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India- Afghanistan talks

In News:

  • India will host Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for consultations on stabilizing his war-torn country as well as coordinating strategy amid separate moves by countries in the region to broker peace between Kabul and the Taliban rebels.
  • The meeting will review the entire gamut of the multifaceted bilateral strategic partnership, including the New Development Partnership;
  • His visit comes amid moves by the US, Russia and China to revive Kabul-Taliban peace talks.
  • Recently US unveiled a revamped strategy to defeat the Taliban in which India is seen as key to bringing economic stability to Afghanistan.

Background:

  • Ghani is the third among a list of key visitors from Afghanistan in the past several weeks.
  • India’s national security adviser Ajit Doval was in Kabul on 16 October to meet his counterpart Hanif Atmar.
  • India is already the sixth largest donor to Afghanistan.
  • It has been involved in diverse development projects in infrastructure, education and agriculture.
  • Last month, India announced 116 new high-impact projects in Afghanistan with the aim of shoring up goodwill.

‘Paika Bidroha’ to be named as 1st War of Independence

In News:

  • The ‘Paika Bidroha’ (Paika rebellion) of 1817 will find a place in the history books as ‘the First War of Independence’
  • HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar had first made the announcement at a function to mark the bicentenary of the Paika rebellion.
  • Earlier, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had, in a letter to the Centre, urged that it should recognise ‘Paika Bidroha’ as the First War of Independence against the British rule as it took place four decades before the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny.

Background:

  • Paikas were peasant militia under the Gajapati rulers of Odisha who rendered military service to the king during times of war.
  • They rebelled against the British rule under the leadership of Bakshi Jagabandhu Bidyadhara as early as 1817.
  • The Paik rebellion had several social, economic and political reasons.
  • They were subjected to extortion and oppression at the hands of the company government and its servants.

New interlocutor for Kashmir dialogue

In News:

  • Former Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief Dineshwar Sharma, was appointed as the government’s special representative to carry forward a dialogue with all sections of the people in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • A top government source said Mr. Sharma was chosen as he is known to have moderate views and is committed to dialogue.
  • He was earlier appointed as an interlocutor for talks with Assam-based insurgent groups.

India, US to hold trade talks this week

In News:

  • India and the US will hold their first high-level engagement on trade after President Donald Trump took charge.
  • The Indian delegation led by trade minister Suresh Prabhu is likely to raise issues such as higher H-1B visa fees and the need for a totalization agreement, and stress on early deliverables such as easier rules to export mangoes to the US.

Background:

  • India had a trade surplus of $20 billion in 2016-17 with exports of over $42 billion to the US during the same financial year.
  • Indian officials maintain that the country’s trade surplus with the US is not due to any largesse by the latter, and because of a comparative advantage.
  • The Trump administration reworked the decade-old strategic and commercial dialogue with one in which the foreign and defence ministers will participate.
  • While India was keen to merge the commercial dialogue and the one under the Trade Policy Forum (TPF), the US found it difficult as it has two minister-level trade officials.

Totalization agreement:

Totalization agreement will allow temporary Indian workers in the US to repatriate their social security contributions when they leave the country.

H-1B Visa:

  • The H-1B is a visa in the United States which allows U.S. employers to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.
  • US’ plans to scrap the visa or raise the minimum salaries would hurt India’s export led growth.
  • In 2017, the U.S. Congress considered more than doubling the “minimum wage” required of an H1B holder.

TRAI to approach I&B ministry to fast track recommendations on broadcasting

In News:

  • In a bid to push reforms in the broadcasting sector, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has decided to approach the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry to take a call on a range of recommendations pending with latter.
  • In one of the recommendations, the regulator has proposed barring Central and state government-funded entities from entering the business of broadcasting or distribution of TV channels.
  • In another, it has recommended regulatory framework for radio audience measurement.

Background:

  • In 2014, the regulator had submitted recommendations on media ownership rules across television, radio and print mediums and internal plurality of news.
  • In 2015, Trai had proposed increasing the licence duration of DTH firms to 20 years and reducing their annual fee to 8% of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) from 10% of gross revenue.
  • As for digital terrestrial transmission, the regulator had proposed a road map for the process by opening the space to private broadcasters, earlier this year.

TRAI:

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is the regulator of the telecommunications sector in India.TRAI is administered through a Secretariat headed by a secretary. It’s mission is to create and nurture conditions for growth of telecommunications in India to enable the country to have a leading role in the emerging global information society.