Bilateral Current Affairs
April 1st Week 2015 Current Affairs
Category : Bilateral Current Affairs
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1) India, Japan ink action agenda to boost trade, investment

India and Japan on 30th April signed a five-point action agenda to increase bilateral trade and investment between the two nations. The five-point agenda includes development of selected townships in India as Japanese industrial townships, promotion of investment and infrastructure development, further development and cooperation in IT sector, enhancing cooperation in strategic sectors and Asia-Pacific economic integration. The action agenda was signed between Japan`s Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Yoichi Miyazawa and Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
2) Pak’s statement on Kashmir Pandits rejected
India has rejected outright the claim by Pakistan that creation of any "dedicated" townships in Kashmir Valley for displaced Kashmiri Pandits would change the demographic makeup of the state and be in violation of UN resolutions. In a forceful assertion, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Kashmiri Pandits along with Muslims and Sikhs are an integral part of Jammu and Kashmir.

 3) US agrees to re-start talks on social security with India

The US is ready to start talks with India on a bilateral tantalization pact after years of stalling negotiations on the ground that the social security systems of the two countries were not compatible. An agreement on tantalization (also called a social security pact) can help Indian IT companies such as Infosys, Wipro and TCS save up to $4 billion in annual deposits made into the US social security kitty that their Indian workers could neither use nor get refunded.
  • India wants the US to exempt Indian workers on H-1B visas from contributing to social security as they are not eligible for refunds. According to US laws, social security refunds can be claimed by foreign workers after 10 years of service, whereas H-1B visas are given only for six years. The main reason the US stopped discussing the pact with India years ago was its concern that India did not have social security cover for old age, death and disability for most of its workers, and its (US) law did not allow a pact with such countries.
  • India’s argument is that it has a large number of social security schemes such as the Employees’ Provident Fund, the Rashtriya Swasthya BimaYojana, various old age pension schemes and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. 
  • Moreover, the Central government is also moving towards universal social security through the Atal Pension Yojna’, announced in this year’s Budget.
  • India has also been arguing that since it has concluded social security pacts with Canada, France and Germany, which also have similar pacts with the US, there is no reason why it cannot ink one with the US.
4) Singapore to open museum on India`s diverse heritage
Current Affirs Singapore will open a museum on India`s diverse heritage and culture in May. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will launch the Center as a focal point for the Indian community, and a platform to learn more about the diverse Indian heritage in Singapore. Indian architecture and artifacts, would be showcased at the Indian Heritage Center. The first of its kind museum in the country will be inaugurated on 7th of next month.
  • Center director Gauri Krishnan said that museum has 443 artifacts, some of which has come from the South East Asian countries. This reflects strong links with South Asia, especially the centuries old Indian influence on trade and cultural exchanges dated back to the 7th Century.
  • There would also be the Islamic Tiled Façade from Pakistan`s Multan which goes back to the 13th century Sultanate period. The center blends both traditional Indian as well as modern architectural elements. It took seven years to complete the center as first of its kind museum of Indian traditions and cultures.


5) India, Bangladesh finalize deal on coastal shipping to boost export, import

India and Bangladesh on 24th April finalized draft agreement to allow river sea vessels to carry cargo between the two neighbors. The agreement on coastal shipping between the two countries has been finalized during a Secretary level talk in New Delhi. It said, the commencement of coastal shipping between the two countries will give a boost to export and import trade.
  • During the talks, both the countries also agreed on extension of protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade with the provision of automatic renewal. This is in line with the proposed amendment to the Bangladesh-India Trade Agreement.
3) US agrees to re-start talks on social security with India
India has expressed its readiness to boost cooperation with ASEAN in collectively addressing the security challenges facing the region. Addressing the Asia-Africa summit in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on 23rd April, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that India is resolved to match the expectation of its friends in the region to play a more active role. She also formally inaugurated a dedicated mission for the 10-member block in Jakarta. Ms Swaraj said the dedicated Mission reflects India`s sincere commitment to intensify its engagement with ASEAN.
  • The Asia Africa Summit ended on 23rd April with leaders of Asia and Africa endorsing documents aimed at strengthening multilateral relationships between the two regions. Among the leaders in attendance were Chinese President Xi Jinping and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Representatives from more than 80 nations attended the Summit that started on Wednesday in Jakarta.
7) Indian PM visit to Germany
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has appealed to German companies to invest in India and participate in the `Make in India` initiative. As a part of three nations visit, Modi reached Germany.
  • Modi met the top CEOs of German companies who shared their views on how to improve ease of doing business in India. The Prime Minister also unveiled a bust of Mahatma Gandhi in Hannover. India is the partner country in the largest industrial fair in the world. 14 states and 350 companies from India and 120 CEOs are participating in the 5-day fair.