Current Affairs Book For IAS Pre 2011 By S.A. Majid
Belgium ban veils in public
- Belgium has moved to the forefront of a campaign to restrict the wearing
of the Muslim veil by women when a key vote left it on track to become the
first European country to ban the burqa and niqab in public.
Mekong basin countries have fears over China’s projects
- China’s dam-building spree along the Mekong river in south-western
Yunnan province has raised fears among several of its neighbours, who say
the dams have led to shrinking levels of water downstream.
- Officials from Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, countries which lie
in the Mekong basin, voice their concerns over eight dams that China is
building along the Mekong, in talks with Chinese officials in Thailand.
- The four countries in 1995 set up the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to
facilitate joint management and water-sharing in the Mekong region, though
China and Myanmar have so far refused to formally join the body. The Mekong
runs almost half of its 4,400 km course in China’s south-west, where it is
known as the Lancang, before entering Myanmar and Laos.
- The MRC’s concerns closely echo those voiced by India in the past over
China’s plans to build dams along the Brahmaputra, or the Yarlung Tsangpo as
it is known in Tibet.
- An estimated 60 million people depend on the Mekong river in the five
countries that lie downstream. China has already built three dams in Yunnan.
Five more are in the works, including the massive $4-billion Xiaowan dam,
scheduled to open in 2012, which is the world’s highest dam. (Locate in
Russia offered nuclear help to Venezuela
- Russia has agreed to help Venezuela draw up plans for a nuclear power
plant, said President Hugo Chavez
- Russia and Venezuela also launched a joint business to tap vast oil
deposits in eastern Venezuela, and Mr. Chavez said Moscow has offered to
help Venezuela set up its own space industry including a satellite launch
- Mr. Putin also pledged to keep selling arms to Venezuela. Mr. Chavez’s
government has already bought more than $4 billion in Russian weapons since
2005, including helicopters, fighter jets and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles.
Anti Government Protest in Bangkok
- Amid the escalating anti-government protest in Bangkok, an official
spokesman said “massive disruption of traffic and road blockages may not be
considered a peaceful demonstration as permissible under Constitution”.
- The protesters, whose numbers have varied from 60,000 to 1,00,000 in
most unofficial estimates, have been demanding genuine democracy and arguing
that Mr. Abhisit, portrayed as a proxy of the military bloc, had come to
power without a popular mandate.
- The protest is being encouraged by the former Prime Minister, Thaksin
Shinawatra, now a fugitive abroad, through exhortations over video links
from his bases in self-imposed exile.
- He was overthrown in a bloodless military coup in 2006, and Thailand has
experienced varying degrees of political crisis since then.
United States Pledged to not use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear
- The United States administration pledged to not use nuclear weapons
against any non-nuclear State that complied with the nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), as per the latest Nuclear Posture Review
- Announcing some of the key results of the “first unclassified NPR in its
totality” at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates said, “If a
non-nuclear State is in compliance with the NPT and its obligations, the
U.S. pledges not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against it.”
Obama and Medvedev sign nuclear arms pact
- Presidents Barack Obama of the United States and Dmitry Medvedev of
Russia signed a Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty which will reduce their
nuclear weapons stockpiles by a third of their present stock piles.
- The START deal, which will last for 10 years, was signed at a meeting in
Prague, where Mr. Obama outlined his vision for nuclear disarmament and
non-proliferation about a year ago.
- The agreement succeeds the 1991 START, which expired in December. It
will have to be ratified by the U.S. Senate and the Russian Parliament.
- The new treaty limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550
— about a third less than the 2,200 currently allowed. It also mandates a
combined limit of 800 deployed and non-deployed Inter-Continental Ballistic
Missile launchers, Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile launchers and heavy
bombers equipped for nuclear armaments; and a separate limit of 700 deployed
ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear
- The warhead limit itself is 74 per cent lower than the limit of the 1991
treaty and 30 per cent lower than the deployed strategic warhead limit of
the 2002 Moscow Treaty, a White House statement added.
Nepal government’s decision to issue Machine Readable Passports produced
in India has sparked a controversy
- The Supreme Court of Nepal has asked the government not to implement the
deal with the Indian company until April 12 as two petitions have been filed
against the decision. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sujata
Koirala, whose ministry made the agreement with India, has been asked for
clarification by the Public Accounts Committee of the Legislature
Parliament. Even the Prime Minister has been asked to clarify on giving the
contract to India without announcing a tender.
- Among other things, the rate to which Security Printing and Minting
Corporation of India Limited has agreed — $4 a copy — has been controversial
as other companies are reportedly offering lower rates.
Russia supports new Kyrgyz regime
- Russia has signalled support for the interim coalition government formed
in Kyrgyzstan in the wake of two days of large-scale riots that left 75
- Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promised help and support to interim
government head Roza Otunbayeva in a phone call.
Pakistan National Assembly of Pakistan passes 18th Amendment Bill
- The National Assembly passed the 18th Amendment Bill that seeks to bring
back the 1973 Constitution by removing the distortions that had shorn it of
its democratic components over the past 37 years.
- The Bill — which proposes 102 amendments to the Constitution — was
passed by a two-thirds majority after the House rejected the amendments
moved by some members on the abolition of the concurrent list, renaming the
North West Frontier Province (NWFP), and removal of the provision for
- Rajapaksa-led ruling alliance has recorded an emphatic victory in the
- President Mahinda Rajapaksa-led ruling alliance in Sri Lanka, the United
People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), has recorded an emphatic victory in the
- Of the results of 180 seats declared so far, the alliance has won in 120
- The outcome of the elections to the 225-member House shows that there is
no change in the public mood since the January 26 Presidential election in
which Mr. Rajapaksa secured a second tenure by nearly 18 percentage points
over the candidate backed by the entire Opposition.
Russia has launched the construction of a new gas pipeline to Europe
- Russia has launched the construction of a new gas pipeline to Europe
that will strengthen its dominant positions in the European energy markets.
- The $12-billion Nord Stream pipeline would carry up to 55 billion cubic
metres (bcm) of gas a year from Siberian gas fields 900 km over land and
1,200 km under the Baltic Sea from Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald in
- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who flagged off the seabed
construction, said the new pipeline would ensure stable Russian gas supplies
to Europe and help avoid transit problems.
- Russia supplies about 150 bcm of gas to Europe, meeting a quarter of its
needs. The new pipeline will give Russia a stronger hold over Europe’s
energy supplies and reduce dependence on the transit countries, Ukraine and
Belarus. Russia’s Gazprom monopoly has teamed up with Germany’s BASF, E.ON
and Dutch Gasunie to build the pipeline. (Locate In Atlas)
Sudan gears up for its first multi party Election
- Sudan geared up for its first multi-party elections in 24 years, with a
16-million-strong electorate eligible to vote for President, MPs and local
Polish President killed in plane crash in Russia
- Polish President Lech Kaczynski and a high-level delegation were killed
when a plane carrying 97 people crashed in thick fog as it was approaching a
Russian airport .
- Minutes earlier, the control tower redirected a Russian IL-76 transport
aircraft from Smolensk to another airport. But the Polish pilot insisted on
landing in Smolensk.
- Mr. Kaczynski, 60, was on his way to a memorial service at Katyn, near
Smolensk, where Polish army officers were executed on the orders of Soviet
dictator Joseph Stalin 70 years ago during World War Two. (Locate In Atlas)
First Arctic by balloon crossing
- A French explorer’s team says he has made the first Arctic crossing by
balloon, landing in the tundra of eastern Siberia five days after taking off
- Jean-Louis Etienne travelled 3,130 km in his special balloon, sailing
over the Arctic Circle.
- In 1986, he became the first person to reach the North Pole alone.
Obama warns of threat from nuclear terrorism
- Kicking off the first plenary session on the second day of the Nuclear
Security Summit, in Washington U.S. President Barack Obama underscored the
gravity of the threat of nuclear terrorism, arguing that “just the smallest
amount of plutonium, about the size of an apple, could kill and injure
hundreds of thousands of innocent people ... Terrorist networks such as al
Qaeda have tried to acquire the material for a nuclear weapon.”
- Assuring the delegates of the 47 attending countries that Al-Qaeda would
surely use nuclear materials as a weapon if they ever succeeded in obtaining
Three-km scar on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef
- A Chinese coal carrier that ran aground and leaked oil on Australia’s
Great Barrier Reef cut a three-kilometre-long scar into the shoal and may
have smeared paint that will prevent marine life from growing back, the
reef’s chief scientist said.
- Even if severe toxic contamination was not found at the site, initial
assessments by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority indicate it
could take 20 years for the world’s largest coral reef to recover, said
scientist David Wachenfeld.
- The 230-metre Shen Neng 1 ground into large parts of the shoal, leaving
a scar three km long and up to 250 metres wide. (Locate In Atlas)
Volcano erupts again in Iceland
- A volcano under a glacier in Iceland rumbled back to life, melting ice,
shooting smoke and steam into the air and forcing hundreds of people to
leave their homes.
- Emergency officials evacuated 800 residents from around the
Eyjafjallajokull glacier as rivers rose by up to three metres and flooded a
sparsely populated area,
- The volcano, 120 km east of Reykjavik, erupted March 20 after almost 200
years of silence..The last time there was an eruption near the 160-square-km
Eyjafjallajokull glacier was in 1821.
- A bigger worry is the nearby and much larger Katla volcano, which in the
past has erupted in tandem with Eyjafjallajokull. Katla is located under the
vast Myrdalsjokull ice cap
- Airports across Britain looked like ghost towns as, in an unprecedented
move, British airspace was completely sealed and not a single flight was
allowed either to take off or land anywhere, including military airstrips,
because of safety fears after a volcanic eruption in Iceland set off a
massive cloud of ash drifting towards the U.K. (Locate In Atlas)
Plutonium reactor was shutdown by Russia
- Russia shut its last weapons-grade plutonium reactor in line with a
pledge President Dmitry Medvedev made at the U.S. nuclear safety summit in
Washington earlier this week.
- The ADE-2 reactor near the Siberian town of Zheleznogorsk was started in
1964 and holds the world record as the longest operating plutonium reactor.
- It was also the last remaining weapons-grade plutonium reactor in the
- Two other reactors at the Mining and Chemical Combine in Zhelezgogorsk
were decommissioned in 1992, as Russia no longer needed to produce
weapons-grade plutonium following the end of the Cold War.
“Yellow Shirts” warn ‘Reds shirts’ in Thailand
- Thailand’s elite-backed “Yellow Shirts” vowed to take action if the
government fails to deal with red-clad protesters within a week, raising
fears of clashes. The “Red Shirts”, who mainly support ex-Premier Thaksin
Shinawatra, have occupied the capital for over a month with their
anti-government campaign, which led to clashes with security forces last
weekend leaving 25 people dead.
- Thailand is largely split between the poor and rural Reds and the
pro-establishment Yellows, who hit the streets ahead of a 2006 coup that
ousted their enemy Thaksin and again to see off his allies in 2008. The
Yellows had remained largely silent since the Reds began mass rallies in
mid-March demanding immediate elections, but they held a meeting of 3,000 to
5,000 supporters to discuss a response to the crisis.
PRE 2011 - Current Affairs
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Current Affairs Book For IAS Pre 2011 By S.A. Majid
Stage set for Cancun on climate change
- The Major Economies Forum, a platform for ministerial discussions on
energy and climate issues, wrapped up in Washington after two days of
meetings focussing on preparing for the summit on climate change in Cancun
in November 2010.
- The Forum was chaired by National Security Advisor for International
Economic Affairs Michael Froman and led on the United States side by Todd
Stern, Special Envoy for climate.
- The 17 major-economy members of the Forum are: Australia, Brazil,
Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy,
Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, UK. and the U.S.
G 20 Nation Meet in U.S. to discuss job crisis
- Labour and Employment Ministers of the G-20 nations will meet in
Washington to assess how the global economic crisis has affected employment,
according to the United States Department of Labour (DoL).
- It said the G20 nations accounted for 85 per cent of the economy and
more than two thirds of the world’s population. This meeting was therefore
an “unprecedented opportunity to tackle one of the worst legacies of the
global economic crisis: the loss of millions of jobs”.
- The DoL said while a few economic vital signs were improving, global
unemployment has surged by 34 million, reaching a record 212 million in
2009. Even where economies were growing, unemployment remained high and was
likely to rise.
- The 2009 G20 Summit was held in Pittsburgh.
Iran began a major three-day military exercise in Persian Gulf waters
- Iran began a major three-day military exercise in Persian Gulf waters
but preceded the manoeuvres by offering an olive branch to neighbouring Arab
countries, many of whom are close American allies.
- Iran invited “several regional countries” to participate in the military
exercises in the future.
- The exercise code-named Payambar-e Azam 5 (The Great Prophet 5), in
which all three services are participating, is aimed at preserving the
security of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, as the world’s key
economic and energy routes.
- The indigenously built sonar-evading vessel, Ya Mahdi, participated in
the drill. The Ya Mahdi vessels are apparently remote-controlled and can
launch high-intensity rockets.
- More than 300 vessels are participating in the major exercise, which
coincides with the thirty-first anniversary of the Islamic Revolution Guards
France determined to ban the burqa
- Despite a negative opinion given by France’s highest administrative
court, the Conseil d’etat, to the effect that banning the burqa, the niqab
or other full facial covering would violate the Constitution, the French
government is determined to push ahead with legislation outlawing the
Ukraine extends naval base lease to Russia
- Ukraine has agreed to extend the Russian lease of the biggest naval base
in the Black Sea by 25 years in a move that is bound to consolidate Russia’s
strategic hold on the region.
- A breakthrough agreement to extend the stay of the Russian Navy in
Sevastopol till 2042, with a possible five-year extension, was signed by
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych
during their meeting in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.
- Under the current agreement, signed in 1997, the Russian lease of the
former Soviet base expires in 2017. Russia pays an annual rent of nearly $90
million for the base. Ukraine’s former President Viktor Yushchenko had
fought hard to evict the Russian Navy from the base even before the expiry
deadline, as its presence on Ukrainian territory was an obstacle to his plan
to join NATO.
- Mr. Yanukovich, who won the presidential elections earlier this year,
ruled out Ukraine’s NATO membership and moved to improve relations with
- Moscow in return has agreed to supply its natural gas to Ukraine at a
30-per cent discount, which will add up to $40 billion over the next decade.
This money will be used to pay for the Russian lease of the Sevastopol base.
- The Russian-Ukrainian naval base agreement is a setback to U.S. efforts
to establish control of the Black Sea, which is a gateway to Russia and the
- During the five-day war with Georgia in 2008, Russian warships based in
Sevastopol sank a Georgian missile gunboat and played a key role in ferrying
marines and weapons to the war zone. (Locate In Atlas)
S. Korean warship cheonan sank in yellow sea
- First inspections of the bow of a South Korean warship show it was hit
by an outside impact of considerable force, a military official said, as
suspicion increasingly falls on North Korea. The Cheonan sank and was split
in half after a mystery blast on March 26 close to the disputed border of
the two Koreas, leaving 40 sailors confirmed dead and six others still
- Seoul has been careful not to point the finger directly at the North
over the incident in the Yellow Sea, which has stoked already tense ties,
and Pyongyang has denied it was to blame.
- The disputed Yellow Sea border was the scene of deadly naval clashes
between the North and South in 1999 and 2002 and of a fire-fight last
November that left a North Korean patrol boat in flames. (Locate In Atlas)
Cyber-racism summit held in Australia
- Leaders from the anti-discrimination and Internet communities will join
forces to tackle online racism in Australia.
- The Australian Human Rights Commission said instances of cyber-racism,
which included racist websites, images, blogs, videos and comments on
website forums, were on the rise.
- In a bid to solve the problem, the commission has teamed up with the
Internet Industry Association to co-host the summit.
Chinese will export reactor to Pakistan reactor deal
- China’s biggest operator of nuclear power plants has confirmed that it
will export two 340 MW nuclear power reactors to Pakistan in a
$2.375-billion agreement, in a controversial deal that analysts say goes
against internationally-mandated guidelines governing the transfer of
- The China National Nuclear Corporation, which has already set up two
civilian nuclear power reactors in Pakistan, has now signed construction
contracts to build two more.
- The two governments had in principle agreed on the deal during President
Hu Jintao’s visit to Islamabad in 2006. But they are yet to publicly
formalise the deal.
- The CNNC has already agreed to build two power reactors in Pakistan, the
325 MW Chashma-1, which started operating in 2000, and Chashma-2, which will
be completed next year. The statement said the two new reactors are “2x340
MW”. “Chashma-2 will be a benchmark for C-3 and C-4 projects,”
- The deal goes against the guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG),
of which China has been a member since 2004. The NSG does not allow the sale
of nuclear equipment to countries that have not signed the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty and do not have a Comprehensive Safeguards
Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
- When India signed the civilian nuclear agreement with the United States,
this requirement was waived.
Greece vows deeper defence cuts
- Greece’s Defence Minister promised “colossal” cuts in military operating
costs to help the debt-ridden country emerge from its financial crisis and
speed up plans to modernise the armed forces.
- Greece remains at odds with neighbour and NATO ally Turkey over the
divided island of Cyprus and boundaries in the Aegean Sea but has improved
ties over the past decade.
- Athens is currently in talks with the European Union and IMF for a
rescue package worth €45 billion ($60 billion) this year, and more for the
following two years, to cope with its acute financing crisis that has
brought it to the brink of default. (Locate In Atlas)
- Oil leak in Gulf of Maxico more than eared
- A BP executive agreed with a U.S. government estimate that the oil leak
in the Gulf of Mexico could be pumping up to 5,000 barrels a day of crude
into the ocean, far more than previously thought.
- British energy giant BP, which leases the rig and has been leading the
response to the disaster along with the U.S. Coast Guard, had earlier said
they believed the flow of oil at 1,000 barrels, or 42,000 gallons, a day.
(Locate In Atlas)
Canada’s assurance on separatism
- Canada has said it takes “very seriously” the concerns raised by India
about rising activities of Sikh separatists affiliated to the Khalistan
movement in the country.
- Describing the Kanishka bombing as a terrible tragedy and the worst
terrorist incident in Canadian history, Mr. MacDougall said: “It is a
reminder to all Canadians that we are not immune to the threat of
- The government looks forward to the final report of Justice Major’s
Commission of Inquiry into the Investigation of the Bombing of Air India
- “Its findings and recommendations of Justice John Major Commission
should assist our continuing efforts to protect Canadians from terrorist
China’s soft power on show in shanghai Expo
- The buildings along the banks of the Huangpu river, which runs right
through the middle of Shanghai, have always been powerful symbols.
- If the Olympics marked a display of China’s political power, the
Shanghai Expo, which was formally kicked off, is being seen as an
opportunity for China to showcase its soft power to the 189 countries who
will attend the event.(Locate In Atlas)
BP to blame for spill, says U.S.
- On the rapidly worsening oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. President
Barack Obama said: “British Petroleum [BP] is ultimately responsible under
the law for paying the costs of response and cleanup operations.”
- The Deepwater Horizon rig, operated by BP, sank on April 22 following an
explosion that killed 11 workers. It has reportedly been leaking nearly
5,000 barrels a day, prompting fears that it could equal the environmentally
devastating Exxon Valdez spill near Alaska in 1989.
Iran, Syria Discussed for The Formation of regional economic bloc
- Iran and Syria have discussed at length the formation of a regional
economic bloc with Turkey and Iraq as their key partners.
- The two sides felt the move would yield economic benefits and impart
political stability and security to the region.
- The two also discussed the construction of a pipeline for exporting
Iranian gas to Syria via Turkey, as part of an effort to promote regional
ties. They also considered possible tie-ups in transportation, water supply
- Tehran and Damascus,both countries supported the Palestinian Hamas and
the Lebanese Hizbollah against Israel. The Gaza winter war of 2008-09 also
enabled Turkey to share its common political concerns with Iran and
Syria.(Locate In Atlas)
Explosive device found in New York
- Police averted a “very deadly event” when they discovered an explosive
device in a car in the bustling Times Square in New York City.
Building up nuclear Stockpiling is shameful, says Ahmadinejad
- Speaking at the start of the four-week nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Review Conference at the United Nations in New York, Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described the policy of building up nuclear stockpiles
for the purposes of deterrent as “disgusting and shameful,” and “not a
source of pride.”
- In a reference to the recently announced U.S. Nuclear Posture Review,
Mr. Ahmadinejad called for states that threaten to use atomic weapons to be
punished. He further described as “hazardous” the production and stockpiling
of nuclear weapons by world powers, and made a reference to a 2007 episode
in the United States when an aircraft mistakenly transported six
nuclear-tipped cruise missiles within U.S. territory.
Faisal Shahzad a Pakistan-born man held for Times Square bomb
- Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistan-born citizen of the United States, was
arrested in connection with the Times Square bomb incident, even as he tried
to board a flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to
Dubai, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
PRE 2011 - Current Affairs
Price: Rs. 190/-
Author: S.A. Majid
Current Affairs Book For IAS Pre 2011 By S.A. Majid
North Korea Will work with Beijing on N-talks
- North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-il ended his four-day secretive visit to
China, telling his hosts he was willing to help revive stalled negotiations
over his country’s controversial nuclear programme.
- Mr. Kim held extensive meetings with Mr. Hu, and also met Premier Wen
Jiabao and the seven other top leaders of the ruling Communist Party
- Mr. Kim as saying he was willing “to create favourable conditions” to
resume the stalled six-party talks — the dialogue framework with South
Korea, the United States, Japan and Russia over the North’s controversial
nuclear programme. North Korea quit the talks after the United Nations
imposed sanctions following a nuclear test conducted last April 2009.
Pakistan tests two surface to surface nuclear-capable ballistic missiles
- Pakistan said it had successfully tested two surface-to-surface missiles
— capable of carrying both nuclear and conventional warheads — and ensured
the operational readiness of the Strategic Missile Groups equipped with
Ghaznavi and Shaheen missile systems.
- The “successful training launch” of the Short Range Ballistic Missile
Hatf III (Ghaznavi) and Medium Range Ballistic Missile Hatf IV (Shaheen 1)
was announced by Inter-Services Public Relations
- Ghaznavi can carry warheads up to 290 km, Shaheen’s range was in the
vicinity of 650 km.
Conservation leader David Cameron is new British Prime Minister
- Britain’s first post-war coalition government, with Conservative leader
David Cameron as Prime Minister and his Liberal Democrat counterpart Nick
Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister, took office, promising to give the country a
“historic new direction” as the sun set on the 13-year Labour rule with
Gordon Brown’s dramatic resignation.
- William Hague, a right-wing Conservative with a hard line on Europe, is
the new Foreign Secretary; George Osborne, a close ally of Mr. Cameron, the
Chancellor of the Exchequer; and Liberal Democrat Vince Cable, who famously
predicted the banking crisis, the Business Secretary.
- At 43, Mr. Cameron is the youngest Prime Minister since 1812. His
elitist background — having been the son of a stockbroker and educated at
Eton and Oxford University — was sought to be made into an election issue by
the Labour Party, which argued that he was not in touch with the ordinary
- Like him, Mr. Clegg, also 43, has a whiff of class baggage. Son of a
banker with an aristocratic Russian-German lineage, he was privately
educated and then he went to Cambridge.
Moist Chief Prachanda ready to disband guerilla army
- As Nepal’s political parties struggled to reach a compromise to end the
standoff between the government and the former rebels, Maoist chief Pushpa
Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” has said he is ready to dissolve the party’s
paramilitary organisation and facilitate the integration of its combatants
with the Army.
Trilateral meet on Iran’s nuclear programme
- Turkey, Brazil and Iran are set to hold trilateral talks that could help
defuse tensions surrounding Iran’s nuclear programme.
- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrive in Tehran for talks
with his host, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Luiz Inacio Lula da
Silva, the Brazilian President. Mr. da Silva arrive on May 17 to participate
in the G-15 summit, which also attended by External Affairs Minister S.M.
- The talks achieve a breakthrough on a nuclear swap deal between Iran and
the global powers. Analysts say significant progress on a swap arrangement
that would allow Iran to import nuclear fuel for its medical reactor in
Tehran, in return for the export of domestically produced low enriched
uranium, could diminish chances of Iran being subjected to fresh
- Iran was also looking forward to follow-up discussions in Turkey with
the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. The
Turks have suggested that Iran’s top negotiator on the nuclear issue, Saeed
Jalili should hold direct talks with Catherine Ashton, the European Union
foreign policy head, who would represent the global powers.
IMF loan gave $1.3 billion to Pakistan
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved immediate disbursement of
$1.3 billion of financial assistance to Pakistan, as it noted that the
country’s vulnerability remains high.
- A decision in this regard was taken by the IMF Executive Board following
the completion of fourth review of Pakistan’s economic performance under a
programme supported by a Stand-By Arrangement (SBA). With this, the total
disbursement to Pakistan so far has been $7.27 billion.
Egypt objects to Nile basin pact signed by in Nile Basin Countries
- Egypt objected to an agreement signed by four Nile Basin countries in
Uganda for changing the way the river waters are shared, even as the deal
created a permanent body to manage it. Nile river stretches more than 6,600
km from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean. The Nile is a vital water and
energy source for the nine countries through which it flows.
- The original colonial-era agreement gives Cairo the power to veto dams
and other water projects in upstream countries. Though the Nile waters are
divided by means of an agreement that dates back to 1929, Egypt and Sudan
being upstream countries insist that the old agreement still holds.
- Four of the seven upstream countries signed a new agreement in Uganda to
set up a body to overlook the distribution of Nile waters in a different way
against the will of both Egypt and Sudan.
- Despite strong opposition from their northern neighbours, Tanzania,
Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia signed the agreement. While Kenya, Burundi and
the DR Congo were expected to sign it within the 12 months allowed by the
accord. Egypt has expressed vehement objection to the agreement signed by a
number of Nile Basin countries changing the way the Nile Waters are shared.
(Locate In Atlas)
Iran agrees to uranium swap in Turkey
- Iran agreed to swap a major part of its low enriched uranium stocks on
Turkish soil for an equivalent amount of uranium enriched to 19.75 per cent,
potentially ending a stand-off with the U.S. and Europe that threatened to
spiral into sanctions.
- Iran needs the higher grade enriched uranium to fuel the Tehran Research
Reactor, used by it to produce medical isotopes.
- The deal was reached after 18 hours of negotiations ending 4 a.m. among
Iran, Turkey and Brazil, leaving Washington and its allies red-faced. The
U.S. and Europe are pressing for the punitive route and Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton had predicted that the Brazilian-Turkish attempt at
mediation would fail.
Noam Chomsky accused Israel of acting like a “totalitarian state”
- Noam Chomsky accused Israel of acting like a “totalitarian state” after
an Israeli government decision banning him from entering the West Bank.
- Mr. Chomsky (81), a Jewish-American professor of linguistics at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a strong critic of Israel,
had been invited to lecture at the Palestinian Birzeit University, near the
central West Bank city of Ramallah.
- Speaking over the phone from Amman, Jordan, to a press conference in
Ramallah, Mr. Chomsky said he was held up for five hours at the
Israeli-controlled Allenby Crossing between Jordan and the West Bank, only
to be told later that he would not be allowed through.
Thai security forces storm Red Shirt bastion, crush protest
- Thailand’s military and civilian leaders assumed “full control of the
situation” after crushing a two-month protest and imposing an overnight
curfew in the capital, Bangkok, and over 20 provinces.
- Bangkok and most of these provinces were already in a state of emergency
for several weeks.
- The latest phase of the protest movement by the United Front for
Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) first began on March 12. The UDD is an
umbrella group of pro-democracy activists and loyalists of Thaksin
Shinawatra, who was deposed in a military coup in 2006 and is now a
proclaimed fugitive living in self-imposed exile.
- Nearly 60 people were killed in intermittent clashes between the UDD
activists and the military and other security forces during this prolonged
- The Red Shirt UDD protesters have been demanding immediate dissolution
of the House of Representatives and a snap general election. Military-backed
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who set a November 14 timeline for a fresh
poll, about a year ahead of schedule, later withdrew the offer, citing its
rejection by the UDD leaders.
Pakistan has sent a note verbale to India on May 17 on the disputed
- Pakistan has sent a note verbale to India on May 17 on the disputed
Kishanganga project, clearly indicating its intention to set up a Court of
Arbitration as provided in the dispute settlement mechanism under the Indus
Waters Treaty (IWT).
- The first one was sent on April 9 where it informed India of its
decision to invoke Article IX of the IWT to seek World Bank arbitration.
- India till date has not responded to Pakistan’s first note verbale in
which Islamabad has asked New Delhi to decide on its two negotiators for the
arbitration process and also inform the World Bank about the need to appoint
a neutral expert as the two countries have been unable to resolve
differences within the Permanent Indus Waters Commission.
- The second note verbale, according to Foreign Office officials, has to
do with disputes relating to water flows while the first was about
“differences” over technical issues of the project. (Locate In Atlas)
South Korea accused North Korea of firing a torpedo that sank a naval
- Tensions deepened on the Korean peninsula as South Korea accused North
Korea of firing a torpedo that sank a naval warship, killing 46 sailors in
the country’s worst military disaster since the Korean War.
- North Korea called the results a fabrication, and warned that any
retaliation would trigger war. It continued to deny involvement in the
sinking of the warship Cheonan.
- An international civilian-military investigation team said evidence
overwhelmingly proved a North Korean submarine fired a homing torpedo that
caused a massive underwater blast that tore the Cheonan apart.
- While 58 sailors were rescued from the frigid Yellow Sea waters, 46
- Since the 1950-53 war on the Korean peninsula ended in a truce rather
than a peace treaty, the two Koreas remain locked in a state of war and
divided by the world’s most heavily armed border. (Locate In Atlas)
PRE 2011 - Current Affairs
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Obama announce a Panel on oil spill
- President Barack Obama announced the establishment of a bipartisan
National Commission to investigate the oil spill from British Petroleum’s
Deepwater Horizon rig. The rig exploded on April 20 and has since been
spewing massive amounts of oil into the Gulf of Mexico seriously endangering
its marine life and the coastlands of Louisiana.
- As per an executive order signed by the President the Commission, which
will also closely examine the activities the offshore drilling industry,
will be co-chaired by former two-term Florida Governor and former Senator
Bob Graham and also former Administrator of the Environmental Protection
Agency William Reilly
SCO’s approved draft rule for new admissions
- In a historic decision, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has
approved draft rules for admitting new members into the six-member regional
- The new rules were endorsed by the SCO Foreign Ministers at their
meeting in Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan,. The rules are expected to be
finally approved by the Heads of State of the SCO at a summit meeting in
- The decision signals the lifting of a moratorium on the admission of new
members the SCO introduced shortly after its establishment in 2001. The SCO
comprises Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
- The nations which have observer status — India Iran, Mongolia and
Pakistan — would be prime candidates for full membership. Iran will not
immediately be able to enrol as the rules lock out nations that are under
U.N. Security Council sanctions, a Russian diplomat said. (Locate In Atlas)
Japan P.M. Hatoyama apologises over U-urn on U.S. base
- Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama apologised for breaking his
election pledge to move an unpopular U.S. military base off Okinawa, also
receiving a public dressing-down from local officials.
- Mr. Hatoyama’s initial plan had caused friction with close ally
Washington and his perceived dithering on the issue since — followed by his
U-turn — has badly hurt his approval ratings.
- Okinawa, which hosts more than half the 47,000 U.S. troops in Japan, has
long sought to remove the bases, which are locally unpopular mainly because
of noise, pollution and the risk of accidents and crimes.
- Relations between Japan and the United States have been strained since
the centre-left Premier took power last September after a landslide poll
victory, pledging to move the base off Okinawa, scrapping a 2006 deal
between the previous conservative government and Washington.
- The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama had urged Mr. Hatoyama
to stay with the original pact, arguing a strong U.S military presence is
crucial for the defence of Japan and stability in the wider Asia-Pacific
region. (Locate In Atlas)
China, U.S. discuss to reform Chin’s exchange rate mechanism
- Chinese President Hu Jintao pledged to reform China’s exchange-rate
mechanism, but gave no commitment to revaluing his country’s currency at the
start of a two-day dialogue with the United States.
- China’s valuation of the Yuan, which the U.S. says has been kept
artificially low, would only be decided “under the principles of independent
decision-making, controllability and gradual progress,” said Mr. Hu,
suggesting China would, in the near-term, ignore U.S. calls for its
Russia has denounced the deployment of U.S. Patriot missiles in Poland
- Russia has denounced the deployment of U.S. Patriot missiles in Poland
as detrimental to regional security and trust.
- “Such military activity does not help to strengthen our mutual security,
to develop relations of trust and predictability in this region,” said the
Foreign Ministry .
- A battery of U.S. Patriot air defence missiles, to be manned by up to
150 U.S. troops, arrived in Morag, a small town in north-eastern Poland just
60 km from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.
- It is the first deployment of U.S. surface-to-air missiles so close to
- The missiles will be able to shoot down aircraft and missiles over the
entire Kaliningrad region, according to Russia’s NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin.
- The Pentagon said the main purpose of the temporary deployment is to
teach the Polish military to operate the advanced guided missile system.
- However, in 2012 the Patriot base will become permanent.
- Under President Barack Obama’s reconfigured missile defence plan for
Europe, Poland is also expected by 2018 to host SM-3 missile interceptors
capable of shooting down Russian ballistic missiles. (Locate In Atlas)
Pakistan, Iran to sign gas pipeline deal
- Two months after Pakistan and Iran signed a deal for the construction of
a pipeline that would allow Iranian gas to be pumped into Balochistan and
Sindh, the two countries will sign a sovereign guarantee for constructing
the much delayed project that was envisaged as a “peace pipeline’’ extending
right into India.
- The sovereign guarantee for the $ 7.6 billion project will be signed by
representatives of the National Iranian Oil Company and Pakistan’s Petroleum
Ministry. The two countries had inked the deal on March 17 this year in
Turkey as per which a pipeline will connect Iran’s South Pars gas field with
Pakistan’s southern Balochistan and Sindh provinces.
- As part of the project, gas will be pumped directly into
“energy-hungry’’ Pakistan daily from Iran by the middle of the next decade.
- The pipeline will begin from Iran’s Assalouyeh Energy Zone in the South
and stretch over 1,100 km through the country before it enters Pakistan. The
initial capacity of the pipeline will be 22 billion cubic meters of natural
gas per annum. It is expected to be later raised to 55 billion cubic metres.
- Security considerations and inability to come to an understanding with
Pakistan over transmission charges saw India vacillate over joining the
- Finally, Iran and Pakistan decided to enter into a bilateral agreement
though the former has continued to maintain that India was welcome to join
the project. (Locate In Atlas)
Nepal political parties agree to extend term of Constituent Assembly
- Nepal political parties agreed to extend the term of the Constituent
Assembly by one year as part of a crucial deal under which Prime Minister
Madhav Kumar Nepal agreed to step down.
- The deal was struck by top leaders of the UCPN-Maoist, the Nepali
Congress and the CPN-UML with just hours left for the expiry of term of the
- Nepal’s ruling coalition introduced a bill in the 601-Assembly to extend
the term of the House by one year so that it could finish the task of
framing a new constitution.
- The CPN-Maoist party, with nearly 35 per cent of the parliamentary
seats, had refused to cooperate in extending the term of the Assembly till
Prime Minister Nepal quits.
- The Maoists, having 229 parliamentary seats, had refused to vote for the
bill to extend the term of the 601-member Constituent Assembly unless the
Prime Minister stands down.
United Nations has asked India, Pakistan and Israel to join NPT and CTBT
- In a departure from tradition of not singling out countries by name, the
United Nations has asked India, Pakistan and Israel to join NPT and CTBT
without further delay and pre-conditions.
- The U.N.’s call to the three countries to join nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) came at the end of the
month-long 2010 NPT review conference.
- The conference also decided on scheduling a meeting in 2012 to discuss
the creation of a Middle East (West Asia) Nuclear Free Zone.
- The NPT Review Conference is held every five years to assess the
progress in reaching the goals set out in the 1970 treaty to disarm and stop
the spread of nuclear weapons. India, Pakistan and Israel did not attend.
- The U.S. took exception to the fact that Israel had been singled out in
the text — a key demand of the Arab states.
- U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed the accord but “strongly” opposed
singling Israel out over talks on a nuclear weapons-free West Asia.
U.S. Will supports Sri Lankan truth panel
- The United States has expressed the hope that the Reconciliation
Commission established by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to study
events from 2002 till the military defeat of the LTTE would be given broad
- Israeli commandos attacked a high-profile Gaza-bound aid flotilla,
killing up to 19 people
- Israeli commandos attacked a high-profile Gaza-bound aid flotilla,
killing up to 19 people and triggering in its wake a wave of outrage across
- The convoy of six ships was assaulted in the early hours after commandos
slithered down from helicopters and confronted passengers on board, mostly
- The ships comprising the flotilla arrived from Britain, Ireland,
Algeria, Kuwait, Greece and Turkey. Insani Yardim Vakfi (Humanitarian Aid
Association), a Turkish, non-governmental organisation had coordinated the
relief mission. The 700 passengers on board included a Nobel laureate and
several European parliamentarians, concerns about whose safety and wellbeing
have caught the attention of the European Union. The convoy was ferrying
10,000 tonnes of humanitarian relief supplies for Gaza residents who have
been reeling under a blockade since the end of Israel’s winter war with
Hamas in Gaza in 2009.
Egypt opens border crossing to breach the Gaza blockade
- A day after the deadly Israeli raid on an aid flotilla that intended to
breach the Gaza blockade, Egypt has announced that it has opened its key
border crossing with the coastal strip.
- Cairo’s decision to open the Rafah crossing till further notice follows
a mounting international clamour for the lifting of the Gaza siege imposed
three years ago by Israel, with Egypt’s help. The intensity with which a
majority of global powers called for Gaza’s liberation from its economic
shackles became visible during Security Council meeting in New York.
- The ghastly raid is shaking up Israel’s special relations with several
western partners, and influential players in West Asia, including Turkey and
Egypt. (Locate In Atlas)
Japanese Premier resigns over Okinawa base
- Japan’s centre-left Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama resigned, citing his
failure to stay attuned to the people’s wishes.
- His political stock recently fell below the 20 per cent mark from a
one-time high of 70 per cent in the opinion polls.
- Mr. Hatoyama is the fourth successive Prime Minister to quit after a
year or less at the helm. The other three belonged to the Liberal Democratic
Party, in opposition since last September.
Ukraine has officially drops NATO membership plans
- Ukraine has officially taken NATO membership off its agenda in a volte
face on policy ardently pursued by the previous President, Viktor Yushchenko.
- The Ukrainian Parliament approved in first reading a Bill that amends a
2003 national security law to exclude the goal of “integration into
Euro-Atlantic security and membership in NATO”. The Bill submitted by
President Viktor Yanukovych commits Ukraine to “a non-bloc policy which
means non-participation in military-political alliances”.
- Kiev formally applied to join NATO in 2008, and even though the alliance
failed to immediately give the green light to the Ukrainian bid, Mr.
Yushchenko vowed to win NATO membership as the only way to “safeguard
- Since coming to power, Mr. Yanukovych has pushed to rebuild the
“strategic partnership” with Russia that was all but destroyed by his
predecessor. He has extended for 25 years the Russian lease of the strategic
Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol, proposed integrating the aviation and
nuclear power industries of the two countries and mulls setting up a joint
venture with the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom that would give Russia control
over its gas transit to Europe.
- Russia in turn has agreed to slash 30 per cent off its gas price for
Ukraine and to extend a $500-million credit to help stabilise the Ukrainian
Naoto Kan is The New Japanese P.M.
- Naoto Kan, famous for his lack of political lineage, was elected Japan’s
Prime Minister. He succeeds Yukio Hatoyama, who resigned, citing his failure
to stay in step with the people’s wishes.
- Mr. Kan (63), Deputy Prime Minister under Mr. Hatoyama, gained
endorsement by the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors
- The parallel voting is mandatory, and in case of discrepancy between the
two choices, the person elected by the Representatives will be the Prime
- Mr. Kan’s endorsement by Diet (Parliament) followed his election as the
president of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the leading constituent of
the ruling coalition. The LDP’s junior partner, the People’s New Party,
opted to stay with Mr. Kan. The Social Democratic Party, which parted ways
with Mr. Hatoyama over his controversial decision to let a deeply unpopular
American military base remain in the Okinawa prefecture, did not join Mr.
Amid restrictions, activists mark The 21st Tiananmen Square protest
- Chinese activists and parents of victims quietly marked the 21st
anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, amid an increased security
presence in the heart of Beijing and persisting restrictions on the media
from discussing the sensitive anniversary.
- On June 4 1989, hundreds of pro-democracy students and ordinary citizens
were killed in and around the square and in the streets of Beijing, when
China’s ruling Communist Party ordered the military to crack down and open
fire on protesters.
- Turkey’s ties with Israel plunge to a new low
- Turkey’s ties with Israel plunge to a new low as Ankara threatened to
draw-down its economic and military ties with Tel Aviv in the wake of
Israeli attack on the Gaza aid flotilla.
- Nine people, most of them Turkish activists were killed when Israeli
commandos slithered from helicopters and stormed Mavi Marmara, the lead Gaza
bound aid ship of the convoy.
Israel troops takes control of Irish aid ship
- Israeli troops took control of an Irish flagged aid ship bound for Gaza
and forced it to head for the Israeli port of Ashdod.
- The ship MV Rachel Corrie, named after a young American woman who was
crushed to death in Gaza in 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer, was ferrying
hundreds of tonnes to humanitarian aid for besieged Gaza residents.
U.S., China differ on nuclear posture in The Asian Security Summit
- The United States pledged to keep its nuclear umbrellas for its allies
in good shape, while China vowed against a nuclear arms race.
- With the nuclear arms issue figuring in two different plenary sessions
of the Asia Security Summit in (SINGAPORE), U.S. Defence Secretary Robert
Gates said allies and partners would continue to be covered under the
doctrine of “extended deterrence”. Through conventional and nuclear
capabilities, “we will extend [into the future] an umbrella of protection
over our allies”.
- On China’s different nuclear posture, Ma Xiaotian, a top executive of
the People’s Liberation Army, said: “We have not participated in any nuclear
arms race and will never do that in the future. We have the least number of
nuclear experiments.” Consistent with security interests, nuclear
transparency was being observed, said General Ma at the conference being
organised by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.
President Obama nod for surge in “secret war”
- Behind his public rhetoric of global engagement and diplomacy, U.S.
President Barack Obama has secretly sanctioned the deployment of U.S.
special forces to 75 countries as part of a “secret war” against Al-Qaeda
and other radical groups.
- American troops are now operating in 75 countries compared with about 60
at the beginning of last year, the Washington Post reported.
- Mr. Obama has asked for a 5.7 per cent increase in the Special
Operations budget for fiscal 2011, for a total of $6.3 billion, plus an
additional $3.5 billion in 2010 contingency funding.
The surge in Special Operations deployments, along with intensified CIA
drone attacks in western Pakistan, is the other side of the national
security doctrine of global engagement and domestic values President Obama
- Of about 13,000 US special forces deployed overseas, about 9,000 are
evenly divided between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Abu Dhabi’s leaning tower beats Italy’s tower Pisa
- An Abu Dhabi tower has been recognised as the “furthest-leaning man-made
tower” in the world by Guinness World Records. The 160-metre Capital Gate
tower, developed by the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Company, leans at 18
degrees — over four times the angle of Italy’s famous Leaning Tower of Pisa,
Khaleej Times reported.
- The United Arab Emirates is home to another world record building, the
828-metre Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which is the tallest building in the world.
(Locate In Atlas)
Iran announces to send two aid ships to Gaza
- Iran announced that it was sending two ship loads of aid into Gaza and
asserted that its Navy was ready to escort vessels wanting to deliver
humanitarian assistance to residents of the besieged coastal strip.
- Iran’s assertion coincided with fresh warnings from Turkey and Syria to
Israel that it must lift the siege around Gaza. Syria is Iran’s close ally,
while ties between Ankara and Tehran are on the upswing, especially after
Turkey’s recent involvement in effort to resolve Iran’s nuclear row with the
Russian expert undercuts Cheonan sinking theory
- Russian experts who carried out a probe into the South Korean warship
sinking refused to put the blame on North Korea, military sources said.
- A team of four submarine and torpedo experts from the Russian Navy
returned to Moscow after making an independent assessment of the March 26
sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan, in which 46 sailors were
- A Russian Navy source said the experts had not found convincing evidence
of North Korea’s involvement.
U.N. Imposes fourth round of sanctions on Iran
- The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has by a heavy margin imposed
a fourth round of sanctions against Iran.
- Of the 15 members in the Council, 12 voted in favour of sanctions.
Turkey and Brazil opposed the sanctions, while Lebanon abstained.
- Hours before the UNSC vote, Russia, France and the United States
responded to the nuclear swap deal that Iran, Turkey and Brazil had signed
PRE 2011 - Current Affairs
Price: Rs. 190/-
Author: S.A. Majid
Current Affairs Book For IAS Pre 2011 By S.A. Majid
Sri Lanka plans Constitutional reform to the 1978 constitution
- The Sri Lankan Cabinet under the chairmanship of Prime Minister D.M.
Jayaratne has approved a proposal for “important amendments” to the 1978
Constitution dealing with presidency, procedure and powers of Parliament and
the establishment of provincial councils.
- The proposal assumes significance as there is consensus among political
parties that the 1978 Constitution, introduced by the then President, J.R.
Jayawardene, has aggravated the ethnic strife.
- The 1978 Constitution confers absolute powers on the President, reducing
the importance of Parliament. The system of proportional representation has
also been criticised as lopsided.
China offers $200 million to Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port
- Beijing has offered $200 million to Colombo for the second phase of the
- Since 2006, the Chinese government has provided Sri Lanka $3.06 billion
in financial assistance for various projects. Among the major development
projects underway with Chinese assistance are the Colombo-Katunayake
expressway project, Norochcholai power plant, Hambantota port development
project, tank farm project at Hambantota, and the road infrastructure
project. (Locate In Atlas)
Kyrgyzstan appealed for Russian troops
- Kyrgyzstan’s interim government has appealed to Russia to send troops to
quell growing ethnic violence in the southern city of Osh.
- Ethnic Uzbek account for half of the 250,000-strong population in Osh
and are generally better off than Kyrgyz residents. Eyewitnesses said gangs
of ethnic Kyrgyz were rampaging Uzbek-populated parts of Osh,
indiscriminately killing, looting and setting houses on fire.
- The government declared emergency in the city of Jalal-Abad as unrest
spread to the city 60 km away from Osh. Mr. Otunbayeva blamed ousted
President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s family for instigating riots in their
stronghold in Osh in an attempt to disrupt a constitutional referendum
scheduled for late June. Mr. Bakiyev fled Kyrgyzstan after being toppled in
a bloody coup in early April.
- The violence is the worst since 1990 when hundreds of people, mostly
Uzbek, were killed in Osh. At that time Kyrgyzstan was part of the Soviet
Union, and Moscow sent troops to stop the violence. Experts said for Russia
to help today it must get a peace-keeping mandate either from the
Commonwealth of Independent States, a loose alliance of post-Soviet states,
or the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, the Russia-led defence bloc
of seven ex-Soviet states. (Locate In Atlas)
Myanmar denies links to N. Korea for developing nuclear Weapons
- Military-ruled Myanmar has asserted that none of its agencies is engaged
in developing nuclear weapons.
- As a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Treaty
on Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone, Myanmar emphasised how it “has
been actively participating in the United Nations Conference on Disarmament
in Geneva as a founding member”.
Russia posts Kyrgyz plea to defence bloc of ex-soviet States
- Even as large-scale rioting continued in Kyrgyzstan , Russia has
sidestepped Kyrgyzstan’s request for military help, redirecting the plea to
the defence bloc of ex-Soviet states.
- More than 100 people have been killed and over 1,000 wounded according
to local health officials, with Kyrgyz mobs burning Uzbek neighbourhoods and
slaughtering their residents in Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s second largest city in the
- Interim President Roza Otunbayeva asked Russia for military help, but
the Kremlin passed on the request to the Collective Security Treaty
Organisation (CSTO), to which both Russia and Kyrgyzstan belong.
- The other member-states are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and
- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, as the rotating president of the CSTO,
called a meeting of the defence bloc’s security chiefs to discuss the
crisis. (Locate In Atlas)
Deadlock in Belgium after The legislative Polls
- Belgium has a fresh crisis on its hands, with legislative polls yet
again throwing up two distinct and mutually hostile political blocs. The
country, which has been mired in political instability caused by linguistic
quarrels between the Dutch-speaking Flems and the French-speaking Wallons
has been unable to come out of a political deadlock. About 60 per cent of
Belgium’s 10.6 million people speak Dutch, the rest French. A small number
also speak German.
- The New Flemish Alliance (NVA) a nationalist and separatist party
emerged triumphant in the northern Flemish-speaking regions, while the
Socialist Party did well in the French speaking districts. This has raised
the spectre of the country’s outright break up or the creation of a loose
federation between the Flemish and French-speaking Wallon regions.
- Belgium is to take over the six-month rotating presidency of the
European Union on the 1st of July 2010 but it now looks highly unlikely that
a government will be in place by then. Elections were called after Prime
Minister Yves Leterme tendered his resignation in April following disputes
over the areas surrounding Brussels, the capital, a French-speaking enclave
in Flemish territory.
Afghanistan has nearly one trillion dollars in mineral deposits
- Afghanistan has nearly one trillion dollars in mineral deposits,
according to a U.S. study, but there are doubts the war-torn and graft-prone
country can manage the windfall offered by the untapped riches.
- Afghanistan’s potential lithium deposits are as large of those of
Bolivia, which currently has the world’s largest known reserves of the
lightweight metal, the Times said.
- There is ever-growing demand for lithium, which is used to make
batteries for everything from mobile phones and cameras to iPads and
laptops. Future growth in electric and hybrid cars could create still more
- Afghanistan has so much of the metal that it could become the “Saudi
Arabia of lithium”, according to an internal Pentagon memo quoted by the New
- The iron and copper deposits are also large enough to make Afghanistan
one of the world’s top producers.
Iran executed Jundallah chief Abdol malek Rigi
- Iran executed Abdolmalek Rigi, leader of the Pakistan-based Jundallah
group, which has taken responsibility for several violent attacks inside
- The head of the armed counter-revolutionary group in the east of the
country ... was responsible for armed robbery, assassination attempts, armed
attacks on the Army and police and on ordinary people, and murder.
- The court statement said Jundallah was “responsible for the killing of
154 members of security forces and other innocent people and wounding of 320
people since 2003”.
- It added that the Jundallah was linked to members of foreign
intelligence services, from the U.S. and Israel under the cover of NATO. The
group was also connected to the Mujahedeen-e- Khalq Organisation (MKO),
which Iran says is responsible for several deadly bombings in the country.
- In October, Jundallah claimed responsibility for a major strike in
Iran’s Sistan and Baluchistan province which killed 42 people, including
Brigadier-General Nourali Shoushtari, a Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic
Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).
- Rigi was arrested by Iran’s security forces on February 23 after his
flight from Dubai to Bishkek was forced to land at a location in eastern
Mass starvation in West Africa
- Starving people in drought-stricken west Africa are being forced to eat
leaves and collect grain from ant hills, say aid agencies, warning that 10
million people face starvation across the region.
- In Niger, which the United Nations classifies as the world’s least
developed country, starving families are eating flour mixed with wild leaves
and boiled plants.
- More than 7 million people — almost half the population — face food
insecurity in the country, making it the hardest hit by the crisis.
- According to U.N. agencies, 2,00,000 children need treatment for
malnutrition in Niger alone.
McChrystal The top US commander in Afganistan caught in a row
- The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has been summoned to Washington to
explain derogatory comments about President Barack Obama and his colleagues.
- General Stanley McChrystal, who publicly apologised for using “poor
judgment” in an interview in Rolling Stone magazine, has been ordered to
attend the monthly White House meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan in person
- The article in Rolling Stone depicts General McChrystal as a lone wolf
on the outs with many important figures in the Obama administration and
unable to persuade even some of his own soldiers that his strategy can win
Julia Gillard Sworn in as Australia’s first woman Prime Minister
- Julia Gillard was sworn in as Australia’s first woman Prime Minister,
after she toppled Kevin Rudd as leader of the ruling Labour party in what
was seen across the region as a political coup at the speed of thought.
- Ms. Gillard was Deputy Prime Minister under Mr. Rudd who had led Labour
to a remarkable victory in the last federal election in November 2007.
Sri Lanka rejects EU offer
- The Sri Lankan government rejected the conditional offer made by the
European Union (EU) for extension of GSP+ tariff concessions for a limited
period and said that the conditions imposed by the EU amounted to
interference into the internal affairs of the island nation.
- Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris maintained that 15 conditions imposed by
the EU on GSP+ tariff concessions amounting to $150 million undermined the
sovereignty of Sri Lanka and were not acceptable.
- The European Commission had said earlier that it was ready to propose
to the European Council to maintain GSP+ preferences for Sri Lanka for a
limited additional period, subject to a clear and written commitment by the
government of Sri Lanka to undertake a well defined number of human rights
related actions within a six-month period beginning in July.
- The Sri Lanka government’s rejection of the EU’s offer came a day after
it denounced the appointment of a three-member experts panel by U.N.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to advice him on matters related to
accountability and alleged human rights violations in the last phase of the
war between the island nation’s security forces and the LTTE.
CSTO team a block of former Soviet States heads for Kyrgyzstan
- A high-powered team of the Russia-led defence bloc of former Soviet
states is heading for violence-torn Kyrgyzstan even as a senior Russian
official called for setting up a second Russian military base in the region.
- A delegation of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) led
by its Secretary-General Nikolai Bordyuzha will be going to Kyrgyzstan to
assess the situation in the country’s south following four days of bloody
inter-ethnic riots last week.
- In the wake of the Kyrgyz riots CSTO promised to supply helicopters and
other hardware, but declined to send peacekeepers requested by Kyrgyzstan’s
interim government. (Locate In Atlas)
- Guinea a West African country to vote in first free polls since 1958
- Guinea’s historic election will not be perfect, analysts say, but a
strong turnout is expected from among four million voters keen to put an end
to half a century of dictatorship rule.
- The West African country is holding in its first free election since
independence in 1958. Guinea’s “father of independence” turned
President-for-life Ahmed Sekou Toure ruled repressively for 26 years and his
sudden death in 1984 was quickly followed by a coup which led to 24 years of
military rule by General Lansana Conte.
- After Conte’s death in 2008, another military junta led by Captain Musa
Dadis Camara, promising elections, the happiness of the people and a fight
against corruption, quickly led the country into disaster. This election is
taking place nine months after an army massacre left at least 156 of
Camara’s opponents brutally murdered. Since then Guineans were delivered a
transition government. (Locate In Atlas)
Kyrgyzstan votes for new constitution
- Many Kyrgyz voters turned out for a national referendum on a new
Constitution despite a recent flare-up of ethnic violence in the south.
- If approved, the Constitution would transform Kyrgyzstan from a
presidential to a parliamentary republic, with main powers shifted from a
nationally elected President to a Prime Minister chosen by Parliament. This
would make Kyrgyzstan the first parliamentary democracy in former Soviet
Central Asia. Parliamentary elections are planned in Kyrgyzstan in October.
(Locate In Atlas)
Life affected in Bangladesh because of hartal
- Bangladesh experienced the first anti-government countrywide
dawn-to-dusk hartal enforced by the main opposition BNP partially affecting
major cities including Dhaka.
- The former Premier, Khaleda Zia, called the shutdown to protest against
the government’s failure to resolve gas, electricity and water crises. It
also demanded an end to tender manipulation, extortion and politicisation of
the administration and judiciary. Ms. Khaleda Zia also demanded scrapping of
all treaties signed with India and resignation of the Election Commission.
Landmark euthanasia ruling in Germany
- In a ruling that expands the right of dying people to refuse
life-prolonging treatment, Germany’s top court has acquitted a lawyer of
- Germany has very strict rules against allowing terminally-ill people to
die, partly in response to the mass killing of disabled people under the
Nazi regime. The ruling still does not permit “mercy killing”. The Federal
High Court overturned the conviction and suspended a 9-month prison sentence
on the lawyer, who specialises in medical law. He had advised a client by
phone to sever a feeding tube to her nearly comatose mother’s stomach to
hasten her death.
- In a referendum, 91 per cent of voters approved the new Constitution of
Kyrgyzstan, the country’s election commission said after counting votes from
90 per cent of the polling stations.
- The Constitution approved would devolve power from the President to
Parliament. This will make Kyrgyzstan the first state in Central Asia with a
parliamentary form of government. Kyrgyzstan will adopt the new political
system this year itself after elections to Parliament are held within the
next few months.
- Speaking in Toronto, Canada, after attending the G-8 and G-20 summits
the Russian leader warned that Kyrgyzstan faced the threat of “breaking up”.
“To avoid such a scenario you need strong, well-organised government,” said
Iran to go ahead with swap talks
- Iran has clarified that it does not plan to interrupt its dialogue with
the West on the proposed nuclear fuel deal but talks on its uranium
enrichment programme have been stalled for another two months.
- Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Iran was preparing its response
to questions raised by the U.S., Russia and France, also called the Vienna
group, about an agreement on a nuclear swap that Tehran had reached with
Turkey and Brazil last month.
- Iran, Turkey and Brazil had on May 17 signed the Tehran Declaration,
under which Iran is to transfer 1,200 kg of its domestically produced stocks
of lightly enriched uranium to Turkey. In return, it would receive 20 per
cent-enriched uranium fuel for use in a Tehran based medical reactor that is
engaged in producing nuclear medicine.
- The Vienna group, which had first proposed a nuclear fuel deal in
October, has responded in writing to the Tehran Declaration, opening the
possibility of further talks in the coming days.
PRE 2011 - Current Affairs
Price: Rs. 190/-
Author: S.A. Majid