international - 2019 March

March 1

Thailand passed internet security law decried as 'cyber martial law'
It could enable internet traffic monitoring and access to private data without a court order.
Thailand’s military-appointed parliament passed a controversial cyber security law that gives sweeping powers to state cyber agencies, despite concerns from businesses and activists over judicial oversight and potential abuse of power.
The Cyber security Act, approved unanimously, is the latest in a wave of new laws in Asian countries that assert government control over the internet.

March 3

Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu embarks on 8-day visit to Paraguay, Costa Rica on 4th March, 2019.
The 8-day tour aims at strengthening bilateral ties with the two Latin American countries.
During Paraguay visit, he will meet with President of Paraguay Mario Abdo Benítez, Vice President Hugo Velázquez, among other dignitaries.
He will also address the India-Paraguay business forum and interact with the Indian diaspora in Paraguay.
During Costa Rica visit, he will meet President of Costa Rica Carlos Alvarado Quesada, First Vice President, Epsy Campbell Barr as well as President of Congress Carolina Hidalgo Herrera.
He will address the prestigious University of Peace, established under the auspices of the United Nations with a specific mandate of furthering the agenda of peace.
He will deliver the keynote address at the India-Costa Rica business forum and meet with the Indian community.

March 4

United States consulate general in Jerusalem merges with embassy
The United States has officially shuttered its consulate in Jerusalem, downgrading the status of its main diplomatic mission to the Palestinians by folding it into the U.S. Embassy to Israel.
The U.S State Department stated that the decision was driven to increase the efficiency and effectiveness in diplomatic engagements.
Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally, and according to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, the final status of Jerusalem is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

March 5

Russia suspends participation in Intermediate-Range Nuclear treaty with US
Russian President Vladimir Putin has officially suspended the country's participation in a key Cold War-era nuclear arms-control treaty with the United States.
Mr. Putin signed a decree regarding the suspension of Russia's participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, INF treaty between the USSR and the US in 1987.
Moscow and Washington have accused one another of breaching the INF treaty.
According to the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), US allies fully support its withdrawal from the pact, insisting that Russia's ground-launched cruise missile systems violate the treaty.

Indo-Bangladesh border in Assam to be under electronic surveillance
The "smart fencing" will be operationalised in the 61 km riverine section of the international border in Dhubri district of Assam where the Brahmaputra River enters into Bangladesh.
The project, BOLD-QIT (Border Electronically Dominated QRT Interception Technique) is aimed to check illegal immigration and smuggling of arms.
It will cover the India-Bangladesh border in the area which consists of ‘char’ (sand islands) and many river channels, which makes border guarding difficult, especially during the rainy season.
To overcome this problem, the Ministry of Home Affairs had in 2017 decided to implement a technological solution besides the physical presence of Border Security Force (BSF) personnel.
BOLD-QIT aims to install technical systems under the CIBMS, enabling the BSF to equip the Indo-Bangla border in the unfenced riverine area of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries with various kind of sensors.

United Kingdom launched global campaign to end 'period poverty' by 2030
The United Kingdom has announced £2 million in aid support and established a new taskforce as part of a global campaign to end 'period poverty' to help all women and girls access sanitary products by 2030 and to tackle the stigma around menstruation.
The United Kingdom announced to give free sanitary products to every National Health Service (NHS) hospital patient.

March 6

Five Asian Countries Collaborate to Increase Rhino Protection
The India will collaborate with Bhutan, Nepal, Indonesia and Malaysia to increase the population of three species of Asian rhinos, including the Greater one-horned rhinoceros found in the Indian sub-continent.
Also, the declaration is signed to review the population of one-horned rhinos and the protection of critically endangered rhino species including Javan and Sumatran Rhinos keeping in view the latest rhino poaching statistics.
The declaration will help in reassessing the need for joint actions to provide a safe haven to these rhinoceros in every four years.

March 7

Venezuela orders German ambassador to leave the country
The Venezuelan government ordered the German ambassador to leave the country after he expressed support for Juan Guaido, escalating a diplomatic standoff with a group of about 50 nations that recognize the opposition leader as the country’s interim president.
The Venezuelan government has announced to expel German ambassador Daniel Kriener from the country.
President Nicolas Maduro’s embattled government has declared the German ambassador persona non grata and ordered him to leave the country within 48 hours.

March 8

Russia laws ban 'disrespect' of government and 'fake news'
Russia's parliament has advanced strict new internet laws allowing the authorities to jail or fine those who spread fake news or disrespect government officials online.
Private individuals who post "fake news" can be hit will small fines of between $45 and $75legal entities face much higher penalties of up to $15,000.
Disrespecting the authorities, including President Vladimir Putin, and state symbolswill carry a fine of up to 300,000 rubles and 15 days in jail for repeat offenders.

March 11

New visa agreement between Maldives & India comes into force.
The agreement will provide a liberal visa policy for Maldivians seeking medical treatment as well as education and business opportunities in India.
The visa deal will allow Maldivian businessmen and tourists to stay in India for 90 days without a visa.
Maldivians with tourist visas can also stay in India for treatment if they suffer a sudden medical issue.

PM Modi, Bangladesh counterpart jointly inaugurate development projects.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina, jointly unveiled e-plaques for development projects in Bangladesh, through video conferencing.
Both the leaders unveiled e-plaques for the supply of buses and trucks, the inauguration of 36 community clinics, 11 water treatment plants, and extension of National Knowledge Network to Bangladesh.
According to the Modi, Ms. Hasina’s vision is the biggest inspiration for stronger connectivity between India and Bangladesh.

March 12

Pakistan made OIC body's deputy chair.
Pakistan has become deputy chairman of general body of the Parliamentary Union of Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC).
Besides this, Pakistan’s woman representative Naureen Farooq has also been elected vice president of the 8th Muslim Women Parliamentarians Conference.
Parliamentary Union of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is an influential group of 57 countries and majority of them are Muslim-dominated.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj made history by becoming the first Indian invitee to an OIC summit attended the inaugural plenary of the 46th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the OIC in Abu Dhabi where Pakistan was elected.

March 13

Italy bans unvaccinated children from school.
Italian children have been told not to turn up to school unless they can prove they have been properly vaccinated.
The deadline follows months of national debate over compulsory vaccination.
Parents could be fined up to €500 if they send unvaccinated children to school.
Children up to the age of six years will be excluded from nursery and kindergarten without proof of vaccination under the new rules.
Those aged between six and 16 cannot be banned from attending school, but their parents face fines if they do not complete the mandatory course of immunizations.

Venezuela's parliament declares 'state of alarm' over power outage
Venezuela's parliament declared a 'state of alarm' as the power outage entered its fifth day.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has blamed the US for the blackout, claiming it attacked its main hydroelectric plant in Guri.
The lack of electricity has affected the water and food supply and also left patients without proper treatment in hospitals.

India grounds Boeing 737 Max 8 planes after Ethiopian Airlines crash
The entry or transit of Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft has been banned by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in the Indian airspace from 1600 hrs IST or 1030 UTC 13th March 2019 following the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people.
The airlines affected by this are Spice Jet which has 13 jets of the model 8 variant and Jet Airways which has 5 jets of this variant.
All the top 10 countries in the air passenger travel category, except the United States and Japan have banned flights of the Boeing 737 MAX 8.

March 14

US – India Strategic Security Dialogue held in Washington.
The 9th round of the U.S.-India Strategic Security Dialogue held in Washington DC, United States. Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale led the Indian delegation and Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson led the US delegation.
The two sides exchanged views on a wide range of global security and non-proliferation challenges. Both nations reaffirmed their commitment to work together to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems and to deny access to such weapons by terrorists and non-state actors.
US will help in building 6 nuclear power plants in India which will boost bilateral civil nuclear energy cooperation. US reaffirmed its strong support of India’s early membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
3rd round of the U.S.-India Space Dialogue was held on 12th March 2019 where they discussed trends in space threats, respective national space priorities and opportunities for cooperation bilaterally and in multilateral fora.

Life and times of Mahatma Gandhi is on display in London Book Fair.
India Pavilion was inaugurated by Vikram Sahay, Joint Secretary in Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and Sadhana Rout, Director General in the Publications Division in the London Book Fair. London Book Fair is being organized from 12th March to 14th March 2019.
The Indian Pavilion is focused on 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and it displays the digital version of Life and times of Mahatma Gandhi.
The Statue of Unity and other major achievements of India is also presented in the Indian Pavilion.

Russia releases coin commemorating annexation of Crimea.
A new coin that features the Crimea or Kerch Strait Bridge has been released by Russia’s central bank, to mark Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
Two million new five ruble (about $0.08, €0.07) coins were pressed which depict an outline of the peninsula which was annexed by Russia in 2014.
This is second commemoration of Crimea, the first being a 200 ruble note released in 2015 and depicted the desire of the people of Russia to see these symbols on notes.

March 15

European Union Adds 10 Countries to Tax Blacklist
The European Union expanded its Tax haven blacklist by 10 Countries adding the United Arab Emirates, Bermuda despite the objections of powerful member states such as Italy.
The list had previously included five countries and now it became 15 countries. It was first drawn up in 2017 in the wake of several scandals including the panama papers and LuxLeaks that pushed the EU into doing more to fight tax evasion by multinationals and the rich.
Due to their inability towards reform commitments, countries including Aruba, Belize, Bermuda, Fiji, Oman, Vanuatu, and Dominica are moved from grey list to black list. They are also joined by Barbados, and the Marshall Islands. 
About EU:
The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe.
Headquarters: Brussels, Belgium

March 16

India captained resolutions on single-use plastics and sustainable nitrogen management at UN Environment Assembly
The 4th session of United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) held in Nairobi, Kenya where the India piloted resolutions on single-use plastics and sustainable nitrogen management.
The theme of the 4th session of UNEA was Innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable production and consumption.
India hosted the High – Level Segment of UNEA which is a session on ‘Global Partnerships: Key to Unlocking Resource Efficiency and Inclusive Green Economies’.
As the global nitrogen efficiency is low, it results in pollution which contributes to climate change and ozone depletion. Most of the plastics produced are of single-use which will damage the environment and aquatic bio-diversity.

March 17

Cyclone Idai hit the port city of Beira
Cyclone Idai hit the Mozambique city of Beira and caused heavy rain and landfall at the port city. More than 5,00,000 people were effected by Idai in Beria.
More than 200 people have been killed by the heavy rains and storm of up to 177 km/h (106 mph) in the Mozambique and Malawi. The Cyclone is now heading towards Zimbabwe

France freeze assets of JeM chief Masood Azhar
French government has decided to put Masood Azhar on a European Union list of people suspected of being involved in terrorism.
The decision comes after China blocked the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) bid to designate Azhar as a global terrorist.
France was one of the main initiators of the proposal.
Jaish e Mohammad claimed responsibility of the deadly Pulwama attack on CRPF convoys on 14th February this year.

March 18

Sushma Swaraj on a two day visit to Maldives
The joint ministerial meeting was held in Male, where both Sushma Swaraj and Abdullah Shahid have discussed ways to enhance bilateral ties over a variety of issues, including capacity development, health cooperation, trade, investment and economy. 
India and Maldives carved out 3 agreements:
This visit has availed both India and Maldives to exchange approved agreement on visa facilitation for diplomatic and official passport holders, development cooperation, and renewable energy to benefit both the countries.
2 Memorandums of Understanding to collaborate in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Maldives has also reaffirmed its “India-First Policy” to work efficiently with India on all issues and will remain sensitive towards its security and strategic concerns.
She has unveiled a plaque of the renovated Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Maldives.

U.K. government to remove any limit on the number of PhD-level work visas
According to the, U.K. Chancellor Philip Hammond in a Budget update, referred to as the annual Spring Statement, that from Autumn 2019, PhD-level occupations will be exempt from the Tier 2 (General) cap, and at the same time the government will update the immigration rules on 180-day absences so that researchers conducting fieldwork overseas are not penalized if they apply to settle in the U.K.
Indians are among the largest group of professionals set to benefit from this decision, as they form the largest chunk of highly-skilled professionals within the Tier 2 (General) category of work visas, accounting for 54% of all such visas granted in 2018.
Indian nationals also marked the largest increase in the grant of Tier 2 visas last year, up by 6% at 3,023 more visas compared to the previous year.

Vijit becomes the first Indian Coast Guard ship to visit Indonesia
Highlighting the close maritime proximity between India and Indonesia, Indian Coast Guard Ship 'Vijit' became the first-ever Coast Guard ship to visit Sabang, Indonesia.
During its maiden voyage from 17th March to 20th March 2019, officers and crew of Vijit will hold interaction with officials of Bakamla (Indonesian Coast Guard), Indonesian Armed Forces and the civil administration at Sabang.
This visit of the coast guard ship follows from the first-ever-visit of Naval Ship INS Sumitra to Sabang in July 2018.
The ship ‘Vijit’ is commanded by Commandant T. Ashish (0532-J), who is a long Navigation Direction officer.

March 20

4th Round of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks between India and Peru held in Lima
The FTA agreement is aimed to enhance the two-way commerce between India and Peru.
The Bilateral trade between India and Peru has been increased from 1.77 billion dollars in 2016-17 to 3.13 billion dollars in 2017-18 and Lima ranked third among export destination for India in Latin America and Caribbean region.

Kazakhstan renames its capital Astana as Nursultan after ex-president
Kazakhstan has renamed its capital as Nursultan from its previous name Astana in order to recognize its outgoing leader Nursultan Nazarbayev (78), who has served nearly 30 years as president of Kazakhstan.
The name was changed after Kassym-Jomart Tokayev sworn in as president of Kazakhstan.

Indian navy to provide aid to cyclone hit Mozambique
Three Naval Ships namely INS Sujatha, INS Shardul, and ICGS Sarathi have reached the port city of Beira in Mozambique to provide immediate Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) to Central and Northern part of Mozambique.
Cyclone IDAI made landfall at Beira, causing widespread damage and loss of human life in the Central and Northern provinces.
The Indian Navy Ships are likely to set up medical camps and provide food, water, blankets and other necessary relief items as required by the local authorities.

March 21

First ever High-Level Dialogue on Indo-Pacific Cooperation (HLD-IPC) held in Jakarta, Indonesia
The Government of Indonesia has hosted the first ever High-Level Dialogue on Indo-Pacific Cooperation (HLD-IPC) in its capital city Jakarta. The theme of the HLD was “Towards a Peaceful, Prosperous, and Inclusive Region”. It was inaugurated by Indonesia’s Vice President Jusuf Kalla.
The Dialogue saw the participation of representatives from India, Australia, US, Brunei Darussalam, Japan, South Korea, Russia, New Zealand and China apart from 10 member ASEAN countries.
The objective behind this meet was to urge all participating governments to talk openly about their plans for increasing cooperation and for building trust in the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean region.
The Indo-Pacific region is comprised of three-fifth of the world’s population with gross domestic product (GDP) amounted to US$52 trillion.

March 22

New Zealand Bans Assault Weapons
New Zealand has imposed an immediate ban on assault weapons following the Christchurch massacre that claimed the lives of 50 mosque-goers.
Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern announced assault rifles and military-style semi-automatic weapons would be banned with immediate effect, making a pledge to ensure that nothing like Christchurch massacre ever occurs in the Pacific nation again.

March 24

Italy joins China’s Belt and Road Initiative
Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Rome, endorsing the global infrastructure-building scheme.
Conte and Xi shook hands after 29 separate sections of the MoU were signed by members of both governments.
This MoU’s cover cooperation in the banking sector, a partnership between a Chinese construction company and Italian ports and the export of fruit from the Mediterranean country to China.
The agreements also hinted at collaboration between media outlets, as well as in the spheres of science and technology, and promised the return of hundreds of Chinese cultural objects currently in Italy. The MoU is non-binding. But by opening the door to greater Sino-Italian cooperation, it threatens to deepen rifts between Rome and its traditional allies and within Italy's fragmented coalition government.

March 25

World’s largest e-waste recycling hub opened at the Dubai Industrial Park, Dubai
The world’s largest e-waste recycling plant has opened in Dubai Industrial Park, Dubai by ‘Enviroserve’ company with a total cost of $5 million.
It will recycle Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), IT asset disposition (ITAD), refrigerant gas and specialized waste. The processing capacity of this recycling hub is 100,000 tonnes of total integrated waste (per year), of which 39,000 tonnes is e-waste.
The recycling hub will use state-of-the-art reclamation technology, which beat the European Union’s standards for e-waste.
The project is supported by the Swiss Government Export Finance Agency.

Pakistan approved Sharada Peeth Corridor proposal for Hindu Pilgrims from India
After Kartarpur Corridor, now Government of Pakistan has given its consent to the proposal of opening Sharada Peeth Corridor for Hindu pilgrims to visit Sharada Peeth located in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK).
The 5000 years old Sharada Peeth is an ancient Hindu temple and cultural site in PoK.
It is also an ancient centre of learning, dedicated to the Hindu goddess of learning.

President Kovind Embarks On State Visit To Croatia, Bolivia And Chile
President Ram Nath Kovind embarked on a state visit to Croatia, Bolivia and Chile to hold talks with the leaders of these countries and strengthen ties in trade, investment and renewable energy.
India will be conducting separate bilateral forums with Croatia, Bolivia and Chile during President Kovind's visit to these countries. President Kovind will first visit Croatia in what would be the first visit by an Indian president to the European country.

March 26

Trump Sign Proclamation Recognizing Israel’s Sovereignty Over Golan Heights
US President Donald Trump has signed a proclamation recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 war but its sovereignty over the territory is not recognized by the international community. Over the past years terrorist groups in southern Syria continued to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks against Israel.

March 27

Shanahan Approves $1 Billion in Pentagon Funds for Trump's Wall
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan authorizes army engineers to begin planning and constructing The wall along the US-Mexico border.
The amount will go towards building 92 km of 18-foot fencing, improving roads and other measures along the border.
Earlier Trump had declared national emergency over the border wall demand.

European Parliament approves new copyright rules for the internet
European Parliament adopted controversial copyright reforms championed by news publishers and the media business.
Under the reform, European law for the first time would hold platforms legally responsible for enforcing copyright, requiring them to check everything that their users post to prevent infringement.
After intense debate by Members of European Parliament (MEPs) meeting in Strasbourg, passed the draft law with 348 votes in favor, 274 against and 36 abstentions.
The reform was strongly opposed by Silicon Valley and especially Google that makes huge profits from the advertising generated on content it hosts.

March 28

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale held bilateral talks with Nepalese counterpart Shankar Das in Kathmandu
They reviewed all aspects of bilateral partnership between India and Nepal and exchanged views on issues of mutual interest.
They expressed satisfaction at the substantial progress in bilateral projects and initiatives that were discussed and agreed to during the reciprocal visits of Prime Ministers of Nepal and India last year.
Both sides also agreed to strengthen the traditionally close, friendly and multi-faceted partnership between the two countries.

March 29

UN Security Council adopts Resolution to combat Terror Financing
The Security Council of UN has passed the new Resolution 2462 which is intended to crack down on the financing of terrorist groups and ordering members to enforce laws against terror financing.
The resolution will take concrete steps that would make it more difficult for terrorist groups to fund their operations.
This is the first step by UN to focus solely on the issue and address the terrorist groups and their affiliates.

The largest energy storage system in Asia was built by Tesla
Tesla has developed its ‘largest power storage system in Asia’ at Osaka train station in Japan to reduce energy demand and provide emergency backup power to trains in Japan.
 It was Launched in partnership with Kintetsu, a railway operator in Japan’s Osaka
 Tesla has installed 42 Powerpacks units at Osaka train station in Japan which will provide enough amount of energy to safely move a train and its passengers for up to 30 minutes to the nearest station if any power failure happens.
 This 7 megawatt-hours (MWh) system is not only the largest energy storage project in Asia, but also the fourth largest in the greater Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.

March 30

India and US renew Triangular Development Cooperation in Asia and Africa
India and the US has signed an agreement to the Statement of Guiding Principles (SGP) on triangular cooperation for global development to facilitate with a framework to promote bilateral cooperation to meet the developmental ambitions of partner countries, particularly in Asia and Africa.
This agreement was signed by Devyani Khobragade, Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs of India, and Mark Anthony White, Mission Director for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in India.
This amendment to the Statement of Guiding Principles agreement extends the validity of the pact up to 2021.

March 31

Brunei makes gay sex and adultery punishable to death by stoning
Brunei is to begin imposing death by stoning as a punishment for gay sex and adultery. As part of the country’s highly criticized implementation of sharia law.
From April 3rd , people in the tiny south-east Asian kingdom will be subjected to a draconian new penal code, which also includes the amputation of a hand and a foot for the crime of theft. To be convicted, the crimes must be “witnessed by a group of Muslims”.
Brunei, which has adopted a more conservative form of Islam in recent years, first announced in 2013 its intention to introduce sharia law, the Islamic legal system that imposes strict corporal punishments.