Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Model code of conduct
- Project Akashteer
- Solar PV Waste
- New India Literacy Programme
- Rare diseases and National Policy on Rare Diseases
- Piezoelectric Effect
- Disinvestment (issues)
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Model Code of conduct
Context: Karnataka will choose its next Assembly in a single-phase election on May 10, with the results to be announced on May 13. The Model Code of Conduct has officially begun for the Karnataka Assembly elections until the finish of the electoral process, ensuring that the state’s ruling parties do not misuse their position.
What is the Model Code of Conduct?
- The Model Code of Conduct for guidance of political parties and candidates is a set of norms which has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code and also binds them to respect and observe it in its letter and spirit.
- The Model Code of Conduct is enforced from the date of announcement of election schedule by the Election Commission and is operational till the process of elections are completed.
Applicability of the Code
- During general elections to House of People (Lok Sabha), the code is applicable throughout the country.
- During general elections to the Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha), the code is applicable in the entire State.
- During bye-elections, in case the constituency is comprised in State Capital/Metropolitan Cities/Municipal Corporations, then the code would be applicable in the area of concerned Constituency only. In all other cases the MCC would be enforced in the entire district(s) covering the Constituency going for bye-election(s).
Salient features of the Model code of conduct
- The salient features of the Model Code of Conduct lay down how political parties, contesting candidates and party(s) in power should conduct themselves during the process of elections i.e. on their general conduct during electioneering, holding meetings and processions, poll day activities and functioning of the party in power etc.
- The Code’s main purpose is to ensure that ruling parties, at the Centre and in the states, do not misuse their position of advantage to gain an unfair edge.
- The code is designed to avert practices that are deemed corrupt, one of the rule under the Code prohibits parties from making promises about new projects that may sway a voter.
How has the MCC evolved over the years?
- Kerala was the first state to adopt a code of conduct for elections.
- In 1960, ahead of the Assembly elections, the state administration prepared a draft code that covered important aspects of electioneering such as processions, political rallies, and speeches.
- The experiment was successful, and the Election Commission decided to emulate Kerala’s example and circulate the draft among all recognised parties and state governments for the Lok Sabha elections of 1962.
- However, it was only in 1974, just before the mid-term general elections, that the EC released a formal Model Code of Conduct. This Code was also circulated during the parliamentary elections of 1977. Until this time, the MCC was meant to guide the conduct of political parties and candidates only. However, on September 12, 1979, at a meeting of all political parties, the Commission was apprised of the misuse of official machinery by parties in power.
- The Commission was told that ruling parties monopolised public spaces, making it difficult for others to hold meetings. There were also examples of the party in power publishing advertisements at the cost of the public exchequer to influence voters. At this meeting, political parties urged the Commission to change the Code.
- EC just before the 1979 Lok Sabha elections, released a revised Model Code with seven parts, with one part devoted to the party in power and what it could and could not do once elections were announced.
- The MCC has been revised on several occasions since then. The last time this happened was in 2014, when the Commission introduced Part VIII on manifestos, pursuant to the directions of the Supreme Court.
- Part I deals with general precepts of good behaviour expected from candidates and political parties.
- Parts II and III focus on public meetings and processions.
- Parts IV and V describe how political parties and candidates should conduct themselves on the day of polling and at the polling booths.
- Part VI is about the authority appointed by the EC to receive complaints on violations of the MCC.
- Part VII is on the party in power.
What is permitted and what is not under the MCC for the party in power?
- The MCC forbids ministers (of state and central governments) from using official machinery for election work and from combining official visits with electioneering.
- Advertisements extolling the work of the incumbent government using public money are to be avoided.
- The government cannot announce any financial grants, promise construction of roads or other facilities, and make any ad hoc appointments in government or public undertaking during the time the Code is in force.
- Ministers cannot enter any polling station or counting centre except in their capacity as a voter or a candidate.
- However, the Commission is conscious that the MCC must not lead to governance grinding to a complete halt. It has clarified that the Code does not stand in the way of ongoing schemes of development work or welfare, relief and rehabilitation measures meant for people suffering from drought, floods, and other natural calamities. However, the EC forbids the use of these works for election propaganda.
- The Election Commission decided that the MCC will also apply to content posted by political parties and candidates on the Internet, including on social media sites.
Is the MCC legally enforceable?
- It is not a legally enforceable document, and the Commission usually uses moral sanction to get political parties and candidates to fall in line.
- Governments have in the past attempted to amend The Representation of the People Act, 1951, to make some violations of the MCC illegal and punishable.
- Although the EC’s stand in the mid-1980s was that Part VII of the MCC (dealing with the party in power) should have statutory backing, it changed its position after the conduct of Lok Sabha elections in the 1990s.
- The EC is now of the opinion that making the Code legally enforceable would be self-defeating because any violation must be responded to quickly — and this will not be possible if the matter goes to court.
2 . Project Akashteer
Context: The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has signed three contracts worth ₹5,400 crore — two with Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) worth ₹2,400 crore for procurement of Automated Air Defence Control and Reporting System ‘Project Akashteer’ for the Army and Sarang Electronic Support Measure (ESM) systems for the Navy.
What is Project Akashteer?
- The Automated Air Defence Control & Reporting System ‘Project Akashteer’ will empower the Air Defence units of the Indian Army with an indigenous, state-of-the-art capability, to effectively operate in an integrated manner.
- Akashteer will enable monitoring of low level airspace over the battle areas of Indian Army and effectively control the Ground Based Air Defence Weapon Systems.
- It is being designed and manufactured by Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL). Akash Teer will integrate the Indian Army’s sensors and weapon systems.
- The recommendation for creating an Air Defence Command and preparation of a roadmap was first mooted by CDS Rawat. Making the announcement the CDS Rawat said ensuring synergy between tri-services would be a top priority followed by setting up of common logistics support pools in stations where two or more services are present.
- The idea behind the ADC is to integrate the air defence and assets of the Army, Air Force and Navy and jointly provide air defence cover to the nation. These decisions have been taken to help India effectively deal with all the future security challenges by bringing all the air assets of the IAF, the Indian Navy and the Indian Army under the integrated Air Defence Command.
- The Indian Air Force will be entrusted with the air defence command and all-long range missiles as well as air defence assets will come under it
- As per the report, the air defence command may come under the IAF’s Delhi-headquartered Western Command or its Central Command headquartered in Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh. Apart from this, India is also preparing a separate training and doctrinal command and logistics command.
3 . Solar PV Waste
Context: There has in the last few years been a concerted push from policymakers in India to transition to a circular economy and to, among other things, enable effective waste management. But waste management in the solar photovoltaic (PV) sector still lacks clear directives.
What is Solar photovoltaic Technology?
- Photovoltaic energy is based on the photovoltaic effect, by which a photon (elementary particle of light) impacts a panel composed of semiconductors. Silicon is the main element in Semi-conductors. When the photon impacts semi-conductors it releases electrons. This reaction generates electricity through exposure to light. In photovoltaic energy solar panels, the semiconductors are shaped into thin layers that produce an electric current. These semiconductors comprise the core element of solar cells Semiconductors capture the electric current converting it into electricity for the house or business.
What is Solar PV Waste?
- Solar Photovoltaic Waste are the waste that are generated from the discarded solar panels. Globally, India has the world’s fourth highest solar PV deployment. The installed solar capacity was nearly 62GW in November 2022. This augurs a colossal amount of solar PV waste.
- According to a 2016 report by the International Renewable Energy Agency, India could generate 50,000-3,25,000 tonnes of PV waste by 2030 and more than four million tonnes by 2050.
- India’s solar PV installations are dominated by crystalline silicon (c-Si) technology. A typical PV panel is made of c-Si modules (93%) and cadmium telluride thin-film modules (7%). A c-Si module mainly consists of a glass sheet, an aluminium frame, an encapsulant, a backsheet, copper wires, and silicon wafers. Silver, tin, and lead are used to make c-Si modules. The thin-film module is made of glass, encapsulant, and compound semiconductors.
Is this waste recovered or recycled?
- As these panels near expiration, some portions of the frame are extracted and sold as scrap; junctions and cables are recycled according to e-waste guidelines; the glass laminate is partly recycled; and the rest is disposed of as general waste. Silicon and silver can be extracted by burning the module in cement furnaces. According to a 2021 report, approximately 50% of the total materials can be recovered.
What are the challenges in handling solar waste?
- India’s challenge is the growing informal handling of PV waste. Only about 20% of the waste is recovered in general; the rest is treated informally. As a result, the waste often accumulates at landfills, which pollute the surroundings. Incinerating the encapsulant also releases sulphur dioxide, hydrogen fluoride, and hydrogen cyanide into the atmosphere.
- India needs to surmount significant collection, storage, recycling, and repurposing challenges.
- The market to repurpose or reuse recycled PV waste is minuscule in India due to a lack of suitable incentives and schemes in which businesses can invest.
What are the gaps in handling solar Waste?
- Clubbing PV waste with other e-waste could lead to confusion. Instead, India should formulate and implement provisions specific to PV waste treatment within the ambit of the e-waste guidelines. And a Central insurance or a regulatory body should be set up to protect against financial losses incurred in waste collection and treatment.
- The waste generated from PV modules and their components is classified as ‘hazardous waste’ in India. To further drive home this label, pan-India sensitisation drives and awareness programmes on PV waste management will be beneficial
- Considering that India’s local solar PV-panel manufacturing is limited, it is need to pay more attention to domestic R&D efforts. Depending on a single module type will dis-uniformly deplete certain natural resources and stunt the local capacity for recycling and recovery of critical materials. The domestic development of PV waste recycling technologies must be promoted through appropriate infrastructure facilities and adequate funding.
Why should India act now?
- Considering the rate at which these panels are being installed around the country, India is expected to generate an enormous amount of waste over the next 20 years. In fact, India is expected to become one of the top five leading photovoltaic waste producers worldwide by 2050. Now is the right time for it to install clear policy directives, well-established recycling strategies, and greater collaboration, so that it doesn’t find itself caught unprepared against a new problem in the future.
4 . New India Literacy Programme
Context: There are 22.7 lakh unlikely students from ten States and Union Territories who in a bid to be called ‘literate,’ appeared for the Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Assessment Test (FLNAT) for 2022-23. More than 40% of the aspirant candidates were from Madhya Pradesh alone.
New India Literacy Programme
- A new centrally sponsored scheme on Education for All (erstwhile known as Adult Education), “New India Literacy Programme (NILP)”, has been approved by the Government of India with a financial outlay of Rs.1037.90 crore for implementation during FYs 2022-23 to 2026-27, in alignment with the recommendations of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
What are the Objectives of the scheme?
- The scheme aims to cover a target of 5.00 crore non-literates in the age group of 15 years and above.
Components of the scheme
The Scheme has five components:
- Foundational Literacy and Numeracy,
- Critical Life Skills (which include, financial literacy, digital literacy, legal literacy, healthcare and awareness, childcare and education, family welfare, etc.),
- Basic Education (includes preparatory (classes 3 – 5), middle (classes 6- 8), and secondary stage (classes 9-12) equivalency),
- Vocational Skills (Skill development will be a part of the continuous learning process for neo-literates to obtain local employment),
- Continuing Education (This includes engaging holistic adult education courses in arts, sciences, technology, culture, sports, recreation, as well as other topics of interest or use to local learners).
- Formation and involvement of SHGs, Voluntary & User Groups and other community-based organizations may be encouraged.
- Identification of beneficiaries- The beneficiaries under the scheme are identified through door-to-door survey on Mobile App by the surveyors in the States/UTs. The non-literate can also avail the benefit of the scheme through direct registration from any place through mobile app.
- The scheme is mainly based on volunteerism for teaching and learning. Volunteers can also register through mobile app for this purpose.
- The scheme is based on technology and implemented predominantly through online mode. The teaching learning material and resources have been made available on DIKSHA platform of NCERT and can be accessed through the mobile-apps. Further, other modes like TV, Radio, Samajik Chetna Kendra etc. are also to be used for dissemination of Foundational Literacy and Numeracy.
- Currently, local officials conduct door-to-door surveys to canvass illiterate adults willing to learn, offering learning spaces in nearby classrooms after regular school hours are over. The Ministry is now building a mobile app that will help willing adult learners to self-register in the programme.
- Functional Literacy– In earlier schemes, it was enough to learn how to do a signature and write your name to be declared literate. But, NILP will make one to read with comprehension, and have mathematical skills to be declared literate.
- Bridging the Gap- All the non-literate above 15 years of age can avail the benefits of the scheme. NILP is also the first time that a government scheme covers the missing age group of 15 to 18-year-old children, who are at risk of dropping out of school. The Right To Education covers children till 14 years and adult literacy programmes target persons over 18 years. “The focus is now on bringing children from 15 to 18 years back into the learning fold so the cycle of illiteracy can break.
5 . Rare diseases and National Policy on Rare Diseases
Context: All drugs and food for special medical purposes imported for personal use for treatment of all rare diseases listed under the National Policy for Rare Diseases, 2021 are now fully exempted from basic customs duty, the Union government declared through a general exemption notification.
What are rare diseases?
- A rare disease is a health condition of low prevalence that affects a small number of people compared with other prevalent diseases in the general population.
- WHO defines rare disease as often debilitating lifelong disease or disorder with a prevalence of 1 or less, per 1000 population. However, different countries have their own definitions to suit their specific requirements and in context of their own population, health care system and resources
- It is estimated that globally around 6000 to 8000 rare diseases exist with new rare diseases being reported in the medical literature regularly.
- A rare disease is defined as one that affects fewer than 200,000 people across a broad range of possible disorders.
- Chronic genetic diseases are commonly classified as rare. Among numerous possibilities, rare diseases may result from bacterial or viral infections, allergies, chromosome disorders, degenerative and proliferative causes, affecting any body organ. Rare diseases may be chronic or incurable, although many short-term medical conditions are also rare diseases.
Rare disease issues and challenges
- The varying definitions of rare diseases- Different countries have their own definitions to suit their specific requirements and in context of their own population, health care system and resources. The use of varying definitions and diverse terminology can result in confusion and inconsistencies and has implications for access to treatment and for research and development.
- Diagnosis of rare diseases -Early diagnosis of rare diseases is a challenge owing to multiple factors that include lack of awareness among primary care physicians, lack of adequate screening and diagnostic facilities.
- Challenges in research and development- A fundamental challenge in research and development for the majority of rare diseases is that there is relatively little known about the pathophysiology or the natural history of these diseases.
- Unavailability of treatment – Availability and access to medicines are important to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with rare diseases.
- The prohibitive cost of treatment- As the number of persons suffering from individual rare diseases is small, they do not constitute a significant market for drug manufacturers to develop and bring to market drugs for them. For this reason, rare diseases are also called ‘orphan diseases’ and drugs to treat them are called “orphan drugs”. Where, they do make drugs to treat rare diseases, the prices are extremely high apparently to recoup the cost of research and development.
Need for a Policy
- Rare diseases are, in most case illnesses, often requiring longs, serious, chronic, debilitating and life-threatening term and specialised treatments/management. In addition, they often result in some form of handicap, sometimes extremely severe. Moreover, they disproportionately impact and are children: 50% of new cases are in children responsible for 35% of deaths before the age of 1 year, 10% between the ages of 1 and 5years and 12% between 5and15years.
- The impact on families is often catastrophic in terms of emotional as well as drain, as the cost of treatment is prohibitively high. This requires the need of policy for Rare Disease
National Policy for Treatment of Rare Diseases
- The Government has launched National Policy for Rare Diseases (NPRD), 2021 in March 2021 for the treatment of rare disease patients.
- The salient features of NPRD, 2021 are as under:
- The rare diseases have been identified and categorized into 3 groups namely Group 1, Group 2 and Group 3.
- Group 1: Disorders amenable to one-time curative treatment.
- Group-2: Diseases requiring long term/lifelong treatment having relatively lower cost of treatment and benefit has been documented in literature and annual or more frequent surveillance is required.
- Group 3:- Diseases for which definitive treatment is available but challenges are to make optimal patient selection for benefit, very high cost and lifelong therapy.
- Provision for financial support of up to Rs. 50 lakhs to the patients suffering from any category of the Rare Diseases and for treatment in any of the Centre of Excellence (CoE) mentioned in NPRD-2021, outside the Umbrella Scheme of Rashtriya Arogaya Nidhi.
- In order to receive financial assistance for treatment of rare disease, the patient of the nearby area may approach the nearest Centre of Excellence to get him assessed and avail the benefits.
- Eight (08) Centres of Excellence (CoEs) have been identified for diagnosis, prevention and treatment of rare diseases.
- Five Nidan Kendras have been set up for genetic testing and counselling services.
- The NPRD, 2021 has provisions for promotion of research and development for diagnosis and treatment of rare diseases; promotion of local development and manufacture of drugs and creation of conducive environment for indigenous manufacturing of drugs for rare diseases at affordable prices.
Initiatives taken by the government for treatment of rare diseases
- Department of Pharmaceuticals has initiated the implementation of Production Linked Incentive Scheme for Pharmaceuticals. The Scheme provides for financial incentives to manufacturers selected under the Scheme for domestic manufacturing of various product categories, which also include Orphan drugs.
- Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance gives full waiver of Basic Customs Duty (BCD) and Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) to drugs imported (personal use only) for treatment of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) rare disease, thereby making the medicines for SMA rare disease more affordable.
- In addition, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance has given exemption from Basic Customs Duty to drugs or medicines, which are used in the treatment of Rare Diseases when imported by Centres of Excellence (CoEs) as specified in NPRD, 2021 or any person or institution on recommendation of any Centre of Excellence listed in NPRD, 2021, certifying that the person (by name) for whom the drugs or medicines are imported, is suffering from a rare disease (to be specified by name) and requires the drugs or medicines for the treatment of said rare disease
6 . Piezoelectric Effect
Context: For the first time, scientists have reported evidence of the piezoelectric effect in liquids. The effect has been known for 143 years and in this time has been observed only in solids. The new finding challenges the theory that describes this effect as well as opens the door to previously unanticipated applications in electronic and mechanical systems
What is the piezoelectric effect?
- Piezoelectric Effect is the ability of certain materials to generate an electric charge in response to applied mechanical stress. The word Piezoelectric is derived from the Greek piezein, which means to squeeze or press, and piezo, which is Greek for “push”.
- Characteristics– One of the unique characteristics of the piezoelectric effect is that it is reversible, meaning that materials exhibiting the direct piezoelectric effect (the generation of electricity when stress is applied) also exhibit the converse piezoelectric effect (the generation of stress when an electric field is applied).
- When piezoelectric material is placed under mechanical stress, a shifting of the positive and negative charge centers in the material takes place, which then results in an external electrical field. When reversed, an outer electrical field either stretches or compresses the piezoelectric material.
- There are many materials, both natural and man-made, that exhibit a range of piezoelectric effects. Some naturally piezoelectric occurring materials include Berlinite (structurally identical to quartz), cane sugar, quartz, Rochelle salt, topaz, tourmaline, and bone (dry bone exhibits some piezoelectric properties due to the apatite crystals, and the piezoelectric effect is generally thought to act as a biological force sensor). An example of man-made piezoelectric materials includes barium titanate and lead zirconate titanate.
Applications of piezoelectric effect
- The piezoelectric effect is very useful within many applications that involve the production and detection of sound, generation of high voltages, electronic frequency generation, microbalances, and ultra fine focusing of optical assemblies.
- It is also the basis of a number of scientific instrumental techniques with atomic resolution, such as scanning probe microscopes (STM, AFM, etc).
- It is used in this capacity in analog wristwatches and clocks. Such crystals are also used in cigarette lighters, electric guitars, TV remote controls, audio transducers, and other instruments where converting mechanical stress to a current is useful.
Piezoelectric effect in quartz
- Quartz is the most famous piezoelectric crystal. Quartz is silicon dioxide (SiO2). The quartz crystal consists of silicon and oxygen atoms at the four vertices of a three-sided pyramid; each oxygen atom is shared by two pyramids. These pyramids repeat themselves to form the crystal.
- The effective charge of each pyramid is located slightly away from the centre. When a mechanical stress is applied – i.e. when the crystal is squeezed – the position of the charge is pushed further from the centre, giving rise to a small voltage. This is the source of the effect.
Why the piezoelectric effect in liquids surprising?
- The reason the piezoelectric effect has only been expected in solids thus far is that the body being squeezed needs to have an organised structure, like the pyramids of quartz. Liquids don’t have such structure; instead, they take the shape of their container.
- Physicists explain the effect using a combination of Hooke’s law – that the force required to squeeze an object is linearly (i.e. non-exponentially) proportional to the amount of squeezing – and the properties of dielectric materials. These are materials that don’t conduct electricity but whose electrons are still mildly affected by an electric field. Hooke’s law is not clear when the body isn’t very compressible.
What new applications are possible?
- This discovery opens the door to applications that have previously not been accessible with solid-state materials, and [room-temperature ionic liquids] are more readily recyclable and in many instances pose fewer environmental issues than many currently used piezoelectric materials. The liquids also displayed the inverse piezoelectric effect: they became distorted when an electric charge was applied.
- Having a theory to explain the liquids’ behaviour could reveal why these liquids behave the way they do, which could in turn reveal better ways to manipulate them and develop newer applications.
7 . Disinvestment
Context: The Finance Ministry, which last month pared the government’s disinvestment target for 2023-24 to a nine-year low of ₹51,000 crore, has now publicly acknowledged the numerous challenges it is facing in its efforts to privatise public sector enterprises (PSEs) and raise funds through minority stake sales, a drive that has slowed sharply since Air India’s sale.
What is Disinvestment?
- Disinvestment can also be defined as the action of an organisation (or government) selling or liquidating an asset or subsidiary. It is also referred to as ‘divestment’ or ‘divestiture.’
- In most contexts, disinvestment typically refers to sale from the government, partly or fully, of a government-owned enterprise.
- A company or a government organisation will typically disinvest an asset either as a strategic move for the company, or for raising resources to meet general/specific needs.
Objectives of disinvestment
- To reduce the financial burden on the Government
- To improve public finances
- To introduce, competition and market discipline
- To fund growth
- To encourage wider share of ownership
- To depoliticise non-essential services
Importance of Disinvestment
- Presently, the Government has about Rs. 2 lakh crore locked up in PSUs. Disinvestment of the Government stake is, thus, far too significant. The importance of disinvestment lies in utilisation of funds for:
- Financing the increasing fiscal deficit
- Financing large-scale infrastructure development
- For investing in the economy to encourage spending
- For retiring Government debt- Almost 40-45% of the Centre’s revenue receipts go towards repaying public
- For social programs like health and education
- Disinvestment also assumes significance due to the prevalence of an increasingly competitive environment, which makes it difficult for many PSUs to operate profitably. This leads to a rapid erosion of value of the public assets making it critical to disinvest early to realize a high value.
Recent issues with Disinvestment?
- Global challenges- COVID-19 pandemic seriously impacted transactions in 2020 and 2021, followed by the Ukraine conflict last year, which hurt minority stake sales as well as strategic sales as “financial capacity and risk-reward options of potential bidders turned worse
- Apart from the global challenges, strategic disinvestment transactions have to deal with matters such as resolving land title, lease and land use issues with State government authorities, disposal of non-core assets, excess manpower and labour unions, protection of process and functionaries etc.
- Multiple court cases filed by employees’ unions and other interest groups against the disinvestment policy as well as specific transactions were also hindering deals.
- Challenges to disinvestment through minority stake sale include reduced availability of government stake over 51% for large listed central PSEs; relatively muted perception of investors in these stocks as compared to private sector peers; price overhang in the market due to high disinvestment target and frequent use of exchange traded funds (ETF) route for stake sale till 2019-20.
- The privatisation of Central Electronics and Pawan Hans had to be scrapped after being announced, owing to legal concerns about the winning bidders.
- The proposed privatisation of BPCL and a SAIL unit — Bhadrawati Steel – had been called off due to lack of sufficient interest among bidders.
- A planned sale of two other firms – Engineering Projects India and Bridge and Roof Company (India) – has been found “not feasible” during this year.
7 . Facts for prelims
Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS)
- The SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure established by the member states of the Shanghai Convention to combat terrorism, separatism and extremism of 15 June, 2001, located in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz Republic, shall be a standing SCO body.
- Since its establishment, the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO RATS) has made a significant contribution to the development of the Organization and has become its supporting pillar and coordinating center in combating terrorism, separatism and extremism at the regional and global levels.
- At the stage of development of the RATS, the main focus was on the establishment of an organizational and legal framework that determined the principles and areas of cooperation and ensured proper functioning of its working bodies, namely the Council and the Executive Committee.
- The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure operates in accordance with the SCO Charter, the Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism, the Agreement among the SCO member states on the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure, as well as documents and decisions adopted in the SCO framework.
- Member countries have more recently incorporated narcoterrorism and drug smuggling as focus areas for RATS, as narcotics have become a major source of funding for anti-government activities within member states. The organization also maintains a database of individuals and organizations aiding organizations designated as terrorists, separatists or extremists by member states.
- The director of the RATS Executive Committee is appointed by the SCO Council of Heads of State to a three-year term after which the role is traditionally transferred to the representative of another member state, rotating by order of accession. The current director is Ruslan Mirzaev of Uzbekistan, who assumed office on 1 January 2022.
- RATS was headquartered in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, until 2022, when the organisation voted to move its headquarters to Moscow, Russia. RATS’ official languages are Chinese, Russian and English
- Its main tasks and duties are as follows:
- Maintaining working relations with competent institutions of the member states and international organisations tackling issues of fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism;
- Assistance in interaction among the member states in preparation and staging of counter-terrorism exercises at the request of concerned member states, preparation and conduct of search operations and other activities in the field of fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism;
- Joint drafting of international legal documents concerning the fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism;
- Gathering and analysis of information coming to the RATS from the member states, formation and filling of RATS data bank;
- Joint formation of a system of effective response to global challenges and threats;
- Preparation and holding of scientific conferences and workshops, assistance in sharing experience in the field of fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism.
- Abu’l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar was the third and one of the most well-known Mughal emperor who reigned from 1556 to 1605 after succeeding his father, Humayun.
- The Mughal ruler was a patron of artists and intellectuals who were blessed with either a special talent or possessed a strong desire to gain knowledge. His court was filled with poets, architects and artisans from all across the land. Akbar was also famous for the exceptionally genius people who served in his court.
- There were a few intellectuals that stood out among the rest for the King. They were known as Akbar’s navratnas because they were nine in number and they were precious to the King. Akbar’s nine courtiers, or Navratnas, consisted of artists, singers, writers, financial advisers, soldiers and poets.
- As a young man, Abul Fazl entered Akbar’s court and quickly put his prodigious brain to support and encourage Akbar’s philosophical and religious endeavours. Abul Fazl was the grand vizier of Akbar’s court and one of his most cherished courtiers. He is most remembered for penning the Akbarnama, a three-volume official history of Akbar’s reign.
2. Raja Todar Mal
- Akbar’s finance minister was Raja Todar Mal, a Hindu Khatri. Todar Mal restructured Akbar’s Mughal Empire’s income system. He introduced systems such as Zabt, a revenue system, and the Dahshala taxation system. Also, Todar Mal is credited for the creation of the world’s first land accounting and measurement system.
- Tansen was a musician in Akbar’s court and one of the most well-known courtiers among the navratnas. He is also one of the most prominent figures in Hindustani classical music in India. Apart from being a musician, he was also a composer, a vocalist and a good instrumentalist. Akbar bestowed upon him the title of Mian, which means ‘learned man.’ He also wrote two classical music books, Sangita Sara and Sri Ganesh Stotra.
- Because of his intellect, Birbal was nominated to Akbar’s court. Birbal’s responsibilities in Akbar’s court mostly revolved around military and administrative work, but he was also a close friend of the emperor. Birbal was the first and only Hindu to convert to the religion created by Akbar, Din-i-llahi. When Birbal died in a battle, it is reported that Akbar was profoundly upset and even mourned his loss.
- Shaikh Abu al-Faiz ibn Mubarak, well known by his pen name Faizi, was a celebrated Mughal poet and scholar. He was Abul Fazl’s older brother, the author of Akbarnama. He was also chosen as a tutor to Akbar’s boys due to his intelligence. However, eventually, he became Malik-ush-Shu’ara, or poet laureate of Akbar’s court.
- Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khanan
- Abdul Rahim was one of the Mughal empire’s most famous poets and military officers. Rahim was very close to Akbar and was a close friend with him. His Hindi couplets and astrology books have made him famous. He was an influential minister in Akbar’s court and a well-known military figure. He wrote various dohas and translated Babar’s memoirs, the famous Baburnama from Chagatai to Persian.
- Man Singh I
Man Singh was one of Akbar’s most courageous and trusted military generals who led the Mughal army to numerous victories. He fought in several battles, including the famous ‘Haldighati’ battle against Maharana Pratap. Man Singh is said to have had a great impact on influencing Akbar’s tolerant attitude toward Hindus.
8. Fakir Aziao-Din
- Fakir Aziao-Din was a mystic and emperor Akbar’s top adviser. His guidance was highly valued by the emperor, who justifiably named him one of his court’s nine gems. According to several reports, Aziao-Din used to counsel Akbar on many religious matters.
9. Mulla Do Piyaza
- Mulla Do Piyaza was a senior counsellor of Akbar. He was in charge of the internal security of the country. He is also considered to be the counterpart of Birbal. Mulla Do Piyaza, on the other hand, is rarely mentioned in Mughal history, leading some to believe he was a mythical character who never existed.
Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR)
- The Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) is a captive body of the Ministry of Education, Government of India established by an Administrative Order. The body has provided financial assistance to historians and scholars through fellowships, grants, and symposia.
- The ICHR receives grants-in-aid from the Department of Higher Education, grants-in-aid from various Indian states, private donations, and the proceeds of revenues from the sale of publications of the ICHR. The ICHR is based in Delhi, with regional centres in Pune (Maharashtra), Bengaluru (Karnataka), and Guwahati (Assam).
- Objectives– The objectives of the ICHR, as enunciated in the initial pamphlet published by the Department of Education, Government of India in 1972, are as under:
- to bring historians together and provide a forum for the exchange of views between them;
- to give a national direction to objective and scientific writing of history and to have rational presentation and interpretation of history;
- to promote, accelerate and coordinate research in history with special emphasis on areas that have not received adequate attention so far;
- to promote and coordinate a balanced distribution of research effort over different areas; and
- to elicit support and recognition for historical research from all concerned and ensure the necessary dissemination and use of results
- ICHR is funded by grants-in-aid received from the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development. It also receives funds from the various state governments of India and from other Ministries of the government of India.
- The Members of the Council of ICHR (Governing Body) are nominated for a period of three years. The Chairman of the Council of ICHR is nominated by the Department of Education in an honorary capacity and his term is not co-terminus with that of the members of the Constituted Council. The day-to-day functioning of the ICHR is looked after by the Director who acts as ex officio Member Secretary of the Council.
- The Vaikom Satyagraha was launched on March 30, 1924, against the ban imposed on members of marginalised communities on the four streets surrounding the Vaikom Mahadevar Temple. However, the satyagraha is considered as the first-ever organised struggle in Kerala demanding the right to use public roads for people of all castes and communities.
- In the Kakinada meet of the Congress Party in 1923, T K Madhavan presented a report citing the discrimination that the depressed castes’ people were facing in Kerala. It was after this session that movements against untouchability need to be promoted. In Kerala, a committee was formed comprising people of different castes to fight untouchability.
- The committee chaired by K Kelappan, comprised of T K Madhavan, Velayudha Menon, K Neelakantan Namboothiri and T R Krishnaswami Iyer.
- In February 1924, they decided to launch a ‘Keralaparyatanam’ in order to get temple entry and also the right to use public roads for every Hindu irrespective of caste or creed.
- The protest was started under the leadership of T K Madhavan, K P Kesava Menon and George Joseph with the blessings of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) and Mahatma Gandhi after T K Madhavan raised the injustice being faced by the lower caste people, in the Kakinada meet of the Congress party in 1923.
- The 603-day-long struggle witnessed several ups and downs. While frontline leaders were arrested within two weeks of the strike, Periyar E V Ramasamy was brought in from Tamil Nadu, who gave a fresh lease of life to the agitation. When Mahatma Gandhi himself arrived in Vaikom, leaders like Chattampi Swamikal, Sree Narayana Guru and Mannath Padmanabhan extended unfaltering support to the movement, which boosted the persistence and resolve of the satyagrahis. Support flowed in from people across the country with even Akalis of Punjab setting up a camp at Vaikom for preparing food for the satyagrahis.
- The strike was withdrawn officially on November 30, 1925, following active consultations between Gandhiji and W H Pitt, the then police commissioner of the Travancore State. The compromise formula stipulated the release of all prisoners and the opening of the roads on the northern, southern, and western sides of the temple. The eastern entry of the road, however, continued to be reserved for the upper castes.
- It is considered as the first-ever organised struggle in Kerala demanding the right to use public roads for people of all castes and communities. It was launched against the ban imposed on members of marginalised communities on the four streets surrounding the Vaikom Mahadevar Temple