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16 february 2024 current affairs

BAPS Hindu Temple

why in news? 

 According to a press release from BAPS Hindu Mandir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the BAPS Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi, on February 14.

 BAPS Hindu Temple: First Hindu Temple in Abu Dhabi, UAE

 BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi, stands as a testament to cultural harmony, architectural grandeur, and the deepening ties between India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Conception of the Temple: It was first envisioned by Pramukh Swami Maharaj, spiritual leader of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, in 1997. Land Allocation and Bilateral Ties: Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, donated 13.5 acres of land for the temple’s construction during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in 2015.

 UAE Government further allocated an additional 13.5 acres of land in January 2019, bringing the total land gifted for the temple to 27 acres. Foundation Stone: It was laid by Prime Minister Modi in 2017. Formal foundation stone-laying ceremony was held on April 20, 2019.


 It is not just a place of worship but a beacon of peace, tolerance, and mutual respect among diverse communities. Peaceful Co-existence:

 A Muslim king donated land for a Hindu Mandir, where the lead architect is a Catholic Christian, the project manager a Sikh, the foundational designer a Buddhist, the construction company a Parsi group, and the director comes from the Jain tradition.

Features Of BAPS Hindu Temple Architectural Design:

 Made from Pink Rajasthan Sandstone and White Italian Marble.

 It involves intricately hand-carved stones, shipped from India for assembly in the UAE.

 Seven towers or shikhar narrates the tales from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavatam, and Shiva Purana.

 The shikharas are adorned with depictions of deities such as Venkateshwara, Swaminarayan, Jagannath, and Ayyappa.

Spiritual Rivers:

 A ‘holy river’ surrounds the temple, with waters from Ganga and Yamuna brought in.

 The river Saraswati is depicted in the form of white light.

 A Varanasi-like ghat has been created where the ‘Ganga’ passes. Intricate Carvings and Artwork: The temple features detailed carvings of deities, animals, and motifs, reflecting Hindu culture and the UAE’s heritage. 96 Bells and Gaumukhs: Installed around the path leading to the temple, these bells pay tribute to Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s 96 years of life. Pillars: Various types of pillars, such as circular and hexagonal, are present. Notably, the ‘Pillar of Pillars’ features around 1,400 small pillars carved into it. Surroundings: Surrounding buildings are modern and monolithic, with colors resembling sand dunes. Deities: Deities from all four corners of India are featured, including Lord Ram, Sita, Lakshman, Hanuman, Lord Shiv, Parvati, Ganpati, Kartikeya, Lord Jagannath, Lord RadhaKrishna, Akshar-Purushottam Maharaj (Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Gunatitanand Swami), Tirupati Balaji, Padmavati, and Lord Ayappa.

 Mosaic of Civilization: Stories from Indian civilization, Maya civilization, Aztec civilization, Egyptian civilization, Arabic civilization, European civilization, Chinese civilization, and African civilization have been depicted.

Dome of Harmony:

 This unique feature represents the balance of the five natural elements – earth, water, fire, air, and space.  Recycled Material Usage: The temple integrates sustainable practices, using recycled wooden pallets for    furniture in the food court.  Advanced Sensor Technology: Equipped with over 100 sensors in its foundation to monitor seismic activity and environmental changes.

Significance of BAPS Hindu Temple In UAE

Cultural and Spiritual Hub:

 The BAPS Hindu Temple serves as a vibrant center for Hindu culture, spirituality, and learning.

 It aims to promote values of peace, harmony, and respect for all living beings.

Symbol of India-UAE Friendship:

 The temple’s construction, facilitated by the UAE government’s generous land donation, signifies the strengthening bonds between India and the UAE.

Platform for Bilateral Exchange:

 The temple stands as a symbol of mutual respect and understanding between the two nations, enhancing cultural exchange and diplomatic ties.

Promoting Tolerance and Diversity:

 As a testament to the UAE’s commitment to religious freedom and diversity, the temple underscores the country’s progressive stance in the Middle East. Boosting Tourism and Economy:

 Expected to attract millions of visitors, the temple will contribute to the tourism sector, further intertwining the economic interests of India and the UAE.

Community and Global Outreach:

 The temple plans to host cultural, educational, and humanitarian activities, fostering community engagement and global awareness.


BAPS Full Form:

 Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS).

 The organisation is named after Bhagwan Swaminarayan, a religious leader who lived in the late 1700s.

 It is a socio-spiritual Hindu faith with its roots in the vedas and was pioneered by Bhagwan Swaminarayan (1781-1830) in the late 18th century and established in 1907 by Shastriji Maharaj (1865-1951).

 BAPS claims to run over 3,850 centres across the world and 1,100 temples.

 Akshardham Temples: The Akshardham temples in Delhi and Gujarat are run by BAPS.

 The organisation is behind the Akshardham in Robbinsville, New Jersey, which is also the world’s largest Hindu temple outside of India.

 Akshardham Mahamandir, located 99 kilometres south of New York City, is in an area of 185 acres in New Jersey and stands at 191 feet high.

Rising Human-Animal Conflict


why in news ?

 Wayanad is on the boil after a wild elephant chased a 47-year-old man and trampled him to death.

Rising Human-Animal Conflict in Kerala

 The tragedy brings to attention escalating human-animal conflict in the state.

 Increased incidence of wild animals, mainly elephants, tigers, bison, and wild boars, attacking human beings have been reported from across the state. 

 Government data for 2022-23 recorded 8,873 wild animal attacks, of which, 4193 were by wild elephants, 1524 by wild boars, 193 by tigers, 244 by leopards, and 32 by bison.

 Of 98 reported deaths, 27 were due to elephant attacks.

 Beyond posing risk to humans, these attacks also devastated Kerala’s agriculture sector.

 From 2017 to 2023, there were 20,957 incidents of crop loss due to wild animal raids which also killed 1,559 domestic animals, mainly cattle.

Wayanad Worst-affected Region:

 Wayanad, which boasts of a forest cover of 36.48 per cent, has lost 41 lives to elephant attacks and seven to tiger attacks over the last decade.

 Its geographical location plays a role in this.

 Reasons Behind Rise in Human-Animal Conflict in Kerala

 A 2018 study by Dehradun’s Wildlife Institute of India and the Periyar Tiger Conservation Foundation in Kerala found two major drivers of human-animal conflict in the state.

Decline in Quality of Forest Habitats:

 Largely due to the cultivation of alien plants — mainly acacia, mangium and eucalyptus — in forest tracts for commercial purposes.

 With 30,000 hectares of forest land in Kerala being used for cultivation of these species, animals are deprived of their natural habitat and food sources. Moreover, these water-guzzling species also strain the forest’s natural water resources.

 Elephants are among the worst-affected species due to this. Invasive species such as lantana, mikania and senna, planted by forest department over decades, have also hindered growth of natural vegetation in forests.

Changing Agri-practices:

 The study also found that changing agripractices were also responsible for drawing animals, which do not find enough fodder in their habitats, out of forests. In recent years, owing to poor returns and high wage costs, more and more farmland is being left unattended.

 This makes them ideal targets for wildlife looking to snack on bananas and pineapples, among the most cultivated crops in the region.  Moreover, the increase in wildlife attacks has further pushed people to safer settlements away from their farms.

 This further entices animals to raid estates neighboring forests.

 The crisis in Kerala’s farm sector has also driven many towards animal husbandry.

 In Wayanad particularly, the dairy sector has emerged as a lifeline for villagers.

 But domesticated animals are also prime targets for tigers and other carnivores, especially older animals less capable of hunting in the wild.

Kerala Addressing This Issue

 The state has several schemes meant to prevent animals from entering human settlements. These include schemes for the construction of elephant-proof trenches, elephant proof stone walls, and solar powered electric fencing.

 In 2022-23, the state conducted maintenance of 158.4 km of elephant-proof trenches, and constructed 42.6 km of solar fencing and 237 m of compound walls.

 To keep animals in forests, Kerala has also undertaken eco-restoration programmes.

 The state is also running a scheme to acquire land from farmers, to be then converted into forestland.  However, these measures are far away from addressing the crisis. 


Need for Deep Industrialisation in India Ineffective Manufacturing Competitiveness:

 To improve competitiveness in manufacturing, high-tech infrastructure and skilled manpower are crucial. However, India faces challenges such as limited telecom facilities outside major cities and loss-making State Electricity Boards.

 Industrial policies in India have failed to push the manufacturing sector whose contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is stagnated at about 16% since 1991.

Lack of Adequate Transportation Facilities:

 India's transportation infrastructure is strained, with overburdened rail networks and various issues plaguing road transport. These challenges hinder efficient movement of goods and impact manufacturing competitiveness.

MSME Sector Constraints:

 The MSME sector faces difficulties in accessing credit compared to medium and large-scale industries. This bias needs correction to support the growth of the MSME sector, which is vital for India's economic development.

High Dependency on Imports:

 India still relies on foreign imports for various critical sectors, including transport equipment, machinery, iron and steel, chemicals, and fertilizers. This dependency highlights the need for import substitution strategies.

 In India, the total industrial production of consumer goods contributes 38%. In newly industrialized countries like Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia this percentage is 52%, 29% and 28% respectively. Challenges in India’s Industrialization India's Post-Pandemic Distorted Economic Landscape:

 India has maintained its growth momentum, recovering relatively quickly from the pandemic. However, it is experiencing "premature deindustrialization," where high growth benefits a small minority, exacerbating existing inequalities.

 While high-end cars sell out, common people struggle with high food prices, highlighting structural flaws in India's growth model.

Drawbacks of Services-Led Growth:

 While services-driven growth has been a focus since the late 1980s, it has not absorbed labor from agriculture as effectively as manufacturing would have.

 Additionally, the service sector requires a highly skilled workforce, leading to deep inequalities. Investments in higher education have contributed to the neglect of basic and elementary education, further exacerbating inequalities.

Education Disparities and Industrial Stagnation:

 India's education system reflects deep inequalities, with investments in human capital favoring the elite. This has led to a lack of entrepreneurial ventures on a large scale, unlike in China.

 The differential quality of schooling and higher education contributes to unequal labor market outcomes, particularly affecting first-generation graduates from rural areas and small towns. Cultural Factors in Industrialization:

 A key cultural prerequisite for industrialization is mass education, which India lacks. Joel Mokyr suggests that the rise of useful knowledge is crucial for technological progress and growth.

 India's cultural devaluation of certain occupations essential for manufacturing, as well as the undervaluation of vocational skills, hampers organic innovation and industrial progress.