Daily Current Affairs – IAS Prelims ( 17th – 18th April 2018 )

CHROME IAS ACADEMY

DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS

17 – 18th Apr’18

NEWS

 

MONSOON TO BE NORMAL, SAYS IMD

The country is likely to see “normal” monsoon rains, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its forecast.

India is likely to get 97% rainfall, defined as between 96% and 104% of the Long Period Average (LPA) of 89 cm it typically gets between June and September.

The IMD bases its optimism of a normal monsoon this year on the absence of an El Nino, a relative warming of the surface-temperatures in the Central Pacific, and associated with a weak monsoon.

The converse phenomenon, of a La Nina and cooling of these waters, generally brings good rains. Currently La Nina conditions prevail and weather models suggest a slight warming or so-called “neutral” conditions to prevail around August.

Historically a transition from La Nina to neutral conditions has generally meant normal monsoons.

Another worry lurks closer home. A positive temperature gradient in the West and Eastern Indian oceans, called a ‘positive Indian Ocean dipole’, is associated with neutering warm-water hostilities from the Pacific. Such a positive dipole is unlikely this year.

Relevance : Prelims

 

WORLD BANK FILLIP FOR NATURAL RESOURCES OF MEGHALAYA

The World Bank signed a $48 million loan agreement for revitalising natural resources in Meghalaya through a community-led landscape approach.

The project is expected to benefit 1,00,000 people in rural Meghalaya besides building the capacity of some 30,000 youth through access to technology.

The Meghalaya Community-led Landscapes Management Project is designed to support the State’s three tribal communities – Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia – in managing its forests and natural resources through customary laws.

Meghalaya’s woods are designated as ‘unclassified forests’ in the State records and for the most part do not receive technical or financial support from State institutions. Besides, there are no institutions or legal frameworks for water management in the State.

Water bodies, rivers, and springs are considered common property like forests and are managed by traditional tribal institutions. But some of them are being polluted due to unscientific coal and limestone mining.

The project will help manage these depleting resources by strengthening communities and traditional institutions. Restoration of degraded and highly degraded landscapes under the project will increase water for local communities and improve soil productivity.

The project will prioritise around 400 villages located in ‘very critical’ and ‘critical’ landscapes over a period of five years.

Relevance : Prelims, GS 2

 

IIT-MADRAS TO MAP GOLCONDA’S BAGH-E-NAYA QILA

In another instance of modern technology coming to the aid of medieval heritage, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will be using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to map the contours of the area around the Bagh-e-Naya Qila excavated garden in the Golconda Fort.

This medieval garden in Hyderabad is the only one of its kind still intact. The others — built during the Qutb Shahi rule (1518-1687) — have either been built over or have disappeared.

The Naya Qila garden inside Golconda Fort was built by rulers of the Deccan and is one of the few symmetrical gardens extant. In 2014, when the ASI excavated the area after diverting the water flow, it discovered water channels, settlement tanks, walkways, fountains, gravity pumps, and other garden relics.

Relevance : Prelims

 

FORTNIGHTLY MONSOON FORECASTS SOON

This year, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) is likely to issue fortnightly forecasts of the monsoon’s arrival in States, once it begins its onset over Kerala.

Typically, the IMD only forecasts the monsoon’s arrival over Kerala — around mid-May — and then gives a three or five-day heads-up as it journeys northwards.

This year, it will tweak one of its models to generate a 15-day lead time.

The IMD is an organisation under the MoES.

Relevance : Prelims

 

GLITCH DELAYS LAUNCH OF PLANET-HUNTER

An eleventh-hour technical glitch prompted SpaceX to postpone its planned launch of a new NASA space telescope designed to detect worlds beyond our solar system.

The two-year, TESS mission is designed to build on the work of its predecessor, the Kepler space telescope, which has discovered the bulk of some 3,700 exoplanets documented during the past 20 years and is running out of fuel.

Roughly the size of a refrigerator with solar-panel wings and equipped with four special cameras, TESS will take about 60 days to reach a highly elliptical, first-of-a-kind orbit looping it between the earth and the moon every two and a half weeks.

Like Kepler, TESS will use a detection method called transit photometry, which looks for periodic, repetitive dips in the visible light from stars caused by planets passing, or transiting, in front of them.

Relevance : Prelims

 

AFSPA REMOVED FROM MEGHALAYA AFTER 27 YEARS

With insurgency-related incidents in the northeast region down by 85% from the levels recorded at the peak of militancy two decades ago, the Centre has withdrawn the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) totally from Meghalaya as well as from eight out of 16 police stations in Arunachal Pradesh, with effect from March 31, 2018.

AFSPA, which gives special powers and immunity to the armed forces deployed in areas declared “disturbed” under the Act, had been in force in Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh for almost 27 years.

Areas of the two states bordering Assam were declared “disturbed” in 1991 to avoid a spillover effect of insurgency by Assam-based outfits like the United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa).

In 2015, the Tripura government had lifted AFSPA from the state after 18 years.

Until September 30, 2017, all areas falling within a 20-km belt in Meghalaya bordering Assam were notified as “disturbed” areas. Effective from October 1, 2017, this was reduced to a 10-km belt. However, on March 31, 2018, it was decided that given the improved situation, AFSPA need no longer be in force even in this 10-km stretch.

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act will now be in force in the whole of Assam and Nagaland, all of Manipur (except Imphal municipal area) and in three districts and eight police station areas of Arunachal Pradesh. Nagaland has been under AFSPA for almost six decades.

Other than the northeast, AFSPA is applicable in J&K.

With insurgency levels in Assam too at a record low, the state government is expected to decide soon on withdrawal of AFSPA from some districts.

While the review for Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland is still handled by the Centre, Assam and Manipur governments have been notifying ‘disturbed’ areas — a prerequisite for imposing the law — on their own since last year.

A decline in insurgency is visible across the northeast with. The year 2017 recording the lowest insurgency incidents and casualties since 1997.

Relevance : Prelims, GS 3

 

Insurgency in North East

 

IMPORTANT FACTS IN NEWS

 DARPAN

With a view to achieve total digitisation of postal operations in the country, under the IT Modernisation Plan, Department of Posts has launched DIGITAL ADVANCEMENT OF RURAL POST OFFICE FOR A NEW INDIA (DARPAN) Project, which aims to connect all 1.29 lakh Rural Branch Post Offices in the country, to enable them to do online Postal and Financial Transactions.

Relevance : Prelims

IMPORTANT TERMS IN NEWS EXPLAINED

 South Asian Climate Outlook Forum

South Asian nations, supported by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), have been conducting the South Asian Seasonal Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF) since 2010.

SASCOFs prepare consensus seasonal climate information on a regional scale that provide a consistent basis for preparing national level outlooks.

Such forums also serve to interface with user sectors to understand and enhance the use of climate information as orchestrated and supported by the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS).

Recognizing the fact that significant amount of rainfall, of crucial importance to agriculture, is also received in South Asia during the months from October to February; winter SASCOF sessions were initiated since 2015.

TESS

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is the next step in the search for planets outside of our solar system, including those that could support life.

The mission will find exoplanets that periodically block part of the light from their host stars, events called transits.

TESS will survey 200,000 of the brightest stars near the sun to search for transiting exoplanets.

The transit method of detecting exoplanets looks for dips in the visible light of stars, and requires that planets cross in front of stars along our line of sight to them. Repetitive, periodic dips can reveal a planet or planets orbiting a star.

Transit photometry, which looks at how much light an object puts out at any given time, can tell researchers a lot about a planet.

Based on how much of a dip in light a planet causes in its star, we can determine that planet’s size. Looking at how long it takes a planet to orbit its star, scientists are able to determine the shape of the planet’s orbit and how long it takes the planet to circle its sun.

Relevance : Prelims