International Current Affairs 2017

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China to Launch its Own Encyclopaedia as a Rival to Wikipedia

China plans to launch its own online encyclopaedia next year rivalling Wikipedia and Britain’s Encyclopaedia Britannica. The main objective of this project is to guide public thought. China fears that its citizens who use Wikipedia are being corrupted by foreign influences. The project will be executed under the guidance of the state-owned China Publishing Group. The project would be developed in such a way that it serves as a symbol of  China’s cultural and technological development and promotes its soft power and international influence.

Highlights

Unlike the Chinese version of Wikipedia, Baidu Baike which are written by volunteers, the new project will rope in the professionals for content creation. For the compilation of the project, nearly 20,000 scholars and academics have been tasked to create more than 300,000 entries before its 2018 launch. The new project will be based on a previously printed version published in 1993. The second edition was released in 2009. The new project will be released online before publishing the printed version.

Background

China has an estimated 700 million internet users. According to a study conducted in 2015 by the US think tank Freedom House, China had the most restrictive online use policies among 65 nations it studied. It ranks below Iran and Syria. China uses a various forms of web censorship called as “The Great Firewall” to protect its national security. Chinese residents cannot even use Facebook and Twitter. In addition to the above restrictions, with effect from June 1, Chinese Internet users will be required to provide their original names when accessing online news sources.

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India-Turkey inks Three Agreements

India and Turkey have signed three agreements following delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s first foreign visit after winning the April 16 referendum that will transform Turkey into a presidential form of democracy.

The previous visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to India was made in 2008.

In total three agreements were signed by both the sides in the fields of ICT, training and culture:

  • An agreement for a cultural exchange programme for the years 2017-2020 was signed.
  • A MoU was signed between the Foreign Services Institute (FSI) of India and the Diplomacy Academy of Turkey.
  • A MoU was signed for cooperation in the area of information and communication technologies (ICT).

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had also assured India of Turkey’s full support in the fight against terrorism and for India’s bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

During his visit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was conferred the Degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) by the Jamia Millia Islamia university for “his contribution to strengthen international cooperation, peace and diplomacy as well as for his extraordinary humanitarian aid to millions of refugees.”

India-Turkey

India and Turkey established diplomatic relations in 1948. Bilateral trade between both the countries stands at $6.5 billion. As of 2016, Turkey’s exports to India stood at $652 million, while its imports were $5.75 billion. Both the countries have set a target of increasing the volume of bilateral trade to $10 billion by 2020. Intelligence cooperation between Turkey and India over ISIS has increased in last few years, especially after it was found that many Indian nationals who attempted to travel to Syria travelled through Turkey.

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India to give Rs 35 cr to children of freedom fighters in Bangladesh

India will give Rs. 35 crore rupees to children of freedom fighters in Bangladesh under the new ‘Muktijodha scholarship’ scheme in the next five years. Under the scheme, students at higher secondary level will get a one-time grant of Tk 20,000 (Rs 15,370) and students at the undergraduate level will get a grant of Tk 50,000 (Rs 38,430). In addition, all freedom fighters will be eligible for multiple entries on Indian visa for a period of five years. Also, every year 100 of them will be entitled to free medical treatment in Indian hospitals.

Background

Muktijodha Scholarship Scheme was initiated in 2006 to support the descendants of the 1971 Freedom Fighters. So far, more than 10,000 scholarships worth Tk150 million have been granted to the descendants under the scheme. It is India who aided Bangladesh to gain independence from Pakistan in 1971.

During Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s recent visit to India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that India will provide scholarships to another 10,000 students under the new ‘Muktijodha scholarship’. During the visit, India and Bangladesh had signed 22 agreements in various fields such as defence, nuclear cooperation, judicial sector, earth sciences, navigation, peaceful uses of outer space, to boost bilateral cooperation. India also announced concessional Line of Credit (LoC) of $4.5 billion to Bangladesh for projects in priority sectors. Moreover, India also gave LoC of $500 million to Bangladesh for defence purchases.

Bangladesh gives away ‘Friends of Bangladesh Liberation War Award’ to individuals and organizations who had extended the most crucial support for Bangladesh’s independence struggle. Former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was the first to be honoured with this award. The other prominent recipients include President Pranab Mukherjee and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

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