India finalises civil nuclear deal with Australia to buy uranium
India announced that it had finalised a civil nuclear deal that would allow it to buy uranium from Australia in a bid to
overcome chronic power shortages that have crippled the economy. The statement came more than a year after the two countries signed a preliminary pact on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. With this move, India becomes the first country to buy Australian uranium without being a signatory to the international nuclear nonproliferation
treaty to prevent the spread ofnuclear weapons and weapons technology.
The agreement gives an edge to India- Australia bilateral relations and makes Canberra a long-term reliable supplier of uranium to New Delhi. India has less than two dozen small reactors at six sites with a
capacity of 4,780 MW, or 2% of its total power capacity. It plans to increase its nuclear capacity to 63,000 MW by 2032, adding nearly 30 reactors at an estimatedcost of $85 billion. India currently has nuclear energy agreements with 11 countries and imports uranium from France, Russia and Kazakhstan. However, the Australian government did not make any announcement on the completion of the deal which was pending for ratification since last year at the Australian parliament.
India faced Western sanctions after testing nuclear weapons in 1998 but the restrictions eroded after a deal with the US in 2008 that recognised its growing economic weight as well as safeguards against diversion of civilian fuel for military purposes. Australia has about 40% of the world’s uranium reserves and exports nearly
7,000 tonnes of yellow cake annually.
Union Government signs air agreement with Republic of Korea
Government of India has signed a MoU with Republic of Korea/South Korea for enhancing the existing air service
cooperation between the two nations in an agreement which will strengthen capacity entitlements for both nations and see Korean carriers gaining more access to airports. Air connectivity between the two countries will also be enhanced following this MoU. Two additional points of call- Chennai and Bengaluru have been added to S. Korean carriers. Indian carriers have also been granted additional beyond points as part of the MoU
Ministry of Civil Aviation signs MoUs with 6 nations
ICAN (International Civil Aviation Negotiations),2015 was held in Antalya, Turkey and attended by 106 nations during which “Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)” was signed by India with six countries namely Finland, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Sweden, Norway &Denmark, Oman and Ethiopia and “Agreed Minutes”with Serbia, Greece, European Commission and “Record of Discussions” with Brunei Darussalam and Qatar.
Third India-Africa forum summit held in New Delhi
The third India-Africa forum summit (IAFS) was held in New Delhi recently. The summit is one of the largest gatherings of African countries outside Africa as all 54 nations of the continent have participated. It addressed the key challenges faced by African nations which include food, health and environmental security etc. Provides India an opportunity to forge a constructive and deeper alliance with the resource-rich continent.
IAFS is an official platform for the African-Indian relations. It is held every 3 years and the venue is selected on rotational basis from both sides. The summit was earlier scheduled in December 2014 in New Delhi, but it was postponed to October 2015 due to deadly Ebola outbreak in few western African countries.
US Senate passes cyber security bill
Ignoring the privacy concerns, the US Senate overwhelmingly passed a controversial cybersecurity bill. The Senate
passed the bill by 74-21 votes and now the bill heads for reconciliation with the earlierpassed House cybersecurity bill. The proponents of the bill said will help prevent cyber attacks by facilitating a common awareness in the cyber realm. Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders voted against the bill. The Senate rejected the amendments including one addressing concerns that companies could give the government personal information about their customers.
Another failed amendment would have eliminated part of the bill that would keep secret information about which
companies participate and what they share with the government. Senators have been eager to address cyber security in the wake of recent high-profile hacks of companies such as Sony Pictures and the pilfering of
troves of employee data from the federal Office of Personnel Management.
Asia’s foremost Information Security Conference: Ground Zero Summit, 2015
The Home Ministry recently inaugurated the Asia’s foremost Information Security Conference: Ground Zero Summit 2015. The theme for the Summit is Digital India – ‘Securing Digital India’. The summit is
being organized by the Indian Infosec Consortium (ICC), a not-for-profit organization formed by leading cyber
security professionals of the country.
The summit is the collaborative platform in Asia for cyber security experts and researchers to address emerging cyber security challenges and demonstrate cutting-edge technologies. With the events like Ground Zero Summit and formation of National Cyber Registry, ICC wants to consolidate the cyber security resources in the country
and protect its cyberspace. It is a platform in the region providing opportunities to establish and strengthen relationships between the cyber security community and corporate, PSUs, Government and its
The summit showcased indigenous cyber security products and technologies and Make in India Exhibition of Indian cyber security start-ups.
Pakistan loses UNHRC seat
Pakistan has failed to win a re-election to the top UN human rights body, UNHRC. It garnered just 105 votes in the 193- member General Assembly. A total of 18 members were elected to the UN Human Rights Council through a secret ballot. Pakistan’s current term is set to expire on December 31 and it was seeking re-election to the 47-member Council.
Pakistan lost the seat in the Asia- Pacific category in which five seats were vacant. India is also a member of the
Council and its term will end in 2017. The new members, who will start their threeyear terms from January 1 next year, are Belgium, Burundi, Cd’Ivoire, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Kenya, Panama, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia,
Philippines, Republic of Korea, Togo, Slovenia, Switzerland, UAE and Venezuela.
UNHRC: It is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the
promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. It meets at the UN Office at Geneva. The Council is made up of 47 United Nations Member States which are elected by the UN General Assembly.
The term of each seat is three years, and no member may occupy a seat for more than two consecutive terms. The
council works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and engages the United Nations’ special procedures.
The General Assembly can suspend the rights and privileges of any Council member that it decides has persistently committed gross and systematic violations of human rights during its term of membership. The suspension process requires a two-thirds majority vote by the General Assembly.
Nepal inks fuel agreement with China to ease fuel crisis
Nepal signed its first ever fuel agreement with China under which Beijing will supply all kinds of petroleum products by this it ended a four-decade supply monopoly of the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) and China National United Oil Corporation (PetroChina) in Beijing to supply petroleum products to Nepal. This is the first time that China is commercially supplying petroleum to Nepal, before this India was the sole supplier of petroleum products to Nepal.
Nepal could import 35-40 percent of its total fuel needs.
The country imported fuel worth Rs107.13 billion and Rs131.73 billion in 2012-13 and 2013-14 respectively and
due to extended power cuts and increase in development works, demand for petroleum products in Nepal has been growing by 10 percent annually.
China Ends One-Child Policy
China has dropped its controversial onechild policy fearing that an aging population could be a threat to its economic
development by creating shortfall in the workforce. The recent decision taken by the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) allows all married couples to have two children.
Pressure was mounting on the authorities to ease family-size norms after it became evident that one-child policy was leading to severe labour shortages and an ageing population. According to UN estimates, nearly 440 million people in China would be over 60 by 2050, signaling a sharp decline in the labour pool. Last year, the working population between the ages 15- 59 slid by 3.71 million.
The efforts to limit family size also led to a skewed sex ratio of males to females, because traditional rural families favor boys over girls, sometimes even resorting to infanticide to ensure they have a son. Abolishing the one-child policy would increase labor supply and ease pressures from an aging population, and will benefit sustained and healthy economic development.
One-Child Policy of China: The one-child policy took shape in the late 1970s, when Mr. Deng and other leaders
concluded that China’s growing population threatened to stifle economic growth. The restrictions went into effect in cities, but in the countryside, many families continued to have two or more children.
The government has also exempted ethnic minorities. In 2007, 36% of China’s population was subject to a strict one-child restriction. An additional 53% were allowed to have a second child if the first child was a girl. As the years went on, harsh official campaigns to fine and punish couples who violated the rules, and sometimes to force
abortions, became a source of public discontent.
UNGA Disarmament Committee adopts draft resolution backing abolition of nuclear arms
United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) Disarmament Committee or First Committee has adopted a draft resolution calling for the abolition of nuclear arms. The resolution was submitted by Japan and was adopted by 156 member countries, while 17 abstaining and 3 voting against it including China and Russia.
But it failed to secure endorsement US, Britain, France and other key powers as they abstained from voting despite supporting it. Stresses the inhumanity of nuclear weapons and urges nuclear powers to be more transparent in their disarmament efforts.
It calls for efforts to raise awareness of the humanitarian impact of the use of nuclear weapons. It asks the world leaders to visit the two Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which were devastated by the nuclear attacks. Since 1994, Japan has been spearheading efforts UNGA Disarmament Committee to introduce resolutions on
nuclear arms every year. The UNGA Disarmament Committee or First Committee deals with disarmament, threats
to peace and global challenges that affect the international community. It seeks out solutions to the challenges in the
international security regime.
WTO and FAO to collaborate on trade and food safety
The leaders of the WTO and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations announced their agreement to collaborate on the issue of trade and food safety. The two organisations will look into how sanitary and phytosanitary standards and food safety can facilitate trade and promote development. In many countries,
agriculture remains important in driving economic growth and rural employment.
Their agricultural sectors make different contributions to the achievement of food security and nutrition. There are also growing expectations that WTO rules will ensure that food imports are not only safe, but also contribute to healthy diets and better nutrition. The WTO and the FAO have quite different mandates, but the trade and the multilateral trading system can help in creating a more favourable environment for food security, food safety and sustainable agriculture. WHO officially declares Sierra Leone Ebola-free World Health Organization (WHO), a U.N.
health agency has officially declared Sierra Leone Ebola-free.
This announcement is
considered as a major milestone in UNbacked efforts to wipe out Ebola from the three western African countries viz. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Key facts: WHO’s announcement comes after no new cases were reported
over two incubation periods of human-tohuman transmission of Ebola virus, each of 21 days (Total 42 days) in Sierra Leone.
Now, Sierra Leone’s neighbour Guinea is the only western African country still having few reported cases Ebola since the deadly outbreak began in December 2013. Earlier in May 2015, WHO had officially declared Liberia as first country to be Ebola-free. Since May 2014 after the first Ebola case was reported in Sierra Leone, total 8,704 people were infected with the deadly disease and around 3,589 have died due it, of them 221 are healthcare workers.
The current Ebola outbreak is considered as the deadliest in history. It was initially centred on Guinea’s remote south-eastern region of Nzerekore in early 2013 and later had spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Liberia was worst hit among the western African nations in this outbreak.
As per WHO estimates the deadly epidemic has infected more than 28,600 people across the three hardest-hit West African nations and has claimed 11,300 lives
since December 2013.