Govt announces host of measures to check sexual assault cases on women Dec 19, 9:27 PM The Government today announced a host

of measures to instill confidence among th e people shocked by the recent incident of gang rape in the national capital. Th is follows Home Minister s review meting with Police Officers and Transport Commis sioner in the wake of the incident. Making the statement in the both Houses of P arliament, the Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said that Delhi Police will lau nch a crackdown on buses having tinted glass and heavy curtains. Other measures include keeping lights on in all commercial vehicles and buses pl ying at night on city roads, off duty buses to be compulsorily parked with their owners and vehicles violating permit conditions to face impounding and cancella tion of permits. Apart from this, driver s licence and all details along with photo shall have to b e displayed in all vehicles. The Home Minister also said that PCR fleet of Delhi Police will be augmented with more vehicles fitted with GPS system to track the ir movement by police control room. Later in the day, the Prime Minsiter Dr Manmohan Singh directed the Home Ministe r Sushil Kumar Shinde to ensure that rape incidents do not recur in future. Expr essing shock over the incident of gang rape , Dr Singh asked the Home Minister t o take all measures to ensure that culprits are brought to book. Dr Singh termed the incident as a heinous crime and very upsetting while receiving a delegation of women MPs led by Mohsina Kidwai on the issue. Meanwhile, Delhi High Court has accepted the proposal of the city Government to set up five Special Fast Track Courts in the national capital to deal with the c ases of sexual assault on women expeditiously. Taking suo motu cognisance of the incident, the High Court also decided to monit or its investigation by directing police to carry a high standard probe and file the charge sheet only after the court's perusal.A bench headed by Chief Justice D Murugesan directed Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar to file a status report w ithin two days giving all details. On the other hand, the doctors attending the rape victim in Safdarjung Hospital said that she underwent another surgery today and her condition continues to be critical but stable. AIR correspondent reports that string of protests today erupted in the national Capital Delhi on the incident. A group of people protested outside the Delhi Pol ice headquaters, demanding action against the accused in the case. Scores of people also gathered at Jantar Mantar and India Gate to express their anger against the gruesome crime. Protesters also gathered at the residence of D elhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, where the Police had to resort to water cann on charge to disperse them. Meanwhile, in a related development, one of the two absconding accused has repor tedly been detained in Aurangabad in Bihar. Earlier in a crucial development , two of the three other arrested accused have been remanded to four day police custody and one to 14 days judicial custody tod ay.The main accused in the case was on Tuesday sent to five-day police custody. // LS adjourned for the day over quota bill

Dec 19, 9:21 PM The Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day on Wednesday. As soon as the House met a fter its third adjournment, Minister of State for Personnel V. Narayanasamy got up to introduce the Bill for reservation of SCs/STs in promotions in government jobs. In the meantime, the Samajwadi Party members surged into the well protesting aga inst the legislation. The Minister continued reading his statement amidst the up roar. Suddenly one of the members of Samajwadi Party snatched the paper from the Minister's hand. The UPA leader Sonia Gandhi promptly got up to intervene and tried to take back the paper from the Samajwadi Party member. As the disruption continued, Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the House till tomorrow. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath today deplored the incidents in Lok Sa bha, terming it as a sad day for democracy. Speaking to media persons in Parliament House, he said debate or voting has no m eaning, if such incidents occur. Mr Kamal Nath said the Bill will be introduced in the House tomorrow. Mr Kamal Nath said his party will take up the matter with the Speaker. // 26/11 attack: 3 member team leaves for Pak to pave way for Judicial Commission's visit Dec 19, 8:56 PM A three member team from the Home Ministry has left for Pakistan to set the term s of reference for the visit of the Pakistan Judicial Commission to India in con nection with 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. The team is led by Mr. Dharmendra Shar ma, Joint Secretary in the ministry of Home Affairs. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had made a statement in Parliament that a team will be sent to Pakistan t his week. The statement was made following the visit of Pakistan Interior minist er Rahman Malik to New Delhi last week. // Counting of Votes for Guj, HP polls on Thursday

Dec 19 In Gujarat counting of votes for all 182 constituencies spread over 26 districts will take place on Thursday. All arrangements have been completed for counting of votes at 33 places in various district headquarters. AIR correspondent reports that in the beginning postal ballots will be counted. About 8 thousand state and central government employees have been engaged for co unting of vote. Polling was held in the state in two phases and above 71 per cent polling was re corded. A total of 1666 candidates including 95 women are in contest in the stat e assembly elections. In Himachal Pradesh, the counting of votes would start at 8.00 AM, on Thursday , at all the 68 counting centres. The elections for the 68 member assembly were h eld on 4th November. Speaking to AIR in Shimla, the State Chief Electoral Officer, Narender Chauhan s aid that the postal ballots would be counted first. Results are expected to be o

ut by afternoon. // FM stresses need for systematic changes for collection of taxes

Dec 19 Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram today stressed the need for systematic changes for better collection of taxes. Addressing the Consultative Committee meeting of his Ministry in New Delhi, Mr. Chidambaram said that government focus is always to have a reasonably stable tax regime which is in the interest of both the tax payers as well as tax collectors. He said the centre is fully committed to prov ide best possible facilities to the tax payers for better tax compliance and rev enue augmentation. The minister also said at present 3.5 crore people are filing income tax returns and only 14.6 lakh people have declared their income of 10 lakh rupees and abov e for tax purposes, which is not realistic. He said there is a lot of scope for better tax compliance and tax collections. // DA case: Court extends Jagan's judicial remand till 2nd Jan

Dec 19 A special CBI court in Hyderabad today extended judicial remand of YSR Congress Party chief Y S Jaganmohan Reddy and ot her accused in disproportionate assets case till January 2, 2013. Jagan has been lodged in Chanchalguda prison in Hyderabad since his arrest by CBI in a corrupt ion case on May 27. In another development, the court also extended the judicial remand of former Ka rnataka minister Gali Janardhan Reddy in the illegal mining case till January 2, 2013. // India-China can serve as fulcrum for world peace, welfare: Prez

Dec 19 President Mr. Pranab Mukherjee has said that India and China stand on the thresh old of a leap into an exciting phase of global exchange. He said both the countr ies are harnessing of ideas and resources for global welfare which can serve as a major fulcrum for world peace and welfare. Inaugurating the year long centenar y celebrations of receiving Nobel Award by Gurudev Rabidranath Tagore, in Shanti Niketan of West Bengal today, Mr. Mukherjee said that both the countries have h istorical bonds and need for cooperation and close exchange of ideas in the futu re. The celebration is jointly organized by the Vishwa Bharti University and Institu te of Chinese studies, New Delhi. Referring to the Gurudev's close association w ith China Mr. Mukherjee said that visionaries like Tagore have made us realized that literature, histories and cultures represent common ideas of humanity that transcend national limits. The West Bengal Governor, Mr. M. K. Narayanan, the Vi ce Chancellor of the Vishwa Bharti University Mr. Sushant Dutta Gupta also spoke on the occasion. Earlier, the President attended a function at Sri Vidyasagar Collage at Suri in Birbhum district from where he was graduated.

// Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill introduced in RS Dec 19 The Home Minister today introduced the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendmen t Bill in the Rajya Sabha. It redefines a terrorist act to include offences thre atening the country's economic security. Mr. Sushil Kumar Shinde said the propos ed amendments are intended to remove the infirmities in the existing legislation . Highlighting the salient features of the bill, the Home Minister said the amendm ents are meant to nab offenders who procure weapons, raise funds for terrorist a ctivities and counterfeit Indian currency. The bill grants additional powers to courts to attach the properties of offenders. Initiating the debate, Mr. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, BJP, supported the bill and aske d for effective police reforms to combat terrorist activities in the country. Mr. Satyavrat Chaturvedi, Congress, said the legislation empowers security offic ials to effectively deal with terrorists. But Mr. P. Rajeev, CPIM, was of the vi ew that the proposed amendments will make the existing law very harsh. The discu ssion will continue. The Lok Sabha had passed the bill earlier.< // Govt to announce levy price of sugar for current season Dec 19 The government will soon announce the levy price of sugar for the current season . The levy price the rate at which the government purchases the sweetener from m ills to run ration shops. Speaking at the annual meeting of the general body of the National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories Limited in New Delhi toda y, the Food Minister K V Thomas said that notification regarding decision of car ry forward of levy sugar will also be issued soon. The Minister said that he has directed the Department of Food and Public Distrib ution to expedite the notification and ensure that the mills do not suffer on th is account. On the Rangarajan Committee report on sugar decontrol, Prof. Thomas said that Food Ministry has initiated action on the report and the feasibility a nd the time frame of implementing the various recommendations are under delibera tion. // Indian Army Chief on 4 day visit in Colombo Dec 19 Chief of Indian Army General Bikram Singh arrived in Colombo on Wednesday aftern oon on a four day goodwill visit. Army Chief will meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Secretary Defence Gotabaya Raj apaksa, Chief of Defence Staff and three forces Commanders and will hold talks o n wide ranging issues of mutual interest. He will also pay tributes to the Indian Peace Keeping Force personnel and visit Security Force Headquarters Vavunia and the Rehabilitation Centre at Poonthottam . // Parl passes Constitution Amendment Bill

Dec 19 Parliament has passed the Constitution Amendment Bill to set up a separate devel opment board for the backward areas of the erstwhile Hyderabad-Karnataka region with the Rajya Sabha approving it today. All the 163 members present in the Hous e voted in favour of the Bill. The Lok Sabha had passed it unanimously on Tuesday. Six districts of Gulbarga, B idar, Raichur, Koppal, Yadgir and Bellary in Karnataka will now benefit from equ itable allocation of funds for their upliftment. // Prez to receive heads of States of ASEAN Dec 19 President Pranab Mukherjee will receive visiting heads of States of the Associat ion of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in New Delhi on Thursday. The visiting l eaders are coming to participate in two day ASEAN- India Special Commemorative S ummit beginning from on Thursday in the national capital. The Sultan of Brunei D arussalam, the President of Indonesia and Myanmar, the Vice-President of Philipp ines and the Prime Ministers of Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand an d Vietnam are among the Heads of State who will arrive at Rashtrapati Bhavan to meet Mr. Mukherjee. The Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh will also be present during the function. The President will host a cultural event and ba nquet in honour of the visiting Heads of State. AIR correspondent reports that New Delhi is hosting the two day ASEAN-India Comm emorative Summit to mark the 20th anniversary of the ASEAN-India dialogue partne rship and the 10th anniversary of ASEAN-India Summit-level partnership. The them e of the summit is ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace and Shared Prosperity. All India Radio will broadcast Live inaugural Function of ASEAN-India Commemorat ive Summit 2012 from Rashtrapati Bhavan on Thursday, the 20th December, 2012 fro m 7.00 pm onwards on its Indraprastha Channel and additional Frequencies. // Tourism Ministry announces setting up of Southern Zonal Tourism Council Dec 19 Ministry of Tourism today announced setting up of a Southern Zonal Tourism Counc il to facilitate development of tourism and related products in Southern India. The Council comprises of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Puduc herry. Interacting with the officials of World Travel and Tourism Council- India Initia tive, in New Delhi, Tourism Minister K Chiranjeevi said issues regarding competi tive taxation of tourism products and inter-state taxation of tourist vehicles w ill be addressed by the council. It will also interact with stakeholders to understand the concerns and issues fa ced by the tourism industry. He said development of Integrated Tourism Circuits among the Southern states will be the way forward. // Park Geun-hye South Korea's 1st female President

Dec 19 Conservative Park Geun-hye has become South Korea's first female president. The liberal Moon Jae-in conceded late Wednesday to the daughter of late dictator Park Chung-hee after a close race. Her victory came despite analysts' speculation that high voter turnout could fav or Moon. Moon is the son of North Korean refugees and a former human rights lawy er. She will replace conservative President Lee Myung-bak in February next year. // At least 17 killed in jailbreak attempt in Mexico: Officials Dec 19 At least 17 people have been killed during an attempted jailbreak in Mexico, off icials say. Eleven inmates and six guards died in a shootout in the city of Gome z Palacio as the prisoners tried to escape through tunnels. The latest deadly cl ashes, which occurred in the state of Durango, appear to have happened when ward ens tried to prevent prisoners from fleeing. In September, more than 130 prisoners, many from the powerful Zetas cartel, esca ped from a facility in the state of Coahuila, close to the US border. // 4 Afghan police officers shot dead by their colleagues Dec 19 Four Afghan police officers were shot dead and three others hospitalized after b eing attacked by one of their own colleagues in Spin Boldak district of Kandhar province in Afghanistan. Reports quoting provincial officials said seven policem en posted at a check point were first poisoned and then four of then were shot d ead. The attacker fled after the incident. Afghan police is investigating the in cident to ascertain whether the attacker has links with the insurgents. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the incident. More than 50 foreign soldie rs and dozens of Afghan security personnel have been killed in different suicide attacks in Afghanistan this year. // Polio team attack: Pak Police launches operation at Al-Asif Square Dec 19 The Pakistan police have launched an operation at Al-Asif Square in Sohrab Goth against criminals believed to be involved in the attacks on polio teams in the c ity. According to reports, police cordoned off Al-Asif Square area in Sohrab Got h to conduct a search operation after receiving information regarding the presen ce of criminals involved in the attacks on polio vaccination teams in the area. During the operation, the accused opened fire on the police teams and as a resul t of retaliation, two accused, one of them a foreigner were killed. So far, over 20 suspects have been detained and a majority of them are foreigners. Earlier, police had arrested 25 persons during a search operation in Landhi and Quaidabad areas and registered cases against unidentified men for killing four f emale polio workers in the city. Following the targeted killings of polio team m embers, the Sindh Government has suspended the polio campaign in the province. The UN children's agency UNICEF and the World Health Organisation have also susp ended work on campaigns against polio in Pakistan after a series of attacks agai nst workers in Karachi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. // China-Russia hold talks to promote bilateral cooperation

Dec 19 The third meeting of the dialogue mechanism between the ruling parties of China and Russia was held in Beijing today to promote bilateral cooperation. Represent atives of the Communist Party of China and the United Russia party exchanged vie ws on their countries' development, inner-party democracy, media, training and s election of cadres and anti-corruption work. The dialogue mechanism was launched in Beijing in June 2009, and its second meeting was held in Moscow in March 201 0. // Obama to announce Vice-Prez attempts to reform gun laws in US Dec 19 US President Barack Obama is to announce today that Vice-President Joe Biden wil l lead attempts to reform gun laws in the United States. There have been widespr ead calls for reform following the shooting of 26 children and teachers in Sandy Hook School last week. White House officials said Mr Obama will lay out the pro cess by which his administration will move forward. Mr Obama reportedly wants to reintroduce a ban on assault weapons. // French Prez begins his 1st visit to Algeria Dec 19 French President Francois Hollande began his first state visit to Algeria today to ease diplomatic tension and campaign for new political relations that are hea vily tainted by France's colonial past. Heading a delegation of 200 visitors, in cluding seven ministers and key figures of top French companies, Hollande has al so in bag a package of business deals to cement further economic links with the oil producing Arab country. He will meet Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika before attending a ceremony to sign about 15 partnership agreements at Alegrian Culture Palace. // 5 Indian sailors kidnapped from ship off coast of Nigeria's oil-rich delta Dec 19 Gunmen stormed a tanker ship off the coast of Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta, ransacking the vessel and kidnapping five Indian sailors in the latest attack t argeting foreign workers in the volatile region. The attack targeted the SP Brussels tanker as it sat about 40 miles off the coas t of Nigeria's Niger Delta, a shipping company said in a statement. Those remaining onboard later sailed the vessel safely to port in Lagos, Nigeria 's commercial capital, the company said. The attack on the tanker came the same day gunmen abducted four South Koreans an d a Nigerian working for Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. at a construction site in the Brass area of Bayelsa state. // Britain to withdraw 4000 troops from Afghanistan Dec 19 Britain will withdraw its 4000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year. Agency reports say this was announced by the British Prime Minister David Camero n after a lengthy telephonic discussion with US President Barack Obama on Wednes day. Prime Minister Cameron said this decision has been taken in view of the inc reasing confidence and strength of the Afghan Security Forces. Presently there are 9,500 British troops in Afghanistan of which 500 are likely to return by the end of this year. The combat mission of the US led Internationa

l Force in Afghanistan will complete by the end of 2014. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has expressed confidence that Afghan forces are capable of defending the country. // K'taka DA case: 7.5 cr unearthed during raids Dec 19 In Karnataka, disproportionate assets worth 7.5 crore rupees was unearthed durin g raids by Lokayuktha police today. A Lokayuktha Head Constable was among those trapped and disproportionate assets worth 55.25 lakh rupees was seized from him. Lokayuktha Additional Director General of Police Mr. Satyanarayana Rao told medi a persons that Lokayuktha conducted raids against eight officials in 25 differen t places in Bangalore and other districts. Informing that these officials are arrested and cases filed against them, he dis closed that Lokayuktha Head Constable Channabasavaiah, who was trapped today, al legedly leaked department information in return for gratifications. Others who a re caught today include Chief Engineers, Directors, Head Clerk in different Gove rnment departments. // UP govt to bear medical expenses of Delhi gangrape victim Dec 19 Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said in Lucknow today that the Uttar Pradesh gover nment would bear the medical expenses of the girl who was outraged in a moving b us in New Delhi recently. The young woman, who belongs to Ballia of Uttar Prades h, was reported to be interning at a hospital in Delhi for some months. AIR correspondent reports that in a statement, the chief minister said state gov ernment would not only bear her medical expenses, but it would also give jobs to both the young woman and her male friend, who was with her when the dastardly a ct was committed. // Jammu-Srinagar NH re-opens after landslide Dec 19 In Jammu and Kashmir, Jammu-Srinagar National Highway reopened for vehicular tra ffic today, a day after it was blocked due to a major landslide in Ramban distri ct. The 300-km-long highway, which is the only surface link between Kashmir vall ey and the rest of the Country, was blocked due to a major landslide triggered b y rains at Seri belt of Ramban district on Tuesday afternoon. // Left parties demand ban on mushrooming chit fund cos in WB Dec 19 The left parties have demanded that there should be a ban on the mushrooming of chit fund companies in West Bengal. Speaking to reporters outside Parliament, CP I(M) leader Basudev Acharia said, leaders of CPI, CPI(M), Forward Bloc and RSP m et Prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh in the Parliament House and submitted two me morandums.Mr Acharia said, the leaders demanded that jute bags should be procure d by the Jute Corporation of India and to open more jute procurement centres in every district of West Bengal. // Delhi Airport Metro to resume services at 80kmph:Urban Dev Min Dec 19 The government has decided to resume the services of Delhi Airport Metro at 80 k ilometers per hour. This was the speed at which the trains were running before t he services were discontinued in July this year because of damaged clips on the

route. The maximum permissible speed for the trains on this route is 120 kilomet ers per hour. Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath gave this information in the Lok Sabha today. He said the proposal for reopening the train services has been submitted to the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety with the proposed speed of 8 0 kilometers per hour, which is considered safe. In reply to a question, the Min ister said the Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited, which runs the servi ces, had appointed Hong Kong Technical University as consultant for a detailed a nalysis of the damaged clips in the Airport Metro Express corridor. The consulta nt undertook various measurements to find out the cause of the failure of the cl ips. It has not given its findings as yet, the Minister said. // 5 day Bharat Nirman Public info Campaign begins in Andaman and Nicobar islands Dec 19 In Andaman and Nicobar islands, a five day long Bharat Nirman Public information Campaign begins on Wednesday. The islands Lt Governor, Lt Gen Bhopindher Singh inaugurated this campaign at Hut Bay in Little Andaman on Wednesday. Inauguratin g the campaign, the Lt Governor said the islands administration is committed to provide infrastructural facilities and services to the people at their doorsteps , as envisaged in the Programme. // 1 more militant killed in Kashmir encounter Dec 19 In Kashmir valley one more militant was today killed in ongoing joint operation of army and police in Saidpura of Sopore. Yesterday five militants belonging to Lashker-e-Taiba were killed in the operation. Police sources said that there is possibility of one more militant being hold up in the area. Unconfirmed reports say the two security jawan were injured in the encounter. // Railway Min, Chairman Railway Board inspect Kumbh Mela preparations Dec 19 Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Chairman Railway Board, Vinay Mitt al inspected the ongoing preparations being made by the Railways for the upcomin g Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. They inspected Allahabad junction, Naini junction and also visited the Sangam area to assess the preparations made by the Railways fo r the coming Kumbh Mela. They examined various enclosures that are being set up to accommodate the passengers thronging the religious city during the Kumbh Mela starting from January 14th next year. These enclosures are being painted in uni que colours so that passengers going in a particular direction, can easily reach the particular enclosure. General manager, North-Central Railway, Alok Johri ap prised the authorities about the traffic movement plan. AIR correspondent quoting official sources, reports that the Rail Minister also examined the room at the Allahabad junction station from where the security pers onnel are keeping a watch on the activities of the suspicious elements through t he CCTV installed at various places of the station. He also visited the Sangam a rea to assess the preparations being made by the Railways for the grand religiou s congregation. // Several govt. schemes to support SMEs: Mos Commerce Dec 19 The government today said that it is implementing various schemes to support sma ll and medium sector industries. Replying to questions in the Rajya Sabha, Minis ter of State for Commerce and Industry, D Purandeswari, however, said that the d ecline in growth in the manufacturing sector can be attributed to both domestic as well as international factors which include Eurozone crisis and decline in ex ternal demand. She said, moderation in domestic demand, hardening of interest ra

tes, inflationary pressure and rising input cost were also factors for decline i n this sector. Ms Purndeswari said, since 2009, adverse effects of large imports from China on domestic industry has been established in only two cases of rubbe r related products. // FDI in retail will help unlock potential of agri value chain : MoS Commerce Dec 19 The government today said that opening up of Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, in multi-brand retail trade is expected to bring in much needed investments, techno logies and efficiencies to unlock the true potential of the agriculture value ch ain. In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, the Minister of State for Commerce a nd Industry, Dr S Jagathrakshakan said the policy mandates minimum investment of 100 million dollars with at least half going towards back end infrastructure, i ncluding cold chains, refrigerated transportation and logistics. He said, the co ndition that this investment will have to be made within 3 years of the first tr anche of FDI, has been put in, to ensure that the purpose is actually achieved.T he Minister made it clear that in formulating the policy for allowing 51 per cen t FDI in multi brand, the government was conscious of the livelihood concerns of the millions of small retailers. Dr Jagathrakshakan said that even in developin g economies like China, Brazil, Argentina, Singapore and Thailand, where FDI is permitted up to 100 percent, a study suggests that local retailers have found in novative ways to co- exist along with organised retail and are integral to the o rganised retail chain. // Govt mulling quota in recruitment of IIM & IIS faculty Dec 19 The Government is considering implementation of quota in faculty recruitments fo r SC, ST and OBCs with respect to the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and the Indian Institute of Science (IIS), Bangalore. Minister of State for Human R esource Development, Shashi Tharoor told this to the Lok Sabha in a written repl y today. He said the Government had instructed Indian Institutes of Technology ( IITs) and Central Universities to implement quota. The Minister said the reserva tions for SCs, STs, and OBCs in faculty recruitments at the level of Assistant P rofessors and Lecturers in IIMs and the IIS, Bangalore is presently under consid eration. // Severasl steps taken to improve industrial climate : MoS Commerce Dec 19 The government has taken many confidence building measures to improve the indust rial climate and manufacturing in the country. This was informed by the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Dr S Jagathrakshakan in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today. He said that the measures include the announcement of the National Manufacturing Policy with the objective of enhancing the share of manu facturing in GDP to 25 per cent and creating 100 million jobs over a decade. The policy also seeks to put in place measures to improve industrial infrastructure including setting up of National Investment and Manufacturing Zones, simplify b ussiness regulation and incentivize clean technology skill development and inves tment in micro small and medium enterprises. Dr Jagathrakshakan said that other measures include facilitation of industrial investment to promote Foreign Direct Investment and regular meeting with industry associations and stakeholders to f ast track implementation of industrial projects. // 5 lac passengers traveled in various domestic airlines in Oct Dec 19 Around five lakh more passengers traveled in various domestic airlines in the la st month compare to October this year. As per the passenger traffic data submitt

ed by various domestic airlines, the total passengers carried by the scheduled d omestic airlines in the last month were over 50 lakhs, while, it was around 46 l akh in the month of October. // LS passes Companies Bill 2011 to improve corporate governance Dec 19 The Lok Sabha has passed the Companies Bill 2011. The Bill, aimed at improving c orporate governance, contains provisions to strengthen regulations for corporate s as well as auditing firms. The Bill passed by the House late last night also m akes it mandatory for profit-making companies to spend two percent of their prof it for community welfare as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility. In ca se, a company fails to meet its social obligations, it will have to explain the reasons for the shortfall. Introducing the Bill, Corporate Affairs Minister Sach in Pilot termed the Bill as forward looking stating that it will protect small i nvestors from corporate frauds. Mr Pilot said, the law will simplify the procedure for closure of a company. // 8 member youth boxing team leaves for Agalarov Cup, Azerbaijan Dec 19 An eight-member Indian boxing team today left for Baku, Azerbaijan, to take part in the Agalarov Cup, an international youth boxing tournament. The team compris es six boxers and two coaches. The 6-Day tournament is scheduled to start today. In the previous edition of the tournament in 2011, the youth Indian glove men re turned with three medals and this year as well, the Indian team is confident of a good showing. A. Silambarsan (52kg), who won the gold medal and the best boxer trophy at the r ecently concluded Indo-Sri Lanka Duel Boxing Championship in Colombo, is leading the Indian charge at Baku. // Will take all steps to protect Indian sportspersons' interests : Sports Min Dec 19 The government today said that the suspension of Indian Olympic Association by t he International Olympic Committee (IOC) is unlikely to have any immediate major impact on sports in the country or to Indian sportspersons. In a statement in t he Rajya Sabha, in response to a calling attention motion, Minister of Youth Aff airs and Sports, Jitendra Singh said the IOC and the Olympic Council of Asia hav e clarified that Indian portspersons will be able to participate in internationa l sports events but only under the flag of IOC. Expressing confidence that the i ssues between IOC and IOA will be resolved in time, Mr. Singh said government is committed to take all possible measures to protect the interests of Indian spor tspersons and to ensure their participation in international sports events under the national flag. // Jharkhand clears two greenfield power projects of pvt. cos Jharkhand government has cleared two new green field power projects of private c ompanies with combined capacities of 2900 megawatt. The first power plant of 160 0 mega watt would come in Dumka, while the second would be in Saraikela with a c apacity of 1300 mega watt. Dumka is the constituency of Dy. Chief Minister Heman t Soren while Saraikela is the constituency of the Chief Minister Arjun Munda. O ur Correspondent reports, the decision comes in the backdrop of reports that the state power distribution networks suffer serious constraints because of nearly 600 faulty transformers.

// Govt mulling Imphal-Mandalay bus service soon The Government is contemplating to start a bus service between Imphal and Mandal ay in Myanmar at the earliest. Minister of State for External Affairs Praneet Ka ur told this in a written reply to the Lok Sabha today. She said technical level talks were held between India and Myanmar during September this year following the visit of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan to the country early this year. The Mini ster said the two sides also discussed related issues like immigration, customs, visa procedure and security arrangements and the draft protocol to the Memorand um of Understanding. // New policy to improve NE air connectivity: Aviation Min The government is to bring out a new policy to connect the remote areas in the N orth-East. Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said this in the Lok Sabha today. In reply to a question, he said the North-East has been allocated over 95 crore rupees in the current fiscal for developing civil aviation infrastructure. He said the government has issued route dispersal guidelines to achieve better r egulation of air transport services in different regions of the country. The Nor th-Eastern region, Jammu and Kashmir, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep have b een given special attention in promoting regional connectivity, the Minister sai d. // Nearly 134 Indian fishermen & 600 boats in Pak custody: MoS External Affairs The Centre today said that nearly 134 Indian fishermen and about six hundred fis hing boats are believed to be in the custody of Pakistan. In a written reply in the Lok Sabha, the Minister of State for External Affairs Mrs. Preneet Kaur said, of these, 134 are awaiting Consular access. She said Pak istan has released 677 Indian fishermen this year so far. The Minister said ther e are no Indian fishermen at present in the custody of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka on fisheries related charges. // India's uranium reserve pegged at two lakh tonnes India has a confirmed reserve of nearly two lakh tonnes of uranium at present. T he reserves of monazite amount to one hundred seven lakh tonnes. Giving this inf ormation in the Lok Sabha today, Minister of State in PMO V. Narayanasamy said a lthough the reserves of uranium in the country are modest, they are located in t en States. Its highest quantity occurs in Andhra Pradesh with a reserve of ninet y-three thousand and four hundred ninety two tonnes followed by Jharkhand with o ver fifty- three thousand tonnes. While Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Chha ttisgarh have substantial quantities of uranium, the rare earth is found in mode st quantities in Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttarakhand. T he Atomic Mineral Directorate under the Atomic Energy Department is the speciali st agency to survey and explore the reserves of this vital component in generati ng atomic power in the country, the Minister said // Will ensure universal girls' education under RTE : MoS Edu Tharoor The Government today assured the Lok Sabha that steps will be taken to ensure un iversal girls' education under the Right to Education Act. Replying to supplemen taries during Question Hour, Minister of State for Human Resources Development, Shashi Tharoor said, steps to contain dropouts as part of the Sarva Siksha Abhiy an programme. He said, three thousand rupees are being deposited in the accounts of the girl students who pass eighth standard and returned along with interest after they pass 10th class. He said, 5 lakh girl students have benefitted so far under the scheme.

Conceding that there is shortage of teachers in primary schools, the Minister sa id large number of teachers are being recruited to improve the teacher-student r atio.On the provision of toilets, Mr Tharoor said, about 69 per cent schools hav e the facility at present and the efforts are on to construct more toilets every year. // Our planet getting along fine; no apocalypse on Dec 21: NASA NASA has rejected the doomsday theory of December 21 being the last day of the w orld, according to one of the interpretations of the Mayan calendar. It has cate gorically stated that no one needs to fear and the theory is illogical, irration al and beyond truth. NASA has also stated that no gigantic asteroids or mysterio us rogue planets are on a collision course with Earth, and there is no reason to think that a massive solar storm is brewing up. Our West Asia correspondent rep orts that If one of the interpretations of the Mayan civilization s calendar is to be believed, we all have barely two days left to get our affairs in order. But why- because the doomsday theory says the world will come to an end on Friday, D ecember 21. And How- may it be? By a falling asteroid or monster solar storm. Th e source of the anxiety is the Mayan Long Count calendar, whose 144,000-day cycl e wraps up on December 21. Believers say that for the ancient Maya, this milesto ne marked the end of a cycle of creation. But experts on Mayan history say there is no evidence that even the ancient Mayans themselves were aware of such an in terpretation which is illogical, irrational and simply beyond truth. In fact the y say that Mayans would have celebrated the event and simply rolled over to a ne w Mayan calendar. NASA has dispelled any notions of so called doomsday theory on December 21 and said there is nothing to worry about December 21. No gigantic a steroids or mysterious rogue planets are on a collision course with Earth, and n either is any massive solar storm in the offing. They say that the sun has been fairly quiet during its current 11-year activity cycle.And Earth has a history o f weathering whatever the sun, or anything else, throws at it. NASA researchers stated that our planet has been getting along just fine for more than four billi on years there is no credible evidence of any such apocalypse in 2012.. However December 21 is to be celebrated as it is one of the two solstices of the year wh en day and night are of equal duration. It marks the start of winter in the Nort hern Hemisphere and the onset of summer in the South. An interesting buzz doing the rounds is- while some people are hiding down in bunkers awaiting the end, ot hers will be celebrating the changing of the seasons on our ancient and abiding Earth. // Israel to go ahead with settlement building despite int'l criticism Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that he will go ahead with Je wish settlements in occupied Palestinian territories despite widespread internat ional criticism. Israel has announced plans to build thousands of homes in settl ements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in response to the U.N. General Assem bly s decision last month to upgrade the Palestinians status to a nonmember observe r state. Mr. Netanyahu told on Monday that Israel will push forward with plans t o build 1,500 apartments in east Jerusalem. The United Nations Security Council is holding its monthly Middle East meeting t oday. The 15 nation council is expected to denounce the Israeli move today. Pale stinian envoy to UN Riyad Mansour said that continuing settlement activity is il legal and must be stopped. He said there is near global unanimity against Israel s actions as the UN General Assembly , passed by 169-6 vote a non-binding resolut ion condemning settlement activities by Israel and demanding their immediate ces sation. He said the four European nations - Germany, France, Britain and Portuga l would issue a statement of condemnation today. India will address on behalf of the Nonaligned Movement and the developing nations. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland accused Israel of engaging in a pattern of provocative action that runs counter to the government s commitment t

o peace. She said settlement activity only puts the goal of peace further at ris k. United States has urged both Israel and the Palestinians to halt all provocat ions and take steps to revive long-stalled peace talks. The European Union which is Israel s biggest trading partner, has been a vocal critic of new Israeli settl ements and several European governments summoned their local Israeli ambassadors to lodge protests over the Israeli settlement plans. // US to reimburse Pak for supporting coalition forces on border The US has decided to reimburse 688 million dollars to Pakistan for the cost of supporting some 140,000 coaltion troops on Afghan-Pak border. With this, the US appears to have fallen back to its decades-old policy of appeasement to seek an honourable exit from war-torn Afghanistan. The Pentagon notified the Congress ab out its decision to reimburse under Coalition Support Fund, CSF. A Pentagon official said, Deputy Defence Secretary Ashton Carter wrote that the reimbursement is consistent with the national security interest of the United St ates and will not adversely affect the balance of power in the region. US offici als believe that without co-operation from Pakistan, which can reign in the terr orist networks, it would be an horrendous task to have an honourable exit from A fghanistan. They think, logistically it would require an herculean effort to bri ng back the US equipment and troops from the war-torn country without safe passa ge and support from Pakistan. // ISI has immunity as part of foreign state : US Govt in NY court in 26/11 case The US government has informed a court in New York that Pakistan's ISI and its f ormer chiefs, Ahmed Shuja Pasha and Nadeem Taj enjoy immunity in a case related to the 26/11 attacks. The case had been filed by American survivors and relative s of victims of the Mumbai terror strikes. While insisting that Pakistan must ta ke steps to dismantle LeT and support India's efforts to counter this terrorist threat, US government told the federal court that in their view, the ISI is enti tled to immunity because it is part of a foreign state within the meaning of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Stuart Delery said, the allegations relate to acts that the defendants allegedly took in their official capacities as directors of an entity that is undeniably a fundamental part of the Government of Pakistan. // Special Tribunals for all districts after inter-ministerial consultation:MoS Hom e The government today said that it will take a decision on creation of Special Tr ibunals in all 640 districts in the country after thorough examination. Replying to supplementaries in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of state for Home, Mullappally Ramachandran said, this needs to be examined in consultation with other Ministri es. Mr Ramachandran informed the House that while dealing with the case of Uphaa r fire tragedy victims, the Apex Court had suggested that the government may con sider bringing in a legislation to deal with manmade disasters. // LS passes Companies Bill 2011 to improve corporate governance The Lok Sabha has passed the Companies Bill 2011. The Bill, aimed at improving c orporate governance, contains provisions to strengthen regulations for corporate s as well as auditing firms. The Bill passed by the House late last night also m akes it mandatory for profit-making companies to spend two percent of their prof it for community welfare as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility. In ca se, a company fails to meet its social obligations, it will have to explain the

reasons for the shortfall. Introducing the Bill, Corporate Affairs Minister Sach in Pilot termed the Bill as forward looking stating that it will protect small i nvestors from corporate frauds. Mr Pilot said, the law will simplify the procedure for closure of a company. // Nepal renews survey license for India infra major GMR for hydro project Nepal Government has renewed the survey license for Indian infrastructure compan y GMR for it s Upper Karnali 900 megwawatt hydropower project in Far Western Nepal for six months. The government had first granted the survey license to GMR for the project in 2008 and the license had expired last month. The Investment Board chaired by Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai which met in Kathmandu yesterday, a lso granted permission to GMR and Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam to open their offices in India to explore markets for the power produced in Nepal. Satluj Jal Vidyut N igam is developing the 600 megawatt Arun 111 hydropower project. It also allowed GMR and it subsidiary Himtal Hydropower Company which is also developing the Up per Marsyangdi 600 megawatt hydro power project to increase their authorized and issued capital from 450 million to 1.9 billion Nepali rupees. The Investment Board looks after hydropower projects above 500 megwawatt and inf rastructure projects worth over ten billion rupees. // WB raises China growth forecast The World Bank has raised its growth forecast for China, saying stimulus measure s and approval of infrastructure projects will help boost growth. It added that the pick-up in factory output and investment suggested that China's economy was bottoming out. The bank said it now expects China's economy to grow by 8.4 per c ent in 2013, up from its earlier projection of 8.1 per cent. A slowdown in China's growth in recent months had prompted policymakers to annou nce various stimulus measures. These include two interest rate cuts since June, and the approval of infrastructure projects worth more than 150 billion dollar. The bank, in its report, said the impact of easing credit conditions and public investment in infrastructure is beginning to show and is expected to continue to be felt in 2013. // PM reviews cash transfer scheme preparedness The government has made it clear that money under its flagship Direct Cash Trans fer programme will be transferred to beneficiaries only when they provide Aadhar card and bank account number. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in a meeting in New Delhi yesterday, reviewed the preparedness for launch of the scheme. The me eting discussed ways to fine-tune coordination between Aadhar and banking system s with the beneficiaries. The meeting, attended by 16 Ministers, was told that there should be no phased r oll out within any particular district and the entire district should switch to Direct Cash Transfer at one-go on a given date. Working on the roll out on war f ooting, the government is according priority to digitisation of beneficiary data bases with names, addresses and Aadhar numbers. All Ministries are to ensure thi s immediately. It was decided that focus should be on 43 districts as eight of t he remaining 51 identified districts were not ready because of Assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. There must be 95 per cent Aadhar penetration level for all beneficiaries and ove r 95 per cent beneficiaries should have bank accounts, with all banks being Aadh ar-compliant. The scheme will cover 18 states by April next year. // S&P raises sovereign debt rating of Greece by six levels

The credit rating agecny, Standard and Poor's, has raised the sovereign debt rat ing of Greece by six levels. The Agency said, the move reflected the strong dete rmination of European countries to help Greece stay in the Euro Zone. Credit rating agencies are seen as a key gauge for the health of an economy. For months, Greece had earlier been downgraded, stuck in payment default. Now, in a significant change, it has been taken up six levels by Standard and Poor's. Tha t combined with stable outlook means the Agency's fear of Greece leaving the Eur o has subsided and it will substantially reassure the Government in Greece and t he Euro zone as a whole, severely shaken by that country's turbulence in the las t few months. // OCA bars officials suspended by IOA from participating in events The Olympic Council of Asia has barred officials of the suspended Indian Oympic Association from participating in OCA events. However, it said "as a special cas e" Indian atheltes will be allowed to take part in the OCA Games, including the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon under the IOC flag. The OCA's decision came in the wake of the suspension imposed on IOA by the Inte rnational Olympic Committee earlier this month. The OCA events in which the Indian athletes will be allowed to participate under the IOC flag are fourth Asian Indoor and Martial Art Games in Incheon, Korea fr om June 29 to July 6, 2013; second Asian Youth Games in Nanjing from August 16 t o 24, 2013; Asian Games Centennial Celebrations in Boracay Islands, Philippines, from November 25 to 27, 2013; the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, Korea from Septe mber 19 to October 4, 2014 and the fourth Asian Beach Games in Phuket from Novem ber 14 to 21, 2014. // Central African rebels seize key diamond mining town Rebels in the Central African Republic seized key diamond mining town, Bria, and began looting shops. People began to flee the town amid heavy gun fire. The arm y fought back but finally left the town and a military base in the hands of the rebels. In recent days, the rebels have seized several other towns in the North and killed at least fourteen Government soldiers. The rebels are now advancing towards the central town of Bambari, 300 kilometres north of the capital Bangui. // ICC releases Congolese militia leader; says not guilty of crimes against humanit y The International Criminal Court in The Hague has ordered the release of a Congo lese militia leader, Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, finding him not guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Court officials turned down a request from prosecu tors yesterday to keep Ngudjolo into custody pending an appeal. Ngudjolo was cha rged in connection with a 2003 massacre in a village in the eastern Democratic R epubic of Congo. // Lankan endangered flora & fauna list released in Colombo The official list of endangered Flora and Fauna of Sri Lanka was released at a f unction in Colombo by the Environment Minister Anura Yapa. Sri Lanka is designat ed as one of the World's biodiversity hotspots. Determination of the conservatio n status of species is referred to as Red Listing, and the first list was prepar ed in 1987. This year s list contains a total of 2264 threatened animal species, including 936

endemic and 3492 plant species including 943 which are endemic to the region. P rovisional checklists of lesser known groups such as the dung beetles, corals, e chinoderms, centipedes, marine fish, bivalves and gastropods are also included i n the list in order to create interest among students and scientists to venture into new areas of study. // UN report warns of lasting job crisis in West;says moderate India recovery to le ad S. Asia growth The United Nations has slashed its global growth predictions to 2.4 per cent for 2013 and 3.2 per cent for the following year and warned of a lasting employment crisis for western countries. The UN's World Economic Situation and Prospects 2 013 report warned that the debt crises in Europe and the United States and a slo wdown in China could plunge the world economy into recession. The growth predict ions are a major cut from the UN forecast of six months ago when it predicted 2. 7 per cent for 2013 and 3.9 per cent for the year after. The report said, with e xisting policies and growth trends, it may take at least another five years for Europe and the United States to make up for the job losses caused by the Great R ecession of 2008-2009. It said, Europe is trapped in a vicious cycle of debt, au sterity, low growth and high unemployment. The UN report said, growth remains meagre in t he United States, while Japan is caught in deflationary conditions and its 2013 growth is predicted at 0.6 per cent. It said, growth in southeast Asia helped su stain world trade through the recent crisis but fell to 5.5 per cent in 2012 and will only recover slightly to 6 per cent in 2013 and 6.3 per cent in 2014. The report predicted growth in South Asia averaging 5 per cent in 2013, up from 4.4 per cent in 2012, led by a moderate recovery in India. // Prez to flag off centenary celebrations of Tagore Nobel Award President Mr Pranab Mukherjee will flag off the year long centenary celebration of receiving of Nobel Prize by Rabindra Nath Tagore at Visva Bharati University in Shanti Niketan today. The president has arrived in Shanti Niketan in Birbhum district of West Bengal on a two day visit yesterday. West Bengal Governor MK Na rayanan presented the first copy of the new bilingual edition of Geetanjali to t he President at Visva Bharti University last evening. Our correspondent reports that Rabindranath Tagore was the first Indian and Asian who won the Nobel Prize for literature for his collection of verses Geetanjali in 1913. Tagore's literat ure, philosophy and thought of universal culture made him an intellectual icon s ince 20th century. The president Mr Pranab Mukherjee will lead the nation to pay homage to Gurudev Tagore on 100 years of his receiving Nobel prize. The Vishva Bharti University has also planned various programmes to mark the occasion. But on this day of celebration, the unfortunate incident of Nobel Prize theft is sti ll haunting. In March 2004, Tagore's Noble prize was theft from Rabindro Museum in Shanti Niketan and replaced with a replica. Arijit Chakroborty, AIR News, Sha nti Niketan. The President will also attend a function at Shree Vidya Sagar college at Suri i n Birbhum district from where he has graduated. // Encephalitis toll in UP mounts to 588 this year In Uttar Pradesh, the encephalitis toll this year has mounted to 588 as one more child has succumbed to the disease during past twenty four hours in BRD Medical College Hospital of Gorakhpur. One more child suffering from encephalitis has b een admitted to the hospital. Quoting official sources, our Gorakhpur correspond ent reports that this year, 3494 encephalitis patients have been admitted to dif ferent government hospitals of Gorakhpur and Basti divisions. At present, 43 pat

ients are being treated in BRD Medical College Hospital. // Goa celebrating Liberation Day today Goa is celebrating its liberation day today. Several functions are being organis ed in different parts of the state to mark the occasion. The main function will be held at Campal parade grounds at Panaji this morning, where the Chief Ministe r Manohar Parriker will unfurl the national flag and take salute of the parade. Governor BV Vanchoo has greeted the people of the occasion. Goa was liberated on December 19, 1961 after 450 years of Portuguese rule. // US blocking investment for national security reasons is discriminatory: China China says the United States' blocking of Chinese investment in the country for national security reasons is discriminatory. Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesper son Shen Danyang on Tuesday said that the US screening of foreign investment req uests is impeding Chinese companies' normal trade and investment activities, not ably their mergers and acquisitions efforts. The spokesperson said Vice Premier Wang Qishan will take up the issue at a China -US trade meeting that opens in Washington on Tuesday. US Trade Representative R on Kirk and other officials will attend the talks. China also plans to discuss U S restrictions on exports of high-tech products to China. // Indian Industry asks RBI to cut rates before January policy review Terming RBI's policy as harsh and disappointing, Indian Industry today asked the Central bank to cut interest rates before January 29 policy review to boost eco nomic growth. Industry body CII said, with the government having announced a clear roadmap for fiscal consolidation and non-food inflation demonstrating a secular decline, co nditions are conducive for RBI to have intervened with a repo and CRR reduction. FICCI said, inflation numbers should provide the Central bank comfort to begin t o consider a rate cut early in the next year. Ficci President Naina Lal Kidwai s aid, Lower interest rates would be oxygen to the sentiment which is beginning to turn positive. //

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