National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 23rd March 2019

Tribal artists on online platform

Topic: Culture

In News: The paintings of tribal artists from the remote Agency areas of Telangana have literally arrived on a global platform, thanks to Amazon, the largest e-commerce market place.

More on the Topic:

  • The idea to provide a wider platform to the paintings came when the Tribal Welfare Department and the Tribal Museum, working closely with the tribal communities, recognised the appeal of their traditional painting practices.
  • The Gond paintings stand out for use of bright colours and intricate lines. The Gond art mostly represents a tree emerging out of birds (peacocks) and animals (ox, horse, deer, elephant and tiger).
  • The Koya artists draw on the surface motifs of their sacred ‘Hariveni’ posts, sacred flags and big bottle gourds.
  • The paintings of Naikpod tribals are reflections of face masks of their kings, Pandavas like Bheema, and traditional village temple deities.

Some of the Important Tribal Arts Of India:

  • Madhubani/Mithala painting is one of the most popular a folk arts from our country, an art form passed down for generations from mother to daughter in the northern part of Bihar, Madhubanior Mithila.
  • The paintings are usually mythological, covering stories of Ram-Sita, Krishna-Radha, Ganesh, and so on to a floral, animal and bird motif backgrounds with hardly any empty space left.
  • The Warlis are an indigenous tribe residing around the mountainous and coastal areas of Maharashtra/Gujarat border. Everything about warli painting it is earthy and soothing. From the fragrance of wet soil, to the very basic graphic vocab – a circle, a triangle and a square, the paintings capture elegance and charm.
  • Gond art form has been developed by the Gondi tribe of Central India. The word Gond is derived from the Dravidian expression kond which means ‘the green mountain’. The art form celebrates everything that the nature offers – the hills, forests and streams etc.
  • Originating from the Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh, Bhil is a distinctive art form deeply rooted in the culture of a tribal community of the same name. Just like the Gonds, Bhils believe paintings are the best form of offering prayers. Each painting is composed of myriad dots creating different patterns.

Source: The Hindu

Govt. earns Rs. 85,000 crore from disinvestment

Topic: Economy

In News: According to finance minister, as against a target of Rs. 80,000 crore for disinvestment for the current year, the divestment receipts have touched Rs. 85,000.

More on the Topic:

  • For the second year in a row, DIPAM(Department of Investment and Public Asset Management) has exceeded the Revised Estimates. During the current FY, DIPAM has realised the proceeds through 28 transactions.” In 2017-18, the government had earned a little more than Rs. 1 lakh crore from disinvestments against a target of Rs. 72,500 crore.

About Disinvestment:

  • Investment refers to the conversion of money or cash into securities, debentures, bonds or any other claims on money. As follows, disinvestment involves the conversion of money claims or securities into money or cash.
  • The new economic policy initiated in July 1991 clearly indicated that PSUs had shown a very negative rate of return on capital employed. Inefficient PSUs had become and were continuing to be a drag on the Government’s resources turning to be more of liabilities to the Government than being assets.
  • Hence, the need for the Government to get rid of these units and to concentrate on core activities was identified. The Government also took a view that it should move out of non-core businesses, especially the ones where the private sector had now entered in a significant way. Finally, disinvestment was also seen by the Government to raise funds for meeting general/specific needs.
  • In this direction, the Government adopted the ‘Disinvestment Policy’. This was identified as an active tool to reduce the burden of financing the PSUs. The following main objectives of disinvestment were outlined:
  • To reduce the financial burden on the Government
  • To improve public finances
  • To introduce, competition and market discipline
  • To fund growth
  • To encourage wider share of ownership
  • To depoliticise non-essential services

About DIPAM:

  • The DIPAM works under Union Finance Ministry and it will deal with all matters relating to management of central government investments in equity including disinvestment of equity in central public sector undertakings.
  • It will also deal with all matters relating to sale of central government equity through offer for sale or private placement or any other mode in the erstwhile central public sector undertakings.
  • All other post disinvestment matters shall continue to be handled by the Union administrative ministry or concerned department with the consultation of DIPAM on necessity.

Model Mains Question: Analyse the importance of disinvestment for Indian Economy and state the government initiatives in this regard.

Source: The Hindu

Golan Heights

Topic: International Affairs

In News: President Donald Trump has overturned decades of US policy by saying it is time to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in 1967.

More on the topic:

  • The Golan Heights, a rocky plateau in south-western Syria, has a political and strategic significance which belies its size. Whoever controls this area has a major strategic advantage.
  • Golan Heights is the area captured from Syria and occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War, territory which Israel annexed in 1981.
  • Israel unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981. The move was not recognised internationally.
  • Having control of the Golan gives Israel a vantage point from which to monitor any Syrian military movements towards Israel.
  • The area is a key source of water for an arid region. Rainwater from the Golan’s catchment feeds into the Jordan River. The area provides a third of Israel’s water supply.
  • The land is fertile, with the volcanic soil being used to cultivate vineyards and orchards and to raise cattle.

Source: The Hindu

World Water Day

Topic: Environment and Ecology

In News: Advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources, World Water Day is celebrated every year on March 22.

More On the Topic:

  • It was institued in the year 1993 to build public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world.
  • The theme for World Water Day 2019 is ‘Leaving no one behind’. This is an adaptation of the central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: as sustainable development progresses, everyone must benefit.

Water crisis in India

  • As many as one billion people in India live in areas of physical water scarcity, of which 600 million are in areas of high to extreme water stress, according to a new report.
  • India is currently ranked 120 among 122 countries in the water quality index.
  • India’s rate of groundwater depletion increased by 23 percent during 2000-2010 period.
  • India uses the largest amount of groundwater — 24 percent of the global total, more than that of China and the US combined – and is the third largest exporter of groundwater — 12 percent of the global total.
  • Wheat and rice were the two most important and highest water-guzzling crops that India produced. Though replacement of rice and wheat crops is challenging, in an ideal scenario, the choice of crop needs to be matched with ecology and the amount of water available in the area it is being produced in.

Model Mains Question: India uses the largest amount of groundwater 24 percent of the global total, more than that of China and the US combined. Examine the implications of overexploitation of ground water and suggest measures for attaining water security in the country.

Source:The Hindu

Stubble burning-Menace

Topic: Environment and Ecology

In News: A team of Swiss and Indian researchers who interviewed 600 farmers over two years said that only educating farmers about the monetary costs of burning stubble can address the environmental crisis triggered every year in Punjab.

More on the Topic

  • Burning stubble, the rice chaff left over after harvesting, is linked to winter air-pollution in the State as well as down-wind Delhi.
  • According to the team, the government’s efforts earmarking funds for specialised farming equipment (for straw management) or enforcing the state-led ban on the practice — are unlikely to solve the problem.
  • Farmer cooperative groups a key link between government and farmers  ought to be playing a more active role in educating farmers.


  • On average, about 20 million tonnes of straw are generated in Punjab, and they barely have two to three weeks to dispose them of and prepare the fields for the next crop. Hence the popularity of deploying stubble-burning as a quick and cheap solution.
  • For about a decade now, the Delhi and the Centre have held this practice responsible for the abysmal air quality in the capital in winter.
  • The Centre has spent about ₹600 crore in subsidising farm equipment via village cooperatives to enable farmers to access them and avoid stubble burning.
  • In 2018, Punjab had disbursed about 8,000 farm implements to individual farmers and set up 4,795 custom hiring centres, from where such machinery could be leased. The cost of hiring these machines was about ₹5,000 an acre.
  • However, the success of these efforts has been mixed, even though stubble-fires in 2018 were fewer than in 2017 and 2016, according to satellite maps by independent researchers.

Source:  The Hindu

Forest Certification

Topic: Environment and Ecology

In News: India now has a globally recognised forest-certification scheme developed specifically for Indian forests.

More on the Topic:

  • Recently, a Geneva-based non-profit decided to approve the Certification Standard for Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) developed by Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF), an Indian non-profit initiative.
  • Forest certification, a global movement initiated in 1990s after Rio Earth Summit, is a market-based non-regulatory conservation tool designed to promote sustainable management of forests and trees outside forests by an independent third party.
  • As several developed countries have put trade restrictions on import of non-certified timber, non-timber forest products and wood-based goods into their countries, getting sustainable forest management certificates has become mandatory for exports.

NCCF Forest Certification:

  • “The NCCF’s forest certification scheme is aimed to improve India’s forest management regime that is often criticised for various issues ailing the sector such as forest rights, forest degradation, biodiversity losses, encroachments, lack of manpower, etc.
  • In fact, forest-based industries in India, particularly those for paper, boards, plywood, medium density fibreboard, furniture and handicrafts etc, have been pushing for forest certification to enhance their market accessibility to western markets including European Union and USA.
  • Buying products made from certified wood only will promote sustainable forest management. It is a key motive of  the ‘Green Good Deeds movement’.
  • It is an appropriate time to find the causes of these chronic problems through the lens of forest certification and third-party monitoring to suggest suitable and sustainable solutions to Indian forest management.

Source: The Hindu

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