Polity & Governance
- Law Ministry notifies new category of absentee voters for postal ballot
- The difference between parole and furlough
Issues related to Health & Education
- 2 out of 3 wild poliovirus strains have been eradicated, says WHO
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Data shows almost five times as many wildfires over last year
Bilateral & International Relations
- ICAO acknowledges India’s concern against Pak denying airspace for PM’s plane
- The rules for global post, and how Pakistan stopped mail to and from India
- BASIC Countries Urge Developed Nations to Adhere to Paris Agreement
Defence & Security Issues
- What is INS Baaz? and why is it important?
- Indo-French joint military drill under ‘Exercise Shakti-2019’ in Rajasthan
Key Facts for Prelims
- What is Uluru, Australia’s famous desert rock, and why can’t you climb it anymore?
For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here
Polity & Governance
Law Ministry notifies new category of absentee voters for postal ballot
The Union government has introduced a new category of ‘absentee voters’, who can now also opt for postal voting.
- Recently, the Law Ministry amended the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, to extend the facility of postal ballots to people who are unable to cast their vote because of service conditions.
New amendments in Conduct of Election Rules, 1961
Absentee voter means a person
- who is employed in essential services such as railways, state transports and aviation etc.
- who belong to the class of senior citizen (above 80 years of age)
- Persons with disability
People under the Absentee voter category can choose to vote early through postal ballot by filling up Form 12D and submitting it to the nodal officer within five days of notification of an election.
The EC will notify which jobs and professions are covered under “essential services” after consulting the government.
These votes will be registered at a special centre specified by the Election Commission (EC).
However, the Absentee voters have both the choices available:
- Either voting through postal ballot by following due procedure or
- Going to the polling station on polling day.
The difference between parole and furlough
The founder of the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), Ajay Chautala, and father of Haryana’s new deputy chief minister, was granted furlough for two weeks. Ajay Chautala and his father have been in prison since 2013 after being convicted of corruption, criminal conspiracy, and forgery in the JBT teachers’ recruitment scam.
- The provision of Parole and furlough were introduced with a view to humanising the prison system.
- Parole is a system of releasing a prisoner with suspension of the sentence. The release is conditional, usually subject to behaviour, and requires periodic reporting to the authorities for a set period of time.
- In India, parole (as well as furlough) are covered under The Prisons Act of 1894.
- Since prisons is a State subject in the Constitution, the Prisons Act of each state government defines the rules under which parole is granted in that state. State governments have their own Parole Rules.
Ineligible for parole
How does the parole system work?
- Parole is granted by the state executive and competent authority takes a final decision on grant of parole on humanitarian considerations.
- If parole is rejected, the convict can move the High Court challenging the order of the competent authority.
- Also, apart from regular parole, the superintendent of a jail can also grant parole up to a period of seven days in emergent cases.
What is difference between parole and furlough?
- Parole may be denied to a convict while furlough is seen as a matter of right, to be granted periodically irrespective of any reason and to enable the prisoner to retain family and social ties.
- Parole is not a matter of right and may be denied to a prisoner even when he makes out a sufficient case.
- Furlough is typically given in cases of long jail terms. The period of furlough granted to a prisoner is treated as remission of his sentence.
- Usually, furlough can be obtained thrice a year and is given to inmates with good behaviour.
- In the US and Britain, every sentence above 18 months is eligible for parole, after completion of one-third of prison time.
Issues related to Health & Education
2 out of 3 wild poliovirus strains have been eradicated, says WHO
In an announcement by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on World Polio Day (October 24), an independent commission of experts declared that wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3) has been eradicated worldwide. This follows the eradication of smallpox and wild poliovirus type 2.
- Wild poliovirus type 3 is globally eradicated. This provides motivation for eradication of wild poliovirus type 1. Wild poliovirus type 1 only remains in circulation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
About Polio Virus:
- Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a highly infectious viral disease which mainly affects young children under the age of 5. It is caused by the poliovirus.
- Poliovirus is usually spread from person to person. It mainly spreads through the faecal-oral route (e.g. contaminated water or food).
- Poliovirus only infects humans.
- After entering body, it multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.
Types of polio strains
- There are three individual wild poliovirus strains: wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1), wild poliovirus type 2 (WPV2) and wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3).
- The Symptoms of all three strains are identical as all three strain cause irreversible paralysis or even death. However, there are genetic differences, which make these three strains separate.
There are two types of vaccine that can prevent polio: inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) and oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV).
- Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), also called the Salk vaccine, consists of inactivated (killed) poliovirus strains of all three poliovirus types. IPV is given by injection and needs to be administered by a trained health worker.
- In 2016, India became the first country globally to introduce fractional doses of IPV in childhood immunisation programme in eight states and Union territories.
World Polio Day
- World Polio Day, observed on October 24, was established by Rotary International to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis.
About Global Polio Eradication Initiative
- The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is a public-private partnership led by national governments with five partners – the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
- Use of the inactivated poliovirus vaccine and subsequent widespread use of the oral poliovirus, developed by Albert Sabin, led to the establishment of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Data shows almost five times as many wildfires over last year
Data from the Sentinel-3 World Fire Atlas shows that there were almost five times as many wildfires in August 2019 compared to August 2018.
Findings of the Sentinel-3 World Fire Atlas Prototype
The Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission recorded 79,000 fires in August 2019, compared to just over 16,000 fires detected during the same period in 2018.
Wildfire by continent
- 49 % fires were detected in Asia
- 28 % fires were detected in South America,
- 16 % fires were detected in Africa,
- 7 % fires were detected in North America, Europe and Oceania.
- Established in 2014, Copernicus an Earth observation programme.
- It is an initiative of European Commission (EC) in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA).
- It will provide information to improve the management of the environment and to understand and mitigate the effects of climate change.
- Copernicus is the new name for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme, previously known as GMES.
- Under Copernicus, new satellites, called Sentinels, are bring developed to provide a unique set of observations. The services under Copernicus are related to land management, marine environment, atmosphere, emergency response, security and climate change.
- ESA is currently developing seven missions under the Sentinel programme. Each Sentinel mission is based on a constellation of two satellites. At present, three complete two-satellite constellations are in orbit plus an additional single satellite, Sentinel-5P.
About Sentinel-3 mission
- The objective of the Sentinel-3 mission (3rd mission of Copernicus programme) is to measure sea surface topography, sea and land surface temperature, improve ocean forecasting systems and climate monitoring.
- The Sentinel-3 World Fire Atlas Prototype measured thermal infrared radiation to take the temperature of Earth’s land surfaces. This information is used to detect and monitor the heat emitted by the fires.
Bilateral & International Relations
ICAO acknowledges India’s concern against Pak denying airspace for PM’s plane
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has acknowledged India’s concern pertaining to Pakistan restricting its airspace.
What is the issue?
- India lodged a complaint against Pakistan for its refusal to let the Indian Prime Minister’s plane go through its airspace to Saudi Arabia.
- However, ICAO said that flights carrying national leaders are considered State aircraft, and are therefore not subject to ICAO provisions. ICAO only applies to the operations of civilian aircraft and not to State or military aircraft.
About International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO):
- The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is a UN specialized agency of Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
- It was established in 1944 to manage the administration and governance of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention).
- It is headquartered at Montreal,
- It has total 196 member countries including India.
- It prepares international civil aviation Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) which is used by ICAO Member States to ensure that their local civil aviation operations and regulations conform to global norms.
- ICAO is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2019.
- Safety: Enhance global civil aviation safety focusing on regulatory oversight capabilities.
- Capacity and Efficiency: Improve the efficiency of the global civil aviation system by focusing on upgrading the air navigation and developing new procedures to optimize aviation system performance.
- Security and Facilitation: Enhance global civil aviation security and facilitation.
- Economic Development: Foster the development of economically-viable civil aviation system by harmonizing the air transport framework focused on economic policies and supporting activities.
- Environment Protection: Minimize the adverse environmental effects of civil aviation activities consistent with the UN system environmental protection policies and practices.
- Monitor and report on numerous air transport sector performance metrics.
- Audits States’ civil aviation oversight capabilities in the areas of safety and security.
- Resolving consensus-driven international SARPs and policies among its Member States and industry.
Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention)
- Convention on International Civil Aviation was came into force in 1947 which established the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
- This Convention supersedes the Convention relating to the Regulation of Aerial Navigation (or Paris Convention) and the Pan American Convention on Commercial Aviation (or Havana Convention).
- The Convention has been revised eight times with latest one made in 2006.
- Currently, it has 193 member countries.
- The Convention establishes rules of airspace, aircraft registration and safety, and details the rights of the signatories in relation to air travel. The Convention also exempts air fuels in transit from (double) taxation.
- Every year 7 December is celebrated as international civil aviation day by ICAO.
The rules for global post, and how Pakistan stopped mail to and from India
In a unilateral decision, Pakistan has stopped exchange of postal mails with India since August 27. Communications Minister of India has said Pakistan’s decision was taken without any prior notice and in direct contravention of international norms.
Who regulates postal exchange between one country and another?
- The United Nations’ Universal Postal Union (UPU), established by the Treaty of Bern of 1874, is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN).
- It frames rules for international mail exchange, and fixes rates for international postal services. It also oversees the Telematics and Express Mail Service (EMS) cooperatives.
- It is the second oldest international organization worldwide. (Oldest is International Telecommunication Union (ITU) founded in 1865).
- The UPU has 192 member-countries and is headquartered in Bern.
- UPU has four units: The Congress, the Council of Administration, the International Bureau, and the Postal Operations Council.
- India joined the UPU in 1876 and Pakistan in November 1947.
Can one UPU member-country unilaterally stop postal exchange with another?
- Under UPU rules, when a country decides to suspend exchange with a country, it must notify the operator of the other country and, if possible, the duration for which services are being stopped.
Did Pakistan followed the UPU protocol?
- India was not given prior notice when Pakistan suspended postal exchange. Pakistan only sent internal order to airline operators, which handed them to Indian representatives.
Process of India-Pakistan mail exchange
- Before Pakistan stopped exchange of postal mails with India, mailbags were being exchanged almost daily through air route.
- In India, all international posts are handled through the 28 Foreign Post Offices, with those in Delhi and Mumbai designated to handle mails for Pakistan.
Other than the UPU, three agreements cover postal exchange between India and Pakistan. These are:
- Exchange of Value Payable Article, 1948;
- Exchange of Postal Article, 1974; and
- International Speed Post Agreement, 1987.
- October 9th was first declared World Post Day at the 1969 UPU Congress in Tokyo, Japan to create awareness of the role of the postal sector in people’s and businesses’ everyday lives and its contribution to the social and economic development of countries.
About the Universal Postal Union (UPU)
- UPU, established by the Treaty of Bern of 1874, is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that coordinates postal policies among member nations, in addition to the worldwide postal system.
- The UPU contains four bodies consisting of the Congress, the Council of Administration (CA), the Postal Operations Council (POC) and the International Bureau (IB).
- It also oversees the Telematics and Express Mail Service (EMS) cooperatives.
- Each member agrees to the same terms for conducting international postal duties.
- The UPU’s headquarters are located in Bern, Switzerland.
- It has 192 member countries.
- It is primary forum for cooperation between postal sector players among member countries.
- UPU has four units: the Congress, the Council of Administration, the International Bureau, and the Postal Operations Council.
- It regulates 40 lakh postal outlets worldwide.
- It helps to ensure truly universal network of up-to-date products and services.
- It sets rules for international mail exchanges and makes recommendations for growth in mail, financial and parcel services volumes and also to improve quality of service for customers.
India joined the UPU on July 1, 1876 and Pakistan on November 10, 1947.[Ref: Indian Express]
BASIC Countries Urge Developed Nations to Adhere to Paris Agreement
At the 29th BASIC Ministerial Meet on Climate Change held at China, BASIC countries have urged the developed countries to take urgent action to close gaps and provide support to developing nations as a part of the commitment under the Paris agreement on climate change.
Highlights of the 29th BASIC Ministerial Meet on Climate Change:
- Underlined the importance of implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), its Kyoto Protocol and its Paris Agreement.
- Ministers expressed their appreciation to the Polish Presidency’s contribution to the conclusion of the bulk of the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP).
- They urged developed countries to fulfill their climate finance commitments of providing USD 100 billion annually by 2020 for developing countries in a transparent and grant-based manner.
Developing countries, including BASIC countries have been implementing climate action in the context of sustainable development, and have achieved great progress.
- In 2018, China has reduced carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP (by 45 %) and increased the share of non-fossil fuels
- South Africa has recently implemented carbon tax, and announced renewable energy program in its latest electricity plan.
- India has already achieved 21% reduction in emission intensity of GDP in 2014 compared to 2005 levels, thereby achieving its pre-2020 voluntary target.
About BASIC countries
- The BASIC is a grouping of four large newly industrialized countries – Brazil, South Africa, India and C
- The BASIC group was formed as the result of an agreement signed by the four countries in 2009. The four countries committed to act jointly at the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009, known as Copenhagen climate summit. This alliance then brokered the final Copenhagen Accordwith the United States.
- Subsequently, these nations work towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions, raising the massive funds that are needed to fight climate change and carry out negotiations within the UNFCCC.
- However, in January 2010, the grouping described the Accord as merely a political agreement and not legally binding.
Significance of BASIC countries
- China, India, and Brazil are the world’s second, fifth, and ninth-largest economies.
- BASIC countries put together has one-third of world’s geographical areaand nearly 40% of the world’s population.
- BASIC is one of several groups of nations working together to fight climate change and carry out negotiations within the UNFCCC.
Defence & Security Issues
What is INS Baaz? and why is it important?
Recently, Navy Chief visited INS Baaz, the southernmost air station of the Indian Armed Forces and spent a day with personnel stationed there.
About INS Baaz
- INS Baaz is an Indian Naval Air Station commissioned in 2012.
- It is located at Campbell Bay on the Great Nicobar island (the southernmost and largest island of the Nicobar islands) in the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- It is a part of the Andaman and Nicobar Command, the only tri-services formation of the Indian Armed Forces that was started in 2001.
- One of the primary functions of INS Baaz is to provide information, based on ‘airborne’ maritime surveillance using aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
- INS Baaz overlooks the Strait of Malacca as well as 6-degree channel. 6-degree channel, also called Great Channel, is one of the Indian Ocean’s busiest shipping lines carrying strategic cargo to East Asian countries.
- The primary functions of the INS Baaz include helping build Maritime Domain Awareness by providing information via airborne surveillance using aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
- Great Nicobar island is also the location of the Indira Point and is less than 250 km by sea from Banda Aceh in Indonesia.
- Also, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands are strategically important for India’s national security as they provide a critical capability to monitor sea areas in the region.
- These islands offer a vital geo-strategic advantage to India. Not only do they provide with a commanding presence in the Bay of Bengal, the Islands also serve as India’s window into East and South East Asia.
Indo-French joint military drill under ‘Exercise Shakti-2019’ in Rajasthan
Indian and French armies will conduct joint counter-terrorism drills under ‘Exercise Shakti-2019’ in the Mahajan field firing range in Rajasthan from October 31 to November 13.
About ‘Exercise Shakti-2019’
The ‘Exercise Shakti-2019’ will focus on counter-terrorism operations in the backdrop of semi-desert terrain under the United Nations mandate.
About ‘Exercise Shakti
- Started in 2011, it is a biennial military exercise between the armies of India and France.
Key Facts for Prelims
What is Uluru, Australia’s famous desert rock, and why can’t you climb it anymore?
From October 26, climbing the Uluru, Australia’s famous desert rock, considered sacred by the local Anangu people, has been banned.
Controversy over climbing Uluru
- The Anangu people, the traditional owners of the Uluru land, believes that the Uluru is sacred mountain and hence no one should climb it. Anangu believe they are responsible for the protection and appropriate management of these ancestral lands.
- As a result, a climbing ban was announced in 2017 with a 2-year transition period.
- In 1985, the Australia’s government handed over the ownership of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to the Anangu people.
- In return, Anangu leased the land to the Australian government for 99 years and it is now run by a board that has a majority of Anangu members.
About the Uluru
- Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a large ancient sandstone monolith in central Australia.
- Uluru is considered sacred by Australia’s indigenous Anangu people.
- It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Uluru and Kata Tjuta (also known as the Mount Olga), are the two major features of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Is there something like an Uluru in India?
- In India, climbing certain mountain peaks is not allowed, because they are considered sacred by locals.
- In August 2019, the Centre had lifted an 18-year-old ban on scaling the Kanchenjunga, which people in Sikkim hold sacred.
- After protests, the Indian Mountaineering Foundation said it would not issue permissions to tourists to climb Kanchenjunga and other sacred peaks.