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South Asia: Connectivity connecting diplomacy

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The role of connectivity is immense. It cannot be undermined in phase of development. It is one of the basic prerequisite of imbu- ing a sense of nationalism and sustaining socioeconomic integration. The spirit of connectivity cuts across parochial tendencies and imparts a sense of belonging. It intertwines the fate of every locality into a single mainstream. In the era of globalization and information technology, the objectivity of connectivity has to be heavily applied in the realms of diplomacy also. The existing trends indicate that the role of connectivity in diplomacy is being marginalised. This is not encouraging. The diplomacy cannot be seen in isolation. Despite more than seven decades after the independence, India has not able to link its north-east region with the rest of the mainland in a proper manner. As a result of this the Act East Policy has not yielded desired results. But the latest launch of the GSAT-9 satellite could be a trend-setter in the annals of connectivity connecting diplomacy. This has consolidated India's "Neighborhood First" policy. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched 2,230-kg GSAT-9, a geostationary communications satellite.

Australian Open 2016

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Men’s single: Serbian World number one Novak Djokovic defeated Andy Murray in straight sets to win a record equalling sixth Australian Open title. The Serb swept to a 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (3) victory in two hours, 53 minutes to hand Murray his fifth defeat in the Australian Open final. Djokovic equalled the tally of Australia’s Roy Emerson, who won the tourna- ment six times between 1961 and 1967, an achieve- ment that has gone unmatched in the 49 years since. It was also Djokovic’s 11th Grand Slam title, and he moved into equal fifth place with Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg behind 17-time leader Roger Federer. Djokovic is continuing this year where he left off in 2015 when he won three of the four Grand Slam events, falling short only at the French Open, where he lost to Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka. Roland Garros is still the only Grand Slam event that the Serb has not won. Djokovic defeated JoWilfried Tsonga to win his first major title in 2008, outclassed Rafael Nadal in an epic final in 2012 along with his four wins over Murray in 2011, 2013, 2015 and now 2016. Murray becomes only the second man to lose five finals at the same Grand Slam joining former coach Ivan Lendl who lost five at the US Open. Women’s singles: The 28-year-old Angelique Kerber has created history by becoming the first German to win a grand slam title since her childhood idol Steffi Graf in 1999 when she defeated world number one the 34-year-old Serena Williams 6-4 3-6 6-4 to clinch the Australian Open. She has prevented Williams from securing her 22nd major title. Men’s doubles: In just their third tournament together, the 29-year-old Jamie Murray and Brazil’s 33-year-old Bruno Soares defeated the vastly more experienced Daniel Nestor of Canada and the Czech Radek Stepanek 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 to win the title. This was Murray’s third straight Grand Slam doubles final appearance, having finished runner-up at Wimbledon and the US Open with Australian John Peers. It was Soares’ second Grand Slam doubles final, having finished runner-up with Alexander Peya at the 2013 US Open. Women’s doubles: Top seeded women’s doubles pair of Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis overwhelmed Czech sev- enth seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 7-6 (1), 6-3 to win the Australian Open crown. It was the World No.1 doubles team’s 36th consecutive win and third straight Grand Slam victory after winning the Wimbledon and US Open last year. It was Sania’s second Australian Open title. She first won the mixed doubles title in 2009 with Mahesh Bhupathi. Sania has now six Grand Slam titles to her credit. It was the 35-year-old Martina’s 12th women’s doubles title.

East Asia Summit : Towards action-oriented regime

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map_usa.jpgThe East Asia summit (EAS) is a major forum for leaders in the region and it currently has 18 members. Besides the 10 countries in the ASEAN region and India, the other EAS members are Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the US and Russia. The EAS bloc represents 55 per cent of the world’s population and accounts for around 56 per cent of global GDP.

Latvia becomes :18th state to join the Eurozone

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Latvia has became the 18th member of the euro area, with half the former Soviet republic’s citizens opposing the currency switch and expectations of rising prices at a seven-year high. The eastern European nation with a population of just two million has been a member of the European Union (EU) free market since 2004, but finally got the green light to join the single currency zone last June, 2013. The euro is Latvia’s fourth currency in 23 years, following the Soviet rouble; the Latvian rouble, which was introduced after the country regained independence in 1991; and the lat, which came into circulation in 1992, resurrecting the money Latvia used before Soviet occupation in lativa.eps1940. It follows in the footsteps of two other former Soviet satellite sates, Estonia and Slovakia. The admission follows thorough examination of the country’s compliance with all relevant macroeconomic criteria. This represents an impressive achievement, which appears even more remarkable considering how hard the country was hit in 2009 by the global financial crisis. Latvia’s recovery illustrated several important points. It demonstrates what can be achieved with strong and determined political leadership. It is testimony to the remarkable resilience of the population which suffered severe decreases in income and living standards. But the major lesson, we believe, has been how consistent structural reform that improves the working of product and labour markets can enhance an economy’s ability to respond to adversity.

Why Latvia joined Eurozone: After joining NATO and the European Union in 2004, entering the Eurozone was seen as a natural step for Latvia’s political leadership, deepening the Western integration they have sought since Latvia and its Baltic neighbors, Estonia and Lithuania, broke away from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. For Latvia, the membership comes with several benefits, including reduced transactions and exchange rate costs when exporting to the euro zone, to which Latvia exports 30 per cent of its goods. Membership will also reduce the economic risk from the country’s large external financing requirements and high level of foreign exchange debt. Further, Latvia will likely become more attractive for foreign direct investment once it joins. This is partly because the cost of doing business with other euro zone countries will fall, making it more appealing for companies looking for a European base. But it is also because participation in a wider bloc may reassure investors the economy would be supported were it to flounder.

What the potential risks for Latvia after joining the Eurozone: With the joining of Eurozone, Latvia will lose control over its monetary policy and it will surely reduce Latvia’s ability to respond to economic shocks. This is a particularly important for Latvia given its small, open economy. However, the country does have a strong record on economic adaptation, given the success of the severe fiscal measures, internal devaluation and structural reforms it imposed following the crisis. The general public in Latvia doubts the membership because they doubt the benefits of harnessing the country to a zone mired in political and economic difficulties. Other concerns include price rises, inconvenience and loss of national sovereignty and identity.

Greece takes over the helm of the European Union: Greece has taken over as the President of the European Union for the next six months. Greece takes over the EU presidency at a particularly busy time, as agreements on a wide range of issues are needed before the end of the current European Parliament in April, 2014. Direct elections to Parliament will follow in all 28 countries in May, 2014 after which a new Commission will be selected. Over the next 6 months, Greece will chair hundreds of formal and informal meetings, provide a lead for complex negotiations and host 13 ministerial councils in Athens.

SCO Summit, 2012

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In search of identity

The 12th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was held in Beijing. During the summit, the SCO members – Russia, China, and Central Asian states discussed the issue of setting up a special fund and ways to have a significant role in stabilizing Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US led troops at the end of 2014. The summit was more significant as the organization had crossed the threshold of the second decade of its existence. It was founded on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan on the basis of the Shanghai Five active since 1996. Iran, India, Mongolia, Pakistan and now Afghanistan are the observer states. Belarus and Sri Lanka became SCO dialogue partners in 2010. The participation of officials representing the United Nations, the CIS, the Eurasian Economic Community and the Collective Security Treaty Organization gave the event a new dimension converting it into an international forum of global scale and importance.

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