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v Current Affairs Round up 2011-12

- Editor’s Note
How to Cope up with Examination Blues
UPSC evaluates one’s managerial capabilities — these include working under pressure, managing time, making decisions and tackling change. Strangely, most students neglect this aspect of civil service examinations. As a result, many bright students do not clear the exam. If you want to do well in CSAT, you should devote time to developing and honing a managerial aptitude. If you do not believe in your abilities and end up worrying about the question paper, it will be tough. CSAT is an entrance test for would-be civil servant, the future bureaucrats of the nation; hence, it simulates complications that a civil servant has to tackle. This exam thus tests not only the general knowledge and language skills but also inter- personal skills and the logical reasoning and analytics of an individual. Winners are inspired by the prospect of beating the competition, whereas losers are cowed down by the competition. It is this pressure that takes the heaviest toll and this happens during the preparation and not during the hours of the actual test. Close to 30% students give up on their hopes of clearing the examinations by the time they give the mock tests. Remember, the paper is the same for everyone. If you have studied well and put in hard work, there is no reason why you should not be selected. In fact, it is this competition pressure that weeds out the losers from the winners. Believe in yourself and believe in the goal that you have set for yourself. Do not rethink your position as a student and strengthen yourself. Take as many tests as possible and Identify topics you sailed through and topics that were difficult to crack. Determine these topics you are weak at and take time to make these areas stronger. Study hard and prepare without fear. You should consider this as just another exam and do not give in to the various pressures and insecurities. Exam stress is perhaps the biggest menace for students. Dealing with it effectively can make the difference in acing the exams. Exam time is round the corner and students are working hard to ace their papers and secure good results. Cut throat competition and high expectations have now become part of the package. And though stress and pressure during exams is not new, students must learn to use this to their advantage. One of the most important driving forces is confidence. You must believe in your capabilities and be sure of what you can do. Many students sail through the preparation but often panic on the day of the examination. It is natural to feel nervous prior to the exam, but getting excessively nervous is counterproductive as it will hinder your ability to think clearly. Develop a time table so that you can track and monitor your progress. Give more emphasis on understanding and analysis than memorizing This is test of the candidate’s aptitude for the prestigious civil services from the ethical and moral dimension. Candidates with low moral and ethical aptitude will get weeded out. Spruce up your general awareness and mental ability. Focus more on decisionoriented analytical questions. Be prepared to answer situational questions faced in real life by the civil servants. Throughout the preparation for the prelims exam, it is important to remember that any topic or concept should not be studied in isolation. It is better to understand and establish a correlation between related concepts from other subjects and current events and happenings. Here are some easy to follow steps: • When you start losing concentration, take a short break. • Don’t get influenced by the revision your friends are doing. • Close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply. • Try to relax tensed muscles; imagine the tension disappearing. • After 20 minutes, take some deep breaths and stretch. And finally in the examination hall, when you see a question you can’t answer do not panic. It is better to write something down than nothing at all. Try your best, but if you do not do as well as you hoped, it is not the end of the world. Then, spend time on deciding a particular strategy for taking the exam, the order in which you would like to tackle the sections, which questions to attempt first and which ones to avoid within a section, the approach to tackling reading comprehension, etc. Experiment with these parameters while taking the various mock exams and take a call on which strategy works best for you.

Yagya Nand Jha

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National Perspective Plan for water resources development by transferring water from watersurplus basins to water deficit basins/regions in 1980 was formulated by the ministry of water resources. National Water Development Authority after carrying out detailed studies identified 30 links for preparation of feasibility reports. These links can be divided into two components—the Himalayan (14 links) and the Peninsular (16). These links are aimed at mitigating the effects of floods and droughts, and as well as augmenting income in rural areas in general, and in agriculture in particular. The ILR programme is focused on reducing irrigation uncertainties and mitigating the adverse impact of floods and droughts. Once these canals are

built, they will also be used as waterways for navigation, reducing stress on road/rail transport. The successful implementation of the programme is, therefore, of utmost importance for the development of the country and it is necessary that a supportive climate for the programme be created. When the project was announced a decade ago in 2002, one section of public opinion supported it, and another opposed its implementation. It is without taking any note of the conflicting public opinion that the present binding directions have been issued by the court. Apart from increased irrigation, link canals have the potential to generate hydroelectricity, which during summer is low. Once the canals and reservoirs are in place

and enough water is stored in reservoirs, it can be used to generate hydro electricity. The ILR programme with the MSTG link is envisaged to generate 28,994.5 MW of power and require 4,193 MW of power for the project, resulting in net power generation of 24,801.5 MW. The JTF link is envisaged to generate 24,822.5 MW of power and require 5252 MW of power for the project resulting in net power generation of 19,570.5 MW. The idea of interbasin transfers is based on the assumption that certain surplus (flood-prone) and deficit (drought-prone) areas exist so that water is readily available without any objection to transfer from the former to the latter. But in practice, people in so-called surplus areas do not agree that they have spare water which can be transferred to other, faraway 3

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areas. Startling news for some and somewhat dreamy for others is the resurrected plan of interlinking the rivers of India. Cited by former President Kalam and pushed by former Chief Justice Kirpal, the sheer grandeur of the idea is meant to appeal to people facing drought and flood. Anyone who knows what river systems are, what inter-basin transfers bring forth, and the politics and economics of large river valley and inter-basin projects, will know that whatever water this plan holds is but a mirage. We have seen the politics that come with any human intervention in rivers flowing since generations from one administrative unit to another. With all the water that has flown or not flown into Cauvery, one cannot take seriously a grandiose dream of linking all the rivers. But hearing it from the highest echelons of the State and judiciary, one cannot wait for some agency of the same state to bring out the plus and minus of it. A hasty beginning may not be prevented unless civil society, experts, and common people respond. Inter-basin water transfers are complex human interventions on natural systems that can have profound adverse as well as beneficial social, economic and environmental implications. India’s plan to interlink its rivers (ILR) and to transfer water may, according to one set of views, generate positive benefits through improved and expanded

irrigation and may also contribute to flood and drought hazards mitigation for India, although the magnitudes are debatable. However, there are opposing views, in the context of India itself, that the interlinking plan is economically prohibitive, fraught with uncertainties, and has potential for disastrous and irreversible adverse after-effects. Water deficit can be reduced through improved water management without large scale engineering interventions. Moreover many of the rivers involved, particularly in the Himalayan component, are international and, therefore, the scheme has major implications for other riparians. Indeed, the planned transfer of water from the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers will adversely impact Bangladesh socially, economically and environmentally—unless arrangements are made to maintain historical flows, which is unlikely to be feasible. Any multipurpose storage reservoirs in upstream countries, such as Nepal and Bhutan, would facilitate energy generation and other benefits but will also cause adverse environmental and social impacts to these countries. Therefore, the ILR plan will further complicate existing water sharing and management problems between India and other co-basin countries. Strengthening and expansion of cooperative efforts among the co-basin

countries for water resources development and sharing can generate economic benefits for the people of these countries and also foster co-riparian relationships. But somehow this important project was was dumped after the change of government. Link canals have both short and longterm impact on the economy. The short-term impact of the link canal is in the form of increased employment opportunities and the growth of the services sector. Sectors supplying crucial inputs to the construction sector, such as cement and iron and steel, also grow. In the medium to long term, the major impact of link canals is through increased and assured irrigation. Although the major and direct gainers of the ILR programme will be agriculture and agriculturedependent households, the entire economy will benefit because of increased agriculture production. The full impact of the ILR programme on economy will be realised only when construction is completed, reservoirs filled and the water reaches the ultimate users for irrigation, drinking water, industrial purposes and hydropower generation. Until construction is complete, the impact of the ILR programme will be through government investment. On February 27 while giving the go-ahead to the controversial project of inter-linking of rivers, the Supreme Court specifically 4

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mentioned the benefits — flood control and drought moderation As plans for inter-basin transfers of water across vast distances, from surplus to deficit areas, appear to have got a lot of attraction for a country exposed all too often to droughts and floods, these need to be seriously evaluated and debated. As such while large-scale transfers of water can be expensive, we should also explore whether there are cheaper and better alternatives. Any neat division between “deficit” and “surplus” areas becomes more of a problem in these times of climate change when erratic weather patterns are more frequently seen. Some time ago we had a curious situation when arid, deficit parts of western India (including Rajasthan) had excess rain and experienced floods while flood-prone parts of eastern India (including Assam) had drought-like conditions. If billions had already been spent to create an infra-structure from transferring surplus water from east to west, just imagine what a difficult situation would have arisen at the time of such erratic weather. So the basic conditions of problem-free transfer of water from the country’s “surplus” to “deficit” areas simply do not exist. The tensions are likely to be much greater when inter-basin transfers also involve neighbouring countries, a reality that cannot be avoided in the existing geography

of national-level links as many rivers pass through other countries. As soon as the grand looking river-linking plans are transferred from paper to reality, we enter the real world of shifting rivers bringing enormous silt loads, landslides, hills, plateaus, seismic belts, gorges, ravines, bends and curves which make the task of large-scale transfer of water difficult, enormously expensive, energy-intensive and hazardous. If rivers had been created by engineers and not by nature, they would have flowed along predictable straight paths to suit our needs. But rivers do not generally like to abide by the wishes and commands of engineers. Even when the might of modern technology forces them to do so, they sometimes seek revenge in very destructive ways — breaking free and causing floods. Of course no one has had the time and inclination to explore how the bio-diversity flourishing in a particular river system will react when it is linked to another river. But the problems faced by the vast majority who are adversely affected by dams and displacements of this gigantic river-linking project have to be faced surely and squarely. This brings us to the question of whether safer, less disruptive and cheaper alternatives are available for reducing the distress of floods and droughts. Evidence suggests that even villages which

experience very low rainfall, as in the desert areas of Rajasthan, have evolved a range of local methods of water conservation and collection which, if followed up carefully, take them towards water self-sufficiency to a large extent. It is true that in modern times there is pressure leading to the breakdown or inadequacy of some of these self-reliant systems. Nevertheless it can be said that a combination of traditional watercollection/conservation practices and other drought-proofing methods — which also use modern technology — still provides the best available answer (also the cheapest one) to water scarcity in drought-prone areas. In the case of flood-prone areas we should not ignore the resilience of local communities where people learnt from early childhood how to cope with rising rivers. Their ability has been adversely affected by increasing drainage obstruction created by thoughtless “development” works because of which floods sometimes become more fierce, creating prolonged water logging. So what people really need is a good drainage plan — so that flood water clears quickly — combined with a package of livelihood, health, education and other support suited to the needs of flood-prone areas and communities. This will work out much cheaper and more effective than all the dams, diversions and embankments put together. So the 5

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question of what people of drought-prone areas and floodprone areas really need should be taken in consultation with them. Do they want huge water diversions and transfers with all their dams and displacements, or do they prefer more funds for trusted, small-scale local solutions? Prior experience teaches that we must study basic aspects of each river basin, including catchment area treatment, command area development, benchmark survey of the affected population, impacts of the reservoir and canal system on farmers, and fisheries, and public health. Environmental Impact Assessment will be inevitable. Compensatory and mitigatory plans must be rationally conceived. Where the canal network extends, will surveyors assess whether soil is irrigable through surface water flows without waterlogging and salinisation that has taken a million hectares ofIndian Land? What would be the impacts on food security already in crisis, of a sudden change in cropping pattern? Enough warnings have been given. The River Valley Guidelines (1983) discuss environmental and social impacts due to transfer of water and people beyond suitability. Unless these become part of the project planning, they are neither considered nor dealt with. Struggles in the Narmada Valley

and on other projects pushed due to political expediency without complete appraisal, have brought out the seriousness of large scale displacement as well as impacts on and injustice to the proposed beneficiaries. Basic questions demand investigation. Will such a linking of rivers actually prevent

network, of whom 23,500 will lose more than 25% of their land, and 2,000 will become landless. None is considered project-affected nor eligible for rehabilitation.For intrariver basin transfers, the principle of subsidiarity requires that water be harnessed from where it first drops.

drought? Or merely transfer drought? What will be the extent of displacement, and provisions for rehabilitation? Canals also displace. In the Sardar Sarovar project, 1,50,000 landholders stand to lose land due to the canal

The whole crisis of water management today is due to total neglect of water harvesting, either because it is considered peripheral or to be a non-replicable, nonprofitable micro-level experiment. Therefore we see the destruction 6

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of cultures, communities, and ecosystems, creating conflicts between states, as in Cauvery, and between state and people, as in Narmada. Conflicts are dealt with more politically than scientifically. If this happens in just one river basin, imagine the consequences across several river basins. Interstate disputes could take decades to resolve. As our national highways have become conveyor belts for enormously polluting noxious emissions, the huge interlink threatens to become an open sewage garlanding India. The canals, designed for carrying irrigation waters rather than large peak flows, will not be sufficient to control or divert floods in the northern states but will transfer silt. Several large dams built to provide the head and storage required to supply the canals will permanently submerge fertile lands, forests, village communities and towns, leaving millions of people displaced or dispossessed. Any attempt to obtain full information, question impacts and demand just compensation requires sacrifice by communities living on the natural resources. Interlinking Himalayan and peninsular rivers is budgeted at Rs. 5.6 lakh crores, even before the completion of feasibility studies, expected by 2008, at a cost of 150 crores. Have alternatives been assessed? When pending water projects require Rs. 80,000 crores to be completed and made usable

as per Parliamentary Committee report, is such a plan viable, scientific, or democratic? There is no time, space, or process indicated for participation of communities whose riparian rights must be considered, and who face upstream impacts, which are now known, and lesserknown downstream impacts. Annual Irrigation budgets of state governments are about 1000 crores each. From where will the money for inter-linking rivers come even if states pool resources for the next several decades? At the cost of local irrigation projects of the true and tested kind that have kept India self-sufficient. In this esoteric experiment of Interlinking rivers, India itself is the guinea pig. It will be nothing short of criminal if water is not treated properly and the water crisis worsens. Already Shivnath river in Chattisgarh is privatised, and the contractor has snatched away people’s right even to drinking water. People of the country deserve to know if this centralised plan will nationalise the water only to privatise, just as national public property is doled - not sold - out at reduced prices, whether it is oil, gas, land or mineral resources, to private companies, foreign and domestic. The interlinking of rivers programme (ILR) programme is aimed at linking different surplus rivers of country with the deficient rivers so that the excess water from surplus region could be diverted

to deficient region. This would help in increasing irrigation intensity in the country, increasing water availability for drinking and industrial purposes, mitigating effect of drought and floods to a certain extent. Basic purpose of the this study is to assess the macro impact of the ILR programme on Indian economy. In this study macro impacts are analysed both at short- as well as long-term. Short-term impact is analysed with the help of a social accounting matrix for the year 1999-00 at 2000-01 prices. Shortterm impact helps us in evaluating the impact of the ILR programme on different sectors of the economy. Longterm impact of the ILR programme is evaluated with the help of a macro econometric model. Water is not like cement or concrete - it is life. Just distribution and full appreciation of its economic, financial, environmental and social dimensions must be part of the planning process. The 73rd amendment and the Tribal Self-rule Act direct that people’s consent and consultation cannot be sidelined. Rivers support millions of people. A grandiose scheme such as interlinking would be likely to involve international lending agencies. Before anything starts, let people know what is in the mind of the president, the ministers and sanctioned by the outgoing chief justice within a few days. 7

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he Union cabinet approved the creation of a company that will set up the information technology (IT) backbone for the proposed goods and services tax (GST) and cleared draft legislation aimed at bringing transparency to government procurement, among several decisions taken by ministers on Thursday. The GST network (GSTN) connecting the Centre and the states will be used to implement registration based on PAN (permanent account number), the filing of returns, and a payment processing system. GSTN, a key element of India’s most ambitious tax reform that seeks to create a unified market, is expected to be operational by August, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said in his 16 March budget speech.

With the roll-out of GST likely to be delayed further because of a lack of consensus between New Delhi and the states, the empowered committee of state finance ministers has given its nod to migrate value-added taxes (VAT) to the IT network. Besides making the administering of VAT more efficient, this will also serve as a test for GST preparedness. The not-for-profit company that will set up and run the IT backbone will be a non-state, private limited company in which the government will retain strategic control, according to an official note. “It would have an equity capital of Rs.10 crore with the Centre and the states having equal stakes of 24.5% each,” the release said. “Non-government institutions would hold 51% equity. No single institution would hold more than 10% equity,

with the possibility of one private institution holding a maximum of 21% equity.” National Securities Depository Ltd, the country’s largest depository, is expected to hold that 21% stake. The remaining 30% is likely to be divided equally among three partners in the banking and IT industries, according to finance ministry officials.The note added that the company “would have a self-sustaining revenue model based on levy of user charges on taxpayers and tax authorities availing its service”.The use of a common PAN for both direct and indirect taxes is expected to check evasion and increase transparency as it will help the Centre and states compare income tax, VAT, customs and excise duties paid by a person, and determine discrepancies. The empowered 8

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group on IT infrastructure on GST, headed by Unique Identification Authority of India chairman Nandan Nilekani, had in its report recommended a common PANbased taxpayer registration to get a unified view of all taxpayers. The introduction of GST will lead to the levy of a uniform rate of tax across the country, effectively turning it into a common market and getting rid of the inefficiencies and distortions caused by disparate levies. Initially meant to have been launched on 1 April 2010, it has been delayed indefinitely due to a lack of consensus between the Centre and the states. A Constitution amendment Bill, required for the introduction of GST, is being currently examined by the parliamentary standing committee on finance. States will

use the IT platform of GST for collection of value added tax (VAT) till the new indirect tax regime comes into effect, the Chairman of Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers. The GST Network (GSTN), he said, is likely to be operational by September this year and would be used by states for VAT collection purposes till GST is rolled out. The Cabinet has approved a proposal to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) namely Goods and Services TaxNetwork SPV (GSTN SPV) to create enabling environment for smooth introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST). GSTN SPV will provide IT infrastructure and services to various stakeholders. The GSTN SPV would be incorporated as a

Section 25 (not-for-profit), nonGovernment, private limited company in which the Government will retain strategic control. It would have an equity capital of Rs. 10 crore, with the Centre and States having equal stakes of 24.5% each. Non Government institutions would hold 51% equity. No single institution would hold more that 10%, with the possibility of one private institution holding a maximum of 21%. The GTSN SPV would have a self-sustaining revenue model, based on levy of user charges on tax payers and tax authorities availing its services. While the SPV’s services would be critical to actual rollout of GST at a future date, it is also expected to render valuable services to the Centre / State tax administrations prior to the GST implementation.

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ndia is located in a disturbed and unstable neighbourhood, which is rocked by tremors emanating from a variety of hostile organisations, internal as well as external. The main threat is from the jihadi fundamentalists sponsored by the covert warfare branches of the Pakistan Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), like the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) and its Indian offshoot, the Indian Mujahideen. Other extremist groups like Naxalites and tribal guerrillas also contribute to the quantum of overall threat. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) is the designated nodal agency in India for counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence, but the terrorist invasion of Mumbai on 26/11 graphically highlighted many serious deficiencies in Indian intelligence and security systems. It re-emphasised, once again, the need for refurbishment of the national counterterrorism effort. The proposal for creation of such an agency at the national level to collate,


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analyse, integrate inputs from all intelligence sources at Central as well as state levels and plan coordinated counter-terrorist and counter-espionage operations had been amongst the important recommendations of the Kargil Study Group set up in 2001 to analyse the conflict and draw lessons from it. The initial steps to improve coordination to counter terrorism was the establishment of a Multi-Agency Centre (MAC), but its logical extension into an integrated NCTC has not been formalised to date. The MAC was created out of existing resources without any additional accretions and is not fully effective because of shortages of resources and personnel. Part of the reason for these deficiencies and delays in implementation are internecine turf battles between various government bureaucracies competing for control of the proposed centre. The NCTC proposed as a model for India is based on the American system, which Mr Chidambaram had the opportunity to examine during his four-day visit to the US in September 2009. Much of the organisational and legislative infrastructure required to establish NCTC already exists in India within the MAC, which can be expanded and redesigned as required. Internecine departmental rivalry amongst intelligence services regarding the sharing of information is a ground-level

obstruction in India as also in other countries but if NCTC is to succeed what really requires to be firmly overcome is the prevalent mindset of reluctance towards constructive mutual cooperation. The NCTC in the United States was created in May 2003 in the aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. In India, the trigger event was the terrorist attack on Mumbai on November 26, 2008 by sea-borne terrorists from Pakistan. The attacks resulted in 164 Indian citizens killed and upwards of 308 injured. In the aftermath of the attack, the Maharashtra state government instituted a committee of inquiry under Ram Pradhan, a former Union home secretary. The report drew attention to inter-agency lapses very similar to those experienced by Americans during and after the 9/11 attacks. The Union Government of India on 3 February 2012 notified the setting up of the anti-terror body called National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). NCTC will have the power to carry out operations including arrest, search and seizure. It will draw its functional power of search and seizures under the provisions of the UAPA (Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. It will work as an integral part of Intelligence bureau. The notification mandates the terror-fighting agencies to share their inputs with NCTC and it also appoints the director and

his core team. Director of NCTC will have full functional autonomy and he will have the power to seek information on terror from National Investigation Agency, NATGRID, intelligence units of CBI, National Technical Research Organisation and directorate of revenue intelligence in addition to all seven central armed police forces including NSG. He will report to the IB chief and the home ministry. The notification was issued under the Article 73 of the Constitution of India. National Counter Terrorism Centre of India is an ambitious project that aims at fighting the growing menace of terrorism in India. However, from the very beginning it is in doldrums. Fears of it becoming an all powerful and centralised point for terrorism related issues have never allowed it to take a start. Besides there are many “practical difficulties” that may prevent the actual implementation of the much needed NCTC of India. Presently intelligence agencies of India are operating under different Department/Ministries and there would be a “reluctance” to submit to the centralised NCTC of India. Another problem pertaining to intelligence agencies of India in general and projects like NCTC, National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid) Project of India, etc in particular is that in India we have no “parliamentary oversight” over intelligence and law enforcement agencies. In this 11

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background, it has now been reported that the proposed NCTC of India may not be an umbrella organisation having control over various arms of intelligence agencies in India. The “Safest and Easiest Method” to establish NCTC is to give a Parliamentary Scrutiny to Intelligence Agencies and their functioning. In the same Legal Framework, establishment and role of NCTC can be formulated, suggests Praveen Dalal. It seems P Chidambaram cannot proceed further due to administrative and bureaucratic problems but if Parliament of India enacts suitable laws in this regard, much of the problems can be solved. India has plethora of intelligence agencies and security agencies. These include Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Aviation Research Centre (ARC), Intelligence Bureau (IB), National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) and Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), etc. Presently, intelligence agencies of India are operating in a decentralised manner. There is no centralised authority or Ministry that can coordinate or collaborate between different intelligence agencies. Further, there is no Parliamentary oversight of these intelligence agencies as well. However, “Practical Difficulties” may prevent the actual implementation of the much needed NCTC of India, says Praveen Dalal, a Supreme Court

lawyer and leading techno legal expert of India. He says that presently Intelligence Agencies of India are operating under different Department/Ministries and there would be a “Reluctance” to submit to the Centralised NCTC of India. NCTC draws its powers from Article 73 of the Constitution whose clause a) notes that the executive power of the Union government shall extend ‘to the matters with respect to which Parliament has power to make the laws’. NCTC Will integrate all intelligence pertaining to terrorism & will analyse the information, mount an effective response to terrorism. NCTC should be an independent organisation and not under the IB, as it is currently envisioned. From Article 73 also has a section b) which says “the executive power referred to in sub-clause (a) shall not, save as expressly provided in this Constitution or in any law made by Parliament, extend in any state to matters with respect to which the Legislature of the state has also power to make laws. The Constitution is clear that law and order is a state subject. NCTC’s mission of integrating all information relating to terrorism also clashes with the work of the Research & Analysis Wing, India’s external intelligence agency, which is the nodal agency for intelligence on terror generated abroad. It will also clash with the mandate of the NTRO, which is

tasked to collect and analyse information relating to national security, which includes terrorism. In its task of ‘responding to terrorism’ it will also clash with the National Investigation Agency which has been mandated to investigate and prosecute terrorism-related cases Most importantly, the NCTC which claims to derive its powers from the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967, functions under the Intelligence Bureau (IB) which has no legislative authority since it was set up by a government order. It was proposed that the Multi-Agency Centre (MAC), set up by the group of ministers report of 2002 to fuse intelligence on terrorism from a variety of sources, become the core of the new NCTC. But where the MAC was confined to intelligence gathering and analysis, the NCTC will have investigation and operations functions as well. Even more ambitious was the move, as enunciated by Union home minister P. Chidambaram in a speech at the Intelligence Bureau centenary endowment lecture in December 2009, to place institutions like the National Investigation Agency, the National Technical Research Office (NTRO), the National Crime Records Bureau, the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems and the National Security Guards under the NCTC; and have the counter-terror work of 12

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the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW), the Aviation Research Centre and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), too under this organisation. This note deals with the genesis, objectives, structure and powers of the proposed NCTC. A Group of Ministers (2001) that reviewed the internal security system in the aftermath of the Kargil conflict had recommended establishment of a Multi Agency Centre (MAC), a permanent Joint Task Force on Intelligence (JTFI) and an Inter State Intelligence Support System (INSIST). The recommendations were broadly accepted by the then Government. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (8th Report, 2008) had recommended that the Multi Agency Centre should be converted into a National Centre for Counter Terrorism with personnel drawn from different intelligence and security agencies. Reference has been made to section 43A. That section enables the Central government to empower any officer of the Designated Authority under certain circumstances. The circumstances are that the officer knows that a person has committed an offence under UA(P)A or knows of a design by a person to commit any offence under UA(P)A. In those circumstances alone, the officer would have the power to arrest and the power to search.

However, section 43A has to be read along with section 43B and in particular sub-sections (2) and (3) of section 43B which read as follows: ”(2) Every person arrested and article seized under section 43A shall be forwarded without unnecessary delay to the officer in charge of the nearest police station. ( 3) The authority or officer to whom any person or article is forwarded under sub-section (2) shall, with all convenient dispatch, take such measures as may be necessary in accordance with the provisions of the Code.” Until now, there was no appropriate body which could be specified as the “Designated Authority” under section 2(e) or upon which powers could be conferred under section 43A. When the Cabinet Committee on Security approved the setting up of NCTC, it also decided that the Director, NCTC may be specified as the “Designated Authority” and the officers of the Operations division of the NCTC may be given the powers under section 43A. A body mandated to deal with counter terrorism must have, in certain circumstances, an operational capability. This is true of all counter terrorism bodies in the world. When engaged in counter terrorism operations, the officers must have the power to arrest and the power to search which are the bare minimum powers that would be necessary. Besides, the powers conferred under section 43A must be read

with the duty under section 43B to produce the person or article without unnecessary delay before the nearest police station ( which will be under the State government ), and the SHO of the Police Station will take further action in accordance with the provisions of the CrPC. National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) of India is presently facing stiff oppositions. A majority of them are self created problems but some of them are also arising due to practical difficulties and internal turf war. The net result is that the obvious but unsolvable terrorism dilemma in India still continues. NCTC, like other governmental projects, is not supported by any legal framework. This is the most inappropriate step taken by the Indian government in general and home ministry in particular. While the constitutionality of the National Investigation Agency Act 2008 (NIAA 2008) is still doubtful yet NCTC without a legal framework is definitely unconstitutional. By tagging it with the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 this unconstitutionality is not cured. Add to this the list of other projects of home ministry like National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid) and other similar projects by other ministries like Aadhar project. None of these projects are supported by a legal framework of any kind and they are just pure executive orders 13

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violating the constitutional provisions. The NCTC Project of India is also “very significant” for the national security of India. Terrorist attacks against India are

on increase and we need a “specilaised institution” like NCTC to provide and analyse valuable intelligence inputs and leads. However, the inadequacies

and unconstitutionalities of NCTC project is proving costly and major hurdle for the successful implementation of the same.

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industries such as power, steel and cement. An estimate of the cost of production for each block was arrived at first by taking into account the actual cost of production in a similar Coal India mine for the same year. Difference between CIL’s sale price and cost

According to comptroller and auditor general’s draft report titled ‘Performance Audit Of Coal Block Allocations’, the government lost Rs 10.67 lakh crore by not auctioning coal blocks between 2004 and 2009. 155 coal blocks were given to commercial entities without auction between 2004 and 2009 thereby causing the exchequer a loss of Rs 10.67 lakh crore at 31 March 2011 prices . The estimated loss is six times higher than the loss figure of Rs 1.76 lakh crore suffered for the 2G scam. The government extended undue benefits totalling a mind-boggling Rs 10.67 lakh crore to commercial entities between 2004 and 2009. The beneficiaries include some 100 private companies, as well as some public sector units, in

of production was then multiplied by 90% of the reserves in each block. The figure obtained was the windfall gain for that block. CAG also specified the reason behind taking 90% of the total reserves rather than the entire lot. According to CAG, detailed exploration establishes reserves at


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a confidence level of 90%. CAG report listed both private entities and public utilities as beneficiaries of the alleged largesse. private companies were believed to have benefitted more than Rs 4.79 lakh crore of the giveaway, while around Rs 5.88 lakh crore went to central and state government utilities. The list did not name Reliance Power, which is setting up the Sasan and Tilaiya ultramega power projects. Reliance Power is missing from the list because the section on Windfall benefit to private companies does not include 12 coal blocks given for the government’s showpiece power projects since they were allocated through a tariff based competitive bidding route.

government hospitals (41%) as against private hospitals (19.4%). Kerala recorded the highest deliveries in private hospitals while Odisha recorded the least. Tamil Nadu recorded the highest number of women who delivered in a government hospital while Jharkhand recorded the least (19%). 55% of women in Delhi delivered in government hospitals while 23% went to private hospitals. 17% of births at home were carried out by a qualified professional. Deliveries conducted by a qualified professional at home were as low as 4.5% in Maharashtra. Untrained functionary deliveries were as high as 47% in Bihar, 35% in UP, 25% in West Bengal and 27% in Madhya Pradesh. Institutional deliveries (children being born in health centres or hospitals and not in their homes) were found to have picked up in India. As per the data released, more than three-fourths of deliveries in India were found to be occurring in institutional and by qualified professionals at present. Several states recorded very low births by untrained functionaries. They include Kerala (0.2%), Tamil Nadu (0.9%), Andhra Pradesh (1%), Punjab (2.6%), Delhi (5.3%), Gujarat (8.8%), Haryana (6.3%) and Karnataka (9.3%). Rural regions in several states recorded high rates of delivery in private hospitals. Like Kerala, where 52% of births in rural settings took place in a

private hospital, followed by 35% in Andhra, 23% in Delhi, 36% in Gujarat, 32% in Haryana, 20% in Karnataka, 36% in Maharashtra, 35% in Punjab and 24% in TN.

Supreme Court of India on 18 April 2012 upheld Election commission’s poll symbol rules, which entitled a political party the status of state party and common symbol for its candidates only if it secures not less than 6 percent of the total votes polled in a state and returns at least two members to the assembly. The court dismissed the petitions, which challenged the poll symbols order as discriminatory. The petitions had challenged the constitutional validity of Clause 6 B of Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order on the basis that although smaller political parties secured less than 6 percent votes, they were able to get two candidates elected to assembly. Election commission of India amended the Election Symbols Order, 1968 in December 2000(inserting clause 6 B) to set the benchmarks for a political party to get Election Commission’s recognition as political party.

According to the registrar general of India’s latest Sample Registration System (SRS) 2010 data, two in 10 women in India received medical attention by a qualified professional in 2010 while delivering at home. It was noted that fewer women in urban India received medical attention while delivering at home than in rural India — 10.8% against 16.2%. Nearly 1 in 4 births overall were attended by untrained functionaries. Delivery by untrained functionaries were found to vary from as high as 53.5% in Jharkhand to as low as 0.2% in Kerala. More women were noted to have delivered in 16

The Union Cabinet on 12 April 2012 gave its approval to the introduction of a Bill seeking an

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amendment in the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 to include registration of marriages as well, so that the existing administrative mechanisms will be able to carry out such registration of marriages in accordance with the specified procedures and be able to maintain necessary records and statistics for registration of marriages also. The Cabinet also approved introducing a Bill in Parliament to further amend the Anand Marriage Act, 1909 to provide for registration of marriages under the Act. The proposed Bill is set to benefit the women from unnecessary harassment in matrimonial and maintenance cases. It also seeks to provide evidentiary value in the matters of custody of children, right of children born from the wedlock of the two persons whose marriage is registered and the age of the parties to the marriage.

government and central public sector enterprises. The General Financial Rules, 2005, govern procurements made by the Centre. The present bill provides for a jail term ranging from six months to five years for public servants found guilty of demanding and accepting bribes from bidders of government contracts. The legislation is largely based on the suggestions made by Committee on Public Procurement headed by former bureaucrat Vinod Dhall which were accepted by a Group of Ministers to tackle corruption on 22 February 2012. The GoM headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had sent the bill for the approval of the Union Cabinet.



Union Cabinet on 12 April 2012 gave its nod to the Public Procurement Bill. The bill is aimed at bringing transparency in the bidding process for public procurement. The bill will regulate the government purchases of above 50 lakh rupees through a transparent bidding process. At present there is no legislation exists governing public procurement by the central

The Supreme Court of India upheld the constitutional validity of the Right to Education Act, 2009, which mandates 25 per cent free seats to the poor in government and private unaided schools uniformly across the country. The apex court clarified that its judgment will come into force from 12 April 2012. However, the act will apply uniformly to government and unaided private schools except unaided private minority schools. A three-judge bench of Chief Justice S H Kapadia and justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swantanter Kumar gave the ruling. The bench had reserved

its verdict on 3August 2012 on a batch of petitions by private unaided institutions which had contended that the section 12 (1)(c) of RTE Act violates the rights of private educational institutions under Article 19(1) (g)which provided autonomy to private managements to run their institutions without governmental interference. Right to Education Act (RTE) was passed by the Indian parliament on 4 August 2009.The act came into force on 1 April 2010. It has the provision of free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 in India under Article 21A of the Indian Constitution. India became one of 135 countries to make education a fundamental right of every child. Section 12(1)(c) of the RTE act says that every recognized school imparting elementary education is obliged to admit underprivileged children even if it is not aiaded by the government to meet its expenses.



The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court directed the Union government of India and the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure that there is no reporting on movement of troops by the print or electronic media. Acting on a PIL, a bench comprising justices Uma Nath Singh and Virendra Kumar Dixit ruled that the issue of movement of army troops does not require 17

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public discussion at the cost of defence secrecy and the security of the country. The court, however, dismissed the plea for a high-level probe into the report by a national daily alleging unusual movement of troops on the night of 16 January 2012, the day the Army Chief Gen VK Singh approached the Supreme Court on the issue of his date of Birth.

The Supreme Court of India on 3 April 2012 directed the Union

Supreme Court bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya also asked Ram Jethmalani, amicus curiae, to file written submissions on “whether the President should objectively apply mind while deciding mercy petitions”. The apex court observed that the role of the state was perhaps advisory and the final verdict lies with the President. The court directions came while hearing a plea filed by death convict Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, challenging the undue delay in disposal of his mercy petition by the President.

Shyamala Gopinath as its chairman, will help CBI in investigating cases of bank, commercial and financial frauds. The six-member board, which is the part of the organizational set up of CBI, will have a tenure of two years. The board will be provided with the operational funding by the RBI. The other members on the reconstituted board include retired Indian Administrative Service officer Vivek Mehrotra, retired Indian Police Service officer Balwinder Singh, former Chairman and Managing Director, Bank of Maharashtra, A S Bhattacharya, ex Executive Director of Corporation Bank, Asit Pal and Chartered Accountant, T N Manoharan.

The Supreme Court of India on 30 March 2012 refused to pass any order on a mercy petition in the death sentence to Balwant Singh Rajoana, awarded death sentence for assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh. A Supreme Court Bench of Justices T S Thakur and Gyan Sudha Misra observed that since the convict has not filed any petition before the court and the petitioner Abhinav Ramakrishna has no locus standi to plead on his behalf, the court can not pass any order in the clemency petition. Petitioner Abhinav Ramakrishna, an advocate, was told by the court that since petition was filed under

government to provide records of all 18 mercy pleas, pending before the President of India. The court asked Additional SolicitorGeneral Harin Raval to furnish details of all the mercy pleas pending consideration before the President for periods ranging from one to seven years. A 18

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) on 29 March 2012, reconstituted the advisory board on bank, commercial and financial frauds. The board, with former Deputy Governor of RBI

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Article 32, it cannot be entertained as in no way, any fundamental right of the petitioner was violated. The bench ruled that the Article 32 of Indian Constitution could only be invoked by a person whose fundamental right is violated.

The Union Cabinet of India on 23 March 2012 approved the redrafted Marriage laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010. The bill seeks to give a woman share in her husband’s property in case of a divorce but the quantum of share will be decided by the courts on case by case basis. It also aims at giving rights to adopted children on par with biological off-springs. According to the redrafted bill, adopted children will have rights on par with biological off-springs of a couple in case the parents go for a divorce. It is important to note that all these changes in the bill were based on the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice and Personnel. The Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010, was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in August 2010 and then it was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice and Personnel. Earlier, The Union Cabinet of India on 10 June 2010 had approved the introduction of a Bill, namely, the

Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010 to further amend the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and the Special Marriage Act, 1954, to provide therein irretrievable break down of marriage as a ground of divorce. The Bill would provide safeguards to parties to marriage who file petition for grant of divorce by consent from the harassment in court if any of the party does not come to the court or try to avoid the court to keep the divorce proceedings inconclusive.

The Union Government of India notified the setting up of the anti-terror body called National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). NCTC will have the

Act. It will work as an integral part of Intelligence bureau. The notification mandates the terrorfighting agencies to share their inputs with NCTC and it also appoints the director and his core team. Director of NCTC will have full functional autonomy and he will have the power to seek information on terror from National Investigation Agency, NATGRID, intelligence units of CBI, National Technical Research Organisation and directorate of revenue intelligence in addition to all seven central armed police forces including NSG. He will report to the IB chief and the home ministry. The notification was issued under the Article 73 of the Constitution of India.

The Supreme Court of India ruled that one cannot acquire title to a property only because he or she had been allowed to stay in the premises for long. The apex court directed the courts to deal firmly with those involving innocent owners in prolonged real estate litigation. A threejudge bench including justices Dalveer Bhandari, Deepak Verma and HL Dattu gave the ruling. The bench also set fresh guidelines that caretakers, servants and watchman do not acquire property merely because of its possession by them for several years. 19

power to carry out operations including arrest, search and seizure. It will draw its functional power of search and seizures under the provisions of the UAPA (Unlawful Activities (Prevention)

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The Fourth BRICS summit was held in New Delhi on 29 March 2012. The theme of the summit was BRICS partnership for Global Stability, Security and Prosperity. The summit was participated by India, Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa. At the end of the summit, Delhi Declaration was issued. Development banks of BRICS signed two agreements- i) Master agreement on extending credit facility in local currency. ii) BRICS Multilateral letter of credit confirmation facility agreement. The five participating banks are Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social- BNDES, Brazil; State Corporation Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs-Vneshecon20

ombank of Russia; Export-Import bank of India; China Development Bank Corporation, and Development Bank of Southern Africa. These two agreements are expected to enhance cooperation among the BRICS development banks and to significantly promote intra-BRICS trade.

The BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) idea was first conceived in 2001 by Goldman Sachs as part of an economic modeling exercise to forecast global economic trends over the next half century; the acronym BRIC was first used in 2001 by Goldman Sachs in their Global

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Economics Paper No. 66, “The World Needs Better Economic BRICs”. BRIC Foreign Ministers at their meeting in New York on 21st September 2010 agreed that South Africa may be invited to join BRIC. Accordingly, China, as the host of 3rd BRICS Summit, invited South African President to attend the Summit in Sanya on 14 April 2011 with the concurrence of other BRIC Leaders.

in many of the MDEP activities, including the harmonisation efforts.

The USA on 4 April 2012 eased some sanctions against Myanmar which includes travel and financial sanctions. The announcement came within days of the National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi winning a seat in Parliament and her party sweeping the byelections. High-ranking Myanmar officials will now be able to visit the United States and the US will open a development office in Myanmar. The EU is also considering a similar package.

The European Union on 28 March 2012 called on North Korea to abandon its planned rocket launch and dismantle its nuclear weapons programme. The EU stated that it was deeply concerned about North Korea’s plan to launch a satellite into orbit next month. It asked North Korea’s government to be more concerned with improving its human rights violations and hunger issues. North Korea says it will go ahead with its mid-April launch, adding that it is a peaceful scientific project meant to celebrate the 100th birth anniversary of founding leader Kim Il Sung.



India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board was admitted as the 11th member of MEDP (Multinational Design Evaluation Programme) on 4 April 2012. The other members of this body are China, Finland, Japan, Korea, South Africa, USA, UK, Canada, France and Russia. MDEP is a multinational initiative taken by national safety authorities to develop innovative approaches to leverage the resources and knowledge of the national regulatory authorities who are currently or will be tasked with the review of new reactor power plant designs. It was launched in 2006 by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) of the United States and the French Nuclear Safety Authority. The OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) acts as the Technical Secretariat for the MDEP. The International Atomic Energy Agency participates

World Trade Organisation (WTO) on 11 April 2012 pegged


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world trade growth at 3.7 per cent for 2012 thereby projecting a further slowdown in world trade. World trade expanded by a mere 5 per cent in 2011 a sharp deceleration from the 2010 rebound of 13.8 per cent. The WTO expects trade to recover by 2013 and result in additional growth of 5.6 percent. The dollar value of world merchandise trade in 2011 increased 19 percent to $18.2 trillion thus surpassing 2008 peak of $16.1 trillion due to higher commodity prices. Asia recorded the strongest growth in exports (6.6 percent), on account of a leap of 16.1 percent in India and 9.3 percent in China. India recorded exports growth of 16 per cent in 2011, the fastest in the world in volume terms in 2011. China had the second-fastest export growth of many major economies at 9.3 per cent. India also emerged as the second-fastest importer after China growing at 6 per cent in 2011.

also calls for a full cease-fire to be supervised by the UN so that all parties can discuss a political solution. The protests against Syrian regime started in March 2011.

immediately. However, the US forces had always maintained that night raids were important and effective in dealing with insurgency.










Syria on 27 March 2012 accepted the 19-point UN peace plan to end violence in country. The 19-point plan was handed over by Kofi Annan to Syrian President during his recent visit to the Syria. The plan calls for a cease-fire by Syrian forces and to commit to a daily two-hour halt in fighting to allow humanitarian access and medical evacuations. It 22

United States of America and Afghanistan on 8 April 2012 signed MoU on the controversial issue of conduct of night raids on Afghan homes. It empowered the Afghan security forces oversight over the raids led by the US troops. The agreement leads to a more comprehensive long-term strategic partnership agreement between the two nations after the departure of all foreign troops from Afghanistan in 2014. The issue of night raids was a big hurdle in the way of the strategic partnership agreement. Afghanistan had repeatedly described the night raids a violation of its sovereignty and called for stopping them

Qatar on 3 April 2012 rejected Iraq’s request to hand over the nation’s fugitive Tareq Al Hashemi to face terror charges in Baghdad. Qatar stated that it would not extradite him since such a move would be contrary to diplomatic protocol. Qatar will not hand him over because there is no court verdict against him and because al-Hashemi is a foreign official with diplomatic immunity. Iraq had asked Qatar to extradite the top Sunni leader Tareq AlHashemi against whom the Shiite Government issued an arrest warrant in December 2011 on charges of running death squads for killing of Government officials and opponents. The row is likely to further strain ties between

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government had not done enough to stem the Tuareg rebellion rekindled in January 2012. Mali is located in western part of Africa. It is land-locked country. Tuareg people form a distinct minority in all the Saharan countries they live in and a majority in many Saharan regions.

A strong 6.6-magnitude eartquake hit waters off eastern Indonesia on 21 April 2012. The tremor was centered only 30 kilometers below the ocean floor. Indonesia, given its location on the

Shiite-led Iraq and Sunni Gulf Arab states. Tariq al-Hashimi was general secretary of the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP) until May 2009. He is Sunni. Along with Adil Abdul Mahdi, he was a Vice President of Iraq in the government formed after the December 2005 elections.

Israel snapped working relations with the United Nations Human Rights Council. The

Council passed a resolution recently against Israel. The resolution condemned Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and decided to send a fact-finding mission to investigate such activity. Israel stated that no UNHRC team would be allowed to enter Israel or the West Bank for investigation of Jewish settlements. Israel moved 5 lakh Jews to the West Bank and east Jerusalem settlements after capturing the areas, along with Gaza in the 1967 war.

Tuareg rebels on 1 April 2012 tightened their grip on northern Mali. It seized control of a key city called Gao and encircled the historic desert town of Timbuktu. Moreover, the two military camps of Gao have fallen into the hands of the different rebel groups. Earlier, Army seized power in Mali because the

Pacific “Ring of Fire”, is highly prone to earthquakes. The country over the past few months has witnessed a string of seismic turmoil. More than 2 lakh people were killed in a massive earth quake that hit the country on 26 December, 2004. The deadly quake had triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean which subsequently claimed the life of 23

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tens of thousands of people across the Indian Ocean region.

A passenger aero plane crash near Islamabad in Pakistan on 20 April 2012, left more than 100

people dead. The tragic incident occurred while the airliner was attempting to land during a thunderstorm. The Bhoja airliner had been flying from the southern seaport city of Karachi and burst into flames right before its landing in the Islamabad following a 3½hour flight. The airline Boeing 737 was carrying 121 passengers, including 11 children, as well as six crew. The crash occurred near the Chaklala airbase, a military site used by the country’s air force, which is adjacent to the Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad.

been imposing punitive measures to North Korea since July 2006 following North Korea’s missile test. The decision by the Japanese government came at a time when North Korea confirmed that it would not give up its planned satellite launch. A lack of progress in resolving Pyongyang’s past abductions of Japanese citizens also led to the extension.

called themselves the National Committee for the Reestablishment of Democracy and the Restoration of the State (CNRDR). USA suspended military aid and other funds directed to Mali’s government in its response to military coup in Mali. It called for immediate restoration of constitutional rule.

Taliban militants on 15 April 2012, unleashed a string of attack in the high profile diplomatic pockets, NATO bases and Parliament of Kabul capital city of Afghanistan. The militants also hit three provinces—in Jalalabad, Logar and Paktia. The attack left 24 people injured and 7 militants killed. The attackers also fired

Rebel troops in Mali ousted its President Amadou Toumani on 22 March 2012. The ousted president Amadou Toumani Toure was due to leave office after elections on 29 April 2012. The rebels blamed the government for failing to control an ethnic Tuareg insurgency in the Northern part of Mali. The Tuareg insurgency includes fighters who supported Mummar Gaddafi in Libya. The army leaders who staged the coup





The Japanese government decided to extend the sanctions against North Korea for one year. The sanctions, expiring 13th of April, ban all imports from and exports to North Korea. Japan has 24

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The Syrian government announced ceasefire against rebels on 12 April 2012. There would be no military operations against rebels. But the troops will remain on alert to thwart attack by armed groups against civilians and the security forces. The ceasefire will be effective throughout Syria. However, the Syrian authorities reserved the right to respond to any attacks by armed terrorist groups against civilians, government forces and private property.

rockets at the parliament building and at the Russian embassy. Across the border in Pakistan, Talibani militants also stormed neighbouring state Pakistan as they raided a jail at Bannu and released close to 400 of their cadres. In two separate incidents of attack the militants killed 12 people in Peshawar and injured 12 in a time bomb explosion in Lower Kurram. The attack is considered to be the most severe ever since the NATO forces took control over the troubled nation in 2001. The attack,came at a time when Afghanistan is going through a period of political transition, holds a great strategic importance for USA, which along with its NATO allies is planning to leave the country by July 2013. Considering the deadly attacks that Taliban militants have unleashed over the last few months, the US’ decision

to withdraw its troops from the trouble torn nation seems to be a far fetched idea.

UN Human Rights Council on 21 March 2012 passed a resolution in Geneva calling for a probe into Israeli settlements in occupied territories. Thirty-Six nations voted in favour, 10 abstained while United States was the only nation to vote against the resolution. The UN resolution states that the Israeli settlements is infringing on the rights of the Palestinian people. The resolution asked Israel to confiscate arms to prevent acts of violence by Israeli settlers. In fact, more than 3.10 lakhs Israelis live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and their number is increasing. Another 2 lakhs live in a dozen settlement in east Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in 1967. Palestinians have demanded a freeze on the settlements as one of the pre condition for peace talks. 25

The United Nations Security Council on 20 March 2012 adopted a statement supporting U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s plan to try to end Syria’s year-long unrest. The statement says Syria will face further sanctions if it rejects Annan’s sixpoint peace proposal. The plan calls for a cease-fire, political dialogue between the government and opposition, and access for humanitarian aid agencies. Kofi Annan sent a five-member team of international experts to Syria on 18 March 2012 to try to secure a cease-fire between government and rebel forces.

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Trafigura Pvt. Ltd. picked up 24 percent equity in Nagarjuna Oil Corporation Ltd (NOCL) by investing around 650 crore rupees. Trafigura is a commodity trader in the global sphere. NOCL is carrying out six million tone oil refinery project at Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu. The total estimate of the project is 7610 crore rupees. Trafigura has also planned to invest 600 crore rupees into the construction of storage facilities. This will be done through another joint venture between Trafigura and NOCL called Portoil Ltd.

Scheme under the New Pension System (NPS) from three years to

Reserve Bank of India, the apex Indian Bank, on 17 April 2012, cut the key policy rates for the first time in the past three years. While the repo rate (the rate at which the RBI lends money to banks) was cut down by 50 basis points from 8.50 per cent to 8.00 per cent, the reverse repo rate (normally fixed at a spread of 100 basis points below the repo rate) was reduced to 7.0 per cent. The marginal standing facility rate, which has a spread of 100 basis

The Union Cabinet on 12 April 2012 approved the extension of funding support for implementing the Swavalamban 26

five years for all subscribers enrolled during 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13. The exit norms of the scheme were also relaxed to enable subscribers under Swavalamban to exit at age 50 instead of 60, or a minimum tenure of 20 years, whichever is later.The Cabinet decided to provide an additional funding support of Rs 2065 crore to the scheme till 2016-17. The cabinet’s decision will benefit 70 lakh workers in the unorganised sector.

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points above the repo rate, now stands at 9.0 per cent. NBFCs in the space. However, Muthoot, the country’s biggest player in gold loan stated that there would not be much impact.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its World Economic Outlook (WEO), released ahead of the IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings, marginally lowered India’s economic growth forecast to 6.9% in 2012, from 7% projected earlier. The IMF projected world economic growth rate to slump to 3.5% in 2012 from 3.9% in 2011. It pegged India’s growth during the 2013 calendar year at 7.3%. The WEO pointed out that in emerging Asia, including India, strengthening domestic demand will require improving the conditions for private investment by addressing infrastructure bottlenecks and enhancing governance and public service delivery. The WEO while referring to the declining growth rate stated that domestic factors also contributed to the slowdown, as deterioration in business sentiment weakened investment and policy tightening raised borrowing costs.

commercial borrowing (ECB) norms for the power sector. The announcement was made in tune with the announcement made in this respect by the Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee while presenting the Union budget 201213. Power sector companies will now be able to use up to 40 per cent of ECB loans to refinance their rupee debt, provided the remaining 60% balance is utilised for investments in new projects. So far, power companies were permitted to use only 25 per cent of the ECB to refinance their domestic rupee-debt loan. Besides, the government also opened the ECB route for capital expenditure on maintenance and operations of toll systems in the roadways and highways sector, only if these constitute a part of the original project.

equipment such as aircraft. The policy decision in this respect will provide an additional source of low-cost capital to the airline industry and help them tide over its present financial crunch.

Commerce Secretary on 19 April 2012 announced that India surpassed the export target of $300 billion for 2011-12. India was able to surpass the trade target of $300 billion despite slowdown in demand in its traditional markets of the U.S. and Europe. Exports increased by 21 per cent to $303.7 billion in 2011-12 powered by a strong growth in petroleum, pharmaceuticals and engineering products. However, imports surged by 32.1 per cent to $488.6 billion thereby leaving the highestever trade deficit of $184.9 billion. Engineering exports grew by 16.9 per cent to $58.2 billion. Exports of petroleum and oil products surged by 38.5 per cent to $57.5 billion and gems and jewellery exports increased to $45.9 billion.



The Union government decided to liberalise the external

The Union government on 19 April 2012 permitted companies engaged in the aviation sector to raise working capital resources through the external commercial borrowings (ECBs) route to the tune of $1 billion. The limit for individual airline companies was set at $300 million. This limit can be availed themselves of either in a lump sum or in tranches, depending on the utilisation of the limit during the one year when the facility is available. So far airlines were allowed to raise foreign capital only for import of capital

Following RBI’s decision to hike bank rate, the Food Ministry increased the interest rate on loans provided to sugar factories from the Sugar Development Fund (SDF) to 7.5% from the earlier 4% from 14 February 2012. The Fund is utilised to provide loans at 27

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concessional rates to sugar factories for development, modernisation, co-generation of sugar-cane and as well as ethanol projects. The interest rate was increased after Reserve Bank of India announced its decision on 13 February to hike the Bank Rate to 9.5 per cent per annum from 6 per cent per annum. Given that the Food Ministry provides SDF loans at 2 per cent less than the prevailing bank rate, the interest rate was revised to 7.5 per cent per annum (2 per cent less than bank rate of 9.5 per cent).

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on 31 March 2012 issued broad guidelines on Algorithmic Trading. Based on recommendations of technical advisory committee (TAC) and secondary market advisory committee (SMAC), SEBI decided to enforce broad guidelines for algorithmic trading in the securities market.

Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) granted the landing rights to the Indian channel after a long six years of wait.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) in its flagship annual publication Asian Development Outlook (ADO) released on 11 April 2012 projected moderate increase in growth rate for India to 7 percent in 2012-13. The ADB stated that strong economic performance would depend on the country’s ability to push reforms agenda and address issues constraining investments. The government however estimated a growth rate of 7.6 per cent for 2012-13 fiscal. Moderation in the growth of non-oil imports in 2012-13 and improved economic prospects in the advanced countries in 2013-14 is likely to help the current account deficit to improve to 3.3% in 201213 and further to 3% in 2013-14. 28 The market regulator directed stock exchanges to undertake system upgradation, including periodic upgradation of its surveillance system so as to keep pace with the speed of trade and volume of data that may arise through algorithmic trading. Also, the stock exchanges were asked to put in place monitoring systems to identify and initiate measures to impede any possible instances of order flooding through this system.

Zee TV had already been selling to Chinese television channels its popular Mandarindubbed Indian programmes which had garnered a considerable viewership in the country. Zee TV Asia Pacific inked a landing agreement with the CTV-STVP, only Chinese agent allowed to distribute foreign channels.

As per the Controller General of Accounts’ (CGA) data released on 30 March 2012, union government’s fiscal deficit during the April-February period of 201112 stood at Rs 4.93 lakh crore, or 95% of the revised estimates. At the end of the 11 months ending February, the fiscal deficit was Rs 493571 crore or 94.6% of the target. During the April-February period

Zee TV on 27 March 2012 became the first Indian channel to get a landing right in China. China’s State Administration for

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of 2010-11, the deficit had stood at 68.6% of the budgeted target. The government in March revised upwards the fiscal deficit target for the 2011-12 fiscal to 5.9% of GDP, from 4.6% projected earlier. Rise in fiscal deficit was attributed to high subsidy bill, increasing crude oil prices, low tax collection and poor realisation from sale of government equity in state-owned companies.

Fund which were based on Polluters pay Principle and aimed to reduce the use of personal vehicles.

The Reserve Bank of India on 3 April 2012 tightened the reporting requirements of the banks. As per the directions issued, banks will have to submit a monthly statement informing the central bank about the quantity of gold imported and mode of payment adopted. The statement is to be filed with the foreign exchange department of the RBI and has to be submitted at the end of March and September.

gem & jewellery sector, as well as mode of payment. Banks were also directed to file monthly statement on the quantity and value of gold imports by the nominated agencies (other than the nominated banks), EOUs, SEZs as well as the cumulative position at the end of the reporting month.

A government subcommittee set up to look into probable sources of funds for urban transport projects in the 12th Plan recommended creation of a national fund, resource for which can be generated through taxes on vehicles and petrol consumption. The Sub-Committee on Financing Urban Infrastructure in the 12th Plan report suggested investments to the tune of Rs 87000 crore in the Five Year Plan duration. The sub-committee, constituted by the Urban Development ministry opined that the huge investment needs cannot be met only from traditional budgetary sources alone. A dedicated urban transport fund at the national level as envisaged in (National Urban Transport Policy) or NUTP-2006 was recommended. The subcommittee also identified some sources of revenue for the creation of the National Urban Transport

Apex Indian bank, the Reserve Bank of India on 21 April 2012 directed all commercial banks to print the MICR and IFSE code on the passbook and statement of account of the customers. The bank made the printing of MICR and IFSE code compulsory for all the banks. The banks, under their current practice, provide MICR code on the cheque leaf along with the IFSC code of the branch. Under the RBI guidelines, MICR code is mandatory for all electronic clearing services (credit and debit) transactions. IFSC code is a prerequisite for national electronic funds transfer (NEFT) and real time gross settlement (RTGS) transactions. MICR (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition) is the bottom line on all checks. It is printed using a special font. IFSC Code (Indian Financial System Code) is an eleven character code assigned by RBI to identify every bank branches uniquely, that are 29

The directive was issued amidst concerns of huge outflow of foreign exchange on import of gold which is believed to be putting pressure on the India’s current account deficit (CAD). Banks were directed to file a half yearly statement on quantity and value of gold imported by nominated banks, agencies, export-oriented units (EOUs) and special economic zone (SEZs) in

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participating in NEFT system in India. This code is used by electronic payment system applications such as RTGS, National Electronic Fund Transfer and CFMS.

from the Mauritius, followed by Singapore ($4.30 billion) and Japan ($2.75 million).

The Union Cabinet on 12 April 2012 approved a proposal to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) to help facilitate the smooth introduction of the new indirect tax regime. GSTN SPV is to be incorporated as Section 25 not-for-profit private limited company in which strategic control would be held by the Centre. It will provide IT infrastructure and services to various stakeholders including the Centre and states.The SPV will have an equity capital of Rs 10 crore, with both the Centre and states having stakes of 24.5 per cent each. Non government institutions would hold 51 per cent equity.

The Department of Telcom’s (DoT) power to impose penalty on operators for not dully completing formalities of customer verification for security purposes was upheld by tribunal Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal’s (TDSAT). While delivering its judgement a twomember TDSAT bench stated that the matter related to the security of the nation so far as conduct of telegraph is concerned, can be implemented through conditions of licence. TDSAT’s order followed a petition filed by the GSM lobby group COAI and various operators challenging the penalty imposed by the DoT. Operators had requested that the penalty regime introduced by DoT on 22 November 2006 be quashed as they felt that the penalty imposed by the DoT ‘s TERM Cell in various circles as illegal, arbitrary and suffering from procedural impropriety. Operators claimed that imposition of the Scheme of Financial Penalty for Violation of Terms and Conditions of the Licence Agreement for Subscriber Verification Failure Cases imposed by DoT was not countenanced under the terms of the licences.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into the services sector in India went up by 62% during April-January period 201112 on account of unfavourable economic conditions of the western markets. The financial and nonfinancial services sector attracted FDI worth $4.83 billion during the 10-month period of 2011-12 as compared to $2.98 billion in the April-January period of 2010-11. The trend reflected confidence in India’s growth story. It was observed that though the economic growth in India itself declined in 2011-12 to 6.9%, the economy was among the best performing in the world. Despite taxation and policy issues, the country enjoys the investor confidence as is evident from a 53 per cent increase in total FDI inflows to $26.19 billion during the 10-month period (April-January 2011-12). The sectors that attracted sizeable FDI inflows include drugs and pharmaceutical ($3.20 billion), construction ($2.23 billion), telecommunications ($1.99 billion) and power ($1.56 billion). The highest FDI of $8.91 billion came 30

Rupert Murdoch led Star Group on 16 april 2012 decided to put an end over its joint venture with its Indian television news channel partner. The company cited the split on regulatory headaches as the reason behind the decision. Star’s logo will stop to be broadcast on the three news channels run under the joint venture within four months. The company held 26 percent stake in the joint venture with local partner the Ananda Bazaar Patrika Group. The JV came into being in 2003. In Media Content & Communi

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cations Services the maximum permissible level of investment under Indian regulations is 26 per cent.



enable major coal producing states to earn revenue of about Rs 6980 crore in place of Rs 5950 crore being earned at present at existing rates. The new regime is to increase the combined earning by more than Rs 1050 crore.

capital loans. The proposal to make the airline’s MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) business and its Engineering Services as two wholly-owned subsidiaries was also approved. The MRO unit is to get Rs. 375 crore over three years and is projected to be a profit-making company from 2017-18. The MRO unit will aim at tapping the potential of nearly $1.5 billion in the Asia Pacific region. About 7000 employees of Air India will migrate to the subsidiary company.

The Union Cabinet on 12 April 2012 approved Public Procurement Bill, 2012 which aims at regulating public procurement of above Rs 50 lakh and provides fair treatment to bidders. The move is aimed at bringing transparency in State purchases. Public Procurement Bill, 2012 aims at regulating public procurement by all ministries and departments of the Union government, Central public sector enterprises (CPSEs), autonomous and statutory bodies controlled by the Centre and other procuring entities. The Bill also proposes absence of price negotiations, except in circumstances that are prescribed, and for which reasons are to be recorded. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) also approved an ad-valorem regime for calculating royalty for coal and lignite. Following the approval the coffers of coal-bearing states will get richer by over Rs 1000 crore. Currently the hybrid formula is in place for charging royalty on coal and lignite at the rate of 14 per cent and 6 per cent respectively. Royalty rates on coal and lignite have not been revised since 2007. The ad-valorem regime will

The Union government approved Rs 30000 crore bailout for Air India. It was decided that Rs 6750 crore would be infused immediately to meet the airline’s working capital requirement and the total of bailout amount would be spread out over a period of 9 years. The Rs 30000 crore bailout package was approved in addition to the equity infusion of Rs 3200 crore already in place. The government also decided on other issues with an objective of pulling out ailing Air India from its debt burden and enabling it to turn into a profit making venture. The decisions of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) decided to hive off the engineering services and ground handling business, and go ahead with the induction of 27 new Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The domestic carrier will get the government guarantee for repayment of principal amount and payment of interest on the non-convertible debentures of Rs. 7400 crore proposed to be issued to financial institutions, banks, the Life Insurance of Corporation and used to repay part of working



The Union government made it mandatory for individuals with income above Rs 10 lakh to file their tax returns 2011-12 onwards electronically. Efiling was made compulsory for the person who is an individual, or a Hindu Undivided Family, if his or its total income, or the total income in respect of which he is or it is assessable under the Act during the previous year, exceeds Rs 10 lakh for assessment year 2012-13 onwards. E-filing for such individuals was optional till 201011. Currently business houses with receipts of Rs 60 lakh and professionals with income of Rs 15 lakh are mandatorily required to e-file their return with digital signature. The department had received a record number of 1.64 crore e31

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returns in the 2011-12 financial year. As on 31 March 2012, there were 19684,592 tax payers who had registered for e-filing. The efiling measure was adopted to encourage people to go for e-filing of returns so as to fasten the process of filing of taxes. The digital signature was however not mandatory for them. The new tax returns forms ask assessees to furnish details of donations made for claiming tax deductions. Also the government made it mandatory reporting of assets

held by individuals abroad, including financial interest in any entity, overseas.

Jagran Prakashan Limited (JPL), the publisher of the India’s largest read daily Dainik Jagran, on 2 April 2012 bought Suvi Info Management (Indore) Private Limited, the company that under its subsidiary Nai Dunia Media

Limited publishes Hindi daily Nai Dunia in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Nai Dunia, which has a daily circulation of around 500000 copies, publishes several editions from Indore, Gwalior, Jabalpur and Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh and Raipur and Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh. Jagran Prakashan Limited had acquired English daily Mid Day in 2010 in a 175 crore rupees deal. The new acquisition will enable the company to grow inorganically through mergers and acquisitions.

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India and Britain held the fifth ministerial level India-UK economic financial dialogue in New Delhi on 2 April 2012. Both nations discussed ways to strengthen their mutual cooperation and further boost trade and investment between them. Highlights of the dialogue are as following: v Both nations agreed that while the global economy has stabilized in recent months, growth will remain subdued and at risk from a series of threats. v India and Britain welcomed the exchange of ideas in financing infrastructure as part of the Dialogue, noting that both countries share a common aim of increasing the role of institutional

investors in infrastructure financing. v India and Britain also discussed the importance of developing deep and efficient capital markets to support infrastructure financing in India. Foreign capital can play an important part in this process. v Both nations supported the

progress on the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) roadmap for foreign banks in India. v Both sides agreed that there was a clear benefit to sharing experiences on this and welcomed the ongoing technical collaboration to assist the FSLRC (Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission) in carrying out its mandate.


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v Both sides welcomed the Cannes Action Plan for Growth and Jobs agreed at the November 2011 Cannes Summit. v Both nations are committed to ensuring that the IMF is adequately resourced to play its systemic role in the international financial system in support of its entire membership and that the quota and governance reforms of the IMF are implemented within the agreed timelines. v Both sides agreed to remain committed to pursuing the financial regulatory reform agenda according to the time table agreed in G-20 in an internationally consistent and non-discriminatory manner. This will be monitored by the Financial Stability Board through its Coordination Framework for Implementation Monitoring. Both sides discussed the joint approaches to meeting these commitments and will continue to work together to strengthen the global financial system. v Both sides recognized the need for countries to sign the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters and engage in automatic exchange of information where legally required to 34

improve tax compliance and decrease tax evasion. v Recognising the importance of open trade for the global economy, India and UK reaffirmed their commitment to refrain from protectionism. v India and the UK welcomed the 40% year on year increase in the export of goods from the UK to India and the increase by 35.05% of exports from India to UK in 2011.

items that were included in negative List of 1209 items are sports goods and surgical goods, cigarettes , crude and palm oil, tobacco, paracetamol, eye drops, perfumes, toothpastes, cellular mobiles phones, leather made jackets and coats, different types of papers, telephone cables, CNG and LPG buses, gas and electricity meters, mini vans and rickshaws. Finalising the negative list will help increase bilateral trade between India and Pakistan.

The Pakistan government issued the Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) for switching over to a negative list regime for trade with India. As per SRO, the import of 1209 Indian products will be included in the negative list and will not be importable from India. Of the importable items from India, 137 products can be brought in from India through the Wagah land border crossing. Several

India and the UAE signed an agreement in Abu Dhabi to amend the double taxation avoidance treaty, paving the way for greater sharing of tax related information between the two countries and also agreed to set up a joint committee to look after consular issues.The India-UAE agreement on avoidance of double taxation was updated to bring it at par with the internationally accepted

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standards. Now the banking information as well as any information without any domestic tax interest can be shared between the two nations. A Joint Committee will be set up to look into and address the concerns of Indian and Emirati nationals on counsellar issues. These include issues such as birth or death registration, quasi judicial matters like detention or arrest, travel documents like passport and visa and others affecting the people.It is expected that the agreements will protect the interests of the people and promote stronger relations between the two countries.

and strategies on integrated policies and principles for urban development and revitalization in the two nations.

The Bangladesh government decided to honour 132 foreign leaders, intellectuals, cultural personalities and organisations who helped in the country’s Liberation war of 1971.

India and Qatar signed six agreements, including a pact on cooperation in oil and gas exploration. The agreements were signed in New Delhi during the visit of Qatar ’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al- Thani.

India and Germany decided to promote bilateral cooperation in the field of sustainable urban development through exploration of solutions to problems of mutual concern. A joint declaration to this effect was signed at a meeting in New Delhi between Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath and his German counterpart Peter Ramsauer. Both the leaders had discussions on a range of issues, including boosting trade and investment as well as energy ties between the two countries. Issues relating to the welfare of Indian workers in the Gulf country were also discussed. India and Qatar signed a pact on establishing a cooperative framework to increase bilateral cooperation in oil and gas. It is likely to encourage and promote investment and cooperation between the two Ministries of oil and gas and through affiliated companies. A memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Reserve Bank of India and Qatar Central Bank.

The list of people to be honoured includes 47 Indians.The honour will be conferred on 27 March 2012. The Indians who are being awarded include Sachindra Lal Singh, Rajeshawar Rao, Siddhartha Shankar Ray, P A Sangma Justice Sadat Abul Masud,Dr Karan Singh, Maharani Biva Kumari Devi, Field Marshal SAM Manekshaw, Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, Lt Gen Jacob, Lance Nayek Albert Ekka.

India and Colombia signed a Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) in New Delhi for the Years 2012-2016. The CEP was signed in conformity with the provision established in the Cultural Agreement between the Government of India and the Government of Colombia. CEP was signed in Bogota, capital of Columbia on 22 May 1974. The CEP includes areas such as Cultural Heritage, Museums, 35

The Joint Declaration envisages promoting discussion

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Colombia when decided by both the nations.

The seventh meeting of the India-Russia Joint Working Group was held in New Delhi on 11 April 2012. India and Russia held comprehensive discussions on combating international terrorism and reaffirmed their commitment to consolidate bilateral interaction in the fight against this menace. The two countries emphasised that cooperation in countering new challenges and threats is an integral part of the Indian-Russian special and privileged strategic partnership. Moreover, both nations underlined the role of international efforts in preventing and suppressing terrorism including consistent implementation of the UN Global Counterterrorism Strategy and the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.

Archives, Exhibitions, Scenic Arts, Visual Arts, Cinematography, Radio and Television, Music, Libraries, Book and Literature, Creative Industries and Editorial Industry for cooperation. Both India and Colombia shall contribute to the exchange and cooperation between institutions and organisations that deals with cultural affairs, as well as amongst

cultural creators, researchers and cultural agents of the two nations. India and Colombia shall exchange visits of cultural delegations. Both the nations have agreed to set up a joint working group to look after the implementations of their programme. The joint working group will have a meeting alternately in India and in


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When South African botanist Lyall Watson claimed in his 1973 best-seller “Supernature” that plants had emotions that could register on a lie detector, scientists scoffed and branded it as hippie nonsense. But a new Australian research at The University of Western Australia has claimed to have discovered that plants appear to react to sounds and may even make clicking noises to communicate with each other. Monica Gagliano of UWA has teamed with colleagues Daniel Robert at the University of Bristol (UK) and Stefano Mancuso at the University of Florence (Italy) to show that the roots of young plants emit and react to particular sounds. Gagliano and fellow researchers established that young

roots of corn made regular clicking sounds. In addition to other forms of sensory response, “it is very likely that some form of sensitivity to sound and vibrations also plays an important role in the life of plants”. Gagliano said.

Astronomers discovered an ancient planetary system, which belonged to one of the earliest cosmic eras, 13 billion years ago. The planetary system consists of the star HIP 11952 and two planets namely HIP 11952b and HIP 11952c. The 2.2 m telescope at La

Silla made the discovery. The newly discovered planetary system will shed light on planet formation in the early universe. During that period, the planet formation was quite different from later planetary information. HIP 11952c is the size of Jupiter while the other, HIP 11952b is three times the size of Jupiter. The planets orbit their sun in 290 days and 7 days respectively.


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Traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs) also carry potentially lethal plant ingredients, allergens and traces of endangered species, according to a new research, which warned the consumers to be aware of health safety issues before adopting these as a treatment option.The 15 TCM samples, seized by Australian border officials, in the form of powders, tablets, capsules, flakes, and herbal teas were audited using the DNA sequencing technology. DNAs are preserved in the samples. “TCMs have a long cultural history, but today consumers need to be aware of the legal and health safety issues before adopting them as a treatment option,” said Michael Bunce, research leader and Murdoch University Australian Research Council Future Fellow, the journal Public Library of Science Genetics reports.

international team led by University of New South Wales. Water travels through the world’s oceans along great loops driven by massive and often deep currents in a process known as the global thermohaline circulation, said the study’s lead author, Dr Erik Van Sebille. Acting over millennial time scales, the global thermohaline circulation can exert significant influence on global climate variability. Because the Tasman leakage acts as a bottleneck in the Pacific-to-Indian flow, changes in this pathway can have significant impact on the global thermohaline circulation, say the researchers.

eventually grew hair, which continued regenerating in normal growth cycles after old hairs fell out. When stem cells are grown into tissues or organs, they usually need to be extracted from embryos, but Tsuji and his researchers found hair follicles can be grown with adult stem cells, the study said.



Japanese researchers have successfully grown hair on hairless mice by implanting follicles created from stem cells, they announced Wednesday, sparking new hopes of a cure for baldness. Led by professor Takashi Tsuji from Tokyo University of Science, the team bioengineered hair follicles and transplanted them into the skin of hairless mice. The creatures

A NASA spacecraft called Messenger in the last week of March 2012 discovered further evidence for the existence of water ice at Mercury’s poles. Although surface temperatures at Mercury can soar above 400 C, some craters at Mercury’s poles are permanently in shadow, turning them into so-called cold traps.





A study into how the Pacific Ocean leaks into the Indian Ocean has revealed details which researchers say could improve climate predictions. This so-called Tasman leakage in the south of Australia is the second-largest link between the Pacific and Indian oceans after the Indonesian through-flow to the country’s north, according to an 38

Scientists are building a human brain. For that they are using the world’s most powerful super-computer. It will stimulate the entire human mind to fight against Alzheimer ’s and other brain diseases. The human brain thus designed will combine all the information and will replicate them down to the level of individual cells and molecules. The technology will

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help in understanding diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Scientists discovered the genetic flaw that explains the reason why flu makes some people seriously ill. They in fact found a human gene called IFTIM3 that influences how people respond to flu infections.

same way insulin does. The team of scientists used fat stem cells of mice for their research. They found that mice showed remarkably low blood sugar levels. Because of the abundance of glucose transporters at their surfaces, the muscles of mice were taking up glucose at two to four times the usual rate. Scientists revealed that the mouse muscles continued to absorb extra sugar when they were isolated in the lab and exposed to blood serum.

old) that have a fully developed brain that is still “highly plastic.” The chronic treatment lasted for four weeks. The treated mice showed reversal of “learning and memory deficits, hyperreactivity to sensory stimuli. Chronic treatment for 17 weeks reversed elevated locomotor activity.

Scientists recently discovered a combination of proteins involved in prostate disorders. This could pave the way for effective and better treatments. In fact, scientists identified the G protein-coupled receptors, which enable cells to respond to neurotransmitters and hormones.

Studies undertaken in adult mice showed that the Fragile X syndrome (FXS) that causes the most common forms of inherited intellectual disability, including autism, can be reversed. Fragile X syndrome is caused by “mutations in the fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) gene.” A paper published today (April 12) in the journal Neuron , showed that such reversals can be achieved through chronic pharmacological intervention (mGlu5 inhibition) to correct for altered glutamate signalling. The study was undertaken in mice. The good news is that such reversals can be achieved even when the mice have become adults and where FXS has already become well established. Previous studies have shown the usefulness of pharmacological mGlu5 inhibition. The scientists started treatment in adult mice (4-5 weeks

It explains why some people experience mild flu symptoms while others are hospitalised. People who carried a particular variant of IFTIM3 and in large quantities had resisted the viruses in lungs while the others whose IFITM3 levels were lower, the flu virus could replicate and spread more easily, causing more severe symptoms.

Scientists identified a new hormone that can lower a person’s blood sugar level. It could pave the way for more effective diabetes treatment. It will be a useful alternative to insulin. It can send glucose out of the blood stream and into muscle in the

G protein- coupled receptors are essential proteins on the outside of cells that enabled signals from hormones and neurotransmitters to be transferred into the cell. Scientists found that that these receptors did not work in isolation, but in particular combinations, which they termed as heteromers. They suggested that a number of side effects from drugs may result from not fully understanding which combinations form and their side-effects. 39

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Prostate disorders such as benign prostatic hyperplasia affect most of the men at some stage in his life. Better drugs with fewer side effects were required to reduce the need for surgical operation.

Scientists identified two genes called OLFM4 gene and HOXB5 that increase the risk of common childhood obesity. The early Growth Genetics (EGG) Consortium made this finding. This finding will pave the way for preventive interventions and treatments for children based on their individual genomes. The scientists identified two novel loci, one near the OLFM4 gene on chromosome 13 and the other within the HOXB5 gene on chromosome 17. So far, Scientists knew little about genes implicated in regular childhood obesity.

Many employed persons who consider their job monotonous or boring, would like a change. But how many are able to give up their jobs and a steady income and try something else? “A farmer, Mr. Mansukhbhai Patel’s personal experience may serve as an example and encouragement for many. A tenth standard school dropout, Mr. Patel, born in a poor farmer family, is credited for inventing an updated cotton stripper machine, that revolutionized cotton cultivation in Gujarat,” says Prof Anil Gupta, Vice Chairman, National Innovation Foundation, Ahmedabad.

If non-identical twins are born from two totally different zygotes (fertilised eggs), identical twins form by the splitting of one zygote (fertilised egg) into two foetuses. Problems can arise when the splitting takes place between four and eight days after the egg is fertilised.

Italian Scientists in the second week of April 2012 found an intestinal parasite in pigs called Dientamoeba Fragilis, which also causes diarrhoea in humans. This discovery will help scientists understand its transmission better and find effective treatment. Scientists concluded that pig faeces was responsible for spreading parasite to humans. Dientamoeba fragilis is a singlecelled parasite. It is found in the gastrointestinal tract of some humans, pigs and gorillas. It causes gastrointestinal upset in some people. It causes travellers diarrhoea, chronic diarrhoea and fatigue.



What results due to such delayed splitting is that two amniotic sacs containing one foetus each are found inside one placenta. While 85 per cent of such foetuses go on to full term of development and are born as healthy infants, complications can arise in the remaining 15 per cent. 40

If carrying insects and small animals on board is commonplace today, could it have been different in the past — ten to 12 centuries ago? Not so, going by the evidence provided in a paper published recently in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. The paper provides an interesting find that rodents carried by the Vikings, the Scandinavian people who raided much of Northern and Western Europe from 8{+t}{+h} to 10{+t}{+h} century, left behind a genetic trail. Looking at the trail the study concludes that mice distribution in Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland parallels the

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human explorations of these areas. They were able to confirm this by comparing the DNA of modern mice population with the DNA obtained from archaeological material like bones from these places.

The Union Cabinet of India on 12 April 2012 approved India‘s Second National Communication to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change towards fulfilment of the reporting obligation under the Convention. This report shall benefit state and national level policy makers in enhancing the understanding of the issues related to climate change and its impact and create general awareness of the stakeholders relating to Government of India‘s proactive commitment towards addressing the challenges due to climate change. The range of studies included in this report has been conducted broadly at the national level, with some specific case studies highlighting the enormous diversity of India and their regional imperatives. India is a Party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate (UNFCCC).

capable of carrying half tonne loads, says a study. Aerogel, a buoyant material, is among the lightest solid substances on earth. Composed of tiny nano-fibrils, it is derived from plant cellulose and mimics the water strider, an insect which can walk on water on long, thin feet. Olli Ikkala, from the Helsinki University of Technology, Espoo, Finland, said aerogels are so light that some of them are denoted as “solid smoke.” They also have remarkable mechanical properties and are flexible.

ramidus (about 4.4 million years ago) with a divergent and relatively short big toe, as in the case of apes. By comparing the “functional morphology and proportions of several early hominin foot elements,” the researchers have built a strong case to test the diversity in bipedalism in early humans. The new species “indicates the presence of more than one hominin locomotor adaptation at the beginning of Late Pliocene epoch.” The study also records the presence of more than one early human species in eastern Africa around 3.4 million years ago. Anatomically, the fossil foot falls between modern humans and gorillas, the authors note. While certain features resemble As. Afarensis, it differs from chimpanzees and from African apes.

If the ability to walk and run on two legs (bipedalism) sets humans apart from apes, could this transition from tree-climbing to terrestrial walking have been smooth? Scientists think not, and the evidence provided in a paper published today (March 29) in Nature , shows why. A partially preserved skeleton of a single foot from a site (Worsanso-Mille) in the central Afar region of Ethiopia provides important evidence of the human ancestor’s ability to walk on land while still retaining the ability to climb trees. The taxonomic affinity of the new specimen remains undetermined. The skeletal remains, dated to around 3.4 million years ago, do not match the Australopithecus afarensis early humans (hominins) found between 2.9 million years to 3.6 million years ago. In fact, the fossil shows close resemblance to the earlier Ardipithecus

A new study found that contrary to the global trend of melting glaciers a few glaciers in the Himalayas mountain range

A pound of aerogel, an amazing, ultra lightweight material, is enough to build a boat


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have gained a small amount of mass between 1999 and 2008.The study was published in the Nature Geoscience journal. The study conducted by the France’s University of Grenoble maintained that the Karakoram mountain range in the Himalayas has contributed less to the rising sea level. The study, reversed to the common perception, estimated that the Karakoram glaciers have gained around 0.11 to 0.22 metres (0.36 feet to 0.72 feet) per year between 1999 and 2008. The Karakoram mountain range is spread across the borders between India, China and Pakistan and is covered by 19950 square kilometres (7702 square miles) of glaciers. The mountain range also houses the second highest mountain in the world, K2.

The early days of our solar system might look quite different than previously thought, claim physicists. In its research, a team at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory used more sensitive instruments to find a different half-life for samarium, one of the isotopes used to chart the evolution of the solar system.

melting glaciers a few glaciers in the Himalayas mountain range have gained a small amount of mass between 1999 and 2008.The study was published in the Nature Geoscience journal. The study conducted by the France’s University of Grenoble maintained that the Karakoram mountain range in the Himalayas has contributed less to the rising sea level. The study, reversed to the common perception, estimated that the Karakoram glaciers have gained around 0.11 to 0.22 metres (0.36 feet to 0.72 feet) per year between 1999 and 2008. The Karakoram mountain range is spread across the borders between India, China and Pakistan and is covered by 19950 square kilometres (7702 square miles) of glaciers. The mountain range also houses the second highest mountain in the world, K2.

Austrian and Japanese researchers recently unveiled solar cells thinner than a thread of spider silk that are flexible enough to be wrapped around a single human hair.

The thin-film device, comprising electrodes on a plastic foil, is about 1.9 micro-metres thick, a tenth the size of the thinnest solar cells currently available, the researchers said. One micro-metre is one millionth of a metre. “The total thickness of this device is less than a typical thread of spider silk,” the researchers said in a report carried by online science journalNature Communications . “Being ultra-thin means you don’t feel its weight and it is elastic,” said one of the researchers, Tsuyoshi Sekitani from the University of Tokyo. “You could attach the device to your clothes like a badge to collect electricity (from the sun)... Elderly people who might want to wear sensors to monitor their health would not need to carry around batteries,” Sekitani told AFP. The research was done jointly by Martin Kaltenbrunner, Siegfried Bauer and other researchers from Johannes Kepler University of Austria as well as Sekitani and other contributors from University of Tokyo.

Supermassive black holes can grow still bigger by ripping apart double-star systems and swallowing one of the stars, says a new astrophysics study. “Black holes are very efficient eating machines,” said Scott Kenyon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics (CfA). “They can double their mass in less than a

A new study found that contrary to the global trend of 42

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billion years. That may seem long by human standards, but over the history of the galaxy, it’s pretty fast.” “I believe this has got to be the dominant method for growing supermassive black holes,” added Benjamin Bromley of the University of Utah, who led the study, reports The Astrophysical Journal Letters . Their work follows up on the 2005 discovery, by a

star and eject the other, according to an Utah and CfA statement.

NTCA (National Tiger Conservation Authority) said in a reply to the RTI Query that 337 Tigers lost their lives in India in the last decade. NTCA elaborated

2011, 13 in 2009, six each in 2007 and 2008. NTCA is a statutory body under the ministry of environment and forests.






The Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) on 16 April 2012 banned the use of live animals in dissection and other experiments in educational and research institutions. However, the ban won’t be applicable on scientists conducting new molecular research. The ban is based on the prevention of cruelty to Animals Act (1960). Ministry issued guidelines to ministry of health and family welfare, Pharmacy council of India and the Medical Council of India and the University Grants Commission. The guidelines asked colleges, hospitals, laboratories and research institutes to use alternatives like computer simulation instead of animal dissection. The guidelines were framed based on the duties of the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments and Animals (CPCSEA). It was constituted under the provisions of Section 15 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1960). 43

team of CfA astronomers led by Warren Brown, of hypervelocity stars — stars that were flung out of the galactic centre by gravitational forces and are travelling fast enough to escape the Milky Way. Hypervelocity stars can travel tens of thousands of times as fast as a bullet. They originate from a binary (double) star system that wanders too close to the Milky Way’s central blackhole. Tidal forces capture one

that 58 tigers were found dead in 2009 and 56 in 2011. While in 2008, the number was 36 and 28 each in 2007 and 2002. As per the DATA released By NTCA, as many as 68 tigers were killed due to poaching during the period. While others died of natural causes like old age, accidents, starvation. According to NTCA’s estimates, 14 tigers were the victim of poaching in 2010, 11 in

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Social stress changes gene expression

The ranking of a monkey within her social environment and the accompanying stress dramatically alters the expression of nearly 1,000 genes.
Electronic cigarettes may help memory

risen and fallen by hundreds of metres over the last 200,000 years. Material recovered by a drilling project may help forecast future changes, says the study.
U.S. records warmest March since 1895

heat-resistant could usher in the development of next-generation flash-competitive memory.
‘2 degree target out of reach’

Electronic cigarettes — batteryoperated devices that provide nicotine via inhaled vapour — may help the memory as well as ease cravings.
Favourite music boosts performance

More than 15,000 temperature records dating back to 1895 were broken in March in the eastern twothirds of the U.S. The average temperature was 8.6 degrees above the 20{+t}{+h}century average.
Predator loss affects ecosystem health

Listening to your own choice of music could improve your enjoyment of taking part and performance in competitive sports, a study has found.
Incisive research links teeth with diet

Large herbivore populations, which have far exceeded their historic levels in the northern hemisphere due to the loss of predators like wolves, are causing disrupted ecosystems, an Oregon State University release says.
New method for cleaning up nuclear waste

The UN’s former climate chief said the global warming pledge he helped set at the Copenhagen Summit little more than two years ago was already unattainable. “I think two degrees is out of reach,” Yvo de Boer, former executive secretary of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said recently. The target was set by a core group of countries at the Copenhagen Summit in December 2009 and became enshrined by the forum at Cancun, Mexico a year later. But more and more scientists are warning that the objective is slipping away without radical, early cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions.
Mimicking butterfly wings for ‘green’ fuel

You are what you eat is truism that has been given new impetus by ‘cutting edge’ research that reveals your teeth are literally shaped by your food.
New report on the state of polar regions

A new crystalline compound can be tailored to safely absorb radioactive ions from nuclear waste streams, say researchers at the University of Notre Dame.
Super-Earth unlikely to transfer life

A synthesis of reports from thousands of scientists is the first in 50 years to offer a benchmark for environmental conditions in the polar regions.
Dead Sea almost dried up 100,000 years ago

While conditions suitable for life might exist on the so-called ‘SuperEarth’ in the Gliese 581 system, it’s unlikely to be transferred to nearby planets.
The next big thing in small memory devices

One promising technology for green fuel involves producing clean-burning hydrogen fuel from sunlight and water. Black butterfly wings turned out to be a natural solar collector worth studying and mimicking.
Deep-ocean impact of oilwell explosion

Researchers from Israel reveal that water levels of the Dead Sea have 44

New memory chips that are transparent, highly flexible, and

At an area 11 km to the south-west of the Gulf of Mexico spill site, a research team found numerous coral communities covered in a brown flocculent material and showing signs of tissue damage.

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Pregnancy increases risk of heart attack

New imaging technique to detect cancer

Plant-light study may lead to high-yield crops

Heart attacks during pregnancy tend to be more severe, lead to more complications, and also occur for different reasons than commonly seen in the non-pregnant general population, says new research.
Under-sea study of subseafloor structure

A newly developed imaging technique may be able to detect cancers that have spread to the brain even when tumours are small.
Same DNA codes found in varying plant species

By studying how leaves sensed light and drove plant growth towards sunlight, it is now possible to develop crops that optimise field space and produce more food, bio fuels and bio renewable chemicals.
Preventing obesity due to low birth weight

An expedition aboard the research vessel JOIDES Resolution learnt more about Atlantis Massif, an undersea mountain that formed differently than most oceans’ seafloors. Properties of rocks were measured directly in place.
Soy products may help lower blood pressure

University of Missouri researchers comparing genomes of six plant species (including grape) found identical sequences between the species. A ground-breaking computer algorithm was used in the study, published in a journal.
Faster, cheaper way to cool electronic devices

Babies born small put on weight later in life if allowed free access to calories. However, when small babies consumed moderately regulated calories during infancy, the propensity to become obese decreases.
Increased nitrous oxide due to fertilizer use

Soy-based food products’ benefits are steadily beginning to emerge. Eating foods that contain isoflavones — a key compound in soy milk, tofu, green tea and even peanuts — every day may help young adults lower their BP.
Engineers unlock secrets of beetle flight

North Carolina State University researchers used a ‘heat spreader’ made of a copper-graphene composite, which is attached to an electronic device using an indiumgraphene interface film to cool it.
Faster, cheaper way to cool electronic devices

Increased fertilizer use over the past 50 years is responsible for a dramatic rise in atmospheric nitrous oxide, a major greenhouse gas contributing to global climate change, says a study.
Plants use catalysis to split oxygen from water

Mechanical engineers are using remote-controlled rhinoceros beetles to study the mechanics behind their ability to fly.
Predicting progress of dementia using MRI

North Carolina State University researchers used a ‘heat spreader’ made of a copper-graphene composite, which is attached to an electronic device using an indiumgraphene interface film to cool it.
Greenland Ice sheet may be sliding away

Green plants produce oxygen from water efficiently using a catalytic technique powered by sunlight — a process that is part of photosynthesis and so effective that it is Earth’s major source of oxygen.
Sampling the Pacific for signs of Fukushima

It may be possible to predict the progress and path of many degenerative brain diseases using a new technique for analyzing brain images by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) says a study published in a journal.

Like snow sliding off a roof on a sunny day, the Greenland Ice Sheet may be sliding faster into the ocean due to massive releases of meltwater from surface lakes, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder.

A scientific team has found that following Fukushima, the concentrations of several key radioactive substances were elevated but varied widely across a Pacific study area, due to the complex marine environment.


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Tadpoles change shape due to herbicide

Queen bees on island keep colonies healthy

Making high quality glass with less heating

The world’s most popular weed killer, Roundup, can cause amphibians to change shape. Sublethal and environmentally relevant concentrations of Roundup caused tadpoles to alter their morphology.
Baboons spot specific combinations of letters

By mating with nearly 100 males, queen bees on isolated islands avoid inbreeding and keep colonies healthy. The results, published in PLoS ONE , focused on bee colonies on Hainan Island.
Mammals’ eating habits over evolutionary time

The transformation of powder mixtures into molten glass has been visualised. This insight will make it possible to produce high quality glass at lower temperatures, leading to significant energy savings.
Strong oral carcinogen in smokeless tobacco

Monkeys identify specific combinations of letters in words and detect anomalies — a capacity that certainly existed before speech. Baboons recognised and memorised the regular patterns which make up words, in a study.

The feeding habits of mammals haven’t always been what they are today, particularly for omnivores, finds a study. Some groups of mammals maintained steady diets, others changed their feeding strategies over time.

(S)-N’-nitrosonornicotine chemial, which is present only in the case of smokeless tobacco products, is a strong oral carcinogen. It is the only chemical in smokeless tobacco known to cause oral cancer.

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Star TV on 2 April 2012 won the rights to broadcast Indian cricket for next six years in a bid to the tune of 3851 crore rupees. Rupert Murdoch owned Star TV won the bid defeating Sony which had offered 150 crore rupees less than the winning bid. The rights include TV, Internet and Mobile broadcasting. The agreement will remain effective for a period of six years starting from from July 2012 to March 2018. not be applicable for the Indian Premier League (IPL). Star TV will pay around 40 crore rupees for each international match, which is 8 crore more than what was being paid by previous broadcaster Nimbus. The bid for the broadcasting rights was necessitated as the BCCI had abruptly terminated its broadcasting agreement with Nimbus in December 2011, three years before it was due to expires, over the issues related to payment.

The agreement gives Star TV rights to cover all home international matches and domestic tournaments involving Indian Cricket team. The right will

Ace tennis player Rafael Nadal on 22 April 2012 clinched his eighth consecutive Monte

Carlo Masters. The second seeded Nadal defeated Serbian Novak Djokovic in the final. The Monte Carlo Title is Nadal’s first since French Open title in 2011and the 47th of his ATP career. Prior to this the top seeded

Djokovic had defeated Nadal in seven title face-offs. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had defeated Gilles Simon and Tomas Berdych respectively in the semi finals of the tournament. 47

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Seventh seeded, Indo-Czeck pair of Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek claimed the doubles title of Miami Masters on 31 March 2012. Paes by winning the Miami Titles took the total number of his career titles to 50. The pair had defeated the world No.1 pairing of Americans Bob and Mike Bryan in the semifinals on 29 March 2012. Paes, who became the 24th player in ATP Tour history to complete 50 doubles titles, claimed 24270 dollars in prize money and 250 points.

World number one Novak Djokovic won the Miami Masters title on 1 April 2012. Djokovic defeated fourth seeded Andy Murray in the final. It was the third Miami Open Title win for Djokovic who also won it in 2007 and 2011. Only six-time champion Andre Agassi won more men’s titles. Serbian Tennis star had defeated 21st seeded Juan Monaco of Argentina in the semi-finals. Andy Murray made it to the finals after Rafael Nadal pulled out of the tournament given his knee injury right before his scheduled

semi-final match against Murray.

Fourth seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, on 31 March 2012, defeated Russian Tennis star Maria Sharapova to clinch Miami Masters women singles Title. Sharapova, a three-time Grand Slam champion, had been deprived of victory in four Miami Opens finals. She was also the runner-up in 2005, 2006 and 2011. While, Poland’s Radwanska had defeated seventh seeded Marion Bartoli in the semi-finals, Sharapova had beaten Caroline Wozniacki in the semi-finals.



Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic announced retirement from tennis on 15 April 2012 after he suffered a 6-0,6-3 defeat to Ivan Dodig at the Monte Carlo Masters. Ivan’s career high ATP ranking was number 3. He won his first ATP singles title at Lyon in 2001. He entered professional tennis in 1998. He won two ATP titles and was the runner-up at 6 ATP events.

The shooting World Championship of 2018 was 48 awarded to Korean city of Changwon on 17 April 2012. The decision regarding the venue of the championship was made at the General Assembly meeting of International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) in London. The Korean government, as per the reports, has earmarked 30 million dollar to enhance the amenities in the shooting complex and organize the world championship

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with six shotgun ranges, 100 targets each in 10 metres and 50 metres apart from 14 lay-outs in

the 25-metre range. The last World Championship was held in Munich, Germany, in 2010 and the

next championship will be held in Granada, Spain, in 2014.

German luxury car manufacturer Audi on 13 April 2012 signed a 3 year contract with promising young motorsport driver Aditya Patel. Aditya was signed up by Audi for a team called ProHandicap e.V., in the challenging VLN endurance series in Germany. The series will provide Aditya with a much needed international exposure. Aditya Patel began his motorsports career at 14 with the JK Tyre National Racing Championship in 2001. Consistent performance and dedicated support from long term sponsors like JK Tyre, MAS Holdings and Petra Energy saw him rise through the ranks and later into more advanced formats such as the VW Polo R Cup and the VW Scirocco R Cup in Germany, where he international racing platforms.

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso on 25 March 2012, won the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix. The Spaniard defeated Mexican Sergio Perez and British national Lewis Hamilton who came second and third respectively. Alonso, a two-time World Champion had won his first Formula One World Driver’s Championship title at the age of 24 years and 58 days, in year 2005. Alonso was the thirdyoungest driver ever to start a Formula One race when he made his debut in year 2001 with Minardi at the Australian Grand Prix.

finished 5th overall, in 2011. The latest contract with Audi will provide Aditya access to various

China’s Xiao Jia Chen defetaed ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal, in the second round of the Asian Badminton Championship on 20 April 2012. The 40th ranked Chen outplayed the Fifth seeded Nehwal in a closely contested match.

Saina in the first round of the championship had defetaed Kaori Imabeppu of Japan. With regard to Olympic qualification, the significant loss was that of the mixed doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and V Diju. They lost to Korea’s Sa Rang Kim and Hye In Choi. Jwala and Diju are currently ranked No.16 in the world and will have to maintain

or improve their ranking in order to make the cut for the London Games.

Indian ace badminton player and World no five Saina Nehwal retained the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold trophy by securing a 49

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victory over China’s Shixian Wang in a 48-minute summit clash at Basel, Switzerland on 18 March 2012. With the victory at the Swiss Open GP she won her first title of 2012. The world number five Indian defeated third ranking Shixian 21-19 21-16 and thus defended her title. Saina began with a healthy 11-3 lead in the first game. Saina had an early 3-0 lead in the second game forcing Shixian to claw her way back to 11-8 at the break. Saina caught up with Shixian at 13-13 after the breather and then registered four straight points from 15-all to eventually win the game comfortably. Saina had

earlier defeated Japan’s Minatsu Mitani in the semifinals. She had defeated Mitani 21-16 21-18 in 35 minutes to set up a summit clash with Shixian. Saina had reached the quarterfinal of the All England Championship in early March 2012. She has also managed to reach the semifinals at the Malaysia Open and the quarterfinal in the Korea Open in January 2012.

women’s singles quarterfinals of the All England Championship at Birmingham on 9 March 2012. The Fourth seeded Nehwal lost to seventh seeded Li Xuerui of China in a forty-minute match at the National Indoor Arena. Saina on 8 March 2012had defeated French shuttler Hongyan Pi to make it to the quarter finals of the championship. Saina in 2010 had reached the semi finals of All England Championship. In 2010 she had won three Super Series titles -Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong beside the Commonwealth Games gold medal.

India’s ace Badminton player Saina Nehwal suffered a straight-game defeat in the

In Boxing, India’s Vijender Singh on 8 April 2012 qualified for the London Olympics in the 75kilogram category. the semifinals after defeating Chuluntumur Tumurkhuyag of Mongolia in the quarterfinals. Vijender Singh is also the first Indian to win an Olympic and World Championships medal(bronze in both events). Cancan of China 14-8. Sarita, the 2006 world title winner, smashed defending champion Chorieva Mavzu of Tajikistan 26-15. Success of Indian female boxers at Asian women’s boxing championship in the Olympic weight categories has boosted the prospects of the Indian women boxers’ qualification to the London Olympics 2012. Making its presence felt substantially, the Indian team claimed two gold, four silver and two bronze medals at the championship.

Indian women boxers M.C. Mary Kom and Sarita on 25 March 2012, clinched two gold medals in the Asian women’s boxing championship at Mongolian capital Ulaanbator. Mary Kom, the five-time world champion, routed the twotime world title winner and 2010 Asian Games gold medalist Ren

He is the first Indian boxer to qualify for the Olympics for the third time in succession. In the Asian Olympic qualifier at Astana in Kazakhstan, Vijender reached 50

The 18-year-old Shiva Thapa (56kg category) on 11 April 2012

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became the youngest Indian boxer to qualify for the Olympics by beating Japan’s Satoshi Shimizu 31-17 to enter the final of the Asian

qualifiers in Astana, Kazakhstan. India will have an unprecedented seven boxers in the Olympic Games after teen sensations Shiva

Thapa (56kg) and Sumit Sangwan (81kg) booked their London Olympic births by advancing to the finals in the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Geeta Kumari, the woman wrestler, won a gold in 55kg category at the ongoing Asian qualifying tournament in Astana, Kazakhastan. Geeta with this victory also made a history, as she became the first Indian woman wrestler to have ever qualified for the Olympics. Women’s wrestling was first introduced at the Olympics during the 2004 Athens Olympics. The wrestler from Bhiwani in Haryana, overpowered Kyrgyzstan’s Gulina in the first round. Then she went on to defeat Aiym Abdildina of Kazakhstan in the semifinal. In the final, the grappler thrashed her Korean challenger Ji-Eun Um to clinch the gold medal.

Top Indian squash player Saurav Ghosal won a 3-2 victory over Robbie Temple of England at the $120,000 El Gouna International Open in El Gouna, Egypt on 9 April 2012. Ghoshal defeated Robbie8-11, 9-11, 11-9, 117, 11-4 in a match that lasted 85 minutes. Ghosal had earlier lost to Willstrop at the Canary Wharf Classic tournament in March 2012. The left-handed qualifier Englishman, Robbie had made headway in the opening games and sailed through the first two games easily. Ghosal however lifted his game and made a strong comeback in the third and the fourth game. He made an aggressive start to the fifth game and eventually took the final set with great ease.

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Legendary versatile Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee was on 21 March 2012 selected for India’s highest film honour - the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 2012. The Dadasaheb Phalke Award is India‘s highest award in film industry which is given for lifetime achievement in Indian cinema by the Central government. Born in Krishnanagar in West Bengal, 100 Kms from Calcutta, in 1935 completed his graduation and Masters in Bengali literature from the University of Calcutta. Prior to joining films he had worked in All India Radio. Chatterjee who portrayed a versatile range of lead characters in films by Satyajit Ray made his debut in 1959 with Ray’s super-hit movie Apur Sansar. 52

Chatterjee was one of Ray’s favourite, and became the lead actor of most of his’ classics including Sonar Kella, Charulata, and Ghare Baire. Chatterjee’s association with Ray is compared with the chemistry between famous actor-director duos of the

world like Akira KurosowaToshiro Mifune and Marcello Mastroianni-Federico Fellini. Soumitra featured as Feluda/Pradosh Chandra Mitter, the famous private investigator from Calcutta in Ray’s Feluda series of books. He acted in two

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films of this series in the 1970sSonar Kella and Joy Baba Felunath. in Ghare Baire, an adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore’s novel he was cast in a leading role in the character of a radical revolutionary in a love triangle with his friend’s wife. These roles helped to showcase his versatility in playing diverse characters, especially in an urban setting. Padama Bhushan awardee also worked with other internationally acclaimed directors of his time, including Mrinal Sen, Tapan Sinha and Tarun Majumdar in his career spanning over half a century. He is also reputed to have worked with Aparna Sen, Goutam Ghose and Rituparno Ghosh. Some of the other notable movies featuring Chatterjee include Jhinder Bandi, Koni, Kaapurush, Akash Kusum, Aranyer Din Ratri, Joy Baba Felunath, Teen Bhubaner Pare, Ganashatru and Sakah Prashakha. Besides films, Chatterjee was also passionate about stage performance. He both acted and directed plays.

The K K Birla Foundation announced on 22 March 2012 its decision to honour Tamil writer A A Manavalan with the Saraswati Samman 2011 for his book on Ramayana. Retired professor and head of the department of Tamil in Madras University, Manavalan is be bestowed with the 21st Saraswati Samman for his work Irama Kathaiyum

Iramayakalum (Ramakatha and Ramayanas) published in 2005. Special areas of interest of Manavalan who is a scholar in Tamil, English, Hindi and Telugu are translation and comparative literature. He was trained in these areas by professors Henry H.H. Remak and Ulrich Weisston in the University of Indiana in Bloomington, United States. The award-winning book, Irama Kathaiyum Iramayakalum is a comparative study of 48 Ramayanas in the languages of Pali, Sanskrit, Prakrit, Tibetan, Tamil, Old Javenese, Japanese, Telugu, Assamese, Thai and Kashmiri. The Saraswati Samman carries award money of Rs 7.5 lakh, a citation and a plaque.The prestigious award was instituted by the K K Birla Foundation in 1991. The award is conferred upon every year for an outstanding literary work written in any Indian language mentioned in Schedule VIII to the Constitution of India by an Indian citizen and published in the last ten years. The award carries a prize money of Rs 750000, a citation and a plaque. The selection for the Saraswati Samman is made by a high-level Chayan Parishad which is presided over by former Chief Justice of India R.C. Lahoti, includes renowned scholars and writers.

decided to honour Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama with one of the world’s leading religion prizes, Templeton Prize for 2012. The Buddhist leader who lives in exile in India had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for advocating nonviolent liberation for Tibet.

The John Templeton Foundation on 29 March 2012

The Dalai Lama was named the winner of the 2012 Templeton Prize in recognition of his work on science and religion. The Templeton Prize to be presented to him on 14 May 2012 at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London is a $1.7 million award. Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama is the highestprofile winner of the award which was earlier presented to likes of Billy Graham and the late Mother Teresa. The Dalai Lama is founder of the Mind & Life institute for research on science and Buddhism. His talks at Stanford University led to the creation of the Center for Compassion and 53

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Altruism Research and Education, which works to unite scientists and religious scholars.

BSES Yamuna Power limited (BPYL) won the prestigious 54th British International Safety Award. BYPL has been selected for this award given the steps taken by it for the safety of its over 11 lakh consumers and safety and health of its employees. The list of award winners was announced in London in the last week of March 2012. The award will be presented in May 2012. BPYL is the first Indian discom to be selected for this award. BYPL distributes power to an area spread over 200 sq kms with a population density of 5953 per sq km. It’s 11.9lakh customers are spread over 14 districts across Central and East areas of Delhi including Chandni Chowk, Daryaganj, Shankar

Road, Patel Nagar, G T Road,Paharganj, Karkardooma, Krishna Nagar, Mayur Vihar, Yamuna Vihar, Laxmi Nagar, Nand Nagri and Karawal Nagar.

The 2012 Pulitzer Prize was announced on 16 April 2012. The Associated Press won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for documenting the New York Police Department’s spying on Muslims. The Philadelphia Inquirer was on the other hand honoured in the public service category for its examination of violence in the city’s schools. A second Pulitzer for investigative reporting was given to The Seattle Times for a series about accidental methadone overdoses among patients with chronic pain. The New York Times won two Pulitzers, for explanatory and international reporting. The

Huffington Post received its first Pulitzer, in national reporting, for its exploration of the challenges facing American veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., won for local reporting for breaking the Penn State sexual abuse scandal that eventually brought down legendary football coach Joe Paterno. The staff of The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News won the Pulitzer for Breaking news Reporting for its coverage of a deadly tornado. The judges declined to award a prize for editorial writing. The Pulitzer Prize board has failed to select a winner of the award for fiction for the first time in 35 years. The Pulitzers are given out annually by Columbia University on the recommendation of a board of journalists and others. Each award carries a $10,000 prize except for the public service award, which is a gold medal.


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Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) on 29 March 2012 appointed Shyamala Gopinath as the Chairperson of the Advisory Board on Bank, Commercial and Financial Frauds. Gopinath, a former Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor, will hold the position for two years, effective from 26 March 2012. Chairman of the Advisory Board till 31 January 2012. The Board is part of the organisational set-up of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Which is provided the required investigative and secretarial services, along with necessary funds, by the RBI. The Board is instrumental in probe cases of bank, commercial and financial frauds. In particular, they help in tendering advice in cases of any dispute or of differences of opinion while enquiring into the cases of alleged burgling. The frauds covered by CBI investigations include those in borrowal accounts in public sector banks, and financial or commercial frauds in a financial institution or public sector undertaking.

Samajwadi Party MLA from Itwa in Sidhhartnagar district Mata Prasad Pandey was unanimously elected Speaker of the 16th Uttar Pradesh Assembly on 13 April 2012.

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Pandey was elected to serve as Speaker for the second time. He first held the post when Mulayam Singh headed the SP government from 2003 to 2007. Pandey has been elected six times to the Assembly six times. He succeeded BSP’s Sukhdeo Rajbhar, who was the Speaker in the 15th Assembly. On the other hand Umar Ali Khan, son-in-law of the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, filed his papers for the Vidhan Parishad (Legislative Council) elections scheduled to be held on 26 April 2012. He is the eighth SP candidate for the polls for 13 seats. The other SP candidates include Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Revenue Minister Ambika Chaudhary, Rajendra Chaudhary, Madhu Gupta, Ram Sakal Gujar, Naresh Uttam and Vijay Kumar Yadav.

career ambassador. The Senate confirmed ambassadors to 16 countries. The Senate also confirmed ambassadors to Barbados, Cambodia, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Haiti, Kosovo, Latvia, Libya, Malta, Nicaragua, Panama, Togo, Tunisia and Uruguay.

January 2011 following the retirement of Partha S Bhattacharyya. For last two months, Zohra Chatterji, Additional Secretary of coal ministry, was the part-time CMD of CIL.

Public Sector Lender, Union Bank of India, on 1 April 2012 appointed D. Sarkar as its Chairman and Managing Director (CMD). The appointment is in effect from 1 April 2012. Sarkar replaced MV Nair, who was holding the top post of the bank over the past six years six years. Prior to his appointment as the CMD of Union Bank of India, Sarkar was Executive Director of the Kolkata-based Allahabad Bank. He started his career with Bank of Baroda in 1982.

Coal India Limited ( CIL) on 3 April 2012 appointed S Narsing Rao as its full time Chairman and Managing Director.

The US Senate on 30 March 2012 confirmed career diplomat Nancy Powell as ambassador to India. The position had remained vacant for the past year following the resignation Timothy Roemer. Obama’s first ambassador to India, former congressman Timothy Roemer had announced his resignation in April 2011. US president Barack Obama had nominated Powell as his next ambassador to India on 16 December 2011. Powell had previously served as US envoy in Pakistan and Nepal and currently holds the prestigious rank of 56 The appointments committee of the Union Cabinet approved Rao’s appointment for a five-year term. Rao,53, a 1986-batch IAS Officer, is currently serving as the Chairman and Managing Director of Andhra Pradesh Governmentcontrolled Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL). Rao is the first non-CIL nominee to assume the top post of the company since July 1983.Since the retirement of Partha S Bhattacharyya in February 2011 CIL did not have any full time head. NC Jha, took over the additional charge of CMD till

Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga was on 15 April 2012 elected next chairman of the US-India Business Council (USIBC).

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USIBC is a trade association made of 350 top American and Indian companies. Banga succeeded Terry McGraw III, president, chairman, and CEO of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Banga had become the president and CEO of global payments and technology company, Mastercard in July. Banga currently serves on the board of Kraft Foods and is a member of such prestigious groups as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Business Roundtable, and the Foreign Policy Association.

him in the presence of the Full Court and members of the Bar. He will remain a Supreme Court judge for a little over four years. With the appointment of Kalifulla the number of judges has now gone up to 26 against the sanctioned strength of 31.

India in the last week of March 2012 appointed Amarendra Khatua as its special envoy to South Sudan and Sudan to broker peace between the two countries. This was done with the objective of strengthening India’s pursuit of oil and other hydrocarbon resources in Africa. Amarendra Khatua is the MEA additional secretary. He handles the passport division. India and China are competing with each other to tap energy resources in Africa. China sent its own special envoy to protect China’s oil interests in Africa. Justice Kalifulla hails from Tamil Nadu and will be the second judge to represent the Madras High Court in the Supreme Court after Justice P. Sathasivam. Born on 23 July 1951, Justice Kalifulla, who hails from Karaikudi, Sivagangai District in Tamil Nadu, was enrolled as an advocate on 20 August 1975 and

was an active labour law practitioner and also appeared for various public and private sector undertakings, nationalised and scheduled banks. He had joined the judiciary on 2 March 2000 when he was made a permanent judge of the Madras high court. He was later the standing counsel for the Tamil Nadu State Electricity Board. Justice Kalifulla was transferred as Judge of the Jammu & Kashmir High Court in February 2011. He became its acting Chief Justice in April 2011 and regular Chief Justice in September 2011. Justice Kalifulla takes oath as SC judge.

The World Bank on 16 April 2012 appointed Korean-born American health expertJim Yong Kim as its new president. Kim who is president of Dartmouth College, will assume his new post on 1 July 2012. He succeeded Robert Zoellick as the head of World

Jammu & Kashmir High Court Chief Justice F. M. Ibrahim Kalifulla was sworn in as Supreme Court judge on 2 April 2012. Chief Justice S. H. Kapadia administered the oath of office to


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Bank. The decision by the World Bank’s 25-member board was not unanimous. The emerging economies were found to be divided in their choice. On 23 March 2012, President Barack Obama had announced that the United States would nominate Kim as the next president of the World Bank. His training and experience, including directing the World Health Organization’s HIV/Aids department and developing treatments for a form of drug resistant tuberculosis, gave him immediate credentials as a campaigner on behalf of the poor.

Kim, a physician and anthropologist won the job over Nigeria’s widely respected finance minister, Ngozi OkonjoIweala, with the support of Washington’s allies in Western Europe, Japan and Canada, as well as some emerging economies. The US’s grip on the job was thus retained. The selection process however frustrated several developing countries.

The 1977 batch Indian Defence Accounts Service Officer, Priti Mohanty took over as

Controller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA) on 01 April 2012. Prior to her appointment as CGDA, she has held various important assignments in the Defence Accounts Department as well as outside the Department, which includes Principal Integrated Financial Adviser (Army), Controller of Defence Accounts in Pension Office etc. Alumni of National Defence College, Mohanty has a sizable experience in Budgeting, Financial Management and Administrative Vigilance.

Former BCCI president and former Union Minister NKP Salve passed away on 1 April 2012 in New Delhi. Salve was associated with cricket administration for several years. He was the president of the Vidarbha Cricket Association, one of the affiliates of the Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI) in India, from 1967 to 1977. Salve had succeeded Barrister S.K. Wankhede as BCCI president in 1982. NKP Salve had been the president of the BCCI when India won the World Cup in 1983. He is also credited with helping India and Pakistan win rights to hosting the 1987 World Cup. The Challenger Trophy, an annual oneday tournament organised by the BCCI, was named after him. Born in Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh on 18 March 1921, he was a chartered accountant, with an active practice from 1949 to 1982. He was considered an authority on direct taxes. He, however, gave up active practice after joining the central cabinet in 1982.

Marathi poet and Sahitya Akademi awardwinner, Manik Godghate passed away in Pune on 26 March 2012 after battling liver cancer for a year. He was popularly known by his pen name Grace and it was the ambiguity in his poetry that caught the imagination of his readers. Grace was born on 10 May 1937 in Nagpur.

He rose to prominence with his very first book Sandhyakalchya Kavita. It was published by Popular Prakashan in 1967 under


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their project Nave Kavi- Navi Kavita. Nave Kavi- Navi Kavita aimed to encourage new poets. The book had won the state government’s Kavi Keshavsut Award. Grace who served as lecturer in Nagpur remained undeterred by critics who called his work obscure. Churchbell, Chandramadhavi Che Pradesh, and Sanjbhayachya Sajani are some of his famous works. Sandhyakalchya Ka vi t a , Ch a n dr a m a d ha vi ch ya Pradeshat and Sandhyaparvatil Vaishnavi were his three popular books of poetry. He was honoured with the Sahitya Akademi for his prose collection Waryane Halte Raan in February 2012. Olya Veluchi Basri released in January 2012 was his last book that. Grace was honoured with the Sahitya Akademi award for his prose writing ‘Varyane Halate Ran’.

and 1942 for nationalist activities. Post independence was elected thrice as MLA from Bhadrak, twice as an Independent and once as a Jana Congress candidate. Mohapatra was the Minister for Cultural Affairs and Food and Civil Supplies in the SwatantraJana Congress coalition Government headed by RN Singh Deo during 1967-71.

Bhangahada, Gharadiha, Nahonm Tistami Baikunthe, Kalagara Dharagara and Priya O Priyatama. He also wrote the famous flag-song for the State unit of the CPI “Ei lal patakara tale.

One of China’s best-known dissidents and astrophysicist, Fang Lizhi died in exile in the US on 6 April 2012. He had become a force to reckon with prominent during the 1989 pro-democracy movement. He was compelled to spend 13 months hiding out in the US embassy after the tanks moved in to crack down on the student demonstrators on Tiananmen Square on 4 June 1989. He was known as China’s Sakharov, a reference to the famous Soviet physicist and dissident, Andrei Sakharov. Fang went to Beijing University in 1952 to study theoretical physics and nuclear physics. He became an important researcher in laser theory. He rose to political prominence during pro-democracy student demonstrations from 1986 to 1988, when he became China’s most outspoken and eloquent proponent of democratic reform.

Veteran litterateur, freedom fighter and former Minister Nityananda Mohapatra died on 17 April 2012 at the age of 100. Born in July 1912, he was eldest son of celebrated Odia poet Kantakabi Laxmikanta Mohapatra. Nityananda was imprisoned three times by the British between 1930 He rose to literary prominence as editor of Odia magazine Dagara, and as a shortstory writer after Independence. Mohapatra was the recipient of Kendriya Sahitya Academy and Odisha Sahitya Academy awards. His well-known books include

James Murdoch on 3 April 2012 resigned as the Chairman of satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting, BSkyB. Murdoch

was forced to step down given his alleged role in phone hacking at now closed The News of the World newspaper.James Murdoch, the younger son of

Rupert Murdoch, the founder of News Corporation will however continue as a non-executive director, and be succeeded as Chairman by a current director of 59

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the group Nicholas Ferguson. Murdoch’s role in the alleged phone hacking by The News of the World newspaper has been under scrutiny ever since the scandal broke out last year. Murdoch had stepped down as Chairman of News International, on 29 February 2012.

declared an independent state ofAzawad. Amadou Toumani Toure was President of Mali from 2002 to 2012. He had overthrown former president Moussa Traore in a March 1991 military coup. After that he handed power to civilian authorities in June 1992 and entered politics as a civilian in 2002 and won the Presidential election.

The President of Mali, Amadou Toumani Toure resigned on 8 April 2012 following the agreement signed with the mediators. He was in hiding since the Army coup against him in March 2012. The speaker of the Malian parliament Diouncounda Traore will be the interim president.

Loksabha on 14 March 2012, proposed a hike in passenger fares ranging between 2 paise to 30 paise per kilometre. The decision was taken to improve the ailing condition of Indian Railways. Trivedi, a Loksabha MP from Barrackpore in West Bengal, took over as the Union Rail Minister on 13 July 2011. Trivedi was slated to be the Union Rail Minister by his party Trinmool Congress, after Mamta Banarjee quit the job. It is for the first time in the history of independent India that a Railways Minister has been made to resign just after five days of presenting the budget in the parliament.

Union Rail Minister Dinesh Trivedi, tendered his resignation on 18 March 2012 to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Trivadi was instructed to resign by his party Trinmool Congress as the decision of increasing the rail fares did not go well with the party. Trinmool Congress chief, Mamta Banarjee had vociferously demanded the rollback of fare hikes. Trivedi in his rail budget, which he had presented in the

The Union Defence Ministry of India on 5 March 2012 blacklisted six companies — four foreign and two Indian — from

The northern part of Mali was captured by a mix of separatist Tuareg-led rebels and Islamist fighters recently and security of the nation was in danger. That is why a coup was staged against President Toure. The insurgent group is called National Movement for Liberation of Azawad. They have 60

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the defence procurement process for 10 years for alleged involvement in a multi-crore ordinance factory scam. The six blacklisted companies include the Singapore Technologies, Israeli Military Industry, Germany’s Rheinmetall Air Defence, Corporation Defence of Russia, Delhi-based TS Kisan and Co Pvt Ltd and RK Machine Tools of Ludhiana. The companies were blacklisted following action against former Director General of Ordnance Factories (DGOF) Sudipta Ghosh who was chargesheeted by CBI for his alleged role in defence scams.

Pakistani scientist Mohammed Khalil Chishty was released on bail from Ajmer jail on 11 April 2012. Chishty, 80, was lodged in the Ajmer jail in a two decade old murder case. The Supreme Court bench of justices P Sathasivam and

J Chelameswar took into account the ailing condition of scientist and the prolonged period of time that he has been in India, while granting him the bail. Chishty was asked by the court to furnish a personal bond of 1 lakh rupees and two securities of 50000 rupees each in a fast track court. Chishty, a virologist by profession, had come to visit his sick mother in Ajmer in 1992 when he got entangled in a dispute. One of his neighbours was shot dead while his nephew got injured in the violent brawl. Release of Pakistani scientist Chishty from Ajmer jail,

has also given a fresh lease of hope to the release of Sarabjeet Singh, an Indian citizen lodged in Pakistani jail for past 22 years. The Indian government has made considerable efforts to persuade Pakistani establishment to release Sarabjeet from the prison, to avail no success. Sarabjeet, who is imprisoned in the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore, was awarded with capital punishment by the AntiTerrorist Court in 1991 for his alleged involvement in 1990 serial bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan that killed 14 people. Though his hanging has been postponed for several times, the Pakistani establishment has shown gross reluctance in granting Srabjeet the clemency.

Chandigarh girl Vanya Mishra crowned as the Pantaloons Femina Miss India World 2012 in the grand finale of the 49th edition of the beauty pageant on 30 March 2012 in Mumbai. The Miss India Earth title went to 24-year-old Prachi Mishra of Pune won the Miss India Earth title while Chennai girl Rochelle Maria Rao was crowned as the Miss India International. The 2012 winners

selected among 20 finalists were crowned by last year’s winners Kanistha Dhankhar, Hasleen Kaur and Ankita Shorey. 19-year-old Vanya will represent India at the Miss World 2012 Pageant. Prachi and Rochelle is to represent the country at Miss Earth 2012 Pageant and Miss International 2012 Pageant, respectively. Femina will not send the beauties to the Miss Universe pageant as it had decided in 2010 to abstain from the event.


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Ministry of Corporate Affairs in March 2012 set up a committee under the leadership of Adi Godrej, chairman Godrej Group to bring out a formal policy document that will initiate enlisting of diverse elements of corporate governance under a single national corporate governance policy. The committee that comprised members from industry chambers and corporate houses is to submit its report in six. The first meeting of the committee is scheduled to be held on 5 April 2012. The members of the committee include Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, CMD of Biocon Ltd; former ONGC chairman RS Sharma; former ICAI chairman G Ramaswamy; CMD L&T Finance Holdings YM Deosthalee; S Balasubramanian, ex-chairman company law board; former SAIL chairman SK Roongta; Zia Mody of AZB and partners, and representatives from the institute of company secretaries and cost and works accountants. The committee’s report is to synthesise the disparate elements in diverse guidelines and draw on innovative best international practices and practices of specific companies. Also, the committee is entrusted with the responsibility to anticipate emerging demands 62 on corporate governance in enterprises of various classes and scales of operations.


The finance ministry concerned over the steep rise in bad loans, set up a committee to suggest sector-specific mechanisms to address rising issue. The ministry decided to set up the committee after rating agency Moody’s downgraded the Union Bank of India one notch on 19 March 2012 due to its high level of troubled assets and low provisions for coverage. Moody’s had earlier downgraded country’s largest lender SBI. The committee will have representation from the finance ministry, the Reserve Bank of India and some banks. The government stated that containing bad assets will be an important parameter while evaluating the performance of the top brass in state-run banks. Finance Minister in Budget 2012-13 allowed $1billion external commercial borrowing (ECB) for the airline industry for one year, and allowed foreign debt to part-finance rupee debt taken by power companies and also for affordable housing. Rise in bad loans affected farm sector lending as well. In November 2010, the share of farm loans was 13.10%, and dropped to 11.18% in November 2011.

The two-member Adarsh Judicial Commission set up by the Maharashtra Government to probe into the scam-tainted Adarsh Housing Society submitted its interim report to the state Government on 13 April 2012. The commission was formed under N N Kumbahar. The interim report included the commission’s findings on two issues — ownership of the land in south Mumbai where the 31storey Adarsh building stands and whether the land was reserved for Kargil war widows and their relatives. The Maharashtra Government had earlier in April filed an application before the judicial panel seeking an interim report on two of the 13 issues being looked into by it. The commission accepting the application directed all the parties — the State Government, the Ministry of Defence and Adarsh Society to argue on the two issues from 1 March 2012. The interim report was formed and submitted to the government after hearing out all the parties involved in the case. The commission was set up by the Government in January 2011 after the scam surfaced. While the panel was to complete its probe within three months, was extended from time to time. The panel has now been asked to

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submit its report by May 2012. The terms and conditions under which the commission was set up authorises the Government to seek an interim report on its findings.

Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on 1 April 2012 won a parliamentary seat in a historic by-election. It set the stage for her to take public office for the first time. Her party National League for Democracy (NLD) won 43 seats. It will be the main opposition force in a national parliament where the political party backed by the military has the majority. Suu Kyi will attend the new session of the lower house on 23 April 2012. She was released in late 2010 after she had been detained under house arrest by the military. She had won the Nobel peace prize in 1991. mobile launcher at the Wheeler Island off the Orissa coast in the bay of Bengal.The missile reached an altitude of 600 km and attained velocity of 7000m/second. With the successful launch of Agni-V, India has entered into an elite group of nations (USA, Russia, China, UK and France) which has such technology. India now has acquired the capability to hit Scientists began to work on the project of Agni-V three years ago. This was the first testing of the missile.

Agni-V has multiple independently targeted re-entry (MIRV) capability. Its range is over 5000 Kms. A missile which has a range of 5500 Kms is termed as ICBM. M I R V enables a missile to hit several targets in an area.

The Indian Navy on 4 April 2 0 1 2 inducted a Russian-origin nuclear submarine, INS Chakra, into its flotilla. The nuclear submarine has placed India into the elite group of nations which operate nuclear vessel. The Akula-II class submarine K-152 Nerpa, renamed INS Chakra-II, is on a 10-year lease from Russia at a cost of nearly 1 billion dollar. Defence minister AK 63

India on 19 April 2012 successfully test-fired its maiden nuclear-tipped inter-continental ballistic missile ( ICBM) Agni-V. The missile successfully struck its target ranging more than 5000 kms away from its launching point. It was test-fired from a

targets in China, including Beijing, Eastern Europe, east Africa and the Australian coast. Indigenously built Agni-V is 17.5m tall, solidfuelled, surface to surface, threestage missile with a launch weight of 50 tons, which includes a 1.5 tonne warhead. The DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation)

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Antony formally inducted the 8000-ton vessel as India is looking forward to strengthen its position in the Indian Ocean region. Apart from India the other nations which possess the capability to operate nuclear vessel includes US, Russia, France, the UK and China. The induction of INS Chakra in the Indian Navy is strategically very important given the fact that China over the last few years has been aggressively indulged in taking the Indian Ocean Region within its clout. Besides, its growing belligerence in the entire Asia-Pacific region has also been a reason of grave concern for Indian security establishment. The INS Chakra will offer India a defining strategic edge over its conventional rivals China and Pakistan.

BrahMos, the supersonic cruise missile, was successfully test-fired on 28 March 2012 by

BrahMos Aerospace, from the Interim Test Range, Chandipur from Balesore district of Odisha.BrahMos, which has a target range of 290-km, is the surface-to-surface cruise missile. It is capable of carrying a conventional warhead of 200 to 300 kg. The important advantage of new version of the cruise missile is that it can hit the target vertically and at high speed. The competing versions in the global arena fly and hit the target almost at horizontal levels and lower speeds. The BrahMos, supersonic cruise missile attained 2.8 Mach speed and a full range of 290 km. The Indian Army has already inducted the missile in a couple of its regiments. BrahMos, a supersonic cruise missile, has been developed by BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited, a joint venture between Republic of India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russian Federation’s

NPO Mashinostroeyenia. It is the world’s fastest cruise missile in operation. It can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land. The name BrahMos is the blend of the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.

Infosys co-founder Narain Murthy got his name figured in the list of 12 greatest entrepreneurs of our time. The list published by the magazine on 28 March 2012 was prepared considering the economic and social impact and world changing vision of entrepreneures. Other famous personalities who got their name included in the list are Steve Jobs of Apple, who also topped the list. Microsoft’s Bill Gates was second on the list followed by Fred Smith of FedEx. The list comprised of ten entrepreneurs from America, one from India and one from Bangladesh. The Fortune places the 12 individuals in the following order: 1. Steve Jobs of Apple, 2. Bill Gates of Microsoft, 3. Fred Smith of FedEx, 4. Jeff Bezos of Amazon, 5. Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, 6. Howard Starbucks, Schultz of of

7. Mark Zuckerberg Facebook, 64

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8. John Mackey of Whole Foods, 9. Herb Kelleher of SouthWest Airlines, 10. Narayana Murthy of Infosys, 11. Sam Walton of Wal-mart Stores, 12. Muhammad Yunus Grameen Bank. of

A 2200-year-old TamilBrahmi inscription belonging to the second century BC, was discovered at Samanamalai in Madurai district. The inscription is associated with Jainism as it was found at Samanamalai (“Jaina Hill”), 15 km from Madurai . The inscription was discovered by V. Vedachalam, former Senior Epigraphist, Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department, and V. Muthukumar, research scholar from Tamil University, Thanjavur. The script has a total of 13 letters. The scholars of Tamil-Brahmi script, termed the discovery of genuine importance as it will help them to unravel the hidden truths related to Jain monks.

President R. Venkataraman at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. The release of the stamp marked the end of year-long centenary celebrations organised from December 2010 onward to celebrate the life of India’s eighth President, R. Venkataraman. R. Venkataraman had played a significant role in the industrialisation of Tamil Nadu. An outstanding administrator, he was also known as the father of industrialisation. The former President had the unique distinction of having worked with four Prime Ministers namely- V. P Singh, Chandrashekhar, P. V Narasimha Rao and Rajiv Gandhi. He was known to have had excellent partnership and working relation with all the Prime Ministers and always remained true to the Constitution. Elevated from vice presidency, Venkataraman succeeded Zail Singh and as India’s eighth President held office from 25 July 1987 to 25 July 1992.

The Defence Ministry in its meeting on 17 April 2012, decided to set up three new committees to accelerate procurements and border infrastructure projects. The meeting was chaired by Defence Minister A K Antony and attended by senior Army officers. An empowered committee was set up

President Pratibha Patil on 18 April 2012 released a commemorative postage stamp to mark the birth centenary of

under the defence secretary to expedite infrastructure development in the Northern region that has borders with both China and Pakistan. A new committee was also set up to decide on whether the Army will get combat aviation assets, a sore point with the Air Force that has insisted that all aerial assets should be under its command. The Ministry decided to send a request to the Finance Ministry on recruitment for the Military Engineering Service and also to create eight additional porter companies, to transport material through difficult terrain. The third committee, under the Vice Chief of Army Staff was set up to look into purchase of equipment for the Special Forces, which use MP-5 sub-machine guns, AK-47 and Israeli assault rifles that have not been modernised. This panel is to work on the lines of the one created to deal with purchases for troops posted in Siachen area. The ministry also decided to ask the Planning Commission to sanction 14 new strategic railway lines including a line each to Ladakh and the Tawang plateau in order to bolster defence along the SinoIndian border. A new proposal was prepared during the meeting to expand the Military Engineering Services (MES) to cope with the increased construction activity planned along the borders. The ministry gave the Army the go-ahead to raise eight new porter companies 65

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to facilitate construction and resupply activity.

Pottery and iron age megaliths dated to the preMegalithic/Iron Age period in T.N. — 1,800 BC-1,500 BC found at Mandapam village, near Aarpakkam intersection, about 14 km from Kancheepuram in April 2012. The importance of the vast urn-burial site is that it belongs to a period earlier than the Megalithic Age or Iron Age in Tamil Nadu. The site has been ravaged by quarrying for bluemetal. Villager P. Mani, who discovered the site, reported it to V. Arasu, Head of the Department of Tamil, University of Madras, and S. Elango, lecturer in Tamil, Madras University. The flat/ conical bottomed urns were buried only one or two feet below the soil surface. While some had ritual pottery and terracotta plates inside, others were empty. There were disintegrated human bones in several urns. Also, there were no cairn circles on the surface of the graves to mark them. There were no graffiti marks on the urns either. It was discovered that the cairn circles or the big stones, i.e., liths, were placed in a circle on the surface of the soil and urns were kept below them. The urns were found to have been kept inside cists, which are compartments 66

made of granite slabs. Since big stones/liths mark the urn burials below, they are called Megalithic Age burials. The Iron Age and the Megalithic Age are contemporaneous in south India. Archaeologists believed the Iron Age in south India extended from 1000 BCE to 300 BCE.

The leaders of the 22 Arab league states attended the summit. The Baghdad summit discussed the uprising in Syria and the Iraqi debts to its neighbours. The previous Arab league summit was held in Sirte. Syria didn’t participate in the Summit. It was suspended in the midst of the uprising against the Assad regime.

The Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh visited South Korea on 25 March 2012. During his visit, India and South Korea decided that the seventh meeting of the Joint Commission will be held in New Delhi in 2012. Moreover, India and South Korea also agreed to set a new bilateral trade target of 40 billion US dollars by 2015. Besides, it was decided that both countries will explore constructive and forward looking ways to facilitate greater access to each other ’s products and services. Prior to this visit, Indian president Pratibha Patil had visited South Korea in July 2011.

Fourth BRICS summit was held in New Delhi. The Fourth BRICS Summit was held in New Delhi on 29 March 2012. The theme of the Summit was BRICS Partnership for Global Stability, Security and Prosperity. At the Summit, the Leaders of the BRICS countries discussed political, economic and social issues of mutual and international interest. The Summit took forward the continuing efforts towards strengthening cooperation, consultation and coordination among the BRICS countries for the benefit of their peoples and of the international community.

Three-day summit was held in Baghdad from 27 March 2012 to 29 March 2012. The Arab league summit was held in Baghdad from 27 March 2012 to 29 March 2012. The three-day summit was hosted by Iraq for the first time since 1990 when its late dictator Saddam Hussein’s forces invaded Kuwait.

Second Nuclear Security Summit was held in Seoul on 2627 March 2012. The second nuclear security summit was held in Seoul, capital of South Korea on26-27 March 2012. 53 heads of state and government, as well as representatives of the United

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Nations (UN), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), European Union (EU) and INTERPOL, attended the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit. Compared to the 2010 Washington Summit, there were seven new

participants: Azerbaijan, Denmark, Gabon, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania and INTERPOL. The EU was represented by both the President of the European Council and the President of the European

Commission, making the number of participating leaders 58 in total. The first Nuclear Security Summit was held in Washington in April 2010. It was initiated by US President Barack Obama.


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he BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) idea was first conceived in 2001 by Goldman Sachs as part of an economic modeling exercise to forecast global economic trends over the next half century; the acronym BRIC was first used in 2001 by Goldman Sachs in their Global Economics Paper No. 66, “The World Needs Better Economic BRICs”. BRIC Foreign Ministers at their meeting in New York on 21st September 2010 agreed that South Africa may be invited to join BRIC. Accordingly, China, as the host of 3rd BRICS Summit, invited South African President to attend the Summit in Sanya on 14 April 2011 with the

concurrence of other BRIC Leaders. The BRICS countries originally Brazil, Russia, India, and China, and now South Africa - have turned out to be a source of global economic development and essential to future generations. The center of global economic activity is shifting from industrialized nations in the west to emerging economies in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. South Africa joined BRIC at the end of 2010. And Indonesia should be included in BRICS to represent the large developing countries that are increasingly central to global production and consumption. BRICS is used in economics to refer to the combination of

Brazil, Russia, India, and China & South Africa which make up over 48% of the world’s population. These nations are going to play a major role in the future of global economy. In 2000, the four countries in BRIC (along with Indonesia), contributed just 18 percent of global GDP, while industrialized nations contributed about 65 percent. By 2010, BRIC countries provided more than a quarter of the world’s GDP, at 27 percent. The rich countries’ share had shrunk to 56 percent. Between 2000 and 2010, BRIC’s GDP grew by an incredible 92.7 percent, compared to a global GDP growth of just 32 percent, with industrialized economies having 68

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a very modest 15.5 percent. The rising importance of BRICS economies can be seen in the growth of imports. Their import and service demands, at over $2 trillion, accounts for 13.5 percent of global imports, up from just 6 percent 10 years ago. This represents a 277 percent growth in imports. Global growth of imports during the same period was just 92 percent, while imports in industrialized economies grew only 72.3 percent. BRICS countries have also diversified their source of imports and are trading more with other large emerging economies and developing countries. They play an important role in the global economy, and their role in the future of global economics seems more evident. In the area of new businesses, the market capitalization of BRIC companies grew from $1.2 trillion to $6.4 trillion between 2000 and 2010, a massive 641 percent increase. Their companies now account for over 18 percent of global market capitalization, up from a very modest 3.8 percent in 2000. If this trend continues, by 2025, BRICS companies will account for more than half of global market capitalization. Demographic shifts are taking place and BRICS states, especially India and China, will have much of the world’s youth, a driving force behind growth of consumer spending and innovation. Their large domestic markets will create economies of

scale that make BRICS’ geographies central to global production and demand. And they will emerge as centers of innovation and new product development. India-China ties have undergone a significant change in the last two decades: They are broader and with more substance. A key element of that is the economy. China has gone from insignificant player to India’s largest trade partner with, $62 billion of goods traded in 2010. Indian manufacturing and IT companies are making serious moves in China, and demonstrating their ability in high-tech engineering, software development, banking and foreign exchange trading. BRICS countries will need to work together closely to evolve strategies for the future. This could include cooperation in a wide variety of issues like energy, food security, access to natural resources, climate change, global governance, and international trade policies. What is essential to maintaining this wide-ranging cooperation is for BRIC countries to have a stake in each other ’s economy. And increasing trade and business relations among them is a major part of that. The Fourth BRICS summit was held in New Delhi on 29 March 2012. The theme of the summit was BRICS partnership for Global Stability, Security and Prosperity. The summit was participated by India, Brazil,

Russia, China and South Africa. At the end of the summit, Delhi Declaration was issued. Development banks of BRICS signed two agreements- i) Master agreement on extending credit facility in local currency. ii) BRICS Multilateral letter of credit confirmation facility agreement. The five participating banks are Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social- BNDES, Brazil; State Corporation Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs-Vnesheconombank of Russia; Export-Import bank of India; China Development Bank Corporation, and Development Bank of Southern Africa. These two agreements are expected to enhance cooperation among the BRICS development banks and to significantly promote intra-BRICS trade. Highlights of Delhi Declaration v BRICS nations agreed on the reform of IMF and world bank. v Brazil, India, China and South Africa congratulated the Russian Federation on its accession to the WTO. v BRICS nation said they were committed to playing their part in the global fight against climate change and will contribute to the global effort in dealing with climate change issues. In the New Delhi summit, leaders of the BRICS group [Thursday, 29 March 2012] pressed Western powers to cede 69

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more voting rights at the IMF this year and flayed the rich world’s reflationary monetary policies for putting global economic stability in jeopardy. Promised changes to voting rights at the IMF have yet to be ratified by the United States, adding to frustration over reform of the G7 and the U.N. Security Council, where India and Brazil have been angling for years for permanent seats. The BRICS leaders also accused rich countries of destabilizing the world economy five years into the global financial crisis by creating excessive global liquidity. It also recognised the right of Iran to pursue peaceful nuclear energy. They said that the crises over Iran’s nuclear programme should be resolved diplomatically and should not be allowed to escalate. China hopes the summit will continue to display the BRICS spirit of unity and win-win partnership, continue to enhance coordination and cooperation on global economy, finance, development and other major issues of common interest, push forward practical cooperation in various fields, send a joint message of confidence for world economic stability and recovery, provide impetus for improved global economic governance and make a contribution to common development in the whole world. We also hope the summit will help strengthen institutional building of BRICS cooperation, map out plans for the future, and lay a solid foundation for the long-term growth of BRICS cooperation. Currently, a large number of

emerging markets and developing countries have achieved rapid economic growth and become an important force in promoting world peace and common development. Firmly committing to the path of peaceful development, cooperative development and harmonious development, these countries form an important part of common development of the world, which is conducive to a more balanced world economy, more reasonable international relations, more effective global governance and more durable world peace. Since the outbreak of the international financial crisis in 2008, these countries have spearheaded the global recovery through their own development. The steady increase of their representation and the greater say they acquired in global economic governance have moved the international order in the direction of greater fairness and rationality. What has happened testifies once again that without the rise of emerging markets and developing countries, there will be no universal prosperity in the world; and that without the stability of these countries, there will be no world peace and stability. The development of these countries has a constructive impact on the international landscape. The international community should look at these countries from a long-term and strategic perspective and actively support their development. BRICS countries are the defender and

promoter of the interests of developing countries. In their cooperation, BRICS countries have committed to promoting South-South cooperation and North-South dialogue, endeavoured to implement the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, worked for early realisation of the goals set out in the mandate for the Doha development round negotiations, strived to secure a greater say for developing countries in global economic governance and fought all forms of protectionism. Cooperation among BRICS countries is made necessary by the ongoing economic globalisation and democratisation in international relations. It is consistent with the trend of the times characterised by peace, development and cooperation, and fully conducive to building a harmonious world of durable peace and common prosperity. As for BRICS practical cooperation in the near future, China wants to see efforts made in the following two areas: First, building a solid foundation. We should beef up the existing cooperation programmes in the spirit of practicality and efficiency and build a number of flagship projects. Second, being innovative. We should properly explore new areas of cooperation in light of the needs of economic and social development in BRICS countries, tap the cooperation potential and inject new vitality into the mechanism of BRICS cooperation. 70

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(AGNI-V missile, with a range of 5,000 km (3,100 miles), successfully lifts off from Wheeler ’s Island of India’s east coast in Odisha.) However, China’s strategic experts and the official media are trying to provoke western countries saying the Agni-V missile has a longer range than India would admit, and it can hit cities in Europe. In comments that are obviously authorized by the defence ministry, Chinese experts said the Indian missile actually has a range of 8,000 kilometers and not the shorter range of 5,000 kms, as claimed by India. There are signs China will try to pressure the US and Russia

not to sell missile guidance systems to India. “The missile brings the whole of Asia, 70 per cent of Europe and other regions under its strike range and puts India among a select band of countries in the world to possess the technology of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” the official Xinhua news agency said in a dispatch published in dozens of Chinese newspapers. Another paper, the Global Times, even carried a map showing Moscow, Tehran and Jakarta among cities coming within the range of Indian missiles. An expert at the PLA Academy of Military Sciences said the Agni-V actually has the potential to reach targets 8,000 kilometers away, according to the Communist Party-controlled 71

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Global Times. It quoted the researcher, Du Wenlong, saying the Indian government had deliberately downplayed the missile’s capability in order to avoid causing concern to other countries. “According to China’s standard, an ICBM should have a range of at least 8,000 kilometers. The Agni-V’s range could be further enhanced to become an ICBM,” the paper quoted another expert, Zhang Zhaozhong, a professor with the People’s Liberation Army National Defence University, as saying. As for Agni V, let’s begin with the range, its most celebrated aspect: all of China, most of Europe. That the range of Agni V was said to be 5,000 km, just 500 km short of the conventional minimum range for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), was a deliberate strategic restraint imposed by the Manmohan Singh government. It is among the many aspects of UPA government’s strategy that is defining India’s military projection, or the lack of it. Continuing over-dependence on military imports, lack of major efforts to leapfrog technologies, over-zealous celebrations over achievements like Agni V and failure to achieve fresh goals in military research are defining India’s military ideology that is woefully inadequate given the challenges. But yes, the intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM), is a game changer

in many ways. It is the most modern variation of the Agni family, providing a quicker response under India’s no-firststrike policy, in case an adversary was to launch a nuclear attack. Agni V is a three-stage missile, each stage powered by solid propellants and with a canister-launch system, capabilities that make it a more agile system. It can be launched quicker than older missiles. It definitely is a very valuable landbased second-strike capability, a crucial component of the triad (on ground, air and sea) of nuclear capability towards which India is making definite strides. The DRDO would carry out two more tests in about a year-and-half before the production of the missile would commence. It will then be handed over to the Strategic Command. DRDO would now be working on equipping Agni V with multiple independent re-entry vehicles (MIRVs), which would allow launching several warheads on different targets from a single missile. MIRV would further firm up India’s second-strike capability with a limited number of missiles. The euphoria over the success of Agni V, when put to a realistic assessment, shows a desperate effort to cover up for the bigger failures of India’s indigenous military research, and its political inability to workout a definite roadmap for its peaceful rise next to China, in the post-Cold

War era, where strategic focus has shifted to Asia with foreign powers from the US to UK manoeuvring in the nearby waters. As a scientific achievement, the missile technology developed isn’t any breakthrough on the global stage, given the fact that China, US and many European powers have much more advanced, longerrange and more sophisticated missiles in their armoury. While it is developing an anti-ballistic missile shield, India has failed to really address the immediate threat of a missile strike from Pakistan, or by rogue elements, where the response time would be just a few minutes. India’s military research has failed to come up with unique solutions. In conventional military spend, India would never be able to match up to China and other global powers. While US spent 45.7% of the global military expenditure last year, China was second at 5.5%. India is way below at just 2.3%. China is galloping ahead, and is estimated to overtake the US by 2035. A military strategy, to protect its autonomy and economic growth, cannot be mere development of longer-range missiles or other conventional weapons. It has to be unconventional technological leap, of achieving capabilities within the limited resources available. That would call for determined efforts to bring in domestic industries and 72

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revamping of military research. That means a really radical change. This would require a firm political leadership, something the UPA government has failed to exhibit so far. Agni V isn’t fiery enough for India. Let’s look at some of interesting questions that arose after the recent test of the Agni-V missile. The first is whether it is really an inter-continental ballistic missile being undersold as an intermediate range ballistic missile out of reasons of political correctness. Well, other than for the purposes of international arms control negotiations, what fourletter acronym we use to refer to a missile is irrelevant. For example, an artillery shell fired across the 14.3 km-wide Straits of Gibraltar is, factually, an intercontinental ballistic missile. The classification of missiles with ranges less than 5500 km as ‘intermediate range’ is a relic of Cold War era arms control negotiations and an outcome of the strategic geography of that era. So while pedants, lawyers and negotiators can agonise over whether Agni-V is an ICBM or an IRBM, what is important from the perspective of our national security is its range and its payload capacity. Officially, Agni-V has a range of 5000kms and can carry 1000kg of multiple warheads. In contrast

to the usual cynical ‘they are inflating their claims’ comment, some foreign commentators have alleged that India is underdeclaring the actual range. Chinese experts have claimed that the actual range is 8000kms, thereby allowing Europe to be targeted. Could there be something in these claims? Now, anyone who’s tinkered around with automobile engines or overclocked their computers knows that there is often more juice to be squeezed from the machines because the engineers who design them are a conservative lot. Many foreign media reports connected India’s test with North Korea’s and suggested an Asian arms build-up. Meanwhile, a few Indian commentators attributed it to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s foreign policy. Both are wrong, because they ignore the fact that Agni-V is part of a missile development programme that was started in the early 1980s and has been consistently pursued by all governments since then. The broad timing of the test is more related to the development cycle than to contemporary events — the exact timing might well be influenced by factors ranging from the diplomatic calendar to the direction of the wind. Relating it to Pyongyang’s latest shenanigans or China’s recent assertiveness would be impute a causation where none exists. Unlike mothers facing

unexpected dinner guests, DRDO can’t cook up a new missile just like that.It is fashionable to argue that India’s fractious democratic system does not allow it to pursue long term inter-generational projects. This is only partly true. India’s nuclear strategy contradicts this argument — the minimum credible deterrent has been pursued for at least the last three decades. Will Agni-V change the balance of power in the broader Asian region? Not quite. For that India will need to regain the economic growth trajectory that it fell out of over the last decade. What remains to be seen is whether the security the missile provides will make us even more complacent about implementing the second-generation reforms necessary to accumulate power. This is also why Moscow, Beijing and Tokyo react differently to missile tests in North Korea. The first two countries don’t want any trouble just because the Japanese and Americans are afraid of the North Koreans. However, Pyongyang is very unlikely to fire a missile at China or Russia. In other words, the intentions and interests of superpowers are more important in strategic planning than their capabilities. What are the intentions of Russia’s friend India, which has increased the striking range of its nuclear arms delivery vehicles? Russian President Medvedev shakes hands with China’s President Hu Jintao 73

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during their meeting at the BRICS summit in New Delhi. ReutersThe most obvious answer is that this is bad news primarily for China, which is, by the way, Russia’s friend, too. Indeed, there’s no reason for India to aim its nuclear weapons against Africa or the United States, all the more so since Agni can’t reach U.S. shores anyway. However, all of China’s territory is now within reach. For several years now, various political forces in India have been saying officially (and especially in private) that Indians aren’t dumb enough to turn their country into a missile base against China just because, for example, the US wants it to be this way. Both major Indian parties agree on that. Pakistan, whose government is either unwilling or unable to control the jihadist groups residing on its territory, remains India’s primary threat. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is not the only concern here. The philosophy underlying the establishment of Pakistan as a Muslim alternative to Hindu India is another major consideration. It’s not clear what this nation will become without this idea, and whether Pakistan will remain a nation without it. This is not all there is to it. Jihadism is not only about Pakistan. Let’s not forget that in addition to nuclear tests in 1998, India stepped up its political involvement in the Middle East and became very close with Israel. Today, with the Gulf monarchies

successfully promoting the jihad philosophy across all Arab nations, such as Tunisia, Egypt and Libya to name a few, it has become clear that India’s policy was quite reasonable and the expansion of its missile range won’t hurt either. Next comes Iran. The Indian opposition strongly criticises its current government for its incoherent policy towards Iran. However, the real threat to India doesn’t come from Iran. Hypothetically, if the US or the Gulf monarchies manage to sow the seeds of chaos in Iran as well, then, in the worst case scenario, extremist regimes will spring up from neighbouring Pakistan westward all the way to the shores of the Atlantic. This is something that China would like to avoid as well because it has more shared strategic interests with India than with its old friend Pakistan.It is assumed that India’s failed war against China in 1962 and the loss of an uninhabited glacier in the Himalayas are a major problem that makes these two key international partners of Russia bitter enemies. If this were the case, then the launch of the Agni would spell real drama for Russian foreign policy. Let’s keep in mind that Russia is India’s key partner in the area of armaments. This month Russia supplied to India the nuclear submarine Nerpa aka Chakra on a long-term lease. By

late 2012, India will at long last receive the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov aka Vikramaditya. There’s a whole list of armaments that Russia is either selling to India or designing together with India. If Beijing viewed India similar to the way Japan looks upon North Korea… And if India saw China – which, by the way, became Delhi’s first trading partner – as a source of permanent threat… Things are different in reality, though. The foreign ministers of Russia, India and China (RIC) met this month. As it turns out, the original triangle of this group exists as a separate entity despite its expansion to include Brazil and South Africa (BRICS). And the three have more and more reasons for private meetings. Among other things, an important topic for discussion is coordinating efforts in Afghanistan once the US and NATO forces withdraw. The problem is that the spread of jihad policies in Afghanistan represents a direct threat to northwestern China. As a result, Beijing and Delhi now have more reasons for rapprochement and Moscow has long been a willing intermediary. As for nuclear arsenals and their delivery vehicles, even with an enhanced strike range, they do not interfere with such efforts. On the contrary, they are a source of calm for the partners in their complicated relations with each other. 74

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v The Supreme Court of India on 2 March 2012 appointed its former judge, Justice H S Bedi as the chairman of the monitoring authority. v Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry launched a web portal for implementation of the National Scheme of Incentive to Girls for Secondary Education (NSIGSE) in New Delhi. Web portal was developed by the Canara Bank to implement the scheme. v India recorded a net increase of 23.34 sq. km of mangrove cover between 2009 and 2011, thanks to efforts of one of the most industrialised states, Gujarat, in planting and regenerating the ecosystem rich in biodiversity. v The Centre is planning to launch a special scheme for delivery of healthcare services in 100 out of 264 focus districts across the country where the health indicators are very low, by

integrating allopathic and other Indian systems of medicine soon. v The World Health Organisation (WHO) has removed India from the list of polio-endemic countries, suggesting that the wild polio virus had been totally eliminated from the environment. v In a major administrative move, the Planning Commission has cleared the transfer of the Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana (PMAGY) to the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. v The fourth phase of an “Intensive Tiger Monitoring Programme” envisaged by the Tiger Task Force of the Union Government has begun at the Kalakkad - Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) in Tirunelveli (Tamil Nadu).

v The fertile and chronically flood-lacerated swathe of the Mithilanchal belt in north Bihar witnessed a watershed moment in its urban ecosystem when Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar inaugurated the ‘Kosi Maha Sethu’ — a rail-cum-road bridge — in Supaul district. v India will be one of the youngest nations by 2020 and this changing demographic condition, while providing great opportunities, could pose some challenges too, the Economic Survey 2011-12 has said. v Union cabinet of India on 9 February 2012 approved the National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP2012) to facilitate access to central government owned shareable data and information. v Rajasthan will soon accord the bio-diversity rich Jawai Bandh forests in Pali district the status of a conservation reserve.


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : v The Indian Black Eagle was spotted in the Aravali Biodiversity Park after a gap of 90 years. The bird was last seen in 1920-21 by Basin Edwardes. v Former Supreme Court judge Justice D. M. Dharmadhikari, who headed a four-member committee on integration of thousands of employees after the merger of two State-owned carriers — Air India and Indian Airlines —submitted his report to the Civil Aviation Minister, Ajit Singh. v The government of India approved setting up of a national centre for cold chain development and allocated a one-time grant of 25 crore rupees for its corpus fund. v The Union government decided to operationalise the ambitious National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) from 1 March 2012. v The Union government unveiled a comprehensive policy on narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, as announced by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee during the budget presentation last year. v As the 2015 deadline of meeting the Millennium Development Goals nears, the South Asian Association for Regional Conference (SAARC) nations got together to give a final push for creating sanitation facilities for the 700 million plus uncovered people of the region. v The Supreme Court expressed concern over the creation of Koya Commandos by the Chhattisgarh government and giving them arms to deal with Maoists . v The Director General of International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Robert S. Zeigler has said that the institute was discussing with the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) the possibility of developing an India specific programme of molecular genetic and breeding for rice. v The Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has set up three teams to examine 40 flying schools across the country from April 18. v As per the latest Sample Registration System (SRS) bulletinreleased by the Registrar General of India (RGI), it is noted that Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) has dropped further by 3 points from 50 to 47 infants deaths per 1000 live births during 2010. v The Union Government of India gave the approval for setting up a National Council for Senior Citizens. It will be headed by the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment. v After failing to effect a hike in rail fares as a measure to generate internal resources, Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi proposed an independent body to take decisions on rail fares without being influenced by political exigencies. v The government has decided to issue biometric PAN cards to taxpayers across the country to weed out the problem of duplicate and fake ones. v The Union Home Ministry is studying the Shunglu Committee report on alleged irregularities in executing various infrastructure projects related to the Commonwealth Games by the Delhi government. v India has the dubious distinction of having the highest number of stillbirths in the world. In India, the stillbirth rates varied from 20 to 66 per 1,000 total births in different States. China has made some progress over the years to reduce its figure. As high as 66 per cent (1.8 million) stillbirths in the world occur in just 10 countries. India is followed by Pakistan, Nigeria, China, Bangladesh, Congo, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Afghanistan and Tanzania. v The SC declared Khap panchayats illegal and termed them as kangaroo courts.A bench of the Supreme Court including Justice Markandeya Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra gave the Judgement stating that honour killings, khap panchayats in northern India and katta panchayats in Tamil Nadu were illegal and barbaric. v he National Advisory Council (NAC) decided to put its draft on Communal Violence Bill in the public domain, with a wider ambit of vulnerable sections of the society. v Union Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh, along with Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavanlaunched a programme giving tribals the right to harvest bamboo as a forest produce in Gadchiroli.


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : v The SC gave the ruling that nonminority educational institutions have no right to admit students of their choice and scrapped 100 percent reservation for children of armed forces in the Army college of Medical Sciences(ACMS) in Delhi Cantonment. v 11 members of Public Accounts Committee’s 21 members, recorded their vote to reject the draft report on 2G scam circulated to the them by the Lok Sabha Secretariat on April 27, 2011. v The Postal Department launched the new social security scheme for Gramin Dak Sevaks (GDS) to provide postretirement financial security to over 2.73 lakh GDS. Service Discharge Benefit Scheme (SDBS) for GDS will be operationalised utilising the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA)’s New Pension Scheme product, NPS-Lite. v The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare decided to provide free nutritious food, transportation and treatment to all pregnant women who visit government facilities for delivery. v The SC directed the high courts and trial courts in India to award the death sentence to people convicted in crimes related to honour killings. v The new Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) came into force on 1 May 2011. No political party can receive foreign funds as donation,under the new law. This law is to facilitate regulation of foreign contributions and hospitality by individuals and organisations. v Data on infant deaths across states in India was released in May 2011. The data revealed that infant mortality rate for India as a whole stood at 50 in 2009, down by 30% compared to a decade ago. v The National Advisory Council (NAC) headed by Sonia Gandhi on 25 May 2011 gave its nod to government’s go ahead for fresh survey identifying families Below Poverty Line, BPL. The NAC has accepted government’s claim that over 66 percent of the SC/ST households in the country are likely to be included in the BPL category under the survey based on the methodology approved by the Cabinet. v Union government had approved two more tiger reserves in Karnataka. Following the government’s approval, B.R. Hills in Chamarajanagar district and Kudremukh in Chikmagalur district became the 40th and 41st tiger reserves in the country. v The SC banned the employment of children in circuses and directed the government to rescue those employed in the sector. It also asked the Government to formulate a rehabilitation programme for the children. v The Union Cabinet of India gave approval for conducting the Below Poverty Line (BPL) Census in rural and urban areas. The Census would be conducted by the Ministry of Rural Development in association with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) and the Registrar General of India (RGI). v The Supreme Court granted bail to Dr. Binayak Sen, observing that no case of sedition was made out against the rights activist, who was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by a trial court in Chhattisgarh. v India will overtake China in terms of population by 2025, an analysis of the provisional Census, 2011 data suggests. v The Union Cabinet’s Committee on Infrastructure approved the rollout of the e-district mission mode project in all 640 districts of the country, including the 41 districts where pilot projects of the scheme have been initiated. v The Union government will promote the use of iron fortified iodised salt (doublefortified salt) to battle anaemia, one of the major causes of malnutrition, particularly among women and children. v The government has appointed a Committee of Inquiry to probe the circumstances of the Pawan Hans helicopter crash at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh on April 19 that claimed the lives of 17 people.The committee, headed by Air Marshal (Retd.) P.P. Rajkumar. v The draft report of the Public Accounts Committee on the 2G scam has come out with yet another figure for the loss to the exchequer, putting it at Rs.1.90lakh crore in the grant of 122 licences in 2008, dual


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : technology licences and extra spectrum. v The Supreme Court has appointed M. Gopalakri-shnan, a former Member of the Central Water Comm-ission (CWC), to assist the commission in inspecting the Polavaram dam to ascertain whether it was being built as per the Godavari Tribunal Award. v Organic farming has the potential to generate over 20 lakh jobs in the state according to independent research study by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) titled ‘Organic Bihar – Way to Agricultural Prosperity.’ Promotion of organic farming in Bihar can raise income of farmers and lead to wealth accumulation of over 1,000 crore besides generating exports worth 500 crore, according to apex industry body. v The Supreme Court decision banning both mining and movement of ore in Bellary district in Karnataka, following the Lok Ayukta report, is excessive. The blanket ban penalises even those who did nothing wrong. v The treaty for constituting a new “Gorkhaland Territorial Authority” (GTA) in Darjeeling hills in West Bengal has given rise to deep concern and fear of more turmoil in the state. The treaty has been signed between state and central government and Gorkha Janamukti Morcha, the organisation leading the movement for a separate state. v The Union Cabinet of India gave its approval for setting up a national level security fund (NSSF) for unorganized sectors named as National Social Security Fund. The fund is likely to benefit 43.3 crore workers in the unorganized sector. v Dr. N.C. Saxena Committee was set up by the Ministry of Rural Development to advise it on the suitable methodology for BPL Census and not for estimation of poverty. v The Supreme Court of India issued a notice to the Centre and the States on a PIL seeking to bring advanced and affluent Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes out of the purview of reservation. v The union government of India has set up a National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) to access all intelligence data. It is to function as a tool for strengthening the capability of the existing intelligence and law enforcement agencies. v The Lok Sabha of Indian Parliament approved the Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Bill, 2011. The bill entails stringent punishment for those involved in organ trade. v Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has set up the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF), which is operationalised in the Indian Missions in all the Countries with effect from 24 March 2011 for safeguarding the welfare and protection especially of Indian workers going abroad. v The Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006 became effective in India from 5 August 2011 making it at par with the international standards. The Act was passed in Parliament in 2006. v A Parliamentary Standing Committee has favoured the death penalty for hijackers as it was “the need of the hour and unavoidable in the heightened threat of [the] daring crime”. v In a major blow to the Centre, the Supreme Court quashed the appointment of P.J. Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC). The Supreme Court rejected the contention that the appointment of Central Vigilance Commissioner must be made through consensus among members of the High Power Committee. v The Union Cabinet cleared a Bill seeking to prevent sexual abuse of children, with provisions for stringent punishment for such offences. v Even as the Centre on defended the telecom policy, the Supreme Court asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to examine how the UAE-based Etisalat was allowed to invest in Swan Telecom after the Union Home Ministry had expressed apprehensions on such Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) on the grounds of a threat to national security. v The Law Commission headed by Justice P. Venkatrama Reddi approved the proposed draft legislation, The Endangerment of Life and Liberty (protection, prosecution and other measures) Act,


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : v The Union government unveiled a new remote sensing data policy called the Remote Sensing Data Policy 2011(RSDP2011) which allows all data of resolutions up to 1 metre to be distributed on a non-discriminatory basis. v A Supreme Court bench including Justice GS Singhvi and Justice AK Ganguly refused to stay the Allahabad High Court order quashing the notifications for land acquisition in the area adjoining New Delhi and NCR. v The Union Cabinet approved extension of the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) to all the registered domestic workers in India. The scheme will likely cover approximately 47.50 lakh domestic workers in the country. The RSBY will provide for smart card based cashless health insurance cover of Rs.30000 per annum to BPL workers (a unit of five) in unorganised sector in any empanelled hospital anywhere in India. v Union Cabinet of India approved of a proposal of the law ministry for a National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms, providing for fast track courts to clear the backlog in the judicial system. v Sudershan Reddy and Justice SS Nijjar declared Salwa Judum as illegal and unconstitutional. v The Election Commission of India launched the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management, IIDEM in New Delhi. v The Centre for Social Research (CSR) recently released a report“Gender dimensions of international migration from India and Bangladesh: Impact on the families left behind” on 5 August 2010. v India signed three agreements with the World Bank for cleaning the Ganga River on 14 June 2011. Besides this, the agreement also held for strengthening Rural Livelihoods and Biodiversity Conservation of India. v The Union Law Ministry decided to keep the Navodaya Vidyalayas in the country outside the ambit of the Right to Education (RTE) Act. v The UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi launched the JananiShishu Suraksha Programme at Mewat in Haryana. v As part of an effort to ensure timely and effective implementation of works proposed under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), the Union Government decided to raise the amount to be released in the first instalment. v The Union government of India ordered security audit of all important installations comprising nuclear stations, military bases and oil refineries across the nation. v SK Sharma, Secretary, Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance launched an online grievance redressal portal for insurance policy holders in New Delhi. The portal would offer integrated grievance management system (IGMS). v The Survey of India report was submitted to the submitted to the Supreme Court. The report deals with the mining activities of the Andhra PradeshKarnataka border that involved the Karnataka Cabinet ministers- the Reddy brothers. v The Supreme Court allowed passive mercy killing of a patient in a permanent vegetative state (PVS) by withdrawing the life support system with the approval of a medical board and on the directions of the High Court concerned. v Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily launched the ‘Legal Information Institute (LII) of India,’ an online portal that comprises 108 legal databases covering all States, Union Territories and Central government jurisdictions. v The high power review committee tasked by the government to review the controversial agreement between Antrix Corporation and Devas Multimedia Private Ltd submitted its report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The committee, consisted of the former Cabinet Secretary, B.K. Chaturvedi, and Professor Roddam Narasimha. v Observing that Article 21 of the Constitution (right to life and liberty) would apply even to a foreign national staying in India, the Supreme Court stayed the deportation until further orders of a Libyan researcher whose visa is due to expire.


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : v The Supreme Court of India held in its recent judgment that the prohibition imposed by the centre on non-iodised salt for human consumption is unconstitutional. v The HRD (Human Resource Development) ministry superseded the National Council for Teacher Education through a gazette notification. All members of the NCTE were asked to vacate their office. v The Union Cabinet of India gave its approval for setting up a national level security fund (NSSF) for unorganized sectors named as National Social Security Fund. v According to a latest World Trade organisation (WTO) report India achieved tenth rank in export of services worldwide and emerged as the 20th biggest merchandise exporter in 2010. v The national green tribunal ordered Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd (HPPCL) to stop all construction work related to the Renuka Dam project.The dam on the Giri river will offer a storage capacity of 542 million cubic metres of water and an installed power capacity of 40 MW. v India registered a 20 per cent increase in tiger population in 2010, according to a reportStatus of tigers, co-predators and prey in India-2010 .The report stated that the estimated population of 1, 706 individual tigers represents a 20 per cent increase from the last survey in 2006, which estimated a number of 1,411 tigers. v World Health Organizationsponsored study on Major Depressive Episode (MDE) published in the BMC Medicine journal revealed that Indians are among the world’s most depressed. 9% of people in India reported having an extended period of depression within their lifetime, nearly 36% suffered from what is called Major Depressive Episode (MDE). v The Supreme Court of India on 25 July 2011 stated in its ruling that water allocated by a state for a particular region is not a matter of judicial review. v The Supreme Court of India on 19 July 2011 directed the Centre, States and Union Territories to carry out a comprehensive survey to determine the number of sex workers in India who are agreeable for rehabilitation. v he Union Cabinet of India in its meeting on 7 July 2011 decided to increase the development funds allocated to Members of Parliament under Local Area Development (MPLAD) Scheme from the existing 2 crore to 5 crore rupees from the financial year 2011-12. v India on 21 July 2011 accepted international norms for the prevention of air pollution emanating from ships. The norms were proposed under a 1997 protocol of the International Maritime organisation. v The Union Cabinet cleared a Bill that seeks to create a national database of academic qualifications in DMAT format, which will authenticate and reissue certificates. v With the World Bank loosening its purse strings to the tune of $0.5 million, India launched its first pollution cap and trade scheme. v The Union Cabinet of India, approved the amendments to the Indian Forest Act, 1927 to stop instances of unnecessary harassment and prosecution of forest dwellers and tribals for minor offences. Besides, to restrain the arbitrary power of the forest official, a clause could be added to the Act according to which the forest official will have to consult and record the views of the gram sabha or village assembly before adjudging a person to have violated the law. v Union Cabinet of India, approved the PFRDA (Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority) Bill and the State Bank of India (Subsidiary Bank Laws) Amendment Bill. v The Supreme Court of India upheld that if holding of an enquiry against a government employee involved in espionage has the potential to jeopardise national security and India’s relations with its neighbouring countries, he could be sacked by dispensing with it. v The Union Cabinet of India, approved the Bureau of Indian Standards (Amendment) Bill, 2011. The objective of the bill is to empower the government to make hallmarking mandatory. v The Land Acquistion, Relief and Rehabilitation Bill, 2011, was approved by the Union Cabinet on 5 September 2011. It aims to


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : put in place a transparent and legal framework for land acquisition. v An Earthquake of 6.8 magnitude Hit Sikkim which resulted in the innumerable loss of human lives. The epicentre of the quake, the biggest in two decades, was located at Mangan and Sakyong areas, over 50 kilometres from Gangtok on the Sikkim-Nepal border. v For Suspension of Operations (against ULFA), a tripartite agreement was signed between the Centre, the Assam state government and the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) in New Delhi on 3 September 2011 with the objective of bringing permanent peace in Assam. v The National Frequency Allocation Plan-2011 (NAFP) was released by Shri Kapil Sibal, the Union Minister of Communications and Information Technology to ensure its efficient and effective management. v The Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment Shri Mukul Wasnik has said that the Government is actively considering the recommendations of a committee set up to formulate a draft New National Policy on Senior Citizens. v The Union Cabinet of India on 15 September 2011 approved Amendments to the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences, Bangalore Bill, 2010. v The Union government of India made it mandatory for tobacco traders, retailers, vendors to display the pictorial warning on all the tobacco related products at their stores. v The Supreme Court on 15 September 2011 recommended to the Centre and state governments to provide ration and voter cards to sex workers by relaxing the verification procedure. v The Gujarat Legislative Assembly on 27 September 2011 passed the Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill 2011. v Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has urged the National Cooperative Consumer Federation (NCCF) to plan new strategies and expend its network to take advantage of the free and open economic environment in the country. v A UN study ranked India at 134 out of 187 countries in terms of Human Development Index. The study however observed that life expectancy at birth in India has increased by 10.1 per cent a year over the last two decades. v The Mines and Mineral Development and Regulation (MMDR) Bill, 2011 that provides for mining companies to keep aside 26 per cent of their net profits for a Mineral Development Fund to be used for development and rehabilitation of project-affected people in the tribal areas of the country approved by Union Cabinet. v The union government of India decided to ban the use of infertility drug Letrozole which is mainly recommended for treating Cancer patients. v A developmental action plan called Saranda Action plan for Naxal Affected districts in Naxal affected districts particularly in eastern India,finalised by the Union Government of India . The Saranda Action Plan was prepared by Rural Development Ministry. It will be implemented firstly in Jharkhand’s Naxal-hit Saranda district. v The Election Commission of India raised the cap of minimum votes a political party must secure in election to get the status of a State party or maintain it further. v A study conducted jointly by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, University of Hong Kong and the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) found that Avahan successfully slowed the transmission of HIV among the general population. v Haryana has become one of the first States in the country to take up implementation of Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), a mission mode project of the Union Home Ministry, to create a platform for sharing intelligence and information about crime and criminals across the country. v Proposal of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for pursuing the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Amendment Bill, 2010


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : approved by the Union Cabinet of India on 1 November 2011. v A nationwide campaign, “Karmayuga: The right every wrong generation”, aiming to bring together and recognise citizen volunteers, uncommon and unsung heroes trying to lead society towards a better tomorrow through their sustained focus, was launched. v Proposal of Information and Broadcasting Ministry to publicize the Digitalisation of Analogue Cable Systems Ordinance was approved by the Union Cabinet of India on 13 October 2011. v The Supreme Court has deprecated the practice of sale of immovable properties through sale agreement/general power of attorney/will transfer, and said such sale of property is not valid. v The latest Microsoft Security Intelligence Report said that While the world is becoming more secure when it comes to cyber security, in India the computer infection rate is climbing, having almost three times the worldwide average of certain threat categories such as viruses and worms. v The Union Cabinet approved setting up of six new National Institutes of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPERs) to meet the shortage of skilled manpower in the pharmaceutical sector.The new institutes will come up at Gandhinagar, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Hajipur, Guwahati and Rae Bareli. v The Supreme Court of India on 1 December 2011 stated that section497 of the Indian penal Code is biased against men. The section punishes a man alone for adultery for having consensual sex with a married woman. v The Supreme Court ruled on 28 November 2011 that awards passed by the Lok Adalat either in criminal or civil matters are bound to be implemented through a court decree if parties after reaching a compromise fail to stick to it. v Tamil Nadu government on 24 November 2011 banned the screening of Hollywood film Dam 999 with immediate effect. The movie directed by Sohan Roy is believed to be based on disputed Mullaperiyar Dam between Tamilnadu and Kerala. v The Supreme Court of India ruled that a Hindu Woman cannot be evicted from the matrimonial home after divorce except through procedure sanctioned by law. v The Union Cabinet of India on 16 November 2011 approved the official amendment to the Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical Educational Institutions, Medical Educational Institutions and Universities Bill, 2010 based on the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on HRD for consideration of the Parliament. v A report on child rights, India’s Child Rights Index, a first-of-itskind report was released on 9 November 2011 by the HAQCentre for Child Rights. Kerala topped the national child rights index, followed by Karnataka. Arunachal Pradesh was found to be the worst performer in protecting the rights of children. v Tribal Affairs Ministry launched a scheme, Adivasi Shiksha Rinn Yojana (ASRY) on 2 November 2011 to offer subsidised education loans to Scheduled Tribe students at concessional rate for higher, professional and technical education in government-approved institutions. v Union Rural Development Ministry announced on 4 November 2011 that Comptroller and AuditorGeneral of India (CAG) will audit performance of all schemes under the Ministries of Rural Development and Drinking Water and Sanitation. v Infant mortality rate (IMR) has shown a 3 point decline, dropping from 50 deaths per 1,000 live births to 47 and moving a step closer to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) target of 30. v India has half of Asia’s HIV patients and is way ahead of China in disease burden. It also finds a place in the list of 22 countries prioritised for preventing mother to child transmission infection, according to the latest UNAIDS report, drafted jointly with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). v Rajya Sabha approved the Export-Import Bank of India Amendment Bill, 2011, on 27 December 2011. v The Lok Sabha on 27 December


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : 2011, approved the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2011 with the government making it clear that setting up of Lokayuktas by the states would not be mandatory. v Rajya Sabha approved the Regulation of Factor (Assignments Receivable Bill, 2011) on 27 December 2011 to help micro, small and medium enterprises. v Rajya Sabha of Indian Parliament on 22 December 2011 passed the bill the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2011 to amend the list of Scheduled Tribes and add more tribes from North-Eastern India. v Maharashtra government will spend Rs. 800 crore on the first phase of a health scheme for the poor, which is slated to benefit nearly 50 lakh families from eight districts, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said at a function, under the ‘Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayee Arogya Yojana. v The Union cabinet of India on 22 December 2011 approved 4.5 percent share for minorities within the 27% OBC quota in jobs and university seats. v The Union Cabinet of India on 18 December 2011 approved a draft National Food Security Bill that seeks to give legal entitlement of cheaper foodgrains to 62.5 per cent of the country’s population. v A bench of the Supreme Court including Justices BS Chauhan and TS Thakur on 16 December 2011 ruled that even animals are entitled to accident compensation. v The Union Ministry of Home Affairs agreed to fill 10% of the Group ‘B’ posts in Central Paramilitary Forces from among Ex-Servicemen. Presently, the scheme caters to 38 lakh beneficiaries including 12 lakhEx-Servicemen and over 26 lakh dependents. v The Lok Sabha on 13 December 2011 unanimously passed a Bill to further amend theCable Television Networks Regulation Act, 1995. v The Supreme Court of India directed Tamil Nadu to ensure that the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam does not exceed 136 feet but declined to entertain Kerala’s plea for reducing the level to 120 feet. v Karnataka has now emerged as one of the top sugar producing States in the country, after Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. v The Lok Sabha on 12 December 2011 passed the amendments to the Petro-leum and Minerals Pipelines (Acquisition of Right of User in Land) Act, 1962. v The Lok Sabha on 12 December 2011 unanimously passed the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Bill of 2011, which granted a three-year term extension to the Master Plan of Delhi (MPD). v The Government decided to set up a village water and sanitation committee in each Gram Panchayat, village and ward to ensure safe drinking water supply. v Supreme Court of India on 8 December 2011 directed all states to ensure vehicles carry tamper-free high security number plates within four weeks. v The Supreme Court of India on 1 December 2011 stated that section497 of the Indian penal Code is biased against men. v Planning commission od India on 19 January 2012 approved investment clearance for the scheme – Rudrasagar Drainage Development Scheme, Tripura. v As per the latest official data, the total number of family planning acceptors in India increased by 3.5 per cent between 2010 and 2011. v Indian Meteorological Department on its 137th foundation day (15 January 2012), installed C-Band Polarimetric Doppler Radar system at Mausam Bhawan, New Delhi. v Union Ministry for Human Resource Development on 18 January 2012 announced that there would be a Grievance Redressal mechanisms in higher educational institutions. v Union Ministry for Human Resource Development on 18 January 2012 announced that there would be a Grievance Redressal mechanisms in higher educational institutions. v The Union Cabinet of India on 12 January 2012 approved the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) policy, with the objective of checking illicit production of psychotropic substances, curb drug abuse and stop trafficking of such items. v President Pratibha Patil visited the Satish Dhawan Space Centre


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : (SDSC SHAR) at Sriharikota on 2 January 2012 and inaugurated the new Mission Control Centre. v The National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) signed a contract with a consortium led by Shriram EPC Limited (SEPC) for ByProduct Plant (BPP) package for the upcoming three million tonnes per annum integrated steel plant at Nagarnar in Chattisgarh. v Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on 11 January 2012 inaugurated a 5-MW solar energy plant by SunEdison. SunEdiso is the leading solar energy services provider, at Phalodi in Jodhpur district. v The Central Information Commission(CIS) held in the first week of January 2012 that all information in possession of the office of the Chief Justice of India is not completely exempt from disclosure under the Right to Information (RTI) act. v The Union Cabinet is likely to give its final approval for a national mission to try and improve the accuracy of monsoon forecasts by this month-end. v India became free from bird flu, H5N1. The government made a declaration to this effect on 4 January 2012. v India on 4 January 2012 approved 6600 crore rupees acquisition of 490 French advanced missile systems to arm the Mirage-2000 fighter jets. v Rajya Sabha approved the Export-Import Bank of India Amendment Bill, 2011, on 27 December 2011. v Rajya Sabha approved the Regulation of Factor (Assignments Receivable Bill, 2011) on 27 December 2011 to help micro, small and medium enterprises. v The 10th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD) was held on 7-9 January, 2012 at Birla Auditorium, Jaipur. v A US (United States) federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed against the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. v North Korea agreed to suspend its nuclear and uranium enrichment programme in return for US food aid. v India took over the chair of assembly and governing board of Association of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI). v The UN Human Rights Council asked Syria to immediately stop the attacks on civilians by the security forces. v The second round of talks between the five-member IAEA(International Atomic Energy Association) team led by its Chief weapons inspector, Herman Naeckarts and Iranian government failed. v The former President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, displayed admirable restraint as new President Waheed Hassan finally got his act together, named a new Cabinet, and embarked on a Himalayan task of making the national unity government work. v In the most unmistakable sign yet that he has thrown down the gauntlet to his Republican challengers in the November presidential election, United States President Barack Obama announced a dramatic increase in the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans, to about 30 per cent. v Iran launched 3 nuclear projects including a fourth generation Ultra Centrifuge, which is capable of enriching the Uranium faster than its earlier models. v The marines of Italian ship Enrica Lexie, Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone allegedly killed two fishermen Valentine Jalastine and Ajeesh Binki off the coast of Kollam in Kerala. v Syria rejected the Arab League proposal for deployment of a Joint UN-Arab Peacekeeping mission by the UN Security Council to monitor the situation in the country, describing it as a hostile act that targets Syria’s stability and security. v The Army resumed border coordination with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) stationed in Afghanistan and the Afghan National Army after a two-month freeze in relations following the NATO air strike on Pakistani border outposts. v China has announced it will increase defence spending by 11.2 per cent in 2012, for the first time taking its annual military expenditure beyond $100 billion as it puts in place plans to modernise its Army against the backdrop of an uncertain regional environment. v Iran has announced that it is ready to open up its Parchin


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : military facility for inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) — a move likely to retard the growing call for military strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities. v In Syria, President Bashar alAssad set 7 May 2012 as the date for parliamentary elections. v A 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of the central Philippines in the narrow strait between the heavily populated islands of Negros and Cebu. v A 5p (GBP0.05) plastic bag tax will be imposed in Northern Ireland from next year. Alex Attwood, environment minister, said “we want to demonstrate that the Northern Ireland government is dedicated to the green agenda.” v Indonesia became the 157th country to adopt the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Indonesia formalised ratification of the nuclear test ban treaty on 6 February 2012 at the United Nations. v Russia and China on 4 February 2012 vetoed the UN Security Council resolution for the second time in four months. v NATO allies discussed on Thursday U.S. plans to end combat operations in Afghanistan in 2013 and shift to a training mission, as the alliance seeks to wind down a war that has dragged on for a decade. v The International Criminal Court on Wednesday convicted Congolese militia chief Thomas Lubanga of war crimes for conscripting children into his army, the tribunal’s first ever verdict. v Less than a week after a similar move by micro-blogging site Twitter, Internet major Google has unveiled plans to make content on its blogger platform selectively available, depending on the local rules of each country. v China’s ambitious $80-billion project to divert waters of southern rivers to the arid north is nearing completion and will begin supplying water next year, officials have said. v The tension intensified between Russia and The United States on 22 May 2011 over missile defence in Europe. Russia warned US of mad arms race if the latter goes ahead with its plans on missile defence in Europe. v The Chinese government said it viewed the security situation in the Asia-Pacific as “volatile”, pointing to the United States “reinforcing” regional military alliances and rising suspicions among China’s neighbours. v The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, after some thought, has abandoned the idea of either tightening the laws to “protect the honour” of Mahatma Gandhi or of banning his controversial biography, Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and his struggle with India, written by Pulitzer Prizewinning former executive editor of The New York Times Joseph Lelyveld. v The United Nations and the government it supports in Ivory Coast are trading accusations over the killings of hundreds of civilians in a western town. v Ivory Coast leader Alassane Ouattara’s forces, backed by French and U.N. troops, captured his besieged rival Laurent Gbagbo in Abidjan at the climax of a deadly monthslong crisis. v Cuba kicks off a crucial Communist Party congress with a massive military and civilian parade to mark 50 years since the defeat of CIA-backed exiles at the Bay of Pigs, still celebrated as a landmark triumph over the island’s powerful neighbour to the north. v The war of words between oilrich Iran and Saudi Arabia is escalating dangerously following Riyadh’s military intervention in Bahrain, where a security crackdown against pro-democracy dissidents shows no signs of abating. v Popular singer-turnedpolitician Michel Martelly was declared winner of Haiti’s presidential election. v U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has said he cannot order an international probe into the killing of tens of thousands of civilians during Sri Lanka’s final assault on Tamil separatists in 2009. v Russia marked a half century since Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, the greatest victory of Soviet science which expanded human horizons and still remembered by Russians as their finest hour. v The central bank of Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Bank, has


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : removed Nobel Laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus as the Managing Director of Grameen Bank. v China has unveiled plans to link up Tibet and Xinjiang, its two far-western frontier regions, with a new railway network as part of a wider initiative to boost infrastructure projects in border areas in the next Five-Year Plan (2011-15). v he US credit rating was downgraded to AA+ from AAA by Standard and Poor ’s. This can increase the cost of borrowing for the US and setting off more panic selling in stock markets. v The UN Human Rights Council ordered an investigation into violations committed by the Syrian regime during its crackdown on popular protests. v China announced measures to make it easier for Hong Kong companies to invest in mainland securities, the latest step in a continuing drive to make the yuan an international currency. v Google’s $12.5 billion takeover of Motorola Mobility, priced at 32 times the latter ’s earnings, is the costliest takeover in the last 12 years. v North Korea agreed to go ahead with international talks on denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. North Korea expressed its readiness to impose a moratorium on tests of weapons of mass destruction and resume the stalled six-party talks on its nuclear programme. v The opposition group in Yemen elected an umbrella council to take over power from President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is in Riyadh. He has been there for the past 10 weeks recovering from a bomb balst. The umbrella council consists of 143 members and it is named National Council for the Forces of the Peaceful Revolution. v China launched its first aircraft carrier for a maiden run. The aircraft carrier is about 300 meters long. It will be used for training and as a model for future carriers. v New Zealand government imposed a 12-month ban on Synthetic cannabis products.The government said the use of 43 artificial cannabis products could cause heart problems. v For the first time ever the number of people killed in road accidents has fallen below 150 000 in the 52 member countries of the International Transport Forum (ITF), excluding India. v US and European nations has passed draft resolution for tougher UN sanctions against Syria’s President Bashar alAssad and other top regime leaderships for their deadly crackdown on opposition protests. v To mark the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, UN Women announced a new regional programme to address the needs of widows in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. leader and continue to advocate “meaningful autonomy” for Tibet. v Illinois became the 16th State of the United States to abolish the death penalty when its Governor,Pat Quinn, announced the decision. v A ferocious tsunami spawned by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded slammed Japan’s eastern coast, killing hundreds of people as it swept away boats, cars and homes while widespread fires burned out of control. v Hina Rabbani Khar was appointed as Pakistan’s new foreign minister. Khar ,34, is the youngest minister to accept the post. v The United States Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) revealed that the unemployment in US increased to 9.2 percent for the month of June and over 14 million people were jobless. v USA announced that it withheld the 800 million dollars aid to the Pakistan’s military. This action taken by the US government suggests that US doesn’t rely completely on Pakistan in its fight against terrorism. v A two-day meeting of foreign ministers of the 46-nation AsiaEurope (ASEM) held in Godollo, Hungary. This was the 10th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. v The United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur welcomed the agreement signed on 14 July 2011, between the Sudanese Government and the rebel

v The Dalai Lama announced that he would step down as “political head” of the so-called Tibetan government-in-exile but would remain as religious


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : Liberation and Movement (LJM). Justice v On 20 July 2011 the United Nations declared a famine, occurring in the Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions of southern Somalia. v Ahead of the third anniversary of the March 14 riots in Tibet, a top official from the region said the government would pay more attention to preserving Tibetan culture to address rising concerns about imbalanced growth. v Outside the glare of media, a trination monitoring group of diplomats has been established in Dubai to brainstorm ways of rescuing sailors on board ships that Somali pirates have hijacked. v Bahrain’s King pledged to bring reforms and another demonstrator was confirmed to have died in a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, as international calls mounted for restraint. v Germany announced its decision to phase out its all the nuclear plants by 2022. This decision, prompted by Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, will make Germany the first major industrialized nation to go nuclear-free. v Swiss parliament gave approval to Switzerland’s amendments to tax treaties with other countries, including India. This makes easier access for India, to collect information about the illegal funds held by the Indian nationals in Swiss private banks. v The Parliament of Bangladesh, the Jatiyo Sangsad, passed the Constitution (15th Amendment) Bill, 2011 on 30 June 2011 to amend its constitution under which the caretaker government system for holding general elections was scrapped. v The six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) celebrated its 10th anniversary on 15 June 2011 in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan, by summing up its achievements and outlining its future direction. v The United Nations launched a drive, Sustainable sanitation: The Five-Year-Drive to 2015 to accelerate progress towards the goal of halving the proportion of the population without access to basic sanitation by 2015. v Yingluck Shinawatra from the Pheu Thai (PT) party, had a stunning victory aginst her opposition party, Democrat Party in Thailand’s election . v President of Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh left for Saudi Arabia for medical treatment and thus ended his 33-year rule over the nation. v The Government of India and Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a $132 million loan agreement for strengthening Bihar ’s power sector. The project is expected to be completed by 31 December 2015. v The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in a concluding session of an international ministerial conference in Vienna on 24 June 2011 expressed urgency to take appropriate action on the basis of lessons from the civil nuclear accident at the quake-and-

v FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine together with other national and international veterinary groups declared 2011 as the World Veterinary Year. 2011 marks the 250th anniversary of the founding of the world’s first veterinary school in Lyon, France. v The World Investment Report 2011 was released by UNCTAD on 26 July 2011. According to the report, India’s position among the top 20 FDI recipients fell to 14th position, from 8th in 2009. v Russia made an announcement that it built a missile defence shield which covers two-thirds of the country. v Vietnam’s lawmaking National Assembly appointed Truong Tan Sang as the communist country’s new president on 25 July 2011 following Vietnam’s 13th National Assembly election. v An Italian parliamentary commission approved a draft law banning women from wearing veils that cover their faces in public. v 17-nation Euro Zone Summit was held in Brussels, capital of Belgium with the objective of finalizing a second rescue package for debt plagued Greece and calm the financial markets of Europe. v Britain announced a new visa category to facilitate the immigration for exceptionally talented people from India and other non-EU countries in the fields of humanities, engineering, arts and science.


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan. v Syria’s President Bashar alAssad proposed holding of a national dialogue that will recommend sweeping reforms aimed at transforming the political landscape. v People of Morocco approved the constitutional reforms which is expected to bring democratic reforms in the country. v According to the UN-HABITAT report on the State of the World Cities 2010/2011: Bridging the Urban Divide, Governments across the world worked collectively to lift 227 million people out of slum conditions, surpassing the Millennium Development target by 2.2 times. v According the report, The World in 2050 by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, India can be expected to be the fastest growing large economy in the world over the period to 2050. v The Central bank in South Korea stated stated that the foreign investment in South Korea increased in 2010. v Iran and Iraq signed agreements in Tehran on the extradition of each other ’s detainees, including provisions for the repatriation of convicts to their country of origin. v Ismail Omar Guelleh won the Presidential Elections in Djibouti according to the election results declared. Guelleh of the ruling People’s Rally for Progress (RPP) party got 79.26 percent of the vote while the only opposition candidate Mohamed Warsama Ragueh could manage 20.74 percent votes only. v Japan decided to cut its Official Development Assistance during the financial year 2011-12. v Italy and France, agreed to joint sea and air patrols to block Tunisian migrants from coming to European shores. v Russia proposed a plan to strengthen the safety standards in nuclear power plants of the world with the objective of not allowing any nuclear catastrophe similar to Fukushima Daichi, Japan or Chernobyl to happen in future. v Iran agreed to resume talks on its controversial nuclear programme with six major nations- Britain, China, Russia, US, France and Germany. v Russia finalised a deal with NATO in the second week of April 2011 to supply two dozen combat helicopters to Afghanistan and train local pilots. v India and the World Bank signed IDA (International Development Association) credit of 162.7 million dollars for Rajasthan Rural Livelihoods Project, which will finance livelihood opportunities for some 400000 village households in 17 districts of Rajasthan. v India released a list of 50 most wanted fugitives comprising underworld Don Dawood Ibrahim, Hafiz Saeed, LeT founder Hafiz Saeed and Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi hiding in Paksitan.India released this list to put pressure on Pakistan. v The leaders of two main Palestinian-factions, Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation agreement. v India ratified, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and its three protocols and the United Nations Convention against Corruption. v The Iranian Parliament (Majlis) imposed sanctions on 26 US officials, including former defence and intelligence chiefs, for their alleged involvement in the killing of civilians and the torture of suspects in US-run prisons. v The BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) added South Africa in its group in February, 2011 and hence BRIC is known as BRICS now. v Burkina Faso’s president, Blaise Compaore dismissed the country’s cabinet and the army chief. v The election for the next “Kalon Tripa,” chairperson of the cabinet of the so-called Tibetan government-in-exile, also referred to as its Prime Minister, generated keen interest in the Darjeeling hills not just within the Tibetan community there but also among the rest of the local population. v Thousands of Syrians marched in the southern town of Daraa after the funeral of a protester killed in the previous day’s demonstration, a resident said. v Bahrain’s king, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, declared the 3-month state of emergency to quell an uprising by the Shiite


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : Muslim Majority of the nation. v China’s trade deficit stood at 7.3 billion US dollars in February 2011, which is largest in seven years. v According to the IATA (International Air Transport Association) announcement on 23 February 2011, the year 2010 was the safest one in terms of global commercial aviation. v King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on 25 September 2011 granted women the right to vote and run in future municipal elections. v The European Union on 2 September 2011announced a ban on oil imports from Syria. v Garman Parliament approved expanded powers for the EU’s main bailout fund. The Parliament voted in favour of an enhanced 440 billion euro European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). v The United States on 15 September 2011 declared the Indian Mujahideen terror group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under Section 219 of the Immigration and nationality act as a specially designated global terrorist under section 1(b) of executive order 13224. v India on 22 September 2011 took over the presidency of the G-24 group of 24 developing countries after a gap of 28 years. v The 7th Regional Conference of ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption initiative on Asia and the Pacific was inaugurated by the President of India Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil in New Delhi.The Conference is aimed at ‘building multi-disciplinary framework to combat corruption’. v Iran made the announcement on 11 September 2011 that it would donate USD 100 million to Pakistan to help rehabilitate its flood affected people in the country’s Sindh province. v 8th International Abilympics, a vocational skill competition among the person with disability, was held in Seoul, Republic of Korea from September 25-30, 2011. v The core voluntary budget of UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women or UN Women has received USD 1 million from India, for the year 2011. v Muammar Gaddafi, who ruled Libya for over 40 years, was killed on 20 October 2011 while trying to flee from his hometown, Sirte. v An earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale killed many people in eastern Turkey on 23 October 2011. v Two former Rwandan Ministers were jailed for 30 years by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for involvement in the central African country’s 1994 genocide. v Russia and Bangladesh signed a deal to build a nuclear power plant at Rooppur in Pabna district. v Palestine got the membership of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) with 107 votes in favour and 14 votes against, there were 52 abstentions. v China became Russia’s biggest trading partner. The exports and imports between these two nations touched 50.8 billion US dollars from January to August 2011. v People living in some of the vulnerable areas along the coast were evacuated in Orissa, Puducherry and Maharashtra as India joined 23 other Indian Ocean Rim nations in conducting a 12-hour mock tsunami drill codenamed ‘Exercise IO Wave11. v India took over as the Chairman of United Nations South Asian Regional Commission for tourism. v The 6th G20 (industrialist and developing countries) summit was held in Cannes, France on November 3 and 4, 2011 to discuss key issues in the global economy. v On 5 October 2011 Russia and China vetoed UN Security Council draft resolution recommending sanctions against Syria for the ongoing crackdown on Protesters. v Egypt’s military council amended a contentious election law to allow parties to contest a third of the seats in Parliament reserved for independents. v The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has been appointed as external auditor of two major UN organisations, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Genevabased World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). v The U.N. General Assembly’s


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : human rights committee on 22 November 2011 voted to strongly condemn Syria’s crackdown on dissent. v The United Kingdom shut down the Iranian embassy in London and expelled all its staff in retaliation to the storming of the British diplomatic compound by an angry mob. v The Bangladeshi Parliament on 29 November 2011 passed a landmark bill, the Vested Properties Return (Amendment) Bill 2011 that will enable Hindus to reclaim their property taken over by the government and individuals. v Kuwait’s Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah and the Cabinet resigned on 28 November 2011 amid accusations of corruption. v The Justice and Development Party (PJD) won the parliamentary elections in Morocco according to the poll results announced on 27 November 2011. v India was elected to the United Nations’ Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) and returned to this oversight body after a gap of 35 years. India’s five-year term with the body will start from 1 January 2013. India defeated China to get a place on the JIU. v China on 18 November 2011 signed a contract with ISA (International Seabed Authority) to gain rights to explore polymetallic sulphide ore deposits in Indian Ocean over the next 15 years. v World powers on 17 November 2011 put forward a resolution at IAEA (International Atomic Energy Association), expressing deep and increasing concern about Iran’s nuclear programme following a hardhitting IAEA report. v APEC summit 2011 was held in Honolulu, Hawaii from 8 November to 13 November 2011. Under the chairmanship of US President Barak Obama, leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum agreed a comprehensive set of measures to increase economic growth and job creation by expanding trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. v The 17th SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Summit (the heads of states) held in Hithadhoo, Addu, Maldives on 10 November and 11 November 2011. A 20-point Addu Declaration was adopted on 11 November 2011 to forge effective cooperation among the member states in a host of areas including economy, connectivity, climate change and food security. v The leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Guillermo Leon Saenz alias Alfanso Cano was killed in a government bombing raid in the Cauca department, southwest Colombia in the first week of November 2011. v Maldives on 4 January 2012 lifted ban on spas in the upmarket tourist destination following its verification that these spas were not being used for prostitution. v The Israel-Palestine talks ended in the first week of January 2012 with the international mediators from Quartet (the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia) and Jordan ended without any breakthrough in Amman, capital of Jordan. v India is one of only four countries which, during the first half of 2011, requested Google to remove content on the basis that it was critical of the government. v The United Nations (UN) and the Iraqi Government on 24 December 2011 signed an agreement to relocate Iranian exiles living in a camp in northeastern part of Iraq. v The leaders of the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organisation) nations on 21 December 2011 agreed that the deployment of foreign bases in their territory would be done with the approval of all partners of the defence alliance. v Making a diplomatically risky trip to the long-isolated Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she wanted to see for herself whether new civilian leaders were truly ready to throw off 50 years of military dictatorship a test that includes rare face-to-face meetings with former members of the junta. v As per the Charities Aid Foundation’s World Giving Index, India ranked as the most uncharitable nation of South Asia in 2011. v Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai (62), a


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : Kashmiri-origin U.S. citizen arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on July 19, 2011 for allegedly acting as an unregistered lobbyist of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax violations. v NATO ended its training mission in Iraq on 17 December 2011. The mission was aimed at assisting in the development of Iraqi security forces training structures and institutions. v The UN Security Council on 16 December 2011 lifted sanctions on Libya’s central bank and the country’s foreign investments banks. v The US military officially ended its mission in Iraq on 15 December 2011. v The Government of Canada announced on 12 December 2011 that women who aspire for Canadian citizenship can’t wear burqa or Islamic hijab when they take oath of citizenship. v The 4th International Tax Dialogue (ITD), a global conference on Tax and Inequality was inaugurated by the Finance Ministry of India from 7 December to 9 December 2011. v Greek Parliament on 7 December 2011 approved a budget for 2012 pledging tough fiscal goals demanded by European Union partners in return for fresh loans. v The first Global Buddhist Congregation which was aimed to provide a joint platform to Buddhist communities across the world and also to impact geo-politics in Asia was concluded in New Delhi on 30 November 2011. v In Egypt, the military rulers declared partial lifting of emergency in the country. The move comes into effect from 25 January 2012- the first anniversary of the 25th January revolution which saw the overthrowing of the decades long Mubarak regime in the country a year ago. v Haditha residents and relatives of the 24 Iraqi civilians killed in 2005 in the town by U.S. troops voiced disgust and shock over the light sentence meted out to a soldier involved in the massacre. v Nicaraguan ex-rebel Daniel Ortega, joined by allies from Iran and Venezuela, started his third mandate as President with a legislative super majority that has provoked fears of authoritarianism. v The Bangladesh army foiled a planned coup in December 2011 attempt to topple the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. v The UN nuclear watchdog, IAEA on 12 January 2012 confirmed that Iran started enriching uranium to 20 percent. The production is taking place at Fordo, a nuclear facility 160 kilometers southwest of Tehran. v China has announced it will accelerate plans to expand a railway network in Tibet to reach two towns near the border with India and will also consider building a railway line to Nepal. New railway lines from Lhasa to Xigaze (Shigatse in Tibetan) and the town of Nyingchi, which lies in a prefecture bordering Arunachal Pradesh, will be built as key projects under a five-year development plan (2011-15) for the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). v Australia on 9 January 2012 announced that it would scale back sanctions against Myanmar. v The member states of European Union(EU) on 4 January 2012, agreed in principle to ban import of Iranian crude oil to put pressure on Iran for its nuclear programme. v In one of their biggest arms deal, the US and Saudi Arabia on 28 December 2011 inked an agreement worth 29.4 billion US dollars for the sale of 80 new F15SA combat jets and modernisation of another 70. v An integrated approach to supply and demand side water management is the best response to water stress and climate change, experts from Australia and India pointed out at a panel discussion. v India and Saudi Arabia discussed the World Oil Outlook in New Delhi , especially the growing demand for hydrocarbons in Asia and India during the delegation level talks. v India and Saudi Arabia agreed to set up a Joint Working Group on Defence Co-operation during the visit of Defence Minister A.K Antony to the latter. v Senior officials heaved a sigh of


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : relief that the two-month-long political confrontation in the Maldives appeared to be getting peacefully resolved despite belligerent statements from a section of the Islamists against Mohd. Nasheed, who resigned as the country’s chief executive v India handed over 20 million Dollars standby loan to Maldives in view of the difficult financial situation there. v India and Bangladesh will take the first step towards revisiting the proposed Teesta river treaty when officials exchange river flow data at a technical meeting of the inter-governmental Joint Rivers Commission in Kolkata. v India and Colombia signed a Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) in New Delhi for the Years 2012-2016. The CEP was signed in conformity with the provision established in the Cultural Agreement between the Government of India and the Government of Colombia. v India and Pakistan agreed to extend the agreement to reduce the risk from accidents related to nuclear weapons for another five years (till 21 February 2017), in accordance with Article 8 of the agreement between the two countries. v India asked Somalia to bring in a national anti-piracy legislation for investigation and prosecution of suspected pirates v India said there was no need to get its domestic nuclear liability law vetted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ensure it complied with the Convention on Supplemental Compensation (CSC). v India and United States agreed to explore new models for educational institutions to take knowledge partnership to a higher level. v Pakistan decided to grant India Most-Fav oured -Nati on(MF N) trade status. v India and Pakistan have agreed to normalise their economic relations and jointly work to double bilateral trade to six billion US dollars by 2014. v India signed a deal with a Sri Lankan firm worth over 300 crore rupees to procure 80 FastInterception Craft (FIC). v A 14-day long India-Bangladesh joint military exercise started on 9 October 2011 at Jalalabad Cantonment in Sylhet division, some 240 km northeast of capital Dhaka. The military exercise between the two nations was code named Op Sampriti. v European Union launched a Visa Information System (VIS) for Indians and other non-EU citizens applying for a Schengen visa. v India and the Czech Republic upgraded their economic cooperation and fixed a target of bilateral trade volume of two billion US Dollars by 2012. v India and Iran agreed to set up a mechanism for payment of crude oil and ensure bilateral trade. v India has agreed to mentor the Afghan security forces as they gear up to deal with the drawdown of foreign forces by 2014 in a major development. v India and Nepal on 27 November 2011 signed a revised Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA). v India and the United Arab Emirates on 23 November 2011 signed two key agreements. The first agreement will allow each other ’s convicted prisoners to serve the rest of their jail terms in their native country. v Chinese Ambassador to India, Zhang Yan on 17 November 2011 handed over the cheque of 1 million US dollars for construction of a library in Nalanda International University (NIU) to highlight the Chinese art and architecture. v Twelve of the 22 Indian diamond traders, detained in China for nearly 2 years on charges of smuggling, reached India on 5 January 2012 after they were let off following deportation orders by a Chinese court. v Two merchant vessels of Chinese ownership left anchorage midway through an inspection by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), fearing action for not having given minimum wages to their crew. v India has rejected Pakistan’s proposal to move heavy artillery and mortars away from the Line of Control citing frequent ceasefire violations. v Global politics will be high on the agenda of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Russia in the context of shifting power equations in the world, said India’s envoy to Russia. v The Prime Minister of India visited Russia on 15-17


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : December 2011 to participate in the 12th Indo-Russian annual summit. India and Russia signed five major agreements during this summit, which includes licensed production of an additional 42 Sukhoi combat planes and to manage fly ash residue at thermal plants in Siberia. v India and Japan decided to expedite work on infrastructure projects and agreed to enhance the currency swap arrangement from $3 billion to $ 15 billion. v India and Australia on 16 December 2011 signed an agreement to amend DTAA (Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement) with the objective of ensuring more effective exchange of financial information between the two countries. DTAA was signed between India and Australia in 1991. v Australia’s ruling Labour Party on 4 December 2011 in its annual policy conference approved plans to open up uranium sales to India. v India and Pakistan on 25 January 2012 agreed in New Delhi to transit fee formula for Tapi (Tajikistan, Pakistan and India) gas pipeline project. v India signed a multi-lateral tax treaty with economic powers like France and Germany to check both tax evasion and avoidance. v The Government of India and the World Bank on 20 January 2012 signed an IDA credit of 130 million US dollars to finance the project called NERLP (North East Rural Livelihoods Project), to empower rural communities in the growth-deficient North East (NE) region to improve their livelihood opportunities. v In a breakthrough that will take forward the ambitious $7.6billion TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan) pipeline project, India and Pakistan on Wednesday agreed to have a uniform transit fee to ferry natural gas from Turkmenistan. v India signed MoU with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) at Manado, Indonesia on 12 January 2012. v The Economic and Trade Ministers of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations have decided to set up a liaison group to intensify cooperation and pledged to oppose trade protectionism. v The BRICS nations inked a pact to use their own currencies instead of the U.S. dollar in issuing credit or grants among each other and pushed for the early conclusion of an Indiainitiated U.N. comprehensive anti-terror law. v India and the United States on 18 July 2011 agreed to step up Science and Technology coordination in New Delhi. v Germany on 25 July 2011 revised an advisory that had cautioned against trips to Kashmir. Germany thus became the first European nation since 1995 to allow its citizens to visit Kashmir. v India and Mongolia signed three agreements which includes defence cooperation, media exchanges and cooperation between their planning commissions during the visit of Indian President Prtibha Patil to Mongolia. v The Government of India signed an Agreement and Protocol for Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital (DTAA) with Government of Lithuania in New Delhi. v India and the European Union finalised an interim settlement to make sure that Made in India consignments of generic medicines will not be detained while transiting through Europe. v China agreed to issue visas to karatekas from Arunachal Pradesh, who will represent India in the 11th Asian Karatedo Championship. v India and China reached an in principle agreement for setting up working mechanism for consultations and coordination on border affairs to maintain peace along the boundaries of the two countries. v India and Sri Lanka signed an agreement in Colombo according to which India is to help Sri Lanka in upgrading its vocational training centres in the Nuwara-Eliya district. v IRCON and Sri Lanka railways signed an agreement for supply and installation of the signaling and telecommunication system for railway network in Northern Province of Sri Lanka. v India asked Sri Lanka to probe allegation of human rights


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : violations during the war against LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam). v The Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) between India and the USA was signed.BASA will facilitate reciprocal airworthiness certification of civil aeronautical products imported/exported between the two signatory authorities. v India finally got a foothold in the ongoing rush for hydrocarbons in Central Asia with the signing of a clutch of agreements during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s maiden visit to Kazakhstan. v With most initiatives having been time consuming so far, India and Kazakhstan agreed on a three-year Joint Action Plan. It details specific milestones in hydrocarbons, civilian nuclear energy, space, IT & cyber security, high-tech and innovative technology, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, agriculture and cultural exchanges. v Talks for putting together the TAPI “peace pipeline” remained deadlocked as representatives of the four nations — Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India — could not reach an agreement on the issues of gas price and transit fee. v The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has announced additional quota of 10000 seats for the Haj Season 2011 for use by India. v The Government of India signed an Agreement for Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital (DTAA) with Government of Georgia. v Chairman of University Grants Commission Ved Prakash and Director of British Council Rob Lynesformally signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support all activities and programmes agreed under Phase Two of the UKIERI programme relating to the University sector across the four strands. v Top police officers from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries discussed terrorism and drug traffic-related problems in the region, among other policing issues, at a twoday conference in Colombo. v A six-foot high, life-size portrait of Mughal emperor Jahangir, billed as one of the rarest and most desirable 17th century paintings ever to go under the hammer, sold for a whopping £ 1.42 million (‘ 10 crore) at an auction in London. v India took another step towards quality parity with international standards in the realm of nonclinical chemicals manufacturing when it joined the system for the Mutual Acceptance of Data (MAD) in the Assessment of Chemicals, a multilateral agreement supported by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). v With a gloomy economic scenario in the United States and the European Union, India should take lead and provide a new meaning to the BIMSTEC engagement that has potential of generating trade worth 43 to 59 billion dollars under a proposed free trade agreement (FTA), apex chamber ASSOCHAM . v The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) released the Humanitarian Action for Children Report, 2011, requesting $1.4 billion in its appeal to donors to assist children and women caught in the throes of crises. v India imposed a 3 month complete ban on all food imports from Japan, citing fears over radioactive contamination from the latter ’s nuclear disaster. v Indian foreign secretary Nirupama Rao visited Japan. During her visit, India and Japan agreed to establish an India-Japan-United States trilateral dialogue on regional and global issues of shared interest. v India and Japan signed an agreement for six development projects. As soft loan, Japan promised to provide 7361 crore rupees under this agreement. The agreement was meant to support India’s quest for energy and its efforts to improve infrastructure necessary for rapid growth in economy. v The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) released the Humanitarian Action for Children Report, 2011, requesting $1.4 billion in its appeal to donors to assist children and women caught in the throes of crises.


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : v India-Japan CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) enters into force. This is India’s 3rd Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (after Singapore and South Korea) and India’s first with a developed country. v India and Uzbekistan signed a total of 34 agreements during the visit of Islam Abduganievich Karimov (President of Uzbekistan) to India. v India and Uzbekistan signed an action plan on tourism cooperation in New Delhi in the presence of the First Deputy Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Rustom Azimov and Union Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai. v India signed two MoUs (Memorandum of Understandings) with Ethiopia to avoid double taxation and promote development of small industries. v India offered expertise and latest technology in sugar industry to Ethiopia. National Sugar Institute will host students and technicians from Ethiopia to make them familiar with latest technology in sugar industry and will also send experts to provide training on the spot in Ethiopia. v India and Senegal discussed possibilities of cooperation in Fertiliser Sector. v Germany announced easing of export control laws for India. The new laws allow India, accessing dual use items, marking a major development that is beneficial in the expansion of the nuclear energy sector. v India extended duty-free market access to Afghanistan as part of its economic package for LDCs (Least Developed Countries). Under this scheme, the import of most products from the neighbouring nation will be allowed at zero duty. v India signed a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with the Republic of Colombia for the avoidance of double taxation and for the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income. v The Foreign minister of Philippines, Albert del Rosario visited India to participate in the inaugural meeting of the Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation. v Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao lead India’s bid for full membership in the four international export control regimes — the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Group. v Withstanding last-minute U.S. pressure, India abstained from voting on a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution approving “all necessary measures,” including imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya. v Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), India signed a memorandum of understanding with Rosatom Nuclear Energy State Corporation, of Russia, for cooperation in the activities to be pursued at the Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership (GCNEP) being set up by the DAE in Haryana. v India and Russia have signed a pact to boost investment and trade in textile industries in both the countries. v During the meeting of the Home Secretaries of India and Pakistan, it was decided to revive the eight-member IndoPak Joint Judicial Committee (JJC).JJC includes retired Supreme Court and High Court judges of both India and Pakistan. v India ranks 9th on Innovation Efficiency Index and 62 on Global Innovation Index among 125 countries v The Second Africa-India Forum Summit is held in Ethiopia . The first India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi in 2008 opened a new chapter in the history of India-Africa partnership and laid the framework for India’s revitalised engagement with the African continent. v At the inaugural address of the “India Show : Africa & India : Partners in Progress- Friends Forever,” , it was sid that economic partnership between India & Africa has taken giant leap forward since the 1st India Africa Forum Summit in 2008, with bilateral trade between India and Africa which was at a meager $3 billion at the turn of the century, crossing the $46 billion mark last year. v “India has become one of the leading investors in African countries, with Indian


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : investments in Africa in Joint Ventures and wholly owned subsidiaries touching US $ 33 billion mark, covering diverse sectors like Oil & Gas, P h a r m a c e u t i c a l s , Petrochemicals, IT, Fertilizers, Infrastructure, etc”. v India and Bangladesh signed a historic protocol on land boundary agreement following the talks between Prime Minister Mahmohan Singh and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka on 6 September 2011. v India and China held their first Strategic Economic Dialogue in Beijing on 26 September 2011. v Minister of Power Shri Sushilkumar Shinde visited United States of America to take part in the 8th India Investment Forum in New York. v International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy & New Materials (ARCI) Hyderabad of India and the Fraunhofer Society of Germany has signed a path breaking cooperative R&D agreement in the field of automotive technologies. v India and South Africa agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the MSME (micro, small and medium enterprise) sector. v India and Myanmar on 27 September 2011 agreed to set a 3 billion US dollars as trade target. The trade target will be achieved by 2015. v India and Israel have decided to enhance cooperation in Tourism Sector. v The Government of the Republic of India signed a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with the Oriental Republic of Uruguay for the avoidance of double taxation and for the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and on capital on 8th September, 2011. v Government of India and Canada agreed that residual issues with regard to Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA) and Bilateral Social Security Agreement (SSA) between the two countries have been resolved and both agreements could now be signed at an opportune time. v India and Zimbabwe agreed to expedite the ratification of BIPA ( Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement) between India and Zimbabwe for further strengthening the investment and trade ties between the two countries. v India and Turkey agreed for future cooperation in coal related areas. v India and Bhutan signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a period of five years to facilitate exchange of knowledge and experience, information, material, expertise and technical knowhow, training of personnel and development of human resources in electoral matters and also for taking up joint initiatives and providing assistance to others. v The government-run Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) setup its first overseas campus in Kampala, Uganda to assist students of African nations understand the nuances of globalisation and capacitybuilding in the continent. v India signed DTAA (Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement) with Estonia on 19 September 2011 and forged a pact to work with it in the field of information, communications and technology (ICT). v The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) ON 10 January 2012 notified the rules allowing 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in single-brand retail. Currently 51% FDI is permitted in this segment of retailing which was opened to foreign players almost six years ago. v The Finance Ministry announced on 10 January 2012 that rating agency Moody’s Investor Services upgrade the short-term country ceiling on foreign currency bank deposit increasing from NP (not prime) to Prime (P-3). v Foreign direct investment (FDI) into India went up by 56% to $2.53 billion in November 2011, indicating an improvement in investor sentiment. In September and October 2011, the inflows were down by 16.5% and 50% year-on-year respectively. v As per the Forward Markets Commission data released on 9 January 2012 that the turnover of the 21 commodity exchanges in India increased by 66% to Rs 137.22 lakh crore. v The Reserve Bank of India on 3


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : January 2011 decided to conduct an open market operation (OMO) to inject more liquidity into the system. v The HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index ( PMI) - a headline index designed to measure the overall performance of the manufacturing sector registered 54.2 in December, up from 51.0 in November. v The Reserve Bank of India panel suggested focussed lending to small farmers and microenterprises who are excluded from formal financial channels. v The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of shipping costs for dry bulk goods plunged to its lowest level after it touched 647 points on 3 February 2012. v The apex decision-making body of the communications ministry, the Telecom Commission decided to allow mobile phone companies to share spectrum. The Commission has however limited this facility to 2G airwaves alone. v The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has introduced a Negotiable Warehouse Receipt (NWR) system to help farmers avoid distress sale of their produces. v Sesa Goa Limited, a majorityowned subsidiary of Vedanta Resources acquired Goa Energy Private Limited from Videocon Industries Limited in a 101 crore Rupees deal. v Asia Pacific’s leading media technology company, Komli Media acquired South East Asia’s largest digital media network Admax Network . v The mining giant Vedanta merged its Indian subsidiaries, Sterlite Industries into sister concern and iron ore miner Sesa Goa. v Foreign direct investment (FDI) in India went up by 31 per cent to 27.5 billion US Dollars in 2011 despite uncertain global economic slowdown and uncertainities. v The Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Panel (PMEAC) projected 7.5 - 8 per cent growth rate for the fiscal 2012-13. v The Reserve Bank of India on 9 March 2012 cut the cash reserve ratio (CRR) by 75 basis points. The CRR was cut to 4.75 per cent of their net demand and time liabilities (NDTL) effective the fortnight beginning 10 March 2012. v As per the first nationwide retail inflation data released by the Centre of Statistical Office on 21 February 2012, inflation based on the all India Consumer Price Index stood at 7.65 per cent in January 2012. v As per the data released by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation on 12 March 2012, Indian industrial sector registered a growth of 6.8 per cent in January 2012 on a year-on-year basis. v The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) changed the bank rate, a medium-term signal rate after nine years. The bank rate, a benchmark rate at which RBI buys or re-discounts bills of exchange or other commercial papers eligible for purchase, was hiked with immediate effect to 9.5% from 6%. v The New Telecom Policy allow sharing of bandwidth and eased rules for mergers and acquisitions (M&As) in the telecom sector. The maximum airwaves that companies can hold, also known as the prescribed limit, was enhanced to 8 MHz in all regions except Delhi and Mumbai, where the cap is at 10 MHz v The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued the ‘Draft Circular for Deployment of White Label Automated Teller Machines (WL ATMs) from non-bank entities. v The number of foreigners availing Visa on Arrival (VoA) scheme registered 72 per cent increase in January 2012 as against January 2011. v A government-appointed advisory group on asset reconstruction firms that submitted its report to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee favoured $20 billion limit for investments by foreign institutional investors in security receipts (SRs) issued by securitisation firms. v The apex decision-making body of the communications ministry cleared the proposal to enable the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to act like a civil court. v India generated 811 billion units of electricity in 2010-11 fiscal, According to the data released by Central Elect-ricity Authority, marginally lower than the set target.


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : v The commerce ministry introduced stricter norms for export benefit scheme in the wake of detection of several cases of misuse of incentives. v Government panel headed by former finance secretary, Ashok Chawla was set up to recommend rules for pricing of all natural resources has declared that all future allocations of airwaves must be done through auctions. v A committee headed by former finance secretary Ashok Chawla on allocation of natural resources, opposed oil ministry’s plan to subsidise costlier imported LNG by making users of domestic natural gas pay more. v India slipped one step to become the fourth largest steel producer in the world in 2010 with 68.3 million tonnes (MT) production, according to World Steel Association (WSA). v The Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO) raised prices of di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) and complexes for the second time in the month of April 2011. v CII demanded introduction of financial support through legislation for preventing corrosion of machines, pipelines and industrial structures. v The India-Malaysia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) will be effective from 1 July 2011. v The Sri Lankan Central Bank Monetary Board on 27 June 2011 announced that Chinese Renminbiwould be included in the list of designated currencies permitted for international transactions through banks in Sri Lanka. v Christine Madeleine Odette Lagarde was the first woman ever to become minister of Economic Affairs of a G8 economy, and is the first woman to ever head the IMF. v Maharatna Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) received the prestigious Golden Peacock Environment Management Award for the year 2011. v International credit rating agency DBRS in June 2011 upgraded India’s long term foreign and local currency debt outlook from negative to stable. v The Reserve Bank of India on 5 July 2011 extended the 10 per cent ceiling of bank investment in liquid schemes of mutual funds to include short-term debt funds. v The committee set up to review the role and structure of Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB) recommended that the CEIB maintain a national database of economic offences investigated by various agencies at the Centre and in states. v The Reserve Bank of India on 4 July 2011 allowed refinancing of redemption of foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCBs) by allowing firms to raise fresh overseas borrowing under the automatic route. v The World Investment Report 2011 was released by UNCTAD. According to the report, India’s position among the top 20 FDI recipients fell to 14th position, from 8th in 2009 at a time when other countries in Asia were setting new records in foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows. v The Central Board of Trustees (CBT) of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) approved the appointment of Standard Chartered Bank as the custodian of securities of the EPFO. v The Union government announced restoration of the popular duty entitlement pass book (DEPB) scheme for export of cotton with retrospective effect from 1 April 2011 and on cotton yarn from 1 October 2010. v The Revenue Department announced it’s decision to impose anti-dumping duty of up to USD 1.41 per kg on imports of a gas, used primarily for refrigeration purpose with an objective to protect domestic players from cheap Chinese and Japanese shipments. v The oil ministry blocked Cairn India’s plans to begin oil production from the Bhagyam oilfield which is the second biggest find in the Rajasthan block. v The Central Department of Telecommunications (DoT) approved 30000-crore National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) for broadband connectivity to 2500 Panchayats in India. v The report on Customer Service in Banks by a committee chaired by M. Damodaran, former Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) was released on 3 July 2011.


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : v Tuning the policy norms further to attract declining foreign investment, in a significant development, the Centre announced allowing 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in the agriculture sector, including seeds, plantation, horti-culture and cultivation of vegetables. v The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) issued important recommendations related to manufacturing, infrastru-cture and green telecom to promote structured growth of the sector. v Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited was conferred the Mini Ratna Category-I status by President PratibhaPatil. v Braving the slow economic growth and declining demand from the western markets, India’s exports posted an impressive 37.1 per cent rise at $245.9 billion for the fiscal ending 2010-11. v The latest data of the Planning Commission indicates that poverty has declined to 32 per cent in 2009-10 from 37.2 per cent five years ago. v The full Planning Commission meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed to work towards a growth target of 9.0-9.5 per cent for the 12th Plan (2012-17). v Reliance Industries announced “a rich gas and condensate discovery” in the very first well drilled in the block located in deepwater Cauvery-Palar basin. v The Securities and Exchange Board of India may soon frame a stringent set of rules for funds investing in art works, antiques, coins and stamps, with an aim to check black money flow into these products and safeguard the interest of genuine investors. v Telecom Commission, the apex decision-making body of the Department of Telecom in a meeting held permitted imposition of a uniform licence fee of 8.5 per cent on all telecom operators. v According to the figures released by the Commerce Ministry on 1 August 2011 India’s exports rose by 46.45 per cent to $29.21 billion during June 2011. v SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) board decided to make it mandatory for all promoter entities to disclose any considerable purchase or sale of shares by them. v A total of 5.49 crore households was provided employment under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, MGNREGS, during 2010-2011 as against 5.26 crore households the previous year, thus marking an increase in the number of persons given jobs in rural areas under the scheme. v A study titled “Being five star in productivity: road map for excellence in Indian banking” was released FICCI-IBA-BCG, the eve of IBA-FICCI annual banking conference. The theme for the banking conference was decided to be Productivity Excellence. India’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth will make the Indian banking industry third largest in the world by 2025,According to the study. v According to a report from CRISIL Research, an independent research house, India needs at least 55 million additional jobs by 2015 to maintain the current ratio of employed people to total population at 39 per cent. v Gold prices breached the 28000level for the first time ever in history. Gold set an all-time record of 28230 rupees per 10 grams in India on 20 August 2011. v The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved SAIL’s proposal for revival of the Sindri unit of Fertiliser Corporation of India at an investment of nearly 35000 crore. v The country’s largest lender SBI has seen its NPAs grow to 3.52% in the last quarter against 3.14% on a quarter-on-quarter basis. v A high-powered committee of the steel ministry headed by additional secretary S Machendranathan suggested that the state-run mineral giant NMDC should fix its iron ore prices on a quarterly basis for its domestic buyers. v The food ministry prepared a new food security bill, reworking an earlier version. In August 2010 the UPA government had dismissed the previous draft of the Food Bill after it was found wanting by the Congress leadership. v Committee on Small Savings headed by RBI Deputy


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : Governor Shyamala Gopinath on 7 June 2011 suggested raising interest rates on Post Office savings bank deposits to 4 per cent. v A committee on natural resources allocation on 6 June 2011 called for the creation of a national coal market to ensure greater transparency in the allocation of the dry fuel and reduce the demand-supply mismatch. v The cess slapped on coal in last year’s budget will help pay for schemes to protect and regenerate forests and clean up polluted sites announced in this year’s Budget. v India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are committed to achieving a trade target of $70 billion by 2012, up 40 per cent from $50 billion in 2010, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said at the first India-ASEAN business fair and conclave being held in New Delhi by the Commerce Ministry and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). v Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said banks had been asked to waive collateral security when they lend to borrowers from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes communities. v Goldman Sachs Asset Management announced that it has agreed to acquire Benchmark Asset Management Company, an asset management company in India. v As per the new guidelines issued by the Department of Public Enterprises, a company qualifying for the Maharatna status should have an average annual turnover of 20,000crore in the last three years, as against 25,000 crore prescribed earlier. v The Central Government constituted the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) under the chairmanship of former Justice B. N. Srikrishna to rewrite and harmonise financial sector legislations, rules and regulations. v Even as Asia continued to be the favourite destination for investors parking money in clean energy projects rising sharply by 33 per cent, India continued its rise as top destination ranking 10th among the G-20 countries and China emerging on the top. v Ambuja Cements, a Holcim Group company declared on 6 June 2011 that it acquired 85 per cent stake in Dang Cement Industries in Nepal for a consideration of 19.13 crore. v Industry body FICCI proposed setting up of National Knowledge Functional Hub (NKFH). FCCI proposed the setting up of this body to engage higher educational institutions with the industry in order to produce quality engineering graduates and meet increasing requirement of skilled hands in the market. v The information and broadcasting ministry endorsed/okayed the recommendation by TRAI to enhance foreign direct investment (FDI) ceiling for direct to home TV, Internet protocol TV and teleport from 49% to 74%. v BHEL’s board approved on 23 May 2011 the proposal to divest 5 per cent stake in the power equipment major. The decision is likely to fetch over $1 billion (about 4,500 crore) for the government. v State-run power equipment maker Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) announced the successful manufacturing and testing of India’s first turbo generator of 600 MW rating. v NMCC was set up by the government as an interdisciplinary body at the highest level to serve as a policy forum for credible and coherent policy initiatives in the manufacturing sector. v The Supreme Court of India allowed the export of more than one million tons of controversial insecticide Endosulfan on 30 September 2011, subject to strict monitoring and supervision by the Customs and Environment Ministry officials. v The total approximate eranings of Indian Railways on originating basis during the period from 11th to 20th September 2011 were Rs. 2495.07 crore compared to Rs. 2299.20 crore during the same period last year, registering an increase of 8.52 per cent. v India post signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with National Stock Exchange (NSE) for deploying LCD TV screens


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : in selected post offices across the country. v The Government constituted a High Level Committee (HLC) in 2006, which suggested for evolving a mining code adapted to the best international practices, streamlining and simplifying procedures for grant of mineral concessions to reduce delays, etc. v The agro advisory services continue to serve 50 Agro Advisory Services units against the largest of 600 during the month of last July. v The Union government increased the foreign direct investment limit for FM radio from 20 per cent to 26 per cent on 30 September 2011. v The Government has decided to lift the ban on the export of onions.Onions can now be exported subject to a Minimum Export Price (MEP) of US$ 475 per tonne. v The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) directed banks to implement various safety measures related to credit card and debit card usage over a period of next two years in order to eliminate cases of fraud and ensure security of transactions on 22 September 2011. v The Union government extended the terms of reference of the Nilekani task force on direct transfer of subsidies on 20 September 2011. v The Union Government decided to allow corporates to raise External Commercial Borrowings (ECBs) in yuan (Renminbi) equivalent to $1 billion to help companies who are trading with China on 15 September 2011. v India Post has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with M/s VFS Global to provide visa related services for different countries through Post Offices. v According to a report Hype cycle for green IT and sustainability in India, 2011 by leading IT research and advisory company Gartner, India’s spending on green IT and sustainability initiatives will double from $35 billion in 2010 to $70 billion in 2015. v Even as exports continued to maintain a robust growth, registering a 36.3 per cent growth at $24.80 billion in September despite downturn in the U.S. and eurozone, signs of deceleration have already started to set in. v The gross direct tax collection jumped 20.28 per cent during the April-October period of 2011-12 to Rs 284081 crore due to an increase in corporate tax mop-up, according to the Finance Ministry’s statement v Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Videsh Ltd. (OVL), the overseas arm of ONGC, inked an agreement with Vietnam’s national oil company PetroVietnam to jointly explore for oil and gas in South China sea in Vietnam, India and third countries. v The government allowed 100 per cent FDI in beekeeping, also known as ‘apiculture’, to attract foreign investment in the agriculture sector. v India’s exports grew by over 36 per cent on an annual basis to 24.8 billion dollars in September, 2011, demonstrating impressive year-on-year expansion despite a slowdown in the US and Europe. v Union Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Textiles sanctioned 21 new Textiles Parks under the Scheme for Integrated Textiles Parks with a project cost of 2100 crores rupees to be implemented over a period of 36 months. v Coromandel Fertilisers, part of the Rs.17,000-crore Murugappa Group, has announced plans for setting up a greenfield single super phosphate plant in Punjab with an estimated investment of Rs.116 crore. v The Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) announced introduction of a new Niryat Bandhu scheme for international business mentoring for young turks in international business enterprises. v India decided to continue with 100 percent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for new ventures in the pharmaceutical sector. v The credit rating of the State Bank of India was downgraded by the Global ratings firm Moody’s. The ratings agency took SBI’s grading to D+ from C-. v The Union Cabinet of India approved the introduction of the Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2011 in the winter session of Parliament.


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : v Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal unveiled the draft National Policy on Electronics, 2011, aimed at achieving a turnover of $400 billion for the sector by 2020, which involved investment of about $100 billion, besides creating employment for 2.8 crore people. v Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Power said it would earn Rs. 2,000 crore by trading carbon credits from its Tilaiya ultra mega power project (UMPP) in Jharkhand in the first ten years of its operations. v Cairn Lanka has stuck gas in the first well in the Mannar basin in Sri Lanka. The company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cairn India, has notified the Sri Lankan government of a gas discovery in the Mannar basin. v The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 2 December 2011 approved the creation of a separate category of non-banking financial companies for the microfinance institution (MFI) sector. v State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) on 1 December 2011 announced two significant oil discoveries. ONGC discovered oil in North Kadi area of Gujarat’s Mehsana district v The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved a proposal for additional funds under the interest subsidy scheme to the tune of over 2000 crore rupees. v According to the study titled Indian Digital Consumer Industry by financial services firm Avendus, the number of people transacting online is expected to touch 39 million by 2015. v The Finance Ministry on 17 November 2011 increased the investment limit for foreign institutional investors (FII) in government securities (G-secs) and corporate bonds by $5 billion each. v The Union Cabinet on 16 November 2011 agreed to partially allow foreign direct investment (FDI) to enter the pension sector to the extent of 26 per cent, as is now available in the area of insurance. v The insurance regulator, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), on 9 November 2011 relaxed its earlier decision asking insurance companies to guarantee a minimum return of 4.5 per cent on unit-linked pension policies. v Insurance regulator IRDA on 4 January 2012 introduced uniform asset-liability management norms for market players to ensure their solvency. v The Finace Ministry on 4 January 2012 clarified that the rates applicable on small savings instruments schemes would be announced on April 1 each year and the rate would remain valid till the maturity of the scheme. v The Union government on 3 January 2012 approved Reliance Industries’ (RIL) $1.529 billion investment plan for developing four satellite fields in the flagging KG-D6 block. v The Union government raised the ad valorem duty (export duty) on iron ore exports to 30 per cent from 20 per cent. v The Union government quadrupled (four times) the limits on loans that a bank’s internal committee can approve. The giovernment’s move is expected to quicken credit clearance at 26 state-run banks, including the Bank of Baroda and Punjab National Bank. v Telecom Commission, the decision-making body of the Department of Telecommunications recommended a uniform licence fee of 8 per cent of adjusted gross revenues (AGR). v According to the Tea Board data released in December 2011, tea imports declined by 14 per cent to 9.91 million kg in the AprilOctober period of 2011. v The first pan-India satellite survey jointly commissioned by Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) and the National Federation of Co-operative Sugar Factories Ltd (NFCSF) pegged the cane area for 201112 crop year starting October at 51.82 lakh hectares (lh). v Credit rating agency Moody’s on 21 December 2011 upgraded the credit rating of the Indian government’s bonds from the speculative to investment grade. According to a release issued by the Finance Ministry, Moody’s unified India’s local and foreign currency bond ratings at Baa3. v Fears of continuing economic slowdown, lack of decision making at the centre, rising fiscal deficit combined with notso-impressive revenue


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : collections upset Dalal Street investors on 20 December 2011 leading to a 204 points loss in sensex to end at 15175. v According to the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) Quarter 3 2011 Mobile Phone Tracker release, the Indian mobile phone market grew 12% in units shipped in the JulySeptember quarter of 2011 to clock 47.07 million units. v The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs( CCEA) on 13 December 2011 approved national electricity fund to provide subsidy of 8466 crore rupees for projects of electricity distribution sector for a period of 14 years. v India’s largest private lender by assets, ICICI Bank and IDBI Bank, the seventh largest public sector bank in India together launched India’s first credit default swap (CDS) on 7 December 2011. v With the inauguration of the first state-of-the-art ATDCSMART (Skill for Manufacturing Apparels through Research and Training) in Egmore, Chennai, the Integrated Skill Development Scheme (ISDC) for the textile and apparel sector was launched by the Ministry of Textiles. v The Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT) on 5 December 2011 transferred indigenously-developed Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) technology to seven telecom equipment manufacturers, including private players. v As per data published by the market regulator SEBI on 27 January 2012, net FII buying crossed the $2-billion mark in January 2012 making January the best month in terms of foreign fund flows since November 2010. FIIs had recorded a net outflow of $358 million in 2011. v As per data published by the market regulator SEBI on 27 January 2012, net FII buying crossed the $2-billion mark in January 2012 making January the best month in terms of foreign fund flows since November 2010. FIIs had recorded a net outflow of $358 million in 2011. v The poor performance of National Pension System, or NPS led the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) to change the incentive structure for the distributors from a fixed sum to a percentage of the investment amount. v The pension regulator on the basis of the recommendation of the G.N. Bajpai committee constituted by PFRDA to review NPS, fixed the incentive at 0.25% of the subscription amount. v The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 24 January 2012 cut the cash reserve ratio (CRR) by 50 basis points from 6 per cent to 5.5 per cent with effect from 28 January 2012. v The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 24 January 2012 cut the cash reserve ratio (CRR) by 50 basis points from 6 per cent to 5.5 per cent with effect from 28 January 2012. v The Reserve Bank of India in January 2012 allowed banks to grant permission to listed and unlisted companies to hedge price risk in commodities other than precious metals in international exchanges. v The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on 16 January 2012 proposed a fee of Rs.20 crore for a national-level unified licence under the new regime, which suggests that there will be only four types of licence in future as against many currently available across the communication sector. v The Union government nearly doubled the import duty on gold and silver by changing the customs and excise duty structure on precious metals. The measure was adopted by the government to arrest the widening current account deficit. v As per the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) data, industrial production bounced back with a growth of 5.9 per cent in November 2011, marking a fivemonth high in a reversal from the negative trend witnessed in October 2011. v The Prime Minister ’s Office on 11 January 2012 directed cashrich public sector undertakings (PSUs) to invest around Rs.1.76 lakh crore, including Rs.1.41 lakh crore domestically to act as a stimulus in the next fiscal (2012-13). v India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle- C16 placed on a 822-km sunsynchronous orbit three satellites – ResourceSat – 2, an Indo-Russian YouthSat and


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : mini satellite X Sat from Nangyang Technological University of Singapore. v A Japanese supercomputer, K Computer built by Fujitsu Co. grabbed the title of world’s bestperforming machine thereby returning Japan to the top of the computer arms race for the first time in seven years. v International scientists claimed that they have found evidence that a medicinal mushroom used in Asia can completely suppress prostate tumours by targeting cancer stem cells. v According to NASA sceintists, in the first week of May 2011, a giant asteroid named YU55 is heading close to the earth. If it hits the earth, it would have an impact equivalent to 65000 atom bombs. v Scientists developed a new vaccine named Bapineuzumab jab, which is effective against the Alzheimer ’s disease not only in stopping but also reversing the damage caused to the brain due to the disease. v The US military successfully conducted its most challenging test of a ballistic missile defense system. It will deploy in Europe to counter an Iran missile threat. v NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) launched Space Shuttle, Endeavour from the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida for its final mission. v Scientists at the University of Warwick in England discovered a new form of ultra-bad cholesterol called MGmin-LDL, that increases the risk of heart disease. v A rapid molecular test kit has been iAccording to a new study done at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York in the last week of April 2011, a controlled diet low in carbohydrate and high in fat can help repair kidney damage in diabetics. nvented to detect both TB and multi-drug resistant TB in just 90 minutes. v Indian Space Research Organisation has built a supercomputer, which is to be India’s fastest supercomputer in terms of theoretical peak performance of 220 Tera FLOPS (220 Trillion Floating Point Operations per second) .named “SAGA-2203. v US scientists from the University of California developed a gas that can get rid of mosquitoes. v Scientists have discovered an important enzyme molecule that may prevent fatal cardiac disorders associated with cardiac hypertrophy – the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes. v A team of Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology created the world’s first practical artificial leaf that can turn sunlight and water into energy. v A University of Southampton scientist is participating in a new £6.11 million transatlantic research project to improve the process of photosynthesis. v DNA polymorphism provides new insights into the origin and history of human populations, Lalji Singh, Bhatnagar Fellow in CSIR and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, has said. v It looks like the rocket carrying an Earth-observation satellite was in the Pacific Ocean after a failed launch attempt, said NASA. v The Strategic Forces Command (SFC), which handles India’s missiles with nuclear warheads, fired the Dhanush and the Prithvi-II missiles within a gap of an hour, establishing the readiness of the country’s nuclear deterrence systems. v Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry banned the manufacture, sale and distribution of Gatifloxacin and Tegaserod as they caused certain adverse side effects. v Huge deposits of natural uranium, which promise to be one of the top 20 of the world’s reserves, have been found in the Tummalapalle belt in the southern part of the Kadapa basin in Andhra Pradesh. v Perhaps for the first time in the country, researchers of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment have initiated a project to monitor the presence of frogs and toads in the evergreen forests of the Western Ghats to preserve these endangered species serving as indicators of climate change. v Acheulian stone tools, dating back to about 1.51 million years ago, have been discovered at Attirampakkam in the Kortallayar River Basin, about 60 km northwest of Chennai. v Annually changing flu vaccines with their hit-and-miss effectiveness may soon give


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : way to a single, near-universal flu vaccine, according to a new report from scientists at The Scripps Research Institute and the Dutch biopharmaceutical company Crucell. v Scientists from Northern Ireland’s Queen’s Univeristy Belfast developed a new test called spermocomet for male infertility which will save time, money and heartache for couples around the world. v A new technique which targets antibiotic-resistant bacteria and shields patients from the toxic parts of an antibiotic drug has been developed by Cardiff University scientists. v French Scientists developed a two-minute cure for glaucoma that uses intensely focused beams of ultrasound. v A research team led by Queen’s University developed the first ever drug to treat Celtic gene in patients suffering from cystic fibrosis (CF). v The Scientists on 5 June 2011 discovered a werewolf gene which causes hair to grow all over the body. The discovery could provide a remedy for baldness. v A breakthrough in genetic research uncovered the defect behind a rare heredi-tary children’s disease that inhibits the body’s ability to break down vitamin D. v A team of astronomers from the Australian National University (ANU) on 6 June 2011 discovered that a planet named WASP-17b moves in the opposite direction to the spin of the star around which it orbits. v International scientists claimed on 24 May 2011 that they have found evidence that a medicinal mushroom used in Asia can completely suppress prostate tumours by targeting cancer stem cells. v The health-researchers found that a drug named exemestane not only prevents breast cancer but also has no side effects. v An engineer from the University of Missouri developed a flexible solar sheet that captures more than 90 percent of available light. v Scientists have tweaked chicken DNA to create embryos that grow alligator-like snouts instead of beaks, a process they say has enabled them to rewind 65 million years of evolutionary history. v Scientists found components of DNA in meteorites which confirms the theory that some of the materials required to make early life forms came to Earth from space. v Limited technical trials with some major and minor improvements on Main Battle Tank (MBT) Arjun Mark-I, as part of MBT Arjun Mark-II, have been carried out by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in the deserts of Rajasthan. v Animals across the world are fleeing global warming by heading north much faster than they were less than a decade ago, a new study says. About 2,000 species examined are moving away from the equator at an average rate of more than 15 feet per day, about a mile per year. v Astronomers discovered that the planet named TrES-2b was darker than any planet or moon in our solar system. v British scientists developed an implanted sleeve which can cure diabetes. The implanted sleeve looks like a giant sausage skin. v US scientists found an antibody called CH65 that acts against 30 of 36 strains of influenza, according to a study published on 8 August 2011. v The study, funded by Cancer Research UK and the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, is looking at a drug called 6mercaptopurine, or 6MP. v Scientists at the University of Columbia in New York developed a portable blood test device which can diagnose an infection within minutes. v The secret to creating artificial skin might be spider silk, researchers now suggest. Skin grafts are vital for treating burn victims and other patients. v The research offers several new targets for developing future drugs to boost the success rate of the tumour-shrinking drug paclitaxel (Taxol). v A 500 Mwe prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) is an advanced technology reactor designed and built indigenously. The plant is expected to be commissioned in 2012. v India’s first-ever permanent exhibition on nuclear power , called ‘Hall of Nuclear Power’


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : has been dedicated to the nation at Nehru Science Centre in Worli, Mumbai. v The Earth’s oldest fossils have been found in Australia by a team from the University of Western Australia and Oxford University. The microscopic fossils show convincing evidence for cells and bacteria living in an oxygen-free world over 3.4 billion years ago. v The actinides contained in the spent nuclear fuel are potentially a valuable resource. There are major and minor Actinides present in the nuclear fuel. v New observations from the infrared Herschel Space Observatory reveal that an exploding star expelled the equivalent of between 160,000 and 230,000 Earth masses of fresh dust. v The Navy has started preparations to take charge of aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (Admiral Gorshkov) from Russia, with the first batch of officers and sailors having commenced training there ahead of its induction next year. v Nagpur will be promoted as the tiger capital and a gateway to tiger land. v The Stockholm Convention meet in Geneva to discuss, among other things, a global ban on the pesticide endosulfan. v Doctors in Spain performed the world’s first double-leg transplant, giving two new legs to a man whose legs were severed in an accident. v The Human Development Index (HDI) is directly dependent on two main parameters: Per Capita Electricity Consumption and Female Literacy. v A team of Scientists led by Paul Hartogh of Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research recently solved a 14-year mystery by discovering the source of the water in Saturn’s upper atmosphere. v Egg sized Robots developed by the scientists, can directly monitor nuclear reactors and pinpoint corrosion. v Scientists found a genetic change which makes men less fertile. The genetic change was found in a gene called DEFB126. This gene codes for a protein that clings to sperm, helping them swim through a woman’s body to fertilize the egg. v Short-range surface-to-surface missile developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation, Prahar was successfully test-fired on 21 July 2011 from the Integrated Test Range in Balasore. v Deep beneath the Antarctica ice sheets are at least 145 lakes that are teeming with micro scopicorganisms. The ice sheets are up to 4km thick. v A 12-month analysis reveals that currently available commercial blood tests for diagnosing active TB often lead to misdiagnosis, mistreatment and potential harm to public health. v It was “sweet seventeen” for the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), with the PSLVC16 scoring a spectacular success by putting three satellites into orbit with precision. v The Conference of Parties to the Stockholm Convention in Geneva approved the recommendation for elimination of production and use of Endosulfan and its isomers worldwide, subject to certain exemptions. v A new laser developed by the researchers at Michigan State University, which can accurately detects roadside bombs and helps identify Improvised Explosive Devices(IEDs). v NASA’s Kepler mission made the first unambiguous detection of a circumbinary planet - a planet orbiting two stars - 200 light-years from Earth,on 15 September 2011. v NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) captured rare data of a flaring black hole, revealing new details about these powerful objects and their blazing jets. v NASA’s twin lunar Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on 10 September 2011 to study the moon in unprecedented detail. v A team of Scientists from Rutgers University in Brazil discovered a tiny plant which they say bows down and sows its own seeds. v Scientists discovered fossilised remains of a large predatory fish with a fearsome mouth which prowled North American


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : waterways some 375 million years ago. v Scientists discovered genetic factors that make frog immune to the fungal disease chytridiomycosis. v A composite herbal formulation named ‘Perfomax’ launched, that has been developed by DRDO and has been found to improve physical and mental performance in High Altitude and Hypoxic Conditions at a function held in Leh, Ladakh. v A virus found in the sea off Chile is the biggest in the world, harbouring more than 1,000 genes, surprised scientists . The genome of Megavirus chilensis is 6.5 percent bigger than the DNA code of the previous virus record-holder, Mimivirus, isolated in 2003. v A mysterious little dwarf planet was discovered by the Astronomers, which is believed to be covered in ice. The planet was nicknamed Snow White. v The launch of Agni-II was a big success, with the missile traversing 2000 km across the sky in nine minutes of flawless mission. v A half-km wide asteroid which streaks past the Earth next week could provide clues about how the planet was formed. The space rock, known as “2005 YU55,” has passed earth within 320,000 km on Nov 8. v India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C18) demonstrated its reliability and consistency yet again when it put four satellites in orbit with aplomb.The satellites were: Megha-Tropiques, an IndoFrench mission to study the weather and climate in the tropical regions of the world; SRMSat, built by students of SRM University, near Chennai; Jugnu, put together by Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur students; and VesselSat from Luxembourg. v Vitamin D, a fat soluble vitamin resembles sterols in structure and functions like a hormone. Ergocalciferol and cholecalciferol, both sterols are the precursor substances for the synthesis of vitamin D and are referred to as provitamins. v China launched its unmanned spacecraft, Shenzhou-8. Long March-2F rocket propelled the unmanned spacecraft into orbit in the next step towards China’s ambitious plans for a manned space station by 2020. v Scientists claimed to have reconstructed the genome of the bug that caused the bubonic plague (often referred as black death) in Europe. The bug was discovered to be an ancient strain of a bacterium called Yersinia pestis and not so much different from today’s. v Indian scientists succeeded in decoding the genome of the arhar dal, which is also known as pigeon pea. v Australian Scientists created the world’s first drug which can prevent blindness from cataracts. Cataracts are formed when a protein, known as calpain, clouds the eye lens and impairs vision. v A team of British scientists and engineers planned to drill three kilometers through the ice in Antarctica to explore signs of life in a lake called Ellsworth, which is buried under the glacial surface. v Caloric restriction slows down aging by preventing an enzyme, peroxiredoxin, from being inactivated. v The world’s most efficient organic light-emitting diodes on plastic have been developed, enabling a flexible form factor and a cheaper alternative to traditional OLEDs which currently rely on glass. v Under the influence of sufficiently high electric fields, liquid droplets of certain materials will undergo solidification, simulations show. v Graphene, the world’s thinnest and toughest material, could spur the development of next generation computer chips, besides revolutionising materials science. v The Baltic Sea emits more carbon dioxide than it can bind. Local variations have increased the exposure of the Bay of Bothnia. v Researchers have revealed for the first time the existence of a new signature of the birth of the first stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way. v Though long-term calculations are subject to uncertainties, the sea will continue to rise in the coming centuries and it will most likely rise by 75 cm by the year 2100. By 2500 the sea will have risen by 2 metres. v India’s most advanced longrange missile, Agni-IV was test


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : fired successfully on 15 November 2011 from a roadmobile launcher from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheelers Island, off the coast of Orissa. The missile covered a range of more than 3,000 km in 20 minutes of fluent flight. v Russia successfully launched a manned spacecraft on 14 November after its several botched launches in 2011. v Dracula Therapy is the latest technique in medical science, being used to fight ageing with your own blood. v A team of six scientists at the Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP) developed a new technology to convert plastic into petroleum products. v A new study done by the scientists discovered a gene HTR7, which plays a major role in making a person problemdrinker. v An orchid that unfurls its petals at night and loses its flowers by day has been found on an island off the coast of Papua New Guinea. The flowers of the species, Bulbophyllum nocturnum , are thought to be pollinated by midges and last for only one night, according to a description of the plant published in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. v India successfully test-fired its nuclear capable Agni-I strategic ballistic missile on 1 December 2011 from the test range at Wheeler Island off Odisha coast, as part of the Indian Army’s user trial. v A team of the Scientists at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich identified the gene, called ABCC9 that can reduce the length of time people sleep. v Research has found a novel route to fighting cancer. The antibiotic tigecycline targets and destroys leukaemia stem cells by cutting off the cell’s energy production. v A new model based on satellite remote sensing data allows the potential presence of bluefin tuna to be tracked through daily updated maps, thus helping to protect endangered stocks and fight illegal fishing. v The journal Science has lauded an eye-opening HIV study, known as HPTN 052, as the most important scientific breakthrough of 2011. v Early results of the clinical trial of a malaria vaccine, known as RTS,S, provided a shot in the arm to malaria vaccine research. v Scientists discovered a way to transform ordinary tissue into beating heart muscle cells. v China on 23 December 2011 launched a high-speed bullet train in Quingdao, Shandong province. Its speed can reach up to 500 kilometre per hour. v NASA’s Kepler mission on 20 December 2011 discovered the first Earth-size planets orbiting a sun-like star outside our solar system. The planets, calledKepler-20e and Kepler-20f, are too close to their star to be in the so-called habitable zone where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface, but they are the smallest exoplanets ever confirmed around a star like our sun. v Scientists claimed that now a simple test could diagnose breast cancer in women in eight seconds. They claim to have developed it from a technology that is used to detect land mines. The new screening tool, called MARIA, is safer and more comfortable than traditional mammogram Xrays. v Scientists developed a hydro gel that regenerated healthy and scar-free tissue on skin damaged by severe burns. The hydro gel helps in formatting of new blood vessels and skin including hair follicles. v An increase in fruit yield might be achieved by manipulating a molecular timer that determines the number of branches that make flowers. v Using computed tomography imaging and advanced manufacturing techniques, a team of experts has created a reproduction of a 1704 Stradivarius violin. v The tree is presently in the field of farmer Mr. K. Narasimhaiah and is nearly 300 years old and the tree bears nearly 300 fruits annually, which the farmer sells for Rs 20,000- Rs.30,000. v New experiments and computations have revealed that iron oxide undergoes a new kind of transition under deepEarth conditions due to high pressures and temperatures (as atoms, electrons are squeezed together). v A study advances our understanding of the sources of exposure to arsenic and the potential for consuming


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : harmful levels of arsenic via rice. Arsenic exposure during pregnancy has health risks to the foetus. v Steroids hitching a ride into the retina on nanoparticles called dendrimers offer a new way to treat age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. The steroids target damage-causing cells. v Under the cold clear waters of Lake Huron, researchers have found a five-and-a-half-footlong, pole-shaped piece of wood that is 8,900 years old. v For the first time, the fossil remains of sauropoda has been recorded in Antarctica. Until now, remains of the herbivorous dinosaurs had been recovered from all other continental landmasses. v Astronomers have discovered the largest black holes to date — two monsters with masses equivalent to 10 billion suns that are threatening to consume anything, even light, within a region five times the size of our solar system. v The recently discovered Comet Lovejoy has been captured in stunning photos and time-lapse video taken from the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. v A 33,000-year-old dog skull unearthed in a Siberian mountain cave presents some of the oldest known evidence of dog domestication. v Researchers have used metalorganic frameworks (MOFs) to capture and remove volatile radioactive gas from spent nuclear fuel. v A one-week NASA airborne radar campaign will help scientists better understand processes occurring under Earth’s surface at Kilauea, Hawaii’s current most active volcano. v Grain crops that produce less carotene can produce more food, especially in Africa, as they are less affected by parasitic plants. Rice plants that produce less carotene than usual are less infected by the Striga parasite. v 200 million years ago fish with jaws capable of feeding on corals emerged, but the real explosion in reef diversity did not occur till about 50 million years ago when fishes like today’s specialist coral feeders emerged. v Tranquillityite — the last mineral thought to have been unique to the Moon has been discovered in the remote Pilbara region of Australia. It is named after the Apollo-11 landing site. v Reduced snowfall in mountains is causing powerful, cascading shifts in mountainous plant and bird communities through the increased ability of elk to stay at high elevations over winter and consume plants. v The UK scientists on 16 January 2012 discovered a new gene in maize plants, called Meg 1. The gene regulates the transfer of nutrients from the plant to the seed. It could increase the crop yields and improve food security. The Scientists from the University of Warwick and Oxford University identified the gene. v Saturn has a ring system. Now a team has discovered a ring system around a sun in the constellation Centaurus similar to Saturn’s. Data from the SuperWASP and All Sky Automated Survey projects was used. v In Himachal Pradesh, more than 1.20 lakh migratory birds from Siberia and Central Asian countries descended on Maharana Pratap Sagar, popularly known as Pong Dam Lake, in Kangra district. Although, 415 species of migratory birds had landed at different places of the Pong Dam over the past 10 years, it is for the first time that ‘salcaded duck’ has arrived in this wetland. v Scientists rediscovered a large grey monkey-the Miller ’s grizzled langur- in the dense jungles of Indonesia. The monkey was believed to be extinct. v Scientists at the US National Institutes of Health claimed that alcohol could be used to treat tremors, a brain disorder that triggers exaggerated shaking and occurs during movement. v The researchers identified a new species of earthworm in Port Blair, the capital of Andaman and Nicobar islands. The species was named Moniligaster ivaniosi, after the name of the college. v UK scientists discovered new crab species on the Southern Ocean floor. The new crab species was named the Hoff because of its hairy chest. The Hoff lives around volcanic vents off South Georgia.


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : v The scientists for the first time grew mouse sperm in a laboratory. For this, they used few germ cells in a laboratory dish. These cells produce semen in testicles. In fact, the scientists grew the sperm by enveloping the germ cells in a special compound called agar jelly to create a similar environment to that found in testicles. v For the first time, researchers have discovered a new colourful snake which sports horns just above its eyes.The 2.1-feet-long horned snake having a body coloured in striking black and yellow was found in a remote part of Tanzania, East Africa. It’s named Matilda’s horned viper, or Atheris matildae , after the daughter of Tim Davenport, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Director of Tanzania, DiscoveryNews reported. v In a pioneering research, scientists claim to have produced the world’s first magnetic soap that is composed of iron-rich salts dissolved in water. A team at Bristol University says that its soap, which responds to a magnetic field when placed in solution, would calm all concerns over the use of surfactants in oil-spill clean-ups and revolutionise industrial cleaning products. v China recently released a set of “world’s highest resolution” lunar images taken by its second moon orbiter, Chang’e-2, as it braces to launch its next mission to land a rover to explore its surface. v A Russian team has succeeded in drilling through four kilometres (2.5 miles) of ice to the surface of a mythical subglacial Antarctic lake which could hold as yet unknown life forms. v Scientists in Germany said recently they have sequenced nearly all the genome of the Denisova people, an extinct human-like species contemporary with the Neanderthals. v Scientists identified at least two genes, NACP and MAPT linked to Parkinson’s disease, a finding which may pave the way for better treatments for the second most prevalent neurological condition after dementia. v Researchers at the Harvard Smithsonian centre for Astrophysics discovered that the planet GJ1214b was largely covered in water. v India’s indigenously developed micro-light pilotless target aircraft ‘Lakshya-1’ was successfully test-flown from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, as part of a routine trial. v DRDO conducted a successful test launch of the interceptor missile. DRDO’s Air Defence Missile AAD-05 successfully hit the ballistic missile and destroyed it at a height of 15 kms off the Coast of Orissa near the Wheelers Island. v International astronomers have found the fourth potentially habitable planet outside our solar system with temperatures that could support water and life about 22 light-years from Earth. The team analysed data from the European Southern Observatory about a star known as GJ 667C, which is known as an M-class dwarf star and puts out much less heat than our Sun. v A new species of lizard with striking iridescent rainbow skin, a long tail and very short legs has been discovered in the rainforest in northeast Cambodia, conservationists announced. Scientists named the skink Lygosoma veunsaiensis to honour the Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area in Rattanakiri province where it was found. v An innovative, environmentfriendly, low-cost smart paint that, using nano-technology, can detect microscopic faults in wind turbines, mines and bridges before structural damage occurs is being developed. v Scientists have for the first time measured how fast large-scale evolution can occur in mammals, showing it takes 24 million generations for a mouse-sized animal to evolve to the size of an elephant. v An unusual, 50-year-long episode of four massive volcanic eruptions led to the Little Ice Age (1275-1300 A.D). The sea ice expanded and the Atlantic currents weakened after the eruptions. v Scientists have developed a ‘biological computer ’ made entirely from biomolecules that is capable of deciphering images encrypted on DNA chips. v A new study has shown that weaver ants share a collective


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : memory for the odour of ants in rival nests, and use the information to identify them and compete, like sports fans knowing each other by their colours. v Cuttlefish have the most acute polarisation vision yet found in any animal, researchers at the University of Bristol have found, by showing them movies on a modified LCD computer screen to test their eyesight. v Researchers have detected the element tellurium for the first time in three ancient stars. They found traces of this element — which is very rare on Earth — in stars that are nearly 12 billion years old. v There are environmental concerns in extracting natural gas from shale. Water injected into the shale picks up selenium, arsenic, iron, salt and even radioactive particles. The water has to be disposed of properly. v Slowing or preventing the development of Alzheimer ’s disease may be as simple as ensuring a brain protein’s sugar levels are maintained. v The loss of predatory fish leads to an explosion in sea urchin populations. Excessive grazing by sea urchins damages the reef structure and reduces the extent of crustose coralline algae, which are crucial for reef growth. v The way zebrafish regenerate damaged retinas after injury suggests new strategies to be used in humans with reversible conditions. v A ‘soft template infiltration’ technique fabricates free standing piezoelectrically active ferroelectric nanotubes and other nanostructures. v Focusing their research on a type of amoeba called Paulinella chromatophora, scientists have homed in on three of the P. chromatophora transferred genes, which encode proteins involved in photosynthesis. v Serbia’s Novak Djokovic won his first Wimbledon title in 2011 and proved himself the best player in the world with a stunning win over Rafael Nadal. v Petra Kvitova won her first Grand Slam title June 02 by beating Maria Sharapova 6-3, 64 in the Wimbledon final of 2011. v American twins Bob and Mike Bryan won a record-tying 11th Grand Slam men’s doubles title together on July 02, beating Robert Lindstedt of Sweden and Horia Tecau of Romania in the Wimbledon final of 2011. v Rafael Nadal of Spain won a record-equalling sixth French Open title when he beat Roger Federer of Switzerland 7-5, 76(3), 5-7, 6-1 at the Rolland Garros in 2011. v China’s long wait for a Grand Slam champion ended June 04, 2011, when Li Na beat Francesca Schiavone 6—4, 7—6 (0) in the French Open final. v Rafael Nadal won his seventh Monte Carlo Masters by defeating fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 6-4, 7-5 in 2011. v Twenty-eight years after Indian cricket changed forever on an English summer ’s day, the country’s dream of enhancing its reputation as a major force in the world game found glorious realisation at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. v India became only the third team after West Indies and Australia to win the Cricket world cup more than once. v Sachin became the first player to score 2000 runs in world cup cricket. He has scored six centuries and 15 half centuries in world cup cricket history. v Wisden, regarded as the Bible of cricket named Sachin Tendulkar as Wisden’s Leading Cricketer in the World for the year 2010. v Record-breaking batsman Sachin Tendulkar received India’s cricketer of the year award for his outstanding performances in 2009-2010. v MS Dhoni led Chennai Super Kings (CSK) defeated Royal Challengers Bangalore to win Indian Premier League (IPL) season 4 title. v The former England coach, Duncan Fletcher, has been appointed coach of the Indian cricket team for a period of two years. He takes over from the highly successful Gary Kirsten. v Japan lifted the women’s football World Cup by defeating USA in a dramatic final in Frankfurt, Germany. v Spain won the tenth edition of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship title in Romania beating the Czech Republic 3-2. v Uruguay won the Copa América for a record 15th time on by defeating Paraguay, 3-0, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : v Veteran Indian footballer Baichung Bhutia announced his retirement from international soccer on 24 August 2011. v India’s under-16 football team coached by India coach Thomas Joseph was defeated by Pakistan 1-2 in the title clash of the SAFF Champio-nship on 10 August 2011. v Spanish soccer club Barcelona led by Lionel Messi defeated Manchester United 3-1 to emerge winners of the Champions League of 2011. v Kerala won the overall trophy in the National Senior Athletic Meet that was held at Bangalore’s Sree Kanteerava Stadium. v Tintu Luka coached by P. T. Usha opened her European tour with a victory in the Folksam Grand Prix meet at Karlstad, Sweden. v At the 13th World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea, USA won gold in three events out of the total six events held on 1 September 2011. v India finishes 8th with a total of 11 medals in 19th Asian Athletics Championships 2011held in Kobe, Japan. v India’s middle-distance runner Ghamanda Ram won silver in 800m in the opening leg of the Asian Grand Prix meet in the Chinese city of Jiaxiang. v Ace Indian discus thrower Krishna Poonia won the Gold medal on 14 August 2011 in the Annual Athletic Meet at Portland in the United States. v Defending champion Saina Nehwal failed to complete the hat-trick of titles at the Indonesian Open Super Series after losing to Chinese World No. 3 Wang Yihan in the final on 26 June 2011. v India’s Saina Nehwal won her first title of the year with a commanding 21-13, 21-14 victory over South Korean Sung Ji Hyun in the Wilson Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold badminton. v Star Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal was defeated by world number three Xin Wang of China in the finals to finish runner-up in the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold Badminton tournament. v Italian top seed Fabiano Caruana defeated Filipino Wesley to emerge winner of the AAI International Grandmasters chess tournament on 2 July 2011. v Shyam Sundar of Chennai retained his Asian junior title, in the Asian Chess championship which concluded in Sri Lanka on 8 June 2011. v Haryana annexed Senior National Hockey Championship title by defeating Karnataka, at the Aishbagh Stadium in Bhopal on 19 June 2011. v McLaren’s Jenson Button won the Hungarian Grand Prix 2011. v Fernando Alonso won the British Grand Prix thereby delivering Ferrari’s longawaited first win of 2011. v Red Bull’s Formula One World champion Sebastian Vettel of Germany on 26 June 2011. v Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel won the Monaco Grand Prix 2011, thriller for Red Bull. v Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel raced ahead of Lewis Hamilton to win the Spanish Grand Prix 2011. v McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton emerged victorious in the Chinese Grand Prix 2011. v Northern Ireland prodigy Rory McIlroy captured his first Major golf title with his victory in the 111th U.S. Open on 19 June 2011. v Indian golfer Abhijit Chadha finished third in the Malaysian Amateur Open Golf Championship. v An amateur Indian golf team won bronze in a team event at the 48-year old Nomura Cup in Fiji on 19 August 2011. v The Indian trio of Deepika Kumari, Laishram Bombayla Devi and Chekrovolu Swuro settled for a silver medal in the Archery World Championship at Turin after losing the recurve event final to their Italian opponents. v Indian trap shooter and Asian Games gold medallist Ronjan Sodhi won the double trap silver and an Olympic quota place in the shotgun World Cup in Beijing. v India’s five time world champion M.C. Mary Kom won 1st gold medal of the year by winning in the Asian Cup Women’s Boxing tournament in Haikou, china. She won the medal for the 48Kg category. v America’s Michael Phelps won gold in the 200m butterfly event


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : in the World Swimming Championship in Shanghai. v China’s Huo Liang clinched his third successive world title in the men’s 10m synchronised diving. Combining with new partner Qiu Bo, he gave China it’s second gold medal of the world swimming championships. v Russia’s Natalia Ishchenko won her third gold at the Shanghai world championships with victory in the solo free. v Brazil’s Cesar Cielo and American Dana Vollmer won gold medals in butterfly events at the 2011 World Swimming Championships in Shanghai. v Novak Djokovic used his superior return game, defense and speed to defeat the 10-time Grand Slam champion Nadal, 62, 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-1 and win his first career US Open crown and fourth Grand Slam title. v Australia’s Samantha Stosur defeated Serena Williams to win the US Open crown and her first grand slam singles title.Stosur became the first Australian woman in 38 years to win the title. v Jamaica’s Usain Bolt won the Men’s 4x100 Relay final and set a world record at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea on 4 September 2011. v Chen Long claimed his second title in two weeks on 25 September 2011 when he shocked World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei to win the men’s singles badminton title at the Japan Open. v Salgaocar defeated East Bengal 3-1 in the final of the 33rd Federation Cup at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on 29 September 2011. v India defeated Pakistan 4-2 in the penalty shoot-out in a nervewrecking final to clinch the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament on 11 September 2011. v Russian grandmaster Peter Svidler won the Chess World Cup title on 20 September after winning a four-game final against his compatriot Alexander Grischuk. KhantyMansiysk (Russia). v The Indian kabaddi team lifted its first-ever Circle Style Asian kabaddi title on 27 September 2011 by defeating arch-rivals Pakistan 53-38 at Tabriz in Iran. v After the successful launch and implementation of the Come and Play Scheme at the SAI Stadiums in the Capital, which witness more than 12000 children and sports lovers benefitting, it has been decided to launch the Come and Play scheme nationally on October 9, 2011. v India won 5 matches one-day series by 5-0 by defeating England in 5th and final match played in Kolkata on 26 October 2011. v The 2011 Durand Cup, the 124th edition of the Durand Cup which is the third oldest association football competition in the world was won by the Churchill Brothers. Churchill Brothers won the 2011 Durand Cup at the Ambedkar Stadium with a 5-4 tie-break win over Prayag United. v The Indian Grand Prix , sometimes referred to as the Grand Prix of India) is a race in the calendar of the FIA Formula One World Championship. It is currently held at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India. The first event took place on 30 October 2011 as the 17th race of the 2011 Formula One season. Sebastian Vettel of Redbull won the Constructors Trophy. The only Indian F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan of HRT F1 finished 17th position.The only Indian F1 Team Sahara Force India driver Adrian Sutil finished at 9th position. v Asian Games gold medallist Ronjan Sodhi wound up the season in style as he defended the double trap gold medal in the World Cup Finals in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. v Spain won its fifth Davis Cup title after Rafael Nadal defeated Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro 1-6 6-4 6-1 7-6 (0) on 4 December 2011. v The Czech Republic won its first Fed Cup title (tennis) in 23 years after Lucie Hradecka and Kveta Peschke defeated Maria Kirilenko and Elena Vesnina 64, 6-2 in the decisive doubles match on 7 November 2011 to secure a 3-2 win over Russia in the final. v India’s Rohan Bopanna and Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi won the Stockholm Open men’s doubles title by defeating Brazilians Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares 6-1, 6-3 on 23 October 2011.


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : v Malaysian squash superstar Nicol David won a record sixth women’s World Open title on 6 November 2011 by defeating England’s Jenny Duncalf at Luxor Theatre, Rotterdam. v India beat West Indies by 34 runs to win the fifth and final cricket one-day match and recorded an emphatic 4-1 series triumph in Chennai on 11 December 2011. v Indonesia’s experienced shuttler, Taufik Hidayat, won his first Men’s Singles title of 2011 at the 2011 $120,000 Syed Modi India Open Grand Prix Gold badminton championship when he defeated Sourabh Verma of India. v India won its 6th SAFF Championship title against the newcomer, Afghanistan on 11 December 2011. v Rajasthan coached by R R Jadeja won its second consecutive Ranji Trophy title by defeating Tamil Nadu at the MA Chidambaram stadium, Tamil Nadu on 23 January 2012. v The 2012 men’s final went past the 2008 Wimbledon final time record, finishing after 5 hours and 53 minutes of play. It was the longest match in the history of the Australian Open, and in fact, the longest ever singles final in the Open Era in Grand Slam history. Serbia’s Novak Djokovic was the defending champion in the Auatralian Open and won in the final 5–7, 6–4, 6–2, 6–7(5–7), 7–5 against Rafael Nadal of Spain. v Belarusian Victoria Azarenka defeated Maria Sharapova of Russia to win first Grand Slam title. v Leander Paes (India) and Radek Štìpánek (Czech Republic). Paes won his first mens doubles title at the Australian Open and in the process completed a longawaited career Grand Slam in the doubles. v Kerala men defeated Uttarakhand 25-22, 25-22, 25-13 to win the National title for the fourth time, in the 60th senior National volleyball championship, at the Balbir Juneja Indoor Stadium, Raipur on 11 January 2012. v Canadian Milos Raonic won the ATP Chennai Open by defeating world number nine Janko Tipsarevic 6-7 7-6 7-6 in the final on 8 January 2012. v Haryana’s Ajay Mittal won the gold medal at the 55th National Shooting Championships for shotgun on 1 February 2012 by defeating stalwarts like Sodhi and Athens Olympics silver medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in the final. v Australians held their nerve in the cauldron and defeated Sri Lanka 2-1 in the Finals of Commonwealth Bank ODI triangular series at the Adelaide Oval. v Pakistan defeated host Bangladesh to lift Asia Cup Cricket Trophy on 22 March 2012. v Indian national women Kabaddi team clinched maiden Women World Cup Kabaddi championship title on 4 March 2012. In a thrilling match held in Patna, capital of Bihar, Indian women team defeated Iran 2519. v The highest honour of Akademi Fellowship (Akademi Ratna Sadasyata) was conferred on eminent vocalist Girija Devi, renowned dance guru Nataraja Ramakrishna, Dhrupad maestro Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar, and Mridangam vidwan T. K. Murthy. v Celebrated Bengali writer and activist Mahasweta Devi was conferred the Yashwantrao Chavan National Award 2010 “for her contribution to national integration, democratic values and the socio-economic development of India. v The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has chosen one of the living legends of mathematics, John Willard Milnor of the Institute for Mathematical Sciences in the University of Stony Brook, U.S.A, for the award of its prestigious Abel Prize for the year 2011. v German Chancellor Angela Merkel was chosen for the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding for 2009 for her enormous efforts toward sustainable and equitable development. v Eminent Hindi litterateur Arvind Kumar was presented the Hindi Academy Shalaka Samman by well known poet and former bureaucrat Dr. Sita Kant Mahapatra at Delhi Secretariat on 24 June 2011. v Philip Roth was announced as the winner of the fourth Man Booker International Prize at a press conference at the Sydney Opera House. v Social activist Anna Hazare was announced the winner of the


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : 2011 Rabindranath Tagore Peace Prize by the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM). v Director K. Balachander was declared the winner of Dadasaheb Phalke Award for the year 2010 by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. v Noted Hindi poet Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari was selected for the 20th Vyas Samman for his poetry collection, Phir Bhi Kuch Rah Jayega. v Noted Rajasthjani poet Girdhar Rathi was selected for the Bihari Puraskar for 2010 for his poetry collection, Anta Ke Sanshaya. v Kannada writer S. L. Bhyrappa was selected for the 20th Saraswati Samman for his novel Mandra. v British-born Sierra Leonean novelist Aminatta Forna won the 2011 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for her novel, The Memory of Love. v Jennifer Egan’s novel A Visit from the Goon Squad won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.The novel by Jennifer Egan was honoured for its big-hearted curiosity about cultural change at warp speed. v Super 30 founder Anand Kumar, whose initiative helped several students from underprivileged families make it to the IIT-JEE was chosen for the Education in Excellence Award-2011 to be awarded on Doha. v Indian novelist Vikas Kumar Jha has been chosen for the 2011 International Indu Sharma Katha Samman, for his novel ‘McCluskieganj ‘ . v Indian-American physician Siddhartha Mukherjee’s acclaimed book on cancer, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, has won the prestigious 2011 Pulitzer Prize in the general non-fiction category. v Indian mathematician and theoretical computer scientist Ravi Kannan has been awarded the 2011 Knuth Prize, a prestigious international recognition for research in computer science. v Six novels, five collections of short stories, seven books of poetry and one book of folk tales and plays in 24 Indian languages were selected for the 2011 Kendra Sahitya Akademi Awards for Children’s Literature. v Two Indians -Nileema Mishra, a lender to the poor in Maharashtra and US-trained Indian engineer Harish Hande who revolutionized the use of solar lights were among six people to have received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for 2011. v Former India striker Shabbir Ali, who took up full-time coaching after retirement on 26 June 2011 became the first footballer to win the prestigious Dhyan Chand award as recognition for his lifetime achievement in sports. v The Dinesh Khanna-led Arjuna award panel had recommended increasing the number of Arjuna awards to 19 instead of the normal 15. v Five coaches were chosen for the Dronacharya award. The awardees are as follows: Ram Phal (wrestling), Devendra Kumar Rathore (gymnastics), I. Venkateswara Rao (boxing), Rajender Singh (hockey) and Kunthal Kumar Roy (athletics). v 19th Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award to be presented to the SPIC MACAY for its outstanding contribution towards the promotion of communal harmony, peace and goodwill. The award is given annually on 20th August. v The 44th Jnanpith Award for 2008 was presented to renowned Urdu poet Professor Akhlaq Mohammad Khan Shahryar for his distinguished contribution in enriching Indian literature. v Eminent Hindi authors Amar Kant and Shrilal Shukla was chosen for India’s highest literary honour Jnanpith Award for 2009, while renowned Kannada litterateur Chandrasekhar Kambar won it for 2010. v The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) on 28 September 2011 conferred the Rajiv Gandhi International Prize for Technology in Education and Development to the Azim Premji Foundation. v The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011 is to be divided in three equal parts between Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.


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UPSCPORTAL Current Affairs : v The Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 is awarded to Tomas Tranströmer “because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality”. v One of the most acrimonious run-ups to the Man Booker Prize in recent years had a happy ending as British novelist Julian Barnes was declared the unanimous winner of this year ’s £50,000 prize for his novella, “The Sense of an Ending’’, hailed as an “exquisite’’ meditation on growing old, the nature of memory and relationships. v M.K. Mani, pioneer in nephrology in the country and Chief Nephrologist at Apollo Hospital, Chennai, has been honoured with the 40th Dhanvantari Award. v Environmentalist, lawyer and former Union Minister, Mohan Dharia, has been selected as the winner of the 26th Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration. v Vinoba Sewa Ashram founders Ramesh Bhaiya and Vimla Bahan, and social activists Anupam Mishra, Shobhana Ranade and Agus Indra Udayana were awarded 2011 Jamnalal Bajaj Awards on 7 November 2011. v President of India Pratibha Devisingh Patil conferred the Ashoka Chakra on Lt. Navdeep Singh (posthu-mous) on the occasion of the 63rd Republic Day Parade 2012 in New Delhi. v The Prestigious 59th National Film awards for Best Actor was given to Girish Kulkarni for film Deool (Marathi) and Best Actress to Vidya Balan for the film The Dirty Picture (Hindi). v The K.K. Birla Foundation has awarded the 21 st Bihari Puraskar for 2011 to Arjundeo Charan for his Rajasthani poetry collection “ Ghar Tau Ek Nam Hai Bhrosai Rau “. v Noted Hindi writer Professor Ramdarash Mishra was selected for the 21st Vyas Samman for his poetry collection Aam Ke Patte published in 2004. v Tapas Kumar Kundu of Bangalore-based Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research has been selected for the G.D. Birla award for his contribution in biochemistry.

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