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Last Updated: April 8, 2020 3 hours ago

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  • FATF to review Pakistans performance to fight money laundering

    3 hours 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. Highlights: ♦ 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. FATF: 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.

    Lupin launched drug used for prevention of organ rejection in kidney transplant in the US

    2 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.  Drug:     ♦ 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.

    US announced USD 2.9 million to India to combat COVID-19 outbreak

    2 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). Highlights: ♦ 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. USAID: 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.

    World Food Programme COVID-19 has little impact on global food supply chain

    3 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 Founded: 1961

    UNGA adopts resolution on COVID-19 calls for global cooperation to fight pandemic

    4 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.

    UNSC to hold virtual meeting on coronavirus outbreak

    6 days ago
    The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is to hold a virtual meeting for the first time by next week under the presidency of the Dominican Republic. The council aims to discuss the coronavirus pandemic which killed over 42,000 people globally. The Dominican Republic assumed the rotating presidency of the council for the month of April, taking the baton from China. Highlights: ♦ The meeting will discuss the pandemic caused due to coronavirus. ♦ As per Johns Hopkins University estimate, the confirmed coronavirus cases across the world now stand at over 932,600 and over 42,000 deaths. As per the report, the US has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world at 213,372, followed by Italy (110,574), Spain (104,118) and China (82,361). Over 4,600 people have died in the US so far because of the COVID19.  ♦ Earlier, Dominican Republic presented to members of the Security Council its program of work and informal plan of video teleconferencing (VTCs) for the month of April. ♦ During a virtual pre-council meeting, the members discussed the brought up the COVID-19 pandemic. The Security Council aims to find a solution to the pandemic as the primary responsibility of the UNSC deals with the geopolitical security and peace matters.

    UN report stated COVID-19 is worst crisis since World War II

    7 days ago
    The United Nations warned that the world countries face the most challenging crisis since World War II. The pandemic is expected to cause a recession that probably has no parallel in the recent past. The announcement was made by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during the launch of the "Report on the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19" on 31 March. Report Highlights: ♦ UN stated that there is also a high risk that the combination of the disease and economic impact will contribute to enhanced instability, unrest, and conflict. ♦ The report also highlighted that International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates for the year 2020 which stated 5-25 million jobs will be lost, with a corresponding loss of between $860 million and $3.4 trillion in labor income. ♦ It pointed to the UN trade and development organization UNCTAD's estimate of a 30-40% downward pressure on global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows in 2020. ♦ It also recommended establishing a COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to support efforts in low- and middle-income countries, with the aim of swiftly enabling governments to tackle the crisis and promote recovery.

    China recommended bear bile to treat COVID-19 patients

    8 days ago
    The National Health Commission of China published a list of recommended treatments to treat COVID-19. Apart from western medicine and Chinese medicine, the list included Tan Re Qing, injections that contain bear bile powder.  Bear's Bile: Tan Re Qing is secreted by the liver and stored in the gallbladder of the bear. The bile from various species of bears, including Asiatic black bears and brown bears, has been used as a traditional Chinese medicine since the 8th century. Bear's bile contains high levels of ursodeoxycholic acid, also known as ursodiol. It has been clinically proven to help dissolve gallstones and treat liver disease. Ursodeoxycholic acid has been available as a synthetic drug worldwide for decades. The process of extracting bile from the live bear is painful and can cause agony to the animal. Hence, a  synthetic version of ursodeoxycholic acid has been available for decades.

    UN report states India, China will stay away from world recession

    8 days ago
    The United Nations Trade report titled "The COVID-19 Shock to Developing Countries: Towards a whatever it takes program" stated that the world economy will go into recession in 2020 with a predicted loss of trillions of dollars of global income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also predicted serious problems for developing countries with the likely exception of India and China.  Report Highlights: ♦ The report highlighted that the two-thirds of the world's population living in developing countries face unprecedented economic damage from the coronavirus crisis.  ♦ The UN is planning a $2.5 trillion rescue package for the nation.  ♦ As per the new analysis from United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the developed countries will face a $2 trillion to $3 trillion drop in investments from overseas in the next two years. ♦ It highlighted that the recession will occur despite the massive government package of $5 trillion that is to be infused by G20 member countries. ♦ However, the report did not mention any explanation as to why and how India and China will be exceptions as the world faces a recession and loss in global income that will impact developing countries.

    Saudi Arabia to provide uninterrupted LPG supply to India

    9 days ago
    The Union Minister of Oil Dharmendra Pradhan said that Saudi Arabia has announced to provide uninterrupted liquid petroleum gas (LPG) supplies to India. On 29 March, he discussed global oil market developments with Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman and Aramco's Chief Executive Amin Nasser. Saudi Arabia the LPG supplies to support the domestic requirement in India. On 27 March, two Indian refiners were declared force majeure on crude purchases from the Middle East as the fuel demand dived due to the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. Saudi Arabia: King: Salman Crown Prince: Mohammad bin Salman Capital: Riyadh Currency: Saudi riyal (SR) Spoken/Official language: Arabic Saudi Arabia is bordered by: ♦ Jordan and Iraq to the north ♦ Kuwait to the northeast ♦ Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the east ♦ Yemen to the south ♦ Oman to the southeast Gulf of Aqaba separates Saudi Arabia from Egypt and Israel. 

    IMF reported that the Global economy might enter a recession

    11 days ago
    International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Kristalina Georgieva announced that the global economy is now in a recession due to coronavirus. It has been made clear that the world countries have entered a recession. A rebound in 2021 can happen, only if the virus is contained and prevent liquidity problems from becoming a solvency issue. IMF stated that over 80 countries have already have requested emergency aid to contain coronavirus. Of the 80 countries, most of the countries are low-income countries. More countries have imposed lockdown measures to contain the rapidly spreading virus, which has infected over 337,500 people across the world.  Background: Earlier, the IMF had warned that 2020 world growth would be below the 2.9% rate seen in 2019. The organization stopped short of predicting a recession. Trade wars pushed global growth last year to the lowest rate since a 0.7% contraction in 2009. Also, it forecasted a recovery in 2021. 

    US invoked the rarely used Defense Production Act

    11 days ago
    The United States has invoked the Defense Production Act on 27 March 2020. The rarely used Act was invoked to direct General Motors to manufacture ventilators that are needed to combat COVID-19. President Donald Trump earlier criticized the company for slow-walking production. Highlights: ♦ President Trump also appointed trade advisor Peter Navarro to coordinate the government's efforts to purchase and distribute emergency medical supplies, including ventilators and protective equipment for health care workers. ♦ The US government aims to use the full authority of the federal government to combat the COVID-19 crisis.  ♦ The Act was invoked as General Motors did not move quickly enough to produce needed ventilators amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    China to launch Long March-5B carrier rocket in April

    11 days ago
    China is planning to launch a Long March-5B carrier rocket, an experimental spacecraft, without a crew in April 2020. The mission is a part of a broader spaceflight program to shuttle astronauts to its future space station.  Highlights: ♦ The new-generation spacecraft has been scheduled to launch China's largest carrier rocket from the southern island province of Hainan. ♦ The launch has been set for mid to late April. ♦ The spacecraft was developed for the operation of China's space station and manned space exploration. ♦ The spacecraft will be reusable. ♦ China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) will be larger than China's current Shenzhou spacecraft.

    India proposed to set up common e-platform for SAARC nations to combat coronavirus

    12 days ago
    India has proposed to set up a common electronic platform for all South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations. The proposal was made after Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitched for a regional approach to deal with the pandemic. The information was passed by the Ministry of External Affairs. Common electronic platform: ♦ India proposed the common electronic platform to the senior health officials of the SAARC on 26 March through video conference.  ♦ The aim of the platform is to share knowledge, information, expertise and best practices to jointly combat the spread of coronavirus. ♦ Earlier on 15 March, an India-initiated video conference of SAARC leaders was held. In that conference, PM Modi suggested that health professionals of the member nations could come together to jointly fight against the coronavirus pandemic. SAARC: SAARC was established with the signing of the SAARC Charter on 8 December 1985 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The headquarters of SAARC is located in Kathmandu, Nepal. The regional grouping comprises of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka as members. The observation states of SAARC are the European Union, Australia, Japan, China, Mauritius, Korea, Myanmar, the US, and Iran.

    Man dies of Hantavirus in China

    13 days ago
    A report from China stated that a man died from Hantavirus. He was from China's Yunnan province. He died on a bus to the Shandong province. The people who travelled along with him have been tested.  Hantavirus: Hantaviruses are a family of viruses that are transmitted mainly by rodents. It can show varied disease syndrome in people. The name varies differ in various regions. In America, it is known as "New World" hantaviruses, and in Europe and Asia, it is known as "Old World" hantaviruses. The virus is spread mainly from rodents. The infection with any of the hantavirus can cause hantavirus disease in people. Hantaviruses may cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS). HPS: Early symptoms of HPS include fever, muscle aches, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems.  Late symptoms, usually after four to 10 days, include coughing and shortness of breath. It can be fatal too in some cases. HFRS: HFRS will show symptoms from 1-2 weeks after coming in contact with the virus. In rare cases, it may take up to 8 weeks to show symptoms. Early symptoms include severe headaches, back and abdominal pain, fever, chills, nausea, and blurred vision. Late symptoms include are low blood pressure (BP), acute shock, vascular leakage, and acute kidney failure.

    IMF says COVID-19 might cause a global recession

    14 days ago
    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that the COVID-19 pandemic will cause a global recession in 2020. The recession could be worse than the global financial crisis of 2008-2009. It is also expected that the world economic output should recover in 2021. The information was passed by the IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva. Highlights: ♦ Many countries have taken extraordinary measures to boost health systems and protect affected companies and workers. ♦ Also, several steps have been taken by central banks of the countries to ease monetary policy. ♦ The finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 (G20) of the world's largest economies agreed on the need for solidarity across the globe. ♦ IMF has asked all the countries to work together to protect people and limit the economic damage due to the COVID-19. ♦ IMF asked its members to contribute funds to its Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust in order to help the poorest countries.

    US cuts USD 1 billion aid to Afghanistan after Pompeo trip to Kabul

    15 days ago
    The United States has cut $1 billion in assistance to Afghanistan as Afghan's leaders failed to agree on forming a new government. The slash was announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after his visit to Kabul to meet with Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdulla. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and former Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah informed Pompeo that they do not agree on an inclusive government that can meet the challenges of governance, peace, and security, and provides for the health and welfare of Afghan citizens. Background: The US has supported the Afghan government since it invaded the country in 2001 and overthrew the Taliban after the 9/11 attacks. The US withdrew its troops from Afghanistan under the terms of its agreement with the Taliban. As per the agreement, the US will continue to withdraw its troops in the next several months from about 13,000 to 8,600.

    Afghan government, Taliban held first discussion to arrange possible prisoner exchanges

    15 days ago
    The Afghan government and the Taliban held their first discussion on arranging possible prisoner exchanges. The information was passed by the US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad.  Highlights: ♦ The US and Qatar facilitated the first Afghan government to Taliban technical talks on prisoner releases through Skype video conferencing. ♦ Zalmay Khalilzad stated that they should move quickly to conclude plans for such exchanges as the Coronavirus pandemic was complicating diplomatic contacts.  ♦ Earlier, the Afghan government said that it would free 1,500 Taliban prisoners. There will be a delay in the release of another 3,500 that the militants say must be set free for talks to begin under a peace deal reached with the United States. Background: The militants also say that to begin the talks as per the agreement; it requires the government to release 5,000 prisoners. The Taliban promised to open talks with the Afghan government as part of the accord reached with the United States on 29 February 2020 at Doha to end 18 years of US involvement in the war in Afghanistan.

    UN to create global coronavirus fund

    16 days ago
    The United Nations (UN) has announced that it is to create a fund to support the treatment of coronavirus patients worldwide. The announcement was made by Norway's Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide. A formal announcement is yet to be made. Highlights: ♦ The move aims to provide predictability to the partners and help to make the efforts more effective. ♦ The fund will assist developing countries with weak health systems to address the crisis and to tackle the long-term consequence. ♦ Almost 340,000 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) across the world, and more than 14,500 have died.

    China reports no new domestic cases of COVID - 19 for 2nd successive day

    17 days ago
    China reported no new domestic cases of COVID - 19 for the second successive day. The Chineses National Health Commission registered 41 new imported cases of COVID-19 and no instances of internal transmission. The nation also recorded seven further fatalities. No new cases of the coronavirus have registered in Wuhan, where the outbreak is believed to have originated.

    UN releases World Happiness Report 2020

    17 days ago
    United Nations released the World Happiness Report 2020. The World Happiness Report ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves. The report is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness. This is the 8th edition of the World Happiness Report. The special focus of the World Happiness Report 2020 was on environments for happiness, which emphasizes more specifically on social environments for happiness, as reflected by the quality of personal social connections and social institutions. World Happiness Report 2020 covers the period of 2017-2019 and analyses the countries on the following six variables: ♦ GDP per capita ♦ Social support ♦ Healthy life expectancy ♦ Freedom to make life choices ♦ Generosity ♦ Perceptions of corruption Ranking of countries as per the World Happiness Report 2020: 1. Finland 2. Denmark 3. Switzerland 4. Iceland 5. Norway 6. Netherlands 7. Sweden 8. New Zealand 9. Austria 10. Luxembourg 144. India

    Saudi Arabia registers 70 new COVID-19 cases bringing total to 344

    18 days ago
    Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has registered 70 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infected cases to 344. Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health stated that among the new infections were 11 cases coming from Morocco, India, Jordan, the Philippines, Britain, the UAE, and Switzerland. They were taken directly from airports to quarantine in hospitals. The remaining 58 cases involved transmission from persons already infected, who were attending social occasions, such as marriage parties, condolence offerings, and family meetings.

    Virtual G20 leaders summit to be held in March

    21 days ago
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks (through telephone call) with the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman. The two leaders discussed the global situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Highlights: ♦ The leaders emphasized the need for coordinated efforts to adequately address the global challenge. ♦ Discussion on Covid-19, which impacted the health and well-being of several hundred thousand people, was held.  ♦ Prime Minister Modi proposed a virtual conference with the g20 leaders. ♦ His Highness, Mohammed bin Salman agreed to the exercise at the level of G20 leaders. At present, Saudi Arabia holds the Chair of G20. ♦ The G20 leaders' summit will be held in March 2020. ♦ It is expected that it would be useful at a global scale, both for discussing specific measures to address the challenges posed by the global outbreak of COVID-19 and also to instill confidence in the global populace.

    First human trial of a vaccine to protect against COVID-19 began in the US

    22 days ago
    The first human trial of a vaccine against coronavirus (COVID-19) began at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) in Seattle, the US.  Covid-19 vaccine trial: ♦ The vaccine is called mRNA-1273. The vaccine has shown promise in animal models. ♦ It was developed by NIAID scientists and their collaborators at the biotechnology company Moderna, Inc., based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  ♦ A 43-year-old woman from Seattle received the first dose.  ♦ The vaccine contains a harmless genetic code copied from the virus that causes the disease. It cannot cause COVID-19. ♦ The trial will enroll 45 healthy adult volunteers over approximately six weeks. ♦ The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) supported the manufacturing of the vaccine candidate for the Phase 1 clinical trial. ♦ The study participants will receive two doses of the vaccine via intramuscular injection in the upper arm approximately 28 days apart. ♦ Participants will return to the clinic for follow-up visits between vaccinations and for additional visits across the span of a year after the second shot.  ♦ The participants will be monitored by the Clinicians for common vaccination symptoms, such as soreness at the injection site or fever, as well as any other medical issues.  ♦ A safety monitoring committee will also periodically review trial data and advise NIAID.

    PM Narendra Modi to participate 100th birth Anniversary celebrations of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

    22 days ago
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to participate in the 100th birth Anniversary celebrations of 'Jatir Pita' Bangabandhu, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in Bangladesh on 17 March (through video message). Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the planned events will be held without any public gatherings.   Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is popularly known as Bangabandhu by the people of Bangladesh. He was born on 17 March 1920 at Tungipara, Bengal Presidency, British India. He was a leading figure of the Awami League, which was founded as an East Pakistan-based political party in Pakistan in 1949. He served as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, and then as the President of Bangladesh. He was assassinated on 15 August 1975. His daughter Sheikh Hasina is the current leader of the Awami League.

    UNCTAD reports Coronavirus outbreak cost global economy up to USD 2 trillion

    23 days ago
    The UN's trade and development agency United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reported that the coronavirus (Covid-19) cost the global economy up to $2 trillion in 2019. The announcement was made by Richard Kozul-Wright, Director, Division on Globalization and Development Strategies at UNCTAD. Report: ♦ As per the report, the epidemic caused a recession in some countries and depress global annual growth to below 2.5%.  ♦ The economic uncertainty has likely cost the global economy $1 trillion in 2020.  ♦ A $220 billion hit the developing countries, excluding China.  ♦ The most badly affected economies because of the epidemic are oil-exporting countries. They lost more than 1% point of growth and those with strong trade linkages to the initially shocked economies.  ♦ Also, growth decelerations between 0.7% and 0.9% are likely to occur in the American countries such as Canada, Mexico, and the Central American region and countries in the East and South Asia, and immediacy of the European Union.

    World countries asked publishers to make all coronavirus-related data available to the public

    25 days ago
    World countries, including India and the US, have asked publishers to make all coronavirus-related research and data available to the public to contain and mitigate the rapidly evolving Pandemic. The joint open letter was issued by the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and US' Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier on behalf of the government science leaders including science ministers and chief science advisors from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. The Coronavirus was first surfaced in China in December 2019. Coronavirus has been declared as Pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). It has now killed more than 3,000 people globally. Science officials have stated that basic science research and innovation will be vital to address the global crisis. Looking at the urgency of the situation, it is very important that scientists and the public can access research outcomes as soon as possible.

    ADB allocates USD 200 mn to support supply chains in the fight against Coronavirus

    27 days ago
    The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is to make available $200 million through its Supply Chain Finance Program for several companies that manufacture and distribute medicines and other items needed to combat the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).  About Funding: ♦ ADB, in partnership with commercial banks, has offered to provide the companies in Asia and the Pacific that produce and distribute drugs for COVID-19. ♦ It will support the companies for which the supply chain is critical to fighting the virus.  ♦ Previously, ADB funded $2 million to enhance detection, prevention, and response in the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Greater Mekong Subregion, $2 million to support response in all its developing members, and $18.6 million private-sector loan to Wuhan to support the continued supply of essential medicines and personal protective equipment.

    UNSC passes resolution to endorse US Taliban peace agreement

    28 days ago
    United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has unanimously adopted a United States' resolution that supports a recent deal between the US and the Afghan Taliban, which is a rare endorsement of an agreement with a militant group. The US military has started to withdraw its troops per the agreement signed in the 29 February pact with the Taliban. Highlights: ♦ In the resolution, UNSC has urged the Government of Afghanistan to advance the peace process by participating in intra-Afghan negotiations through a diverse and inclusive negotiating team composed of Afghan political and civil society leaders, including women.  ♦ The United States is to end its longest-ever conflict and under the terms of a deal signed in Doha in February 2019.  ♦ Under the pact, all foreign forces would quit Afghanistan within 14 months. ♦ It also will provide the Taliban to stick to their security commitments.

    IAEA urged Iran to provide access to suspected nuclear sites

    29 days ago
    United Nations atomic watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) urged Iran to cooperate immediately and fully with the nuclear agreement with world powers at the quarterly meeting of IAEA's 35-member Board of Governor. IAEA asked Iran to provide access to two locations of the nuclear sites in January 2020. Iran failed to engage in substantive discussions to clarify IAEA's questions. The organization also stated that it did not observe any changes to Iran's implementation of its nuclear-related commitments since January.  Iran nuclear deal: Iran nuclear deal is also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In 2015, Iran agreed to a deal on its nuclear program with the P5+1 group of world powers. The P5+1 countries are the US, UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany. Under the deal, Iran acceded to a 10-year restriction on nuclear production. On 8 May 2018, the United States withdrew from the deal. In January 2020, Iran withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal after the US targeted strike that killed Iran's Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA): IAEA was established on 29 July 1957. It is headquartered in Vienna, Austria. IAEA has 171 members states. The organization aims to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy. It also takes initiatives to inhibit the use of nuclear energy for military purpose, including nuclear weapons.

    Saudi Arabia slashed oil prices after OPEC plus meeting fails to make a deal

    30 days ago
    Oil prices plunged by 20% after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) failure to make a deal with its allies regarding production cuts.  The meeting OPEC+ that was held between OPEC and its allies concluded with no deal on additional production cuts. Highlights: ♦ Saudi Arabia slashed oil prices. The country announced massive discounts on the official selling prices for April. It is preparing to increase its production above the 10 million barrel per day mark.  ♦ Saudi currently pumps 9.7 million barrels per day. But it can generally ramp up to 12.5 million barrels per day. ♦ After the move by the Kingdom, Brent oil was down nearly 10% at $45.27. OPEC+ meeting: The 178th Extraordinary Meeting of the Conference of OPEC was held in Vienna, Austria, on 5 March 2020. It was held under the Chairmanship of its President, HE Mohamed Arkab, Minister of Energy of Algeria and Head of its Delegation. The Conference considered the withdrawal of Ecuador from OPEC, with effect from 1 January 2020.

    United Nations Global Compact Study Women Labour force declined greatly in India

    32 days ago
    Female labor-force participation in India has declined from 34% in 2006 to 24.8% in 2020. India is the only country among the 153 surveyed countries where the economic gender gap is larger than the political gap. The study found that raising women's participation in the labor force to the same level as men can boost India's GDP by 27%. The female labor-force participation in India has declined from 34% in 2006 to 24.8% in 2020. The policies and procedures are made to adapt to various life changes in their employees, including maternity, changing care needs, dual-career couples, and continuity. Employed Women: Globally, 38.7% of employed women are working in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, but only 13.8% of landholders are women. Gender mainstreaming goes beyond developing separate women's projects within work programs or women's components within existing activities in the work programs. It requires attention to gender perspectives as an integral part of all activities across all applications. This involves putting gender perspectives as the inner frame of thought to all policy development, research, advocacy, development, implementation, and monitoring of norms and standards and planning, application, and control of projects.

    BRAC retains its position as top NGO for the 5th consecutive year

    32 days ago
    Bangladesh-based international development organization BRAC retained its position as the top NGO of the world for the 5th consecutive year. The rankings for 2020 were announced by the Geneva-based organization NGO Adviser which publishes the rankings every year based on publicly available data for the top 500 global NGOs.  BRAC: BRAC was founded by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed in 1972 immediately after Bangladesh came into existence as an independent nation in 1971 to help the returning war refugees with small-scale relief and rehabilitation project. Fazle Hasan Abed died in 2019. They announced a new 2030 strategy to make the lives of 250 million people self-sustainable.BRAC has been working in areas like poverty alleviation through extending loans to the poor, gender equality, healthcare, nutrition, environment, and employment, among many other things. It disbursed loans amounting to four billion dollars, reaching 7.1 million clients in 2018.BRAC runs a university, a bank, insurance company, a seed company, among other things. They have one lakh full-time staff, 8,000 of whom work outside Bangladesh. BRAC: BRAC, is an international development organization based in Bangladesh, In order to receive foreign donations. Founder: Fazle Hasan Abed Founded: 1972 Headquarters: Dhaka, Bangladesh

    Janez Jansa elected as PM of Slovenia

    33 days ago
    Janez Jansa, an anti-immigrant politician, was elected as the new Prime Minister of Slovenia. Slovenia's lawmakers backed the selection of Jansa as the new prime minister. It paved the way to form a right-leaning government. The 90-member parliament voted 52-31 to support Janez Jansa, the leader of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), as the prime minister-designate. PM Marjan Sarec stepped down in January 2020 amid infighting in his minority five-party coalition. Jansa is an ally of Hungarian PM Viktor Orban. The SDS won the most votes in the 2018 election. Initially, other groups in parliament refused to cooperate with it because of its right-wing policies. Jansa will assemble his Cabinet in  15 days to assemble his Cabinet, which will also need parliamentary approval before it can take office.

    Two new land ports to be added as entry points for Bangladeshi people

    33 days ago
    Bangladesh is to add two new land ports for the Bangladeshi citizens travelling to India. It will have the option of two more land port entry points on their visas. The announcement was made by the High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das. Highlights: ♦ Visitors from Bangladesh to India will be able to enter India from Bhomra, and Akhaura side of Bangladesh will connect Gojadanga and Agartala, respectively, on the Indian side. ♦ Currently, Bangladeshi people can travel to India with a normal visa from only two land ports namely Benapole and Petrpole, apart from the travel by air and rail. ♦ The decision to allow entry into India from the two additional land ports was agreed during the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India in October 2018. The move is now in the process of being implemented.

    Sri Lanka will lead science, technology and innovation sector in BIMSTEC

    34 days ago
    The 20th Session of the senior officials' meeting (SoM) was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 3 March 2020. The meeting was chaired by Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha.  Highlights: ♦ In the meeting, it was decided that Sri Lanka will lead the science, technology, and innovation sector in the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). ♦ It was also decided that a facility for technology transfer is planned to be opened in the future.  ♦ Sri Lanka also appointed a Director to the BIMSTEC secretariat in June. ♦ The country is keen to cooperate with the member countries in the fields of trade, investment, technology, tourism, and connectivity, ahead of the summit. ♦ BIMSTEC Secretary General Shahidul Islam emphasized the importance of sectoral meetings for more comprehensive cooperation and called for the support of all member states on this front and negotiation on BIMSTEC free trade area (FTA). ♦ Sri Lanka had focused on the need for institutional building through the finalization of the BIMSTEC charter, and the allocation of defined areas of Sri Lanka has been scheduled to hand over the chairmanship to Thailand by the end of 2020. ♦ Sri Lanka is currently preparing for the 5th BIMSTEC Summit, which will be preceded by the 17th Ministerial Meeting and 21st Senior Officials Meeting by the end of 2020.  

    Luxembourg became the worlds first country to offer entirely free public transport

    34 days ago
    Luxembourg has become the first government to have made free public transport free. The move came with effect from 1 March. As per the move, buses, trams, and trains in the country became completely free of charge. Aim: The move aims to encourage Luxembourg's inhabitants to use it and curb the continued traffic problems the country is experiencing. Highlights: ♦ The country aims to achieve its vision of free mobility. The move focuses on alleviating constant traffic issues and finding a more suitable model for sustainability. ♦ Luxembourg aimed to transform into a mobility laboratory and to start making the people move around with public transport. ♦ The estimated cost of the project is around $46 million. ♦ The government has assured no layoffs and public transport staff members who are left without roles will be transferred to new positions. Luxembourg: Monarch (list): Henri Prime Minister (list): Xavier Bettel Capital: Luxembourg City Official languages: Luxembourgish, French, German Currency: Euro (€)

    First direct discussion between the US President and Taliban ended well

    35 days ago
    The first direct discussion between the US President Donald Trump and a senior Taliban official was 3 March. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Taliban's chief negotiator, and Mr. Trump held a 35-minute telephone call. Both parties have agreed to avoid violence. The call happened after the US and the Taliban signed an agreement in Doha on a US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Peace deal: ♦ The Peace deal was signed on 29 February. The deal will allow for the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan.  ♦ More than 12,000 US troops are there in Afghanistan. Over 2,448 Americans died in combat there since October 2001.  ♦ India is invited by the Qatar government for the singing ceremony as India has been a key stakeholder in the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. ♦ For the first time India will officially attend an event involving the Taliban.  ♦ Countries including the US, Russia, and Iran have been reaching out to the Taliban as part of efforts to push the stalled Afghan peace process.

    Sri Lankan general election to be held on 25 April

    35 days ago
    Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapksa dissolved the parliament on 2 March. He called for general elections on 25 April 2020. President is empowered to dissolve the parliament after four and a half years of its first sitting. Sri Lankan election: ♦ The tenure of the parliament term was to end in August. But general elections were called because the Prime minister Mahinda Rajpaksa led parliament is a minority government and expects to gain a majority in coming elections. ♦ Sri Lankan government announced that the nominations for the election will be received from 12-19 March. ♦ The newly elected parliament of the country will meet on 14 May. 

    Indian-American appointed as a key member to the US coronavirus task force

    35 days ago
    Indian-American Seema Verma was appointed as a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. It was constituted by US President Donald Trump. The appointment was of Seema Verma, Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced by the US Vice President Mike Pence. Also, Robert Wilkie, Secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs has been added to the task force. Coronavirus Task Force: ♦ The task force was created on 30 January  ♦ The task force will fight the coronavirus that has claimed six lives in the country and infected over 90 individuals in America.  ♦ The task force is headed by Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and coordinated through the National Security Council (NSC).   ♦ The White House Coronavirus Task Force works every day to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of the people fo America. Note: World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed 89,527 COVID-19 cases and 3,056 deaths reported globally in 67 countries. 

    PM Benjamin Netanyahu claims victory

    36 days ago
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed victory in Israel's general election 2020. The early results put him ahead of his rival Benny Gantz. Benjamin Netanyahu is Israel's longest-serving leader. He is seeking a record fifth term, having been in office from 1996 to 1999 and again from 2009. Israeli legislative election 2020: Israel General election was held on 2 March 2020. The elections aim to elect members of the twenty-third Knesset. As per the Central Election Committee (CEC), with almost a quarter of votes counted, Mr. Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party has secured 28.73%. Mr. Gantz's, the centrist Blue and White alliance, has secured 23.26% so far.  Israel: President: Reuven Rivlin Prime Minister: Benjamin Netanyahu Official languages: Hebrew Capital: Jerusalem Currency: New shekel (₪‎)

    North Korea launched two short-range missiles

    36 days ago
    North Korea launched two short-range missiles into its eastern sea on 2 March. The information was given by the South Korean officials. Missile launch: ♦ The two projectiles were fired from an area near the coastal town of Wonsan. ♦ The missiles had a range of about 240 kilometers and a height of about 35 kilometers. ♦ They are presumed to be short-range ballistic missiles. North Korea: Leader: Kim Jong-un President of Assembly Presidium: Choe Ryong-hae Capital: Pyongyang Official languages: Korean Currency: Korean People's won (₩)

    Muhyiddin Yassin was sworn in as the 8th PM of Malaysia

    36 days ago
    Muhyiddin Yassin was sworn in as the 8th Prime Minister of Malaysia. He emerged as a frontrunner for the top job at the end of  February. But Mahathir Mohamad claimed he was the one with enough support to form a government and would prove it with a vote in Parliament. Muhyiddin Yassin: Muhyiddin Yassin was the Minister of Home Affairs under former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. He unexpectedly resigned from the job. His resignation caused a plunged Malaysia into a political crisis. Muhyiddin served as the deputy prime minister under Najib Razak. And in 2015, he was sacked due to a multibillion-dollar corruption scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).  He then joined forces with United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and won in the May 2018 election.  Malaysia: Supreme Head: Abdullah al-Haj Prime Minister: Muhyiddin Yassin Currency: Ringgit (RM) Official/ National language: Malay Capital: Kuala Lumpur

    ADB provides USD 4 million to the Asia-Pacific countries to fight coronavirus outbreak

    37 days ago
    Asian Development Bank (ADB) is to provide a total of $4 million (Rs.29 crore) to the Asia-Pacific countries. The bank aims to help developing countries in Asia and the Pacific to fight the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19). ADB has also approved a further $2 million to help developing countries in Asia and the Pacific to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak. The bank also asked to improve resilience to COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. Highlights: ♦ The work is to be conducted in close collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO). ♦ The funds will be given to all ADB developing member countries to update and implement the pandemic response plans. ♦ The financial assistance would be used for several purposes including assessing the health system, buying emergency supplies and equipment, and economic impacts to improve future resilience, and coordinating better regionally to prevent, detect, and respond to animal and human disease outbreaks.

    Sri Lanka to withdraw from UNHRC resolution on war crimes

    39 days ago
    Sri Lanka formally announced the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that it was withdrawing from the UN resolution on post-war accountability and reconciliation. The announcement was made by the Minister of Foreign Relations Dinesh Gunawardena in Geneva.  Highlights: ♦ Sri Lanka announced its withdrawal from co-sponsorship of Resolution 40/1 on Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in the country. ♦ Sri Lanka will still be committed to achieving "sustainable peace and reconciliation”, through a process designed and executed domestically. ♦ The country cannot pull out of the resolution until 2021 as the former President Maithripala Sirisena co-sponsored the resolution. The resolution aimed to promote reconciliation, accountability and human rights in the country. Background In 2015, Sri Lanka co-sponsored the UNHRC resolution, 30/1, making commitments to promote reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka. The commitments were reaffirmed in two further UNHRC resolutions in 2017 and 2019. Sri Lanka was committed to establishing a judicial mechanism with a special counsel to investigate allegations of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law. Close to 5 years later, Sri Lanka has not yet established the mechanism.

    Indias Ambassador to Qatar to attend the signing of the peace deal between the US and Taliban

    40 days ago
    India's Ambassador to Qatar P. Kumaran is to attend the signing of the peace deal between the US and the Afghan Taliban in Doha on 29 February.  Peace deal: ♦ The Peace deal will allow for the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan.  ♦ There are more than 12,000 US troops in Afghanistan. A report stated that 2,448 Americans have died in combat there since the invasion in October 2001.  ♦ India has been invited by the Qatar government for the singing ceremony India has been a key stakeholder in the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.  ♦ This will be the first time India will officially attend an event involving the Taliban.  ♦ Countries including the US, Russia, and Iran have been reaching out to the Taliban as part of efforts to push the stalled Afghan peace process. ♦ In November 2018, India had sent two former diplomats in non-official capacity to a conference on the Afghan peace process in Moscow, Russia. The peace deal conference was organized by Russia. It was attended by a high-level Taliban delegation, representatives of Afghanistan and from several other countries, including the US, Pakistan, and China.

    Malaysia to hold election to elect Prime Minister

    40 days ago
    Malaysian Parliament has decided to pick a new Prime Minister in the first week of March. The announcement was made by the interim leader Mahathir Mohamad. The move comes after the collapse of the ruling alliance and snap elections will be called if the vote ends in an impasse. Malaysian lawmakers will meet on 2 March to resolve the country's political impasse after the monarch failed to find any candidate with a clear majority to become the next Prime Minister. Elections will be held if no one gets majority support from the 222 members of parliament to become premier.  Malaysia: Government: Federal parliamentary elective constitutional monarchy Supreme Head/ King: Abdullah al-Haj Interim Prime Minister: Mahathir Mohamad Official/ National language: Malay Capital: Kuala Lumpur Currency: Ringgit (RM)

    Cabinet approved to accord National Importance status to NIFTS at Kundli, Thanjavur

    40 days ago
    The Union Cabinet approved to grant the status of National Importance to National Institutes of Food Technology (NIFT) at Kundli, Haryana, and Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, on 26 February. It was announced by the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar.   Benefits: ♦ The approval to grant National Importance status will bring more professionalism and lead to faster growth of these institutes.  ♦ The status will lead to improved quality in the institutes.  ♦ The Bill to confer the status to the institute will be introduced in Parliament to declare the National Institutes of Food Technology at Kundli and Thanjavur of National Importance.

    Pranab Mukherjee to address Bangladesh Parliament on Mujib Centenary

    42 days ago
    Former President Pranab Mukherjee is to address Jatiya Sangsad, a special session of Bangladesh Parliament, on the occasion of the centenary year of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Along with Mukherjee, Nepalese President Bidhya Devi Bhandari is also invited for the session. This would be the third time a foreign dignitary would address Bangladesh's parliament. Jatiya Sangsad: ♦ The special session of the Jatiya Sangsad has been scheduled to be held on 22-23 March 2020. ♦ The Mujib Centenary year will begin on 17 March in Dhaka. ♦ Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to participate in the centenary celebrations in Bangladesh. Also, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla will be visiting Dhaka in the first week of March to prepare the ground for Prime Minister Modi's visit to Bangladesh. Jatiya Sangsad: ♦ Jatiya Sangsad is the supreme legislative body of Bangladesh. The type of Bangladesh body is Unicameral. It was established on 7 March 1973.  Speaker: Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury Deputy Speaker: Fazle Rabbi Miah Leader of the House: Sheikh Hasina Leader of the Opposition: Rowshan Ershad ♦ The assembly contains 350 seats, including 50 seats reserved for women. The general election of the assembly is held every 5 years. 

    Israel claimed airstrikes on Damascus airport area

    44 days ago
    Israel claimed airstrikes on Damascus airport area. Six people have been killed in an Israeli air attack on Damascus on 23 February. Israel confirmed raids on the Syrian capital and on the besieged Gaza Strip. More than 20 rockets and mortars were launched from Gaza towards Israel. The bombings have set off warning sirens in the southern city of Ashqelon and several other locations. Israel launched airstrikes on extremist group Islamic Jihad in response to a barrage of rockets from the group aimed at Israel earlier on the same day. Islamic Jihad: Islamic Jihad was formed in 1979. Islamic Jihad and Hamas have fought three wars with Israel in Gaza since 2008. It is backed by Iran. The Palestinian faction's leadership was based in Gaza until 1987. It was then moved to Lebanon and later Syria.  Israel: President: Reuven Rivlin Prime Minister: Benjamin Netanyahu Currency: New shekel (₪‎) (ILS) Capital: Jerusalem

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