Table of Contents
TAG: GS 1: GEOGRAPHY
THE CONTEXT: According to the latest El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) update from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the ongoing El Nino event in the equatorial Pacific Ocean may continue into April 2024 and peak between November and January.
WHAT CAN BE ITS POTENTIAL IMPACTS ON GLOBAL WEATHER PATTERNS?
- Global Temperature Impact:
- The El Nino event may contribute to a further rise in global average temperatures.
- The world has already experienced warmer than normal temperatures in 2023, and it is on track to become the warmest year since pre-industrial times.
- The El Nino’s impact on global temperatures typically plays out in the year following its development, in this case, in 2024.
- Extreme Weather Events:
- El Nino is associated with disrupting major weather systems and causing extreme weather events such as heatwaves, wildfires, and droughts.
- The potential continuation of El Nino may lead to more extreme weather events globally.
- Impact on India:
- For India, the El Nino may result in a warmer-than-normal winter season in most regions and a stormier-than-normal pre-monsoon season for northwest India.
- El Nino can disrupt the Indian summer monsoon, and its effects on India’s weather are closely monitored.
- Record-Breaking Temperatures:
- The global average annual temperature may temporarily breach the 1.5°C mark set in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
- Record-breaking temperatures have already been observed in July, August, September, and October of the current year.
- Regional Rainfall Patterns:
- El Nino’s peak may bring above-normal rainfall to specific regions, including the Greater Horn of Africa, Parana/La Plata basin in South America, Southeast North America, and parts of central and eastern Asia.
- Some regions, such as northern South America, Australia, Indonesia, Borneo, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines, may experience below-normal rainfall.
- The El Nino developed quickly during July-August 2023 and reached moderate levels by September.
- Based on historical patterns and long-range predictions, it is anticipated to gradually diminish during the forthcoming boreal spring.
- Climate scientists emphasize the role of increasing concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases from human activities in contributing to rising temperatures.
- Monsoon Outlook:
- There is an uncertainty about the next year’s monsoon, depending on whether the El Nino transitions to a La Nina and its strength.
- A La Nina event in the Pacific could lead to normal to excess monsoon rainfall.
- El Nino was first recognized by Peruvian fishermen off the coast of Peru as the appearance of unusually warm water.
- The Spanish immigrants called it El Nino, meaning “the little boy” in Spanish.
- The El Nino is the warmer-than-normal phase of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon, during which there are generally warmer temperatures and less rainfall than normal in many regions of the world, including India.
- During an El Nino event, the Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) in the equatorial Pacific Ocean off the northern coast of South America became at least 0.5 degrees Celsius warmer than the long-term average.
- In the case of a strong El Nino event as occurred in 2015-2016, anomalies can reach as high as 3°C, which is a record.
- The El Nino event is not a regular cycle, they are not predictable and occur irregularly at two- to seven-year intervals.
- Climatologists determined that El Nino occurs simultaneously with the Southern Oscillation.
- The Southern Oscillation is a change in air pressure over the tropical Pacific Ocean.
2. 2+2 MINISTERIAL DIALOGUE
TAG: GS 2: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
THE CONTEXT: U.S. Secretary of Defence Lloyd J. Austin is visiting India for the 2+2 Ministerial dialogue.
- The visit is for the 2+2 Ministerial dialogue, involving the U.S. Secretary of Defence, U.S. Secretary of State, India’s Defence Minister, and Minister of External Affairs.
- The discussions are expected to cover various issues, with a particular focus on the recent attacks in Israel by Hamas and tensions in West Asia.
- Secretary Austin had previously visited India in June 2023 and held talks with Defence Minister.
- The current visit follows up on earlier discussions and demonstrates ongoing engagement between the two countries.
AGENDA OF THE DIALOGUE:
- The dialogue is expected to cover strategic, defence, and technology issues, reflecting the depth of the India-U.S. partnership.
- Two major defence deals are in progress:
- the acquisition of 31 MQ-9B drones and
- the manufacture of General Electric F-414 jet engines in India for the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft-MK2.
- The deals are anticipated to be concluded early next year.
- The dialogue will include discussions on contemporary regional issues and shared priorities for cooperation in multilateral platforms, including the Quad framework.
REVIEW OF COOPERATION:
- The 2+2 dialogue provides an opportunity for a high-level review of progress in defence and security cooperation, technology collaborations, and people-to-people ties.
- It aligns with the futuristic roadmap for the India-U.S. partnership discussed by Prime Minister of India and President of U.S. in their previous meetings.
- India has invited President Joe Biden as the chief guest for the Republic Day parade on January 26, and a decision on the invitation is awaited.
What is the 2+2 Dialogue?
- 2+2 Ministerial is the highest-level institutional mechanism between the two countries.
- It is a format of dialogue where the defence/foreign ministers or secretaries meet with their counterparts from another country.
- India has 2+2 dialogues with four key strategic partners: the US, Australia, Japan, and Russia.
- Besides Russia, the other three countries are also India’s partners in the Quad.
3. APPOINTMENT TO THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
TAG: GS 2: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
THE CONTEXT: With the recent appointments to the Supreme Court of India, the SC attained its sanctioned capacity of 34 judges.
- Delhi High Court Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, Rajasthan High Court Chief Justice Augustine George Masih, and Gauhati High Court Chief Justice Sandeep Mehta have been appointed as Supreme Court judges.
- The appointments were made promptly, with the three judges sworn in within three days of the Supreme Court Collegium’s recommendation.
- With the addition of the three new judges, the Supreme Court has reached its sanctioned capacity of 34 judges.
- This development coincides with Chief Justice Chandrachud completing a year as the Chief Justice of India.
PENDENCY OF CASES:
- The National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) dashboard indicates that the pendency of cases in the Supreme Court is approaching 80,000.
- The Collegium, in its November 6 recommendation, expressed concerns about the perennial pendency.
- The collegium also emphasized the need to address the backlog by ensuring full working judge strength.
- The Collegium noted that the increasing pendency of cases has significantly increased the workload of judges.
- The resolution emphasized the necessity of maintaining full working judge strength to tackle the backlog effectively.
- Retirement and Future Judicial Strength:
- The Supreme Court will function with 34 judges until Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, the number two judge, retires on December 25, 2023.
- Justice Kaul’s has been vocal about the government’s “delaying tactics and pick-and-choose policy” while making judicial appointments.
- Collegium’s Considerations for Appointments:
- The appointments of the new judges reflect the Collegium’s consideration of both merit and seniority.
- Each appointee’s parent High Court and their seniority ranking in the all-India High Court judges list were factors in the decision.
- Speedy Appointment and Judicial Proceedings:
- The speedy appointment of the three judges followed closely after Justice Kaul’s reminder to the Attorney General about the Collegium’s recommendation.
- Justice Kaul’s bench is repeatedly hearing a case related to government delays in the judicial appointment process.
- The Collegium system is a system for the appointment and transfer of judges in the Supreme Court and High Court.
- It is not rooted in the Constitution. Instead, it has evolved through judgments of the Supreme Court.
- Under the system, the Chief Justice of India (CJI), along with four senior-most Supreme Court judges, recommends the appointment and transfer of judges.
- A High Court Collegium, meanwhile, is led by the incumbent Chief Justice and the two seniormost judges of that court.
- The government can also raise objections and seek clarifications regarding the Collegium’s choices, but if the Collegium reiterates the same names, the government is bound to appoint them to the post.
CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS FOR JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS:
- Article 124: Supreme Court judges should be appointed by the President after consultation with such judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court as the President may deem necessary. The CJI is to be consulted in all appointments except his or her own.
- Article 217: High Court judges should be appointed by the President after consultation with the CJI and the Governor of the state. The Chief Justice of the High Court concerned too should be consulted.
4. CENTRAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (CBI)
TAG: GS 2: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
THE CONTEXT: The Union government asserted before the Supreme Court that the CBI is an independent agency, not a limb of the Centre.
- The Union government presented its argument in response to a suit filed by the State of West Bengal against the Centre.
- West Bengal alleged that the CBI was investigating and registering FIRs in the state without obtaining prior consent from the state government.
INDEPENDENCE OF CBI:
- The Union government, represented by Solicitor General, emphasized that the CBI is an independent agency.
- It clarified that the CBI is not under the control of the Centre.
- It operates as a statutory body under the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act.
ARTICLE 131 SUIT:
- The Union government argued that the original suit filed by West Bengal under Article 131 of the Constitution, which deals with disputes between the Union and states, was not maintainable.
- It asserted that the Centre has no influence over the CBI’s decisions in investigative matters and that the suit should be dismissed.
- The Solicitor General stated that the CBI acts on its own terms, and the Centre does not control its decisions in the registration, investigation, and prosecution of cases.
- It was mentioned that even the Central Vigilance Commission, which has superintendence over the CBI, does not exert influence over the agency’s investigations.
Jurisdiction of CBI:
- A Senior advocate representing West Bengal, argued that the case was not about the Centre’s influence over the CBI but focused on the jurisdiction of the CBI to investigate cases in a state that has withdrawn consent.
- He called out the Centre’s contention that only a central agency could investigate offenses outlined in a Union law a “preposterous proposition.”
Withdrawal of Consent:
- West Bengal contended that the CBI’s power to investigate offenses in other states under Section 5 of the DSPE Act requires express consent from the state under Section 6.
- The state highlighted its withdrawal of consent through a specific notification issued in 2018.
- West Bengal argued that the state is not challenging the FIRs but questioning how the CBI could ignore the state’s specific notification withdrawing consent.
Post-Poll Violence Cases:
- The CBI has filed multiple FIRs related to post-poll violence in West Bengal.
- The Union government mentioned in an affidavit that these cases also involve offenses of corruption against Central government employees.
- The legal arguments have been presented by both the Union government and the State of West Bengal regarding the autonomy and jurisdiction of the CBI in the context of the ongoing legal dispute.
- Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the premier investigating police agency in India.
- It provides assistance to the Central Vigilance Commission and Lokpal.
- It functions under the superintendence of the Dept. of Personnel, Ministry of Personnel, Pension & Public Grievances, Government of India – which falls under the prime minister’s office.
- However, for investigations of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, its superintendence vests with the Central Vigilance Commission.
- It is also the nodal police agency in India which coordinates investigation on behalf of Interpol Member countries.
- Its conviction rate is as high as 65 to 70% and it is comparable to the best investigation agencies in the world.
5. FIVE-HUNDRED APERTURE SPHERICAL TELESCOPE (FAST)
TAG: GS 3: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
THE CONTEXT: Recently, astronomers from China and Australia have discovered five new pulsars using the Five-hundred Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST).
FIVE-HUNDRED APERTURE SPHERICAL TELESCOPE (FAST)
- It is a radio telescope in China’s Guizhou Province.
- It is the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope, with a receiving area equivalent to 30 football fields.
- It measures 500 meters in diameter.
- Detect neutral hydrogen at the edge of the universe; reconstruct the images of the early universe;
- Discover pulsars, establish a pulsar timing array, and participate in pulsar navigation and gravitational wave detection in the future;
- Join the International Very-Long-Baseline Interferometry Network to obtain hyperfine structures of celestial bodies;
- Perform high resolution radio spectral survey and detect weak space signals;
- Participate in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence;
- FAST uses a data system developed at ICRAR (International Center for Radio Astronomy) in Perth, Australia, and at ESO (European Southern Observatory) to manage the huge amounts of data it generates.
- Pulsars are rapidly rotating neutron stars that blast out pulses of radiation at regular intervals ranging from seconds to milliseconds.
- Pulsars have strong magnetic fields that funnel particles along their magnetic poles, accelerating them to relativistic speeds, which produce two powerful beams of light, one from each pole.
- Because the poles of the magnetic field aren’t aligned with the axis of spin of the pulsar, the beams of particles and the light they produce are swept around as the pulsar rotates.
- The periodicity of pulsars is caused by these beams of light crossing the line of sight on Earth, with the pulsar appearing to ‘switch off’ at points when the light is facing away from us.
- The time between these pulses is the ‘period’ of the pulsar.
- When a massive star explodes as a supernova at the end of its life, its core can collapse into a tiny and superdense object with not much more than our sun’s mass.
- These small, incredibly dense cores of exploded stars are neutron stars.