IASCLUB Daily Current Affairs : 18 June 2018

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Iran to breach uranium stockpile limit

Topic: GS –II: International relations

 Iran said that it would surpass from June 27 its uranium stockpile limit set under the nuclear deal with world powers, turning up the pressure after the U.S. walked away from the pact last year.

Reaction from the Germany:

  • Germany and Britain warned Tehran not to breach uranium stockpile limits set by the 2015 nuclear deal.
  • Iran set a 10-day countdown on Monday to exceed the 300-kg limit set on its enriched uranium stocks, dealing another blow to the crumbling nuclear accord signed by Tehran and six international powers.

Saving the agreement

  • The EU has battled to save the agreement since U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew and re-imposed sanctions, but Iran said it would step back from exceeding the 300-kg limit on June 27 only if “other parties live up to their commitments”.
Background: Understand the recent crisis

 ·         Suspicions that Iran was using its nuclear energy programme as cover to develop a nuclear bomb prompted the UN, US and EU to impose sanctions with the aim of persuading the country to curb its sensitive nuclear activities.

·         Iran insisted its nuclear programme was peaceful, but in 2015 it reached a deal with six countries – the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany.

·         It agreed to limit the enrichment of uranium, which is used to make reactor fuel but also nuclear weapons; redesign a heavy-water reactor being built, whose spent fuel would contain plutonium suitable for a bomb; and allow inspections by a global watchdog.

·         In return, relevant sanctions were lifted, allowing Iran to resume oil exports – the government’s main source of revenue.

What prompted the latest crisis?

·         The administration of US President Donald Trump abandoned the deal in May 2018 and began reinstating sanctions. In November, those targeting Iran’s oil and financial sectors took effect.

·         They have triggered an economic meltdown in Iran and soaring inflation.

·         Iran has now responded by scaling back its commitments under the deal.

·         It suspended obligatory sales overseas of surplus enriched uranium and heavy water.

·         It also gave the five countries still party to the deal 60 days to protect Iranian oil sales from US sanctions. Otherwise Iran will suspend its restrictions on uranium enrichment and halt the redesign of its heavy-water reactor.

·         Global nuclear watchdog the IAEA says Iran has already increased production of enriched uranium – but it is not known by how much.

What does the US want?

·         Mr Trump says he wants to renegotiate the deal and broaden it to curb Iran’s ballistic missile programme and its involvement in conflicts around the Middle East.

·         Iran is adamant that the deal cannot be renegotiated.

Amazon India best place to work in the country

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

E-com player Amazon India has been rated as the country’s most ‘attractive employer brand,’ as per a Randstad Employer Brand Research.

More in news:

  • Microsoft India emerged as the runner-up, followed by Sony India. Mercedes-Benz, IBM, Larsen & Toubro, Nestle, Infosys, Samsung and Dell are others among the country’s top 10 most attractive employers.

More findings:

  • The Randstad research this year covered 75% of the global economy with 32 participating countries and more than 2 lakh respondents worldwide.
  • As per the study, salary and employee benefits continue to be the top driver, while choosing an employer for the Indian workforce, followed by work-life balance and job security.
  • While gender differences between men and women on the top three aspects were minimal, women, however, attributed more importance to salary and benefits (49%) and work-life balance (47%) compared to their male counterparts who ranked these as the top aspects at 46% and 46% respectively. It is interesting to note the importance accorded to work-life balance as a key factor considered while choosing an employer — this has increased even further (46%) compared to the last two years and the emergence of the fact that employees in India are willing to place a premium on job security.
  • The number of employees in India indicating that they would be agreeable to a security versus compensation trade-off is 23%; higher than the broader APAC average, found the study.
  • Some 52% of the survey respondents said that they were willing to forfeit more than 10% of their salary for job security.

India to actively curb ‘conflict’ diamonds

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

India has committed to play an active role to curb the circulation of ‘conflict diamonds’ orblood diamonds’ in the international market by further strengthening the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS).

More in news:

  • India is the KP chair for 2019.
  • Fifty-five members representating 82 countries, including the U.S., Russia, European Union, Africa, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, Singapore, Australia, UAE, New Zealand and South Africa, are participating in the four-day conference to deliberate on the issue and find a way forward.
  • India, supported by the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), is hosting this event for the first time.
Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS):

·         It is the process established in 2003 to prevent “conflict diamonds” from entering the mainstream rough diamond market by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 55/56 following recommendations in the Fowler Report.

·         The process was set up “to ensure that diamond purchases were not financing violence by rebel movements and their allies seeking to undermine legitimate governments.

EU leaders to debate push for zero emissions

 Topic: GS-III: Environment

 EU leaders will this week discuss setting a target of zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, European officials said on Monday, following elections that highlighted climate change fears.

More in news:

  • European Union leaders meeting on Thursday and Friday in Brussels will debate the 2050 target of “climate neutrality” that the environmental group WWF says now has the support of 16 of the EU’s 28 countries.
  • The draft contained a footnote, saying the wording may be adjusted to reflect the results of the summit debate, which an EU source said would focus on the 2050 target. Many EU countries want more debate on financing the shift from an economy running on fossil fuels, especially those in Eastern Europe, to one driven by clean energy.
  • The growing stress on climate action comes after May 23-26 elections to the European Parliament where Green parties made substantial gains.
  • The British government last week presented draft legislation to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.
  • Under the 2015 Paris climate change treaty, the EU pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

Maharashtra’s industrial sector shrank in 2016-17

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

Maharashtra’s industrial performance took a hit in 2016-17, the second consecutive year of decline as per the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) data.

More in news:

  • While the State retained its top position in the country in terms of gross value added to the economy, it ranks second in the number of factories, workers and wages of workers. But its once-hefty share in the country’s industrial sector output is shrinking, even as the State government said this was driven by successive droughts and a global economic slowdown.
  • According to the State Economic Survey, tabled in the Assembly on the opening day of monsoon session on Monday, the number of industrial firms in the State constituted 11.5% of the country’s industrial activity, down from 12.4% in 2014-15 and 12.1% the year after that.
  • Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, when asked about the declining numbers in industrial sector, said, “The industry cannot be seen in an isolated manner. There are many factors which are working. The successive droughts have damaged agriculture sector which also impacts the industry.”
  • “Similarly, slowdown at the global level has harmed the industry sector to a certain level. That is the reason why you are seeing these numbers,” he empahasised.
  • Maharashtra’s industrial sector generated 12.9% of the total employment in 2016-17, down from 13.9% in the previous year. The profit of industries in the State too has been consistently declining and has touched 20.9% in 2016-17, representing a significant fall from 25.5% in 2014-15 and 23% in 2015-16.
  • The ASI results cover various particulars such as fixed capital, working capital, total output, total input, gross value added and net value added. (See graphic)
  • A comparison of Economic Survey 2016-17 and 2018-19 shows that the exact number of commissioned projects under the industry sector stands at 434 and with an investment of ₹37,011 crore.These were commissioned between Dec 2016 and February 2019.
  • Major industries in terms of total value of output during 2016-17 were food products & beverages (15.1%), coke & refined petroleum products (12.1%), basic metals (11.5%), chemicals and chemical products (8%) motor vehicles, trailers (7.7%).

India to host UN meet on land degradation in September

Topic: GS -III: Bio-diversity

India for the first time will host the 14th session of the Conference of Parties (COP-14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in September.

  • It will see participation from at least 5,000 delegates from nearly 197 countries and will be held between September 2 and 14 in Delhi.
  • Ahead of the COP-14, Mr. Javadekar launched a flagship project, part of a larger international initiative called the Bonn Challenge, to enhance India’s capacity for forest landscape restoration (FLR).

Bonn Challenge

  • It will be implemented during a pilot phase of three-and-a-half years in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland and Karnataka. The project will aim to develop and adapt the best practices and monitoring protocols for the country, and build capacity within the five pilot States.
  • This will eventually be scaled up across the country.

Some facts:

  • India faces a severe problem of land degradation, or soil becoming unfit for cultivation. A 2016 report by the Indian Space Research Organisation found that about 29% of India’s land (in 2011-13) was degraded, this being a 0.57% increase from 2003-05.
  • At the previous edition of the COP, India had committed to restore 13 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by the year 2020, and an additional 8 million hectares by 2030.
  • The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land under restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.
  • The United Nations has three major Conventions: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
  • Established in 1994, the UNCCD is the only legally binding international agreement linking environment and development issues to the land agenda.


Facebook to unveil crypto currency

  • Facebook is set to unveil a bid to bring crypto currency payments into the mainstream, reportedly with the endorsement of governments and financial giants.
  • The world’s biggest social network is expected to outline details of a virtual currency launching next year that it hopes to avoid the rollercoaster volatility of “block chain” technologies such as bitcoin.

Editorial section:

A blinkered understanding of migration – The Hindu

Gloves off on trade– The Hindu

The litchi link? – The Hindu

Serious concerns over Bt brinjal– The Hindu

The danger of territorial nationalism– The Hindu

Unleashing the potential of urban India – The Hindu




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