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Last Updated: October 14, 2019 6 hours ago

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  • China and Nepal signed rail, road link deal

    6 hours ago
    China and India signed a preliminary pact on a rail link that connects the Tibetan capital Lhasa to Kathmandu, Nepal. The pact was signed during the State visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping on 13 October 2019.  Highlights: ♦ China also promised help to upgrade the Arniko Highway linking Kathmandu with the Tatopani transit point. ♦ Also, China pledged to help Nepal realize its dream of becoming a land-linked country.  ♦ China will lend its support for a large number of connectivity projects between the two countries as Nepal looks to maintain strategic autonomy from southern neighbour India.

    Prahlad Singh Patel participated in the BRICS Culture Ministers Meet

    14 hours ago
    BRICS Culture Ministers’ Meet was held at Curitiba, Brazil.  Shri Prahlad Singh Patel, Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism (Independent Charge), participated in the meeting. In the meeting, the countries reaffirmed to contribute towards stronger bonds of friendship and cooperation in cultural fields amongst member countries. India-BRICS relationship: ♦ With its rich cultural heritage and traditions, India has contributed towards stronger bonds of friendship and cooperation in the fields of Cultural Heritage, Archives, Literature, Theatre for children and young people, Films, Arts, Museums & Galleries, etc. ♦ India's National Gallery of Modern Arts of India, under BRICS Alliance of Museums and Art Galleries, is to host Bonding Regions & Imagining Cultural Synergies during November-December, 2019. ♦ India has also proposed another field of cooperation under the aegis of BRICS Alliance on Literature to conduct BRICS Literary Festival. The festival will enhance cooperation and exchanges in the field of literature and promote the translation of literary works of famous writers and poets of BRICS member states.

    Singapore to ban sugary drink ads in fight against diabetes

    3 days ago
    Singapore's action appears to go further than measures in other countries such as Mexico and Britain restrict when advertisements for high-calorie foods and drinks can be shown on television to limit their exposure to children. They will introduce an advertising prohibition of product advertisements for the least healthy SSBs on all local mass media platforms, including broadcast, print, out-of-home and online channels. Singapore will consider taxes on sugary drink makers and importers, and even a total ban on the sale of some beverages.The Coca-Cola Company, the world's biggest beverage maker. They welcomed the plans and would work to reduce sugar levels in its drinks sold in Singapore.Singapore to reduce sugar because while sugar in moderation is fine. They consult consumers, drink makers and the advertising industry in coming months over the measures without giving a timeline for implementation. Singapore Currency: Singapore dollar President: Halimah Yacob Prime Minister: Lee Hsien Loong

    Singapore imposed a ban ads for unhealthy sugary drinks

    4 days ago
    Singapore imposed a ban ads for the most unhealthy sugary drinks in its latest move to combat rising diabetes rates. It became the first country in the world to ban such ads. The ban was announced by the health ministry of Singapore. Aim: The ban aims to reduce the influence of such advertisements on consumer preferences. The country also plans to explore the possibility of a sugar tax or ban. Ban: Products that are considered less healthy must now display labels grading their nutritional and sugar content. Also, those drinks that are considered to be most unhealthy banned from appearing in ads across all media platforms, including broadcast, print, and online channels. International Diabetes Federation reported 13.7% of Singapore adults to suffer from diabetes. It is one of the highest rates among developed nations.

    UNICEF launched the Cryptocurrency Fund

    4 days ago
    United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) launched the Cryptocurrency Fund. This new venture of UNICEF will now be able to receive, hold and disburse donations of cryptocurrencies ether and bitcoin. For the first time ever the United Nations organizations, UNICEF will use cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency Fund: ♦ The aim of the UNICEF's Cryptocurrency Fund is to fund open source technology benefiting children and young people around the world.  ♦ Under the structure of the UNICEF Cryptocurrency Fund, contributions will be held in their cryptocurrency of contribution and granted out in the same cryptocurrency. ♦ Ethereum Foundation is the first contributor to the UNICEF Cryptocurrency Fund. This fund will benefit 3 grantees of the UNICEF Innovation Fund and also a project coordinated by the Global Imaging Genetics of Adolescents (GIGA) initiative to connect schools across the world to the internet. UNICEF: UNICEF-United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund UNICEF was formed on 11 December 1946. It is headquarters in New York City, U.S. Henrietta H. Fore is the Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund. It functions under the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UNSC). The organization aimed to provide emergency food and healthcare to children.

    Saudi Arabia permits women to serve in the armed forces

    4 days ago
    Saudi Arabia announced that it will allow women in the kingdom to serve in the armed forces. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, has approved various other reforms that are aimed at widening women's rights Aim: ♦ The country has initiated a broad programme of economic and social reforms to empower women in the country. The move aimed to increase the rights of women in the kingdom. ♦ Now, women in Saudi would be able to serve as private first class, corporal or sergeant. ♦ In 2018, Saudi Arabia authorized women to join their security forces. ♦ Earlier, the Kingdom has allowed women to drive and to travel abroad without consent from a male guardian.  ♦ The State plans to improve tourism activities as part of a plan to diversify its economy away from oil.

    India and France agreed to deepen defence ties

    4 days ago
    Defence minister Rajnath Singh visited France from 7th October to 8th October. He held discussions with the French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly. Highlights: ♦ During his visit, he reviewed the full spectrum of the bilateral defence engagement. ♦ India and France reaffirmed their strong commitment to further deepen cooperation to combat terrorism. ♦ Both the countries discussed ways to further deepen defence-related official and operational level interactions.  ♦ Both sides agreed to expand the scope and complexity of the existing regular bilateral joint exercises including SHAKTI, VARUNA, and GARUDA. ♦ He received the first of 36 Rafale combat jets during his visit.

    PayPal exits Facebooks Libra cryptocurrency

    5 days ago
    Payment service provider PayPal dropped out of Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency. It has become the first company to exit the Libra Association. The reason cited was the project continues to face queries from regulators around the world. It also said that it is to focus on advancing the existing mission and business priorities of the company. Libra Association: The Libra Association is an independent, not-for-profit membership organization. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. Initially, the Libra association was backed by 28 groups of multinational companies and nonprofits and a Facebook subsidiary, Calibra. Now with the exit of PayPal, there are 27 members in the group. Calibra leads the association. The association was intended to be the main way consumers will interact with the project. The companies involved pledged $10million into a common pot to join. Libra: Libra is a global currency and financial infrastructure built by Facebook. It was powered by a new Facebook-created version of the blockchain, the encrypted technology used by bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Facebook aims to reach 1.7 billion people around the world who do not have access to a bank account. This new technology threatens to change the landscape of banking. Facebooks' Libra cryptocurrency is under scrutiny as it faces issues regarding regulation and antitrust measures.

    India handed over 10,000 vials of antirabies vaccines to Myanmar

    October 9, 2019
    India handed over 10,000 vials of anti-rabies vaccines to Myanmar. The move is to help Myanmar in its fight against the Rabies disease. The handing over ceremony was held in Yangon, Myanmar on 8 October. The vials of Anti-Rabies Vaccines were handed over by the Deputy Chief of Mission Sumit Seth to Myanmar's Director General of Department of Medical Research [DG(DMS)] Zaw Than Htun at the Indian Embassy in Myanmar.  Aim: The aim of the move of donating vials is to provide support to the Government of Myanmar for its fight against Rabies. This showcases the strength of India's pharmaceutical industry in manufacturing high-quality vaccines at a highly competitive price. Capacity building program: ♦ Indian government plans capacity-building programmes for Myanmar's doctors and paramedics with the help of the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR). ♦ India is also upgrading Yangon Children's Hospital and Sittwe General Hospital.  ♦ India is also constructing a 200-bed women's hospital at Monywa in the neighbouring country.

    Trade opportunities between the US and India are historic

    October 7, 2019
    The governor of Arkansas state Asa Hutchinson in the US said that the trade opportunities between the US and India are historic although there is a re-examining of trading relationships based on a look at new trading rules. Because of the national leaders who foster trade and investment between India and the United States the trade opportunities are very high. Hutchinson: Asa Hutchinson is one of 5 governors of New Jersey, Colorado, Delaware, and Indiana apart from Arkansas. He has been scheduled to visit India over the next few months to enhance economic ties with the country.

    China state oil firm withdraws from USD 5 billion deal

    October 7, 2019
    China bowing down to US sanctions, Beijing's state oil company on Sunday pulled out of a USD 5 billion deal to develop of Iran's massive offshore natural gas field. The South Pars field deal was signed in 201 7 between China National Petroleum Company (CNPC), Iranian PetroPars and France's Total SA. Notably, Total SA earlier withdrew in light of US President Donald Trump sanctions in 2018. Iran Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said that the China National Petroleum Corp was no longer in the project", reported Tasmin News Agency. The minister did not give any specific reason for China's withdrawal. CNPC has so far made no comment over the issue. The pulling out of China comes at a time when Washington and Beijing are engaged in their trade war with levying tariffs and counter-tariffs on each other. Iran holds the second-largest reserves of natural gas and the world's fourth-largest oil According to the initial plan of development of South Pars field which is the world's second-largest known reserves of natural gas to build 20 wells and two two wellhead platforms, a project that would have a capacity of 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day, reported A1 Jazeera. Initially, Total SA was supposed to have a 50.1 per cent stake, with CNPC getting 30 per cent and the Iranian firm Petropars getting 19.9 per cent. With Total's withdrawal, CNPC had taken over the French firm's stake. Now, with CNPC exit, Petropars will develop the field alone.

    Turkey to launch a military operation in northern Syria

    October 7, 2019
    Turkey has announced that it is to launch a military operation in northern Syria as the United States will withdraw its troops in the area ahead of the long-planned attack. Turkey will move forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria.  US' withdrawal: The United States Armed Forces will no more support or be involved in the operation. The United States forces have defeated the ISIS territorial Caliphate which will no longer be in the immediate area. U.S.-backed Kurdish militia in northern Syria helped Turkey to retake some of that territory. But Turkey rejected the legitimacy of the Kurdish presence in Syria. Turkey: President: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Vice President: Fuat Oktay Capital: Ankara Currency: Turkish lira (₺) (TRY) Turkey is bordered by : ♦ Greece and Bulgaria to its northwest ♦ Georgia to its northeast ♦ Armenia and Iran to the east ♦ Iraq and Syria to the south

    Pak PM Imran Khan to embark on a 3-day visit to China

    October 7, 2019
    The Free Trade Agreement signed between the two strategic cooperative partners to further enhance bilateral business and trade. They will also examine the abolition of quota for all Pakistani agro products like rice, wheat, corn, soybean, sugar, and tobacco as Pakistan will prove to be a food basket for China. It will be the third visit of Khan to China within a year. He will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed, Minister for Planning Khusro Bakhtiar and Finance Adviser Hafeez Sheikh. Pakistan Capital: Islamabad  Currency: Pakistani rupee Prime minister: Imran Khan

    Shri Dharmendra Pradhan is on a 3 day visit to Mongolia

    October 7, 2019
    Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel Shri Dharmendra Pradhan is on a 3-day visit to Mongolia from 7 October to 9 October 2019. He is accompanied by an official and business delegation. The visit is a follow up of the State visit the President of Mongolia to India in the month of September 2019.  Agenda: ♦ On 8 October 2019, the Minister is to participate in the inaugural ceremony of the Mongol Refinery project. The infrastructure was constructed by Mongolia under the fund provided by India. ♦ He will hold meetings with the Mongolian Minister for Mining and Heavy Industry. The meeting aims to develop the construction of the Refinery.  ♦ He will also discuss the possible areas of collaboration in other sectors like mining, coking coal, and railways.  Mongol Refinery project: The Mongol Refinery project is an Indian funded project. In 2015, PM Modi during his visit to Mongolia extended a line of credit of US $1.236 billion. It was then enhanced during the State visit of the President of Mongolia to India in September 2019. Engineers India Ltd., a PSU under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, is the Project Management Consultant for the development of the oil refinery.

    Scotland becomes the first country in the UK to ban the smacking of children

    October 6, 2019
    Scotland has become the first part of the United Kingdom to ban the smacking of children. The country introduced a law that makes smacking the children a criminal offence for parents and carers to use physical punishment against a child. Aim: The law change is aimed to give children the same protection from assault as adults. This law has brought Scotland into line with United Nations recommendations. Currently, the parents and the carers are allowed to use reasonable physical force in order to discipline children.

    NASA gets it first all electric experimental aircraft

    October 5, 2019
    NASA’s first all-electric experimental aircraft, the X-57’s Mod II, was delivered to the agency by its primary contractor. NASA referred to the delivery as a major milestone. It is expected that the aircraft will allow its engineers to start putting the aircraft through ground tests. It will be the first step in a long journey that will hopefully lead to flight. Aircraft: The X-57’s Mod II, a modified Italian Tecnam P2006T, is powered by an electric propulsion system. It weighs approximately 3,000 pounds. of the total weight, approximately 860 pounds are its lithium-ion batteries. The plane is capable to hit a cruising speed of 172 mph at 8,000 feet. The project has been in development since 2016.

    Uber launched helicopter services in New York

    October 5, 2019
    Uber Technologies Inc (UBER.N) has launched Uber Copter, the helicopter services, in New York. The users will soon be able to book helicopter flights to John F. Kennedy (JFK) International airport through their apps. The flights are operated by HeliFlite Shares, a licensed company. Uber Copter: The company announced its Uber Copter offer on 3 October 2019. It said that the flights to and from Lower Manhattan will become available to all Uber users on October 3. This feature was made available to the Uber premium members in June 2019. The 8-minute flight will cost between $200 and $225 per person. The fare will include ground transportation on either side of the trip. Passengers can bring along a small suitcase with them. They have to watch a safety video, similar to that on an airplane, before takeoff. Initially, Uber rides shuttling passengers to the heliport in Manhattan are only available from the southern tip of the island.

    Walmart to use blockchain technology among the shrimp farmers in Andhra Pradesh

    October 5, 2019
    Walmart unveiled its pilot project using blockchain technology among the shrimp farmers in Andhra Pradesh. The use of blockchain technology to track shrimp exports from India to an overseas retailer is first of its kind. Aim: The technology aims to help seafood farmers in Andhra Pradesh to strengthen the shrimp supply chain. It also reinforces the customer's trust in the product and transforms the food system. It will help to promote India as a preferred source of seafood. The main objective of the technology is to improve the quality of information on the product for compliance purposes and for sharing with consumers. Blockchain technology: ♦ Blockchain technology is a process to digitize data and share information across a complex supply chain network in a secure and trusted manner. ♦ The technology will be used to ensure the traceability of the shrimp. ♦ The technology will help the retailer to trace the shrimp that is sourced from the state to select Sam’s Club locations in the US. ♦ Walmart has worked closely with Andhra Pradesh-based seafood processor Sandhya Aqua and US-based supplier Stanley Pearlman Enterprises to add the shrimp supply chain to the blockchain-enabled IBM Food Trust.

    The US successfully test fired intercontinental ballistic missile

    October 4, 2019
    The US military successfully test-fired an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile on 4th October. The missile was equipped with re-entry vehicles from a base in California across the Pacific Ocean. The missile was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The test aimed to step up efforts in the face of growing threats. The test comes a day after Pyongyang tested ballistic missile as a resumption of nuclear talks with the US. The test demonstrated that the nuclear deterrent of the US is robust, flexible, ready and appropriately tailored to deter 21st-century threats and reassure its allies. The Air Force Global Strike Command said that the re-entry vehicle travelled about 6,750km across the Pacific Ocean to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

    Ecuador to leave OPEC

    October 4, 2019
    Ecuador has announced that it is to leave OPEC, the 14-nation bloc, from 1 January 2020. The move is based on the issues and internal challenges that the country must take on related to fiscal sustainability. Ecuador is one of the smallest members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The country is planning to increase crude production which in turn increases the countries income. On multiple occasions, the country has broken its output quota fixed by OPEC. This measure is in line with Ecuador’s plan to reduce public spending and generate new income. OPEC: The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is an international organization. The headquarters is located in Vienna, Austria. There are 14 member nations in OPEC. Mohammed Barkindo is the Secretary-General of OPEC. It aims to coordinate and unify the petroleum policies of its member countries.

    France launches postage stamp with image of Mahatma Gandhi

    October 4, 2019
    A postage stamp bearing the image of Mahatma Gandhi issued by Franch postal service company La Poste to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of the Mahatma. Indian Embassy partnered LaPoste of #France in launching a postage stamp today with an image of #MahatmaGandhi to commemorate 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi @MEAIndia @PMOIndia @DrSJaishankar @IndAmbFrance @GroupeLaPoste Similar postage stamps are issued in Uzbekistan, Turkey, Palestine and other countries around the globe on Gandhi Jayanti. France: President: Emmanuel Macron Capital: Paris Currency: Euro

    PM Modi jointly inaugurated a metro express and hospital in Mauritius

    October 4, 2019
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mauritian premier Pravind Jugnauth jointly inaugurated a metro express service and an ENT hospital in Mauritius via video on 3 October. The two projects stand as a symbol of New Delhi's strong commitment towards the development of the island nation. ♦ The state-of-the-art ENT hospital aims to serve the people of Mauritius and contribute to quality healthcare. ♦ The metro aims to provide a clean, efficient and time-saving transport service. It is expected that it will contribute to economic activities as also tourism.  Mauritius: President: Barlen Vyapoory Prime Minister: Pravind Jugnauth Capital: Port Louis Currency: Mauritian rupee (MUR)

    North Korea successfully test fired a new type of SLBM

    October 3, 2019
    North Korea successfully test-fired Pukguksong-3, a new type of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) on 2 October. State-run Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said that the new-type ballistic missile was fired in a vertical mode in the waters off the eastern city of Wonsan.  The move comes after a day Pyongyang and Washington agreed to resume nuclear talks.  The launch marks a departure from the tests of shorter-range missiles North Korea has carried out in recent months. The Pukguksong-3 test caused no adverse impact on the security of neighbouring countries. UNSC's ban: Earlier the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed a resolution to ban Pyongyang from using ballistic missile technology. N.Korea said that ballistic missile technology is an infringement of its right to self-defence and tested the new technology SLBM.

    Palestine released a commemorative postage stamp on Mahatma Gandhi

    October 3, 2019
    Palestine has released a commemorative postage stamp on Mahatma Gandhi on 2 October 2019 to mark the 150 birth anniversary of the world leader. It was released by Palestinian Authority's Minister of Telecommunication and Information Technology Ishaaq Seder released the stamp in the presence of Indian Representative P.A. Sunil Kumar at the ceremony in Ramallah, Palestine.  Aim: Palestine's issuance of the commemorative stamp aims to honour Mahatma Gandhi's legacy and values that guided towards humanity. The move by the country symbolized the strong historical, political and cultural relations between India and Palestine. It also recognized Gandhi's significant contribution to human development, stressing that his teachings of peace, freedom, respect, and tolerance. Palestine: President: Mahmoud Abbasb Prime Minister: Mohammad Shtayyeh Administrative center: Ramallah Official languages: Arabic Currency: Egyptian pound (EGP), Israeli new shekel (ILS), Jordanian dinar (JOD)

    S.Korea displayed U.S. made F35 stealth fighter jets

    October 1, 2019
    South Korea displayed some of its newly purchased U.S.-made F-35 stealth fighter jets for the first time. The jets were displayed on the ground at the start of the ceremony during its Armed Forces Day ceremony at an airbase in southeastern South Korea. The development introduced by the country will likely infuriate rival North Korea. S.Korea's plan:  South Korea has announced its plans to buy 40 F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin by 2021 under its biggest-ever weapons purchase. In 2019, the first few batches of the aircraft arrived in the South. North Korea has sharply reacted to the deliveries. N.Korea said that buying of F-35 stealth fighter jets violates recent inter-Korean agreements aimed at lowering military tensions. South Korea: President: Moon Jae-in Prime Minister: Lee Nak-yeon Capital: Seoul Official language: Korean Currency: Korean Republic won (₩) (KRW)

    Pakistan, Turkey and Malaysia to launch a BBC type English channel

    October 1, 2019
    The governments of Pakistan, Turkey, and Malaysia are to launch a BBC type English television channel. The launching of the channel aims to highlight the issues of Muslims and fight Islamophobia in the West. Proposal: The channel was proposed and discussed at a meeting between Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Pakistan premier Imran Khan. The leaders announced the approval at the meeting held on the sidelines of the 74th session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. Projects: Under the joint venture (JV), web series and films will be produced. The objective to spread knowledge on Islamic history. 

    Google dedicated its Doodle to honor Dr. Herbert Kleber

    October 1, 2019
    Google dedicated its Doodle to honor the American psychiatrist and pioneering substance abuse researcher's work Dr. Herbert Kleber on the 23rd anniversary of his election to the National Academy of Medicine. Dr. Herbert Kleber: Dr. Herbert Kleber dedicated his life to treating drug addiction. He spent more than 50 years studying the causes of substance abuse and developing treatments to reduce the effects of withdrawal. His work changed the view of addiction and treated and helped save countless lives. At the beginning of his career, substance abuse wasn't a major focus of research for the medical community. His research in addiction began when he was deployed in Lexington, Kentucky, where his inmates were being treated for addiction. Kleber developed an evidence-based treatment to treat addiction as a medical condition. He founded the Drug Dependence Unit in 1968 at the Yale University School of Psychiatry. He died on 5 October 2018, at the age of 84.  National Academy of Medicine: Formed on: 1970 President: Victor Dzau NAM is an American nonprofit, non-governmental organization. It is a volunteer organization that provides advice on health and medical advice.

    Chinese Communist Party marked the 70th anniversary of its rule

    October 1, 2019
    The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) marked the 70th anniversary of its rule.  Chinese leader Xi Jinping presiding over a massive parade full of new military technology on 1 October. He declared that no force will stop China’s rise.  Events: ♦ The parade marked the triumph of Mao Zedong’s Communists over nationalist forces and the creation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.  ♦ On the day, China displayed new military technologies, including an intercontinental ballistic missile. ♦ On 1st October 1949, the then-leader Mao Zedong announced that the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) following a civil war.  ♦ To invoke Mao's memory, Xi made his speech on the same spot as the former leader's 1949 declaration on 1 October 2019. Mao Zedong: Mao Zedong is the founding father of the People's Republic of China (PRC). Mao came into power in 1949. By then China was devastated after the long civil war and the war with Japan. He ruled as the Chairman of the Communist Party of China until his death in 1976.

    Pakistan to Invite Former PM For Kartarpur Corridor Inauguration

    September 30, 2019
    Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi decided to invite former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh at the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. The Kartarpur corridor inauguration is a big programme and Pakistan is preparing for it in a big way.  India's former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to grace the event. Pakistan will invite former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor, which will facilitate the movement of Indian pilgrims to Darbar Sahib, the final resting place of Guru Nanak in Pakistan. Guru Nanak Guru Nanak the founder of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus. His birth is celebrated worldwide as Guru Nanak Gurpurab on Kartik Pooranmashi, the full-moon day in the month of Katak, October–November. Successor: Guru Angad

    Saudi Arabia looking at investing $100 billion in India

    September 30, 2019
    Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter to invest USD 100 billion in India in areas of petrochemicals, infrastructure and mining. India is an attractive investment destination for Saudi Arabia and it is eyeing long-term partnerships with New Delhi in key sectors such as oil, gas and mining. Saudi Arabia is looking at making investments in India potentially worth USD 100 billion in the areas of energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, minerals and mining. Saudi Arabia’s biggest oil giant Aramco’s proposed partnership with Reliance Industries Ltd reflected the strategic nature of the growing energy ties between the two countries. India’s value chain from oil supply, marketing, refining to petrochemicals and lubricants is a key part of Aramco’s global downstream strategy. Saudi Arabia - Oil Sector Growth Saudi Aramco’s proposed investments in India’s energy sector such as the USD 44 billion West Coast refinery and petrochemical project in Maharashtra and long term partnership with Reliance represent strategic milestones in our bilateral relationship The vision 2030 of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman result in a significant expansion of trade and business between India and Saudi Arabia in diverse sectors. Saudi Arabia plans to diversify the Saudi economy while reducing its economic dependence on petroleum products. Saudi Arabia is a key pillar of India’s energy security, being a source of 17 per cent or more of crude oil and 32 percent of LPG requirements of India. There are 40 opportunities for joint collaboration and investments across various sectors have been identified between India and Saudi Arabia in 2019 adding the current bilateral trade of USD 34 billion will undoubtedly continue to increase. The bilateral energy ties have grown beyond the supply of crude oil, refined products, and LPG to a more comprehensive partnership that focuses on investments and joint ventures in petrochemical complexes and cooperation in exploration. The entire development strategy of the kingdom rests on three pillars - to build a vibrant society, a thriving economy and an ambitious nation. The World Bank ranked the kingdom as the fourth largest reformer within G20. The number of foreign investment licenses granted in Saudi Arabia in the first quarter of 2018 increased by 130 per cent.The envoy also talked about Saudi Arabia’s new residency permit scheme for qualified international expatriates. Saudi Arabia will increase oil supply to India to address the shortfall due to curb on import of oil from Iran, the envoy said his country is committed to India’s energy security and will meet any shortfall that may arise due to disruptions from other sources. The kingdom will continue working constructively with other producers within and outside OPEC to maintain market stability, thus protecting all the interests of producers and consumers OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) is a 14-nation powerful bloc of oil-producing countries.

    PM Modi met PM H.E. Ms. Jacinda Ardern

    September 27, 2019
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the Prime Minister of New Zealand H.E. Ms. Jacinda Ardern in New York on 25th September 2019. The meeting was held on the sidelines of the 74th session of the UNGA meetings. The leaders of the countries have reviewed the state of bilateral relations and discussed steps to intensify political, economic, defence, security and people to people relations.  Previous meetings: In November 2017 in Manila, the PM of New Zealand visited India. In 2016, the former Prime Minister of New Zealand visited and new institutional mechanisms have been instituted. These relationships have substantially enhanced the bilateral relationship. PM Ardern has also accepted the invitation to participate in the event Relevance of Gandhi in the contemporary Times that was held on the sidelines of UNGA on 24 September 2019.

    Saudi Arabia to offer visa for the first time

    September 27, 2019
    Saudi Arabia announced that it will offer tourist visas for the first time. It aims to diversify its economy away from oil. Female tourists are required to wear modest clothing. The announcement comes as a part of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 reform programme. The programme aims to prepare the biggest Arab economy for a post-oil era. The move is after the devastating attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure. This has spurred the global energy markets and raised wider regional conflict. Application and jobs: Upon the announcement, Saudi Arabia will open applications for online tourist visas to citizens of 49 countries on 28 September. By 2030, the country aims to attract up to 100m annual visits by both domestic and foreign tourists. The tourism sector is expected to create up to one million tourism jobs. It will help the country as it battles high youth unemployment.

    Xi Jinping inaugurated Beijing's starfish-shaped futuristic airport

    September 26, 2019
    China unveiled Beijing Daxing International Airport, a futuristic airport, that resembles a giant starfish opened in Beijing. The airport was inaugurated by the Chinese President Xi Jinping.  Beijing Daxing International Airport: Beijing Daxing International Airport is more than 700,000 square meters of land 45 kilometers south of the Chinese capital. The hub was designed by Iraqi-born architect, before her death in 2016. The airport was built in less than five years after starting construction in late 2014. The airport is expected to become the world's biggest airport due to the continued economic rise of the Asian powerhouse. It is located 46 kilometres south of Tiananmen Square. The airport will operate with full capacity in 2040. The airport has eight runways and the potential to receive 100 million passengers per year.

    New Yorks Metropolitan Museum of Art returns the stolen gilded coffin

    September 26, 2019
    New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art returns the gilded coffin stolen in 2011. The return of the coffin was announced by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. The repatriation was attended by the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Hassan Shoukry. About the Coffin: The wooden coffin was covered in gold. It was made in Egypt between approximately 150 and 50 BC. On the coffin, Nedjemankh's name was inscribed. Nedjemankh was a high-ranking first century BC priest. This coffin was  buried in Egypt for more than 2,000 years and it was looted in the year 2011. In 2017, the Metropolitan Museum of Art purchased the coffin for around $4 million. The coffin was kept for view until February 2019. The Manhattan District Attorney's office recovered the gilded Coffin of Nedjemankh.

    IMF names Kristalina Georgieva as new head

    September 26, 2019
    The International Monetary Fund formally selected Kristalina Georgieva of Bulgaria as the second woman ever to lead the 189-member institution. The selection guaranteed after the global crisis lender earlier this month that Georgieva, a former World Bank CEO, was the sole candidate.In acknowledging her selection, Georgieva spoke of tempestuous times for the global economy. It is a huge responsibility to be at the helm of the IMF at a time when global economic growth continues to disappoint, trade tensions persist, and debt is at historically high levels.She inherits the helm of an institution buffeted by the rise of populism in advanced economies and escalating trade conflicts, the largest of which has been driven by the United States, the fund’s single biggest shareholder.Georgieva championed by Paris, overcame a challenge within the divided European Union from Germany which had backed former Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem. The European led the IMF since its creation in the aftermath of World War II while the leader of the fund’s sister organization, the World Bank. International Monetary Fund Headquarters: Washington, D.C., United States Managing Director (MD): David Lipton (Acting) Membership: 189 countries

    AIC to provide Rs.3.32 crore grant to promote stronger ties with India

    September 26, 2019
    The Australia India Council (AIC), an Australian government body, has announced Rs.3.32 crore grant that aims to promote stronger ties with India. The announcement was made by Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne. The grant is provided to 11 new projects in India. AIC will allocate the grant to the Western Sydney University (WSU) and the Australian National University (ANU). These two Universities will be conducting the projects in collaboration with Indian organizations. Aim: AIC aims to build awareness and understanding between the people and institutions of the countries.  Projects: The 11 new projects will include workshops on woman social entrepreneurs and an innovative programme on school children.  WSU's project: WSU will conduct a series of workshops for the Australian and Indian women social entrepreneurs on innovative and sustainable social business models.  ANU's project: ANU will conduct the Young Persons' Plan for the Planet programme. The programme aims to educate, connect and empower school students to collaborate internationally to deliver the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. Australia India Council (AIC): AIC was established on 21 May 1992. It aims to advance Australia's foreign and trade policy interests by building awareness and understanding between the people and institutions of Australia and India.

    UAV Turbines successfully tested its microturbine engine drone

    September 25, 2019
    UAV Turbines announced that the company has successfully completed the inaugural flight of its Monarch 5 engine. The first-of-its-kind microturbine propulsion system is essentially a tiny version of the plane engine.  Monarch 5 engine: The small-to-medium-sized drone is powered by a turbine engine. It is engineered to provide mid-sized commercial and military unmanned air vehicles (UAV) with an efficient, reliable, safe, heavy-fuel propulsion system. It is expected that it can be used for medicine drops, cargo delivery, and search-and-rescue. UAV Turbines: UAV Turbines, Inc. is Florida based privately owned company. The company is focused on the research, design, and development of microturbine engines for power and propulsion. In 2018, the Company partnered with the U.S. Military to develop a more efficient propulsion system, a necessary component to the success and advancement of UAVs. CEO of the company: Kirk Warshaw Vice-Chairman: Arnold Kling

    Odisha CyCa OncoSolutions awarded at startup meet in China

    September 24, 2019
    CyCa OncoSolutions, founded by Dr Nusrat Sanghamitra, won the third prize at the She Loves Tech Global Startup Competition 2019 held in Beijing. The startup has developed a path-breaking cancer drug delivery device. CyCa OncoSolutions CyCa OncoSolutions hailed as a breakthrough in cancer treatment. It started operations from KIIT-TBI Bhubaneswar, and recently moved to NCL Innovation Park, Pune. It also has an Irish branch, which operates from University College, Cork.The startup developed an efficient, non-toxic invitro and in vivo delivery method to combat cancer. It works through a nano-technology driven molecular drilling device and directly delivers anti-cancer medicines to the affected cells. It is expected to cause very little harm to the unaffected cells and display fewer side effects.  Dr Nusrat determined to find a better anti-cancer drug with fewer side effects. She eventually shifted her research to protein engineering, biophysics, and cell biology, and ventured into entrepreneurship. The startup previously won the first prize at the She Loves Tech India meet organized by KSUM in Kochi last month.  The startups from Germany and the US bagged the first and second prizes respectively at the summit total of 15 women-led enterprises from around the world for the final round.

    Sixty Six Countries Committed To Net Zero CO2 Emissions By 2050

    September 24, 2019
    Sixty-six countries signaled their intent to achieve net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050  The 66 governments are joined by 10 regions, 102 cities, 93 businesses and 12 investors all committed to net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 Around 60 world leaders have convened for the UN Climate Action Summit in New York. The UN estimates that the world needs to increase its current efforts five-fold to contain climate change to the levels dictated by science a rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius by the year 2100 to avoid escalating climate damage. Countries announced commitments to carbon reduction targets under the Paris Agreement of 2015, and are now expected to update their nationally determined contributions by 2020.

    Russia announced that it is to implement 2015 Paris Agreement

    September 24, 2019
    Russia announced that it is to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement to fight climate change. The announcement comes after the approval of a government resolution by the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev that signifies Moscow’s final acceptance of the deal. Resolution: ♦ The resolution also said that Russia would not technically ratify the accord.  ♦ Russia would adapt the accord to existing legal norms. ♦ The country will now allocate financial resources to the developing countries for the prevention of and adaptation to climate change. Russia: Russia is the world’s fourth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Also, Russia is the biggest emitter not to have ratified the landmark global climate deal.  Russia is one of the world's key energy producers and has remained one of the largest economies and polluters. It has earlier signed but failed to ratify the accord.

    New leadership group launched at UN Climate Action Summit to drive industry transition to low carbon economy

    September 24, 2019
    The UN Climate Action Summit launched a new initiative on 23rd September to help guide the world’s heaviest greenhouse gas emitting industries toward the low-carbon economy. Under the initiative, a new leadership group has been announced. It is expected the initiative will facilitate early diffusion of technology and support developing countries to transit to a low-carbon economy. Industry sector emissions are responsible for 15.7Gt by 2050.  It is necessary to drive industry including steel, cement, aluminum, aviation and shipping to transit to a low-carbon economy. Leadership group members: The leadership group includes India and Sweden together with Argentina, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, South Korea and the UK and also a group of companies including Dalmia Cement, DSM, Heathrow Airport, LKAB, Mahindra Group, Royal Schiphol Group, Scania, SpiceJet, SSAB, ThyssenKrupp and Vattenfall form the Leadership Group for Industry Transition. The group will drive transformation in hard-to-decarbonize and energy-intensive sectors.  Supported by: The global initiative will be supported by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Energy Transitions Commission, Mission Innovation, Stockholm Environment Institute, and the European Climate Foundation among many others in an ambitious, public-private effort. The initiative will ensure heavy industries and mobility companies can find a workable pathway to deliver on the Paris Agreement.

    Israel cuts off power to parts of West Bank

    September 23, 2019
    Israel cut off power to some parts of occupied West Bank. The national electricity company of Israel announced on September 22, 2019, cut off power to some parts of West Bank due to outstanding payments. The outstanding electricity payments from the region amount to almost US$483 million. The power distributor is based in east Jerusalem.The company decided to reduce the electric current in some areas of the West Bank from September 23.There is no alternative other than this to get the money that was owed. The energy authority head Zafer Melhem stated that the Israeli government is seeking to put pressure on the Palestinian government to accept an agreement.The Palestinian Authority claimed that it has repaid debts worth nearly USD 100 million in the past two months.  The Palestinian health ministry further warned that the powers cuts could affect hospitals and medical centres.  West Bank The West Bank is a landlocked territory, which is bordered by Jordan to the east and the Green Line separating it and Israel in the north, south and west.The name ‘West Bank’ was given to the territory captured by Jordan after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. The territory was occupied by Israel during the six-day war in 1967. The Oslo accords created administrative districts with varying levels of Palestinian autonomy within each area. Israel took an extreme step with respect to the West Bank. Israel decided to build a wall to separate Palestinians in the West Bank from Israel, its settlements inside West Bank and East Jerusalem.

    Thomas Cook 178-year-old travel firm collapses

    September 23, 2019
    Thomas Cook, the world’s oldest travel company got placed thousands of jobs around the world at risk. The collapse of the British travel giant has also left thousands of travelers stranded across Europe. The last-ever Thomas Cook flight landed at the Manchester Airport. The 178-year-old travel company collapsed on September 23, 2019 after last-minute talks with the creditors to bail out the firm from its debt failed.The British Government was forced to hire chartered planes to bring back the travel company’s stranded customers from across the globe, in the largest peacetime repatriation effort in British history. Thomas Cook - History Thomas Cook is one of the world’s best and oldest travel companies, which was founded in 1841 by cabinet-maker Thomas Cook in Leicestershire, England. The Thomas Cook Group included Thomas Cook airlines, which served leisure destinations across the world from its base at Manchester Airport and Gatwick Airport on a scheduled and charter basis. The airlines also operated services from eight other bases around the United Kingdom. The Thomas Cook UK Plc and all associated UK entities entered into compulsory liquidation on September 23 and are now under the control of the Official Receiver due to failure in repayment of large amounts of debt. The travel giant ran hotels, resorts and airlines for 19 million people a year across 16 countries. They left almost 600,000 people stranded abroad, forcing governments to coordinate a huge rescue operation, the largest peacetime rescue effort.

    India and US committed to work to fight radical Islamic terrorism

    September 23, 2019
    PM Narendra Modi addressed Indian-Americans at the Howdy, Modi event along with Donald Trump in Houston on 22 September. This is the first time that Trump and Modi shared a stage together and addressed a record crowd of 50,000 Indian-Americans. US President Donald Trump announced that India and US are working together to fight radical Islamic terrorism. Both countries are committed to protecting innocent civilians from the threat of radical Islamic terrorism. US and India: The US reassured its commitments with India. US is working with India to enhance space cooperation between the two countries. In the month of November, the US and India is to demonstrate tremendous progress of the defence relationship by holding the first-ever tri-service military exercise between the two nations called Tiger Triumph. Howdy Modi event: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed close to 50,000 Indian-Americans at the Howdy, Modi! event in Houston, Texas. It was held in NRG Football Stadium in Houston. This event addressed the largest gathering ever for an elected foreign leader visiting the United States. While addressing. PM Modi spoke about the relationship between the US and India and Article 370.

    India to leverage its Strategic Energy Partnership with USA

    September 21, 2019
    India and USA plan to further strengthen their Strategic Energy Partnership launched in New Delhi in It includes larger energy imports from the US by the world’s third-largest oil importer state-run firms such as Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOCL). Petronet LNG Ltd may ink a deal with US liquefied natural gas (LNG) developer Tellurian Inc for around $2 billion in the proposed Driftwood project in Louisiana. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visit to the energy resource rich country where he will be addressing an energy round table in Houston China and India. Indian Oil Corporation  It is the country’s largest refiner inked two-term contracts totalling 4.6 million tonnes (mt) of USA crude oil for 2019-20 from Norway’s Equinor ASA and Algeria’s state energy company Sonatrach. India is sourcing liquified natural gas and oil from the USA with Indian firms investing $4 billion in US shale gas assets.

    US sanctions Iran's central bank in highest ever sanctions on a nation

    September 21, 2019
    US President Donald Trump announced a new round of sanctions against Iran's central bank, calling the new penalties the highest sanctions ever imposed on a country. His remarks came days after he ordered to substantially increase sanctions on Iran. The sanctions come after the US blamed Iran for the drone attacks on two Saudi oil facilities last week. The latest sanctions action against Tehran affected the last source of funds for Iran.The action comes after Washington accused Iran for the weekend attacks on Saudi oil refineries.  He ordered the Treasury Department to substantially increase sanctions on the country. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blasted the new round of sanctions. Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi that the sanctions against Iran's Central Bank are nothing new, but same old bans in a different form. The US to accept that the policy of sanctions is a failed one.

    Trump appoints OBrien as next national security adviser

    September 20, 2019
    US President Donald Trump has appointed Robert O'Brien as the new national security adviser. He will replace John Bolton. He will Mr.Trump's fourth national security adviser. He currently heads hostage negotiations at the State Department. It is believed that Mr.O'Brien is the highest-ranking Mormon member of the Trump administration. Robert O'Brien: Robert O'Brien has a long career in foreign policy working for both main US parties. The trained lawyer has served in various government roles. When he served as a special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, he has worked with families of US hostages and advises on related issues, including recovery policies. He was appointed to serve as a representative to the UN General Assembly in 2005. He has also served for the former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton.

    New York Becomes Second US State To Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes

    September 18, 2019
    New York became the second US state to ban flavored e-cigarettes. following several vaping-linked deaths that have raised fears about a product long promoted as less harmful than smoking. The health council passed emergency legislation proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo outlawing flavored vaping products amid an outbreak of severe pulmonary disease that has killed seven people and sickened hundreds. The ban comes into force with immediate effect. Michigan became the first state to declare a ban earlier this month, but that law has yet to be implemented. President Donald Trump's administration announced last week that it would soon ban flavored e-cigarette products to stem a rising tide of youth users. The move could later be extended to an outright prohibition of vaping if adolescents migrate to tobacco flavors, seen as more legitimate products that help smokers quit their habit, said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). New York have two weeks to remove vaping products from their shelves. The ban does not prohibit menthol or tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes.E-cigarettes have been available in the US since 2006 used as an aid to quit smoking traditional tobacco products like cigarettes.Their use among adolescents skyrocketed in recent years: some 3.6 million middle and high school students used vaping products in 2018.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently that there were now more than 450 possible cases of pulmonary illness associated with vaping in the US.The CDC cautioned against vaping as officials investigate the precise cause of the deaths. No single substance has been found to be present in all the laboratory samples being examined. New York's health department found very high levels of vitamin E oil in cannabis cartridges used by dozens of people in the state who had fallen ill after using e-cigarettes. Vitamin E is a commonly used nutritional supplement but is dangerous when inhaled.San Francisco, the home of market leader Juul Labs, became the first American city to ban e-cigarettes in June last year.  

    Ozone hole could be smallest in three decades

    September 17, 2019
    The ozone hole over Antarctica one of the smallest seen in three decades. The gas's depletion high in the atmosphere demonstrates that it hasn't opened up in 2019. The EU's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) currently well under half the area usually seen in mid-September. The UK is projecting stable levels of ozone or a modest increase in the coming days. China confirmed as source of rise in CFCs Ozone: The Earth's protective shield is repairing . Ozone Ozone is a molecule that is composed of three oxygen atoms. It is responsible for filtering out harmful ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. The gas is constantly being made and destroyed in the stratosphere, about 20-30km above the Earth. The cycle of production and decomposition is in equilibrium. But chlorine and bromine-containing chemicals released by human activity have unbalanced the process, resulting in a loss of ozone that is at its greatest in the Antarctic spring in September/October. Montreal Protocol The Montreal Protocol signed by governments in 1987 sought to recover the situation by banning the production and use of the most damaging chemicals. This past week has seen the area of deep thinning cover just over five million square km. This time last year it was beyond 20 million square km, although in 2017, it was just above 10 million sq km. In other words. The conditions for thinning occur annually just as the Antarctic emerges from Winter. The reactions that work to destroy ozone in the cold stratosphere are initiated by the return of sunshine at high latitudes. Scientists say that while losses started earlier than normal this year, they were truncated by a sudden warming event that lifted temperatures in the stratosphere by 20-30 degrees. Richard Engelen is the deputy head at CAMS.The World Meteorological Organization-sponsored 2018 Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion a recovery of the ozone layer to pre-1970 levels could be expected around 2060.  

    Iran dismisses US accusations it was behind drone attacks on Saudi oil installations

    September 16, 2019
    Iran dismissed US accusations behind the attacks on Saudi oil installations. The United States of America seeking a pretext to retaliate against the Islamic republic.  The Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi gave such fruitless and blind accusations are incomprehensible and meaningless. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned Iran. Yemen's Iran-aligned Shiite Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the drone strikes, but Pompeo said, there is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen. The US allegations over the pre-dawn strikes on Abqaiq and Khurais in Eastern Province were meant to justify actions against Iran.  Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since May last year when President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 deal that promised Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.  USA - Iran The Tensions between the US and Iran have escalated since May last year.The withdrawal, the US  has slapped crippling sanctions on Iran as part of a campaign of maximum pressure. The US and its clients are stuck in Yemen because of illusion that weapon superiority will lead to military victory. The USA, Saudi Arabia leading since March 2015 a military coalition fighting the Houthis in support of Yemen's internationally recognised government.The war killed tens of thousands of people, thrust millions to the brink of famine and spawned the world's most devastating humanitarian crisis. Human rights groups have criticised the Saudi-led coalition for targeting civilians at hospitals, schools and markets, while also condemning Western countries for providing it with arms. In April, US President Donald Trump vetoed a bipartisan resolution that would have forced the US military to end its support to the coalition forces.  

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