GS Paper I- Indian Heritage and Culture.

Annual Konark Festival Begins In Style In Odisha.

Background-

  • The annual Konark festival got off to a glittering start on the eve of 1st December, 2017.
  • The five-day dance festival opened near the world famous Sun Temple of Konark with Odissi recital by the dancers of Nupur Dance Academy of Bhubaneswar under the tutelage of Niranjan Rout and group.
  • The opening show was followed by a scintillating performance by a dance troupe from Malaysia, The Temple of Fine Arts, which staged a Bharatanatyam recital.
  • Ten popular Indian classical dance troupes from India and abroad performed at the backdrop of the majestic Sun Temple during the festival.

Highlights Of The Development–

  • A major attraction was a show by Malaysia-based Odissi dancer Ramli Ibrahim who staged his production Ganjam on December 3.
  • Twenty-four member troupe of Ibrahims Sutra Foundation graced the stage to present a composition inspired by folk dances and music traditions of culturally rich Ganjam district of Odisha.
  • Coinciding with the dance extravaganza, an International Sand Art Festival also opened at Chandrabhaga beach in Konark.
  • Eight globally acclaimed sand sculptors and 62 national artists are exhibiting their works in the festival.
  • Odisha Tourism Development Corporation has designed special tour packages for the festival, the state government official said.
  • Visitors can undertake package trips to Sri Jagannath Temple at Puri, Raghurajpur craft village and also Chilika lake.

About The Festival-

  • The enthralling Konark Dance Festival is held every year, from 1st to 5th December in Open Air Auditorium, Konark, in the backdrop of the mammoth Sun Temple is co-organised by the Tourism Department and Odissi Research Centre way back in 1986, to provide a platform for classical dancers in India and as well as to act as showcase for India’s cultural depth where dance forms are concerned.
  • The Konark Dance Festival showcases the best of the traditional and classical dance forms of India, besides offering interesting insights into the rich cultural and dance heritage of the country like no one else. A solitary splendor par excellence, folklore and mythology have created layers of legends shrouding the genesis of this world heritage monument built in the 13th century A.D.

Sources- Indiatoday, Odishatourism.

 

GS Paper II- International Relations.

India And Singapore Ink Naval Pact.

 

Background

  • India and Singapore on 29th November, 2017 inked a naval pact to majorly crank up their maritime security cooperation with access to each other’s bases, while reiterating the need expansionist behavior in the Asia Pacific region.
  • The naval cooperation agreement to bolster maritime security, joint exercises, temporary deployments from each other’s naval facilities, and mutual logistics support was inked after the delegation-level talks between defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her Singapore counterpart Dr Ng Eng Hen.
  • Easy access to the Singapore port, with refueling and berthing facilities, will serve to enhance the operational reach of Indian warships and aircraft east of the Malacca Strait, which is a critical choke point for China’s ever-expanding energy supplies.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • It fits into India’s overall “Act East” policy to deepen military ties with ASEAN countries like Singapore, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia as a counter to China.
  • India, in turn, will provide naval practice and logistics facilities to Singapore, which will include live firing drills in the Andaman Sea, to add to similar services already being provided to the army and air force of the city-state for the last 10 years.
  • Appreciating India’s “leading role” in the Indian Ocean Region, Dr Ng said Singapore would “encourage” more Indian warships to come its shores, help in further securing the sea lanes of communication towards the Andaman Sea and the Strait of Malacca, expand and institutionalize maritime exercises with like-minded regional and ASEAN partners.
  • Sitharaman, in turn, said the two countries had decided to expand overall defence ties and were “strongly committed” to boosting cooperation in tackling transnational security threats, especially terrorism.
  • The two countries also decided to renew the bilateral army pact, under which facilities are provided to Singapore for exercises of mechanized forces at Babina and artillery at Deolali ranges, when it ends next year (2018). The bilateral air force one, under which F-16 fighters from Singapore regularly exercise at the Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal, was renewed for another five years in January this year (2017).
  • Singapore’s proposal to expand the “Code of Unplanned Encounters at Sea” to all ADMM-Plus (ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus) countries as well as to establish guidelines for air encounters between military aircraft in order to reduce the risk of miscalculations also figured in the discussions.

Sources- TOI.

 

GS Paper III- Environment.

ISA To Become Treaty-Based International Inter-Governmental Organization.

Background

  • India’s global initiative, the International Solar Alliance (ISA), which aims at increasing solar energy deployment in member countries, will become a treaty-based international intergovernmental organization on 6th December, 2017.
  • The ISA is an Indian initiative, jointly launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the president of France on 30 November 2015 in Paris, on the sidelines of COP-21, the UN climate conference.
  • It aims at addressing obstacles to deployment at scale of solar energy through better harmonization and aggregation of demand from solar rich countries lying fully or partially between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
  • Till date, 46 countries have signed and 19 countries have ratified the framework agreement of the ISA. The ISA interim secretariat has been operational as a de-facto organization since 25 January 2016.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • Three programmes—scaling solar applications for agriculture use, affordable finance at scale, and scaling solar mini-grids—have been launched. These programmes will help in achieving the overall goal of increasing solar energy deployment in ISA member countries for achieving universal energy access and speeding up economic development. Further, the ISA has also been developing a common risk mitigating mechanism (CRMM) for de-risking and reducing the financial cost of solar projects in ISA member countries.
  • The instrument will help diversify and pool risks on mutual public resources and unlock significant investments. An international expert group has been working on the blueprint of the mechanism and it will be rolled out by December 2018. The Paris Declaration, establishing the ISA, states that the countries share the collective ambition to undertake innovative and concerted efforts for reducing the cost of finance and cost of technology for immediate deployment solar generation assets.
  • This will pave the way for future solar generation, storage and good technologies for each prospective member country’s individual needs, by effectively mobilizing more than $1,000 billion in investments that will be required by 2030. India has offered to meet ISA secretariat expenses for the initial five years.
  • In addition, India has set aside $2 billion for solar projects in Africa out of the $10 billion concessional line of credit for the continent. France has also earmarked a €300 million soft loan for solar-related projects in ISA member countries.

Sources- Livemint.