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National

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Sahitya Akademi Awards for 24 Booker-nominated Jeet Thayil and Bengali novelist Subrata Mukhopadhyaya were among the 24 authors selected for Sahitya Akademi Awards 2012. Twelve of the 24 awards have gone to works of poets, who include K. Sachitandandan (Malayalam – Marannu Vacha Vazhikal ), the late Bal Krishna Bhaura (Dogri – Tim-Tim Karde Tare ) and Makhan Lal Kanwal (Kashmiri – Yath Aangnaz Manz ). Thayil, has been selected for his poetry collection, These Errors are Correct , in the English category. 12 books of poetry, six short story collections, four novels and one each of autobiography and criticism were selected for the awards, two of them posthumously. The awards are given to books first published between January 2008 and December 2010. Each award carries Rs.1 lakh cash, an engraved copper plaque and a shawl. Among the poets, other winners are Guneswar Musahary (Bodo – Boro Khonthai ), Chandrakant Devtale (Hindi – Pathar Fenk Raha Hoon ), H. S. Shivaprakash (Kannada – Mabbina Haage Kabniveyassi ), Kashinath Shamba Lolienkar (Konkani – Kavyasutra ) and Darsan Buttar (Punjabi – Maha Kambani ). Aaidan Singh Bhatti (Rajasthani – Aankh Hinye Ra Hariyal Sapana ), Ramji Thakkura (Sanskrit – Laghupadhyaprhbandhatrayi ) and Krishna Kumar Toor (Urdu – Ghurfa-I-Ghalib ) are the other poets selected for the award. Assamese writer Chandana Goswami was selected for her novel Patkair Ioare More Desh, while Mukhopadhyaya was selected for his fiction Birasan . Other novelists are Jodha C. Sanasam (Manipuri – Mathou Kanba DNA ) and D. Selvaraj (Tamil – Thol ). MoU signed to develop tourist centres in Himachal, Rajasthan and Gujarat State-owned India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) and Hindustan Salts Ltd (HSL) has joined hands to develop tourism centres in Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. The memorandum of understanding (MoU), valid for three years, was signed by ITDC vice-chairman and managing director Lalit K. Panwar and Hindustan Salts Ltd chairman and managing director R.K. Tandon. In order to explore the possibilities of developing its large land bank at different locations, HSL, a subsidiary of Sambhar Salts Ltd (SSL), will undertake the development of Khara Ghoda (Gujarat), Sambhar Lake (Rajasthan) and Mandi (Himachal Pradesh) as tourist centres. Gandhians felicitated at 35th Jamnalal Bajaj Awards For the past six decades, Jaywant Mathkar has set up many Gandhian organisations across Maharashtra, helping generate employment among women and youth in the state by means of local crafts, khadi manufacturing and such small businesses. At the 35th Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation Awards held in Mumbai, Mathkar received the award for Outstanding Contribution in the field for Constructive Work. Justice C S Dharmadhikari felicitated the four awardees. Each award included a citation, a trophy and a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh. The award for Development and Welfare of Women and Children was given to Nighat Shafi, chairperson of the Human Effort for Love and Peace (HELP) foundation. Rajya Sabha passes anti-terror Bill Rajya Sabha has approved the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill to make offences that threaten India’s economic security, including circulation of counterfeit currency, a terrorist act. The Bill would cover those involved in procurement of weapons, raising funds for terrorist activities and counterfeiting Indian currency. It would also cover offences by companies, societies or trusts. That apart, courts would be given additional powers to provide for attachment or forfeiture of property equivalent to the counterfeit Indian currency involved in the offence or to the value of proceeds of terrorism involved in the offence. Committee appointed to look into demands of Marathi community The Maharashtra Government has appointed a committee, headed by a Senior Congress Minister Narayan Rane, to look into the demand of Marathi reservation in the state. The issue of Marathi reservation dominated both the houses of the Maharashtra legislature, when the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) made it clear that there was no proposal from Maharashtra regarding the demand.

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Inter-governmental:
U.S. beauty is Miss Universe Olivia Culpo, a 20-year-old Rhode Island native, beat 88 other beauty queens to be crowned as Miss Universe 2012 in a gala ceremony in Las Vegas. Philippines’ Janine Tugonon was adjudged the first runnerup followed by Venezuela’s Irene Esser. Ms. Culpo, has brought the title back to the U.S. after a decade. Brooke Lee was the last winner in 1997. Ms. Culpo was crowned by 2011 winner Leila Lopez of Angola. India’s Shilpa Singh made only to the top 16 spot. Taliban, Afghan factions meet for the first time in France The discussions among various Afghan factions including the Taliban, the Northern Alliance and government representatives held in Chantilly, a chic suburb of Paris. The ultra-secret talks have been set up by the French government which would like to play a bigger role in Afghanistan. This is the first time that Taliban representatives are in direct talks with other factions that make up the political landscape. The talks have been organised under the auspices of the government-supported think tank, Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS). The FRS explains that the principal aim of the meeting is to give the parties 48 hours in which to hold candid and free discussions on neutral territory that holds no danger. The talks will focus on the future stability of Afghanistan once NATO forces withdraw in 2014, referred to as the “2020 Horizon for Afghanistan”. UN sanctions two Iranian firms over Syria arms supplies The UN Security Council has slapped sanctions on two Iranian firms accused of involvement in supplying arms to the Syrian government.Yas Air and the SAD Import Export Company were added to a growing Iran sanctions list for breaching an arms embargo ordered against the Islamic republic for its nuclear drive.

Business & Economy:
Bihar recorded lowest per capita NSDP in 2011-12 Bihar has the lowest per capita Net State Domestic Product (NSDP) at `23,435 in 2012 among the Indian States at current prices, but highest per capita income growth, Finance Minister P Chidambaram informed the Rajya Sabha. India, ASEAN finalise FTA in services and investments India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has finalised the much-awaited free trade agreement (FTA) in services and investments. This move is likely to boost trade to $100 billion by 2015. At present, trade between India and ASEAN stands at $80 billion. Prime Minister said that following the implementation of FTA in goods, trade grew by 41 per cent in 2011-12. The FTA would also pave the way for discussions on a regional comprehensive economic partnership (RCEP) that ASEAN plans to seal with its six key trade partners, which include India. ASEAN and six partners Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand will start first-round talks on the RCEP in 2013, which are expected to form the world’s economic bloc in 2015. MCX-SX gets final clearance from SEBI MCX Stock Exchange (MCX-SX) has received the final go-ahead from regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for going live in new product segments such as equity, wholesale debt (bonds) and interest rate derivatives. Joseph Massey, MD& CEO of MCX-SX, said that out of 700 applications for new membership received by MCX-SX, a world record for an exchange before going live, 434 applications had been forwarded to SEBI for registration, after completion of documentation process and scrutiny of members. TIL launches first interest network site Times Internet has launched itimes.com, India's first interest network which empowers users to create interests or follow their favourite interests. The site has shifted its focus from general social networking towards intessrest networking centered around relevant topics and content. Individuals can use it as a platform to build a following, share knowledge and to disseminate information on topics or interests. Page 2 of 3 21st December 2012

Kashmir rail project could run into complexities Already way behind schedule, the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla-Rail Link (USBRL), aimed at connecting the Kashmir Valley with the rest of the country with an all-weather route, is likely to run into further complexities and higher cost overruns, says the Comptroller and Auditor General. CAG observed that the national project, scheduled to be completed in 2007 at an estimated cost of Rs. 3,077 crore, was now expected to be completed only in 2017-18 at a cost of Rs. 19,565 crore. The report, said poor planning resulted in time delay and cost overruns. The progress was just 12-14 per cent till July 2012. New Dreamliners for five routes Air India is drawing up plans to deploy the five new Boeing Dreamliners B-787 on the Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, Bali and Istanbul routes. At present, Air India has received three Dreamliners and five more will be received, which the Air India plans to fly to Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore, according to Aviation Minister Ajit Singh.

Sport:
Sun Group unveils name and logo of team The Sun Group, new entry into the high-profile Indian Premier League, unveiled its team name 'Sunrisers' and its logo, in the presence of former India captain Krishnamachari Srikkanth, who will be the mentor and strategic analyst, and coach Tom Moody and CEO Shanmugam. Leslie Claudius passes away India’s triple Olympic gold medallist and one of the legends of hockey, Leslie Claudius passed away after a prolonged illness. Claudius was suffering from cirrhosis of the liver. Praful chosen AIFF president Praful Patel was unanimously chosen president of the All India Football Federation (AIFF). Vice-presidents: Shrinivas V. Dempo (West), K.M.I. Mather (South), Subrata Dutta ( East), Subhash Chopra (North), Larsing Sawyan (North-East). Mithali Raj retains top spot Mithali Raj held on to the top spot in the batting list, while Jhulan Goswami was the best-placed Indian in the bowling chart after climbing a spot to third in the latest ICC ODI rankings for women cricketers. Mithali is the only Indian in the top-10 of batting after Harpreet Kaur slipped four rungs to 11th in the list. Among the bowlers, Gauhar Sultana is giving company to Jhulan in the top-10, rising one position to eighth. Amita Sharma is the highest-ranked player in the all-rounders’, steady at the seventh spot. Australia’s Meg Lanning has been rewarded for her record-breaking efforts with the bat in the Rose Bowl series against New Zealand with a jump of four places to sixth position in the rankings for batters. Australia’s Lisa Sthalekar has slipped to second position in the latest bowlers’ table, ceding the top spot to England’s Katherine Brunt. Dhoni set for hat-trick as highest individual tax payer Team India Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has paid Rs 12 crore income tax so far this fiscal and the department is optimistic that he would accomplish a hat-trick as the highest individual income taxpayer in Jharkhand. Company-wise, Central Coalfields Limited has been the highest income tax payer from Jharkhand.

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