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Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 31st January 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC PDF Download

Recommendations of Vijay Raghavan Panel

Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 31st January 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

Context:

The Vijay Raghavan panel, appointed by the government, has recently submitted a detailed report addressing concerns about the Defense Research and Development Organisation's (DRDO) functioning.

About

  • A Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Defence raised concerns about significant delays in 23 out of 55 mission mode projects of DRDO.
  • A CAG Report from December 2022 revealed that 67% of the examined projects (119 out of 178) failed to adhere to proposed timelines, citing reasons such as design alterations, user trial delays, and supply order issues.

Major Recommendations of VijayRaghavan Committee:

Refocusing on R&D:

  • Suggested DRDO should return to its original goal of focusing on research and development for defense.
  • Advised against involvement in productization, production cycles, and product management, tasks more suitable for the private sector.

Narrowing Focus and Expertise:

  • Emphasized that DRDO should identify specific areas of expertise instead of engaging in diverse technologies.
  • Questioned the necessity for DRDO's involvement in drone development, proposing a need to recognize expertise both domestically and internationally.

Role of Defence Technology Council (DTC):

  • Advocated a pivotal role for the Defence Technology Council, chaired by the Prime Minister, in identifying suitable players for specific defense technologies.
  • Stressed that the DTC should be instrumental in steering the direction of defense technology development.

Creation of a Dedicated Department:

  • Proposed the establishment of the Department of Defence Science, Technology, and Innovation under the Ministry of Defence.
  • Recommended that the proposed department should act as the secretariat for the Defence Technology Council.

What are the Major Issues Related to DRDO?

  • Project Timelines and Cost Overruns: DRDO projects are notorious for exceeding estimated timelines and budgets by significant margins.
  • This leads to delays in crucial defense capabilities and raises concerns about efficiency and resource allocation.
  • Examples include the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, which took over 30 years to develop.
  • Lack of Synergy with Armed Forces: DRDO's internal decision-making processes hinder innovation and adaptation.
  • Additionally, reported lack of smooth collaboration with the Armed Forces in terms of defining requirements and incorporating feedback, results in technologies not fully meeting operational needs.
  • Technology Transfer and Private Sector Integration: Efficient transfer of developed technologies from DRDO to private industries for mass production still remains a challenge.
  • This hinders faster deployment and commercialization of indigenous defence technology, leading to dependence on foreign imports.
  • Transparency and Public Perception: Limited public awareness and transparency regarding DRDO's activities and achievements lead to negative perception and criticism.

Way Forward

  • Stronger Project Management: DRDO should implement stricter project management methodologies, including clear milestones, resource allocation, and accountability measures.
  • Enhanced Collaboration with Armed Forces: Establish dedicated channels for communication and feedback exchange, involving Armed Forces personnel in development stages.
  • Streamlined Technology Transfer: Develop clear protocols and incentives for technology transfer to private companies, fostering closer public-private-partnerships.
  • Foster a culture of Experimentation and Open Innovation: DRDO should collaborate with universities, startups, and international partners to leverage diverse expertise and access cutting-edge technologies.
  • Increase Public Awareness: DRDO must actively engage with the media, organize public outreach events, and share success stories to raise awareness about DRDO's contributions to national security.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 31st January 2024) Part - 1
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What is one of the major recommendations of the Vijay Raghavan panel regarding the functioning of DRDO?
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Iran, Pakistan, and the Baloch Militancy

Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 31st January 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

Context:

Recently, tensions between Iran and Pakistan have escalated significantly due to Iranian missiles and drones targeting two purported bases of Jaish al-Adl (JAA), an anti-Iran Baloch militant group, situated in Pakistan's Balochistan province.

  • Pakistan strongly condemned this perceived violation of its sovereignty and responded with cross-border missile strikes on alleged terrorist sanctuaries within Iran. The situation underscores the strained relations between the two nations.

Of Note:

Jaish al-Adl (JAA) attracted attention from Indian security agencies after the abduction of an Indian citizen, Kulbhushan Jadhav. The group is accused of trading Jadhav to Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), adding a complex layer to the regional dynamics.

What is Jaish al-Adl?

  • Jaish al-Adl, also known as the Army of Justice, is a Sunni militant group that emerged in 2012. Comprising predominantly of members from the Baluch community, residing on both sides of the Iran-Pakistan border, the group is recognized as a splinter faction of the Jundullah organization, which saw a decline in strength due to the arrest of numerous members by Iran.
  • Jaish al-Adl's primary objectives include advocating for the independence of Iran's eastern Sistan province and Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province. The group focuses on championing the rights of the Baluch people, making it a target for both the Iranian and Pakistani governments.
  • The Baluch community faces discrimination in both Iran and Pakistan, citing concerns about the unequal distribution of resources and wealth in their respective provinces. Baluch separatists and nationalists, seeking a fairer share, often resort to insurgency as a means of expressing their grievances.
  • The group's presence in Balochistan, particularly in border regions, has been a source of tension between Iran and Pakistan. Both nations have a history of mutual suspicion and accusations regarding their alleged involvement in supporting militant activities.

How has been the Relationship Between Pakistan and Iran?

Pre-1979 Alliance:

  • Before the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, both countries were firmly allied to the United States and had, in 1955, joined the Baghdad Pact, later known as the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), a military alliance modeled on NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).
  • Iran provided material and weapons support to Pakistan during its wars against India in 1965 and 1971.
  • The Shah of Iran expressed concern about the "disintegration" of Pakistan after the Liberation of Bangladesh.

Post-1979 Shift:

  • The Islamic Revolution in Iran led to the rise of an ultra-conservative Shiite regime under Ayatollah Khomeini. This was concurrent with Pakistan's own Islamization under military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq.
  • The two countries found themselves on opposite ends of the sectarian divide.

Geopolitical Differences:

  • Iran went from being an ally to a sworn enemy of the United States almost overnight, the Americans embraced Pakistan closer.
  • Since 1979, has been a major reason for the Iranian distrust of Pakistan, which increased after 09/11 as Islamabad extended unqualified support to the US “War on Terror”.
  • Iran’s post-1979 foreign policy, which focused on exporting the revolution, made its Arab neighbours nervous.
  • Each of these oil-rich kingdoms was effectively controlled by a small group of families, not unlike the Shah’s regime in pre-revolution Iran. Pakistan’s continued strategic ties with these Arab kingdoms added rough edges to its relationship with Iran.

Afghanistan Conflict:

  • Iran and Pakistan found themselves on opposite sides in Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal.
  • Iran backed the Northern Alliance against the Taliban, a group initially supported by Pakistan.
  • Tensions escalated after the Taliban massacred Persian-speaking Shia Hazaras and Iranian diplomats in Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998.

Attempts at Reconciliation:

  • Despite historical tensions, both countries made attempts to improve ties. Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto expressed regret over tightening U.S. sanctions against Iran in 1995, and Pakistan imported gas from Iran during her government.
  • However, relations soured after General Pervez Musharraf took power in 1999.

Balochistan Dynamics between Iran and Pakistan

Geographical and Demographic Overview:

  • The Goldsmith Line delineates the Iran-Pakistan border, stretching approximately 909 kilometres from a tripoint with Afghanistan to the northern Arabian Sea. The border regions are inhabited by around 9 million ethnic Baloch people, residing in Pakistan's Balochistan province, Iran's Sistan and Baluchestan province, and neighboring areas of Afghanistan.

Shared Baloch Identity:

  • Despite modern border demarcations, the Baloch people maintain a common cultural, ethnic, linguistic, and religious identity. Historical and cultural connections foster strong ties among the Balochs across different countries.

Marginalization and Grievances:

  • Baloch communities in both Iran and Pakistan share a sense of marginalization, feeling politically and economically distant from the dominant regimes in each country. In Pakistan, challenges arise as the Balochs face minority status within a Punjabi-dominated political structure. In Iran, they are not only an ethnic minority but also a religious minority, predominantly Sunni in a Shia-majority country.

Economic Disparities:

  • Although the Baloch homeland is rich in natural resources, economic disparities persist. In Iran, a substantial portion of the Baloch population lives below the poverty line. Despite significant investments in projects like China's Belt and Road Initiative in Pakistan, improvements in their lives have been limited.

Nationalist Movements:

  • Historically rooted in the early 20th century, Baloch nationalism has emerged as a response to new international borders in the region. The marginalization of the Baloch people in both Iran and Pakistan has fueled separatist movements aspiring for a "Greater Balochistan" nation-state.

Insurgency and Cross-Border Movements:

  • Baloch insurgents operate on both sides of the Iran-Pakistan border, targeting military and occasionally civilian targets. Groups such as the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) are affiliated with armed struggles against the respective states.

What are the Implications of Escalating Tensions Between Pakistan and Iran?

Regional Stability:

  • Escalating tensions between Pakistan and Iran could contribute to regional instability, especially given the complex geopolitical landscape of the Middle East and South Asia.
  • The relationship between Pakistan and Iran may further strain, impacting diplomatic, economic, and cultural ties.

Proxy Dynamics:

  • Both Pakistan and Iran have been accused of supporting proxies in regional conflicts. Escalations may heighten proxy dynamics, with each country trying to exert influence in the other's internal affairs or supporting certain factions in ongoing regional conflicts.

Impact on Balochistan:

  • Balochistan could witness increased unrest. The Baloch nationalist movements might gain momentum, and there could be repercussions for the local populations.
  • The situation might draw in other regional actors, such as India, the United States, Saudi Arabia, or Israel, further complicating the geopolitical landscape and potentially leading to a broader regional conflict.

Security Concerns:

  • Escalating tensions may raise security concerns for neighbouring countries, particularly Afghanistan. The region is already grappling with security challenges, and heightened tensions could exacerbate the situation.

Implications for India:

  • The tensions may impact India's relations with Iran, especially considering India's involvement in projects like the Chabahar port. India may find itself in a delicate diplomatic position, balancing its ties with both Iran and the United States.

What is India’s Stance over the Faceoff Between Pakistan and Iran?

Zero Tolerance Towards Terrorism:

  • India emphasised its "uncompromising position of zero tolerance towards Terrorism." This statement underscores India's consistent stance against terrorism, aligning with its long-standing concerns regarding cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

Understanding Actions in Self-Defense:

  • India acknowledged and expressed an understanding of "actions that countries take in their self-defence." It suggests a recognition of the complex security dynamics in the region and a cautious approach to the actions taken by countries to address their security concerns.

Conclusion

  • The implications of escalating tensions between Pakistan and Iran are multifaceted and extend beyond bilateral relations.
  • The situation has the potential to impact regional stability, security dynamics, and the broader geopolitical landscape in the Middle East and South Asia.
  • Diplomatic efforts and de-escalation measures will be crucial to mitigate the risks and prevent further deterioration of the situation.
  • Indians should raise the issue of Terrorism at international forums such as the United Nations (UN) and present evidence of Pakistan's involvement in supporting or trading with militant groups like JAA, which abducted Kulsbhushan Jadhav and traded with the Pakistan Government.

Ram Temple

Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 31st January 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

Context:

The inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya on January 22, 2024, signifies the conclusion of a 200-year-old saga that has significantly shaped India's socio-political landscape.

  • The Ram temple has been meticulously crafted in the Nagara Style of Temple Architecture, showcasing intricate detailing and traditional aesthetics.
  • The narrative of Lord Ram extends beyond India, resonating in countries such as Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Guyana in South America, and Mauritius in Africa, underscoring the widespread popularity of the Ramayana beyond national borders.

What is the Timeline of Ram Janmabhoomi Movement?

  • Originating in 1751 with the Marathas seeking control over Ayodhya, Kashi, and Mathura from the Nawab of Awadh.
  • Momentum picked up in the 19th century, evidenced by judicial records from 1822 mentioning a mosque at Lord Ram's birthplace.
  • Tensions escalated in 1855 with a clash near the Babri Masjid, resulting in the capture of Janmasthan by Hindus.
  • The placement of the idol of Ram Lalla in 1949 fueled demands for a grand temple.
  • The 1980s witnessed the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) movement and legal battles, including the unlocking of Babri Masjid in 1986.
  • The demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992 led to political repercussions and legal actions.
  • The Allahabad High Court verdict in 2010 divided the land, with two-thirds allocated for a Ram temple.
  • In 2019, the Supreme Court awarded the entire disputed land to Hindu petitioners for a Ram temple and designated land for a mosque elsewhere.

Culmination:

  • The historic journey reached its pinnacle on August 5, 2020, when the Indian Prime Minister laid the foundation stone (Shilanyas) for the Ram temple, establishing the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust. 
  • The formal inauguration of the Nagara-style Ram temple on January 22, 2024, marks the completion of this centuries-old narrative, leaving a profound impact on India's socio-political milieu.

What is the Uniqueness of Ram Temple?

Traditional Architecture and Construction:

  • This is a 3-storey temple, built in the traditional Nagara style, standing tall with pink sandstone from Mirzapur and the hills of Bansi-Paharpur (Rajasthan).
  • Temple covers an expansive 71 acres, showcasing the architectural marvel.

Temple Dimensions:

  • Spanning 250 feet in width and 161 feet in height, the main temple area covers 2.67 acres, boasting 390 pillars, 46 doorways, and 5 mandaps.

Unique Features Inside:

  • The main Garbh Griha holds the idols of Ram Lalla, accompanied by multiple mandaps, including Rang Mandap & Nritya Mandap.

Innovative Anointment Tradition:

  • On every Ram Navami at noon, a system of mirrors and lenses will focus the sun's rays on Ram Lalla’s idol. This unique anointment requires no electricity, utilizing brass instead of iron or steel.

Sculptor's Contribution:

  • The idol of five-year-old Ram Lalla, crafted by Mysuru sculptor Arun Yogiraj, stands at 51 inches and was consecrated in a special ceremony.

Durability and Symbolism:

  • No iron has been used in the temple's construction, designed to endure for at least a millennium.

What is the Nagara Style of Temple Architecture?

About:

  • The Nagara style of temple architecture emerged sometime in the 5th century CE, during the late Gupta period, in northern India.
  • It is seen in juxtaposition with the Dravida style of southern India, which too emerged in the same period.

Distinguished by a Towering Shikhara:

  • Nagara temples are built on a raised plinth, with the Garbha Griha (sanctum sanctorum) — where the idol of the deity rests — the most sacred part of the temple.
  • Towering over the Garbha Griha is the shikhara (literally ‘mountain peak’), the most distinguishable aspect of Nagara-style temples.
  • As the name suggests, shikharas are human-made representations of the natural and cosmological order, as imagined in Hindu tradition.
  • A typical Nagara-style temple also comprises a circumambulatory passage around the garbha griha, and one or more mandapas (halls) on the same axis as it. Elaborate murals and reliefs often adorn its walls.

Five Variants of Nagara Architecture:

Valabhi:

  • This architectural mode originates as a masonry interpretation of the barrel-roofed wooden structure, commonly found in chaitya halls associated with Buddhist shrines.
  • It involves formalizing multi-eave towers, often with a stacking of slabs.

Phamsana:

  • The Phamsana mode is characterized by a shikhara, representing a progression from the Valabhi mode.
  • It involves a formalization of multi-eave towers with a piling up of slabs and is associated with the Early Nagara Style.

Latina:

  • Latina is a single, slightly curved tower with four sides of equal length.
  • Emerging in the Gupta heartland, it attained full curvature by the early seventh century and became the pinnacle of Nagara temple architecture for three centuries.

Shekhari:

  • The Shekhari mode features a shikhara with attached sub-spires or spirelets echoing the main shape.
  • These sub-spires may run up most of the face of the shikhara and can vary in size.

Bhumija:

  • The Bhumija mode involves miniature spires arranged in horizontal and vertical rows, creating a grid-like effect on each face of the shikhara.
  • The actual shikhara often approaches a pyramidal shape, with the curvature of the Latina being less visible. This style emerged from composite Latinas in the tenth century onwards.

How Shri Ram and Ramayana Achieved Global Popularity

Trade Routes and Cultural Exchange:

  • The Ramayana spread through both land and sea trade routes as Indian traders carried cultural elements, including religious stories, along with goods.
  • Land routes, such as those through Punjab and Bengal, transmitted the Ramayana to regions like China, Tibet, Burma, Thailand, and Laos.
  • Sea routes from Gujarat and South India disseminated the epic in places like Java, Sumatra, and Malaya.

Cultural Transmission by Indian Communities:

  • Indian traders, accompanied by priests, monks, scholars, and adventurers, played a pivotal role in transmitting Indian culture to Southeast Asia.
  • The Ramayana became integral to the culture of many Southeast Asian countries, influencing art, architecture, and religious practices.

Integration into Local Culture:

  • The Ramayana integrated with local cultures; for instance, in Thailand, the Ayutthaya kingdom is believed to have been inspired by the Ayodhya of the Ramayana.
  • In Cambodia, the Angkor Wat temple complex features murals depicting Ramayana scenes.

Evolution of the Epic:

  • The Ramayana took on local flavors and variations, such as the Thai Ramakien influenced by the Tamil epic Kamban Ramayana.
  • Adaptations in different countries incorporated unique elements, reflecting the cultural diversity of the regions.

Spread Through Indentured Labor Migration:

  • In the 19th century, the Girmitiya Migration spread the Ramayana to regions like Fiji, Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Suriname.
  • Indentured laborers carried their cultural and religious practices, including the Ramcharitmanas, to new lands.

Enduring Themes and Universality:

  • The Ramayana served as a source of cultural identity for Indian communities abroad, providing a connection to their roots.
  • Universal themes like the triumph of good over evil and the concept of dharma made the epic relatable to diverse cultures.

Continued Cultural Practices:

  • Even today, the Ramayana remains a significant part of the cultural fabric in many Southeast Asian countries, expressed through various art forms and religious ceremonies.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 31st January 2024) Part - 1
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What factors contribute to the severity of winter storms in the United States?
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India-Bangladesh Relations

Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 31st January 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

Context:

The recent victory of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina securing her fourth consecutive term in Bangladesh has garnered international attention. India, standing as one of the first nations to extend congratulations, emphasizes the enduring and close bilateral ties between the two countries.

How Have India-Bangladesh Relations Flourished?

Historical Foundations:

  • The genesis of India's relationship with Bangladesh can be traced back to the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, where India played a crucial role in supporting Bangladesh's fight for independence from Pakistan. Subsequently, despite challenges and periods of strain, the relationship entered a new phase under Sheikh Hasina's leadership in 1996.

Economic Collaboration:

  • Bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh has shown consistent growth, making Bangladesh India's largest trade partner in South Asia. Despite a dip in 2022-23 due to global events, the trade volume reached USD 18 billion in 2021-2022. Additionally, India stands as Bangladesh's second-largest trade partner.

Infrastructure Development:

  • India has extended significant Lines of Credit to Bangladesh since 2010, contributing to the resolution of longstanding issues like the Land Boundary Agreement in 2015. The recently inaugurated Akhaura-Agartala Rail Link enhances connectivity, providing India access to Bangladesh's ports and fostering regional development.

Energy Sector Collaboration:

  • In the energy sector, Bangladesh imports a substantial 2,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity from India. The cooperation extends to the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant project, a trilateral effort involving Russia, Bangladesh, and India.

Defence Ties:

  • The two nations share the longest land boundary, spanning 4096.7 km, with several Indian states sharing borders with Bangladesh. Joint exercises such as Exercise Sampriti (Army) and Exercise Bongo Sagar (Navy) underscore their defense collaboration.

Multilateral Engagements:

  • India and Bangladesh actively participate in regional cooperation through forums like SAARC, BIMSTEC, and IORA, showcasing their commitment to multilateral partnerships.
  • The flourishing relationship encompasses diverse sectors such as trade, infrastructure, energy, defense, and multilateral forums, underscoring the multifaceted nature of the India-Bangladesh bilateral ties.

What are the Points of Tensions Between India and Bangladesh?

Sharing of Transboundary River Waters:

  • India and Bangladesh share 54 common rivers, but only two treaties have been signed so far of Ganga Waters Treaty and The Kushiyara River Treaty.
  • The other major rivers, such as the Teesta and Feni are still under negotiation.

Illegal Migration:

  • The issue of illegal migration from Bangladesh to India, encompassing both refugees and economic migrants, continues to be a significant concern.
  • This influx strains Indian border states, impacting resources and security. The problem intensified with Rohingya refugees entering India through Bangladesh.
  • The National Register of Citizens (NRC), aimed at curbing such migration, has raised concerns in Bangladesh.
  • Bangladesh seeks Indian support in persuading Myanmar to take back the Rohingyas who were forced to take refuge in Bangladesh.

Drug Smuggling & Trafficking:

  • There have been many incidences of cross border drug smuggling & trafficking. Humans (especially children & women) are trafficked & various animal & bird species are poached through these borders.

Growing Chinese Influence in Bangladesh:

  • At present, Bangladesh is an active partner in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) (India is not a part of BRI).
  • China's increasing involvement with Bangladesh could potentially undermine India's regional standing and impede its strategic aspirations.

Way Forward

  • There is a need to establish joint task forces comprising law enforcement agencies from both countries to effectively combat cross-border drug smuggling and human trafficking.
  • Shared intelligence and coordinated operations can disrupt illegal networks.
  • Implementing smart border management solutions that utilise Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analytics can streamline cross-border movements while ensuring security and efficiency.
  • There is a need to establish a digital connectivity corridor between the two countries, focusing on high-speed internet connectivity, digital services, and e-commerce. This can create new avenues for trade, collaboration, and technological exchange.

Winter Storms in the US

Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 31st January 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

Context:

Winter storms in the United States have presented a myriad of challenges, impacting numerous states with sub-freezing temperatures, snowfall, and icy conditions.

  • The adverse weather conditions have resulted in a notable toll, with at least 72 deaths reported nationwide in January 2024, predominantly attributed to hypothermia or road accidents.

Factors Contributing to Severe Winter Storms in the US:

Polar Vortex:

  • The Polar Vortex, an extensive area of low pressure and cold air encircling Earth's poles, is a key factor.
  • The counterclockwise flow of air in the vortex keeps colder air near the poles, weakening in summer and strengthening in winter.
  • Disruptions in the polar vortex can lead to southward movements of cold air into the US, causing frigid temperatures.
  • Arctic amplification, linked to climate change, accelerates warming in the Arctic, weakening the polar vortex and making it prone to disruptions. This weakening can result in the stretching or splitting of the vortex, allowing Arctic air to spill southward.

Arctic Air Masses:

  • The intrusion of Arctic air masses originating in the Arctic region can swiftly reduce temperatures in the US.
  • These air masses, extending southward, bring exceptionally cold conditions to regions unaccustomed to such extremes.

Jet Stream Patterns:

  • The jet stream, a high-altitude, swift-moving air current, influences weather systems.
  • Changes in the jet stream pattern can facilitate the southward movement of cold Arctic air, affecting extensive areas of the country.
  • The interplay of these factors contributes to the severity of winter storms, creating challenging conditions and prompting concerns over public safety and infrastructure.

What Constitutes Winter Storms?

Winter storms are meteorological occurrences marked by extremely low temperatures, precipitation in the forms of snow, sleet, or freezing rain, often accompanied by robust winds. These events have the potential to disrupt everyday activities, impact transportation systems, and pose various hazards to communities.

Formation of Winter Storms:

  • Moist Air Rising: Winter storms initiate with the ascent of moist air into the atmosphere. This can manifest at a cold front where warm air rises above cold air or when air ascends along significant elevations like hills or mountains.
  • Source of Moisture: Essential for cloud formation and precipitation, a source of moisture is typically provided by air traversing expansive water bodies, such as lakes or oceans, where it picks up water vapor.
  • Cold Air: The defining factor distinguishing winter storms is the presence of cold air. When temperatures, both near the ground and throughout atmospheric layers, fall below freezing, precipitation takes the form of snow or ice.

Varieties of Winter Storms:

  • Snowstorms: These storms feature precipitation primarily in the form of snow. Snowflakes develop as water vapor condenses into frozen water droplets, with the type of precipitation determined by the air temperature, whether it's snow, rain, or freezing rain.
  • Blizzards: Characterized by strong winds rather than snow quantity, blizzards entail wind speeds equal to or exceeding 35 MPH (Miles Per Hour). They create conditions of blowing snow, diminishing visibility, and fostering the accumulation of snowdrifts.
  • Lake Effect Storms: Originating from the abundant moisture of the Great Lakes (USA), these storms arise when cold, dry air passes over the lakes, gathering water vapor and resulting in substantial snowfall in areas south and east of the lakes.
  • Ice Storms: Winter storms involving the accumulation of at least 0.25 inches of ice on outdoor surfaces. Ice storms create hazardous conditions on the ground, making travel and walking perilous, and may lead to the snapping of branches and power lines.

The document Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 31st January 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly.
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FAQs on Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 31st January 2024) Part - 1 - Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

1. What were the recommendations of the Vijay Raghavan Panel?
Ans. The Vijay Raghavan Panel made several recommendations, including measures to improve agricultural productivity, promote sustainable farming practices, enhance rural infrastructure, strengthen research and development in the agricultural sector, and provide financial support to farmers.
2. How does the Baloch militancy relate to Iran and Pakistan?
Ans. The Baloch militancy is a separatist movement in the Balochistan region, which spans across Iran and Pakistan. Baloch militants in both countries have been fighting for greater autonomy or independence for the Baloch people.
3. What is the current status of the Ram Temple issue in India?
Ans. The construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, India has been completed. The temple was built on the site where a 16th-century mosque, known as Babri Masjid, once stood. The issue was a subject of long-standing dispute and legal battles.
4. How are India-Bangladesh relations at present?
Ans. India and Bangladesh have enjoyed a positive relationship in recent years, characterized by increased cooperation in various fields such as trade, security, and connectivity. The two countries have resolved several longstanding issues and have been working together to enhance regional stability and economic integration.
5. What were the impacts of the winter storms in the US?
Ans. The winter storms in the US resulted in severe weather conditions, including heavy snowfall, freezing temperatures, power outages, and transportation disruptions. These storms caused significant damage to infrastructure, affected daily life, and led to the loss of lives and property.
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