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April 2020 - Bilateral News



  • Saudi Arabia to provide uninterrupted LPG supply to India
    The Union Minister of Oil Dharmendra Pradhan said that Saudi Arabia has announced to provide uninterrupted liquid petroleum gas (LPG) supplies to India.

    On 29 March, he discussed global oil market developments with Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman and Aramco's Chief Executive Amin Nasser.

    Saudi Arabia the LPG supplies to support the domestic requirement in India. On 27 March, two Indian refiners were declared force majeure on crude purchases from the Middle East as the fuel demand dived due to the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.





  • US President Trump nominated Indian-American Manisha Singh as US Envoy to OECD
    President of the United States Donald Trump nominated senior Indian-American diplomat Manisha Singh as America's next envoy to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

    Manisha Singh:
    Manisha Singh is currently serving as the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs at the State Department. Prior to that, she served as the Acting Under Secretary of Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment, and as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs at the State Department.

    The 49-year-old has also served as the Deputy Chief Counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Singh served as the Senior Fellow for International Economic Affairs at the American Foreign Policy Council. She was also a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

    Manisha Singh earned an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from the American University Washington College of Law. She received her B.A. from the University of Miami. She has also studied at the University of Leiden Law School in the Netherlands.




  • EAM Jaishankar to participate in BRICS Foreign Ministers meeting on response to COVID-19 pandemic
    Union Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar joins his counterparts from Brazil, Russia, China, and South Africa for a meeting on 28 April.

    The foreign ministers of BRICS member countries will hold an extraordinary video conference to discuss ways to jointly combat the coronavirus pandemic. The event will be chaired by Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister.


    Highlights:

    The Ministerial video conference will be hosted by Russia, who is the current rotating head of the BRICS.

    The meeting will focus on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international relations and possible joint measures in the fight against the highly dangerous and fast-spreading contagion.

    The BRICS presidency was passed from Brazil to Russia from 1 January 2020.
    The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide amounts to 30,40,709 death. Out of which 2,10,842 deaths were reported and 8,93,872 recoveries.
    Note: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa are the BRICS countries.




  • G20 Health Ministers Meeting deliberated on steps to control COVID-19 pandemic
    Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan participated in the video conference of the Health Ministers of G20 countries. During that conference, Forge cooperation and mutually respectful and useful collaborations to deal with COVID-19 disease.

    The 19-member countries apart from European Union (EU) of G20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America and India.

    Highlights:
    The global community has tackled threats to the health of the people, by a collective sense of purpose, support and collaboration with each other.

    The meeting called for cooperation between nations to attain normalcy.

    In the meeting, the Minister highlighted India's fivefold approach to combat COVID-19 namely: (i) Maintaining a continuous situation awareness, (ii) Pre-emptive and proactive approach, (iii) Graded response as per continuously evolving scenario, (iv) Inter-sectoral coordination at all levels, and lastly, but most importantly (v) Creating a people's movement to combat the coronavirus disease.

    He also stated that India has decided to focus on building exclusive infrastructure for the management of COVID-19 patients so that there is no intermingling of COVID-19 patients.

    In India, all the people who are tested positive are treated in one of three types of dedicated COVID management Centres: COVID Care Centres (CCCs) for mild symptomatic cases, COVID Health Centres (CHCs) for moderate cases and COVID Hospitals (CHs) for severe cases. These dedicated COVID facilities are mapped to each other in the design of a referral network architecture for dynamic movement of patients as symptoms evolve so that optimal clinical care can be provided timely, commensurate to symptoms.




  • IUSSTF invites proposals to boost Indo-US virtual networks to address COVID 19 challenges
    The Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) have invited Proposals for 'COVID-19 Indo-US Virtual Networks' on 13th April. The forum will allow Indian and the US scientists and engineers currently engaged in COVID-related research to carry out joint research activities through a virtual mechanism.

    Highlights:
    It aims to leverage existing infrastructure and funding.

    The proposals will demonstrate the benefits and value of the Indo-US partnership to advance research and address critical challenges related to COVID-19.

    Global challenges like COVID-19 call for global collaborations and partnerships will bring together the best and brightest scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to work together to find solutions to address the current pandemic and the future challenges.

    The IUSSFT aims to boost such collaborations for the specific purpose in keeping with their core mandate to catalyze collaborative initiatives across both countries.

    IUSSTF:
    The IUSSTF was established under an agreement between the Governments of India and the United States of America in March 2000. The autonomous bilateral organization is jointly funded by both the Governments.

    It aims to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Innovation through substantive interaction among government, academia, and industry. The Department of Science and Technology (DST), Governments of India, and the US Department of State are respective nodal departments.




  • US approved sale of missiles worth USD 155 million to strengthen India
    The US reaffirmed its determination to sell Harpoon air-launched anti-ship missiles and Mark 54 lightweight torpedoes worth $155 million to India. The aim is to enhance India's deterrent capabilities against regional threats and to strengthen its homeland.

    Highlights:
    In 2016, the US recognized India as its "Major Defence Partner". This designation allows India to buy more advanced and sensitive technologies from the United States.

    The cost of 10 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II air-launched missiles is estimated to be $92 million. The estimated cost of 16 MK 54 All Up Round Lightweight Torpedoes and 3 MK 54 Exercise Torpedoes are $63 million.

    The Harpoon missile system will be integrated into the P-8I anti-submarine warfare aircraft to carry out anti-surface warfare missions in defence of critical sea lanes and enhance interoperability with the US and other allied forces.




  • MEA launched COVID-19 training program for healthcare professionals from SAARC countries
    The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has announced a training program on COVID-19 from 17 April 2020 for healthcare professionals from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries.

    Training Programme:
    The training program is carried out by the Central government's Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) program.

    The training program is in line with PM Modi's vision on #PrepareNotPanic for #SAARCfightsCoronoa, @MEAIndia announces e-@ITECnetwork training programs on #COVID19 for healthcare professionals for @SAARCsec countries starting 17 April 2020.

    The program was suggested by Prime Minister NarendraModi at an India-initiated video conference of SAARC leaders on 15 March. As per the suggestion, the health professionals of the member nations came together to jointly fight the coronavirus pandemic.

    Also, India proposed setting up of a common electronic platform for all SAARC nations to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. All the SAARC countries will share expertise and best practices to jointly combat the spread of coronavirus.




  • Odisha government launches online cultural competition to engage children during lockdown
    Odisha government, in collaboration with the UNICEF, launched an online cultural competition among children to keep them engaged at home during the lockdown period.

    Children can participate in competitions of painting, writing of slogans, short stories and poems, and poster making, winning entries will get certificates, said Odisha government’s COVID spokesman SubrotoBagchi.

    Mo Prativa:
    The Mo Prativa (My talent) program is for children in the age group of 5 to 18 years. The entries are being invited on two themes: Being at home during lockdown” and “My responsibility as a young citizen during COVID-19”.

    The competition will be held in three categories: for 5 years to 10 years, 11 years to 16 years, and 17 years to 18 years. The children can post their entries between 10 am to 6 pm every day, Details of the “Mo Prativa” program can be found in the portals www.sportsodisha.gov.in and www.wcdodisha.gov.in.

    The winning entries may be used in information, education, and communication (IEC) materials of the state government.




  • US announced USD 2.9 million to India to combat COVID-19 outbreak
    The US government has announced a grant of $2.9 million to India. The fund was released by the US government through its aid agency United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

    Highlights:
    The aim is to help India in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic. It is expected that the assistance will further support India's response to COVID- 19.

    The US government is working closely with India through USAID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other relevant agencies to support India's response to the pandemic.

    The new grant is added to the $1.4 billion which was provided by the US in health assistance, and nearly $3 billion in total assistance, that the US has provided to India over the last 20 years.

    The new funds will support the USAID's health strengthening project which was implemented by Jhpiego, an international non-profit health organization, which is affiliated with Johns Hopkins University.





  • India exported 5 tonnes of drug including hydroxychloroquine to Israel
    India exported 5 tonnes of cargo of medicines, including anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to Israel. The shipment included ingredients for drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.

    The drugs were exported to Israel as the country requested the supply of hydroxychloroquine, with India being the world's largest producer and exporter of the drug.

    Background:
    On 25 March, India banned exports of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine with immediate effect during the COVID-19 pandemic. The drug hydroxychloroquine is believed to have some positive effect on the treatment of the coronavirus. But the exports from special economic zones (SEZs) and other GoI approved exporters, only, will be allowed to export the drug.

    But on 7 April, the Government of India relaxed the ban on exports of paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and the drugs were placed in the licensed category. The move came as the US President Donald Trump had threatened India with retaliation if India rejected the US's demand for the supply of hydroxychloroquine.





  • India to export wheat to Afghanistan and Lebanon under G2G agreement
    India has announced that it is to export around one lakh tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan and Lebanon under the government to government (G2G) arrangement.

    India is expecting a record wheat production of 106.21 million tonnes in 2020 against 2.61 million tonnes more than 2019 output.

    Highlights:
    National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (Nafed) is to export 50,000 tonnes to Afghanistan and 40,000 tonnes to Lebanon through a diplomatic route.

    India has been producing more than 100 million tonnes in the past 3 years and there is surplus wheat in granaries to feed the country.

    Ministry of Agriculture is taking various measures to export surplus farm produce which can boost farmers' income.

    The Indian government has also been exporting wheat to African and Asian countries on the humanitarian ground under the G2G arrangement.




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