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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Cop out in Delhi

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- Need for the police reforms.

Context

Political parties across the spectrum escape the blame for continuing to use the police as an instrument to further their political agenda.

The backdrop of violence in protest against CAA in Delhi

  • The culmination of dithering by police: It was the culmination of weeks of dithering and selective action on the part of the Delhi Police in dealing with those agitating against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
  • No preventive action is taken: No preventive action appears to have been taken, and when the national capital was rocked by agitators in different areas the police appeared to have been caught by surprise.
  • Hesitation in acting against the rioters: There appeared to be hesitation on the part of the police in taking firm action against the rioters who continued to be on the rampage, destroying public and private property.
    • There was a disturbing scene of a rioter openly brandishing his firearm at a policeman.

Disturbing patterns in the Police actions

  • Delhi Police- The extremes of action and inaction: The Delhi Police is the best-resourced police in the country.
    • It is looked upon as a model by state police forces across the country. Its response, in fact, shows a disturbing pattern.
    • There have been extremes of action and inaction.
    • Forcible entry: In Jamia Millia Islamia, the police is alleged to have entered the campus forcibly and roughed up students after their march against the CAA turned violent.
    • Inexplicable delay: In JNU, there was an inexplicable delay in responding to violence by a group of outsiders within the campus.
  • Bengal Police-Turning blind eye to rioters’vandalism: In West Bengal, with Mamata Banerjee leading the charge against the CAA, the message to the police was clear.
    • They turned Nelson’s eye to rioters’ vandalising government and private property; the Eastern Railways alone suffered a loss of Rs 72.19 crore.
  • Uttar Pradesh Police- Excesses committed during protests.
    • In UP, where over 20 people were killed, the Allahabad High Court has called for a detailed report on the alleged police excesses.
  • Karnataka Police- Over-zealousness.
    • In Karnataka, the High Court has blamed the Mangaluru police of “over-zealousness” in dealing with the anti-CAA protests.
  • Party bias in the Police actions: Police response invariably reflects the bias of the ruling party.
    • The partisan police response to situations, which were strikingly similar, has caused dismay and consternation among the people.
    • One must get to the root of the problem.

Observations and the Supreme Court guidelines

  • National Police Commission observation: The National Police Commission recorded as far back as 1979 that “the present culture of the police system appears a continuation of what obtained under the British regime when the police functioned ruthlessly as an agent for sustaining the government in power”.
    • In such a situation, the Commission went on to say, “police find it difficult to play their lawful role and make their performance acceptable to the people at large”.
  • The Supreme Court directions: The Supreme Court issued a set of six directions in 2006 to state governments with a view to transforming the ethos and working philosophy of the police.
    • Setting up the State Security Commission: The SC’s most important direction was about setting up of a State Security Commission with a view to insulate the police from external pressures.
    • It is true that several states have enacted laws purportedly in compliance with the Supreme Court’s orders.
    • Recommendation not supported in letter and spirit: But these acts, as their critical examination reveals, violate the letter and spirit of the judicial directions. The old order continues for all practical purposes.
  • The Justice Dhingra Committee report on anti-Sikh riots: In its recently released report on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the report slammed the Union government and the Delhi Police.
    • It observed that a large number of crimes remained unpunished for the simple reason that there was “lack of interest shown by the police and by the authorities in handling these cases as per law or to proceed with the intention of punishing the culprits”.
    • The effort of the police and the administration “seems to have been to hush up the criminal cases concerning riots”.

Way forward

  • Implement the recommendations of NPC: It is unfortunate that the NPC recommendations have not been acted upon even after the Supreme Court’s directions. No wonder, in the recent agitation in different states, the police have acted in the manner they did.
  • Interference of the political parties need to be reduced: The police are, no doubt, to blame for not being able to function in an objective and impartial manner. There is definitely a failure of leadership also. The political leadership need to ensure the autonomy of the police.
  • Role of media: The media cannot escape its responsibility for treating the police as a convenient punching bag from time to time and not taking up the cause of police reforms as aggressively as it should be doing.
  • Introspection by the Supreme Court: The Supreme Court would also need to introspect as to why the implementation of its directions has been so ineffective.

Electoral Reforms In India

More psychological than an empowering voter option

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- How NOTA has fared so far, what are the shortcomings and scope.

Context

The recently-concluded Delhi Assembly elections were the 45th Assembly polls since the inception of the none of the above (NOTA) option in 2013. And Delhi, although mostly urban, is widely regarded as the microcosm of India.

NOTA in Delhi

  • Delhi’s preference to NOTA is less than the national average.
  • From 0.63% in 2013, Delhi polled 0.39% of those favouring NOTA in 2015, a statistically significant reduction indeed.
    • It now increased to 46% in 2020; again statistically significant.
  • While 96% of the constituencies had a reduced percentage of NOTA votes in 2015 than 2013, the NOTA percentage has increased in 71% constituencies this year.
  • In the Lok Sabha elections, Delhi polled 0.47% and 0.52% of those favouring NOTA, in 2014 and 2019, respectively.
  • Takeaway: Roughly one in 200 voters of Delhi opted for NOTA in the last six to seven years, with relatively larger support for NOTA in reserved constituencies.

Gujarat and Maharashtra examples

  • Interestingly, in the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections, despite being 1.8%, NOTA got more votes than any political party other than the Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (except the Independents).
  • Again, in the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly election, NOTA became a runner-up in two constituencies – Latur (Rural) and Palus-Kadegaon.
  • Do these cases mark any significant shift in the voter mindset?

Essence and scope of NOTA

  • Not a right to reject: In 2013, India became the 14th country to institute negative voting through NOTA.
    • However, it is not a “right to reject”.
  • Toothless option: NOTA in India is a toothless option.
    • Former Chief Election Commissioner of India S.Y. Quraishi, had observed in an article: “Even if there are 99 NOTA votes out of a total of 100, and candidate X gets just one vote, X is the winner, having obtained the only valid vote. The rest will be treated as invalid or ‘no votes’.”
  • Not right to select: NOTA enfeebles the electorate as it does not empower to “select” either.
  • Democratic means to express resentment: Certainly NOTA provides democratic means to express resentment anonymously rather than boycotting the polls outright.
    • A group of women activists in Kerala out on the road urging people not to elect any candidate if no woman was present in the fray.
    • A youth group in Tamil Nadu that campaigned for NOTA as a protest vote against corruption.
  • Pleas to extend the scope of NOTA: There have been pleas to extend the scope of NOTA.
    • Recommendation of re-elections: In 2018, a former CEC, T.S. Krishnamurthy, has recommended holding elections again in those constituencies where the victory margin is less than the total numbers of NOTA.
    • Right to reject in place of NOTA: A PIL has been filed in Madras High Court seeking the full right to reject in place of NOTA.

Cases of extending the scope of NOTA

  • Maharashtra SEC order: In June 2018, the Maharashtra State Election Commission (SEC) issued an order that said:
    • “If it is noticed while counting that NOTA has received the highest number of valid votes, the said election for that particular seat shall be countermanded and a fresh election shall be held for such a post.”
  • NOTA as a fictional candidate in Haryana: In November 2018, the SEC of Haryana went a step further and issued an order where NOTA is treated like a “fictional candidate” in municipal polls from December 2018.
    • If NOTA gets the maximum vote, none of the “real” candidates will be declared elected, and the elections will be cancelled and held afresh.
    • What is more, the candidates securing votes less than NOTA would be barred from contesting in that re-election.
  • Example from Indonesia: Interestingly, in Makassar, Indonesia, the only candidate in the 2018 election for mayor received 35,000 less votes than NOTA, which forced a repeat election in 2020.

The optimism expressed by the Supreme Court on NOTA

  • The SC’s anticipation: While introducing NOTA, the Supreme Court anticipated that “there will be a systemic change and the political parties will be forced to accept the will of the people and field candidates who are known for their integrity.”
    • Thus, its percentage should either increase to enforce the political parties to field candidates with “integrity”.
    • Or NOTA percentage should consistently decrease if the electorates feel that the system has achieved the desired level of cleansing.
  • No increase or decrease in NOTA votes: In contrast, the share of NOTA votes in India remained around a meagre level of 1% on an average; 1.11% in the 2014 Lok Sabha, and 1.08% in 2019, if we consider constituency-wise averages.
  • What this represents? This perhaps represents a confused state of mind of the electorate. Has the perceived cynicism of Indian voters regarding the right to reject been exaggerated?

Would NOTB- None of The Below more advantageous?

  • Last option disadvantage? Is NOTA, as the last button of all EVMs in the country, a psychological issue as far as the electorates are concerned?
  • First position on ballot advantage: A 2004 article in The Journal of Politics, have discussed the possible advantage of the first position in the ballot, at least in the U.S. context.
  • NOTB instead of NOTA: Although there is no such concrete study to gauge the Indian voter’s mindset, one wonders whether using NOTB (‘none of the below’) instead of NOTA- with such an option as the first on the electronic voting machine — might produce a significantly different outcome or not.
    • An experiment, after changing the rule suitably, can be attempted, at least.

Conclusion

Extending the scope of NOTA by empowering it with the right to reject along with other changes like placing NOTA at the top of EVM would help in making the election process clean and fair.

 

 

 

 

Citizenship and Related Issues

Rights, duties and the Constitution

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- Conflating duties and rights and its consequences.

Context

At an International Judicial Conference 2020 this weekend, the Chief Justice of India, S.A. Bobde, drew attention to the Constitution’s Fundamental Duties chapter.

The logic of duties

  • Wide range of duties: The first thing to note is that as citizens, there exists a wide range of duties that bind us in everyday life.
    • Duties towards the state and individual: These duties are owed both to the state and to other individuals.
  • Legal duties: We have a legal duty to pay our taxes, to refrain from committing violence against our fellow-citizens, and to follow other laws that Parliament has enacted.
    • Breach of these legal duties triggers financial consequences (fines), or even time in jail.
  • Following the duties is price for living in the society: At any given time, therefore, we are already following a host of duties, which guide and constrain how we may behave.
    • This is the price that must be paid for living in society, and it is a price that nobody, at least, in principle, objects to paying.
  • Self-contained whole: Our duties and the consequences we bear for failing to keep them, therefore, exist as a self-contained whole.
    • Co-existence and sacrifice: The peaceful co-existence requires a degree of self-sacrifice, and that if necessary, this must be enforced through the set of sanctions.

The logic of rights

  • Understanding the logic through history: Rights, on the other hand, follow a different logic entirely. This is a logic that is best understood through history.
    • Two concerns: At the time of the framing of the Indian Constitution and its chapter on Fundamental Rights, there were two important concerns animating the Constituent Assembly.
    • Treatment as subjects: The first was that under the colonial regime, Indians had been treated as subjects.
    • Their interests did not count, their voices were unheard, and in some cases — for example, the “Criminal Tribes”- they were treated as less than human.
    • Holocaust example: Apart from the long and brutal history of colonialism, the framers also had before them the recent example of the Holocaust, where the dignity of more than six million people had been stripped before their eventual genocide.
  • The first role of fundamental rights chapter: To stand as a bulwark against dehumanisation.
    • Dignity and equality guaranteed: Every human being no matter who they were or what they did had a claim to basic dignity and equality that no state could take away, no matter what the provocation.
    • Unconditional right: One did not have to successfully perform any duty, or meet a threshold of worthiness, to qualify as a rights bearer. It was simply what it meant to be human.
  • Second role of the fundamental rights: To stand against the hierarchy.
    • Removing the subordination and degradation: The axes of gender, caste and religion had all served to keep masses of individuals in permanent conditions of subordination and degradation.
    • Equalising and democratising: Through guarantees against-
    • Forced labour.
    • Against “untouchability”.
    • Against discriminatory access to public spaces, and others.
    • Fundamental rights were meant to play an equalising and democratising role throughout society, and to protect individuals against the depredations visited on them by their fellow human beings.
  • Significance of the above two roles
    • Transformative purpose: The twin principles of anti-dehumanisation and anti-hierarchy reveal the transformative purpose of the fundamental rights chapter.
    • The recognition that true democracy could not exist without ensuring that at a basic level, the dignity and equality of individuals were protected, both from the state as well as from social majorities.
    • Rise from subject to citizen: It was only with these guarantees could an individual rise from the status of subject to that of the citizen.
    • And, as should be clear by now, it was only after that transformation had been wrought, that the question of duties could even arise.
  • Importance of the language of the duty:
    • The language of duties can play an important role in a society that continues to be divided and unequal.
    • In such a society, those who possess or benefit from entrenched structural and institutional power (starting with the state, and going downwards) certainly have a “duty” not to use that power to the detriment of those upon whom they wield it.
    • That is precisely what the guarantees against “untouchability”, forced labour, and discriminatory access in the Constitution seek to accomplish.

Issue of conflating duties and rights

  • The problem lies in the conflation of rights and duties.
  • In that context, it is always critical to remember Dr B.R. Ambedkar’s words in the Constituent Assembly (which were also cited by the CJI in his speech): that the fundamental unit of the Constitution remains the individual.
  • If the position of the individual and the Constitution’s commitment to combating hierarchy is kept in mind, then the language of duties can be understood in its proper context.
  • Chances of duties leading to unpleasant consequences: Without the moral compass of rights and their place in the transformative Constitutional scheme the language of duties can lead to unpleasant consequences.
    • It can end up entrenching existing power structures by placing the burden of “duties” upon those that are already vulnerable and marginalised.
  • The constitution is about rights: It is for this reason that, at the end of the day, the Constitution, a charter of liberation, is fundamentally about rights.

Conclusion

It is only after guarantee to all the full sum of humanity, dignity, equality, and freedom promised by the Constitution, that we can ask of them to do their duty. Perhaps, then, it is time to update Hind Swaraj for the constitutional age: “real duties are the result of the fulfilment of rights”.

Poverty Eradication – Definition, Debates, etc.

Poverty and its measurement

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Poverty measurement, MPI , Various committees

Mains level : Poverty measurement

US President recently praised India for having lifted “over 270 million people out of poverty” in “a single decade”, and said that “12 Indian citizens are lifted out of extreme poverty every single minute of every single day”.

What is poverty?

  • Poverty can be defined as a condition in which an individual or household lacks the financial resources to afford a basic minimum standard of living.
  • Economists and policymakers estimate “absolute” poverty as the shortfall in consumption expenditure from a threshold called the “poverty line”.
  • The “depth” of poverty indicates how far the poor are below the poverty line.

Defining the poverty line

  • The official poverty line is the expenditure incurred to obtain the goods in a “poverty line basket” (PLB).
  • Poverty can be measured in terms of the number of people living below this line (with the incidence of poverty expressed as the head count ratio).

Committees for poverty estimates

  • Six official committees have so far estimated the number of people living in poverty in India — the working group of 1962; V N Dandekar and N Rath in 1971; Y K Alagh in 1979; D T Lakdawala in 1993; Suresh Tendulkar in 2009; and C Rangarajan in 2014.
  • The government did not take a call on the report of the Rangarajan Committee; therefore, poverty is measured using the Tendulkar poverty line.
  • As per this, 21.9% of people in India live below the poverty line.

Poverty Line Basket (PLB)

  • The PLB comprises goods and services considered essential to a basic minimum standard of living — food, clothing, rent, conveyance, and entertainment.
  • The price of the food component can be estimated using calorie norms or nutrition targets.
  • Until the 1990s, the calorie norms method was used — it was based on the minimum number of calories recommended by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for a household of five members.
  • However, this method does not consider the different food groups that are essential for health — this is why the Tendulkar Committee targeted nutritional outcomes.
  • The Lakdawala Committee assumed that health and education is provided by the state — therefore, expenditure on these items was excluded from the consumption basket it proposed.
  • Since expenditure on health and education rose significantly in the 1990s, the Tendulkar Committee included them in the basket.
  • As a result of revisions to the basket and other changes in the method of estimation, the percentage of people living below the poverty line in 1993-94 rose from 35.97% to 45.3%.

Issues with PLB

  • The PLB has been the subject of much debate. The 1962 group did not consider age and gender-specific calorie requirements.
  • Expenditure on health and education were not considered until the Tendulkar Committee — which was criticized for setting the poverty line at just Rs 32 per capita per day in urban India (and at Rs 27 in rural India).
  • And the Rangarajan Commission was criticized for selecting the food component arbitrarily — the emphasis on food as a source of nutrition overlooks the contribution of sanitation, healthcare, access to clean water, and prevalence of pollutants.

Why are poverty numbers important?

  • Poverty numbers matter because central welfare schemes like Antyodaya Anna and Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana use the definition of poverty given by the NITI Aayog or the erstwhile Planning Commission.
  • The Centre allocates funds for these schemes to states based on the numbers of their poor.
  • Errors of exclusion can deprive eligible households of benefits.

Alternate measures of poverty: The MPI

  • In 2011, Oxford University researchers Sabina Alkire and James Foster devised the multidimensional poverty index (MPI) to capture poverty using 10 indicators.
  • These indicators include nutrition, child mortality, years of schooling, school attendance, ownership of assets, and access to proper house, electricity, drinking water, sanitation, and clean cooking fuel.
  • Poverty is measured in terms of deprivation in at least a third of these indicators.
  • The MPI is a more comprehensive measure of poverty because it includes components that capture the standard of living more effectively.
  • However, uses “outcomes” rather than expenditure — the presence of an undernourished person in the household will result in it being classified as “poor”, regardless of the expenditure on nutritious food.

MPI measures of India

  • In 2015-16, 369.546 million (nearly 37 crore) Indians were estimated to meet the deprivation cut-off for three or more of the 10 indicators.
  • While the overall headcount multidimensional poverty ratio in 2015-16 was 27.9%, the number was 36.8% for rural and 9.2% for urban India.
  • There were wide variations across states — poverty was the highest for Bihar (52.5%), followed by Jharkhand (46.5%), Madhya Pradesh (41.1%), and Uttar Pradesh (40.8%).
  • It was the lowest for Kerala (1.1%), Delhi (4.2%), Punjab (6.1%), Tamil Nadu (7.3%) and Himachal Pradesh (8.1%).

So what is the current “level” of poverty in India?

  • The National Statistical Office (NSO) Report on Household Consumer Expenditure for 2017-18 was junked in 2019 — so there are no data to update India’s poverty figures.
  • Even the MPI report published by Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative used data from the fourth round of the National Family Health Survey, figures for which are available only until 2015-16.
  • Social scientists used data from a leaked version of the consumer expenditure data to conclude that the incidence of poverty in India increased from 31.15% to 35.1% between 2011-12 and 2017-18.
  • The absolute number of poor people also increased from 270 million to 322.22 million over the same period, which translates to 52 million more poor people in six years.

Air Pollution

World Air Quality Report, 2019

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PM 2.5

Mains level : World Air Quality Report, 2019

 

The 2019 World Air Quality Report was recently released

World Air Quality Report

  • The World Air Quality Report is released by the pollution tracker IQAir and Greenpeace.
  • The report focuses on PM2.5 as a representative measure of air pollution.

Highlights of the report

  • India accounts for two-thirds of the world’s most polluted cities — 21 of the most polluted 30 cities; 14 of the highest 20; and 6 of the highest 10 — in the report.
  • Among countries, when population is taken into account, average PM2.5 pollution is highest in Bangladesh, followed by Pakistan, while India is at number 5.
  • China is at number 11 in the list of countries affected by population, with population factored in. Chinese cities achieved a 9% average decrease in PM2.5 levels in 2019.
  • While cities in India, on average, exceed the WHO target for annual PM2.5 exposure by 500%, national air pollution decreased by 20% from 2018 to 2019, with 98% of cities experiencing improvements.
  • It said 90% of the global population breathing unsafe air.

Top polluted Indian Cities


Back2Basics

PM 2.5

  • PM 2.5 refers to particulate matter (ambient airborne particles) which measure up to 2.5 microns in size and has a range of chemical makeups and sources.
  • It is widely regarded as the pollutant with the most health impact of all commonly measured air pollutants.
  • Due to its small size PM2.5 is able to penetrate deep into the human respiratory system and from there to the entire body, causing a wide range of short- and long-term health effects.
  • Particulate matter is also the pollutant group which affects the most people globally. It can come from a range of natural as well as man-made sources.
  • Common sources of PM include combustion (from vehicle engines, industry, wood and coal burning), as well as through other pollutants reacting in the atmosphere.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States

Blue Dot Network

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Blue Dot Network

Mains level : Blue Dot Network

 

With US President Donald Trump on his maiden visit to India, the two countries are expected to have discussed the Blue Dot Network, a proposal that will certify infrastructure and development projects.

Blue Dot Network

  • Led by the US’s International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), the Blue Dot network was jointly launched by the US, Japan (Japanese Bank for International Cooperation) and Australia (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) in November 2019 on the sidelines of the 35th ASEAN Summit in Thailand.
  • It is meant to be a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to bring governments, the private sector and civil society together to promote “high quality, trusted standards for global infrastructure development”.
  • The network is like a “Michelin Guide” for infrastructure projects.
  • This means that as part of this initiative, infrastructure projects will be vetted and approved by the network depending on standards, as per which, the projects should meet certain global infrastructure principles.
  • The projects that are approved will get a “Blue Dot”, thereby setting universal standards of excellence, which will attract private capital to projects in developing and emerging economies.

Countering China’s BRI?

  • Observers have referred to the proposal as a means of countering China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which was launched over six years ago.
  • While Blue Dot may be seen as a counter to BRI, it will need a lot of work for two reasons.

Fundamental difference between BRI and Blue Dot

  • While the former involves direct financing, giving countries in need immediate short-term relief, the latter is not a direct financing initiative and therefore may not be what some developing countries need.
  • The question is whether Blue Dot offering first-world solutions to third-world countries.
  • Secondly, Blue Dot will require coordination among multiple stakeholders when it comes to grading projects.
  • Given the past experience of Quad, the countries involved in it are still struggling to put a viable bloc. Therefore, it remains to be seen how Blue Dot fares in the long run.

Interstate River Water Dispute

Kalasa-Banduri Nala Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kalasa-Banduri Nala Project

Mains level : Mahadayei Water Dispute

 

The cost of Kalasa-Banduri Nala Project on the Mahadayi River skyrockets by 1,674% since inception. It rose from about ₹94 crores (2000) to ₹1,677.30 crores (2020) due to the ongoing inter-State river water dispute.

Kalasa-Banduri Nala Project

  • The project is undertaken by the Government of Karnataka to improve drinking water supply to the three districts of Belagavi, Dharwad, and Gadag.
  • It was planned in 1989; Goa raised an objection to it.
  • It involves building across Kalasa and Banduri, two tributaries of the Mahadayi river to divert water to the Malaprabha, a tributary of Krishna River.
  • Malaprabha river supplies the drinking water to Dharwad, Belgaum, and Gadag districts.

About Mahadayi Water Dispute

  • The Mahadayi river basin drains an area of 2032 square kilometres of which 375 square km lies in Karnataka, 77 sq km in Maharashtra and the remaining in Goa.
  • It originates in the Belagavi district of Karnataka, briefly passes through Maharashtra and flows through Goa (where its known as Mandovi), and drains to the Arabian Sea.
  • Since the eighties, Karnataka has been was contemplating linking of Mahadayi with Malaprabha river, a tributary of Krishna.
  • In 2002, Karnataka gave the idea a shape in the form of the Kalasa-Bhanduri project.
  • Goa strongly opposed it as Mahadayi is one of the two rivers the State is dependent on and thus Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal was set up in 2010.

Read more about the Mahadayi Dispute and award of the tribunal at:

Verdict of Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal Comes

Global Geological And Climatic Events

Solar Storms

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Solar Storms

Mains level : Solar storms and their impact on Earth

 

According to a research, sudden releases of high-energy particles from the sun, called solar storms, can mess with the navigational ability of gray whales, causing them to strand on land.

Solar storms

  • Solar storms are a variety of eruptions of mass and energy from the solar surface.
  • Flares, prominences, sunspots, coronal mass ejections are the common harbingers of solar activity, as are plages and other related phenomena seen at other wavelengths.

Impact on Whales

  • Solar storms have the potential to modify geomagnetic field and disrupt magnetic orientation behaviour of animals, hampering their navigation during long periods of migration.
  • They disrupt earth’s magnetic field — and the whales’ navigational sense.
  • The radio frequency noise created by the solar outburst affects the whales’ senses in a way that prevents them from navigating at all.