Friday, March 18, 2016

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GENPACT’sOlympic Gold Quest to Support Women Athletes to Win at the 2016 Olympics
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Myanmar’s new president slashes ministries

The first major policy proposal by Myanmar’s President-elect Htin Kyaw will see the number of ministries slashed by more than a third, the union parliament announced Thursday.
The new, streamlined list sees many ministries being merged while three ministries under the previous government would be abolished, reducing the total number of ministries from 36 to 21.
Only one new ministry was proposed, covering ethnic affairs, another signal from the incoming government of the National League for Democracy (NLD) that it takes seriously the issue of Myanmar’s ethnic diversity.
It is estimated that ethnic minority groups account for 30 to 40 percent of Myanmar’s 51 million population. They mainly live in the resource-rich borderlands and hill areas, some of which have been struggling with armed conflicts going back decades.
The six ministries of the President’s Office would be merged into a single Ministry of the President’s Office. Ministries covering sports, cooperatives and science and technology would be abolished.
However, the Ministry of Information, criticised as a government propaganda machine, would be retained.
After winning the November elections in a landslide, NLD officials have repeatedly said the party would downsize the new cabinet, but assured that civil service staff would not lose their jobs.
The names of the new ministers are expected to be announced in parliament next week.
The NLD will only be able to appoint 18 ministers because under the constitution, ministers for home affairs, defence and border affairs are chosen by Myanmar’s commander-in-chief.
The new government will take office on April 1 for its five-year term.
April 1 for its five-year term.
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Italy passes draft law aimed at curbing food waste

Italian deputies have approved a new law aimed at curbing food waste, AFP reported. The legislation would make it easier for supermarkets, wholesalers, and farmers to give unsold products to charities by reforming complicated tax rules, which currently act as a barrier to such donations. It will also relax some food safety regulations, enabling the distribution of products in the window between their “sell by” and “use by” dates. The draft law, which aims to double the amount of food handed out, is expected to be approved after examination by the Senate. Italy currently throws away an estimated 12 billion euros (US$13.5 billion) worth of food products each year.
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Australia PM expected to dissolve both houses

Australia PM expected to dissolve both houses .
On Friday, Australia’s Senate passed voting reforms after a marathon session lasting over 28 hours. The move clears the way for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to dissolve both houses of parliament and call an early election to end a hostile Senate, Reuters said. Independent and minor party senators elected at the last election in 2013 have stalled key aspects of the government’s agenda. They include changes that would make higher education and health care more expensive and limit access to welfare. The voting reforms would make it harder for smaller parties to enter parliament through vote sharing deals.
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US embassy in Moscow warns citizens of terrorist threat

The US embassy in Moscow has reminded US citizens of remaining terrorist threat in Europe, including in Russia, RIA Novosti reported. A special notice was issued on Friday reminding of the recent US State Department’s updated security message, according to the embassy’s press-secretary, William Stevens. The State Department warned on March 4 that “all European countries remain vulnerable to attacks from transnational terrorist organizations.” US embassies around the world regularly share information with American citizens regarding security, Stevens said.
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Highlights from the local media

Highlights from the local media of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka

March 18th, 2016 | Volume: 2 – 14/3
 Top Stories​
Mullah Rasool says will not participate in peace talks led by Mullah Akhtar Mansoor
Khaama Press | 17th March
The dissident Taliban leader Mullah Rasool has said he will not participate in peace talks with the government which is led by the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor. “Earlier we were thinking that the Afghan Government wanted peace talks with all Taliban, but when we saw that it is interested only in making peace with Mullah Mansur because of the dictates of the Pakistani Government, we decided we cannot start peace talks with the Afghan Government,” Rasool said.
India, Pakistan agree to probe Pathankot terror attack jointly
The Kathmandu Post | 17thn March
India and Pakistan have agreed to conduct a joint investigation on Pathankot terror attack starting March 28. In a statement to the media following the meeting on the sideline of the 37th Ministerial Meeting of Saarc that concluded in Pokhara on Thursday, Swaraj said that the Pakistani joint investigation team established to probe the Pathankot terror attack will reach India on March 27 and begin work the following day.
Pakistan desires to see Turkmenistan join CPEC
The Express Tribune | 18thMarch
Pakistan is keen to see Turkmenistan join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in order to promote linkages with the southern port of Gwadar and the Arabian Sea, says the minister of commerce.
AFGHANISTAN
Delegation representing Gulbuddin Hekmatyar arrives in Kabul for talks
Khaama Press | 17th March
A delegation of Hezb-e-Islami party arrived in Kabul today to hold talks with the Afghan High Peace Council, nearly a week after the group announced to participate in reconciliation process. The delegation also called on other militant groups to join talks and peace process with the Afghan government.
NATO Chief Predicts another Tough Year Ahead for Afghanistan
Daily Outlook Afghanistan | 17th March
The head of NATO on Wednesday predicted a difficult fight ahead for Afghanistan as the government continues to battle the Taliban and other militant factions trying to assert their presence in the war-ravaged country.
BANGLADESH
Anti-liberation forces can’t misguide people, says Prime Minister Hasina
Bdnews24 | 17th March
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina says anti-liberation forces and war criminals are now unable to misguide the people of Bangladesh with their conspiracies.  “Bangladesh is marching on the path of development as war criminals are being tried. Their (anti-liberation force) conspiracies continue. But they cannot misguide the people with that anymore,” she has said.
Indian gasoil for Bangladesh as ‘goodwill gesture’
Bdnews24 | 17th March
The train carrying the first consignment of Indian gasoil to Bangladesh as a “goodwill gesture” has been flagged off.India’s Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister (Independent Charge) Dharmendra Pradhan flagged off the train carrying 2200 tonnes of gasoil from Siligurhi on Thursday, the Indian High Commission says.
Bangladesh second highest remittances recipient from Malaysia
The Financial Express | 17th March
Bangladesh was the 2nd top recipient of remittances from Malaysia during the period of 2011 to 2015. Malaysian Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani said Indonesia was the top recipient of remittances during the period. Indonesia and Bangladesh are followed by Nepal, India and the Philippines, reports Bernama.
Bhutan exported $9.57m minerals to Bangladesh in 2015
The Financial Express | 17th March
Bhutan exported minerals worth US $9.5 7 million to Bangladesh last year (2015), a three per cent increase from the previous year. In 2014, the country exported minerals worth US D9.21 million. Although limestone and dolomite topped the list of exports, demand for boulders and chips doubled that further enhanced the export figures.
BHUTAN
Bhutan 84th happiest country in the world
Kuensel| 17th March
Bhutan may be known as the happiest country in the world, but according to a UN happiness report, it is ranked 84 out of 157 countries around the world. Roughly 3,000 respondents in each country including Bhutan were asked to evaluate their current lives on a scale where 0 represents the worst possible life and 10, the best possible. Overall, Bhutan scored 5.196 in the “happy index”. The happiest country in the world, Denmark scored 7.526 points.
Power grid break up behind yesterday’s blackout
Kunesel| 17th March
Tripping power transmission grid lines in West Bengal and partially in Assam, India was the cause of the blackout yesterday and on Tuesday. Most parts of western Bhutan, Phuentsholing, Paro and Thimphu were left in the darkness for more than an hour yesterday and for about 30 minutes on Wednesday night. The transmission lines connected to the Chukha hydropower plant and Kurichhu hydropower plant were disturbed disrupting power connections in the dzongkhags. 
MALDIVES
Maldives pres admits need for judicial reform, denies influence
Haveeru Online | 16th March
President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom admitted Wednesday the dire need for judicial reforms, but quickly sought out to dismiss opposition allegations that he had influenced court cases. Speaking in Alif Dhaal atoll Maamigili, president Yameen singled out moves such as increasing the number of judges, improving the standard of judges and amending relevant legislation as much needed reform measures for the judiciary.
Abu Dhabi Fund to loan USD 40 mn for airport development
Sun Online | 17th March
Finance Ministry has said that Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) had agreed to loan USD 40 million (MVR 616.8 million) for development of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport. Finance Ministry released a statement on Thursday saying that the commitment was provided by ADFD during the discussions held by senior officials from ADFD and Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad last Monday, during his visit to Saudi Arabia.
MYANMAR
What the public expects from Myanmar’s new government: survey
Mizzima| 17th March
fter Parliament voted in U Htin Kyaw as president this week, to stand in for National League for Democracy (NLD) chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi, we take a close look at the findings of a survey carried out by Merdeka Center, in collaboration with Mizzima Media Group – just prior to the November elections – that probed people’s hopes for the new government and the country. Myanmar has been enveloped in a sense of euphoria in the wake of the landslide victory of the NLD, yet tempered by concerns about how the transition will play out and what can be expected of the new government.
Alternative ASEAN Network critical of Myanmar government’s response to UN rights review
Mizzima| 17th March
Myanmar’s extremely disappointing response to its second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN confirmed the outgoing government’s unwillingness to address the country’s key human rights challenges, FIDH and its member organization ALTSEAN-Burma said March 17.
NEPAL
Madhes crisis: Swaraj enquires about progress
The Kathmandu Post | 18thn March
Visiting Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has enquired about the progress made on addressing the demands of the agitating Madhes-based parties. Swaraj showed interest over the progress made by the high-level political mechanism, which was formed in February, to resolve the row over federal boundaries.
PM singles out poverty as main enemy of South Asia
Himalayan News Service / The Himalayan Times | 18th March
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli today singled out poverty as the main enemy of South Asia that has thwarted development and prosperity in the entire region of over 1.6 billion people. PM Oli is the incumbent Chair of SAARC, with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as members. He highlighted the need of structural transformation to achieve prosperity and success in fight against poverty and backwardness.
Next Summit date confirmed
The Kathmandu Post | 18th March
Concluding the four-day meeting of Saarc Standing Committee at the foreign secretary level and Council of Ministers on Thursday, members approved Amjad Hussain B Sial, a career diplomat of Pakistani Foreign Service, as the of new Saarc secretary general. The 19th Saarc Summit will be held in Pakistan on November 9 and 10 this year, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa, the current chair of the Council of Ministers announced after the meeting.
UNSG Moon positive about visiting Nepal in Buddhism Summit
The Kathmandu Post | 17th March
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is positive about attending the upcoming International Buddhism Summit in Nepal in May 2016. Nepal Government is organising an international Buddhism Summit on the occasion of Buddha Purnima on May 19 and 20.
PAKISTAN
‘Lack of substance’ preventing Putin’s visit to Pakistan, says Russian ambassador
DAWN | 18th March
Moscow believes that there are still not enough reasons to justify Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Islamabad. “The problem is that usually the purpose of the visit is not participation in ceremonies. The visit should have some substance,” Russian Ambassador Alexey Dedov said at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), where he was delivering a lecture on Pak-Russia relations.
Pakistan invites Indian PM Modi to SAARC summit in Islamabad
The News | 17th March
Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz on Thursday met India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on the sidelines of SAARC meeting. During his meeting with Indian counterpart, Aziz handed over an invitation for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to SAARC summit to be held in Pakistan.
EU envoy calls on Gen Raheel Sharif
The News | 17th March
Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellibin, European Union Special Representative and Head of the European Union Delegation for Afghanistan called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Raheel Sharif here at General Headquarters on Thursday. The EU Ambassador, during the meeting, appreciated successes of operation Zarb-e-Azb against the local and foreign terrorists. He also lauded the efforts of Pakistan for regional stability.
SRI LANKA 
Sri Lanka calls for a robust multi-dimensional cooperation in South Asia
Colombo Page| 17th March
Reiterating its commitment towards South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Sri Lanka today assured that its engagement with SAARC remains a high priority and called for regional cooperation and integration among the SAARC nations to improve competitiveness and productivity.
Sri Lanka is happier in 2016 – World Happiness Report
Colombo Page| 17th March
Sri Lanka has become happier this year according to the 2016 World Happiness Report released Thursday. The Fourth World Happiness Report, which is an update to its third annual report in 2015, provides a fuller accounting of the distribution of happiness among people within each country and region. The 2016 update ranks Sri Lanka at 117th position with 4.415 points, 15 notches up from the 132nd position in 2015 with 4.271 points.
India provides financing stop-gap before IMF program
Daily News| 18th March
Sri Lanka received a $700 million currency swap from India on March 10, through the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), two days after securing a $400 million swap under the RBI’s South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) facility.
Fonseka: Rajapaksas had no say in making battlefield decisions * UN claims denied
The Island| 17th March
Denying UN accusations that the army had massacred over 40,000 civilians during the last phase of the ground offensive on the Vanni east front in 2009, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, MP, yesterday stressed that there was absolutely no basis for war crimes charges.
Sri Lanka tells Australia to protect the rights of migrants
Colombo Gazette| 18th March
Sri Lanka has urged Australia to protect the human rights of migrants in accordance with its international commitments. Speaking during the Universal Periodic Review on Australia at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Sri Lankan delegation expresses appreciation to Australia for its constructive engagement during the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review.

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