international - 2015 February

February 1

Nepal committee passes guidelines for Constitution.
The Proposal Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly (CA) passed its working guidelines, declaring that principles like democracy, federalism, republicanism, secularism, and inclusiveness would be an integral part of the new Constitution.
In its second meeting, the Proposal Drafting Committee (PDC), which has been tasked to study the report submitted by the Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee on agreements and disputes over the new Constitution, said no questions would be prepared on it for voting.

February 2

Myanmar Suu Kyi’s front gate to be auctioned.
The iron gate that stood in front of the home of Myanmar’s formerly imprisoned democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi, separating her from throngs of cheering supporters as she made speeches challenging the country’s then-military rulers, is going on the auction block.
The 69-year old Nobel laureate and daughter of Myanmar’s country’s famous independence leader, Gen. Aung San became an international symbol of peaceful resistance in the face of oppression during her 15 years of on-again-off again house arrest.

Egypt court confirms death sentences of 183 Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
An Egyptian court upheld the death sentences of 183 Muslim Brotherhood supporters convicted of killing 13 people during violence in 2013 after the ouster of the country’s first Islamist President Mohamed Morsy.
The court found the defendants accused of attacking the Kerdasa police station on August 14, 2013, the same day when security forces dispersed two Brotherhood protest sit-in camps in Cairo and Giza, killing hundreds of people.

National ICT Draft Policy 2015 approved.
Bangladesh Cabinet approved the draft of National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Policy, 2015.
The draft seeks establishment of a transparent and accountable government through ICT expansion to enhance the standards of citizen service.
The policy carries a specific vision of multifaceted use like ensuring skilled human resource development, rendering public service through public-private-partnership.
It also envisions to Help Bangladesh to be into a mid-income country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041.

India and China jointly launched the Visit India Year in China in Beijing.
India and China jointly launched the Visit India Year in China in Beijing during the visit of Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to China.
The idea of Visit India Year was endorsed by the two countries during the visit of the Chinese President, Xi Jinping to Delhi in September 2014.

February 3

Catherine Mayer’s book 'Charles: Heart of a King' says both Prince Charles and Princess Diana contemplated calling off their wedding - but for different reasons.
Prince Charles contemplated calling off his wedding to Princess Diana on the eve of their marriage and told a close confidant that he cannot go through with it, a new biography has sensationally claimed.

China and Russia decided to back India for moving this proposal at the United Nations that essentially goes against Pakistan.
In order to corner Pakistan for sheltering and facilitating terrorists involved the 26/11 carnage and other attacks in the country, India seeks to move a resolution in the UN to punish those who shelter and finance terrorism.
China and Russia decided to back India for moving this proposal at the United Nations that essentially goes against Pakistan on the issue of terrorism.
At the RIC summit - attended by Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov and Swaraj - a joint communique was issued which "underlined the need to bring to justice perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of terrorist acts".

Britain becomes the first country to allow a ''three-parent'' IVF technique.
The treatment is known as “three-parent” in vitro fertilisation (IVF) because the babies, born from genetically modified embryos, would have DNA from a mother, a father and from a female donor.
It is designed to help couples with mitochondrial diseases, incurable conditions passed down the maternal line that affect around one in 6,500 children worldwide.
It would be a medical world first for Britain to allow the mitochondrial donation.
The process involves intervening in the fertilisation process to remove mitochondria, which act as tiny energy-generating batteries inside cells, and which, if faulty, can cause inherited conditions such as fatal heart problems, liver failure, brain disorders, blindness and muscular dystrophy.
This technique will lead to the creation of genetically modified “designer babies”.

January 4

International Court of Justice ruled Neither Croatia nor Serbia committed genocide during Balkan War.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that neither Croatia nor Serbia had committed genocide against each other's populations during the 1990s Balkan Wars sparked by the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.
The 17-judge panel headed by Judge Peter Tomka ruled that a 1995 Croat offensive to win back the territory from rebel Serbs featured serious crimes, but did not reach the level of genocide.
About 1948 Genocide:
The convention entered into force in 1951 and defined genocide as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group:
Killing members of the group.
Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group.
Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.
Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.
Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

February 6

Tunisia Parliament approves first coalition government after Arab Spring.
Tunisia Parliament has approved the first historic coalition government after the Arab spring.
In this regard, 166 out of 204 Members of Parliament (MPs) voted in favor of the new cabinet proposed by the Prime Minister Habib Essid. The new coalition Government comprised of liberal Nida Tounes party, moderate Islamist Ennahda party and the Free Patriotic party.
In the coalition government, Nidaa Tounes party holds 6 portfolios, including the foreign ministry. While, the interior, defence and justice portfolios have been given to independents. Ennahda party holds labour ministry and three secretary of state posts.

February 9

China launched first Maritime Silk Road cruise liner from Beihai port.
China launched its first cruise liner to sail via its ambitious transcontinental initiative Maritime Silk Road (MSR).
The sail was launched from the Beihai port located in southwest China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
The cruise liner is a 135-meter-long and 20-meter-wide that can accommodate 400 people and is equipped with wireless internet access.
The 21st century Maritime Silk Road project is an initiative of President of China Xi Jingping who in 2013 proposed the rejuvenation of the MSR and revival of the ancient Silk Road to establish close relation between the China-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) communities.
The MSR seeks to string together partnerships with countries in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean, including India.
This maritime route entails expanding ports and industrial parks in Asia, the Mideast, Africa and Europe. For development of the MSR, China had announced a 40 billion US dollar Silk Road fund which became operational from February 2015.

Australia's prime minister survives confidence vote.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has survived a spill vote of confidence on his leadership in the Liberal Party.
In a Liberal party room voting, the ruling Liberal Party voted to defeat the leadership spill motion by 61 to 39 votes. The party decided to not open up the top positions to contenders.
Tony Abbott was elected as the Prime Minister of Australia in September 2013.
Earlier in first week of February, some MPs from Abbott’s Liberal Party openly had called a spill vote of confidence after his decline in popularity and poor ratings due to series of policy backflips.
The main aim of motion was to declare vacant the positions of party leader and deputy leader- currently occupied by Abbott and Deputy Prime Minister Julie Bishop.

February 11

US closed its embassy in Yemen.
The State Department of the United States confirmed its closing of Embassy in Yemen and removed its staff due to the current political turmoil.
The embassy closure comes as the leader of the Houthi rebel movement denounced foreign governments’ plans to withdraw their diplomats and declared that the group would not be deterred from expanding its authority over the fractured country.

Israel to provide assistance in cleaning up Ganga.
Israel has offered its expertise to India to clean up the Ganga.
Amit Lang, Director-General of the Ministry of Economy, Israel suggested to continue on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), initiated in 2007, as well as enhance mutual coordination in the field of water management, waste water treatment.
Israel uses 90% of de-salinated water for its agriculture.

February 13

Nawaz Sharif tells Barack Obama, India’s permanent UNSC seat unacceptable.
India’s permanent membership in the reformed UN Security Council is unacceptable to Pakistan as it has not complied with UN resolutions on Kashmir, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has told US President Barack Obama.
Sharif told Obama that India cannot become a UNSC permanent member due to its non-compliance of all the resolutions passed by the UN on Kashmir and had not fulfilled the commitment to give the right of self-determination to people of Kashmir.

Ukraine gets new bailout deal from IMF.
Facing bankruptcy, Ukraine asked the IMF to replace its programme with a new one to restore confidence in its finances.
The International Monetary Fund has agreed with Ukraine on a new bailout deal worth 15.5 billion euro ($17.5 billion) that could climb to around $40 billion over the next four years with help from other lenders like Europe and the U.S.

February 14

President of Singapore Dr. Tony Tan Keng Yam was on a State visit of India.
He visited India at the invitation of the President Pranab Mukherjee.
His visit highlighted the celebrations on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Singapore.
President Tan inaugurated the Singapore Festival in India tomorrow, launched the commemorative book titled ‘Singapore and India: Towards A Shared Future’, opened the Peranakan Exhibition at National Museum and hosted a Food Festival themed Flavours Of Singapore.

February 15

China has opened a new embassy in Pakistan.
China has opened a new embassy in Pakistan, its "largest overseas" diplomatic mission, which foreign minister Wang Yi described as a symbol of friendship between the "all weather" allies.
China maintains large diplomatic missions abroad including Washington, New York and New Delhi. Its mission in New Delhi has over 300 personnel.
The opening of the new Islamabad embassy came as China and Pakistan deepen their all weather relations with the construction of the multi-billion Economic Corridor through the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).
The Corridor, which is part of the Silk Road projects proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping aims to connect China's Xinjiang with Pakistan Gwadar Port in Balochistan province neighbouring Iran.
Maldivian Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon visited India.
Maldivian Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi. Maumoon was in India to boost ties between the two countries.
During the meet, the two leaders reviewed the developmental projects in Maldives and also the possible agenda for visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Maldives.

February 16

UNSC OKs resolution against Yemen.
The United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution demanding that Shiite rebels immediately relinquish control of Yemen’s government in a crisis that has pushed the Arab world’s poorest country near collapse.
UNSC in its adopted resolution has asked for immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Shia Houthi rebel forces from Yemen’s government institutions in its capital Sanaa.
It also has sought the release of President Mansour Hadi and his Cabinet from house arrest, and urged Houthi rebels to engage in good faith in U.N.- led peace talks.
The UN resolution comes a day after foreign ministers of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) had urged the U.N. to intervene in order to maintain regional security.
The security situation in Yemen deteriorated after the Shia Houthis rebels had seized power by dissolving Yemen’s government and parliament in January 2015 after taking control of key government buildings in capital Sanaa including Presidential Palace.

Pakistan releases 172 Indian fishermen.
Pakistan released 172 Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture, two days after the Prime Ministers of the two countries decided to resume high-level contacts.
The fishermen had been held at the Malir and Landhi district jail in Karachi for allegedly violating territorial waters in the Arabian Sea.

February 17

India handed over a four decade old vintage Dakota-3 aircraft to Bangladesh.
India handed over a four decade old vintage Dakota-3 aircraft to Bangladesh, which played an important role in Bangladesh’s 1971 war of liberation and helped in formation of Bangladesh Air Force (BAF).
Dakota-3 was a passenger plane till it was used for air dropping troops in Bangladesh’s Tangail during the 1971 war, which is 96 kms from Dhaka on December 11, 1971.
Dakota-3 was gifted to the Bangladesh Liberation Fighters by Maharaja of Jodhpur.

February 18

Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdus Subhan sentenced to death.
Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdus Subhan has been sentenced to death by the International Crimes Tribunal.
He had been charged with nine counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, abductions, detention, torture and loot.
The International Crimes Tribunal-2 Chariman – Justice Obaidul Hassan.

Nepal Celebrated 65th National Democracy Day.
The 65th National Democracy Day has been celebrated amidst a grand function at the Nepalese Army pavilion, commemorating the establishment of democracy on February 18, 1951.
President of Nepal was presented with a guard of honour by a contingent of the Nepalese Army.
About Nepal:
Capital: Katmandu.
Currency: Nepalese rupee (NPR).
President: Dr. Ram Braan Yadav.
Prime Minister: Sushil Koirala.

February 19

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
Mamata Banerjee has arrived in Dhaka on her first visit since she became chief minister of West Bengal.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh Md Shahriar Alam received her.
President of Bangladesh: Mr. Abdul Hamid.
Currency: Taka.
Capital: Dhaka.
Official language: Bengali.

February 20

Parliament of Thailand bans commercial surrogacy.
Parliament of Thailand (National Legislative Assembly) passed a law banning commercial surrogacy, putting a halt on foreign couples seeking to have children through Thai surrogate mothers.
The legislation is aimed at ending rent-a-womb industry that made the Southeast Asian country a top destination for fertility tourism.
Provisions of the law:
Only married Thai couples or couples with one Thai partner who have been married at least three years can seek surrogacy.
It allows a Thai couple to seek a surrogate to carry the fetus only if they are able to prove that they and their relatives are infertile.
It also says that anyone violating this law will face a maximum jail sentence of 10 years and a maximum.
Earlier in November 2014, Thailand’s Parliament voted a draft bill to ban commercial surrogacy. This draft bill was formulated to regulate the illegal commercial surrogacy after outrage erupted over this unregulated industry.
This industry came under intense scrutiny after a series of surrogacy scandals broke in the country involving foreigners.

India and the US held first-ever bilateral dialogue on United Nations.
India and the US held their first-ever bilateral dialogue on the United Nations (UN) and other multilateral issues in Washington.

The dialogue was held in the spirit of the Delhi Declaration of Friendship which was released during the visit of US President Barack Obama to India in January 2015.

February 21

China protests against PM Modi's visit to Arunachal Pradesh.
PM Narendra Modi's visit to Arunachal Pradesh for the Statehood Day celebrations has faced opposition from China.
The Chinese side is opposed to Indian leaders' activities in the disputed area, and has lodged solemn representations with the Indian side. It also asked India to avoid making any move that complicates the boundary question.
About India - China dispute over Arunachal Pradesh:
Sovereignty over two large and various smaller separated pieces of territory have been contested between China and India.
The large disputed territory, the easternmost, lies south of the McMahon Line.
It was formerly referred to as the North East Frontier Agency, and is now called Arunachal Pradesh. The 1962 Sino-Indian War was fought in both of these areas.
An agreement to resolve the dispute was concluded in 1996, including "confidence-building measures" and a mutually agreed Line of Actual Control.
In 2006, the Chinese ambassador to India claimed that all of Arunachal Pradesh is Chinese territory amidst a military buildup.At the time, both countries claimed incursions as much as a kilometre at the northern tip of Sikkim.

February 22

Sri Lanka Parliament enacts witness protection law.
Sri Lankan Parliament has passed the Assistance to and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses Bill.
This bill aims at protecting the rights of criminal victims and witnesses especially in human rights accountability.
Compensation to witnesses who cooperate with investigations. Strict punitive action against those who harass victims or witnesses. Stringent punishment of prison sentence from three to 10 years to the culprits.
Since 2012, for consecutive three years Sri Lanka had faced US-backed UN Human Rights Council (UN-HRC) resolutions on Human rights accountability.
UN-HRC 2014 resolution also had mandated Sri Lanka to set up of an international investigation into alleged human rights abuses during the 3 decade-long civil war that wiped out the LTTE.

February 23

Maldives arrests ex-president Mohamed Nasheed under anti-terrorism laws.
A document signed by the prosecutor general said that Nasheed was arrested to stand trial for his 2012 order as president to arrest a senior judge. It said he was being charged under anti-terrorism laws, but did not specify why.
Nasheed resigned as president in February 2012 following weeks of public protests against his order to arrest Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed.
Modi is scheduled to visit Male around March 15 from Sri Lanka as the final destination of his trip to four Indian Ocean nations.
The Prime Minister's visit is being viewed as key to India's push in the region where China is trying to expand its presence.

February 24

Spouses of H-1B visa holders to get work permits in US. 

The USA announced that it will provide work permits to spouses of H-1B visa holders beginning May 26, a move that is expected to benefit thousands of talented and professional Indian spouses who come to America but are unable to work.

Under existing laws, spouses of H-1B visa holders, many of whom are Indians, are not eligible to work. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting applications for work visas from H-1B spouses on May 26.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting applications for work visas from H-1B spouses on May 26.

Once USCIS approves the 'Form I-765' and the H-4 dependent spouse receives an Employment Authorisation Card, he or she may begin working in the United States.

USCIS estimates the number of individuals eligible to apply for employment authorisation under this rule could be as high as 179,600 in the first year and 55,000 annually in subsequent year.

February 25

Abdul Jabbar sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes in Bangladesh.
Former Jatiya Party lawmaker Abdul Jabbar was sentenced to life imprisonment by the International Crimes Tribunal-1 in Bangladesh. He was also fined 10 lakh taka in absentia. Jabbar has been absconding since the trial started.
He was sentenced for crimes committed during the Liberation War in 1971.
Jabbar was sentenced for several charges apart from genocide. The tribunal sentenced him on charges of killing 36 people, forced conversion of 200 Hindus at Phuljhuri, looting 557 houses and arson during the 1971 Liberation War.

February 26

Parliament of Jamaica passed a law to decriminalise marijuana for personal use.
Jamaica’s Parliament has passed a law to decriminalise the possession of small amounts of marijuana up to 57 grams for personal use.
Jamaica’s decision to legalise marijuana comes in line with global trend which include several Latin American countries and US states that have decriminalised marijuana possession.
Marijuana is widely grown in Jamaica and has cultural roots there. It is also the biggest exporter of marijuana to the United States among Caribbean countries.
Marijuana is a greenish-gray mixture of the dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds and flowers of Cannabis sativa – the hemp plant.
Most people smoke marijuana, though it can also be used in other forms such as edibles, powders and oils. Medicinal values of marijuana is used as a drug for controlling pain for medical issues, like cancer, nervous system diseases, glaucoma, migraines, etc.

February 27

Gary Glitter jailed for 16 years.
Former pop star Gary Glitter has been jailed for a total of 16 years for sexually abusing three young girls between 1975 and 1980.
Glitter was sentenced for attempted rape, four counts of indecent assault and one of having sex with a girl under 13.
Paul Francis Gadd known by the stage name Gary Glitter, is an English former glam rock singer-songwriter and musician.
His long and highly successful career was ended in the late 1990s by criminal convictions for possession of child pornography and, in the 2000s and 2010s, for child sexual abuse; he was imprisoned in 2015.

February 28

Jaishankar begins SAARC yatra with Bhutan.
Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar begins his 'yatra' of four SAARC countries with Bhutan as the first stop.
Jaishankar, who took over January 28, travels to Bangladesh March 2, Pakistan March 3 and Afghanistan the following day.
His visit to the region comes even as India is pushing ahead with a sub-regional connectivity project with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan to provide seamless transit of passenger.
Pakistan visit would see Jaishankar hold talks with his counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry in a major move seeking to normalise bilateral ties.
India and Bangladesh have also inched closer to inking the Land Boundary Agreement for swap of enclaves within each other's territory.
Sri Lanka to bar Chinese submarines from docking in its waters.
Sri Lanka declared that it will not allow Chinese submarines to dock in its waters as part of a new policy barring hosting of foreign submarines.
The Minister stressed that the new government had adopted a centrist foreign policy based on engagement of the entire world, without identifying with any camp, for the benefit of the Sri Lankan people.