Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 25 July 2023

Marine heat waves gripped world’s oceans

GS Paper - 1 (Geography)

Sweltering temperatures have induced extreme heat warningswildfires and poor air quality in different regions. But it isn’t just on the land that the mercury has soared – the average daily global sea surface temperature is off the charts too. Ocean temperatures have remained at record-high levels, giving rise to marine heat waves (MHWs) around the globe.

What are marine heat waves?

  • marine heat wave is an extreme weather event. It occurs when the surface temperature of a particular region of the sea rises to 3 or 4 degree Celsius above the average temperature for at least five days.
  • MHWs can last for weeks, months or even years, according to the US government’s agency National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
  • At present, MHWs have gripped the north-east Pacific, the southern hemisphere in the southern Indian Ocean and the Pacific, the north-east Atlantic, tropical North Atlantic, and the Mediterranean, according to a recent forecast of the non-profit science organisation Mercator Ocean International.
  • MHWs can have debilitating effects on both marine ecosystems and humans. They may cause the deaths of several marine species, alter their migration patterns, lead to coral bleaching and even impact weather patterns.
  • MHWs can make storms stronger and severely affect coastal communities. What’s more, these disastrous consequences are set to become even worse as the world continues to get warmer, making MHWs more intense and longer.

What is the impact of marine heat waves on ocean life?

  • Although an increase of 3 or 4 degrees Celsius in average temperatures may not be much for humans, it can be catastrophic for marine life.
  • For instance, MHWs along the Western Australian coast during the summer of 2010 and 2011 caused some “devastating” fish kills — the sudden and unexpected death of many fish or other aquatic animals over a short period and mainly within a particular area — as per a 2013 study in the Journal of Marine Systems.
  • A different study revealed that the same MHWs destroyed kelp forests and fundamentally altered the ecosystem of the coast. Kleps usually grow in cooler waters, providing habitat and food for many marine animals.
  • Another example is when high ocean temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean in 2005 led to a massive coral bleaching event.
  • Higher ocean temperatures, which are associated with MHWs, can make storms like hurricanes and tropical cyclones stronger.


SC stops Gyanvapi mosque survey

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

The Supreme Court on 24 July 2023 stayed the ongoing scientific survey of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi, which a 30-member team of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had begun earlier in the day. In doing so, a Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud put on hold until 26 July 2023 the order of a district court in Varanasi that had directed the ASI to carry out a “scientific” survey of the mosque premises.

What was the Varanasi court’s order?

  • On 21 July 2021, the Varanasi court asked for a “scientific investigation/ survey/ excavation” of the mosque premises by the ASI.
  • District and Sessions Judge Ajaya Krishna Vishvesha asked the ASI to conduct a “ground penetrating radar survey just below the three domes of the building in question and conduct excavation, if required”.
  • The court directed the “Director of ASI…to conduct a detailed scientific investigation by using GPR Survey, Excavation, Dating method and other modern techniques of the present structure to find out…whether the same has been constructed over a pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple”.
  • The ASI was also directed to investigate the age and nature of the construction of the western wall of the building through scientific methods, and to carry out a GPR survey beneath the ground of all the cellars and an excavation, if required.
  • The court told the ASI Director to ensure that no damage is done to the “structure standing on the disputed land” and that “it remains intact and unharmed”.

How did the court take up this matter?

  • The court was acting on a petition filed by four Hindu women petitioners seeking the right to worship Maa Shringar Gauri on the outer wall of the Gyanvapi mosque complex, located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi.
  • In its order, the court clarified that the survey will exclude the wuzu khana or the ablution area which was sealed last year on the orders of the Supreme Court after Hindu litigants claimed that they had identified a Shivling there.
  • However, the Muslim litigants contended that the object that had been found was a fountain. Following this, the court instructed that the survey proceedings be videographed, and a report is submitted to it before 4 August.
  • The Hindu litigants contend that the mosque was built on the site of the original Kashi Vishwanath temple. The Muslim litigants maintain that the mosque was built on Waqf premises, and that the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 barred changing the character of any place of worship as it existed on 15 August, 1947.
  • However, this was not the first time this issue reached the court. The Varanasi district court had agreed to hear the present plea for an ASI survey on 16 May this year, after an order by the Allahabad High Court.

How did the Supreme Court come into the picture?

  • The Anjuman Intezamia Masajid Committee, which manages the Gyanvapi mosque, moved the top court, arguing that the proceedings were an attempt to change the religious character of the mosque.
  • The Places of Worship Act, 1991 bars the conversion of the religious character of a place of worship from how it existed on 15 August 1947.
  • On 20 May 2022, the Supreme Court, underlining the “complexity of the issues involved in the civil suit”, transferred the case to the District Judge. The SC subsequently said it would intervene only after the District Judge had decided on the preliminary aspects of the case.
  • After that, the Supreme Court in November 2022 extended its interim direction securing the area of the Gyanvapi complex where the “Shivling” was claimed to have been found without impeding or restricting the rights of Muslims to access and offer namaz there till further orders.


India hands over missile corvette INS Kirpan

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

India on 22 July 2023 "gifted" its in-service missile corvette INS Kirpan to Vietnam in reflection of growing strategic partnership between the two sides, especially in the maritime domain. It is for the first time that India gifted a fully operational corvette to any friendly foreign country.

More about the News

  • The Indian Navy said the ship has been handed over to Vietnam People's Navy (VPN) with complete "weapon complement".
  • On completing 32 years of illustrious service to the nation, Indian naval ship Kirpan has been decommissioned from the Indian Navy and handed over to VPN.
  • INS Kirpan, since its commissioning in 1991, has been an integral part of Indian Navy's Eastern Fleet and has participated in many operations over the last 32 years.
  • Manned by about 12 officers and 100 sailors, the ship is 90 metres long and 10.45 metres in width with maximum displacement of 1,450 tons.
  • The transfer of INS Kirpan from Indian Navy to Vietnam People's Navy symbolises the status of Indian Navy of being the 'preferred security partner in the Indian Ocean Region.
  • INS Kirpan, an indigenously built Khukri-class missile corvette, was handed over to Vietnam in line with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's announcement last month that India will gift an in-service missile corvette to the country.

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