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18th May 2023

Iran, Russia ink agreement on completing Rasht-Astara railway


Russian and Iran signed a deal to finance and build an Iranian railway line as part of an embryonic international North–South Transport Corridor.

Rasht-Astara railway

  • The Rasht-Astara railway is seen as an important link in the international North–South Transport Corridor, intended to connect India, Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan and other countries via railways and sea - a route that Russia says can rival the Suez Canal as a major global trade route.
  • The 162 km (100 mile) railway along the Caspian Sea coast would help to connect Russian ports on the Baltic Sea with Iranian ports in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf.

North–South Transport Corridor

  • Length: 7 200 km-long-project
  • The foundation of the ‘North-South Transport Corridor’ was laid on the basis of an intergovernmental agreement signed between Russia, Iran, and India on September 12, 2000.
  • In total, 13 countries have ratified the agreement, including Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Oman, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Bulgaria is an observer nation.

Rival to Suez Canal?

  • The Rasht-Astara railway is a route that Russia says can rival the Suez Canal as a major global trade route.


  • Russia and Iran have been pushed to strengthen their political and economic ties by Western economic sanctions on each, which both say are unjustified.
  • Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran has been ostracised by the West and its economy crippled by a myriad of sanctions.
    • It holds around a quarter of the Middle East's oil reserves.
    • The West also imposed other set of restrictions over Iran's nuclear program
  • Russia was sanctioned due to its actions in Ukraine.

India expresses concerns over EU's carbon tax


India has expressed its apprehensions to the European Union regarding the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM).


  • The issue was discussed at the India-EU Trade and Technology Council’s ministerial meeting in Brussels.
  • The meeting also saw India and the EU agreeing to ink a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation in the semiconductor sector.
    • India and the United States had on March 10 signed MoU to pave the way for joint projects and technology partnership for manufacturing semiconductors.


  • India-EU trade reached a historical high, with €120 billion worth of goods traded in 2022.
  • India and the European Union have set ambitious goals of achieving net zero emissions by 2070 and 2050, respectively.
  • They have also made commitments to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and to promote a circular economy.

Brief of CABM

  • The CBAM initiative proposed by the EU aims to levy 20%-35% taxes on carbon-intensive goods exported to any of its 27 member nations starting from January 2026.
  • It imposes importers and non-EU manufacturers to pay for the carbon emission linked to the goods they sell within EU limits.
  • Starting January 2026, the Indian steel, cement, aluminium, and fertiliser industries will pay steep Carbon Border Tax (CBT) imposed by the European Union (EU).
  • The CBAM will walk on the footprints of ETS, i.e., importers will be required to purchase carbon import certificates/ permits for each metric ton of CO2 brought into the EU through specified goods.

India focusing on integrated land management system


In recent years, India has taken proactive steps to digitize land records under the Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme (DILRMP) to create an integrated land management system.

What government is doing?

  • The government revamped the existing National Land Record Modernization Programme (NLRMP) by bringing into force, the Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (DILRMP)
    • DILRMP is a Central Scheme with 100 per cent funding.
    • The programme is slated to be fully implemented by March 2026, with completion of basic digitisation of Record of Rights (RoRs) and Cadastral Maps and integration of the the two , computerisation of Sub Registrar Offices (SROs), and integration of SROs and Revenue Offices by March 2024.

Important Components

  • Bhu-Aadhaar or the Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN) project seeks to assign a 14-digit alpha-numeric number to land parcels in India based on the geo-coordinates of the land parcel.
  • National Generic Document Registration System (NGDRS): It is a uniform system to address the diversity prevailing across States with regards to registration of deeds/documents.
  • Records of Rights: The rights have been transliterated in all the 22 scheduled languages mentioned in the Constitution to address the problem of linguistic barriers in land governance in the country. 

Where does India lack?

  • In India, most property documents must compulsorily be registered under the Registration Act, 1908, failing which they cannot be admitted in court (in case of a dispute) as evidence.

Land registry authority

Under the Indian Constitution, land is a state subject.

  • Despite being a crucial formality for legal documentation, the registration process in India still relies on the outdated physical mode of registration.
  • In 2013, while the government sought to amend the Registration Act to allow the digitization of certain processes, these amendments were never enacted.
  • The central Act must establish minimum standards for remote online registration to ensure that registration throughout India is undertaken in a safe and secure manner.

World likely to breach 1.5C climate threshold by 2027: WMO


The world is almost certain to experience new record temperatures in the next five years, and temperatures are likely to rise by more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, scientists have warned.

Key-highlights of the Report

Previous breaches: Global average surface temperatures have never before breached the 1.5C threshold. The highest average in previous years was 1.28C above pre-industrial levels.

  • The report found there was a 66% likelihood of exceeding the 1.5C threshold in at least one year between 2023 and 2027.
    • For each year from 2023 to 2027, the global near-surface temperature is predicted to be between 1.1C and 1.8C above the pre-industrial average, taken from the years 1850 to 1900.
  • Heat waves: New record temperatures have been set in many areas around the world in the heatwaves of the past year, but those highs may only be the beginning, as climate breakdown and the impact of a developing El Niño weather system combine to create heatwaves across the globe.
  • El Niño and La Niña: El Niño is part of an oscillating weather system that develops in the Pacific. For the past three years, the world has been in the opposing phase, known as La Niña, which has had a dampening effect on temperature increases around the world.
    • As La Niña ends and a new El Niño develops, there is a 98% likelihood that at least one of the next five years will be the hottest on record, the scientists found.

How would it impact?

  • This will have far-reaching repercussions for health, food security, water management and the environment.
  • There is likely to be less rainfall this year in the Amazon, Central America, Australia and Indonesia.
    • That could have calamitous consequences for the planet, which relies on rainforests as massive carbon sinks.

2015 Paris Climate Agreement

Countries have pledged, under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, to try to hold global temperatures to no higher than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, after scientific advice that heating beyond that level would unleash a cascade of increasingly catastrophic and potentially irreversible impacts.

Way Forward

This November, governments will meet for the Cop28 UN climate summit, where they will assess progress towards meeting the goals of the Paris agreement. Known as the “global stocktake”, this assessment is likely to show that the world is far off track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the 43% this decade that is required to have a good chance of limiting temperature rises to 1.5C.

Short News Article

International Relations

Indian Ocean Conference


The 6th Indian Ocean Conference took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh. 


  •  The Indian Ocean Conference is a flagship consultative forum of the Indian Ocean countries to deliberate upon the prospects of regional cooperation for Security and Growth for All in Region (SAGAR).
  • This process began in 2016. 

Bangladesh recently released its Indo-Pacific Outlook. Thus, Bangladesh has joined several other countries in the world that are supporting a Free, Open, Inclusive Indo-Pacific (FOIP). 


Cabinet Approves revision in Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) rates

The Union Cabinet revised the Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) rates for various nutrients i.e. Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P),Potash (K) and Sulphur (S) for Rabi Season 2022-23 (from 01.01.2023 to 31.03.2023) and approved NBS rates for Kharif Season, 2023 (from 1.4.2023 to 30.09.2023) for Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) fertilizers.

  • The Subsidy on P&K fertilizers is governed by Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) Scheme.
  • Government will be providing a subsidy of Rs. 38,000 crores for the Kharif 2023 to fulfil its commitment of providing quality and subsidized P&K fertilizers to farmers.
  • Benefits
    • ensuring availability of DAP and other P&K fertilizers to farmers at subsidized, affordable and reasonable prices during Kharif season
    • ensure rationalization of subsidy on P&K fertilizers
  • Kharif crops include rice, maize, sorghum, sugar cane, millet/bajra, finger millet/ragi (cereals), arhar (pulses), soyabean, paddy, groundnut (oilseeds), cotton, etc. 
  • Rabi crops include wheat, barley, oats (cereals), chickpea/gram (pulses), linseed, mustard (oilseeds) etc.


Sustainable pasture management

Scientific management of pastures can play a huge role in enhancing soil health and improving water quality.


  • Pasture land refers to a type of land used for grazing livestock, such as cows, sheep, and goats.
  • It is an important resource for livestock farmers as it provides a source of food for their animals.
  • Methods to protect pastures
    • Demarcating pastures and their boundaries
    • Prevention of encroachment
    • Reserved area should not be used for any other purpose. 
    • Growing fodder crops: Chari jowar, maize, bajra, dinanath grass, barseem, lucern, stylo grass


Thawing permafrost in the Arctic

With rising global temperatures, thawing permafrost is likely to destabilise thousands of industrial sites in the Arctic, which could result in the spread of toxic substances across the region, according to a new study.


  • Permafrost is essentially any ground that stays frozen — 0 degree Celsius or lower — for at least two years straight.
  • Permafrost is composed of “a combination of soil, rocks and sand that are held together by ice.
  • The soil and ice in permafrost stay frozen all year long.
  • These permanently frozen grounds are often found in Arctic regions such as Greenland, Alaska (the United States), Canada, Russia and Eastern Europe.


U.S. okays use of bird-flu vaccine for California condors

To prevent additional deaths of critically endangered California condors, US have approved the emergency use of a vaccine against the highly contagious avian flu that’s plaguing birds nationwide.

About California condor

  • The California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) is one of the world's largest flying birds with a wingspan of up to 9 feet (2.7 meters) and weighing more than 20 pounds (9 kg).
  • It is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Bird Flu

  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza, or bird flu is an infectious type of influenza that spreads among birds. In rare cases, it can affect humans.
  • The virus largely spread by wild birds that transmit it to poultry.


Two judgments and the principle of accountability


Two Constitution Benches of the Supreme Court of India delivered important judgments last week. The first case decided was regarding the Delhi government, while the second case involved the formation of the government in Maharashtra.

Contradiction of Two principle

  • Delhi case: SC explained that there exists triple chain of command: civil service officers are accountable to Ministers; Ministers are accountable to the legislature; and the legislature is accountable to the electorate. 
  • Maharashtra Judgement: Court stated that 10th schedule marks difference between the legislature part and political party. It ruled that power to issue directions was with the political party and not the legislature party.
  • Contradiction: The judgement establishes the power of the Party leadership over the legislature. It reinforces the idea that MP/MLA is not accountable to the electorate but only to party. This contradicts the triple chain of accountability.

The problem is with Anti-defection law

  • Wrong assumption: The underlying assumption behind the enactment of the anti-defection law is that any vote by an MP/MLA against the party mandate is treachery against the electoral mandate. This is faulty understanding of the representative democracy.
  • Party affiliation is not absolute: While party affiliation is an important element in elections, it is not the sole criterion for voters. Supreme Court has recognised this principle and asked all candidates to disclose information in order to allow voters to take an informed decision.
  • Example: Karnataka by-elections were triggered due to the defection of several Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) MLAs in 2019. 13 of the defectors contested on a BJP ticket, and 11 of them were re-elected. Thus the electorate endorsed the candidate and not the original party.
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