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10 December Current Affairs

Heritage Park for Hindus, Buddhists in Elum Valley in Pak

In News:

The Khyber Pakthunkhwa province in Pakistan is planning to construct a heritage park in Elum Valley, which carries a historical significance to both the Hindus and the Buddhists, to promote religious tourism.

Details:

Under the project, the Elum Valley would be made a safe abode for the followers of Hinduism and Buddhism and as well as for tourists visiting the heritage park.

Under the project, fencing of the entire Elum Valley would be done and a separate track would be constructed in the heritage park.

Elum Valley and its significance:

Elum Valley is located between the Swat and Buner districts in the province, Elum Valley has been a site of divinity and pilgrimage for both the Hindu and the Buddhist communities.

According to Hindu belief, Lord Ram spent time meditating there during his 14 years of exile, while Buddhists believe it to be the site where a previous incarnation of Lord Buddha gave up his life.

Source: The Hindu

Karmapa now a Dominican citizen

In News:

The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, who has been out of India since May 2017, has taken the citizenship and passport of Dominica, a Caribbean island country. The passport of Dominica allowed Karmapa the visa-free entry into many Commonwealth countries.

About Karma Kagyu school:

The Karma Kagyu lineage belongs to one of the 4 main schools of Tibetan Buddhism. As a lineage of direct oral transmission it places particular emphasis on meditation and the realization of the direct experience of mind gained through the guidance of a teacher.

The Karma Kagyu lineage has its roots in the teachings of the historical Buddha and developed into a practical way to enlightenment in India and Tibet.

For over a 1000 years Buddhist Masters (Mahasiddhas) such as Naropa and Maitripa in India as well as the famous Tibetan Yogis Marpa and Milarepa shaped the lineage as a practical everyday practice for lay people.

Karmapa:

Since the 12th century the Karmapas have been the heads of the Karma Kaygü lineage and responsible for the continuation of this direct transmission lineage.

Source: The Hindu

39th GCC summit and Riyadh declaration

In News:

The 39th session of the GCC summit was held recently in Riyadh. At the end of the summit, the council issued the ‘Riyadh Declaration’, which included 72 items covering matters related to the Gulf countries, the region and the world.

Details:

The 40th session of the GCC summit will be held in the UAE, according to a communique issued at the end of the 39th summit in Riyadh.

About GCC:

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a political and economic alliance of six countries in the Arabian Peninsula: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Established in 1981, the GCC promotes economic, security, cultural and social cooperation between the six states and holds a summit every year to discuss cooperation and regional affairs.

All current member states are monarchies, including three constitutional monarchies (Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain), two absolute monarchies(Saudi Arabia and Oman), and one federal monarchy (the United Arab Emirates).

Structure:

The GCC comprises six main branches that carry out various tasks, from the preparation of meetings to the implementation of policies. They are- Supreme Council, Ministerial Council, Secretariat-General, Consultative Commission, Commission for the Settlement of Disputes and the Secretary-General.

Role of GCC today:

Whether the GCC still has a relevant function and role in the region is questionable. Though it was created for the purpose of solidifying union ranks, the blockade imposed on Qatar by its neighbours has largely annulled these principles.

The Gulf states have in the past differed in their views on several issues that have unfolded in the region over the past two decades. The role of the GCC has also been diminishing ever since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, with the six states illustrating various approaches to the war and its consequences. This has been enhanced during the wave of protests that swept the Middle East in 2011, known as the Arab Spring. Saudi Arabia has gained a dominant role within the GCC today.

Source: The Hindu

Maldives has applied to rejoin Commonwealth

In News:

Maldives has applied to rejoin the Commonwealth.

Background:

Two years ago, the country’s former leader Yameen withdrew the Maldives from the Commonwealth after it mounted pressure on him to protect human rights and ensure the rule of law amid a ferocious crackdown on dissent.

About Commonwealth of Nations:

The Commonwealth of Nations, at one time known as British Commonwealth, is an organisation of fifty three states that were principally below the colonial rule of British Government. They came into existence with the proclamation of sovereignty of the state from the colonial rule of British Empire and were later given self-governance.

It proclaims that the Commonwealth nations are “free and equal.” The insignia of this Commonwealth Association is Queen Elizabeth II who is considered the Supreme of the Commonwealth nations.

The member states of the commonwealth are not legally liable or bound to each other. They are rather united by language, history, culture, likeness of the democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Their values are listed down within the Commonwealth Charter and the hands of harmony towards the member states are extended by the Commonwealth Games held every four years.

Former British mandates that did not become members of the Commonwealth are Egypt, Transjordan, Iraq, British Palestine, Sudan, British Somaliland, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

Key facts:

Former name — British Commonwealth.

Composition: intergovernmental organisation of 53 member states that are mostly former territories of the British Empire.

It operates by intergovernmental consensus of the member states.

Established in 1949 by the London Declaration.

Structure: Head of the Commonwealth — Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of the Commonwealth. The position is symbolic.

Source: The Hindu

Amendments to the Citizenship Rules, 2009

In News:

Union Home Ministry has notified amendments to the Citizenship Rules, 2009. The Centre has made the changes under Section 18 of the Citizenship Act, 1955.

Changes:

The amendments seek to include a separate column in the citizenship form for applicants belonging to six minority communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Under the amendments, a separate entry in the form will ask the applicant: “Do you belong to one of the minority communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, Sikhs and Christians?”

What necessitated this?

The contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, is pending in Parliament. A parliamentary committee has been examining the Bill. It has run into strong resistance in Assam because it will pave the way for giving citizenship mostly to illegal Hindu migrants from Bangladesh in Assam, who came after March 1971, in violation of the 1985 Assam Accord.

What is the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016?

The Citizenship Amendment Bill was proposed in Lok Sabha on July 19, amending the Citizenship Act of 1955.

If this Bill is passed in Parliament, illegal migrants from certain minority communities coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan will then be eligible for Indian citizenship.

In short, illegal migrants belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian religious communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan would not be imprisoned or deported.

Moreover, these citizens gain permanent citizenship after six years of residency in India instead of 11 years — as mentioned in the Citizenship Act (1955).

The registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may get cancelled if they violate any law.

What is the Citizenship Act 1995?

Under Article 9 of the Indian Constitution, a person who voluntarily acquires citizenship of any other country is no longer an Indian citizen.

Citizenship by descent: Persons born outside India on or after January 26, 1950, but before December 10, 1992, are citizens of India by descent if their father was a citizen of India at the time of their birth.

From December 3, 2004, onwards, persons born outside of India shall not be considered citizens of India unless their birth is registered at an Indian consulate within one year of the date of birth.

In Section 8 of the Citizenship Act 1955, if an adult makes a declaration of renunciation of Indian citizenship, he loses Indian citizenship.

Who is an illegal immigrant?

According to the Citizenship Act (1955), an illegal immigrant is defined as a person who enters India without a valid passport or stays in the country after the expiry of the visa permit. Also, the immigrant who uses false documents for the immigration process.

What are the guidelines to become an Indian citizenship?

Citizenship is granted to an individual by the government of the country when he/she complies with the legal formalities, so it’s like a judicial concept.

In India, the Citizenship Act, 1995 prescribes five ways of acquiring citizenship:

  • Birth
  • Descent
  • Registration
  • Naturalization
  • Incorporation of the territory.

Source: The Hindu

Bioplastics not an eco-friendly alternative to plastic- Study

In News:

A study was conducted by the University of Bonn in Germany on the use of bioplastics and its effects on the environment.

Details:

Bioplastics — often promoted as a climate-friendly alternative to petroleum-based plastics — may lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

But, how?

Bioplastics are in principle climate-neutral since they are based on renewable raw materials such as maize, wheat or sugar cane. These plants get the CO2 that they need from the air through their leaves. Producing bioplastics therefore consumes CO2, which compensates for the amount that is later released at end-of-life. Overall, their net greenhouse gas balance is assumed to be zero. Bioplastics are thus often consumed as an environmentally friendly alternative.

However, at least with the current level of technology, this issue is probably not as clear as often assumed. This is because the production of bioplastics in large amounts would change land use globally. This could potentially lead to an increase in the conversion of forest areas to arable land. However, forests absorb considerably more CO2 than maize or sugar cane annually, if only because of their larger biomass.

Concerns over the increased use of plastics:

Plastics are usually made from petroleum, with the associated impacts in terms of fossil fuel depletion but also climate change. The carbon embodied in fossil resources is suddenly released to the atmosphere by degradation or burning, hence contributing to global warming.

This corresponds to about 400 million metric tonnes of CO2 per year worldwide, almost half of the total greenhouse gases that Germany emitted to the atmosphere in 2017. It is estimated that by 2050, plastics could already be responsible for 15% of the global CO2 emissions.

Main advantages of bioplastics:

  • They can reduce our carbon footprint.
  • Less consumption of non-renewable raw materials.
  • A reduction of non-biodegradable waste, which contaminates the environment.
  • Increased energy savings in terms of production.
  • Fewer harmful additives such as phthalates or bisphenol A.
  • No adverse change to flavour or scent in food stored in bioplastic containers.

Source: The Hindu

Ex Aviaindra 2018

In News:

Ex AVIAINDRA, a service specific exercise between Indian Air Force and Russian Federation Aerospace Force (RFSAF) is planned at Air Force Station Jodhpur.

AVIAINDIRA-2018:

Exercise Aviaindra is an Air Force level exercise between India and the Russian Federation.

First Aviaindra was conducted in 2014, planned as a bi-annual exercise.

AVIAINDRA-2018 is the second in the series of bilateral joint exercise between IAF-RFSAF (the exercise is unique, where the foreign participants does not bring its assets).

Aim of the Exercise:

The aim of the exercise is focused towards anti-terrorist operations in a bi-lateral scenario. This further enhances the co-operation and understanding each other’s Concept of Operations.

Background:

Russia has been a major partner of India in the defence sector and the cooperation has been steadily growing further.

In October 2017, India and Russia held a 10-day mega war game involving their armies, navies and air forces for the first time ramp up military ties.

The exercise Indra, which took place in Russia, primarily focused on achieving coordination between forces of the two countries in tri-services integrated theatre command scenario.

It was the first time, India participated in tri-services exercise with a foreign country with large scale participation by the Navy, the Army and the Air Force.

Source: PIB

1st International Conference on Sustainable Water Management at Mohali

In News:

The first International Conference under the aegis of National Hydrology Project, Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation is being organized by Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) at Indian School of Business (ISB), Mohali on the theme ‘Sustainable Water Management’.

Aims of the Conference:

To foster the participation of and dialogue between various stakeholders, including governments, the scientific and academic communities, so as to promote sustainable policies for water management,

To create awareness of water-related problems, motivate commitment at the highest level for their solution and thus promote better management of water resources at local, regional, national and international levels.

The main aim is to bring advancement in water management system to further reduce flood and draughts all over the Globe.

Source: PIB

Khelo India Youth Games

In News:

After the first edition of the Khelo India School Games 2017, the second edition, the games has become an initiative of the Central Government, has expanded in its scope, and will allow participants to compete in two categories (under 17 and under 21).

About Khelo India –

The Khelo India programme has been introduced to revive the sports culture in India at the grass-root level by building a strong framework for all sports in India and establish India as a great sporting nation.

To accomplish the above objectives, Khelo India programme has been divided into 12 verticals, namely:

  • Play Field Development
  • Community Coaching Development
  • State Level Khelo India Centres
  • Annual Sports Competition
  • Talent Search and Development
  • Utilization and Creation/Upgradation of Sports Infrastructure
  • Support to National/Regional/State Sports Academics
  • Physical fitness of school children
  • Sports for Women
  • Promotion of sports amongst people with disabilities
  • Sports for Peace and Development
  • Promotion of rural and indigenous/tribal games

Talented players identified in priority sports disciplines at various levels by the High-Powered Committee will be provided annual financial assistance of INR 5 lakh per annum for 8 years.

Khelo India School Games are a part of the Khelo India programme.

There are 16 disciplines as follows:

Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Boxing, Football, Gymnastics, Hockey, Judo, Kabaddi, Kho-Kho, Shooting, Swimming, Volleyball, Weightlifting, and Wrestling.

Source: PIB

India’s tallest bridge pier built in Noney, Manipur

In News:

The Northeast Frontier Railway Construction Organization has constructed India’s tallest pier as part of the project to build a railway bridge at Noney in Manipur. The proposed bridge will be the world’s tallest railway bridge.

Key facts:

The bridge is being constructed across the valley of river Ijai near Noney, with the height of the final pier being 141 metres. The total length of the Noney bridge will be 703 metres.

On completion, the bridge will surpass the existing world record, held by the 139-metre Mala-Rijeka viaduct in Montenegro.

The bridge is a part of the 111-km Jiribam-Tupul-Imphal new broad gauge line project, a national project which is set to be completed by 2022. The project also includes 45 tunnels, the longest being 10.28 km, which will be the longest railway tunnel of the northeast.

Dead Sea Scrolls

  • The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of ancient manuscripts that include the earliest existing copies of books from the Hebrew Bible, date from the 3rd century BC to the 1st century AD.
  • Around 900 scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in the Qumran caves above the Dead Sea.
  • Israeli scholars have recently deciphered one of the previously unread manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
  • The latest deciphered scroll contains references to the 364-day calendar used by the sect, as opposed to the lunar calendar used in Jewish religious practice today.
  • It also refers to annual wine and olive harvest festivals no longer observed in Judaism.

Discovery of Ape Fossil

  • Researchers have recently unearthed 11 million years old the Ape fossil in Kutch, Gujarat.
  • It is the oldest and the only known ape fossil discovered in peninsular India.
  • Fossils of Ape have been previously unearthed near the Siwalik hill range, spreading across Pakistan, Churia Hills in Nepal and around the Himalayas.
  • But this new finding, almost 1,000 km south from the previous finds has increased the geographic range of the genus.
  • Many associated mammal fossils belonging to the Miocene age have been discovered in Kutch in the past, including whales and sea cows.
  • That’s the reason, Kutch is considered as a paradise for fossils.
  • The new discovery will help to understand in detail the evolution of great apes.

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