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Current Affairs 17 April 2024

  1. Water Crisis: 13 East-Flowing Rivers Between Mahanadi and Pennar Run Dry
  2. Custodial Death
  3. Film on Usha Mehta Highlights Her Significant Role in the Quit India Movement
  4. IMD Forecasts “Above Normal” Monsoon for India in 2024
  5. Kerogen
  6. Lake Kariba
  7. Operation Meghdoot


According to data released by the Central Water Commission (CWC), at least 13 east-flowing rivers between the Mahanadi and Pennar basins are currently devoid of water. This alarming situation underscores the severity of the water crisis affecting these regions and highlights the urgent need for sustainable water management practices, conservation efforts, and effective water resource planning to address the growing water scarcity and ensure the availability of water for both human and ecological needs.


GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Crisis Faced by East-Flowing Rivers in India
  2. Reasons for the Drying of East-Flowing Rivers
  3. Measures to Address the Issue of River Drying

Crisis Faced by East-Flowing Rivers in India

Affected Rivers:

  • 13 east-flowing rivers between Mahanadi and Pennar are currently dry:
    • Rushikulya, Bahuda, Vamsadhara, Nagavali, Sarada, Varaha, Tandava, Eluru, Gundlakamma, Tammileru, Musi, Paleru, and Munneru.
  • These rivers flow through Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Odisha, draining into the Bay of Bengal.

Water Storage Decline:

  • Basin storage reached zero on 21st March, down from 32.28% capacity at the same time last year.
Water Crisis in Other River Basins

Deficient Water Storage:

  • Cauvery, Pennar, and east-flowing rivers between Pennar and Kanniyakumari are experiencing deficient or highly deficient water storage.
  • Ganga basin has less than half of its total capacity, lower than the same period last year.
  • Narmada, Tapi, Godavari, Mahanadi, and Sabarmati river basins also have reduced storage levels.

Overall Water Storage:

  • India’s 150 major reservoirs are at 36% of their total capacity in live storage.
  • At least six reservoirs have no water storage.
  • 286,000 villages in 11 states on the Ganga basin are facing water availability decline.

Drought Conditions:

  • 35.2% of the country’s area is under abnormal to exceptional drought conditions.
  • 7.8% under extreme drought and 3.8% under exceptional drought.
  • Karnataka and Telangana are dealing with drought and drought-like conditions due to rainfall deficits.

Reasons for the Drying of East-Flowing Rivers

  • Deforestation:
    • Reduced soil water retention leading to decreased groundwater recharge and river flows.
  • Changing Weather Patterns:
    • Irregular rainfall and increased temperatures affecting river flow.
    • Climate change causing prolonged droughts and reduced water flow.
  • Infrastructure:
    • Dams and water diversion for irrigation reduce downstream river flow.
    • Unregulated sand mining causing river flow disruption and erosion.
  • Water Pollution:
    • Industrial, agricultural, and domestic waste pollution.
    • Invasive species like water hyacinths degrading water quality and harming aquatic life.
  • Urbanization:
    • Urban expansion and encroachment altering natural river flow.
  • Awareness and Conservation:
    • Limited awareness and ineffective conservation measures impacting river health and flow.

Measures to Address the Issue of River Drying

Water Conservation Techniques:

  • Rainwater Harvesting: Capture and store rainwater to replenish groundwater.
  • Watershed Management: Manage and protect the natural resources in a watershed to improve water quality and quantity.
  • Soil Moisture Conservation: Implement practices to improve soil’s ability to retain moisture and reduce runoff.

Efficient Irrigation Practices:

  • Promote Drip Irrigation and Sprinkler Irrigation to reduce water wastage and ensure sustainable water use in agriculture.

Afforestation and Reforestation:

  • Increase vegetative cover to reduce soil erosion, improve groundwater recharge, and maintain river flow.

Groundwater Regulation:

  • Enforce strict regulations on groundwater extraction to maintain the base flow of rivers and prevent drying.

Interlinking Rivers:

  • Explore the feasibility of Interlinking Rivers to transfer surplus water from water-rich regions to water-deficient regions. For example, the Ken-Betwa River link project.

Community Involvement:

  • Engage local communities in water management and conservation efforts to ensure sustainable water use and maintain river flow.

Policy Reforms:

  • Implement policy reforms to promote sustainable water management practices, regulate water use, and combat river drying.

Research and Development:

  • Invest in research and develop new technologies and practices for water conservation and management to find innovative solutions to the problem.

-Source: The Hindu


The Supreme Court has emphasised the necessity of adopting a “more rigorous approach” when considering bail applications from police officers charged in cases of custodial deaths.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Custodial death:
  2. Reasons for Custodial Deaths
  3. What are the Provisions Available Regarding Custody?

About Custodial death:


  • Custodial death refers to the death of a person who was in the custody of law enforcement officials or in a correctional facility.
  • This can happen due to various reasons, including the use of excessive force, neglect, or abuse by the authorities.


  • According to the Law Commission of India, custodial violence is a crime committed by a public servant against an arrested or detained person who is in custody.

Custodial Death in India:

  • In recent years, the number of custodial deaths in India has been a cause for concern.
  • In 2017-2018, a total of 146 cases of death in police custody were reported.
  • This number decreased to 136 in 2018-2019, 112 in 2019-2020, 100 in 2020-2021 but increased again to 175 in 2021-2022.
  • The highest number of custodial deaths were reported in Gujarat, with 80 cases in the last five years. Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Bihar also had a high number of cases.

NHRC Recommendations:

  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recommended monetary relief in 201 cases and disciplinary action in one case related to custodial deaths.

Reasons for Custodial Deaths

  • Absence of Strong Legislation: India does not have an anti-torture legislation and is yet to criminalise custodial violence, while action against culpable officials remains illusory.
  • Excessive force: Law enforcement officials may use excessive force against a person in custody, which can lead to severe injuries or even death.
  • Neglect: Failure to provide adequate medical care, nutrition, or hygienic conditions to the person in custody can also result in custodial deaths.
  • Abuse: Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse by law enforcement officials can cause custodial deaths.
  • Torture: Torture, whether physical or psychological, can lead to severe injuries and even death.
  • Suicide: Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and trauma can drive a person to commit suicide while in custody.
  • Medical conditions: Existing medical conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, can become life-threatening if not adequately treated while in custody.

It’s important to note that in many cases, multiple factors may contribute to custodial deaths. It’s the responsibility of law enforcement officials and correctional facilities to ensure the safety and well-being of persons in their custody.

What are the Provisions Available Regarding Custody?

Constitutional Provisions

  • Under the Indian Constitution, Article 21 provides for the protection of the right to life and personal liberty, and it states that no person shall be deprived of their life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.
  • The right to be protected from torture is also considered a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Article 22 provides protection against arrest and detention in certain cases, and it stipulates the right to counsel as a fundamental right.

Administrative provisions

  • Role of State Government:
    • Police and public order are State subjects, and it is primarily the responsibility of the State government to ensure the protection of human rights.
  • Role of Central Government:
    • The Central Government issues advisories and has enacted the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHR), 1993.
    • This act stipulates the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and State Human Rights Commissions to look into alleged human rights violations by public servants.

Legal Provisions

  • The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) Section 41 was amended in 2009 to include safeguards for arrests and detentions, reasonable grounds and documented procedures, transparency to family and friends, and legal representation.
  • The Indian Penal Code (IPC) provides for punishment for injury inflicted for extorting confession under sections 330 and 331.
  • The crime of custodial torture against prisoners can be brought under sections 302, 304, 304A, and 306 of the IPC.
  • The Indian Evidence Act, 1872, provides for the protection of an accused person’s confession made to the police.
    • Section 25 of the Act stipulates that a confession made to the police cannot be admitted in court.
    • Section 26 of the Act provides that a confession made to the police by a person cannot be proved against that person unless it is made before the Magistrate.
  • The Indian Police Act, 1861, provides for the dismissal, penalty, or suspension of police officers who are negligent in the discharge of their duties or unfit to perform the same under sections 7 and 29 of the Act.

-Source: Indian Express


The recent release of a film portraying the life of freedom fighter Usha Mehta serves to underscore the importance of her historical contributions and sacrifices during the Quit India Movement. This cinematic tribute brings renewed attention to Mehta’s pivotal role in India’s struggle for independence, emphasizing her courage, dedication, and unwavering commitment to the cause of freedom. By commemorating Usha Mehta’s legacy, the film not only honors her memory but also educates and inspires future generations about the sacrifices made by individuals like her in shaping India’s history and securing its independence.


GS I: History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Role of Usha Mehta in the Quit India Movement (QIM)
  2. Build-up to August 1942
  3. Extent of Mass Participation
  4. Brutal suppression of protests

Role of Usha Mehta in the Quit India Movement (QIM)

Background on Usha Mehta:

  • A 22-year-old law student inspired by Gandhi’s ideology, prompting her to abandon her studies and actively join the Quit India Movement.

Establishment of Congress Radio:

  • Recognizing the power of communication, Mehta conceived the idea of Congress Radio as a covert means of sharing information.
  • Faced challenges in funding and technical expertise, but with the help of associates like Nariman Printer, she worked to establish Congress Radio.
  • Despite British regulatory restrictions, Printer’s expertise led to the creation of a functional transmitter, allowing Congress Radio to make its first broadcast on 3rd September 1942.

Catalyzing Independence Through Broadcasts:

  • Congress Radio quickly became a leading news source for Indians, bypassing colonial censorship and sharing vital information about the movement’s progress.
  • In addition to news, the station broadcasted political speeches and ideological messages, bolstering people’s commitment to achieving independence.

Legal Consequences and Legacy:

  • The clandestine operations of Congress Radio drew the attention of British authorities, resulting in the arrest and subsequent trial of Mehta and her associates.
  • Mehta, affectionately known as “Radio-ben” for her groundbreaking efforts, continued to uphold Gandhian principles post-independence.
  • She received national recognition, including the Padma Vibhushan award in 1998.

Build-up to August 1942

  • While factors leading to such a movement had been building up, matters came to a head with the failure of the Cripps Mission.
  • With World War II raging, the beleaguered British government needed the cooperation of its colonial subjects.
  • With this in mind, in March 1942, a mission led by Sir Stafford Cripps arrived in India to meet leaders of the Congress and the Muslim League.
  • The idea was to secure India’s whole-hearted support in the war, and the return offer to Indians was the promise of self-governance.
  • But things did not go that way. Despite the promise of “the earliest possible realisation of self-government in India”, Cripps only offered dominion status, not freedom. Also, there was a provision for the partition of India, which was not acceptable to the Congress.
  • The failure of the Cripps Mission made Gandhi realise that freedom would come only if Indians fought tooth and nail for it.
  • The Congress was initially reluctant to launch a movement that could hamper Britain’s efforts to defeat the fascist forces.
  • But it eventually decided on mass civil disobedience. At the Working Committee meeting in Wardha in July 1942, it was decided the time had come for the movement to move into an active phase.
  • Gandhi made a call to Do or Die in his Quit India speech, followed by the launch of a mass protest demanding what Gandhi called “An Orderly British Withdrawal” from India.
  • Almost the entire leadership of the Indian National Congress was imprisoned without trial within hours of Gandhi’s speech.
The slogan ‘Quit India’
  • While Gandhi gave the clarion call of Quit India, the slogan was coined by Yusuf Meherally, a socialist and trade unionist who also served as Mayor of Bombay.
  • A few years ago, in 1928, it was Meherally who had coined the slogan “Simon Go Back”.
Extent of Mass Participation
  • The participation was on many levels.
  • Youth, especially the students of schools and colleges, remained in the forefront.
  • Women, especially school and college girls, actively participated, and included Aruna Asaf Ali, Sucheta Kripalani and Usha Mehta.
  • Workers went on strikes and faced repression.
  • Peasants of all strata were at the heart of the movement. Even some zamindars participated. These peasants concentrated their offensive on symbols of authority and there was complete absence of anti-zamindar violence.
  • Government officials, especially those belonging to lower levels in police and administration, participated resulting in erosion of government loyalty.
  • Muslims helped by giving shelter to underground activists. There were no communal clashes during the movement.
  • The Communists did not join the movement; in the wake of Russia (where the communists were in power) being attacked by Nazi Germany, the communists began to support the British war against Germany and the ‘Imperialist War’ became the ‘People’s War’
  • The Muslim League opposed the movement, fearing that if the British left India at that time, the minorities would be oppressed by the Hindus.
  • The Hindu Mahasabha boycotted the movement.
  • The Princely states showed a low-key response.
Lack of Unity
  • The British had the support of the Viceroy’s Council (which had a majority of Indians), of the All India Muslim League, the princely states, the Indian Imperial Police, the British Indian Army, the Hindu Mahasabha and the Indian Civil Service.
  • Many Indian businessmen profiting from heavy wartime spending did NOT support the Quit India Movement.

Brutal suppression of protests

  • The Quit India movement was violently suppressed by the British — people were shot and lathicharged, villages were burnt, and backbreaking fines were imposed.
  • In the five months up to December 1942, an estimated 60,000 people had been thrown into jail.
  • However, though the movement was quelled, it changed the character of the Indian freedom struggle, with the masses rising up to demand with a passion and intensity like never before: that the British masters would have to Quit India.

-Source: Indian Express


The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted an “above normal” monsoon rainfall for India between June and September this year. Remarkably, this is the first time in a decade that the IMD has forecasted “above normal” rainfall at the initial stage, nearly 45 days ahead of the onset of the four-month monsoon season. This early prediction provides valuable insights for farmers, policymakers, and the general public, allowing them to better prepare for the anticipated weather conditions and potentially benefiting agricultural productivity and water resources management across the country.


GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. IMD’s Rainfall Prediction for 2024
  2. La Niña
  3. El Niño
  4. Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)

IMD’s Rainfall Prediction for 2024

Overall Rainfall Prediction:
  • Above Normal Rainfall:
    • The country is expected to receive 106% of the long period average (LPA) rainfall.
  • Long Period Average (LPA):
    • LPA is the average rainfall received over the past 50 years, specifically the average from 1971-2020.
    • Classification of Rainfall:
      • Normal: 96% to 104% of LPA
      • Deficient: Less than 90% of LPA
      • Below Normal: 90% to 95% of LPA
      • Above Normal: 105% to 110% of LPA
  • Regional Distribution:
    • Except for some regions in the northwest, east, and northeast, nearly the entire country is likely to receive good rainfall.
India’s Normal Rainfall:
  • India typically receives 870 mm of rainfall during the monsoon season.
Factors Indicating Above Normal Rainfall:

El Nino and La Nina:

  • Weakening of El Nino: A contributing factor to the good rainfall forecast.
  • Development of La Nina: Expected during the second half of the season (August-September), also contributing to the positive forecast.

Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD):

  • Positive IOD: Another factor indicating above normal rainfall for the season.

La Niña

  • La Niña is a coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that is the colder counterpart of El Niño, as part of the broader El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern.
  • is a coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that is the colder counterpart of El Niño, as part of the broader El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern.
  • During a period of La Niña, the sea surface temperature across the equatorial Eastern Central Pacific Ocean will be lower than normal by 3 to 5 °C (5.4 to 9 °F).
  • An appearance of La Niña persists for at least five months.
  • It has extensive effects on the weather across the globe, particularly in North America, even affecting the Atlantic and Pacific hurricane seasons, in which more tropical cyclones occur in the Atlantic basin due to low wind shear and warmer sea surface temperatures, while reducing tropical cyclogenesis in the Pacific Ocean.
  • La Niña is a complex weather pattern that occurs every few years, as a result of variations in ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific.
  • It occurs as strong winds blow warm water at the ocean’s surface from South America across the Pacific Ocean towards Indonesia.
  • As this warm water moves west, cold water from the deep sea rises to the surface near South America.
  • As a result, it is considered to be the cold phase of the broader El Niño–Southern Oscillation weather pattern, as well as the opposite of El Niño weather pattern.
  • La Niña impacts the global climate and disrupts normal weather patterns, which as a result can lead to intense storms in some places and droughts in others.

El Niño

  • El Niño is the warm phase of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and is associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific (between approximately the International Date Line and 120°W), including the area off the Pacific coast of South America.
  • The ENSO is the cycle of warm and cold sea surface temperature (SST) of the tropical central and eastern Pacific Ocean.
  • El Niño is accompanied by high air pressure in the western Pacific and low air pressure in the eastern Pacific.
  • During the development of El Niño, rainfall develops between September–November.
  • The cool phase of ENSO is La Niña, with SSTs in the eastern Pacific below average, and air pressure high in the eastern Pacific and low in the western Pacific.
  • The ENSO cycle, including both El Niño and La Niña, causes global changes in temperature and rainfall.

Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)

  • The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), sometimes referred to as the Indian Nino, is a phenomenon similar to El Nino.
  • It occurs in a relatively smaller area of the Indian Ocean, between the Indonesian and Malaysian coastline in the east and the African coastline near Somalia in the west.
  • In the IOD, one side of the ocean along the equator becomes warmer than the other.
  • A positive IOD occurs when the western side of the Indian Ocean, near the Somalia coast, becomes warmer than the eastern Indian Ocean.
  • Conversely, a negative IOD indicates cooler temperatures in the western Indian Ocean.
Negative IOD
  • Air circulation in the Indian Ocean basin moves from west to east near the surface and in the opposite direction at the upper levels.
  • Warmer waters from the western Pacific cross into the Indian Ocean, causing a slight temperature rise in that region.
  • During normal years, this leads to the rising of air and helps maintain the prevailing air circulation.
  • In years when the air circulation becomes stronger, more warm surface waters from the African coast are pushed towards the Indonesian islands, resulting in a warmer western Indian Ocean.
  • Hotter air rises, reinforcing the cycle of a negative IOD.
Positive IOD
  • Air circulation becomes weaker than normal, and in rare cases, it may even reverse direction.
  • As a result, the African coast becomes warmer, while the Indonesian coastline experiences cooler temperatures.
  • Positive IOD events often occur during El Nino periods, while negative IOD is sometimes associated with La Nina.
  • The cooling effect of El Nino on the Pacific side of Indonesia contributes to the development of a positive IOD in the Indian Ocean.

-Source: Indian Express, PIB


The primary source of hydrocarbons in the rocky underground is called kerogen: lumps of organic matter.


Facts for Prelims

About Kerogen

Definition and Composition:

  • Kerogen is the portion of naturally occurring organic matter that is insoluble in organic solvents.
  • Represents about 90% of the organic carbon in sediments.

Occurrence and Properties:

  • Found in source rock and can expel hydrocarbons upon thermal cracking.
  • Typical organic constituents include algae and woody plant material.
  • Consists of both lighter and heavier hydrocarbons.

Role in Hydrocarbon Formation:

  • Acts as a precursor to oil and natural gas.
  • Has a high molecular weight compared to bitumen or soluble organic matter.
  • Bitumen forms from kerogen during petroleum generation.

Types of Kerogens:

  • Type I: Mainly algal and amorphous kerogen, highly likely to generate oil.
  • Type II: Mixed terrestrial and marine source material, can generate waxy oil.
  • Type III: Woody terrestrial source material, typically generates gas.

Impact on Hydrocarbon Generation:

  • The type of kerogen largely determines the type of hydrocarbons produced in the rock.
  • Different kerogen types contain varying amounts of hydrogen relative to carbon and oxygen.
  • The hydrogen content of kerogen controls the yield of oil vs. gas from primary hydrocarbon-generating reactions.

-Source: The Hindu


Water levels at Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe have dropped dramatically because of the latest El Nino drought.


Facts for Prelims

About Lake Kariba

Size and Ranking:

  • World’s largest man-made lake and reservoir by volume.
  • Approximately 280 km long and 40 km wide, covering nearly 6,000 square kilometers.


  • Located approximately 1300 kilometers upstream from the Indian Ocean.
  • Situated along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
  • 200 kilometers downstream of Victoria Falls.


  • Formed following the completion of the Kariba Dam wall at its northeastern end.
  • The dam flooded the Kariba Gorge on the Zambezi River.

Kariba Dam:

  • Consists of a double-arch wall.
  • Dimensions:
    • Height: 128 meters
    • Length: 617 meters
    • Width (top): 13 meters
    • Width (base): 24 meters
  • Construction:
    • Began on 6th November 1956.
    • Completed in 1959, taking up to three years.


  • Provides substantial electric power to both Zambia and Zimbabwe.
  • Supports a thriving commercial fishing industry.

Geographical Features:

  • Situated across the Kariba gorge, creating a border crossing between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

-Source: Down To Earth


The Indian Army recently commemorated 40 years since ‘Operation Meghdoot’ began, securing the Siachen Glacier.


Facts for Prelims

About Operation Meghdoot


  • Code-name for the Indian Armed Forces operation to capture the Siachen Glacier, a strategically crucial region in Northern Ladakh.

Historical Context:

  • Siachen has been a point of contention between India and Pakistan since the Karachi Agreement of 1949.
  • The area remained undivided due to the challenging terrain and harsh weather conditions.


  • India’s military response to Pakistan’s “cartographic aggression” in Ladakh, north of map reference NJ9842, where the Line of Control (LoC) was previously agreed upon.


  • Launched on April 13, 1984.
  • Unique as the world’s first assault on the highest battlefield.
  • Led by Lieutenant General Manohar Lal Chibber, Lieutenant General PN Hoon, and Major General Shiv Sharma.
  • India secured strategic heights on Siachen, deploying troops via airlifts and air-dropping supplies to high-altitude airfields.


  • Pre-empted the seizure of Sia La and Bilafond La passes by the Pakistan Army.
  • Indian troops gained control of the entire Siachen Glacier.
  • Distinguished by seamless coordination and synergy between the Indian Army and the Air Force.

Strategic Importance of Siachen:

  • Location and Altitude:
    • Situated at around 20,000 feet in the Karakoram Mountain range.
    • Known as the highest militarised zone globally.
  • Strategic Domination:
    • Dominates the Shaksgam Valley (ceded to China by Pakistan in 1963) in the north.
    • Controls routes from Gilgit Baltistan to Leh from the west.
    • Dominates the ancient Karakoram Pass in the east.
    • Observes nearly the entire Gilgit Baltistan towards the west, an Indian territory illegally occupied by Pakistan in 1948.

-Source: The Economic Times

May 2024