APEDA to promote NE products in Bangladesh and Myanmar

The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has taken up a programme for promotion of north eastern products in Bangladesh and Myanmar.

The APEDA, an apex organisation under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, proposes to organise the promotion programme in Bangladesh and Myanmar in association with the High Commission of India in Dhaka and its Embassy in Yangon, an official release said here.

The promotional event in Myanmar is proposed to be held in November and that in Dhaka and Sylhet in Bangladesh in the first week of December, the release said.

The export of APEDA scheduled products to Bangladesh during 2016-17 was of 396.44 million USD.

The major products exported to Bangladesh include rice, vegetables, fruits, wheat, maize, dairy products and pulses.

The export of APEDA scheduled products for Myanmar during 2016-17 was of 24.15 million USD.

The major products exported to Myanmar include rice, maize, cereal preparations, fruits, rice and vegetable seeds. PTI DG PR PR

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Catalonia crisis: Spain moves to suspend autonomy

Spain is planning to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy, as the region’s leader threatens to declare independence. The Spain government would soon meet to activate Article 155 of the constitution, allowing it to take over running of the region.

Article 155 of the constitution, which cemented democratic rule three years after the death of dictator General Francisco Franco in 1975, allows Madrid to impose direct rule in a crisis but it has never been invoked.

Where is Catalonia?

Catalonia is an autonomous community of Spain in the north-east end of the Iberian Peninsula, designated as a nationality by its Statute of Autonomy. It has four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. The capital and largest city is Barcelona, which is the second most populated city in Spain.

Catalonia was historically an autonomous region of the Iberian peninsula, which encompasses Spain and Portugal. However, it was never a disparate part of the region despite having its own language, laws, and customs. The marriage of Petronilia, the Queen of Aragon, and Ramon Berebguer IV, Count of Barcelona in 1150, led to the formation of a dynasty. All regions of the peninsula spanning Aragon and Catalonia were brought under unified rule which lasted until the reign of King Philip V.

The war of Spanish Succession created modern Spain with the defeat of Valencia in 1707, and of Catalonia in 1714. Subsequent sovereigns tried to impose the Spanish language and laws in order to culturally unify the kingdom, but their attempts were abandoned in 1931 when the Generalitat (the national Catalan government) was restored.

Catalan separatism was crushed under the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco who took control of the region, killing 3,500 people and forcing many more into exile. Franco was ousted in 1977 and democracy was restored.
Calls for complete independence continued to grow. In July 2010, the

Constitutional Court in Madrid overruled part of the 2006 autonomy statute, stating that there is no legal basis for recognizing Catalonia as a separate country in the framework of the Spanish nation state.

The economic crisis which has embattled the Spanish economy with rising unemployment and spiraling inflation, only served to amplify separatist sentiments as the wealthy Barcelona region is seen as propping up the poorer provinces.

The Catalan region has long been the industrial heartland of Spain, with textile and shipbuilding, and more recently, finance, services, and technology.

Barcelona has a thriving start-up culture, and plays host to the annual Mobile World Congress, where the bleeding edge of technology is on display.
Catalonia is one of the wealthiest regions of Spain. It accounts for 20.07% of the Spanish GDP. Secession would therefore cost Spain almost a fifth of its economic output, and trigger a row on how to carve up the €836 billion of national debt.

If Catalonia were to secede from Spain, it would have a GDP of $314 billion, according to calculations by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). That would make its economy larger than Singapore and South Africa, and on a par with Israel. Its GDP per capita would be $35,000, which would make the average citizen of the Catalonian state wealthier than his counterparts from South Korea or Italy.

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Israel to join US in quitting UNESCO

Israel has said it will join the US in pulling out of the UN’s cultural organisation UNESCO after US officials cited “anti-Israel bias”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the US decision as “brave and moral”, a statement said.

The agency is known for designating world heritage sites such as Syria’s Palmyra and the US Grand Canyon.

Unesco head Irina Bokova earlier called the US withdrawal a matter of “profound regret”.

Why is the US withdrawing?

The US and UNESCO have actually been at loggerheads since 2011.

The key issue now, as with many US-UN disputes, is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In October 2011, UNESCO admitted the Palestinian territories to the organization as an independent member-state called Palestine. This triggered a US law which cut off American funding for any organization that recognized an independent Palestine. The US had previously paid for 22 percent ($80 million) of UNESCO’s annual budget.

Finally, in 2013, after the US missed several rounds of payments to UNESCO, the organization suspended US voting rights in its core decision-making bodies. So the US hasn’t been a real UNESCO member for a while.


UNESCO is a United Nations organization that helps preserve historical and cultural sites worldwide.

It is a special multi-country agency, formed in 1945 and based in France, that promotes sex education and literacy as well as improving gender equality in countries around the world.

It is also known for its work to preserve cultural and heritage sites such as ancient villages, ruins and temples, and historic sites such as the Great Mosque of Samarra in Iraq, which at one point came under threat of being destroyed by the Islamic State.

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Technical Intern Training Program (TITP)

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the signing of “Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC)” between India and Japan on the “Technical Intern Training Program (TITP)”.

This MoC is expected to be signed during the forthcoming visit of Hon’ble Minister for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship during October 16-18, 2017 at Tokyo.

The Technical Intern Training Program (TITP) is an ambitious program to send Indian technical interns to Japan for on the job training for a period of three to five years. It is expected that the MoC will pave the way for bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the area of skill development.

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First BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise

The Exercise will be conducted by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) as the lead agency from October 10-13, 2017 in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR). At the 17th BIMSTEC Senior Officials Meeting held in Kathmandu, Nepal on February 7, 2017, it was decided that India would organize the first annual Disaster Management Exercise for the region.

The BIMSTEC DMEx-2017 is being conducted in two phases in Delhi and NCR. The main exercise will comprise of Table Top Exercise (TTX), Field Training Exercise (FTX) and After Action Review (AAR) which is scheduled for October 10-13, 2017. Earlier, the first phase comprising a Preparatory Meeting and field visit of the site selected for FTX during the main exercise was held in Delhi NCR on August 8-9, 2017.

Delegates from all seven nations of the ‘Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation’ (BIMSTEC) grouping, – namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand, representatives from Embassies/High Commissions of BIMSTEC nations in Delhi, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), and Senior Officers from the Nodal Ministries will participate in the event.

This Exercise will be a platform for sharing Best Practices on all aspects of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), strengthening regional response and coordination for Disaster Management among the BIMSTEC member countries. The main focus of the BIMSTEC DMEx-2017 will be on testing the region’s preparedness and resilience towards effective activation of inter-Governmental interaction/dialogue/agreements for immediate deployment of regional resources for disaster response. It will help create synergy and synchronize efforts to institutionalize regional cooperation among the member countries. The exercise will help strengthen the effective utilization of the Search & Rescue Teams for Disaster Relief & Emergency Response, including Emergency Rapid Assessment Teams and Management of mass casualties especially in situations involving the breakdown of infrastructure and communication.

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The Union Home Ministry has formed a study group to examine the problems being faced by the people residing near the International Border and the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of regular ceasefire violations by Pakistan. The group will meet people living in the border areas of Jammu & Kashmir, security forces deployed there, district administration officials and local public representatives and submit its report within two months.

Special Secretary in the Home Ministry, Rina Mitra will head the team. The principal secretary (Home) in the Jammu & Kashmir Government, the divisional commissioner of Jammu and the divisional commissioner of Srinagar are members while the joint secretary (J&K) in the Home Ministry is the member-secretary of the group.

The study group will prepare a detailed report of the issues being faced by the public living near IB and LOC and submit its recommendations on the remedial action that needs to be taken to address these issues, said the order. India shares a 3,323 km long border with Pakistan of which 221 km of the IB and 740 km of the LOC fall in Jammu & Kashmir.

There has been a sharp increase in ceasefire violations by Pakistan in recent times. Until August 1, there were 285 violations by Pakistani forces while in 2016, the number was 228 for the entire year, according to Army figures. There were 83 ceasefire violations, one BAT (Border Action Team of Pakistan Army) attack and two infiltration bids from the Pakistani side in June in which 4 people, including 3 jawans, were killed and 12 injured. Eleven people, including 9 soldiers, were killed and 18 injured in violations in July.

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ADB plans to raise lending up to $4 billion to India

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) plans to raise its annual lending to India to a maximum of $4 billion to support the country to accelerate inclusive economic transformation toward upper-middle-income status, as laid out in a new ADB country partnership strategy (CPS) for 2018-2022.

ADB’s programme in India will focus on three main pillars of activity during the 5-year period — boosting economic competitiveness to create more and well-paid jobs, improved access to infrastructure and services, and addressing climate change and improving climate resilience.

The planned lending level, which includes private sector operations, compares with an average of $2.65 billion a year in loans extended in the period 2012-2016.

About ADB:

It is a regional development bank established on 22 August 1966 and is headquartered in the Philippines. It aims to facilitate economic development of countries in Asia. It also aims for an Asia and Pacific free from poverty.


The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly known as the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East) and non-regional developed countries.

Currently, it has 67 members – of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside.


ADB was modelled closely on the World Bank and has a similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with member’s capital subscriptions.


ADB raises funds through bond issues on the world’s capital markets.
ADB also rely on its members’ contributions, retained earnings from its lending operations, and the repayment of loans.

Japan holds the largest proportions of shares at 15.67%. The United States holds 15.56%, China holds 6.47%, India holds 6.36%, and Australia holds 5.81%.

Board of Governors:

It is the highest policy-making body of the bank.
It is composed of one representative from each member state.
The Board of Governors also elects the bank’s President who is the chairperson of the Board of Directors and manages ADB.
The Alternate Board of Governors is nominated by Board of Governors of ADB’s 67 to represent them at the Annual Meeting that meets formally once a year to be held in a member country.


It offers both Hard Loans and Soft loans. The ADB offers “hard” loans from ordinary capital resources (OCR) on commercial terms, and the Asian Development Fund (ADF) affiliated with the ADB extends “soft” loans from special fund resources with concessional conditions.

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Cabinet gives nod for pacts by Exim Bank under BRICS mechanism

The Cabinet approved the signing of interbank local currency credit line agreement and cooperation memorandum relating to credit ratings by Exim Bank with member banks under BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism.

Exim Bank finances facilitate and promote India’s international trade. It provides competitive finance at various stages of the business cycle.

As the agreement and the MoU are umbrella pacts and non-binding in nature, the Board of Directors of Exim Bank has been authorised to negotiate and conclude any individual contracts and commitments within their framework.

The initial Master Agreement on Extending Credit Facility in Local Currency under the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism had a validity of five years, which expired in March 2017.

“It is understood that some of the member banks (like CDB and VEB; CDB and BNDES) have entered into bilateral agreements for local currency financing under the Master Agreement signed in 2012.

It further said although the current conditions are not conducive to usage, it was useful to keep the same alive as an enabling feature in case a suitable opportunity materialises in future.

Exim Bank raises resources in the offshore market in diverse currencies and swaps to mitigate the risk.

The umbrella agreement would serve as an enabler to enter into bilateral agreements with member banks.

Cooperation Memorandum Relating to Credit Ratings would enable sharing of credit ratings amongst the BRICS member banks, based on the request received from another bank.

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India ranks 40th in Global Competitiveness Index, 3rd among BRICS nations

According to a World Economic Forum report, India is ranked 40th among 137 economies on the Global Competitiveness Index.

Switzerland, United States, and Singapore continue to be the world’s top three competitive economies, while China (27th) and Russia (38th) outshine India among the BRICS group of large emerging markets.

According to the WEF report, India is 3rd among the BRICS countries on the Global Competitiveness Index.

The WEF report highlights that India, which remains the top-ranked economy in South Asia, has significantly improved in infrastructure, higher education, and labour market efficiency.

While India has been placed at the 40th spot, it is one position lower than last year. However, media reports quoted the WEF as saying that though India’s ranking is one lower than last year’s, the two rankings cannot be compared because of a change in the methodology.

The GCI report, which measures the factors that are crucial to future productivity and prosperity of countries, highlights how 10 years after the 2008 global crisis the financial sector is still vulnerable and unprepared for the next wave of innovation and automation.

The WEF report comes at a time when India is trying hard to improve the 2017-18 ranking in the World Bank’s ease of doing the business survey.

It is to be noted that the GCI scores are calculated on the basis of 12 categories called ‘pillars of competitiveness’, which include parameters like institutions, infrastructure, health and primary education, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness and market size.

Among the BRICS, China and Russia (38) are placed above India. South Africa and Brazil are placed at 61st and 80th spots, respectively.

In South Asia, India has garnered the highest ranking, followed by Bhutan (85th rank), Sri Lanka (85), Nepal (88), Bangladesh (99) and Pakistan (115).

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Pakistan, Russia hold joint military drill

Pakistan and Russia are holding a two-week long military exercise focusing on counter-terrorism operations to enhance defence ties between the two countries, ahead of Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s visit to Moscow next month.

The joint exercise DRUZBA 2017 between special forces of Pakistan and Russia Armies started in Minralney Vody, Russia.

The opening ceremony was attended by senior military officials of special forces of both countries, the Pakistan army said in a statement.

The joint exercise will focus on counter-terrorism operations, hostage and rescue, cordon and search operation.

The joint exercise will enhance and further strengthen military ties between the two countries and share Pakistan Army’s experience in war against terrorism,

Pakistan’s ties with Russia have moved past the bitter Cold War hostilities in recent years and the chill in the relations between Pakistan and the US, especially after President Donald Trump warned Islamabad for providing safe havens to terrorists, has further pushed the country towards Russia and China.

Last year, Russia held its first-ever military exercises with Pakistan and also started selling weapons to Islamabad.

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