8 Jul | UPSC Current Affairs: Shree Jagannath Temple, Gallantry Awards, Mount Etna, Pangong Lake, and More


Shree Jagannath Temple

  • News: The annual Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra has begun in Odisha’s Puri.
  • Introduction:
      • Puri, located in the Indian state of Odisha, is renowned for the world-famous Shri Jagannath Temple and its longest golden beach. 
  • Dham:
      • It holds a significant place as one of the four holiest sites (Dhamas) in India, alongside Dwarika, Badrinath, and Rameswar.
  • Construction: 
      • It was constructed in the 12th century by Ananta Varman Chodaganga Deva of the Ganga Dynasty.
  • Architecture: 
      •  It is an architectural marvel built in the Kalinga style. 
      • Due to its white washed exterior, the temple was called ‘White Pagoda’ by the European sailors in contrast to ‘Black Pagoda’, the Konark temple.
      • Jagannath Puri temple is called ‘Yamanika Tirtha’. 
      • The four extremely large corridors of Jagannath temples: Jagamohana, Bhogamandapa, Natyamandapa, Vimana. 
      • The outer wall of Jagannath temple is known as Meghanada Prachira and the inner one as Kurma beda. 
      • There are 4 gates to the temple:  Eastern ‘Singhdwara’ (The Lion Gate) Southern ‘Ashwadwara’, Western ‘Vyaghra Dwara’ and Northern ‘Hastidwara’. 
      • The temple houses the Aruna stambha
      • The temple is a fine specimen of the ‘Pancharatha’ style of Odishan temple architecture, made of Khandolite stone. 
  • Deities and Worship:
      • Mahaprabhu Shri Jagannath, along with his sister Devi Subhadra and elder brother Mahaprabhu Shri Balabhadra, are worshiped. 
      • The deities are seated on the Bejeweled Pedestal (Ratna Simhassana), attracting countless devotees.


  • Festivals of Puri: 
      • Snana Yatra, Netrotsava, Ratha Yatra (car festival), Sayan Ekadasi, Chitalagi Amabasya, Srikrushna Janma, Dussehra etc. 

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Gallantry Awards

  • News:   Captain Anshuman Singh has been awarded Kirti Chakra posthumously.
  • Definition: The Gallantry awards in India are announced twice in a year:
      • First on the occasion of the Republic Day
      • On the occasion of Independence Day.
  •  Order of Precedence of these Awards: 
      • Param Vir Chakra
      •  Ashoka Chakra
      •  Mahavir Chakra
      • Kirti Chakra
      •  Vir Chakra and 
      • Shaurya Chakra.
  • Investiture Ceremony:
      •  Gallantry awards are conferred to the awardees/Next-of-Kins by the President at the Defence Investiture Ceremony held every year at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. 
      • The Param Vir Chakra and the Ashoka Chakra are conferred by the President on the occasion of the Republic Day Parade at the Rajpath. 
  • Param Vir Chakra: 
      • Circular in shape, made of bronze, one and three eighth inches in diameter.
      • It contains four replicas of “Indra’s Vajra” with the State Emblem embossed in the centre. 

Param Vir Chakra

      • It has embossed Param Vir Chakra both in Hindi and English with two lotus flowers between Hindi and English.  
      • Conferred On: Armed Forces, Reserve Forces
      • Eligibility: Act of valour in the presence of the enemy, whether on land, at sea, or in the air. 
  • Ashoka Chakra: 
      • Circular in shape, one and three eighth inches in diameter with rims on both sides and will be of gold-gilt.  
      • Contains a replica of Ashoka’s Chakra in the centre surrounded by a lotus wreath.  

Ashoka Chakra

      • It has embossed the words “Ashoka Chakra” both in Hindi and English, the two versions being separated by two lotus flowers.
      • Conferred On: Armed Forces, Reserve Forces, Members of Police Forces and Para Military 
      • Eligibility: Act of valour otherwise than in the face of the enemy.
  • Mahavir Chakra: 
      • Circular in shape and is made of standard silver
      • Contains a five pointed heraldic star which is polished and the centre piece is in gold gilt.  
      • The State emblem is embossed in the centre-piece.

Mahavir Chakra

      • It has embossed Maha Vir Chakra both in Hindi and English with two lotus flowers between Hindi and English.  
      • Conferred On: : Armed Forces, Reserve Forces
      • Eligibility: Awarded for gallantry in the presence of the enemy on land, at sea or in the air.
  • Kirti Chakra: 
      • Circular in shape and is made of standard silver, one and three eight inches in diameter.  
      • Contains a replica of Ashoka Chakra in the centre, surrounded by a lotus wreath.

Kirti Chakra

      •  It has embossed the words KIRTI CHAKRA both in Hindi and in English the versions being separated by two lotus flowers.
      • Conferred On: Armed Forces, Reserve Forces, Members of Police Forces and Para Military. 
      • Eligibility: The medal is awarded for conspicuous gallantry otherwise than in the face of the enemy.
  • Vir Chakra:
      •  Circular in shape and is made of standard silver.
      • Contains a five pointed heraldic star which is polished and the centre piece is in gold gilt.  
      •  The State Emblem (including motto) is embossed in the centre-piece which is domed. 

Vir Chakra

      •  On the reverse it has embossed Vir Chakra both in Hindi and English with two lotus flowers between Hindi and English wording.
      • Conferred On: Armed Forces, Reserve Forces
      • Eligibility:  Acts of gallantry in the presence of the enemy, whether on land or at sea or in the air. 
  • Shaurya Chakra: 
      • Circular in shape and of bronze, one and three-eighth inches in diameter. 
      • Has a replica of Ashoka Chakra in the centre, surrounded by a lotus wreath.

Shaurya Chakra

      •  It has embossed the words “SHAURYA CHAKRA” both in Hindi and English, the two versions being separated by two lotus flowers. 
      • Conferred On: Armed Forces, Reserve Forces, Members of Police Forces and Para Military, Railway Protection Force,
      • Eligibility: Gallantry otherwise than in the face of the enemy.

Mount Etna

  • News: Flights have been suspended in Catania as Mount Etna in Europe erupts.
  • Definition
      • Mount Etna is located on the east coast of Sicily, Italy.
      • It is the highest Mediterranean island mountain and the most active stratovolcano in the world. 
  • Recognition: It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Pangong Lake

  • News: Satellite images are showing China digging close to Pangong Lake in eastern Ladakh.
  • Definition: Pangong Lake, situated at an elevation of approximately 4,350 meters, is the world’s highest saltwater lake.
  • Location
      • Pangong Lake is set in the Himalayas (Leh Ladakh) and spans across the borders of India and China.
      • The Line of Actual Control (LAC) passes through the lake.
      • One-third of the Pangong Lake lies in India and the other two-thirds in China.
  • Nomenclature:  It derives its name from the Tibetan term “Pangong Tso,” meaning “high grassland lake.”
  • Features:
      • It is an endorheic lake (landlocked) in the Himalayas
      • It is a saline (brackish) lake.
      • Pangong Lake has the ability to change colours appearing blue, green and red at different times. 


  • News: In a bid to resolve the extensive coastal erosion in the Poonthura region, eight groynes will be constructed at a cost of Rs 17.5 crore inThiruvananthapuram.
  • Definition
      • Groynes are active structures extending from the shore into the sea, most often perpendicular or slightly oblique to the shoreline.
      •  They are usually made of wood, rock, or sometimes concrete and metal. 
      • These structures are designed to trap sediment, dissipate wave energy, and restrict the transfer of sediment away from the beach through longshore drift.
  • Longshore Drift:  
      • It occurs when prevailing winds blow waves across the shore at an angle, carrying sediment along the beach. 
      • Groynes prevent this process and thereby slow the process of erosion at the shore.


  • Advantages: 
      • Ease of Construction: Groynes are easy to construct.
      • Durability and Low Maintenance: They have long-term durability and require low maintenance.
      • Reduced Beach Maintenance: Groynes reduce the need for beach maintenance through nourishment and the recycling of sand.
      • Sediment Trapping: By trapping sediment, groynes lead to beach widening, reduced erosion, and greater wave energy dissipation.
      • Coastline Stabilization: When designed and maintained properly, groynes serve as robust structures for long-term stabilization of coastlines used for societal activities.


Digital Bharat Nidhi (DBN)

  • News:  The Ministry of Communication recently issued a notification proposing the draft Telecommunications (Digital Bharat Nidhi) Rules, 2024.
  • Objective:  
      • The Digital Bharat Nidhi (DBN) aims to increase telecom connectivity in rural areas.
  • Replaces:  
      • It replaces the erstwhile Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
      • USOF was a pool of funds generated by a 5% Universal Service Levy charged upon all telecom operators based on their Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR). 
      • The rules will supersede rules 523 to 527 of the Indian Telegraph Rules, 1951. 
  • Fund Flow: 
      • Contributions made by telecom companies towards the DBN will first be credited to the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • Key Functions of DBN: Collected funds used for: 
      • Access to Telecommunication Services: In rural, remote, and underserved urban areas and underserved groups such as women, persons with disabilities, economically and socially weaker sections.
      • Research & Development: In telecommunication services, technologies, and products.
      • Pilot Projects & Consultancy: For improving connectivity and introducing new technologies.
  • Administration:
      • The Centre will appoint an “administrator” who will select “DBN implementers” through “bidding” or invitation of applications from eligible persons.
  • Implementation
      • The administrator “on a case-to-case basis” will determine the funding modalities, which could include full or partial funding, co-funding, and market risk mitigation.

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People’s Biodiversity Register

  • News: Thazhakara has become the first grama panchayat in Kerala to update and publish a comprehensive PBR with the involvement of local communities.
  • Definition: PBR is a document which contains comprehensive information on locally available Bio-resources including landscape and demography of a particular area or village.
  • Biological Diversity Act (2002): 
      • As per this act, every local body shall constitute a Biodiversity Management Committee  (BMC) within its area for the purpose of promoting conservation.

People’s Biodiversity Register

  • Biodiversity Management Committee: 
      • The main function of the BMC is to prepare People’s Biodiversity Registers in consultation with local people. 
      • The Register shall contain comprehensive information on availability and knowledge of local biological resources, their medicinal or any other use or any other traditional knowledge associated with them.
  • Importance: PBR plays a crucial role in conservation, sustainable resource utilisation, and protection of traditional knowledge.


  • News:  The world’s most endangered marine mammal, the vaquita, is on the edge of extinction.
  • More on News: 
      • The decrease in the vaquita population is also related to the totoaba, a large fish that also only lives in the Gulf of California.
  • Definition:  
      • The vaquita is the world’s rarest marine mammal.
      • It is the smallest member of the porpoise family.
      • Vaquita are the smallest of all known cetaceans (aquatic mammals).
  • Habitat:  They are most often found close to shore in the Gulf’s shallow waters, although they quickly swim away if a boat approaches.


  • Description: 
      • They are called as ‘sea pandas’ due to their distinctive facial markings that include darker rings around their eyes and curved black lips that resemble a smile.
      • Their skin is usually a dark grey to black colour on their back, which fades into a paler grey on their underside.
      • Vaquita are shy, rather secretive animals.
      • Vaquitas communicate using echolocation (or sonar) by emitting high-frequency clicks. 
  • Distribution: Vaquitas are endemic to the Gulf of California, Mexico.
  • IUCN Status: Critically Endangered

Spider Species

  • News:  Two new species of jumping spiders have been discovered from Western Ghats.
  • Names of Species: 
      • Habrocestum swaminathan, discovered from the banks of the river Kunthi, has been named after M.S. Swaminathan. 
      • Habrocestum benjamin, collected from Thusharagiri, is named after Suresh P. Benjamin, a Sri Lanka-based jumping spider specialist.

Spider Species

  • Feature: These spiders are attractive with beautiful colour patches and were spotted near the Thusharagiri waterfalls. 

Tank Zorawar

  • News: The Defense Research and Development Authority (DRDO) has started testing its light battle tank Zorawar in Gujarat’s Hazira.
  • Overview
      • Light tank ‘Zorawar,’ is  a 25-tonne tank jointly developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Larsen & Toubro. 
      • The tank is designed for rapid deployment and high mobility in mountainous regions.
      •  It is expected to be ready for induction into service by 2027.
  • Historical Inspiration: 
      • Named after 19th-century Dogra General Zorawar Singh, who led armed operations in Ladakh and Western Tibet.
  • Key Features and Capabilities: 
      • Amphibious and High Mobility: Zorawar’s lightweight design allows it to traverse steep climbs in mountains and cross rivers more easily than the heavier T-72 and T-90 tanks.
      • Advanced Armaments: Equipped with a 105-mm rifled gun, a Multi-Ranging Sensor (MRS), a BEL Remote Weapon Station (RWS), Safran Paseo optics, and two Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs).

Tank Zorawar

      • Enhanced Protection and Functionality: Incorporates a new Light Weight Rifle (LWR), provisions for an Active Protection System (APS), add-on modular armor blocks, Composite Rubber Tracks (CRT), and additional cameras.
      • Innovative Technologies: Incorporates Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) equipped with loitering munitions.
      • Powerful Engine: Powered by an American engine, enhancing its operational capabilities.


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