IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


16th April, 2020


1. India to receive normal monsoon, forecasts IMD


—India will likely have a normal monsoon, with a chance of ‘above normal’ rain in August and September-the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

—The IMD issues a two-stage forecast: the first in April, followed by a more detailed one in the last week of May, which will also illustrate how the monsoon will spread over the country.

—The IMD’s confidence stems largely from global weather models pointing to negligible chances of El Nino.



-The seasonal reversal in the wind direction during a year is called monsoon.

-Indian climate is a monsoon type of climate. Monsoon climate is characterised by weather conditions that change from season to season. This type is mostly experienced in interior parts of the country rather than coastal areas.

-During summer season as land gets heated up, the air rises and low pressure area is created on the land and on the other hand high pressure area is created in Indian Ocean. Air moves from high pressure areas to lower pressure areas. The low pressure land system attracts south east trade winds but after crossing equator, due to Coriolis force, wind turn right towards the low-pressure areas over the Indian subcontinent. These winds start blowing in a southwesterly direction, and enter the Indian peninsula as the southwest monsoon. As it reaches India monsoons are divided into two branches.

-As India is surrounded by Bay of Bengal on the east and Arabian Sea on the west, monsoons in India arrive as Bay of Bengal branch and Arabian Sea branch.

-Bay of Bengal branch of south west monsoon reaches north east of India.

-The Arabian Sea Branch of the Southwest Monsoon first hits the Western Ghats of the coastal state of Kerala, thus making this area first to receive rain from the Southwest Monsoon. This branch of the monsoon moves northwards towards western side.

-The duration of the monsoon is between 100 to 120 days. By the end of this period, the low pressure system over north and north-west India gradually weakens, and this leads to the retreat of the monsoon winds.

Summer Monsoons

The summer monsoons in India typically blow from the southwest, bringing huge amounts of rain from the Indian Ocean to the warmer land. Some high-elevation areas of India receive up to 500 centimeters (200 inches) of rain from June to September alone. Similar to summer monsoons across the globe, the rains of the Indian summer monsoon are produced as winds push moisture-laden air high into the atmosphere, where it condenses and falls in heavy precipitation.


Dry Monsoons

In the cooler winter months, the direction of monsoon winds changes as it shifts to follow the warm air back out to sea. As moisture leaves the cooling land, the "dry monsoon" season can be responsible for extensive drought in some regions. But the winter season is not as uniform as the summer monsoons and, according to the Indian state of Maharashtra's Department of the Environment, northeastern India near the Himalayas receives half of its annual precipitation during this time, and even the southwestern states of Kerala and Karnataka receive rain until December.


Embryo Monsoons

Although true monsoons are associated with the equatorial tropics, some weather patterns at higher latitudes are similar to monsoon rains, earning the moniker of "embryo monsoons." Central Europe, for example, experiences severe summer thunderstorms, and winds can change direction from summer to winter, but the weather events are sporadic and lacking in prevailing monsoonal patterns. Similarly, central Mexico and parts of the American Southwest receive heavy seasonal rains, but consistent winds are not present as the harbinger of a true monsoon.


Factors affecting Jet Stream:


The Jet stream

-Jet streams develop where air masses of differing temperatures meet. The velocity of the jet streams increases with the increasing different in temperature. Research shows they exert a considerable impact on surface weather conditions.


Role of the Tibetan Plateau

Tibetan Plateau acts as a physical barrier as well as a source of heat. A thermal anticyclone forms over the Tibetan Plateau because of receiving considerable heat during the northern summer. The formation of anticyclone weakens the western sub-tropical jet-stream south of Himalayas and produces tropical easterly jet on the southern side of the anticyclone. This tropical easterly jet stream first develops in longitude east of India and then it extends westwards across India and the Arabian sea to eastern Africa. Study shows that higher the intensity of the tropical easterly jet, greater would be the potency of the high pressure cell over the Indian Ocean and stronger would be the impact of south-west monsoon.


Jet stream and Indian Monsoon

During summer, low pressure areas develop over Pakistan and north-west India due to intense heating of the ground surface starting from April but as long as the position of the upper air jet stream is maintained above the surface low pressure, the dynamic cyclonic conditions persists over Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and north-west India. The winds descend from the upper air high pressure obstructs the ascent of winds from the surface low pressure areas which results in dry and hot weather. This is the reason that the months of April and May are generally dry despite of very hot weather, low pressure and high evaporation.


El-Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

Southern Oscillation is a seesaw pattern of meteorological changes which occur between the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. Whenever the surface pressure is higher over the Pacific (positive SO), the pressure over the Indian Ocean is low and vice versa. The low pressure over the Indian Ocean in the winter increases the chances of upcoming monsoon to be full of rain and when opposite happens it brings weak upcoming monsoon.


Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)

IOD is a recently discovered factor which affects the Indian monsoon. It is also referred as the Indian Nino. It is a condition in which the sea surface temperature of the western region of Indian Ocean becomes abnormally colder and hotter than the eastern region in alternative phases. IOD can neutralize or intensify the impact of El-Nino and La-Nina depending on the phases of it. Higher than usual temperatures of the western Indian Ocean is known as ‘positive’ IOD phase which brings more rain during monsoon and vice versa.


Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO)

It moves as the ‘weather disturbances’ at different speeds around the world, taking one to two months, or even three months. Moving of MJO divides the world into areas of high and low rainfall. Parts of the world in which MJO is in the active phase receive more than usual rainfall while the other parts of the world faces less rain than the average rainfall. The good rainfall in the Indian subcontinent is also attributed to MJO passing over the Indian Ocean. Like IOD, it can also alter the impact of La-Nina and La-Nina.

What is El Niño?

Warming of the central equatorial Pacific that’s associated with the drying up of monsoon rain.

—IMD has also officially redefined the definition of what constitutes ‘normal’ rainfall and reduced it by 1 cm to 88 cm. The June-September rainfall accounts for 75% of the country’s annual rainfall.

—“Quantitatively, the monsoon seasonal rainfall is likely to be 100% of the Long Period Average (LPA) with a model error of ± 5%. The LPA of the season rainfall over the country as a whole for the period 1961-2010 is 88 cm,” it said.

—The expectation of excess rain comes from a forecast by the dynamical model or the Monsoon Mission Coupled Forecast System — that relies on supercomputers, mathematically simulating the physics of the ocean and the atmosphere.

—According to this forecast, there is a “high probability (70%)” for the rainfall to be “above normal to excess”.

—Last year, the IMD said in April that the monsoon would be ‘near normal’ or a tad below normal. India instead ended up with excess rainfall — or the maximum rainfall in a quarter century — largely owing to torrential rain in August and September from the unusual warming in the Indian Ocean.

—The dynamical model, while better at forecasting the state of the weather a week or two in advance, isn’t yet considered reliable by meteorologists in forecasting the monsoon.

—The statistical models, which the IMD relied on to make its forecasts, had a 41% forecast probability of normal monsoon.

—The Indian Ocean Dipole, a temperature anomaly in the ocean that can increase monsoon rain, was also expected to be in a “neutral” state during the monsoon, the forecast added.

—The odds of excess rain or a drought are 9% each.


About IMD

—The India Meteorological Department (IMD) is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India.

—It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology.

—IMD is headquartered in Delhi and operates hundreds of observation stations across India and Antarctica. Regional offices are at Mumbai, Kolkata, Nagpur and Pune.

—IMD is also one of the six Regional Specialised Meteorological Centres of the World Meteorological Organization.

—It has the responsibility for forecasting, naming and distribution of warnings for tropical cyclones in the Northern Indian Ocean region, including the Malacca Straits, the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf.


About Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)

—also known as the Indian Niño, is an irregular oscillation of sea surface temperatures in which the western Indian Ocean becomes alternately warmer (positive phase) and then colder (negative phase) than the eastern part of the ocean.


About World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

—It is an intergovernmental organization with a membership of 193 Member States and Territories.

—The organization is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

—It followed on from the International Meteorological Organization, founded in 1873, a non-governmental organization.

—Reforms of status and structure were proposed from the 1930s, culminating in the World Meteorological Convention signed on 11 October 1947 which came into force on 23 March 1950.

—It formally became the World Meteorological Organization on 17 March 1951, and was designated as a specialized agency of the United Nations.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-to-receive-normal-monsoon-in-2020-forecasts-imd/article31350804.ece


2. Approval to use plasma enrichment technique


—Delhi has been given the go-ahead to use plasma enrichment technique on a trial basis to save the lives of critical COVID-19 patients.


Plasma enrichment technique

The plasma from a recovered corona virus patient contains antibodies which, when transfused to a sick patient, can help in recovery.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/approval-to-use-plasma-enrichment-technique/article31350611.ece


3. Coronavirus | Disinfectant tunnel could have harmful effects, says PGIMER


—The use of a “disinfectant tunnel”, in which sodium hypochlorite is sprayed to prevent the spread of corona virus (COVID-19), may give a false sense of security and cause harmful side effects.


Adverse effects of sodium hypochlorite

—The use of these tunnels may give a false sense of security and may have adverse health effects as sodium hypochlorite has a lot of harmful effects on the human body. Although a 0.5% solution of hypochlorite, which is known as ‘Dakin solution’, is used for disinfecting areas contaminated with bodily fluids, including large blood spills, however, higher concentrations of sodium hypochlorite (5%) exposure may cause nasal and ocular irritation, sore throat and coughing.

—Exposure to stronger concentration (10-15%) of hypochlorite can cause serious damage to multiple organs, including burning pain, redness, swelling and blisters, damage to the respiratory tract as well as the oesophagus, serious eye damage, stomach ache, a burning sensation, diarrhoea and vomiting.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/disinfectant-tunnel-could-have-harmful-effects/article31348227.ece





1. Trump halts WHO funding over handling of corona virus


—President Donald Trump instructed his administration to halt funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) over its handling of the corona virus pandemic while his administration reviews its response to the global crisis.

—The United States is the biggest overall donor to the Geneva-based WHO, contributing more than $400 million in 2019, roughly 15% of its budget.

—The hold on funding was expected. Trump has been increasingly critical of the organization as the global health crisis has continued, and he has reacted angrily to criticism of his administration's response.

—The decision drew immediate condemnation. American Medical Association President Dr. Patrice Harris called it “a dangerous step in the wrong direction that will not make defeating COVID-19 easier” and urged Trump to reconsider.


WHO needs more resources:

—The World Health Organization is a U.N. specialized agency - an independent international body that works with the United Nations.

—The WHO has been appealing for more than $1 billion to fund operations against the pandemic.

—The agency needs more resources than ever as it leads the global response against the disease.

—Trump has long questioned the value of the United Nations and scorned the importance of multilateralism as he focuses on an “America First” agenda.

—Since Trump took office, he has quit the U.N. Human Rights Council, the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO, a global accord to tackle climate change and the Iran nuclear deal and opposed a U.N. migration pact.

—The Trump administration cut funding in 2017 for the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), the U.N. agency that helps Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in 2018 and put on hold its contribution to the U.N.'s aviation agency last year.

—Under the WHO's 2018-19 biennium budget, the United States was required to pay $237 million - known as an assessed contribution, which is appropriated by Congress - and also made some $656 million in voluntary contributions that were tied to specific programs.

—According to the WHO website, China's contribution for 2018-2019 was almost $76 million in assessed contributions and some $10 million in voluntary funding.


About WHO

—The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health.

—The WHO Constitution, which establishes the agency's governing structure and principles, states its main objective as ensuring "the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health."

—It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, with six semi-autonomous regional offices and 150 field offices worldwide.



—The United Nations Human Rights Council is a United Nations body whose mission is to promote and protect human rights around the world.

—The UNHRC has 47 members elected for staggered three-year terms on a regional group basis. The headquarters of UNHRC is in Geneva, Switzerland.

—The UNHRC investigates allegations of breaches of human rights in UN member states, and addresses important thematic human rights issues such as freedom of association and assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of belief and religion, women's rights, LGBT rights and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.



—The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris, France.

—Its declared purpose is to contribute to promoting international collaboration in education, sciences, and culture in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter.

— It is the successor of the League of Nations' International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation.


About United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA): Formerly the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, is a UN organization.

It "is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled".

—Their work involves the improvement of reproductive health; including creation of national strategies and protocols, and birth control by providing supplies and services. The organization has recently been known for its worldwide campaign against child marriage, obstetric fistula and female genital mutilation.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/trump-says-us-halting-world-health-organization-funding-over-its-handling-of-virus/article31343599.ece




1.UPSC chief, members to forego 30% basic pay for one year


—The chairman and members of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), which conducts civil services examination to select the country’s bureaucrats and officials, have decided to forego 30% of their basic pay for one year to aid the government’s fight against COVID-19, according to an official statement.

—In addition, all officers and staff members of the UPSC have volunteered one-day salary to the PM Relief Fund/PM’s Citizenship Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situation Fund (PM CARES Fund).


About UPSC

—The Union Public Service Commission commonly abbreviated as UPSC, is India's premier central recruiting agency.

—It is responsible for appointments to and examinations for All India services and group A & group B of Central services. While Department of Personnel and Training is the central personnel agency in India.

—The agency's charter is granted by Part XIV of the Constitution of India, titled as Services under the Union and the States.

—The commission is mandated by the Constitution for appointments to the services of the Union and All India Services.

—The Commission consists of a chairman and other members appointed by The President of India. Usually, the Commission consists of 9 to 11 members including the chairman. Every member holds office for a term of six years or until he attains the age of sixty-five years, whichever is earlier.

—The terms and conditions of service of chairman and members of the Commission are governed by the Union Public Service Commission (Members) Regulations, 1969.

—The chairman and any other member of the Commission can submit his resignation at any time to the President of India. He may be removed from his office by the President of India on the ground of misbehaviour (only if an inquiry of such misbehaviour is made and upheld by Supreme Court) or if he is adjudged insolvent, or engages during his term of office in any paid employment outside the duties of his office, or in the opinion of the President unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body.



—Keeping in mind the need for having a dedicated national fund with the primary objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide relief to the affected, a public charitable trust under the name of ‘Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund’ (PM CARES Fund)’ has been set up.


Objectives :

—To undertake and support relief or assistance of any kind relating to a public health emergency or any other kind of emergency, calamity or distress, either man-made or natural, including the creation or upgradation of healthcare or pharmaceutical facilities, other necessary infrastructure, funding relevant research or any other type of support.

—To render financial assistance, provide grants of payments of money or take such other steps as may be deemed necessary by the Board of Trustees to the affected population.

—To undertake any other activity, which is not inconsistent with the above objectives.


Constitution of the Trust:

—Prime Minister is the ex-officio Chairman of the PM CARES Fund and Minister of Defence, Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Finance, Government of India are ex-officio Trustees of the Fund.

—The Chairperson of the Board of Trustees (Prime Minister) shall have the power to nominate three trustees to the Board of Trustees who shall be eminent persons in the field of research, health, science, social work, law, public administration and philanthropy.

—Any person appointed a Trustee shall act in a pro bono capacity.


Other details:

—The fund consists entirely of voluntary contributions from individuals/organizations and does not get any budgetary support. The fund will be utilised in meeting the objectives as stated above.

—Donations to PM CARES Fund would qualify for 80G benefits for 100% exemption under the Income Tax Act, 1961. Donations to PM CARES Fund will also qualify to be counted as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) expenditure under the Companies Act, 2013

—PM CARES Fund has also got exemption under the FCRA and a separate account for receiving foreign donations has been opened. This enables PM CARES Fund to accept donations and contributions from individuals and organizations based in foreign countries. This is consistent with respect to Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF). PMNRF has also received foreign contributions as a public trust since 2011.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/upsc-chief-members-to-forego-30-basic-pay-for-one-year/article31350487.ece



2. Absconding teacher of Kannur school arrested in POCSO case


—K. Padmarajan, alias Pappan, who is also a local Bharatiya Janata Party leader, has been absconding after a case under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act was filed against him on the charge of sexually abusing a Class IV student of a school at Palathayi.



—The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 was enacted to provide a robust legal framework for the protection of children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interest of the child at every stage of the judicial process.

—The framing of the Act, seeks to put children first by making it easy to use by including mechanisms for child-friendly reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and speedy trial of offences through designated Special Courts.


The new Act provides for a variety of offences under which an accused can be punished.

—It recognises forms of penetration other than penile-vaginal penetration and criminalises acts of immodesty against children too. Offences under the act include:

—Penetrative Sexual Assault: Insertion of penis/object/another body part in child's vagina/urethra/anus/mouth, or asking the child to do so with them or some other person

—Sexual Assault: When a person touches the child, or makes the child touch them or someone else

—Sexual Harassment: passing sexually coloured remark, sexual gesture/noise, repeatedly following, flashing, etc.

—Child Pornography

—Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault/ Aggravated Sexual Assault

—The act is gender-neutral for both children and for the accused. With respect to pornography, the Act criminalises even watching or collection of pornographic content involving children.

—Protection of children by the state is guaranteed to Indian citizens by an expansive reading of Article 21 of the Indian constitution, and also mandated given India's status as signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/absconding-teacher-of-kannur-school-arrested-in-pocso-case/article31350596.ece




1. End the harassment of farmers now


—In a press release on March 27, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordinating Committee (AIKSCC) had asked the police not to stop peasants.

—The committee demanded that all harvested crops, milk, poultry, meat and eggs should be procured and that regulated markets should operate at requisite strength, failing which, the panel feared, village-level procurement and supply “will rot and ruin the producer farmers.”

—Similarly, on April 1, the AIKSCC, in its letter to the Chief Minister of Punjab, warned that all the farmers/workers are shut behind the doors.

—In Madhya Pradesh, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) wrote to the Chief Secretary that despite the lifting of the lockdown, “all mandis at district level are closed,” and complained that when farmers sent tarbooz (water melons), oranges and grapes to the mandis, the gates were closed and they had to return on foot.

—The All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha (AIKMS), in its letter dated April 4, to the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, complained that “farmers have suffered losses in their mustard crop which could not be harvested in time and the local police have stopped the peasants from reaching their fields and harvesting and transporting the crop.”

—In Odisha, the panel pointed out that MGNREGA has completely stopped, forcing lakhs of rural workers into distress.


Assaults on forest dwellers

—Officials have interfered with the collection of non-timber forest produce, as allowed by the Forest Rights Act (FRA), causing hunger and distress to millions of tribals.

About FRA:

—     The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, is a key piece of forest legislation passed in India on 18 December 2006. It has also been called the Forest Rights Act, the Tribal Rights Act, the Tribal Bill, and the Tribal Land Act.

—     The law concerns the rights of forest-dwelling communities to land and other resources, denied to them over decades as a result of the continuance of colonial forest laws in India.


Way forward

—The judiciary must carefully review its approach of meekly following the executive while the latter makes blunder after blunder.

—The lockdown was introduced irrationally without ensuring the continuation of provisions statutorily mandated under the National Food Security Act, 2013.

—Consequently, the anganwadis were closed in panic and supplementary nutrition for children below 6 years and for pregnant women, lactating mothers and adolescent girls came to an immediate stop.

—Similarly, the mid-day meal, which reaches millions of school-going students, was abruptly discontinued. The provision of ₹6,000 to every pregnant woman and lactating mother, mandated under the Maternity Benefit Act, also virtually came to an end. Imperial in its announcement and in its execution, the lockdown caused untold pain to the poor.



Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/end-the-harassment-of-farmers-now/article31349670.ece


3.Outdated census data deprives over 10 crores of PDS: economists


—Over 10 crores people have been excluded from the Public Distribution System because outdated 2011 census data is being used to calculate State-wise National Food Security Act coverage, according to economists Jean Dreze and Reetika Khera.

Under the NFSA, the PDS is supposed to cover 75% of the population in rural areas and 50% of the population in urban areas, which works out to 67% of the total population, using the rural-urban population ratio in 2011.

—India’s population was about 121 crores in 2011 and so PDS covered approximately 80 crores people. However, applying the 67% ratio to a projected population of 137 crores for 2020, PDS coverage today should be around 92 crores.

—Even taking into account growing urbanisation, the shortfall would be around 10 crores people who have slipped through the cracks, said the two economists and Right to Food campaigners in a statement on Wednesday.


About NFSA

— The National Food Security Act, 2013 (also Right to Food Act) is an Act of the Parliament of India which aims to provide subsidized food grains to approximately two thirds of India's 1.2 billion people. It was signed into law on 12 September 2013, retroactive to 5 July 2013.

— The National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA 2013) converts into legal entitlements for existing food security programmes of the Government of India.

— It includes the Midday Meal Scheme, Integrated Child Development Services scheme and the Public Distribution System.

—Further, the NFSA 2013 recognizes maternity entitlements.

—The Midday Meal Scheme and the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme are universal in nature whereas the PDS will reach about two-thirds of the population (75% in rural areas and 50% in urban areas).


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/outdated-census-data-deprives-over-10-crore-of-pds-economists/article31350648.ece


3.Coronavirus | Russian arms firm to donate $2 million to PM CARES Fund


—In a first such donation of its kind, Russia’s State-owned defence exports company Rosoboronexport has committed $2million (₹15.3 crores) to the newly set up ‘PM CARES Fund’, diplomatic and government sources confirmed.

—The proposed donation to the fund that has been set up specially to assist the government’s efforts in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, marks a significant shift in India’s policy on accepting contributions from foreign government owned companies.

—Thus far, the government had been only open to contributions from “NRIs, PIOs and international entities such as foundations.

Rosoboronexport — Russia’s umbrella group for all defence exports and a subsidiary of the state-owned defence manufacturing company Rostec — had indicated its intentions to make then donation.

—The firm is the largest source of India’s arms imports and is set to supply defence equipment including the S-400 air defence systems, stealth frigates and AK-203 assault rifles.

—In August 2018, the Indian government had refused to accept offers of aid from several countries including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and the Maldives during the Kerala floods. At the time, the government had said that it was committed to meeting relief and rehabilitation requirements “through domestic efforts”.

—On March 28, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund, putting aside the ‘Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF)’.

—As a result, the donation offer from Rosoboronexport is a departure from precedent for New Delhi. Significantly, the funds from Rosoboronexport may also come under scrutiny as the Russian company is under a series of sanctions from the United States including under its CAATSA law. India has, however, thus far refused to abide by the U.S. sanctions.



The US Congress passed Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) in 2017. It was signed by current US President Donald Trump on 02 August 2017 with an aim to counter the aggressions by Russia, Iran and North Korea. The US President has delegated his powers through CAATSA to ban 39 Russian entities, dealings with which could make third parties liable to sanctions. Its major objective is to discourage exports of Russian defence equipment.


Implications on India’s weapon purchase

-If CAATSA comes into the effect, it will directly affect India’s arms procurement from Russia.

-India has already signed a deal for S-400 air defence system. Some other projects like 1135.6 frigates and Ka226T helicopters will also come under the US scanner.

-CAATSA can affect India-Russia joint defence ventures. Top India-Russia joint ventures are - Brahmos Aerospace, Indo Russian Aviation Ltd and Multi-Role Transport Aircraft.

-Indian manufacturing entities generally import spare parts from various Russian companies for defence equipment.

-Raw materials, components, spare parts and research products will also affect with CAATSA.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/russian-arms-firm-to-donate-2-mn-to-pm-cares-fund/article31350622.ece


4.  11,077 undertrials freed to decongest jails following COVID-19: NALSA

—The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has said that around 11,077 undertrials have been released from prisons nationwide as part of the mission to decongest jails following the COVID-19 pandemic.


—National Legal Services Authority of India (NALSA) was formed on 9 November 1995 under the authority of the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987.

—Its purpose is to provide free legal services to eligible candidates (defined in Sec. 12 of the Act), and to organize Lok Adalats for speedy resolution of cases. The Chief Justice of India is patron-in-chief of NALSA while second senior most judge of Supreme Court of India is the Executive-Chairman. —There is a provision for similar mechanism at state and district level also headed by Chief Justice of High Courts and Chief Judges of District courts respectively.

—The prime objective of NALSA is speedy disposal of cases and reducing the burden of judiciary.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/11077-undertrials-freed-to-decongest-jails-following-covid-19-nalsa/article31350752.ece



5. NHRC asks Centre to frame guidelines for lockdown without violating rights


—The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) asked the Centre to issue an advisory to all States and Union Territories to implement the ongoing lockdown without violating the public’s rights.

About NHRC

— The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India is a Statutory public body constituted on 12 October 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Ordinance of 28 September 1993.

—It was given a statutory basis by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (PHRA).

—The NHRC is the National Human Rights Commission of India, responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights, defined by the Act as "Rights Relating To Life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India."

The NHRC consists of:

—A Chairperson, who has been a Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court[4]

—One member who is, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court of India

—One member who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of a High Court

—Three Members, out of which at least one shall be a woman to be appointed from amongst persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights

—In addition, the Chairpersons of National Commissions viz., National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, National Commission for Women, National Commission for Minorities, National Commission for Backward Classes, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights; and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities serve as ex officio members.

—The sitting Judge of the Supreme Court or sitting Chief Justice of any High Court can be appointed only after the consultation with the Chief Justice of Supreme Court.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/nhrc-asks-centre-to-frame-guidelines-for-lockdown-without-violating-rights/article31350137.ece


6. Analysis| How pandemics have changed the world


—Pandemics have had great influence in shaping human society and politics throughout history. From the Justinian Plague of sixth century to the Spanish flu of last century, pandemics have triggered the collapse of empires, weakened pre-eminent powers and institutions, created social upheaval and brought down wars.

Justinian Plague

—One of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history broke out in the sixth century in Egypt and spread fast to Constantinople, which was the capital of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.

—The plague was named after the then Byzantine Emperor Justinian.

—The outbreak, which spread from Constantinople to both the West and East, had killed up to 25 to 100 million people.

—The plague hit Constantinople when the Byzantine Empire was at the pinnacle of its power under Justinian’s reign. The Empire had conquered much of the historically Roman Mediterranean coast, including Italy, Rome and North Africa.

—The plague would come back in different waves, finally disappearing in AD 750, after weakening the empire substantially.

—As the Byzantine Army failed to recruit new soldiers and ensure military supplies to battlegrounds in the wake of the spread of the illness, their provinces came under attack.

—The plague had also hit Constantinople hard economically, substantially weakening its war machine. By the time plague disappeared, the Empire had lost territories in Europe to the Germanic-speaking Franks and Egypt and Syria to the Arabs.

Black Death

—The Black Death, or pestilence, that hit Europe and Asia in the14th century was the deadliest pandemic recorded in human history. It killed some 75 to 200 million people, according to various estimates.

—In early 1340s, the plague struck China, India, Syria and Egypt. It arrived in Europe in 1347, where up to 50% of the population died of the disease. The outbreak also had lasting economic and social consequences.

—The most significant impact of the Black Death was perhaps the weakening of the Catholic Church. As Frank M. Snowden, a Yale professor and author of Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present, observed, the outbreak challenged man’s relationship to God.

— The Church was as helpless as any other institutions as the plague spread like wildfire across the continent, which shook the people’s faith in Church and the clergy. While Church would continue to remain as a powerful institution, it would never regain the power and influence it had enjoyed before the outbreak of the plague. The Protestant Reformation in the 16th century would further weaken the Church.

Spanish Flu

—Spanish Flu, which broke out during the last phase of First World War, was the deadliest pandemic of the last century that killed up to 50 million people. The flu was first recorded in Europe and then spread fast to America and Asia. India, one of the worst-hit by the pandemic, lost between 17 and 18 million people, roughly 6% of its population.

—One of the major impacts of the outbreak was on the result of the war. Though the flu hit both sides, the Germans and Austrians were affected so badly that the outbreak derailed their offensives.



—It is too early to say how the COVID-19 outbreak that has already infected about 2 million and killed over 1,26,000 people would change the world.

—But the outbreak has seen countries, both democratic and dictatorial, imposing drastic restrictions on people’s movements. The western world, the centre of the post-World War order, lies exposed to the attack of the virus.

—Unemployment rate in the U.S. has shot up to the levels not seen since the end of Second World War. Governments across the world, including the U.S. administration, are beefing up spending to stimulate an economy that shows signs of depression.

—Radical changes, good or bad, are already unfolding.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/analysis-how-pandemics-have-changed-the-world/article31345176.ece




1.  IEA forecasts huge drop in oil demand in 2020


—The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasted a 29 million barrel per day (bpd) dive in April oil demand to levels not seen in 25 years and warned no output cut by producers could fully offset the near-term falls facing the market.

—The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers including Russia agreed to a record cut in output from May of 9.7 million bpd, or almost 10% of global supply, to help support prices.


Aramco eases options

—Separately, Saudi Aramco has offered refineries in Asia and Europe the option to defer payments for crude cargo deliveries by up to 90 days, as plants struggle with shrinking demand, refining industry sources said.

—The credit terms, offered through unnamed Saudi banks, are also seen as part of the country’s efforts to raise market share, the sources said. Under the terms, Aramco will receive payment for cargoes from the same bank within 21 days of shipment, a source said.


About IEA

— The International Energy Agency is a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization established in the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis.

The IEA was initially dedicated to responding to physical disruptions in the supply of oil, as well as serving as an information source on statistics about the international oil market and other energy sectors.


About OPEC

— The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is an intergovernmental organization of 13 nations, founded on 14 September 1960 in Baghdad by the first five members (Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela), and headquartered since 1965 in Vienna, Austria.

—As of September 2018, the 14 member countries accounted for an estimated 44 percent of global oil production and 81.5 percent of the world's "proven" oil reserves, giving OPEC a major influence on global oil prices that were previously determined by the so-called "Seven Sisters" grouping of multinational oil companies.

—A larger group called OPEC+ was formed in late 2016 to have more control on global crude oil market.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/iea-forecasts-huge-drop-in-oil-demand-in-2020/article31351108.ece



Art and Culture


1.Festive spirit’ brings cheer to Assam


- Assam began celebrating its first-ever Bohag or Rongali Bihu without rong, meaning merriment, because of the COVID-19 lockdown, but the reopening of liquor outlets lifted the “festive spirits” for some across the State.


Rongali Bihu:


-Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu also called Xaat Bihu (seven Bihus) is a festival celebrated in the Indian state of Assam and other parts of northeastern India, and marks the beginning of the Assamese New Year.

-It usually falls in the 2nd week of April, historically signifying the time of harvest. This year it falls on 14th of April 2020.

-The holiday unites the different communities of Assam regardless of their backgrounds and promotes the celebration of diversity.

-During Rangali Bihu there are 7 pinnacle phases: 'Chot', 'Raati', 'Goru', 'Manuh', 'Kutum', 'Mela' and 'Chera'.