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Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)

Why in news?

ASI identifies Indian artefacts seized from smuggler.

About the news

  • The antiquities comprise beautiful bronzes from the Suttamalli and Sripurantan temples of Tamil Nadu and also a very significant image of Mahakoka Devata.

About ASI

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is the premier organization for the archaeological researches and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation.
  • It comes under the Ministry of Culture.
  • It was set up in 1861 with the primary object of surveying antiquarian remains in this country and their study.

Duties

  • Maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance is the
 
  • prime concern of the ASI.
  • It regulate all archaeological activities in the country as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
  • It also regulates Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.
  • For the maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance the entire country is divided into 24 Circles.
  • ASI is the successor of the Asiatic Society of India.
  • It was founded in its current form in 1861 by Sir Alexander Cunningham.

World Affairs

Arctic council

Why in news?

India has been re-elected as an observer to intergovernmental forum Arctic Council.

About Arctic Council

  • The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues.
  • The Arctic Council formed with the signing of the Ottawa Declaration on 19 September 1996 in Ottawa, Canada.
  • The Ottawa Declarationstates that only those countries that are located in the Arctic region are eligible for membership.
  • They are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.(Nordic countries + US, Canada, Russia)

Participants of the Arctic Council 

  • Governments of the eight member states.
  • The Permanent Participants (PPS).(6 organizations to represent Arctic indigenous peoples)
  • Working Groups (6).

Observer status in the Arctic Council is open to

  • Non-arctic states
  • Inter-governmental and inter-parliamentary organizations, global and regional
  • Non-governmental organizations

More about Arctic Council

  • The Chairmanship of the Arctic Council rotates every two years among the Arctic States.
  • The Arctic Council has no programming budget.
  • The Arctic Council does not and cannot implement or enforce its guidelines, assessments or recommendations.
  • The Arctic Council’s mandate explicitly excludes military security.

Indian and Arctic Council

  • India received the permanent observer status in Arctic Council at Kiruna Ministerial Meeting in 2013.
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

Why in news?

Total world military expenditure rose to $1,822 billion in 2018, representing an increase of 2.6% from 2017

 

, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

About the news

  • The five biggest spenders in 2018 were the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, India and France.
  • They together accounted for 60% of global military spending.
  • World military spending in 2018 represented 2.1% of global gross domestic product (GDP) or $239 per person.

About SIPRI

  • SIPRI is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.
  • It was established in 1966.
  • SIPRI provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public.
  • Based in Stockholm, Sweden, SIPRI is regularly ranked among the most respected think tanks worldwide.

SIPRI Arms Transfers Database

  • The SIPRI Arms Transfers Database contains information on all international transfers of major weapons (including sales, gifts and production licences) to states, international organizations and armed non-state groups from 1950 to the most recent full calendar year, 2017.
  • SIPRI data reflects the volume of deliveries of arms, not the financial value of the deals.
  • As the volume of deliveries can fluctuate significantly year-on-year, SIPRI presents data for 5-year periods, giving a more stable measure of trends.
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)

Why in news?

Iran will reduce some of its commitments to the nuclear deal in response to the United States’ decision to withdraw from the 2015 multilateral deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

About JCPOA

  • It is an agreement on the nuclear programme of Iran reached in Vienna on 14thJuly 2015 between Iran , the P5+1( the five permanent members of UN security council, ie, USA, UK, France, Russia, China, ) plus Germany and the European Union.
  • It is commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.
  • Under the agreement
  • Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium enriched Uranium.
  • Iran agreed to cut its stockpile of low enriched Uranium by 98%.
  • Iran agreed to reduce by about 2/3rdthe number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years.
  • Iran also agreed not to build any new heavy water facilities for the next 15 years.
  • For the next 15 years, Iran will only enrich Uranium up to 3.67%.
  • Uranium enrichment activities will be limited to a single facility using first generation centrifuges for 10
 
  • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will have regular access to all Iranian nuclear facilities.
  • In return, Iran will receive relief from US, EU, and UN Security Council nuclear related economic sanctions.

Why US withdrew from JCPOA?

  • The JCPOA was never popular with the conservative sections of the Washington establishment, nor with the US’s key allies in West Asia: Israel and Saudi Arabia.
  • The deal infact strengthened Iran and placed it in a better position to continue it’s purported “subversive tactics” in the region, like the support given to the Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen, Hisbollah in Lebanon and the Assad regime in Syria.
  • The 30% rise in Iran’s defence spend in 2016, immediately after the deal, is an indicator of it’s aggressive behaviour.
  • Iran’s Forward Defence Doctrine was another thorn in the eyes of the US and her allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel.
  • Trump unilaterally withdrew US from the deal and followed it up by reviving the US sanctions which were lifted as part of the deal in 2015 by Barack Obama.

Current Affair Capsules

Basavanna
  • Lingayats across the globe celebrate the birth anniversary of Hindu Kannada poet of the 12th century, Basavanna.
  • He is believed to be the founding saint of the Lingayat community that worships Shiva as the only deity.

Map Aided Programme

Bangaram island

Why in news?

  • It has recently been in news in association with the entry of certain foreign yachts without the permission of Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) under the Ministry of Finance.
  • About Bangaram Island:
  • Bangaram is an atoll in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep.
  • Bangaram is part of the Laccadive subgroup of islands in the Lakshadweep.
  • About island subgroups of Lakshadweep:
  • Lakshadweep islands are divided into 3 subgroups:
  • Laccadive islands or cannanore islands includes the island of Agatti, with Agatti Aerodrome, Bangaram, Pitti, Androth, Kavaratti, Kalpeni and Suheli.
  • Amindivi subgroup includes Amini, Kadmat, Kiltan, Bitra, Chetlat etc.
  • Minicoy is the southernmost atoll of Lakshadweep archipelago.
  • Minicoy is separated from rest of the Lakshadweep by Nine Degree Channel
  • whereas Lakshadweep is separated from Maldives by Eight Degree Channel

Previous Year Questions Revision Series (Pqrs)-(2013)

  1. In India, cluster bean (Guar) is traditionally used as a vegetable or animal feed, but recently the cultivation of this has assumed significance. Which one of the following statements is correct in this context?

(a) The oil extracted from seeds is used in the manufacture of biodegradable plastics

(b) The gum made from its seeds is used in the extraction of shale gas

(c) The leaf extract of this plant has the properties of anti-histamines

(d) It is a source of high quality biodiesel