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Rain, thunderstorm leave over 50 dead in four states
Paper : General Studies 1

Why in news?
Unseasonal rain and storm caused damage to property, crops and life in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra overnight. This freak weather was attributed to a western disturbance.

What is a western disturbance?

  • A western disturbance is an extra-tropical/temperate cyclone originating in the Mediterranean region that brings sudden winter rain to the northwestern parts of the Indian subcontinent.
  • It is a phenomenon of the winter months.
  • They move eastwards under the influence of the Sub-tropical westerly jet (STWJ)

What is the significance of western disturbances?

  • They are important for the growth of Rabi crops in Northern India especially wheat
  • They cause precipitation in the form of snowfall in the Himalayas.
  • They bring cold wave and dense fog conditions over North India.
  • When western disturbances move across northwest India before the onset of monsoon, a temporary advancement of monsoon current appears over the region.
  • When they persist till late spring, they can cause freak thunderstorms along with dust storms as are happening now. This can lead to damage and loss of life and property.

 

HC upholds President’s decision to cancel Vellore Poll
Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?
President of India had taken the decision to rescind the poll notification for Vellore on the advice of the Election Commission of India due to complaints of large-scale distribution of cash to voters.

When and why can the President rescind a poll?

  • Since, it is the President who notified the polls on March 19 on the basis of recommendations made by the EC and by exercising powers conferred on him under Section 14 of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 , he was right in rescinding the notification partially (for Vellore) on the basis of the EC’s recommendation.
  • The EC under Article 324 of the Constitution , Section 21 of the General Clauses Act, 1897, and Representation of People’s Act,1951 can recommend countermanding of polls to the President to ensure conduct of free and fair elections.

What is the ECI?

  • Constitutional Body established under Article 324 for superintendence, direction and control of elections to parliament, state legislatures, office of President and Vice-President.
  • Members appointed by the President. There can be any number of Election Commissioners, as fixed by the President and one Chief election Commissioner.
  • They hold office for a term of six years or until 65 years of age, whichever is earlier.
  • They can only be removed on the same grounds and manner as a judge of the Supreme Court and hence have security of tenure.
  • They are eligible for further appointment by the government.

 

Position on Masood Azhar unchanged says China
Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?
China said that it was not facing any deadline from the Western nations to take a call on designating Masood Azhar, head of Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group as an international terrorist. It said that the issue will reach settlement in the UN 1267 Committee.

Why should Masood Azhar be declared an international terrorist?
Jaish-e-Mohammad has been active in conducting terrorist attacks on India.

  • Parliament attack in 2001
  • Mumbai Attacks 2008
  • Pathankot Attack 2016
  • Pulwama Attack 2019
    He had been kept in prison in India but had to be released as a condition during the hijack of flight IC814 in 1999. He started Jaish-e-Mohammed soon after that.

 

Zinc Deficiency Rising in Indians
Paper : Prelims Specific, General Studies 3

Why in news?
A new study titled ‘Inadequate Zinc intake in India : Past, present and future’ by Harvard T.H.Chan School of Public Health has said that rising carbon dioxide levels can accelerate zinc deficiency in crops and this in human consumption. It has been rising in India in the past decades The highest rate of inadequate zinc intake was concentrated in the southern and north-eastern states with rice-dominated diets.

What role does Zinc play in the human body?

  • Zinc supports cell function, helping an estimated 100 enzymes — molecules that make chemical reactions happen — perform their duties.
  • Zinc plays additional roles in the body, including:
    boosting immune function
    helping cells divide
    maintaining the sense of smell and taste
    promoting wound healing
  • Zinc also supports a person’s growth and development. As such, it is an essential mineral for pregnant women as well as growing children.
  • A person’s body does not store zinc, which means getting enough of the mineral from food is important in preventing a deficiency.

What can zinc deficiency cause?

  • Delayed sexual maturity
  • Diarrhoea
  • Eye and skin lesions
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Funny-taste sensations
  • hair loss
  • Poor wound healing
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Men and boys can also experience impotence and hypogonadism, which is when a male’s body does not produce enough testosterone.

How can zinc deficiency be combated?

  • National grain fortification programmes
  • Increased dietary diversity
  • Bio-fortified crops
  • Reduced carbon dioxide emissions

 

Rising Prices worry Cotton Trade
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?
Cotton prices have increased more than 5% in the last one month. This has led to cotton trade and textile industry associations to seek a meeting of the Cotton Advisory Board at the earliest. The CAB last met in November 2018. The prices have increased due to uncertainty and lack of clarity on cotton production.

What is the Cotton Advisory Board?

  • The Cotton Advisory Board (CAB) is a representative body of Government agencies, growers, industry & trade.
  • It advises the Government generally on matters pertaining to production, consumption and marketing of cotton, and also provides a forum for liaison among the cotton textile mill industry, the cotton growers, the cotton trade and the government.
  • The tenure of the CAB is two years.
  • The Cotton Advisory Board draws up the Cotton Balance Sheet.
  • The Board operates on a two tier mechanism i.e., through a Consultative Committee which seeks inputs from the cotton growers, cotton trade and cotton mills.
  • The Consultative Committee meets prior to the formal meeting of the Cotton Advisory Board. The inputs of the Consultative Committee recommendations are considered by the CAB
  • It is an advisory body under the Ministry of Textiles.

 

For Subansiri Okay, Government looks at report of Panel under Judicial scrutiny
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?
Subansiri Hydroelectric project’s construction has been frozen since 2011 due to local opposition. In order to get the project to restart, the Government is planning to consider the report of a Panel that was set up by the MOEFCC on the directions of the National Green Tribunal. However, the appointment of this Panel was challenged on grounds of conflict of interest. The matter is currently subjudice in the NGT. The Environment ministry has decided to take this report under consideration.

What is the Subansiri Hydroelectric Project?

  • Run of the river project on Subansiri river at the Arunachal-Assam border.
  • It is being constructed by NHPC limited, a Public sector undertaking
  • It is expected to supply power of 2000 MW when completed.
  • Subansiri is a right-bank tributary of the Brahmaputra.

What is the National Green Tribunal?

  • The National Green Tribunal has been established on 18.10.2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010. It is a statutory body.
    Its aim is for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues.
  • It has both legal and expert members.Judicial members must have been judges of the Supreme Court or High Courts. Expert members have to possess technical qualifications and expertise, and also practical experience.
  • The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
  • The Tribunal’s dedicated jurisdiction in environmental matters shall provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts.
  • The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
  • Initially, the NGT is proposed to be set up at five places of sittings and will follow circuit procedure for making itself more accessible.
    New Delhi is the Principal Place of Sitting of the Tribunal and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai shall be the other four place of sitting of the Tribunal.