GS Paper I- Indian Heritage, Culture and History.

Somnath Temple.

History of the temple

  • According to popular tradition documented by J. Gordon Melton, the first Siva temple at Somanath is believed to have been built at some unknown time in the past. The second temple is said to have been built at the same site by the “Yadava kings” of Vallabhi around 649 CE. In 725 CE, Al-Junayd, the Arab governor of Sindh is said to have destroyed the second temple as part of his invasions of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The Gurjara-Pratihara king Nagabhata II is said to have constructed the third temple in 815 CE, a large structure of red sandstone.
  • The Chaulukya (Solanki) king Mularaja possibly built the first temple at the site sometime before 997 CE, even though some historians believe that he may have renovated a smaller earlier temple. In 1024, during the reign of Bhima I, the prominent Turkic ruler Mahmud of Ghazni raided Gujarat, plundering the Somnath temple and breaking its jyotirlinga. He took away a tax of 20 million dinars. Historians expect the damage to the temple to have been minimal because there are records of pilgrimages to the temple in 1038, which make no mention of any damage to the temple.
  • The temple at the time of Mahmud’s attack appears to have been a wooden structure, which is said to have decayed in time (kalajirnam). Kumarapala (r. 1143–72) rebuilt it in “excellent stone and studded it with jewels,” according to an inscription in 1169. In 1299, Alauddin Khilji’s army under the leadership of Ulugh Khan defeated Karandev II of the Vaghela dynasty, and sacked the Somnath temple. Kanhadadeva the Raja of Jalore later defeated the Khilji army, recovered the broken pieces of the lingam and freed the prisoners. The temple was rebuilt by Mahipala Deva, the Chudasama king of Saurashtra in 1308 and the lingam was installed by his son Khengar sometime between 1326 and 1351.

somnath-temple

About the Temple-

  • The Somnath temple located in Prabhas Patan near Veraval in Saurashtra on the western coast of Gujarat, is believed to be the first among the twelve jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva.
  • It is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot of Gujarat. Destroyed and reconstructed several times in the past, the present temple was reconstructed in Chalukya style of Hindu temple architecture and completed in May 1951.
  • The reconstruction was envisioned by Vallabhbhai Patel and was completed under K. M. Munshi, the then head of the temple trust.

Importance of the Temple-

  • The temple is considered sacred due to the various legends connected to it. Somnath means “Lord of the Soma”, an epithet of Shiva.
  • According to tradition, the Shivalinga in Somnath is one of the twelve jyotirlingas in India, where Shiva is believed to have appeared as a fiery column of light. The jyotirlingas are taken as the supreme, undivided reality out of which Shiva partly appears.
  • Each of the twelve jyotirlinga sites take the name of a different manifestation of Shiva. At all these sites, the primary image is a lingam representing the beginning-less and endless stambha (pillar), symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva.
  • The site of Somnath has been a pilgrimage site from ancient times on account of being a Triveni sangam (the confluence of three rivers — Kapila, Hiran and the mythical Sarasvati).

Sources- Wikipedia.

 

GS Paper II- Governance, Constitution, Polity.

Election for India’s Vice-President to be held on August 5, 2017

Background

  • The elections for the 13th Vice-President of India will be held on 5 August. Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said notification for the election will be issued on 4 July and nominations can be submitted by 18 July. Zaidi was speaking at a conference held at Nirvachan Sadan in New Delhi.
  • The scrutiny will take place on 18 July and the last date for withdrawing nomination is 21 July, he said. He said if polling is required, it will take place on 5 August and the counting will also take place on the same day. Members of Parliament will use special pens for marking their choice, Zaidi said on Thursday while announcing the schedule.
  • The term of the present incumbent Hamid Ansari, who has held the post for two consecutive terms, is coming to an end on 10 August. It is reported that the new Vice-President is likely to be sworn in on 11 August.
  • The electoral  college which elects the Vice President, who is also the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, consists of elected and nominated members of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. The total strength of the two Houses is 790, but there are some vacancies.

About the Post of the Vice-President-

  • The Vice-President of India is the second-highest constitutional office in India, after the President. Article 63 of Indian Constitution states that “there shall be a Vice-President of India.”
  • The Vice-President acts as President in the absence of the President due to death, resignation, impeachment, or other situations. The Vice-President of India is also ex officio Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha.
  • When a bill is introduced in Rajya Sabha, vice-president decides whether it is a financial bill or not. If he is of the opinion, a bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha is a money bill, he would refer the case to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha for deciding it.
  • Article 66 of the Indian Constitution states the manner of election of the Vice-President.
  • The Vice-President is elected indirectly by members of an electoral college consisting of the members of both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the system of Proportional Representation by means of the Single transferable vote and the voting is by secret ballot conducted by election commission.

Key Aspects of the Election Process-

  • The Vice-President is elected indirectly, by an electoral college consisting of members {elected as well as nominated} of both houses of the Parliament.
  • The nomination of a candidate for election to the office of the Vice-President must be subscribed by at least 20 electors as proposers and 20 electors as seconders. Every candidate has to make a security deposit of Rs.15,000 in the Reserve Bank of India.
  • The Election Commission of India, which is a constitutional autonomous body, conducts the election. The election is to be held no later than 60 days of the expiry of the term of office of the outgoing Vice-President.
  • The election is proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote by secret ballot. Voters stack-rank the candidates, assigning 1 to their first preference, 2 to their second preference, and so on. The number of votes required by a candidate to secure the election is calculated by dividing the total number of votes by two, and adding one to the quotient by disregarding any remainder.
  • After the election has been held and the votes counted, the Returning Officer declares the result of the election to the electoral college. Thereafter, he/she reports the result to the Central Government (Ministry of Law and Justice) and the Election Commission of India and the Central Government publishes the name of the person elected as Vice-President, in the Official Gazette.

Sources- Firstpost, Wikipedia.

 

GS Paper III- Technology, Economic Development.

Communication satellite GSAT-17 launched from French Guiana.

Background

  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)’s latest communication satellite GSAT-17 was Thursday successfully launched around 2.00 am by a heavy duty rocket of Arianespace from the spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana.
  • Configured around I-3K extended bus, the 3,477 kg GSAT-17 carries payloads in Normal C-band, Extended C-band and S-band to provide various communication services.
  • The satellite also carries equipment for meteorological data relay and satellite-based search and rescue services being provided by earlier INSAT satellites.

gsat-17

Key Aspects of the Launch –

  • GSAT-17, the country’s newly launched communication satellite, will soon join the fleet of 17 working Indian communication satellites in space and augment their overall capacity to some extent.
  • The 3,477-kg spacecraft was released into a temporary orbit in space as planned at 2.45 a.m. IST on Thursday about 39 minutes after launch from the European space port of Kourou in French Guiana. It was dusk at the South American near-equatorial space port.
  • GSAT-17 was sent up as the second passenger on the European booster, Ariane-5 ECA VA-238, according to ISRO and the European launch company Arianespace.
  • GSAT-17, built mainly for broadcasting, telecommunication and VSAT services, carries over 40 transponders. It also has equipment to aid meteorology forecasts and search and rescue operations across the sub-continent.
  • “GSAT-17 is designed to provide continuity of services of operational satellites in C, extended C and S bands,” ISRO said.
  • The satellite was released into what is called a temporary `geosynchronous transfer orbit’ or GTO, where it started orbiting distant 249 km at the near end to Earth and 35,920 km at the farthest point.
  • Its operations were immediately taken over by the spacecraft command team at the ISRO Master Control Facility in Hassan.
  • “Preliminary health checks of the satellite revealed its normal functioning. In the coming days, orbit raising manoeuvres will be performed to place GSAT-17 in the geostationary orbit (36,000 km above the equator) by using the satellite’s propulsion system in steps,” ISRO said.
  • It normally takes around two weeks to reach and settle in its planned slot over India at 93.5° East longitude. Meanwhile its various functional appendages such as antennas and solar arrays are deployed.
  • The spacecraft was approved in May 2015 with an outlay of ₹1,013 crore, including its launch fee and insurance.
  • Its co-passenger was the 5,700-kg Hellas Sat 3-Inmarsat S EAN shared by two satellite operators.
  • ISRO Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar has earlier said they need double the number of communication spacecraft to support various users across the country.
  • Designed and assembled at the ISRO Satellite Centre in Bengaluru, GSAT-17 has been at the Kourou space port since May 15, undergoing pre-launch checks and tests. Project Director Prakash Rao and a rotating team of over 20 ISRO engineers were attending to it during the period.

Sources- The Hindu, Indianexpress.