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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 29 October 2020

Contents 

  1. ISRO to launch Earth Observation Satellite EOS-01 
  2. India, Central Asian countries call for destruction of terror safe havens 
  3. Parliamentary panel asks Twitter for affidavit on geo-tagging glitch 
  4. U.K. to partner for developing GIFT City, funding infra pipeline

ISRO to launch Earth Observation Satellite EOS-01 

Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Why in news?

India would launch its latest earth observation satellite EOS-01 and nine international customer spacecraft onboard its PSLV-C49 rocket from spaceport of Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on November of 2020.

Details

  • This is the first launch by India Space Research Organization since the COVID 19 induced lockdown.
  • ISRO said that 10 space missions that were being prepared for launch in 2020 have been disturbed due to the lockdown.
  • EOS-01 is intended for applications in agriculture forestry and disaster management support.
  • The customer satellites are being launched under commercial agreement with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), Department of Space.

Earth Observation Satellites

  • An Earth Observation Satellite or Earth Remote Sensing Satellite is a satellite used or designed for Earth Observance (EO) from orbit, including spy satellites and similar ones intended for non-military uses such as environmental monitoring, meteorology, cartography and others. 
  • The most common type are Earth imaging satellites, that take satellite images, analogous to aerial photographs; some EOS satellites may perform remote sensing without forming pictures, such as in GNSS radio occultation.
  • The first occurrence of satellite remote sensing can be dated to the launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, by the Soviet Union in 1957.

ISRO and EOS

  • Starting with IRS-1A in 1988, ISRO has launched many operational remote sensing satellites. 
  • Currently 13 operational satellites are in Sun-synchronous orbit – RESOURCESAT-1, 2, 2A CARTOSAT-1, 2, 2A, 2B, RISAT-1 and 2, OCEANSAT-2, Megha-Tropiques, SARAL and SCATSAT-1, and *four* in Geostationary orbit- INSAT-3D, Kalpana & INSAT 3A, INSAT -3DR. 
  • The data from these satellites are used for several applications covering agriculture, water resources, urban planning, rural development, mineral prospecting, environment, forestry, ocean resources and disaster management.

New Space India Limited

  • The establishment of NSIL was announced in Budget 2019.
  • One of the mandates of NSIL is to mass-produce and manufacture the SSLV and the more powerful PSLV in partnership with the private sector in India through technology transfers.
  • Its aim is to use research and development carried out by ISRO over the years for commercial purposes through Indian industry partners.
  • It differs from ISRO’s existing commercial arm Antrix Corporation:
  • Antrix will handle ISRO’s commercial deals for satellites and launch vehicles with foreign customers.
  • NSIL will deal with capacity building of local industry for space manufacturing.

-Source: The Hindu


India, Central Asian countries on terror safe havens 

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

  • The Central Asian republics joined India in demanding destruction of “safe havens” of terrorism. 
  • The second meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue jointly expressed support for the peace negotiations in Afghanistan which is expected to usher in a new age for the war-torn country.

Details

  • Among the key takeaways from the meeting was the announcement of an additional $1 billion Line of Credit by India for the Central Asian countries. It is expected that the money will be spent for major infrastructural and connectivity projects.
  • The Joint Statement highlighted the appreciation from the Foreign Ministers of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and the First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic for India’s “efforts to modernise the infrastructure of the Chabahar port in Iran, which could become an important link in trade and transport communications between the markets of Central and South Asia”.
  • The meeting also led to the announcement of grant financing by India for high impact community development projects in the countries. 
  • It also led to the establishment of working groups by India Central Asia Business Council comprising the key Chambers of all participating countries.

Recently in news: NITI Aayog criticises Global Terrorism Index

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  • A report compiled by Niti Aayog has questioned the methodology adopted by an Australian based institute – Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP)- to rank India as the seventh worst terrorism affected country.
  • This IEP’s report has put India ahead of conflict-ridden countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Palestine and Lebanon.
  • India has moved to the seventh position from the previous year’s eighth in the annual Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2019.
  • The countries ahead of India (meaning, affected more than India by terrorism) are Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Syria, Pakistan and Somalia.
  • The Cabinet Secretariat asked Niti Aayog to track 32 such global indices to see how they could help drive reforms and growth.

Issues with the report and the Institute that generated it

  • The Methodology used was questioned because it shows India to be affected more by terrorism than countries that are in a crisis being ridden with terrorism like Sudan.
  • The report also questions the opaque funding of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).
  • It is also surprising that an organization is able to annually collect, meaningfully analyse and disseminate data about 163 countries in the Global Terrorism and Peace Indices and provide country wise national peace reports with just 24 staff members and 6 volunteers.
  • While the GTD claims to analyse more than two million open source media reports published each day, it lacks any mechanism to engage with Governments or to further classify and verify such open source media reports through Government databases in any of the 163 countries it covers.
  • The large diversity in definitions of terrorism amongst countries, and the lack of a universally accepted definition of terrorism, including in the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism pending in the UN General Assembly since 2014, leads to a great deal of ambiguity in calculating and understanding GTI reports.
  • IEP’s economic impact of terrorism model does not account for costs for countering violent extremism and long-term economic impacts on business activity, production and investment.

Significance and Impact of this report

  • The GTI report issued by the IEP is based primarily on the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) collated by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland, besides other sources.
  • GTI scores are directly used in the Global Peace Index, the Global Slavery Report published by the Walk Free Foundation, and indirectly used in computing country scores in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness and Global Competitiveness Indices and compilation of Safe Cities Index by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
  • An official said the positioning in the global indices impacted investments and other opportunities.

Conclusion of the report against IEP’s Index

The absence of a robust data collection and analysis methodology, and any engagement with Governments facing the scourge of terrorism, means that the Global Terrorism Index has low direct value for policymakers and cannot be used as an aid to understand and alleviate challenges to countries from domestic and cross border terrorism.

-Source: The Hindu


Parliamentary panel asks Twitter for affidavit on geo-tagging glitch 

Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Why in news?

The Joint Committee of Parliament on the Data Protection Bill Sought an affidavit from Twitter inc, the US based parent company of the social media platform asking them as to why it showed Ladakh as a part of China.

Geotagging

  • Geotagging is the process of adding geographical identification metadata to various media such as a geotagged photograph or video, websites, SMS messages , QR Codes or RSS feeds and is a form of geospatial metadata.
  • This data usually consists of latitude and longitude coordinates, though they can also include altitude, bearing, distance, accuracy data and place names and perhaps even a time stamp.
  • Geotagging can help users find a wide variety of location-specific information from a device. For instance, someone can find images taken near a given location by entering latitude and longitude coordinates into a suitable image search engine.
  • Geotagging-enabled information services can also potentially be used to find location-based news, websites, or other resources.
  • Geotagging can tell users the location of the content of a given picture or other media or the point of view, and conversely on some media platforms show media relevant to a given location.
  • The related term geocoding refers to the process of taking non-coordinate-based geographical identifiers, such as a street address, and finding associated geographic coordinates (or vice versa for reverse geocoding). Such techniques can be used together with geotagging to provide alternative search techniques.

Dangers of Geotagging 

  • Following a scientific study and several demonstrative websites, a discussion on the privacy implications of geotagging has raised public attention.
  • In particular, the automatic embedding of geotags in pictures taken with smartphones is often ignored by cell-phone users. As a result, people are often not aware that the photos they publish on the Internet have been geotagged.
  • Publishing photos and other media tagged with exact geolocation on the Internet allows random people to track an individual’s location and correlate it with other information. 
  • Therefore, criminals could find out when homes are empty because their inhabitants posted geotagged and timestamped information both about their home address and their vacation residence. 
  • Another newly realised danger of geotagging is the location information provided to criminal gangs and poachers on the whereabouts of often endangered animals. This can effectively make tourists scouts for these poachers, so geotagging should be turned off when photographing these animals.

-Source: The Hindu


U.K. to partner for developing GIFT City, funding infra pipeline

Focus: GSII International Relations

Why in news?

  • The United Kingdom has entered into a strategic partnership to develop India’s fledgling international financial services centre GIFT city, and agreed to set up a new Fund of Funds to be managed by state bank of India group in order to route U.K.’s future capital investments into India.
  • India and U.K. also signed off on a new infrastructure finance and policy partnership to help India execute its National Infrastructure Pipeline that envisages investments worth $ 1.4 trillion, at the tenth Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD) between the two countries steered by U.K. Chancellor and Indian Finance minister.

Details

  • India is now the second-largest project investment source for the U.K.
  • Under the infrastructure partnership, the UK will support India’s infrastructure pipeline by sharing experience, knowledge exchange and technical assistance to support India’s National Infrastructure Pipeline, including setting up a Project Preparation Support Facility-cum-Centre of Excellence for PPP Projects.
  • To mobilise private capital for green investment, a new U.K.-India Sustainable Finance Forum is also being established.
  • Welcoming India’s move to allow 100% tax exemptions for sovereign wealth funds investing in infrastructure, the U.K. Chancellor termed it a positive for their government’s development capital investments in India and the CDC Group.

India and the U.K. in the COVID-19 battle

To help combat the pandemic, U.K. and India announced a joint investment of £8 million for research to understand and address the factors leading to the severity of the coronavirus in South Asian populations in U.K. and in India.

Separately, the U.K. Department of Health and Social Care will contribute to India’s coronavirus Joint Response Plan (JRP) and antimicrobial resistance via the World Health Organization with an initial amount of £600,000, as per the joint statement. 

What is GIFT City?

GIFT (Gujarat International Finance Tec-City), located in Gandhinagar is India’s first International Financial Services Centre.

International Financial Service Centre (IFSC)

  • An IFSC caters to customers outside the jurisdiction of the domestic economy. Such centres deal with flows of finance, financial products and services across borders.
  • An expert panel headed by former World Bank economist Percy Mistry submitted a report on making Mumbai an international financial centre in 2007. However, the global financial crisis in 2008 made countries including India cautious about rapidly opening up their financial sectors.
  • In India, IFSC has been defined in Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Act, 2005.
  • Since India has many restrictions on the financial sector, such as partial capital account convertibility, high SLR (statutory liquidity ratio) requirements and foreign investment restrictions, an SEZ can serve as a testing ground for financial sector reforms before they are rolled out in the entire nation.
  • As per the SEZ Act the Central Government may approve the setting up of an International Financial Service Centre in a Special Economic Zone and may prescribe the requirements for setting up and operation of such centre. The Central Government shall approve only one International Financial Services Centre in a Special Economic Zone.

Special Economic Zone (SEZ)

  • A special economic zone (SEZ) is an area in which the business and trade laws are different from the rest of the country.
  • SEZs are located within a country’s national borders, and their aims include increased trade balance, employment, increased investment, job creation and effective administration.
  • To encourage businesses to set up in the zone, financial policies are introduced.
  • These policies typically encompass investing, taxation, trading, quotas, customs and labour regulations.
  • Additionally, companies may be offered tax holidays, where upon establishing themselves in a zone, they are granted a period of lower taxation.

-Source: The Hindu

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