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Current Affairs : 6 November 2018


Iran oil: India, China get relief
  • India is one of eight countries to receive temporary exemptions from U.S. sanctions on Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said.
  • The U.S. will be granting these exemptions to China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey.
  • Each country on the list had demonstrated “significant reductions “ of the purchase of Iranian crude over the past six months, according to Mr. Pompeo. He added that two have stopped importing oil from Iran and would not do so as long as sanctions were in effect.
  • China and India, in that order, are the top two importers of Iranian oil. All payments for Iranian oil will be held in Foreign Accounts, Mr Pompeo said. Tehran can use the money to purchase non-sanctioned goods and for humanitarian purposes, including food, medicines and medical devices.
  • In the last fiscal year, India, which imports over 80% of its oil, sourced some 10% of its oil imports, or just over 22 million tons from Iran. The Indian Oil Corporation is the biggest Indian customer for Iranian oil.
  • More than 20 countries have decreased their imports of Iranian crude, the Secretary of State said, cutting Iran’s oil revenues by more than $2.5 billion since May this year, when Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or “ Iran Deal” 
  • The European Union, which has stayed in the deal, has been frustrated by America’s efforts to stifle European business’s activities with Iran.
India declares nuclear triad operational
  • India on Monday declared that its nuclear triad, stated in its nuclear doctrine, is operational after indigenous ballistic missile nuclear submarine INS Arihant achieved a milestone by conducting its first deterrence patrol.
  • This means that Arihant is now prowling the deep seas carrying ballistic missiles equipped with nuclear warheads. 
Courts shouldn’t help make half-baked doctors, says SC
  • Courts should not play a role in the making of “half-baked doctors” by allowing unequipped medical colleges to carry out admissions, the Supreme Court has cautioned in a recent verdict.
  • A Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Vineet Saran dealt with the admission of over 500 students to four private medical colleges in Kerala, which were found to have poor infrastructure. The State High Court had set aside the decisions of the Medical Council of India and the government to bar admissions to these colleges in 2018-19. It gave the colleges a second chance to remove the deficiencies and asked the MCI to carry out fresh inspections. It said the MCI could take “appropriate action” if the defects continue to remain.
  • Quashing the High Court order, the Supreme Court held that admissions of students should not be on such conditional basis. Why had the High Court allowed the admissions to be carried on despite knowing very well that the colleges were sub-standard? 
  • “Half-baked doctors cannot be let loose on society like drones and parasites to deal with the lives of patients in the absence of proper educational training.
  • “It would be dangerous and against the right to life itself in case unequipped medical colleges are permitted to impart substandard medical education without proper facilities and infrastructure,” the Supreme Court observed.
New rules for foreigners in detention centres
  • The government has informed the Supreme Court that new guidelines are being framed for keeping foreign nationals in detention centres across the country.
  • A Bench led by Justice Madan B. Lokur was hearing the issue of framing of a manual detailing the guidelines for detaining foreigners. The condition of detention centres in Assam also came up for discussion.
  • The Bench had sought responses from the Centre and the Assam government on the plight of families, who languish in the State’s six detention centres as “declared foreigners”, separated from each other and their children.
  • The court said it was “inappropriate” to keep the families separated without any valid reason.
  • Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for Assam, submitted that tenders had been invited by Assam for setting up of a new detention centre in Goalpara.
  • The court posted the matter for hearing in February next year.
Centre eyes seaplanes in UDAN 3
  • Seaplanes may soon be operating commercial passenger flights in India with the Centre inviting bids for connecting selected destinations under the regional connectivity scheme (RCS).
  • Included among the 10 destinations that the government proposes to connect through seaplanes are the recently unveiled Statue of Unity at Sardar Sarovar Dam, the Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad, the Tehri dam in Uttarakhand and Nagarjuna Sagar in Telangana.
  • In the latest phase, the Centre is reoffering 34 airports that weren’t successfully connected, primarily because two airlines — Air Odisha and Air Deccan — were unable to operate routes they had bid for due to lack of funds.
  • The previous two rounds saw 428 routes awarded to 17 airlines and helicopter operators. Air Odisha was granted rights to connect 54 routes and Air Deccan 30, but both have been able to start 10 routes each, which see erratic services.
  • The Centre has also offered 23 tourist destinations including Bodh Gaya, Agra, Kanha, Varanasi, Hampi, Mysuru and Kullu.
Tibetan monks’ meet creates a flutter
  • Ahead of National Security Adviser Ajit Doval’s proposed visit to China, the Centre convened a high-level meeting to discuss the development around the recent meeting between rival Tibetan monks in France.
  • Mr. Doval is expected to head to China towards the end of November for the Special Representative (SR) talks with State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Mr. Doval had convened a meeting of the Tibet Study Group last week.
  • Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, met Trinley Thaye Dorje, another Tibetan Buddhist leader, who is said to be his rival, on October 11.
  • The meeting of the two monks in France was seen as a significant development in view of reports that Mr. Ogyen Trinley Dorje had refused to return to India from the U.S., where he has been living for more than a year now.
  • He also acquired the citizenship of Dominica, a Caribbean country, to enable him to travel around the world.
  • In a joint statement issued after the meeting, the two monks said they had met to sort out differences that had cropped up in the Karma Kagyu lineage.
  • The Centre had set up a Tibet Study Group a few years ago to specifically discuss developments around Mr. Ogyen Trinley Dorje.
  • A recommendatory body, the Tibet Study Group feeds inputs to the Chinese Study Group.
  • It comprises officials from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Intelligence Bureau (IB), Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
  • Mr. Ogyen Trinley Dorje is the head of the Karma Kagyu school, one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism and is based at Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh. He escaped from Tibet in 2000. He was once suspected to have links with the Chinese.
  • In 2011, the police had recovered ₹1.2 crore of unaccounted-for foreign currency, including Chinese currency, from the Gyuto Tantric University and Monastery in Dharamsala.
  • The police registered a case against the Karmapa and the government had put more restrictions on his travel.
  • However, in 2016, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had eased restrictions on his movement in India.
Plea challenges order on ‘Dalit’ usage
  • The Supreme Court may hear a petition challenging a government circular advising the media to refrain from calling Scheduled Caste members “Dalits”.
  • The petition said the term ‘Dalit’ was a self- chosen name, a positive self-identifier and political identity, to describe the pan-Indian community of those affected by the caste system and the practice of untouchability for several centuries. The petition said the word “Dalit” meant “divided, split, broken, scattered”.
  • In the 1930s, the word “Dalit” was popularised and reintroduced into the public imagination by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to refer to the pan-Indian community of historically oppressed people, it said.
  • It contended that the circular dated August 7, 2018 issued by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry was “vague, arbitrary, inconsistent and has no rational nexus to its ostensible objective”.
Avni killing: NTCA seeks report
  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has commissioned a report from the Maharashtra Forest Department on how tigress Avni (T1) was killed.
  • “If we are not satisfied [with the description of events] on whether the animal was executed following established procedure, we will conduct our own investigation,” Arup Nayak, Director, NTCA, told The Hindu.
  • The NTCA is the apex statutory body tasked with providing funding support to the States for tiger conservation.
  • Union Minister Maneka Gandhi had criticised the Maharashtra government for permitting a hunter to kill the tigressl.
  • She said she would take up the issue with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. 
  • An official allegedly attempted — and failed — to fire a tranquilliser dart at the tigress, following which she charged at the team. Mr. Ali then fired in self-defence, according to Maharashtra Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar.
  • Ms. Gandhi said the controversial celebrity hunter Nawab Shafat Ali had been hired to kill the animal, and that his son, Mr. Ali, was at the scene illegally.
  • Mr. Nayak said that the State Wildlife Warden was authorised to take a call on declaring an animal a man-eater.

‘Iran will proudly bypass sanctions’
  • A defiant Iran said it will “proudly bypass” sanctions by the U.S. targeting the country’s vital oil and financial sectors. The measures took effect on Monday.
  • Described by Washington as “the toughest sanctions ever”, they come six months after U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to abandon the multi-nation nuclear deal with Tehran.
  • “We are in a situation of economic war, confronting a bullying power. I don’t think that in the history of America, someone has entered the White House who is so against law and international conventions,” he added.
  • Mr. Trump says he wants a new deal that curbs Iran’s missile programme and interventions in the region — demands that have been flatly rejected by Tehran.
  • “Constantly they are sending us messages saying ‘Let’s sit and negotiate.’ said Mr. Rouhani. “First, you respect the negotiations we already concluded, so that there are grounds for the next negotiations.”
  • Mr. Rouhani said four countries had approached him during his visit to New York for the UN General Assembly in September, offering to mediate with the U.S. but he turned them down.
  • Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that “U.S. bullying is backfiring, not just because JCPOA is important, but because the world can’t allow Trump & Co. to destroy global order.”

‘Selling IL&FS an option for Centre’
  • One of the options the government is exploring to resolve crisis-hit IL&FS’ financial woes is to sell it, Corporate Affairs Secretary Injeti Srinivas said.
  • However, the Secretary said that the likelihood of this outcome actually taking place was limited.
  • “There are alternative approaches of looking at separate verticals, and verticals going as one consolidated entity,” he added.
  • “And the last approach is that you have an asset level sale. All the three approaches in some sort of permutation and combination can ultimately be the outcome.”
  • The Corporate Affairs Ministry has reportedly compiled a detailed report, in which it has named Indiabulls Housing Finance, PNB Housing Finance and Dewan Housing Finance Corporation, as companies facing problems due to the prevalent liquidity crunch.
  • However, Mr. Srinivas officially declined to name the companies involved.
  • Both PNB Housing Finance and Dewan Housing Finance Corporation issued statements on Monday saying that their liquidity position was comfortable.
  • “Despite the market scenario, DHFL has been committed towards honouring all the financial obligations without any delays,” Kapil Wadhawan, CMD of DHFL said.

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