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Current Affairs – 28 July 2021

Current Affairs (28th July 2021)

UNESCO heritage site Dholavira

Context:

  • Dholavira, the archaeological site of a Harappan-era city, received the UNESCO world heritage site tag.
  • Dholavira became the fourth site from Gujarat and 40th from India to make the list, it is the first site of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) in India to get the tag.

Dholavira site:

  • The IVC acropolis is located on a hillock near present-day Dholavira village in Kutch district, from which it gets its name.
  • It was discovered in 1968 by archaeologist Jagat Pati Joshi.
  • The site’s excavation between 1990 and 2005 under the supervision of archaeologist Ravindra Singh Bisht uncovered the ancient city, which was a commercial and manufacturing hub for about 1,500 years before its decline and eventual ruin in 1500 BCE.

Distinct features:

  • After Mohen-jo-Daro, Ganweriwala and Harappa in Pakistan and Rakhigarhi in Haryana of India, Dholavira is the fifth largest metropolis of IVC.
  • The site has a fortified citadel, a middle town and a lower town with walls made of sandstone or limestone instead of mud bricks in many other Harappan sites.
  • Archaeologist Bisht cites a cascading series of water reservoirs, outer fortification, two multi-purpose grounds — one of which was used for festivities and as a marketplace — nine gates with unique designs, and funerary architecture featuring tumulus — hemispherical structures like the Buddhist Stupas— as some of the unique features of the Dholavira site.
  • One also finds the origin of the Buddhist Stupas in memorials in Dholavira.
  • While unlike graves at other IVC sites, no mortal remains of humans have been discovered at Dholavira.
  • Bisht says memorials that contain no bones or ashes but offerings of precious stones, etc. add a new dimension to the personality of the Harappans.

Rise and fall of Dholavira

  • Remains of a copper smelter indicate of Harappans, who lived in Dholavira, knew metallurgy. It is believed that traders of Dholavira used to source copper ore from present-day Rajasthan and Oman and UAE and export finished products.
  • It was also a hub of manufacturing jewellery made of shells and semi-precious stones, like agate and used to export timber.
  • Such beads peculiar to the Harappan workmanship have been found in the royal graves of Mesopotamia, indicating Dholavira used to trade with the Mesopotamians.
  • Its decline also coincided with the collapse of Mesopotamia, indicating the integration of economies.
  • Harappans, who were maritime people, lost a huge market, affecting the local mining, manufacturing, marketing and export businesses once Mesopotamia fell.
  • From 2000 BCE, Dholavira entered a phase of severe aridity due to climate change and rivers like Saraswati drying up.
  • Because of a drought-like situation, people started migrating toward the Ganges valley or towards south Gujarat and further beyond in Maharashtra.
  • In those times, the Great Rann of Kutch, which surrounds the Khadir island on which Dholavira is located, used to be navigable, but the sea receded gradually and the Rann became a mudflat.

Other Harappan sites in Gujarat:

  • Before Dholavira was excavated, Lothal, in Saragwala village on the bank of Sabarmati in Dholka taluka of Ahmedabad district, was the most prominent site of IVC in Gujarat.
  • It was excavated between 1955 and 1960 and was discovered to be an important port city of the ancient civilisation, with structures made of mud bricks.
  • From a graveyard in Lothal, 21 human skeletons were found. Foundries for making copperware were also discovered. Ornaments made of semi-precious stones, gold etc. were also found from the site.
  • Besides Lothal, Rangpur on the bank of Bhadar river in Surendranagar district was the first Harappan site in the state to be excavated.
  • Rojdi in Rajkot district, Prabhas near Veraval in Gir Somnath district, Lakhabaval in Jamnagar, and Deshalpar in Bhuj taluka of Kutch are among other Harappan sites in the state.

Conservation:

  • Though it was excavated recently, the Dholavira site has remained free from encroachment in historical periods as well as in the modern era.
  • In its release, UNESCO termed Dholavira as one of the most remarkable and well-preserved urban settlements in South Asia dating from the 3rd to mid-2nd millennium
  • Since the excavation at the site, the ASI has developed a museum
  • Dholavira, a village with a population of around 2,000, is the nearest human settlement at present. Near the ancient city is a fossil park where wood fossils are preserved.

 

Making Water Sensitive Cities in Ganga Basin

Context:

  • A new capacity building initiative on ‘Making water sensitive cities in Ganga basin’ aimed at improving river health/flows was launched by National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in association with Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

About:

  • Key focus areas of the programme will be Water Sensitive Urban Design and Planning, Urban Water Efficiency and Conservation, Decentralized Wastewater Treatment and Local Reuse, Urban Groundwater Management and Urban Waterbodies / Lake Management.
  • Aim of the program is capacity building and action research for promoting sustainable urban water management for improved river health in Ganga basin cities.
  • Water Sensitive Urban Design and Planning (WSUDP) is an emerging urban development paradigm aimed to minimize hydrological impacts of urban development on environment.
  • This includes the method of planning and designing urban areas for optimum utilization of water (a precious resource), reduce the harm caused to our rivers and creeks and focuses on entire management of entire water systems (drinking water, storm water run-off, waterway health, sewerage treatment and re-cycling).

Implementation:

  • Under this initiative there will be more than 40 training programs supported with development of learning material/ practitioner’s guides and spread over a period of 3 years. This will include residential trainings, online trainings, field visits and webinars
  • Initially, the project will be implemented in 3-4 pilot cities in the Ganga basin. Technical support will be provided to urban local bodies (ULBs).This is the first of its kind capacity building program.
  • The program will engage all the stakeholders which includes, SPMGs (State Program Management Group, NamamiGange), Municipal corporations, Technical & research constants, international organizations and local grassroot communities.
  • This initiative is part of the series of ongoing efforts by NMCG aimed to ensuring convergence of the NamamiGange Mission with national flagship urban missions (AMRUT, Smart Cities, Swachh Bharat Mission, HRIDAY, NULM) and other missions (Atal Bhujal Yojana, Jal Jeevan Mission, Jal Shakti Abhiyan) at state /city level across Ganga basin states.

 

2021 Investment Climate Statements: India

Context:

  • Recently, the State Department of the United States of America (USA) has released the report ‘2021 Investment Climate Statements: India’, highlighting that India is a challenging place to do business.

About:

  • The USA Department of State’s Investment Climate Statements provide country-specific information on the business climates of more than 170 countries and economies.
  • They are prepared by economic officers stationed in embassies and posts around the world and analyze a variety of economies that are or could be markets for USA businesses of all sizes.
  • These Statements address market conditions, including issues critical to maintaining high standards, such as labor protections, environmental considerations, and responsible business conduct.
    • Topics Included: Openness to Investment, Legal and Regulatory Systems, Protection of Real and Intellectual Property Rights, Financial Sector, State-Owned Enterprises, Responsible Business Conduct and Corruption.
  • The reports highlight those areas in which countries have improved local investment conditions, as well as remaining barriers that may hinder opportunities for USA companies.

Major Highlights:

  • It noted that the Indian government continued to actively court foreign investment.
  • India enacted ambitious structural economic reforms, including new labor codes and landmark agricultural sector reforms, that should help attract private and foreign direct investment.
  • In February 2021, the Finance Minister announced plans to raise USD 2.4 billion through an ambitious privatisation programme that would dramatically reduce the government’s role in the economy.
  • In March 2021, the Parliament further liberalised India’s insurance sector, increasing the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) limits to 74 per cent from 49 per cent, though still requiring most of the Board of Directors and management personnel to be Indian nationals.
  • In response to the economic challenges created by COVID-19 and the resulting national lockdown, the Government of India enacted extensive social welfare and economic stimulus programmes and increased spending on infrastructure and public health.
  • The government also adopted Production Linked Incentives to promote manufacturing in pharmaceuticals, automobiles, textiles, electronics, and other sectors.
  • These measures helped India recover from an approximately eight per cent fall in GDP between April 2020 and March 2021, with positive growth returning by January 2021.
  • However, India remains a challenging place to do business.
    • New protectionist measures, including increased tariffsprocurement rules that limit competitive choices, sanitary and phytosanitary measures not based on science, and Indian-specific standards not aligned with international standards, effectively closed off producers from global supply chains and restricted the expansion in bilateral trade.
    • Some government policies are written in a way that can be discriminatory to foreign investors or favor domestic industry.
      • For example, approval in 2021 for higher FDI thresholds in the insurance sector came with a requirement of “Indian management and control”.
  • The USA has requested India to foster an attractive and reliable investment climate by reducing barriers to investment and minimising the bureaucratic hurdles.
    • welcoming investment climate can help attract high quality, durable investment and support global recovery from the COVID-19.
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