Current Affairs (30th July 2021)
- A fort in Jaipur is at the centre of a conflict between the tribal Meena community and local Hindu groups.
What is the dispute?
- Both sides have filed police cases and are running social media campaigns to assemble at the fort and show their strength.
- Members of the Meena community say the Amagarh Fort was built by a Meena ruler predating Rajput rule in Jaipur, and has been their holy site for centuries.
- In June, following reports of idols being vandalised and hoisting of a saffron flag at the fort, Meena community members accused Hindu groups of trying to appropriate tribal symbols into the Hindutva fold, and of changing the name of Amba Mata to Ambika Bhawani.
What is the history of the fort?
- According to historian Rima Hooja, the present form of the Amagarh Fort was given in the 18th century by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, founder of Jaipur.
- It has always been believed that there was some construction at the place before Jai Singh II built the fort.
- Prior to Rajput rule by the Kachhwaha dynasty, Jaipur and its nearby regions were ruled by Meenas, who had political control.
- According to another scholar Dr. Heera Meena, the fort was built by a Meena Sardar from the Nadla gotra, now known as Badgoti Meenas. Sardars from the Meena community ruled large parts of Rajasthan till around 1100 CE.
- Amba Mata is different from Ambika Bhawani. Like other tribal groups, Meenas too worship ancestors.
- Amba Mata was such an ancestor, a living person and not a god. Amba Mata is not related to Ambika Bhawani or Durga. An effort is being made by Hindu organisations to appropriate Amba Mata as Ambika Bhawani.
Meena community in Rajasthan:
- The community has substantial clout. Of the 25 Assembly seats (out of 200) reserved for Scheduled Tribes, most are represented by Meena MLAs. The community is also well represented in the bureaucracy.
- According to Census 2011, STs constitute 13.48% of the state’s population. Due to a scattered population across the state, the community can influence election outcomes in unreserved seats, too.
- The National Gallery of Australia(NGA) announced it would return 14 works of art from its Asian art collection to India.
- The works being returned are:
- Child-saint Sambandar,
- Dancing child-saint Sambandar of 12th century belonging to Chola dynasty, Processional standard [‘alam], from Hyderabad,
- Arch for a Jain shrine, 11th-12th century,
- Seated Jina, 1163 CE from Mount Abu region, Rajasthan,
- The divine couple Lakshmi and Vishnu [Lakshmi Narayana] 11-12th century,
- Durga Mahisasuramardini, from Gujarat.
- The decision to return the works is the culmination of years of research, due diligence, and an evolving framework for decision-making that includes both legal principles and ethical considerations.
- As the first outcome of this change, the Gallery will be returning 14 objects from the Indian art collection to their country of origin.
- This is the right thing to do, it’s culturally responsible, and the result of collaboration between Australia and India.
- Gallery would continue its provenance research, including for the Asian art collection, and resolve the status of any works of concern.
- Status of Leopards, Co-predators and Megaherbivores-2018 was recently released by Union Minister for Environment, Forest, and Climate Change.
- According to it, India’s official leopard count increased 63 per cent from 2014-2018.
- Number of leopards in tiger range states of India in 2018. There were 12,852 leopards in the country at that time. This was an increase from the 7,910 leopards counted in 2014.
- 14 tiger reserves had received the accreditation of the Global Conservation Assured|Tiger Standards (CA|TS), an accreditation tool agreed upon by tiger range countries.
- CA|TS is a set of criteria which allows tiger sites to check if their management will lead to successful tiger conservation. It was officially launched in 2013.
- The reserves accredited under CA|TS are:
- Manas, Kaziranga and Orang in Assam
- Satpura, Kanha and Panna in Madhya Pradesh
- Pench in Maharashtra
- Valmiki Tiger Reserve in Bihar
- Dudhwa in Uttar Pradesh
- Sunderbans in West Bengal
- Parambikulam in Kerala,
- Bandipur Tiger Reserve of Karnataka
- Mudumalai and Anamalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu
Sutlej river pollution
- Pollution in river Sutlej — that runs through a 65-kilometre-long stretch across Punjab and Rajasthan — has posed serious health threats to the people living around the Indira Gandhi Canal.
- The Indira Gandhi Canal is the longest canal in the country: It provides water to 1.75 crore people living in 7,500 villages across eight districts in the state.
- It starts from Harike Barrage, a few kilometres below the confluence of the Satluj and Beas rivers in Punjab, flows through Ludhiana and terminates in the Thar Desert in northwest Rajasthan.
- A petition was filed before the NGT saying: “The water in the Indira Gandhi canal has apparently turned black due to the presence of pollutants in it”.
- The petitioner requested the green tribunal to issue directions against the two states to curb the inflow of industrial waste and sewage water into the Sutlej and Beas river and Rajasthan Feeder Canal, as well as take appropriate steps to check, manage and control the effluents being thrown into the rivers.
- The National Green Tribunal recently directed the Punjab and Rajasthan governments to submit quarterly compliance reports to the secretary, central monitoring committee, Union Ministry of Jal Shakti (water resources), about the remedial action being taken to curb the inflow of effluent discharge into the Satluj and Beas.
Source of Pollution:
- The canal is a source of drinking and irrigation in the north and western Rajasthan.
- The pollution has caused several health complications among people such as skin diseases, gastroenteritis, indigestion and loss of eyesight.
- One of the reasons for the pollution is Buddha nallah, a tributary of the Sutlej. According to a Punjab government report, the Sutlej carries Class B water (moderate water pollution) before confluence of Buddha Nullah, but soon turns to Class E water (high degree of pollution making it unfit for any human or irrigation use) after the confluence of the nullah downstream of Ludhiana.
- Traces of chromium and arsenic can be found in the Sutlej after confluence of Buddha Nullah.
- Buddha Nullah and East Bein (a rivulet in Doaba in Punjab) are major point sources discharging treated / untreated wastewater into the Sutlej.
- Small-scale industries like units on electroplating, hosiery, steel rolling mills, etc mainly contribute to the wastewater in the nullah.
- The “WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic 2021: Addressing new and emerging products,” presented data on e-cigarettes and other ENDS for the first time.
- According to WHO, the electronic nicotine delivery systems’ (ENDS) use among children and adolescents increases the chance of their use of conventional cigarettes and other tobacco products in the future.
- ENDS affects brain development in adolescents and has a damaging impact on the cardiovascular and respiratory health of regular smokers and those who engage in dual use or delay overall quitting.
- The progress made by countries in the fight against the tobacco epidemic is threatened by the tobacco industry’s ongoing efforts to introduce new nicotine and tobacco products.
- As many as 84 countries currently lack safeguards to protect from unregulated proliferation of electronic smoking devices.
- Currently, 32 countries have banned the sale of ENDS, covering 2.4 billion people. Another 79 have implemented partial measures to regulate the products, covering 3.2 billion people.
- Age restrictions on the sale of ENDS, however, have been adopted by only 69 countries. There are approximately 16,000 unique e-cigarette flavours available in some markets, many of which are appealing to children.
- Some 5.3 billion people — four times over the 2007 levels — are now covered by at least one of the six tobacco ‘MPower’ control measures recommended by the WHO:
- Monitoring tobacco use and preventive measures
- Protecting people from tobacco smoke; offering help to quit
- Warning about the dangers of tobacco
- Enforcing bans on advertising
- Promotion and sponsorship
- Raising taxes on tobacco
- The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)recommended in 2019 a complete ban on e-cigarettes and other ENDS.
- E-cigarettes and other such devices contained not only nicotine solution but also harmful ingredients such as flavouring agents and vaporisers.
- WHO urged governments to do more to implement regulations to stop non-smokers from starting, prevent renormalisation of smoking in the community and protect future generations.
Other findings of the report:
- Tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year. More than 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
- Over 80 per cent of the world’s 1.3 billion tobacco users live in low- and middle-income countries.
- Encouraging progress seen around the world, with smoking prevalence among people aged over 15 years having fallen from 22.7 per cent to 17.5 per cent.