Daily Current Affairs for 14th Aug 2023

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Why in news?

  • Iran moved five Iranian Americans from prison to house arrest as part of a tentative deal that is still being negotiated and could lead to their full release.
  • Iran agreed to the release in exchange for around $6-$7 billion frozen in South Korea because of sanctions on the country.
  • However, Mohammad Jamshidi, the Iranian President’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Political Affairs, said that the American detainees will remain in Iran until the full transfer of frozen funds, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported.

USA’S perspective

  • In the efforts to bring Americans home, Iran’s own funds would be used and transferred to restricted accounts.
  • Such that they can only be used for humanitarian purposes, which is permitted under the sanctions.
  • The development will not lead to any relief in sanctions on Iran.

Iran’s perspective

  • Iran said that the process of releasing billions of dollars from the country’s assets has begun.
  • It added that Iran is pursuing the release of Iranians detained in the U.S. for years.
  • Iran has also insisted that it will have full control over how these assets are used.
  • The deal includes a “significant amount” of funds blocked in the Trade Bank of Iraq.

Role of Qatar and Oman

  • Qatar and Oman have acted as mediators between the U.S. and Iran, including efforts to salvage the 2015 Nuclear Deal that former U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of in 2018.
  • The frozen funds will be transferred to the central bank in Qatar.
  • The account will be regulated by the government of Qatar so that the funds can only be used for humanitarian aid, like medicine and food.
  • South Korea, declined to comment on the U.S.-Iran deal, but hopes for a smooth resolution of the issue of frozen Iranian funds.

Who are the detainees?

  • The U.S. government has identified the Americans as Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz, Emad Sharghi, and two others who reportedly did not want to disclose their identities.
  • Mr. Tahbaz is an Iranian-American businessman and wildlife conservationist who also holds a British passport. He was arrested in 2018 and is serving a ten-year sentence.
  • Mr. Sharghi is a venture capitalist, also serving a ten-year sentence.
  • Mr. Namazi, an Iranian-American citizen, was arrested in Tehran in 2015 for spying and cooperating with the U.S. government.



Yelagiri hut shelters: 200 years of hill tribe history

Why in news?

About Malaiyali tribe

  • More than two centuries ago, over 200 Malaiyali tribespeople built traditional clay huts on the flat peak of the picturesque Yelagiri hill in Tamil Nadu.
  • They established an all-encompassing system for shelter, storage, farming, and cattle rearing.
  • The Malaiyali tribe — malai meaning “hill” and yali meaning “people” — is spread across Tamil Nadu’s hilly regions.
  • The tribespeople were foragers who settled in the upper Nillavur region of Yelagiri and began cultivating its tabletop peak for food.
  • Initially living in makeshift huts, they found a permanent solution in the red loam clay abundant in the hills and constructed simple one-room structures that measured 16 by 22 feet.

About the Yelagiri hut

  • The hut’s body is simple, it acquires a quaint look when the 12-foot roof is attached to the top.
  • Made of dry bamboo leaves, the thatched roof is waxed with cow dung to prevent it from leaking during rain.
  • This covering tends to make the house appear deceivingly small from the outside, but it has enough space to house eight people and a paran (attic) to store pots and other household items.
  • A unique feature of the munn veedu (mud house) or andara kotai (storage facility) is that it stands on a stilt-like structure made of teakwood.
  • This holds the house two feet above the ground to keep rodents at bay and to prevent the house from flooding during torrential rain.



14 States yet to join PM-USHA Scheme

Why in news?

  • The MoU is being signed to show the willingness of the States and Union Territories to participate in the PM-USHA scheme and it will help in the better implementation of the scheme.
  • Discussions are in progress with the 14 remaining States and UTs.

About the PM-USHA Scheme

  • PM-USHA is the new name for the Ministry’s scheme to improve the quality of higher education in State universities.
  • Through curricular and programme changes, teacher training, physical and digital infrastructure, accreditation, and enhancing employability while ensuring equity, access, and inclusion.
  • It provides an outlay of ₹12,926.1 crore between 2023-24 and 2025-26.
  • The scheme has scope to adapt to the differing needs of different States, and even different districts.

State’s concerns

  • The MoU — which makes it mandatory for States to undertake the administrative, academic, accreditation, and governance reforms detailed in the NEP, including an academic credit bank, entry and exit flexibility, and the Samarth e-governance platform has irked some State governments.
  • 40% of the expenses under PM USHA is borne by the States. To implement the NEP, States need more funds and aid from the Centre.
  • This MoU does not say anything about finding funds for changes envisaged under the NEP.

Flexibility for States

  • The MoU contains clauses regarding proper planning, implementation and monitoring of the scheme.
  • Commitment on planning and drafting the proposals by the State by aligning it with NEP will lead to integration between NEP and PM-USHA.
  • States and UTs have also been given the flexibility to identify their focus districts on the basis of various indicators.



Urea Gold’ fertiliser: Fortification of Sulphur with Nitrogen

Why in news?

Recently, the Prime Minister officially launched ‘Urea Gold’ fertiliser.

It was developed by the state-owned Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilisers Ltd (RCF), It is basically urea fortified with sulphur.

  • Normal urea contains 46% of a single plant nutrient: nitrogen, or N.
  • Urea Gold has 37% Nitrogen plus 17% sulphur.

The Need for Urea Gold:

  • Deliver sulphur: The first is to deliver sulphur along with nitrogen. Indian soils are deficient in sulphur, which oilseeds and pulses particularly require.
  • Efficiency: The second is to improve the nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) of urea.
  • Extended Life: Coating sulphur over urea ensures a more gradual release of N. With the prolonged urea action, the plants stay greener for a longer time.

About Urea:

  • Urea is the chief nitrogenous end product of the metabolic breakdown of proteins in all mammals and some fishes.
  • Urea, also called carbamide, is an organic compound with the chemical formula CO(NH₂)₂.
  • The main function of Urea fertiliser with 40% nitrogen content is to provide the plants with nitrogen to promote green, leafy growth.
  • It also aids the photosynthesis process in plants.
  • Urea fertiliser is mainly used for flower growing because it can only supply nitrogen, not phosphorus or potassium.



INS Vindhyagiri: A Project 17A Frigate

Why in news?

Recently, the President of India, launched Vindhyagiri, a Project 17A frigate, at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers sixth ship of the Project 17A frigates.

  • Under the Project 17A programme, four ships by Mumbai-based DockSha Limited (MDL) and three by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited (GRSE) are under construction.
  • The project’s first five ships were launched by MDLand GRSE, between 2019-and 2022.
  • The Project 17A ships have been designed in-house by the Indian Navy’s Warship Design Bureau.
  • According to the Navy, as much as 75% of the orders for equipment and systems of Project 17A ships are from indigenous firms, including MSMEs.

About Project 17A

  • Indian Navy launched Project 17 Alpha frigates (P-17A) in 2019 to build stealth guided-missile frigates.
  • These frigates have radar-absorbent coatings and low observability, making them undetectable to enemies.
  • The first ship, Nilgiri, was launched in 2019, followed by Udaygiri in May 2022, which is expected to be commissioned in 2024.



SuSwagatam Portal: A new initiative for Judicial Reforms

Why in news?

The Supreme Court (SC) recently announced the opening of the portal “SuSwagatam,” which would allow attorneys, visitors, interns, and others to register online and obtain electronic permits to enter the Supreme Court.

  • SuSwagatam is an initiative by the Supreme Court of India to facilitate the common man’s smooth and simple process of getting an ePass to attend and listen to the proceedings.
  • The portal underwent testing as a pilot project in July 2023 and received favourable feedback from its users.
  • Users can request e-passes using this web-based and mobile-friendly tool for a variety of reasons, including attending court proceedings and meeting with advocates.



Parliament’s Privileges Committee: Two MP’s Suspended from parliament

Why in the news?

In the recently concluded monsoon session of Parliament, two members of parliament were suspended from the House on charges of “gross violation of rules, misconduct, defiant attitude, and contemptuous conduct“, pending investigation by the privileges committee.

What are parliamentary privileges?

  • Article 105 and Article 194 of the Indian Constitution provide certain privileges for the Member of Parliament and State Assembly, respectively.
  • The Parliamentary Privilege is given so that they can perform their duties and function effectively in their legislative roles.

About the Parliamentary Privilege Committee:

  • Each house has its own Privilege Committee
  • The Speaker appointed 15 members of the Committee for Lok Sabha, and 10 members for Rajya Sabha.
  • The Speaker of the Lok Sabha designates the chairman of the privileges committee.
  • The deputy chair of the Rajya Sabha is in charge of the privileges committee.
  • The function of the Parliamentary Privilege Committee is to look into every inquiry concerning violating the House’s or a Committee member’s privilege.
  • Its report makes determinations regarding the relevant facts and pertinent recommendations.

Do You Know?

  • Parliamentary Privileges do not extend to the president, who is also an integral part of the Parliament.

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