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Swami Dayanand Saraswati

In Context

• The Prime Minister recently honoured Dayanand Saraswati on the 200th anniversary of his birth.

About Dayanand Saraswati

  •  Born Mul Shankar Tiwari, Swami Dayananda was a social reformer lauded for his efforts to combat social inequality and untouchability.
  • Birth: He was born on February 12, 1824, in Gujarat’s Tankara.
  • Education: He learnt Sanskrit and the Vedas in his childhood.
  •  He emphasised the value of education for all children and taught respect and equal rights for women.
  • • He spent 25 years as a travelling ascetic and travelled to the Himalayas, during which time he also began practising Yoga.
  • Additionally, he advocated against donating to priests. He also challenged established scholars and won disputes against them using the strength of the Vedas. • He was adamantly opposed to rituals and superstitions.
  • • He emphasised the importance of cows to the nation’s prosperity and promoted the use of Hindi for national integration.
  • Literary Works: He wrote numerous works. His most significant contribution is Satyartha Prakash. Other works include Sanskarvidhi and Rigved Bhashyam, among others.
  • Death: He was poisoned during his stay at the palace of the Maharaja of Jodhpur, Jaswant Singh II. He succumbed to the injury suffered at Ajmer, where he was sent for better treatment on 26th October 1883. He was 59.

Arya Samaj

  • • In 1875, he created Arya Samaj to combat socioeconomic inequality.
  • Through its emphasis on social reforms and education, Arya Samaj is claimed to have played a pivotal role in the social awakening.
  • Arya Samaj spearheaded a lengthy fight against untouchability and advocated for the blurring of caste lines.
  • • His slogan was “Return to the Vedas.”
  • He was unconcerned with the Puranas. Swami learned Vedanta from a blind instructor named Swami Virajananda in Mathura. His viewpoints were similar to Ram Mohan Roy’s.
  • The Arya Samaj’s social values include, among other things, God’s fatherhood and Man’s fraternity, gender equality, total justice, and fair play between man and man and country and nation.
  • Intercaste marriages were also promoted, as were widow remarriages.
  • Disbelief in polytheism and image worship, hostility to caste-based limitations, child marriage, opposition to the ban of sea journeys, and advocacy for female education and widow remarriage were all key programs shared by Brahmo Samaj and Arya Samaj members.

His Reform Movement

  • • He emphasised One God and condemned idolatry.
  • • He advocated against the elevated status of priests in Hinduism; he criticised the existence of multiple castes.
  •  He also founded Vedic schools for ladies and boys of all castes to receive an education.
  •  Dayanand anglovedic trust and Management society in Lahore in 1886 was an effort to unify the samaj and its activities.
  • They also worked for the protection of widows and other social work like providing relief to victims of natural or manmade calamities.
  • People he inspired include Shyamji Krishna Varma, MG Ranade, VD Savarkar, Lala Hardyal, Madan Lal Dhingra, Bhagat Singh and many others. He was also admired by Swami Vivekananda, Subhash Chandra Bose, Bipin Chandra Pal, Vallabhbhai Patel, Romain Rolland, etc.
  • According to S Radhakrishnan, some reforms included in the Indian Constitution were influenced by Dayananda.


India-Mongolia Relations

In Context

• The India-Mongolia Joint Working Group recently held its eleventh meeting.


• Both parties assessed the progress made on several bilateral defence cooperation initiatives, identified ways to strengthen existing areas of collaboration, and outlined next measures in this regard.

  • Despite the limits presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, both parties expressed pleasure with the ongoing defence cooperation between the two countries during the conference.

India-Mongolia Relations

  • Historical: 
  • Buddhism has brought India and Mongolia together throughout history. Certain Indian and Mongolian historians have hypothesised that some tribes from the Kangra kingdom migrated to Mongolia 10,000 years ago.
  • The Indian government took measures to facilitate visas and travel within India for Buddhist monks from Mongolia.
  • International Cooperation:
  • o Historically, Mongolia has supported India in the United Nations and other international forums. It has supported our 2011-2012 bid for a nonpermanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
  • In 1955, India established diplomatic ties with Mongolia. In 1971, the Indian Resident Mission in Ulaanbaatar was established.
  • Cultural Cooperation:
  • Mongolia voted in favour of the Indian proposal to include Yoga on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
  •  Since its signing in 1961, the India-Mongolia Agreement on Cultural Cooperation has overseen the Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) between the two countries.
  • India also supported adding the “Mongolian Traditional Custom to Worship Mountain and Ovoo” on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
  • Defence Cooperation:
    • There is an India-Mongolia Joint Working Group for Defence cooperation which meets annually.
  •  “Nomadic Elephant” is an annual joint India-Mongolia activity.
  •  Observers from the Indian Armed Forces participate annually in the multilateral peacekeeping exercise “Khan Quest” in Mongolia.
  • Energy Cooperation:
    • A Working Group for cooperation in the field of nuclear energy has been set up between the respective agencies of the two countries i.e. the Department of Atomic Energy and the Nuclear Energy Agency of Mongolia. 
    • An agreement for cooperation in the field of geology and mineral resources was signed in September 1996.
  • Commercial and Economic Relations:
  • · An Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation was concluded between India and Mongolia in 1996.
  • The Agreement grants each party Most-Favored-Nation (MFN) status with regard to import and export customs, tariffs, and all other taxes.
  •  Near Sainshand in the southern Dornogovi province of Mongolia, an India-built oil refinery with a capacity of 1.5 million metric tonnes was inaugurated in 2022 at a cost of more than $1 billion.
  • This refinery will meet 75% of Mongolia’s oil refining requirements.
  • Indian Diaspora:
    • The Indian community in Mongolia is small and most Indians are either employed in the organized sector or are self-employed such as operating Indian restaurants which are popular with the Mongols and foreigners in Mongolia. 
Mongolia: Key Facts

  • Capital: Ulaanbaatar
    • Political Boundaries: This country is landlocked in East Asia.
    • North: Russia
    • South: China
  • History:
    • o Mongolia was a Soviet Union satellite state, which aided its independence from China.
  •  It resulted in the establishment of a multi-party system, a new constitution in 1992, and the shift to a market economy.
  • Political: 
    • It is a semi-presidential representative democratic republic with a directly elected President.
  • Geographical Features: 
    • The entire nation of Mongolia is regarded as part of the Mongolian Plateau.
    • The highest point: 
      • The Khüiten Peak in the Tavan bogd massif 
      • The basin of Uvs Lake, which is shared by Russia’s Tuva Republic, is a natural World Heritage Site.
      • Uvs Lake:
    • • Uvs Lake is the largest lake in Mongolia by surface area.
    • • It is a severely salty lake in an endorheic basin.
    • It has the Gobi Desert to the south and cold, mountainous regions to the north and west. 
      • Gobi Desert:
        • The Gobi Desert is a vast, arid region in northern China and southern Mongolia. 
        •  It is famous for its dunes, mountains, and unique creatures including snow leopards and Bactrian camels.
  •  Climate: Mongolia is renowned as “Land of the Eternal Blue Sky” or “Country of Blue Sky” due to its more than 250 sunny days a year.

Source: PIB

3rd ASEAN Digital Ministers (ADGMIN) meeting

In News

• The third meeting of the ASEAN Digital Ministers (ADGMIN) with India was recently held on a virtual platform.


  • ASEAN Digital Ministers (ADGMIN) meeting is an annual meeting of telecom ministers of 10 ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) countries and dialogue partner countries.

• The third meeting of ministers approved the India-ASEAN Digital Work Plan 2023, which aims to build capacity and share knowledge in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) areas such as Artificial Intelligence in Cyber Security, Application of IoT & AI in Next Generation Smart City & Society 5.0, etc.

• The ongoing and planned ICT projects would boost collaboration between India and ASEAN by capitalising on their complementary strengths.


  • • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations was created in 1967 when the Bangkok Declaration was signed.
  • Currently, ASEAN consists of ten member states, including Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam, as well as founding members Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
  • • ASEAN aims to promote intergovernmental cooperation and facilitate economic, political, security, military, educational, and sociocultural integration among its members and other Asian nations.
  • Significance of ASEAN:
    • Convergence on Indo-Pacific: Engagement with ASEAN has been a critical element of India’s ‘Act East’ policy and ‘Indo-Pacific’ initiative.
    • Connectivity with NE: The connectivity initiatives with ASEAN nations, such as the KALADAN Multi Modal Project, keep Northeast India in the centre, assuring the economic development of the northeastern states.
    • Countering China: Improved ties with the ASEAN nations would act as a counter to China’s presence in the region.

Source: IE

Declining Kelp Forests

In News

• According to scientists, the decline of global kelp forests is 1.8% per year.

What are the Kelp Forests?

• Kelp forests are densely populated areas of kelp that cover a major portion of the world’s coastlines.

o Smaller regions of anchored kelp are referred to as kelp beds.

 • Kelp are not plants, but rather incredibly huge brown algae; kelp forests consist of numerous types of kelp.

Features of Kelp Forests

  • •Kelp flourishes in nutrient-rich, chilly waters.
  • kelp forests are always coastal and require shallow, somewhat clear water because kelp adheres to the seafloor and eventually grows to the water’s top and relies on sunlight to generate food and energy.
  • Growth:
    • Some kelp species can measure up to 150 feet (45 m) long. If living in ideal physical conditions, kelp can grow 18 inches (45 cm) a day.
  • Habitat:
  • o Kelps are typically found farther from the tropics than coral reefs, mangrove forests, and warm-water seagrass beds; hence, kelp forests do not overlap with these systems.
  • Global presence:
    • Kelp forests grow predominantly along the Eastern Pacific Coast, from Alaska and Canada to the waters of Baja, California. 

Significance of the Kelp Forests

  •  Kelps cover 25 percent of the world’s coastlines and provide food and shelter for fish, invertebrates, and marine animal species.
  •  • According to scientists, kelps also provide essential functions such as carbon sequestration and erosion prevention.
  • Giant Kelp:
    •  Giant kelp is harvested from kelp forests and used as a binding agent in products like ice cream, cereal, ranch dressing, yogurt, toothpaste, lotion and more.

Threats to Kelp Forest

  • Climate change and human-induced stressors:
  •  Kelps are increasingly threatened by climate change, eutrophication, and shoreline development, as well as other stressors caused by humans.
  •  Kelp forests are negatively impacted by destructive fishing techniques, coastal pollution, and unintentional harm caused by boat entanglement.
  • Warming of oceans:
    • Warmer than normal summers and seasonal changes to currents that bring fewer nutrients to kelp forests combine to weaken kelps and threaten their survival in some years. 
  • Bryozoa:
  •  One such hazard is posed by bryozoa, which are moss-like animals that form mats on kelps. They cause the seaweed to drop to the ocean floor and decompose.
  • The bryozoa epidemic can be attributed to high temperatures since high temperatures and kelp density lead to an increase in bryozoa.
  • Dense kelp beds in warmer, less wave-exposed locations are more prone to bryozoan outbreaks.’
  • Storms: 
    • Strong individual storms can wipe out large areas of kelp forest, by ripping the kelp plants from the seafloor. 
Marine Ecology in India:

  • About:
    •  Marine life in India is found in a variety of habitats, including brackish lagoons, estuaries, coastal marshes, and mudflats, as well as mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, coral reefs, and sandy and stony beaches.
  •  In addition to the diverse species seen at these places, these ecosystems support about 30 percent of India’s coastal population.
  • Threats:
    • These ecosystems and the marine life encompassed within face a range of threats that includes rapid habitat degradation, drastic population declines from unsustainable harvesting of at-risk species, the incidental capture of megafauna, and climate change.

Marine protected areas(MPAs) in India 

  • India is home to a vast and diverse marine ecosystem that sustains numerous species of fish, mammals, birds, and other marine organisms. 
  • In recognition of the critical importance of the marine environment, India has established a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) aimed at conserving and sustainably managing its marine resources.
  •  In India, marine protected areas (MPAs) are geographical regions set aside for the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biodiversity.
  • These areas are designated for the protection and preservation of their distinctive ecosystems and the dependent species.
  • India has enacted legislation for coastal and marine conservation including:
    •  Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 1991
    •  Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
    • 2002 National Biodiversity Act
  •  The Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 allows state governments to establish protected zones.
  • Examples of important MPAs in India: 
    • Gulf of Kachchh Marine National Park, Gulf of Mannar National Park, Sundarbans National Park and Wandoor Marine National Park.

Way ahead

• Although in situ preservation is unlikely to arrest the collapse of back edge kelp populations under warming scenarios, their distinctive genetic diversity might be maintained and researched ex situ in culture banks for use in restoration, hybridization, or assisted adaptation efforts.

Source: DTE

Millet International Initiative for Research and Awareness (MIIRA)

In News

• India intends to establish a global project titled “MIIRA” or Millet International Initiative for Research and Awareness for the coordination of millet research activities worldwide.


  • The millet research programs will coordinate millet research programmes at the international level.

• The Indian Institute of Millet Research in Hyderabad will be supported as the Center of Excellence for sharing best practises, research, and technologies at the international level.

 • The Indian Institute of Millet Research in Hyderabad will be supported as the Center of Excellence for sharing best practises, research, and technologies at the international level.

• The Indian Institute of Millet Research in Hyderabad will be supported as the Center of Excellence for sharing best practises, research, and technologies at the international level.


  • These small-grained grains require less water than rice and wheat and are primarily cultivated in rain-fed regions.
  • Major millet crops: sorghum (jowar), pearl millet (bajra), foxtail millet (kangni/Italian millet), and finger millet (ragi/mandua).
  • • Bajra, jowar, and ragi account for less than 7 percent of India’s total planted acreage, making them the “Nutri Cereals” according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
  • India is the largest producer of millet in the world. 

• It accounts for twenty percent of global production and eighty percent of Asian production. India, Nigeria, and China are the world’s top millets producers, accounting for more than 55 percent of global production.

Steps taken towards promoting millets

• The Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has launched multiple contests on the MyGov platform to increase awareness of the benefits of millets.

•Millets and the two pseudo millets buckwheat (kuttu) and amaranth (chaulai) were designated as “Nutri Cereals” by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2018 due to their “excellent nutritional content.”

Source: IE


In News

In the Sand Hills of north-central Nebraska, scientists have discovered a new type of quasicrystal.


• Prior to 1982, physicists assumed that every crystalline arrangement of atoms had a repeating pattern. However, material scientist Dan Shechtman discovered mathematically regular crystal forms that do not repeat.

• The first two quasicrystals were discovered in a Russian meteorite and in debris from the world’s first nuclear explosion in New Mexico, both of which were subjected to extreme high-pressure and high-temperature occurrences.

• This is only the third time that scientists have found a quasicrystal in nature; it was created by a lightning strike in a wind-formed dune.

• The discovered quasicrystal has a dodecagonal or 12-sided atomic structure, which is unusual compared to previously discovered and lab-grown quasicrystals with five-fold symmetric patterns.


• A quasicrystal is a crystal-like substance in which the atoms are arranged in a pattern that does not repeat itself regularly.

• Unlike crystals, which have a repeating pattern of atoms, quasicrystals have a more complex and non-repeating arrangement of atoms, which makes them difficult to synthesise.

• Quasicrystals have been utilised in the production of non-stick frying pans, acupuncture needles, dentistry equipment, and razor blades.

• Quasicrystals are easily generated in labs and contain unusual electrical, photonic, and mechanical properties, making them appealing to materials scientists.

Source: TH

Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP)

In News

• The federal government has proposed a megaproject to combine two projects: the Parbati-Kalisindh-Chambal River Link and the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP).


  • • This initiative aims to gather excess water available during the monsoon season in southern Rajasthan and use it in the water-scarce areas of the state’s south-eastern region.
  • Districts covered: Jhalawar, Baran, Kota, Bundi, Sawai Madhopur, Ajmer, Tonk, Jaipur, Karauli, Alwar, Bharatpur, Dausa, and Dholpur. Only the Chambal River basin contains surplus water among the state’s water bodies, but this water cannot be accessed directly because the area surrounding the Kota barrage is a crocodile sanctuary.
  • Components of the project will include diversion structures, intra-basin water transfers, connecting channels, and the construction of pumping main feeder channels to establish a network of water channels.
  • The Rajasthan government has earlier requested an allocation of Rs 13,000 crore for the ERCP in its state budget; however, the state wants the Centre to split the cost of the project and proclaim it a national project with a 90:10 cost-sharing ratio.
  •  Although the project was approved by the National Water Commission in 2017, the Jal Shakti Ministry of the central government has placed it on hold until “inter-state difficulties” between Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are handled.
  • Source: IE

Market Access Initiative (MAI)

In News

In the presence of international buyers and exhibitors, the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) launched the first edition of upnext India 2023.


• This programme consists of a series of Reverse Buyer Seller Meets titled “UPNEXT INDIA.”

  • The Reverse Buyer Seller Meet is designed to allow prospective importers (Buyers) to connect with their Indian counterparts (Sellers) about the requirements, as opposed to sellers going to buyers to market their products.

• Upnext India is organised by AEPC and supported by the Market Access Initiative (MAI) Scheme of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry.

Market Access Initiative (MAI)

It’s an Export Promotion Program. The plan intends to function as a catalyst to sustainably promote India’s exports. The strategy is created using a product- and country-centric approach. It will develop specialised markets and goods through market research and analysis.

Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC)

• Established in 1978, AEPC is the official body of apparel exporters in India, providing crucial help to both Indian exporters and importers/international customers who chose India as their preferred sourcing destination for apparel.

Source: PIB