Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Current Affairs – 17th July 2023



Today Topics List:

  1. Heat waves across Globe

  2. Lightning is not a Natural Disaster

  3. Women still minority at IITs

  4. UK signs up to Trans Pacific trading bloc

  5. Army troops for bilateral exercise in Ulaanbaatar

  6. PSLV – C 56

  7. Coral Bleaching

  8. Purana Cheevada



Heat waves across Globe

    • The Scorching weather gripped three continents, whipping up wildfires and threatening to topple temperature records across Asia, Europe and USA.
      • Japan issued heatstroke alert in 20 of its 47 prefectures.
      • US National Weather services reported , a powerful heatwave stretching from California to Texas was expected to witness its peak.
      • California’s Death Valley, often among the hottest places on Earth is likely to register new peaks, with mercury possibly surpassing 54 degrees celcius.
      • Southern California is fighting numerous wild fires.
      • In Europe, Italians were warned to prepare for the most intense heatwave of the summer and also one of the most intense of all time.

Lightning is not a Natural Disaster

        • The Union government is not in favour of declaring lightning as a natural disaste.
          • Government’s contention is that, deaths caused by it can be prevented by making people aware of safety steps.
          • India is among the only five countries in the world that has an early warning system for lightning.
          • The forecast in India is available from five days to up to three hours.

Lightning as Natural Disaster:

  • The states such as Bihar and West Bengal have been demanding that lightning deaths be covered as a natural disaster.
    • Such a notification will lead to the entitlement of compensation from state disaster response fund (SDRF) to the victims.
    • Cyclone, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, tsunami, hailstorm, landslip, avalanche, cloudburst, pest attack, frost and cold wave are now considered disasters under SDRF.

The Case of Bihar:

  • Bihar is one of the most vulnerable states and as many as 107 had died after being struck by lightning till July 6th.
    • In the past five years. There has been a spurt in deaths due to lightning. It is possible that Climate change is one of the reasons.
    • 1500 deaths in the past five years, with more than 100 deaths on a single day on June 25 2020.
  • It is being said that timely alerts were sent out to people and pamphlets were distributed at the Panchayat level to make aware of the dangers associated with lightning.
    • But, during the peak farming season, sometimes people tend to ignore warnings.
    • Some of them are receptive but it is the poorest who bear the burnt.

Data on Lightning – India:

  • National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data shows that 2,880 people died in lightning strikes in 2021.
    • The number stands at 2,862 in 2020 and 2,876 in 2019.
    • There has been an increase in the proportion of such deaths compared with the total accident deaths caused by events related to nature.
    • For instance, in 2003, deaths from lightning made up just 0.2% of the total deaths caused by force of nature.
  • The frequency of lightning was highest in northwestern States and in West Bengal, Sikkim, Jharkhand, Odisha and Bihar.
    • But deaths were higher in Central Indian states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chattisgarh and Odisha.



Women still minority at IITs

    • Preeti Aghalyam, first woman to become the Director of an Indian Institute of Technology said that women were still a minority on the campuses.
    • While the first IIT was set up at Kharagpur in 1951, it was after seven decades that a woman has been appointed head of the prestigious institute.
    • She was appointed Director of IIT – Zanzibar in Tanzania, set up by IIT Madras, the first country in the country to launch an international campus.
      • Her appointment comes at a time when several IITs have been making efforts to improve the skewed gender ratio on campus.
      • She says, “ it is a fact that women have been a minority at IITs. Things have improved a bit in the past few years but the problem still exists at both students and faculty level.
      • The problem is not about the gender inclusivity on campuses but about the whole perception around technology institutions”.
    • Engineering colleges in India have come a long way since the 1990s when the ration of men and women enrolment was 10:1.
      • This reduced to 7:1 in early 2000s and to 4:1 in the mid and late 2000s.
      • It deteriorated further in 2014 when most of the IITs had anywhere between 5% and 12% of women population in campuses.



UK signs up to Trans Pacific trading bloc

    • UK government hailed its biggest trade deal since Brexit, as it formally signed a treaty to join a major Indo – Pacific bloc.
      • It signed the accession protocol for Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in New Zealand.
      • It Makes UK the first new member and first European nation to join the bloc.

CPTPP was formed in 2018, and it consists of countries such as,

  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Brunei
  • Chile,
  • Malaysia,
  • Mexico
  • Peru
  • Singapore



  • Army troops for bilateral exercise in Ulaanbaatar
    • Indian and Mongolian troops will take part in the 15th edition of a bilateral military exercise in Ulaanbaatar from July 17 to 31.
      • This exercise is named “Nordic Elephan”
      • It is aimed at exchanging best practices and developing interoperability and also to build positive military relations, bonhomie and camaraderie and friendship between the two armies.
    • The Primary theme of the exercise will focus on Counter terrorism operations in mountainous terrain under United Nations mandate.

Nordic Elephant:

  • It is an annual training exercise that is conducted alternatively in Mongolia and India.
    • Soldiers of the Mongolian army unit 084 and the Indian Army’s Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry Regiment will participate in the exercise.



PSLV – C 56

    • ISRO – Indian Space Research organisation will be back with another important launch from Sri Harikota later this month.
    • The Polar Satellite launch Vehicle – C 56 mission is expected to take place on 26th of July.
      • In this mission ISRO will be using a “core alone” variant of PSLV.
      • It is a commercial mission with seven payloads in all including 351.9 kg earth observation satellite – DS-SAR (Synthetic Aperture radar) from Singapore.
      • The others are Arcade , Velox- AM and Orb- 12 Strider.
      • Remaining three are nano satellites weighing less than 10 kg each. They are, Galassia -2 ; SCOOB – II and NuLIon.
      • These satellites will be place in low earth orbit.



Coral Bleaching

    • Record temperatures across the world have left animals, including humans in dire situations. Of them, Corals are particularly vulnerable.
      • Corals become vulnerable when the water around them becomes too warm, when they are susceptible to bleaching.
      • Bleaching is a phenomenon in which corals lose their vibrant colours and turn white.
      • This is an indicator of the quality or physical environment of the water surrounding them.
    • Most corals are home to a type of algae called Zooxanthellae.
      • It is Zooxanthellae which gives colours to corals as well as have symbiotic relationship with them.
      • They provide amino acids and sugars and receive many minerals and Carbon dioxide in return.
    • When there is a change in Ocean (environment), such as rise is temperature beyond a point, it becomes too acidic, or it becomes too bright – The zooxanthellae living within coral leaves.
      • Hence the corals fades until it appears to have been bleached.
      • If the Corals continue to be stressed, they won’t welcome the algae back and eventually die.
    • There are other stressors that include low tides and water pollution as well as ecosystem changes brought by Climate crisis.

             Bleaching is not always a death Knell. Some colonies have been known to survive a bleaching event, like the famous Iriomote Island of Japan, which bleached in 2016 but showed signs of recovery in 2020.


Purana Cheevada

    • A ‘foreign’ cicada that is commonly found in several parts of South India has assumed an Indian identity.
      • The insect species that has now been named Purana cheeveeda (after its Malayalam name Cheeveed) used to be mistaken for Purana tigrina,
      • Purana Tigrina was first described in Malaysia in 1850.
    • In view of the differences in their morphological characteristic, the Association for Advancement in Entomology has corrected the longstanding error in taxonomic identification and has excluded the Malaysian species from the South Indian cicada fauna. 
    • The ‘discovery’ that involved correcting the mistaken identity was undertaken by a research team led by Travancore Nature History Society research associate Kalesh Sadasivan.
    • The researchers in Kerala chanced upon the ‘discovery’ after observing differences in the structure of the male genitalia and operculum. 
      • Once a common sight in homesteads, their gradual disappearance could be an indicator of the deteriorating quality of soil and vegetation, they cautioned.

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