21st June, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
‘International Yoga Day Celebrations’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will lead the 4th International Yoga Day Celebrations in Dehradun on June 21, 2018.
About International Yoga Day
International Day of Yoga, or commonly and unofficially referred to as Yoga Day, is celebrated annually on 21 June since its inception in 2015. An international day for yoga was declared unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)
June 21 is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and has special significance in many parts of the world. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had proposed this date at the United Nations General Assembly 2014.
The theme for Yoga Day 2018 is “Yoga for Peace.”
The science of Yoga has its origin thousands of years ago, long before the first religion or belief systems were born. According to Yogic lore, Shiva has seen as the first yogi or Ādiyogi and the first guru or Ādiguru. Several thousand years ago, on the banks of lake Kantisarovar in the Himalayas, Ādiyogi poured his profound knowledge into the legendary Saptarishis or “seven sages”. These sages carried this powerful Yogic science to different parts of the world including Asia, the Middle East, northern Africa and South America. Interestingly, modern scholars have noted and marveled at the close parallels found between ancient cultures across the globe. However, it was in India that the Yogic system found its fullest expression. Agastya, the Saptarishi who travelled across the Indian subcontinent, crafted this culture around a core Yogic way of life.
Yoga is widely considered as an “immortal cultural outcome” of the Indus Saraswati Valley Civilisation – dating back to 2700 BC – and has proven itself to cater to both material and spiritual uplift of humanity. A number of seals and fossil remains of Indus Saraswati Valley Civilisation with Yogic motifs and figures performing Yoga sādhana suggest the presence of Yoga in ancient India. The seals and idols of mother Goddess are suggestive of Tantra Yoga. The presence of Yoga is also available in folk traditions, Vedic and Upanishadic heritage, Buddhist and Jain traditions, Darshanas, epics ofMahabharata including Bhagawadgita and Ramayana, theistic traditions of Shaivas, Vaishnavas and Tantric traditions. Though Yoga was being practiced in the pre-Vedic period, the great sage Maharishi Patanjali systematised and codified the then existing Yogic practices, its meaning and its related knowledge through Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
After Patanjali, many sages and Yoga masters contributed greatly for the preservation and development of the field through well-documented practices and literature. Yoga has spread all over the world by the teachings of eminent Yoga masters from ancient times to the present date.
Different forms of Yoga
1. Hatha Yoga
In Sanskrit, HA means sun, THA means moon. Hatha yoga, in this day and age is mainly practiced for health, vigor and vitality. For a desire to stay fit, Hatha Yoga is widely practiced across the world and is the most common and the most widely accepted form of Yoga.
2. Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini literally means “coiled” and is represented by a metaphorical coiled snake at the base of your spine. Relatively new to the Western Hemisphere, Kundalini, “the yoga of awareness,” opens your heart, builds strength and releases the energy located at the base of your spine. Kundalini is one of the more spiritual styles of yoga. Kundalini yoga focuses on breath and movement. It further challenges its practitioners both physically and mentally.
3. Bhakti Yoga
Bhakti yoga, or devotional yoga, is the most natural path for those who are dominantly seeking emotional fulfillment and well being.
The “bhakta” devotee usually practices meditation by visualizing, thinking and feeling the divine presence around him. The bhakta pours out his heart’s love, adoration, and shares his deepest thoughts and concerns with the Lord until a continual flow of awareness moves between devotee and his or her beloved Lord.
4. Karma Yoga
Karma means ‘to do.’ Karma refers to the universal principle of cause and effect.
For every effect there’s a cause, and the devotee realizes that he, in his present life situation, is experiencing the effects owing to a number of causes which are actioned and enacted.
He recognizes that for a finer, more fulfilling life he has to change his thoughts and feelings and so express himself through his actions in such a manner, that new causes supplant old habits and attitudes.
5. Jnana Yoga
Jnana means wisdom or discernment. Jnana yoga is thus the path of wisdom and jnana meditation is many-faceted.
The main purpose of jnana meditation is to withdraw the mind and emotions from perceiving life with a myopic view and to behold and live with Reality, or Spirit.
6. Raja Yoga
Raja means royal or kingly. Raja yoga meditation is generally based on directing one’s life force to bring the mind and emotions into balance.This is done to ensure that the attention may be easily focused on the object of meditation, or the Lord directly.
7. Mantra Yoga
Mantras (or mantrams) are words, phrases, or syllables which are chanted thoughtfully and with growing attention.
8. Tantra Yoga
The word tantra literally means “expansion.” A tantra yogi concentrates on expanding all levels of his or her consciousness to unveil and realize the Supreme Reality. Tantra focuses on the dynamic aspect of divinity called Shakti, or “the Cosmic Mother.”
9. Kriya Yoga
“Fundamentally, kriya means internal action. When you do inner action, it does not involve the body and the mind because both the body and the mind are still external to you. When you have a certain mastery to do action with your energy, then it is a kriya.
‘International Conference on Water For Sustainable Development’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: Shri Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation participated in “Conference on International Decade for Action: Water for Sustainable Development 2018-28” held at Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Highlights of the speech
- The topic chosen for this present Conference, “Promoting Action and Policy Dialogue on Water for Sustainable Development”
- India has taken significant steps during the last 4 years and made sustainable development of water as one of the top priorities of the Government of India
- In the field of resource assessment, India is in the process of upgrading its water resources information and management system for scientific development, conservation, and conjoint use of our ground and surface water resources. The National Water Information Centre (NWIC) is a modern platform for assessment of surface water and ground water, flood forecasting, reservoir monitoring, coastal information management system and river basin management. India has launched an ambitious national project on aquifer management (NAQUIM) to completely map 2 million sq. km. of the map-able area of the country. The mapping is followed by proper aquifer management plan.
- In the field of river rejuvenation, the Namami Gange is our flagship programme to rejuvenate and make river Ganga pollution free. We are also taking similar steps to rejuvenate other rivers to bring them to their pristine form.
- Government has launched a flagship programme of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna-PMKSY (Prime Ministers Irrigation Project) whereby government will complete 99 large irrigation projects till December, 2019 and thereby create additional irrigation potential of 7.62 million hectares. The other important objective of this programme is “Har Khet ko Pani” or provide water to every field by extending command area development & undertaking water management works. The other objective of PMKSY is to ensure ‘More Crop Per Drop’, through promotion of micro and drip irrigation and ensuring better water efficiency.
- Government is undertaking National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) with the objective of providing adequate safe water for drinking, cooking and other domestic basic needs on sustainable basis through creation of infrastructure. The Government of India plans to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030.
- Another flagship programme of my Government is Swachh Bharat Mission, which is being executed in both urban and rural areas of India, with focus on safe sanitation and aim to achieve universal sanitation coverage
- Government is committed to implement the programme for inter basin transfer of water, through the program of inter-linking of rivers.
- National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, water conservation and water harvesting works are being undertaken by digging wells, ponds and repairing of traditional water bodies, reservoirs and canals. India is spending about USD 5 billion on water conservation across the country in around 100,000 villages.
‘PARIWARTAN’ (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: The government plans to warehouse stressed power projects totaling 25,000 megawatts (MW) under an asset management firm to protect the value of the assets and prevent their distress sale under the insolvency and bankruptcy code till demand for power picks up.
About the scheme
State-run Rural Electrification Corp. Ltd (REC) has identified projects with a total debt of around Rs 1.8 trillion as part of the scheme, which is under government consideration and has been tentatively named Power Asset Revival through Warehousing and Rehabilitation, or ‘Pariwartan’
The ‘Pariwartan’ scheme is inspired by the Troubled Asset Relief Programme, or TARP, which was introduced in the US during the 2008 financial crisis. The proposed plan also aims to stem the rise in bad loans in the power sector.
‘Monsoon revival’ (GS1: Indian Climate)
Issue: After remaining subdued for more than a week, the southwest monsoon is expected to revive, before moving towards north India after 24 June.
Observation made by Indian Meteorological Department
- The IMD said monsoon circulation is expected to improve with the movement of the active phase of Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) to west Equatorial Indian Ocean and adjoining Arabian Sea over the next two or three days.
- Cyclonic circulations are also likely to develop over east India, which will strengthen the easterlies over the Gangetic plains.
What is Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO)?
MJO is an eastward moving disturbance of clouds, rainfall, winds, and pressure that traverses the planet in the tropics and returns to its initial starting point in 30 to 60 days, on average. This atmospheric disturbance is distinct from ENSO, which once established, is associated with persistent features that last several seasons or longer over the Pacific Ocean basin. There can be multiple MJO events within a season, and so the MJO is best described as intra-seasonal tropical climate variability (i.e. varies on a week-to-week basis).
The MJO was first discovered in the early 1970s by Dr. Roland Madden and Dr. Paul Julian when they were studying tropical wind and pressure patterns. They often noticed regular oscillations in winds (as defined from departures from average) between Singapore and Canton Island in the west central equatorial Pacific (Madden and Julian, 1971; 1972; Zhang, 2005).
The MJO consists of two parts, or phases: one is the enhanced rainfall (or convective) phase and the other is the suppressed rainfall phase. Strong MJO activity often dissects the planet into halves: one half within the enhanced convective phase and the other half in the suppressed convective phase. These two phases produce opposite changes in clouds and rainfall and this entire dipole (i.e., having two main opposing centers of action) propagates eastward.
‘Ratnagiri Refinery’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (Adnoc), the state-run oil company of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), may pick up a 25% stake in the largest global refinery and petrochemicals complex coming up at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra.
Significance of this move
Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd (ISPRL) has an agreement with Adnoc under which the latter will store crude oil at its own cost. This agreement was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UAE in February. While the oil storage facility will enable Adnoc to meet market demands across Asia, it will also allow it to sell part of the crude oil to Indian refineries in normal times.
‘River interlinking project’ (GS2: Government policies and issues arising out of their design and implementation)
Issue: Disagreements over water-sharing and difficulty in acquiring non-forest land impede the ₹18,000-crore Ken Betwa River interlink project.
Challenges in implementing this project
- The project, which involves deforesting a portion of the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, was accorded clearance by the National Wildlife Board on the condition that the land lost would be made good by acquiring contiguous, revenue land
- Another hurdle is a dispute over how Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh — the two beneficiaries — will share water in the Rabi season.
About the project
Conceived as a two-part project, this is India’s first river interlinking project. It is perceived as a model plan for similar interstate river transfer missions. Phase 1 involves building a 77 m-tall and a 2 km-wide dam, the Dhaudhan dam, and a 230 km canal to transfer extra water from the Ken river for irrigating 3.64 lakh hectares in the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
‘Zero Budget Natural Farming’ (GS3: Indian Agriculture)
Issue: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu announced that the State would fully embrace Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF), a chemical-free method that would cover all farmers by 2024
About the programme
- Highlights the way to improve the welfare of farmers, reduce the cost of farm inputs, cut toxins in food, and improve soils. With successful pilot programmes that were initiated in 2015 and partners who brought experience in different aspects needed to carry out such a transformation, Andhra Pradesh has become the first State to implement a ZBNF policy.
- Towards this end, substantial resource mobilization for about ₹16,500 crore is in progress. Tenant farmers and day labourers are also being trained, to ensure that through the ZBNF, livelihoods for the rural poor will be enhanced.
- The Government of India provides funding through the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana and Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana. Additional resources have been made available through various philanthropic organisations.
What is Natural Farming?
- Natural farming is “do nothing farming”, according to Masanobu Fukuoka, a Japanese farmer who, in the 1970s, was a proponent of no-till, no chemical use in farming along with the dispersal of clay seed balls to propagate plants. He found it important to apply nature’s principles in farming and developed a deep-rooted philosophy around the process.
- Four aspects that are now integral to his process and which require locally available materials: seeds treated with cow dung and urine; soil rejuvenated with cow dung, cow urine and other local materials to increase microbes; cover crops, straw and other organic matter to retain soil moisture and build humus; and soil aeration for favorable soil conditions. These methods are combined with natural insect management methods when required.
- In ZBNF, yields of various cash and food crops have been found to be significantly higher when compared with chemical farming. For example, yields from ZBNF plots in the (kharif) 2017 pilot phase were found on average to be 11% higher for cotton than in non-ZBNF plots.
- Input costs are near zero as no fertilizers and pesticides are used. Profits in most areas under ZBNF were from higher yield and lower inputs.
- Model ZBNF farms were able to withstand drought and flooding, which are big concerns with regard to climate change. The planting of multiple crops and border crops on the same field has provided varied income and nutrient sources.
How is Natural Farming different from Organic farming?
In early 2016, Sikkim was declared India’s first fully organic State. But organic agriculture often involves addition of large amounts of manure, vermin-compost and other materials that are required in bulk and need to be purchased. These turn out to be expensive for most small farm holders.
‘Summer Solstice in Northern Hemisphere’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: Today is the longest day of the year, also known as the summer solstice.
About Summer Solstice
The summer solstice, which can also be called, midsummer, occurs when a planet’s rotational axis or geographical pole on either its Northern or its Southern Hemisphere is most greatly inclined toward the star that it orbits.
The term ‘solstice’ comes from the fact that the Sun appears to stand still. On this day, the Sun’s position in the sky at noon does not change much during the solstice and its surrounding days. In 2018, the summer solstice arrived on Thursday, June 21, at 6:07AM EDT, marking the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.
During this time, the North Pole is tilted closest to the sun. In the Southern Hemisphere, it is the opposite, so, the South Pole is tilted farthest from the sun. That is why when it is the summer solstice in the North; it is the winter solstice in the South.