Current Affairs 14th Aug 2017





  • The increase in number of deaths due to lightning strikes in Odisha may have something to do with the gradual disappearance of palm trees from the village landscape, experts said.
  • With the State registering 280 deaths in the past five months due to lightning strike, and 2,655 such deaths in the last eight years, experts are trying to figure out the reasons why the the rural population has become more vulnerable to this natural calamity.
  • One reason, according to experts, may be the declining density of tall trees, which act as natural lightning rods in the flat rural landscape. Palm trees are often struck by lightning since they are usually the tallest objects in villages.
  • Lightning always hits the tallest object first.Palm trees provide a good electrical conducting path for lightning. It is quite useful in open fields.

  • Parts of the palm tree were traditionally used to make thatched roofs and umbrellas, but lost popularity after the rise of concrete structures and ready-made umbrellas.





  • The recent deaths of children in Gorakhpur Medical College has raised many questions not only about the fight against JE but about the disease itself.
  •  Over the years, there have been cases in the area which are clinically different from one another.
  • JE(Japanese Encephalitis) is one kind of encephalitis which falls under a spectrum of diseases called Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).
  • Doctors in endemic regions in U.P. have found cases with similar symptoms but without the virus, leading to some debate over the cause of the disease.
  • While public health experts have found a difference in case definitions across Eastern districts of U.P., this is something Indian scientific community is still trying to understand.
  • However, specific research on this has not been supported by the government so far, despite decades of annual outbreaks.
  • Due to lack of research, U.P. government gets their burden of disease data from hospitals, essentially leaving out cases that do not come into public health facilities.
  • This results in wrong forecasts as the government budget for next year’s JE intervention. Because of the lack of reliable data & research, UP’s policy intervention to curb JE cases has failed for decades.


  • Japanese Encephalitis (JE) is a mosquito-borne viral infection of the brain.
  • There is, however, a debate about the origin of the disease and whether it is enteroviruses — caused by virus found in pigs and birds.
  • There is no cure for JE.


  • While Gorakhpur has a considerable burden of disease, it is incorrect to assume that JE cases are clustered in Gorakhpur district alone.
  • JE epidemics are reported from many parts of India however, it is highly endemic in Eastern Uttar Pradesh.
  • Gorakhpur is a nodal point not because there are more cases in the district but because the only tertiary care centre with 100 beds dedicated to JE is in Gorakhpur.
  • So, cases from nearby districts like Kushinagar and Deoria districts are referred to there for treatment.


  • It is a misconception that the JE vaccine will eradicate the disease in a short span of time.
  • While vaccination is critical, at the heart of U.P.’s crisis is lack of infrastructure, unclear data on disease burden and a lack of access to clean water and toilets.
  • In March, the State government launched a JE vaccination drive in 38 districts in U.P. but it was not supplemented with access to clean water and sanitation.
  • The efficacy of the JE vaccine is between 85-90%.
  • The lessons learnt from polio vaccination drives is that people left out of each round of vaccination are the most disenfranchised, most likely to take ill and least likely to seek medical care in time.





  • In a setback to the Indian Army’s tank fleet, the team which was competing in the global tank competition in Russia has crashed out of race after the T-90 tanks broke down due to a technical snag.
  • India is competing with 18 other countries, including China, in the ‘Tank Biathlon’ which began on July 29.
  • These tank games have been held annually since 2013 as part of the International Army Games in the Alabino Ranges in Russia.
  • The International Army Games involve 28 events held across Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and China.
  • India joined the games three years ago but this has been the first time it had taken its own tanks for the competition. In the past, Russia had provided its tanks for the Indian team.

T – 90 S   TANK

  • The T-90S is the latest development in the T-series of Russian tanks and represents an increase in firepower, mobility and protection.
  • The T-90S entered service with the Russian Army in 1992.
  • In February 2001, the Indian Army signed a contract for 310 T-90S tanks: 124 were completed in Russia and the rest are being delivered in “knocked down” form for final assembly in India.
  • The first of these was delivered in January 2004. The locally assembled tanks are christened ‘Bhishma’.
  • The tanks are fitted with the Shtora self-protection system and Catherine thermal imagers from Thales of France and Peleng of Belarus.
  • The first ten Bhishma tanks were inducted into the Indian Army in August 2009. India plans to induce 1,640 T-90 tanks by 2020.
  • The T-90S armament includes one 125mm 2A46M smoothbore gun. The gun can fire a variety of ammunition including APDS (Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot), HEAT (high-explosive anti-tank), HE-FRAG (high-explosive fragmentation) as well as shrapnel projectiles with time fuses.
  • The T-90 tank is protected by both conventional armour-plating and explosive reactive armour.
  • The T-90 is fitted with the Shtora-1 defensive aids suite . This system includes infrared jammer, laser warning system with four laser warning receivers, grenade discharging system which produces an aerosol screen and a computerised control system.
  • It is also fitted with NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) protection equipment.

T-90S main battle tank

  • The T-90S has the 1A4GT integrated fire control system (IFCS) which is automatic but with manual override for the commander.
  • The T-90S has a liquid-cooled V-84MS 618kW (840hp) four-stroke V-12 piston engine. This engine can be fuelled by T-2 or TS-1 kerosene and A-72 benzine, in addition to diesel. The tank can carry up to 1,600 litres of fuel in the main fuel tanks and fuel drums.