Current Affairs August 21

Somnath Temple


  • The Somnath temple (also known as the Deo Patan) located in Veraval in Saurashtra on the western coast of Gujarat, India is believed to be the first among the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva.
  • It is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot of Gujarat. Reconstructed several times in the past after repeated destruction by several Muslim invaders and rulers,
  • the present mandir was reconstructed in the Chaulukya style of Hindu temple architecture and completed in May 1951
  • The site of Somnath has been a pilgrimage site from ancient times on account of being a triveni sangam (the confluence of three rivers: Kapila, Hiran and the mythical Saraswati)
  • According to popular tradition documented by J. Gordon Melton, the first Shiva temple at Somnath is said to have been built at some unknown time in the past.
  • The second temple is said to have been built at the same site by the “Yadava kings” of Vallabhi around 649 CE. In 725 CE,
  • Al-Junayd, the Arab governor of Sindh is said to have destroyed the second temple as part of his invasions of Gujarat and Rajasthan.
  • The Gurjara-Pratihara king Nagabhata II is said to have constructed the third temple in 815 CE, a large structure of red sandstone
  • Nagabhata II is known to have visited tirthas in Saurashtra, including Someshvara (the Lord of the Moon), which may or may not be a reference to a Shiva temple because the town itself was known by that name.
  • The Chaulukya (Solanki) king Mularaja possibly built the first temple at the site sometime before 997 CE, even though some historians believe that he may have renovated a smaller earlier temple.
  • In 1024, during the reign of Bhima I, the prominent Turkic Muslim ruler Mahmud of Ghazni raided Gujarat, plundering the Somnath temple and breaking its jyotirlinga. H
  • During its 1299 invasion of Gujarat, Alauddin Khalji’s army, led by Ulugh Khan, defeated the Vaghela king Karna, and sacked the Somnath temple.
  • Fall of Kabul, the future of regional politics
  • What is most disconcerting is the regional power vacuum in the Eurasian heartland created by the haphazard manner in which the United States withdrew from Afghanistan and its potential knock-on effects.
  • An axis of regional powers such as China, Pakistan, Russia, and the Taliban, have already started filling this power vacuum, shaping, thereby, the contours of the region’s geopolitics based on their individual and common interests.
  • What is abundantly clear is that each of these countries harbour deep anti-American feelings in varying degrees which will further shrink the American influence in the Eurasian heartland.
  • Beijing will further strengthen its efforts to bring every country in the region, except India, on the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative bandwagon, thereby altering the geopolitical and geoeconomic foundations of the region.
  • More so, the much-feared Chinese encirclement of India will become ever more pronounced
  • The bigger challenge for India though would be a near-certain increase in terrorism and extremism in the region
  • It is unlikely that the Taliban will proactively export terror to other countries
  • The return of the Taliban to Kabul has effectively laid India’s ‘mission Central Asia’ to rest.
  • the rise of the anti-America axis (China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan and a Taliban-led Afghanistan) and anti-American sentiments in the region would impact India’s regional interests given that it has become closer to the U.S. than ever before in its history



Faith and marriage


  • A regressive and patently unconstitutional feature of recent anti-conversion laws enacted by different States is the criminalisation of inter-faith marriages by treating them as a means to convert one of the parties from one religion to another
  • The Gujarat HC has made it clear that the “rigours” of the State’s amendments introduced earlier this year will not apply to marriages that do not involve any fraud, force or allurement.
  • So, it has stopped the initiation of criminal proceedings against those who have married across religious faiths, unless there was any of these illegal elements.
  • A Bench has rejected the State government’s attempt to adopt an innocent reading of the provisions of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021, by claiming that inter-faith marriages that did not involve fraud or coercion and leading to conversion would not attract the penal provisions
  • Gujarat law’s provisions “interfere with the intricacies of marriage” and an individual’s right to choice, thereby infringing Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • The principle that the right to marry a person of one’s choice is integral to Article 21 flows from the verdict in Shafin Jahan vs Asokan




  • The Geological Survey of India (GSI) has identified certain geological sites across the Northeast for promotion of geo-tourism.
  • Geotourism is defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the distinctive geographical character of a place—its environment, heritage, aesthetics, culture, and the well-being of its residents.


Smart health card


  • Distribution of a smart health card, which will help families get treatment up to ₹5 lakh per annum.
  • About 3.5 crore poor people will benefit from the State-funded health debit card system. ‘
  • No frill system’ Under the Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana (BSKY), women members of the family can get treatment up to ₹10 lakh in a year.
  • With this card, people can avail themselves of quality healthcare service in about 200 hospital chains in the country, including Odisha


Zycov -D


  • Zydus Cadila’s three-dose COVID-19 DNA vaccine for emergency use in adults and children aged 12 years and above, bringing in the sixth vaccine authorised for use in the country.
  • ZyCoV-D is the world’s first plasmid DNA vaccine against the coronavirus. It uses a section of genetic material from the virus that gives instructions as either DNA or RNA to make the specific protein that the immune system recognises and responds to.
  • Zydus Cadila’s vaccine, developed in partnership with the Department of Biotechnology

About Plasmid DNA

  • A plasmid is a small, extrachromosomal DNA molecule within a cell that is physically separated from chromosomal DNA and can replicate independently.
  • They are most commonly found as small circular, double-stranded DNA molecules in bacteria;
  • However, plasmids are sometimes present in archaea and eukaryotic organisms


SC on arrest


  • The Supreme Court has held that merely because law allows arrest does not mean the State can use the power indiscriminately to crush personal liberty.
  • “We may note that personal liberty is an important aspect of our constitutional mandate.
  • The occasion to arrest an accused during investigation arises when custodial investigation becomes necessary or it is a heinous crime or where there is a possibility of influencing the witnesses or accused may abscond.
  • Merely because an arrest can be made because it is lawful does not mandate that arrest must be made
  • “If arrest is made routine, it can cause incalculable harm to the reputation and self-esteem of a person. If the Investigating Officer has no reason to believe that the accused will abscond or disobey summons and has, in fact, throughout cooperated with the investigation we fail to appreciate why there should be a compulsion on the officer to arrest the accused,”