Current Affairs March 2017 - International


News 1 - EU member states approved visa-free travel for Georgia


The European Union member states approved visa-free travel for Georgian citizens in the European Union for a period of 90 days in any 180-day period. However, the UK and Ireland are not included in this arrangement.

Georgia had been urging the EU to grant visafree travel to show its citizens that close ties with Europe can deliver concrete benefits. Ukraine has also been urging the EU to grant visa-free travel for its citizens to EU countries.

News 2 - Pakistani diplomat Amjad Hussain B Sial assumed office as the new Secretary General of SAARC

Amjad Hussain B Sial

Mr. Amjad Hussain B Sial of Pakistan has become the new Secretary-General of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). He assumed the charge in Kathmandu and replaced outgoing Secretary General Arjun Bahadur Thapa of Nepal, who completed his term on 28th February.

Mr. Sial has 33 years of experience in Pakistan's Foreign Service. He has also served at the SAARC Secretariat as a Director in Kathmandu. The SAARC SecretaryGeneral tenure is of three years.

News 3 - Sudan's Bashir named Hassan Saleh as the new Prime Minister


Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has named his first Vice President and longtime ally Hassan Saleh to the newly-created post of the Prime Minister. The President had abolished the post after coming to power in a 1989 coup.

Mr. Saleh will hold onto his current post of Sudan's first Vice President. Saleh, a retired Army General, is a former Defence, Interior and Presidential Affairs Minister. He is also currently the National Congress Party’s Deputy Leader for Executive Affairs.

News 4 - Malaysia to cancel Visa Free entry for North Koreans

Cancel Visa Free

Malaysia has cancelled the Visa Free entry for North Koreans entering the country following the murder of Kim Jong-nam at the Kuala Lumpur Airport as the bilateral ties worsened between the two countries.

The Malaysian Government implemented the change on the grounds of National Security. North Koreans will be required to obtain a visa as of March 6th, before entering Malaysia. Malaysia is one of the few countries that North Koreans could visit without a visa.

News 5 - The 13th ECO Summit was hosted in Islamabad

ECO Summit

The 13th Meeting of the ECO Heads of State/Government was hosted by Pakistan. The last ECO Summit was held in October 2012 in Baku.

The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) is an Intergovernmental Regional Organization established in 1985 by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey for promoting Economic, Technical and Cultural Cooperation among the Member States.

The Current Membership Countries Include:

  • Afghanistan
  • Azerbaijan
  • Iran
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyz Republic
  • Pakistan
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan and
  • Uzbekistan.

The headquarters of the ECO is in Tehran, Iran.

News 6 - Parts of Eastern Ukraine to use Russian Ruble as Currency


The parts of Eastern Ukraine, currently occupied by the Luhansk People's Republic will use the Russian Ruble as its official currency. Ruble was already being used informally in the pro-Russian territory along with the Ukrainian hryvnia. Luhansk's central bank will announce the value of the Ruble against the US Dollar, Euro, and Hryvnia.

The LPR is a break-away region in the south of the state of Luhansk, claimed by rebel groups allied to Moscow in May 2015.

News 7 - South Korea and USA began their Annual Military Exercise

Annual Military Exercise

South Korea and the United States began their joint Military Exercise, called Foal Eagle, which is conducted annually. The exercises will run through April and involves Ground, Air and Naval forces.

The exercise in 2016 had involved about 17,000 American troops and more than 300,000 South Koreans. The two countries also are planning a computer-simulated command post exercise, called Key Resolve, starting March 13.

News 8 - Cognizant Acquired Japanese Digital Firm Brilliant Service


Cognizant has acquired Brilliant Service Co. Ltd., an intelligent products and solutions company headquartered in Osaka, Japan, specializing in Digital Strategy, Product Design and Engineering, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Enterprise Mobility.

Brilliant Service was founded in 2004 and provides end-to-end Android/iOS applications, embedded software, user experience design and online-to-offline services to major corporations in Japan. As part of the acquisition, a team of 70 professionals with extensive digital solutions experience and insights in the Japanese market will join Cognizant.

News 9 - Chinese growth target cut to 6.5%

Chinese Growth

The Chinese growth target for this year has been cut to around 6.5%, down from 6.5 to 7% last year. The Chinese economy expanded at its slowest pace in 26 years in 2016.

China’s growth rate has fallen sharply in recent years due to falling demand for its goods globally and overcapacity in its manufacturing and steel sectors.

The government has set a target of over 11 million for urban job creation.

News 10 - Leaders' Summit in Commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of IORA concluded in Jakarta

Leaders' Summit

Indonesia, as the current Chair of IORA, hosted the first ever IORA Leaders' Summit on 7th March 2017 in Jakarta under the theme "Strengthening Maritime Cooperation for a Peaceful, Stable, and Prosperous Indian Ocean". The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Celebrated its 20th Anniversary.

The Summit is a game-changer for regional cooperation and a demonstration of Member States and Dialogue Partners commitment to the Indian Ocean region.

News 11 - Egypt hosted 'India by Nile' fest

India by Nile

Egypt hosted fifth edition of the Mega Cultural Festival 'India by the Nile', which was organized by India. Egypt showcased India’s culture, arts and cuisine, Indian and Egyptian handicrafts, from March 8 to April 27 in Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, Port Said and Ismailia Governorates.

'India by the Nile' was considered as special because India celebrated 70 years of diplomatic relations with Egypt and it was for the first time that Indian flag was projected onto the Giza Pyramids as part of the celebration.

News 12 - Iran successfully tests ballistic missile

Ballistic Missile

Iran has successfully tested a ballistic missile. The sea-launched ballistic missile named Hormuz 2 successfully destroyed a target from 250 kilometres.

The Hormuz 2 can hit floating targets with high accuracy within a range of 300 kilometres. The missile is like the anti-ship Khalij-e-Fars (Persian Gulf) Ballistic Missile in appearance. Iran also recently acquired the advanced S-300 Air Defence System from Russia. It is also planning to test the domestically manufactured Bavar 373.

News 13 - Pakistan National Assembly passed the Hindu Marriage Bill

Hindu Marriage Bill

The Pakistan National Assembly has passed the Hindu Marriage Bill 2016, after amendments made by the Senate, to regulate marriages of Hindus in Pakistan. The law will be applicable in the provinces of Baluchistan, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The Hindu Marriage Bill 2016 protects the customs and customary rites of the Hindu community. It also provides a mechanism for registration of marriage, separation and remarriage. The bill will help Hindu women get documentary proof of their marriage. The bill will need the signature of President Mamnoon Hussain to become a law.

News 14 - South Korean President Park Geun-hye removed by court


South Korea's Constitutional Court upheld a parliamentary vote to impeach the President Park Geun-hye over a corruption and cronyism scandal. Park becomes South Korea's first democratically elected leader to be forced from office. Park was the country's first female leader to become the President.

A snap presidential election would be held within 60 days. Liberal Moon Jae-in, who lost to Park in the 2012 election is likely to win the election.

News 15 - Donald Tusk re-elected as the President of the European Council

Donald Tusk

Donald Tusk has been re-elected as the President of the European Council. His term was to end on May 31st, but was widely expected to be renewed for two and a half years. 27 of the EU’s 28 governments supported Tusk.

Previously he was the Prime Minister of Poland (2007–2014) and a co-founder and chairman of the Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska) party. Tusk succeeded Herman van Rompuy as the President of the European Council on 1st December 2014.

News 16 - Commonwealth Trade meet began in London

Commonwealth Trade

The first Commonwealth summit focused on stimulating trade within the group started in London. The Commonwealth leadership is targeting an increase in intra-Commonwealth trade to $1 trillion by 2020, from $750 billion. The two-day event involved a series of roundtable discussions between ministers from over 30 countries and chief executives.

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 52 independent and sovereign countries, mostly former territories of the British Empire.

News 17 - Jiratchaya Sirimongkolnawin of Thailand crowned Miss International Queen 2016

Jiratchaya Sirimongkolnawin

Jiratchaya Sirimongkolnawin of Thailand has been crowned Miss International Queen 2016. The competition is the world's largest and most popular transgender pageant. The contest was held at the Tiffany's nightclub in the Thai seaside town of Pattaya.

Brazil's Nathalie Oliveira and Venezuala's Andrea Collazo finished at second and third place respectively. Miss International Queen began in 2004. Contestants must have been born a male and between the age of 18 and 35.

News 18 - Pakistan to conduct its first census in 19 years

First Census

Pakistan is set to conduct its first national census in 19 years. Over 2,00,000 troops and civilian officials will collect crucial data. The first phase started from March 15 and would conclude on April 15. After a ten-day gap the second phase will start from April 25 and conclude on May 25. An amount of Rs. 18.5 billion had been allocated for the census.

The last population census was conducted in Pakistan was in 1998, which recorded a National Population of approximately 180 million at that time.

News 19 - India's contribution to UN increased to Rs. 244 crores

India's Contribution

India's contribution to the United Nations rose 55% to Rs. 244 crores in 2015-16 as compared to the previous financial year. The government had also made voluntary contributions to the tune of Rs. 22 crore to international organisations, including UN agencies, in the last financial year.

India had contributed of Rs. 157 crores in 2014-15. For the period 2016-18, India's Scale of Assessment for the UN's Regular and Peacekeeping budgets has been fixed at 0.737% and 0.1474%, respectively.

News 20 - China, Saudi Arabia consider deals worth about $65 billion

China and Saudi Arabia

China and Saudi Arabia signed Memorandums of Understanding and letters of intent potentially worth about 65 billion dollars during Saudi King Salman's visit to Beijing. The agreements involved investment, energy, space and other areas.

The Saudi King, who has overseen the launch of an ambitious economic reform plan since his accession two years ago, is on a monthlong Asian tour. Saudi Arabia has sought to boost oil sales to China, the world's secondlargest oil market, after losing market share to Russia last year, by working mostly with China's top three state oil firms.

News 21 - US raised benchmark interest rate by 0.25%

US raised benchmark

The US Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark interest rate by 0.25 percent for only the third time in a decade. The central bank voted to raise its key rate target to a range of 0.75 percent to 1 percent.

The Fed had been expected to raise rates after a robust February jobs report, solid pay gains, rising inflation and a dip in the unemployment rate to 4.7 percent. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve is Janet Yellen.

News 22 - Pakistan successfully test-fired surface-to-sea missile

surface-to-sea missile

Pakistan has successfully conducted test of its surface-to-sea missile. The new land based anti-ship missile will increase Pakistan's operational reach to launch long range, antiship missiles from land. This missile is equipped with advanced technology and avionics. The name of the missile was not disclosed.

Pakistan had test fired a 2,200 kilometre range indigenously-developed surface to surface nuclear-capable missile Ababeel in January 2017. It had also successfully test-fired a submarine-launched cruise missile Babur-III in January.

News 23 - Singapore, Vietnam inked MOUs in banking and infrastructure

Singapore, Vietnam

Singapore and Vietnam inked MoUs to improve their business ties. The MoUs include a string of new collaborations in banking, power generation and infrastructure on the third day of an official visit by Singapore Prime Minister Lee HsienLoong.

At a joint news conference with Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen XuanPhuc, Mr. Lee said economic ties are strong and the two countries are taking their strategic partnership forward. Both sides have agreed to further discuss liberalising bilateral air services to boost connectivity.

News 24 - World Bank announces 57 billion US$ for sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa

World Bank Group’s fund International Development Association (IDA), meant for poorest countries funding, announced for $45 billion bulk financing for Sub-Saharan African countries for the period of next three fiscal years. Bulk financing include $8 billion in private sector investments and $4 billion in financing for Reconstruction and Development.

This World Bank Group’s funding will be dedicated through special “windows” to finance regional initiatives such as support refugees and their host communities, health, education, and infrastructure projects and help countries during crises.

News 25 - Carrie Lam to become Hong Kong's first female Chief Executive

Carrie Lam

Mrs. Carrie Lam won the election to become the first woman Chief Executive of Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a special administration region of China, which rules it under the “one country, two systems” principle where it enjoys a degree of autonomy and rights not seen in China.

Mrs. Lam will govern the city for five years from July 1, taking over from Mr. Leung Chun Ying.

News 26 - Sima Kamil becomes the first woman to head a major Pakistani bank

Sima Kamil

Sima Kamil has been appointed as the new President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of United Bank Limited (UBL) in Pakistan. She thus became the first woman in Pakistan to head a leading bank. UBL is the country’s third-largest lender.

Sima will replace the outgoing CEO Wajahat Hussain. She is currently deputy CEO and will take charge on the 1st of June, 2017. UBL has branches in over 15 countries. The bank controls assets of more than Rs. 1 trillion.

News 27 - David Beasley appointed to head the World Food Program

David Beasley

The United Nations has appointed David Beasley of the United States as the Executive Director of the UN World Food Program (WFP), which delivers emergency food assistance around the world and works with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience.

Mr. Beasley, who is the Chair of the Centre for Global Strategies, was Governor of the state of South Carolina from 1995 to 1999. He will replace Ertharin Cousin, also a US national, whose five-year term expires on 4th April.

News 28 - UAE Cabinet approved visa on arrival for Indian passport holders with US Visa, Green Card

UAE Cabinet

The UAE Cabinet approved a decision to grant Indian passport holders ‘visa on arrival’ provided they have a valid US visa or a green card holder.

Citizens of India holding normal passports with a six month or more validity having a valid green card or visa issued by the United States of America shall be granted entry visas to the UAE from all ports for a period of 14 days, subject for a single renewal for the same period upon payment of applicable fees.

News 29 - Amazon makes entry in UAE by acquiring


Amazon has made its entry in UAE by acquiring, the Middle East’s largest online retailer. The agreement brings Amazon into a fast-growing market as it expands into a wide range of services. The value of the deal remained undisclosed, but as per the analysts it is estimated anywhere between 650 million USD to one billion USD., based in Dubai is the largest ecommerce platform in the Arab world offering more than 400,000 products such as consumer electronics, fashion products, and household goods. The Chief Executive and Co-founder of is Ronaldo Mouchawar.

News 30 - World Environmental Education Congress 2017

World Environmental Education Congress

The 9th World Environmental Education Congress will take place in September 9-15, 2017 in Vancouver, BC, Canada. The World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC) is an international congress addressing education for environment and sustainability. WEEC 2017 is the 9th congress and will feature the theme of Culture/Environment: Weaving New Connections.

The congress is an international meeting point for everyone working with education for environment and sustainable future or who has an interest in the field.