Daily Current Affairs: 29 October 2021

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics covered

  1. AGNI 5 Missile
  2. Climate Justice
  3. Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985.
  5. Facts for Prelims
  6. Places in News

1 . AGNI 5 Missile

Context: India successfully test-fires surface-to-surface ballistic missile Agni-5. In a major boost to its military might, India on Wednesday successfully test-fired surface-to-surface ballistic missile Agni-5 that can strike targets at ranges up to 5,000 km with a very high degree of accuracy.


  • India began testing the Agni series of missiles in 1989 with the first test for Agni 1, an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile, with a range of around 1,000 km. At that time only the US, the erstwhile Soviet Union, China, France and Israel, had IRBM technology.
  • Since then, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) labs have continued to work on it, bringing the latest available Agni 5 to its present capability.
  • In addition to the IRBM-capable nations, only North Korea and the UK have ICBM technology at the moment.

About AGNI 5

  • Agni 5 is India’s long-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile, which can hit a target with a precision that is 5,000 km away. This range puts almost the entire China within the missile’s target range.
  • Though officially an Inter-continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) needs a missile to have a range of at least 5,500 km, the Agni 5 is India’s closest contender for an ICBM, as it can reach countries across other continents, including parts of Africa and Europe.
  • Though the government has claimed that it has a maximum range of around 5,000 km, several reports suggest that it can hit targets as distant as 8,000 km.
  • The nuclear capable missile can carry a warhead of around 1,500 kg and has a launch weight of 50,000 kg, making it one of the most potent missiles in the country.

The Agni Missile Family

  • The name Agni originates from the Sanskrit word for fire and is taken in the context of Agni being one of the five primary elements of Panch Mahabhutas. Others are Prithvi (Earth), Aapa (Water), Vayu (Air), Akash (Space). Of these names, Prithvi and Akash have been given to missiles developed by the DRDO.
  • The development of Agni missiles started in early 1980 under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme spearheaded by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the central figure in India’s missile and space programmes, who also served as the 11th President of India.
  • Medium to Intercontinental versions of Agni missiles systems 1 to 5 have varying ranges, starting from 700 km from Agni-1 to 5,000 km and above for Agni-5.
  • In June this year, the DRDO, successfully tested the new generation nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni P, which is an advanced variant of the Agni class of missiles. Agni P is a canisterised missile with a range capability between 1,000 and 2,000 km.


  • An intercontinental ballistic missile is a missile with a minimum range of 5,500 kilometres primarily designed for nuclear weapons delivery. Similarly, conventional, chemical, and biological weapons can also be delivered with varying effectiveness, but have never been deployed on ICBMs
  • Russia, the United States, China, France, India, the United Kingdom, and North Korea are the only countries that have operational ICBMs.
  • CBMs are differentiated by having greater range and speed than other ballistic missiles:
    • intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs)
    • medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs)
    • short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs)
    • tactical ballistic missiles (TBMs).
  • Short and medium-range ballistic missiles are known collectively as the theatre ballistic missiles.
  • Modern ICBMs typically carry multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs), each of which carries a separate nuclear warhead, allowing a single missile to hit multiple targets.

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles vs Hypersonic Glide Vehicle

  • A hypersonic glide vehicle is launched by a rocket which moves in the Earth’s lower orbit, at more than five times to 25 times the speed of sound.
  • The vehicle is capable of carrying nuclear payloads, which gives the launching country the strategic capacity to attack almost any target across the world.
  • Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, which have a range of over 5,500 km, have existed since around World War II. These missiles, meant to carry nuclear payloads, have the capacity to carry several warheads.
  • While an ICBM follows a parabolic trajectory, which mean it goes up and then comes down in a high arc—like when you throw up a ball, only much higher, further and faster—a hypersonic glide vehicle orbits the earth at a lower height, and is manoeuvrable. The ability to change track or target, mid-trajectory, along with the speed, makes them tougher to track and defend against.
  • According to a report in 2017 by Rand Corporation, the global policy think tank specialising in defence, hypersonic missiles can travel approximately at 5,000 to 25,000 km per hour, which makes them six to over 25 times faster than modern commercial aircraft. They fly at the heights of a few tens and 100 km. The mix of the high altitude, high speed and the ability to be manoeuvred makes them challenging to the best missile defenses now envisioned and, until the last minutes of flight, unpredictable as to their targets”.
  • According to the report hypersonic missile’s capability gives them both offensive and defensive advantages. The manoeuvrability of such missiles can potentially provide them to use “in-flight updates to attack a different target than originally planned” and the “ability to fly at unpredictable trajectories, these missiles will hold extremely large areas at risk throughout much of their flights”.

2 . Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985.

Context: The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has proposed certain changes to some provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985.

About NDPS Act

  • The NDPS Act, 1985 is the principal legislation through which the state regulates the operations of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
  • It provides a stringent framework for punishing offences related illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances through imprisonments and forfeiture of property.

Drugs banned under NDPS Act

  • The NDPS Act says that “narcotic drug” means “coca leaf, cannabis (hemp), opium, poppy straw and includes all manufactured drugs”.
  • Further, “psychotropic substance” refers to “any substance, natural or synthetic, or any natural material or any salt or preparation of such substance or material included in the list of psychotropic substances specified in the Schedule”. The said schedule is appended at the end of the Act.
  • The aim of the NDPS Act is to prohibit “the manufacture, production, trade, use, etc. of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances”, except for medical or scientific purposes.

Punishment for Possession / Use of drugs under NDPS Act

  • Punishment prescribed under the NDPS Act is based on the quantity of drugs seized.
  • Following amendments, it “grades punishment into three categories depending on the quantity of drugs seized and also provides for judicial discretion as far as the severity of punishment is concerned”.
  • Punishment for the cultivation of any cannabis plant may extend to rigorous imprisonment for up to 10 years and can also involve a fine which may extend to Rs 1 lakh.
  • Possession of a commercial quantity of cannabis is to be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term that “shall not be less than 10 years but which may extend to 20 years” while a fine “which shall not be less than one lakh rupees but which may extend to two lakh rupees” can also be imposed with the court authorised to also “impose a fine exceeding two lakh rupees”.
  • In Section 27, the Act also deals with punishment for consumption of “any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance”, laying down that when the drug consumed is “cocaine, morphine, diacetylmorphine or any other narcotic drug or any psychotropic substance”, the punishment would involve “rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to twenty thousand rupees”.
  • For any other drug not included in the above list, the punishment will be for up to six months, and can include a fine of up to Rs 10,000.

What is Reverse Burden of Proof

  • Innocent unless proved guilty is one of the basic principles of criminal law but, as noted by the Supreme Court, NDPS Act is among the statutes that casts a reverse burden on the accused.
  • In reverse when the onus of burden of proof is reversed, it creates a situation where the accused, now presumed guilty must adduce evidence beyond reasonable doubt to prove his innocence and be granted an acquittal.

Key amendments suggested

  • Ministry has sought decriminalising possession of small quantities of drugs for personal consumption. It has suggested amendments to the NDPS Act to treat those who use drugs or are dependent on them as victims, to be referred for de-addiction and rehabilitation, and not sentenced to jail.
  • Currently, the NDPS Act only adopts a reformative approach towards addicts. It gives addicts (or dependents) immunity from prosecution and imprisonment (if found guilty) if they volunteer for treatment and rehabilitation. However, there’s no provision for relief or exemption for, say, first-time users or recreational users.

3 . Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)

Context: Key lawmakers continue to voice their support for a sanctions waiver for India for its purchase of the S-400 missile defence system from Russia. India is likely to begin taking delivery of the S-400 in November, potentially activating U.S. sanctions under a 2017 law, Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).


  • In October 2018, India signed a USD 5 billion deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 air defence missile systems. The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system
  • US has urged all its allies and partners including India to forgo transactions with Russia as that might trigger sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

About Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)

  • The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) is a U.S. federal law
  • Ultimate goal of the act is to prevent revenue from flowing to the adversary countries.
  • Countries included under the act are Iran, North Korea, and Russia hence the Act aims at taking punitive measures against Russia, Iran, and North Korea


  • Section 235 of the CAATSA legislation stipulates 12 kinds of punitive sanctions that the U.S. could place on a country conducting significant transactions in defence, energy, oil pipelines and cybersecurity technology with any of the U.S.’s “adversaries”, and according to the Act, the U.S. President may impose “five or more of the sanctions described”.
  • These measures include export sanctions, cancellation of loans from U.S. and international financial institutions, ban on investments and procurement, restrictions on foreign exchange and banking transactions, and a visa and travel ban on officials associated with any entity carrying out the sanctioned transactions.

Sanction Waiver / Exit clause

  • There is also and exit clause in CAATSA, which states that “The [US] President may waive the application of [CAATSA] sanctions if the President determines that such a waiver is in the national security interest of the United States.”
  • In August 2018, the U.S. Congress also modified the waiver clause to allow the President to certify that a country is “cooperating with the United States Government on other matters that are critical to United States’ strategic national security interests”.

CAATSA and India

  • India and the U.S. have had a growing defence relationship — from “near zero” in U.S. arms sales to India in 2008 to $15 billion in 2019, as per the State Department.
  • India was designated a “Major Defence Partner” of the U.S. in 2016 and it was granted Strategic Trade Authorization tier 1 status in 2018.
  • These designations allowed India easier access to sensitive U.S. defence technology.
  • With this context in mind, then Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, joined by lawmakers from both parties who favoured a close U.S.-India relationship, made a strong case on for a CAATSA waiver for countries like India (and also Vietnam and Indonesia), which had historically bought Russian arms but were now buying more U.S. arms.

Can India be considered for the waiver

  • US may consider providing a waiver for India as a militarily stronger India is in the U.S.’s interests, and that India cannot completely drop its traditional dependence on Russian defence equipment without being weakened.

4 . GST Compensation

Context : The Union Government released ₹44,000 crore to the States and the Union Territories as back-to-back loans in lieu of their GST compensation dues, thus completing the transfer of an estimated compensation shortfall of ₹1.59 lakh crore through this mechanism this financial year

About GST

  • The Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016, was the law which created the mechanism for levying a nationwide GST.
  • The adoption of the GST was made possible by the States ceding almost all their powers to impose local-level indirect taxes and agreeing to let the prevailing multiplicity of imposts be subsumed under the GST.
  • The States would receive the SGST (State GST) component of the GST, and a share of the IGST (Integrated GST).
  • The law had a provision to compensate the States for loss of revenue arising out of implementation of the GST.

What is the GST compensation?

  • GST compensation is the amount that was agreed to be paid for the revenue shortfalls arising from the transition to the new indirect taxes regime
  • The computation of the shortfall, the mechanism for which is spelt out in Section 7 of the GST (Compensation to States) Act, 2017 is done annually by projecting a revenue assumption based on 14% compounded growth from the base year’s (2015-2016) revenue and calculating the difference between that figure and the actual GST collections in that year.
  • Compensation would be provided from a pooled GST Compensation Fund for a period of five years and is set to end in 2022. This corpus, in turn, is funded through a compensation cess that is levied on so-called ‘demerit’ goods. Demerit good is “a good or service whose consumption is considered unhealthy, degrading, or otherwise socially undesirable due to the perceived negative effects on the consumers themselves

5. Facts for Prelims

Sero Survey

  • Sero-surveys use tests that examine the liquid part of blood, or ‘serum’, not nose, throat and mouth fluid. And these tests detect an immune response to the virus material, not SARS-CoV-2 virus material itself.
  • Upon virus infection, the body comes up with many immune responses. One of these is making proteins called antibodies that stick (or ‘bind’) to the virus – these show up within a few days after infection. The infection itself typically disappears after a couple of weeks.
  • But the anti-virus antibodies, especially the IgG kind, stay around in the blood for a fairly long time, at least for months.
  • These antibodies are made whether the infected person was asymptomatic or had any actual illness. And of course, nobody who has not encountered the virus will have these particular antibodies.
  • So, if a person was infected, virus material would be detectable in their nose, throat and mouth fluid for a couple of weeks at most.
  • If testing was not done in that time, we would never know if the person had been infected by the virus.
  • But IgG antibodies stay in the blood of such a person for a long time. So, if we test the blood for these antibodies at any point and find them (making the person ‘sero-positive’), we can say that this person had indeed been infected in the recent weeks/months.
  • Sero-surveys test blood samples of healthy people for anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies.
  • Everybody cannot be tested, only a few people chosen at random are tested.
  • The results are an estimate of the proportion of people who have been infected in the past.
  • This information gives a wide-angle picture over time of how the virus has spread in the community.

Sero surveys in India

  • So far, at least six sero-surveys have been reported from India.
  • The results of the sixth sero survey in Delhi are out, revealing that more than 90 per cent of those covered in the national capital have developed antibodies against coronavirus. 


  • Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday announced the parent company’s name is being changed to “Meta” .
  • Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp will keep their names under the rebranding.

6 . Places in News

Gorno Badakhshan

The Kuhistani Badakhshan Autonomous Region  also known as Gorno-Badakhshan, is an autonomous region in eastern Tajikistan, in the Pamir Mountains, which makes up 45% of the land area of the country, but only 3% of its population.

Why in News?

  •  China will finance the construction of an outpost for a special forces unit of Tajikistan’s police near the Tajik-Afghan border.
  • The post will be located in Tajikistan’s eastern Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province in the Pamir mountains, which border China’s Xinjiang province as well as the northeastern Afghan province of Badakhshan.
  • The plan to build the post comes amid tension between the Dushanbe government and Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers.
  • China is a major investor in Tajikistan and Beijing has also acted as a donor on several occasions, handing over, for example, a new parliament building free of charge.

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