International Current Affairs 2017

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First UK rail freight service to China to depart

The first rail freight service from United Kingdom to China departed from Essex. Earlier the first freight train in the opposite direction, from China to UK had arrived in London in January 2017.

The train service was launched as part of China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative that aims to revive the ancient Silk Road trading routes with the West dating back more than 2,000 years.

Key Facts
  • The 30 containers train carrying British goods including pharmaceuticals will travel over 7,500 miles to reach Yiwu (China), a famed wholesale market town in the eastern province of Zhejiang in 17 days.
  • The train during the journey will pass through seven countries – France, Germany, Belgium, Poland, Russia, Kazakhstan before reaching final destination in China.
  • The operators have mentioned that the rail transportation between UK and China  is cheaper than by air and faster than by sea.

About China’s One Belt and One Road (OBOR) Initiative

  • OBOR initiative is China’s ambitious development strategy and framework that aims to boost its connectivity and trade across Asia, Africa and Europe.It was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013.  It has been launched as part of China’s revived 21st century Silk Road diplomacy that seeks to push it to take a bigger role in global affairs as a major global power. It is basically investment and trade promotion scheme aiming to deepen economic connections between China and rest of the world. It comprises two components viz. the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

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April 7: World Health Day  

The World Health Day (WHD) is observed every year on 7 April to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Observance of the day focuses on disseminating knowledge and awareness about human health, increasing life expectancy by adding good health to the lives of people and promoting healthier living habits across the globe.

The day also provides with a unique opportunity to mobilize action around a specific health topic of concern to people all over the world.

2017 theme: “Depression: Let’s talk. It seeks to encourage people to come forward for treatment. Under it, WHO will be leading a one-year global campaign on depression which is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. The goal of the campaign is that people with depression get help.

More than 300 million people around the world are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015. It affects people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries. At worst, depression can lead to suicide, which is now the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year olds. 

Background
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) annually marks World Health Day on 7 April to celebrate its founding in 1948. It is one of eight official global public health campaigns marked by WHO
  • On this day in 1948, the first World Health Assembly was held Geneva, Switzerland. Since then the World Health Assembly decided to celebrate 7 April of each year with effect from 1950 as the World Health Day.

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Japan officially recognises Bitcoin as currency

Japan has officially recognized bitcoin and digital currencies as legal money along the lines of other fiat currencies with effect from April 1, 2017.

The recognition comes after implementation of a new law amending Banking Act in Japan for legalizing these currencies. It will help in integration of digital currency into legal banking system through regulatory scrutiny. 

Key Facts
  • The recognition means regulations governing banks and financial institutions will be applicable to crypto-currency and digital currencies exchange platforms
  • They will be also required to comply with strict Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements, along with annual audits.
  • Other requirements include meeting the stated capital and cyber security requirements to ensure consumer protection.
  • It also makes these digital currencies as “property of value,” meaning that they can be used for payment in the broader marketplace and that it may be bought or sold.

What is Bitcoin?

  • Bitcoin is a form of digital currency or virtual currency created and held electronically. No one controls it that is not regulated by any central bank or government.
  • They aren’t printed, like dollars or euros – they’re produced by people, and increasingly businesses, running computers all around the world, using software that solves mathematical problems.
  • It is also called a “cryptocurrency” since it is decentralized and uses cryptography to prevent double-spending, a significant challenge inherent to digital currencies.
  • Bitcoin is a distributed peer-to-peer digital currency that functions without the inter-mediation of any central authority.
  • It can also be traded on an open market and its exchange rate fluctuates much like a stock market i.e. based on the demand.

Bitcoin infographic

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