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UN Convention on Biodiversity 2012

The 11th Conference of the Forties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity ( CBD ) will be held from 1 – 19th October, 2012 in Hyderabad. Environment Ministers and Forests Ministers of about 194 countries will be attending the Conference, International organizations like World Bank and ADB will also be participating to discuss issues relating to bio – diversity and. bio safety. The conference along with the ‘6th meeting of the conference of the parties serving as the meeting of the parties to Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety’ would be held during the same period. It is a subsidiary agreement to the convention. It seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology, lb date, 159 countries plus the European Union have ratified the Cartagena Protocol.

The Convention on Biological Diversity ( CBD ) – Opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and entering into forced in December 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. With 194 Parties, the Convention has near universal participation among countries. The Convention seeks to address’ all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including threats from climate change, through scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes, the transfer of technologies and good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders including indigenous and local communities, youth, NGOs, women and the business community.
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Sixteenth World Meteorological Congress

The World Meteorological Organization met from 16th May, to 3rd June, 2011 for the Sixteenth World Meteorological Congress at the International Conference Centre of Geneva ( ClCG ).It is to mention here that WMO assembles once every four years to discus following issues :

  • To Determine general policies for the fulfillment of the purposes of WMO;
  • To Consider membership of WMO;
  • To Establish and coordinate the activities of constituent bodies of the Organization;
  • To Approve long – term plans and the budget for the following financial period;
  • To Elect the President and Vice – Presidents of the Organization and members of the Executive Council;
  • To Appoint the Secretary – General.

The Congress was inaugurated by outgoing WMO President, Dr Alexander Bedritskiy and WMO Secretary – General, Mr Michel Jarraud. The World Meteorological Congress endorsed an ambitious globed initiative that will help all communities, and in particular the most vulnerable, cope with the impact of climate change, reduce the risk of natural disasters and safeguard food production, water supplies and health.

These includes the proposed the Global Framework for Climate Services, the WMO Strategy for Capacity Development, the WMO Integrated Global Observing System, the WMO Information System, the Disaster Risk Reduction, the Aeronautical Meteorological Services.

India’s stand :

India looks forward to the deliberations on the Report of the High – Level Task – Force on the Global Framework for climate Services ( GFCS ) and a productive outcome in terms of strengthening and synergizing existing capabilities, keeping in view the inter – governmental agreement on data – sharing and the national policies of all States concerned. In order to be effective, the Framework’s establishment, operation and management must be undertaken by the States themselves. To this end, the States are required to take appropriate steps for the establishment of GFCS and its maintenance, provision of experts and capacity – building.

India is prepared to contribute towards the establishment of this important framework through strengthening of its infrastructure in the region. Substantive enhancement has been achieved through enhancement of state – of – art observing systems through comprehensive modernization program of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services ( NMHS ) of the country – India is establishing observation network through various existing platforms like South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation( SAARC ), Bay of Bengal Initiative for Muti – sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation ( BIMSTEC ), Regional Integrated Multi – Hazard Early Warning System ( RIMES ), etc.

Indian Ocean Global Observation System ( IOGOOS ) has already being implemented along with the globed community. All these data are being organized in a climate data base and is available to the scientific community.

India need to place major emphasis on the generation of improved seasonal and decadal forecasts along with long – term projections of climate change, extreme climate and their impact on various socio – economic sectors like water resources, agriculture, health, ecosystems and coastal areas in the region. As a result of WMO resolution on setting up of Institute for tropical meteorology in its 3rd Congress during April 1959, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology was established in 1962. This is a world class research centre with state – of – art infrastructure and mentoring a dedicated Centre for Climate Change Research.

India has taken lead in establishment of South Asian Climate Outlook Forum ( SASCOF ) under the aegis of WMO for jointly developing and providing long range monsoon forecast. India is providing advisories and support to the ESCAP panel member countries in the field of cyclone and Tsunami warnings. Recently India has set up a joint Indo – African fund and is initiating a program on agro advisory services in Africa which includes transfer of knowledge for establishment of such a system. In India, 2 million farmers are utilising weather service which has helped them improve agricultural practices.

India has established its capabilities in the field of designing and development of sensors along with launching of satellites with optimal utilization of the data for the purpose of weather monitoring and forecasts as well as in the field of disaster management. These include various products generated by Indian Satellite – [ INSAT ], India’s Ocean satellite – [ OCEANSAT ], India’s Weather Satellite with ARgos and ALtika – [ SARAL ], and the Indian – French satellite – [ Megha – Tropiques ]. The satellite based Indian Meteorological Data Casting System – [ IMETCAST ] is being established for dissemination of various meteorological data operated by Indian satellites. Observations from space – based LIDARs and RADARs are being planned in. collaboration with other countries for improved prediction of the tropical ocean generated weather systems. Recognizing the complexity and the challenges faced by the world meteorological community in providing monsoon forecasts for the tropical region, my Government has very recently launched a major programme called the Monsoon Mission with focused objective to achieve forecasts in the seasonal, intra – seasonal and medium range scales. The mission will support cutting edge research by national and international research groups along with strengthening of observational programs that will result in better understanding of the various physical processes associated with the tropical monsoon.

India supports the establishment of an Intergovernmental Board for Climate Services that would report to the WMO Congress and undertake the full and sustained implementation of GFCS. India pledges to support GFCS Secretariat with a grant of US $ 1,25,000.

UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries

The Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries was organized in Istanbul, Turkey from 9 – 13th May, 2011. World leaders discussed ways to fulfill long – term commitments to reduce poverty, hunger and disease in the world’s 48 Least Developed Countries ( LDC ). The LDCs include 33 in Africa, 14 in Asia & Oceania, and one ( Haiti ) in the Western hemisphere. Nepal currently holds the presidency of the LDCs. The conference endorsed the goal of raising half the existing least developed countries out of the LDC category by 2022. As with the Seoul Development Consensus drawn up in 2010, there was a strong emphasis on boosting productive capability and physical infrastructure, with several NGO’s not pleased with the emphases placed on the private sector. Climate change, in particular, poses a severe challenge to the LDCs. While LDCs produce the least greenhouse gas emissions compared with any other country grouping, their agriculture – oriented economies are the most threatened by the effects of a changing climate. Many are prone to desertification, or are at risk from sea – level rise and tropical storms. Others, like Nepal, depend on run – off from mountain glaciers that appear to be receding.

Least developed country ( LDC ) is the name given to a country which, according to the United Nations, exhibits the lowest indicators of socioeconomic development, with the lowest Human Development Index ratings of all countries in the world. The concept of LDCs originated in the late 1960s and the first group of LDCs was listed by the UN in its resolution 2768 ( XXVI ) of 18th November, 1971. LDC criteria are reviewed every three years by the Committee for Development Policy ( CDP ) of the UN Economic and Social Council ( ECOSOC ).

Since the LDC category was initiated, only three countries have graduated to developing country status. The first country to graduate from LDC status was Botswana in 1994. The second country was Cape Verde, in 2007. Maldives became the third country to graduate to developing country status on 1st January, 2011. In 2011 the UN suggested that Equatorial Guinea, Samoa, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu are among the candidates for promotion from LDC status.

India set to be world’s largest economy by 2050′

India is likely to become the world’s largest economy worth $85.97 trillion in a matter of just 40 years, surpassing China and the US. “China should overtake the US to become the largest economy in the world by 2020, and then be overtaken by India by 2050,” said a report by – financial services group Citi on Global Growth Generators on 23rd February, 2011. The estimates are based on purchasing power parity ( PPP ), an economic growth indicator that takes into account the purchasing power of each country’s currency, instead of the prevailing exchange rate conversion. According to the report, India’s real per capita GDP is likely to grow at 6.4 per cent annually over s the 40 – year period between 2010 and 2050.

While by 2015, it will overtake Japan to be the third largest economy in the world, it would surpass the US to become the second largest by 2040.
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Puppet Dances
BommalattamTamil Nadu
Malasutri BahulyMaharashtra
Pava KathakaliKerala
Pudda NachAssam
Sakhi KundheiOrissa

India is truly an – emerging markets economy as regards the sectoral composi­tion of its production and labour force,” the report said but added that “India’s assets are many.” The Indian economy will shine owing to its huge demographic dividend, high savings rate and education system. ‘India’s population of working age is expected to grow by 40.7 percent between 2010 and 2050″. The report further notes, its education system, while not without weaknesses, produces a large pool of cheap, internationally competitive, English – speaking graduates, allowing India to build up a comparative advantage in certain sectors, such as IT.” However it has cautioned that for India to actually realise this forecast it will have to ensure that its working population is educated and trained as well as to create a large number of productive jobs.

The report has also stressed on the need to improve the country’s infrastructure, improve its attitude to foreign direct investments as well as overhaul its education system. “India has to move from a position of educating a limited number of youngsters very well but not the majority ( especially females in rural areas and the lower castes almost everywhere ) to one of educating all its youth properly, it said. The report has also called for a further round of deregulation of the domestic economy and further trade liberalisation. Pricing water, energy and other resources at full marginal social long – run cost, at least for all producers is also essential. But, while India may top in terms of GDP by 2050, the growth may not be very inclusive as it does not find a place in the top countries on the basis of GDP per capita. India starts way below the frontier : it ranks 54th in real per capita GDR at $3298 in 2010. City has pointed out that North America and Western Europe’s share of world’s real GDP ( in terms of USD calculated on PPP basis is expected to fall from 41 per cent in 2010 to just 18 per cent in 2050.

Networked Readiness Index

India has slipped by five places on the INSEAD and World Economic Forum’s Annual Globed Information Technology Report unveiled on 29th April, 2011. India has 48th rank on the Networked Readiness Index ( NR1 ) featured in the report, down from 43rd position last year.

1Mihir SenThe first to cross the Dardanelles by swimming
2Sherpa Tenzing ( 1953 )The first to conquer Everest
3MagellanThe first to sail round the world 4Bjorn BorgThe first person to win Wimbledon title five times in a row
5Jungko Tabei ( Japan )The first woman who conquered Everest
6Robert Edwin PearyThe first person to reach North Pole
7Roald AmundsenThe first person to reach South Pole 8Nawang GombuThe first man to climb Everest twice
9David Hempleman Adam ( UK )The first person to complete solo walk to magnetic North Pole
10Ann BancroftThe first woman to reach North pole
11KaycotteeThe first woman to sail non - stop around the world alone
12Taranath Shenoy ( India )The first deaf & dumb to cross the strait of Gibraltar
13Santosh Yadav ( India )The first woman to climb Mt. Everest twice
14Dicky Dolma ( India )The youngest woman to climb Mt.Everest
15Arthur Ashe ( US )The first black player to win
the Wimbledon men's singles title
16Baidyanata NathThe first person to win the Palk Strait ocean swimming contest

With coverage of 138 economies world – wide, the Report is a comprehensive interna­tional assessment of the impact of ICT ( information and communication technology ) on the development process – and the competitiveness of nations. NRI examines how prepared countries are to use ICT effectively on three dimensions : the general business, regulatory and infrastructure environment for ICT; the readiness of individuals, businesses and governments to use and benefit from ICT; and, third, their actual usage of available ICT. While India was better on the readiness component, ranking at 33, it ranked 67 on the usage component. On the environment component, India ranked 58.

Sweden and Singapore led the rankings by placing first and second in the NRI, respectively. Finland ( 3 ) rose in the rankings, followed by Switzerland ( 4 ) and the US ( 5 ). The Nordic countries led in leveraging ICT. With Denmark in 7th and Norway in 9th place, all are in the top 10, except for Iceland, ranked in 16th position. Led by Singapore in second place, the other Asian economies continue to make progress in the ranking, with Taiwan and Korea improving five places to 6th and 10th, respectively, and Hong Kong at 12th.

The NRI uses a combination of data from publicly available sources, as well as the results of the Executive Opinion Survey, a comprehensive annual survey conducted by the World Economic Forum with its network of partner institutes ( leading research institutes and business organizations ) in the countries included in the report.

India 62nd in Global Innovation Index rankings

India was ranked 62nd in the 2011 edition of the Global Innovation Index rankings from being 56th in 2010 and 41st in 2009 issued on 1st July, 2011 by the leading international business school INSEAD and its knowledge partners, Alcatel – Lucent, Booz & Company, C1I and the World Intellectual Property Organisation ( WIPO ). Switzerland topped this year’s list. The others in the top 5 are Sweden, Singapore, Hong Kong and Finland. The other major countries are; US ( 7 ), China ( 29 ), Brazil ( 47 ) and Russia ( 56 ).

The Globed Innovation Index is computed as an average of the scores across inputs pillars ( describing the enabling environment for innovation ) and output pillars ( measuring actual achievements in innovation ).

The Innovation – Input Sub – Index comprises five pillars : ‘Institutions / ‘Human capital and research / ‘Infrastructure’, ‘Market sophistication’ and ‘Business sophistication’. The Innovation Output Sub – Index is composed of two pillars : ‘Scientific outputs’ and ‘Creative outputs’. The Innovation Efficiency Index, calculated as the ratio of the two Sub – Indices, examines how economies leverage their enabling environments to stimulate innovation results.

India 16th most risky place to invest9 – Global Risks Atlas 2011

The United Kingdom – based Global Risks Atlas 2011 report described India as the 16th riskiest country to invest in for the security hazards it poses and rather embarrassingly dubs it with Niger, Bangladesh and Mali. The Atlas is published by Maplecroft, a consultancy founded by Alyson Warhurst. The evaluation is structured on seven key global risks including macroeconomic risk and threats around security, governance, resource security, climate change, social resilience and illicit economies. The report assessed India faces simultaneous threats of terrorist attacks from Islamists and Maoists and also points at India’s lack of social resilience despite a robust economic growth and cites its poor human rights record. It says large sections of the population lack access to basic services such as education, healthcare and sanitation, and highlights its less productive workforce; greater susceptibility to pandemics and susceptible to social unrest.

The four countries, flagged red as extreme risks are Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo; in other words, un – investible. Pakistan is not far behind at 7th. In an exacting analysis, even developed markets like the US and Western Europe, including the UK, are branded medium risk. Only 35 out of the 175 countries covered in the groups Globed Risks Atlas 2011, ranked as low risk. Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway are listed as among the least risky countries to invest; and Norway claimed the overall crown as the safest place.

India, is world’s largest arms importer – SIPRI

India has emerged as the largest importer of conventional arms, accounting for nearly a tenth of all arms transfer between 2006 and 2010, said the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute ( SIPRI ) in its latest arms transfer report published on 15th March, 2011. The; four largest importers of conventional weapons in 2006 – 2010 are located in Asia. The share of the top four countries are : India ( 9 per cent ), China ( 6 per cent ), South Korea ( 6 per cent ) and Pakistan ( 5 per cent ). Indian imports of major conventional weapons are driven by a range of factors. The most often cited relate to rivalries with Pakistan and China, as well as internal security challenges. India is also using its huge imports to develop domestic manufacturing capabilities. As an importer, India is demanding offsets and transfers of technology to boost its own arms industry, and, in order to secure orders, major suppliers are agreeing to such demands.

The volume of deliveries to India in 2006 – 2010 was 21 per cent higher than in 2001 – 2005. Aircraft accounted for 71 per cent of imports, with deliveries in 2010 of 35 SU – 30MKI and 10 MiG – 29 SMT combat aircraft from Russia, as well as a second Phalcon airborne early warning aircraft from Israel. India imports 82 per cent of its list from Russia. Britain ( six per cent ) and Israel ( three per cent ) are the second and third largest suppliers of arms for India. The average volume of worldwide arms transfers in 2006 – 10 was 24 per cent higher them in 2001 – 2005. The major recipient region in 2006 – 2010 remained Asia and Oceania ( 43 per cent of all imports ), followed by Europe ( 21 per cent ), the Middle East ( 17 per cent ), the Americas ( 12 pet cent ) and Africa ( seven per cent ). The USA remains the world’s largest exporter of military equipment, accounting for 30 per cent of global arms exports in 2006 – 2010. During this period, 44 per cent of US deliveries went to Asia and Oceania, 28 per cent to the Middle East and 19 per cent to Europe. SIPRI is an independent international institute, dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament. Its work is mostly funded by the Swedish parliament.
Third BRICS Summit 2011

BRICS leaders of five emerging economies concluded their third Summit at Sanya, China on 14th April, 2011 in which they discussed the global economic situation hoping to build up a new era of prosperity in the world. The Forum, which initially began as BRIC ( without South Africa ), has held two Summits earlier ( June 2009 at Yekaterinburg, Russia & April 2010 at Brasilia, Brazil ). This year South Africa was formally admitted to the Forum. All the five BRICS nations are members of the UN Security Council and G – 20. The Summit was attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Presidents of China – Hun Jintao, Russia – Dmitry Medvedev, Brazil – Dilma Rousseff and South Africa – Jacob Zuma.

Share in world GDP : The BRICS countries are the most representative countries among emerging markets. The combined population of the five countries is close to three billion, accounting for 43 per cent of the world total. Their combined gross domestic product, or GDP, is $11 trillion, or 16 per cent of the world’s total GDP Their GDP share in the global pie, however, goes up to almost 25 per cent when compared against their GDP on a purchasing – power – parity basis.
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Trade in local currencies : India on 14th April, 2011 agreed to an arrangement to facilitate and expand the system of settling in local currencies all trade transactions among members of the BRICS group of countries. The agreement followed consultations among development banks representing Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, held with a view to strengthening the BRICS inter – bank cooperation. At $4.6 trillion, the five BRICS countries account for almost 15 per cent of global trade volume, but trade among them is only about $230 billion a year. The expanded system of settling trade in local currencies could boost intra – BRICS trade.

Permanent membership of UNSC : India has secured a significant endorsement of its aspirations for a permanent place in the United Nations Security Council ( UNSC ). The endorsement came in the form of the Sanya Declaration, adopted after the BRICS Summit held in Sanya on 14th April, 2011, when leaders of the five countries met and reviewed the global economic and political situation. The Declaration has reaffirmed the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including the Security Council. In addition, it has noted : “China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to the status of India, Brazil and South Africa in international affairs and understand and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.” India, Brazil and South Africa at present are non – permanent members of the UNSC for 2011 – 2012.

International economic issues : The Sanya Declaration is significant also for the stance it has adopted on major international economic issues. It has stepped up the pressure on the developed world to expedite necessary reforms in the international financial and monetary system, so that they can remove the inadequacies and deficiencies brought to light by the financial crisis in 2008. The leaders reiterated the need for a broad – based international reserve currency system and welcomed the discussion about the role of special drawing rights or SDRs in the existing international monetary system, including the composition of SDR’s basket of currencies. It has also endorsed the need to resist all protectionist policies, conclude the Doha round of trade talks under the World Trade Organisation without further delay and strengthen the institution of the Group of 20, already in place as the primary instrument for settling all international economic issues.

On Libya : The Sanya Declaration does not shy away from politically sensitive international developments. On the developments in Libya, the leaders have affirmed to continue the BRICS solidarity and co – operation in the UN Security Council, in addition to supporting the African Union High – Level Panel Initiative on Libya,

IBSA : The grouping of India, Brazil and South Africa ( IBSA ) on 14th April, 2011 reaffirmed its relevance despite the formation of BRICS ( Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa ). This was endorsed in separate meetings Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and South African President Jacob Zuma at Sanya.

Medvedev signs New START Treaty

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on 28th January, 2011 signed into law the ratification of a landmark nuclear arms cut pact with the United States, a day after Federation Council, the Upper House of the Russian Parliament, unanimously endorsed the pact. The treaty limits each country to 1,550 strategic warheads, down from the current ceiling of 2,200, and to 700 deployed carrier vehicles. The treaty was earlier passed by the State Duma, or the lower house of the Russian parliament, in the third and fined reading on 25th January, 2011. The U.S. Senate ratified the pact on 22nd December, 2010.

The treaty will enter into force after the two sides exchange the instruments of ratification. This is likely to happen during the February 4 – 6 Munich Security Conference to be attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The ratification law approved by the Russian Parliament also says that Moscow would pull out of the treaty if the U.S. deploys a global missile defence that will impair Russian security. Meanwhile, Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said that Russia “will not cut a single missile or bomber” because it has a significantly smaller number of them than the treaty allows. In fact, Russia may deploy new missiles to catch up with the New START ceilings.

German Parliament approves end to nuclear power by 2022

Germany’s lower house of Parliament on 30th June, 2011 overwhelmingly approved plans to shut the country’s nuclear plants by 2022, putting Europe’s biggest economy on the road to an ambitious build – up of renewable energy. The lower house of parliament voted 513 – 79 for the shutdown plan drawn up by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government after Japan’s post – earthquake nuclear disaster. Germany’s remaining nine reactors will be shut down in stages by the end of 2022. By 2020, Germany wants to double the share of energy stemming from water, wind, sun or biogas to at least 35 percent. Until this year, nuclear energy accounted for close to 25 per cent of Germany’s power supply. The June 30 vote completed a spectacular about – face on nuclear energy by Merkel’s centre – right coalition. Only last year, it had amended a previous centre – left government’s plan to abandon nuclear power by the early 2020s and extended the life span of Germany’s 17 reactors by an average 12 years.

ECOSOCs New President

Lazarous Kapambwe of Zambia was newly – elected President of the UN Economic and Social Council ( ECOSOC ). Kapambwe, who was elected as ECOSOCs sixty – seventh president at an organizational meeting of the Council, also stated that ECOSOC needed to accelerate its review and coordination of the implementation of the eight Millennium Development Goals ( MDGs ), which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV / AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015. Kapambwe stressed the importance of promoting closer collaboration between the Council and its functional commissions, and better linking of its work with that of the executive boards of UN funds and programs, as well as other UN regional entities, in order to enhance the UN’s system – wide coherence.

The outgoing president of ECOSOC, Hamidon Ali of Malaysia, outlined the Council”s successes over the past year, highlighting, among other accomplishments, the recognition that gender equality is not only a development goal in itself, but a means towards achieving other globally agreement development priorities, including the MDGs.

ECOSOC is the United Nations” principal organ to coordinate economic, social, and related work of the 14 UN specialized agencies, functional commissions and five regional commissions. It serves as the central forum for discussing international economic and social issues, and for formulating policy recommendations addressed to member states and the UN system.

Dutch Caribbean islands embrace dollar in 2011

Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius adopted the United States dollar as the sole legal currency, reducing the use of the Netherlands Antillean guilder to Curasao and Sint Maarten. All Netherlands Antillean guilders in bank accounts across Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will be automatically converted. The conversion comes nearly three months after the breakup of the Netherlands Antilles – colonized by the Dutch in the 17th century, as the islands became Dutch municipalities. The U.S. dollar already serves as the islands’ second currency. Complicating the transition is the introduction of a new tax structure that eliminates import and sales taxes.

UAE’s First Nuclear Reactor

The United Arab Emirates nuclear regulatory agency is going forward with a review for the Gulf nation’s first atomic energy’ plants. The agency will also integrate findings from Japan’s crisis to make them safer. According to William Travers, the UAE’s Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation director – general, a second round of safety reviews will be conducted once one already under way is finished.

Travers further added that the information gleaned from Japan’s experience with several reactors damaged by an earthquake and tsunami will be used to improve the safety of the peaceful nuclear power program in the UAE. At the same time, the UAE is planning to open its first nuclear power plant in the year 2017.

World’s longest sea – bridge opens in China

The world’s longest sea bridge, spanning 36.48 km across the mouth of the Jiaozhou Bay in eastern Shandong Province, opened to traffic on 30th June, 2011, after four years of construction. The 14.8 – billion – yuan ( $2.3 – billion ) bridge connects urban Qingdao with the city’s less – developed district of Huangdao. Authorities expect the project to boost the development of an industrial zone in Huangdao and to facilitate the rise of foreign trade by increasing the port’s handling capacity. The bridge would shorten the route between Huangdao and urban Qingdao by 30 km, cutting the travel time down from over 40 minutes to around 20 minutes. Before the project’s completion, the Hangzhou Bay Bridge across the bay of Hangzhou, in eastern Zhejiang Province, was considered the world’s longest sea bridge. Qingdao officials also announced the completion of a 9.47 – km – long undersea tunnel that runs parallel to the bridge.

Poland takes over EU presidency

Poland took over the EU Presidency from Hungary as of 1st July, 2011. Fbland carries out EU Presidency for the first time since it joined the Union in 2004. Fblish Prime Minister Donald Tusk declared that the 6 – month Polish presidency would be conducted under the banner of good cooperation.

Economic growth : Poland’s priorities over the next six months include further coordination among EU countries to boost economic recovery and generate jobs. The country supports proposals for a single market act, which will make it easier to reside and do business across Europe. These include the development of cross – border digital services and online commerce. During its presidency, EU countries begin negotiations on the 2014 – 2020 EU budget proposals. Poland calls for leaders to focus EU funds on promoting growth, such as investments in key infrastructure and skills training. Also on – the agenda are proposals to better regulate the financial markets, aiming to avoid another crisis.

Food, energy and security : Other priorities include work on common approaches to food and energy supplies, security and defense. Ongoing reform of the common agricultural policy should focus on ensuring food security, promoting sustainable agriculture and developing rural areas. Meanwhile, Poland will work on a common energy strategy strengthening the EU’s ability to secure cheaper and more reliable supplies on the international markets. It also wants further cooperation on security and defense policies, aiming at better coordination in areas such as border control and responding more effectively to crises and emergencies.

International approach : The presidency will also seek closer EU relations with eastern European countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus. Fbland hopes to advance talks on association agreements, removing trade barriers and visa liberalisation. Fbland supports EU expansion, in particular Croatia’s final steps to becoming a member, and ongoing talks with Turkey and Iceland. A common approach encouraging North African countries to make a transition to democracy is part of the programme.

Lagarde IMF Managing Director

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde was on 28th June, 2011 elected Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, maintaining Europe’s grasp on the top job at the global lender. Lagarde, is the first woman to lead the IMF; succeeding Dominique Strauss – Kahn, who resigned in May to defend himself against charges of sexual assault against a hotel maid in New York. Her victory over Mexico’s Central Bank Governor Agustin Carstens was assured after the United States made its support dear and emerging market economies China, Brazil and Russia did the same. She will have to immediately deal with an IMF – European Union effort to keep debt – stricken Greece afloat.

First female SAARC secretary – general Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed

A former Attorney General of the Republic of Maldives and a former parliamentarian, Ms. Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed is the tenth secretary – general of SAARC and the first woman to occupy this prestigious position. She was appointed secretary – general at the Thirty – third Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers in February, 2011, and assumed office in Kathmandu on 1st March, 2011. She succeeded India’s Sheel Kant Sharma, who’s term ended in February. She was previously the Maldives1 Attorney General, and also served as the Maldivian Government’s Envoy for South Asia.

Jose Graziano elected FAO Director – General

Jose Graziano da Silva, a former food security minister of Brazil, has been elected Director – General of the Rome – headquartered. Food and Agriculture Organisation ( FAO ), the U.N. agency tasked with reducing world hunger at a time of record high food prices. Graziano, currently FAO’s regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, won on the second ballot with 92 of the 180 votes of FAO member states on 26th June, 2011 in Rome. He beat out Miguel Angel Moratinos of Spain and four other candidates to replace Jacques Diouf of Senegal, whose 18 – year tenure prompted a change in the agency’s rules to set term limits. The Rome – based FAO is the largest U.N. agency with an annual budget of about $1 billion. It has faced longstanding calls from top donors like the United States for reform and budget cuts. World food prices hit a record high earlier this year, triggered mainly by bad weather, reviving memories of soaring prices in 2007 – 2008 that sparked riots in countries such as Egypt, Haiti and Cameroon. “Current food security crisis that has left almost one billion people hungry could turn into a permanent disaster, endangering millions of lives as well as international cooperation”, said former UN Secretary – General Kofi Annan, who chairs the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, warned on 27th June, 2011 in Rome.

UN Women launches scheme for widow’s welfare

Recognising the plight of widows in India whose lives are often mired in poverty and neglect, the UN women launched a new programme for widows in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka on the occasion of 100th International Women’s Day on 8th March, 2011. India has an estimated 40 million widows in India, and their lives are often mired in poverty, neglect, and deprivation. The time has come for us to act and create space for widows in mainstream policy and social welfare schemes. The three – year programme, funded jointly by UN Women Swiss National Committee and Standard Chartered Bank, Will be implemented in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka to reduce social ostracism faced by widows. In India, UN Women will work with widows affected by HIV, the focus will be on young widows in Nepal and widows living in conflict – areas in Sri Lanka.

The programme will be implemented in partnership with [ non – governmental organizations ] Guild of Service and Astha Sansthan in India, Wom6n for Human Rights ( WHR ) in Nepal, and Women’s Education and Research Centre in Sri Lanka. UN Women, formally known as the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, is the United Nations’ most ambitious effort ever to accelerate actions to achieve gender equality.

India – South Korea nuclear pact singed

India signed its ninth civil nuclear agreement with South Korea which will allow the latter to bid for the sale of its nuclear reactors and technology to India. The significance of the agreement is that it now provides South Korea with a legal foundation to participate in India’s nuclear expansion program, and to bid for constructing nuclear power plants in India. Some are pure fuel supplies pact while others include all aspects of the relationship such as fuel supply, R&D and setting up of civil nuclear plants.

The pact with South Korea will focus on the last two aspects. South Korea recently joined the ranks of civil nuclear power exporters when it bagged $20 billion worth of orders from the United Arab Emirates beating stiff competition from the French company Areva for building four nuclear plants. The civil nuclear pact was a result of the all – round comprehensive relationship being forged by India with East Asian and South East Asian countries. India has signed a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement ( CEPA ) with South Korea which, in the first full year of operation in 2010, led to a 46 per cent growth in trade. Interestingly, the growth rate of both South Korean and Indian exports were the same during this period. The countries with which India has signed similar pacts are Russia, the United States, France, Mongolia, Argentina, Kazakhstan, the United Kingdom and Canada. Currently, South Korea has 21 reactors providing 40 percent of this country’s power. Plans are afoot to increase it to 56 percent by 2020.

India – Norway joint polar Research

The Indo – Norwegian meeting titled ‘Pole to Pole’, included an exhibition and a seminar, and was organised by the Ministry of Earth Sciences and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in collaboration with the Ministry’s National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research ( NCAOR ), Goa, and the Norwegian Polar Institute, Troms. Such collaborative research, the scientists of the two countries believe, will yield new insights into the effects of climate change and, indeed, the Polar Regions are referred to as nature’s laboratories. Geology, glaciology and bacteriology were identified as the key areas for future collaboration in polar science. India’s first expedition to Antarctica was in 1981. India expanded its polar research by undertaking its first Arctic expedition in August 2007 and setting up its Arctic research station Himadri1 at Nye – Alesund in the Svalbard region of Norway in 2008 to mark the International Polar Year ( IPY ). India established its first Antarctic research station Gangotri in 1983 and the second permanent station Maitri in 1989.

It is establishing its third Antarctic station at Larsemann in East Antarctica. Norway has a sovereign right over the Svalbard region, which is governed by the Svalbard Treaty of 1920. The Treaty today has 40 member countries. India signed the Treaty in 1923 which gives it the right to establish a research station there. India and Norway are the nearest neighbours in Antarctica and have been carrying out joint research in the past. It is, in fact, known that the Arctic is undergoing dramatic climate change. According to Nalan Koc of the Norwegian Polar Institute, the Arctic summer is disappearing and one is already seeing the impact of climate change from the observed loss of sea ice. According to her, temperature anomalies in the fall in the Arctic during 2005 – 2008 have been greater than 5 {+0} C, which could affect weather patterns even away from the Arctic.

Unique natural system

At the Indian station in Svalbard, research is being done on long – term monitoring of Kongsfjorden, a unique natural system where saline water input from the Atlantic mix with the fresh water melt from the Arctic glaciers. Svalbard’s geology is also unique where a complete geological column extending from Precambrian is exposed. Investigations are also being carried .out on aerosol and precursor gases over the Arctic region, diversity of Arctic cyanobacteria, crustal formation studies and assessment of the flora and fauna of the Arctic.

NSG decides to strengthen guidelines on ENR transfer

In a decision that could have a bearing on India, the Nuclear Suppliers Group ( NSG ) has decided to strengthen its guidelines on the transfer of sensitive enrichment and reprocessing technologies ( ENR ) at its two – day meeting in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, which ended on 24th June, 2011. The 46 – nation NSG also considered “all aspects of the implementation of the 2008 Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India. India had got a “clean waiver” from NSG in September 2008. Under the terms of the waiver, NSG members are allowed to make ENR transfers to India.

The public statement of the Nuclear Suppliers Group ( NSG ) on 24th June, 2011 stated that The NSG agreed to strengthen its guidelines on the transfer of sensitive enrichment and reprocessing technologies;” without elaborating the changes to the guidelines. However, it is commonly understood that one of the major substantive changes, of concern to India, was the condition that suppliers should not authorise the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing facilities, and equipment and technology, if the recipient is not a party to the Non – Proliferation Treaty ( NPT ) and is in full compliance with its obligations under the treaty. The changes to the NSG guidelines have caused some concern in India since India Is not a member of the NPT and hence under the new NSG guidelines not eligible for ENR ( enrichment and reprocessing ) transfers from the NSG members. The US has sought to play down any concerns, saying the NSG decision would bring India “closer” to international commerce in the nuclear sector.

France has sought to reassure India that its recent endorsement of tighter rules for the export of ENR at the NSG “in no way undermines the parameters of our bilateral cooperation” in the nuclear field. France is committed to the full implementation of its cooperation agreement on the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy signed on 30th September, 2008, Ambassador of France to India Jerome Bonnafont said in a statement on 1st July, 2011.

India’s membership of NSG

Meanwhile, the Nuclear Suppliers Group ( NSG ) began consideration of an American proposal to enroll India as a member. The NSG admits new members by consensus on the basis of a ‘procedural arrangement, which stipulates that the proposed candidate must be a party to the Nuclear Non – Proliferation Treaty ( NPT ) or a regional nuclear weapons free zone, place all its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards if it is a non – nuclear weapon state, be in a position to supply items on the NSG control lists, and adhere to the group’s guidelines and non – proliferation efforts.

India’s membership of the NSG is going to be difficult because this will be the first time the group will consider the case of a country, which has not signed the NPT Israel and Pakistan are the two other countries, besides India, that have not signed the NPT, while North Korea, which signed, has since walked out. The U.S. backing for Indian membership of the NSG and other multilateral arms control bodies follows the public commitment made by U.S. President Barack Obama. Countries opposed to the move argue that allowing India to join the NSG could trigger similar demands from Pakistan and Israel.

In its paper, the U.S. has said that it believes the NSG will be justified in assessing India to be a like minded partner based on the steps it has taken and will take to separate its military and civil nuclear program.

UNICEF unveils Humanitarian Action for Children Report, 2011

The United Nations Children’s Fund ( UNICEF ) on 6th March, 2011 released the Humanitarian Action for Children Report, 2011, requesting $1.4 billion in its appeal to donors to assist children and women caught in the throes of crises. The report highlights 32 countries and emphasizes the increasing importance of strengthening the resilience of communities. The world witnessed overpowering humanitarian crises in 2010 : flooding in Pakistan submerged one – fifth of the country; the earthquake in Haiti claimed over 200,000 lives and displaced millions; the parched earth and lack of food across the Sahel continues to threaten hundreds of thousands of children with acute malnutrition. These emergencies claim the headlines, but there are many more lesser – reported crises affecting the lives of children and families, the report points out. Around the world, drought, famine, violent conflict, and long – term displacement are a reality for millions of people. These humanitarian crises have dire consequences for children, among them, recruitment into armed forces, sexual violence, and the loss of basic services such as water, health and education.

The report shows areas where urgent action is imperative to save lives, to protect children against violence and abuse, and to ensure access to basic services, such as water, sanitation, health, nutrition and .education. The 32 countries targeted in this appeal have been prioritised based on the scale of the crisis, the severity of its impact on children and women, the chronic or protracted nature of the crisis, and the potential to bring about life – saving and long lasting results.

President Patil visits Mauritius

President Pratibha Patil went oh a five – day state visit to Mauritius from 23 – 27th April, 2011, during which she addressed the country’s Parliament and received a doctorate degree. Patil held meetings with her counterpart, Mauritius President Anerood Jugnauth, and also with the island nation’s Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam during the visit The President addressed the 70 – member National Assembly of Mauritius and was conferred a degree of Doctor of Civil Law Honoris Causa by the University of Mauritius.

A high – level group of 57 Indian business people also accompanied the President during the state visit. Mauritius is the single largest source for foreign direct investment to India, accounting for 40 percent of FDI flows in the last ten years. According to Reserve Bank of India, the amount of FDI flows from Mauritius to India was $49.11 billion from April 2000 to December 2009. Last year alone, the FDI from Mauritius stood at $10.37 billion. There had been a sharp increase, in the use of Mauritius as a base for offshore entities targeting India, especially after the signing of Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement in 1998.The bilateral trade volume currently stands at $460 – 470 million.

Bilateral ties

Discussions between two nations focused on issues covering the vast framework of Indo – Mauritian relations, both sides expressed satisfaction over the current state of ties that exist between the two countries and agreed that there is untapped potential which can be exploited particularly in the areas of trade and economic cooperation, as well as regards business opportunities in both countries.

Mauritius and India have also agreed to further enhance exchanges in the fields of higher education, information technology, science and technology, tourism, hospitality and culture. President Patil highlighted the fact that the support of Mauritius on global issues of crucial importance to India is highly valued, especially its consistent support to India’s candidature for permanent membership in an expanded United Nations Security Council.

Economic ties between India and Mauritius date back to the 1800s. India remains the main import, economic and investment market for the country. In 2010, Indian exports to Mauritius stood at approximately USD 1.1 billion, representing about 22.3% of Mauritian total imports. Total investments from India account for nearly MUR 2.9 billion thus positioning India as the second single most important foreign investor in Mauritius.

On the other hand, outward investments from Mauritius by Mauritian nationals into India stood at about MUR 1.1 billion and the main sectors attracting Mauritian investment in India include banking and financial services, textile, logistics and travel amongst others.

India, Sri Lanka MoU to re – build Kankesanthurai port

India and Sri Lanka signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the Kankesanthurai port, the first Such deep – water facility to be re – built in the northern peninsula.The port has become useless after it came under repeated attacks from the LTTE , which controlled the surrounding areas. It is the key to connecting the Jaffna peninsula with the rest of Sri Lanka and also with regional destinations, especially India.

The Kankesanthurai port will give the north a window to the world and restore both regional and domestic connectivity. The port will significantly reduce the transit time of goods from and to India, Bangladesh and the neighborhood, and will give a fillip to economic activities in the north, which is trying to find its feet after three decades of civil war.

The main problem in re – building the port is the presence of the wrecks of six ships. The contract to remove the wrecks has been awarded to a Singapore – based firm. RITES, an Indian public sector engineering consultants, has started preparing a detailed project report. Once Sri Lanka approves the report, India will begin work on deepening the port. Two years

Once the project report is approved, the Dredging. Corporation of India will begin the deepening work. A government of India grant of $20 million will fund some parts of the project. A concessional line of credit has also been extended.

UNESCO’s 2011 Global Monitoring Report released

Armed conflict is robbing 28. million children of an education by exposing them to widespread rape and other sexual violence, targeted attacks on schools and other human rights abuses, says the UNESCO’s 2011 Global Monitoring Report released on 1st March, 2011. The report, ‘The hidden crisis : Armed conflict and education’, cautions that the world is not on track to achieve by 2015 the six Education for All goals that over 160 countries signed up to in 2000. Although there has been progress in many areas, most of the goals will be missed by a wide margin – especially in regions affected by conflict. The report is endorsed by four Nobel Peace Prize laureates : Oscar Arias Sanchez ( Costa Rica ), Shirin Ebadi ( Islamic Republic of Iran ), Jose ‘ Ramos – Horta ( Timor – Leste ) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu ( South Africa ).

Of the total number of primary school age children in the world who are not enrolled in school, 42% – 28 million – live in poor countries affected by conflict. This year’s report sets out a comprehensive agenda for change, including tougher action against human rights violations, an overhaul of global aid priorities, strengthened rights for displaced people and more attention to the ways education failures can increase the risk of conflict. Thirty – five countries were affected by armed conflict from 1999 to 2008.

Children and schools are on the front line of these conflicts, with classrooms, teachers and pupils seen as legitimate targets. Hundreds of schools in conflict – ridden countries wire destroyed, damaged or looted during fighting in 2009 and 2010 between government and rebel forces. Insecurity and fear associated with sexual violence keep young girls, in particular, out of school. Armed conflict is also diverting public funds from education into military spending, the report warns. Many of the poorest countries spend significantly more on arms than on basic education. Twenty – one countries spend more on the military than on basic education; if they were to cut military spending by just 10%, they could put 9.5 million more children in school. Military spending is also diverting the resources of aid donor countries.

The humanitarian aid system is failing children, warns the report, which calls for a major overhaul in aid to education in conflict – affected countries. Education accounts for just 2% of humanitarian aid, and only a small fraction of requests for humanitarian aid for education are met. Financing for humanitarian pooled funds must be increased to US$2 billion to cover shortfalls in education financing.

50th anniversary of world’s space flight observed

Russia on 12th April, 2011 marked a half century since Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. On the morning of 12th April, 1961, Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin blasted off in a Vostok spacecraft from the Baikonur cosmodrome in the Soviet republic of Kazakhstan. After a voyage lasting just 108 minutes, Gagarin ejected from his capsule and parachuted down into a field in the Saratov region of central Russia.

In a break with tradition in a country which unlike the U.S. space agency NASA ( National Aeronautics and Space Administration ) never gives names to its spacecraft, Moscow named a Soyuz spaceship after Gagarin which in April 2011 brought a new team to the International Space Station ( ISS ). April 12 is marked in Russia every year as Day of Cosmonautics. The U.N. General Assembly on 7th April, 2011 adopted a Russia – moved resolution declaring April 12 “International Day of Human Space Flight.”

With Gagarin’s flight, the Soviet Union scored its greatest propaganda victory over the United States, spurring its Cold War foe to take up the challenge in the space race. In July, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin became the first men to set foot on the moon with the success of their Apollo mission. The U.S. space agency then turned to building the world’s first reusable spacecraft that could take humans and cargo into orbit. The first space shuttle, Columbia, flew in 1981, followed by four of its siblings, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavor,

In contrast to the tense battle of the 1960s, space is increasingly a matter of international cooperation with the orbiting International Space Station a joint effort between Russia, the United States and other partners. Many major space initiatives are now joint endeavors involving many countries. The launch of the Hubble space telescope in 1990, a joint venture between the U.S.’s and the European Space Agency was the first such initiative.

The International Space Station ( ISS ) involving 16 countries, including the U.S. and Russia, is another example. NASA has announced the shut – down of its shuttle program by the end of this year. Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft will now be the only way that astronauts can travel to the ISS.

Russia is also remembering the genius of the man who created the rocket that put him into space and masterminded the flight – chief Soviet rocket engineer Sergei Korolev. One of the most remarkable figures in the history of space travel, Korolev survived being sent to the Gulag under Stalin to become a figure of such importance his role was only disclosed after his death in 1966. The anniversary has also prompted a release of information from Russia about the most mysterious aspects of Gagarin’s life, most notably his still unsolved death in a plane crash in 1968. Declassified documents released recently said his jet likely manoeuvred sharply to avoid a weather balloon, prompting it to crash in a region outside Moscow and killing Gagarin and instructor Vladimir Seryogin.
{tab=South Sudan}
South Sudan declared a new country

The Republic of South Sudan declared independence on 9th July 2011, waiting to be recognized as the 193rd member of the United Nations and hoping to keep peace with the north after decades of war. Other names that had been considered were Azania, Nile Republic, Kush Republic ( referring to the ancient and biblical kingdom ) and Juwama, after Juba, Wau and Malakal, three major cities. Salva Kiir Mayardit, is the First elected President of Southern Sudan.

Southern Sudan is a landlocked autonomous region in the southern part of the Sudan. Juba is its capital city. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the east; Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the south; and the Central African Republic to the west. To the north lies the predominantly Arab and Muslim region directly under the control of the central government, with its capital at Khartoum. Southern Sudan includes the vast swamp region of the Sudd formed by the White Nile, locally called the Bahr al Jebel. The region’s autonomous status is a condition of a peace agreement between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army / Movement ( SPLA / M ) and the Government of Sudan1 represented by the National Congress Party ending the Second Sudanese Civil War. The conflict was Africa’s longest – running civil weir.

Historical Context

Sudan was ruled under British – Egyptian control between 1899 and l956 until they gained their independence, with Darfur joining the protectorate in 1916. The North and South were kept separate by their Anglo – Egyptian rulers until 1946.

During this period the majority of development was focused in the North, with the South and other peripheral regions, including Darfur, were both politically and economically marginalized.

North – South Civil War

When North and South Sudan were merged in 1946 the majority of political and administrative power was allocated to the North, leaving many in the South resentful. In the lead up to independence in 1956 the South initiated a rebellion motivated by fears of further marginalization. This conflict was ended by a peace agreement made in 1972. Yet this fragile peace was soon ruptured by violations of the peace agreement, division of the regions, and the nationwide imposition of Sharia law leading to the outbreak of open conflict in 1983. This conflict lasted 22 years and is estimated to have killed 2 million people and rendered another 4 million homeless. In 2005 the Naivasha Agreement, or Comprehensive Peace Agreement ( CPA ), was signed by the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement ( SPLM ) and the National Congress Party ( NCP ) in Khartoum, bringing an official end to the conflict.

Southern Independence

In accordance with the CPA a referendum was held on 9th January, 2011 to determine whether the South should remain part of Sudan or become independent. A similar referendum was to be held in the disputed border region of Abyei to decide whether it joined the North or South, but this has been postponed due to a failure to reach an agreement on the terms of the referendum. The result of the 9 January referendum was almost unanimous. Over 99% opted for independence in a ballot which was widely accepted as free and fair. The vote, however, did not address many issues which remain unresolved even today. Border demarcation is particularly problematic as 20% of the new border has not been agreed upon, lens of thousands of refugees have fled conflict areas and post – independence citizenship complications have become a major issue with an estimated 2 million South Sudanese living in the North. Moreover the logistics of splitting oil revenues and the $38bn national debt have yet to be worked out.

South Sudan Profile : 193rd country

Motto                 : “Justice, Liberty, Prosperity”
Anthem                     : “South Sudan Oyeel”
Capital ( and largest city ) : Juba
Official language( s )       : English
Recognized national languages : All South Sudanese indigenous languages
Government                  : Federal presidential democratic republic

  • – President       : Salva Kiir Mayardit
  • – Vice President  : Riek Machar

Legislature                   : National Legislature

  • Upper House       : Council of States
  • Lower House       : National Legislative Assembly

Independence                  : from Sudan

  • Comprehensive Peace Agreement : 6 January 2005
  • Autonomy                      : 9 July 2005
  • Independence                  : 9 July 2011

Area                          : Total 619,745 km2 ( 45th )

  • Population 2008 census   : 8,260,490 ( disputed ) ( 94th )

Currency                      :  South Sudanese pound

Prospects for Peace

Despite huge oil revenues, the Sudanese economy prior to independence was still incredibly weak and the country was ranked as one of the world’s most corrupt states, political tension was driven by both the failure of the CPA to recognize any rebel groups other than the SPLM, and the governments failure to implement many aspects of the CPA, especially in relation to democratic transformation, legal reform and accountability. In essence the CPA has really only achieved a division of power and wealth between the NCP in the North and the SPLM in the South. Numerous localized conflicts continue. Now, with separation, Sudan’s conflicts span a yet – to – be – demarcated border between two sovereign states. The conflicts ate complex, multifaceted and interrelated. Yet conflict is not inevitable. Despite escalating violence neither side want a return to all out war. Progress, albeit sporadic, continues on Darfur where a recent civil society conference in Doha produced a framework agreement which has been accepted by all sides, and at least one rebel group, the Liberation and Justice Movement may be on the verge of signing a peace deal. The SPLM have also started to show signs of opening up the democratic process in the South to opposition groups. The work of local peace building organizations here is essential. They are able to build grassroots movements for peace and help traditional enemies resist violence. They are able to work in areas international organizations cannot access and are best placed to build peace in their own communities.

India ratifies U.N. Convention against Corruption

India on 12th May, 2011 ratified the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols and the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

Organized crime

The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime is the main international instrument in the fight against transnational organized crime. It recognizes the need to foster and enhance close international cooperation in order to tackle those problems. The convention is further supplemented by three Protocols, which target specific areas and manifestations of organized crime namely Protocols to combat

  1. Trafficking in persons.
  2. Migrant smuggling.
  3. Illicit trafficking in firearms.


The United Nations Convention against Corruption complements the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. The Convention introduces a comprehensive set of standards, measures and rules that all countries can apply in order to strengthen their legal and regulatory regimes to fight corruption.

The Convention enumerates in detail the measures to prevent corruption, including the application of prevention policies and practices, the establishment of bodies for that purpose,’ the application of codes of conduct for public servants, and public procurement. It recommends promoting transparency and accountability in the management of public finances and in the private sector, with tougher accounting and auditing standards.

Measures to prevent money – laundering are also provided for, together with measures to secure the independence of the judiciary, public reporting and participation of society are encouraged as preventive measures. The Convention recommends the State Forties to adopt such legislative; and other measures as may be necessary to establish a whole series of criminal offenses. These are :

  • Corruption of national or foreign public officials and officials of public international organizations;
  • embezzlement, misappropriation or other diversion by a public official of any public or private property;
  • trading in influence;
  • abuse of functions and illicit enrichment.

In the private sector, the Convention calls for the creation of offences of embezzlement and corruption. There are other offences relating to laundering the proceeds of crime, handling stolen property, obstructing the administration of justice, and participating in and attempting embezzlement or corruption.

World Environment Day observed

5th June, 2011 was observed as World Environment Day. The Day marks the beginning of United Nation’s conference on human environment in the year 1972. The first World Environment Day was on 1973. World Environment Day is celebrated every year with a different theme. The theme for this year is ‘Forests – Nature at Your Service1 : Forests cover one third of the earth’s land mass. As many as 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods. They play a key role in mitigating the effects of climate change, releasing oxygen into the atmosphere while storing carbon dioxide.

The week long events across the country to celebrate the World Environment Day – 2011 ( WED – 2011 ), with India being global host for the United Nations Environment Program ( UNEP ), WED – 2011 for first time culminated on June 5. UNEP report on “Green Economy and the Forest” was released on the occasion.

The Ministry of Environment & Forests announced the launch of “Gaura Devi” Award to recognize the initiatives of “Gaura Devi” in forest conservation during Chipko movement. The award will carry a citation and cash prize of ₹ 2 lakhs. The North East Museum Gallery at Regional Museum of Natural History, Bhubaneshwar was inaugurated by the Environment & Forests. Minister on 1st June, 2011.

India joined OECD

India has become the third key emerging economy to join the OECD system for the Mutual Acceptance of Data ( MAD ) in the Assessment of Chemicals, ensuring that the results of non – clinical chemical safety testing done will be accepted in all other participating countries. The OECD Mutual Acceptance of Data system is a multilateral agreement which saves governments and chemical producers around €150 million every year by allowing the results of a variety of non – clinical safety tests done on chemicals and chemical products, such as industrial chemicals and pesticides, to be shared across OECD and other countries that adhere to the system. India’s engagement in OECD’s work on chemical safety and its membership in our MAD system is indicative of the mutual benefit of the ever – closer relationship between OECD and major emerging economies.

India is one of the many non – member economies with which the OECD has working relationships in addition to its member countries. The OECD has been co – operating with India since 1995. The OECD Council at Ministerial level adopted a resolution on 16th May, 2007 to strengthen the co – operation with India, as well as with Brazil, China, Indonesia and South Africa, through a program of enhanced engagement. It also called for the expansion of the OECD’s relations with Southeast Asia. While enhanced engagement is distinct from accession to the OECD, it has the potential in the future to lead to membership.

The MAD requires that testing be carried out using OECD standards for test methods and for data quality. Governments need to verify compliance of laboratories with the latter standard by using the OECD agreed procedures. OECD countries – and now India, South Africa and Singapore – have implemented this system via the appropriate legislative and administrative procedures. Ensuring that OECD and partner countries share and trust each other’s chemical safety test data removes a potential non – tariff trade barrier between countries for marketing chemicals. It also opens the possibility for producers in OECD countries to have safety tests for their chemicals undertaken in adhering partner economies. Provisional adherents to the MAD system are currently Argentina, Brazil, Malaysia and Thailand.

Chile became a member of the Organization on 7th May, 2010, Slovenia became a member on 21st July, 2010 and Israel became a member on 7th September, 2010. On 9th December, 2010, Estonia became a member, once necessary formalities, including parliamentary approval, were completed.

India, Russia Sign MoU to Establish GCNEP in Haryana

India and Russia signed a MoU for cooperation in the activities to be pursued at the Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership ( GCNEP ) is being set up by the Department of Atomic Energy ( DAE ) in Haryana. The GCNEP will consist of four schools on advanced nuclear energy systems studies, nuclear security studies, radiological safety studies and studies on applications of radioisotopes and radiation technologies.

The MoU was signed by Dr Srikumar Banerjee, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary. Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India and S V Kirienko, DG, Rosatom, Russia.

India and Germany Sign MoU on Biomedical Research

The Indian Council of Medical Research ( ICMR ) and Helmholtz Association ( HGF ), Germany had signed new Memorandum of Understanding on translational efforts in biomedical research for a period of next five years. The MoU will provide for active translational efforts in biomedical research particularly in infectious diseases with long term capacity building for researchers and scientists. Both the countries will be benefited in multiple areas pertaining to the biomedical research and public health in terms of joint collaborative research efforts and projects. The other areas identified under the MOU are Oncology and Biomedical research related to health. The collaboration between Indian Council of Medical Research ( ICMR ) and Helmholtz Association ( HGF ), Germany has been running in pursuance of a Memorandum of Understanding which was earlier signed in April, 2006 at Hannover. The earlier collaboration led to the development of four ongoing research projects between Indian and German researchers in the areas of Genetic Susceptibility, Vaccines Anti – infective and Viral Diseases ( HIV / HCV ).

India – Malaysia CECA comes into effect

The India – Malaysia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement ( CECA ) came into effect from 1st July, 2011. This is India’s fourth bilateral CECA, after Singapore, South Korea and Japan. The CECA envisages liberalization of trade in goods, trade in services, investments and other areas of economic cooperation. Trade between India and Malaysia has reached US$ 10 billion in 2010 – 2011, an increase of 26% from the previous year. It is expected that the implementation of this agreement will boost bilateral trade to US$15 billion by 2015.

Goods trade : The trade in goods package under India – Malaysia CECA takes the tariff liberalization beyond the India – ASEAN FTA commitments, which were implemented by both countries on 1st January, 2010. Under India – Malaysia CECA, the items on which India has obtained market access from Malaysia include basmati rice, mangoes, eggs, trucks, motorcycles and cotton garments, which are all items of considerable export interest to India. At the same time, adequate protection has been provided by the Indian side for sensitive sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, textiles, chemicals, auto, etc.

Trade in Services : Under the services agreement of the CECA, India and Malaysia have provided commercially meaningful commitments in sectors and mode of interest to each other which should result in enhanced services trade. The CECA also facilitates the temporary movement of business people including contractual service suppliers, and independent professionals in commercially meaningful sectors including accounting and auditing, architecture, urban planning, engineering services, medical and dental, nursing and pharmacy, Computer and Related Services ( CRS ), and Management Consulting Services.

Investments : The India – Malaysia CECA also facilitates cross – border investments between the two countries. It aims to promote investments and create a liberal, facilitative, transparent and competitive investment regime. The CECA creates an attractive operating environment for the business communities of both countries to increase bilateral trade and investment.

India Thailand Agreement

Prime Minister of Thailand HE Abhisit Vejjajiva was on a state visit at the invitation of the Prime Minister of India on 5th April. This would be his first visit to India. India and Thailand are optimistic of the bilateral trade between the two economies touching $10 billion by the end of 2012. The two countries are looking at a series of investments in different sectors, including infrastructure and food processing. Rapid economic engagement between the two countries paved the way for economic liberalization, and the implementation of the Early Harvest Scheme led to robust growth. Bilateral trade between India and Thailand has grown six – fold in the past decade and touched $6 billion last year, growing at over 30 percent from the previous year.

During the business conclave, both sides agreed there was room for cooperation in sectors like pharmaceuticals, infrastructure, food processing, automobiles and chemical and allied industries. Infrastructure is an area of high priority for India and it would attract investments of over $1 trillion in the next five years. India was keen on the proposed tri – nation highway project linking India and Thailand through Myanmar. India expects investments of $200 billion and about 20 percent growth in the agribusiness sector in the next five years.

Yingluck Shinawatra forms coalition Government in Thailand

Yingluck Shinawatra, the sister of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, on 4th June, 2011 announced an accord to form a five – party coalition government after her Pheu Thai Party won a landslide victory in Thailand’s Parliamentary Elections. Yingluck, whose party already won a majority of 265 seats in the 500 – seat lower house of Parliament under preliminary results of June 3 polling, announced an agreement that would boost her coalition to 299 seats. The Democrat Party, which has led a coalition government for more than three years, will be in opposition. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has announced his resignation as leader of the Democrats, which won 160 seats. Yingluck is Thailand’s first female Prime Minister.

To his supporters, Thaksin is a champion of the disadvantaged who was unconstitutionally forced from power by powerful elites, backed by the military. To his critics, the deposed PM was a corrupt and authoritarian leader who manipulated gullible voters. Thailand has been plagued by internal division since Thaksin was ousted by a military coup in 2006 : Cities of Yingluck say she is too inexperienced and is simply a proxy for her brother.


September, 2006 : Army overthrows government of Thaksin Shinawatra, rewrites constitution.

December, 2007 : Pro – Thaksin People Power Party wins most votes in election

August, 2008 : Mr Thaksin flees into exile before end of corruption to trial

December, 2008 : Mass yellow – shirt protests paralyse Bangkok; Constitutional Court bans People Power Party; Abhisit Vejjajiva comes to power.

March – May 2010 : Thousands of pro – Thaksin red shirts occupy parts of Bangkok; eventually cleared by army; dozens killed.

4th July, 2011 : The surprise runaway winner of Thailand’s election, the Pheu Thai party, says it has agreed to form a coalition with four smaller parties. The party led by Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra won a dear majority with an estimated 265 seats.

Prime Minster Visit to Kazakhstan

On 15 – 16th April, 2011, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made his first official visit to Kazakhstan to meet with President Nursultan Nazarbayev. This was the first visit to Kazakhstan by a world leader since Nazarbayev’s re­election in early April 2011. The two leaders signed seven bilateral agreements. These included a nuclear energy pact that covers joint exploration and research of uranium, collaboration on the construction and operation of nuclear power plants, and a commitment by Kazakhstan to supply India with over 2,000 tons of uranium by 2014. The two sides also concluded a long – negotiated ₹ 1,800 crore deal that gave India’s ONGC Videsh lid a 25% stake in the Satpayev oil field on the Caspian Sea. Press reports on the visit have focused primarily on there two facets of India’s strategic interest in Kazakhstan : securing a reliable source of uranium and expanding hydrocarbon resource ownership to feed India’s rapidly growing demand for energy. The opportunities extend to energy access, increased trade and technology exchanges and greater geopolitical and security partnerships.

a ) Energy Access

At the heart of the discussion of the India – Kazakhstan relationship and evident in all press coverage of the Prime Minister’s Kazakhstan visit is India’s growing demand for energy. In the field of civilian nuclear energy, India has been planning to dramatically increase its nuclear power capacity from 4.7 GW today to 20 GW by 2020, with annual nuclear fuel consumption projected to increase tenfold to 8000 tons. Though some slowdown in nuclear industry development appears to be increasingly likely in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster, long – term plans appear to be unchanged and India’s demand for nuclear fuel in the near to medium – term will still be substantial.

India’s hydrocarbon consumption is also projected to increase at a very rapid pace, with IEA estimating growth of demand from 3 – 3.5 million barrels per day in 2011 to over 5 million per day in 2020.

b ) Trade and Technology

The trade volume between the two nations has experienced rapid growth, rising from roughly $ 80 million in 2004 to $ 253 million in 2009 and $ 314 million in 2010 Major export commodities from India to Kazakhstan are tea, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, machinery, tobacco, and consumer items. Major items of import for India beyond the energy field are asbestos, wheat, steel, aluminium, wool, and raw hides. Furthermore, opportunities abound in under explored sectors like agriculture, tourism, construction, and rare metal mining. The National Economic Chamber of Kazakhstan’s and the Confederation of Indian Industry ( CII )’s agreement to develop bilateral business cooperation, according to which several networking events for industry representatives will be held this year, is a step in the right direction.

c ) Geopolitics, Security, and Beyond

Because of their geographic locations, both states have an interest in maintaining a peaceful and stable Central Asia, most notably in Afghanistan, the locus of regional instability as well as illegal drug routes that extend through the region. During the summit, both India and Kazakhstan pledged their support for a speedy resolution of the Afghan conflict and cooperation in the future reconstruction of the state. Furthermore, India is a member – state of CICA ( Conference – on Cooperation and Confidence – Building Measures in Asia ), an OSCE – type organization founded by Kazakhstan, and Kazakhstan has been a major supporter of India’s UN Security Council bid. Both governments have stated their commitment to strengthening their collaboration in those forums, as well as the Asia Cooperation Dialogue ( ACD ) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization ( SCO ), where Kazakhstan is again a major supporter of an expanded role for India. Beyond the diplomatic plane, security cooperation can be strengthened by joint training and military exchanges focused on common issues of concern like terrorism and drug trafficking.

Key Agreements from the April 16 meeting

The Seven Agreements between India and Kazakhstan are as following :

  1. Agreement between ONGC Videsh Ltd. of India and National Company Kazmunaigas of Kazakhstan on Satpayev Exploration Block : ( i ) Participating Share Assignment Agreement. ( ii ) Carry Agreement. ( iii ) Joint Operating Agreement.
  2. Agreement between India and Kazakhstan for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy : The Agreement envisages a legal framework for mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy including fuel supply, nuclear medicine, use of radiation technologies for healthcare including isotopes, reactor safety mechanisms, exchange of scientific & research information, exploration and joint mining of uranium, design, construction and operation of nuclear power plants etc.
  3. Joint Action Plan for furthering the Strategic Partnership between India and Kazakhstan ( Road Map ) for the period of 2011 – 2014. The Roadmap outlines the joint action plan for implementation of projects to be undertaken by both sides during the period 2011 – 2014 for the implementation of Inter – Governmental Agreements. The Roadmap details specific milestones in a range of areas of bilateral cooperation including hydrocarbons, civilian nuclear energy, space, information technology & cyber security; high – tech and innovative technology, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, agriculture and cultural exchanges.
  4. MoU between Indian Computer Emergency Response Team ( CERT – In ), Dept of Information Technology of India and Kazakhstan Computer Emergency Response Team ( Kz – CERT ), Republic of Kazakhstan. The MoU envisages development of cooperation in the area of Information Security and covers the scope of mutual response to cyber security incidents, exchange of information on spam and other cyber attacks, exchange of information on prevalent cyber security policies and exchange of human resources.
  5. Treaty between India and Kazakhstan on Mutual Legal Assistance in Civil Matters.
  6. Agreement between the Ministry of Agriculture of India and the Ministry of the Agriculture of the Kazakhstan in the field of agriculture and allied sectors. The document envisages cooperation between the two Ministries in the field of agricultural research and technologies, food and agricultural production. It also envisages cooperation in the spheres of agricultural science, food processing, crop production, plant protection and agricultural trade.
  7. Agreement between the Ministry of Health of India and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan on cooperation in the field of healthcare. India – Japan sign Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

India – Japan sign Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement


  • India’s first CEPA with a developed country.
  • Trade deal with biggest GDP partner for both.
  • Tariffs to be eliminated on about 90% of Indian and 97% Japanese goods over ten years.
  • More offerings in the services sector than those at the WTO.

Gains for India

  • Elimination of tariffs for the textiles sector
  • Pharmaceutical sector to get speedier clearance Shrimps, prawns, black tea and lumber to also see tariff elimination
  • Easier entry into Japan for India’s skilled professionals in certain service categories

Gains for Japan

  • Zero tariffs on auto parts made of steel.
  • Tariff elimination on farm products including yam, peach and strawberry.
  • National treatment at both pre and post investment stage.
  • Opening up of distribution services in single brand retail.

India and Japan signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement ( CEPA ) in Tokyo on 16th February, 2011. The objective of the agreement is to “liberalise and facilitate trade in goods and services between the parties. Bilateral trade between the two countries currently amounts to $10.36 billion per annum. India’s exports to Japan were 3629.54 million while imports were $734.18 million in 2009 – 2010 The agreement will eliminate tariffs on 94 per cent of two – way trade flows in 10 years after it comes into force. This is the third Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement signed by India, the others being with Singapore and South Korea. The agreement signed by Anand Sharma, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry and Japanese Foreign Minister, Seiji Maehara is the most ambitious agreement signed by India so far and covers trade in goods, services and investment under its ambit. This Agreement follows from the commitment of the two Prime Ministers in October, 2010. India stands to gain significantly through this Agreement and 90% of tariff lines are covered while Japan has covered 5% more lines than India. The Agreement has ensured that the sensitive sectors for India are fully protected including agriculture, fruits, spices, wheat, basmati rice, edible oils, wines and spirits and also certain categories of industrial products such as auto and auto parts.

Under the agreement, Japan will eliminate duties on 95 per cent of its industrial goods and other products and India will do the same on 85 per cent of its goods. An example : The 10 per cent tariff imposed by India on the Japanese exports of lithium batteries, DVD players and tractors will be lowered to zero in ten years, while the 3.6 per cent and 2.5 per cent duty levied by Japan on Indian curry and tea will be eliminated in the same period. It would also help in increasing investment opportunities and strengthen protection for investment and investment activities. The Agreement will ensure access to a highly developed Japanese market for the pharmaceutical sector and for the first time ever Japan has committed to give the same treatment for Indian generics as their domestic industry.

Apart from this, Indian agricultural produce including instant tea, seafood will find their way in the Japanese market. The textile products including readymade garments stand to gain significantly in terms of market access. Japan has also lowered tariffs for petrochemicals and chemical products, jewellery and cement.

In the services sector India has obtained considerable concessions including commitments for providing greater access for contractual suppliers, professionals such as accountants, researchers, tourist guides and management consultants who will now be able to provide their services in Japan. Japan has also committed to cover not only computer engineers but whole range of engineering services such as mechanical, electrical, construction, industrial, design engineers and project management specialists. For the first time ever, Japan has agreed to grant additional category of instructors for yoga practitioners, classical musical and dance practitioners, chefs and English language teachers.

The Agreement also envisages the conclusion of a social security agreement within three years and the negotiations have commenced in January, 2011. The negotiations are also on for creating greater openings for Indian nurses and care givers. For bilateral investment, India has committed to the current national policy on foreign investment and this signals the greater participation of Japanese investors into Indian economy. Similarly the Agreement also covers intellectual property rights for the first time and the parameters of our commitments on these are circumscribed by national legislation and agreement in trips. The two countries have set a target of doubling bilateral trade to US $ 25 billion by 2014 and reiterated his suggestion of establishment a Joint Revolving Fund of US $ 9 billion for kick starting the Delhi – Mumbai Industrial Corridor Project. Significant enhancement is expected in Japanese investment and technology collaboration especially in infrastructure and value added manufacturing.

World’s First Ever Homeopathy University

The first Homeopathy University situated in Saipura village near Sanganer in the outskirts of Jaipur, claimed to be first of its kind in the world as well. The University will offer a Bachelor’s Degree in Homeopathic Medicine & Surgery ( BHMS ) and post graduation – Doctor of Medicine in Homoeopathy ( MD ( Hom ).

The stream was invented by Samuel Hahnemann. The Rajasthan Assembly had in the previous year passed legislation, Homeopathy University Act 2010, to facilitate the establishment of the institution. The basic principle of homeopathy, known as the “law of similars”, is “let like be cured by like.” It was first stated by German physician Samuel Hahnemann in 1796. Hahnemann observed from his experiments with cinchona bark, used as a treatment for malaria, that the effects he experienced from ingesting the bark were similar to the symptoms of malaria.

New IPv6 internet address system launched

The biggest ever test of the internet’s new address, system is taking place. Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Bing and Facebook are among the companies switching – on IPv6 versions of their websites for the one day trial on 7th June, 2011. The technology is gradually being introduced because the world is running out of older IPv4 addresses as more devices come online. Companies and home users may need new networking equipment. However the – transition is likely to take years. World IPv6 day, on June 8f is partly a technical exercise by internet companies to see how the technology works, and partly an awareness – raising initiative. For users with an ordinary domestic internet connection, the changeover may involve upgrading their hardware. In India, the first India IPv6 ( Internet Protocol IPv6 )Task Force Newsletter and technical compendium on IPv6 activities was launched at Sanchar Bhawan in New Delhi on the occasion of World IPv6 day on 8th June, 2011. World IPv6 day is globally celebrated by the Internet Society.

In India about 18.5 million IPv4 addresses are available for more than 180 million data users and we need to have at least one IP address for each data user, keeping this in view, Government of India has released IPv6 policy in July, 2010, according to which ‘All major Service providers will offer IPv6 services by December, 2011’ and ‘All Central and State government ministries and departments, including its PSUs, shall start using IPv6 services by March – 2012.

IPv4 was conceived in the early 1980s as a way of identifying individual connections to a computer network. It is typically made up of 32 bits, written as 12 digits’, e.g. That gives a maximum of around 4.3bn addresses. However, the rapid growth in PCs, smartphones and other internet connected devices means those addresses are close to being used upf with an estimated 80 million still to be allocated. IPv6 is a 128bit system, written in hexadecimal ( base 16 counting using numbers and letters ), e.g. 21DA : 00D3 : 0000 : 2F3B : 02AA : 00FF; FE28 : 9C5A. The system gives a maximum of 340 undecillion possible addresses ( 1 undecillion = 10 followed by 35 zeros in the British numbering system ).
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