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India ranks 78th in Global Passport Index

The Indian passport in the third week of January 2017 was ranked 78th in a global ranking of the world’s most powerful passports. The visa-free score of India is 46.
●    The list was topped by Germany with a visa-free score of 157. On the other hand, Singapore overtook South Korea and became the highest ranked Asian passport with a visa-free score of 156.
●    Pakistan and China ranked 94 and 66 in the list respectively.
●    The least powerful passport in the ranking was Afghanistan with a visa-free score of only 23.
●    An Indian passport is issued by the President of India to citizens of the Republic of India for travelling abroad.
●    It enables the bearer to travel internationally.
●    It also serves as proof of Indian citizenship as per the Passports Act (1967).
●    The Consular Passport & Visa (CPV), Division of the Ministry of External Affairs, is responsible for issuing Indian passports on demand to all eligible Indian citizens.
●    As of November 2014, around 60 million Indians hold valid passports.
 

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Adama Barrow sworn in as President of Gambia in Senegal

Adama Barrow on 19 January 2017 was sworn in as the third President of The Gambia at a ceremony in the Gambian embassy in Dakar, Senegal.
●    With the swearing in ceremony comes an event that marked The Gambia’s first change of presidency in 22 years. 
●    It is also the first change of presidency by democratic means since independence from Britain in 1965.
●    Barrow had won the 2016 Gambian presidential elections that were held in The Gambia on 1 December 2016.
●    Soon after the inauguration of Barrow in neighbouring Senegal, troops from a bloc of West African countries have entered Gambia in support of him.
●    Adama Barrow is a member of the United Democratic Party (UDP).
●    He served as the treasurer of the UDP and operated a real estate agency, before winning the presidential elections.
●    A coalition of seven opposition parties chose him as their endorsed candidate for the 2016 presidential election.
 

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India & Mauritius Sign MoU for Cooperation in the field of Cooperatives

The Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Radha Mohan Singh and Minister of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives, Govt. of Mauritius, Shri Soomil duth Bholah signed on MoU for Cooperation in the field of Cooperatives & related areas here today. 
●    The MoU will enable the two countries to collaborate in this vital sector and can significantly benefit thousands of Mauritians.
●    India offered to exchange its expertise and technology with Mauritius in agro industry, fisheries and dairy sector.
●    The two ministers expressed satisfaction at the historic, time-tested relationship between India and Mauritius which is anchored in linkages of culture and ancestry has grown from strength to strength over the years, adding that frequent high level visits have added significant momentum to the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
 

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Norway becomes 1st country to ban FM radio broadcasting

Norway became the first country to ban FM radio broadcasting. The northern county of Nordland on 11 January 2017 stopped radio broadcasting using analogue frequencies.
●    The primary reason behind banning FM radio broadcasting is government’s endeavour to offer a better radio service to the whole population.
●    Compared to FM radio broadcasting, digital audio broadcasting offers a wider range of broadcasting options and greater sound quality.
●    DAB allows for more channels on a given bandwidth, provides better reception and has significantly lower operating costs than traditional FM.
●    At present, there are 22 national digital stations in Norway including 20 smaller ones. However, the FM spectrum has room for a maximum of only five national stations.
●    As per an estimate of Norway’s culture ministry, the switch over will save 25 million US dollars a year.

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Yahoo to be renamed Altaba after Verizon deal

Yahoo confirmed on Monday that chief executive Marissa Mayer will quit the company's board after its merger with Verizon. 
●    Mayer is expected to remain with Yahoo's core business, which is being bought by the US telecom titan. 
●    Yahoo is selling its internet operations as a way to separate that from its more valuable stake in Chinese internet giant Alibaba. 
●    The share-tending entity, to be renamed Altaba Inc., will act as an investment company with its board reduced to five members, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 
●    Yahoo co-founder David Filo and Mayer will be among those resigning from the board, according to the filing. 

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Golden Globes 2017 awards given

Damien Chazelle’s daring, magical musical “La La Land” swept its way through the Golden Globes on Sunday night, winning all seven of its nominated categories: best picture comedy/musical, lead actor honors for Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, and awards for director, screenplay, song and score.
●    In doing so, it broke the record shared by two 1970s movies: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Midnight Express,” both of which won six Globes, including one category — acting debut — that no longer exists.
●    Now, naysayers could grouse and note that “La La Land” was off by its lonesome in the comedy/musical categories, separated from the other two awards season front-runners, 
●    With Oscar ballots out now with voters, the Globes ceremony offered plenty of evidence — beyond the record-breaking number of trophies — that “La La Land,” a film sporting two romantic, struggling artists at its core, has become the movie of the moment in a way that usually translates into academy gold.
 

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Record 5 Indian Americans take oath as US Congress members

A record five Indian-Americans took oath as members of the US Congress.
●    52-year-old Kamala Harris was sworn in on Tuesday as the Senator from California by outgoing US Vice President Joe Biden. 
●    Harris, decided against seeking re-election. 
●    Four Indian Americans were sworn in as its members, including Congressman Ami Bera.
●    In the process he equalled the record of Dalip Singh Saundh, who exactly 60-years ago became the first Indian American to be elected as a member of the US Congress. 
●    Joining Bera were young and dynamic Ro Khanna representing the Silicon Valley. 
●    Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, who won the election from Illinois took the oath on Gita.
●    Ms Gabbard, the first ever Hindu to be elected to the US Congress took the oath for third consecutive term. 
●    Pramila Jayapal is also the first Indian American woman in the US House of Representatives. Her 78-year-old mother, who especially came in from India, watched the proceedings from the gallery.
 

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UNSC endorses Syria Ceasefire by Russia and Turkey

The United Nations Security Council on Saturday welcomed a ceasefire in the Syrian civil war, but rebel groups threatened to abandon the two-day-old truce if violations persisted.
●    A resolution welcoming the ceasefire, the third truce this year seeking to end nearly six years of war, was adopted unanimously by the 15-member Council, meeting in New York.
●    The deal, brokered by Russia and Turkey, which back opposing sides, reduced violence, but firefights, airstrikes and shelling went on in some areas.
●    A twin suicide bombing killed at least two people in the Syrian coastal city of Tartous in an area under government control and in President Bashar al-Assad's coastal heartland shortly after midnight on Sunday, state media and monitors reported.
●    The attack killed at least two security officers and wounded several other people when two suicide bombers blew themselves up after being stopped, Syrian state media reported, in the first targeting of the area for several months.
 

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U.S. calls Pakistan student group wing of banned Lashkar-e-Taiba

The United States on Wednesday announced it was adding the student wing of the Pakistan-based militant organization, Lashkar-e-Taiba, to its list of "foreign terrorist organizations."Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), or Army of the Pure, is an anti-Indian militant group with historical ties to Pakistan's top spy agencies. 
●    It has been accused of orchestrating numerous attacks, including a 2008 assault in Mumbai that killed 166 people, six of them Americans.
●    The State Department announced that it amended the designation of LeT as a "foreign terrorist organization" to include what it called the group's student wing.
●    "Since the original designation occurred, LeT has repeatedly changed its name and created front organizations in an effort to avoid sanctions," the State Department said, adding that the student group aided senior LeT leaders in recruiting and other activities.
●    The State Department action subjected the student group to sanctions, including a ban on Americans providing or attempting to provide it with material support.
●    The Treasury Department said it was adding Muhammad Sarwar and Shahid Mahmood to the U.S. list of "specially designated global terrorists," freezing any U.S. property or other assets they hold and banning Americans from doing business with them. 
●    Both are involved in fund-raising activities, it said.
●    Sarwar, the department said, is the LeT leader in Lahore and Mahmood is a senior LeT leader in Karachi and has routinely traveled outside Pakistan on the group's behalf.
 

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Colombia approves amnesty for thousands of FARC rebels

Colombia’s Congress passed a law on Wednesday offering amnesty to thousands of demobilizing Marxist guerrilla fighters accused of minor crimes in the country’s decades-long civil war.
●    The move is a key part of a revised peace deal between the government and the FARC rebels. 
●    It sailed through Congress after the right-wing opposition abstained from voting.
●    It means that the path is clear to guarantee the demobilization and disarmament of FARC members in the first half of next year,” said Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo. 
●    It’s no more and no less than the end of a 52-year conflict with the FARC. 
●    The FARC’s abandonment of arms is now in the hands of the United Nations so that the entire process of implementing the accords can begin.
●    Those found guilty of war crimes will not be eligible for the amnesty.
●    After four years of talks, the government and FARC agreed on a revised peace deal late November after the last one was rejected in a referendum. 

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