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Current Affairs 28 March 2023


  1. Western Disturbances
  2. Launch Vehicle Mark- 3 (LVM-3)
  3. RoDTEP scheme
  4. Marburg virus disease
  5. DNA Profiling of Elephants
  6. Sea Slugs

Western Disturbances


According to recent studies, the changing character of Western Disturbances might be the primary cause of the abnormal winter seasons in India.

  • India has not experienced a normal winter season in the past three years. The second wettest season in the country after the monsoons has remained unusually dry and hot.


GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Western Disturbances
  2. Importance and Issues related to Western Disturbances for India
  3. Impact of Western Disturbances on Winter in India

Western Disturbances

  • Western Disturbances are a series of cyclonic storms that originate in the Mediterranean region and bring winter rains to northwest India.
  • They travel a distance of over 9,000 km and collect moisture from the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, and Caspian Sea before hitting the western Himalayas.
  • Western Disturbances traverse over Iran and Afghanistan before reaching India, mostly between December and April, due to the shift in the trajectory of the subtropical westerly jet stream.
  • The jet stream carries the storm systems and its trajectory changes as per the position of the Sun. During the winter months, it shifts towards the rim of the Himalayas and moves from above the Himalayas to the Tibetan Plateau and China for the rest of the year.

Importance and Issues related to Western Disturbances for India:

  • Western Disturbances bring snowfall to the Himalayan region, which replenishes the glaciers during winter.
  • These glaciers feed major rivers such as Ganga, Indus, and Yamuna and also numerous mountain springs and rivulets.
  • These low-pressure storm systems support farmers in growing their rabi crop.
  • Western Disturbances can cause extreme weather events like floods, flash floods, landslides, dust storms, hail storms, and cold waves.
  • Such events can cause severe damage to infrastructure and impact the lives and livelihoods of people.

Impact of Western Disturbances on Winter in India

Decrease in rainfall:
  • In December 2022, the northwest region of India received 83% less rainfall than usual.
  • In February 2023, the region received a 76% rainfall deficit.
Severe cold waves and cold days:
  • Absence of Western Disturbances caused cold northern winds from the Himalayas to flow down, resulting in severe cold waves and cold days in December 2022 and most of January 2023.
Crop damage, fog and flash floods:
  • Western Disturbances are responsible for hailstorms that damage standing crops.
  • Fog events that interrupt air, rail and road services.
  • Cloud bursts that result in flash floods can also be attributed to Western Disturbances.

-Source: Down to Earth

Launch Vehicle Mark- 3 (LVM-3)


Recently, Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) LVM3 or GSLV-Mk3 successfully put into space 36 satellites of Bharti-backed OneWeb.


GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Launch Vehicle Mark- 3(LVM-3)
  2. What are the launch vehicles used by ISRO?
  3. NewSpace India Limited (NSIL)

About Launch Vehicle Mark- 3(LVM-3):

  • LVM-3 was previously known as the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark-III.
  • The recent launch of 36 satellites was the sixth launch of India’s heaviest rocket LVM-3.
  • The launch was the second dedicated commercial satellite mission undertaken by Space PSU NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) for Network Access Associates Ltd (OneWeb).

What are the launch vehicles used by ISRO?

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV):Since its initial launch in 1994, PSLV has served as ISRO’s primary rocket. However, compared to those deployed in the 1990s, today’s PSLV is significantly more advanced and powerful. The PSLV is the most dependable rocket that ISRO has employed to date, with 52 of its 54 flights being successful. It is the first Indian launch vehicle to be fitted with liquid stages.  It successfully launched two spacecraft that later travelled to the Moon and Mars, namely Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 and Mars Orbiter Spacecraft in 2013. There are numerous variations of the two launch vehicles that ISRO currently utilises, the PSLV and GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle).  
Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV):The considerably more potent GSLV rocket is designed to lift heavier satellites farther into space. 18 missions have been completed by GSLV rockets to this point, four of them were unsuccessful. Lowering earth orbits may require satellites weighing 10,000 kg. The third stage of the GSLV Mk II is the indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS), and the Mk-III variants have rendered ISRO completely self-sufficient for launching its satellites. The European Arianne launch vehicle was previously utilised to carry its heavier satellites into orbit.  
Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV):SSLV is designed to provide affordable launch services for satellites up to 500 kg in response to the growing demand for small and micro-satellites around the world. It is intended to launch the indigenous EOS-03 earth observation satellite into orbit.

NewSpace India Limited (NSIL)

  • NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) is a Central Public Sector Enterprise that was established in 2019 by the Department of Space (DoS) in India. Here are some key points about NSIL:
  • It is the second commercial entity of the DoS after Antrix Corporation Limited, which was set up in 1992 to market the products and services of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
  • The mandate of NSIL is to transfer technology to the industry for producing commercially successful Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) spacecraft launchers.
  • NSIL also outsources assembly of small satellites and the upcoming Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV).
  • The objective of NSIL is to commercially exploit the research and development work done by ISRO centres and DoS constituents.

-Source: Indian Express

RoDTEP scheme


Recently, the central government has extended export benefits under the RoDTEP scheme to 18 items related to the textiles sector, including saari and lungi, intending to boost shipments of these goods.


GS-III: Indian Economy (Growth and Development of Indian Economy, Taxation)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) Scheme
  2. Extension of the RoDTEP
  3. RoDTEP Benefits

Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) Scheme

  • The RoDTEP Scheme allows exporters to receive refunds on taxes and duties that are not exempted or refunded under any other scheme.
  • Under the scheme, exporters receive refunds on the embedded taxes and duties previously non-recoverable.
  • The chief aim of the scheme is to boost the export of goods that were poor in volume.
  • The scheme basically replaces the Merchandise Export from India Scheme (MEIS).
  • The scheme provides for rebates of Central, State and Local duties/taxes/ levies which are not refunded under any other duty remission schemes.
  • The RoDTEP scheme can be said to be a combination of the MEIS and the Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL).
  • Under this scheme, refund would be claimed as a percentage of the Freight On Board (FOB) value of exports. 
Features of RoDTEP Scheme
  • It covers duties and taxes levied at the central, state and local levels that are not reimbursed under any other mechanism. Items that were under the MEIS and the RoSCTL are shifted to the RoDTEP.
  • Refunds will be issued to exporters as transferable duty credit/electronic scrips and maintained in an electronic ledger. This is keeping in line with the Digital India mission. This can be used to pay basic customs duty on imported goods. The credits can also be transferred to other importers.
  • Faster clearance through a digital platform will be facilitated through a monitoring & audit mechanism, with an IT-based risk management system that would physically verify the exporters’ records.
  • The scheme is applicable across all sectors.

Extension of the RoDTEP

  • In January 2021, the Government has decided to extend the benefit of the Scheme for Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) to all export goods. (Initially, the scheme was expected to be limited to around three sectors to start with due to limited resources.)
  • In August 2021, the Government notified the rates and norms for the Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) scheme, while asserting that it would put some ‘direct cash in the pockets of exporters’ soon.
  • This move means that Indian exporters will be able to meet the international standards for exports as affordable testing and certification will be made available to exporters within the country instead of relying on international organizations.

RoDTEP Benefits

  • Being WTO-compliant, the RoDTEP scheme can make available from the government benefits to the exporters seamlessly.
  • The scheme is more exhaustive in that certain taxes that were not covered under the previous scheme are also included in the list, for example, education cess, state taxes on oil, power and water.
  • It will add more competitiveness in the foreign markets, with assured duty benefits by the Indian Government.
  • It will also help exporters meet international standards and promote business growth.
  • Also under RoDTEP, tax assessment is set to become fully automatic for exporters, hence, Businesses will get access to their refunds for GST via an automatic refund-route.

-Source: The Hindu

Marburg Virus Disease


Recently, Five people have died and three others are infected with the Marburg virus  a highly infectious, Ebola-like disease  in Tanzania’s north-west Kagera region.


GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Marburg virus disease: History
  2. Marburg virus and the disease
  3. Symptoms of Marburg virus disease
  4. What are the hosts for the Marburg virus?
  5. What are the challenges with Marburg virus disease?

Marburg virus disease: History

  • Marburg was discovered in 1967, when outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever occurred simultaneously in laboratories in Marburg and Frankfurt, Germany, as well as Belgrade, Serbia — cases that were linked to African green monkeys imported from Uganda.
  • According to the World Health Organization, additional cases have since been discovered in Angola, Congo, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda.
  • The cases reported in Ghana last month were the country’s first.

Marburg virus and the disease

  • The pathogen that causes Marburg virus disease in humans is the Marburg virus.
  • According to medical experts, there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments for the disease, but hydrating patients and treating their specific symptoms can improve their chances of survival.
  • According to WHO, the disease is clinically similar to Ebola in its spread, symptoms, and progression, despite being caused by a different virus.
  • In the case of Marburg, fruit bats are thought to be the virus’s hosts, though researchers claim the virus does not cause illness in them.

Symptoms of Marburg virus disease

  • Marburg can cause severe viral hemorrhagic fever, which impairs the ability of the blood to clot.
  • According to WHO, the incubation period ranges from two to 21 days, and symptoms begin abruptly with high fever, severe headache, and severe malaise.
  • Other symptoms may include muscle aches, diarrhoea, nausea, lethargy, and bleeding from the mouth, faeces, or other parts of the body.
  • According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Marburg is not contagious during the incubation period. According to WHO, severely ill patients frequently die eight or nine days after the onset of symptoms.
  • “Mortality is extremely high.” And there is no such thing as asymptomatic Marburg
  • According to health organisations, a patient’s condition can be confirmed as Marburg by using antibody, antigen, and polymerase chain reaction tests.

What are the hosts for the Marburg virus?

  • Rousettus fruit bats are thought to be the virus’s natural host.
  • According to WHO, the first human infection was caused by African green monkeys imported from Uganda.
  • It was discovered in 1967, following simultaneous outbreaks in Marburg, Germany, and Belgrade, Serbia.
  • The disease has a 50 percent fatality rate on average.
  • According to the WHO, it can be as low as 24 percent or as high as 88 percent, depending on the virus strain and case management.

What are the challenges with Marburg virus disease?

  • Clinically, MVD is difficult to distinguish from diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever, and other viral hemorrhagic fevers.
  • However, lab testing of samples confirms it, which, like Coronavirus and Ebola, are extreme biohazard risks.
  • There is currently no approved antiviral treatment or vaccine for MVD.
  • It is treatable with supportive care.
  • Rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids, as well as treatment of specific symptoms, can help prevent death, according to the WHO.

-Source: The Hindu

DNA Profiling of Elephants


Announcing the 30-year celebration of ‘Project Elephant’ recently officials from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change said that the DNA profiling of 270 of the 2,675 captive elephants in the country has been completed.


GS II- Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About DNA Profiling of Elephants
  2. What is Project Elephant?
  3. Asian Elephants
  4. African Elephants
  5. Threats
  6. Human-Elephant Conflicts

About DNA Profiling of Elephants:

  • The DNA profiling was started in August 2022 for Gaj Soochna Mobile Application for forest officials.
  • DNA profiling is the process where a specific DNA pattern, called a profile, is obtained from a sample of bodily tissue.

What is Project Elephant?

  • Project Elephant is a Central Government sponsored scheme launched in February 1992.
  • Through the Project Elephant scheme, the government helps in the protection and management of elephants to the states having wild elephants in a free-ranging population.
  • It ensures the protection of elephant corridors and elephant habitat for the survival of the elephant population in the wild.
  • This elephant conservation strategy is mainly implemented in 16 of 28 states or union territories in the country which includes Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.
  • The union government provides technical and financial help to these states to carry out and achieve the goals of project elephant. Not just that, assistance for the purpose of the census, training of field officials is also provided to ensure the mitigation and prevention of man-elephant conflict.

Asian Elephants:

  • The Asian elephant is divided into three subspecies: Indian, Sumatran, and Sri Lankan.
  • The Indian subspecies has the largest territory and is home to the majority of the continent’s remaining elephants.
  • The eldest and largest female elephant in the herd is in charge (known as the matriarch). The matriarch’s daughters and their children make up this herd.
  • Elephants have the longest known gestation period of any mammal, extending up to 680 days (22 months).
Protection Status:
  • IUCN Red List: Endangered.
  • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I.
  • CITES: Appendix I

African Elephants:

The Savanna (or bush) elephant and the Forest elephant are two subspecies of African elephants.

Protection Status:

IUCN Red List Status:

  • African Savanna Elephant: Endangered.
  • African Forest Elephant: Critically Endangered
  • CITES: Appendix II


  • Escalation of poaching.
  • Habitat loss.
  • Human-elephant conflict.
  • Mistreatment in captivity.
  • Abuse due to elephant tourism.
  • Rampant mining, Corridor destruction.

Human-Elephant Conflicts

  • Elephant-human conflict is a result of habitat loss and fragmentation.
  • When elephants and humans interact, there is conflict from crop raiding, injuries and deaths to humans caused by elephants, and elephants being killed by humans for reasons other than ivory and habitat degradation.
  • Such encounters foster resentment against the elephants amongst the human population and this can result in elephants being viewed as a nuisance and killed.
  • In addition to the direct conflicts between humans and elephants, elephants also suffer indirect costs like degradation of habitat and loss of food plants.

-Source: The Hindu

Sea Slugs


Recently, scientists documented a unique species of sea slugs from the Visakhapatnam coast.


GS III: Species in News

About Sea Slugs:

  • Sea slugs are a type of mollusk that belong to the class Gastropoda and are part of the Phylum Mollusca. Here are some key points about sea slugs:
  • Sea slugs look like naked snails, without shells, and are found in both the sea and on land.
  • A unique species of nudibranch sea slugs were recently discovered on the Visakhapatnam shore.
  • Sea slugs are typically found in places with abundant prey bases, which can include sponges, hydroids, and algae.
  • Nudibranchs, a type of sea slug, are often found in coral reefs and are an indicator of a strong coral ecosystem.
  • They mainly feed on algae and are commonly seen in large numbers during algal blooms.
  • While most nudibranchs are active during the day, some species are nocturnal.

-Source: The Hindu

April 2024