UPSC Daily Current Affairs | Prelim Bits 19-04-2020

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April 19, 2020

Types of Corona Viruses and Their Symptoms

  • Coronaviruses are a large family of single-stranded RNA viruses that cause diseases in animals and humans.
  • In humans, the viruses usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses such as the common cold.
  • In the last two decades, more aggressive coronaviruses have emerged that are capable of causing serious illness and even death in humans.
  • In which three significant are
  1. SARS-CoV: 2003 in China (animal source not yet known, bats thought to have given it to other animals, probably civet cats)
  2. MERS: 2012 in Saudi Arabia (transmitted by dromedary camels)
  3. SARS-CoV-2: 2019 in Wuhan (source not yet known, possibly bats)
  • Classification - Coronavirinae are one of the two subfamilies of Coronaviridea, with the other being Torovirinae.
  • Coronavirinae can be further subdivided into alpha, beta, gamma and delta coronaviruses.
  • While coronaviruses from all four categories can be found in mammals, bat coronaviruses are the likely gene source of alpha and beta coronaviruses, while avian coronaviruses are the probable gene sources of gamma and delta coronaviruses.
  • While there are hundreds of coronaviruses, there are seven that we know can infect humans.
  • Out of the seven, two are alpha coronaviruses (229E and NL63) and four are beta coronaviruses (OC43, HKU1, MERS and SARS-CoV).
  • The classification of the viruses is based on their phylogeny, which is to say it reflects how these virus strains evolved from their common ancestors.
  • Symptoms - Before SARS-CoV-2 and MERS, SARS-CoV was the first example of a human coronavirus that could cause serious illness in humans in the form of severe acute respiratory syndrome.
  • Other human coronaviruses such as OC43 and 229E are known to cause the common cold, whereas NL63 is associated with serious respiratory symptoms such as upper respiratory tract infection and pneumonia.
  • NL63 is primarily associated with infections among children, it has also been detected in immuno-compromised adults with respiratory tract infections, OC43 can also cause gastroenteritis.
  • Symptoms of SARS include cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea. In severe cases, the symptoms can progress to respiratory distress, which may require intensive care.
  • MERS symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
  • Further, while SARS-CoV-2 is considered to be milder than SARS-CoV and MERS, it is especially difficult to control its outbreak, given its high infectiousness.

UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

  • UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage is made up of those intangible heritage elements that help demonstrate diversity of cultural heritage and raise awareness about its importance.
  • The list was established in 2008 when Convention for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage came into effect.
  • As per the 2003 UNESCO Convention for Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the list has five broad categories
  1. Oral traditions,
  2. Performing arts,
  3. Social practices,
  4. Knowledge and practices related to nature,
  5. Traditional craftsmanship.
  • From India the Intangible Cultural Heritages added into this list include:
  1. Tradition of Vedic chanting.
  2. Ramlila, the traditional performance of the Ramayana.
  3. Kutiyattam, Sanskrit theatre.
  4. Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas.
  5. Mudiyettu, ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala.
  6. Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan.
  7. Chhau dance.
  8. Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir.
  9. Sankirtana, ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur.
  10. Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab.
  11. Yoga
  12. Nawrouz ( Persian New year)
  13. Kumbha Mela

New Additions to Intangible Cultural Heritage List

  • Culture Ministry published a draft list of more than 100 items that are to be listed as intangible cultural heritage, which includes
  • Traditional folk festival, Pachoti in Assam - where the birth of a baby, particularly a male infant as the tradition “relates to the birth of Krishna”, is celebrated with relatives and neighbours,
  • Oral traditions of the transgender community called Kinnar Kanthgeet
  • Compositions of Ameer Khusro are among the entries from Delhi.
  • Gujarat’s Patola silk textiles from Patan with its geometric and figurative patterns also made it to the list.
  • The practice of tying a turban or safa across Rajasthan was a part of the list.
  • Kalam Bhat or Qalambaft gharana of Sufiana music in Budgam district, from Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The making of khor, a rice beer, by the Tangkhul community in Manipur as well as other crafts associated with it, like making gourd vessels and wicker baskets, were also on the list.
  • Kerala’s martial art form, Kalaripayuttu.
  • Practice of making Kolam, designs at the entrance of homes and temples in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Different forms of shadow puppet theatre
  1. Chamadyacha Bahulya in Maharashtra,
  2. Tolu Bommalatta in Andhra Pradesh,
  3. Togalu Gombeyatta in Karnataka,
  4. Tolu Bommalattam in Tamil Nadu,
  5. Tolpava Kuthu in Kerala
  6. Ravanchhaya in Orissa

World Heritage Day-2020

  • In 1982, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) announced, 18 April as the “World Heritage Day”, approved by the General Assembly of UNESCO in 1983.
  • It aims to enhance awareness of the importance of the cultural heritage of humankind, and redouble efforts to protect and conserve the human heritage.
  • A World Heritage site is classified as a natural or man-made area or a structure that is of international importance, and a space which requires special protection.
  • These sites are officially recognized by the UN and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, also known as UNESCO.
  • UNESCO believes that the sites classified as World Heritage are important for humanity, and they hold cultural and physical significance.
  • To be selected, a World Heritage Site must be an already classified landmark, unique in some respect as a geographically and historically identifiable place having special cultural or physical significance.
  • India ranks sixth in the largest number of heritage sites in the world, there are a total of 38 heritage sites in India, (Click here to read full list).
  • Ministry of Tourism celebrated the World Heritage Day-2020 through a webinar series on Mamallapuram and Humayun’s Tomb.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites

  • ICOMOS is a professional association that works for the conservation and protection of cultural heritage places around the world.
  • Now headquartered in Paris, ICOMOS was founded in 1965 in Warsaw as a result of the Venice Charter of 1964, and offers advice to UNESCO on World Heritage Sites.
  • The idea behind ICOMOS dates to the Athens Conference on the restoration of historic buildings in 1931, organized by the International Museums Office.
  • The Athens Charter of 1931 introduced the concept of international heritage.
  • In 1964, the Second Congress of Architects and Specialists of Historic Buildings, meeting in Venice, adopted 13 resolutions.
  • The first created the International Charter on the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites, better known as Venice Charter; the second, put forward by UNESCO, created ICOMOS to carry out this charter.
  • ICOMOS currently has over 10,100 individual members in 153 countries, 110 national committees and 28 international scientific committees.
  • ICOMOS is a partner and founding member of the Blue Shield, which works to protect the world's cultural heritage threatened by wars and natural disasters.
  • India is a member of ICOMOS.


  • Mamallapuram, also called Mahabalipuram or Seven Pagodas, is a town that lies along the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, 60 km south of Chennai.
  • The town’s religious centre was founded by a 7th-century Hindu Pallava King—Narasimhavarman, also known as Mamalla—for whom the town was named.
  • It contains many surviving 7th- and 8th-century Pallava temples and monuments, chief of which are the sculptured rock relief popularly known as “Arjuna’s Penance,” or “Descent of the Ganges,” a series of sculptured cave temples, and a Shiva temple on the seashore.
  • The town’s Five Rathas, or monolithic temples, are the remnants of seven temples, for which the town was known as Seven Pagodas. The entire assemblage collectively was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

Humayun’s Tomb

  • Humayun's tomb is the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun in Delhi, India.
  • The tomb was commissioned by Humayun's first wife and chief consort, Empress Bega Begum (also known as Haji Begum), in 1569-1570.
  • It is the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent.
  • It represented a leap in Mughal architecture, and together with its accomplished Charbagh garden, typical of Persian gardens, but never seen before in India, it set a precedent for subsequent Mughal architecture.
  • It was also the first structure to use red sandstone at such a scale.
  • The tomb was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.

Edakkal Caves

  • Edakkal Caves also Edakal, are two natural caves at Edakkal, around 120 km south-west of Mysuru, in Wayanad district of Kerala.
  • The caves are situated 1,200 m (3,900 ft) above sea level on Ambukuthi Mala, on the Mysore Plateau, in the Western Ghats.
  • The Edakkal caves are believed to be camping shelters of the Neolithic community (the south Indian Neolithic culture zone).
  • The cave walls contain a collection of Neolithic rock engravings and images (which were incised over a period of time).
  • The major part of images on the cave walls may belong to late Neolithic period (i. e., first millennium BC).
  • With the exception of Edakkal, no concrete evidence for the existence of a true Neolithic culture in Kerala has so far been discovered.
  • The caverns at Edakkal are not technically caves, but rather a cleft, rift or rock shelter, fissure caused by a piece of rock splitting away from the main body.
  • On one side of the cleft is a rock weighing several tons that covers the cleft to form the "roof" of the cave.
  • Recently a huge crack has developed on the eastern part of Ambukuthi hills, on which the Edakkal caves are situated.
  • The crack was exposed after a fire devastated the area a few days ago.
  • The crack had formed along a 60 m stretch on the hill slope, the exact cause could be ascertained only after a study by experts.
  • The crack would not lead to a landslip during moderate rain, but the possibility of landslips in the area during heavy rain could not be ruled out.


Source: News on Air, the Hindu, Indian Express


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