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14th May Current Affairs

Twin cyclones

(GS-I: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclones etc)

In News:

A pair of tropical cyclones, Asani & Karim (one in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere) one on each side of the equator, have been formed.


These are cyclones originating in the same longitude and now drifting apart.

Cyclone Asani has formed in the Bay of Bengal.

Cyclone Karim has created a path in the open seas west of Australia.

What are twin cyclones?

The interplay of the wind and the monsoon system combined with the Earth system produces twin cyclones.

They are basically caused by equatorial Rossby waves.

Rossby waves are named for famous meteorologist Carl-Gustaf Rossby who was the first to explain that these waves arose due to the rotation of the Earth.

They are huge waves in the ocean with wavelengths of around 4,000–5,000 kilometres.

This system has a vortex in the northern hemisphere and another in the southern hemisphere, and each of these is a mirror image of the other.

The vortex in the north spins counterclockwise and has a positive spin, while the one in the southern hemisphere spins in the clockwise direction and therefore has a negative spin.

Both have a positive value of the vorticity which is a measure of the rotation.

How are twin cyclones formed?

When the vorticity is positive in both Northern and Southern hemispheres, as is the case with Rossby waves, the air in the boundary layer, whichis moist, is lifted slightly. That is enough to set off a feedback process.

When the air is lifted slightly, the water vapour condenses to make clouds. As it condenses, it lets out the latent heat of evaporation.

The atmosphere warms, this parcel of air rises, and a positive feedback is set off by this process.

The warmer parcel of air can rise further because it is lighter than the surrounding air, and it can form deeper clouds.

Meanwhile, moisture comes in from both sides. This leads to the formation of a cyclone if certain conditions are present.

Madden-Julian Oscillation or MJO:

Karim and Asani are “twin” cyclones not only because they formed at the same time in the same general area but also because they were formed primarily from the same “parent” circulation:  the Madden-Julian Oscillation or MJO.

The MJO is a large cluster of clouds and convection, around 5000-10,000 kilometres in size.

It is composed of a Rossby wave and a Kelvin wave, which is a type of wave structure that we see in the ocean.

On the eastern side of the MJO is the Kelvin wave, while on the western, trailing edge of the MJO, is the Rossby wave, once again with two vortices on either side of the equator.

However, not all tropical cyclones are born from the MJO. Sometimes it is a mere Rossby wave with two vortices on either side.

Chief Election Commissioner

(GS-II: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies)

In News:

Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar would take charge as the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC).

About Election commission of India:

The constitution under article 324 provides for an Election Commission for the superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls for the conduct of elections to parliament, state legislatures and to the offices of president and vice president.

It was established in accordance with the Constitution on 25th January 1950 (celebrated as national voters’ day).

Composition Election commission of India:

The constitution provides for the following provisions in relation to the composition of the election commission:

The election commission shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner and a number of other election commissioners, if any, as the president may from time to time fix.

The appointment of the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners shall be made by the president.

When any other election commissioner is so appointed the chief election commissioner shall act as the chairman of the election commission.

The president may also appoint after consultation with the election commission such regional commissioners as he may consider necessary to assist the election commission.

The conditions of service and tenure of office of the election commissioners and the regional commissioners shall be such as the President may by rule determine.

CEC vs ECs:

Though the Chief Election Commissioner is the chairman of the election commission, however, his powers are equal to the other election commissioners. All the matters in the commission are decided by the majority amongst its members. The Chief Election Commissioner and the two other election commissioners receive equal salary, allowances and other benefits.

Event Horizon reveals true colours of SgrA

(GS-III: Awareness in space)

In News:

Scientists from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) facility revealed the first image of the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way in press conferences held around the world.

This image of the black hole referred to as Sagittarius A* (SgrA*) gave further support to the idea that the compact object at the centre of our galaxy is indeed a black hole.

What is Sagittarius A*(SgrA*)?

Sagittarius A* is a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy i.e. the Milky Way. It is located near the border of the constellations Sagittarius and Scorpius.

SgrA* possesses 4 million times the mass of our sun and is located about 26,000 light-years and 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion km)—from Earth.

What is a black hole?

A black hole is an object in space that is so dense and has such strong gravity that no matter or light can escape its pull. Because no light can escape, it is black and invisible.

There’s a boundary at the edge of a black hole called the event horizon, which is the point of no return — any light or matter that crosses that boundary is sucked into the black hole. It would need to travel faster than the speed of light to escape, which is impossible.

Anything that crosses the event horizon is destined to fall to the very centre of the black hole and be squished into a single point with infinite density, called the singularity.

What is Event Horizon?

A black hole’s event horizon is the point of no return beyond which anything—stars, planets, gas, dust and all forms of electromagnetic radiation—gets dragged into oblivion.

About Event Horizon Telescope:

Event horizon telescope consists of eight radio observatories around the world, including telescopes in Spain, the US and Antarctica

In 2006, an international team of more than 200 researchers, led by Harvard University astronomers, launched the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project with a sole aim: to capture a direct shot of a black hole.

Thirteen partner institutions worked together to create the EHT, using both pre-existing infrastructure and support from a variety of agencies.

The EHT observations use a technique called very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) which synchronises telescope facilities around the world and exploits the rotation of our planet to form one huge, Earth-size telescope observing at a wavelength of 1.3 mm.

Police Reforms

(GS-III: Important security agencies)

In News:

Recently, the Vice President of India called for renewed thrust to implement reforms in police forces.

Need of the hour:

A progressive, modern India must have a police force which meets the democratic aspirations of the people.

There is a need to upgrade the skills of our policemen to effectively tackle 21st century crimes such as cybercrimes and economic offences.

What is the SC’s Prakash Singh judgment on police reforms?

Prakash Singh, who served as DGP of UP Police and Assam Police besides other postings, filed a PIL in the Supreme Court post retirement, in 1996, seeking police reforms.

In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court in September 2006 had directed all states and Union Territories to bring in police reforms.

What measures were suggested by the Supreme Court?

Fixing the tenure and selection of the DGP to avoid situations where officers about to retire in a few months are given the post.

In order to ensure no political interference, a minimum tenure was sought for the Inspector General of Police so that they are not transferred mid-term by politicians.

Postings of officers should be done by Police Establishment Boards (PEB) comprising police officers and senior bureaucrats to insulate powers of postings and transfers from political leaders.

Set up State Police Complaints Authority (SPCA) to give a platform where common people aggrieved by police action could approach.

Separate investigation and law and order functions to better improve policing.

Set up of State Security Commissions (SSC) that would have members from civil society.

Form a National Security Commission.

How did states respond to these directives?

So far almost all states have complied with the seven directives of the Supreme Court issued in Prakash Singh Case.

Model Police Act:

The Central Government has also reviewed the Model Police Act, 2006. Accordingly, a draft Model Police Bill, 2015 has been prepared and placed on the website of BPR&D.

Various committees in this regard:

There have been the National Police Commission, the Ribeiro and Padmanabhaiah committees, and other commissions which directly alluded to police reforms.

In addition, the Malimath Committee and the Second Administrative Reforms Commission indirectly expressed requirements for police reforms.

Issues present:

  • Colonial Law: The Police Act of 1861.
  • Huge vacancies.
  • Poor infrastructure.
  • Accountability and operational freedom issues.
  • Psychological Pressure.