Bilateral Current Affairs
October 3rd Week 2015 Current Affairs
Category : Bilateral Current Affairs
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1) President in Palestine

After successfully concluding visit to Jordan, President Pranab Mukherjee arrived in Ramallah in Palestine. Indian President Mukherjee held meetings with Palestinian President Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, and leaders of major political parties in Palestine. 
President Mukherjee visited the Al-Quds University in Abu-Dis where he was conferred an honourary doctorate.. MoUs concluded during the India-Palestine Higher Education Round Table were exchanged. President also inaugurated the Jawaharlal Nehru Secondary School at Abu Dees. 
India and Palestine share close and warm ties, with India steadfastly supporting the Palestinian cause. India has supported a negotiated solution resulting in a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, side by side at peace with Israel. This is in keeping with Quartet Roadmap and relevant UNSC Resolutions. 
  • India supported Palestine`s bid for full equal membership of United Nations in 2011 and co-sponsored the UNGA Resolution in November 2012 upgrading Palestine to a non-member observer state. 
  • India also supported the resolution in UNGA of raising flags of non-member observer states which resulted in the Palestinian flag being raised this year at UN.  
  • Besides India has always extended bilateral and multilateral support to Palestine, as well as developmental and budgetary support. 
  • Mr Mukherjee and Palestine President Mahmood Abbas inaugurated a roundabout, Maidan-Al-Hind or India Roundabout and named a hitherto unnamed road as Sharey-Al-hind or India Street. 
  • Mr Mukherjee`s historic visit to Palestine is the first ever state visit by an Indian president. 
2) India gives $ 5 million grant to Palestine
India has announced projects worth 17.79 million US dollars in Palestine. President Pranab Mukherjee, who is on a maiden visit to Palestine, committed five projects including a technology park at Ramallah. In addition, a grant of five million US Dollars has also been given to Palestine as Budgetary assistance. 
  • India and Palestine called for a negotiated and peaceful settlement of the Israel-Palestine issue based on internationally agreed upon principles, which would lead to a united and viable state of Palestine. 
3) Pranab Mukherjee visits Israel as first Indian head of state
Indian President Pranab Mukherjee reached Jerusalem on a 3-day state visit to Israel, where he laid wreath at tomb of Theodor Herzl. Mr. Mukherjee and Isralei President Reuven Rivlin rekindled the flame at hall of Remembrance in Yadvashen, in memory of the holocaust victims. 
Crossing over from Palestine after an overnight visit there, the Indian leader arrived in Israel. The visit would serve to deepen bilateral friendship in economic, scientific, medical, agricultural and other fields. A number of MoUs will be signed with Israel, including in the areas of renewable energy, double taxation avoidance, culture exchange programme and educational field. 


  • Mukherjee`s discussions with the Israeli leadership are expected to cover subjects like terrorism and cooperation in various areas.
  • MoUs in the fields of culture, education, science and technology will be signed. India established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992 and since then the relationship has evolved into a multi-dimensional partnership.  
  • India and Israel are engaged in a range of issues of bilateral interest including cooperation in agriculture, science and technology, education and the visit will further cement bonds of cooperation between the two sides and enhance mutual understanding. 

4) India, US talks on social security agreement hit by cross winds

India’s negotiations on a totalisation pact with the US has had a shaky start with Washington rejecting New Delhi’s claim that schemes such as the Atal Pension Yojana and Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana should be considered while determining the size of population covered under the social security net. 
The US says it does not have the legislation mandate to negotiate totalisation agreements, also called social security pacts, with countries that have less than half its population under social security cover. 
  • A totalisation agreement could help Indian IT companies operating in the US save up to $4 billion in annual deposits made into the US’s social security kitty that Indian workers could neither utilise or get refunded.  
  • The team gave a presentation to the US social security officials on schemes such as the RSBY, Atal Pension Yojana, the Employees Provident Fund Organisation and various old age and accident cover schemes. The Commerce Ministry will now step in again and rake up the matter with the US Department of Commerce, pressing for a relaxation in rules. 
  • India wants a social security pact with the US that will exempt Indian workers on H1B visa from contributing to social security as they are not eligible for refunds. According to US laws, social security refund can be claimed by foreign workers after ten years of service whereas the H1B visas are given for only six years. 
5) President conferred honorary doctorate at Hebrew University
On the last leg of his three-nation tour of Jordan, Palestine and Israel, President Pranab Mukherjee on 15th October was conferred a honorary doctorate at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. 
  • President also sought Israel`s participation in Digital India, Smart Cities and Model Village initiatives.
  • In his six day vis it, President discussed entire gamut of bilateral, regional and international issues with leaders of these countries. 
6) Telangana inks MoU on cyber security
The Government of Telangana on 16th October signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with The Hague Security Delta, a cluster in Netherlands, where businesses, government and knowledge institutions work together in the area of cyber security. 
  • As part of this initiative, the Government of Telangana would work closely with The Hague Security Delta to share knowledge in cyber security, implementation of best practices in cyber security and work together in combating the cyber threats and vulnerabilities. 

7) India, Germany Sign 18 MoUs in various sectors

 Current Affirs India and Germany on 5th October signed 18 MoUs in various sectors including renewable energy, skill development, higher education, civil aviation, railways, food safety and promotion of German language in India and modern Indian languages in Germany. 
The MoUs were signed at the end of third Indo-German Inter-governmental Consultations in New Delhi which was co-chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. 
  • Germany has pledged about one billion Euros (7,300 crore rupees) assistance for India`s solar projects as part of the bilateral cooperation in energy sector. 
  • The joint statement issued after the meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said both the countries will continue to intensify their cooperation in developing climate-friendly and sustainable solutions for India`s expanding energy needs. 
  • Besides, both sides welcomed the MoU on an Indo-German solar energy partnership based on concessional loans in the range of one billion euros over the next 5 years. India and Germany recognise that renewable energy and the efficient use of energy are most effective approaches to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in both the countries. 
8) Reducing Greenhouse gas emissions: Indo-German Climate and Renewable Alliance
Recognizing "renewable energy" and "efficient use of energy" as the most effective routes to mitigate climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions, India and Germany decided to move on this path more aggressively under the new `Indo-German Climate and Renewable Alliance`. 
They identified seven focus areas to intensify their ongoing cooperation. Germany, on its part, will provide soft loans worth one billion euros to India for solar projects over the next five years in addition to 1.15 billion euros that Berlin had committed earlier under `Green Energy Corridors Partnership`. 
  • The alliance will be a comprehensive partnership to harness "technology, innovation and finance" in order to make affordable, clean and renewable energy accessible to all and to foster climate change mitigation efforts in both countries.  
  • Interestingly, both the countries also underlined that "adaptation" must be a central part of a balanced Paris climate agreement - a point which has consistently been raised by India despite being resisted by many rich nations who want a mitigation-centric deal. 
  • The agreement on renewable energy, signed between India and Germany, is in tune with what New Delhi had promised in its climate action plan (called Intended Nationally Determined Contribution - INDC) in the first week of October, 2015
  • India had told the UN body on climate change on October 1 that the country would increase its share of clean energy by nearly 40% of its total energy mix by the year 2030, provided it gets support of finance and technology from the developed countries. New Delhi also highlighted that the country would need $ 2.5 trillion for this purpose by 2030. 
  • This is where the new `Indo-German Climate and Renewable Alliance` will come as a boost for India`s efforts to move on a low carbon growth path. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too flagged this issue in his statement at a joint press briefing with visiting German chancellor Angela Merkel here on Monday while recognizing Germany`s cooperation. 
9) Microsoft Ties up with Telangana to offer Smart City Solutions
Microsoft India and the State government have joined hands to help transform Telangana into a technology-enabled state. Developing smart cities is important to drive the state’s growth. Telangana government released a concept note on “Accelerate India - Technology for Growth,” with solutions available for smart cities from 21 startups. 
  • Meanwhile, a slew of startups, government officials and Microsoft officials took part in a Smart City Startups Conclave to map smart solutions for cities in Telangana.
  • The discussion focused on solutions and apps in the areas of transport, healthcare, public safety, water and energy by startups from the Microsoft Ventures’ Portfolio which included, Celstream, iBot and FlamencoTech. 
10) India, US to work on regulatory info exchange
India and the US will work on establishing a channel of communication between the regulatory bodies of the two countries. The aim is to minimise instances of sudden restrictions imposed on exports of agricultural products and pharmaceuticals. 
At the recent India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue in Washington, it was decided that the working group on standards — one of the six groups established to strengthen bilateral ties — will work on a mechanism for regular exchanges between the regulators of both sides. 
  • Indian exports of farm products such as Basmati rice, shrimps, spices and fruits have, in the past, faced sudden curbs due to reports of higher-than-allowed levels of contaminants found in shipments. 
  • Pharmaceuticals is another area that has taken a hit due to sudden restrictions imposed by the USFDA on Indian companies, more often on procedural matters than quality issues. Domestic majors such as Sun Pharma and Emcure Pharmaceuticals have been at the receiving end of USFDA action for allegedly violating standard manufacturing practices. 
  • It was decided at the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue — co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman from the Indian side and Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker from the US side — that the working group on standards will start work immediately on the exchange.