Indiathinkers Daily Current Affairs: 9th January 2019: The Hindu+PIB

The following compilation has been made keeping in mind the need of the UPSC IAS exam. Each and every topic which has been included in this compilation is taken from very authentic and relevant source including The Hindu, The Indian Express, Business Standard, Press Information Bureau, etc.

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As per the evolving pattern of the UPSC IAS prelims and mains exam each and every topic has been handpicked keeping in mind the syllabus of the exam.

Iran Nuclear Deal Framework

Context: Iran has rejected the new talks regarding quitting of 2015 nuclear accord with Iran that Washington withdrew from in 2018 and working for a new deal an issue that has been at the heart of rising tensions between Washington and Tehran.


About 2015 Nuclear Accord with Iran The Iran nuclear deal framework was a preliminary framework agreement reached in 2015 between the Islamic Republic of Iran and a group of world powers: the P5+1 (the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, and China—plus Germany) and the European Union. Based on this April 2015 Iran nuclear deal framework, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and the P5+1 and EU was announced onOn July 14, 2015inVienna. What has been the terms and conditions under JCPOA Under JCPOA, Iran accepted the condition to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%, and reduce by about 2/3rd the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years.  Further, for the next 15 years Iran will only enrich uranium up to 3.67%. It was also agreed to by Iran to not to build any new heavy-water facilities for the same period of time.  As per the agreement, Uranium-enrichment activities will be limited to a single facility using first-generation centrifuges for 10 years. Other facilities will be converted to avoid proliferation risks.  In order to monitor and verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will have regular access to all Iranian nuclear facilities.  According to the agreement, in return for verifiably abiding by its commitments, Iran will receive relief from U.S., European Union, and United Nations Security Council nuclear-related sanctions. Timeline with respect to JCPOA On 13 October 2017 U.S. President Trump announced that the US would not make the certification provided for under U.S. domestic law, but stopped short of terminating the deal. Later, IAEA Director Yukiya Amano stated (in March 2018) that the organization has verified that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments. On 30 April 2018 the United States and Israel said that Iran had not disclosed a past covert nuclear weapons program to the IAEA, as required by the 2015 deal. On 8 May 2018 Trump announced the withdrawal of United States from JCPOA, following which, the EU enacted an updated blocking statute on 7 August 2018 in order to nullify US sanctions on countries trading with Iran. In November 2018 U.S. sanctions came back into effect with an intention to force Iran to dramatically alter its policies, including its support for militant groups in the region and its development of ballistic missiles. In May 2019 the IAEA had certified that Iran was abiding by the main terms of the deal. Although questions were raised about how many advanced centrifuges Iran was allowed to have, as that was only loosely defined in the deal. On 1 July 2019 Iran announced that it had breached the limit set on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium, which the IAEA confirmed. On 5 January 2020, in the aftermath of the Baghdad Airport Airstrike that targeted and killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, Iran declared that it would no longer abide by the limitations of the deal but would continue to coordinate with the IAEA, leaving open the possibility of resuming compliance.

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2019 was 7th warmest year since 1901

Context: Through its latest reports IMD hints at global warming raising average temperatures.

2019 was 7th warmest year since 1901; indiathinkers

What does IMD’s calculations says? During the year, the annual mean surface air temperature  was +0.36 degree Celsius above average (defined as the mean temperature from 1980-2010). The highest warming observed over India was during 2016, 0.71 degree Celsius above the mean. While 2018 was the 6th warmest in India with 0.41 degree Celsius above the mean, 2017 was 0.55 degree Celsius warmer. Though the rise in average temperatures over India in 2019 was the lowest since 2016,the year that went by was the 7th warmest, since record keeping commenced in 1901. According to the World Meteorological Organisation, the rise in global mean surface temperature during 2019 ( January to October) was +1.10 degree Celsius. Who were the main contributors for the warming this year? According to the IMD report titled “Climate Summary”, the main contributors to the warming this year were temperatures in the pre-monsoon (March-May) and monsoon seasons (June-September). 2019 was also characterised by high rainfall, which was 9% over what is normal for a year. This was due to the monsoon rains (June-September) being 10% over its normal, and the northeast monsoon rains being 9% over its normal. About Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) The India Meteorological Department (IMD) is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India. It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology. IMD has its headquarters in Delhi and operates hundreds of observation stations across India and Antarctica. Its regional offices are at Mumbai, Kolkata, Nagpur and Pune. IMD is also one of the six Regional Specialised Meteorological Centres of the World Meteorological Organization which has the responsibility for forecasting, naming and distribution of warnings for tropical cyclones in the Northern Indian Ocean region, including the Malacca Straits, the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf.

MILAN 2020

Context: After successfully hosting the International Fleet Review (IFR) in Feb 2016, the City of Destiny Visakhapatnam is gearing up to host another International Naval event ‘MILAN’ in March 2020 About MILAN 2020 MILAN 2020 is a multilateral naval exercise which is aimed to enhance professional interaction between friendly foreign navies and learn from each other’s strengths and best practices in the maritime domain. 


Theme:  ‘Synergy Across the Seas’ The Exercise would provide an excellent opportunity for Operational Commanders of friendly foreign navies to interact with each other in areas of mutual interest. 41 nations from South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa and Europe that share defence cooperation with India have been invited for the drill.  The countries to whom invitations have been sent areIndonesia, France, Mozambique, Sudan, Israel, Qatar, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, Somalia, Kenya, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Myanmar, New Zealand, USA, Tanzania, Comoros, Maldives, Brunei, Philippines, Japan, UK, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Mauritius, Cambodia, Singapore, South Korea, South Africa, Kuwait, Iran, Madagascar, Bangladesh, Russia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Bahrain, UAEandSeychelles.

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India’s recent International MoUs

Context: India has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) with a number of nations in various fields. The details are as below:

Memorandum of Understanding; INDIATHINKERS

India and Mongolia on Cooperation in the Exploration and Uses of Outer Space for Peaceful and Civilian Purposes

This Agreement shall enable pursuing the following potential interest areas of cooperation such as, 

  • Space science, technology and applications including remote sensing of the earth; 
  • Satellite communication and satellite based navigation; 
  • Space science and planetary exploration; 
  • Use of spacecraft and space systems and ground system; and 
  • Application of space technology.

Cooperation with and the Government of Mongolia through this Agreement would lead to develop a joint activity in the field of application of space technologies for the benefit of humanity. 

It will also give impetus to the exploration of newer research activities and application possibilities in the field of remote sensing of the earth; satellite communication; satellite navigation; space science and exploration of outer space.

Memorandum of Understanding between India and Sweden on cooperation in Polar Science

India and Sweden are both signatories to the Antarctic Treaty and to the Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty on Environmental Protection

Sweden as one of the eight “Arctic States” is one of the Member State in the Arctic Council whereas India has the Observer Status in the Arctic Council. Sweden has a vigorous scientific program in the Polar Regions, both in Arctic and Antarctic. India likewise, has sustained scientific research programs in both the Polar Regions as well as in the oceanic realm. 

The collaboration between India and Sweden in polar science will enable sharing of the expertise available with both countries.

Memorandum of Understanding between India and United Kingdom for Enabling Energy Self Sufficiency for Indian Railways

The parties agree for Energy planning for Indian Railways i.e. Solar & Wind Energy sector, Adopting energy efficiency practices, Enabling Fuel efficiency, Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure deployment, Battery operated Shunting Locomotives. 

Capacity development like training programmes, industrial visits, field visits etc. or any other form co-operation may be approved in writing by the Participants.

The major objective of the programme is to support structural reforms and the integration of renewable energy into the electricity grid. To be more specific, it aims to achieve more sustainable and inclusive economic growth, better energy security and reduced carbon emissions.

The MoUs/ MoCs provide a platform for Indian Railways to interact and share the latest developments and knowledge in the railway sector and facilitate exchange of technical experts, reports and technical documents, training and seminars/workshops focusing on specific technology areas like Renewable Energy and other interactions for knowledge sharing.

Memorandum of Cooperation between India and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) on cooperation in the field of Health

The Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) covers the following areas of cooperation :-

  • To reduce maternal, neonatal and child morbidity and mortality, improve key nutrition outcomes, by improving the reach, coverage and quality of essential primary health, immunization and nutrition services.
  • To increase the basket of choice and quality for family planning methods, specially for reversible methods, and increase access amongst younger women.

  • To reduce the burden of select infectious diseases [TB, Visceral Leishmaniasis (VL), Lymphatic Filariasis(LF)].

  • To strengthen health systems, including aspects such as budget utilization, management and skills of human resources for health, digital health, strengthening supply chains and monitoring systems.

Ratification of Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement between India and France

The Agreement represents a major milestone in enhancing people-to-people contacts, fostering mobility of students, academics, researchers and skilled professionals and strengthening cooperation on issues related to irregular migration and human trafficking between the two sides. 

The Agreement is a testimony to India’s rapidly expanding multi-faceted relationship with France and symbolizes the increasing trust and confidence between the two sides.

The Agreement is initially valid for a period of seven years, incorporates provision for automatic renewal and a monitoring mechanism through a Joint Working Group.

North East Natural Gas Pipeline Grid

Context: Cabinet has recently given its approval for the Capital Grant as Viability Gap Funding to Indradhanush Gas Grid Limited for setting up the North East Natural Gas Pipeline Grid.

North-East Natural Gas Pipeline Grid; Indiathinkers

About the Project

The North East Gas Grid project of Indradhanush Gas Grid Limited with viability Gap Funding/ Capital Grant at 60% of the estimated cost ofRs 9265 crore (Including interest during construction). Quantum of VGF would be capped at60% of estimated project costand would not be linked with upward capital cost variation.

MoPNG shall identify milestones for major activities for this project and link the same for releases of capital grant of the project. Indradhanush Gas Grid Limited (IGGL), a joint venture company of five CPSEs (IOCL, ONGC, GAIL, OIL and NRL) has been incorporated on 10.08.2018 to develop and operate Natural gas pipeline grid in North-East region.

For effective monitoring of the project implementation, a Committee comprising of officials from Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Development of North East Region, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, and Department of Fertilizers, may be formed, which would periodically review the progress in implementation of the project and take steps to smoothen out any issues in execution.

About the pipeline

Total length of pipeline is 1656 KM and tentative project cost is Rs 9265 crore. As per the plan, Gas Pipeline Grid would be developed in the eight states of the North-Eastern region i.e. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.

What are the Socio-Economic and Environmental Benefits associated with the project? The project will lead to the development of industrial climate in eight states of the north-eastern region i.e.Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, SikkimandTripura.

There will be a reduction in the usage of kerosene, wood etc. due to increased usage of environment friendly fuel natural gas thereby improving the environment in the region. There will also be an improvement in the standard of living of peoples living in the region. It will boost Exploration & Production activities and connect regional gas sources with pipeline network for early monetisation of natural resources in the region. Further, the possibility of installing bottling plants for LPG can be explored for reducing transportation cost. Uninterrupted supply of LPG and other value-added products can be ensured in the region which will bring energy security to the people in the area.

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CCI Releases ‘Market Study on E-commerce in India: Key Findings and Observations’

Context: Competition Commission of India released the report titled ‘Market Study on E-commerce in India: Key Findings and Observations’.

Competition Commission of India, Indiathinkers

About the Report The report released presents the key trends that are identified and also discusses the issues that may, directly or indirectly, have a bearing on competition, or may hinder realization of the full pro-competitive potential of e-commerce.  These include the issues of lack of platform neutrality, unfair platform-to-business contract terms, exclusive contracts between online marketplace platforms and sellers/service providers, platform price parity restrictions and deep discounts. The Market Study on E-commerce in India (‘the study’) was initiated by the CCI in April 2019 with a view to better understand the functioning of e-commerce in India and its implications for markets and competition.

The study is a combination of secondary research, questionnaire survey, focused group discussions, one-on-one meetings, a multi-stakeholder workshop and written submissions of stakeholders.  It also covered the three broad categories of e-commerce in consumer goods (mobiles, lifestyle, electrical & electronic appliances and grocery), accommodation services and food services.   A total of 16 online platforms, 164 business entities [including sellers (manufacturers and retailers) and service providers (hotels and restaurants)] and 7 payment system providers from across India participated in the study. Apart from above, 11 industry associations, representing different stakeholder groups, also participated in it.

In view of the foregoing, the report enumerates certain areas for self-regulation by the e-commerce marketplace platforms. These have been advocated with a view to reduce information asymmetry and promote competition on the merits. 

About Competition Commission of India Competition Commission of India is basically a statutory body of the Government of India responsible for enforcing The Competition Act, 2002 throughout India and to prevent activities that have an appreciable adverse effect on competition in India.  It was established on 14 October 2003. It became fully functional in May 2009 with Dhanendra Kumar as its first Chairman.

Operation Sankalp

Context:  Indian Navy had commenced Maritime Security Operations, code named Op SANKALP, in the Gulf Region on 19 Jun 19 to ensure safe passage of Indian Flag Vessels transiting through the Strait of Hormuz.

operation Sankalp; INDIATHINKERS

The operation had been launched in the backdrop of the deteriorating security situation in the Gulf region, post attacks on merchant ships in the Gulf of Oman in Jun 19. Indian Navy warships and aircraft were deployed to establish presence, provide a sense of reassurance to the Indian merchantmen, monitor the ongoing situation and respond to any emergent crises. One war ship is presently deployed for Operation SANKALP. The operation is presently being progressed in close coordination with all stakeholders including Ministry of Defence, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Shipping, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and DG, Shipping. Regular Inter-Ministerial meetings have been held to review the evolving Maritime Security Situation in the Gulf region.

Revised Guidelines for Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters

Context:  The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued Revised Guidelines for Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters in December 2019 in furtherance to its policy of zero tolerance for crime and in an endeavor to fast track the dispensation of justice.

Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty; Indiathinkers

India has entered into Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties/ Agreements with 42 countries and is signatory to various international conventions i.e. UNCAC, UNTOC etc The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is the designated ‘Central Authority’ for India. Generally, assistance is sought and received in the form of Mutual Legal Assistance Requests/Letters Rogatory and Service of Summons/Notices/Judicial documents on persons residing abroad.  About the revised guidelines The revised guidelines provide step-by-step guidance to the investigation agencies for drafting and processing Letters Rogatory / Mutual Legal Assistance Requests and Service of Summons, Notices & other Judicial Documents.  Also taken into account by the guidelines are the concerns raised by various courts for prompt and timely responses in service of documents on persons residing abroad. As an initiative, the revised guidelines have provision for service of documents on authorities of foreign country preferably within 10 days of receipt of request in respect of offences committed against women and children.

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