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2011 October International Issues

India took over as the Chairman of United Nations South Asian Regional Commission for tourism.
This was announced on 10 October 2011 at the ongoing United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) conference at Gyeongju in South Korea. The chairmanship of the Commission was with Iran for the last four years. It signifies the confidence of various countries in India and the efforts of the Indian government in the promotion of tourism in the country as well as across the globe in a responsible and sustainable manner to achieve inclusive growth.

An earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale killed many people in eastern Turkey on 23 October 2011. Approximately, 93 people died in Van province alone and 45 in the Ercis district. The death toll is likely to increase. Serious damage and casualties were also reported in the district of Celebibag, near Ercis. 

The earthquake struck at at a depth of 20 kilometres with its epicentre 16 kilometres north-east of Van in eastern Turkey. It was followed by a series of powerful aftershocks, also centred north of Van, including two of magnitude 5.6 soon after the quake and one of 6.0. Turkey is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes because it sits on major geological fault lines.

The fifth IBSA (India Brazil South Africa) summit concluded on 18 October 2011 in Pretoria. It is one of the country's three capital cities, serving as the administrative capital; the others are Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Bloemfontein, the judicial capital. India, Brazil and South Africa, issued a joint declaration at the end of the summit, which condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

IBSA leaders described terrorism as one of the most serious threats to international peace and security. At their summit meeting, the IBSA leaders said the United Nations should play a central role in coordinating international action against terrorism within the framework of the UN Charter and in accordance with the international law.

The 125th Assembly of the Inter-parliamentary union was held in Bern, Switzerland from 16 October 2011 to 19 October 2011.

European Union on 11 October 2011 launched a Visa Information System (VIS) for Indians and other non-EU citizens applying for a Schengen visa. It will help prevent fraud and process visa applications faster due to the use of biometrics (fingerprints and a digital facial image). The system will also help in quick and effective exchange of data on short-stay visas among Schengen countries. In addition, the new system will make the verification process of visas a more efficient and secure.

It should be noted that Indian citizens need the Schengen visa to visit the 25 countries in the Schengen area in European Union. At present, approximately 13 million Schengen visas are issued every year by the 25 countries of the Schengen area. The Schengen Area comprises the territories of twenty-five European countries that have implemented the Schengen Agreement signed in the town of Schengen, Luxembourg, in 1985.



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