Daily Current Affairs : 2nd and 3rd April 2023

Topics Covered

  1. Can countries be sued over climate change
  2. Drug Resistant Kala Azar
  3. Project Tiger
  4. Reusable Launch Vehicle
  5. Facts for Prelims

          1 . Can countries be sued over climate change 

          Context: The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution that asked the International Court of Justice at The Hague to provide an opinion on what kind of obligations countries have towards climate change reduction, based on the promises they have made to the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC). 

          What does the resolution seek? 

          • The draft resolution (A/77/L.58) invoked article 96 of the UN Charter to ask the ICJ to deliberate on two questions: 
            • 1) What are the obligations of states under international law to ensure the protection of the climate system for present and future generations?  
            • 2) What are the legal consequences under these obligations for states where they, by their acts and omissions, have caused significant harm to the climate system, particularly for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and for people who are harmed. 
          • The resolution refers to several international protocols including the Paris Agreement (2015), the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and even the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 
          • The entire process is expected to take about 18 months for the ICJ to deliberate and deliver its opinion. 
          • The resolution passed by consensus had been pushed through by one of the smallest countries in the world, the Pacific Island of Vanuatu, an island that was devastated in 2015 by the effects of Cyclone Pam, believed to have been spurred by climate change, that wiped out 95% of its crops and affected two-thirds of its population. 

          What is India’s position? 

          • India has thus far been cautiously silent about the move, although it is generally supportive of the need for climate justice and holding the developed world accountable for global warming. 
          • The government is understood to have referred the resolution to legal authorities in the country who will look into the implications and international ramifications of the ICJ opinion.
          • India has updated its NDC (nationally determined contribution) commitments, as required by the 2015 Paris Agreement and has said it’s on its way to sourcing half its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. However, it is significant that India did not join the overwhelming majority of countries that co-sponsored the draft resolution.  
          • In the neighbourhood, the list of co-sponsors included Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and a number of island countries in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).  
          • India is also watching how global powers like the U.S. and China respond to the resolution, as without their support, it will be hard to implement.  
          • During the discussion on the resolution, the U.S. representative voiced concerns about whether “launching a judicial process” was the best way to reach “shared goals”. “Successfully tackling the climate crisis is best achieved via diplomatic efforts,” the U.S. representative added, according to a UN press release.  
          • Indian officials have also said that the ICJ process can only speak about climate change issues and problems broadly and that it cannot name or profile any one country in the process.  
          • Pointing to the Paris agreement as a landmark shift towards a “bottom-up” approach, where states themselves determine their ability to mitigate climate change, they also said any attempt to impose an opinion in a “top-down” manner would be resisted. Many other countries are likely to voice their opinion as the process gathers momentum in the months ahead. 

          What do sponsors of the resolution want? 

          • A legal opinion from the ICJ, the highest global court recognised by all 193 UN members is expected to bolster the efforts under the UNFCCC to ensure all countries work towards mitigating climate change and global warming to the suggested 1.5-2°C limit.  
          • While it is expected to give its opinion on the contentious issues such as climate reparations by the developed world, legal culpability for countries that don’t achieve their NDC promises, and climate support to the most vulnerable parts of the world battling the effects of global warming.  
          • According to the latest IPCC “Synthesis report”, global climate levels have already increased 1.1 degrees since pre-industrial levels in the past century, and deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions reductions, as much as by a half are required by 2030 to keep this goal.  
          • The UNGA route adopted by Vanuatu and its supporters also appears to have been more inclusive than two other attempts for an Advisory Opinion sought in December 2022 by Small Island States to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea; and another by Colombia and Chile in January 2023 at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) asking for an Advisory Opinion on human rights obligations for countries pertaining to the “climate emergency”. 

          What sparked the idea for the resolution? 

          • The original idea for taking the case for climate obligations to the highest legal court came from a group of 27 Pacific Island law students, who set up a campaign and brought it to the Pacific Islands Forum. Since 2019, the Vanuatu government, with the support of an 18-member “core group” of countries, has been promoting the idea of an Advisory Opinion from the ICJ. 
          •  It prepared the draft resolution that was eventually co-sponsored by 132 countries at the UNGA and went through without a vote.  
          • While the U.S was among a few countries that expressed some reservations, no country opposed the resolution.  
          • Vanautu’s Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau, who spearheaded the campaign, called it “a win for climate justice of epic proportions” 

          Is the advisory opinion of the ICJ binding? 

          • The ICJ is being asked for an “advisory opinion”, which by definition would not be legally binding as an ICJ judgment. However, its clarification of international environmental laws would make the process more streamlined, particularly as the COP (Conference of the Parties) process looks at various issues like climate finance, climate justice, and the most recently agreed to “loss and damages” fund at the COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh last year.  
          • The ICJ carries “legal weight and moral authority”, said the sponsors of the resolution, and gave as examples advisory opinions given in the past on the Palestinian issue (Construction of the Wall) and nuclear threats that have been respected. 

          About UNFCCC 

          • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) established an international environmental treaty to combat “dangerous human interference with the climate system”, in part by stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.  
          • It was signed by 154 states at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992.  
          • The treaty called for ongoing scientific research and regular meetings, negotiations, and future policy agreements designed to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner. 

          About International Court of Justice   

          • The International Court of Justice is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations (UN).  
          • The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies. 
          •  The Court decides disputes between countries, based on the voluntary participation of the States concerned. If a State agrees to participate in a proceeding, it is obligated to comply with the Court’s decision. 
          • The ICJ is the successor of the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ), which was established in 1920 by the League of Nations. After the Second World War, the League and the PCIJ were replaced by the United Nations and ICJ, respectively.  
          • All member states of the UN are party to the ICJ Statute and may initiate contentious cases; however, advisory proceedings may only be submitted by certain UN organs and agencies. 
          • The ICJ consists of a panel of 15 judges elected by the UN General Assembly and Security Council for nine-year terms. No more than one judge of each nationality may be represented on court at the same time, and judges collectively must reflect the principal civilizations and legal systems of the world. 
          •  Seated in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, the ICJ is the only principal UN organ not located in New York City. Its official working languages are English and French. 

          Republic of Vanuatu 

          • The Republic of Vanuatu is an island nation in the South Pacific Ocean, northeast of New Caledonia, east of Australia and west of Fiji. 
          • The Y-shaped chain of fourteen main islands between the South Pacific Ocean and the Coral Sea is of volcanic origin and home to several active volcanoes.  
          • The colliding Pacific and Indo-Australian continental plates provide for geological activities like earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones, and volcanic eruptions, hardly tourist attractions. 
          • Highest point is Mount Tabwemasana, at 1,879 m (6,165 ft), located on the island of Espiritu Santo. 
          • The archipelago has a population of 278,000 (in 2015), capital and largest city is Port Vila. 
          • Spoken languages are Bislama (English-based creole), English, French and various Austronesian languages. 

          2 . Drug resistant Kala Azar 

          Context: Experimental work undertaken in mice has shown a novel quinoline derivative to be effective in sharply reducing the load of Leishmania donovaniin both the spleen and liver of lab-grown mice. The highlight of the work carried out by researchers at the Kolkata-based Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS) is the potential of the quinoline derivatives to treat drug-resistant leishmaniasis, also called kala-azar (black fever). 

          Drug Resistant Kala Azar 

          • Leishmaniasis is a neglected tropical disease affecting almost 100 countries including India. It is caused by a parasite called Leishmania, which is transmitted through the bite of sand flies. 
          • There are three main forms of leishmaniasis – visceral, which affects multiple organs and is the most serious form of the disease, cutaneous, which causes skin sores and is the most common form); and mucocutaneous, which causes skin and mucosal lesion). 
          • Visceral leishmaniasis, which is commonly known as Kala-azar in India, is fatal in over 95% of the cases, if left untreated. The only drug available against leishmaniasis, miltefosine, is rapidly losing its effectiveness because of emerging resistance to this drug due to a decrease in its accumulation inside the parasite, which is necessary for the drug to kill the parasite. 
          • Specific types of protein molecules, called transporter proteins, play a major role in carrying miltefosine into and out of the parasite’s body, which comprises a single cell. A protein called ‘P4ATPase-CDC50’, is responsible for intake of the drug by the parasite, and another protein, called ‘P-glycoprotein’, is responsible for throwing this drug out from within the parasite’s body. 
          • A decrease in the activity of the former protein, and an increase in the activity of the latter results in less amounts of miltefosine being accumulated inside the parasite’s body, thus causing it to become resistant to the drug. 

          About quinoline derivative 

          • The quinoline derivative is a potent inhibitor of an enzyme called topoisomerase 1 (LdTop1), which is essential for maintenance of DNA architecture in the parasites; this enzyme is distinct from the one found in humans.  
          • Poisoning of LdTop1 imparts a significant level of cytotoxicity to both the Leishmania parasites found in gut of sandfly vectors (promastigotes) as well as the form found in the infected humans (amastigotes) of both the wild type and the antimony-resistant isolates without inducing any lethality to human and mice host cells. 
          • Since the enzyme is essential for parasite replication and transcription from DNA to RNA, inhibition of its activity leads to DNA torsional strain, degradation of the DNA, and ultimately parasitic cell death 
          • The novel inhibitor targeting the leishmania parasites was identified by screening them against recombinant Leishmania topoisomerase 1 enzyme.  
          • The molecules were synthesised by Prof. Anil Kumar and his group from the Department of Chemistry, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani. In all,21 derivatives were prepared and evaluated for their antileishmanial activity, and one of them was found to be effective. 


          • The derivative was found to generate persistent and less reversible DNA breaks compared with the camp to the cininhibitor (discovered in 1966) even after the novel inhibitor identified by the IACS-led team was removed from the culture medium leading to enhanced parasite killing. 
          • This novel inhibitor not only clears the parasite burden from the infected mice but also confers a host protective immune response.  
          • The latter effect is achieved by up-regulating the Th1 cytokines facilitating parasite clearance. The up-regulation of the cytokines can be exploited for treating drug-resistant leishmaniasis. 

          3 . Project Tiger 

          Context: Bandipur completed 50 years as a Project Tiger Reserve on April 1, 1973, that the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi launched the flagship conservation programme to arrest the big cat’s dwindling population. 

          What is Project Tiger? 

          • The Government of India has taken a pioneering initiative for conserving its national animal, the tiger, by launching the “Project Tiger” in 1973.  
          • From 9 tiger reserves since its formative years, the Project Tiger coverage has increased to 51 at present, spread out in 18 of our tiger range states. This amounts to around 2.23% of the geographical area of our country.  
          • The project aims at ensuring a viable population of the Bengal tiger in its natural habitats, protecting it from extinction, and preserving areas of biological importance as a natural heritage that represent the diversity of ecosystems across the tiger’s range in the country. 
          • The project’s task force visualised these tiger reserves as breeding nuclei, from which surplus animals would migrate to adjacent forests.  
          • Project Tiger is an ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change providing central assistance to the tiger States for tiger conservation in designated tiger reserves. 

          What are the objectives of Project Tiger? 

          • Project Tiger’s main aims are to: 
            • Reduce factors that lead to the depletion of tiger habitats and to mitigate them by suitable management. The damages done to the habitat shall be rectified to facilitate the recovery of the ecosystem to the maximum possible extent. 
            • Ensure a viable tiger population for economic, scientific, cultural, aesthetic and ecological values. 


          • The monitoring system M-STrIPES was developed to assist patrol and protect tiger habitats. 
          •  It maps patrol routes and allows forest guards to enter sightings, events and changes when patrolling.  
          • It generates protocols based on these data, so that management decisions can be adapted 

           Core-Buffer Strategy in Project Tiger 

          • For the sake of efficient management and tiger density-based administration, tiger reserves are created on the basis of a ‘core-buffer’ strategy. 
          • A particular expanse of land is identified and marked as the ‘core area of the reserve. These areas are kept free of all human activities. It usually has the legal status of National Park or Wildlife Sanctuary. No human activity is allowed inside the core area, including tourism. Even everyday tasks such as grazing and wood collection are banned. 
          • The buffer areas usually surround the core area and are comparatively less frequented by the resident wildlife. Hence, limited human interaction here will not harm their habitat. Hence, it is subjected to ‘conservation-oriented land use’. Certain everyday activities necessary for daily life and living of surrounding villages are allowed. 
          • The buffer area serves twin purposes.  
            • One, it serves as a habitat supplement to the spillover population of wild animals from the core area.  
            • Two, it becomes a livelihood source for surrounding villages and relieves their impact on the core zone. 
          • The plan of action for each tiger reserve is drawn upon the following key principles :
            • Elimination of all human interference from the core area and careful rationalization of activities in the buffer area 
            • Limiting the habitat management practices to only repair activities for ecosystem damage 
            • Monitoring the floral and faunal changes overtime for research 

           National Tiger Conservation Authority 

          • The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change constituted under enabling provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, as amended in 2006, for strengthening tiger conservation, as per powers and functions assigned to it under the said Act. 
          • NTCA has been fulfilling its mandate within the ambit of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 for strengthening tiger conservation in the country by retaining an oversight through advisories/normative guidelines, based on appraisal of tiger status, ongoing conservation initiatives and recommendations of specially constituted Committees. 

          The objectives of NTCA are: 

          1. Providing statutory authority to Project Tiger so that compliance of its directives become legal. 
          1. Fostering accountability of Center-State in management of Tiger Reserves, by providing a basis for MoU with States within our federal structure. 
          1. Providing for an oversight by Parliament. 
          1. Addressing livelihood interests of local people in areas surrounding Tiger Reserves. 

          Power & Functions 

          Powers and functions of the National Tiger Conservation Authority as prescribed under section 38O (1) and (2) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, as amended in 2006 are as under:- 

          • to approve the tiger conservation plan prepared by the State Government under section 38 O (1) (a) of this Act 
          • evaluate and assess various aspects of sustainable ecology and disallow any ecologically unsustainable land use such as, mining, industry and other projects within the tiger reserves 
          • lay down normative standards for tourism activities and guidelines for project tiger from time to time for tiger conservation in the buffer and core area of tiger reserves and ensure their due compliance 
          • provide for management focus and measures for addressing conflicts of men and wild animal and to emphasize on co-existence in forest areas outside the National Parks, sanctuaries or tiger reserve, in the working plan code 
          • provide information on protection measures including future conservation plan, estimation of population of tiger and its natural prey species, status of habitats, disease surveillance, mortality survey, patrolling, reports on untoward happenings and such other management aspects as it may deem fit including future plan conservation 
          • approve, co-ordinate research and monitoring on tiger, co-predators, prey habitat, related ecological and socio-economic parameters and their evaluation 
          • ensure that the tiger reserves and areas linking one protected area or tiger reserve with another protected area or tiger reserve are not diverted for ecologically unsustainable uses, except in public interest and with the approval of the National Board for Wild Life and on the advice of the Tiger Conservation Authority 
          • facilitate and support the tiger reserve management in the State for biodiversity conservation initiatives through eco-development and people\’s participation as per approved management plans and to support similar initiatives in adjoining areas consistent with the Central and State laws 
          • ensure critical support including scientific, information technology and legal support for better implementation of the tiger conservation plan 
          • facilitate ongoing capacity building programme for skill development of officers and staff of tiger reserves, and 
          • perform such other functions as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this Act with regard to conservation of tigers and their habitat. 

          (2) The Tiger Conservation Authority may, in the exercise of its powers and performance of its functions under this Chapter, issue directions in writing to any person, officer or authority for the protection of tiger or tiger reserves and such person, officer or authority shall be bound to comply with the directions. 

          4 . Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration (RLV-TD) programme 

          Context: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully carried out the landing experiment of the Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration (RLV-TD) programme at the Aeronautical Test Range in Challakere, Chitradurga. 

          What is ISRO’s RLV TD project? 

          • According to ISRO, the series of experiments with the winged RLV-TD are part of efforts at “developing essential technologies for a fully reusable launch vehicle to enable low-cost access to space”.  
          • The RLV-TD will be used to develop technologies like hypersonic flight (HEX), autonomous landing (LEX), return flight experiment (REX), powered cruise flight, and Scramjet Propulsion Experiment (SPEX). 
          • ISRO’s RLV-TD looks like an aircraft. It consists of a fuselage, a nose cap, double delta wings, and twin vertical tails. 
          • The selection of materials like special alloys, composites, and insulation materials for developing an RLV-TD and the crafting of its parts is very complex and demands highly skilled manpower.  Many high technology machinery and test equipment were utilized for building this vehicle. 

          What was the first RLV experiment ? 

          • A rocket carrying the 1.75 tonnes RLV-TD was launched into space for 91.1 seconds and reached a height of about 56 km, when the RLV-TD separated from the rocket and climbed to a height of about 65 km. 
          • From this height, the RLV-TD began its return to earth and entered the atmosphere at a speed of around Mach 5 and was navigated by the vehicle’s own systems to a predetermined landing spot in the Bay of Bengal, around 450 KM from the launch site at Sriharikota. 
          • The RLV was tracked during the flight from ground stations at Sriharikota and a terminal on a ship. While the re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere happens at a velocity of 8 km/sec the RLV TD HEX1 was tested at a much lower velocity of 1.7 km/sec to 2 km/sec. The total flight lasted 770 seconds. 
          • In the first flight, “critical technologies such as autonomous navigation, guidance and control, reusable thermal protection system, and re-entry mission management have been successfully validated,” ISRO said in May 2016. 

          What was the second experiment conducted recently? 

          • The RLV LEX test involved a Chinook Helicopter of the Indian Air Force lifting the RLV LEX to a height of 4.5 km and releasing the RLV, based on a command from Mission Management Computer. 
          • After midair release, the RLV carried out an autonomous landing “under the exact conditions of a Space Re-entry vehicle’s landing — high speed, unmanned, precise landing from the same return path — as if the vehicle arrived from space  

          What was the difference in the two tests? 

          • According to ISRO, the first test with RLV-TD (HEX1) involved the vehicle landing on a hypothetical runway over the Bay of Bengal while the LEX experiment on Sunday involved a precise landing on a runway. 
          • The LEX mission achieved the final approach phase that coincided with the re-entry return flight path exhibiting an autonomous, high speed (350 km per hour) landing, it said. “With LEX, the dream of an Indian Reusable Launch Vehicle arrives one step closer to reality 
          • Three more experiments — return flight experiment (REX), powered cruise flight, and Scramjet Propulsion Experiment (SPEX) — have to be conducted. 

          What are its advantages? 

          • With the costs acting as a major deterrent to space exploration, a reusable launch vehicle is considered a low-cost, reliable, and on-demand mode of accessing space. 
          • Nearly 80 to 87 percent of the cost in a space launch vehicle goes into the structure of the vehicle. The costs of propellants are minimal in comparison. By using RLVs the cost of a launch can be reduced by nearly 80 percent of the present cost. 

          How advanced are RLV technologies globally? 

          • Reusable space vehicles have been in existence for a long time with NASA space shuttles carrying out dozens of human space flight missions. 
          • The use case for reusable space launch vehicles has revived with the private space launch services provider Space X demonstrating partially reusable launch systems with its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets since 2017. SpaceX is also working on a fully reusable launch vehicle system called Starship. 

          5 . Facts for prelims 

          Electrolysis of Water 

          • Electrolysis is the process of using electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. This reaction takes place in a unit called an electrolyzer  
          • Water electrolysis relies on the application of an electric current through an anode and cathode inserted in the electrolyte to provide the required energy to break the hydrogen and oxygen bond. . However, this process consumes a lot of electrical energy. 
          • A well-known solution is to use a catalyst to induce the water molecules to split at a much lower energy. The better catalysts are often based on the metals iridium and ruthenium. 
          • While the basis remains the same, different electrolysis methods including polymer electrolyte membrane electrolyzer, alkaline electrolyzer, and solid oxide electrolyzer can be utilized for hydrogen production. These methods are mainly different based on the ion transport method or the type of adopted electrolyte. 
          • Water electrolysis requires a minimum potential difference of 1.23 volts, although at that voltage external heat is also required. Typically 1.5 volts are provided.  
          • Electrolysis is a leading hydrogen production pathway to achieve the Hydrogen Energy Earthshot goal of reducing the cost of clean hydrogen by 80% to $1 per 1 kilogram in 1 decade. Hydrogen produced via electrolysis can result in zero greenhouse gas emissions, depending on the source of the electricity used.  
          • Applications- Hydrogen gas released in this way can be used as hydrogen fuel, or remixed with the oxygen to create oxyhydrogen gas, for use in welding and other applications.  
          • Water electrolysis is also used to generate oxygen for the International Space Station.  
          • Electrolysis is rare in industrial applications since hydrogen can be produced less expensively from fossil fuel. 

           Pashmina Shawl 

          • Pashmina Shawls has its origin from Kashmir region of India. Originally Kashmiri people used these shawls to  keep themselves warm during the winter season.  
          • The wool that is used in weaving the Pashmina Shawl are obtained from the Pashmina Goat found in the Ladakh (the high altitude region of the Himalayas) where the temperature is generally around -40 degree Centigrade in winters. 
          • The quality of Pashmina wool is very soft and fine. It is one of the finest and highest quality wool in the whole world. 
          • Over the mighty Himalayas, the Capra Hircus goat is found in Changthang, Ladakh. For this reason, it is also known as Changthangi goat. The goat can survive at any place in Ladakh. But the ones found over 14000 feet are the ones that survive, as well as grow Cashmere.  
          • The growth of this fine and ultra-smooth wool is an adaptive response to the harsh terrain where winter temperature falls to -40 degrees.  
          • Raw Cashmere has a unique sheen, and fine fibres are as thin as 12-16 microns in diameter 
          • The finest of Cashmere comes from Changthang, Ladakh where Buddhist nomadic herders (known as Changpas) rear goats. They collect Cashmere by professionally combing the goats in late spring and early summer when goats molt. 

          Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF)  

          • Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund was established initially with the fundamental objective of providing access to “Basic” telegraph services to people in remote and rural areas at affordable and reasonable prices.  
          • Subsequently, the Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Act, 2006 was notified on 29.12.2006 to repeal the term “Basic” wherein the scope of USO Fund was widened to provide access to telegraph services (including mobile services, broadband connectivity and ICT infrastructure creation) in rural and remote areas. 
          • The Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) aims  
          • To provide for quality and affordable mobile and digital services across the rural and remote areas of the country;  
          • Allowing non-discriminatory access to mobile and network services along with equitable access to knowledge and information dissemination, leading to rapid socio-economic development with improved standard of living. 
          • The Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund is headed by the Administrator, USO Fund who is appointed by the Central Government, for the administration of the fund.  
          • It is an attached office of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Ministry of Communications. 


          • Formulating and executing USOF projects or schemes 
          • Monitoring the implementation of Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund projects and schemes 
          • Accurate and timely financial support for all Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund projects 
          • Ensuring adherence to Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund guidelines 
          • Designing an intelligent subsidy support model for reducing or closing the viability gap 
          • Determining desirable subsidy level, structure and disbursement schedule 
          • Post-implementation review of USOF projects and schemes 
          • Leveraging of innovative and emerging new technologies 
          • Standardising practices and documentation of Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund projects 
          • Strategic partnerships with Industry and Universal Service Providers (USPs) 
          • Collaborating and liaisoning with international organizations 
          • Benchmarking of international best practices 


          • Pattanam, an ancient town in Kerala located 30 kms north of Cochin in Ernakulam district. 
          • It is  the only multi-cultural archaeological site on the southwestern coast of the Indian subcontinent.  
          • Often referred to as the ‘first emporium’ of the Indian Ocean, Muziris — of which Pattanam is part — is an example of the Greco-Roman classical age coming into direct contact with an ancient South Indian civilisation. 
          • Pattanam excavations which started in 2007 under the leadership of the Kerala Council of Historical Research (KCHR) have unearthed artefacts through eight seasons.  
          • Zoological evidence such as human bone fragments and teeth, immoveable elements including brick architecture, burnt clay floors, wharf with bollards and a canoe parallel to it, toilet features, ring wells, storage jar and a large volume of artefacts, potsherds, non-Indian pottery sherds, etc. were the major findings there. 
          • The technological, metallurgical, literary, and artistic advances of this phase bear witness to rigorous cultural and commercial exchanges. 
          • The Pattanam excavations have unearthed over 45 lakh sherds (ceramic fragments); these include approximately 1.4 lakh belonging to the littoral regions of the Mediterranean, the River Nile, the Red Sea, the western and eastern Indian Oceans, and the South China Sea.  
          • Recent findings include the seal of a sphinx, native to the ancient Greek city of Thebes.  
          • The finds and location also suggest the possibility of “Pattanam” being the ancient “Muziris” or “Muchiripattanam”.  
          • Excavations so far, that have unearthed less than 1% of the site, point to a startling fact:  
          • There is no evidence that institutionalised religion existed in ancient Pattanam.  
          • There was certainly no indication of the graded inequality embodied within the caste system that has characterised contemporary Kerala and most of the rest of India. 
          • The artefacts and objects collected from the mounds are classified, documented and are now displayed in the site museum at Pattanam. 

          Bastille Day Parade 

          • Bastille Day Paris festivities always take place on July 14, the anniversary of the storming of the infamous Bastille prison in 1789 – a turning point for the success of the French Revolution, and now a national holiday throughout France. 
          • It is celebrated with a mixture of solemn military parades and easygoing dancing and fireworks.  
          • Background– Paris was in a state of high agitation in the early months of the French revolution. In Spring 1789, the Estates-General refused to dissolve, transforming itself instead into a constituent National Assembly. 
          • In July, King Louis XVI called in fresh troops and dismissed his popular Minister, Jacques Necker. On the morning of July 14, the people of Paris seized weapons from the armoury at the Invalides and marched in the direction of an ancient Royal fortress, the Bastille. After a bloody round of firing, the crowd broke into the Bastille and released the handful of prisoners held there. 
          • The storming of the Bastille signaled the first victory of the people of Paris against a symbol of the “Ancien Régime” (Old Regime).  
          • The Fête de la Fédération (“Feast of the Federations”) held on July 14, 1790, celebrated with great pomp the first Anniversary of the insurrection.  

          Bison Hills 

          • Bison Hill is a peak in Andhra Pradesh and has an elevation of 362 metres. Bison Hill is situated nearby to the village Kolluru and the hamlet Gonduru. It is located along the banks of the river Godavari. 

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