International Current Affairs 2019 - Current Affairs Today

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  • New community in Golan heights to be named after President Trump

    8 hours ago
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that he would name a new community in the Golan Heights after US President Donald Trump. President Trump has officially recognised the disputed area as Israeli territory. Israel has also stated that in appreciation of the U.S. president, it intends to name a proposed train station near Jerusalem’s Western Wall after him. Israel captured the Golan from Syria in a 1967 war and annexed it, in a move not recognized internationally. The Golan Heights: Israel seized most of the Golan Heights from Syria in the closing stages of the 1967 Middle East war, and thwarted a Syrian attempt to retake the region during the 1973 war. Golan Heights is located about 60km (40 miles) south-west of the Syrian capital, Damascus, and covers about 1,200 sq km (400 sq miles). Israel and Syria remained technically in a state of war. Syria has always insisted that it will not agree a peace deal with Israel unless it withdraws from the whole of the Golan. The last US-brokered direct peace talks broke down in 2000, while Turkey mediated in indirect talks in 2008. There are more than 30 Israeli settlements in the Golan, which are home to an estimated 20,000 people. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this. The settlers live alongside some 20,000 Syrians, most of them Druze Arabs, who did not flee when the Golan was captured.


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    Arab League pledged USD 100 million per month to Palestinian Authority

    11 hours ago
    The Arab League has pledged $100 million per month to the Palestinian Authority (PA) to make up for funds withheld by Israel because of payments made to the families of Palestinian attackers and prisoners. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the Arab League in Cairo, as part of a diplomatic effort to rebuff the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan. Israel collects taxes on behalf of the PA but withheld $138m in transfers in February over Palestinian payments to political prisoners jailed for attacks against Israelis. In 1967, Israel illegally occupied the eastern half of Jerusalem, as well as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip - and in 1980, passed a law declaring Jerusalem as the eternal and undivided capital of Israel. The Palestinians seek those territories for a future state. About Arab League: It is a regional organization of Arab states in and around North Africa, the Horn of Africa and Arabia. It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan (renamed Jordan in 1949), Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Currently, the League has 22 members. Headquarters: Cairo, Egypt

    FIEO joins hands with Welingkar Institute of Management to support startups in exports

    14 hours ago
    Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) inked an agreement with Mumbai-based Prin. L N Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research in order to support startups engaged in the export sector. Under the memorandum of understanding (MoU), FIEO launched a post graduate programme in foreign trade management (PGP-FTM) at Mumbai. The main aim of this industry-academia partnership is to attract new entrepreneurs in exports to bridge the gap of availability of qualified skilled manpower in Exim trade. The programme consist of general management principles, export-import procedures, and international marketing concepts and the duration of the programme will be 11 months. The programme will be offered in 2 batches. 



    Michelin-star chef Vikas Khanna named brand ambassador of Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC)

    14 hours ago
    Vikas Khanna, Michelin-star chef named as brand ambassador of Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC), a leading cultural organisation which will organise the annual New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF) that would showcase the chef’s film ‘The Last Color‘ and Nawazuddin Siddiqui-starrer ‘Photograph’. The New York Indian Film Festival is North America’s longest-running and most prestigious Indian film festival that would be organised from May 7 to 12, 2019.  The festival will showcase 30 feature-length films, including 3 documentaries, 30 shorts and 19 regional films.  About Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC) Founded: August 1, 1998 Founder: Aroon Shivdasani, Gopal Raju  Location: New York City, New York, United States

    Asian Tea Alliance launched in China

    1 day ago
    The Asian Tea Alliance (ATA), a union of five tea-growing and consuming countries, was launched in Guizhou in China. The members of the alliance are: 1.   Indian Tea Association, 2.   China Tea Marketing Association, 3.   Indonesian Tea Marketing Association, 4.   Sri Lanka Tea Board and 5.   Japan Tea Association. Plans for Boosting tea trade: ATA Plans to work towards enhancing tea trade, cultural exchanges, technology exchanges as well as globally promoting tea. It will also work towards enhancing global consumption of tea, while creating a sustainability agenda for the future of Asian tea. Background: The forging of this alliance comes close on the heels of the signing of a memorandum of understanding in December 2018 between the Indian Tea Association and China Tea Marketing Association. The two associations signed the pact to promote green and black tea consumption in major tea markets of Europe, the U.S., Russia and West Asia, besides India and China.

    Referendum on constitutional amendments in Egypt held on April 20-22

    1 day ago
    Egyptians casted their ballots on 14 amendments to the 2014 charter, which were overwhelmingly approved by parliament, with 531 out of 596 members voting in favour, 22 voting against and one abstention. Amendments: The amendments include changing the length of presidential terms from four to six years. They also extend the second term of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, which is set to end in 2022, by two years, and allow him to run for office for another term in 2024. The current president can run for a second term of six years, possibly ruling until 2030. El-Sisi was first elected president in 2014 and was re-elected last year in a landslide victory where he secured 97 percent of the vote. The proposed constitutional amendments included 1.   The implementation of a senate, 2.   A second chamber for parliament, 3.   A women’s quota in parliament that designated female presence of no less than 25 percent of the members, 4.   The maintenance of youth and special percentages, 5.   Appropriate representation of workers, farmers, youth and Copts, extending the presidential term in office from four to six years, and 6.   The appointment of one or more deputies to the president. About Egypt: Capital: Cairo Currency: Egyptian pound President: Abdel Fattah el-Sisi Prime Minister: Mostafa Madbouly

    Iranian President Rouhani declared joint border reaction force with Pakistan

    2 days ago
    Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani announced that Iran and Pakistan to create a joint ‘reaction force’ on the border between the two countries, for combatting terrorism. The announcement came during a two-day visit to Iran by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, the first of his tenure. Iran and Pakistan share a 959 km land border. Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, is Pakistan's largest and poorest province, rife with ethnic, sectarian and separatist insurgencies. Tehran (in Iran) has been complaining for years about recurring attacks by Pakistani militants on Iranian security forces. Pakistan is a close ally of the United States and Saudi Arabia, both of which have ratcheted up pressure on Iran over its alleged meddling in regional affairs. Pakistan and Iran are also members of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). About Pakistan: Capital: Islamabad Currency: Pakistani rupee President: Arif Alvi Prime minister: Imran Khan About Iran: Capital: Tehran Currency: Iranian rial President: Hassan Rouhani Supreme leader: Ali Khamenei

    Saudi Arabia increased India's Haj Quota to 2 lakh

    2 days ago
    Saudi Arabia has issued a formal order increasing the Haj quota for India to two lakhs from one lakh seventy five-thousand. In February this year, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that Indian Haj quota would be increased by 25 thousand to two lakhs. This is the third hike in three consecutive years. In 2017, the quota was increased by 35,000 while last year, it was raised by 5,000 to take the number to 1,75,000. A record number of two lakh Indian Muslims will perform Haj this year without subsidy. As many as 2,340 Indian Muslim women will go for the pilgrimage without male companion or Mehram. The GST on Haj pilgrimage has been reduced from 18 per cent to 5 per cent this year, which will ensure that about Rs 113 crore will be saved by pilgrims during the 2019 Haj.

    Lankan President Sirisena appoints special committee to investigate serial blasts

    2 days ago
    Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena announced the appointment of a special committee led by retired Supreme Court judge to investigate the attacks and submit its report within two weeks. Thirteen local suspects have been arrested for their involvement in the serial blasts across the country yesterday which has claimed  207 lives.  At least 450 people were injured and hospitalized following the attacks targeting three five-star hotels in capital Colombo and three churches across the country. An Improvised Explosive Device was detected and diffused near the departure area of Bandaranaike International Airport last evening. Security has been tightened at all sensitive places.  The government had intelligence inputs about such attacks and it will look into why adequate precautions were not taken. The names of suspects that have come up are local, but investigators will look into whether they had any overseas links.  Meanwhile, curfew imposed across the country since last afternoon has been lifted.

    Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy wins Ukraine presidential election

    2 days ago
    Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who played president in a TV series, is set to become the new president of Ukraine. He received 73.19% of the votes, while his opponent, incumbent President Petro Poroshenko saw support of 24.48%. Poroshenko, who was running for his second five-year term, has admitted defeat. Zelenskiy planned to continue European-backed talks with Russia on a so far largely unimplemented peace deal and would try to free Ukrainians imprisoned in Russia, which is holding 24 Ukrainian sailors among others. About Ukraine: Capital: Kyiv Currency: Ukrainian hryvnia

    UN agency listed Bhopal gas tragedy among the worlds major industrial accidents in the last century

    3 days ago
    The International Labour Organization (ILO) has listed the Bhopal gas tragedy among the world’s major industrial accidents in the last century. About Bhopal gas tragedy: The gas leak in the Union Carbide pesticide plant in the Madhya Pradesh capital, Bhopal on the night of December 2 and 3, 1984, killed over 3,500 people. Union Carbide, which is now owned by Dow Chemicals, and other firms have so far paid $470 million (Rs 3,261 crore) as compensation to the Indian government. At least 30 tons of toxic methyl isocyanate was released from the plant. International Labour Organization (ILO) Report: ILO’s report titled “Safety and Health at the heart of the Future of Work: Building on 100 years of experience”, listed nine major industrial accidents since 1919. Apart from the Bhopal gas tragedy, its list included the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion in the erstwhile Soviet Union, the 2011 Fukushima disaster and the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 2013, which killed 1,132 people. According to recent estimates released by the ILO, each year 2.78 million workers die from occupational accidents and work-related diseases (of which 2.4 million are disease-related). About Chernobyl disaster: In the Chernobyl disaster in April 1986, one of four nuclear reactors at the Chernobyl power station in Ukraine exploded, releasing at least 100 times more radiation than the atom bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The explosion killed 31 people immediately and thousands of people in the aftermath. About International Labour Organization (ILO): Formation: 29 October 1919 Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland Head: Guy Ryder Purpose: Promoting jobs, Protecting people

    US won WTO ruling against China grain import quotas

    21 April 2019
    The US has won a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling against China's use of tariff-rate quotas (TRQ) for rice, wheat and corn. The case, lodged by the Obama administration in late 2016, marks the second U.S. victory in as many months in the country’s ongoing trade spat with China. TRQs are two-level tariffs, with limited imports allowed at the lower 'in-quota' tariff and subsequent imports charged an 'out-of-quota' tariff, which is generally much higher. The US argued that the quotas limited market access for its grain exports. Australia, Brazil, India, and the European Union were among those reserving their rights in the dispute brought by the world’s largest grain exporter.

    Singapore Changi airport got world's tallest 131-ft indoor waterfall

    21 April 2019
    The world's tallest indoor waterfall, 131-foot-tall, opened for the general public at Singapore's Jewel Changi Airport. The waterfall is housed inside a dome-shaped complex which has gardens growing over four storeys, more than 280 retail and food outlets, a hotel and a movie theatre. The structure also has a botanical garden with 120 species of plants.

    Malaysia to revive 2nd major China-linked project

    21 April 2019
    Malaysia resumed a China-backed rail link project after the Chinese contractor agreed to cut the construction cost by one third to 10.6 billion US dollars.  The Malaysian government will also take up a multibillion-dollar property and transportation project in Kuala Lumpur involving a Chinese state company, calling it a contribution to China's global "Belt and Road" infrastructure initiative. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is travelling to China next week to attend the second Belt and Road forum that both projects will boost ties with China and add economic value. About Malaysia Capital    Kuala Lumpur Official language and national language: Malaysian Motto: "Bersekutu Bertambah Mutu "Unity Is Strength" Anthem: Negaraku My Country

    Dubai based RAKEZ appointed Cricket Champion Ravi Shastri as a Corporate Ambassador

    20 April 2019
    Former Cricketer Ravi Shastri appointed as Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ) exclusive Corporate Ambassador to the Indian Business Community. Brand Ambassador may attract more Indian business leaders to set up or expand their operations in UAE through RAKEZ. This first-of-its-kind approach is one of the many other initiatives that RAKEZ will be launching in the future to attract more investors from all over the world and boost the economic growth of Ras Al Khaimah.

    WHO released 10 new guidelines on how countries can use digital health technology

    20 April 2019
    The World Health Organization (WHO) released new recommendations on 10 ways that countries can use digital health technology, accessible via mobile phones, tablets and computers, to improve people’s health and essential services. The recommendations are a result of a two-year-long research by the WHO on digital technologies. What is  digital health technology? Digital health is a simple concept - using technology to help improve individuals' health and wellness. It can cover everything from wearable gadgets to ingestible sensors, from mobile health apps to artificial intelligence, from robotic carers to electronic records. Telemedicine: The guideline also makes recommendations about telemedicine, which allows people living in remote locations to obtain health services by using mobile phones, web portals, or other digital tools. The guideline emphasizes the importance of reaching vulnerable populations, and ensuring that digital health does not endanger them in any way. WHO’s work on digital health: In 2018, governments unanimously adopted a World Health Assembly resolution calling on WHO to develop a global strategy on digital health to support national efforts to achieve universal health coverage. That strategy is scheduled to be considered at the World Health Assembly in 2020. WHO developed the eHealth Strategy Toolkit in 2012 which was published in collaboration with International Telecommunications Union (ITU). To support governments in monitoring and coordination of digital investments in their country, WHO has developed the Digital Health Atlas, an online global repository where implementers can register their digital health activities. WHO has also established innovative partnerships with the ITU, such as the BeHe@lthy, BeMobile initiative for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases, as well as efforts for building digital health capacity through the WHO Regional Office for Africa. WHO has released a number of resources to strengthen digital health research and implementation, including the mHealth Assessment and Planning for Scale (MAPS) toolkit, a handbook for Monitoring and Evaluation of Digital Health, and mechanisms to harness digital health to end TB. About World Health Organization (WHO): WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. Founded: 7 April 1948 Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland Head: Tedros Adhanom

    Peru's ex-president Garcia kills himself to avoid arrest

    19 April 2019
    Peru's former president Alan Garcia shot himself in the head to avoid arrest in connection with alleged bribes from Brazilian builder Odebrecht, taking his own life, in the most dramatic turn yet in Latin America's largest graft scandal. Alan Garcia served two terms as Peru’s president, from 1985 to 1990 and from 2006 to 2011. Garcia was one of nine people whom a judge had ordered arrested in connection with the bribery investigation into Odebrecht. About Peru: Capital: Lima Currency: Sol President: Martín Vizcarra Prime Minister: Salvador del Solar

    UN honoured Indian peacekeepers in South Sudan

    19 April 2019
    United Nations honoured 150 Indian peacekeepers serving with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) with medals of honour for their dedicated service and sacrifice. UNMISS is working to deter violence against civilians by providing a safe and secure environment for South Sudanese people who have fled violence and sought sanctuary at Protection of Civilian sites across the country. It aims to provide a safe and supported environment so that these people can return to their former homes and communities to live safely and with dignity. UNMISS peacekeepers are also working to facilitate the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance, such as food, clean water, shelter and healthcare, to the millions of displaced people. It also protects, monitors, investigates, and reports on human rights violations and abuses with a strong focus on the most vulnerable, such as women and children and those who are subjected to sexual and gender-based violence. UNMISS is committed to helping build durable peace in South Sudan. It is working as a partner at a national and sub-national level with political, religious, traditional and community leaders as well as at grassroots with communities and individuals across the country to advance reconciliation efforts, to strengthen conflict resolution mechanisms and build national cohesion as well as to engage in regional and international peace initiatives.

    U.S. Mulls Iran Sanctions, Oil import may be reduced

    17 April 2019
    India is working closely with the U.S. to ensure that two upcoming deadlines in early May, for the extension of the Iran oil sanctions waive and the final decision on withdrawing India’s preferential Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) status, end positively for the government. While the decision on the GSP could be deferred until after elections, the discussions on the Iran oil sanctions waiver have indicated an extension is likely, with India allowed a lower quantity of oil imports from Iran.  The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had said both sides had been continuously engaged on the issue of India’s oil imports from Iran since November. India, Turkey, and China remain the only countries with significant imports. After initial defiance, the Modi government has softened its stand in negotiations for the sanctions waiver from America. The U.S. is considering an extension of the six-month waiver, but reducing the quantity of oil India can import from the previous allowance of nine million barrels a month. The waiver lapses on May 4. What is Generalized System of Preferences (GSP)? The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is a U.S. trade program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 4,800 products from 129 designated beneficiary countries and territories. GSP was instituted on January 1, 1976, by the Trade Act of 1974 The GSP program has effective dates which are specified in relevant legislation, thereby requiring periodical reauthorization in order to remain in effect GSP expired on July 31, 2013, and was most recently reauthorized on June 29, 2015 (effective July 29, 2015) for a period of two and a half years.  The relevant legislation permits retroactive extension of GSP benefits. Recently the USA has excluded India from the list of beneficiaries of this program

    Iran passes bills that labels U.S. forces as terrorist

    17 April 2019
    Iran’s lawmakers approved a bill labeling U.S. forces in West Asia (Middle East) as terrorist. This move comes a day after the U.S. terrorism designation for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard formally took effect. Iran's Defense Minister Gen. Amir Hatami introduced the bill authorizing the government to act firmly in response to terrorist actions by U.S. forces. It demands authorities use legal, political and diplomatic measures to neutralize the American move, without elaborating. The U.S. move aims at thwarting Iran’s influence and shows that America’s longstanding sanctions against Iran have become ineffective. About Iran: ♦ Capital: Tehran ♦ Supreme Leader: Ali Khamenei ♦ President: Hassan Rouhani ♦ Currency: Rial (IRR) ♦ Official languages: Persian

    UN owes India USD 38 million for peacekeeping operations

    17 April 2019
    United Nations (UN) owes India USD 38 million, the highest it has to pay to any country, for the peacekeeping operations as of March 2019. In a report on improving the financial situation of the world body, as of March 31, 2019, the total amount payable to troop- and police-contributing countries with respect to active peacekeeping missions was USD 265 million. Of this, the UN owes USD 38 million to India, followed by Rwanda (USD 31 million), Pakistan (USD 28 million), Bangladesh (USD 25 million) and Nepal (USD 23 million). The arrears to troop- and police-contributing (TCCs/PCCs) countries could increase to USD 588 million by June 2019 “in the worst-case scenario”. World body’s cash balance in negative: UN had a positive cash balance of USD 412 million at the end of 2010 but finished 2018 with a negative cash balance of USD 323 million - a decrease of USD 735 million in an eight-year period. Regular budget assessments are issued at beginning of each year and member states are required to pay their contributions in full within 30 days. In 2017 and 2018, 73 member states had paid their contributions in full by the end of the first quarter, compared with 62 in 2016 and 67 in 2015. So far, 74 member states have paid in full in 2019 US is responsible for 22 per cent of the USD 5.4 billion regular budget for 2018 and 2019 and more than 28 per cent of the USD 6.7 billion peacekeeping budget for the year to June 30. About United Nations: It is an intergovernmental organization that was tasked to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations. Founded: 24 October 1945 Headquarters: New York, United States Secretary general: António Guterres Membership: 193 member states + 2 observer states  

    WHO raises alarm over 300% increase in case of measles globally

    16 April 2019
    World Health Organization (WHO) raised alarm over a 300 per cent increase in the case of measles globally in the first quarter of 2019 compared with last year.  The UN body agreed the provisional data indicated a clear trend, with all regions of the world seeing outbreaks.  The WHO had an early trend for 2019 likely underestimated the severity of the outbreaks since only about one in 10 actual measles cases was reported.  Around 170 countries have reported 112,163 measles cases to WHO. Africa has witnessed the most dramatic rise - up 700% which has weaker vaccination coverage than other regions. At this time in 2018, 163 countries had reported 28,124 cases.  About World Health Organisation Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland Founded: 7 April 1948 Head: Tedros Adhanom Customer service: 011 6656 4800 Founders: India, United States, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, MORE Subsidiary: Pan American Health Organization

    Bhutan Government to place bill for ratification of BBIN initiative at its upper senate

    15 April 2019
    Bhutan government will place the bill for ratification of Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) initiative for road and rail connectivity at its upper senate. Briefing media on the occasion of Bhutan’s Prime Minister Dr. Lotay Tshering's visit to Bangladesh, Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh Shahidul Haq told reporters that BBIN is a big initiative in the region for improving rail and road connectivity in the region and he expressed the hope that the bill will be passed by the Bhutanese Parliament soon. The Motor Vehicle Agreement of BBIN countries was signed in 2015 by the four member countries.

    India to be the Guest of Honour country at 2019 ADIBF

    14 April 2019
    The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced that India will be the Guest of Honour country at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, ADIBF 2019, to be held at the end of April 2019. The Book Fair aims to highlight the UAE’s rich heritage, showcasing its authenticity and modernity, as well as its cultural and literary output. India’s participation in the fair will attract a significant increase in the number of visitors with various events and activities which will be held throughout the entire duration of ADIBF. About United Arab Emirates (UAE): ♦ President: Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan ♦ Prime Minister: Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum ♦ Capital: Abu Dhabi ♦ Currency: Dirham

    Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange arrested in London

    14 April 2019
    The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested in London to face a charge in the United States of conspiring to hack into a Pentagon computer network in 2010 bringing to an abrupt end a seven-year saga in which he had holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in Britain to avoid capture.  The Ecuadorean government suspended the citizenship it had granted Mr Assange and evicted him clearing the way for his arrest. Mr Assange indicated that he would fight extradition, and legal experts stated process could take years. Mr Assange’s arrest brought to head long-simmering tensions that have raised profound First Amendment press freedom issues.  The internal government debate over whether to charge Mr Assange continued under the Trump administration and was accelerated by Jeff Sessions, the attorney general at the time, according to former officials involved in the discussions.

    Nepal sends team to remeasure height of Mount Everest

    13 April 2019
    Nepal sent a team of experts to remeasure the height of Mount Everest. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli bid adieu tofour-memberr team of the Survey Department in Kathmandu yesterday.  Chief Survey Officer Khim Lal Gautam and Survey Officer Rabin Karki will ascend Mount Everest. After reaching the summit they will use a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) that will send readings about its height to their two colleagues who will remain at base camp.  The Survey Department will be conducted four sets of surveys: Precise levelling, Trigonometric levelling, Gravity survey and GNSS survey. Nepal government aims to measure the exact height of Mount Everest amid debates that there might have been a change in its height due to various reasons including the devastating earthquake of 2015.  It is for the first time, Nepal sent its own team to conduct a survey of the world's highest mountain.

    SpaceX launched its first commercial mission

    13 April 2019
    SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, the most powerful operational rocket in the world, launched its first commercial mission from Florida in a key demonstration for billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s space company in the race to grasp lucrative military launch contracts. The 23-story-tall Heavy, which previously launched Musk’s cherry red Tesla roadster to space in a 2018 debut test flight, blasted off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center carrying its first customer payload. SpaceX: ♦ It is a private American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company ♦ Industry: Aerospace ♦ Founded on: May 6, 2002 ♦ Headquarters: Hawthorne, California, U.S. ♦ CEO and CTO: Elon Musk ♦ President and COO: Gwynne Shotwell

    India built maternity hospital in Nepal's Siraha district

    13 April 2019
    The Chandra Narayan Yadav Memorial Maternity Hospital built on an Indian grant of Nepalese Rupees 26.90 million, was inaugurated by Ambassador of India to Nepal, Manjeev Singh Puri. The hospital has been built under the Government of India's Small Development Projects Scheme. The hospital is being run by the Chandra Narayan Yadav Memorial Trust under the principle of no profit/no loss basis. The 25-bedded maternity hospital will provide maternity and health care services to the people of 50 village development committees (VDC) in and around the district of Siraha. The hospital is equipped with ultrasound facilities, a blood bank, an emergency room, ICU, CCU, major OT, a minor OT, and other basic facilities. About Nepal: ♦ Capital: Kathmandu ♦ Currency: Nepalese rupee ♦ Prime minister: Khadga Prasad Oli ♦ President: Bidhya Devi Bhandari

    Cyclone Idai's death toll now above 1,000 in southern Africa

    12 April 2019
    Zimbabwe - The death toll from the cyclone that ripped into southern Africa last month is now above 1,000. In that country risen to 344. Mozambique reported 602 deaths and Malawi at least 59. United Nations described Cyclone Idai as one of the deadliest storms on record in the southern hemisphere.

    Pakistan country issues 2,200 visas for Sikh pilgrims

    12 April 2019
    India-Pakistan Protocol visit to religious shrines of 1974.  In this perspective, Pakistan granted 2,200 visas to Sikh pilgrims from India to participate in Baisakhi celebrations from April 12 to 21. The Sikh pilgrims would be visiting shrines like Panja Sahib, Nankana Sahib, and Kartarpur Sahib.  The protocol between India and Pakistan enables a large number of pilgrims to visit the other country to observe various religious festivals or occasions every year.  About Pakistan Capital: Islamabad Largest city: Karachi President: Arif Alvi Prime Minister: Imran Khan Chairman of the Senate: Sadiq Sanjrani

    PM May repeated an expression of deep regret over Jallianwala Bagh

    11 April 2019
    British Prime Minister Theresa May reiterated the UK government's long-standing expression of deep regret over the April 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre and called the massacre a 'shameful scar' on British Indian history. But the words of PM May fell short in issuing a formal apology. Since 2019 was the centenary of the horrendous act there was a growing demand from many quarters for the formal apology including Indian diaspora and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The UK government has announced that on the centenary of the massacre British high commission in New Delhi would visit the memorial site on April 13 and lay a wreath. There would be a public acknowledgment of the centenary and the sense of 'deep regret' in events organized in the UK. Earlier the Punjab Assembly had passed a resolution seeking a formal apology from Britain for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. The statement by the Prime Minister Theresa May did not go beyond the long-standing expression of 'deep regret' over the April 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre.  Jallianwala Bagh massacre: ♦ Location: Amritsar, Punjab, British India ♦ Date: 13 April 1919 ♦ Target: Crowd of nonviolent protesters, along with Baisakhi pilgrims, who had gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar ♦ Attack type: Massacre ♦ Weapons: Lee-Enfield rifles ♦ The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, also known as the Amritsar massacre, took place on 13 April 1919 when troops of the British Indian Army under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer fired rifles into a crowd of Indians, who had gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, Punjab. ♦ The civilians had assembled for a peaceful protest to condemn the arrest and deportation of two national leaders, Satya Pal, and Saifuddin Kitchlew.

    Algeria MPs elect Abdelkader Bensalah as first new president in 20 years

    11 April 2019
    Abdelkader Bensalah was appointed president for a three-month transitional period after weeks of mass protests led to the resignation of long-serving former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on April 2. Algeria's newly appointed interim President Abdelkader Bensalah announced the election would be held on July 4 to vote for a new president. However, the 77-year-old Bensalah is barred under the constitution from running in the upcoming election. About Algeria: ♦ Capital: Algiers ♦ Currency: Algerian dinar ♦ Continent: Africa ♦ Prime Minister: Noureddine Bedoui

    British Governments white paper named online harms draws focus to users (mostly childrens) safety

    11 April 2019
    British government’s ‘white paper’ which is open for public consultation termed as ‘online harms’, focuses to make online social media platforms responsible to safeguard users, especially children. Since all of the social media platforms use strong algorithms leading to echo-chambers, where a user is bombarded with only blinkered content (according to the user’s web-browsing) instead of multi-directional content (i.e. seeing a variety of voices and opinions), all of which can affect children’s brain; the white paper proposes the compulsory ‘duty of care’ on various social media platforms for taking reasonable steps to protect users (focusing on children) from getting harmed.

    Sri Lanka new railway line inaugurated

    10 April 2019
    Sri Lanka has opened a new railway line connecting its coastal city of Matara and Beliatta in Hambantota. It was built with China’s assistance. This move will boost passenger traffic into the island nation’s deep south. It is the first to be constructed in Sri Lanka since 1948.  The new line was inaugurated on 8th April 2019 in the presence of Sri Lanka’s Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranatunga, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera and other parliamentarians. About the railway line: The Matara-Beliatta railway extension is of 26.75-km length. The cost of the project was $278 million. The Matara-Beliatta railway extension includes the longest and second longest railway bridges of 1.5 km and 1.04 km, respectively. China's role: The railway extension was financed by the Export-Import Bank of China and the contract was awarded to the China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation. China termed it as a major Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has been the major recipient of Chinese loans and investments in recent years, totalling over $8 billion. The heavy borrowing has raised concerns over Sri Lanka’s ability to repay after Colombo handed over the Hambantota port to Beijing for a 99-year lease in 2017 as a debt swap. China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): BRI is also known as the One Belt One Road (OBOR). It was first proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013. It is an ambitious programme to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks along six corridors. "Belt" refers to the overland routes for road and rail transportation, called "the Silk Road Economic Belt"; Whereas "road" refers to the sea routes or the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. The aim is to strengthen infrastructure, trade, and investment links between China and some 65 other countries that account collectively for over 30 percent of global GDP, 62% of the population, and 75 percent of known energy reserves.  

    Spain Garbine Muguruza claimed Monterrey Open title

    10 April 2019
    Garbine Muguruza of Spain successfully claimed back-to-back Monterrey Open title 2019 as Victoria Azarenka succumbed to injury in the final. Asia Muhammad & Maria Sanchez claimed women's doubles title in Monterrey Open. The Monterrey Open is a professional women's tennis tournament played on outdoor hard courts.  About Monterrey Open title Founded: 2009 Location: Monterrey, Nuevo León Mexico Category: International

    Israel to go to polls to elect new parliament

    9 April 2019
    Israel will go to polls to elect a new parliament. Fourteen main parties are competing for 120 seats in the Knesset or parliament. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is running for his fifth term in office.  His main challenger is Benny Gantz, a former chief of staff for Israeli military who is a newcomer to politics.   The main Voters will cast their ballots for a party, not a candidate.

    Sri Lanka sought enhanced military training from India

    9 April 2019
    Sri Lanka has sought enhanced military training from India. President Maithripala Sirisena during his visit discussed the wide-ranging matters including bilateral defence cooperation between the neighbouring countries and regional security.  He also requested to increase the number of personnel trained by India. Currently, over 60% of Sri Lanka’s military personnel pursue their young officers’ course, junior and senior command courses in India.  Also at the conclusion of the ‘Exercise Mitra Shakti’, the sixth edition of the joint military training exercise between the Indian Army and the Sri Lankan Army the two countries jointly planned and executed a series of “well-coordinated tactical operations based on scenarios that are likely to be encountered in the rural and urban environment. The two-week programme is part of an initiative that began in 2013 as part of military diplomacy between India and Sri Lanka.

    Algerias Parliament to meet to name an interim successor

    8 April 2019
    Algeria’s Parliament is set to meet on 9th April to name an interim successor to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika after mass protests pushed the ailing leader from power. Algeria’s Constitution stipulates that the Speaker of the upper house of Parliament, currently Abdelkader Bensalah, 77, should take the presidential reins. He is to serve for up to 90 days, during which a presidential election must be organized.  

    USD 1.7 trillion needed per year to build disaster-resilient infrastructure in Asia: ADB report

    8 April 2019
    As per a recent ADB report titled 'Asian Development Outlook 2019: Strengthening Disaster Resilience’, Developing economies across Asia are among the most vulnerable to natural disasters and have suffered damages estimated at 644 billion dollars since 2000. Of these, weather-related hazards caused the greatest share at 507 billion dollars (or 79 per cent) while geophysical hazards accounted for the remaining 137 billion dollars (or 21 per cent). To build disaster-resilient infrastructure, investment needs in developing Asia are estimated at 26 trillion dollars from 2016 to 2030, or 1.7 trillion dollars per year, including necessary investments in climate-change mitigation and adaptation.

    Pakistan opened a route for flights out of India

    7 April 2019
    Pakistan has opened one route for west-bound flights from India more than a month after it shut its airspace for all civilian flights following the Indian Air Force’s strikes at Balakot. A decision on opening a passage for flights overflying Pakistan and entering India is yet to be taken. The route that has been opened passes from near Mumbai and enters southern Pakistan. This is only one of the 11 exit and entry points between India and Pakistan. Since the ban by Pakistan on the use of its airspace, several flights within Asia, between Asia and West Asia or Europe or the U.S. were forced to take a longer route, entailing an increase in flight duration and sometimes a halt for refuelling. This led to an increase in operational costs, forcing many airlines to cancel flights or hike fares.

    US House voted to end American involvement in Yemens Civil War

    7 April 2019
    The resolution to end the American Involvement in the Yemen’s civil war was approved by 247 to 175 votes. The resolution directs the US President Donald Trump to remove US Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting the Republic of Yemen within 30 days. The resolution rejects the US Presidents support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen. The Yemeni Civil War is an ongoing conflict that began in 2015 between two factions: the internationally recognized Yemeni government, led by Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, and the Houthi armed movement, along with their supporters and allies. Both claim to constitute the official government of Yemen. The war is in its fifth year. Thousands of people have been killed and millions are on the brink of starvation. The United Nations has called the situation in Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

    Taliban siege in remote Afghan province kills 12 more troops

    7 April 2019
    Taliban besieged a government and army compound in a remote western province of Afghanistan for the second consecutive day killing at least 12 more troops.  The latest fatalities brought the overall death toll for the assault in Badghis province to at least 32 Afghan soldiers and policemen.  Provincial council member Mohammad Nasir Nazari said many more have been wounded and the area is cut off. 

    May asked EU for a further Brexit extension till 30th June

    6 April 2019
    The U.K. and European Council president Donald Tusk appeared to be nearing a consensus on a further Brexit extension. Prime Minister Theresa May has asked for an extension till at least June 30, 2019.  It comes as Mr. Tusk himself was reported to be proposing a “flextension”, an extension that could last till April next year, but could also last a much shorter period were the U.K. to break the EU deadlock before that.  The U.K. still fail to ratify the agreement and be prepared to leave the EU by May 23. As it would be under a legal obligation to hold the European parliamentary elections between May 23 and 26. the government is to undertake lawful and responsible preparations for this contingency. Mr.Tusk was considering proposing a 12-month flexible extension that could be cut short if ratification happened before that.

    Amal Clooney is appointed as the U.K.s special envoy on media freedom

    6 April 2019
    Amal Clooney has been appointed as the U.K.’s special envoy on media freedom. The appointment comes as the U.K. prepares to host an international conference this July in the wake of attacks on journalists across the world.  Ms.Clooney will chair a panel of legal experts who will work to support countries to repeal outdated and draconian laws and strengthen legal mechanisms to protect journalists. Among the steps that could be taken by the panel include making proposals to countries around national laws that don’t comply with international standards, particularly around issues such as blasphemy and stringent anti-defamation rules.  The panel will also prepare mechanisms that could be used internationally to raise the cost of non-compliance with international standards, such as advising on sanctions regime that could be put in place relating to regimes that abused journalists.

    Saudi Arabia pledged USD 1 billion for Iraq at start of economic visit

    5 April 2019
    Saudi Arabia has reopened a consulate in Baghdad for the first time in nearly 30 years and announced a one billion dollars aid package for Iraq. Saudi Arabia would also provide Iraq with $500m to boost exports and a gift of a 100,000-seat sports stadium to be built on Baghdad's outskirts. Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iraq when the latter invaded Kuwait in 1990. Diplomatic relations resumed in 2015 when Riyadh sent an ambassador to Baghdad, and improved with the then-Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir's visit in 2017, the first by a Saudi foreign minister since 1990.

    India to set up IAIARD in Malawi

    5 April 2019
    The Ministry of External Affairs has signed an MOU with National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development Consultancy Service (NABCONS) for setting up India-Africa Institute of Agriculture and Rural Development (IAIARD) in Malawi.  IAIARD would be a Pan-African Institute wherein trainees from Malawi and other African countries, will receive training to develop their human resources and build their capacity. IAIARD will impart training in the areas of micro-financing and agro-financing, among others. IAIARD is the first of its kind initiative undertaken in an African country by India. IAIARD will further strengthen the bilateral relations with Malawi and India's relations with the African Union.  NABARD Consultancy Services (NABCONS) is a fully owned subsidiary promoted by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). Nabcons is engaged in providing consultancy in all spheres of agriculture, rural development, and allied areas. 

    Russian delegation meets I&B Secretary in New Delhi

    5 April 2019
    A Russian delegation led by the Russian Deputy Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media,  Alexey Volin met Information and Broadcasting Secretary Amit Khare in New Delhi.   During the meeting, it was mutually agreed that an annual Indo-Russian Forum for Media Cooperation is organized alternately in India and Russia to institutionalize the process of cooperation between the two countries in the media and entertainment sector.  Television, news agencies, digital distribution platforms, new media, news gathering, co-production of programmes, sharing of content and exchange of professionals were identified as possible areas of collaboration. The need to forge strong connections between the young journalists of the two countries was also highlighted in the meeting. On the occasion,  Amit Khare stated that the Golden Jubilee edition of the International Film Festival of India scheduled to be held later this year offers an opportunity to countries to showcase their creativity and cinematic excellence on a global platform. He extended an invitation to the Russian Delegation to participate in it.

    South Korea Launches Worlds First National 5G Networks

    5 April 2019
    South Korea launches the world’s first fully-fledged 5G mobile networks.  The system will bring smartphones near-instantaneous connectivity 20 times faster than the existing 4G allowing users to download entire movies in less than a second. About South Korea Capital- Seoul,  Currency- South Korean won President: Moon Jae-in Prime Minister:Lee Nak-yeon  

    Cholera vaccinations launched in post-cyclone Mozambique

    4 April 2019
    In Mozambique, a vaccination campaign launched after Cyclone Idai battered the nation and unleashed an outbreak of cholera.  International relief agencies and the Health Ministry are aiming to immunise nearly 9,00,000 people against the water-borne intestinal disease, which has already killed two people and infected more than 1,400. The vaccinations will be administered at health centres, shelters for the displaced, and at schools and markets. Cyclone Idai smashed into the coast of central Mozambique last month, unleashing hurricane-force winds and rains that flooded the hinterland and drenched eastern Zimbabwe.

    Chicago elected Lori a black woman as its Mayor

    4 April 2019
    Chicago elected Ms.Lori Lightfoot, 56, a black woman as its Mayor. The voters have put their faith in an openly-gay political novice to tackle difficult problems of economic inequality and gun violence.  Since 1837, Chicago voters have elected only one black Mayor and one woman Mayor. Ms. Lightfoot will become Chicago’s first openly gay Mayor as well as the first African-American woman to hold the post.  Lori Lightfoot a former federal prosecutor and practising lawyer beat out Toni Preckwinkle, a career politician who is also black, by a wide margin of 74% to 26% with most ballots counted. She has promised to clean up city government and reduce economic inequality.

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