India to launch agriculture project worth $33.5 million with UN’s FAO in five states; initiative aimed at promoting conservation

The government along with United Nations body FAO has launched an agriculture project with $33.5 million grant from Global Environment Facility (GEF) that seeks to bring transformative change in the farm sector through conservation of biodiversity and forest landscapes.

The project is being funded by the GEF and implemented by the government of India (agriculture and environment ministries) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Aim: The project aims to transform agricultural production to generate global environmental benefits by addressing biodiversity conservation, land degradation, climate change mitigation, and sustainable forest management.

The project, to be implemented in five landscapes in Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Uttarakhand, strives to bring harmony between conservation and development efforts of the country.

About GEF:

The Global Environment Facility was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems.

It is an international partnership of 183 countries, international institutions, civil society organizations and the private sector that addresses global environmental issues.

GEF funds are available to develop countries and countries with economies in transition to meet the objectives of the international environmental conventions and agreements.

The World Bank serves as the GEF Trustee, administering the GEF Trust Fund.

It is a financial mechanism for five major international environmental conventions: the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

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Ajay Data, first Indian in ICANN

The nominating committee of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has selected Ajay Data, Founder & CEO of Data XGen Plus and a global leader in email linguistic services, as a new council member of Country Code Supporting Organisation (ccNSO).

Data has got a two-year term and will take up the position during ICANN 63 Meet in Spain in October 2018. The members of ccNSO, which is ICANN’s policy development body for ccTLD (country code top-level domains) issues, are all country code top-level domain operators from around the world.

According to a press statement, ccNSO of the ICANN is the policy-development body for global issues regarding country code top-level domains (ccTLD) within the ICANN structure.

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ADB approves USD 503 mln lining project of the Son canal in Bihar

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved USD 503-million lining project of the Son canal in Shahabad-Bhojpur region of Bihar which would benefit the agriculture sector immensely in the region, the power ministry.

Power and New & Renewable Energy R K Singh today held a meeting with the officials from the ADB and the finance ministry to review the progress of lining project of the Son canal, the ministry said in a release.

Singh also instructed that process of the design study, consultation with stakeholders, feasibility report, preparation of tenders etc. should be expedited and the tender for the first phase of the lining of the main canal and branches should be issued by the first week of October.

The officials present at the meeting assured Singh that after completion of all due processes, bids for the first phase will be issued by the said date.

The estimated cost of this project is USD 503 million (Rs 3272.49 crore) out of which USD 352 million is being provided by ADB. This project will bring immense benefits to the agriculture sector of Shahabad – Bhojpur region of Bihar, the ministry said. PTI KKS MR

About ADB:

It is a regional development bank established on 22 August 1966 and is headquartered in the Philippines. It aims to facilitate economic development of countries in Asia. It also aims for an Asia and Pacific free from poverty.

Membership: The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly known as the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East) and non-regional developed countries.

Currently, it has 67 members – of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside.

Voting:

ADB was modeled closely on the World Bank and has a similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with member’s capital subscriptions.

ADB raises funds through bond issues on the world’s capital markets.

ADB also rely on its members’ contributions, retained earnings from its lending operations, and the repayment of loans.

Japan holds the largest proportions of shares at 15.67%. The United States holds 15.56%, China holds 6.47%, India holds 6.36%, and Australia holds 5.81%.

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Cabinet approves accession to WIPO Copyright Treaty, 1996 and WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty, 1996

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal submitted by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry regarding accession to the WIPO Copyright Treaty and WIPO Performers and Phonograms Treaty which extends coverage of copyright to the internet and digital environment The approval is a step towards the objective laid in the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy adopted by the Government on 12th May 2016 which aims to get value for IPRs through commercialization by providing guidance and support to EPR owners about commercial opportunities of e-commerce through Internet and mobile platforms.

Benefits:

Meeting the demand of the copyright industries, these treaties will help India:

  1. To enable creative right-holders to enjoy the fruit of their labor, through international copyright system that can be used to secure a return on the investment made in producing and distributing creative works;
  2. To facilitate international protection of domestic rights holder by providing them a level-playing field in other countries as India already extends protection to foreign works through the International Copyright order and these treaties will enable Indian right holders to get reciprocal protection abroad;
  3. To instill confidence and distribute creative works in the digital environment with return on investment; and
  4. To spur business growth and contribute to the development of a vibrant creative economy and cultural landscape.

Background:

Copyright Act, 1957:

After the administration of Copyright Act, 1957 was transferred to DIPP in March 2016, a study was initiated to examine the compatibility of Copyright Act 1957 with WCT and WPPT. Also, a joint study was undertaken with WIPO.

The Copyright Act, 1957 was amended in 2012 to bring it in conformity, with WCT and WPPT, includes amendment in definition of “Communication to the public” to make it applicable to digital environment (Section 2(ff)) as also introduced provisions related to Technological • Protection Measures (Section 65A) & Rights Management Information (Section 65B); Moral rights of performers (Section 38B); Exclusive rights of the performers (Section 38A); safe harbour provisions over electronic medium (Section 52 (1) (b) and (c)),

WIPO Copyright Treaty came in force on March 6, 2002, and has been adopted by 96 contracting parties till date and is A Special agreement under Berne Convention (for protection of literary and artistic works). It has provisions to extend the protection of copyrights contained therein to the digital environment. Further, it recognizes the rights specific to the digital environment, of making work available, to address “on-demand” and other interactive modes of access,

WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty came in force on May 20, 2002, and has 96 contracting parties as its members. WPPT deals with rights of two kinds of beneficiaries, particularly in digital environment – (i) Performers (actors, singers, musicians etc.) (ii) Producers of Phonograms (Sound recordings). The treaty empowers right owners in their negotiations with new digital platforms and distributors. It recognizes the moral rights of the performers for the first time & provides exclusive economic rights to them.

Both the treaties provide a framework for creators and rights owners to use technical tools to protect their works and safeguard information about their use i.e. Protection of Technological Protection Measures (TPMs) and Rights Management Information (RMI).

About WIPO:

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of the 17 specialized agencies of the United Nations.

It was created in 1967 “to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world.”

It has currently 188 member states, administers 26 international treaties, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

Non-members are the states of Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, South Sudan and Timor-Leste. Palestine has observer status.

India is a member of WIPO and party to several treaties administered by WIPO.

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Global Real Estate Transparency Index 2018

The latest JLL Global Real Estate Transparency Index (GRETI) released today shows that Ireland’s property market ranks within the most “highly transparent” markets in the world. Ireland is ranked 9th globally, in terms of the most transparent countries.

The index which is published biennially, measures transparency in 158 metropolitan areas, across 186 unique indicators. This year’s survey saw a 36% increase in the number of indicators and factors which contribute to the overall scoring. New topic areas included regulations and market practice around anti-money laundering stops, beneficial ownership as well as a significant increase in questions around sustainability and the use of property technology.

The 2018 Global Real Estate Transparency Index covers 100 markets and is based on 186 indicators.

These variables are divided into six areas –performance measurement, market fundamentals, governance of listed vehicles, regulatory & legal frameworks, transaction process and environmental sustainability.

The Index scores markets on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1.00 being the highest possible score). Depending on their overall performance, markets are assigned to one of five transparency tiers.

  • Highly Transparent.
  • Semi-Transparent.
  • Low Transparency.

India has moved up just one spot from 36 in 2016 to 35 in 2018.

The UK, Australia, the US, France, and Canada are the top five countries.

Sri Lanka is at the 66th position and Pakistan at 75th among south Asian countries. Venezuela is the least transparent market with 100th rank.

Among BRICS nations, both China and South Africa remained on the same rank 33rd and 21st position, respectively, while, Brazil slipped to 37th position and Russia remained at 38th rank.

India is one of the 10 countries that have registered maximum improvement in transparency in real estate over the last two years. Since 2014, India has moved up by five spots from 40th in the global real estate transparency index.

However, India has moved up just one spot despite the implementation of the Real Estate (Regulation And Development) Act or RERA. RERA was implemented in May 2016 to bring accountability and transparency to the sector. However, unlike a few states such as Maharashtra and Karnataka, several states have been slow in its implementation.

India is thus yet to figure among the transparent markets, despite the regulatory changes and the possibility of a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) listing.

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FATF placing Pakistan on ‘grey list’

In a major political and economic blow, Pakistan was placed on the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) late on Wednesday after a plenary meeting in Paris, according to diplomatic sources. The FATF however, is yet to make a formal announcement.

Sources said despite Pakistan’s desperate attempts to avert or at least delay the listing, the financial watchdog believed that Pakistan had failed to curb terror financing on its soil.

The placement on the ‘grey list’ could hurt Pakistan’s economy as well as its international standing.

The process began in February 2018 when FATF approved the nomination of Pakistan for monitoring under its International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) commonly known as ‘grey List’.

Pakistan was asked to prepare a plan to address international body’s concerns and get its approval or it could risk being moved to the blacklist.

It presented a 26-point plan of action to the FATF plenary with the commitment to implement it over a period of 15 months to address the concerns of the global community.

The endorsement of the plan means that FATF formally placed Pakistan on the list. In case it had rejected the plan, Pakistan would have been on FATF’s Public Statement, also called the blacklist.

On June 20, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan issued Anti Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Regulations 2018, in compliance with FATF recommendations.

On June 8, the National Security Committee (NSC) reaffirmed its commitment to cooperate with the FATF.

By January next year, Pakistan will publish updated lists of persons and entities prescribed under the Anti-Terrorism Act and the UN-designated entities.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 on the initiative of the G7.  It is a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in various areas. The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris.

The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

The FATF monitors the progress of its members in implementing necessary measures, reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures, and promotes the adoption and implementation of appropriate measures globally.  In collaboration with other international stakeholders, the FATF works to identify national-level vulnerabilities with the aim of protecting the international financial system from misuse.

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UNICEF launches Data Visualisation App

The UNICEF  launched a ‘data visualisation app’ which provides a user-friendly visual representation of complex analytics of the education scenario in the country.

The app has been made with technical inputs from the UNICEF, in collaboration with the National Institute of Education Planning and Administration (NIEPA) and the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT).

It uses the UDISE (Unified District Information System for Education), the NAS (National Assessment survey) and demographic data and can be used as a visual tool by policy makers, senior government officials, academia, and researchers to address gaps and monitor programmes in the field of education.

“Since the enactment of the Right to Education Act, much progress has been made in areas of systemic readiness, improved access and enrolment of children, providing infrastructure, especially sanitation facilities in schools, recruitment of teachers and training of untrained teachers.

UNICEF India in partnership with HRD Ministry today organised a ‘Shiksha Mela — Education Open Day’ to demonstrate case stories showcasing holistic and equitable quality education achieved through convergent programming across 17 Indian states.

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Essential Diagnostics List

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published its first ‘essential diagnostics list’, a catalogue of tests needed to diagnose the most common conditions as well as a number of global priority diseases.

The step was taken to address the problem of people’s inability to access diagnostic services, thus failing to receive the correct treatment.

An estimated 46 percent of adults with Type 2 diabetes worldwide were undiagnosed, risking serious health complications and higher health costs, said a statement by the world health body yesterday.

Late diagnosis of infectious diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis increases the risk of their spread and makes them more difficult to treat, it said.

The essential diagnostics list concentrates on in-vitro tests like tests of blood and urine. Apart from this, 58 tests are listed for detection and diagnosis of a wide range of common conditions, thus providing an essential package that can form the basis for screening and management of patients.

The remaining 55 tests are designed for the detection, diagnosis, and monitoring of ‘priority’ diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis B and C, human papillomavirus and syphilis, the statement said.

Some of the tests are particularly suitable for primary health care facilities, where laboratory services are often poorly resourced and sometimes non-existent.

For each category of test, the Essential Diagnostics List specifies the type of test and intended use, format, and if appropriate for primary health care or for health facilities with laboratories.

The list also provides links to WHO guidelines or publications and to pre-qualified products.

Similar to the WHO essential medicines list, which has been in use for four decades, the essential diagnostics list is intended to serve as a reference for countries to update or develop their own list of essential diagnostics.

The WHO will update the essential diagnostics list on a regular basis. It is also expected to issue a call for applications to add categories to the next edition.

The list will expand significantly over the next few years, as it incorporates other important areas, including antimicrobial resistance, emerging pathogens, neglected tropical diseases and additional noncommunicable diseases, the statement added.

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UNDP to set up skill development centre in Hyderabad

Aimed at empowering vulnerable and marginalised women by imparting skills training, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will soon set up a skill development centre at ‘Bharosa,’ an integrated support centre for distressed women and children here.

Last year, the Hyderabad Police had signed an agreement with UNDP under the ‘Disha’ project to build capacities and skills of women affected by violence to help make them economically self-sufficient.

The agreement extends support to enable these women to learn marketable skills and connect with income opportunities.

Bharosa:

‘Bharosa,’ an initiative of Hyderabad City Police, is a state-of-the-art centre to support women and children who are victims of violence. Since its inception in 2016, a total of 3,560 victims have approached ‘Bharosa’ centre with a range of problems.

‘Bharosa’ provides under one roof, 24X7 services related to police, medical, legal, prosecution, psycho-therapeutic counselling and relief and rehabilitation services in completely private counselling rooms to maintain confidentiality and privacy.

The centre is equipped with the well-trained staff and modern gadgets, including facilities like video conferencing so that the victims need not go to the court.

About UNDP:

Headquartered in New York City, UNDP advocates for change and connects countries to knowledge, experience, and resources to help people build a better life.

The status of UNDP is that of an executive board within the United Nations General Assembly.

The UNDP Administrator is the third highest-ranking official of the United Nations after the United Nations Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General.

The UNDP Human Development Report Office also publishes an annual Human Development Report.

It provides expert advice, training and grants support to developing countries, with increasing emphasis on assistance to the least developed countries. It promotes technical and investment cooperation among nations.

To accomplish the SDGs and encourage global development, UNDP focuses on poverty reduction, HIV/AIDS, democratic governance, energy and environment, social development, and crisis prevention and recovery.

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Pacific Islands Forum granted permanent Observer status

The Pacific Islands Forum has been granted approval to establish a Permanent Observer Office at the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG).

Mere Falemaka, the Permanent Representative in the Permanent Delegation of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) presented her letter of appointment as Observer to the UNOG in Geneva Tuesday to the UNOG Director-General Michael Moller.

Pacific Islands Forum, formerly (1971–2000) South Pacific Forum, organization established in 1971 to provide a setting for heads of government to discuss common issues and problems facing the independent and self-governing states of the South Pacific.

It comprises 18 members: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

In 2000 Forum leaders adopted the Biketawa Declaration, which was a response to regional political instability and which put forward a set of principles and actions for members to take to promote open, democratic, and clean government, as well as equal rights for citizens regardless of gender, race, colour, creed, or political belief.

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