National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 29th January 2019

Buddhist remains date back to Satavahana period

1

Topic: Art and Culture

IN NEWS: The Department of Archaeology and Museums has found Buddhist remains under the ‘garbhagriha’ (sanctum sanctorum) of Sivalayam at Kondaveedu fort. The remains date back to later Satavahana period–1st to 2nd century A.D.

More on the Topic:

  • The department has taken up conservation and restoration of two temples Sivalayam and Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple in the fort recently. The department officials found the remains during the process of dismantling the temple for reconstruction. A petal design on railing piece, stupa, pillar etc were unearthed from the site.
  • The discovery of the ‘Buddhist remains’ push back the hoary past of the historic Kondaveedu fort to the Satavahana period.

About Satvahana Dynasty:

  • The Satavahanas also referred to as the Andhras in the Puranas, were an ancient Indian dynasty based in the Deccan region.
  • Most modern scholars believe that the Satavahana rule began in the first century BCE and lasted until the second century CE, although some assign the beginning of their rule to as early as the 3rd century BCE.
  • The Satavahana kingdom mainly comprised the present-day Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. At different times, their rule extended to parts of modern Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka. The dynasty had different capital cities at different times, including Pratishthana (Paithan) and Amaravati (Dharanikota).
  • The origin of the dynasty is uncertain, but according to the Puranas, their first king overthrew the Kanva dynasty. In the post-Maurya era, the Satavahanas established peace in the Deccan region, and resisted the onslaught of foreign invaders.
  • In particular their struggles with the Saka Western Satraps went on for a long time. The dynasty reached its zenith under the rule of Gautamiputra Satakarni and his successor Vasisthiputra Pulamavi. The kingdom fragmented into smaller states by the early 3rd century CE.
  • The Satavahanas were early issuers of Indian state coinage struck with images of their rulers. They formed a cultural bridge and played a vital role in trade and the transfer of ideas and culture to and from the Indo-Gangetic Plain to the southern tip of India. They supported Brahmanism as well as Buddhism, and patronised Prakrit literature.                  

Source:The Hindu

New Delhi superbug gene reaches the Arctic

2

Topic: Health

IN NEWS: In a significant find in the global spread of multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacteria, scientists have found a “superbug” gene — first detected in New Delhi over a decade back — in one of the last “pristine” places on Earth that is some 12,870 km away.

More on the Topic:

  • Soil samples taken in Svalbard — a Norwegian archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole — have now confirmed the spread of blaNDM-1 (called New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1) into the High Arctic.
  • This Antibiotic-Resistant Gene (ARG), originally found in Indian clinical settings, conditionally provides multi-drug resistance (MDR) in microorganisms.
  • British scientists later found the “superbug” in New Delhi’s public water supply. Since then, the resistant gene has been found in over 100 countries, including new variants.
  • Carried in the gut of animals and people, the new research said that blaNDM-1 and other ARGs were found in Arctic soils that were likely spread through the faecal matter of birds, other wildlife and human visitors to the area.

About New Delhi Super Bug:

  • New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase 1 is an enzyme that makes bacteria resistant to a broad range of beta-lactam antibiotics. These include the antibiotics of the carbapenem family, which are a mainstay for the treatment of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.
  • The gene for NDM-1 is one member of a large gene family that encodes beta-lactamase enzymes called carbapenemases. Bacteria that produce carbapenemases are often referred to in the news media as “superbugs” because infections caused by them are difficult to treat. Such bacteria are usually susceptible only to polymyxins and tigecycline.
  • The most common bacteria that make this enzyme are gram-negative such as Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae, but the gene for NDM-1 can spread from one strain of bacteria to another by horizontal gene transfer.

Source:The Hindu

Non-communicable diseases top killers in South-East Asia: WHO

3

Topic: Health

In news: Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) — mainly cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes and cancer — continue to be the top killers in the South-East Asia Region, claiming 8.5 million lives each year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

More on the Topic:

  • Containing the NCDs has been listed by the WHO as its health goal for this year along with reducing mortality related to air pollution and climate change, global influenza pandemic etc.
  • “One third of these deaths are premature and occur before the age of 70, affecting economically productive individuals.
  • The four ‘major’ NCDs are caused, to a large extent, by four modifiable behavioural risk factors: tobacco use, unhealthy diet, insufficient physical activity and harmful use of alcohol.
  • The NCDs disproportionately affect the poor, impoverish families, and place a growing burden on health care systems.
  • Non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, are collectively responsible for over 70% of all deaths worldwide, or 41 million people. These include 15 million people dying prematurely, aged between 30 and 69.

Way Forward:

  • A study conducted world-wide has noted that consuming fibre and whole grains can reduce health risks from non-communicable diseases such as heart disease.
  • The paper published in The Lancet indicates that eating fibre-rich foods reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer by 16% to 24%. A higher fibre intake is also associated with lower bodyweight, systolic blood pressure and total cholesterol when compared with lower intake.

Source: The Hindu

‘India can’t handle more big cats’en northeastern States

4

Topic: Environment and Ecology

In news: While conservation efforts are aimed at increasing the tiger count in India, global experts and officials in the government suggest that India must also prepare for a new challenge — of reaching the limits of its management capacity.

More on the Topic:

  • 25-35% of India’s tigers now lived outside protected reserves.
  • With dwindling core forests as well as the shrinking of tiger corridors (strips of land that allow tigers to move unfettered across diverse habitat), officials said there were several challenges — alongside the traditional challenges of poaching and man-animal conflict — to India’s success at tiger conservation.
  • Recent attempts at translocating tigers to unpopulated reserves, such as Satkosia in Orissa, have ended badly, with one of the tigers dying.
  • Overall, given the low availability of prey in some reserves, this is the capacity that can be supported. However, there are vast tracts of potential tiger habitat that can be used to improve prey density, develop tiger corridors and therefore support a much larger population.
  • Since 2006, the WII has been tasked with coordinating the tiger estimation exercise. The once-in-four-years exercise calculated, in 2006, that India had only 1,411 tigers. This rose to 1,706 in 2010 and 2,226 in 2014 on the back of improved conservation measures and new estimation methods.

Source: The Hindu

National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP)

Topic: Environment and Ecology

In news: ICAR has recently launched Rs 1100 crore ambitious National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP).

More on the Topic:

  • It is to attract talent and strengthen higher agricultural education in the country.
  • This project will be funded by the World Bank and the Indian Government on a 50:50
  • Student READY (Rural Entrepreneurship Awareness Development Yojana) scheme is being run in order to promote the participation of students in agricultural business.
  • Under the scheme practical experience of agriculture and entrepreneurship is provided to undergraduate students.
  • The second Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) of the country was also established in Barahi, Jharkhand.

About ICAR:

  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is an autonomous body responsible for co-ordinating agricultural education and research in India.
  • It reports to the Department of Agricultural Research and Education, Ministry of Agriculture.The Union Minister of Agriculture serves as its president.It is the largest network of agricultural research and education institutes in the world.
  • The Committee to Advise on Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education (Yashpal Committee, 2009) has recommended setting up of a constitutional body — the National Commission for Higher Education and Research — which would be a unified supreme body to regulate all branches of higher education including agricultural education.
  • Presently, regulation of agricultural education is the mandate of ICAR, Veterinary Council of India (Veterinary sub-discipline) and Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (Forestry sub-discipline).

Source: The Hindu

The Sarus crane

6

Topic: Environment and Ecology

In news:   Its population in Uttar Pradesh has steadily grown since 2013, as wetlands thrive and farmers, fisherfolk nurture their nests

More on the Topic:

  • Its numbers pushed to the edge by habitat degradation and human callousness, the world’s tallest flying bird now seems to be getting a new lease of life in Uttar Pradesh, where it enjoys the status of official State bird.
  • Official data shows the figure has been constantly increasing owing to conservation efforts in recent years; in 2013, only 12,000 Sarus cranes were recorded while in 2015, the number increased to 13,332 and further to 14,389 in 2016.
  • Towering at 152-156 cm, over 5 feet on average, the Sarus (Grus antigone) is not only the tallest flying bird in the world, it is also India’s only resident breeding crane, as per the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), a leading nature conservation organisation that works with the State wildlife department.
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has marked it as ‘vulnerable’ in its list of threatened species.

Source: The Hindu

Niti Aayog 2.0

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Topic: Polity and Governance

In news: In a paper titled ‘Towards India’s New Fiscal Federalism’, former Finance Commission chairman Vijay Kelkar has pitched for setting up of a ‘new Niti Aayog’ and giving it responsibility for allocating capital and revenue grants to the states.

More on the Topic:

  • Replacing the Planning Commission, which was promoting regionally balanced growth in India, by the Niti Aayog, a think tank, has reduced the government’s policy reach. Therefore, the need has arisen for an institution to do the job at hand related to the structural issues including removal of regional imbalances in the economy.
  • It will be responsible for allocating development or transformational capital or revenue grants to the states.

The changes Needed:

  • In order to make the new Niti Aayog more effective, it is essential to ensure that the institution is at the ‘High Table’ of decision making of the government. This means the vice-chairman of the new Niti Aayog will need to be a permanent invitee of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
  • It need not be involved with the approval of the state’s annual expenditure programmes. It should rather strive to be a think-tank with ‘praxis’ possessing considerable financial muscle and devote its energies to outline coherent medium and long term strategy and corresponding investment resources for transforming India.
  • New Niti Aayog will annually need the resources of around 1.5 to 2% of the GDP to provide suitable grants to the states for mitigating the development imbalances.
  • NITI Aayog is supposed to be a think tank. This implies that while generating new ideas, it maintains a respectable intellectual distance from the government of the day. Instead, we see uncritical praise of the Govt-sponsored schemes / programmes.

Source: The Hindu

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