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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 29 October 2019

Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 29 October 2019

Table of contents:


GS Paper 2:

  1. Absentee voters.
  2. BASIC countries.
  3. Universal Postal Union (UPU).
  4. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).


GS Paper 3:

  1. Copernicus programme.


Facts for prelims:

  1. Shakti-2019.
  2. INS Baaz.
  3. What is Uluru?
  4. What is Parole?


GS Paper 2:


Topics Covered:

  1. Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.


Postal ballot facilities expanded


What to study?

For Prelims: Amendments, definitions and features.

For Mains: The need for and significance of postal ballot.


Context: Election Commission of India has started working on detailed guidelines and SoPs to facilitate the process of postal ballot paper for Absentee voters of essential services, Senior citizens of more than 80 years and marked PwD electors.



On October 22, 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.

The amendment comes after the EC wrote to the Law Ministry two months ago proposing that voters on duty in fields such as aviation, shipping, Railways, emergency services, those employed in long-distance road transport, the elderly, the physically-challenged, and journalists covering elections should be allowed to vote by postal ballot in upcoming Assembly elections.


Key facts:

  • A concept of ‘absentee voter’ has been introduced and defined for the elections.
  • People under the new category can choose to vote through postal ballot by filling up Form 12D and submitting it to the nodal officer within five days of notification of an election.
  • These votes will be registered at a special centre specified by the Election Commission (EC).


Definition- absentee voter: An absentee voter is someone who is employed in “essential services”. The EC will notify which jobs and professions are covered under “essential services” after consulting the government.


Way ahead:

There is need for laying special emphasis to ensure that the electors who are also Persons with Disabilities (PwD) and senior citizens are facilitated in every way to ensure their wider participation in the electoral process.

There is now need for the creation of requisite infrastructure and suitable legal framework to facilitate the process. 


Sources: the Hindu.


Topics covered:

  1. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.


BASIC countries


What to study?

For prelims: BASIC Nations.

For mains: Need for, significance and challenges before the grouping.


Context: The 29th BASIC Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change was held recently in Beijing, China.


Outcomes of the recent meet- demands by BASIC:

  1. 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.
  2. Global climate action should promote climate justice by recognising the fundamental equality of all people in accessing economic growth and sustainable development.
  3. There is need for people’s participation and climate friendly lifestyles for addressing the challenge of climate change.
  4. Developed countries should take urgent actions to close the gaps, including revisiting their targets on mitigation under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, and fulfilling their commitments of providing support to developing countries.


Who are the BASIC?

The BASIC group was formed as the result of an agreement signed by the four countries on November 28, 2009.

They are a bloc of four large newly industrialized countries – Brazil, South Africa, India and China.


Significance of the grouping:

  • Objectives: The signatory nations have a broadly common position on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and raising the massive funds that are needed to fight climate change.
  • The BASIC countries constituted one of the parties in the Copenhagen Accord reached with the US-led grouping; the Accord, was, however, not legally binding.
  • The BASIC group wields considerable heft purely because of the size of the economies and populations of the member countries.
  • Brazil, South Africa, India and China put together has one-third of the world’s geographical area and nearly 40% of the world’s population, and when they unitedly speak in one voice this shows their determination.
  • BASIC is one of several groups of nations working together to fight climate change and carry out negotiations within the UNFCCC.


Need for this grouping:

  • In light of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C released in October last year, the group took note of its findings that highlight the “high vulnerability of developing countries to climate change effects and high resultant costs of adaptation”.
  • The findings of the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming make it incredibly clear that the impacts of an already warming world are significant, and that impacts at 2°C are catastrophic compared to those of 1.5°C. Yet, the BASIC ministers recalled the Paris goal of limiting the temperature rise to well under 2°C, and aspiring to limit it to 1.5°C, suggesting their continued pursuit of 2°C as the target temperature limit.
  • The BASIC countries also contend that their nationally determined contributions (NDCs)— voluntary pledges of national efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—have demonstrated “a high level of ambition in the context of poverty and sustainable development”.


Way ahead:

While developed countries must take the lead to reduce GHG emissions and enable developing countries to scale climate action. It is critical that all countries actively step-up to rapidly reduce global GHG emissions within their own jurisdictions and collectively work with each other to limit warming to 1.5°C.


Sources: pib.

Topics Covered:

  1. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


Universal Postal Union (UPU)


What to study?

For Prelims: UPU and other rules governing postal exchange.

For Mains: Pakistan’s recent actions and it’s implications.


Context: In a unilateral decision, Pakistan has stopped exchange of postal mails with India since August 27.



Other than the UPU, three agreements cover postal exchange between India and Pakistan — Exchange of Value Payable Article, 1948; Exchange of Postal Article, 1974; and International Speed Post Agreement, 1987.


Who regulates postal exchange between one country and another?

The United Nations’ Universal Postal Union (UPU) frames rules for international mail exchange, and fixes rates for international postal services.


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 (in India’s case, India Post) and, if possible, the duration for which services are being stopped. The UPU’s International Bureau too has to be notified.


About Universal Postal Union (UPU):

  • A specialized agency of United Nations that coordinates postal policies among member nations, in addition to worldwide postal system.
  • Established in 1874 and is second oldest international organization worldwide after International Telecommunication Union (ITU) which was established in 1865.
  • Headquartered in Berne, Switzerland.
  • 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.
  • Regulates40 lakh postal outlets worldwide.
  • India joined the UPU on July 1, 1876 and Pakistan on November 10, 1947.



  1. Helps to ensure truly universal network of up-to-date products and services.
  2. 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.


Sources: Indian Express.


Topics covered: 

  1. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)


What to study?

For prelims and mains: ICAO- composition, roles, functions and significance.


Context: India has approached ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) after Pakistan denied permission for PM Modi to use its air space.



The overflight clearances are granted by other countries according to ICAO guidelines.


About ICAO:

What is it?

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is a UN specialized agency, established by States in 1944 to manage the administration and governance of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention).



  1. ICAO works with the Convention’s 193 Member States and industry groups to reach consensus on international civil aviation Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and policies in support of a safe, efficient, secure, economically sustainable and environmentally responsible civil aviation sector.
  2. These SARPs and policies are used by ICAO Member States to ensure that their local civil aviation operations and regulations conform to global norms, which in turn permits more than 100,000 daily flights in aviation’s global network to operate safely and reliably in every region of the world.
  3. ICAO also coordinates assistance and capacity building for States in support of numerous aviation development objectives; produces global plans to coordinate multilateral strategic progress for safety and air navigation.
  4. Also monitors and reports on numerous air transport sector performance metrics; and audits States’ civil aviation oversight capabilities in the areas of safety and security.


Chicago convention:

  • Convention on International Civil Aviation (also known as Chicago Convention), was signed on 7 December 1944 by 52 States.
  • Pending ratification of the Convention by 26 States, the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization (PICAO) was established.
  • It functioned from 6 June 1945 until 4 April 1947. By 5 March 1947 the 26th ratification was received. ICAO came into being on 4 April 1947. In October of the same year, ICAO became a specialized agency of the United Nations linked to Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
  • 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.


Sources:the Hindu.



GS Paper 3:


Topics Covered:

  1. Awareness in space.


Copernicus programme


What to study?

For Prelims and mains: Key features, objectives and significance of the programme, wildfires- causes, impact and prevention.


Context: Data from the Sentinel-3 World Fire Atlas have been released.

Data have been recorded under the Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission.


Key findings:

  • There were almost five times as many wildfires in August 2019 compared to August 2018- 79 000 fires in August this year, compared to just over 16 000 fires detected during the same period last year.
  • 49% of fires were detected in Asia, around 28% were detected in South America, 16% in Africa, and the remaining were recorded in North America, Europe and Oceania.

About Copernicus programme:

  1. Copernicus is the most ambitious Earth observation programme to date.
  2. It will provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security.
  3. Copernicus is the new name for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme, previously known as GMES.
  4. This initiative is headed by the European Commission (EC) in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA).
  5. Services provided by Copernicus: land management, the marine environment, atmosphere, emergency response, security and climate change.
  6. Sentinel: ESA is developing a new family of satellites, called Sentinels, specifically for the operational needs of the Copernicus programme. The Sentinels will provide a unique set of observations, starting with the all-weather, day and night radar images.


Way ahead:

One of the biggest problems during and after fires is obtaining an overall view of the fires evolution and potential damage. With fires seen from space, Earth observation is also being used to detect and monitor the active spots over affected areas.

Quantifying and monitoring fires is important for the ongoing study of climate because they have a significant impact on global atmospheric emissions, with biomass burning contributing to the global budgets of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide.


Sources: the Hindu.



Facts for prelims:



  • It is a biennial joint exercise between India and France.
  • Commenced in 2011, it is now conducted alternately in India and France.
  • The 2019 edition will be held in Rajasthan.
  • The joint exercise will focus on Counter Terrorism operations in backdrop of semi-desert terrain under United Nations Mandate.


INS Baaz:

  • It is the southernmost air station of the Indian Armed Forces.
  • Located at Campbell Bay on the Great Nicobar island, the southernmost and largest island of the Nicobar island.
  • This island is also the location of the Indira Point and is less than 250 km by sea from Banda Aceh in Indonesia.
  • 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).
  • The location has been described as India’s “window into East and Southeast Asia”, and is in close vicinity of the Six Degree Channel, also called the Great Channel, one of the Indian Ocean’s busiest shipping lines, carrying strategic cargo to East Asian countries.
  • It is also close to the Strait of Malacca.
  • 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.


What is Uluru?

  • It is an ancient sandstone monolith in Central Australia.
  • The rock has a circumference of 9.4 km, and its 1,140-foot summit — taller than Eiffel Tower — has been a popular climbing destination.
  • Uluru is considered sacred by Australia’s indigenous Anangu people.

Why in News? It was permanently closed to climbers recently to meet the wishes of Aboriginal people who hold the red monolith sacred.


What is Parole?

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.

  1. How is it different from Furlough? Furlough is given in case of long-term imprisonment. While furlough is seen as a matter of right, to be granted periodically irrespective of any reason and merely 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.
  2. Granting authority: Parole and furlough are covered under the Prison Act of 1894. Since prison is a subject of the state, the Prison Act of the particular state government defines the rules under which parole is granted. Parole is granted by the state executive. 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.