Current Affairs May 2018 - International


1 - International Buddhist Conference Concluded in Lumbini, Nepal

Buddhist Conference

The International Buddhist Conference concluded in Lumbini, the birth place of Gautama Buddha. It was organised as part of 2562nd Buddha Jayanti celebrations. Participants from more than 20 countries including India attended two day conference.

The basic objective of the conference was to disseminate teachings of Gautam Buddha and spread the messages of nonviolence, brotherhood, co-existence, love and peace to the international community.

2 - Dominican Republic establishes ties with China, breaks with Taiwan

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic announced of establishing diplomatic relations with China and cut its ties with Taiwan in the face of Beijing's growing influence. Only 19 nations worldwide now have official ties to Taiwan. In June 2017, Panama cut ties with Taipei to open relations with Beijing. Costa Rica did so in 2007.

Mainland China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since 1949. Taiwan sees itself as a sovereign nation but Beijing considers it a part of its territory awaiting reunification.

3 - India and Pakistan to participate in multi-nation military drill

Multi-Nation Military

India and Pakistan will participate together for the first time in a multi-nation counter-terrorism exercise in Russia in September 2018. The exercise is being conducted by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

The exercise has been named “Peace Mission” and will be held at the Ural mountains of Russia. Its main aim will be to to enhance counter-terror cooperation among the eight SCO member countries. The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001. India and Pakistan were admitted as full members of the bloc in 2017.

4 - Cambridge Analytica shut down after Facebook scandal

Cambridge Analytica

Cambridge Analytica and its British parent SCL Elections Ltd shut down its operations in U.S. and U.K. The UK-based political consulting firm was accused of massive data breach of Facebook users worldwide. The firm was accused of improperly obtaining personal information on behalf of political clients.

Surrounding the negative media coverage around the issue, the company lost its clients and faced mounting legal fees which was difficult for it to continue operations.

5 - announced grant of $3 Million for e-Learning, Teachers in India

Google, the philanthropic arm of Google, has announced additional grants of $3 million to two non-profit organisations, Central Square Foundation and The Teacher App. It will provide a $2 million grant and technical assistance from the YouTube Learning team to Central Square Foundation. The grant will support a minimum of 20 content creators. will give a grant of $1 million to The Teacher App to empower teachers with the right training and resources on concepts of Math, science, language, and pedagogy

6 - Cultural Festival in Egypt commemorated 157th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore

The Maulana Azad Center for Indian Culture, affiliated with the Indian embassy in Cairo, organized the Tagore Festival from 3-7, May 2018 to commemorate the 157th birth anniversary of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. An exhibition entitled “Rabindranath Tagore: Rhythm in Colors” was held at the Museum of Ahmed Shawky in Giza. The exihibition showcased the paintings of Tagore.

India's Ambassador to Egypt is Sanjay Bhattacharyya. Tagore had made more than 3,000 paintings and drawings.

7 - California becomes 5th largest economy in the world


California's gross domestic product rose by $127 billion from 2016 to 2017 to become the world's fifth largest economy and has gone past that of the United Kingdom. California's economy has crossed $2.7 trillion. UK’s economy was $2.6tn.

California’s economic output is now surpassed only by the total GDP of the United States, China, Japan and Germany. California last had the world's fifth largest economy in 2002 but fell as low as 10th in 2012 following the Great Recession.

8 - Putin sworn in as Russian president for fourth term

Putin Sworn

Vladimir Putin was sworn in for another six years as Russian President. He got more than 70% of votes. He has been in power for 18 years, as President and Prime Minister. He became acting president on New Year’s Eve 1999 and was elected to his first four-year term in 2000.

He stepped down from the presidency in 2008 because of term limits, but was named prime minister and continued to steer the country until he returned as president in 2012.

9 - Russian President chooses to retain Dmitry Medvedev as Prime Minister for his new term

Dmitry Medvedev

Russian President Vladimir Putin has chosen to retain Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister for his new term.

Putin submitted the proposal for premiership to the lower house of parliament, or State Duma, immediately after he was sworn in for his 4th term. The Duma is expected to approve Medvedev as prime minister. Medvedev has held the premiership since 2012 when Putin started his 3rd term as president.

The Russian government stepped down in accordance with the Constitution after the inauguration of newly-elected President Vladimir Putin.

10 - Armenia opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan elected PM by parliament

Nikol Pashinyan

Armenia's parliament elected opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan as Prime Minister after he spearheaded weeks of mass protests against the ruling party, transforming the country's political landscape. Lawmakers voted 59 to 42 to approve Mr Pashinyan for the job, after the ruling Republican Party came around to backing his premiership bid on his second attempt.

The party had narrowly voted him down, plunging the Caucasus nation into its most serious political crisis in years. Mr Pashinyan's election is unlikely to put an end to the political crisis, as the ruling party retains a majority in parliament.

11 - India Pavilion inaugurated at Cannes Film Festival 2018

India Pavilion

The inaugural session of the Indian Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival 2018 was held at Cannes, France.

A round table discussion was also held to explore collaborations with countries like Brazil, Philippines, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan, Canada and New Zealand where the film commissioners from these countries discussed the opportunities and challenges for co-production with India. Discussions were also held with the heads and management of various Indian studios and production houses to see how films in different languages could become more viable and what the government could do to help filmmakers in the country.

12 - New York to host 2019 Climate Summit

Climate Summit

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced the host city as New York for climate week that takes place in September 2019 to review the Paris Agreement commitments. It will bring together international leaders from business, government and civil society to showcase the unstoppable momentum of global climate action.

The UN Climate Change talks are an integral part of a broader, worldwide debate on climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will release its Special Report Global Warming of 1.5°C on 8 October at its meeting in the Republic of Korea.

13 - Beijing to host 2018 World Robot conference


The World Robot Conference 2018 (WRC 2018) is scheduled to be held in Beijing from 15-19 August 2018. Revolving around the world's major areas of robotic research and application, and innovation and development in an intelligent society, the WRC 2018 will offer a venue where academic thoughts can be exchanged at high levels and the latest achievements demonstrated. Conference will discuss robots, artificial intelligence, automation, robotics and control systems

A robot competition will be held during the conference where more than 50,000 participants from more than 10 countries will participate.

14 - Malaysia’s new prime minister became oldest Prime Minister in the world

Prime Minister

After a gap of 15 years Mahathir bin Mohamad was once again sworn in as Malaysia's Prime Minister, and his re-election also resulted him to become a world record holder.At the age of 92 years 141 days, he is now the oldest incumbent Prime Minister having been born on 20 December 1925.

Mahathir also served as Prime Minister for 23 years from 1981-2003 and retired 15 years after stepping down as his country's leader to stand for re-election. Mahathir Mohamad announced to serve country for next 2 years and tackle Malaysia’s financial issues.

15 - China hosted SCO Tourism Ministers’ Conference

SCO Tourism

China hosted the first Shanghai Cooperation Organization Tourism Ministers meeting. The Minister of State for Tourism and Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, Shri K. J. Alphons attended the Tourism Ministers’ conference organized by Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Wuhan, China. As an important session of the 1st Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Tourism Minister’s Meeting, the Symposium focused on the uniqueness of tourism as the highlight of SCO cooperation and a new engine for regional development.

At the Symposium, representatives from SCO Member States shared insights on cross-regional market information exchange.

16 - India gave financial aid of NRs 18.07 crore to Nepal for river training

River Training

Indian Ambassador to Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri presented a cheque of grant Nepali rupees 18.07 crore to Dr. Sanjay Sharma, Secretary Ministry of Energy, Irrigation & Water Resources, Nepal for river training and construction of embankments along Lalbakeya, Bagmati and Kamla rivers in Nepal. This construction will help in flood control and water resources management for several million people residing in the watershed of these rivers in India and Nepal.

Prior to this financial aid, Indian government provided NRs. 4.68 billion to Nepal for the river training and embankment works.

17 - Gina Haspel assumed role of acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency

Gina Haspel

Deputy Director Gina C. Haspel assumed the role of acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency and Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State. With this appointment, Gina Haspel became the first female director of the CIA. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will work with President Trump’s national security team. Gina has experience of working as spy in Africa, Europe and classified locations around the globe.

CIA is the USA’s premier agency providing global intelligence in ever-changing political, social, economic, technological, & military landscapes.

18 - SCO Cultural Ministers’ meeting held in Sanya city, China

Sanya City

The Minister of State for Culture, Dr Mahesh Sharma led the Indian delegation to the 15th Meeting of the Cultural Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States held in Sanya city, China. Key discussions of the SCO meeting focused on achieving more in-depth and creative multilateral cultural cooperation and promoting regional cultural cooperation and mutual understanding of the people.

The two-day meeting concluded with the issuance of the 2018-20 Executive Plan. The main objectives of the SCO was to strengthen relations among member states and promote cooperation in various fields.

19 - Guatemala became second country to open embassy in Jerusalem


Guatemala announced set up of its embassy in Jerusalem. With this, Guatemala became second country to open its embassy in Jerusalem. However, the said announcement was protested by anti-government protestors. U.S.A. was the first one to open its embassy in Jerusalem. Some other countries who have also announced to move its embassy are Paraguay and Honduras.

Guatemala, a Central American country south of Mexico, is home to volcanoes, rainforests and ancient Mayan sites.

20 - Colombia to be NATO's first Latin American ‘global partner’


Colombia will become the first country in Latin America to join Nato as a "global partner". Colombia will cooperate on global security areas like cyber and maritime security, terrorism and links to organized crime.

Colombia joins Afghanistan, Australia, Iraq, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand and Pakistan as "partners across the globe" or simply "global partners." Each country “has developed an Individual Partnership Cooperation Program" with the US-led alliance and many contributing actively to NATO missions.

21 - Carlos Alvarado Sworn in as Costa Rican President

Carlos Alvarado

Famous journalist Carlos Alvarado was selected as new President of Costa Rica.At the age of 39, Carlos Alvarado is known to be youngest president in modern history of Costa Rica. He won the elections against conservative Protestant singer Fabricio Alvarado Munoz. He promised to build a green transport network for the nation and help economic growth to fight against insecurity.

Costa Rica is a rugged, rainforested Central American country with coastlines on the Caribbean and Pacific. It is one of the region's most stable economies but its GDP was downgraded by FITCH recently due to fiscal deficit.

22 - WHO released REPLACE guide to eliminate trans-fatty acids from food by 2023


WHO released ‘REPLACE’, a step-by-step guide for the elimination of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the global food supply. Eliminating trans fats is key to protecting health and saving lives: WHO estimates that every year, trans fat intake leads to more than 500,000 deaths of people from cardiovascular disease.

WHO calls on governments to use the REPLACE to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the food supply.REPLACE provides 6 strategies to ensure sustained elimination of industrially-produced trans fats from the food supply. REPLACE stands for REview dietary sources Promote the replacement Legislate actions Assess fats Create awareness and Enforce compliance.

23 - WHO published its first essential diagnostics list

Diagnostics List

WHO published its first ever list of essential diagnostic tests to diagnose the most common conditions and get effective treatment. WHO will update the Essential Diagnostics List on regular basis. The list will expand significantly over the next few years, as it incorporates other important areas including antimicrobial resistance, emerging pathogens, neglected tropical diseases and additional non-communicable diseases.

The list concentrates on in vitro tests - i.e. tests of human specimens like blood and urine. It contains 113 products: 58 tests are listed for detection and diagnosis of a wide range of common conditions.

24 - Russia unveiled World’s First Floating Nuclear Plant

Nuclear Plant

Russia unveiled the world's first floating nuclear power station in the port of the far northern city of Murmansk, where it will be loaded with nuclear fuel before heading to eastern Siberia. The Akademik Lomonosov was constructed at the St. Petersburg shipyard.

Russia is planning to put the 21,000-ton plant into service in 2019 in the Arctic off the coast of Chukotka. It will be capable of producing enough electricity to power a town of 200,000 residents.

25 - Venezuela's President Maduro won Re-election


Venezuela's leftist leader Nicolas Maduro won a new six-year term as President. Maduro took 5.8 million votes, versus 1.8 million for his closest challenger Henri Falcon. Maduro has been criticized for economic hardships. Venezuela is seeing growing levels of malnutrition and hyperinflation, and mass emigration.

The bolivar currency is currently down by 99% in the past year and the International Monetary Fund expects inflation in Venezuela to reach 13,000% in 2018. An estimated 1.6 million people fled the country between 2015 and 2017, according to the International Organization for Migration.

26 - Russian President Putin appointed ex-deputy PM Rogozin as head of space agency

PM Rogozin

Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed former deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin as the head of the space agency Roscosmos. As deputy prime minister between 2011 and May 2018, Rogozin was responsible for overseeing the defence and space industries.

Dmitry Rogozin oversaw the space industry as deputy prime minister from 2011 until May 2018. Rogozin is under US sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. Roscosmos is a governmental agency responsible for the space flight and cosmonautics program for the Russian Federation.

27 - China tested first drone-carried meteorological data monitor to undertake atmospheric observations

Meteorological Data

China has successfully tested its first drone-carried meteorological data monitor to undertake atmospheric observations. The dropsonde also known as the meteorological data monitor, can descend at a stabilised speed and cut the atmosphere column like a scalpel to gather data such as temperature, humidity, and wind direction and transmit them to ground receiving devices in real time.

The dropsonde carried by the Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle (UAV).The dropsondes can be widely used in meteorological emergency, disaster and ecological monitoring and offer a convenient and low-cost option for artificial meteorological observation and response systems in the future.

28 - 71st World Health Assembly Held in Geneva, Switzerland

World Health Assembly

The 71st Session of the World Health Organization's (WHO) World Health Assembly (WHA) was held in Geneva, Switzerland from 21 to 26 May 2018. The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of WHO. It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board.

The Event was held under the theme "Health for All: Commit To Universal Health Coverage". The main functions of the World Health Assembly are to determine the policies of the Organization, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget.

29 - Pakistan hosted its first SCO anti-terrorism meeting in Islamabad


Pakistan hosted its first Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in Islamabad. The three-day Shanghai Cooperation Organisation-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (SCO-RATS) meeting was held to discuss terrorist threats facing the region and ways and means to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation between SCO member states.

It is the first such event held in Pakistan since the country along with India became a member of the organisation in June 2017. The eight SCO member states are China, Kazakhstan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan.

30 - Nepal becomes first country in South-East Asia to eliminate trachoma


The World Health Organization (WHO) has validated Nepal for having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem. The himalayan nation thus became the first in WHO’s South-East Asia Region to defeat the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness.

Trachoma was the second leading cause of preventable blindness in Nepal in the 1980s. In 1996, WHO launched the WHO Alliance for the Global Elimination of Trachoma by the year 2020 (GET2020). Trachoma, an eye disease caused by infection with the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, is spread through contact with infective eye or nose discharges.

31 - US uninvites China from major U.S. military exercise


The United States has uninvited China from participating in a multinational naval exercise, 2018 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise, in response to Beijing’s militarization of islands in the South China Sea.

Those islands, which China has enlarged and occupied in recent years, are subject to competing claims from several countries, including Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines. RIMPAC is considered to be the world’s largest international maritime exercise, held every two years in Hawaii in June and July, and China has attended previously.

32 - Ireland votes in referendum to overturn abortion ban by 66% to 33%


Ireland has voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to overturn the abortion ban by 66% to 33%. Currently, abortion is only allowed, when a woman's life is at risk, but not in cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality. A vote in favour of repeal paves the way for the Irish Parliament to legislate for change.

One of the key cases influencing the debate on abortion in Ireland was that of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar. She died of sepsis in an hospital after being denied abortion during a protracted miscarriage in 2012.

33 - Netherlands became 64th Signatory Member of International Solar Alliance

International Solar Alliance

The Netherlands has become the 64th signatory member of the International Solar Alliance. The ISA is conceived as a coalition of solar resource rich countries to address their special energy needs and will provide a platform to collaborate on addressing the identified gaps through a common, agreed approach.

Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte was in in India on a two-day visit. According to data for 2016-17, the Netherlands was the fifth largest foreign investor in India. Globally, the Netherlands is India's 28th largest trading partner.

34 - Mission Innovation Ministerial Meeting held in Sweden

Mission Innovation

The 3rd Mission Innovation Ministerial (MI-3) meeting was held in Malmö, Sweden. The Indian delegation was led by Union Minister for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences, Environment, Forests and Climate Change Dr. Harsh Vardhan.

MI-3 is a global initiative, with 22 participating countries in addition to the European Commission (on behalf of the EU), focused on accelerating clean energy innovation and boosting public research and development spending in the field of clean energy. India is founding member of Mission Innovation and part of the Steering Committee.

35 - 5th India CLMV Business Conclave held at Phnom Penh, Cambodia


The Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India along with Ministry of Commerce of Cambodia organized the 5th India-CLMV Business Conclave in Phnom Penh on 21-22 May 2018. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) was the institutional partner of the event.

After four rounds of the Business Conclave in India, this initiative was brought by Department of Commerce of Government of India to Cambodia, for greater participation from the region.

36 - Global Wind Summit to be organized in Germany's Hamburg

Global Wind Summit

The three day Global Wind Summit will be organized in Hamburg, Germany in September 2018. The summit will be organized by Hamburg Messe. Over 1,400 exhibitors from about 40 countries and regions worldwide are expected to participate in the summit.

The Expo this year has three main subjects, which are Dynamic Markets, Cost-Efficiency and Smart Energy. Evolved from Germany's regional Husum Wind Expo, Hamburg Global Wind Summit is held every two years.