News: With a view to orienting its officers and men posted along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Tibetan culture and also preparing them to better understand the information warfare, the Army has begun a course in Tibetology in a tie-up with the Central Institute of Himalayan Cultural Studies in Arunachal Pradesh.
India’s Famous Buddhist Monasteries:
Hemis Monastery, Ladakh
Thiksey Monastery, Ladakh
Phuktal Monastery, Zanskar
Tawang Monastery, Aranachal Pradesh
Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim
Tabo Monastery, Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India
Kye Gompa Monastery, Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh
Matho Monastery, Leh in Ladakh
Ghum Monastery, West Bengal
2. SPOT BILLED PELICAN
News: Photo: Flying high A glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) flying past a flock of spot-billed pelicans (Pelecanus philippensis) at a tank in Coimbatore.
About Spot Billed Pelican:
The spot-billed pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) or grey pelican, is a member of the pelican family.
It breeds in southern Asia from southern Iran across India east to Indonesia.
It is a bird of large inland and coastal waters, especially large lakes.
The species is found to breed only in peninsular India, Sri Lanka and in Cambodia.
The main habitat is in shallow lowland freshwaters.
Estimates suggest that increased protection has since enabled a recovery in their numbers and the status of the species was changed from vulnerable to near threatened in the 2007 IUCN Red List.
News: Mumbai lost 81% of its open land (barren spaces without any vegetation), 40% green cover (forests & scrublands) and approximately 30% of its water bodies (lakes, ponds, floodplains) between 1991 and 2018, while the built-up area (areas developed upon) rose by 66% in the same period, says a recent study. It concludes that the city witnessed a 2-degree Celsius average temperature rise across 27 years.
Desertification refers to the persistent degradation of dryland ecosystems by climatic variations and human activities. It occurs on all continents (except Antarctica) and affects the livelihoods of millions of people, including a large proportion of the poor in drylands.
The U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) defines it as “land degradation in arid, semiarid and dry subhumid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities.”
Land degradation is in turn defined as the reduction or loss of the biological or economic productivity of drylands.
About United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification:
The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (UNCCD) is a Convention to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through national action programs that incorporate long-term strategies supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements.
The Convention, the only convention stemming from a direct recommendation of the Rio Conference’s Agenda 21, was adopted in Paris, France, on 17 June 1994 and entered into force in December 1996. It is the only internationally legally binding framework set up to address the problem of desertification.
The Convention is based on the principles of participation, partnership and decentralization—the backbone of Good Governance and Sustainable Development. It has 197 parties, making it near universal in reach.
To help publicise the Convention, 2006 was declared “International Year of Deserts and Desertification” but debates have ensued regarding how effective the International Year was in practice.
The UNCCD has been ratified by the European Union and 196 states: all 193 UN member states, the State of Palestine, the Cook Islands, and Niue.
4. JUDICIAL ACTIVISM
News: A “distressed” government has taken a leaf from former United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech to indicate that the judiciary ought not to act as a “super-legislature” by entertaining a challenge to the Tribunal Reforms Act by Rajya Sabha member Jairam Ramesh.
About Judicial Activism:
Judicial activism is a judicial philosophy holding that the courts can and should go beyond the applicable law to consider broader societal implications of its decisions.
It is sometimes used as an antonym of judicial restraint.
It is usually a pejorative term, implying that judges make rulings based on their own political agenda rather than precedent and take advantage of judicial discretion.
The question of judicial activism is closely related to judicial interpretation, statutory interpretation, and separation of powers.
5. GAUTAM BUDDHA
News: When Prime Minister Narendra Modi declares open the Kushinagar International Airport in Uttar Pradesh on October 20, a sizeable Sri Lankan contingent, led by a member of the first family, will be present.
Kushinagar is the centre of the Buddhist circuit, which consists of pilgrimage sites at Lumbini, Sarnath and Gaya. Buddhist pilgrims consider Kushinagar a sacred site where, they believe, Gautama Buddha delivered his last sermon and attained ‘Mahaparinirvana’ or salvation.
About Gautama Buddha:
He is regarded as the founder of the world religion of Buddhism, and revered by most Buddhist schools as a savior, the Enlightened One who rediscovered an ancient path to release clinging and craving and escape the cycle of birth and rebirth.
His teaching is based on his insight into the arising of duḥkha (the unsatisfactoriness of clinging to impermanent states and things) and the ending of duhkha—the state called Nibbāna or Nirvana (extinguishing of the three fires).
The Buddha taught a middle way between sensual indulgence and the severe asceticism found in the Indian śramaṇa movement.
He taught a training of the mind that included ethical training, self-restraint, and meditative practices such as jhana and mindfulness.
Gautama’s teachings were compiled by the Buddhist community in the Vinaya, his codes for monastic practice, and the Suttas, texts based on his discourses.
Later generations composed additional texts, such as systematic treatises known as Abhidharma, biographies of the Buddha, collections of stories about the Buddha’s past lives known as Jataka tales, and additional discourses, i.e. the Mahayana sutras.