UPSC Courses

DNA banner


Monthly DNA

14 Jul, 2020

23 Min Read

Iran drops India from Chabahar rail project

GS-II : International Relations West Asia

Iran drops India from Chabahar rail project, cites funding delay

  • Four years after India and Iran signed an agreement to construct a rail line from Chabahar port to Zahedan, along the border with Afghanistan, the Iranian government has decided to proceed with the construction on its own, citing delays from the Indian side in funding and starting the project.
  • Last week, Iranian Transport and Urban Development Minister Mohammad Eslami inaugurated the track-laying process for the 628 km Chabahar-Zahedan line, which will be extended to Zaranj across the border in Afghanistan.
  • Iranian Railways will proceed without India’s assistance, using approximately $400 million from the Iranian National Development Fund.
  • The development comes as China finalises a massive 25-year, $400 billion strategic partnership deal with Iran, which could cloud India’s plans.

Trilateral agreement

  • The railway project, which was being discussed between the Iranian Railways and the state-owned Indian Railways Construction Ltd (IRCON), was meant to be part of India’s commitment to the trilateral agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan to build an alternate trade route to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
  • In May 2016, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Tehran to sign the Chabahar agreement with Iranian President Rouhani and Afghanistan President Ghani, IRCON signed an MoU with the Iranian Rail Ministry.
  • The MoU was to construct the Chabahar-Zahedan railway as “part of transit and transportation corridor in a trilateral agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan”.
  • IRCON had promised to provide all services, superstructure work and financing for the project (around $1.6 billion).
  • However, despite several site visits by IRCON engineers, and preparations by Iranian railways, India never began the work, ostensibly due to worries that these could attract U.S. sanctions.
  • The U.S. had provided a sanctions waiver for the Chabahar port and the rail line to Zahedan, but it has been difficult to find equipment suppliers and partners due to worries they could be targeted by the U.S., said officials. India has already “zeroed out” its oil imports from Iran due to U.S. sanctions.

25-year Strategic Partnership

  • Meanwhile, complicating matters further, Iran and China are close to finalising a 25-year Strategic Partnership which will include Chinese involvement in Chabahar’s duty-free zone, an oil refinery nearby, and possibly a larger role in Chabahar port as well.
  • According to leaked versions of the 18-page “Comprehensive Plan for Cooperation between Iran and China”, being finalised by officials in Tehran and Beijing, the cooperation will extend from investments in infrastructure, manufacturing and upgrading energy and transport facilities, to refurbishing ports, refineries and other installations, and will commit Iranian oil and gas supplies to China during that period.
  • Iranian officials denied a report that also suggested Chabahar port, which India took, will be leased to China.
  • However, Iran proposed a tie-up between the Chinese-run Pakistani port at Gwadar and Chabahar last year and has offered interests to China in the Bandar-e-Jack port 350km away from Chabahar, as well as in the Chabahar duty-free zone.
  • Each of those possibilities should be watched closely by New Delhi, said former Ambassador to Iran, K.C. Singh. “[The Iran-China deal] impinges on India’s “strategic ties” with Iran and the use of Chabahar port. Jack lies to the west of Chabahar & right before Straits of Hormuz. China would thus extend its control along the Pakistan-Iran coast,” he cautioned.

Source: TH

Forest Fires in India

GS-I : Human Geography Forest Fire

Forest Fires in India

According to the report of the Forest Survey of India, between 2003–2017, a total of 5,20,861 active forest fire events were detected in India. About 54% of the forest cover in India is exposed to occasional fire.

Most fire-prone regions - Northeast India, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Western Himalayas have shown a sharp increase in carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and ozone during high fire activity periods.

The occurrence of high fire intensity in the low-altitude Himalayan hilly regions may be due to the plant species (pine trees) in the area and their proximity to villages. Villages make them more susceptible to anthropogenic activities like forest cover clearance, grazing and so on. The sharp increase in average and maximum air temperature, decline in precipitation, and change in land-use patterns have caused the increased episodes of forest fires in most Asian countries.

Burn Indices

The Normalized Burn Ratio is an effective burn index commonly used to identify burnt regions in large fire zones.

In normal conditions, healthy vegetation exhibits a very high reflectance in the near-infrared spectral region and considerably low reflectance in the shortwave infrared spectral region. These conditions get dismantled and reversed if a fire occurs.

Remote Sensing Burn Indices - The spectral differences between healthy vegetation and burnt forest areas can easily be identified and highlighted by remote sensing burn indices. Remote sensing-based models measure primary productivity over an area and also looked at burn indices, which help to demarcate the forest fire burn scars using satellite imagery. It can be a promising tool for land resource managers and fire officials.

Source: PIB

Privy Purses

GS-I : Modern History Modern India

Privy Purses


  • With the passage of the Indian Independence Act, of 1947, the British Government granted independence to the areas that were directly under their rule (British India) and left the choice to the princely states to decide their future course of action. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel persuaded these princely states to join Indian Union after independence.
  • In consideration of such princely states signing the Instrument of Accession, the Government of India granted to them a ‘privy purse’, which was a specified sum of money that was payable annually to the rulers of such States.

Relevance of ‘privy purse’

  • The payments of the ‘privy purse’ were made to the former rulers under constitutional provisions of Art. 291 and Art. 362. However, it was often questioned as a relic of the colonial past.
  • The privy purse conferred ‘special status’ to the ruling class, which continued the British practice of ruler and ruled.
  • It went against the idea of equality enshrined in the Preamble and Part 3 of the Constitution.
  • Moreover, ‘privy purse’ was an added economic pressure on a newly born independent nation, that was ridden with poverty, hunger and security challenges.
  • Therefore, the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, argued the case for the abolition of the privy purse. So, by the 26th Amendment to the Constitution of India in 1971, the ‘privy purse’ was abolished. The amendment leads to the omission of Articles 291 and 362.

Reasons for the abolition of ‘privy purse’

  • The abolition of privy purse was needed because it went against the idea of equal rights for all citizens, as enshrined under the fundamental rights of the Indian constitution.
  • The concept of rulership, with ‘privy purse’ and special privileges, was incompatible with principles of democracy, equality and social justice and it was unrelated to any current functions and social purposes.
  • In order to fulfil the aspiration of a socialistic pattern of society and burgeoning economic pressure, due to the 1971 refugee crisis from east Pakistan, there was a need for the Government to reduce the revenue deficit.


  • Though the abolition of privy purse was alleged as constitutional fraud by the rulers of princely states, it was in sync with the ethos of egalitarian society, as envisaged by the constitution.

Source: TH

IIT-M team conducts research on cancer-curing properties of turmeric


IIT-M team conducts research on the cancer-curing properties of turmeric

  • Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras have shown that the active compound from the common household spice turmeric — curcumin — can enhance cancer cell death.

What is TRAIL

  • TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) is an agent with the ability to programme cell death (apoptosis) and has triggered many preclinical studies the world over.
  • While the anti-tumour activity of TRAIL in preclinical studies had been strong, in clinical trials, the results were so far unsatisfactory as cancer cells, when exposed long-term, seem to acquire resistance against TRAIL.
  • The IIT-M research team chose curcumin as it is known to inhibit carcinogenesis and induce apoptosis in various cancer cells.
  • The researchers isolated leukaemia cells from cancer patients and found that non-toxic concentrations of curcumin can significantly increase the efficiency of TRAIL-induced cell death.
  • The findings showed clearly that even a small concentration of curcumin could potentially enhance the sensitiveness of leukaemic cells to TRAIL, the researchers said.
  • “A few researchers have shown that compounds such as quercetin found in onions and green tea and piperazine, found in black and green pepper, enhance absorption of curcumin by the body,” added Mr. Verma.

Source: TH

Other Related News

13 July,2020
The sum and substance of the EU’s China dilemma

The sum and substance of the EU’s China dilemma By, Vijay Gokhale is a former Foreign Secretary of India and a former Ambassador to Germany and to China Context - Europe and China have been major partners for a generation. According to the Global Office of the International Comparison

Sure power: On India’s solar strategy

Sure power: On India’s solar strategy India’s installed base of this solar power source is about 35 gigawatts (GW), and its projected addition of capacity until 2024 in a COVID-19 affected future is estimated by the industry to be of the order of 50 GW. - Viewed against the goals

Hardly smart about urban health care

Hardly smart about urban health care By, Mathew Idiculla is a lawyer and researcher on urban issues, and a consultant with the Centre for Law & Policy Research, Bengaluru Context - The novel coronavirus pandemic has largely been an urban crisis so far, with megacities such as Delhi, Mum

Nurturing citizens in social studies

Nurturing citizens in social studies By, Hamid Ansari is the former Vice-President of India, 2007-2017 Context - The decision of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to exclude certain subjects from the list of topics of study in the social science curriculum for Classes 9 to 1

Training Mobilisation Order (TMO)

Training Mobilisation Order (TMO) President Xi Jinping Thursday signed a mobilization order for the training of the armed forces, the first order of the Central Military Commission (CMC) in 2020. Issued by Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chair

Y Nalla

Y Nalla The strategic ‘Y Nalla’ near the Shyok-Galwan axis has become the new frontier for Indian and Chinese troops after the construction of a new post and infrastructure in Galway Valley is believed to have cut off the traditional access to Patrol Point-14 on the Line of Actu

Disabled are entitled to same benefits of SC/ST quota: Supreme Court

Disabled are entitled to same benefits of SC/ST quota: Supreme Court The Supreme Court, in a significant decision, confirmed that persons suffering from disabilities are also socially backward and entitled to the same benefits of relaxation as Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe candidates in publ

Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018

Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 Paper-3- Economics (Mains) Recently, assets worth Rs. 329.66 crore of the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud mastermind Nirav Modi have been confiscated under Section 12(2) and (8) of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018. In this money

Bon Bibi

Bon Bibi Bon Bibi is a deity of the Sunder ban forest, west Bengal. The followers of Bon Bibi are fishermen, crab-collectors and honey-gatherers who live in the mangroves with wild animals such as tigers and crocodiles to earn a livelihood. They believe that only Bon Bibi protects them when they

Sundarbans Wetlands 

Sundarbans Wetlands  Paper-3 Environment and Biodiversity (PT-MAINS) January 30th2019 the Indian Sundarban was accorded the status of ‘Wetland of International Importance’ under the Ramsar Convention. It comprises hundreds of islands and a network of rivers, tributaries and c

12 July,2020
Fishermen Issue with Sri Lanka

Fishermen issue with Sri Lanka GS-Paper-2 International relation – Srilanka and India (Mains-I.V) Recently, Sri Lanka’s northern fishermen have reported a sudden increase in the number of Indian trawlers spotted in its territorial waters. The territorial waters extend sea

Forest fires and their effect on carbon emissions

Forest fires and their effect on carbon emissions During 2003–2017, a total of 5,20,861 active forest fire events were detected in India, and according to the report of the Forest Survey of India, over 54% of the forest cover in India is exposed to occasional fire. The study published

Original antigenic sin

Original antigenic sin Original antigenic sin, also known as the Hoskins effect, refers to the propensity of the body's immune system to preferentially utilize immunological memory based on a previous infection when a second slightly different version of that foreign entity (e.g. a virus o

Antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE)

Antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) Antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE), sometimes less precisely called immune enhancement or disease enhancement, is a phenomenon in which the binding of a virus to non-neutralizing antibodies enhances its entry into host cells, and sometimes also its replic

Assam Keelback Rediscovered

Assam Keelback Rediscovered The Assam keelback (Herpetoreas pealii), a snake endemic to Assam, has been found 129 years after it was last spotted by British tea planter Samuel Edward Peal in 1891. Key Points The snake was considered a lost species since no sighting had been reported sinc

Is airborne transmission of COVID-19 a risk?

Is airborne transmission of COVID-19 a risk? Context * On Monday, July 6, 239 scientists from 32 countries put their signatures on an open letter that said COVID-19 is also transmitted via aerosols. Titled It is Time to Address Airborne Transmission of COVID-19, and addressed to the World Heal

Should Kuwait’s draft expat bill worry India?

Should Kuwait’s draft expat bill worry India? Context * The Kuwait National Assembly (NA) is discussing several proposals to reduce the share of foreigners in the country’s population, which is now pegged at 70%. * There are many proposals under consideration, and one is to put

How is India building up the squadron strength of its air force?

How is India building up the squadron strength of its air force? Context * On July 2, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh approved defence deals worth ?38,900 crore which includes procurement of 21 MiG-29 fighter jets for the Indian Air Force (IAF) a

Hagia Sophia: The museum of conflicts

Hagia Sophia: The museum of conflicts Context * An Eastern Orthodox patriarchal cathedral for about 900 years, an imperial mosque for 482 years and then a museum and a famed tourist spot starting 1935. * This is the short history of Hagia Sophia, the sixth century Byzantine structure that

India - Sri Lanka Relations

India - Sri Lanka Relations Paper-2 I.R India and Srilanka (Mains) In recent years, significant progress in the implementation of developmental assistance projects has further cemented the bonds of friendship between the two countries. The relationship between India and Sri Lanka is


Search By Date

Post Feed
Newsletter Subscription
SMS Alerts