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18th January Current Affairs

Asian Waterbird Census

In News:

The two-day Asian Waterbird Census-2020 commenced in Andhra Pradesh.

About AWC:

Asian Waterbird Census is an annual event in which thousands of volunteers across Asia and Australasia count waterbirds in the wetlands of their country.

This event happens every January.

This event is coordinated by wetlands International and forms part of global waterbird monitoring programme called the International Waterbird Census (IWC).

It was started in the year 1987.

Its main focus is to monitor the status of waterbirds and the wetlands.

In India, the AWC is annually coordinated by the Bombay Natural history Society (BNHS) and Wetlands International.

What are waterbirds?

According to Wetlands International (WI), waterbirds are defined as species of birds that are ecologically dependent on wetlands. These birds are considered to be an important health indicator of wetlands of a region.

Economic Impact due to Internet shutdowns; over double of 20 others’

In News:

Findings of a report by the UK-based privacy and security research firm Top10VPN over on economic impact due to internet shutdowns.

Key Findings:

India suffered the biggest economic impact in the world in 2020 due to Internet shutdowns.

Up to 8,927 hours and $2.8 billion losses.

Internet shutdown:

Internet shutdown is an intentional disruption of Internet or electronic communications, rendering them inaccessible or effectively unusable, for a specific population or within a location, often to exert control over the flow of information.

Areas that are affected:

As in previous years, India continued to restrict Internet access more than any other country over 75 times in 2020.

The majority of these short blackouts were highly targeted, affecting groups of villages or individual city districts, and so were not included in this report, which focuses on larger region-wide shutdowns.

Restrictions in J&K:

The report made a separate mention of the extended curbs on Internet use in Kashmir, with suspension of services lasting from August 2019 when J&K’s special status was scrapped to March 2020 and still remaining severely throttled, with only 2G accesses available.

Calling it the longest Internet shutdown in a democracy the report says, “The restrictions have negatively impacted the distribution of medicine, businesses and schools.”

Foundation stone laid for ‘New Anubhava Mantapa’

In News:

Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa laid the foundation stone for the ‘New Anubhava Mantapa’ in Basavakalyan, the place where 12th century poet-philosopher Basavanna lived for most of his life.


The project will showcase the 12th Century Anubhava Mantapa (often referred to as the “first Parliament of the world”) established by him in Basavakalyan, where philosophers and social reformers held debates.

The building will adopt the Kalyana Chalukya style of architecture.

About Basavanna, his thoughts and contributions:

Basavanna was a 12th-century philosopher, statesman, Kannada poet and a social reformer during the reign of the Kalachuri-dynasty king Bijjala I in Karnataka,

Basavanna spread social awareness through his poetry, popularly known as Vachanaas.

Basavanna rejected gender or social discrimination, superstitions and rituals.

He introduced new public institutions such as the Anubhava Mantapa (or, the “hall of spiritual experience”), which welcomed men and women from all socio-economic backgrounds to discuss spiritual and mundane questions of life, in open.

As a leader, he developed and inspired a new devotional movement named Virashaivas, or “ardent, heroic worshippers of Shiva”. This movement shared its roots in the ongoing Tamil Bhakti movement, particularly the Shaiva Nayanars traditions, over the 7th- to 11th-century.

Basava championed devotional worship that rejected temple worship and rituals led by Brahmins, and replaced it with personalized direct worship of Shiva through practices such as individually worn icons and symbols like a small linga.

Basaveshwara is the first Kannadiga in whose honour a commemorative coin has been minted in recognition of his social reforms.

In November 2015, the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi inaugurated the statue of Basaveshwara along the bank of the river Thames at Lambeth in London.

Basavanna and Sharana movement:

The Sharana movement he presided over attracted people from all castes, and like most strands of the Bhakti movement, produced a corpus of literature, the vachanas, that unveiled the spiritual universe of the Veerashaiva saints.

The egalitarianism of Basavanna’s Sharana movement was too radical for its times.

He set up the Anubhava Mandapa, where the Sharanas, drawn from different castes and communities, gathered and engaged in learning and discussions.

Sharanas challenged the final bastion of the caste order: they organised a wedding where the bridegroom was from a lower caste, and the bride a Brahmin.

How horizontal, vertical quotas work; what Supreme Court said?

In News:

The Supreme Court in Saurav Yadav versus State of Uttar Pradesh case has clarified the position of law on the interplay of vertical and horizontal reservations.


The case was on issues arising from the way different classes of reservation were to be applied in the selection process to fill posts of constables in the state.

What are vertical and horizontal reservations?

Vertical reservation: Reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes is referred to as vertical reservation. It applies separately for each of the groups specified under the law.

Horizontal reservation refers to the equal opportunity provided to other categories of beneficiaries such as women, veterans, the transgender community, and individuals with disabilities, cutting through the vertical categories.

How are the two categories of quotas applied together?

The horizontal quota is applied separately to each vertical category, and not across the board.

For example, if women have 50% horizontal quota, then half of the selected candidates will have to necessarily be women in each vertical quota category i.e., half of all selected SC candidates will have to be women, half of the unreserved or general category will have to be women, and so on.

Overview of the case:

Sonam Tomar and Rita Rani had secured 276.5949 and 233.1908 marks respectively. They had applied under the categories of OBC-Female and SC-Female respectively. OBC and SC are vertical reservation categories, while Female is a horizontal reservation category.

The two candidates did not qualify in their categories. However, in the General-Female (unreserved-female) category, the last qualifying candidate had secured 274.8298 marks, a score that was lower than Tomar’s.

What did the court decide in this case?

The court ruled against the Uttar Pradesh government, holding that if a person belonging to an intersection of vertical-horizontal reserved category had secured scores high enough to qualify without the vertical reservation, the person would be counted as qualifying without the vertical reservation, and cannot be excluded from the horizontal quota in the general category.