Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Current Affairs 17 March 2014

Indo-China Strategic Economic Dialogue

  • India and China discussed in Beijing counter strategies to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being negotiated by the U.S.
  • Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia lead the Indian delegation to Beijing for the India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED). On the Chinese side, National Development and Reform Commission Chairman Xu Shaoshi lead the dialogue.
  • It was realized that there is a need to preserve the primacy of the development agenda in the global mainstream and in leading economic frameworks like the G20 and the WTO.
  • Indo-China trade was $74 billion in 2011. And it went down to $65 billion in 2013. Both governments have set a $100-billion target by 2015. However, India’s trade deficit with China worsened to $31.5 billion in 2013, according to Chinese data.

Classified Henderson Brooks Report revealed

  • For the first time, a large section of the still classified Henderson Brooks Report, which details a comprehensive operational review of India’s military debacle in 1962, has been made public.
  • A more than 100-page section of the first volume of the report, which includes an exhaustive operational review of the India-China war over both western and eastern sectors, has been published by Australian journalist Neville Maxwell on his website.
  • The now retired Mr. Maxwell was a former correspondent of The Times of London who reported on the war from New Delhi. He authored in 1970 ‘India’s China War’ — a path-breaking, yet controversial, account of the conflict which angered the Indian establishment by drawing upon classified information to highlight the flawed decision-making that led to defeat at the hands of the Chinese.
  • It underlines the deep disconnect between Delhi and Army commands on assessing how China would react to the Forward Policy.

UK’s military presence in Afghanistan reduced

  • The United Kingdom has reduced its military presence in Afghanistan to just two bases in Helmand province, handing over the rest to Afghan control.
  • The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), of which Britain is a member, has committed to withdrawing all combat forces in Afghanistan by December this year.
  • From 137 UK bases, there now remains Camp Bastion, which is the main base for UK personnel, and Observation Post Sterga 2. The majority of the former UK bases are now in the hands of the Afghan National Security Forces.
  • Britain has always maintained that the reason for its military presence in Afghanistan is to keep the UK free from terrorism, although the two main terrorist attacks on British soil – the July 2005 bombings of the London underground, and the killing of soldier Lee Rigby – took place after its Afghanistan intervention.

Eurozone annual inflation

  • Year-on-year inflation in the eurozone slowed to 0.7 per cent in February, compared to 0.8 per cent the previous month, the European Union’s statistics office Eurostat.
  • The figure is a revision from the initial Eurostat estimate that inflation would remain at 0.8 per cent in February, meaning that price growth dropped further-than-expected below the European Central Bank’s target of just under 2 per cent.
  • Year-on-year price growth first slowed to 0.7 per cent — the lowest reading since the creation of the euro in 1999 — in October of last year, prompting the ECB to intervene by lowering its key interest rate to 0.25 per cent the following month.
  • Among the 18 eurozone member states, negative annual rates were observed in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Croatia, Portugal and Slovakia.
  • The highest rates, meanwhile, were recorded in Malta and Finland, where year-on-year inflation stood at 1.6 per cent respectively in February.

Crimea to rejoin Russia

  • Crimea declared independence from Ukraine and applied to rejoin Russia, hours after its residents overwhelmingly supported the historic passage in a referendum .
  • Nearly 97 per cent of voters said “yes” to revert to Russia, from which Crimea had been separated when the Soviet Union broke up just over 20 years ago. A mere 2.5 per cent voted in favour of staying with Ukraine.
  • The turnout was a record-breaking 83 per cent of Crimea’s 1.5 million eligible voters. With ethnic Russians constituting 58 per cent of the region’s population, the vote results indicate that many ethnic Ukrainians, who account for nearly a quarter of Crimeans, voted for reunification with Russia.
  • The U.S. and the European Union imposed sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian officials blamed for Moscow’s intervention in Crimea. Washington ordered a travel ban and asset freezes on 11 officials, including Ukraine’s ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and Speaker of the Russian Parliament’s upper house Valentina Matvienko and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. The E.U. sanctions list includes 21 names.
  • Meanwhile, Russians overwhelmingly support Crimea’s reunification with Russia. A poll conducted last week 86 per cent of respondents said that they considered Crimea as a part of Russia.

Pakistan’s second Aam Aadmi Party

  • For the second time, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party has found an echo in Pakistan. First it was Arsalan ul Mulk from Gujranwala whose Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was registered by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and now it is a former foreign services officer and lawyer Adnan Randhawa, 34, who wants to follow in Mr. Kejriwal’s footsteps.
  • Mr. Randhawa applied to the ECP for a formal registration for his Aam Aadmi of Pakistan Party (AAPP). He was formerly with the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI), a party which has often been likened to the AAP in India.

Indian Wells title

  • Novak Djokovic came into Indian Wells for the first time in four years without a title.
  • Federer rallied from a break down and a 5-3 deficit in the third set to force the tiebreaker, but he made a slew of mistakes to lose the 33rd meeting between the rivals.
  • Federer still leads the series 17-16, having beaten Djokovic in three sets in the semifinals at Dubai two weeks ago. Djokovic will remain No. 2 in the world, while Federer will rise three spots to No. 5 in the ATP Tour rankings.
  • Federer was trying to win a record fifth title in the Southern California desert, and at 32, he would have been the oldest Masters 1000 winner since 34—year—old Andre Agassi won at Cincinnati in 2004.

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