international - 2017 JANUARY

January 1

China announces ban on ivory trade by end of 2017.
China announced a plan to ban all ivory trade and processing activities by the end of 2017, to prevent the mass killing and threat of extinction of African elephants.
The Chinese State Council’s plan to end the ivory trade will be carried out over the course of the year.
The government will no longer allow ivory products to be displayed in real or online markets only noncommercial sites, such as museums, will be allowed to display ivory.
According to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature report, more than 20,000 Elephants are killed for their tusks each year, with much of the markets designated in China, Hong Kong, and the United States.

January 2

British government to launch new pound coin in March.
The British government will launch a new one pound coin at the end of March and scrap the current one by October.
The new one pound has a distinctive 12-sided shape, recognizable even by touch and it is made of two metals, the outer ring is gold-coloured (nickel-brass) and the inner ring is silver-coloured (nickel-plated alloy).
And if the coin is tilted it shows a latent image, like a hologram, which changes from a pound sign to the number one.
It will also feature the fifth coinage portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, the world’s longest-serving monarch who began her reign in 1952.
A total of 1.5 billion coins will be issued in the first minting.

India, Pakistan exchange list of nuclear facilities.
India and Pakistan exchanged the list of nuclear installations and facilities covered under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations between India and Pakistan on January 1, 2017.
The bilateral agreement which is signed between the two countries every year on January Indo-Pakistan Nuclear Facilities List Exchange1 prohibits the two countries to carry out any surprise attack and pledged not to assist foreign powers to attack each other’s atomic facilities.
The agreement was signed on December 31, 1988 between the Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and her Indian counterparts Rajiv Gandhi and came into force on January 27, 1991. This is the 26th consecutive exchange of such lists between the two countries with the first one signed on January 1, 1992.

Laser walls, smart sensors at India-Bangladesh border soon.
THE BORDER Security Force (BSF) is set to install laser walls and smart sensors along the Indo-Bangla international border in West Bengal to plug the porous riverine and unmanned terrain in the area in order to keep to check infiltration and terrorism.
The paramilitary force is using the Farheen laser wall technology at the Indo-Pakistan border and has reaped benefits through better management of the borders.
BSF DG K.K. Sharma and other top officials had recently toured the Indo-Bangla border area in Bengal and Tripura.
Of the 4,096 kilometer-long Indo-Bangladesh border, 2,216.7 is in West Bengal.
The decision to install laser walls in areas, where barbed wire fences could not be erected due to the treacherous terrain or marshy riverine topography was taken by the BSF two years ago.

Pakistan’s landmark Hindu marriage bill inches closer to enactment.
The much-awaited bill to regulate marriages of minority Hindus in Pakistan moved closer to reality after a Senate committee approved the landmark draft legislation, nearly four months after it was passed by the National Assembly.
The Hindu Marriage Bill 2016 will become a law after it will be passed by the Senate, the upper house of the Parliament.
The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights unanimously approved the much-awaited Hindu Marriages Bill, paving the way to its presentation in the Senate.
The Senate committee under the chair of Muttahida Qaumi Movement Senator Nasreen Jalil took up the bill for discussion and later approved it.

January 3

China launches first freight train to BRITAIN.
China launched its first freight train to London, according to the China Railway Corporation.
The train will travel from Yiwu West Railway Station in Zhejiang Province, Eastern China to Barking, London, taking 18 days to travel over 7,400 miles.
The railway is a major strategic development to assist Xi Jinping's multi-billion dollar 'One Belt, One Road' strategy, according to the China-Europe Freight Rail Development Plan released in October.
The strategy was launched in 2013 and is an infrastructure and trade network connecting Asia with Africa and Europe along old Silk Road trading routes.
China's exports totalled $2.27 trillion in 2015, slowing down from $2.34 trillion in 2014.
The 'One Belt, One Road' strategy is part of an effort to boost trade and economic growth.

India and Sri Lanka Agrees to find permanent solution to the fishermen issues.
A ministerial level talks between Indian Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare of India Radha Mohan Singh and Minister for Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development of Sri Lanka Mahinda Amaraweera was held in Colombo on January 2, 2016.
Under the agreement reached after a meeting of JWG, both the countries agreed to release all Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen in each other’s custody.
During the discussion, the ministers exchanged views on possible mechanisms to help find a permanent solution to the fishermen issues.
Both countries agreed to a set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to soon release and hand over fishermen in each other’s custody on completion of respective legal and procedural formalities.
The next JWG meeting will be held in Colombo in April 2017 to review the progress made in addressing the fishermen issues in a comprehensive manner.

UNSC passes Russian Drafted Resolution over Syrian Ceasefire.
The United Nation Security Council (UNSC) unanimously passed a resolution drafted by Russia, to end the nearly six-year conflict in Syria and called for peace negotiations through nationwide Syrian ceasefire.
The resolution is an effort taken by Russia and Turkey which aims at stopping violence in Syria and launch a political process.
The UN body is also committed to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic.
The resolution calls for the rapid, safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid throughout Syria.
Russia delivers advanced Sukhoi jets to China.
Russia has finally delivered four Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets to China after a delay of two years as Moscow feared that its fifth generation jet will loose value after Chinese military unveiled its J-20 stealth fighter.
The Su-35 is an advanced version of the Su-30s operated by the Indian Airforce. The delivery was made on December 25, a news portal of the People’s Liberation Army reported.
Since the debut of the China’s stealth fighter J-20 fighter at Zhuhai Airshow, procurement of the Su-35 fighter jets has gone quite smoothly.
China has been ramping up its military aviation wing with a number of new fighter jets including two versions of the stealth fighters as well as J-15 a fighter plane to operate from the deck of its first aircraft carrier, Liaoning which has begun live fire drills in the disputed South China Sea.

January 4

First in world: Finland to pay unemployed basic income of $587 per month.
Finland has become the first country in world to pay its unemployed citizens a basic monthly income, amounting to 560 euros ($587), in a social experiment hoped to cut government red tape, reduce poverty and boost employment.
The two-year trials with the 2,000 randomly picked citizens receive unemployment benefits kicked off January 1.
Those 2,000 unemployed chosen will receive 560 euros every month, with no reporting requirements on how they spend it. The amount will be deducted from any benefits they already receive.
The unemployment rate of Finland, a nation of 5.5 million, stood at 8.1% in November with some 213,000 people without a job - unchanged from the previous year.

January 5

H1-B visa reform Bill reintroduced in U.S. Congress.
A Bill backing key changes in the H1-B visa programme that allows skilled workers from other countries to fill jobs in the U.S. has been reintroduced in Congress by two lawmakers who claim that it will help crack down on its abuse.
The Bill, among other things, increases the minimum salary of H-1B visa to $100,000 per annum and eliminates the Master’s degree exemption.
The legislation, they argued, will help crack down on abuse and ensure that these jobs remain available for the best and brightest talent from around the world.

January 6

India and Kazakhstan sign Protocol to amend the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC).
India and Kazakhstan signed in the national capital a Protocol to amend the existing Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) between the two countries which was earlier signed on 9th December, 1996 for the avoidance of double taxation and for the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.
The Protocol provides internationally accepted standards for effective exchange of information on tax matters.
Further, the information received from Kazakhstan for tax purposes can be shared with other law enforcement agencies with authorization of the competent authority of Kazakhstan and vice versa.

January 7

Norway will become world's first country to switch off FM radio.
Norway will become the world’s first country to shut down its FM network in an unpopular move designed to force the leap to digital technology.
The Norwegian government claims the switch to digital will save money and allow national radio stations to invest more in radio content.
The network shutdown will begin on January 11 in the northern city of Bodo, with all national FM broadcasts ending by the end of the year.
Other countries are also considering making a similar shift, including Denmark, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

January 8

China to build world's highest altitude telescopes in Tibet.
China is setting up the world's highest altitude gravitational wave telescopes in a Tibet prefecture close to Line of Actual Control with India with a budget of $18.8 million to detect faintest echoes resonating from the universe which may reveal more about the Big Bang theory.
Construction has started for the first telescope, code-named Ngari No. 1, 30 km south of Shiquanhe Town in Ngari Prefecture.
Parts of Nagri is last Tibetan prefecture at China's border with India.
The telescope, located 5,250 meters above sea level, will detect and gather precise data on primordial gravitational waves in the Northern Hemisphere.
It is expected to be operational by 2021.
Gravitational waves were first proposed by Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity 100 years ago, but it wasn't until 2016 that scientists with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory announced proof of the waves' existence, spurring fresh research interest among the world's scientists.

China forex reserves fall by $320 billion in 2016.
China’s foreign exchange reserves fell by USD 320 billion last year, Beijing announced, as authorities sought to support the yuan against a soaring dollar which is encouraging capital outflows.
The country’s vast foreign exchange reserves, the largest in the world, slipped to USD 3.011 trillion at the end of December.
Reserves had slipped by USD 46 billion in October and nearly USD 70 billion in November, falling to levels last seen more than five years ago.
The yuan is now trading at its lowest level in eight years against the dollar after dropping about seven per cent in the space of a year, as Beijing sells greenbacks to support its currency.

India, Portugal sign defence agreement.
In a bid to boost joint production and development of niche weapons systems, India and Portugal on entered into a defence agreement - one of the seven sealed during the Delhi visit of Prime Minister of Portugal Antonio Costa.
The agreement came following Portugal's support to India's multilateral plans in various technology regimes including Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) where India secured membership in 2016.
Apart from the agreements on defence, visa-free travel for diplomats and marine research, both sides also issued a separate declaration for cooperation in third country.
''Such projects should contribute to the local economy, regional connectivity and integration, in order to benefit third countries, by taking into account their priorities in terms of development and the needs of their people'', the declaration for bilateral cooperation in third countries stated.

January 9

Russia asks Apple, Google to remove LinkedIn from app stores.
Accusing LinkedIn of flouting local laws that require internet firms to store data on citizens within the nation’s borders, the Russian authorities have asked Apple and Google to remove the professional networking site app from their online stores.
Recently, a Russian court blocked the Microsoft-owned LinkedIn service for breaching the country’s data protection rules. According to The New York Times, Apple has confirmed that it was asked to remove its LinkedIn app in Russia about a month ago.
Google and Android have complied with the order and the app is no longer available.

Qantas named world’s safest airline for fourth-year running.
Australia’s national airline Qantas has been named the world’s safest airline for the fourth year in a row.
The findings, released by, it selects the 20 safest airlines based on ''audits from aviation’s government bodies and lead associations, government audits, airline’s crash and serious incident records, profitability and fleet age''.
''Over its 96-year history Qantas has amassed an amazing record of firsts in safety and operations and is accepted as the world’s most experienced airline''.

January 10

Italy to reopen embassy in Libya.
Italy will reopen its embassy in Tripoli, which was closed in 2015 along with all other Western embassies due to violence.
Earlier, Interior Minister Marco Minniti held talks with Libyan officials on cooperation in the fight against illegal immigration and terrorism.
Libya has agreed to build new relations of cooperation on the basis of the friendship treaty signed in 2008.

January 11

The first underwater museum in Europe.
Europe's first underwater contemporary art museum, Museo Atlantico, is now open for public.
Situated just off the coast of Lanzarote, in the Bahía de Las Coloradas, Canary Island in Spain, people have to dive 12 meters underwater to experience the amazing world.
The project consists of 12 art installations and more than 300 life-size human figures, created by renowned British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor.
Taylor is an internationally acclaimed sculptor creates underwater living installations, offering viewers mysterious, ephemeral encounters and fleeting glimmers of another world where art develops from the effects of nature on the efforts of man.

US Calls For India, Afghanistan And Pakistan Partnership On Counter-Terrorism.
The United States has called for partnership between India, Pakistan and Afghanistan on counter-terrorism operations.
State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner told reporters in Washington that the security of the three countries is linked with one another.
The Deputy Spokesman also condemned the terror attacks in Afghanistan.
He agreed with the allegations of the Afghan government that the continuation of terror safe havens in Pakistan gave terrorists an opportunity to carry out attacks inside Afghanistan at their will.

India, France strengthen 50 years space bond, ink pact for satellite launch.
Indian Space Research Organisation and French Space agency (CNES) signed a partnership agreement in satellite launch technology.
The agreement was signed between ISRO Chairman Kiran Kumar and CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall in the presence of visiting French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault.
Space cooperation between France and India spans over 50 years and is one of the cornerstones of the Indo-French strategic partnership.

India, Kenya Sign Agreements In Area of Agriculture.
India and Kenya have signed agreements in the area of agriculture which were inked after delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kenyian President Uhuru Kenyatta in New Delhi.
India is collabrating with kenya to raise agricultural productivity and the Loan of Credit Agreement of 100 million dollars signed for farm mechanisation will open a new dimension of engagement between the two countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated that expansion of bilateral trade, make greater flow of capital between two economies and stronger developmental partnership is a priority.

January 12

Mexico sets record for largest carpet of flowers.
Mexico set the Guinness World Record for the largest carpet of flowers, measuring 14,200 square metres, last month.
The display, in the gardens of Jardines de México, included about 1,26,000 flowers.
The exhibit was created with the objective of promoting a flower variety known as Poinsettias, and to promote its commercialisation across the world.

Saudi Arabia hikes India’s Haj quota by 34,500.
Saudi Arabia has increased India’s annual Haj quota by 34,500, a move welcomed by the NDA government as ''a matter of pleasure''.
Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Saudi Arabia's Haj and Umrah Minister Dr. Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten inked an agreement in this regard in Jeddah, increasing India’s Haj quota from 1,36,020 to 1,70,520.
According to a statement issued by Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) Naqvi, it is the ''biggest increase'' in quota for Haj pilgrims after 1988.
The increase will be effective from the current year.

January 13

Japan’s Abe Signs 1-trillion Yen Aid Package to Philippines.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has signed a 1-trillion yen (about $8.7 billion) aid package over the next five years to the Philippines, meant to improve economic and political relations between the two island nations.
The package is focused on infrastructure and energy.
Abe's two-day visit to the archipelago makes him the first foreign leader to visit since the election of the Philippines' controversial President Rodrigo Duterte in May 2016.

Russia to ban cigarette sale to those born after 2015.
The Russian health ministry has unveiled plans to ban the sale of cigarettes to anyone born after 2015.
The health ministry’s proposal, which has the backing of President Vladimir Putin, would make Russia the first country in the world to completely phase out tobacco.

Russian spares to support India.
Russia has amended its laws, allowing long-term contracts for spares and support for military equipment supplied to India.
This will address long-standing concerns on the serviceability of the imported equipment.
In the next step, India is also discussing the possibility of Russian Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) allowing licence-manufacture of spares locally by Indian vendors.
Currently, procurement of spares is a long and cumbersome process as India cannot deal directly with the OEMs but with designated intermediaries like Rosoboronexport. The change in law does away with that.

Pakistan to renovate Katas Raj temple.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited the Katas Raj Hindu temple in Chakwal district of Punjab to inaugurate its renovation.
The work includes installation of a water filtration plant in the Amrat Jal area.
The Katas Raj temple is revered by Hindus across the globe as legend has it that the foundation of the sacred site was laid by Lord Shiva.

January 14

U.S. moves to lift 20-year trade embargo against Sudan.
The Obama administration took steps to lift a 20-year-old trade embargo against Sudan, unfreeze assets and remove financial sanctions in what the White House was a response to the African nation's cooperation in fighting Islamic State and other groups, angering human rights organizations.
The move in the last days of the Obama administration will however will be delayed by 180 days to see whether Sudan acts further to improve its human rights record, and resolve political and military conflicts, including in Darfur.
That leaves the final decision of sanctions relief, after the review period, to President-elect Donald Trump and his secretary of state, who is likely to be Rex Tillerson, a former oil executive.

Ecuador takes chair of UN group of 134 developing countries.
Ecuador has taken over from Thailand as chair of the Group of 77 which promotes the interests of the 134 developing countries it represents at the United Nations, including China.
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa told handover ceremony that the group will continue promoting "social and economic equality''.

Australia, Japan boost defense ties amid China's growing military might.
The leaders of Australia and Japan agreed to boost cooperation between their militaries, as Japan tries to shore up security ties throughout the Asia-Pacific region amid concern over China's growing military might.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull had signed an upgraded defence agreement after talks in Sydney on trade and regional security issues.
The pact would allow their militaries to provide each other with logistical support during exercises, and are working toward an agreement that would make it easier to participate in joint military exercises.

India-Sri Lanka sign MoU to construct 3000 Rain Water Harvesting systems.
India and Sri Lanka signed a MoU to construct 3000 rain water harvesting systems at a cost of 30 crore Sri Lankan Rupees in northern Jaffna District.
The MoU was signed by Mr. Arindam Bagchi, Acting High Commissioner of India in the presence of Hon. A.H.M. Fowzie, State Minister of National Integration and Reconciliation.
The project envisages construction of rainwater harvesting systems for 3000 households in selected divisions of Tamil majority Jaffna District.
It aims to assist people by supporting resettlement efforts focused on reintegrating internally displaced families in Jaffna by providing clean drinking water supply facility to households.

January 16

China hands over two ships to Pakistan for maritime security.
China has handed over two ships to Pakistan Navy to ensure joint security of the trade route along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the Gwadar port.
The formal handover of the ships, held at a ceremony at Gwadar port attended by Chinese officials, is likely to raise alarm in India.
The recently built and equipped ships with state of the art guns will be part of the Pakistan Navy.
Pakistan Navy Vice Admiral Arifullah Hussaini received the ships, which have been named after nearby rivers Hingol and Basol.
The Chinese government will be providing two more ships to Pakistan Navy, named Dasht and Zhob.

Indonesia and Japan to deepen defence ties amid China challenge.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indonesian President Joko Widodo on January 15, 2016 agreed upon their commitment to deepen cooperation on maritime Indonesia and Japan to deepen defence ties amid China challengesecurity and deepen defence ties.
Japan will encourage cooperation on maritime security and encourage the development of the remote islands of Indonesia as both nations face dispute with China over maritime issues. Japanese investment in Indonesia had nearly doubled from 2015 to about $5 billion in 2016.
Japan has won bids to construct Indonesia’s largest coal-fired power plant and a mass rapid transit system for Jakarta.

January 17

India becomes Associate member of CERN.
India became an Associate member of CERN with the Indian government completing its internal approval procedures in respect of the agreement it had signed with CERN on November 21, 2016.
But India had to ''notify CERN of its final approval for the Agreement to enter into force'' and become an Associate member, which it did on 16th january.
As an Associate member India will have full access to all data generated at CERN. As there are many experiments in CERN, there will be plenty of information available.
The CERN convention was signed in 1953 by the 12 founding state. Currently, CERN has 22 member states. Besides India, Turkey, Pakistan, Ukraine are Associate members and Serbia and Cyprus are associate members in the pre-stage to membership.

January 18

World’s lightest watch unveiled in Geneva.
The world’s ultralight high-performance mechanical watch RM 50-03 was inaugurated at the 27th edition of the Salon International De La Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva.
The watch made up of graphene composite has been developed by the University ofLightest Watch of the World made Using Graphene Launched Manchester, UK in collaboration with the watchmaking brand Richard Mille and McLaren F1.
The overall weight of the ultralight watch is 40 grams only and is extremely durable.

Obama transfers $500 million to Green Climate Fund in attempt to protect Paris deal.
The outgoing Barack Obama administration announced a contribution of half a billion dollars to the UN Green Climate Fund, just three days before Donald Trump takes over the White House.
The $500 million payment, announced by State Department spokesperson John Kirby in a statement, is the second from the United States to support the United Nations Green Climate Fund, which aims to mitigate the effects of climate change in the world’s poorest countries.
The Paris accord reached in late 2015 has been dubbed one of Obama’s successes - whereas the Republican president-elect has called climate change a ''hoax''.
The Obama administration had announced in 2014 - a year before the COP 21 agreement was adopted - a $3 billion pledge for the fund.

Ukraine Gets its First Baby Girl Born Using New 'Three-Person' IVF Technique.
A baby girl has been born in Ukraine using a new kind of ''three-person IVF''.
The Kiev team are the first to successfully use the method called pronuclear transfer, whereby the mother's egg was fertilised with her partner's sperm, with the combined genes transferred into a donor egg.
The newly born child shares the genetic identity of her parents, while also carrying a very small amount of DNA from the egg donor.
Although the technique was initially developed to increase the chances of women at risk of passing on serious genetic disorders, known as mitochondrial disease, having a healthy child, the Kiev doctors used the process to help an infertile but otherwise healthy couple.
The baby born in Ukraine is not the first to be born with DNA from three parents, however. Last year, another child was born using a similar method in Mexico.

January 19

Venezuela authorises new currency notes, coins.
Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro authorised new banknotes ranging from 500 to 20,000 bolivars to deal with the soaring inflation in the country.
He also extended the deadline for exchanging 100 bolivar notes, formerly the highest denomination in the country, for the third time until February 20. Notably, inflation in Venezuela is expected to reach 1,600% this year.

January 20

Malaysia announces cash reward for info on missing MH370.
Malaysia's Deputy Transport Minister Aziz Kaprawi announced a cash reward to private parties who can provide "substantial information or evidence" about the location of the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight, MH370.
The search for MH370 was suspended after the underwater hunt concluded without success.
The missing flight had disappeared in March 2014 with 239 on board.

January 22

Hong Kong withdraws visa-free facility for Indians.
Hong Kong has withdrawn the visa-on arrival facility for Indians travelling to Hong Kong effective from January 23, 2017.
From now, the Indian nationals must apply for and successfully complete pre-arrival registration online before they can visit or transit the HKSAR visa-free.
However for those Indians are travelling in direct transit by air via Hong Kong and not leaving the Hong Kong airport transit area would not require pre-arrival registration.
Indians were till now permitted by Hong Kong to enter with valid passport for a period up to 14 days without a visa.
But the facility has been withdrawn since the number of Indian asylum seekers was on the rise for business, trade and holiday purpose.

Russian Railways help India to increase the speed of train.
The Russian Railways is helping India’s national transporter increase the speed of its passenger trains up to 200 km per hour.
The Russian Railways is at present collaborating with the Indian Railways on a 575 km stretch between Nagpur and Secunderabad and submitted a preliminary report last week.
To reach the desired speed limit, Russian Railways has proposed several technical and technological solutions, including reconstruction of railway alignment as well as treating the earth bed where there are speed restrictions.

January 23

South Korea to develop train that travels up to 1,000 kmph.
South Korea is planning to develop a high-speed train system in the next three years, aimed to travel at speeds of up to 1,000 kmph.
Based on a hyper-tube technology, that propels floating pod-like vehicles through tubes under partial vacuum, the train will travel from Seoul to Busan in half an hour, instead of the current time of three hours.

Project 'City of Trees' aims to plant 30 lakh trees.
A project titled 'City of Trees' is aimed at planting around 30 lakh trees in Greater Manchester area in England over the next 25 years.
Apart from a measure of increasing greenery in the region, the project has collaborated with the University of Manchester to test how trees can help reduce surface water flooding in built-up areas.

China commissions 31st stealth warship.
Rapidly expanding its naval fleet, China has commissioned its 31st stealth warship as it got its battle group under its first aircraft carrier ready amid tensions with the U.S. and other nations over its assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy has commissioned its 31st Type-056 class corvette, marking a new addition to the world’s largest fleet of modern corvettes.
With a maximum speed of 52 km/h, the ship features good manoeuvrability, a high-level of automation and stealth capability, and is capable of hitting aircraft, ships and submarines.

January 24

Nepal launches 10-year-plan to cut vegetable imports from India.
Nepal government has launched a 10-year-plan to cut dependence on vegetable imports from India and make the land-locked country self-reliant in food.
Vegetable imports from India have continued to increase even despite the far-western region seeing a rise in commercial vegetable farming.
According to the report, the region imports vegetables worth 55 billion rupees every year from India.
Bill introduced to remove US from United Nations.
Republican congressman Mike Rogers has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives calling for US to completely withdraw from United Nations.
The bill has been cosponsored by six other Republican congressmen and calls for UN to remove its headquarters from New York.
Rogers reportedly proposed the bill as he believes taxpayer’s money shouldn't be wasted on an 'anti-US organisation'.

China builds world's largest solar farm.
China has reportedly built the world's largest solar park which can produce about 850 MW of power in Qinghai province.
The Longyangxia Dam Solar Park occupies 27 square kilometres and has been expanded several times since its construction began in 2013.
The farm was built at the cost of around $875 million (around Rs. 6,000 crore), according to reports.

London’s Mayor Issues First 'Very High' Air Pollution Alert.
Sadiq Khan issued the first 'very high' air pollution alert of his eight-month tenure as London mayor, advising citizens to reduce physical exertion and avoid running outside.
The U.K. government is struggling to rein in toxic levels of air pollution that the Royal College of Physicians estimates kills about 40,000 people a year nationwide.
Khan has made tackling the problem a priority of his tenure, promising to spend 875 million pounds ($1.1 billion) through the 2021-22 fiscal year to tackle poor air quality.

Trump signed executive order to withdraw the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
U.S. President Donald Trump formally withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, distancing America from its Asian allies as China's influence in the region rises.
Fulfilling a campaign pledge to end American involvement in the 2015 pact, Trump signed an executive order in the Oval Office pulling the United States from the 12-nation TPP.
The accord, backed heavily by U.S. business, was negotiated by former President Barack Obama's administration but never approved by Congress.
It had been the main economic pillar of the Obama administration's "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific region to counter China.
Trump has sparked worries in Japan and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific with his opposition to the TPP and his campaign demands for U.S. allies to pay more for their security.

January 25

President Trump Signs Executive Order to Advance Keystone XL, Dakota Access Pipelines.
President Donald Trump has taken a major step in advancing the construction of two oil pipeline projects, marking a massive moment in a months-long international story.
The president signed executive actions to advance the approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota access oil pipelines, wiping away the efforts of former President Barack Obama to block construction of the exact same projects.
The documents signed by the president also included a declaration that oil pipelines constructed in the U.S. should be built with American-made materials as well as speeding up the regulatory processes for construction and making the environmental review process of such projects shorter.

After music startup, card game company offers Obama a job.
Party game maker Cards Against Humanity has offered former US President Barack Obama a job as its CEO in a job posting.
The listing calls for "experience hunting terrorist masterminds" and ideally, a Nobel Peace Prize.
Music streaming startup Spotify had also offered Obama a job as its 'President of Playlists' after he created a popular music playlist.

Nepali migrant worker in India will get insurance cover.
Nepal government has announced a plan to provide insurance cover to Nepalese workers going to India and double the insurance cover for those going to other work destinations.
Unveiling the scheme in Kathmandu, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal say the plan is aimed at providing better social security to migrant workers, more importantly to the families of those killed and injured in their work destinations.
The decision will benefit around 5 million Nepalese working in more than 110 work destinations recognised by the government.

Russia, Turkey and Iran Agree on Syria Truce Monitoring.
Russia, Turkey and Iran have agreed to jointly monitor the fragile cease-fire between the Syrian regime and rebels to find a political solution of ending the six-year conflict.
The accord was signed by Moscow and Ankara and Tehran on January 24, 2017 in Kazakhstan on behalf of the Syrian government and armed rebel groups.
A trilateral mechanism would be established by the group to observe and ensure full compliance with the ceasefire and prevent any provocations.
However the arrangements for monitoring the cease-fire and enforcing it would be decided at next meeting in February 2017 in Geneva.

India, France sign pact on maritime information sharing in Indian Ocean Region.
India and France have signed White shipping agreement to enable information sharing on maritime traffic and maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
The agreement was signed in New Delhi after both countries held their second dialogue on maritime cooperation for the IOR.
Key Facts The agreement will enable navies of India and France to coordinate their roles in stabilising Indo-Pacific region.
It will enhance Indo-French maritime security cooperation in the region. It will be implemented over the next few months.

January 26

Burj Khalifa lights up in 'Tricolour' to mark Indian Republic Day.
Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, was lit up in tri-colours - saffron, white and green - to celebrate India's 68th Republic Day, showcasing strong cultural and trade bond between India and the UAE.
The visual expression of the tri-colors underlined the solidarity of the UAE and its people with India, with which the nation shares strong cultural and trade ties.
The iconic building in Dubai, which stands at 823 metres, was named in honour of the ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the United Arab Emirates Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Dubai is one of the seven emirates of the UAE.
Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan will be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade on 26 January.

US President Trump orders 2,000 mile wall to be built on Mexico border.
President Donald Trump has signed directives to build a wall along the US border with Mexico and crack down on US cities that shield illegal immigrants, proceeding quickly on sweeping and divisive plans to kerb immigration and boost national security.
Trump signed two executive orders at the Department of Homeland Security, one ordering construction of a wall along the roughly 2,000 mile (3,200 kilometre) US-Mexico border and the other moving to strip federal grant money from ''sanctuary'' states and cities, often governed by Democrats, that harbour illegal immigrants.

China to build world's brightest light source facility.
China plans to build a next-generation synchrotron radiation facility in Beijing, according to a researcher from Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The project is expected to start in November 2018 and will be completed in six years. The total investment will reach 4.8 billion yuan ($698 million).
The facility, dubbed Beijing Light Source, will meet the national security demands and create aerospace materials among other products. It will provide high-resolution method to know substantial structures better.
Beijing Light Source will be the so-called fourth generation light source and its key performance indicators would be higher than the third-generation ones.

Netherlands sets up abortion fund to counter Trump's cuts.
The Netherlands is launching a global fund to help women access abortion services to compensate for US President Donald Trump's ban on US government funding for NGOs performing or providing information about abortions abroad, according to reports.
Trump's restrictions are expected to cause a funding shortfall of $600 million (over Rs. 4,000 crore) over the next four years.

January 27

''Surya Namaskar Yajna'' now recognised in US Congress.
The annual ''Surya Namaskar Yajna'' or ''Health for Humanity Yogathon'' has been recognized in the US House of Representative on the occasion of its 10th anniversary.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh has organized the ''Yoga for Health, Health for Humanity Yogathon'' from January 14 to January 29 to mark Makar Sankranti.
The 16-day event will raise awareness about yoga and its advantages in achieving a healthy body, mind, and spirit.

January 28

Visitors of 7 Muslim-majority nations got ban for 90-day by Trump.
A draft executive order obtained by The Associated Press shows that President Donald Trump intends to stop accepting Syrian refugees and suspends the United States' broader refugee program for 120 days.
The president also plans to suspend issuing visas for people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen for at least 30 days, according to the draft. All are predominantly Muslim countries.
Trump is expected to sign the order this week. It was not clear if the draft will be revised before then.
The actions would continue Trump's rapid-fire attempts in his first week as president to move forward on signature issues of his campaign: cracking down on illegal immigration and blocking the entry of people from countries where terrorist organizations have a significant presence.

Trump meets May in first summit with foreign leader.
US President Donald Trump met British Prime Minister Theresa May in his first summit with a foreign leader since inauguration, hours after she called on the US and the UK to again ''lead together''.
The meeting was being watched with global interest as the two countries seek to find common ground on trade and lay the groundwork for a new deal following last year’s Brexit vote in favour of the UK to leave the European Union. The two countries are also looking to boost defence ties.
It was also Trump’s first tryst with face-to-face diplomacy as he welcomed his first foreign visitor to the White House.
Ahead of the meeting with Trump, May, while speaking at the Republican Retreat in Philadelphia,say with the emergence of non-state actors, it was time that the countries such as the US and Britain assert their leadership role.

January 29

Visitors Denmark creates world’s first Digital Ambassador.
Denmark became the first country in the world to appoint a special ''digital ambassador'' in its administration to work on building ties with the globe’s tech giants.
The new ambassadorship will open a new Danish diplomatic line to the United States beyond Washington for tech diplomacy to build ties with some of the world’s top tech companies, including Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
It may also pave way to lobby digital businesses to invest in Denmark.

Abu Dhabi to set up court for non-Muslims.
Abu Dhabi will set up a court for non-Muslims to strengthen the culture of tolerance and acceptance of other communities and ensure access to services for all segments of the society.
Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, has issued a resolution for the setting up of a Personal Status and Inheritance Court for non-Muslims in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the largest of the UAE's seven emirates.
The move is in line with the strategic goals of the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department to enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of the judicial procedures and ensure access to services for all segments of the society.

FARC rebels, Colombia govt to fight cocaine cultivation.
The Colombian government and rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have reportedly announced a joint deal to fight cocaine crop cultivation.
Earlier, FARC relied on cocaine production to fund its insurgency.
Under the deal, farmers will be offered loans, subsidies and monthly payments of around $350 (around Rs. 24,000) if they agree to destroy their cocaine crops.

Germany's Merkel, Trump Agree on Importance of NATO in Call.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Donald Trump discussed conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine agreed on the importance of NATO during their first call since Trump's inauguration, according to joint statement by Merkel's office.
The two leaders had an "extensive phone conversation" in which they also talked about relations with Russia.
On NATO, both agreed on the "fundamental importance that the NATO alliance has for trans-Atlantic relations" and the need for all members to pay their fair share.

There is a 'cotton castle' in Turkey.
Located in Turkey, Pamukkale, which means 'cotton castle', features terraced hot springs.
The mineral-rich rock formation earlier housed the Greek-Roman spa town of Hierapolis.
The ruins of the baths, temples and other Greek monuments can be seen at the site. The attraction is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

January 30

Mauritius joins global efforts to curb profit shifting by MNEs.
In a significant step, Mauritius will soon start automatically sharing of tax information with India and other countries as part of global efforts to curb multinational companies from profit shifting activities.
The development also comes months after the island nation, long perceived to be a jurisdiction for alleged illegal fund flows into Indian shores, agreed to revise its bilateral tax treaty with India to address the concerns.
Along with Mauritius, six other countries signed the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement for Country-by- Country Reporting (CbC MCAA), bringing the total number of signatories to 57.
CbC MCAA allows signatories to bilaterally and automatically exchange country-by-country reports with each other, as contemplated by Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan.

January 31

Pakistan declines India invite to attend South Asian Speakers Summit.
Amid tensions in ties between India and Pakistan, Islamabad has rejected an invitation from the Indian Parliament and the International Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) to attend the South Asian speakers summit to be held in Indore.
Pakistan declining India’s invitation to the IPU conference seems to be a tit for tat act given that India had boycotted a Commonwealth Parliamentary Union (CPU) meeting in Islamabad to protest against Pakistan's decision to not invite the speaker of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly in 2015.

Gambia's President Removes 'Islamic' from Country’s Name.
The Gambia's new President, Adama Barrow, has removed 'Islamic' from the official name of the country pledging more reforms in the West African nation.
The word 'Islamic' was added by former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh in 2015, making it the Islamic Republic of The Gambia.
Notably, Muslims constitute 90% of the total Gambian population.

H1B reform Bill introduced in US House of Representatives.
The US House of Representatives has introduced a legislation on January 30, 2017 making it mandatory to raise the minimum salary of the H-1B visa holders to more than double at USD 1,30,000 from the previous USD 60,000.
If the legislation is passed, it would highly impact American companies as they may face difficulty in replacing the American employees with foreign workers including IT professionals from India.
The legislation aims to find the best talent from around the world so as to supplement the US workforce with talented, highly-paid, and highly-skilled workers and also provide ample opportunity to create job for Americans rather than replacing them with low cost foreign talent.

Ireland just became the world's first country to stop investing in fossil fuels.
Ireland has voted to be the world's first country to fully divest public money from fossil fuels.
The Irish Parliament passed the historic legislation in a 90 to 53 vote in favour of dropping coal, oil and gas investments from the 8 billion (£6.8 billion) Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, part of the Republic's National Treasury Management Agency.
The bill, introduced by Deputy Thomas Pringle, is likely to pass into law in the next few months after it is reviewed by the financial committee.