Current Affairs July 2016 - International
News 1 - International Solar Alliance Cell and World Bank Sign Deal to Boost Solar Energy Globally
The World Bank Group signed an agreement with the International Solar Alliance (ISA), consisting of 121 countries led by India, to collaborate on increasing solar energy use around the world, with the goal of mobilizing $1 trillion in investments by 2030.
The major areas identified for working jointly include:
Developing a roadmap to mobilize financing.
Developing financing instruments including credit enhancement, reduce hedging costs/currency risk, bond raising in locally denominated currencies etc.
Supporting ISA’s plans for solar energy through technical assistance and knowledge transfer.
News 2 - BRICS Youth Summit, 2016 held in Guwahati
A Youth Summit for the BRICS countries was held in Guwahati from July 1-3 with the theme 'Youth as bridge for Intra-BRICS Exchanges'. The subjects covered are Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Social Inclusion, Youth Volunteerism and Youth Participation in Governance. The program for the summit also included thematic debates, cultural events, site-visits and interactive sessions with local youth.
It also adopted the ‘Guwahati BRICS Youth Summit 2016 Call to Action’ and urged the youth from the five member nations to come together for working towards this goal.
News 3 - BRICS Working Group Meeting on Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency held in Visakhapatnam
The first meeting of the BRICS Working Group on ‘Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency’ was held at Visakhapatnam during 4-5 July, 2016 with an aim to enhance cooperation in energy efficiency. The two-day meeting was attended by all 5 members of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries.
In addition to it, India showcased its efforts in energy saving, energy efficiency, particularly the LED street lighting program and PAT (Performance Achievement & Trade) program for industrial energy efficiency.
News 4 - Cyprus set to sign the new Tax Treaty with India
The Government is set to sign a new tax treaty with Cyprus after it successfully completed double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) negotiations with Cyprus. The Double Taxation Avoidance agreement will allow the government to prevent treaty abuse, tax evasion, and round-tripping of funds. It will also remove Cyprus from the Government's blacklist for not providing information.
India had recently reworked its treaty with Mauritius. The reworked agreement will come into force from April 1, 2017.
News 5 - Russian leader Vladimir Putin approves the “Anti-Terrorist” legislation cum ‘Big Brother’ law
Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to the “Anti-Terrorist” legislation which will empower law enforcement agencies to access to any user’s messages without any judicial oversight, increase surveillance powers for the security services by requiring communication providers to save users’ calls, messages, photographs and videos for six months, and the Metadata for up to three years. The law will also increase prison sentences for online crimes like abetting terrorism.
This anti-terror amendment is named as Big Brother by US intelligence contractor turned privacy activist Edward Snowden. According to activist, law will cost various telecom companies about 200 billion rubles ($3.1 billion) to ensure the data storage requirement which is four fold of its annual profit.
News 6 - Indian Department of Commerce establishes apparel training centre in Kaduna, Nigeria
In the view of implementing Cotton Technical Assistance Program for Africa, Indian Department of Commerce decided to set up an apparel training centre in Nigeria to support textiles industry of the West African country.
The main objective behind this decision taken is to support the African nation in re-establishing its cotton and textile value chain and fulfill the need for skilled workforce for domestic as well export-oriented apparel industry in the West African region.
News 7 - Several deals worth $5.3 billion for various programs inked by IMF for Iraq
The IMF declared $5.34 billion financial assistance for Iraq to help strengthen the country's finances, hit by the crash in oil prices and the fight against the Islamic State group. There will be immediate disbursement of $634 million, so that Iraq will settle its balance of payments and ensure it can keep up with its debt obligations.
This program will also take care of the poor and strengthen their financial status. Other targets of this program reforms will help Iraq against money laundering and terror financing.
News 8 - US sanctions North Korean leader and other 5 officials for human rights abuses
For the first time, US has sanctioned a North Korean leader over human rights abuses. The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) assigned top officials of the North Korean regime along with Kim Jong-Un and for their ties to North Korea’s notorious abuses of human rights.
They were sanctioned under the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 based on its findings in its report on Serious Human Rights Abuses or Censorship in North Korea.
News 9 - Largest home-built aircraft Y-20 introduced by China for aviation sector
A breakthrough in military aviation technology inducted by China, by building its largest indigenously-built transport aircraft Y-20 that facilitates the world’s largest force to transport cargo and troops over long distances in diverse weather conditions.
The maximum take-off capability weight for the aircraft is 200 tonnes, but it is still reliant on Russian engines for almost all planes, including the latest versions for mass production. This accomplishment has helped China to join the PLA Air Force in Chengdu, is ideal for transporting cargo and personnel over long distances.
News 10 - Court of Arbitration favored the Philippines on South China Sea Maritime dispute
International tribunal favored Philippines in a maritime dispute on South China Sea on the basis of the fact that China cannot legally claim historic rights to the bulk of the Sea. Other major findings included none of the sea features claimed by China were capable of generating economic zone and China had caused severe harm to coral life by creating artificial islands and violating its obligation to protect natural ecosystems.
The decision will not affect only China and the Philippines, but other countries as well who claim over large areas of the sea.
News 11 - The two-day NATO Summit 2016 concluded in Poland
The two-day summit with an objective to boost the Alliance’s relations and defence, and plans to project stability in the bilateral relations, successfully concluded in Warsaw, Poland. The summit was attended by Heads of State and Heads of Government of NATO members including the USA President Barack Obama, Polish president Andrzej Duda and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
The Declaration demands for cooperation including maritime security and countering hybrid threats.
News 12 - US Bill introduced to prevent Indian firms from hiring staff on H1B, L1 Visas
Two US lawmakers, Pascrell and Rohrabacher, have introduced a bill in the House of Representatives a legislation, which if passed by the Congress would prevent Indian companies from hiring IT professionals on H1B and L1 work visas, if they employ more than 50 people and more than 50% of their employees are H-1B and L-1 visa holders. The Bill has not been presented so far in the Senate.
They had introduced a similar version of this Bill in 2010, which could not gain enough support in the Congress, however if passed this time, it would have big impact on Indian IT companies.
News 13 - Zika Health Emergency declared in 11 States by Peru Government
Peru’s Government has announced 90 days Health Emergency in 11 States in the North and Eastern Jungle regions due to an expanding outbreak of the Zika virus. It was announced after 102 people have been confirmed to be infected with the virus, 34 of which are pregnant women.
Close to 6mn US dollars will be provided to combat the Zika virus impact. Over 80% of the emergency budget will be spent on establishing healthcare clinics in affected districts.
News 14 - Theresa May takes oath as the 76th Prime Minister of United Kingdom
Queen Elizabeth-II officially appointed Theresa May as the 76th Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK) replacing David Cameron. She became the second woman prime minister of Britain, after ‘Iron Lady’ Margaret Thatcher.
The 59-year-old Theresa named 6 new cabinet ministers, which include Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, Amber Rudd as Home Secretary, David Davis as Secretary of State for EU and Liam Fox as Secretary of State for International Trade.
News 15 - Direct bus connectivity introduced between Nepal’s famous Tourist Spot Pokhara and New Delhi
As per the Motor Vehicle Agreement signed by PM Modi during his visit to Nepal in 2014, a direct bus road connectivity was launched between New Delhi and Nepal's famous tourist spot, Pokhara. The first direct bus service between Pokhara and New Delhi was flagged off by Nepal Home Minister Shakti Bahadur Basnet and India's ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae from Pokhara.
The bus service is a joint initiative of the Modern Era Tours and Travels Pvt. Ltd of Nepal and Uttar Pradesh Parivahan Nigam, Ghaziabad depot, of India, with bus fare fixed at cap of Rs 2,200.
News 16 - VP Hamid Ansari reaches Ulaan Baatar to attend the 11th Asia Europe Meeting, ASEM Summit
Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari reached Ulaan Baatar, the capital of Mongolia to attend two-day 11th Asia Europe Meeting ASEM – Summit.
The theme for the Summit is "20 Years of ASEM: Partnership for the Future through Connectivity". The ASEM summit is a unique platform to bridge the two continents for constructive partnership and exchange through political dialogue, economic collaboration and socio–cultural exchanges.
News 17 - The 11th ASEM Summit issues Ulaanbaatar Declaration
The 11th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit was organized in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, based on theme ‘Partnership for the Future through Connectivity’. ASEM 2016 signed the Ulaanbaatar Declaration to resolve the fight against terrorism. The declaration has reaffirmed ASEM’s commitment for greater partnership through informal political dialogue and initiatives in economic and socio-cultural fields.
The 2-day summit was arranged with two plenary sessions under the titles of 'Two decades of partnership: Taking stock and looking forward' and 'Promoting ASEM Partnership for Greater Connectivity'. Session One stated the 20-year experience of political relationship, economic support and socio-cultural involvement between Asia and Europe, while the second session was based on improving both 'hard' and 'soft' connectivity between the two continents.
News 18 - Bangladesh Government approves easier Extradition with India
The Bangladesh government has approved an amendment to make extradition between New Delhi and Dhaka easier. Under the amendment, extradition of convicted and under-trial criminals will be possible if a court in any of the two countries issues an arrest warrant.
Earlier evidence of crime along with arrest warrant was needed for extradition. A cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved the amendment. The extradition treaty between India and Bangladesh has been in effect since October 23, 2013.
News 19 - WHO releases a report of 2015 Non-communicable Diseases Global Survey
The World Health Organisation has released a report of 2015 Non-communicable Diseases (NCD) Global Survey, “Assessing national capacity for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases” which highlights the need to intensify national action to meet the global targets governments have agreed to protect people from heart disease, cancers, diabetes, and lung diseases.
In 2012, 38 million people lost their lives due to NCDs, 16 million or 42% of whom died prematurely – before 70 years – from largely avoidable conditions. More than 80% of people who died prematurely from a NCD were in developing countries.
News 20 - Malcolm Turnbull sworn in as the PM of Australia for the second term
Malcolm Turnbull was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Australia for a second term. He was sworn in at the Government House in Canberra by the Governor General Peter Cosgrove, Queen Elizabeth II's representative in Australia. It was a narrow margin victory for Turnbull with budget repair and a public vote on same sex marriage among his top priorities.
Malcolm Turnbull was sworn in as the 29th Prime Minister of Australia on 15th September 2015. Mr. Turnbull has held a number of parliamentary positions including Shadow Treasurer, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.
News 21 - One fourth million children severely malnourished in Borno State, Nigeria: UNICEF
According to UNICEF, an estimated quarter of a million children in Borno State, North-East Nigeria, face severe malnourishment and risk death, as the scale of the humanitarian crisis caused by the Boko Haram emergency continues to unfold.
Out of the 244,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in Borno this year, an estimated 49,000 children – almost 1 in 5 – will die if they are not reached with treatment. In early 2016, UNICEF appealed for $55.5 million to respond to the humanitarian crisis in North-East Nigeria, but has so far only received $23 million, which is close to only 41%.
News 22 - Canada to hold the World's first Zika Vaccine Test on humans
Scientists in Quebec at the Université de Laval Infectious Disease Research Centre (IDRC), and in the US at the University of Pennsyvania and Inovia Pharmaceuticals are all set to conduct the World's first Zika vaccine test on humans. Gary Kobinger, doctor of microbiology and professor of medicine at the university, is overseeing the study.
The development of the Zika vaccine was authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada. The new technology uses inactive bits of DNA. Initial lab trials of the synthetic vaccine GLS-5700 have been tested on lab animals.
News 23 - IMF cuts UK growth forecasts for the next year after the Brexit vote
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised downward its global economic growth forecast for the next year after the British people voted to leave the European Union. The fund said, the world economy will expand by 3.4% in 2017, down 0.1 percentage point from their April report.
The cut stems from a downward revision of the UK growth projection, which is a downgrade of 0.9 points to 1.3 percent. The IMF said, if negotiations between Britain and the EU don't go smoothly, global growth could be capped at 2.8%.
News 24 - Turkey declares a 3-month State of Emergency
President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, declared a three-month state of emergency after a failed military coup. Erdogan said the measure was being taken to counter threats to the Turkish democracy.
Erdogan also warned of further arrests and suspensions to come as Turkish authorities continued to pursue those they believed responsible for the failed coup. More than 50 thousand state employees had been rounded up, sacked or suspended in the days since the coup attempt.
News 25 - India and Bangladesh jointly inaugurate the Petrapole check post
India and Bangladesh have jointly inaugurated the second Integrated Check post of PetrapoleBenapole on the India-Bangladesh western border. The cost of the project is Rs. 200 crores.
The key land border check post covers over 50% of India-Bangladesh bilateral trade and will facilitate more economic integration and connectivity between the two countries and in the region. Trade worth more than Rs. 15000 crores take place through this check post.
News 26 - India and Japan sign Social Security Agreement
India and Japan have signed a Social Security Agreement (SSA) that will come into force on the 1st October 2016. The SSA will benefit Indian and Japanese professionals and skilled workers working in the two countries and will also boost bilateral business linkages.
This SSA will help avoid double social security contributions but an exemption will be provided to Indian worker, only if he is covered under the social security system of India and continues to pay his contribution during period of overseas contract. The Social Security Agreement between India and Japan was signed in Tokyo on November 16, 2012.
News 27 - India becomes the first country to contribute to UN Trust Fund for Sexual Abuse Victims
India became the first country to make a contribution to the Trust Fund in Support of Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse after it contributed $100,000 to the trust fund set up for victims of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers. India is currently ranked as the second largest contributor of military and police personnel.
The UN received 44 allegations of sexual abuse in all peacekeeping and special political missions so far in 2016, with no Indian accused in any such incidence.
News 28 - Around the World in Solar Impulse 2
Solar Impulse 2 has completed the first around-the-world flight by a solar powered Airplane. The journey that began in Abu Dhabi on 9th March 2015, ended after the Solar Impulse aircraft touched down in Abu Dhabi on 26th July, 2016. It was aimed at showcasing the potential of renewable energy.
The plane crossed both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans using no fossil fuel and has spent more than 23 days in the air. Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg piloted the mission all around the globe.
News 29 - WHO declares Brazil free of measles
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Brazil free of measles, after no case of the disease was registered in the last year. The eradication of measles is the conclusion of work spanning seven years. Brazil saw no domestic cases of measles from 1985 to 2000, although it broke out in 2013 in the northeastern states of Pernambuco and Ceara.
The WHO worked alongside the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) to eradicate the disease, with a joint investment of 1.2 Million Reais ($335000). The WHO will issue a certification for the eradication of measles to Brazil in the coming months.
News 30 - EU appoints Michel Barnier as their Chief Brexit Negotiator
The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, appointed Michel Barnier, who is the former Vice President of the European Commission and former French Minister, as their Chief Brexit Negotiator in charge of leading the Commission Taskforce for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 of the TEU.
Michel Barnier, a former French Government Minister and Ex-European Commission Vice President and will take up his duties as of 1st October 2016. He will report directly to the President and will be ranked at the Director General level.
News 31 - ‘OPEN SKY POLICY’ Agreement with SAARC Countries
As per the National Civil Aviation Policy 2016, Government has planned to enter into an 'Open Sky' Air Service Agreement on a reciprocal basis with SAARC countries and countries with territory located entirely beyond a 5000 kms radius from New Delhi.
Unlimited flights above the existing bilateral rights will be allowed directly to and from major airports within the country as notified by the Government time to time. However, the points of call at other airports under the existing Air Service Agreement will continue to be honoured till the same are renegotiated.
News 32 - The Third India Education Fair begins in Dhaka
The Third India Education Fair has begun in Dhaka on 29th July, 2016. The two-day event brought over 35 premier Indian educational institutions including schools, colleges, and technical institutes under one roof to provide educational opportunities to Bangladeshi youth at their doorstep.
During the fair, Bangladeshi students can avail of free career aptitude tests, while some can avail the scholarships offered to meritorious students by the various participating institutions.
News 33 - NATO allies commit around $1 Billion per year to support Afghan forces
NATO allies have promised the United States that they will stump up around 1 Billion US Dollars a year over the next three years to help fund the Afghan military. NATO, during a twoday summit in the Polish capital Warsaw, has been present in Afghanistan since 2003 and has invested tens of billions of dollars in trying to stabilize the country.
A worsening security situation and a resurgent Taliban have forced the allies to reverse plans to sharply reduce their troops’ levels.
News 34 - United Nations approves MOU to make International Organization for Migration a Related Organization
The Member States of the United Nations (UN) unanimously gave nod to a resolution approving the Agreement to make the International Organization for Migration (IOM) a Related Organization of the UN, paving way to UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants to be held on 19th September 2016.
With this decision to boost interest of migrants and Member States, UN assigns IOM to perform certain duties which includes protection of migrants and displaced people in migration-affected communities, as well as in areas of refugee resettlement and voluntary returns, and incorporates migration in country development plans.
News 35 - China’s LeEco buys Vizio for $2 Billion
With the LeEco’s plans to create a global television powerhouse, it buys North America's leading consumer electronics brands Vizio for $2 billion. Privately held Vizio is famous for its line of smart TVs.
Under the terms and conditions of the deal, Vizio's hardware and software businesses will be owned and operated as a wholly owned subsidiary of LeEco. The deal also offered LeEco access to Vizio's data business, Inscape but with major shareholding of 51 percent by William Wang and the remaining 49 percent by LeEco.
News 36 - Hague’s international tribunal of arbitration rules against Antrix Corporation in Devas case
The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands has ruled out against Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of India’s SPACE ORGANISATION, in the ongoing case with Devas Corporation over sharing of spectrum on satellites. With this decision, India may have to pay a fine of $1 Billion as compensation to Devas.
The Tribunal has found that Devas commercial did not use S-band spectrum and actions taken by the Union government in annulling the contract as unfair thereby harming investments of Devas's foreign shareholders, arising out of breach of contract signed in 2005.
News 37 - Electronic Music Festival Tomorrowland begins in Belgium
The 10th edition of one of the biggest electronic music festivals, Tomorrowland, began in Boom, Belgium. More than 350,000 tickets for the festival were sold out in an hour of their opening in February 2016.
Tomorrowland has been winning the International Dance Music Awards in the category Best Music Event since 2012 and in 2015 it won the inaugural award from the DJ Magazine for The World's No.1 Festival. It also won the Red Bull Elektropedia Awards in the Best Festival category in the year 2011, 2012 and 2013.
News 38 - India provides SUVs and financial assistance of $4.5 Million to Mozambique
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Mozambique, India handed over 30 Mahindra SUVs to it and recently, completed delivery of financial assistance of 4.5 Million US Dollars.
During his visit to Mozambique, the Prime Minister visited the CIDT campus and interacted with students who have studied in India under the ITEC and other programs. The Prime Minister provided four buses to the Centre for Innovation and Technological Development (CIDT) as donation from India. Later, Modi addressed the Indian diaspora and stated Africa as a place which helped shape the identity of Indian diaspora throughout the world.