Bilateral Current Affairs
January 4th Week 2015 Current Affairs
Category : Bilateral Current Affairs
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1) India’s role key in nuclear disarmament: UN chief

Recognising its growing stature, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asked India to play a major role in ensuring nuclear disarmament in South Asia, bringing back peace and stability in Afghanistan and combating key global challenges like terrorism, climate change and poverty.
  • Expressing deep concern over rise in violent extremism and radicalization in the region, Ban said India must shoulder the responsibility to help South Asia stop developing nuclear arsenals.
  • In an address to a select group of diplomats and foreign affairs experts at the Indian Council of World Affairs in New Delhi on 12th January, the UN Secretary General identified terrorism as major global challenge and said the terror attack in Paris was to strike at the "heart of our freedom". 
  • Earlier, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held expansive discussion with Ban during which issues such as growing global concern over terrorism, UN Peacekeeping Mission and UN reforms figured among others. India has been seeking reform of the UN Security Council to reflect realities of the modern world. 
  • India stressed on the need for a decision-making mandate in the evolving UN doctrine on peacekeeping. India has been one of the largest contributors to UN Peacekeeping missions. 
  • The issue of "Indian air component" which had been withdrawn by India in Congo in peace keeping mission also figured in the talks.
  • In his lecture on "India and the United Nations in a Changing World", Ban also mentioned about 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai and killing of school children in Peshawar recently and said a secure regional environment and stability in South Asia will help India reach its "ambitions and goals". 
  • Ban also said India can play an important role in ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan. Appreciating India`s contribution to UN Peacekeeping Missions, he said he had set up a panel, also comprising an Indian, to ensure better support to those involve in such efforts. Around 8,000 Indian security force personnel are currently engaged in UN Peacekeeping missions.
  • Mentioning about India`s strength, Ban said the country can be a "driver of peace" in the region and in the world as it is a champion of human values. He said the country can also play a leadership role to encourage sustainable development globally. 
  • Admitting that all Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) will not be achieved by 2015, he said India must be congratulated for eradicating polio and bringing down infant mortality and maternal mortality rates. The MDGs are eight international development goals that were set following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000.

2) US, India to discuss progress on defense, nuke cooperation

The US and India will try to make progress in defence and civil nuclear cooperation when President Barack Obama visits Delhi this month end, Secretary of State John Kerry said on 12th January. He also said that they expected India to sign a landmark climate change agreement in Paris at the end of this year and this would be part of the discussions Obama will have with Prime Minister Modi.
  • Obama will be in India as chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations this year. He will also have discussions with Modi on bilateral and other issues.
  • After the landmark nuclear deal between the two countries in 2008, cooperation in the sector has been stalled over the tough provisions in the Civil Nuclear Liability Act that have come as a dampener for foreign operators. 
  • Kerry said the fact this is the second visit of the President after Modi`s visit to Washington displays the value both countries place to the criticality of the relationship. He also said that US investment in India has risen from 300 million to 9 billion, while India`s investment in the US has risen from 2.4 billion to 25 billion.
3) USAID help for clean India Mission
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on 13th January signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Urban Development to assist the government with knowledge exchange and sharing of best practices for water and sanitation services.
Under the MoU, performance indicators and city ranking systems will be introduced for incentivizing participation in Swachh Bharat Mission and promoting competition between cities. Promoting public-private partnerships, USAID will help develop creative messaging for behavior changes to increase demand for toilets and supply of sanitation products and services.
  • The agency is likely to spend about $2 million per year on these activities. A separate Memorandum of Cooperation was signed with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation under which the latter will provide technical and management support in the implementation of the mission, fund the National Level Program Management Unit for coordination of decentralized and non-sewered sanitation solutions, award grants to organizations selected by the ministry for delivering sanitation services and release grant funds to grantees such as NGOs, public or private organisations annually, based on satisfactory performance in respect of milestones specified.
4) Kerry discusses Indo-US ties, economic growth with Modi
Days ahead of US President Barack Obama`s India visit, Secretary of State John Kerry on 11th January met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and discussed "ties between the world`s oldest and largest democracies" with regard to economic growth and climate issues, among others.
  • Obama will be the first US President to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations on January 26. Kerry said he also went for a "moving visit to Gandhi Ashram" earlier in the day and participated in a discussion with "dynamic Indian women" regarding furthering economic opportunity and empowerment. He was accompanied by Nisha Biswal, the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, among other senior US officials.
5) Pakistan restricts bus service from India to Wagah
For the first time since the Pak-India Dosti bus service was launched between New Delhi and Lahore, Pakistan has restricted its entry here and Nankana Sahib city, citing increased “terror threats. The Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation has said the Pak-India Dosti bus service will now on be operated only up to Wagah Border. The bus service between the two countries was started on March 16, 1999 primarily to enhance people-to-people contact.
6) International Camel Festival at Rajasthan
International Camel Festival has begun in Rajasthan. The tourists, arrived to Bikaner from countries such as Australia, Germany, Canada and England. The two-day annual camel extravaganza began on January 4 and concluded on January 5.
Apart from camel race, camel dance, camel decoration competitions and camel wrestling, and several village sport events were also organised at the festival.
  • Situated around 320 kilometres from Jaipur, Bikaner has been a major trade hub since the sixteenth century. It boasts of a number of places of tourist attraction, including forts, palaces, temples and museums apart from the Centre of Camel Research instituted by the Government of India.