A) Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

1. Tsunami and Tsunami early warning capability of India (TH)

  • Context: An article in the Hindu.


  • Earth System Science Organization- Indian National Centre for Ocean Information System (ESSO-INCOIS) was established as an autonomous body in 1999 under the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and is a unit of the ESSO.

Tsunami early warning capability of India

  • India can now detect large under sea earthquakes in real-time and provide a tsunami warning in 10 – 20 minutes after the earthquake occurrence.
  • In fact, for Indian Ocean earthquakes where the network of seismometers is reasonably good, quakes can now be detected in less than five minutes and a tsunami warning issued within 10 minutes if the quake occurs elsewhere in the globe.
  • Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC) was established at Indian National Centre for Ocean Information System (INCOIS), Hyderabad in 2007 after the 2004 Tsunami which caused havoc in Indian Ocean rim countries.
  • Tsunami early warning system in INCOIS is among the first few centres to introduce quantitative tsunami forecasts.
  • However, because of limited data on the historical occurrence of tsunamis, scientists at the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) have developed a technique that uses mathematical modelling to estimate if an earthquake, in India’s oceanic neighbourhood, will result in a tsunami.
  • ESSO-INCOIS provides round-the-clock monitoring and warning services for the coastal population on tsunamis, storm surges, high waves, etc. through the in-house Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC).
  • The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) designated Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC) as Tsunami Service Provider (TSP) for 28 Indian Ocean rim countries, along with Indonesia and Australia in 2011, for issuing regional warnings.
  • India already provides earthquake and tsunami-warning alerts to several countries in the Indian Ocean neighbourhood, as do Australia and Japan.
  • INCOIS’s other major work has been on identifying the Potential Fishing Zones (PFZ) for the fishermen community.
  • It is now able to give species specific information for Yellowfin Tuna and work is on developing advisories for species like Hilsa.
  • Another improvement is overcoming the cloud cover through usage of geostationary satellites and numerical modelling.
  • It has nearly 7 lakh fishermen’s mobile numbers to send advisories on whether it is safe to navigate into the sea.
  • The institute under the Ministry of Earth Sciences has also partnered with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Airports Authority of India (AAI) to develop a satellite-based message broadcasting services through the indigenous navigational satellite communication system ‘NAVIC’.
  • “Seafarers, anywhere in the northern Indian Ocean, have access to these fisheries and safety information on their mobile phones.
  • Intergovernmental Coordination Group for Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/IOTWMS) secretariat of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO is stationed at Perth, Australia.
  • The Indian Ocean is likely to be affected by tsunamis generated by earthquakes at two potential source regions, the Andaman-Nicobar-Sumatra Island subduction zone and the Makran Subduction Zone (MSZ), according to scientists at the Indian National Centre for Oceanic Information Services (INCOIS) here.
  • The MSZ off the coasts of Iran and Pakistan is poorly understood, especially the land/mud slides that can be triggered by the earthquakes.

UNESCO-IOC Tsunami Ready initiative

  • India has become the first country to implement ‘Tsunami Ready’ in the Indian Ocean Region and Odisha is the first State with two of its villages – Venkatraipur in Ganjam district and Noliasahi in Jagatsingpur district getting the UNESCO-Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)’s Certificate of Recognition and Certificate of Appreciation.
  • The recognition for both the villages adhering to the 11 point indicators to claim to be tsunami ready like:
  • Community tsunami risk reduction plan,
  • designated and mapped tsunami hazard zones,
  • public display of tsunami information,
  • easily understood tsunami evacuation maps,
  • outreach and public education materials,
  • three outreach or educational activities annually,
  • conduct an annual tsunami community exercise,
  • address tsunami hazards in the community’s emergency operations plan,
  • supporting the emergency operations centre during a tsunami,
  • reliable means for a 24-hour warning point to receive official tsunami threats and
  • issue round the clock tsunami alerts to the public.
  • To implement and monitor the implementation of Tsunami Ready and IOWave Exercises in India, Ministry of Earth Sciences established a National Board under the chairmanship of Director, INCOIS with members drawn from Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA), Andaman & Nicobar Islands Directorate of Disaster Management (DDM) and INCOIS.
  • The IOC is supporting all its Member States to build their scientific and institutional capacity in order to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 to conserve and sustainably manage ocean and marine resources by 2030.
  • The IOC is composed of its 150 Member States, an Assembly, an Executive Council and a Secretariat, based at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France.


  • A tsunami is a series of ocean waves caused by any large and sudden disturbance of the sea surface.
  • Normally, the seismic waves cause only one instantaneous vertical wave; but, after the initial disturbance, a series of afterwaves are created in the water that oscillate between high crest and low trough in order to restore the water level.
  • Tsunamis can be generated by landslides, volcanic eruptions, or even meteorite impacts in the ocean.
  • But they are most often caused by an earthquake where there’s a sudden displacement of the ocean floor.
  • An earthquake generates a tsunami if it is of sufficient force and there is violent movement of the earth to cause substantial and sudden displacement of a massive amount of water.
  • When that happens, there’s a transfer of energy from the seafloor to the ocean, causing waves on the surface to radiate outward in all directions.
  • In deep waters, these waves may not even be detectable.
  • But when the tsunami enters shallower waters, the wave speed slows and its height increases.
  • The potential warning signs of an incoming tsunami: a strong earthquake that causes difficulty standing; a rapid rise or fall of the water along the coast; a load ocean roar.
  • A large wall of turbulent water, called a “bore, may also form.
  • Tsunamis can affect locations thousands of miles away from where they formed.
  • A tsunami is not a single wave but a series of waves, also known as a wave train.
  • The first wave in a tsunami is not necessarily the most destructive. Tsunamis are not tidal waves.
  • Where the ocean is deep, tsunamis can travel unnoticed on the surface at speeds up to 500 miles an hour (800 kilometers an hour).
  • A tsunami may be less than a foot (30 centimeters) in height on the surface of the open ocean, which is why they are not noticed by sailors.
  • But the powerful shock wave of energy travels rapidly through the ocean as fast as a commercial jet.
  • Once a tsunami reaches shallow water near the coast, it is slowed down.
  • The top of the wave moves faster than the bottom, causing the sea to rise dramatically.
  • Scientists are able to calculate arrival times of tsunamis in different parts of the world based on their knowledge of water depths, distances, and when the event that generated them occurred.
  • Geological features such as reefs, bays, river entrances, and undersea formations may dissipate the energy of a tsunami
  • Most tsunamis cause the sea to rise no more than 10 feet (3 meters).
  • The speed of wave in the ocean depends upon the depth of water. It is more in the shallow water than in the ocean deep.
  • As a result of this, the impact of tsunami is less over the ocean and more near the coast where they cause large-scale devastations.
  • Therefore, a ship at sea is not much affected by tsunami and it is difficult to detect a tsunami in the deeper parts of sea.
  • It is so because over deep water the tsunami has very long wave-length and limited wave-height.
  • Thus, a tsunami wave raises the ship only a metre or two and each rise and fall takes several minutes.
  • As opposed to this, when a tsunami enters shallow water, its wave-length gets reduced and the period remains unchanged, which increases the waveheight.
  • Sometimes, this height can be up to 15m or more, which causes large-scale destructions along the shores. Thus, these are also called Shallow Water Waves.
  • Tsunamis are frequently observed along the Pacific ring of fire, particularly along the coast of Alaska, Japan, Philippines, and other islands of Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and India etc.
  • Coastal areas are densely populated the world over, and these are also centres of intense human activity, the loss of life and property is likely to be much higher by a tsunami as compared to other natural hazards in the coastal areas.
  • Tsunamis have been relatively rare in the Indian Ocean. They are most prevalent in the Pacific.

What is the difference between a tsunami and a tidal wave?

  • Although both are sea waves, a tsunami and a tidal wave are two different and unrelated phenomena.
  • A tidal wave is a shallow water wave caused by the gravitational interactions between the Sun, Moon, and Earth.
  • A tsunami is an ocean wave triggered by large earthquakes that occur near or under the ocean, volcanic eruptions, submarine landslides, or by onshore landslides in which large volumes of debris fall into the water.
  • In case of tidal waves, only the surface layer of water is involved, whereas in case of tsunamis, the whole column of water down to the sea floor is involved.
  • A tidal wave is a predictable event but Tsunamis are not.

    2. ‘Green’ crackers: Characteristics, components, toxicity (TH)

  • Context: Delhi is set for its first full-fledged date with ‘green’ crackers this Deepavali. A ban on fireworks was imposed in 2018 and in 2019 only ‘green’ crackers were allowed, but the permission had come too late for manufacturers to ensure their availability on time.


  • Green crackers are “reduced emission crackers“.
  • According to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, firecrackers that cause 30-35% lower emission of particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) and 35-40% lower emission of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide are categorized as “green crackers”- thereby reducing air pollution (there is no cracker in world that will have zero emission)
  • QR codes on green cracker packages will help consumers scan and identify counterfeits.
  • Supreme Court in 2018 banned the sale, use and manufacture of crackers that weren’t ‘green’. It banned the use of barium nitrate, a key pollutant in crackers (among others).
  • The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), a part of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), was asked by SC to facilitate the development of green crackers.

Characteristics of Green Crackers:

  • ‘Green’ crackers have a small shell size compared to traditional crackers.
  • Use of barium salt and ash as a drying agent is banned for such crackers.
  • They have low content of aluminium.
  • They are produced using less harmful raw materials.
  • They have additives which reduce emissions by suppressing dust/ reducing particulate matter.
  • They don’t contain banned chemicals such as lithium, arsenic, barium and lead. (Banned on directions of SC)
  • They couldn’t be loud beyond a certain limit.
  • Their clinical composition of fireworks will have to be reviewed by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO)

Efforts of CSIR-NEERI

  • The mainstay of the cracker manufacturing process, barium nitrate aids in making explosion in traditional fire cracker controlled, effective and convenient.
  • The Nagpur-based NEERI came out with formulations that substituted barium nitrate (Used to produce colourful flames in crackers) with potassium nitrate and zeolite (It drastically reduces nitrogen and sulphur emissions in the air).
  • These crackers have been named as safe water releaser (SWAS), safe minimal aluminium (SAFAL) and safe thermite cracker (STAR).
  • It has unique property of releasing water vapour and /or air as dust suppressant and diluent for gaseous emissions and matching performance in sound with conventional crackers.
  • It has a mixture of water and lime which is chemically stored in the cracker.
  • When lit, the effulgence also triggers this water and lime mixture and the resultant moisture wets the dust-and-smoke particles.
  • SWAS crackers eliminates usage of (KNO3) Potassium nitrate and Sulphurwith consequent reduction in particulate matter (30-35%) SO2and NOx. It has matching sound intensity with commercial crackers in the range of 105-110 dBA.
  • STAR eliminates usage of KNO3and S with consequent reduction in particulate matter (35-40%), SO2 and NOx. It has matching sound intensity with commercial crackers in the range of 105-110 dBA.
  • SAFAL has minimal usage of aluminium (only in flash powder for initiation) with consequent significant reduction in particulate matter(35-40 %) compared to commercial crackers. It has matching sound intensity with commercial crackers in the range of 110-115 dBA.
  • Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) has been approached to analyse and test SWAS/STAR/SAFAL from point of view of safety, stability and other related issues.

Why is burning of fire crackers harmful?

  • Burning of fireworks releases pollutants like Sulfur dioxide, Carbon dioxide, Carbon monoxide, suspended particles and metals like aluminium, manganese and cadmium which may lead to serious health hazards even cancer.
  • Note: Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu is India’s hub of fireworks.

Components in Fireworks and their effects

  • Aluminum – Aluminum is used to produce silver and white flames and sparks. It is a common component of sparklers.
  • Antimony – Antimony is used to create firework glitter effects.
  • Barium – Barium is used to create green colors in fireworks.
  • Calcium – Calcium is used to deepen firework colors. Calcium salts produce orange fireworks.
  • Carbon – Carbon is one of the main components of black powder, which is used as a propellant in fireworks. Carbon provides the fuel for a firework.
  • Copper – Copper compounds produce blue colors in fireworks.
  • Iron – Iron is used to produce sparks. The heat of the metal determines the color of the sparks.
  • Lithium – Lithium is a metal that is used to impart a red color to fireworks.
  • Magnesium – Magnesium burns a very bright white, so it is used to add white sparks or improve the overall brilliance of a firework.
  • Phosphorus – Phosphorus burns spontaneously in air and is also responsible for some glow-in-the-dark effects.
  • Sodium – Sodium imparts a gold or yellow color to fireworks, however, the color may be so bright that it masks less intense colors.
  • Strontium – Strontium salts impart a red color to fireworks. Strontium compounds are also important for stabilizing fireworks mixtures.
  • Titanium – Titanium metal can be burned as powder or flakes to produce silver sparks.
  • Zinc – Zinc is used to create smoke effects for fireworks.

Petroleum & Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO)

  • Petroleum & Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), Nagpur is the nodal Organization to look after safety requirements in manufacture, storage, transport and use of explosives and petroleum.
  • Fireworks Research and Development Centre (FRDC) at Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu for testing and development of ecofriendly fireworks has been set up by PESO to ensure safety and security of public and property from fire and explosion.
  • As a statutory authority, PESO is entrusted with the responsibilities under the
  • Explosives Act, 1884;
  • Petroleum Act, 1934;
  • Inflammable Substances Act, 1952, and
  • Environment (Protection Act), 1986

    B) International Relations

    1. Azerbaijan Armenia Conflict (TH)

  • Context: Azerbaijan accused Armenia of killing people in a missile strike near Nagorno-Karabakh, the deadliest reported attack on civilians in a month of fighting over the disputed region.


What is this conflict about?

  • For approximately four decades, territorial disputes and ethnic conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Central Asia have impacted the Nagorno-Karabakh region in the South Caucasus.
  • Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan in a conflict that broke out as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. It is now run by ethnic Armenians
  • Though a ceasefire was agreed in 1994, after thousands of people were killed and many more displaced, Azerbaijan and Armenia frequently accuse each other of attacks around Nagorno-Karabakh and along the separate Azeri-Armenian frontier.
  • Pipelines shipping Caspian oil and natural gas from Azerbaijan to the world passes near Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • In an open war between the two countries, the pipelines could be targeted, which would impact energy supplies.

Oil pipelines in this region

  • The energy-rich Azerbaijan has built several gas and oil pipelines across the Caucasus to Turkey and Europe.
  • This includes the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the Western Route Export oil pipeline, the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline and the South Caucasus gas pipeline.

South Caucasus

  • The South Caucasus, comprising the states of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, is internationally known for its conflicts after the break-up of the Soviet Union (USSR) of which it formed a part.
  • The South Caucasus continues to face various unresolved territorial conflicts such as Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, and between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • Caucasus mountain system and region lies between the Black Sea (west) and the Caspian Sea (east) and occupied by Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia.

    2. Chileans vote for new Constitution (TH)

  • Chileans voted overwhelmingly in a landmark referendum recently to replace their dictatorship-era Constitution, long seen as underpinning the nation’s glaring economic and social inequalities.
  • The result set off wild celebrations across the capital and other cities after voters threw out the Constitution left by the regime of 1973-1990 dictator Augusto Pinochet.

    C) Miscellaneous

    1. Infantry Day Celebrated (PIB)

  • Infantry Dayto commemorate the contributions of Infantry (foot soldiers), the largest fighting arm of the Indian Army was celebrated on 27 October 2020.
  • This day has a unique significance for Infantry, as it was on this day in 1947 that Infantrymen from Indian Army became the first troops to land at Srinagar airport, an act which turned back the invaders from the outskirts of Srinagar and saved the state of Jammu and Kashmir from a Pakistan backed tribal invasion.

Operation VIJAY

  • The year 2019, marks the 20thanniversary of victory in ‘Operation VIJAY’ popularly known as the ‘Kargil War’. 

Operation Meghdoot 

  • Operation Meghdoot’was the codename for the Indian Armed Forces’ operation to seize control of the Siachen Glacier in Kashmir.                                                                                                                                 

    2. Theaterisation and tri-service command (PIB)

  • Theaterisation means putting specific units of personnel from the three services — Army, Navy and Air Force — under a common theatre commander so that they fight as a cohesive unit through rationalisation of manpower and resources.
  • Facilitating the restructuring of military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through establishment of joint/theatre commands is one of the responsibilities given to the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).
  • While the Air Defence is primarily the responsibility of the Indian Air Force, every service has its own Air Defence systems.
  • The Andaman and Nicobar Command is the only tri-service command at present.


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