “investigation of crime and detection of criminals”. CCTNS is a Mission Mode Project (MMP) under the National e-Governance Plan of Govt. of India.
  • The Full implementation of the Project with all the new components would lead to a Central citizen portal having linkages with State level citizen portals that will provide a number of citizen friendly services like Police Verification for various purposes including passport verification, reporting a crime including cyber-crime and online tracking of the case progress etc.

-Source: The Hindu


Disallowing Questions by Members of Parliament

Context:

Rajya Sabha secretariat had disallowed a question from Subramanian Swamy on whether the Chinese have crossed the line of actual control (LAC) in Ladakh by citing ‘national interest’.

A senior official of the Rajya Sabha secretariat told that the secretariat goes by the recommendation of the ministry concerned if sensitive issues are involved

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Constitution (Constitutional Provisions, Legislature)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Members of the Parliament and their Right to Ask Questions
  2. Question Hour
  3. Zero Hour in Parliament
  4. Half-an-Hour Discussion
  5. Type of Questions
  6. Supplementary Question
  7. Rules to Admit Questions

Members of the Parliament and their Right to Ask Questions

  • In both Houses, elected members enjoy the right to seek information from various ministries and departments in the form of starred questions, unstarred questions, short notice questions and questions to private members.
  • The first hour of every sitting is usually devoted to asking and answering questions in both Houses, and this is referred to as the ‘Question Hour’.
  • The Rajya Sabha Chairman or the Lok Sabha Speaker has the authority to decide whether a question or a part is or is not admissible under the norms of the House, and disallow any question or a part.

Question Hour

  • The question hour is slated for 11am every day (for an hour) in both the houses.
  • This is a very important part of the proceedings where MPs ask questions on important subjects and the respective ministers respond with data, information & other details.
  • These are also a very important source of information since a lot of latest up to date information/data is provided in the form of answers which are not usually available elsewhere.

Zero Hour in Parliament

  • Firstly, there is no mention of zero hour in rules of Parliamentary Procedure. This term was coined by press in 1960s.
  • A zero Hour is the hour after the Question Hour in the two houses of Parliament.
  • During this hour, the members raise matters of importance, particularly those which they feel, cannot be delayed.
  • Since this is unscheduled and without permission or prior notice, it generally results in avoidable loss of precious time of the house.
  • It also obstructs the legislative, financial and regular proceedings and business of the House.

Half-an-Hour Discussion

  • A Half-an-Hour Discussion can be raised on a matter of sufficient public importance which has been the subject of a recent question in Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha, irrespective of the fact whether the question was orally answered or the answer was laid on the table of the House.
  • Generally, not more than half an hour is allowed for such a discussion.
  • The Chairman/Speaker decides whether the matter is of sufficient public importance to be put down for discussion.

Type of Questions

Members have a right to ask questions to elicit information on matters of public importance within the special cognizance of the Ministers concerned. The questions are of four types:

  1. Starred Questions– A Starred Question is one to which a member desires an oral answer from the Minister in the House and is required to be distinguished by him/her with an asterisk. Answer to such a question may be followed by supplementary questions by members.
  2. Unstarred Questions– An Unstarred Question is one to which written answer is desired by the member and is deemed to be laid on the Table of the House by Minister. Thus, it is not called for oral answer in the House and no supplementary question can be asked thereon.
  3. Short Notice Questions– A member may give a notice of question on a matter of public importance and of urgent character for oral answer at a notice less than 10 days prescribed as the minimum period of notice for asking a question in ordinary course. Such a question is known as ‘Short Notice Question’.
  4. Questions to Private Members– A Question may also be addressed to a Private Member (Under Rule 40 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha), provided that the subject matter of the question relates to some Bill, Resolution or other matter connected with the business of the House for which that Member is responsible. The procedure in regard to such questions is same as that followed in the case of questions addressed to a Minister with such variations as the Speaker may consider necessary.

Supplementary Question

  • Starred Questions are those for which an oral answer is expected. The member is allowed to ask a supplementary question, with the permission of the Speaker, after the reply is obtained from the Minister concerned.
  • Non-starred questions are those for which a written reply is expected. After the reply has been provided, NO supplementary question can be asked.
  • A notice period is to be given to the minister to reply to a question. However, if a Member seeks to ask a question urgently and cannot wait for the duration of the notice period, then the member can do so provided it is accepted by the Speaker. Such questions are called supplementary questions.

Rules to Admit Questions

  • In Lok Sabha, once the notice for questions is received, ballots determine priority.
  • The questions are examined for admissibility under Rules 41-44 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.
  • In Lok Sabha, questions that are not admitted include: those that are repetitive or have been answered previously; and matters that are pending for judgment before any court of law or under consideration before a Parliamentary Committee.
  • The admissibility of questions in Rajya Sabha is governed by Rules 47-50 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States. Among various norms, the question “shall be pointed, specific and confined to one issue only”.

-Source: Indian Express


Indonesia’s Mount Semeru volcano erupts

Context:

The eruption of the biggest mountain on the island of Java in Indonesia – Mount Semeru killed at least 14 persons and left dozens injured.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-I: Geography (Physical geography, Volcanoes, Important Geophysical phenomena), GS-III: Disaster Management

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Mount Semeru
  2. Stratovolcano
  3. About the Ring of Fire

About Mount Semeru

  • Mount Semeru is an active volcano in East Java, Indonesia.
  • It is located in a subduction zone, where the Indo-Australian plate subducts under the Eurasia plate.
  • This stratovolcano is also known as Mahameru, meaning “The Great Mountain” in Sanskrit. Semeru is named after Sumeru, the central world-mountain in Hinduism.
  • Semeru’s eruptive history is extensive. Since 1818, at least 55 eruptions have been recorded (11 of which resulted in fatalities) consisting of both lava flows and pyroclastic flows.
  • Semeru has been in a state of near-constant eruption from 1967 to the present.

Stratovolcano

  • A stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano, is a conical volcano built up by many layers (strata) of hardened lava and tephra.
  • Unlike shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes are characterized by a steep profile with a summit crater and periodic intervals of explosive eruptions and effusive eruptions, although some have collapsed summit craters called calderas.
  • The lava flowing from stratovolcanoes typically cools and hardens before spreading far, due to high viscosity.
  • The magma forming this lava is often felsic, having high-to-intermediate levels of silica (as in rhyolite, dacite, or andesite), with lesser amounts of less-viscous mafic magma.
  • Stratovolcanoes are sometimes called “composite volcanoes” because of their composite stratified structure built up from sequential outpourings of erupted materials.
  • They are among the most common types of volcanoes, in contrast to the less common shield volcanoes.
  • Two famous examples of stratovolcanoes are Krakatoa in Indonesia, known for its catastrophic eruption in 1883, and Vesuvius in Italy, whose catastrophic eruption in AD 79 buried the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
  • In modern times, Mount St. Helens in Washington State, USA and Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines have erupted catastrophically, but with fewer deaths.

About the Ring of Fire

  • Many volcanoes in the Ring of Fire were created through a process of subduction. And most of the planet’s subduction zones happen to be located in the Ring of Fire
  • It is a string of at least 450 active and dormant volcanoes that form a semi-circle, or horse shoe, around the Philippine Sea plate, the Pacific Plate, Juan de Fuca and Cocos plates, and the Nazca Plate.
  • There is a lot of seismic activity in the area.
  • 90 per cent of all earthquakes strike within the Ring of Fire

Why are there so many volcanoes in the Ring of Fire?

  • The tectonic plates move non-stop over a layer of partly solid and partly molten rock which is called the Earth’s mantle.
  • When the plates collide or move apart, for instance, the Earth moves, literally.
  • Mountains, like the Andes in South America and the Rockies in North America, as well as volcanoes have formed through the collision of tectonic plates.
  • Many volcanoes in the Ring of Fire were created through a process of subduction. And most of the planet’s subduction zones happen to be located in the Ring of Fire

What is subduction?

  • Subduction happens when tectonic plates shift, and one plate is shoved under another.
  • This movement of the ocean floor produces a “mineral transmutation,” which leads to the melting and solidification of magma – that is, the formation of volcanoes.
  • Basically, when a “downgoing” oceanic plate is shoved into a hotter mantle plate, it heats up, volatile elements mix, and this produces the magma.
  • The magma then rises up through the overlying plate and spurts out at the surface.

-Source: The Hindu

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