2 days ago
Polish President Andrzej Duda won the 2020 Presidential Election of Poland on 12 July 2020. He has secured another five-year in office. Andrzej Duda’s current term will expire on 6 August 2020. Duda aligned with the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and won 51.2% of the votes and Rafal Trzaskowski from the main opposition center-right Civic Platform party secured 48.7%.
2020 Presidential Election of Poland:
The First Round of the 2020 Presidential Election of Poland was conducted on 28 June 2020. A total of 11 candidates contested for the post of President. In the first round, Andrzej Duda gained the highest 43.50% of the total valid vote share followed by Rafal Trzaskowski with 30.46% in the second place. On 12 July 2020, the Second-Round election was conducted in Poland.
16 days ago
The World Bank has approved a $500 million loan to improve the quality and governance of school education in six Indian states. The approval is given by the Board of Executive Directors. The board approved a loan for Strengthening the Teaching-Learning and Results for States Program (STARS).
♦ It is expected that around 250 million students, between the age of 6 and 17, in 1.5 million schools, and over 10 million teachers will benefit from the program.
♦ The STARS program has built a long partnership between India and the World Bank, since 1994.
♦ STARS aims to support India’s response to the challenges by strengthening implementation at the local level, investing in teacher capacity.
♦ It also aims to ensure that no child of any background is left behind from the right to education.
♦ STARS will enhance the learning assessment systems and strengthen classroom instruction and remediation in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Rajasthan.
♦ It will also facilitate school-to-work transition, and strengthen governance and decentralized management.
18 days ago
Russia's Energia space corporation has announced that it is to take the first tourist on a spacewalk in 2023, under the terms of a new contract with a US partner. Energia has signed a contract with Space Adventures. Under this, two space tourists to the International Space Station (ISS).
♦ Energia announced after NASA signed a deal with Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic space tourism company. The deal is to promote private missions to the station after a special training program in the US.
♦ The programme is introduced after the first successful mission by Elon Musk's SpaceX in the month of May 2020 to bring astronauts to the station on a reusable Crew Dragon spacecraft. This has ended nearly a decade of Russia holding a monopoly on shuttling humans to orbit.
♦ SpaceX in March announced its own space tourism trip for three people in the year 2020, on board of the Crew Dragon.
♦ SpaceX together with the Russian agency previously took 8 tourists to the ISS between 2001 and 2009.
18 days ago
The World Health Organization (WHO)-led coalition ACT-Accelerator announced that it needs $31.3 billion over the next 12 months to fight the CVOVID-19 and to develop and roll out tests, treatments and vaccines.
♦ As per the report, $3.4 billion had been collected of which $13.7 billion was urgently needed. It leaves the organization with a funding gap of $27.9 billion.
♦ ACT initiative aims to scale up delivery of 500 million tests and 245 million courses of treatments to low- and middle-income countries by mid-2021.
♦ It also aims to deliver 2 billion vaccine doses, including one billion to be bought by low- and middle-income countries, by the end of 2021.
♦ WHO is currently working with a large coalition of drug-development, funding, and distribution organizations under the ACT-Accelerator Hub.
♦ ACT-Accelerator initiative updated that the WHO and global health groups stated that the COVID-19 pandemic still threatens millions of lives and scores of economies.
♦ WHO stated that the investment required is significant, but it pales in significance when compared to the cost of COVID-19.
♦ The total cost of the ACT-Accelerator's work is less than a tenth of the IMF estimate of the global economy is losing every month due to the covid-19 pandemic.
The coalition is known as Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT)-Accelerator initiative. The ACT-Accelerator was launched in April 2020. Under WHO's global initiative, many public and private organizations are involved in drug-development to funding and distribution to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
19 days ago
The US Space Agency, NASA has announced that its headquarters in Washington, D.C., will be named after Mary W. Jackson, one of its history-making engineers. The information was passed by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
Mary W. Jackson:
In 1942, Mary W. Jackson graduated with bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and physical science from Hampton University, which is a historically Black university. She was a mathematician & aerospace engineer. She started the NASA career in the segregated West Area Computing Unit of the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. In the year 1951, she was recruited by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which was succeeded in 1958 by NASA, where she worked until her retirement in 1985.
She worked along with Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan, two other history-making Black mathematicians, during the space race. The women’s stories were described in Margot Lee Shetterly’s 2016 nonfiction book “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race.” The movie was adapted into a motion picture titled “Hidden Figures”. It was nominated for three Academy Awards.
20 days ago
The Republic of Mali has awarded the Project Management Consultancy contract to NTPC Limited, a central PSU that functions under the Ministry of Power, in an event held on 24 June 2020. The contract aims to develop 500 MW Solar Park. The event was chaired by the Union Minister of State for Power R.K.Singh, NRE, Skill Development and President of International Solar Alliance (ISA), and Mr.H.E. Sekou Kasse, the Ambassador of Mali.
♦ The event was hosted by ISA in the Ministry of Renewable Energy, New Delhi.
♦ The Republic of Mali has taken various initiatives towards the energy security of the country especially to increase access to electricity for its citizens.
♦ The move comes with a focus on solar power and applications.
♦ The development of Solar Projects in Mali is expected to make a considerable impact on the socio-economic growth of Mali.
ISA is created with the vision and leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and announced jointly with President of France during COP-21 held in Paris in 2015. ISA’s vision is for a large-scale solar revolution, hinges on creating a facilitative international ecosystem that enables access to science and economic resources, reduce the cost of technology and capital, facilitates price reduction, and enables the development of storage technology and innovation. With its scale and authoritative understanding of the energy transition opportunities of diverse economies, ISA is the world's foremost energy transition catalyst for bringing a change from energy poverty to energy empowerment.
Republic of Mali:
President: Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta
Prime Minister: Boubou Cisse
Official language: French
21 days ago
Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic won the controversial parliamentary election. The Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) won over 60% of the vote, which is around 190 seats in the 250-seat Serbian parliament.
The general election was originally scheduled for 26 April 2020 but was postponed after a state of the emergency was declared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The largest block of parties including the Serbian Radical Party (SRP), the Democratic Party, the Party of Freedom and Justice, The Doors (Dveri), the People’s Party, and the Let's not drown Belgrade movement boycotted the election.
About Siberian Parliament:
Siberia Parliament is also known as the National Assembly of Siberia. It has a unicameral legislature. The PM of Siberia is elected and appointed by the 250 elected members of the National Assembly. The President of Siberia is also empowered to propose the name of an individual to the National Assembly for the post of the Prime Minister.
21 days ago
China announced that it has decided to join the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (UN-ATT) to regulate its arms sales. The decision was made during a three-day meeting which was held from 18-20 June of the top lawmaking committee in China- Legislative Affairs Committee.
♦ China has always strictly controlled the export of military products.
♦ China's move to join the treaty is an important step towards the country's effort to enhance & maintain peace and stability across the globe and support multilateralism.
♦ Under this, China will export military products to sovereign countries and will not export military products to non-state actors.
The move by China comes after the US announced to pull out of the ATT in 2019. US cited the reason was the treaty amounts to international gun control which is a threat to the USA's second amendment right to bear arms. In May 2020, the US announced its exit from the Open Skies Treaty (OST).
What is the Arms Trade Treaty?
Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) promotes, regulates, and monitors the international sales and transfer of conventional arms as per the global standards. ATT regulates from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships. UNGA adopted the treaty on 2 April 2013. ATT entered into force on 24 December 2014. As per the treaty, the UN member countries must keep records of international transfers of weapons. It also imposes the member states to prohibit cross-border shipments that could be used in human rights violations or attacks on civilians.
22 days ago
China launched the satellite of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System 3 (BDS-3) from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province on 23 June 2020.
♦ BDS-3 Satellite was carried by a Long March-3B carrier rocket.
♦ It is the 30th BDS-3 satellite and also the 55th of the whole BeiDou satellite family.
♦ BDS-3 will offer its users services including high-precision positioning and short message communication. It will bring new highlights to global navigation satellite systems.
♦ The final BDS satellite weighs over 10,000 pounds. It is the largest of its kind in the family.
♦ The satellite is filled with propellants for maneuvers in orbit.
♦ BDS-3 family will allow the constellation to provide more cost-effective navigation services.
♦ BDS-3 is constructed with 24 satellites in medium-Earth orbits (MEO), three in inclined geosynchronous satellite orbits, and three in geostationary orbits. The satellite is scheduled to provide services worldwide.
♦ The launch of the satellite marked the completion of China's domestically developed BeiDou constellation, one of four global navigation networks alongside the United States' GPS, Russia's GLObal NAvigation Satellite System (GLONASS) and the European Union's (EU's) Galileo.
28 days ago
India has pledged to construct a Rs.2.33 crore sanitation facility at the Pashupatinath Temple complex in Kathmandu, Nepal. It will improve the infrastructure in the holy shrine for the pilgrims.
♦ Pashupatinath Temple project will be constructed under the Nepal-Bharat Maitri: Development Partnership as a high impact community development scheme by India.
♦ Under the initiative, India has pledged to extend financial assistance amounting to NRs Rs.2.33 crore for the sanitation facility that would be implemented by the Kathmandu Metropolitan City.
♦ The project will be implemented as per the norms laid out by the Nepal Government in 15 months.
♦ India’s assistance for the infrastructure development at the Pashupatinath Temple complex comes amid a raging border row between the two countries.
Note: In Nepal, Pashupatinath Temple is the largest temple complex. It has stretched on both sides of the Bagmati River. Thousands of worshippers from Nepal and India visit the temple every day.
35 days ago
Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a discussion with His Excellency Benjamin Netanyahu, PM of Israel over the telephone. The leaders affirmed the partnership b between India and Israel.
♦ PM Modi and His Excellency Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the potential areas where the countries could expand their cooperation in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, including research and development (R&D) efforts in the fields of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.
♦ The leaders agreed to maintain the ongoing exchanges between expert teams of both countries.
♦ The leaders discussed the bilateral agenda. They agreed that the post-COVID-19 pandemic, the countries would create opportunities for mutually beneficial partnerships in many areas.
♦ The leaders also assessed scope to expand India-Israel collaboration in areas like health technology, agricultural innovation, defence-cooperation, and information technology.
♦ They agreed to share assessments and consult each other on the emerging opportunities and challenges in the changing global scenario.
President: Reuven Rivlin
Prime Minister: Benjamin Netanyahu
Official languages: Hebrew
Currency: New shekel (ILS)
35 days ago
The Sri Lankan parliamentary election has been finally decided for 5 August 2020. The new date to conduct election comes after elections were postponed twice because of the COVID-19 crisis.
♦ Sri Lanka’s parliament was dissolved on 2 March and parliamentary polls were initially to be held on 25 April. But it was postponed due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
♦ The election commission then shifted the date to 20 June but it was canceled considering the coronavirus pandemic.
♦ The commission held a mock poll in the 1st week of June at a polling station to test the COVID-19 health guidelines and its preparedness.
♦ The guideline also stipulates conditions for campaigning including to avoid public gathering for more than 500 while using propaganda materials and media as the main medium for the campaign.
Srilankan parliament was dissolved on 2 March, 6 months before the end of its term as the current government under PM Mahinda Rajapaksa sought a majority in the house to implement its policies. The petition bu the other parties to revive parliament due to the COVID-19 crisis was rejected by the Supreme Court. As per official data, Sri Lanka did not report any community case of COVID-19 for over a month.
49 days ago
The European Union (EU) Commission has proposed a 750 billion-euro ($825 billion) recovery fund "European breakthrough" to help the bloc's economy through the deep recession induced by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was announced by the commissioner Paolo Gentiloni. The aim is to tackle an unprecedented crisis.
♦ The move comes as the EU plans to enter its deepest-ever recession as the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic ravages economies.
♦ The plan comes following big pressure from Italy and Spain.
♦ If EU member states accept the deal as drafted, Italy would receive €81.8 billion, over the next three years, and Spain would receive €77.3 billion.
♦ Germany would receive €28.8 billion and France would receive €38.7 billion.
♦ The fund will be linked to the EU's long term budget for 2021 to 2027.
51 days ago
China's first unmanned helicopter drone, AR500C unmanned helicopter, made its maiden flight at an AVIC base in Poyang in East China's Jiangxi Province. The drone was developed by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
AR500C unmanned helicopter:
♦ The helicopter has been designed in plateau areas and capable of firing and conducting reconnaissance from a high altitude.
♦ It could be deployed along the country's borders with India.
♦ China's first unmanned helicopter can take off at an elevation of 5,000 metres and has a ceiling of 6,700 metres.
♦ The drone has an endurance of 5 hours, a maximum speed of 170 km an hour, and a maximum take-off weight of 500 kg.
♦ The helicopter has the ability to relay communication from a high altitude.
♦ The helicopter will help safeguard China's southwestern borders with India in Tibet.
59 days ago
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally swore in his new government on 17 May for the fifth time. The ceremony of the swearing-in of Israel's new government, the Knesset, was held in accordance with coronavirus social distancing directives. Netanyahu will be in power until 13 November 2021. This ended the 18-month political crisis in the country. Benny Gantz will serve in the specially created role of alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister.
President: Reuven Rivlin
Prime Minister: Benjamin Netanyahu
Official languages: Hebrew
Currency: New shekel
67 days ago
The International Energy Agency (IEA) released the Global Energy Review in 2020. The report stated that 15% of the daily electricity demand has been reduced. It highlighted the carbon dioxide emissions and the global energy demand in the year 2020.
♦ The report was based on the survey collected from 30 countries including India and China.
♦ The report stated that decline in the electricity demand is due to lockdown imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic in countries such as India, Italy, France, UK.
♦ The pandemic has reduced fossil-fuel based power generation. In India, the production of electricity has declined by 32.2% as compared to the 2019 level.
♦ It also stated that the oil demand was reduced by 5% and Carbon Dioxide Emissions have declined by 8% as compared to 2019.
67 days ago
The United Nations and its partner agencies launched a $6.7 billion global appeal to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. It will focus on more vulnerable countries and combating food insecurity and gender-based violence.
The UN Emergency Relief:
♦ The UN Emergency Relief plan originally included 54 countries and programmes to respond to the growth in food insecurity.
♦ Under the plan, 9 more vulnerable countries have been added. The nine newly added countries are Pakistan, Benin, Mozambique, Djibouti, Liberia, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Zimbabwe.
♦ The plans are for quick and determined action to stave off the most debilitating effects of the pandemic in 63 low and middle-income countries.
♦ New transport hubs for delivering supplies by air have also been established under the plan. Nearly 2 million people worldwide, including health workers, have been trained in virus identification through an online portal run by the WHO.
♦ World Food Programme (WFP) the UN agencies and partners responding to the immense needs, reaching nearly 100 million people on any given day.
67 days ago
Iraq's new Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi assumed office on 6 May after the country's parliament approved a new government. The approval came after around 6 months of political wrangling. Mustafa replaced Adel Abdul Mahdi.
Along with Mustafa al-Kadhimi, two other candidates, Mohammed Allawi and Adnan al-Zurfi were nominated by the Iraqi Parliament. But Mohammed Allawi and Adnan al-Zurfi withdrew after failing to win enough support in parliament. Kadhimi Won with the backing of the biggest political blocs The Iraq Parliament also approved 15 ministers out of a prospective 22-seat cabinet in a vote of confidence.
Mustafa al-Kadhimi is a Shia Muslim and is seen as a political independent and a pragmatist. The 53-year-old is a former journalist. He wrote against former President Saddam Hussein from exile in Iran and the UK before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. He served as head of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service (Inis) from 2016 until April 2020 when he was tasked with forming a government.
69 days ago
The Iranian Parliament has announced the decision to replace its currency "Rial" with another basic unit of currency called the "Toman." Each toman will be worth 10,000 rials under the new system. The move aims to ease the psychological impact of soaring consumer prices on a population that has endured high inflation for decades and grappled the number of zeros in government figures.
The move by the Iranian government aims to simplify financial transactions. Once the law is ratified, the Central Bank of Iran will have two years to implement the change. The rial and the new currency is expected to overlap for between two to five years in the market. The new system was authorized to manage high inflation in the country.
In 1930, Iran changed its basic monetary unit from dinar to the rial. The change was a part of the modernization of the economy undertaken by the Pahlavi dynasty, which was overthrown by the revolution in 1979. The Iranian government has been planning to replace currency notes since 2016.
70 days ago
UNICEF released a report titled "Lost At Home" on 5 May. The report highlighted the risks and challenges of internally displaced children and the need to protect them.
♦ The report highlighted that 19 million children were living in displacement within their own countries due to conflict and violence in 2019.
♦ In 2019, an estimated 46 million people were internally displaced by conflict and violence.
♦ It also stated that there were around 12 million new displacements of children in the 2019, out of which 3.8 million of them were caused by conflict and violence, and 8.2 million by disasters related to weather-related events like flooding and storms.
♦ UNICEF also called on governments to take concrete action and investment that will help provide protection and equitable access to services for all internally displaced children and their families.
The three major countries that reported more than half of persons displaced due to conflict and violence children are Syria, Congo, and Yemen.
70 days ago
Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded Kim Jong Un a commemorative war medal to mark the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany. The medal was awarded to recognize the North Korean leader's role in preserving the memory of Soviet soldiers who died on North Korean territory.
Russia-North Korea ties:
In 1948, diplomatic relations were established between the Soviet Union and North Korea. The Soviet military forces supported the Korean People's Army during the Korean War. N. Korea was established as communist bloc gaining maximum support from Russia.
In 2019, Russia invited Kim Jong Un to visit Moscow on 9 May and attend the military parade to mark the 75th anniversary of the victory. Russian President later announced the decision to postpone the parade indefinitely in April because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2015, the North Korean leader rejected an invitation by Moscow to attend the 70th anniversary, citing domestic affairs.
74 days ago
Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister of Thailand H.E. Gen (ret) Prayut Chan-o-cha. The two leaders shared information on the steps being taken in their respective countries to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
♦ Prime Minister Modi discussed the importance of regional and global cooperation to effectively fight the pandemic.
♦ India assured its commitment to support the pharmaceutical requirements of Thailand.
♦ The leaders agreed on the desirability of greater collaboration between researchers, scientists, and innovators of the two countries.
♦ Both the countries agreed to support each other in the time of crisis.
Thailand is a valued maritime partner in India's extended neighbourhood, with ethnic and ancient cultural links. The Prime Minister visited Bangkok in November 2019 to attend ASEAN and Related Summits. During his visit, he conveyed his greetings to the members of the Royal Family of Thailand and the Thai people.
76 days ago
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) released a new list with the names of 169 tropical cyclones in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) including Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean.
♦ The tropical cyclones forming over different Ocean basins are named by the concerned Regional Specialised Meteorological Centres (RSMCs) and Tropical Cyclone Warning Centres (TCWCs).
♦ For the North Indian Ocean including the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, the RSMC, New Delhi assigns the name to tropical cyclones following a standard procedure.
♦ IMD has issued advisories regarding upcoming tropical cyclones to 13 member nations. The countries are Bangladesh, India, Iran, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the UAE, and Yemen.
The requirement for a fresh list of tropical cyclones was tabled during the 45th session of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)/UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), held in September 2018. The session was hosted by Oman. In September 2019, IMD chief M Mohapatra presented the final list of tropical cyclones.
77 days ago
A report by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat stated that the APEC region is expected to post a 2.7% economic decline in 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19. It also stated that this decline will be the most significant fall since the near-zero growth rate logged in 2009.
♦ The report recorded a 3.6% economic growth in the APEC region.
♦ The unemployment rate in the region has been projected to rise to 5.4% in 2020 from 3.8% in 2019, which means an additional 23.5 million workers being unemployed in 2020.
♦ An economic rebound is a forecast for the year 2021, with the anticipated growth of 6.3%, higher than the projected global economic growth of 5.8%.
♦ It states that the rebound depends on the effectiveness of containment mechanisms to avoid a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and measures to stimulate the economy.
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC):
APEC was started in 1989. The regional economic forum was established to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific. The 21 APEC countries comprise of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the US, and Vietnam.
78 days ago
World Health Organization (WHO) has partnered with Global Fund, UNTAID, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), etc. and launched the "Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator or the ACT Accelerator."
ACT Accelerator initiative:
♦ ACT Accelerator initiative provides a global platform for action to enhance connections and leverage interdependencies for collective partnership. It also enhance problem-solving, mobilizing and guiding investments, and driving equitable access for new COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.
♦ The process will help "speed up and harmonize" the development, production, and equitable distribution of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics for COVID-19.
♦ The initiative will ensure all people have access to all the tools to defeat COVID-19.
♦ The ACT Accelerator ensures to bring together the combined power of several organizations to work with speed and scale.
♦ The initiative has been launched based on the experience that during H1N1 Swine Flu in 2009, the distribution of vaccines was not equitable.
79 days ago
India sent 50,000 surgical gloves and one lakh tablets of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to Bangladesh to help its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The information was passed by India's High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das.
♦ Earlier, India took the initiative and organised a conference of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) leaders on the COVID-19 pandemic during which a SAARC emergency fund was launched.
♦ Under this initiative, India Provided one lakh HCQ medicines and 50,000 surgical gloves which can be used by the healthcare professional.
♦ India has also launched an initiative to conduct online courses that could help the medical professionals in the country.
♦ All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Raipur conducted a course that was attended by many people from Bangladesh.
♦ Previously, India gifted head covers and masks for medical professionals of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh has reported 5,416 cases of coronavirus. Also, the Bangladesh government has announced a $11.6 billion stimulus package to support its economy. The primary focus of the move is to support the manufacturing and service sectors, agriculture and social safety nets.
79 days ago
The Pakistan Navy successfully test-fired a series of anti-ship missiles in the North Arabian Sea on 25 April. The missile test was witnessed by the Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi.
♦ The anti-ship missiles were fired from surface ships, fixed and rotary-wing aircraft at the sea level by warships and aircraft.
♦ The missile firing was a testament to the Pakistan Navy's operational capability and military readiness.
♦ The test by the Pakistan Navy stated that the country is now fully capable to respond to the enemy's aggression befittingly.
India-Pakistan ties were strained after the Indian government abrogated Article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019. Pakistan downgraded diplomatic relations with India and expelled Indian High Commissioner after the event. India has maintained that J&K is an internal matter of India and does not want anyone's interference in it.
81 days ago
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has cancelled over $1 trillion debt owed by developing countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It aims to help them overcome the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
♦ UNCTAD report stated that over 64 low-income countries currently spend more on debt service than their health systems. For developing countries debt has become inevitable, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
♦ UNCTAD estimated financing and liquidity requirements due to the pandemic sums up to at least $2.5 trillion.
♦ The high-income developing nations have debt service obligations of between $2 to $2.3 trillion in 2020 and 2021. Also, the UNCTAD stated that the middle and low-income countries have debt service obligations of $700 billion to $1.1 trillion.
♦ Earlier, the G20 countries allocated $8 trillion into a stimulus for their own economies. The G20 nations agreed to suspend the bilateral debt service payments by the world's poorest countries until the end of 2020.
81 days ago
The US space agency NASA engineers have developed "VITAL", a new high-pressure ventilator tailored specifically to treat COVID-19 patients. The ventilator can be easily built.
♦ VITAL (Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally) ventilator has passed a critical test at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York.
♦ VITAL has been designed to treat COVID-19 patients with milder symptoms. It will keep the country's limited supply of traditional ventilators available for patients with more severe COVID-19 symptoms.
♦ After FDA approval, the ventilator can be used to treat COVID-19 patients.
♦ VITAL can be built faster and easily. It can be maintained more easily than a traditional ventilator.
♦ The ventilator is composed of far fewer parts, many of which are currently available to potential manufacturers through existing supply chains.
82 days ago
Iran launched its first military satellite called "Noor" into orbit. This launch has raised tensions with the US at a time the two countries are already facing off in the Persian Gulf.
♦ The satellite took off on top of a relatively unknown rocket called “Ghased” or "Messenger," from Iran's Central Desert and reached an altitude of 425 kilometers (265 miles), above the Earth.
♦ The Noor satellite was launched by a three-stage rocket that was powered by a combination of solid and liquid fuels.
♦ The US has accused Iran of violating the 2015 UN security council resolution.
♦ As per the resolution, Iran can not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.
82 days ago
China named its first Mars exploration mission as Tianwen-1 as it celebrated Space Day on 24 April. The observation marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of the country's first satellite Dong Fang Hong-I in 1970. China's first Mars mission has been scheduled to launch in 2020.
China's Mars Mission:
♦ China National Space Administration's (CNSA) Mars mission as "Tianwen." It means Heavenly Questions or Questions to Heaven, a poem written by China's well-known poet Qu Yuan (340-278 BC).
♦ CNSA stated that China's future planetary exploration missions will be named the Tianwen series. It signifies the Chinese nation's perseverance in pursuing truth and science and exploring nature and the universe.
♦ China's Mars mission includes complete orbiting, landing, and roving in one mission.
♦ With this mission, the country aims to catch up with India, the US, Russia, and the European Union who is already executing their Mars Mission.
China in Space Mission:
China in recent years has emerged as a major space power with manned space missions and landing a rover in the dark side of the moon. It is currently building a space station of its own. However, China's attempts to send an exploratory probe to Mars called Yinghuo-l, in a Russian spacecraft in 2011 failed as shortly after the launch and it was declared lost and later burnt during re-entry.
The US, Russia, the EU besides India so far succeeded in sending missions to Mars regarded as the most complex space mission. India became the first Asian country to have successfully launched its Mars orbiter mission, Mangalyaan which has entered the orbit of the red planet in 2014. India also became the first country to have entered the Martian orbit in its first attempt.
82 days ago
Lebanon has legalized cannabis farming in the country with a hope that sales from the plant will provide some relief to its debt-ridden economy. With this, it became the first Arab country to legalize marijuana farming.
The legislation stated that marijuana cultivation will be considered for medicinal and industrial purposes. Any recreational use of marijuana will remain illegal.
Why legalize marijuana cultivation?
The move comes after the New York-based global consulting company McKinsey had estimated the cultivation of cannabis in Lebanon could generate up to $1 billion per year in government revenue. The revenue is needed badly for Lebanon's ailing economy which is experiencing its worst downturn since the 1975-1990 civil war.
A government team will now study which soil in which regions are most suitable for cannabis farming. The "Cannabis Cultivation Body', created by the Lebanese government, will oversee planting, harvesting, and manufacturing of cannabis.
Cannabis in Lebanon:
According to the United Nations, Lebanon is the third-largest source of cannabis resin worldwide, after Morocco and Afghanistan. Although growing the cannabis crop was illegal, farmers of the Bekaa Valley have been cultivating the plant for centuries.
President: Michel Aoun
Prime Minister: Hassan Diab
Official language: Arabic
Currency: Lebanese pound (LBP)
83 days ago
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) launched a "Lockdown Learners' series of online dialogues with students and educators" in India. The series includes COVID-19 and its impact on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), peace, and rule of law. The dialogues have been launched by the United Nations body under its flagship program "Education for Justice".
The aim of the initiative is to teach the students on concerns of vulnerable groups and emerging issues like cybercrime, misinformation, gender-based violence, discrimination, corruption among others.
♦ The Lockdown Learners series will provide a platform for students to receive mentorship and knowledge support through activity-based learning, and use their talent and skills.
♦ The day also promotes awareness and shares their ideas and solutions to address some of these problems.
♦ Under the initiative, Educational resources have been shared with partner schools in New Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru.
♦ It also focuses on conducting interactions convened with hundreds of students and educators, Samarth Pathak, UNODC's Communications Officer for South Asia.
♦ The initiative invited schools to join UNODC's efforts to create a positive framework for students to be productive and engaged during the period of lockdown, reduce stress through positive messaging, and empower young people.
♦ The products of the initiative include free-to-use educational material, comics, board, and online games, The Zorbs cartoon series, and other modules and videos. It can be used by teachers and students at home to develop an understanding of peace and the rule of law.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC):
Established on: 1997
Headquarters: Vienna, Austria
UNODC functions under the United Nations Development Group. It addresses a coordinated, crime prevention and criminal justice, comprehensive response to the interrelated issues of illicit trafficking in and abuse of drugs, international terrorism, and political corruption.
84 days ago
Global Network Against Food Crises report officially released by the UN World Food program.
The report indicates around 135 million people across 55 countries and territories experienced acute food insecurity. Around 55 food-crisis countries covered by the report and 75 million children were stunted. 183 million people were classified in Stressed (IPC/CH Phase 2) conditions.
Among 43 million live in the Middle East and Asia and 18.5 million live in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Acute food insecurity when a person’s inability to consume adequate food puts their lives or livelihoods in immediate danger. Each year by the UN’s annual State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report are released.
This report is the result of a consensus-based and multi-partner analytical process involving 16 international humanitarian and development partners (in alphabetical order) and various organisations participated all the way to United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Comité Permanent Inter-Etats de Lutte contre la Sécheresse dans le Sahel (CILSS), the European Union (EU), Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Global Food Security Cluster, Global Nutrition Cluster, Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Global Support Unit, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana (SICA), Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
84 days ago
US Senate has unanimously approved 484 billion dollars in fresh relief for the economy and hospitals hammered by the coronavirus pandemic. The bill was hurried along shortly after congressional leaders and the White House brokered an agreement.
The measure which passed by unanimous consent after more than a week of negotiations between Democrats, Republicans and the White House, now heads to the House of Representatives where a vote could occur as early as tomorrow.
88 days ago
US President Donald Trump unveiled a three-phase plan to reopen the country's economy following the COVID-19 outbreak. The new program allows governors to ease the lockdown in their states gradually. America wants to be open and that a national shutdown is not a sustainable long-term solution.
His administration is issuing new federal guidelines that will allow governors to take a phased approach to reopen their states.
The guidelines recommend that states see a downward trajectory for 14 days in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases before they move to lift stay-at-home orders and other restrictions. The second phase includes asking for all vulnerable individuals to shelter in place, encourage telework, closure of common areas, and physical distancing.
The third phase is permanently returning to the new normal with better hygiene practices, and respect for spaces between individuals.
88 days ago
Dubai's Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management announced the extension of the 24-hour National Sterilisation Programme for another week from 4th April to control the spread of COVID-19 in Dubai.
Dubai Media Office to announce the extension of the 24-hour lockdown in the Emirate of Dubai for another one week. On the 4th of April, UAE govt announced a complete lockdown for two weeks which was due to end on the 18th of April 2020. The lockdown as of now has been extended till the 24th of this month.
Friday Prayers remained suspended yesterday following the directives of the UAE Govt to close the places of worship in the country until further notice.
90 days ago
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) proposed to release its full $1 trillion lending capacity to support countries that battle the COVID-19 outbreak. The IMF described the COVID-19 pandemic as a crisis like no other crisis ever. The announcement was made by the IMF head Kristalina Georgieva.
In the first-ever virtual annual spring meeting of the IMF and the World Bank in Washington, the IMF announced its plans to double emergency financial assistance. The IMF Board has already approved debt relief for 25 of its poorest members due to the COVID-19 crisis. The G20 Finance ministers showed unanimous support for the Fund to raise more capacity for concessional funding for poor countries.
90 days ago
On 14 April, North Korea launched multiple short-range anti-ship cruise missiles into the sea. Also, Sukhoi jets fired air-to-surface missiles as part of its ongoing military exercises. The information was passed by South Korea's military.
♦ The missile test was launched at around 7 am on 14 April.
♦ The anti-ship missiles plunged into the sea more than 150 km off the east coast town of Munchon and the Sukhois carried out firing tests.
♦ These tests are expected to be the part of wintertime drills which North Korea has been carrying out in recent weeks after coronavirus concerns caused delays.
♦ North Korea was conducting weeks of military drills, including several launches of short-range ballistic missiles despite the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, the country had fired nine ballistic missiles in four rounds of tests.
♦ Also, the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had visited an airbase and observed drills by the country's fighter jets and attack aircraft.
90 days ago
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has announced a training program on COVID-19 from 17 April 2020 for healthcare professionals from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries.
♦ The training program is carried out by the Central government's Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) program.
♦ The training program is in line with PM Modi's vision on #PrepareNotPanic for #SAARCfightsCoronoa, @MEAIndia announces [email protected]
training programs on #COVID19 for healthcare professionals for @SAARCsec countries starting 17 April 2020.
♦ The program was suggested by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an India-initiated video conference of SAARC leaders on 15 March. As per the suggestion, the health professionals of the member nations came together to jointly fight the coronavirus pandemic.
♦ Also, India proposed setting up of a common electronic platform for all SAARC nations to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. All the SAARC countries will share expertise and best practices to jointly combat the spread of coronavirus.
The ITEC Programme was established as per the decision of the Union Cabinet of India on 15 September 1964. The ITEC program was aimed to establish relations of mutual concern and inter-dependence based on commonly held ideals and aspirations and on solid economic foundations. The program is fully funded by GoI.
93 days ago
The Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) has invited Proposals for 'COVID-19 Indo-US Virtual Networks' on 13 April. The forum will allow Indian and the US scientists and engineers currently engaged in COVID-related research to carry out joint research activities through a virtual mechanism.
♦ It aims to leverage existing infrastructure and funding.
♦ The proposals will demonstrate the benefits and value of the Indo-US partnership to advance research and address critical challenges related to COVID-19.
♦ Global challenges like COVID-19 call for global collaborations and partnerships will bring together the best and brightest scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to work together to find solutions to address the current pandemic and the future challenges.
♦ The IUSSFT aims to boost such collaborations for the specific purpose in keeping with their core mandate to catalyze collaborative initiatives across both countries.
The IUSSTF was established under an agreement between the Governments of India and the United States of America in March 2000. The autonomous bilateral organization is jointly funded by both the Governments. It aims to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Innovation through substantive interaction among government, academia, and industry. The Department of Science and Technology (DST), Governments of India, and the US Department of State are respective nodal departments.
96 days ago
Amazon is building a lab that will enable it to test employees for the COVID-19 virus. The move by the online retailer is to protect its delivery employees and delivery drivers who are getting essential products to customers sheltering at home. For this, the company has assigned a team of scientists, software engineers and procurement specialists to build a lab that will test the small numbers of front line employees soon.
Amazon remained open through the pandemic. It has announced plans to hire more employees as the people order online to get essentials without leaving their homes. The company is trying to get government permits to set up the lab. The company plans to test only the employees of the company. The company aims to set up regular testing of its employees to help keep people safe.
Founded on: 5 July 1994
Headquarters: Seattle, Washington DC, United States
Founder & CEO: Jeff Bezos
CTO: Werner Vogels
The American multinational technology company focuses on e-commerce, digital streaming, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence (AI).
96 days ago
India exported 5 tonnes of cargo of medicines, including anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to Israel. The shipment included ingredients for drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. The drugs were exported to Israel as the country requested the supply of hydroxychloroquine, with India being the world's largest producer and exporter of the drug.
On 25 March, India banned exports of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine with immediate effect during the COVID-19 pandemic. The drug hydroxychloroquine is believed to have some positive effect on the treatment of the coronavirus. But the exports from special economic zones (SEZs) and other GoI approved exporters, only, will be allowed to export the drug.
But on 7 April, the Government of India relaxed the ban on exports of paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and the drugs were placed in the licensed category. The move came as the US President Donald Trump had threatened India with retaliation if India rejected the US's demand for the supply of hydroxychloroquine.
97 days ago
Pakistan announced that it is to add more sectors like agriculture and tourism in the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The multi-billion-dollar project has slowed down due to the coronavirus outbreak.
China, earlier, has committed to invest over $60 billion in Pakistan as part of the CPEC under which it planned to build a number of special economic zones (SEZ).
The CPEC is the flagship project of the multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China. It was initiated by the Chinese President Xi Jinping and launched in 2015. It aimed to enhance China's influence around the world through China-funded infrastructure projects. India objected to being a part of the CPEC as it is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
President: Arif Alvi
Prime Minister: Imran Khan
Official languages: English, Urdu
Currency: Pakistani rupee
97 days ago
The US military has requested an additional $20 billion fund to strengthen naval, airborne and ground-based operations in the Indo-Pacific region.
♦ Despite its battle against COVID-19, the US military is continuing to pursue its China containment strategy and plans to strengthen its presence in the Indo-Pacific region.
♦ The fund sought by the US military aims to strengthen naval, airborne and ground-based operations in the Indo-Pacific region. The request would last through the financial year 2026.
♦ Of the total, around $1.6 billion would be released for the financial year 2021, with $18.5 billion earmarked for 2022-26.
♦ The spending amount has been planned under the title “Regain the Advantage,” calls. Of the total amount, around $1.7 billion will be funded to an air missile defence system in the Indo-Pacific region.
♦ The focus of the US military on the region has initiated several new initiatives, including the deployment of army task forces that views on cyber-warfare and other non-conventional forms of conflict in the area.
98 days ago
Global anti-money laundering watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has announced that it will review Pakistan's performance to meet international commitments in the fight against terror financing.
♦ FATF will review Pakistan's performance to meet international commitments and standards in the fight against money laundering and terror financing at a meeting that has been scheduled to be held in Beijing on 21-26 June 2020.
♦ In February 2020, the watchdog FATF gave Pakistan a 4-months of grace period to complete its 27-point action plan against money laundering and terror financing that is committed with the international community. Before the extension, Pakistan had delivered 14 points and missed 13 other targets.
♦ Pakistan government has taken several measures to be removed from the list of countries deemed non-compliant with anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regulations. It is said that the country has taken a measure that can affect Pakistan's economy, which is already under severe strain.
Paris-based FATF is an inter-governmental body formed in 1989. The organization aims to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system. There are around 39 member countries, including the US, the UK, India, Japan, China, and France, among others.
100 days ago
Drug firm Lupin launched generic Mycophenolic acid delayed-release tablets in the US market. The drug is used to prevent organ rejection in patients receiving kidney transplants.
♦ The tablets Mycophenolic acid delayed-release tablets are of strengths 180 mg and 360 mg.
♦ The drug is the generic version of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation's Myfortic delayed-release tablets.
♦ Lupin's alliance partner Concord Biotech Ltd has received approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) earlier for the product.
♦ The tablets are indicated for prophylaxis of organ rejection in adult patients receiving kidney transplants and in pediatric patients at least 5 years of age and older who are at least 6 months post kidney transplant.
100 days ago
The US government has announced a grant of $2.9 million to India. The fund was released by the US government through its aid agency United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
♦ The aim is to help India in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic. It is expected that the assistance will further support India's response to COVID- 19.
♦ The US government is working closely with India through USAID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other relevant agencies to support India's response to the pandemic.
♦ The new grant is added to the $1.4 billion which was provided by the US in health assistance, and nearly $3 billion in total assistance, that the US has provided to India over the last 20 years.
♦ The new funds will support the USAID's health strengthening project which was implemented by Jhpiego, an international non-profit health organization, which is affiliated with Johns Hopkins University.
Formed on: 3 November 1961
Headquarters: Washington, D.C., US
USAID is a non-profit organization of the US government. It is responsible to administer civilian foreign aid and development assistance.
102 days ago
World Food Programme (WFP) conveyed the rapidly growing novel Coronavirus pandemic so far, having little impact on the global food supply chain, but that could change for the worse if major food importers remain anxious. The UN agency's global markets for basic cereals are well-supplied, and prices are generally low. However, given the highly globalized nature of food production and supply, commodities need to move from the world's breadbaskets to where they are consumed, and the novel Coronavirus-related containment measures are starting to make this more challenging.
The Disruptions are so far minimal; the food supply is adequate, and markets are relatively stable, noting that global cereal stocks are at comfortable levels. The outlook for wheat and other staple crops is positive for the rest of the year.
Headquarters: Rome, Italy
Head: David Beasley
102 days ago
UN General Assembly unanimously adopted its first resolution on the coronavirus pandemic co-sponsored by India and 187 other nations, calling for intensified global cooperation to defeat the deadly disease that is causing severe disruption to societies and economies. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was the first such document on the pandemic to be adopted by the world body.
The resolution, adopted Thursday, said the 193-member General Assembly notes with great concern the threat to human health, safety, and well-being caused by the pandemic.It also emphasized the need for full respect for human rights and stresses that there is no place for any form of discrimination, racism, and xenophobia in response to the pandemic.The resolution was sponsored by Ghana, Indonesia, Liechtenstein, Norway, Singapore, and Switzerland.General Assembly is not holding meetings due to the pandemic, the resolution was adopted under a silence procedure. The draft resolution was under silence procedure until April 2 at 6 pm.
According to the new voting rules, if there were no objections to the resolution within the specified time period from member states, the President of the General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad-Bande would circulate a letter confirming the adoption. The 15-nation Security Council, the most powerful UN organ, is expected to hold a meeting on the COVID-19 pandemic next week.