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Current Affairs in Short: 30 January 2019

India and China have signed the protocol for exports of Indian tobacco leaves to China. Quality tobacco on par with international standards is available in India at competitive prices and there is a good potential for export of Indian tobacco to China.

Jan 30, 2019 17:32 IST
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Current Affairs in Short: 30 January 2019

India, China sign protocol for exports of Indian tobacco leaves to China

• India and China have signed the protocol for exports of Indian tobacco leaves to China. Quality tobacco on par with international standards is available in India at competitive prices and there is a good potential for export of Indian tobacco to China.
• According to an official release, the protocol was signed during the recent visit of Commerce Secretary, Dr. Anup Wadhawan to Beijing.
• The revival of the phytosanitary protocol with China is expected to pave the way for the revival of Indian tobacco exports to China and prove economically beneficial to Indian farmers.
• Besides this, the Commerce Secretary also had a bilateral meeting with Vice Minister of General Administration of China Customs, Zhang Jiwen for examining market access and quarantine issues for India’s agriculture and allied products.

Madras HC extends permission given for online sale of medicine till March 20

• The Madras High Court has extended the permission given for the online sale of pharmaceuticals till March 20, 2019.
• The court had earlier banned the sale of drugs online, pending the framing of regulations by the Centre for such sale.
• However, the ruling has stayed by another bench of the same court when the online sellers went on an appeal.
• The Centre has sought more time for framing regulations for the online sale of medicines. Conceding to the demand, the court posted the case for further hearing on March 20, extending the stay of the earlier order banning it until then.

Myanmar parliament approves step toward charter change

• Myanmar's parliament has voted to create a committee to propose amendments to the country's military-enacted constitution, which grants the armed forces the power to block any change.
• The proposal to form the committee was presented by a member of the ruling National League for Democracy party of leader Aung San Suu Kyi, which took power in 2016 after more than five decades of military or military-backed rule.
• The 2008 constitution gives the military control of national security ministries and 25 per cent of legislative seats, enough to prevent any constitutional changes, which require the support of more than 75 per cent of lawmakers.
• The committee proposal required a simple majority to pass. Military lawmakers boycotted the vote, saying it violated parliamentary procedures for changing the constitution.

Turkey aims to form safe zones in Syria for refugees to return

• Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that the country is aiming to form safe zones in northern Syria so that Syrian refugees hosted by Turkey could return to their home country.
• Speaking in Istanbul on January 28, 2019, Erdogan said nearly 3,00,000 Syrians have already returned to areas controlled by Turkish-backed rebels in northern Syria.
• The President added that he expected millions of Syrian nationals to return to the proposed safe zones. Turkey hosts around four million Syrian refugees.
• US President Donald Trump had announced the withdrawal of the 2,000 US troops from Syria last year.
• Turkey has now revealed that they have discussed the possibility of setting up a 32 kilometre-deep safe zone in Syria along the border with Turkey. It expects the safe zone to be set up within a few months.

Western Railway provides 'segway' to RPF personnel

• The Western Railway has provided Segways, the two-wheeled, self-balancing and battery-powered electric vehicles, to the Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel deployed at major railway stations in Mumbai.
• The vehicle, introduced on the Republic Day, will help the RPF in keeping an eye on every nook and corner of the railway stations, especially on long platforms.
• This is the first-of-its-kind initiative by the Indian Railways. The western railway has got six Segways and five more are expected in the next few weeks.
• Currently, Segways are used by Marine Drive police in South Mumbai to patrol on the promenade and the officials need sufficient training to operate these self-balancing vehicles.

Syria signs long-term economic cooperation deal with Iran

• Syria has signed a long-term economic cooperation deal with Iran.  Speaking on the agreement on January 28, 2019, the visiting Iranian first vice president Eshaq Jahangiri and Syrian Prime Minister Emad Khamis said that it covers the industrial, agricultural, service, infrastructure and energy sectors among others.
• The Syrian Prime Minister said that his government has also reached an agreement with Iran on the banking sector as well as establishing an electricity generating station in the coastal city of Latakia.
• Both sides also signed agreements to expand the ports in Latakia and Tartus.

Data of nearly 14,000 HIV positive people leaked in Singapore

• In Singapore, the confidential data of nearly 14,000 people diagnosed with HIV has been stolen and leaked online.
• The Ministry of Health revealed that the leaked information includes names, identification numbers, contact details, HIV test results and other medical information.
• The leaked data is reportedly in the possession of Mikhy K. Farrera Brochez, a US citizen convicted of fraud and drug-related offences in 2017. He was deported from Singapore after completing his sentence.
• This is the second massive data breach in Singapore within months. It comes after the health records of 1.5 million Singaporeans, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, were stolen last year in the country's biggest ever data breach.

GST on Haj reduced from 18% to 5%

• The Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi announced on January 28, 2019 that the GST on Haj has been reduced from 18 per cent to 5 per cent.
• The move will significantly lower the airfare thus saving Haj pilgrims’ Rs 113 crore this year. The Minority Affairs Minister was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of a new conference hall and passport section at the Haj House in Mumbai.
• The Minister said that this is for the first time since the independence that 2,340 women from India will go on 2019 Haj without Mehram.

Nagaland CM inaugurates state’s first Astro Turf Football Pitch

• The state of Nagaland on January 28, 2019 got its first Astro Turf Football Pitch at Indira Gandhi Stadium in Kohima on the occasion of 100th Birth Anniversary of the legendary footballer, Dr. T. Ao.
• Inaugurating the Astro Turf Football Pitch, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said that it is a landmark occasion for the state to have its first Astro Turf Pitch and a dream come true.
• The Chief Minister expressed hope that the installation of the first Astroturf stadium will begin the process of sports development in regard to football in Nagaland.
• The state government is working on strategic sports infrastructure development plan whereby every district will have quality sports facilities. For this, the chief minister said that the government is engaging proven sports consultant.
• The Astroturf project was conceived in the year 2013-14 with a total cost of Rs 498 lakh. The Astroturf has been installed following specifications and norms of FIFA. The size of the playfield is 105x66 meters.

World’s biggest cyclothon Swasth ‘Bharat Yatra’ culminates in Delhi

• The Swasth  Bharat Yatra, the world’s biggest cyclothon to push people to eat right, culminated in New Delhi on January 28, 2019. The campaign was flagged-off on October 16, 2018 on the occasion of World Food Day.
• The yatra began from six different locations - Leh, Panaji, Thiruvananthapuram, Puducherry, Kolkata and Agartala on six different tracks in which more than ten thousand volunteer cyclists covered over twenty thousand kilometres spreading the message of ‘Eat Safe, Eat Healthy and Eat Fortified.
• This yatra is a part of the Eat Right India movement, a pan India public health revolution to create a sustainable culture and habit of safe and healthy diets by promoting individual awareness, collective action, strengthening institutional system and fostering partnerships.
• The movement was led by the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

UK Parliament approves Brexit amendment on replacing Irish backstop

• In Britain, lawmakers voted in favour of an amendment in BREXIT plan seeking alternative arrangements to replace the Irish border arrangement known as the Irish backstop.
• The amendment calls for the backstop to be replaced with unspecified "alternative arrangements" to avoid the reintroduction of border checks in Ireland. With this, PM Theresa May will try to renegotiate the Brexit treaty with European Union.
• However, European Union has repeatedly said it does not want to reopen the treaty, which has been signed off by the other 27 EU leaders, and said the "backstop" was needed as a guarantee to ensure there can be no return to a hard border between Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland.
• The backstop is aimed at keeping an open border between European Union-member Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland after Brexit.
• Another amendment, rejecting a no-deal Brexit, also won the support of Parliament. The vote was non-binding and the date for Brexit remains March 29.

British MPs back baby leave proxy voting

• British lawmakers have approved a year-long trial of proxy voting for MPs on parental leave. It would also apply to MPs who have suffered a miscarriage.  
• The MPs had been discussing the idea for several months but it became more heated when one of the MPs recently postponed her Caesarian section in order to vote on Brexit
• The motion was passed late on January 28, 2019. It will allow new parents to nominate a colleague to vote on their behalf.
• Currently, MPs walk through two lobbies to cast their vote, effectively being counted in person.
• If members cannot get to parliament to vote, they can pair up with an MP from the opposing side who likewise does not vote, so the overall outcome is unaffected.
• As a last resort, a system is known as "nodding through" allows an MP's vote to be counted if they are on the parliamentary estate but cannot physically walk through the lobbies.