Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Current Affairs of 21st October -2020


1) UNHCHR chief asked India to review FCRA Regulations:

Why in news:

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), Michelle Bachelet, has expressed her concern on October 20, 2020 over the imposed restrictions on foreign funding for the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in India and the arrest of activists in the country.

  • She has requested the Indian Government to safeguard the rights of human rights defenders and NGOs.
  • She urged the government that their ability to carry out their crucial work that the NGOs does should not be restricted on behalf of groups they represent.

What is the issue?

First issue

  • Recently in September 2020, the Union Home Ministry notified the new FCRA rules for foreign funding.
  • Under the new rule each member of an NGO will now have to take oath through an affidavit and certify that they have never diverted the foreign funds, propagated sedition or advocated the violent means.
  • The gift item in India was Rs. 25,000, now it has been raised to Rs. one lakh as per the market value.
  • They need to certify that they have not been prosecuted or convicted for conversion from one faith to another.
  • Office-bearers of NGOs are now required to provide Aadhaar numbers for the registration.
  • The rule has reduced the administrative expenses of any NGO receiving foreign funding from 50% to 20% of annual funds.

Second Issue

  • Around 1500 people have been arrested for/during the Anti-CAA protests and many were charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
  • So, she urged the Government to ensure that no one is detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and right to peaceful assembly.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR)

  • The UNHCHR is commonly known as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) or the UN Human Rights Office.
  • It is an office under the United Nations.
  • It works to promote and protect the human rights guaranteed under international law.
  • It also comply with the law being mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.
  • It was established by the UN General Assembly on 20 December 1993 after the World Conference on Human Rights, 1993.
  • The office look after the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
  • India is a party to this convention that provides for the freedom to form associations and receive funds for these associations


2) Foreign Direct Investment Inflow:

Why in news:

  • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is a major driver of economic growth and an important source of non-debt finance for the economic development of India.
  • It has been the endeavor of the Government to put in place an enabling and investor friendly FDI policy.
  • The intent all this while has been to make the FDI policy more investor friendly and remove the policy bottlenecks that have been hindering the investment inflows into the country.
  • The steps taken in this direction during the last six years have borne fruit as is evident from the ever increasing volumes of FDI inflows being received into the country.
  • Continuing on the path of FDI liberalization and
  • Simplification, Government has carried out FDI reforms across various sectors.

Measures taken by the Government on the fronts of FDI policy reforms

  • Investment facilitation and ease of doing business have resulted in increased FDI inflows into the country.
  • The following trends in India’s Foreign Direct Investment are an endorsement of its status as a preferred investment destination amongst global investors.

A. for the period of last 6 years (2014-15 to 2019-20)

  • Total FDI inflow grew by 55%, i.e. from US$ 231.37 billion in 2008-14 to US$ 358.29 billion in 2014-20.
  • FDI equity inflow also increased by 57% from US$ 160.46 billion during 2008-14 to US$ 252.42 billion (2014-20).

B. Financial Year 2020-21 (April to August, 2020)

  • During April to August, 2020, total FDI inflow of US$ 35.73 billion is received.
  • It is the highest ever for first 5 months of a financial year and 13% higher as compared to first five months of 2019-20 (US$ 31.60 billion).
  • FDI equity inflow received during F.Y. 2020-21 (April to August, 2020) is US$ 27.10 billion.
  • It is also the highest ever for first 5 months of a financial year and 16% more compared to first five months of 2019-20 (US$ 23.35 billion).


3) Hunrun Report:

Context: China’s super rich got $1.5 trillion richer during pandemic

  • China’s super wealthy have earned a record $1.5 trillion in 2020, more than the past five years combined, as e-commerce and gaming boomed during pandemic lockdowns, an annual rich list said on Tuesday.
  • An extra 257 people also joined the billionaires club in the world’s number-two economy by August, following two years of shrinking membership, according to the closely watched Hurun Report.
  • The country now has a total of 878 billionaires.
  • The U.S. had 626 people in the top bracket at the start of the year, according to Hurun in its February global list.

Hurun Report:

  • Founded in 1999 Hurun report is a private company that produces lists and research.
  • The company’s flagship product is the Hurun Rich list
  • Through Hurun report, Rupert Hoogewerf became widely regarded as an influential opinion former in China
  • Other key IPs include Hurun Global Unicorn, a ranking of the world’s most valuable privately-held businesses set up after 2000 and Hurun art List, a ranking of the world’s best-selling actors based on the sales of their works at public auction
  • Hurun’s mission is promoting entrepreneurship through lists and research.
  • Its main business operations are in China, India and UK

India fourth in terms of start-up unicorn numbers

  • When it comes to start-up unicorns, India is the fourth biggest behind the US, China and the UK
  • An additional 40 unicorns have been founded by people of Indian origin which are mostly headquartered in Silicon Valley, US, according to the Hurun Global Unicorn Index, 2020.
  • Unicorn is a term in business world to indicate a privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion
  • The term was coined in 2013 by venture capitalists, Aileen Lee, choosing the mythical animal to represent the statistical rarity of successful Ventures
  • Decacorn is a word used for those companies over $10 billion, while hectocorn is used for such a company valued over $100 hundred billion


4) Hybrid model of Smart fence at LoC:

The Army has significantly improved its electronic surveillance along the Line of Control (LoC) to check infiltration, and work on converting the existing border fence into a smart fence integrated with several sensors.

  • Work is also on to convert the existing border fence into a ‘hybrid’ barrier
  • However, there is a rethink on converting the entire fence over a 700 km stretch into a smart one due to the high cost.
  • A hybrid model is now being adopted.
  • The new hybrid model of the smart fence being tested will cost around ?10 lakh per km and 60 km is being attempted this year,” a senior officer on the ground said.
  • The fence will be integrated with LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors, infrared sensors and cameras among others.
  • The existing fence called the Anti-Infiltration Obstacle System (AIOS) is located about 700 m from the LoC.
  • The double row fence consisting of concertina wire was constructed between 2003 and 2005. With its high rate of degradation every year due to snow, the Army came up with a proposal to install a smart fence with various sensors integrated into it and a pilot project was subsequently taken up.
  • With snowfall in peak winters, which means in some places the entire fence gets buried.
  • Due to snow, the iron fence becomes brittle and consequently 60-70% of the fence has to be repaired every year, a second officer on the ground said.
  • Every year, there is a major exercise over four months from March to June to bring that fence up,” he said.
  • The fence is present along most of the around 740 km long LoC. While the damage to the fence is less south of Pirpanjal due to less snow, heavy snowfall in North Kashmir causes big damage.
  • In addition to the fence, the Army has deployed long range surveillance systems to detect people and small vehicles, both during day and night.
  • The fence too has been integrated with various sensors.
  • All states in India except Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and Haryana have an International border or a coastline

Value added Information:

Indian States Situated on the Border:

Pakistan: Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir (4 states share their borders with Pakistan.

China: Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh (5 states borders with China)

Nepal: Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim (5 Indian states shares its border with Nepal)

Bhutan: Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh (4 states shares border with Bhutan)

Bangladesh: West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram (5 Indian states shares border with Bangladesh)

Myanmar: Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram (4 Indian states shares its border with Myanmar)

Afghanistan: Jammu & Kashmir (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir)

All states in India except Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and Haryana have an International border or a coastline

What is LIDAR:

  • Lidar, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth.
  • These light pulses—combined with other data recorded by the airborne system — generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.

Uses of Lidar

  • Lidar is commonly used to make high-resolution maps, with applications in surveying, geomatics, archaeology, geography, geology, geomorphology, seismology, forestry, atmospheric physics laser guidance, airborne laser swath mapping (ALSM), and laser altimetry.
  • The technology is also used in control and navigation for some autonomous cars.


5) Demchok sector:

Why in news

  • The Indian Army handed over PLA soldier Corporal Wang Ya Long to the Chinese Army on early Wednesday morning.
  •  The PLA soldier was apprehended after he inadvertently crossed over into Indian Territory in the Demchok sector of eastern Ladakh on Monday.
  • Corporal Wang Ya Lon, who had his identity card in his pocket and belongs to Shangxizhen town of central Zhejiang province in China, was disoriented when he was taken into custody by Indian troops in the Demchok sector, as reported by T-O-I on Monday.
  • The Indian Army had said the soldier will be handed over to the People’s Liberation Army

Demchok Sector:

Location: The Demchok sector is a disputed region centered on the villages of Demchok, Ladakh and situated near the confluence of the Charding Nullah and Indus River

  • It is part of the greater Sino-Indian border dispute between China and India.
  • Both India and China claim the disputed region with a line of actual control between the two Nations situated along the charding Nullah


6) New Space Centre of NATO:

Why in news:

  • The North Atlantic Treaty organisation (NATO) will setup a new Space Centre in Ramstein, Germany.
  • The center will serve as a co-ordination Centre for space observation.
  • It will gather information regarding the possible threats that satellites might face.
  • The centre will be developed as a command centre for defensive measures in future.
  • This centre is being setup under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty organisation.
  • This is a countermeasure against the aggressive policies of China and Russia.
  • NATO countries are developing anti-satellite systems in order to disable the blind satellites that create dangerous debris in the orbit.

Article 5 of NATO

  • Article 5 empowers the NATO to take collective defence action.
  • It provides certain criteria under which NATO take defensive measures.
  • The article has been invoked several times by NATO in situations including the Syrian crisis, Russia-Ukraine crisis and 26/11 attack on US.
  • Article 5 states that an armed attack against one or more of the NATO countries in North America or Europe is considered as an attack on all the member countries.

Ground stations by NATO

  • NATO currently controls more than 24 satellite ground stations.
  • One of its ground station named Kester satellite ground station is located in Belgium and it is considered as centre of the space communication among NATO countries.
  • There are other 4 stations that re considered as Central hub.
  • Out of total satellites orbiting the Earth, half are operated by the NATO countries.
  • This is why, NATO countries are concerned about safeguarding their space resources.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

  • NATO is also called as the North Atlantic Alliance.
  • It is an intergovernmental military alliance.
  • It comprises of 30 North American and European countries.
  • It implements the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949.
  • The organisation constitutes a system of collective defence under which the independent member states agree for mutual defence against the attack by any external party.
  • It is headquartered in Evere, Brussels, Belgium while the Headquarters of Allied Command Operations is in Mons, Belgium.
  • Originally, NATO has 12 members which has now been increased to 30.
  • North Macedonia is the most recent member that joined the grouping on 27 March 2020.

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