Daily Current Affairs: 18th November 2021

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics covered

  1. International court of justice
  2. Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana
  3. USOF
  4. Facts for Prelims
  5. Places in News

1. International Court of Justice

Context: Pakistan’s Parliament, in its joint sitting on Wednesday, enacted a law to give Indian death row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav the right to file a review appeal against his conviction by a
military court.


  • The Hague-based ICJ ruled in July 2019 that Pakistan must undertake an “effective review and reconsideration” of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav and also to grant consular access to India without further delay.
  • The International Court of Justice (Review and Reconsideration) Bill, 2021 is aimed at fulfilling the obligation under the verdict of the ICJ

About Kulbhushan Jadhav

  • Mr. Jadhav, a 51yearold retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017.
  • India approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Mr. Jadhav and challenging the death sentence.
  • After hearing both sides, The Hague based ICJ issued a verdict in July 2019, asking Pakistan to give India consular access to Mr. Jadhav and also ensure review of his conviction.
  • The New law allowed Mr. Jadhav to challenge his conviction in the High Court through a review process, which was a requirement of the ICJ verdict.

About the Verdict

  • All 16 judges on the UN judicial organ’s panel ruled unanimously that the ICJ’s jurisdiction held over the case.
  • On six other contentions, including on the comprehensive violation of the Vienna Convention by Pakistan, the immediate granting of consular access to Mr. Jadhav, an “effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence”, and a continued stay of execution, the ICJ panel ruled 15-1 in India’s favour. Pakistani Judge, Justice Jillani, was the lone dissenter on those rulings.

Details of the Verdict on specific arguments

  • On Pakistan’s failure to provide consular access : The Court is of the view that the alleged failure by India to cooperate in the investigation process in Pakistan does not relieve Pakistan of its obligation to grant consular access under Article 36, paragraph 1, of the Convention, and does not justify Pakistan’s denial of access to Mr Jadhav by consular officers of India.
  • On exception to granting consular access in cases of espionage : The Court thus concludes that, when interpreted in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the Vienna Convention in their context and in the light of its object and purpose, the Convention does not exclude from its scope certain categories of persons, such as those suspected of espionage.
  • On Pakistan not informing Jadhav of his rights : Pakistan consistently maintained that the Convention does not apply to an individual suspected of espionage. The Court infers from this position of Pakistan that it did not inform Mr Jadhav of his rights under Article 36, paragraph 1 (b), of the Vienna Convention, and thus concludes that Pakistan breached its obligation to inform Mr Jadhav of his rights under that provision
  • On delay by Pakistan in informing India about Jadhav’s arrest and detention : Pakistan claims that at the time of his arrest on 3 March, 2016, Mr Jadhav was in possession of an Indian passport bearing the name “Hussein Mubarak Patel”. In the circumstances of the present case, the Court considers that there were sufficient grounds at the time of the arrest on 3 March, 2016 or shortly thereafter for Pakistan to conclude that the person was, or was likely to be, an Indian national, thus triggering its obligation to inform India of his arrest.
  • There was a delay of some three weeks between Mr Jadhav’s arrest on 3 March, 2016 and the notification made to India on 25 March, 2016. The Court recalls that “neither the terms of the (Vienna) Convention as normally understood, nor its object and purpose, suggest that ‘without delay’ is to be understood as ‘immediately upon arrest and before interrogation’.”

About ICJ

  • The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.
  • The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands).
  • Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York (United States of America).
  • The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.
  • The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council.
  • It is assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ.
  • Its official languages are English and French.
  • All members of the UN are automatic parties to the statute, but this does not automatically give ICJ jurisdiction over disputes involving them. The ICJ gets jurisdiction only on the basis of consent of both parties.

Where does India stand vis-a-vis dispute resolution at ICJ?

  • In September 1974, India declared the matters over which it accepts the jurisdiction of the ICJ. This declaration revoked and replaced the previous declaration made in September 1959.
  • Among the matters over which India does not accept ICJ jurisdiction are: “disputes with the government of any State which is or has been a Member of the Commonwealth of Nations”, and “disputes relating to or connected with facts or situations of hostilities, armed conflicts, individual or collective actions taken in self-defence…”.
  • The declaration, which includes other exceptions as well, has been ratified by Parliament.

2 . Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana

Context: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved continuation
of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) I and II up to September, 2022, and Road
Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism Affected Areas up to March, 2023.


  • Government launched the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana on 25th December, 2000 to provide all-weather access to unconnected habitations.
  • The Ministry of Rural Development along with state governments is responsible for the implementation of PMGSY.

PMGSY – Phase I

  • PMGSY – Phase I was launched in December, 2000 as a 100 % centrally sponsored scheme with an objective to provide single all-weather road connectivity to eligible unconnected habitation of designated population size (500+ in plain areas and 250+ in North-East, hill, tribal and desert areas, 00 – 249 population in LWE districts as per Census, 2001) for overall socio-economic development of the areas.
  • Also, upgradation (to prescribed standards) of the existing roads in those Districts where all the eligible Habitations of the designated population size have been provided all-weather road connectivity was to be taken up. However, Upgradation is not central to the Programme. In Upgradation works, priority was to be given to Through Routes of the Rural Core Network, which carry more traffic.
  • Under the scheme, 1,35,436 habitations were targeted for providing road connectivity and 3.68 lakh km. for upgradation of existing rural roads (including 40 % renewal of rural roads to be funded by the States) in order to ensure full farm to market connectivity.

PMGSY – Phase II

  • The Phase II of PMGSY was approved during May, 2013.
  • While the ongoing PMGSY – I continued, under PMGSY phase II, the roads already built for village connectivity was to be upgraded to enhance rural infrastructure.
  • For the 12th Five Year Plan period a target of 50,000 Km length under PMGSY-II. 75 per cent of the cost of the upgradation was by the Centre and 25 per cent by the state.
  • For hill states, desert areas, Schedule V areas and Naxal-affected districts, 90 per cent of cost was borne by the Centre


  • The Phase III was approved by the Cabinet during July 2019.
  • It involves consolidation of Through Routes and Major Rural Links connecting habitations to Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs), Higher Secondary Schools and Hospitals. 
  • Under the PMGSY-III Scheme, it is proposed to consolidate 1,25,000 Km road length in the States.
  • The duration of the scheme is 2019-20 to 2024-25.
  • The funds would be shared in the ratio of 60:40 between the Centre and State for all States except for 8 North Eastern and 3 Himalayan States (Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh & Uttarakhand) for which it is 90:10.

3 . Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF)

Context: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved provisioning of mobile services in over 7,000 uncovered villages across five States of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Odisha at an estimated cost of ₹6,466 crore. The project will be funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) and is targeted to be completed within 18 months after the signing of the agreement.

About USOF

  • Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) is to be utilized exclusively for meeting the Universal Service Obligation.
  • USOF inflow comes from the collection of Universal Access Levy (UAL) through the license fee charged on licensee of DoT @ 5% of the adjusted gross revenue (AGR)
  • This fund is deposited in the Consolidated Fund of India and is dispatched on the approval of the Indian Parliament.


  • The New Telecom Policy (NTP) 1999 of Department of Telecom, GoI had Universal Service as one of its main objectives.
  • The NTP 1999 provided that the resources for meeting the Universal Service Obligation (USO) were to be generated through a Universal Access Levy (UAL), at a prescribed percentage of the revenue earned by the telecom licensees to be decided in consultation with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
  • Further, NTP 1999 envisaged the implementation of USO Obligation for rural and remote areas would be undertaken by all fixed service providers who shall be reimbursed from the USOF.
  • Other service providers would also be encouraged to participate in USO provision subject to technical feasibility and would be reimbursed from the USOF.
  • The Universal Service Support Policy came into effect from 01.04.2002.
  • The guidelines for universal service support policy were issued by DoT on 27th March 2002.
  • The Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Act, 2003 giving statutory status to the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) was passed by both Houses of Parliament in December 2003.
  • As per the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 (as amended in 2003, 2006), the Fund is to be utilized exclusively for meeting the Universal Service Obligation.
  • The Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications governs the fund and related provisions.


  • Enabling rural Indians to achieve their fullest potential and participate productively in the development of the nation by virtue of being effectively connected through a reliable and ubiquitous telecommunications network, access to which is within their reach and within their means.


  • Economic: Network extension & stimulate uptake of the ICT services
  • Social: Mainstreaming the underserved & un-served areas/groups by bridging the Access Gap
  • Political: to enable citizens exercise their political rights in an informed way and
  • Constitutional: Equitable distribution of the fruits of the telecom/digital revolution and fair allocation of national resource (pooled USO levy) via targeted subsidies

Major Schemes of USOF

  1. BharatNet – To Provide Broadband Connectivity to all the 2.5 lakhs (approx.) Gram Panchayats (estimated project cost Rs. 42,068 Cr)
  2. Comprehensive Telecom Development plan (CTDP) for North East Region (estimated project cost Rs. 8,121 Cr)
  3. Comprehensive Telecom Development plan (CTDP) for Islands (estimated project cost Rs. 2021 Cr)
  4. Providing Mobile services in LWE areas (estimated project cost Rs.7,330 Cr)
  5. Providing Mobile services in Aspirational & Uncovered villages (under process)
  6. Special and Innovative Projects : E-Band solution, Air Jaldi, Free space optics, WiFAR/ 4G LMLC based solutions, etc

What is AGR?

  • Telecom operators are required to pay licence fee and spectrum charges in the form of ‘revenue share’ to the Centre.
  • The revenue amount used to calculate this revenue share is termed as the AGR.
  • According to the DoT, the calculations should incorporate all revenues earned by a telecom company – including from non-telecom sources such as deposit interests and sale of assets.
  • The companies, however, have been of the view that AGR should comprise the revenues generated from telecom services only and non-telecom revenues should be kept out of it.

4 . Facts for Prelims

All India Presiding Officers’ Conference (AIPOC)

  • The All India Presiding Officers’ Conference (AIPOC), the apex body of the Legislatures in India, is celebrating its hundred years in 2021.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the 82nd All India Presiding Officers Conference (AIPOC) in Shimla.
  • The two day conference was being attended by Presiding Officers from 26 States.
  • The first conference had also taken place in Shimla in 1921.

“2+2” format talks

  • A ‘two plus two dialogue’ is a term — adopted in foreign parleys — used for installation of a dialogue mechanism between two countries’ defence and external affairs ministries.
  • To put it simply, ‘two plus two dialogue’ is an expression used to indicate that two appointed ministers from each country, will meet up to discuss the two countries’ strategic and security interests. 
  • The 2+2 format of dialogue offers a platform for the participating countries to discuss strategic and security issues together, and is indicative of not just a robust partnership, but also of a convergence in vision.
  • India’s oldest partner for this dialogue format is Japan since 2010, but this was scaled to ministerial level in 2019, when it had its first talk.
  • India and the US held their first 2+2 dialogue in 2018 when then US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and US defense secretary Jeff Mattis met their counterparts, Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman, respectively, in New Delhi. The two countries have had three talks in the format. The last was held in October 2020
  • India and Australia held its first ever 2+2 meet in September 2021
  • External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh are likely to hold their first “2+2” format talks with their Russian counterparts Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Shoygu, along with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

5. Places in News

Sabz Burj

  • Sabz Burj (“Green Dome”)is an octagonal tomb situated in Mathura Road, Nizamuddin complex, beside Humayun’s Tomb, New Delhi.
  • It has been conserved and restored over the last four years using traditional materials and building-craft techniques favoured by 16th century craftsmen.
  • It is one of Delhi’s earliest Mughal-era monuments.

Gurdwara Darbar Sahib

  • Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, also called Kartarpur Sahib, is gurdwara in Kartarpur, located in Shakargarh, Narowal District, in the Punjab province of Pakistan. 
  • It is built on the historic site where the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, settled and assembled the Sikh community after his missionary travels and lived for 18 years until his death in 1539.
  • It is one of the holiest sites in Sikhism, alongside the Golden Temple in Amritsar and Gurdwara Janam Asthan in Nankana Sahib.
  • The gurdwara is also notable for its location near the border between Pakistan and India. The shrine is visible from the Indian side of the border.
  • The Kartarpur Corridor was opened by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on 9 November 2019, the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and just days before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
  • This historic moment officially allowed Indian Sikh pilgrims rare visa-free access to the site in Pakistan.

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