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[Current Affairs] India and the World - January 2013

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Commerce, Industry and Textiles Minister Anand Sharma – on a two day visit to Mauritius:
The Commerce, Industry and Textiles Minister Anand Sharma, who is on a two day visit to Mauritius, had a meeting with the Honourable Navinchandra Ramgoolam, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius on 9 January, at Port Louis. Mr.Sharma informed the Prime Minister of Mauritius that there was a need for deepening and diversifying trade and investment ties between the two countries. Towards this end, he stressed upon the need for making the Mauritius India Business Council (MIBC) a robust institutional mechanism for giving a boost to trade and investment ties by identifying the priority sectors and sectors of engagement. The identified sectors can be tourism, infrastructure, manufacturing and light engineering, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, health and life sciences, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and textiles. It was agreed that a Joint Working Group on trade and investment would meet before April, 2013 to work out the modalities for broadening and deepening the economic engagement between the two countries


India-Kazakhstan Sign Inter-Government Protocol
The 10th meeting of the India-Kazakhstan Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological, Industrial and Cultural was held during 8-9 January 2013 in New Delhi. Dr. M. Veerappa Moily, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, led the delegation from India. The Kazakh side at the IGC meeting was led by Mr. Bulat Akchulakov, Vice Minister of Oil and Gas, Republic of Kazakhstan. The two Ministers signed IGC Protocol after conclusion of the India-Kazakhstan IGC meeting. The two sides reviewed progress with regard to various decisions taken at the 9th Inter-Governmental Commission meeting held in Astana on 12th October 2011. Both the sides agreed that the current level of bilateral trade is not commensurate with the potential existing between the two countries and called for conscious efforts to increase Indo-Kazakh trade through the Joint Working Group on Trade and Economic Cooperation and the India Kazakh Joint Business Council. The meeting of the Joint Working Group on cooperation in hydrocarbon sector was held along with the IGC meeting. The next meeting of the Joint Working Group will be held in Kazakhstan. Both sides also agreed that tourism provides the opportunity to strengthen the links between the two countries at human and cultural level. Both sides agreed that the 11th meeting of the IGC will be held in Astana, Kazakhstan.


11th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas
11 Pravasi Bhartiya Divas was held at Kochi (Kerala) from 7 jan to 9 jan 2013. 
Around 2000 representatives partook in the eleventh PBD-2013. 
President of Mauritius, Rajkeshwur Purryag, was the Chief Guest. 
The subject of the occasion was "Engaging Diaspora-the Indian Growth Story" 
On this event a stamp was discharged by the Prime Minister to celebrate the century year of the Ghadar development. 
Pm discharged the OIFC handbook 'India Support" and MOIA handbook on travelers. 


British Minister Calls on Dr. Ashwani Kumar 
United Kingdom’s Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Lord Green called on Dr. Ashwani Kumar, Union Minister of Law and Justice and discussed various issues of mutual interest. Lord Green is on a preparatory mission for the forthcoming visit of United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron. During the hour long meeting the two leaders discussed ways and means for enhancing the Indo-UK business relationship; streamlining of the visa regime for Indians in the UK; greater cooperation in the fields of science, health and education. The possibilities of opening up of legal service sector between the two countries also came in for discussion. Dr. Ashwani Kumar informed Lord Green that India attaches great importance to the unique and historical relationship between the two countries and that the Government of India remains committed to carrying forward the process of economic reforms and to establish an overall atmosphere in the country conducive to foreign investment. 
Dr. Kumar informed the British Minister that Indian legal and regulatory regime is intended to be purposive and effective without being oppressive and self-defeating. He informed the British Minister about the various initiatives underway towards legal and judicial reforms in the country to strengthen the foundation of rule of law to which India remains fully committed. 
Also recommended For You January 2013 National Current affairs
India and Bangladesh - to speed up its rail link projects
India and Bangladesh decided in the third week of January 2013, to speed up its rail link projects in order to increase the contact among the people of two neighboring nations. As of now, there are four ongoing rail link projects and these are Chilahati (Bangladesh)-Haldibari (India), Birol (Bangladesh)-Radhikapur (India), Akhaura (Bangladesh)-Agartala (India) and Shahbazpur (Bangladesh)- Mahishashan (India). The senior railway officials from the two countries decided in the joint meeting to also examine feasibility of establishment of rail link between Feni (Bangladesh) and Belonia (India). Railway delegations from India and Bangladesh discussed about the operational, technical as well as financial matters as well. Discussions on reforming inter-country freight train operations, improving functioning of Maitree Express, upgrading the infrastructure as well as establishment of even more rail connectivity points, were held. Delegations from India and Bangladesh also agreed in the meanwhile to increase frequency of the Maitree Express as well as introduction of the system of return tickets. Working group which includes government officials from India and Bangladesh were formed in order to check the range of issues such as operational, financial, commercial as well as security of the Maitree Express.


India, Vietnam signed MoU to Strengthen Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises
India and Vietnam on 15 January 2013 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which is directly meant for building capacity and developing institutional framework and identifying thrust areas and opportunities for micro, small and medium enterprises in Vietnam.
The MoU was signed during the 4 day state visit of Vice President Hamid Ansari to Vietnam.

Significance of the MoU: 
• The MoU signed would be focusing on building capacity for developing policy and institutional framework through exchange of experts for the development of MSMEs, and conducting industrial surveys and feasibility studies to identify thrust areas and opportunities for development of MSMEs in Vietnam.
• It ideates the promotion of partnership projects and institutional cooperation between the two countries, organising exhibitions and trade fairs for marketing the products of MSMEs, exchange of business missions to initiate transfer of technology and business alliance, and providing training for improvement of managerial and technical skills for MSMEs.

The MoU is part of India’s efforts to further strengthen economic ties with Vietnam. The two countries have set a trade and investment target of 7 billion dollars by 2015.
A Joint Committee comprising representatives from the Ministry of Planning and Investment (Vietnam) and Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (India) is going to monitor the implementation of the MoU.

Proposal of Mr. Foumakore Gado, Minister of Energy & Petroleum of Niger
Smt. Panabaka Lakshmi, Minister of State for Petroleum & Natural Gas on 22 January, has said that India will soon send a delegation of experts to Niger for exploring possibilities of cooperation between two countries in the hydrocarbon sector. Responding to the proposal of her counterpart Mr. Foumakore Gado, Minister of Energy & Petroleum of Niger, at a meeting in New Delhi, Smt Lakshmi said Indian companies are interested to choose exploration blocks and invest in the oil Marketing infrastructure of the country. She also offered to provide training by PSUs like ONGC, GAIL, IOC to the Niger’s hydrocarbon sector personnel. Mr. Gado invited Indian delegation of experts in the oil & gas sector to provide them technical expertise in the hydrocarbon value chain. He welcomed Indian companies to invest in exploration blocks and other oil & gas sector activities. Mr. Foumakore Gado led a high level delegation of Niger at the meeting, which included Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Transport and chairman & Finance Commission of Niger.


India and Myanmar should Work together to Address Common Concerns 
Defence Minister Shri AK Antony on Jan 22, called on the President of Myanmar U Thein Sein in NayPyiTaw. Shri Antony conveyed the importance placed by India on enhancement of bilateral ties in all fields, including defence. He noted that the recent exchanges of visits between both countries at political and other levels had imparted a new momentum to the bilateral relationship. In the case of defence in particular, the defence minister noted that the two sides were working to consolidate ties, in mutual interest of both. He informed that the visit of all three Service Chiefs of India to Myanmar in the last 18 months reflected the desire of the Indian government to strengthen ties. These visits and other exchanges in the recent times had provided each side a better understanding of mutual concerns, needs and strengths. Shri Antony stated that as neighbours which share a land and maritime boundary, both sides should work together to address common concerns. The Myanmar President welcomed the enhancement of bilateral ties between both countries in all fields. He stated that Myanmar can also play the role of a bridge between India and South-East Asia. The President also assured that Myanmar will not allow its territory to be used by anti-India insurgent groups. He welcomed the development of cooperation between the Armed Forces of both sides to deal with challenges along the land and maritime boundaries between both countries. Earlier, Defence Minister met the C-in-C Defence Services of Myanmar Armed Forces Vice Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who also hosted a lunch in his honour. The C-in-C welcomed the enhancement of exchanges and interactions between the Armed Forces of both countries. In particular, he stated that such exchanges would be useful in maintaining stability in border areas. He also looked forward to enhancement of exchanges between the Navies and Air Forces of both countries. 

Shri Antony met the Defence Minister of Myanmar Lt Gen Wai Lwin
on Jan 21, Shri Antony met the Defence Minister of Myanmar Lt Gen Wai Lwin. During these meetings, both sides discussed various issues of mutual interest and also discussed measures to enhance exchanges and cooperation between the Armed Forces of both sides. Enhancement of measures of closer and regular contacts between border forces were also discussed. 

India and Sri Lanka signed Anti-terror, Tax evasion Agreements
On 22nd January  India and Sri Lanka signed two separate agreements on combating international terrorism and avoidance of double taxation, eyeing elevation of  “robust” bilateral ties to building of a special economic partnership.The two key accords were signed after the 8th India-Sri Lanka Joint Commission meeting held at New Delhi , both countries  discussed enhanced cooperation in a range of areas including civil nuclear energy. At the meeting, the Indian side was led by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid while the Lankans were led by his counterpart G.L. Peiris. During the meet, both the parties also decided setting up of the Special Economic Zone at  Trincomali and a textile and pharmaceutical cluster in Sri Lanka.

Union Minister for Tourism held bilateral discussions with Spanish Minister for Industry, Tourism & Trade
Union Minister for Tourism Shri Chiranjeevi held bilateral discussions with Spanish Minister for Industry, Tourism & Trade Mr Jose Manuel Soria Lopez in Madrid on 31 Jan.
Both the countries agreed to set up Indo-Spain Tourism Promotion Forum for building a dialogue between the stakeholders of tourism, travel and hospitality industry of India and Spain. Spanish side showed keen interest to invest in Hotel sector in India which has 100% Foreign Direct Investment. Both sides emphasized on direct air connectivity between India and Spain. A delegation led by Ms. Isabel Maria Barrege Cortes, Secretary of State of Spanish Tourism will visit India shortly to take forward these proposals.New Delhi will be hosting the 1st Joint working group meeting on tourism co-operation between India and Spain in near future.

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