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International Current Affairs
International Current Affairs August 2nd Week 2017
Author : Admin
Category : International Current Affairs
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International Current Affairs August 2nd Week 2017

1. India to MGC nations: Expand areas of cooperation.

India at 8th Mekong Ganga Cooperation Ministerial Meeting held in Manila, Philippines has called for expanding the areas of cooperation among the member countries of the Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) bloc.

MGC countries have proposed to add newer areas of cooperation to the traditional areas on tourism, culture, education, transport and communication to further deepen mutually beneficial partnership and cooperation.
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India and member states agreed to look forward to sustain this progress in the years to come and in further deepening our mutually beneficial partnership and cooperation. They also have shared the concept notes on formation of task forces on maritime connectivity and extension of (India-Myanmar-Thailand) trilateral highway into Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) blocThe MGC is an initiative by India and five ASEAN countries, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam for cooperation in tourism, culture, education, as well as transport and communications. It was launched in 2000 at Vientiane, Laos. It is named after Ganga and the Mekong which both are civilisational rivers. MGC initiative aims to facilitate closer contacts among the people inhabiting these two major river basins.
 
2. India, Iran call for early operationalisation of Chabahar Port.
 
India, Iran call for early operationalisation of Chabahar Port
 
India and Iran have expressed commitment for early completion and operationalisation of Chabahar Port besides strengthening bilateral ties.

Both countries in a series of meetings held during the Union Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari two-day visit to Iran to attend the inauguration of Hassan Rouhani second tenure as President.

Both countries reviewed and assessed the progress in implementation of the decisions taken during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Iran in 2016, including the progress in the development of Chabahar Port. India also has conveyed its readiness to aid Iran in taking up operations in Chabahar Port during the interim period between the actual activation of contract.

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India had requested Iran for an early submission of loan application for Chabahar Port Development to Exim Bank of India so that the contract agreement can be activated.  The Iranian side earlier had requested India to provide up to $150 million credit and had made it a condition for activation of the Chabahar Port contract. The application for loan to Exim Bank of India is still awaited.

Chabahar Port.
Chabahar port is strategically located in the southeastern Sistan-Balochistan province, on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran’s border with Pakistan. In May 2016, India and Iran had signed a bilateral agreement, under which India agreed to refurbish one of the berths at Shahid Beheshti port, and reconstruct a 600-metre long container handling facility at the port.
 
3. Mastercard, PayPal expand partnership into Asia Pacific.
 
Mastercard, PayPal expand partnership into Asia Pacific
 
Mastercard and PayPal have extended their partnership into Asia Pacific to enhance the consumer experience and make Mastercard a clear payment option with PayPal.

The deal will expand PayPal`s presence at the point of sale and enable Masterpass for Braintree merchants in the region.Additionally, both companies will collaborate to create opportunities to leverage Mastercard`s new payment flow technologies, providing increased value to Mastercard cardholders, financial institutions, and PayPal customers.
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PayPal will also have the opportunity to give consumers and small businesses across Asia Pacific the ability to cash out funds held in their PayPal accounts to a Mastercard debit card.
 
4. World’s Shortest Woman Unveils 51-Feet High Book.
 
World’s Shortest Woman Unveils 51-Feet High Book
 
The world`s shortest woman Jyoti Amge today unveiled a 51-feet high book at a programme here. 

The book `Kadve Vachan` written by Jain saint Acharya Tarun Sagar Maharaj was unveiled by her in the presence of BJP state president Ashok Parnami. 

Amge is considered to be the world`s shortest woman alive by the Guinness World Records at 62.8 cm. It is the ninth volume of the book written in Hindi. 

The book contains various "bitter" discourses about life and guides people for better living, Sagar said.
 
5. Dawn of cruise tourism in India’ inaugurated in Mumbai.
 
Dawn of cruise tourism in India’ inaugurated in Mumbai
 
India will become part of a major international cruise in just about a year when a cruise themed on cricket and entertainment, with several cricket and Bollywood stars, including Sachin Tendulkar on board, sets sail for Mumbai from Singapore. 

Operated by Monarch Cruise, the ship will set sail in March 2017. Besides cricketers such as Shane Warne, Kumar Sangakkara and Brett Lee, there would be several Bollywood stars and Michelin star chefs on board. 

"There is a lot of excitement, not only among the Monarch team, but also for the cricketers and the stars," Tendulkar told ET. "With sportsman, Bollywood stars, chefs, DJs and comedians coming together, it`s going to be formidable experience on board," he said. 

This would be the first major attempt to kick-start international cruise tourism in India, which has not been tested due to lack of well-equipped ports, and long customs and emigration processes. However, with the Centre initiating coastal circuit policy that has identified Goa (Mormugao), Mumbai and Kochi as possible ports of call for global cruise lines, the industry is expected to take off in the country soon. 
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"India has a huge untapped potential when it comes to the cruising industry and with the government being proactive to support the industry, it helps players like us," said Josh Hill, vice-chairman at Monarch Cruise.The Monarch Cruise journey, which offers seven different itineraries, will include trips to destinations in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, apart from India. 

Hill said "injecting cricket and Bollywood" will give the cruise an altogether different experience from the usual "lifestyle experience" that cruises generally offer. He said the company will invest close to $15 million in this cruise project and plans to come up with newer themed cruises in future. 
 
6. India ranks 43rd in 2017 Global Retirement Index.
India ranks 43rd in 2017 Global Retirement Index
India was ranked last at 43rd position in 2017 Global Retirement Index (GRI) published by French asset management company Natixis Global.

The index ranks 43 countries on the basis of four factors viz. the material means to live comfortably in retirement (Material Well-being); access to to quality financial services to help preserve savings value and maximize income (Finances) and a clean and safe environment (Quality of Life ).
The 43 countries include members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), International Monetary Fund (IMF) advanced economies and the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
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Key Highlights of 2017 GRI
Top three countries in 2017 GRI are Norway, Switzerland and Iceland. India ranks 43rd and has the same score compared to 2016 GRI. India also ranks the lowest among the BRIC economies.

India’s rank in all sub-indices is also in the bottom five. India position in all sub-indices is Material Well-being (41st), Health (43rd), Finances (39th) and Quality of Life (43rd). 

India has the lowest income per capita of all countries in the GRI. Additionally, its score for the income equality indicator has declined compared to 2016 GRI. It has the lowest scores for all indicators within the sub-index including in insured health expenditure compared to 2016 GRI. 

India ranks first in old-age dependency, second in tax pressure and sixth in interest rates. Interms of governance indicator India ranks as the fifth worst among all countries in the GRI. It also has the tenth-lowest score for the bank non-performing loans indicator. India ranked last in the Quality of Life sub-index. 

India’s environmental factors indicator has improved due to progress in CO2 emissions per GDP. But it still ranks in bottom for happiness, water and sanitation, and air quality as well as scores second-worst for biodiversity and habitat among all GRI countries.
 
7. India ratifies 2nd commitment period of Kyoto Protocol.
 
India ratifies 2nd commitment period of Kyoto Protocol
 
India has ratified the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (or Doha Amendment) that commits countries to contain the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs). In this regard, India deposited its Instrument of Acceptance of the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol is an international GHGs emissions reduction treaty linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It commits its Parties by setting internationally binding GHGs emission reduction targets. It was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997 and entered into force in February 2005.

The protocol is based on principle of equity and Common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities(CBDR). It places obligations on developed nations to undertake mitigation targets to reduce emissions and provide financial resources and technology to developing nations. Developing countries like India have no mandatory mitigation obligations or targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
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The first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol was from 2008-2012. The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol or Doha Amendment for 20132020 period was adopted in 2012. The amendment includes new commitments for parties to the Protocol who agreed to take on commitments in a second commitment period and a revised list of GHGs to be reported on by Parties.

The ratification of second protocol reaffirms India’s stand on climate action. It also further underlines India’s leadership in the comity of nations committed to global cause of environmental protection and climate justice. It will encourage other developing countries also to undertake this exercise. Under the second commitment period, implementation of clean development mechanism (CDM) projects will help Indian attract some investments.

8. India ratifies 2nd commitment period of Kyoto Protocol.

India ratifies 2nd commitment period of Kyoto Protocol
India has ratified the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol that commits countries to contain the emission of greenhouse gases, reaffirming its stand on climate action. 

In a brief statement, India`s Permanent Mission to the UN said that India deposited its Instrument of Acceptance of the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol under the UN Convention on Climate Change here yesterday. 

With this, India became the 80th country to accept the amendment relating to the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, the international emissions reduction treaty. "India`s acceptance reaffirms our continued commitment to climate action," the Indian mission said in a statement. 
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India`s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, who handed over India`s Instrument, tweeted "maintaining momentum on Climate Change. India submits instrument of acceptance of Doha Amendment to Kyoto Protocol".

The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets. 
 
9. Amazon launches Virtual Customer Service in India.
 
Amazon launches Virtual Customer Service in India
 
Amazon on Wednesday announced the launch of virtual customer service (VCS) model, an initiative launched to create cost efficient employment prospects for skilled candidates seeking more flexible work opportunities.

With the initiative, Amazon is reaching out to a wider talent pool to ensure a high rate of diversity while also roping in talent who might not be able to physically attend regular office for various reasons, it said in a statement.

VCS has currently been launched in Hyderabad, Pune, Coimbatore and Noida and is hiring for entry level job opportunities along with opportunities for team managers and group managers in these cities, it said.
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“We believe in opening up comfortable channels of employment to people and VCS is an opportunity for those who are unable to come to office every day due to personal reasons but are passionate about their work,” Priti R., the director, talent acquisition APAC, Amazon, said in a statement.“We hope that this initiative will help many people resume their career and find an earning with the comfort of being at home,” he said.

With this initiative, Amazon aims to provide and enhance a proficient support experience to customers. The virtual customer service would help reduce customers’ effort, make it simpler to detect and quickly resolve the problems, apart from anticipating their needs and educating them on relevant products, programmes and services offered by Amazon.
 
10. Oxford University launches Tamil, Gujarati Online Dictionaries.
 
Oxford University launches Tamil, Gujarati Online Dictionaries
 
After the Hindi version, Oxford University Press (OUP) has launched online dictionaries in Tamil and Gujarati as part of its special focus on Indian languages.

The Oxford Global Languages (OGL) initiative began in September 2015 with an aim to build dictionaries and lexicographical resources for around 100 of the world’s languages and to make them available online.

The programme’s objective is to transform the experience of millions of people worldwide by making content in their language available in digital form—on websites, in apps, and in many different tools and services—OUP said.

“OGL is a bold initiative from Oxford University Press for a modern challenge and a huge opportunity,” Judy Pearsall, Director for Oxford Dictionaries, said.

“Digital communication across the globe is dominated by English and other major global languages such as Chinese and Spanish. We are at a critical time in the nexus of the Internet and its impact on language diversity and viability, and the time to act is now. As we develop more languages for OGL, we are putting a special focus on Indian languages” Pearsall said.

“India has a remarkable linguistic landscape with a richness and history that is found in few other places on the planet. Yet with only 35 per cent of the Indian population using the Internet, OGL’s mission to help digital communication through building resources for the world’s languages is clearer than ever,” she said.

The Tamil and Gujarati versions follow the launch of the Hindi online dictionary last year.
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“The availability of curated and well-researched language content in digitised formats not just enables anytime access but also positively impacts learning and educational outcomes,” Sivaramakrishnan Venkateswaran, Managing Director of Oxford University Press India, added.

The OGL initiative will also build a new type of language database which enables multiple links between languages and other content. Oxford Dictionaries has developed an innovative new Lexical Engine and Platform (LEAP) where datasets can be integrated, standardised and shared. In a nutshell, multiple languages can be stored and queried in a single platform.

“The addition of Gujarati and Tamil to the Oxford Dictionaries API gives a rapidly growing developer community access to this language data in a structured and flexible way, possibly for the first time, and enables the creation of content and applications that serve a huge language population,” added Philip Reimann, Senior Product Manager.
 
11. 15th BIMSTEC Ministerial meeting begins in Kathmandhu.
 
15th BIMSTEC Ministerial meeting begins in Kathmandhu
 
The 15th edition of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) ministerial meeting was held in Kathmandu, Nepal. 

The two-day meet was inaugurated by Prime Minister of Nepal Sher Bahadur Deuba and will be chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Krishna Bahadur Mahara. India was represented by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

The meeting will review the progress and achievements in the identified areas of cooperation and discuss the ways to accelerate the partnership under the BIMSTEC process. The key areas expected to be focused in the meeting are trade, investment, energy, transport, tourism, poverty alleviation and counter-terrorism. 
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The main agenda of this edition of the meeting is to finalise a free trade agreement among the BIMSTEC member countries. It will also include negotiations on market access for professionals and reducing the duty on trading goods.

The BIMSTEC is a sub-regional grouping comprising of seven countries of South Asia and South East Asia. It was established on 6 June 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration. It is headquartered at Dhaka, Bangladesh.

BIMSTEC mainly comprises of seven countries viz. Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, 
Myanmar and Thailand lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal. 

Its objectives are technological and economical cooperation among south Asian and south East Asian countries along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. It also covers cooperation in commerce, technology, investment, agriculture, tourism, human resource development, fisheries, transport and communication, textiles, leather etc.
 
12. 12th August: International Youth Day.
12th August: International Youth Day
The International Youth Day is observed across the world on 12 August to draw attention to a given set of cultural and legal issues surrounding youth.

The theme for this year is ‘Youth Building Peace‘. It aims at celebrating young people’s contributions in preventing conflicts and bringing about transformations along with social justice, inclusion and sustainable peace. It also reaffirms the important role youth can play in deterring and resolving conflicts, and are key constituents in ensuring the success of both peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts.

The International Youth Day (IYD) was instituted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) by passing resolution 54/120 in December 1999. It was first observed on 12 August, 2000.

The day was instituted by UNHA on the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth held in Lisbon (Portugal) from 8 to 12 August 1998.

13. India, Russia for first time conduct tri-services exercise.

India, Russia for first time conduct tri-services exercise
 
India and Russia for first time are going to conduct Indra tri-services exercise, involving their armies, navies and the air forces in October 2017 to further ramp up military ties. 

It will be for the first time India will participate in a tri-services exercise with a foreign country with such large scale participation by Army, Navy and Air Force.

The 2017 Indra exercise will be held in Russia including in mountainous Vladivostok region. It will primarily focus on achieving coordination between forces of the two countries in a tri- services integrated theatre command scenario.

A total of 350 Indian Army personnel will participate at the mega exercise. The contingents by the Indian Navy and AirForce (IAF) will also be sizeable in numbers. Russian army, navy and air force also for time holding tri-services exercise with other country.
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The exercise will take place in the midst of evolving unpredictable security situation in the region. It will be conducted at a time when India’s ties with China have nosedived over the border dispute issue and also at time when its ties with Pakistan have deteriorated over cross-border terrorism and number of other issues.

India is significantly ramping up its defence capability and has lined up billions of dollars of procurement proposals as part of military modernisation. Russia has been a long-standing defence partner of India and both the countries are now eyeing to further deepen the ties. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia in June 2017, both countries had decided to “upgrade and intensify” defence cooperation through joint manufacture, co-production and co-development of key military hardware and equipment. A vision document, issued then also had mentioned that both the countries also decided to work towards a qualitatively higher level of military-to-military cooperation.
 
14. World Health Organisation declared Somalia as Free Polio.
 
World Health Organisation declared Somalia as Free Polio
 
The UN World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Sunday it had not recorded any case of polio disease in Somalia in the last three years, declaring the country polio free.

The WHO said the country recorded the last case of polio in 2014 in the central part of the country but has since then remained free of the paralyzing disease.

The UN health agency, however, warned Somalia remained vulnerable, calling for continued vaccination campaign, Xinhua reported.

The head of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean, which covers Somalia, Mohamed Fiqi said that massive vaccination campaigns and commitment from government and international actors had ensured the polio virus did not recur in the Horn of Africa country.

"As the world edges closer to eradicating polio, keeping alert in countries that have high risk of polio importation like Somalia is more of priority than ever," Fiqi said.
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"As we move forward, the polio programme in Somalia needs to continue to work to maintain and improve the level of population immunity against polio through target vaccination campaign and strengthening of the routine immunisation services and infrastructure," Fiqi added.

The declaration by WHO keeps Somalia outside the last group of countries which still record cases of polio in the world.

Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan are the remaining countries where polio is still being recorded. The WHO chief warned Somalia remains at risk of importation of the virus from these countries.

Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo praised efforts to rid his country of the polio disease which he noted had subjected many children into suffering.

"No cases were found for the past three years and no child was affected by this disease. Many of our children have suffered from polio for many years.

"To eradicate polio was a big success and it was collective effort and commitment by many young men and women who sacrificed their lives," Farmaajo noted.

The three year polio-free celebration comes amidst the worst outbreak of measles the country has seen in years.

Somalia is also still responding to an outbreak of acute watery diarrhoea/cholera, which began in January 2017. Polio systems and networks are being used in both interventions.

"Polio infrastructure has been critical in responding to these other serious outbreaks," said Fikri.

 

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