Current Affair – April 15, 2021

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CURRENT AFFAIRS

Bihu

Context: A spike in COVID­19 cases and strict guidelines issued by the Assam government has dampened the festive spirit ahead of Rongali or Bohag Bihu.

About the festival

  • Bihu is the most popular festival of Assam.
  • It has its roots in agrarian practices of ancient times.

Types

  • Bogali Bihu is celebration of harvest.
  • Rongali Bihu is about New Year. Uruka rituals are performed on the occasion of Rongali Bihu.
  • Assam also observes Kongali Bihu. It comprises solemn prayer for a good crop.
  • Bodos call their new year festival Baisagu, Dimasas call it Busu, Karbis call it Rongker, The Mishings cal it Ali-aye-Lrigang and Rabhas call it Baiku.
Source: The Hindu

S-400 Missile System

  • Russian Ambassador to India confirmed India and Russia are “committed” to completing their contract for the S­400 missile system, due to be delivered to India at the end of the year.

About the missile system

  • A missile defence system is intended to act as a shield against incoming ballistic missiles.
  • The Russian-built S-400 Triumf  is the world’s most dangerous operationally deployed modern long-range surface-to-air missile system.
  • It is considered much more effective than the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system developed by the US.
  • The S-400 is a mobile system that integrates a multifunction radar,autonomous detection and targeting systems, anti-aircraft missile systems, launchers, and a command and control centre.
  •  It can engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and ballistic and cruise missiles within a range of 400 km, at an altitude up to 30 km.
  • It can be deployed within five minutes, and is capable of firing three types of missiles to create a layered defence.
  • It is identified by NATO as the SA-21 Growler.
Source: Indian Express

El Niño and Skymet Forecast

  • Skymet Weather is a private weather forecast company. The company released its weather forecast on April 13. 
  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD), which provides the official forecasts is  expected to announce its forecast later this month.
The LPA refers to the average all­India monsoon rainfall of 88 cm, which is a 50­year mean. The monsoon in 2019 and 2020 was only the third time in a century of  back ­to ­back years of above normal rain­ fall (rainfall that is 5% above normal, or 105%) during the season in India.    

What does the forecast say?

  1. Monsoon was likely to be 103% of the long period average (LPA) this year.
  2. The plains of North India, along with a few parts of northeast India are at risk of being rain deficient through the season.
  3. The odds of an El Nino, characterised by a heating of the equatorial central Pacific over half a degree, are low this year.
  4. Currently, the Pac­ific is in a [converse] La Nina mode, and while it is expect­ ed to weaken a bit in the coming months, during the monsoon months [ June-Sep­tember], it is forecast to in­crease.
  5. Along with the El Nino, another ocean variable, the Indian Ocean Dipole, characterised by a temperature gra­dient in the western and eastern Indian Ocean, is ex­pected to be slightly on the negative. A positive dipole usually aids the monsoon.

What is El Niño and La Niña?

  • El Nino and La Nina are literally translated as ‘the boy’ and ‘the girl’ respectively in the Spanish language.
  • El Nino and La Nina are the exact opposite phases of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

ENSO

  • Climatic phenomenon called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle takes place in the Pacific Ocean. It involves temperature changes in the waters of the Eastern and Central Pacific Ocean.
  • It is a recurring phenomenon and the change in temperature is accompanied by changes in the patterns of upper and lower level winds, sea level pressure, and tropical rainfall across the Pacific Basin.

EL Niño

  • El Nino is typically  known as the warm phase and La Nina is identified as the cold phase of ENSO.
  • These deviations from the normal surface temperatures can potentially have a large-scale impact on the global weather conditions, and the monsoon climate of the Indian subcontinent also gets affected with these temperature fluctuations in the Pacific.
  • El Nino is historically associated, in many years, with a weakening of the monsoon over India. The monsoon is also expected to be fairly well­distributed, with even September (the month in which the season starts to recede) expected to post 10% more rainfall than normal.

 La Niña

  • Also known as ‘El Viejo’ or cold event, El Nina is observed when the water temperature in the Eastern Pacific gets comparatively colder than normal, as a consequence of which, there is a strong high pressure over the eastern equatorial Pacific.
  • The difference in pressure between Eastern Pacific and Western Pacific/Asia causes a moisture-laden wind movement from East to West Pacific and Asia.
  • As a result, La Nina causes drought in the South American countries of Peru and Ecuador, heavy floods in Australia, high temperatures in Western Pacific, Indian Ocean, off the Somalian coast and a comparatively better monsoon rains in India.
  • Generally, El Nino and La Nina occur every 4 -5 years. El Nino is more frequent than La Nina.

 

Source: Indian Express

Poshan Gyaan

  • PoshanGyan is a national digital repository on health and nutrition.
  • It has been launched by NITI Aayog, in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Centre for Social and Behaviour Change, Ashoka University.

Significance

  • Real change can be brought about only through changing behaviours on the ground.
  • High malnutrition persists despite India being a food-surplus nation, which points towards a clear need for behavioural change. 
  • It will help to make nutrition a ‘Jan Andolan’.
  • The crowdsourcing feature of the site can be easily used to disseminate the nationwide solutions that have also proved successful in local contexts.
Source: News on air

Earliest Known Limb

  • Researchers have described a pterosaur species with opposable thumbs, which could likely be the earliest-known instance of the limb.

About pterosaur

  • The pterosaur species were reptiles, close cousins of dinosaurs.
  • They were the first animals after insects to evolve powered flight.
  • They evolved into various species; while some were as large as an F-16 fighter jet, others were as small as paper airplanes.

Discovery

  • The new pterosaur fossil was discovered in the Tiaojishan Formation of Liaoning, China, and is thought to be 160 million years old.
  • It has been named Kunpengopterusantipollicatus, also dubbed “Monkeydactyl”.

Research Findings

  • “Antipollicatus” in ancient Greek means “opposite thumbs”, and it was attached to the name because the researchers’ findings could be the first discovery of a pterosaur with an opposed thumb.
  • The recently found pterosaur fossil is far older than the one identified in 2019. Paleontologists had identified that species as a pterosaur that lived over 77 million years ago in what is Western Canada today.
  • Named Cryodrakon boreas, it was believed to be one of the largest flying animals, which “flew over the heads of dinosaurs”, with a wingspan of over 10 metres.
Source: Indian Express

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