GST Bill Sees a New Surge With the Monsoon Session in the Parliament

With the beginning of the Monsoon session, a new positive wave has surged in the India parliament. There is a strong possibility that the withstanding Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill will get clearance from the house.

A day before the beginning of the session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated that “GST is of national importance. Issue is not which government gets credit. Important Bills, including GST will be taken up in the monsoon session and I hope for meaningful discussions and outcomes.” Later on the first day of the session, he suggested that everyone should work together for this Bill as it will prove to be a breakthrough for the greater good of the country. The Congress has also agreed to a five-hour debate on the proposal giving way for the Bill.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar affirmed this and said “I should say there is a positive atmosphere. Everybody seems to say that we should take it (GST) to a logical conclusion in this session”. He also made it clear that the current government is making forward steps and “will run extra mile and shall reach out to the opposition parties.”

The proposal has already been passed in Lok Sabha but has not received an approval in the Rajya Sabha. However, now many parties are coming forward in the support of the bill indicating the positive chances that it will get an approval in the upcoming times. BJP has made it clear that GST proposal is on priority in this session and they will strive hard to get a clearance on it.

It is said that this Bill will remove the implications of the tariffs imposed by the Centre and different states. The Bill has been presented as the most important tax reform in the past years and will certainly contribute towards the national interest.

World Government Summit 2019

Dubai, UAE hosted the 7th Annual World Government Summit 2019. The three-day summit was attended by 4000 decision makers across 150 countries that include the head of the state, ministers and business leaders. It’s a global platform meant for shaping the future of governments worldwide.

The World Government Summit sets the agenda each year for the next generation of governments, focusing on how they can effectively use innovation and technology to solve universal challenges facing humanity. It’s a neutral non-profit organization that operates as a knowledge exchange platform for leaders in the public and private sectors to converge and collaborate with world-renowned experts to create a positive impact for citizens worldwide. This unique platform showcases and exchanges best practices and smart solutions to the challenges that nations face worldwide.

The World Government Summit was commissioned in 2013 by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum as global knowledge exchange platform to showcase advance government services and technologies in an effort to bring policymakers, businesses and civil society together into the future. At the summit, a special track focuses on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The ‘SDGs in Action @WGS’ is organized through the collaboration between the United Nations, the World Bank, and the OECD. The collaboration brings together various stakeholders which include governments, international organizations, subject matter experts, NGOs, academia, youth groups, and the private sector. The World Government Summit is graced by various leaders, Presidents, Prime Ministers, philanthropists, religious leaders, etc. Imran Khan, Christine Lagarde, Harrison Ford were the speakers.

Saudi Arabia appointed its first female ambassador to US

On February 23, 2019, Saudi Arabia appointed its first female ambassador, Princess Reema Bint Bandar, to the United States. A former Vice-President of Women’s Affairs at General Sports Authority and a known philanthropist who lived in the US for more than two decades, her appointment came as a replacement of Price Khalid bin Salman Al Saud, which was a result of fallout over journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder tests relations between the allies.

The princess, who has been a pioneer women’s rights advocate in the kingdom, is also a rising political star in the country. Her appointment is considered as an earnest effort from Saudi Arabia that tries to smooth relations with the US after facing wide criticism for the murder of the US journalist at the Saudi consulate in Turkey. The appointment is considered as a desperate measure to quell the international outcry.

Modi’s 5 Nation Tour

Ever since Narendra Modi acquired the chair of the Prime Minister of India 2 years back, he has been working untiringly to improve the countries relations with other nations across the globe. He has been on a whirlwind of foreign trips to improve India’s image on a global scale.

Recently he concluded his 22nd foreign trip visiting Afghanistan, Qatar, Switzerland, the United States, and Mexico. It was a 5-day 5-nation tour packed with over 45 engagements. The PM had visited the US and Afghanistan earlier too (it was his fourth trip to the US) but it was his first visit to Qatar, Switzerland and Mexico.

The tour was concluded at a strategic time, days before India’s bid to enter the Nuclear Suppliers Group had to be discussed at the 26th plenary meeting of the group held in Seoul, South Korea. With this visit he managed to win crucial support from Switzerland, the US and Mexico for its application to join the exclusive group.

PM Modi also garnered support from the US and Qatar towards India’s stance on terrorism. The US and India also resolved to increase their efforts to fight the menace of terrorism by strengthening their bilateral ties and also gaining support from other like-minded countries.

The visit also proved as a fuel to ‘Make in India’ initiative of the NDA government as the US showed its interest in developing defense industries through the export of goods and technologies to the Indian soil. The US also assured financial assistance for India’s clean energy initiative and the countries announced the formation of a $20 million US-India Clean Energy Finance (USICEF) program. The initiative will be equally supported by both the countries and will provide clean and renewable electricity to almost 1 million households by 2020.

Also, India and Switzerland agreed to accelerate the sharing of financial information regarding taxpayers’ bank balance, dividends, interest income and sales proceeds used to calculate capital gains tax to tackle the issue of unaccounted illicit wealth.

The success of the trip was later put to question after Switzerland and Mexico took a U-turn on their stance to support India’s NSG bid at Seoul, South Korea.

Gate Launches “Chicken Plan” for Africa

Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates launched a new initiative under which he will donate 100,000 chickens to the extremely poor living in the Sub-Saharan African region. The program which is christened Coop Dreams will help to improve the financial and health conditions of the impoverished families living in the area. The birds will be vaccinated against common diseases before donation.

Announcing the Coop Dreams initiative on social media, Gates stated, “When I was growing up, chickens weren’t something you studied, they were something you made silly jokes about,” he further added, “It has been eye-opening for me to learn what a difference they can make in the fight against poverty. It sounds funny, but I mean it when I say that I am excited about chickens.”

According to the United Nations reports about 41 percent of sub-Saharan Africans live in extreme poverty. Bill Gates believes that chickens are a good investment as they are easy and inexpensive to take care of. Thus, they will prove to be an effective way to tackle poverty. Therefore, in association with the charity organization Heifer International Gates will be donating flocks of chickens to families in need. The initiative aims to make improvised breeds of chickens available to 30% of the rural families rising from the current 5%.

It’s a determined plan that can considerably increase nutrition and income levels in one of the most impoverished regions of the world. Gate believes in the Math behind this initiative; a farmer with three hens and one rooster can breed them to produce 12 chickens in a time span of three months. And with the selling price of $5 per chicken, a farmer with a small starting kit of four birds can earn up to $1,250 per year.

Genetics also play an important variable in this equation as African hens are generally less productive than the American ones. But, African chickens have the advantage of having better resistance to heat and diseases. Thus the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is interbreeding these two types of livestock to create a progeny of super birds which will be extremely productive and also have better resistance to ailments.

Gates’ wife Melinda, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said breeding chickens can also empower women by giving them a source of income, which they are more likely than men to spend on education and healthcare.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi elected as new chair of African Union

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt’s President, has been elected chairman of the African Union by the continental body at a summit in Ethiopia. He has been appointed the chair of the 55-member pan-African body after former Rwandan President Paul Kagame stepped down.

The Egyptian leader said he would target his fight against the armed groups on the continent and focus his efforts on rebuilding the countries recovering from conflict during his one year term as a chairman of African Union. According to Sisi, the African Union will use mediation and ‘preventive diplomacy’ as mechanisms for promoting peace and security in the continent. He added that his main focus would be on creating an Africa-wide free trade zone.

However, Amnesty International, the leading human rights group, expressed its concern regarding Sisi’s chairmanship as it would weaken human rights mechanisms in the African Union.

According to Amnesty’s Campaign Director for North African region, it was during the tenure of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi when he exhibited shocking contempt for human rights and the country underwent a catastrophic decline in rights and freedom. The human rights group stated that since 2015 Egypt has been organizing ceaseless political attacks against the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the body that monitors African States Human Rights records.

Chad President Idriss Deby Visits the UAE

The President of Chad, Idriss Deby paid a working visit to the UAE. He was officialy received at the Presidential Airport by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Lt. General Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

During his visit, Chadian President met the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.The two leaders discussed to boost bilateral relations, particularly in the fields of economy, trade, investments, development, and energy. They also scrutinized the aspects and opportunities which could potentially forge economic partnerships, joint development programs and vital projects between both the countries. A discussion on regional and international developments and issues of shared interests of Chad and the UAE also took place.

H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan underlined that the UAE under the guidance of its President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is keenly interested in bolstering stronger relations with Chad and is eager to intensify dialogue to advance their ties. He wished the Chadian President further success, progress, development and stability for Chad. Mr. Idriss Deby also expressed his delight at visiting the UAE and showed his interest towards the expansion and advancement of successful bilateral ties between Chad and the UAE.

Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior; Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Adviser; Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs; Ali bin Hammad Al Shamsi, Deputy Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for National Security; Mohammed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Undersecretary at the Court of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince; Lt. General Lt. General Juma Ahmed Al Bowardi Al Falasi, Adviser to Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Force, and members of the delegation accompanying the Chadian president were also present during the meeting.

Mr. Idriss Deby also went to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. He keenly heard about the mosque’s history and distinct architecture and also praised its library. Yousef Al Obaidli, director general of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre presented him with copies of two of the centre’s publications. The Chadian President later visited the tomb of the late Founding Father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed and paid homage to him.

Afghanistan Wins Approval to Join WTO

Afghanistan has won formal approval to join the World Trade Organisation in a move the U.S.-backed government hopes will help lift its war-shattered economy and create jobs in one
of the world’s poorest countries. Afghanistan has till June 30 to ratify the agreement, the final step before becoming a full member of the organisation that underpins the global system of international trade.

According to a speech given by Afghanistan’s Deputy Chief Executive Mohammad Khan Rahmani in Nairobi, he stated that the trade-led growth will create new economic opportunities
and jobs, especially for women; it will reduce poverty, and increase prosperity.

It will certainly contribute in a major way to dramatically reduce extremism and achieve regional peace and security.

Modi’s US Visit

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, has once again set the world stage ablaze with his confidence and stamina – he is at ease with several cultural worlds, international diplomacy, and of course business and investment proposals, managing all with a punishing schedule of meetings and speeches. He met with 47 CEOs in New York and the best of technology entrepreneurs in California. His visit reinforced the economic relationship of the two largest democracies of the world, unlocked new avenues of partnerships and sent strong signals to the world community about India being the next world engine of growth. The technology entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley shared their promise of assisting India transform into a smart and digital country. With the investment support Modi has garnered in the US, if India pushes through the much-needed economic reforms, within ten years it should emerge as the third-largest economy after the US and China.

US-India-Japan trilateral maritime security maintenance

India, US and Japan have recently come down to a consensus to work together on the maintenance of maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region. The trio reached a compliance at the inaugration ceremony of the US-India-Japan Ministerial dialogue held on 29th September, 2015. It was hosted by US Secretary John Kerry with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Japenese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. The importance of international law and peaceful settlement of disputes, freedom of navigation and overflight, and unimpeded lawful commerce was also accentuated. US and Japan also greeted Japan’s participation in the 2015 MALABAR exercise in the same meet.