Missing Antiquities in India

In News

  • It was recently found that the catalogue of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, includes at least 77 items with links to someone who is serving a 10-year jail term in Tamil Nadu for smuggling antiquities.

Data on missing antiquities 

  • Reported missing:
    • Since Independence, only 486 antiquities have been reported as missing from the 3,696 monuments protected and maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), including 139 from Madhya Pradesh, 95 from Rajasthan and 86 from Uttar Pradesh.
    • The menace of missing antiquities is illustrated by a UNESCO estimate that “more than 50,000 art objects have been smuggled out of India till 1989”.
  • The RTI records:
    • The RTI records also show that 305 antiquities have been brought back to India from abroad since 1976, including 292 since 2014. 
  • Parliamentary Standing Committee:
    • However, as the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Transport, Tourism and Culture points out, these numbers may just be “the tip of the iceberg”.
  • ASI’s list of missing antiquities:
    • The ASI’s list of missing antiquities covers 17 states and two Union Territories. Apart from MP, Rajasthan and UP, the list includes: Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Telangana and West Bengal, among others. 

What is Antiquity?

  • The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, of 1972, (implemented in 1976), defined “antiquity” as:
    • “Any coin, sculpture, painting, epigraph or other work of art or craftsmanship; any article, object or thing detached from a building or cave; any article, object or thing illustrative of science, art, crafts, literature, religion, customs, morals or politics in bygone ages; any article, object or thing of historical interest” that “has been in existence for not less than one hundred years.”
    • For a “manuscript, record or other document which is of scientific, historical, literary or aesthetic value”, this duration is “not less than seventy-five years.

International conventions

  • The UNESCO Convention:
    • The UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property defined “cultural property” as:
      • The property designated by countries having “importance for archaeology, prehistory, history, literature, art or science.”
    • On the matter of illicit export, the declaration says that:
      • “The illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property is one of the main causes of the impoverishment of the cultural heritage of the countries of origin of such property and that international co-operation constitutes one of the most efficient means of protecting each country’s cultural property.”
  • UN:
    • In 2000, the General Assembly of the UN and the UN Security Council in 2015 and 2016 also raised concerns on the issue. 
    • An INTERPOL report in 2019 said that almost 50 years after the UNESCO convention, “the illicit international traffic of cultural items and related offences is sadly increasingly prolific.”

Indian laws

  • Heritage of India:
    • In India, Item-67 of the Union List, Item-12 of the State List, and Item-40 of the Concurrent List of the Constitution deal with the country’s heritage.
  • Pre-independence – Antiquities (Export Control) Act:
    • Before Independence, an Antiquities (Export Control) Act had been passed in April 1947 to ensure that “no antiquity could be exported without a license.” 
  • Post-independence legislations:
    • In 1958, The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act was enacted. 
    • The government enacted the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act(AATA) in 1972  (implemented from April 1976). The AATA states:
      • “It shall not be lawful for any person, other than the Central Government or any authority or agency authorised by the Central Government in this behalf, to export any antiquity or art treasure.” 
      • “No person shall, himself or by any other person on his behalf, carry on the business of selling or offering to sell any antiquity except under and in accordance with the terms and conditions of a licence.”
        • This licence is granted by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). 

Can India bring back antiquities?

  • The biggest challenge the Government faces in its move to bring its heritage back into the country.
  • There are three categories to take note of: 
    • Antiquities taken out of India pre-independence; 
    • Those which were taken out since independence until March 1976, i.e. before the implementation of AATA; and 
    • Antiquities taken out of the country since April 1976.
  • For items in the first two categories:
    • Requests have to be raised bilaterally or on international fora. 
      • For instance, the Maharashtra government on November 10, 2022, announced it was working to bring back the sword of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj from London.
        • This sword was given to Edward, the Prince of Wales (the later King Edward VII) by Shivaji IV in 1875-76. 
      • Several antiquities, from Vagdevi of Dhar (MP), to the Kohinoor diamond, to Amaravati marbles to the Sultanganj Buddha to antiquities related to Rani Laxmibai and Tipu Sultan, are currently abroad.
  • Antiquities in the second and third categories:
    • They can be retrieved easily by raising an issue bilaterally with proof of ownership and with the help of the UNESCO convention.

ISRO proposes Space Tourism

In News

  • ISRO plans to start ‘Space Tourism’ for passenger by 2030


  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is developing a space tourism module which will allow enthusiasts to take a trip to space.
  • The estimated cost of the trip is slated to be Rs 6 crore, and enthusiasts will be able to take a trip to space by 2030.
  • At present, it has not been announced whether the module will include sub-orbital space travel or orbital space travel.
  • Space tourism is a relatively new concept that involves traveling to space for recreational purposes while ensuring that it is both safe and reusable.

Major highlights of the proposal:

  • Price: The per ticket price is estimated to be around Rs 6 crore and People who take the trip will also be able to call themselves astronauts.
  • Type of Space Travel: The module is likely to feature sub-orbital space travel which generally involves spending 15 minutes at the edge of space, experiencing a few minutes in a low-gravity environment before the spaceflight descends back to Earth.
  • Partnership with Private Firms: ISRO is likely to partner with private firms for the development of the space travel module via the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe).
  • Safety Measures: ISRO will also be using the Reusable Launch Vehicle—Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) to gain more knowledge about the safety of the spaceflights as space experiences are being brought to the common people.

Major challenges of space tourism are:

  • Cost: Space tourism is currently very expensive, and only a small number of people can afford it which is a major obstacle for most people.
  • Safety: Space tourism involves a high degree of risk, and safety will be a major concern for both tourists besides operators and the Spacecraft and launch vehicles must be reliable, and emergency procedures must be in place in case of any contingencies.
  • Medical issues: Space tourism can pose significant medical challenges to tourists, such as changes in gravity, radiation exposure, and other physiological and psychological effects. 
  • Regulations: There is currently no international regulatory framework for space tourism, and governments will need to work together to establish standards and regulations to ensure the safety and sustainability of the industry.
  • Environmental impact: Space tourism can have a significant environmental impact, including increased emissions, waste, and damage to the atmosphere and the ozone layer. 

Importance of space tourism:

  • Economic benefits: Space tourism can contribute to the growth of the space industry and generate revenue for space companies besides creating jobs, stimulate innovation, and attract investment in related industries such as hospitality and entertainment.
  • Promoting space exploration: It can increase public interest in space exploration and encourage more people to learn about the universe, astronomy, and space technology leading to more funding for space research and development.
  • Advances in technology: The development of space tourism requires the advancement of space technology and infrastructure, such as spacecraft, launch vehicles, and space habitats which can have positive spillover effects on other sectors, such as transportation, energy, and communication.
  • Environmental benefits: Space tourism can potentially help reduce the environmental impact of tourism on Earth by providing an alternative destination for travelers which could help reduce the strain on natural resources and ecosystems.

Other countries with Space Toursim modules:

  • United States: It is a leader in space tourism, with several private companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic which has already completed several test flights, and plans to launch commercial flights in the near future.
  • Russia:It has been involved in space tourism since 2001, and has sent several paying tourists to the International Space Station (ISS) on its Soyuz spacecraft.
  • China: It is a relatively new player in the space tourism industry, but has ambitious plans to build its own space station and potentially offer space tourism in the future.
  • United Arab Emirates: The UAE recently sent its first astronaut to the ISS, and has expressed interest in developing space tourism as part of its efforts to diversify its economy.
  • Japan: It has sent several astronauts to the ISS, and is involved in the development of space tourism through private companies such as PD Aerospace.
Mission Gaganyaan
Gaganyaan is India’s first human spaceflight mission, aimed at sending three astronauts into space by 2022.The mission is being developed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and aims to demonstrate India’s capabilities to send humans into space and return them safely.The spacecraft will consist of an Orbital Module and a Crew Module, which will be launched by the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV-Mk III) rocket.The spacecraft will orbit the Earth at an altitude of 400 km for a period of 5-7 days.The crew will be trained in Russia’s Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Moscow.The crew module will have an emergency escape system to ensure the safety of the astronauts in case of any failure during launch or ascent.The mission will have significant scientific, technological, and socio-economic benefits for India, including the development of new technologies and capabilities, inspiration for future generations, and international collaboration.


  • ISRO’s space tourism module, which is both safe and reusable is a significant step towards advancing India’s space exploration programs and providing the public with an opportunity to experience space travel.
  • As technology continues to advance, space tourism could become more accessible and affordable, in future and thus allowing more people to experience the wonder and excitement of space exploration.

 Source: TH

Inter-Services Organisations Bill

In News 

  • Government introduces bill to Empower Tri-Services Commanders.


  • The Indian government has recently introduced the Inter-Services Organisations (Command, Control and Discipline) Bill in the Lok Sabha.
  • The bill aims to empower the central government to constitute Inter-services Organisations formed of personnel from multiple military services or branches of defence.
  • Currently, service personnel of the Air Force, Army and Navy are governed by their respective Service Acts, and only officers of the respective services can exercise disciplinary powers over them.
  • Inter-Services Organisations (ISOs) will be crucial for India’s defence and security as they promote cooperation and coordination between different services of the Indian Armed Forces.

Major highlights:

  • Empowering Tri-Services Commanders:
    • The proposed Bill will empower the Heads of the Inter-services Organisations to exercise effective command, control and discipline on all personnel of regular Air force, Army and Navy.
    • The bill allows commanders to exercise control over personnel belonging to different services serving under their command.
    • The power under the bill will also be available to Inter-services Organisations constituted before the commencement of the new law.
  • Joint Command:
    • The bill empowers the central government to constitute Inter-services Organisations, including a joint services command comprising units or service personnel of Air Force, Army and Navy.
    • Inter-services organisations may be placed under the command of the Commander-in-Chief or the Officer-in-Command.

Importance of the step

  • Time-saving: The personnel serving in Inter-services Organisations need to be reverted to their parent Service units for any disciplinary or administrative action, which is time-consuming and has financial implications.
  • Joint Planning and Execution: ISOs facilitate joint planning and execution of military operations between different services, which ensures the optimal utilization of resources and a coordinated approach to achieve the mission’s objectives.
  • Intelligence Sharing: ISOs allow for the sharing of intelligence between different services, which enhances situational awareness and the ability to respond to threats quickly and effectively.
  • Specialized Training and Education: ISOs provide specialized training and education to military personnel from different services, which enhances their skills and expertise in specific areas and enables them to work together seamlessly.
  • Equipment Standardization: ISOs facilitate equipment standardization and interoperability between different services, which ensures that the military is equipped with the best possible technology and that different services can work together effectively.
  • Cost Savings: ISOs can help reduce costs by avoiding duplication of effort and resources and enabling the military to make the best use of available resources.

Challenge of Inter-Services Organisations (ISOs)

  • Competing Interests: Each service has its own unique mission, culture, and operational priorities, which can create competition and conflicts of interest within ISOs which can hinder the effectiveness of the organisation.
  • Communication: Effective communication between different services can be challenging due to differences in terminology, communication protocols, and operational procedures which can lead to misunderstandings, delays, and errors in decision-making.
  • Resources: ISOs require significant resources to function effectively, including personnel, equipment, and funding which can be challenging, as services may prioritize their own needs and interests over the needs of the ISO. 
  • Leadership: Effective leadership within ISOs can be challenging, as leaders must navigate competing interests, communication barriers, and resource constraints. 

Way ahead

  • Once the bill is enacted, it will provide the necessary authority for effective command, control and discipline of Inter-services Organisations and streamline the disciplinary and administrative process for personnel serving under different services.
  • Through joint planning and execution, intelligence sharing, specialized training and education, equipment standardization, and cost savings, ISOs can enable India to achieve its military objectives efficiently and effectively.
  • While ISOs face several challenges, including competing interests, communication barriers, and resource constraints, they are essential for India’s defence and security. 
  • Overall, ISOs are an essential component of India’s national security infrastructure and will continue to play a critical role in the country’s defence and security in the future.

Source: TH

Pennaiyar River Dispute

In News

  • Pennaiyar river tribunal deadline of three months fixed by the Supreme Court has expired.


  • In 2018, Tamil Nadu filed an original suit against Karnataka for constructing check dams and diversion structures on the Pennaiyar river.
  • On November 30, 2019, Tamil Nadu formally requested the Union government to constitute a Tribunal for adjudication of disputes over the waters of the river.
  • In mid-December, the court gave the Centre three months to constitute the tribunal to resolve the dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Pennaiyar River

  • The river originates in the Nandi Hills in the Chikkaballapura district of Karnataka and flows through Tamil Nadu before emptying into the Bay of Bengal.
  • It is also known as the South Pennar River, Dakshina Pinakini in Kannada and Thenpennai or Ponnaiyar or Pennaiyar in Tamil.
  • This is the second longest river in Tamil Nadu, with a length of 497km, after the Kaveri. 
  • It is the second largest interstate East flowing river basin among the 12 basins lying between Pennar and Cauvery basins. It covers a large area in the State of Tamil Nadu besides the areas covered in the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Bangalore, Hosur, Tiruvannamalai, and Cuddalore are the important cities on the banks of South Pennar river. 

Inter-state Dispute Resolution Mechanism

  • Attempts are usually made to resolve inter-state disputes with the cooperation of both sides, with the Centre working as a facilitator or a neutral mediator.

Constitutional methods to resolve the inter-state disputes: 

  • Judicial redressal: As per the Article 131 of the Constitution the Supreme Court in its original jurisdiction decides disputes:
    • between the Government of India and one or more States; or
    • between the Government of India and any State or States on one side and one or more other States on the other; or
    • between two or more States.
  • Inter-state Council: Article 263 of the Constitution gives powers to the President to set up an Inter-state Council for the resolution of disputes between states.
    • The Council is envisaged as a forum for discussion between the states and the Centre. In 1988, the Sarkaria Commission suggested that the Council should exist as a permanent body, and in 1990 it came into existence through a Presidential Order.
  • Functions of the Council: 
    • inquiring into and advising upon disputes which may have arisen between States;
    • investigating and discussing subjects in which some or all of the States, or the Union and one or more of the States, have a common interest; or
    • making recommendations upon any such subject and, in particular, recommendations for the better coordination of policy and action with respect to that subject.
  • In 2021, the Centre reconstituted the Inter-state Council and the body now has 10 Union Ministers as permanent invitees. 
  • The standing committee of the Council has been reconstituted with Home Minister as Chairman. The finance minister and the Chief Ministers of Maharashtra, UP, and Gujarat are some of the other standing committee members.


In News

  • Recently, South Africa celebrated the occasion of the ending of the apartheid system.


  • Apartheid Translates  to “separateness” or “the state of being apart” in Afrikaans.
  • It officially began in 1948, instituting segregation as law and a “fundamental truth” of South Africa. 
  • citizens were classified into one of four racial groups – black, Indian, coloured (mixed race) and white – apartheid made it illegal for South Africans to pursue interracial relations.
  • Black South Africans were denied political and economic rights, essentially were reduced to cheap labour for the Whites. 

Resistance :

  • Resistance to racism in South Africa pre-dates apartheid. As far back as the 1880s, the Imbumba ya Manyama (Union of Blacks) was formed, articulating an African identity that transcended tribalism..
  •  In 1912, African National Congress was started as a movement led by the elite Blacks to oppose their disenfranchisement post the creation of the Union.
  • ANC started off as an organisation which expressed demands through petitions and polite dialogue. But as the oppression got more brutal, their methods changed.
  • In 1949, the ANC introduced its Programme of Action, supporting strike action, protests and other forms of nonviolent resistance. Nelson Mandela became an important figure at this time.
  • In 1952, the Defiance Campaign was started by ANC , calling people to break apartheid laws on purpose and offer themselves for arrest.However, none of these was able to bring significant concessions for black South Africans.
  •  In Sharpeville in 1960, during a large demonstration, the police opened fire and killed at least 69 black South Africans and wounded many more. 
  • In the aftermath of the massacre, the government declared a state of emergency and arrested more than 18,000 people, including prominent black leaders. Mandela was arrested in 1962 and He would spend the next 27 years in prison.
  • In 1976, students in Soweto took to the streets to protest against the imposition of Afrikaans as the only language of instruction. Police opened fire on protestors.  The Soweto Uprising was followed by a series of brutal crackdowns on resisting organisations.
  • By the 1980s,anti-apartheid forces were largely united around a nonviolent resistance that could achieve maximum participation among non-whites and bring international pressure on the government. 
  • The latter half of the 1980s saw some of the largest and most impactful protests yet, with mass non-cooperation and strikes organised. In addition to this, resistors also created alternative community-based institutions – such as community clinics and legal resource centres – to replace discriminatory government institutions.

Fall of Apartheid:

  • In 1989, The resistance to segregation  culminated in the Defiance Campaign with multiracial peace marches across the country, including in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.
  • In 1990, in a speech to the parliament, President de Klerk announced that “the time to negotiate has arrived”. He lifted bans on political parties such as the ANC, freed thousands of prisoners including Mandela, and lifted the state of emergency that had been imposed amidst rising protests in the 1980s
  • On March 17, 1992, a referendum among the white South African population ushered in a new era in South Africa, once and for all. While systemic disadvantages continue to impact black South Africans, an era of political freedom and legal equality was instituted in 1992.

Nelson Mandela

  • From establishing the first black law firm in South Africa to forming the African National Congress Youth League to negotiating with State President F. W. de Klerk for  the end of apartheid in South Africa and becoming the first black president of South Africa

Conventions against Racial Discrimination

  • International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.: It was adopted in 1965 and entered into force in 1969. It remains the principal international human rights instrument defining and prohibiting racial discrimination in all sectors of private and public life.
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) : an international document adopted by the United Nations General Assembly that enshrines the rights and freedoms of all human beings.

Exercise Sea Dragon

In News

  • Indian Navy is participating in SEA DRAGON 23 exercise in waters off Guam, USA which has been scheduled from 15-30 March 23.


  • It is a biennial coordinated multilateral anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercise for long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft. 
  • The exercise is hosted by the United States Navy, and it involves the participation of other friendly navies from Japan, Canada, South Korea, and India. 
  • It aims to achieve high levels of synergy and coordination between the participating countries based on their shared values and commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific


  • The Exercise would witness representation by an Indian Navy P8I aircraft along with other countries’ aircrafts.
  • This exercise will test the capabilities of participating aircraft in tracking simulated and live underwater targets, whilst also sharing mutual expertise.

About P8I Aircraft

  • The P8I aircraft is a long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft equipped with advanced sensors, radars, and anti-submarine warfare capabilities. 
  • The aircraft is designed to detect, track, and engage enemy submarines and other maritime threats. 
  • This is the third edition of the coordinated multi-lateral ASW exercise for Long Range MR ASW aircraft.
  • It was held for the first time in 2015.

Other Exercises between India and USA

  • Exercise Malabar: Malabar series of exercises began in 1992 as a bilateral exercise between the navies of India and US and gained further prominence with the joining of the navies of Australia and Japan.
  • VAJRA PRAHAR: Special Forces Exercise
  • Yudh Abhyas: Military Training Exercise

PM MITRA scheme

In News

  • The Ministry of Textiles will shortly name the States identified for implementation of Prime Minister MITRA (Mega Integrated Textile Region and Apparel) scheme.


  • States are identified through the challenge route and the PM MITRA parks will provide the best ecosystem for the textile industry to be collectively present in one location, with plug-and-play infrastructure, and improve the competitiveness of the textile value chain. 
  • The vision for 2030 is to achieve an economic value of $250 billion in production and $100 billion in export of textiles, apparel, and related products and this is achievable even though the industry faced a small setback in the current year.


  • The PM MITRA scheme is Inspired by the 5F vision – Farm to Fibre to Factory to Fashion to Foreign. 
  • It aspires to fulfil the vision of building an Aatmanirbhar Bharat and to position India strongly on the Global textiles map.


  • PM MITRA Parks offer an opportunity to create an integrated textiles value chain right from spinning, weaving, processing/dyeing and printing to garment manufacturing at 1 location.
  • These parks are envisaged to be located at sites which have inherent strengths for the textile industry to flourish and have the necessary linkages to succeed. The scheme envisages to leverage the Public Private Partnership model for fast-paced implementation in a time-bound manner.
  • Integrated Textile Value chain at 1 location will reduce logistics cost of Industry.
  • Intended to generate ~1 lakh direct and 2 lakh indirect employment per park.
  • Sites for PM MITRA Parks will be selected by a Challenge Method based on objective criteria.

Low-Temperature Thermal Desalination (LTTD)

In News

  • National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) is working at making the Low-Temperature Thermal Desalination technology process free of emissions.


  • Desalination is a process that takes away mineral components from saline water. It is  used in places where freshwater supplies are scarce and seawater is readily available.
  • Desalination is easily scalable and can be used irrespective of weather conditions.
  • LTTD which stands for Low-Temperature Thermal Desalination  exploits the difference in temperature (nearly 15°C) in the ocean water at the surface and at depths of about 600 feet. 
  •  This cold water is used to condense water at the surface.
  • The water at the surface  is warmer and is maintained at low pressure using vacuum pumps.
  • water evaporates  at ambient temperatures at such low pressures and this resulting vapour when condensed with the help of cold water from the depth is free of salts and contaminants and is fit to consume.
National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT)The National Institute of Ocean Technology(NIOT) was established in 1993 as an autonomous society under the Ministry of Earth Sciences in India.NIOT aims to develop reliable indigenous technologies to solve various engineering problems associated with the harvesting of non-living and living resources in India’s exclusive economic zone, which is about two-thirds of the land area of India.NIOT is the nodal institution for the Deep Ocean Mission, which encompasses all the areas of ocean technology like the development of manned submersible, offshore large-scale desalination, ocean thermal energy conversion, etc.


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *