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Last Updated: October 19, 2020 12 hours ago

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  • Vishal V Sharma appointed as India's next permanent representative to UNESCO.

    12 hours ago
    Vishal V Sharma has been selected as the next permanent representative of India to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). He was selected with the rank of ambassador.  Highlights: ♦ Vishal V Sharma was appointed as the replacement of Jawed Ashraf. ♦ He was appointed to the Permanent Delegation of India to UNESCO. ♦ On November 16, 1945 UNESCO was founded and had its headquarters at Paris, France. ♦ Head of UNESCO is Audrey Azoulay.

    IWF appoint Michael Irani as interim President

    12 hours ago
    The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) on October 16, 2020, announced the appointment of Michael Irani as its interim President. Michael Irani was appointed after the resignation of IWF President Tamás Aján. International Weightlifting Federation (IWF): International Weightlifting Federation was founded in 1905 and had its headquarters at Budapest, Hungary. Michael Irani: Michael Irani was born in Bombay, who is a leading physician in Rheumatology and works as a Consultant Rheumatologist at Ashford Hospital NHS Trust. Irani was the former Chairman of the anti-doping Commission of IWF. And he was also a member of the IWF Medical Committee since 1992. He served as the President of the European Weightlifting Federation (EWF) Medical Committee from 1995 to 1999.

    Indian Navy Sri Lanka Navy Maritime Exercise SLINEX-20 off Trincomalee

    12 hours ago
    The 8th Edition of annual Indian Navy (IN) – Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) SLINEX-20 is scheduled off Trincomalee, Sri Lanka from October 19 to 21  2020. SLINEX-20 is a maritime exercise. The Navies conducted the previous edition of SLINEX off Visakhapatnam in September 2019. Highlights: ♦ The Navy will of Sri Lanka will be represented by SLN Ships Sayura (Offshore Patrol Vessel) and Gajabahu (Training Ship) led by Rear Admiral Bandara Jayathilaka, the Flag Officer Commanding Naval Fleet, Sri Lanka Navy. ♦ The Indian Navy will be representing the indigenously built ASW corvettes 'Kamorta' and 'Kiltan' under the command of Rear Admiral Sanjay Vatsayan, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet, Indian Navy. ♦ Indian Navy's Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and Chetak helicopter embarked onboard IN ships, and Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft will also be participants of the exercise. ♦ SLINEX-20aims to enhance inter-operability, improve mutual understanding and exchange best practices and procedures for multi-faceted maritime operations between both navies. ♦ This exercise will show the capabilities of our indigenously constructed aircraft and naval ships. ♦ Surface and anti-air exercises like weapon firing, seamanship evolutions, manoeuvres and cross deck flying operations are planned, which will further enhance the high degree of inter-operability already established between the navies. ♦ Interaction between the two navies has also grown significantly in recent years, following India's policy of 'Neighbourhood First' and Hon’ble PM’s vision of ‘Security and Growth for all in the Region (SAGAR)’.

    India Hosts Virtual Summit of Ministers of Justice of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

    2 days ago
    The Seventh Meeting of Ministers of Justice of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad hosted the Member States, Minister of Law & Justice, Communication and Electronics & Information Technology on October 16, 2020.  Highlights: ♦ India today hosted the virtual Summit of Ministers of Justice of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, SCO. ♦ The summit highlighted the initiatives taken by the Indian Government for providing affordable and easy access to justice for all and also about Pro Bono Legal Services to provide free legal aid to marginalized sections of the society. ♦ During COVID19 pandemic over 25 lakhs hearings have taken place through video conference at various courts of India, out of which nine thousand virtual hearings took place at the Supreme Court alone. ♦ As part of activities of Justice Ministers' Forum, the Minister urged the SCO Member States to promote an exchange of ideas, best practices and experiences in identified areas through the platform. He also stressed on widening the spectrum of activities being undertaken in the Forum. ♦ The Seventh Session of the Ministers of Justice of the SCO Member States deliberated on areas of cooperation emphasized the high relevance of mutual exchange of legal information. ♦ And on counteraction to the spread of the pandemic & acknowledged the need for collaboration in ADR mechanism area, among others.   ♦ Joint Statement following the Results of the Seventh Session of the Ministers of Justice of the SCO Member States was also adopted.

    Webinar between India Kazakhstan Defence Cooperation Hosted

    2 days ago
    Ambassadors of both countries and senior Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials from both sides participated in the webinar. A webinar between India and Kazakhstan was held on October 15 2020. Highlights: ♦ The Theme of the webinar was "Make In India For The World, India – Kazakhstan Defence Cooperation: Webinar and Expo".  ♦ Webinar was organized under the aegis of Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence through FICCI. ♦ This webinar is the part of the series of webinars which are being managed with friendly foreign countries to boost defence exports and achieve defence export target of $5 billion in the next five years. ♦ Webinar observed the need to leverage opportunities not only for co-development and co-production but also to meet each other's requirements ♦ Various Indian companies such as L&T Defence, Ashok Leyland Limited, Bharat Forge, Zen Technologies, Elcom Innovations, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Alpha Design Technologies and Bharat Electronics Limited made company and product presentations on major platforms/equipment like Artillery Systems, Radars, Protected Vehicles, Missiles and Air Defence Equipments, Training Solutions etc. in the webinar.  ♦ BEL announced its plans to open a representative office in Kazakhstan. ♦ More than 350 participants attended the webinar, and 39 virtual exhibition stalls, which include seven stalls from Kazakh companies, have been set up in the Expo.

    Israeli Parliament Approves Historic Peace Deal with UAE

    2 days ago
    The Parliament of Israel, approved the historic normalization deal or the peace deal called as the Abraham Accord with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on October 15, 2020. Israeli Parliament initially signed the agreement in Washington on September 15, 2020. Highlights: ♦ Eighty were voted in favour of the deal while 13 were opposed it. ♦ Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for peace with Lebanon which is Israel's neighbour in the north. ♦ The UAE and Bahrain became the first Gulf countries to agree upon the formulation of official relations with Israel. ♦ The two countries had recently launched US-led negotiations to end the dispute over their maritime border. ♦ Earlier, two Arab countries, namely Egypt and Jordan, had signed peace agreements with Israel.  Israel-UAE peace deal: Under the Abraham Accord, the United Arab Emirates will establish diplomatic relations with Israel. While in return PM Benjamin Netanyahu has committed to giving up a plan to annex the West Bank. West bank is the main disputed territory that Palestine wants. Israel and the United Arab Emirates would also be finalizing the bilateral ties covering the areas of investment, tourism, the establishment of direct flights, energy, security, telecommunications, healthcare, technology, cultural exchange, environmental issues, and the establishment of embassies. 

    PM released commemorative coin of Rs.75 denomination on 75th Anniversary of FAO

    2 days ago
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a commemorative coin of Rs. 75 denomination as marking the 75th Anniversary of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on October 16, 2020. This coin has released as a testament to India's a long-standing relationship with the global body. Highlights: ♦ On this World Food Day, Prime Minister dedicated 17 newbiofortified varieties of 8 crops to the nation. ♦ Food Security Act was in practice during this pandemic, emphasizing on the importance of Minimum Support Price (MSP) and Government purchase for ensuring food security. ♦ The Strength of the farmers will increase India's economy and will be supportive in attaining the mission against malnutrition. ♦ The coordination between India and Food and AgricultureOrganization will boost India to fight against malnutrition. ♦ Indian Civil Service Officer Dr Binay Ranjan Sen was theDirector-General of FAO during 1956-1967. The World Food Programme, which haswon the Nobel Peace Prize 2020, was established during his time. ♦ India had the proposals for the International Year of Pulses in 2016 and FAO also supported the International Year of Millets 2023. ♦ Amid this Corona crisis, India has been providing free ration to about 80 crores poor since the last 7-8 months.  

    India contributes USD 1 million dollars to UNRWA for Palestine Refugees

    3 days ago
    India has contributed 1 million dollars to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees in Near East. India has contributed 1 million dollars to UNRWA for Palestine Refugees in the Near East as support of COVID-19 Pandemic. Highlights: ♦ The contribution was accepted by the UN body is for the Palestinian refugees who have been facing extreme challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This aid will support the Agency's programmes and services, including education, health care, relief and social services. ♦ India's support for the Palestinian cause is an integral part of the nation's foreign policy. ♦ India has also sent medicines and other supplies to the Palestinian National Authority to help in dealing with the COVID-19 situation. It shall continue supporting the UNRWA’s activities in providing vital services and necessary humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees UNRWA and Objective: ♦ TIt is a United Nations (UN) agency which was established by the UN General Assembly in 1949.  ♦ The agency is mandated to provide protection and assistance to some 5.6 million Palestine refugees who are registered with UNRWA across its 5 fields of operation. ♦ The mission of UNRWA is to help the Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, West Bank, including Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. ♦ the services of UNRWA encompass health care, education, camp infrastructure, relief and social services, and protection, improvement, and microfinance among the Palestinian refugees. India-Palestine Partnership: Under this partnership, India has been currently funding 8 ongoing developmental projects that are worth USD 59 million dollars. It includes building an Information Technology Park, 215 Bed Super Specialty Hospital in Bethlehem, Information Technology Park, National Printing Press, Turathi-Women empowerment project, Diplomatic Training Institute and three schools in various governorates in the Palestinian Territories.

    WMO released 2020 State of Climate Services Report

    3 days ago
    World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released the State of Climate Services 2020 Report on October 13, 2020. The State of Climate Services 2020 Report was released on the occasion of International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction by the UN- WMO. Highlights: ♦ Over the past 50 years, more than 11,000 disasters have been attributed to weather, climate and water-related hazards, involving 2 million deaths and US$ 3.6 trillion in economic losses. ♦ The report is prepared by 16 international agencies. ♦ This report contains 16 different case studies on various aspects like successful early warning systems for climate hazards including tropical cyclones and hurricanes, floods, droughts, heat waves, forest fires, sand and dust storms, desert locusts, severe winters and glacial lake outbursts. ♦ Around 108 million people needed the help from the international humanitarian system because of natural disasters. ♦ By 2030 the number of people using international humanitarian system could be increased by 50% at a cost of around US$ 20 billion a year. World Meteorological Organization (WMO): WMO is one of the specialised agencies of the United Nations. It focuses on for promoting international cooperation on atmospheric science, hydrology, climatology and geophysics. The organisation was established in 1873. It is constituted of 193 countries and territories which has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.  

    Pakistan re-elected to UN Human Rights Council

    4 days ago
    Pakistan has been re-elected to the UNHRC despite opposition from activist groups over its terrible human rights records. The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a United Nations body whose aim is to promote and protect human rights all over the world. Highlights: ♦ Among the 5 candidates from the Asia-Pacific region, Pakistan secured the highest number of votes. ♦ In a secret-ballot voting, by the 193-member in UN General Assembly, Pakistan secured 169 votes, Uzbekistan 164, Nepal 150, China 139 and Saudi Arabia lost the race with just 90 votes. ♦ Pakistan is serving on the UNHRC since January 1, 2018. With this re-election, Pakistan will continue as a member for another three-year term commencing on January 1, 2021. ♦ This is the 5th time that Pakistan has been elected to the UNHRC ♦ Pakistan is firmly committed to promoting and safeguarding human rights and fundamental freedoms for all and also effective in sustaining it. ♦ Russia and Cuba, running unopposed, also won the seats.

    FATFs Asia Pacific Group marks Pakistan on Enhanced Follow-up List

    5 days ago
    Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Asia Pacific group has kept Pakistan in its ‘Enhanced Follow Up’ list. The organisation had downgraded Pakistan status from “regular follow-up”.  Highlights ♦ The Asia-pacific group of FATF submitted the report called “Follow up report on the mutual evaluation of Pakistan”.  ♦ The report states that the progress of Pakistan to combat the Financing of terror system and anti-money laundering made by the FATF has remained the same in 2020 as compared to that of 2019. ♦ Enhanced follow up status means the country needs to provide reports on monthly basis compliance to the Financial Action Task Force. ♦ Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) report also showed the gaps in the process of developing and identifying vulnerabilities, threats and risks. ♦ After the publication of a National Risk Assessment (NRA) 2017, on Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing by Pakistan, The MER report came. ♦ The MER highlighted that 2017 NRA had not been circulated to private sector stakeholders and they were not yet subjected to the comprehensive Anti-money Laundering and Terrorist Financing measures. Background: Pakistan has made significant progress to implement the FATF’s plan of action after the publication of the earlier report. Pakistan is unlikely to be placed in the FATF’s blacklist. Pakistan was under the FATF grey list in the year 2019. After that, Pakistan passed three bills to combat the terrorism and money laundering - Anti-terrorism act (Amendment) Bill 2020, Anti-money laundering (Amendment) Bill and Islamabad capital territory Waqf properties Bill, 2020.

    India becomes an observer of Djibouti Code of Conduct

    32 days ago
    India has joined the Djibouti Code of Conduct or Jeddah Amendment as an Observer after the high-level meeting of the Djibouti Code of Conduct/ Jeddah Amendment (DCOC/JA). The meeting was held virtually on 26 August 2020. Djibouti Code of Conduct/ Jeddah Amendment (DCOC/JA): ♦ Djibouti Code of Conduct/ Jeddah Amendment (DCOC/JA) is a grouping on maritime matters. The group comprises 18 member states that adjoin the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, the East coast of Africa, and Island countries in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).  ♦ India now joins Norway, Japan, the UK, and the US as Observers to the DCOC/JA. ♦ As an Observer, India will work together with DCOC/JA member states to coordinate and contribute to enhanced maritime security in the IOR. It is expected that the DCOC will provide a strategic heft in the Indian Ocean region. Djibouti Code of Conduct: The DCOC was established in January 2009. The group is aimed at the repression of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Western IOR, the Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea. The Djibouti Code of Conduct aims to provide a framework for capacity building in the Gulf of Aden and the Western Indian Ocean to combat the threat of piracy.

    Yoshihide Suga elected as New Prime Minister of Japan

    33 days ago
    Japanese ruling party leader Yoshihide Suga has been elected as the Mew Prime Minister of Japan after the resignation of Shinzo Abe, due to poor health. Yoshihide Suga won the leadership contest of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party by 377 votes out of 534 votes. He is to expected to launch his own Cabinet on 16 September. Yoshihide Suga: Yoshihide Suga is the son of a strawberry farmer.  will be the new head of the governing Liberal Democratic Party. Suga served as the Chief Cabinet secretary and Abe's right-hand man. The 71-year-old would continue his predecessor’s “Abenomics” strategy of hyper-easy monetary policy. Suga, previously, has served as a powerful government adviser and spokesperson during Abe’s nearly eight-year tenure.  Abe Shinzo: The first tenure of Abe Shinzo as the Prime Minister began in September 2006. In 2007, he resigned due to health problems. In September 2012, he returned to the helm of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). In December 2012, he returned to the office of prime minister after the LDP regained power in a House of Representatives election. As of November 19, he has held the post in his current administration for 2,520 days. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is the longest-serving prime minister in the history of Japan's constitutional government 

    India is elected as Member of the UN Commission on the Status of Women

    33 days ago
    India is elected as the Member of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The 54-member the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held the first plenary meeting of its 2021 session in the General Assembly Hall. The principal global body held elections for two seats in the Asia-Pacific States category. Three countries namely Afghanistan, India, and China competed. Afghanistan garnered 39 votes and India won 38 votes of the 54 ballots cast. China got 27 votes failed to get the required majority of 28 votes. Highlights: ♦ India and Afghanistan will join Austria, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Israel, Latvia, Nigeria, Turkey, and Zambia.  ♦ The above countries were elected to the Commission on the Status of Women for a four-year term starting from 2021-2025. ♦ The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is a functional commission of the UN's ECOSOC. ♦ It focuses on gender equality and women empowerment. ♦ The Commission on the Status of Women aims to promote women’s rights and shape global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women worldwide.

    India is elected as Member of the UN Commission on the Status of Women

    33 days ago
    India is elected as the Member of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The 54-member the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held the first plenary meeting of its 2021 session in the General Assembly Hall. The principal global body held elections for two seats in the Asia-Pacific States category. Three countries namely Afghanistan, India, and China competed. Afghanistan garnered 39 votes and India won 38 votes of the 54 ballots cast. China got 27 votes failed to get the required majority of 28 votes. Highlights: ♦ India and Afghanistan will join Austria, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Israel, Latvia, Nigeria, Turkey, and Zambia.  ♦ The above countries were elected to the Commission on the Status of Women for a four-year term starting from 2021-2025. ♦ The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is a functional commission of the UN's ECOSOC. ♦ It focuses on gender equality and women empowerment. ♦ The Commission on the Status of Women aims to promote women’s rights and shape global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women worldwide.

    WHO declared Africa free of Wild Polio

    54 days ago
    The Africa Regional Certification Commission, the independent body, has declared Africa free from wild polio. The announcement was made by the African Regional Certification Commission for Polio Eradication during a World Health Organization (WHO) event.  Highlights: ♦ The Africa Regional Certification Commission confirmed that all 47 countries in the WHO's Africa region have eradicated Polio. The poliovirus, commonly, attacks the nervous system and causes irreversible paralysis within hours.  ♦ Nigeria was the last African country to be declared free from wild polio. Nigeria accounted for more than half of all global cases less than a decade ago. ♦ In the thousands of children in Africa were paralyzed by the virus. The disease is now only found in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There is no cure but the polio vaccine protects children for life. Polio: Polio is a disease caused by Poliovirus. The virus affects the nervous system. Polio is also is known as poliomyelitis. Polio is a viral disease caused by Poliovirus. It is highly contagious. It is mainly spread by person-to-person contact. Children younger than five 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.

    Turkey discovers a large natural gas reserve in Black Sea

    58 days ago
    Turkey discovered large natural gas reserves in the Black Sea coast. The announcement was made by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The discovery included 320 billion cubic metres of natural gas. If the natural gas reserve can be extracted, it could help the country to reduce its energy dependence on imports from countries such as Russia, Iran, and Azerbaijan. Highlights: ♦ Turkey aims to use the discovered natural gas by 2023. ♦ The country has made the biggest discovery of natural gas in its history in the Black Sea. ♦ The new natural gas reserves come amid the rising tensions between Ankara and Athens over oil and gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean. ♦ The discovery has come up in the middle of tensions between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies Greece and Turkey are running high in disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean. Background: Turkey highly depends on Russia, Iran, and Iraq for its energy resources. In the year 2019, the Turkish energy imports from these countries were $41 billion. The discovery of the new oil exploration will help to reduce the country's imports.  

    India and Nepal to speed up implementation of projects in the Himalayan nation

    63 days ago
    A virtual meeting was held between the Senior diplomats of India and Nepal to review the progress made on various India-aided developmental projects being implemented in the Himalayan nation. The meeting was held virtually due to the covid-19 pandemic. The meeting was the 8th round of talks under the aegis of the India-Nepal Oversight Mechanism.  Highlights: ♦ The Nepalese side was lead by the Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi and the Indian side was led by the Ambassador to Nepal Vinay Mohan Kwatra.  ♦ The delegations represented their respective countries during the oversight mechanism meeting. ♦ The officials assessed the progress made on various India aided development projects being implemented in Nepal. ♦ India and Nepal officials have reviewed the status of various development projects supported by New Delhi in the Himalayan nation. ♦ Both nations has decided to speed up their implementation against the backdrop of consistent efforts by China to draw Nepal into its sphere of influence with cheap loans and infrastructure projects. ♦ The meeting also included the ongoing projects including the cross-border railway connectivity, construction of roads in Nepa’s Terai region, the Arun-III hydropower project, and petroleum product pipelines.

    India and Nepal to speed up implementation of projects in the Himalayan nation

    63 days ago
    A virtual meeting was held between the Senior diplomats of India and Nepal to review the progress made on various India-aided developmental projects being implemented in the Himalayan nation. The meeting was held virtually due to the covid-19 pandemic. The meeting was the 8th round of talks under the aegis of the India-Nepal Oversight Mechanism.  Highlights: ♦ The Nepalese side was lead by the Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi and the Indian side was led by the Ambassador to Nepal Vinay Mohan Kwatra.  ♦ The delegations represented their respective countries during the oversight mechanism meeting. ♦ The officials assessed the progress made on various India aided development projects being implemented in Nepal. ♦ India and Nepal officials have reviewed the status of various development projects supported by New Delhi in the Himalayan nation. ♦ Both nations has decided to speed up their implementation against the backdrop of consistent efforts by China to draw Nepal into its sphere of influence with cheap loans and infrastructure projects. ♦ The meeting also included the ongoing projects including the cross-border railway connectivity, construction of roads in Nepa’s Terai region, the Arun-III hydropower project, and petroleum product pipelines.

    India extended USD 1 million assistance to Antigua, Barbuda to tackle Covid-19 pandemic

    66 days ago
    Government of India has extended an assistance of $1 million to Antigua and Barbuda to fight the COVID-19 outbreak. This assistance is aimed to improve health infrastructure and capacities in Antigua and Barbuda. Indian High Commissioner KJ Srinivasa handed over the medical supplies and medicine to Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne. Highlights: ♦ The assistance of $1 million from India will be used to improve health infrastructure in Antigua and Barbuda, for procurement of life-saving medical supplies and equipment like ventilators, etc. ♦ Under this assistance, ventilators, full cover goggles, disposable impervious gowns, face shields, examination gloves and disposable masks were facilitated. ♦ GoI has also provided 10,000 hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) tablets to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda to support its fight against COVID-19. ♦ The Government of Antigua and Barbuda's proposal for assistance and collaboration named 'Strengthening national Health capacities and reducing socio-economic and human development negative impacts of COVID-19 crisis in Antigua and Barbuda' was processed under India-United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Fund managed by United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) and the guidelines of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    India announced USD 500 million assistance for major connectivity project in Maldives

    66 days ago
    India has announced $500 million assistance for Maldives on 13 August 2020 for Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP). The fund is for the implementation of a major connectivity project in the Maldives will be done through a $400 million line of credit and $100 million grant. The announcement was passed by the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar after holding wide-ranging talks with his Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Shahid.  Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP): ♦ The project aims to implement 6.7 km. ♦ GMCP is expected to be the largest civilian infrastructure project in Maldives, connecting Male with three neighbouring islands namely Villingili, Gulhifahu and Thilafushi. ♦ The project includes construction of a bridge-and-causeway link. ♦ The project will boost economic activity, generate employment and promote holistic urban development in the Male region. ♦ India is to extend financial support for construction of a port in Gulhifahu. It will enhance sea connectivity. It is also expected to provide predictability in supplies for importers in Maldives and exporters in India. The project will reduce logistics costs and times for traders.

    Israel successfully tests advanced missile defense system Arrow-2 interceptor

    67 days ago
    Israel successfully conducted a flight test of the Arrow-2 interceptor on 13 August 2020. Israel's multi-layered aerial defense systems have been designed to stand a war if the country is targeted with massive missile fire. Arrow-2 interceptor: ♦ Arrow-2 system is a part of the multi-layered system Israel. ♦ The System is developed to defend against both short- and mid-range rockets.  ♦ Arrow-2 system is capable to defend against threats from outside the atmosphere. ♦ Israel and the United States (US) jointly tested Arrow-3 successfully in 2019 in Alaska. ♦ The system was developed by Israel Aerospace Industries and Boeing and became operational in January 2017.  ♦ The Arrow-2 has been in use even longer and deployed in recent years to counter Syrian missiles.

    Russia is planning to conduct Russia-India-China summit in November

    69 days ago
    Russia has proposed to host the first meeting of Russia-India-China (RIC) Defence Ministers in Moscow, Russia in September. The meeting will provide an opportunity for India and China to keep their communication channels open amid the Line of Actual Control (LAC) standoff.  Highlights: ♦ Russia will organize a RIC summit on the sidelines of the G20 meeting, which is scheduled to be held in Riyadh in November 2020 amid the rising tension between India and China.  ♦ The main objective of the RIC grouping multi-pronged is to streamline a unified agenda while upholding the central role of the UN and international law. It will expand a common ground between the participating countries. ♦ The countries aim to establish a dialogue mechanism under the RIC between the defence ministers of Russia, India, and China.   Background: The plan to hold the RIC summit, between Russian President Vladimir Putin, his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was discussed during the virtual video-conference between the RIC foreign ministers on 23 June.

    India extended Line of Credit worth USD 18 million dollars to Maldives

    73 days ago
    Government of India has extended Line of Credit (LoC) worth $18 million to the Government of Maldives. The aim is to expand the fishing facilities at Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company (MIFCO). Highlights: ♦ The project aims to invest in fish collection and storage facilities. ♦ The fund will be used for setting up of a tuna cooked plant and fishmeal plant.   ♦ This is a part of the $800 million LoC offered by India with repayment tenor of 20 years and a 5-year moratorium.  ♦ In Male, fishing is connected to the Maldivian way of life as it is a key driver of the economy through exports.

    PM Narendra Modi and PM Mahinda Rajapaksa held discussion

    73 days ago
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a conversation with the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka H.E. Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa on 6 August 2020. The leaders discussed the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic. Highlights: ♦ Prime Minister Narendra Modi appreciated the strong democratic values shared by both countries. ♦ Prime Minister Modi conveyed his wishes to H.E. Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa for his impressive electoral performance.  ♦ Both the leaders reiterated the shared commitment to strengthen the multi-dimensional India-Sri Lanka relationship. The leaders stressed the significance of early progress in all spheres of bilateral cooperation.  ♦ The leaders discussed the establishment of an international airport in the Buddhist pilgrimage city of Kushinagar in India.   ♦ Both the leaders agreed to stay in close touch as both countries address the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic, and resolved to take bilateral relations to newer heights in the coming days.

    NASA Astronauts returns safely after successful Demo-2 mission

    77 days ago
    Two US astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, returned from the International Space Station (ISS) on 2 August 2020.  The Crew Dragon was designed and operated by Space-X. It is being used for this flight test can stay in orbit about 110 days. NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Mission: ♦ NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight was the first crewed flight to launch from the US since 2011. ♦ The Demo-2 mission is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. ♦ The Commercial Crew Program of NASA has worked with several American aerospace industry companies with an aim to facilitate the development of US human spaceflight systems since 2010. ♦ It aimed to develop reliable and cost-effective access to and from the ISS. ♦ The demo-2 mission is the final flight test that intended to validate its different components, like the spacecraft Crew Dragon, operations capabilities, the launch vehicle Falcon 9, and the launch pad LC-39A. ♦ The Crew Dragon performed a series of phasing manoeuvres to gradually approach and autonomously dock with the ISS., after its launch. ♦ The two astronauts performed tests of the Crew Dragon and conduct research with Expedition 63. ♦ The main objective of the Demo-2 mission is to make access to space easier in terms of its price, so that cargo and crew can be easily transported to and from the ISS, enabling greater scientific research.

    PM Narendra Modi, PM of Mauritius Mr.Pravind Jugnauth inaugurated the new SC Building

    80 days ago
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Mauritius Mr. Pravind Jugnauth jointly inaugurated the new Supreme Court building in Mauritius through video conference on 30 July. New Supreme Court building is first India assisted infrastructure project in Mauritius to be inaugurated after the Covid-19 pandemic. The Supreme Court will remain as a symbol of cooperation and shared values of India and Mauritius. It is in line with India’s vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region). Highlights: ♦ The landmark project was completed with grant assistance of $28.12 million from the Government of India. ♦ The project highlighted the importance of the human-centric approach of India’s development cooperation and cemented the close ties between India and Mauritius.  ♦ The new Supreme Court building with modern design and state-of-the-art facilities will be a fitting seat for the Mauritius judiciary. ♦ The project has been completed on schedule and at a cost below initial estimates. ♦ The leaders reaffirmed the India-Mauritius partnership in the coming years. ♦ Prime Minister Jugnauth appreciated India’s support for the project as reflective of the close ties of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.  ♦ Supreme Court Building construction with Indian assistance is a new milestone in the modernization of infrastructure in Mauritius. ♦ It will make the Mauritius justice system more efficient, accessible and inclusive.

    India extended medical assistance worth about USD 1 million to North Korea

    84 days ago
    Government of India (GoI) has sent $1 million worth of anti-tuberculosis medicine to North Korea per a request from the World Health Organization (WHO). India has extended medical assistance worth about $1 million to North Korea in response to a request received from WHO. The information was announced by the Union Ministry of External Affairs. Highlights: ♦ The consignment of medicines was handed over to DPRK authorities by Indian Ambassador to DPRK Atul Malhari Gotsurve in the presence of a WHO representative. ♦ The move by India comes due to the shortage of medical supply situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).  ♦ India has also decided to grant humanitarian assistance of $1 million in the form of anti-tuberculosis medicines. ♦ The medical assistance will be done under the aegis of an ongoing WHO anti-tuberculosis programme in DPRK.

    India increased exposure to US government securities by nearly USD 13 billion in May

    84 days ago
    As per the latest official data, India's holdings of American government securities increased by nearly $13 billion to $169.9 billion at the end of May 2020. So far, India had touched a record high of $177.5 billion in February 2020. Highlights: ♦ The US government securities are purchased by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). ♦ The securities marginally rised to $157.4 billion in April and the holdings increased to $169.9 billion in May, which is an increase of around $13 billion in a month's time. ♦ Also, the US Treasury Department, in March, the exposure had come down steeply to $156.5 billion from the record-high in February. ♦ India's holdings stood at $164.3 billion in January 2020.  ♦ India's foreign exchange reserves rose by $1.275 billion to a life-time high of $517.637 billion in the week to July 17. ♦ India was the 12th largest holder of the American government securities. ♦ As per the data, Japan had the maximum exposure at $1.260 trillion at the end of May. ♦ China stands second with holdings worth $1.083 trillion, followed by the United Kingdom at the third place with an exposure of $393.5 billion. ♦ As per the data, Ireland stands fourth position, followed by Brazil, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Cayman Islands, Belgium and Taiwan.

    South Korea launched its first-ever military communications satellite

    89 days ago
    South Korea launched its first-ever military communications satellite "ANASIS-II" by private operator SpaceX on 21 July 2020. The information was passed by Seoul's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA). The move by the country aims to build up its defence capabilities. ANASIS-II: ♦ ANASIS-II is aimed to enhance the South's defence against the nuclear-armed North Korea, which invaded in 1950. ♦ The satellite was carried by Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. ♦ ANASIS-II will reach its orbit of 36,000 kilometres and South Korea's military will take over the system in October after testing. ♦ South Korea and the United States are security allies. The US has stationed 28,500 troops in the country.

    Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal addressed Digital Indo-Italian Business Mission

    93 days ago
    Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal virtually addressed the opening session of Digital Indo-Italian Business Mission on Food Processing. The session will hold a two-day event. It will include digital conferences, trade fairs, and Business-to-Business service (B2B) meetings.   Highlights: ♦ The Digital Indo-Italian Business Mission on Food Processing will offer a unique platform for India and Italy to explore partnership opportunities ♦ This Digital Indo-Italian Business Mission on Food Processing is expected to start a new digital journey and pave the way for a closer connection between the food processing ecosystems of the two countries. ♦ The Mission comes as many food processing companies are attempting to diversify and expand their product line-up.  ♦ The move aims to expand its global outreach.  ♦ It should be noted that India and Italy are natural partners when it comes to the Food Processing Industry and in the European Union. ♦ 23 Italian companies that are part of this Digital Mission are having a virtual exhibition of their products and services.  ♦ These companies are expected to have business meetings with end-users and other industry players in India. ♦ Under this mission, Italy will provide India on how to better preserve food and reduce wastages through strengthening cold chain and processing technologies. India will provide immense opportunities for growth. Italy: President: Sergio Mattarella Prime Minister: Giuseppe Conte Capital: Rome Official language: Italian Currency: Euro (€)

    Polish President Andrzej Duda wins the 2020 Presidential Election of Poland

    98 days ago
    Polish President Andrzej Duda won the 2020 Presidential Election of Poland on 12 July 2020. He has secured another five-year in office. Andrzej Duda’s current term will expire on 6 August 2020. Duda aligned with the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and won 51.2% of the votes and Rafal Trzaskowski from the main opposition center-right Civic Platform party secured 48.7%. 2020 Presidential Election of Poland: The First Round of the 2020 Presidential Election of Poland was conducted on 28 June 2020. A total of 11 candidates contested for the post of President. In the first round, Andrzej Duda gained the highest 43.50% of the total valid vote share followed by Rafal Trzaskowski with 30.46% in the second place. On 12 July 2020, the Second-Round election was conducted in Poland.

    World Bank approved USD 500 million loan to improve quality of school education

    112 days ago
    The World Bank has approved a $500 million loan to improve the quality and governance of school education in six Indian states. The approval is given by the Board of Executive Directors. The board approved a loan for Strengthening the Teaching-Learning and Results for States Program (STARS). Highlights: ♦ It is expected that around 250 million students, between the age of 6 and 17, in 1.5 million schools, and over 10 million teachers will benefit from the program. ♦ The STARS program has built a long partnership between India and the World Bank, since 1994. ♦ STARS aims to support India’s response to the challenges by strengthening implementation at the local level, investing in teacher capacity. ♦ It also aims to ensure that no child of any background is left behind from the right to education. ♦ STARS will enhance the learning assessment systems and strengthen classroom instruction and remediation in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Rajasthan. ♦ It will also facilitate school-to-work transition, and strengthen governance and decentralized management.

    Russia announces to take first tourist on space walk in 2023 yr

    114 days ago
    Russia's Energia space corporation has announced that it is to take the first tourist on a spacewalk in 2023, under the terms of a new contract with a US partner. Energia has signed a contract with Space Adventures. Under this, two space tourists to the International Space Station (ISS). Highlights: ♦ Energia announced after NASA signed a deal with Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic space tourism company. The deal is to promote private missions to the station after a special training program in the US. ♦ The programme is introduced after the first successful mission by Elon Musk's SpaceX in the month of May 2020 to bring astronauts to the station on a reusable Crew Dragon spacecraft. This has ended nearly a decade of Russia holding a monopoly on shuttling humans to orbit.  ♦ SpaceX in March announced its own space tourism trip for three people in the year 2020, on board of the Crew Dragon. ♦ SpaceX together with the Russian agency previously took 8 tourists to the ISS between 2001 and 2009.

    WHO-led coalition ACT-Accelerator needs USD 31.3 billion to fight against COVID-19 pandemic

    114 days ago
    The World Health Organization (WHO)-led coalition ACT-Accelerator announced that it needs $31.3 billion over the next 12 months to fight the CVOVID-19 and to develop and roll out tests, treatments and vaccines.  Highlights: ♦ As per the report, $3.4 billion had been collected of which $13.7 billion was urgently needed. It leaves the organization with a funding gap of $27.9 billion. ♦ ACT initiative aims to scale up delivery of 500 million tests and 245 million courses of treatments to low- and middle-income countries by mid-2021. ♦ It also aims to deliver 2 billion vaccine doses, including one billion to be bought by low- and middle-income countries, by the end of 2021. ♦ WHO is currently working with a large coalition of drug-development, funding, and distribution organizations under the ACT-Accelerator Hub. ♦ ACT-Accelerator initiative updated that the WHO and global health groups stated that the COVID-19 pandemic still threatens millions of lives and scores of economies. ♦ WHO stated that the investment required is significant, but it pales in significance when compared to the cost of COVID-19.  ♦ The total cost of the ACT-Accelerator's work is less than a tenth of the IMF estimate of the global economy is losing every month due to the covid-19 pandemic. ACT-Accelerator: The coalition is known as Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT)-Accelerator initiative. The ACT-Accelerator was launched in April 2020. Under WHO's global initiative, many public and private organizations are involved in drug-development to funding and distribution to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

    NASA headquarters to be renamed as Mary W. Jackson, one of its Hidden Figures

    114 days ago
    The US Space Agency, NASA has announced that its headquarters in Washington, D.C., will be named after Mary W. Jackson, one of its history-making engineers. The information was passed by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.  Mary W. Jackson: In 1942, Mary W. Jackson graduated with bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and physical science from Hampton University, which is a historically Black university. She was a mathematician & aerospace engineer. She started the NASA career in the segregated West Area Computing Unit of the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. In the year 1951, she was recruited by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which was succeeded in 1958 by NASA, where she worked until her retirement in 1985. She worked along with Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan, two other history-making Black mathematicians, during the space race. The women’s stories were described in Margot Lee Shetterly’s 2016 nonfiction book “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race.” The movie was adapted into a motion picture titled “Hidden Figures”. It was nominated for three Academy Awards.

    Mali awarded Project Management Consultancy contract to NTPC to develop 500 MW Solar Park

    116 days ago
    The Republic of Mali has awarded the Project Management Consultancy contract to NTPC Limited, a central PSU that functions under the Ministry of Power, in an event held on 24 June 2020. The contract aims to develop 500 MW Solar Park. The event was chaired by the Union Minister of State for Power R.K.Singh, NRE, Skill Development and President of International Solar Alliance (ISA), and Mr.H.E. Sekou Kasse, the Ambassador of Mali. Highlights: ♦ The event was hosted by ISA in the Ministry of Renewable Energy, New Delhi. ♦ The Republic of Mali has taken various initiatives towards the energy security of the country especially to increase access to electricity for its citizens. ♦ The move comes with a focus on solar power and applications.  ♦ The development of Solar Projects in Mali is expected to make a considerable impact on the socio-economic growth of Mali. ISA: ISA is created with the vision and leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and announced jointly with President of France during COP-21 held in Paris in 2015. ISA’s vision is for a large-scale solar revolution, hinges on creating a facilitative international ecosystem that enables access to science and economic resources, reduce the cost of technology and capital, facilitates price reduction, and enables the development of storage technology and innovation. With its scale and authoritative understanding of the energy transition opportunities of diverse economies, ISA is the world's foremost energy transition catalyst for bringing a change from energy poverty to energy empowerment. Republic of Mali: President: Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta Prime Minister: Boubou Cisse Capital: Bamako Official language: French

    Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic won the controversial Parliamentary election

    117 days ago
    Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic won the controversial parliamentary election. The Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) won over 60% of the vote, which is around 190 seats in the 250-seat Serbian parliament.  Background: The general election was originally scheduled for 26 April 2020 but was postponed after a state of the emergency was declared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The largest block of parties including the Serbian Radical Party (SRP), the Democratic Party, the Party of Freedom and Justice, The Doors (Dveri), the People’s Party, and the Let's not drown Belgrade movement boycotted the election.  About Siberian Parliament: Siberia Parliament is also known as the National Assembly of Siberia. It has a unicameral legislature. The PM of Siberia is elected and appointed by the 250 elected members of the National Assembly. The President of Siberia is also empowered to propose the name of an individual to the National Assembly for the post of the Prime Minister.

    China to join the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty to regulate its arms sales

    117 days ago
    China announced that it has decided to join the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (UN-ATT) to regulate its arms sales. The decision was made during a three-day meeting which was held from 18-20 June of the top lawmaking committee in China- Legislative Affairs Committee.  Highlights: ♦ China has always strictly controlled the export of military products. ♦ China's move to join the treaty is an important step towards the country's effort to enhance & maintain peace and stability across the globe and support multilateralism. ♦ Under this, China will export military products to sovereign countries and will not export military products to non-state actors.  Background: The move by China comes after the US announced to pull out of the ATT in 2019. US cited the reason was the treaty amounts to international gun control which is a threat to the USA's second amendment right to bear arms. In May 2020, the US announced its exit from the Open Skies Treaty (OST).  What is the Arms Trade Treaty? Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) promotes, regulates, and monitors the international sales and transfer of conventional arms as per the global standards. ATT regulates from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships. UNGA adopted the treaty on 2 April 2013. ATT entered into force on 24 December 2014. As per the treaty, the UN member countries must keep records of international transfers of weapons. It also imposes the member states to prohibit cross-border shipments that could be used in human rights violations or attacks on civilians.

    China launched last BeiDou Satellite System

    117 days ago
    China launched the satellite of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System 3 (BDS-3) from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province on 23 June 2020.  BDS-3 Satellite: ♦ BDS-3 Satellite was carried by a Long March-3B carrier rocket. ♦ It is the 30th BDS-3 satellite and also the 55th of the whole BeiDou satellite family. ♦ BDS-3 will offer its users services including high-precision positioning and short message communication. It will bring new highlights to global navigation satellite systems. ♦ The final BDS satellite weighs over 10,000 pounds. It is the largest of its kind in the family. ♦ The satellite is filled with propellants for maneuvers in orbit. ♦ BDS-3 family will allow the constellation to provide more cost-effective navigation services. ♦ BDS-3 is constructed with 24 satellites in medium-Earth orbits (MEO), three in inclined geosynchronous satellite orbits, and three in geostationary orbits. The satellite is scheduled to provide services worldwide. ♦ The launch of the satellite marked the completion of China's domestically developed BeiDou constellation, one of four global navigation networks alongside the United States' GPS, Russia's GLObal NAvigation Satellite System (GLONASS) and the European Union's (EU's) Galileo.

    India to construct sanitation facility at Pashupatinath Temple, Nepal

    124 days ago
    India has pledged to construct a Rs.2.33 crore sanitation facility at the Pashupatinath Temple complex in Kathmandu, Nepal. It will improve the infrastructure in the holy shrine for the pilgrims.  Highlights: ♦ Pashupatinath Temple project will be constructed under the Nepal-Bharat Maitri: Development Partnership as a high impact community development scheme by India. ♦ Under the initiative, India has pledged to extend financial assistance amounting to NRs Rs.2.33 crore for the sanitation facility that would be implemented by the Kathmandu Metropolitan City. ♦ The project will be implemented as per the norms laid out by the Nepal Government in 15 months. ♦ India’s assistance for the infrastructure development at the Pashupatinath Temple complex comes amid a raging border row between the two countries. Note: In Nepal, Pashupatinath Temple is the largest temple complex. It has stretched on both sides of the Bagmati River. Thousands of worshippers from Nepal and India visit the temple every day.

    PM Modi held discussion with PM of Israel to expand cooperation in context of COVID-19 pandemic

    130 days ago
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a discussion with His Excellency Benjamin Netanyahu, PM of Israel over the telephone. The leaders affirmed the partnership b between India and Israel. Highlights: ♦ PM Modi and His Excellency Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the potential areas where the countries could expand their cooperation in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, including research and development (R&D) efforts in the fields of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.  ♦ The leaders agreed to maintain the ongoing exchanges between expert teams of both countries. ♦ The leaders discussed the bilateral agenda. They agreed that the post-COVID-19 pandemic, the countries would create opportunities for mutually beneficial partnerships in many areas.   ♦ The leaders also assessed scope to expand India-Israel collaboration in areas like health technology, agricultural innovation, defence-cooperation, and information technology. ♦ They agreed to share assessments and consult each other on the emerging opportunities and challenges in the changing global scenario. Israel: President: Reuven Rivlin Prime Minister: Benjamin Netanyahu Capital: Jerusalem Official languages: Hebrew  Currency: New shekel (ILS)

    Sri Lanka to hold parliamentary elections on 5 August

    131 days ago
    The Sri Lankan parliamentary election has been finally decided for 5 August 2020. The new date to conduct election comes after elections were postponed twice because of the COVID-19 crisis.   Highlights: ♦ Sri Lanka’s parliament was dissolved on 2 March and parliamentary polls were initially to be held on 25 April. But it was postponed due to the outbreak of COVID-19.  ♦ The election commission then shifted the date to 20 June but it was canceled considering the coronavirus pandemic.  ♦ The commission held a mock poll in the 1st week of June at a polling station to test the COVID-19 health guidelines and its preparedness.  ♦ The guideline also stipulates conditions for campaigning including to avoid public gathering for more than 500 while using propaganda materials and media as the main medium for the campaign. Background: Srilankan parliament was dissolved on 2 March, 6 months before the end of its term as the current government under PM Mahinda Rajapaksa sought a majority in the house to implement its policies. The petition bu the other parties to revive parliament due to the COVID-19 crisis was rejected by the Supreme Court. As per official data, Sri Lanka did not report any community case of COVID-19 for over a month.

    EU proposes 750 billion-euro coronavirus recovery fund

    145 days ago
    The European Union (EU) Commission has proposed a 750 billion-euro ($825 billion) recovery fund "European breakthrough" to help the bloc's economy through the deep recession induced by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was announced by the commissioner Paolo Gentiloni. The aim is to tackle an unprecedented crisis. Highlights: ♦ The move comes as the EU plans to enter its deepest-ever recession as the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic ravages economies. ♦ The plan comes following big pressure from Italy and Spain. ♦ If EU member states accept the deal as drafted, Italy would receive €81.8 billion, over the next three years, and Spain would receive €77.3 billion. ♦ Germany would receive €28.8 billion and France would receive €38.7 billion. ♦ The fund will be linked to the EU's long term budget for 2021 to 2027.

    China successfully tests its first unmanned helicopter drone

    147 days ago
    China's first unmanned helicopter drone, AR500C unmanned helicopter, made its maiden flight at an AVIC base in Poyang in East China's Jiangxi Province. The drone was developed by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). AR500C unmanned helicopter: ♦ The helicopter has been designed in plateau areas and capable of firing and conducting reconnaissance from a high altitude. ♦ It could be deployed along the country's borders with India. ♦ China's first unmanned helicopter can take off at an elevation of 5,000 metres and has a ceiling of 6,700 metres.  ♦ The drone has an endurance of 5 hours, a maximum speed of 170 km an hour, and a maximum take-off weight of 500 kg. ♦ The helicopter has the ability to relay communication from a high altitude. ♦ The helicopter will help safeguard China's southwestern borders with India in Tibet.

    PM of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu sworn-in for the 5th time

    154 days ago
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally swore in his new government on 17 May for the fifth time. The ceremony of the swearing-in of Israel's new government, the Knesset, was held in accordance with coronavirus social distancing directives. Netanyahu will be in power until 13 November 2021. This ended the 18-month political crisis in the country. Benny Gantz will serve in the specially created role of alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister.  Israel: President: Reuven Rivlin Prime Minister: Benjamin Netanyahu Capital: Jerusalem Official languages: Hebrew Currency: New shekel

    Global Energy Review of IEA states 15 percent decline in electricity demand

    163 days ago
    The International Energy Agency (IEA) released the Global Energy Review in 2020. The report stated that 15% of the daily electricity demand has been reduced. It highlighted the carbon dioxide emissions and the global energy demand in the year 2020. Report Highlights: ♦ The report was based on the survey collected from 30 countries including India and China.  ♦ The report stated that decline in the electricity demand is due to lockdown imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic in countries such as India, Italy, France, UK. ♦ The pandemic has reduced fossil-fuel based power generation. In India, the production of electricity has declined by 32.2% as compared to the 2019 level. ♦ It also stated that the oil demand was reduced by 5% and Carbon Dioxide Emissions have declined by 8% as compared to 2019.

    UN and partners launch USD 6.7 billion appeals for vulnerable countries for COVID-19 relief

    163 days ago
    The United Nations and its partner agencies launched a $6.7 billion global appeal to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. It will focus on more vulnerable countries and combating food insecurity and gender-based violence. The UN Emergency Relief: ♦ The UN Emergency Relief plan originally included 54 countries and programmes to respond to the growth in food insecurity.  ♦ Under the plan, 9 more vulnerable countries have been added. The nine newly added countries are Pakistan, Benin, Mozambique, Djibouti, Liberia, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Zimbabwe. ♦ The plans are for quick and determined action to stave off the most debilitating effects of the pandemic in 63 low and middle-income countries. ♦ New transport hubs for delivering supplies by air have also been established under the plan. Nearly 2 million people worldwide, including health workers, have been trained in virus identification through an online portal run by the WHO. ♦ World Food Programme (WFP) the UN agencies and partners responding to the immense needs, reaching nearly 100 million people on any given day.

    Prime Minister of Iraq Mustafa al-Kadhimi assumed office

    163 days ago
    Iraq's new Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi assumed office on 6 May after the country's parliament approved a new government. The approval came after around 6 months of political wrangling. Mustafa replaced Adel Abdul Mahdi. Along with Mustafa al-Kadhimi, two other candidates, Mohammed Allawi and Adnan al-Zurfi were nominated by the Iraqi Parliament. But Mohammed Allawi and Adnan al-Zurfi withdrew after failing to win enough support in parliament. Kadhimi Won with the backing of the biggest political blocs The Iraq Parliament also approved 15 ministers out of a prospective 22-seat cabinet in a vote of confidence. Mustafa al-Kadhimi: Mustafa al-Kadhimi is a Shia Muslim and is seen as a political independent and a pragmatist. The 53-year-old is a former journalist. He wrote against former President Saddam Hussein from exile in Iran and the UK before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. He served as head of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service (Inis) from 2016 until April 2020 when he was tasked with forming a government. 

    Irans parliament introduces new currency, Toman, to tackle inflation

    165 days ago
    The Iranian Parliament has announced the decision to replace its currency "Rial" with another basic unit of currency called the "Toman." Each toman will be worth 10,000 rials under the new system. The move aims to ease the psychological impact of soaring consumer prices on a population that has endured high inflation for decades and grappled the number of zeros in government figures.  The move by the Iranian government aims to simplify financial transactions. Once the law is ratified, the Central Bank of Iran will have two years to implement the change. The rial and the new currency is expected to overlap for between two to five years in the market. The new system was authorized to manage high inflation in the country. Background: In 1930, Iran changed its basic monetary unit from dinar to the rial. The change was a part of the modernization of the economy undertaken by the Pahlavi dynasty, which was overthrown by the revolution in 1979. The Iranian government has been planning to replace currency notes since 2016. 

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