A guide to nuclear talks between Iran and six major powers

Iran and six world powers – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – are in what may be the final phase of negotiations aimed at securing a deal on sanctions relief in exchange for limits on Iranian nuclear activities.

The six powers have a June 30 deadline but diplomats close to the talks expect that to slip.

BACKGROUND

The nuclear standoff between Iran and the West goes back to at least 2002, when a group of exiles revealed undeclared nuclear facilities in Iran. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) later confirmed that they were a uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and a heavy-water production plant at Arak. Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful but Western intelligence agencies are convinced Iran had a nuclear arms programme that went dormant, possibly as far back as 2003.

In 2003, Britain, France and Germany began an inconclusive effort to persuade Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that can produce fissile material, the key component for an atomic bomb.

In 2006, the United States dropped its opposition to engagement with Iran and joined the three European powers, along with Russia and China, a group known both as the “P5+1″ and the “E3+3″.

That year, the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend enrichment and other sensitive nuclear work. This was followed by more draconian restrictions imposed by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union.

Negotiations stalled until Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s 2013 election. In November 2013, Iran and the six powers reached an interim deal that gave Tehran limited sanctions relief in exchange for some curbs on its most sensitive nuclear work. It was meant to buy time to negotiate a final, long-term pact. The interim deal has been extended twice, in July and November last year.

On April 2, Iran and the six agreed on the parameters for a final, long-term deal in Lausanne, Switzerland. The deadline for an agreement is June 30, though negotiations are expected to run into July.

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via Reuters

Assam inclusion paves the way for boundary pact with Bangladesh

Clearing the decks for ratification and operationalisation of a historic land boundary agreement between India and Bangladesh, the Union Cabinet, on 5 May 2015, cleared  a constitutional amendment Bill for consideration and adoption by the two houses of Parliament.

The Constitution (119th Amendment) Bill, 2013 now includes territories in Assam, West Bengal, Meghalaya and Tripura for exchange with Bangladesh. Many of these are enclaves (territory belonging to one country entirely surrounded by the other country), even enclaves within enclaves.

CLICK HERE to know the background, details of India-Bangladesh land swap deal.

Via – The Indian Express

 

What is a ‘smart city’ and how it will work

PM Modi had announced his vision to set up 100 smart cities across the country soon after his government was sworn into power mid 2014. Since then a race has been on among cities to land on the list that the ministry of urban development is compiling. The 100 smart cities mission intends to promote adoption of smart solutions for efficient use of available assets, resources and infrastructure.

Basically, a ‘smart city’ is a city equipped with basic infrastructure to give a decent quality of life, a clean and sustainable environment through application of some smart solutions.

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Via – Times of India

 

Cracking the mobile code – Is it good idea to jettison the website?

With the Big App Shopping sale in March this year, Flipkart bid adieu to its mobile website. Fashion major Myntra, which has already shut down its mobile website, is contemplating ditching the browser-based shopping altogether. Having an app is not just de rigueur now, e-commerce firms are actively pushing consumers to their apps and encouraging them to buy through them with attractive discounts and deals. From Amazon’s Appiness Day in November 2014 to Myntra’s Binge Weekend Sale and Snapdeal’s App Fest in February, it’s raining offers on mobile apps.

A large chunk of the e-retailers  say the shift to mobile app is aimed at creating focused marketing, thus reducing unnecessary expenses and providing best-in-class consumer experience. However, there are a number of considerations to take into account before committing investment to either a mobile website or an app.

Though apps are fast becoming the desired way for e-commerce players to interact with consumers, merchants do understand that it is neither easy nor advisable to force their customers to go down that route. According to a study conducted by ICM Research in the UK, a majority of the customers prefer to interact with retailers through their mobile websites and only download an app if they are incentivised to do so or if they are regular shoppers. However, the same consumers are far more likely to complete transactions through the retailers’ mobile app than through the mobile website. While this study was conducted in only one market, it clearly highlights a key trend: it is the consumer who wants the prerogative to decide how and when she wants to use her smartphone to shop.

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Via – Business Standard News

World Malaria Day: WHO calls to close gaps in prevention and treatment to defeat malaria

WHO is calling on the global health community to urgently address significant gaps in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria. Despite dramatic declines in malaria cases and deaths since 2000, more than half a million lives are still lost to this preventable disease each year.

At least three quarters of malaria deaths occur in children under 5. Yet in 2013, only about 1 in 5 African children with malaria received effective treatment for the disease, 15 million pregnant women did not receive a single dose of the recommended preventive drugs, and an estimated 278 million people in Africa still live in households without a single insecticide-treated bednet.

“As we celebrate World Malaria Day on April 25, we must recognize the urgent need to expand prevention measures and quality-assured diagnostic testing and treatment to reduce the human suffering caused by malaria,” said Dr Hiroki Nakatani, WHO Assistant Director-General for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases.

For uncomplicated malaria cases, WHO recommends the use of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs). Globally, 392 million ACT courses were procured by malaria-endemic countries in 2013, up from just 11 million in 2005. However, millions of people are still not treated for malaria, primarily because the communities most affected by the disease have limited access to health care.

WHO also  recommends diagnostic testing for all suspected malaria cases to ensure that malaria drugs are used only for those who have the disease and that—when a test is negative—other causes of fever are investigated. Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are now widely available and more than 319 million were purchased in 2013 compared to 46 million in 2008. Despite this progress, nearly 40% of people with suspected malaria at public health facilities in Africa are not tested.

The need to urgently address gaps in preventive treatment for malaria is also being highlighted by the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership, which has issued a global call to action to increase national coverage with preventive treatment in pregnancy.

WHO has developed a new global malaria strategy for the 2016-2030 period, which will be reviewed by the World Health Assembly in May 2015. Developed in close consultation with endemic countries and partners, the new strategy sets the target of reducing the disease burden by 40% by 2020, and by at least 90% by 2030. It also aims to eliminate the disease in at least 35 new countries by 2030. The strategy provides a comprehensive framework for countries to develop tailored programmes that will sustain and accelerate progress towards malaria elimination.

Commitments to malaria elimination have already been made by a number of countries and regions. In recent years, elimination efforts have been intensified in many parts of Africa—including in Southern Africa’s “Elimination 8” countries (Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe)—in Central America and Hispaniola, as well as in South-East Asia.

Increased political commitment and greater funding have averted more than 4 million malaria deaths since 2001, and 55 of the 97 countries and territories with ongoing malaria transmission are on track to meet the current World Health Assembly target of reducing malaria incidence by 75% between 2000 and 2015.

World Malaria Day was instituted by WHO Member States during the 2007 World Health Assembly and is celebrated on 25 April each year. It is an occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria control and elimination. The theme for the 2013-2015 campaign is “Invest in the Future. Defeat malaria”.

 

Current Affairs sections updated with March 2015 events

The Current Affairs sections:

Notes on Current Affairs
Current GK
Appointments Etc
Sports News

have been updated with March 2015 news.

These sections are useful for those preparing for Civil Services Exam, UPSC Exams, SSC Exams, Assistant Grade Exam, LIC and other Insurance Recruitment exams, Defence Services exams like NDA & CDS, Bank PO, RBI, Clerks’ Recruitment Exams, MBA, Hotel Management, CLAT, CSAT etc

What is net neutrality and why it is important

Internet is built around the idea of openness. It allows people to connect and exchange information freely, if the information or service is not illegal. Much of this is because of the idea of net neutrality. If you like the current state of the internet, you should know about net neutrality. Many web users are aware of it.

Net neutrality is an idea derived from how telephone lines have worked since the beginning of the 20th century. Some countries have rules that enforce net neutrality but most don’t. Instead, the principle is followed because that is how it has always been. It is more of a norm than a law.

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Via – Economic Times