Daily Current Affairs : 7th January 2021

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Collective Security Treaty organisation
  2. Hypersonic Missile
  3. Poll Expenditure
  4. CPEC
  5. Green Energy Corridor Phase 2
  6. Facts for Prelims

1 . Collective Security Treaty Organisation

Context : A Moscow-led military alliance dispatched troops to help quell mounting unrest in Kazakhstan on Thursday as the police said dozens were killed trying to storm government buildings.

About the News

  • Kazakhstan is facing its biggest crisis in decades after days of protests over rising fuel prices escalated into widespread unrest.
  • Under increasing pressure, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev appealed overnight to the Russia-domina- ted Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), which includes five other ex-Soviet states, to combat what he called “terrorist groups” that had “received extensive training abroad
  • Within hours, the alliance said the first troops had been sent — including Russian paratroopers and military units from the other CSTO members — in its first major joint action since its founding in 1999. “
  • The CSTO’s current Chairman, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, earlier announced that the alliance would agree to the request, saying Kazakhstan was facing “outside interference”.


  • Collective Security Treaty Organisation an intergovernmental military alliance in Eurasia that consists of select post-Soviet states.
  • The treaty had its origins to the Soviet Armed Forces, which was gradually replaced by the United Armed Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States. However, on 15 May 1992, six post-Soviet states belonging to the Commonwealth of Independent States—Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan—signed the Collective Security Treaty (also referred to as the Tashkent Pact or Tashkent Treaty).Three other post-Soviet states—Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Georgia—signed the next year and the treaty took effect in 1994.
  • Five years later, six of the nine—all but Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Uzbekistan—agreed to renew the treaty for five more years, and in 2002 those six agreed to create the Collective Security Treaty Organization as a military alliance

About CSTO

  • The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is a Russia-led military alliance of seven former Soviet states that was created in 2002.
  • The CSTO’s purpose is to ensure the collective defence of any member that faces external aggression.
  • It has been described by political scientists as the Eurasian counterpart of NATO, which has 29 member states, while the CSTO has just six.
  • The organization supports arms sales and manufacturing as well as military training and exercises, making the CSTO the most important multilateral defence organization in the former Soviet Union.
  • Current CSTO members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation and Tajikistan. Afghanistan and Serbia hold observer status in the CSTO.
  • The organization uses a rotating presidency system in which the state leading the CSTO changes every year.
  • Beyond mutual defence, the CSTO also coordinates efforts in fighting the illegal circulation of weapons among member states and has developed law enforcement training for its members in pursuit of these aims. Members also use the organization to counter cyber warfare, narcotics trafficking, the illegal circulation of weapons, transnational crime, and terrorism.

Benefits of Membership

  • CSTO membership means that member states are barred from joining other military alliances, limiting, for example, their relationship with NATO, members receive discounts, subsidies, and other incentives to buy Russian arms, facilitating military cooperation.
  • Most importantly, membership presumes certain key security assurances – the most significant of which is deterring military aggression by third countries. In the CSTO, aggression against one signatory is perceived as aggression against all. 


  • While the CSTO nominally provides equal standing to member states, it was clearly conceived by Russia as a multilateral institution to project its power regionally. In particular, the organization has given Russia the power to block NATO operations in the region and provided a way for Russia to contain Chinese military influence in the region. This Russian dominance of the CSTO not only weakens the organization’s legitimacy globally, it also presents a foreign policy challenge as Russian aims do not always align with other CSTO members’ interests.

Structure of CTSO

  • The Collective Security Council (CSC) is the highest body of the CSTO and comprises the heads of member states. The Council’s Chairman is the head of the country that holds the rotating chairmanship.
  • The Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs is the executive and advisory body of the CSTO. They coordinate member states’ activities in foreign policy.
  • The Council of Ministers of Defense coordinate member states in military policy, capability, and cooperation.
  • The Committee of Secretaries coordinate member states in ensuring national security.
  • The Permanent Council coordinates member states in implementing decisions made by CSTO bodies in periods between CSC sessions.
  • The Secretariat is a permanent working body of the CSTO that provides organizational, informational, analytical, and consultative support to the various CSTO bodies.
  • The Joint Staff is another permanent working body which prepares proposals on military activities.
  • The Parliamentary Assembly is an inter-parliamentary body that considers issues of cooperation in international, military, political and legal fields, and drafts proposals for the CSC and other bodies as well as parliaments of member states.

2 . Hypersonic Missile

Context : North Korea has successfully tested a hypersonic missile, state media reported on Thursday, in the first major weapons test by the nuclear-armed nation this year.


  • This was the second reported test of what Pyongyang claimed were hypersonic gliding missiles, as it pursues the sophisticated technology despite international sanctions and condemnation.
  • The missile fired on Wednesday carried a “hypersonic gliding warhead” that “precisely hit a target 700 km away”, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
  • The warhead also demonstrated a “new” capability, moving 120 km laterally after it detached from the launcher to strike the target, it added. “The successive successes in the test launches in the hypersonic missile sector have strategic significance
  • Hypersonic missiles were listed among the “top priority” tasks for strategic weapons in North Korea’s five-year plan, and it announced its first test — of the Hwasong-8 — in September last year

What are hypersonic weapons?

  • They are manoeuvrable weapons that can fly at speeds in excess of Mach 5, five times the speed of sound.
  • The speed of sound is Mach 1, and speeds upto Mach 5 are supersonic and speeds above Mach 5 are hypersonic.
  • Ballistic missiles, though much faster, follow a fixed trajectory and travel outside the atmosphere to re-enter only near impact. On the contrary, hypersonic weapons travel within the atmosphere and can manoeuvre midway which combined with their high speeds makes their detection and interception extremely difficult. This means that radars and air defences cannot detect them till they are very close and little time to react.
  • According to the latest memo of the Congressional Research Service (CRS), ‘Hypersonic Weapons: Background and Issues for Congress’ of October 2021, there are two classes of hypersonic weapons
    • hypersonic glide vehicles (HGV)
    • hypersonic cruise missiles (HCM).
  • HGVs are launched from a rocket before gliding to a target while HCMs are powered by high-speed, air-breathing engines, or scramjets, after acquiring their target.
  • Hypersonic missiles are a new class of threat because they are capable both of manoeuvring and of flying faster than 5,000 kms per hour, which would enable such missiles to penetrate most missile defences and to further compress the timelines for response by a nation under attack.

About Hypersonic Missiles

  • Hypersonic missiles, like traditional ballistic missiles which can deliver nuclear weapons, can fly more than five times the speed of sound.
  • Ballistic missiles fly high into space in an arc to reach their target, while a hypersonic flies on a trajectory low in the atmosphere, potentially reaching a target more quickly.
  • A hypersonic missile is maneuverable (like the much slower, often subsonic cruise missile), making it harder to track and defend against.
  • While countries like the United States have developed systems designed to defend against cruise and ballistic missiles, the ability to track and take down a hypersonic missile remains a question.
  • Hypersonic missiles can be used to deliver conventional warheads, more rapidly and precisely than other missiles.
  • Their capacity to deliver nuclear weapons could add to a country’s threat, increasing the danger of a nuclear conflict.

Status of Development

  • Russia, China, the United States and North Korea have all test-launched hypersonic missiles.
  • France, Germany, Australia, India and Japan are working on hypersonics, and Iran, Israel and South Korea have conducted basic research on the technology, according to a recent report by the US Congressional Research Service (CRS).

Difference between Hypersonic Missile, Cruise and ballistic missiles, ICBM and Anti satellite Missiles

  • Hypersonic missiles : Hypersonic missiles travel at speeds faster than 3,800 miles per hour or 6,115 km per hour, much faster than other ballistic and cruise missiles. They can deliver conventional or nuclear payloads within minutes. They are highly manoeuvrable and do not follow a predictable arc as they travel. They are said to combine the speed of ballistic missiles with the manoeuvring capabilities of cruise missiles. The speed makes them hard to track compared to traditional missile tech.
  • Cruise missiles : A cruise missile either locates its target or has a preset target. It navigates using a guidance system — such as inertial or beyond visual range satellite GPS guidance — and comprises a payload and aircraft propulsion system. Cruise missiles can be launched from land, sea or air for land attacks and anti-shipping purposes, and can travel at subsonic, supersonic and hypersonic speeds. Since they stay relatively close to the surface of the earth, they cannot be detected easily by anti-missile systems, and are designed to carry large payloads with high precision.
  • Ballistic missiles, : Ballistic missiles, meanwhile, are launched directly into the upper layers of the earth’s atmosphere. They travel outside the atmosphere, where the warhead detaches from the missile and falls towards a predetermined target. They are rocket-propelled self-guided weapons systems which can carry conventional or nuclear munitions. They can be launched from aircraft, ships and submarines, and land.
  • Intercontinental ballistic missiles or ICBMs are guided missiles which can deliver nuclear and other payloads. ICBMs have a minimum range of 5,500 km, with maximum ranges varying from 7,000 to 16,000 km. Only a handful of countries, including Russia, United States, China, France, India and North Korea, have ICBM capabilities. In 2018, India successfully test-fired nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni-V, with a strike range of 5,000 km, from the Abdul Kalam Island.
  • Anti-satellite missiles : Anti-satellite missiles (ASAT) can incapacitate or destroy satellites for strategic military purposes. Several nations possess operational ASAT systems. Other anti-satellite weapons include ground-based jammers to disrupt the signal from navigation and communications satellites. The United States, Russia, and China are among countries pursuing anti-satellite weapons. India had successfully test fired an ASAT on 27 March last year, knocking off one of its own satellites 300 km in space.

3 . Poll Expenditure

Context : Ahead of Assembly polls in five States, the expenditure limit for candidates for Lok Sabha constituencies was increased depending on the State, while the spending limit for Assembly constituencies was also hiked


  • The EC had formed a committee in 2020 to study the spending limit.
  • “The committee invited suggestions from political parties, chief electoral officers and election observers.
  • The committee found that there has been increase in number of electors and Cost Inflation Index since 2014 substantially. It also factored in the changing modes of campaigning, which is gradually shifting to virtual campaign
  • The committee recommended enhancing the limit after taking into account the “demand from political parties” and the “increase in electors” from 834 million in 2014 to 936 million in 2021, as well as the increase in the Cost Inflation Index by 32.08% from 2014 to 2021-22
  • The Commission has accepted the recommendations of the committee and has decided to enhance the existing election expenditure limit for candidates

Details of the Increase in Expenditure Limit

  • Expenditure limit for candidates for Lok Sabha constituencies was increased to ₹75 lakh from ₹54 lakh and ₹95 lakh from ₹70 lakh, depending on the State, while the spending limit for Assembly constituencies was hiked from ₹20 lakh to ₹28 lakh and ₹28 lakh to ₹40 lakh, the Election Commission
  • For the upcoming Assembly elections, the enhanced amount of ₹40 lakh would apply in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab and ₹28 lakh in Goa and Manipur
  • Apart from a 10% increase in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the last major revision in spending limits for candidates was carried out in 2014.

Need for Campaign expenditure Limits

  • Limits on campaign expenditure are meant to provide a level-playing field for everyone contesting elections.
  • It ensures that a candidate can’t win only because she is rich.
  • The 255th Report of the Law Commission on electoral reforms argued that unregulated or under-regulated election financing could lead to “lobbying and capture, where a sort of quid pro quo transpires between big donors and political parties/candidates”.

Previous Ceiling Limits

  • The Election Commission (EC) imposes limits on campaign expenditure incurred by a candidate, not political parties.
  • Expenditure by a Lok Sabha candidate was capped between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 70 lakh, depending on the state
  • In Assembly elections, the ceiling is between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 28 lakh.
  • This includes money spent by a political party or a supporter towards the candidate’s campaign. However, expenses incurred either by a party or the leader of a party for propagating the party’s programme are not covered.
  • Candidates must mandatorily file a true account of election expenses with the EC. An incorrect account, or expenditure beyond the ceiling can attract disqualification for up to three years under Section 10A of The Representation of the People Act, 1951.

Effectiveness of cap

  • There is evidence to suggest that candidates may be spending beyond their ceilings. An analysis of expenses for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections by the nonprofit Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) found that even though candidates complained that the EC’s limits were too low and unrealistic, as many as 176 MPs (33%) had declared election expenses that were less than 50% of the limit in their constituency — indicating that candidates may not be providing true accounts of their poll expenses to the EC.

4 . China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

About China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

  • CPEC is a part of China’s ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) Initiative to link China with Europe
  • It is a massive bilateral project to improve infrastructure within Pakistan for better trade with China and to further integrate the countries of the region.
  • The 3,000 km-long China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) consists of highways, railways, and pipelines.
  • CPEC eventually aims at linking the city of Gwadar in South Western Pakistan to China’s North Western region Xinjiang through a vast network of highways and railways.
  • Xinjiang borders the countries of Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, and the ancient Silk Road ran through its territory.) This would reduce the time and cost of transporting goods and energy such as natural gas to China by circumventing the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea.
  • The project will be financed by heavily-subsidised loans, that will be disbursed to the Government of Pakistan by Chinese banks.
  • CPEC has been compared to the Marshall Plan for the rebuilding of post-World War II Europe in its potential impact on the region, and numerous countries have shown interest in participating in the initiative.
China in talks with Taliban to expand CPEC

India’s concerns

  • Passes through PoK : CPEC is bound to pass through Gilgit-Baltistan. Gilgit-Baltistan belongs to the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Endorsement of the CPEC, will severely undermine its territorial sovereignty and will shake the foundations of Indian diplomacy in the region.
  • Influence in Indian Ocean : CPEC rests on a Chinese plan to secure and shorten its supply lines through Gwadar with an enhanced presence in the Indian Ocean. Hence, it is widely believed that upon CPEC’s fruition, an extensive Chinese presence will undermine India’s influence in the Indian Ocean.
  • India having problem with CPEC stems from India’s suspicion of OBOR.- OBOR envisage to create an economic belt connecting China’s main cities with Central Asia, West Asia, Mediterranean region and ultimately to Europe.
    • OBOR have two components ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ (economic belt on land) and Maritime Silk Road (economic belt on water). Both the components of OBOR involves passing through India and passing around India. India is always suspicious of China. India argues that through this China will encroach India’s influence areas like Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, East Africa Coast Countries etc.
    • India further contends that China’s OBOR will further strengthen China’s String of Pearl :  -It is strategic tactic in which China will develop base around India like in Sri lanka, East Africa, Maldives, Bangladesh etc. which can have both strategic purpose if India ever goes to war with China. Plus it also reduces India’s influence in these areas.
  • It is also being contended that if CPEC were to successfully transform the Pakistan economy that could be a “red rag” for India which will remain at the receiving end of a wealthier and stronger Pakistan.

What was the original Silk Road?

  • The original Silk Road arose during the westward expansion of China’s Han Dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE), which forged trade networks throughout what are today the Central Asian countries of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as modern-day India and Pakistan to the south.
  • Those routes extended more than four thousand miles to Europe.
  • Central Asia was thus the epicenter of one of the first waves of globalization, connecting eastern and western markets, spurring immense wealth, and intermixing cultural and religious traditions.
  • Valuable Chinese silk, spices, jade, and other goods moved west while China received gold and other precious metals, ivory, and glass products.
  • Use of the route peaked during the first millennium, under the leadership of first the Roman and then Byzantine Empires, and the Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE) in China.

China’s plans for its New Silk Road

  • The plan is two-pronged: the overland Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road- 
  • The two were collectively referred to first as the One Belt, One Road initiative but eventually became the Belt and Road Initiative.
  • The project involves creating a vast network of railways, energy pipelines, highways, and streamlined border crossings.

5 . Green Energy Corridor Phase 2

Contex5 : The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, approved the scheme on Green Energy Corridor (GEC) Phase-II

About the Scheme

  • GEC Phase 2 will help Intra-State Transmission System (InSTS) for addition of approximately 10,750 circuit kilometres (ckm) of transmission lines and approx. 27,500 Mega Volt-Amperes (MVA) transformation capacity of substations.
  • The scheme will facilitate grid integration and power evacuation of approximately 20 GW of Renewable Energy (RE) power projects in seven States namely, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
  • This scheme is in addition to GEC-Phase-I which is already under implementation in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu for grid integration and power evacuation of approx. 24 GW of RE power and is expected to be completed by 2022. The scheme is for addition of 9700 ckm of transmission lines and 22600 MVA capacity of substations having estimated cost of transmission projects of Rs. 10,141.68 crore with Central Financial Assistance (CFA) of Rs. 4056.67 crore.


  • The scheme will help in achieving the target of 450 GW installed RE capacity by 2030.
  • The scheme will also contribute to long term energy security of the country and promote ecologically sustainable growth by reducing carbon footprint. It will generate large direct & indirect employment opportunities for both skilled and unskilled personnel in power and other related sectors.

6 . Facts for Prelims

 Treaties and agreements on nuclear bans other than NPT

  • The NPT is joined by the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT), the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I), which had the Interim Agreement and Protocol on Limitation of Strategic Offensive Weapons Offensive Arms, the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II), the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties (I and II), the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)

HJT-16 Kiran

  • The HAL HJT-16 Kiran is an Indian two-seat intermediate jet-powered trainer aircraft designed and manufactured by aircraft company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited

Open Rock Museum

  •  India’s first open rock museum inaugurated at the campus of the CSIR-National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI)in Hyderabad
  • About 46 different types of rocks of ages ranging from 3.3 billion years to around 55 million years, have been displayed in a garden with descriptions giving their economic and scientific importance.
  • The rocks have been sourced from Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir and others.

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