Current Affairs Mar 16

Rakhi Garhi

  • The ancient site of Rakhi-Khas and Rakhi-Shahpur are collectively known as Rakhigarhi, located on the right bank of now dried up Palaeo-channel of Drishadvati.
  • The site has yielded various stages of Harappan culture and is by far one of the largest Harappan sites in India. The site shows the sequential development of the Indus culture in the now dried up Saraswati basin.
  • In the union budget of 2020 it was announced that Five iconic archaeological sites located across five states will be developed. One of which is Rakhigarhi located in Hissar district, Haryana.




Financial Assistance Schemes for Promotion of Arts and Culture

  • Scheme of Financial Assistance for Promotion of Art and Culture: The scheme consists of five components. The objective of 05 scheme component is as given below: –

Repertory Grant

  • The objective of Repertory Grant Scheme Component is to provide financial support for all genres of performing arts activities like dramatic groups, theatre groups, music ensembles, children theatre etc. and imparting training of artists by their respective Guru on regular basis in line with Guru–Shishya Parampara.
  • As per the scheme, support is provided to 1 Guru and maximum 18 Shishyas (in case of Theatre) and 01 Guru and 10 Shishyas (in case of Music and Dance categories).

Amount of Assistance – Guru Rs.10000/- p.m., Shishya – Rs.1000-6000/-p.m.


Cultural organizations with National Presence

 The objective of this scheme component is to provide support for cultural activities at Large scale National / International level. The Quantum of assistance under this scheme is up to Rs. 5 Cr.


Cultural Function & Production Grant (CFPG)

  • The objective of this scheme component is to provide financial support to NGOs/ Societies/ Trusts/ Universities etc. for Seminars, Conference, Research, Workshops, Festivals, Exhibitions, Symposia, Production of Dance, Drama-Theatre, Music etc.
  • The maximum grants provided under CFPG is Rs.5 Lakh (Rs. 20 Lakh under exceptional circumstances)

Financial Assistance for the Preservation & Development of Cultural Heritage of the Himalayas

  • The objective of this scheme component is to promote and preserve the cultural heritage of the Himalayas through research, training and dissemination through audio visual programmes.
  • The financial support is provided to the organizations in the States falling under the Himalayan Region i.e. Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The quantum of funding is Rs. 10.00 lakhs per year for an organization which can be increased to Rs. 30.00 lakhs in exceptional cases.

Financial Assistance for the Preservation & Development of Buddhist/Tibetan Organization

  • Under this scheme component financial assistance is provided to the voluntary Buddhist/Tibetan organizations including Monasteries engaged in the propagation and scientific development of Buddhist/Tibetan Cultural and tradition and research in related fields.
  • The quantum of funding under scheme component is Rs. 30.00 lakhs per year for an organization which can be increased to 1.00 crore in exceptional cases.




Deep Ocean Mission


  • The Deep Ocean Mission is proposed as multi-ministerial multi-disciplinary programme with emphasis on development of deep sea technology, exploration of deep sea mineral resources and biodiversity, acquisition of a research vessel for exploration, deep sea observations, and capacity building.
  • Ministry of Earth Sciences is the nodal agency for implementing the programme.

The major objectives proposed under Deep Ocean Mission are as follows:

  • Development of technologies for deep sea mining, underwater vehicles and underwater robotics;
  • Development of ocean climate change advisory services;
  • Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deepsea biodiversity;
  • Deep ocean survey and exploration;
  • Proof of concept studies on energy and freshwater from the ocean; and
  • Establishing advanced marine station for ocean biology.
  • The Deep Ocean Mission is proposed to be a Central Sector Scheme and no separate allocation for States is envisaged.




PM Atma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana

Why in News?

  • In the Budget speech of FY 21-22, ‘Prime Minister AtmanirbharSwasth Bharat Yojana’ (PMASBY) scheme has been announced, with an outlay of about Rs.64,180 Cr over six years (till FY 25-26).
  • This will be in addition to the National Health Mission.

The main interventions under the scheme to be achieved by FY 25-26 are:

  • Support for 17,788 rural Health and Wellness Centres in in 10 High Focus States.
  • Establishing 11,024 urban Health and Wellness Centres in all the States.
  • Setting up of Integrated Public Health Labs in all districts and 3382 Block Public Health Units in11 High Focus states;
  • Establishing Critical Care Hospital Blocks in 602 districts and 12 Central Institutions;
  • Strengthening of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), its 5 regional branches and 20 metropolitan health surveillance units;
  • Expansion of the Integrated Health Information Portal to all States/UTs to connect all public health labs;

vii. Operationalisation of 17 new Public Health Units and strengthening of 33 existing Public Health Units at Points of Entry, that is at 32 Airports, 11 Seaports and 7 landcrossings;

  • Setting up of 15 Health Emergency Operation Centres and 2 mobile hospitals; and
  • Setting up of a national institution for One Health, a Regional Research Platform for WHO South East Asia Region, 9 Bio-Safety Level III laboratories and 4 regionalNational Institutes for Virology.
  • The PMASBY targets to build an IT enabled disease surveillance system by developing a network of surveillance laboratories at block, district, regional and national levels, in Metropolitan areas & strengthening health units at the Points of Entry, for effectively detecting, investigating, preventing and combating Public Health Emergencies and Disease Outbreaks.




 Prevent Elephant – Human Conflict Using Honey Bees

Why in News?

  • Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), on Monday, launched a unique project of creating “bee-fences” to mitigate human – elephant conflicts in the country.


  • The objective of Project RE-HAB (Reducing Elephant – Human Attacks using Bees) is to thwart elephant attacks in human habitations using honey bees and thus reducingloss of lives of both, humans as well as elephants.
  • The pilot project was launched at four locations around village Chelur in Kodagu district of Karnataka.
  • These spots are located on the periphery of Nagarhole National Park and Tiger Reserve and prone to human-elephant conflicts.

Project RE-HAB

  • It is a sub-mission under KVIC’s National Honey Mission.
  • While the Honey Mission is a programme to increase the bee population, honey production and beekeepers’ income by setting up apiaries, Project RE-HAB uses bee boxes as a fence to prevent the attack of elephants.




India’s Arms Imports

Why in News?

  • Arms imports decreased by 33% between 2011–15 and 2016–20 while India continues to remain the second largest arms importer after Saudi Arabia, according to a report from Swedish think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Why this Drop?

  • The overall drop in arms imports between 2011–15 and 2016–20 seems to be mainly due to its complex and lengthy procurement processes, combined with its attempts to reduce its dependence on Russian arms by diversifying its network of arms suppliers.
  • Russia was the largest arms supplier in both years. However, Russia’s deliveries dropped by 53% between the two periods and its share of Indian arms imports fell from 70 to 49%.
  • The U.S. was the second largest arms supplier to India in 2011–15 but in 2016–20 India’s arms imports from the U.S. were 46% lower than in the previous five-year period, making the U.S. the fourth largest supplier in 2016–20.
  • France and Israel were the second and third largest arms suppliers in 2016–20. “India’s arms imports from France increased by 709% while those from Israel rose by 82%.
  • Arms imports by Pakistan between 2011–15 and 2016–20 decreased by 23%. China accounted for 61% of its imports in 2011–15 and for 74% in 2016–20.




Indian Ocean border dispute between Kenya and Somalia

Why in News?

  • Kenya has said that it will not take part in proceedings of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over its maritime border dispute with neighbouring Somalia.
  • Kenya has accused the top UN body of bias.
  • The move comes after Somalia’s decision to sever diplomatic relations with Kenya in December, after it accused Nairobi of meddling in its internal affairs.

Where is the disputed area?

  • The main point of disagreement between the two neighbours is the direction in which their maritime boundary in the Indian Ocean should extend.
  • According to Somalia, the sea border should be an extension of the same direction in which their land border runs as it approaches the Indian Ocean, i.e. towards the southeast.
  • Kenya, on the other hand, argues that the territorial southeast border should take a 45 degree turn as it reaches the sea, and then run in a latitudinal direction, i.e. parallel to the equator. Such an arrangement would be advantageous for Kenya, whose coastline of 536 km is more than 6 times smaller than Somalia’s (3,333 km).

Why is this area important?

  • The triangular area thus created by the dispute is around 1.6 lakh sq km large, and boasts of rich marine reserves. It is also believed to have oil and gas deposits.

How have Kenya and Somalia tried to resolve the dispute?

  • After negotiations to resolve the issue bilaterally failed, Somalia in 2014 asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to adjudicate. Kenya resisted
  • In February 2017, the ICJ ruled that it did have the right to rule in the case, and in June 2019 said that it would begin public hearings.
  • These hearings never took place, as Kenya successfully applied to have them postponed thrice– the last one being in June 2020.
  • ICJ rulings are considered binding, although the international tribunal has no powers to ensure enforcement, and many countries are known to ignore its verdicts.




Surgery by Ayurveda Practitioners

Why in News?

  • The Supreme Court decided to examine a plea by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) against a Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) order authorising post-graduate practitioners in specified streams of Ayurveda to be trained to perform surgical procedures.
  • IMA argued that CCIM did not have the powers to include surgery in Ayurveda syllabus.
  • The notification by the CCIM has listed 39 general surgery procedures and around 19 procedures involving the eye, ear, nose and throat by amending the Indian Medicine Central Council (Post Graduate Ayurveda Education) Regulations, 2016.
  • According to the November 20, 2020 gazette notification, the procedures listed include removal of metallic and non-metallic foreign bodies from non-vital organs, excision of simple cyst or benign tumours of non-vital organs, amputation of gangrene, traumatic wound management, foreign body removal from stomach, squint surgery, cataract surgery and functional endoscopic sinus surgery.
  • It was universally accepted that Ashtanga Ayurveda has dealt with surgery for centuries.




Supermassive black hole moving within host galaxy

Why in News?

  • Scientists have discovered the first moving supermassive black hole whose mass is about three million times that of our Sun.
  • The black hole was travelling within its own galaxy, J0437+2456, which is around 228 million light years away from Earth.
  • Scientist don’t expect the majority of supermassive black holes to be moving; they’re usually content to just sit around.
  • As the water circles around the black hole before falling into it like liquid in a sink, “it produces a laser-like beam of radio light known as a maser”. These masers can tell the velocity of black holes very accurately.
  • Scientist used radio antennas placed at great distances from each other to form a giant reception net for masers emitting from the roving black hole. Then, using a technique called very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) they calculated the velocities of the 10 black holes under survey.
  • The supermassive black hole is moving with a speed of about 110,000 miles per hour (177,027.84 kilometre per hour) inside the galaxy J0437+2456.
  • The scientists are not sure what is causing this motion but they have narrowed down on two possibilities: Two black holes merging and a binary system of blackholes.




Air quality improved in parts of Africa

  • The northern grassland areas of sub-Saharan Africa recorded cleaner air due to fewer fires, according to an analysis of satellite images from 2005 to 2017 by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
  • The drop in air pollution was visible during the dry season in areas where grassland fires are common.
  • In the dry months between November and February, there was a 4.5 per cent decline in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentration over the northern grasslands region of sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The gas is released during fossil fuel combustion and burning of vegetation and grasslands.
  • The dip in concentration of NO2 was due to decline in the number of fires.
  • The total area of savanna burned in sub-Saharan Africa is getting smaller each year as more people move into densely populated cities and towns, and as farming techniques and agricultural land use changes.




South Africa’s TB problem

  • South Africa’s long-awaited tuberculosis (TB) prevalence survey results were recently released. This is the first national prevalence survey of its kind for TB in South Africa.
  • TB prevalence surveys are difficult and expensive to do, and so are not carried out routinely, but have been done in many high burden countries following a World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation in 2007.
  • The results show that South Africa has a far higher number of people with TB than previously thought. And many people are living with TB who have not been diagnosed or treated.
  • It shows that prevalence of TB in South Africa in 2018 was 737 per 100,000. Prevalence was lowest in younger people (15-24 years) and peaked in those between the ages of 35 abd 44, and adults older than 65.
  • To be included in the TB statistics reported to the WHO, someone has to have visited the clinic for care, had their sputum tested, received a positive result and started TB treatment.
  • People with TB who are missed or whose treatment is delayed may suffer prolonged ill-health. They may be unable to undertake normal daily activities, and be unable to work, resulting in economic hardship for themselves and their families.
  • In addition, the longer a person has untreated TB, the more likely they are to pass the infection to other people and continue the cycle.
  • TB is airborne and highly infectious. It spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or even speaks, and people nearby breathe in the bacteria.




India’s Oil Supplier

Why in News?

  • The United States overtook Saudi Arabia as India’s second biggest oil supplier last month, as refiners boosted cheaper US crude purchases to record levels to offset Opec+ supply cuts.
  • India’s imports from the United States – the world’s top producer – rose 48% in February from the prior month, accounting for 14% of overall imports last month.
  • In contrast, February imports from Saudi Arabia fell by 42% from the previous month to a decade-low.
  • Saudi Arabia, which has consistently been one of India’s top two suppliers, slipped to No. 4 for the first time since at least January 2006.
  • India, the world’s third biggest oil importer and consumer, had repeatedly called on major oil producers to ease supply curbs to aid global economic recovery and had pointed to Saudi Arabia’s voluntary cuts for contributing to a spike in global oil prices.
  • Iraq continued to be the top oil seller to India despite a 23% decline in purchases to a five-month low.




Retinal Scan Technology To Identify Early Childhood Autism

Why in News?

  • A Hong Kong scientist has developed a method to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to scan retinas of children as young as six to detect early autism or the risk of autism and hopes to develop a commercial product this year.
  • His method uses a high-resolution camera with new computer software which analyses a combination of factors including fibre layers and blood vessels in the eye.
  • The technology can be used to identify children at risk of autism and get them into treatment programmes sooner.
  • The technology was able to identify the children with autism 95.7 percent of the time.

What is autism?

  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.
  • There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people.
  • The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged.
  • Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.