IMD’s forecasts for the monsoon
- The India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted this year’s summer monsoon precipitation to be close to normal.
- It is the primary agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting, and seismology.
- In addition, IMD is one of the six Regional Specialised Meteorological Centres of the World Meteorological Organisation.
Predictions by IMD
- Normal to below normal rainfall:
- The rainfall during the June-September period is likely to be 96% of the long-term average Period.
- Normal to below normal rainfall in some areas ofnorth west India and some parts of west central India and some pockets of north east India.
- El Nino impact:
- El Nino is primarily responsible for the relatively low rainfall this year.
- Since 2019, India has been under the influence of the opposite ‘La Nina’ and consequently has been receiving substantial monsoon rains.
- The El Nino event, which is triggered by warm water in the equatorial Pacific, can influence global weather patterns, and in India, El Nino is associated with drier conditions and decreased precipitation.
Current La Nina:
- The current La Lina conditions, which is usually favourable to monsoon, has changed to neutral over the equatorial Pacific region.
IMD Categorisation Method of Monsoon
- Long Period Average (LPA):
- A long-period average (LPA) of precipitation is the precipitation recorded over a particular region for a given interval (such as a month or season), averaged over a long period such as 30 years, 50 years, etc.It serves as a benchmark when forecasting the monthly or seasonal precipitation totals for that region.
- Categories of Rainfall:
- Large Excess: ≥60% of long period average (LPA).
- Excess: 20% to 59% of long period average (LPA).
- Normal: -19% to +19% of long period average (LPA).
- Deficient: -59% to -20% of long period average (LPA).
- Large Deficient: -99% to -60% of long period average (LPA).
- Predicting the Monsoon: In India as a whole, the monsoon season runs from June to September, with an LPA of 88 cm and a standard deviation of 9 cm (approximately 10% of the mean value).
- Therefore, when the average rainfall across the entire country is within 10% of its LPA or between 90% and 110% of LPA, the rainfall is considered “normal”; when the rainfall is 90% of LPA, it is considered “below normal,” and when it is >110% of LPA, it is considered “above normal.”
Monsoon & its onset
- A monsoon is a seasonal shift in the direction of a region’s predominant or strongest winds.
- Around the first week of June, the monsoon makes its first landfall in Kerala.
- From October to November, the Northeast monsoon or retreating monsoon brings precipitation to the eastern coast of India, particularly Tamil Nadu.The southwest monsoons are facilitated by various factors, including the availability of energy in the atmosphere, the intertropical convergence zone, the Coriolis effect, and jet streams.
Effects of Monsoon on Indian Subcontinent
- Agriculture & Economy: Sufficient and timely monsoon rains are essential for India’s agriculture sector, the primary source of income for approximately 60% of the country’s population and which accounts for approximately 18% of the economy.
- Without irrigation, nearly half of India’s farmland relies on annual June-September rains to cultivate crops such as rice, corn, cane, cotton and soybeans.Monsoon uncertainty poses a possible threat to the economy.
- Rivers: The monsoon brings water and sediment to rivers not only in India, but also in China, Bangladesh, etc.
Know about El Nino and La Nina
- Normal Conditions: During normal conditions in the Pacific ocean, trade winds blow west along the equator, taking warm water from South America towards Asia.
- To replace that warm water, cold water rises from the depths — a process called upwelling.
- El Niño and La Niña are two opposing climate patterns that break these normal conditions.
- El Nino: During El Niño, trade winds weaken. Warm water is pushed towards the west coast of the Americas from the east, while cold water is pushed towards Asia.El Nio translates to “Little Boy” In the 1600s, South American fishermen first observed periods of unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean. The full name was El Nio de Navidad, as El Nio typically reaches its peak in December.
- La Niña: It translates to Young Girl in Spanish. La Nia is also known as El Viejo, the anti-El Nio, and simply “a cold event.” La Nia produces the opposite results as El Nio. During La Nia events, trade winds are even stronger than usual, propelling greater quantities of warm water towards Asia.
Effects on the Indian Ocean
- A transition from a La Nia winter to an El Nio summer has historically been associated with a monsoon deficit. If El Nio develops by summer, India will likely experience a monsoon deficit. Extreme wet and dry conditions will accompany the monsoon deficit.
- The vertical shear, the change in wind intensity from the surface to the upper atmosphere, will also be weaker. In turn, this can enhance cyclogenesis, or the formation of cyclones.La Nina, on the other hand, can result in above-normal precipitation and decreased temperatures in India.
Good Friday Accord
Tags: GS1, History of the World
- Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
Good Friday Agreement
- On April 10, 1998, factions of Northern Ireland and the governments of Britain and Ireland signed the Good Friday Agreement.
- It ended 30 years of violence known as ‘The Troubles’, was hailed as a model agreement for ending long-standing conflicts, and earned David Trimble and John Hume, then leaders of the two opposing parties in Northern Ireland, the Nobel Peace Prize.It was signed to end decades of violence between those who wished to remain with the United Kingdom (UK) and those who wished to join Ireland in Northern Ireland.
What were The Troubles?
- Northern Ireland is comprised of the six northeastern counties of the island, and was established in May 1921 through the partition of Ireland.The remainder of Ireland gained independence from the British in 1922 (today’s Republic of Ireland, with Dublin as its capital).
- Northern Ireland remained a part of the United Kingdom, but tensions persisted between the side loyal to the Crown, composed primarily of Protestants, and the faction seeking to join the Republic, composed primarily of Catholics.
- In the 1960s, Protestants had gained power and Catholics had begun to face discrimination.Violence erupted between both factions during The Troubles, claiming the lives of over 3,500 individuals.
What were the terms of the Good Friday Agreement?
- Northern Ireland would remain part of the UK, but could join Ireland if, in a referendum, a majority of people on both sides voted for it.
- People born in Northern Ireland could have Irish or British nationality or both.
- Northern Ireland would get a new government, which would have powers over local matters, while the UK government would look after security, foreign policy, tax laws, immigration rules, etc.
- On May 22 1998, a referendum was held in Ireland and Northern Ireland, and the agreement was approved by 94% of voters in Ireland and 71% in Northern Ireland.
What is the status 25 years on?
- The most significant accomplishment of the Good Friday Agreement has been the cessation of violence and the establishment of a lasting peace in the region.
- Brexit has thrown a wrench into the works. Ireland has been incapacitated for over a year.
- The British intelligence agency (MI5) recently upgraded the threat level in Northern Ireland from “moderate” to “severe” due to domestic terrorism.
- Several pro-Union parties in Northern Ireland, including the DUP, began to boycott the agreement.
- The United Kingdom and the European Union recently reached an agreement known as the Windsor Framework to resolve this crisis.
Why is the US so enthusiastic about the Agreement?
- The United States played a pivotal role in the negotiations leading up to the agreement.
- The current President of the United States (Biden) is descended from Irish immigrants (second only to John F. Kennedy) and is extremely proud of his Irish heritage.
Hydropower in Nepal from India
Tags: GS 2, India & Foreign Relations International Organisations & Groupings
- Nepal is now at the cusp of realising a long-awaited dream of development through its hydropower resources.
India in Nepal’s hydropower
- Historically, India has avoided developing Nepal’s hydropower resources.
- Delhi has few legacy projects in the sector, prioritising other infrastructure sectors in Nepal.
- Current scenario:
- A careful reading of India’s Nepal policy in the past few years suggests that Delhi has quietly taken the lead in Nepal with its push for connectivity, especially in hydropower development and trade.
- List of hydropower Projects:
- Arun III project:
- The 900 MW Arun III project, which is currently being developed by a subsidiary of Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN), is advancing rapidly.
- Seti project:
- Nepal has signed an agreement with NHPC Limited to develop both the 750 MW West Seti project, from which China’s Three Gorges Corporation had pulled out citing it was financially not viable, and the additional 450 MW Seti River 6 project on the same river.
- Upper Karnali project:
- The 900 megawatt Upper Karnali project has been licenced to the Indian corporation GMR group.However, the project has encountered difficulties because the company is unable to reach financial closure by the deadline.
- Phukot Karnali project, Tamor River project:
- The 480 MW Phukot Karnali project and the 756 MW Tamor River storage-type project, both listed as potential BRI investments in Nepal, have been awarded to NHPC and SJVN, respectively.
- Cross-border transmission lines:
- Several cross-border transmission lines are in the works, with the capacity of the Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur transmission line agreed to be increased to 800 MW from the current 600 MW. • An agreement for the export of Nepalese power via transmission lines in Bihar at a fixed rate of INR 7.21 per unit has been signed.
- Nepal’s Power export to India:
- The most exciting development—one that could realise Nepal’s much-awaited hydropower potential—has been the export of NPR 11 billion (INR 6.8 billion) worth of power to India between June and December 2022.
- Nepal is currently allowed to sell 452.6 MW generated from 10 projects in the Indian day-ahead electricity market.
- Similarly, Nepali private power companies may soon also be able to sell their power directly to Indian buyers.
Issues & challenges
- ISTS charges:
- There are worries that India’s decision to waive off Inter-State Transmission System (ISTS) charges to its domestic projects will make Nepali power exports less competitive, and Kathmandu will be seeking a similar waiver on its power exports as well.
- India-China issue:
- The India-China rivalry has reverberated in Nepal, with India blocking access to its markets for infrastructure projects developed or financed by China.
- This has created a great deal of anxiety among Nepalese private sector power developers who see India as a potential export market.
- Restricting market access may dissuade Nepal from focusing on China, but the policy has also allowed China to gain access to markets that were previously off-limits.
- Projects involving Chinese contractors:
- India’s move has been extended to projects involving both Indian and Chinese contractors, such as the 456 MW Upper Tamakoshi project, as well as to projects funded by multilateral institutions like the ADB, such as the Chinese-built Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa.
- Export of Nepali power to Bangladesh:
- India’s regional connectivity initiative will be bolstered if it expedites the export of Nepalese electricity to Bangladesh via Indian transmission lines.
- Both Kathmandu and Dhaka are enthusiastic about the proposal, which, if approved by New Delhi, will be one of the few instances of trilateral power cooperation in the world.
- This will provide a boost to larger BBIN connectivity and India’s G20 ambitions, as well as momentum to the recent joint vision statement between Nepal and India on power sector cooperation.
- Bilateral UPI payment interface:
- Expediting moves such as a bilateral UPI payment interface, which are at an incipient stage at the moment, will boost this connectivity drive.
- Regional connectivity in South Asia has long been a mirage, but recent developments have raised hopes that it can finally be achieved in the culturally similar but economically isolated region.India must reassure its neighbours that it is committed to realising its vision for the global South during its G20 presidency and to advancing connectivity projects in South Asia.
Saudi Arabia’s Struggle for Strategic Independence
Tags: GS 2, India & Foreign Relations
Recent bilateral talks between Saudi and Iranian officials in Beijing, mediated by China, resulted in an agreement to restore diplomatic ties that had been severed in 2016.
Recent changes in Saudi’s Foreign Policy
- Normalization of diplomatic ties with Iran.
- Saudi Arabia agrees to join SCO as a dialogue partner.
- Various reports suggest Russia mediating talks between Saudi and Syria.
- Saudi-Omani delegation to Yemen for permanent ceasefire with Houthis.
Why are these changes now?
- Saudi Arabia’s response to the Iran issue has shifted from strategic rivalry and proxy wars to tactical de-escalation and mutual coexistence.
- Recent regional wagers by the United Kingdom were either unsuccessful or partially successful in the cases of the Syrian Civil War and the Yemen Conflict.
- Concurrently, the United States is shifting its focus away from West Asia.
Is Saudi moving away from the U.S.?
- De-Americanizing West Asia is not a Saudi objective. Rather, it is attempting to take advantage of U.S. weakness in the region to establish its own autonomy by forging stronger ties with Russia and China and mending ties with regional powers without completely alienating the United States.
- With U.S. assistance, Saudi Arabia is also attempting to develop advanced missile and drone capabilities to counter Iran’s advantage in these areas.
- Saudi Arabia has collaborated with Russia twice since the outbreak of the Ukraine conflict to reduce oil production.
- It has strengthened trade and defence ties with China, and the Iran reconciliation deal, mediated by China, announced Beijing’s arrival as a power broker in West Asia.
- Saudi Arabia has placed orders for $35 billion worth of Boeing aircraft and entered into conditional talks with the U.S. on normalising relations with Israel.
What are the implications for the region?
- If Syria rejoins the Arab League, it would improve the overall relationship between Damascus and other Arab capitals.
- If the Saudis end the Yemen war through a settlement with Riyadh would get a calmer border.
Implications for the India and world
- It would aid in ending the Shia-Sunni ethnic conflict.
- It would assist India in maintaining a balance between regional powers in West Asia.
- Peace in regions such as Yemen and Syria would increase the market’s oil supply.
- It leads to a multipolar world in which China and Russia play an increasing role in west Asia.
- Peace in the Persian Gulf region would ensure the safety of the Indian diaspora.
|India-Saudi Arabia Bilateral Relations
· Political Relations:
· The establishment of diplomatic relations in 1947 was followed by high-level visits from both sides.
· The historic visit of King Abdullah to India in 2006 was a watershed moment that resulted in the signing of the ‘Delhi Declaration’, imparting a fresh momentum to the bilateral relationship.
· Commercial Relations:
• Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trade partner (after China, the United States, and Japan) and a major source of energy, as India imports approximately 18% of its crude oil requirements from the Kingdom.
• Saudi Arabia is also India’s primary source of liquefied petroleum gas.
• Bilateral trade was valued at US$29.28 billion in fiscal year 22.
• The value of India’s imports from Saudi Arabia was $22.65 billion, and the value of its exports to Saudi Arabia was $6.63 billion.
· Cultural Relations:
• In 2018, India participated as ‘Guest of Honour’ in the 32nd edition of the prestigious Saudi National Festival of Heritage and Culture.
• Yoga has been designated as a sport in Saudi Arabia.
• The Haj pilgrimage is an additional vital aspect of bilateral relations.
· Military exercise:
· AL – Mohed-AL – Hindi is India and Saudi Arabia’s first bilateral naval exercise.
· The approximately 2.2 million strong Indian community is the largest expatriate community in the Kingdom.
|What is a Dialogue Partner?
· Dialogue Partners refer to non-member sovereign states with a particular interest and/or capacity to contribute, especially in areas of shared interest.
• The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a Eurasian political, economic, international security, and defence organisation founded in 2001.It covers approximately 60% of Eurasia’s landmass, 40% of the world’s population, and more than 30% of global GDP, making it the world’s largest regional organisation in terms of geographic reach and population.The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is currently composed of eight Member States (China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan), four Observer States seeking full membership (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia), and nine “Dialogue Partners”.
• The Shanghai Cooperation Organization has focused primarily on regional security issues, its fight against regional terrorism, ethnic separatism, and religious extremism. Regional development is a priority of the SCO.
• Since 2005, the SCO has been an observer in the UN General Assembly.
Bridge of Interlanguage
Tags: GS 2, India & Foreign Relations
- The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) has conceived of a unique initiative entitled The Language Friendship Bridge.
Language Friendship Bridge
- The ICCR will establish a pool of ten language specialists from India’s neighbours and other nations that share a cultural heritage with India.
- India intends to increase its cultural influence in countries with which it has historical ties, including its immediate neighbours.
- Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan and Indonesia to facilitate better people-to-people exchanges.
- Kazakh, Uzbek, Bhutanese, Ghoti (spoken in Tibet), Burmese, Khmer (spoken in Cambodia), Thai, Sinhalese and Bahasa (spoken in both Indonesia and Malaysia).
- ICCR plans to train five to 10 people in the official languages of these countries and plans to roll out the project by this year.
- University consultations:
- ICCR is in discussion with universities and institutes as well as experts offering foreign language courses in the country on the modalities of implementing the project.
- Two possibilities to rollout the project:
- One is to institute tie-ups wherein teachers from these countries come and teach courses in India.
- The second approach is ICCR offering scholarships to Indian students to go and study these languages in the countries where they are spoken.
Need & Significance for the Project
- Until recently, the primary focus of language learning in India was on European languages such as Spanish, French, and German, as well as the languages of major Asian economies such as China and Japan.
- India needs translators, interpreters, and instructors in the languages of nations with which it shares a common cultural heritage.
- A large number of people from Turkey, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and the Maldives travel to India for medical treatment, and there is an urgent need for a pool of translators and interpreters to facilitate their visits.
- Experts believe that the ICCR’s list of languages should be expanded due to the expansion of India’s cultural and economic ties with its neighbouring countries.
|Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR)
· Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) Founded in 1950 by India’s first Education Minister, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.It is an independent agency within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
· Its goals are to actively participate in the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes pertaining to India’s external cultural relations; to foster and strengthen cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and other countries; to promote cultural exchanges with other countries and individuals; and to develop relations with nations.
The Arikompan Mission
Tags: GS 3, Conservation Biodiversity and Environment
- Mission Arikompan may be delayed because the Kerala Forest Department has not yet acquired a satellite radio collar.
What is Mission Arikompan?
- The forest department has launched “Mission Arikompan,” an operation to capture the escaped elephant named Arikompan.The forest department has devised a plan to tranquillize it and train it as a ‘kumki’, an elephant used in operations against wild elephants.
Parambikulam Tiger Reserve
- The Parambikulam Tiger Reserve is located in the districts of Palakkad and Thrissur in Kerala.
- It is situated in the Sungam range of hills between the Anaimalai and Nelliyampathy hills.
- The Western Ghats, Anaimalai Sub-Cluster, which includes the entire Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary, has been designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.
- The Tiger Reserve is home to four distinct indigenous tribes, including the Kadar, Malasar, Muduvar, and Mala Malasar.
- Wildlife experts refer to this sanctuary as the “state capital for the enormous gaur.”