Iran Current Affairs

42nd session of World Heritage Committee: Four sites added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List

The 42nd session of World Heritage Committee (WHC) meeting of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) held in Manama, Bahrain has inscribed four cultural sites on the World Heritage List. These four cultural sites are Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensemble of Mumbai (India), Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars region (Iran), Hidden Christian Sites in Nagasaki Region (Japan) and Sansa, Buddhist Mountain Monasteries in Korea (South Korea).

Key Facts

Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensemble of Mumbai: These two ensembles bear testimony to the phases of modernization that Mumbai has undergone in course of the 19th and 20th centuries. Mumbai’s Victorian ensemble includes Indian elements suited to climate, including balconies and verandas. Art Deco edifices are found in cinemas and residential buildings, having blend of Indian design with Art Deco imagery, creating unique style that has been described as Indo-Deco.

Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars region: They are eight archaeological sites situated in three geographical parts in southeast of Fars Province of Iran viz. Firuzabad, Bishapur and Sarvestan. These fortified structures, palaces, and city plans date back to earliest and latest times of Sassanian Empire (from 224 to 658 CE). These sites bear witness to influence of Achaemenid and Parthian cultural traditions and of Roman art, which had significant impact on architecture and artistic styles of the Islamic era.

Hidden Christian Sites in Nagasaki Region: It is located in north-western part of Kyushu Island. The 12 components of the site consist of 10 villages, Hara Castle and cathedral, built between the 16th and 19th centuries. Together they reflect earliest activities of Christian missionaries and settlers in Japan. These sites also bear unique testimony to cultural tradition nurtured by hidden Christians in Nagasaki region who secretly transmitted their faith during period of prohibition from 17th to 19th century.

Sansa, Buddhist Mountain Monasteries in Korea: They are Buddhist mountain monasteries located throughout southern provinces of Korean Peninsula. They are spatial arrangement of seven temples that comprise site, (established from 7th to 9th centuries), present common characteristics that are specific to Korea– “madang” (open courtyard) flanked by four buildings (pavilion, Buddha Hall, lecture hall and dormitory). They contain large number of individually remarkable structures, objects, documents and shrines. These mountain monasteries are sacred places, and have survived as living centres of faith and daily religious practice.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The World Heritage Sites are sites selected by UNESCO, having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance and is legally protected by international treaties The list is maintained by international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. The committee comprises of 21 UNESCO member states which are elected by UN General Assembly.

Each World Heritage Site included in the list remains part of the legal territory of the state where it is located. But inclusion of sites in the list by UNESCO is in interest of the international community to preserve each site. Presently, Italy with 50 sites is home to the greatest number of World Heritage Sites.

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Iraq overtakes Saudi Arabia as India’s biggest Oil Supplier

Iraq has overtaken Saudi Arabia to become India’s top crude oil supplier by supplying 38.9 million tonnes (MT) crude oil in the current financial year. It was fifth of the India’s oil needs.

India is 80% dependent on imports to meet its oil needs. India had imported 184.4 MT of crude oil during April-January period of 2017-18 period as compared to 213.9 MT in the entire 2016-17 fiscal, and 202.8 MT in 2015-16.

Key Facts

Saudi Arabia traditionally has been India’s top oil source but Iraq dethroned it. Saudi Arabia supplied 30.9 MT of crude oil in first 10 months of current fiscal. Iran continued to be third largest supplier, selling 18.4 MT during April-January.  This is the second year in a row that Iran has occupied the third position. Venezuela is India’s fourth largest supplier with 15.5 MT during April-January, followed by Nigeria with 14.9 MT.

Imports from West Asia

India’s dependence on West Asia for its crude oil needed has increased from 58% in 2014-15 to 63.7% in April-January period of this fiscal. India had imported 109.9 MT out of 189.4 MT of total crude imports in 2014-15 from region. In the current fiscal so far, West Asia has accounted for 117.5 MT of crude oil supplies to India.

Reasons for increase of imports from Iraq

Iraq was able dethrone Saudi Arabia as India’s largest crude oil supplier mainly by supplying heavily discounted crude compared to crude oil sold by Saudi Arabia at Official Selling Price of OPEC. In given time period, prices of crude oil had shot up following production cuts by OPEC members. However, Iraq did not followed the aggressive pricing due to its heavy dependence on oil revenues to fund its economy. Moreover, Indian refiners in recent years have invested heavily in modernising plants to more efficiently process low grade crudes including Basra heavy crude from Iraq, giving greater flexibility in the cost-saving oil grades they can buy.

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