Andhra Pradesh [APPSC] Current Affairs - 2020

South India’s earliest Sanskrit Inscription found in A.P.

The Epigraphy Branch of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has discovered the earliest Sanskrit inscription to have been discovered in South India as on date. This significant finding is also the earliest epigraphic evidence for ‘Saptamatrika’ cult so far. The discovery was made in Chebrolu village in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. The inscription came to light when some local villagers informed ASI authorities about a pillar with some engravings when they were restoring and repairing local Bheemeshwara temple. ASI called for conservation and preservation of pillar given its historical importance.

Key Findings

What is Saptamatrikas? They are a group of seven female deities worshipped in Hinduism as personifying the energy of their respective consorts. There are references of Saptamatrika worship in early Kadamba copper plates as well as early Chalukyas and Eastern Chalukya copper plates. But this new discovery predates them by almost 200 years.

The Inscription found: It is in Sanskrit and in Brahmi characters and was issued by Satavahana king Vijaya in 207 A.D. The inscription records construction of a prasada (temple), a mandapa (a pavilion for public rituals) and consecration of images on southern side of temple by a person named Kartika for merit of king at temple of Bhagavathi (Goddess) Saktimatruka (Saptamatrika) at Tambrape (which is the ancient name of Chebrolou). All the available records when verified, proved that Chebrolu inscription of Satavahana king Vijaya issued in his 5th regnal year (207 A.D.) is also the earliest datable Sanskrit inscription from South India so far. Until now the Nagarjunakonda inscription of Ikshavaku king Ehavala Chantamula issued in his 11th regnal year (4th century A.D.) was considered the earliest Sanskrit inscription in South India.

The place also yielded another inscription which is in Prakrit language and of Brahmi characters and belongs to 1st century A.D. This is thus the earliest epigraphic reference to Mutts and records gift of a cloister mandapa and chaitya to bhavatho (Lord) of the Gadasa Mutt by a person hailing from Tabaava.

What is Disha Act, the new law of Andhra Pradesh?

The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly has recently passed the Andhra Pradesh Disha Bill, 2019 (now, Andhra Pradesh Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2019). Disha is the name given to the veterinarian who was raped and murdered in Hyderabad on 27 November and sparked an outrage across country.

Recently, Delhi Commission of Women Chief Swati Maliwal has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding immediate implementation of Disha Bill in entire country.

Key features of AP Disha Act 2019

It envisages the completion of investigation in 7 days and trial in 14 working days, where there is adequate conclusive evidence, and reducing total judgment time to 21 days from existing 4 months. The Act also prescribes, death penalty for rape crimes where there is adequate conclusive evidence, and this provision is given by amending Section 376 of Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860.

In cases of harassment of women through social/digital media, the Act states 2 years’ imprisonment for first conviction and 4 years for second as well as subsequent convictions. For this purpose, a new Section 354 E will be added in IPC, 1860.

It also prescribes life imprisonment for other sexual offences against children and for this purpose includes Section 354 F and 354 G in IPC.

The Andhra Pradesh government will now establish, operate and maintain a register in electronic form, to be called ‘Women & Children Offenders Registry’. This registry will be made public and will also be available to country’s law enforcement agencies.

The state government will also establish exclusive special courts in each district to ensure speedy trial. These courts will exclusively deal with cases of offences against women and children including rape, sexual harassment, acid attackssocial media harassment of women, stalking, voyeurism  and all cases under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. Moreover, the government will also appoint a special public prosecutor for each exclusive special court.

The government will constitute special police teams at district level to be called District Special Police Team. It will be headed by DSP for investigation of offences related to women and children.