Daily Current Affairs for 21th December 2022

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Dutch History of Slave Trade

GS Paper 1: Modern History

Important for

Prelims exam: About Dutch

Mains exam: Decline of Dutch in India

Why in News?

Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Monday apologised for the country’s historical role in slavery and slave trade, in a speech that has been seen by many as crucial but not sufficient.

What was the Dutch role in the slave trade?

  • According to the United Nations Slavery and Remembrance website, “Like other European maritime nations, the Dutch were quick to involve themselves in the transtlantic slave trade. Between 1596 and 1829, the Dutch transported about half a million Africans across the Atlantic. Large numbers were taken to the small islands of Curaçao and St. Eustatius, in the Caribbean. The Dutch also shipped about a half million Africans to their settlements in Dutch Guiana, notably Suriname, where they worked primarily on sugar plantations.”
  • The Dutch put slaves to work in their coffee, sugar and tobacco plantations, apart from household labour in colonies.
  • The centuries of slave trade funded what is known as Netherlands’ ‘golden age’ the period roughly between 1585-1670, when trade, arts, sciences and the military flourished in the country.
  • According to Rutte’s speech, “By 1814, more than 600,000 enslaved African women, men and children had been shipped to the American continent, in deplorable conditions, by Dutch slave traders. In Asia, between 660,000 and over one million people we don’t even know exactly how many were traded within the areas under the authority of the Dutch East India Company.”
  • When slavery was formally abolished in 1863, it was not the slaves who received compensation from the Dutch state, but the slave owners.

The Dutch-1596

  • Cornelis de Houtman was the first Dutchman to reach Sumatra and Bantam in 1596.

Dutch Settlements

  • The Dutch founded their first factory in Masulipatnam (in Andhra) in 1605 Captured Nagapatam near Madras (Chennai) from the Portuguese and made it their main stronghold in South India.
  • The Dutch established factories on the Coromandel coast, in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal and Bihar.
  • In 1609, they opened a factory in Pulicat, north of Madras. Their other principal factories in India were at Surat (1616), Bimlipatam (1641), Karaikal (1645), Chinsura (1653), Baranagar, Kasimbazar (near Murshidabad), Balasore, Patna, Nagapatam(1658) and Cochin (1663).
  • They carried indigo manufactured in the Yamuna valley and Central India, textiles and silk from Bengal, Gujarat and the Coromandel, saltpetre from Bihar and opium and rice from the Ganga valley.

Anglo-Dutch Rivalry

  • Serious challenge to the commercial interests of the Dutch by the English.
  • The climax of the enmity between the Dutch and the English in the East was reached at Amboyna (a place in present-day Indonesia, which the Dutch had captured from the Portuguese in 1605) where they massacred ten Englishmen and nine Japanese in 1623.
  • 1667- Dutch retired from India and moved to Indonesia. They monopolised the trade in black pepper and spices.
  • The most important Indian commodities the Dutch traded in were silk, cotton, indigo,rice and opium.

Decline of the Dutch in India

  • The Dutch got drawn into the trade of the Malay Archipelago
  • Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672-74)
  • The retaliation by the English resulted in the defeat of the Dutch, in the battle of Hooghly (November 1759) ⎫
  • Their concerns were trade.
  • Commercial interest lay in the Spice Islands of Indonesia
  • Battle of bidara-1759 the English defeated Dutch.


GS Paper 2: Government policies and interventions

Important for

Prelims exam: About Regulation to stop Acid attack

Mains exam: Impact of Acid Attack in Society

Why in News?

Gujarat’s Vadnagar town, the iconic Sun Temple at Modhera, and the rock cut sculptures of Unakoti in Tripura have been added to the tentative list of UNCESO World Heritage Sites.

Key Points

  • The UNESCO tentative list is an “inventory of those properties which each State Party intends to consider for nomination”.
  • With this, India now has 52 sites on UNESCO Tentative List. The list indicates rich cultural and natural wealth of India and shows huge diversity of our heritage.

Sun Temple,Modhera

  • The shrine proper of the Sun Temple was built during the reign of Bhima I of Chaulukya dynasty.Earlier, during 1024–1025, Mahmud of Ghazni had invaded Bhima’s kingdom, and a force of around 20,000 soldiers had unsuccessfully tried to check his advance at Modhera.
  • Historian A. K. Majumdar theorizes that the Sun Temple might have been built to commemorate this defense.
  • On a block in western wall of cella, there is an inscription “Vikram Samvat 1083″ upside down carelessly incised in Devnagari script which correspond to 1026-1027 CE. No other date is found.
  • As the inscription is upside down, it evidences the destruction and reconstruction of the cella.
  • Due to the position of the inscription, it is not firmly considered as the date of construction. On the stylistic ground, it is known that the Kunda with its corner shrines was built earlier at the beginning of the 11th century.
  • The inscription is rather considered as the date of destruction by Ghazni instead of the construction.
  • Soon after Bhima had returned to the power. So the temple proper, the miniature and the niche shrines in the tank were built shortly after 1026 CE.
  • The dancing hall was added much later in the third quarter of the 12th century along with the gateways, the porch of the temple proper and the doorframes of the temple and the cella during the reign of the Karna.
  • The temple is built on 23.6° latitude (approximately near Tropic of Cancer).
  • The place was later known as Sita ni Chauri and Ramkund locally.No worship is offered here now.
  • The temple is the Monument of National Importance and is maintained by the Archeological Survey of India.

Gujrat’s Vadnagar Town

  • Vadnagar, in Mehsana District, has a history of 2500 years old and has discovered many interesting archaeological sites during excavations.  These excavations have traces of Harappan Culture.
  • The city was called by names like  Chamatkarpur, Anandapur, Anartapur, and Vruddhanagar. The name Chamatkarpur which means Miracle town was given to it due to its king who was healed of leprosy by taking bath in its shakti tirth’s ( powerful holy place) magical waters.
  • It became Anartapur later as a prosperous state during Mahabharata Era. This is also mentioned in travel stories by a Chinese Traveller Hsuan Tsang. Tsang visited Anartapur twice in 632 AD and mentioned that the city had a rich and flourished history with lots of temples and a Buddist presence.
  • The prosperous  Vadnagar attracted invaders from all corners. It was Solankis who took a keen interest in reviving the culture of the city after the attack by Malva rules who ignored the city. Solankis were powerful rulers with a desire for development and preserving heritage and culture. They built six gates to protect the city.
  • They built numerous temples, vavs ( step-wells), palaces, kunds, wells, roads, and schools across the state and in Vadnagar as well. The downfall started after the city was again attacked by Mughals and the city was destroyed yet another time.

Unakoti in Tripura

  • Unkoti Hill is a sculptural emblem and ancient Shaivite place that hosts approx ninety-nine lakh ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine rock carvings figures and images of gods and goddesses.
  • It is a place of worship with huge rock reliefs celebrating Shiva. Unakoti literally means “one less one crore” or “koti” in Hindi and Bengali.
  • In local Kokborok language, it is called Subrai Khung. It is the prime tourist spot of Unakoti District, in the Kailashahar Subdivision of the North-eastern Indian state of Tripura.
  • The images found at Unakoti are of two types: namely rock-carved figures and stone images. Among the rock-cut carvings, the central Shiva head and gigantic Ganesha figures deserve special mention.
  • The central Shiva head known as Unakotiswara Kal Bhairava is about 30 feet high including an embroidered head-dress which itself is 10 feet high.
  • On each side of the head-dress of the central Shiva, there are two full-size female figures one of Durga standing on a lion and another female figure on the other side.
  • In addition, three enormous images of Nandi Bull are found half-buried in the ground. There are various other stone as well as rock-cut images at Unakoti.
  • Every year a big fair popularly known as Ashokastami Mela is held in the month of April. The festival is visited by thousands of pilgrims. Another smaller festival takes place in January.

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)

Surety Bond

GS Paper 3: Growth

Important for

Prelims exam: About Surety Bond

Mains exam: Significance of Surety Bond

Why in News?

Government launches first-ever ‘Surety Bond Insurance’ for infrastructure projects

Key Points

  • To enhance the participation of contractors in project bids, freeing collaterals in between to support the working capital requirements, Union Road, Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has launched the first-of-its-kind ‘Surety Bond Insurance’ on December 19, 2022 for the infrastructure sector.
  • “India is well on its path to becoming a $5 trillion economy and achieving the dream, insurance will play an important role in this growth,” said Union Minister.
    • It is important that infrastructure projects are executed at a faster speed, infrastructure, and notably roads, are vital to the economic and social growth of our country, he added.
  • Surety Bond Insurance will act as a security arrangement for infrastructure projects and will insulate the contractor as well as the principal (contract awarding authority) from any loss. The product is launched by Bajaj Allianz General Assurance.

What is Surety Bond?

  • A surety bond is a kind of risk transfer tool for the Principal and protects the Principal from losses that may cause in case the contractor fails to perform their contractual duties.
  • The product gives the principal a contract of guarantee that contractual terms and other business deals will be concluded in accordance with the mutually agreed terms.
  • In case the contractor does not fulfill the terms then the Principal can claim surety bonds to recover the losses.
  • Simply, the surety is provided by an insurance company which acts as a security arrangement for infrastructure projects and insulates the contractor as well as the principal.

How is it different from a Bank guarantee?

  • Unlike a bank guarantee, the surety bond Insurance does not require large collateral from the contractor, thus, it frees up significant funds for the contractor, which they can utilize for the growth of the business.
  • The product will also help in reducing the contractors’ debts to a large extent by addressing their financial worries.
  • The insurance product aims to facilitate the growth of upcoming infrastructure projects in the country.
  • Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) released final guidelines to ensure orderly development of surety insurance business in India in January this year. The regulator was headless during that period. There was no chairman of the IRDAI for about 9 months.
  • The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) is an autonomous and statutory body which is responsible for managing and regulating insurance and re-insurance industry in India.
  • IRDAI is a 10-member body- a chairman, five full-time members and four part-time members. It was constituted under an Act of Parliament in 1999 and the agency’s headquarters is in Hyderabad.

Reimagining India’s Infrastructure

  • ‘Surety Bonds Insurance’ is a benchmark initiative in the infrastructure sector, it is in line with the Government’s vision to up-scale the infrastructure development in the country to enhance the pace of development of upcoming projects.
  • The Government of India is making concerted efforts to implement measures that will accelerate the development of infrastructure in India and Surety Bond Insurance is a decisive step in this direction, Union Minister said.

Biodiversity Commitment

GS Paper 3: Conservation

Important for

Prelims exam: About Targets adopted at CoP-15

Mains exam: Significance of CoP-15

Why in News?

A major international environmental conference has just concluded in Montreal, Canada, promising to take urgent action to protect and restore the world’s biodiversity all the different forms of life, plants as well as animals, that inhabit this planet.

Key Points

  • This conference was the biodiversity equivalent of the more high-profile climate meetings that are held every year.
  • Signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), a 1993 agreement, meet every two years not annually like the climate meetings to work on a global plan to halt biodiversity loss and restore natural ecosystems.
  • The Montreal meeting was the 15th edition of this conference, hence the name COP15 — or the 15th Conference of the Parties to the CBD.
  • The Montreal Conference has delivered a new agreement called the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), which contains four goals and 23 targets that need to be achieved by 2030.

Biodiversity Convention

  • The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the CBD were both outcomes of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit as was the third member of the family, the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD), which deals specifically with the issue of land degradation.
  • The CBD came into force in 1993.
  • The three environmental conventions seek to address the issues that overlap among them.
  • Climate change is one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss, while changes in land and ocean use have an impact on climate change.
  • Land degradation appears as a cause as well as effect in both climate change and biodiversity loss.
  • So, while all the three agreements hold their separate COPs, the interlinkages, not very obvious in the 1990s, are getting increasingly evident. The success on any one helps the cause of the others too.
  • The CBD is not just about conservation and restoration of ecosystems.
  • It is also about sustainable use of natural resources, and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of these resources.
  • For example, if a European pharmaceutical company wants to make use of some medicinal properties of plants grown in Tamil Nadu, the benefits of such use, monetary or otherwise, must be equitably shared among all stakeholders, including the indigenous populations that are custodians of that specific biological resource.

Cartagena and Nagoya

  • The CBD has given rise to two ‘supplementary’ agreements the Cartagena Protocol of 2003 and the Nagoya Protocol of 2014. Both agreements take their names from the places where they were negotiated.
  • The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety seeks to protect biodiversity from genetically modified organisms by ensuring their safe handling, transport and use.
  • Genetically modified crops, for example, can interfere with natural ecosystems in ways that might not yet be fully understood. That is the reason why GM crops are cultivated on segregated farms.
  • The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing deals with the commercial utilisation of biological and genetic resources, for example, by pharma companies.
  • It asks the host countries to provide access to its genetic resources in a legal, fair and non-arbitrary manner and, as mentioned above, offers them a fair and equitable share of benefits arising out of the utilisation of those resources.
  • More than the GBF that countries agreed to in Montreal earlier this week, it is these two Protocols that are comparable to the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The 30 x 30 target

  • The headline grabbing part of the four goals and 23 targets in the Global Biodiversity Framework is what is commonly referred to as the 30×30 target: a commitment to protect at least 30 per cent of the world’s lands, oceans and coastal areas by 2030.
  • A related commitment is to ensure that restoration activities would be started on at least 30 per cent of degraded land or marine ecosystems by 2030.
  • The overall goal is to ensure that all natural ecosystems are either maintained, enhanced or restored “substantially”, with an overall increase in the area of natural ecosystems by 2050.
  • Another goal is to ensure a ten-fold reduction in extinction rate of species currently estimated to be tens to hundreds of times higher than the average of the last 10 million years.
  • A recent report said that about 1 million species face extinction, some within a few decades, if urgent action is not taken.
  • Among the other 2030 targets is a commitment to reduce global food wastage by half, reduce the risk of pesticides and other chemicals by half, and cut at least US$ 500 billion every year from subsidies that harm biodiversity.
  • The 23 targets for 2030, including the 30×30 target, are milestones towards the overall goals for 2050.
The meeting in Montreal that concluded on Monday was the second part of COP15, the first part having been held in Kunming in China last year. Kunming was supposed to hold the entire COP15, but due to Covid-19 restrictions, it could only organise a hybrid event part online, part in-person meetings in October last year. A full meeting was scheduled for April this year, but the Covid situation in China was still not conducive. Finally, the conference had to be shifted to Montreal, the home of CBD, even though it was held under the presidency of China.

Evaluating the deal

  • Though important, this is not the first time that countries at CBD have listed out specific targets for protecting biodiversity.
  • In fact, the latest exercise is just a replacement of similar targets that were meant to be achieved in the 2010-2020 decade.
  • In 2010, at COP10 in Nagoya, Japan, countries had agreed to a Strategic Plan for Biodiversity containing 20 targets.
  • These used to be called the Aichi targets Aichi is the region in which Nagoya city is located. A recent report showed that none of these targets were achieved at the end of the decade.

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