Current Affairs - News Crux

Flash Droughts

Recently, a new study has found that climate change is causing droughts to become faster and more intense, particularly a type of fast-developing drought known as a "flash drought”.

  • According to the study, flash droughts suck water out of soil and plants
  • The phenomenon occurs during the growing season, primarily in summer, and is triggered by extreme heat and dryness.
  • Flash droughts can be especially devastating for agriculture.
  • Last year, most of China's Yangtze River basin was struck by a flash drought that developed within a month.
  • The study found that flash droughts are happening more often in nearly three-quarters of climate regions across the world.
  • The frequency of flash droughts will continue to increase as the planet warms.

A New Species of Frog

Recently, Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) scientists have discovered a new species of frog named Amolops siju from the deep interiors of the Siju cave in Meghalaya.

  • The ZSI team named the new cascade ranid species Amolops siju after the cave from where this discovery was made.
  • The discovery of a new species of frog from a cave is very rare, and the absence of troglobitic or cave-adapted modification in the frog specimens collected from the cave suggests that the Amolops siju species is not a permanent resident of the shelter.
  • The cave is known to harbor over 100 species of animals, mostly invertebrates like cave crickets, beetles, earthworms, among others.
  • The discovery is the second of its kind in India, the first being the discovery of Micrixalus spelunca in 2014 from a cave in Tamil Nadu.
  • The specimens of Amolops siju were collected in January 2020 during a cave expedition by the ZSI team. The team conducted morphological, molecular, and spatial studies to ascertain the specific identity of the frog species and concluded that it was new to science.
  • The genus Amolops, to which this species belongs, is one of the largest groups of ranid frogs with over 70 known species distributed across northeast and north India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, through Indochina, to the Malaya Peninsula.
  • Interestingly, this is the fourth new species of a cascade frog (Amolops) published by the same team recently. Amolops chanakya, Amolops terraorchis, and Amolops tawang were discovered in Arunachal Pradesh.

Troglobitic refers to organisms that have adapted to living exclusively in caves, with highly specialized features and behaviors that are unique to their cave habitat.

An Algal Bloom of the Dinoflagellate

Currently, Visakhapatnam beaches are glowing blue due to a natural phenomenon known as bioluminescence.

  • The glow observed in Visakhapatnam is caused by tiny marine organisms called phytoplankton.
  • Specifically, an algal bloom of the dinoflagellate species of noctiluca and ceratium, emit light on the ocean surface at night when disturbed by breaking waves.
  • The phenomenon is particularly visible during warm weather conditions and moonless nights.
  • Bioluminescence is not new to Visakhapatnam and has occurred on several occasions in the past, but the recent experience is on a larger scale, making it a visual spectacle.
  • Marine biologists say that it is a likely indication of environmental changes in seawater in the region of its occurrence.
  • While it may not be harmful to humans, any kind of algal bloom can affect the marine ecosystem as phytoplankton is consumed by fish.
  • The impact of these noctiluca blooms off Visakhapatnam coast on marine species is less reported and explored and needs to be studied.

India-WFP MoU for Sending Wheat to Afghanistan

On 13th April, 2023, India signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the World Food Programme (WFP) paving the way for sending 10,000 metric tonnes of wheat for the people of Afghanistan.

  • The WFP said it had a massive supply chain and logistics infrastructure in Afghanistan that could help in ensuring that the food supply reached those who need it the most and no one is excluded.
  • The MoU follows from the Indian declaration made last month at the India Central Asia Joint Working Group on Afghanistan saying that 20,000 MT of wheat would be sent through the Iranian port of Chahbahar.
  • According to the WFP, nine out of 10 Afghan families could not afford enough food at present and at least 20 million Afghans were facing threat of starvation.

Dabba Trading

Recently, the National Stock Exchange (NSE) issued a string of notices naming entities involved in ‘dabba trading’. It cautioned retail investors to not subscribe (or invest) using any of these products offering indicative/assured/guaranteed returns in the stock market as they are prohibited by law.

  • Dabba (box) trading refers to informal trading that takes place outside the purview of the stock exchanges. Traders bet on stock price movements without incurring a real transaction to take physical ownership of a particular stock as is done in an exchange. In other words, it is gambling centred around stock price movements.
  • The primary purpose of such trades is to stay outside the purview of the regulatory mechanism, and thus, transactions are facilitated using cash and the mechanism is operated using unrecognised software terminals.
  • Since there are no proper records of income or gain, it helps dabba traders escape taxation. They would not have to pay the Commodity Transaction Tax (CTT) or the Securities Transaction Tax (STT) on their transactions.
  • Dabba trading is recognised as an offence under Section 23(1) of the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act (SCRA), 1956 and upon conviction, can invite imprisonment for a term extending up to 10 years or a fine up to ₹25 crore, or both.

Exercise Cope India 23

The Indian Air Force and the U.S. Air Force are conducting the ongoing bilateral air Exercise, Cope India 23.

  • This marks the first time that U.S. bombers are participating in a military exercise in India.
  • The second phase of the exercise will see the participation of U.S. Air Force B-1B bombers and F-15 fighter aircraft alongside Indian Air Force fighters such as the Su-30MKI, Rafale, Tejas, and Jaguar.

The 5th India-UK Home Affairs Dialogue

On April 12, 2023, the 5th India-UK Home Affairs Dialogue (HAD) was held in New Delhi.

The meeting was led by Union Home Secretary, from the Indian delegation and Permanent Secretary, Home Office, from the UK delegation, along with other senior officials of both countries.

  • During the meeting, both sides reviewed the ongoing cooperation and identified further steps that can be taken to explore opportunities and synergies in advancing cooperation in various areas.
  • These areas include counter-terrorism, cyber security & global supply chains, drug trafficking, migration, extradition, anti-India activities in the UK including Pro-Khalistan Extremism among other issues.
  • The Indian side specifically conveyed its concerns on the misuse of UK's asylum status by the Pro-Khalistani elements to aid and abet terrorist activities in India.
  • India's concerns over the breach of security of Indian High Commission were also emphasized.
  • The meeting concluded with both sides expressing satisfaction with the ongoing partnership and agreeing to deepen bilateral engagement and maintain the momentum for enhanced security cooperation between the two countries.


Recently, researchers in the UK have discovered that graphene, a single-atom-thick layer of carbon atoms, displays an anomalous Giant Magnetoresistance (GMR) at room temperature.

  • GMR is a property of materials where electrical resistance is affected by adjacent magnetic fields.
  • Graphene-based devices are commonly used to sense magnetic fields.
  • Researchers found that a graphene-based device could sense magnetic fields without needing to be cooled to very low temperatures.
  • This is unlike conventional devices used for the same purpose.
  • The magnetoresistance observed in the graphene-based device was almost 100 times higher than other known semimetals in this magnetic field range.
  • This discovery could be used in applications that require magnetic-field sensing in extreme conditions.

State Energy Efficiency Index 2021-22 Report

On 10th April, 2023, the Union Minister of Power and New & Renewable Energy released the State Energy Efficiency Index (SEEI) 2021-22 report.

  • The index aims to drive decarbonisation efforts and achieve a more sustainable future.
  • The report is developed by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) in collaboration with Alliance for an Energy-Efficient Economy (AEEE).
  • The State Energy Efficiency Index (SEEI) assesses the progress of states and UTs in energy efficiency implementation for FY 2020-21 and 2021-22.
  • SEEI 2021-22 has an updated framework of 50 indicators aligned with national priorities.
  • Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan, and Telangana are in the Front Runner category (>60 points) in SEEI 2021-22.
  • Assam, Haryana, Maharashtra, and Punjab are in the Achiever category (50-60 points) in SEEI 2021-22.
  • The SEEI helps states identify areas for improvement, learn from best practices, and adopt an economy-wide approach to energy efficiency implementation.
  • The report outlines recommendations to help states drive change in energy efficiency, which will contribute towards the fulfillment of SDGs and NDC.

The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) was established by the Government of India on 1st March 2002 under the provisions of the Energy Conservation Act, 2001, with a mission to develop policies and strategies for reducing the energy intensity of the Indian economy. BEE coordinates with designated consumers, designated agencies, and other organizations to perform the functions assigned to it under the Energy Conservation Act, which provides for regulatory and promotional functions.


On 11th April, 2023, Philippines and the United States began their largest-ever joint military drills, named 'Balikatan' which means 'shoulder-to-shoulder'.

  • The expanded annual exercises underscore improved defence ties between the two countries.
  • For the first time, the Philippines and the United States will hold live-fire drills at sea.
  • The drills will also include training in amphibious operations, aviation operations, cyber defence, urban operations, counter-terrorism and humanitarian and disaster relief.
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