Current Affairs International

 The Union Minister of State for Shipping (I/C) Mansukh Mandaviya participated in the High-level roundtable of United Nations AIDS (UNAIDS) programme at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. The theme of the programme is “Access for all: Leveraging Innovations, Investments and Partnerships for Health”. The main objective of the programme is to coordinate global action on the AIDS disease and alleviate its impact. It was established in 1994.
  • What is UNAIDS?
UNAIDS provides the strategic direction, advocacy, coordination and technical support needed to catalyse and connect leadership from governments, the private sector and communities to deliver life-saving HIV services. UNAIDS is leading the global effort to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Role of India
Government of India is changing the scenario of health-sector, and the policy changes driven by Government for Affordable and Quality Health Access to All. The health needs, technologies and solutions to bridge economic inequalities in the health sector were discussed. The AIDS programme in India is implemented by NACO (National AIDS Control Organization). It formulates policy and implements prevention and control programmes of AIDS in the country. According to UNAIDS India is the third-largest country with the HIV epidemic in the world. NACO is the nodal organization to implement AIDS programmes of the Indian Government. Apart from this, it also conducts HIV estimation biennially along ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research). The first round of such estimation was conducted in 1998 and the last was done in 2017.

 The Bilateral International Treaty organization, an international arbitration tribunal recently dismissed all the claims against India.
  • Highlights
The claims against India was brought the organization by private firms in Cyprus and Russia. The claims were under Agreement between Government of Russian Federation and Cyprus for promotion and protection of investments. The claims have now been dismissed completely.
  • Bilateral Investment Treaty
BIT is an agreement that was established for FDI. It allows countries to set up rules for investments between each other. The treaty is the successor of the 19th century friendship, commerce and navigation treaty. The first BIT was signed between Pakistan and Germany. BIT ensures that foreign investors are treated equally as that of domestic investors. This is because, foreign investments are restricted by governments to promote domestic entrepreneurs. For instance, US restricts foreign investment in only 5 sectors and China restricts foreign investment in 100 sectors.
  • Significance
India entered BIT in the mid-90s. It is important for India to sign BIT to make conditions favourable for foreign investors. While most of the treaties in the world focus on ‘most favored Nation’ treatment, BIT treats foreign countries equally.
  • India and BIT
According to the data of Ministry of Finance, India has so far signed BIT with 75 states. Out of these 66 are already in force and 9 are yet to be entered into force. India has signed 40 BITs with less developed and developing nations. As every other country, India has set its own BITs clauses. BIT clauses of India is not the same for all the countries. The most important feature of India’s BITs is that it does not provide right to make investment in India to the signatories. Every investment has its own rules fixed by India.

 The 50th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum begins in Davos, Switzerland. On the Indian side, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal will lead the delegation to the WEF. This year programme will focus on achieving the maximum impact on the Forum’s platform for public-private cooperation. This year 50th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum theme will be “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World”.
The Programme for the Annual Meeting will prioritize six key areas: ecology, economy, society, industry, technology, and geopolitics.
  • Ecology: How to mobilize business to respond to the risks of climate change and ensure that measures to protect biodiversity reach forest floors and ocean beds.
  • Economy: How to remove the long-term debt burden and keep the economy working at a pace that allows higher inclusion.
  • Technology: How to create a global consensus on deployment of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies and avoid a ‘technology war’.
  • Society: How to reskill and upskill a billion people in the next decade.
  • Geopolitics: How the ‘spirit of Davos’ can create bridges to resolve conflicts in global hotspots. Informal meetings to set kickstart conciliation.
  • Industry: How to help business create the models necessary to drive enterprise in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. How to navigate an enterprise in a world exposed to political tensions and driven by exponential technological change as well as increasing expectations from all stakeholders.
These initiatives aim to plant more than one trillion trees over the next decade and to equip one billion people with the necessary skills in the age of the 4th Industrial Revolution. The welcome message was followed by the annual crystal awards and this year’s recipients included celebrity film star Deepika Padukone. She has been given the award for her leadership in raising mental health awareness. These awards are given to those cultural leaders, who are improving the state of the world through their contributions to inclusive and sustainable change.

  The US tech giant Microsoft has announced that it would become “carbon negative” by year 2030. The announcement has been made in the form of its increased efforts to combat the climate change. The company announced that it vows to eliminate all the carbon emissions created by the company since its inception in 1975. Microsoft has also announced its investment of $1 billion in a “climate innovation fund” for technology for carbon capture and removal.

  Labour Party candidate Robert Abela elected as 14th prime minister of Malta with 57.9% of the vote. He defeated his closest rival Chris Fearne. He will replace Joseph Muscat, who resigned over the murder of a journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia.

  Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has resigned. They submit their resignation to President Vladimir Putin. Medvedev would take on a new job as deputy head of Russia’s Security Council. The changes would include giving parliament the power to choose the prime minister and senior cabinet members, instead of the president as in the current system.

  The Treasury Department of United States has removed China from the designation as “currency manipulator“. The decision was taken just before the commencement of first phase of US-China trade agreement. In August 2019, China was labeled officially as “currency manipulator” by the United States and also accused China of using yuan to gain “unfair competitive advantage” in trade. This was the first time since 1994 that China was labelled as “currency manipulator”.

  First phase of “Bishwa Ijtema” has commenced in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It is the second largest congregation of Muslim community after Hajj. The second phase of the congregation will be held from January 17 to 19. Bishwa Ijtema is an annual event which is taking place on the outskirts of Dhaka since 1967. It is being organised in a field of 160 acres, on the bank of the Turag river at Tongi on the outskirts of Dhaka. The congregation draws devotees of Muslim community from about 150 countries, hence making it the second largest congregation of Muslim community after Hajj.

  Sayyid Haitham bin Tariq al Said has took over as Sultan of Oman. He will succeed Sultan Qaboos bin Said who passed away recently. The Sultan is the prime decision-maker in Oman and also holds the portfolio of Prime Minister, supreme commander of the armed forces, minister of foreign affairs, minister of finance and minister of defence. Sultan Qaboos bin Said was a charismatic and visionary leader who transformed Oman into a modern and prosperous nation. He was ruling Oman since 1970.

  The Australian Koalas population suffered an extraordinary hit in the bush fires of Australia. It took 3 months for the firemen to control the fires.
  • Highlights
Australia recorded 2019 as its hottest year on record. Around 1.25 billion animals are believed to be dead in bush fires. It has also destroyed more than 10 million hectares of land. The Australian Koalas are to be put under “endangered” from “vulnerable” as 30% of their habitat were destroyed by the fires. The Australian Government has announced 50 million Australian Dollars emergency fund to save the wildlife affected due to the fires.
  • Australian Koalas
The Australian Koalas is herbivorous animals that are native to Australia. They are found in coastal areas of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. The IUCN red list currently puts Australian Koala under Vulnerable Category.
  • Why were the bush fires severe?
The Indian Ocean Dipole was in its positive phase in 2019. This means, the eastern Indian Ocean (lying in the north west of Australia) was cooler than the western Indian. This drew away the moisture from Australia raising temperatures in Australia. The westerlies blowing hot air into the continent increased the fires further fanning them.


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