Skeletal remains of a child found at Tamil Nadu’s Keeladi excavation site

Paper: I

Mains: General Studies-I : Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society.

Why in news:

Skeletal remains of a child were excavated from Konthagai village, part of the sixth phase of ongoing excavations in the ancient site of Keeladi.The skeleton was found buried between two terracotta urns that were also found on the same day. It was 75 cm in height and was found 0.5 m below surface level.

Background:

  • Keeladi excavation site is a Sangam period settlement that is being excavated by the Archaeological Survey of India. This site is located southeast of Madurai in Tamil Nadu, near the town of Keeladi in Sivagangai district.
  • The settlement lies on the bank of the Vaigai River and it reflects the ancient culture of Tamil people.

Key Details:

  • Skeletal remains of a child were excavated from Konthagai village, part of the sixth phase of ongoing excavations in the ancient site of Keeladi.
  • Excavations are currently taking place at Keeladi, Konthagai, Manalur and Agaram villages in Sivaganga district. Konthagai village, located around 2 km from Keeladi, is believed to be a burial site.

Now, China embraces Bangladesh in trade

Paper: II

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in news:

In a significant show of economic diplomacy in South Asia, China has announced tariff exemption for 97% of exports from Bangladesh. And diplomatic sources of Bangladesh have described the Chinese move as a “major success” in Dhaka-Beijing relationship.

Background:

  • Bangladesh imports around $ 15 billion in Chinese goods but its exports to China have been very low in comparison.
  • The leaders of the two countries had discussed enhancing bilateral relation in the background of the economic hardship triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Details:

  • In a significant show of economic diplomacy in South Asia, China has announced tariff exemption for 97 per cent of exports from Bangladesh covering fisheries and leather products.
  • Bangladesh already receives tariff-exemption under the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA). As a result of the latest announcement, more goods from Bangladesh will now be exempted of Chinese tariffs.

Implications:

  • This move is expected to help Bangladesh cushion the economic impact of the pandemic and also emerge as a possible beneficiary alongside Vietnam and Chile of the S.-China trade war.
  • This move is expected to strengthen the China-Bangladesh relationship thus helping China expand its influence in the South Asian Region.

Russia begins discreet moves to defuse India-China tension

Paper: II

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in news:

Russia has launched an energetic behind-the-scenes effort to defuse military tensions between India and China, ahead of hosting a trilateral RIC video conference, which includes External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Background:

  • The violent clash in the Galwan Valley between India and China has resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers and an undeclared number of Chinese troops.

Key Details:

  • Russia has launched an energetic behind-the-scenes effort to defuse military tensions between India and China, ahead of hosting a trilateral Russia-India-China (RIC) video conference.
  • Russian diplomatic sources have stated that Russia has high stakes at a global level in the early resolution of tensions between India and China.
  • Good relations between India and China are central to the rise of Eurasia and the emergence of a multipolar world order.
  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which includes India, Pakistan, Russia and China as well as most of the Central Asian Republics, can act as an anchor of a “post-west” global system. The persistence of tensions between India and China will have a huge negative impact on the SCO.
  • The tensions between India and China can have a detrimental impact on the rise of the emerging economies under the Brazil Russia India China South Africa (BRICS) grouping.

Individual contributions to NDRF get green light from Finance Ministry

Paper: III

Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News:

The Finance Ministry has given approval to a proposal to allow individuals and institutions to contribute directly to the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF). In an office memo issued on Friday, the Expenditure Department said it had no objection to the proposal made by the Union Home Secretary on May 4.

Significance:

  • This is a significant development at a time when many have expressed concerns about donations sent to the PM CARES Fund or the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund, as both claim they are not public authorities subject to questions under the Right to Information Act.

Background:

Plea in Supreme Court:

  • In the light of concerns about donations sent to the PM CARES Fund or the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund, as both claim they are not public authorities subject to questions under the Right to Information Acta plea was made in the SC asking it to order the transfer of contributions made to the PM CARES Fund to the NDRF.
  • The Supreme Court has sought a response from the Centre to the plea.

NDRF:

  • The National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) was set up in accordance with Section 46 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. It is meant to “meet the expenses for emergency response, relief and rehabilitation” for any disaster situation.
  • Although Section 46 includes a clause for grants made by any person or institution, provisions for such donations had not been made.

Key Details:

  • The Finance Ministry has given approval to a proposal made by the Union Home Ministry to allow individuals and institutions to contribute directly to the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF).

Gains from coal mine auction uncertain

Paper: III

Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Context:

The benefits of the Coal Ministry’s proposal to auction 41 coal mines are uncertain as energy production and environmental compliance costs outweigh that from renewable power, said an expert associated with the Union Environment Ministry.

Background:

  • Recently the Prime Minister had announced the opening up of the coal sector to private sector involvement.
  • This it was argued would help realize ₹33,000 crore of capital investment in the next five years.

Issues:

  • Energy sector experts have argued that the benefits of the Coal Ministry’s proposal to auction 41 coal mines are uncertain as energy production and environmental compliance costs outweigh that of renewable power thus questioning the very financial viability of coal mining.
  • The companies seeking coal blocks would have to comply with existing environmental provisions.
  • Fly-ash processing which involves managing the residue from burning coal, involves substantial costs.
  • There is diminishing demand for fossil fuel in the light of climate action and increasing climate commitments.
  • India has committed to ensuring that fossil fuels contribute no more than 60% of its energy production by 2030 as per the 2015 Paris Agreement.
  • Environmentalists have claimed that the opening up of coal mining to the private sector would involve opening up pristine forests to environmental degradation which could result in multiple effects.
  • Mining and transportation of coal would involve a heavy environmental cost; valuable forest cover would be lost and public health would suffer.