IBPS will hold a Common Written Exam for recruitment of Probationary Officer on June 17, 2012. GK plays an important role and can make or break your chances of selection.

Here is a round up of international news that can help you answer some GK Questions.

Prime Minister visits Myanmar

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, paid a State visit to Myanmar from May 27 to 29, 2012 at the invitation of the President of Myanmar, U. Thein Sein. The Prime Minister was accorded a ceremonial welcome in capital Nay Pyi Taw. The visit of the Prime Minister the first after 25 years is a historic milestone in the relations between India and Myanmar.

The two leaders held a meeting, followed by delegation level talks on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest. During the official talks, the Prime Minister was assisted by the External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, National Security Adviser S Menon, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Pulok Chatterji, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, Ambassador of India to Myanmar Dr V.S. Seshadri and other senior officials.

The two sides reviewed the multifaceted bilateral relationship and took stock of developments since the very successful State visit of President U Thein Sein to India in October 2011. They expressed satisfaction at the ongoing official exchanges and the growing economic, trade and cultural ties, as well as people-to-people exchanges.

Singh congratulated the President of Myanmar on the path breaking reform measures taken towards greater democratisation and national reconciliation. He commended the on-going efforts at political, economic and social reform, which included negotiation of preliminary peace agreements with several ethnic groups as well as dialogue with various democratic political parties.

PM Singh on May 29 met Nobel laureate and Myanmar’s champion of democracy Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon. The two leaders discussed at length Myanmar’s ongoing political transformation. Later, Singh handed over to Suu Kyi a letter from Congress president Sonia Gandhi, inviting her to deliver the next Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture. Suu Kyi expressed hope that she would be able to take it up “before too long”.

Singh reiterated India’s readiness to extend all necessary assistance in accelerating Myanmar’s democratic transition and developing the capacity of democratic institutions such as the Parliament, National Human Rights Commission and the Media. Recalling the visit of a Parliamentary delegation led by Thura U Shwe Mann, Speaker of Pyithu Hluttaw, to India in December 2011, the Prime Minister conveyed India’s readiness to undertake training programmes for Myanmar Parliamentarians and staff.

Singh paid tributes after offering chadar at the Mazar of Bahadur Shah Zafar, in Yangon, Myanmar on May 29, 2012. The Prime Minister also visited the Shwedagon Pagoda at Yangon.

The following instruments for enhancing bilateral cooperation were signed during the visit:
(i) Memorandum of Understanding regarding US$ 500 million Line of Credit
(ii) Air Services Agreement between India and Myanmar
(iii) Memorandum of Understanding on the India-Myanmar Border Area Development
(iv) Memorandum of Understanding on Establishment of Joint Trade and Investment Forum
(v) Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of the Advance Centre for Agriculture Research and Education (ACARE)
(vi) Memorandum of Understanding on Establishment of Rice Bio Park at the Department of Agricultural Research in Nay Pyi Taw
(vii) Memorandum of Understanding towards setting up of Myanmar Institute of Information Technology
(viii) Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation between Dagon University and Calcutta University
(ix) Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation between Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies and Indian Council of World Affairs.
(x) Agreement on Cooperation between Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies and Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis.
(xi) Cultural Exchange Programme ( 2012-2015)
(xii) Memorandum of Understanding on establishing of Border Haats across the border between Myanmar and India.

Caretaker regime in charge in Nepal

Four years after being elected, Nepal’s Constituent Assembly (CA) got dissolved on May 26, 2012 without delivering a statute. Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai’s Cabinet decided to hold fresh elections on November 22 for a new CA.

Consultations among the Maoists, the Nepali Congress (NC), the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) and the Madhesi front ended without an agreement. The parties failed to reach an agreement on the contentious issue of federalism. The Maoist-Madhesi combine sought a firm commitment that the 10- state model or the 14-state model, recommended by the constitutional commission and committee respectively, would be guaranteed as the basis for federal restructuring. The Janjati MP caucus also agreed to have multiple names — one ethnic and one neutral — in the hill provinces, a key demand of the NC and the UML. But the NC and the UML favoured promulgating the Constitution with an in-principle commitment to federalism, while leaving the contentious issues such as numbers, names and boundaries of the states to a transformed legislative-parliament.

Nepal’s President Ram Baran Yadav has termed the current Baburam Bhattarai-led government as a caretaker arrangement. A statement issued by the President’s office on May 27, 2012 notified the government’s decision to call elections for a new Constituent Assembly (CA). Earlier the Chairman of the CA had also informed the office of the President that the term of the CA and Legislative-Parliament had ended. The government’s letter had referred to the Supreme Court verdict which had ruled out further extension of the CA, and said that if the Constitution was not promulgated, one option was fresh elections.

Google alerts China searchers on censored terms

Google on June 1, 2012 said it had tuned its search engine in mainland China to tip people off when they try to use characters that evidently prompt censors to derail queries. The change resulted from complaints that Google search service in China was inconsistent or unreliable. Pop-up messages tell users in China when they enter query keywords that may cause “connection issues. Google does not suggest alternative search terms. It is left to users, if they are so inclined, to come up with alternative characters or words to continue Internet searches.

Simplified Chinese language characters more often triggered connection trouble, according to Google. Searches using characters that also happened to be in names of current or former national leaders, for example one meaning “river,” also were prone to delays in getting results. When alerted to a problematic query term, users are given the option to click on an “interruption” link that leads to a help center.

Two years ago, Google effectively shut down its Chinese search engine, redirecting mainland users to a landing page that provides a door to its uncensored site in Hong Kong. Google at the time said the move resulted from censorship and cyber-attacks. The change came after months of tension between Google and Beijing over the US firm’s efforts to skirt an army of government censors who police the Web for content deemed inappropriate or unacceptable. Beijing has denied any role in the cyber-attacks which Google said had targeted Gmail accounts of Chinese dissidents and deemed it “totally wrong” to stop filtering its Chinese—language search engine.

SpaceX Dragon returns to Earth

The world’s first commercial space cargo carrier returned to Earth on May 31, 2012, ending its revolutionary voyage to the International Space Station with an old-fashioned splashdown in the Pacific. The unmanned SpaceX Dragon capsule parachuted into the ocean about 800 km off Mexico’s Baja California, bringing back more than a half-tonne of old station equipment. It was the first time the U.S. space agency, NASA, received a large load from the orbiting space station since its space shuttles stopped flying last year.

The return capped a test mission that began with the May 22 launch aboard the SpaceX Company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Florida and continuing through the space station docking three days later and the departure just six hours before it hit the water. Billionaire Elon Musk is the founder of SpaceX. The Dragon represents NASA’s future as laid out by President Barack Obama. He wants routine orbital flights turned over to private business so the space agency can work on getting astronauts to asteroids and Mars. NASA astronauts are currently forced to hitch rides on Russian rockets from Kazakhstan, an expensive outsourcing, especially after a half-century of manned launches from U.S. soil. It will be up to SpaceX or another U.S. enterprise to pick up the reins. Several companies are competing for first place. Rival Orbital Sciences Corp. hopes to have its first unmanned test flight off by year’s end, launching from Virginia. It also has a NASA contract for cargo runs.

Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft for carrying crews also parachutes down, but on land, deep inside Kazakhstan. All of the government-provided cargo vessels of Russia, Europe and Japan are filled with station garbage and burn up on descent.

UNHRC condemns El-Houleh incident in Syria

India and 41 other countries voted for a resolution “strongly condemning’’ the recent El-Houleh incident, which resulted in the death of over a hundred civilians including women and children, at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on June 1, 2012. The vote came a day after the Head of the U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria Gen. Robert Mood praised Damascus for the release of detainees who were discharged on May 31 in the presence of U.N. observers. Elaborating on India’s stance at the 19th Special Session of the UNHRC, Indian Permanent Representative Hardeep Puri said the El-Houleh incident underscores what the situation can lead to if there is any further delay in the complete cessation of violence. This was the fourth time that the Geneva-based U.N.-HRC has called an emergency meeting on Syria. In her address, High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Council Navi Pillay urged the international community to support the implementation of Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s Six-Point Plan and call for immediate probe into the El-Houleh killings besides other rights violations in Syria.

“World Hunger Day” observed

One billion people, one seventh of the world’s population live in extreme hunger and poverty and exist on less than $1.25 a day. Chronic, persistent hunger is not due merely to lack of food. It occurs when people lack opportunity to earn enough income, to be educated and gain skills, to meet basic health needs and have a voice in the decisions that affect their community. World Hunger Day, observed on May 28, 2012, is about raising awareness of this situation. It is also about celebrating the achievements of millions of people who are already ending their own hunger and meeting their basic needs.

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