Daily Current Affairs for 27th October 2020

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India to sign geo-spatial cooperation deal with U.S.


Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in news?

India and the U.S. will sign the last foundational agreement, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial cooperation (BECA) during the 2+2 ministerial dialogue.

Key details

  • The two Ministers expressed satisfaction that agreement of BECA will be signed during the visit.

Discussions held

  • The two Ministers reviewed bilateral defence cooperation spanning “military-to-military cooperation, secure communication systems and information sharing, defence trade and industrial issues” and also discussed ways to take bilateral cooperation forward.
  • They also discussed potential new areas of cooperation both at the Service-to-Service level and the joint level.
  • A maritime information agreement is also under discussion between India and the US.
  • This agreement (BECA) will allow for expanded geospatial information sharing between armed forces.


  • India and the US have already signed three key foundational agreements —
  1. General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002,
  2. the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 and
  • Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) in 2018.

These covered areas of security and military information, compatibility and security and logistics exchange and communications.

  • BECA has been under negotiations for over a decade as the UPA government was concerned about whether it would impact India’s national security.
  • It was under the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government, however, that India ramped up defence procurements from the US. Over the past 13 years, the two countries have raked up defence deals worth $20 billion.

Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA)

  • The COMCASA framework for the interchange of encrypted communication between India and US militaries are the way ahead for achieving inter-operability, especially for the US-supplied defence equipment, in case the two militaries plan to exercise in Air, Sea or Underwater domains.
  • COMCASA is an India-specific version of the Communication and Information on Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA). It comes into force immediately, and is valid for a period 10 year
  • COMCASA allows India to procure transfer specialised equipment for encrypted communications for US origin military platforms like the C-17, C-130 and P-8Is. Currently, these platforms use commercially available communication systems.

Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)

  • It is a tweaked India-specific version of the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), which the U.S. has with several countries it has close military to military cooperation. It is also one of the three foundational agreements — as referred to by the U.S.
  • LEMOA gives access, to both countries, to designated military facilities on either side for the purpose of refuelling and replenishment.
  • India and the U.S. already hold large number of joint exercises during which payments are done each time, which is a long and tedious process.
  • Under the new agreement, a mechanism will be instituted for book-keeping and payments and officials, who will act as nodal points of contact, will be designated on both sides.

Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA)

  • The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for geo-spatial cooperation is essentially a communication agreement proposed between the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency of the US Department of Defence and the Ministry of Defence of the Government of India.
  • It will allow India and the US to share military information including advanced satellite and topographic data such as maps, nautical and aeronautical charts and geodetic, geophysical, geomagnetic and gravity data.
  • Most of the information shared will be unclassified. However, the pact includes a provision of sharing classified information with safeguards to prevent it from being shared with any third party.

What will India gain?

  • The BECA will allow US armed forces to provide advanced navigational aids and avionics on US-supplied aircraft to India.
  • Sharing geospatial intelligence with the US through BECA will boost the Indian military’s accuracy of automated hardware systems and weapons like cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and drones.
  • Also, it is a key step for India when it comes to acquiring armed drones such as MQ-9B from the US.
  • BECA is to help India and the US counter growing Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • The two countries have also been ramping up engagement with Australia and Japan — two other members of the ‘Quad’.
  • India pulled out of the ASEAN-led trade Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) last November and in May this year, citing concerns over China.

Anti-cow slaughter law in U.P. being misused: Allahabad HC


Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in news?

The Allahabad High Court has expressed concern at the misuse of anti-cow slaughter law in Uttar Pradesh.

Key details

  • “[U.P. Prevention of Cow Slaughter] Act is being misused against innocent persons,” the court noted, as it granted bail to Rahmuddin, a person from Shamli accused of cow slaughter.
  • Whenever any meat is recovered, it is normally shown as cow meat [beef] without getting it examined or analysed by the Forensic Laboratory. In most of the cases, meat is not sent for analysis.
  • Whether cows are on roads or in the fields, their abandonment adversely affects the society in a big way. Some way out has to be found to keep them either in the cow shelters or with the owners, if U.P. Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act is to be implemented in letter and spirit.

U.P. Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act


Beef means flesh of cow but does not include such flesh contained in sealed containers and imported as such into Uttar Pradesh

Prohibition of Cow Slaughter

  • No person shall slaughter or cause to be slaughtered, or offer or cause to be offered for slaughter, a cow, bull or bullock in any place in Uttar Pradesh, anything contained in any other law for the time being in force or any usage or custom, to the contrary notwithstanding.

Prohibition on sale of beef

  • No person shall sell or transport or offer for sale or transport or cause to be sold or transported beef or beef-products in any form except for such medicinal purposes as may be prescribed.
  • Exception.–A person may sell and serve or cause to be sold and severed beef or beef-products for consumption by a bona fide passenger in an aircraft or railway train.

Establishment of institution

  • There shall be established by the State Government or by any local authority, wherever so directed by the State Government or by a society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 with prior permission of the State Government under such terms and conditions as may be prescribed, institution as may be necessary for taking care of cows, bulls or bullocks.


  • Whoever contravenes or abets the contravention of the provisions of Section 3, Section 5 or Section 5-A shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees.
  • Whoever attempts to commit an offence punishable Under sub-section (1) shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one-half of the longest term of imprisonment provided for that offence and with such fine as is provided for the offence.

Offences to be cognizable and non-bailable

An offence punishable under sub-section (1) of Section 8 shall be cognizable and non-bailable.

Centre promises law to check stubble burning


Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in news?

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Court that a draft legislation would be ready this week following which the Court suspended its earlier decision to have a one-man committee led by former Justice Madan Lokur to monitor stubble burning, exacerbating the region’s noxious air.

Key details

  • With an increase in stubble burning — the burning of rice straw by farmers to clear their fields for winter sowing in Punjab and Haryana — the MoA has in recent years been tasked with funding the use of subsidised combine harvesters and other machinery to dissuade farmers from.
  • The Delhi NCR already has a Graded Response Action Plan, which is overseen by the Environment Pollution Authority, that has specified a number of measures that governments must take — from banning diesel gensets to restricting vehicle movement — depending on the degree of pollution.
  • To check stubble burning this kharif (summer) season, the Punjab government has appointed 8,000 nodal officers in villages that grow paddy.
  • Over 23,000 crop residue management machines are being given to farmers for on-site management of straw.
  • Punjab State is taking measures to sensitise the farmers to the problem and it had been pressing the Centre to give ₹100 per quintal to farmers for managing the paddy straw without burning it.
  • With the monsoon withdrawing and winter-conditions setting in, air quality in the Delhi-NCR has been deteriorating since last week and dipped to ‘poor and very poor‘ on the air quality index.
  • According to forecasting system, SAFAR, maintained by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the contribution of stubble burning to the worsening air quality was 16% recently, relative to other sources such as road dust, vehicular emissions and industrial activities.
  • Pollutants from straw burning are brought in by the wind. Instances of burning, or fire counts, as they are called and tracked via satellite, have increased in the last few weeks and increased to nearly 1,200.
  • Central Pollution Control Board officials have said adverse meteorological conditions — a drop in wind speed and lowering of the mixing height (at which pollutants disperse), led to pollutants remaining trapped in the air.


  • Recently, The Union government stated that it will test a straw-decomposing technology developed by scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa, to deter farmers from burning paddy stubble

PUSA Decomposer

  • The ‘PUSA Decomposer’, is a set of four tablets made by extracting fungi strains that help the paddy straw to decompose at a much faster rate than usual, giving farmers the option to shred the straw, spray a solution containing the fungal strains, and mix it with the soil for decomposition.

Fermented Liquid Solution

  • Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal recently announced that the Delhi government would start the process of preparing a fermented liquid solution to be sprayed on 800 hectares of land in the city where farmers practise stubble burning.
  • It will be provided free of cost to farmers.
  • The process will be executed under the guidance of the Pusa Research Institute and the cost of the implementation of the entire project is less than ₹20 lakh.
  • There are around 800 hectares of land in Delhi where non-basmati rice is grown following which stubble is collected and burned.

India is much safer against tsunami threat


Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in news?

India is much safer against tsunami threat than it was in 2004, thanks to the state-of-the-art tsunami early warning system established at Indian National Centre for Ocean Information System (INCOIS) here.

Key details

  • However, the best of warning systems could fail, if communities are not prepared, if they do not understand the official and natural warning signs of a tsunami, and if they do not take appropriate and timely response, warns the new INCOIS Director.
  • Impressive progress had been made in building tsunami early warning capability.
  • From absolutely no warning capability or for that matter any public knowledge of tsunamis in the Indian Ocean, India has reached a stage where we can detect large under sea earthquakes in real-time and provide a tsunami warning in 10 – 20 minutes after the earthquake occurrence.
  • In fact, for Indian Ocean earthquakes where the network of seismometers is reasonably good, quakes can now be detected in less than five minutes and a tsunami warning issued within 10 minutes if the quake occurs elsewhere in the globe.
  • Focus in recent times has been on enhancing community awareness and response through several capacity building activities, biennial Indian Ocean wide tsunami drills and piloting of the UNESCO-IOC Tsunami Ready initiative to provide a structured framework to build and measure capacities of coastal communities to respond effectively to tsunamis, through 11 important indicators.
  • Tsunami early warning system in INCOIS has been continuously upgrading “observation network, forecast models, communication and computational systems”.

Indian National Centre for Ocean Information System (INCOIS)

  • Indian National Center for Ocean Information Service (INCOIS) under Earth System Science Organization (ESSO) is a dedicated institution for operational oceanography and the only institution in the Indian region that has been providing operational ocean information and advisory services over the past 10 years.
  • It has established leadership particularly in ocean observations, ocean modeling and ocean information and advisory services in the Indian Ocean region.
  • ESSO-INCOIS was established as an autonomous body in 1999 under the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and is a unit of the Earth System Science Organization (ESSO).
  • ESSO- INCOIS is mandated to provide the best possible ocean information and advisory services to society, industry, government agencies and the scientific community through sustained ocean observations and constant improvements through systematic and focussed research.

Marine Satellite Information Services (MARSIS) programme

  • The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), earlier known as the Department of Ocean Development (DOD), initiated Marine Satellite Information Services (MARSIS) programme in June 1990, to device methods to use the oceanographic data, especially the satellite data to address the issues involved with the usage of oceanic resources.
  • One of the objectives of MARSIS was the usage of remote sensing data and its applications for the management of coastal oceans and to devise the methods to use the satellite data to harvest food from sea.
  • At this juncture, the scientists from marine sciences, remote sensing and fishery science collaborated to develop a technique that can use the remotely sensed sea surface temperature (SST) to identify the locations of fish aggregation.
  • The concerted collaborative efforts of scientists from Earth Sciences, space and fishery science have resulted in successful demonstration of the application of satellite derived data for the demarcation of Potential Fishing Zone (PFZ) as a proxy to potential shoals of fish aggregation in the Indian waters.

Indian Ocean rim countries

  • The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) is an inter-governmental organisation formed in 1997 to foster regional economic cooperation. IORA has evolved into the peak regional group spanning the Indian Ocean.
  • From its inception with 14 member states, the membership has expanded to 22 countries: Australia, Bangladesh, the Comoros, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. IORA has ten dialogue partners: China, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Turkey, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
  • Australia is a founding IORA member and chaired the organisation between 2013 and 2015.
  • IORA became an observer to the UN General Assembly and the African Union in 2015.

‘Responsible’ fuel pricing needed: PM


Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in news

Global energy producers must pursue more ‘responsible pricing’ policies and India needs ‘affordable and reliable’ energy sources, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, arguing that world fuel prices have been on a ‘roller coaster’ for far too long.

Key details

  • India has been drawing investments across the oil and gas value chain and other sectors even during these challenging times, and the country is a bright spot in an otherwise difficult year for the sector.
  • This year has been challenging for the energy sector — demand fell by almost one third, there has been price instability, investment decisions have been impacted and leading global bodies project contraction in global energy demand over the next few years also.
  • But these agencies project India to emerge as a leading energy consumer, which is set to double its energy consumption over the long term.
  • During these challenging times, we have witnessed investments through the oil and gas value chain and are seeing similar signs in other sectors too.


Pricing concerns

  • “For too long, the world has seen fuel prices on a roller coaster. We need to move towards responsible pricing and work towards transparent and flexible markets for both oil and gas,” Mr. Modi said

Oil and gas sector reforms

  • The Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry has endeavoured to ‘Reform, Perform and Transform’ the sector.
  • The government has taken several reforms and accomplished major task with far-reaching impacts in the sectors of Exploration and Production, Refinery, Marketing, Natural Gas and international cooperation.

Exploration & Production:

  • In a major drive to give a boost to upstream hydrocarbon sector, the Government has unveiled a series of policy initiatives. Some of the notable policy reforms are listed as under:
  • Government, in March, 2016, granted marketing including pricing freedom on natural gas production with a price ceiling announced on half yearly basis.
  • To develop alternate sources of natural gas including Coal Bed Methane (CBM) and promoting gas economy, Government provided marketing and pricing freedom for Coal Bed Methane (CBM), and streamline the operational issues vide the Policy Framework for Early Monetization of CBM Gas in April 2017.

Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP)

  • Government notified Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) on 30th March, 2016 and formally put in operation w.e.f. 1st July, 2017
  • HELP is a paradigm shift from Production Sharing Contract (PSC) regime to Revenue Sharing Contract (RSC) regime which completely overhauls the regulatory regime for the future Exploration and Production (E&P) activities by reducing the regulatory burden based on the principle of ‘Ease of doing business’.
  • It provides for single License for exploration and production of conventional as well as non-conventional Hydrocarbon resources, pricing and marketing freedom, reduced rate of royalty for offshore blocks etc.
  • Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) means potential investors/companies can carve out exploration acreages of their choice and submit Expressions of Interest round the year.

National Seismic Programme (NSP)

  • Government formulated National Seismic Programme (NSP) in October, 2016 to appraise the unappraised areas in all sedimentary basins of India where no/scanty data was available.
  • Govt of India has set up an E&P data bank, National Data Repository (NDR), with state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure for preservation, upkeep and dissemination of data to enable its systematic use for future exploration and development in July, 2017.

Gas Based Economy:

  • Currently, world’s average natural gas share in primary energy basket is about 24 percent. The only Indian state which has a higher gas mix than the global average—~25 percent— is Gujarat.

CGD Network

  • A strong emphasis has been laid on expansion of city gas distribution (CGD) networks across the country by covering 407 districts with a potential to make gas accessible to over 70 percent of the population.
  • The distribution networks would enable the supply of cleaner cooking fuel (like, PNG) to households, industrial & commercial units as well as transportation fuel (like, CNG) to vehicles. There is an expected investment of Rs 120,000 crore in over the next 10 years.


  • In addition to natural gas, an initiative called “Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation” (SATAT) has been taken up to extract economic value from bio-mass waste in the form of Compressed Bio Gas (CBG) and bio-manure.
  • Municipal solid waste, sugar industry waste (press mud) and agricultural residue have significant potential for production of the same. exploration and licencing policy unveiled in 2019

One Nation, One Gas Grid’ goal.

  • In Union Budget 2019 the panel had recommended the government that the Ministry of Power and Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas may jointly devise a scheme in line with the earlier e-bid RLNG Scheme to revive gas-based power plants.
  • The government unveiled a package for power sector and went ahead with structural reforms to achieve the objective of ‘One Nation One Grid’,
  • The minister assured that all willing rural households will have cooking gas and electricity connection by 2022, the 75th year of India’s independence.
  • A liquidity scheme for the power sector with an outlay of Rs 1,20,000 crore has been started under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat scheme to prevent any crisis of confidence in this sector.
  • For this, an amount of Rs 68,000 crore has been sanctioned and out of this, Rs 25,000 crore has already been disbursed.

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