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International Current Affairs September 3rd Week 2017
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International Current Affairs September 3rd Week 2017

1. Second Indian Workers’ Resource Centre Inaugurated in UAE.

Indians in the UAE now have one more support centre to address their grievances. 
The Indian Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Singh Suri on Sunday afternoon opened the Indian Workers’ Resource Centre (IWRC) in Sharjah. 

The Sharjah Centre on the 22nd floor of Damas Tower (Burj 2000) opposite the Central Post Office is the second office of the IWRC in the UAE after the one in Dubai that currently caters to Indians in all seven emirates.

As first reported by Gulf News in July 2016, the Ministry of External Affairs decided to open a second centre in Sharjah considering the high number of Indian population in the emirate and easy access for those living in the northern emirates as well. 

Suri said the office building was chosen considering the fact that it is in a central area and also houses the BLS Centre, the outsourced agency which provides Indian passport and visa services. 
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The walk-in counter at the new office will receive petitions directly from Indian in distress from 8am to 8pm from Saturday to Thursday. The walk-in services provided by the IWRC Dubai at the Silver Tower, Cluster-I in Jumeirah Lakes Towers will be offered at the new office in Sharjah office as well.

Inaugurated in November 2010 by the then Indian President Pratibha Patil, IWRC Dubai runs a 24-hour toll-free helpline (800 INDIA or 800 46342) that offers assistance to Indians in distress in the UAE. 
The centre provides counselling by experts in legal, psychological and financial matters by phone or email and in person.

The IWRC helpline offers assistance in five languages — Hindi, English, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu.

All the calls are registered and a reference number is given to the caller for future reference. A date and time are allotted for the callers for counselling sessions, which can be conducted in various parts of the UAE if required.

Apart from the helpline number, the resource centre has a walk-in-counter in Dubai to receive petitions directly from Indian workers, which works between 8am to 8pm from Saturday to Thursday.

The awareness campaigns such as talks by experts, seminars, panel discussions or question and answer sessions are organised frequently. The individual counselling sessions are arranged for serious issues only.

While the Sharjah IWRC will run the walk-in Centre and conduct awareness programmes, the helpline will continue to be operated by the Dubai office, Suri said. 
 
2. India and Afghanistan sign four pacts in areas of health and transport.
India and Afghanistan sign four pacts in areas of health and transport
India and Afghanistan today signed and exchanged four pacts in areas of transport, health, space and new development partnership.

The four documents signed and exchanges today included: (a) Motor Vehicles Agreement for the Regulation of Passenger, Personal and Cargo Vehicular Traffic; (b) Memorandum of Understanding for mutual cooperation in the field of pharmaceutical products regulation; (c) The Orbit Frequency Coordination Agreement between India and Afghanistan on South Asia Satellite (SAS); and (d) Letters establishing the New Development Partnership and launching 116 High Impact Community Development Projects.

The agreements were exchanged after delegation level talks under the “2nd Strategic Partnership Council” Meeting between India and Afghanistan respectively represented by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Salahuddin Rabbani in New Delhi today.

After the exchange of the documents, Mrs Swaraj told media persons that India will continue to work with Afghanistan in its efforts to build a secure, stable, peaceful, prosperous, united and inclusive nation. She stressed that the two countries remain united in overcoming the challenges posed by cross-border terrorism and safe havens and sanctuaries. Emphasizing that strategic partnership with Afghanistan is an article of faith for India, the Minister said India would continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Afghanistan in realizing their dreams.

As The aPolitical reported yesterday that development of Chahbahar is a priority issue, Mrs Swaraj said development of the Port trilateral cooperation with Iran is being expedited, and India will supply wheat to Afghanistan in coming weeks through Chahbahar port. She also informed about jointly implementing 116 new High Impact Development Projects to bring socio-economic and infrastructure development in Afghanistan. She further stressed continuing India’s focus on building governance and democratic institutions, human resource capacity and skill development.

Without naming common neighbour Pakistan, Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani said, Afghanistan’s friendship with India does not mean hostility to others in the region. Mr Rabbani highlighted ever strengthening the bond between India and Afghanistan which he said is aimed to protect and to achieve the socio-economic, security and trade interests. Recognising that India suffers from terror attacks by terror outfits LeT and JeM, Rabbani said these terror outfits are also targeting Afghanistan in league with Taliban, Al-Qaida and Daish.

Mr Rabbani also informed media persons about his discussion with Mrs Swaraj on easing of visa regimes to promote trade and people to people contacts.

Later, Mr Rabbani called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his residence. The Afghan Foreign Minister arrived in New Delhi yesterday on a three-day visit to India.
 
3. Chennai-Vladivostok sea route made India’s effort to counter China’s OBOR.
Chennai-Vladivostok sea route made India’s effort to counter China’s OBOR
India is planning to launch major connectivity initiative, connecting Chennai with key Russian port Vladivostok via sea route with an aim to harness natural resources from Northeast Asia and Western Pacific region.

The Chennai-Vladivostok sea route will enable to transfer cargo between Chennai and Vladivostok in 24 days in comparison to over 40 days currently taken to transport goods from India to Far East Russia via Europe.

The proposed maritime route can be transformed into corridor that could juxtapose with Indo-Japan Pacific to Indian Ocean Corridor to counter China’s Maritime Silk Route (MSR) under Border Road Initiative (BRI) which connect entire South East Asia through road, shipping and rail links.

Russia is sensitive to growing Chinese presence in Russia’s Far-eastern region particularly increasing population from China which are settling there. It fears that this pattern could change demographics of Far-east Russia. The growing presence of other countries including India will help to bring balance China’s presence in far east region.

India was first country to establish resident Consulate in Vladivostok in 1992. India’s current engagement with region is limited to isolated pockets such as Irkut Corporation in Irkutsk where Mig and Sukhoi aircraft are built and over $6 billion worth of investments by ONGC Visesh Limited in Sakhalin 1 project. The region has wealth of natural resources such as timber, mineral resources (coal & diamonds) and precious metal deposits (gold, platinum, tin and tungsten) and oil and natural gas.
 
4. 74th Venice Film Festival Awards 2017.
74th Venice Film Festival Awards 2017
Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water was awarded the Golden Lion at the 74th Venice Film Festival on Saturday, a triumphant end to a week’s worth of rave reviews and Oscar buzz. The film, a romantic monster movie starring Sally Hawkins and Michael Shannon, premiered on the Lido on August 31, and was quickly hailed by many as the festival’s — and del Toro’s (at least since Pan’s Labyrinth) — best movie. It’s also the first English-language movie to win Venice’s top prize since Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere in 2010. Placing second, the Grand Jury Prize recipient was the Israeli military drama Foxtrot, which similarly wowed critics upon its premiere at Telluride last week.

Other notable winners include Lean on Pete breakout Charlie Plummer for best young performer; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri writer-director Martin McDonagh for best screenplay — a significant boost since he’s emerged as a serious Oscar contender for the movie alongside stars Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell; and the always-excellent Charlotte Rampling, of the Italian drama Hannah, for Best Actress. See the complete list below.

VENICE 74

Golden Lion
The Shape of Water, directed by Guillermo del Toro

Grand Jury Prize
Foxtrot, directed by Samuel Maoz

Silver Lion — Best Director
Xavier Legrand, Jusqu’à la Garde

Volpi Cup — Best Actress
Charlotte Rampling, Hannah

Volpi Cup — Best Actor
Kamel El Basha, The Insult

Best Screenplay
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Special Jury Prize
Sweet Country, directed by Warwick Thornton

Marcello Mastroianni Award for for Best New Young Actor or Actress
Charlie Plummer, Lean on Pete

VENICE HORIZONS

Best Film
Nico, 1988, directed by Susanna Nicchiarelli

Best Director
Vahid Jalilvand, No Date, No Signature

Special Jury Prize
Caniba, directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel

Best Actress
Lyna Khoudri, Les Bienheureux

Best Actor
Navid Mohammadzadeh, No Date, No Signature

Best Screenplay
Los Versos Del Olvido, directed by Alireza Khatami

Best Short Film
Gros Chagrin, directed by Céline Devaux

Lion of the Future — “Luigi De Laurentiis” Venice Award for a Debut Film
Jusqu’à la Garde, directed by Xavier Legrand

VENICE CLASSICS

Best Restoration
Idi I Smotri, directed by Elem Klimov

Best Documentary on Cinema
The Prince and the Dybbuk, directed by Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosolowski

VENICE VIRTUAL REALITY

Best VR
Arden’s Wake (Expanded), directed by Eugene YK Chung

Best VR Experience
La Camera Insabbiata, directed by Laurie Anderson and Hsin-Chien Huang

Best VR Story
Bloodless, directed by Gina Kim

 5. India and Japan ink 15 agreements for enhancing bilateral co-operation.

India and Japan ink 15 agreements for enhancing bilateral co-operation
India and Japan on Wednesday signed 15 deals in key areas, including civil aviation, trade, science and technology, and skill development.

The pact in the area of disaster risk management, entered into between the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Cabinet Office of the Government of Japan, aims to cooperate and collaborate in the field of disaster risk reduction, an official statement said.

It said the understanding in the field of skill development looks to further strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation in the field of Japanese language education in India.

The one titled `India-Japan Investment Promotion Road Map` envisages enhanced Japanese investments in India while the `Japan-India special programme for Make In India` is on bilateral cooperation towards infrastructure development in the Mandal Bechraj-Khoraj region in Gujarat.

There was exchange of RoD (Record of Discussions) on civil aviation under which Indian and Japanese carriers can now mount unlimited number of flights to selected cities in both countries.

There was an agreement to establish a joint exchange programme to identify and foster talented young scientists from both countries to collaborate in the field of theoretical biology.

The MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the Department of Biotechnology and Japan`s National Institute of Advanced Science & Technology (AIST) seeks to promote research collaboration between these institutions in the field of life sciences and biotech, the statement said.

The India Japan Act East Forum, among the agreements signed, seeks to enhance connectivity and promote developmental projects in India`s North Eastern region in an efficient and effective manner, it said.

There were four agreements in the field of sports, including one to facilitate and deepen international education cooperation and exchanges between both Sports Authority of India and Nippon Sport Science University, Japan.
 
6. Google to Launch Mobile Payment Service in India.
Google to Launch Mobile Payment Service in India
 
Google India is all set to launch a new payment app called ‘Tez’ (Hindi for fast), as reported first on Thursday by news portal The Ken.

The app will likely be launched at a press conference on 18 September in New Delhi by Caesar Sengupta, vice-president, Next Billion Users, Google. When asked about the report, Google India replied: “Because fast is better than slow. See you on Monday (18 September).”

The new product, developed ground-up specially for the Indian market, is aimed at the rapidly growing digital payment market in India which is expected to touch $500 billion by 2020, according to a report by GSMA and Boston Consulting Group.

Tez is a multi-layered app, according to The Ken, that will offer a comprehensive set of payment options in India. It will include support for Unified Payments Interface (UPI), a single-window mobile payment system launched by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) as well as other consumer payment services, including Paytm and MobiKwik. It will, according to The Ken report, be available both on the desktop, as a Chrome widget, and will be rolled out as an app on Google’s Play Store or will be pre-installed on the operating system and introduced as part of future updates to the operating system.

The UPI-based service will be integrated into other applications, including e-commerce, mobility, over-the-top apps and Google’s own suite of apps, Play Music/Movies (for subscriptions) and Play Store (for paid downloads), reports The Ken.

Globally, Google has had only limited success with its mobile payment systems. Two years ago the company launched Android Pay following the failure of its earlier product Google Wallet, which despite being a pioneer among phone technology providers, couldn’t garner enough users. Android Pay, which was launched in 2015, still has only a quarter of the number of users that Apple Pay does, according to 2017 research by Juniper. In fact, Apple tops the charts with its digital wallet, and is expected to nearly double Apple Pay user base this year. Juniper estimates that Apple Pay will hit 86 million users in 2017 globally, up from 45 million in 2016.

Google’s entry into payments comes at a time when India’s digital payments ecosystem is burgeoning. With a 57% market share, Alibaba-backed Paytm currently dominates in a market crowded with several mobile wallet players such as Tencent-backed Hike Messenger, MobiKwik, FreeCharge, Oxigen, Citrus Pay, Phone Pe, PayU, ItzCash, Jio Money and Ola Money. Even global companies like Truecaller and Uber have entered the payment space in India with Facebook-owned WhatsApp working to grab a slice of India’s growing mobile wallet pie.

In such a scenario, it may just be the right time for Google to launch Tez. Apart from the potential for top-line growth, entering India’s mobile wallet space could also give Google greater access to far more user data, something it thrives on. Add to this is the fact that Android dominates India’s smartphone market with a huge market share of 97%, which means nine in 10 smartphones sold in India are Android-based.

Google has been spending its resources and launching new products and programmes to target “the next billion” internet users that include the rail WiFi programme and data-optimized apps like YouTube Go. Launching Tez is a logical step in that direction.
 
7. International Day of Democracy is observed on September 15th.
International Day of Democracy is observed on September 15th
The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Democracy is annually held on September 15 to raise public awareness about democracy. Various activities and events are held around the world to promote democracy on this date.

What Do People Do?
Many people and organizations worldwide, including government agencies and non-government organizations, hold various initiatives to promote democracy on the International Day of Democracy. Events and activities include discussions, conferences and press conferences involving keynote speakers, often those who are leaders or educators heavily involved in supporting and endorsing democratic governments and communities.

Leaflets, posters and flyers are placed in universities, public buildings, and places where people can learn more about how democracy is linked with factors such as freedom of expression and a tolerant culture. Organizations, such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), organize activities such as public opinion surveys about democracy and political tolerance.

There has been a campaign, known as the Global Democracy Day Initiative, which involves a petition being made to the UN and heads of states to officially adopt October 18 as Global Democracy Day to support International Day of Democracy.

Public Life

The International Day of Democracy is a UN observance day, however, it is not a public holiday.

Background

The UN strives to achieve its goals of peace, human rights and development. It believes that human rights and the rule of law are best protected in democratic societies. The UN also recognizes a fundamental truth about democracy everywhere – that democracy is the product of a strong, active and vocal civil society.

The UN general assembly decided on November 8, 2007, to make September 15 as the annual date to observe the International Day of Democracy. The assembly invited people and organizations, both government and non-government, to commemorate the International Day of Democracy. It also called for all governments to strengthen their national programs devoted to promoting and consolidating democracy. The assembly encouraged regional and other intergovernmental organizations to share their experiences in promoting democracy.

The International Day of Democracy was first celebrated in 2008. The UN general assembly recognized that the year 2008 marked the 20th anniversary of the first International Conference of New or Restored Democracies, which gave people a chance to focus on promoting and consolidating democracy worldwide.

Symbols

The UN logo is often associated with marketing and promotional material for this event. It features a projection of a world map (less Antarctica) centered on the North Pole, enclosed by olive branches. The olive branches symbolize peace and the world map represents all the people of the world. It has been featured in black against a white background.

 8. India-Japan ink Open Sky Agreement.

India-Japan ink Open Sky Agreement
India and Japan today signed an agreement that will allow their airlines to operate unlimited number of flights between the two countries. 

The pact followed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe holding strategic discussions on a wide range of issues. 

An official release said India and Japan exchanged RoD (Record of Discussions) on civil aviation cooperation with respect to open sky. 

"It opens skies between India and Japan ie. Indian and Japanese carriers can mount now unlimited number of flights to the selected cities of each other`s countries," the release said. 

The National Civil Aviation Policy, 2016, allows the government to enter into an `open sky` air services agreement on a reciprocal basis with SAARC nations as well as countries beyond a 5,000 kilometre radius from New Delhi. 

Currently, Japanese carriers -- All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines -- fly into India while Air India and Jet AirwaysBSE -1.78 % operate services to Japan. 
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Last year India signed open sky agreements with Greece, Jamaica, Guyana, Czech Republic, Finland, Spain and Sri Lanka. India also has open sky agreement with the US, among other countries. 

Last week, full service carrier Vistara had announced plans to enter into a code share partnership with Japan Airlines by next year. 

Vistara is also likely to unveil plans for international operations soon and Japan is on the radar, it had said. 

The open sky agreement between India and Japan is also expected to bring down airfares, according to travel portal Yatra.com. 

"The agreement will not only encourage connectivity and passenger travel between the two countries, but will also result in reduction in airfares on these routes," said Yatra.com`s COO Sharat Dhall. 
 
9. International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is observed on September 16th.
 
International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is observed on September 16th
 
The United Nations` (UN) International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is celebrated on September 16 every year. This event commemorates the date of the signing of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 1987.

What Do People Do?

On this day primary and secondary school educators throughout the world organize classroom activities that focus on topics related to the ozone layer, climate change and ozone depletion. Some teachers use educational packages from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) that have been specifically tailored to address topics about the Earth`s ozone layer.

Other activities that are organized by different community groups, individuals, schools and local organizations across the world include: the promotion of ozone-friendly products; special programs and events on saving the ozone layer; the distribution of the UNEP`s public awareness posters to be used for events centered on the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer; and the distribution of awards to those who worked hard to protect the Earth`s ozone layer.

Public Life

The UN`s International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is a global observance and not a public holiday.

Background

In 1987 representatives from 24 countries met in Montreal and announced to the world that it was time to stop destroying the ozone layer. In so doing, these countries committed themselves, via the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, to rid the world of substances that threaten the ozone layer.
On December 19, 1994, the UN General Assembly proclaimed September 16 to be the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commemorating the date when the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed in 1987. The day was first celebrated on September 16, 1995.

Symbols

Many promotional items used for the day feature images of the Sun, sky, or earth`s natural environment to represent the ozone`s importance in protecting the environment. Selected winning paintings from the 1998 Children’s Painting Competition, which was part of UNEP’s public awareness campaign at the time, have since been reproduced on posters, calendars, publications, and other material.

 

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