9 PM Current Affairs Brief – January 6th, 2020

EVALI (e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury)

News: According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a US federal agency, the number of deaths due to EVALI, in the USA, rose to 55.



  • An acronym for e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury.
  • The term has been coined by Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2019.
  • Symptoms: common with other respiratory illnesses, including coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath, extreme fever or fatigue.

About E-cigarettes:

  • E-cigarettes are the most common form of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). These are battery- operated devices that heat a substance which may contain nicotine and other chemicals, to create vapour for inhalation.
  • Other examples: Heat Not Burn Products, e-Hookah and e-cigars and other similar devices.

Additional Information:

Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Act, 2019

Key Provisions:

  • Production, manufacturing, import, export, transport, sale, distribution or advertisement of e-cigarettes is cognizable offence.
  • The offence is punishable with imprisonment and fine
  • Sub-inspector of police as the authorised officer is responsible for implementation of provisions of the Act.

Bhitarkanika census finds an increase of 15 saltwater crocodiles from last year

News: According to official estimates, the population of the saltwater or estuarine crocodile has increased in the water bodies of Odisha’s Bhitarkanika National Park to 1,757


About Bhitarkanika National Park

  • It is located in Kendrapara district of Odisha
  • It is inundated by the rivers Brahmani, Baitarani, Dhamra, Pathsala.
  • It is the second largest mangrove ecosystem in India, the first being Sundarbans (West Bengal).
  • It has been designated as a Ramsar Site.

Additional Information:

  • Odisha is the only State in India having all three species of crocodile— gharial, mugger and saltwater crocodile.

Species of crocodile

Species IUCN Status
Saltwater Crocodile Least concern
Mugger Vulnerable
Gharial Critically Endangered

GeM Samvaad and GeM

News: A capacity building programme was conducted by Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) on GeM.


About Government e-Marketplace (GeM)

  • Launched in 2016, it is an e-market place for procurement of common use Goods & Services required by various Government Departments / Organizations / PSUs.
  • Aim: to enhance transparency, efficiency and speed in public procurement.
  • Directorate General of Supplies and Goods (DGS&D) with technical support of National eGovernance Division (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) has developed GeM portal.

About GEM Samvaad

  • It is a national outreach programme aimed at getting feedback from all the States and UTs regarding GeM

Additional Information:

DGS&D: It is the central purchase organization of the Indian government, functioning under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry.

Telling Numbers: Projected drop in male tobacco use underlines shifting trends

News: World Health Organization has launched “Global report on trends in prevalence of tobacco use 2000-2025 third edition”


Key highlights:

  • The tobacco use prevalence was at 33.3% in 2000, and is projected to reach 20.9% in 2025.
  • India had a 44% prevalence of tobacco use in 2000, and, this is expected to reduce to 22.3% by 2025.

Additional Information:

Tobacco Control in India

Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 (COTPA)

  • It prohibits advertisement of cigarettes and other tobacco products in India.
  • Smoking in public places (including indoor workplaces) is prohibited.

Pictorial warnings: Pictorial warnings on both sides of packages of cigarettes, bidis and all forms of chewing tobacco products is compulsory and currently covers 85% of the packet.

Global Initiative:

WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), 2003

  • Objective: To provide a framework for supply and demand reduction measures for tobacco control at the national, regional and global levels.
  • India is a signatory.

MPOWER: It is a package of selected demand reduction measures put forward by WHO. It includes:

  • Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies
  • Protect people from tobacco smoke
  • Offer help to quit tobacco use
  • Warn about the dangers of tobacco
  • Enforce bans on tobacco advisement, promotion and sponsorships
  • Raise taxes on tobacco

Explained: What carbon numbers mean for climate target

News: According to State of Forest Report (SFR) 2019, carbon stock in India’s forests have increased from 7.08 billion tonnes in 2017, to 7.124 billion tonnes in 2019.


  • Carbon stock is the quantity of carbon contained in a carbon pool.
  • Carbon pool: It is a reservoir or system which has the capacity to accumulate or release carbon
  • Carbon sink: It is any system that absorbs more carbon than it emits. The main natural carbon sinks are soil, forests and oceans.

Additional Information:

India’s intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) under Paris Agreement

  • reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33% to 35% by 2030 from 2005 level,
  • increase total cumulative electricity generation from fossil free energy sources to 40% by 2030,
  • Create additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tons through additional forest and tree cover.

25th meeting of the western zonal council

News: The 25th meet of the Western Zonal council will be held in January. Maharashtra is the lead coordinator of the meet in 2020.


  • Zonal Councils are statutory bodies established under the States Reorganization Act, 1956.


  • bring out national integration
  • arrest the growth of acute State regionalism, linguism and particularistic tendencies
  • enable Centre and the States to co-operate and exchange ideas and experiences and
  • establish a climate of co-operation amongst States for successful execution of development projects

Composition of zonal councils

  • Chairman: Union Home Minister
  • Vice Chairman: Chief Ministers of the States included in each zone by each holding office for a period of one year at a time
  • Members:  Chief Minister and two other Ministers as nominated by the Governor from each of the States and two members from Union Territories in the zone.

Zonal Councils in India:

There are 5 Zonal Councils:

Name Member Headquarter
North Zonal Council Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Delhi and Chandigarh New Delhi
Central Zonal Council Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand Allahabad
Eastern Zonal Council Bihar, Jharkhand, west Bengal and orisha Kolkata
Western Zonal Council Gujarat, Maharashtra, goa, Dabra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu Mumbai
Southern Zonal Council Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil nadu, Kerala, Puducherry Chennai

Additional Information:

North Eastern Council

  • It was created under North-Eastern Council Act of 1971.
  • Members: Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura and Sikkim.

Global meet on marine ecosystems

News:The third international conference on marine ecosystems – challenges and opportunities(MECOS-3) will be held in Kochi,Kerala from January 7 to 10,2019.


About the Conference:

  • The Conference is organized by the Marine Biological Association of India.
  • The conference is aimed at reviewing the concerns involved in marine ecosystem and formulating strategies for the better and sustainable utilisation of marine wealth by enhancing livelihood options,
  • It will also serve as a platform for discussions on a range of topics, including the impact of the climate crisis on marine ecosystems and an unusual warming of the Arabian Sea.

Conference and SDG:

  • The conference would focus on the Sustainable Development Goal of the United Nations, SDG-14. 
  • SDG-14 says, “Conserve and Sustainably use the oceans and its resources for sustainable development”.

Significance of the conference:

  • Healthy oceans, coasts and related ecosystems are crucial for economic growth and food production. 
  • Billions of people worldwide, especially the world’s poorest rely on healthy oceans to provide jobs and food underscoring the urgent need to sustainably use and protect this natural resource.
  • However,numerous issues such as depletion of resources, marine pollution, extreme weather conditions and rising sea surface temperature pose a threat to the sustainable utilisation of marine resources.
  • Hence,the conference would come up with a roadmap to deal with these issues.

Additional information:

About Marine Biological Association of India: 

  • The Marine Biological Association of India was established in the year 1958.
  • It serves the cause of promotion of research on marine sciences in the Asia-Pacific region.It also aims to create an active interest among its members in the field of marine biology and allied marine sciences.

New technology to boost production of Geranium

News:CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) has developed a new low-cost technology to produce Geranium saplings.


About Geranium:

  • Geranium plant is originally from South Africa and is predominantly used in manufacturing essential oils.
  • It acts as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic agent.It also has several medicinal values.
  • In India, the plant is cultivated in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and North Eastern Regions.

About the new technology:

  • This new technology has been developed under the Aroma Mission of CSIR.
  • Currently,the geranium cultivation is being done in aerated glass houses. With the help of the new technology,geranium can be cultivated at farms just like every other crop. 
  • Further,another problem of Geranium cultivation is the availability of saplings.The saplings become expensive as the crop gets ruined in the rainy season.With the new technology,the saplings can easily be obtained as they are being cultivated in open farms.

Additional information:

About Aroma mission:

  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research(CSIR) had launched the Aroma mission to boost cultivation of aromatic crops and medicinal plants.
  • Aromatic plants are a special kind of plants used for their aroma and flavour.Many of them are also used for medicinal purposes such as rosemary, lavender, lemongrass among others.
  • The mission aims to develop superior aroma crop varieties and their agro-technologies. The mission also facilitates the assessment of their suitability for large scale cultivation in specific agro-climatic regions.

Religion no bar for Padmanur’s Yakshagana

News:Recently,the Yakshagana committee hosted the 60th annual Yakshagana in the Padmanur village, Karnataka.It is a multi-faith committee consisting of Hindus, Christians and Muslims and it hosts Yakshagana every year.


About Yakshagana:

  • Yakshagana literally means the song (gana) of the yaksha (nature spirits).It is believed to have originated somewhere in between the 10th and the 16th century.
  • It is a traditional theatre form that combines dance, music, dialogue, costumes, make-up, and stage techniques with a unique style and form.
  • It was mainly developed in Udupi,Karnataka.It is popular in the districts of Dakshina Kannada, Kasaragod, Udupi, Uttara Kannada and Shimoga in Karnataka .
  • Yakshagana is traditionally presented from dusk to dawn.Its stories are drawn from Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata and other Hindu epics. 
  • The Yakshagana performance consists of background music played by a group of musicians (known as the himmela) and a dance and dialog group (known as the mummela) who together enact poetic epics on stage.

National Aerospace Laboratory wants govt. push for Saras Mk2 takeoff

News:National Aerospace Laboratory has said that the Government of India should buy at least 50-60 Saras Mk2 aircraft to make production commercially viable.


About Saras Mk2 aircraft:

  • Saras Mk2 is the first Indian multi-purpose civilian aircraft.It is designed by the National Aerospace Laboratories(NAL). 
  • The project was started in 1991 and the first prototype was introduced in 2004.However,the project was scrapped after the aircraft crashed in 2009.
  • In 2017,the project was again revived.The upgraded SARAS PT1N completed its test flight in 2018. 

Features of the aircraft:

  • The aircraft falls in the light transport aircraft category.It is capable of executing both day and night missions. 
  • It can be used for transporting civilians, freight and in remote sensing exercises. 
  • It can take off and land from semi-prepared airfields and even on grass runways. 
  • The aircraft has been designed to travel at 425 km/h and it has a maximum continuous flight time of around five hours.
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