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The Union Cabinet has approved MoU) between ISRO and CSA on cooperation in the field of outer space.

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been apprised of the Memorandum of Understanding between Department of Space / Indian Space Research Organization (DOS/ISRO) and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) on cooperation in the field of outer space. 
•    The MoU was signed in Ottawa, Canada on 15th April 2015. 
•    The MoU would lead to establishment of joint team, drawing members from ISRO and CSA, which will further work out the plan of action including examination and defining cooperative projects and the time-frame. 
•    This will also provide opportunities for diverse research in the field of peaceful uses of space technologies. 
•    The successful space cooperation is being pursued through two Implementing Arrangements in the field of Satellite Tracking Network Operations, and in the field of the ultra Violet Imaging Telescope (UVIT) Detector Subsystem, in support of the ASTROSAT astronomy mission in December 2003 and June 2004, respectively.
•    It is aimed at future cooperation in and use of outer space for peaceful purposes to reinforce scientific and technological development and the ties between two countries at government, industrial and academic levels.

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India and Taiwan approved MoU for cooperation in the field of Agriculture and Allied Sector.


The Union Cabinet on 15 June 2016 gave its ex-post facto approval to the MoU for the cooperation in the field of agriculture and allied sector. Besides, the cabinet also gave its nod to the signing of Air Services Agreement between both the countries.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre in India and India Taipei Association in Taipei, Taiwan.
•    It provides for cooperation in the fields of Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries, Aquaculture and Food Processing, Genetic Resources as well as Environmental Sustainability.
•    Both the signatories will encourage the private sector in both countries to enter into cooperation in these areas.
•    The cooperation between the two sides involves exchange of visits, information, technology and training and also expansion of agricultural trade while reducing trade barriers.
•    A Joint Working Committee will be constituted to identify priority areas of mutual interest and follow up on the progress of implementation of the activities identified by both sides.
•    The MoU will be initially signed for a period of five years and shall be automatically renewed for a subsequent periods of five years unless either party expresses its desire/intention to terminate it.
•    It will signed by India-Taipei Association in Taipei (India’s representative office in Taiwan) and Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in India (Taiwan’s representative office in India).
•    The agreement signifies an important landmark in the civil aviation relations between India and Taiwan.
•    It has the potential to spur greater trade, investment, tourism and cultural exchanges between the two parties.
•    At present, there is no formal air services agreement between both the countries.
•    The air services are governed by an MoU exchanged between Air India Charters Limited (AIRL) and Taipei Airlines Associations (TAA).

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India and Ghana have signed three bilateral agreements to strengthen co-operation in varied fields

India and Ghana on 13 June 2016 signed three bilateral agreements to strengthen co-operation in varied fields. The agreements were signed during the first ever visit of President Pranab Mukherjee to Ghana, a nation on West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea.
•    The three agreements signed with Ghana included one for visa waivers for holders of diplomatic and official passports and one for setting up a Joint Commission.
• The commission will periodically review various aspects of the multi-dimensional relationship between the two countries. A mutually convenient date for its first meeting will be decided later.
•    The third agreement was for collaboration in diplomatic training between the Indian Foreign Service Institute and a Ghanaian institute of the same standing.
•    India is the largest foreign investor in Ghana today, with more than 700 projects. More than 222 of these projects are in the manufacturing sector. 
•    Bilateral trade between India and Ghana has increased to 1.2 billion US dollars from 538 million US dollars in 2010. 
•    Ghana has also sought India’s civil nuclear cooperation to explore the possibilities of reducing its dependence on traditional energy sources to cut costs and focus on cleaner environment.
•    After hosting the third India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) in New Delhi in October 2015, India is working on a plan to consolidate and further strengthen its engagement with Africa.

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India has joined a group of nearly 40 countries that have signed a Europe-led clampdown on tax evasion and corruption

India on 8 June 2016 signed a Europe-led scheme that seeks to clampdown on tax evasion and corruption by committing to automatically exchange information on beneficial ownership.
•    With this, India joined a group of nearly 40 nations that are signatories of a scheme.
•    Under the scheme, the signatories commits to the initiative to automatically exchange information on beneficial ownership.
•    The next stage will be for the development of a global standard for this exchange.
•    The scheme was announced in April 2015 by Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
•    The signatories to the scheme will have to provide one another free access to information on who ultimately owns companies.
•    Besides India, some of the other countries outside Europe on the list include Afghanistan, Nigeria, Mexico and the UAE. Most European countries except Switzerland are part of this automatic exchange mechanism.
•    It seems that the step is in the direction to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 2014 election pledge in which he said that he will recover billions of dollars sent to tax havens abroad to avoid income tax.

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India and Tunisia have signed two MoU for co-operation in Information Technology (IT) and promotion of traditional handicrafts.

On 2 June 2016 India and Tunisia signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for co-operation in Information Technology and promotion of traditional handicrafts.
•    The MoUs were signed after the delegation level talks between the two countries in the presence of Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari and Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid in Tunis. 
•    After the meet, the two nations also released a joint press statement saying that the entire gamut of bilateral as well as global issues was discussed. 
•    The two sides had discussion on bilateral ties focused on economic partnership and adding new areas of collaboration in IT and education.
•    The two sides also decided to enhance co-operation in counter terrorism.
•    Apart from this, Ansari also appreciated Tunisia's support to India's candidature to the expanded United Nations Security Council. 
•    He also invited 350 Tunisian citizens to India for training in different institutes over the next five years.
•    He said that the meeting of the India-Tunisia Joint Committee will be held later in 2016 and focus of the meeting will be promotion of tourism.

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Union Cabinet approves MoU between US and India to enhance cooperation in wildlife conservation

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing up of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between United States of America and India to enhance cooperation in the field of wildlife conservation and combating wildlife trafficking. 
•    With the approval, India will benefit from the expertise of the US Institutions in the field of wildlife conservation and management of wildlife areas and in combating illegal trade of wildlife and their derivatives. 
•    India and the United States of America are endowed with rich biodiversity and natural heritage and have established a network of Protected Areas in their respective territories. 
•    As there is scope for both the countries to share professional expertise to address priority wildlife conservation concerns, the MoU would provide a convenient platform for collaboration. 
•    Wildlife Forensics and Conservation Genetics: Useful in species conservation efforts and better scientific evidence collection in wild life crimes leading to better enforcement. 
•    Natural World Heritage Conservation: Facilitating the institutional capacity of the existing UNESCO Category -2 - centre at Wildlife Institute of India. 
•    Nature Interpretation and Conservation Awareness: Use of information technology in strengthening interface of forest managers with the people for sensitizing people, especially the youth and children in understanding complex issues of conservation of biological diversity.

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Railways and PEC University of Technology have signed MoU for setting up of Kalpana Chawla Chair on Geospatial Technology

Union Ministry of Railways and PEC University of Technology have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for setting up of Kalpana Chawla Chair on Geospatial Technology for Indian Railways at the University.
Union Ministry of Railways and PEC University of Technology have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for setting up of Kalpana Chawla Chair on Geospatial Technology for Indian Railways at the University. 
•    The MoU was signed in the backdrop of Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s Budget announcement in this regard.
•    The academic chair is being instituted in memory of Indo–American Astronaut and Alumnus of PEC Late Kalpana Chawla. She was the first woman of Indian origin in space.
•    The objective of the chair is to encourage research activities of Indian Railways in Geo-spatial Technology. 
•    It will also help to strengthen Railway projects where use of remote sensing data, Geographical information System (GIS) and global positioning system (GPS) is predominant.
 

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India and Australia have signed MoU to enhance research and development (R&D) capabilities in biotechnology

Seeking to stimulate and enhance the strategic research and innovation capabilities of the Indian biotech industry, BIRAC, a PSU under the Ministry of Science and Technology signed MoU with Horticulture Innovation Australia for launching a joint funding call.

•    The focus of the call is to undertake horticultural research in order to develop and deploy modern tools of plant biotechnology to improve crop productivity. 
•    The event was presided over by Australian High Commissioner to India Harinder Sidhu and Vijay Raghavan.
•    Horticulture Innovation Australia (Hort Innovation) is a not-for-profit, grower-owned Research and Development and marketing company for Australia's horticulture industry.
•    It works collaboratively with industry, the Australian government and the nation's leading research institutions to deliver ground-breaking advancements in areas such as agri-technology, pest management, and trade and industry promotion.
•    Biotechnology is the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make products, or "any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use" (UN Convention on Biological Diversity, Art. 2).
•    Depending on the tools and applications, it often overlaps with the (related) fields of bioengineering, biomedical engineering, bio-manufacturing, etc.

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China has signed two agreements with Sudan, its close ally in Africa to build 600-megawatt (MW) atomic reactor.

China signed agreements on 23 May 2016 with Sudan to build 600-megawatt atomic reactor.
The agreements were signed during a three-day visit to Sudan by a Chinese delegation led by Nur Bekri.
He is head of the National Energy Administration and deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission.
•    State-owned China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) signed two agreements with Sudan on nuclear power development which includes building a 600-megawatt atomic reactor.
•    The agreements may involve a blueprint for nuclear power development in the next ten years for Sudan and building the first nuclear power station in Sudan.
•    China already had a nuclear cooperation with Pakistan as it has built several nuclear power reactors and is currently building two 1100 mw reactors in Karachi.
•    The contract value or the type of nuclear technology to be used for the reactor was not disclosed.
•    Chinese nuclear companies are making huge inroads in global nuclear markets, including Britain and Argentina.

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India and Russia have agreed to export BrahMos

India and Russia have agreed ‘in principle’ to export the world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missile, BrahMos, to UAE, Vietnam, South Africa and Chile.
•    BrahMos was developed jointly by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM), which in 1998 established the company BrahMos Aerospace. 
•    The name BrahMos is a portmanteau formed from the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.
•    Russia is the partner country in the BrahMos joint venture with its consent discussions with several other countries, including Philippines, South Korea, Algeria, Greece, Malaysia, Thailand, Egypt, Singapore, Venezuela and Bulgaria .
•    BrahMos has: 3 times more velocity, 2.5 to 3 times more flight range, 3 to 4 times more seeker range, 9 times more kinetic energy. 
•    The missile has identical configuration for land, sea and sub-sea platforms and uses a Transport Launch Canister (TLC) for transportation, storage and launch.

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