3rd January 2021

203rd Anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon Battle

The victory pillar (also known as Ranstambh or Jaystambh) in Bhima-Koregaon village (Pune district of Maharashtra) celebrated the 203rd anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle of 1818 on 1st January, 2021.

  • In 2018, incidents of violent clashes between Dalit and Maratha groups were registered during the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle.
  • History
    • A battle was fought in Bhima Koregaon between the Peshwa forces and the British on 1st January, 1818.
    • The British army, which comprised mainly of Dalit soldiers, fought the upper caste-dominated Peshwa army.
      • The British troops defeated the Peshwa army.
    • Peshwa Bajirao II had insulted the Mahar community and terminated them from the service of his army.
      • This caused them to side with the English against the Peshwa’s numerically superior army.
      • Mahar, caste-cluster, or group of many endogamous castes, living chiefly in Maharashtra state and in adjoining states.
        • They mostly speak Marathi, the official language of Maharashtra.
        • They are officially designated Scheduled Castes.
    • The defeat of Peshwa army was considered to be a victory against caste-based discrimination and oppression.
    • It was one of the last battles of the Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817-18), which ended the Peshwa domination.
    • Babasaheb Ambedkar’s visit to the site on 1st January, 1927, revitalised the memory of the battle for the Dalit community, making it a rallying point and an assertion of pride.
  • The Victory Pillar Memorial:
    • It was erected by the British in Perne village in the district for the soldiers killed in the Koregaon Bhima battle. It has attained legendary stature in Dalit history.


New Industrial Infrastructure Projects

Recently, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved three infrastructure proposals worth Rs 7,725 crore for setting up greenfield industrial cities with connectivity to major transportation corridors.

  • The cabinet also approved a modified scheme for interest subvention for Ethanol production expanding the scheme to include grain based distilleries and not just molasses based ones.
    • The scheme would encourage ethanol production from grains like barley, maize, corn and rice and boost production and distillation capacity to 1,000 crore litres and help in meeting the goal of 20% ethanol blending with petrol by 2030.
  • These projects are based on major transportation corridors like Eastern & Western Dedicated Freight Corridors, Expressways and National Highways, proximity to ports, airports.
  • This will attract investments into manufacturing and position India as a strong player in the global value chain.
  • These projects will generate ample employment opportunities through development of Industrial Corridors.

Industrial Corridors

  • Industrial corridors offer effective integration between industry and infrastructure, leading to overall economic and social development.
  • Economic Significance:
    • Avenues for Exports: The Industrial Corridors are likely to lower the cost of logistics thereby increasing the efficiency of industrial production structure. Such an efficiency lowers the cost of production which makes the Indian made products more competitive in international markets.
    • Job Opportunities: Development of Industrial Corridors would attract investments for the development of Industries which is likely to create more jobs in the market.
    • Logistics: These corridors would provide necessary logistics infrastructure needed to reap economies of scale, thus enabling firms to focus on their areas of core competence.
    • Investment Opportunities: Industrial corridor provides opportunities for private sector investment in the provision of various infrastructure projects associated with the exploitation of industrial opportunity.
    • Improved Functioning: Apart from the development of infrastructure, long-term advantages to business and industry along the corridor include benefits arising from smooth access to the industrial production units, decreased transportation and communications costs, improved delivery time and reduction in inventory cost.
  • Environmental Significance:
    • The establishment of Industrial Units in a scattered manner along the industrial corridor across the length of the state will prevent concentration of industries in one particular location which exploited the environment beyond its carrying capacity and caused environmental degradation.
  • Socio-Economic Significance:
    • The cascading effect of industrial corridors in socio-economic terms are many such as setting up of industrial townships, educational institutions, hospitals. These will further raise the standards of human development.
    • Moreover, people would find job opportunities close to their homes and would not have to migrate to far-off places (would prevent distress migration).
  • National Industrial Corridor Development Programme:
    • Aim: The Government of India is developing various Industrial Corridor Projects as part of the National Industrial Corridor programme which is aimed at development of futuristic industrial cities in India which can compete with the best manufacturing and investment destinations in the world.
    • Administration:
      • National Industrial Corridor Development and Implementation Trust (NICDIT) is under the administrative control of Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) for coordinated and unified development of all the industrial corridors which are at various stages of development and implementation.
    • It is India’s most ambitious infrastructure programme aiming to develop new industrial cities as “Smart Cities” and converging next generation technologies across infrastructure sectors.
    • 11 Industrial Corridors Projects are being taken up for development with 30 Projects to be developed in 04 phases up to 2024-25:

Road Ahead

  • To make the corridors successful, India has to be part of the Industrial Revolution 4.0, which will be shaped by a fresh wave of innovation in areas such as smart robotics, materials that are lighter and tougher, and a manufacturing process built around 3D printing and analytics.
  • Industrial corridors will help India’s efforts to lead the world in the fourth wave of industrial revolution. Effective execution of this plan could make India take a major leap in the race of development



Umed Paoni Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary

A tigress and her two cubs were found dead in the Umed Paoni Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary, Nagpur, Maharashtra.

    • Umed Paoni Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary has a connection with Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve through forest alongWainganga river (a tributary of Godavari).
    • The sanctuary is home to resident breeding tigers, herds of Gaur, wild dogs and also rare animals like flying squirrels, pangolins and honey badgers.


Arctic: Concerns & Opportunities

As per the WWFArctic Programme, the Arctic region is warming up twice as fast as the global average. The ice cap has been shrinking fast since 1980 and the volume of Arctic sea ice has declined by as much as 75%.

  • Since 1992, WWF’s (World Wide Fund for Nature) Arctic Programme has been working with its partners across the Arcticto combat threats to the Arctic and to preserve its rich biodiversity in a sustainable way.
    • The Arctic is a polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth.
    • The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean, adjacent seas, and parts of Alaska (United States), Canada, Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden.
    • Land within the Arctic region has seasonally varying snow and ice cover.
  • Ecological Impact of Warming on Arctic:
    • The loss of ice and the warming waters will affect sea levels, salinity levels, and current and precipitation patterns.
    • The Tundra is returning to swamp, the permafrost is thawing, sudden storms are ravaging coastlines and wildfiresare devastating interior Canada and Russia.
      • Tundra: Found in regions north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle. These are treeless regions.
    • The phenomenally rich biodiversity of the Arctic region is under serious threat.
      • The absence of year-long ice and higher temperatures are making the survival of Arctic marine life, plants and birds difficult while encouraging species from lower latitudes to move north.
    • The Arctic is also home to about 40 different indigenous groups, whose culture, economy and way of life is in dangerof being swept away.
      • Increasing human encroachment with its attendant stresses will only aggravate this impact and upset a fragile balance.
  • Commercial Importance of Arctic:
    • The opening of the Arctic presents huge commercial and economic opportunities, particularly in shipping, energy, fisheries and mineral resources.
    • Commercial navigation:
      • The Northern Sea Route (NSR) which would connect the North Atlantic to the North Pacific through a short polar arc is the most tempting.
    • Oil and natural gas deposits:
      • Estimated to be 22% of the world’s unexplored resources, mostly in the Arctic ocean, will be open to access along with mineral deposits including 25% of the global reserves of rare earths, buried in Greenland.
    • Issues Involved:
      • Navigation conditions are dangerous and restricted to the summer.
      • Lack of deep-water ports, a need for ice-breakers, shortage of workers trained for polar conditions, and high insurance costs add to the difficulties.
      • Mining and deep-sea drilling carry massive costs and environmental risks.
      • Unlike Antarctica, the Arctic is not a global common and there is no overarching treaty that governs it.
  • Conflict over Arctic:
    • Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark have put in overlapping claims for extended continental shelves, and the right to sea-bed resources.
    • Russia is the dominant power, with the longest Arctic coastline, half the Arctic population, and a full-fledged strategic policy.
      • Claiming that the NSR falls within its territorial waters, Russia anticipates huge dividends from commercial traffic including through the use of its ports, pilots and ice-breakers.
      • Russia has also activated its northern military bases, refurbished its nuclear armed submarine fleet and demonstrated its capabilities, including through an exercise with China in the eastern Arctic.
    • China, playing for economic advantage, has moved in fast, projecting the Polar Silk Road as an extension of the Belt and Road Initiatives, and has invested heavily in ports, energy, undersea infrastructure and mining projects.
  • India’s interests in Arctic:
    • Environmental Interest:
      • India’s extensive coastline makes it vulnerable to the impact of Arctic warming on ocean currents, weather patterns, fisheries and most importantly, the monsoon.
    • Scientific Interest:
      • Scientific research in Arctic developments, in which India has a good record, will contribute to its understanding of climatic changes in the Third Pole, the Himalayas.
    • Strategic Interest:
      • The strategic implications of an active China in the Arctic and its growing economic and strategic relationship with Russia are self-evident and need close monitoring.
    • Since 2013, India has had observer status in the Arctic Council, which is the predominant inter-governmental forum for cooperation on the environmental and development aspects of the Arctic.
    • It is high time that its presence on the Arctic Council was underpinned by a strategic policy that encompassed economic, environmental, scientific and political aspects.


Draft National Science Technology and Innovation Policy, 2020

Recently, the draft of the 5th National Science Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) has been uploaded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) on its website.

  • This Policy will replace the Science Technology and Innovation Policy of 2013.
  • Aim:
    • To bring about profound changes through short, medium and long-term mission mode projects by building a nurturedecosystem that promotes research and innovation on the part of both individuals and organizations.
    • To identify and address strengths and weaknesses of the Indian Science Technology and Innovation (STI) ecosystem to catalyse socio-economic development of the country and also make the Indian STI ecosystem globally competitive.
  • Important Provisions:
    • Related to Equity and Inclusion:
      • Gender Equality:
        • It proposes that at least 30% representation be ensured for women in all decision-making bodies, as well as “spousal benefits” be provided to partners of scientists belonging to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ+) community.
        • The LGBTQ+ community should be included in all conversations related to gender equity, and provisions be made to safeguard their rights and promote their representation and retention in the science and technology sector.
      • Child and Elderly Care:
        • Child-care benefits are proposed to be made gender-neutral, and flexible work timings and adequate parental leave are to be offered to cater to maternity, childbirth and child care.
        • All publicly-funded research institutions and universities will be asked to provide day-care centres for children of employees, and also have a provision for elderly care.
      • For Disabled:
        • For the benefit of people with disabilities, the policy asks all publicly-funded scientific institutions to make“structural and cultural changes” to support their inclusion.
      • Other Related Provisions:
        • For age-related cut-offs in matters relating to selection, promotion, awards or grants, the “academic age” and not the biological age would be considered.
        • Removal of bars on married couples being employed in the same department or laboratory.
          • As of now, married couples are not posted in the same department, leading to cases of loss of employment or forced transfers when colleagues decide to get married.
    • Open Science Policy (One Nation, One Subscription): To make scientific knowledge and data available to all, the government has proposed:
      • To buy bulk subscriptions of all important scientific journals across the world, and provide everyone in India free access to them.
      • To set up a Science, Technology and Innovation Observatory that will serve as the central repository of all kinds of data generated from scientific research in the country.
    • Research and Education:
      • It proposes to establish Education Research Centres (ERCs) and Collaborative Research Centres (CRCs) to provide research inputs to policymakers and bring together stakeholders.
      • Research and Innovation Excellence Frameworks (RIEF) will be developed to enhance the quality of research along with the promotion of engagements with the relevant stakeholders.
      • A dedicated portal to provide access to the outputs of such publicly-funded research will be created through the Indian Science and Technology Archive of Research (INDSTA).
      • To set up Infrastructure to boost local Research and Development capabilities and reduce large scale import in selected sectors of domestic importance such as electronic hardware for home appliances, railways, intelligent transport, clean tech, defence, etc.
    • For Strengthening India’s Strategic Position:
      • To achieve technological self-reliance and position India among the top three scientific superpowers in the decade to come.
      • To double the number of Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) researchers, Gross Domestic Expenditure on R&D (GERD)and private sector contribution to the GERD every 5 years.
      • Establishment of a Strategic Technology Board that will bridge all strategic government departments, and monitor and recommend technologies to be bought or indigenously made.


Revival of Monpa Handmade Paper

Recently, the Monpa Handmade Paper (1000-year old heritage art) of Arunachal Pradesh has been revived by Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC).

    • The fine-textured handmade paper, which is called Mon Shugu in the local dialect, is integral to the vibrant culture of the local tribes in Tawang.
    • The paper has great historic and religious significance as it is the paper used for writing Buddhist scriptures and hymns in monasteries.
    • The Monpa handmade paper is made from the bark of a local tree called Shugu Sheng, which has medicinal values too.
  • Monpa Handmade Paper Industry:
    • The art of making Monpa handmade paper originated over 1000 years ago. Gradually the art became an integral part of local custom and culture in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.
    • Once produced in every household in Tawang, this handmade paper was a major source of livelihood for the locals.
    • The handmade paper industry almost disappeared in the last 100 years.
  • Revival Program:
    • An attempt for the revival of this handmade paper industry was made in 1994 but failed.
    • KVIC commissioned a Monpa handmade paper making unit in Tawang which not only aimed at reviving the art but also engaging the local youths with this art professionally and earn.
    • The revival is aligned with the Prime Ministers Mantra of Vocal for Local.
  • Future Programs:
    • Tawang is also known for two other local crafts:
      • Handmade pottery
      • Handmade furniture
    • KVIC announced that within six months plans will be rolled out for revival of these two local arts.
      • Revival of handmade pottery will be taken up on priority under Kumhar Sashaktikaran Yojana very soon.
        • Kumhar Sashaktikaran Yojana (KSY): It was launched in 2018 to strengthen and improve the living of potters in the country by making them self reliant.

Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC)

  • KVIC is a statutory body established under the Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act, 1956.
  • The KVIC is charged with the planning, promotion, organisation and implementation of programmes for the development of Khadi and other village industries in the rural areas in coordination with other agencies engaged in rural development wherever necessary.
  • It functions under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
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