Sunday, 22 November 2015

Current Affairs November 22, 2015

French President Hollande invited as Republic Day guest
  • French President Francois Hollande has been invited as the chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations in January 2016. If the French Presidency conveys acceptance, Hollande will be returning to India for a State visit after three years.
  • The invitation had been sent “some weeks ago” but the French President’s state visit will assume significance in the backdrop of the Paris terror attacks last week which left 129 people dead and over 300 hundred injured.
  • Though the French Presidency is yet to announce the visit since it is handling the aftermath of the attacks amid a national emergency, Hollande’s visit will be key to forging enhanced counter-terrorism cooperation with France, as it is already a strategic partner on defence and nuclear issues.
  • An invitation to be the Republic Day chief guest is highly symbolic from the Indian government’s perspective. For the 2015 parade, the Modi government had invited Barack Obama, which was his second visit as US President to India. Sources said India was keen to host Hollande since France has emerged as a key strategic partner on defence and nuclear issues. And with the gruesome Paris attacks, counter-terrorism will be a key area of cooperation.
‘Trade must touch $200 b by 2025’
  • The Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the trade between India and the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (Asean) should increase to $100 billion by 2020 and to $200 billion by 2025. During 2014-15, after a temporary decline, the trade stood at $76.5 billion.
  • In his hour-long address at the Asean-India Summit , Mr. Modi pointed out that much of the potential for economic partnership remained untapped and expressed the confidence that trade and investment would expand. He said India would soon extend electronic visa facility to all 10 Asean members.
  • Briefing the media after the summit, Anil Wadhwa, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, said the Prime Minister emphasised the physical, digital and institutional connect between India and Asean.
  • The Prime Minister also intends to set up an Asean-India innovation platform to facilitate commercialisation of low-cost technologies, technology transfer and collaborative research and development projects. Laying special emphasis on India’s partnership with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, he said India would create a project development fund to create manufacturing hubs in the four countries.
Suresh Prabhu inaugurates Silchar-Lumding broad gauge rail line in Assam
  • Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu inaugurated the landmark Silchar-Lumding broad gauge rail line in Assam. Prabhu flagged off a passenger train from New Delhi via video-conference.
  • The rail line brings Assam’s underdeveloped but strategically important Barak Valley on the broad gauge map. The minister said opening the Silchar-Lumding line marked a historic day and he was happy to be a part of it.
  • He said it would accelerate development, as it is the lifeline of Barak Valley and Tripura, Manipur and Mizoram. The regular passenger train service would begin from Monday. Union Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha and Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Sarbananda Sonowal were present at Silchar Railway Station for the flag-off ceremony.

China conducts military drills in South China Sea
  • The Chinese navy has conducted drills that simulate war in “certain waters” in the South China Sea, employing major destroyers and frigates, carrier-based helicopters and new submarines.
  • The exercise was based out of the Sanya training base of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, focusing on anti-submarine warfare, according to a navy statement issued on Friday, without detailing the exact time and places for the maneuvers.
  • It is a regular annual naval drill aimed at implementing President Xi Jinping’s calls for a military that is capable of fighting and winning wars.
  • Naval forces from three fleets conducted “fierce rivalry” in several different waters and have achieved projected objectives, it said, adding the drill has vigorously improved the navy’s anti-submarine combat abilities based on informationalized systems.
China, India vow to fight terror, transnational crime
  • China and India vowed to deepen cooperation in combating terrorism and fighting transnational crime as Home Minister Rajnath Singh held talks with a top Communist Party official.
  • Singh, who arrived, held talks with Meng Jianzhu, head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, on a wide range of issues.
  • China and India should enhance cooperation to combat terrorism and fight transnational crime, Meng said during his meeting with Singh.
  • China and India should also coordinate to improve border entry and exit administration to facilitate people’s travel and promote stability in the region, Meng was quoted by the state-run Xinhua news agency as saying.
US House votes to restrict Iraqi and Syrian refugees entry

  • Dozens of Democrats joined Republicans as the House passed the measure 289-137, in a rebuke to the White House.
  • President Barack Obama has said he will veto the legislation. The bill follows the attacks in Paris that left 129 people dead, claiming to the be the work of Islamic State.
  • Seven of the perpetrators died in the attacks, and one of them is thought to have been a Syrian who entered Europe via Greece with migrants.
  • Syrian refugees in the US explained in graphics
  • House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he supported the bill because “it is against the values of our nation and the values of a free society to give terrorists the opening they are looking for”.

India, China to exchange information on terror activities
  • The Home Ministries of India and China have agreed to be only a phone call away from each other, by deciding to establish missing telecom links, as part of a broader security engagement between the two neighbours.
  • The bridging of the communication divide is part of a major effort, undertaken during the visit of Home Minister Rajnath Singh, to forge institutional linkages between the Ministry of Home Affairs and China’s Ministry of Public Security.
  • A flurry of proposed high-level visits also signals that the process of top level interaction between the two powerful security establishments has finally commenced.
  • The Home Minister was referring to a decision that had been taken during his stay to establish a “working level” group led by a Joint Secretary and a Director General from the Chinese side.
  • This group will report to an apex ministerial level mechanism, which has been flagged during Mr. Singh’s visit. A joint statement pointed out that an “India-China High Level Meeting Mechanism” led by the Home Minister of India and the Minister of Public Security of China would be held in Beijing and Delhi once every two years.
Harshavardhan Neotia named Ficci’s president elect
  • Harshavardhan Neotia, Chairman of Ambuja Neotia group, has been elected president of industry body Ficci for 2016.
  • Neotia, a ‘Padma Shri’ awardee, is also a member of the Rajasthan Chief Minister’s Advisory Council and West Bengal Chief Minister’s Core Committee on Industry.
  • Currently, he is the senior VP of the industry body.
  • Neotia will take over from the current Ficci President Jyotsna Suri during the chamber’s AGM next month, Ficci.
Union Minister Sonowal appointed Assam BJP chief
  • The appointment of Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs, Sarbanand Sonowal, as the chief of the party’s Assam unit. Mr. Sonowal is most likely to be the chief ministerial face of the party as the State goes to the polls early next year. Minister for Environment and Forests Prakash Javadekar made this announcement.
  • The current State unit chief, Siddharth Bhattacharya, has been made a national spokesperson for the party.
  • “Mr. Sharma is a very strong leader from the State and we have managed to do very well in the local body elections in Assam after he joined. But Mr. Sonowal has a cleaner image and would be a better counter-point to Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi,” said a source in the party.

Egypt, Russia sign deal to build a nuclear power plant
  • Moscow and Cairo signed an agreement for Russia to build a nuclear power plant in Egypt, with Russia extending a loan to Egypt to cover the cost of construction.
  • Russia’s state-owned nuclear firm Rosatom said the plant, Egypt’s first, would be built at Dabaa in the north of the country and was expected to be completed by 2022.
  • Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, gave few details but said the project would involve the building of a ‘third-generation’ plant with four reactors.
  • Rosatom said in October that it was in the final stages of negotiating the deal, which it expected to be completed by the end of the year. Egypt has been considering a nuclear plant at Dabaa on and off since the 1980s.
  • But Cairo froze its nuclear plans after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and only announced in 2006, under former President Hosni Mubarak, that it intended to revive them. Mubarak was then overthrown in a revolution in 2011.
  • Egypt, with a population of 90 million and vast energy requirements, is seeking to diversify its energy sources. As well as a nuclear plant, Sisi has talked of building solar and wind energy facilities in the coming three years to generate around 4,300 megawatts of power.

China’s economic slowdown adversely affected India: Rajan
  • China’s pain of economic slowdown is India’s pain too, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said contradicting government assertions that India will not be affected by deceleration of Chinese economy.
  • “The Chinese slowdown is a concern for the whole world. There is a lower demand for some of our exports to China. But indirectly too, many of the countries are not exporting to China as much as they did and they are buying less from us,” Dr. Rajan said in an interview with Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
  • “But India being a commodity importer, has been helped a bit by cheaper commodities. So the impact has not been as bad as it could have been. Still, on the whole, we have been adversely affected by the Chinese slowdown because China’s slowdown has impacted global growth and India is very well integrated into the global economy”, Dr. Rajan said.
  • Dr. Rajan was in Hong Kong to receive honorary doctorate awarded by the Hong University of Science and Technology.
Reliance Defence gets conditional approval for 12 industrial licenses
  • Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Defence has received conditional approval for 12 industrial licenses for eight of its subsidiaries for making defence equipment including aircraft, helicopters, missiles, night vision gear and naval and land systems.
  • The approval is important as Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra), the parent of Reliance Defence, has decided to focus on the defence business.
  • Reliance Group has roped in Rajesh Dhingra, former MD of Lockheed Martin India, to lead the new initiative.
  • Reliance Defence plans to make Gujarat as its hub for making naval systems and warships as RInfra has acquired Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering Company Ltd. for Rs.2,000 crore and plans to spend another Rs.5,000 crore for expansion there.
  • The IAF and Indian Army have a requirement of more than 600 light utility helicopters to replace the existing fleet of Chetak and Cheetah helicopters.

Pankaj Advani leads in best-of-15 final at IBSF World Snooker Championship
  • Eyeing his 15th world title, ace Indian cueist Pankaj Advani was leading 5-2 against young Chinese sensation Zhao Xintong at the break in the best-of-15 final of the IBSF World Snooker Championship here on Saturday.
  • Having already assured India of a medal, Advani warded off a tough challenge from German cueist Lucas Kleckers 7-5 in the final-four encounter late last night.
  • The Bengaluru cueist though was in top form Saturday when he captured the first two frames with breaks of 106 and 56 in the first and the second respectively against the 18-year-old Chinese opponent.
  • Xintong took the third with a break of 53 and looked in total control of the fourth when he got trapped by a deadly snooker behind the brown ball. Unable to convert the snooker, Xintong gave Advani a half chance at the top end which was immediately punished with a spectacular opening red stun pot along the top cushion. Advani thereafter took a 3-1 lead.
  • A deadly safety play by Advani once again put Xintong glued to his seat as India’s posterboy of cue sport kept trapping the teenager inside the baulk line to get openings and went ahead by 4-1.
ATP Finals 2015: Rohan Bopanna-Florin Mergea storm into final
  • Rohan Bopanna and his Romanian partner Florin Mergea made it to the title round of the men’s doubles event at the ATP World Tour Finals after registering a straight-set victory in London.
  • The eighth seeded Indo-Romanian pair stunned third seeded combination of Croatian Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo of Brazil 6-4 6-2 in a semi-finals contest that lasted 59 minutes at The O2 Arena in London.
  • Bopanna and Mergea, who had finished second in Ashe/Smith Group, dominated from the very beginning of their tie on Saturday, winning 93 per cent of their first serve points. They also converted on all four break point chances.
  • Bopanna and Mergea will now take on the winner of the other semi-final match between Bob and Mike Bryan and Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau. The winners of the final will finish the year as Number 1 men’s doubles team. Bopanna will be appearing in his second title match at the ATP World Tour Finals, having reached the final alongside countrymate Mahesh Bhupathi in 2012.
India colts register second successive win
  • India Under-19 cricket team registered their second successive win in the tri-series after they beat Afghanistan by 33 runs at the Jadavpur University ground in Kolkata on Saturday.
  • After the win, India have nine points from two games.
  • Chasing India’s total of 236, the visitors could only manage 203 in 47.3 overs with Rashid Arman top scoring with 43. Khaleel Ahmed picked up 4/41 for India.
Former South Korean President Kim Young-sam dies at age 87
  • Former President Kim Young-sam, who formally ended decades of military rule in South Korea and accepted a massive international bailout during the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis, died on Sunday. He was 87.
  • The chief of Seoul National University Hospital, Oh Byung-Hee, said Mr. Kim died there early Sunday. He said Mr. Kim is believed to have suffered from a severe blood infection and acute heart failure before he died.
  • Mr. Kim was taken to the hospital on Thursday due to a high fever, Mr. Oh said. In recent years, Mr. Kim had been treated at the hospital for stroke, angina and pneumonia, he added.
  • Mr. Kim was an important figure in South Korea’s pro-democracy movement and opposed the country’s military dictators for decades. As president, Mr. Kim laid the foundation for a peaceful power transfer in a country that had been marked by military coups.
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