Daily Prelims Notes 28 September 2023
- September 28, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
28 September 2023
Table Of Contents
- Shinde camp notices to Uddhav MPs for ‘violating’ quota Bill whip
- Committee on Ethics
- Climate Change and health and Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP)
- What’s the link between GDP growth and employment in India
- New angel tax rules bring clarity to valuing startup investments
- SEBI may set up panel to clear the ‘promoter’ tag muddle
- World Bank’s lending capacity could get a $100b boost from new pledges
- Bihar to get second tiger reserve in Kaimur district
- How can a quantum computer prove that it is superior?
- Biologists in slow and steady race to help North America’s largest and rarest tortoise species
- Seeds with multiple tolerance will be a game-changer: Borlaug award winner Swati Nayak
- India ageing, elderly to make up 20% of population by 2050: UNFPA report
- More women become Odhuvars in TN Temples
- SC orders Status Quo on appointment of priests in Agamic Tamil Nadu temples
A whip was issued by Shiv Sena on September 14 to its MPs to remain present in the House during the special session of Parliament from September 18 to 22.
- A whip is a directive from the party that binds party members of a House to obey the line of the party.
- Though the office of whip is not officially recognised in the standing orders, there has been a long tradition to give them a place in the Parliamentary form of government.
- The whip plays a crucial role in ensuring the smooth and efficient conduct of business on the floor of the House.
- The whip is an MP/MLA drawn from the party that is in power and also from the party that sits on the opposition bench. They are vital in maintaining the links between the internal organisation of party inside the Parliament.
- It is also the duty of the chief whip to maintain discipline of the party on the floor of the House. Besides, he is responsible for keeping MPs, especially Ministers, informed of opinion in the party on the moods of individual members.
- If an MP/MLA violates his party’s whip, he faces expulsion from the House under the Anti-Defection Act.
- Constitutional status: The office of ‘whip’, is mentioned neither in the Constitution of India nor in the Rules of the House nor in a Parliamentary Statute. It is based on the conventions of the parliamentary government.
- Non-applicability of Whip: There are some cases such as Presidential elections where whips cannot direct a Member of Parliament (MP) or Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) on whom to vote.
- Each of the two Houses of Parliament has an ethics committee. They deal with the members’
- Besides overseeing the moral and ethical conduct of members, ethics committee also prepares a Code of Conduct for members, which are amended from time to time. The ethics committee in Lok Sabha has 15 In Rajya Sabha this number stands at 10.
Who can file complaint?
Any person may make a complaint to the Committee regarding alleged unethical behaviour or breach of Code of Conduct by a member or alleged incorrect information of a member’s interests. The Committee may also take up matters suo motu.
Where it has been found that a member has indulged in unethical behaviour or there is other misconduct or a member has contravened the rules, the Committee may recommend imposition of one or more of the sanctions. This may include censure, reprimand, suspension from the House for a specific period or any other sanction determined by the Committee.
Code of Conduct: Evolution
A code for Union ministers was adopted in 1964, and state governments were advised to adopt it as well.
n the case of MPs, the first step was the constitution of Parliamentary Standing Committees on Ethics in both the Houses.
- The Committee in Rajya Sabha was inaugurated in 1997 to oversee the moral and ethical conduct of the Members and to examine the cases referred to it with reference to ethical and other misconduct of Members.
- The first Ethics Committee in Lok Sabha was constituted in the year 2000.
Code of Conduct in Lok Sabha
The Ethics Committee has been constituted for every newly elected Lok Sabha (since 13th Lok Sabha) .
- The Ethics Committee was mandated in August 2015 to formulate a code of conduct for Lok Sabha members and suggest amendments to the code from time to time.
- The Committee examines every complaint relating to unethical conduct of a member of Lok Sabha referred to it by the Speaker and make such recommendations as it may deem fit
Code of Conduct in Rajya Sabha
A 14-point Code of Conduct for members of the House has been in force since 2005. These include:
- Private interests are subordinate to the duty of the public
- Public interest is not
- Members should never expect or accept any fee, remuneration or benefit for a vote given or not given by them on the floor of the House, for introducing a Bill, etc.
- Members must not do anything that brings disrepute to the Parliament and affects their credibility.
- Members must utilise their position as Members of Parliament to advance general well-being of the
- Members should not be disrespectful to any religion and work for the promotion of secular
- Members should keep uppermost in their minds the fundamental duties listed in part IVA of the Constitution.
- Members are expected to maintain high standards of morality, dignity, decency and values in public
A ‘Register of Member’s Interests’ maintained under the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States states is available to Members for inspection on request. The Register is also accessible to ordinary citizens under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
Section: Climate change
* IPCC established by WMO and UNEP in 1988. The IPCC began its seventh assessment cycle in 2023. In August 2021, the IPCC published its Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (IPCC AR6) on the physical science basis of climate change.
The Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) was rolled out in a few States in 2007. From reporting 553 outbreaks in 2008, it last reported 1,714 in 2017. It was phased out in favour of a new, a web enabled, near Realtime
Electronic information system called Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP). IHIP was launched in seven States in 2018
*Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP): The Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP) is a web-enabled near-real-time electronic information system that is embedded with all applicable Government of India’s e-Governance standards, Information Technology (IT), data & meta data standards to provide state-of-the-art single operating picture with geospatial information for managing disease outbreaks and related resources.
Key features of Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP)
- Real time data reporting (along through mobile application); accessible at all levels (from villages, states and central level)
- Advanced data modelling & analytical tools
- GIS enabled Graphical representation of data into integrated dashboard
- Role & hierarchy-based feedback & alert mechanisms
- Geo-tagging of reporting health facilities
- Scope for data integration with other health programs
- It will track 33 diseases (as compared to the earlier 18 diseases) and will ensure near-real-time data in digital mode.
- It will provide a health information system developed for real time, case- based information, integrated analytics, advanced visualization capability.
- Data will be provided in real time through:
- Grassroots healthcare workers through their gadgets (tablets); Doctors at the PHC (Primary Healthcare Centre)/CHC (Community Health Centre)/ DH (District Hospital) when the citizens seek healthcare; and
- Diagnostic labs which will provide data on the tests carried
*One Health Approach: One Health is an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of people, animals and ecosystems. It recognizes that the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants, and the wider environment (including ecosystems) are closely linked and interdependent.
*Diseases and its causes:
|measle||a single-stranded, enveloped RNA virus with 1 serotype|
|Japanese encephalitis||Culex tritaeniorhynchus|
|diarrhoea||Escherichia coli (most common worldwide), Shigella, Salmonella, Campylobacter (most common in children), Yersinia, and Clostridium spp|
Subject : Economy
- It is generally believed that fast GDP growth will automatically bring about employment. But this is not necessarily correct, as the growth can be with or without much employment generation.
- For a country like India, with surplus labour, growth is expected to be labour intensive, unlike labour scarce countries where growth is capital intensive. But this does not always hold true as can be seen in the case of India.
How to compare employment generation in relation to growth?
- A good way to measure this relationship is to look at employment elasticity of growth — it is the extent to which employment grows when GDP grows by one unit.
- It is calculated by dividing the employment growth rate by the output growth rate.
- Employment elasticity is a measure of the percentage change in employment associated with a 1 percentage point change in economic growth.
- The employment elasticity indicates the ability of an economy to generate employment opportunities for its population as per cent of its growth (development) process.
- An employment elasticity of 1 implies that with every 1 percentage point growth in GDP, employment increases by 1%.
- An employment elasticity of 1 denotes that employment grows at the same rate as economic growth.
- Elasticity of 0 denotes that employment does not grow at all, regardless of economic growth.
- Negative employment elasticity denotes that employment shrinks as the economy grows. This is crucial as it is commonly believed that economic growth alone will increase employment.
- The negative employment elasticity in agriculture indicates movement of people out of agriculture to other sectors where wage rates are higher.
- However, the negative employment elasticity in the manufacturing sector was a cause of concern particularly when the sector has shown positive growth in output.
- An employment elasticity of 1 implies that with every 1 percentage point growth in GDP, employment increases by 1%.
- Jobless growth means that the high growth in GDP did not accompany a similar growth in employment, resulting in a low Employment Elasticity.
Recent trend in employment elasticity:
- As can be seen, employment elasticity has consistently fallen between 1983 and 2017, showing that a 1% increase in GDP leads to a less than 1% increase in employment.
- It is noteworthy how employment elasticity went up so sharply in the last few years. Highlighted in circles, we can see that non-farm employment growth rate improved during this period.
- It is also true that the employment elasticity calculation was helped by the fact that the non-farm output growth (the denominator in this formula) also fell quite sharply.
- In addition the majority of employment generation in this phase has been self-employment.
- In 2020-21 (pandemic year) regular wage employment fell by 2.2 million. But this net change hides an increase in formal employment by 3 million and a loss of about 5.2 million of semi and informal regular wage employment.
| State of Working India (SWI 2023)|
Subject : Economy
Section: Capital Market
In News: The amended rules are aimed at bridging the gap between the rules outlined in FEMA and the Income Tax.
- The Income Tax department has notified rules for valuation of equity and compulsorily convertible preferable shares issued by startups to resident and non-resident investors.
- As per the changes in Rule 11UA of I-T rules, which comes into effect from September 25, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) provides that the valuation of compulsorily convertible preference shares (CCPS) can also be based on the fair market value of unquoted equity shares.
- The change is significant as most of the investments in India by VC funds is through the CCPS route only.
- Extension of 10% safe harbour to CCPS investments as it was earlier meant for equity shares will give necessary margin of safety for taking care of foreign exchange fluctuations.
What are the benefits:
- The amendments to Rule 11UA of the Indian Income Tax Act bring positive changes by offering taxpayers flexibility through multiple valuation methods, simplifying the valuation date consideration, incentivising venture capital investments, facilitating investments from notified entities, providing clarity on CCPS and encouraging foreign investments.
Note: Angel investors are wealthy private investors focused on financing small business ventures in exchange for equity. Unlike a venture capital firm that uses an investment fund, angels use their own net worth.
Subject : Economy
Section: Capital Market
In News: Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) may set up a committee under Association of Investment Bankers of India (AIBI).
- AIBI an industry body representing investment bankers, will take up the issue of promoter classification of founders and investors of companies headed for initial public offerings.
What is the problem?
- Many issuers have identified themselves as professional managers, not promoters, in draft prospectus for the initial public offering (IPO)
- A promoter has to be identified at the time of filing the draft red herring prospectus for an IPO.
- Several issuers in the past had identified themselves as professionally managed companies without an identifiable promoter.
- SEBI has been nudging founders with a stake of 10 per cent or more to classify themselves as promoters at the time of filing the draft prospectus for public share sales.
Obligations of promoters:
- The minimum promoters’ contribution of 20 per cent has to be locked in for 18 months post-listing. In addition, the promoter tag comes with higher regulatory obligations.
- This could especially impact new-age companies where the founder’s holdings could be low because of frequent equity dilution to private equity (PE) players
- ICDR Regulations (Issue of Capital and Disclosure Requirements) define a promoter as someone who is in control of the company
- Currently, there are no regulations on minimum promoter holding, which is why regulators are grappling with the distinction between promoters and founders.
Subject : Economy
Section: Capital Market
In News: MCA, DEA in talks on direct listing rules for startups
- Corporate Affairs Ministry (MCA) is in talks with the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) in the Finance Ministry to frame rules for enabling the direct listing of Indian companies, including startups, on overseas exchanges at the GIFT City in Gujarat.
- GIFT City is the country’s sole International Financial Services Centre (IFSC).
- Government is currently focused on enabling direct listing of Indian companies in GIFT City before looking at allowing them to list directly overseas.
- This would enable startups and companies of like nature to access the global market through GIFT IFSC.
- Currently, Indian companies can access overseas equity markets only through depository receipts or by listing their debt securities on foreign markets.
- The Centre had in 2020 amended the Companies Act allowing the direct listing of Indian companies on foreign stock exchanges, but the necessary framework has not been put in place so far.
Section: International Organisation
- World Bank Group President Ajay Banga proposed new contributions from wealthy countries combined with balance sheet changes could boost the bank’s lending capacity by $100 billion to $125 billion over a decade
- the contributions would come outside the bank’s normal shareholding structure and regular country contributions to the International Development Association fund for the poorest countries.
- China, India and Brazil got larger shareholding in the bank in a 2018 capital increase and would likely want more say in a future capital increase.
- World Bank Group (WBG) uses trust funds, a financing arrangement set up with contributions from one or more development partner, to complement core funding from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), in support of the World Bank Group’s goals.
The Bank borrows the money it lends. It has good credit because it has large, well-managed financial reserves. This means it can borrow money at low interest rates from capital markets all over the world to then lend money to developing countries on very favorable terms.
The Bank’s financial reserves come from several sources – from funds raised in the financial markets, from earnings on its investments, from fees paid in by member countries, from contributions made by members (particularly the wealthier ones) and from borrowing countries themselves when they pay back their loans.
The Bank lends only a portion of the money needed for a project. The borrowing country must get the rest from other sources or use its own funds. Eventually, since the country has to pay back its loans, it ends up paying for most, if not all, of the project itself.
|India and World Bank Group|
| How does World Bank work ?|
Section: Protected areas
- Bihar is set to get its second tiger reserve in Kaimur district- Kaimur wildlife sanctuary.
- Earlier Dholpur-Karauli TR of Rajasthan became the 54rd tiger reserve of the country.
- The Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) in West Champaran district, is currently the 1st and only tiger reserve of the state.
- A report of the NTCA said that the tiger population in the Valmiki reserve has increased from 31 in 2018 to 54.
- The total tiger count in the State currently is 54.
- There is a need for the second tiger reserve in the state as Valmiki TR has reached its saturation point of 50 tigers.
Kaimur Wildlife sanctuary:
- The Kaimur district is divided into two parts:
- hilly area which is also known as Kaimur plateau and
- The plain area on the western side which is flanked by the rivers Karmnasa and Durgavati.
- The district has a large forest cover and is home to tigers, leopards and chinkaras.
- The forests of Kaimur span 1,134 sq km area including 986 sq km of the Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary.
- At 34%, Kaimur also has the highest green cover in Bihar and the Kaimur forests are the biggest in the State in terms of area.
- The district shares its boundary with neighboring States of Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
- Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in Kaimur District and Rohtas District of Bihar. It is the largest sanctuary in the state.
- Vegetation: Tropical Dry Mixed Deciduous, Dry Sal Forests, Boswellia Forests and Dry Bamboo Brakes.
- There are several waterfalls of which the finest are Karkat Waterfall, Manjhar Kund, Dhua Kund.
Subject :Science and Tech
Section: Awareness in computers
Quantum Computing (QC):
- QC technology promises more speed and more efficient problem-solving abilities, challenging the boundaries set by classical, conventional computing.
- Quantum supremacy is the term used for these computing techniques as QCs have the ability to solve some problems much faster than a classical computer.
Facing the quantum challenge:
- Quantum computers use quantum bits, or qubits, whereas classical computers use binary bits (0 and 1).
- Qubits are fundamentally different from classical bits as they can have the value 0 or 1, as a classical bit can, or a value that’s a combination of 0 and 1, called a superposition.
- Superposition states allow qubits to carry more information. This capacity of quantum computers allows them to perform a disproportionately greater number of operations.
- Qubits also exhibit entanglement, meaning that two qubits can be intrinsically linked regardless of their physical separation. This property allows quantum computers to tackle complex problems that may be out of reach of classical devices.
- Scalability- Biggest advantage of QCs:
- In classical computers, the processing power grows linearly with the number of bits. While in QCs it grows exponentially as 2n, where n is the number of qubits.
- Quantum circuits (core of QCs) consist of qubits and quantum gates.
- In such a circuit, a quantum gate could manipulate the qubits to perform specific functions, leading to an output.
- Classical computers struggle with #P-hard problems – a set of problems that includes estimating the probability that random quantum circuits will yield a certain output.
- #P-hard problems are a subset of #P problems, which are all counting problems.
- If a problem is #P-hard, then it is so challenging that if you can efficiently solve it, you can also efficiently solve every other problem in the #P class by making certain types of transformations.
Taking the Cayley path:
- Cayley path is a mathematical construct developed by Dr. Movassagh to prove that certain classes of problems can be solved by quantum computers but not by classical computers.
Quantum complexity theory:
- Dr. Mossavagh’s paper shows that there exists a problem that presents a computational barrier to classical computers but not to quantum computers (assuming a quantum computer can crack a #P-hard problem).
- The theory also challenges the extended Church-Turing thesis, which is the idea that classical computers can efficiently simulate any physical process.
- The establishment of quantum supremacy will have a positive impact in the field of cryptography.
- Quantum Technology is based on the principles of Quantum mechanics that was developed in the early 20th century to describe nature at the scale of atoms and elementary particles.
- The first phase of this revolutionary technology has provided the foundations of our understanding of the physical world, including the interaction of light and matter, and led to ubiquitous inventions such as lasers and semiconductor transistors.
- A second revolution is currently underway with the goal of putting properties of quantum mechanics in the realms of computing.
Properties of Quantum Computing
- Superposition – It is the ability of a quantum system to be in multiple states simultaneously.
- Entanglement– It means the two members of a pair (Qubits) exist in a single quantum state. Changing the state of one of the qubits will instantaneously change the state of the other one in a predictable way. This happens even if they are separated by very long distances.
- Einstein called spooky ‘action at a distance’.
- Interference – Quantum interference states that elementary particles (Qubits) can not only be in more than one place at any given time (through superposition), but that an individual particle, such as a photon (light particles) can cross its own trajectory and interfere with the direction of its path.
- The bit is the fundamental unit of a classical computer.
- Its value is 1 if a corresponding transistor is on and 0 if the transistor is off.
- The transistor can be in one of two states at a time – on or off – so a bit can have one of two values at a time, 0 or 1.
- In the Qubits, instead of being either 1 or 0, the information is encoded in a superposition: say, 45% 0 plus 55% 1.
- This is entirely unlike the two separate states of 0 and 1 and is the third kind of state.
- One qubit can encode two states. Five qubits can encode 32 states. A computer with N qubits can encode 2N states – whereas a computer with N transistors can only encode 2 × N states.
- So a qubit-based computer can access more states than a transistor-based computer, and thus access more computational pathways and solutions to more complex problems.
- It’s typically a particle like an electron.
What are Transmons:
- In quantum computing, and more specifically in superconducting quantum computing, a transmon is a type of superconducting charge qubit that was designed to have reduced sensitivity to charge noise.
- Google and IBM have been known to use transmons, where pairs of bound electrons oscillate between two superconductors to designate the two states.
Potential Applications For Quantum Computing
- Machine Learning
- Computational Chemistry
- Financial Portfolio Optimisation
- Secure Communication
- Disaster Management
- Logistics and Scheduling
- Cyber Security
- Augmenting Industrial revolution 4.0
National Mission on Quantum Technology and Applications (NMQTA)
- Union Budget 2020-21 proposed to spend Rs 8,000 crore on the newly launched NMQTA.
- In 2018, the Department of Science & Technology unveiled a programme called Quantum-Enabled Science & Technology (QuEST) and committed to investing Rs. 80 crore over the next three years to accelerate research.
- The mission seeks to develop quantum computing linked technologies amidst the second quantum revolution and make India the world’s third-biggest nation in the sector after the US and China.
Section: Species in news
- U.S. wildlife officials finalized an agreement with Ted Turner’s Endangered Species Fund for the release of more Bolson tortoises on the media mogul’s ranch in central New Mexico.
- The “safe harbor agreement” will facilitate the release of captive tortoises on the Armendaris Ranch (lies in south central New Mexico along the Rio Grande River) to establish a free-ranging population.
- The ranch is proving to be an ideal spot. The landscape is similar to that where the tortoises are found in Mexico, and work done on the ranch and at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Carlsbad has resulted in more than 400 tortoises being hatched since 2006.
About Bolson tortoises:
- It is the largest and rarest land reptile, as well as the rarest of the six Gopherus species native to the North American Continent.
- Adult males are generally smaller than females in this species.
- The tortoise is a land-dwelling reptile that spends more than 95% of its time in a burrow that it constructs with its shovel-like front feet.
- All foraging, nesting and mating activities take place during the tortoise’s active season from roughly April to October.
- The average lifespan of a Bolson tortoise is not known but probably lies upward of a century.
- Distribution: This species at present, is restricted to a relatively small area of the grasslands of north-central Mexico in the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila and Durango, where it exists in disjunct sub-populations.
- Fossil records also show it was once present it the southern Great Plains, including parts of Texas and Oklahoma.
- Conservation status IUCN: Critically Endangered
Section: Physical Geography
- Dr. Swati Nayak, a scientist from International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC) and known for research works in climate-resilient and nutritious rice varieties, recently won Borlaug Field Award by the World Food Prize.
- Dr. Nayak had organized more than 10,000 on-farm and comparative testing for more than 500 climate resilient, high-yielding, bio-fortified and healthier seed varieties.
- Dr. Nayak said developing high yielding inbreeds (non hybrids) from our old seed varieties and focussing on climate resilient and climate responsive varieties rich in micronutrients have been the innovations of this decade.
- Next decade of research and innovations should focus on low glycemic index varieties of rice which are with micro nutrients.
- Glycemic index (GI) is a measure of (on a scale of 0 to 100) how quickly a food can make your blood sugar (glucose) rise. Only foods that contain carbohydrates have a GI. Foods such as oils, fats, and meats do not have a GI, though in people with diabetes, they can affect the blood sugar.
- In general, low GI foods increase glucose slowly in your body. Foods with a high GI increase blood glucose quickly.
- The efforts are also to develop seeds with multiple tolerance– floods, droughts and pests.
- Kala Namak seed variety of paddy found in eastern India.
- Kalanamak is a scented rice of Nepal and India.
- This variety has been in cultivation since the original Buddhist period (600 BC). It is popular in Himalayan Tarai of Nepal i.e., Kapilvastu, and eastern Uttar Pradesh, where it is known as the scented black pearl.
- It was featured in the book Speciality rices of the world by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Bio fortified foodgrains:
- Biofortification is the idea of breeding crops to increase their nutritional value. This can be done either through conventional selective breeding, or through genetic engineering.
- Biofortification differs from ordinary fortification because it focuses on making plant foods more nutritious as the plants are growing, rather than having nutrients added to the foods when they are being processed.
- Biofortification is seen as an upcoming strategy for dealing with deficiencies of micronutrients in low and middle-income countries.
- In the case of iron, the WHO estimated that biofortification could help curing the 2 billion people suffering from iron deficiency-induced anemia.
- Bio fortified rice is the most low cost, intensive and affordable way to address the nutrition challenge. Bio fortified rice can be produced in bulk and it is not cost intensive.
Section: Human Geography
- The United Nations Report has said that by 2046 it is likely that elderly population will have surpassed the population of children (aged 0 to 15 years) in the country.
Details of the report:
- Report title: India Ageing Report 2023
- Published by: United Nations Population Fund, India (UNFPA)
- The report used data from the 2011 Census, the 2017-18 Longitudinal Ageing Survey in India (LASI) conducted by the Health Ministry, population projections of the Government of India and the World Population Projection 2022 report, among other sources.
- Decadal growth rate of the elderly population of India is 41%.
- The percentage of elderly population in the country is projected to double to over 20% of total population by 2050.
Key findings of the report:
Over 40% poorest:
- More than 40% of the elderly in India are in the poorest wealth quintile, with about 18.7% of them living without an income. This may affect their quality of life and healthcare utilization.
- The population of people aged 80+ years will grow at a rate of around 279% between 2022 and 2050 with a “predominance of widowed and highly dependent very old women” – a finding in line with the pattern across several nations.
- Women had higher life expectancy at the age of 60 and at the 80 compared to men — with variations across States and Union Territories.
Higher life expectancy:
- Life expectancy of women at 60 years is greater than 20 years in States such as Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, and the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir, raising concerns about their social and economic well-being.
- The sex ratio (females per 1,000 males) among the elderly has been climbing steadily since 1991, with the ratio in the general population stagnating. Between 2011 and 2021, the ratio increased in India as a whole and across all regions, barring the Union Territories and western India.
- In the northeast and the east, while the sex ratio of the elderly increased, it remained below 1,000 in both years.
- In central India the sex ratio went from 973 in 2011 to 1,053 in 2021.
Life expectancy at 60 years differentiated by gender across states
- Poverty is inherently gendered in old age when older women are more likely to be widowed, living alone, with no income and with fewer assets of their own, and fully dependent on family for support.
- Major challenges include the feminisation and ruralisation of this older population.
- Most States in the southern region and select northern States such as Himachal Pradesh and Punjab reported a higher share of the elderly population than the national average in 2021, a gap that is expected to widen by 2036.
Projected share of the elderly population:
- While States reporting higher fertility rates and lagging in demographic transition, including Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, expect to see an increase in the share of the elderly population between 2021 and 2036, the level will remain lower than the Indian average.
- Compared with southern and western India, central and northeastern regions have the younger group of States as indicated by the aging index.
Old-age dependency ratio across states:
- In the southern region, the old-age dependency ratio (elderly people per 100 people between 15 and 59 years) was higher than the national average at around 20 as is true of western India at 17. Overall, Union Territories (13) and the north-eastern region (13) reflected lower old age dependency ratios.
Government aid to elderly populations:
- While most said they received state aid, this was not enough; that there were no accessible public healthcare facilities; and that nobody except NGOs or CBOs (community-based organisations) helped them.
Subject : History
Section: Art and Culture
Context: TN Govt appoints 15 Odhuvars, of which 5 are women.
Who are Odhuvars?
- Odhuvars are devotional singers dedicated to Siva Temples.
- They sing the sacred Thevaram hymns as musical offerings to the Deity as part of the structured temple worship.
- Rigorous training in the Thirumurai texts and Thevaram music is imparted to them at an early age.
- They have to sing from the Thirumurai during each puja and also during special functions and festivals.
- In the past, they were supported with honorariums by Kings.
What is Thevaram and Thirumurai?
- Thevaram are hymns sung by Saivite Saints roughly 1,300 years ago.
- Thevaram denotes the first seven volumes of the twelve-volume collection Tirumurai, a Shaiva narrative of epic and Puranic heroes, as well as a hagiographic account of early Saiva saints set in devotional poetry.
- The Thevaram volumes contain the works of the three most prominent Shaiva Tamil poets of the 7th and 8th centuries: Sambandar, Appar, and Sundarar.
- Consisting of 800 sacred hymns to the Hindu God Shiva, Tevaram dates back to the 7th and 8th century.
Subject : History
Section: Ancient India
Context: The Supreme Court ordered status quo regarding appointment of archakas (priests) in Tamil Nadu temples governed by the Agamic tradition.
- The plea urged the court to quash all consequential orders by which the state attempted to interfere with the hereditary scheme of appointing archakas of a particular denomination in Agama temples by throwing it open to those from other denominations, too, who had done a one-year certificate course for archakas in schools run by the government.
- It pointed out that “prominent Shaivite and Vaishnavite temples in Tamil Nadu were built according to Agamas and worship therein is as per Agamas”.
- The plea contended that despite rulings by SC and Madras HC, the state government “in scant regard for law, is now attempting to appoint non-believers as archakas, only with a view to destroy temples in the state. It is well settled that a secular Government does not have the power to interfere with essential religious practices, as such a right is well protected under the Constitution of India. Agamas undoubtedly pertains to an essential religious practice, which cannot be tampered with by a secular Government”.
- It added that experience in Agamas is not secured by one year certificate courses but by years of rigorous training under learned Gurus.
Who are Archakas (Priests)?
- It is derived from the word archa meaning to adore, worship, praise, sing, or salute with honor and respect.
- Archana is the act of worship and archaka is the worshipper.
- Archi means an emanation or a ray of light, or flame.
- They obtain Deekshai or Samskara (initiation) from their Guru/Acharya, who is most often their respective fathers, at a very early age viz. between five and seven years and undergo rigorous Vedic education for a minimum period of three years.
- Thereafter, they are groomed to perform Poojas and Homams for another three to five years before taking over as Archakas.
- An archaka is one who worships an archa, meaning an image of God.
- In traditional Vaishnavism, an archa is a living incarnation of God in image form.
- The archa itself may be made of stone, wood, clay, gemstones, gold, silver, bronze, or alloys, but will be treated as an embodiment of God.
- In Vaishnavism an archaka is verily considered, without any doubt, Hari himself (archakastu hari sakshat chara rupi na samsayah).
- We find a similar approach in Saivism also.
- In terms of importance, the archakas occupy the foremost place in society because by worshipping the deities properly as stipulated in the scriptures, and keeping them happy, they prevent misfortune and calamities befalling upon people and ensure peace, prosperity, and welfare of all.
Worship in Hinduism:
- In Hinduism worshippers can worship their personal deities externally (bahya) with specific prayers and offerings or internally (antah) with visualization.
- Spiritually, the mental worship (manasa puja) is considered more effective.
- A devotee may perform the external worship either directly without any intermediary or indirectly with the help of a trained priest.
- He may also conduct the worship at home, in a temple or at a sacred place.
- Traditionally, worship in Hindu temples is performed by priests, who are known as archakas and yajakas.
- In Vaishnava temples, you invariably need the assistance of a priest to worship the deities.
- However, in Saiva temples, you can either worship the deity directly or with the help of a temple priest.
- The priests also have several local or vernacular titles such as pujari, devaswami, maharaj, etc.
What are Agamas and Tantras?
- Agamas and Tantras are a vast collection of knowledge and form a major portion of spiritual literature and practices.
- Like the Veda, they have come down through Guru-Shishya parampara, in oral traditions.
- Agamas form the base for many of the popular as well as specialist aspects of Hinduism.
- The word Agama means ‘that which has come to (us)’.
- Tantra means ‘that which protects with detail’.
- Sruti, the eternal word, is said to be of two forms – Nigama (Veda) and Agama.
- Agama and Tantra are in general grouped under the same class of literature.
- There are three main classes of Agamic/Tantric texts:
Saiva Agamas and
Sakta Tantras, though not limited to these.
- The Vaishnava and Saiva texts are generally called Agamas, while the word Tantra in general applies to Sakta texts.
- However, technically Tantra is a part of Agama and owing to the centrality of Tantra the two words are used often interchangeably.
- Agama Shastra is a manual for worship, rituals and construction of temples in Hinduism. In Sanskrit, agama means “handed down by tradition” and shastra refers to a commentary or treatise.
- The Agama texts are considered authoritative and hold significance in the appointment and training of temple priests.
- Agama Principles emphasize the importance of following precise rituals and procedures to maintain the sanctity and spiritual efficacy of the temple.
Agamas expound a variety of subjects and could be called the guides to a huge range of Hindu practices. They contain
- Manuals for worship
- Methods for salvation, Yoga
- Devata, Yantra
- Prayogas using various mantras
- Temple Building, Town planning
- Domestic practices and civil codes
- Social/Public festivals
- Holy Places
- Principles of Universe, Creation and Dissolution
- Spiritual Philosophy
- Austerities, and many other interrelated subjects.
What are the Legal and Historical Aspects of Temple Priest Appointments?
- Article 15 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. It states that the State shall not discriminate against any citizen on these grounds in matters of employment or access to public places.
- Also, states have the authority to regulate religious institutions and their affairs, including the appointment of temple priests. State legislation may prescribe qualifications, procedures, and eligibility criteria for such appointments.
- In many Hindu temples, the tradition of hereditary appointments has prevailed, where temple priesthood is passed down within specific families or castes.
- Temples often follow Agama scriptures that provide guidelines for temple rituals and practices.
- This practice is often based on the belief in ancestral knowledge and purity of lineage.
- However, in some regions open competitions or selection based on qualifications are also prevalent.
SC Judgements regarding Temple Priest Appointments
- Seshammal & others vs. State of Tamil Nadu (1972):
- The SC held that the appointment of an Archaka (temple priest) is a secular function, and the performance of religious service by the priests is an integral part of the religion.
- The court differentiated between the secular and religious aspects and stated that the prescription provided by the Agamas (scriptures) is significant only for the performance of the religious service.
- Any individual, regardless of caste or creed, can be appointed as an Archaka if they are well-versed and qualified in the Agamas and the rituals required for temple worship.
- Based on this decision of the SC, the Madras HC in this case has held that ancestry based on caste will have no role to play in the appointment of Archaka if the person so selected otherwise satisfies the requirements.
- N. Adithayan vs. Travancore Devaswom Board (2002):
- The SC rejected the customary claim that only Brahmins (in this case Malayala Brahmins) can perform rituals in temples.
- The court ruled that trained individuals qualified to perform the puja in an appropriate manner can carry out the rituals.
The SC emphasized that the restriction of only Brahmins performing rituals in certain temples was due to historical reasons, such as limited access to Vedic literature and sacred initiation.