ASI identifies rare Indian artefacts seized from smuggler
Topic : GS Paper – I Art and Cilture
From idols dating back to the Gupta period (5th-6th Century AD) to terracotta objects of the Harappan culture, a range of Indian antiquities and artefacts that were smuggled have been identified by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) during a team’s recent visit to the United States.
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- The ASI said a team of two officials visited the U.S. after receiving communication from the office of the Consulate General of India in New York about the seizure of artifacts by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement of U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- The ASI said the team identified close to 100 objects in total, including 17 objects that had been seized by the Department.
- The antiquities comprise beautiful bronzes from the Suttamalli and Sripurantan temples of Tamil Nadu and also a very significant image of Mahakoka Devata.
- Of these, four antiquities were stolen from protected monuments at Karitalai, district Katni in Madhya Pradesh.
- Also smuggled were the stone image of the Buddha of Mathura School, a terracotta image of the Buddha belonging to the Gupta period and a set of 10 copper plates engraved with Quranic verses of the late Mughal Period.
Theft of Artifacts & Antiquities:
- According to Global Financial Integrity, a Washington-based advocacy group, illegal trade in paintings, sculptures, and other artifacts is one of the world’s most lucrative criminal enterprises, estimated at $6 billion a year.
- And India, with its cultural heritage, bureaucratic apathy, and tardy implementation of antiquities protection laws, offers smugglers fertile ground to plunder the past and spirit away artefacts for sale in the international market.
- This exploitation continues unabated despite the existence of The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972 whose aim is to protect “antiquities,” an omnibus term that includes, among other items, sculptures in stone, shrines, terracotta, metals, jewelry, ivory, paintings in paper, wood, cloth, skin, and manuscripts over a hundred years old.
- Even though India is a signatory to the 1970 UNESCO treaty, experts say it is extremely tough to retrieve antiquities that have left the country.
- Improper enforcement of law, and lack of punitive action on traders without licences.
Antiquities and Art Treasure Act 1972:
- The Antiquities Act mandates that owners of such art pieces register them with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the nodal agency responsible for archaeological excavations, conservation of monuments, and protection of heritage sites.
- The law also prohibits export of antiquities while permitting their sale within the country only under a license.
- Failure to comply with these rules can result in jail sentences of up to three years, a fine, or both.
- In what is seen as a blatantly unfair clause, the Act also empowers the State to compulsorily acquire an art object from its owner without any reliable assessment of a fair price.
Other legal provisions available in India:
- Antiquities And Art Treasures Act 1972
- Indian Treasure Trove Act 1949
- National Mission On Monuments And Antiquities– it creates a National Register On Artifacts that are unprotected
- National Manuscript Missionfor Documenting Heritage
Archaeological Survey of India:
- The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), is an attached office under the Department of Culture, Ministry of Tourism and Culture.
- It is the premier organization for the archaeological researches and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation.
- It was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham who also became its first Director-General.
- The most important of the society’s achievements was the decipherment of the Brahmi script by James Prinsep in 1837. This successful decipherment inaugurated the study of Indian palaeography
WHO for eliminating industrially produced trans fats by 2023
Topic : GS Paper – II Health
The WHO has welcomed its partnership with the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA) to achieve the target of eliminating industrially produced trans fats by 2023.
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- Trans fat, also called the worst form of fat in food, responsible for over 5,00,000 deaths globally from coronary heart disease each year.
- The WHO says that eliminating industrially produced trans-fat is one of the simplest and most effective ways to save lives and create a healthier food supply.
- WHO met with IFBA to discuss actions to eliminate industrial trans fats, and reduce salt, sugar and saturated fats in processed foods.
- The meeting also stressed the value of regulatory action on labelling, marketing and urged industry for full adherence to the WHO code of marketing of breast milk substitutes.
- The commitment made by the IFBA is in line with the WHO’s target to eliminate industrial trans fat from the global food supply by 2023.
- It is decided by IFBA to ensure that the amount of industrial trans fat in their products does not exceed 2 gram per 100 g fat/oil globally by 2023.
Relevance to India:
India has among the highest number of coronary heart disease cases in the world and must try to beat the deadline.
- Trans fats are the most harmful type of fats which can have much more adverse effects on our body than any other dietary constituent.
- These fats are largely produced artificially but a small amount also occurs naturally.
- Artificial TFAs are formed when hydrogen is made to react with the oil to produce fats resembling pure ghee/butter.
- The major sources of artificial TFAs are the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVO)/vanaspati/ margarine.
- It poses a higher risk of heart disease than saturated fats. Saturated fats raise total cholesterol levels; TFAs not only raise total cholesterol levels but also reduce the good cholesterol (HDL).
India’s newest pit viper found in Arunachal
Topic : GS Paper – III Environment and Ecology
India now has a fifth brown pit viper but with a reddish tinge.
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- Arunachal pit viper (Trimeresurus arunachalensis) is the second serpent to have been discovered after the non-venomous crying keelback in the State’s Lepa-Rada district in 2018.
- A team of herpetologists led by Ashok Captain have described a new species of reddish-brown pit viper — a venomous snake with a unique heat-sensing system — from a forest in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh.
- The other four — Malabar, horseshoe, hump-nosed and Himalayan — were discovered 70 years ago.
- The new species also makes Arunachal Pradesh the only Indian state to have a pit viper named after it.
- Comparative analyses of DNA sequences and examination of morphological features suggested that the snake belonged to a species not described before.
- The single known specimen of this species makes it currently the rarest pit viper in the world.
Prelims Fact :
- Tiwaalso known as Lalung is indigenous Tibeto-Burman race community inhabiting the states of Assam and Meghalaya and also found in some parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur in Northeast India.
- They are recognized as a Scheduled tribe within the State of Assam.
- They were known as Lalungsin the Assamese Buranjis, Colonial literatureand in the Constitution of India, though members of the group prefer to call themselves Tiwa (meaning “the people who were lifted from below”), some of their neighbors still call them Lalung.
- A striking peculiarity of the Tiwa is their division into two sub-groups, Hill Tiwa and Plains Tiwas, displaying contrasting cultural features.
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