Current Affairs February 2017 - International


News 1 - UNICEF launched 3.3 Billon USD appeal for crisis suffered children


To help millions of children caught up in crisis worldwide, UNICEF came forward and launched an appeal for amount 3.3 billion US Dollar. 2017 appeal represents an 18% increase from the initial request for funding in 2016, as 42% of the UNICEF appeal for 2017. USA has always been topmost donor followed by Germany, Britain and the European Commission.

UN agencies have been requesting funding for war suffered countries such as Syria, Yemen and South Sudan, especially for children not going to school, children not being protected etc.

News 2 - Ireland became the World’s first country with no budget for funding in fossil fuels


Ireland created history by passing legislation in Parliament with 90 to 53 vote in favour of dropping coal, oil and gas investments from the 8 Billion (£6.8bn) Ireland Strategic Investment Fund. It was done to save underdeveloped people from alarmist climate change such as famine, mass emigration and civil unrest.

As the bill gets passed in legislation, the bill would bind the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund to sell its investment in fossil fuel industries over the next five years. Prior to Ireland, Norway's sovereign pension fund divested from some fossil fuel companies, but not all, in 2015.

News 3 - China examined the DF-5C missile with 10 nuclear warheads

DF-5C Missile

China tested the flight missile of DF-5C missile that can carry up to 10 nuclear warheads, from the Taiyuan Space Launch Centre in Shanxi province. The DF-5C is a three-stage, liquid-fuelled ballistic missile with a range of around 15,000 kms.

The DF-5C missile is a new variant of the DF5, a Chinese intercontinental ballistic missile. It is developed with an aim to deliver nuclear weapons. Missile carrying 10 dummy warheads weighs 183,000 kgs and is a response to development of US’s ballistic missile defence system.

News 4 - India, Sri Lanka inked MoU to build tri-lingual secondary school

India and Sri Lanka

India to construct multi-ethnic tri-lingual school in in a north central district of Sri Lanka that would provide learning opportunities in a multi-cultural environment to Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim students. India inked an agreement with island nation for building ethnic school in Sri Lanka at the cost of 30 crore rupees. Indian Government will provide SLR 300 million to Sri Lanka for building school.

It involves building class rooms, laboratories, library, sports club as well as instalment of furniture and other equipment.

News 5 - Kathmandu hosted the 53rd SAARC programming committee meeting


Since the postponement of the 19th SAARC Summit in November 2016, a 2-day meeting of SAARC Programming Committee was held in Kathmandu. The Programming Committee is the lowest level meeting in SAARC after the SAARC Standing Committee, which is held at the foreign secretary level. Meeting was done with the aim to mark revival of the regional bloc.

Budget allocation of 5 SAARC regional centres, some specialised bodies and SAARC annual program was discussed in a 2-day meeting.

News 6 - Bill introduced in US senate to cut legal immigration by half

Legal Immigration

In the United States of America, two top Senators have introduced a legislation in the Senate, proposing to cut the level of immigrants to the country by half. The RAISE Act, introduced by Republican senator Tom Cotton and Democrat David Perdue has proposed to reduce the number of green card or Legal Permanent Residency issued every year from currently about a million to half a million.

The current wait period of an Indian to get a green card varies from 10 years to 35 years and this could increase if the proposed bill becomes a law.

News 7 - World’s longest commercial flight landed in New Zealand

World’s Longest Commercial Flight

The world’s longest non-stop commercial flight landed in Auckland, New Zealand. Qatar Airways flight QR920 from Doha to Auckland arrived after 14,535 kms trip. It took 16 hours 23 minutes to complete the trip. The longrange Boeing 777-200LR crossed 10 time zones on its marathon flight.

The flight had four pilots on board as well as 15 cabin crew members. Air India’s Delhi-San Francisco flight claims the world’s longest by flying distance.

News 8 - Iran Lifts Ban on American Wrestling Team

American Wrestling Team

Iran has lifted a ban on U.S. wrestlers. It will allow the American wrestlers to participate in the Freestyle World Cup to be held in Kermanshah. Freestyle World Cup is one of the most prestigious competitions in international wrestling.

Iran had imposed the ban following the announcement of President Donald Trump to suspend travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran. However, the ban was lifted after a US Federal judge overruled the "discriminative restrictions".

News 9 - Nepal to host the 4th BIMSTEC Summit 2017


Nepal will host the fourth edition of BIMSTEC Summit-2017. The agenda for the summit would include connectivity, energy and economic development.

BIMSTEC - Bay of Bengal Initiative on Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, is the sub-regional group of seven countries in South Asia and South East Asia lying in the Bay of Bengal. The member countries are India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka from South Asia and Myanmar, Thailand from South East Asia.

News 10 - China becomes the world’s largest producer of solar power

Solar Power

China aimed to double its current solar energy capacity by 2020, following which it generated 66.2 billion kilowatt-hours of energy at 43 GW installed capacity in 2016. With this, China has surpassed Germany and became world's largest solar energy producer after nearly doubling its installed photovoltaic capacity in 2016.

Other developed countries, including Japan, Belgium, Italy, and the United States are still far ahead of China in per-capita solar production, as China produced 40.78 gigawatts in November 2016.

News 11 - India proposed Global Services Accord Pact to WTO Chief Roberto Azevedo


India presented the proposed Trade Facilitation in Services (TFS) Agreement to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevedo and India Inc. in an event organized by Confederation of Indian Industry in New Delhi.

India is pitching for this agreement as the services sector contribute about 60% in the country’s GDP, and 28% in the total employment. The Trade Facilitation in Services (TFS) Agreement aims to ease norms including those relating to movement of foreign skilled workers/professionals.

News 12 - US, Japan successfully test the Interceptor Missile in space

US and Japan

The U.S. and Japan successfully tested the latest ballistic- missile interceptor that intercepts enemy missiles in space. The test took place at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii.

The Raytheon-built SM-3 Block 2A interceptor can sense ballistic missile attacks from space and neutralize the threats. It is a bigger and more capable version of the Raytheon-built SM-3 Block 1A and 1B interceptors in terms of boosters and the kinetic warhead, which allows for increased operating time.

News 13 - Longest elevated cycle path in the World opened in China

Longest Elevated Cycle

The longest elevated cycle path in the world was opened in Xiamen city of China. The route has been named as the "winding viaduct". It was designed by the Copenhagen-based architecture firm "Dissing + Weitling".

The track is five miles long and 16 feet wide. It can carry 2,023 cyclists per hour. Individuals without bicycles can also hire one of 300 hire bikes along the route. There are 11 entrances onto the path which connect to 11 bus stops and two underground rail stations.

News 14 - Frank-Walter Steinmeier elected as the new President of Germany


Frank-Walter Steinmeier has been voted as the new President of Germany by a Parliamentary Assembly made up of 1,260 MPs and representatives of Germany’s 16 states. He previously served as vice chancellor and foreign minister under current Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Steinmeier will replace Joachim Gauck who will step down on March 18. He was chairman-in-office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2016. Steinmeier is a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD).

News 15 - Tehmina Janjua Appointed as the First Woman Foreign Secretary of Pakistan

Tehmina Janjua

Pakistan has appointed Tehmina Janjua as the new Foreign Secretary of the country. Prior to this appointment, she was serving as Pakistan's permanent representative to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva.

Janjua is the first woman appointed to the Foreign Office's top post. She will replace the outgoing foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry. She joined the Foreign Service in 1984. She has served as the Pakistan envoy to Italy from December 2011 to October 2015.

News 16 - Exercise Cobra Gold 2017 began in Thailand


Thailand and the United States co-hosted the annual, multilateral Exercise Cobra Gold in various areas throughout the Kingdom of Thailand.

The 36th version of the military exercise, brought together more than two dozen nations to address regional and global security challenges and to promote international cooperation and stability within the region. As many as 30 nations participated in the drill including China, India, Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia, who were either involved in or were observing the exercises.

News 17 - UNICEF Makes $110 Million Appeal for Sudan Children

Sudan Children

The United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF) office in Sudan has made an appeal to raise $110 million to meet humanitarian needs for children in Sudan as a part of its annual global Humanitarian Action for Children.

The UN Agency has plans to reach out to over two million children this year across Sudan. According to the UNICEF figures, two million children under the age of five in the country are acutely malnourished, 550,000 of them severely malnourished.

News 18 - India sanctioned $340 million to Nepal for various development programs

India and Nepal

India has sanctioned a soft loan of 340 million US dollars to Nepal for various infrastructure development programs. Under this program, Mahakali bridge and 15 roads will be constructed in various parts of Nepal.

Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Ranjit Rae handed over the approval papers to Physical Infrastructure and Transport Minister of Nepal Ramesh Lekhak in the presence of Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu. Mr. Suresh Prabhu was in Nepal to attend the Nepal Infrastructure Summit 2017.

News 19 - Apple acquired Israel based start-up RealFace


Apple has acquired Israel-based start-up RealFace. The terms of the deal aren’t public, but it’s estimated at “several million dollars.”

RealFace is a small start-up, founded in 2014. It is a cyber security and machine learning firm specialising in facial recognition technology. RealFace had earlier raised around $1 million prior to the acquisition. RealFace had earlier developed an app, Pickeez, that used facial recognition technology to choose the best pictures of a user from all their social networks.

News 20 - Zealandia: a submerged continent in the Pacific Ocean


Scientists in the journal of the Geological Society of America have reported to have been found a continent beneath the southwest Pacific Ocean.

The land mass of 4.5 million square kilometres is 94% underwater with only its highest points – New Zealand and New Caldeonia above the surface. ‘Zealandia’ is believed to have broken away from Australia about 80 million years ago, and sank beneath the sea as part of the breakup of the super-continent known as Gondwanaland.

News 21 - US President appointed Lt. Gen. Herbert Raymond McMaster as the new National Security Advisor

Gen. Herbert Raymond

US President Donald Trump has appointed Lt. Gen. Herbert Raymond McMaster as his new National Security Advisor following the ouster of Michael Flynn. Mr. McMaster is currently Director of the Army Capabilities Integration Centre.

Flynn had been forced out by Mr Trump following revelations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about discussing sanctions with Russia's ambassador to the US during the presidential transition. The acting National Security Advisor, Gen (Retd.) Keith Kellogg, will now serve as Mr Trump's National Security Council Chief of staff.

News 22 - Azerbaijan President names his wife as the Country’s First Vice President


Azerbaijan's President, Ilham Aliyev, appointed his wife, Mehriban, as the first vice-president of the nation. The first vice president takes over the presidency if the president is unable to perform his or her duties.

Aliyeva is a Deputy Chair-Woman of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party. She is also the Head of the Heidar Aliyev Foundation – a large nongovernmental organization. Mehriban graduated from a medical university.

News 23 - WTO's trade facilitation agreement seeks to ease norms

WTO's Trade Facilitation

WTO's trade facilitation agreement, which seeks to ease customs norms with its two-thirds members ratifying the pact. The TFA, which has been ratified by India, will give a boost to the global trade, which has been impacted due to slowdown in the world economy. As per experts, the agreement comes at a time when India's efforts to improve exports are gaining momentum.

As this pact has come into force, the member countries who have ratified would now be required to ease customs barriers.

News 24 - China to host the 9th annual BRICS Summit

BRICS Summit

China will host the ninth BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) annual summit in Xiamen city from September 3-5, 2017. The theme of this year's event is 'BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future'.

Xiamen, also historically known as Amoy, is a major resort city in Fujian Province on the Taiwan Strait. The city is well known for its amiable climate. It was ranked as China’s “most romantic leisure city” in 2011.

News 25 - China emerged as the biggest trading partner of Germany for first time

China and Germany

China has emerged as the biggest trading partner of Germany for the first time beating the United States and France. German imports from and exports to China rose to 170 billion euros ($180 billion) in 2016.

France remained the second-most important business partner with a combined trade volume of 167 billion euros. The United States came in third with 165 billion euros. The USA was the biggest imported of goods from Germany with total import worth 107 billion euros in 2016.

News 26 - India, Germany exchange instruments of ratification of Social Security Agreement

India and Germany

India and Germany exchanged instruments of ratification of Social Security Agreement (SSA). The agreement establishes the rights and obligations of nationals of both countries and provides for equal treatment of their nationals and unrestricted payment of pensions even in the case of residence in the other contracting state.

The SSA will come into force from 1st of May this year. India has so far signed and operationalized Social Security Agreements (SSAs) with 18 countries including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and South Korea.

News 27 - SoftBank, Foxconn form a joint venture


Japan’s SoftBank Group and Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Co. Ltd have come up together to form a joint venture. Foxconn will get 54.5% stake in one of SoftBank’s existing subsidiaries for $600 million.

The joint venture will invest in initiatives that will integrate SoftBank’s investment expertise and Foxconn’s advanced manufacturing and technology services. The deal is expected to take effect on 1st of March. Foxconn will manage the operation.