Yakshagana is a traditional theatre form of Karnataka.
It is a temple art form that depicts mythological stories and Puranas.
It is performed with massive headgears, elaborate facial make-up and vibrant costumes and ornaments.
Usually recited in Kannada, it is also performed in Malayalam as well as Tulu (the dialect of south Karnataka).
It is performed with percussion instruments like chenda, maddalam, jagatta or chengila (cymbals) and chakratala or elathalam (small cymbals).
Gujarat’s Disturbed Areas Act
The Gujarat government has announced that it would place parts of Khambhat, a town in Anand district under the Disturbed Areas (DA) Act due to the recent communal violence outbreaks in the town.
The Act, also known as the Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, 1991, aims at preventing distress sale of properties in communally-sensitive areas.
Under this Act, permission of district collector is mandatory for the sale or transfer of property in the areas notified as “disturbed” to ensure that the sale was not out of any distress or compulsion, and to see that the seller had received a fair price.
The Act is currently in force in parts of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Bharuch, Kapadvanj, Anand and Godhra towns.
The DA Act was first introduced in Ahmedabad in 1986 to check the large scale distress sale of properties mainly by people of a particular community due to continuous riots in Ahmedabad.
The then Gujarat Chief Minister brought in an ordinance which was later converted into the DA Act in 1991.
However, the focus of the Act has changed from checking distress sale of properties to checking polarisation of disturbed areas through the transfer of properties by alleged coercive means.
A group of scientists have recently discovered a new species of land snail in Brunei.
The new species reside in tropical rainforests and is sensitive to drought and extreme temperatures (which have become more frequent due to climate change).
Hence as an honour to Swedish Climate Change activist Greta Thunberg, who has been making efforts to raise awareness about climate change, the new snail species was named as Craspedotropis Gretathunbergae.
Recently, a tiny species of beetle was also named after her as Nelloptodes Gretae.
In 2018, a new species of beetle (Grouvellinus Leonardodicaprioi) was named after the actor Leonardo DiCaprio (an American actor, producer, and environmentalist).
Archaeological Site near Varanasi
A nearly 4,000-year-old urban settlement has been unearthed in Babhaniyav village (13 km from Varanasi, Uttar pradesh) by a team of surveyors from the Banaras Hindu University (BHU).
The unearthed site could be one of the craft villages mentioned in ancient texts.
During the age of Buddha, there were suburban villages which were in the nature of craft villages, for instance, a carpenter’s village, or chariot-maker’s village in the vicinity of Varanasi.
Crafts villages have been earlier unearthed in Sarnath, Tilmapur and Ramnagar – Uttar Pradesh.
Initial survey of the site in Babhaniyav village had found a temple dating back to the 5th Century AD through 8th Century AD, potteries which are 4000-year-old and walls which are 2000-year-old.
Surveyors have also found a pillar with a two-line text in the Kushan-Brahmi script.
The Kushan dynasty ruled over most of the northern Indian subcontinent, Afghanistan, and parts of Central Asia during 1st century AD – 3rd Century AD.
The inscriptions issued by the Kushan rulers or in areas under their rule include texts in Bactrian, written in Greek script, and in Prakrit written in Brāhmī or Kharoṣṭhī script.
The site gains significance because of its proximity to Varanasi, which is said to be 5,000 years old, though modern scholars believe it to be around 3,000 years old.
According to the experts, the site could be a small sub-centre of Varanasi which grew as an urban town.
The findings are important as Babhaniyav could have been a satellite town and feeding centre for the Varanasi-Sarnath region.
A satellite town is a smaller city that is near a large(r) metropolis. It has all the necessary amenities and facilities present within its limits except for a few purposes like employment and sometimes education, it has to depend on the larger city.
Visit of Home Minister of Maldives
The Home Minister of Maldives, Mr. Sheikh Imran Abdulla, met Indian Home Minister on 21st February, 2020.
During the meeting, both the ministers discussed issues of mutual interest in the area of security and law enforcement cooperation.
The Ministers welcomed the expansion of bilateral cooperation between India and Maldives in diverse fields including policing and law enforcement, counter-terrorism, counter-radicalization, organized crime, drug trafficking and capacity building.
The Directorate of Enforcement will assist Maldives in setting up a probe agency like itself and guide the island nation on raising a Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) infrastructure.
The Directorate of Enforcement is a multi disciplinary organization mandated with the task of enforcing the provisions of two special fiscal laws – Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA) and Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA). It is headquartered in New Delhi.
Significance of Maldives for India:
Maldives’ proximity to the west coast of India – Maldives is barely 70 nautical miles away from Minicoy -the southernmost island of Lakshadweep.
Lakshadweep group is separated from Maldives by Eight Degree Channel.
It is situated at the hub of commercial sea-lanes running through Indian Ocean. More than 97% of India’s international trade by volume and 75% by value passes through the region.
Its potential to allow a third nation’s naval presence in the area.
Since China’s naval expansion into the Indian Ocean , Maldives significance has steadily grown and now it’s at the heart of international geopolitics.
Moreover, the Maldives is an important aspect of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.
‘India First’ has been a stated policy of the Government of Maldives.
Maldives is a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC).
There is a significant Indian diaspora in the Maldives. Innumerable Indians work across the hospitality, education, and health-care sectors of the Maldives economy.
Relations Between the Two Countries :-
History: India and Maldives share ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and commercial links. India was among the first to recognize Maldives after its independence in 1965 and later established its mission at Male in 1972.
Defence: India provides the largest number of training opportunities for Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF), meeting around 70% of their defence training requirements.
‘Ekuverin’ is a joint military exercise between India and Maldives.
Disaster Management: The Government of India has provided large-scale assistance to Maldives in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and during the 2014 Male water crisis.
Trade and Tourism: India is Maldives’ 4th largest trade partner after UAE, China and Singapore. In 2018, India was the 5th largest source of tourist arrivals in Maldives.
The Maldivian economy is heavily dependent on its tourism sector, which is the major source of foreign exchange earnings and government revenue.
Operation Cactus: In 1988, in response to a request from the Maldives, India activated Operation Cactus to deploy its military and ensure regime continuity in Male.
Centre is moving ahead with its plan to develop Rakhigarhi as a tourist hub and set up a museum.
As part of encroachment removal at the Rakhigarhi heritage site, 152 households are being shifted to flats.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced the government’s plan to fund five on-site museums, including the under-construction museum initiated by the Haryana government at Rakhigarhi, in her Budget speech on February 1.
Other sites mentioned in the Budget — Hastinapur in Uttar Pradesh, Shivsagar in Assam, Dholavira in Gujarat and Adichanallur in Tamil Nadu.
What’s the issue now?
Rakhigarhi’s rise as a site of ancient curiosity has disrupted the villager’s life to an extent.
The ASI has been able to get under its control just 83.5 acres of the 350-hectare site that spans 11 mounds, after first taking over the site in 1996, due to encroachments and pending court cases.
Rakhigarhi, in Haryana, became an archaeological hotspot when Amarendra Nath, former director of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), undertook excavations at the site in 1997.
Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020
Union Cabinet has approved the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020.
The amended bill is reformed version of the draft legislation which was passed by Lok Sabha in August 2019 but its provisions, including that only a close relative of a couple can be a surrogate mother, had invi ted criticism.
The bill incorporates all recommendations made by a Rajya Sabha select committee, which studied an earlier version of the draft legislation, and is aimed at banning commercial surrogacy and allowing altruistic surrogacy.
Key features of the Bill: