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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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Donald Trump sworn-in as 45th US President

Donald Trump was sworn-in as the 45th President of the United States on 20 January 2017. He was administered the oath of office by Chief Justice John Roberts.
●    In the ceremony, Trump placed his left hand on two bibles including the historic Abraham Lincoln Bible and recited the oath of the office to become the most powerful man on this Earth.
●    With this swearing-in, Trump took over the reins from Barack Obama amid expectations of radical change in policies and apprehension at home and abroad.
●    Apart from Trump, Mike Pence was also sworn-in as the Vice President of the United States. He took the oath of the office before Trump.
●    The oath-taking ceremony was held in front of about 8 lakh people who visited the National Mall in the centre of the capital to celebrate the occasion.
 

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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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Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning's Sentence

Chelsea Elizabeth Manning, the army intelligence analyst convicted of a 2010 intelligence leak, has had her remaining prison sentence commuted by President Obama. Under the terms of Obama's commutation, Manning is set to be released in five months, on May 17th, rather than in 2045.
●    By threatening solitary confinement as a punishment for attempted suicide, United States Armed Forces could violate whistleblower's Eighth Amendment rights
●    Manning, who came out as trans in 2013, was originally sentenced to 35 years in prison for violating the Espionage Act, when, as a private first class in the military, she leaked more than 100,000 classified government documents to WikiLeaks.
●    Manning was transferred to Fort Leavenworth in 2011, and during the seven years she was incarcerated, she tried to kill herself twice. 
●    The news of the commutation comes several days after Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, tweeted that he would agree to extradition if Obama granted clemency to Manning. 
●    The Daily Mail also reported that fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden also appealed to Obama on Manning's behalf.
 

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Ecuador takes chair of UN group of 134 developing countries

Ecuador on 14 January 2017 took over the chair of the United Nations Group of 77. 
●    It took the charge of Group of 77 from Thailand.
●    Thailand Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said that in 2016 his country focused on how to implement the 17 UN goals for 2030, which would help in promoting development and good governance, and preserve the environment. 
●    Thailand passed the baton of the group to Ecuador.
●    New Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the G-77 is his "preferred forum" to implement his vision including seeing the new goals become reality and reforming UN operations.
●    The Group of 77 (G77) at the United Nations is a coalition of developing nations. 
●    It was designed to promote its members' collective economic interests and create an enhanced joint negotiating capacity in the United Nations.
●    In short G77 promotes the interests of the 134 developing countries it represents at the United Nations, including China.
 

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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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Obama ends ‘wet foot, dry foot’ immigration policy

United States President Barack Obama has ended a two-decade-old “wet foot, dry foot” immigration policy that allowed Cuban migrants who reach the American soil illegally to to stay and become legal residents, a significant step towards normalising relations with its former Cold War foe.
●    The repeal of the long-standing immigration policy, coming in the last days of the Obama administration, is effective immediately.
●    Effective immediately, Cuban nationals who attempt to enter the United States illegally and do not qualify for humanitarian relief will be subject to removal, consistent with U.S. law and enforcement priorities.
●    The decision follows months of negotiations focused in part on getting Cuba to agree to take back people, who had arrived in the U.S.
●    The “wet foot, dry foot” policy mostly allows Cubans who reach U.S. soil to stay in the country. Those caught at sea are returned to Cuba.
●    The Cuban government praised the move. 
●    The decision is expected to weigh upon the strategy of President-elect Donald Trump, who had vowed to renegotiate ties with Cuba.
 

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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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Obama bids farewell

President Barack Obama on 10th Jan 2017 issued a rallying cry to preserve and protect U.S. democracy, urging Americans to remain “vigilant, but not afraid” and to reject complacency and fear.
●    Obama had billed his farewell address ― his final public speech as president ― as a path forward under President-elect Donald Trump. 
●    Obama only mentioned Trump by name early in the speech, noting his commitment to the transition of power. 
●    But many of his cautions appeared directed at his successor, particularly his reminder that “democracy can buckle when we give in to fear,” and his apparent references to Trump’s campaign of divisiveness and fear mongering against minority groups.
●    Obama framed his address as a prescription for democracy. 
●    He said threats to the country’s foundation include income inequality, racism and bigotry, political polarization, the jettisoning of facts and reason in political discourse, and low levels of civic engagement.

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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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