Daily News Analysis – June 1, 2019


NORMAL MONSOON

Context: A week before the onset of the south-west monsoon, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted a “normal” rainy season, with the country as a whole set to receive 96% of long period average (LPA) rainfall.

 Essentials

  • The monsoon in India is called ‘normal’ if percentage departure of realised rainfall is within ± 10 % of the Long Period Average.
  • The long period average is calculated on the basis of mean rainfall in the four months (June – September) of the southwest monsoon from 1951 to 2000, and works out to an average of 89 cm for the country as a whole.

MONSOON

Formation:

  • A zone of low pressure builds up over northwest India as a result of excessive solar insolation.
  • With the advance of the monsoon this heat low gradually extends eastwards until it forms an elongated low-pressure zone running parallel to the Himalayan mountains in a west to east direction. It is called monsoon trough.
  • Its axis is roughly parallel to the Himalayan foothills.
  • This monsoon trough shows periodical movements to the north and south of its normal position.
  • When it moves north and lies close to the Himalayan foothills, there is a remarkable change in rainfall pattern over India.
  • The rains cease abruptly over the plains of northern India, but increase equally rapidly in intensity over the foothills of northeast India.
  • This is known as ‘break’ in monsoon rains in India.
  • On the other hand, when the axis of the monsoon trough moves south and tends to dip into the Bay of Bengal, conditions become favourable for the formation of a low or depression.
  • The westward passage of the depression is accompanied by heavy rain.
  • Consequently a southward position of the monsoon trough is usually an indication of a well-distributed rainfall over central India and the Indo-Gangetic plains.

Break in Monsoon and Easterly Jet Stream

  • During the active periods of monsoon, the axis of the Tropical Easterly Jet Stream (TEJ) is located near 5*N latitude and during break periods it is located around 15*N latitude.
  • The inter-annual variability of TEJ is mostly controlled by Walker and Hadley Circulation variations which indicated that ENSO has a strong control over the TEJ strength.
  • Intensity of TEJ is weak (strong) during El Nino (La Nina) events.
  • Besides, a strong TEJ is associated with excess Indian Summer monsoon rainfall and vice-versa.

Setting in of Northeast Monsoon

  • For Tamil Nadu Northeast Monsoon is the main rainy season accounting for about 48% of the annual rainfall.
  • The increase in rainfall activity over Andhra-Tamil Nadu coasts which takes place sometime around middle of October is generally considered as the “setting in of Northeast Monsoon“.

For declaring onset of Northeast Monsoon following criteria may be considered:

  • (1) Withdrawal of south west Monsoon upto 15º N.
  • (2) Onset of persistent surface easterlies over Tamil Nadu coast.
  • (3) Depth of easterlies upto 850 hpa over Tamil Nadu coast.
  • (4) Fairly widespread rainfall over the coastal Tamil Nadu and adjoining areas.
  • (5) Onset is not to be declared before 10th October even if the conditions described above exist.

Weakening of Indian Monsoon

  • Recently a study was conducted to study the effects of aerosols, GHGs and decrease in the forest cover on the strength of the Indian Monsoon.
  • Origin and development of the Indian Monsoon- Each summer the monsoon develops following rapid warming of the land surface (and atmosphere above) around northern India and the Tibetan Plateau. So anything that reduces the warming and the land-sea contrast could weaken the monsoon.
  • Green House Gases and aerosols- While increased emissions of carbon dioxide leads to warmingaerosols have a mirror effect on radiation from the sun, reflecting some of it back up to space and thus cause atmospheric cooling.
  • Besides aerosols are a far more important factor than GHGs.
  • Changes in forests and agricultural cover- Large-scale conversion of forests to crop lands results in a decline in evapo-transpiration, a process by which moisture is transferred from soil and plants to the atmosphere. So when forest cover decreases the monsoon weakens due to less moisture entering the atmosphere.

Aerosols

  • An aerosol is a mixture of fine solid particles or liquid droplets in air.
  • Aerosols can be natural or anthropogenic.
  • Examples of natural aerosols are fog, forest exudates and geyser steam.
  • Examples of artificial aerosols are haze, dust, particulate air pollutants and smoke.

GENERALIZED SYSTEM OF PREFERENCES

Context: U.S. President Donald Trump terminates preferential trade status for India under Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).

Essentials

Generalized System of Preferences

  • Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is a preferential tariff system extended by developed countries (donor countries) to developing countries (beneficiary countries).
  • It involves reduced Most Favoured Nation Tariffs or duty-free entry of eligible products exported by beneficiary countries to the markets of donor countries.
  • The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) was instituted in 1971 under the aegis of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
  • The objective of UNCTAD’s support on GSP and other preferential arrangements is to help developing countries – particularly LDCs – to increase utilization of GSP and other trade preferences and in turn promote productive capacity development and increased trade.
  • GSP is presently extended by 29 developed countries.
  • Only such products of a beneficiary country (like India) that fulfil the requirements of the rules of origin (a set of requirements laid down by the importing country) laid down by the importing country, are considered eligible for preferential tariff treatment on import into the markets of donor countries.
  • The rules of origin are aimed at reserving, as far as possible, the benefit of the preferential system to the country for which it is intended, and to prevent third countries’ goods from unduly exploiting the system

Why in News?

  • The  United States Trade Representative (USTR) had accused India of implementing “a wide array of trade barriers that create serious negative effects on U.S. commerce especially S. dairy products and medical devices.
  • India had demanded from U.S. that it should certify that U.S. dairy products be derived from animals which have never consumed any feeds containing internal organs, blood meal, or tissues of ruminant origin.
  • Defending its decision to control prices of the medical devices, India said that it was committed to providing its citizens with equitable and affordable access to essential medicines and medical devices.
  • India is the largest GSP beneficiary as far as U.S. is concerned.

Least developed countries (LDCs)

  • Least developed countries (LDCs) are low-income countries confronting severe structural impediments to sustainable development.
  • They are highly vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks and have low levels of human assets.
  • There are currently 47 countries on the list of LDCs which is reviewed every three years by the Committee for Development (CDP).
  • LDCs have exclusive access to certain international support measures in particular in the areas of development assistance and trade.

S-400 TRIUMF MISSILE SHIELD

Context: U.S. repeats threat of sanctions if India goes ahead with its purchase of the S-400 Triumf missile shield from Russia.

Essentials

  • The S-400 Triumf is Russia’s most advanced air-defense hardware.
  • It is capable of firing three types of missiles to create a layered defense.
  • It can bring down aircrafts and missiles at a range of up to 400km.
  • India is in talks with Russia to buy this system.
  • It also integrates a multi-function radar, autonomous detection and targeting systems, missile launchers, and command posts.
  • CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act) is an Act of U.S. which places sanctions on countries having significance interests in Russian, Iranian, and North Korean defence or intelligence sectors.

JAPAN UNVEILS POLICY TO CURB PLASTIC WASTE

Context: Japan announced a policy to reduce marine plastic waste, part of efforts to raise the issue at the G20 summit it will host next month.

Essentials

  • Japan is the second largest per capita producer of plastic waste in the world after the U.S., and while it has a comparatively high recycling rate, it lags behind on efforts to reduce single-use plastic.
  • The European Union in March passed legislation banning other single-use plastic including straws and cutlery from 2021.
  • Japan’s policy aims to recycle 100% of newly produced plastics by 2035 and promotes the use of biodegradable alternatives to oil-based plastic.
  • The package also includes a plan to support Southeast Asian countries with recycling technologies and other infrastructure.

E-CIGARETTES

Context: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has warned of a potential public health disaster if action was not taken to completely prohibit and dissuade the use of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) or e-cigarettes given that the nicotine delivered by these devices adversely affect almost all systems in a human body. Centre considering a ban on e-cigarettes.

Essentials

  • E-cigarettes aim to resemble cigarettes, but without burning tobacco.
  • E-cigarettes are considered tobacco products because most of them contain nicotine, which comes from tobacco.
  • The nicotine in e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes is addictive.
  • The Delhi government is also planning to ban e-cigarettes.
  • E-cigarettes are already banned in Karnataka and Maharashtra.
  • The evidence so far indicates that e-cigarettes are safer than combustible cigarettes.
  • Because they heat a liquid to generate a nicotine-containing aerosol, instead of burning tobacco, they do not produce toxic tars.
  • That doesn’t mean they are completely safe. At high temperatures, e-cigarettes produce carcinogens such as formaldehyde, although these are fewer in number compared to regular cigarettes.
  • They also increase the odds of lung disease and myocardial infarction, but to a lesser extent than normal cigarettes do.