In brief: Ancient monuments in India
What is Ancient monument?
- Ancient Monument means any structure, erection or monument, or any tumulus or place of interment, or any cave, rock-sculpture, inscription or monolith which is of historical, archaeological or artistic interest and which has been in existence for not less than 100 years.
- It includes
- Remains of an ancient monument
- Site of an ancient monument
- Such portion of land adjoining the site of an ancient monument as may be required for fencing or covering in or otherwise preserving such monument
- The means of access to, and convenient inspection of, an ancient monument
Protecting Ancient Monuments
- Ancient monuments in India are protected by Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
- The Archeological Survey of India is the body entrusted with the responsibility of declaring and protecting ancient monuments in the country.
- Currently, there are 3693 protected ancient monuments in India.
- The states with highest number of ancient monuments include UP (745), Karnataka (506) and TN (413)
- In December 2018, ASI declared the following 6 new sites as monuments of national importance
- Old High Court Building – Nagpur
- Haveli of Agha Khan – Agra
- Hathi Khana – Agra
- Neemrana Baori – Rajasthan’s Alwar district
- Group of Temples at Ranipur Jharail – Odisha’s Bolangir district
- Vishnu Temple – Pithoragarh district, Uttarkhand
In brief: Archaeological Survey of India
- The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is an attached office under Ministry of Culture.
- It is the premier organization for the archaeological researches and protection of cultural heritage of India.
- The Archaeological Survey of India was established as a distinct department in 1871.
- Alexander Cunningham was the first Director General of ASI.
Functions of ASI
- Conducting archaeological explorations and excavations
- Maintenance, conservation and protection of ancient monuments, archaeological sites and their remains
- Implementation of Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 and Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972
- Epigraphical and numismatic (coins) studies
- Training in Archaeology
Headline : Explained: What ails the existing microcredit model
- Studies suggest that the existing systems of microcredit have a limited impact on the long-term wellbeing of the recipients.
- Microcredit refers to the granting of very small loans to impoverished borrowers.
- Loans given as microcredit are often given to people who may lack collateral, credit history, or a steady source of income.
- The core idea is that a small loan will provide access to the larger economy to people who live outside the mainstream economy.
- It has an aim of enabling the borrowers to use that capital to become self-employed and strengthen their businesses.
- Microcredit agreements generally do not require any sort of collateral.
- At times it may not even involve a written agreement, as many recipients of microcredit are often illiterate.
- When borrowers demonstrate success in paying their loans on time, they become eligible for loans of even larger amounts.
- Conventionally, microcredit has been used mainly for entrepreneurs to begin production and attain self-sufficiency.
- However, there are other, mostly unexplored paths for the utilisation of microcredit for poverty alleviation and productivity-boosting measure, like:
- Supplement rural labourers
- Small microcredit loans can allow rural labourers to migrate to urban areas to find work during the lean season (when there is no work on farms).
- Those who migrated temporarily during the lean season experienced increased spending in both food and non-food areas, and increased their calories consumed.
- Address climate shocks
- It can also be used to reduce the effects of shocks like floods and drought.
- It can provide people with a form of insurance that both increases production before the shock and provides a safety net after.
- An example of a microcredit institution is the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, founded in 1976 by Mohammed Yunus. It is a pioneering institution in the realm of micro finance.
- The bank has 8.4 million followers, 97% of whom are women, and the bank has repayment success rates between 95 to 98 percent.
- Microcredit falls under the larger umbrella of microfinance.
- Microfinance activities usually target low-income individuals, with the goal of helping them to become self-sufficient.
- Hence, microfinance activities have an aim of poverty alleviation as well.
- Microcredit has emerged as a tool for ensuring the welfare of the most impoverished in society, and boosting development alongside.
- However, some studies claim that certain flaws in microcredit transactions has led to limited benefits, and access to microcredit made very little difference to changing the lifestyles of borrowers.
- As per a study, indicators like Household business profits, business expenditures, consumption, consumer durables spending etc. saw only a 5% impact when microcredit was available.
Repayment schedules main reason for low impact of microcredit:
- To lower the risk of defaulting, microcredit lenders demand an initial repayment that is almost immediate.
- After that, borrowers are required to follow an inflexible weekly schedule for repayments.
- Due to this, borrowers are unable to use loans on investments that may take some time for benefits to be fully realised.
- Hence, they are forced to use the loans on short term investments that only boost production to an extent, and the overall growth of their income remains small.
Findings of various studies on improving impact of microcredit
Initial grace period:
- According to a study, borrowers who received an initial grace period were more likely to have started a new business.
- Such borrowers also reported higher profits and household incomes.
- However, there was also an increased rate of defaulting in this group.
- When borrowers switched from a weekly repayment schedule to a monthly one, there was an increase in incomes without the increased rate of defaulting.
- Under a monthly repayment schedule, borrowers scored 45% lower on the Financial Stress Index.
- Increases in income were more than double when compared to the borrowers under a weekly repayment schedule.
Mitigation of credit risk:
- The barriers to assessing credit risk can be mitigated by using community information.
- Communities can be an accurate source of information about credit risk for microcredit institutions.
- However, the implementation of such processes would require the elimination of bias and incentivising accurate information.
About: Pied Cuckoo
- Different Names
- Scientific Name- Clamator jacobinus
- The genus ‘Clamator’ literally translates to being a shouter, a bird which is quite vocal. The word ‘jacobinus’ relates to pied birds.
- These birds are also called as Chatak locally in India or pied crested cuckoo and Jacobin Cuckoo.
- It is a bird with black and white plumage (pied) with a fancy crest on the head.
- The species is distributed south of the Sahara in Africa and south of the Himalayas in India.
- It is also found in Sri Lanka and parts of Myanmar.
- Populations in India
- There are two populations of the Pied Cuckoo in India.
- One is a resident in the southern part of the country. They are not migratory in nature.
- The other, makes its way to North and Central India from Africa by crossing the Arabian Sea, along with the monsoon winds.
- Though, it is believed that the pied cuckoos that come to the Himalayan foothills are from Africa, this has never been ascertained through collected data.
- Pied cuckoos have high site fidelity, that is, they come back to the same location year after year.
- However, it is not known from which exact part of Africa they come from.
- Arrival in Summers
- The pied cuckoo is one of the few species that come to India in the summer.
- Most other migratory species come in winter from colder places like Mongolia, Siberia, northeastern China, Kazakhstan etc.
- The bird is primarily arboreal, which means that it mostly lives on trees but often forages for food in low bushes, and sometimes even on the ground.
- As it is arboreal nature, its habitat includes forests, well-wooded areas and also bushes in semi-arid regions.
- Role in Food Webs
- These birds are primarily insectivores and feed on grasshoppers, beetles and are also often seen feeding on fruits and berries from trees.
- The species, like all cuckoos, is a brood parasite.
- It lays its eggs in nests that belong to other birds, preferring similar-sized birds like babblers and bulbuls, as their ‘hosts’.
- The hosts are often distracted by male cuckoos, and the females quickly lay their similar-sized and coloured eggs into the hosts’ nests.
- The hosts then take care of the eggs and the chicks that hatch from them, as their own.
- The parasitic chicks are fed by the hosts and then leave the host parents once they are ready to be on their own.
Pied Cuckoos & Indian Monsoons
- The arrival of the pied cuckoos in the Himalayan foothills has traditionally been seen as heralding the onset of the monsoon.
- Indian farmers have traditionally relied on the arrival of the pied cuckoo as a signal to sow seeds, as they know that the monsoon will be upon them soon.
- This signal is never wrong, because the pied cuckoo arrives in India riding the monsoon wind.
- Gathering information about the migratory route of the pied cuckoo can be invaluable for research on “climatic variations” taking place in the world, especially since the species has such a close association with the monsoon.
Pied Cuckoo & Climate Change
- Studying Pied Cuckoo will also give information on the monsoon, changes in the monsoon and monsoon winds, erratic rainfall, seasonal fluctuations, water vapour pressure, etc
- Climatic regimes are governed by temperature and wind and water currents, or the conveyor belts that they result in.
- Extreme weather events take place when there are disruptions in these conveyor belts. The movement of a species such as the pied cuckoo, can indicate any such disruptions.
About WII & IIRS
- Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is Dehradun-based organization under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
- It is India’s apex institute for the study of wildlife science.
- Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS) is also in Dehradun and is a constituent unit of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).