Current News Ecology & Environment

‘Wetlands of India’ Portal


  • On 2nd October 2021, the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) launched a web portal – ‘Wetlands of India Portal’.
  • The portal is a single point access to all information relating to wetlands.
  • Importantly, a dashboard for each State and UT has been developed to access the portal and populate it with information of wetlands in their administration.
  • Registered citizens can opt to take the pledge to become ‘wetland mitra’ and indicate their State/UT and areas of interest.
  • The portal has been developed under a Technical Cooperation project “Wetlands Management for Biodiversity and Climate Protection” (Wetlands Project) of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in partnership with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
  • The project is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) under the International Climate Initiative (IKI).

PIB News Ecology & Environment

Chacha Chaudhary: Mascot of Namami Gange Programme


  • The iconic Indian superhero - Chacha Chaudhary has been declared as the mascot of the Namami Gange Programme.
  • The decision was taken during the 37th Executive Committee meeting of the National Mission for Clean Ganga, NMCG.
  • NMCG has tied-up with Diamond Toons to develop and distribute comics, e-comics and animated videos.
  • Initially, the comics will be launched in Hindi, English and Bengali.
  • The content will be designed with the objective of bringing about behavioral change amongst children towards Ganga and other rivers.

State In News Assam

Assam adds ‘Bhaskarabda’ as Official Assam Calendar


  • On 18th October 2021, the Government of Assam has decided to add ‘Bhaskarabda’ in addition to ‘Saka’ and ‘Gregorian’ that will be used in the official calendar.
  • The local calendar is counted from the date of the ascension of Bhaskaravarman, the 7th-century ruler of Kamrup.
  • Bhaskarabda began when Bhaskaravarman was crowned ruler of the Kamrupa kingdom. He was a contemporary and political ally of northern Indian ruler Harshavardhana.
  • Unlike the Gregorian, where a day starts at midnight, the Assamese calendar begins and ends at sunrise over 24 hours.
  • While the Gregorian goes by the solar cycle, the Saka and Bhaskarabda use a lunisolar system based on both the phases of the moon and the solar year.
  • The gap between Bhaskarabda and Gregorian is 593 years.

Current News National Indian Art, Culture & Heritage

On Abhidhamma Day 2021, Kushinagar gets Intl. Airport


  • The Union Culture Ministry and International Buddhist Confederation, in association with the government of Uttar Pradesh, is organising the Abhidhamma Day (20th October 2021) on the auspicious occasion of Ashwin Poornima.
  • The day marks the end of three-month rainy retreat - Varshavaas or Vassa - for the Buddhist monks and nuns during which time they stay at one place and pray.


(Image Source: PIB)

Popular Belief

  • According to widely held belief, this is the day when Lord Buddha came back to earth from heaven. He is believed to have gone to the heaven to teach Abhidhamma Pitaka (a basket of ultimate things) to his mother. The teaching took three months after which Buddha came back to Earth. His followers too mark the three-month time by staying at one place and praying.

Kushinagar

  • On 20th October 2021, Prime Minister of India will attend 'Abhidhamma Day' event in UP's Kushinagar on occasion of inauguration of Kushinagar International Airport.
  • The ancient city of Kushinagar is the final resting place of Gautama Buddha, where he attained Mahaparinirvana after his death. The prime tourist attractions in Kushinagar includes the ancient Mahaparinirvana Temple- one of the most sacred shrines for Buddhists, Rambhar Stupa, Kushinagar Museum, Sun Temple, Nirvana Stupa, Matha Kuar Shrine, Watt Thai Temple, Chinese Temple, Japanese Temple.

Observation Highlights

  • The highlight of the event is the exposition of Holy Buddha Relic being brought from Waskaduwa Sri Subuddhi Rajvihara Temple in Sri Lanka by the Mahanayaka of the temple.
  • These relics are accepted as real relics (bone fragments, ashes, pieces of Jewels) of the Buddha.
  • These relics were found in Piprahwa, Sidharthnagar district of Uttar Pradesh, about 160 km from Kushinagar, in 1898. A part of the relics was sent to the King of Thailand and another part was sent to the King of Burma.
  • The Prime Minister will offer prayers to the Holy Relic and also visit the Mahaparinirvana temple to offer flowers and Chivar (a monk's robe) to the reclining statue of Buddha.

Chivar Dana

  • Chivar refers to a “monk’s robe”. The period after three month long Varshavas, observed as retreat by monks and nuns by staying in vihara during rainy season, is a time of giving, for the laity to express gratitude to Sangha.
  • Lay Buddhists bring donations to temples, especially new robes for the monks and nuns.
  • Also the gift of the atthaparikara (in Sri Lanka it is known as Atapirikara) - the Eight Requisites - is part of the offerings.
  • However, Dana of Chivara can also be given on other occasions.

The Reclining Buddha

  • A reclining Buddha statue or image represents the Buddha during his last illness, about to enter Parinirvana, the stage of great salvation after death that can only be attained by enlightened souls.
  • Statues and images of the Reclining Buddha show him lying on his right side, his head resting on a cushion or on his right elbow. It is a popular iconographic depiction in Buddhism, and is meant to show that all beings have the potential to be awakened and be released from the cycle of death and rebirth.
  • The Reclining Buddha was first depicted in Gandhara art, which began in the period between 50 BC and 75 AD.

News Crux Science & Technology

China launches First Solar Observatory


  • On 14th October 2021, China launched the Chinese H-alpha Solar Explorer (CHASE) and 10 other satellites into orbit during its 37th orbital launch of the year.
  • CHASE is the country's first solar observatory equipped with a solar telescope that will observe the deep-red H-Alpha line of the solar spectrum that will help scientists in observing and studying solar flares.
  • China's first solar observatory has been named ‘Xihe’ from the sun goddess in ancient Chinese mythology and has a design life of three years and will make observations until the upcoming solar maximum in 2025.
  • China has also announced to launch the Advanced Space-born Solar Observatory (ASO-S) in 2022 as a follow-up mission after CHASE.

Current News International Bilateral, Regional And Global Groupings

India, Israel, US and UAE: A New ‘Quad’ in the Offing


After the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD, also known as the Quad or QUAD) - a strategic dialogue between the United States, India, Japan and Australia, a new ‘Quad’ is emerging.

  • Recently, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his counterparts from Israel, the US and the UAE have agreed to establish a forum for economic cooperation at a virtual quadrilateral meeting (on 18 October 2021).

Aim of the Grouping

  • The aim of the grouping is to work towards joint infrastructure projects in the fields of transportation, technology, maritime security, and economics and trade.

Abraham Accords: The Door Opener

  • The meeting was built on the momentum created by the Abraham Accords of last year, which is expected to help in normalizing relations with the Arab states.
  • The meeting is a breakthrough towards consolidation of the security alignments in the region that began with the Abraham Accords that four Arab countries – UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco signed with Israel and normalised their relations with that country.

India & Abraham Accords Process

  • India has backed the Abraham Accords process.
  • According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), these efforts are in line with India supporting peace and stability in West Asia, to which it describes as an ‘Extended Neighbourhood’.
  • The recent visit of external Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar to Israel and the Abraham Accords notwithstanding, India’s excellent bilateral relations with the countries in the region including sworn enemies Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel have been a remarkable success story of India’s foreign policy.
  • India cooperates with these countries in diverse fields including a robust strategic defence and security relationship with some of these.

India’s West Asia Outreach

  • West Asia looms large on India’s horizon though the focus over the last few years has been the east.
  • It is the source of 60% of India‘s oil and gas and the remittances from the large Indian Diaspora in the region is the largest contributor to India’s healthy foreign exchange reserves.
  • So, it is therefore not only important for India to be engaged with this region but also to ensure that the regional stability and security is maintained.
  • Countries such as the UAE and Israel are oases of stability in a region that is a simmering cauldron of political volatility, internecine warfare and state supported insurgencies.
  • As far as Defence Cooperation with UAE is concerned, for the first time the Indian Army Chief had visited that country, maritime cooperation is one of the critical components of the relations.
  • Earlier this year three countries – UAE, India and Israel had concluded the first trilateral partnership. In this first trilateral partnership, for a project based in UAE, an Israeli company will produce a robotic solar cleaning technology in India.