Current Affairs Nov 2018 - International


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1 - PM Modi’s visited Japan for 13th India-Japan Annual Summit

India-Japan Annual Summit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made 2-day official visit to Japan to attend 13th India-Japan annual summit. It was the fifth Annual Summit meeting between Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Abe since 2014 and overall it is twelfth meeting.

Mr. Modi’s visit has reaffirmed the traditional bonds of friendship between the two countries and will definitely strengthen their multifaceted cooperation in diverse fields. It will also advance the vision of India and Japan working together to promote security, peace, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and even beyond. After this meeting Japan became second country after the United States to have a 2+2 dialogue.

The highlights of this meeting are:

  • It was intended to enhance communication and connectivity, technology and ideas, co-operation for peace, stability, prosperity of Indo-Pacific region, and increase trade and flow of people.

  • India and Japan have signed USD75 billion currency swap agreement, which is designed to assist and secure greater stability to foreign exchange and capital markets.

  • Exchange of Notes concerning the Provision of 7 Yen loan projects (total loan provision of up to 316.458 billion yen).

  • To set up a “Platform for Japan-India Business Cooperation in Asia-Africa Region especially to encourage the businesses of the two countries.

  • Expansion of Japan’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India under the scheme, “India-Japan Investment Promotion Partnership” and the progress made in Japan Industrial Townships (JIT).

  • To launch a comprehensive India-Japan Digital Partnership scheme to develop IoT and AI solutions for societal benefits by utilizing the “Japan-India Start-Up Hub” in Bengaluru and parallel NASSCOM’s IT corridor project in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan.

  • Commitment to work together with India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

  • Linking of Japan’s Asia Health and Well-being Initiative (AHWIN) with India’s healthcare initiatives under the scheme of Ayushman Bharat.

  • Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between India’s Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) and the Kanagawa Prefectural Government and also to promote cooperation in the areas of National Health Protection Mission.

  • Cooperation between the Indian Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF).

  • Commitment to cooperate on US-2 amphibian aircraft.

  • Commitment to the full implementation of relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs).

  • Japan also ensured to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA); likewise, it would be the 71st country to sign and 48th country to ratify the ISA FA (ISA Framework Agreement).

  • Growth and development of India’s North Eastern Regions through different projects such as the India-Japan Act East Forum through connectivity, sustainable forest and ecological management, disaster risk reduction and people-to-people exchanges.

  • Development of the smart islands in India.

  • Bilateral cooperation in the fields of agriculture, food processing, and forestry among various public and private stakeholders.

2 - ‘Little India Gate’ inaugurated in Medan City of Indonesia

Little India Gate

The first-ever constructed ‘Little India Gate’ has been officially inaugurated at Kampong Madras in Medan city of Indonesia. It was inaugurated jointly by Pradeep Kumar Rawat, India’s ambassador to Indonesia and H T Dzulmi Eldin, Mayor of Medan City.

About 7,000 people gathered here to witness the inauguration of ‘Little India Gate’, the first-of-its-kind structure in the country, which recognizes the contribution of Indian community in the development of Medan city. In addition to this, Little India would also be a bridge between the two countries especially in terms of trade and commercial relations.

Ambassador Rawat also said that it was a true representation of what Indonesia stood for, which is ‘Bhinneka Tunggal Ika’ or Unity in Diversity and of the Indian belief in ‘Vasudev Kutubakam’, which means the world is one family.

Besides, Kampung Madras region is one of the city’s noteworthy ethnic enclaves where majority of people of Indian descent reside. The ancestors of these population had settled down in Medan in mid-nineteenth century. This is the reason that every year, Kampung Madras witnesses Hindu and Tamil festivals such as Thaipusam or the Tamil New Year, Pongal and Deepavali.

3 - India Pavilion inaugurated at Videocittà 2018 in Rome Film Festival

Videocitta 2018 Rome

The Indian Pavilion was inaugurated at Videocitta 2018 event in Rome Film Festival, Italy. At the Film Festival, Indian delegation was led by Shri Ashok Kumar Parmar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of I&B, Govt. of India, and consisted of H E Rennet Sandhu, Ambassador of India to Italy; Shri Senthil Rajan, OSD, International Film Festival of India, Shri Rakesh Omprakash Mehra, Filmmaker & Director; Shri Sukumar Subramanian, Head Animation, Accel Media Ventures; Shri KS Amjath Meeran, Filmmaker & Director; Shri Vivek Singhania, President & CEO, Picture Perfect; Shri Madhavan Reddy Yathan, CEO, Rotomaker, and Shri Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General, FICCI.

The agenda of this delegation from India this year was to showcase diversity in films of India and also promoting collaborations with various other countries. India Pavilion at Videocitta 2018 showcased Indian films’ heritage, ease of film shooting in India, promoted film shooting locations in India. And also promoted International Film Festival of India, Indian Cinema from different regions, Audio Visual Co Production between India and Italy. Besides, also displayed the daily cultural performances related to Indian classical dances, performances based Indian films, Yoga sessions, Vocal performances, screening of Indian films across regions, etc. happened in the India Pavilion.

India is a partner country at Videocitta 2018, an event focusing on Virtual Reality, Film Making, Video gaming, Animation, etc. was organized along with the Rome Film Festival and Mercato Internazionale dell'Audiovisivo (MIA) (the International Audio Visual Market). India’s participation at Videocitta 2018, Rome was organized by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and coordinated on Ministry’s behalf by FICCI.

4 - The 1st Global WHO Conference on Air Pollution and Health held in Geneva

Conference Air Pollution

In response to a few World Health Assembly Resolutions, WHO has organized the global conference at its headquarters to address the increasing morbidity and mortality resulting from air pollution. It was a 3-day conference (in Geneva), which included workshops, plenaries and parallel sessions on a wide range of issues in reference to air pollution, clean energy, ambient air quality monitoring, children’s health, air pollution and climate change, reducing health sector emissions, protecting workers from air pollution outdoors and indoors, and equipping national health workforces to deal with air pollution amongst many others.

The conference was financially supported by France, Germany, Monaco, Norway and Switzerland and held in collaboration with UN Environment, World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

The conference responds to the World Health Assembly mandate to combat one of the world’s most significant causes of premature death, causing about 7 million deaths annually. Surprisingly, air pollution in most cities across the world exceeded the recommended WHO Air Quality levels. Besides, household air pollution is a leading killer in poor rural and urban homes. Up to 1/3 of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease are due to air pollution.

5 - IORA member states set up “The IORA Nelson Mandela be the Legacy Internship Programme”

IORA Member

The 18th Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers Meeting which took place on November 2, 2018 at Durban in KwaZulu-Natal Province, has honored former President Nelson Mandela by setting up “The IORA Nelson Mandela Be the Legacy Internship Programme.”

The programme is aimed at empowering young people, who are under the age of 30 years from IORA member states with work experience in their chosen fields of study. This programme will be launched most likely on 18th July 2019, the day Madiba would have turned 101 years.

What is IORA?

IORA was set up through the vision of former South African President Nelson Mandela, and formed by 14 member states who had launched the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) in March 1997. Currently, there are 21 member states in IORA which include Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

6 - Singapore listed as Asia’s Most Sustainable City: Arcadis

Singapore Asias Most Sustainable City

Singapore has maintained its rank as Asia's top city in the Sustainability Index prepared by engineering firm Arcadis. However, this city-state clinched the fourth spot in the global rankings.

Furthermore, in this study report, Singapore ranked first in the profit pillar which assesses the business environment and economic performance of cities all around the world.

The report noted that the government placed value in noteworthy investments over the next decade, including two new underground lines where one started in 2017 and another to start its service by 2019. Other investments include the extensions to four Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) lines, the opening of a new terminal and runway at Changi Airport, the Rapid Transit System (RTS) that will link Singapore and Johor Baru, and the relocation of various terminals to the upcoming Tuas megaport.

7 - Changsha Declaration for Agricultural and Rural Development

Agricultural Rural Development

The Ministerial Forum on Global South-South Cooperation in Agriculture (MFASSC) was held in Changsha, Hunan Province, China on November 2 with the theme, “2030 Sustainable Development Goals: New Opportunities for Global South-South Cooperation in Agriculture.”

The forum was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of the People’s Republic of China and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). In this forum, many consensuses have been reached and positive results have been achieved in the Changsha Declaration on Global South-South Cooperation in Agriculture.

Furthermore, the forum summarized results of China-FAO South-South Cooperation in Agriculture, and documented that China has been actively fulfilling its international obligations and making contributions to global agricultural development. Because of this, the participants expressed that China-FAO South-South Cooperation is a paradigm for the global South-South Cooperation in Agriculture, which plays an important role in helping developing countries promote agricultural development and improving food security.

In addition to this, they unanimously agreed to enhance the synergy among the South-South Cooperation, the Global Strategic Initiative with Sustainable Development Goals, support strategic planning and major program of developing countries and strengthening the connectivity. They also encourage partnership of South-South Cooperation in pursuit of promoting agricultural modernization in developing countries and ensuring that trade in agricultural products and investment specifically to benefit people in developing countries.

8 - China organized first import expo with a disguised warning to Trump

President Jinping

The first China International Import Expo (CIIE) was organized in Shanghai on November 5. The event is designed to reinforce China’s image as an open market – specifically on the face of a mounting trade war with the United States.

President Xi Jinping remarks at the opening ceremony that CIIE is not just an expo, but a major policy for China to push for a new round of high-level opening-up and a major measure for China to take the initiative to open its market to the world.

As per the Chinese State Media, a total of 172 countries, regions, and international organizations were represented at the inaugural CIIE; 82 countries had booths set up in the Country Pavilion for Trade and Investment and more than 3,600 companies were in attendance.

In this 6 days expo, India also participated.

9 - No anti-dumping duty on PTFE Resin

PTEF Resin

The US International Trade Commission has ruled against putting any anti-dumping duty on the imports of a synthetic fluoropolymer from India and China. Synthetic fluoropolymer is a key ingredient in non-stick coating used for pans and other cookware.

The US International Trade Commission (USITC), in its ruling, has determined that polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE resin (imported) from India and China were sold in the US at a less fair value. A crystalline polymer of tetrafluoroethylene, PTFE has a variety of end-use applications such as gaskets, seals, linings, packing materials, tubing, pipe liners, and pipe coatings due to its chemical inertness, heat resistance, electrical insulation properties and functionality over a wide temperature range (ranging from -40°C to 260°C).

As a result of this negative determinations, now "no antidumping duty orders will be issued on imports of this product from China and India."

10 - Indian, Chinese troops met in Arunachal Pradesh

Indian Chinese Troops

A high-level meeting between Indian Army officials and Chinese PLA troops was held at Bumla nearby Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh. In the meeting, both the officials reaffirmed their concern to resolve the issue and strengthen friendship to maintain peace along the Line of Actual Control.

The delegations of this official meeting was led by Major General PGK Menon from India and Major General Li Xi Zhong from China. They discussed possible ways to boost the relationship of the two countries. After 1990, it is the first meeting of such type where the Generals of both the countries met in a border personnel meeting.

11 - India increased its contribution to UNRWA

India Increased Contribution to UNRWA

In response to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Flash Appeal, the Government of India has increased its annual contribution for UNRWA from USD 1.25 million to USD 5 million effective from 2018-19 for three years. This enhancement has been made specifically in the backdrop of the unprecedented financial crisis being faced by UNRWA, which has been delivering valuable public services to Palestine Refugees around the world.

Government of India made this announcement of the substantive increase of annual contribution to UNRWA at the extraordinary Ministerial Conference, which was held in Rome.

12 - Mou signed between Kochi and Vilnius

Kochi-Vilnius

As part of the European Union (EU) project 'International Urban Cooperation', Kochi Corporation (Kerala, India) and Vilnius (the capital city of Lithuania), have signed an MoU. The MoU was signed during the visit of Kochi Corporation delegation, which was attended by Deputy Mayor T.J. Vinod, Standing Committee Chairmen P.M. Haris, K.V.P Krishna Kumar and Opposition Leader K.J. Antony from Vilnius.

The primary focus of the cooperation would remain urban planning, corporate planning, transport, solid water management, and water management.

However, the delegation also discussed on:

  • urban development policies
  • cultural heritage
  • democratic administrative system
  • modern technologies of both the cities.

13 - 5th World Internet Conference held in China

World Internet Conference

The fifth World Internet Conference (WIC) was held at the river town of Wuzhen in China with the theme, "Creating a digital world for mutual trust and collective governance - towards a community with a shared future in cyberspace".

The conference advocated the exchanges, mutual learning, cooperation and sharing in the digital fields, and the need for peace and development of the global cyberspace. Several guests from governments, international organizations, companies, technology communities and non-governmental organizations have attended the conference.

14 - Vice President’s 7-day visit to three South African countries

President Venkaiah Naidu

From October 31, 2018 to November 5, 2018, Vice President Mr. Venkaiah Naidu was on a seven day trip to three south African countries, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. On this visit, Mr. Naidu was accompanied by a high-level delegation including Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Mr. Krishan Pal Gurjar, two Members of Parliament and others.

The highlights of this visit are:

Botswana Visit (Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, 2018)

  • Botswana will join the International Solar Alliance.

  • India will support Botswana’s defence forces.

  • India will participate in extension of 2 of Botswana’s existing Railway lines through the involvement of RITES, a premier Government of India Undertaking.

  • MoU was signed for waiving Visa for Diplomatic Passport holders.

Zimbabwe Visit (Nov. 2 to Nov. 4, 2018)

  • Extension of defence training slots by India to Zimbabwe Defence Forces to train in premier Indian Defence Institutions.

  • Announcement of USD 310 million line of credit for up-gradation of Hwange Thermal Power Station – also covering other power plants.

  • US$2.93 million grant for up-gradation of Indo-Zim Technology Centre.

  • Assistance for construction of Mahatma Gandhi Convention Centre.

  • Gifted 10 Indian made ambulances to Zimbabwe, lifesaving drugs and deputation of experts in five specialized areas.

  • Agreed to promote and enhance trade and economic relations especially in the areas of mining, agriculture, SMEs, ICT, Health, HRD, diamond trading, traditional medicine, etc.

Malawi Visit (Nov. and 5, 2018)

  • Construction of Mahatma Gandhi International Convention Center in Blantyre.

  • Extension of new line of credit of $215.16 million for 18 water projects spread over many areas of Malawi.

  • India gifted the Bhabatron Cancer Treatment Machine to the Kamuzu Central Hospital’s cancer wing, 10 ambulances and supply of essential medicines.

  • India will donate 100 thousand school text books of various subjects for classes 8 to 12 in Malawi.

  • Cooperation in agriculture, health, pharmaceutical, skill training has been assured by the Indian private sector.

  • India agreed to allow imports of mangoes from Malawi.

  • Malawi has ratified the framework agreement of the International Solar Alliance, etc.

15 - WEF Global Future Councils conference held in Dubai

WEF Global Councils

The two-day annual meeting of World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Future Councils was held in Dubai. Addressing the conference, World Economic Forum President Børge Brende said that globalization cannot be stopped, rather it needs to be improved.

The objective of this Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils was to convene the world’s best network of experts to identify new ideas and models, which can be applied to critical global challenges to improve it. Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum also have attended the opening session.

16 - Vice President Naidu visited France to attend the Paris Peace Forum

Venkaiah Naidu France

Mr. M. Venkaiah Naidu, the Vice President of India visited France to attend the Paris Peace Forum. The peace forum is held to commemorate the armistice of World War I at Arc de Triomphe, which is a tribute to a large number of Indian soldiers who participated and sacrificed their lives in the World War I. The centenary forum was presided over by the French President, Emmanuel Macron.

Governments of more than 50 countries have participated in the forum. Furthermore, the objective of the Paris Peace Forum is to set up a global platform to re-affirm the importance of multilateralism, international co-operation and reform of global governance institutions.

17 - US exempted India from certain sanctions

Chabahar Port

As per the recent report, the United States has exempted India by not imposing certain sanctions in reference to the development of the strategically-located Chabahar Port in Iran. Further, US also gave green signal to the construction of the railway line connecting it with Afghanistan.

Such decision by the Trump administration, who just a day before imposed the toughest ever sanctions on Iran and is very restrictive in giving exemptions, is of course considered as the recognition of India’s role in the development of the port on the Gulf of Oman, which is of immense strategic importance for the reconstruction of war-torn Afghanistan by Washington.

18 - Sugar exports from India to China

Sugar Exports

As per the contract for exporting 50,000 tons of raw sugar, export of raw sugar from India to China will begin from next year. The Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) and COFCO, a Government of China run public sector company have made an agreement of such export.

This a result of initiative taken by the Ministry of Commerce and several rounds of meetings held between officials of both countries. Resultantly,.

As per the agreement, India will export 2 MT of raw sugar to China beginning from next year. Raw sugar is the second product after non-basmati rice that China will import from India. This move will reduce the USD 60 billion trade deficit that China has with India. In the financial year 2017-18, India’s export to China was USD 33 billion while imports from China was at USD 76.2 billion.

19 - ISPRL signs MoU with ADNOC to explore storage of crude oil

ISPRL Sings ADNOC

Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd (ISPRL) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Abu Dhabi with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) with the objective to explore the possibility of storing ADNOC crude oil at ISPRL’s underground oil storage facility at Padur in Karnataka. This storage center has 2.5-million-ton capacity.

As per the MoU, ADNOC is expected to store crude in compartments at Padur. According to the MoU with ISPRL, the Indian government-owned company mandated to store crude oil for emergency purpose. Besides, the initial delivery of ADNOC crude has to be stored in another ISPRL underground facility at Mangalore, Karnataka. This center can store 5.86 million barrels of ADNOC crude oil. So far, ADNOC is the only foreign oil and gas company who can invest in the form of crude oil in India’s strategic petroleum reserves program.

As per consumption data of last financial year, ISPRL has already constructed 5.33 million tons of underground storage capacity at three different locations: Visakhapatnam (capacity 1.33 million tons), Mangalore (capacity 1.5 million tons) and Padur (capacity 2.5 million tons). This stored oil can support about 9.5 days of the country’s oil needs.

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