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Markandeshwar Temple

Paper: General Studies 1

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Why in the news?

  • The restoration work of Markandeshwar temple in Maharashtra   by the Archaeological Survey of India is in full swing. 

About the Markandeshwar Temple

  • Known as the “Khajuraho of Vidarbha”,the temple of Markandadeo is situated on the bank of River Wainganga in district Gadchiroli of Maharashtra. 
  • The temples belong to the Nagara group of temples of North India.  On stylistic grounds, their date ranges in between 9-12th centuries CE. The temples belong to saiva, vaishnava and sakta faith. Most of the temples have a simple plan, with ardhamandapa, mandapa, antaralaand garbhagriha forming the component of the entire set up.
  • The most striking feature of this temple is the large scale destruction caused on the main shrine (garbhagriha)and the very first recordings made by Alexander Cunningham states that – about 200 years ago the shikhara of the main shrine and mahamandapa was struck by lightning which led to the partial collapse of the shikhara(the finial, north and south facade).  The then Gond Ruler renovated the temple about 120 years ago, trying to restore the fallen portions as much as possible. This restoration attempt was however not as per the modern conservation standards. However, the restoration of the temple by Gond ruler helped in the preservation of the religious character of this temple, which attracts a large gathering of devotees.  Earliest photograph (1904) of these temples indicates that the main shikhara on the northern facade was majorly damaged as compared to the other two sides.


India-Italy Fast Track Mechanism

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Why in the news?

  • In order to facilitate Italian companies and investors in India and Indian companies and investors in Italy, it has been decided to establish fast-track system for companies and investors of both the countries.
  • The key objectives of the fast – track system in India will be to pave the way for and identify and solve problems faced by Italian companies and investors with their operations in India. The system will also serve as a platform for discussing general suggestions from the point of view of Italian companies and investors with regard to ease of doing business in India.
  • Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) in close cooperation with Invest India will represent the India side in this system in India. DPIIT will facilitate the participation of other relevant Ministries and authorities on a case by case basis. Invest India will be the responsible agency to pursue and monitor individual cases. They will be constantly reviewed by DPIIT.
  • The Italian Embassy in India in close cooperation with the Italian Trade Agency and relevant Ministries in Italy will represent the Italian side of this system in India.
  • Such mechanisms already exist for countries like Germany and Japan.


Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications,


Why in the news?

Against a target of covering 14306 police stations, a total of 14874 police stations (excluding police stations in Bihar) have been covered under the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), which includes new police stations. A total of 20.10 crore records of crime/criminals are available at national level.

What is the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System?

  • It is a project for creating a comprehensive and integrated system for effective policing through e-Governance. The system includes nationwide online tracking system by integrating more than 14,000 police stations across the country. 
  • The project is implemented by National Crime Records Bureau
  • The objective of integration of CCTNS with Inter-operable Criminal Justice System is to facilitate the use of information on crime and criminals in CCTNS with other databases on prisons, prosecution, forensics and courts in a holistic manner for administration of criminal justice.
  • It aims to integrate different software and platforms followed by different states and to digitise records of those states which have not digitised their police records. The project also involves training of police personnel and setting up of citizen portal to provide services to citizens


Broadband Readiness Index

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic:  Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.


Why in the news?

  • The Department of Telecom (DoT) and the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop a Broadband Readiness Index (BRI) for Indian States and Union Territories (UT). 
  • The first estimate will be made in 2019 and subsequently every year until 2022.

About the Broadband Readiness Index

  • The National Digital Communication Policy (NDCP) 2018 acknowledged the need for building a robust digital communications infrastructure leveraging existing assets of the broadcasting and power sectors including collaborative models involving state, local bodies and the private sector. Accordingly, the policy recommended that a BRI for States and UTs be developed to attract investments and address Right of Way(RoW) challenges across India.
  • This index will appraise the condition of the underlying digital infrastructure and related factors at the State/UT level. Such an exercise will provide useful insights into strategic choices made by States for investment allocations in ICT programmes. 
  • In the spirit of competitive federalism, the index will encourage states to cross learn and jointly participate in achieving the overall objective of digital inclusion and development in India. 
  • The framework will not only evaluate a state’s relative development but will also allow for a better understanding of a state’s strengths and weaknesses that can feed into evidence-based policy making. 
  • The methodology developed as a part of this research will be adapted and used on an annual basis for systematic evaluation of state-performance on metrics set out as goals for 2022 under the new policy. As a result, ranking and understanding State/UT performance over time will be an important part of the exercise.
  • The BRI consists of two parts. Part I will focus on infrastructure development based on the measurement of nine parameters. These are provided in the Table below. Part II consists of demand side parameters which will be captured through primary surveys. It will include indicators such as percentage of households using computers/ laptops with internet connection, the percentage of households with fixed broadband connection, internet users as a percentage of the population, smart phones density, percentage of households with at least one digitally literate member, etc. 
  • The primary survey will be conducted annually until 2022.



Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Disaster and disaster management

Why in the news?

All India Kisan Sabha has demanded that the Centre scrap the Manual for Drought Management, 2016 which changed the way that droughts are declared and the circumstances under which central help can be sought by affected states.

What are the criteria under the 2016 manual?

  • The new manual, which adopted standard practices from across the world, gives six parameters for declaration of drought. These categories of indices are Rainfall, Vegetation, Hydrological indices, Crops situation indices, ground verification and others. These six indices are further elaborated into more than 13 sub-points, making it technically extensive.
  • Except rainfall and ground verification, all other indices are considered impact indicators. To come under ‘severe’ drought category, a state has to prove severity in three out of these four impact indicators. Even if two indicators suggest severity of drought, the state would be shifted to ‘normal’ category.
  • Rainfall is considered the most important parameter and a mandatory one. It is only after meeting the requirements under this parameter that a state can move to meet further parameters. Under rainfall, there are three indices: rainfall deviation, dry spell and standardised precipitation ratio. There is an issue with the definition of dry spell, which is, less than 50 percent of normal precipitation in a week. The 2009 guidelines gave space to consider less than three weeks of dry spell, whereas the current manual said that more than three weeks of dry spell is possibly detrimental to crop health
  • To get the drought situation considered as ‘severe’, the sowing has to be below 50 per cent of the normal. But such a level of reduction in sowing areas has never happened in the past. Even when water is scarce, sowing is usually high.
  • Remote sensing based vegetation indices – This parameter is for assessment of anomalies in large areas through satellite-based crop monitoring. Any deviation from normal years would reflect whether Vegetation Crop Index value is good, fair, poor or very poor. However, only ‘very poor’ index will be considered for ‘severe’ drought category. It is very difficult to prove ‘very poor’ crop index. Even ‘poor’ index is enough to disrupt crop development forever.
  • Hydrological indices consist of reservoir storage index, stream-flow drought index and groundwater index. The reservoir-level index or stream-flow drought index would help those blocks of Talukas that come under command area. In that case, data can be attributed to these areas. Or else, it will not work. In case of groundwater index, the groundwater depletion is visible in the alluvial plains but not so in hilly terrains like Deccan Plateau.
  • The ‘moderate’ drought category has been deleted in the new manual.  It means drought-hit areas will now be categorised as ‘normal’ and ‘severe’. Only in case of ‘severe’ drought, a state would be eligible for central assistance from the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF).


Prelims Specific

  • Kan Sikul, Kan Huan (My school, My farm) is a project in Lawngtlai district in Mizoram which aims to make every school, Anganwadi, child care institutions and hostel self -sufficient in the local variety of fruits and vegetables by March 2020. This is a means to target malnutrition and stuntedness among the children.