Mayurbhanj Chhau dance form has a long history. Originally a tribal dance, which originated from the forests of Mayurbhanj, Odisha in the 18th century, it got the status of a martial art form in the 19th century.
Slowly & steadily Mayurbhanj Chhau left its martial character and mellowed. Under the Royal Patronage it received proper attention & direction and showed a bright future and utmost perfection as a dance of excellent style in the field of eastern art and culture of India.
Chhau is found in three styles named after the location where they are performed, i.e. the Purulia Chau of Bengal, the Seraikella Chau of Jharkhand, and the Mayurbhanj Chau of Odisha.
The most prominent difference among the three subgenres is regarding the use of masks. While, the Seraikela and Purulia subgenres of Chhau use masks during the dance, the Mayurbhanj Chhau uses none.
Source: The Hindu
Kamsale is known as Beesu Kamsale. It is a unique folk art performed by the devotees of God Mahadeshwara.
Kamsale also refers to a brass made musical instrument. Its origin is traced to the Mythological period. The kamsale comprises a cymbal in one hand and a bronze disc in the other and is used to produce a rhythmic clang.
It is a group dance form performed by the menfolk in villages in the Mysore, Nanjanagudu, Kollegala and Bangalore areas in Karnataka.
Kamsale is used both as an instrument and also as a prop by the dancers themselves.
The Kamsale nritya is closely connected to a tradition of Male Mahadeshwara, or Lord Shiva worship by the haalu kuruba community. Most of the dancers are also drawn from this community.
The dance is performed to rhythmic and melodious music that is sung in praise of “Lord Male Mahadeshwara” or “Shiva”. The dance is a part of a ‘diiksha’, or oath and is taught by teacher or spiritual leader.
Source: The Hindu
Central Information Commission
The Centre is all set to fill the vacancies in the Central Information Commission (CIC).
The 11-member Commission, the highest appeal body available to applicants seeking information under the RTI Act, is currently operating with only three members in the wake of multiple retirements. The eight vacancies include the Chief Information Commissioner, who completed his tenure last month.
How is Central Information Commission constituted?
Under the provision of Section-12 of RTI Act 2005 the Central Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute a body to be known as the Central Information Commission.
Composition: The Central Information Commission shall consist of the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and such number of Central Information Commissioners not exceeding 10 as may be deemed necessary.
What is the eligibility criteria and what is the process of appointment of CIC/IC?
Section 12(3) of the RTI Act 2005 provides as follows.
The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of
Who can be CIC and ICs?
Section 12(5) of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.
Section 12(6) of the RTI Act 2005 provides that Chief Information Commissioner or an Information Commissioner shall not be a Member of Parliament or Member of the Legislature of any State or Union Territory as the case may be, or hold any other office of profit or connected with any political party or carrying on any business or pursuing any profession.
What is the term of office and other service conditions of CIC?
Section 13 of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the Chief Information Commissioner shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall not be eligible for reappointment:
Section 13(5)(a) of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the salaries and allowances payable to and other terms and conditions of service of the Chief Information Commissioner shall be the same as that of the Chief Election Commissioner.
What is the term of office and other service conditions of IC?
Section 13(2) of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the Information Commissioner shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall not be eligible for reappointment as such Information Commissioners provided.
Provided that every Information Commissioner shall on vacating his office under this sub-section be eligible for appointment as the Chief Information Commissioner in the manner specified in sub-section (3) of section 12 of the RTI Act 2005:
Provided further that where the Information Commissioner is appointed as the Chief Information Commissioner, his term of office shall not be more than five years in aggregate as the Information Commissioner and the Chief Information Commissioner.
Section 13(5)(b) of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the salaries and allowances payable to and other terms and conditions of service of an Information Commissioner shall be the same as that of an Election Commissioner.
Source: The Hindu
Mukhyamantri Tirth Yatra Yojana
Delhi state government has launched the ‘Mukhyamantri Tirth Yatra Yojana’ which offers free travel packages for senior citizens from Delhi to five religious circuits.
Highlights of the scheme:
1,100 senior citizens from every constituency of Delhi will be able to avail this facility at one go.
Under this free pilgrimage scheme, a Delhi resident above 60 years will be eligible to take free pilgrimage along with his or her spouse.
There is no income criterion but preference will be given to those from economically weaker sections on first-come-first-serve basis.
Employees of central, state and local government or autonomous bodies are not eligible for the scheme.
The applicant can also take along an attendant above the age of 20 years, if he or his spouse is above 70 years. The expenditure of the attendant will also be borne by the Delhi government.
Those selected for pilgrimage will be covered with an insurance of Rs 1 lakh each.
The applicant will have to give a self-certificate that all information being given by them is correct and they have not availed the scheme in the past.
Selection of pilgrims:
The selection of pilgrims will be done through draw of lots and respective area MLAs will certify whether the intended beneficiaries belong to Delhi or not.
Source: The Hindu
Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban
According to the findings by ratings agency Crisil, the central government has to mobilise Rs 1 lakh crore in the next three years for achieving its target of building 1 crore houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY-U), being implemented by the ministry of housing and urban affairs under the mission ‘Housing for All by 2022’ since June 2015.
This is going to be a tall task given the current fiscal arithmetic. The scheme also faces headwinds such as unavailability of land in prime areas, low participation of private developers on account of brand dilution, bidding mechanism, stringent cost and time schedules resulting in low yields, increasing construction costs due to absence of bulk sourcing of materials, and lack of new technology that impacts productivity, cost efficiency and quality.
Significance of the scheme:
PMAY-U does offer a huge opportunity for several sectors by setting off a virtuous cycle.
One crore houses would mean an opportunity for over Rs 2 lakh crore of home loans, and incremental consumption of 80-100 million tonne of cement and 10-15 million tonne of steel.
The construction opportunity is of about four billion square feet over the life of PMAY-U. And all that would translate into 9-10 crore incremental jobs over the execution period.
About PMAY- Urban:
The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Programme launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), in Mission mode envisions provision of Housing for All by 2022, when the Nation completes 75 years of its Independence.
The Mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers through following programme verticals:
The beneficiaries are poor and people living under EWS and LIG categories in the country.
The scheme is divided into three phases. In the first phase, a total of 100 cities will be covered from April 2015 to March 2017. In phase two, 200 cities will be covered from April 2017 to March 2019. In the third phase, the leftover cities will be covered from April 2019 to March 2022.
The government is providing an interest subsidy of 6.5% on housing loans which can be availed by beneficiaries for 15 years from start of loan date.
The government will grant Rs 1 lakh to all the beneficiaries of the scheme. In addition, Rs 1.5 lakh will be given to all eligible urban poor who want to construct their houses in urban areas or plan to go for renovation in their existing houses. One can also avail loans under this scheme to build toilets in existing houses.
Source: The Hindu
Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
The National Centre of Coastal Research (NCCR) has released a report on beach pollution in India.
Highlights of the report:
The NCCR conducted a qualitative analysis of the litter on six different beaches on the eastern and western coasts. The study notes that beach pollution is on rise in the country.
Tourism and fishing are the biggest culprits, contributing most of the plastic litter on beaches.
The study found that plastic litter from tourism alone accounted for 40%-96% of all beach litter.
At Chennai’s Elliot’s Beach, for instance, plastics left by tourists accounted for 40% of all the litter, while at Gopalpur in Odisha, it was as high as 96%. As for the other four beaches, plastics formed 66% of the overall litter on Fort Kochi Beach, 60% at Karnataka’s Karwar beach, 87% at Visakhapatnam’s R.K. Beach, and 81% at Andaman Island’s Rangachang beach.
After tourism, fishing was the next biggest source of litter. While fishing nets were a major contributor, the processing of fish on the beach also produced a lot of litter.
Also, the proportion of biomedical litter was high in urban areas, such as Elliot’s Beach and Fort Kochi Beach.
Other than the plastic litter dropped by tourists, similar waste from creeks and inlets made its way into the sea in the monsoon.
Most of the litter consisted of plastic bottles, cutlery, and thermocol.
Way ahead- need of the hour:
India needs a national marine litter policy to control and manage waste on land and prevent its entry into the marine environment.
Experts suggest installation of debris booms and fin deflectors upstream as measures to reduce the quantity of floating solid waste entering coastal waters.
India also needs to start blue-flagging its beaches. The ‘blue flag’ is a globally recognised eco-label awarded to beaches and marinas that adhere to strict environmental and safety norms.
More about ‘Blue Flag’ project:
Launched in December 2017 by the Environment Ministry, the prime objective of the project is to enhance standards of cleanliness, upkeep and basic amenities at beaches. Under the project, each state or union territory has been asked to nominate a beach which will be funded through the ongoing Integrated Coastal Management Programme.
Criteria for certification:
To achieve the Blue Flag standards, a beach has to strictly comply with 33 environment and tourism-related conditions. The standards were established by the Copenhagen-based Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) in 1985. For example- a beach must be plastic-free and equipped with a waste management system. Clean water should be available for tourists, apart from international amenities. The beach should have facilities for studying the environmental impact around the area.
Source: The Hindu
Study on air pollution and its effects
Indian Council of Medical Research has released its first comprehensive estimates of deaths, disease burden, and life expectancy reduction associated with air pollution in each state of India.
Highlights of the study:
One in every eight deaths in India is attributable to air pollution, which now contributes to more disease burden than smoking. In fact, the average life expectancy in India would have been 1.7 years higher if the air pollution level were less than the minimal level.
In 2017, air pollution accounted for 12.4 lakh deaths in India, which included 6.7 lakh deaths due to outdoor particulate matter air pollution and 4.8 lakh deaths due to household air pollution. Over half of the deaths due to air pollution were in persons less than 70 years of age. With 18% of the global population, India suffered 26% of premature mortality and health loss attributable to air pollution globally.
Around 77% of India’s population is exposed to outdoor air pollution levels above the National Ambient Air Quality Standards safe limit.
States in east and north India had some of the highest levels of both ambient particulate matter and household air pollution, especially Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Jharkhand. Delhi, Haryana, and Punjab in north India had some of the highest ambient particulate matter pollution exposure in the country.
However, the report recognises the increasing public and policy attention to control air pollution in India.
Air pollution has become a year-round phenomenon particularly in north India which causes health impacts far beyond the seasonal rise of respiratory illnesses. Air pollution is now the leading risk factor for chronic obstructive lung disease in India, and a major contributor to pneumonia and lung cancer.
The report assumes significance as it follows several such reports by the World Health Organisation which have already detailed the major health risks posed by foul air in the country. A special report released by WHO recently at COP 24 said India can get massive health gains— up to $8 trillion by pursuing global warming limit of 1.5 °C.
The UN agency had recently also linked air pollution with increasing child mortality. In 2017, India witnessed 1,10,000 premature deaths of children due to air pollution, highest in the world in the category of children under five years of age.
It is important to have robust estimates of the health impact of air pollution in every state of India in order to have a reference for improving the situation. Household air pollution is reducing in India, facilitated by the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana. There is increasing political momentum in India to address air pollution.
The findings in the study systematically document the variations among states, which would serve as a useful guide for making further progress in reducing the adverse impact of air pollution in the country.
Systematic and sustained efforts are needed to address the variety of sources contributing to air pollution, which include transport vehicles, construction activity, industry and thermal power emissions, residential and commercial solid fuel use, waste and agriculture burning, diesel generators, and manual road dust sweeping.
Source: The Hindu
Freight Village in Varanasi
The Ministry of Shipping has approved the development of Rs. 156 crore freight village in Varanasi adjoining the Inland Waterways Terminal on River Ganga.
The Varanasi freight village will be developed by the Inland Waterways Authority of India.
It will serve as a cargo hub, and a centre for aggregation and value addition.
It will also provide support to stimulate development of a professional logistics industry in Varanasi.
What is a Freight Village?
A freight village is a designated area where facilities for various modes of transportation, distribution of goods and other logistics are available in a synchronized manner on a large scale.
Freight villages are cargo aggregators, offers various logistic choices to a shipper/cargo owner; i.e. choice of railroad; rail-waterway; road-waterway.
The main function is management and utilization of various modes of transport, synergizing them and decongesting the existing mode of transportation.
World Bank Study:
A World Bank pre-feasibility study has found Varanasi to be a suitable site for the freight village.
The traffic volume on inland waterway is expected to increase with the commissioning of the multi modal terminal being built under the Jal Marg Vikas project.
Inland Waterways Authority of India:
It came into existence on 27th October 1986 for development and regulation of inland waterways for shipping and navigation. The Authority primarily undertakes projects for development and maintenance of IWT infrastructure on national waterways through grant received from Ministry of Shipping.
Cabinet approves Agriculture Export Policy, 2018
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister has approved the Agriculture Export Policy, 2018.
The Cabinet has also approved the proposal for establishment of Monitoring Framework at Centre with Commerce as the nodal Department with representation from various line Ministries/Departments and Agencies and representatives of concerned State Governments, to oversee the implementation of Agriculture Export Policy.
Vision of the Agriculture Export Policy:
Harness export potential of Indian agriculture, through suitable policy instruments, to make India global power in agriculture and raise farmers’ income.
The Government has come out with a policy to double farmers’ income by 2022.
Exports of agricultural products would play a pivotal role in achieving this goal.
Sino-India Joint Exercise Hand-in-Hand 2018
Exercise Hand-in-Hand is conducted annually as part of military diplomacy and interaction between armies of India and China.
The exercise will involve tactical level operations in an International Counter Insurgency/Counter Terrorist environment under UN mandate.
The conduct of Joint Military Exercises is also an important step to uphold the values of Peace, Prosperity and Stability in the region.
Aim of the Exercise:
To build and promote close relations between armies of both the countries.
To enhance ability of joint exercise commander to take military contingents of both nations under command.
To acquaint both the Armies with each other’s operating procedure in the backdrop of counter terrorism environment.
Exercise Hand-in-Hand 2018 will go a long way to further cement relationship between both the nations and will act as a catalyst in bringing bonhomie at grassroots levels between the armies of both countries.
The last time the two armies had the joint exercise was in 2016, in Pune, but due to tensions between the two sides over Doklam due to standoff between the armies for more than 70 days, the armies skipped the ‘Hand-in-Hand’ exercise in 2017.
Doklam is a strategically important area which is claimed by Bhutan.
Post Doklam, both countries had been working to increase cooperation. In fact, two leaders met four times on the sidelines of the recently concluded G-20 summit in Argentina.
Sahitya Akademi Award
India’s national academy of letters Sahitya Academy has announced names of 24 poets and authors who will be conferred the prestigious 2018 Sahitya Akademi Award in 24 different Indian languages.
About Sahitya Akademi Award:
It is literary honour that is conferred annually on Indian writers for their outstanding works of literary merit.
It was established in 1954.
It is conferred annually on writers of outstanding works in one of the twenty-four major Indian languages (22 Scheduled Languages+ English and Rajasthani).
The award consists of a casket containing an engraved copper-plaque (designed by film-maker Satyajit Ray), a shawl and cheque of Rs.1 Lakh.