JANUARY 2019 (1-31)

Heritage conservation in Indian Railways
The Ministry of Railways has initiated several steps to promote heritage conservation. The conservation measures undertaken by railways include a revival of Steam Locomotives, up-keeping Hill Railways, a special delegation of powers to Divisions for promoting Hill and Steam tourism, strengthening Railway museums, conservation of built heritage, digitization of Railway Heritage and bringing it online for universal access etc.
Measures undertaken for Heritage conservation
The measures undertaken for heritage conservation are:
Zonal Railways/Production Units are organising drives from time to time for identification and preservation of Railway heritage assets like buildings, bridges, rolling stocks, documents, photographs, artefacts, equipment, clocks, benches etc, which currently lying unnoticed or overlooked at different locations.
A specific provision was made by the Ministry of Railways in the budget outlay for 2018-19 for the revival of steam locomotives including restoration and procurement of spares.
A weekly regular timetabled train on steam traction has been made operational between Garhi Harsaru and Farukhnagar.
Maintenance of five hill railways of India [Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR), Kalka Shimla Railway (KSR), Matheran Light Railway(MLR) and Kangra Valley Railway (KVR)] are undertaken as per codal provision of Indian Railways and UNESCO Guidelines.
Special powers have been delegated to  Divisional Railway Managers of five hill railways for promoting tourism in these five hill railways.
Ministry of Railways had also organised a day-long event of heritage officers of Zonal Railways and Production Units to give complete attention to the century-old rich heritage of Indian Railways and to train them in heritage conservation approaches.

Sabarimala Opens for Makaravilakku festival season
The Sabarimala shrine has been opened for the annual 21-day annual Makaravilakku festival season.
Women Enters Sabarimala Shrine
The History was made on 2nd January 2019. Women on the menstrual age entered the Sabarimala shrine during this season of Makaravilakku festival. Even though Supreme Court had struck down the century-old religious practice which barred the entry of women in the menstrual age to the temple, the entry of women was not possible due to widespread opposition by the religious groups. But during the early hours of 2nd January 2019 two women by name Bindu Ammini, 42 years and Kanaka Durga, 44 years entered the adobe of Swamy Ayappa.
Makaravilakku is the religious practice performed by the tribes in the forest of Ponnambalamedu. Once the Cyrus star (Makara Jyothi) appears in the sky during the day of the Makara Sankranti festival, the tribes perform their rituals in a temple at Ponnambalamedu forest. As part of the ritual, the tribes perform aarathi by lighting camphor and ghee in a vessel and circling around the idol at the temple in the Ponnambalamedu forest 3 times. This Aarathi performed by the tribes is referred to as Makaravilakku.

Monuments of national importance
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) recently declared that it has added six structures to the list of monuments of national importance, taking the total number to 3,693. With 506 monuments under its belt, Karnataka continues to top the list in South India, followed by Tamil Nadu (413). Nationally too, Karnataka is in the second place after Uttar Pradesh, which has 745 such monuments.
The six monuments declared as Monuments of national importance in 2018 are:
Old High Court Building in Nagpur, Maharashtra.
Haveli of Agha Khan in Agra.
Haveli of Hathi Khana in Agra.
Neemrana Baori in Rajasthan’s Alwar district.
Group of Temples at Ranipur Jharail in Odisha’s Bolangir district.
Vishnu Temple in Kotali, Pithoragarh district, Uttarkhand.
What is an Ancient Monument?
According to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, any structure, sculpture, inscription, etc., which is in existence for not less than 100 years is termed ancient.
ASI: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), under the Ministry of Culture, is the premier organization for the archaeological researches and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation.
Functions: Maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance is the prime concern of the ASI. Besides it regulate all archaeological activities in the country as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. It also regulates Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was formed in 1861 by a statute passed into law by Canning, with Alexander Cunningham as its first Archaeological Surveyor, to excavate and conserve India’s ancient built heritage.

Makaravilakku festival season:
The hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa in Kerala has been opened for the 21 day-long Makaravilakku festival season, marking the concluding phase of the annual pilgrimage season.
Makaravilakku festival season: Makaravilakku is an annual festival held on Makar Sankranti in Kerala, at the shrine of Sabarimala. The festival includes the Thiruvabharanam (sacred ornaments of Ayyappan) procession and a congregation at the hill shrine of Sabarimala.

Andhra unveils second largest rock art trove
Andhra Pradesh’s second largest petroglyph site, containing about 80 petroglyhs, has been discovered at Mekala Benchi in Kurnool district. Mekala Benchi has petroglyphs dating back from the Neolithic to the Megalithic period, Kandanathi carvings range from the prehistoric to the historic period. These petroglyphs, or rock carvings, become a major site of Neolithic settlements in south India.
Two boulders, one known locally as ‘Boodida Konda’ (ash-coloured hill) and the other an unnamed granite hillock, mostly have images of bulls or bull-riding, in addition to human figures, an elephant, tiger-like animals and cupules. The current archeological site, at the granite foothills of Boodida Konda, could possibily a Neolithic settlement, Kandanathi, with 200 petroglyphs, is also in Kurnool district. The present day Gollas and Kurubas (grazing communities), who are predominant in this region, are the living examples of the first pastoralists who resembles Neolithic people.
What are Petroglyphs
Petroglyphs are rock carvings (rock paintings are called pictographs) made by pecking directly on the rock surface using a stone chisel and a hammer stone. When the desert varnish (or patina) on the surface of the rock was chipped off, the lighter rock underneath was exposed, creating the petroglyph. They should not be confused with hieroglyphics, which are symbols used to represent words, nor thought of as ancient Indian graffiti. Petroglyphs are powerful cultural symbols that reflect the complex societies and religions of the surrounding tribes

Sanskriti Kumbh
The Uttar Pradesh Governor Shri Ram Naik inaugurated the Sanskriti Kumbh at Prayagraj. The Sanskriti Kumbh celebrates the conglomeration of Spiritual Consciousness and Cultural Heritage of India in the main premises of Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj. It is being organised by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India under the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat initiative.
Celebrating the Diversity of India
The Sanskriti Kumbh is aimed at showcasing the vibrancy of India. The Sanskriti Kumbh will give a chance to people to experience all the colours of Indian Culture at one place. This cultural extravagance aims to promote and reconnect the people especially the youth with our magnificent and multifaceted culture along with the opulence and its historical significance. The cultural performances would display the legacy of India’s Spiritual and Mythological practices. The performances will showcase the inclination of visitors towards devotion and Kumbh tradition. The folk dances, representing states from East West North South India, will showcase the spirit of Unity in Diversity that is Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat. Under the ambit of Sanskriti Kumbh, Rashtriya Shilp Mela is being organised to display handicrafts and live demonstration of the skill by craftsmen.
Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj
Kumbh Mela is one of the oldest and largest congregation in the world. The Kumbh Mela is now part of the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural heritage for humanity in. This year Kumbh Mela is being organized in the city of Prayagraj which is located at the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna and Mystic river of Saraswati in Uttar Pradesh.

Hunar Haats
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recently inaugurated Hunar Haat organised by Minority Affairs Ministry at State Emporium Complex in New Delhi. Hunar Haats are organised by Ministry of Minority Affairs under USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills & Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development) scheme. The USTTAD scheme aims at preserving & promoting the rich heritage of the traditional arts & crafts of the Minority communities.  This is one of the flagship programmes of the Ministry. Hunar Haats have become a successful mission to provide employment and income generation opportunities with platforms for marketing the products of master artisans, craftsmen and culinary experts belonging to the minority communities. It envisages at boosting the skill of craftsmen, weavers and artisans who are already engaged in the traditional ancestral work.

Women of India Festival 2016:
The Ministry of Women and Child Development is organising the three-day 6th ‘Women of India Organic Festival’ in Chandigarh, to celebrate and promote women farmers and entrepreneurs in the organic sector from the remotest parts of India. The Festival will offer on sale the biggest selection of organic products ranging from food, fabrics and furniture to wellness, personal care and solar products. It is being organised and sponsored by the Union Ministry of Women & Child Development. This initiative is a move to benefit women entrepreneurs, and also actively promote organic food and products. The Women of India Festival is also intended to highlight the health and environmental advantages of organic goods, provide a platform for women engaged in this economy and encourage the development of sustainable and easily accessible sales outlets for organic producers from remote areas. On 14th January 2019, Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, Union Minister for Women and Child Development will inaugurate National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD) Mohali Regional Centre.
National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD) –
It is a premier organization devoted to promotion of voluntary action research, training and documentation in the overall domain of women and child development. It was established in New Delhi in 1966 under Societies Registration Act of 1860. It functions under the aegis of the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Regional Centres at Guwahati (1978), Bangalore (1980), Lucknow (1982) and Indore (2001). Institute’s expertise and performance was recognized by UNICEF in 1985 when it awarded the Maurice Pate Award for its outstanding contribution in the field of Child Development.

National Youth Parliament Festival 2019:
National Youth Parliament Festival 2019 has begun, thereby beginning the celebration of the National Youth Day 2019.
Theme: “Be The Voice of New India” and “Find solutions and contribute to policy”.
Eligibility: Youth in the age bracket of 18-25 years are invited to participate in the District Youth Parliaments.
Significance: The National Youth Parliament Festival will encourage the youth to engage with public issues, understand the common man’s point of view, form their opinion and express these in an articulate manner. Relevant and effective voices on the vision of New India would be captured and documented to make these available to policy makers and implementers to take it forward.
The National Youth Parliament Festival 2019 will be conducted at three levels:
District Youth Parliament (DYP) at the district level.
State Youth Parliament (SYP) at the State Level.
National Youth Parliament (NYP) at the National Level. The National Service Scheme and Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangthan organizations will remain involved at different levels in its conduct and management.
National Youth Day –
The National Youth Day (also called as Yuva Diwas) is observed on January 12 every year to commemorate the birthday of Swami Vivekananda. The main objective is to propagate the philosophy and the ideals of Swami Vivekananda. It became a mainstream celebration in India from 1985 onwards and observed on January 12 ever since.
National Service Scheme (NSS) –
The National Service Scheme is an Indian government-sponsored public service program conducted by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports of the Government of India. The scheme was launched in Gandhiji’s Centenary year in 1969. The University Grants Commission (UGC) headed by Dr. Radhakrishnan recommended introduction of national service in the academic institutions on a voluntary basis with a view to developing healthy contacts between the students and teachers on the one hand and establishing a constructive linkage between the campus and the community on the other hand.
Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan – Nehru Yuva Kendras was established in 1972. Later in 1987 under Rajiv Gandhi Government it became Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, an autonomous organization under Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

DD Science and India Science launched
The Minister of Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan launched the initiatives DD Science and India Science to popularise science in India. The initiatives aim to develop the scientific temper in Indian society.
DD Science
DD Science is a one-hour slot on Doordarshan National channel which will be telecast Monday to Saturday from 5 pm to 6 pm. DD Science may be scaled up to a full-fledged channel in the future.
India Science
India Science is an Internet-based channel which will be available on any internet-enabled device and will offer live, scheduled play and video-on-demand services. India Science will have a 24×7 presence through www.indiascience.in.
Implementation of DD Science and India Science
DD Science and India Science have been conceived and supported by the Department of Science and Technology and are being implemented and managed by Vigyan Prasar. An agreement has been signed between Vigyan Prasar  and Doordarshan in this regard.
Vigyan Prasar
Vigyan Prasar (VP) is an autonomous organisation under the Department of Science and Technology. Vigyan Prasar aims to popularise science in India through several strategically important approaches.

ASI finds 2,300-year-old artefacts in Odisha
Archeological Survey of India finds 2,300-year-old artefacts in Odisha. Artefacts believed to be 2,300-year-old at the Asurgarh Fort in Odisha’s Kalahandi district. It reveals a number of brick structures. Wedge shaped bricks are also noticed in the circular structures. Most of the structures have terracotta tiles with grooves and hole for socketing. It is assumed that Asurgarh people during that time probably used stone rubbles and tile fragments for flooring their houses and the streets. Silver punch marked coins, silver and copper toe ring and earrings, beads of carnelian, jasper, beryl, garnet, agate and coral has also been found. Other discovered artefacts include, glass bangle pieces of different designs and colours, sling balls, pestle, iron equipment like small wheel, ring, and arrow head. Silver punch mark coins indicates about long distant trade and association of hinterland people with seafaring people.
Asurgarh Fort
Fort is surrounded by moat on its northern, eastern and southern sides. Sandul river flows to the north. The fort had four wide gates in four cardinal directions and at each gate was installed one guardian deity. Deities are named as Ganga at the eastern gate, Kalapat at the western, Vaishnavi at the northern and Dokri at the southern gate,

Rio de Janeiro recognised as World Capital of Architecture 2020
Rio de Janeiro has been recognised as ‘World Capital of Architecture’ for 2020 by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Rio de Janeiro will be hosting the World Congress of the International Union of Architects (UIA) in July 2020. The theme of the 2020 World Congress of the International Union of Architects is “All the worlds. Just one world,” UNESCO in the release said that “Through the range and quality of its activities, the World Capital of Architecture in Rio de Janeiro will demonstrate the crucial role of architecture and culture in sustainable urban development.”
World Capital of Architecture
The World Capital of Architecture initiative underscores the common commitment of UNESCO and the UIA to preserve architectural heritage in the urban context. UNESCO designates the World Capital of Architecture as per the partnership agreement with the UIA. The World Capital of Architecture also hosts the UIA’s World Congress, an event that takes place every three years. The World Capital of Architecture aims to become an international forum for debates about pressing global challenges from the perspectives of culture, cultural heritage, urban planning and architecture.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
A specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris. Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter. It is the successor of the League of Nations’ International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation. UNESCO pursues its objectives through five major programs: education, natural sciences, social/human sciences, culture and communication/information.  Projects sponsored by UNESCO include literacy, technical, and teacher-training programs, international science programs, the promotion of independent media and freedom of the press, regional and cultural history projects, the promotion of cultural diversity, translations of world literature, international cooperation agreements to secure the world’s cultural and natural heritage (World Heritage Sites) and to preserve human rights, and attempts to bridge the worldwide digital divide. It is also a member of the United Nations Development Group.
UNESCO’s aim is “to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information”. Other priorities of the organization include attaining quality Education For All and lifelong learning, addressing emerging social and ethical challenges, fostering cultural diversity, a culture of peace and building inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication.
The broad goals and objectives of the international community—as set out in the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)—underpin all UNESCO strategies and activities.
September 8 was declared International Literacy Day by UNESCO on October 26, 1966 at 14th session of UNESCO’s General conference. It was celebrated for the first time in 1967. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. Celebrations take place in several countries.

Designating projects and places of cultural and scientific significance, such as:
Global Geoparks Network
Biosphere reserves, through the Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB), since 1971
City of Literature; in 2007, the first city to be given this title was Edinburgh, the site of Scotland’s first circulating library. In 2008, Iowa City, Iowa became the City of Literature.
Endangered languages and linguistic diversity projects
Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
Memory of the World International Register, since 1997
Water resources management, through the International Hydrological Programme (IHP), since 1965
World Heritage Sites
World Digital Library

Arunachal govt declares Pakke Hornbill Fest as ‘state festival’:
The government of Arunachal Pradesh has declared the Pakke Paga Hornbill Festival (PPHF)–the state’s only conservation festival, as a “state festival”.
Great Indian Hornbill: The great hornbill is long-lived, living for nearly 50 years in captivity. It is predominantly fruit eating, but is an opportunist and preys on small mammals, reptiles and birds.
IUCN status: Vulnerable (uplisted from Near Threatened in 2018).
It is also listed in Appendix I of CITES.

Aadi Mahotsav: Organized by Ministry of Tribal affairs and TRIFED. The Mahotsav will comprise of display and sale of items of tribal art and craft, tribal medicine & healers, tribal cuisine and display of tribal folk performance, in which tribal artisans, chefs, folk dancers/musicians from 23 States of the country shall participate and provide glimpse of their rich traditional culture.
The festival will feature exhibition-cum-sale of tribal handicrafts, art, paintings, fabric, jewellery and much more.
Significance of the event: As the name of this event Aadi Mahotsav suggests, it is it’s ‘Adi’ factor that is important about them. The Adivasi way of life is guided by primal truths, eternal values and a natural simplicity. The greatness of the tribes lies in this that they have managed to retain the primal skills and natural simplicity. This quality gives their arts and crafts a timeless appeal. The crudest tribal handicraft instantly touches a primal instinct in all of us. This is particularly true in tribal music and dance.

Keerian – Gandial bridge:
Keerian – Gandial bridge, over river Ravi, was recently inaugurated. The bridge over Ravi at Keerian – Gandial will benefit over 2,20,000 people living on the two sides – Kathua in Jammu, and Pathankot in Punjab. It will reduce the distance between the two cities from 45 kms to 8.6 kms. The Keerian – Gandial bridge will improve inter-state connectivity.