9 PM Current Affairs Brief – January 15th, 2020

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Explained: Why eruption of a tiny, ‘complex’ volcano is causing concern

News: Taal Volcano erupted on 12thJanuary


About Taal Volcano

  • It is located on the island of Luzon, in Philippines.
  • It is classified as a “complex” volcano.
Image result for Taal volcano map

Additional Information:

Volcano: A volcano on Earth is a vent or fissure in the planet’s crust through which lava, ash, rock and gases erupt

Major Types of Volcano

  1. Cinder cone volcanoes (also called scoria cones): Occur as single volcanoes or as secondary volcanoes known as “parasitic cones” on the sides of composite or shield volcanoes. Example: Mt Tabor, Mt Zion
  2. Complex/ Stratovolcano: built of layers of alternating lava flow, ash and blocks of unmelted stone. They result from a conduit system of vents leading from a magma reservoir beneath the surface. Vesuvius, Taal, Mt Fuji, Mt Cotopaxi.
  3. Shield volcanoes: huge, gently sloping volcanoes built of very thin lava spreading out in all directions from a central vent. Example: Mauna Loa in Hawaii

Why is Philippines prone to volcanic activity and Earthquakes?

  • Philippines lies along the Ring of Fire – a zone of major seismic activity. The country is situated at the boundaries of two tectonic plates — the Philippines Sea Plate and the Eurasian plate

Española Giant tortoises

News: The Galápagos National Park has announced it is ending Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative (GTRI), captive breeding program, for Española Giant Tortoises


About Española Giant Tortoises

  • It is a species of Giant tortoises. Giant tortoises are the longest-lived of all vertebrates, averaging over 100 years.
  • Geographic Range: Española Island

in the Galápagos Islands of Ecuador.

  • IUCN Status: Critically Endangered

Additional Information:

Galápagos Island: It is a part of the Republic of Ecuador, are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed on either side of the equator in the Pacific Ocean. It is a World Heritage Site.

Image result for Galápagos Island location map"

Harvest Festivals in India

News: Harvest festivals celebrated across India on 15thJanuary


Festival State/Region
Makar Sankarnti North India& Karnataka
Pongal South India Especially Tamil Andu
Magh Bihu Assam
Uttarayan Gujarat
Sajhi Himla District Of Himachal Pradesh
Kicheri Uttar Pradesh
Pedda Panduga Andhra Pradesh

Indian Oil Corporation Launches Special NATO Class Diesel for Indian Navy

News: Vice Admiral G S Pabby launched the Upgraded High Flash High-Speed Diesel (HFHSD- IN 512)


About Upgraded High Flash High-Speed Diesel (HFHSD- IN 512)

  • It has been developed by Indian Oil Corp (IOC). It is being supplied from Haldia and Paradip refinery.
  • It has the unique combination of low pour and Cold filter plugging point (CFPP) and High Flash Point.
  • It has the highest cetane number amongst all marine diesel fuel.


  • possesses the best rheological and detergent characteristics
  • lesser environmental impact due to low Sulphur content
  • provide fuel of better quality than that mandated to all foreign navies under bilateral/ multi-national logistics support pacts
  • Would be key enabler in the Navy’s ‘Mission Based Deployment’ on a global scale.

Annual Status of Education Report Flags Poor Learning Outcomes in Schools

News: NGO Pratham released Annual Status of Education Report (ASER 2018)


Key ASER 2018 (Rural) findings


  • Since 2007, the enrolment of children for the age group 6 to 14 has been above 95%.
  • 1% of children in the 15-16 age group are not in school.

Learning Levels:

  • Five-year old children in private schools fared better in learning tasks than those in govt. schools and anganwadis
  • Only 16% of children in Class 1 can read text at the prescribed level, while almost 40% cannot even recognise letters.
  • Only 41% of these children could recognise two digit numbers

State-wise Disparity: In Uttar Pradesh, over 60% of Class 3 children cannot recognise letters or read words whereas in Himachal Pradesh over 70% of children are either at grade-level or only close behind.

Explained: How is a language declared ‘classical’ in India, what benefits it enjoys

News:At the 93rd edition of the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan,a resolution was passed demanding the declaration of Marathi as a ‘Classical’ language.


About Classical languages:

  • Currently, six languages enjoy the ‘Classical’ status namely Tamil (declared in 2004), Sanskrit (2005), Kannada (2008), Telugu (2008), Malayalam (2013), and Odia (2014).

Guidelines for declaring a classical language:

  • High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years;
  • A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers;
  • The literary tradition be original and not borrowed from another speech community;
  • The classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.

Benefits provided to a classical language:

  • Two major annual international awards for scholars of eminence in classical Indian languages.
  • A Centre of Excellence for studies in Classical Languages is set up.
  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) is requested to create to start at least in the Central Universities,a certain number of Professional Chairs for the Classical Languages so declared.

Union Petroleum minister to launch ‘Saksham’

News:Union Petroleum minister is set to launch ‘Saksham’, an annual one-month long people centric fuel conservation mega campaign of PCRA.


About Saksham:

  • Saksham is a people-centric fuel conservation mega campaign of Petroleum Conservation Research Association(PCRA) under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
  • The campaign aims at creating focused attention on fuel conservation through people centric activities.
  • It also aims to intensify efforts for making citizens aware about conservation and effective utilization of petroleum products leading to better health and environment.

Additional information:

About PCRA:

  • Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) is a registered society set up under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Government of India.  
  • PCRA is engaged in promoting energy efficiency in various sectors of economy.  
  • It also helps the government in proposing policies and strategies for petroleum conservation aimed at reducing excessive dependence of the country on oil requirement.

WHO releases Global Health Challenges for 2020

News:TheWorld Health Organization(WHO) has released a list of 13 urgent global health challenges for 2020.


About the 13 challenges:

  • Climate Crisis
  • Delivering Health in Conflict and Crisis
  • Healthcare  Equality
  • Expanding Access to Medicines
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Preparing for Epidemics
  • Dangerous Products like unsafe food, and unhealthy diets
  • Investing in People Who Defend Our Health
  • Keeping Teens Safe as more than one million adolescents aged 10 to 19 years die every year
  • Earning Public Trust
  • Harnessing New Technologies such as genome editing and artificial intelligence.
  • Rise of Antimicrobial Resistance
  • Clean Water, Sanitation, Hygiene as about one in four health facilities globally lack basic water, sanitation, and hygiene(WASH) services.

Additional information:

About World Health Organization (WHO)

  • The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health.
  • It was established on 7th April 1948, and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. Every year,7th April is celebrated as the World Health Day.
  • The WHO is a member of the United Nations Development Group. It has 194 member states.

Bhil tribe termed alcoholic, criminal-minded in MPPSC exam

News:Recently,the controversial references to the Bhil tribe by Madhya Pradesh Public Service Commission(MPPSC) has received severe criticism from civil society groups.


About Bhil Tribe:

  • The word Bhil is derived from the Billu which mean Bows.They are mostly found in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan.
  • The Bhil tribes have been mentioned in epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana. 
  • They are the best archers and also excellent in geographical knowledge and third largest tribe in India after the Gonds and Santhals.
  • Currently,the source of income for Bhils are Agriculture and Animal Husbandry.
  • The Baneshwar fair is the main festival celebrated among the Bhils.This fair is held during the period of Shivaratri and is dedicated to Baneshwar Mahadev also known as Lord Shiva.

Explained: Article 131,on which Kerala has based its challenge to the CAA

News:Recently,the Kerala government has moved the Supreme Court against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.This will make Kerala the first state to challenge the law under Article 131 of the Constitution.


About Article 131:

  • The Article 131 vests the Supreme Court with original jurisdiction over disputes occurring between states or between states and the Centre. 
  • The original jurisdiction means the power to hear a case for the first time, as opposed to appellate jurisdiction in which the court reviews the decision of a lower court.
  • Further,unlike the original jurisdiction under Article 32 which gives the top court the power to issue writs but the jurisdiction in Article 131 is exclusive meaning it is only the Supreme Court which has this authority. 

Disputes on which Article 131 can be used:The Supreme Court shall to the exclusion of any other court have original jurisdiction in any dispute on:

  • between the Government of India and one or more States; or
  • between the Government of India and any State or States on one side and one or more other States on the other; or
  • between two or more States


  • The dispute must involve a question (whether of law or fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends.
  • The jurisdiction shall not extend to a dispute arising out of any treaty, agreement or other similar instrument which having been entered into or executed before the commencement of this Constitution continues in operation after such commencement or which provides that the said jurisdiction shall not extend to such a dispute.

Cases related to Article 131:

  • In State of Bihar v. Union of India the court held that the dispute between the state of Bihar and the Hindustan Steel Ltd did not fall under Article 131 as Hindustan steel was not considered to be a state.
  • In the case of State of Rajasthan v. Union of India, the question was whether the word states come under the meaning of the state government or not.The Supreme Court held that it had the original jurisdiction to entertain the proceeding.

WHO endorses indigenous molecular diagnostic tool for tuberculosis diagnosis

News:The World Health Organisation(WHO) has endorsed TrueNat which is an indigenous molecular diagnostic tool for tuberculosis(TB) diagnosis.


About TrueNat:

  • The TrueNat is a new molecular test that can diagnose TB in one hour as well as testing for resistance to the drug rifampicin.
  • The test has been developed by the Indian firm MolBio Diagnostics Pvt Ltd Goa.
  • The test works by rapid detection of TB bacteria using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique.

Additional information:

About Tuberculosis (TB)

  • Tuberculosis(TB) is an infectious airborne bacterial disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
  • When TB infection becomes resistant to the first line of treatment — isoniazid and rifampicin it is called Multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB). 
  • However,when the infection becomes resistant even to the second-line treatment it is called Extensively-drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB).
  • According to the Global Tuberculosis Report 2019,India had 26.9 lakh TB patients in 2018.
  • TB kills an estimated 4.8 lakh Indians every year and more than 1,400 every day.India has the highest TB burden in the world and also has more than a million ‘missing’ cases every year that are not notified.

About Polymerase chain reaction(PCR):

  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a common laboratory technique used to make many copies (millions or billions) of a particular region of DNA.
  • The goal of PCR is to make enough of the target DNA region that it can be analyzed or used in some other way.
  • PCR is used in many areas of biology and medicine, including molecular biology research, medical diagnostics, and even some branches of ecology.

India Meteorological Department(IMD) celebrates 145th Foundation Day

News:The Indian Meteorological Department(IMD) is celebrating its 145th Foundation day on 15th January,2020.


About India Meteorological Department (IMD)

  • India Meteorological Department (IMD) was established in 1875.It is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India.
  • It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology.
  • IMD is also one of the six Regional Specialised Meteorological Centres of the World Meteorological Organization.

Mandate of IMD:

  • To take meteorological observations and to provide current and forecast meteorological information for optimum operation of weather-sensitive activities like agriculture, irrigation, shipping among others.
  • To warn against severe weather phenomena like tropical cyclones, norwesters, dust storms, heavy rains and snow, cold and heat waves, which cause destruction of life and property.
  • To provide meteorological statistics required for agriculture, water resource management, industries, oil exploration and other nation-building activities.
  • To conduct and promote research in meteorology and in various allied disciplines.
  • To detect and locate earthquakes and to evaluate seismicity in different parts of the country for development projects.

Additional information:

Initiatives taken by IMD:

Abou Meghdoot:

  • Meghdoot is a mobile app launched to assist farmers.It has been developed by the Indian Meteorological Department and Indian Institute of Tropical meteorology and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
  • The app provides forecast relating to temperature, rainfall, humidity, and wind speed and direction which play critical roles in agricultural operations and advisories to the farmers on how to take care of their crops and livestock.
  • It provides information in the form of images, maps and pictures to help the farmer to have a clearer picture of what is in store.

About SAMAR:

  • The Indian Meteorological Department(IMD) had launched a System of Aerosol Monitoring and Research(SAMAR) in 2016.
  • It helps the country in studying concentration of black carbon in the atmosphere due to air pollution and its impact on climate.
  • It is equipped with many sophisticated equipments including 12 sky radiometers which studies aerosols different properties and determine how it impacts the climate over a longer period of time.

Assam’s Rongali Bihu artists decry order on cheque payments

News:Assam’s Goods and Services Tax authority has asked the Bihu committees to make all transactions through cheques during the Bihu festival.If complied with,the artistes would have to pay 18% GST.


About Bihu festival:

  • Assamese Bihu is one of the most important cultural festivals of Assam, which celebrates the change in seasons. 
  • It mainly caters to the agrarian culture and society of the state and marks the beginning of Assamese New Year and harvest season.
  • During the festival,Bihu Dance,which is a popular folk dance associated with the state of Assam is also performed.

Types of Bihu festival:

  • Bhogali or Magh Bihu:The Magh Bihu festival is celebrated during January.It sees the first harvest of the season being offered to the gods along with prayers for peace and prosperity.
  • Rongali or Bohag Bihu:It is observed in April.Rongali or Bohag Bihu is the Assamese New Year and Spring festival.The Rongali Bihu coincides with Punjabi New Year Baisakhi.
  • Kongali or Kati Bihu:It is observed in October.During this festival,Bodo people of Assam light lamps and pray to God for a thriving harvesting season.
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