UNESCO picks Srinagar as ‘creative city’


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has picked up Srinagar among 49 cities as part of the creative city network under the Crafts and Folk Arts category.


GS-I: Art and Culture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN)
  2. Why was Srinagar chosen as the Creative City for Crafts and Folk Arts?
  3. About the significance of Srinagar’s inclusion to the UCCN
  4. Which Indian cities have been recognized under UNESCO Creative Cities Network?

About UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN)

  • The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) is a project of UNESCO launched in 2004 to promote cooperation among cities which recognized creativity as a major factor in their urban development.
  • The network aims to foster mutual international cooperation with and between member cities committed to invest in creativity as a driver for sustainable urban development, social inclusion and cultural vibrancy.
  • UNESCO designates the creative cities in seven fields —
    1. Craft,
    2. Folk Art,
    3. Media Arts,
    4. Film Design,
    5. Gastronomy,
    6. Literature and
    7. Music.
  • The overall situation and activities within the Network is reported in the UCCN Membership Monitoring Reports, each for a 4-year period for a particular city.
  • The Network recognizes the concept of creative tourism, defined as travel associated with creative experience and participation.

Why was Srinagar chosen as the Creative City for Crafts and Folk Arts?

  • Srinagar has qualified because of its craft and folk arts, which is an intrinsic part of its tourism, besides the breathtaking beauty of the city itself.
  • Srinagar is celebrated for its traditional Kashmiri handicrafts like shawls, and also dried fruits.
  • Tourists from all over the world come to this city in search of Pashmina shawls, carpets, hand-woven rugs, woolen items, embroidered jackets, Phirhan, scarves, wood carvings, etc.
  • Traditionally, the designs are heavily influenced by Persian, Mughal and even Tibetan art forms.
  • The city is also famous for its papier-mâché craft, which is also quite popular in nearby districts of Kupwara, Baramulla, Budgam and Anantnag. It is said that it is the Sakhtasaz who makes the items with paper pulp, and Naqqashi then does the painting and ornamentation. While the Sakhta work is traditionally done by Sunni artisans located in the Naupura locality, the Naqqashi craftsmen are Shias based in Zadibal, Kamangarpura and Hasanabad.
  • The city also boasts of many performing arts including the traditional Bhand Pather — a type of theater where dance and play is combined in satire form.
  • Chakri is a popular traditional music here, which involves instruments like sarangi, graha, rabab and harmonium.

About the significance of Srinagar’s inclusion to the UCCN

  • The inclusion of Srinagar in the creative city network for the arts and crafts of UNESCO has paved a way for it to represent its handicrafts on the global stage through the international body.
  • The nomination by UNESCO is also the global recognition of the rich craft legacy of Srinagar.
  • It will further help in attracting Craft Connoisseurs to Jammu & Kashmir and particularly Srinagar.

Which Indian cities have been recognized under UNESCO Creative Cities Network?

Before 2019, only three cities in India have been recognized as the members of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network for the Creative Cities namely:

  1. Jaipur (Crafts and Folk Arts) in 2015,
  2. Varanasi (Creative City of Music) in 2015,
  3. Chennai (Creative City of Music) in 2017,
  4. Mumbai (Creative City of Film) in 2019 and
  5. Hyderabad (Creative City of Gastronomy) in 2019.
  6. Srinagar (Crafts and Folk Arts) in 2021.

For 2020, UNESCO had not called for the applications for the Creative City Network.

-Source: The Hindu

India now ahead of China in financial inclusion metrics


State Bank of India (SBI) research report on financial inclusion metrics in India shows that India is now ahead of China in financial inclusion metrics.


GS-III: Indian Economy (Growth & Development, Mobilization of Resources, Issues Relating to Development), GS-II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What does Financial Inclusion mean?
  2. About India’s Financial Inclusion performance
  3. Steps taken by India for improving Financial Inclusion
  4. What is the BC Model?

What does Financial Inclusion mean?

  • Financial inclusion means the availability and equality of opportunities to access financial services. It refers to a process through which individuals and businesses can access appropriate, affordable and timely financial products and services.
  • The financial products and services include equity, banking, loan and insurance products.
  • The efforts to broaden financial inclusion target those who are unbanked or underbanked and directs sustainable financial services to them.
  • Simply put, financial inclusion extends beyond opening a bank account, as it is possible for individuals with bank accounts to be excluded from financial services.
  • A more inclusive financial system is linked to stronger and more sustainable growth and development and that is why it has become a key priority for countries across the world.

About India’s Financial Inclusion performance

  • Major financial inclusion metrics like number of bank branches, number of banking outlets in villages/Banking Correspondents, no. of operating bank accounts, number of persons with deposit accounts at banks, mobile and Internet banking (digital) transactions have registered impressive improvements over the last five years (2015-2020).
  • Notably, almost two-thirds of the newly opened no-frills bank accounts are operational in rural and semi-urban areas.
  • Highlighting the social significance of financial inclusion, the report notes that States with higher financial inclusion/more bank accounts have also seen a perceptible decline in crime along with a meaningful drop in consumption of alcohol and tobaccos.
  • India’s performance in some of these metrics has been better compared with emerging economy peers and even some of the advanced economies, as per the report.
  • Boosted by PM Jan-Dhan Yojana, the number of bank branches per 100,000 adults in India rose to 14.7 in 2020 from 13.6 in 2015. It is higher than Germany, China and South Africa.
  • The Cash to GDP in % terms stands at 14.3% as of March 2021. This is higher than the pre-demonetisation phase where it stood at 11.9% in March 2016. This is an indicator of the Indian economy’s high dependence on cash.

Steps taken by India for improving Financial Inclusion

  • Financial inclusion policies have a multiplier effect on economic growth, reducing poverty and income inequality, while also being conducive for financial stability.
  • India has stolen a march in financial inclusion with the initiation of PMJDY accounts since 2014.
  • It was enabled by a robust digital infrastructure and also careful recalibration of bank branches and thereby using the BC model judiciously.
  • Such financial inclusion has also been enabled by use of digital payments.

What is the Banking Correspondent (BC) Model?

  • The report highlighted that the Banking Correspondent (BC) model in India is enabled to provide a defined range of banking services at low cost.
  • The new branch authorisation policy of 2017 –recognises BCs that provide banking services for a minimum of 4-hours per day and for at least 5-days a week as banking outlets.
  • The BCs are enabled to provide a defined range of banking services at low cost and hence are instrumental in promoting financial inclusion.
  • This has progressively done away the need to set up brick and mortar branches.

-Source: The Hindu

India hosting NSAs’ meeting on Afghanistan


India is hosting the ‘Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan’ at the level of National Security Advisors (NSAs) in November 2021.


GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbors, Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the NSA level meeting on Afghanistan
  2. About Pakistan and China’s negative response to the meeting

About the NSA level meeting on Afghanistan

  • The ‘Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan’ hosted by India will be held at the level of National Security Advisors (NSAs) and will be chaired by NSA of India – Ajit Doval.
  • India’s top security establishment, the National Security Council Secretariat, has taken the lead in organising the in-person meeting. Invitations were sent to Afghanistan’s neighbours such as Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, and other key players including Russia, and China.
  • India has taken this initiative to organise a conference of regional stakeholders and important powers on Afghanistan’s current situation and future outlook after the withdrawal of US forces and the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, India is concerned about security in the region.
  • This meeting could be India’s attempt to secure for itself a seat at the table to decide the future course of action on Afghanistan. The meeting also reflects the need to actively engage with the world to protect India’s security interests.
  • The Central Asian countries, as well as Russia and Iran, have confirmed participation. The enthusiastic response is a manifestation of the importance attached to India’s role in regional efforts to promote peace and security in Afghanistan.

About Pakistan and China’s negative response to the meeting

  • Pakistan’s National Security Advisor said that he would not attend the meeting, apparently to lodge a protest against India’s alleged negative role in Afghanistan.
  • China has also decided to skip a regional security meeting due to scheduling difficulties, but is open to maintaining discussions with India through bilateral channels.
  • India is of the view that the denial by Pakistan to attend this meeting reflects its mindset of viewing Afghanistan as its protectorate.

-Source: The Hindu

Defence Secretary on Maritime neighbors and security


Indian Defence Secretary’s address at the third edition of the Goa Maritime Conclave hosted by the Indian Navy included highlights on the need for India’s maritime neighbours to understand and be sensitive to India’s “legitimate maritime security concerns”.


GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbors), GS-III: Internal Security Challenges)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Goa Maritime Conclave (GMC) and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)
  2. India’s views on Maritime security concerns and neighbors
  3. India’s efforts in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)

India’s views on Maritime security concerns and neighbors

  • The theme for 2021 GMC is “Maritime security and emerging non-traditional threats: a case for proactive role for IOR Navies”.
  • India’s Defence Secretary warned against the unprecedented expansion of conventional Navies that could start a new era of arms race.
  • He also expressed concerns over the enhancement of maritime presence and passages in the Indian Ocean region. This was in reference to China which has not only increased its forays into the Indian Ocean Region, but has also set up a base in Djibouti and is expanding its Navy at an unprecedented rate.
  • He called on all the nations of the region to adhere to international rules and laws governing the seas and understand each other’s interests and sensitivities and act accordingly. He called on the participant nations to respect the legitimate maritime security concerns of India.
  • The Defence Secretary called for a free, open and inclusive Indian Ocean maritime region as a prerequisite for peace and prosperity of the region.

India’s efforts in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)

  • India has set up joint coastal radar surveillance systems in coordination with other countries in the region. It has also collaborated with other countries on information exchange for maritime domain awareness in the region and capacity building. Example – India’s Information Fusion Centre for IOR (IFC-IOR) located in Gurugram has several international liaison officers.
  • Indian Navy has been the first responder in case of natural disasters in the region. It has been working for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief in the region and has also been a net security provider for many small island nations in the region.
  • India has supplied essential maritime hardware like equipment, vessels and aircraft to friendly nations in the region.




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