Current Affairs Oct 2017 - International

1 - India opened two immigration check posts with Myanmar and Bangladesh

Myanmar and Bangladesh

India authorized two immigration check posts for entry into or exit from India with valid travel documents for all passengers to or from Myanmar and Bangladesh. One of such check post is Zorinpui land check post in Lawngtlai district of Mizoram for entry into Myanmar. Other check post is Kawrpuichhuah land check post in Lunglei district of Mizoram for entry into Bangladesh.

India shares a 1,643-km border with Myanmar and 4,096-km-long border with Bangladesh. It was a part of a MoU on Zorinpui during the visit of the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Myanmar in May 2012.

2 - Burqa Ban implemented in Austria

Burqa Ban

Austria’s new law ‘Burqa Ban’ came into effect from October 1. According to the Burqa ban law, a person covering their faces in public with any mask or burqa will be fined of USD 180. Police are authorized to force if people resist showing their faces for possible violations.

According to the Austrian Government, law has come into effect due to acceptance and respect of Austrian values, which are basic conditions for successful conjugal relationship between the majority Austrian population and people from third countries living in Austria. Exceptions include medical masks and scarves in cold weather.

3 - China celebrated its 68th National Day on 1 October 2017

National Day

China celebrated its 68th National Day on 1 October 2017 by raising of the National Flag at the Tian'anmen Square in Beijing. Around 115,000 people gathered at the Tian'anmen Square. Some 10,000 Peace Doves were released into the sky, depicting China, a thriving and prosperous country. China celebrates its National Day with a weeklong holiday, as Chinese traditional Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Cake Festival is celebrated across China on 4 October.

Some famous parks of Beijing were embellished with around 1.6 million potted flowers of 150 different species.

4 - UN chief Guterres warned against more cuts to DR Congo mission

Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned against further cuts to the UN peacekeeping mission in Democratic Republic of Congo because dangerous political standoff over elections is still unresolved in that country.

More cost cutting could hamstring the 18,000-strong MONUSCO force in its efforts to prevent a collapse of the vast, mineral-rich African country. According to UN Chief, in a 27-page strategic review of MONUSCO, the force was streamlining operations after the peacekeeping budget was cut.

5 - Sri Lanka observed their 70th Anniversary of the first Parliament of Democracy in Sri Lanka

Parliament of Democracy

Sri Lanka held a special parliamentary session to commemorate its 70th Anniversary of the establishment of Parliament. Speakers from Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Deputy Speaker of Afghanistan participated in the special session.

Sri Lankan parliament held distinction for being the oldest parliament in the Asian region with an unbroken record of democratic governance. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe wished the Parliament and the Sri Lankan people for success and prosperity while further strengthening the democratic traditions, policies and rule of law.

6 - President of India signed a MoU with President of Djibouti

President of Djibouti

The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Presidential Palace in Djibouti where he led delegation level talks with his counterpart. An agreement was signed in the presence of the two Presidents. President Kovind is the first Indian President to visit Ethiopia in 45 years and the third overall.

A MoU was signed regarding terrorism; renewable energy and particularly Djibouti’s support for membership of the International Solar Alliance; maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region; and technical and capacity building assistance by India to enhance employment opportunities for Djibouti’s young people.

7 - World’s biggest Nuclear Icebreaker ‘Sibir’ launched by Russia


Russia emerged as world’s largest nuclear powered icebreaker ship as the country moves to expand its leadership in the Arctic. A Ship is named as "Sibir" (Siberia) was commissioned at the Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg, Russia. Sibir is Russia’s biggest military push under project 22220.

The nuclear-powered Sibir will be capable of breaking ice fields up to three meters thick, developed for transporting cargo via the Northern Sea Route and making way for Russian ships delivering gas to Asia. Sibir is a double-draft design with a displacement of 33,500 tonnes and can carry out rescue work in ice conditions and ice-free waters.

8 - World Government Summit 2018 to have India as guest country

World Government Summit

The Annual Gathering of World Government Summit to be held in February 2018 has picked up country India as its honorary guest country. As a guest country, India will have opportunity to speak on India’s emerging economic growth and India’s unique culture, thereby joining the notable list of speakers synonymous with the World Government Summit.

According to UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, and Chairman of the World Government Summit, Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, it is done with an aim to boost its partnerships with countries that is emerging as strongest economy in world.

9 - Ukhnaa Khurelsukh selected as new the Mongolian Prime Minister

Ukhnaa Khurelsukh

People's Party of Mongolia’s Ukhnaa Khurelsukh was selected as Mongolia’s new Prime Minister. The confirmation of his selection came after former Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat was accused and voted out of office over allegations of corruption, violating parliamentary procedures and incompetence.

New Mongolian prime minister is expected to tackle Mongolia's internal and external debt, which is now almost 73.8% of its GDP. Ukhnaa Khurelsukh has served as a political specialist at the central committee of the Mongolian People's Party, as minister for emergencies from 2004 to 2006 and as party general secretary from 2008 to 2012.

10 - The WHO released guidelines to address overweight and obesity in children

Overweight and Obesity

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released new guidelines on how trained professionals can better identify and help children who are overweight or obese. In 2016 an estimated 41 million children under five were affected by overweight or obesity.

The guidelines include counselling, dieting and assessment of eating habits along with the usual weight and height measurements.

India has the second highest number of obese children in the world after China.

11 - The 4-day-long BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise 2017 concluded


The first Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, Disaster Management Exercise (BIMSTEC DMEx-2017) concluded in Delhi. Members of the BIMSTEC i.e. Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal participated in the four-day exercise, conducted by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) as the nodal agency in Delhi.

During the exercise, various important suggestions/actions viz, Participation of women in Disaster Response Mechanism, Utility of Civil Military Coordination Centre, Religious aid to motivate the affected people and Importance of maintaining Law & Order to avoid human trafficking were shared by the participants.

12 - China developed a laser gun for counter-terrorism operations

Laser Gun

China has developed a new laser gun capable of hitting the targets within 200 meters in one second for counter-terrorism operations. The gun contains a handset for aiming and a backpack containing the power supply with a remote control and laser emitter.

One of the engineers who developed the gun, Yan Azhe admits that the gun makes no sound or light when fired. It is also easy to operate because it does not recoil, and inexpensive to maintain.

13 - US and Israel withdrawn from UNESCO


Trump administration withdrew from the United Nations cultural organization and world heritage body UNESCO, stating it as biased against Israel. Soon after the US formally notified their decision, Israel too made the announcement to quit the financially struggling cultural and educational agency UNESCO.

The withdrawal will take effect on 31 December 2018. Prior to this, US had cancelled its budget contribution to UNESCO in fight against the acceptance of Palestine as a full member in 2011.

14 - Pakistan and Iran sign MoU to improve border security management

Pakistan and Iran

Pakistan and Iran have agreed not to let their territories be used for terrorism against each other as the two neighboring countries signed a MoU to improve border security management.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed during the 21st two-day meeting of Pakistan-Iran Joint Border Commission in the port city of Gwadar in Baluchistan province. Pakistan shares a 900-kilometre-long border with Iran, which in the recent months has expressed concern over militants operating along the Pakistani border.

15 - India, Brazil, South Africa signed IBSA Trust Fund agreement

India, Brazil, South Africa

In order to tackle poverty in developing countries, India, Brazil and South Africa signed the IBSA Trust Fund Agreement. According to fund agreement, all three countries will have to contribute USD 1 million fund annually for the alleviation of hungry and poverty. Fund is managed by the UN Development Program's (UNDP) Special Unit for South-South Cooperation.

The IBSA Fund was conferred the South-South Partnership Award at the 2006 UN Day event held in New York in December 2006. The IBSA Fund for the Alleviation of Poverty and Hunger was set up in 2004.

16 - Southeast Asian Defence Ministers’ meet in Philippines

Southeast Asian Defence Ministers

The Southeast Asian defence ministers’ meeting was held in Philippines. Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman attended the meeting, which was also her first foreign visit as defence minister.

The ADMM (ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting)-Plus meeting on 23 and 24 October discussed extensively on the situation in Afghanistan and Syria besides China’s growing military presence in the disputed South China Sea. The ADMM-Plus is a platform for ASEAN and its eight dialogue partners to strengthen security and defence cooperation for peace, stability, and development in the region.

17 - Bangladesh inked Gas Oil import deal with India

Gas Oil

Bangladesh has signed a long-term sales and purchase agreement with India to import gasoil to meet the country’s energy demand. The deal was signed between Bangladesh Petroleum Corp (BPC) and Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL).

As a part of the deal, BPC will take up to 250,000 tonnes of gasoil each year from NRL for the first three years of the deal to the BPC’s northern fuel depot via a 131-km (79 mile) pipeline, which will be built by India.

18 - Sri Lankan Coast Guard commissions OPV SURAKSHA gifted by India

Offshore Patrol Vessel

The Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) provided by the Indian Coast Guard to the Sri Lanka Navy was commissioned as Sri Lanka Coast Guard Ship Suraksha at the Colombo Harbor.

The newly commissioned ship will be used by the Sri Lanka Coast Guard for patrolling and surveillance in Sri Lanka waters, humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations, prevention of maritime pollution. Earlier in September 2017, Varuna, formerly an Indian Coast Guard Ship was formally handed over to Sri Lanka Coast Guard at Kochi.

19 - Peru votes to legalize medicinal use of marijuana


Peru has become the latest country to legalize marijuana for medicinal use. The law makes production, import and commercial sale of cannabis oil legal.

Peru is now the sixth country in Latin America to legalize cannabis. Uruguay, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Chile are the other five nations to legalize marijuana. Cannabis is normally prescribed for conditions like muscle spasms, chronic pain, PTSD, epilepsy and cancer. Peru is the second-largest cocaine producer in the world.

20 - 2nd World Congress on Marxism to be held in Beijing


The second World Congress on Marxism is to be held in the Peking University in Beijing in May 2018 to discuss Marxism in the 21st century and its developments in China.

The conference, with the theme of "Marxism and the current world and China", will have 17 sub-forums covering topics like Chinese solution and modernization approach by the developing countries. It is expected to attract more than 300 Marxism researchers to discuss Marxism in the 21st century and its developments in China.

21 - US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in New Delhi


US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in New Delhi on a three-day visit to India. US Defence Secretary James Mattis visited India in September 2017.

During his stay, Mr. Tillerson met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and discussed issues of mutual interest like defence, counter terrorism, security, energy and trade.

Mr. Tillerson began his Asia tour from Afghanistan and then went to Pakistan before coming to India.

22 - Nicaragua signed the Paris Climate Agreement


Nicaragua has signed the Paris climate agreement, leaving the United States and Syria as the only two holdouts on the global climate pact. Nicaragua was the only country to reject the agreement in 2015. They has argued for a far more drastic action to limit rising temperatures.

The 2015 agreement set measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent temperatures rising by more than two degrees. US President Donald Trump in June announced the start of a three-year process to pull out of the agreement, signed by 195 countries.

23 - BIMSTEC Task Force Traditional Medicine

Traditional Medicine

Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India hosted First Meeting of BIMSTEC Task Force on Traditional Medicine on 24-25 October 2017 at Parvasi Bhartiya Kendra, New Delhi. The Meeting discussed the implementation of Strategies of BIMSTEC Task Force on Traditional Medicines (BITFM).

The delegations from the different countries made Country Presentations on the status and best practices of Traditional Medicine in their respective country. The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is an International Organisation involving a group of countries in the South Asia and South East Asia namely, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.

24 - World’s oldest maritime navigation tool found

Oldest Maritime Navigation Tool

Britain-based shipwreck hunter has found maritime astrolabe, a navigation tool that guided Portuguese explorers to India in the 16th century. It has been confirmed as the world’s oldest astrolabe.

The astrolabe dates to between 1496 and 1500 - around 30 years earlier than the previous oldest known astrolabe. Astrolabes have been in use since ancient times and the mariners’ version was developed by Portuguese explorers using the altitudes of the sun or stars to determine the latitude of a ship at sea.

25 - Catalan Parliament voted to declare independence from Spain

Catalan Parliament

The Catalan regional parliament voted to declare independence from Spain, just as the Spanish government appears set to impose direct rule. The move was backed 70-10 in a ballot boycotted by opposition MPs. The crisis began when Catalans backed independence in a disputed vote.

In all, the motion declaring independence was approved with 70 in favour in the 135-seat chamber. Spain's Senate is still to vote on whether for the first time to enact Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, which empowers the government to take "all measures necessary to compel" a region in case of a crisis.

26 - US Senate Committee announced Ken Juster's nomination as US envoy to India

Ken Juster's

Senate Committee confirmed the nomination of Ken Juster, who played a key role in the landmark Indo-US civil nuclear deal, as the next American envoy to India. Juster's nomination was agreed by the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee by a voice vote.

The nomination of 62-year-old Juster now moves to the full Senate before he can be sworn in as America's new Ambassador to India. He would replace Richard Verma as the top American diplomat to India, if confirmed. The position has been lying vacant since January 20 after Verma resigned from the post.

27 - The 14th SAARCLAW Conference held in Colombo


The 14th South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation in Law (SAARCLAW) conference along with the 11th SAARC Chief Justices Conference held in Colombo. The conference provided a platform for legal professionals to meet and discuss issues of mutual interests and emerging legal trends in the South Asian countries.

The conference felicitated Attorney General of India K.K. Venugopal for his lifetime contribution to the legal field. An encyclopedia containing the major treaties, charters and legal documents in SAARC region written by legal expert Hemant Batra was also unveiled at the inaugural function.

28 - The Lonely Planet Company unveiled ‘Chile’ as the best country to visit in 2018


Travel Guide Company ‘Lonely planet’ unveiled world’s hottest destinations that should feature on every traveler’s wish list for the year 2018. Chile takes the top spot of the best country for travelers in 2018, while Seville receives the accolade of number one city in the world to visit in 2018. Tallinn, Estonia has been crowned Lonely Planet’s best value destination of 2018.

The Top three countries to visit in the list are Chile, South Korea and Portugal. Lonely Planet is a leading travel media company and the world’s number one travel guidebook brand, providing both inspiring and trustworthy information.

29 - Qatar welcomed ‘minimum wage’ for first time

Minimum Wage

Qatar’s Labour and social affairs minister Issa Saad al-Jafali al-Nuaimi declared a range of labour law reforms, including the introduction of a minimum wage for the first time. It was announced after Qatar was warned by International Labour Organisation (ILO) to end abuse of migrant workers. Various reforms such as end of Kafala system, introduced minimum wage for all workers, identification documents will be issued by the state, establishment of employee's committees in workplace etc.

UN’s International Labour Organisation gave Qatar a deadline of November to evince progress on migrant workers' rights, and could open a rare formal enquiry.

30 - Saudi Arabia became the first country to give citizenship to a Robot


Hanson Robotics’s creation 'Sophia', a robot, was granted Saudi citizenship. With this, Saudi Arabia became first country to give a robot citizenship. Announcement was made at a business event named Future Investment Initiative. Citizenship has been granted to promote artificial intelligence.

Hanson Robotics, a firm based in Hong Kong, created robot. Sophia’s creator Dr. David Hanson admitted that Sophia is designed to look like Audrey Hepburn. Audrey Hepburn was a British actor, model, dancer and humanitarian. She is designed to solve world problems too complex for humans to solve themselves.

31 - India to host UN Wildlife summit CMS COP13 in 2020

UN Wildlife Summit

India will host the next United Nations (UN) global wildlife conference (CMS COP13) in 2020. It was officially announced on the last day of the six-day 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species, or CMS COP12, in Manila.

CMS COP is a triennial summit that brings together States through which migratory animals pass and lays the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures.

32 - Jacinda Ardern sworn in as New Zealand PM

Jacinda Ardern

Jacinda Ardern has officially been sworn in as the new prime minister of New Zealand. At 37, Ardern is the youngest New Zealand PM in 150 years, and the country's third woman leader.

Ardern is a strong supporter of women's rights and LGBTQ issues. Ardern began her career as a researcher for former PM Helen Clark.

She later worked in the UK as a policy adviser to Tony Blair, while he was PM. She became party leader in August.

33 - Xi ally Li Qiang named Shanghai party head

Xi ally Li Qiang

Li Qiang, an ally of Chinese President Xi Jinping, has been named the top Communist Party official in Shanghai, replacing Han Zheng who has joined the elite Politburo Standing Committee.

According to a decision of the Central Committee, Li would take up the party secretary post in Shanghai.

This move puts Xi allies in China's four major municipalities - Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing - power centers on par administratively with provinces.

34 - India Sri Lanka sign MoU for housing project in Hambantota

India Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with India to build 1,200 houses in Hambantota. Under this, Government of India granted a financial aid of Rs. 600 M to construct the 1200 new houses in Sri Lanka. Of the 1,200 houses to be built, 600 will be constructed in the Southern Province, while the remaining would be built across Sri Lanka.

Earlier, there was an agitation outside the Indian consulate in Hambantota because of media reports about India’s interest in running the nearby Mattala airport.

35 - China Develops World's First Hydrogen-Powered Tram

Hydrogen-Powered Tram

China has developed the world's first hybrid electric tram powered by hydrogen fuel cells marking a big step in the application of green energy in public transport.

The vehicle was developed by Sifang, a subsidiary of China South Rail Corporation. It is the world’s first hybrid electric tram, with hydrogen being the main power source. The tram was put into commercial operation for the first time in Tangshan, north China’s Hebei Province. The tram emits no pollutants, as water is its only emission.