Topic 1: Types of Cyclones
Context: Cyclone Biparjoy, which is expected to generate wind speeds of 125-135 kmph with gusts reaching up to 150 kmph by the time it reaches land, is a tropical cyclone.
What is a cyclone?
- A cyclone is a large-scale system of air that rotates around the centre of a low-pressure area.
- It is usually accompanied by violent storms and bad weather.
- As per National Disaster Management Authority, a cyclone is characterised by inward spiralling winds that rotate anticlockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.
Types of cyclones:
- National Disaster Management Authority classifies cyclones broadly into two categories:
- extratropical cyclones and
- tropical cyclones.
What are extratropical cyclones?
- Also known as mid-latitude cyclones, extratropical cyclones are those which occur outside of the tropic.
- They have cold air at their core, and derive their energy from the release of potential energy when cold and warm air masses interact.
- Such cyclones always have one or more fronts
- Front is a weather system that is the boundary between two different types of air masses.
- One is represented by warm air and the other by cold air — connected to them, and can occur over land or ocean.
What are tropical cyclones?
- Tropical cyclones are those which develop in the regions between the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer.
- They are the most devastating storms on Earth.
- Such cyclones develop when thunderstorm activity starts building close to the centre of circulation, and the strongest winds and rain are no longer in a band far from the centre.
- The core of the storm turns warm, and the cyclone gets most of its energy from the “latent heat” released when water vapour that has evaporated from warm ocean waters condenses into liquid water.
- Warm fronts or cold fronts aren’t associated with tropical cyclones.
- Tropical cyclones have different names depending on their location and strength.
- They are known as hurricanes in the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, the North Atlantic Ocean and the eastern and central North Pacific Ocean.
- In the western North Pacific, they are called typhoons.
|National Disaster Management AuthorityThe National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is India’s apex statutory body for disaster management.The NDMA was formally constituted on 27th September 2006, by the Disaster Management Act, 2005.The Prime Minister is its chairperson and it has nine other members.One of the nine members is designated as Vice-Chairperson.Disaster Management Act also envisaged the creation of State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) headed by respective Chief Ministers and the District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMA) headed by the District Collectors/ District Magistrate and co-chaired by Chairpersons of the local bodies.The primary responsibility for the management of disaster rests with the State Government concerned.However, the National Policy on Disaster Management puts in place an enabling environment for all i.e., the Centre, state and district.India is also a signatory to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) that sets targets for disaster management.|
Topic 2: National Crisis Management Committee
Context: National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) meets to review preparedness for impending cyclone ‘Biparjoy’ in Arabian Sea
Role of National Crisis Management Committee
- The NCMC has been constituted under the chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary.
- Other members:
- the secretary to the Prime Minister,
- secretaries of the ministries of home affairs, defence, agriculture and cooperation, RAW
- director of Intelligence Bureau.
- The NCMC gives direction to the Crisis Management Group as deemed necessary.
- This is a group under the chairmanship of the Relief Commissioner comprising the senior officers from the various ministries and other concerned departments.
- The CMG will meet at least twice in a year.
- Functions of CMG:
- Reviews every year contingency plans formulated by the central ministries/departments.
- Reviews measures required for dealing with a natural calamity.
- Coordinates the activities of the central ministries and state governments in relation to disaster preparedness and relief.
- Obtains information from the nodal officers on measures relating to the above.
National Disaster Response Force
- The Disaster Management Act, 2005 included provisions for the constitution of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for the purpose of specialised response to natural and man-made disasters.
- Accordingly, in 2006 NDRF was constituted with eight battalions.
- At present, NDRF has a strength of 16 battalions with each battalion consisting of 1,149 personnel.
- Earlier, the personnel of NDRF were deployed for routine law and order duties also.
- In 2008, NDRF was made a dedicated force for disaster response related duties, under the unified command of DG NDRF.
Topic 3: Exercise Ekuverin
Context: Indo-Maldives Joint Military Exercise “Ekuverin” Commenced At Chaubatia, Uttarakhand.
- The 12th edition of joint military exercise “Ex Ekuverin” between the Indian Army & the Maldives National Defence Force has commenced recently.
- Ekuverin meaning ‘Friends’.
- It is a bilateral annual exercise conducted alternatively in India and Maldives.\
- The exercise is aimed at enhancing interoperability in Counter Insurgency/ Counter Terrorism Operations under the UN mandate and carry out joint Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations.
Topic 4: Global Slavery Index
Context: The Global Slavery Index 2023 was published recently.
- According to it, on any given day in 2021, as many as 50 million people were living in “modern slavery”.
- Among these 50 million, 28 million suffer from forced labour and 22 million from forced marriages.
- Of these 50 million, 12 million are children.
What is Modern Slavery?
- According to the index, “modern slavery” refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, or abuses of power.
- Modern slavery is an umbrella term and includes a whole variety of abuses such as:
- forced labour,
- forced marriage,
- debt bondage,
- sexual exploitation,
- human trafficking,
- slavery-like practices,
- forced or servile marriage, and
- the sale and exploitation of children.
- The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (Target 8.7) of the United Nations also resolve to end modern slavery.
What is the Global Slavery Index?
- The index presents a global picture of modern slavery.
- Who prepares the index?
- Walk Free, a human rights organisation.
- How is it prepared?
- It is based on data provided by the Global Estimates of Modern Slavery, which, in turn, is produced by International Labour Organization (ILO), Walk Free, and International Organization for Migration (IOM).
- This is the fifth edition of the Global Slavery Index and is based on the 2022 estimates.
- The initial estimates are regional and to arrive at country-wise estimates, the index uses several representative surveys.
- There are three sets of key findings.
- The first looks at the prevalence of modern slavery.
- The prevalence refers to the incidence of modern slavery per 1000 population.
- On this count, the following 10 countries are the worst offenders:
- North Korea
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
- Countries with the lowest prevalence:
- Countries hosting the maximum number of people living in modern slavery:
- North Korea
- United States
Criticism of the index:
- No universal definition:
- A universal, reliable calculation of modern slavery isn’t possible because modern slavery has no internationally agreed definition (unlike trafficking in persons which does).
- Modern slavery’ is a made-up concept with no international legal definition and, in fact, the definition used in this Index has changed from year to year.
- Determining factors are same as determining development status of a country:
- The way the authors estimate the number of people experiencing modern slavery is partially based on a country’s “risk score”.
- But the factors that determine a country’s “risk” are many of the same factors that are used to determine whether a country is “developed” or “developing.”
- It’s therefore unsurprising that the Index concludes that ‘Europe is the region least vulnerable to modern slavery’ and ‘Africa is the region most vulnerable to modern slavery’.
- Some of the statistics presented in the Index actually contradict qualitative analysis contained within the body of the report.
- For example, the index prominently displays the UK as having the strongest government response to modern slavery.
- Yet the United Kingdom’s overall response [to slavery] has declined since 2018.
- Ranking countries in this way is stigmatising poorer countries and absolving richer countries of their responsibility for issues like trafficking in persons.
- However, while there may be several issues with an index of modern slavery the fact remains that workers in countries such as India do face considerable odds.
- The reverse migration witnessed during the first Covid lockdown brought this out in discomforting detail.
- Similarly, poor status of women, especially on the front of economic freedoms, is reflected in metrics such as one of the lowest female labour-force participation rates.
- In the post pandemic times and in the year of our presidency of G20, we could do something that will really address the precarity of millions of workers in our country.
Topic 5: Will a hike in MSP help farmers?
Context: The Centre announced the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for this year’s summer (kharif) season crops, hiking prices between 5-10% from last season
How does the MSP work?
- The MSP, which is a part of the government’s agricultural price policy, is the price at which the government offers to procure farmers’ produce during the season.
- It works as a tool to stabilise production and to control consumer prices.
- Yet farmers across the country have been facing problems of selling their produce at the MSP.
- Delays in establishing procurement centres,
- exploitation at the hands of commission agents, who most of the time buy the produce from farmers below the MSP, and
- a lack of awareness about the MSP among a large section of farmers.
- Against this background, farmers have been demanding a ‘legal status’ to the MSP.
- The MSP has little meaning unless farmers’ produce is procured/purchased at the assured price.
Concerns even after the hike:
- Very few crops procured in the past:
- The past track record shows that only three to four crops (mainly wheat, paddy and cotton and at times some pulses), were being procured at MSP while the remaining crops were being procured at much below the MSP.
- This is mainly because the farmers are left at the mercy of market forces and the private players.
- Non-implementation of MSP and problem of crop diversification:
- Non-implementation of MSP and below-MSP-procurement of a large number of crops, inter alia, has been one of the major hurdles in ‘crop diversification’ which is so vital for Indian agriculture and in saving the environment.
- Ineffective implementation of MSP and ‘non-procurement’ of all the crops at the MSP is also one of the main concerns of farmers.
- Such a scenario builds a strong rationale for giving ‘legal status’ to MSP as it is the floor or reference price.
- This does not imply that the government should procure all those crops but would certainly bind the private players to procure those crops at least at the MSP.
- While facilitating crop-diversification it would raise farmers’ income which is being propagated by the government.
Foodgrain stock and its significance
- As per third advance estimates for 2022-23, total foodgrain production in the country is estimated at a record 330.5 million tonnes which is higher by 14.9 million tonnes compared to 2021-22.
- This is the highest increase in the last five years, according to government data.
- The total stocks of rice and wheat held by Food Corporation of India (FCI) and State agencies as on May 1, 2023, was 555.34 lakh tonnes comprising 265.06 lakh tonnes of rice and 290.28 lakh tonnes of wheat.
- The delay in monsoon would impact cropping in non-irrigated regions of the country.
- But the country’s foodgrains stocks are at a comfortable level, there’s nothing to worry as of now.
- The MSP attempts to strike a balance between the interest of growers and consumers.
- The government’s price support policy attempts to provide a fair return to farmers while keeping in view the interest of consumers in a way that prices of food and other agricultural commodities are kept at a reasonable level.
- Farming over the years, for the majority, especially small and marginal farmers, has not turned out to be remunerative.
- A rise in their income could be the long-term answer to farmers’ financial distress.
- To ensure this rise in income, the government should focus on setting up an effective system to provide assured purchase and returns to farmers for all major crops at the MSP, as is done in the case of wheat and rice or extend subsidies on input costs.
Topic 6: Betelgeuse
Context: By examining Betelgeuse’s pulsation, researchers from Japan and Switzerland recently reported that the star is in its late carbon-burning stage.
- Betelgeuse is a red supergiant star and one of the largest visible to the naked eye.
- The bright red star Betelgeuse, called ‘Thiruvathirai’ or ‘Ardra’ in Indian astronomy, is easily spotted in the constellation Orion.
- In 1920, Betelgeuse became the first extrasolar star whose photosphere’s angular size was measured.
- Starting in October 2019, Betelgeuse began to dim noticeably but then returned to a more normal brightness range in April 2023.
- Infrared suggest that the dimming was due to a change in extinction around the star rather than a more fundamental change.
- A study using the Hubble Space Telescope suggests that occluding dust was created by a surface mass ejection.
- What is carbon burning stage?
- Carbon burning is the stage at which a star fuses carbon inside its core, making heavier elements such as neon and magnesium.
- Carbon burning eventually occurs in all stars that start out with more than about eight solar masses.
- By examining its pulsation (the periodic contraction and expansion of the star) researchers from Japan and Switzerland recently reported that the star is in its late carbon-burning stage.
- In massive stars like Betelgeuse, the carbon-burning stage lasts only up to a few hundreds of years, after which the star ‘dies’ and collapses into a supernova within a few months.
Topic 7: CoWIN portal
Context: After an alleged data leak of COVID vaccination beneficiaries, the Union Health Ministry said that the CoWIN portal was completely safe with adequate safeguards for data privacy. Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) set to investigate the issue and submit a report.
- CoWIN (Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network) is a web portal for COVID-19 vaccination registration.
- It is owned and operated by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
- It displays booking slots of COVID-19 vaccine available in the nearby areas and can be booked on the website.
- The site also provides vaccination certificates to the beneficiaries.
- It is a cloud-based IT solution for planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of Covid-19 vaccination in India.
|What is CERT-In?‘Indian Computer Emergency Response Team’ (CERT-In) is the national agency for cyber security incident response and proactive measures for the prevention of cyber incidents in the Country.CERT-In has been appointed by Central Government in under The Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act, 2000).What is Cyber Security Incident?It means any real or suspected adverse event in relation to cyber security that violates an explicitly or implicitly applicable security policy resulting in unauthorised access, denial of service or disruption, unauthorised use of a computer resource for processing or storage of information or changes in data, information without authorisation.Functions of CERT-In?Collection, analysis and dissemination of information on cyber incidents.Forecast and alerts of cyber security incidents.Emergency measures for handling cyber security incidents.Coordination of cyber incident response activities.Issue guidelines, advisories, vulnerability notes and whitepapers relating to information security practices, procedures, prevention, response and reporting of cyber incidents.Such other functions relating to cyber security as may be prescribed.|
Topic 8: The Svalbard mission
Context: In 1997, a Rohini RH-300 Mk-II sounding rocket rose to the skies from Svalbard, Norway which was shipped by India.
- The solid propellant-powered rocket was shipped from India by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
- The RH-300 Mk-II was given a new name by the NSC (Norwegian Space Centre): Isbjorn-1, which translates literally as ‘Polar Bear-I.’
- ISRO had shipped the RH-300 Mk-II to Norway after qualifying it for arctic weather conditions.
- Weather Challenges:
- The Rohini rockets had till then flown only in the tropical hot and humid conditions in India.
- The Svalbard archipelago, on the other hand, sits in the Arctic Ocean and temperatures were on the extremely low side.
- Designed to launch a 70 kg payload to an altitude of 120 km, the RH-300 would carry a Langmuir Probe on-board, to undertake Polar Ionospheric studies.
- In 1997, the Isbjorn-1 took to the skies, reaching, however, an altitude of only 71 km.
- Its range, too, fell short of the designed 129 km, by 35 km.