Daily Current Affairs – 26-05-2023

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    Mohenjodaro’s Dancing Girl

    Syllabus: GS1/Art & Culture

    In News

    • On the occasion of International Museum Day PM Modi unveiled the Expos mascot – a “contemporised” version of the famous Dancing Girl of Mohenjodaro. The traditional craft of Channapatna toys was used to create this mascot.

    Channapatna toys

    • Channapatna toys are a particular form of wooden toys and dolls that are manufactured in the town of Channapatna in the Ramanagara district of Karnataka.
    • This traditional craft is protected as a Geographical Indication (GI).
    • As a result of the popularity of these toys, Channapatna is known as the Gombegala Ooru (toy- town) of Karnataka.
    • Traditionally, the work involved lacquering the wood of the Wrightia tinctoria tree, colloquially called Aale mara (ivory-wood).

    Mohenjo-Daro

    • Mohenjo-Daro or the “Mound of the dead” lies in Larkana district of Sindh (Pakistan), about 5 km away from the Indus.
    • It is one of the largest of the Indus Valley Civilization sites.
    • It was discovered by archeologists Rakhaldas Banerji and Sir John Marshall.
    • The site is famous for its elaborate town planning with street grids with brick pavements, developed water supply, drainage, and covered sewerage systems, homes with toilets, and monumental buildings.
    • Its excavations revealed findings like the Great Bath, Great Granary, a large assembly hall, temple-like structure, the seal of Pashupati and a bust of a bearded man.
    • It is the most glaring example of town planning in the Harappan civilization. The city is divided into citadel and lower city.
    • The civilization went into decline in the middle of the second millennium BC for reasons that are believed to include catastrophic climate change.

    About the Mohenjo Daro Dancing Girl

    • The Dancing Girl was discovered in 1926, by British archaeologist Ernest McKay in a ruined house in the ‘ninth lane’ of Mohenjodaro’s citadel.
    • Even though Mohenjodaro and Harappa became part of Pakistani territory after the Partition, the Dancing Girl remained in India as part of an agreement.
    • Today, the bronze figurine sits in the National Museum of India as an artifact, often referred to as its “star object”.

    Why is it called Dancing Girl?

    • Over the years, the Dancing Girl has been an object of fascination for archaeologists and historians. Of particular interest has been the pose the woman strikes and what that means.
    • John Marshall, Director-General of the ASI from 1902 to 1928 who oversaw the initial excavations in Harappa and Mohenjodaro, described the figurine as “a young girl, her hand on her hip in a half-impudent posture, and legs slightly forward as she beats time to the music with her legs and feet”.
    • As Marshall’s description suggests, it is the pose that the figurine strikes that has led historians to believe that the woman depicted was a dancer. However, there is no other evidence to support this claim.
    • Recent work on the issue has suggested that the “dancer” label came from readings of Indian history from later dates, when court and temple dancers were commonplace.

    Significance

    • The Dancing Girl is evidence of the civilisation’s knowledge of metal blending and lost-wax casting – a complicated process by which a duplicate sculpture is cast from an original sculpture to create highly detailed metallic artefacts.
    • Moreover, the very existence of a figurine such as the Dancing Girl, indicates the presence of high art in Harappan society.
    • While art has probably been around since the very beginning of human existence, the degree of its sophistication indicates a society’s advancement.
    • The Dancing Girl by all appearances is not an object built for some utilitarian purpose – artists took great time to create an artefact of purely symbolic, aesthetic value.

    Source: IE

    Judges Recusal

    Syllabus: GS-2/Polity

    Why in the News?

    • Recently, there have been various instances of judges recusing themselves from hearing cases.

    When does a judge recuse?

    • When there is a conflict of interest, a judge can withdraw from hearing a case to prevent creating a perception that she carried a bias while deciding the case.
    • The conflict of interest can be in many ways — from holding shares in a company that is a litigant to having a prior or personal association with a party involved in the case.
    • Another instance for recusal is when an appeal is filed in the Supreme Court against a judgement of a High Court that may have been delivered by the SC judge when she was in the HC.

    Reasoning

    • The practice stems from the cardinal principle of due process of law that nobody can be a judge in her own case.

    What is the process for recusal?

    • The decision to recuse generally comes from the judge herself as it rests on the conscience and discretion of the judge to disclose any potential conflict of interest.
    • In some circumstances, lawyers or parties in the case bring it up before the judge. If a judge recuses, the case is listed before the Chief Justice for allotment to a fresh Bench.
    • There are no formal rules governing recusals, although several Supreme Court judgments have dealt with the issue.
    • In Ranjit Thakur v Union of India (1987), the Supreme Court held that the tests of the likelihood of bias is the reasonableness of the apprehension in the mind of the party.
    • The 1999 charter ‘Restatement of Values in Judicial Life’, a code of ethics adopted by the Supreme Court states that “A Judge shall not hear and decide a matter in a company in which he holds shares… unless he has disclosed his interest and no objection to his hearing and deciding the matter is raised.”

    Can a judge refuse to recuse?

    • Once a request is made for recusal, the decision to recuse or not rests with the judge.
    • While there are some instances where judges have recused even if they do not see a conflict but only because such an apprehension was cast, there have also been several cases where judges have refused to withdraw from a case.
    • For instance, in 2019, Justice Arun Mishra had controversially refused to recuse himself from a Constitution Bench set up to re-examine a judgement he had delivered previously, despite several requests from the parties.
    • Justice Mishra had reasoned that the request for recusal was really an excuse for “forum shopping” and agreeing could compromise the independence of the judiciary.

    Do judges record reasons for recusal?

    • Since there are no formal rules governing the process, it is often left to individual judges to record reasons for recusal. Some judges disclose the reasons in open court; in some cases, the reasons are apparent.

    Concerns

    • Undermining Judicial Independence: It allows litigants to cherry-pick a bench of their choice, which impairs judicial fairness. Also, the purpose of recusal in these cases undermines both independence and impartiality of the judges.
    • Different Interpretations: As there are no rules to determine when the judges could recuse themselves in these cases, there are different interpretations of the same situation.
    • Delays the Process: Some requests for recusal are made with the intent to intimidate the court or to get better of an ‘inconvenient’ judge or to obfuscate the issues or to cause obstruction and delay the proceedings or in any other way frustrate or obstruct the course of justice.

    Way Forward

    • Recusals should not be used as a tool to manoeuvre justice, as a means to pick benches of a party’s choice, and as an instrument to evade judicial work.
    • Judicial officers must resist all manner of pressure, regardless of where it comes from and if they deviate, the independence of the judiciary would be undermined, and in turn, the Constitution itself.
    • Therefore, a rule that determines the procedure for recusal on part of judges should be made at the earliest.

    Source: TH

    India-South Pacific & FIPIC

    Syllabus: GS2/ Agreements Involving India &/or Affecting India’s Interests

    In News

    • During his recent visit to Papua New Guinea, PM co-chaired the 3rd India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) Summit with the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.

    About the Pacific Island Countries (PICs)

    • Pacific Island Countries (PICs)  is a cluster of 14 island nations dotting the Southwestern Pacific:
      • The Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
    • All these islands are located at the crossroads of strategically important maritime trade corridors.
    • Of the 14 PICs, Fiji and Papua New Guinea (PNG) are the ones with the biggest populations and the most heft.
    • India’s interaction with the PICs has traditionally focussed on its engagement with Fiji and PNG, mainly due to the presence of a large diaspora.
      • About 37% of Fiji’s 849,000 population (2009 estimates) is of Indian origin, and about 3,000 Indians live in PNG.

    History of relations between Fiji, PNG and India

    • Pre-independence:
      • Beginning 1879, Indian indentured labour was transported to Fiji to work on sugarcane plantations.
        • Some 60,000 Indians were brought to the islands between 1879 and 1916; from the early 20th century, Indian traders and others also started arriving in Fiji.
      • Workers’ agitations and the efforts of C F Andrews, a friend of Mahatma Gandhi’s who visited Fiji in 1915 and 1917, led to the abolition of the indenture system in 1920.
    • Post-independence:
      • Fiji’s Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara visited India in 1971 and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visited Fiji in 1981.
        • Following the 1987 coups in Fiji, the High Commission of India and Indian Cultural Centre were closed on May 24, 1990; they reopened in March 1999 and February 2005 respectively.
        • Fiji established its High Commission in New Delhi in January 2004.
      • The Indian High Commission in Port Moresby, PNG, opened in April 1996; diplomatic relations were earlier conducted from Suva, Fiji, or Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
        • PNG opened its resident diplomatic mission in New Delhi in October 2006.

    Significance of India’s relations with the PICs

    • Indian officials say the engagement with the 14 PICs is part of India’s Act East Policy.
    • A major part of the engagement is through development assistance under South-South Cooperation, mainly in the form of capacity building (training, scholarships, grant-in-aid and loan assistance) and community development projects.
    • An initiative launched under the Act East Policy for the PICs is the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC).

    India’s partnership with PICs

    • Community development projects:
      • The development partnership with the PICs include community development projects such as solar electrification, supply of agricultural equipment, computers and LED bulbs for schools, sewing machines, dialysis machines, portable saw mills, boats and pick-up trucks, vehicles, construction of seawalls and coral farms, etc.
      • Other community development projects have included a revamp of libraries and school buildings, renovation of colleges, and provision of IT infrastructure to educational institutes.
    • Climate resilience initiatives:
      • All PICs are vulnerable to climate change and rising sea levels.
      • Initiatives like International Solar Alliance (ISA) and Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) complement the relationship with PICs.
        • Under the CDRI framework, India, along with Australia, the UK and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) launched the Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS) on the sidelines of the COP26 at Glasgow in 2021.
      • Solar Mamas:
        • As part of a project for solar electrification of 2,800 houses in 14 PICs, 70 women solar engineers — called Solar Mamas — have been trained. While addressing climate change and goals of sustainable development, the project also aims to provide livelihoods to women.
    • Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR):
      • India has been providing HADR to the PICs from time to time.
      • It assisted various PICs with the supply of Covid-19 vaccines and medical supplies during the pandemic.

    Challenge of China

    • Chinese initiatives & assistance:
      • China has made forays into the Pacific Islands through economic incentives, and has sought to boost its security relationship with the island states.
      • According to the Sydney-based Low Institute, China’s development support peaked in 2016, and its loans and grants amounted to 8% of all foreign aid to the area between 2011 and 2017, surpassing the US’s 0.3% over the same period.
    • China’s trade:
      • Notably, China’s trade volume with 10 PICs — the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Tonga, PNG, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Niue, and Micronesia — increased more than 30 times from 1992 to 2021.
      • China is the biggest trading partner of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) after Australia and New Zealand.
    • USA & India’s role:
      • Until recently, the South Pacific was considered to be under US influence, managed under the Australia, New Zealand, US (ANZUS) trilateral military alliance.
      • But with China’s growing influence in the region, and the increasing focus on the Indo-Pacific, India’s engagement strategy in the region has evolved.

    About the FIPIC

    • About:
      • The Forum for India–Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) was launched during PM Modi’s visit to Fiji in November 2014.
    • FIPIC includes 14 island countries:
      •  Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu – that are located in the Pacific Ocean, to the northeast of Australia.
    • Significance for India:
      • India’s larger focus is on the Indian Ocean where it has sought to play a major role and protect its strategic and commercial interests.
      • The FIPIC initiative then marks a serious effort to expand India’s engagement in the Pacific region as well.
      • Despite their relatively small size and considerable distance from India, many of these islands have large exclusive economic zones (EEZs).
    • Summits:
      • This was the third FIPIC summit to be held.
      • FIPIC-I, in 2014, took place at Suva, Fiji’s capital city.
      • FIPIC-II was held in 2015 in Jaipur.
      • In 2019, the India-Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) Leaders’ Meeting (comprising delegations of 12 out of the 14 Pacific Islands countries) was held in New York on the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly.

    Source: TH

    Code of Conduct for Civil Servants

    Syllabus: GS2/ Role of Civil Services in Democracy

    In News

    • There are some basic rules a civil servant needs to follow, and the limitations they are placed under.

    Civil Services

    • There are three All India Services (governed by Article 312 of the Indian Constitution) – the Indian Administrative Service, the Indian Police Service and the Indian Forest Service – which are selected by the central government with officers allotted to various state cadres.
    • Other services are called Central Civil Services. These services are under the central government itself with no state cadre system.
      • They include services such as the Indian Foreign Service, the Indian Revenue Service, Customs and Central Excise Service and several others.

    About the Rules

    • There are two sets of rules for civil servants – one for All India Services and the other for Central Civil Services. Specially designed Conduct Rules govern an officer’s behavior and conduct.
    • The AIS Conduct Rules, 1968 and CCS Conduct Rules, 1964 are mostly similar. These were framed based on recommendations from a committee constituted by then Minister of Home Affairs Lal Bahadur Shashtri in 1962.

    Rules

    • Maintaining Integrity: Every member of the Service shall at all times maintain absolute integrity and devotion to duty and shall do nothing which is unbecoming of a member of the Service.
      • Rule 4(1) of the AIS Conduct Rules is more specific. It states, “No member of the Service shall use his position or influence directly or indirectly to secure employment for any member of his family with any private undertaking or Non- Government Organisation.”
    • Assist Political Parties: No member of the Service shall be a member or associated with any political party or any organization which takes part in politics.
      • No member of the Service shall canvas or otherwise interfere with, or use his influence in connection with, or take part in, an election to any legislature or local authority.
    • Expressing personal opinion: Rule 7 of AIS Rules states, “No member of the Service shall, in any radio broadcast or communication over any public media or in any document published anonymously, pseudonymously or in his own name make any statement of fact or opinion,— Which has the effect of an adverse criticism of any current or recent policy or action of the Central Government or a State Government.
    • Taking dowry and Gifts: No member of the Service shall— (i) give or take or abet the giving or taking of dowry; or (ii) demand, directly or indirectly, from the parents or guardian of a bride or bridegroom, as the case may be, any dowry.
      • A member of the service may accept gifts from his near relatives or from his  personal friends having no official dealings with them, but shall make a report to the Government if the value of such gift exceeds Rs.25,000.
    • Penalty: Transgressions can attract two kinds of penalties — major and minor. Major penalties can include “dismissal” from the service as well.

    Source: IE

    Special Protection Group (SPG)

    Syllabus: GS3/ Internal Security

    In News

    • Recently, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notified fresh rules for the elite Special Protection Group (SPG).

    What are the New Rules?

    • The Special Protection Group (SPG) will now be handled by an officer not less than the rank of an Additional Director-General belonging to the Indian Police Service, while junior officers will be appointed on deputation for an initial period of six years.
    • The appointment for the 2nd tenure may be done with the prior approval of the central government for reasons to be recorded.
    • The SPG, will have its headquarters in New Delhi and now be handled by an officer not less than the rank of an Additional Director-General belonging to the Indian Police Service.
    • The general superintendence, direction, command and control, supervision, training, discipline, and administration of the SPG will be vested in the director.
    • These parameters were fixed through a new set of rules issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs under the Special Protection Group Act, 1988 (34 of 1988).

    Special Protection Group (SPG)

    • The SPG is an elite force, specifically raised for the protection of the country’s Prime Minister, former PMs and their immediate family.
    • The force is currently 3,000 strong and it was started in 1985 in the wake of the killing of PM Indira Gandhi in 1984.
    • After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in 1991, the SPG Act was amended, offering SPG protection to all former Prime Ministers and their families for a period of at least 10 years.
    • The SPG is highly trained in physical efficiency, marksmanship, combat and proximate protection tactics and is assisted by all central and state agencies to ensure fool proof security. SPG Special Agents assigned to the PM security detail wear black, Western-style formal business suits, with sunglasses, and carry a two-way encrypted communication earpiece, and concealed handguns. They wear safari suits on occasions.

    Special Protection Group (SPG) Act 1988

    • The Special Protection Group (SPG) Act 1988 provides the constitution & regulation of SPG to provide security to the Prime Minister of India and the former prime ministers and members of their immediate families.
    • The term ‘proximate security’ as mentioned in the Act means the protection provided from close quarters, during the journey by road, rail, aircraft, watercraft or on foot or any other means of transport and shall include the places of functions, engagements, residence.

    Special Protection Group (Amendment) Act, 2019

    • The Act amends Special Protection Group Act 1988 which was in application.
    • The Act reduces Special Protection Group cover to only Prime Minister, former Prime Minister and their immediate family members up to 5 years after ceasing post if they are residing at the residence allotted.

    Source: IE

    Khelo India University Games

    Syllabus: GS2/ Miscellaneous

    In News

    • The Prime Minister inaugurated the Khelo India University Games.

    About

    • Khelo India University Games (KIUG), is a national level multi-sport event held in India, where athletes from universities across the country compete in different sports disciplines.
    • The inaugural edition was held in Odisha in 2020. It is organised by Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports along with Association of Indian Universities, Indian Olympic Association and National Sports Federation.
    • It is the largest university level sports competition in India.
    • Khelo India University Games was launched after the success of the Khelo India Youth Games.
    • The Khelo India University Games is intended to identify and train capable athletes in the age group of 18 to 25 years for the Olympics and the Asian Games.
    • 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 played in our country and establishing India as a great sporting nation.
      • 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.

    KIUG 2023

    • The Khelo India University Games are being held from May 25 to June 3 in Uttar Pradesh.
    • Over 4,750 athletes from more than 200 universities will be competing in 21 sports.
    • The competitions will be organised in Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Lucknow and Gautam Buddha Nagar.

    Source: IE

     

    Foodgrain Production

    Syllabus: GS-3/Economy

    News

    • The Ministry of Agriculture released the Third Advance Estimates of Production of major crops for agricultural year 2022-23.

    Key findings

    • Total Foodgrain Production: As per Third Advance Estimates for 2022-23, Total Foodgrain production in the country is estimated at record 3305.34 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) which is higher by 149.18 LMT as compared to previous year 2021-22.
    • Rice: Total production of Rice during 2022-23 is estimated at (record) 1355.42 LMT. It is higher by 60.71 LMT compared to previous year.
    • Wheat: The production of Wheat (record) in the country is estimated at 1127.43 LMT which is higher by 50.01 LMT as compared to previous year’s production.
    • Maize: Production of Maize in the country during 2022-23 is estimated at (record) 359.13LMT which is higher by 21.83 lakh tonnes than the previous year’s production.
    • Nutri / Coarse Cereals: Production of Nutri / Coarse Cereals is estimated at 547.48 lakh tonnes which is higher by 36.47 LMT than the previous year’s production.
    • Total Pulses Production: Total Pulses production during 2022-23 is estimated at 275.04 LMT which is higher by 2.02 lakh tonnes than previous year’s production of 273.02 LMT.
    • Moong: The production of Moong is estimated at 37.40 LMT which higher by 5.74 LMT as compared to previous year’s production.
    • Total Oilseeds production: Total Oilseeds production in the country during 2022-23 is estimated at record 409.96LMT which is higher by 30.33 lakh tonnes than the previous year’s oilseeds production.
    • Soybean and Rapeseed & Mustard: The production of Soybean and Rapeseed & Mustard is estimated at 149.76 LMT and 124.94 LMT respectively, which is higher by 19.89 LMT and 5.31 LMT respectively than the production of previous year 2021-22.
    • Sugarcane: Total production of Sugarcane in the country during 2022-23 is estimated at record 4942.28LMT. The production of sugarcane during 2022-23 is higher by 548.03 LMT than the previous year’s production.
    • Textiles: Production of Cotton is estimated at 343.47 lakh bales (of 170 kg each) and production of Jute & Mesta is estimated at 94.94 lakh bales (of 180 kg each).

    Source: IE