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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 27 February 2023

Contents:

  1. The sophisticated anatomy of heat waves
  2. Need to end constraints on the road to gender equality

The Sophisticated Anatomy Of Heat Waves


Context:

Recently, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) warned that the maximum temperatures over northwest, west, and central India would be 35° C higher than the longterm average.

  • February 21st, 2023 was the third hottest day in the national capital in more than five decades.

Relevance:

GS III- Environment (Climate change)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is a heat wave?
  2. Recent findings about Heat waves
  3. How do heat waves occur and it’s Impacts?
  4. Formation of Heat waves in India
  5. How does air mass contribute to heat waves?
  6. Way Forward

What is a heat wave?

  • A heat wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer season in the North-Western and South Central parts of India.
  • Heat waves typically occur between March and June, and in some rare cases even extend till July.
  • Higher daily peak temperatures and longer, more intense heat waves are becoming increasingly frequent globally due to climate change.
  • Conditions for Heat wave according to the IMD:
    • A region deviating from its ambient temperature by atleast 4.56.4° C from the longterm average has a heat wave.
    • For Plains, there is also a heat wave if the maximum temperature crosses 45°C.
    • At a hillstation, if the maximum temperature crosses 37°C, it is considered to be heat wave condition.

Recent findings about Heat waves:

  • Increased Frequency and intensity:
    • Heat waves are expected to become longer and more intense and frequent over the Indian subcontinent.
    • In the year 2022, the heat waves started early and witnessed multiple heatwaves.
  • Extending southwards:
    • The northsouth pressure pattern set up by the La Niña led to the extension of heatwaves further south.
    • La Niña is a world affecting weather phenomenon in which a band of cool water spreads eastwest across the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
  • Impact of El Nino:
    • The last three years have been La Niña years, which has served as a precursor to 2023 likely being an El Niño year.
    • It is more likely that the heat waves tend to be confined to north and northwest India in El Niño years.

How do heat waves occur and its Impacts?

  • Heat waves is a local phenomenon when the air is warmed by higher land surface temperature or because the air sinking down from above is compressed along the way, producing hot air near the surface.
  • Generally, heat waves occurs due to the following reasons:
    • Warmer air flowing in from elsewhere
    • Warm air being produced locally
  • Health Impacts
    • The health impacts of Heat Waves typically involve dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke.
    • It also causes heat cramps, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and sweating.
    • The extreme temperatures and resultant atmospheric conditions adversely affect people living in these regions as they cause physiological stress, sometimes resulting in death.

Formation of Heat waves in India:

As per the latest study, heat waves are formed in India for the following reasons:

  • Warm Air from the North-west:
    • In the context of climate change, West Asia is warming faster than other regions in latitudes similarly close to the equator.
    • The region serves as a source of the warm air that blows into India.
    • As the air flows from West Asia, it passes through the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan, so some of the compression also happens on the leeward side of these mountains, entering India with a bristling warmth.
  • Warming of Arabian sea:
    • Generally, the air when flowing over the oceans is expected to bring cooler air.
    • But the air flowing over the Arabian sea, which is witnessing an unusual warming over the recent years compared to most other ocean regions, is also responsible for Heat waves.
  • Strong upper atmospheric westerly winds:
    • The strong upper atmospheric westerly winds, that come in from the Atlantic Ocean over to India during spring, control the nearsurface winds.
    • Any winds flowing from west to east, generally flows faster than the planet itself, which is also rotating from west to east.
    • The energy to run past the earth near the surface, against surface friction, can only come from above. This descending air compresses and warms up to generate some heat waves.
  • Declining lapse rate:
    • Global warming tends to warm the upper atmosphere faster than the air near the surface.
    • Lapse rate is the rate at which temperatures cool from the surface to the upper atmosphere — is declining under global warming.
    • This in turn means that the sinking air is warmer due to global warming, and thus produces heat waves as it sinks and compresses.
  • These events have accelerated the occurrence and intensity of Heat Waves over India in the last few years.

How does air mass contribute to heat waves?

  • The age of the air mass and how far it has travelled also affect the formation of heat waves.
  • The north-western heatwaves are typically formed with air masses that come from 8001,600 km away and are around two days old.
  • Heat waves over peninsular India on the other hand arrive from the oceans, which are closer (around 200400 km) and are barely a day old. As a result, they are on average less intense.

Way Forward:

  • Heat waves have a sophisticated anatomy and it certainly have certain implications that cannot be ignored.
  • The early warning technology should be leveraged to take advantage of the processes, modes of formation, location, and age of the air mass to improve the quality of warnings and also increase how soon they can be issued.
  • However, Sizeable investments in human and computational resources have already increased India’s forecast skills in the last decade. Mortality over India due to heat waves are substantially lower than those in other midlatitude regions.
  • Hence, we should further improve forecast warnings, issue them as soon as possible, and couple them with citywide graded heat action plans to protect the vulnerable.

-Source: The Hindu


Need to End Constraints On The Road To Gender Equality


Context

Recently, the Supreme Court of India directed a petitioner to approach the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development to frame a policy on menstrual pain leave.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Women Empowerment, Governance and Government Policies, Issues Arising Out of Design & Implementation of Policies),

GS-I: Indian Society (Issues related to Women, Gender Inequality)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Need for a policy on Menstrual Leave
  2. What are the issues?
  3. Major achievements
  4. Way forward
  5. Conclusion

Need for a policy on Menstrual Leave:

  • A petition in the Supreme court sought the Court’s direction to States to frame rules for granting menstrual pain leave for students and working women.
  • The three judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud said the biological process must not become a “disincentive” for employers offering jobs to women.
  • In India, Kerala and Bihar have menstrual pain leave.
  • The food delivery app Zomato has also introduced it.
  • Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Spain and Zambia have this policy included in labour laws.
  • Also in India, there are other problems in need of addressing such as lack of sanitation facilities in school and at the workplace, especially in the informal sector.
  • According to World Bank data, between 2010 and 2020 the percentage of working women dropped from 26% to 19%.
  • Sometimes, girls have to drop out from school simply because there are no toilets

What are the issues?

  • The Supreme court had pointed out different dimensions to it, one being the apprehensions that these could entrench existing stigma and also result in furthering discrimination.
  • Many feminists have, decried the move, saying it will reinforce negative gender stereotypes.

Major achievements:

  • Women have fought hard to get to the present when.
  • Education and Job opportunities:
    • The higher education and work opportunities have significantly contributed to the upliftment of women.
    • This led to balancing work and home, though couple equity is still not a reality for many.
  • Reproductive Health:
    • The battle for rights related to reproductive health has been a hardfought one but women have been successful at persuading governments to initiate policy changes to improve their health and wellbeing.
  • Maternity leave:
    • In India, the Maternity Benefit Act that was enacted by Parliament in 1961 has been amended from time to time to give women better benefits.
    • For instance, the paid maternity leave has been extended from the earlier 12 weeks to 26 weeks.

Way forward:

  • There is a need encourage more women to join the workforce, it is imperative they have access to higher education and more opportunities.
  • Many countries are trying out four day work days for a quality life, while others are offering paternity leave so that parenting can be, rightly, equally shared.
  • This also ensures that recruiting women is not seen as a disadvantage.

Conclusion:

  • Despite removing many barriers on the road to gender equality, many roadblocks still remain.
  • In a world that should strive to become a better place for all, it is the responsibility of the wider society and governments to ensure that no section is left behind.
  • All constraints on the road to gender equality and equity must be done away with.

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