Current Affairs August 2016 - International


News 1 - Malaysia enacts new security law

Najib Abdul Razak

Malaysia enacted a new security law that gives the government broad, unchecked powers. It allows for authorities to create a so-called 'security zone' inside which arrests and seizures can happen without warrants.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is facing calls to resign over a huge alleged 1MDB (Malaysia Development Berhad) corruption scandal. Some say the government could use this law to ward off political and legal challenges. However, the Prime Minister said the law was needed to counter security threats.

News 2 - Yuriko Koike elected as the first woman Governor of Tokyo

Yuriko Koike

Former Defence Minister Yuriko Koike has been elected as the first woman Governor of Tokyo. She is also the first woman governor of Japan. She beat closest opponent Hiroya Masuda by more than a million ballots, who was backed by Prime Minister ShinzoAbe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

The World Economic Forum ranks Japan 101st out of 145 in terms of gender equality, and only 9.5% of Japan's House of Representatives are women.

News 3 - Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' elected as Nepal PM

Pushpa Kamal Dahal

Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' has been elected as the new Prime Minister of Nepal. The 61-year-old CPN-Maoist Centre chief, was elected Prime Minister with 363 votes in favor and 210 against him. Mr. Prachanda became Prime Minister of Nepal for the second time. He held this post during 2008 - 2009. He is also the only communist leader to become the Prime Minister of the country twice.

The Prime Minister's post became vacant on 24th of July, after CPN-UML chairman K P Sharma 'Oli' resigned.

News 4 - Tunisia's PM HabibEssid loses confidence vote in parliament


In Tunisia, Prime Minister HabibEssid has lost a confidence vote in parliament, after just a year and a half in office. A total of 118 Members of Parliament voted to unseat Essid, just three voted for him to stay at the helm and 27 abstained.

Essid's government has been widely criticised for failing to tackle the country's economic crisis and terror related issues. He had been under growing pressure since President BejiCaidEssebsi criticised the government.

News 5 - WHO to remove transgenders from its mental disorders list


The World Health Organization (WHO) is considering to remove the transgender from the WHO's list of mental disorders in its global list of medical conditions following calls from researchers and advocates.

A study led by the National Institute of Psychiatry in Mexico suggested that transgender people struggled to access health care services due to this classification. The change is under review for the next edition of the W.H.O. codebook, which classifies diseases and influences the treatment of patients worldwide.

News 6 - Typhoon Nida lashes Hong Kong

Typhoon Nida

Typhoon Nida made landfall near Dapeng Peninsula in China’s Guangdong province, bringing heavy rain and damaging winds across parts of southern China. Typhoon Nida (which is locally known as Carina), lashed the Chinese city Hong Kong that is located about 42 kilometers from the Dapeng Peninsula.

The government has warned of flooding in low-lying areas and asked people to stockpile food and other essentials. Nida hit the Philippines on 30 July 2016, pouring up to 11 inches of rain over the northern parts.

News 7 - 7th meeting of SAARC Immigration Authorities held in Islamabad


The 7th meeting of SAARC Immigration Authorities was held in Islamabad. Pakistan's Director General Immigration and Passports, Usman A. Bajwa, was unanimously elected as Chairman and chaired the meeting.

It reviewed different areas to maximize the potential of visa exemption scheme launched among the member countries in 1992. It also deliberated on development of security software for SAARC visa exemption scheme and immigration matters. Visa exemption schemes are being implemented among SAARC countries in 24 categories including dignitaries, businessmen, journalists and sports persons.

News 8 - Japan cabinet approves economic stimulus package worth $275 bn

Japan Cabinet

Japan's cabinet has approved an economic stimulus package worth 275 billion dollars. It is the latest attempt by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to kick-start the economy and boost growth. The package includes spending for the national and local governments over the next 2 years. More than half of that sum has been earmarked for the current fiscal year.

The stimulus package would be included in a supplementary budget, which will be considered by an extraordinary session of Parliament starting in September. The government expects the measures to boost gross domestic product by 1.3%.

News 9 - Nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri executed for treason in Iran

Shahram Amiri

Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri detained since 2010 has been executed on account of treason.

He was convicted of handing over “confidential and vital” information to the United States. Amiri went missing after taking a pilgrimage to Mecca in 2009 and returned to Tehran in 2010. In mid-July 2010, the Washington Post reported that he was allegedly paid $5m by the CIA for the intelligence he had shared on Iran’s nuclear activities.

News 10 - Over 1000 Dancing Robots Set Guinness Record in China

Dancing Robots

A new Guinness World Record was set after more than 1,000 robots performed a synchronized dance routine in Qingdao city, China. Each robots were just under 44 centimeters in height.

1,040 robots started their synchronized dance routine. Of them, 1,007 finished the challenge, setting a new Guinness World Record for the largest simultaneous robot dance. The attempt was organized by Qingdao-based Ever Win Company which almost doubled the previous record of 540 dancing robots which was achieved earlier this year by Chinese company UBTECH Robotics Corp.

News 11 - First-ever 'Pizza ATM' opens in the US

Pizza ATM

The first-ever 'Pizza ATM' was installed in the US at the university campus of Xavier University (XU) in Ohio. The pizza vending machine can hold seventy 12-inch pizzas and dispense them fresh and hot in just three minutes.

Customers can select what kind of pizza they want using the 24-hour machine's touchscreen. The cost of each pizza is around $10, with the ATM accepting credit and debit cards, as well as a student card.

News 12 - Russian watchdog imposes 6.8 million dollar fine on Google


Russia's anti-monopoly watchdog ruled that Google would have to pay a 6.8 million dollar fine, for pre-installing applications on mobile devices running its Android operating system.

Following a complaint by Russia's Yandex company, the watchdog, FAS, had ruled last September that Google had broken antimonopoly laws. It had ruled that Google had abused its market position with Android, by favoring some of its digital services over those of rivals. Yandex is a technology company specializing in Internet-related services and it operates the largest search engine in Russia.

News 13 - Russian President dismissed chief of staff Sergei Ivanov


Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed Sergei Ivanov, his chief of staff and one of his closest allies as head of the Russian Presidential Administration. The 63-year-old has now been made a special representative for environmental and transport issues. Mr Ivanov took up the post in December 2011. He served previously as a deputy prime minister and defence minister.

Anton Vaino, has been appointed as his successor. Mr Vaino, 44, is a former diplomat.

News 14 - 6,900 km gas pipelines to connect Bangladesh, Myanmar, India


The government is planning to lay 6,900 km of gas pipelines linking BSitwe (Myanmar), Chittagong (Bangladesh), most north-eastern states, Siliguri and Durgapur (West Bengal).

The pipeline is a part of ‘Hydrocarbon Vision 2030’. The Hydrocarbon Vision 2030 envisions doubling the production of oil and natural gas in the north-east and promoting trade between the region and the neighboring SAARC countries. ONGC Board has approved a plan to invest Rs 5,050 crore by 2022 to explore more gas in Tripura.

News 15 - Sri Lanka and China sign a tripartite agreement to construct Financial City Center in Colombo

Sri Lanka and China

Sri Lanka and China signed a tripartite agreement to construct the Colombo International Financial City (CIFC) formerly known as the Colombo Port City. The agreement was signed between Sri Lanka's Urban Development Authority, the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development and the China Harbour Engineering Company.

The project would transform Sri Lanka into an international financial hub in the Indian Ocean region. The project is expected to create thousands of jobs in the country.

News 16 - Zambian President Edgar Lungu re-elected

Edgar Lungu

Zambian President Edgar Lungu, leader of the Patriotic Front (PF), won the re-election but the result was immediately challenged by his main opponent Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND).

Lungu won 50.35 percent of votes against 47.67 percent for Hichilema. Lungu's re-election will see him remain in power for another five-year term. The election was fought around the issues of rising unemployment, mine closures, power shortages and high inflation.

News 17 - First SAARC Youth Parliamentarians Conference begins in Islamabad

Youth Parliamentarians Conference

The first two-day (from August 16 to 18, 2016) South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Youth Parliamentarians Conference on `Peace and Harmony for Development’ was held in Islamabad, Pakistan. The conference is being jointly hosted by National Assembly of Pakistan and Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary services.

The conference is aimed at offering ‘young parliamentarians’ narrative’ in the run up to the 19th SAARC Summit scheduled in Pakistan in November. 50 Members of Parliament from SAARC countries are taking part in the conference. Indian delegation includes Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo, Alok Tiwari and Devisingh Patel.

News 18 - China, ASEAN countries agree to form South China Sea framework

China, ASEAN Countries

China and ten members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations [ASEAN] have agreed to form a framework for a code of conduct to ease tension in the disputed South China Sea. They also agreed to set the sea rules and guidelines for a hotline for use during maritime emergencies for avoiding conflict.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said documents on the hotline and unplanned encounters would be presented for final approval to leaders in Laos next month at a meeting between China and ASEAN members.

News 19 - India and Bangladesh to jointly make films on 1971 war, Sheikh Mujibur

India and Bangladesh

India and Bangladesh will jointly produce a documentary on the 1971 War of Independence of Bangladesh. India will also facilitate the production of a "mega movie" by Bangladesh to mark the 100th birth anniversary of its Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 2020.

Also, All India Radio would be launching an exclusive service for Bangladesh and Bengali diaspora titled "Akashvani Maitree" on August 23. The proposed documentary would commemorate the 50th year of Bangladesh Independence in 2021.

News 20 - World's Longest, Highest Glass Bridge to Open in China

Highest Glass Bridge

The world's longest and highest glass bridge will open to visitors on 20th of August in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, central China. The bridge is 430 metres long and 300 metres high. It is 6-meter wide and paved with 99 panes of three-layer transparent glasses.

The bridge has set 10 world records spanning its design and construction. The construction was completed in December 2015. A maximum of 8,000 visitors are allowed to cross the bridge every day.

News 21 - World’s largest aircraft embarks maiden flight


The world's largest aircraft, Airlander 10, started on its maiden flight in Cardington, central England. It is a hybrid airship i.e. it is a partly plane and partly airship filled with helium gas. It is 92-metre-long and 43.5m wide.

It can fly at up to 4,880 metres and reach speeds of 148 kilometres per hour. It can also carry a 10-tonne payload. It is made by Hybrid Air Vehicles in United Kingdom.

News 22 - MoU signed between Indian Oil Corporation Limited and the Roads and Highways Department of Banglades

Indian Oil Corporation Limited

Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) and the Roads and Highways Department of People’s Republic of Bangladesh signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Dhaka. The MoU enables IOCL to send its trucks carrying Motor Spirit, High Speed Diesel, Superior Kerosene Oil & Liquefied Petroleum Gas from Meghalaya to Tripura via territory of Bangladesh.

The validity of this facility is till end September, 2016. Both sides have also agreed to extend the transit facility for a further short period on need basis.

News 23 - Alibaba Group launches ‘million books’ donation drive in India


Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group along with Crossword and Ratna Nidhi Charitable Trust has launched ‘Mission Million Books’ in India. It is a pan-India initiative inviting people to donate textbooks and educational material to empower those who are underprivileged.

The Alibaba Group would donate over 50,000 books to the campaign. The collected material will be distributed to more than 2,500 educational institutions across India. The campaign, which will run till September 16, also supports the government's efforts to enable access to quality education for all.

News 24 - India pledges Nepali Rs 3.9 Cr for upgrading Sanskrit school in Nepal

India Pledges Nepali

India has pledged financial assistance worth Nepali Rs 39.97 million for the construction of a new building and a hostel facility at a Sanskrit school in Ilam district of Nepal.

A tripartite agreement between the Indian Embassy, the Local Development Officer, Ilam District, and Principal of Shree Saptmai Gurukul Sanskrit Vidhyashram Secondary School was signed in this regard which is a part of India-Nepal Economic Cooperation Programme.

News 25 - Myanmar to support China’s OBOR, BCIM initiatives


Myanmar has officially announced to support China’s ambitious One Belt and One Road (OBOR) connectivity initiative along the ancient Silk Road. Myanmar also extended its support to the Bangladesh-China-IndiaMyanmar (BCIM) economic corridor meant to industrialise a stretch spanning more than 2,000-km. BCIM corridor links Kunming in China with Mandalay in Myanmar and passes through Bangladesh and ends at Kolkata in India.

President Xi Jinping pledged to promote the China-Myanmar comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership and bring more tangible benefits to the people of both countries. Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi was in China for a five-day official visit.

News 26 - Philippines' President Duterte threatens to quit UN


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte railed against the United Nations after it called for an end to the wave of killings unleashed by his war on drugs. He threatened to leave the organization. Duterte also said the Philippines will invite China and African nations to form another global organization in place of United Nations, as world body is not doing enough to address hunger and terrorism.

Two UN human rights experts last week urged Manila to stop the extra-judicial executions and killings that have escalated since Duterte won the Presidency.

News 27 - India increases USD$ 1 million grant to Zimbabwe


External Affairs Ministry extended a grant of USD one million to Zimbabwe as a part of first phase of assistance, co-operating to an appeal made by the African nation to deal with severe drought caused by El Nino phenomenon. Major agricultural sector has been destroyed by warming of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean.

An estimated 2.4 million people are now facing food crisis in the country. India will help the African nation by donating 500 metric tonnes of rice as part of the second phase of assistance.

News 28 - China inaugurates its first EMU technology bullet trains of 350 kmph speed

Bullet Trains

China’s first passenger train using Electric Multiple Units technology with 350 kmph speed was inaugurated from Dalian for Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning. It is the first passenger service using China Standard Electric Multiple Units (EMU) trains with the latest exterior design and less energy consumption.

China's EMU fleet of 2,470 trains is the world's largest, and the total length of high-speed track in the country - 19,000 km - represents 60 per cent of the global total.

News 29 - First Ever Festival of India in Australia

Indian Festival

The Festival of India will be held from August to November 2016 in seven cities across Australia. It will present some of the finest elements of India’s classical and contemporary culture through a variety of dance, music, theatre, visual arts and textiles.

The Festival is being organized under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture with the support of ICCR and India Tourism. It has also received local support. The Festival is coordinated by the High Commission of India in Australia.

News 30 - 'Shankhachil' selected for Montreal Film Festival


National award-winning film "Sankhachil" has been selected for the coveted 40th Montreal World Film Festival. The film essays the pain and anguish of people living on both sides of the border following the partition of Bengal. Directed by Goutam Ghosh and starring Prosenjit Chatterjee, the film is an Indo-Bangla joint production.

The Montreal World Film Festival is one of Canada's oldest international film festivals. The public festival is held annually in late August in the city of Montreal in Quebec.

News 31 - Indo-Canadian Sikh MP becomes Canada’s 1st woman House leader

Bardish Chagger

Indo-Canadian Sikh MP Bardish Chagger has been named as the new Leader of the government in Canada’s House of Commons. She became the first woman to hold the post in the country’s history and guiding government legislation through Parliament. She replaces Dominic LeBlanc.

Ms Chagger currently holds the portfolio of Minister of Small Business and Tourism. She was among 19 Indian-origin candidates who won in last year’s general election. She is an MP from Waterloo.

News 32 - PM Narendra Modi, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani jointly inaugurate the restored Stor Palace in Kabul

Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi jointly inaugurated the newly-restored Stor Palace in Kabul along with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani via video link. Work for the palace was completed through a public-private partnership with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in four years.

The Stor Palace is located in the Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Campus in Kabul. The newly renovated and restored building will house the Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Besides, it will also serve as the venue for hosting official domestic and international events by the Afghan government.

News 33 - OIC to hold international conference for peace, reconciliation in Afghanistan


The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, OIC, will hold an international conference of Islamic scholars in Makkah and Madina during October 8-10 to promote peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. This was informed by the OIC Secretary-General, Iyad Ameen Madani, during a meeting with Afghan Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Foreign Minister Syed Salahuddin Rabbani in Kabul.

Taliban have rejected the conference as an intelligence ploy and urged Ulema to stay away from the gathering.

News 34 - Lithuania signs a contract to purchase German military vehicles worth 437 million US Dollar


Lithuania has signed a contract to purchase German military vehicles worth 437 million US Dollar. It is the largest weaponry pu rchase in the history of Baltic country having a population of nearly 2.9 million.

The deal was signed for purchase of 88 armored Boxer cars. The agreement comes amid growing tensions over neighboring Russia's increased military presence in the Baltic Sea region.

News 35 - US Postal Service honors Diwali Festival with a Forever Stamp


The U.S. Postal Service will commemorate the joyous Hindu festival of Diwali with a Forever stamp. The first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony of the Forever Stamp will take place at the Consulate General of India, New York on 5 October 2016.

The stamp design is a photograph featuring a traditional diya oil lamp beautifully lit, sitting on a sparkling gold background. The Diwali stamp is being issued as a Forever stamp. This Forever stamp will also be equal in value to the current First Class Mail 1-ounce price.

News 36 - Colombian government & rebel group FARC sign historic peace accord

Colombian Government

Colombian government and the rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, have signed a historic peace accord, putting an end to more than five decades of conflict. The agreement was signed by the head of the Colombian delegation, Humberto de la Calle, and the chief FARC negotiator, Ivan Marquez in the Cuban capital Havana.

As per the terms of agreement, FARC will give up its armed struggle and join the legal political process. The left-wing rebels have been fighting Colombian government since 1964. The conflict has killed an estimated 220,000 people and displaced millions.

News 37 - BRICS Disaster Risk Reduction meet adopts Udaipur Declaration

Disaster Risk Reduction Meet

A two-day meeting of BRICS Ministers on Disaster Management concluded in Udaipur, Rajasthan with the adopti on of the Udaipur Declaration. It has been resolved to set up a dedicated Joint Task Force for Disaster Risk Management for regular dialogue, exchange, mutual support and collaboration among BRICS Countries.

The roadmap for implementation of the three year Joint Action Plan (JAP) for BRICS emergency services (2016-18) was also finalized. Through JAP, the countries will work together on exchange of Information on disaster management, research & technology exchange on forecasting and early warning for floods.

News 38 - China's unmanned submersible sets new national record


China's unmanned submersible, "Haidou-1" has dived to a depth of 10,767 metres at the Mariana Trench in the West Pacific during a scientific expedition from June 22 to Aug. 12, setting a new record for the country. The Mariana Trench is the deepest area in the world.

China became the third country after Japan and the United States to have built submersibles capable of reaching depths in excess of 10,000 meters. It will enable China to explore ocean beds for minerals and other natural resources.

News 39 - Toxic gas leak at Bangladesh fertilizer unit sickens 250 people

Toxic Gas

About 250 people, including children, have fallen sick and hundreds of residents have been evacuated from their homes after a toxic gas, Di-ammonium phosphate (DPA), leak from the DAP Fertilizer Company Limited on the bank of Karnaphuli river in Bangladesh's port city of Chittagong.

At the time of the incident, the amount of ammonia in the air was recorded at 600ppm (parts per million) whilst workers at the factory can tolerate conditions with ammonia gas up to 25ppm.

News 40 - World’s first driverless taxis launched in Singapore

Driverless Taxis

Singapore became the first country in the world to launch a self-driving taxi service. The taxis were operated by nuTonomy, an autonomous vehicle software startup. nuTonomy invited a select group of people to download their app and ride for free in its "robo-taxi" in a western Singapore hi-tech business district, hoping to get feedback ahead of a planned full launch of the service in 2018.

NuTonomy’s test vehicles, a Renault Zoe and Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car, will have a computer engineer and backup human driver during the trial phase in case anything goes wrong.

News 41 - President of Myanmar U Htin Kyaw arrived on 4-day visit to India

U Htin Kyaw

President of Myanmar U Htin Kyaw arrived on a four-day visit to India to step up overall bilateral engagement with a major focus on ensuring better management of Indo-Myanmar border as well as to boost trade ties. This is the first presidential visit from Myanmar after Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) assumed power in March this year.

Myanmar, considered one of India's strategic neighbors, shares a 1,640-km-long border with a number of northeastern states including Nagaland and Manipur.

News 42 - India and the United States Sign the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)


India and the United States have signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in Washington DC, USA. LEMOA is a facilitating agreement that establishes basic terms, conditions, and procedures for reciprocal provision of Logistic Support, Supplies, and Services between the armed forces of India and the United States.

Logistic Support, Supplies, and Services include food, water, billeting, transportation, petroleum, medical services, training services, calibration services, and port services. The Agreement will significantly enhance the operational capacity of the Indian Armed Forces, including in their response to humanitarian crises or disaster relief.

News 43 - Memorandum of Agreement signed between IALA and DGLL


A Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) was signed between the IALA (The International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities), Paris, France and DGLL (Directorate General of Lighthouses & Lightships) at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. With the signing of this MoA, the DGLL Training Centre at Kolkata will be in position to deliver a professional training course on the management of marine aids to navigation in line with IALA model course itself.

Directorate General of Lighthouses & Lightships (DGLL) is primarily responsible for providing “Aids to Navigation service” for safety of mariners in the Indian waters.