Topic 1: Tibetan Buddhism and Dalai Lama
Context: The Dalai Lama has named a US-born Mongolian boy as the tenth Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa, the head of the Janang tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and the Buddhist spiritual head of Mongolia, a report by the Times said.
- The Janang is one of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
- Its origins in Tibet can be traced to early 12th century .
- It became much wider known with the help of Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen, a monk originally trained in the Sakya school.
- The Jonang school’s main practice comes from the Kalachakra cycle.
- Buddhism became the predominant religion in Tibet by the 9th century AD.
- It evolved from the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions of Buddhism, incorporating many tantric and shamanic practices of both post-Gupta period Buddhism in India as well as the Bon religion which was spread across Tibet prior to Buddhism’s arrival.
- Tibetan Buddhism has four major schools:
- Nyingma (8th century),
- Kagyu (11th century),
- Sakya (1073), and
- Gelug (1409).
- The Janang school (12th century) is one of the smaller schools that grew as an offshoot of the Sakya school.
- Since 1640, the Gelug school has been the predominant school of Tibetan Buddhism.
- The Dalai Lama belongs to this school.
Hierarchy and Reincarnation in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition
- The cycle of birth, death and rebirth is one of Buddhism’s key beliefs.
- Tibet’s hierarchical system seemingly emerged in the 13th century.
- It was also around this time that the first instances of formally recognizing the reincarnations of lamas can be found.
- In 1417, Jé Tsongkhapa founded the Gelug school.
- The fifth grand lama of the school, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, was conferred the title of Dalai Lama (‘Dalai’ being the Mongol word for ‘ocean’).
- To consolidate his rule, he instituted the tradition of succession through reincarnation in the Gelug school.
- He himself claiming to be the reincarnation of Avalokiteshvara, one of the most important Bodhisattvas in Mahayana traditions.
- A number of procedures are followed in order to recognise Tulkus (recognised reincarnations).
- The Dalai Lama is found rather than chosen.
- Following the Buddhist belief in the principle of reincarnation, the Dalai Lama is believed by Buddhists to be able to choose the body into which he is reincarnated.
- That person, when found, will then become the next Dalai Lama.
- The predecessor himself leaves guidance regarding his reincarnation.
- The prospective child then has to undergo multiple ‘tests’.
- The Chinese occupation of Tibet and the Dalai Lama’s exile has raised significant complications in the established traditions of reincarnations in Tibetan Buddhism.
- For years, the Chinese government has attempted to discredit the Dalai Lama
- According to an order passed by the Chinese government in 2007, a reincarnation application must be filed by all Buddhist temples in that country before they are allowed to recognise individuals as tulkus.
Topic 2: IRDAI removes commission limit for agents
Context: The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has lifted limits on the payment of commissions to insurance intermediaries.
The new rules:
- IRDAI has asked insurance companies, including life and non-life, to fix an overall cap on commission to agents, brokers and other intermediaries, giving more flexibility to insurers in managing their expenses.
- This means the regulator has replaced the earlier cap on different commission payments to various types of intermediaries with an overall board-approved cap which should be within the allowed expenses.
- This rationale of the regulation is to enable and provide flexibility to the insurers, both life and general insurers, to manage their expenses within the overall limits based on their gross written premium to optimally utilize their resources for enhancing benefits to policyholders.
- Benefit to insurance companies and agents
- With the new regulations, an insurance company can pay a higher commission to an agent if the business brought in is good and claim-free.
- The liberty to give commission to an agent is left to the company.
- The new norms will:
- facilitate greater product innovation,
- development of new product distribution models and
- lead to more customer-centric operations.
- It will also increase insurance penetration and provide flexibility to insurers in managing their expenses.
- It will smoothen adherence to compliance norms.
- The proposed regulations will ensure parity across varying business models.
- What do Expenses of Management mean?
- Expenses of Management (EOM) include:
- all expenses in the nature of operating expenses of general or health Insurance business and
- commission to the insurance agents or insurance intermediaries.
- It also includes commission and expenses on reinsurance inward, which are charged to the revenue account.
- Expenses of Management (EOM) include:
Who are insurance intermediaries?
- Insurance intermediaries include:
- corporate agents,
- insurance brokers,
- web aggregators,
- insurance marketing firms and
- a common public service centre
|What is IRDAI? The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) is an autonomous and statutory body which is responsible for managing and regulating insurance and re-insurance industry in India.Irdai is a 10-member body-a chairman,five full-time members andfour part-time members.It was constituted under an Act of Parliament in 1999.Headquarters: Hyderabad.Role:It has to protect the interests of insurance policy holders and ensure that they are treated in a just manner.It also has to monitor policy issuers to ensure that the common man’s interests are not subverted.|
Topic 3: Exercise Afindex-23
Context: India- Africa Joint Military Exercise ‘Afindex-23’ Concluded At Foreign Training Node, Aundh, Pune
- This was the 2nd edition of joint military exercise “The Africa-India Field Training Exercise (AFINDEX-2023)”.
- A total of 25 nations of the African continent and Indian troops from the SIKH, MARATHA and MAHAR Regiments participated in the multinational exercise.
- Aim of the exercise was to build positive military relations, imbibe each other’s best practices and promote the ability to operate together while undertaking execution of Humanitarian Mine Action and Peace Keeping Operations under the UN mandate.
Topic 4: New India Literacy Programme
Context: New India Literacy Programme launched to cover a target of 5.00 crore non-literates in the age group of 15 years and above
What is the New India Literacy Programme?
- It is a centrally sponsored scheme.
- The government plans to implement during five years from 2022-23 to 2026-27.
- To provide educational aids to five crore students during the five years under the Foundational Literacy and Numeracy component.
- To cover non-literates of the age of 15 years and above in all State and Union Territories across the country
- The programme has five objectives including:
- Foundational Literacy and Numeracy,
- Critical Life Skills,
- Vocational Skills Development,
- Basic Education and
- Continuing Education.
- Funding Pattern:
- The Central and State allocations of the total fund are in the ratio of 60:40 for all states except North Eastern Region (NER) and Himalayan States for which the shared ratio is 90:10.
- For Union Territoris (UTs) with legislature the ratio is 60:40, except in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir where the ratio is 90:10.
- For all other UTs without legislature the Central share is 100%.
- The fund flow will take place through the public financial management system (PFMS) and State treasuries.
- UGC guidelines for implementation of NILP
- The apex education body urges all universities with departments of Adult Education to implement mandatory teaching of at least five or above non-literates by students in every academic year in their course work as a project or assignment for completion of their degree.
- UGC affiliated institutions may include certain credits for the activity, which can be certified under ‘literate certificates’.
- The central government’s New India Literacy Programme will only work if the students, educators and stakeholders involved are properly guided.
- They recalled that similar initiatives launched earlier have failed to drawbacks in implementation.
- Since the students are also learning, the teachers must ensure that they properly imbibe teaching skills to be able to deliver results.
- The project is huge and needs large-scale involvement from society to ensure people are committed to achieving the goals.
Topic 5: India’s solar PV waste problem
Context: Waste management in the solar photovoltaic (PV) sector still lacks clear directives.
What is PV waste?
- Globally, India has the world’s fourth highest solar PV deployment.
- The installed solar capacity was nearly 62GW in 2022.
- 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.
- What it consist of?
- 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.
Challenges for India
- 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.
- Specific guidelines under e-waste guidelines:
- Simply 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.
- A regulatory body:
- A Central insurance or a regulatory body should be set up to protect against financial losses incurred in waste collection and treatment.
- Awareness drives:
- 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.
- Focus on research and development:
- Considering that India’s local solar PV-panel manufacturing is limited, we 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.
- 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.
Topic 6: National Investigation Agency
Context: Keeping in view the zero tolerance policy against terrorism, the Central Government regularly reviews administrative and legal requirements of National Investigation Agency (NIA).
What is the NIA?
- The agency came into existence in 2008 in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.
- It is a central agency mandated to investigate all the offences affecting:
- the sovereignty, security and integrity of India,
- friendly relations with foreign states, and
- the offences under the statutory laws enacted to implement international treaties, agreements, conventions and resolutions of the United Nations, its agencies and other international organisations.
- These include terror acts and their possible links with crimes like smuggling of arms, drugs and fake Indian currency and infiltration from across the borders.
- The agency has the power to search, seize, arrest and prosecute those involved in such offences.
- Headquarters: Delhi.
What are the scheduled offences?
- The list includes:
- the Explosive Substances Act,
- Atomic Energy Act,
- Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,
- Anti-Hijacking Act,
- Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Civil Aviation Act,
- SAARC Convention (Suppression of Terrorism) Act,
- Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act,
- Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act and
- relevant offences under the Indian Penal Code, Arms Act and the Information Technology Act.
- In 2020, the Centre empowered the NIA to also probe offences under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act that are connected to terror cases.
Jurisdiction of NIA:
- The law under which the agency operates extends to:
- the whole of India
- to Indian citizens outside the country;
- persons in the service of the government wherever they are posted;
- persons on ships and aircraft registered in India wherever they may be;
- persons who commit a scheduled offence beyond India against the Indian citizen or affecting the interest of India.
How does the NIA take up a probe?
- The State governments can refer the cases pertaining to the scheduled offences registered at any police station to the Central government (Union Home Ministry) for NIA investigation.
- The Centre can then direct the agency to take over the case.
- State governments are required to extend all assistance to the NIA.
- Even the Central government may, suo motu, direct the agency to take up/over the probe.
- Where the Central government finds that a scheduled offence has been committed at any place outside India to which this Act extends, it can also direct the NIA to register the case and take up investigation.
- While investigating any scheduled offence, the agency can also investigate any other offence which the accused is alleged to have committed if the offence is connected to the scheduled offence.
Topic 7: Vibrant Villages Programme
Context: The Government has approved Vibrant Villages Programme (VVP) recently.
- It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
- Comprehensive development of villages of blocks on the northern border to improve the quality of life of people living in identified border villages.
- Development of essential infrastructure and creation of livelihood opportunities
- Time period:
- It is approved for the Financial Years 2022-23 to 2025-26 with a financial allocation of Rs. 4800 Crore.
- Identification and development of economic drivers in border villages:
- The scheme aims to identify and develop the economic drivers based on local natural, human, and other resources of the border villages.
- It also seeks to develop growth centers on the “Hub and Spoke Model” through:
- the promotion of social entrepreneurship,
- the empowerment of youth and women through skill development and entrepreneurship,
- leveraging the tourism potential, and
- the development of sustainable eco-agribusinesses.
- Vibrant Village Action Plans
- Vibrant Village Action Plans will be created by the district administration with the help of Gram Panchayats.
- The scheme aims to ensure 100% saturation of central and state schemes, with a focus on providing:
- connectivity with all-weather roads,
- drinking water,
- 24×7 electricity, and
- mobile and internet connectivity.
- No overlap with Border Area Development Programme
- The Vibrant Villages Programme will not overlap with the Border Area Development Programme.
- The Border Area Development Programme (BADP) is an initiative of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) introduced in 1993-94.
- The main objective of the BADP is to meet the special developmental needs of the people living in remote and inaccessible areas situated near the international border and to saturate the border areas with essential infrastructure through convergence of Central/State/ BADP/Local schemes.
Topic 8: Project Akashteer, Sarang system and GSAT 7B
Context: The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has signed three contracts recently.
- The first contract with Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) pertains to the procurement of the Automated Air Defence Control & Reporting System ‘Project Akashteer’ for the Indian Army.
- The second contract with BEL relates to the acquisition of Sarang Electronic Support Measure (ESM) systems.
- The contract with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), a Central Public Sector Enterprise under the Department of Space, pertains to the procurement of an advanced Communication Satellite, GSAT 7B, which will provide high throughput services to the Indian Army.
- Indian Army’s Air Defence Control and Reporting System (Akash Teer) is being designed and manufactured by Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL).
- Akash Teer will integrate the Indian Army’s sensors, and weapon systems.
- It will form a seamless master network, which will fully integrate the full spectrum of air operations by any of the forces.
- 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 the Indian Army and effectively control the Ground Based Air Defence Weapon Systems.
- Sarang is an advanced Electronic Support Measure system for helicopters of the Indian Navy.
- It is designed and developed indigenously by the Defence Electronics Research Laboratory, Hyderabad under the programme Samudrika.
Advanced Communication Satellite
- The satellite will considerably enhance the communication beyond-line-of-sight communication capability of the Indian Army by providing mission-critical to troops and formations as well as weapon and airborne platforms.
- The geostationary satellite, being a first-of-its-kind in the five-tonne category, will be developed indigenously by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
Topic 9: Ther Great Nicobar project
Context: The Union government will not allow the displacement of tribespeople to make way for the ₹72,000-crore Great Nicobar island project, the Tribal Affairs Ministry told the Rajya Sabha.
About the project:
- The project, being implemented by the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation (ANIIDCO), includes:
- International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT)
- The proposed port will handle 14.2 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) of cargo capacity.
- It will allow Great Nicobar to participate in the regional and global maritime economy by becoming a major player in cargo transshipment.
- Greenfield International Airport
- The proposed Great Nicobar Island International Airport (GNIIA) will be developed as an international airport in Great Nicobar Islands.
- The airstrip will be developed to cater for operation of Airbus A-380 type of aircraft, in all weather conditions.
- The airport would be developed as a “joint military-civil, dual-use airport”, under the operational control of the Indian Navy and will cater to tourism as well.
- The Township project consists of a mixed-use development area that will link the infrastructure facilities to complete the physical framework of the new city.
- It will be made up of commercial, industrial and residential zones, but a major chunk of the land will be set apart for different types of tourism projects and activities.
- The project proposes the development of a power plant near the ICTT, with capacity to produce sufficient electrical power to run the new city.
- The power generation plan for the project envisages solar plants, gas based plants and some diesel generating stations in initial days.
- Diesel gensets shall be used in initial phase of development.
- About 10 per cent is planned through solar panels and the balance shall be gas based.
- In November 2022, the project had received Stage 1 clearance from the Union Environment and Forest Ministry to divert 130.75 sq.km. of forest land for the purpose.
- The port will be controlled by the Indian Navy.
- The airport will have dual military-civilian functions and will cater to tourism as well.
- Roads, public transport, water supply and waste management facilities, and several hotels have been planned to cater to tourists.
- A total 166.1 sq km along the southeastern and southern coasts of the island have been identified for project along a coastal strip of width between 2 km and 4 km.
- Some 130 sq km of forests have been sanctioned for diversion, and 9.64 lakh trees are likely to be felled.
- International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT)
- The project is to be implemented in phases over the next 30 years.
- The first phase would extend to 2036 (from 2021), and the second phase would stretch from 2037 to 2051, but the container terminal would become operational around 2027-28.
Need of the project:
- The island has a lot of tourism potential, but the government’s greater goal is to leverage the locational advantage of the island for economic and strategic reasons.
- Great Nicobar is equidistant from Colombo to the southwest and Port Klang and Singapore to the southeast, and positioned close to the East-West international shipping corridor, through which a very large part of the world’s shipping trade passes.
- The proposed ICTT can potentially become a hub for cargo ships travelling on this route.
- Loss of biodiversity:
- The proposed massive infrastructure development comes under an ecologically important and fragile region.
- The loss of tree cover will not only affect the flora and fauna on the island, it will also lead to increased runoff and sediment deposits in the ocean, impacting the coral reefs in the area.
- Coral reefs, already under threat from warming oceans, are of enormous ecological importance.
- Environmentalists have also flagged the loss of mangroves on the island as a result of the development project.
About the Island
- Great Nicobar, the southernmost of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, has an area of 910 sq km.
- The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a cluster of about 836 islands in the eastern Bay of Bengal, the two groups of which are separated by the 150-km wide Ten Degree Channel.
- The Andaman Islands lie to the north of the channel, and the Nicobar Islands to the south.
- Indira Point on the southern tip of Great Nicobar Island is India’s southernmost point.
- Great Nicobar is home to two national parks, a biosphere reserve, and the Shompen and Nicobarese tribal peoples, along with ex-servicemen from Punjab, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh who were settled on the island in the 1970s.
- The Shompen are hunter-gatherers who depend on forest and marine resources for sustenance.
- The Nicobarese, who lived along the west coast of the island were mostly relocated after the 2004 tsunami.
- The Great Nicobar Island has tropical wet evergreen forests.
- The leatherback sea turtle is the island’s flagship species.