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US ends waiver for India on Iran Oil
Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?

  • The USA will not renew exemptions from its sanctions for importing oil from Iran.
  • The exemptions were granted last November for a 180 day period for India and seven other countries that is due to expire on May 2.

Why is the US imposing sanctions on importing oil from Iran?

  • The US had withdrawn from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018 contending that the nuclear agreement did nothing to deter Iran from eventually obtaining nuclear weapons
  • The IAEA has continued to assess that Iran has been in compliance with JCPOA and that it had “no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009”

What is the JCPOA?

  • It is an agreement between Iran and P5 +1 nations (Permanent 5 members of the UN Security Council + Germany) on Iran’s nuclear programme.
  • Under JCPOA, Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%, and reduce by about two-thirds the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years.
  • For the next 15 years, Iran will only enrich uranium up to 3.67%.
  • Iran also agreed not to build any new heavy-water facilities for the same period of time. 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.
  • 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.
  • The agreement provides that 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.

How will the sanctions affect India?

  • Iran is the third biggest supplier of crude oil to India.
  • An agreement had also been signed by the Indian and Iranian government on Nov. 2 2018 for oil payment in rupees and 50 percent of those funds had been earmarked for exports. This was beneficial to India as it could trade using its own currency and did not have to rely on a foreign currency.
  • This withdrawal of waiver could lead to an increase in import costs for India as the supply from Iran will be reduced to zero globally.
  • This will impact the current account deficit and the foreign exchange reserves.

MOU signed between Ministry of Ayush and CSIR
Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?

  • CSIR and Ministry of AYUSH signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in research and education in areas of traditional systems of medicine and its integration with modern science.
  • Previously, CSIR jointly with Department of AYUSH (now Ministry) developed the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL),
  • The constituent laboratories of CSIR and councils of the Ministry of AYUSH have also supported each other in the development of improved varieties and captive cultivation of the medicinal plants including rare, engendered and threatened (RET) species, Botanical Reference Standards and Pharmacopoeial standards, and Ayurgenomics, among many others.

What are traditional systems of medicine?

  • Indian traditional systems of medicine include Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Yoga, Naturopathy and Homeopathy.
  • The Ministry of AYUSH was formed on 9th November 2014 to ensure the optimal development and propagation of AYUSH systems of health care.

What is the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library?

  • A globally recognized proprietary database on Indian systems of medicine for preventing bio-piracy and misappropriation of our traditional knowledge – Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Yoga
  • The non-patent database serves to foster modern research based on traditional knowledge, as it simplifies access to this vast knowledge of remedies or practices.

Indian Medical Association threatens agitation over bridge course proposal
Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?
The NITI Aayog has proposed to bring a bridge course between the Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) and the MBBS allowing dentists to practice family medicine

Why was the proposal brought?

  • The Central government is trying to plug the shortage in doctors in India. In India the shortage exceeds the prescribed WHO norms of 1 doctor per 1000 people and is estimated to be nearly 1 doctor per 1600 people.
  • Also, the dental course follows the same training and curriculum as the MBBS courses for the first three years.

Why is the proposal being opposed?

  • IMA contends that a bridge course is not sufficient to allow dentists to practice mainstream medicine.
  • Rather, the government should bridge the shortage between postgraduate seats and number of graduates in MBBS and also increase venues of employment.

 

Job creation down 1.7% in February, ESIC data
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • Job creation dropped 1.7% from 15.30 lakh in February, 18 to 15.03 lakh in February, 19 based on payroll data of the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC)
  • However, the Employees Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) data shows that net employment generation in the formal sector nearly trebled in the same time period from 2.87 lakhs to 8.61 lakhs.
  • The ESIC provides health insurance and medical services to insured persons covering all those establishments which have 20 or more workers and all those employees whose monthly wages are up to Rs. 21,000.

 

Bank of America Merrill Lynch report says RBI may have Rs 3 lakh crore in excess capital
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML)has said that based on its stress tests RBI’s excess capital stands between 1 to 3 lakh crore rupees or 1.5% of the GDP.
  • It also said that capping overall reserves at 20% from present 25.5% will release 1.96 lakh crore.
  • This excess capital can be used for bank recapitalisation and aid making rate cuts.

What is the issue of excess capital?

  • RBI has been pressured by the Government to hand over excess capital in the face of shortfall in revenues.
  • A committee under Bimal Jalan had been setup in October 2018 to make recommendations on the Economic capital framework. The BofAML report comes a few days before the release of the report of the Committee.

Scientists use EU satellite to spot litter in the Aegean Sea
Paper : Prelims Specific, General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • A team of Greek University students utilised the European satellite system to detect marine litter in the Aegean Sea.
  • This is significant as existing technology can be used for ocean clean up, bringing down costs by a large scale.

Aegean Sea : Background

  • It is a part of the Mediterranean Sea located between Greek and Anatolian peninsulas.
  • In the north, the Aegean is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea by the Dardanelles and Bosphorus. The Aegean Islands are within the sea and some bound it on its southern periphery, including Crete and Rhodes.

Aegean Sea

Aegean Sea

 

Scientists Propose a Policy to Prevent another Mass extinction event
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?
19 Scientists have released a new policy called ‘A Global Deal for Nature’ (GDN) with the mission to save the diversity and abundance of life on earth at the cost of $100 billion a year.
The three over-arching goals of the GDN are

  • to protect biodiversity by conserving at least 30% of the Earth’s surface by 2030
  • Mitigate climate change by conserving Earth’s natural carbon storehouses
  • Reducing major threats

What is a mass extinction event?

  • It is a widespread and rapid decrease in the biodiversity on Earth.
  • Such an event is identified by a sharp change in the diversity and abundance of multicellular organisms.
  • It occurs when the rate of extinction increases with respect to the rate of speciation.
  • The Holocene Extinction, or the sixth mass extinction, is an ongoing event. With widespread degradation of highly biodiverse habitats such as coral reefs and rainforests, as well as other areas, several species are vanishing each year.
  • The current rate of extinction of species is estimated at 100 to 1,000 times higher than natural background rates