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2nd December: Infrastructure & Resources 1. Transportation infrastructure: Road and Highway Networks, Mass Transit Systems, Railways, Waterways, Ports.... 2. Energy infrastructure:- Thermal Power Generation, Natural Gas Pipelines & Petroleum Pipelines, Nuclear Energy, Renewable Energy...... 3. Water management infrastructure:- Drinking water supply, Sewage Collection and Disposal of Waste water, Flood Control, Water Harwesting..... 4. Communications infrastructure:- Television and Radio Transmission, Internet, Social Network, Search Engines, Communications Satellites...... 5. Solid Waste Management 6. Economic Infrastructure: Manufacturing Infrastructure, including Industrial Parks and Special Economic zones, Agricultural, Forestry and Fisheries Infrastructure.... 7. Resources: Water Resources, Forest Resources, Land Resources, Energy Resources, Minerals, Resource Management..... 9th December: Demography : Population Composition, Density, Literacy, Sex Ratio... 16th December: Environmental Problems & Global Environmental Governance : Deforestation, Pollution: Air, Water, Land, Noise, Desertification, Biodiversity Depletion, Global Warming, SD.......

Production and productivity, Microirrigation, Urbanization, Government Initiatives...... 6th January: Indian Economy Basics, Planning & Trade 1. Industry Services, Agriculture, Energy..... 2. Balance of Payments. Foreign Direct Investment....... 3. Growth, Development and Other Issues......... 4. Poverty Estimates, Impact of Poverty........ 5. Exchange rate. Role of RBI..... 6. Nature of Planning - Five Year Plan, Planning after 1991 (LPG), Inflation..... 13th January: Governance and Contemporary Political Developments : Development Politics, Political and Administrative Institutions, Good Governance, Internal Security....

23rd December: Human Development, Social Sector Initiatives and Programmes & Policies 1. Concept of Human Development, Development vs. Growth, Human Development Index, MPI, Innovation..... 2. Social Inclusion, Child Welfare, Women Welfare.... 30th December: Agriculture, Urbanisation, Health : Agriculture and GDP, Agricultural Regionalization,

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20th January ... 27th January ... 3rd February .. 10th February . 31st March ...... 7th April ......... 14th April ....... 21st April ........

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Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013 [3]

NATIONAL
I&B Ministry Constitutes Expert Committee to Review Functioning of Prasar Bharti ensuring wider reach to a worldwide audience including creating an exclusive overseas service. Government approves amendments on Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill 2011 The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has constituted an Expert Committee for the purpose of reviewing the institutional framework of Prasar Bharati including its relationship with Government, its continuing role as a public broadcaster and measures needed to ensure technical upgradation of the organization. The Expert Committee will be headed by Shri Sam Pitroda, Advisor to the Prime Minister of India on Public Information Infrastructure & Innovations. Other members will be: Smt. Asha Swaroop; Dr. B.K. Gairola; Sh. Shekhar Kapur; Prof. M.P. Gupta; Sh. Jitendra Shankar Mathur and Shri Jawhar Sircar. The terms of reference of the Committee are as follows:-

a) To suggest measures to sustain, strengthen and amplify Prasar Bharati`s role as a Public Broadcaster with special reference to its relationship with Government in the emerging context. b) To review the status of implementation of the recommendations made by various committees that have undertaken study of Prasar Bharati, namely, the Sengupta committee, the Bakshi Committee and the Narayanamurthy committee and suggest a road map ahead for enhancing the reach and potential of Prasar Bharati. c) To suggest measures to digitize the archival material in the possession of Doordarshan (DD) and All India Radio (AIR) including material from Independence Movement era, and develop enabling infrastructure, in the form of data digitalization systems, data centers and networks etc.

d) To suggest ways of using the new media to deliver digital content - both in broadcast mode (DTH) and in a demand-based mode (Free on social media like You-Tube, and on payment through IPTV). e) To suggest a strategy for creating a network of domestic and overseas business partners for
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Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 was passed by the Lok Sabha on 27th December, 2011. The Bill was taken up for discussion and passing in the Rajya Sabha on 29.12.2011. Discussions remained inconclusive. Thereafter, the Rajya Sabha adopted a motion and referred the Bill to a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha for examination and report. The Select Committee submitted its report to the Rajya Sabha. The Union Cabinet has approved the proposals submitted by the Department of Personnel & Training for moving official amendments to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011, as suggested by the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha. Salient features of amendments to lokpal and lokayuktas bill 2011 approved by the cabinet are as below:a) Collegium for Selection of Lokpal: The Bill provides for selection of Members of Lokpal by a Selection Committee comprising the Prime Minister, Speaker (Lok Sabha), Leader of Opposition (Rajya Sabha), Cheif Justice of India or a Supreme Court judge nominated by CJI and an eminent jurist nominated by the President. The Select Committee has recommended that the fifth member of the Selection Committee (i.e., eminent jurist) may be nominated by the President on the basis of recommendation of the first four members of the Selection Committee. Government has accepted this recommendation. b) Jurisdiction over bodies receiving donations from public: The Select Committee has recommended exclusion of bodies and institutions receiving donations from the public from the purview of Lokpal. Government has decided to exempt only such bodies or authorities established, constituted or appointed by or under any Central or State or Provincial Act providing for administration of public religious or charitable trusts or endowments or

societies for religious or charitable purposes registered under the societies Registration Act. Other non governmental bodies receiving donation from the public would thus remain within the purview of Lokpal. c) Power to order investigation straight away: Select Committee has recommended that the Lokpal should be given power to order an investigation straightaway (without first ordering a preliminary inquiry) in case Lokpal finds that a prima facie case exists. Government has accepted this recommendation subject to the modification that the Lokpal should, before coming to a conclusion that there exists a prima facie case for entrusting the matter for investigation, call for the explanation of the public servant and then decide whether there exists a prima facie case for ordering investigation.

The setting up of a Directorate of prosecution headed by a Director of Prosecution under the overall control of Director, CBI;

II. The appointment of the Director of Prosecution on the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission; III. Maintenance of a panel of advocates by CBI, other than the Government Advocates, with the consent of the Lokpal for handling Lokpal referred cases; IV. Provision of adequate funds to CBI for investigating cases referred by Lokpal; V. Transfer of officers of CBI investigating cases referred by Lokpal with the approval of Lokpal. Government has decided to accept all these recommendations except the last one, i.e., seeking approval of Lokpal for transfer of officers of CBI investigating cases referred by the Lokpal, which is proposed not to be accepted as it would affect the smooth functioning of the CBI. Other salient features of the Bill a) Powers of supervision over CBI : The Bill confers powers of superintendence on the Lokpal over the Delhi Special Police Establishment (CBI) in respect of matters referred by the Lokpal for inquiry/investigation. b) Appointment of Director, CBI: A high powered Committee chaired by the Prime Minister will recommend selection of the Director, CBI. c) Attachment/confiscation of ill-gotten property: The Bill contains provisions for attachment/ confiscation of property acquired by corrupt means, even while prosecution is pending.

d) Opportunity of Hearing to public servant: The Select Committee has recommended that the seeking of comments from the public servant during the preliminary inquiry by the investigating agency should not be mandatory [clause 20 (2)]. Committee has also recommended that the opportunity of hearing by Lokpal before ordering investigation may be dispensed with [clause 20 (3)]. The affording of an opportunity to the public servant and to the government/competent authority at the preliminary inquiry stage and before ordering formal investigation would help clear doubts in several cases and would substantially reduce the number of cases going for regular investigation. Therefore, Government has decided not to accept this recommendation of the Select Committee and move an official amendment for the purpose. e) Power to order prosecution of public servants: The Select Committee has recommended that the power to grant sanction for prosecution of public servants could be shifted to the Lokpal in place of the Government. The Select Committee has also recommended that Lokpal may be required to seek comments of the competent authority and the public servant before taking such decision. Government has decided to accept this recommendation of the Select Committee. f) Strengthening of CBI: The Select Committee has recommended a number of amendments in the Bill for strengthening the CBI. These include-

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Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013 [5]

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d) Enhancement of punishments under Prevention of Corruption Act: The Bill proposes to enhance punishments under Prevention of Corruption Act: i) Maximum punishment from 7 years to 10 years ii) Minimum punishment from 6 months to 2 years. Executive Committee on Climate Change constituted

The implementation of eight missions to fight climate change were in poor condition as there was no inter-ministerial coordination, thus Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has constituted a secretary level panel to assist the PM's council on

climate change in implementing the eight missions to fight climate change. The committee will be headed by principal secretary to Prime Minister Pulok Chatterji. The Executive Committee on Climate Change would focus on the following tasks: a) Assist the PM's Council on Climate Change in evolving a coordinated response to issues relating to climate change at the National level. b) Regularly monitor the implementation of the eight national missions and other initiatives on Climate Change. c) Advise the PM's Council on Climate Change on modifications in the objectives, strategies and structure of the missions, as may be necessary.

National Green Tribunal bans throwing of debris into Yamuna

With a view to cleaning the Yamuna, the National Green Tribunal has restrained anybody, person or authority from throwing debris of any kind, including solid wastes, on the banks of the Yamuna or the water body near the grand old river. A Full Bench of the Tribunal, comprising its Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, judicial member Justice P. Jyotimani and expert members D.K. Agrawal, G.K. Pandey and A.R. Yousuf, passed this order after hearing counsel for various parties. Even private parties are throwing debris on the river bank, on the basis of the principle of 'polluter pays' it will be in the interest of justice that these authorities are directed to recover amounts spent for removal of debris which are thrown by the private persons, from them. According to the judgement "persons" will include a company, partnership, sole proprietorship and individuals. All these authorities should exercise their statutory powers and not only preventing all persons throwing debris on the river bank, but even require them to pay for the purposes of removal of debris which are thrown by them. This shall be in the discretion of the authorities and will be implemented upon compliance with the principle of natural justice. Further the Bench has issued the following directions: The State of Uttar Pradesh, DDA, Government of NCT Delhi and East Delhi Municipal Corporation shall forthwith start removing debris from the river bank of Yamuna and the water body. The construction and other materials shall be removed to other identified sites. In the event no sites have been identified by any authority, all the Corporations and the DDA, State of Uttar Pradesh and the NCT of Delhi will have to notify within two weeks of notification the sites for dumping of debris. In the event of no site being available, as temporary measure all the above public Authorities/ Corporations and State of Uttar Pradesh shall start removing debris and bring them to the end of 'highest flood level' of river Yamuna. The stored debris shall be converted into a wall at that end point. It would prevent unauthorised entry, flood and prevent pollution of the Yamuna. New health scheme launched for rural kids in Uttar Pradesh

d) Co-ordinate with various agencies on issues relating to climate change.

The Chairman of the Executive Committee on Climate Change will be the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests will be the MemberConvenor. Other members of the Committee include Cabinet Secretary, Finance Secretary, Secretary, Planning Commission, Secretary, Ministry of Power, Secretary, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, Secretary, Water Resources, Secretary, Department of Science & Technology, Secretary, Department of Agriculture & co-operation, Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research & Education, Secretary, Department of Earth Sciences, Secretary, Ministry of Coal, Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs. The Chairman of Executive Committee on Climate Change may invite any other officer/Expert to the meetings as may be necessary. The PM's Council on Climate Change and the Executive Committee on Climate Change would be serviced by Ministry of Environment and Forests. The Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change was constituted in 2007, in order to co-ordinate National Action for Assessment, Adaptation and Mitigation of Climate Change. The National Action Plan of Climate Change (NAPCC) was released by the Prime Minister in June 2008. Under the NAPCC, with the approval of PM's Council on Climate Change, eight national missions are being implemented.
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Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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The UP government has launched a new scheme "Aashirvad Child Health Guarantee Scheme" for the

health care of over six crore children in the age group of two years to 18 years living in the rural areas of Uttar Pradesh. It will be implemented under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). Regular health check-ups, diagnosis and treatment of ailments form the core of the ambitious programme of the Samajwadi Party government. According to the 2011 Census, U.P.'s population was around 20 crore, of which about 8.5 crore children were in the 2-to-8-years age group. This included around 6 crore kids residing in the rural and far flung areas where health facilities are negligible. Studies have revealed that about 50 per cent of the rural children in this age bracket suffer from malnutrition and were anaemic. The scheme will be implemented in three phases. The first phase will cover children studying in primary and secondary schools in the rural areas. In the second phase children from Class 1 to 12 in government and government-aided schools, informal education schools, schools run by the Labour and Social Welfare departments, juvenile reform homes and Aanganbari schools will be covered. The third phase will cover children not going to school, including the kids living with their parents at construction sites, brick kilns and those belonging to the families of gypsies.

at 44, with the picture in rural areas worse than in urban settings. Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim and Nagaland account for 50 per cent of the total grant. Maharashtra, Punjab and Tamil Nadu account for another Rs. 400 crore, and the remaining money is distributed among the rest of the States and Union Territories. Manipur, with an IMR of 11 per 1,000 live births, will receive the highest amount of Rs. 458 crore, followed by Tamil Nadu that gets Rs. 168 crore. The IMR of Tamil Nadu is 22. Among the smaller States, Meghalaya will get Rs. 6.2 crore, Mizoram Rs. 3.13 crore, Nagaland will get Rs. 159 crore, Sikkim Rs. 150 crore and Tripura Rs. 84 crore. As for big States, Maharashtra will get Rs. 133 crore, Punjab Rs. 106 crore, Karnataka will receive Rs. 53 crore, West Bengal Rs. 26 crore and Uttarakhand Rs. 42 crore. The grant is payable to the States based on the data available in the Sample Registration System Survey of 2009 and 2012. Only 11 States and Union Territories have achieved the MDG as far as IMR is concerned. Of these, only three bigger States Maharashtra, Kerala and Delhi - have been able to achieve the target. Strengthen RTE guidelines discrimination: NAC to end

For better health care facilities 54 digital X-ray machines, 118 coloured ultrasound machines, 20 Xray machines and 33 operation machines for orthopaedic operations would be installed in the government hospitals. Further 100 X-ray machines, 99 ultrasound machines and 455 ECG (electro cardiogram ) machines would be provided to different community health centres. Cash incentives to States for lower neonatal deaths

To achieve the millennium development goal (MDG) of 28 per 1,000 live births by 2015, the Ministry of Finance has approved the release of incentive grant-in-aid for reduction in the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) during 2012-13. The Rs. 1,500crore incentive will be given to the States that have made impressive reduction in the IMR between 2009 and 2011. This has been done on the recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission. Despite making huge achievements, India is unlikely to reach the international target of reducing infant mortality rate, set by the United Nations in 2000, considering that in 2011 the national IMR stood
Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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The Working Group, headed by Farah Naqvi, has recommended that The Right to Education Act's guidelines need to be strengthened to help end discrimination in schools, whether based on caste, religion, gender, disability, class or language, by setting up an effective grievance redress and monitoring machinery. According to the Working Group, the Human Resource Development Ministry should ask the States to establish a monitoring and grievance redress architecture from local to the State and National levels; that the Ministry, along with the States, institutionalize mechanisms for dialogue and mediation that ensures the participation of all stakeholders in resolving grievances, individual and systemic; and make provisions for capacitybuilding of all personnel involved with this task while creating inter-ministerial coordination mechanisms at the Centre and the State level for better convergence. The Working Group also wants the Ministry of Women and Child Development to strengthen the

National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and the State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) by undertaking institutional reform measures within the SCPCRs and augmenting both human and financial resources. It has also suggested reforms in teacher education and training for preparing and training teachers to handle discrimination and engaging with issues of identity, diversity, processes of social exclusion and inclusion. Grievance redress, it feels, should be done as far as possible in a non-adversarial manner through dialogue, training of school management committees and local authorities on discrimination and by evolving a time-bound and confidential way of resolution, in which civil society groups could be involved. However, if the non-adversarial route does not work, then it wants punitive action taken. ADB $100 million Loan to Provide Sustainable Urban Services in Five Uttarakhand Towns

and will be extended to cover in addition Haldwani, Roorkee and Ramnagar towns specially for improving the water supply infrastructure that will benefit about 800,000 residents. A comprehensive sewerage system will also be developed under the project, which will provide improved sanitation facilities to about 100,000 residents of Roorkee town. The project will address this objective and help alleviate infrastructure deficiencies, tap economic potential, and improve the living environment. The project will improve the quality life and employment opportunities for the people living in five project towns. It will also improve the ability of participating institutions to manage sector reforms and deliver better services. The contribution of tourism in the state economy is significant, so upgrades to key infrastructure will also help draw visitors and generate more employment opportunities. The second tranche loan from the ADB's Ordinary Capital Resources has a 25-year term including a grace period of five years, commitment charges of 0.15% and interest rate to be determined in accordance with ADB's LIBOR-based lending facility. The Government of India will provide counterpart funds of $42.86 million for a total second tranche project investment cost of $142.86 million. Asian Development Bank, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members - 48 from the region.

Government of India has signed an agreement for a $100 million loan with Asian Development Bank (ADB) as second tranche of Uttarakhand Urban Sector Development Investment Program which will support rehabilitation and expansion of basic urban infrastructure in five major urban centers of Uttarakhand and ensure sustainable municipal service delivery. The project will supplement the urban infrastructure program already initiated under the first tranche in Dehradun, Haridwar and Nainital

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[ 8 ] Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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INTERNATIONAL
World Press Freedom Index 2013 The Press Freedom Index is an annual ranking of countries compiled and published by Reporters Without Borders based upon the organization's assessment of the countries' press freedom records in the previous year. A smaller score in the index corresponds to greater freedom of the press. This year's index is a better reflection of the attitudes and intentions of governments towards media freedom in the medium or long term. For the third year running, Finland has distinguished itself as the country that most respects media freedom. It is followed by the Netherlands and Norway. Although many criteria are considered, ranging from legislation to violence against journalists, democratic countries occupy the top of the index while dictatorial countries occupy the last three positions. Again it is the same three as last year - Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea. governments in their entirety as regards this key freedom In view of the emergence of new technologies and the interdependence of governments and peoples, the freedom to produce and circulate news and information needs to be evaluated at the planetary as well as national level. Today, in 2013, the media freedom "indicator" stands at 3395, a point of reference for the years to come. The indicator can also be broken down by region and, by means of weighting based on the population of each region, can be used to produce a score from zero to 100 in which zero represents total respect for media freedom. This produces a score of 17.5 for Europe, 30.0 for the Americas, 34.3 for Africa, 42.2 for Asia-Pacific and 45.3 for the former Soviet republics. Despite the Arab springs, the Middle East and North Africa region comes last with 48.5. The high number of journalists and netizens killed in the course of their work in 2012 (the deadliest year ever registered by Reporters Without Borders in its annual roundup), naturally had a significant impact on the ranking of the countries where these murders took place, above all Somalia (175th, -11), Syria (176th, 0), Mexico (153rd, -4) and Pakistan (159th, -8). ICJ asked Britain to explain acquisition of Diego Garcia

India has dropped nine places to 140th rank in the list of 179 countries because of increasing impunity for violence against journalists and because Internet censorship continues to grow. It is the lowest for the "world's biggest democracy" since 2002. China (173rd, +1) shows no sign of improving. Its prisons still hold many journalists and netizens, while increasingly unpopular Internet censorship continues to be a major obstacle to access to information. The Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted. In dictatorships, news providers and their families are exposed to ruthless reprisals, while in democracies news providers have to cope with the media's economic crises and conflicts of interest.

Coinciding with the release of its 2013 Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders for the first time has published an annual global "indicator" of worldwide media freedom. This new analytic tool measures the overall level of freedom of information in the world and the performance of the world's
Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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In a blow to the British government, the International Court of Justice in The Hague has asked Britain to explain its decision to acquire the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean from Mauritius in 1965 and sub-lease its biggest island Diego Garcia to the US, much to India's discomfort, especially during the 1971 Indo-Pak war when Washington tilted in favour of Islamabad. Diego Garcia is used by long range bombers belonging to the US Air Force and a staging post for missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The hearing will be on the basis of the UN law of the sea; and the final verdict will be binding on Britain. After purchasing the Chagos archipelago, of which Diego Garcia is a part, Britain forcibly evicted around 1,500 islanders - deporting them to Mauritius and Seychelles - to pave the way for the US base. The deportation of Chagos islanders is a matter of

alleged human rights violation and legal battles in British courts. A defeat for Britain at the ICJ could result in a return of the islanders to their original habitat. UK's flourishing tongues: Punjabi, Bengali, Gujarati

The 2011 Census conducted by UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) has for the first time tried to see how well the population could speak English when this was not their main language. It showed English remained the main language for 92% (50m) residents aged 3 and over. The remaining 8% (4m) had a different main language, but most were proficient in English. The second most reported main language in England and Wales was Polish (1% - 546,000).

in Zangmu in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), which began to be built in 2010. One of the three approved new dams is bigger than the Zangmu project. A 640 MW dam will be built in Dagu, which lies 18 km upstream of Zangmu. Another 320 MW dam will be built at Jiacha, also on the middle reaches of the Brahmaputura downstream of Zangmu. A third dam will be built at Jiexu, 11 km upstream of Zangmu. The capacity of the Jiexu dam is, as yet, unconfirmed. The three projects were listed in the State Council's energy plan for the Twelfth Five Year Plan period (2011-15), which was released on January 23. The catchment area at the dam site, according to the Huadong Engineering Corporation, is 157,400 square kilometres, and the average annual discharge is 1010 cubic metres per second. The dam will be built with a height of 124 metres and 640 MW capacity. The construction of the Zangmu dam in 2010 had triggered concerns in India regarding possible impact on downstream flows. Chinese officials, however, assured their Indian counterparts that the project was only a run-of-theriver hydropower station, which would not divert the Brahmaputra's waters. The government has also built at least six smaller hydropower projects on the Yarlung Zangbo's tributaries which will have no impact on downstream flows. The government has, for now, shelved a longdiscussed plan to divert the Yarlung Zangbo's waters to the arid north, citing technical difficulties. The plan is part of the proposed Western route of the massive South-to-North diversion project, on which construction is yet to begin. However, with the three new approvals under the energy plan, four hydropower projects will now be built - all located within a few dozen kilometres of each other - on the main stream of the middle reaches of the Brahmaputra. While they are run-of-the-river projects, they will be required to store large volumes of water for generating power. Their construction is likely to trigger fresh concerns in India on how the flows of the Brahmaputra downstream will be impacted. China gets Pakistan's strategic Gwadar port Pakistan's cabinet formally agreed to hand over the operation of its strategically located Gwadar port from Singapore's PSA (Port of Singapore Authority) International to China's Overseas Port Holdings. This puts in place China's famed "string of pearls" strategy which may have significant implications for India.
Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

For the first time three Indian tongues figured in the list of top six spoken languages spoken in Britain, with Punjabi being the third most common language used in England and Wales, after English and Polish. It is spoken by 2.73 lakh people. Bengali is the fifth commonest language followed by Gujarati, jointly spoken by 4.34 lakh people in England and Wales. Tamil took 12th spot with just over a lakh people using it as the main spoken language.

The top 10 languages included English, Polish, Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Arabic, French, Chinese and Portuguese. The census revealed there were 49 main languages (spoken by groups of more than 15,000 people). The top 20 included five South Asian languages and nine European. Interestingly, 22,000 people used sign language. Of the 4 million residents aged 3 and over with a main language other than English, 1.7 million could speak English very well, 1.6 million well, and 726,000 not well. The remaining 138,000 could not speak English at all. China gives go-ahead Brahmaputra dams for three new

China has given the go-ahead for the construction of three new hydropower dams on the middle reaches of the Brahmaputra River, ending a two-year halt in approving new projects on the river amid concerns from India and environmental groups. China has, so far, only begun construction on one major hydropower dam on the main stream of the middle reaches of the Brahmaputra or Yarlung Zangbo as it is known in China - a 510 MW project
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In 2011, the Pakistani defence minister had announced in Beijing that Islamabad would transfer ownership to a Chinese company. China had demurred then, but despite the worsening security situation in Balochistan, the Chinese have apparently agreed to take it over. Gwadar was built by China but during its operation by PSA, it barely attracted any commercial traffic. There is also a lot of port development that remains to be built. Pakistan expects China to complete that construction in record time, given its past performance. More than that, Pakistan expects China to turn Gwadar into a naval base. For China, Gwadar could also be a conduit for energy flows into northwestern China, by transporting oil and gas from the port through pipelines that traverse Balochistan and the federal agencies to feed into China's Xinjiang province. As China's oil imports increase, it would prefer to insulate its energy flows from the turbulent waters of the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea. As China moves into the Indian Ocean, Gwadar port would be ideal as a staging ground for Chinese ships. China already has a steady presence in Sri Lanka's Hambantota port, it is wooing Maldives, though no port presence is planned yet. China is also building a port in Chittagong, Bangladesh, as well as Sonadiya, near Cox's Bazar. From the security point of view, India could find itself considerably constrained. New United Nations report calls Israeli settlements in Palestinian areas 'illegal'

occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem." The report states that settlements are established and developed for the exclusive benefit of Israeli Jews. They are maintained and advanced through a system of total segregation between the settlers and the rest of the population living in the OPT. This system of segregation is supported and facilitated by strict military and law enforcement control to the detriment of the rights of the Palestinian population. The report further states that Israel is committing serious breaches of its obligations under the right to self-determination and under humanitarian law. The magnitude of violations relating to Israel's policies of dispossessions, evictions, demolitions and displacements from land shows the widespread nature of these breaches of human rights. The motivation behind violence and intimidation against the Palestinians and their properties is to drive the local populations away from their lands, allowing the settlements to expand. About 250 settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem have been established since 1967 either with or without Government authorization. The number of settlers is estimated at 520,000 (200,00018 in East Jerusalem and 320,000 in the rest of the West Bank. Over the past decade the settler population has grown at a much higher rate than the population in Israel itself with a yearly average growth of 5.3 per cent (excluding East Jerusalem), compared to 1.8 per cent in Israel. The establishment of the settlements in the West Bank including East Jerusalem is described by the report as "a mesh of construction and infrastructure leading to a creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian State and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination". The Mission also reported the continuing cases of violence by settlers against native Palestinians, including "physical assaults on the person, the use of knives, axes, clubs and other improvised weapons, as well as shootings and throwing Molotov cocktails". Between 1 July 2011 and 30 June 2012, Israeli settlers injured 147 Palestinians, including 34 children. Settler attacks on schools and harassment of children on their way to school is showing an upward trend since 2010.
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The report of the International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) states that a multitude of the human rights of the Palestinians are violated in various forms and ways due to the existence of the settlements. These violations are all interrelated, forming part of an overall pattern of breaches that are characterized principally by the denial of the right to self-determination and systemic discrimination against the Palestinian people which occur on a daily basis. Thus an independent inquiry mandated by the United Nations has called on Israel to halt all settlement activity and to ensure accountability for the violations of the human rights of the Palestinians resulting from the settlements. The UN Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, dispatched the Mission in March 2012 "to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the
Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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One of the primary sources of livelihood for the Palestinian farmers is olives. To harass and hurt this valuable asset, Israeli settlers often target the olive trees. From 2005 to 2012 Yesh Din, a local NGO, monitored 162 investigations into vandalism against Palestinian trees with only one investigation leading to an indictment. Figures for 2012 (until mid-October) show that during this period over 7,500 trees were damaged or destroyed by settlers. The Mission also reported the wide spread policy of the Israelis to prevent Palestinians from going to their mosques or practicing holy rituals. Iran unveils domestically built-fighter jet

manufactured fighter-bomber that can even evade radar. The Qaher is one of several aircraft designs rolled out by the Iranian military since 2007. Qaher-313 is a fully indigenous aircraft designed and built by our aerospace experts. This is a radar-evading plane that can fly at low altitude, carry weapons, and engage enemy aircrafts and land at short airstrips The Islamic republic launched a self-sufficiency military programme in the 1980s to compensate for a Western weapons embargo that banned export of military technology and equipment to Iran. Since 1992, Iran has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles, torpedoes, drones and fighter planes.

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[12] Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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Iran has unveiled its newest combat jet the Qaher-313, or Dominant-313, a domestically

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Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013 [13]

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[14] Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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ECONOMY
India launches G2B portal for business related information that banks have to park with RBI, would improve the availability of funds. Following the repo rate revision, the other policy rates like reverse repo, bank rate, and Marginal Standing Facility Rate too will come down by 0.25 per cent. These initiatives are aimed at encouraging investments, supporting growth and anchoring inflationary expectations. Inflation has been the prime inhibiting factor that has prevented the RBI from cutting repo rate in the last nine months. The RBI, however, has reduced the growth projections for the current financial year to 5.5 per cent from its earlier estimate of 5.8 per cent. On inflation, it moderated the rate to 6.8 per cent for March-end from earlier projection of 7.5 per cent. What is CRR? India ranks a poor 132nd among 185 countries in the International Finance Corporation's Ease of Doing Business index. Smaller countries, including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal have ranked higher in the index. To improve the business environment, India has launched its first Government-to-business portal to provide a round-the-clock, secure, one-stop-shop for all investment and business related information under the National eGovernance Plan.

This mission mode project will mark a paradigm shift in the Government's approach to providing G2B services for India's investor and business communities. The portal has been developed by Infosys in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. The project aims to create a business and investorfriendly ecosystem in India by making all business and investment related regulatory services across Central, State and local Governments available on a single portal, thereby obviating the need for an investor or a business to visit multiple offices or a plethora of Web sites. eBiz will create a 24x7 facility for information and services and will also offer joined-up services where a single application submitted by a customer for a number of permissions, clearances, approvals and registrations will be routed automatically across multiple governmental agencies in a logical manner. An inbuilt payment gateway will also add value by allowing all payments to be collected at one point and then apportioned, split and routed to the respective heads of account of central/ State along with generation of challans and MIS reports. RBI cuts policy rates by 0.25 pc

After a long gap of nine months, the Reserve Bank (RBI) has reduced the short-term lending rate by 0.25 per cent to 7.75 per cent and Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) by similar margin to 4 per cent thus released Rs 18,000 crores primary liquidity into the system. While repo rate cut will reduce the cost of borrowing for individuals and corporates, the reduction in CRR, which is the portion of deposits
Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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What is SLR?

Cash reserve Ratio (CRR) is the amount of funds that the banks have to keep with RBI. If RBI decides to increase the per cent of this, the available amount with the banks comes down. RBI is using this method (increase of CRR rate), to drain out the excessive money from the banks.

Statutory Liquidity Ratio is the amount of liquid assets, such as cash, precious metals or other approved securities, that a financial institution must maintain as reserves other than the Cash with the Central Bank What is Repo and Reverse Repo rate? A repurchase agreement is the sale of securities together with an agreement for the seller to buy back the securities at a later date. The repurchase price should be greater than the original sale price, the difference effectively representing interest, called the repo rate. The party that originally buys the securities effectively acts as a lender. The original seller is effectively acting as a borrower, using their security as collateral for a secured cash loan at a fixed rate of interest. A reverse repo is simply the same repurchase agreement from the buyer's viewpoint, not the

seller's. Hence, the seller executing the transaction would describe it as a "repo", while the buyer in the same transaction would describe it a "reverse repo". So "repo" and "reverse repo" are exactly the same kind of transaction, just described from opposite viewpoints. The term "reverse repo and sale" is commonly used to describe the creation of a short position in a debt instrument where the buyer in the repo transaction immediately sells the security provided by the seller on the open market. New Norms to judge PSUs merit for taking part in coal mine auction released

The proposed technical committee's recommendations would then be placed before an Inter Ministerial Panel, headed by Coal Secretary, for its final decision. The Coal Ministry's move is understood to have followed government auditor CAG's report estimating a whopping Rs 1.86 lakh crore potential loss to the exchequer due to allotment of blocks to 57 private firms without auction. First Revised Estimates of National Income, Consumption Expenditure, Saving and Capital Formation, 2011-12

The new eligibility criteria include: Demandsupply deficit, plant location and progress made in earlier awarded block, mining capability and the company's financials. The eligibility would be judged on a parameter of 20 marks in which the highest weightage of seven points has been given to demand-supply gap of the unit followed by five each on its financials and progress made in the earlier awarded block. The remaining three is for its mining capability.

As far as the marks with respect to demandsupply gap, this will not be applicable for central PSUs i.e. Ministry of Power, will provide the deficit position based on Central Electricity Authority derived norms to be confirmed by Ministry of Power/Planning Commission, as the case may be. Demand-supply deficit of the state PSUs has to be verified by the competent authority of the state government. If required, this may be referred to Planning Commission for their comments. After carrying out the scrutiny, a task force constituted by Coal India arm CMPDIL will prepare a comprehensive status incorporating details, coal block-wise and applicant-wise, to be submitted to the Coal Ministry. Coal Ministry will then seek various stakeholders' views including state governments and concerned ministries. CMPDIL's observations would again be reviewed by the Coal Ministry which would place it for reviewing before a technical committee, to be constituted with members drawn from Ministry of Power and Steel, Central Electricity Authority, DIPP and Planning Commission.
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Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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Embroiled in controversy over the allocation of mines, the Coal Ministry has charted out a new set of guidelines to evaluate applications from government firms for assessing eligibility for taking part in competitive bidding.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has released the First Revised estimates of National Income, Consumption Expenditure, Saving and Capital Formation for the financial year 2011-12. The salient features of the estimates at aggregate level, which are based on latest available information, are indicated below: GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT AND GROSS NATIONAL INCOME Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at factor cost at constant (2004-05) prices in 2011-12 is estimated at ` 52,43,582 crore as against ` 49,37,006 crore in 201011 registering a growth of 6.2 per cent during the year as against a growth of 9.3 per cent in the year 2010-11. At current prices, GDP in 2011-12 is estimated at ` 83,53,495 crore as against ` 72,66,967 crore in 2010-11, showing an increase of 15.0 per cent during the year, as against an increase of 19.0 per cent in the previous year. At constant (2004-05) prices, the Gross National Income at factor cost in 2011-12 is estimated at ` 51,96,848 crore as against ` 48,82,249 crore in 201011 showing a rise of 6.4 per cent during the year, as against an increase of 8.8 per cent in the previous year. At current prices, the Gross National Income in 2011-12 is estimated at ` 82,76,665 crore as compared to ` 71,85,160 crore in 2010-11, showing a rise of 15.2 per cent during the year, as against an increase of 18.4 per cent in the previous year. The growth rate of 6.2 per cent in the GDP during 2011-12 has been achieved due to growth in financing, insurance, real estate & business services (11.7%), transport, storage and communication (8.4%), electricity, gas & water supply (6.5%) and trade, hotels & restaurants (6.2%). At constant prices, the primary sector, i.e. agriculture, forestry & fishing has shown a growth of 3.6 per cent during 2011-12 as against 7.9 per cent during the year 2010-11. The

growth of secondary sector is 3.5 per cent and that of service sector is 8.2 per cent during 2011-12, as against a growth of 9.2 per cent and 9.8 per cent, respectively, in the previous year. CONSUMPTION EXPENDITURE, SAVING AND CAPITAL FORMATION As various components of expenditure on Gross Domestic Product, namely, Consumption Expenditure and Capital Formation, are normally measured at market prices. PRIVATE FINAL CONSUMPTION EXPENDITURE Private Final Consumption Expenditure (PFCE) at current prices is estimated at ` 50,56,219 crore in 2011-12 as against ` 43,49,889 crore in 2010-11. At constant (2004-05) prices, the PFCE is estimated at ` 33,34,900 crore in 2011-12 as against ` 30,88,880 crore in 2010-11. In terms of GDP at market prices, the rates of PFCE at current and constant (2004-05) prices during 2011-12 are estimated at 56.3 per cent and 59.2 per cent, respectively, as against the corresponding rates of 55.8 per cent and 58.3 per cent, respectively in 2010-11. DOMESTIC SAVING

corresponding estimates at constant (2004-05) prices are ` 27,745 and ` 26,045, registering an increase of 6.5% in 2011-12, as against an increase of 7.1% in the previous year. CST issue between Centre and States resolved

The Centre and states have resolved the contentious issue of Central Sales Tax compensation with the states; agreeing for a lower payment of Rs 34,000 crore for phasing out the Central Sales Tax, a precondition for rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). CST, a tax imposed on the interstate movement of goods, was reduced from 4% to 3% in 2007-08 and further to 2% in 2008-09 after the introduction of value-added tax (VAT). The centre had then promised the states that it would bear losses due to reduction of CST. The Empowered Committee set up by finance minister P Chidambaram to resolve the CST issue had suggested that the payment of Rs 34,000 crore be made to the states towards losses on account of phasing out of CST. According to the resolution the Centre would bear 100% of the loss accrued to states in 2010-11 fiscal on account of lowering of CST. However, for 2011-12 and 2012-13 fiscal, the Centre would give 75% and 50% of the losses to the states. The CST will be phased out totally after the introduction of GST, which was originally scheduled to be launched from April 2010. The GST rollout has missed several deadlines on account of differences over contentious issue of CST compensation and design of the GST structure between the states and the Centre. Introduced in the Lok Sabha in March 2011, GST Constitution Amendment Bill is with the standing committee on finance. Cabinet clears revival package for Scooters India

Gross Domestic Saving (GDS) at current prices in 2011-12 is estimated at ` 27,65,291 crore as against ` 26,51,934 crore in 2010-11, constituting 30.8% of GDP at market prices as against 34.0% in the previous year. The decrease in the rate of GDS has mainly been due to the decrease in the rates of financial savings of household sector from 10.4% to 8.0%, private corporate sector from 7.9% to 7.2% and that of public sector from 2.6% to 1.3% in 2011-12 as compared to 2010-11. ESTIMATES AT PER CAPITA LEVEL

The per capita income (per capita Net National Income at factor cost) in real terms, i.e. at 2004-05 prices, is estimated at ` 38,037 for 2011-12 as against ` 36,342 in 2010-11, registering an increase of 4.7 per cent during the year, as against an increase of 7.2% during the previous year. The per capita income at current prices is estimated at ` 61,564 in 2011-12 as against ` 54,151 for the previous year depicting a growth of 13.7 per cent, as against an increase of 17.1% during the previous year. The per capita PFCE at current prices in 2011-12 is estimated to be ` 42,065 as against ` 36,677 in the year 2010-11, showing an increase of 14.7% as against an increase of 15.7% in the previous year. The
Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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The Cabinet has approved the Rs 200-crore revival package for ailing public sector unit (PSU) Scooters India (SIL) on the recommendation of the Department of Heavy Industry. In 2011, the Cabinet had given approval to divesting government's entire 95.38 per cent stake in Scooters India to a private player through strategic route. But the Department of Heavy Industry had put on hold the strategic sale of ailing public-sector unit SIL.

Incorporated in 1972, SIL initially manufactured scooters under the brand name Vijai Super for the domestic market and Lambretta for overseas markets. Later, it ventured into the three-wheeler segment with the Vikram brand. In 1997, it stopped two-wheeler production and is now engaged in the manufacture and marketing of only three-wheelers. The automobile company, which has about 1,200 regular employees, has been incurring losses since 2002-03. In March 2009, the company was declared sick. SIL's net loss (before tax) stood at about Rs 20 crore during the 2011-12 fiscal. Growth hits 9-year low in 2011-12

The CSO had in February last year estimated GDP growth for 2011-12 at 6.9 per cent, but revised it later to 6.5 per cent in May. The downward revision of GDP estimate for 2011-12 could be attributed to the scaling down of services growth from 8.9 per cent to 8.2 per cent earlier. CSO has, however, raised agriculture and industry growth estimate to 3.6 per cent and 3.5 per cent, respectively. Agriculture was earlier estimated to have grown by 2.8 per cent and industry by 3.4 per cent. The CSO has also pegged the 2011-12 gross domestic savings at 30.8 per cent of GDP as compared to 34 per cent a year ago. Along with the first revised estimate for 201112, the CSO also came up with the second revised estimate for 2010-11 and third revised estimate for 2009-10. GDP growth estimate for 2010-11 has been revised upwards to 9.3 per cent from 8.4 per cent, and for 2009-10 to 8.6 per cent from 8.4 per cent earlier.

The revised GDP growth estimate of 6.2 per cent is the lowest in nine years after the 2002-03 nadir of 4 per cent.

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[18] Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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India's economic growth estimate for 2011-12 has been revised downward to 6.2 per cent from 6.5 per cent earlier. This has been reflected in the first revised estimate for 2011-12 (earlier called quick estimates) released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

INDIA AND THE WORLD


Cross-LoC trade, bus service to be resumed between India and Pakistan Cross-border trade and bus service between India and Pakistan will resume along Chakan-da-Bagh crossing point in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir from 28 Jan 2013, after more than a fortnight-long suspension, following escalation in tension at the Line of Control over the brutal killing of two Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops. Pakistan army had on 11th January refused to open the gates for allowing cross-LoC trade at Chakan-Da-Bagh crossing point in Poonch district resulting in stranding of 25 J-K trucks carrying goods mostly vegetables for traders in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). Both the nations have inked an extradition treaty and a friendlier visa regime. The Extradition Treaty will help to increase cooperation among law enforcing agencies of the two countries and to curb criminal activities. The RTA will ease the visa obtaining procedure and will promote people-topeople exchanges between the two countries. The new visa regime, named revised travel arrangement, proposes to remove restrictions on visits of businesspersons, students, patients, senior citizens above 65 years and children below 12 years. Businessmen would be given five-year multiple entry visa, while those travelling for medical purposes would be given two-year multiple entry visa along with visa to three attendants of a patient, under the proposals. During the meet both sides expressed satisfaction at the smooth operation of the Coordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP) and agreed to increase number of joint patrolling with a view to curbing criminal activities along the border. They expressed confidence that increased number of coordinated patrolling under the CBMP would enhance cooperation between the border guarding forces of the two countries, and enable them to manage the identified vulnerable areas with a view to preventing criminal activities, illegal movement, acts of violence and loss of lives along the border areas. Both sides agreed to allow development work within 150 yards of zero line. As an additional measure for better border management, both sides agreed to immediately start consultations between the District Commissioner and District Magistrate of border districts for resolving local issues. Both sides also agreed to further intensify the activities of the different nodal points in different areas of cooperation such as human trafficking, drugs, INTERPOL, etc. Both sides agreed to extend cooperation for apprehension of wanted criminals and fugitives and in this regard, Bangladesh Home Minister once again urged for immediate tracking, arresting, and handing over the killers of the father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
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Chakan-Da-Bagh crossing point was started in 2006 to facilitate easier trade and travel between divided families of Jammu and Kashmir and PoK. Cross-LoC trade and travel are considered as major confidence building exercises between India and Pakistan.

This was the second time that LoC travel and trade had come to a grinding halt after Pakistani Army refused to open gates in past 8 months. LoC trade had earlier come to a halt on 14th June last year due to closure of gates of Chakan-Da-Bagh border point in Poonch following LoC firing, shelling and ceasefire violations. It was resumed later on 14th July. The Poonch-Rawlakote'Carvan-e-Aman' bus service was also suspended on 11th June 2012 and resumed later on 17th July after the Brigade commander level meeting between Pakistani and Indian armies. India and Bangladesh ink extradition treaty

The 4th Home Ministers level talks between Bangladesh and India commenced at Dhaka. The Bangladesh delegation was led by Dr. Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir, Minister, Ministry of Home Affairs whereas Indian delegation was led by Shri. Sushilkumar Shinde, Union Home Minister.
Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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14th Session of India - Australia Joint Ministerial Commission convenes in Delhi

The 14th Session of the India - Australia Joint Ministerial Commission convened in New Delhi. It was co-chaired by Shri Anand Sharma, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles, India and the Dr. Craig Emerson MP, Australian Minister for Trade and Competitiveness and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Asian Century Policy. The Ministers welcomed the positive momentum in the India-Australia relationship, based on shared values, converging interests and growth in economic links. Both the nations has emphasised on the importance of closer trade and investment relations for the strategic partnership. The Ministers underlined the importance of a solid institutional framework to facilitate future growth in bilateral trade and investment. In this context, they have placed the priority on the conclusion of a mutually beneficial Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA); a comprehensive, high quality equitable agreement would broaden the base of merchandise trade, remove non-tariff barriers that impede trade in services, and facilitate and encourage investment. The Ministers welcomed the growth in the bilateral investment relationship and agreed on the importance of strong bilateral investment flows particularly in priority areas such as mining, advanced manufacturing, infrastructure, clean technology and tourism.

The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to finding ways to break through the current impasse in the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations. They expressed disappointment that it had not been possible to conclude the Doha Development Agenda to date, but agreed on the importance of moving the process forward, particularly in the current global economic environment. They also agreed on the need to resist rising protectionist pressures. The Ministers acknowledged the critical importance of education and skills development in helping to achieve both countries` targets for innovation, productivity and economic growth and welcomed efforts underway to strengthen the bilateral knowledge partnership. In particular, they commended growing collaboration under the auspices of the Australia-India Education Council between India`s nascent Sector Skills Councils and Australia`s Industry Skills Councils on standards and approaches to vocational training. The Ministers highlighted research work underway to lift agricultural productivity and make crops more disease-resistant. The two Ministers recognized the potential for greater focus and collaboration in food security, including through enhanced agricultural trade and investment. Indian delegate encouraged greater Australian investment in the Indian agriculture sector, including for cold chains and storage and logistics management of agriculture and horticultural produce. They noted the significant growth in the bilateral agricultural cooperation, including the establishment and first meeting of the Joint Working Group on Agriculture held in New Delhi in September and the proposed first meeting of the Joint Working Group on Wool and Woollen products in February 2013. They announced plans for Australia and India to host a regional Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) workshop in 2013. They also commended the work by both countries in improving market access for meat and horticultural products. The Ministers agreed on the important role of people-to-people links in the expanding bilateral relationship. The Ministers felt that direct flights between India and Australia would provide a further boost to bilateral engagement. The Ministers agreed that the next Joint Ministerial Commission will be held in Australia in 2014.
Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

The Ministers has also welcomed the launch of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations towards a modern, comprehensive, high quality, and mutually beneficial regional economic partnership agreement. During the meet, they have discussed their mutual commitment to strengthening the East Asia Summit (EAS) as a forum that incorporated all the major economies in the India-Pacific region. Further the Ministers underlined their commitment to reinforce the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), both during India`s remaining period as chair and Australia`s two year term as chair from November 2013. In particular, they commended the work being done in IOR-ARC on trade facilitation, customs cooperation and business-to-business cooperation, as useful practical steps towards greater regional trade and economic cooperation.
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India and Spain Agrees to Enhance Cooperation in the Field of Renewable Energy

Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Minister for New & Renewable Energy met Spanish delegation led by Ms. Carmen Vela Olmo, Minister of State for Research, Development and Innovation. Both the leaders agreed to enhance research, cooperation and technologies in the field of Renewable Energy. Besides, research projects in the area of forecasting of wind power and fabrication of cost effective solar cells will be considered for financing by the Indian and Spanish governments. During the meet, the two ministers also agreed to initiate a second call for research proposals so as to encourage joint research and development activities between research institutions as well as industry groups of both the countries. The joint Indo-Spanish programme for Technological cooperation in Renewable Energy was developed as a consequence of the visit of the Minister of New & Renewable Energy, to Spain last year. Following the signing of the agreement in May, 2012, a joint call for project proposals was published which included proposals on various aspects on Renewable Energy involving industry and R & D institutions in both the countries and covering all aspects of Renewable Energy. India is the fifth largest country in the world in terms of wind power installed capacity. In addition, India's National Solar Mission aims to facilitate the installation of 20000 MW of grid connected power capacity by 2020. Spain is the 4th largest producer of wind generated power and is top-ranked worldwide in terms of photovoltaic solar power capacity. Legislation for doubling H-1B visa, make Green Card easier

A bipartisan group of top US Senators has introduced a legislation in the Senate aiming at several changes in immigration norms, including doubling of H-1B visa cap and establishing a marketbased escalator. The other proposed measures include recapturing of unused Green Card numbers, eliminating country cap and recommending a series of new provisions to provide legal permanent residency to talented and brilliant. Introduced by Senators Marco Rubio, Orrin Hatch, Amy Klobuchar, the Immigration Innovation (I2) Act of 2013 proposes to increase H-1B cap from
Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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65,000 to 115,000 and establish a market-based H-1B escalator, so that the cap can adjust to the demands of the economy. The bill includes a 300,000 ceiling on the ability of the escalator to move. If the cap is hit in the first 45 days when petitions may be filed, an additional 20,000 H-1B visas will be made available immediately. If it is hit in the first 60 days when petitions may be filed, an additional 15,000 H-1B visas will be made available immediately and if the cap is hit in the first 90 days when petitions may be filed, an additional 10,000 H-1B visas will be made available immediately. In case the cap is hit during the 185-day period ending on the 275th day on which petitions may be filed, and additional 5,000 H-1B will be made available immediately, the bill proposes and calls for uncapping the existing US advanced degree exemption (currently limited to 20,000 per year). The legislation focuses on areas vital to keep US competitiveness intact in the global economy. It proposes increased access to Green Cards for high-skilled workers by expanding the exemptions and eliminating the annual per country limits for employment based Green Cards. The legislation also aims at reforming the fees on H-1B and Green Cards so those fees can be used to promote American worker retraining and education. India, Gibraltar sign Tax Information Exchange Agreement

India and Gibraltar have signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) that calls for the transparent sharing of information. The Agreement was signed by Jaimini Bhagwati, High Commissioner of India to the UK from Indian side and Gilbert Licudi QC, Minister with the responsibility of Financial Services, Gibraltar on behalf of Gibraltar. This is the 13th TIEA being signed by India. So far India has signed TIEAs with Bahamas, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Isle of Man, Cayman Islands, Jersey, Macau, Liberia, Argentina, Guernsey, Bahrain and Monaco. As per the agreement, based on international standard of transparency and exchange of information, information must be foreseeably relevant to the administration and enforcement of the domestic laws of the Contracting Parties concerning taxes covered by the agreement. It also

provides for tax examination abroad and has specific provisions for providing banking and ownership information. The salient features of the agreement also say that the requesting state has to provide some minimum details about the information requested in order to justify the foreseeable relevance criteria. Information is to be treated as secret and can be disclosed to only specified person or authorities, who are tax authorities or the authorities concerned

with the determination of tax appeal. It also provides for the use of information for non tax purposes with the written consent of the Competent Authority of the requested Party. There is a specific provision that the requested Party shall provide upon request the information even though that Party may not need such information for its own tax purposes. The agreement also provides for exchange of past information in criminal matters.

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[22] Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY


CSIR-OSDD Collaborates with the Royal Society of Chemistry In pursuit of common aims and to raise awareness of the importance of Cheminformatics to accelerate the discovery of novel therapies for neglected diseases like TB and Malaria, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which provides scientific and industrial R&D that maximises the economic, environmental and societal benefits for the people of India has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between its Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD) initiative and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), the largest European organization for advancing chemical sciences. RSC's activities span education, conferences, science policy, development of chemical applications and the promotion of chemistry to the public. The MoU, spanning three years, aims to address the objective of finding novel, fasteracting, and more effective regimens for TB and Malaria by advancing the discipline of Cheminformatics. The collaboration envisions conducting workshops and conferences to build links between experts and leaders in the coming years and will focus on jointly building an online repository of real and virtual molecular structures along with developing free-to -use software tools for drug discovery and development. The partnership also aims at exploring the possibility of advancing OSDD's e-learning program for students. Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD) is an initiative funded and led by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. OSDD is a team India consortium with global partnership with a vision to provide affordable healthcare to the developing world to solve the complex problems associated with discovering novel therapies for diseases like Tuberculosis, Malaria and Leishmaniasis. Global Research Team Decodes Gene Sequence of Chickpea and disease resistance, and enhanced genetic diversity. The research milestone was the result of years of genome analysis by the International Chickpea Genome Sequencing Consortium led by the International Crops Research Institute for the SemiArid Tropics (ICRISAT). The project team had 49 scientists from 23 organizations in 10 countries, including ICAR from India. The global research partnership succeeded in identifying - 28,269 genes of kabuli variety of chickpea. Re-sequencing of additional 90 chickpea types provided millions of genetic markers. This has great potential in developing drought tolerant and disease resistant varieties of this important pulse crop. Chickpea or gram is the second largest pulse crop in the world, grown in about 11.5 million hectares. It is grown mostly by poor farmers and in dry areas. It is highly nutritious. While India is the largest producer (also importer and consumer) of chickpea, it is grown in a number of African countries including Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya. Chickpea is also an important component of the pulse industry in Australia, Canada and USA. Water flow on Mars hints at ancient life

A global research team has completed highquality sequencing of not one but ninety genomes of chickpea (gram / chana) that promises improved grain yields and quality, greater drought tolerance
Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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A new study hints at the possibilities that narrow ridges found in Martian craters may actually be fossilized remnants of underground cracks through which water once flowed on the red planet. Water flowing beneath the surface of ancient Mars suggests life may once have been possible on the Red planet. The study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, bolsters the idea that the subsurface environment on Mars once had an active hydrology and could be a good place to search for evidence of past life. The study suggests that the ridges, many of them hundreds of metres in length and a few metres wide, had been noted in previous research, but how they had formed was not known. Water, if present in the subsurface, would have circulated through the cracks, slowly filling them in with mineral deposits, which would have been

harder than the surrounding rocks. As those surrounding rocks eroded away over millions of years, the seams of mineral-hardened material would remain in place, forming the ridges seen today. Using high-resolution images from Nasa's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the researchers noted the orientations of the ridges and composition of the surrounding rocks. The orientation data is consistent with the idea that the ridges started out as fractures formed by impact events. Importantly, researchers also found that the ridges exist exclusively in areas where the surrounding rock is rich in iron-magnesium clay, a mineral considered to be a telltale sign that water had once been present in the rocks. Iran successfully sends monkey into space

in mobile labs show that the cells are actively using oxygen. It may take months for biologists to identify the microbes present. The microbes have been sealed off below the ice for at least 100,000 years. Lake Whillans sits in a shallow cavity at the downstream end of a slow-moving sheet of ice. The deep liquid streams that feed this and more than 340 other subglacial lakes across Antarctica also lubricate the ice above. Geothermal energy, along with friction and a heavy blanket of ice, keeps the water liquid in this frigid land. Pulsar behaviour defies theories

Iran recently claimed to have sent a monkey into space. The primate travelled in a Pishgam rocket, which reached an altitude of some 120km (75 miles) for a sub-orbital flight before "returning its shipment intact".

Western nations have expressed concern that Iran's space programme is being used to develop long-range missiles, which could be later used to develop missiles that could potentially be used to carry nuclear warheads, whereas Iran denies it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons and insists its nuclear programme is solely for peaceful purposes. Later Iran claimed that the monkey has returned safely from space over which many people expressed skepticism.

The Iranian Space Agency is Iran's governmental space agency. Iran is an active participant in the Asian space race and became an orbital-launchcapable nation in 2009.

According to Iranian manned space program, the first sub-orbital spaceflight with an Iranian on board will take place by 2016 at an altitude below 200 kilometers as preparation for the eventual orbital spaceflight. Experts are looking at this launch from Iran in light of these plans. Life found deep below Antarctic ice

Cells containing DNA have emerged as the first evidence of life in a subglacial lake in West Antarctica. A U.S. research team retrieved water from Lake Whillans, which sits 800 meters below the ice surface. The water hosted a surprising bounty of living cells. The scientists collected three 10-liter water samples from the lake. Preliminary tests conducted
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Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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Unlike pulsars that emit either at X-ray or radio frequencies, a pulsar located 3,500 light years away has been found emitting both radio and X-ray radiation in sync. When a star heavier than our Sun by eight to 50 times runs out of hydrogen, it blows away its outermost layers of gas in a supernova explosion and undergoes a gravitational collapse. The remnant of this is a core of neutrons called a neutron star - usually around 20 km across, densely compacted and highly magnetised. When the neutron star is spinning, it emits strong radiation from its poles which can be detected only when it is pointed towards the Earth. Because of the spin, these emissions point at Earth periodically, making it appears as though the neutron star is pulsating. For this reason, spinning neutron stars are called pulsars. An international team of scientists working on the LOFAR telescope in the Netherlands and the GMRT telescope near Pune, India, announced a strange behaviour of a pulsar PSR B0943+10. Located 3,500 light years from Earth, PSR B0943+10 has been known since the 1980s to emit radiation in the radio frequency. Pulsars usually emit radiation at radio or X-ray frequencies exclusively, although ones emitting purely gamma radiation have also been found. Some other pulsars also switch modes, emitting brightly for some time and weakly for the some other time, within seconds. While this behaviour has been known for some time, a self-consistent theory to explain it still eludes astrophysicists. However, for the first time ever, a pulsar, PSR B0943+10, has been observed switching between two different modes of radiation - X-ray and radio within a second. The X-ray mode showed itself when the radio mode had weakened. Also, anomalous weak radio signals were observed when the pulsar was in the bright X-ray mode.

The team also found that the X-ray emission seemed thermal in origin. This suggests that a temporary "hotspot" appears close to the pulsar's magnetic pole which switches on and off as the pulsar flips. Hideout of dormant TB bacteria found

Detailed information is scarce on supermassive black holes, thought to be at the heart of most galaxies. The problem is that most other supermassive black holes are too far away to examine properly even with the Hubble Space Telescope. The new method, when combined with new telescopes such as ALMA (Attacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array), promises to extend this black hole 'weigh-in' to thousands of distant galaxies. It will also enable the study of black holes in spiral galaxies (similar to our own Milky Way), which are hard to target using currently available techniques. The team demonstrated the new technique on the supermassive black hole at the centre of a galaxy, NGC 4526, in the constellation of Virgo. NGC 4526 was chosen as a test because it has been widely studied but the team believes the technique will work on a wide range of different galaxies. The team observed carbon monoxide molecules in the galaxy they were monitoring using the Combined Array for Research in Millimetre-wave Astronomy (CARMA) telescope. With its supersharp images they were able to zoom right into the centre of the galaxy and observe the gas whizzing around the black hole. The gas (carbon monoxide) moves at a speed which is determined by the black hole's mass, and the distance from it. By measuring the velocity of the gas at each position, the mass of the black hole can be measured. Now with this new technique and telescopes like ALMA it would be possible to examine the relationship between thousands of more distant galaxies and their black holes giving an insight into how galaxies and black holes co-evolve. Proton's radius revised downward

The hiding place of dormant tuberculosis bacteria in humans has been finally found. The remarkable study published in the Science Translational Medicine journal unequivocally demonstrates that a particular kind of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (CD271{++}CD45{+-}) provide a safe shelter for the dormant TB bacteria.

In fact, the stem cells have an efficient way of removing TB drugs that can kill the bacteria, thus providing the bacteria a perfect environment to remain viable for extended periods of time.

Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis typically attacks the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. Most infections are asymptomatic and latent, but about one in ten latent infections eventually progresses to active disease which, if left untreated, kills more than 50% of those so infected. Around 30% of all TB deaths all over the world occur in India. In 2011 around 3,00,000 people died due the disease in India. New technique to measures mass of black holes

Scientists have developed a new technique of measuring the mass of Supermassive black holes which they say could revolutionise our understanding of how they form and help to shape galaxies. The method, developed by a team including Oxford University scientists, can spot the tell-tale tracer of carbon monoxide within the cloud of gas (mostly hydrogen) circling a supermassive black hole at the centre of a distant galaxy. By detecting the velocity of the spinning gas they are able to 'weigh' (determine the mass) the black hole.
Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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Recurrence of TB after successful drug treatment remains a big challenge in controlling the disease. Recurrence could have occured either due to reactivation of the dormant TB bacteria residing somewhere inside the body or through reinfection. Several studies have shown that more than reinfection, it is the reactivation that causes disease recurrence. Hence management to prevent reactivation is essential. But the precise location where the bacteria hide was not known.

A new measurement finds that the proton is about 4 percent smaller than previous experiments suggest. For years, physicists have used two indirect methods to determine the size of the proton. They can fire an electron beam at protons and measure how far the flying particles get deflected. Alternatively, physicists can study the behavior of electrons in hydrogen atoms. They shoot a laser at an atom so that the one electron jumps to a higher, unstable energy level; when the electron returns to a low-energy state, it releases X-rays whose frequency depends on the size of the proton. Both

methods suggest the proton has a radius of about 0.88 femtometers, or 0.88 quadrillionths of a meter. That measurement was not in doubt until 2010, when physicists at ETH Zurich developed a new technique to probe proton size. They also used hydrogen atoms, but replaced the electrons with muons - particles similar to electrons but more than 200 times as massive. Muons' additional heft enhances their interaction with protons and makes their behavior more dependent on proton size. After measuring the X-rays emitted by muons shifting between energy states, the team published a paper in Nature saying that the proton radius is 0.84 femtometers - about 4 percent less than previous estimates.

Now, two-and-a-half years later, the team has reexamined muon-containing hydrogen and measured the X-ray frequencies resulting from two energy level shifts. Both emissions yielded the same, slimmed-down value for the size of the proton. The new study eliminates the possibility of certain systematic errors and reduces the measurement's uncertainty by 40 percent.

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[26] Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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City heat affects weather in distant places According to a new study, heat generated by everyday activities in major cities affects temperatures across thousands of kilometres, significantly warming some areas and cooling others. The 'waste heat' generated from buildings, cars, and other sources in major Northern Hemisphere urban areas causes winter warming across large areas of northern North America and northern Asia. The study found that temperatures in some remote areas increase by as much as 1C. At the same time, the changes to atmospheric circulation caused by waste heat cool areas of Europe by as much as 1C. The net effect on global mean temperatures is nearly negligible - an average increase worldwide of just 0.01 C. This is because the total human-produced waste heat is only about 0.3% of the heat transported across higher latitudes by atmospheric and oceanic circulations. The waste heat is also changing atmospheric circulation, including jet streams - powerful narrow currents of wind that blow from west to east and north to south in the upper atmosphere. In the new study, the researchers looked at "urban heat", produced directly by transportation, heating and cooling units, and other energy-consuming activities.

2 - MARKERS
India Hands Over Dornier Surveillance Aircraft to Seychelles The Defence Minister Shri A. K. Antony has handed over Dornier surveillance aircraft to the Foreign Minister of Seychelles Mr. Jean Paul Adam. The maritime surveillance aircraft will be used to guard the extensive coastline of the island nation in the Indian Ocean. The Dornier 228 manufactured by the defence public sector undertaking, the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) will also be supported by the HAL team for maintenance on site to enable the new user to get the requisite expertise. the Department of Information Technology & Communication, Government of Rajasthan, has organized 16th National Conference on eGovernance on 11 - 12 February, 2013 in Jaipur, Rajasthan. The National Conference on e-Governance provides a platform to policy makers, practitioners, industry leaders and academia to deliberate, interact and recommend actionable strategies. To recognise and promote excellence in implementation of eGovernance initiatives, the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Government of India, presents National Awards for e-Governance every year. Categories of Awards are: A) Excellence in engineering Government Process Re-

The DO-228 is a highly reliable, multi-purpose, fuel efficient, rugged, light weight twin turbo prop aircraft with a retractable tricycle landing gear. It is a frontline surveillance platform for applications like maritime reconnaissance, intelligence warfare, search and rescue, pollution control and transport. Taiwan tycoon launches Asia's Nobel-type prizes

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B) Exemplary Horizontal Transfer of ICT-based Best Practice C) Outstanding Performance in Citizen-Centric Service Delivery D) Innovative Usage e-Governance of Technology in

A Taiwanese tycoon has launched Asia's Nobel Prizes for outstanding achievements in natural and social sciences. The award has been named as Tang Prize Foundation with an initial endowment of $103 million (618-907 AD Tang Dynasty is revered by Chinese for its cultural and scientific achievements).

E) Exemplary Usage of ICT by PSUs F) Best Government Portal G) Sectoral Award (Focus Sector - Social Sector Programs)

The prizes will be awarded every other year to international leaders in biopharmaceutical science, sustainable development, the study of China and the rule of law. Winners will receive $1.7 million, compared to $1.2 million that comes with a Nobel prize. The Tang Prize winners will be nominated and screened by special committees set up by the Academia Sinica, Taiwan's most prestigious research organization. National Awards for E-Governance

Army finally gets Annandale Ending the three-decade-long tussle over the historic Annandale ground, the Himachal Pradesh government has given it to the Army. The previous regime had proposed to take it over for building a multi-crore cricket stadium. The Annandale ground was taken over by the Army during World War-II to be used as a training camp. Since then it's used for operational and logistic activities. The lease had expired in 1982. Whereas the Army maintained that the ground was required for carrying out drills for disaster management and highlighted its need for national security. John Kerry sworn in as U.S. Secretary of State

The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Government of India, in association with the Department of Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India and
Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

John Kerry, the veteran American politician and 2004 presidential candidate, has been sworn in
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as the U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton.

of

State,

replacing

Vietnam War veteran, Mr. Kerry played a key role in shaping the country's foreign policy and national security and on a range of issues including Afghanistan and Pakistan, nuclear non-proliferation, and global climate change. As Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, in 2010, Mr. Kerry was instrumental in renewing the New START Treaty, a vital nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia that helps steer both countries away from dangerous nuclear confrontations. IAF's first Swiss Pilatus trainer aircraft arrives in India

rookie pilots has been landed at Jamnagar in Gujarat. The fleet of 75 aircraft will help in replacing the fleet of HPT-32 basic trainers which were grounded after a fatal crash in 2009. The IAF is procuring the aircraft together with an integrated ground based training system and a comprehensive logistics support package. The IAF is also planning to seek more Pilatus trainer aircraft from the Swiss firm which could see another 100 aircraft being procured from there. According to the contract, Pilatus will also do a transfer of technology to the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for maintenance of the fleet for the next 30 years. Pilatus will also do offsets to the tune of 30 per cent of the deal which would be close to around Rs 800 crore.

The first of the 75 Swiss Pilatus trainer aircraft procured by the IAF under Rs 2,800 crore to train its

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EDITORIALS
Justice to juveniles: Categorisation is required for the brutal The police could not file the charge sheet against the sixth accused in the Delhi gangrape case as he claimed to be a minor. According to his schoolleaving certificate, he is short of 18 years by a few months that puts him in the category of juveniles, and he can be tried under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, which defines every child below 18 as a juvenile. a juvenile irrespective of sex. India adopted it in 1992, and so, the JJ Act, 1986, was replaced by a new Act in 2000 that defined both boys and girls below 18 years as juveniles. Under it, Model Rules were formulated in 2007. According to rule 12, documentary evidence of age gets priority over the medical test. The reasoning was that the medical test is not foolproof either, and there is a possibility of variation of two years, above or below, of the real age. So, the documentary evidence is to be relied upon unless it is shown to be forged. There is a spurt in crimes committed by juveniles and many of them are repeat offenders. But an offence committed by a juvenile is considered 'an act of innocence'. According to the IPC, everyone between seven and 18 years is a juvenile who is not sentenced but reformed. Even judges, lawyers and policemen do not go to the JJB in uniforms so that the juvenile delinquent does not get the impression of being tried. The horrific crime committed by the juvenile accused in the instant case can, by no means, be called an act of innocence. It is true that, if found a juvenile, he cannot be awarded a harsher punishment as an amendment to a criminal law cannot be applied retrospectively. But the future is to be secured. Those opposing any amendment to reduce the age adduce the logic of broken homes and commiserate with the juvenile accused on the ground that the state failed to give them protection earlier. They also ratiocinate that the law should not be made or changed as a kneejerk reaction to one incident. The logic of broken homes in many cases is not true. Further, today's children are different and mature quite early due to huge exposure to the world, thanks to the communication revolution. They are not innocent like those children of 1919 who Cardew saw being exploited in prisons. Even the prisons are more open and anything happening inside cannot be suppressed for long. The leniency in punishment has led to increase in crimes committed by minors. Not only that, they are even being used by hardened criminals for
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According to the police, he was the "most brutal" among the six rapists. If tried under the JJ Act, he may be let off within a few months as the maximum punishment under the Act is imprisonment of three years, but the child has to be kept in an observation home and is entitled to bail. The possibility of the accused going scot free in a few months has led to an overwhelming demand to amend the law to make it tougher and reduce the age of a juvenile in its definition from 18 to 16 or even 14 years. The need to treat children differently from general criminals was highlighted for the first time by the report of the Indian Jail Committee, 1919-20, headed by A G Cardew. The report, considered a watershed in the history of jail reforms, said that child prisoners were being subjected to various kinds of exploitations, including sexual, and so, needed to be kept and tried separately. Pursuant to it, the Madras government enacted the child Act in 1921 and then several states followed suit. But it was only a state legislation.

India ratified the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice ('The Beijing Rules') adopted by General Assembly resolution of 40/33 of November 29, 1985, and this led to the enactment of a central legislation for children, the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986. In this Act, the definition of a juvenile was gender-based: below 18 for girls but 16 years for boys. The distinction was based on the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that girls need longer protection. However, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, defined everyone below 18 years as
Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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murders and kidnappings. Even if the definition is not changed to reduce the age of juveniles, there is an urgent need to make different categories of juveniles as there is a big gap between seven and 18. In the UK, those between 10 and 18 are juveniles but there are three categories: between 10 and 14, between 14 and 16, and between 16 and 18 years. Children in the age group of 10-14 years face welfare proceedings and those above 14 face justice proceedings. The UK was also forced to enact the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, 1994, after the incident of the abduction and murder of a young child, James Bulger, by two 10-year-old boys. A new law was made introducing tougher punishments for young offenders. India also needs to do something like this. But it also must be ensured that every child gets proper protection of law. Source: Economic Times Afrighanistan?

Mali's ghost The origins of the conflict that has captured the headlines are not, primarily, either regional or global but local. Since time immemorial, lawlessness and violence have had a toehold in and around the vast Sahara desert and the terrain that stretches eastward across to Somalia in the Horn of Africa. But in the past few years the anarchy has worsened-especially since the fall of Libya's Muammar Qaddafi in late 2011, when arms flooded across the region's porous borders. Hostage-taking, cash from ransoms, smuggling, drug-trafficking and brigandage have bolstered an array of gang leaders. Some of them, waving the banner of Islam, have seized on legitimate local grievances fuelled by poverty, discrimination and the mismanagement of corrupt governments. In northern Nigeria an extreme Islamist group calling itself Boko Haram ("Western teachings are sinful") recruits ill-educated, jobless and angry Muslim youngsters to wage a campaign of violence and murder. In Mali the nomadic Tuareg in the northern half of the country have long been marginalised. The jihadists latched on to an ethnic revolt, promptly sweeping its leaders aside. Elsewhere, in such countries as Ethiopia and Kenya, they have cynically widened old fault-lines between Muslims and Christians, who have in the past generally cohabited peacefully. Many of these groups give themselves a global gloss. The jihadists who attacked the Algerian gas plant came from such places as Tunisia, Mali and Niger-the Algerian authorities say they even included at least one Canadian. North African Islamists look for inspiration, if not direction, to global jihadists like al-Qaeda. Some get extra money from sponsors in Saudi Arabia and other sources in the oil-rich Gulf. A loose fraternity echoes the message of hostility toward the West and its friends in Africa and beyond. As al-Qaeda comes under pressure in the borderlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan and in parts of Yemen and Somalia, some of its people, seeking new refuge, may fetch up in the region. Despite these links, though, the direct threat is overwhelmingly local. Ask the townspeople of Timbuktu, who suddenly fell under the handchopping puritanism of strict sharia law, or the victims of a foreign-trained bomb-maker in Nigeria, or the people of Somalia, only now, with the Shabab militia in retreat, beginning to put their lives back
Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

AFTER 11 years spent waging war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq, almost $1.5 trillion in direct costs and hundreds of thousands of lives lost, the Western public feels it has learned a hard lesson. It is more convinced than ever that even the bestintentioned foreign intervention is bound to bog its armies down in endless wars fighting invisible enemies to help ungrateful locals. Echoes of Afghanistan rang loud earlier this month when French forces swooped on advancing columns of Islamists threatening the Saharan state of Mali. And they were heard again, a few days later, when a unit of bearded, gun-toting jihadists from the "Signed-in-Blood Battalion" seized a gas plant and slaughtered dozens of foreigners in nextdoor Algeria-more than in any single Islamist terror attack since the bombing of a Bali nightclub in 2002. Here, it seemed, was the next front of the global war on terror and also a desert quagmire to entrap vainglorious Western leaders.

Yet all wars are different. The lessons from one campaign need not map neatly onto the next. Looking at the arc of instability, stretching from Somalia and Sudan in the east through Chad to Mali in the west, as if it were just another Iraq or Afghanistan, is misleading. It is also, if it discourages outsiders from helping defuse dangerous conflicts, harmful. Though intervention always holds dangers, in Africa it need be neither so long-drawn-out as in Baghdad and Kabul nor so hopeless.
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together. But global jihad radicalises young Muslims, lending their local grievances a dangerous new edge. Poorly trained security services feed the insurgency with their brutality. As in Kenya, where Somali refugees have fed tensions between Muslims and Christians, the conflict in one country tends to spill over next door. Over the years a radicalised, armed and trained Islamist insurgency could do immense damage in a fragile part of the world. The right lesson For those who have learned to doubt the wisdom of most intervention, this argument points to a simple conclusion: keep out. Yet for a host of reasons what happens in the Sahara is also the world's business. The region is a big producer of oil and gas. Shutting foreign businesses out of large parts of north Africa would be a real loss-one reason why Franois Hollande sent troops into Mali was to protect at least 6,000 French citizens living there. Somalia's lawlessness led to piracy across the Indian Ocean. North African jihadists would struggle to mount a campaign of terror in Europe or America just now, but that might change one day if they controlled the resources of an entire country. Better to keep them stuck in the desert. Beyond self-interest is the fact that short, sharp intervention can lighten the misery of millions of people. French paratroops helped end civil strife in Cte d'Ivoire in 2011. A few thousand British soldiers, having secured Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, in 2000, helped end a dreadful civil war there too. So long as African troops and a sustained programme of development are available for deployment when the battle has been won, intervention can work. That message is especially important for Barack Obama. His outgoing secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, has acknowledged the threats. Mr Obama's response to Mr Hollande's request for American help in Mali has been cool, tardy and, so far, inadequate. The Germans, too, have shown little enthusiasm for helping.

What the middle class wants

In the long run, the Sahara will become stable only when it becomes more prosperous. Much of the rest of Africa is starting to enjoy that prospect. Most of Africa's large and growing number of Muslims are hostile to jihad. Western governments would be making a grave mistake if they invoked the difficulties of intervention as an excuse for abandoning them now. Source: The Economist
Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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The reforms of the 1990s accelerated the growth of income and poverty reduction, demonstrating the virtues of a competitive market economy powered by entrepreneurship. Consequently, India has moved over the last decade from being a low income democracy to a lower middle income one. The stirrings observed in Delhi during the past two years are a precursor of the emerging middle class, and political demands for better governance are likely to follow. The middle class has historically grown in every country along with income, and has demanded, and got, better governance in every (now) developed country. This process has been accelerated in India by the early establishment of democracy and a flourishing media. The anti-corruption agitation of 2011, and the public outpouring of support for it, was a precursor. The common Delhi resident's passionate outrage was less about the specific scam allegations relating to the CWG and telecom and more about the basic mistreatment of citizens by the government service providers (water, power, police, MCD). The new middle class, which has had a taste of freedom and equality in the marketplace, was fed up with the arrogance of local government functionaries and the humiliating treatment meted out by corrupt and self-serving officials, while their bureaucratic and political bosses hypocritically claimed to be "servants of the people." The protests were an expression of outrage against the inequality between the government as service provider and the general public on the other side of the counter. Though both events would have been damp squibs without media attention, underlying them is a cry for attention to the citizen's personal security and equal treatment to all, men and women, rulers and the ruled. The 23-year-old woman who was gangraped migrated with her parents to Delhi from a village in Ballia district in eastern UP. She was training to be a physiotherapist, acquiring a skill that would earn her a decent income. She represented the dream of numerous families, including those who protested on the streets: women of all ages, income classes, castes and work categories, who saw something of themselves in her. She was the child of the new era of economic opportunity. From the many definitions of "middle class", I would emphasise the two most common shared elements: a level of income that is above the level

needed for survival (including savings for emergencies), and a level of education and skills necessary to earn the posited level of income. The education has to be at a quality-level to make the individual aware of the world beyond the immediate environment. This awareness is essential for making an empathetic connection between one's own selfish concerns and the concerns of other, similarly placed individuals. Thus, the third element is usually a set of shared values that, to varying degrees, are common to the "middle class". To be a part of the (lower) middle class, you have to have sufficient education to be aware of issues and elements that are outside the ambit of the skills needed for your job and to navigate the space that you inhabit, but not necessarily educated to a level that makes one capable of participating in debates about these issues or deriving solutions to social or economic problems. That is a criterion for classification in the middle class intelligentsia.

Is there a key "middle class value"? There are two values that support each other. One, that as a human being, one has a fundamental right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Two, an understanding and appreciation of true equality, that it is universal and indivisible. That is, if I have this right, then all individuals must have this right, and that the only way I can truly have and preserve this right is for all others to have the same right. Practically, this translates into a demand for equality of opportunity and equality of treatment. The competitive market economy embodies these ideals to a much greater degree than the hierarchical and segmented Indian society or the self-centered politico-bureaucratic system that now constitutes the ruling class. The fast growth unleashed by the 1991 reforms has created a demand for education and skills with which to earn income. It has also shown the current and potential members of the middle class that a market economy cares primarily about skills and competence when it is seeking to get a job done, and about the money you want to spend on its products as a consumer, and much less, if at all, about your caste, class or family background. Therefore, this demand for equal treatment is focused on the services that government provides, both public goods and services such as personal security that only government can provide, as well as private goods and services it has deliberately chosen to monopolise or control, such as higher education and electricity.
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Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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Simple welfare theory teaches that there are three elements of social welfare. One, private income and consumption; two, public goods and services (legal, police, roads, public transport, public health-sewage, sanitation); three, the distribution of income, poverty, inclusion. Taxes and transfers can be used to change, within limits, the distribution of income and thus improve social welfare. To the extent that there is a gap between the claims and reality (wastage, corruption), these are rightly called populist measures. Much of Indian political discourse since the sixties has focused on this third element. India under Indira Gandhi was the first country in the world to raise "poverty alleviation" to a national objective under the rubric of "Garibi Hatao". The economic reforms of the 1990s raised public awareness of the role of faster growth in raising the incomes and welfare of the people, but the balance shifted back to questions of distribution and inclusion from 2004. The dramatic fall in the national growth rate and the threat of junk status, coupled with the recent prominence of the "Gujarat model", have restored some of the importance of income growth. The maintenance of a sufficiently high average per capita growth - between 6 per cent and 7 per cent (about 8 per cent GDP), which generates income opportunity for the emerging middle class, will soon become de rigueur. The rise of the middle class also promises to bring public goods and services, along with governance, into the public discourse within this decade. This will, for the first time, establish a balance between the three elements of social welfare that should be part of the political debate. Though this new middle class is still relatively small and concentrated in the urban and semi-urban areas, it is projected to grow rapidly in the next two decades if our average per capita GDP grows at its full potential of 7 per cent. The political party that finds the right policy balance between these three objectives, and convinces both the emerging middle class and the lower income groups, will be the winner. Source: Indian Express No sweetening this bitter pill

Unless the government regulates the growth of the private sector and makes it accountable, the worn-down public health infrastructure cannot be revitalized.

The absence of a well thought out policy framework for strengthening the health system is the most important issue facing the health sector in India. In the government, there is no clarity on what the nation's health system should be 10 years hence. Should it be a public sector dominated system like Brazil or China; or a regulated private-led like the U.S.; or one where both sectors function but have only one payer as in the U.K.? In Japan, delivery is private but the government sets the prices. Each option has its costs, benefits, tradeoffs and systems to ensure control on costs and quality. Unregulated

India is a unique laissez faire model with a private sector-led health system that is unregulated and has no rules of the game spelt out, not even as minimal as those laid down for opening a liquor shop. And so, one can set up a nursing home in a residential colony; throw infectious waste anywhere, charge any amount that the market allows and have no systems of oversight to assure quality. The private sector is further incentivised by excise duty waivers, subsidised loans for establishing hospitals, tax breaks and a liberalised health insurance market with tax exemptions for the premium.

More recently, a new innovation has emerged known as government sponsored insurance schemes (Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, Arogyashri, Kalaignar, etc.) under which governments buy the insurance on behalf of the people/target group for providing cashless services for inpatient care, mainly surgeries. Under this scheme, the providers charge on a DRG basis, the insurance companies have assured incomes and the entire risk is borne by the government. While such schemes have widened access by making private sector facilities available, their impact on addressing the three critical issues of the health sector - equity, quality, and efficiency - has not been addressed. Instead, pricing structures are distorted and new dimensions of fraudulent and corrupt practices have entered the health sector that continues to register inflation at 30 per cent, with negligible impact on reducing catastrophic expenditures, impoverishing millions in the process. Privatisation of the health sector started in late 1980s, accelerated in the 1990s with the further
Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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Bihar experiment Absence of strategy

withdrawal of the state under the punishing conditionality of the IMF structural adjustment, and got further emboldened with the extensive incentives provided. In 2005, the state bounced back with a three-fold increase in the budget to revitalise the rural health delivery systems under the National Rural Health Mission, running as a parallel track to the private eco system. It is this duality and dysfunctional policymaking that is haemorrhaging the sector and requires to be stopped without delay. The worn down public health infrastructure cannot be revitalised without changing the rules of the game, bringing in legal provisions to regulate further growth of the private sector, make it efficient and accountable and provide a levelplaying field.

It is time to recognise the market failures inherent to this sector and the role of the political economy that is sustaining it, making it increasingly impossible to regulate and establish institutional mechanisms with the requisite capabilities to effectively manage the mess. Bihar's recent experiment of outsourcing diagnostics to the private sector is telling - unqualified persons were employed at some centres, but no action was taken due to political pressure. It is scary to think that a number of innocent people might have been given the wrong diagnosis and put on needless medication. This is just a small example to illustrate the kind of mess we are in. The policy confusion is worsened by the push for greater decentralisation without ensuring the availability of capacities at those levels to manage such complex systems. It is against this scenario that Chhattisgarh's recent policy initiative needs to be viewed. The policy of contracting out diagnostic services to private sector networks in 379 public facilities for 10 years, guaranteeing a minimum patient load and permitting paying patients in addition and prices pegged to those paid for under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS), monitored and managed by a third party, is fraught with adverse implications for the strengthening of the public sector and huge costs for the government, should it choose to pay for them.

It is not the outsourcing that is wrong. It is the absence of a strategy to draw on the strengths of the

What needs to be done

Knee-jerk solutions and unintelligent tinkering have had a disastrous effect on the health sector in India. The government needs to look at health system development and put in place requisite conditions, such as an institutional capacity to control provider behaviour through well laid down national protocols and standard operating procedures, penalties and incentive structures. It should explore cost-effective options such as the intensive use of technology that enables electronic transmission of samples for diagnosis at centralised laboratories, pricing of services, develop IT systems to closely monitor not quantitative but qualitative outcomes as well, put in place grievance redress systems, tightening and insulating the enforcement systems at all levels from political pressures to make individuals from the ANM to the specialist, the ward boy to the laboratory technician - public or private accountable to outcomes and patients, before opening up partnerships with the private sector on such a large scale. What needs to be done is known, but sadly how to do it is not. Governments, at the Centre and in
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Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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Incentives Withdrawn

public and private sectors. If the government is unable to recruit staff to establish laboratories in, say, an area like Bastar, it is unclear how the private sector can be lured to set up, for instance, a radiology unit, there unless huge amounts are paid to it to cover the sustainability risks involved. Likewise, outsourcing is being attempted in areas that already have laboratory facilities. While the value addition is not clear, it will undoubtedly result in the closure of the public sector services and also entail paying three times more to the private sector. And it will be three times as the CGHS prices that are being taken as a benchmark, based on the average of prices quoted on a tender basis. There is no scientific basis for CGHS rate-fixing and such a system will only result in overpaying the private sector in Chhattisgarh where the prices of inputs vary from those in Mumbai or Delhi and between Raipur and Bastar. More worrying are the qualifying criteria that only large private sector networks like corporate hospitals can meet. Small but excellent not-for-profit hospitals like the Shahid hospital in Dalli Raja in Durg or the Jan Swasthya Sahayog at Giniari in Bilaspur will both be disqualified.

the States, need to allow people with field experience and practical knowledge of the health system to contribute their expertise. What is also needed today more than ever is the need to listen to the ground - as patients, women in villages, front line workers, the hapless doctor in the PHC, all have a different story to tell. We cannot afford any more blundering! Source: The Hindu Powerless against policy winds

Despite its immense potential to bridge the power deficit and reduce the carbon footprint, policy support to wind power has been withdrawn. Lately, the winds in India have been blowing slowly. A sector that saw spectacular growth over the past decade has slowed down significantly over the last year. In the first half of the year, the industry recorded close to a 40 per cent dip in its installations. This is a stark reflection on reforms that have perhaps lost their momentum. Recent reports peg the potential for exploitable wind energy in India at 300 GW. This is far in excess of earlier estimates. The share of renewable energy in the country's total energy mix has increased from 7.8 per cent in financial year 2008 to 12.1 per cent in 2012. Not only is there an abundance of wind energy, it is also at an affordable cost: The levelised cost of energy for 20 years is Rs 4.5 and for 10 years stands at Rs 6 per unit. Over the past 20 years, the industry has provided affordable energy to over 50 million people in India; people who would otherwise have continued to live in the dark. The industry has consistently fuelled the agricultural sector - the backbone of our economy. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have been effectively hedging their energy costs by investing in wind energy for captive utilisation and securing a sustainable future. Each megawatt of wind energy has created 20-25 new jobs, a boon for a country with an ever burgeoning young population. It's clear that a slowdown of the wind sector will have a ripple affect across the economy.

The reasons for the slowdown are no secret. Critical policy frameworks that supported the industry's growth - Accelerated Depreciation (AD)

and Generation Based Incentives (GBI) - were withdrawn. It has been argued that as the industry matures it should lose dependency on fiscal incentives. I agree with this. However regulatory changes need to be phased out slowly. Sudden changes can arrest the industry. The original - and perhaps smarter - plan was to stabilise the Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) market and Direct Tax Code (DTC) before withdrawing AD and GBI. This would have been an ideal situation and would have facilitated a smooth transition for the industry. However, the REC market is still in early days and DTC is far from being applied. This has effectively parked the sector in a policy vacuum - a highly risky proposition for a regulated industry. The regulatory conundrum is compounded by the rising cost of finance. Not only is it expensive but also very tightly time-bound: Loans are available maximum for a period of 10 years. This impedes the growth of an industry, which is highly capital-intensive. The wind industry has already been struggling with inadequate grid infrastructure. However, all problems have seemingly come to head now. If the industry continues to lose momentum, we will not meet the country's 2020 target of deriving 15 per cent of our energy needs from renewable energy. We continue to import coal at a much higher cost, instead of harnessing our own plentiful resources. The industry has the potential to add millions of jobs, but instead it is being forced to cut jobs. The agricultural and SME sector are unable to hedge power costs, adversely affecting their bottomline. This is bound to have a negative impact on the nation's long-term GDP growth. Carbon Footprint This financial year, we need an overhaul to get the wind industry back on track. AD and GBI need to be reinstated. GBI is critical in attracting Independent Power Producers (IPPs), who can pump much-needed finance into the system. If not for the entire life-cycle of the project, the benefit can be provided partially for a 10-year period of the project life. On the other hand, AD is required to sustain SMEs investing for captive consumption. AD could

be capped at 25 megawatts per company, per year - allowing them adequate benefit to build sustainable businesses. In parallel, the REC market needs to pick up steam. Currently, there is very limited demand for the instrument and some strong steps are required to make the market sustainable. It should be mandatory for all state and central PSUs to meet renewable energy targets, either by investing into renewable energy projects or through purchase of RECs. Large corporates should be given a mandatory target of reducing their carbon footprint by 15 per cent, by either investing in renewables or RECs, as a part of their Corporate Social Responsibility. These measures would need to be monitored, perhaps on a quarterly basis and any discrepancies should be penalised. REC settlements should also be done on a quarterly basis to develop faith in the system. There is no doubt that the REC instrument is an innovative, and much needed, scheme. A little push to stabilise the system would go a long way. In terms of financing - a real challenge for the wind industry today - a few reforms are required to accelerate development and exploit the industry's potential. Project finance should be available for 20 years, instead of the current 7-10 years, with a threeyear moratorium on repayment and a ballooning repayment scheme for 17 years. Considering that the life of a wind project is for 20-25 years, this is fully justified. Additionally, banks need to adhere to priority lending for the renewable energy sector. Every year, the banks should make available five per cent of its funding for renewable energy projects. Interest costs can be reduced by providing incentive for timely repayment instead of cutting the rates. This would attract massive international equity funds for investment in renewable energy projects. Regulatory Framework We also need to focus on the development of the country's grid infrastructure. Regrettably, the State utilities do not have adequate finances to invest in the development of power infrastructure. We need private equity to bridge the gap. AD should be offered on the investments and it should be backed by a strong revenue model.

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Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013 [35]

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Finally, it is imperative to establish strong regulatory mechanisms to secure payments. It should be mandatory for utilities to pay renewable energy projects on a priority basis. In the case of delays, the utilities should be required to pay 12 per cent interest - match the cost of funding from a bank. The wind industry in India has rapidly grown to be the third largest wind market in the world,

thanks to Government support. However, if this support is withdrawn, vast potential will be left unexplored. We still have a long way to go. With the right regulatory framework - as witnessed in the past - the Indian wind industry can move from strength to strength. The Budget should take some crucial steps for this critical but fragile sector. Source: Business Line

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[36] Weekly Current Affairs 28th January to 3rd February, 2013

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