India & World Current Affairs of February 2016
India and Pakistan Exchanged List of Nuclear Facilities
1) India and Pakistan exchanged the list of their nuclear installations on December 31, 2015 under a bilateral agreement that bars them from attacking each other’s atomic facilities. This is the 24th consecutive exchange of such list between the two countries.
2) The agreement was signed on December 31, 1988 and entered into force on January 27, 1991. It was signed by the then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his Pakistani counterpart Benazir Bhutto.
3) The agreement says that the two countries inform each other of nuclear installations and facilities to be covered under the Agreement on January 1 every year. The two countries also exchanged the lists of prisoners under the Consular Access Agreement between the two nations.
Fifth ‘Heart of Asia’ Conference Held
1) A regional conference,- with focus on Afghanistan held at Islamabad (Pakistan) on December 8, 2015, where External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj represented India at the ministerial-level meeting.
2) The fifth ‘Heart of Asia’ conference, an annual gathering of Asian and other countries. The high-ranking delegations from 14 participating states, 17 supporting countries and 12 international and regional organisations are participating in the two-day conference.
3) The theme of the meeting, jointly hosted by Pakistan and Afghanistan, is “Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process : Enhanced cooperation for countering security threats and promoting connectivity in the Heart of Asia region”.
4) Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the UAE are part of the initiative launched in 2011 for encouraging economic and security cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours for dealing with the common problems of terrorism, extremism and poverty.
India Asked Iran to Expedite Procedures of Farzad-B Gas Field
1) India emphasised to Iran the need for early’ completion of all necessary procedures for its participation in the $ 5 billion • Farzad-B gas field on December 28, 2015 in a Joint Commission Meeting co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Iranian Minister for Economic Affairs and Finance Ali Taiebnia.
2) Both the countries also reviewed the progress in trade and economic cooperation and a number of related matters, and discussed the possibilities in cooperation in Railways besides discussing possibilities of cooperation in railways sector, including in supply of rails, rolling stocks, signalling and other works.
3) The External Affairs Minister emphasised the need for early completion of all necessary procedures for India’s participation in Farzad-B field and pointed out India’s desire to participate in other oil and gas explorations in Iran as well.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Inaugurated New Parliament Building of Afghanistan
1) Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani inaugurated the newly-built Afghan parliament building in Kabul on December 25, 2015. It is through the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first official visit to Afghanistan after becoming Prime Minister.
2) Afghanistan Parliament building was constructed by India at a cost of $ 90 million as a symbol of India’s support to Afghanistan’s democracy and civil reconstruction. The construction of Parliament building was started in 2009.
3) Prime Minister Modi handed over 4 Mi-25 attack helicopters to Afghanistan Air Force symbolizing a shift in India’s position on supplying ‘offensive’ equipment. The inauguration day was special as it was former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birthday, and Prime Minister Modi was named a block in the new building as Atal Block.
India and Russia Inked 16 Pacts
1) Prime Minister Narendra Modi made two days official visit to Russia in December, 2015. In a major push to their strategic ties India and Russia on December 24, 2015 decided to expand cooperation in various sectors and they signed 16 pacts.
2) Sharing concern over terrorism, the two sides pressed for joint fight against the global menace ‘without selectivity and double standards’ and a joint statement issued after the talks between the two leaders in Moscow.
3) An agreement signed on manufacture of Kamov 226 helicopter in India, which is the,first project for| a major defence platform under ‘Make-in-lndia’ programme and construction of 12 atomic plants. with involvement of local companies in India.
4) Unit-ll of Kudankulam atomic plant in Tamil NaduJ being built by Russia, will be commissioned within! weeks and negotiations are at an advanced staged for Unit III and IV. Russia conveyed strong ] support to India’s bid for permanent membership of the UNSC.
5) There were also Memorandum of Understandir (MoU) signed on technical cooperation in railway; sector and MoU for construction of solar energy’ plants in India that was signed between Solar Energy Corporation of India and Russian Energy Agency regarding.
6) There were also MoU signed for Cooperation for geologic survey, exploration and production of hydrocarbons onshore and on the continental shelf of the Russian Federation.
Seychelles Committed to Indian Naval Base
7) A plot of land for India to build its first naval base in the Indian Ocean region has been allocated by the Seychelles government in the Assumption Island. It is a joint project between India and Seychelles involving the two Defence Forces in enhancing the mutual security along the Western seaboard.