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India-CERT Signs an MoU with US-CERT

India and USA have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT- In) under the Ministry of Electronics nd Information technology of the Government of India and the Department of Homeland Security, Government of the United States of America on cooperation in the field of cyber Security. The MoU was signed by Smt. Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and Mr. Richard Verma, US Ambassador to India today.
●    The MoU intends to promote closer co-operation and the exchange of information pertaining to the Cyber Security in accordance with the relevant laws, rules and regulations of each economy and this Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and on the basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit.
●    Earlier United States and India signed an MoU on 19th July, 2011 to promote a closer cooperation and timely exchange of information between the organizations of their respective Governments responsible for Cyber Security. Since, 19.07.2011 regular interactions between CERT-In and US CERT are taking place to share the information and discuss cyber security related issues.
●     In continuation to the cooperation in cyber security areas both have renewed the MOU.

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India and Israel committed to strengthen bilateral relations in the field of Agriculture

Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister, Shri Radha Mohan Singh today met Israeli delegation led by the Agriculture and Rural Development Minister of Israel, Shri Uri Ariel to discuss issues relating to bilateral cooperation in agriculture between India and Israel.   
●    Both sides expressed satisfaction over the progress made in cooperation in the agriculture and allied sectors between the two countries.
●    Both sides expressed their commitment to further strengthen bilateral relations   in the field of Agriculture which is manifested by the fact that the third phase of Action Plan for 2015-18 in the field of Horticulture has recently been finalized by the two countries.  Under this program, as many as 27 Centres of Excellence (CoEs) in the cultivation of various fruits and vegetables, in 21 states, are being set up, out of which 15 CoEs are complete.
●    Further, both sides expressed the hope that while continuing the two countries could embark upon newer areas of cooperation at the Government to Government and Business to Business levels between the two countries so as to further enhance the relationship.


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PM Modi and Abe sign MoU in the field of outer space

India and Japan on Friday signed 10 agreements, including the landmark civil nuclear accord, following the annual bilateral summit headed by Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.
●    The new agreement provides for bilateral cooperation in the field of nuclear energy.
●    A memorandum of cooperation (MoC) was signed between India's Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on the manufacturing skill transfer promotion programme.
●    A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between ISRO and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on cooperation in the field of outer space.
●    Another MoC was signed between India's Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, and Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
●    An MoU signed between National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation.
●    Another MoU between India's Ministry of Textiles and the Japan Textiles Products Quality and Technology Centre (QTEC).

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India & Portugal to work out a co-production agreement in Films Sector 

India and Portugal have agreed to work out modalities for a co-production agreement in the Film Sector.  The agreement would be framed in a time-bound manner keeping in mind the legal aspects of such an agreement.  
●    A possibility of an MoU between the Public Broadcasters of both the Countries to share best practices and seek cooperation in Technical and Content related matters was also discussed. The discussions took place during a meeting between Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Col. Rajyavardhan Rathore and Portugal Minister of Culture, Mr. Luis Filipe Castro Mendes today in New Delhi.
●    During the deliberations, Col. Rathore apprised the Portuguese Minister on the initiatives taken by Ministry of I&B to provide Single Window clearances for Foreign Film Producers in the country through the Film Facilitation Office.  He also highlighted the prestigious National Film Heritage Mission of the Government to Digitise, Restore, Preserve the rich filmic heritage of the Country.
●    Speaking on the occasion, the Minister also apprised the Portuguese Minister about the IIMC and FTII as the premier educational institutes in the field of Journalism and Film Production respectively in the country. The Ministers also discussed the possibility of Student Exchange programmes between educational institutions of both the countries. Ministers also expressed interest for possible co-operation in the areas of Renewable energy, information and communication technology and Start-ups.
●    The scheduled meeting of Prime Minister of Portugal with the film fraternity at Goa on 12th January 2017, organized by FICCI was also discussed where in many Indian Producers have also been invited.
●    The Ministers also expressed interest in sharing of experiences and best practices in Social Media to enhance the outreach.

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French agency to help Team Indus on its lunar project

The national space agency of France will ink a pact with the Bengaluru-based Team Indus on Monday, to mount cameras on the rover that the aerospace start-up plans to send to the moon this December.
●    The Centre National d’études Spatiales (CNES) of France will ink a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Team Indus, which is the lone participant from India in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. 
●    The MoU will be signed during the visit of French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to Bengaluru.
●    The CNES will also strike a new partnership deal with the Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) for cooperation in satellite launch technology, during Ayrault’s visit to Bengaluru. 
●    ISRO chairman A S Kiran Kumar and CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall will sign the document. 
●    Ayrault, who also holds the portfolio for international development in the French government, will visit India from January 8 to 11. 


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India and Kazakhstan sign Protocol to amend the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC)

India and Kazakhstan signed here today  in the national capital a Protocol to amend the existing Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) between the two countries  which was earlier signed on 9th December, 1996 for the avoidance of double taxation and for the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.
Salient features of the Protocol are as under:
●    The Protocol provides internationally accepted standards for effective exchange of information on tax matters. Further, the information received from Kazakhstan for tax purposes can be shared with other law enforcement agencies with authorisation of the competent authority of Kazakhstan and vice versa.
●    The Protocol inserts a Limitation of Benefits Article, to provide a main purpose test to prevent misuse of the DTAC and to allow application of domestic law and measures against tax avoidance or evasion. 
●    The Protocol inserts specific provisions to facilitate relieving of economic double taxation in transfer pricing cases. This is a taxpayer friendly measure and is in line with India’s commitment under Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan to meet the minimum standard of providing Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) access in transfer pricing cases. 
●    The Protocol inserts service PE provisions with a threshold and also provides that the profits to be attributed to PE will be determined on the basis of apportionment of total profits of the enterprise. 
●    The Protocol replaces existing Article on Assistance in Collection of Taxes with a new Article to align it with international standards.


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World Bank envoy to meet India, Pakistan officials over Indus dispute

A senior World Bank official met a team of Indian officials to break a deadlock between India and Pakistan over two hydropower projects coming up in the border state of Jammu and Kashmir.
●    Ian H Solomon, senior adviser to the World Bank president, would meet officials of ministries of external affairs and water resources to hear the Indian side. 
●    India side will be led by Gopal Baglay, a joint secretary in MEA.
●    After Delhi, Solomon will head to Pakistan.
●    Pakistan has objected to the projects, saying they flout the Indus treaty under which waters of Indus, Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Chenab and Jhelum rivers are to be shared between the two countries.
●    Waters of eastern rivers – Beas, Ravi and Sutlej—are allocated to India, bulk of the water from the three western rivers is for Pakistan.
●    The treaty, survived three wars and tense ties between the neighbours, came under strain after last year’s attack on an army camp in Kashmir’s Uri. 
●    Nineteen soldiers were killed in the audacious strike carried out by suspected Pakistani militants.

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High Level Meeting Between Indian Coast Guard and Sri Lanka Coast Guard 

A three member delegation led by Director General Sri Lanka Coast Guard (SLCG) Rear Admiral Samantha Wimalathunge, is on a three day visit to India from 03 January 2017 for a High Level Meeting, with the Indian Coast Guard (ICG). 
●    The Indian delegation was led by Director General, Indian Coast Guard Shri Rajendra Singh.  
●    The visit was in continuation of the various efforts by the governments of the two countries in furthering cooperation between the coast guards of two countries on maritime issues of mutual concerns to formulate a cooperative approach.
●    Of late the Sri Lankan Coast Guard has been proactive in meeting the challenges in the new global safety and security regime in this region. 
●    The recent visit is significant in providing continued impetus to the existing ties between the two organisations. The focus of the meeting was on further strengthening the operational level interaction for search and rescue, preservation & protection of marine environment, revalidating operational & communication procedures between the two coast guards.
●    During the visit, the Sri Lanka CG delegation also called on the Defence Secretary Shri G Mohan Kumar and deliberated on issues of common maritime interests.
●    During the High Level discussions, it was mutually agreed to strengthen the cooperation on evolving collaborative approach, in addressing a spectrum of maritime issues concerning safety and security and further streamlining the procedure for release/ repatriation of fishermen.

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Nepal rejects India’s 'Open Sky’ offer

Nepal rejected India’s ‘open sky’ proposal at a meeting held at New Delhi on 20 December 2016. The proposal was to allow unlimited flights between the two countries.
Nepal explained its decision by saying that it was not ready for the agreement and might consider it two years later. Currently, airlines of both the nations are allowed to operate only 30000 seats from each side.
●    The committee would convene in the first week of February 2017 to check the feasibility of the requested routes.
●    Nepal has been looking to ease congestion on its existing air routes since long to save time and cost for its passengers. 
●    To enable the same, the nation is building a major international airport at Bhairahawa in Lumbini, western Nepal. Another airport at Pokhara is also being developed to reach up to international standards. 
●    The topic of increased air routes and service was raised in the joint statement issued by India and Nepal during the visit of Nepal’s Prime Minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
●    According to the National Civil Aviation Policy, which was approved by the Union Cabinet earlier this year, India plans to initiate the ‘open sky’ agreement with all the SAARC countries and even those located beyond 5000 km radius from New Delhi.
●    Generally, countries sign air agreements to decide the number of flights that airlines can fly between them. 

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India to supply additional 80 MW to Nepal from 1st Jan 2017

From the first day of the new year, 1st January, 2017, additional power transfer of 80MW to Nepal is expected to commence. With this, the total supply of electricity to Nepal from India will be about 400 MW.
●    Shri Janardan Sharma, Minister of Energy, Government of Nepal, in a recent visit to India, held discussions with Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Government of India. Besides reviewing cooperation and expanding ties between the two countries in the power/energy sector, Minister of Energy of Nepal requested for an additional supply of 80 MW from India to alleviate power shortage in Nepal due to seasonal reduction in supply from domestic hydro projects in winter months. 
●    In a swift response to this request, within a period of 20 days, the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) installed an additional 220/132kV, 100MVA transformer at Muzaffarpur substation in India. This transformer will facilitate additional power supply up to 80MW to Nepal through the Muzaffarpur (India) - Dhalkebar (Nepal) transmission line. With this augmentation, a total of 160 MW can now be supplied to Nepal through this transmission line.
●    The electrical grids of India and Nepal are connected through various radial lines at 132kV, 33kV and 11kV voltage levels. Prior to February 2016, as per the request received from Nepal from time to time, various short-term augmentation schemes were carried out which resulted in enhancement of power flow to Nepal from 50MW to about 240MW.
●    In February 2016, Prime Ministers of India and Nepal inaugurated the first high capacity 400kV cross-border line, initially being operated at 132kV, from Muzaffarpur in India to Dhalkebar in Nepal. This had resulted in additional flow of 80 MW, enhancing the total power supply to Nepal to about 320MW.

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