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24th November Current Affairs

What is La Niña?

In News:

The La Niña weather phenomenon is back in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean after nearly a decade’s absence, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in its latest Global Seasonal update released October 29, 2020.

Implications:

La Niña will result in sea surface temperatures between two and three degrees Celsius cooler than average.

La Niña could last into 2021, affecting temperatures, precipitation and storm patterns in many parts of the world.

What is La Niña?

It means the large-scale cooling of ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, together with changes in the tropical atmospheric circulation, namely winds, pressure and rainfall.

It has the opposite impacts on weather and climate as El Niño, which is the warm phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

Weather changes because of La Nina:

The Horn of Africa and central Asia will see below average rainfall due to La Niña.

East Africa is forecast to see drier-than-usual conditions, which together with the existing impacts of the desert locust invasion, may add to regional food insecurity.

It could also lead to increased rainfall in southern Africa.

It could also affect the South West Indian Ocean Tropical Cyclone season, reducing the intensity.

Southeast Asia, some Pacific Islands and the northern region of South America are expected to receive above-average rainfall.

In India, La Niña means the country will receive more rainfall than normal, leading to floods.

Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushdhi Pariyojana

In News:

Pharma products worth Rs 358 crore sold through Jan Aushadhi stores during first seven months of this fiscal (up to Oct 31st ).

Likely to surpass sales of Rs 600 crore for entire fiscal year against Rs 419 crore in 2019-20.

About PMBJP:

It is a campaign launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.

It seeks to provide quality medicines at affordable prices to the masses through special kendra’s known as Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendra.

Initially launched in 2008, the scheme was rechristened in 2015.

Implementation:

Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) is the implementing agency of PMBJP.

BPPI (Bureau of Pharma Public Sector Undertakings of India) has been established under the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Govt. of India, with the support of all the CPSUs.

Scheme on Fortification of Rice

In News:

15 States have been identified for implementing Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on Fortification of Rice & its distribution through Public Distribution System.

The Pilot Scheme has been approved for a period of three years beginning 2019-2020.

What is Rice Fortification?

Fortification is the practice of deliberately increasing the content of  essential micronutrient, i.e. vitamins and minerals (including trace elements) in a food, so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health.

Need for Rice Fortification?

Rice is the world’s most important staple food. An estimated 2 billion people eat rice every day, forming the mainstay of diets across large of Asia and Africa.

Regular milled rice is low in micronutrients and serves primarily as a source of carbohydrate only. The fortification of rice is a major opportunity to improve nutrition.

Fortified rice are contains Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, Iron and Zinc.

More than 100 beached whales saved off Sri Lanka

In News:

More than 100 beached pilot whales saved off Sri Lanka.

Details:

The rescue was conducted by the navy, with help from environmental protection officers, police, and local residents.

Why do whales beach themselves?

Cetacean stranding, more commonly referred to as beaching, refers to the phenomenon of dolphins and whales stranding themselves on beaches.

Whale beachings are not uncommon. Scientists say the reason is often unknown but they have a range of theories, including:

  • Changes in water temperature.
  • Irregularities in whales’ echolocation.
  • Geomagnetic disturbances.
  • Errors made in navigation.
  • Hunting too close to shore.
  • Sonar interference.
  • Inclement weather.

Why mass standings happen?

It is more common for these cetaceans to live in large groups with intricate social systems. If one member of the group is sick or in trouble, its distress calls can cause the other members to follow it to the beach, resulting in a mass stranding.

Highly social mammals, pilot whales are particularly known for stranding in groups because they travel in large, close-knit communities which rely on constant communication.

Recent instances:

In September, several hundred whales died on the coast of Tasmania in Australia in one of the country’s biggest stranding on record and one of the largest in the world.

The largest mass stranding in modern recorded history was 1,000 whales on the shores of the Chatham Islands, a New Zealand territory in the Pacific Ocean in 1918.

About Pilot Whales:

Pilot whales are so named because it was once believed that each observed group was navigated by a pilot or leader.

There are two species of pilot whales: Short finned pilot whales, which are mainly found in tropical and warm-temperate regions, and long-finned pilot whales, which inhabit colder waters.

Both species are designated as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Project Lion: Proposal identifies 6 relocation sites

Background:

Six new sites apart from the Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary were identified under Project Lion that was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15, 2020.

The six new sites include:

  • Madhav National Park, Madhya Pradesh.
  • Sitamata Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajasthan.
  • Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan.
  • Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh.
  • Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajasthan.
  • Jessore-Balaram Ambaji WLS and adjoining landscape, Gujarat.

Lion relocation has been talked about since 1995, when the Kuno Wildife Sanctuary was identified as an alternate site. What is the need for relocation?

The population in Gir has low genetic diversity, making it vulnerable to threats of extension from epidemics.

Lions are found in Gujarat across an area of 30,000 sq km called the Asiatic Lion Landscape (ALL).

Besides, the 2013 Supreme Court order directed Gujarat to relocate lions to the Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary.

About Asiatic Lions:

Listed as ‘Endangered’ under the IUCN Red List.

Its population is restricted to the state of Gujarat in India (Gir National Park).