17th April, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Monsoon to be normal in India’
(GS1: Indian Climate)
Issue: The country is likely to see normal monsoon rains, though there’s a threat from an anomalous warming in the Indian Ocean, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Monday.
What the forecast report say?
The country is likely to get 97% of the 89 cm it normally gets between June and September. Last year, it got 95%. The IMD has ruled out chances of a “deficient rainfall” The Met department uses a statistical model for its forecast. Another model, called the dynamical model, forecasts 99% rainfall. The IMD bases its optimism on an assessment that an El Nino, associated with a weak monsoon is unlikely. However another factor called the Indian Ocean Dipole, which if “positive” helps the monsoon and will likely not aid the monsoon’s case this year. This will be clearer in the next month.
El Niño is the warm phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (commonly called ENSO) and is associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific (between approximately the International Date Line and 120°W), including off the Pacific coast of South America. El Niño Southern Oscillation refers to the cycle of warm and cold temperatures, as measured by sea surface temperature, SST, of the tropical central and eastern Pacific Ocean. El Niño is accompanied by high air pressure in the western Pacific and low air pressure in the eastern Pacific. The cool phase of ENSO is called “La Niña” with SST in the eastern Pacific below average and air pressures high in the eastern and low in western Pacific. The ENSO cycle, both El Niño and La Niña, cause global changes of both temperatures and rainfall
Developing countries that are dependent upon agriculture and fishing, particularly those bordering the Pacific Ocean, are usually most affected. In American Spanish, the capitalized term “El Niño” refers to “the little boy”, so named because the pool of warm water in the Pacific near South America is often at its warmest around Christmas. The original name, “El Niño de Navidad”, traces its origin centuries back to Peruvian fishermen, who named the weather phenomenon in reference to the newborn Christ. “La Niña”, chosen as the ‘opposite’ of El Niño, literally translates to “the little girl”.
About Indian Ocean Dipole
The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), also known as the Indian Niño, is an irregular oscillation of sea-surface temperatures in which the western Indian Ocean becomes alternately warmer and then colder than the eastern part of the ocean.
Monsoon in India is generally affected by the temperature between Bay of Bengal in the east and The Arabian Sea in the west. The IOD involves an aperiodic oscillation of sea-surface temperatures, between “positive”, “neutral” and “negative” phases. A positive phase sees greater-than-average sea-surface temperatures and greater precipitation in the western Indian Ocean region, with a corresponding cooling of waters in the eastern Indian Ocean—which tends to cause droughts in adjacent land areas of Indonesia and Australia. The negative phase of the IOD brings about the opposite conditions, with warmer water and greater precipitation in the eastern Indian Ocean, and cooler and drier conditions in the west.
The IOD also affects the strength of monsoons over the Indian subcontinent. A significant positive IOD occurred in 1997–98, with another in 2006. The IOD is one aspect of the general cycle of global climate, interacting with similar phenomena like the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the Pacific Ocean.
(GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: Qutub Minar turned red on Monday night and will be lit up with red lights on Tuesday night as well to raise awareness about an inherited bleeding disorder called haemophilia.
What is Haemophilia?
Haemophilia is a genetic disease where the body’s ability to make blood clots is impaired. For people with mild and moderate haemophilia, blood does not clot automatically when they get injured or even during a surgery leading to excessive bleeding. For people with severe haemophilia, the absence of clotting factor means that they can start bleeding spontaneously from their joints, muscles or other body parts.
The only treatment is to give the missing clotting factor to the patients, which can be extremely expensive. The cost of treatment can range from 20,000 to more than a couple of lakhs a year, depending on the age, weight and the kind of lifestyle of the patient.
There are two ways of administering the clotting factor — one is prophylactic, which means the missing clotting factor is provided regularly at an interval of a couple of days to prevent bleeding, and the other is to administer it once the bleeding occurs
Although age agnostic, the worst affected are children and infants. Infants show signs of bruises and haematomas (swelling caused by collection of blood outside vessels) as they learn to walk. In fact, in children, recurrent bleeding tends to happen in the joints as they grow and gain weight
(GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: Four elephants were killed after a train hit them on a railway track in Odisha’s Jharsuguda district on Monday.
About Project Elephant
Elephant ( Elephas maximus ) is the largest terrestrial mammal of India . Elephant being wide ranging animal requires large areas . As per our mythology , elephant took birth from celestial waters and thus are closely associated with rains / water because of the belief. The requirement of food and water for elephants are very high and therefore their population can be supported only by forests that are under optimal conditions. The status of elephant can be the best indicator of the status of the forests. Asian elephants were believed to be widely distributed – from Tigris – Euphrates in West Asia eastward through Persia into the Indian sub-continent, South and Southeast Asia including Sri Lanka, Java, Sumatra, Borneo and up to North China. However currently they are confined to Indian Subcontinent, South East Asia and some Asian Islands – Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Malaysia. About 60% of the Asian elephant population is in India. Old literatures indicate that even during the Moghul period, elephants were found all over India including many part of Central India like Marwar, Chanderi, Satwas, Bijagarh and Panna. However current distribution of wild elephant in India is confined to South India ; North East including North West Bengal; Central Indian states of Orissa , South WB and Jharkhand; and North West India in Uttarakahnd and UP.
Project Elephant (PE) was launched by the Government of India in the year 1992 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with following objectives:
1. To protect elephants, their habitat & corridors
2. To address issues of man-animal conflict
3. Welfare of captive elephants
Financial and Technical support are being provided to major elephant bearing States in the country. The Project is being mainly implemented in 16 States / UTs , viz. Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal. Main activities under the Project are as follows:
1. Ecological restoration of existing natural habitats and migratory routes of elephants;
2. Development of scientific and planned management for conservation of elephant habitats and viable population of Wild Asiatic elephants in India;
3. Promotion of measures for mitigation of man elephant conflict in crucial habitats and moderating pressures of human and domestic stock activities in crucial elephant habitats;
4. Strengthening of measures for protection of Wild elephants form poachers and unnatural causes of death;
5. Research on Elephant management related issues;
6. Public education and awareness programmes;
8. Veterinary care
9. Elephant Rehabilitation/Rescue Centers
Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants ( MIKE ) Programme
Mandated by COP resolution of CITES , MIKE program started in South Asia in the year 2003 with following purpose –
To provide information needed for elephant range States to make appropriate management and enforcement decisions, and to build institutional capacity within the range States for the long-term management of their elephant populations.
The main objectives of the MIKE are:
1. To measure levels and trends in the illegal hunting of elephants;
2. To determine changes in these trends over time; and
3. To determine the factors causing or associated with such changes, and to try and assess in particular to what extent observed trends are a result of any decisions taken by the Conference of the Parties to CITES
(GS2: Bilateral Relationships)
Issue: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in the capital of Sweden, where he will jointly organize the India-Nordic Summit in Stockholm. This is the first bilateral visit by an Indian premier to the Nordic nation in 30 years. The summit will also be attended by the prime ministers of Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven received Modi at the airport.
Important topics for the discussion
1. The long-pending free trade agreement between the European Union and India, development and ‘innovation’ are on the agenda
2. Another issue that is being debated is the sequencing of an investment protection treaty, given that India scrapped all its bilateral investment treaties with about 50 countries last year. As a result, trade and investment has been below potential, with India-Sweden trade pegged at a low $1.8 billion last year, down from $2.8 billion in 2011-12
3. India and Sweden are set to sign a security agreement
4. Besides the security pact, an action plan and Document on Partnership for Innovation will be issued after the Stockholm Summit between Modi and his Swedish counterpart
5. Delhi and Stockholm have been focused on building a strategic partnership. Sweden supported India in its membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and has extended full support to India’s bid for its pending membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
India–Sweden relations are the bilateral ties between India and Sweden. Sweden recognised India’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1947; both nations established formal diplomatic relations in 1949. India has an embassy in Stockholm, while Sweden has an embassy in New Delhi and honorary consulates in Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai.
Contact between Sweden and the Indian subcontinent dates from at least the 8th century CE and the era of the Vikings. In 1954, a small bronze Buddha statuette was discovered during archaeological excavations of an 8th-century Viking ship on Helgö, Sweden; now on display at the Swedish History Museum, the statue is thought to have been made in present-day Kashmir around the 5th century CE In March 2015, PostNord Sverige released a postage stamp depicting the statue.
During the mid-18th century, the newly established Swedish East India Company attempted to gain a trading foothold in India through ports in Bengal and at Surat in Gujarat; though a few of the company’s ventures in India were profitable, the already long-established competition from the rival British, French and Dutch East India companies soon forced Sweden to focus on trading with China.
Several Swedish firms established branches in India during the early 20th century, notably Ericsson, Swedish Match and ASEA (now part of the ABB Group
Bilateral trade stands at over US$2 billion. After China and Japan, India is Sweden’s third largest trade partner in Asia. The main Swedish exports to India are pharmaceuticals, paper & pulp products, chemicals, engineering products and telecom equipment; India’s primary exports to Sweden are chemical products, food products and semi-manufactured and manufactured goods
‘South Asia Economic focus’ report
(GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India needs to create 8.1 million jobs a year to maintain its employment rate, said a World Bank report which projected the country’s growth to accelerate to 7.3% in the current financial year
It has projected the growth rate to increase further to 7.5% in the following two years. The report projected the country’s growth to further accelerate to 7.5% in 2019-20 and 2020-21 and suggested that New Delhi should strive to accelerate investments and exports to take advantage of the recovery in global growth.
‘Elections to UN subsidiaries’
(GS2: International groups)
Issue: India has won an election to a crucial non-governmental organisation committee in the UN after garnering the highest number of votes besides getting elected by acclamation to other subsidiary bodies in five separate polls.
The UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held elections to a number of its subsidiary bodies here yesterday. The ECOSOC focuses on advancing the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental.
About Non-Governmental Organizations
The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations is a standing committee of ECOSOC and its main tasks include consideration of applications for consultative status and requests for reclassification submitted by NGOs and consideration of quadrennial reports submitted by NGOs in General and Special categories.
India was also elected by acclamation to the Commission on Population and Development for a term beginning April 16, 2018 and expiring in 2021.
Under its terms of reference the Commission is to assist the Council by arranging for studies and advising the Council on population issues and trends, integrating population and development strategies and population and related development policies and programmes.
The Commission’s purpose was to advise ECOSOC on social policies of a general character and, in particular, on all matters in the social field not covered by the specialized inter-governmental agencies.
‘One trillion dollar company’
(GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Tractor maker Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd (M&M) on Tuesday joined the elite club of companies that have seen their market capitalization soar past Rs1 trillion.
‘India-France space cooperation’
(GS2: Bilateral relationship)
Issue: The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the French National Space Agency (CNES) have joined their hands in developing autonomous navigation system for the upcoming rovers to be sent to Mars, Moon and other planets and, also the aero-braking technologies for planetary exploration.
Fields selected for cooperation
1. CNES will give support to ISRO for developing the navigation system for its future lunar rovers.
2. ISRO and CNES have also decided to work together in order to develop models to study the atmosphere of Mars and Venus, as informed by the Indian space agency
3. The CNES officials have said that they would be providing onboard scientific instruments to ISRO for future interplanetary missions to the Moon, Mars, and asteroids and also they would be actively involved in defining scientific goals and preparatory studies for future interplanetary missions of ISRO.
4. This is not the first time that India and France have joined their hands for space missions. The Indo-French collaboration has been continuing since six decades. France has been helping India in developing advanced cryogenic engine and also launching the heavy satellites of ISRO.
‘Meghalaya community led landscape management project’
(GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: A Loan Agreement for IBRD loan of USD 48 million for the “Meghalaya Community – Led Landscapes Management Project (MCLLMP)” was signed with the World Bank.
About the project
The Objective of the Project is to strengthen community-led landscapes management in selected landscapes in the State of Meghalaya. The Project consists of three components:
* Strengthening Knowledge and Capacity for Natural Resource Management;
* Community-led landscape planning and implementation and
* Project Management and Governance.
Meghalaya’s natural resource such as land, water sources and forests is a source of livelihood for a majority of the population in the State. The Project will help manage these depleting resources, by strengthening the communities and traditional institutions. Restoration of degraded and highly degraded landscapes under the Project will increase water for local communities and improve the soil productivity which will in turn increase incomes and reduce poverty.
The world’s largest development bank, IBRD provides financial products and policy advice to help countries reduce poverty and extend the benefits of sustainable growth to all of their people.
‘Plastic waste management’
(GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has notified the Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018. The amended Rules lay down that the phasing out of Multilayered Plastic (MLP) is now applicable to MLP, which are “non-recyclable, or non-energy recoverable, or with no alternate use.”
Other important amendments
The amended Rules also prescribe a central registration system for the registration of the producer/importer/brand owner. The Rules also lay down that any mechanism for the registration should be automated and should take into account ease of doing business for producers, recyclers and manufacturers. The centralised registration system will be evolved by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for the registration of the producer/importer/brand owner. While a national registry has been prescribed for producers with presence in more than two states, a state-level registration has been prescribed for smaller producers/brand owners operating within one or two states.
‘National Policy and action plan’
(GS2: Left wing extremism in India)
Issue: The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been implementing the ‘National Policy and Action Plan’ since 2015 to combat Left Wing Extremism (LWE). This envisages a multi-pronged strategy involving security and development related measures.
Achievements of the policy
Over the last four years, there has been a substantial improvement in the LWE scenario. Incidents of violence have seen a 20% decline with a 34% reduction in related deaths in 2017 as compared to 2013. The geographical spread of LWE violence also shrunk from 76 districts in 2013 to just 58 districts in 2017. Besides, just 30 of these districts account for 90% of the LWE violence in the country. At the same time certain new districts have emerged as the focus of expansion by the Left Wing Extremists.
‘International Solar Alliance’
(GS2: Global groupings)
Issue: The United Kingdom on Monday joined the India-led International Solar Alliance (ISA) ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s four-day visit to Britain. At an event held at the London Stock Exchange as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018 (CHOGM), Britain formally announced its membership of the alliance, which aims to raise $1 trillion of private and public finance to provide affordable and sustainable energy for all by 2030.
About UK’s role
The UK’s partnership will involve providing expertise and advice to the alliance, but no monetary contributions. The Department for International Development (DfID) said its partnership of ISA, which it described as Modi’s flagship climate treaty, is aimed at giving over 1 billion of the world’s poorest people access to cheap, clean, and renewable energy.
The UK said its support for ISA will be to develop solar water pumping projects, where farmers can use cheaper solar power—rather than diesel pumps—to water their crops. UK expertise will also help increase the number of “mini grids” supplying power to remote areas that cannot be reached by the main electricity grid. The UK becomes the 62nd country to join ISA, which includes countries like France, Australia, Bangladesh, Tuvalu, Benin, UAE, Brazil, Vanuatu, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda.
‘Indus valley civilization’
(GS1: Indian ancient culture)
Issue: The famed Indus Valley civilization remained under severe drought for about 900 years around 4,350 years ago, which led people to abandon their settlements and migrate to southern and eastern regions of India, according to a study by Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur.
The civilisation was the most widespread among the ancient civilisations, covering an area about 1.5 million sq. km—now comprising modern India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It had a well-developed infrastructure, architecture, metallurgy, besides having trade relations and cultural ties with other concurrent civilizations across the world.
What the study suggests?
A team led by professor Anil K. Gupta of department of geology and geophysics at IIT Kharagpur has observed that the drought-like phase for the period of 900 years led to reduction in water supply because of the “very weak” Indian summer monsoon, which was under the influence of strong El Nino activity, the climate cycle in the Pacific ocean. This decreased the moisture transport and in turn the snow deposition in northwest Himalaya, which has been a major source of water supply in the Indus river and its tributaries thus affecting agriculture production, an IIT Kharagpur statement said on Monday.
The study gives a fair idea on the long-term effects of climate change on human settlements. Around 4,200 years ago, the population of the Indus Valley Civilisation abandoned its major villages and urban settlements near Indus River, including Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, and started migrating to the Ganga-Yamuna plains.
Issue: Earlier this year Nitin Gadkari announced a new expressway that would connect the Financial Capital, Mumbai with the capital, cutting down the driving time of the 1500 km journey from 23 hours according to Google maps all the way down to 12 hours.
About the project
1. A sum of Rs 1 lakh crore will be spent on this expressway
2. A Chambal Expressway that would connect Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to the new expressway is also being planned.
3. It is said to be the country’s busiest highway, which passes through key cities of Rajasthan and Gujarat, including Jaipur, Ajmer, Udaipur, Ahmedabad and Vadodara.