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06 November, 2019

16 Min Read

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-II China proposes to treat Alzheimer’s with new drug Miscellaneous
Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA) International Relations
US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement International Relations
GS-III Wasteland Atlas
GS-II : Miscellaneous
China proposes to treat Alzheimer’s with new drug

Syllabus subtopic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sectors/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

 

News:  China recently announced that a new drug, meant to potentially treat Alzheimer’s disease, will be available to Chinese patients by the end of this year. Called GV-971 or “Oligomannate”, it is a seaweed-based drug, administered orally.

Prelims and Mains focus: All about Alzheimer’s, treatment and concerns.

 

About Alzheimer’s disease

  • It is a progressive brain disorder that typically affects people older than 65. When it affects younger individuals, it is considered early onset.
  • The disease destroys brain cells and nerves, and disrupts the message-carrying neurotransmitters.
  • Eventually, a person with Alzheimer’s loses the ability to perform day-to-day activities.

 

Symptoms include memory loss, difficulty in completing familiar tasks, confusion with time or place, problems in speaking and writing, decreased or poor judgment, and changes in mood and personality. Alzheimer’s disease is also the most common cause of dementia — which is a syndrome and not a disease in itself, and whose symptoms include loss of memory, thinking skills, problems with language, changes in mood and deterioration in behaviour.

 

Treatment:

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, because its exact causes are not known. Most drugs being developed try to slow down or stop the progression of the disease.

  • There is a degree of consensus in the scientific community that Alzheimer’s involves two proteins, called beta amyloids and tau. When levels of either protein reach abnormal levels in the brain, it leads to the formation of plaque, which gets deposited between neurons, damaging and disrupting nerve cells.
  • Most existing drugs for Alzheimer’s try to target these proteins to manage some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s

 

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GS-II : International Relations
Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA)

Syllabus subtopic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

News: Iran has taken further steps away from its crumbling nuclear deal with world powers by announcing it is doubling the number of its advanced centrifuges, calling the move a direct result of the United States’ withdrawal from the agreement last year.

 

Prelims focus: Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – objectives

Mains focus :US withdrawal from the deal, global implications and the need of the hour.

 

Iran’s objective

  • By doing so, Iran is trying to increase the pressure on Britain, France and Germany in particular to find some arrangement that will allow them to sell the oil they were buying when Iran was not under sanctions. That requires some level of US support to waive sanctions against European firms by the United States. So far, the US has no agreed to do that.

 

  • Iran is now operating 60 IR-6 advanced centrifuges. Such a centrifuge can produce enriched uranium 10 times as fast as the first-generation IR-1s allowed under the accord.

 

 

  • By starting up these advanced centrifuges, Iran further cuts into the one year that experts estimate Tehran would need to have enough material for building a nuclear weapon – if it chose to pursue one.

 

About Iran nuclear deal?

  • Iran agreed to rein in its nuclear programme in a 2015 deal struck with the US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany.
  • Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) Tehran agreed to significantly cut its stores of centrifuges, enriched uranium and heavy-water, all key components for nuclear weapons.
  • The JCPOA established the Joint Commission, with the negotiating parties all represented, to monitor implementation of the agreement.

 

Why did Iran agree to the deal?

It had been hit with devastating economic sanctions by the United Nations, United States and the European Union that are estimated to have cost it tens of billions of pounds a year in lost oil export revenues. Billions in overseas assets had also been frozen.

 

Why did US pull out of the deal?

Trump and opponents to the deal say it is flawed because it gives Iran access to billions of dollars but does not address Iran’s support for groups the U.S. considers terrorists, like Hamas and Hezbollah. They note it also doesn’t curb Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and that the deal phases out by 2030. They say Iran has lied about its nuclear program in the past.

 

Impact of escalated tensions between Iran and the US:

  1. Iran can make things difficult for the U.S. in Afghanistan as also in Iraq and Syria.
  2. The U.S.’s ability to work with Russia in Syria or with China regarding North Korea will also be impacted.
  3. And sooner or later, questions may be asked in Iran about why it should continue with other restrictions and inspections that it accepted under the JCPOA, which would have far-reaching implications for the global nuclear architecture.
  4. Coming after the rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Paris climate change accord and the North American Free Trade Agreement, President’s decision further diminishes U.S. credibility.

 

Implications for India:

Oil and Gas: The impact on world oil prices will be the immediately visible impact of the U.S. decision. Iran is presently India’s third biggest supplier (after Iraq and Saudi Arabia), and any increase in prices will hit both inflation levels as well as the Indian rupee.

It would impact the development of Chabahar port.

 

International North–South Transport Corridor :

New U.S. sanctions will affect these plans, especially if any of the countries along the route or banking and insurance companies dealing with the INSTC plan also decide to adhere to U.S. restrictions on trade with Iran.

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation: China may consider inducting Iran into the SCO. If the proposal is accepted by the SCO, which is led by China and Russia, India will become a member of a bloc that will be seen as anti-American, and will run counter to some of the government’s other initiatives like the Indo-Pacific quadrilateral with the U.S., Australia and Japan.

Rules-based order: By walking out of the JCPOA, the U.S. government has overturned the precept that such international agreements are made by “States” not just with prevailing governments or regimes.

 

What role does the U.N. Security Council play in this crisis?

The Security Council adopted a resolution in 2015 that endorsed the nuclear agreement and ended U.N. sanctions against Iran. The resolution, 2231, includes what is known as a “snapback” provision that could reinstate those sanctions if other parties to the agreement complained that Iran was cheating. Such a step would likely doom the agreement.

 

Global Implications:

  1. Down trends in global economy.
  2. Fuel prices would reach high points.
  3. Iran may block Strait of Hormuz which is a strategic choke point which inturn would affect global trade.
  4. Giant economy like India, China and Russia will suffer.
  5. US has cancelled airlines from US to India because they pass over Iran which would affect airspace industry.

 

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GS-II : International Relations
US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement

Syllabus subtopic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

 

News: United States initiated the process of leaving the Paris Agreement, notifying the United Nations of its withdrawal from the landmark climate deal. The withdrawal will take effect one year from delivery of the notification

Prelims focus: Overview of the Paris agreement.

Mains focus: Concerns and issues over US exit, it’s implications.

Main Concern: After it leaves, the US will be the only country left out of the global protocol. Syria and Nicaragua, the last remaining countries who were earlier holding out, also became signatories in 2017.

 

About Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement of 2016 is a historic international accord that brings almost 200 countries together in setting a common target to reduce global greenhouse emissions in an effort to fight climate change.

  • The pact seeks to keep global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels, and to try and limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • To this end, each country has pledged to implement targeted action plans that will limit their greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The Agreement asks rich and developed countries to provide financial and technological support to the developing world in its quest to fight and adapt to climate change.

 

Procedure to leave the Agreement

Article 28 of the Paris Agreement allows countries to leave the Paris Agreement and lays down the process for leaving.

  • A country can only give a notice for leaving at least three years after the Paris Agreement came into force.
  • This happened on November 4, 2016. Therefore, the US was eligible to move a notice for leaving on November 4 this year, which it did.
  • The withdrawal is not immediate, however. It takes effect one year after the submission of the notice. It means the United States will be out of Paris Agreement only on November 4 next year.

 

Reason for US withdrawal

During his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump had said the Paris Agreement was “unfair” to US interests. He had promised to pull out of the Agreement if he was elected.

The United States is the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases. If it does not reduce its emissions befitting its status as the second largest emitter, it could seriously jeopardise the world’s objective of keeping the global temperature rise to within 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times.

As part of its commitment to the Paris Agreement, the United States had promised to reduce its emissions by 26 per cent to 28 per cent by the year 2025 from 2005 levels.

  • The United States plays a preeminent role in mobilising financial resources globally, and its absence from the scene could seriously hamper that effort.
  • Under the Paris Agreement, developed countries are under obligation to mobilise at least $100 billion every year from the year 2020 in climate finance meant for the developing world. This amount has to be revised upwards after five years. As it is, countries are struggling to reach this amount by next year.
  • The US was opposed to this move.

 

Implications:

  1. While exiting the Paris Agreement does not automatically mean the abandonment of this target or of any future action by the United States on climate change, it would no longer be committed to these actions.
  2. But the biggest impact of the exit of the United States from the Agreement might be on the financial flows to enable climate actions.

 

Can US returns to the Paris Agreement at a later date?

  1. It can indeed, return. There is no bar on a country rejoining the Paris Agreement.
  2. It is also possible that the United States does a rethink and actually never leaves the Paris Agreement. It has one full year to reconsider its decision.

 

Does this mean the end to the war on climate change?

  • No, the US will not be entirely missing from the climate negotiations.
  • While it is pulling out of the Paris Agreement, it remains part of the UNFCCC, the mother agreement that was finalised in 1994.
  • The Framework Convention was the first international agreement to identify and acknowledge the problem of climate change.
  • It had laid down the principles and guidelines to achieve the objective of stabilising the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to levels that would cause least damage to climate system.
  • The Paris Agreement is an instrument of the Framework Convention to achieve that objective.
  • The United States will be out of the Paris Agreement, but by virtue of being a signatory to the UNFCCC would continue to be a part of the other processes and meetings under the Framework Convention.

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GS-III :
Wasteland Atlas

Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

 

News: Ministry of rural development ( MHRD) releases fifth edition of Wasteland Atlas. The last edition was published in 2011 

 

Prelims focus: Key findings

Mains focus: About wastelands- causes, concerns and how to improve them.

 

What is new in this year’s atlas?

  • It takes into account 12.08 MHa of unmapped area of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) for the first time. 
  • The new wastelands mapping exercise was carried out by NRSC using the Indian Remote Sensing Satellite data.

 

Background:

Department of land resources in collaboration with National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Department of Space has published Wastelands Atlases of India – 2000, 2005, 2010 & 2011 editions. 

 

Key findings:

  1. Spatial extent of wastelands in India is 55.76 Mha (16.96 per cent of geographical area of the country i.e. 328.72 Mha) for the year 2015-16 as compared to 56.60 Mha (17.21 per cent) in the year 2008-09.
  2. As per the Atlas, during this period 1.45 Mha of wastelands are converted into non wastelands categories.
  3. India with 2.4 per cent of total land area of the world is supporting 18 per cent of the world’s population. The per capita availability of agriculture land in India is 0.12 ha whereas world per capita agriculture land is 0.29 ha.

 

Significance of the atlas:

Unprecedented pressure on the land beyond its carrying capacity is resulting into degradation of lands in the country. Therefore, robust geospatial information on wastelands assumes significance and effectively helpful in rolling back the wastelands for productive use through various land development programmes/schemes.

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