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Current Affairs 31 October 2023


  1. Cloud Seeding Study: A Ray of Hope for Drought-Stricken Regions
  2. Rapid Ice melt in West Antarctica
  3. Photocopying
  4. SIM-Swap Scam
  5. Hostile Activity Watch Kernel (HAWK) system
  6. Bru Refugees

Cloud Seeding Study: A Ray of Hope for Drought-Stricken Regions


A recent study conducted by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, and published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, highlights the potential of cloud seeding to increase rainfall in water-scarce regions, providing a ray of hope for addressing drought conditions


GS III: Environmental Pollution and Degradation

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Highlights of the CAIPEEX Phase-4 Study
  2. Benefits of Cloud Seeding
  3. Cloud Seeding: Artificial Rain Generation
  4. Applications of Cloud Seeding
  5. Challenges of Cloud Seeding

Key Highlights of the CAIPEEX Phase-4 Study

Study Duration and Location
  • Two-Year Study: The Cloud Aerosol Interaction and Precipitation Enhancement Experiment (CAIPEEX phase-4) took place over two years during the 2018 and 2019 summer monsoons.
  • Location: Conducted in Solapur, Maharashtra.
Primary Objective
  • Effectiveness Assessment: The primary objective was to evaluate the effectiveness of hygroscopic seeding in deep convective clouds and develop a cloud seeding protocol.
Seeding Method
  • Calcium Chloride Flares: Researchers used calcium chloride flares for cloud seeding.
  • Seeding Process: Flares release seeding particles when activated, targeting the base of warm convective clouds during their growth stage to minimize dispersion.
Equipment and Aircraft
  • Dual Aircraft Usage: The experiment involved the use of two aircraft for studying cloud parameters and conducting cloud seeding.
Effectiveness of Cloud Seeding
  • Proven Efficacy: Cloud seeding has been shown to effectively enhance rainfall under suitable conditions.
Random Seeding Experiment
  • Selection and Comparison: A random seeding experiment selected 276 convective clouds, with 150 clouds subjected to seeding and 122 left unseeded.
  • Cloud Criteria: Specific cloud characteristics, such as liquid water content and vertical motion, were used to identify clouds with potential for rainfall.
  • Target Clouds: Targeted convective clouds were typically over one kilometer deep and likely to evolve into deep cumulus clouds.

Benefits of Cloud Seeding

Cost-Effective Water Production
  • Cost Efficiency: Producing water through cloud seeding cost approximately 18 paisa per liter during the research experiment.
  • Indigenous Aircraft Savings: Utilizing indigenous seeding aircraft could reduce costs by more than 50%.
Rainfall Enhancement
  • Partial Drought Mitigation: While cloud seeding alone cannot fully mitigate droughts, it can contribute to an 18% increase in rainfall, partially addressing water requirements.
  • Drought Management: Incorporating cloud seeding into catchment-scale projects can assist in drought management.
Region-Specific Benefits
  • Targeting Low-Rainfall Areas: Cloud seeding can be particularly advantageous for regions like Solapur, located on the leeward side of the Western Ghats and experiencing low rainfall.
  • Alleviating Water Scarcity: Additional water generated through cloud seeding has the potential to alleviate water scarcity issues in such areas.
Research and Guidance
  • Comprehensive Understanding: The two-year study aimed to comprehend the microphysics and characteristics of convective clouds suitable for enhancing rainfall.
  • Protocols and Technical Guidance: The study provides comprehensive protocols and technical guidance for planning and conducting cloud seeding in India.
Effectiveness Considerations
  • Variable Cumulus Cloud Response: Not all cumulus clouds respond to cloud seeding; approximately 20-25% can produce rainfall when seeding is executed correctly.
  • Microphysics Variability: Cloud microphysics can vary widely, leading to diverse outcomes in cloud seeding efforts.

Cloud Seeding: Artificial Rain Generation

About Cloud Seeding
  • Process Description: Cloud seeding is the artificial creation of rain by introducing particles like silver iodide crystals into clouds.
  • Chemical Application: It involves using aircraft to disperse chemicals into clouds to promote the condensation of smaller particles into larger rain droplets.

Cloud Seeding Methods

Static Cloud Seeding
  • Ice Nuclei Introduction: Silver iodide or dry ice, serving as ice nuclei, are introduced into cold clouds containing supercooled liquid water droplets.
  • Ice Crystal Formation: The ice nuclei trigger the formation of ice crystals or snowflakes, which grow at the expense of liquid droplets and ultimately fall as precipitation.
Dynamic Cloud Seeding
  • Vertical Air Current Boost: This method induces rain by enhancing vertical air currents within clouds.
  • Complex Process: It is more intricate than static cloud seeding as it relies on a series of events working in coordination.
Hygroscopic Cloud Seeding
  • Fine Particle Dispersal: Fine particles of hygroscopic materials, such as salts, are sprayed into the base of warm clouds using flares or explosives.
  • Cloud Condensation Nuclei: These particles serve as cloud condensation nuclei, increasing the number and size of cloud droplets, thus enhancing cloud reflectivity and stability.

Applications of Cloud Seeding

Enhancing Snowfall and Snowpack

  • Cloud seeding is used to increase winter snowfall and boost mountain snowpack, augmenting the natural water supply for nearby communities.

Hailstorm Prevention

  • Cloud seeding can also be employed to prevent hailstorms, minimizing damage to crops and property.

Fog Dissipation

  • In certain situations, cloud seeding is used to dissipate fog, enhancing visibility and safety.
  • Rainfall Induction in Drought-Prone Areas
  • It is applied to induce rainfall in drought-prone regions, addressing water scarcity issues.

Air Pollution Reduction

  • Cloud seeding is employed to reduce air pollution, particularly in urban areas where pollutants are a concern.

Challenges of Cloud Seeding

Cloud Availability

  • Cloud seeding necessitates the presence of moisture-filled clouds, which may not always be available or predictable.

Timing and Weather Considerations

  • Cloud seeding is not performed during periods when additional precipitation could be problematic, such as high flood risk times or busy holiday travel periods.

Environmental and Health Concerns

  • Cloud seeding may have negative effects on the environment, including altering the natural water cycle and contaminating soil and water with chemicals.
  • It can also affect the local climate and have health implications, raising concerns about its ecological and human health effects.

-Source: The Hindu

Rapid Ice melt in West Antarctica


A recent study published in the journal Nature reveals that the rapid melting of West Antarctica’s ice sheet is now inevitable, irrespective of efforts to reduce carbon emissions. This melting, if it occurs entirely, would result in a substantial global sea level rise of 5.3 meters (17.4 feet). Such an outcome could have devastating consequences for millions of people residing in vulnerable coastal cities worldwide, including in India.


GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Understanding Ice Sheets
  2. West Antarctic Ice Sheet Melting
  3. Study Findings
  4. The Way Forward

Understanding Ice Sheets

  • An ice sheet is essentially a massive glacial ice covering that extends over an area larger than 50,000 square kilometers, roughly equivalent to the size of Uttarakhand.
Major Global Ice Sheets
  • Two Primary Ice Sheets: There are two major ice sheets globally, the Greenland ice sheet and the Antarctica ice sheet, which collectively contain around two-thirds of Earth’s freshwater.
Impact on Sea Level
  • Mass Fluctuations: Changes in the mass of ice sheets have a significant impact on global mean sea levels. Gaining mass leads to a fall in sea levels, while losing mass results in rising sea levels.

West Antarctic Ice Sheet Melting

Ice Sheet Melting Mechanisms
  • Ocean-Induced Melting: Ice sheets can melt through various processes, one of which is warm ocean waters melting the ice shelves, which are the edges of an ice sheet floating on the ocean.
  • Stabilizing Role: Ice shelves play a role in stabilizing land-based glaciers located behind them.
  • Thinning or Disappearance Impact: When ice shelves thin or vanish, the glaciers behind them tend to accelerate, releasing more ice into the ocean and causing sea level rise.
Different from Sea Ice
  • Distinction from Sea Ice: Both ice shelves and ice sheets are distinct from sea ice, which is the freely floating ice found in polar regions. Sea ice forms as a result of seawater freezing.
West Antarctic Ice Sheet Melting
  • Ongoing Processes: In West Antarctica, similar processes are occurring. Over several decades, the ice shelves in the region have been diminishing, glaciers have been flowing more rapidly toward the ocean, and the ice sheet has been shrinking.

Study Findings

  • Widespread Warming and Ice Shelf Melting: The study highlights significant and widespread future warming of the West Antarctica Sea, resulting in increased ice shelf melting.
  • Sea Level Rise: This phenomenon is expected to contribute to an elevated sea level rise, impacting coastal communities worldwide, including those in India.
  • Vulnerability of India: India, with its extensive coastline and dense population, is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise. Without the means to defend against rising seas, communities may face the prospect of relocating or becoming refugees.

The Way Forward

  • Multiple Climate Impacts: The researchers emphasize that the melting West Antarctic ice sheet is just one aspect of sea level rise, which is itself only one facet of climate change.
  • Other Avoidable Impacts: There are numerous other climate change impacts that can still be avoided or mitigated, including potential losses from the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, as well as the severity of heatwaves, droughts, and extreme rainfall events.

-Source: The Hindu



Photocopying technology has revolutionised the way we copy, print, and distribute textual material.


GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Photocopying: An Overview
  2. How Xerography Works

Photocopying: An Overview

  • Duplicating Techniques
    • Photocopying comprises various methods for duplicating content, often involving the use of light and other technologies.
  • Contemporary Usage
    • In modern language, the term “photocopying” is commonly associated with xerography, a specific photocopying technique.
  • Xerography’s Origin
    • Both “xerography” and the brand “Xerox” have their roots in the Greek word “xero,” which means “dry.”
  • Dry Process
    • Xerography is a photocopying method that stands out for its dry process, avoiding the use of messy liquid chemicals.
  • Ubiquitous Utilization
    • Xerographic machines are widely employed worldwide for the efficient and cost-effective reproduction of printed materials.

How Xerography Works

Xerography is based on a series of fundamental elements and steps:

  • Photoconductive Surface:
    • A surface coated with a photoconductive material that conducts electricity when exposed to light but blocks it in darkness.
  • Negative Charge:
    • A thin, negatively charged wire with high voltage is placed near the photoconductive surface, rendering the surface negatively charged.
  • Illumination:
    • The paper to be copied is brightly illuminated. Dark areas of the paper, where something is printed, do not reflect light, while unmarked sections do.
  • Reflected Light:
    • Reflected light from the paper is directed by lenses and mirrors onto the photoconductive surface.
  • Conductivity Change:
    • In the illuminated areas, the photoconductive material becomes conductive, allowing surface electrons to dissipate downward into grounding.
  • Pattern Retention:
    • The negatively charged areas left on the surface correspond to printed regions on the paper to be copied.
  • Toner Application:
    • A powdery substance called toner, positively charged, is applied to the surface.
  • Toner Adhesion:
    • The toner adheres to the surface where a negative charge remains.
  • Transfer to Paper:
    • The surface transfers the toner pattern onto a sheet of paper, which carries a stronger negative charge, causing the toner to jump from the surface.
  • Fusing Process:
    • The toner is heated, causing it to melt and fuse with the paper. The finished copy emerges from the photocopying machine within seconds.

-Source: The Hindu

SIM-Swap Scam


A Delhi-based advocate recently became the latest victim of the SIM-Swap Scam after she received three missed calls from unknown numbers and lost money from her bank account.


GS III: Cyber Security

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. SIM-Swap Scam Overview
  2. Phishing Definition

SIM-Swap Scam Overview

Banking Applications and Phone Numbers

  • Banking apps are linked to phone numbers for OTP generation and receiving crucial bank-related messages.
The SIM Swap Scam Process
  • Information Gathering: Fraudsters initially acquire personal details, including phone numbers, bank account information, and addresses, typically through phishing or vishing (voice phishing) techniques.
  • Visit to Mobile Operator: With the victim’s personal information, fraudsters visit a mobile operator’s retail outlet. They pose as the victim, using forged ID proof, and falsely report the theft of the victim’s SIM card and/or mobile phone.
  • Duplicate SIM: As a result, they obtain a duplicate SIM. Notably, fraudsters can get a duplicate SIM even if the original one is still operational, thanks to their false report of theft.
  • No Direct Communication: Unlike other scams involving tricking victims into revealing OTPs and private information during a phone call, the SIM swap scam doesn’t require direct communication with the victims.
  • Missed Calls Tactic: Fraudsters give missed calls to their victims, prompting the victims to leave their phones unattended and disregard the lost network connectivity.
  • Control of the SIM: Once the SIM is swapped, the fraudster gains control over it, making all calls and messages pass through their SIM.
  • Bank Account Access: With control over the SIM card, they can access passwords and OTPs, enabling them to infiltrate the victims’ bank accounts.

Phishing Definition

  • Phishing Technique: Phishing involves the act of scamsters sending malware links to victims via email or messages.
  • Information Theft: When the victim clicks on the link, malware is activated, stealing the victim’s personal information.

-Source: Indian Express

Hostile Activity Watch Kernel (HAWK) system


Recently, the Karnataka Forest Department, along with the Wildlife Trust of India, launched the Hostile Activity Watch Kernel (HAWK) system.


GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Hostile Activity Watch Kernel (HAWK) System
  2. Development and Implementation

Hostile Activity Watch Kernel (HAWK) System

HAWK is a cloud-based Information Management System designed to oversee interconnected databases related to wildlife crime, wildlife criminals, and wildlife mortality.

  • Wildlife Protection: The system is aimed at helping officials analyze information, gather actionable intelligence, and take measures to prevent wildlife crimes and combat Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT).
Key Features
  • Real-Time Connectivity: HAWK connects the entire state forest department in real-time, and access is controlled through varying access levels.
  • ERP Model: It operates as a comprehensive Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) model, using both mobile and desktop interfaces to manage data.
  • Modular Structure: HAWK is divided into various modules, interconnected with standalone functions. This allows the system to scale up or down to accommodate the specific needs of each state’s forest department and adapt to changes in procedures and regional languages.
  • Data Security: All data managed by HAWK is secured using government and industry-standard security measures.

Development and Implementation

  • Origin: The development of HAWK began in 2017 in the state of Kerala through collaboration between the Kerala Forest Department and the Wildlife Trust of India.
  • Official Implementation: The system was officially launched in Kerala in 2019, and it has since become the official system for the state’s forest department.
  • Expansion: In 2022, a customized version of HAWK was initiated in Karnataka in partnership with the ICT cell of the Karnataka Forest Department, and it is currently being implemented statewide.

-Source: The Hindu

Bru Refugees


For the first time, Bru refugees will not participate in elections in Mizoram as they were given permanent settlement in Tripura under a centrally sponsored rehabilitation arrangement.


GS II: Vulnerable Sections

About Bru Refugees

Bru Community Overview

  • Also known as Reang, the Bru community is indigenous to the Northeast region of India, primarily residing in Tripura, Mizoram, and Assam.

Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group

  • In Tripura, the Bru community is officially recognized as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG).
Ethnic and Linguistic Characteristics
  • Ethnic Background: The Bru people belong to the Indo-Mongoloid racial stock.
  • Linguistic Affinity: Their language has affinities with the Austro-Asiatic groups within the Tibeto-Burman family.
  • Ethnical Division: The community is ethnically divided into two major clans, known as Meska and Molsoi.
Language and Dialect
  • Language: They speak a language called “Kaubru,” which exhibits a tonal influence on the Kuki language but is broadly related to the Kok-Borok dialect.
  • Nomadic Lifestyle: Many within the Bru community lead a nomadic way of life and engage in activities such as Hilltop Jhum Cultivation and food gathering for their livelihood.
Beliefs and Religion
  • Spiritual Beliefs: The Bru people have beliefs in spirits and the existence of the soul.
  • Religious Affiliation: By religion, they follow Hinduism, and many of their deities share similarities with gods and goddesses from the Hindu faith.
Marital and Traditional Practices
  • Endogamous Tradition: The community practices endogamy, meaning they prefer to marry within their own community.
  • Village Council Role: The village council chief, known as “RAI,” has the authority to permit divorce and widow marriage, following their traditional customs.

-Source: The Hindu

June 2024