(Current Affairs) India and The World | July: 2014

India & The World

SAARC leaders invited for Modi's swearing-in

  • Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi has invited the heads of the governments of all South Asian states to attend his swearing-in in a gesture, which diplomats and experts said was without precedent. Though foreign envoys stationed in New Delhi have attended past swearings-in, Ministry of External Affairs sources said, no world leader has been invited to attend what has traditionally been seen as a domestic event.

  • The move startled regional diplomats-but also caused surprise in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which was not consulted on the decision, Bharatiya Janata Party sources said.

  • Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, the Ministry of External Affairs said, despatched formal invitations afternoon to the Presidents or Prime Ministers of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's Presi-dent, has accepted the invitation but there was no immediate word on which other leaders would attend.

  • Mr. Modi's surprise outreach was intended to allay regional fears that his rise to power would herald a new hawkishness in Indian foreign policy. The Prime Minister-elect had ruffled feathers in Bangladesh by threatening to expel migrants from India's north-east, while Sri Lanka was concerned over the influence ethnic nationalists in Tamil Nadu might have over his foreign policy.

Spouses of H-1B visa-holders to work

  • A U.S government website that is currently inviting public comments on whether to allow the spouses of H-1B visa-holders to work has provided a glimpse at the trials and tribulations of Indians who go abroad to work 'onsite' at various IT firms.
  • The Department of Homeland Security, a U.S government body, had, a few months ago, decided to allow spouses of H-1B visa-holders, who are seeking green cards, to get work authorisation.
  • The U.S government is, therefore, interested in collecting comments through its 'Regulations.gov' comment board, which allows feedback to rise and fall on its own merit.

Statue of Gandhiji in Texas

  • A life-size bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi would be installed in Irving in Texas, fulfilling a long-cherished dream of Indian-Americans living in the city. A 7-foot tall and 30-inch wide bronze statue of Gandhiji, cast in Andhra Pradesh, will be installed on a 6-foot tall pedestal.
  • It will have a granite wall as a backdrop, inscribed with Gandhiji's memorable words, as well as those from Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Albert Einstein, Barack Obama and others.

Tax Data Exchange

  • In another step towards shedding banking secrecy practices, 47 nations including Switzerland and India, have agreed upon automatic exchange of information on tax matters.
  • The endorsement of the 'Declaration on Automatic Exchange of Information in Tax Matters' by 47 countries under the aegis of OECD will come as a boost for India, which is stepping up pressure on Switzerland to share details on alleged illicit funds stashed away by Indians there.
  • The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the global body that frames economic policies and conventions against tax frauds, said the latest declaration commits countries to implement a new single global standard on automatic exchange of information.
  • Switzerland, long perceived as a safe haven for stashing away untaxed money, is an OECD member.
  • Such a protocol was required between the countries as tax crimes rob countries of their genuine revenues.

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