China Russia Pak to Attend SCO Anti- Teeror Met in Delhi
Paper 2 international relation
Why You Should Know?
• Counterterrorism teams from Russia, China, Pakistan and Central Asian countries will gather in Delhi on the weekend ahead of the shanghai cooperation organizations regional Anti – Terror Structure ( SCO – RATS) Meeting hosted by India from may 16 to 19.
• These are the first such official discussions to be held in india since the stand – off along the india since the stand – off along the Line of actual control ( LAC where Chinese PLA Troops transgressed in 2020, and since the Russian invasion in Ukraine this year.
• Member Pakistani team will attend the meeting in india for the first time since both countries became members.
• Chinese delegation may not be able to travel to India at present indicating COVID – 19 regulations and a team from the Chinese embassy would attend the exercise in its place.
• While Both India and Pakistan have no barrel engagement at present and have not attended other regional meets such as the South Asian Association for Regional cooperation (SAARC) meet they both attended the Russia and china led SCO meet.
• Last Year an Indian team alos travelled to Pakistan to attend the SCO –RATs excerices in Pabbi. Sources asaid the Pakistani delegation would cross over at the wagh – Attari border crossing on Saturday to travel to delhi for the counterterror meeting next week.
• The arrival of the Pakistani team will be marked particularly since it is the first such visit since the swearing in of Pakistan prime minister Shehbaz Sharif.
• It also comes after the Pakistani Cabinet decided to re-staff its Trade Minister post at the High Commission in Delhi.
• India is expected to host the SCO summit in 2023, which would see leaders of the eight-member grouping (China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) travelling to New Delhi.
• In October, joint anti-terrorist exercises titled “Manesar-Antiterror-2022” will be held on the NSG training campus in Manesar on the outskirts of Delhi, and will be followed by another joint border operation of the SCO member states called “Friendship Border-2022” in Kazakhstan later this year.
• Both exercises were decided at a meeting of SCO-RATS in Tashkent on March 25 this year, which was chaired by India.
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
• The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), also known as the Shanghai Pact, is a transcontinental political, economic, security, and military alliance.
• In terms of geographic scope and population, it is the world’s largest regional organization, covering approximately 60% of the area of Eurasia, 40% of the world population, and more than 30% of global GDP.
• The SCO is the successor to the Shanghai Five, a mutual security agreement formed in 1996 between China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.
• On 15 June 2001, the leaders of these nations and Uzbekistan met in Shanghai to announce a new organisation with deeper political and economic cooperation; the SCO Charter was signed on 7 July 2002 and entered into force on 19 September 2003.
• Its membership has since expanded to eight states, with India and Pakistan joining on 9 June 2017. Iran started accession as a full member in September 2021 at the Dushanbe Summit in Tajikistan. Several countries are engaged as observers or partners.
• The SCO is governed by the Heads of State Council (HSC), its supreme decision-making body, which meets once a year.
• Military exercises are also regularly conducted among members to promote cooperation and coordination against terrorism and other external threats, and to maintain regional peace and stability.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
• The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of states in South Asia.
• Its member states are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
1. SAARC comprises 3% of the world’s land area, 21% of the world’s population and 4.21% (USD 3.67 trillion) of the global economy, as of 2019.
2. SAARC was founded in Dhaka on 8 December 1985.
3. Its secretariat is based in Kathmandu, Nepal.
4. The organization promotes development of economic and regional integration.
5. It launched the South Asian Free Trade Area in 2006.
• SAARC maintains permanent diplomatic relations at the United Nations as an observer and has developed links with multilateral entities, including the European Union.
SC declines to stay J&K delimitation report
Paper 2 indian polity
Paper 3 internal security
Why You Should Know?
• However, it issued a second notification on March 3, 2021 restricting the scope of delimitation to J&K alone.
• The petition also alleged that the increase in the number of seats from 107 to 114 (including 24 seats in Pa kistan-occupied Kashmir) in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir was ultra vires the Constitution and the Jammu & Kashmir Reor ganisation Act, 2019.
• The petition said any step to in crease the number of seats in J&K would require a Con stitutional Amendment be sides changes in the Delimi tation Act, 2002 and the Representation of People Act, 1950.
Jammu and Kashmir Delimitation Commission ?
• The Jammu and Kashmir Delimitation Commission has recommended all five parliamentary constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir to have an equal number of assembly constituencies for the first time.
• The Jammu and Kashmir Delimitation Commission has signed the final order for delimitation of Jammu and Kashmir.
• Recently, in its interim report, the Jammu and Kashmir Delimitation Commission has proposed significant changes to the electoral map of Jammu and Kashmir. The delimitation exercise had started in June 2021 in the state.
ISRO tests booster for Gaganyaan
Paper 3 Science and Technology
Why You Should Know?
• The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has suc cessfully carried out the stat ic test of the HS200 solid rocket booster, taking the space agency one more step closer to the keenly awaited Gaganyaan human space flight mission.
• The test was held at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. Designed and developed by the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram for over two years, the HS200 booster is the ‘human-rated’ ver sion of the S200 rocket boosters used on the geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle MK-III (GSLV MK-IID), also called the LVM3.
• The GSLV Mk-III rocket. which will be used for the Gaganyaan mission, will have two HS200 boosters that will supply the thrust for lift-off.
• The HS200 is a 20-metre long booster with a diameter of 3.2 metres and is the world’s second largest oper ational booster using solid propellants.
• During Friday’s test, about 700 parameters were monitored and the performance of all the systems were normal.
• Loaded with 203 tonnes of solid propellant, the HS200 booster was tested for a total duration of 135 seconds.
• Since Gaganyaan is a manned mission, the GSLV MK-III will have improve ments to increase reliability and safety to meet the re quirements of human rating.
• The control system used in the HS200 booster em ploys one of the world’s most powerful electro-me chanical actuators with mul tiple redundancy and safety features, according to the VSSC.
• Of the three propulsion stages of the GSLV MK-III, the second stage uses liquid pro pellant while the third is a cryogenic stage.
Exports rose 30.7% in April, imports grew 31%
Paper 3 economy
Why You Should Know?
• India’s merchandise exports in April grew 30.7% year-on year to $40.19 billion, $2 billion higher than the estimates released earlier this month, Commerce Ministry data.
• Goods imports during the month were also $2 billion more than the earlier estimates of $60.3 billion, reflecting a 31% growth.
• The trade deficit in April was marginally higher than the previous estimate of $20.1 billion and wider than March’s $18.5 billion.
Export growth to slow
• Rating agency ICRA expects the merchandise trade deficit to expand to an all-time high of $250-255 billion in 2022-23, as exports growth will slow down to about 9% during the year in tandem with global trade flows.
• Imports, on the other hand, are expected to rise by about 16% with domestic demand growth expected to outpace external demand.
• The increase in exports was led by petroleum pro ducts (up 127.7%), electronic goods (71.7%), cereals (60.8%), coffee (59.4%), processed foods (38.8%) and leather products (36.7%), re sulting in record merchandise exports for April.
• Excluding petroleum and gems and jewellery exports, the growth rate was lower at 19.9%, with outbound ship ments worth $28.5 billion.
• By contrast, imports, excluding these categories, grew by a much sharper 34.4% from a year earlier to $35.7 billion.
• Coal and petroleum im ports were higher than ear lier estimates – with the former more than doubling to $4.93 billion and the lat ter jumping 87.5% to about $20.2 billion.
• The value of fertilizer imports almost tre bled to $1.2 billion. The in crease in these three import categories reflects the sharp rise in global prices.
• While gold imports fell 72.3% to just $1.7 billion, from $6.2 billion in April 2021, silver imports rose al most tenfold, albeit from a lower base of $11.9 million a year earlier, to $109.5 million in April 2022.
3.2 cr. used facilities under Ayushman scheme: Centre
Paper 2 Health
Why You Should Know?
• More than 18 crore health cards have been issued un der the Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) scheme so far and over 3.2 crore people have availed the hospi tal facilities, the Health Ministry said on Friday.
Digital health solutions
• Earlier this week, the National Health Authority (NHA), under its flagship scheme Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), announced the successful integration of additional 13 digital health solutions in the ABDM Sand box environment in the last three months.
• This takes the tally of ABDM integrated service applications to 40 since the national launch was announced on September 27, 2021.
• The ABDM partners ecosystem now consists of 16 government applications and 24 private sector applications.
Prime Minister launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission
• Prime Minister launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) via video conferencing on 27th September 2021, in the presence of Shri Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare and Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, among other dignitaries.
• Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission will connect the digital health solutions of hospitals across the country with each other.
• The Mission will not only make the processes of hospitals simplified but also will increase ease of living.
• The Digital Ecosystem will also enable a host of other facilities like Digital Consultation, Consent of patients in letting medical practitioners access their records, etc.
• With the implementation of this scheme, old medical records cannot get lost as every record will be stored digitally.
22 LOCKED ‘ROOMS’AT TAJ MAHAL, AND A MYSTERY THAT ISN’T
Paper 1 indian history
Paper 2 indian polity
Why You Should Know?
• Allahabad High Court dismissed a petition seeking a “facts finding committee to study and publish the real History of Taj Mahal” and a “direction…to open the sealed doors(approx. 22 rooms)in side the Taj Mahal to rest to the controversy”.
• A Bench comprising Justices Subhash Vidyarthi and Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya said the prayers were “non-justiciable”, and “such issues… should be left to be de bated amongst the academicians, scholars and historians”.
No secret history
• The so-called “22 rooms” in the base ment of the Taj Mahal are not really rooms, rather a long arched corridor along which doors were fixed so the space could be utilised better, sources in the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) who have seen the basement area on several occasions.
• The sources said ASI staff at the Taj clean the “rooms” weekly or fortnightly, and, “There is nothing on the walls there.”
• Aretired ASI Official who did not want to be identified said the area is not of tourist interest, and is therefore kept locked to prevent unnecessary movement of people at the protected World Heritage Site that gets up to 1 lakh visitors daily.
• “There is no secret history in the base ment, it is for security reasons only that the area is kept out of bounds for visitors”.
• The noted archaeologist KK Muhammed, who retired in 2012 as the ASI’s Regional Director (North), told The Indian Express that he had seen no religious motifs inside the basement rooms of the Taj.
• Such rooms, he said, are not uncommon in other Mughal-era structures of a similar nature-in Agra, and at Humayun’s Tomb and Safdarjung’s tomb in Delhi.
• The ASI maintains all these basement rooms. The walls are bare, there are no mo tifs; it’s just a structural element to raise the plinth on which the main mausoleum and the minarets stand.
• For a structure of this size, once the foundation is done, arches are created to lift the platform and spread the load uni formly. Surveys are conducted from time to time by going to the basement to test the strength of the Taj Mahal.
Claims of a ‘temple’
• Claims have been made over many years-and repeatedly rejected by historians, ASI officials, and courts including the Supreme Court that the Taj is really a Hindu temple, and idols of gods and god desses may be hidden in its basement.
• The Taj was first men tioned in the Badshahnama, the official chronicle of Shah Jahan’s reign- and that its architectural features are such that it could not have been built even 50 years be fore the time that is historically assigned to it, given the way Mughal architecture evolved.
Iron in Tamil Nadu 4,200 years ago: A New Dating and Its Significance
Paper 1 indian history
Why You Should Know?
• Carbon Dating of excavated finds in Tamil Nadu pushes evidence of iron being used in India back to 4,200 years ago, the Tamil Nadu government announced this week on the basis of an archaeological report.
• Before this, the earliest evidence of iron use was from 1900 2000BCE for thecountry, and from 1500 BCE for Tamil Nadu. The latest evidence dates the findings from Tamil Nadu to 2172 BCE.
• Chief Minister M K Stalin said in the Assembly that it has been established that Tamils who lived 4,200 years ago were aware of iron.
• Dense forests were converted into fertile lands only after humankind began re alising the use of iron. This finding has answered questions relating to the start of agricultural activity in Tamil Nadu.
• The excavations are from Mayiladumparai near Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu, about 100 km south of Bengaluru.
• Mayiladumparai is an important site with cultural material dating back between the Microlithic (30,000 BCE) and Early Historic (600 BCE) ages.
• The site is situated in the midst of sev eral archaeological sites such as Togarapalli, Gangavaram, Sandur, Vedarthattakkal, Guttur, Gidlur, Sappamutlu and Kappalavadi. All these important archae ological sites lie within 10 km.
• Prof Rajan had discovered the site in the 1990s, and the first excavations from there were made in the 1990s. The results of dating, which used accelerator mass spectroscopy. came last week.
• The dates when humans entered the Iron Age vary from one region of the world to another. In India, too, the date has been revised with successive findings over the decades.
• In 1979, use of iron was traced to 1300 BCE at Ahar in Rajasthan. Later, samples at Bukkasagara in Karnataka, indicating iron production, were dated back to 1530 BCE.
• The date was subsequently pushed back to 1700-1800BCE with excavations findingev idence of iron smelting at Raipura in the Mid-Ganga valley, and then to 1900-2000 BCE based on investigations in sites at Malhar near Varanasi and Brahmagini in North Kamataka.
• A series of dating results on finds from various parts in India have shownevidenceofiron-ore technology be fore 1800 BCE.
• Before the latest discovery, the earliest evidence of iron use for Tamil Nadu was from Thelunganur and Mangadu near Mettur, dating back to 1500 BCE.
• Iron is not known to have been used in the Indus Valley, from where the use of cop per in India is said to have originated (1500 BCE).
• But non-availability of copper fortech nological and mass exploitation forced other regions to remain in the Stone Age.
• It would have been difficult to use copper tools to clear dense forests and bring land under agriculture – which is why scientists infer that deforesttion took place only after humans began using iron.
• With the latest evidence tracing our Iron Age to 2000 BCE from 1500 BC. we can assume that our cultural seeds were laid in 2000 BCE.
Culture and politics
• The Tamil Brahmi scripts were once be lieved to have originated around 300 BCE, until a landmark finding in 2019 pushed the date back to 600 BCE.
• This dating narrowed the gap between the Indus Valley civilisation and Tamilagam/South India’s Sangam Age. This, and the latest findings are politically significant.
• The dating of the scripts, based on excavations from sites including Keeladi near Madurai, became controversial when the Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) did not go for advanced carbon dating tests, and an ASI researcher who had initiated the study was transferred out of the state. The 2019 findings came out of the state govemment’s efforts.
Monsoon to Arrive Early Over Kerala
Paper 1 indian history
Why You Should Know?
• The monsoon is slated to make its earliest arrival in 13 years over Kerala. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that the monsoon will make its onset over the State on May 27, four days ahead of its normal date of June 1.
• The IMD records show that the monsoon arrived on May 23 in 2009, May 26 in 2006 and May 28 in 2007. The last time the monsoon arrived in Kerala in May was 2018.
• The IMD uses a special is used model that forecasts the arrival dates within a four day window.
• It uses six predictors – minimum temperatures over northwest India, pre-monsoon rainfall peak over south Peninsula, outgoing long-wave radiation (OLR) over the South China Sea, lower tropospheric zonal wind over the southeast Indian Ocean, upper tropospheric zonal wind over the east equatorial Indian Ocean, and outgoing long wave radiation over the southwest Pacific region.
• Except for 2015, the monsoon has arrived within the four-day window of the date forecast by the IMD from 2005 to 2021.
• The monsoon’s arrival over India is marked by rain over south Andaman Sea, which then advances north westwards across the Bay of Bengal. Usually, the southwest monsoon advances over the Andaman Sea around May 22.
• In association with en hanced cross-equatorial winds, conditions are be coming favourable for the southwest monsoon advanc ing into the South Andaman sea, Nicobar Islands and some parts of southeast Bay of Bengal around May 15, the IMD statement noted.
• However, there is little correlation between the monsoon’s arrival and the quantum of rainfall. In 2009, for instance, the monsoon’s early arrival failed to inure India against its biggest drought in 40 years.
• Past data suggests that there is no association of the date of monsoon advance over the Andaman Sea either with the date of monsoon onset over Kerala or with the seasonal monsoon rainfall over the country.
Absence of El Nino
• The IMD has forecast a nor mal monsoon for this year, with the country expected to get 99% of the long period average (LPA).
• The normal monsoon is premised on the absence of an El Nino, a phenomenon associated with a warming of the Central Pacific and drying up of rain over northwest India during the monsoon months of June September.
The India Meteorological Department
• The India Meteorological Department (IMD) is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India.
• It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology.
• IMD is headquartered in Delhi and operates hundreds of observation stations across India and Antarctica.
• Regional offices are at Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Nagpur, Guwahati and New Delhi. IMD is also one of the six Regional Specialised Meteorological Centres of the World Meteorological Organisation.
• It has the responsibility for forecasting, naming and distribution of warnings for tropical cyclones in the Northern Indian Ocean region, including the Malacca Straits, the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf.