03 January, 2020

22 Min Read

GS-I : Human Geography Indian Geography
Northeast monsoon ends, country records 30 per cent surplus rain

Syllabus subtopic: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.


Prelims and Mains focus: About the monsoon: its features and impact; South-west and north-east monsoon


News: 2019 was a year of bountiful rain. The year’s Northeast monsoon ended on a high, with the season’s total rainfall recorded remaining 30 per cent surplus.


Northeast Monsoon (Retreating Monsoon)

  • India Meteorological Department (IMD) recognizes October to December as the period for Northeast monsoon.


  • During this period, where rainfall is experienced over southern states, mainly over Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh along with some parts of Telangana and Karnataka.


  • In areas around Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and along the northeast, precipitation during this period reported is either in the form of rainfall or snowfall (due to Western disturbances).


Monsoon in India

  • Monsoon is seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea
  • The southwest monsoon brings rains towards the end of summer as the high pressure built in the Indian Ocean pushes the wind masses towards the low pressure formed on land
  • Temperature Gradien: It’s the temperature variation between the sea and the landmass



Southwest V/s Northeast monsoon

  • The northeast monsoon, or winter monsoon, blows from land to sea, whereas south-west monsoon, or summer monsoon, blows from sea to land after crossing the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, and Bay of Bengal.


  • The southwest monsoon brings most of the rainfall in the country - approximately 75 per cent of India’s annual rainfall.


Source: Indian Express

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Success of facial recognition tech depends on data

Syllabus subtopic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies


Prelims and Mains focus: About the AFRS system and its uses in various fields; about NCRB: its objectives and functions


News: Facial recognition software is now an integral part of policing, globally. Last month, the police used its automated facial recognition system (AFRS) to screen crowds at PM Modi’s rally on the citizenship law in Delhi.



What is the purpose of AFRS software?

  • AFRS is a software that recognizes, records and matches faces against various government databases from photos and videos taken from public and private sources.
  • Its purpose is to find missing children, who may be recorded on CCTV; track criminals across a country; and in the case of Modi’s rally, recognize people who were likely to raise protest slogans at the rally, based on footage recorded from earlier protests. According to reports, people at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan had to pass through a metal detector, during which a camera captured a photo of their faces and scanned it against a database in a matter of seconds.


How does the software work?

The police’s AFRS is different from the facial recognition systems used on smartphones. The latter is based on the ISO 19794-5 standard meant for consumer biometrics; the police’s software is more “restrictive”, as per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) document seeking proposals for the system. It measures facial features and uses the measurements to create a “template” to be matched against others, says an American Bar Association study. Law enforcement’s software is meant to work in various light conditions; detect make-up, plastic surgery or ageing; and work against sketches of subjects.


Can facial recognition technology be beaten?

A review of the London Metropolitan Police’s facial recognition system by academics from the University of Essex in July 2019 showed that the system had erred in 81% of the cases. However, law enforcement bodies worldwide have adopted the system, although there are enough reports for and against the software.


Which databases does AFRS have access to?

The NCRB document says AFRS should be able to check against various databases. Besides the criminal database, it mentions the passport database; the Aadhaar database that includes your photo may be used too. It mentions the Immigration, Visa and Foreigners’ Registration Tracking database, the ministry of women and child development’s Khoya-Paya and the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System. It can match a photo against many and compare one photo with another. The more the data, the better is the output.


What is the scope of India’s AFRS?

NCRB’s proposal clearly states that while a centralized web application will be hosted in the crime record bureau’s data centre in Delhi, it will be made available to “all police stations of the country”. That means AFRS certainly stretches on a national scale. Furthermore, Delhi Police also required the software to work on Android, iOS and Windows platforms. “NCRB has already proposed the provision of mobile data terminals to each police station,” states the proposal document.



About National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB)

  • NCRB was set-up in 1986 to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals so as to assist the investigators in linking crime to the perpetrators based on the recommendations of the Tandon Committee to the National Police Commission (1977-1981) and the MHA’s Taskforce (1985).


  • NCRB was entrusted with the responsibility for monitoring, coordinating and implementing the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) project in the year 2009. The project connects 15000+ police stations and 6000 higher offices of police in the country.


  • NCRB launched the National Digital Police Portal. It allows search for a criminal/suspect on the CCTNS database apart from providing various services to citizens like filing of complaints online and seeking antecedent verification of tenants, domestic help, drivers etc.



  • Entrusted to maintain National Database of Sexual Offenders (NDSO) and share it with the States/UTs on a regular basis.
  • Designated as the Central Nodal Agency to manage technical and operational functions of the ‘Online Cyber-Crime Reporting Portal’ through which any citizen can lodge a complaint or upload a video clip as evidence of crime related to child pornography, rape/gang rape.
  • Compiles and publishes National Crime Statistics. Crime in India, Accidental Deaths & Suicides and also Prison Statistics.
  • Serve as a principal reference point to policymakers, police, criminologists, researchers and media, both in India and abroad.
  • IT-based Public Services like Vahan Samanvay (online matching for Stolen/Recovered vehicles) and Talash (matching of missing persons and dead bodies) is maintained.
  • Maintains Counterfeit Currency Information and Management System (FICN) and Integrated Monitoring on Terrorism (iMoT) applications.
  • Assists various States in capacity building in the area of Information Technology, CCTNS, Finger Prints, Network security and Digital Forensics through its training centres.

Source: Livemint

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GS-II : International Relations Nepal
India, Nepal to hold talks on Kalapani

Syllabus subtopic: India and its neighbourhood relations.


Prelims and Mains focus: about the Kalapani dispute between India and Nepal; about the Treaty of Sagauli


News: Nepal and India will resolve the Kalapani border issue through dialogue, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday.



  • Nepal has raised objections after India released its new political map in November last year following the reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir.


  • Nepal claimed that Limpiyadhura, Lipulek, and Kalapani areas were shown under India’s territory even though they lie within the Nepalese territory.


  • India has said the new map accurately depicts its sovereign territory and it has in no manner revised its boundary with Nepal.



  • Nepalese territories including Darjeeling were handed to the British East India Company as concessions under the Sugauli treaty which was signed in 1816 on the conclusion of the Anglo-Nepalese War.


  • Under the treaty, the Nepalese-controlled territory that was ceded included all areas that the king of Nepal had won in earlier wars such as the kingdom of Sikkim in the east and Kumaon and Garhwal in the west.


Source: Indian Express

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In Haryana, scientists develop India’s own brain template, Brahma

Syllabus subtopic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Prelims and Mains focus: about the Brahma brain template; its need and significance


News: A team of scientists led by senior scientist Pravat Mandal at the Nueroimaging and Nuerospectroscopy Laboratory (NINS) of the National Brain Research Center (NBRC), in Manesar, Haryana, has developed a brain template, Brahma, which will show intrinsic details about the anatomy of the Indian brain.



This comes close on the heels of Mandal in December leading a team that had developed a technology that uses the brain’s stress levels and pH for early identification of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression and schizophrenia.


What is a brain template?

  • Brain template is a gross representation from various brain images to understand brain functionality in diseased conditions.
  • Studies have so far been conducted to develop a standard brain template that is compatible to different populations, though the human brain is highly different in shape and size between individuals and basic demographies, according to scientists. Research was focused to develop the population specific brain template to understand this variability.



Significance of Brahma

  • Brahma will be a crucial guide for Indian brain scientists as doctors have so far relied solely on US and Canadian brain templates for anatomical details for surgery and treatment of Indian patients. However, the American template may differ from the Indian one.

About the Brahma project

  • The project, funded by the department of science and technology (DST), took more than two years to complete.
  • The research was conducted taking volunteers from across India, from all states, for true representation of an Indian brain template. The critical data was generated at NBRC using the state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans using 3T Philips Scanner.
  • Brahma can be used for research and later can be validated for clinical use for surgical procedure. This template will be available for academic use free of charge.



Signficance of Brahma

  • Brahma will be a crucial guide for Indian brain scientists as doctors have so far relied solely on US and Canadian brain templates for anatomical details for surgery and treatment of Indian patients. However, the American template may differ from the Indian one.


  • How Brahma is important is simple to understand. If we want to go to any part of India, we use Google maps and we reach there. Similarly, for any brain study or surgical procedure in India, scientists and clinicians previously used US or Canadian MNI (Montreal Neurological Institute) template to analyse the data or plan surgery as there was no detailed template from Indian brains.


  • The brain has huge complexity and brain functionality is not completely understood till date. It will be immensely important to conduct multimodal brain study to understand psychiatric disorders such as depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. The development of the Indian brain template will be helpful to achieve more accurate and precise allocation of brain regions in neurosurgery.

Source: Livemint

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GS-III : Miscellaneous
Air defence command plan on

Syllabus subtopic: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate


Prelims and Mains focus: about the move and its significane; CDS: mandate and functions


News: In his first meeting with the officials of the Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff, the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, outlined priorities towards creating an air defence command and common logistics support pools as part of measures to create jointness and synergy among the three services.

  • The areas identified for jointness and synergy include creation of common logistics support pools in stations where two or more services have their presence.


  • Gen. Rawat directed various branch heads to come up with recommendations for inter­service synergy and jointness in a time bound manner.


  • Emphasising collegiate system of functioning, he directed that all three services and the Coast Guard must be consulted and their views obtained in a time-bound manner. Decisions will, however, be taken to ensure optimisation of resources.


  • Efforts will be made to cut out infructuous ceremonial activities, which are manpower intensive.


Significance of the move and concerns associated

  • The air defence command and common logistics support pools are steps towards creating theatre commands in future, which is also in the mandate of the CDS. However, there is no consensus among the services on theatre commands and the Indian Air Force (IAF) has been especially opposed to the move.


  • On this issue, Gen. Rawat stated after assuming charge on Thursday that “we are copying western methods and what others have done” and “we have to find a system which suits India.”


  • Defence officials said a joint services Act is also being worked out which is being formulated by the Army Adjutant­General’s branch in coordination with the Navy and the IAF. The three services are currently guided by their respective Service Acts.




Mandate of CDS

The broad mandate of the CDS includes bringing about jointness in operations, logistics, transport, training, support services, communications, repairs and maintenance of the three services, within three years of the first CDS assuming office.


Source: The Hindu

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India records less than 100 tiger deaths for the first time in three years

Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment


Prelims and Mains focus: about the tiger population stats across the country; about NTCA: functions and significance


News: For the first time in the past three years, the number of tiger deaths in a year in the country has been less than 100.



  • According to data from the Ministry of Forest Environment and Climate Change (MoEFCC), there were 84 cases of tiger deaths in the country and 11 cases of seizures (in which a tiger is presumed dead on the basis of body parts seized by authorities). Both put together, the number of tiger deaths in 2019 was 95.


  • In 2018, the number of tiger deaths recorded was 100 (93 mortalities and seven seizures). The number was 115 (98 mortalities and 17 seizures) in 2017, and 122 (101 mortalities and 21 seizures) in 2016.



  • These figures should be seen in the context that tiger numbers in the country were growing.
  • The last tiger census report, released in July 2019, had placed the number of tigers in India at 2,967, up by a third when compared with the numbers reported in 2014.



Reasons for reduction in tiger deaths

  • The reduced numbers of tiger mortalities are because of surveillance, good management of Tiger Reserves and a lot of awareness and education programmes on tiger conservation. ‘


  • Using technology to maintain surveillance on tigers has also come as an added advantage.


Tiger deaths across states

  • Madhya Pradesh, which has the highest number of tigers in the country (526, as per the last census), recorded the most number of cases (31) of tiger deaths.
  • This was followed by Maharashtra, which reported 18 deaths. Karnataka, another State with high tiger population, recorded 12 deaths, and Uttarakhand recorded ten deaths.
  • Tamil Nadu recorded seven cases of tiger deaths.
  • Deaths were also recorded from non­tiger bearing States like Gujarat, where a tiger had strayed into the State and died.


Way ahead

With the increase in tiger numbers, more areas in the country need to be declared Tiger Reserves. Currently, there are 50 Tiger Reserves in India with an area of about 73,000 sq. km.


About National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)

  • It is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change constituted under enabling provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, as amended in 2006, for strengthening tiger conservation, as per powers and functions assigned to it under the said Act.


  • It has been fulfilling its mandate within the ambit of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 for strengthening tiger conservation in the country by retaining an oversight through advisories/normative guidelines, based on appraisal of tiger status, ongoing conservation initiatives and recommendations of specially constituted Committees.



  • Ensuring normative standards in tiger reserve management
  • Preparation of reserve specific tiger conservation plan
  • Laying down annual/ audit report before Parliament
  • Instituting State level Steering Committees under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister and establishment of Tiger Conservation Foundation.
  • According approval for declaring new Tiger Reserves.


Source: The Hindu

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