Headline : Who was Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis or ‘PCM’?
About P C Mahalanobis
- P.C. Mahalanobis was born in Calcutta on June 29, 1893.
- He was educated at the Brahmo Boys School, founded by Raja Ram Mohan Roy and went on to receive a B.Sc in Physics from Presidency College, Kolkata.
- After completing his majors in Physics from Presidency College in Calcutta in 1912, Mahalabonis joined the University of London the following year.
- He introduced to the concepts of anthropometry (the study of measurements and proportions of the human body) and anthropological data through Biometrika, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
- From here, he developed a keen interest in statistics and its utility to problems in meteorology and anthropology.
Founder of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI):
- As Mahalabonis had many colleagues who were interested in statistics, an informal group formed in the Statistical Laboratory located in his room in Presidency College.
- After calling a meeting with few of his colleagues, Mahalabonis established the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) and formally registered it on April 28, 1932.
- The ISI, under Mahalanobis, would go on to do some of the most spectacular large-scale survey and data analyses including assessing the impact of the 1942-43 Bengal famine, tabulating the 1941 census, surveys on rural indebtedness, velocity of circulation of rupee coins, traffic flow, crop yield estimation etc.
- The institute founded the journal ‘Sankhya: the Indian Journal of Statistics’.
Mahalabonis Distance (MD):
- Mahalabonis Distance (MD) is a multi-dimensional generalisation of the idea of measuring how many standard deviations away is point P from the mean of a distribution D.
- Apart from MD, which measures distance relative to the centroid – a base or central point which can be thought of as an overall mean for multivariate data.
- The most common use for the Mahalanobis distance is to find multivariate outliers, which indicates unusual combinations of two or more variables.
Contribution to sample survey:
- Mahalabonis’ important contributions involved large-scale sample surveys.
- He introduced the concept of pilot surveys and advocated the utility of sampling methods.
- Mahalanobis played a key role in formulating the Second Five-Year Plan, which is synonymous with the ‘Mahalanobis model’, also known as the Feldman-Mahalanobis Model.
- The basic idea of the model said that in order to increase domestic consumption, there needed to be an investment in the production of capital goods.
- He emphasized on the importance of industrialization and also corrected previous census methodology errors.
- Mahalabonis was deeply interested in cultural pursuits and was awarded one of the highest civilian awards, the Padma Vibhushan from the Government of India for his contribution to science.
- In 2006, named June 29 as National Statistics Day in honour of Mahalanobis.
- Mahalabonis died on June 28, 1972, a day before his seventy-ninth birthday.
Headline : In Cave 16: the Kailasa temple
- Kailasa temple in cave 16 of Ellora is one of the largest rock-cut temples in the world.
Story behind the temple
- According to a legend cited in the 10th century book Katha Kalpa Taru, sometime in the 8th century, the queen of the Rashtrakuta ruler Elu made a vow that she would not eat till a magnificent temple was built to Lord Shiva, and she saw its amlaka (finial).
- The king invited many architects, but none of them was able to fulfil this vow.
- Finally, an architect named Kokasa from Paithan completed the task in no time.
Construction of the temple
- The construction of the temple began during the rule of the Rashtrakuta king, Dantidurga (735-757 AD).
- A group of skilled artisans cut and carved the vertical face of the basalt rock of a hill in Elapura, known today as Ellora, near Aurangabad.
- Unlike the Buddhists who made carvings inside the rock to construct cave temples, this group cut the rock internally and externally, with precision, to build a monolithic rock temple.
- The result is that the magnificent Kailasa temple is one of the largest rock-cut temples in the world.
- Major work on the temple was done by King Dantidurga’s successor, Krishna I (757-773 AD), although work continued under many successive kings for more than a century.
History of the temple
- The Kailasa or Kailasanatha temple is one of the largest rock-cutancient Hindu temples located in Ellora, Maharashtra, India.
- It is considered one of the most remarkable cave temples in India because of its size, architecture and sculptural treatment.
- The Kailasanatha temple (Cave 16) is one of the 32 cave temples and monasteries known collectively as the Ellora Caves.
- Its construction is generally attributed to the 8th century Rashtrakutaking Krishna I in 756-773 CE.
- The temple architecture shows traces of Pallavaand Chalukya styles
Features of cave 16
- At the entrance there is a huge rock screen with carvings and a two-level doorway with eaves on top.
- A door on the lower level leads into the double-storey gopuram, which has exquisitely carved sculptures on the walls.
- Goddesses Ganga and Yamuna flank the entrance gateway.
- The gopuram at the lower level leads to the portico.
- On the either side of the portico are the north and south courts with life-size elephants and a victory pillar framing the Kailasa.
- There are five subsidiary shrines around the main temple in the circumambulatory path that runs along the side of the hill.
- This includes a shrine dedicated to river goddesses Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati, and a yajna-shala (hall of sacrifice).
- However, the main temple is the most impressive.
- The elephants and lions that form the high plinth of the main temple signify Rashtrakuta power and prosperity.
- Rock steps in the left court lead up to the top where Nandi and a 36-column mandap with a Shiv ling are located.
- There are many beautiful carvings: of Durga, Mahishasuramardini, Gajalakshmi seated in a lotus pool, Shiva as Ardhanari and Virbhadra, Ravana shaking the Kailash parvat , and the Mahabharata and Ramayana panels.
Features of the main kailasa temple
- Apart from the gopura , the main temple has a sabha griha ( hall), vestibules and a Nandi mandap which leads to the garba griha (sanctum) with the Shiv linga, all of which are profusely carved and with Dravidian shikharas (towers).
- A bridge connects the Nandi mandap to the gopuram.
- The stiff climb up the hill was made worthwhile by the loveliness of the lotus on the roof of the sanctum.
- The lotus is crowned by a finial with four mythical lions, each facing one cardinal direction.
About the Ellora caves
- Ellora, located in the Aurangabad districtof Maharashtra, India, is one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world.
- It is a UNESCOWorld Heritage Site, featuring Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monuments, and artwork, dating from the 600-1000 CE period.
- There are 32 caves in Ellora, numbered according to their age.
- Temples 1 to 12 in the southern side are the Buddhist caves.
- Temples 13 to 29 are the Hindu caves, and in the northern side are the Jain temples.
- All of the Ellora monuments were built during Hindu dynasties such as the Rashtrakuta dynasty, which constructed part of the Hindu & Buddhist caves, and the Yadava dynasty, which constructed a number of the Jain caves.
- Funding for the construction of the monuments was provided by royals, traders and the wealthy of the region.
Section : History & Culture
Headline : How govt regulates religious pilgrimages?
About Amarnath cave:
- Amarnath cave is a Hindu shrine located in Jammu and Kashmir, India.
- The cave is situated at an altitude of 3,888 m (12,756 ft), about 141 km from Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
- The peak pilgrimage occurs when the iced stalagmite Shiv lingam reaches the apex of its waxing phase through the summer months.
Regulation of the AmarnathYatra:
- Before 2000, there wasn’t much government intervention in the yatra. A heavy downpour in 1996 resulted in the death of about 250 yatris.
- Subsequently, the Nitish Sengupta Committee was set up to enquire into the deaths. After it was decided that the government should intervene, the J&K Shri Amarnath Ji Shrine Act 2000 was passed that provided for the setting up of a board to manage the yatra.
- The Act states that the 10-member board is to be headed by the governor of J&K if he is a Hindu. A non-Hindu governor is supposed to nominate an eminent Hindu from the state to head the board, which also has government officials on deputation as its members.
About Haj yatra:
- The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest city for Muslims, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime.
- It is one of the five pillars of Islam, alongside Shahadah, Salat, Zakat and Sawm.
Regulation of the Haj pilgrimage:
- The Haj pilgrimage works on a quota basis.
- Saudi authorities usually allocate 1,000 places for every million Muslim persons per country.
- As a result, the overwhelming majority of Haj berths go to Indonesia, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.
- The Haj Committee of India regulates the state-wise quota based on the state’s Muslim population.
- Until last year, Haj was subsidised by the Centre with discounts on Air India flights and other forms of assistance provided. From this year, the subsidy has been discontinued.
Kailash Mansarovar Yatra:
- According to Hinduism, Shiva resided at the summit of a mountain named Kailasa, where he sat in a state of meditation along with his wife Parvati. He is believed to be the founder of Yoga and so is named as “Adi-Yogi”.
- Mount Kailash is a 6,638 m (21,778 ft) high peak in the Kailash Range, which forms part of Transhimalaya in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.
- The mountain is located near Lake Manasarovar and Lake Rakshastal, close to the source of some of the longest Asian rivers: the Indus, Sutlej, Brahmaputra, and Karnali also known as Ghaghara (a tributary of the Ganges) in India.
- Mount Kailash is considered to be sacred in four religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön and Jainism.
Regulation of the KailashMansarovarYatra:
- For this yatra, two routes are open, one Lipulekh Pass route (at the border of Uttarakhand and Tibet) and second is the Nathu La route (at the border between Sikkim and Tibet).
- The pilgrims’ list is finalised in a computerised draw. Government appoints liaison officers for each batch to coordinate with Indian and Chinese authorities. The Indo-Tibetan Border Police provides security, medical assistance to the yatris.
Subsidise the Kailash Mansoravar and Amarnath yatras:
- According to a parliamentary question, government of India does not extend any direct monetary subsidy to individual pilgrims for the Amarnath and Kailash Manasarovar yatras.
- But the foreign ministry assists, on a self-financing basis, pilgrims for the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra by providing facilities like transportation, accommodation, food, medical tests, guides, etc.
- News reports also state that the Kailash Mansoravar yatra is subsidised by some state governments.
Giving MSMEs the right push Editorial 13th Sep’20 FinancialExpress
Importance of MSME sector:
- The MSME sector contributes approximately 40% to the GDP and generates employment for 114 million Indians, comprising about 93% of the total labour force of the country.
This sector under severe stress:
- Over the last few years, economic distress has hurt the sector on several counts, and this has only gotten exacerbated by the Covid pandemic.
- All India Manufacturers Organisation (AIMO) suggests that 35% MSME businesses are now beyond recovery.
- The sector is staring at massive unemployment, which will only to worsen the unemployment problem in the country.
Package for MSMEs under Atmanirbhar Bharat:
- The government revealed its commitment to revive the MSME sector in its Rs 20,000 crore economic stimulus package for Atmanirbhar India, including a Rs 10,000 crore fund to finance equity infusion.
- The objective of the Rs 10,000 crore Fund of Funds scheme is to help MSMEs with growth potential at a time when they are facing severe shortage of equity and low revenues.
- The government also has Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) for the MSME sector impacted by the economic slowdown triggered by COVID-19.
- However, credit guarantee has a limited appeal as only 15% of the credit requirement is fulfilled through formal financial channels.
But this itself is not enough:
- A major problem with the MSME sector is that 86% of the enterprises are unregistered, while 71% of the workers have no contracts.
- Therefore, opening new lines of credit may not be adequate to revive the sector.
- It was noticed that the sanctioned loans are not being availed and utilised by enterprises in the absence of strong demand and consumption.
Need to create an enabling environment for MSMEs:
- The UK Sinha-led expert committee on MSME in 2019 highlighted the need to create an enabling environment for MSMEs.
- It proposed several long-term solutions to ensure financial sustainability.
- However, a holistic MSME policy rests on the ability to overcome some historical barriers.
This needs help to overcome historical issues in the MSME sector:
- Timely payments for their goods and services:
- The inability to receive timely payments in return for the goods and services, and slim profit margin is a nagging issue for the sector.
- An urgent solution is the payment of dues.
- More loan cannot resolve the limited working capital problem as it would unnecessarily increase the debt burden, which, in turn, would put pressure on the already thin profit margins.
- Need a mechanism for this:
- A new regime could be brought, with options such as:
- Discounting for early clearance of dues by their principals or
- All supplies being made against advance payments or
- Creating a hold in the bank which gets released right after receipt of supply from the MSME supplier
- Only an incentive-based mechanism will work.
- Lower cost of capital:
- The average cost of capital is still high, at around 13%, compared to agriculture.
- It is challenging to generate reasonable returns in the near future to pay back loans, and it could takes years for demand to fully pick up.
- To help MSMEs avail capital at sub-5% rates, lending institutions must reduce transaction costs.
- Improve competitiveness:
- Historically, a lack of internal competitiveness in the industry has reduced the urgency for innovation within the sector, despite the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Startup India’ campaigns.
- This requires support to reorient production lines and investments in R&D.
- Creating a global market:
- The sector has been unable to channelise a global market for products and services.
- Further, the current crisis has drastically contracted export-led growth opportunities as importing nations adopt a protectionist policy.
- With the global demand at an all-time low, consumers are not compelled to make non-essential purchases.
- As per a survey, about 97% of MSME respondents expect to be affected as the business is focused on essential goods.
- Leverage e-commerce channels:
- A sustained push through e-commerce channels can enhance the scope of domestic goods and services with low transaction and intermediation cost.
- It will also help eliminate the middleman and reduce cost of doing business, an important factor in the survival of small businesses.
- India now has the opportunity to leverage its technological prowess in enhancing the competitive advantage that we already have in the export of IT/ITes products and services.
- With new business paradigms evolving with the rise of IT, AI and communication-based businesses, MSME’s should be encouraged to harness this through the right kind of policy push.
- The government must adopt a comprehensive approach to revamp the MSME ecosystem.
GS Paper III: Indian Economy