Current Affairs December 9, 2021

Taxation of tobacco

  • In India, 28.6% of adults above 15 years and 8.5% of students aged 13-15 years use tobacco in some form or the other.
  • This makes the country the second largest consumer of tobacco in the world.
  • Tobacco use is known to be a major risk factor for several non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and chronic lung diseases.
  • India also bears an annual economic burden of over ₹1,77,340 crore on account of tobacco use.
  • Yet, there has been no major increase in taxation of tobacco products to discourage the consumption of tobacco.
  • The absence of an increase in tax means more profits for the tobacco industry and more tax revenue foregone for the government revenue that could have easily been utilized during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • This might jeopardise India’s commitment to achieving 30% tobacco use prevalence reduction by 2025 as envisaged in the National Health Policy of 2017 by the Government of India.


International relation complexities

  • Unless the bilateral ties can move beyond arms sale/purchase, the phase of stasis will kick in sooner rather than later in India-Russia relations.
  • Consider for instance, the India-Russia bilateral trade is around U.S.$10 billion, far lower than India’s trade with China and the United States, China’s trade with the U.S. and Russia, and even the U.S.’s trade with Russia.
  • The Soviet-era cultural and people-to-people contacts have almost entirely evaporated. Arms sales alone won’t a relationship make.
  • The quadrilateral dynamics among India, China, the U.S. and Russia have different implications of varying degrees for all four states in this relationship, in particular for India.
  • In this six-way matrix, China U.S. antagonism is the first order relationship and the U.S.-Russia, China-Russia and Russia-India are the second order relationships
  • Even though China remains its primary antagonism, Washington has not yet succeeded in divorcing its less challenging second order antagonism (rivalry with Moscow) from it.
  • Washington’s parallel rivalries with China and Russia (albeit to a lesser extent) have complicated matters for New Delhi.
  • The extent of Chinese aggression towards India will play a role in determining India’s relationship with Russia. Consider this.
  • An aggressive China will push India towards the U.S., and even though Russia would be understanding towards India’s rationale behind such a pro-U.S. tilt in the medium term, India’s relationship with the U.S. will invariably create hurdles in India-Russia relations in the longer term.
  • Put differently, the more aggressive Beijing gets towards New Delhi, the more India would grow closer to Washington and Moscow.
  • However, while Moscow would appreciate a close partnership with New Delhi, it may not be when it comes to a growing India-U.S. partnership.
  • More so, if Moscow has to choose between Beijing and New Delhi, it would choose Beijing.
  • The U.S. withdrawal from Kabul and India’s relationship with Moscow have helped New Delhi to adopt more flexible strategies vis-à-vis Afghanistan as well as the broader region.
  • Given the close relationship that New Delhi enjoyed with Washington, American presence in Kabul had, in a way, limited India’s options as New Delhi was broadly encouraged to follow U.S. policy in the region.
  • With the Americans gone, India can openly cooperate with Moscow and even Tehran, especially if the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) renegotiations succeed, and engage Afghanistan and the Central Asian region with their help.
  • Another area of cooperation between Moscow and New Delhi is the Indian Ocean Region, especially the western Indian Ocean where Russia has been expanding its influence and India has significant interests.



  • South Africa has established an efficient rapid mortality surveillance system which would alert us with the earliest evidence of such impact, if any.
  • Mortality data are essential for pandemic management from both clinical and public health perspectives to guide patient care, protection of vulnerable population groups, and resource mobilization and allocation.
  • In all countries, data from COVID-19 mortality surveillance systems are limited on account of inadequate access to ante-mortem testing and inconsistent cause attribution.
  • For India, excess mortality estimates are based on epidemiological models, some of which include analyses of month-wise death registration data released by several States. However, these estimation exercises.

About CRS

  • The Registration of Births and Death Act (RBD Act) was enacted in 1969 to promote uniformity and comparability in the registration of Births and Deaths across the country and compilation of vital statistics based thereon. With the enactment of the Act, registration of births, deaths and still births has become mandatory in India.
  • The Registrar General, India (RGI) at the Central Government level coordinates and unifies the activities of registration throughout the country.
  • However, implementation of the statute is vested with the State Governments.
  • The registration of births and deaths in the country is done by the functionaries appointed by the State Governments. Directorate of Census Operations are the sub-ordinate offices of Office of the Registrar General, India and these offices are responsible of monitoring of working of the Act in their concerned State/UT.
  • The Act mandates the use of uniform birth and death reporting forms and certificates throughout the country.
  • First, the Civil Registration System (CRS) Report for 2019 indicates high levels of registration completeness across India.
  • These data have now been corrected for under-reporting to compute reliable pre-pandemic mortality estimates by sex, age and location, as a baseline for evaluating pandemic impact.
  • Local statistical capacity must also be established at State registration offices for data quality evaluation, adjustments for data bias, and basic trend and forecast analysis.


Zycov-D vaccine

This COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Ahmedabad based Zydus Cadilla group and is named as Zycov –D vaccine.

This is the second vaccine made by India and this vaccine is also being said to be very effective against covid-19.

This is also only DNA-based vaccine in the world.

The vaccine is given through a needle free applicator, which is called Pharma Jet. It ensure painless intradermal vaccine delivery.

The vaccine has been developed in partnership with the Department of Biotechnology under the ‘Mission COVID Suraksha’.

The 3-dose vaccine once administered produces the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The plug-and-play technology on which the plasmid DNA platform is based can be easily adapted to deal with mutations in the virus, such as those already occurring.

Covishield, Covaxin, Sputnik V, Moderna and now Zycov D is the fifth vaccine to be approved for use in India.

COVID-19 vaccine Zycov-D demonstrated 66.6 percent efficacy against symptomatic RT-PCR positive cases in the interim analysis.