3rd November 2020

Typhoon Goni: Philippines hit by year’s most powerful storm

Recently, Typhoon Goni has made landfall in the eastern Philippines.

  • The Philippines is used to powerful storms – it is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons a year.
  • Goni – known as Rolly in the Philippines – is the most powerful storm to hit the country since Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,000 people in 2013.
    • In fact, Typhoon Goni is the world’s strongest Typhoon in 2020.
  • Last week, the Philippines was hit by Typhoon Molave.
  • Another storm, Atsani, is gaining strength in the Pacific Ocean as it approaches the Philippines.
  • Typhoon is a regionally specific name for a strong “tropical cyclone”.
    • Tropical cyclones are known as ‘typhoons’ in the northwest pacific ocean, hurricanes in the North Atlantic Ocean, Willy-willies in north-western Australia and Tropical Cyclones in the Indian Ocean Region.
  • A tropical cyclone is a generic term used by meteorologists to describe a rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates over tropical or subtropical waters and has closed, low-level circulation.
    • Tropical cyclones rotate counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere.
    • These are measured by the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
  • Naming of Typhoons: The Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) Tokyo – Typhoon Centre assigns a tropical cyclone a name from the five lists. The name ‘Goni’ is contributed by South Korea.


Indian Naval Ship ‘Airavat’ reaches Port Sudan under ‘Mission Sagar-II’

As part of ‘Mission Sagar-II’, the Government of India is providing assistance to Friendly Foreign Countries to overcome natural calamities and Covid-19 pandemic.

  • Towards the same INS Airavat is delivering food aid for the people of Sudan.
  • Mission Sagar-II, follows the first ‘Mission Sagar’ undertaken in 2020.
  • As part of Mission Sagar-II, Indian Naval Ship Airavat will deliver food aid to Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea.
  • Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles along with La Réunion are part of Indian Ocean CommissionIndia has recently become an observer to the Commission.
  • The assistance is in line with India’s role as the first responder in the Indian Ocean region.
  • The deployment is also in consonance with the Prime Minister’s vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR)
  • Earlier, India had sent Indian Naval Ship (INS) Kesari, carrying food items and medical assistance teams, to countries in the southern Indian Ocean to deal with Covid-19 pandemic as part of a “Mission Sagar” initiative.
  • Strategic Significance of the Island Countries:
    • The strategic importance of these island nations is highlighted by their location along key Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs).
    • These islands are vital and can facilitate a navy’s continuous presence along key international shipping routes, allowing a navy to patrol and secure SLOCs during peace times and an option to interdict and cut off an adversary’s communications during times of conflict.
  • Other Related Initiatives:
    • India on the 65th anniversary of the landmark Bandung Conference emphasized that members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) must work to reduce the socio-economic impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable sections of society and promote South-South cooperation.
    • In the wake of the global pandemic, the International Solar Alliance (ISA) responded by setting up ISA CARES (like PM-CARES in India), an initiative dedicated to the deployment of solar energy in the healthcare sector.
    • With Covid-19 and trade tensions between China and the United States are threatening supply chains, Japan has mooted the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) as a trilateral approach to trade, with India and Australia as the key-partners.
    • The Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness for Innovation (CEPI), a global initiative, has named Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), Faridabad as one of the six laboratories for assessing Covid-19 vaccine candidates that are under development
    • India has contributed 10 million USD to SAARC Covid-19 Emergency Fund and manufactured essential drugs, Covid protection and testing kits, for countries in the SAARC region (Eg. Operation Sanjeevani for Maldives).


  • Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) was launched in 2015. It is India’s strategic vision for the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
  • Through SAGAR, India seeks to deepen economic and security cooperation with its maritime neighbours and assist in building their maritime security capabilities.
  • Further, India seeks to safeguard its national interests and ensure Indian Ocean region to become inclusive, collaborative and respect international law.
  • The key relevance of SAGAR emerges when seen in conjunction with India’s other policies impacting the maritime domain like Act East PolicyProject SagarmalaProject Mausam, India as ‘net security provider’, focus on Blue Economy etc.

Other Important Groupings Associated with Indian Ocean Region

  • Indian Ocean Rim Association: The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) was established in 1997.
    • It is aimed at strengthening regional cooperation and sustainable development within the Indian Ocean region.
  • Indian Ocean Naval Symposium: The ‘Indian Ocean Naval Symposium’ (IONS) is a voluntary initiative that seeks to increase maritime cooperation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region by providing an open and inclusive forum for discussion of regionally relevant maritime issues.
  • Indian Ocean Commission: Recently, India has been approved as an observer of the Indian Ocean Commission, the inter-governmental organization that coordinates maritime governance in the south-western Indian Ocean.
  • Asia Africa Growth Corridor: The idea of Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) emerged in the joint declaration issued by India and Japan in 2016.
    • The AAGC is raised on four pillars of Development and Cooperation Projects, Quality Infrastructure and Institutional Connectivity, Enhancing Capacities and Skills and People-to-People partnership.


Central government to extend the fortified rice scheme to 112 districts

In order to fight chronic anaemia and undernutrition, the government is making plans to distribute fortified rice through the Integrated Child Development Services and Mid Day Meal Schemes across the country from the year 2021, with special focus on Aspirational districts.

  • This was decided in a review meeting of an existing pilot scheme which aims to distribute fortified rice in 15 districts.
  • Existing Scheme: The centrally-sponsored pilot scheme was approved in February 2019, for a three-year period from 2019-20 onwards. Under it, one district each in 15 predominantly rice-eating States was selected.
    • It was found that, out of 15 states only 5 — Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh — have started the distribution of fortified rice in their identified pilot districts.
    • In other words, the scheme has only been implemented in five districts so far, although more than half the project duration is over.
  • Renewed Push: The Food Corporation of India has now been mandated to scale up the annual supply of Fortified Rice Kernels (FRK) from the current 15,000 tonnes to at least 1.3 lakh tonnes.
    • To cover PDS, anganwadis and mid-day meals in the 112 aspirational districts, annual supply capacity would need to be increased to about 1.3 lakh tonnes.
    • Further, existing rice mills will be equipped with Blending Machines for mixing FRK with normal rice.
  • Other Related Initiatives:
    • Milk Fortification Project was launched by the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in collaboration with the World Bank and Tata Trusts, as a pilot project in 2017. It is intended to address vitamin deficiency in consumers.
    • Recently, the month of September was observed as Poshan Maah i.e. Nutrition month. It includes a month-long activities focussed on antenatal care, optimal breastfeeding, anaemia, growth monitoring, girls education, diet, right age of marriage, hygiene and sanitation and eating healthy (food fortification).

Fortified Rice Kernels

  • Fortifying rice involves grinding broken rice into powder, mixing it with nutrients, and then shaping it into rice-like kernels using an extrusion process.
  • These fortified kernels are then mixed with normal rice in a ratio ranging from 1:50 to 1:200.

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)

  • It was launched on 2nd October, 1975, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme offers a package of six services (Supplementary Nutrition, Pre-school non-formal education, Nutrition & health education, Immunization, Health check-up and Referral services) to children in the age group of 0-6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers.

Mid-day Meal Scheme

  • It was launched in 1995 as a centrally sponsored scheme.
  • It provides that every child within the age group of six to fourteen years studying in classes I to VIII who enrols and attends the school shall be provided with a hot cooked meal, free of charge every day except on school holidays.
  • The Mid Day Meal Scheme comes under the HRD Ministry’s Department of School Education and Literacy.

Aspirational Districts

  • The programme was launched in January 2018 with the aim of expeditiously improving the socio-economic status of 117 districts through cooperative and competitive federalism.
  • The Aspirational Districts programme aims to rapidly transform districts that have been showing relatively less progress in key social areas, and have emerged as pockets of under-development, thereby posing a challenge to balanced regional development.

Food Fortification

  • About: According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), food fortification is defined as the practice of deliberately increasing the content of essential micronutrients so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and to provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health.
  • Types: Food fortification can be done for foods widely consumed by the general population (mass fortification), to fortify foods designed for specific population subgroups, such as complementary foods for young children or rations for displaced populations (targeted fortification) and/or to allow food manufacturers to voluntarily fortify foods available in the marketplace (market-driven fortification).
  • Procedure: The extent to which a national or regional food supply is fortified varies considerably. The concentration of just one micronutrient might be increased in a single foodstuff (e.g. the iodization of salt), or, at the other end of the scale, there might be a whole range of food–micronutrient combinations.
  • In October 2016, Food Safety and Standards Authority Of India (FSSAI) operationalized the Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2016 for fortifying staples namely Wheat Flour and Rice (with Iron, Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid), Milk and Edible Oil (with Vitamins A and D) and Double Fortified Salt (with Iodine and Iron) to reduce the high burden of micronutrient malnutrition in India.
  • India’s National Nutritional strategy, 2017, had listed food fortification as one of the interventions to address anaemia, vitamin A and iodine deficiencies apart from supplementation and dietary diversification.


Cold wave conditions abate in Delhi as mercury rises slightly

As per the India Meteorological Department (IMD), there are cold wave conditions over Delhi.

  • Cold Wave: A rapid fall in temperature within 24 hours to a level requiring substantially increased protection to agriculture, industry, commerce, and social activities.
  • Cold Wave Conditions:
    • For the plains, a cold wave is declared when the minimum temperature is 10 degrees Celsius or below and is 4.5 degrees Celsius (C) less than normal for two consecutive days.
    • For coastal stations, the threshold value of minimum temperature of 10 degree Celsius is rarely reached. However, the local people feel discomfort due to the wind chill factor which reduces the minimum temperature by a few degrees depending upon the wind speed.
      • wind chill factor is a measure of the cooling effect of the wind on the temperature of the air.
  • India’s Core Cold Wave Zone: India’s ‘core cold wave zone’ covers Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha and Telangana.
    • In 2019, Delhi and adjoining areas in the north had experienced its coldest winter of the century.
  • Cold Wave Situation in Delhi:
    • On 3rd November 2020, Delhi recorded a minimum temperature of 10 degree Celsius which was 5 degrees C below normal.
    • IMD may consider declaring a cold wave if the temperature continues to stay the same for another day.
  • Reasons for the Fall in Minimum Temperature:
    • Absence of cloud cover in the region: Clouds trap some of the outgoing infrared radiation and radiate it back downward, warming the ground.
    • Snowfall in the upper Himalayas that has blown cold winds towards the region.
    • Subsidence of cold air over the region: Subsidence is the downward movement of cold and dry air closer to the surface.
    • Prevailing weak La Nina conditions in the Pacific Ocean.
      • La Nina is the abnormal cooler sea surface temperatures reported along the equatorial Pacific Ocean and it is known to favour cold waves.
      • During La Nina years, the severity of cold conditions becomes intense. The frequency and area covered under the grip of a cold wave becomes larger.
  • Winters 2020: November is expected to be colder than usual after the mean minimum temperature in October 2020 was 17.2 degrees Celsius, the lowest since 1962, when it was 16.9 degrees Celsius.

India Meteorological Department

  • IMD was established in 1875.
  • It is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India.
  • It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology.


Evidence of dairy production in the Indus Valley Civilization

Recently, a study by Indian and Canadian archaeologists has found that dairy products were being produced by the Harappans as far back as 2500 BCE. The finding reveals the earliest evidence of dairy production.

  • The year 2020 also marks 100 years of discovery of Indus Valley Civilisation.
  • Milk Production:
    • The results of the study are based on molecular chemical analysis of residue in shards of pottery found at the archaeological site of Kotada Bhadli, in Gujarat.
    • Traces seen in cooking vessels indicate the presence of milk, which may have been boiled for consumption. There are also remains of a perforated vessel, which indicates processing of milk into different forms.
      • Pots are porous and absorb liquid from food. This helps the pots to preserve the molecules of food such as fats and proteins.
      • Using techniques like C16 and C18 analysis the source of foods can be identified.
    • The large herd indicates that milk was produced in surplus so that it could be exchanged and there could have been some kind of trade between settlements.
      • This could have also given rise to an industrial level of dairy production.
  • Types of Animals:
    • Through a process called stable isotope analysis, the researchers were also able to identify that cattles used for dairy production.
      • Most of the cattle and water-buffalo died at an older age, suggesting they could have been raised for milk, whereas the majority of goat/sheep died when they were young, indicating they could have been used for meat.
  • Faceless Civilization:
    • The Indus Valley Civilisation was faceless — no king, no bureaucratic organisations, but there were very close regional interactions between settlements, a symbiotic relationship of give and take that helped the civilisation survive for so long.

Indus Valley Civilisation is known for its metropolitan cities and the big towns, great urban planning, trading systems, jewellery making.

  • Earlier, there was no idea how the common people were living during the Harappan times, and how they were contributing to the larger network.
  • However, the new study throws fresh light on the rural economy of the Indus Valley Civilisation.

Indus Valley Civilization

  • The history of India begins with the birth of the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC), also known as Harappan Civilization.
  • It flourished around 2,500 BC, in the western part of South Asia, in contemporary Pakistan and Western India.
  • The Indus Valley was home to the largest of the four ancient urban civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China.
  • In the 1920s, the Archaeological Department of India carried out excavations in the Indus valley wherein the ruins of the two old cities, viz. Mohenjodaro and Harappa were unearthed.
  • In 1924, John Marshall, Director-General of the ASI, announced the discovery of a new civilisation in the Indus valley to the world.

IVC Sites

Site Excavated by Location Findings
Harappa Daya Ram Sahni in 1921 Bank of river Ravi in Montgomery district of Punjab (Pakistan)
  • Sandstone statues of Human anatomy
  • Granaries
  • Bullock carts
Mohenjo-Daro (Mound of Dead) R.D. Banerjee in 1922 Bank of river Indus in Larkana district of Punjab (Pakistan)
  • Great bath
  • Granary
  • Bronze dancing girl
  • Seal of Pasupathi
  • Steatite statue of beard man
  • A piece of woven cotton
Sutkagendor Stein in 1929 In southwestern Balochistan province, Pakistan on Dast river
  • A trade point between Harappa and Babylon
Chanhudaro N.G. Majumdar in 1931 Sindh on the Indus river
  • Bead makers shop
  • Footprint of a dog chasing a cat
Amri N.G. Majumdar in 1935 On the bank of Indus river
  • Antelope evidence
Kalibangan Ghose in 1953 Rajasthan on the bank of Ghaggar river
  • Fire altar
  • Camel’s bones
  • Wooden plough
Lothal R. Rao in 1953 Gujarat on Bhogva river near Gulf of Cambay
  • First manmade port
  • Dockyard
  • Rice husk
  • Fire altars
  • Chess-playing
Surkotada J.P. Joshi in 1964 Gujarat
  • Bones of horses
  • Beads
Banawali R.S. Bisht in 1974 Hisar district of Haryana
  • Beads
  • Barley
  • Evidence of both pre-Harappan and Harappan culture
Dholavira R.S Bisht in 1985 Gujarat in Rann of Kachchh
  • Water harnessing system
  • Water reservoir
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