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International Current Affairs October 3rd Week 2017
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International Current Affairs October 3rd Week 2017

1. Facebook launches food delivery service in US.

Facebook Inc on Friday launched a service through which its U.S. users can order food for take-away or delivery directly through its app or website.

Facebook said it has partnered with restaurants including Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc, Jack in the Box Inc , Five Guys and Papa John`s International Inc.

The company said in a blog post that it has also signed on food ordering services such as EatStreet, Delivery.com, DoorDash and Olo. (http://bit.ly/2ygvF6Z)

Users will have to go to the "order food" section on Facebook`s "explore" menu, which will show them a list of participating restaurants in the vicinity through which they can place their order.

A year back, the company has said its U.S. users would be able to order food through a restaurants` Facebook page.

Facebook`s shares were up nearly 1 percent in early trading on Friday. Shares of food order and delivery service GrubHub Inc dropped nearly 3 percent.

GrubHub`s shares had also dropped last month after Amazon Restaurants teamed up with Olo, whose network of restaurants includes Applebee`s and Chipotle. (Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D`Souza).
 
2. World Food Day is observed on 16th October.
World Food Day is observed on 16th October
Many events are organized on and around World Food Day. On and around October 16, a wide-ranging program is organized at the FAO`s headquarters in Rome, Italy. The program is aimed at leaders of political and non-political organizations at all levels and at increasing press attention on topical issues around food supply. Other UN organizations and universities around the world organize symposia, conferences, workshops and presentations of particular issues around food production, distribution and security. In addition, special initiatives, such as the “International Year of Rice” in 2004 and the “International Year of the Potato” in 2008 were launched.

Across the globe, many different events are organized to raise awareness of problems in food supply and distribution and to raise money to support projects to aid in the cultivation of food plants and the distribution of food. An example of this is TeleFood, which funds micro projects to help small-scale farmers at the grassroots level. The projects aim to help farmers be more productive and improve both local communities` access to food and farmers` cash income. Fundraising events include sponsored sports events, charity auctions, concerts, and marches.

Public Life

World Food Day is a global observance and not a public holiday.

Background

The FAO aims to raise levels of nutrition across the globe, improve agricultural productivity at all levels, enhance the lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the world economy. It also provides assistance to countries changing their agricultural policy, to aid regions out of famine situations, to help implement appropriate technology and facilitate a neutral environment to discuss issues around food production.

At the FAO`s 20th session in Rome, Italy, in November 1979 the conference called for the observance of World Food Day on October 16, 1981, and on the same date each year. The UN General Assembly ratified this decision on December 5, 1980, and urged governments and international, national and local organizations to contribute to observing World Food Day. World Food Day has been held each year since 1981.

Symbols
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The FAO`s symbol consists of a circle. Inside the circle is a graphical image of an ear of wheat and the letters F, A and O. The FAO`s motto “fiat panis” (let there be bread) appears under the ear of wheat. The first version of this design was a badge distributed to delegates at an FAO conference in Copenhagen in 1946. The current version was registered with the United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property on July 1, 1964, and has been used widely since about 1977.

A World Food Day official symbol consists of three abstract human figures harvesting, distributing and sharing food. The figures are depicted in a bluish-grey color and the food in an orange shade. This draws attention to the food. The whole image aims to bring attention to the necessity and joy of growing, harvesting and distributing food.
 
3. Google Viewed as Most Authentic Brand in India: Survey.
 
Google Viewed as Most Authentic Brand in India: Survey
 
Indian consumers regard Google as the most authentic brand, even though Amazon.com tops the list globally, reveal results of a new survey on Tuesday. In India, Google is followed by Microsoft, Amazon.com, Maruti Suzuki and Apple. "Consumers today want to buy from companies that engage with them in a genuine way. Our research shows a link between brands that behave and communicate authentically and their ability to attract and keep customers -- and, ultimately, build stronger businesses," said Donna Imperato, CEO of global communications agency Cohn & Wolfe. 
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Globally, Apple takes the second spot after Amazon in the authenticity race, according to the results revealed by Cohn & Wolfe. The global authenticity index puts Microsoft, Google and PayPal at third, fourth and fifth places respectively -- all technology brands said the 2017 "Authentic Brands Study". According to the findings, 67 percent of consumers in India report increased purchase interest in a brand they perceive as authentic. "Brands that behave and communicate with authenticity will build better relationships with customers and deliver improved user experiences," Matt Stafford, President of Asia Pacific, at Cohn & Wolfe, said. 

"To differentiate their offerings and grow market share, our research shows that brands in India need to focus on the three drivers of authenticity -- reliable, respectful and real," Stafford said. Cohn & Wolfe`s Authentic Brands Study series examines the role of authenticity in business, the attributes associated with an authentic brand and the impact of authenticity on consumer, investor and employee attitudes and behaviours. 

This year`s study covered India, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, the UK and the US.
 
4. India Signs Pact to Send Interns to Japan for Training.
India Signs Pact to Send Interns to Japan for Training
India today signed a memorandum of cooperation with Japan to send youngsters there as technical interns for on-the-job training for a period of three to five years.

The MoC on Technical Intern Training Programme (TITP) was signed by Union Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on behalf of the Government of India with Katsunobu Kato, Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan here.

"The MoC on TITP is expected to significantly expand the bilateral cooperation between India and Japan in the field of skill development".

"The technical interns trained in Japan under the TITP would be an asset for the Skill India initiative upon their return to India," an official statement said.

India is the third country with which Japan has signed the memorandum of cooperation (MoC) as per the requirements of the Technical Intern Training Act scheduled to come into force in November 2017.

Ambassador of India to Japan Sujan R Chinoy said there is scope for India to enhance its participation in Japan?s Technical Intern Training Programme, thereby contributing to Prime Minister Narendra Modis vision of the country emerging as the largest provider of skilled workforce to the world.

"The Technical Intern Training Programme is an ideal platform through which complementary strengths of India and Japan could be leveraged for mutual benefit," Chinoy said.
As per the Japan?s official data for 2016-end, approximately 2,30,000 technical intern trainees from multiple countries are on training in the island nation.

In 2016, about 1,08,709 technical interns entered Japan from various partner countries such as Vietnam, China and Indonesia that account for large numbers.

In the bilateral joint statement issued during the visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe`s visit to India in September 2017, the two prime ministers expressed confidence that synergy between Japan?s advanced technology and India?s rich human resources can transform both the countries into new centres of production in the global industrial network.

In this regard, they underscored the potential to further cooperate in human resources development and exchanges utilising such frameworks as Japan?s Technical Intern Training Programme.

Besides, meetings were held in Abu Dhabi on the sidelines of the WorldSkills competition between Indian representatives and their counterparts from Russia and Brazil to enhance cooperation in the field of skill development.

5. Zimbabwe bans Fruit, Vegetable imports as Forex Crunch Deepens.

Zimbabwe bans Fruit, Vegetable imports as Forex Crunch Deepens
Zimbabwe banned fruit and vegetable imports on Tuesday to preserve its dwindling reserves of hard currency, drawing immediate warnings of food shortages.

The order, which followed a ban on maize imports in June, alarmed retailers and street dealers in the capital Harare who get much of their produce from neighbouring South Africa.

The shutdown, which Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said was immediate, underlined the scale of the economic crisis in what was once one of southern Africa’s agricultural heartlands, in the build-up to next year’s national elections.

Made told the Herald newspaper that veteran President Robert Mugabe had made the order himself to stop the imports because “they waste much needed foreign currency”.

“This means that the importation of fruit and vegetables will be stopped immediately. We are finalising on the exact list of foreign-produced fruits that are occupying shelves in shops,” Made said.
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The order would let local farmers increase output, he added.

The minister declined to give further details when contacted by Reuters.

“It can’t be a blanket ban since we are not producing as much fruit and vegetables to adequately supply the local market,” said the head of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers, Denford Mutashu. “We would need to review this.”

GRAPES, MANGOES, PLUMS

Shopper Erica Juma said she doubted Zimbabwe would be able to satisfy local demand by itself.

“If we can produce enough there is no problem with the ban. But I doubt we are able to,” Juma said, while picking up South African grapes in Pick n Pay supermarket for her lunch in central Harare.

At a busy road intersection, street hawker Sam Nyandima said the ban would hit his supplies.

“We survive on selling fruits to motorists. If they go ahead with this ban it will badly affect our livelihoods,” he said, as he sold pawpaw, mangoes and plums in the blazing sun.

The country dumped its currency for the US dollar in 2009 because it was wrecked by hyperinflation but it is now running short of dollars as well as quasi-currency “bond note” introduced last year to ease cash shortages.

Zimbabwe’s latest currency crisis is blamed on low export earnings, increased government domestic borrowing that has increased money supply not matched by dollar inflows and high govermnment spending, 90% which goes to salaries.

Commercial agriculture has not recovered from the hit it took after 2000 from Mugabe’s seizures of land from white farmers.

Last year Zimbabwe spent more than $80 million on fruit and vegetables imports, according to national statistics agency Zimstat.

Many Zimbabweans keep stashes of US dollars at home, or resort to buying hard currency on the black market when they want to travel or pay for imports.
 
6. Pakistan elected among 15 nations to UN Human Rights Council.
Pakistan elected among 15 nations to UN Human Rights Council
Pakistan Monday won a key election by securing a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council when the General Assembly elected 15 countries to serve on the 47-member body.

“This victory is a ringing endorsement of Pakistan’s strong commitment to human rights,” an elated Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations, said in a post-election interview with APP.

“Pakistan’s entire leadership, parliament and judiciary have all proactively pushed the human rights agenda,” Ambassador Lodhi said.

The election in the 193-member Assembly was by secret ballot, with a simple majority required. Pakistan polled 151 votes, when 97 were needed.

There were five candidates contesting for four Asia-Pacific seats on the Council. Apart from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal and Qatar also won seats on the Council. Malaysia, with 129 votes, could not get elected.
The contest was only in the Asian-Pacific group. Other groups put up agreed candidates: (African States): Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Senegal; (Latin America/Caribbean States): Chile, Mexico and Peru; (Western European States): Australia and Spain, and (Eastern European States): Slovakia and Ukraine.

Members of the Council serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.

The Council is an inter-governmental body within the UN system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.

The Geneva-based Council is mandated to promote and protect human rights and prevent human rights violations.

This is the fourth time Pakistan has been elected to the 47-member Council — the first success came in 2006 when the Council was created by the UN General Assembly.
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“Our victory is a manifestation of the international community’s trust in Pakistan,” Ambassador Lodhi said. “Pakistan”, she said, “is humbled by and grateful for the overwhelming support received from the world community.”

“Pakistan’s election gives the lie to those who claim that Pakistan is isolated.”

Asked what will be Pakistan’s objectives in the Council, Ambassador Lodhi said: “We will use our membership to protect our core national interests, uphold universal values, be a bridge builder between polarised positions and expose human rights abuses by India in occupied Kashmir.”

All of the Human Rights Council’s members are elected by the world body’s General Assembly, and it has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. It meets at the UN Office at Geneva.

The Council’s membership is based on equitable geographical distribution and seats are distributed as follows: 13 seats for African States, 13 seats for Asia Pacific States, 8 seats for Latin American and Caribbean States, 7 seats for Western European and other States, and 6 seats for Eastern European States.
 
7. Indian peacekeepers in South Sudan awarded UN medal.
 Indian peacekeepers in South Sudan awarded UN medal
Fifty Indian peacekeepers stationed in South Sudan have been awarded the UN Medal for their professionalism and service in protecting civilians and building durable peace in the conflict-ridden country.

The Indian peacekeepers are part of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

They are deployed with the Indian battalion stationed at Bor in the Jonglei region of South Sudan. They were presented with the award recently by UNMISS Force Commander General Frank Mushyo Kamanzi.

Presenting the award, General Kamanzi acknowledged their contribution in carrying out patrols across the region as well as providing a safe and secure environment for the 2,500 civilians who have sought sanctuary at the UN Protection of Civilians site at Bor, a media release said.

“I would like to thank the Indian battalion for their courage and professionalism in executing their mandate in Jonglei,” said General Kamanzi.

The local government in Jonglei also paid tribute to the Indian troops.

The Indian battalion had played an important role in keeping the community safe as well as encouraging local peace efforts, said Agot Alier, Jonglei Acting Governor.
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They had also provided much-needed services to the community outside of their core mandate, such as medical care for local residents and support for local farmers with veterinary treatment for their animals, he said in a media release issued by the UN.

The battalion has been intimately associated with peacekeeping efforts and the battalion has supported the mandate of the United Nations and the overall peace process, said Alier.

Indian Ambassador to South Sudan, Srikumar Menon, attended the medal ceremony and thanked the peacekeepers for their commitment and service.

“India is committed to the objectives of the UN Charter and therefore is ready to support the United Nations’ peacekeeping efforts globally,” he said.
 
8. Indian-American Attorney Ajay Raju Recognised With Philanthropy Award.
Indian-American Attorney Ajay Raju Recognised With Philanthropy Award
Noted Indian-American attorney Ajay Raju has been honoured with the third American Bazaar Philanthropy award in recognition of his philanthropic activities in the US.
“Raju was honoured for his commitment to revive Philadelphia through the Germination Project,” said Asif Ismail, publisher of The American Bazaar, an online ethnic news publication about Indian-Americans.

“The Germination project is a signature initiative of the Pamela and Ajay Raju Foundation that recruits talented teenagers and prepare them to be tomorrow’s leaders,” Ismail said in a statement.

Previous recipients of the award include Indian-American philanthropist Frank Islam and Suri Sehgal, founder of the SM Sehgal Foundation.
In his remarks on the occasion, Islam underscored the need of philanthropy.

Raju, he said, has done a fabulous job in regenerating the city of brotherly love.

“We are living in an increasingly dangerous world and times. World peace is essential for the future of this planet. There is much deadly conflict now and threats of it around the globe which must be controlled,” he said.
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Recognising this, he has supported both the US Institute for Peace and the Woodrow Wilson Center, which bring scholars and practitioners to develop programmes to try to find peaceful means for conflict resolution, Islam said.

Navneet S Chugh, a California-based attorney, said the US had a rich tradition of charity and giving.

India and Indian-Americans still have a long way to go, as he citied some of the recent figures with regard to non-profits.

Last year, Americans gave USD 500 billion in donations to charities. As many as 70 per cent of this was given by individuals and only five per cent came from corporate sector.

One third of the donations went for religious purposes, 20 per cent went to education and 10 per cent to social services.
 
9. ACI ranks Hyderabad airport No. 1 in 5 to 15 million category.
GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL) today said its Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) here has ranked no. 1 in the Airports Council Internationals service quality in the category of 5 to 15 million passengers per annum.

According to a statement issued by the airport operator today, GHIALs CEO S G K Kishore yesterday received the trophy from ACIs Director General Angela Gittens and CEO of Airports Company South Africa, Bongani Maseko, during the 27th ACI Africa/world annual general assembly, conference and exhibition at Port Louis in Mauritius.
The trophy was formally handed over for the year 2016, ranking RGIA as the worlds number one airport in the category.

The ASQ survey statistics shows that Hyderabad Airport has steadily improved its score from 4.4 in 2009 to 4.9 in 2016 (measured on a scale of 1 to 5).

"It has been an absolute delight to receive the prestigious ACI ASQ award trophy on behalf of Hyderabad Airport for being adjudged as the worlds no. 1 airport in its category. This recognition certainly boosts Brand Hyderabad and positions the resurgent India onto the worlds canvas," Kishore said.
 
10. USA to provide EMALS technology to India for aircraft carriers.
USA to provide EMALS technology to India for aircraft carriers
The Indian Navy is set to get a new technology from the US which will help launch heavy combat planes from the short runway of an aircraft carrier using electromagnetic force, instead of the old steam-powered catapults, the Trump administration has said. The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System or EMALS will be given to India to equip its future aircraft carriers, the Trump administration said.

EMALS is designed to replace the steam catapult systems currently used on US Navy aircraft carriers, its maker General Atomics said on its website. EMALS also weighs less, costs less and is likely to be easy on maintenance, but can launch even heavy aircraft.

The decision to give this naval technology to India comes ahead of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson`s visit to India. A formal date of the visit has not been announced. The Trump administration has informed India of its decision to give EMALS to India, people familiar with the matter said.
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India had expressed interest to the Obama administration to acquire the new technology developed by General Atomics for use in aircraft carriers planned by the Indian Navy. On Monday, the Trump administration replied it would allow India to use EMALS, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The flexibility of EMALS is such that it can launch a wide variety of aircraft of different weight. General Atomics is planning to open an office in Delhi to support the Indian government`s military requirements, Dr Vivek Lall, Chief Executive, US and International Strategic Development, General Atomics, had told news agency PTI earlier.

People familiar with the matter said the US` intention of releasing the advanced naval technology to India before Mr Tillerson`s visit is a sign that the Trump administration wants to enhance strategic ties with India. US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis visited India last month.

After releasing a new US foreign policy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, President Donald Trump had asked India to play a more active role in Afghanistan. "We appreciate India`s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development," the US President had said in August.
 
11. Sunny Verghese appointed as World Business Council for Sustainable Development Chairman from 2018.
Sunny Verghese appointed as World Business Council for Sustainable Development Chairman from 2018
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development yesterday announced that Sunny Verghese, Co-Founder and Group Chief Executive Officer of Olam, has been appointed as the new Chair of WBCSD. Sunny’s term begins on 1 January 2018 for a duration of two years.

The appointment was enacted by a vote from members at the 2017 Annual General Meeting of WBCSD, held during the organisation’s Council Meeting taking place in Mexico City.

Mr Verghese will succeed Mr Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, who has been Chairman of WBCSD since 2014. Mr Polman’s term ends on 31 December 2017. Sunny has the honour of being the first ever Asia-based CEO to be elected chair of the Council.

A leading voice of business for sustainability, the WBCSD is a global network of more than 200 CEOs who are responsible for a combined revenue of more than US$8.5 trillion and 19 million employees. Member companies and their CEOs are collectively working through WBCSD to accelerate the transition towards sustainable business and a sustainable world.

Sunny co-founded Olam in 1989 and leads the company’s strategy, planning, business development and management. His external Directorships include the Human Capital Leadership Institute, and former Chair of International Enterprise Singapore. Sunny also serves as a commissioner of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC).
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A range of additional appointments to the Executive Committee (ExCo) of WBCSD were also made during the AGM:

  • Ana Botín, Executive Chair, Banco Santander – reappointed as Vice Chair
  • Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, Chairman of the Executive Committee and CEO, Solvay – appointed as Vice Chair
  • Masami Yamamoto, CEO of Fujitsu – appointed as Vice Chair
  • Bruno Lafont – appointed as ExCo member for ArcelorMittal
  • Takeshi Uchiyamada, Chairman of the Board, Toyota Motor Corporation – reappointed as ExCo member
  • Yaofeng Cao, Board Director of Sinopec Corp Vice President, China Petrochemical Corporation
  • Amanda Sourry, President, Foods, Unilever – appointed as ExCo member
  • Diogo Rodriguez da Silveira, CEO, The Navigator Company – appointed as ExCo member
The terms of these appointments begin on 1 January 2018.

12. World Statistics Day is celebrated on 20th October.

World Statistics Day is celebrated on 20th October 
Official statistics are playing an increasing role in our societies and governments. High quality statistical data are now readily available at the national, regional and global levels. They are routinely used in public debate, policy formulation and business decisions. National statistical systems that have been charged with the compilation and the dissemination of official statistics have evolved to become an important national institution in each and every country.

The adoption of the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics by the Statistical Commission in 1994 has been a milestone in the codification and the promotion of the basic values in official statistics. These principles contain and promote, among others, such core values as relevance, impartiality, professional standards and ethics, accountability and transparency.

The long and outstanding collaboration of national statistical systems has also led to the formation of a global statistical system whose members use a common language to share their experiences and to advance official statistics at the global level. One of the major achievements of official statistics at the global level has been the development of international methods and standards, which has ultimately enabled an international data collection and sharing platform through the application of such methods and standards at the national level and the subsequent production of comparable data at the regional and international levels.

To celebrate these and the many more achievements of official statistics, the United Nations Statistics Division proposed to celebrate the World Statistics Day.
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World Statistics Day is proposed as a one-off event, building on the many national and regional traditions of having celebratory events of this nature, highlighting particularly the cooperation of statisticians around the world within the global statistical system.

At its forty-first session, the Statistical Commission, proposed to celebrate the first World Statistics Day on 20 October 2010. As a result of the success of this first celebration of World Statistics Day in 2010, the Commission, at its forty-third session, in March 2012, confirmed the recommendation of its Bureau that World Statistics Day be celebrated every five years.
 
13. India and Russia to participate in first-ever tri-services military exercise.
India and Russia to participate in first-ever tri-services military exercise
Indian and Russian armed forces are all set to conduct the first-ever tri-services joint exercise, in what seems to be an indication of strengthening bilateral ties.
It has come to light that Russia will embark upon its first-ever tri-services military exercise with any foreign country (India) – it will involve the army, navy and air forces of the two countries. 

Joint operations and strategies will be exchanged during the 11-day long exercise, titled INDRA 2017. It will be conducted in three locations in and around the Ussiriysk district in Russia’s Vladivostok.  

The exercise, which starts on Thursday, will not only be an imagery of strong bilateral ties but it will also have strategic significance. The development further gains momentum as it would witness participation by the biggest ever Indian military contingent in a foreign country. According to reports, 350 soldiers, 80 air warriors and 480 navy soldiers will be taking part in the grand exercise.

Reports further indicated that a contingent of the Indian Army will be led by a major-general rank officer, the Indian Air Force will be led by an air commodore and a rear admiral will lead the Navy team.

The exercise, which aims to achieve coordination between the armed forces of the countries, will be a huge upgrade of the previous editions of the INDRA exercise where only the armies of the two countries were involved.
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Reports also suggested that the exercise will involve a wide gamut of combat exercise including live firing drills, air defence, increasing coordination in battle and combating the menace of drug smuggling.

While India and Russia have traditionally shared a strong bilateral relation, the upgrades tri-services exercises have been linked to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Russia visit earlier in June, when the two countries decided to notch up defence cooperation via joint manufacturing, co-production and development of powerful military hardware.

On July 15, India took part the Malabar Naval exercise along with US and Japan in the Bay of Bengal. Joint defence exercises in the international arena are not something new and serve as an important platform for nations to jointly conduct military training.
 
14. India, Brazil, South Africa sign IBSA Trust Fund agreement.
India, Brazil, South Africa sign IBSA Trust Fund agreement
India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) have signed the IBSA Trust Fund Agreement that seeks to fight poverty in developing countries. It was signed at the 8th IBSA trilateral Ministerial Commission Meeting in Durban, South Africa.

IBSA Trust Fund

It brings together the three emerging economies of India, Brazil and South Africa to combat poverty in other developing countries. Each country will contribute US $1 million annually to this fund which is managed by the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Special Unit for South-South Cooperation.

IBSA Dialogue Forum
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The IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) Dialogue Forum is an international tripartite grouping for promoting international cooperation among these countries. It was launched in June 2003. It brings together three large democracies and major economies from three different continents namely, Africa, Asia and South America that represents three important poles for galvanizing South-South cooperation.

The forum provides the three countries platform to engage in discussions for cooperation in the field of agriculture, trade, culture, and defence among others. It has become instrumental for promoting closer coordination on global issues between three large multicultural and multiracial democracies and also contributed to enhancing trilateral cooperation in sectoral areas.

Cooperation in IBSA is on three fronts

Forum for consultation and coordination on global and regional political issues, such as reform of global institutions of political and economic governance, WTO/Doha Development Agenda, climate change, terrorism etc.

Trilateral collaboration on concrete areas and projects, through 14 working groups and 6 People-to-People (P2P) Forums, for the common benefit of three countries
Assisting other developing countries by taking up projects in the latter through IBSA Fund.
 
15. Indian-American girl wins 2017 Young Scientist Challenge for water contamination detection device.
 
Indian-American girl wins 2017 Young Scientist Challenge for water contamination detection device
 
Indian-American Gitanjali Rao, 11, was announced the winner of Discovery Education’s 3M Young Scientist Challenge 2017 on Wednesday for her prototype water lead contamination detector, called ‘Tethys’. The sensor-based device detects the quality of water and shares the results to a mobile application via bluetooth. The aim of the competition, open to citizens of the US who are enrolled from Class 5 to 8, is to identify a solution to an everyday problem that directly impacts either the contestant or the global population.

“Millions of people around the world are exposed to water containing lead and its harmful side affects. My solution addresses a core issue of speedy detection of lead contamination, allowing preventive action and saving lives,” the Class 7 girl said. “There are over 5,000 water systems in the US alone with lead contamination issues. Detection and preventive action can help mitigate the problem,” Gitanjali, who studies at STEM School and Academy in Colarado, added.

On asked why she entered the competition, Gitanjali said, “I entered the Young Scientist Challenge because it combines my love of science, solving problems by new inventions, and creating films.” She hopes to be a geneticist or an epidemiologist down the line, to try and find cures for diseases “that cause lot of pain.”

The winner of the competition is awarded $25,000 along with the title of ‘America’s Top Young Scientist 2017’.
 
16. India among five countries responsible for 50% newborn deaths.
India among five countries responsible for 50% newborn deaths
India is among the five countries — Pakistan, Nigeria, Congo and Ethiopia being the others — responsible for half of all new-born deaths in the world, according to a UN report.

The report, “Levels and Trends in Child Mortality 2017”, revealed that 5.6 million children died before reaching the age of five in 2016.

However, this is a marked decrease compared to 2000 when nearly 9.9 million children had died before turning five.

Despite the progress, neonatal deaths — defined as deaths during the first 28 days of life — accounted for 46 per cent or 7,000 every day. Another 2.6 million babies were stillborn in 2016, the report said.

While India was accountable for 24 per cent of these new-born deaths, Pakistan accounted for 10 per cent, Nigeria 9 per cent, the Democratic Republic of Congo 4 per cent and 3 per cent of the deaths occurred in Ethiopia.

Pneumonia and diarrhoea caused 16 per cent and 8 per cent of deaths respectively among children under five globally. Thirty per cent of newborns succumbed to preterm birth complications and complications during labour or child birth last year.

“It is unconscionable that in 2017, pregnancy and child birth are still life-threatening conditions for women, and that 7,000 newborns die daily,” Tim Evans, Senior Director of Health Nutrition and Population at the World Bank Group, said in a statement on Thursday.

“The lives of 50 million children under five have been saved since 2000, a testimony to the serious commitment by governments and development partners to tackle preventable child deaths,” said Stefan Swartling Peterson, Chief of Health at UNICEF.
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“But unless we do more to stop babies from dying the day they are born, or days after their birth, this progress will remain incomplete. We have the knowledge and technologies that are required — we just need to take them where they are most needed,” Peterson said.

Going by the current trends, 60 million children would die before their fifth birthday between 2017 and 2030, half of them newborns, said the report released by the UNICEF, World Health Organisation, World Bank and the Population Division of UNDESA.

By way of possible solutions, the report suggests improved access to skilled health-professionals during pregnancy and at the time of birth, lifesaving interventions, such as immunisation, breastfeeding and inexpensive medicines, and increasing access to water and sanitation, could aid in ending preventable child deaths.
 
17. Lebanon’s parliament approves country’s first budget since 2005.
 Lebanon’s parliament approves country’s first budget since 2005
Lebanon`s parliament has approved a govLebanon’s parliament on Thursday approved the first state budget in 12 years, a vital step towards reforming the fragile economy and preventing rising debt spinning out of control.

Successive governments have failed to pass annual budgets due to a string of political crises since the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

“(Passing the budget) is a fundamental step on the state’s path to reinstating order in the public finances,” Minister of Finance Ali Hassan Khalil said after the vote.

Passing a budget was a priority for the government of Rafik’s son, Saad al-Hariri, which took office in January.

Hariri described the 2017 budget as an “historic achievement” and said his government would strive to return the country to financial and political health.

A main obstacle to passing the 2017 and previous budgets has been demands from some politicians that an audit of extra-budgetary spending from previous years be carried out.

But on Wednesday, parliament approved a law allowing the budget to be passed before such an audit is completed and giving the minister of finance up to a year to carry it out.

The budget passed after three days of discussion by 61 votes for and four against. Eight members of parliament abstained.
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Lebanon’s economic growth has been battered by years of paralysis in government decision-making and six years of war in neighboring Syria. Growth slowed to just over 1 percent a year from an average of 8 percent before the Syrian war.

Lebanon’s debt has also risen strongly since the war began in 2011. Moody’s says the debt-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio, which indicates a country’s ability to pay back its debt, is the world’s third highest and will reach almost 140 percent in 2018.

Economists have said a budget was vital to reforming public finances, but that more needs to be done to improve growth and investor confidence in the country: reform the heavily subsidized electricity sector, boost tax collection and upgrade crumbling infrastructure.

The government will begin work on the 2018 budget next week, Hariri and Khalil said. Khalil said it will include a vision to develop the country economically and socially as well as “financial and reform measures to reduce the deficit and increase growth”.
 
18. NRCB signs agreement with Andhra Pradesh Government.
 
 
The National Research Centre for Banana (NRCB), Tiruchi, has signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Andhra Pradesh government and would serve as a knowledge partner in developing technologies relating to banana production.

S.Uma, Director, NRCB, and M.Girija Shankar, Secretary to Government, Industries and Commerce Department, Andhra Pradesh, signed the agreement recently in the presence of N.Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, says NRCB in a press release.

NRCB, an institution under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, will be the ‘knowledge partner’ in developing technologies towards value chain management, supporting banana export, organic production and waste utilisation. It will provide training, human resource development and hand hold growers and entrepreneurs to promote indigenous and commercial varieties for domestic and export markets, the release said.

Andhra Pradesh is the leading producer of several crops including banana. The post harvest losses being 25-35%, special impetus was given to food processing industry. The Andhra Pradesh government had brought out a Food Processing Policy and had sought R&D support from select institutes in the country and ICAR-NRCB was one among them.

 

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