9 PM Current Affairs Brief – July 14th, 2018

Mains Test Series


Download the compilation of all summaries of all the news articles here


GS 2

In tightrope walk, India schedules talks with Iran and U.S.

In tightrope walk, India schedules talks with Iran and U.S.

News:

  1. India’s tough situation vis-à-vis its relations with Iran and the U.S.

Important facts:

  1. Regarding Meeting
  • Ahead of the first set of U.S. sanctions on Iran, the Indian government is planning to hold talks with Iranian and American officials.
  • This would be the first face-to-face meeting with the U.S. since sanctions were reimposed.
  • The official’s team would also clarify the U.S. position on the Rupee-Rial mechanism it put into place in 2012, which allowed it to import oil from Iran and supply essential foods and necessities to Iran from a UCO bank-operated fund created with up to half of the import figure in rupees.
  1. America’s stand:
  • As a part of sanctions, America wants several countries including India to cut down oil imports from Iran to “zero”as well as cutting off trade ties.
  • The first set of U.S. sanctions will target Iran’s automotive sector, trade in gold, and other key metals.
  • The remaining sanctions will include targeting Iran’s energy sector and petroleum-related transactions, as well as transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.
  • Recently, U.S. also withdrew from the JCPOA, multilateral nuclear deal with Iran.
  • Recently, the U.S was also responsible for a decision to “greylist” Pakistan for supporting the LeT and JeM among other terror groups.
  • During her recent visit to India,  U.S. envoy Nikki Haley’s asked India to “revise” its relationship with Iran.
  1. Iran’s stand:
  • Iran’s deputy envoy had warned that India would face a “deprivation of all other privileges Iran has offered to India”, if it chose to replace Iranian oil from other sources.
  • Iran’s role in supporting terror groups in West Asia would be brought up strongly, and they will highlight the U.S’s support to India on fighting terror.

India’s status:  

  • India appears to be caught in a tough situation vis-à-vis its relations with Iran and U.S.
  • India’s oil imports from the U.S. in June have doubled since last year.
  • Imports from Iran declined 16% in June despite India’s commitment during President Hassan Rouhani’s visit in February this year.
  • India is the second largest buyer of Iranian crude last year, second only to China.
  • The U.S. sanctions on Iran in order to isolate it after the Trump administration withdrew from the multilateral nuclear deal, have brought back into focus India’s trade relations with the country.
  • For India, its decision on procuring Iranian crude will have a cascading effect on its bilateral relations with both Iran and the U.S.
  • If it ignores U.S. pressure, it could invite sanctions of its own-powerful friend and defence partner.
  • If India caves in to U.S. diplomatic pressure to cut its imports of Iranian crude to zero by November 4, it risks its relationship with its traditional partner Iran, as well as access to important trade routes through the Chabahar port and the International North South Transport Corridor, as well as its international reputation.
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GS 3

Conferring eminence

Conferring eminence

News:

  1. Raising the quality of higher education should be priority of the government

Important facts:

  1. In its report on higher education for the Twelfth plan, the erstwhile Planning Commission identified expansion, inclusion, and excellence as three pillars for growth.
  2. The government had the theme of excellence in its 2016 annual budget, with a proposal to make 10 institutions each in public and private sectors globally competitive.
  3. The challenge of excellence lies in developing liberal institutions, high scholarship, and equitable access for all classes of students.
  4. Recently, the Ministry of Human Resource Development decided to give Institution of Eminence (IoE) status to following six institutions:
  • The public institutions are- the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, and the Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) Delhi and Mumbai.
  • The private institutions are –the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani, the Jio Institute; and the Manipal Academy of Higher Education.

6 These IoEs can become models of autonomy, academic innovation and equity of access and can also lead to a transformation of higher education.

7. The selection of Jio, which is yet to come up, generated controversy.

8. The idea of developing centers of higher learning advances the Nehruvian vision of building ‘temples of modern India’.

9. Following suggestions can be adopted in order to improve higher education:

  • There is need for urgent reform during selection process.
  • Several State universities had a low output because some of them had several faculty members recruited on contract basis with no incentive to do research.
  • Public universities should be free from political interference.
  • Vice-chancellor should be appointed on merit, free of ideological biases.
  • The selected public institutions need to motivate for doing research work. There is also need to raise public expenditure on R& D of these institutions.
  • According to the UNESCO data, among countries with comparable research output, India with 0.8% R&D spending trails Russia, Brazil, South Korea and Singapore.
  • Raise quality of higher education in all institutions through academic reform.
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Survey launched to rank States on rural cleanliness

Survey launched to rank States on rural cleanliness

News:

  1. The Centre has launched the SwacchSurvekshanGrameen, 2018, a nationwide survey of rural India.

Important facts:

  1. The survey will rank the cleanest and dirtiest States and districts on the basis of qualitative and quantitative evaluations.
  2. Around 6, 980 villages across 698 districts will survey.
  3. The SwachhSurvekshanGrameen award will be given on October 2, Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary.
  4. This is the first comprehensive survey for rural India.
  5. Earlier, three successful editions of a similar survey in urban India were conducted.
  6. The ranking will be based on three parameters:
  • Direct observation of public places by independent surveyors,
  • service-level progress using data from the Swachh Bharat Mission’s information system
  • Citizens’ feedback: through village meetings, online feedback, and direct interviews as well as discussion with key influences such as local officials, elected representatives and anganwadi workers.
  1. An audio-visual publicity campaign, featuring Swachh Bharat ambassadors Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar, was also launched.
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DNA profiles won’t be kept permanently

DNA profiles won’t be kept permanently

News:

  1. India’s proposed DNA data bank (used during crime investigations) will not permanently store details of people.

Important facts:

  1. In criminal cases, till the case is solved the DNA profile will remain in the bank.
  2. However, DNA details will be removed after judicial orders.
  3. These things will be specified in the rules.
  4. The rule will come after Parliament approves the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2016, last version of DNA profiling Bill, framed by the Department of Biotechnology.
  5. The Bill envisages a DNA profiling board and DNA data Bank.
  6. DNA regulation board:
  • The board will certify labs authorized to carry out DNA testing and lay down procedure and guidelines for collection, storage, sharing and deletion of DNA information.
  • The Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology has been made the ex-officio chairman of the proposed DNA Regulatory Board.
  1. DNA Data Bank:A National DNA Databank and certain regional DNA Databanks will store DNA profiles received from DNA labs in a specified format.
  2. The main purpose of the draft Bill are given below:

a)To establish an institutional mechanism to collect and deploy DNA technologies.

b)It will help in identifying persons based on samples collected from crime scenes or identify missing persons.

 

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