International Current Affairs
April 1st week 2015 current affairs
Category : International Current Affairs
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1) The earthquake, that hit Nepal on 25th April has killed more than 7,000 people and injured more than twice of that number.

  • The magnitude of quake is 7.8M. Its epicenter lay in Barpak village of Gorkha district and its hypo center was at a depth of approximately 15 km (9.3 mi).
  • It was the most powerful disaster to strike Nepal since the 1934 Nepal–Bihar earthquake. Some casualties have also been reported in the adjoining areas of India, China, and Bangladesh.
  • The earthquake triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, killing at least 19, making it the deadliest day on the mountain in history. It triggered another huge avalanche in Langtang valley, where 250 are now missing. Hundreds of thousands of houses were destroyed rendering people homeless with entire villages flattened, across many districts of the country. Centuries-old buildings were destroyed at UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley, including some at the Kathmandu Durbar Square, the Patan Durbar Square and the Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Geophysicists and other experts had warned for decades that Nepal was vulnerable to a deadly earthquake, particularly because of its geology, urbanization, and architecture.
2) India started Operation Maitri
  • India on 27th April gave a massive thrust to its rescue and relief mission in quake-devastated Nepal - `Operation Maitri` - pressing into service 12 heavy-duty military aircraft and 18 helicopters besides opening up four land routes to connect to Kathmandu and Pokhara valley to reach out to the affected with men and material. 
  • The government has deployed 10 teams of the National Disaster Response Force, each comprising 45 well-equipped personnel trained in disaster rescue operations. Three more NDRF teams were rushed
  • Indian soldiers were able to reach parts of the worst-affected Pokhra region, the epicentre of the temblor, by helicopters and dropped relief material. The Indian Army set up a camp at the epicentre.
  • The focus was to restore the power in Kathmandu and other parts of the Himalayan state with the help of a team of Power Grid officials. New Delhi has also sent another team from Indian Oil to ensure continuous fuel supply.
  • The government has sent one RO plant for restoring drinking water supply and oxygen regenerators. Army personnel on Monday reached interiors of the Himalayan country. While the main Taskforce Hq operated from Kathmandu, a sub-hq was set up at Barpak Village in Gorkha district, the epicenter of the quake. An engineering task force, consisting of 40 soldiers, five earth-movers and generators, is already operational 5-km outside Kathmandu. Ten more such taskforces are planned as Kathmandu-Pokhara road has been restored. 
  • Six choppers were inducted in Pokhara for rescue and relief operations with the rest operating in Kathmandu and surrounding areas. The Army is setting up three field hospitals, consisting of 18 medical teams with surgeons, with one already set up at Radalgrah, near Lalitpur. In addition the Air Force has airlifted a rapid aero-medical team.
  • The Army has deployed six ambulances while the Shashtra Seema Bal is sending 10 more to the quake- affected areas. The home ministry has asked SSB to assist in rescue efforts through India`s land routes to Nepal. Supply of relief material will be carried out through these land routes.
3) UN Report on Nepal earth quake
  • Up to eight million people have had their lives disrupted after a deadly earthquake shook Nepal, said the United Nations, adding there was an urgent need for relief materials ranging from tarpaulin sheets and clean water to soap and medicines. 
  • According to initial estimations and based on the latest earthquake intensity mapping, eight million people in 39 districts have been affected, of which over two million people live in the 11 severely affected districts. The 7.9 magnitude quake struck just before noon on 25th April, sending buildings crashing down in the capital Kathmandu and flattening mud-and-brick homes in outer villages. Over 3,700 people have died and at least 6,000 are injured.
  • The U.N. Children`s Fund (UNICEF) said supplies of food and clean drinking water were dwindling after the quake, which was the worst to hit the Himalayan region in more than 80 years. The World Food Programme was providing food and trucks for distribution, UNICEF is sending tents and health care supplies, and the World Health Organization has distributed medical supplies for 40,000 people.
  • Many international charities who were already working in Nepal, such as Save the Children and SOS Children`s Villages International, said they had pre-positioned emergency stocks such as baby food, hygiene kits and clothing and had begun delivery.
4) USD 415 mn needed for Nepal quake relief: UN
  • According to a UN estimate, over 5,000 people have been killed and over 10,000 others injured in the quake and the subsequent aftershocks in Nepal, hence the UN appealed to the international community for USD 415 million to provide quick relief to those affected by the Nepal earthquake in an effort to address a critical need for shelter, water, emergency health services and food security, over the next three months. According to estimates,
  • Almost 70,000 houses have been destroyed
  • Another 530,000 homes have been damaged across 39 of Nepal`s 75 districts.
  • According to the UN, Nepal needs USD 128 million for food security, USD 50 million for shelter and USD 63 million for water sanitation, to provide relief in the quake-hit country.
5) 57 historic monuments destroyed in Nepal quake
  • Nepal’s centuries of architectural heritage having historic importance in the Kathmandu Valley were reduced to rubble by recent earthquake. A total of 57 monuments of the Kathmandu Valley have been destroyed. Several historic temples and ancient palace complexes destroyed in a 7.9 magnitude quake on 25th April were also damaged in the 1934 temblor, and hastily rebuilt. The temples and palaces have frequently been destroyed every 100 years or so, and they have always been rebuilt.


6) U.S., Japan agree on new defense rules

  • The United States and Japan unveiled new rules for defense cooperation on 27th April in a historic move that will give Japanese armed forces a more ambitious global role amid concerns over China’s rising sway. Under the revised guidelines, Japan could come to the aid of U.S. forces threatened by a third country or, for example, deploy minesweeper ships to a mission in the Middle East. 
  • According to both nations, the new doctrine is not aimed at China, there has been increasing concern over moves by Beijing to try to scoop up disputed areas of the South China and East China Seas. But they pointedly made mention of North Korea as another source of tension in the region. Under the previous rules, Japanese forces could assist American troops only if they were operating in the direct defense of Japan. The amended guidelines were drawn up to reflect a reinterpretation of Japan’s Constitution by Mr. Abe’s government last year, which allows for “collective defence.”
  • The new defence guidelines are part of Mr. Abe’s bid to soften Japan’s constitutional commitment to pacifism. Tokyo’s readiness to embrace what Mr. Abe calls “proactive pacifism” comes amid growing anxiety in Japan and across Asia over China’s rising military and economic might.
7) Russia unveils new Armata tank for WW2 Victory Day celebrations
  • Russia has unveiled a new-generation battle tank called Armata T-14 ahead of World War II Victory Day celebrations on 9 May. It is among several new weapons systems featuring in a vast parade on 9 May. It is 70 years since the Soviet and Allied armies defeated Nazi Germany in 1945. Most Western leaders will not go to Moscow because of the Ukraine crisis. Russia`s former World War Two allies - the UK, France and US - will be conspicuously absent from the event. The Red Square spectacle is expected to be the biggest military parade ever held.
  • The Armata tank has an unmanned turret and a 125mm smooth-bore cannon that can fire guided missiles as well as shells. Its computer technology, speed and maneuverability are said to be far superior to those of the T-90, the current mainstay of the Russian army. Russia plans to bring in about 2,300 Armatas, starting in 2020, to replace Soviet-era tanks.

8) Sri Lanka adopts 19th Amendment

  • The Sri Lankan Parliament on 28th April adopted the 19th Constitutional Amendment. The legislation envisages the dilution of many powers of Executive Presidency, which had been in force since 1978.
  • The 225-strong Parliament cleared the Bill with 212 members voting in favor of the legislation. Ten members were absent. While one voted against the Bill, another member abstained from the voting. The 14-member Tamil National Alliance (TNA) also supported the Bill.
  • Among the important features of the Bill are…
  •     The reduction in the terms of President and Parliament from six years to five years
  •     Re-introduction of a two-term limit that a person can have as President
  •     The power of President to dissolve Parliament only after four and a half years [unlike one year, as prevalent now];
9) The revival of Constitutional Council and the establishment of independent commissions
  • 56% of world’s rural population has no health care access: ILO
  • According to International Labor Organization, more than half of the world’s rural population (56 per cent) does not have access to health care facilities compared with 22 per cent of the urban population. ILO found the most extreme disparities in the Asia-Pacific region, which includes India.
  • The stark neglect of the health care needs of the rural population, especially in developing countries, is also evident by the fact that only 23 per cent of health workers are deployed in these areas, where over 50 per cent of the world’s population lives, says the report “Global Evidence on Inequities in Rural Health Protection: New Data on Rural Deficits in Health Coverage for 174 Countries.” 
  • According to the report, in India, 87.5 per cent of the population did not have legal health coverage in 2010, with 93.1 per cent in rural areas alone. 
  • The lack of legal coverage, insufficient numbers of health workers, inadequate funding, and high out of pocket (OOPs) have created life-threatening inequities in many countries
  • The extent of impoverishing OOPs account for 46 per cent of total health expenditure in Asia.
  • According to World Bank estimates, OOPs in India stood at 85.9 per cent in 2013.
  • Also, the deficits in per capita health spending are twice as large in rural areas as compared to urban areas. The deficits observed result in unnecessary suffering and death, as reflected in rural maternal mortality rates that are 2.5 times higher than urban rates
  • In addition, the report found a global shortfall of about seven million health workers, such as midwives and nurses, in rural areas, compared with a lack of three million skilled staff in urban areas. ILO has identified the need for 41.1 health workers per 10,000
  • Pointing out the sharp rural-urban disparity in health care as one of the key reasons for the rural population being unable to contribute to urgently needed economic growth, wealth and development, the report called for universal social protection through national health services and national and social health insurance schemes.
10) Iran attempted to buy nuclear technology: U.K.
  • Britain has informed the United Nations Iranian of attempts a year ago to buy uranium enrichment technology on the black market, it was reported on 30th April.
  • Such procurement efforts would, if confirmed, represent a violation of UN security council resolutions placing Iran under sanctions, but analysts said they were unlikely to derail a comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers. 
  • Under the agreement, due to be completed by 30 June, Iran would accept strict limits on its nuclear programme, particularly on uranium enrichment, in return for sanctions relief.
  • In an annual report, obtained by the Reuters news agency, a UN panel of experts responsible for monitoring compliance with the sanctions regime, revealed:
  • KEC is under Security Council sanctions while TESA is under American and European Union sanctions because of their suspected involvement in developing centrifuges for a uranium enrichment programme banned by the UN. The UN panel said the British report was too recent to have been assessed independently. 
  • According to the broad parameters of the nuclear deal provisionally agreed in Lausanne on 2 April, Iran would accept a 70% cut in its uranium enrichment capacity, and a reduction in its stockpile of low-enriched uranium of up to 97%, in return for the lifting of sanctions. The exact sequence of reciprocal steps is one of the main issues that have to be resolved before the deadline.