✪ In an effort to strengthen the bilateral relations between India and UAE, the Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Samudra Pavak made a goodwill visit at the Mina Al Rashid (Dubai Port) from February 4 to 7, 2017.
Note: As a part of the visit, a joint exercise took place between Indian coast guard and UAE coast guard to enhance co-operation and exchange of operational expertise.
✪ India and Austria have agreed to amend their existing bilateral taxation treaty to prevent tax evasion as well as enable mutual assistance to enable mutual assistance in collection of taxes.
Note: The protocol will broaden the scope of the existing framework of the exchange of tax-related information, which will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance between the two countries
✪ India is among nine countries that will be part of a global health network focused on improving the quality of care for new mothers and babies and strengthen national efforts to end preventable deaths of pregnant women and newborns by 2030.
Note: The nine countries are India, Bangladesh, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda.
✪ UN children's agency UNICEF has launched an appeal for 3.3 billion US Dollar to help 48 million children caught up in crises worldwide amid fears of a funding cut from top donor the United States.
Note: This year's appeal represents a 18 per cent increase from the initial request for funding in 2016.
✪ Donors contribute to the appeals on a voluntary basis. The United States is by far the top donor to UNICEF, followed by Germany, Britain and the European Commission.
✪ Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sanctioned building of 3,000 new settlements in the territory of the West Bank in addition to the recently approved 2,500 units.
✪ India and Russia held high-level consultations on counter-terrorism issues in New Delhi. Both sides agreed that the UN Security Council Sanctions List processes for blacklisting various terrorist individuals and entities must be stringently complied with.
✪ Ireland has become the first country in the world to divest coal, oil and gas investments from Ireland Strategic Investment Fund. The bill was passed in the Irish parliament by gaining 53 votes out of 90. It was introduced by Deputy Thomas Pringle.
✪ The world's longest elevated cycle path has been opened in Xiamen, China which can handle about 2,023 cyclists with a speed limit of 15 miles per hour. The path is five miles long and 16 feet wide having 11 entrances and connects to 11 bus stops and two underground rail stations.
Note: The architecture firm responsible is Copenhagen-based firm Dissing + Weitling, known for the creation of the Danish Bicycle Snake cycle route.
✪ The US House of Representatives has introduced legislation by making it mandatory to raise the minimum salary of the H-1B visa holders to more than double at USD 1, 30,000 from the previous USD 60,000.
Note: If the legislation is passed, it would highly impact American companies as they may face difficulty in replacing the American employees with foreign workers including IT professionals from India.
✪ Ireland has voted to be the world's first country to fully divest public money from fossil fuels. The Irish Parliament passed the historic legislation in a 90 to 53 vote in favour of dropping coal, oil and gas investments from the 8bn (£6.8bn) Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, part of the Republic's National Treasury Management Agency.
✪ UK Prime Minister Theresa May has received Parliament's first stage approval to begin the process of Britain's exit from the European Union (EU) after winning a crucial vote in the House of Commons.
✪ Kuwait has suspended the issuance of visas for nationals of Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. Kuwait was the only nation to prohibit the entry of Syrian nationals prior to Trump's executive action. Kuwait City previously issued a suspension of visas for all Syrians in 2011.
Right To Information Act
✪ In Sri Lanka, the historic Right to Information (RTI) Act has come into force from 3rd Feb 2017. The act marks the culmination of a movement of over 20 years to ensure transparency in governance and easy availability of information.
Note: The Government has gazetted almost all categories of public authorities that fall within the purview of RTI.
✪ The United States has imposed new sanctions on Iran following its recent ballistic missile test saying that Iran's continued support to terrorism and development of its ballistic missile programme pose a threat to the region, the United States and its partners worldwide
Note: The sanctions target 13 people and 12 companies, including groups in China, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.
✪ More than 1,300 migrants were rescued in 13 separate missions in the Mediterranean, bringing the total helped over the last three days to more than 2,600.
Note: The voyage from Libya across the Mediterranean to Italy is currently the main route to Europe for migrants
A ban on visitors
✪ The United States has cancelled 60,000 travel visas after President Donald Trump ordered a ban on visitors from seven Muslim countries.
✪ As per the report titled 'Development Advocate Pakistan' the Indus Waters Treaty fails to address two issues: the division of shortages in dry years between India and Pakistan, when flows are almost half as compared to wet years, and the cumulative impact of storages on the flows of the River Chenab into Pakistan.
Note: The 40-year-old treaty has been an outstanding example of conflict resolution but scarcity of water in the basin states since the early 1990s has brought the agreement under strain and its 'survival appears weak'.
✪ India and USA have agreed to sustain the momentum on key bilateral defence efforts to build upon the tremendous progress made in bilateral defence co-operation.
✪ A US court has ruled that American authorities can access data with internet companies even if such data is located on foreign servers.
Note: As per the ruling (given by a court in Philadelphia) means personal data on platforms such as Facebook and Google is no longer fire walled from American investigators.
Social Security Agreement
✪ India and Portugal have decided to bring Agreement on Social Security Agreement (SSA) into force. As per Article 22 of the SSA, the said SSA would come into force ninety days following the date of receipt of notification of completion of internal formalities by the respective parties on 8th May 2017.
Note: The Social Security Agreement (SSA) between India and Portugal was signed on in 2013.
✪ India and Austria signed a protocol to amend the existing bilateral taxation treaty for Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion.
Note: The protocol will broaden the scope of the existing framework of exchange of tax related information. This will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance between the two nations as well as enable mutual assistance in relation to collecting taxes.
✪ The 2017 BRICS Summit, an association of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to be held in Xiamen, China in September 2017. The summit will be held under the theme 'BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future'.
Note: It will also feature five key priorities such as deepening cooperation, strengthening global governance, carrying out peopleto-people exchanges, making institutional improvements and building broader partnerships. The BRICS comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
✪ Switzerland's people have voted to relax the country's strict citizenship rules, making it easier for thirdgeneration immigrants to become Swiss. The new proposal will exempt third-generation immigrants, who are born in Switzerland and whose parents and grandparents lived permanently in Switzerland, from interviews and tests in the naturalization process.
★ Being born in Switzerland does not guarantee citizenship and non-Swiss residents must typically wait 12 years before applying.
✪ Thailand is seeking India's cooperation in a number of sectors, such as aerospace, automation, medical devices, pharmaceutical, bio-technology and IT/ ITes, as it strives to transform into a value-based economy.
✪ The UN Security Council has unanimously condemned North Korea's latest ballistic missile launch and threatened to take further significant measures against Pyongyang.
Note: The Council members including China, Pyongyang's main ally, agreed on a USdrafted statement describing the test-firing of the missile as a grave violation of the UN resolutions.
✪ US President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau have pledged to work together to defeat the Islamic State terror group after their first face-to-face meeting.