India to be VC of WCO’s Asia Pacific region

India has become the Vice-Chair of the Asia Pacific Region of World Customs Organisation (WCO) for a period of two years, from July 2018 to June 2020. A ceremony will be organized in New Delhi on 16 June. The Theme of the Inaugural Ceremony is “Customs – Fostering Trade Facilitation”. WCO represents 182 Customs administrations across the globe that process approx 98% of world trade.

MF transactions through Facebook messenger

HDFC securities announced the launch of Mutual Funds (MF) transactional capabilities on Facebook Messenger through their virtual assistant, Arya. This makes the company the first broker in the Asia Pacific region for initiating a social media platform for trading mutual funds. This particular feature facilitates a quick overview of total portfolio holdings.

Connaught Place: 9th most costly location

According to the report of property consultant CBRE, New Delhi’s Connaught Place is the 9th most expensive office location in the world with an annual rent of $153 per sq ft. The ranking was topped by Hong Kong at the 1st position followed by London. The survey highlighted that prime office occupancy cost growth was consistent across all regions in the past 12 months.

ADB approves USD 503 mln lining project

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved USD 503-million lining project of the Son canal in Shahabad-Bhojpur region of Bihar. This project will bring immense benefits to the agriculture sector of Shahabad Bhojpur region of Bihar. The estimated cost of this project is USD 503 million out of which USD 352 million is being provided by ADB.

Reduction of tariffs on Chinese imports

India and China have reached an agreement on reduction of tariffs on Chinese imports of Indian medicines, particularly cancer drugs. Both India and China slashed import tariffs of a range of products starting July 1, following the 4th round of negotiations under the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement. The agreement will also usher in great opportunities for India and other countries in the region.

Water level of major reservoir went up 20%

The water storage available in 91 major reservoirs of the country has gone to 20% of their total capacity which was reported 18% in last week. 37 Reservoirs out of these 91 have hydropower benefit with an installed capacity of more than 60 MW. The storage during the current year is less than last year in Northern, Western and Central regions.

Asia’s first patent arbitration centre

1 : Asia’s 1st arbitration centre specialised in intellectual property will open in Tokyo to resolve growing number of disputes in the region. International Arbitration Centre in Tokyo is set to have around a dozen arbitrators from around the world, who would try to resolve disputes within a period of 1 year. IACT is due to handle disputes between non-Japanese companies, if both parties agree.

UNESCO adds 8 pre-Islamic Iranian sites

UNESCO has added 8 pre-Islamic Iranian archeological sites to its World Heritage List. The sites collectively appear on the worldwide list as the “Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars region (Islamic Republic of Iran)”. With the latest addition, Iran now has 24 sites on the heritage list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

Sindhu Darshan Festival begins in Ladakh

The 3-day annual 22nd Sindhu Darshan Festival will be celebrated on the bank of Indus River in Ladakh region of J&K. The Festival organised by Sindhu Darshan Yatra Samiti & will be inaugurated by RSS General Secretary Bhaiya Ji. The programme is focused on national integration, communal harmony, and national pride. It was started by the former Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani in 1997.

Inter-governmental meeting on anti-doping

The 15th annual Asia and Oceania region inter-governmental meeting on Anti-doping begins in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The 2 day meeting would be based on how to ensure compliance with world anti-doping code, support capacity building & also conduct research to prevent athletes falling victims to doping. World Anti – Doping Agency (WADA) is the governing body with its president Sir Craig Reedie.

Regional Road Corporation in Northeast

The northeast is the only region in India for which the Centre has formulated a Regional Road Corporation to boost development. Union Minister Jitendra Singh announced this in a meeting of the Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER). The eight states of the northeast will now receive 100 per cent funding for central schemes.

Two frog species discovered

In a significant discovery, two species of frogs have been recorded in the Indian peninsular — Fejervarya kalinaga from the Eastern Ghats and Fejervarya krishnan from the Western Ghats. The Eastern Ghats species of Fejervarya kalinga attains significance since it is endemic to moist high altitude forest of the region. These new species are habitat specialists.

Mountain ranges discovered beneath Antarctica

Mountain ranges and valleys have been discovered by scientists deep beneath the Western Antarctic ice region. This discovery will contribute to the rising global sea levels. Three valleys were discovered by the researchers linking the two major parts of Antarctica, out of which, one is 217 miles long.

Prominent historian Lewis dead

Bernard Lewis, a preeminent scholar of Middle Eastern history whose work profoundly shaped Western views of the region has passed away. He was a Cold War hawk, a strong pro-Israel Jew, and influential among White House and Pentagon planners of the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq. His prolific scholarship, including more than 30 books traced fault lines that define the modern Middle East.

Train connecting NE to the west coast began

The Northeast Frontier Railway has started operating one lease Parcel Cargo Express Train (PCET) on fortnightly basis, connecting Northeastern part of the country to the West Coast. The route of this Parcel Cargo Express Train is – New Guwahati in Assam to Kalyan in Maharashtra. The PCET has been started in line with the Government’s priority to provide connectivity to the Northeast region.

PM to lay foundation for Zojila tunnel

PM Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone of the Zojila tunnel on 19 May in Jammu and Kashmir. The tunnel is being built to check the growing influence of Pakistan and China in the Ladakh region. The contract for the project has been awarded to IL & FS. Zojila Pass is known as the gateway to Ladakh region and connects Kargil and Leh with Srinagar.

World Migratory Bird Day

The World Migratory Bird Day is a two-day programme observed on the second weekend of the month of May to highlight the urgency to protect migratory birds and their habitats. The theme of the World Migratory Bird Day 2018 is “Unifying our Voices for Bird Conservation”. India sees over 200 species of birds migrate to the country during winters from the Asian and European regions.

India ranks 4th on Asia-Pacific Power Index

India has been ranked fourth out of 25 nations in the Asia-Pacific region on the Lowy Institute Asia Power Index that measures power across 25 countries. India has been pegged as a “Giant of the Future” while Japan has been pegged as a “Smart Power”. India is ranked fourth on the parameters economic resources, military capability, diplomatic influence and fifth on resilience.

Alvarado sworn in as Costa Rican President

Journalist Carlos Alvarado has been sworn in as Costa Rica’s President, accepting the sash of office from his predecessor and ally, Luis Guillermo Solis. At 39, Alvarado is the country’s youngest president in modern history. Although Costa Rica is one of the region’s most stable economies, the Central American nation is struggling to get its deficit under control amidst a Fitch downgrade.

First record of invasive aphid in Kashmir

The brown peach aphid – an insect that attacks temperate fruit trees – has been found in Kashmir Valley for the first time. Aphids feed on the saps of plants, attacking plant tissues that transport food to all different plant parts. The brown peach aphid is a notorious pest of peach and almond trees in the Mediterranean regions.

India, US discuss maritime security

3 : India and the US held their third maritime security dialogue in Goa from 30th April to 1st May. The two sides discussed developments in the maritime domain in the Indo-Pacific Region and exchanged views on ways to further strengthen bilateral maritime security cooperation. They also reviewed the implementation of the decisions taken during the previous Maritime Security Dialogues.

BS-VI fuel to be available by April 1, 2019

1 : The Centre told the Supreme Court that the BS-VI fuel will be made available by April 1, 2019, in 17 out of 23 districts in the National Capital Region. The government also told that BS-VI fuel will also be made available in Agra in Uttar Pradesh on or before April 1, 2019. Delhi has already switched to BS-VI fuel and the cleaner fuel is now available across the petrol pumps in Delhi.

Adilabad Dokra & Warangal Durries get GI tag

Adilabad Dokra, an ancient bell metal craft popular in the tribal regions of Adilabad district in Telangana, and Warangal Durries have been issued the Geographical Indication (GI) Registration Certificate by the GI Registry, Chennai.GI tag can be used as a marketing tool to promote the products in India and abroad. The Dokra craftsmen belong to the Woj community, called Wojaris.

India’s first cashless island

Manipur’s Karang has become the first cashless island of the country.Karang, a remote region was cut-off from the (Bishnupur) district due to insurgency for a long time. Incentives were provided for training towards digital payments and five POS machines were installed on the island. An online channel was launched to create awareness about the digital payments.

India topped the remittances chart for 2017

According to World Bank, India has retained its position as the top remittances receiving country with its diaspora sending about USD 69 billion back home in 2017. Remittances to India picked up sharply by 9.9% to USD 69 billion in 2017, reversing the previous year’s dip. Remittance inflows improved in all regions and top remittance recipients were India with followed by China & Philippines.

India, Afghan held bi-lateral meet on drugs

India & Afghanistan held a dialogue in New Delhi to discuss issues related to illicit drug trafficking & narcotics abuse.The meeting focused on sharing best practices & furthering areas of cooperation in drug crime domain. India is located b/w 2 major narcotics regions – Golden Crescent and Golden Triangle and is vulnerable to transit, trafficking and consumption of opium derivatives.

Siddharth Won Shorenstein Journalism Award

Siddharth Varadarajan, the founding editor of The Wire, has won the Shorenstein Journalism Award.The award, given annually by Stanford University’s Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center.The award honours journalists who have “produced outstanding reporting on Asia and contributed significantly to Western understanding of the region”.

5,000MW solar park to come up in Dholera

Gujarat Government approved setting up a 5000 MW capacity solar park at the Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR), which would be the largest such entity in the world after its completion.The solar power generation project would be set up in 11,000 hectares of land. The project will contribute significantly in achieving the target of producing 175 gigawatts of electricity by 2022.

Patna topped in 4G connectivity

Patna topped in 4G connectivity among 20 of India’s largest cities.It has emerged ahead of the cities like Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, said a report from OpenSignal, a wireless coverage mapping company. Cities from India’s central and eastern regions – Patna, Kanpur, Allahabad, Kolkata, Bhopal & Lucknow – made it to the top 10 while Bengaluru is at 10, followed by Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi.

RH300 sounding rocket launched

7 : The RH300 sounding rocket, developed by Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre as part of a study to enrich available atmospheric data, was launched on 6th April from the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station in Kerala.This was the 21st launch of RH300 sounding rocket. The RH-300 MKII sounding rocket is utilised to study the Equatorial and lower ionosphere regions of the atmosphere.

Jammu gets its first tulip garden

Jammu got its first tulip garden at Sanasar in Ramban district of Jammu region.This is the first tulip garden of Jammu region and second after the tulip garden of Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir. The garden has been set up on half an acre area of land adjacent to the Sanasar lake.

India-Korea Coast Guards to hold exercise

The Indian Coast Guard and the Korea Coast Guard will hold a joint exercise off Chennai on April 5.The joint exercise, named Sahyog – Hyeoblyeog 2018 is part of a proposed establishment of a MoU between the two Coast Guards to improve maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region. The exercise will see Indian Coast Guard ship Shaurya, and a few interceptor boats taking part in it.

First city to roll-out Euro VI fuel

With an aim to combat the rising levels of air pollution in Delhi-NCR region, petrol pumps in the capital have started supplying ultra-clean Bharat Stage VI grade fuel.This move makes New Delhi the first city in the country to switch from BS-IV grade fuels to BS-VI. The major difference in standards between the existing BS-IV and the new BS-VI auto fuel norms is the presence of sulphur.

MEA’s ‘Videsh Aaya Pradesh ke Dwaar’ launched

The External Publicity and Public Diplomacy Division of the External Affairs ministry launched an initiative, ?Videsh Aaya Pradesh ke Dwaar? in Hyderabad. The initiative is part of the enhanced public diplomacy outreach to take the objectives of the foreign policy to the common people. The initiative involves MEA‘s engagement with the regional media based in different cities across India.

Jet Airways makes Guwahati as NE hub

Jet Airways has announced plans to expand its operations in the northeast and make Guwahati its regional gateway of the region. Jet Airways has increased the number of weekly flights between the northeast and the rest of the country to 184. Jet Airways has introduced non-stop services to Aizawl, Jorhat and Silchar.

Coast Guard commissions interceptor boat

The Coast Guard commissioned an interceptor boat, C-437 at Porbandar to strengthen the security umbrella of the Indian West Coast. The boat is provided with advanced navigational and communication equipment which gives it the capability to respond to any maritime situation. The boat would be based at Jakhau under the administrative and operational control of the Commander Coast Guard Region.