Nilgiri tribals tense as trekkers trash priceless rock art
Topic: GS-I: Indian Heritage and Culture
The rock paintings in Karikiyoor at Kil Kotagiri in the Nilgiri forests have withstood the forces of nature for some 5,000 years, but in just the last few years, close to 40% of the paintings have been destroyed by trekkers, tourists, and vandals.
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- Members of the Irula tribal community, who have an ancestral link to the site, said they were “extremely angered” and “disturbed” by the damage by illegal trekkers, who have painted over religious symbols using whitener pens and political messages with chalk, while couples have carved their names on the rocks, permanently disfiguring the priceless pre-historic site.
- The rock paintings in Karikiyoor contain analogous-Indus script, meaning they resemble the script found in Indus civilization sites of northern India.
- Sites such as Karikiyoor need to be preserved to better understand the people that lived in the region, while also possibly deducing how certain technology and written scripts could have diffused to southern India from the Indus peoples or vice versa.
Centre in damage control mode over anti-Hindi protests
Topic: GS –II: Constitution and Polity
The Centre went into damage control mode and allay concerns over the Draft National Education Policy’s recommendation on the three-language formula and mandatory Hindi teaching in schools, which has sparked outrage across the political spectrum in Tamil Nadu.
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- Government said that The National Education Policy as submitted to the Minister HRD is only a draft report. Feedback shall be obtained from general public. State governments will be consulted. Only after this the draft report will be finalised.Government respects all languages. No language shall be imposed.
- The draft of National Educational Policy has been submitted to the Union Human Resource Development Minister, by Committee led by the Chairman Dr. Kasturirangan on Friday May 31, 2019.
Aim of National Educational Policy
- To equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge
- To eliminate the shortage of manpower in science, technology, academics and industry
- The Draft National Education Policy, 2019 is built on the foundational pillars of Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability and Accountability.
- A ‘Committee for Evolution of the New Education Policy’ under the Chairmanship of Late TSR Subramanian, Former Cabinet Secretary, was constituted, which submitted its report in May, 2016. Based on this report, the ministry prepared ‘Some Inputs for the Draft National Education Policy, 2016’.
- The committee has proposed to rename MHRD as Ministry of Education (MoE).
- In school education, a major reconfiguration of curricular and pedagogical structure with Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) as an integral part of school education is proposed.
- The committee also recommends Extension of Right to Education Act 2009 to cover children of ages 3 to 18.
- It also seeks to reduce content load in school education curriculum.
- There will be no hard separation of learning areas in terms of curricular, co-curricular or extra- curricular areas and all subjects, including arts, music, crafts, sports, yoga, community service, etc will be curricular.
- It promotes active pedagogy that will focus on the development of core capacities: and life skills, including 21st century skills.
- The committee proposes for massive transformation in teacher education by shutting down sub-standard teacher education institutions and moving all teacher preparation/education programmes into large multidisciplinary universities/colleges.
- The 4-year integrated stage-specific B.Ed. programme will eventually be the minimum degree qualification for teachers.
- In higher education, a restructuring of higher education institutions with three types of higher education institutions is proposed.
- There will be re-structuring of Undergraduate programs (e.g. BSc, BA, BCom, BVoc) of 3 or 4 years duration and having multiple exit and entry options.
- A new apex body Rashtriya Shiksha Ayog is proposed to enable a holistic and integrated implementation of all educational initiatives and programmatic interventions, and to coordinate efforts between the Centre and states.
- The National Research Foundation, an apex body is proposed for creating a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education.
- The four functions of standard setting, Funding, Accreditation and Regulation to be separated and conducted by independent bodies: National Higher Education Regulatory Authority as the only regulator for all higher education including professional education.
- Creation of accreditation eco-system led by revamped NAAC.
- Professional Standard Setting Bodies for each area of professional education and UGC to transform to Higher Education Grants Commission (HEGC).
- The private and public institutions will be treated on par and education will remain a ‘not for profit’ activity.
- Several new policy initiatives for promoting internationalization of higher education, strengthening quality open and distance learning, technology integration at all levels of education, adult and lifelong learning and initiatives to enhance participation of under-represented groups, and eliminate gender, social category and regional gaps in education outcomes were also recommended.
- Promotion of Indian and classical languages and setting up three new National Institutes for Pali, Persian and Prakrit.
- Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI) has been recommended.
- The three-language formula for language learning was formulated in 1968 by the Ministry of Education in consultation with the states.
- The formula as enunciated in the 1968 National Policy Resolution which provided for the study of “Hindi, English and modern Indian language (preferably one of the southern languages) in the Hindi speaking states and Hindi, English and the Regional language in the non-Hindi speaking States”.
- The formula was formulated in response to demands from non-Hindi speaking states of the South, such as Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and mainly Tamil Nadu. Currently, the three language system is not followed in Tamil Nadu due to efforts of former Chief Minister C. N. Annadurai.
U.S. visa process needs social media profiles now
Topic: GS –II: International relations
In a significant move to increase surveillance of those seeking to enter the United States, Washington will require most individuals applying for visas to provide details of their social media handles going back five years.
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- The rule is expected to affect close to 15 million people annually.
- Online visa forms that require social media account history became operational at the end of last week and will cover all applicants, except those applying for certain official and diplomatic visas.
- The rule to expand social media history data collection to all immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants was first published by the State Department in April 2018. It was an outcome of President Donald Trump’s desire to put in place a policy of “extreme vetting” of foreigners entering the country, a theme articulated during his campaign and through executive orders in 2017.
- Earlier, social media information was asked of only certain individuals whose applications required further review. Now, the information is required as part of all immigrant (form DS-260) and non-immigrant (form DS-160) online visa applications.
- A high volume of Indian applications is likely to be impacted by the new proposal.
Navy steps up anti-piracy patrol
Topic: GS -III: Security
Expanding its mission-based deployments (MBD) in the Indian Ocean region, the Navy deployed its P-8I long-range maritime surveillance aircraft for anti-piracy sorties from Salalah in Oman to patrol the Gulf of Aden.
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- The P-8I provided long-range maritime domain awareness.
- Since 2008, India has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the commercially crucial Gulf of Aden.
- This was the second time the P-8I operated from Salalah for anti-piracy this year. It was operated from there first in January.
- Besides escorting Indian-flagged vessels, ships of other countries have also been provided protection. “No ship under Indian escort has thus far been hijacked by pirate.
- Till date, the Navy has escorted 3,440 ships, of which 3,027 were of foreign flags and 413 of Indian flag. Navy ships also made 414 interventions at sea. Seventy-three ships have been deployed till date on anti-piracy patrols.
- Under the MBD concept, the Navy now maintains a ship at every choke point in the IOR at any point of time.
- As part of expanding maritime engagement, India has stepped up cooperation with Indian Ocean littoral states and maritime neighbours.
- Under the “Neighbourhood First” policy, the Navy undertakes joint Exclusive Economic Zone surveillance with the Maldives, the Seychelles and Mauritius and coordinated patrols with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia.
- Search and rescue, capacity-building and capability-enhancement activities have also emerged as major areas.
Just 20% water left in 91 major reservoirs
Topic: GS-III: Environment
Water storage in reservoirs of most States of west and south India has dipped to less than the average of last 10 years, the Central Water Commission (CWC) said, indicating a worsening water crisis.
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- According to the Commission, “The water storage available in 91 major reservoirs of the country for the week ending on May 30, 2019, was 31.65 billion cubic meters, which is 20% of total storage capacity of these reservoirs. This percentage was at 21% for the week ending on May 23, 2019.”
- In the western region, which includes Gujarat and Maharashtra, there are 27 major reservoirs with total live storage capacity of 31.26 billion cubic metres (BCM).
- The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 3.53 BCM which is 11% of the total live storage capacity. The storage during the corresponding period last year was 15% and the average storage of the corresponding period in last 10 years was 19% of its live storage capacity.
- Private weather forecaster Skymet said last month that rainfall in Vidarbha, Marathwada, west Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat will be “poorer than normal”, while southern India is expected to receive below normal rainfall.
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