Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 13th January 2022

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy – UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 13th January 2022

CURRENT AFFAIRS 13-01-2022

UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 13th January 2022

   

  • Swami Vivekananda
  • Adi Shankaracharya’s birthplace-National monument
  • India appeals on Sugar at WTO
  • The ‘Gateway to Hell’
  • Grime-eating bacteria to restore classical art

1.Swami Vivekananda

#GS1-Personalities

Context

  • On Swami Vivekananda’s Jayanti, India’s Prime Minister paid respect to him.

In depth information

Swami Vivekananda’s Biography

  • He was born on the 12th of January 1863 in Calcutta, India, to a Bengali family. His first name was Narendranath Datta.
  • In 1984, the Indian government designated his birthday National Youth Day in his honour.
  • Early Years:
  • He developed an interest in Western philosophy, history, religion, spirituality, and theology at a young age.
  • He was well-versed in a variety of subjects and meditated in front of Hindu gods and goddesses.
  • He met Ramakrishna Paramhansa, a religious leader who ultimately became his Guru, and stayed committed to him until his death in 1886.
  • After Maharaja Ajit Singh of the Khetri State requested it, he changed his name to ‘Vivekananda’ in 1893. He had previously used the name ‘Sachidananda.’
  • Works of Literature:
  • Raja Yoga
  • Jnana Yoga
  • Karma Yoga
  • On July 4, 1902, he attained Mahasamadhi.

The Importance of Contributions

  • He was one of India’s greatest spiritual leaders, inspiring India’s youth to become better people by living a pure life and setting an example for the rest of the world.
  • He was dubbed the “Maker of Modern India” by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
  • Putting an emphasis on Indian philosophies:
  • He was instrumental in bringing the philosophies of Yoga and Vedanta to the Western world.
  • Yoga is an Indian physical, mental, and spiritual discipline that dates back thousands of years. Yoga is a Sanskrit word that meaning “to connect” or “to merge,” and it represents the integration of body and consciousness.
  • Vedanta is one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy, and it is founded on the interpretation of the Upanishads. Its goal was to learn more about the term ‘Brahman’ (Ultimate Reality). It considers Veda to be the ultimate source of knowledge, whose authority cannot be questioned.
  • He advocated ‘neo-Vedanta,’ a Western version of Hinduism that emphasised the integration of spirituality and material progress.
  • Neo-Vedanta is a contemporary interpretation of Vedanta that takes a liberal approach to the Vedas. It reconciles dualism and nondualism while rejecting Shankara’s “universal illusionism.”
  • His most famous address was delivered during the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893.
  • He began his statement by saying, “My brothers and sisters of America,” then went on to discuss global acceptance, tolerance, and faith.
  • He began giving lectures in numerous locations around the United States and the United Kingdom, and became known as the ‘Messenger of Indian Wisdom to the Western World.’
  • In 1897, after returning to India, he established the Ramakrishna Mission.
  • Its goal was to set in action equipment that would transmit the noblest thoughts to even the poorest and meanest of people.
  • He went on a tour across India, instructing the people on how to improve their economic situation as well as giving spiritual wisdom.
  • In 1899, he founded the Belur Math, which served as his permanent residence.
  • He presented a new theory of ethics as well as a new morality principle based on the Atman’s inherent purity and oneness.
  • Ethics, he claims, is a code of behaviour that assists a person in being a good citizen.
  • On the spiritual foundation of the Vedantic Oneness of Existence, he worked to promote peace and universal brotherhood.
  • Interpretation of Religion: His interpretation of religion as a global experience of transcendent Reality shared by all humanity is one of his most significant contributions.
  • The hold of superstitions, dogmatism, priestcraft, and bigotry on religion is broken by this universal vision.
  • The specific kind of devotion he proposed for the Indians was service to man as the visible manifestation of the Godhead.
  • Interfaith Awareness and Coexistence: In the nineteenth century, he is credited with developing interfaith awareness and introducing Hinduism to a worldwide stage.
  • He is also noted for his extensive knowledge of both science and religion, and his teachings to the Western world proved how the two may coexist peacefully.
  • Education: For the regeneration of India, he placed the greatest focus on education and pushed for a character-building education.
  • According to him, a country’s progress is proportional to the amount of education it provides to its citizens.
  • He was adamant about educating women and those from lower castes.
  • Vivekananda was a strong believer in social reform, and he joined the Brahmo Samaj, an organisation dedicated to ending child marriage and illiteracy.

 

2.Adi Shankaracharya’s birthplace-National monument

#GS1-Art and Culture

Context

  • The head of the National Monuments Authority (NMA) met with Kerala’s governor to discuss the state’s declaration of Adi Shankaracharya’s birthplace as a national monument.
  • The Prime Minister had previously presented a 13-foot statue of Adi Sankara in Uttarakhand’s Kedarnath shrine.

In relation to the other sites surveyed

  • The NMA also conducted a thorough assessment of key Hindu-Buddhist monuments in Kashmir’s valley.
  • There are many old temples, Buddhist stupas, and chaityas in Kashmir. Unfortunately, none of these sites have been recommended for UNESCO World Heritage status in the last 74 years.
  • The ASI is preserving a number of historic Hindu sites from the 6th to the 8th centuries, as well as Buddhist temples from the 3rd and 4th centuries, in the Valley.
  • Other significant locations
  • The internationally recognisedHarwan Buddhist shrine in Srinagar lacked even an access road.
  • Under the guidance of the ASI, the Martand temple might be given a new look by reconstructing its stone blocks according to ASI standards.

Adi Shankaracharya

  • Adi Shankara is reported to have been born in Kaladi village, which is located on the banks of the Periyar River, Kerala’s largest river.
  • He left home at a young age in search of knowledge and the desire to become a sanyasi.
  • The Adi Shankara narrative is a remarkable saga of travel and adventure, philosophical research, religious strife, interpretation, lineage building, organisation, and mobilisation, among other things.
  • Shankaravijayas:
  • The account told today was pieced together from several Shankaravijayas (Shankara’s Conquests) published over the years.

Spiritually significant locations include:

  • He is reported to have visited all of the great spiritual centres of the time, from Kanchi (Kancheepuram) to Kamrup (Assam), Kashmir and the Kedar and Badri dhams, as well as Sringeri, Ujjain, Kashi, Puri, and Joshimath, throughout his 32-year lifetime.
  • He is credited with 116 works, including famous commentaries (bhashyas) on ten Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra, and the Gita, as well as poetry works such as Vivekachudamani, ManeeshaPanchakam, and Saundaryalahiri.

Shankarasmrithi:

  • Adi Shankara is also said to have written works like Shankarasmrithi, which aims to establish Nambuthiri Brahmins’ social supremacy.
  • Political appropriation: According to legend, Shankara founded mathas in Sringeri, Dwaraka, Puri, and Joshimath to spread Advaita Vedanta.
  • Shankara’sdigvijaya (conquest) is often interpreted as a near-nationalistic project in which faith, philosophy, and geography are yoked together to imagine a Hindu India that transcends the political boundaries of his time, and his digvijaya (conquest) is often interpreted as a near-nationalistic project in which faith, philosophy, and geography are yoked together to imagine a Hindu India that transcends the political boundaries of his time.
  • Adi Shankara is said to have obtained samadhi at Kedarnath, while Kanchi and Thrissur are also mentioned as places where he spent his final days.

Adi Shankaracharya’s Importance

  • Adi Shankara helped assemble the Advaita Vedanta and resurrected a Hindu culture that was on the edge of extinction.
  • The group consists of three people: Shankara, along with Madhava and Ramanuja, established teachings that have been accepted and honoured in the different sects until this day. The trio is regarded as Hindu philosophy’s most powerful icon in recent times.
  • Shankara’s enormous reputation stems from his commentary on the prasthanatrayi (Upanishads, Brahmasutra, and Gita), in which he reveals his understanding of Advaita Vedanta.
  • The Upanishads, according to AdvaitaVedantins, reveal a fundamental nonduality principle known as ‘brahman,’ which is the reality of all things.
  • He is thought to have created the ceremonial procedures at the Badri and Kedardhams, as well as debating with tantrics in Srinagar.

 

3.India appeals on Sugar at WTO

#GS2-Important International Institutions

Context

  • India recently filed an appeal with the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) trade dispute settlement panel, which found that India’s domestic support measures for sugar and sugarcane are in violation of global trade regulations.
  • Previously, China was granted WTO ‘developing nation’ status, which was a contentious matter, with a number of countries objecting to the decision.

In depth information

  • India’s Appeal: The appeal was filed by India in the WTO’s Appellate Body, which is the final authority on such trade disputes.
  • India has filed an appeal with the body, requesting that it “reverse, modify, or declare moot and of no legal effect the Panel’s findings, conclusions, rulings, and recommendations” with respect to certain “legal errors or legal interpretation contained in the panel’s findings, conclusions, rulings, and recommendations.”
  • India has asked the panel to reconsider its decision that the scheme for assisting sugar mills with marketing costs, such as handling, upgrading, and other processing costs, as well as costs of international and internal transport and freight charges on sugar exports for the 2019-20 sugar season (Maximum Admissible Export Quantity (MAEQ) Scheme), is within its terms of reference.

India is the target of a complaint.

  • India’s domestic support and export subsidy measures appeared to be in violation of various articles of the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture and the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM), as well as Article XVI (which deals with subsidies) of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs, according to Australia, Brazil, and Guatemala (GATT).
  • All three nations complained that India gives sugarcane producers with domestic support that surpasses the de minimis standard of 10% of total sugarcane production, which they claimed was in violation of the Agriculture Agreement.
  • They also brought up India’s claimed export subsidies, as well as production support and buffer stock programmes, as well as the marketing and transportation scheme.
  • Australia accused India of “failing” to notify its annual domestic sugarcane and sugar subsidies after 1995-96, as well as its export subsidies since 2009-10, which it claimed were in violation of the SCM Agreement’s requirements.
  • The WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) convened a panel to investigate the dispute and issue a report.

Findings of the Panels:

  • India’s domestic support and export subsidy programmes in the sugar business were deemed to be in violation of international trade laws by the dispute settlement panel.
  • It was discovered that India offered non-exempt product-specific domestic support to sugarcane producers in excess of the authorised amount of 10% of the total value of sugarcane production for five consecutive sugar seasons, from 2014-15 to 2018-19.
  • The panel rejected India’s argument that its “mandatory minimum prices are not paid by the central or state governments, but by sugar mills, and thus do not constitute market price support,” saying “market price support does not require governments to purchase or procure the relevant agricultural product.”

Recommendation from the Panels:

  • India aligns its WTO-inconsistent policies with its obligations under the Agricultural Agreement and the SCM Agreement.
  • Within 120 days, India should eliminate its allegedly illegal subsidies under the Production Assistance, Buffer Stock, Marketing, and Transportation Schemes.

India’s defence

  • Clear outstanding dues: As part of its efforts to help sugar mills clear outstanding dues to sugarcane farmers, the government sanctioned a subsidy of Rs 3,500 crore for the export of 60 lakh Tonnes of sweetener during the current marketing year 2020-21.
  • Within the framework of the WTO’s agreement: The panel erred in ruling that India’s fair and remunerative price and state-advised price constitute market price assistance under the WTO’s agriculture agreement, according to India.
  • Within its terms of reference: India has requested a review of the panel’s determination that the scheme for assisting sugar mills with marketing costs, such as handling, upgrading, and other processing costs, as well as the costs of international and internal transportation and freight charges on sugar exports, is within its terms of reference.
  • Errors in conclusions: India claims that the WTO’s dispute panel ruling made “erroneous” findings about domestic sugarcane producer and export schemes, and that the panel’s findings are “totally unacceptable.”
  • Article 3 of the SCM Agreement: Article 3 of the SCM Agreement does not apply to India yet, and India has an eight-year phase-out period to abolish any export subsidies, if any, under Article 27 of the SCM Agreement.
  • India maintained that its “mandated minimum prices are paid by sugar mills rather than the national or state governments, and hence do not constitute market price support.”
  • This claim was dismissed by the panel, which stated that market price support does not compel governments to buy or obtain the appropriate agricultural product.

Next Steps

  • When calculating subsidies, keep in mind that today’s prices are not comparable to those of 1986-88. This is incorrect. In the WTO, a wider debate must be fought about how much price assistance India can provide.

 

4.The ‘Gateway to Hell’

#Places in News

Context

  • The President of Turkmenistan recently asked scientists to discover a solution to put out a fire in the Darvaza gas crater, which is a massive natural gas crater.
  • The ‘Gateway to Hell’ is another name for it.
  • For the past 50 years, the crater has been smouldering.

In depth information

  • The basis for the order to put it out
  • It has a harmful impact on the environment as well as the health of the people who live nearby.
  • Methane leaks have been a problem in Turkmenistan.
  • Methane is the principal contributor to the creation of ground-level ozone, a dangerous air pollutant and greenhouse gas that kills one million people prematurely each year.
  • Methane is a potent greenhouse gas as well.

‘Gateway to Hell’

  • 260 kilometres from Ashgabat (Turkmenistan’s capital), in the Karakum desert.
  • The crater measures 69 metres in diameter and 30 metres in depth.
  • The president of the country called it the “Shining of Karakum” in 2018.
  • In a National Geographic-funded trip in 2013, George Kourounis, a Canadian adventurer, became the first person to go inside the crater.
  • Origin: The exact cause of the crater’s formation is unknown, however it is thought to have occurred in 1971 during a Soviet drilling operation.
  • The crater was constructed in the 1960s, but it wasn’t lit on fire until the 1980s, according to locals.
  • It’s also been stated that because oil and gas were such scarce commodities during Soviet administration, the crater’s origin remained a closely guarded secret.
  • Tourist attraction: The crater has grown in popularity as a popular tourist destination in the country.
  • Approximately 6,000 tourists visit each year.

 

5.Grime-eating bacteria to restore classical art

#GS3-Developments and Applications

Context

  • Since the 1980s, when the bacteria Desulfovibrio Bulgaria was utilised, the function of microbes in conserving humanity’s artistic heritage has been recognised.
  • To remove dirt, oil, glue, or contaminants from monuments, stoneworks, and paintings, art restorers have traditionally used chemical agents and, more recently, laser procedures.

In depth information

  • The bacteria Desulfovibrio Vulgaris was initially employed to clean a marble monument at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • Desulfovibrio Vulgaris is a Gram-negative, anaerobic, non-spore-forming bacteria that can be found in soil, animal intestines and faeces, as well as fresh and saltwater.
  • It went on to meet a number of works of art, including the Allegoria Della Morte — the Allegory of Death — in the English Cemetery in Florence in 2013.

Other microorganisms that were employed

  • In Spain, Pseudomonas stutzeri has been trusted to clean a variety of antiquities, including old bridge stones and chapel granite slabs.
  • This bacteria strain was employed to restore frescoes in the 17th century Church of Santos Juanes in Valencia, Spain, as well as murals in the CamposantoMonumentale di Pisa in Italy.
  • The 14th-century Triumph of Death mural at the Campo Santo was recently cleaned with P. stutzeri. During World War II, the cemetery was attacked.
  • Pseudomonas stutzeri is a Gram-negative, rod-shaped, motile, single polar-flagellated soil bacterium that was first isolated from human spinal fluid and is now widely dispersed.

Importance for India

  • Many of India’s monuments can be saved by bio-restoration.
  • Researchers from the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology in Patiala and Curtin University in Perth, Australia, published a report in 2014 stating that calcifying bacteria might be utilised to remediate stones and cultural heritage sites such as the Taj Mahal.
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