International Current Affairs | January 2021

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International Current Affairs | January 2021

International Current Affairs- January 2021

31st January, 2021

bluShift Aerospace launches the world’s 1st biofuel-powered commercial rocket

American aerospace startup- bluShift Aerospace launched the world’s 1st commercial rocket powered by biofuel. The rocket was named as ‘Stardust 1.0’. It was launched from Loring Commerce Centre in Maine, United States. The solid biofuel used to power the rocket was made up of Nitrous oxide bubbled with oxygen. It is a non-toxic, carbon-neutral fuel that can be used to power the rockets carrying microsatellites. The engine of the Stardust 1.0 is based on a hybrid propulsion system of solid and liquid propellants.  

30th January, 2021

UN World Tourism Organization declares 2020 as ‘worst year on record’

United Nations World Tourism Organization has declared the year of 2020 as the ‘worst year on record’ in the latest ‘World Tourism Barometer’. The international tourism suffered severely due to the COVID-19 pandemic which caused a 74 % decline in the global tourism. The ban on international travel caused a loss of about US $ 1.3 Trillion in export revenues. The Asia-Pacific region observed the sharpest year-on-year contraction of 84 %. Europe and Middle East suffered a contraction of 70 % and 74 % respectively.  

27th January,2021

Estonia becomes the only country to be led by women

With the appointment of Estonia’s 1st female Prime Minister, Kaja Kallas, Estonia has become the only country in the present world to be led by women. Kaja Kallas was appointed by President, Kersti Kaljulaid, who is the 1st female President of Estonia. Kaja Kallas became the PM of Estonia following the collapse of government led by Juri Ratas due to corruption allegations. Former Lawyer, Kaja Kallas previously served as a Member of European Parliament. She is also the present Chairperson of center-right Reform Party.

26th January, 2021

Prime Minister of Italy resigns after losing overall majority in the Senate

Italy’s Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte resigned after failing to secure the overall majority in the upper house of the parliament (senate). He lost the majority after the Italy’s former PM, Matteo Renzi of Liberal Italia Viva party broke out of the coalition government following multiple allegations on the current PM for irregularities in the expenditure during the crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Matteo Renzi did not agree to Conte’s plan for spending € 209 billion from EU Recovery funds for controlling the spread of COVID-19.

Marcelo Rebelo de Souza re-elected as the President of Portugal for the 2nd time

Marcelo Rebelo de Souza has been re-elected as the President of Portugal for the 2nd time. Marcelo Rebelo of Partido Social Democrata-PSD (Social Democratic Party) secured 60 % of the total votes in the Presidential Election held on 24th January, 2021. Marcelo defeated Ana Gomes who managed to secure only 13 % of the total votes in the election. Marcelo served as the President of Portugal for the 1st time in 2016. He was one of the founding members of the People’s Democratic Party and was the leader from 1996 to 1999.

22nd January, 2021

United Nations enforces ‘Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons’

The first ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons has been enforced by the United Nations on 22nd January, 2021. The ‘Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons’ was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2017. The nuclear weapons ban treaty has been signed by 86 countries whereas 52 nations have ratified it. Under this treaty, the signatory nations will be prohibited from transferring, stocking, production, testing, development and using nuclear weapons. USA, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel have not supported the treaty.

21st January, 2021

UNGA adopts Saudi Arabia’s proposed resolution to protect religious sites across the globe

United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted ‘Promoting a culture of peace and tolerance to safeguard religious sites’ resolution proposed by Saudi Arabia and cosponsored by United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Sudan, Bahrain, Yemen, Kuwait, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. The proposed resolution was also supported by India. The resolution condemns forcible religious conversions and aims to develop a culture of peace as a shield against intolerance and extremism. It also condemns the mockery or offences against religious sites and symbols and rejects the use of violence in expression of any point of view.

Mongolia’s PM resigns amid public protests against inadequate COVID-19 control measures

Prime Minister of Mongolia, Ukhnaa Khurelsukh has resigned from his post after public protests broke out against the administration’s inadequate control measures for eradicating the COVID-19 pandemic. He also proposed to dissolve the government of Mongolian People’s Party in the parliament along with his resignation. Mongolia’s Deputy PM, Yangu Sodbaatar and Health Minister, Togtmol Mukhsaikhan resigned from their post due to social pressure and public protests prior to the PM’s resignation. The protest broke out in the country after an outrage over the insufficient treatments provided to theCOVID-19 patients.   

20th January, 2021

Joe Biden takes oath as the 46th President of America at US Capitol

Joseph R. Biden assumed the presidential powers after taking oath as America’s 46th President on 20th January, 2021. The oath-taking ceremony was held at the US Capitol Building in Washington, USA. 78 years old Joe Biden is the oldest person to become the President of USA. Kamala Harris also took oath as the 49th Vice President of USA. Joe Biden was sworn in by Chief Justice, John Roberts and Kamala Harris was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor. Former US Presidents, Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama attended the ceremony along with their spouses.  

14th January, 2021

Yoweri Museveni becomes the President of Uganda for the 6th time

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of National Resistance Movement party has been elected as the President of Uganda for the 6th time. He has been serving as the President of Uganda since 1986. His 35 year long service makes him one of the longest-serving leaders of Africa. He defeated his main opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu by securing 58.64 % votes in the presidential election. Yoweri has also served as the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Nations from 2007 to 2009.

13th January, 2021

Estonia’s PM, Juri Ratas resigns from his post amid corruption allegations

Prime Minister of Estonia, Juri Ratas resigned from his post on 13th January, 2021 after facing multiple allegations of corruption.  Juri has been alleged for corruption and non-transparency in the Pandemic Relief Fund. Following Juri’s resignation, President of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid has nominated Kaja Kallas (Leader of the opposition) as the candidate for the post of Prime Minister. If the opposition party forms the government then Kaja Kallas will become the 1st female Prime Minister of Estonia.

12th January, 2021

UNICEF, IFRC, WHO and MSF join hands for making a global stockpile of Ebola vaccine

United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), World Health Organization (WHO) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have joined hands for setting up a global stockpile of Ebola vaccine. As per the recommendations of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization, around 5,00,000 single-injectable doses of Ebola vaccine (rVSVΔG-ZEBOV-GP), manufactured by Merck, Sharp and Dohme (MSD) Corporation will be stockpiled for controlling any sudden outbreak of Ebola. The initiative is financially supported by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI).

Japarov Sadyr becomes the new President of Kyrgyzstan

Japarov Sadyr Nurgojoevich has been elected as the President of Kyrgyzstan (officially known as Kyrgyz Republic) with 80 % of the total votes in the Kyrgyzstan Presidential elections of 10th January, 2021. Japarov belongs to the ‘Patriotic Political Party’. He has served as the Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan till 14th November, 2020. He was previously serving as the acting President after the former President, Sooronbay Jeenbekov resigned from the post. Japarov’s closest competitor, Adakhan Madumarov managed to get only 7 % of the total votes.

11th January, 2021

United States re-designates Cuba as the State Sponsor of Terrorism

United States under Donald Trump’s administration has re-designated Cuba as the ‘State Sponsor of Terrorism’ for providing safe harbor to the terrorist organizations. Cuba was removed from the list of State Sponsor of Terrorism during the Presidency of Barack Obama. Cuba’s National Liberation Army (ELN) is a Foreign Terrorist Organization designated by the United States. Cuba’s re-designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism will restrict foreign assistance from US and sales of dual-use defense exports

8th January, 2021

India to chair 3 important committees in the UNSC

India has been appointed as the head of 3 important committees in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The three committees are Libya Sanctions Committee (or the 1970 Sanctions Committee), Taliban Sanctions Committee (or the 1988 Sanctions Committee) and the Counter-Terrorism Committee. India joined the UNSC for its 8th term as a non-permanent member on 4th January, 2021 and will head the Counter-Terrorism Committee in 2022. The Counter-Terrorism Committee focuses on preventing terrorist acts within its borders and in its region. Taliban Sanctions committee focuses on the activities of Taliban in Afghanistan and the Libya Sanctions Committee focuses on the implementation of embargo on two-ways arms movement in Libya.

7th January, 2021

PM Modi flags off the world’s 1st Double-Stack Container Train

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has flagged off the world’s first double-stack container train from Atela, Haryana to Kishangarh, Rajasthan. It was a 1.5 kilometer long double-stack haul container train which will be tractioned with electric power. As per the PM’s statement, the double-stack train will benefit states like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana and will prove to be the game changer in the freight transportation of the farm commodities and will result in faster delivery of goods. 

6th January, 2021

Faustin Touadera becomes the President of Central African Republic for the 2nd time

Faustin Archange Touadera has been elected as the President of Central African Republic for the second time. He secured an absolute majority with 53.9 % of the total votes in the first round of the presidential election held on 27th December, 2020. Touadera belongs to the United Hearts Movement. He became the President of Central African Republic in 2016 for the 1st time and has also served as the Prime Minister from 2008 to 2013

5th January, 2021

Vietnam buys rice from India after decades

World’s 3rd largest rice exporter of rice, Vietnam has bought rice India for the first time in decades. Vietnam has signed contracts with the rice traders of India for importing 70,000 tonnes of 100 % broken rice at a rate of $ 310 per ton. Vietnam is importing rice from India due to the soaring prices of rice in the country as a result of inadequate domestic supplies. India being the largest exporter of rice will export rice to Vietnam on a Free-On-Board (FOB) basis at a very cheap rate.

4th January, 2021

‘Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act’ passed by US Congress for Pakistani Women

The United States Congress has passed the ‘Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act’ for providing higher education to the meritorious female students of Pakistan. As per the Bill, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will have to fund at least 50 % of the scholarships under a Pakistan-based scholarship programme for Pakistani Women from 2020 to 2022. The bill also asks USAID to consult the Pakistani private sector players to make investments in the higher education of Pakistani women. USAID has already awarded over 6,000 scholarships to meritorious young women seeking higher education since 2010.

2nd January, 2021

Kazakhstan formally abolishes death penalty

Central Asian country, Kazakhstan has formally abolished death penalty after a 20 year moratorium on executions placed since 2003. The judicial systems of Kazakhstan stopped executing the penalty of death under the presidency of Nursultan Nazarbayev. According to the official statements, the decree for abolishing death penalty was signed by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. Although Kazakhstan has not recorded any execution since 2004, the judicial systems kept on sentencing death penalties to the terrorists during the moratorium. Kazakhstan executed the convicts by shooting a single bullet in the back of the head.

India becomes the 1st country to culture the UK strain of COVID-19 Virus

India has become the 1st country to successfully isolate and culture the UK strain of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome CoronaVirus-2 (SARS CoV-2 virus), which is responsible for causing COVID-19. National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune successfully isolated and cultured the UK-strain of SARS CoV-2 from the UK returnees. As per the official statements of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the UK-variant of SARS CoV-2 is 70 % more contagious than the existing strains of the COVID-19 virus.   

1st January, 2021

India to co-chair Asia Protected Areas Partnership with IUCN

India will co-chair the Asia Protected Areas Partnership (APAP) with International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN)-Asia for three years. APAP is a regional forum of 21 members from 17 countries that promotes conservation of wildlife habitats in the Asian region. The position was previously held by South Korea till November, 2020. India has been awarded the post for its efforts in wildlife conservation that resulted in the increase in population of lions, tigers and leopards in India.  

Australia makes changes to its National Anthem

The government of Australia has made changes to its National Anthem ‘Advance Australia Fair’, which was written in 1878 and got officially declared as National Anthem in 1984. The second line of the anthem has been changed toFor we are one and free’ which was earlierFor we are young and free’. The changes have been made keeping in view of the critics who implied that the line ‘For we are young and free’ destroys the 50,000 years of Australian history. The critics feel that the word ‘young’ in the second line means the new Australia after the British Colonization.  

India’s begins its eighth tenure as a non-permanent member at the UNSC

India has officially begun its two-year tenure as a non-permanent member at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the eighth time on 1st January, 2021. It was elected as a non-permanent member of UNSC with 184 out of 192 votes in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on 17th June, 2020. Prior to this, India was elected as the non-permanent of UNSC in 2011-12, 1991-92, 1984,1985, 1977-78, 1972-73, 1967-68 and 1950-51. There are 15 members in the UNSC, out of which only 5 are the permanent members and the rest are non-permanent. USA, UK, Russia, China and France are the permanent members of UNSC. The permanent members of UNSC enjoy veto rights.