4th May, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’
(GS2: Multilateral agencies)
Issue: The Ministry of Finance, Government of India in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) organized the 4th Regional Conference on Futuristic, Resilient and Digital Infrastructure in Bengaluru
The Conference saw eminent delegates representing partner institutions, academia, civil society organizations and experts from various fields expressing their views on how to bring about institutional approaches for futuristic and digital infrastructure in India.
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region. The bank currently has 64 member states while another 20 are prospective members for a total of 84 approved members and was proposed as an initiative by the government of China.
The bank was proposed by China in 2013 and the initiative was launched at a ceremony in Beijing in October 2014. India is a member of this bank
Issue: Akademik Lomonosov is the first nuclear plant in its class. It is capable of producing enough energy to power a city of 200,000 people. According to the owner of the 70-megawatt floating nuclear power plant, Rosatom, the craft is being towed through the Baltic Sea to a base in Murmansk.
Concerns about this project
Greenpeace recently warned that there was a danger of a “Chernobyl on ice”, referencing the 1986 nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl reactor in Soviet-controlled Ukraine that prompted a mass evacuation and left swathes of Ukraine and neighboring Belarus uninhabitable.
(GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India’s services sector continued to improve in April, mainly spurred by increased business activities, and job-creation accelerated at the fastest pace in more than seven years
Reasons for the uptrend
With growth in new orders and easing inflationary pressures also helping in improved demand condition
(GS1: Geophysical phenomenon)
Issue: Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted today, sending lava shooting into the air in a residential neighborhood and prompting mandatory evacuation orders for nearby homes.
The county has ordered evacuations for all of Leilani Estates, which according to the 2010 U.S. Census has a population of 1,500. The state also mobilized the Hawaii National Guard to assist with evacuations.
A volcano is an opening in Earth’s crust that allows molten rock from beneath the crust to reach the surface. This molten rock is called magma when it is beneath the surface and lava when it erupts or flows from a volcano. Along with lava, volcanoes also release gases, ash, and rock. It’s a super hot mix that can be both incredibly destructive and creative.
Volcanoes form at the edges of Earth’s tectonic plates. These huge slabs of Earth’s crust travel atop the partly molten mantle, the layer beneath the crust. Sometimes, though, plates collide with one another or pull apart, and it’s at these active zones where volcanoes form. Volcanoes may also erupt in areas called hot spots where the crust is thin.
Volcanoes erupt in different ways, producing different landforms. Steep, cone-shaped volcanoes form when plates collide. All the pressure and heat of the collision make for a violent eruption. The cone forms when lava and other material eject and build up around the opening. This type of volcano is known as a stratovolcano, and Mt. Rainier is a good example. Sometimes an eruption is so violent that the top of the volcano collapses, leaving a huge pit or caldera. You can see calderas in Yellowstone National Park and Crater Lake. When plates pull apart, lava escapes through the rift. This more gentle flow creates new crust on the seafloor and wide, rounded volcanoes on the surface called shield volcanoes. Hawaii’s Kilauea is a shield volcano. It is also an example of a volcano that formed over a hotspot.
Volcanic eruptions can be deadly. Eruptions of Krakatau and Tambora in Indonesia caused the deaths of more than 100,000 people. Dangerous as they are, volcanoes also build and shape the land, creating mountains and new seafloor and depositing minerals and nutrients that enrich soil.
2 Types of lava flow
(1)Basic lava flow
* more fluid and thin and the lava travels over a longer distance before solidifying.
* lava flow faster and spread widely
* Gives rise to a more gentle-sloping volcano (shield volcano).
(2) Acidic lava flow
* Lava is thicker and more viscous.
* Travels over a shorter distance and cools and solidify faster.
* Gives rise to volcano with steeper slopes.
Pacific ring of fire
The Ring of Fire is a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. In a 40,000 km (25,000 mi) horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and plate movements. It has 452 volcanoes (more than 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes). The Ring of Fire is sometimes called the circum-Pacific belt.
‘Forest fire threat’
Issue: Incessant rains over the past few days in the Mysuru region have doused the threat of forest fires in Nagarahole and Bandipur National Parks, much to the relief of the authorities.
While Bandipur had a good spell of unseasonal rains late in March and in early April, it received moderate to heavy rains more recently, putting a cloak of green over the dry deciduous forest. The scenario is similar in the adjoining Nagarahole, where heavy rains have doused the threat of fires for this year.
Meanwhile, animal sightings have increased in Bandipur and park officials say that a good number of elephants that otherwise migrate to the Kabini backwaters in search of fodder and water have returned.
About Dry deciduous forest
The dry deciduous forests are mainly situated in the areas, where annual rainfall ranges from 500 – 1,500 mm and every species in these forests has its own time of leaf casting. Sal is the most significant tree found in the dry deciduous forests. Several studies have revealed that the dry deciduous forests are step by step replacing the moist deciduous forests in India.
The Indian dry deciduous forests are mainly located at tropical and subtropical latitudes. They occur in climates that are warm, year-round, and may receive several hundred centimeters or rain per year. The seasonal droughts in these forests have a great impact on all the living beings, as the trees lose moisture through their leaves, during this time. In spite of being less biologically diverse than rainforests, the Indian dry deciduous forests are home to a wide variety of wildlife. Some of the most notable animals include monkeys, large cats, parrots, various rodents, and ground dwelling birds. The Mammalian biomass also tends to live in higher numbers in dry forests than in rain forests.
The Northern Dry Deciduous Forests Ecoregions in India do not have large number of species or they are not high in numbers of endemic species, as well. However, they harbour several large vertebrates, which include the largest and most charismatic carnivore of Asia, the tiger (Panthera tigris). The northern Indian dry deciduous forests are mainly located across the Indian states of Bihar, Orissa, and Madhya Pradesh. They can also be found in the rain shadow of the Eastern Ghats Mountain Range. The vegetation in the Indian dry deciduous forests is made up of associations of Anogeissus latifolia, Dalbergia latifolia, Pterocarpus marsupium, Stereospermum suaveolens, Spondias pinnata, Cleistanthus collinus, Acacia lenticularis, Flacourtia indica, Boswellia serrata, Butea monosperma, etc. The dry forests do not harbor large numbers of endemic species, or they are not exceptionally rich in biodiversity, as well. The known mammal fauna in these forests consists of sixty-eight species and there are no eco-regional endemic species. However, the threatened species include the tiger, wild dog, sloth bear, and chousingha.
Among the Indian dry deciduous forests, the South Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests are not exceptionally outstanding for biological richness or endemism. The South Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests are located on the lee side of the Western Ghats Mountain Range. The forests in this region extend across the southern Indian states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and their vegetation is highly influenced by climate. As the tall Western Ghats Mountain Range intercepts the moisture from the southwest monsoon, the eastern slopes and the Deccan Plateau receive very little rainfall. The annual rainfall in these forests ranges from 900 to 1,500 millimeters (mm).
The Indian dry deciduous forests in this region have a three-storied structure, with an upper canopy at 15-25 meters, an understory at 10-15 meters, and undergrowth at 3-5 meters. The vegetation in these forests is characterised by Boswellia serrata, Anogeissus latifolia, Acacia catechu, Terminalia tomentosa, Terminalia paniculata, Terminalia belirica, Chloroxylon swietenia, Albizzia amara, Cassia fistula, Hardwickia binata, Dalbergia latifolia, etc. The forests are also home to several important populations of India’s large threatened vertebrates. One of the most important among them is the elephant population that ranges from the Nilgiri Hills to the Eastern Ghats. Some of the other important species include the Asian elephant, wild dog, sloth bear, chousingha, gaur, and grizzled giant squirrel.
(GS1: Geophysical phenomenon)
Issue: A cyclonic circulation over Haryana was the trigger for the deadly dust storm that swept parts of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, weather experts said on Thursday, estimating that the wind speed during the storm might have gone up to 100 kms per hour.
Reasons for this disaster
There were primarily four reasons that lead to the thunderstorm — excessive heating, availability of moisture, instability in atmosphere and a trigger for the storm
What is Cyclonic circulation?
Cyclonic rotation or circulation is movement in the same direction as the Earth’s rotation, as opposed to anti-cyclonic rotation. The Coriolis Effect causes cyclonic rotation to be in a counterclockwise direction in the northern hemisphere, and clockwise in the southern hemisphere. A closed area of winds rotating cyclonically is known as a cyclone.
Cyclonic circulation is the swirling motion of winds caused by a low pressure area. Its counter-part is called anti cyclonic circulation caused by a high pressure area.
Cyclonic circulation normally pulls in warm moist air resulting in cloudiness which may result in rainfall whereas anti-cyclonic circulation pushes away air resulting in clear weather.
In northern hemisphere, cyclonic circulation rotates in a counter clock wise direction whereas in southern hemisphere it rotates in a clockwise direction.
‘New snake species’
Issue: Just 40 cm long and iridescent brown, Bhupathy’s shieldtail is the latest addition to the snake fauna of the Western Ghats.
About the discovered species
The snake, currently found only in the forests of the Anaikatty hills in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore district, has been named Uropeltis bhupathyi, after the late herpetologist S. Bhupathy, for his contributions to the field.
The reptile belongs to a family of snakes found only in peninsular India and Sri Lanka. They are non-venomous, mostly burrowing and earthworm-eating, and are called shieldtails after the large, flat tips of their tails, which make them appear almost sliced off.
(GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: Researchers have found one more reason why urgent steps have to be taken to stop deforestation in the Western Ghats. The dense vegetation in the Western Ghats determines the amount of rainfall that Tamil Nadu gets during the summer monsoon.
What the study says?
1. A team led by Prof. Subimal Ghosh from the Department of Civil Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay has found that dense forests of the Western Ghats contribute as much as 40% of moisture to the southwest monsoon rainfall over Tamil Nadu during normal monsoon years. The average contribution is 25-30%. But during monsoon deficit years, the contribution increases to as high as 50%.
2. The study found the forests of Western Ghats contribute as much as 3 mm per day of rainfall during August and September over a “majority of locations” in Tamil Nadu and 1 mm per day during June and July.
3. The researchers found a significant drop in rainfall in the range of 1-2.5 mm per day when the vegetation cover was removed from the Western Ghats. This translates to an average of 25% of the total monsoon rainfall over Tamil Nadu. But only small parts of Kerala get affected by deforestation in Western Ghats.