GS PAPER I
Palaeolithic cave paintings
Why in News
Archaeologists have discovered cave paintings in a rocky and forested corner of Haryana, that they believe belong to the Upper Palaeolithic age, which could be one of the oldest cave arts in the country.
- The caves are nestled amid a maze of quartzite rocks in the Aravalli Mountain ranges, and a stone’s throw from the region’s only surviving patch of primary forest, a holy grove called Mangar Bani.
- Most pre-historic sites have been traced in the Aravalli region. The paintings are yet to be dated but at least some of them belong to the Upper Palaeolithic period in all likelihood.
- The paintings in continuation with the Soanian culture which has been found in Shivalik hills, Narmada and Aravallis.
- The team encountered cave paintings comprising images of human figurines, animals, foliage, and geometric, some that have paled over time, but others that are still very visible.
- It also encountered rock art and open-air ceremonial sites. While some could be spotted in the open air, a majority of them are on the ceilings of the rock shelters.
- The Upper Palaeolithic Age began around 40,000 years ago and lasted till around 10,000 years ago.
- It is for the first time that cave paintings and rock art of a large magnitude have been found in Haryana.
Other explorations of area
- The caves and the paintings themselves are reminiscent of Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh, which is home to the oldest known cave art in India, dating back to the Mesolithic Age (around 10,000 years ago).
- The Mangar cave art is 20,000-40,000 years old, but this is something that can be established through archaeological dating. Experts also use qualitative techniques, by comparing the cave art to other cave art, and that found in other excavations.
- The Stone Age lasted from 30,000 BCE to about 3,000 BCE and is named after the main technological tool developed at that time: stone.
- It was ended with the advent of the Bronze Age and Iron Age.
- The Stone Age is divided in three distinct periods:
- Palaeolithic Period or Old Stone Age (30,000 BCE–10,000 BCE),
- Mesolithic Period or Middle Stone Age (10,000 BCE–8,000 BCE), and
- Neolithic Period or New Stone Age (8,000 BCE–3,000 BCE).
- The art of the Stone Age represents the first accomplishments in human creativity, preceding the invention of writing.
GS PAPER II
Van Dhan Vikas Yojana
Why in News
The Union Minister of Tribal Affairs reviewed the progress of various schemes and activities being implemented for the empowerment of tribals by TRIFED.
- On the occasion, the various activities and initiatives under “Sankalp Se Siddhi – Mission Van Dhan” of TRIFED were reviewed by the Ministers.
- It was noted that TRIFED has been implementing several noteworthy programmes for the empowerment of the tribals.
- Over the past two years, the ‘Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) & Development of Value Chain for MFP’ has impacted the tribal ecosystem in a major way.
- Under Retail Marketing, a total number of 140 Tribes India Outlets have been opened till date that have made a total sale of Rs.55.43 Cr.
Van Dhan Vikas Yojana
- The Van Dhan Scheme is an initiative of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and TRIFED, was launched on 14th April, 2018.
- Its objective is to improve tribal incomes through value addition of tribal products.
- It introduced as “Tribal Start Ups” for value addition, branding, packing and marketing of Forest and other tribal produces through tribal gatherers.
- As per TRIFED, under Van Dhan Yojana, establishment of 37,872 Van Dhan Vikas Kendra’s (VVDK) have been sanctioned against the Sankalp Patra target of 50,000 VDVKs in Tribal area, which are subsumed into 2274 VDVK Clusters directly benefitting 6.76 Lakh beneficiaries/ around 1200 VDVK Clusters are operational.
- The target of setting up of 50,000 VDVKs incorporating 10 Lakh tribal entrepreneurs has to be completed by 30th July 2021.
- The scheme is now expanded to 22 States covering 87 MFP items impacting 25 lakhs families.
Minor Forest Produce
- Minor Forest Produce (MFP) is a major source of livelihood for tribals living in forest areas.
- This includes non-timber forest produce of plant origin such as bamboo, canes, fodder, leaves, gums, waxes, dyes, resins and many forms of food including nuts, wild fruits, honey, and lac.
- The importance of MFPs for Tribals can be gauged from the fact that around 100 million forest dwellers depend on MFPs for food, shelter, medicines and cash income.
- It provides them critical subsistence during the lean seasons, particularly for primitive tribal groups such as hunter gatherers, and the landless.
- Tribals derive 20-40% of their annual income from MFP on which they spend major portion of their time.
- It has strong linkage to women’s financial empowerment as most of the MFPs are collected and used/sold by women.
- MFP sector has the potential to create about 10 million workdays annually in the country.
- Besides, two TRIFOOD Projects at Jagdalpur and Raigarh (Maharashtra) are being shortly commissioned for undertaking value-addition of various forest products being procured by beneficiaries of Van Dhan Kendras.
- Each of these mega-food parks will scale up value addition, marketing, packaging and branding operation as a professionally managed manufacturing and production hub.
- It will directly provide livelihood to more than 10,000 tribal families. These projects are being set up in collaboration with Ministry of Food Processing Industries.
GS PAPER II
BRICS Tourism Ministers’ meeting
Why in News
Recently, Ministry for Tourism chaired the BRICS Tourism Ministers’ meeting on 13th July, 2021, as part of India’s BRICS chairmanship.
- The Ministers of all the member countries viz. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa participated in the meeting.
- India organized the BRICS Tourism Ministers’ Meeting as an effective means to promote tourism cooperation among BRICS countries.
- The meeting reviewed the intra BRICS Tourism cooperation. The significant aspect of the meeting was the adoption of the Ministers’ Communique, an outcome document on cooperation and promotion of tourism among the BRICS countries.
- The Ministers’ Communique recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic has severely endangered public health and has presented immense challenges to the implementation of sustainable development goals.
- Ministry of Tourism stressed on the importance of the BRICS member States to have a good understanding of each other’s tourism products and offerings so as to encourage further growth of tourist inflow between the BRICS member countries.
- Ministry of Tourism also mentioned that the common tourism products in BRICS countries such as heritage & culture tourism, nature, wildlife, Eco tourism etc., present an opportunity for greater cooperation and exchange of information and best practices.
- BRICS is the acronym coined to associate five major emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
- The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs.
- Originally, it was established as a group of four economy i.e., “BRIC” in 2006.
- Later, in 2010, South Africa was inducted as the fifth member and became “BRICS”.
- Four out of five members are among the world’s ten largest countries by population and by area, except for South Africa, the twenty-fourth in both.
- They held its first meeting in 2009 and since then, the governments of the BRICS states have met annually at formal summits.
- Russia hosted the most recent 12th BRICS summit on 17 November 2020 virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Bilateral relations among BRICS states are conducted mainly based on non-interference, equality, and mutual benefit.
GS PAPER III
S&P Global Ratings
Why in News
S&P Global Ratings kept India’s sovereign rating unchanged at the lowest investment grade of ‘BBB’ for the 14th year in a row.
- It is said the government’s ability to execute additional economic reforms that spur investment and create jobs will be crucial for recovery from the current economic slowdown.
- S&P projected a 9.5% GDP growth in the current fiscal year that began in April and a 7.8% expansion in the following year.
- Forecasting economic recovery to gain pace through the second half of 202122 fiscal, S&P kept the rating outlook at stable.
- The government’s ability to deliver and execute additional economic reforms, especially those that spur investment and job creation, will be important for India’s ability to recover from the economic slowdown.
- Expected economic activity in India to begin to normalise throughout the remainder of fiscal 2022, resulting in real GDP growth of about 9.5%.
- The stable outlook reflects expectation that India’s economy will recover following the resolution of the COVID19 pandemic, and that the country’s strong external settings will act as a buffer against financial strains despite elevated government funding needs over the next 24 months.
S&P Global Ratings
- S&P Global Ratings is an American Credit Rating Agency (CRA) and a division of S&P Global that publishes financial research and analysis on stocks, bonds, and commodities.
- It is considered the largest of the Big Three credit-rating agencies, which also include Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings.
- Its head office is located on 55 Water Street in Lower Manhattan, New York City.
- As a Credit Rating Agency (CRA), the company issues credit ratings for the debt of public and private companies, and other public borrowers such as governments and governmental entities.
- It is one of several CRAs that have been designated a nationally recognized statistical rating organization by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
GS PAPER III
Green Hydrogen Mobility Project
Why in News
Recently, the National Thermal Power Corporation Limited signed a MoU with Union Territory of Ladakh and LAHDC to setup the country’s first Green Hydrogen Mobility project, strengthening the India’s vision to ensure a carbon free economy based on renewable sources and green hydrogen.
- According to the Union Ministry of Power, Leh is soon going to become India ‘s first city to implement a green hydrogen-based mobility project with zero emission.
- The signing of the MoU was also marked with the inauguration of NTPC’s first solar installations in Leh in form of solar trees and a solar car port.
- The MoU will enable NTPC to help Ladakh develop a carbon free economy based on renewable sources and green hydrogen. This is also in line with the India’s vision of a ‘carbon neutral’ Ladakh.
- NTPC has planned to ply 5 hydrogen buses, to start with, in the region and the company will be setting up a solar plant and a green hydrogen generation unit in Leh towards this end. This will put Leh as the first city in the country to implement a green hydrogen-based mobility project.
- NTPC has been aggressively pushing for greening its portfolio and green hydrogen project is another step towards achieving low carbon footprint.
Other projects of NTPC
- NTPC has also been promoting usage of green hydrogen-based solutions in sectors like mobility, energy, chemical, fertilizer, steel etc.
- NTPC has recently revised its target of achieving 60GW renewables capacity by 2032, almost doubling the earlier target.
- Recently, NTPC has commissioned India’s largest floating solar project of 10MW at Vishakhapatnam.
National Thermal Power Corporation Limited
- NTPC Limited or National Thermal Power Corporation Limited, is an Indian government-owned electric utility company.
- It is a company incorporated under the Companies Act 1956, under the ownership of Ministry of Power and engaged in the business of generation of electricity and allied activities.
- The headquarters of the company is situated at New Delhi. Its core business is the generation and sale of electricity to state-owned power distribution companies and State Electricity Boards in India.
- The company also undertakes consultancy and turnkey project contracts that involve engineering, project management, construction management, and operation and management of power plants.
Solar Park in India
Why in News
NTPC is going to set up India’s single largest solar park at Rann of Kutch, Gujarat.
- NTPC Renewable Energy Ltd has been permitted by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) to set up 4750 MW renewable energy park at Rann of Kutch in Khavada, Gujarat.
- This will be India’s largest solar park to be built by the largest power producer of the country.
- NTPC Renewable Energy Ltd (NTPC REL), has been given the go-ahead by MNRE on 12th July 2021 under Mode 8 (Ultra Mega Renewable Energy Power Park) of Solar Park Scheme.
- NTPC REL has plans to generate green hydrogen on a commercial scale from this park.
- It aims to build 60 GW Renewable Energy Capacity by 2032. Currently, the state-owned power major has an installed capacity of 66 GW across 70 power projects with an additional 18 GW under construction.
- Recently, NTPC has also commissioned India’s largest Floating Solar of 10 MW (ac) on the reservoir of Simhadri Thermal Power Plant, Andhra Pradesh. An additional 15 MW (ac) would be commissioned by August 2021.
- Further, a 100 MW Floating Solar Project on the reservoir of Ramagundam Thermal Power Plant, Telangana is in the advanced stage of implementation.
- It was reported on 11th October 2019 about India’s plans to set up solar and wind projects on fallow land along its international border with Pakistan to address the issue of land availability for clean energy projects in the country.
- NTPC’s pivot towards green energy comes at a time when India is considering a proposal to make it mandatory for fertilizer plants and oil refineries to purchase green hydrogen as part of plans to cut the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels.
- NTPC’s park is part of the central government’s plan of making state-run companies build massive clean energy parks to help developers achieve economies of scale and further bring down solar and wind power tariffs.
National Maritime Security Coordinator
Why in News
Two decades after the recommendation by the Kargil Group of Ministers (GoM), the Union government is set to appoint a National Maritime Security Coordinator (NMSC).
- It will be set-up to interface between the civilian and military maritime domains with the objective of enhancing India’s security architecture and energy security.
- The maritime security coordinator will work under the National Security Adviser (NSA), and be the principal advisor to the government on maritime security domain.
- The appointment of NMSC will fill the need of the hour as the Navy, Coast Guard, and state maritime boards tend to work in silos with overlapping jurisdictions and are constantly at odds with each other.
- While India has suffered from sea blindness over the years with land-based security doctrines, historically and geo-strategically, it has 7,000km of coastline and over 2 million km of exclusive economic zone.
- Over 70% of Indian trade, including vital crude oil, is transported through sea, and the protection of sea shipping lanes is vital to India’s security on June 16 clearing the Deep Ocean Mission for blue water economy.
- The creation of NMSC is part of India’s Act East Policy vision, that also includes SAGAR (Security and Growth of All in the Region), the Deep Ocean Mission, and the Sagarmala project to make India’s 12 major ports world class.