Daily Prelims Notes 21 October 2022
- October 21, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
21 October 2022
Table Of Contents
- Centre launches programme to strengthen Kashi-T.N. bond
- In China, 1962 anniversary brings new attention to ‘forgotten’ war
- Russia Removed From the Global Nuclear-Energy Summit at Washington
- EC removes officer who cancelled candidate’s symbol
- Customs’ SWIFT
- Abuse of Dominant Position and related news
- Gift tax
- Stock Exchange index
- Financial Reporting Review Board (FRRB)
- China-plus-one strategy
- October storm in Bay of Bengal after 3 years: When, where it is likely to hit
- For those who live at high altitudes, things are looking up
- Glaciers in the Alps are melting faster than ever — and 2022 was their worst summer yet
- ‘Approval of GM mustard may threaten food security, increase pesticide tolerance’
- Architectural marvel Pamban rail bridge: Vertical lift structure will be a ‘showcase’
- NASA’s Webb Telescope Captures Sharpest ‘Pillars of Creation’ Portrait Ever
1. Centre launches programme to strengthen Kashi-T.N. bond
Subject: Govt Schemes
Context :The centre has announced a month-long Kashi Tamil Sangamam, which aims to rediscover the links between the two ancient knowledge, culture and heritage centres, from November 16.
About Kashi Tamil Sangamam Programme
- The month-long Sangamam will be organised in Varanasi from November 16 to December 19.
- This programme, which would be a part of the ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ initiative.
- During which academic exchanges – seminars, discussions etc. will be held between experts, scholars on various facets of the two ancient manifestations of Indian culture, with a focus on bringing out the links and shared values between the two cultures.
- The programme has been devised based on the recommendations of the Bharatiya Bhasha Samiti (BBS) or the High Powered Committee for Promotion of Indian Language constituted by the education ministry.
- As part of the programme, 2,500 people divided into 12 groups would be travelling to Varanasi by train during the period.
- The journey points in Tamil Nadu would be Chennai, Rameswaram and Coimbatore.
- The knowledge partners for the programme would be IIT-Madras and the Banaras Hindu University, while the Uttar Pradesh government would be the host State.
Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat
- It was announced on 31st October, 2015 on the occasion of the 140th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
- Ministry/Department : Ministry of Education
Objectives of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat
- To celebrate the Unity in Diversity of our Nation and to maintain and strengthen the fabric of traditionally existing emotional bonds between the people of our Country;
- To promote the spirit of national integration through a deep and structured engagement between all Indian States and Union Territories through a year-long planned engagement between States;
- To showcase the rich heritage and culture, customs and traditions of either State for enabling people to understand and appreciate the diversity that is India, thus fostering a sense of common identity.
2. In China, 1962 anniversary brings new attention to ‘forgotten’ war
Subject : International Relations /Post Independence Consolidation
Context :On the 60th anniversary of the India-China war, which began with a Chinese attack on October 20, 1962,China’s military and media are paying renewed attention to a war that was largely previously sidelined in official Chinese military histories.
Sino-Indian War 1962
- The Sino-India war, better known as the Indo-China war was a battle that took place between India and China from October 20 to November 21 in 1962.
- India never anticipated that China could wage a war but China proved it wrong when it launched an attack on India on October 20, 1962
Events that led to war
- The Himalayan border dispute was the chief pretext of the war.
Boundary Dispute :
- China claimed the Aksai Chin area in Ladakh, Kashmir and the Tawang area in Arunachal Pradesh as its own (Aksai Chin as part of its Xingjiang and Tawang as part of Tibet).
- Aksai Chin :Aksai Chin is the southwestward extension of the Tibetan plateau and it is a desert of salt flats that is about 5000 m above sea level.
- The eastern front where the war took place, i.e., Arunachal Pradesh is a mountainous region having many peaks above 7000 m over sea level.
Occupation of Tibet :
- Things took a turn for the worse when China announced its occupation of Tibet. India proposed negotiations on the Tibet issue.
- After the 1959 Tibet uprising, India had given asylum to the Dalai Lama and this obviously did not go down well with the Chinese. China perceived India as a threat to its rule over Tibet and this was also a major reason for the war.
Failure of bilateral talks
- In 1960, the Chinese premier Zhou Enlai suggested that if India gave up its claim over Aksai Chin, China would drop its claim in Arunachal Pradesh (then called the North Eastern Frontier Agency).
- But Nehru rejected this outright saying China had no legitimate claims over both the areas.
Forward Policy of India :
- India started following a ‘Forward Policy’ where it began to send troops and patrols to disputed border areas. Some of these troops even went beyond the Indian borders. This move deteriorated relations between both nations.
Aftermath of War
- China declared a ceasefire on 21 November since it reached its claim lines, and also stated that from December 1, 1962, the Chinese frontier guards would retreat 20 km behind the Line of Actual Control.
- After the war, India increased its support for Tibetan refugees and revolutionaries.
Subject : Polity
- Recently Supreme Court has granted interim bail to the accused in the 2017 murder of a Class 2 student at a private school in Gurgaon.
What is bail:
- Bail is the conditionalrelease of a person held under legal custody in matters which are yet to be pronounced by the Court, by undertaking a promise to appear in the Court as and when required.
What governs bail in India:
- The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 governs the terms of the bail.
- Section 2 (a) of the CrPC,1973 defines the phrases “bailable offense” and “non-bailable offense” even though the Act does not define “bail” expressly.
What are different categories of bail:
- Section 2(a) of CrPC categorizes a bailable offence.
- It means that an offence that is classified as bailable in the First Schedule of the Code, or which is classified as bailable under any other law.
- An accused can claim bail as a matter of right if he is accused of committing a bailable offence.
- Under Section 436 of CrPC 1973, a person accused of a bailable offence at any time while under arrest without a warrant and at any stage of the proceedings has the right to be released on bail.
- A non-bailable offence is defined as any offence which is not a bailable offence.
- A person accused of a non-bailable offence cannot claim bail as a righ
- A person accused of non-bailable offences can be granted bail provided the accused does not qualify the following conditions:
- There are reasonable grounds to believe that he has committed an offence punishable with death penalty or life imprisonment.
- That the accused has committed a cognizable offence and he had been previously convicted of an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment of seven years or more or if the accused been convicted on two or more instances of a cognizable and non-bailable offence.
What are the types of bails in India:
- Regular bail:
- The court orders the release of a person who is under arrest, from police custody after paying the amount as bail money.
- An accused can apply for regular bail under Section 437 and 439 of CrPC.
- Interim bail:
- This is a direct order by the court to provide temporary and short term bail to the accused until his regular or anticipatory bail application is pending before the court.
- Anticipatory bail:
- This is a direct order of Sessions or High Court to provide pre-arrest bail to an accused of a crime.
- When the person has an apprehension of being arrested, the person can apply for anticipatory bail.
4. Russia Removed From the Global Nuclear-Energy Summit at Washington
Subject : International Relations
- Recently, the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that the executives from Rosatom and Russia’s industry regulator were dropped from the agenda of next week’s meetings in the US capital.
What is the issue:
- Russia has come under increased pressure at the IAEA for endangering nuclear security following the seizure of Europe’s biggest atomic-power plant in its war against Ukraine.
- The Zaporizhzhia station, with six reactors designed to generate a fifth of Ukraine’s electricity, has subsequently been targeted by artillery and missiles, threatening to provoke a radiological accident.
What is IAEA:
- IAEA is an intergovernmental organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons.
- It was established in 1957 as an autonomous organization within the United Nations system.
- IAEA reports to both the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations.
- It is headquartered at the UN Office at Vienna, Austria.
- In 2005, it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work for a safe and peaceful world.
- Currently, it has 175 members.
- India became a member in 1957.
5. EC removes officer who cancelled candidate’s symbol
Recently, EC removes returning officer who nixed candidate’s symbol opposed by TRS
What is the issue:
- The Election Commission replaced the returning officer in Telangana’s bypoll-boundMunugode Assembly constituency after he cancelled a candidate’s symbol—road roller,one of the symbols that the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi wanted disallowed over resemblance to its car symbol.
- The commission took the action after Yuga Tulasi Party candidate Kolisetty Shiva Kumar approached it and a local court.
What the rule suggest:
- As per rule 10(5) of the Conduct of Elections Rules, only the commission is empowered to revise allotted symbols.
What is Conduct of Election Rule:
- The Conduct Election Rules,1961 came into force on the 25th April, 1961.
- It ia Act to provide for the conduct of elections to the Houses of Parliament and to the Houses of the Legislature of each State,
- It also deals with the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those Houses, the corrupt practices and other offences at or in connection with such elections and the decision of doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with such elections.
Section 10 of the Conduct of the Election Rule deals with preparation of a list of contesting candidates.
Subject : Economy
The government is now planning to introduce a single window clearance system for exports.
- It is planned to create a web-based registration of goods, including from special economic zones.
- It would facilitate integration of Customs ICEGATE with other regulatory agencies to ensure faster clearances for export consignments.
- It would eliminate the need for any broker or exporter to actually travel to a port to submit their documents to customs for initiating processes.
Customs’ SWIFT (Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade) Clearances Project:
- It has been launched by the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC)
- It is an initiative to speed up customs clearances for consignments and improve ‘ease of doing business.
- The ‘India Customs Single Window’ enables importers/exporters to file a common electronic ‘Integrated Declaration’ on the Indian Customs Electronic Commerce/Electronic Data Interchange (EC/EDI) Gateway i.e. ICEGATE portal.
- Thus, it would allow importers and exporters, the facility to lodge their clearance documents online at a single point only.
- Required permissions, if any, from other regulatory agencies would be obtained online without the trader having to approach these agencies.
- The Integrated Declaration compiles the information requirements of Customs, FSSAI, Plant Quarantine, Animal Quarantine, Drug Controller, WildLife Control Bureau and Textile Committee. It replaces nine separate forms required by these 6 different agencies and Customs.
- These are the major import regulatory agencies in India which are involved in issuing clearances or “No Objection Certificates” for live consignments i.e. post import.
- The Integrated Declaration compiles the information requirements of Customs, FSSAI, Plant Quarantine, Animal Quarantine, Drug Controller, WildLife Control Bureau and Textile Committee. It replaces nine separate forms required by these 6 different agencies and Customs.
- How will SWIFT help:
- It will provide a single point interface for clearance of import goods.
- Replaces 9 separate documents with one Integrated Customs Electronic Declaration
- Facilitates trade by reducing Dwell Time & improving Ease of Doing Business
- Reduces Documentation & Cost of Clearance
- Brings 6 participating Government agencies on a single platform
- Eliminates the need for tax-payers to interact separately with these agencies.
Indian Customs Electronic Gateway (ICEGATE)
- It is the national Customs portal of CBIC that provides e-filing services to the trade and cargo carriers and other clients of the Customs Department (collectively called Trading Partner).
- Services include-electronic filing of the Bill of Entry (import goods declaration), Shipping Bills (export goods declaration), e-payment of Customs Duty, Common Signer utility for signing all the Customs Documents.
7. Abuse of Dominant Position and related news
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) imposed a penalty of Rs 1,337.76 crore on Google for abusing its dominant position.
- Mandatory pre-installation of the entire Google Mobile Suite (GMS) under Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA), with no option to uninstall the same, and their prominent placement amounts to contravention of Section 4(2)(d) of the Act.
- Section 4 of the Competition Act pertains to abuse of dominant position.
- Google has also leveraged its dominant position in the app store market to enter and protect its position in Online Video Hosting Platforms (OVHPs) market through YouTube
- It is an open-source, mobile operating system installed by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) of smartphones and tablets.
- Android is developed by a consortium of developers known as the Open Handset Alliance and commercially sponsored by Google.
Section 4 of Competition Act 2002
- No enterprise shall abuse its dominant position.
- There shall be an abuse of dominant position under sub-section (1), if an enterprise,—
- directly or indirectly, imposes unfair or discriminatory—
- condition in purchase or sale of goods or services; or
- price in purchase or sale (including predatory price) of goods or service;
- limits or restricts—
- production of goods or provision of services or market therefor; or
- technical or scientific development relating to goods or services to the prejudice of consumers; or
- indulges in practice or practices resulting in denial of market access; or
- makes conclusion of contracts subject to acceptance by other parties of supplementary obligations which, by their nature or according to commercial usage, have no connection with the subject of such contracts; or
- uses its dominant position in one relevant market to enter into, or protect, another relevant market.
- directly or indirectly, imposes unfair or discriminatory—
Dominant position means a position of strength, enjoyed by an enterprise, in the relevant market, in India, which enables it to—
- operate independently of competitive forces prevailing in the relevant market; or
- affect its competitors or consumers or the relevant market in its favour.
The network effect
- It is a phenomenon whereby increased numbers of people or participants improve the value of a good or service.
- Example- The internet is an example of the network effect. As more users gained access to the internet, they produced more content, information, and services which in turn attracted more users to connect and do business with each other.
- Congestion is a negative network effect whereby too many users can slow a network down, reducing its utility and frustrating network members.
Subject : Economy
The Supreme Court ruled that shares within the lock-in-period are not ‘quoted shares’, and thus they need to be valued as ‘unquoted shares’ to determine the gift tax liability.
- The issue related to whether the gifting of the promoter’s locked-in shares should be treated as quoted or unquoted shares for the purpose of valuing the gift for taxability under the Gift Tax Act, 1958.
- SC held that the equity shares being under the lock-in period could not be traded and, therefore, remained unquoted in any recognised stock exchange.
- Wealth Tax Act a quoted share in relation to an equity share or a preference share means a share quoted/listed on any recognised stock exchange with regularity from time to time.
- The quotations of such shares are based on current transactions made in the ordinary course of business.
- Investment instruments (such as shares, bonds, debentures) that is officially listed on a stock exchange for public trading
- An ‘unquoted share’ is simply a share that is not a quoted share.
- A share may become unquoted if the market capitalization of its issuing company falls to the point that it no longer meets an stock exchange’s listing requirements.
- The genesis of taxing gifts in India started with the introduction of the Gift Tax Act, 1958.
- The Gift Tax Act followed a ‘donor based’ taxation, wherein the gifts were taxed in the hands of the donor at a flat rate of 30% with a basic exemption of 30,000.
- The Gift Tax Act was repealed with effect from October 1998 and the donor as well as the recipient were not required to pay taxes on the gifts given / received.
- Reintroduction of Gift Tax in the Income Tax Act, 1961
- Its emphasis shifted from ‘donor-based’ taxation to a ‘donee-based’ taxation, i.e. the income from gift(s) became taxable in the hands of the recipient.
- As per the current tax law, any person (donee / recipient) receiving a sum of money, or an immovable property or any other specified property from any other person (donor) without consideration or for an inadequate consideration i.e. less than the fair market value of the property or stamp duty value in case of an immovable property, is liable to be taxed on the value of such gift.
- Property includes immovable property being land or building or both, shares and securities, jewellery, archaeological collections, drawings, paintings, sculptures, any work of art and bullion, etc.
- Gift of movable property such as shares, ETFs, mutual funds, jewellery, drawings etc without consideration and exceeding Fair Market Value of more than INR 50,000 is taxable in the hands of the recipient under Section 56(2) of the Income Tax Act.
- Exemptions from taxation
- Any sum of money or any property received from a specified relative on any occasion.
- Any sum of money or any property received from any person on the occasion of the marriage;
- Any sum of money or any property received under a will or by way of inheritance;
- Any sum of money or any property received in contemplation of death of the payer;
- Any sum of money or any property from an individual by a trust created or established solely for the benefit of a relative of the individual; etc.
Subject : Economy
Market watchers say Samvat 2078 (last Diwali to this) has been tough for Financial markets as the Sensex declined 0.96 per cent, while the broader Nifty index fell 1.48 per cent.
- It is the beginning of Samvat 2079 next week.
- Causes of down performance:
- Omicron wave– which reduced expected profit decline
- Russia Ukraine war –again marginal efficiency of capital investment declined.
- War induced inflation–reduce demand of financial assets
- Federal monetary policy tightening–large scale capital outflows
By the Hindu calendar, the lunisolar Vikram Samvat calendar is 56.7 years ahead of the solar Gregorian calendar.
The National Stock Exchange and the Nifty Index
- It was founded in 1992.
- It was recognized as a stock exchange by SEBI under the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1956 and the operation commenced in 1994.
- It was the first exchange in India to provide fully computerized electronic trading.
- NSE is one of the pioneers in technology and innovation which ensured the high-end performance of its systems. The exchange supports more than 3,000 VSAT terminals, making the NSE the largest private wide-area network in the country. NSE is the largest stock market, in terms of volume in India.
- The NIFTY 50 is the flagship index on the National Stock Exchange of India Ltd. (NSE).
- The Index tracks the behavior of a portfolio of blue chip companies, the largest and most liquid Indian securities. It includes 50 of the approximately 1600 companies listed on the NSE.
The Bombay Stock Exchange and Sensex:
- It was founded on July 9, 1875.
- It is Asia’s first stock exchange and world’s fastest exchange with a median trade speed of six microseconds.
- BSE Sensex the benchmark index of India’s BSE, formerly known as the Bombay Stock Exchange.
- It comprises the 30 of the largest and most actively-traded stocks on the BSE, providing a gauge of India’s economy.
- Sensex uses a weighted average method for price movement calculation. That means each share’s price has a weightage proportional to its market capitalization.
- The index’s composition is reviewed in June and December each year.
- Five criteria for being listed in BSE Sensex:
- It should be listed in India on BSE
- It should be a large-to mega-cap company
- The stock should be relatively liquid
- The company should generate revenue from core activities
- It should keep the sector balanced broadly in line with the Indian equity market.
10. Financial Reporting Review Board (FRRB)
Subject : Economy
The Financial Reporting Review Board (FRRB ) is likely to review edtech major BYJU’S financial statements and look into the alleged irregular accounting practices– including the delayed filing and revenue recognition from “streaming services”.
Filing of financial statements by private companies:
- As a part of Annual Filing, Companies (with few exceptions) incorporated under the Companies Act 1956 or Companies Act 2013, are required to file eForms with the Registrar of Companies (ROC) for following purposes:
- filing Balance Sheet
- filing Profit & Loss Account
- filing Annual Return by Companies having share capital
- filing Compliance Certificate by Companies having paid up capital of Rs. 10 lakh – Rs. 2 crore
- filing Annual Return by Companies not having share capital
- filing financial statement and other documents
- filing statement containing salient features of consolidated financial statement of a group etc..
- By the current legal framework private companies need to file their financial statements with the MCA (Ministry Of Corporate Affairs) within 30 days of holding the annual general meeting .
- The AGM has to be held within six months of the end of the financial year.
Financial Reporting Review Board
- It is a non-standing committee of the Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.
- The FRRB was constituted by the Council at its 226th meeting held in July 2002.
- The objective of the Board is to review the compliance with the accounting and auditing standards issued by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.
- The Board, however, restricts its reviews to the published general-purpose financial statements only.
- The reviews by the Financial Reporting Review Board would not be verification of the entire audit (re-audit) or review of working papers of the auditors concerned.
- Compliance with the generally accepted accounting principles in the preparation and presentation of financial statements;
- Compliance with the disclosure requirements prescribed by regulatory bodies, statutes and rules and regulations relevant to the enterprise;
- Compliance with the reporting obligations of the enterprise as well as the auditor.
Subject : Economy / Current Events
Context: India must reorient its trade policy to take advantage of the increasingly popular China-plus-one strategy.
About China-plus one strategy
- China Plus One, also known simply as Plus One, is the business strategy to avoid investing only in China and diversify business into other countries.
- It was coined in 2013 as a global business strategy.
- Many overseas companies once moved operations to China due to the low cost of labor, but companies are now reevaluating their setup in this country and diversifying their manufacturing strategies.
- The driving factors range from China’s cost advantage diminishing in recent years to growing geopolitical distrust between China and the West.
- In late July, a grouping of 18 economies, including India, the US, and the European Union, unveiled a roadmap for establishing collective supply chains that would be resilient in the long term.
- The roadmap also included steps to counter supply chain dependencies and vulnerabilities. This can be seen as a part of the overall China-plus-one strategy.
- Clear winners of the China-plus-one model have been the EU, Mexico, Taiwan, and Vietnam, across sectors such as machinery, automobiles, and transport and electrical equipment.
- India, however, did not significantly benefit from this trade diversion.
12. October storm in Bay of Bengal after 3 years: When, where it is likely to hit
Subject : Geography
- The first tropical cyclone of the post-monsoon season of 2022 is likely to form in the Bay of Bengal on October 24.
- If realised, this will be the first cyclone to develop in the Bay of Bengal in October since 2018, and will be called Sitrang, as named by Thailand.
- The last October cyclone in the Bay of Bengal was Titli in 2018.
Why storms in October-
- After the withdrawal of the Southwest monsoon, there is a rise in ocean heating, which leads to rise in sea surface temperature over the Bay of Bengal.
- The atmospheric moisture availability over the ocean region, too, is higher.
- So, when remnant systems from the South China Sea reach the Bay of Bengal, they get conducive conditions, aiding the formation and intensification of cyclones in October.
- The months of October-November and May-June see storms of severe intensity develop in the North Indian Ocean — comprising the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea — with an average of five developing in a calendar year.
- In the past 131 years,October saw 61 storms develop in the Bay of Bengal, according to the Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre (RSMC).
- The east coast, notably Odisha, has faced many of its severest storms in October, including the Super Cyclone of 1999.
- In some years, ocean-atmospheric factors hinder this phenomenon.
- For instance, in 2020, weak La Nina conditions along the equatorial Pacific Ocean prevented a cyclonic formation near India’s coasts.
- The name Sitrang (read Si-trang) has been given by Thailand, and features in the list of tropical cyclone names prepared by the RMSC being followed since April 2020.
- The IMD is one of the world’s six RMSCs mandated to provide cyclone advisories and alerts to 13 member countries — Bangladesh, India, Iran, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
How the cyclones are named and what are the guidelines on adopting their names?
- In 2000, a group of nations called WMO/ESCAP (World Meteorological Organisation/United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific), which comprised Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand, decided to start naming cyclones in the region.
- After each country sent in suggestions, the WMO/ESCAPPanel on Tropical Cyclones (PTC) finalised the list.
- The WMO/ESCAP expanded to include five more countries in 2018 — Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
- The list of 169 cyclone names released by IMD in April 2020 were provided by these countries — 13 suggestions from each of the 13 countries.
Which states are likely to be affected ?
- As the storm is expected to come close to Odisha shores, heavy to very heavy rain (64.5 to 204.4mm in 24 hour) would lash over during October 22-25.
- The IMD has issued a ‘yellow’ for coastal districts of Puri, Jagatsinghpur and Kendraparha.
- Once the cyclone develops, heavy rainfall is likely to lash Mayurbhanj, Baleshwar, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Cuttack, Khorda, Nayagarh, Puri, Kendraparha and Jagatsinghpur districts on October 24 and all these districts are on ‘yellow’ alert.
Colour- Coded Weather Warning-
- It is issued by the IMD whose objective is to alert people ahead of severe or hazardous weather which has the potential to cause damage, widespread disruption or danger to life.
- Warnings are updated daily.
- The IMD uses 4 colour codes are:
- Green (All is well): No advisory is issued.
- Yellow (Be Aware): Yellow indicates severely bad weather spanning across several days. It also suggests that the weather could change for the worse, causing disruption in day-to-day activities.
- Orange/Amber (Be prepared): The orange alert is issued as a warning of extremely bad weather with the potential of disruption in commute with road and rail closures, and interruption of power supply.
- Red (Take Action): When the extremely bad weather conditions are certainly going to disrupt travel and power and have significant risk to life, the red alert is issued.
- These alerts are universal in nature and are also issued during floods, depending on the amount of water rising above land/in a river as a result of torrential rainfall.
- For instance, when the water in a river is ‘above normal’ level, or between the ‘warning’ and ‘danger’ levels, a yellow alert is issued.
Cyclones in the Arabian Sea-
- In comparison with the Bay of Bengal, only 32 storms have developed in the Arabian Sea in October since 1891.
- Climatologically too, the IMD states that of the five storms formed in the North Indian Ocean in a calendar year, four are in the Bay of Bengal and one in Arabian Sea.
Reasons for more tropical cyclone originate in Bay of Bengal :
- The vast low pressure created by the warm water of the ocean.
- The Bay of Bengal shaped like a trough that makes it more hospitable for storms to gain force.
- The high sea surface temperaturetriggers high intensity storms.
- Bay of Bengal gets more rainfall with sluggish winds and warm air currents around it that keep temperatures relatively high all year.
- The constant inflow of fresh warm water from the perineal rivers like Bramhmaputra, Ganga, etc makes it further impossible to mix with the cooler water below.
- The absence of air movements from north-western India towards the Bay in the post-monsoon phase is also another reason for the chances of cyclones in the Bay of Bengal.
- Remnant of tropical cyclones from the Pacific
13. For those who live at high altitudes, things are looking up
- Located in the heart of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in southern Qinghai province, Sanjiangyuan (Three-River-Source) National Park, which stretches for 123,100 square kilometres, is the first and largest national park in China.
- Since the pilot programme for the park’s management system was launched in 2016, more than 20,000 local residents have taken part in ecological management and protection work in the area, fulfilling a policy aimed at finding one job for each household.
About Sanjiangyuan (Three-River-Source) National Park-
- As the name suggests, Sanjiangyuan is the origin of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers.
- At an average altitude of more than 4,500 metres, Sanjiangyuan is a broad and sparsely populated area with little interference from humans.
- It is the perfect habitat for species such as the Tibetan antelope, the Tibetan gazelle, the snow leopard, the white-lipped deer and the black-necked crane.
The pilot program and its impact-
- As a result of diligent patrolling by local custodians, and a general increase in environmental awareness, vegetation in the area has risen by about 30 per cent compared with more than 20 years ago.
- The situation changed in 2007 when herders were encouraged to quit grazing their livestock to return the grassland to wild animals. The government subsidised those responding to this call.
- The number of wild animals is also rising because they are guaranteed a healthy food supply.
14. Glaciers in the Alps are melting faster than ever — and 2022 was their worst summer yet
- This year Switzerland’s glaciers have lost an average of 6.2 per cent of their ice.
- The new flurries of snow will form a protective blanket to shield and reflect 90 per cent of the sun’s radiation back into the atmosphere and limits the warming and melting of the ice beneath.
Saharan sand and a huge heatwave-
- This year’s natural atmospheric weather patterns carried Saharan dust to Europe and blanketed the Alpine landscape.
- Since dust absorbs more solar energy than snow the now orange-tinted snow melted faster.
- Then a major heatwave saw temperature records smashed across Europe, with parts of the UK reaching 40° Celsius for the first time.
- The last time glaciers had an extreme melt season was in 2003.
- That calendar year, 3.8 per cent of glacier ice melted across Switzerland.
Alps glacier melt-
- The extent to which a glacier has melted does depend on the altitude at which it is located, how steep the glacier tongue is and how heavily it is covered with debris.
- In Switzerland, these glacial meltwaters are used for hydropower.
- So one consequence is that melting glaciers help to compensate for low rainfall in times of drought, filling reservoirs to supply the nation’s energy supply.
- Melting glaciers have created more than 1,000 new lakes across the mountains.
- The inventory of Swiss Glacial lakes showed that almost 1,200 new lakes have formed in formerly glaciated regions of the Swiss Alps since the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850 and around 1,000 of them still exist today.
- In the Alps, Zermatt, a famous car-free Swiss village in the shadow of the Matterhorn, recorded temperatures up to 33°C despite being 1,620 meters above sea level.
- Mont Blanc was closed.
- The glacier, in the Glarus Alps of northeastern Switzerland, has shrunk to a tiny fraction of its original size.
- Scientists say the glacier has lost at least 80% of its volume just since 2006, a trend accelerated by rising global temperatures.
50 years of data
- Alpine Glacier Project which was established in 1972 and, along with the University of Salford, has led scientific expeditions to glaciers near Zermatt every summer for 50 years.
- Over the project’s five decades, Gorner Glacier and Findel Glacier have retreated 1,385 metres and 1,655 metres respectively.
- The Alps emerged during the Alpine orogeny (mountain-building event), an event that began about 65 million years ago as the Mesozoic Era was drawing to a close.
- Alps are young fold mountains with rugged relief and high conical peaks.
- They are the most prominent of western Europe’s physiographic regions. Some 750 miles long and more than 125 miles wide at their broadest point between Garmisch-Partenkirchen,Germany, and Verona, Italy, the Alps cover more than 80,000 square miles.
- The Alps extend north from the subtropical Mediterranean coast near Nice, France, to Lake Geneva before trending east-northeast to Vienna, Austria.
- There they touch the Danube River and meld with the adjacent plain.
- Because of their arc like shape, the Alps separate the marine west-coast climates of Europe from the Mediterranean areas of France, Italy, and the Balkan region.
- The Alps form part of France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and Albania.
- Only Switzerland and Austria can be considered true Alpine countries.
- Mont Blanc is the highest peak in the Alps and in Europe, reaching a lofty 4,804 meters above sea level.
- It is located in the Graian Alps and lies within France, Switzerland, and Italy.
- Monte Rosa is a massif (a compact group of mountains) consisting of several peaks.
- The highest peak in this range (Dufourspitze) has an elevation of 4,634 meters, claiming the title of Switzerland’s highest peak.
- Dom, which is located near Monte Rosa, Dom stands at 4,545 meters and is known as one of the “easier” tall peaks in the Alps to summit because of it’s straightforward routes.
- Other major peaks are Liskamm, Weisshorn, Matterhorn, Dent Blanche, Grand Combin etc.
15. ‘Approval of GM mustard may threaten food security, increase pesticide tolerance’
- Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), which functions in the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, might approve the commercial cultivation of modified mustard.
- This would be the first time since 2002 for such approval to grow GM mustard (DMH-11).
- The green signal for GM mustard was given by the central government in May 2017 after trials in Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi.
- However, it remained pending for approval from the environment ministry.
- The decision to approve it took a pause after activists and farmer bodies approached the Supreme Court to oppose the move.
GM Mustard (DMH-11)
- Mustard is one of India’s most important winter crops sown between mid-October and late November.
- It a self-pollinating crop difficult to hybridise naturally as it cross-pollinate.
- It is largest edible oil yielding crop of India.
- DMH (Dhara Mustard Hybrid)-11 is genetically modified variety of mustard developed by Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants at Delhi University.
- It was Government sponsored project.
- But researchers at Delhi University have created hybridised mustard DMH-11 using “barnase / barstar” technology for genetic modification.
- It is Herbicide Tolerant (HT) crop.
- In February 2016, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GMEC) had allowed the commercial production of another GM crop viz. Mustard DMH-11.
Advantages of GM Mustard-
- DMH-11 yields about 30% more than a traditional reference mustard variety.
- Help in boosting edible mustard oil production thus, reduce huge import bill for edible oil.
- Help to boost government-led scientific researches in Agriculture.
- As it is Herbicide Tolerant (HT) crop, the move will also pave the way for pesticide and insecticide tolerant companies.
Concerns regarding GM Mustard
- Approval to GM mustard would open a gate to several genetically modified food crops.
- Once the GM mustard is approved, other crop varieties such as BT cotton, BT brinjal and HT cotton are in line for the nod for commercial cultivation.
- Environmentalists are raising biosafety concern with GM crops as their introduction may adversely affect environment, human and animal health.
- As DMH-11 has external gene that makes the plant resistant to herbicide. Thus it will force farmers to use only select brands of agro-chemicals.
- Technical expert committee appointed by the Supreme Court in this regard earlier had found that HT crops are completely unsuitable in the Indian context.
- The herbicide-resistant crops may adversely impact the manual labourers, for whom weeding provides livelihood.
- This move could pose a threat to crop diversity, food security and increase tolerance for use of pesticides.
16. Architectural marvel Pamban rail bridge: Vertical lift structure will be a ‘showcase’
- The new 2.07 km Pamban rail bridge – India’s first vertical lift bridge – is set to be inaugurated in January to connect the Indian mainland and the holy Rameshwaram island. Surrounded by the pristine waters of the Bay of Bengal, it will be a ‘showcase’ project for the entire Indian Railways.
- It will replace the century-old bridge, which is corroded and has speed restrictions.
- It is located between India and Sri Lanka in the Gulf of Mannarand in the Ramanathapuram district of the state of Tamil Nadu.
- It is the largest island in Tamil Nadu by area.
- The principal town on the island is the pilgrimage centre of Rameswaram.
- It is also known as Rameswaram Island.
- Most of Pamban Island is covered with white sand.
- The chain formed by Pamban Island, the shoals of Adam’s Bridge, and Mannar Island of Sri Lanka separate Palk Bay and the Palk Strait in the northeast from the Gulf of Mannar in the southwest.
- Pamban Island extends for around 30 kilometres in width from the township of Pamban in the west to the remains of Dhanushkodi towards the southeast.
- Most of Pamban Island is covered with white sand and hence is not suitable for cultivation.
- Coconut and palm trees are found in abundance along with fig and eucalyptus plants.
- Scrubs and rushes are found in abundance all along the seashore.
About the new Pamban bridge-
- It is being developed by Rail Vikas Nigam Limited and constructed at a cost of more than Rs 240 crores.
- It is being developed parallel to the old railway bridge, which was constructed by the British in 1914 to bolster trade relations with Sri Lanka.
- ThePamban cantilever bridge connects the town of Mandapam in mainland India with Pamban Island, and Rameswaram.
- The new 2.07 km bridge will be India’s first vertical lift railway sea bridge.
- The new vertical lift bridge will have ‘Scherzer’ rolling lift technology.
- It will ensure that the trains, which currently operate at a maximum speed of just 10 kmph will be able to cross a 2 km distance at over 80 kmph.
- It will be 3.0 metres higher than the existing bridge with navigational air clearance of 22.0 metres above sea level.
- It will be equipped with electro-mechanical controlled systems.
- It will have an electrified double-line railway track and electro-mechanical controlled systems.
- It is expected to give a boost to the tourism industry in this region, especially for pilgrimage purposes as a large number of devotees, every year, visit Rameshwaram Temple and Jyotirling.
About Old Pamban bridge-
- Pamban Bridge connects the town of Mandapam in mainland India with Pamban and Rameshwaram.
- In 1914, it started its operations.
- It was India’s first sea bridge and was the longest sea bridge in India until the opening of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link in 2010.
- Its speciality was that it has a double-leaf bascule section in the midway which can be raised to let ships and barges pass through.
- Mainly, it opens up to allow ships and vessels to pass through.
- Its construction started in 1911.
- It was the first Indian bridge which is built across the sea. Generally, it is referred to as the queen of Indian bridges.
- Its construction was commissioned in 1914 and started its operations.
- This bridge was the only link between Rameshwaram and the mainland until 1988.
- In 1988, the road bridge started.
Why is the new Pamban bridge constructed?
- The old bridge is about 106 years old and requires frequent maintenance. It has a limited capacity for train operations.
- With the help of the new bridge, Indian Railways will be able to operate trains on the route at a higher speed. It will also allow trains to hold more weight.
- Also, between the mainland and Rameshwaram, it will maximize the volume of traffic. The area has religious significance.
17. NASA’s Webb Telescope Captures Sharpest ‘Pillars of Creation’ Portrait Ever
Subject : Science and technology
- The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has returned an image of the famous “Pillars of Creation” in infrared light that’s the sharpest, most detailed portrait of the spectacular star-forming region ever seen.
- The ethereal scene captures translucent columns of cool interstellar gasand dust punctuated by piercing, bright points of light.
- Most of these are stars, and the reddish balls of fire near the edges of the pillars are newly formed stars, according to NASA.
- This is created by the turmoil of stars that are still forming and shooting supersonic jets of material out into space where they collide with other materials.
- These epic explosions and cosmological collisions are far away, at a distance of around 6,500 light-years from Earth.
- This region of the universe first achieved fame in 1995 when it was imaged by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
- A follow-up campaign was done by Hubble in 2014, and plenty of other observatories have also trained their lenses on the area that lies within the Eagle Nebula.
- A side-by-side comparison of the new image and Hubble’s take on the cosmic phenomenon reveals how Webb’s infrared instrument is able to peer through the curtains of dust and gas that shroud the scene.
- Launched in December 2021, JWST is a joint venture between the US (NASA), European (ESA) and Canadian space agencies (CSA).
- It is an orbiting infrared observatory that will complement and extend the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope, with longer wavelength coverage and greatly improved sensitivity.
- Webb was formerly known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope” (NGST) and it was renamed in 2002 after a former NASA administrator, James Webb.
- It will be a large infrared telescope with an approximately 6.5-meter primary mirror.
Objectives and functions of the telescope:
- It will look deeper into the cosmos – and thus further back in time – than is possible with Hubble.
- It will do this with a much bigger mirror (6.5m in diameter versus 2.4m) and instruments that are tuned to the infrared.
- Scientists hope this set-up can detect the light from the very first population of stars in the Universe to switch on more than 13.5 billion years ago.
Comparison between Hubble Telescope and JWST
|Parameters||Hubble Telescope||James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)|
|1- Location of Operation||570 km away from Earth||1.5 Million away from Earth|
|2- Primary Mirror||2.4 Meter||6.5 Meter|
|3- No. of mirror segments||1 segment||18 segments|
|4- Mission Objective||Look back 12.5 Bn years and peer into young galaxies||Look back 13.5 bn years and watch the birth of new galaxies|
|5- Service conditions||Can be repaired||Not serviceable|
|6- Wavelengths||Explore into ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared light||Explore near- InfraRed and Mid InfraRed light|
|7- Orbit||Orbits around the Earth at an altitude of ~570 km above it||It will not actually orbit the Earth, instead it will sit at the Earth-Sun L2 Lagrange point, 5 million km away.|
Subject: Science and Technology
Context- chandrayaan-3 launch in June, ISRO
- The Chandrayaan-3 mission is a follow-up of Chandrayaan-2 of July 2019, which aimed to land a rover on the lunar South Pole.
- The subsequent failure of the Vikram lander led to the pursuit of another mission to demonstrate the landing capabilities needed for the Lunar Polar Exploration Mission proposed in partnership with Japan for 2024.
- It will have an orbiter and a landing module. However, this orbiter won’t be loaded with scientific instruments like the Chandrayaan-2.
- Its job will only be confined to carrying the lander to the moon, overseeing the landing from its orbit and communicating between the lander and the earth station.”
- Chandrayaan-2 consisted of an Orbiter, Lander and Rover, all equipped with scientific instruments to study the moon.
- The Orbiter would watch the moon from a 100-km orbit, while the Lander and Rover modules were to be separated to make a soft landing on the moon’s surface.
- ISRO had named the Lander module Vikram, after Vikram Sarabhai, the pioneer of India’s space programme, and the Rover module after Pragyaan, meaning wisdom.
- It was sent aboard the country’s most powerful geosynchronous launch vehicle, the GSLV-Mk 3.
- However, lander Vikram, instead of a controlled landing, ended up crash-landing and prevented rover Pragyaan from successfully travelling on the surface of the moon.
Information gathered by Chnadryaan-2-
- Presence of water molecules on moon:
- The mission has given the most precise information about the presence of H2O molecules on the Moon till date.
- Presence of Minor elements:
- Chromium, manganese and Sodium have been detected for the first time through remote sensing.
- The finding can lay the path for understanding magmatic evolution on the Moon and deeper insights into the nebular conditions as well as planetary differentiation.
- Information about solar flares:
- A large number of microflares outside the active region have been observed for the first time, and according to ISRO, this “has great implications on the understanding of the mechanism behind heating of the solar corona”, which has been an open problem for many decades.
- Exploration of the permanently shadowed regions as well as craters and boulders underneath the regolith, the loose deposit comprising the top surface extending up to 3-4m in depth. This is expected to help scientists to zero in on future landing and drilling sites, including for human missions.
- Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III was developed by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is a three-stage vehicle, designed to launch communication satellites into geostationary orbit.
- It has a mass of 640 tonnes that can accommodate up to 8,000 kg payload to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and 4000 kg payload to GTO (Geo-Synchronous Transfer Orbit).
Why was the Lunar South Pole targeted for exploration?
- The Lunar South pole is especially interesting because the lunar surface area that remains in shadow is much larger than that at the North Pole.
- There could be a possibility of the presence of water in permanently shadowed areas around it.
- In addition, the South Pole region has craters that are cold traps and contain a fossil record of the early Solar System.