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Last Updated: January 25, 2020 2 days ago

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  • EU leaders signed UK withdrawal deal

    2 days ago
    The heads of the European Commission and Council, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, signed the Withdrawal Agreement of the UK. The move comes ahead of the UK's exit from the EU on 31 January 2020. Brexit ended 46 years of run in the European Union club. Queen Elizabeth II gave her assent to the Brexit on 23 January. It was also signed by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on 25 January.  After its exit, the country has agreed to abide by EU rules during a transition period until the end of 2020. By 2021 the UK aims to have agreed to a deal on future ties. With its exit, the UK will be able to strike trade deals with other countries in the future.

    First Mahatma Gandhi International Convention Centre was established in Africa

    3 days ago
    The first convention centre was established in Africa by India to honour the memory of Mahatma Gandhi. The Centre was jointly inaugurated by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou. Mr.Jaishankar is on his state visit to the West African country, Niger. He is the first Indian Foreign Minister to visit the West African country. Mahatma Gandhi International Convention Centre (MGICC): ♦ The establishment of the Mahatma Gandhi International Convention Centre (MGICC) proves the relationship between India and Niger, as also a symbol of India's firm commitment towards Africa. ♦ The first centre was established in the memory of Mahatma Gandhi whose 150th Birth Anniversary was observed in 2019.  ♦ MGICC was designed as a modern and eco-friendly facility. It includes a 2,000 capacity Plenary Hall.  ♦ The Centre will witness high-level and wide-ranging participation from African Union member states and other high-level conventions.  Highlights of EAM's visit: ♦ During his visit, Mr. Jaishankar met Prime Minister Brigi Rafini during his visit.  ♦ The two leaders discussed bilateral ties.  ♦ He met his counterpart of Niger, Kalla Ankourao and held discussions on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues.  ♦ The bilateral relations between India and Niger have expanded significantly in recent years. India has provided Lines of Credit (LoC) to Niger for projects in transport, solar energy, electrification, and potable drinking water.

    The US has passed new visa rules aimed to restrict birth tourism

    3 days ago
    The US has passed new visa rules aimed to restrict birth tourism, in which women travel to the United States to give birth so their children could have the US passport. New Rules: According to the rules in the Federal Register, applicants will be denied tourist visas if they are determined by consular officers to be coming to the US primarily to give birth.  People with medical needs will be treated like other foreigners coming to the US for medical treatment. The travellers must prove they have the money to pay for the treatment including transportation and living expenses.

    Guyana took over the G77 chairmanship from Palestine

    4 days ago
    Guyana under Ambassador Rudolph Ten-Pow took over the chairmanship of G77. It assumed the chairmanship of the Group from the State of Palestine. In 2020, Group of 77 will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.  Group of 77: ♦ The Group of 77 (G77) is the largest intergovernmental organization of developing countries in the United Nations.  ♦ India is a member of the G77. ♦ G77 was established by 77 developing countries in 1964. It is located in Geneva. The group aims to provide the means for the countries of the South to articulate. It ensures to promote the collective economic interests and enhance the joint negotiating capacity on all major economic issues within the UN system. It also promotes South-South cooperation for development. G77 has played a pivotal role in shaping priorities and driving change on many challenges. Guyana: President: David A. Granger Prime Minister: Moses V. Nagamootoo Capital: Georgetown Currency: Guyanese dollar (GYD) Guyana is bordered by: ♦ The Atlantic Ocean to the north ♦ Brazil to the south and southwest ♦ Venezuela to the west ♦ Suriname to the east

    China and Myanmar signed 33 agreement to accelerate BRI

    7 days ago
    China and Myanmar signed 33 deals on 18 January 2020. The agreements aimed to speed up key infrastructure projects to provide China a stepping stone to the Indian Ocean. The agreement was signed after a meeting between President Xi Jinping and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. Suu Kyi was on a two-day visit to China. He held talks with Xi on the final day of his two-day visit. Agreements: ♦ The agreements covered areas such as politics, investment, trade, and people-to-people communications for China's flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). ♦ Myanmar agreed to promote the building of the Myanmar-China Economic Corridor. ♦ The agreement also aimed to enhance cooperation in transport, energy, production capacity, humanitarian and cultural exchanges, border areas and regional affairs. ♦ The agreements focused on implementing the China Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) which is akin to the $60 billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) under which China looks to access Pakistan's Gwadar port in the Arabian sea.  ♦ Also, the giant connectivity project CMEC will link landlocked southwestern China to the Indian Ocean.  ♦ The agreement included a concession and shareholders agreement on the $1.3 billion Kyaukhphyu deep-sea port and economic zone.  ♦ The Kyaukhphyu projects concern India as it provides a stepping stone for China to the Indian Ocean. Myanmar: President: Win Myint State Counsellor: Aung San Suu Kyi Currency: Kyat (K) (MMK) Capital: Naypyidaw

    Russia urges Iran and US to wind down tensions

    8 days ago
    Russia's acting Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged Iran and United States to wind down tensions after Iranian forces accidentally downed a Ukrainian passenger jet. The tragedy was a severe red flag and a signal that everyone should start working on de-escalation. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has defended the country's armed forces after it admitted shooting down the plane by mistake. He claimed that Iran's enemies used the collision and the military's admission to weaken the Revolutionary Guard. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said that Ukraine wants Iran to issue a formal document admitting its guilt. The Ukraine International Airlines Boeing was traveling to Kyiv from Tehran on 8 January and crashed shortly after take-off. All 176 passengers on board were killed.

    Russia S-400 missiles air defence systems to be delivered to India by 2025

    9 days ago
    Russia started production of S-400 long-range surface-to-air missile systems for India. The five units will be delivered to India by 2025.  S-400 air defence missile systems The S-400 air defence missile systems are among the best in the world. This will significantly bolster India's air defence mechanism. In October 2018, India signed a USD 5 billion deal to buy the air defence missile systems.The S-400, an upgraded version of the S-300 previously been available to the Russian defence forces. It is manufactured by Almaz-Antey and has been in service in Russia since 2007.The Triumf interceptor-based missile system can destroy incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and even drones at ranges of up to 400 km. S-400 is known as Russia most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system.The US imposed sanctions on Russia under the stringent Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). The law also provides for punitive action against countries purchasing defence hardware from Russia. India and Russia finalised a broad agreement for the joint venture between Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and two Russian defence majors for production of Kamov helicopters.

    China posts weakest growth in 29 years as trade war with US bites

    9 days ago
    China's economic growth slowed to its weakest for 30 years in 2019. A trade war with the United States and sputtering investment and more stimulus steps are expected this year to help avert a sharper slowdown. The Fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) rose 6.0% from a year earlier, data from the National Bureau of Statistics with expectations and steady from the pace in the third quarter. The left full-year growth at 6.1%. The slowest rate of expansion in China since 1990.  China Economic Growth The signs of improvement in the ailing manufacturing sector and a newly signed Sino-U.S. trade deal helped revive business confidence analysts are not sure if the gains can be sustained. This year is crucial for the ruling Communist Party to fulfill its goal of doubling GDP and incomes in the decade to 2020, turning China into a moderately prosperous nation. Beijing plans to set a lower economic growth target of around 6% this year from last year's 6-6.5% relying on increased infrastructure spending to ward off a sharper slowdown. The economy grew 1.5% in October-December from the previous three months. The real estate investment rose 9.9% in 2019 from a year earlier, slowing slightly from a 10.2% gain in the first 11 months of the year. Beijing has been relying on a mix of fiscal and monetary steps to weather the current downturn, cutting taxes and allowing local governments to sell vast amounts of bonds to fund infrastructure projects. The Banks encouraged to lend more, especially to small firms, with new yuan loans hitting a record of 16.81 trillion yuan ($2.44 trillion) in 2019. The economy slow to respond, and investment growth has slid to record lows.

    Brazil to open new Antarctic research base

    11 days ago
    Brazil has announced that it is to open a new research base in Antarctica. Brazil's original scientific outpost was destroyed by fire 8 years ago. It is expected that Vice President Hamilton Mourao and Science and Technology Minister Marcos Pontes will attend the official opening ceremony. Brazil's Antarctic research base: ♦ The Brazilian government has invested nearly $100 million in the reconstruction of the Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station. ♦ It is a 48,500-square-foot complex on King George Island, the largest in the South Shetland archipelago. ♦ The base was built on the site of the previous facility, Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station, King George Island, Antarctica ♦ The new center was built by Chinese state-owned company CEIEC ♦ The new base consists of 17 laboratories and accommodation for 64 people. Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station: Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station was established in 1984. The base is used for research into biology, chemistry, meteorology, and medicine. It was largely razed in a 2012 fire caused by a fuel leak. The members of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, around 30 countries, operate research bases in Antarctica. The aim of the treaty is to reduce the likelihood of confrontations over territorial disputes in Antarctica. Brazil joined the treaty in 1975.

    EU triggered dispute mechanism on Iran Nuclear deal

    11 days ago
    European Countries namely Britain, France, and Germany pressured Iran to stop its violations of the nuclear deal. The EU countries stressed to resolve differences through talks on the United Nations sanctions. The three countries rejected Iran's justification for violating the deal because the U.S. broke the agreement by withdrawing in 2018. EU has charged Iran over transgressions that could ultimately lead to the reimposition of UN sanctions and triggered the deal's dispute mechanism. Iran nuclear deal: ♦ Iran nuclear deal is also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ♦ In 2015, Iran agreed on a long-term deal on its nuclear program with the P5+1 group of world powers - the US, UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany. ♦ Under the deal, Iran accepted a 10-year restriction on nuclear production. ♦ As of May 2018, Iran abided by the nuclear deal. ♦ On 8 May 2018, the United States President Donald Trump announced the US' withdrawal from the deal. ♦ Despite the US's withdrawal, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Russia, and China attempted to maintain the nuclear deal.

    Dhaka International Film Festival began in Bangladesh

    13 days ago
    The 18th edition of the Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF) began on 11 January 2020. The festival will be held from 11-19 January. The program was inaugurated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. AK Abdul Momen. The for the DIFF festival is Better Film, Better Audience, and Better Society. 18th DIFF: ♦ DIFF aims to create a better understanding of the films of the world in an atmosphere that appreciates film culture.  ♦ The festival focuses to move towards excellence in the motion picture art and industry in Bangladesh. ♦ During the journalists, critics, festivals, film-makers, officials from embassies of different countries, and members of various film societies will share their experiences with film enthusiasts, journalists, and young film-makers.  Dhaka International Film Festival: Rainbow Film Society is being organized the Dhaka International Film Festival since 1992.

    China reported the first case from new Coronavirus

    15 days ago
    Chinese health authorities reported that a new virus implicated in a pneumonia outbreak was identified in the city of Wuhan, China. The researchers discovered that the new strain of the virus is that of the coronavirus. Coronavirus: Coronaviruses infects the respiratory tract.  Symptoms: The virus shows symptoms like runny nose, cough, sore throat, and fever. There are six coronaviruses that can infect humans, including the viruses that cause Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Previous Outbreaks: In 2002-03, Coronavirus killed more than 700 people in the world. The virus originated in China. There is no specific vaccine for the virus as of 2019. The virus was first identified in Saudi Arabia, in 2012. Most cases were found in the Arabian peninsula.

    Pedro Sanchez top be the Prime Minister of Spain

    19 days ago
    Spain's Parliament confirmed Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez as Prime Minister of the country on 7 January 2020. He will hold the office for another term at the helm of the country's first-ever coalition government since its return to democracy in the 1970s. Pedro Sanchez: Mr. Sanchez won 167 votes in the 350-seat Assembly compared to 165 votes against Catalan and Basque separatist MPs. He is planning to form a minority coalition government with hard-left party Podemos. This will be the first coalition government in Spain since the country returned to democracy following the death of longtime dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

    Zoran Milanovic won Croatias presidential election

    20 days ago
    Zoran Milanovic won Croatia's presidential election. He Croatia's center-left former prime minister. He defeated center-right incumbent Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic in a second-round vote. The presidential election was held on 22 December 2019. He belongs to the Social Democrats (SDP). Milanovic won 52.7% of the vote and Grabar-Kitarovic of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) won 47.3%. Croatia: Prime Minister: Andrej Plenkovic Capital city: Zagreb Official languages: Croatian Currency: Kuna (HRK) It shares border with: ♦ Slovenia to the northwest ♦ Hungary to the northeast ♦ Serbia to the east ♦ Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro to the southeast

    Iran fully withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal

    20 days ago
    Iran has announced its total withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which is commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. The exit of Iran comes after the U.S. targeted strike that killed Iran's Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq on 3 January 2020. Iran announced that it will no longer commit to any limits on the level of uranium enrichment, a stockpile of nuclear fuel and also nuclear research and development. Iran nuclear deal: Iran agreed to a long-term deal on its nuclear programme with the P5+1 group of world powers in 2015. 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. As of May 2018, there was a broad consensus that Iran has abided by the agreement. The United States President Donald Trump announced the United States was withdrawing from the deal on 8 May 2018. Even after the US's withdrawal, the European Union, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Russia, and China attempted to maintain the nuclear deal.

    Union Government strongly condemned vandalism at Nankana Sahib Gurudwara in Pakistan

    23 days ago
    India strongly condemned vandalism at Nankana Sahib Gurudwara in Pakistan. The Pakistan Government to take immediate steps to ensure the safety, security, and welfare of the members of the Sikh community. The New Delhi is concerned with the vandalism carried out at the Nankana Sahib Gurdwara. Sikh community The members of the minority Sikh community subjected to act of violence in the holy city of Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. The intense action was taken against the miscreants who indulged in the desecration of the holy Gurudwara and attacked members of the minority Sikh community. India asked Pakistan to take all measures to protect and preserve the sanctity of the holy Nankana Sahib Gurudwara and its surroundings.

    US sends 3,000 more army troops to Middle East

    23 days ago
    The United States of America around 3,000 army troops to the Middle East killing of Iranian Commander Qasem Soleimani ordered by President Donald Trump. They are in addition to about 700 soldiers who were deployed in Kuwait earlier this week after the storming of the United States Embassy compound in Baghdad. Donald Trump administration sent 14,000 additional troops to the Mideast since May when it first publicly claimed Iran is planning attacks on US interests. The escalation in the conflict between Washington and Iran. The execution of Iranian Commander Qasem Soleimani by US military aimed to stop a war and not to start a war. The Qassem was plotting attacks on US diplomats and military personnel. United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the strike as wholly lawful that Soleimani posed an imminent threat against the United States and its interests in the region. Pompeo called world leaders to explain and defend Trump’s decision to order the airstrike. The United States and Iran have faced repeated crises since Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and imposed crippling sanctions. The United States urged its citizens to leave Iraq immediately as fears mounted that the strike and any retaliation by Iran could ignite a conflict that engulfs the region.

    Iran names Esmail Qaani new Quds chief of IRGC

    23 days ago
    Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei named as the Deputy Head of the Revolutionary Guards foreign operations arm Esmail Qaani to replace Qasem Soleimani as its commander. Soleimani killed in a pre-dawn US strike in Baghdad.  Qasem Suleimani  Qasem Suleimani regarded as the second most powerful figure in Iran after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei killed in an overnight attack by the US. Top Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an adviser to Soleimani killed in the attack. The Qaani was one of the most decorated commanders of the Guards during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. The orders for the force remain precisely as they were during the leadership of Soleimani. The members of the force to cooperate with General Qaani.

    Year 2020 Designated as Year of Nurse and Midwife

    24 days ago
    World Health Organization (WHO) designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife to honor the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale. The World Health Organization (WHO) is the collaborating partner in the three-year Nursing Now Campaign (2018–2020).  Aim of Campaign The main objective is to improve health globally by raising the status and profile of nursing, demonstrating achieved by a strengthened nursing profession, and enabling nurses to maximize their contribution to achieving Universal Health Coverage. WHO Organisation The development of the first-ever State of the World’s Nursing report launched in 2020. This report describes the nursing workforce in the WHO Member States, providing an assessment of fitness for purpose. The country-level dissemination and policy dialogue around the State of the World’s Nursing report. Sustainable Development Goal 5 contributing to economic development (SDG8) and supporting other SDGs. Nurses and midwives play a vital role in providing health services and key contributors to the achievement of Universal Health Coverage. Midwives are unique professionals who provide specialist nursing care and stand at the forefront of providing primary care for women and their babies. These academic centers are affiliated to the Global Network of WHO and set out four broad themes to guide the contributions of the nursing and midwifery workforce to improve global health.    Optimizing policy development, effective leadership, management, and governance. The capacities and potential of nurses and midwives through professional collaborative partnerships, education and continuing professional development; and mobilizing political will to invest in building practical, evidence-based nursing and midwifery workforce development. The 20 million nurses around the world will be thrilled to see their profession recognised. The International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife will provide us with a new, 2020 vision of what nursing is in the modern era, and how nurses can light the way to Universal Health Coverage and healthcare. Investing in nurses and midwives is a good value for money. The investments in education and job creation in the health and social sectors result in improved health outcomes, global health security, and inclusive economic growth. The Year 2020 is all set for Nursing and Midwifery. It will raise the profile of nursing, investing in recruitment and retention, removing the barriers to the development of advanced nursing roles, proving highly effective at expanding global healthcare coverage.

    Hillary Clinton appointed as new chancellor of Queen's University Belfast in Ireland

    24 days ago
    Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed as the new chancellor of Queen's University in Belfast, Ireland. Clinton who is a regular visitor to Northern Ireland back to the first visit of President Bill Clinton in 1995, becomes the university's first female chancellor. She will serve as chancellor for a five-year term. The position of chancellor vacant since the death in 2018 of Thomas J Moran, chairman, president, and chief executive of Mutual of America Life Insurance Company.

    Nepal's President launches Visit Nepal Year 2020 campaign

    24 days ago
    President of Nepal Bidya Devi Bhandari launched Visit Nepal Year 2020 campaign amidst a spectacular ceremony held at historic Dasaratha Rangashala in Kathmandu. Chief Justice, National Assembly Chairman, former Prime Ministers and political party leaders from Nepal and dignitaries from various countries including India's Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism and Culture, Prahlad Singh Patel graced the occasion.  The ambitious campaign aims to promote tourism in Nepal and attract 2 million tourists during the year 2020. The government a goal of making tourism one of the critical pillars of the Nepali economy. Nepal Year 2020 will create a new image of Nepal in the hearts and minds of the world community.  India's Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism and Culture, Prahlad said India and Nepal age-old cultural and social ties. The participation and enthusiasm among youths will make the campaign successful. Visit Nepal 2020 campaign launched in all the seven provinces of Nepal. During the campaign, a large number of the program will be organized in various parts of Nepal throughout the year.

    Pakistan officially shares list of nuclear installations with India

    25 days ago
    Pakistan shared a list of its nuclear installations with India under a bilateral agreement. The list handed over to an Indian High Commission official in accordance with Article-II of the Agreement on Prohibition of Attacks against Nuclear Installations and Facilities between Pakistan and India. The list of nuclear installations and facilities in Pakistan officially handed over to a representative of the Indian High Commission at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi handed over the list of Indian nuclear installations and facilities to a representative of the Pakistan High Commission at 1100 AM (IST). The agreement contains the provision that both countries inform each other of their nuclear installations and facilities on the 1st of January every year. This is being done consecutively since January 1, 1992.

    China to issue GDP figures under new mechanism from 2020

    28 days ago
    China will revise its regional GDP data under a unified accounting mechanism. The Chinese economy grew at an annual pace of 6.0 percent in the July-September quarter, the slowest growth since 1992. National Bureau of Statistics The National Bureau of Statistics new mechanism unifies the standards and procedures for calculating national and local GDP numbers calculated under different accounting methods adopted by local and national statistics authorities since 1985. The reform is expected to close the current discrepancy between national and regional figures improving data quality while enhancing the credibility of the government statistics. It is the deputy-cabinet level agency directly under the State Council of the People's Republic of China. Founded: 7 August 1952

    UN gives green light to draft treaty to combat cybercrime

    30 days ago
    UN General Assembly approved it will start the process of drafting a new international treaty to combat cybercrime over objections from the European Union, the United States, and other countries. Russian-drafted resolution was approved by the 193-member world body by a vote of 79-60 with 33 abstentions. The resolution establishes an expert committee representing all regions of the world to elaborate a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes. There is no consensus among member states on the need or value of drafting a new treaty. Russia's representative underscored that the resolution requires that the new committee must take into account the results of the work of the expert group on cybercrime, expected next year, which Moscow supports. The substantive work on the new convention will begin in 2021. UN General Assembly United Nations General Assembly is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations. Headquarters: New York

    China liberalizing financial system scraps benchmark lending rate

    30 days ago
    China’s central bank ordered to adopt a new loan-pricing regime for all credit from next year, marking an end to the previous benchmark and another a step toward liberalizing the financial system. The financial institutions should stop using the old lending rate as the pricing reference for all credit from January. The one-year lending rate provided the previous anchor for loans across the economy. The move could lower costs for some of the 152 trillion yuan ($21.7 trillion) in yuan-denominated outstanding loans held by financial institutions and boost economic growth, even though it won’t involve a straightforward cut to interest rates. Revamped Rate - Central Bank  The new loans based on the interest rate for one-year loans that 18 banks offer their best customers. The Banks submit the quoted price each month in the form of a spread over the rate of the PBOC’s medium-term loans. The new rates when all borrowing is based on the LPR, the supply of central bank funding of medium-term loans will, in theory, push down the LPR, and reduce the cost of all lending to businesses. Old System of Banking The central banks govern the price of money in an economy where the banks are charged to borrow cash over short time periods. The reverse repurchase agreements and medium-term lending facility. The interest rate of home mortgages should be converted to the LPR.

    Nepal Bans Indian Vehicles On Pokhara Roads Ahead of New Year

    30 days ago
    Nepal banned vehicles with Indian number plates from running in the tourist hub of Pokhara ahead of the new year. Aim: To attract two million tourists mostly Indians Pokhara Pokhara is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the country on Christmas and the new year. They decided to ban Indian vehicles in consultation with the district administration of Kaski to ease traffic congestion during celebrations. The administration has requested Indian visitors to cooperate with the temporary provision and urged them to use local vehicles. Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) planned to increase the number of Indian tourists visiting the Himalayan country by up to 25 percent in 2019. Around 2,00,000 tourists from India visited Nepal. NTB launched the Visit Nepal Year 2020 campaign in June to achieve two million arrivals from across the world by 2020 and a daily spend of over $75.

    Japan carries out first execution of foreigner in 10 years

    31 days ago
    Japan executed its first foreigner in 10 years on a Chinese man convicted in the 2003 murder and robbery of a family of four. Wei Wei, 40 hanged in Fukuoka more than 16 years.  Wei was convicted of robbing and killing a clothing store owner and his wife and two children at their home in Fukuoka. Chinese accomplices dumped the bodies into the ocean after attaching weights to them. Japan maintained the death penalty despite growing international criticism. Japan have 112 people on death row including 84 seeking retrials. The executions are carried out in high secrecy in Japan prisoners not informed of their fate until the morning hanged. Japan begun disclosing the names of those executed and some details of their crimes disclosures are still limited. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to power in 2012 executed 39 people. Japan hanged 15 people and also the guru of the Aum Shinrikyo.

    China Russia and Iran to hold naval drills in Gulf of Oman

    31 days ago
    China, Russia and Iran hold trilateral naval exercises in the Gulf of Oman. The move done by three countries in the volatile Middle East. About the Trilateral Excercise The trilateral exercise will be held in the Gulf of Oman from December 27 to 30. The Chinese Navy sent a guided missile destroyer to participate in the drills adding that the exercise aims to deepen the exchanges and cooperation between the navies of the three countries and demonstrating the goodwill and ability of the three parties to jointly maintain world peace and maritime security. The Gulf of Oman borders Iran and Pakistan on the north, Oman on the south, the United Arab Emirates on the west and faces the Gujarat coast. Wu declined to directly respond to a question whether the drills were anyway connected to recent tensions in the region and US naval drills. This joint maritime exercise is normal military arrangement of these countries. The commentaries in the western media on the trilateral drill focussed on tensions between Iran and the US, Iran and Saudi Arabia as well as ties among Iran, China and Russia, all identified as competitors by the US as the three powers showcase their unity. Aim of the Exercise The regional shipping lanes and holding forces that threaten regional security in awe. It should not be interpreted and hyped in a geopolitical sense. China has no intention to be involved in the disputes in the Middle East, let alone picking a side in the region.No country should require China to develop a cooperative relationship that is exclusive.

    India and Iran agree to accelerate Chabahar development

    35 days ago
    India and Iran agreed to accelerate work on the strategic Chabahar project as External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held wide-ranging talks with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif on regional and global issues of mutual interest. Chabahar port jointly being developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan is considered a gateway to golden opportunities for trade with central Asian nations by the three countries. It is located on the Indian Ocean in the Sistan and Baluchestan province of Iran. Iran and Afghanistan inked a pact the establishment of Transit and Transport Corridor among the three countries using Chabahar Port as one of the regional hubs for sea transportation in Iran, besides multi-modal transport of goods and passengers across the three nations. India is closely working with Afghanistan and Iran to create an alternative, reliable access routes for trade in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi. Iran is India's third-largest oil supplier behind Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Iran supplied 18.4 million tonnes of crude oil during April 2017 and January 2018 (the first ten months of 2017-18 fiscal).

    French President appeals to transport unions to suspend strikes

    35 days ago
    President Emmanuel Macron appealed to transport unions to suspend strikes that threaten travel chaos over the Christmas holidays. The strikers should observe a truce out of respect for families and family life. The Two weeks of strikes over planned pension reforms have caused widespread disruption across France. The services would be severely disrupted.  The usual number of high-speed trains operated yesterday, and half the metro lines in Paris . The national rail operator also announced plans to inform passengers in advance about cancellations and to offer ticket exchanges. Travellers and tourists in the country struggled to reach their destinations as ongoing strikes.

    US House passes North American trade deal labour rules to get tougher

    37 days ago
    US House of Representatives approved a new North American trade deal that includes tougher labor and automotive content rules but leaves $1.2 trillion in annual US-Mexico-Canada trade flows largely unchanged. The House passed legislation to implement the US-Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) 385-41, with 38 Democrats, two Republicans. The vote contrasted sharply with Wednesday night’s Democrat-only vote to impeach US President Donald Trump. US House of Representatives The deal with the Trump administration, Canada and Mexico to strengthen labor enforcement provisions and eliminate some drug patent protections. This modernized trade deal between our North American trading partners will strengthen the US auto industry and the auto manufacturing supply chain. The changes negotiated by Democrats which include modestly tighter environmental rules will also set up a mechanism to quickly investigate labor rights abuses at Mexican factories. The endorsement of these provisions by US labor leader Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO considered crucial to winning support from Democrats who control the House. The changes enough for some rust-belt Democrats to overcome the scars from factory closures blamed on NAFTA over the past 26 years.USMCA will not bring back the 155,000 jobs in Ohio that were lost to outsourcing after NAFTA. The US International Trade Commission estimated in April that USMCA boosts the US economy adding 176,000 jobs over 15 years but may reduce vehicle assembly in the United States. Around 40% to 45% of vehicle content must come from high-wage areas paying more than $16 an hour - namely the United States and Canada. Some vehicles assembled in Mexico mainly with components from Mexico and outside the region may not qualify for US tariff-free access.

    First vegetable shipment from Varanasi flagged off to Dubai via sea route

    37 days ago
    First trial shipment of fresh vegetables sourced from the Varanasi region flagged off from Mumbai to Dubai via sea route. The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) as part of its efforts to promote exports from India's agriculture produce rich regions sent the first trial shipment of vegetables by sea route from Varanasi to Dubai, Commerce and Industry Ministry. The potential of the production of fruits and vegetables in Varanasi region comprising of 5 districts -- Ghazipur, Jaunpur, Chandauli, Mirzapur and SantRavidas Nagar. APEDA APEDA is in the process of setting up Agri export hubs in these districts.The first trial shipment of one container of fresh vegetables flagged off by Paban Kumar Borthakur, Chairman APEDA and Deepak Agrawal, Commissioner, Varanasi Region in the presence of Kaushal Raj Sharma, District Magistrate, Varanasi.They organised an export promotion programme and buyer seller meet (BSM) for fresh vegetables this year in Varanasi, which was attended by 100 farmers of the region and exporters from Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Uttar Pradesh.Vegetables and fruits exporters association (VAFA), Mumbai have signed an MoU with four farmers producers organisations (FPOs) for sourcing of fresh vegetables and fruits for export to international markets.FPOs have been engaged to ensure supply of quality produce from the region, the release said. The setting up the agri-export hub in Varanasi is now yielding results with the sending of the first trial shipment of vegetables sourced from FPOs in Varanasi region to Dubai by sea route for the first time. The container has a quantity of 14 tonnes of fresh vegetables exported by an export house from Mumbai, supported by VAFA and sourced from three FPOs of Ghazipur and Varanasi. The fast-track the activities taken up for the export hub at Varanasi, a project office of APEDA is being set up there soon for co-ordination and facilitation of all activities.

    US President Donald Trump was impeached by the House

    39 days ago
    The House of Representatives of the US has voted to impeach President Donald Trump on 18 December 2019. The voting of impeachment was on the grounds of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. President Trump will be the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. The other two Presidents who were impeached were President Andrew Johnson in 1868 and President Bill Clinton in 1998.  Allegations on Trump: The House chamber voted 230 to 197 to adopt the first of two impeachment articles. One of the allegations is he misused the power of his office to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.  The House voted 229 to 198 on a second article that accused him of obstructing Congress. Impeachment: Impeach means Charging someone, specifically a high government official, such as the U.S. president, a senator, or a federal judge, with a crime. The process of impeachment is started by a two-thirds majority vote of the Parliament. After that, the Constitutional Court decides whether the President is guilty of the crime of which he is charged. If the one who is impeached is found guilty, he will be removed from power. US impeachment procedure: According to Article II, section 4 of the US Constitution, "The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Bribery, Treason, or any other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." The House of Representatives is given the sole power to impeach a government official. The Senate will hold the trials for the impeachment. The power of impeachment is limited to the removal of the official from the office. It can also provide for a removed officer to be disqualified from holding future office. Penalties and potential jail time for crimes committed by the official while in office are left to civil courts.

    UNESCO removes Racist, a Belgian carnival, from the heritage list

    40 days ago
    The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) removed 'Racist' the Belgian carnival from the heritage list. It was removed over the recurring repetition of racist and antisemitic representations as the carnival mocks Jews. Racist: The carnival is celebrated in the Belgian city of Aalst every year. It was initially added to UNESCO's list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2010.  The presence of a parade float featuring Orthodox Jews with hooked noses and sitting on gold bags caused outrage in Belgium. There are around 40,000-strong Jewish community living in Belgium.

    India expands Indo-Pacific Policy to include Gulf and Africa

    42 days ago
    India announced that it has increased the area covered by its Indo-Pacific policy to include the western Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. This move by the country will include the Gulf states and Africa along with ASEAN. The decision was made at the end of the joint Indian Ocean Dialogue held in New Delhi. The announcement was made by the External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. The Indo-Pacific concept moved beyond cultural, economic, and historical linkages to include an overarching strategic imperative.  The dialogue converged two key foreign policy imperatives of India namely, the Act East and Indo-Pacific policy. India's approach to this concept has highlighted that both geographical extremities of the Indo-Pacific and the areas that are covered in between should ideally have their own indigenously evolved approach to the Indo-Pacific. Indo-Pacific policy: Indo-Pacific covers the region between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. It ranges from the shores of Africa to America. ASEAN is a very important building block of the Indo-Pacific. The US has renamed Pacific Command to US Indo-Pacific Command. It shows the increasing significance of India in the US' strategic calculations. It addressed the strategic interconnection and common problems and challenges that are faced in the Indian and Pacific ocean.

    Lahore-Wagah shuttle train service resumed after 22 years

    42 days ago
    The shuttle train service between Lahore and Wagah railway station resumed its operation on 15 December after a gap of 22 years. The service was inaugurated by Pakistan Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid. The train service was operated till 1997. It was closed due to certain operational and security. Pakistan aims to start or revive the connection of Lahore metropolitan city with its suburbs through rail routes. Lahore-Wagah is the first step taken by the Pakistan government. The shuttle train is expected to be followed by another train from Lahore to Raiwind within the next 15 days. Shuttle train service: ♦ The service will provide a hassle-free commute to hundreds of visitors who intend to witness the flag hoisting and lowering ceremony at Wagah or visiting Jallo Park. ♦ The train completes three round trips daily ♦ It provides the travelling facility to over 1,000 passengers in three trips. The fare for a trip has been fixed at Pakistani Rupee (PKR) 30.

    North Korea conducted another crucial test on 13 December

    43 days ago
    North Korea has conducted another crucial test on 13 December. The test was aimed to help the country to boost its reliable strategic nuclear deterrent. Crucial test: ♦ The unspecified test took place at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground.  ♦ The success marked the reliable strategic nuclear deterrent of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.  ♦ It is said that the test might be related to an intercontinental ballistic missile launch.  ♦ On 8 December 2019, North Korea conducted a very important test at its key satellite launching station.  Sohae facility: Sohae is located on North Korea's northwest coast. It is ostensibly a facility designed to put satellites into orbit. North Korea had promised to close the Sohae facility. The site was rebuilt after having partially dismantled it at the start of denuclearization talks with the United States 2018.

    US cuts new tariffs on China and enters into a new deal

    44 days ago
    The United States and China have agreed to a phase one trade deal that includes canceling the tariffs on Chinese goods. The announcement was made by US President Donald Trump. Agreement: ♦ China has agreed to many structural changes and massive purchases of agricultural products, energy and manufactured goods, and many more.  ♦ Also, the US has agreed to suspend tariffs on $233 billion in Chinese goods that were due to come into effect on 15 December. ♦ The agreement covers technology transfer, intellectual property (IP), currency, agriculture, financial services, and foreign exchange. ♦ The US will still maintain 25% tariffs on $US250 billion of Chinese imports, but cut tariffs in half to 7.5% on $US120 billion in imports.

    Fifteen Indian-origin candidates elected to House of Commons in UK

    44 days ago
    Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative party won the UN's General election with a majority vote. Indian-origin candidates in both the ruling Conservative and opposition Labour parties have registered equally strong results of seven wins on each side. Around 15 MPs have made into the UK's House of Commons, the lower house.  Indian origin candidates include: The former UK Home Secretary Priti Patel who is likely to remain in Johnson's top team in the new Cabinet after her comfortable win. Gagan Mohindra and Claire Coutinho won for the Conservative Party. Also, Navendru Mishra for Labour Party and Munira Wilson for the Liberal Democrats are among the first-timers. Former International Development Minister Alok Sharma, Shailesh Vara, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Goan-origin Suella Braverman, Preet Kaur Gill, Virendra Sharma are among others.

    The US imposed new sanctions on Irans Mahan Air

    45 days ago
    The United States imposed new sanctions on Iran's biggest airline and its shipping network on 11 December 2019. US accused them of transporting lethal aid and weapons of mass destruction proliferation.  New sanctions: The new sanctions were also imposed on Mahan Air and three of its general sales agents by the State Department and the U.S. Treasury Department. The sanctions on ESAIL and additional sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines will take effect in June 2020.  The tensions between the US and Iran escalated after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord. The US blacklisted the Iranian shipping network as it allegedly involved in smuggling lethal aid from Iran to Yemen on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and its elite foreign paramilitary and espionage arm, the Quds Force.

    World's first fully electric commercial aircraft was successfully tested in Canada

    46 days ago
    The Australian company, Harbour Air and magniX flight-tested an all-electric powered seaplane. It has taken flight in Vancouver, Canada. The company aims to electrify its entire fleet by 2022. Test: ♦ It was described as the world's first for the aviation industry. ♦ The test involved a six-passenger DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver with a 750-horsepower (560 kW) magni500 propulsion system. ♦ The invention is aimed to boost the electric which will help to reduce the carbon emissions in the high-polluting aviation sector. ♦ The aim to provide a clean and efficient way to power airplanes. ♦ The new technology will mean significant cost savings and zero emissions for airlines.

    Exercise Iron Union 12 commenced on 10 December

    47 days ago
    Exercise Iron Union 12 commenced on 10 December 2019. It is a joint military exercise between the ground forces of the UAE and the United States. The exercise was commenced in the presence of Lieutenant General Terry Ferrell, commander of US Army Central, USARCENT and Major General Saleh Mohamed Saleh Al Amiri, UAE Commander of Land Forces.  Iron Union 12: ♦ The joint military cooperation between the two countries was aimed to enhance combat and tactical capabilities. ♦ The exercise reflects the determination of the UAE Armed Forces. The UAE military has proved to stand firm against all threats and challenges facing the region.

    The 2nd phase of AIM-SIRIUS Programme concluded on 8 December

    48 days ago
    The second phase of NITI Aayog's Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and Russia's Scientific International Research In Unique Terrestrial Station (SIRIUS) Deep Technology Learning and Innovation Programme 2019 culminated as the 25 Indian students returned with best practices of contemporary innovation and entrepreneurship. SIRIUS Deep Technology Learning and Innovation Programme: ♦ SIRIUS hosted an 8-day project-oriented educational program for Indian and Russian students under the MoU signed between AIM and SIRIUS in 2018.  ♦ The program was held from 28 November to 8 December 2019.  ♦ 50 Russian and Indian students participated in the program.  ♦ The students shared innovation practices under categories namely Biotech, IT & Data Analysis, Clean Energy, Remote Earth Sensing, and Drones & Robotics.  Note: SIRIUS Innovation Festival was held in India in 2018. Delegation including 10 Russian student innovators and 10 Indian innovators from the best performing Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) participated in the event.

    Malaysia reported the first polio case in 27 years

    48 days ago
    Malaysia reported the first polio case in 27 years. The health authorities reported that a three-month-old Malaysian infant has been diagnosed with polio. This is the first case reported in the Asia-Pacific country in 27 years.  Cause: It has been identified that the main issue that has lead to the new polio case is the lack of vaccination in the region. The incident has exposed the areas that don't have enough vaccination to prevent the spread. Malaysia was declared polio-free in 2000.  Polio in Asia-Pacific country: The last reported known case of the disease in 1992. Pakistan and Afghanistan are the last countries where the disease is endemic. Polio: Polio is also is known as poliomyelitis. It is is a highly contagious viral disease caused by Poliovirus. It attacks the nervous system. Children younger than 5 years old contract the virus than any other age group of people. Poliovirus spreads by means of food or water containing human feces and less commonly from infected saliva. The poliovirus spreads especially in unsanitary conditions in underdeveloped and war-torn regions where healthcare access is limited. 

    Sanna Marin elected the youngest-ever as PM of Finland

    49 days ago
    Sanna Marin has been elected as the Prime Minister of Finland. She became the world's youngest Prime Minister ever. She also became the third female government leader of the country. She defeated Antti Lindtman to take over the government's top post from incumbent Antti Rinne. The new government will be approving her appointment quickly.  Sanna Marin: Marin was a lawmaker since 2015. She was the Social Democratic Party's vice chairwoman. She served as the minister for transport and communications.  Finland: President: Sauli Niinisto Official languages: Finnish, Swedish Capital: Helsinki Currency: Euro (€) (EUR) Forder is bordered by: ♦ Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, between Norway to the north ♦ Sweden to the northwest ♦ Russia to the east

    N.Korea carried out a VERY IMPORTANT test at Sohae facility

    49 days ago
    North Korea carried out a very important test at its long-range rocket launch site, Sohae Satellite Launching Station, on 8 Decembre. North Korea stated that the result of the latest test will have an important effect on changing the strategic position of North Korea. This latest test comes as N.Korea is ramping up pressure ahead of its 31 December deadline for the US to propose a new offer to kickstart stalled nuclear talks. Sohae facility: Sohae is located on North Korea's northwest coast. It is ostensibly a facility designed to put satellites into orbit. North Korea had promised to close the Sohae facility. The site was rebuilt after having partially dismantled it at the start of denuclearization talks with the United States 2018.

    India provided USD 500 million Line of Credit to Bangladesh

    50 days ago
    India provided a $500 million Line of Credit (LoC) to Bangladesh on 5 December. The funding is for defenCe-related procurement in Bangladesh.  Soft loan facility agreement: ♦ RBI said that under the soft loan facility, financing of export of eligible goods and services from India would be allowed subject to the Foreign Trade Policy. ♦ Under the agreement, out of the total credit by Exim Bank, the goods and services of the value of at least 75% of the contract price shall be supplied by the seller from India. The rest 25% of goods and services can be procured by the seller for the purpose of the eligible contract from outside India, including Bangladesh. ♦ But the eligible goods and services supplied by the seller from India can be reduced from 75% to 65% based on the nature of the procurement and further reduction may be considered on a case-to-case basis. EXIM Bank's agreement with Bangladesh: On 11 April 2019, the Exim Bank signed an agreement with Bangladesh's Armed Forces Division. The agreement was to provide India-supported line of credit (LoC) $500 million to Bangladesh. The agreement under the LoC came to effect from 7 November 2019.

    Climate emergency has been named as the 2019 Word of the Year

    51 days ago
    Oxford Dictionaries has named climate emergency as the 2019 Word of the Year. The word was chosen from an all-environmental shortlist that also included climate action, climate denial,eco-anxiety, extinction and flight shame. Word of the Year: ♦ The Word of the Year citation highlights a word or expression that is shown through usage evidence to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year.  ♦ The word will have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance. The words that were chosen recently include toxic, youthquake, post-truth and vape.

    Japan to invest Rs.13,000 crore to North Eastern state project of India

    54 days ago
    Japan has decided to invest an amount of Rs.13,000 crore in several ongoing and new projects in the North-Eastern states of India. The announcement was made by the DoNER Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh after the discussion with the Japanese delegation which was led by Ambassador Mr. Kenji Hiramatsu India-Japan collaborated Project: ♦ Japan is to collaborate on some of the Indian Projects including Northeast Road Network Connectivity Improvement Project spread over Assam and Meghalaya, Sustainable Forest Management Project in Tripura, Guwahati Water Supply Project and Guwahati Sewage Project in Assam, Bio-diversity Conservation and Forest Management Project in Sikkim, Bamboo-related collaboration, Technical Cooperation Project for Sustainable Agriculture & Irrigation in Mizoram, Forest Management Project in Nagaland, etc. ♦ Japan has contributed its effort to the development and transformation of the North-Eastern region in the past 3-4 years.

    Narendra Modi to participate in 2020 India EU Summit

    54 days ago
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to visit Brussels in 2020 for the India-EU Summit 2020. He was invited to participate in the 2020 EU-Summit by the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. India-EU partnership: India-EU partnership is based on shared values such as multilateralism, democracy, respect for rule of law,  rules-based trade and international order. The summit is aimed at expanding strategic partnership with Europe.  It aims to identify issues, including maritime security, renewable energy, climate change, connectivity, addressing radicalization and terrorism, as the European Commission president's priority areas.

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