Current News National Plan/Policy

25th Eastern Zonal Council

Recent Context

  • Recently, on December 17, 2022, the 25th Eastern Zonal Council meeting was held in Kolkata.
  • The council meet was presided over by the Union Home Minister.
  • It comprises the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, and West Bengal.

Highlights of the Council Meeting

  • The Union Home Minister highlighted that about 93 per cent, of the issues discussed, were resolved in last 8 years (2014-2022).
  • Also, a total of 23 meetings (including recent meeting) of the Eastern Council have been held (an average of 3 meetings per year); despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • As per Union Minister, in the next 25 years, during the Azadi ka Amrit Kaal, the Eastern region of the country will play an important role in the development of India.

About Zonal Councils

The idea of creation of Zonal Councils was mooted by the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1956 during debate on the report of the States Reorganisation Commission.

Composition of Zonal Councils

The Northern Zonal Council

Comprising the States of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Chandigarh.

The Central Zonal Council

Comprising the States of Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh;

The Eastern Zonal Council

Comprising the States of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Sikkim and West Bengal;

The Western Zonal Council

Comprising the States of Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra and the Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli;

The Southern Zonal Council

Comprises the States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry.

North-eastern Council

The North-eastern States Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland are not included in the Zonal Councils and their special problems are looked after by the North-Eastern Council, set up under the North-eastern Council Act, 1972.

The State of Sikkim has also been included in the North Eastern Council vide North Eastern Council (Amendment) Act, 2002 notified in 2002.

Functions of the Councils

  • Any matter of common interest in the field of economic and social planning.
  • Any matter concerning border disputes, linguistic minorities or inter-State transport.
  • Any matter connected with or arising out of the reorganisation of the States under the State's Reorganisation Act.

Organizational Structure

  • Chairman: The union home minister is the Chairman of each of these Councils.
  • Vice Chairman: The Chief Ministers of the States included in each zone act as Vice-Chairman of the Zonal Council for that zone by rotation, 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 included in the zone.

Current News Ecology & Environment Biodiversity

State of Finance for Nature 2022

Recent Context

  • The second edition of the State of Finance for Nature report launched on December 01, 2022, reveals that nature-based solutions are still significantly under-financed.
  • The report was released jointly by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) along with
    • The Economics of Land Degradation initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) of Germany;
    • United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD); and
    • European Commission.
  • The report comes 10 days after the end of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties 27 (COP27) and a week before the start of the UN Conference on Biodiversity (COP15 CBD) in Montreal.

Key Highlights

  • If the world wants to halt biodiversity loss, limit climate change to below 1.50C and achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030, current finance flows to Nature-based Solutions (NbS) must urgently double by 2025 and triple by 2030.
  • Delayed action is not an option in the face of the devastating effects of climate change, the extinction crisis, and severe land degradation globally.
  • The key focus should be on doubling finance flows to NbS and reducing it for activities that increase greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • Public funds make up 83% of the total and the private sector contributes approximately 17%.
  • Total finance flows to NbS have increased by USD 3.9 billion from USD 150 billion (SFN 2021) to USD 154 billion per year.
  • This represents year-on-year growth in investment of 2.6% in real terms across the sum of public and private financial flows.
  • Finance flows to marine NbS are roughly USD 14 billion, 9% of total (terrestrial and marine).
  • Annual domestic government expenditure in marine NbS is over USD 10 billion per year, including spending on marine protected areas, sustainable management of fisheries and research and development of fisheries.
  • Public financial support for nature-negative activities ranges from USD 500 to 1,100 billion per year at present, which is three to seven times larger than current investments in NbS.

What is Nature-based Solution (NbS)?

  • The NbS refers to sustainable management and use of nature to tackle socio-environmental challenges, which range from disaster risk reduction, climate change and biodiversity loss to food and water security as well as human health.
  • NbS creates harmony between people and nature, enables ecological development and represents a holistic, people-centred response to climate change.

About United Nations Environment Programme

  • A leading global environmental authority, established on 5th June 1972.
  • Its headquarters is at Nairobi, Kenya.
  • It sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for global environment protection.

News Crux Web Portal & Apps


Union Minister for Civil Aviation Shri Jyotiraditya Scindia on December 01, 2022 launched DigiYatra from the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi for three airports in the country, namely New Delhi, Varanasi and Bengaluru.

  • It will be launched to 4 more airports (total 7) namely Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune, and Vijayawada by March 2023.

About Digi Yatra

  • DigiYatra envisages that travellers pass through various checkpoints at the airport through paperless and contactless processing, using facial features to establish their identity, which would be linked to the boarding pass.
  • The entry of passengers would be automatically processed based on the Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) at all checkpoints – including entry into the airport, security check areas, aircraft boarding, etc.
  • The DigiYatra app will be available for passengers taking domestic flights only.

Current News National Indian Art, Culture & Heritage

Statue of Prosperity

Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a 108 feet tall bronze statue of Sri Nadaprabhu Kempegowda in Bengaluru on November 11, 2022.

  • Also Bharat Gaurav Kashi Darshan Train was flagged off at Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna (KSR) railway station in Bengaluru.
    • Chennai-Mysore Vande Bharat Express was also flagged off from KSR railway station by Prime Minister on the same day.

Nadaprabhu Kempegowda

  • Nadaprabhu Hiriye Kempe Gowda is also known as Kempe Gowda.
  • He was fourth in succession from Rana Bhairave Gowda, founder of the dynasty of the Avati Nadu and great grandson of Jaya Gowda, a separate Vijayanagara feudal vassal, Kempe Gowda is the most famous of the Yelahanka rulers.
    • Kempe Gowda assumed the chieftaincy of Yalahanka Nadu from his father in 1513 and would reign for 46 years and died in 1569.
    • He was a chieftain under the Vijayanagara Empire.
    • Kempe Gowda was one of the well-educated rulers of all time.
  • He is famous for founding the present-day southern Indian city of Bangalore.
    • Bengaluru, was fortified by Kempe Gowda in 1537.
  • He erected many Kannada inscriptions in the region.
  • Kempe Gowda was a patron of arts and learning.
    • In spite belonging to a purely Kannada speaking community,he was a polyglot and authored Gangagaurivilasa, a yakshagana play, in Telugu, the court-language of the time.

About the Statue

  • The ‘Statue of Prosperity’ is 108-feet tall bronze statue of Bengaluru founder Nadaprabhu Kempegowda. It is made with 98 tonnes of bronze and 120 tonnes of steel.
  • It has been built to commemorate the contribution of Kempegowda towards development of the city.
  • The statue was conceptualized and sculpted by Ram V Sutar, who also curated the Statue of Unity.
  • This statue is registered as a record in the World Book of Records, as No other airport in the world has such a tall statue of its founder.

Current News Ecology & Environment Conservation

Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022

The Rajya Sabha on December 08, 2022 passed the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022 which seeks to give effect to India's obligations under the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora ('CITES'), which requires countries to regulate trade of all listed specimens through permits.

  • The Bill, which will amend the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 to increase the species protected under the law, was passed by the Lok Sabha on August 02, 2022.

Objectives of Bill

  • Protection of Endangered Species: Bill seeks to enhance punishment for illegal Wildlife trade.
  • Better Management of Protected Areas: It provides for certain permitted activities like grazing or movement of livestock and Bonafide use of drinking and household water by local communities.
  • Protection of Forest Lands: It is so critical because it equally inculcates in itself the protection of rights of the people who have been residing there since ages.

Key Provisions of the Bill

  • Implement the Provisions of the CITES: CITES is an international agreement between governments to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species.
  • Provides much more power at the hands of the Central Government: The central government can designate a Management Authority, which grants export or import permits for the trade of specimens.
    • Central Government can regulate or prohibit the import, trade, possession or proliferation of invasive alien species.
    • The central government may also notify a conservation reserve.
  • Currently, there are six schedules: protected plants (one), specially protected animals (four), and vermin species (one). The new bill removes the schedule for vermin species (Vermin refers to small animals that carry diseases and destroy food e.g. Monkeys, Nilgai)
  • The Act entrusts the Chief Wildlife Warden to control, manage and maintain all sanctuaries in a state.
    • The Chief Wildlife Warden is appointed by the states.
  • People possessing live specimens of scheduled animals must obtain a registration certificate from the Management Authority.
  • The bill provides for any person to voluntarily surrender any captive animals, without any compensation and consequent authority over the animal.
  • The Bill allows for commercial trade in elephants.
  • States can declare areas adjacent to National parks and Sanctuaries as Conservation Reserve, for protecting flora and fauna, and their habitat.
  • Increases the Penalties: For General violation (increases to Rs 1,00,000 from Rs25,000) and for specially protected animals ( increases to 25,000 from Rs 10,000).

Issues with the proposed Bill

  • Some important issues regarding Human-Wildlife conflict, Eco-sensitive zone rule, etc., has not been addressed.
  • The bill severely curtailed the ability to graze across pastoral spaces in the conservation areas
  • According to the report provided by the Parliamentary Standing Committee, species listed in all three schedules of the Bill are incomplete.
  • Parliamentary Standing Committee objected to the blanket exemption, recommending to limit it only to temple elephants kept for religious purposes.

Related Constitutional Provisions

  • The 42nd Amendment Act, 1976, Forests and Protection of Wild Animals and Birds was transferred from State to Concurrent List.
  • Article 51 A (g) of the Constitution states that it shall be the fundamental duty of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including forests and Wildlife.

Current News Indian Economy Banking & Finance

Framework on Currency Swap revised for SAARC

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has signed a Currency Swap Agreement with the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) under the SAARC Currency Swap Framework.

  • This is to provide swap support as a backstop line of funding for short term foreign exchange liquidity requirements.
  • This agreement will enable the MMA to make drawals in multiple tranches up to a maximum of USD 200 million from the RBI.

Highlights of the SAARC Currency Swap Agreement

  • The SAARC currency swap facility came into operation on 15th November, 2012.
  • The RBI can offer a swap arrangement within the overall corpus of USD 2 billion.
    • The swap drawals can be made in US dollar, euro or Indian rupee.
    • The framework provides certain concessions for swap drawals in Indian rupee.
  • The facility will be available to all SAARC member countries, subject to their signing the bilateral swap agreements.
  • In 2020, the RBI signed a currency swap agreement for extending up to a USD 400 million to Sri Lanka.

What is Currency Swap?

  • Swap is short for exchange. A contract or agreement to exchange currencies between two nations under predetermined terms and conditions is known as a currency swap.
  • In the present context, the facility's role in the current situation is to offer swap support as a substitute source of funding for short-term foreign exchange liquidity needs.
  • Central banks (or Governments) engage in currency swaps with foreign counterparts to meet short-term foreign exchange liquidity requirements or to ensure adequate foreign currency to avoid the Balance of Payments (BOP) crisis till longer arrangements can be made.
    • These swap operations carry no exchange rate or other market risks as transaction terms are set in advance.
  • At the inception of the swap, the equivalent principal amounts are exchanged at the spot rate.
  • At the end of the swap, the principal amounts are swapped back at either the prevailing spot rate, or at a pre-agreed rate such as the rate of the original exchange of principals. Using the original rate would remove transaction risk on the swap.

SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation)

  • On December 8, 1985, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the SAARC Charter was formally signed, establishing SAARC.
  • Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka are members of the group.
  • Kathmandu is the Secretariat (Nepal)
  • The objectives and goals include, among other things, promoting South Asia's people's welfare, enhancing their quality of life, and accelerating economic growth.

Current News International Reports,Survey And Index

World Malaria Report 2022

World Malaria Report 2022 was released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 8, 2022.

About Malaria

  • Malaria is a life-threatening mosquito borne blood disease caused by plasmodium parasites.
  • The parasites spread through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
  • Symptoms of malaria include fever and flu-like illness, including shaking chills, headache, muscle aches, and tiredness.

Key Highlights of the Report

  • Cases and Deaths due to Malaria: There were an estimated 241 million malaria cases and 627 000 malaria deaths worldwide in 2020. This represents about 14 million more cases in 2020 compared to 2019, and 69 000 more deaths.

  • Larger Contribution from Countries: Six countries — Nigeria (27 per cent); the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12 per cent); Uganda (5%); Mozambique (4%); Angola (3.4%) and Burkina Faso (3.4%) — accounted for about 55 per cent of all cases globally.
    • In 2021, the number of countries that reported fewer than 10 indigenous cases increased from 23 in 2020 to 25 in 2021.
  • Causes: Approximately two-thirds of these additional deaths (47 000) were linked to disruptions in the provision of malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment during the pandemic.
  • India and Neighbour Countries: India accounted for 83 per cent of cases in the WHO South-East Asia Region. Sri Lanka was certified malaria-free in 2016 and remains malaria-free.
    • China and El Salvador were certified by WHO as malaria-free in 2021, and the Islamic Republic of Iran attained 3 consecutive years of zero indigenous cases in 2020.
  • Prevention Measures: Insecticide-treated bednets (ITNs) are the key vector control tool used by endemic countries. Prevalence of Intermittent Preventive Treatment in Pregnancy (IPTP) has remained consistent in 2021 as compared to 2020.

Government’s Initiatives for eliminating Malaria

  • The National Strategic Plan for Malaria Elimination (2017-22) was launched in July 2017 which laid down strategies for the following five years.
  • NFME is in line with WHO’s 2016-2030 Malaria Strategy, which guides the WHO Global Malaria Programme (GMP).
  • Malaria elimination efforts were initiated in 2015 and were intensified after the launch of the National Framework for Malaria Elimination (NFME) in 2016 by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Current News Indian Economy Agriculture & Allied Sector

Five Agricultural Products of Kerala granted GI Tag

Recently in December, 2022 five agricultural products of Kerala- Attappady Attukombu Avara, Attappady Thuvara, Onattukara Ellu, Kanthalloor-Vattavada Veluthulli, and Kodungalloor Pottuvellari have been granted Geographical Indication (GI) status.

  • With the latest five GIs, 17 agricultural products of Kerala facilitated by the Kerala Agricultural University have received the GI status.
  • This achievement is the result of the team work of Kerala Agricultural University, Department of Agriculture, and farmer groups of the respective areas.
  • The unique features of the products, imparted by the agro-climatic conditions of the geographical area of their production, are the basis for getting geographical indication tag.

Other GIs Tags awarded

Adding to the present collection of Geographical Indications (GIs), nine new items, including -

  1. Gamocha of Assam
  2. Tandur red gram of Telangana
  3. Raktsey Karpo apricot of Ladakh, and
  4. Alibag white onion of Maharashtra

Highlights of the Agriculture Products

Attappady Attukombu Avara


  • It is curved like a goat’s horn as its name indicates.
  • Its higher anthocyanin content compared to other dolichos beans imparts violet colour in the stem and fruits.
  • Anthocyanin is helpful against cardiovascular diseases along with its anti-diabetic properties.
  • The higher phenolic content of Attappady Attukombu Avara imparts resistance against pest and diseases, making the crop suitable for organic cultivation.

Attappady Thuvara

(Red Gram)

  • It is having seeds with white coat.
  • Compared to other red grams, Attappady Thuvara seeds are bigger and have higher seed weight.

Onattukara Ellu


  • Onattukara Ellu and its oil are famous for its unique health benefits.
  • Relatively higher antioxidant content in Onattukara Ellu helps in fighting the free radicals, which destroy the body cells.
  • Also, the high content of unsaturated fat makes it beneficial for heart patients.

Kanthalloor-Vattavada Veluthulli


  • Compared to the garlic produced in other areas, this garlic contains higher amount of sulphides, flavonoids, proteins and also rich in essential oil.
  • It is rich in allicin, which is effective against microbial infections, blood sugar, cancer, etc.

Kodungalloor Pottuvellari


  • This snap melon, which is harvested in summer, contains high amount of Vitamin C.
  • Compared to other cucurbits, nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, fibre and fat content are also high in Kodungalloor Pottuvellari.

About GI Tag

  • Recognised by the World Trade Organization (WTO), GI is used to denote the geographical territory from where a product, be it agricultural produce, natural product, or manufactured.
  • It conveys the assurance of quality, distinctiveness, and attributes that are unique to that specific geographic region/place of origin.
  • India became a signatory to this convention, when, as a member of WTO, it enacted the Geographical Indications (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, which came into effect on September 15, 2003.
  • To protect the GI of goods, a GI registry has been established to administer the GI of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, under the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks.