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Daily Current affairs 23 June 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair






Libra unveiled



Kodumanal: the city that clothed Rome

06 (mag)


Smoke and mirrors



Odisha comes up with a flood atlas, aided by satellite imagery                    



Controversial telescope to be built on sacred Hawaiian peak




1.   Libra unveiled (The Hindu, Page 16)     


Mains: GS Paper III  Economy 


  Digital Currency


Facebook announced that it is going to launch a global digital currency by the first half of 2020. The currency has been named Libra. It will be run by the Libra Association, a Geneva-based entity that has over two dozen founding partners, including Facebook, Mastercard, Visa, Uber and the Vodafone group. 

It is true that Bitcoin and Libra are both based on block chain technology, which refers to a form of distributed ledger — not centralized — of transactions. These are created by complicated math functions that make them almost incorruptible. But beyond this, there is very little in common between Bitcoin and Libra.

  • Libra is an initiative of 28 influential corporate entities. Bitcoin, which the world first came to know of in 2008, is seen as a product of libertarian values. Its founder, whose identity remains a mystery to this day, is referred to as Satoshi Nakamoto.

  • In Bitcoin:, the ability for a government to fund itself through the manipulation of money disappears. You can’t obfuscate bitcoin supply — inflation is transparent. You can’t ‘quantitatively ease’ bitcoins... Central banks and private banks can’t create bitcoins when it suits them, and government can’t print bitcoins. It all means you don’t have to pay the price for the mistakes of governments and banks.


About Blockchain:

A block in a blockchain is a collection of data. The data is added to the block in blockchain, by connecting it with other blocks in chronological others creating a chain of blocks linked together. The first block in the Blockchain is called Genesis Block.

Blockchain is a distributed ledger, which simply means that a ledger is spread across the network among all peers in the network, and each peer holds a copy of the complete ledger.

Some key attributes of Blockchain are which proves that blockchain is better than traditional systems of ledger information keeping:

Peer-To-Peer: No central authority to control or manipulate it. All participant talks to each other directly. This allows for data exchange to be made directly with third-parties involvement.
Distributed: The ledger is spread across the whole network which makes tampering not so easy.
Cryptographically Secured: Cryptography is used for the security services to make the ledger tamper-proof .
Add-Only: Data can only be added in the blockchain with time-sequential order. This property implies that once data is added to the blockchain, it is almost impossible to change that data and can be considered practically immutable. We can say it has: 
“The right to be forgotten or right to erasure” defined here.
Consensus: This is the most critical attribute of all. This gives blockchain the ability to update the ledger via consensus. This is what gives it the power of decentralization. No central authority is in control of updating the ledger. Instead, any update made to the blockchain is validated against strict criteria defined by the blockchain protocol and added to the blockchain only after a consensus has been reached among all participating peers/nodes on the network.

Relevant video links.


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2.  Kodumanal: the city that clothed Rome (Mag, Page 06)     


Prelims: Ancient history

Mains: GS I – History & Culture 


Sangam Age


Kodumanal, celebrated in Tamil Sangam literature (datable from the second century BCE to the second century C.E.), is now one of the most explored sites in India. The Sangam work Pathitruppatthu refers to Kodumanal as Kodumanam in two places. While the poet Kabilar refers to it as “Kodumanam patta… nankalam”, another poet, Arisil Kizhar, celebrates it as “Kodumanam patta vinaimaan arunkalam”, that is, Kodumanam, the place where rare jewels are made. A horizontally excavated site, Kodumanal has yielded the highest number of inscribed potsherds (about 315 potsherds with Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions) and also the largest number of exposed graves for any single archaeological site in India.


Kodumanal, was a manufacturing and trading centre in the 4th century BCE. It is mentioned as such in the Sangam literature of classical Tamil (circa 300 BCE-300 CE). The settlement, which would have accommodated several thousand people in its heyday, appears to have been abandoned after the 3rd century CE.

Workshops for cutting and shaping precious gems, for making semi-precious stone beads, and also, incidentally, for shell-cutting, were present in Kodumanal more than 2,300 years ago. But the workers’ technical skills did not begin and end with gem-making. They also worked with iron and steel. In fact, ancient sources of iron ore have been found in and around Chennimalai hill, 15 km to the east.

There was, the archaeologists say, “constant movement of foreign traders between Chennimalai, where there are iron ore deposits, and Kodumanal where the ore was processed” and from where finished items were exported.

Kodumanal was one of the earliest wootzsteel centres of the world. Wootzsteel, a form of carbon steel, was a prized, highly durable speciality of ancient India, and much sought-after in the West.

In Roman literature there are references to the import of steel from the Chera country, or south India. References to wootz steel in Sangam literature indicate that Roman Egypt imported its finest steel from here. The rust-free ancient iron pillar still standing near the Qut’b Minar in Delhi is said to be made of iron from this region.

Ancient Kodumanal also manufactured textiles. A number of terracotta cotton spindles pierced through the centre with an iron rod have been unearthed here.


Kodumanal lies on the ancient trade route that connected the Chera capital of Karur (Vanji) on the east with the famous Chera seaport of Musiri on the west coast in present-day Kerala. Roman coin hoards have been found in several places in this region

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3. Smoke and mirrors (Magazine) (Page 16/17)   


Prelims: History & culture 

Mains: GS Paper I – History & culture


Art  & Craft


Aranmula Kannadi, an example for uncommon technical skill and manufacturing dexterity, is a special kind of mirror formulated by polishing a bell metal plate until it shines, made by mixing up lead and copper in a particular ratio by melting them down. This brought about the name
Aranmulakkannadi because it is produced in Aranmula alone. It is believed that the mirror brings prosperity, luck and wealth to home. In many
important museums in the world too, Arnmulakannadi is exhibited as a rare object now.


The Aranmula kannadi is a front surface reflection mirror, which eliminates secondary reflections and aberrations typical of back surface
mirrors, wherein image is reflected from the bottom layer where mercury is pasted. Thus one can say that a person sees his or her real image reflected only inthe Aranmula kannadi.


Aranmula is a small temple village situated on the banks of river Pampa, Pathanamthitta. Aranmula is associated with temples and many other rituals. This place is the venue of famous traditional snake boat regatta . Aranmula is a global heritage site enlisted by UNESCO



A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place.


The GI tag in India is governed by the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection Act), 1999 and is administered by the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks, who is the Registrar of Geographical Indications and functions under the auspices of the Union ministry of commerce & industrry 

  • it is used to identify agricultural, natural or manufactured goods

  • The manufactured goods should be produced or processed or prepared in that territory.


  • India, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection)Act, 1999 has come into force with effect from 15th September 2003.

  • Darjeeling Tea was the first Indian product to get the geographical indication tag. In 2004, the famous beverage got the recognition.



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4. Odisha comes up with a flood atlas, aided by satellite imagery                    (The Hindu Page 11)   


Mains: GS III – Disaster Management





Why in News 

Odisha has come out with a unique flood hazard atlas on the basis of historic flood inundation captured through satellite imagery over the period from 2001 to 2018, which is expected to help the State manage floods more efficiently. The National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Hyderabad had taken the study on flood hazard zonation for Odisha.

The atlas was released by Chief Minister at the State-level Natural Calamity Meeting yesterday.

Flood Hazard for Odisha

  • The NRSC analysis says about 8.96% (13.96 lakh hectares) of land in Odisha was affected by floods during 2001-2018. 

  • Out of total flood-affected area (13.96 lakh hectares), about 2.81 lakh hectares of land falls under high (inundated seven-nine times) to very high (inundated 10-14 times) flood hazard categories.

  • Damages due to floods are caused mainly by the Mahanadi, the Brahmani and the Baitarani, which have a common delta where floodwaters intermingle, and, when in spate simultaneously, wreak considerable havoc.

  • Vast areas of the State are inundated when there is flooding every year in major rivers, namely, the Mahanadi, Brahmani, Baitarani, Subarnarekha and Rushikulya. Some of the rivers like, the Vamsadhara and Budhabalanga, also cause flash floods due to instant run-off from their hilly catchments. Few districts in the western and southern part of Odisha are prone to flash floods.

  • The entire coastal belt is prone to storm surges, which is usually accompanied by heavy rainfall, thus making the estuary region vulnerable to both storm surges and river flooding. 

How was it prepared - 

  • A large number of satellite images acquired over 18 years (2001-2018) were used. All satellite data sets were analysed and flood layers were extracted. 

  • All the flood layers corresponding to a year are combined as one inundation layer, so that this layer represents the maximum flooded area in one year.

  • All such combined flood layers for 18 years were integrated into flood hazard layer representing the observed flood-inundated areas with different frequencies. This layer was integrated with the digital database layers of Odisha.

How will it help

The atlas would serve as a useful resource of information for policy makers, planners and civil society groups.



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5. Controversial telescope to be built on sacred Hawaiian peak (The Hindu Page 17)   


Mains: GS III –Science and technology




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