Current Affair-Feb 20, 2021

Nankana Sahib and its significance

  • Nankana Sahib is the birth place of first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak Dev.
  • It is also the site of the first big agitation by the SGPC to take back control of gurdwaras from mahants backed by the British.

Saka Nandana Sahib

The centenary of Sri Nankana Sahib massacre is popularly known as Saka Nankana Sahib, it is being marked on February 21 this year.

Efforts to free Nankana Sahib

  • The SGPC came into existence in November 1920, a month after Sikhs removed partial restrictions on Dalit rights inside Golden Temple in Amritsar.
  • It started the gurdwara reform movement which was aimed at taking possession of historical Sikh Gurdwaras, which had turned personal property of the priests, who were called mahants. These mahants were also accused of running practices from gurdwaras which were not approved in Sikhism.
  • Mahant Narain Das was in control of Gurdwara Nankana Sahib. Newly formed SGPC asked him to improve the administration of gurdwaras in October 1920. However, the mahant took it as a challenge to his authority and started equipping himself with arms and fortified the gurdwara.
  • SGPC leader Lachman Singh Dharowal was attacked by mahant’s men inside gurdwara on birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji in presence of British officials in November 1920. But no action was taken against the mahant.
  • Sikh leaders made attempts to bring mahant to the negotiation table but their efforts failed.

The February massacre

  • Meanwhile, all the mahants and other groups, who were in control of Sikh gurdwaras, also organized themselves and started holding meetings against SGPC.
  • They called “Sikh Sanatan Conference” in Lahore on February 19, 20 & 21, 1921. Some motivated Sikh leaders took it as an opportunity to take control of the Gurdwara Nankaka Sahiba as Mahant Narain Das would be busy in Lahore.
  • Master Tara Singh and other Sikh leaders tried to stop the Sikh jatha on the way to Nankana Sahib but failed to convince the leaders leading the jatha.
  • Mahant Narain Das also came to know about jatha coming to Gurdwara Nankana Sahib as he was all set to leave for Lahore by train and returned back.
  • The unarmed Sikh jatha entered inside the gurdwara and with a plan to take possession of gurdwara in a non-violent manner. On the other side, the mahant was all prepared for an armed attack.
  • As the jatha entered the gurdwara, all the gates were closed. Many got bullet shots. Total number of causalities stood between 150 to 200.

Taking control of the gurdwara

  • After the incident, Mahant Narain Das ran away, while the British police arrested 26 Pathans and sent them to Lahore in a special train. The incident, however, created an impression among Sikhs that the British government had played a hidden part in this massacre.
  • All the prominent Sikh leaders reached Nankana Sahib on February 21, 1921. Kartar Singh Jhabbar reached with 2,200 Sikhs. Initially, police and Army tried to stop the jatha, but later Sikhs were allowed to take control of the gurdwara.
  • The then Punjab Governor ordered handing over control of gurdwara to Sikhs.
  • Mahatma Gandhi reached Nankana Sahib on March 3, 1921. He said that the British government was part of this massacre. He also said that the cruelty of this massacre was more than that of Jallianwala Bagh. “I wish to see the bravery of Lachhman Singh and Dalip Singh in Mulshi Peta. Without raising a little finger, these two warriors stood undaunted against the attack of Mahant Narain Das of Nankana Sahib and let themselves be killed,” said Gandhi.
Source – Indian Express

Uttarakhand flash flood has changed Alaknanda colour

River Course:

The Alaknanda rises in the Satopanth glacier and is met at Vishnuprayag by the Dhauli Ganga, which carried deposits from the flood on Feb 7. The Alaknanda is then met by the Nandakini at Nandaprayag, Pindar at Karnaprayag, Mandakini at Rudraprayag, and Bhagirathi at Devprayag. Thereafter, it is known as Ganga, which flows to Rishikesh and Haridwar.

  • The pictures below show the Alaknanda at Devprayag, muddied by the landslide and flash flood in the Rishi Ganga and Dhauli Ganga on February 7. The muddiness, which persisted on Friday, is the result of suspended sand, clay, rocks, in the water, geologists and environment scientists in Uttarakhand said.
  • The river is usually clear in winter. It becomes muddy only in the monsoon. The flood weakened downstream of Tapovan, and the mud and debris reached Rishikesh on February 11.
  • UPCB data show the Ganga was clean at Rishikesh and Haridwar on February 6; it was classified as “muddy” on February 11, and is currently “turbid”.
  • The volume of debris that fell into the Rishi Ganga and was carried downstream to the Alaknanda is difficult to estimate. But it is estimated that a glacial rock mass of 0.2 to 0.4 million cubic meter volume fell from about 5,600 m to 3,600 m along a 40-degree incline, transforming into a muddy slurry as it picked up vegetation and loose rock along the way.
  • No timeframe can be given for the water to flow clear again.
Source – Indian Express

Accidental discovery of life deep beneath Antarctica’s ice shelves

Researchers have accidentally discovered life under the ice shelves of the Antarctic — in extremely cold and harsh conditions.

  • The discovery has left many of them baffled for it contradicts earlier theories of non-survival of life in such extreme conditions.
  • The unidentified species are estimated to be related to sponges, ascidians (sea squirts), hydroids, barnacles, cnidarian or polychaete.
  • Scientists discovered sessile sponges — a pore bearing multicellular organism and other alien species — attached to the sides of a rock beneath the ice sheets.
  • The images of the rock with sponges were recorded by drilling through two boreholes in the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf, the second-largest ice shelf of Antarctic. It was 260 kilometres from the open water shelf where photosynthetic organisms can survive.
  • Scientists are yet to discover how these organisms access food. They said they would use Environment Deoxyribonucleic acid (e-DNA) technology in future to identify the organisms.

Until now, scientists believed that sea life decreased with increase in the depth of the Antarctic ice floor. The new discovery has now

broken the assumed trend and challenged scientists to re-examine their theories about life beneath the ice shelves of Antarctic.

Source – Downtoearth

Why is it unusually foggy over north India this winter?

For several days during the last two months, zero visibility and dense fog has engulfed parts of Delhi and all of Punjab and Haryana keeping up with cold weather conditions.

What is fog?

Fog is a phenomenon of small droplets remaining suspended in the air. Fog develops normally during late evening, night or early morning hours of the day. Foggy conditions prevail over the plains of north India during the winter season and can prolong for days and sometimes even for weeks.

What factors led to dense fog over north India this winter?

  • Fog developed over Delhi-Haryana-Punjab belt during February 2-6, due to the passing of an active western disturbance, which caused light rain and brought along fresh moisture over these regions. Though western disturbances continued to pass through the extreme northern hilly terrains affecting weather over Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh during February 8-19, the plains largely remained unaffected.
  • “In the absence of an active western disturbance, an anticyclone formed and stayed put over the extreme north of the plains. This coincided with the dominant easterly waves pumping in moisture into the region, favoring the fog formation,” explained a senior scientist.
  • Clear sky conditions accompanied by calm winds during the day allowed the fog to persist for longer than normal duration.
  • The Punjab-Haryana-Delhi belt is infamous for possessing a high concentration of sources causing air pollution, but this season, pollutants had little role to play with respect to fog.
  • With the persistent prevalence of an easterly trough across Central India after February 8, the easterly winds continued to remain active for 9 to 10 consecutive days. This resulted in continuous moisture being fed and the water droplets contributed towards the fog development and its persistence all these days.

Why is fog unusual this year?

Even though fog over the plains of north India is common during December to February months, fog along the Indo-Gangetic plains this season has been unique in more than one way.

  • The prolonged persistence of foggy conditions recorded continuously between 7pm to 10.30am.
  • The growing geographical expanse of zero visibility with very dense fog conditions engulfing Punjab-Haryana-Delhi belt.
  • The timing of very dense fog for 9 to 10 days, as such conditions occur limited to 2 or 3 days within the first week of February.
Source – Indian Express

INS Pralaya

Indian Naval Ship Pralaya arrived at Abu Dhabi, UAE to participate in the NAVDEX 21 (Naval Defence Exhibition) and IDEX 21 (International Defence Exhibition), scheduled from 20 to 25 February 2021

  • INS Pralaya is the second ship of the indigenously built Prabal Class Missile Vessels
  • It was commissioned in the Indian Navy on 18 December 2002.
  • The ship is built indigenously at Goa Shipyard Limited.
  • It is a versatile platform capable of performing a wide variety of surface warfare missions.

  • Inaugural edition of Indian Navy – UAE Navy bilateral exercise GULF STAR – 1 was conducted in March 2018. The next edition of the exercise is likely to be conducted in 2021.
  • INS Mysore, an indigenously built guided missile destroyer, mission deployed in the region, is also making a port call at Abu Dhabi, UAE from 19 to 22 Feb 21.
  • NAVDEX 21 and IDEX 21 are the leading international naval and defence exhibitions of the region.
  • Participation of INS Pralaya in NAVDEX 21 and IDEX 2 is aimed at showcasing the strengths of India’s indigenous ship building, in line with vision of AtmaNirbhar Bharat’.
  • Participation of an Indian Navy Ship in NAVDEX 21 and IDEX 21 also highlights close relations between India and UAE.
Source – PIB

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