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Prelims Booster

19th October – Prelims Booster

Hyderabad Rains

Recently, three days of extremely heavy rainfall led to massive floods were witnessed in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Hyderabad recorded its rainiest day in 117 years, flooding over 20,000 houses.

This was caused by a weather that formed in the Bay of Bengal, hit the east coast and moved westward, weakening on the way. Later, it re-emerged in the Arabian Sea and is set to intensify further as it moves farther into the sea.

Why it was so severe?

  • Normally, cyclones lose steam upon making their landfall. This particular system, however, clocked a long east-west track cutting across Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, north-interior Karnataka and Maharashtra.
  • All these states experienced above-normal rain during the recent monsoon season. As a result, the soil in these regions has retained significant moisture content… The high moisture availability even on land propagated this large embedded system all along its path so far.
  • In addition, vertical wind shear — the result of a significant difference in wind speed between higher and lower atmospheric levels — helped the system maintain its intensity as a deep depression or a well-marked low pressure area even on land.
  • There are two seasons — March-May and October-December — when cyclones or depressions form in the North Indian Ocean (the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal). The latter season witnesses four of the five cyclones that form over this region every year. Thus, the formation of the present depression or low pressure system is common.
  • In fact, stronger systems — Cyclones Phailin (2013) and Hudhud (2014) — formed in the Bay of Bengal had made their landfall in October, when the withdrawal of the southwest monsoon was still in progress.

Global Hunger Index 2020

India has the highest prevalence of wasted children under five years in the world, which reflects acute undernutrition, according to the Global Hunger Index 2020. The situation has worsened in the 2015-19 period, when the prevalence of child wasting was 17.3%, in comparison to 2010-14, when it was 15.1%.

Findings of the report –

  • Overall, India ranks 94 out of 107 countries in the Index, lower than neighbours such as Bangladesh (75) and Pakistan (88).
  • 2020 scores reflect data from 2015-19. The Index is a peer-reviewed report released annually by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe.
  • It uses four parameters to determine its scores. India fares worst in child wasting (low weight for height, reflecting acute undernutrition) and child stunting (low height for age, reflecting chronic undernutrition), which together make up a third of the total score.
  • Although it is still in the poorest category, however, child stunting has actually improved significantly, from 54% in 2000 to less than 35% now. Child wasting, on the other hand, has not improved in the last two decades, and is rather worse than it was decade ago.
  • India has improved in both child mortality rates, which are now at 3.7%, and in terms of undernourishment, with about 14% of the total population which gets an insufficient caloric intake.
  • In the region of south, east and south-eastern Asia, the only countries which fare worse than India are Timor-Leste, Afghanistan and North Korea.

What is GHI?

  • It is jointly published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe.
  • It was first produced in 2006. It is published every October. The 2020 edition marks the 15th edition of the GHI.
  • GHI considers four parameters to for ranking countries –
    • Undernourishment: share of the population that is undernourished, reflecting insufficient caloric intake;
    • Child wasting: share of children under the age of five who are wasted (low weight-for-height), reflecting acute under-nutrition;
    • Child stunting: share of children under the age of five who are stunted (low height-for-age), reflecting chronic under-nutrition; and
    • Child mortality: mortality rate of children under age five

India is expected to see a growth of 16.5 per cent in population over the next decade. If our young population should be an asset for the country, they should certainly be healthy, and poor GHI is never a good sign.

Reasons for increased hunger in India –

  • Gender inequality is one of the prime contributors. Typically, women in many societies consume food after the men consume.
  • Child undernutrition is directly linked to mother’s diet during her pregnancy or immediately post-delivery. Starting from the time the child is in the mother’s womb, if for the first 1,000 days the child experiences malnutrition, the child will experience serious health complications at different stages in life. Inadequate weight and stunted height are generally a consequence of poverty and lack of access to nutritious food.
  • It is unfortunate that 30 per cent food gets wasted and billions go to bed hungry. Food security is not just about sufficiency of food, it is also about the appropriateness of the food from a nutrition standpoint.

What should be done?

  • Listen to the voices unheard. Small farmers, farm labour and urban poor should also form part of the policies affecting food security.
  • The Government should have the humility to see the realities from the field, listen to critics and learn from mistakes. Integral to this is freedom of assembly and association, including peaceful protest, and the right to information
  • Prioritisation: Like any corporate, the Government should also have key performance indicators and they should be linked largely to achieving sustainable development goals.
  • Education and social safety nets: Improving education is a key focus area. Governments must focus on income security for marginalised segments and provide them with meaningful nutrition and healthcare.

New START Treaty

President Vladimir Putin has proposed a one-year extension without conditions of the last major nuclear arms reduction accord between Russia and the US.

About the New START Treaty –

  • The New START deal was signed in April 2010 but went into force in February 2011. It lasts for ten years but with a possible extension.
  • The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) pact limits the number of deployed nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers and is due to expire in 2021 unless renewed.
  • The treaty limits the US and Russia to a maximum of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, well below Cold War caps.
  • It was signed in 2010 by former US President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
  • It is one of the key controls on superpower deployment of nuclear weapons.

Why extension is being sought?

President Putin is seeking to extend the current agreement without any pre-conditions at least for one year to have an opportunity to conduct substantial negotiations.

Anti-Tank Guided Missile

The indigenously developed laser-guided version of the Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) was successfully test fired by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) recently and will undergo more validation tests in coming days before it is ready for the user trials.

Background –

  • The development of ammunition that can pierce the armours of tanks and the material that can withstand such ammo has been an ongoing race since World War I. But it wasn’t until the next World War that armies across the world began to use the ATGMs, missile systems that can strike and neutralise armoured vehicles such as tanks.
  • While Indian Army mainly uses various imported anti-tank guided missiles, the DRDO has been working on ATGMs that can be launched from different platforms as part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.
  • The indigenously developed low weight, fire and forget Man Portable Anti Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM) was successfully tested in September 2019. In February 2018, ATGM Nag was successfully tested in desert conditions. In the meantime, the government said in December 2019 that it has procured Anti-Tank Spike Missiles from Israel along with the allied systems to meet operational requirements of the Indian Army.

How are laser-guided ATGMs different?

  • The laser-guided ATGM, which was successfully tested recently, mainly differs in one aspect from other ATGMS developed till date. This ATGM is designed to be fired from tanks.
  • With its range limited to 1.5 to 5 kilometres, it locks and tracks the targets with the help of laser designation to ensure precision in striking the target.
  • The missile uses a ‘tandem’ High Explosive Anti Tank (HEAT) warhead. The term tandem refers to the missiles using more than one detonation in order to effectively penetrate the protective armours. This missile has the capacity of piercing armoured vehicles which use specially designed armour plates to counter the impact of such projectiles.
  • This missile is currently undergoing tests to be integrated with India’s Main Battle Tank (MBT), Arjun.

Importance in armoured warfare –

  • The role of armoured and mechanised vehicles has remained decisive even in modern day warfare because of their ability to go past conventional defences.
  • Tank battles are generally fought in a close range of under five kilometres. The objective is to hit the enemy tank before they can take a clear shot. Development of missile systems that can defeat tanks built using modern armour act as a deterrent against enemy tanks from advancing.
  • The operability of the missile from a tank is a key feature in armoured warfare. The missile has the capability of engaging with the target even if it is not in the line of sight, thus further enhancing its capability.

India’s first sea aeroplane project

The first of the five seaplane services in Gujarat, connecting Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad to the Statue of Unity in Kevadia in Narmada District, will be inaugurated on October 31, the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

What is India’s first seaplane project?

  • The first seaplane project of the country is part of a directive of the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation. As per the directive, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) requested state governments of Gujarat, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and the administration of Andaman & Nicobar to propose potential locations for setting up water aerodromes to boost the tourism sector.
  • A seaplane is a fixed-winged aeroplane designed for taking off and landing on water. It offers the public the speed of an aeroplane with the utility of a boat.
  • There are two main types of seaplane: flying boats (often called hull seaplanes) and floatplanes. The bottom of a flying boat’s fuselage is its main landing gear. This is usually supplemented with smaller floats near the wingtips, called wing or tip floats.
  • The hull of a flying boat holds the crew, passengers, and cargo; it has many features in common with the hull of a ship or a boat.

SLINEX 2020

The Eighth Edition of annual Indian Navy (IN) – Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) bilateral maritime exercise SLINEX-20 was held recently.

Details –

  • SLINEX-20 aims to enhance inter-operability, improve mutual understanding and exchange best practices and procedures for multi-faceted maritime operations between both navies.
  • In addition, the exercise showcased capabilities of our indigenously constructed naval ships and aircraft. Surface and anti-air exercises including weapon firing, seamanship evolutions, manoeuvres and cross deck flying operations were held during the exercise, which will further enhance the high degree of inter-operability already established between the two friendly navies.
  • SLINEX series of exercise exemplifies the deep engagement between India and Sri Lanka which has strengthened mutual cooperation in the maritime domain.

MCQs

1. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the ‘Global Hunger Index’?

  1. It is released annually by the World Bank in collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Organisation.
  2. India ranks poorly than its neighbours such as Bangladesh and Pakistan in the index.
  3. In the 2020 edition, India failed to deliver on all four parameters which is why it has been ranked 94 out of 107 countries in the index.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. 3 only

Answer – B

Explanation – Global Hunger Index is jointly published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe. It was first produced in 2006. It is published every October. The 2020 edition marks the 15th edition of the GHI. Overall, India ranks 94 out of 107 countries in the Index, lower than neighbours such as Bangladesh (75) and Pakistan (88). GHI uses four parameters to determine its scores. India fares worst in child wasting (low weight for height, reflecting acute undernutrition) and child stunting (low height for age, reflecting chronic undernutrition), which together make up a third of the total score. Although it is still in the poorest category, however, child stunting has actually improved significantly, from 54% in 2000 to less than 35% now. Child wasting, on the other hand, has not improved in the last two decades, and is rather worse than it was decade ago. India has improved in both child mortality rates, which are now at 3.7%, and in terms of undernourishment, with about 14% of the total population which gets an insufficient caloric intake.

2. Which of the following is/are the correct statements?

  1. Child wasting refers to the share of children under the age of five who are wasted i.e. low height for age.
  2. Child stunting refers to the share of children under the age of five who are stunted i.e. low weight for height.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer – D

ExplanationUndernourishment: share of the population that is undernourished, reflecting insufficient caloric intake; Child wasting: share of children under the age of five who are wasted (low weight-for-height), reflecting acute under-nutrition; Child stunting: share of children under the age of five who are stunted (low height-for-age), reflecting chronic under-nutrition; and Child mortality: mortality rate of children under age five.

3. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the ‘New START Treaty’?

  1. It was signed in the year between the US and the USSR in the year 1971 to limit the number of deployed nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers.
  2. The treaty is set to expire in the year 2021 unless renewed.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer – B

Explanation – The New START deal was signed in April 2010 but went into force in February 2011. It lasts for ten years but with a possible extension. The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) pact limits the number of deployed nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers and is due to expire in 2021 unless renewed. The treaty limits the US and Russia to a maximum of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, well below Cold War caps. It was signed in 2010 by former US President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. It is one of the key controls on superpower deployment of nuclear weapons.

4. ‘Nag’ and ‘Spike’ missiles are –

  1. Anti-radiation missiles
  2. Hypersonic cruise missiles
  3. Anti-tank Guided missiles
  4. None of the above

Answer – C

Explanation – The indigenously developed low weight, fire and forget Man Portable Anti Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM) was successfully tested in September 2019. In February 2018, ATGM Nag was successfully tested in desert conditions. In the meantime, the government said in December 2019 that it has procured Anti-Tank Spike Missiles from Israel along with the allied systems to meet operational requirements of the Indian Army.

5. ‘SLINEX 2020’ was a joint India-Sri Lanka bilateral –

  1. Anti-terrorist operations exercise
  2. Naval exercise
  3. Army exercise
  4. Air Force exercise

Answer – B

Explanation – The Eighth Edition of annual Indian Navy (IN) – Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) bilateral maritime exercise SLINEX-20 was held recently. SLINEX-20 aims to enhance inter-operability, improve mutual understanding and exchange best practices and procedures for multi-faceted maritime operations between both navies.

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