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11th November Current Affairs


  1. Saffron in Sikkim
  2. Concentration of Earthquake in Dharchula region
  3. Echinops in Sahyadri mountains
  4. Biological plant-virus ‘arms race’ uncovered
  5. Facelift to 11th century Lingaraj Temple in Odisha


Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology

Why in news?

  • The Ministry of Science and Technology, through the Department of Science and Technology (DST), is now looking at extending its cultivation to some states in the Northeast.
  • A pilot project of saffron cultivation has yielded successful results in Yangyang village of Sikkim, which produced its first crop of saffron recently.


  • Saffron cultivation has long been restricted to a limited geographical area in J&K, mainly Pampore, followed by Budgam, Srinagar and Kishtwar districts.
  • India cultivates about 6 to 7 tonnes of saffron annually, but in order to meet the 100 tonnes demand, saffron is imported.
  • A kilo of saffron grown here costs anywhere between Rs 1.5 to Rs 2 lakh.

More about Saffron

  • Saffron is a plant whose dried stigmas (thread-like parts of the flower) are used to make saffron spice.
  • Saffron cultivation is believed to have been introduced in Kashmir by Central Asian immigrants around the 1st Century BCE.
  • It has been associated with traditional Kashmiri cuisine and represents the rich cultural heritage of the region.
  • In India, saffron Corms (seeds) are cultivated during the months of June and July and at some places in August and September.
  • Saffron grows well at an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level. It needs a photoperiod (sunlight) of 12 hours.
  • It grows in many different soil types but thrives best in calcareous (soil that has calcium carbonate in abundance), humus-rich and well-drained soil with a pH between 6 and 8.
  • For saffron cultivation, we need an explicit climatological summer and winter with temperatures ranging from no more than 35 or 40 degree Celsius in summer to about –15 or –20 degree Celsius in winter.
  • Pampore region, commonly known as Saffron bowl of Kashmir, is the main contributor to saffron production.
  • Saffron needs to remain underground for about 45 days at sub-zero temperatures.
  • Recently, the Kashmir saffron got Geographical Indication (GI) tag status.

-Source: Indian Express


Focus: GS-III Disaster Management

Why in news?

Scientists have unearthed large concentrations of micro and moderate magnitude earthquakes in the Dharchula region and adjoining areas of Kumaon Himalaya due to stress in the region and explored the geological structure behind it.


  • Scientists say these large concentrations of earthquakes are “release of stress’’ building up in the region and that in the near future, there is likelihood of an earthquake of high magnitude in the region.
  • Scientists from the institute have established a seismological network of 15 broadband seismological stations along the Kali River valley to investigate the subsurface configuration and causes of frequently felt earthquakes in the Kumaon Himalaya region with support from the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
  • The Dharchula region falls between two knee-like structures, which traps the stress in this region.
  • This is the reason why there have been crowded earthquakes here within a span of years, numerous smaller earthquakes have occurred here and the stress keeps building up.
  • For the stress to be finally released, there is a strong possibility that a high magnitude earthquake of 8 on the richter scale may occur, unlike in other areas where earthquakes are scattered.

CSG Region

  • Apart from the Kangra earthquake in 1905 and Bihar-Nepal earthquake in 1934, this region has not experienced an earthquake of magnitude greater than 8.0 in the last 500 years, and hence the region is known as the Central Seismic Gap (CSG) region.
  • A gap is a term used to denote an area with little tectonic activity.
  • This, despite the Himalayas being one of the most tectonically active regions in the country.
  • However, the Kumaon Central Himalayan, which belongs to this CSG region, is one of the most seismically active regions of the Himalayan belt that experienced a considerable number of moderate and strong earthquakes in the recent past.

Click Here to read more about Earthquakes in India

-Source: Indian Express


Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology

Why in news?

  • A new species of Echinops Sahyadricus (English Common Name — Sahyadri Globe Thistle) from the Rajgad Fort in the Sahyadri mountains.
  • The new species is unique because of the size of its composite inflorescence which measures up to 9 cm in diameter that is relatively large compared to other Echinops species found around the world.
  • As per the research paper, the new species is close to other Indian species called Echinops echinatus AKA Indian Globe thistle and one European species called Echinops sphaerocephalus.


  • Echinops is a genus of about 120 species of flowering plants in the daisy family Asteraceae, commonly known as globe thistles.
  • These flowering plants are found in tropical and north Africa, the Mediterranean basin and West Asia, extending eastwards to China and Japan.
  • Five species are found in India including two in Maharashtra.

Western Ghats

  • The Western Ghats, also known as Sahyadri are a mountain range that covers an area of 140,000 square kilometres parallel to the western coast of the Indian peninsula.
  • It traverses the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the eight “hottest hot-spots” of biological diversity in the world.
  • According to UNESCO, the Western Ghats are older than the Himalayas.

Prelims Fact Bits on Western Ghats

  • Western Ghats are continuous range of mountains (Gaps exist, but not like the Eastern Ghats)
  • Major gaps in the range are the Goa Gap, between the Maharashtra and Karnataka sections, and the Palghat Gap on the Tamil Nadu and Kerala border between the Nilgiri Hills and the Anaimalai Hills.
  • The Western Ghats meet the Eastern Ghats at the Nilgiri mountains in north-western Tamil Nadu.
  • Evergreen Forests are found here.
  • Anaimudi is the highest peak.
  • Western Ghats are older than Himalayas.
  • Nilgiri Biosphere is the most famous Biosphere reserve in WG.
  • Local Names for western ghats are: Sahyadri in Maharashtra, Nilgiri hills in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Anaimalai hills and Cardamom hills in Kerala.

Importance of Western Ghats

  • A total of thirty-nine areas in the Western Ghats, including national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests, were designated as world heritage sites in 2012 – twenty in Kerala, ten in Karnataka, five in Tamil Nadu and four in Maharashtra.
  • They influence Indian monsoon weather patterns by intercepting the rain-laden monsoon winds that sweep in from the south-west during late summer.
  • The dense forests also contribute to the precipitation of the area by acting as a substrate for condensation of moist rising orographic winds from the sea.
  • The northern portion of the narrow coastal plain between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea is known as the Konkan, the central portion is called Kanara and the southern portion is called Malabar.
  • The Western Ghats form one of the four watersheds of India, feeding the perennial rivers of India.
  • The major river systems originating in the Western Ghats are the Godavari, Kaveri, Krishna, Thamiraparani and Tungabhadra rivers.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Why in news?

  • A new study has discovered a new step in the race between Plants and viruses to outdo one another between the virus called Synedrella Yellow Vein Clearing Virus and the plants it attacks.
  • The virus was isolated by the researchers from a plant named Synedrella nodiflora, and it was able to infect tobacco and tomato plant in their studies.


  • Begomovirus is a genus of viruses with more than 400 species, in the family Geminiviridae, which are plant viruses that as a group have a very wide host range, infecting dicotyledonous plants.
  • Worldwide they are responsible for a considerable amount of economic damage to many important crops such as tomatoes, beans, squash, cassava and cotton.

Understanding the race between Plants and Viruses

  • The virus first attacks the plant, and the plant has defences that are actually counter-attacks – mechanisms that seek to destroy the virus.
  • In turn, the virus develops a counter-counter-attack by trying to escape being destroyed by the plant’s mechanisms.
  • In the case of the Synedrella Yellow Vein Clearing Virus, it happens this way: When the virus attacks the plant, it produces vein-clearing symptoms which make the plant look beautiful.
  • The fact, however, is that this does not make it better for the plant. It actually makes it difficult for the plant to produce flowers and fruits.

In turn, the plant develops defence mechanisms to destroy the virus.


  • Plants degrade BetaC1 protein of virus by tagging this protein with another smaller protein called ubiquitin.
  • In their study, the researchers found that, in response, the virus uses the plant’s machinery to create a small modification of the BetaC1 protein.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-I Art and Culture

Why in news?

  • Odisha government announced to give a facelift to the 11th century Lingaraj Temple, akin to its pre-350-year structural status.
  • A high-level committee has approved the redevelopment plan of peripheral area of the 55-metre-tall temple, known as ‘Ekamravan Kshetra’, in Bhubaneswar.

Lingaraja Temple

  • Lingaraja Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva and is one of the oldest temples in Bhubaneswar, the capital of the Indian state of Odisha.
  • The temple is the most prominent landmark of Bhubaneswar city and one of the major tourist attractions of the state.
  • The Lingaraja temple is the largest temple in Bhubaneswar.
  • The temple represents the quintessence of the Kalinga architecture and culminating the medieval stages of the architectural tradition at Bhubaneswar.
  • The temple is believed to be built by the kings from the Somavamsi dynasty, with later additions from the Ganga rulers.
  • The temple is built in the Deula style that has four components namely, vimana (structure containing the sanctum), jagamohana (assembly hall), natamandira (festival hall) and bhoga-mandapa (hall of offerings), each increasing in the height to its predecessor.
  • Bhubaneswar is called the Ekamra Kshetra as the deity of Lingaraja was originally under a mango tree (Ekamra) as noted in Ekamra Purana, a 13th-century Sanskrit treatise.
  • The temple is active in worship practises, unlike most other temples in Bhubaneswar and Shiva is worshipped as Harihara, a combined form of Vishnu and Shiva.
  • Lingaraja temple is maintained by the Temple Trust Board and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

-Source: The Hindu

March 2024