Kurukshetra IAS Academy Blogs

1.Spring season ‘disappearing’ in many States, shows study

Analysis of records since 1970 reveals increased warming between Dec. and Feb. across country; at 2.3 degrees Celsius, Manipur records the biggest jump in temperature in the winter months

Indian States have been gradually registering a withdrawal of spring, a period of relatively benign weather between the winter of January and the scorching summer of April, a 50-year analysis of meteorological records suggests.

Researchers from the agency Climate Trends calculated the monthly average temperature for 33 States and Union Territories from 1970 to the present. This was the period during which the impact of global warming has been empirically observed and for which consistent data exist. For each State or Union Territory, the rate of warming for each month was compared with each three-month meteorological season. For instance, December, January, and February are considered the winter months in meteorological terminology.

Significant trend

Every region analysed had a ‘net warming’ during winter. Manipur had the biggest change since 1970 (2.3 degrees Celsius), while Delhi had the smallest (0.2 degree Celsius). “Winter is the fastest warming season for 12 out of the 34 States and territories considered. This is second only to autumn, which was the fastest warming season in 13 regions,” the analysts noted.

There were significant differences in the pattern of temperature changes during the winter. The southern part of the country had “strong” warming in December and January. Sikkim (2.4 degrees Celsius) and Manipur (2.1 degrees Celsius) had the largest changes in temperature in December and January, respectively. The northern part of the country had weaker warming and even cooling during December and January.

Delhi had the lowest rates during this period (-0.2 degree Celsius in December, -0.8 degree Celsius in January), and among the States, Ladakh (0.1 degree Celsius in December) and Uttar Pradesh (-0.8 degree Celsius in January) had the lowest warming rates.

Sharp change

The pattern changes dramatically between January and February. All regions have warmed in February but the warming is especially pronounced in many of the regions that showed cooling or low warming in the previous months. Jammu and Kashmir had the highest warming (3.1 degrees Celsius) and Telangana had the lowest (0.4 degrees Celsius).

In northern India, the contrast between January trends (cooling or slight warming) and February (strong warming) implied that these regions now have the potential for abrupt transitions from cool winter-like temperatures to the much warmer conditions that traditionally occurred in March.

The biggest jump in warming rates occurred in Rajasthan, where the warming in February was 2.6 degrees Celsius higher than in January. A total of nine States and Union Territories showed a January-February difference of more than 2 degrees Celsius: Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, and Uttarakhand. “This supports the reports that it feels like spring has disappeared in many parts of India,” the report noted.

Meteorologists have earlier ascribed the warming of winter in South India and the lack of rainfall in the North in winter due to an aberration in the pattern of Western Disturbances and the jet stream, winds that originate in the Mediterranean and bring moisture to North India during winter.

2.Centre notifies rules allowing transfer of ‘captive’ elephants

The Centre has notified a set of rules called the Captive Elephant (Transfer or Transport) Rules, 2024 that liberalise the conditions under which elephants may be transferred within or between States.

The circumstances under which captive elephants can be transferred are when an owner is no longer in a position to maintain the elephant, the elephant will likely have a better upkeep than in the present circumstances or when a State’s Chief Wildlife Warden “deems it fit and proper” in the circumstances of the case for better upkeep of the elephant.

Before a transfer within the State, an elephant’s health has to be ratified by a veterinarian and the Deputy Conservator of Forests must establish that the animal’s current habitat and prospective habitat are suitable. The Chief Wildlife Warden, on receipt of such documents, may reject or approve the transfer.

If the transfer involves moving the elephant outside a State, similar conditions apply. Before a transfer is effected, the “genetic profile” of the elephant has to be registered with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Other conditions – a mahout and an elephant assistant should accompany the animal, a health certificate, a quarantine period before the transfer and more – are also part of the rules.

Until August 2022, the Wildlife Protection Act explicitly prohibited the trade in wildlife including both wild and captive elephants. However, amendments to the Act brought in an exemption that for the first time allowed captive elephants to be moved.

A Parliamentary Committee, led by Congress Rajya Sabha MP, Jairam Ramesh, had recommended the deletion of this exemption clause for elephants. The final version of the amended Act, however, retains the clause.

3.Vaccine for dengue may be out in markets by mid-2026, says IIL

Vaccine for dengue could be available commercially as early as mid-2026. Indian Immunologicals Ltd. (IIL) has finished the first phase of clinical trials to determine the safety of the vaccine, the company’s managing director K. Anand Kumar said. The second and third phases of trials to test the vaccine’s efficacy are expected to begin shortly. IIL is a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Dairy Development Board, established in 1982.

“We have completed phase 1 trial, [which is] to determine safety. It was very successful. There have been no adverse reports. We will start phase 2 and 3 trials soon,” Dr. Kumar said in an interaction with The Hindu in Chennai over the past weekend.

The findings of the first phase have already been published in peer-reviewed journals, he said. “We should have completed the trial in December but it was delayed by a few months. We wanted to release it in early 2026 but now, may be by mid-2026, we will be ready to release the vaccines,” he added.

“For dengue, we got the virus strains from the National Institute of Virology. We will release the results of the clinical trials,” he explained of the protocol requirements for any such scientific work.

The company is also developing a vaccine for the Zika virus and for the Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD).

The virus, first identified in 1957 in Karnataka’s forests, is reported to have infected 400 to 500 people annually since then. Transmission in humans occurs through an infected tick’s bite or due to contact with an infected animal, especially a sick or dead monkey.

“The ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) has agreed in principle to help undertake, bear all the cost for clinical trials for the Zika vaccine and we are discussing co-developing the vaccine for KFD along with the Council,” Dr. Kumar said.

In January this year, the company launched the Hepatitis A vaccine, Havisure. The product has taken off well, Dr. Kumar said.

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