12th November 2020

The Hindu, PIB, IE and Others

Index

A) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Awards/Social Issues

1. Atal Distribution System Improvement Yojana (ADITYA) (livemint)

2. Why Jharkhand is seeking a separate religious code for Sarna tribals? (IE)

B) Economy

3. Financial Access Survey, 2020 (livemint)

C) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

4. Himachal’s Chamurthi Horse (IE)

5. Operation Thunder 2020 (TH)

D) Polity/Bills/Acts/Judgments

6. Home Ministry amends FCRA rules (TH)

E) History, Art and Culture

7. Swami Vivekananda and His Contributions (TH)

F) Miscellaneous

8. National Education Day (PIB)

A) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Awards/Social Issues

1. Atal Distribution System Improvement Yojana (ADITYA) (livemint)

Context: India has begun the process of privatizing the electricity distribution companies (discoms) of its Union territories, with Chandigarh taking the first step.

Analysis

  • ADITYA scheme is in continuation of earlier Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) targeting distribution reform in Indian power sector.
  • This scheme will provide central funding as infrastructure support reform package to state utilities and state utilities will be able to participate in scheme by:
  • targeting mandatory reducing electricity losses to less than 12%,
  • negating tariff gaps and
  • having compulsory prepaid smart metering across the power distribution chain.
  • States with more than 18% AT&C losses can opt for an infrastructure support reform package that entails choosing an option between running discoms in the public-private-partnership (PPP) model or inducting multiple supply and network franchisees or working through input-based distribution franchisees.
  • The scheme also entails institutional reforms to reduce losses such as:
    insulated aerial bunched cables,
  • separate feeders for agricultural and rural household consumption, and
  • installing SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition).

2. Why Jharkhand is seeking a separate religious code for Sarna tribals? (IE)

Context: Recently, the Jharkhand government convened a special session and passed a resolution to send the Centre a letter to recognise Sarna religion and include it as a separate code in the Census of 2021.

Analysis

What is the Sarna religion?

  • The followers of Sarna faith believe pray to nature.
  • The holy grail of the faith is “Jal, Jungle, Zameen” and its followers pray to the trees and hills while believing in protecting the forest areas.
  • Jharkhand has 32 tribal groups of which eight are from Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups.
  • While many follow Hindu religion, some have converted to Christianity — this has become one of the planks of demanding a separate code “to save religious identity”— as various tribal organisations put it.
  • Some who still follow the Sarna faith believe the converted tribals are taking the benefits of reservation as a minority as well as the benefits given to Schedule Tribes.
  • They also believe that benefits should be given specifically to them and not those who have converted.
  • The population of tribals in Jharkhand had declined from the 38.3 per cent in 1931 to 26.02 per cent in 2011.
  • One of the reasons for this was tribals who go for work in different states not being recorded in the Census.
  • In other states, they are not counted as Tribals. The separate code will ensure recording of their population.
  • It is believed that 50 lakhs tribal in the entire country put their religion as ‘Sarna’ in the 2011 census, although it was not a code.

What sense does a separate code make?

  • Between 1871 and 1951, the tribals had a different code. However, it was changed around 1961-62.
  • Experts say that when today the entire world is focusing on reducing pollution and protecting the environment, it is prudent that Sarna becomes a religious code as the soul of this religion is to protect nature and the environment.

Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)

  • While some tribal communities have adopted a mainstream way of life, at the other end of the spectrum, there are certain Scheduled Tribes, 75 in number, known as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs), who are characterised by:
  • pre-agriculture level of technology
  • stagnant or declining population
  • extremely low literacy
  • subsistence level of economy
  • PVTGs are more vulnerable among the tribal groups.
  • 75 tribal groups have been categorized by Ministry of Home Affairs as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
  • PVTGs reside in 18 States and UT of A&N Islands.
  • Among 75 listed PVTG’s the highest number are found in Odisha (13), followed by Andhra Pradesh (12).
  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs implements the Scheme of “Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)” exclusively for them.

B) Economy

3. Financial Access Survey, 2020 (livemint)

Context: The number of registered mobile money accounts in India witnessed a quantum leap from just 73 per thousand adults in 2015 to 1,265 in 2019, suggesting a massive improvement (a 17-fold jump) in access to digital financial services in recent years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its Financial Access Survey for 2020.

Analysis

  • The IMF report shows that among a dozen countries in the low and middle-income economies, India has witnessed the biggest jump in the number of registered mobile money accounts between 2015 and 2019.
  • However, the value of mobile money transactions is still a tiny fraction of India’s GDP and far below the level among even some low- and middle-income countries.
  • Mobile money refers to accessing financial services offered by a mobile network or its partners, and is distinct from accessing conventional bank accounts, or debit or credit card information, using a mobile phone (mobile banking).
  • Overall, access to and usage of financial services have deepened over time in low-and middle-income economies.
  • India has been using Aadhaar, no-frills bank accounts, low-cost life and health insurance schemes, and direct bank transfer of entitlements to promote financial inclusion over the last few years, while access to the internet and usage of mobile phones rose.
  • India surpassed China in fintech investments in 2019 to become the third-most funded country behind the US and the UK.
  • However, challenges of access remain, notably in the case of women and small- and medium-sized enterprises, the IMF report said.

C) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

4. Himachal’s Chamurthi Horse (IE)

Context: Conservation breeding efforts have helped increase the population of the indigenous Chamurthi horse breed of Himachal Pradesh to around 4,000, according to the state animal husbandry department.

Analysis

  • Chamurthi horses saw a rapid decline in population in recent decades due to the expanding road network in the Himalayas which replaced the use of these horses with motorised vehicles.
  • The Chamurthi or Spiti horse is one of the recognised indigenous breeds of horses or ponies in the country.

Registered breeds of horse & pony: ICAR- National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources

1BhutiaSikkim and Arunachal Pradesh
2KathiawariGujarat
3ManipuriManipur
4MarwariRajasthan
5SpitiHimachal Pradesh
6ZanskariJammu and Kashmir
7Kachchhi-SindhiGujarat and Rajasthan
  • Chamurthi horses are also reared in Uttarakhand, Ladakh and Tibet, but their “true breeding tract” is confined to 15 villages in Pin valley of Spiti.
  • Small in height, they are known for their endurance in the tough mountainous terrain, and are able to undertake long journeys at high altitudes.
  • They are also able to walk on ice and survive in extreme cold temperatures, and are mainly used as pack animals.
  • One peculiar characteristic of Spiti horses is that their colour changes from dark to light as they grow old.
  • People from surrounding areas come to buy them in order to use them as pack animals in remote areas and high altitudes at the annual Lavi fair in Rampur.

5. Operation Thunder 2020 (TH)

Context: The India Customs intercepted an 18-tonne shipment of red sandalwood destined for the United Arab Emirates, during a month-long “Operation Thunder 2020”, coordinated by the Interpol and the World Customs Organisation, which involved law enforcement agencies in 103 countries.

Analysis

  • The operation against environmental crime was held from September 14 to October 11.
  • Focusing on pre-identified routes and hotspots, ‘Operation Thunder 2020’ resulted in more than 2,000 seizures of wildlife and forestry/marine products.
  • In total, 699 offenders were apprehended and at least one Interpol Red Notice has already been requested based on information gained during the operation.
  • The participating countries focused mainly on the species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
  • Wildlife and forestry crime is the world’s fourth largest illegal trade.

Wildlife Crime Control Bureau

  • It is a statutory multi-disciplinary body established by the Government of India under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, to combat organized wildlife crime in the country.
  • Under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, it is mandated:
  • to collect and collate intelligence related to organized wildlife crime activities and to disseminate the same to State and other enforcement agencies for immediate action so as to apprehend the criminals;
  • to establish a centralized wildlife crime data bank;
  • co-ordinate actions by various agencies in connection with the enforcement of the provisions of the Act;
  • assist foreign authorities and international organization concerned to facilitate co-ordination and universal action for wildlife crime control;
  • capacity building of the wildlife crime enforcement agencies for scientific and professional investigation into wildlife crimes and
  • assist State Governments to ensure success in prosecutions related to wildlife crimes; and
  • advise the Government of India on issues relating to wildlife crimes having national and international ramifications, relevant policy and laws.
  • It also assists and advises the Customs authorities in inspection of the consignments of flora & fauna as per the provisions of Wild Life Protection Act, CITES and EXIM Policy governing such an item.
  • The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau also coordinated the following species-specific enforcement operations with coordination of State Enforcement Agencies throughout the country against poaching and illegal trade of wild animals:

(a) Operation SAVE KURMA: (To target turtle/tortoises)

(b) Operation THUNDERBIRD: (INTERPOL’S Multinational and Multispecies operation for wildlife protection)

(c) Operation WILDNET: (To target Online Wildlife Trade)

(d) Operation LESKNOW: (To target lesser known species)

(e) Operation BIRBIL: (To target Big Cats and Birds)

(f) Operation THUNDERSTORM: (INTERPOL’S Multinational and Multispecies operation against the illegal trade in wildlife and timber)

(g) Operation SOFT GOLD: (To target Shahtoosh Shawls smuggling)

(h) Operation Clean Art by Wildlife Crime Control Division, Wildlife Trust of India was the first pan India operation to crackdown on the smuggling of mongoose hair in the country.

There are six species of mongoose found in India and authorities have mostly recovered [in the raids] grey mongoose.

The mongoose is listed in Schedule II Part 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act and any smuggling or possession of its body part is a non-bailable offence.

Painters prefer brushes made of mongoose hair because they are superior and hold colour better.

United Nation Environment had also awarded Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) with Asia Environment Enforcement Awards, 2018 for excellent work done by the Bureau in combating transboundary environmental crime.

The awards are given to outstanding individuals and/or government organizations/teams that demonstrate excellence and leadership in enforcement of national laws to combat transboundary environmental crime in one of the following eligibility criteria areas: collaboration; impact; innovation; integrity and gender leadership.

WCCB has been conferred this award in Innovation category.

  • Notably it has developed an online Wildlife Crime Database Management System to get real time data in order to help analyze trends in crime and devise effective measures to prevent and detect wildlife crimes across India.
  • It was awarded for its efforts in conducting and coordinating species-specific wildlife enforcement operation codenamed ‘Operation Save Kurma’.
  • The operation was aimed at combating proliferating illegal trade of live turtles and its parts from the country to destinations abroad.

INTERPOL and types of Notices

  • The International Police Organization more commonly known as INTERPOL, is the world’s largest police organization with 192 member countries.
  • Its primary role is to assist law enforcement agencies around the world in combating all forms of transnational crime and terrorism.
  • INTERPOL supports three main ?crime programmes: Counter-terrorism, Cybercrime, and Organized and emerging crime.
  • It aims to facilitate international police cooperation even where diplomatic relations do not exist between particular countries.
  • Action is taken within the limits of existing laws in different countries and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • Its Constitution prohibits ‘any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character’.
  • Each of our member countries maintains a National Central Bureau staffed by its own highly trained law enforcement officials.
  • Recently, the State of Palestine and the Solomon Islands become INTERPOL member countries.

INTERPOL Notices

  • These are international requests for cooperation or alerts allowing police in member countries to share critical crime-related information.
  • They can be published in any of the Organization’s official languages: Arabic, English, French and Spanish.

Types of Notices

Red Notice

  • A Red Notice is a request to locate and provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition.
  • It is issued by the General Secretariat at the request of a member country or an international tribunal based on a valid national arrest warrant.
  • It is not an international arrest warrant. INTERPOL does not issue arrest warrants. 
  • INTERPOL cannot compel any member country to arrest an individual who is the subject of a Red Notice. Each member country decides for itself what legal value to give a Red Notice within their borders.
  • There are about 160 Indians in the Red Notice list of Interpol.
  • India shares the top position in this country-wise list with five other nations – Albania, Argentina, Azerbaijan, El Salvador and Russia.

Why is the Red Notice important?

  • It gives high, international visibility to cases
  • Criminals and suspects are flagged to border officials, making travel difficult
  • Countries can request and share critical information linked to an investigation.

Blue Notice

  • To collect additional information about a person’s identity, location or activities in relation to a crime.

Green Notice

  • To provide warnings and intelligence about persons who have committed criminal offences and are likely to repeat these crimes in other countries.

?Yellow Notice

  • To help locate missing persons, often minors, or to help identify persons who are unable to identify themselves.

Black Notice

  • To seek information on unidentified bodies.

Orange Notice

  • To warn of an event, a person, an object or a process representing a serious and imminent threat to public safety.

Purple Notice

  • To seek or provide information on modus operandi, objects, devices and concealment methods used by criminals.

INTERPOL–United Nations Security Council Special Notice 

  • Issued for groups and individuals who are the targets of UN Security Council Sanctions Committees.

Diffusions

  • Similar to the Notice is another request for cooperation or alert mechanism known as a ‘diffusion’.
  • This is less formal than a notice but is also used to request the arrest or location of an individual or additional information in relation to a police investigation.
  • A diffusion is circulated directly by an NCB to the member countries of their choice, or to the entire INTERPOL membership and is simultaneously recorded in INTERPOL’s Information System.
  • Note: The CBI is the nodal agency for the INTERPOL in India.

CITES

  • CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments.
  • Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
  • The convention resulted from a resolution adopted at a 1963 meeting of member countries of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties – in other words they have to implement the Convention – it does not take the place of national laws.
  • The species covered by CITES are listed in three appendices on the degree of protection they require.
  • For many years CITES has been among the conservation agreements with the largest membership, with now 183 Parties.
  • India is a signatory to this.
  • In addition to plants and animals and their parts, the agreement also restricts trade in items made from such plants and animals, such as clothing, food, medicine, and souvenirs.
  • By 2019 more than 5,800 animal and 30,000 plant species had been classified.
  • The Parties to CITES are collectively referred to as the Conference of the Parties. Every two to three years, the Conference of the Parties meets to review the implementation of the Convention.

Appendices

  • The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need.
  • Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction.
  • Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
  • Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.
  • Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade.
  • Changes to Appendix III follow a distinct procedure from changes to Appendices I and II, as each Party’s is entitled to make unilateral amendments to it.

D) Polity/Bills/Acts/Judgments

6. Home Ministry amends FCRA rules (TH)

Context: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has relaxed norms for farmer, student, religious and other groups who are not directly aligned to any political party to receive foreign funds if the groups are not involved in “active politics or party politics”.

Analysis

  • The Ministry notified new rules under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010 thereby amending the FCRA Rules, 2011, which deal with “guidelines for the declaration of an organisation to be of a political nature, not being a political party.”
  • Clause V of Rule 3 (FCRA 2011) qualified a political group as, “organisations of farmers, workers, students, youths based on caste, community, religion, language or otherwise, which is not directly aligned to any political party, but whose objectives as stated in the memorandum of association, or activities gathered through other material evidence, include steps towards advancement of political interests”.
  • Clause (VI) qualified a group as political if the “organisation by whatever name called habitually engages itself in or employs common methods of political action like rasta roko, jail bharo, rail roko, bandh or hartal in support of public causes”.
  • A new clause says that groups mentioned in Clause V and VI will only be considered a political group if they participate in “active politics or party politics”.

The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA)

  • The FCRA is applicable to all associations, groups and NGOs which intend to receive foreign donations.
  • Under the Act, both the NGOs and the donors can be placed on a ‘watch list’ or in the ‘prior permission’ category, barring them from sending money to associations without the MHA’s clearance.
  • Any NGO or association that intends to receive foreign funds has to compulsorily register under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), monitored by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
  • Registered NGOs can receive foreign contribution for five purposes — social, educational, religious, economic and cultural.
  • All the members and office bearers of an NGO will have to file an affidavit making it mandatory for it to report “any violation” of the FCRA provisions by the applicant organisation. 
  • Filing of annual returns, on the lines of Income Tax, is compulsory.
  • NGOs are required to give an undertaking that the acceptance of foreign funds is not likely to prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India or impact friendly relations with any foreign state and does not disrupt communal harmony.
  • It extends to the whole of India, and it shall also apply to—

(a) citizens of India outside India; and

(b) associate branches or subsidiaries, outside India, of companies or bodies corporate, registered or incorporated in India.

Every person who has been granted a certificate or given prior permission shall receive foreign contribution in a single account only through such one of the branches of a bank.

No funds other than foreign contribution shall be received or deposited in such account or accounts.

However, such person may open one or more accounts in one or more banks for utilising the foreign contribution received by him.

Who can accept Foreign Contribution?

  • Organizations working for definite cultural, social, economic, educational or religious programs canaccept foreign contribution but first, they’ve to get permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • They also have to maintain a separate account book listing the donation received from foreigners and get it audited by a Chartered Accountant and submit it to Home Ministry every year.

Prohibition to accept foreign contribution.

  • No foreign contribution shall be accepted by any—
  • (a) candidate for election;
  • (b) correspondent, columnist, cartoonist, editor, owner, printer or publisher of a registered newspaper;
  • (c) Judge, Government servant or employee of any corporation or any other body controlled or owned by the Government, public servants (as defined under the Indian Penal Code; added by the amendment in 2020);
  • (d) member of any Legislature;
  • (e) political party or office-bearer thereof (this provision has been amended);
  • (f) organisation of a political nature;
  • (g) association or company engaged in the production or broadcast of audio news or audio-visual news or current affairs programmes through any electronic mode.
  • However, in 2017 the Ministry of Home Affairs, through the Finance Bill route, amended the 1976-repealed FCRA law paving the way for political parties to receive funds from the Indian subsidiary of a foreign company or a foreign company in which an Indian holds 50% or more shares.
  • Foreign contribution shall be utilized for the purpose for which it has been received and such contribution can be used for administrative expenses up to 20% of such contribution received in a financial year.

Why is FCRN Act in news in the recent past?

  • The government has amended (retrospectively) the FCRA, allowing foreign-origin companies to finance non-governmental organisations and thus political parties by changing the definition of “foreign companies”.
  • Political parties in India can receive political donations from Indians living abroad as well as foreign companies with subsidiaries in India.
  • Any foreign company can donate any amount of money to Indian political parties through their subsidiaries in India by purchasing electoral bonds.
  • Electoral bonds are promissory notes that can be encashed by a registered political party through a designated bank account.
  • Bonds would allow anonymous, digital donations to parties.

Prohibition to accept foreign contribution

  • Under the 2010 Act, certain persons are prohibited to accept any foreign contribution.  These include: election candidates, editor or publisher of a newspaper, judges, government servants, members of any legislature, and political parties, among others. 
  • The Amendment Act added public servants (as defined under the Indian Penal Code) to this list. 

Transfer of foreign contribution

  • Under the earlier 2010 Act, foreign contribution cannot be transferred to any other person unless such person is also registered to accept foreign contribution (or has obtained prior permission under the Act to obtain foreign contribution). 
  • The 2020 amendment has amended this to prohibit the transfer of foreign contribution to any other person. 
  • The term ‘person’ under the Act includes an individual, an association, or a registered company. 

Aadhaar for registration

  • The Amendment Act added that any person seeking prior permission, registration or renewal of registration must provide the Aadhaar number of all its office bearers, directors or key functionaries, as an identification document. 
  • The Amendment Act has also reduced the use of foreign contribution for administrative purposes to 20% from 50% earlier.

Single SBI branch for all FCRA accounts: Oct 2020

  • The Union Home Ministry has asked all NGOs seeking foreign donations to open a designated FCRA account at the State Bank of India’s New Delhi branch by March 31, 2021.
  • The Ministry’s order reiterated that NGOs registered under FCRA shall not receive any foreign donations in any other bank account from April 1, 2021.
  • In September, the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2020 was amended by Parliament and a new provision that makes it mandatory for all non-government organisations and associations to receive foreign funds in a designated bank account at SBI’s New Delhi branch was inserted.
  • The order said an NGO will have to report the amount and source of foreign remittance received to the authorities.

E) History, Art and Culture

7. Swami Vivekananda and His contributions to India and the World (TH)

Context: PM to unveil the life-size statue of Swami Vivekananda at the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University. 

The ideals of Swami Vivekananda are as relevant today as they were during the life of Swami ji, which laid emphasis on serving the masses and empowering the youth of the nation strengthens the country physically, mentally, and spiritually as well as enhances the global image of the Nation.

Analysis

Swami Vivekananda, known in his pre-monastic life as Narendra Nath Datta, was born in an affluent family in Kolkata on 12 January 1863.

He graduated from Calcutta University, he had acquired a vast knowledge of different subjects, especially Western philosophy and history.

Born with a yogic temperament, he used to practise meditation even from his boyhood, and was associated with Brahmo Movement for some time.

With Sri Ramakrishna

At the threshold of youth Narendra had to pass through a period of spiritual crisis when he was assailed by doubts about the existence of God.

Narendra went to meet Sri Paramhansa Ramakrishna who was staying at the Kali Temple in Dakshineshwar. He straightaway asked the Master a question which he had put to several others but had received no satisfactory answer: “Sir, have you seen God?” Without a moment’s hesitation, Sri Ramakrishna replied: “Yes, I have. I see Him as clearly as I see you, only in a much intenser sense.”

Apart from removing doubts from the mind of Narendra, Sri Ramakrishna won him over through his pure, unselfish love.

Difficult Situations

After a few years two events took place which caused Narendra considerable distress.

One was the sudden death of his father in 1884. This left the family penniless, and Narendra had to bear the burden of supporting his mother, brothers and sisters.

The second event was the illness of Sri Ramakrishna who was diagnosed to be cancer of the throat.

Narendra joined the group as its leader (formation of the new monastic Order as dictated by Sri Ramakrishna)New monastic order was based on the spirit of renunciation and brotherly love for one another.

Under the leadership of Narendra, fellow disciples of Sri Ramakrishna formed a new monastic brotherhood, and in 1887 they took the formal vows of sannyasa, thereby assuming new names. Narendra now became Swami Vivekananda.

So in the middle of 1890 Swamiji left Baranagar Math and embarked on a long journey of exploration and discovery of India.

During his travels all over India, Swami Vivekananda was deeply moved to see the appalling poverty and backwardness of the masses.

He was the first religious leader in India to understand and openly declare that the real cause of India’s downfall was the neglect of the masses. 

One thing became clear to Swamiji: to carry out his plans for the spread of education and for the uplift of the poor masses, and also of women, an efficient organization of dedicated people was needed , so he founded the Ramakrishna Mission.

Decision to attend the Parliament of Religions

It was when these ideas were taking shape in his mind in the course of his wanderings that Swami Vivekananda heard about the World’s Parliament of Religions to be held in Chicago in 1893. His friends and admirers in India wanted him to attend the Parliament.

He too felt that the Parliament would provide the right forum to present his Master’s message to the world, and so he decided to go to America. (With the funds partly collected by his Chennai disciples and partly provided by the Raja of Khetri, Swami Vivekananda left for America from Mumbai on 31 May 1893.)

Another reason which prompted Swamiji to go to America was to seek financial help for his project of uplifting the masses.
Swami Vivekanada wanted to have an inner certitude and divine call regarding his mission. Both of these he got while he sat in deep meditation on the rock-island at Kanyakumari

( Now Vivekananda Rock Memorial is a popular tourist monument in Vavathurai, Kanyakumari, India. It was built in 1970 in honour of Swami Vivekananda who is said to have attained enlightenment on the rock)

The Parliament of Religions and After

His speeches at the World’s Parliament of Religions held in September 1893 made him famous as a ‘Messenger of Indian wisdom to the Western world’.

After the Parliament, Swamiji spent nearly three and a half years spreading Vedanta as taught by Sri Ramakrishna, in the eastern parts of USA and in London.

He returned to India in January 1897 and delivered a series of lectures in different parts of India, which created a great stir all over the country. Through these inspiring and profoundly significant lectures Swamiji attempted to do the following:

  •  to rouse the religious consciousness of the people and create in them pride in their cultural heritage;
  •  to bring about unification of Hinduism by pointing out the common bases of its sects;
  •  to focus the attention of educated people on the plight of the downtrodden masses, and to expound his plan for their uplift by the application of the principles of Practical Vedanta.

Founding of Ramakrishna Mission

Soon after his return to Kolkata, Swami Vivekananda accomplished another important task of his mission on earth. He founded on 1 May 1897 a unique type of organization known as Ramakrishna Mission, in which monks and lay people would jointly undertake propagation of Practical Vedanta, and various forms of social service, such as running hospitals, schools, colleges, hostels, rural development centres etc, and conducting massive relief and rehabilitation work for victims of earthquakes, cyclones and other calamities, in different parts of India and other countries.

Belur Math

In early 1898 Swami Vivekananda acquired a big plot of land on the western bank of the Ganga at a place called Belur to have a permanent abode for the monastery and monastic Order originally started at Baranagar, and got it registered as Ramakrishna Math after a couple of years.

Here Swamiji established a new, universal pattern of monastic life which adapts ancient monastic ideals to the conditions of modern life, which gives equal importance to personal illumination and social service, and which is open to all men without any distinction of religion, race or caste.

Disciples

It may be mentioned here that in the West many people were influenced by Swami Vivekananda’s life and message. Some of them became his disciples or devoted friends. Among them the names of Margaret Noble (later known as Sister Nivedita), Captain and Mrs SevierJosephine McLeod and Sara Ole Bull, deserve special mention.

Nivedita dedicated her life to educating girls in Kolkata.

Swamiji had many Indian disciples also, some of whom joined Ramakrishna Math and became sannyasins.

Swami Vivekananda’s contributions to World Culture

New Understanding of Religion : One of the most significant contributions of Swami Vivekananda to the modern world is his interpretation of religion as a universal experience of transcendent Reality, common to all humanity.

  • Swamiji met the challenge of modern science by showing that religion is as scientific as science itself; religion is the ‘science of consciousness’. As such, religion and science are not contradictory to each other but are complementary.
  • This universal conception frees religion from the hold of superstitions, dogmatism, priestcraft and intolerance, and makes religion the highest and noblest pursuit – the pursuit of supreme Freedom, supreme Knowledge, supreme Happiness.

New View of Man : Vivekananda’s concept of ‘potential divinity of the soul’ gives a new, ennobling concept of man.

  • The present age is the age of humanism which holds that man should be the chief concern and centre of all activities and thinking. Through science and technology man has attained great prosperity and power, and modern methods of communication and travel have converted human society into a ‘global village’.
  • But the degradation of man has also been going on apace, as witnessed by the enormous increase in broken homes, immorality, violence, crime, etc. in modern society. Vivekananda’s concept of potential divinity of the soul prevents this degradation, divinizes human relationships, and makes life meaningful and worth living.

Swamiji has laid the foundation for ‘spiritual humanism’, which is manifesting itself through several neo-humanistic movements and the current interest in meditation, Zen etc all over the world.

New Principle of Morality and Ethics : The prevalent morality, in both individual life and social life, is mostly based on fear – fear of the police, fear of public ridicule, fear of God’s punishment, fear of Karma, and so on. The current theories of ethics also do not explain why a person should be moral and be good to others. Vivekananda has given a new theory of ethics and new principle of morality based on the intrinsic purity and oneness of the Atman. We should be pure because purity is our real nature, our true divine Self or Atman. Similarly, we should love and serve our neighbours because we are all one in the Supreme Spirit known as Paramatman or Brahman.

Bridge between the East and the West : Another great contribution of Swami Vivekananda was to build a bridge between Indian culture and Western culture. He did it by interpreting Hindu scriptures and philosophy and the Hindu way of life and institutions to the Western people in an idiom which they could understand. He made the Western people realize that they had to learn much from Indian spirituality for their own well-being. He showed that, in spite of her poverty and backwardness, India had a great contribution to make to world culture. In this way he was instrumental in ending India’s cultural isolation from the rest of the world.

On the other hand, Swamiji’s interpretation of ancient Hindu scriptures, philosophy, institutions, etc prepared the mind of Indians to accept and apply in practical life two best elements of Western culture, namely science and technology and humanism. Swamiji has taught Indians how to master Western science and technology and at the same time develop spiritually.

Swamiji has also taught Indians how to adapt Western humanism (especially the ideas of individual freedom, social equality and justice and respect for women) to Indian ethos.

Swamiji’s most unique contribution to the creation of new India was to open the minds of Indians to their duty to the downtrodden masses.

Long before the ideas of Karl Marx were known in India, Swamiji spoke about the role of the labouring classes in the production of the country’s wealth.

He was the first religious leader in India to speak for the masses, formulate a definite philosophy of service, and organize large-scale social service.

Swamiji’s Contributions to Hinduism

Identity: It was Swami Vivekananda who gave to Hinduism as a whole a clear-cut identity, a distinct profile. Before Swamiji came Hinduism was a loose confederation of many different sects.

  • He was the first religious leader to speak about the common bases of Hinduism and the common ground of all sects.
  • He was the first person, as guided by his Master Sri Ramakrishna, to accept all Hindu doctrines and the views of all Hindu philosophers and sects as different aspects of one total view of Reality and way of life known as Hinduism.
  • Speaking about Swamiji’s role in giving Hinduism its distinct identity, Sister Nivedita wrote: “… it may be said that when he began to speak it was of ‘the religious ideas of the Hindus’, but when he ended, Hinduism had been created.”

Unification: Before Swamiji came, there was a lot of quarrel and competition among the various sects of Hinduism.

  • Similarly, the protagonists of different systems and schools of philosophy were claiming their views to be the only true and valid ones.
  • By applying Sri Ramakrishna’s doctrine of Harmony (Samanvaya) Swamiji brought about an overall unification of Hinduism on the basis of the principle of unity in diversity.

Defence: Another important service rendered by Swamiji was to raise his voice in defence of Hinduism. In fact, this was one of the main types of work he did in the West because Christian missionary propaganda had given a wrong understanding of Hinduism and India in Western minds.

Meeting the Challenges: At the end of the 19th century, India in general, and Hinduism in particular, faced grave challenges from Western materialistic life, the ideas of Western free society, and the proselytizing activities of Christians. Vivekananda met these challenges by integrating the best elements of Western culture in Hindu culture.

New Ideal of Monasticism: A major contribution of Vivekananda to Hinduism is the rejuvenation and modernization of monasticism.

  • In this new monastic ideal, followed in the Ramakrishna Order, the ancient principles of renunciation and God realization are combined with service to God in man (Shiva jnane jiva seva).
    • Vivekananda elevated social service to the status of divine service.

Refurbishing of Hindu Philosophy and Religious Doctrines: Vivekananda interpreted ancient Hindu scriptures and philosophical ideas in terms of modern thought.

Some Quotes for Essay, Ethics and Life in General

  • Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man.
  • We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one’s own feet.
  • So long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every man a traitor who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them.
  • Whatever you think, that you will be. If you think yourselves weak, weak you will be; if you think yourselves strong, strong you will be.
  • If you have faith in all the three hundred and thirty millions of your mythological gods, … and still have no faith in yourselves, there is no salvation for you. Have faith in yourselves, and stand up on that faith and be strong; that is what we need.
  • Strength, strength it is that we want so much in this life, for what we call sin and sorrow have all one cause, and that is our weakness. With weakness comes ignorance, and with ignorance comes misery.
  • Purity, patience, and perseverance are the three essentials to success, and above all, love.
  • Religion is the manifestation of the Divinity already in man.
  • This is the gist of all worship – to be pure and to do good to others.

F) Miscellaneous

8. National Education Day (PIB)

Other days of National importance

  • Maulana Abul Kalam Azad
  • Good Governance Day: Atal Bihari Vajpayee
  • C V Raman
  • Teachers’ Day: In India, the Teachers’ Day is celebrated on 5th September every year, which is also the birthday of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the first Vice-President of independent India and the second President of the country. The World Teachers’ Day is celebrated on October 5.
  • Sardar Patel’s Birth Anniversary
  • .This year it falls on 13th November 2020.

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