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National Important Current Affairs – 20 March 2018

■ In Rajasthan, special traditional Gangaur procession will be held across the state on the occasion of folk festival, Gangaur. In Jaipur, the Gangaur procession, with all its regal pomp and pageantry is the center of attention, which symbolises the worship of Lord Siva and his consort goddess Gauri (Parvathi).

The Folk Festival of Gangaur is celebrated in the month of Chaitra (March-April), the first month of the Hindu calendar. The festival is all about honouring Goddess Gauri or Parvati and celebrating marriage and love. In this festival, both married and unmarried women take part in the festivities as for the locals, Goddess Parvati represents perfection and marital love.

The tourists and visitors will witness the traditional dances and performances like Kachhighodi, Kalbeliya, Behrupia, Gair, Chakri, among others.

 

■ Prime Minister Narendra Modi has conveyed his greetings and best wishes to followers of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti in the country and abroad on the occasion of 806th annual Urs at Ajmer Sharif Dargah. Peace, unity and harmony are at the core of various philosophies in the country and Sufism are also one of them. Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi offered Chadar on behalf of the Prime Minister at the dargah Sharif.

About Sufism: Sufism is one of the mystical orders that grew out of Islam, as a belief of the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God. Sufism became prominent during the period of early Umayyad Caliphate (661-750 CE). The Sufi movement has spread to several continents over a millennium, with a considerable following in India and Kashmir.

About Urs: Urs is the death anniversary of a Sufi saint, observed at the saint’s dargah or tomb. The word Urs is derived from the Arabic word for wedding. It is believed that the relationship between Sufi saints and God was of divine love. Hence their death is considered as ‘wisaal’ or union, and their death is celebrated rather than mourned.

Who was Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti?
Moinuddin Chishti was born in 1141 in Iran. According to legend, he renounced his material belongings after coming in contact with Shaikh Ibrahim Qunduzi, a revered Sufi of that time. After a dream in which Prophet Muhammad blessed him, he turned towards India. He finally settled down in Ajmer. During the reign of Emperor Akbar, who revered the Sufis, Ajmer emerged as an important centre of pilgrimage in India.

What is the Chishti Silsila of Sufism?
The Chishti Order is a Sufi order which arose from Chisht, a small town near Herat, in western Afghanistan. It was founded by Abu Ishaq Shami in about 930 CE (Christian Era). Moinuddin Chishti is credited with laying its foundations in India. Other famous saints of the Chishti Order are Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, Fariduddin Ganjshakar, Nizamuddin Auliya and Alauddin Ali Ahmed Sabir Kalyari.

 

■ The Karnataka Government has recommended religious minority status to the Lingayat community. The state Cabinet has decided to accept the recommendations of the Karnataka State Minority Commission to consider grant of recognition as a religious minority to the Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats who are believers of Basava Tathwa under section 2D of the Karnataka State Minorities Act. The Cabinet will forward this to the Central Government for notifying it under section 2C of the Central Minority Commission Act.

About Lingayats: They are followers of 12th-century social reformer Basavanna and his vachana (verses) philosophy. Their beliefs, practices and faith are different. Veerashaivas worship Lord Shiva, the one mentioned in Hindu mythology. However, the Shiva that Basavanna referred to in his vachanas (verses) is not the Hindu god Shiva but the ishtalinga (formless God), which people of the community wear around their neck.

About Veerashaivas: They are a sub-sect of Lingayats and ardent followers of Lord Shiva. They preceded Basavanna, the founder of Lingayatism. Veerashaivism has its roots in the Vedas and Agamas, and Veerashaivas do not worship any god other than Shiva
All Veerashaiva sects follow the ‘Pancha Peeta’ or five mutts — Kashi mutt, Rameswaram mutt, Ujjaini mutt, Rambhapura mutt and Srishaila mutt, the core holy places for the community. They are spread across Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

About Basavanna:
Basavanna was a 12th-century social reformer. The revolution that Basavanna led came years after the Buddha. It was Basavanna and his contemporary Sharanas who launched a very strong spiritual, social and religious rebellion against Brahminical hegemony. Basavanna had declared that “work is worship”. He gave women equal status in his movement through the vachanas (verses).

Why Lingayats matter in poll-bound Karnataka? Lingayats constitute 17% of the total population in Karnataka. They are dominant in about 100 seats of the 224 assembly seats, situated mostly in North Karnataka. There have been 9 chief ministers from the community in the state.

Note that: Previously in 2014, the UPA government had approved the notification of Jains as a minority community at the national level.

 

■ India plans to restart research into Cold fusion, some 25 years after it was shut down at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) following global criticism. It has been taken up by three research groups.

About Cold Fusion:

Cold fusion describes a form of energy generated when hydrogen interacts with various metals such as nickel and palladium. Cold fusion is a field of condensed matter nuclear science (CMNS), and is also referred to as the Anomalous Heat Effect (AHE), reflecting the fact that there is no definitive theory of this elusive reaction.

When hydrogen, which is the main element of water, is introduced to a small piece of the metal like nickel or palladium, a reaction occurs that can create excess heat and transmutation products.

Excess heat means more heat comes out of the system than went in to the system. This excess heat can be used to make hot water and steam to turn a turbine and produce electricity.

As explained above, no radioactive materials are used in cold fusion. It takes place as the tiny protons, neutrons and electrons of hydrogen interact, releasing energy slowly, through heat and photons, without any the dangerous radiation associated with conventional nuclear reactions, and hence, cold fusion makes no radioactive waste. 

This can have potential application in energy production.

 

■ Kerala state government is going to declare Jackfruit as the official fruit of Kerala. The core objective of the government was to give an impetus to the production and sale of jackfruit and its value-added products.

Note that: ‘Elephant’ is the state animal of Kerala, while ‘Great hornbill’ is the state bird and ‘Kanikkonna’, is the official flower. The state had also recently declared ‘Pearl spot‘, popularly known as ‘Karimeen’, as its official fish.

 

■ India is hosting the 17th Annual Conference of International Competition Network 2018 (ICN 2018) in New Delhi. This is the first time India is hosting the ICN Annual Conference ever since it joined the International Competition Network (ICN) in 2009. The ICN holds an annual conference in a member competition agency. The last such Conference was hosted by Portuguese Competition Authority in 2017 at Porto, Portugal.

The ICN2018 will provide an opportunity to exchange strategies for effective enforcement of competition law and for strengthening cooperation amongst the competition authorities as they strive to promote and sustain competition in today’s dynamic markets.

About ICN:

The ICN is a voluntary, consensus-based international body comprising 132 members from 120 competition jurisdictions exclusively devoted to international competition enforcement. The ICN’s main goal is to improve and advocate for sound competition policy and its enforcement across the global antitrust community. The ICN is not a rule-making organisation and its work products are not legally binding instruments.

The members of ICN are national competition authorities and NGA (Non-governmental Advisers) which include reputed law firms, eminent persons, and think tanks of international repute.

 

International Current Affairs Capsule – 20 March 2018

■ The two-day Informal World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meeting has started in New Delhi, in which representatives from 50 countries are participating. The informal meeting is expected to provide an opportunity to engage in free and frank discussions leading to political guidance on some of the major issues, both at the negotiating table and also in other areas.

During an interaction with the Director General of World Trade Organisation (WTO) Roberto Azevedo, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reiterated that India is a strong supporter of the multilateral trading system. He also urged Mr Azevedo to make special efforts so that the benefits of free trade and globalisation become more visible in developing countries.

Note that: The meeting assumes significance against the backdrop of increase in duties on steel and aluminium by the US administration, and Washington taking India to the WTO against export incentive programmes.

 

India and the European Union (EU) have signed an agreement to enable them to share earth observation data from each other’s satellites. This pact was inked in Bengaluru under which, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will share data from its earth observation satellites. The European Commission will provide India with free, full and open access to the data from the Copernicus Sentinel family of satellites using high bandwidth connections from data hub to data hub. This will provide both the sides, the data on climate change, weather forecast and natural disasters.

The Copernicus programme has applications like climate change, land, ocean and atmosphere monitoring as well as support in forecasting, management and mitigation of natural disasters.

 

Obituaries

Jnanpith awardee and renowned Hindi poet Kedarnath Singh has passed away in New Delhi after a prolonged illness at 84 years of age. Kedarnath Singh was one of India’s most prominent modern Hindi poets born in Ballia district of eastern Uttar Pradesh. He won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1989 for his poetry collection Akaal Mein Saras and the Jnanpith Award in 2013.

Kedarnath had served as a professor and head of the Department of Hindi Language at the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Indian Languages Centre. His works include collections of poems such as Zameen Pak Rahi Hai, Baagh, Tolstoy aur Cycle, Yahan se Dekho aur Abhi Bilkul Abhi.

 

“Current Affairs Questions for IAS Prelims – 20 March 2018 “

Q1. Which cricket team has won the Irani Trophy cricket tournament 2018?
A) Karnataka
B) Rest of India
C) Vidarbha
D) Madhya Pradesh

Q2. The first phase of Indo-French joint naval exercise ‘Varuna 2018’ has started in which state, in which French submarine and frigate Jean de Vienne and Indian destroyer INS Mumbai and frigate Trikand with their integral helicopters, Indian submarine Kalvari, P8-1 and Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft and a Mig 29K fighter aircraft are participating?
A) Maharashtra
B) Kerala
C) Tamil Nadu
D) Goa

Q3. Who has bagged the Indian Wells Masters Tennis tournament 2018?
A) Juan Martin del Potro
B) Rafael Nadal
C) Novak Djokovic
D) Roger Federer

Q4. Which city is hosting the 2018 Festival Of Innovation And Entrepreneurship (FINE),to celebrate country’s Innovation potential?
A) Udaipur
B) Chennai
C) Shimla
D) New Delhi

Q5. NITI Aayog has recently released ‘Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital in Education (SATH-E)’ project roadmaps 2018-2020 in partnership with which states?
A) Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha
B) Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan
C) Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal
D) Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram

Answer these questions in the comments below. We encourage you to discuss your thoughts on the news and issues mentioned in today’s current affairs post. The idea is to promote healthy discussions on interesting issues to make preparation fun. Have a good day!

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