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    Current Affairs – 14th April 2021

    1.   EL NINO

    • News: Skymet Weather, a private weather forecast company, said on Tuesday that the monsoon was likely to be 103% of the long period average (LPA) this year. The LPA refers to the average all-India monsoon rainfall of 88 cm, which is a 50-year mean.
    • About El Nino:
      • El Niño is a climate pattern that describes the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. El Nino is the “warm phase” of a larger phenomenon called the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).
      • La Nina, the “cool phase” of ENSO, is a pattern that describes the unusual cooling of the region’s surface waters. El Niño and La Niña are considered the ocean part of ENSO, while the Southern Oscillation is its atmospheric changes.
      • El Niño has an impact on ocean temperatures, the speed and strength of ocean currents, the health of coastal fisheries, and local weather from Australia to South America and beyond.
      • El Niño events occur irregularly at two- to seven-year intervals. However, El Niño is not a regular cycle, or predictable in the sense that ocean tides are.
      • El Niño was recognized by fishers off the coast of Peru as the appearance of unusually warm water.
      • Led by the work of Sir Gilbert Walker in the 1930s, climatologists determined that El Niño occurs simultaneously with the Southern Oscillation.
      • The Southern Oscillation is a change in air pressure over the tropical Pacific Ocean.
      • When coastal waters become warmer in the eastern tropical Pacific (El Niño), the atmospheric pressure above the ocean decreases. Climatologists define these linked phenomena as El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Today, most scientists use the terms El Niño and ENSO interchangeably.
      • Scientists use the Oceanic Nino Index (ONI) to measure deviations from normal sea surface temperatures. El Niño events are indicated by sea surface temperature increases of more than 0.9° Fahrenheit for at least five successive three-month seasons.
      • The intensity of El Niño events varies from weak temperature increases (about 4–5° F) with only moderate local effects on weather and climate to very strong increases (14–18° F) associated with worldwide climatic changes.
      • El Niño also produces widespread and sometimes severe changes in the climate. Convection above warmer surface waters bring increased precipitation. Rainfall increases drastically in Ecuador and northern Peru, contributing to coastal flooding and erosion.
      • As El Niño brings rain to South America, it brings droughts to Indonesia and Australia. These droughts threaten the region’s water supplies, as reservoirs dry and rivers carry less water. Agriculture, which depends on water for irrigation, is threatened.
    • Normal Conditions for comparison:
      • Normally, strong trade winds blow westward across the tropical Pacific, the region of the Pacific Ocean located between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. These winds push warm surface water towards the western Pacific, where it borders Asia and Australia.
      • Due to the warm trade winds, the sea surface is normally about .5 meter (1.5 feet) higher and 45° F warmer in Indonesia than Ecuador. The westward movement of warmer waters causes cooler waters to rise up towards the surface on the coasts of Ecuador, Peru, and Chile. This process is known as upwelling.
      • Upwelling elevates cold, nutrient-rich water to the euphotic zone, the upper layer of the ocean. Nutrients in the cold water include nitrates and phosphates. Tiny organisms called phytoplankton use them for photosynthesis, the process that creates chemical energy from sunlight. Other organisms, such as clams, eat the plankton, while predators like fish or marine mammals prey on clams.
      • Upwelling provides food for a wide variety of marine life, including most major fisheries. Fishing is one of the primary industries of Peru, Ecuador, and Chile. Some of the fisheries include anchovy, sardine, mackerel, shrimp, tuna, and hake.
      • The upwelling process also influences global climate. The warm ocean temperature in the western Pacific contributes to increased rainfall around the islands of Indonesia and New Guinea. The air influenced by the cool eastern Pacific, along the coast of South America, remains relatively dry.

    2.   BIHU DANCE

    • News: A spike in COVID-19 cases and strict guidelines issued by the Assam government has dampened the festive spirit ahead of Rongali or Bohag Bihu beginning Wednesday.
    • About Bihu Dance:
      • The Bihu dance is an indigenous folk dance from the Indian state of Assam related to the Bihu festival and an important part of Assamese culture.
      • Performed in a group, the Bihu dancers are usually young men and women, and the dancing style is characterized by brisk steps, and rapid hand movements.
      • The traditional costume of dancers is colourful and centred round the red colour theme, signifying joy and vigour.
      • The dance begins with the performers, young men and women, slowly walking into the performance space.
      • The men then start playing musical instruments, like drums (particularly the double-headed dhol), horn-pipes and flutes, while the women place their hands above their hips with their palms facing outwards, forming an inverted triangular shape.

    3.   S 400 DEFENCE SYSTEM

    • News: The delivery schedule for the S-400 long-range air-defence systems was on track for the end of 2021 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a senior defence official said.
    • About S400 Missile System:
      • The S-400 Triumf is an anti-aircraft weapon system developed in the 1990s by Russia’s Almaz Central Design Bureau as an upgrade of the S-300 family.
      • It has been in service with the Russian Armed Forces since 2007.
      • China was the first foreign buyer to make a government-to-government deal with Russia in 2014, while Saudi Arabia, Turkey, India and Belarus have all acquired, or expressed interest, in the system since.
      • It has a panoramic radar with range of 600 kms and a multi functional radar of 400 km.
      • The missile range is 400 Km.
      • One system comprising up to eight divizion (battalions) can control up to 72 launchers, with a maximum of 384 missiles (including missiles with a range of less than 250 km [160 mi].


    • News: Announcing receipt of the EUA, Dr. Reddy’s on Tuesday said the development paves the way for import of the vaccine. Sputnik V has been developed by Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.
    • About Drugs Controller General of India:
      • Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) is the head of department of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization of the Government of India responsible for approval of licences of specified categories of drugs such as blood and blood products, IV fluids, vaccines, and sera in India. Drugs Controller General of India, comes under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
      • DCGI also sets standards for manufacturing, sales, import, and distribution of drugs in India.
      • DCGI lays down the standard and quality of manufacturing, selling, import and distribution of drugs in India:
      • Acting as appellate authority in case of any dispute regarding the quality of drugs.
      • Preparation and maintenance of national reference standard.
      • To bring about the uniformity in the enforcement of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
      • Training of Drug Analysts deputed by State Drug Control Laboratories and other Institutions
      • Analysis of Cosmetics received as survey samples from CDSCO (central drug standard control organisation)


    • News: The ambitious Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV 2020) came to a close on Tuesday morning with the release of two rhinos — an adult male and a female — in Assam’s Manas National Park transported from Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary about 185 km east.
    • Details:
      • Designed in 2005, the IRV2020 is believed to have achieved its target of attaining a population of 3,000 rhinos in Assam.
      • But the plan to spread the Rhinoceros unicornis across four protected areas beyond Kaziranga National Park, Orang National Park and Pobitora could not materialise.
      • The ears of the translocated rhinos have been notched according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission and Asian Rhino Specialist Group’s guidelines for identification and monitoring.
      • A special team has been tasked with monitoring the rhinos as per the translocation protocols for Assam.
      • Assam had at least five rhino-bearing areas till the 1980s.
      • Better conservation efforts helped maintain the population of the one-horned herbivore in Kaziranga, Orang and Pobitora, but encroachment and poaching wiped the animal out of Manas and Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary.
      • The translocated rhinos helped Manas National Park get back its World Heritage Site status in 2011.
    • About the Indian Rhino Vision 2020:
      • Indian Rhino Vision 2020 is a partnership among the Government of Assam, the International Rhino Foundation, and the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Bodoland Territorial Council, and the U.S. Fish & World Wildlife foundation that aims to attain a population of 3,000 wild greater one-horned rhinos in seven of Assam’s protected areas by the year 2020. Its main initiatives include:
      • Improving the protection and security of rhinos in all rhino areas in Assam.
      • Expanding the distribution of rhinos over seven protected areas to reduce the risks associated with having a whole population in one area.
      • Translocating rhinos from two source populations (Kaziranga and Pabitora) into five target protected areas (Manas, Laokhowa, Buracharpori-Kochmora, Dibrusaikhowa and Orang)


    • News: The Centre will go ahead with its plan to mandate hallmarking of gold jewellery from June 1. The plan had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Details:
      • About 40% of gold jewellery is sold with a hallmark.
      • As per the new rules, if jewellery or an artefact made of 14-, 18- or 22-carat gold is sold without the BIS hallmark, the jeweller could be penalised five times the cost of the object or imprisoned for up to one year.