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September 23, 2017

‘Russia can assist India in curbing Blue Whale menace’

  • Michael J. Gobartov, Vice Consul, Consulate General of Russian Federation in Southern India, and Director, Russian Centre of Science and Culture, on Friday informed the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) that Russia would render assistance to India in curbing the dangerous Blue Whale Challenge game, which originated in his country.
  • The court was hearing a suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) petition initiated by it following the recent suicide of a Madurai-based college boy, who had allegedly taken to the Blue Whale Challenge.
  • In the report submitted to the court, through R. Rajagobal, advocate and Chairman, Indo-Russian Centre for Rural Development, the Vice Consul stated that the Government of Russia and the Consulate are willing to render their assistance to the High Court and the Government of Tamil Nadu, and are willing to take instructions in putting an end to the game, which had turned into a wild subculture, according to the Consul.

‘Available elsewhere too’

  • However, he submitted that the competent government authority’s decision to block the Russian social media site VKontakte (VK) was not wise as the Blue Whale Challenge content, which first surfaced on VK, was now available on other platforms as well.
  • The Consul stated that all the discovered suicidal groups of VK had been blocked and the ones that existed were moderated in the Russian language, including the game tasks. Since the language was Russian, and with very few Indian users, he said only the [relevant] content should have been blocked rather than the social media site itself.
  • The Division Bench of Justices K.K. Sasidharan and G.R. Swaminathan, which had initiated the suo motu PIL, had directed the Centre to use the diplomatic relationship it shared with Russia to block the URLs and links to the game.

Govt to strengthen ‘Korea Plus’ cell to strengthen FDI from S.Korea

  • Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu said the Centre was keen to facilitate more investments from South Korea and would strengthen the “Korea Plus” cell in this regard. “Korea Plus” is an initiative between the governments of India and South Korea to promote Korean investments in India. Mr. Prabhu said India’s ties with Korea also assumed “great significance” in the context of India’s pursuance of an ‘Act East Policy’.

Hasina floats five-point peace plan

  • Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has floated a five-point proposal at the United Nations to find a permanent solution to the Rohingya crisis.
  • Emphasising swift action to resolve the crisis in her speech at the 72nd UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on Thursday, she called for immediate steps to end the ‘cleansing’ of the ethnic Rohingya minority. She was at the centrestage at the UNGA this year, with the Rohingya crisis deepening along Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar, a crossing made by over 430,000 refugees fleeing violence in Rakhine State in past over three weeks.
  • Hasina’s five-point proposal says:
    • Myanmar must stop the violence and the practice of ethnic cleansing in the Rakhine State unconditionally, immediately and forever;
    • the UN Secretary General should immediately send a fact-finding mission to Myanmar;
    • all civilians, irrespective of religion and ethnicity, must be protected in Myanmar;
    • for this, ‘safe zones’ could be created inside Myanmar under UN supervision;
    • sustainable return of all forcibly displaced Rohingyas in Bangladesh to their homes in Myanmar must be ensured; and
    • the recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission Report must be implemented immediately, unconditionally and entirely.

‘Take them back’

  • Before her speech at the UNGA general debate, she cleared Bangladesh’s stance over the protracted Rohingya crisis at several meetings at the UN Headquarters in New York. At the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) Contact Group meeting on Tuesday, she demanded Myanmar take back the refugees and end ‘state propaganda’ that labelled the ethnic group as ‘Bengalis’.
  • Hasina thanked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council for their attempts to stop atrocities, and bring peace and stability in Rakhine. She added, “We are horrified to see that the Myanmar authorities are laying land mines along their stretch of the border to prevent the Ronhingya from returning to Myanmar.”