Daily Current Affairs for 18th Sep 2023

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Guardian Statues of the New Parliament Building

Why in the news?

Recently, the vice president hoisted the national flag at the ‘Gaja Dwar’ of the new Parliament building, ahead of its first session.

  • Red sandstone sculptures of auspicious animals have been installed as ‘guardian statues’ on all six entrances of the new Parliament building, based on their importance in Indian culture, aesthetic appearance, positive qualities, and the study of Vaastu.

The Six Guardian Statues

  • GAJA: The Gaja Dwar is the north entrance to the complex and is guarded by the sculpture of an elephant. The Gaja is a symbol of intellect and memory, wealth and wisdom, and thereby embodies the aspirations of the elected representatives of a democracy.
  • ASVA: Asva or the horse, standing alert and ready at the southern entrance, is symbolic of endurance and strength, power, and speed, also describing the quality of governance.
  • GARUDA: The eagle-like Garuda stands at the eastern ceremonial entrance, signifying the aspirations of the people and the administrators of the country. In vastu shastra, the eastern direction is associated with the rising sun representing hope, the glory of victory, and success.
  • MAKARA: A mythological aquatic creature, the Makara combines the bodily parts of different animals, representing unity in diversity among the people of the country.
  • SHARDULA: Another mythological creature, Shardula is said to be the most powerful, foremost of all living beings, symbolising the power of the people of the country.
  • HAMSA: The most important quality of the people of a democracy is the power of discernment and self-realisation born of wisdom. Reminding the people of this essential feature is the Hamsa, or swan, at the public entrance to the north east.

Out of these six entrances, three are designed as ceremonial entrances, to welcome special guests and to mark special events. These ceremonial entrances display Indian art, culture, ethos, and patriotism. They have been named as Gyan, Shakti and Karma, representing the Indian knowledge system, patriotism and artistic traditions, respectively.



PM Vishwakarma Scheme

Why in news?

Recently, the Prime Minister launched the PM Vishwakarma scheme, which aims to give government support to workers engaged in traditional crafts and skills.

  • Financial Outlay: The scheme has an outlay of Rs 13,000 crore and is fully funded by the central government.
  • Eligibility for the scheme: Families associated with 18 different sectors are eligible for the scheme, including carpenters, boat makers, armourers, blacksmiths, hammer and tool kit makers, locksmiths, goldsmiths, potters, sculptors, stone breakers, cobblers, masons (Rajmistri), coir weavers, traditional doll & toy makers, barbers, garland makers, washermen, tailors, and fishing net makers.


  • Free registration through Common Services Centres using the biometric-based PM Vishwakarma portal
  • Recognition through the PM Vishwakarma certificate and ID card
  • Skill upgradation involving basic and advanced training
  • Toolkit incentive of Rs 15,000
  • Collateral-free credit support up to Rs 1 lakh (first tranche) and Rs 2 lakh (second tranche) at a concessional interest rate of 5%
  • Incentive for digital transactions and Marketing support.


  • Overall, the PM Vishwakarma scheme is a welcome step by the government to support traditional craftspeople and artisans. The scheme is expected to help them to improve their livelihoods and contribute more to the Indian economy.



Three Viruses Pose Threat to Ornamental Fish Industry

Why in news?

Recently, the Centre for Peninsular and Marine Fish Genetic Resources (PAGR) in Kochi, India, has discovered three viruses that pose a threat to the ornamental fish industry in Kerala.

About the Three Viruses Discovered:

  • The viruses are Infectious spleen and kidney necrosis virus (ISKNV), Cyprinid herpesvirus-2 (CyHV-2), and Carp edema virus (CEV).
  • The viruses are not usually found in Kerala, but if measures are not taken to contain them, they could cause significant economic losses for ornamental fish farmers and traders in the state.

What is the Ornamental Fishing Industry?

  • The ornamental fishing industry is the collection, breeding, and trade of ornamental fish. Ornamental fish are kept in aquariums and ponds for their beauty and aesthetic value. The industry is global, with major production centres in Asia, South America, and Africa.


Some of the measures that the PAGR centre is taking include:

  • Conducting disease surveillance in ornamental fish farms in the state
  • Developing educational materials for fish farmers and traders on how to prevent and manage the diseases
  • Working with regulatory authorities to develop and implement biosecurity measures


The discovery of these three viruses is a serious concern for the ornamental fish industry in Kerala. However, the PAGR centre is taking steps to address the threat and ensure the continued growth and prosperity of the industry.



Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar

Why in news?

The Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India, organises Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar every year to celebrate the energy, determination, ability, zeal and enthusiasm of our children.

  • The Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar is given under two categories:

Bal Shakti Puraskar: It is given by the Government of India every year to recognize exceptional achievements of children in various fields i.e., innovation, scholastic achievements, social service, arts & culture, sports and bravery.

  • A child who is an Indian Citizen and residing in India and is between 5-18 years of age.
  • A medal, a cash prize of Rs. 1,00,000, book vouchers worth Rs.10,000, a certificate and citation.
  • It was instituted in 1996 as the National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement, renamed from 2018 as Bal Shakti Puraskar.

Bal Kalyan Puraskar: It is given as recognition to Individuals and Institutions, who have made an outstanding contribution towards service for children in the field of child development, child protection and child welfare.

  • An individual who is an Indian Citizen and residing in India and should have attained the age of 18 years or above (as on 31st August of respective year). She/he should have worked for the cause of children for not less than 7 years.
  • The institution should not be entirely funded by the government and should have been in the field of child welfare for 10 years and performing consistently in the field.


  • Three awards are given in each of the two categories – Individual and Institution – along with cash prizes (Rs. 1,00, 000 and Rs. 5,00, 000 respectively).
  • It was instituted in 1979 as the National Child Welfare Awards, renamed from 2018 as Bal Kalyan Puraskar.



Indoor games based on indigenous knowledge systems to be introduced in schools

Why in news?

  • The Indian Knowledge Systems, under Education Ministry, has developed 6 indoor games that are rooted in indigenous knowledge and which will be introduced in schools from the next academic year.


  • At a glance, the board game of Sarp-Rajju (snakes and ropes) looks like a regular set of snakes and ladders. A closer look reveals that there are ropes instead of ladders, with 72 (9×8) squares, and not 100, with nine being the number of sensory windows of the body and eight being its parts.
  • Players start at cell 68, named vaikuntha (eternal bliss). The other cells too are named after elements from Hindu philosophy, like moha (delusion) and kaama (desire).
  • Each throw of the dice indicates the number of cells the player must advance tracing their ‘karmic path’ back towards vaikuntha.

About the initiative by the Indian Knowledge Systems (IKS)

  • Sarp-Rajju and five other indoor games have been developed by Indian Knowledge Systems (IKS), an innovation cell founded at the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) in 2020, under the Union Ministry of Education, to promote interdisciplinary research on aspects of indigenous knowledge.
  • The games have been divided into three segments: dice-based, strategic, and those based on engagement.
  • This is in keeping with the Ministry’s focus on the shift from rote-based to fun-filled learning that is one of the themes of the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020. The aim is to promote creativity and a multi-faceted growth.
  • These indoor games will be introduced to schoolchildren in the next academic year, under the Bharatiya Games programme.



Gita Mehta, passes away at 80

Why in news?

  • Gita Mehta, writer, journalist and elder sister of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, passed away in New Delhi.
  • Mehta (80) had been ailing for quite some time. Daughter of former Odisha Chief Minister Biju Patnaik, Mehta was a war correspondent for a foreign television channel during 1971.
  • She had extensively covered the creation of Bangladesh. Her documentary films on Bangladesh were then widely appreciated.
  • She has written five books — Karma ColaSnakes and Ladders: Glimpses of Modern IndiaA River SutraRaj, and Eternal Ganesha: From Birth to Rebirth. Mehta was married to Sonny Mehta, former head of the Alfred A. Knopf publishing house, who died in 2019.
  • Born in 1943 to Biju and Gyan Patnaik in New Delhi, she had her education in India and University of Cambridge.
  • In 2019, Mehta had declined the Padma Shri award bestowed on her by the Union government. She had then said her acceptance of the civilian award would be misconstrued just ahead of the Lok Sabha election.



Over 75% of European bumblebee species threatened

Why in news?

  • More than 75% of European bumblebee species may be threatened in the next 40-60 years according to worst-case-scenario projections of bumblebee populations, according to a paper published in Nature.

Reasons behind the decline

  • Degradation of habitats and alterations of climate due to human activity are identified as key drivers of these estimated population declines.
  • Human-generated transformations of natural habitats and increases in temperature are implicated as key drivers of wildlife collapse.

Importance of Bumble bees

  • Around 90% of all wild plants and most crop plants benefit from pollination by animals.
  • The bumblebee (Bombus) is a genus of bees considered to be especially important for the pollination of crops in the cold and temperate regions of the northern hemisphere.

Findings of the report

  • Around 38-76% of European bumblebee species currently considered as non-threatened are projected to see their ecologically suitable territory shrink by at least 30% by 2061-2080.
  • In particular, species from Arctic and alpine environments may be at the verge of extinction in Europe, with an expected loss of at least 90% of their territory in the same period.
  • Parts of Scandinavia may potentially become refuges for displaced or threatened species, although it remains unclear whether these regions may be affected by human activity-driven changes.

Way forward

  • The findings underscore the importance of climate change mitigation policies to protect bumblebees.
  • Results underline the critical role of global change mitigation policies as effective levers to protect bumblebees from manmade transformation of the biosphere
  • Understanding the trajectory of insect populations is important for devising conservation efforts.

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