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28 May, 2020

54 Min Read

South Atlantic Anomaly

GS-I : Human Geography Geo magnetism

South Atlantic Anomaly


Recently, the Swarm constellation of satellites of the European Space Agency (ESA) has updated the development of the South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA). The South Atlantic Anomaly signifies the weakening of the Earth’s magnetic field between Africa and South America. However, it has been observed that the present dip in the intensity of the Earth’s magnetic field is within the normal fluctuation levels.

Swarm Constellation Mission

  • Swarm is the European Space Agency's first constellation of satellites for Earth observation.
  • It consists of three satellites designed to identify and precisely measure the different magnetic signals that makeup Earth’s magnetic field.
  • The mission is operated by ESA's European Space Operations Centre (ESOC), in Germany, via the primary ground station in Kiruna, Sweden.

Earth’s Magnetic Field

Earth’s magnetic field, or the geomagnetic field, is the magnetic field that extends from the Earth’s interior out into space exerting a force on the charged particles emanating from Space including Sun. The earth’s south magnetic pole is actually near the North Pole and the magnetic north pole is near the South Pole. This is why a compass magnet’s the North Pole actually points north (Since opposite poles attract each other)

Reasons for Presence:

The magnetic field of the Earth is due to the metallic and liquid outer core of the planet. The outer core of the planet is like a giant dynamo. The rotation of the Earth creates movements inside the liquid outer core which gives rise to the geomagnetic field.


  • It creates electric currents that generate and change our electromagnetic field.
  • Helpful in the migration of the Animals and Birds.
  • The Northern Lights in the Polar Regions are caused by the magnetic field of Earth – the energy particles emitted by the Sun are channelled by the Earth’s magnetic field towards the poles, where they interact with the atmosphere to create the aurora borealis.
  • The Earth's magnetic field also plays an important role in protecting the planet from solar winds and cosmic radiation that are harmful.

Imp Points

Intensification of SAA (Weakening of Magnetic Field)

  • Scientists have discovered that Earth’s magnetic field has lost around 9% of its strength over the last 200 years.
  • Further, the strength of the field has dropped from around 24,000 nanoteslas to about 22,000 nanoteslas between 1970 and 2020.
  • It has also observed an intensified weakening of magnetic fields in southwest of Africa. The eastern minimum of the South Atlantic Anomaly has appeared over the last decade and has been developing vigorously. This scenario indicates that the South Atlantic Anomaly could split into two separate low points.

Significance of SAA:

It has been speculated that the current weakening of the field is a sign of the pole reversal of the earth– in which the north and south magnetic poles may switch places.

Pole reversal is not an uncommon event and it takes place every 250,000 years. Last it happened 7.8 lakh years ago.

Additionally, the SAA is expected to help to understand the processes in Earth’s core and future developments in the earth’s interior.


  • At surface level, the South Atlantic Anomaly presents no cause for alarm. It means that people won’t feel the change even if the pole shift happens.
  • However, satellites and other spacecraft flying through the area are more likely to experience technical malfunctions. The weaker magnetic field in this region may force charged particles to penetrate the altitudes of low-Earth orbit satellites.
  • It may also affect the navigation-mapping, telecommunication and satellite systems which rely on the geomagnetic field. Therefore, computers, mobile phones and other devices could also face difficulties.
  • Way Forward
  • Earth’s magnetic field is often visualised as a powerful dipolar bar magnet at the centre of the planet, tilted at around 11° to the axis of rotation. However, the growth of the South Atlantic Anomaly indicates that the processes involved in generating the field are far more complex.
  • The magnetic field observations from the Swarm satellite are also expected to provide the new insights into the scarcely understood processes of Earth’s interior.

Source: Business Line

Forest Fire

GS-I : Human Geography Forest Fire

Forest Fire

GS-1 Geography

With rising mercury levels, Uttarakhand's forest fire season has now reached its peak.

There are two primary causes of wildfires, viz. Human and Natural.

Human Causes

    • 90% of all wildfires are caused by humans.
    • Human acts of carelessness such as leaving campfires unattended and negligent discarding of cigarette butts result in wildfire disasters every year.
    • Accidents, deliberate acts of arson, burning of debris, and fireworks are the other substantial causes of wildfires.

Natural Causes

    • Lightning: A fairly good number of wildfires are triggered by lightning.
    • Volcanic Eruption: Hot magma in the earth’s crust is usually expelled out as lava during a volcanic eruption. The hot lava then flows into nearby fields or lands to start wildfires.
    • Temperature: High atmospheric temperatures and dryness offer favourable conditions for a fire to start.
    • Climate Change is causing a gradually increasing surface air temperature, which can propagate forest fires.
    • Weather Components: Warmer temperatures and lower humidity cause vapour pressure deficit to increase which can dry fuels rapidly and allow fires to grow very fast

Forest Fire Prevention and Management in India

  • Forests are a subject in the concurrent list (brought under this list through the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976) of the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • National Action Plan on Forest Fires (NAPFF-2018) of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
    • MoEFCC also provides forest fire prevention and management measures under the Centrally Sponsored Forest Fire Prevention and Management (FPM) scheme.
    • The FPM replaced the Intensification of Forest Management Scheme (IFMS) in 2017. By revamping the IFMS, the FPM has increased the amount dedicated to forest fire work.
    • Funds allocated under the FPM are according to a centre-state cost-sharing formula, with a 90:10 ratio of central to state funding in the Northeast and Western Himalayan regions and a 60:40 ratio for all other states.
    • It also provides the states with the flexibility to direct a portion of the National Afforestation Programme (NAP) and Mission for Green India (GIM) funding toward forest fire work.

Source: AIR

Swarms of locusts

GS-I : Human Geography locusts attack

Swarms of locusts


Over the last few days, swarms of locusts have been sighted unusually even in urban areas of Rajasthan. Swarms have also been reported from parts of the Madhya Pradesh and the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.

Imp Points

  • The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is a short-horned grasshopper.
  • Harmless when solitary, locusts undergo a behavioural change when their population builds up rapidly.
  • They enter the ‘gregarious phase’ by forming huge swarms that can travel up to 150 km per day, eating up every bit of greenery on their way.
  • These insects feed on a large variety of crops. If not controlled, locust swarms can threaten the food security of a country.

Early Arrival

  • The first swarms were sighted along the India-Pakistan border on April 11, months ahead of the usual time of arrival. In India, locusts are normally sighted during July- October along the Pakistan border.
  • Reason for early arrival
    • This can be traced back to the cyclonic storms Mekunu and Luban that struck Oman and Yemen respectively in 2018.
    • These turned large desert tracts into lakes, facilitating locust breeding that continued through 2019.
    • Swarms attacking crops in East Africa reached peak populations in November, and built up in southern Iran and Pakistan since the beginning of 2020, with heavy rains in East Africa in March-April enabling further breeding.

Impact on Urban Areas

Locusts are being seen in urban areas not historically associated with their sightings, such as — Jaipur, MP’s Gwalior, Morena and Sheopur, and recently stray swarms in Maharashtra’s Amravati, Nagpur and Wardha. There being no crops in the fields, the locusts have moved across states attracted by green cover in search of food. The swarms were aided by high-speed wind and thus they made their way to such urban areas.

Impact on Crops

At present, the chances of crop damage are low given that farmers have already harvested their rabi crop.

Orange growers in Maharashtra have expressed concern but as per scientists of the Agriculture Ministry’s Locust Warning Organization (LWO) (Jodhpur), the swarm in Maharashtra would be easy to control.

  • The bigger problem will come once the present swarms breed. An adult female locust lays 80-90 eggs thrice in her three-month life cycle. If left uncontrolled, a swarm can grow exponentially to 40-80 million locusts per square kilometre. The locusts will start laying eggs after the monsoon starts and continue breeding for two more months, with newer generations rising during the growth phase of the Kharif crop.

Control Measures

  • Control involves spraying insecticide on locusts’ night resting places like trees.
  • Till date, the LWO has carried out spraying over 21,675 hectares in Rajasthan. India has also put an order of 60 specialised insecticide sprayers with the UK, the country already has 50 such machines.
  • Drones will also be used to spray the resting places.
  • Coordination between Africa and Asia and India – Pakistan and Iran


At a time India is battling Covid-19, there is a need to take measures so that it won’t pose a threat to food security. There is no quick-fix solution to the locust menace. Beyond chemicals, pesticides, and drones, it is imperative to tackle the root cause of global warming and invest in upgrading climate resilience and adaptation techniques. An expensive and complex process, this will require global cooperation and coordination.

Source: IE

Shekatkar Committee recommendations

GS-II : Governance Various Committees And Commissions In India

Shekatkar Committee recommendations


The government has accepted and implemented three important recommendations of the Committee of Experts (CoE) under the Chairmanship of Lt General D B Shekatkar (Retd) relating to border Infrastructure.

Accepted recommendations:

  • Speeding up road construction,
  • Outsourcing road construction work beyond the optimal capacity of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
  • Mandatory to adopt Engineering Procurement Contract (EPC) mode for execution of all works costing more than Rs 100 crore.
  • Delegating enhanced procurement powers from Rs 7.5 crore to Rs 100 crore to BRO, for domestic and foreign procurements.
  • The land acquisition and all statutory clearances like forest and environmental clearance are also made part of the approval of the Detailed Project Report (DPR).
  • With the adoption of the EPC mode of execution, it is mandatory to award work only when 90 per cent of the statutory clearances have been obtained, implementing the recommendation of CoE regarding obtaining prior clearances before the commencement of the project.

Other recommendations made by the committee and which are under implementation include:

  • Optimization of Signals Establishments to include Radio Monitoring Companies, Corps Air Support Signal Regiments, Air Formation Signal Regiments, Composite Signal Regiments and merger of Corps Operating and Engineering Signal Regiments.
  • Restructuring of repair echelons in the Army to include Base Workshops, Advance Base Workshops and Static / Station Workshops in the field Army.
  • Redeployment of Ordnance echelons to include Vehicle Depots, Ordnance Depots and Central Ordnance Depots apart from streamlining inventory control mechanisms.
  • Better utilization of Supply and Transportation echelons and Animal Transport Units.
  • Closure of Military Farms and Army Postal Establishments in peace locations.
  • Enhancement in standards for recruitment of clerical staff and drivers in the Army.

Other reforms suggested:

  • India’s defence budget should be in the range of 2.5 to 3 per cent of the GDP, keeping in mind possible future threats.
  • A Joint Services War College for training middle-level officers should be established.
  • The Military Intelligence School at Pune be converted to a tri-service intelligence training establishment.

Source: PIB

What Covid-19 does to central nervous system?


What Covid-19 does to central nervous system?

  • As a respiratory disease, Covid-19 primarily attacks the lungs, but other effects too have been emerging, including in the abdomen, the skin and the brain.
  • A new study has reviewed the existing evidence about the last: the virus’s impact on the central nervous system.
  • Altered mental status and stroke have been found to be the most common neurological symptoms in Covid-19 patients.
  • Investigators found that 59% of patients reported an altered mental state and 31% experienced stroke, which were the most common neurological symptoms.
  • Patients also experienced headache (12%), seizure (9%) and dizziness (4%), among other symptoms. Altered mental status was more common in older adults.
  • Study is done by researchers from the University of Cincinnati and three Italian institutions have reviewed neuroimaging and neurological symptoms in patients with Covid-19 and published their findings in the journal Radiology.

Source: IE

Why do some Covid-19 patients lose their sense of smell?


Why do some Covid-19 patients lose their sense of smell?

Loss of the sense of smell (and taste), one of the more recently identified symptoms of Covid-19, is now recognised as such by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the health authorities of some countries, including the US.

Tracking the proteins

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, hijacks two human proteins to invade cells.

  1. One is the ACE2 “receptor” on the cell surface (it opens the door for the virus)
  2. The other is called TMPRSS2, which the virus uses to replicate its genetic material.

  • In mice, the researchers found, these two proteins are produced by certain cells of the nasal cavity that contribute to the mice’s sense of smell (and ours).
  • Within the olfactory epithelium, which is a tissue lining the nasal cavity that is involved in smell, the “sustentacular cells” had the highest level of SARS-CoV-2 receptors.
  • The sustentacular cells help transfer odours from the air to neurons.
  • The mature olfactory neurons do not express ACE2, while the sustentacular cells do.
  • The sense of smell in Covid-19 patients appears to be lost, because the sustentacular cells assist neurons in sensing odours, probably by processing odour-binding proteins.
  • Identifying these cells could help in the development of more accurate diagnostic tests, the researchers said.
  • They have called for future studies should examine whether sustentacular cells can pass the virus to neurons, which could provide SARS-CoV-2 a route to infect the brain.

Age is a factor

  • The researchers also found that larger amounts of the proteins are made in older mice than in younger ones.
  • These are significant findings, because the more entry proteins a host cell has, the easier it is for the virus to bind, enter and infect that cell. The high levels of entry proteins in the nasal epithelium may explain why older humans are more likely to become infected with the novel coronavirus than younger humans.

Why the nose matters

There are two kinds of cells in the nose as the likely first entry points for the virus. These are :

  1. Goblet cells (which produce mucus) and
  2. Ciliated cells (which help sweep mucus to the throat so it can be swallowed).

That study, too, had drawn its conclusions from the expression of the two entry proteins. Using the Human Cell Atlas database, it looked at data from different tissues of non-infected people. It found that these two proteins had the highest presence in goblet and ciliated cells.

Source: IE

Malimath Report

GS-II : Governance Various Committees And Commissions In India

Malimath Report

Justice Malimath Committee or The Committee on Reforms of the Criminal Justice System was constituted by the Home Ministry in 2000. The committee submitted its report in 2003 and made recommendations on crime investigation and punishment.

The recommendations were never implemented. It is now going to be revisited by the government. One of its key recommendations is admissibility of confessions made before a police officer as evidence in a court of law.

Other recommendations are:

  • Stringent punishment for false registration of cases,
  • Constituting a National Judicial Commission and
  • Amending Article 124 to make impeachment of judges less difficult
  • The Standard of “proof beyond reasonable doubt” followed in criminal cases be done away with.

Source: PIB




The Sholas are a mosaic of montane evergreen forests and grasslands. They are found only in high altitude (>1500 metres above sea level) regions within the tropics and are limited to the southern part of the Western Ghats.

They are characterised by undulating grassland patches, interspersed with thickets of stunted evergreen tree species. A recent study has indicated that timber plantations, expanding agriculture and the spread of invasive species reduced two-thirds of the shoals in Palani hill ranges of Western Ghats. There is a marked 67% decline in grassland area compared to the 1973 level.

The natural march of invasive species such as prolific-seed-producer, acacia and the policy push for plantations in the 1990s seems to be the main cause for decline. Fragmented grasslands also displaced endemic species Nilgiri Pipit.

Source: Aspire Geo

Nilgiri Pipit


Nilgiri Pipit

Nilgiri Pipit (Anthus nilghiriensis) is a bird endemic to the Western Ghats of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, southern India.

  • It occurs on grassy upland slopes interspersed with bushes and trees, mainly above 1,500 m, and is commonest over 2,000 m.
  • It is listed as “Vulnerable” in IUCN red list category.
  • It feeds mostly on creeping grass in valleys, but nests in marshy grasslands with slightly taller grasses and sedges, particularly near streams.
  • It has been recorded consuming the seeds of grasses and herbs. Its grassland habitat is gradually being converted to plantations of tea, eucalyptus and silver wattle Acacia dealbata.

Source: TH

Sangeet Natak Academy

GS-I : Art and Culture Art and Culture

Sangeet Natak Academy

The Sangeet Natak Akademi was set up in 1953 for the promotion of performing arts. The Sangeet Natak Akademi is an Autonomous Body under the Ministry of Culture.

It acts at the national level for the:

  • Promotion and growth of Indian music, dance and drama;
  • Maintenance of standards of training in the performing arts;
  • Revival, preservation, documentation and dissemination of materials as well as instruments relating to various forms of music, dance and drama.
  • Recognition of outstanding artists.

The Akademi is also responsible for the establishment and maintenance of institutions and projects of national importance in the field of performing arts.

Sangeet Natak Akademi awards

  • Sangeet Natak Akademi’s Fellowships (Akademi RatnaSadsya) and Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards (Akademi Puraskar) are two awards presented annually.
  • These awards are recognised as the most coveted national honours bestowed on performing artists as well as teachers and scholars of performing arts.
  • The award will be given to eminent persons from the field of tribal music, dance, theatre and traditional folk arts.

Source: Web

National Logistics Plan

GS-III : Economic Issues Infrastructure

National Logistics Plan

Recently Union government has introduced an ambitious national logistics plan to allow seamless movement of inputs and finished goods across the country.

  • This government aims to come out with the most cost-effective method to transport goods by 2035 to provide a competitive edge to the Indian industry.
  • The logistics division in the commerce department is in talks with logistics providing ministries of railways, roadways, shipping, inland waterways and civil aviation besides the logistics using ministries including food processing, coal and mines to chalk out the plan.
  • The logistics division has created a National Logistics Information Portal, which will also be an online logistics marketplace.

Source: TH

Lalit Kala Akademi

GS-I : Art and Culture Art and Culture

Lalit Kala Akademi

Lalit Kala Akademi (National Academy of Fine Arts) is an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Culture. It has headquarters in New Delhi and regional centres in Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow and Shimla.

Lalit Kala Akademi is the nodal agency of the Government of India to promote an understanding of Indian art, both within and outside the country. The Akademi conducts international exhibitions on contemporary art in New Delhi every three years.

It also conducts the National Exhibition of Photography and Art. It publishes bi-annual art journals, Lalit Kala Contemporary (English), Lalit Kala Ancient (English) and Samkaleen Kala (Hindi).

Source: web

Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA)

GS-II : Governance Policies and Programmes

Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA)

The PMSMA programme was launched in 2016 under the ministry of health and family welfare. It aims to ensure free comprehensive and quality antenatal check-ups for pregnant women for ensuring safe pregnancy. The programme is carried out across India with the participation of private doctors.

Source: IYB

Operation Digital board

GS-III : Economic Issues Education

Operation Digital Board

The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) recently passed a resolution to take steps toward Operation Digital Board. The idea of Operation Digital Board is aimed at providing better digital education in all schools.

These steps will be on the lines of Operation Blackboard of 1987, which was started with the purpose of providing minimum basic facilities to all primary schools. This will offer new opportunities and ways of teaching and learning in schools. CABE is an advisory body under the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

Source: IYB

Charu Mussel

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Biodiversity & Environment

Invasive mussel spreads in backwaters

  • An invasive mussel native to the South and Central American coasts is spreading quickly in the backwaters of Kerala, elbowing out other mussel and clam species and threatening the livelihoods of fishermen engaged in molluscan fisheries.
  • The rapid spread of the Charu mussel (Mytella strigata) may have been triggered by Cyclone Ockhi which struck the region in 2017, according to a paper published in the Journal of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries.


  • Surveys show the presence of the Charu mussel in the Kadinamkulam, Paravur, Edava-Nadayara, Ashtamudi, Kayamkulam, Vembanad, Chettuva and Ponnani estuaries/backwaters.
  • Ashtamudi Lake, a Ramsar site in the Kollam district, remains the worst hit. With a population as high as 11,384 per sq metre here, it has replaced the Asian green mussel (Perna Viridis) and the edible oyster Magallana bilineata (known locally as moringa).
  • Externally, the Charru mussel resembles the green and brown mussels (kallummekka in Malayalam), but is much smaller in size. Its colour varies from black to brown, purple or dark green.
  • In all probability, the mussel reached the Indian shores attached to ship hulls or as larval forms in ballast water discharges.


There is also a need to promote studies on invasion biology and strengthen awareness of marine invasive species.

Source: TH

List of Important committees

GS-II : Governance Various Committees And Commissions In India

List of Important committees

GS: PT and Main

List of Committees With Purposes

Name of Committee/Commission Purpose
Abhijeet Sen Committee Formulating food policy in a long term
Abid Hussain Committee Small scale industries and Trade Policy Reform
Chakravarty Committee (1985) Monetary policy
G V Ramakrishna Committee Disinvestment
JJ Irani Committee Company laws; Formation of the new Companies Act
Kelkar Committee (2015) Assessing PPP in India and Tax Structure Reforms
Raja Chelliah Committee Tax reforms in India
Khusro Committee Agricultural Credit System
Sarkaria Commission Relationship and power balance between the Centre and States
Malegam Committee Microfinance
Narasimhan Committee Banking Reforms
Mckinsey Report Merger Of seven Associate Banks with State Bank of India
Suresh Tendulkar Committee Methodology of estimation of poverty
Tarapore Committee Capital Account Convertibility
A Ghosh committee Malpractices in banks
Y B Reddy Committee Assessing Of Income Tax Rebates
Bhagwati Committee Unemployment and Public Welfare
C Rao Committee Agricultural policy
Dharia Committee Public Distribution System
Rangarajan Committee Computerization Of Banking Industry and Public Sector Disinvestment
Lodha committee To recommend reforms for cricket in India
Raghunath Anant Mashelkar panel To suggest the best technologies for Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan
K V Kamath Panel To examine the MSME sector
Bibek Debroy Committee Railway restructuring
Justice B. M Shah Committee Black money
A C Shah Committee Non-Banking Financial Company
Ajit Kumar Committee Army pay scales
Athreya Committee Restructuring of IDBI
Bhurelal Committee Increase in Motor Vehicle Tax
Bimal Jalan Committee Report on the working of capital market infrastructure institutions (MIIs)
Chandra Shekhar Committee Venture Capital
Dave Committee Pension Scheme for Unorganized Sector
Deepak Parekh Committee Financing Infrastructure through PPP model
Hanumant Rao Committee Fertilisers
Janakiramanan Committee Securities Transactions
Kasturirangan Committee Draft National Education Policy
Kothari Commission To examine all aspects of the educational sector in India
Kumaramangalam Birla Report Corporate Governance
N.N. Vohra Committee Relations (Nexus) Of Politicians with Criminals
Radha Krishnan Commission (1948) Establishment of the University Grant Commission
K. Santhanam Committee Establishment of CBI
Shivaraman Committee (1979) Establishment of NABARD
Swaminathan Commission (2004) To find the problems faced by the farmers
Balwantrai Mehta Committee (1957) Panchayati Raj Institutions
Justice A.K Mathur Commission 7th Pay Commission
Vaghul Committee Money market in India
Vasudev Committee NBFC sector reforms
Y B Reddy Committee Review of Income Tax rebates
Aruna Sundararajan Committee Telecom sector revival
Rajiv Kumar Committee Selling of OIL and ONGC fields to private companies
Sushil Modi Committee To look into GST revenue shortfall faced by states
Lokpal Search Committee (Justice Ranjana Desai) For recommending names for Lokpal
Injeti Srinivas Committee Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Punchhi Commission Centre – State relations

For COMMITTEE Lecture:


Source: Web

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