Priyanka speaks for girl empowerment at UN Global Goals Awards

A UN Goodwill Ambassador and actor Priyanka Chopra spoke about girl child rights and empowerment at the UN Global Goals Awards in New York. In the event, Chopra presented the Leadership Award to Ria Sharma, the founder of Make Love Not Scars MLNS) group that works in supporting acid attack victims. While presenting the award to Sharma, the goodwill ambassador shared the advocacy of the MLNS group has ensured a Supreme Court verdict in favour of free treatment for acid victims.

According to the Times of India, Priyanka said,“Ria founded Make Love Not Scars (MLNS), which is an organization that actively supports survivors of acid attacks physically and mentally, and campaigns to raise awareness of the issue’. Ria’s efforts are contributing to change the lives of many women who have survived acid attacks,”

The 35-year-old National Award winner also met the youngest UNICEF goodwill ambassador, Muzoon Al-Mellehan, a Syrian activist and refugee working towards education for Syrian girls.

The event was an august gathering of world leaders from the fields of non-profits, business, media and the UN aimed at accomplishing the Sustainable Development Goals for girls and empowering them.

Sources: HT, TOI

Premium processing of US H-1B visas resumes

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recommenced processing H-1B visas five months after it had suspended the services temporarily to manage the rush of new petitions. The premium processing of the H-1B work visas will be in all categories but subject to the limit set by the Congress.

The upper limit set for FY 2018 is 65,000 H-1B visas. In addition, work has also begun on the annual 20,000 petitions to hire employees with a US higher educational degree. This service is only available for the pending request and not new submissions.

USCIS takes 15 days to clear the visa under premium processing. According to the Times of India, “If the 15-calendar day processing time is not met, the agency will refund the petitioner’s premium processing service fee and continue with expedited processing of the application,” the USCIS said.

The H-1B is a visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act that allows US companies to employ foreign workers possessing theoretical or technical expertise in speciality occupations. The visa is popular among the Indian IT professionals as technology companies use it to hire employees each year.

Sources: NDTV, TOI

White House rejects reports of US staying in Paris Climate Accord

The White House has denied the claims made by EU officials that US has agreed to stay in the Paris Climate Accord, stating that its position remains unchanged until it gets more favourable terms. This statement comes after ministers from 30 countries gathered at Montreal ahead of the United Nations climate summit in November.

The report that appeared on Wall Street Journal, mentioned European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete as saying that the US would not pull out of the Paris accord and review the terms of the deal.

However, according to the Guardian, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “There has been no change in the United States’ position on the Paris agreement. As the President has made abundantly clear, the United States is withdrawing unless we can re-enter on terms that are more favorable to our country.”

In June, Trump called the climate pact a bad deal for US and declared about pulling out US from the Paris Accord, as per his campaign promise. This caused major uproar among the world leaders and the science community. 

Sources: The Guardian, CBS

Chief litigant of Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid case Bhaskar Das passes away

The head seer of Nirmohi Akhada and the chief litigant in the Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid case, 89 years old Mahant Bhaskar Das died due to brain stroke in Ayodhya. The seer was a petitioner in the case since 1959 in which the Nirmohi Akhada had filed a claim for the ownership of the Ram Janmboomi land. With his death, both the chief litigants from both the sides – Hindu and Muslim have passed away. Hashim Ansari, the main litigant of the Muslim side had passed away in July 2016, at the age of 95 years. Das’ disciple mahant Ram Das is likely to take over as the chief litigant of the case.

On September 12, Das was admitted to a private medical facility after he complained of breathing problems. According to the Hindu, the seer was advised to be taken to a super-speciality hospital either in Lucknow or Delhi but he refused to leave Ayodhya.

Several local BJP and RSS leaders including former UPCC president Nirmal Khatri paid their homage to the seer. As a mark of respect, all shops in the Hanumangarhi area in Ayodhya have shut their business for the day.

The final rites and cremation would take place on September 16 at the Tulsi ghat in Ayodhya.

 Sources: The Hindu, India Today

Dubai invests $3.9 billion to build the world’s largest solar power project

In a bid to increase its share of clean energy, Dubai is all geared to build its largest Concentrated Solar Project (CSP) that would run a 700 megawatt (MW) solar power station and feature the world’s tallest tower measuring 260 metre to receive focussed sunlight. CSP technology uses mirrors or lenses to focus the sun’s light energy into heat to create steam that can run a turbine to generate electricity. A consortium consisting of Shanghai Electric and Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power have been awarded a $3.9 billion contract by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. The consortium proposed to supply electricity to the country at 7.3 U.S. cents per kilowatt hour.

The project is expected to be completed by late 2020, just in time for World Expo to be held in Dubai. It is part of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 and would be located at the Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Solar Park – the single site renewable energy project which is expected to generate 1,000MW by 2020 and 5000MW by 2030. The government targets to strategically increase its share of clean energy to 7 percent by 2020, 25 percent by 2010 and 75 percent by 2050.

News Sources- Economic Times, Reuters

Malay woman, Halimah Yacob becomes the first female president of Singapore

Singapore named 63-year-old Halimah Yacob, a political veteran, former speaker of parliament (2013) and former State Minister of Community Development, Youth and Sports (2011) as the first president without going into voting. Among the three presidential candidates she was most hopeful to win as the other two did not meet one of the minimum candidature requirement.

Born to an Indian-origin Muslim father and a Malay mother, she is also the first president from the minority Malay community. In a bid to bring diversity and harmony in the city-state of 5.5 million population that is largely dominated by ethnic Chinese; the Parliament approved a constitutional reform that stated if no candidate from a particular group has not occupied the post of President for 30 years then the presidential elections would be reserved for that community.  

Though the President holds a ceremonial post for six years, Yacob will take her oath of office on September 14 at the presidential residence and office in Istana.

Yacob’s win has raised criticism from many sections of the society on the strict eligibility rules; and the fact that citizens could not exercise their right to vote no elections were held.

News Source: Zee India, Financial Express

Image Source: The Strait Times

India ranks 103 in the Global Human Capital Index; the lowest ranks among BRICS nations

India has been placed in the low rung of 103th position on World Economic Forum (WEF)’s Global Human Capital Index and it is also the lowest among other BRICS nations (Russia at 16th place, China at 34th, Brazil at 77th and South Africa at 87th. India falls behind even Sri Lanka (70) and Nepal (98) and stays slightly ahead of Bangladesh (111) and Pakistan (125). Though last year, it was in 105th place.     

According to the Economic Times, “India is held back by a number of factors, including low educational attainment (primary education attainment among 25 -54 year olds is 110th for example) and low deployment of its human capital, meaning the skills available are not getting put to good use… India faces a number of challenges but looks to be moving in the right direction,

The Geneva based WEF’s report assesses 130 countries on how they are developing their human capital on four parameters – capacity, deployment, development and know-how and five different age groups – 0-14 years; 15-24 years; 25-54 years; 55-64 years; and 65 years and over. The scale of assessment ranges from 0 (worst) to 100 (best).

This year Norway has topped the list followed by Finland and Switzerland in the second and third position respectively. Last year Finland had secured the top position.

News Source: Economic Times, Business Standard

Image Source: Financial Express