Keeladi Findings

In News

  • Recently, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has presented a report on the findings at the Sangam-era site of Keeladi and their significance.


  • Keeladi is a village in south Tamil Nadu along the Vaigai river near the temple city of Madurai


  • In the eight rounds of excavations, over 18,000 artifacts have been unearthed from the site.
    • Over 120 potsherds containing Tamil Brahmi inscriptions have been found.
    • Spindle whorls, copper needles, terracotta seal, hanging stones of the yarn, terracotta spheres and earthen vessels to hold liquid suggest various stages of a weaving industry
    • Gold ornaments, copper articles, semi-precious stones, shell bangles, ivory bangles and ivory combs reflect the artistic, culturally rich and prosperous lifestyle of the Keeladi people

Significance of findings 

  • Keeladi and Sangam age:
    • Keeladi’s excavations from 2015 prove that an urban civilisation existed in Tamil Nadu in the Sangam age on the banks of the Vaigai river.
    • The unearthed artifacts from Keeladi belong to a period between sixth century BCE and first century BCE.These  findings pushed the Sangam age to 800 BCE .
    • Keeladi  adds to the credibility of Sangam Literature.
  • Keeladi and IVC:
    • The unearthed Keeladi artifacts have led to conclusion that the site is a  part of the Vaigai Valley Civilisation
    • some of the symbols found in pot sherds of Keeladi bear a close resemblance to signs of Indus Valley 
  • Academics while acknowledging the cultural gap of 1,000 years between the two places, hope that further excavations give a clearer picture about the south indian iron age  that currently  links both.
Archaeological Survey of India:The ASI is the premier organization for the archaeological research and protection of the cultural heritage of the country.It functions under the Ministry of Culture.The prime objection of ASI is to maintain the archaeological sites, ancient monuments, and remains of national importance.It regulates all archaeological activities as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.It also regulates the Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.Sangam AgeThe area lying to the south of river Krishna and Tungabhadra experienced  a period between the 3rd century B.C. and 3rd century A.D. known as the Sangam Period.It has been named after the gathering of poets (Sangam) held during that period under the royal patronage of the Pandya kings of Madurai.The sources for this age are largely literary, though archaeological evidence has started to come up.Kharavela’s Hatigumpha inscription (155 BCE) provides the earliest epigraphic evidence referring to a confederacy of Tamil states.Vaigai RiverIt originates in the Western Ghats (Varushanad Hills).It travels through the Pandya Nadu region of Tamil Nadu.Its main tributaries are Suruliyaru, Mullaiyaru, Varaganadhi, Manjalaru, Kottagudi, Kridhumaal and Upparu.The Vaigai  finally empties into the Palk Strait near the Pamban Bridge in Ramanathapuram district.

Classical Dance Forms of India

In News

  • Classical dance Mohiniyattam legend Kanak Rele has passed away. 


  • She was awarded the first Guru Gopinath National Puraskaram of the Government of Kerala.
  • She created another record by earning her Ph.D in dance, the first in India, in 1977.
  • Later in 2013, Dr. Rele was conferred the Padma Bhushan.

Classical Dance Forms of India

  • The earliest treatise on dance is Bharat Muni’s Natyashastra, the sourcebook of the art of drama, dance, and music. It is generally accepted that the date of the work is between the 2nd-century B.C.E- 2nd-century C.E. 
  • There are eight classical dance forms  – Bharata Natyam, Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Kathak, Manipuri, Kuchipudi, Odissi, and Sattriya. 
  • The Sangeet Natak Academy recognizes eight classical dance forms. Additionally, the Indian Ministry of Culture includes Chhau as a semi-classical dance form.
  • Bharatanatyam, Tamil Nadu (Southern India): Bharatanatyam has grown out of the art of dancers dedicated to temples, and was earlier known as Sadir or Dasi Attam. It is the first of India’s traditional dances to be refashioned as a theatre art. The musicians include at least one vocalist, a Mridangam (drum)-player, and a flutist or violinist or Veena (lute)-player.
  • Manipuri Dance, Manipur (North-eastern India): It evolved in Manipur, is anchored in the Vaishnava faith of the Manipur valley. Manipuri dance is introverted and restrained compared to most other dances of India – the artist never establishes eye contact with the audience. The Pung, a drum, and flute are the principal instruments used in Manipuri dance.
  • Kathak (Northern India): It is the principal dance of northern India, and is widely practised in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, and even parts of western and eastern India. It is believed to be connected with the narrative art of Kathakaras or story-tellers. The music of traditional Kathak consists of the Thumri and other lyrical song-forms, and the essential musical instruments are the Tabla, Pakhawaj, and Sarangi.
  • Odissi Dance, Orissa (Eastern India): It was performed as part of temple service by ‘maharis’ or female temple servants. The traditional dance was remodeled as a theatre art towards the middle of the twentieth century. The dancer is supported by a singer, a drummer who plays the Pakhawaj, flute and Sitar. 
  • Kathakali: Kathakali or ‘story play’ took shape in Kerala in southern India in the seventeenth century under the patronage of the prince of Karnataka, who wrote plays for performance drawn from the epic Ramayana in Malayalam. Kathakali categorizes its characters according to their nature and employs make-up and costume to build them up as symbolic personalities. 
  • Mohiniattam: Mohiniattam belongs to Kerala in southern India and takes its name from the mythic enchantress Mohini. It is a dance of feminine grace, and has grown out of performances connected with Kerala’s temples. The prince Swati Tirunal of Travancore, was one of the chief architects of the dance in the nineteenth century. The main percussion instruments in the performance are the Edakka.
  • Kuchipudi (Southern India): It originated from Andhra Pradesh, where it grew largely as a product of Bhakti movement beginning in the 7th Century AD and derives its name from the village Kuchelapuram. Kuchipudi today is performed either as a solo, duet or a group presentation, but historically it was performed as a dance drama, with several dancers taking different roles.
  • Sattriya Dance: ‘Sattriya dance’ refers to the body of dance and danced drama developed in the sattras or monasteries of Assam since the sixteenth century, when the Vaishnava faith propagated by the saint and reformer Shankaradeva (1449-1586). Group dances are also common in traditional and modern Sattriya dance, and these may be prefaced with a brief musical ‘interlude’ on drums, the Gayan Bayan.
  • Chhau (Eastern India): The Chhau dance of Eastern India — Orissa, Jharkhand, and West Bengal – is a blend of martial traditions, temple rituals, and folk and popular performance of this region. Though vocal music is not used in Chhau, the melodies are based on songs from the Jhumur folk repertoire, the devotional Kirtan, classical Hindustani ‘ragas’, and traditional Oriya sources. Dhol, Dhumsa, Nagada, Chadchadi and Jhanj provide accompaniment to Chhau dance.

‘Heat dome’ over North-West India

In Context

  • According to recent reports, the ‘Heat dome’ over North-West India may retract.

More about the heat Dome:

  • About:
    • A heat dome occurs when the atmosphere traps hot ocean air like a lid or cap.
  • How does it form?
    • Extreme heat waves have become more frequent in recent decades. Sometimes, the scorching heat is ensnared in what is called a heat dome. 
    • This happens when strong, high-pressure atmospheric conditions combine with influences from La Niña, creating vast areas of sweltering heat that gets trapped under the high-pressure “dome.”
    • Correlation with jet streams:
      • Typically, heat domes are tied to the behavior of the jet stream, a band of fast winds high in the atmosphere that generally runs west to east.
      • Normally, the jet stream has a wavelike pattern, meandering north and then south and then north again. 
      • When these meanders in the jet stream become bigger, they move slower and can become stationary. That’s when heat domes can occur.
  • Outcomes:
    • Human body:
      • A heat dome can have severe impacts on people because the stagnant weather pattern that allows it to exist usually results in weak winds and an increase in humidity.
        • Both factors make the heat feel worse – and become more dangerous – because the human body is not cooled as much by sweating.
    • Heat illnesses and deaths:
      • The high humidity also reduces the amount of cooling at night. Warm nights can leave people without air conditioners unable to cool off, which increases the risk of heat illnesses and deaths. 
      • With global warming, temperatures are already higher, too.
        • One of the worst examples of the impacts from a heat dome with high temperatures and humidity in the U.S. occurred in the summer of 1995, when an estimated 739 people died in the Chicago area over five days.
  • Heat Waves:
    • It is a period of unusually hot weather that lasts for more than two days.
    • The heatwaves can occur with or without high humidity and have the potential to cover a large area, exposing a high number of people to hazardous heat.
  • Impact of Climate Change:
  • Scientists believe that the heat waves occurring today are more likely to be a result of climate change for which humans are responsible.
  • A small increase in the Earth’s average temperature can dramatically impact climate extremes, both hot and cold, increasing their chances of occurring exponentially.
  • Extreme heat events are occurring more frequently with more severity, and therefore they will likely push the average temperatures higher for years to come.
  • If greenhouse gas emissions are not significantly curtailed, the coldest and warmest daily temperatures are expected to increase by at least 5 degrees F in most areas by mid-century rising to 10 degrees F by the late century.
Cyclones and anticyclonesCyclones and anticyclones are regions of relatively low and high pressure, respectively. They occur over most of Earth’s surface in a variety of sizes ranging from the very large semipermanent examples described above to smaller, highly mobile systems.Cyclone:Cyclone is any large system of winds that circulates about a centre of low atmospheric pressure in a counterclockwise direction north of the Equator and in a clockwise direction to the south. Anticyclone:Anticyclone is any large wind system that rotates about a centre of high atmospheric pressure clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern. Its flow is the reverse of that of a cyclone.Effects:Effects of surface-based anticyclones include clearing skies as well as cooler, drier air. Fog can also form overnight within a region of higher pressure.Western Disturbance (WD)It is an extra-tropical storm that originates in the Mediterranean region.The disturbance travels from the “western” to the eastern direction and  gradually travels across the middle-east from Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan to enter the Indian subcontinent.Disturbance means an area of “disturbed” or reduced air pressure. Equilibrium exists in nature due to which the air in a region tries to normalize its pressure.Western disturbances are more frequent and stronger in the winter season.Outcome:In the case of Indian subcontinent, moisture is sometimes shed as rain when the storm system encounters the Himalayas.Western disturbances are important for the development of the Rabi crop which includes the locally important staple wheat. 

India must have a contingency plan for El Niño

In News

  • NITI Aayog has recently stressed that Indian agriculture is resilient to El Nino shocks.


  • India has witnessed four good monsoons in succession and the probability of a fifth normal monsoon this year looks challenging because of El Niño.
  • In this regard, experts have recently deliberated on the El Niño’s impact on India’s monsoon and have stressed the need for having a contingency plan to minimize the threat to the farm sector.
  • El Niño is a phenomenon of abnormal heating up of the ocean surface that triggers a change in wind patterns and impact weather across the world
  • The US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has indicated the possibility of El Niño conditions developing this year.
  • While the first estimates of the impact of El Niño on India’s monsoon expected by April, its impact can happen in the latter part of the monsoon season in August-September
  • La Niña, the colder counterpart of El Niño, is the last event in India and coincided with below-normal rainfall.

Possible Impacts on India

  • El Niño can lead to below-normal rainfall, which affects India’s agricultural sector leading to droughts and crop-failures.
  • The share of the crop affected by rainfall is declining steadily due to the resilience of Indian agriculture.
  • The Indian agriculture sector is becoming more resilient to deal with the impact of El Niño.
  • Policymakers should have safeguards against too much dependence on rainfall to minimize the El Niño impact.

Contingency plans

  • Need to stress on three dimensions of rainfall – timing, total quantity, and distribution.
  • Contingency plan at the district level should be in place
  • Seeds of late sowing variety should be available if the arrival of rainfall gets delayed.
  • The government should initiate water conservation and management, and closely watch the monsoon while maintaining water bodies.
EL NinoLa Nina
It is a phenomenon of abnormal heating up of the ocean surface that triggers a change in wind patterns.It impacts weather across the world.It occurs every 3-6 years and lasts for about 9-12 months.It can cause droughts, flooding, and changes in temperature.It can lead to below-normal rainfall, which affects India’s agricultural sector.It is a phenomenon that is the colder counterpart of El Niño.It occurs when ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific drop to lower-than-normal levels.It can lead to above-normal rainfall in India.India’s last El Niño event of 2018 coincided with below-normal rainfall.

Government steps to mitigate the impact of El Niño:

  • Mission Amrit Sarovar: It is a scheme of developing 75 ponds in each district by the government to help reduce the dependence on rainfall.
  • Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY): It is a crop insurance scheme launched by the government to protect farmers from crop loss due to various natural calamities, including drought, floods, and other weather-related events.
  • Soil Health Card scheme: This scheme aims to promote soil testing and provide farmers with the necessary information to help farmers to better manage their crops during periods of drought or other weather-related events.
  • National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA): This project aims to promote sustainable watershed management practices in rainfed areas to improve soil moisture and water availability for crops during drought periods.
  • National Food Security Mission (NFSM): It aims to increase the productivity of crops in rainfed areas through the adoption of better farming practices and the use of new technologies.
  • National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS): This scheme provides financial assistance to farmers in case of crop loss due to natural calamities, including drought and other weather-related events.
  • Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY): It aims to promote efficient use of water resources in agriculture and increase water use efficiency to deal with drought and other weather-related events.
  • Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY): This scheme aims to promote agriculture development through various initiatives, including the development of rainfed agriculture and the use of modern technologies to improve crop productivity during drought periods.

Way ahead

  • Overall, the government is taking various initiatives to help farmers cope with the impact of El Niño and other weather-related events.
  • In this regard, there is a need to promote sustainable farming practices, improving water use efficiency, and providing financial assistance to farmers in case of crop loss.

Draft policy for Indian communities displaced by coastal erosion

In News

  • The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) received the final inputs on the draft of India’s first national policy for the mitigation and rehabilitation of the people affected by river and coastal erosion.


  • The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has directed NDMA to draft a policy based on the 15th Finance Commission’s report.
  • In this regard, NDMA has held national-level consultations with different stakeholders including central ministries, state government departments, and NGOs.
  • India is prone to various natural and man-made disasters, which pose significant challenges to disaster management.
  • Until now, most policies in the country only address displacement after sudden rapid-onset disasters such as floods and cyclones.

Major highlights:

ComponentsKey points
Allocations15th Finance Commission’s report allocates Rs 1,500 crore for 2021-26 for mitigation measures to prevent erosion under NDMFRs 1,000 crore allocated for resettlement of displaced people affected by erosion under NDRF for the same periodBoth funds require state governments to contribute 25% of costs on a cost-sharing basis, except northeastern states which only need to contribute 10% of state funds.NDMA to coordinate allocations and expenses under NDRF and NDMF for mitigation and rehabilitation.
Implementation and institutional mechanismsDistrict disaster management authorities (DDMAs) to implement measures, aided by other district agencies and a specific panchayat-level committeeDDMA to prepare mitigation and rehabilitation plans and submit them to SDMAs for appraisal by NDMA and approval by home ministry’s high-level committee for disbursal of fundsDDMAs will be responsible for organizing, monitoring, and evaluating efforts under supervision of state and national counterparts.NDMA to consultant and emphasize the need for qualified disaster management professionals in all teams
Challenges and recommendationsPolicy addresses erosion-linked displacement but not displacement caused by deposition of eroded materials and soil pipingFinancial allocation under policy not yet clear; funds currently allocated on first-come, first-serve basis for statesPopulation density should be considered during allocationHazard assessments carried out by central agencies should be made available to SDMAs in GIS formatsPolicy recommends mapping of fallow areas for rehabilitation with input from affected and vulnerable communities.

What is NDMA?

  • National Disaster Management Authority is an apex body for disaster management in India
  • It is headed by the Prime Minister of India and has a Vice-Chairman, nine members, and a CEO.
  • It was established under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and provides guidelines for disaster management to various agencies.
  • It is responsible for preparing and implementing disaster management plans at national, state, and district levels.

Importance of disaster management in India

  • Human lives are at stake: Disaster management can help reduce the loss of life and minimize the impact of disasters which leads to loss of life and property, and long-term health consequences..
  • Economic impact: Disaster management can help minimize the economic impact of disasters which have a significant impact on the economy, including loss of property and infrastructure, decreased productivity, and disrupted supply chains.
  • Climate change: Effective disaster management can help in mitigating the effects of climate change which has led to more frequent and severe natural disasters. 
  • Infrastructure: It can help in improving the resilience of infrastructure which are vulnerable to natural disasters such as  roads, bridges, and buildings. 
  • Humanitarian assistance: Disaster management can help in coordinating relief efforts and ensuring that assistance reaches those who need it the most.

Challenges of disaster management

  • Lack of preparedness: Despite frequent disasters, there is still a lack of preparedness at all levels of governance and society leading to delays in response time and inadequate resources to deal with disasters effectively.
  • Poor infrastructure: Many areas in India lack basic infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and communication networks, making it difficult to reach affected areas during disasters.
  • Population density: India is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, which can make evacuations and relief efforts more difficult during disasters.
  • Climate change: With the increasing threat of climate change, India is experiencing more frequent and intense disasters, such as floods, droughts, and cyclones putting pressure on the country’s disaster management systems to adapt and respond effectively.
  • Lack of coordination: There is often a lack of coordination between different agencies involved in disaster management, such as the government, NGOs, and international organizations leading to duplication of efforts and inefficiencies.
  • Funding: Despite the increasing frequency and severity of disasters, funding for disaster management is often inadequate which often limit the resources available for preparedness, response, and recovery efforts.

Way ahead

  • Disaster management in India faces various challenges, such as inadequate resources, poor infrastructure, limited awareness and education, weak institutional capacity, inadequate coordination and communication, and inadequate research and innovation.
  • Steps such as continuous improvement and innovation in disaster management, based on the best available science, technology, and practices, and involving all stakeholders in a participatory and inclusive manner can go a long way in changing the scenario. 

Russia Suspends the New START Treaty with U.S

In News

  • Recently, Russia suspended its participation in the New START treaty.
  • It is the last remaining major military agreement with the United States.

New Start treaty

  • About
    • The New START is officially known as the “Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms”.
    • START stands for  “Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty”. The term ‘strategic offensive arms’ applies to nuclear warheads deployed by Strategic Nuclear Delivery Vehicles (‘SNDVs’). SNDVs are Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (‘ICBMs’) with a range exceeding 5,500 kilometres
  • It is the last remaining arms control treaty between the world’s two main nuclear powers, US and Russia.
  • It is one of the key controls on the superpower deployment of nuclear weapons.
  • Signed by: Barack Obama in 2010 and was extended by Joe Biden till 2026.
    • It took effect in February 2011.
  • Background:
    • This News START treaty is successor to the START-I, which was signed between the US and the erstwhile USSR in 1991, and came into force in 1994.
    • START-I was replaced first by the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT, also known as the Treaty of Moscow), and then by the New START treaty.
  • Structure:
    • It restricts both countries to a maximum of 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear warheads each and limits launchers and heavy bombers to 800.
    • It also outlines mutual inspections and regular data exchanges on warheads and delivery mechanisms.
    • It includes an agreement to notify each other about the status of some ballistic missiles.
  • Compliance:
  • The treaty provides for 18 on-site inspections per year for US and Russian inspection teams.
  • What are the implications of a suspension?
    •  A suspension of the treaty may mean that it will be harder for the US to monitor compliance.
    • Earlier, Russia has already suspended mutual inspections of nuclear weapons sites and participation in a bilateral consultative commission. 
    • Suspension of reporting and data exchange on nuclear weapon movements and other related developments.

Sansad Ratna Awards

In News

  • Prime Minister recently congratulated Members of Parliament who will be conferred the Sansad Ratna Awards 2023.


  • Inspired by the teachings of former President APJ Abdul Kalam, Sansad Ratna Awards were started in 2010 to recognise and felicitate the top-performing MPs on the basis of their work in the legislative body.
  • The jury committee composed of eminent Parliamentarians and members of civil society decides awardees based on an MP’s cumulative performance in Parliament judged by number of questions asked, private members’ Bills introduced, debates initiated, attendance, funds utilised, etc.
  • The Sansad Ratna Awards are not given by the Government of India but by  The Prime Point Foundation.


In News

  • Saudi Arabia unveiled its latest grand plan to transform its capital city Riyadh called the Mukaab – “cube” in Arabic.


  • The Mukaab is among the ambitious architectural projects planned and undertaken by Saudi Arabia as a part of its Vision 2030, aimed at revolutionising the country’s economy and lifestyle.
  • It will stand 400 metres high, wide and long, big enough to hold 20 Empire State Buildings.
  • The cubic shape of the Mukaab will ensure the ultimate utilisation of space. 

Architectural Style

  • The Mukaab will be built using the modern Najdi architectural style – a twist on the traditional Najdi architectural style from the Najd region in the centre of the Arabian peninsula. 
  • This architectural style was perfected over generations to be best suited for the region’s desert climate – its design focuses on naturally controlling the climate inside the structure. 
Najdi Architectural StyleNajdi architecture is one of the most prevalent architectural patterns in Saudi Arabia.Najdi architecture combines three main factors: The need to respond to the hot desert climate, the need for privacy in residential buildings, and the need to use locally available materials such as mud brick, stone and wood.In contemporary adaptations, Najdi buildings are characterized not only by traditional materials, but also their use of thermal and environmental elements.

Whale Strandin

In News

  • Recently, pilot whales were stranded near the shore of Kalpitiya, a town located on Sri Lanka’s west coast.

Pilot Whales

  • Pilot whales are so named because it was once believed that each observed group was navigated by a pilot or leader. 
  • There are two species of pilot whales:  Short finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus), which are mainly found in tropical and warm-temperate regions, and long-finned pilot whales (G. melas), which inhabit colder waters
  • They and other large members of the dolphin family are also known as blackfish.
  • They are highly social and may remain with their birth pod throughout their lifetime.

What is Whale Stranding?

  • Whale stranding is a phenomenon in which whales are stuck on land, usually on a beach. 
  • Most of the stranding events involve single animals but sometimes, mass strandings, consisting of hundreds of marine animals at a time, can happen.

Reasons for Mass Stranding

  • The topography of the region, 
  • Illness 
  • Human activities 
  • Panic from being trapped by a predator such as killer whales or sharks.


  • Scientists and workers try to drag the whales away from the shore and guide them back into the water.


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