Current Affairs Oct 24

Right to travel abroad


  • The Supreme Court has held that the right to travel abroad is an inseverable part of the fundamental right to dignity and personal liberty.
  • This right cannot be merely “illusory”.
  • A recent judgment by a Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud decided the “interesting” question whether a court can make the ban on travelling abroad a condition for granting bail.
  • The competent court is empowered to exercise its discretion to impose “any condition” for the grant of bail under Sections 437 (3) and 439 (1) (a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • However, this discretion of the court has to be “guided by the need to facilitate the administration of justice, secure the presence of the accused and ensure that the liberty of the accused is not misused to impede the investigation, overawe the witnesses or obstruct the course of justice.”
  • The nature of the risk has to be carefully weighed by the courts individually in each case for permission to travel abroad while out on bail.
  • The conditions for the grant of permission have to balance both the public interest in the enforcement of criminal justice with the rights of the accused.




FATF keeps Pakistan on grey list


  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) decided to keep Pakistan on the “greylist” till the next review of its compliance to the recommendations in February next year.
  • Pakistan failed to deliver on action against organisations linked to terror groups banned by the UN Security Council, and delays in prosecution of banned individuals and entities like Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed and LeT operations chief Zaki Ur Rahman Lakhvi as well as Jaish-e- Mohammad chief Masood Azhar.
  • Pakistan has made progress across all action plan items and has now largely addressed 21 of 27 action items.
  • As all action plan deadlines have expired, the FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by February 2021.
  • Turkey proposed that the members should consider Pakistan’s good work and instead of waiting for completion of the remaining six of the 27 parameters, an FATF on-site team should visit Pakistan to finalise its assessment.
  • On-site teams are permitted only after jurisdictions complete their Action Plans. Normally such a visit is a signal for exit from the grey or black list.


  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body decision-making body.
  • It was established in 1989 during the G7 Summit in Paris to develop policies against money laundering.
  • It is a “policy-making body” which works to generate the political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in money laundering.
  • It has also started dealing with virtual currencies.
  • The FATF Secretariat is located in Paris.


What is the objective of FATF?

  • FATF sets standards and promotes effective implementation of:
  1. legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering.
  2. The FATF works to identify national-level vulnerabilities with the aim of protecting the international financial system from misuse.

 How many members are there in FATF?

  • As of 2019, FATF consists of thirty-seven member jurisdictions.

 Is India a member of the Financial Action Task Force?

  • India became an Observer at FATF in 2006. Since then, it had been working towards full-fledged membership.
  • On June 25, 2010 India was taken in as the 34th country member of FATF.

FATF on terror financing

  • FATF’s role in combating terror financing became prominent after the 9/11 terror attacks in the US.
  • In 2001 its mandate expanded to include terrorism financing.
  • Financing of terrorism involves providing money or financial support to terrorists.
  • As of 2019, FATF has blacklisted North Korea and Iran over terror financing.
  • Twelve countries are in the grey list, namely: Bahamas, Botswana, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Pakistan, Panama, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Yemen.

 What as FATF ‘grey list’ and ‘blacklist’?

 FATF has 2 types of lists:

  1. Black List: Countries knowns as Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs) are put in the blacklist. These countries support terror funding and money laundering activities. The FATF revises the blacklist regularly, adding or deleting entries.
  2. Grey List: Countries that are considered safe haven for supporting terror funding and money laundering are put in the FATF grey list. This inclusion serves as a warning to the country that it may enter the blacklist.



PM Oli Hints At Softer Stand With Dasara Greetings


  • After months of simmering dispute with India over the Kalapani issue, Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli indicated a softer line on Friday when he used an old map of Nepal to greet everyone on the festival of Vijaya Dashami.
  • The old map does not show the region of Kalapani-Lipulekh-Limpiyadhura, which is part of India’s Pithoragarh district.
  • The triangular piece of land is, however, shown as part of Nepalese sovereign territory in the new map, which was unveiled on May 20, and made part of the insignia of the Nepalese state by an amendment on June 13.
  • Since the unveiling of the new map and the amendment in Parliament that gave it a legal status, Nepal has not gone back on its demands on the Kalapani-Lipulekh-Limpiyadhura.



India Energy Forum


  • Prime Minister will interact with CEOs of leading Global Oil & Gas Companies in the annual event organized by NITI Aayog and Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas on 26 October 2020.
  • India is an important player in the global Oil and gas sector being the 3rd largest consumer of crude oil and the 4th largest LNG importer.
  • Realizing the need for India to graduate from a passive consumer to an active and vocal stake-holder in the global Oil & Gas value chain, NITI Aayog initiated the first roundtable of global Oil & Gas CEOs with the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India in 2016.
  • The objective behind the meeting is to deliver a global platform to understand best-practices, discuss reforms, and inform strategies for accelerating investments into the Indian Oil and Gas value chain.
  • The annual interaction has gradually become one of the most important gatherings of not only intellectual debate but also of executive action.
  • Prior to this the Prime Minister will inaugurate the India Energy Forum by CERAWeek, now in its fourth year.
  • It is hosted by IHS Markit, a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions.
  • The event will convene an international group of speakers and a community of overa a thousand delegates from India and over 30 countries, including from regional energy companies, energy-related industries, institutions and governments.



IMD Commissions Flash Flood Guidance Services for South Asia


  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) launched the South Asian Flash Flood Guidance System (FFGS), which is aimed at helping disaster management teams and governments make timely evacuation plans ahead of the actual event of flooding.
  • India is leading a delegation of nations, including Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal, in sharing hydrological and meteorological data towards preparing flash flood forecasts.
  • India’s National Disaster Management Authority and the Central Water Commission have also partnered in this system.
  • Data from World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) suggest that across the world, about 5,000 people die annually due to flash floods.
  • Despite such high mortality, there is no robust forecasting or warning system for flash floods.
  • This has been developed by US-based Hydrologic Research Centre.
  • Forecasting flash floods is very difficult as an event can occur within three to six hours over a localised area and the water run-off quantity is very high. Flash floods can occur in cities and hilly regions.
  • Flash floods are sudden surges in water levels during or following an intense spell of rain, occuring in a short time duration over a localised area.
  • The flood situation worsens in the presence of choked drainage lines or encroachments obstructing the natural flow of water.
  • A dedicated FFGS centre will be established in New Delhi, where weather modelling and analysis of rainfall data observations from member countries will be done.



International Snow Leopard Day : 23rd October


  • The snow leopard is the indicator of the health and sustainability of the mountain ecosystem that provides water to up to 60 per cent of the world’s population (Central Asia and the Tibetan Plateau).
  • On October 23, 2013, political leaders from 12 countries came together for the first time to endorse the “Bishkek Declaration” on the conservation of snow leopards.
  • A comprehensive Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Programme (GSLEP) was also launched on this day
  • to achieve the ambitious goal of addressing high-mountain development issues using conservation of the snow leopard as a flagship.
  • It was to commemorate this historic date and a watershed moment for snow leopard conservation that October 23 was chosen to be recognised as the “International Snow Leopard Day”.
  • The snow leopard range countries have agreed to work together to identify and secure at least 23 snow leopard landscapes by the year 2020.
  • Snow leopard landscapes are defined as ecologically fragile zones that contain at least a 100 breeding snow leopards and sufficient prey.



Landscape Restoration For Conserving Snow Leopard Habitat


  • he government is committed to landscape restoration for snow leopard habitat conservation and is implementing participatory landscape-based management plans involving local stakeholders.
  • India has identified three large landscapes for restoration, Hemis-Spiti across Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh; Nanda Devi- Gangotri in Uttarakhand; and Khangchendzonga-Tawang across Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • India is also party to the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) Programme since 2013.
  • Centre has been conserving snow leopard and its habitat through the Project Snow Leopard (PSL), which was launched in 2009.
  • In India, the geographical range of snow leopards encompasses a large part of the western Himalayas including the states and UTs of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Protecting the snow leopard and its habitat ensures protection of the major Himalayan rivers and also ensures that the ecological balance is maintained in these fragile ecosystems.



India gets Chairmanship of ILO Governing body


  • After a gap of 35 years, India assumed the Chairmanship of Governing Body of International Labour Organisation (ILO), with Labour Secretary Apurva Chandra being elected to the post, for the period October 2020-June 2021.
  • The Chairperson of the Governing Body of ILO is a position of international repute.
  • The Governing Body (GB) is the apex executive body of the ILO, which decides policies, programmes, agenda, budget, and elects the Director-General.
  • At present, the ILO has 187 members. Chandra will be presiding over the upcoming the Governing Body’s meeting, to be held in November 2020.
  • It will also provide a platform to apprise participants of the transformational initiative taken by the government in removing the rigidities of the labour market, besides making intention clear about the universalisation of social security to all workers in the organised or unorganised sector.




 Indias Advanced Manufacturing Sector


  • IIT Kharagpur has developed novel Industry 4.0 technology for remotely controlled factory operations and real-time quality correction during industrial production, jointly with TCS to set a new trend in India’s advanced manufacturing sector.
  • The present innovation upgraded the industrial process of friction stir welding to a multi-sensory system of Industry 4.0.
  • It has not only set the course for remotely controlled operations in the Indian industrial sector but has also enabled real-time quality check and correction during the production process.
  • This will make possible for industrial houses to achieve standardized quality goals throughout the production process and reduce rejection hence lowering the cost of production.
  • This technology is connected with a vast experimental knowledge base to conform to a standard system and prediction of the weld joint strength.
  • Any defect identified during the monitoring procedure is corrected in real-time by sending modified parameters to the machine thus ensuring standardized quality of the process.



Mystery Behind Decline Of Star Formation Rate Uncovered


  • Galaxies are made up mostly of gas and stars.
  • Gas converts to stars with time.
  • Understanding this conversion requires measurement of the atomic hydrogen gas, the primary fuel for star formation in galaxies in early times.
  • Astronomers have long known that galaxies formed stars at a higher rate when the universe was young than they do today.
  • But the cause of this decline is unknown, mostly because there was no information about the amount of atomic hydrogen gas at that time.
  • A team of astronomers from the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA-TIFR), Pune, and the Raman Research Institute (RRI), Bangalore has used the upgraded Giant Metre wave Radio Telescope (GMRT), operated by NCRA-TIFR, to measure the atomic hydrogen content of galaxies seen as they were 8 billion years ago.
  • Given the intense star formation in these early galaxies, their atomic gas would be consumed by star formation in just one or two billion years.
  • And, if the galaxies could not acquire more gas, their star formation activity would decline, and finally cease.
  • The observed decline in star formation activity can thus be explained by the exhaustion of the atomic hydrogen.
  • The measurement of the atomic hydrogen mass of distant galaxies was done by using the upgraded GMRT to search for a spectral line in atomic hydrogen.
  • Due to the upgrade of the GMRT in 2017, the new wideband receivers and electronics allowed to use 10 times more galaxies in the stacking analysis, giving sufficient sensitivity to detect the weak average 21 cm signal. 

Technical explanation of GMRT upgradation

  • Unlike stars, which emit light strongly at optical wavelengths, the atomic hydrogen signal lies in the radio wavelengths, at a wavelength of 21 cm, and can only be detected with radio telescopes.
  • Unfortunately, this 21 cm signal is very weak and difficult to detect from distant individual galaxies even with powerful telescopes like the upgraded GMRT.
  • To overcome this limitation, the team used a technique called “stacking” to combine the 21 cm signals of nearly 8,000 galaxies that had earlier been identified with optical telescopes.
  • This method measures the average gas content of these galaxies.


Sustainable Processing of Municipal Solid Waste


  • The volume of waste is projected to rise from the present 62 million tonnes to about 150 million tonnes by 2030.
  • Indiscriminate dumping of garbage at the current rate without appropriate scientific treatment, would impose huge requirement of landfill area per year.
  • This necessitates the importance of scientific solid waste management in today’s context.
  • Solid Waste treatment and disposal utilizing plasma arc gasification process is an option for eco-friendly solid waste management in which large volume reduction of waste up to 95% is possible.
  • The plasma gasification process uses electricity to generate high temperature plasma arc (above 3000°C) inside the plasma reactor which converts the waste into syngas.
  • The produced syngas when passed through a series of gas purification system comprising of catalytic converter, redox reactor, cyclone separator, scrubber and condenser is ready for use in gas engines for generation of electricity.
  • The residual ash can be mixed with cement for preparation of recycled bricks for usage in construction. Thus, Science helps in the creation of ‘Wealth from Waste’.
  • However, this technology is not economically viable as energy requirements for waste treatment using this technology is very high (~ 1.5 kWh/kg of waste processed for small plants (< 100 MT capacity) and ~ 1.2 kWh/kg of waste processed for plants with greater than 100 MT capacity).
  • Studies suggest that the Municipal Solid Wastes generated in India mostly consists of a large fraction (> 50%) of organic wastes. Unscientific disposal of organic waste produces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other air pollutants.
  • The ineffective processing of MSW also is the root cause of many diseases as the dumped landfills transform into Contamination Hubs for Pathogens, Bacteria and Viruses. 

New Technology

  • The CSIR-CMERI developed Municipal Solid Waste Processing Facility has not only helped achieving decentralized decimation of solid wastes, but has also helped create value-added end-products from abundantly available redundant stuffs such as dry leaves, dry grass etc.
  • The MSW Processing Facility is developed for disposal of solid waste in a scientific way following the Solid Waste Management Rules (SWM) 2016 prescribed by Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Govt. of India.
  • The primary focus of CSIR-CMERI is to unburden the common households from the segregation responsibilities through advanced segregation techniques.
  • The mechanized segregation system segregates solid waste into metallic waste (metal body, metal container etc.), biodegradable waste (foods, vegetables, fruits, grass etc.), non-biodegradable (plastics, packaging material, pouches, bottles etc.) & inert (glass, stones etc.) wastes.
  • The bio-degradable component of the waste is decomposed in an anaerobic environment popularly known as bio-gasification.
  • In this process biogas is liberated through conversion of organic matter.
  • The biogas can be used as fuel for cooking purpose.
  • The gas can also be utilized in gas engine for generation of electricity.
  • The residual slurry from biogas plant is converted to compost in a natural process known as vermi-composting by introducing earthworms. The vermi-compost is utilized in organic farming.

Biomass Waste Disposal

  • Biomass waste such as dry leaves, dead branches, dry grass etc. are disposed of by first shredding it to suitable size followed by mixing with the slurry of the biogas digester.
  • This mixture is feedstock for briquette, which is utilized as fuel for cooking.
  • These briquettes are also being utilized in gasifier for production of syngas which can be utilized in gas engine for generation of electricity.
  • The ash produced from burning of briquette is mixed with cement and water in an appropriate proportion for production of bricks which is used for construction work.

Polymer Waste Disposal

  • The polymer waste consisting of plastics, sanitary waste etc. is being disposed of through two main processes i.e. pyrolysis and plasma gasification.
  • In the pyrolysis process, the polymer waste is heated to a temperature of 400 – 600°C in an anaerobic environment in presence of suitable catalyst.
  • The volatile matter from the polymer waste comes out as a result of heating which on condensation gives pyrolysis oil.
  • The non-condensed syngas and crude pyrolysis oil after purification are reused for heating purposes and it helps in obtaining self-sustainability.
  • The solid residue known as char is mixed with the biogas slurry for production of briquette.

Sanitary Waste Disposal

  • The sanitary items including masks, sanitary napkins, diapers etc. are disposed-off utilizing high temperature plasma.
  • The MSW facility is equipped with special disinfection capabilities to help break the COVID Chain through UV-C Lights and Hot-Air Convection methods.
  • The Decentralized Solid Waste Management Plant developed by CSIR-CMERI has all the potentials to scientifically manage the Solid Waste including the COVID and other viruses present in the wastes.
  • The integrated MSW pilot plant is also self-sufficient in terms of energy requirement through the installation of roof-mounted solar panels, which can also feed the surplus energy supply onto a mini-grid.
  • The technology of decentralized (0.5 to 5.0 ton/day) MSW and its sustainable (negligible transport to reduce the burden of imported diesel and created CO2 pollution) processing opens-up
  • the opportunities to realise the dream of generating 100 GW Solar Power and a city with a “Zero-Waste and Zero-Landfill Ecology”, and
  • may become a “Source of Job Creation” through both process-engagement and manufacturing, which can help support the MSEs, Start-Ups and numerous Small Entrepreneurs across the Nation.



How Cells talk To Each Other


  • SCIENTISTS FROM Agharkar Research Institute at Pune, in collaboration with University of Hyderabad, have for the first time discovered two important molecules from the hydra.
  • The study provides compelling evidence that humans have evolved from simpler common ancestors through biological evolution as proposed by Charles Darwin in 1859.
  • It is useful to the scientific community to understand tissue and organ regeneration.
  • Hydra is a freshwater organism with a simple body and a spectacular ability to regenerate. If cut into pieces, almost every piece of the hydra can regenerate into a new one.
  • Scientists have been interested in finding the secrets of regeneration in the hydra.
  • Gremlin and noggin, the molecules discovered in this study, play crucial roles in how cells “talk to each other”.
  • By using a combination of conventional and modern techniques, this study shows that noggin and gremlin play a role in tentacle formation and budding of the hydra.
  • These molecules are also present in humans but play different roles.
  • This study has important implications for evolution of animal body plans. Evolution of body axes were partly responsible for the evolution of complex body plans.
  • Humans, for example, have three body axes — dorsal-ventral (back-front), anterior-posterior (head-toe) and left-right — and have bilateral symmetry (two eyes, two hands, two legs, etc).
  • The axes develop quite early as development of organs and systems at proper locations in the body depends on them.
  • For example, the brain cannot develop in the head region unless anterior-posterior is decided.
  • Unlike humans, hydra has an oral-aboral axis and radial symmetry (like that of a starfish).
  • In spite of these basic differences in the body plan, proteins that decide axes in hydra as well as in more complex animals, including humans, are often similar.



Asteroid samples leaking from jammed NASA spacecraft


  • A NASA spacecraft is stuffed with so much asteroid rubble from this week’s grab that it’s jammed open and precious particles are drifting away in space.
  • Scientists announced the news three days after the spacecraft named Osiris-Rex briefly touched asteroid Bennu, NASA’s first attempt at such a mission.
  • This is NASA’s first asteroid sample-return mission.
  • Bennu was chosen because its carbon-rich material is believed to hold the preserved building blocks of our solar system.
  • Getting pieces from this cosmic time capsule could help scientists better understand how the planets formed billions of years ago and how life originated on Earth.
  • The requirement for the $800 million-plus mission was to bring back a minimum 60 grams.
  • Osiris-Rex will keep drifting away from Bennu and will not orbit it again, as it waits for its scheduled departure.




Credit Suisse report


  • The average wealth of Indian adults rose marginally by $120 (about Rs 8,800) to $17,420 (Rs 12.77 lakh) at end-June 2020, as against $17,300 as of December 2019, showing some growth despite the Covid pandemic and lockdowns, Credit Suisse said in a report.
  • Over the first half of 2020, while average wealth rose by only 1.7 per cent, Credit Suisse estimated that the full rise for 2020 will be 5-6 per cent and 2021 will see growth of about 9 per cent.
  • The country had 9,07,000 adults in the top 1 per cent of global wealth holders, which is a 1.8 per cent share.
  • With 4,593 ultra-high-net-worth individuals in the country as of end-2019, India came in fourth after the US, China and Germany.
  • India had approximately 912,000 millionaires, accounting for 2 per cent of 51.9 million millionaires globally as at end 2019.
  • Household wealth in India is dominated by property and other real assets, although financial assets have grown over time, now forming 22 per cent of gross assets.
  • In 2019, non-financial assets rose by 12.5 per cent compared to 8.6 per cent growth in financial assets.
  • Annual growth of wealth per adult averaged 9.7 per cent over 2000-2019 using current exchange rates, and 12.1 per cent with constant exchange rates.

Credit Suisse Group

  • Credit Suisse Group AG is a global wealth manager, investment bank and financial services firm founded and based in Switzerland.
  • Headquartered in Zürich, it maintains offices in all major financial centers around the world and is one of the nine global “Bulge Bracket” banks providing services in investment banking, private banking, asset management, and shared services. Credit Suisse is known for its strict bank–client confidentiality and banking secrecy practices.
  • In 2020, it was recognized by The Banker as the overall Investment Bank of the Year, also excelling in equity derivatives and securitization.
  • Credit Suisse was founded in 1856 to fund the development of Switzerland’s rail system.
  • It issued loans that helped create Switzerland’s electrical grid and the European rail system.




Mandi district bags top position for implementation of PMGSY


  • Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi district has bagged top position among 30 districts of the country in successful implementation of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).
  • Himachal Pradesh has also secured second position at the national level for construction of roads under PMGSY.
  • Union Ministry of Rural Development has declared the list of top performing 30 districts in the country for implementing the PMGSY programme.
  • Mandi district has received top position for constructing roads under PMGSY of maximum length in 2020-21.
  • Six more districts of Himachal Pradesh have also secured position among top 30 best performing districts, which include Chamba, Shimla, Kangra, Una, Sirmour, Hamirpur and Solan.
  • The state has also improved its performance under PMGSY programme by constructing 1104 Kilometres roads this year from April till date.
  • PMGSY is a programme funded by the Union government to connect habitations having population of more than 250 in the state.





Covid-19 Antibodies Can Last Up To 7 Months Post-infection


  • A new study on antibodies published in the scientific journal European Journal of Immunology claimed that 90 per cent of subjects have detectable antibodies for 40 days upto 7 months post contracting Covid-19.
  • The study revealed that age is not a confounding factor in levels of antibodies produced, but the severity of the disease is.
  • In the study that in this early response phase, men produce more antibodies than women on average.
  • However, levels equilibrate during the resolution phase and are similar between the sexes in the months after SARS-CoV-2 infection.
  • The researchers examined the neutralising capacity of the antibodies produced by the patients and volunteers against the virus SARS-CoV-2.



No Interest On Interest For Any Loan Up To Rs 2 Crore


  • Bringing financial relief to millions of borrowers from financial system, the Department of Financial Services in the Finance Ministry has finally rolled out a much anticipated scheme that will provide interest compounding relief for the six month moratorium extended to mitigate COVID19 effect.
  • The relief will come to borrowers in the form of grant of ex-gratia payment of difference between compound interest and simple interest for six months (from March 1 to August 30).
  • This scheme has been rolled out after the Supreme Court directed the Centre to implement the relief as soon as possible and ahead of upcoming Diwali.
  • Borrowers will need to pay interest only on simple basis for their outstanding borrowing (only those with aggregate borrowing upto ₹ 2 crore) during the six months COVID-19 induced lockdown period.
  • The compounding effect will be made good by the government reimbursing the lending institutions.
  • The benefit under the scheme would be routed through lending institutions (all banks, urban cooperative banks, NBFCs, NBFC-MFIs, State Cooperative banks, District Central Cooperative Banks, Regional Rural Banks and Housing Finance Companies).
  • Borrowers in as many as eight segments —MSME loans, education loans, housing loans, consumer durable loans, credit card dues, automobile loans, personal loans to professionals, consumption loans — having sanctioned limits and outstanding amount not exceeding ₹ 2 crore (aggregate of all facilities with lending institutions) as on February 29 this year will be eligible for the scheme.




Urban Heat Island Phenomenon


  • The growing urban heat island phenomenon in urban areas is responsible for cloud bursts, which bring heavy rains in short spells, as seen in Hyderabad.
  • Such heavy bursts are difficult for urban infrastructure to handle.
  • This is a La Nina year, which is responsible for capture of more moisture and resultant precipitation as witnessed in Hyderabad recently.
  • The La Nina is responsible for high precipitation in short spells and high rates of moisture retention by clouds, high temperature and heat waves and long periods of drought.
  • This results in warming of the surfaces of seas and oceans and increasing evaporation.
  • Clouds can hold up to 7 per cent more moisture and without wind, this results in heavy downpour.
  • We will see more and more of this phenomenon in urban areas of the country.
  • With more moisture, it becomes too heavy to be blown away.
  • More intense tropical cyclones and deep depressions due to climate change will be common.
  • Deep depression is a circulation that carries intense rainfall and has moderate wind speeds less than a cyclone.
  • Warmer air due to global warming carries more moisture than colder air.
  • More moisture translates to more rainfall in cyclonic systems.
  • For each °C rise in temperature the clouds can hold 7 per cent more moisture.
  • India’s cities have lost 25 hectares of wetland for every one sq. km increase of built-up area since 1980.




Indias First Women-led Manure Cooperative Society


  • In a major push for green energy generation and manure management, India’s first women-led manure cooperative society in Anand district has been granted National Dairy Development Board (NDDB)’s trademark ‘Sudhan’ for making bio slurry-based organic fertilisers.
  • The newly-established Mujkuva Sakhi Khad (manure) Sahakari Mandli was granted NDDB’s trademark ‘Sudhan’.
  • A total of 150 women farmers of Mujkuva village were sanctioned biogas plants for the next phase of the initiative.
  • The Mujkuva Sakhi Khad Sahakari Mandli, which was earlier coordinating the management and sale of surplus bio-slurry from women members, will now also take up slurry processing and manufacturing of organic fertiliser.
  • NDDB’s Sudhan trademark will help the Mandli create an identity and ensuring quality of products.
  • The NDDB launched the next phase of the Manure Management Initiative at the Mujkuva Dairy Cooperative Society (DCS) campus in the Anand district.
  • Under NDDB’s Manure Management Initiative, biogas plants are installed by the dairy farmers in their backyard for producing gas to be used as cooking fuel.
  • The bio slurry produced from these biogas plants is primarily used by the farmers in their own field and surplus bio slurry gets sold to other farmers or converted in to organic fertilisers.
  • Significant savings on cooking fuel expenses have been achieved by the users.




Small Increases In Air Pollution Linked To Rise In Depression


  • Small increases in people’s exposure to air pollution are linked to significant rises in depression and anxiety.
  • The researchers found that an incremental increase in nitrogen dioxide, largely produced by diesel vehicles, heightened the risk of common mental disorders by 39%.
  • For tiny particle pollution, which comes from burning fuels, and brake and tyre dust, the risk rose by 18%.
  • The scientists also found that people living in places with higher levels of particle pollution were twice as likely to experience mental health problems as those in the least polluted areas.
  • The researchers acknowledged that other factors were important for mental health, such as genetics and childhood experiences, but added that, unlike these, air pollution could be prevented.
  • Air pollution is not the only factor that may have an impact on the presence of mental disorders, but it is a preventable one.
  • The World Bank has estimated that air pollution costs the global economy $5tn (£8tn) a year but this includes only the well-known damages caused to heart and lungs by dirty air.
  • A global review in 2019 concluded that air pollution may be damaging every organ in the human body.




Yellow Dust


  • North Korean authorities have urged citizens to remain indoors to avoid contact with a mysterious cloud of ‘yellow dust’ blowing in from China, which they have warned could bring Covid-19 with it.

What is this mysterious yellow dust?

  • Yellow dust is actually sand from deserts in China and Mongolia that high speed surface winds carry into both North and South Korea during specific periods every year.
  • The sand particles tend to mix with other toxic substances such as industrial pollutants, as a result of which the ‘yellow dust’ is known to cause a number of respiratory ailments.
  • Usually, when the dust reaches unhealthy levels in the atmosphere, authorities urge people to remain indoors and limit physical activity, particularly heavy exercise and sport.
  • Sometimes, when the concentration of yellow dust in the atmosphere crosses around 800 micrograms/cubic meter, schools are shut and outdoor events cancelled in the affected areas.

Can Covid-19 be transmitted through dust clouds?

  • While the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) has said the virus can remain airborne for hours, it has also maintained that it is highly unlikely for the Covid-19 infection to spread in this way, particularly outdoors.
  • People are most likely to contract the disease by standing in close proximity to an infected person who coughs, sneezes or talks, thus spreading the virus through droplets.




Project Lion: Proposal identifies 6 relocation sites


  • Six new sites apart from the Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary have been identified under Project Lion that was announced by Prime Minister August 15, 2020, on the lines of Project Tiger and Project Elephant.
  • The programme has been launched for the conservation of the Asiatic Lion, whose last remaining wild population is in Gujarat’s Asiatic Lion Landscape (ALL).
  • The Wildlife Institute of India, along with the Gujarat Forest Department, had created a Project Lion proposal and sent it to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on September 15.

The six new sites identified for possible lion relocation in the future include:

  • Madhav National Park, Madhya Pradesh
  • Sitamata Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajasthan
  • Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan
  • Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh
  • Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajasthan
  • Jessore-Balaram Ambaji WLS and adjoining landscape, Gujarat


Lion relocation has been talked about since 1995, when the Kuno Wildife Sanctuary was identified as an alternate site. The motive behind finding a relocation site for the species is because the population in Gir has low genetic diversity, making it vulnerable to threats of extension from epidemics.






Protect Vultures


  • Uttar Pradesh, Tripura, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu will get a vulture conservation and breeding centre each, according to the Action Plan for Vulture Conservation 2020-2025.
  • The plan has also suggested that new veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) be tested on vultures before their commercial release. NSAIDS often poisons cattle whose carcasses the birds pray on.

The new plan has laid out strategies and actions to stem the decline in vulture population, especially of the three Gyps species:

  • Oriental white-backed vulture (Gyps bengalensis)
  • Slender-billed vulture (Gyps tenuirostris)
  • Long-billed vulture (Gyps indicus)

This would be done through both ex-situ and in-situ conservation.

It has also mooted:

  • A system to automatically remove a drug from veterinary use if it is found to be toxic to vultures, with the help of the Drugs Controller General of India. 
  • Conservation breeding of red-Headed vultures and Egyptian vultures and the establishment at least one vulture-safe zone in each state for the conservation of the remnant populations in that state.
  • Establishment of four rescue centres, in Pinjore (Haryana), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Guwahati (Assam) and Hyderabad (Telangana). There are currently no dedicated rescue centres for treating vultures.
  • Coordinated nation-wide vulture counting, involving forest departments, the Bombay Natural History Society, research institutes, non-profits and members of the public. This would be for getting a more accurate estimate of the size of vulture populations in the country.
  • A database on emerging threats to vulture conservation, including collision and electrocution, unintentional poisoning, etc.