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Bilateral Current Affairs January 4th Week 2016

1) India, Pakistan agree to put off Foreign Secretary talks

  • After days of suspense, India and Pakistan agreed on 14th January to put off talks between the Foreign Secretaries that were due to be held on 15th January in Islamabad.
  • Officials called the postponement of talks to a later date a matter of “mutual convenience”, but the announcement at the last hour indicated that India had held out for more action from Pakistan against the perpetrators of the Pathankot attack before deciding to put off the talks that had been announced by Pakistan for January 15.
  • On 13th January, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s office had claimed a major crackdown on the Jaish-e-Mohammad, the group accused of carrying out the airbase attack in which 7 Indian soldiers were killed. According to the Pakistan PMO statement, JeM operatives had been “apprehended”, and offices sealed.
  • However, despite media reports quoting several police and intelligence officials on the “protective detention” and questioning of JeM founder Masood Azhar, there was no confirmation from the Pakistani government of this, the MEA said.
  • Meanwhile, the MEA said India had noted the Pakistan government’s discussion on sending a Special Investigation Team comprising a six-man investigation committee including ISI and Military intelligence officials. Officials wouldn’t comment on whether the SIT would arrive in India before the next date for the Foreign Secretary talks.
     
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2) India-Bahrain agreement to combat terror

  • Current Affirs Union Cabinet on 6th January gives ex-post facto approval to agreement between India and Bahrain on cooperation in combating international terrorism; agreement includes transnational organised crime and trafficking in illicit drugs, narcotic. Cabinet also gave ex-post-facto approval to MoU with Bangladesh for Mode of Operation of Border Haats signed in 2010 on Indo-Bangla border.
  • India will establish new Border Haats after identification of locations in consultation with Bangladesh & concerned states. These Border Haats will promote traditional system of marketing local produce through local markets on currency/barter basis.

3) Pravasi Bhartiya Divas celebrated in Colombo

  • Pravasi Bhartiya Divas was celebrated in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 9th January with a call to all persons of Indian origin to contribute to the Constitutional and political reform process in the country.
  • Chief Guest at the function, Central Minister Mr Mano Ganeshan said that Indians have long tradition of enriching the culture and society of the countries they have made their homes. He pointed out that Sri Lanka is embarking upon an exercise to draft a new constitution that will give honorable position to all communities. He urged the people of Indian origin to contribute to this exercise and participate fully in the political processes in the country.

Other points:

  1. Lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi for taking community engagement and diaspora events to a new level, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the contact with the Non-Resident Indians (NRI) in various parts of the world had deepened ever since the BJP-led Government came to power.
  2. Swaraj also recalled the efforts undertaken by the government to rescue Indians stranded in the war-torn nations. She said that in the last 19 months, India has risen to the challenge of emergency relief on four different occasions - Ukraine, Libya, Iraq and Yemen.
  3. On June 3, crisis erupted in Ukraine, where 1, 000 Indian students had to be evacuated, five days later problem in Iraq erupted. Even as events were unfolding in Iraq, Libya happened, there India had to evacuate 3,500 people.
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4) India, Pakistan exchange lists of nuclear facilities, prisoner

  • Current Affirs India and Pakistan on 1st January exchanged the list of their nuclear installations and facilities . This is done on 1st of January every year under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear installations that bars them from attacking each other`s atomic facilities.
  • The agreement, which was signed on 31 December 1988 and entered into force on 27 January 1991, provides that the two countries inform each other of nuclear installations and facilities. This is the twenty fifth consecutive exchange of such list between the two countries, the first one having taken place on 1 January 1992.
  • The two countries also exchanged the lists of nationals including civil prisoners and fishermen of each country lodged in their jails. The list was exchanged through diplomatic channels at New Delhi and Islamabad. This has been done in consistent with the provisions of the Agreement on Consular Access between the two countries.
  • The agreement, which was signed on 31st of May 2008, provides for exchange of comprehensive list of nationals of each country lodged in other country’s jails twice each year, on 1st of January and 1st of July.

Bilateral Current Affairs January 3rd Week 2016

1) India attaches highest importance to its ties with Israel: Sushma Swaraj

  • Current Affirs External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on 18th January said India attaches the highest importance to its ties with Israel as she called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the entire spectrum of the relationship.
  • Mrs. Swaraj, who is on her first visit to West Asia as the External Affairs Minister, said the two countries are intensifying their contacts and cooperation in fields such as science and technology, cyber, defence and agriculture. The External Affairs Minister will also meet President Reuven Rivlin, Defence Minister Moshe Ya`alon and other senior leaders. Mrs. Swaraj will be also meeting the Indian community in Israel. There are four groups of Indian Jewish communities in Israel with strength of approximately 80,000.
  • Swaraj`s visit comes barely three months after the historic visit of President Pranab Mukherjee, the first by an Indian Head of State to Israel, and aims at encasing on the goodwill generated by that visit.
     

 

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2) India to buy more crude oil from Nigeria

  • India is set to import more crude oil from Nigeria, already one of the biggest contributors to the country’s oil imports, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said.
  • Nigeria has now agreed to increase the term contract from 1.7 million tonnes per annum to three million tonnes in 2016, according to Mr. Pradhan. The fourth India- Africa Hydrocarbon Summit in New Delhi.
  • Nigeria is the third-largest contributor to India’s oil imports, accounting for 11.59 million tonnes (MT) in the first half of this financial year, behind Saudi Arabia (19.56 MT) and Iraq (17.01 MT).
  • The benefit of a term contract is that not only does it assure a certain quantity to be supplied but also ensures a stable price unlike oil bought from spot markets whose price can fluctuate drastically. Apart from Nigeria, Sudan also wants to increase its engagement with India.
  • India, on its part, is also keen to diversify its oil import basket as Saudi Arabia’s national oil and gas company recently announced that it would be selling oil to its Asian customers, including India, at a premium of $0.6 a barrel above the prevailing market price in February.
     
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3) India-Australia social security pact comes into operation

  • Current Affirs 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.
  • Kelly O`Dwyer said, it is an important step in strengthening Australia`s relationship with India, and shows the government`s commitment to the 397,000 Indian-born people living in Australia, who make a substantial contribution to our community

Bilateral Current Affairs January 2nd Week 2016

1) India and Arab League declared Manama Declaration

  • India and Arab League have condemned terrorism in all its forms and rejected associating terrorism with any religion, culture and ethnic group. In the Manama Declaration released after India- Arab League First Ministerial Meeting in Baharain on 24th January, the two sides emphasised the concerted regional and international efforts to combat terrorism. The two sides stressed on the need to develop a strategy to eliminate the sources of terrorism and extremism including its funding as well as combating organised cross-borders crimes.
  1. They also supported the efforts of UN Counter Terrorism Committee and adoption of comprehensive convention on international terrorism at the earliest.
  2.     India and Bahrain have vowed to strengthen their ties in key areas like trade and counter-terrorism besides signing an agreement on the transfer of sentenced persons.
  3.     External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held wide-ranging discussions with Bahrain`s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa in this regard in capital Manama on 23rd January.
  4.     The two leaders signed the agreement on the transfer of sentenced persons.
  5.     According to the pact, once an expatriate has been sentenced in the other country, the sentence can be served in the country of origin.
  6.     The Gulf region accounts for over 60 per cent of India`s oil and gas requirement. India and the Arab League are expected to deliberate on the whole gamut of bilateral issues including trade and investment, energy and culture among others.


 

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2) India and France inks more than 25 pacts

  • An agreement between Airbus Group and Mahindra for manufacture of helicopters and three MoUs under the `Smart City` theme were among the 16 pacts signed between India and France in Chandigarh on 24th January.
  • The Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs), which cover a wide range of sectors like urban development, urban transport, water and waste treatment and solar energy, were signed in the presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande, who began his three-day visit from 24th January onwards.
  • Three MoUs were signed under the `Smart city` theme for city-specific urban development between French Development Agency (AFD) with the state governments for the cities of Chandigarh, Nagpur and Puducherry.
  • A joint Venture between Indian SITAC group and EDF Energie Nouvelles was signed to acquire 50 per cent stake in its renewable energy business in Gujarat.
  • A letter of intent between CEA (the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission) and CG (Crompton Greaves) was also signed during the business summit.
  • Another Letter of Intent was signed between CEA and Green Ventures. The CEA will work on off grid solar photovoltaic projects in the Indian rural areas with the aim to deliver tangible climate change benefits.
  • Besides, nine French companies signed MoUs with Engineering Projects India (EPI) Ltd, a public sector company fully owned by the government of India.
  • The MoUs between the nine companies and the EPI are in the field of new and cutting edge French technologies for smart and sustainable cities.

3) Pacts in different fields

  • India and France have expressed their commitment to be partners for a greener, safer, more secure and more prosperous future.
  • They decided to deepen cooperation in a range of areas from locomotives to satellites, archival excavations to smart cities and solar energy to nuclear power, defence, railway, food safety and public administration.
  • The two nations inked 14 pacts in different fields after holding delegation level talks with visiting French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on 25th January.
  • Mr Modi said, India and France have signed Inter-Governmental Agreement on purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets. He hoped that the financial issues pertaining to purchase of Rafale jets will be resolved soon. The two countries are in negotiations for 36 Rafale fighter jets in fly away conditions since the announcement for the deal was made by Mr Modi in April during his visit to France.
  • However, the final deal is yet to be sealed as both sides are still negotiating the price which is estimated to be about Rs. 60 thousand crore.
  • On terrorism, Prime Minister Modi urged the global community to act against those who provide safe havens to terrorists and nurture them financially provide training and infrastructure support.
  • He said understanding between India and France on counter terrorism underscores determination to combat all forces that sponsor, shelter and support terrorism.
  • He said the two countries have agreed to scale up the range of counter-terrorism cooperation to tangibly mitigate and reduce the threat of terrorism and extremism.
  • India and France have decided to prepare a roadmap to tackle all forms of trafficking while ensuring maritime security in the Indian Ocean.
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4) India, Armenia sign protocol amending Double Taxation Avoidance Convention

  • India and Armenia on 27th January signed Protocol amending the India-Armenia Double Taxation Avoidance Convention in New Delhi. The Protocol amends the Article on exchange of information for tax purposes to bring it in line with the updated provisions in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD Model.
  • It will enable the two countries to exchange information related to financial and banking transactions and facilitate them in addressing tax evasion. It is also expected to further strengthen India`s efforts to curb generation of black money.
  • IT Department resolves over 100 transfer pricing cases of US companies
  • India and the U.S. have reached an agreement to resolve more than 100 pending transfer pricing cases, one of the biggest deterrents for foreign investors planning an India foray
  • Some more are expected to be resolved soon. Transfer pricing refers to the setting of the price of goods or services sold between entities within an enterprise. For example, if a subsidiary sells good or services to its parent company, then the price set for this sale is the transfer price.
  • Many cases have been pending for between four and five years. The real headway in resolving them was made after the Framework Agreement between the Central Board of Direct Taxes and the revenue authorities in the US in January 2015.

Bilateral Current Affairs January 1st week 2016

1) India, Pakistan exchange lists of nuclear facilities, prisoner

  • India and Pakistan on 1st January exchanged the list of their nuclear installations and facilities . This is done on 1st of January every year under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear installations that bars them from attacking each other`s atomic facilities.
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  • The agreement, which was signed on 31 December 1988 and entered into force on 27 January 1991, provides that the two countries inform each other of nuclear installations and facilities. This is the twenty fifth consecutive exchange of such list between the two countries, the first one having taken place on 1 January 1992.

 

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  • The two countries also exchanged the lists of nationals including civil prisoners and fishermen of each country lodged in their jails. The list was exchanged through diplomatic channels at New Delhi and Islamabad. This has been done in consistent with the provisions of the Agreement on Consular Access between the two countries.
  • The agreement, which was signed on 31st of May 2008, provides for exchange of comprehensive list of nationals of each country lodged in other country’s jails twice each year, on 1st of January and 1st of July.