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National

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Quota Bill passed by huge majority in RS Barring Samajwadi Party, an overwhelming majority in the Rajya Sabha passed the Bill that provides for quotas for SCs and STs in government job promotions. The Constitution amendment Bill was approved by 194 members in the 245-strong House. Nine from Samajwadi Party and an independent voted against the Bill. The Bill is now likely to be introduced and moved for consideration and passing in Lok Sabha. Kerala High Court quashes new UGC marks criteria in lecturers’ test The Kerala High Court has quashed the new qualifying criteria prescribed by the University Grants Commission (UGC) after holding the National Eligibility Test (NET) for lectureships. Justice P.R. Ramachandran Nair held that the UGC regulations did not confer any right on the UGC to fix high marks after holding of the NET. Nor could such criteria be introduced just before the announcement of the results by executive orders. The introduction of the new criteria was not supported by the law. The change of the cut-off marks at the final stage violated Article 14 of the Constitution (equality before law). The new criteria had prescribed that candidates in the general category, who had scored an aggregate of 65 per cent for all three papers, would be eligible for lectureship while OBC category candidates needed 60 per cent and the marks for candidates in the SC/ST category was 55 per cent. Rajasthan Ratna conferred Renowned artists, litterateurs and cultural icons were honoured with Rajasthan Ratna awards, the State’s highest civilian honour. The Rajasthan Ratna awards were instituted by the State Government earlier in 2012 on the lines of the Bharat Ratna. Renowned Rajasthani folk litterateur and satirist Vijay Dan Detha, distinguished author and former Parliamentarian Lakshmi Kumari Chundawat and Mohan Veena exponent Vishwa Mohan Bhatt were among those who received the awards. Cultural conservationist and chronicler Komal Kothari, famous author Kanhaiyalal Sethiya, renowned ghazal singer Jagjit Singh and distinguished folk singer Allah Jilai Bai were conferred the awards posthumously. First unit of Kudankulam plant undergoing tests The first unit (1000 MWe) of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) in Tamil Nadu is undergoing a battery of tests by engineers of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL). R.K. Sinha, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, told that the NPCIL engineers were busy, performing “high pressure and temperature tests.” The second reactor is expected to reach criticality in about six to nine months after the first unit is started up. The reactors will use enriched uranium as fuel and light water as both coolant and moderator. Russia will supply the enriched uranium for the entire life-time of the reactors. Out of the 2,000 MWe to be generated from the two reactors at Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu’s share will be 925 MWe. Karnataka will receive 442 MWe, Kerala 266 MWe, Puducherry 67 MWe and the unallocated share is 300 MWe.

International:
ASEAN-India ties to be elevated to strategic partnership Asean Economic Minister Chair and senior Commerce Minister of Cambodia Cham Prasidh has said the Association of South East Asian Nations and India are all set to elevate their ties to a strategic partnership. India became a sectoral dialogue partner of the grouping in 1992. The relationship was elevated to full dialogue partnership in 1995. Since 2002, the two sides have been holding annual summits. The framework of agreement on comprehensive economic cooperation was signed in 2003 and the agreement on trade in goods in 2009. NASA probes to crash into Moon Ebb and Flow, NASA’s twin lunar-orbiting spacecraft, that provided valuable information about structure and composition of the Moon, are scheduled to hurtle into a crater on the lunar surface at 1.7 km per second 20 seconds apart, ending a 15-month gravity-mapping mission.

Page 1 of 3 18th December 2012

Thailand’s Yingluck commits to elimination of domestic violence Even as Thailand ranks second in levels of domestic violence among 49 countries studied by the United Nations (U.N.) recently, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has reiterated her commitment to elimination and prevention of violence against women. With the U.N. study reporting that 63 per cent of the Thai population finds it acceptable for a man to hit his wife, Ms. Yingluck expressed concern at the inequality and gender discrimination that continues to be a major problem in the region. Ms. Yingluck is credited with establishing a Women’s Empowerment Fund and also launching a national campaign that reflects the community’s responsibility to guarantee a life free of violence for women and girls.

Business & Economy:
Haryana, Bhutan agree on 2,000 MW power deal Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda announced a new joint venture project in Bhutan which will give the State 1,500 to 2,000 MW of additional power within the next five years. He said Haryana is the first State in the country to have gone beyond national frontiers and signed a mutually collaborative understanding. Fortis to sell 64 % stake in Dental Corp to Bupa Fortis Healthcare has announced that it will divest 64 per cent stake in Dental Corporation Holdings (DC), Australia, for a consideration of Australian $270 million (around Rs.1,554.36 crore) by March, 2013. Fortis had entered DC in January, 2011. It has since added a considerable value to the business, growing it from 140 dental practices to 190 dental practices in Australia and New Zealand. Qatar keen on ADB’s stake in Petronet LNG Qatar has sought the intervention of the Indian Government to prevail upon GAIL (India) to give up its claim on the 5.2 per cent stake of Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Petronet LNG to enable Qatar Petroleum International (QPI) to pick up the stake sought to be disinvested by the ADB.

Sport:
AIFF forms probe panel The All India Football Federation appointed retired Supreme Court judge and chairperson of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission, A.K Ganguly, as the ‘one-man committee’ to probe and decide the fate of the abandoned 10th round I-League match between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. India clinches titles India clinched both the men’s and women’s titles defeating Pakistan and Bangladesh respectively in the IHF Trophy handball tournament in Kathmandu. Award for Messi Lionel Messi won the World Soccer ’s ‘World Player of the Year award’ for the third time, having previously clinched it in 2009 and 2011. England ends 28-year drought Twenty-eight years after an English team last won a series in India, Alastair Cook and his inspired men pulled off a well-earned and deserved 2-1 series triumph, following the drawn encounter at Nagpur. England also became the only team to have twice come back from a one-Test deficit to win a series in India. David Gower’s team was the last side from England to win a Test series in India — in 1984-85. Sergio Garcia wins Johor Open title Indian golfers SSP Chowrasia and Shiv Kapur carded 10-under 206 to finish tied 10th at the rain-shortened $2 million Iskandar Johor Open which was won by Spain's Sergio Garcia. Page 2 of 3 18th December 2012

Chen Long wins men's crown in BWF Superseries Finals Chen Long won badminton's BWF Superseries Finals by downing Chinese compatriot Du Pengyu, while China also took the women's singles and women's doubles crowns. Chen, the number two seed, bested Du 21-12, 21-13 to take home the championship.In the women's singles, Chinese Olympic champion Li Xuerui, beat countrywoman and number three seed Wang Shixian 21-9, 15-4 after Wang retired from the match. China also took the top spot in the women's doubles, where fourth seeds Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang defeated Denmark's Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl 21-16, 21-14.

Page 3 of 3 18th December 2012