A) Science and Technology, Defence, Space
1. Worlds’ first, satellite-based “Narrow Band-Internet of Things” (NB-IoT) network in India (PIB)
- Context: BSNL, in partnership with Skylotech India, announced a breakthrough in satellite-based NB-IoT (Narrow Band-Internet of Things).
- With this solution, India will now have access to a ubiquitous fabric of connectivity for millions of yet unconnected machines, sensors and industrial IoT devices.
- This new ‘Made in India’ Solution, which is indigenously developed by Skylo, will connect with BSNL’s satellite-ground infrastructure and provide pan-India coverage (will not leave any dark patch within the boundary of India), including Indian seas.
- Skylo would also help provide critical data for the logistics sector to enable effective distribution of COVID-19 vaccine in 2021and will be a big contributor in service to the nation.
- A small, smart, incredibly rugged box, the Skylo ‘User Terminal’ interfaces with sensors and transmits data to the Skylo Network and into peoples’ hands.
- This new digital machine connectivity layer will serve as a complement to smartphone-centric mobile & Wi-Fi networks, and covers India’s full geography to bring online new applications for the first time.
Internet of things
- Internet of things is the interconnection via the internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.
In the Fig. below, we show a satellite based IoT network.
- The coverage area of the satellite has been shown as an oval within which lies the IoT network.
- The IoT trans-receivers are the triangular towers and the red dots are the sensor nodes.
- Both the IoT and the satellite links are wireless.
Narrowband SIoT Networks
- Narrowband versions of IoTs (NBIoTs) take a very small amount of power and bandwidth for their operations.
- NBIoT sensors can be powered through small batteries for years. Therefore, very much suitable for the rural and energy limited applications.
- Combination of NBIoT with satellite networks can be very much attractive for several energy limited applications.
Motivation for Satellite IoT Integration
- 1) Reliability in the wireless applications
- With proper constellation arrangements satellites provide more than 99.9% availability which is much higher than the current cellular networks.
- This is essential for the mission critical applications such as disaster management and military communications.
2) Larger and broader coverage of the IoT Networks
- IoT networks are generally deployed over the existing cellular infrastructure.
- The cellular networks are oriented according to the human presence.
- Therefore, the coverage of the cellular networks is very much limited.
- However, satellite networks can cover a large area and they do not discriminate any part of the terrain.
- Thus, for a large scale multi-purpose deployment of IoT, satellite based IoTs (SIoT) are preferred over the cellular IoTs.
3) Better Security and Protection
- SIoT networks are very much oriented according to the presence and availability of the satellites.
- Intercepting and manipulating these systems are very rare and needs a lot of effort.
- In comparison to this, the cellular networks are very much compromised in terms of security and isolation.
4) Economical and faster rural deployment
- SIoT is very promising in this regard as satellites have wider coverage and the satellite based IoTs need less resources than the cellular IoTs.
5) Multicasting of services
- Normally, the coverage area of a satellite is much larger than the cellular transmitters.
- Therefore, multicasting through satellites is much easier and cost effective than the cellular transmissions.
6) Longevity of the wireless networks
- In general, the longevity of the satellite constellations is much higher than the cellular networks.
2. Joint Venture Protective Carbine (JVPC) (TH)
- DRDO completes final phase trials of indigenous protective carbine. It is also designed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation
- The Joint Venture Protective Carbine (JVPC), a gas-operated semi bull-pup automatic weapon, has a firing rate of more than 700 rounds a minute.
- Joint Venture Protective Carbine is a unique calibre weapon for short range operations.
- The effective range of the carbine is more than 100 m and weighs about 3 kg with key features like high reliability, low recoil, retractable butt, ergonomic design, single-hand firing capability, and multiple Picatinny rails etc.
- These features make it a very potent weapon for counter insurgency/counter-terrorism operations by security agencies.
- The production of carbines is under progress from Ordnance Factories and major private companies. (Thus justifies the name joint venture protective carbine.)
B) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues
3. Human Rights: A comprehensive analysis (PIB)
Context: India Post, Maharashtra Circle released a special cover on ‘human rights’, today, 10th December 2020 on the occasion of International Human Rights Day.
- Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December — the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948.
- The UDHR is a document that proclaims the inalienable rights which everyone is entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
- The Declaration with its broad range of political, civil, social, cultural and economic rights is not a binding document.
- Available in more than 500 languages, it is the most translated document in the world.
- Human Rights are those minimal rights which every individual must have against the State or other public authority by virtue of his being a ‘member of the human family’, irrespective of any other consideration.
- The concept of human rights is as old as the ancient doctrine of ‘natural rights’ founded on natural law, the expression ‘human rights’ is of recent origin, emerging from (post-Second World War) international Charters and Conventions.
- The natural rights were derived from the nature of man for these are inherent in the nature of man and form part of his intrinsic nature.
- It means there exist in the nature of universe certain objective moral principles which can be perceived by the man by the application of his reason and self-determination.
- Non–discrimination is a fundamental principle of human rights.
- International human rights law includes safeguards against unwarranted foreign intervention and stresses the exhaustion of domestic remedies before an issue is considered by an international body.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- In 1926, the Slavery Convention adopted by the League of Nations prohibiting slave trade heralded the first human rights treaty based on the principle of dignity of a human being.
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948 by the United Nations, was the first comprehensive international human rights document.
- The Universal Declaration has acquired the force of law as part of the customary law of nations.
- It has provided the basis for binding human rights treaties and non-binding guidelines/principles that constitute a distinct body of law known as international human rights law.
Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
- Also known as VDPA, it is a human rights declaration adopted by consensus at the World Conference on Human Rights in June 1993 in Vienna, Austria.
- The position of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was recommended by this Declaration and subsequently created by General Assembly.
UN Human Rights Council
- The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.
- It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year.
- It meets at the UN Office at Geneva, Switzerland.
- The Council is made up of 47 United Nations Member States which are elected by the UN General Assembly.
- The Human Rights Council replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
- To do all the work, the Human Rights Council gets help from groups of experts. They are called ‘Advisory Committees’.
- Sometimes, the Human Rights Council also works with other experts who know a lot about 1 right or 1 country. When this happens, we call it ‘Special Procedures’.
- The Human Rights Council holds no fewer than three regular sessions a year, for a total of at least 10 weeks.
- If one-third of the Member States so request, the HRC can decide at any time to hold a special session to address human rights violations and emergencies.
- The Council is made up of 47 UN Member States, which are elected by the UNGA through a direct and secret ballot.
- The General Assembly takes into account the contribution of the candidate states to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as their voluntary pledges and commitments in this regard.
- Seats on the Council are distributed as follows:
- African States: 13 seats
- Asia-Pacific States: 13 seats
- Latin American and Caribbean States: 8 seats
- Western European and other States: 7 seats
- Eastern European States: 6 seats
- Members of the Council serve for a period of three years, and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.
- Both India and Pakistan as the members of UNHRC.
- The HRC has a Bureau of one President and four Vice-Presidents, representing the five regional groups. They serve for a year, in accordance with the Council’s annual cycle.
Human Rights in India
- Our country was one of the original signatories to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Human Rights under the Constitution of India
- The Preamble of the Indian Constitution reflects the inspiring ideals with the specific mention of “dignity of the individual”.
- The impact of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on drafting Fundamental Rights enshrined in Part III of the Constitution is apparent.
- India has acceded to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as to the subsequent International Covenants of Economic, Social and Cultural rights and Civil & Political Rights adopted by the Central Assembly of the United Nations.
- The Natural Rights transformed into fundamental rights operate as a constitutional limitation or a restriction on the powers of the organs set up by the Constitution or the State action.
- The wisdom of the forefathers of the Constitution was justified in incorporating non-justiciable human rights in the concrete shape of the Directive Principles of State Policy.
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
- It is a statutory body and not a constitutional body.
- The statute under which it is established is the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993 as amended by the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2006.
- It is in conformity with the Paris Principles (endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations)
- Section 2(1)(d) of the PHRA defines Human Rights as the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.
Composition and Qualification:
- It consists of a chairman and four members.
- The chairman should be a retired Chief Justice of India and members should be either serving or retired judges of the Supreme Court, a serving or retired chief justice of a high court and two persons having knowledge or practical experience with respect to human rights.
- In addition to these full-time members, the commission also has four ex-officio members-
- The chairman of the National Commission for Minorities
- The chairman of the National Commission for SCs
- The chairman of the National Commission for STs
- The chairman of the National Commission for Women
- The chairman and the members are appointed by the President on the recommendations of a six-member committee comprising-
- The Prime Minister as its head;
- The Speaker of the Lok Sabha;
- The Deputy Chairman in the Rajya Sabha;
- Leaders of the opposition in both the Houses of Parliament;
- The Central Home Minister
- A sitting judge of the Supreme Court or a sitting chief justice of a high court can be appointed only after consultation with the chief justice of India.
- The Chairman and members hold office for a term of five years or until they attain the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.
- The Chairman and members are not eligible for further employment under the Central or a state government, after their tenure.
- The president can remove the chairman or any member from the office under the following circumstances:
- If he is adjudged an insolvent; or
- If he engages, during his term of office, in any paid employment outside the duties of his office;
- If he is unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body; or
- If he is of unsound mind and stand so declared by a competent court;
- If he is convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for an offence.
- Besides, the president can also remove the chairman or any member on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.
- However, the president has to refer the matter to the Supreme Court for an enquiry.
- If the Supreme court, after the inquiry, upholds the cause of removal the chairman or a member.
Powers of NHRC
- NHRC is vested with the power to regulate its own procedure.
- It has all the powers of a civil court and its proceedings have a judicial character.
- It may call for information or report from the Central and state governments or any other authority subordinate thereto.
- The commission has its own nucleus of investigating staff for investigation into complaints of human rights violations.
- It is also empowered to utilise the services of any officer or investigation agency of the Central or any state government for the purpose.
- The commission is not empowered to inquire into any matter after the expiry of one year from the date on which the act constituting violation of human rights is alleged to have been committed.
C) International Relations
4. Israel and West Asia improving relations (TH)
- Context: Morocco to normalise ties with Israel.
- It is the fourth Arab nation this year to do so after Bahrain, Sudan and the UAE
- Read in detail about Abraham Accords: Refer File 26 October 2020
D) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments
5. What is an election petition? (IE)
- Context: Election Petition is not maintainable, If petitioner faces disqualification due to conviction says SC.
- Dismissing the special leave petition filed by Saritha S. Nair against the rejection of election petition by the Kerala High Court, the Supreme Court observed that the election petition filed by her was not maintainable as she faced disqualification due to conviction.
- An Election petition is a means under the Representation of the People Act, 1951
- to challenge the election of a candidate in a Parliamentary, Assembly or local election.
Where can we file an election petition?
- Election petitions are filed in the High Court of the particular state in which the election was conducted.
- Therefore, only the High Courts have the original jurisdiction on deciding on election petitions.
- Such jurisdiction shall be exercised ordinarily by the Single Judge of the High Court and Chief Justice shall from time to time assign one or more Judges for that purpose.
Who can file an election petition?
- An election petition can be filed by any candidate, or an elector relating to the election personally, to the authorized officer of the High Court.
- An elector is a person who was entitled to vote at the election to which the election petition relates, whether he/she has voted at such election or not.
What is the limitation period of an election petition?
- An election petition calling in question an election shall be filed within the time period of forty-five days from the date of declaration of results.
What is the cost for filing an Election Petition?
- The petitioner shall have to deposit a sum of Rs. 2000/- in accordance with rules of the concerned High Court.
- However, the fees may vary according to the individual rules of a particular High Court.
What relief can be claimed by the petitioner in an election petition?
- A petitioner may, in addition to claiming that the election of a particular candidate is void, can also claim that he/she himself/herself has been duly elected.
- What are the grounds for filing an election petition or declaring an election void?
- The election of a particular candidate can be declared void under section 100 of the Representation of People Act, 1951, if the High Court is of the opinion that –
- a) that on the date of the election a returned candidate (a candidate who has been declared elected) was not qualified; or
- b) that some corrupt practice was committed by a returned candidate or his election agent; or
- c) that any nomination was improperly rejected; or
- d) that the result was materially affected.
What is the position in the Court of Law when more than one election petition is presented to the High Court in respect of the same election?
- Where more election petitions than one are presented to the High Court in respect of the same election, all of them shall be referred for trial to the same judge who may, in his discretion, try them separately or in one or more groups.
What is the timeline for a trial in an election petition?
- The Representation of Peoples Act recommends every election petition shall be tried as expeditiously as possible and as far as practicable for the interests of justice.
- Every endeavour, it suggests, should be made on the part of the High Court to conclude a trial for an election petition within six months from the date on which the election petition is presented to the High Court for trial.
What happens to the acts/activities done by an elected representative during the course of his/her membership, after his/her election is declared void?
- When the election of a candidate is declared void, any of his acts or proceedings in which that candidate has participated as a Member of Parliament or State Legislature, shall not be invalidated by reason of that order, nor shall such candidate be subjected to any liability or penalty on the ground of such participation.
How can an election petition be withdrawn?
- Any election petition may be withdrawn only by leave of the High Court.
- Where an application for withdrawal is made, notice thereof fixing a date for the hearing of the application shall be given to all other parties to the petition and shall be published in the official gazette.
How and when does an election petition abate?
- An election petition can abate only on the death of the sole petitioner or of several petitions.
Where should the High Court communicate its final orders as against an election petition?
- The High Court shall as soon as after the conclusion of the trial of an election petition, intimate the substance of the decision to the Election Commission of India and the Speaker of the House or Chairman of the State Legislature as the case may be.
Where can one appeal against an order of the High Court?
- An appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court on any question (whether of law and fact) from every order made by a High Court.
What is the limitation period for filing an appeal in the Supreme Court against an order of the High Court?
- Every appeal shall be preferred within a period of thirty days from the date of the order of the High Court.
- Supreme Court may entertain an appeal after the expiry of the said period of thirty days if it is satisfied that the appellant had sufficient cause for not preferring the appeal within such period.
Independent candidates’ petition challenging rejection of their nomination dismissed
- The Delhi High Court dismissed petitions filed by several Independent candidates challenging rejection of their nomination for contesting the Assembly elections on February 8, 2020.
- The HC said that under the Representation of People Act only an election petition was permissible and it would have to be filed after the results were declared.
- It said that the apex court had also held that the right to contest in an election was “not a civil right but a creature of statute”.
6. Breakdancing in Paris Olympics (IE)
- This was an unprecedented week for the Olympics, with breakdancing included as a medal event for the 2024 Paris Games.
- The likely format at Paris will see 32 breakers (16 B-Boys and 16 B-Girls) compete over two days of 1vs1 competitive duels in hip-hop freestyle called ‘Battles’. Preliminaries on
- Six criteria are considered: technique, variety, performativity, musicality, creativity and personality. In duels, two breakers face-off and are judged directly against each other.
- Dancers typically do not choose their music and are expected to react and adapt to beats in real-time.