Daily Current Affairs : 2nd August

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Indus Valley Civilization
  2. Xenotransplantation
  3. UN General Assembly
  4. Art & Culture in news : Thumri, Mohiniyattam
  5. Facts for Prelims : Bandipur

1 . Indus Valley Civilization

Context : A majority of the Indus Valley inscriptions were written logographically (by using word signs) and not by using phonograms (speech sounds units), claims a recent research paper published in Palgrave Communications, a Nature group journal.


  • The Indus Valley Civilization was an ancient civilization located in what is Pakistan and northwest India today, on the fertile flood plain of the Indus River and its vicinity. 
  • The Indus (or Harappan) people used a pictographic script.
  • Specimens of this script survive in stamp seals carved in stone, in moulded terracotta and faience amulets, in fragments of pottery, and in a few other categories of inscribed objects.
  • In addition to the pictographic signs, the seals and amulets often contain iconographic motifs, mostly realistic pictures of animals apparently worshipped as sacred, and a few cultic scenes, including anthropomorphic deities and worshippers.
  • Discovered from nearly 4,000 ancient inscribed objects, including seals, tablets, ivory rods, pottery shards, etc., the Indus inscriptions are one of the most enigmatic legacies of the Indus Valley civilization which have not been deciphered due to the absence of bilingual texts, extreme brevity of the inscriptions, and ignorance about the language(s) encoded by Indus script

About the Research

  • The paper, titled Interrogating Indus inscription to unravel their mechanism of meaning conveyance, points out that the inscriptions can be compared to the structured messages found on stamps, coupons, tokens and currency coins of modern times.

Key Finding of the Research

  • Researchers has used the digitized corpus of Indus inscriptions compiled by well-known epigraphist and Indus scholar Iravatham Mahadevan. They studied it using computational analyses and various interdisciplinary measures.
  • Analysing the brevity of the inscriptions, the rigid positional preferences maintained by the signs of the inscriptions, and the co-occurrence of restriction patterns demonstrated by certain classes of Indus signs, they infered that such patterns can never be phonological co-occurrence restrictions.
  • Phonological co-occurrence restrictions refers to two or more sound units that cannot be pronounced together. “A very compelling, nearly unassailable proof of the logographic nature of Indus inscriptions comes from the co-occurrence restriction patterns maintained within them
  • Research classifies the signs into nine functional classes. Based on various archaeological evidence : “The inscribed seals and tablets were used in some administrative operation that controlled the commercial transactions prevalent in the trade-savvy settlements of the ancient Indus valley Civilisation. These inscriptions can be compared to the messages found on stamps, coupons, tokens and currency coins of modern times, where we expect formulaic texts that encode certain type of information in some pre-defined ways, rather than freely composed narrative.”
  • A common perception among some scholars is that the Indus script is logo-syllabic, where one symbol can be used as a word sign at one time and as a syllable-sign at another. This method, where a word-symbol also gets sometimes used only for its sound value, is called the rebus principle. For example, you can combine the pictures of a honey bee and a leaf to signify the word “belief” (bee+leaf). According to the research though many ancient scripts use rebus methods to generate new words, the inscriptions found on the Indus seals and tablets have not used rebus as the mechanism to convey meaning.
  • The researcher said that the popular hypothesis that the seals were inscribed with Proto-Dravidian or Proto-Indo-European names of the seal-owners does not hold water.

2 . Xenotransplantation

Context : Scientists based in Tokyo have been given the Japanese government’s approval to grow hybrid embryos to be brought to full term. 

About Xenotransplantation

  • Xenotransplantation is any procedure that involves transplanting cells, tissues or organs from one species to another.

About the Research

  • The cutting-edge — but controversial — research involves implanting modified animal embryos with human “induced pluripotent stem” (iPS) cells that can be coaxed into forming the building blocks of any part of the body.
  • The research involves generating animal embryos — mice, rats or pigs — that lack a particular organ such as a pancreas.
  • The modified embryos are then implanted with human iPS cells that can grow into the missing pancreas. The embryos would be transplanted into wombs where they could theoretically be carried to term with a functioning human pancreas.
  • The research led by Hiromitsu Nakauchi, a professor of genetics at Stanford University, is the first of its kind to receive government approval after Japan changed its rules on implanting human cells into animals.
  • Japan had previously required researchers to terminate animal embryos implanted with human cells after 14 days and prevented the embryos from being placed into animal wombs to develop. But in March those restrictions were dropped, allowing researchers to seek individual permits for research projects.


  • Xenotransplantation could potentially provide an unlimited supply of cells, tissues, and organs for humans. Any disease that is treated by human-to-human transplantation could potentially be treated by xenotransplantation.
  • Organ xenotransplants could include whole hearts, lungs, livers, kidneys or pancreases. Tissue xenotransplants could include skin grafts for burn patients, corneal transplants for the visually impaired, or bone transplants for limb reconstruction.
  • Cellular xenotransplants may provide treatment for people with diabetes, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases.


  • The most serious risk of xenotransplantation appears to be cross-species transmission of undetected or unidentified animal infectious agents to patients that could, in turn, be transmitted to the general public.The worst-case scenario would be a major new epidemic.
  • The potential risk of cross-species infection is largely compounded by the practices of patient immunosuppression for transplantation.
  • Some of the other scientific concerns surrounding xenotransplantation include immune rejection, uncertain efficacy/viability (whether it will work), and whether high levels of immunosuppression will leave the patient vulnerable to more frequent infectious diseases or cancer.


  • Scientists are attempting to overcome immune rejection by inserting human genes into animal cells to make them more acceptable to a patient’s immune system.
  • Some experts believe that moving to clinical trials is the only way the uncertainties surrounding xenotransplantation can be answered.
  • Others say experimental results show that a clinical trial at present would be premature and that these trials should be undertaken only if and when the risks have been shown to be minimal.

3 . UN General Assembly

About UN General Assembly

  • Established in 1945 under the Charter of the United Nations, the General Assembly occupies a central position as the chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations.
  • Comprising all 193 Members of the United Nations, it provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the Charter. It also plays a significant role in the process of standard-setting and the codification of international law.
  • The Assembly meets from September to December each year, and thereafter from January to August, as required, including to take up outstanding reports from the Fourth and Fifth Committees.
  • Also during the resumed part of the session, the Assembly considers current issues of critical importance to the international community in the form of High-level Thematic Debates organized by the President of the General Assembly in consultation with the membership. During that period, the Assembly traditionally also conducts informal consultations on a wide range of substantive topics, including on UN reform-related matters.

Functions and powers of the General Assembly

The Assembly is empowered to make recommendations to States on international issues within its competence. It has also initiated actions—political, economic, humanitarian, social and legal—which have affected the lives of millions of people throughout the world. The landmark Millennium Declaration, adopted in 2000, and the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, reflect the commitment of Member States:

  • to reach specific goals to attain peace, security and disarmament along with development and poverty eradication;
  • to safeguard human rights and promote the rule of law;
  • to protect our common environment;
  • to meet the special needs of Africa; and
  • to strengthen the United Nations.

According to the Charter of the United Nations, the General Assembly may:

  • Consider and approve the United Nations budget and establish the financial assessments of Member States;
  • Elect the non-permanent members of the Security Council and the members of other United Nations councils and organs and, on the recommendation of the Security Council, appoint the Secretary-General;
  • Consider and make recommendations on the general principles of cooperation for maintaining international peace and security, including disarmament;
  • Discuss any question relating to international peace and security and, except where a dispute or situation is currently being discussed by the Security Council, make recommendations on it;
  • Discuss, with the same exception, and make recommendations on any questions within the scope of the Charter or affecting the powers and functions of any organ of the United Nations;
  • Initiate studies and make recommendations to promote international political cooperation, the development and codification of international law, the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and international collaboration in the economic, social, humanitarian, cultural, educational and health fields;
  • Make recommendations for the peaceful settlement of any situation that might impair friendly relations among countries;
  • Consider reports from the Security Council and other United Nations organs.

4 . Art & Culture in News


  • Thumri- Thumri is a common style of light classical music. The text is romantic and devotional in nature, and usually revolves around a girl’s love for Krishna. The language is a dialect of Hindi called Brij bhasha. 
  • The thumri is very lyrical in its structure and presentation.
  • These forms are termed as ‘semi’ or ‘light’ classical. Thumri is a love song and hence the textual beauty is very important. This is closely coordinated with the musical rendition.
  • And keeping in mind its mood a thumri is usually set to ragas like Khamaj, Kaphi, Bhairavi and so on and the musical grammar is not strictly adered to.
  • There are two styles of thumri singing: the Poorab or Banaras which is fairly slow and staid and the Punjab style which is more mercurial


  • Mohiniyattam is one of the eight classical dances of India that developed and remained popular in the state of Kerala
  • Mohiniyattam literally interpreted as the dance of ‘Mohinithe celestial enchantress of the Hindu mythology
  • According to a Puranic story, Lord Vishnu took on the guise of a ‘Mohini’ to seduce the Asuras, both in connection with churning of the ocean and episode of the slaying of Bhasmasura
  • References of Mohiniyattam can be found in the texts Vyavaharamala written in 1709 by Mazhamagalam Narayanan Namputiri and in Ghoshayatra, written later by great poet Kunjan Nambiar. 
  • Mohiniyattam is characterized by graceful, swaying body movements with no abrupt jerks or sudden leaps. It belongs to the lasya style which is feminine, tender and graceful. 

5 . Facts for Prelims

  • Bandipur Tiger Reserve and National Park – Karnataka

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