• Current Affairs, 20 April 2020

    KARZAI WELCOMES INDIA’S INVOLVEMENT IN TALKS

    RELEVANT FOR: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS | TOPIC: INDIA – AFGHANISTAN

    • Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has welcomed the American gesture to bring in India into the ongoing negotiation for sustained peace in the war-torn country. The response followed hours after U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad discussed the state of the peace talks and the coronavirus crisis in South Asia with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.
    • “I have said this since the process began… I do hope India will join the peace process in support of a sovereign and united Afghanistan with a strong government, in keeping with the traditional friendship between India and Afghanistan,” Mr. Karzai, who met with Indian envoy to Afghanistan Vinay Kumar on Saturday, told The Hindu.
    • During his visit to Delhi in January, Mr. Karzai had also pitched for India’s support to the U.S.-Taliban and intra-Afghan process in meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
    • Khalilzad on Saturday made the move and said, “I reached out to Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar yesterday to discuss the latest on the Afghan peace process…” He said that both sides discussed the issue of release of prisoners. “We also spent some time covering the immediate and longer-term impact of the coronavirus.”
    • The development is significant as it came days after a six-nation talk on the Afghan scenario was held which had excluded India.

     

     

    COVID ASKS US TO HEED GANDHIAN PRINCIPLES OF SWADESHI, SWACHHATA AND SARVODAYA

    RELEVANT FOR: ETHICS | TOPIC: CONTRIBUTIONS OF MORAL THINKERS AND PHILOSOPHERS FROM INDIA

    • COVID-19is a wake-up call for the postmodern world. In line with the adage “every problem is an opportunity in disguise”, the present dramatic scenario of pandemic proportions spotlights the relevance of Mahatma Gandhi’s clarion call (articulated in his 1909-manifesto Hind Swaraj) to extricate ourselves from the mesmerisation of modernity. He even went as far as to discredit modernity’s alleged civilisational status as a “disease” to which we must endeavour not to fall victim. Whether this can be deemed an illustration of prophetic prescience or not, in any case, Gandhiji’s vituperative phraseology — admittedly constituting part of a polemical diatribe with the aim of subverting the legitimacy of the colonial enterprise, epitomised by his criticism of the railways (targeted strikingly as carriers and spreaders of epidemic disease!), law courts, modern medicine and English education — embodies for us today an uncanny significance as the virus spreads exponentially and the death toll is on the rise.
    • With modernity’s shining gloss getting unmasked as a deceptive mirage, it is dawning on us that our globalised lifestyle has made us weaker than ever (from a Gandhian perspective morally as well as physically). Admittedly, free trade, cheaper flights and social media have brought us closer than ever, but they are also making us more vulnerable. What is more, mass hysteria is on the rise as rumours and fake news are spreading faster than the virus. And yet, the primary victims are the “first world” including India’s and the South’s upwardly striving jet-setting elite, who until now enjoyed the specious privilege of living in an age of unparalleled sophistication, freedom and comfort, claiming supremacy over the natural world and mastery of science.
    • Yet with jeremiads blasting in the media that we are only a step or two away from disaster, not only the hubris of post-modernity (boasting to have conquered disease, etc.) but also its scourge of criminal injustice — in view of the glaring social and economic disparity — is exposed as the killer virus’s onslaught threatens the lives of unsuspecting millions living in extremely vulnerable conditions.
    • Confronted with this ominous scenario, let us recall Gandhiji’s allegorical premonition in a letter to Jawaharlal Nehru(October 5, 1945). He wrote: “When the moth approaches its doom it whirls round faster and faster till it is burnt up. It is possible that India will not be able to escape this moth-like circling. It is my duty to try, till my last breath, to save India and through it the world from such a fate.”
    • Gandhiji’s forebodings should summon us to urgently adopt a new mindset. Guided by his inspirational example, we are called upon to chart out a viable alternative model of polity that could extricate us from the contemporary impasse. His roadmap of integrating economics, politics and technology with ethics (all the while foregrounding the Daridranarayan’s well-being) can function as our sheet anchor in these precarious times.
    • More immediately, to mitigate the spread of the virus, for which allopathic medicine offers no cure, we should model ourselves on Gandhiji, the indomitable experimenter in naturopathy, to use effective preventive treatment (and household remedies), practise excellent personal hygiene, promote and ensure community sanitation, and restrict ourselves to our localities, avoiding long-distance travel and attendance at public assemblies.
    • In short, the Gandhian principles of swadeshi, swachhata and sarvodayashould be our guidelines. More comprehensively, rather than indulging in a globalised lifestyle, we should endeavour to respond to Gandhiji’s call for putting into practice a unique variant of “glocalisation” — learning to experience the entire world within the precincts of our immediate village or neighbourhood (in line with the Upanishadic dictum viswam prushtam grame asmin anaathuram), and to live in harmony with our environment, eschewing exploitative practices as far as possible.
    • Last but not least, in view of the catastrophic disruption caused in the global economy, this would be the ideal moment to focus on regenerating our rural economy to bring about Gandhi’s cherished dream of gram swaraj. Indeed in following his dictum “Be the change you want to see in the world” through “simple living and high thinking”, each of us can make our contribution towards redeeming humanity and Planet Earth and thereby, pay homage to the Mahatma.

     

    RISE IN DIGITAL TRANSACTIONS

    RELEVANT FOR: – INDIAN ECONOMY/ TOPICS: – BANKING SECTOR & NBFCS

    According to the recent Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data, the month of March 2020 (when Covid-19 lockdown began) saw a sharp rise in digital financial transactions countrywide.

    Important Points

    • The total value of Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS)transactions rose by 34% across banks.
    • It is the biggest online payment methodoffered by RBI.
    • The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)-run Unified Payments Interface (UPI), registered more than 125 crore transactions in March.
    • The numbers, however, dipped slightly compared to February as there was a dip in economic activity due to lockdown.
    • Recharges and bill paymentsas well as retail banking transactions, accounted for the majority of the volume of all the transactions.
    • NPCI-run Bharat Bill Paywas one of the beneficiaries, as it recorded 1.58 crore transactions in March as against 1.49 crore in February.
    • According to the data, the usage of cash and other cash-based services dipped during the period.
    • Cash withdrawals from ATMs as well as usage of various cards (debit, credit) have also gone down significantly.
    • This could be because people’s requirements for cash have fallen since the spending is mainly on essentials and necessities.
    • The government’s Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AePS)also saw a decline of 16.1 % in the number of transactions, in March.
    • The government uses AePS mostly for direct benefit transfer schemes.

    Real Time Gross Settlement 

    • RTGS is an electronic fund transfer methodthrough which money is sent on a ‘real time’ basis without any delays.
    • RTGS allows the money sent by the remitter to immediately reach the beneficiary as and when the money transfer transaction is initiated.
    • ‘Gross Settlement’ refers to the processing of transactions on an individual basisand not in a batch wise system.
    • Minimum amount that can be sent via RTGS mode is 2 lakhand has no maximum limit.
    • RTGS is not a 24×7 facilityand is available only during working hours of banks.

    Unified Payments Interface 

    • It is an advanced version ofImmediate Payment Service (IMPS)- round–the-clock funds transfer service to make cashless payments faster, easier and smoother.
    • UPI is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking features, seamless fund routing & merchant payments into one hood.
    • National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)launched UPI with 21 member banks in 2016.

    Bharat Bill Payment System

    • The Bharat bill payment system is driven by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
    • It is a one-stop ecosystem for payment of all billsproviding an interoperable and accessible “Anytime Anywhere” bill payment service to all customers across India with certainty, reliability and safety of transactions.

    Aadhaar enabled Payment System 

    • AePS is developed by theNational Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) that allows people to carry out financial transactions on a Micro-ATM by furnishing just their Aadhaar number and verifying it with the help of their fingerprint/iris scan.
    • With the help of this payment system, funds can be transferred from one bank account to another simply through their Aadhaar numbers.
    • This system adds another layer of security to financial transactions as bank details would no longer be requiredto be furnished while carrying out these transactions.

    National Payments Corporation of India

    • NPCI is an umbrella organization for all retail payments systems in India.
    • It was set up with the guidance and support of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA).
    • NPCI was established with following objectives –
    • To consolidate and integrate the existing multiple systems into a nation-wide uniform and standard business process for all retail payment systems.
    • To facilitate an affordable payment mechanism to benefit the common man across the country and propel financial inclusion.

     

    DRAFT NATIONAL LIST OF INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE

    RELEVANT FOR: –  INDIAN HERITAGE & CULTURE / TOPICS:- INDIAN ART FORMS, INDIAN MUSIC, INDIAN DANCE FORMS, DRAMA/THEATRE

    The Ministry of Culture has launched the draft National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of India .

    Important Points

    • The National ICH List is an attempt to recognize the diversity of Indian culture embedded in its intangible heritage.
    • It aims to raise awarenessabout the various intangible cultural heritage elements from different states of India at national and international level and ensure their protection.
    • This initiative is also a part of the Vision 2024 of the Ministry of Culture.
    • The list has more than 100 elements which also include 13 elements recognized by theUnited Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
    • FollowingUNESCO’s 2003 Convention for Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, this list has been classified into five broad domains in which intangible cultural heritage is manifested.
    • The 2003 Convention is a part of the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage which was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1972in order to promote the identification, protection and safeguarding of natural cultural heritage.
    • The five domains are:
    • Oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage.
    • Performing arts.
    • Social practices, rituals and festive events.
    • Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe.
    • Traditional craftsmanship.
    • Kerala’smartial art form, Kalaripayuttu, and the practice of making designs at the entrance of homes and temples called kolam in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are included in the draft list.
    • The present items in the list have been collated from the projects sanctioned under the scheme for ‘Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Diverse Cultural Traditions of India’formulated by the Ministry of Culture in 2013.

     

    Scheme for Safeguarding the Intangible Heritage and Diverse Cultural Traditions of India

    • The scheme was set up under the Ministry of Culture (MoC) during 2013-14.
    • The objective of the Scheme is to support and strengthen the efforts of various stakeholder’s vis-a-vis wider recognition and acceptance, dissemination, preservation and promotion of the rich, diverse and vast ICH of India including recognition of the same by UNESCO.
    • The Scheme aims to support
    • Institutions/ Universities/ State Govts/ UT Administrations/ non-MoC Institutions/ Societies/ Non-government organisations, involved in the preservation and propagation of intangible cultural heritage, cultural expressions etc.
    • Individuals, researchers, scholars, professionals who are involved in the research, training, preservation, perpetuation, dissemination, and propagation of intangible cultural heritage, cultural expressions etc.

     

    ISLAMOPHOBIA IN INDIA: OIC

    RELEVANT FOR: – INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS/ TOPICS: – IMPORTANT INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS

    Recently, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has criticised the Indian government for what it called “growing Islamophobia” in India.

    Important Points

    • OIC asked the government to takesteps to protect Muslim minorities who are being “negatively profiled,” facing “discrimination and violence” amidst the Covid-19
    • OIC urged the government to protect the rights of its minorityas per its obligations under international Human Rights law.
    • It also asked the government to take urgent steps to stop the growing tide of Islamophobia(dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims) in India.
    • A religious gathering of muslims (Tablighi Jamaat) was held in Delhi in March. The event was linked to many of the Covid-19 positive cases in India.
    • After this most sections of the media, people on social media blamed the Tablighi jamaat and muslims for deliberately spreading the Covid-19 in India.
    • Earlier, the S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)has also criticised India of “increased stigmatisation” of its muslim minorities.
    • It criticized the government for the reports that Covid-19 patients werereligiously segregated at a hospital in Ahmedabad.
    • According to USCIRF, India continues to remain a “tier 2 country of particular concern”since 2009.
    • Tier 2 countries are those in which “violations engaged in or tolerated by the government are seriousand characterized by at least one of the elements of the ‘systematic, ongoing, and egregious” Country of Particular Concern (CPC) CPCs are designated by the US State Department.
    • The Indian government has denied all the allegationslevelled by the USCIRF and accused the USCIRF for spreading misguided reports on the professional medical protocols followed to deal with spread of Covid-19 in India.

    Organisation of Islamic Cooperation

    • The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is the second largest intergovernmental organizationafter the United Nations with a membership of 57 states.
    • It is thecollective voice of the Muslim world. It endeavors to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.
    • It was establishedupon a decision of the historical summit which took place in Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco on the 25th of September 1969.
    • Headquarters: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

    OIC and India

    • India is not a member of the OIC.However, India was invited as a guest of honour at the 46th Session of the Council of Foreign Minister in 2019. 2019 is the 50th anniversary of OIC.
    • This marked a high point in New Delhi’s often tensed relations with the OIC.
    • However, in recent months, the OIC has repeatedly criticised the Indian government’s handling of the situation in Kashmir and attacks on Muslims.
    • The external affairs ministry has rejected this criticism.
    • S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)
    • USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, dedicated to defending the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.
    • USCIRF reviews the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.
    • It is Headquartered at Washington DC.

    NEW FDI RULE

    RELEVANT FOR: – INDIAN ECONOMY/ TOPICS: –  INVESTMENT MODELS, LIBERALIZATION

    • The Government of India has made its approval forForeign Direct Investment (FDI) by neighbouring countries mandatory.
    • This revised FDI policy aims to curb opportunistic takeovers/acquisitions of Indian companies due to the current Covid-19 pandemic.

    Important Points

    • FDI in India:FDI is allowed under two modes – either through the automatic route, for which companies don’t need government approval, or through the government route, for which companies need a go-ahead from the centre.
    • According to the new FDI policy:
    • An entity of a country, which shares a land border with India or where the beneficial owner of an investment into India is situated in or is a citizen of any such country, can invest only under the Government route.
    • A transfer of ownership in an FDI deal that benefits any country that shares a border with India will also need government approval.
    • India shares land borders with Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
    • Investors from countries not covered by the new policy only have toinform the RBI after a transaction rather than asking for prior permission from the relevant government department.
    • Impact
    • The earlier FDI policy was limited to allowing only Bangladesh and Pakistan via the government routein all sectors. The revised rule has now brought companies from China under the government route filter.
    • China’s footprint in the Indian business space has been expanding rapidly, especially since 2014.
    • Chinese investment in India
    • The net Chinese investment in India, which was $1.6 billion in 2014, shot up five-folds to at least $8 billion (Rs 60,800 crore) in the next three years —with a noticeable shift from state-driven to market-driven investment from the Chinese private sector.
    • Official figures underestimate the amount of investment:They neither account for all Chinese companies’ acquisitions of stakes in the technology sector nor investments from China routed through third-party countries, such as Singapore.
    • For instance, a $ 504-million investment from the Singapore arm of the mobile firm Xiaomi would not figure in official statistics because of how investments are measured.
    • It has been seen that the Chinese firms have escaped the kind of scrutiny in Indiathat their investments have attracted in the West despite several high-profile investments and acquisitions.
    • Another concern is that there is no clear separation between the Chinese state and private business.They work closely in pursuing many goals.

    GAMMA-RAY FLUX VARIABILITY OF BLAZARS

    RELEVANT FOR: – SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY/ TOPICS: – SCIENTIFIC INNOVATIONS & DISCOVERIES, SPACE TECHNOLOGY, ACHIEVEMENTS OF INDIANS IN SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

    • Researchers from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bangalorehave conducted the first systematic study on the gamma-ray flux variability nature of different types of blazars.
    • The research work based on characterizing the flux variability nature on month-like time scales in the high energy gamma-ray (100 MeV to 300 GeV) band for different types of blazars has been published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.
    • IIA is an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.

    Blazars

    • Blazars areactive galactic nuclei (AGN), whose jets are aligned with the observer’s line of sight. Some blazars are thought to host binary black holes in them and could be potential targets for future gravitational-wave searches.
    • Active Galactic Nuclei:
    • At the center of most galaxies, there’s a massive black hole with a huge mass accumulating gas, dust, and stellar debris around it. AGN is formed when the gravitational energy of these materials, being pulled towards the black hole, is converted into light.
    • minority of AGN(~15%) emits collimated charged particles called jets travelling at speeds close to the speed of light.
    • Quasarand Radio-Galaxies are also AGN.
    • The differencebetween Quasar, radio galaxy and a Blazar is the angle of the stream/jet. If the stream is straight up, it is a radio galaxy and the observer is not in the firing line. If the stream is angled slightly towards the observer, then it is a Quasar and if the stream is angled directly towards the observer, it is a Blazar.

     

    • Blazars are the most luminous and energetic objectsin the known universe and they were found to be emitters of gamma-rays in the
    • The flux variability characteristicsof blazars on a range of time scales was found out with the help of Fermi Gamma-ray space telescope (launched in 2008) which is capable of scanning the entire sky once in three hours.
    • Study by Indian Institute of Astrophysics:
      • The researchcharacterised the amplitude and time scale of flux variations and then looked for similarity and/or differences in the amplitude and time scale between different types of blazars.
        • With the availability of near-simultaneous data covering the gamma-ray, X-ray, ultra-violet, optical, and infrared bands,the existing notion on high energy emission in blazars is challenged.
      • The reduction of large volumes of data for a large number of sources was accomplished by the use of the High-Performance Computing facilityof the IIA.

    Significance of the Study

    • The study can provide clues to the processes happening close to the black holewhich are not visible through direct imaging. It will also enhance the knowledge of blazars.
    • Exploring the Gamma-ray band of the electromagnetic spectrum will providekey inputs to constrain the high energy production site as well as the high energy emission processes.
    • The results of this work will fill the gap on the knowledge of the high energy flux variability nature of blazars.
      • Gamma-ray bandis one of the bands of the electromagnetic spectrum on which there is limited knowledge on the flux variability of blazars.
      • Localizing the site for the production of gamma-raysis one of the major problems in high energy astrophysics.
    • The expertise of handling high energy data from celestial sources gained in this work will build capacity to interpret the gamma-ray datathat will emerge from India’s upcoming facility, the Major Atmospheric Cerenkov Experiment (MACE) Telescope as well as from any X-ray missions by India in the future.

    Major Atmospheric Cerenkov Experiment Telescope

    • It is the India’s largest and the world’s highest gamma-ray telescope being established at Hanle, Ladakh.
    • It is being built by the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), Hyderabad for the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).
    • It is remotely operated and runs on Solar Power.
    • It will help to explore the exciting energy range of the gamma-ray energy region in between satellites and the traditional Atmospheric Cerenkov experiments.
    • The telescope is named after the Russian scientist Cerenkov who predicted that charged particles moving at high speeds in a medium, emit light.

    LITHIUM ABUNDANCE IN INTERSTELLAR SPACE

    RELEVANT FOR: –  SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY/ TOPICS: –  SCIENTIFIC INNOVATIONS & DISCOVERIES, SPACE TECHNOLOGY, ACHIEVEMENTS OF INDIANS IN SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

    • Recently, the researchers at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA)have discovered hundreds of Lithium (Li) rich giant stars which indicate that lithium is being produced in the stars and accounts for its abundance in the interstellar (between stars) medium.
    • The study was published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters and Monthly Notices of Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS).

    Important Points

    • The scientists have discovered a number of super Li-rich giantswith the Li quantity equal to or in some cases, more than 10 times the present value, A(Li) = 3.2 dex (measured in logarithmic scale relative to hydrogen).
    • Scientists followed a two-fold strategyof systematically searching for high Li among low mass evolved stars in the Galaxy and determining the exact evolutionary phase of these high Li abundance stars.
    • Hundreds of Li-rich giants were discovered by employing data from large scale ground and space missions.
    • However, Li-rich giants still account for only about 1 in 100 in the Galaxy.
    • The evolutionary phaseof these giants was determined by analyzing relative positions of thousands of stars using their temperature and luminosity and also subjecting their independent data set to atmospheric oscillations analysis using data from Kepler Space Telescope.
    • For the first time, it was shown that theLi enhancement in giants is associated only with central He-burning stars (also known as the Red Clump Giants)
    • This discovery will help to eliminate or validate many proposed theoriessuch as planet engulfment or Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN) during the red giant evolution in which helium at the center is not burning.
    • Lithium (Li),is one of the three primordial elements, apart from Hydrogen (H) and Helium (He), produced in the BBN.
    • This model predicts primordial Li abundance[A(Li) ~2.7~dex].
    • Starsare also proposed as a likely Li source in the Galaxy and are considered as Li sinks.
    • The original Li, with which stars are born, only gets depleted over stars’ life-time as Li burns at relatively very low temperaturesof about 5×106 Kelvin (a range which is easily encountered in stars).

    Planetary Engulfment

    • In the universe, planets accompany host stars (like the Sun is the host star for the planets of the Solar system).
    • As the host star evolves off the main sequence to become a white dwarf, the planets with sufficiently close orbits can be engulfed during the giant phase.
    • Planetary engulfment events involve the chemical assimilation of a planet into a star’s external layer.
    • This can cause a change in the chemical pattern of the stellar atmosphere in a way that mirrors the composition of the rocky object engulfed.

    Big Bang Nucleosynthesis

    • It is the leading explanation about how the universe began. At its simplest, it says that the universe started with a small singularity and then inflated over the next 13.8 billion years to the cosmos currently observed.
    • The Universe’s light-element abundance is another important criterion by which this theory is verified.
    • It is now known that the elements observed in the Universe were created in either of two ways.
    • Light elements (namely deuterium, helium, and lithium) were produced in the first few minutes of the Big Bang, while elements heavier than helium are thought to have their origins in the interiors of stars which formed much later in the history of the Universe.
    • The theory predicts that roughly 25% the mass of the Universe consists of Helium. It also predicts about 0.01% deuterium, and even smaller quantities of lithium.

     

    TEMPORARY RATION CARDS TO ACCESS PDS FOOD GRAIN

    RELEVANT FOR: – GOVERNANCE/ TOPICS: –  PUBLIC DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM (PDS)

    • Recently, the Pune Zilla Parishad has decided to providetemporary ‘ration cards’ to more than 80,000 undocumented people in the district, so they can receive food grains under the Public Distribution System (PDS).
    • The delivery of benefits including PDS grain to migrants trapped by the lockdown, and to those who are unable to provide documents, has been a major concern across states.
    • Earlier, Nobel Laureates Amartya Sen and Abhijit Banerjee, and former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan had suggested that temporary ration cards should be issued to enable the undocumented to draw rations through the PDS system.

    Important Points

    • It is a first innovationof its kind to help larger numbers of people access government benefits during the Covid-19 lockdown.
    • Use of Aadhaar:The Pune scheme will use one-time Aadhaar authentication to open accounts for the people with the India Post Payments Bank.
    • Once the biometric Aadhaar-based link is established and the account is opened, this would serve as the only authentication that will be needed for these undocumented people to draw rations from the PDS system.
    • Home Delivery:It will enable the home delivery of grains at the gram panchayat level to avoid crowds and maintain physical distancing.
    • Coverage:It will also include individuals belonging to the Primitive Tribes and the transgender community who are often left out of the ambit of such benefits.
    • Identification:The job of identifying the beneficiaries has been given to the village police patil, who maintains records of outsiders in a register.
    • Under the National Food Security Act(NFSA), 2013, the gram sabha has the right to identify beneficiaries — however, in the current situation when the gram sabha is not functional, a committee of three viz., the gram panchayat’s sarpanch, a member of the gram sabha, and the local police patil will identify them.
    • Verification:The only verification that will be carried out is that of the kitchen of the beneficiary to prove that they qualify for the scheme.
    • Boost to Sharad Bhojan Yojana:The scheme will widen and deepen the scope and reach of the Sharad Bhojan Yojana, under which cooked meals are provided to people in Pune district at concessional rates.
    • The Sharad Bhojan Yojana is modelled after the Maharashtra government’s flagship Shiv Bhojan Yojana,which serves subsidised meals to the poor.
    • Involvement of a Corporate:The Janakidevi Bajaj Gram Vikas Sansthan, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) wing of the Bajaj Group, will be the corporate CSR partner of the Pune Zilla Parishad for the scheme.

    Public distribution system (PDS)

    • The PDS is an Indian food Security Systemestablished under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
    • PDS evolved as a system of management of scarcitythrough distribution of food grains at affordable prices.
    • PDS is operated under the joint responsibility of the Central and the State Governments.
    • The Central Government,through Food Corporation of India (FCI), has assumed the responsibility for procurement, storage, transportation and bulk allocation of food grains to the State Governments.
    • The operational responsibilitiesincluding allocation within the State, identification of eligible families, issue of Ration Cards and supervision of the functioning of Fair Price Shops (FPSs) etc., rest with the State Governments.
    • Under the PDS, presently the commodities namely wheat, rice, sugar and keroseneare being allocated to the States/UTs for distribution. Some States/UTs also distribute additional items of mass consumption through the PDS outlets such as pulses, edible oils, iodized salt, spices, etc.

    KARTARPUR SAHIB DAMAGE

    RELEVANT FOR:- INDIAN SOCIETY/ TOPICS :- SOCIO-CULTURAL REFORM MOVEMENTS, IMPORTANT PERSONALITIES

    • India has asked Pakistan to attend to repair and reconstruction of parts of KartarpurSahib gurudwara that were damaged in a storm on April 18, 2020.
    • The shrine in Pakistan’s Narowal district, built where founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak Dev, lived the last years of his life, is highly revered by followers of the faith and other worshippers in India and the world.

    Impotrant Points

    • Kartarpur Sahib is in the midst of year long festivities associated with the 550thbirth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
    • It has emerged as a major centre of Sikh pilgrimage in Pakistan over the last few months, after the corridor from India was operationalised.
    • The corridor connects the Kartar Sahib Gurdwarain Narowal district of Pakistan with the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district in India’s Punjab province.

    Katarpur Sahib

      • Guru Nanak Dev travelled through many countries spreading the message of universal peace, harmony and love before finally arriving in Kartarpur in 1521.
      • The then-governor of the region, Duni Chand, donated 100 acres of land on the bank of river Ravi to him.
      • Kartarpur became a religious site after he settled there.
      • The foundation stone of the gurdwara in Kartarpur was laid in 1572 and Maharaja Ranjit Singh covered its dome with gold.

    The present structure was built by Bhupinder Singh, the Maharaja of Patiala in 1925.

    Guru Nanak Dev

    • Guru Nanak Dev Jayanti is observed to celebrate the birth of Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539), who is first of the 10 Sikh Gurus and the founder of Sikhism.
    • He advocated the ‘Nirguna’ (devotion to and worship of formless divine) form of bhakti.
    • He rejected sacrifices, ritual baths, image worship, austerities and the scriptures of both Hindus and Muslims.
    • He organised his followers into a community. He set up rules for congregational worship (Sangat) involving collective recitation.
    • The fifth preceptor, Guru Arjan Dev, compiled Guru Nanak Dev’s hymns along with those of his four successors and other religious poets like Baba Farid, Ravidas (also known as Raidas) and Kabir in the Adi Granth Sahib.
    • These hymns, called ‘Gurbani’, are composed in many languages.
    • In the late seventeenth century the tenth preceptor, Guru Gobind Singh, included the compositions of the ninth guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, and this scripture was called the Guru Granth Sahib.

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