Khajuraho – Temples of Architectural Splendour
(Topic: Ancient History)
- Made in the tenth century; UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Temples are famous for their nagara-style architectural symbolism and their erotic sculptures
- The erotic expression is given equal importance in human experience as spiritual pursuit, and it is seen as part of a larger cosmic whole. Many Hindu temples therefore feature mithun (embracing couple) sculptures, considered auspicious. Usually, they are placed at the entrance of the temple or on an exterior wall or they may also be placed on the walls between the mandapa and the main shrine.
- Socio-economic status of women: Khajuraho complex of temples is yet another excellent example of sculptures representing women in different roles. For example on Kandariya laxmana temple we can see a women with a purse in hand purchasing stuff from market showcases economic independence and her ability to make choice. We can also see women are supremely confident when it comes to exploring their sexuality. Practice of polyandry is evident on temple walls
- The other notable example at Khajuraho is Kandariya Mahadeo temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
- There are many temples at Khajuraho, most of them devoted to Hindu gods.
- There are some Jain temples as well as a Chausanth Yogini temple, which is of interest. Predating the tenth century, this is a temple of small, square shrines of roughly-hewn granite blocks, each dedicated to esoteric devis or goddesses associated with the rise of Tantric worship after the seventh century.Several such temples were dedicated to the cult of the yoginis across Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Tamil Nadu.
- Hindu Temples: Kandariya Temple, Mahadev Temple, Devi Jagadamba Temple, Chitragupta Temple, Vishwanatha Temple, Parvati Temple Lakshmana or Chaturbhuja Temple, Varaha Temple, Chaunsat Yogini Temple
- Jain Temples – Parshvanatha and Ghantai temple
The Lakshmana temple
- Dedicated to Vishnu is the grandest temple of Khajuraho, built in 954 by the Chandela king, Dhanga. Its construction was completed by 954, the year as per the inscription found at the base of the temple, by Yashovarman, the seventh ruler of the Chandella dynasty.
- The temples at Khajuraho are all made of sandstone. They were patronized by the Chandella dynasty.
- The temple plan is of a panchayana type.
- The temple is constructed on a heavy plinth. It consists of an ardhamandapa (porch), mandapa (porch), the maha mandapa (greater hall) and the garbhagriha with vimana.
- Many erotic sculptures are carved on the plinth wall. Some erotic sculptures are carved on the actual wall of the temple.
- An image of Chaturmukha Vishnu is in the garbhagriha.
- There are images of Vishnu in three shrines and Surya in one, which can be identified by the central image on the lintel of the shrine-doors.
- A nagara temple, it is placed on a high platform accessed by stairs. There are four smaller temples in the corners, and all the towers or shikharas rise high, upward in a curved pyramidal fashion, emphasising the temple’s vertical thrust ending in a horizontal fluted disc called an amalak topped with a kalash or vase.The crowning elements: amalak and kalash, are to be found on all nagara temples of this period.
- The temple also has projecting balconies and verandahs
A. Amendments to the Finance Bill, 2021
- The Government amendments to the Finance Bill, 2021 shall provide equity and inclusiveness to all the taxpayers by addressing stakeholders concerns arising out of amendments proposed in the Bill.
- The Government amendments to the Finance Bill, 2021 are tax proposals which shall generate timely revenue for the Government and streamline existing provisions by addressing grievances of the taxpayers.
B. Memorandum of Understanding between the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand
The MRA intends to develop mutually beneficial relationship in the best interest of members, students and their organizations and is expected to provide an opportunity to the ICAI members to expand their professional horizons and to foster working relations between the two accounting institutes. The two accountancy institutes will have an opportunity to play the leadership role in addressing new challenges facing the profession in a globalized environment.
Benefits: The engagement between the two Institutes is expected to result in greater employment opportunities for Indian Chartered Accountants and also greater remittances back to India.
C. MoU between Competition Commission of India (CCI) and Administrative Council for Economic Defense of Brazil (CADE): Section 18 of the Competition Act, 2002 permits CCI to enter into any Memorandum or arrangement with any agency of any foreign country for the purpose of discharging its duties or performing its functions under the Act. Accordingly, CCI has entered into the following six MoUs:
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice (DOJ), USA
- Director General Competition, European Union
- Federal Antimonopoly Service, Russia
- Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and
- Competition Bureau, Canada and
- BRICS Competition Authorities.
MoU between the India and Bangladesh on the establishment of a framework of cooperation in the area of trade remedial measures
The primary objective of the MOU is to promote cooperation between the two countries in the area of Trade Remedies, covering the broad activities related to exchange of information, undertaking capacity building activities and activities in accordance with various provisions of World Trade Organization in the area of anti-dumping, countervailing and safeguard measures in bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh.
The MOU seeks to foster better cooperation between the relevant authorities of both the countries so as to discourage unfair trade practices and promote rule based bilateral trading between the two countries.
India and Germany sign agreement on ‘Cities combating plastic entering the marine environment’
(Topic: India and its relations with Germany)
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Government of India and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH India on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety signed an agreement on Technical Cooperation titled ‘Cities Combating Plastic Entering the Marine Environment’.
- This project is envisaged under the contours of the Joint Declaration of Intent regarding cooperation in the field of ‘Prevention of Marine Litter’ signed between Republic of India and Federal Republic of Germany in 2019.
- The project, aimed at enhancing practices to prevent plastic entering the marine environment, will be undertaken at the national level (at MoHUA), select states (Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Andaman & Nicobar Islands) and in the cities of Kanpur, Kochi and Port Blair for a period of three and a half years.
Marine litter threatens ecosystems and adversely affects fishery and tourism industries around the globe. In addition to negative economic impact, it affects public health with increased concerns about micro-plastic and risk of particles entering the food chain. In recent times, the level of plastic waste that has accumulated in our oceans and marine ecosystems through the increasing production and use of durable synthetic materials has alarmed the public and policy makers alike. It is estimated that 15-20% of all plastics are entering oceans via riverine ecosystems of which 90% are contributed by 10 of the world’s most polluting rivers. Two of these river systems are located in India, namely Ganga and Brahmaputra.
Whilst accurate data on plastic waste and marine litter in particular is largely unavailable for most parts of the country, this project will support the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban’s implementation with special focus on preventing plastic litter entering the rivers and water bodies at source. To this end, cities will be enabled to improve collection, segregation and marketing of plastic waste, to prevent plastic disposal to water bodies, and to improve handling of port and marine waste. This will be combined with data management and reporting systems, civil society involvement and increased cooperation with recyclers and the recycling industry through a digital platform. This is expected to foster improvements in segregation, collection, transportation, treatment and disposal of waste in municipalities, thereby establishing an efficient system, which ensures no waste finds its way into rivers or oceans.
Leaders’ Summit on Climate
(Topic: Climate change)
The Summit is a part of a series of global meetings focusing on climate issues, being held in the run up to COP26 in November 2021.
Launch of the India-US Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership – The Partnership will proceed along two main tracks: the Strategic Clean Energy Partnership and the Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogue, which will build on and subsume a range of existing processes. Through this collaboration, India and the United States aim to demonstrate how the world can align swift climate action with inclusive and resilient economic development, taking into account national circumstances and sustainable development priorities.
- Pledged to cut emissions by 50 to 52 per cent of its 2005 levels by 2030. This is double the 2015 goal set by former President Barack Obama.
- The US rejoined the Paris Agreement three months ago, after former President Donald Trump’s decision to leave the multilateral forum made it the only country in the world to do so. Biden’s announcements re-assert the US’s commitment in the run-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November in Glasgow.
- US will double its public climate financing development to developing countries and triple public financing for climate application in developing countries by 2024.
- We must be committed to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities… Developing countries now face multiple challenges to combat Covit-19, grow the economy, and address climate change. We need to give full recognition to developing countries’ contribution to climate action and accommodate their particular difficulties and concerns.
- Developed countries need to increase climate ambition and action. At the same time, they need to make concrete efforts to help developing countries strengthen the capacity and resilience against climate change, support them in financing, technology, and capacity building, and refrain from creating green trade barriers, so as to help developing countries accelerate the transition to green and low-carbon development.
- Promoted China’s “green Belt and Road Initiative” and announced efforts to “strictly control coal-fired power generation projects” and phase down coal consumption.
- China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has pledged that its emissions will peak by around 2030. From that point, the country will then aim to get down to net zero emissions by 2060. China has also laid out some concrete targets, such as getting one-quarter of its electricity from low-carbon sources like wind, solar or nuclear power; planting vast new forests; and curbing the use of hydro-fluorocarbons, a powerful greenhouse gas used as a refrigerant.
- Britain was first country to pass legislation for net zero, have the biggest offshore wind capacity of any country in the world. The country is halfway to net zero.
- The UK had announced a target of 78 per cent emission reductions by 2035 (compared to 1990 levels).
- The country wants to reduce emissions by 55 per cent by 2030 as compared to 1990 levels.
PM Modi –
“Together we will help mobilise investments, demonstrate clean technologies, and enable green collaborations… India’s per capita carbon footprint is 60 per cent lower than the global average. It is because our lifestyle is still rooted in sustainable traditional practices. Today, I want to emphasize the importance of lifestyle change in climate action. Sustainable lifestyles and guiding philosophies and back to basics must be an important feature of our economy in the post-Covid era,” Modi said.
“We in India are doing our part. Our ambitious renewable energy target of 450 gigahertz by 2030 shows our commitment. Despite our development challenges, we have taken many bold steps on clean energy, energy efficiency, deforestation, and biodiversity. That is why we are among the few countries whose NDCs are 2 degrees Celsius compatible.”
Emphasized India’s encouragement of global initiatives such as the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilience Infrastructure.
- Nationally Defined Contributions (NDCs) are each country’s goals towards achieving the Paris Agreement target of limiting rising temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius.
- Currently, the United States uses far more fossil fuels per person than almost any other country in the world, although China is quickly narrowing the gap.
Promotion of Hydrogen based technologies
(Topic: Climate change; New technology)
Eminent Experts, Scientists, and Technocrats from India and Japan discussed the most recent innovations, trends, concerns, and solutions adopted in the field of decarbonisation and promotion of Hydrogen based technologies at the India-Japan Webinar on De-carbonisation: Exploring the Hydrogen Prospects and Innovative Technologies.
Why with Japan: Japan is the first country to formulate a basic hydrogen strategy. Hydrogen is included in the fifth Energy plan of Japan. The country thus has a good ecosystem for R&D and commercialization, which could be used by the Scientific and Commercial Communities of the two countries. India and Japan have strategic relationships, and this has to be elevated to a strategic partnership enabling sharing of knowledge without any inhibition on Hydrogen and utilization of H2 in future
What has happened so far in India – DST, GoI has initiated several programmes to develop technologies to reduce the cost of hydrogen production, distribution, storage, diversify the feedstock available for hydrogen production, for example, biomass, agricultural waste and so on. DST has supported about 30 projects in last few years related to Hydrogen production, distribution, and storage at a cost of 5 Million US$, looking into new catalysts like producing hydrogen from water splitting.
Hydrogen has a potential role to play in major sectors in India. Given the scale of future demand, India should be proactive in manufacturing electrolysers to produce green hydrogen. A greater cross-sectoral coordination between the governments can help realize the economy benefits of hydrogen fuel. The key industries need to come together to catalyse decarbonisation allowing risk-sharing and minimizing the burden at the individual company level
Hydrogen Energy Mission (Hydrogen Economy)
To be launched in 2021-22 for generating hydrogen from green power sources
The demand: Demand for hydrogen is at around 6 metric tonne (MT) per annum, mainly from industry sectors, such as fertilizers and refineries. This can increase to around 28 MT by 2050 mainly due to cost reductions in key technologies and a push to reduce carbon footprint. Demand will mainly grow in steel and road transport, shipping and aviation sectors. The report also projected that India would require 40 MT of green hydrogen to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2060.
Production: Typically, hydrogen can be produced in one of three ways, i.e., from fossil fuels (grey hydrogen), through carbon capture utilisation & storage (CCUS) application and fossil fuels (blue hydrogen), or by using renewable energy (green hydrogen). In the case of green hydrogen, electricity generated from renewable energy is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen in an electrolyser. This is by far the cleanest and perhaps the most expensive method of producing hydrogen at the moment. Majority of the hydrogen production in India takes place via fossil fuels and is used primarily in the chemical and petrochemical sectors.
Focussing on the production of green hydrogen in India would mean significantly ramping up the current renewable energy infrastructure across the country.
- Hydrogen does not occur freely in nature in useful quantities.
- It can be made from natural gas or it can be made by passing electric current through water.
- When hydrogen is burned, it only emits water vapour and carbon dioxide (CO2) is not produced.
- It is more efficient than internal combustion engine.
- Although hydrogen is a clean molecule, the process of extracting it is energy-intensive. Also, manufacturing hydrogen fuel based vehicle is expensive.
The sources and processes by which hydrogen is derived, are categorised by colour tabs.
- Hydrogen produced from fossil fuels is called grey hydrogen; this constitutes the bulk of the hydrogen produced today.
- Hydrogen generated from fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage options is called blue hydrogen;
- Hydrogen generated entirely from renewable power sources is called green hydrogen. In the last process, electricity generated from renewable energy is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
The case for green hydrogen
Green hydrogen has specific advantages.
- Environment Friendly: Green Hydrogen as energy source is seen as the next big thing as its usage would lead to zero emissions
- Potential to Decarbonise various sectors: It is a clean burning molecule, which can decarbonise a range of sectors including iron and steel, chemicals, and transportation.
- Efficient utilization of Renewable Energy: Renewable energy that cannot be stored or used by the grid can be channelled to produce hydrogen.
- Reduced Dependence on Rare Minerals: Green Hydrogen also holds the key to clean electric mobility that doesn’t depend on rare minerals. Green Hydrogen helps achieve long-term vision of reduced dependency on minerals and rare-earth element-based battery as energy storage.
- Helps Achieve Paris Goal: Green hydrogen energy is vital for India to meet its Nationally Determined Contributions and ensure regional and national energy security, access and availability
- Energy Security: Green energy helps reduce import dependency on fossil fuels
EXERCISE VARUNA – 2021: Indian and French Navy bilateral exercise
World Liver Day: 19th April; According to the Health Ministry, India has become the first country in the world to identify the need for action for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.
- Operational guidelines have been launched for the integration of NAFLD with the National Programme for Prevention & Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases, and Stroke.
- NAFLD is an umbrella term for a range of liver conditions affecting people who drink little to no alcohol.
- Main characteristic of NAFLD is too much fat stored in liver cells.
- It is becoming increasingly common around the world, especially in Western nations.
- Some individuals with NAFLD can develop non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
- NASH is an aggressive form of fatty liver disease, marked by liver inflammation which may progress to advanced scarring (cirrhosis) and liver failure.
India’s Agriculture trade grows during 2020-21
- Despite the pandemic export of Agri and allied commodities during Apr, 2020 – Feb, 2021 shows an increase of 18.49%
- India has witnessed tremendous growth of 727% for Wheat export and 132% for (Non-Basmati) Rice export during 2020-21
Launch of e-property cards under SWAMITVA scheme
- 4.09 lakh property owners were given their e-property cards on this occasion, which also marked the rolling out of the SVAMITVA scheme for implementation across the country.
- SVAMITVA, a Central Sector Scheme of Ministry of Panchayati Raj was launched by the Prime Minister on National Panchayati Raj Day, 24th April 2020.
- The scheme aims to provide the ‘record of rights’ to village household owners in rural abadi areas and issuance of Property cards.
Startup India Seed Fund Scheme
- The Fund aims to provide financial assistance to startups for proof of concept, prototype development, product trials, market entry, and commercialization.
- Rs. 945 Crore corpus will be divided over the next 4 years for providing seed funding to eligible startups through eligible incubators across India. The scheme is expected to support an estimated 3,600 startups through 300 incubators.
- SISFS will Secure seed funding, Inspire innovation, Support transformative ideas, Facilitate implementation, and Start startup revolution.
- Will create a robust startup ecosystem, particularly in Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns of India, which are often deprived of adequate funding.
12th National Panchayati Raj Day
24th April, 1993 marks a defining moment in the history of decentralization of power to the grassroots, with the institutionalization of Panchayati Raj, through the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 which came into force with effect from that day. Ministry of Panchayati Raj commemorates 24th April of every year as the National Panchayati Raj Day (राष्ट्रीय पंचायती राज दिवस) (NPRD), as the 73rd Constitutional Amendment came into force on this date. This occasion provides an opportunity for direct dialogue with Panchayat representatives from all over the country as well as recognizing their achievements to empower and motivate them further.
Every year, on this occasion, Ministry of Panchayati Raj has been awarding the best performing Panchayats/States/UTs across the country under the Incentivization of Panchayats in recognition of their good work for improving delivery of services and public goods. Awards are given under various categories namely, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Panchayat Sashaktikaran Puraskar (DDUPSP), Nanaji Deshmukh Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Puraskar (NDRGGSP), Child-friendly Gram Panchayat Award (CFGPA), Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) Award and e-Panchayat Puraskar (given to States/UTs only).
The festival is considered to be the most important one for Jains and marks the birth anniversary of Lord Mahavir.
Lord Mahavir was one of the most charismatic and influential spiritual leaders to have walked the earth. His messages of nonviolence, truth, honesty, selflessness and sacrifice are timeless and full of universal compassion. He preached the gospel of universal love and emphasized that all living beings, including plants and animals, are equal and deserved to be treated with love and respect.
We must draw inspiration from Lord Mahavir’s life, his practice of austerity, his stress on the need to adopt a positive attitude towards life and his messages of love, tolerance and peace, especially now, when humanity is facing a formidable health crisis of the spread of COVID-19.
- Lord Mahavira was born at Kundagrama, Vaishali in present day Bihar. Siddartha and Trishala are parents of Mahavira
- Mahavira was associated with Makari Gosala Putta for 6 years, but later departed due to serious philosophical differences.
- Then Mahavira joined Nigrantha sect, while Makari Gosala Putta started Ajivika religion.
- After Mahavira, Jainism came under the control of 11 disciples of Mahavira, namely Ganadharas
- Associated symbol: Lion
The three principles of Jainism, also known as Triratnas (threegems), are:
- Right faith
- Right knowledge
- Right conduct
- Jainism predates Buddhism, while Buddha was older than Mahavira.
- According to Mahavira, a person is born in a high or in a lower varna in consequence of the sins or the virtues acquired by him in the previous birth.
- The Hathigumpha Inscription proves that Jainism entered Orissa and probably became the state religion within 100 years of death of Mahavira.
- The teachings of the Parshvanatha are collectively known as Chaturyama. It is the the “four-fold teaching” of the Parshvanath.
- The Mahamastakabhisheka, refers to the abhiṣheka of the Jain images when held on a large scale. The most famous of such consecrations is the anointment of the Bahubali Gommateshwara Statue located at Shravanabelagola in Karnataka, India. It is an important Jain festival held once in every 12 years.
Spread of Jainism
- Through Sangha, Mahavira spread his teaching that consists of women & Men in the organized sangha.
- Under the patronage of Chandragupta Maurya, Kharaveli of Kalinga and the royal dynasties of south India such as the Gangas, the Kadambas, the Chalukyas and the Rashtrkutas.
- There are two sect of Jainism- Svetambar (White Clad) and Digambar (Sky clad or Naked).
- First Jain Council was convened at Patliputra presided by Sthaulabhadra who was the leader of Shwetambar during 3rd century BC. It resulted in the compilation of 12 Angas replacing the lost 14 Purvas.
- Second Council – Second Jain Council was held at Vallabhi under the chairmainship of Devardhi in 521 A.D.
Additionally – What is Tirtha?
- A Tirtha is a religious pilgrim place.
- Most tirths in India of any religion are based upon the banks of Rivers.
- The idea of a Tirtha is to cross the river of human miseries.
- A Tirthankara is a founder of a Tirtha. He achieves the enlightenment and then shows the path to others.
- A Tirthankara achieves Moksha or liberation at the end of his human life.