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Prize Distribution Function of “Glimpses of India” Painting Competition, Cairo, 03 December 2019.

The Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC), Embassy of India, Cairo, in cooperation with Ministry of Education, Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt, held the prize distribution ceremonies of the ‘Glimpses of India’ Painting competition at Fayoum,  Mansoura,  Sharqiya and Cairo between 27 November and 1 December,2019. 

The award ceremonies for the first phase of the competition were held in Ismailia, Alexandria, Port Said and Minya governorates in October 2019. The award function in Cairo, held on 1st December at the Ministry of Youth and Sports Theatre, featured an exhibition of prize-winning entries. Ambassador Rahul Kulshreshth and Dr. Rabab Abdelmohsen Imam, General Manager, Art Education Development Department, Ministry of Education, awarded the prizes to the winners. Dr. Liyaqath Ali, Director, MACIC, honoured the jury members, sponsors and partners. A dance troupe from India led by Ms. Narmada Devi and sponsored by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations performed Manipuri dances on the occasion.

The Glimpses of India painting competition, held annually since 1994, marks the birth anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation, Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, India’s first Minister of Education. About 16,000 children in the age-group of 6-18 years from over 1600schools in twelve governorates participated in the painting competition this year. 225 prize-winning   entries   were selected by a seven-member jury under different categories. Prizes were also awarded to ten differently abled participants. The 2019 competition was supported by SCIB Paints, Monginis and Lava Mobiles.

Earlier, in October 2019, the Silver Jubilee of Glimpses of India painting competition was celebrated with the twelve Indian artists holding workshops and exhibitions for Egyptian students and attending a seminar on art in India and Egypt. Source: Embassy of India, Cairo.

Visit of Chief of The Air Staff to Egypt, New Delhi, 23 December.

Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria PVSM AVSM VM ADC, Chief of the Air Staff is on a bilateral goodwill visit to Egypt from 24 to 28 Dec 2019.

The Chief of Air Staff is scheduled to visit various operational and training establishments of the Egyptian Air Force and also interact with senior officials of the Egyptian Armed Forces.

The visit would provide an impetus towards enhancing defence cooperation between the two Air Forces as well as strengthening the long-standing bilateral relations between India and Egypt. Source: Press Information Bureau (PIB).


Second meeting of the Follow-up Committee between India, Afghanistan and Iran on the Chabahar Agreement, New Delhi, 20 December 2019.

The second meeting of the Follow-up Committee for implementation of the trilateral Chabahar Agreement between India, Afghanistan and Iran at the level of Joint Secretary/ Director General was held today in New Delhi.

All the three countries welcomed steady progress in port operations by India Ports Global Ltd company since the taking over of the port operations at Shaheed Beheshti Port at Chabahar in December 2018. It was recognized that over 5 lakh tons of cargo has been handled successfully. This includes exports from Afghanistan through Chabahar Port which began in February 2019.

It was also agreed to include Mormugoa and New Mangalore Port from India; in addition to JNPT, Mundra, Kandla and Cochin as part of designated route under the Chabahar Agreement.

A study will be conducted by Federation of Freight Forwarders’ Associations in India (FFFAI) to streamline cargo transit through Shahid Beheshti Port, Chabahar.

It was agreed to finalise the protocol to harmonise transit, roads, customs and consular matters. Till that time, the TIR Convention will continue to be used for cargo movement.

It was agreed to organize promotional and business events in Afghanistan and India to popularize Chabahar port.

It was agreed to hold the Third Follow-up Committee meeting in India in the first half of 2020 followed by the 2nd Coordination Council meeting. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

Visit of External Affairs Minister to Iran (December 22-23, 2019), New Delhi, 21 December 2019.

External Affairs Minister is visiting Iran on 22-23 December 2019 for the 19th Joint Commission meeting, which is co-chaired by Foreign Minister of Iran. During his visit, EAM is expected to call on President Rouhani of Iran. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

19th India-Iran Joint Commission Meeting, Tehran, 23 December 2019.

The 19th Session of the India-Iran Joint Commission was held in Tehran on 22 December 2019. It was co-chaired by External Affairs Minister of India Dr. S. Jaishankar and the Foreign Minister of Iran Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif.

During the Joint Commission Meeting the two Ministers reviewed and positively assessed progress in bilateral cooperation, including connectivity, trade and commerce, cultural and people-to-people contacts. They also exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest.

They expressed satisfaction at the progress achieved in operationalization of the Shahid Beheshti Port, Chabahar and recognized that it has a potential to act as a gateway between the Indian subcontinent, Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and Europe. They welcomed the utilization of the port for exports from Afghanistan and discussed ways to promote it for enhancing wider regional connectivity for trade and transit.

Both sides reiterated support for strengthening bilateral trade and commerce. In this context it was agreed to hold early meeting of the Joint Working Group on Trade and to finalize Preferential Trade Agreement, Bilateral Investment Treaty, and promote cooperation in customs matters.

It was agreed to take humanitarian approach in dealing with issues related to fishermen and sea-fearers.

Both sides shared concerns at the grave threat posed by terrorism and called for immediate end to all support to terror sanctuaries. They agreed that State aid, abetment and support to terrorism should be condemned.

Both sides expressed support for efforts to maintain peace, security and stability in the region.

It was agreed to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the bilateral Treaty of Friendship in 2020. In this context, both sides would promote exchanges between the Parliamentarians, organize cultural festivals, promote people-to-people contact and youth exchanges.

During his visit, External Affairs Minister called on the President of Iran, H.E. Dr. Hassan Rouhani today and also met Secretary, Supreme National Security Council, H.E. Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani and Minister for Roads and Urban Development, H.E. Mohammad Eslami. Source: Embassy of India, Tehran


Defence Purchases from Israel, New Delhi, 09 December 2019.

Capital procurement of defence equipment is undertaken from various domestic as well as foreign vendors, based on operational requirements of the Armed Forces to keep the Armed Forces in a state of readiness and to meet the entire spectrum of security challenges.

During last five financial years (2014-15 to 2018-19), 93 contracts have been placed on foreign vendors out of which 18 contracts have been signed with Israel for capital procurement of defence equipment for the Indian Armed Forces.

This information was given by Raksha Rajya Mantri Shri Shripad Naik in a written reply to Shri Ritabrata Banerjee in Rajya Sabha today. Source: Press Information Bureau (PIB).


Know India Seminar, Kuwait, 02 December 2019.

Embassy of India in Kuwait, in association with India Tourism, conducted a “Know India Seminar” on Sunday, 01 December 2019 at 7:00 pm at Hotel Radisson Blu, Kuwait. The event was well attended with the presence of a large number of distinguished guests comprising officials from the Government of State of Kuwait, representatives from the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry, leading tour operators, representatives from airlines, frequent tourists and travel bloggers from Kuwait, members of the media, representatives of lifestyle/travel magazines and members from the Indian Community in Kuwait.

Addressing the gathering, the Chief Guest of the Evening, Mr. Yousef Mustafa, Assistant Undersecretary, Tourism Sector, Ministry of Information, State of Kuwait, praised the bilateral relations between India and Kuwait and hailed the role played by people-to-people linkages in nourishing and strengthening the relationship over the years. In his address, Mr. Majdi Abu Omar, General Manager of Kuwait Travel & Tourism Agencies Association, spoke about India’s rich heritage and the myriad touristic options available for all kinds of travellers. Mr. Seetharaman Avany, Assistant Director, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, made a detailed presentation on India Tourism. In addition, the delegates from India delivered a presentation talking about latest product offerings from India.

His Excellency Mr. K. Jeeva Sagar, Ambassador of India to Kuwait, talked about India’s unique features, its rich and diverse geographic and cultural tapestry, the special connect between peoples of the two friendly countries, and invited industry representatives from both the countries to make use of this opportunity to explore collaboration opportunities so as to provide tourists with enhanced value offerings and seamless travel experience.

A brief interactive session, followed by B2B meetings, were also held during the event. The Seminar provided an excellent opportunity for all the industry participants in Kuwait to learn about the new developments taking place in the Indian tourism sector and also provided a unique platform for business networking. Source: Embassy of India, Kuwait.


Indian Embassy hosted ‘India-Oman Investment Meet to promote Bilateral Investments, Muscat, 12 December 2019.

Embassy of India, Muscat, hosted India-Oman Investment Meet on 11 December 2019 in the Embassy to promote bilateral investment.

The seminar was graced with the presence of Honourable Shri Saurabhbhai Patel, Minister of Energy, Government of Gujarat who led a 35-member strong Gujarat business delegation, H.E. Yahya Al Jabri, Chairman, SEZAD, Mr. Deepak Bagla, Managing Director and CEO, Invest India. The prestigious event was attended by around 250 prominent Omani businessmen and representatives of public sector organizations, investment funds, banks, business enterprises and institutions in Oman.

H.E. Munu Mahwar, Ambassador of India to the Sultanate of Oman, in his opening / welcome remarks emphasised the strong strategic partnership encompassing all dimensions under the wise leadership of H.M. Sultan Qaboos bin Said. And he further stressed that India continues to be an attractive destination for investment for international investors and Omani businesspersons should become partner in the growth story of India which will further enhance the bilateral relations.

The Meet highlighted the attractive investment opportunities in India and Oman. Mr. Deepak Bagla, Managing Director & CEO, ‘Invest India’ made a presentation to the august audience about Investment Opportunities in India and recent structural policy changes brought by Government of India which have far reaching impact on increasing the business opportunities for international investors. Some of the Government of India policy reforms have started showing results as India has moved from 130 rank in 2016 to 63 rank in 2019 in ‘Ease of Doing Business Ranking’ and has attracted Foreign Direct Investment of US$286.3 billion between 2014-18. Mr. Bagla said, “Good economics is in the centre of economics in India’ and invited the Omani business community to ‘start innovation hubs together’. He informed, ‘Invest India has facilitated investment worth US$175 billion in India.’ Honourable Shri Saurabhbhai Patel, Minister of Energy, Gujarat State and H.E. Yahya Al Jabri also addressed the gathering for promoting investments in each other’s country. INDEXTb, ITHRAA and SEZAD also made presentation highlighting the investment opportunities in Oman for the benefit of Indian business delegation.

‘Invest India’ is the official agency of the Government of India, set up in 2009, as a non-profit venture to promote, facilitate and to provide complete hand-holding for foreign investors in India. Invest India focuses on sector-specific investor targeting and development of new partnerships to enable sustainable investments in India. In addition to a core team that focuses on sustainable investments, Invest India also partners with substantial investment promotion agencies and multilateral organizations. Invest India also actively works with several Indian states to build capacity as well as bring in global best practices in investment targeting, promotion and facilitation areas. It is based in Delhi and can be contacted at:, , +91-11-23048155 for making investments in India. Source: Embassy of India, Muscat.

Visit of External Affairs Minister to Sultanate of Oman (December 23-25, 2019), New Delhi, 21 December 2019

External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar will visit Sultanate of Oman on 24 December 2019 at the invitation of H.E. Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, who last visited India in July 2017. During his visit, EAM, in addition to meeting his counterpart, will hold meetings with other ministers to discuss matters of mutual interest. An agreement for cooperation in the field Maritime Transport will be signed during the visit. EAM will also interact with the Indian community in Muscat during the visit.

The Sultanate of Oman is a strategic partner of India and the two countries are linked closely by geography, history and culture and enjoy warm and cordial relations attributed to historical maritime trade linkages as well as close links of the Oman’s Royal family with India. The visit of Prime Minister Modi to Oman in February 2018 was path breaking and has led to further consolidation of our close ties as well as identifying new areas of cooperation.

India is among Oman’s top trading partners. During 2018-19, bilateral trade was US$ 5 billion. In 2018, India was the second largest importer of crude oil from Oman. There are over 7,80,000 Indian citizens in Oman, second largest expatriate community in the country.

This will be the first visit of External Affairs Minister to Oman after the new government in India took over in May 2019. The visit is in pursuit of India’s objective of enhanced engagement with the Gulf region which is in India’s extended neighbourhood. It will provide an opportunity to hold in-depth discussions with the political leadership on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues and will advance India's growing engagement with Oman and the region. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).


Ambassador’s Choice: Film Festival” from December 5-18, 2019, Riyadh, 18 December 2019.

The eighth edition of the Embassy’s annual film festival titled “Ambassador’s Choice: Film Festival” was inaugurated on December 5, 2019 at the auditorium of the Embassy. Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Hon’ble Member of Parliament and India’s Sherpa to G-20 graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. The inaugural event was attended by a number of Saudi nationals, Ambassadors, other members of diplomatic corps and members of Indian community.

In his welcome address, Ambassador Dr. Ausaf Sayeed gave a short introduction of the film festival and the idea behind it. The event was inaugurated with the unveiling of the ‘film poster’ by their Excellencies the Ambassadors present on the occasion.

In his remarks Chief Guest Mr. Suresh Prabhu noted the huge popularity of movies in India and that he was very happy to attend the inaugural event and looked forward to see the movies being screened.

The twelve-day festival was held from December 5-18, and kicked-off with the screening of three Arabic short movies titled: ‘The Swan Song’, ‘A Colourful Life’ and ‘Jaleed’, followed by an interactive session with the directors of the respective movies. This was followed by the screening of widely acclaimed Bollywood move ‘Dangal’ on December 6. Besides Saudi and Indian movies, the festival featured movies from Brazil, Ukraine, Bangladesh, Spain, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Mexico. Source: Embassy of India, Riyadh.

Seminar on Health and Wellness- Current Yogic and Scientific Perspective, Riyadh, 21 December 2019.

A seminar on Yoga titled “Health and Wellness- Current Yogic and Scientific Perspective” was organized by Embassy of India, Riyadh on December 21, 2019.  In his inaugural remarks, the Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia H.E. Dr. Ausaf Sayeed talked about the importance of Yoga and its health aspects.

Mr. Satheesh Kumar Deepak from International Yoga Foundation spoke on ‘The Philosophy of Yogic Healing’, Ms. Alanoud Alothman, Saudi Yoga Instructor described her experience on the journey of Yoga in Saudi Arabia. through a presentation titled- “A Saudi Woman’s Perspective on Yoga”. Dr. A.K. Murugan, Dr. Sathees Maddirevula and Dr. Narendran Ulaganathan from the King Faisal Specialty Hospital gave the presentations on the medical benefits of Yoga. 

The seminar concluded with a Yoga demonstration and a Q&A Session with the speakers. The event saw participation of more than 200 people, including Saudi nationals, diplomats and members of the Indian community. Source: Embassy of India, Riyadh.

Cabinet approves ex-post facto agreement on Security Cooperation between India and Saudi Arabia, New Delhi, 24 December 2019.

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given ex-post facto approval on an Agreement on Security Cooperation between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that was signed on 29th October, 2019 during the visit of Hon'ble Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia.

The Agreement aims to improve the effectiveness of both countries in the prevention and suppression of crimes including crime relating to terrorism and its financing and organized crime and to establish a framework for enhancing cooperation between the officials of intelligence and law-enforcement agencies of the two countries, in line with national and international obligations. Source: Press Information Bureau (PIB).

Cabinet approves MoU between India and Saudi Arabia for cooperation in the field of Renewable Energy, New Delhi, 24 December 2019.

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi was apprised of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy of the Government of India and the Ministry of Energy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for cooperation in the field of Renewable Energy. This was signed on 29th October, 2019 in Riyadh.


The MoU aims at setting up a framework for cooperation between the two parties in the field of renewable energy in the following areas:-

Upgrading the level of technologies and their applications in the field of renewable energy.

Contributing to the field of renewable energy to raise its efficiency in the national energy combination in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Developing the Renewable energy projects in Solar, Wind, Biogas, Geothermal and other fields of renewable energy.

Development and localization of value chain in the field of renewable energy.

Developing and boosting uses of solar energy small applications for buildings, homes and others. Source: Press Information Bureau (PIB).


Fresh Vegetables from Varanasi to Dubai, First Trial Shipment by Sea, APEDA Setting up Agri Export Hubs in these 5 Districts of Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi, 20 December 2019.

Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) in its endeavour to promote exports from agriculture produce rich regions of India is today sending the first trial shipment of vegetables by sea route from Varanasi to Dubai. Considering the potential of production of fruits and vegetables in Varanasi Region comprising of 5 districts namely, Ghazipur, Jaunpur, Chandauli, Mirzapur and Sant Ravidas Nagar, APEDA is in the process of setting up Agri export hubs in these 5 districts of the Varanasiregion.

The first trial shipment of one container of fresh vegetables was flagged off by Paban Kumar Borthakur, Chairman APEDA and Deepak Agrawal, Commissioner, Varanasi Region in the presence of Kaushal Raj Sharma, District Magistrate, Varanasi today.

In its efforts for setting up of Agri Export hub, APEDA organized an Export Promotion Programme and Buyer Seller Meet (BSM) for fresh vegetables this year in Varanasi which was attended by 100 farmers of the region and exporters from Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Uttar Pradesh. The BSM provided a platform to link the FPOs and progressive farmers to prominent exporters. The interaction between exporters and farmers of the region was very helpful in terms of understanding the potential of the region, quality of vegetables and fruits produced, infrastructure required and convincing the farmers in cultivating export oriented variety of crops and discussing the concerns of both the stakeholders. Exporters showed their keen interest in exporting vegetables and fruits of the region provided quality of produce is ensured. The BSM was followed by field visits to production sites.

Fresh vegetables and Fruits Exporters Association (VAFA), Mumbai have signed an MoU with four FPOs for sourcing of fresh vegetables and fruits for export to international markets. FPOs have been engaged to ensure supply of quality produce from the region. The initiative of setting up the Agri Export hub in Varanasi is now yielding results with the sending of the first trial shipment of vegetables sourced from FPOs in Varanasi region to Dubai by sea route for the first time today.

APEDA in association with the State Government of Uttar Pradesh has organized for sending of a trial shipment of one container of fresh vegetables by sea route to Dubai. The container will have the quantity of 14 Mts of fresh vegetables exported by an export house from Mumbai supported by VAFA and sourced from three FPOs of Ghazipur and Varanasi.

The produce consolidated from the FPOs have been processed and packed at Concor Cargo facility, Rajatalab, Varanasi which was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India in July 2018.

To fast-track the activities taken up for the Export Hub at Varanasi, a project office of APEDA is being set up at Varanasi soon for co-ordination and facilitation of all activities. A Committee has also been formed under the chairmanship of Commissioner Varanasi Division, with all the stakeholders. The major task of the Committee will be to supervise and fast-track the development of infrastructure, strengthening backward linkage and supply chain for export of agriculture products to international market.

APEDA is an organization under Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India and is responsible for promoting exports of Agriculture and Processed Food Products from India. Source: Press Information Bureau (PIB).



The OIC closely follows up the recent Developments affecting Muslims in India, Jeddah, 22 December 2019.

The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has been closely following recent developments affecting Muslim minority in India. It expresses its concern over the recent developments pertaining to both the issue of citizenship rights and the Babri Masjid case. It reiterates its call to ensure the safety of the Muslim minority and the protection of Islamic holy places in India.


The General Secretariat reaffirms the crucial importance of upholding the principles and obligations enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and relevant international covenants that guarantee the rights of minorities without any discrimination.


In this regard, any action, contrary to these principles and obligations, may lead to further tensions and may have serious implications on peace and security across the region. Source: Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).


Unstarred Question No. 2531, VISIT TO GULF COUNTRIES, Lok Sabha, 04 December 2019.

December 04, 2019


Will the Minister of EXTERNAL AFFAIRS be pleased to state:

(a) whether a large number of people of Gopalganj and neighbouring districts visited Gulf countries and earned huge amount of foreign revenue;

(b) if so, the total number of people of district Gopalganj of Bihar who frequently visited Gulf countries;

(c) the details of facilities made available to them by the Ministry; and

(d) the total number of persons of district Gopalganj of Bihar who are unable to return to their respective homes?




  1. & (b) The Ministry captures data of persons going abroad for employment to the Emigration Check Required (ECR) countries who require clearance. Majority of such persons are holder of ECR passports. Emigration Check Not Required or ECNR passport holders going for employment generally do not require clearance. They can register voluntarily. Therefore, it is difficult to arrive at accurate figures of Indian nationals who have gone abroad. The data captured in the eMigrate system, through which clearance is given for employment to Gulf Countries from the district of Gopalganj and neighbouring districts, namely, Siwan, East Champaran, West Champaran, Muzaffarpur and Saran since 2015 is as follows.




East Champaran

West Champaran































2019 (31 Oct)














As far as earning of foreign revenue is concerned, Indian workers in Gulf Countries do send remittance to India from time to time during the period of their employment there.

(c) The Government has taken several steps to safeguard the interests of Indian emigrants in the Gulf and other ECR countries. These include:

(i) The on-line MADAD portal enables the emigrant workers and their family members to register their consular grievances on-line and track their redressal.

(ii) Grievances related to Overseas Employment in notified Emigration Check Required (ECR) countries can also be lodged directly by emigrants/relatives or through the Pravasi Bharatiya Sahayata Kendra, Delhi (PBSK) which is linked to e-Migrate portal. These grievances are settled by respective jurisdictional Protectors of Emigrants (PoEs) as per laid down procedures.

(iii) Pravasi Bharatiya Sahayata Kendras (PBSK) have been set up at Dubai (UAE), Sharjah (UAE), Riyadh, Jeddah (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), to provide guidance and counselling on all matters pertaining to overseas Indian workers.

(iv) Kshetriya Pravasi Sahayata Kendras (KPSK) have been setup in Delhi, Kochi, Hyderabad, Chennai and Lucknow to assist emigrants or their relatives to redress their problems/complaints regarding overseas employment.

(v) Grievances brought to the notice of the Ministry and the Missions through social media, including twitter, are promptly addressed.

(vi) Missions have established 24x7 Helplines and Toll-Free Helplines for the benefit of Indian workers to seek help.

(vii) The Missions utilise the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) to provide assistance to overseas Indian nationals in times of distress. The guidelines of the Indian community welfare fund have been revised recently to expand the scope of welfare measures and to cover three key areas, namely, assisting overseas Indian nationals in distress situations, community welfare activities and improvement in consular services.

(viii) Labour and Manpower Cooperation MoUs/Agreements are in place with the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries that provide the institutional framework to comprehensively discuss and review labour related issues. In accordance with the Labour and Manpower Cooperation/Agreement, Joint Working Group (JWG) meetings are held on regular basis to discuss various labour related issues.

(d) According to information sent by our Missions in the Gulf, no such cases have been registered with any of them. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).


As part of the policy, the MEI@ND standardizes spellings and date format to make the text uniformly accessible and stylistically consistent. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views/positions of the MEI@ND. Editor, MEI@ND P R Kumaraswamy