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Current Affairs – 5 January 2021

2020 8th warmest year

IN NEWS:

  1. The Climate Research and Services (CRS) of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a Statement on Climate of India during 2020 and highlighted that 2020 was the eighth warmest year India recorded in the last 121 years.
  2. As per the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), 2020 was on the way to becoming one of the warmest years recorded in the last 15 years.

ABOUT:

  1. Temperature: Last year, the annual mean land surface air temperature average was 0.29 degrees Celsius above normal, for the period average considered between 1981 and 2010. However, it was much lower than 2016 (+0.71 degrees Celsius), which remains the warmest ever year the country has recorded since 1901.
    • The other warm years over India, all of them post 2005 have been — 2009, 2017, 2010 and 2015.
    • The monsoon (+0.43 degrees Celsius) and the post-monsoon (+0.53 degrees Celsius) seasons contributed towards this warming.
    • The global mean surface temperature (till October 2020) was 1.2 degrees Celsius above normal, making it the warmest ever decade (2011 – 2020) recorded, globally.
  1. Rainfall: Rainfall during the June to September 2020 over the country remained 9 per cent above normal, but several high-impact events like extremely heavy rain, floods, cold wave and thunderstorms led to significant loss of lives and properties.
  2. Tropical Storms in the Indian Seas: The Indian Ocean region — the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, together reported five cyclones — three of which were of either severe or above in intensity category. Five cyclones — Amphan, Nisarga, Gati, Nivar and Burevi — were reported in 2020. Super cyclone Amphan remained the strongest, which hit the West Bengal coast. Maharashtra, too, had braved cyclone Nisarga in early June 2020.
  3. High Impact Weather Events: The country also experienced other high impact weather events like, extremely heavy rainfall, floods, landslide, thunderstorm, lightning, cold waves, etc.Bihar & Uttar Pradesh were the most adversely affected states during the year due to thunderstorm, lightning & cold wave events.

 

40th Indian scientific expedition

IN NEWS:

  1. India launched the 40th scientific expedition to Antarctica. It will be flagged off from Goa on January 5, 2021.

ABOUT:

  1. This expedition consists of 43-member team embarking upon the Russian ice-class vessel MV Vasiliy Golovnin.
  2. It comes amidst the logistical challenges posed by COVID-19, and marks four decades of the country’s scientific endeavour to the southern continent.
  3. The chartered ice-class vessel MV Vasiliy Golovnin will make this journey and will reach Antarctica in 30 days. After leaving behind a team of 40 members, it would return to India in April 2021. On return, it will also bring back the winter team of the preceding trip.

BACKGROUND:

  1. The Indian Antarctic expeditions began in 1981, comprised of a team of 21 scientists and support staff led by Dr SZ Qasim.
  2. The Indian Antarctic programme has now credited to have built three permanent research base stations in Antarctica—named Dakshin Gangotri, Maitri, and Bharati. As of today, India has two operational research stations in Antarctica named Maitri and Bharati.
  3. The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa, manages the entire Indian Antarctic program.

 

Avian flu

IN NEWS:

  1. 1,800 migratory birds, most of them Bar-Headed Geese, were found dead due to avian influenza or bird flu in the Pong Dam.
    • The most common migratory species at the lake arrived from Central Asia, Russia, Mongolia and other regions in winters after crossing the Himalayan ranges.
  1. It has now become the fifth state to report suspected cases of bird flu after Haryana, Rajasthan, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.
  2. Bird flu virus was also detected in around 50 crows whose carcasses were found in Indore in Madhya Pradesh.

PONG DAM:

  1. A reservoir has been constructed on the river Beas in the wet land of Shivalik hills of Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, which has been named as Maharana Pratap Sagar.
  2. It is also known as Pong reservoir or Pong Dam.
  3. This dam was built in 1975 named in honor of Maharana Pratap, this reservoir or lake is a famous wildlife sanctuary and one of the 25 international wetland sites declared by Ramsar Sammel in India.

BIRD FLU: 

  1. It is a highly infectious and severe respiratory disease in birds caused by the H5N1 influenza virus, which can occasionally infect humans as well.
  2. According to the World Health Organisation, human-to-human transmission is unusual.
  3. It affects several species of food-producing birds (chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, etc.), as well as pet birds and wild birds.

NIHSAD

  1. The National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) of Indian Council of Agricultural Research is a premier institute of India for research on exotic and emerging pathogens of animals.
  2. It is nodal body for detecting this disease.

 

Renaming of Aurangabad

IN NEWS:

  1. Shiv Sena’s demand to rename Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar (Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who killed Sambhaji Raje is buried near Aurangabad, hence the city should be called Sambhajinagar) has caused unease in the Government in Maharashtra.

RENAMING ISSUES:

  1. English poet and playwright William Shakespeare famously quoted that “what is in the name?” It seems to hold much relevance for modern India. Names in India are never just names as there seems to be a lot in the name.
  2. The naming and renaming of places is not new in India. For example, the British renamed Kochi to Cochin, derived the name Calcutta from Kolkata and affirmed their power through urban planning and architecture.
  3. The current renaming of historical cities named after Muslim personalities or of Urdu dialect is mostly based on the cultural and ethnoreligious grounds rather than linguistic one – even though the Urdu language is one of the official languages. In, renaming the city, the government has to spend crores of rupees.
  4. This campaign to rename city is being seen by many as an attempt to rewrite history and undermine the historical personalities of a particular community.
  5. Sometimes renaming is not only about religion, but this comes as an outcome of unspoken custom and culture of the particular place. Political parties also use the name-game for creating vote banks.

PROCEDURE FOR RENAMING A CITY

  1. Raise a request in form of a resolution by any Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) which proposes the renaming of any particular city or street.
  2. Then there is a deliberation over the request of the renaming of the city or the street.
  3. Then comes, voting of the validity of the resolution. The majority here involves a simple majority.
  4. The State Legislation on the basis of the majority view shall make the necessary changes in the name of the state or city.

 

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Rules, 2017

IN NEWS:

  1. The Supreme Court asked the Centre to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules, 2017 and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017.

ABOUT:

  1. These rules of 2017 allow the confiscation of the animals of traders and transporters during the pendency of trials in cases under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. In other words, these rules allow confiscation of animals before the accused is convicted under the legislation.
  2. This show that the contrary nature of the Rules, 2017 as compared to the provisions of the Act, 1960 as provisions of the very law allow such confiscation only in case of conviction.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  1. Animals are a source of livelihood. People live on the basis of their animals.
  2. The 2017 rules allow a magistrate to forfeit the cattle of an owner facing trial under the Act and send them to infirmaries, gaushalas etc.
  3. Section 29 of the Act says that a person tried for an offence under the Act can be deprived of the ownership of the animal only upon conviction.

ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR:

  1. The Rules 2017 were being used to forcibly deprive even legitimate owners of cattle and that it had emboldened “anti-social elements” to take matters into their own hands and loot cattle traders.
  2. Such incidents act as “triggers for communal polarisation of society”.

 

Weight of school bags

IN NEWS:

  1. The Directorate of Education has issued a circular asking schools to follow the new ‘School Bag Policy, 2020’ released by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).

ABOUT CIRCULAR:

  1. Schoolteachers should inform the students in advance about the books and notebooks to be brought to school on a particular day and frequently check their bags to ensure that they are not carrying unnecessary material.
  2. Heavy school bags are a serious threat to the health and well-being of students. The heavy school bag has severe/adverse physical effects on growing children which can cause damage to their vertebral column and knees.
  3. The weight of the school bags, as per the policy, should be:
    • 6 to 2.2 kg for students of Classes I and II
    • 7 to 2.5 kg for Classes III, IV and V
    • 2 to 3 kg for Classes VI and VII
    • 5 to 4 kg for Class VIII
    • 5 to 4.5 kg for Classes IX and X
    • 5 to 5 kg for Classes XI and XII
  1. Teachers should take the responsibility of checking the weight of school bags of the students every three months on a day selected for the whole class and any information about heavy bags should be communicated to the parents.
  2. DRINKING WATER FACILITY: It is the duty and the responsibility of the school management to provide quality potable water in sufficient quantity to all the students in the school so that they do not need to carry water bottles from their homes.

 

Vietnam buys Indian rice

IN NEWS:

  1. Vietnam purchased Indian Rice for first time in decades. In December 2020, China started buying Indian rice for the first time in at least three decades.

ABOUT:

  1. Vietnam, the world’s third biggest exporter of rice, has started buying the grain from rival India for the first time in decades due to limited domestic supplies and high prices.
  2. The purchases highlight tightening supplies in Asia, which could lift rice prices in 2021 and even force traditional buyers of rice from Thailand and Vietnam to switch to India – the world’s biggest exporter of the grain.
  3. The shrinking supplies will heighten concerns about food insecurity with sub-Saharan Africa among the areas where import demand has been increasing due partly to population growth.
  4. According to the World Bank, chronic and acute hunger is on the rise, impacting vulnerable households in almost every country, with the COVID-19 pandemic reducing incomes and disrupting supply chains.
  5. Global pandemic has also prompted Vietnam and other countries to stockpile rice to ensure food availability amid coronavirus-driven supply chain disruptions worldwide.
  6. Robust demand from Asian and African countries has also been lifting Indian prices but they are still very competitive due to ample stocks.
  7. In December 2020, the world’s biggest rice importer China started buying Indian rice for the first time in at least three decades due to tightening supplies from Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam and an offer of sharply discounted prices. In 2020 India exported a record 14 million tonnes of rice.
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