IMD predictions of Monsoon

In News

  • India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted a borderline-level normal summer monsoon rainfall this year. 

About IMD 

  • It is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
  • It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology.
  • It is also one of the six Regional Specialised Meteorological Centres of the World Meteorological Organisation.
  • IMD releases the long range forecast in two stages in April and June.

Predictions by IMD

  • Normal to below normal rainfall:
    • The rainfall during the June-September period is likely to be 96% of the long-term average Period.
    • Normal to below normal rainfall in some areas of north west India and some parts of west central India and some pockets of north east India.
  • El Nino impact:
    • The El Nino is the key factor responsible for the relatively less rainfall this year.
    • Since 2019, India has been under the influence of the converse ‘La Nina’ and therefore is getting substantial monsoon rains.
    • The El Nino event, triggered by warm water in the equatorial Pacific, can affect weather patterns worldwide and in India, El Nino linked to drier conditions and reduced rainfall.
  • Current La Nina:
    • The current La Lina conditions, which is usually favourable to monsoon, has changed to neutral over the equatorial Pacific region.

IMD Categorisation Method of Monsoon

  • Long Period Average (LPA): 
    • LPA of rainfall is the rainfall recorded over a particular region for a given interval (like month or season) averaged over a long period like 30 years, 50-years etc. 
    • It acts as a benchmark while forecasting the quantitative rainfall for that region for a specific month or season.
  • Categories of Rainfall:
    • Large Excess: ≥60% of  long period average (LPA).
    • Excess: 20% to 59% of  long period average (LPA).
    • Normal:  -19% to +19% of  long period average (LPA).
    • Deficient: -59% to -20% of  long period average (LPA).
    • Large Deficient:  -99% to -60% of  long period average (LPA).
  • Predicting the Monsoon: Monsoon season is from June to September in India as a whole, the long period average (LPA) is 88 cm and standard deviation is 9cm (about 10% of mean value).
    • Therefore, when the rainfall averaged over the country as a whole is within ±10% from its LPA or 90% to 110% of LPA, the rainfall is said to be “normal” and when the rainfall is <90% of LPA it is considered to be below normal and when it is >110% of LPA, the rainfall is said to be “above normal”.

Monsoon & its onset

  • A monsoon is a seasonal change in the direction of the prevailing, or strongest, winds of a region. 
  • The monsoon that starts around the first week of June, making the first landfall in Kerala.
  • From October to November, the retreating monsoon or the Northeast monsoon sets in, and brings rain to the eastern coast of India, especially Tamil Nadu. 
  • Various factors such as the availability of energy in the atmosphere, the intertropical convergence zone, the Coriolis effect and jet streams, play a role in facilitating the southwest monsoons.

Effects of Monsoon on Indian Subcontinent

  • Agriculture & Economy: Adequate and timely monsoon showers are vital for India’s agriculture sector, the main source of livelihood for some 60% of its population and which accounts for about 18% of the economy.
    • Nearly half of India’s farmland, which has no irrigation cover, depends on annual June-September rains to grow crops such as rice, corn, cane, cotton and soybeans.
    • Monsoon uncertainty can pose potential risk to the economy.
  • Rivers: The monsoon brings water and sediment not only to Indian rivers but also to rivers in China, Bangladesh, etc.

Know about El Nino and La Nina

  • Normal Conditions: During normal conditions in the Pacific ocean, trade winds blow west along the equator, taking warm water from South America towards Asia. 
    • To replace that warm water, cold water rises from the depths — a process called upwelling. 
  • El Niño and La Niña are two opposing climate patterns that break these normal conditions.
  • El Nino: During El Niño, trade winds weaken. Warm water is pushed back east, toward the west coast of the Americas and as a result cold water is pushed towards Asia.
    • El Niño means Little Boy in Spanish. South American fishermen first noticed periods of unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean in the 1600s. The full name they used was El Niño de Navidad, because El Niño typically peaks around December.
  • La Niña: It means Little Girl in Spanish. La Niña is also sometimes called El Viejo, anti-El Niño, or simply “a cold event.” La Niña has the opposite effect of El Niño. During La Niña events, trade winds are even stronger than usual, pushing more warm water toward Asia

Effects on the Indian Ocean

  • A transition from a La Niña winter to an El Niño summer has historically tended to produce a largest deficit in the monsoon. If an El Niño emerges by summer, India is likely to experience a deficit monsoon. The monsoon deficit will be accompanied by extreme wet and dry events. 
  • The vertical shear, which is the change in intensity of winds from the surface to the upper atmosphere, tends to be weaker as well. This in turn can favour enhanced cyclogenesis, i.e. cyclone formation.
  • The La Nina phenomenon on the other hand can lead to the above normal rainfall and decreased temperature in India.

Good Friday Agreement

In News

  • The US President Joe Biden is going to visit Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

Good Friday Agreement

  • The Good Friday Agreement was signed on April 10, 1998, between factions of Northern Ireland, and the governments of Britain and Ireland.
  • It ended 30 years of the violence known as ‘The Troubles’, has been hailed as a model deal to end long-standing conflicts, and fetched a joint Nobel peace prize for David Trimble and John Hume, then leaders of the two opposing parties in Northern Ireland.
  • It was signed to end decades of violence in Northern Ireland among those who wished to remain with the United Kingdom (UK) and those who wanted to join Ireland.

What were The Troubles?

  • Northern Ireland was created in May 1921 by partitioning Ireland, and consists of the six northeastern counties of the island.
  • In 1922, the rest of Ireland gained independence from the British (today’s Republic of Ireland, with its capital in Dublin). Northern Ireland remained with the United Kingdom, but tensions simmered between the side loyal to the Crown, mostly Protestants, and the faction wanting to join the Republic, mostly Catholics.
  • By the 1960s, the Protestants had become more powerful and the Catholics started facing discrimination.
  • The violence erupted between both factions – The Troubles, claiming the lives of more than 3,500 people.

What were the terms of the Good Friday Agreement?

  • Northern Ireland would remain part of the UK, but could join Ireland if, in a referendum, a majority of people on both sides voted for it. 
  • People born in Northern Ireland could have Irish or British nationality or both.
  • Northern Ireland would get a new government, which would have powers over local matters, while the UK government would look after security, foreign policy, tax laws, immigration rules, etc.
  • On May 22 1998, a referendum was held in Ireland and Northern Ireland, and the agreement was approved by 94% of voters in Ireland and 71% in Northern Ireland.

What is the status 25 years on?

  • The most important achievement of the Good Friday Agreement has been an end to bloodshed and enduring peace in the region.
  • Brexit has thrown a spanner in the works. Ireland has been paralysed for more than a year. 
  • Britain’s intelligence agency (MI5), recently increased the threat level in Northern Ireland from domestic terrorism to “severe”.
  • Several pro-Union political parties in N. Ireland (like the DUP) started boycotting the agreement.
  • To solve this crisis, the UK and the EU recently reached an agreement known as the Windsor Framework.

Why is the US so enthusiastic about the Agreement?

  • The US had played a key part in negotiations building up to the agreement.
  • The USA’s current President (Biden) is descended from Irish immigrants (second after John F Kennedy) and is vocally proud of his Irish heritage.

India in Nepal’s Hydropower

In News

  • Nepal is now at the cusp of realising a long-awaited dream of development through its hydropower resources.

India in Nepal’s hydropower 

  • Post-independence:
    • Historically, India has shied away from the development of Nepal’s hydropower resources. 
    • Delhi has few legacy projects in the sector, instead choosing to prioritise other infrastructure sectors in Nepal.
  • Current scenario:
    • A careful reading of India’s Nepal policy in the past few years suggests that Delhi has quietly taken the lead in Nepal with its push for connectivity, especially in hydropower development and trade.
  • List of hydropower Projects:
    • Arun III project:
      • The 900 MW Arun III project is being developed by a subsidiary of Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN), is moving ahead at a quick pace,
    • Seti project:
      • Nepal has signed an agreement with NHPC Limited to develop both the 750 MW West Seti project, from which China’s Three Gorges Corporation had pulled out citing it was financially not viable, and the additional 450 MW Seti River 6 project on the same river. 
    • Upper Karnali project:
      • The Indian corporate GMR group has been given the licence to develop the 900 MW Upper Karnali project.
      • However, the project has run into trouble with the company being unable to achieve financial closure within the stipulated deadline.
    • Phukot Karnali project, Tamor River project:
      • Two of the hydro projects listed under possible BRI ventures inside Nepal—the 480 MW Phukot Karnali project and the 756 MW Tamor River storage-type project—have been awarded to NHPC and SJVN respectively. 
    • Cross-border transmission lines:
      • Several cross-border transmission lines are in the works, with the capacity of the Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur transmission line agreed to be expanded to 800 MW from the current 600 MW
      • An agreement has been signed towards the export of Nepali power using transmission lines in Bihar at a fixed rate of INR 7.21 per unit.
    • Nepal’s Power export to India:
      • The most exciting development—one that could realise Nepal’s much-awaited hydropower potential—has been the export of NPR 11 billion (INR 6.8 billion) worth of power to India between June and December 2022. 
      • Nepal is currently allowed to sell 452.6 MW generated from 10 projects in the Indian day-ahead electricity market.
      • Similarly, Nepali private power companies may soon also be able to sell their power directly to Indian buyers.

Issues & challenges

  • ISTS charges:
    • There are worries that India’s decision to waive off Inter-State Transmission System (ISTS) charges to its domestic projects will make Nepali power exports less competitive, and Kathmandu will be seeking a similar waiver on its power exports as well.
  • India-China issue:
    • The reverberations of the India-China contest have been felt in Nepal, with India blocking access to its markets for infrastructure projects developed or funded by China
    • This has created a great degree of anxiety among Nepali private sector power developers who are looking towards India as the potential export market. 
    • Locking market access may create a disincentive for Nepal to not look towards China, but the policy has also allowed China to access Nepali markets that were previously restricted to it. 
  • Projects involving Chinese contractors:
    • India’s move has also been extended to projects where both Indian and Chinese contractors have been involved, such as the 456 MW Upper Tamakoshi project, as well as to projects funded by multilateral institutions such as the ADB like the Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa, which was built by a Chinese contractor.


  • Export of Nepali power to Bangladesh:
    • India’s regional connectivity push will get additional momentum if it expedites the export of Nepali power to Bangladesh using Indian transmission lines
    • Both Kathmandu and Dhaka are highly positive about the proposal which, after Delhi’s go-ahead, will be one of the few instances globally of trilateral power cooperation. 
    • This will provide a boost to larger BBIN connectivity and India’s G20 aspirations, as well as provide momentum to the recent joint vision statement on power sector cooperation between Nepal and India.
  • Bilateral UPI payment interface:
    • Expediting moves such as a bilateral UPI payment interface, which are at an incipient stage at the moment, will boost this connectivity drive.

Way ahead

  • Regional connectivity has long been a mirage in South Asia, but developments over the past few years have raised hopes that it can finally be achieved in the culturally similar but economically disconnected region
  • The key will be India’s assurance to its neighbors that Delhi is committed to realising its vision for the global South in the G20 presidency and taking the connectivity projects in South Asia one step further.

Saudi Arabia’s Quest for Strategic Autonomy

In News

  • Recently, Saudi and Iranian officials held bilateral talks, mediated by China in Beijing, that concluded with an agreement to restore diplomatic ties which have been severed since 2016.  

Recent changes in Saudi’s Foreign Policy

  • Normalization of diplomatic ties with Iran.
  • Saudi Arabia agrees to join SCO as a dialogue partner.
  • Various reports suggest Russia mediating talks between Saudi and Syria.
  • Saudi-Omani delegation to Yemen for permanent ceasefire with Houthis.

Why are these changes now?

  • Saudi Arabia’s response to the Iran problem has shifted from strategic rivalry and proxy conflicts to tactical de-escalation and mutual coexistence.
  • Kingdom’s recent regional bets were either unsuccessful or only partially successful in case of Syrian Civil war and Yemen conflict.
  • In parallel, the U.S.’s priority is shifting away from West Asia. 

Is Saudi moving away from the U.S.?

  • De-Americanization of West Asia is not a Saudi goal. Rather it is trying to exploit  America’s weakness in the region to establish its own autonomy by building better ties with Russia and China and mending relations with regional powers without completely losing the U.S.
  • The Kingdom is also trying to develop advanced missile and drone capabilities to counter Iran’s edge in these areas with help from the U.S.
  • Saudi Arabia joined hands with Russia to affect oil production cuts twice since the Ukraine war began
  • It has also built stronger trade and defense ties with China, and the Iran reconciliation deal, under China’s mediation, announced Beijing’s arrival as a power broker in West Asia.
  • Saudi Arabia has placed orders for Boeing aircraft worth $35 billion and entered into conditional talks with the U.S. on normalizing ties with Israel.

What are the implications for the region?

  • If Syria rejoins the Arab League, it would improve the overall relationship between Damascus and other Arab capitals.
  • If the Saudis end the Yemen war through a settlement with Riyadh would get a calmer border.

Implications for the India and world

  • It would help in ending ethnic conflict of Shia Sunni.
  • It would assist India in balancing regional powers in West Asia.
  • Peace in areas like Yemen, Syria would improve Oil supply in the market.
  • It leads to a multi-polar world with the increasing role of China and Russia in west Asia.
  • Safety of the Indian diaspora would be ensured by peace in the Persian Gulf area.
India-Saudi Arabia Bilateral RelationsPolitical Relations:The establishment of diplomatic relations in 1947 was followed by high-level visits from both sides.The historic visit of King Abdullah to India in 2006 was a watershed moment that resulted in the signing of the ‘Delhi Declaration’, imparting a fresh momentum to the bilateral relationship.Commercial Relations:Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trade partner (after China, USA and Japan) and a major source of energy as India imports around 18% of its crude oil requirement from the Kingdom.Saudi Arabia is also a major source of LPG for India.During FY22, bilateral trade was valued at US$29.28 billion. India’s imports from Saudi Arabia were valued at US$22.65 billion and exports to Saudi Arabia were worth US$6.63 billion. Cultural Relations:India successfully participated as ‘Guest of Honour’ in the 32nd edition of the prestigious Saudi National Festival of Heritage and Culture in 2018.Yoga was announced as a ‘sports activity’ in Saudi Arabia.Haj pilgrimage is another important component of bilateral relations.Military exercise:AL – Mohed-AL – Hindi is the maiden bilateral naval exercise between India and Saudi Arabia. Diaspora:The approximately 2.2 million strong Indian community is the largest expatriate community in the Kingdom. 
What is a Dialogue Partner?Dialogue Partners refer to individual sovereign states and not members, but with a special interest and/or capacity to contribute, particularly in the areas of common interest.SCOSCO is a Eurasian political, economic, international security and defence organization founded in Shanghai in 2001. It is the world’s largest regional organization in terms of geographic scope and population, covering approximately 60% of the area of Eurasia, 40% of the world population, and more than 30% of global GDP.The SCO currently comprises eight Member States (China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), four Observer States interested in acceding to full membership (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia) and 9 “Dialogue Partners”.SCO has mainly focused on regional security issues, its fight against regional terrorism, ethnic separatism and religious extremism. SCO’s priorities also include regional development.SCO has been an observer in the UN General Assembly since 2005.

Language Friendship Bridge

In News

  • The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) has envisaged a special project called The Language Friendship Bridge.

Language Friendship Bridge

  • About:
    • ICCR will create a pool of experts in 10 languages from some neighbouring countries and others who share a cultural heritage with India.
  • Objective: 
    • India plans to expand  its cultural footprint in nations with whom it has historical ties, including those in its immediate neighbourhood.
  • Countries:
    • Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan and Indonesia to facilitate better people-to-people exchanges.
  • Languages:
    • Kazakh, Uzbek, Bhutanese, Ghoti (spoken in Tibet), Burmese, Khmer (spoken in Cambodia), Thai, Sinhalese and Bahasa (spoken in both Indonesia and Malaysia).
  • Implementation:
    • ICCR plans to train five to 10 people in the official languages of these countries and plans to roll out the project by this year.
  • University consultations:
    •  ICCR is in discussion with universities and institutes as well as experts offering foreign language courses in the country on the modalities of implementing the project.
  • Two possibilities to rollout the project: 
    • One is to institute tie-ups wherein teachers from these countries come and teach courses in India. 
    • The second approach is ICCR offering scholarships to Indian students to go and study these languages in the countries where they are spoken.

Need & Significance for the Project

  • In India, the language learning focus till now has been on European languages like Spanish, French and German, along with the languages of major Asian economies like China and Japan. 
  • India requires translators, interpreters and teachers in the languages of the countries with whom it shares a cultural history.
  • A large number of people are visiting India for treatment from countries like Turkey, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Maldives and there is an urgent need for a pool of translators and interpreters for facilitating their visits as well.
  • With India seeing a boom in cultural and economic ties with other neighbouring countries the move was needed and experts also feel that the ICCR’s list of languages needs to be expanded.
Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) It was founded in 1950 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, India’s first Education Minister. It is an autonomous body under the Ministry of External Affairs.Its objectives are to actively participate in the formulation and implementation of policies and programs pertaining to India’s external cultural relations; to foster and strengthen cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and other countries; to promote cultural exchanges with other countries and people; and to develop relations with nations.

Mission Arikompan

In News

  • Mission Arikompan is likely to be delayed as Kerala Forest department is yet to get a satellite radio collar.

What is Mission Arikompan?

  • The forest department has initiated ‘Mission Arikompan’, an operation to capture the rogue tusker by the name of Arikompan
  • The forest department has come up with a plan to capture it with tranquilizer shots and train it to be a ‘kumki’, a captive elephant used for operations against rogue elephants.

Parambikulam Tiger Reserve

  • Parambikulam Tiger Reserve is located in Palakkad district and Thrissur district of Kerala.
  • It is in the Sungam range of hills between the Anaimalai Hills and Nelliyampathy Hills.
  • The Western Ghats, Anaimalai Sub-Cluster, including all of Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary, has been declared by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee as a World Heritage Site
  • The Tiger Reserve is the home of four different tribes of indigenous peoples including the Kadar, Malasar, Muduvar and Mala Malasar.
  • This sanctuary is referred to as the “state capital for the massive gaur” by wildlife experts. 


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