International Current Affairs
International Current Affairs January 3rd Week 2016
Category : International Current Affairs
posted Date :
Total No.of views :
Total No.of Comments :
0 / 5 (0 votes)

1) The World Health Organization (WHO) declared West Africa free from Ebola outbreak.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) declared West Africa free from Ebola outbreak. The decision was taken by the WHO as all known chains of transmission have been stopped in Liberia, which was worst affected among all the nations in the region.
  • The declaration came 42 days (two 21-day incubation cycles of the virus) after the last confirmed patient in Liberia tested negative for the disease 2 times.
  • Since its outbreak in December 2013 in the region, Liberia was worst hit as it killed 4809 people in the country. And, the region as a whole saw around 11000 deaths due to the outbreak.
  • Apart from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea were the other two most affected nations in the region. They were declared Ebola free in November 2015 and December 2015 respectively.
2) Government of Nepal formed a 4-member eminent persons group (EPG).
  • Government of Nepal formed a 4-member eminent persons group (EPG) to look into India-Nepal ties in totality and review all bilateral treaties with India.
  • A decision in this regard was approved by the Cabinet at a meeting headed by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.
Terms of reference of the EPG:
  • The group will review the entire gamut of bilateral treaties including the 1950 Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which has been the basis of bilateral relations for the last 65 years.
  • It will hold interactions with various stakeholders and suggest measures to be taken to review or adjust or replace all bilateral treaties.
  • Before finalising its recommendations, it will visit both sides for necessary consultations and study.
  • The group will submit the recommendations to the respective foreign secretaries of Nepal and India.
  • The Nepal Government also sanctioned 1 million US dollars to run the secretariat of the EPG.
Members of the EPG:
  • Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, a former diplomat
  • Surya Nath Uphadhyay, a former top bureaucrat
  • Rajan Bhattarai, a CPN-UML parliamentarian
  • Kul Chandra Gautam, former UN assistant secretary-general
  • The committee was formed in accordance with a decision taken at the third Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) of Nepal and India that was held in Kathmandu in July 2014.
  • The JCM decided to form EPGs with four members on each side at the request of Nepal. Each EPG will have an eminent parliamentarian, a lawyer, an economist and a civil society leader.
3) A new social security agreement signed between India and Australia.
  • A new social security agreement signed between India and Australia has come into operation enabling people of both nations to avail retirement benefits in each other’s country, a pact likely to boost bilateral business linkages.
  • Australian Minister for Social Services Christian Porter and Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer said the Commonwealth government wanted to make sure people who live and work in more than one country are not disadvantaged. The Agreement signed in November 2014 came into operation on January 1, 2016.
  • Australian residents living in India will be able to claim the Australian Age Pension without having to return to Australia, while Indian residents living in Australia will have access to Indian retirement pensions.
Key facts:
  • 24 rabbits that were introduced to Australia in 1859 had multiplied in number to over 2 million in ten years.
  • There’s a river in Australia called the ``Never Never River``.
  • The world’s largest cattle station, Anna Creek Station in Australia, is larger than Israel.
  • Australia’s Highway 1 is the world’s longest national highway. With about 14,500 km.
About Australia:
Capital: Canberra
Prime minister: Malcolm Turnbull
Currency: Australian dollar
4) The GOI signed a loan agreement with JICA for pollution abatement of River Mula-Mutha.
  • The Government of India has signed a loan agreement with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for pollution abatement of River Mula-Mutha in Pune.
  • The Government of Japan has committed to provide a soft loan of 19.064 billion Yen (about Rs. 1000 crore) to Government of India for the project at an interest rate of 0.30% per annum.
  • The loan assistance for the project has been approved by the Union Finance Ministry at an estimated cost of Rs. 990.26 crore.
Project Cost:
  • The project cost will be shared between Government of India and Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), the implementing agency for the project, in the ratio of 85:15 respectively.
  • The share of Central Government in project will be Rs. 841.72 crore and share of PMC would be Rs. 148.54 crore.
  • The loan has to be repaid by Government of India in a period of 40 years, including a 10-year grace period. The project is scheduled to be completed by January, 2022.
Major Components:
  • Construction of 11 new Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs).
  • The project will have a significant, direct beneficial impact in terms of reduction of pollution load in the river and improvement of the quality of its water.
  • Some of the collateral benefits of the project include use of tertiary treated effluent for irrigation and employment opportunities, particularly in the construction stage.
  • The project will also improve the aesthetics and sanitation of Pune.
  • Biogas (methane) from STPs will be used to generate electricity.
About the River:
  • The Mula Mutha river at Pune is one of the 302 polluted river stretches of the country identified by Central Pollution Control Board.
  • The major reasons for pollution of Mula Mutha are discharge of untreated domestic waste water into the river due to inadequate sewerage system (including pumping stations) & sewage treatment capacity in the town, as well as open defecation on the river banks.


5) China reshuffles military headquarters in major revamp.

  • In a major military reform, Chinese President Xi Jinping has reorganised four army headquarters by replacing them with 15 new agencies under the Central Military Commission (CMC) headed by him, tightening his control over the world’s largest force.
  • The new structure includes new commissions such as discipline inspection, politics and law and science and technology and general office.
  • The reform includes formation of five more divisions, administration, auditing, international cooperation, reform, organisational structure and strategic planning.
  • There are six new departments, joint staff, political work, logistical support, equipment development, training, and national defence.
  • Currently China has four army headquarters staff, politics, logistics and armaments. This is part of major reforms initiated by Xi to revamp the 2.3 million-strong and the world largest military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
About China:

Capital: Beijing
Currency: Renminbi
President: Xi Jinping
6) United States (US) has removed a wide range of nuclear sanctions against Iran.
  • United States (US) has removed a wide range of nuclear sanctions against Iran after it has meet its commitments to roll back its nuclear programme.
  • These sanctions were lifted after International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran has met its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) or Vienna agreement with P5+1 countries signed in July 2015.
  • So called P5+1 countries include the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) viz. USA, Russia, China, UK, France and non- permanent member Germany.
Key facts:
  • US has only removed secondary sanctions on Iran that mainly restricts dealings of other countries with Iran.
  • These lifted secondary sanctions include financial services, banking, insurance, energy and petrochemicals, shipping and ports. However, primary sanctions imposed by US on Iran still remains in force.
  • It will also bring proposed India-Pakistan-Iran (IPI) gas pipeline closer to reality.
  • Give impetus to development and construction of strategic Chabbar port which is focal point of India’s gateway to energy rice central Asia and eastern Europe through proposed International North South Trade Corridor (INSTC).
About Iran:
Capital: Tehran
Currency: Iranian rial
President: Hassan Rouhani
7) French President Francois Hollande declared a state of economic emergency.
  • French President Francois Hollande has declared a state of economic emergency to redefine France’s economic and social model.
  • Under the ambit emergency, government has proposed series of economic measures to boost long-stagnant economic growth and reduce chronic unemployment.
  • Proposed economic measures are
  • Training half a million jobless workers, greater use of apprenticeships and aiding companies for hiring young workers.
  • Updating country’s labour-friendly business model in an increasingly online and border-free economy.
  • Loosening rigid working time rules including 35-hour workweek and a bonus of 2,000 euros to small businesses that hire young people.
About France:
Capital: Paris
Prime minister: Manuel Valls
President: Francois Hollande
Currencies: Euro, CFP franc
8) India and Israel face challenges of terrorism, the two countries agreed to intensify coordination to deal with the menace.
  • India and Israel face challenges of terrorism, the two countries agreed to intensify coordination to deal with the menace. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met top Israeli leadership and discussed a wide-range of bilateral and regional issues.
  • Swaraj, who is on her first visit to West Asia as the External Affairs Minister, called on President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top leaders.
  • According to Swaraj, she hopes get an assessment of the situation in the region and identify areas where the two sides can cooperate. India attaches the highest importance to the full development of bilateral ties with Israel.
  • Our bilateral cooperation has grown in a number of areas over the past two decades but the potential of our relations are much more.
  • Netanyahu, who also heads the Foreign Ministry, revealed that there has been a great flowering of relationship and friendship between the two countries in the recent years. The expression of this growing relationship has been in the visit of the (Indian) President, the first ever by an Indian Head of State.
About Israel:
Capital: Jerusalem
Currency: Israeli new shekel
President: Reuven Rivlin
Prime Minister: Benjamin Netanyahu


9) IS holds 3500 slaves in Iraq.

  • The United Nations has revealed details of the ``staggering civilian death toll in Iraq`` over the past two years and estimated some 3500 Iraqis continue to be held captive as ``slaves``, since the Islamic State’s insurgency flared at the beginning of 2014.
  • In a new report this week, the UN revealed that the jihadists’ captives included many women and girls from the persecuted Yazidi sect who have been abducted and forced into sexual slavery.
  • The report found nearly 19,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed in the last two years, while some 3.2 million Iraqis have been displaced.
  • Compiled jointly by the UN mission in Iraq and its Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the report details myriad abuses and atrocities that have ravaged the country in recent years.
  • The Sunni Islamists, who claim responsibility for suicide bombings in Baghdad against Shia mosques and markets, should face prosecution for international crimes, said Francesco Motta, director of the U.N. human rights office in Iraq.
About Iraq:
Capital: Baghdad
Currency: Iraqi dinar
Prime minister: Haider al-Abadi
President: Fuad Masum
10) ISIS has destroyed Iraq’s oldest Christian monastery.
  • Satellite images confirm that the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq has been destroyed by the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).
  • St Elijah’s stood on a hill near the northern city of Mosul for 1,400 years. But analysts revealed the images, obtained by the Associated Press, suggested it had been demolished in late 2014, soon after IS seized the city.
  • A Catholic priest from Mosul warned that its Christian history was “being barbarically levelled”.
  • IS has targeted Christians in Iraq and neighbouring Syria, seizing their property and forcing them to convert to Islam, pay a special tax or flee.
  • The group has also demolished a number of monasteries and churches, as well as renowned pre-Islamic sites including Nimrud, Hatra and Nineveh in Iraq and Palmyra in Syria.
  • St Elijah’s Monastery, or Deir Mar Elia, was believed to have been constructed by Assyrian monks in the late 6th Century. It was later claimed by a Chaldean Catholic order.
About Iraq:
Capital: Baghdad
Currency: Iraqi dinar
Prime minister: Haider al-Abadi
President: Fuad Masum
11) Japan lifted sanctions on Iran.
  • Japan lifted sanctions on Iran, falling in line with major world powers. The announcement was made by Japan`s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
  • The sanctions were lifted after the United Nations atomic energy agency confirmed on 16 January 2016 that Tehran has fully taken steps to curb its disputed nuclear programme.
  • The move will allow Japanese companies to pursue investment in Iran`s oil and gas industry.
  • An investment agreement between Tehran and Tokyo is expected to be signed soon.
  • How the lifting up of sanctions will help Iran
  • Iran emerged from years of economic isolation when the U.S. and other countries lifted crippling sanctions against the Islamic republic.
  • Tens of billions of dollars worth of Iranian assets are now unfrozen and global companies that have been barred from doing business there will be able to exploit a market for everything.
  • With the lifting of the sanctions, Japanese insurance companies will be able to issue policies covering trade deals involving Iran.
  • Following the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the United States imposed sanctions against Iran and expanded them in 1995 to include firms dealing with the Iranian government.
  • In 2006, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1696 and imposed sanctions after Iran refused to suspend its uranium enrichment program.
About Japan:
Capital: Tokyo
Prime minister: Shinzo Abe
Currency: Yen
About Iran:
Capital: Tehran
Currency: Iranian rial
Supreme leader: Ali Khamenei
President: Hassan Rouhani