Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 01 August 2023

Key takeaways of WMO report

GS Paper - 3 (Environment)

According to a new report, released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)Asia is the world’s most disaster-prone region and it experienced 81 weather, climate and water-related disasters in 2022. These events directly affected more than 50 million people with about 5,000 getting killed and economic damage worth $ 36 billion, the report added.  Although, in 2021, the continent had been affected by around 100 natural disasters, the extent of these hazards was more prominent in 2022 — the number of people and facilities affected, and economic damage has increased.

What are the key takeaways from the report?

  • According to the report, while the mean temperature over Asia in 2022 was about 0.72 degree Celsius above the 1991–2020 average, it was about 1.68 degree Celsius above the 1961–1990 average.
  • This rise in temperatures has had some severe fallouts, including an uptick in the occurrence of extreme weather events.
  • For instance, droughts ravaged numerous parts of Asia in 2022. China particularly suffered the most as last year, the Yangtze River Basin, located in the country’s southwest, experienced the worst drought in the last six decades.
  • This not only affected crops and vegetation, as well as the drinking water supply but also caused an economic loss of about $ 7.6 billion.
  • Many other regions were hit by severe floods and extreme monsoon rainfallsPakistan is the most notable example – it received 60 percent of normal total monsoon rainfall within just three weeks of the start of the 2022 monsoon season, and the heavy rains resulted in urban and flash floodslandslides, and glacial lake outburst floods across the country.
  • More than 33 million people were affected, over 1,730 people died and almost eight million people were displaced, according to the report.
  • Apart from natural disastersclimate change has exacerbated glaciers melting in Asia due to high temperatures and dry conditions.
  • Four glaciers in the High Mountain Asia region, centred on the Tibetan Plateau, have recorded significant mass losses, with an accelerating trend since the mid-1990s.
  • At the same time, these four glaciers show an overall weaker cumulative mass loss than the average for the global reference glaciers during the period 1980–2022.
  • Even thesea surface temperatures in Asia are getting warmer than ever before. The report pointed out that in the north-western Arabian Sea, the Philippine Sea and the seas east of Japan, the warming rates have exceeded 0.5 degree Celsius per decade since the 1980s. It is about three times faster than the global average surface ocean warming rate.

India in report

  • In India, heavy rainfalls “lasting from May to September triggered multiple landslides and river overflows and floods, resulting in casualties and damage”.
  • In total, this flooding resulted in over 2,000 deaths and affected 1.3 million people — the disaster event caused the highest number of casualties of any disaster event in 2022 in India.
  • The report also said economic loss due to disasters relating to floods exceeded the average for the 2002–2021 period. Pakistan incurred a loss of over $ 15 billionfollowed by China, over $ 5 billion, and India, over $ 4.2 billion.
  • Another extreme weather event that became a mainstay in Asia last year was heat waves.
  • The report noted that India and Pakistan experienced “abnormally warm conditions” in the pre-monsoon season (March–May), the report mentioned. ChinaHong Kong and Japan also saw the mercury rising to record high levels in 2022.


DGCA fined for Tail strikes

GS Paper - 2 (Infrastructure)

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has fined IndiGo a sum of Rs 30 lakhs and issued a show cause notice to the airline, following a special audit concerning frequent tail strike incidents. The special audit uncovered “certain systemic deficiencies” in IndiGo’s documentation pertaining to “operations/training procedures and engineering procedures”.

What is a tail strike?

  • tail strike refers to an incident where the tail of an aircraft hits the ground or strikes any other stationary object.
  • While tail strikes can occur during takeoff, a majority happen during the landing of an aircraft.
  • According to Airbus statistical data, over 65 per cent of tail strikes happen during landings.
  • Tail strikes can cause significant damage to the aircraft, with major repairs needed to restore the plane’s structural integrity.
  • Even in cases where the damage is not major or immediately obvious, thorough inspections are carried out before the aircraft is declared fit to fly again.

What causes tail strikes?

  • While modern aircraft are fitted with a whole gamut of systems to aid pilots in flying aircraft and reduce the probability of human error, most tail strikes can be attributed to mistakes made by pilots.
  • Simply put, tail strikes occur when the pitch attitude of the aircraft (more on that in a moment) – while taking off or landing – is steep enough for the tail of the craft to hit the ground.
  • Aircraft, depending on their size, have different “tail strike margins” – the longer the aircraftmore prone it is to a tail strike as the rear of the plane juts out further behind the rear undercarriage.
  • An aircraft in flight is free to rotate in three dimensionsyawnose left or right about an axis running up and downroll, rotation about an axis running from nose to tail; and pitchnose up or down about an axis running from wing to wing. These are collectively known as an aircraft’s attitude.
  • Tail strikes are most impacted by the aircraft’s pitching motion. A positive pitching motion raises the nose of the aircraft and lowers the tail.
  • Tail strikes are caused by such a motion being executed improperly during take off and landing.


Lok Sabha passes MMDR Amendment bill

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023 was taken up for consideration and passed by the Lok Sabha. This bill proposes to empower the Central government to exclusively auction mining lease and composite licence for 26 critical minerals in the country.

More about the Amendment

  • This amendment to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, “would facilitateencourage and incentivise private sector participation in all spheres of mineral exploration for critical and deep-seated minerals”. Under the existing frameworkstate governments auction mining blocks.
  • Even in case of conduct of auction by the central government, the mineral concession shall be granted to the selected bidders by the state government only and the auction premium and other statutory payments shall accrue to the state government.
  • According to the statement of objects and reasons for the bill, it would help hasten the pace of auction and early production of critical minerals such as lithiumcobalt, and graphite that are crucial for electric vehicles and batteries.
  • Nickelplatinum, and tin-bearing minerals are also among the 26 that are proposed to be brought under the ambit of the central government.
  • This would be the Fifth Amendment to the MMDR Act since 2014. Earlier changes included mandating e-auction for mineral resources, and allowing extension of mining leases which were expiring.