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Events; Appointments; Etc.

: November 2011
APPOINTEDMariano Rajoy: He has been elected as the Prime Minister of Spain. He inherits a stagnant economy with a 23 per cent unemployment rate and borrowing costs back to levels Spain was paying before it joined the euro. Mario Monti: He has been appointed as the Prime Minister of Italy. Lucas Papademos: He has been appointed as the Prime Minister of Greece. Nabam Tuki: He has been elected as the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh. RESIGNED Silvio Berlusconi: Prime Minister of Italy. DIED Bhupen Hazarika: Noted singer, songwriter, composer and film maker from Assam. He was 85. He was not just a singer but a social reformer who brought the north-east closer to rest of India. A Dada Saheb Phalke award winner, his music echoed beyond borders. Indira Goswami: Celebrated poet and writer from Assam. She had been conferred with Sahitya Akademi and Jnanpith awards. She also became Indias first Principal Prince Claus Laureate in 2008. Among her popular publications are: The Moth Eaten Howdah of a Tusker, Pages Stained with Blood, and The Man from Chinnamasta. In The Blue Naked Braja, she gave her own experiences as a widow, as well as that of Radhaswamis of Vrindavan. Sultan Khan: Noted sarangi maestro. He was 75. Peter Roebuck: Noted 55-year-old British cricket writer. He was 55. Hargobind Khorana: Pioneering Indian-American biochemist who won the 1968 Nobel Prize for medicine. He was 89. Joe Frazier: Former world heavyweight champion. He was 67. EVENTS November 1Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt and pace bowler Mohammad Asif become the first cricketers ever to be convicted for fixing a part of a match. A 12-member jury at Londons

Southwark Crown Court finds them guilty of conspiracy to cheat and conspiring to accept corrupt payments during a Pakistan-England Test match at Lords in 2010. 2A landmark deal, signed between Nepals political parties to integrate about one-third of the 19,000 former Maoist guerrillas into the national army, sets the stage for reinvigorating the stalled peace process and formation of a national unity government after years of wrangling. 21The Uttar Pradesh Assembly votes to re-organise the State into four partsPurvanchal, Bundlekhand, Awadh Pradesh and Paschim Pradesh. 26NATO raid on two border posts of Pakistan, on Pak-Afghan border, kills 28 Pakistani soldiers. MILESTONES Rana Kapoor: Founder, managing director and chief executive of Yes Bank, he has been chosen as the Banker of the Year 2010-12 by Business Standard newspaper. Ivian Sarcos: Miss Venezuela, she has been crowned Mis World 2011. Niranjan V.: A Rhodes scholar and alumnus of National Law School of India University, Bangalore, he has topped in Oxford Universitys postgraduate programme, dubbed as one of the most demanding programmes in the world.

Current Affairs: November 2011

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Companies Bill On November 24, 2011, the Union Cabinet approved the Companies Bill, 2011, which aims to update corporate laws in the country and introduce modern concepts like mandatory CSR and class action suits. Intended to replace the existing half-acentury-old Companies Act, the Bill has undergone several modifications in view of the Rs 14,000-crore Satyam accounting fraud. Besides strengthening the provisions to check fraud, the Bill has introduced ideas INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Tunisia enters new era of democracy On November 22, 2011, Tunisia entered a new era of democracy with the inaugural session of its democratically elected Constituent Assembly, ten months after a popular uprising ended years of dictatorship. The 217-member Assembly is the first elected body produced by the Arab Spring. At the inauguration, the lawmakers, who will be tasked with drafting a new constitution and paving the way to fresh elections, sang the national anthem as the session got under way in the Bardo palace.

like mandatory corporate social responsibility (CSR), class action suits and a fixed term for independent directors. Among other things, it also proposes to tighten laws for raising money from the public. The Bill also seeks to prohibit any insider trading by company directors or key managerial personnel by treating such activities as a criminal offence. Further, it has proposed that companies should earmark two per cent of their average profits of the preceding three years for CSR activities and make a disclosure to shareholders about the policy adopted in the process. Pension Bill gets Cabinet nod The Union Cabinet has given its approval for the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Bill, which seeks to establish an authority that will develop, promote and regulate old-age income security. The Bill doesn't mention the extent of foreign ownership to be allowed in Indian pension funds and in a central recordkeeping agency. But in August 2011, the Finance Ministry had proposed to cap foreign investment in the pension sector at 26%, a suggestion accepted by a Parliamentary panel that was examining the Bill. Allowing 26% foreign direct investment in pension management would help the government claim its economic liberalization is proceeding. The process, begun in 1991, has dramatically changed India by allowing formerly State-owned industries to flourish in private hands. But many restrictions remain in place in key sectors, including finance where restrictions on foreign ownership remain. India also is eager to expand pension

This event is like a second independence for Tunisia, said Ahmed Mestiri, an iconic figure in the struggle for Tunisias 1956 independence from France. Despite assurances, some Tunisians have expressed concern that an Islamistdominated Tunisia could roll back hardearned rights such as the Code of Personal Status, seen notably as one of the Arab worlds most progressive sets of laws on women. US Secretary of State Hillary on historic visit to Myanmar On November 30, 2011, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Myanmar on the first top-level US visit for half a century, seeking to encourage a movement for change in the military-dominated nation. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has surprised observers with a series of reformist moves in the past year, including releasing opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest and nominally ending decades of military rule. President Barack Obama had personally announced Clintons trip during a visit to Asia earlier, citing flickers of hope. But his administration has sought to keep expectations low, mindful of other false dawns in Myanmar. Hillary said the United States and other nations hoped that the flickers will be ignited into a movement for change that will benefit the people of the country. India pips China to UN post India beat China fair and square in a rare direct fight for a key post in the UN, signalling that for all the display of Chinese hard power, India retains a fair bit of international clout. India will now serve a

coverage to more of its 1.2 billion citizens and to create a market for longer-term debt that pension funds often like to hold. Benefits from FDI in Retail While allowing FDI in retail sector, the Union government put out a strong defence of its decision to allow up to 51 per cent foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail and up to 100 per cent in single-brand retail. The move, it said, would generate about 10 million jobs over three years and help farmers get more for their produce, while dampening the prices of products. In its defence the government has claimed that 4 million jobs will be created in areas like sorting, packaging etc; another 4-5 million jobs will be created in logistics. India lacks cold storage chains. At present there are only 5,386 standalone cold storages and 80% of these are used only for potatoes. Around 35-40% of perishable farm produce gets rotten in post-harvesting period. With allowance of 100% FDI in cold storage chains is expected to take care of the problem. Farmers today get only up to one-third of what consumers pay in food-grains and realise just 12-15% of what consumers pay for vegetables and fruits. With the coming of organised retail sector the farmers will get better margins, according to the government. Gender inequality problem of India Close on the heels of the world population crossing the 7 billion-mark, the new Human Development Report of UNDP has revealed a major reason behind Indias growing numbers. While we are worrying about high total fertility rates (TFRs) of 2.6, new data points out that our adolescent fertility rates (AFR) are even more shocking at 86.3.

five-year term in the Joint Inspection Unit, the UNs only external oversight body. Indias candidate A. Gopinathan, envoy to the UN in Geneva, convincingly defeated the Chinese candidate, Zhang Yan, Chinas envoy to New Delhi, winning 106 votes against Zhangs 77. China has held the post for the past 10 years. India will get the post after 35 years. The vote was a shot in the arm for Indias multilateral diplomacy, but more specifically, for Indias UN diplomats, particularly the UN mission in New York under Hardeep Puri. India had put a welloiled election and lobbying machine to work, told all its heads of missions to go all out to pitch for its candidate and demarched other missions at least three times. Gopinathan is one of Indias finest diplomats and he enjoys a great deal of support within the cadre. According to Indian diplomats, the significance of the vote is that for the first time, India challenged a post considered a pocket borough by a P-5 member, and won. The US candidate on the JIU was replaced by an American and the Russian by a Russian. India, quite inadvertently, has shown that P-5 countries cannot always corner plum posts by virtue of their status. China ready for code of conduct in South China Sea On the back-foot after most ASEAN countries, including India, pressed for a discussion on the South China Sea disputes at the East Asia Summit in Bali, China has said it is willing to work out a code of conduct with them, pending settlement of the row. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao signalled the

Adolescent fertility ratedefined as the number of births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19is among the highest for India in South Asia. Only Nepal and Afghanistan have higher rates at 103.4 and 118.7. One of the main drivers of high gender inequality in India, which has the poorest (129th) Gender Inequality Index rank in South Asia (leaving aside Afghanistan which is poorer at 141), high adolescent fertility rate reflects that our child marriage prevention laws have simply not worked and our contraception prevalence rate remains poor at 54%. Even Sri Lanka has a higher contraception prevalence rate at 68%. On gender equality, India lags far behind China which is ranked a handsome 35 in the world (lower the rank on GII, better the state of gender equality). In China adolescent fertility rate is just 8.4, while TFR is also low at 1.6. Even on the other two major components that drive gender equalitywomens representation in national Parliament and the participation of age 25 years plus women in economic activitiesIndia is far behind many even in South Asia. Nepal is the best in this category with 33.2% women in Parliament, while China and Pakistan have 21.3% and 21%, respectivelymuch better than Indias 10.7%. As far as people who have attained secondary education are concerned, in India the percentage is 26.6 for women as against 50.4 for menindicating a wide gap, which is also seen in labour force participation, where women make up 32.8% workforce as against 81.1% men. India ranked 134th on UN Human Development Index India is ranked 134th among the 187

climb-down after two days of wrangling, which included unsuccessfully pressuring India to resolve the issue bilaterally. The topic had been a thorny issue, with China laying claim to all of the resourcerich South China Sea, while Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia, among others, claim parts of it. China and ASEAN countries signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, testifying to the fact that the freedom of navigation in the area has not been affected whatsoever, Wen said. In a remark aimed at keeping US out, Chinese assistant foreign minister Liu Zhenmin said China insisted the issue be confined to talks between the parties directly involved, through negotiation. ASEAN rewards Myanmar for reforms Myanmar has won approval of ASEAN to chair Southeast Asias regional bloc in 2014, in a reward for hints of reform from its new government after decades of military rule. Despite warnings from the US that the move was pre-mature, leaders of ASEAN handed Myanmar the diplomatic prize at their summit held on the Indonesian island of Bali. In 2006, Myanmar was forced to renounce the ASEAN rotating presidency in the face of criticism over its human rights record and the ruling juntas failure to shift to democracy. But since elections a year ago, the militarybacked government has held direct talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, freed 200 dissidents and frozen work on an unpopular mega-dam.

countries assessed for their performance in three key areas of human development education, health and income. The UNDP Global Human Development Index (HDI) 2011 places Norway, Australia and The Netherlands on top of the charts, while Congo, Niger and Burundi fare the worst in the annual rankings. Indias place remains unchanged because the index includes 18 new countries this time as against just 169 in 2010, when India stood at rank 119. This year, though, India is placed behind all its partners in BRICS, where Russia is the leader at number 66, followed by Brazil at 84; China at 101 and South Africa at 123. Within the South Asian Region, too, India is not in the lead, whereas Iran, at 88th position, fares at the top. Bhutan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Afghanistan are placed below India in HDI rankings and values. On Gender Inequality Index (GII), India is ranked a poor 129th in the world. It is ahead of only Afghanistan in South Asia on an indicator which measures gender parity in education, reproductive health (maternal mortality and adolescent fertility rate) and representation of women in national Parliaments and participation of women aged above 25 years in the countrys labour force. On the inequality adjusted indices for education and health, India fares poorly in BRICS nations and South Asias Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It loses substantial HDI value28.3 per centwhen internal inequalities in health, education and income are calculated. Roadmap to boost ties with Maldives During his visit to Male, on November 12, 2011, viewing the Indian Ocean region as

Rights campaigners say they fear that the reform drive could be reversed now that the government has won the coveted chairmanship, removing the incentive for more fundamental change. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, however, said that southeast Asian leaders were satisfied with the momentum in Myanmar. Along with the ASEAN chairmanship, the decision means Myanmar will host the East Asia Summit in 2014, which brings ASEAN members together with US, China and Russia, among others. China warns Australia against military pact with US On November 17, 2011, China has warned Australia that it may be caught in the crossfire if the US uses new Australiabased military forces to threaten its interests, a day after Canberra and Washington renewed a defence pact. US President Barack Obama, on his first official visit to Australia, had met Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and unveiled plans to station 2,500 US marines in the Northern Territory within five years. He confirmed Australias strategic importance in an Asia-Pacific century, dominated by the growing power of China and India. Istanbul conference on Afghan situation A decade after the Taliban government was ousted from power, regional leaders, on November 2, 2011, pledged to find ways to improve security and economic development in Afghanistan as international combat forces prepare to leave by the end of 2014. The one-day conference in Istanbul

part of India's extended neighbourhood, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spelt out initiatives spanning student scholarships, banking and finance credit lines worth $100 million, infrastructure projects and security and climate change cooperation in his address to Peoples Majlis, the Maldivian Parliament. Making clear Indias interests in this strategic chain of islands straddling key shipping and trade routes, Prime Minister Singh told Peoples Majlis that The President and I have signed a historic framework agreement on cooperation for development. The 70-odd members of Maldivian Parliament heard Singh in pin-drop silence as he outlined a powerful vision to integrate India and Maldives politically and economically. With China also perusing aggressive diplomacy in the island nation, India's footprint in this archipelago has vital foreign policy dimensions.

followed the September assassination of an Afghan peace envoy and other high-profile assaults in Afghanistan that have diminished prospects for a negotiated settlement and intensified suspicion of Pakistani support for the insurgency, an allegation that the Pakistans government denies. In an opulent hall on the shores of the Bosporus Strait, delegates delivered speeches promising support for Afghan sovereignty, and endorsed a transition to Afghan security leadership, efforts for a political solution to the war and economic development. As a show of solidarity, the meeting was a success, but it was also a reminder of how much remains unsolved. In all 14 countries agreed at the conference to cooperate in building the future of wartorn Afghanistan. Among the countries involved are Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, China, Russia and India, and several Arab States. Demanding an end to external interference in Afghan internal affairs, India stressed on the need to eliminate safe havens and sanctuaries, a stand that was reflected in the outcome document. On its part, Afghanistan termed the cooperation with New Delhi as a turning point and pitched for a bigger role for India in the region for desirable reasons. SAARC Summit, 2011 The 17th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was held at the Addu atoll in Maldives. In its 26th year, SAARC has finally taken the shape of a cohesive grouping of nations

According to a global survey, Quality of living survey, 2011 Bangalore has emerged as the best city to live in India. Vienna has been ranked as the worlds best city to live in, followed by Zurich, Auckland, Munich and Dusseldorf. World Aids Day is observed on December 1. The island nation of Kirabati has become the first to declare that its territory has become uninhabitable due

to global warming. They have asked for help to evacuate the population. The employee engagement initiative of NASDAQ-listed IT company iGate, Thank God its Monday, has entered the Limca Book of Records as the longest running corporate show. As part of the programme, in-house band of iGate, Rubberband, presents live musical performances every Monday afternoon at its Whitefield Campus in Bangalore. Buddhist sites in Sanchi have become the first blind-friendly world heritage monuments of India. Special tactical walk-ways, signages in Braille, beepers and Braile map will make the monuments, including the Stupa, come alive for the visually-challenged, who will also be allowed to feel the grandeur in every sense. The East Asia Summit, 2011 was held in Bali, Indonesia. A metal has been developed by a team of researchers from University of California at Irvine, HRL Laboratories and the California Institute of Technology with a density of 0.9 mg/cc. The metal, which is about 100 times lighter than styrofoam, is the worlds lightest material. The scientists were able to make a material, that consists of 99.99% air, by designing the 0.01% solid at the nanometre, micron and millimetre scales. National Integration Day is observed on November 19. Vivek Express is the new weekly train that covers Indias longest rail route

willing to cooperate in key areas to boost their economic clout. The Addu Declaration that the leaders agreed upon focused on the theme of Building Bridges. The leaders committed to work towards a huge boost in intra-SAARC trade, improving air, rail, motor and water transport connectivity between member countries and putting their heads together to solve common developmental concerns. Four agreements were also signed that included a rapid response mechanism to deal with natural disasters, an agreement to establish a SAARC Seed Bank and two agreements on harmonising regional standards for goods and products. Yet, SAARC still has a long way to go. Many of the leaders complained that while there were plenty of big ideas to move ahead, implementation of these had been slow. As Pakistans Gilani said, The gap between the promises made at SAARC and the reality needs to be bridged. Sri Lankas Rajapaksa echoed similar sentiments when he said at the plenary, What is evident around us is a mood of urgency and even impatience. This is especially so because a large and influential part of our societies consists of young people inspired by new ideas and looking forward with enthusiasm to a promising future for themselves. They cannot be kept waiting for long. Their patience is not infinite. Sensing the mood, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced that in a major effort to liberalise trade in the region, India had issued a notification to reduce the sensitive list under the South Asian Free Trade Area Agreement (SAFTA) from 480 tariff lines to just 25 for the five Least Developed Countries (LDC) of the region Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh

from Dibrugarh in Assam to Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, covering the distance of 4,286 km in approximately 83 hours. The train was flagged-off on November 19, 2011. The Union Finance Ministry has increased the investment limit for Foreign Institutional Investors (FII) in government securities (G-secs) and corporate bonds by $5 billion each, a move that will enhance capital flows and increase the availability of resources for Indian corporate. FIIs can now invest up to $15 billion in G-secs and $20 billion in corporate bonds. The Prime Ministers Rural Development Fellows (PMRDF) scheme has been launched to reach out to talented young professionals willing to be part of a larger change. After selection, these professionals will work in districts where the Central government is implementing Integrated Action Plan to deal with left wing extremists. They will support the district administration in providing socio-economic situation analysis, identifying critical gaps in development programmes. Queenslands Gold Coast in Australia has been named as 2018 Commonwealth Games host. Interest rate on post office savings has been hiked to 4%. PPF will now fetch 8.6% return and investment limit has also been increased to Rs one lakh per year. State-run mineral giant NMDC has struck it rich by unearthing a 37.68 carat diamond, the biggest-ever gem

and Maldives. He said that zero basic customs duty access will be given to all items removed with immediate effect. The main reason why SAARC has met with only moderate success is that it has tried to do many things that has resulted in somewhat diffusing its focus. Experts feel that it should focus on key areas such as trade liberalisation and making SAFTA a reality, improving connectivity through transport by having air, rail and motor vehicles agreements and taking steps to enhance agricultural productivity and ensuring food security. The Addu declaration rightly emphasises these priorities and needs to be urgently implemented. The Addu declaration Intensify efforts to fully and effectively implement the South Asian Free Trade Areas (SAFTA) agreement and work on reduction in Sensitive Lists as well as early resolution of non-tariff barriers and expediting the process of harmonizing standards and customs procedures. Direct SAARC Finance Ministers to chart a proposal that would allow for greater flow of financial capital and intra-regional longterm investment. Conclude the Regional Railways Agreement and convene the Expert Group Meeting on the Motor Vehicles Agreement before the next Session. Ensure completion of the preparatory work on the Indian Ocean Cargo and Passenger Ferry Service, including the Feasibility Study, by the end of 2011. Direct the conclusion of the Intergovernmental Framework Agreement for Energy Cooperation and the Study on the

produced from the legendry diamond mines in Panna, Madhya Pradesh. India is among the nine new members elected to the prestigious World Heritage Committee (WHC) for the next four years. This gives India the authority of a final say on whether a property can be inscribed on the World Heritage List. To stop encroachment around monuments and sites of archaeological importance, the Union government has established the National Monument Authority (NMA) under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment & Validation) Act. National Education Day is observed on November 11, birthday of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. November 7 is observed as the National Cancer Awareness Day. Yingluck Shinawatra, first woman Prime Minister of Thailand, will be thr chief gust for Indias 2012 Republic Day celebrations. From April 1, 2012, the Reserve Bank of India has cut the validity of Cheques and bank drafts to three months instead of the six months earlier. Himachal Pradesh has become the first State of India to drop the use of surnames of its police officers. They are now referred to by their first names only. The Reserve Bank of India has issued a notification making it mandatory for

Regional Power Exchange Concept as also the work related to SAARC Market for Electricity.

Business News
Tanishq stores across the country have started a new sub-brand Mia, which is targeted at working women in the agegroup of 20-30 years. Cyrus Mistry, the younger son of construction tycoon Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry, has been chosen to succeed Rattan Tata as the Chairman of the Tata group. He will take over in December 2012. He will be the sixth and youngest chairman of the Tata group, and only the second non-Tata after Sir Nowroji Saklatvala to head the group. Jaxtr Inc., founded by Sabeer Bhatia and Yogesh Patel, has announced the launch of JaxtrSMS, a cross-platform, open-texting application to send SMSs to anyone in the world for free. The Tokyo and Osaka stock exchanges have agreed to merge in 2013 to create the worlds third-biggest bourse with listed stocks worth around $3.6 trillion. The combined value of stocks listed on exchanges would trail only NYSE Euronext at $12 trillion and NASDAQ OMX Group Inc at nearly $4 trillion. Adidas, the German sportswear and equipment maker, is set to launch a shoe costing one dollar a pair in India. The shoe will be sold in villages through a distribution network. California-based mobile video service

all demand drafts above Rs 20,000 to be account payee only. The step has been taken following reports that a lot of black money was being transacted within the country using bank channel. The sixth G20 Summit was held at Cannes, on November 3-4, 2011. Congress President Sonia Gandhi (11th) and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (19th) figure among the top 20 most powerful people on earth in the latest Forbes list that is topped by US President Barack Obama. The Union Cabinet has cleared a new public procurement policy under which central government departments and public sector undertakings will give preference to small scale enterprises, including those belonging to scheduled castes and tribes. The policy has set an annual target of 20% procurement from micro, small and medium enterprises. India is ranked 134th on UN Human Development Index, among the 187 countries assessed for their performance in three key areas of human developmenteducation, health and income.

provider, Vuclip, has launched Indias first independent mobile movie portal Starlight Cinema. This would offer users the options of watching shortened feature films, movie clips, songs, reviews and trailers. Titan Industries, Indias largest organised watches retailer, has decided to acquire heritage Swiss watch brand Favre Leuba for two million euros. Created in 1737, Favre Leuba is one of the very first watch making companies in Switzerland. Professional social networking site LinkedIn has opened a research and development (R&D) centre in Bangalore. This is the California-based companys first R&D centre outside North America. Tropicana 100%, the juice brand from PepsiCo, has launched a new campaignNow Breakfast shall Win. The new campaign metamorphically depicts everyday battles between breakfast and the interruptions that lead to a rushed morning. In the Fortune list of most powerful business women in India, ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar has been listed as the most powerful business woman in India. Former ICICI executive and Axis Bank MD and CEO Shikha Sharma is at the second spot. Mukesh Ambani owned Infotel has acquired a 38.5% stake in digital learning solutions form Extramarks Education. Reliance Brands, a unit of reliance Industries Ltd, has struck a deal with NYSE-listed American fashion retailer

Kenneth Cole to open stores in top Indian metros.

Events; Appointments; Etc.: October 2011

APPOINTED; ELECTED; Etc. Almazbek Atambayev: He has been elected as the President of Kyrgyzstan. He was earlier the Prime Minister of the country. Michael D. Higgins: Irish poet and human rights activist, he has been appointed as the ninth President of Ireland. Ashok Chawla: He has been appointed as the Chairman of Competition Commission of India. Justice Markandey Katju (Retd.): He has been appointed as the Chairman of the Press Council of India. RESIGNED Jarbom Gamlin: Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh. DISTINGUISHED VISITORS Hamid Karzai: President of Afghanistan. Truong Tan Sang: President of Vietnam. U Thein Sain: President of Myanmar. Jigme Khesar Mangyel Wangchuck: King of Bhutan. Banuram Bhattarai: Prime Minister of Nepal. DIED Steve Jobs: Apple co-founder who changed the daily habits of millions by reinventing computing, music and mobile phones. He changed the technology world in late 1970s, when the Apple-II became the first personal computer to gain a wide following. He did it again in 1984 with the Macintosh, which was built on the breakthrough technologies developed at Xerox Parc and elsewhere to create the personal computing experience as we know today. He was 56. Jagjit Singh: Ghazal king who relegated music lovers for over four decades with his soulful renditions. He was 70. His evergreen ghazals include Kaaghaz ki kashti, Ahista-Ahista, Tum itna jo muskrat rahe ho, Tum ko dekha, Hothon se choo lot tum. EVENTS OCTOBER 20Muammar Gaddafi, the man who rules Libya for 42 years, is killed by fighters who overran his hometown and final bastion Sirte. 23More than 1000 people are killed as earthquake jolts south-east Turkey. 23Libya declares its liberation from 42 years of one-man rule by Muammar

Gaddafi, setting the north African State on course for a transition towards democracy. 23Tunisia votes in first free elections, nine months after their revolution sparked the Arab Spring. 31World Population touches another milestone as India welcomes baby Nargis as the symbolic seven millionth baby. 31NATO ends its military operation in Libya, seven months after launching an air and sea campaign that helped bring about the overthrow and death of Muammar Gaddafi. MILESTONES Shanti Tigga: 35-year-old Sapper Shanti Tigga has become the first woman jawan of the Indian army. She has joined the 969 Railway Engineer Regiment of the Territorial Army. Chanda Kochhar: Managing Director of ICICI Bank, she is the first woman to get the Economic Times Business Leader award. Raj Dutt: Indian-American engineer, he has developed a next-generation energy-efficient computer chip. The chip consumes up to 90% less energy and runs up to 60% faster. The significance of the technology is that the information transfer on the semi-conductor chip, as well as between components will be done by lightphotonsinstead of just electrons (or electricity). Naveen Jindal: In a first for an Indian, the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) has named its School of Management after Naveen Jindal, Chairman and MD of Jindal Steel and Power Ltd and a member of Parliament.

Current Affairs: October 2011

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Saving Bank Interest rate decontrol Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has freed interest rates on savings deposits. As per a rough estimate, about Rs 13 lakh crore of funds are parked in savings bank. The interest on these accounts had been fixed at 4% even as inflation was two-and-a-half times that level. Now savings rate deregulation gives people an opportunity to shift to banks that come up with better deals. Although savings deposits can be withdrawn without notice and interest rates are calculated on daily basis, a part of these INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is killed On October 20, 2011, Muammar Gaddafi, who ruled Libya for 42 years was killed by fighters who overran his home-town and final bastion Sirte. His bloodied body was stripped and displayed around the world from a cellphone video. The dictator was captured cowering in a drainage pipe full of rubbish and filth. At the time of capture, Gaddafi was already wounded with gunshots to his leg and to his back.

deposits are perpetual, partly because amounts withdrawn are replenished by monthly earnings and partly because banks mandate a minimum balance ranging between Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 in savings accounts. Banks that are short of retail deposits, like Yes Bank and IDBI Bank, are in a better position to offer higher rates as their overall cost will not rise to that extent. Larger banks, such as SBI and HDFC Bank, may resist initially, preventing their overall cost of funds from rising. But if their customers respond to higher rates offered by rivals, they may be forced to follow suit. Given that the deregulation has come at a time when the interest rate cycle is close to its peak and banks are paying 8.5% for overnight money, it is likely that return on savings deposit will rise. But if there is a slowdown in the economy and demand for credit slips, banks may even lower deposit rates from current levels. An increase in Saving Bank account rates will put pressure on bank margins. Even if rates go up by only one percentage point, the cost of funds will go up by 0.25% for a bank that has 25% of its resources coming from savings deposits. Study on rural school education A new study on learning and teaching outcomes in government schools of rural India has thrown up significant challenges for the Right to Education Act. It has found that in language and Maths, children are at least two grades behind where they should be. Besides, though the RTE Act stresses teacher qualifications immensely, neither higher educational qualifications nor teacher training are associated with better student learning. It is the teachers ability to teach that matters.

Joyous government fighters fired their weapons in the air, shouted Allahu Akbar and posed for pictures. Others wrote graffiti on the concrete parapets of the highway. Gaddafi was captured here, said one simply. a small group of junior army officers who in September 1969 staged a bloodless coup, overthrowing King Idris while he was abroad for medical treatment. Fiercely anti-western and inspired by Egypt's President Nasser, he governed according to his unique political philosophyset out in his Green Book based on a combination of socialism and Arab nationalism. For four decades, the wilful, mercurial figure of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi ruled Libya with an iron grip while remaining a persistent thorn in the side of the West. Branded mad dog by Ronald Reagan, the outlandish antics, flamboyant dress and bombastic pronouncements of the selfstyled Brother Leader made him a figure of ridicule at times. During his travels abroad, a blonde Ukrainian nurse accompanied him and he insisted on staying in his Bedouin tent, protected by his team of glamorous female bodyguards. He was also associated with some of the most notorious terror acts of the pre-9/11 era. He shipped arms to the IRA during the troubles in Northern Ireland and his regime took responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing. At home in Libya, he ruthlessly crushed dissent against his autocratic rule while his agents hunted down and killed opponents abroad. When his peopleinspired by the Arab Springfinally rose up against him, he responded with a characteristic mixture

Conducted by NGO Pratham, which comes out with the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), the study tracked 30,000 children in Standard 2 and Standard 4 in 900 schools spread over Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Rajasthan. These children were followed for 15 months (2009-2010) and it was found that the concept of age appropriate grade and teaching (which RTE Act emphasises) did not match ground realities. In language and Maths, there were substantial gaps between what textbooks expected of children and what they could do. The study also assessed schools for child friendlinessa concept of the RTE Act. After 850 hours of classroom observation, it found most primary school classrooms were not child friendly at all. Students asked teachers questions in a quarter of all classrooms; students work was displayed in about a quarter; teachers smile or laugh with students in about one fifth of all classrooms and use local information to make content relevant in about one fifth classrooms. On the language front, the study found that out of more than 11,500 Standard 2 children tested, less than 30 pc could read simple words. A year later, 40 pc could read words they should have been able to read in Class I. Also, the children vary in ability, challenging the concept of age appropriate teaching, as mentioned in the Right To Education Act. Right to property is a human right: SC Widening the scope of human rights, the Supreme Court has ruled that peoples right to own property fell very much within the domain of human rights. Pointing out that human rights were gaining a multi-faceted

of bluster and brutality calling for the devils to be cleansed. But for all the outrage over his flouting of international norms, he was also seen by diplomats as a wily political operator, proving to be one of the great survivors in a turbulent region. Through assassination attempts, sanctions and US air strikes, he doggedly clung to power. Commonwealth Summit The 2012 Commonwealth Summit concluded in Perth, Australia on October 30, 2011. The group collectively pledged to fight terrorism by preventing the use of their territories for terrorist acts or financing and also vowed to accelerate efforts to combat piracy and strengthening maritime security in the Indian Ocean. The 54-nation bloc also committed to unequivocally preventing the use of their territories for the support, incitement to violence or commission of terrorist acts. They also agreed to work towards implementing the necessary legal framework for the suppression of terrorist financing, and preventing the raising and use of funds by terrorists, their front organisations, and transnational terrorist organisations. A commitment was also made to accelerate efforts to conclude negotiations on a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. Vice-President Hamid Ansari represented India. On the international security front, piracy was another issue that figured prominently in the communique as the group maintained their commitment to a stable and secure

dimension, a Bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma observed that these rights had already covered the individual rights such as right to health, right to livelihood, right to shelter and employment etc. Right to property is also considered very much a part of the new dimension now, the Bench held in a verdict that questioned the rationale behind the law on adverse possession under which any person in illegal occupation of a property for 12 years could claim legal ownership of it. Providing yet another new dimension to human rights, the SC opined that even claim of adverse possession has to be read in that context. This clearly implied that depriving an individual of his property amounted to violation of his human rights. Government cannot change purpose of acquired land: SC Land acquired by the government or its instrumentalities for a specific public purpose cannot be changed and transferred to private individuals or corporate bodies, the Supreme Court has held. The apex court passed the judgement while dismissing the appeal of certain corporate houses challenging the Karnataka High Courts decision to quash the acquisition proceedings of over 37 acres of land in south Bangalore. The Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation had acquired private land through the State government to build a golf resort. Instead of constructing the resort, it chose to transfer the land to a private real estate developer for a group housing project; and also other corporate houses. Aggrieved by the decision, the private land owners approached the High Court, which

national and international environment. CHOGM also called for encouraging the international community to mobilise additional funding for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), as also combating proliferation and trafficking of illicit small arms and light weapons. The Commonwealth leaders also advocated the embracing of moderation as an important value to overcome all forms of extremism, as called for in the Global Movement of the Moderates and improving legislation and capacity in tackling cyber crime and other cyber space security threats, including through the Commonwealth Internet Governance Forum's Cyber Crime Initiative. The group also affirmed support to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and its Seventh Review Conference in December 2011 and pledged to continue tackling the root causes of conflict, including through the promotion of democracy, development and strong legitimate institutions. Heralding an end to over 300 years of English Constitutional tradition, Commonwealth nations approved changes to the rule of succession, which passed the crown to the oldest male heir, to allow the first-born daughters to inherit the British throne. The changes to the outdated laws would also allow heirs who marry Roman Catholics to inherit the throne. Queen Elizabeth II is head of state of 16 Commonwealth realms, including Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The 2013 CHOGM meet will be hosted by Sri Lanka. IBSA Summit

quashed the acquisition proceedings and directed that the land be restored to the original owners. The owners were also asked to return the compensation received by them at the time of acquisition. National Manufacturing Policy cleared On October 25, 2011, the UPA government cleared its ambitious national manufacturing policy (NMP) that seeks to create a massive 100 million additional jobs in the manufacturing sector by 2025, as well as create large sized industrial zones with easier compliance and labour laws. The new policy seeks to boost the stagnating manufacturing sector to contribute at least 25 per cent of the national GDP by 2025. The share of manufacturing in Indias GDP has stagnated at 15 to 16 per cent since 1980 while the share in comparable economies in Asia, like China, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia, is much higher at 25 to 34 per cent. Also, the manufacturing sector has a multiplier effect in creation of two to three additional jobs in the allied sectors. The policy also seeks to empower rural youth by imparting necessary skill sets to make them employable. Sustainable development and technological value addition in manufacturing have received special focus. The policy will be a partnership between the Central and State governments. The former will create the policy framework, provide incentives for infrastructure development on a public private partnership basis through appropriate financing instruments, while State governments will identify the suitable land and be equity holders in the national investment and manufacturing zones (NIMZs).

The 5th IBSA Summit, which was held in Pretoria on October 18, 2011, came out with a declaration on major global issues with focus on reforms of multilateral organisations, including the UN Security Council, the IMF and the World Bank, to give greater voice to emerging countries like India. On global governance reform, the three leaders reaffirmed their commitment to increase the participation of developing countries in the decision-making bodies of multilateral institutions. They underscored the need for urgent reform of the United Nations (UN) to render it more democratic and consistent with the current geopolitical reality. They particularly emphasised that no reform of the United Nations will be complete without a reform of the UN Security Council (UNSC), including an expansion in both the permanent and non-permanent categories of its membership, with increased participation of developing countries in both. IBSA, as like-minded countries, will continue to strive to contribute to a new world order whose political, economic and financial architecture is more inclusive, representative and legitimate, the declaration said. It also called for the early implementation of the targets for the reform of the International Monetary Fund in order to ensure that the body is democratic, responsive and accountable. The leaders reiterated that the governing structure of the Fund should reflect the changed realities of the global economy in the 21st century, through the increased voice and representation of emerging economies and developing countries.

A defining feature of the policy has been the endeavour to improve the business regulatory environment by providing single window clearances. In order to protect the interests of labour in the eventuality of a closure of a unit, a suitable mechanism has been devised using innovative job loss policy and sinking fund to insure workers against such loss. Green manufacturing has received a special attention. Also, small and medium enterprises will be given access to the patent pool, up to a maximum of Rs 20 lakh, for acquiring patented technologies. India Human Development Report, 2011 On October 21, 2011, the Planning Commission released the second India Human Development Report (HDR) 2011, which records controversial claims and a few surprises on income, education, health, literacy and sanitation. The last Indiaspecific report had come out in 2000. The report claims that poverty, unemployment and child labour are declining, inter-State disparities are getting narrower and that the improved Human Development Index has been driven by strides made in education. It does concede, however, that the absolute number of the poor (27 per cent according to the report) stood at 302 million, compared to 320 million in 1973. Sixty per cent of the poor are still concentrated in Bihar, it holds. Prepared by the Institute of Applied Manpower Research of the Commission, the report claims that between 2000 and 2007, the Human Development Index rose by 21 per cent, higher than 17 per cent recorded by China during the same period and the 18 per cent estimated by the Global Human Development Report, 2010.

The leaders also agreed that the Heads and senior leadership of all international institutions should be appointed through an open, transparent and merit-based process, beginning with the selection of the next President of the World Bank in 2012. The declaration expressed concern at the ongoing deterioration of the global economic scenario, which presents particular challenges for the economic policy and growth prospects of developing and low-income countries. They stressed the importance of the implementation of a credible plan of macro-economic and financial policies and structural reforms by the Eurozone countries, as a necessary step to prevent further negative shocks to the world economy. They also highlighted the importance of complementary measures by other key developed economies to boost recovery and help the global economy as a whole. The leaders stressed on the need to increase policy coordination amongst G-20 nations, with a view to avert a new recession and to promote a robust recovery in order to ensure strong, sustainable and balanced growth of the global economy in the medium term. The current impasse in the WTO negotiations is a source of serious concern, the declaration said. Intra-IBSA trade has done well despite the economic slowdown of 2008 and its aftershocks. Trade between the three countries is already close to $20 billion, having in 2009 crossed the target of $15 billion set for 2012. Indias trade with Brazil and South Africa accounts for a majority of this trade. Direct air connectivity is expected to give tourism a major boost and the IBSA trade

The top five slots, states the report, were occupied by Kerala, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Goa and Punjab (same as in the last India HDR 2000). Haryana slipped two places from 7 to 9 while Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand improved a notch to finish 9th and 14th, respectively. For the six lowest HDI statesBihar, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and AssamHDI improvement has been considerably above the national average. Education (mainly primary level enrolment of 96 pc) is the big gain for India. There has been an improvement of 28.5 per cent in Education Index between 1999 and 2008. Health Index rose by just 13 pc over the period of study. Gujarat fares poorly on hunger index, ranked 13th out of 17. The eight poor States (Bihar, UP, MP, Orissa, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Uttrakhand, Chhattisgarh) which are home to 48 percent of all SCs, 52 pc of all STs and 44 pc of all Muslims, have posted HDI improvements across groups and States doing well are doing so across board. Muslims posted the sharpest decline in total fertility rate among all social groups and the highest increase in contraception prevalence rate. Muslims fare better than SCs and STs on other human development indicators. A higher percentage of the minority group has access to toilets too. National Policy on Electronics On October 3, 2011, the Union government unveiled the draft National Policy on Electronics, 2011, which aims at $400 billion turnover in 2020 by the domestic industry and focuses on reducing imports. The National Policy of Electronics-2011

ministers agreed to look at visa related issues so that the process for business visas is made easier. It was also decided to reconcile trade data and devise a common reporting format, as well as methods for capturing all the data of trilateral trade, including those occurring through third countries. With the process on ratification of the Mercosur-SACU (Southern Africa Customs Union) free trade agreement advancing, and initiation of steps to implement the India Mercosur preferential trade agreement, the decks have now been cleared for making progress on a trilateral FTA involving India, SACU and Mercosur. This pact, linking developing countries in the three continents, is envisaged as one of the most ambitious free trade areas in the world and will be a symbol of growing South-South cooperation. For further details CLICK HERE Palestine wins UNESCO seat in a historic vote On October 31, 2011, Palestine won full admission into UNESCO, the United Nations science, education and cultural heritage organization, in a closely watched vote in Paris. Global diplomacy hands view the 107-14 vote as a benchmark carrying larger implications for the Palestinians bid for State recognition before the UN Security Council. Both the United States and Israel have strongly opposed both initiatives. The United States, Israel, Canada, Germany, Sweden and Australia were among the 14 nations voting against the Palestinians UNESCO bid, while 107 countriesincluding France, Spain, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, India, Russia, China, South Africa and Indonesia voted in favour. Fourteen nations

envisions creating a globally competitive electronics systems design and manufacturing (ESDM) industry, including nano-electronics, to meet the country's needs and serve the international market. It is aimed at making India the hub of electronic manufacturing. The policy proposes setting up of over 200 electronic manufacturing clusters. Draft Policy on Information and Communication Technology The draft national policy on information and communications technology, 2011, was unveiled by Telecom & IT Minister Kapil Sibal on October 7, 2011. It aims at increasing the revenues of the information technology and IT enabled services (ITES) industry to US $300 billion by 2020. With the exports contributing to the majority of the $80 billion earning presently of the IT and ITES industry the policy proposes to encourage growth of indigenous demands and market. The proposed policy also aims at formulating fiscal and other incentives to attract investment in this sector in tier II and III cities. The Indian IT and ITES sector currently employs over 2.5 million skilled people and has been one of the major employment generators in the last two decades. The focus of the IT policy is on deployment of ICT in all sectors of the economy and providing IT solutions to the world. The policy will extend the National eGovernance Plan (NeGP) and mandate provision of all government services through electronic mode within a fixed time frame by enactment of the electronic delivery of services (EDS) Bill, to enhance transparency, accountability, efficiency, reliability and decentralization in

including the United Kingdom and Italy abstained. Washington, which called the UNESCO vote premature, has threatened to cut off funding to UNESCO if Palestine is granted membership. The United States currently accounts for about one-fifth of the organizations budget. The United States had earlier also pulled out of UNESCO under President Ronald Reagan, rejoining two decades later under President George W. Bush. Israels Ministry of Foreign Affairs also rejected the UNESCO vote, and warned it would set back peace process. Palestines successful UNESCO bid came as Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair was due to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House. Blair has been trying to advance the Quartets efforts to get the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table, asking each side to lay out their specific terms for resolving the issues of borders and security for a two-state solution. Meanwhile, Israeli officials have been depicting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as an unworthy peace partner. UNESCO protects historic heritage sites and works to improve world literacy, access to schooling for girls and cultural understanding, but it has also come under criticism in the past as a forum for antiIsrael sentiment.

Business News
Omnicom Group Inc, the worlds second largest advertising group after WPP, has announced an agreement to

government and, in particular, in delivery of public services. Visit of President of Afghanistan Disillusioned by Pakistans attitude and its hobnobbing with the Haqqani network, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai focused on strengthening ties with India during his visit to New Delhi on October 4, 2011. In what is bound to irk Pakistan, India and Afghanistan entered into a strategic partnership under which India will, among other things, assist the war-ravaged nation in training, equipping and capacity building programmes for Afghan National Security Forces. The landmark agreement was signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Afghan President Hamid Karzai after their wide ranging discussions on the situation in the embattled nation and how India could strengthen its capacity building programmes in that country. The two countries also concluded a MoU on cooperation in the field of development of hydrocarbons and another on cooperation in the field of mineral resource development. Though he was quite careful not to mention Pakistan by name on the Indian soil while addressing the media with the Indian PM, Karzai did take Islamabad to task for continuing to foment trouble in his country. Radicalism is being used as an instrument of State policy against citizens of Afghanistan, he said. In the past, India has trained a small number of officers from the Afghan National Army but avoided getting involved in security operations. The strategic partnership accord has stepped up its attempts to control the future dispensation in Kabul after the

acquire a majority stake in Mudra Group, controlled by Reliance ADAG. MF Global has become the first US financial casualty of the European debt crisis. It has filed for bankruptcy protection. Sony Corp has taken over the Sony Ericsson mobile phone joint venture for 1.05 billion euros. The deal will give Sony ownership of certain handset patents held by Ericsson and will enable it to integrate the joint ventures output with its own range of products and contents. Nokia has announced its first devices powered by Microsofts Windows Phone platform. The two phones are Lumia 800 and Lumia 710. Besides, Nokia has also launched three Asha phones, which combine touch screen with a keyboard and are targeted to consumers looking for cheap feature phones in emerging markets like India. As per the latest Forbes list, Krafts CEO Irene Rosenfeld is the most powerful woman in the US business. She beat Indra Noori, CEO of PepsiCo, who remained at the top spot for last five years, to the second place. Sudhir Vasudeva is the new Chairman of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). British carrier Virgin Atlantic has announced a strategic tie-up with energy firm LanzaTech to develop in India a low carbon fuel using waste gases from industrial steel production. The fuel will have just half the carbon footprint of the standard fossil fuel alternative.

withdrawal of the US-led NATO forces by 2014. Under the agreement, the two sides will engage in close political cooperation by establishing a mechanism for regular bilateral political and Foreign Office Consultations. Political consultations will be led by the Foreign Ministries of both countries and include summit level consultations convened at least once a year. The two sides will also consult and cooperate at the United Nations and other international, regional and multilateral forums. India and Afghanistan also agreed to establish a Strategic Dialogue to provide a framework for cooperation in the area of national security. The dialogue will be led by National Security Advisers (NSAs) and involve regular consultations with the aim of intensifying mutual efforts towards strengthening regional peace and security. The two countries have also committed themselves to strengthening trade, economic, scientific and technological cooperation, as well as cooperation between other bodies of business and industry representatives, with a view to expanding trade and economic relations. Visit of President of Myanmar Rolling out the red carpet for Myanmar President U Thein Sein, India, on October 14, 2011, exhorted him to strengthen democratic transition in his country in an inclusive and broad-based manner. During talks with the visiting leader, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced the extension of a new concessional facility of $500 million line of credit (LoC) for specific projects in the South-east Asian country. This is in addition to $300 million line of credit already extended by India for the

Microsoft has launched its latest version of the Windows phone operating system, Mango, in India. R.K. Tayagi has been appointed as the new Chairman of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). India has climbed 10 spots to reach 34th ranking on the global IT industry competitive index, compiled jointly by Business Software Alliance and the Economic Intelligence Unit. The Union government has given a major boost to the television industry by clearing an ordinance to completely digitize the Rs 20,000-crore cable and satellite television industry in India by 2014. The move is expected to improve the subscription revenues and end a hefty carriage fee they pay the cable TV operators.

Nivesh Mitra is a online platform for entrepreneurs, launched by the Uttar Pradesh government. The interface combines online payment facility and several unique features for facilitating quicker processing of matters relating to industrialists and investors. The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has renamed the Lakhanpur-Jammu-Srinagar National Highway 1-A as the Lakhanpur-Jammu-Srinagar National Highway 44. It is the lone surface link between the Kashmir valley and rest of the country.

development of railways, transport, power transmission lines and oil refinery there. The two countries signed a MoU for upgrading of the Yangon Childrens Hospital and the Sittwe General Hospital and a programme of cooperation in science and technology for 2012-2015. They also decided to intensify cooperation in diverse fields, including security, economic and energy. Significantly, President Seins visit came close on the heels of his invitation to prodemocracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi for a political dialogue and the release of around 200 political detainees, the latest in the series of reformist moves undertaken by Yangon. Observers say the release of political prisoners and wooing of Suu Kyi reflects Myanmars desire to end its long international isolation and seek lifting of trade and financial sanctions. Myanmar is crucial for India as it shares nearly 1,600-km border with the northeastern States. It has helped India immensely in tackling north-eastern insurgent groups. It also shares more than 2000-km-long border with China. Traditionally considered any ally of Beijing, Myanmar recently suspended a $3.6 billion China-backed dam project in Yangon. In a joint statement issued after talks between the two sides, India and Myanmar reaffirmed their unequivocal and uncompromising position against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Visit of Prime Minister of Nepal Nepal's Maoist Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai arrived in New Delhi on October 20, 2011a visit aimed at mending fences with India and removing any misunderstandings, particularly over

It has taken just 12 years for the world population to reach from 6 to 7billion mark. World population did not reach 1 billion mark until 1804. It took 123 years to reach the 2-billion mark in 1927, 33 years to reach 3 billion in 1960, 14 years to reach 4 billion in 1974, 13 years to reach 5 billion in 1987 and 12 years to reach 6 billion in 1999. World population is projected to nearly stabilise at just above 10 billion after 2200. China (19%) and India (17%) together make up 36% of the world population. The Tokyo Sky Tree, which is under construction in downtown Tokyo, Japan, will stand 634 m high after completion and will be the tallest stand-alone communications tower in the world. An escopetarrist is a musician whose guitar is made of a defunct AK-47 rifle. The guitar is called escopetarra combining escopeta and guitarra, Spanish for shot gun and guitar. The Union Cabinet has approved Minimum Support Price (MSP) for wheat at Rs 1,285 a quintal. In its quarterly monetary review, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), on October 25, 2011, increased the interest rate by 25 basis points. RBI has also de-regulated the savings account interest rate. Banks are also now free to fix interest rates on deposits above Rs one lakh. RBI has also lowered the economic growth forecast to 7.6 per cent for 2011-12. RBI has also accepted the Damodaran Committee recommendations under

Kathmandus increasing tilt towards China. Bhattarai is seen as an acceptable leader for New Delhi and there is hope that he will act as a bridge to improve ties between the two neighbours. With political uncertainty continuing in Nepal, India nudged Bhattarai to expedite the peace process and frame a new constitution in the Himalayan nation. New Delhi seemed pleased over the fact that Bhattarai had come to India on his first bilateral visit abroad after taking charge as Nepals Prime Minister less than two months ago. Nepal believes that India can use its leverage with all political parties and formations in Nepal to push forward the peace process. The integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist cadre continues to divide the Maoists and the Nepali Congress. India extended a 250 million Line of Credit (LoC) to Nepal and signed a key bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement (BIPPA) after talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Nepalese counterpart Baburam Bhattarai. The two countries also signed an MoU regarding Indias assistance for goitre control programme in Nepal and pledged to work in close cooperation on various bilateral projects. The $ 250 million LoC will be used to finance infrastructure projects such as highways, airports, bridges, irrigation, roads, railways and hydropower projects. However, no pact with long-term implications like the extradition treaty was signed.

which banks will have to withdraw pre-payment charges on home loans. RBI has also hiked the home loan limit for Urban Co-op banks to Rs 30 lakh with a tenure of 20 years. The Union government has planned to float seven mega zones to boost manufacturing. These will be: Ahmedabad-Dholera (Gujarat), Shendra-Bidkin (Maharashtra), Manesar-Bawal (Haryana), Khushkhera-Bhiwadi (Rajasthan), Dighi Port Area (Maharashtra), DadriNoida-Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh) and Pithampur-Dhar-Mhow (Madhya Pradesh). The 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) was held at Perth, Australia. India was represented by Vice-President Hamid Ansari. As per the Forbes annual India rich list, Mukesh Ambani, head of Reliance Industries, has retained his position as the richest Indian with a net worth of $22.6 billion. Second in the lsit is Lakshmi Mittal, followed by Azim Premji, Shashi and Ravi Ruia and Savitri Jindal. No Higher Honour is a book written by Condoleeza Rice, former Secretary of State of USA. Mumbai has emerged as the city with the highest number of internet users in India. Mumbai is followed by Delhi, Kolkata Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. World Polio Day is observed on October 24.

India and Switzerland Info Exchange Treaty India and Switzerland will start exchanging information on tax related matters from 2012-13 after the new tax information exchange treaty is ratified by the Swiss Parliament, paving way for obtaining data on black money stashed there. The move comes at a time when the issue of black money stashed in Swiss banks has become a major concern in India, with political parties and civil society taking up the matter. The protocol amending the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Switzerland was concluded in New Delhi on August 30 2011. The revised treaty would allow India to access tax related information from the Swiss authorities with a prospective effect. Visit of President of Vietnam President of Vietnam, Mr Truong Tan Sang, visited New Delhi on October 11, 2011 to further strengthen the ties between the two countries. Un-fazed by Chinese threats, he said India and other foreign nations were welcome to explore hydrocarbons in areas within his country's jurisdiction, as he sought to deepen strategic and defence ties with New Delhi. President Sang said the objectives of his trip are to continue to strengthen friendship between the two peoples, reinforce, deepen and add greater substance to bilateral strategic partnership. Ignoring Chinas protestations, India and Vietnam signed an agreement to promote oil exploration in the South China Sea apart from inking five other accords, including an extradition treaty. They also instituted a security dialogue to strengthen their strategic partnership.

Global Iodine Deficiency Disorders Prevention Day is observed on October 21. The Union government has announced setting up of National Institute of Sports Science and Medicine (NISSM) at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi. The institute will aim at fostering the disciplines of physiology, psychology, nutrition, biochemistry, biomedical, anthropometry and sports medicine. Mahendergarh district of Haryana has entered the Limca Book of Records and Guinness Book of World Records for the biggest eye camps organized at seven places to mark Gandhi Jayanti. Eyes of 8,006 persons were screened in these camps. The camps were organized by Hasanpuria Grameen Janseva Sammitti, in collaboration with the district administration. Non-cognizable offence is defined under Section 2(1) Code of Criminal Procedure which says that a noncognizable offence is an offence for which a police officer has no authority to arrest without warrant. President Pratibha Patil unveiled a bust of Rabindranath Tagore at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland on October 4, 2011, as part of the Nobel laureates ongoing 150th birth anniversary. Sudarshan Shakti was the massive joint exercise held by Indian Army, with Air Force and Navy. Pakistan: A personal history has

The most significant among the accords signed by the two countries is the one between the ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) and the PetroVietnam for developing longterm cooperation in the oil sector. The pact covers new investments and strengthening presence from drilling-to-dispensing in Vietnam, India and other countries. India and Vietnam also instituted a mechanism of a biennial dialogue on security issues between the Home Ministry and its Vietnamese counterpart. The extradition treaty would provide a legal and institutional basis for the cooperation. The two countries would celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between them in 2012. India will be organising the Year of India in Vietnam in 2012. The two countries have also decided to increase their bilateral trade from $2.7 billion to $7 billion by 2015 and agreed to boost the two-way investment. They also agreed to work towards an early finalisation of the India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement in Services and Investment. Draft National Telecom Policy Telecommunications Minister Kapil Sibal unveiled the draft National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2011 on October 10, 2011. The policy not only seeks to give the consumer the right to free roaming within the country but also seeks to increase the countrys tele-density to 100 per cent by 2020 and bring about transparency in spectrum allocation. The new policy also proposes to introduce a stronger customer grievance redressal mechanism and recognise telecom as an infrastructure sector, which will help ease credit flow to companies for funding roll-out

been written by Imran Khan, former captain of Pakistan cricket team. The brakes are off is the autobiography of English cricketer Graeme Swann. Major mobile operating systems are: Android from Google, BlackBerry OS from RIM, iOS from Apple, Symbian OS from Symbian Foundation, Windows Phone from Microsoft. The World Food Day is observed every year on October 16. It was on this day in 1945 that the Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations came into being. The aim of the Day is to heighten public awareness on the scarcity of food and strengthen movement against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Indias longest rail tunnel, 10.96 km long, is situated in J&K. It connects Banihal in south side to Qazigund in the north side of the mountains and thus takes passengers from the Jammu side to Kashmir side in just six minutes. The empowered group of State Finance Ministers on GST has approved the setting up of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), called the GST Network, which will be headed by Nandan Nilekani. The SPV will be responsible for implementing the IT infrastructure needed to roll out GST, one of the country's most ambitious tax reforms. Jugnu, a nano-satellite built by IIT, Kanpur, is Indias first indigenously designed nano-satellite to be

plans or expansion activities. According to the draft, there will be a onenation, one-licence policy. Cellular service providers would benefit from the policy as it proposes to allow companies to pool, share and later trade spectruma scarce resource.

successfully placed into its orbit. It was launched on October 12, 2011 by PSLV-C18).

Events; Appointments; Etc.: September 2011

APPOINTED; ELECTED; Etc. Helle Thorning-Schmidt: She has been elected as the first woman Prime Minister of Denmark. B.C. Khandure: He has been elected as the Chief Minister of Uttarkhand. RESIGNED Justice Soumitra Sen: Judge of Calcutta High Court. He resigned to avoid ignominy of becoming the first judge to be impeached by the Parliament. The Rajya Sabha had passed the motion making him the first judge to have been impeached by the Upper House. Following his resignation the Lok Sabha decided to drop the impeachment proceedings. DIED Wangari Maathai: The first African woman recipient of Nobel Peace Prize. She was 71. Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi: Former captain of Indias cricket team and husband of Hindi film actress Sharmila Tagore. He was 70. Jehangir Sabavala: One of Indias most elegant artists who painted in a style that was influenced by cubism and impressionism. He was 89. Gautam Rajadhyakasha: Celebrity photographer who became famous for his candid portrayals of Hindi film stars from Durga Khote to Aishwarya Rai. He was 61. EVENTS SEPTEMBER 3In its effort to bring lasting peace in Assam, the Union government signs an agreement with the banned ULFA to end violence the the troubled State and set the ball rolling for peace talks. The suspension of operation (SoO) pact will ensure that the outfit will not carry out any subversive activities till finding a political solution to the vexed insurgency problem. The security

forces will also not take any action against ULFA cadres. 6India and Bangladesh resolve their long-standing boundary dispute during the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Dhaka. 7Eleven people are killed in a terrorist strike outside Delhi High Court. A high intensity briefcase bomb is used by the terrorist. 18More than 75 people are killed as a strong earthquake strikes Sikkim and Nepal. Roads and buildings are extensively damaged in Sikkim. The epicentre of the 6.8 magnitude quakethe biggest in two decadeswas located at Mangan and Sakyong areas, about 50 km from Gangtok, on Sikkim-Nepal border. 14A marathon 20 hours siege by militants in Kabuls diplomatic enclave ends with the killing of the last two of the group of gunmen. The US Embassy in Kabul was the primary target of the militants. 20Former Afghanistan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was leading government peace efforts, is killed by a Taliban suicide bomber. MILESTONES Veena Sahajwalla: She is India-born engineering professor whose research has led to the worlds first green steel manufacturing process. She is helping the materials industries with a technology that reduces carbon emissions and uses recycled rubber tyres. Indarjit Singh: He is the first turbaned Sikh selected to sit the UKs House of Lords. Prof B.R. Deepak: He has been conferred Chinas highest literary award for his book which is a translation of 88 classical Chinese poems into Hindi. Leila Lopes: Belonging to Angola, she has been crowned Miss Universe 2011. The first runner-up was Olesia Stefanko of Ukraine and the second runner-up was Priscila Machado of Brazil. The pageant ceremony was held in Sao Paulo.

Current Affairs: September 2011

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011 Bowing to agrarian States like Punjab and Haryana, the Government has introduced in the Lok Sabha an amended version of the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2011, deleting from it the previously proposed provision to impose a blanket-ban on the acquisition of multicropped, irrigated land. INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Libyas new rulers lay a road map for polls Libyas National Transitional Council (NTC) has set out steps leading to democratic elections monitored by the UN within 18 months. The plan goes into effect with a declaration of liberation which the NTC has not defined precisely, though NTC chairman Abdel Mustafa Jalil said the conditions for such a declaration included

the capture or death of Muammar Gaddafi. The new Bill, which, as and when it is passed, will replace the 117-year old Act of 1894 and will allow acquisition of multicropped irrigated land as a last resort. The Bill makes even the permission as a last resort conditional by providing that an equivalent area of culturable wasteland would have to be developed if multi-crop land is acquired. In districts with net sown less than 50 per cent of the geographical area, not more than 10 per cent of the net sown area will be allowed to be acquired. The Bill states that the law will apply when the government acquires land for its own use or with the ultimate aim of transferring it for use of private companies for stated public purpose or for immediate and declared use by private companies for public purpose. The consent of 80 per cent project affected families would have to be obtained prior to acquisition and urgency clause has been limited to exigencies of national defence, security and rehabilitation following calamities. The Bill also provides that any land, not used within 10 years for the purpose for which it was acquired, will be transferred to the States' land bank and upon every such transfer, 20 per cent of its appreciated value will be shared with the original land owner. The Bill, for the first time, ensures a comprehensive compensation package for land owners and livelihood losers. It proposes that market value calculated for the land will be multiplied by a factor of two in the rural areas. Solatium will also be increased up to 100 per cent of the total compensation. Where land is acquired for urbanisation, 20 per cent of The NTCs Constitution Declaration for governing during the transitional period sets out the main guidelines for the way the country is to be overseen as it emerges from six months of war. Libya is a democratic, independent State with Tripoli its capital, Islam its religion, sharia, Islamic law as the main source of legislation and Arabic as its official language. The rights of minority groups are guaranteed. The State will establish a democratic political system based on political and party pluralism aiming for a peaceful, democratic transition of power. All Libyans are equal before the law and are not discriminated against because of religion, faith, language, wealth, gender, ancestry, political views, social status or tribal, group or family affiliation. The NTC is the highest authority. It is made up of representatives of local councils who are chosen to reflect population density. The NTC will be based in Tripoli and will appoint an Executive Office, or interim government, consisting of a head and members to run specific portfolios. The Executive Office is responsible to the NTC for implementing NTC policy. After declaring liberation, the NTC will move to its headquarters in Tripoli and form a transitional government within 30 days. Within 90 days of declaring liberation, the NTC will issue legislation about the election of a Public National Conference (PNC), appoint an elections commission and call for the election of the PNC. The PNC will be elected within 240 days of

developed land will be offered to the affected owners. For SCs and STs affected by acquisition, protections have been given. The Bill envisages additional benefits of 2.5 acres of land to each affected SC/ST family; onetime financial assistance of Rs 50,000; 25 per cent additional rehabilitation/resettlement benefits for families settled outside the district. Draft Mining Bill In a landmark decision that will impact the entire mining and mineral-based industry in India, the government has announced an overhaul of the law governing the sector. The new framework will introduce a benefitsharing regime while laying down the policy contours for leases given out by state governments. The changes are aimed at dealing with popular resistance to mining projects on the grounds of corruption and adverse social and environmental impact. The industry fears it will make mining unattractive in the country. The government plans to repeal the existing Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 and instead place a new Bill in Parliament in the Winter session. To tackle illegal mining, the Bill proposes punitive action, as well as creation of special courts at the state level for speedier disposal of cases. It will also make it compulsory for all noncoal mining companies to share an amount equal to their royalty payment to State governments for the benefit of projectaffected people. In the case of coal companies, the amount will be equal to 26 per cent of their profit. This will directly impact purely mining companies like Coal India, Sesa Goa and NMDC, as well as companies like Tata Steel, SAIL, NTPC and

the declaration of liberation. It will consist of 200 elected members. The NTC will be dissolved at the first meeting of the PNC. Within 30 days of its first meeting, the PNC will appoint a PM who will nominate his government which will become an interim government. The PNC will appoint a Constituent Authority for drafting a constitution which should submit a draft constitution to the PNC within 60 days of its first meeting. The PNC will approve the draft constitution and will put it to a referendum within 30 days. If it is approved by a two-thirds majority, the Constituent Authority will endorse it as the constitution, and it will be ratified by the PNC. If it is rejected, the Constituent Authority will have to re-draft it and put it to a referendum again within 30 days. The PNC will issue a general elections law in line with the constitution within 30 days and a general election will be held within 180 days of the declaration of the laws. Euro zone debt crisis The 17 nations sharing the euro are in deep crisis, saddled with massive debts and weakened by political division over how to find a way out, just as the world economy flirts with another downturn. With the euro introduction in 1999, unified interest rates allowed members to borrow heavily. Bonds issued by southern European nations were taken to be as safe as German ones. Money flowed into Greece. Spain and Ireland had realty booms. The bursting of the housing bubble in the US and Europe in late 2007 dealt the first blow to the Euro zones aura of invincibility. Then, in late 2009, when a new Greek

RPower that have captive mines associated with their projects. Besides, it will increase the cost of companies into the businesses of cement, aluminium and other mineral-based produce. The industry had opposed the benefit-sharing proposal, saying it would squeeze their margins. In the case of coal, the effective rate of taxation will rise to 61 per cent from 43 per cent at present. On iron ore, it will increase to 55 per cent from 43 per cent. Industry also sees the proposal would create problems for existing mines where affected persons are not easily identifiable. Besides, the increased revenues collected with District Mineral Development Fund will be frittered away as the absorptive capacity does not exist. Though mining activities are controlled by the States, the Centres overarching legislation, MMDR Act, set the rules of the game. Apart from compensating the projectaffected people through profit-sharing and royalty, the new Bill also obligates mining companies to pay a Central cess equivalent to 2.5 per cent of excise or customs duty. The activities of an independent National Mining Tribunal and National Mining Regulatory Authority at the Central level, and the expenditure involved in the capacity building of the Indian Bureau of Mines would be met from the cess levy. Besides, there will be a State cess of 10 per cent of total royalty. The Bill also had punitive provisions to prevent illegal mining. The new Bill would introduce a better legislative environment for attracting investment and technology into the mining sector.

government found that its predecessor lied about its borrowings and had run up huge debts, the revelation provoked a drastic loss in investor confidence that spread across the currency bloc. Euro zone politicians were slow to react and nervous investors who began pulling their money out of the country and demanding punitive interest rates on its debt. Larger Euro zone economies and the IMF extended Athens an emergency credit line in May 2010, but by then Greeces finances had destroyed the illusion that all Euro zone members were equal. Investors quickly turned on the weaker economies of Portugal and Spain, driving up borrowing costs. Massive losses at banks in Irelands stemming from the housing bubble forced Ireland to take a bailout six months after Greece; uncompetitive Portugal then followed in May 2011. Still, Euro zone leaders missed another chance to reassure markets. Reluctance in Germany to fully commit to helping member States meant the rescues did not constitute an effective firewalls. To get out of the crisis some European politicians and economists say euro zone States should consider issuing bonds jointly underwritten by all countries in the bloc. The bonds would create a common interest rate for the bloc and allow weaker States to access markets at reasonable rates. But implementation of such an idea could take years and there is fierce opposition to the idea in Germany. More immediate solutions include sorting out weak banks and helping economies where growth has been hit by budgetcutting measures, weakening government finances.

Visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Dhaka On September 6, 2011, India and Bangladesh signed a slew of agreements and resolved their long-standing boundary dispute, but failed to ink any water-sharing deal. Upset at India backing out of the Teesta water-sharing treaty at the eleventh hour, following West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjees refusal to endorse the accord, Bangladesh retaliated by holding back the big-ticket transit treaty that would have given the North-Eastern States in India easier and faster access to the rest of the country. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who arrived at Dhaka on a two-day visit, sought to calm down tempers in Bangladesh over the Teesta controversy by telling Sheikh Hasina that the two sides would continue discussions on water-sharing accords to reach a mutually acceptable, fair and amicable arrangement for the sharing of Teesta and Feni river waters. Prime Minister Singh also announced that India would provide duty-free access to 46 textile tariff lines as requested by Bangladesh. He said the two countries would also improve border infrastructure that would facilitate Bangladeshs exports to India and provide it greater opening to India and other neighbouring countries. India would supply bulk power to Bangladesh by connecting its national grids. The outstanding issues addressed in the boundary accord include: un-demarcated land boundary in three sectors, viz Daikhata56 (West Bengal), Muhuri River-Belonia (Tripura) and Dumabari (Assam); (ii) enclaves; and (iii) adverse possessions. The un-demarcated boundary in all three

The central bank could also increase its program of buying Italian debt to contain the widening spreads over German benchmark bonds, but the bank is divided and the scheme has already prompted ECB chief economist Juergen Stark to resign in protest. The risk of a collapse of the euro or even of the European Union itself could eventually force Germany, the EUs pay master, to do whatever it takes to back weaker Euro zone nations, whether it be with the ECB intervening in markets to buy riskier debt or providing more funding to recapitalize European banks. But for now, European politicians seem more divided than ever, particularly on issues such as budget sovereignty. Even countries central to the European project, such as the Netherlands, are increasingly wary. Swiss set exchange rate cap on soaring franc The Swiss National Bank (SNB) shocked markets on September 6, 2011, by setting an exchange rate cap on the soaring franc to stave off a recession, and discouraging investors anxious about flagging global growth from using the currency as a safe haven. Using some of the strongest language from a central bank in the modern era, the SNB said it would no longer tolerate an exchange rate below 1.20 francs to the euro and would defend the target by buying other currencies in unlimited quantities. The move immediately knocked about eight per cent off the value of the franc, which had soared by a third since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, as investors used it as a safe haven from the euro zones debt crisis and stock market turmoil.

segments has now been demarcated. The status of 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh with a population of 37,334 and 51 Bangladesh enclaves in India with a population of 14,215 has been addressed. The issue of Adversely Possessed Lands along the India-Bangladesh border in West Bengal, Tripura, Meghalaya and Assam has also been mutually finalised. Other highlights of the visit were: Agreement on development programmes, MoU on renewable energy, Pact on overland transit traffic between Nepal and Bangladesh, MoU on conservation of Sundarban, Protocol on conservation of Royal Bengal Tiger, Cooperation between Dhaka University and JNU, Delhi, Understanding on promoting fisheries, Cooperation between Doordarshan and Bangladesh TV, MoU between NIFT, New Delhi, and the BGMEA Institute of Fashion Technology, Bangladesh. China warns against oil exploration in Vietnam India and China appear to be on a collision course over Beijings objection to ONGC Videsh Limiteds (OVL) plans to undertake oil exploration in two Vietnamese blocks in the South China Sea. Our cooperation with Vietnam or any other country is always as per international laws, norms and conventions, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash told reporters here, virtually dismissing Beijings objection. According to a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, China enjoyed indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea and, without directly referring to India, asked all countries to refrain from oil exploration in maritime areas offered by Vietnam.

Analysts said that the SNB should be able to defend 1.20 as it can print unlimited francs but that long-term success depended on efforts to deal with the euro zones debt problems. The move was seen as a new shot in the currency wars, with Japan expected to try to weaken the yen if the Swiss action diverts more safe-haven inflows into the currency. Earlier also, in 1978, the SNB had set a formal exchange rate targetabove 0.80 francs per German Markwhen the franc was soaring in the aftermath of an oil crisis, and successfully defended that rate, but at the price of soaring inflation. The strong franc had started to dampen exports, hurting companies like specialty chemicals maker Clariant AG which cut its 2011 sales target, while the tourism sector was also suffering as foreign visitors started staying away. The SNB step will also help economies in eastern, with two-thirds of mortgages in Hungary and about half of Polands denominated in Swiss francs. EU plan on emission trading opposed India and 25 other countries including the US, China, Russia and Brazil, have opposed the European Unions plan to include aviation under its emission trading scheme (ETS) and impose emission charges on airlines flying into the region starting 2012. The non-EU ICAO members have termed as unilateral the imposition of EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS), saying it was inconsistent with applicable international law. The EU move would lead to a hike in air fares on these flights as the airlines, which

New Delhi said the OVL had been in Vietnam for quite some time in offshore oil and natural gas exploration field and was in the process of further expanding its operations. Essar, a subsidiary of Essar Oil Ltd, has also been awarded a gas block in Vietnam. India said it supported freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and hoped all countries would abide by the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. The Indian spokesman explained that cooperation in the field of energy, hydrocarbon and renewable energy was an important facet of India-Vietnam relations. Of the nearly 400 million dollars worth of investments by India in Vietnam, the OVL alone had made investments to the tune of about 225 million dollars. Indias stand is apparently guided by Vietnams claim that it had the rights over the two blocks under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Seas. With claims over the entire South China Sea, China is engaged in running disputes with several members of ASEAN and Japan. China and Vietnam, besides the Philippines, had a major spat over the issue recently after Chinese maritime vessels stopped exploration activities in the waters they claims as theirs.

would be paying the ETS charges, would pass them to their customers. The EU-ETS, also known as the European Union Emissions Trading System, is the largest multi-national emissions trading scheme in the world. Under the EU-ETS, large emitters of carbon dioxide, including airlines, within the EU must monitor and annually report their carbon dioxide emissions. They are obliged every year to return an amount of emission allowances to the government that is equivalent to their carbon dioxide emissions in that year. US links Pakistan to Haqqani network The US has evidence linking the Pakistan government to the Haqqani network, which was behind this attack on the American embassy in Kabul, in September 2011, according to US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter. A lot of work is needed to put PakistanUS ties back on track and Islamabad must sever its links with militant groups like the Haqqani network, Munter said in a wideranging interview with Radio Pakistan. Munters remarks came close on the heels of a warning from Defence Secretary Leon Panetta that the US would retaliate against attacks on its forces in Afghanistan by Pakistan-based militants. US Vice-President Joe Biden too has criticised Pakistan as an unreliable ally in the war against terrorism. Pakistan has angrily rejected the US administrations charges, saying such accusations were out of line with ongoing counter-terrorism cooperation between the two sides.

US declares Indian Mujahideen a terror entity The United States has designated Indian Mujahideen, which has claimed responsibility for many terrorist attacks inside India, including the most recent bombings in Mumbai and New Delhi, as a global terrorist organization with links to Pakistan. In a surprising move, the US State department also clearly and bluntly identified and cited the terrorist groups significant links to Pakistan, despite the efforts of some analysts in Washington and leaders in India to attribute an entirely indigenous hue to the group and its attacks. IM maintains close ties to other USdesignated terrorist entities, including the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-eMohammad and Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami. IMs stated goal is to carry out terrorist actions against non-Muslims in furtherance of its ultimate objective of an Islamic Caliphate across South Asia.

Business News
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has notified a new takeover rule under which an entity buying 25% stake in a listed company will have to mandatorily make an open offer to buy an additional 26% shares from the public. SabMiller Plc (SAB), the worlds second biggest brewer by volume, has agreed to acquire Fosters Group Ltd (FGL) in a $10.2-bn deal. Hospital chain Fortis Healthcare (India)

Ltd has decided to buy Singapore-based sister firm Fortis Healthcare International, in a move to bring all of the groups health businesses under one company. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has selected Anil Ambani, Chairman of Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) to head the ambitious India-China CEO Forum. The Forum aims to achieve $100 billion worth of two-way trade by 2015. The CEOs Forum was announced during the visit of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to India in December 2010. Mahindra & Mahindra has launched its new global sport utility vehicle, XUV500 in India and South Africa. This is M&Ms first global offering with significant inputs in styling and development taken from customers across the globe. Marking its re-entry into India, French auto major PSA Peugeot Citroen has inked an MoU with the Gujarat government to set up an integrated manufacturing facility at Sanand, near Ahmedabad, at an investment of Rs 4,000 crore. Indias largest retailer, the Future Group, has entered into an agreement with Himachal Pradesh government for providing direct market linkages to the States agricultural produce. Yahoo!, AOL and Microsoft have created an unusual partnership in which they will sell ads for one another. The move represents an effort to challenge Google, which dominates the search advertising market. In the first public-private participation

in defence sector, Pipavav Defence anfd Offshore Engineering Company (earlier Pipavav Shipyard) has entered into a joint venture with Mazagon Dock to build warships for the Indian Navy. French car maker Renault has launched its premium sports utility vehicle Koleos in India.

AdAsia, the Asian Advertising Congress, has come back to India after eight years. It will be held in New Delhi from October 30 to November 3, 2011. National Voluntary Blood Donation Day is celebrated on October 1. International Day of Older Persons is celebrated on October 1. World Heart Day is celebrated on September 29. TRAI has renamed the National Do Not Call list as the National Consumer Preference Registry. Indias first Bamboo Museum is located at the Institute of Himalayan Bio-resource Technology (IHBT) in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh. The museum happens to be the largest bamboo structure in India. It has been built by the Uttarakhand Bamboo Board at a cost of Rs 65 lakh. SLINEX-II was the joint Indo-Lankan naval exercise held at the Trincomalee navy base, 275 km east of Colombo, in

September 2011. Jammu & Kashmir has become the first State of India to get MY Stamp by which people will get personalised stamps with their photographs on these. Uttarkhands Tehri district is all set to become the first Himalayan site to host a wind energy farm, which is being setup on a hill top in Bachhelikhal. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the regulatory body which makes rules for food safety, has recommended the use of Stevia, a natural sweetener, for use in carbonated water, soft drink concentrates, chewing-gums and tabletop sweeteners. A 69 cm tall college student of USA, Bridgette Jordan, 22, has been declared as the worlds shortest woman by Guinness Book of World Records. Goldplus is the worlds first pure gold jewellery car. It has been made jointly by Tata Motors and Titan Industries, on a Nano car platform, to celebrate 5,000 years of Indian jewellery In a tribute to Indian soldiers, the municipality of Haifa, Israel, has decided to include the stories of their valiant efforts in liberating the city during the First World War in Israeli school curricula, as part of the history textbooks. India and China launched their first economic dialogue in end-September. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of Planning Commission, led

the strategic dialogue from Indian side, with an aim to increasing Indian investment in China and addressing the burgeoning trade deficit. The annual Global Competitveness Report (GCR) of the World Economic Forum (WEF) has ranked Switzerland as the most competitive country globally. Singapore is the second most competitive country. China is ranked 26, while India is ranked 56th. India has fallen 5 notches since 2010. International Literacy Day is celebrated on September 8. The University of Cambridge has retained its premier status in the QS World University Rankings, beating Harvard for the second year. MIT was ranked third and Yale University fourth. The University of Oxford ranked fifth. On September 16, 2011, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) raised the repo rate (the rate at which it lends to the bank) and the reverse repo rate (the rate at which it borrows from the banks) by 25 basis points each (100 basis points equals one per cent). These now stand at 8.25 per cent and 7.25 per cent, respectively. Former atomic energy commission chairman Anil Kakodkar has been made head of the high-level committee to review railway safety. In 2011 Delhi is celebrating 100 years of completion. As per data compiled on participation of women in the Parliaments, by Inter-

Parliamentary Union (IPU), a group of 154 national Parliaments across the world, India ranks 100th, with just 10.8 per cent women in the Parliament. The highest representation of women is in Rwanda (56.3%), followed by Sweden (46.4%) and South Africa (44.5%). The lowestnilis in Saudi Arabia, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. In South Asia, Nepal is best placed at 17th rank, with 33.2% women in Parliament, beating Germany which stands at rank 18th. Also ahead of India are Singapore, Pakistan and China, at 44th, 49,th and 55th levels, respectively. Health Insurance portability service, which would allow policy holders to switch insurers, is all set to to be implemented from October 1, 2011. Shooter Abhinav Bindra and cricketer M.S. Dhoni have been conferred the honorary rank of Lt. Colonel in the Indian Army. The Union government has decided to reduce the lock-in period of investment by FIIs in long-term infra bonds to one year.

Events; Appointments; Etc.: August 2011

APPOINTED; ELECTED; Etc. Tony Tan: He has been elected as the President of Singapore. Yoshihiko Noda: He has been elected as the Prime Minister of Japan. He is the sixth Prime Minister of Japan in last five years. Baburam Bhattarai: Vice Chairman of the Maoists, he has been elected as the Prime Minister of Nepal, returning the former rebels to power. K. Rosaiah: He has been appointed as the Governor of Tamil Nadu. M.O.H. Farook: He has been appointed as the Governor of Kerala. Ram Naresh Yadav: He has been appointed as the Governor of Madhya Pradesh.

Vakkom Purushothaman: He has been appointed as the Governor of Mizoram. Syed Ahmed: He has been appointed as the Governor of Jharkhand. Sadananda Gowda: He has been elected as the Chief Minister of Karnataka. D. Subbarao: He is the Governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and his tenure has been extended till September 2013. RESIGNED Jhala Nath Khanal: Prime Minister of Nepal. Naoto Kan: Prime Minister of Japan. DIED Shammi Kapoor: Hindi film actor who ruled the film industry in the 1950s and 1960s. He was 79. Leiber, Jerry: The songwriter who penned the lyrics for Elvis Presleys classic hits, including Hound Dog and Jailhouse Rock. He was 78. EVENTS AUGUST 631 US troops are killed in Afghanistan as Taliban shoot down chopper, in the deadliest single incident for foreign troops since the war began in 2001. 10Supreme Court of India confirms death sentence to Pakistani terrorist Mohd. Arif, alias Ashfaq, for killing three soldiers in an attack on an Army battalion stationed at the Red Fort in New Delhi in year 2000. 11President Pratibha Patil rejects the mercy pleas of Rajiv Gandhis assassins. The Supreme Court had confirmed the death sentence to Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalam, while commuting the death sentence to Nalini to life imprisonment way back in year 2000. 18For the first time in independent India, Rajya Sabha adopts a resolution with more than two-thirds majority to impeach a High Court Judge, Justice Soumitra Sen. 28The unparalleled 13-day agitation against corruption ends with Anna Hazare breaking his fast.

Current Affairs: August 2011

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Draft guidelines for new bank licences On August 29, 2011, the Reserve Bank of India released its much-awaited draft guidelines for new banking licences, with the basic message that it is looking for companies with diversified ownership and less exposure to risky business such as broking and real estate. The guidelines had been under discussion for more than a year. These allow business

houses with successful track record and a minimum capital of Rs 500 crore to set up commercial banks. The draft also spelt out the framework for converting non-banking financial companies into banks. The RBI has suggested a 49% limit on foreign shareholding and a two-year deadline to list shares for new banks. According to the draft, new banks total exposure to their founding groups should be limited to 20%, with the exposure to a single entity capped at 10%. Activities such as real-estate and broking, apart from being inherently riskier, represent a business model and business culture which are quiet misaligned with a banking model, said the central bank, which has historically been cautious about opening up the sector to more players due its apprehensions on controlling bad loans. These conditions may make it difficult for keen aspirants such as Religare Enterprises Ltd., Indiabulls Financial Services Ltd. and Reliance Capital Ltd. to qualify, analysts said. Companies like Larsen & Toubro Ltd., Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services Ltd., with a reasonably diversified shareholding, have a fair chance to gain banking licenses. The last time India issued a banking license was in 2004, to Yes Bank Ltd. Sustainable Competitiveness Report 2011 Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana rank among the top 10 States in a report titled Sustainable Competitiveness Report 2011 for Indian States, released by Marcus Potter, executive director, developing markets, RICS. The report shows the ranking of Indian States in terms of the sustainability of their growth story. The States have been divided into three categories based on the density of population and Delhi tops the sustainable competitiveness index in the high density States. Goa and Sikkim top the list for the medium and low population density States, respectively. When seen as an overall ranking, the top three winners are Goa, Delhi and Sikkim, followed by Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Mizoram, Kerala, Gujarat and Arunachal Pradesh. Among the laggards, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand fared the worst. Heavyweight States such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh showed disappointing results. The States sustainability competitiveness is accessed on four basic pillars, which include social inclusion, environment and climate change, economic development and resource availability and utilisation. When seen against individual ranking parameters or categories, Delhi and Goa top the national rankings across the economic development and resource availability and utilisation

categories, respectively. On environment and climate change, it is Arunachal Pradesh that tops the national rankings, though overall the State ranks number 10. Mizoram ranks as the number one State nationally on social inclusion. The IFC-RICS Sustainability Competitiveness Report seeks to raise awareness and promote inclusive growth amongst cities. Growth prospects for 2011-12 subdued: RBI While retaining economic growth estimates for 2011-12 at eight per cent, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has cautioned about emerging downward risks emanating from the uncertain global environment and domestic inflationary pressures. The central bank also said global commodity prices would shape its monetary policy stance in the future. In its annual report for 2010-11, RBI had retained its growth projection at eight per cent for 2011-12 in its first quarter review in July. Overall growth in 2010-11 is estimated at 8.5 per cent, and is likely to be higher after factoring in the new index of industrial production series. Downside risks to growth have increased since our assessment in July. The decline in global commodity prices has not been significant, and despite all the financial market turbulence, oil prices are back to earlier levels, RBI Deputy Governor Subir Gokarn said. On global factors, RBI said high oil and commodity prices, even after some correction, remains high and could adversely impact growth. The central bank also painted an uncertain picture of the industrial sector, where it saw downside risks outweighing upside ones. According to RBI, the downside risks arise from falling business confidence in the wake of global uncertainties, political factors and firm commodity prices amidst high inflation and a weak response of supply side factors. On inflation, the central bank has maintained its earlier stance that a moderation in prices can only be expected by the end of 2011-12. RBI expects inflation to come down to seven per cent by March 2012. Parliament yields to Annas demands on Lokpal Bill On August 27, 2011, the extraordinary 12th day of Anna Hazares anti-corruption fast, the Parliament responded with extraordinary grace to show what it could do to honour a crusaders urge. After over eight hours of debate around the structure of the Lokpal Bill, the Government and the Opposition in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha came together to agree inprinciple to the three major demands the activist had raised in his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a condition to end his protest. In doing so, the Parliament paved the way for the Gandhian to end his fast.

Earlier, the two Houses agreed that the anti-graft law, to be effective, must cover corruption by lower bureaucracy through appropriate mechanisms; must have an inbuilt grievance redress system which Anna calls the citizens charter and should provide for enabling laws to establish Lokayuktas in States on the lines of the Lokpal at the Centre. The debate ended amidst members thumping their desks to applaud the agreement which Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee summed up as the sense of two Houses which would now be conveyed to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice for its consideration. The committee is already seized of the Lokpal Bill the government had introduced in Lok Sabha on August 4 and those prepared by the National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy and Dr Jayprakash Narain. Except on the inclusion of judiciary and MPs conduct inside the Parliament under the Lokpal as Anna had demanded in the Jan Lokpal Bill, the BJP-led Opposition and the Government broadly agreed on all other issues, with Leaders of Opposition in both Houses steering the consensus, especially on conditional inclusion of the PM on matters except in issues of national security, public order and foreign policy. The Sense of the House resolution reads: This House agrees in principle on the following issues: citizen charter, lower bureaucracy under the Lokpal through an appropriate mechanism, and establishment of the Lokayukta in the States; and further resolves to forward the proceedings of the House to the Standing Committee on Law and Justice. Delhi, Dhaka ink strip maps to mark border On August 20, 2011, Bangladesh and India inked strip maps to demarcate over 4,000kilometre international border between the two neighbours, in a bid to settle the longstanding frontier-related discord. This signing of the strip maps containing the Bangladesh-India International border boundary line coordination point will end an outstanding issue which remained unresolved since 1947. A strip map is an un-scaled drawing of a route to include critical points along the border, roadside features and town facilities on a simple flip-over style map. The map usually incorporates distances. US warns India of Chinese build-up The latest US assessment of the expanding military might of China paints a scary picture of the frenetic pace at which the 2.25-million Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) is being modernized, in the backdrop of uncertainty over its long-term intentions. Though the US report holds that thwarting any American intervention in Taiwan remains PLAs main strategic direction, New Delhi can ill-afford to ignore Chinas increasing trans-border military capabilities, its assiduous strategic encircling of India and hardening posture in the border talks.

The report itself notes PLA has replaced its older liquid-fuelled, nuclear-capable CSS-2 intermediate range ballistic missiles with the more advanced solid-fuelled CSS-5 medium-range ballistic missile systems along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to strengthen its deterrent posture against India. A high level of mistrust continues to strain the bilateral relationship...India remains concerned over Chinas close military relationship with Pakistan and Beijings growing footprint in the Indian Ocean, Central Asia and Africa, says the report. All this might not startle the Indian defence establishment, which also keeps a close tab on PLA, but the fact remains that China can now move over 30 divisions (each with over 15,000 soldiers) to the LAC within a month to outnumber Indian forces by at least three-isto-one due to the huge military infrastructure build-up in Tibet. India has taken some steps in recent years to counter China, which range from planning a new mountain strike corps (over 35,000 combat troops) in 2012-2017, after raising two new divisions (over 15,000 soldiers each) in Nagaland and Assam, to deploying Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, missile batteries and spy drones in the North-East. But a lot more clearly needs to be done. China, after all, is fast steaming ahead with its projects to build its first stealth fighter, the J-20, and multiple aircraft carriers after its first, the 67,500-tonne Varyag acquired surreptitiously from Ukraine, began sea trials recently. Moreover, China has a hyper-active ballistic and cruise missile programme to add to its already huge nuclear arsenal. They include missiles like the DF-21D ballistic missile to kill aircraft carriers or large ships over 1,500-km away, the road-mobile DF-31A capable of hitting targets 11,200-km away, and the JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile with a reach beyond 7,200-km. "China's nuclear arsenal currently consists of 55-65 ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles), apart from (5-20) IRBMs, (75-100) MRBMs and (1,000-1,200) SRBMs," says the Pentagon report. China, of course, also helps Pakistan to boost its military capabilities, with the clear intention to bog down India in South Asia. Pakistan remains China's primary customer for weapons, with sales ranging from JF-17 and F-7 fighters, F-22P frigates and early warning and control aircraft, tanks and missiles, says the report.

Events; Appointments; Etc.: July 2011

APPOINTED; ELECTED; Etc. Union Cabinet Reshuffle Cabinet Ministers V. Kishore Chandra Deo: Tribal Affairs and Panchayati Raj. Beni Prasad Verma: Steel.

Dinesh Trivedi: Railways. Jairam Ramesh: Rural Development and additional charge of Drinking Water and Sanitation. Vilasrao Deshmukh: Science and Technology and Earth Sciences. M. Veerappa Moily: Corporate Affairs. Anand Sharma: Commerce and Industry; and additional charge of Textiles. P.K. Bansal: Parliamentary Affairs and additional charge of Water Resources. Salman Khurshid: Law and Justice and additional charge of Minority Affairs. Ministers of State (Independent charge) Srikant Jena: Statistics and Programme Implementation and Minister of State in the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers. Jayanthi Natarajan: Environment and Forests. Paban Singh Ghatowar: Development of North-Eastern Region. Gen Salva Kiir Mayardit: He has been appointed as the President of South Sudan. Air Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne: He has taken over as the Chief of Indian Air Force. Admiral Nirmal Verma: Chief of Indian Navy, he has taken over as the Chairman of the chiefs of staff committee (CoSC) from the outgoing IAF chief P.V. Naik. Pradeep Kumar: Haryana cadre IAS officer, he has been chosen as the Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) of India. Rohinton F. Nariman: He has been appointed as the Solicitor-general of India. R.S. Gujral: He has been appointed as the Finance Secretary of India. Pulok Chatterjee: He has been appointed as the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister of India. T.K.A. Nair: He has been appointed as adviser to the Prime Minister of India with the rank of Minister of State in the PMO. Ranjan Mathai: He has been appointed as the Foreign Secretary of India. Nirupama Rao: She has been appointed as Indias Ambassador to USA. RESIGNED B.S. Yeddyurappa: Chief Minister of Karnataka. Gurudas Kamat: Union Minister, Drinking Water and Sanitation. Dayanidhi Maran: Union Textiles Minister. Gopal Subramaniam: Solicitor-General of India. Justice P.D. Dinakaran: Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court. He was facing impeachment on charges of corruption and judicial misconduct. DISTINGUISHED VISITORS Hillay Clinton: US Secretary of State.

Hina Rabbani Khar: Foreign Minister of Pakistan. DIED Ashok Chand Burman: The 82-year-old patriarch of the Burman family and chairman of FMCG major Dabur Ltd. He was instrumental in fundamentally transforming a mid-rung Ayurveda products firm into a FMCG major. Mani Kaul: One of the pioneers of parallel cinema in India. He was 66. Among the films made by him were: Uski Roti, Ashadh ka ek din, Duvidha and Naukar ki Kameez. He had won the national award for the Best Documentary, Siddheshwari, based on the amazing life of thumri singer of Banaras, Siddheshwari Devi. Lucian Freud: Realist painter and grandson of modern psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud. He was 88. His 1995 Portrait Benefits Supervisor Sleeping had fetched US$ 33.6 million at a Christies auction in New Yorka world record for a living artist. Amy Winehouse: The bee-hived soul-jazz diva whose self-destructive habits over-shadowed a distinctive musical talent. She was 27. EVENTS JULY 5The Supreme Court declares illegal the policy of arming local tribal people in Chhattisgarh as Special Police Officers to fight Naxalites, as also vigilante groups like Salwa Judum and Koya Commondos. SC declares the campaign as an extreme form of transgression of constitutional boundaries. 9South Sudan formally declares independence. Sudan is converted into two independent nations of North Sudan and South Sudan. 10More than 36 people are killed as Kalka Mail derails at Malwa, 120 km from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. 13More than 25 people are killed in series of bomb blasts in Mumbai. Serial blasts rip through Zaveri Bazar, Opera House and Dadar areas of the city. 15India successfully launches its latest communication satellite, GSAT-12, on board the PSLV-C7, Indias most powerful configuration of launch vehicle. 17Rebekah Brooks, former Editor of the News of the World and a favoured lieutenant of Rupert Murdoch, is arrested as part of an investigation into allegations of phone hacking and bribing police. 20Anti-India lobbyist, Ghulam Nabi Fai, is held in US. The US Justice Department charges Fai, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, to illegally funnel millions of dollars from Pakistan government and ISI agency of Pakistan to push the Kashmiri cause in Washington. 22More than 90 people are killed in a bomb attack in Norwegian capital Oslo, followed by shooting at a youth camp on a nearby island. A Christian fundamentalist with an anti-Muslim outlook is arrested for the killings. 23At least 32 people are killed in a high-speed bullet train collision with a stalled train in Chinas eastern Zhejiang province, raising new questions

about safety of the fast-growing rail network. MILESTONES Kartik Chandran: An associate professor of earth and environmental engineering at Colombia Engineering, he has been awarded $1.5 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for his project to develop revolutionary new model in water, sanitation and energy. Chandran and his partners are developing a technology to transform faecal sludge into bio-diesel and create the next generation urban sanitation facility in Accra, Ghana. T.K. Anuradha, Pramodha Hegde & K.S. Anuradha: For the first time in the history of the Indian Space Research Organisation, three senior women scientists monitored and carried out crucial manoeuvres of the communication satellite GSAT-12 which was launched on July 22, 2011. Project Director of GSAT-12 T.K. Anuradha, Mission Director Pramodha Hegde and Operations Director K.S. Anuradha, who have been with ISRO for over two decades, were involved in crucial tasks undertaken before declaring the satellite fully operational. Oscar Pistorius: South African sprinter, he has become the first disabled athlete to qualify for an able-bodied eventthe 2012 Olympics in London. Both legs of Pistorius have been amputed. Sucheta: 33-year-old from Pune, she has successfully crossed the 1,623 km stretch of the Gobi desert to become the first Indian woman to cross Gobi desert. Justice Rabinder Singh: A British-born Sikh lawyer, he has been appointed a judge of the High Court in London. He has become the first Sikh and the first male from an ethnic minority ever to be elevated to the exalted position.

Current Affairs: July 2011

NATIONAL AFFAIRS RBI links new bank licence to rural branch Signboards of new private banks which are common on high street will soon be visible in the remotest of rural areas with the Reserve Bank India (RBI) linking new branch licensing to the number of rural branches that banks open. Most new private banks which have already drawn up branch expansion plans in large cities have decided to go ahead even if this means having to identify places that have INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS South Sudan formally declares independence Tens of thousands of South Sudanese danced and cheered as their new country formally declared its independence on July 9, 2011, a hard-won separation from the north that also plunged the fractured region into a new period of uncertainty. The President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, stood next to his old civil war foe, the President of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who now leads just the north, at a ceremony

never seen a bank branch before. Private banks are taking the change in policy in their stride although some feel RBIs policy increases the onus on smaller banks. With financial inclusion being a key agenda of both RBI and the government, the central bank has decided to give private banks a push to go rural. RBI, in its circular, said that banks should allocate at least 25% of the total number of branches proposed to be opened during a year in un-banked rural (tier 5 and tier 6) centres. An un-banked rural centre would mean a rural (tier 5 and tier 6) centre that does not have a brick-and-mortar structure of any scheduled commercial bank for customer- based banking transactions. Earlier banks were expected to reach most of the un-banked customers through the use of business correspondents. The new circular shifts the emphasis to a physical branch. The rural directive could be a setback albeit a small one for new generation private banks which have turned into profit machines with earning growing over 20%. For these banks with heavy investment in technology, it would be difficult to break even in an unbanked branch unless banks are able to find some way to generate interest income by growing loans in rural areas. SEBI liberalises takeover norms On July 28, 2011, the Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) announced that an entity buying 25 per cent stake in a listed firm will have to mandatorily make an offer to buy additional 26 per cent from public shareholders. This is seen as an attempt to lure investment after mergers and acquisitions fell 37 per cent. The new norms mark an increase in the open offer size for public shareholders from 20 per cent currently, while the trigger for such offer has also been raised from 15 per cent in

to mark the birth of the new nation. Under-developed, oil-producing South Sudan won its independence in a January 2011 referendum, the climax of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of fighting with the north. Security forces at first tried to control the streets in the souths dusty capital Juba, but retreated as jubilant crowds moved in overnight and through the day, waving flags, dancing and chanting South Sudan o-yei, freedom o-yei. The North Sudans government was the first to recognise South Sudan, hours before the split took place, a move that smoothed the way to the division. The United States, China, India and Britain signalled their recognition of the State on July 9. However, northern and southern leaders have still not agreed on a list of issues, most importantly the line of the border, the ownership of the disputed Abyei region and how they will handle oil revenues, the lifeblood of both economies. With the split, the Republic of Sudan lost almost a third of its territory and about three quarters of its oil reserves, which are sited in the south. Sudan now shrinks to being the third largest State in Africa, with about 1.86 million sq km of territory. UN declares famine in south Somalia On July 20, 2011, the United Nations declared famine in two regions of southern Somalia and said it could quickly spread unless donors took action. Mark Bowden, humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, said southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle had been hit by the worst famine in the region for 20 years.

the existing regulations. In Japan, the trigger for an open offer is 33.3 per cent, while in Hong Kong it is 30 per cent and in Singapore it is 29.99 per cent. In all three, the trigger requires an acquirer to make an offer for the entire company. The panel on new takeover regulations had recommended an open offer for buying up to 100 per cent in the target company, while suggesting an increase in the trigger limit to 25 per cent. While the recommendation on trigger has been accepted, the same for the offer size has been kept lower due to intense opposition from industry and market participants. For removal of non-compete fees, which could be as high as 25 per cent of deal value, the logic was given that promoters should not get higher price than that for public shareholders. Gorkhas get more autonomy in Bengal Ending two decades of uncertainty in the Darjeeling hills, a historic tripartite agreement for a new council with more powers was signed on July 18, 2011, even as the West Bengal government ruled out any division of the State. The agreement for Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) was signed in the presence of Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha President Bimal Gurung. The CPI(M) and other Left parties boycotted the function. A 48-hour bandh was observed in the adjoining Terai and Dooars in the plains against the signing. The new autonomous, 50-member elected hill council will have more administrative and financial powers to independently run

The UN is proposing exceptional measures of providing cash relief while it finds ways of getting larger volumes of food aid into southern Somalia, Bowden said. The UN is also appealing for $300 million over the next two months for Somalia. The UN said 3.7 million people across the war-ravaged Horn of Africa country, or almost half the population, were now in danger. Of them 2.8 million are in the south. In the worst affected areas, half the children are malnourished. Years of drought, that have also affected Kenya and Ethiopia, have hit harvests and conflict has made it extremely difficult for agencies to operate and access communities in the south of the country. The south is controlled by al Shabaab Islamist insurgents, affiliated to Al-Qaida, who are fighting to topple the Westernbacked government. The group also controls parts of the capital Mogadishu and central Somalia. In early July, the rebels lifted a ban on food aid which they had said created dependency. Some analysts say they are allowing aid in because they fear a public backlash if they do not. Others say the rebels want bribes. The UN defines famine as at least 20 percent of households facing extreme food shortages, a crude mortality rate of more than two persons per 10,000 per day and malnutrition rates of above 30 per cent. China slams US over Obama-Dalai Lama talks On July 17, 2011, hours after President Barack Obama had an audience with the Dalai Lama, China summoned top US diplomat in Beijing to convey its strong

the three hill sub-divisions of Kurseong, Kalimpong and Darjeeling, as compared to its former avatar, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, formed in the late 1980s. While 45 members will be elected, the remaining five will be nominated by the government. The GTA will get 60-odd different government departments, including finance, health, land reform, food and agriculture, electricity, irrigation and waterways and tourism. However, the Home Department (police) will not be under its control. There will be a direct flow of funds from New Delhi to the GTA for development works. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has already sanctioned Rs 600 crore as special assistance for Darjeeling. Mamata Banerjee also assured a complete economic package to the GTA, which, she said, would function within West Bengal. India-Bangladesh ink border management deal On July 30, 2011, India and Bangladesh inked a key agreement aimed at enhancing quality of border management and ensuring cross-frontier security through measures like joint vigils to deal with human trafficking and smuggling of drugs and weapons. The comprehensive border management agreement was signed in the presence of visiting Home Minister P. Chidambaram and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sahara Khatun. Chidambaram said the agreement, signed by Border Guard Bangladeshs Director General Maj Gen Anwar Hossain and his Indian counterpart from the Border Security Force (BSF) Raman Srivastava, was expected to resolve all outstanding frontier issues, including combating cross-border crimes.

indignation over the meeting, saying it amounted to gross interference in its internal affairs and damaged the bilateral ties. Obamas meeting with the Dalai has grossly interfered in Chinas internal affairs, hurt the feelings of Chinese people and damaged the Sino-American relations, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement. We demand the US side to seriously consider Chinas stance, immediately adopt measures to wipe out the baneful impact, stop interfering in Chinas internal affairs and cease to connive and support anti-China separatist forces that seek Tibets independence, he said. Brushing aside strong objections from China, Obama met the Dalai Lama and conveyed his strong support for human rights in Tibet during their 44-minute. After the meeting, the Dalai said Obama is the President of the greatest democratic country, so naturally he is showing concern about basic human values, human rights and religious freedom. This meeting underscores the Presidents strong support for the preservation of Tibets unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity and the protection of human rights for Tibetans, the White House said in a statement. Obama, who last met the Dalai Lama in February 2010, reiterated the US policy that Tibet is part of China and the US does not support independence for it, stressing that he encouraged direct dialogue to resolve the issue. The Dalai Lama said he was not seeking

India and Bangladesh share 4,096 km border, of which 6.1 km is still undemarcated. Britain, India strike major trade deals On July 25, 2011, Britain and India confirmed trade deals worth billions of dollars between the two countries at talks in London. Britains Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and his Indian counterpart, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, met in London for discussions on boosting economic ties between the G-20 partners. The meeting came after India cleared a 4.4billion ($7.2-billion) deal for Reliance Industries Ltd to sell a major stake in two dozen of its oil and gas blocks to Britain's BP. London is determined to boost trade with Brazil, China and India to help drag Britain out of the financial crisis. Visit of Pakistans Foreign Minister On July 27, 2011, at the talks between External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his young Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar, New Delhi extracted an assurance from Islamabad to fight and eliminate the scourge of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Refraining from rhetoric with a clear intent to keep the dialogue process on track, India and Pakistan also announced additional cross-LoC travel and trade confidencebuilding measures (CBMs) and resolved to find a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue by narrowing down differences and building convergences. India, however, did express its sense of dissatisfaction over the progress in trial of the seven accused lodged in Pakistani jails

independence for Tibet and hoped the dialogue between his representatives and China can soon resume.

Business News
The split of the Rs 19,000-crore RPG empire is now complete, with R.P. Goenkas younger son, Sanjiv Goenka, carving out a separate corporate identitythe RP-Sanjiv Goenka Groupindependent of elder brothers RPG. HDFC Bank has launched a premier credit card, Infinia, for the high networth community in India. The card is expected to compete with American Express or Amex card. The Union Cabinet has cleared the third phase of expansion of FM radio by approving e-auctioning of 839 new private radio stations in 227 towns and cities. In the previous phases, the government had offered 250 stations across the country in 86 cities. The government has also permitted private radio channels to broadcast news of All India Radio (AIR). BLB Limited, Indias largest arbitrage and proprietary book player has decided to shut shop. Union Cabinet has cleared the US$7.2 billion Reliance-BP deal which will enable BP (British Petroleum) to buy 30% stake in RILs oil and gas blocks, including the show-piece KG-D6 gas fields. The deal is seen as the biggest foreign direct investment into India. Walt Disney Company will spend Rs

for their involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. However, there was no reference to the Mumbai attacks in a joint statement that was released after nearly two-and-a-half hours of deliberations. The statement touched all outstanding issues between the two countries that have bedevilled their ties and reaffirmed the importance of carrying forward the dialogue process. Significantly, the usual acrimony associated with an India-Pakistan dialogue was clearly missing this time around as Krishna set the tone for talks by declaring that India desired to see a stable, peaceful and prosperous Pakistan and wished the people of the neighbouring country well. The two sides have perhaps learnt a lesson from what happened in July 2010 when Krishnas joint press conference with his then Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmud Qureshi in Islamabad ended in a disaster, giving a setback to the attempts to revive the dialogue process. Therefore, a joint press interaction by the two ministers was carefully avoided. Krishna and Khar just gave soundbytes at the conclusion of their meeting and did not take any questions. Instead, the two sides fielded Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir to address the media. On her part, Khar said Pakistan desired a genuine interaction with India in order to maintain cooperative relations. We feel the relationship between the two countries should not be held hostage by the past. She said officials on both sides must be respectful of the reality of the two countries. The glamorous Pakistani minister, however, did earn the wrath of New Delhi for meeting separatist leaders from J&K shortly after her arrival in New Delhi. New Delhi also drew Pakistans attention to

2000 crore to take complete control of the Mumbai-based UTV Software Communications. Punjab National Bank has agreed to pick up a 30 per cent stake in MetLife India, which will make PNB the singlelargest shareholder in the private insurance company. L Capital Asia, a private equity fund of global luxury giant LVMH Group has announced its first investment in India by picking up 25.5 per cent stake in Genesis Luxury Fashion Pvt Ltd.

The annual use of postcard (Meghdoot service) in India has declined from 336.45 crore to just 78.24 crore in the last ten years. The Central Board of Trustees of Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) has appointed Reliance Capital Asset Management, along with HSBC Bank, ICICI Securities and State Bank of India to manage its corpus of Rs 3.5 trillion, for a period of three years. Punjab, Kerala and Karnataka are now among the most urbanized States in India, having more than 35 per cent of their population living in urban areas. Uttar Pradesh has the maximum number of its people living in rural areas; 55.5 crore people in UP live in rural areas. Mumbai tops the list of places having maximum number of people in urban area at 5 crore. Punjab has become the first State in

the anti-India statements being made on a regular basis by some key terrorist leaders like Jamat-ud-Dawaa (JuD) chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed. The Pakistani side again sought to brush the provocative statements under the carpet, saying one should not consider the views held by an individual as those of the State. India, South Korea ink N-deal On July 25, 2011, India signed a historic civil nuclear cooperation agreement with South Korea, paving the way for the possibility of Seoul exporting its atomic power plants. The agreement, signed after summit talks between President Pratibha Patil and her South Korean counterpart Lee Myung-bak, provides legal ground for South Koreas participation in atomic power plant construction projects in India. South Korea has now become the ninth country which had signed nuclear agreement with India after it got the waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in 2008. The other countries are the US, France, Russia, Canada, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Argentina and Namibia. India and South Korea had decided to start talks on civil nuclear cooperation during a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Lee on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Hanoi in October 2010. Besides the agreement on nuclear cooperation, the two sides also signed a memorandum of understanding on media exchanges and another agreement on administrative arrangements to provide social security to people working in India and Korea. India-US Strategic Dialogue

India to start an integrated solid waste management programme in the entire State. World Population Day is celebrated every year on July 11. News of the World, 168-year-old newspaper of Britain, is closed down in a breathtaking response to a phonehacking scandal engulfing the media empire of Rupert Murdoch. The Union Cabinet has cleared a massive hike of Rs 3 crore per MP in the annual allocation of MPLAD fund that enables every MP to recommend development works in his/her constituency. The allocation has been hiked from Rs 2 crore per MP to Rs 5 crore per MP and will cost the exchequer an additional Rs 2,370 crore annually. Hyderabad will host the Table Tennis World Championship, 2013 Juba is the capital of the new nation of South Sudan which declared independence on July 9, 2011. Mumbai and Delhi are among the five cheapest places in the world, according to the Worldwide Cost of Living survey. The five cheapest cities are: Karachi (Pakistan), Tunis (Tunisia), Mumbai (India), Tehran (Iran) and New Delhi (India), in that order. The five costliest places are: Tokyo (Japan), Oslo (Norway), Osaka Kobe (Japan), Paris (France), Zurich (Switzerland). According to the UN Millennium Development Goals Report, as many as

The India-US strategic dialogue was held in New Delhi on July 18, 2011, during the visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A joint statement issued after the strategic dialogue said the two sides covered a wide range of bilateral issues as well as global developments during the four-hour talks. The two countries also signed a MoU to promote closer cooperation and the timely exchange of information between the organisations of their respective governments responsible for cyber security. Defence, security and counter-terrorism were high on the agenda since the dialogue. The dialogue, which was originally scheduled to be held in April, was postponed to July in view of the developments in North Africa and the Assembly elections in India. There were apprehensions that it could be deferred yet again after the July 13 explosions in Mumbai but Clinton decided to stick to the schedule. On the issue of terrorism, Clinton was quite forthright in telling Pakistan that it was in its own interest to deal with violent extremism. Pakistan is a key ally in the fight against terrorism. We have made it clear to Islamabad that terrorism threatens Pakistan itself bombings in mosques, markets, police stations and government buildings. Pakistan must act on its own behalf to protect its territorial integrity and sovereignty. In a clear reference to the US raid that found and killed Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad in early May, she said: We want mutual recognition that we cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorists anywhere. When we know the location of terrorists whose intentions are clear, we need to work together. We do not believe there are any terrorists who should be given a safe haven

320 million people in India and China are expected to come out of extreme poverty by 2015, while Indias poverty rate is projected to drop to 22%, from 55% in 1990. Those living on less than $1.25 a day are considered extremely poor. The four-day fifth conference of SAARC Speakers and Parliamentarians was held in New Delhi from July 9, 2011. On July 8, 2011, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee launched a new set of coins and Rs 10 notes bearing the rupee symbol. With this India became the second country after England to have its currency symbol printed on its notes. National Green Tribunal (NGT) is a judicial body constituted to try all matters related to environmental issues. The Tribunal is headed by Justice L.S. Panta. The first sitting of NGT was held on July 4, 2011. Indias 25th nuclear power plant is being built at Rawatbhatta, Rajasthan. It is a 700 MW indigenously built pressurised heavy water reactor plant. The construction of the plant started on July 17, 2011. Prahaar is a surface-to-surface quickreaction tactical missile of India. It has a range of 150 km and is capable of carrying different types of warheads. The uniqueness of the missile is that in one salvo six missiles can be fired at multiple targets in all directions. The missile can also be launched form a road mobile system.

or free pass by any government." On the civil nuclear cooperation, Clinton, while reassuring Washingtons commitment to the 123 agreement, wanted India to sign the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) for nuclear damages with the IAEA before the end of the year. The main problem for US operators is a clause in the Indian law that makes the suppliers of reactors liable for 80 years for any accident at a plant. Private US nuclear firms are unwilling to sign up, mainly because they are unable to find insurance to cover them for potentially crippling claims for damages. However, differences continued to plague the two sides on the civil nuclear deal though Clinton expressed the Obamas administration commitment to implementing the accord in letter and spirit, notwithstanding the recent decision of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to deny access to enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technologies to countries which are not signatories to the NPT. But one major positive that emerged from the strategic dialogue from Indias perspective was Washingtons commitment to New Delhi that the process of reconciliation with the Taliban in Afghanistan would be Afghan-led and Afghan-driven, and not dictated by Pakistan or any other country. Supreme Court appoints SIT to probe black money In a far-reaching order to deal with the massive problem of astronomical levels of black money stashed in secret overseas bank accounts, the Supreme Court, on July 4, 2011, directed the government to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by

India has slipped from being the 8th largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2009 to the 14th largest in 2010, according to the World Investment Report, 2011, brought out by UNCTAD. On July 26, 2011, the Reserve Bank of India hiked the benchmark rates again by stiff 50 basis points, taking the Repo rate to 8 per cent and Reverse Repo rate to 7 per cent. New investors will now have to cough up an additional Rs 150 for investment of Rs 10,000 and above in mutual funds, while the charge will be Rs 100 for existing investors, according to SEBI. Investors are already paying a commission in some cases, besides up to 2.5 per cent of their investment towards expanses of fund management. On August 1, 2011, India assumed the monthly Presidency of the UN Security Council after a gap of 19 years.

former SC judges B.P. Jeevan Reddy and M.B. Shah, and disclose the names of such bank account holders against whom showcause notices have been issued. Slamming the government for conducting the investigations at a laggardly pace, a Bench comprising Justices B. Sudershan Reddy and S.S. Nijjar observed that even the named individuals had not yet been questioned with any degree of seriousness. These are serious lapses, especially when viewed from the perspective of larger issues of security, both internal and external, of the country. The Bench passed the order on a bunch of PILs seeking steps to bring back over $1trillion of black money taken out of the country illegally by individuals and entities in order to evade tax. Among the petitioners are former law minister Ram Jethmalani and former police chiefs of PunjabKPS Gill and Julio F. Riberio. The SIT would have powers to investigate, initiate proceedings and prosecute the accused in all black money related cases, the SC clarified. The SIT would keep the SC informed of all major developments by filing periodic status reports. Karnataka Lokayukta report nails Yeddyurappa Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegdes report on illegal mining, submitted to the State government on July 27, 2011, has accused Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa of corruption and asked the Governor to take action against him under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Justice Hegde, while addressing the media, said: In the course of the investigation, it was found that a trust run by family members of the Chief Minister had received

a donation of Rs 10 crore from a firm dealing in iron ore. Citing another instance of illegal gratification received by Yeddyurappas kin, Hegde said they sold a plot near the Bangalore airport to a mining company at an exorbitant price. Describing the price as abnormally high, Hegde said while the guidance value of the plot suggested that its price should not exceed Rs 1.4 crore, it was sold for a staggering amount of Rs 20 crore. On the money received by the Prerna Trust run by Yeddyurappas two sons (including Raghavendra, a Lok Sabha MP from Shimoga), Hegde said the South West Mining Company, affiliated to the Jindal group, had to borrow money from others for making the donation. I find it extremely difficult to accept that someone has to borrow money for making a donation, Hegde said. He said the nature of the two payments the donation and the purchase of the land from CMs sons by a mining companyhas led him to conclude that the payments were made for reasons other than the genuine reason. He said that in the light of these two cases, he indicted the CM under the Prevention of Corruption Act and made a recommendation to the Governor, who is the competent authority for acting against the CM, to take further steps in this regard. The report also names the two Reddy brothers, Janardhana and Karunakara, both Cabinet ministers in Karnataka, V. Somanna, also a member of the Yeddyurappa-led Cabinet, JD(S) leader and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and Congress MP Anil Lad. Hegde said about 100 companies were found guilty during the investigations. He has

suggested cancellation of their mining leases. The total loss to the State exchequer caused due to illegal mining during the period under investigation (2006-10) was an estimated Rs 16,085 crore.

Events; Appointments; Etc.: June 2011

APPOINTED; ELECTED; Etc. Ban Ki-moon: He has been re-elected as the UN Secretary-General for a second five-year term. Christine Lagarde: She has been elected as thr Managing Director of International Monetary Fund (IMF). Before taking over as IMF chief she was the Finance Minister of France. Ajit Kumar Seth: A 1974 batch IAS officer of UP cadre, he has been appointed as the Cabinet Secretary of India. Ashok Chawla: He has been appointed as the Chairman of the anti-trust watchdog, Competition Commission of India (CCI). Prakash Bakshi: He has been appointed as the new chairman of National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). Raj Kumar Singh: A 1975 batch Bihar cadre officer, he has been appointed as the Union Home Secretary. DISTINGUISHED VISITORS John Key: Prime Minister of New Zealand. Abdul Rahim Wardak: Defence Minister of Afghanistan. DIED Bhajan Lal: Three-time Chief Minister of Haryana and a sitting Lok Sabha member from Hisar. He was 81. Maqbool Fida Hussain: The renowned painter, who rose from a Bollywood billboard artist to become Indias most celebrated painter worldwide. He was 96. EVENTS JUNE 10Tahawwur Rana, a Chicago-based Pakistani native, is acquitted by a US jury of conspiracy to provide material support to the terrorists who attacked Mumbai in November 2008. He is, however, found guilty of helping to plan an attack on the Copenhagen offices of Jyllands-Posten newspaper. He is also convicted on cont of providing material support to LeT. 14Passenger ferry services between Sri Lanka and India commence after a gap of 28 years. The services had been snapped due to the ethnic conflict on the island nation.

16India witnesses centurys longest and darkest lunar eclipse. The total phase of the eclipse lasted 100 minutes. The last eclipse to exceed this duration was in July 2000. The next such eclipse will take place in 2141. 19India resumes defence contacts with China, that were frozen for a year. 23President Obama of USA orders withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, claiming that the US had largely achieved its goals there. The process to begin in 2011 itself. MILESTONES Gina Rineheart: An Australian businesswoman who inherited a debt-ridden mining company from her father 20 years ago, has become the worlds richest person by overtaking Carlos Slim, the Mexican magnate worth $73 billion. Mony Saiyed: An Indian-American, he has created the worlds largest Indian flag, weighing 250 kg, as a symbol of peace and harmony in India. The Tricolour stretches 153 by 102 feet and has found mention in the Limca Book of Records. It took 15 days and seven Porbandar tailors to sew this cotton flag. Sukanya Roy: Indian-origin student of USA, she has won the prestigious US Spelling Bee championship.

Current Affairs: June 2011

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill On June 30, 2011, India took a huge leap forward towards guaranteeing equality and non-discrimination to more than 70 million of its disabled as a government committee appointed to draft a new law for the sector submitted a ground-breaking disability legislation that provides legal mechanisms to enforce civil and political rights of the persons with disabilities. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2011 specifies, for the first time, criminal sanctions for acts of omission and commission against the disabled; bars discrimination on grounds of disability and proposes enhanced job quota for the disabled from 3 to 7 per cent in all establishments. The quota is to be distributed among seven listed categories of the disabled. INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS OECD sees growth firm Global economic recovery is on track, helped by a stronger United States, but threats ranging from high oil prices to European sovereign debt crises could yet combine to create a bout of stagflation, according to the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). OECD says the US and Euro area economies were growing faster than expected in forecasts six months ago, although Japans economy was set to contract after the March earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis. In its twice-yearly Economic Outlook, the OECD forecast world growth would ease to 4.2 per cent in 2011, from 4.9 per cent in

Twenty forms of disability, including intellectual disabilities, thalassemia, dwarfism and haemophilia, are covered by the new law (against seven currently covered). There is also a provision to create a National Disability Regulatory Authority to prescribe standards on accessibility and rules for service providers. The law says no new building plan can be passed unless it meets accessibility norms; existing government buildings will have to become accessible in three years of the laws enforcement and other public buildings will get five years. Non-compliance will result in suspension of water, electricity supply to buildings; cancellation or suspension of builders licence or fine up to 5 per cent of the buildings market value or a combination of all. Separate chapters have been dedicated to the rights of disabled women and children and penalties prescribed for violation. All disabled children (0 to 18 years) will be entitled to the Right to Education though the RTE Act covers those from 6 to 14 years. The Bill further replaces the existing concept of plenary guardianship with limited guardianship, which means all guardians of persons with disabilities will be legally obliged to consult them to arrive at legally binding decisions. The law prescribes severe penalties6 months to 8 years in prison and finefor wilfully injuring a person with disability; up to seven years and fine for wrongful medical practises that cause infertility and up to 10 years for forceful termination of pregnancy. For general violations, a penalty of 6 months and Rs 50,000 fine is proposed. The new law is in accordance with the UN

2010, before accelerating to 4.6 per cent in 2012. This is a delicate moment for the global economy, and the crisis is not over until our economies are creating enough jobs again, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said. There is also some concern that if downside risks reinforce each other, their cumulative impact could weaken the recovery significantly, possibly triggering stagflation in some advanced economies. The OECD also cited a slow recovery in Japan as a possible threat to its economic partners, especially if global supply chains remain disrupted as a result. The effect would be all the more damaging if coupled with a bigger-than-expected slowdown in China, a spiralling sovereign debt crisis in Europe and/or persisting uncertainty over budget policies in the United States and Japan, the OECD warned. If those risks coincided with a renewed surge in oil prices, then the major economies could see stagflationthe pernicious combination of stagnant growth and high inflation. The situation was made all the more fragile by high levels of debt, with the average level of debt across the OECD expected to top 100 per cent of output in 2011. OECD chief economist Pier Carlo Padoan said major economies were not only strong enough to withstand fiscal tightening, but needed to get debt down to keep it from becoming a brake on growth. European Union Summit Major decisions on economic policy, immigration, relations with North African countries and Croatian membership were

Convention on Rights of Persons with Disability, which India ratified in 2007. Draft Manufacturing Policy approved The UPA government has unveiled a National Manufacturing Policy (NMP). The policy seeks to create 100 million industrial jobs by 2025. The NMP has set a target of increasing manufacturing sector growth to 12-14 per cent over the medium term. The policy wants the sector to contribute at least 25 per cent to the GDP by 2025. It will address issues of rationalisation and simplification of business regulations, simple and expeditious exit mechanism for closure of sick units and financial and institutional mechanisms for technology development. Green technologies, industrial training and skill upgrade are also on the agenda. The government will take measures to make industrial land available through creation of land banks by States and utilization of lands locked under non-productive uses, including defunct or sick industries. A comprehensive exit policy has been conceptualised which will promote productivity, while providing flexibility by removing rigidity in the labour market. Home-grown technology will find favour and policies will be put in place for development of advanced indigenous , including tax concessions and government subsidies and preferential purchases by government agencies. While India will continue with bilateral and regional free trade agreements, it will be ensured that such agreements do not have a detrimental effect on domestic manufacturing. The government will also

taken during the EU Summit, held June2324, 2011 in Brussels. EU leaders agreed to expand measures to coordinate economic reforms and spending policies. They endorsed the Commission guidelines on measures which each EU country should take to stimulate economic growth, create jobs and keep public finances under control. The decision closed the first European semester, a six-month process during which EU governments consult each other as they formulate spending plans and economic policies. Governments must now take the guidelines into account when drafting their budgets and making reforms for 2012. EU leaders also agreed to changes increasing the effectiveness of a temporary fund providing financial help to euro zone countries in difficulty. It will be replaced by a permanent 500bn fund in 2013. They encouraged Greeces Parliament to pass laws on a fiscal strategy and privatisation. The reforms will allow euro zone countries and the International Monetary Fund to provide more support under a new rescue package. Euro zone leaders agreed that the private sector should provide some of the additional funding. They reaffirmed their commitment to do whatever is necessary to ensure the financial stability of the single currency. Member governments asked the Commission for ideas on strengthening cooperation among the countries in the EUs border-free area. The measures should allow countries to coordinate their responses to exceptional circumstances,

consider use of public procurement in specified sectors, with stipulation of local value addition, in areas of critical technologies like solar energy equipment, electronic hardware, fuel efficient transport equipment and IT-based security systems. Union Cabinet okays affordable housing project In an effort to create a slum-free country by 2020, the Union government has approved the development of housing and basic facilities in slums across 250 cities in the country, under the Rajiv Awas Yojana. The slum development projects would be undertaken in 250 cities that have a population of more than one lakh. The project will be undertaken across the country by the end of the 12th Five Year Plan (20122017). The scheme aims at helping redevelopment of slums, stopping proliferation and providing a dignified life, besides property rights to the dwellers. The Union government will bear 50 per cent of the cost of the projects and Rs 1,000 crore will be provided as capital for mortgage guarantee facilities under the scheme. The Centre will provide financial assistance to States willing to assign property rights to slum-dwellers for provision of shelter and basic, civic and social services, besides creation of affordable housing stock. Around 32.1 million people live in slums in Indian cities. The foundation for the scheme was first laid by the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), which was launched on December 2005 and is the largest national urban initiative to encourage reforms and planned development of 63 identified cities.

such as sudden inflows of asylum seekers. Leaders called for proposals on common asylum procedures to be agreed by 2012. The summit also called for Croatia's membership negotiations to be concluded by the end of June 2011. They hope to sign a treaty with the country, allowing Croatia to join the EU on July 1, 2013.

Business News
Croma, the consumer durables and infotech chain of Tatas, is getting into a new retail format to offer best-selling products from its stores. It also plans to set up shop-in-shops inside Star Bazaar, the hypermarket chain of group company Trent. Global FMCG giant Unilever has appointed India-born Harish Manwani as its Chief Operating Officer (COO). Japanese car-maker Toyota has launched its much anticipated small car Liva in India. Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) buys Bharti Enterprises shares in two insurance joint ventures with AXA. Rice exporter Kohinoor Foods has announced a joint venture with USbased spice maker McCormick, which will invest over Rs 500 crore for marketing of Basmati rice and other food products in India. Tata Steel has decided to sell off its 26.27 per cent stake in Riversdale, Australia, to Rio Tinto for $1.11 billion. The National Stock Exchange of India

Visit of New Zealands Prime Minister New Zealand Prime Minister John Key arrived in India on June 26, 2011 for his first visit to India to meet his counterpart Manmohan Singh and discuss the free trade agreement between the two countries. Key was accompanied by a 26-member delegation that included Minister of Trade Tim Groser and Indian-origin MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi. The delegation also visited Agra and Mumbai. During his meeting, Mr Key promoted his governments India strategy, which aims to position India as a core political, economic and trade partner for New Zealand by 2015. He said the strategy has been developed by government agencies in consultation with business houses, exporters and academics. The trade potential of the India market is huge and we have set a target of growing two-way trade from 1.28 billion New Zealand dollars to three billion by 2014, he added. India, Pakistan agree to more Loc trade, travel On June 24, 2011, India and Pakistan decided to initiate a series of nuclear and cross-LoC confidence building measures (CBMs) as the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries concluded their two-day talks in New Delhi on a positive note. Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir said the two sides had agreed to carry forward the dialogue in a constructive and purposeful manner. Rao made it clear to the Pakistani side that it would be difficult for the two countries to move forward on the J&K issue under the

(NSE) has got regulatory approval to launch futures contracts on benchmark US indices S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), paving the way for Indian investors to bet on worlds most influential stock market. The Union government has cleared the $6 billion deal for purchase of majority stake in Cairn India by Vedanta Resources. The government has put in a stiff condition that Cairn wil share the royalty on Barmer production with ONGC.

A global conference on mango was held in Lucknow in June 2011. The main topic was the challenges facing the crop and its growers in backdrop of changing climatic conditions. According to a survey conducted by Thomson Reuters Trustlaw Women, a hub of legal information and legal support for womens rights, India is the fourth most dangerous place for women in the world. Afghanistan is the most dangerous place for women, followed by Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, India and Somalia. India ranked fourth primarily due to female foeticide, infanticide and human trafficking. According to TLGs Index of Emerging Market Thought Leaders, seven out of the top ten brands in India are indigenous firms. Infosys and Tata group have piped global majors like Google, Nokia and Facebook to the top two spots. Google is at number 3,

shadow of the gun and extremist violence. The Indian side also conveyed to Islamabad its concern over continuing infiltration in J&K. Over the cross-LoC CBMs, Rao said the two sides agreed to convene a meeting of the working group in the matter for strengthening and streamlining the existing trade and travel arrangements and propose modalities for introducing additional crossLoC CBMs. The two countries have decided to increase the frequency of the Srinagar-Muzafarrabad bus service, open more trade routes along the LoC, increase number of trading days as well as the validity of travel permits to six months and provide banking facilities to businessmen. They also decided to set up a group of experts on nuclear and conventional CBMs to discuss implementation and strengthening of existing arrangements and to consider additional measures to build trust and confidence and promote peace and security. The Foreign also discussed an agreement to prevent any untoward situation at high seas as was witnessed recently in the Gulf of Aden when sailors of MV Suez were being taken to safety. NATGRID gets in-principal approval After the establishment of National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe terror cases, the Union Home Ministry has got the in-principle approval for it's another showcase project the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID). The law enforcement and intelligence agencies would be able to share information real time once the NATGRID becomes fully operational. NATGRID will have access to about 21

followed by Maruti Suzuki, L&T, Nokia, SBI, Facebook, Hindustan Unilever and Mahindra Group. Apple, which leads the pack in Britain and USA, failed to make a mark in the top 20 list in India. China has become the worlds largest energy consumer, overtaking the USA. Chinese energy consumption grew by 11.2 per cent between 2009 and 2010, the highest for any country. India was not far behind, recording a high 9.2 per cent increase in energy consumption. IBM, also called the Big Blue, completed 100 years of operation on June 16, 2011. Over the last 100 years, it garnered over $100 billion in revenue, carved a global footprint in over 160 countries. Collected over 6000 patents worldwide (the highest fo any company in the world), developed a computer system called Watson which even out-smarted skilled Jeopardy players and created smart grids and cities globally. IBMs success can be traced back to history of inventions, including the punch card, electric typewriter, mainframe, scanning tunneling microscope, web server, hard drive and nanotubes. India is now ranked 12th in the world in terms of the number of millionaires, according to the Capgemini and Merrill Lynchs World Wealth Report, 2011. It has moved one notch up in the ranks, pushing Spain behind. Indias performance on global environment index has improved, earning it the 123rd rank, primarily because of progress made in renewable.

categories of databases like phone records, credit card transactions, travel details, bank accounts, income tax returns and visa and immigration records. The database will be available to 11 law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The ambitious "Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS) will lay the ground work for the NATGRID. So far, there is no system under which one police station can talk to another directly. There is no record of crimes or criminals that can be accessed by a Station House Officer, except the manual records relating to the particular police station. Also, there is no system of data storage and data sharing. All these issues will be taken care of under CCTNS. India gets first e-waste management rules Putting the onus of re-cycling of electronic wastes (e-waste) on the producers, the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has for the first time notified e-waste management rules. The e-waste (management and handling) Rules, 2011 would recognise the producers liability for recycling and reducing e-waste in the country. The rules will come into effect from May 1, 2012. Personal Computer manufacturers, mobile handset makers and white goods makers will be required to come up with e-waste collection centres or introduce take back systems. India, at present, generates about 400,000 tonnes of e-wastes annually of which only 19,000 tonnes are getting recycled. Around 40 per cent of the unused and obsolete electronic products sit idle at homes and warehouses as one does not know what to do with it or there is no systematic mechanism

Junrey Balawing of Philippines, measured at 24.25 inches, has been named as the worlds shortest living man. On June 16, 2011, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) raised the policy rates for the 10th time in 15 months by 25 basis points. The Repo rate was hiked to 7.5%, as a result the reverse repo rate and MSF go up to 6.5% and 8.5%, respectively On June 17, 2011, the University of Oxford celebrated an Oxford-India day to mark 400 years of links with India. Rashtriya Janani-Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram is a scheme to provide all required healthcare facilities to pregnant women and infants free of cost. The scheme has been adopted for the entire country under the National Rural Health Mission. Sri Padmanabha Swami Temple in Kerala was in news after the Supreme Court appointed a special committee to examine the secret chambers of the temple, which are believed to store precious treasures of the erstwhile rulers of Travancore. Tata Consutancy Services (TCS) has become Indias third most valuable company in terms of market capitalisation. RIL continues to hold the first position, followed by Coal India Ltd. ONGC is at the fourth spot. The first India-US Higher Education Summit was held on July 15-16, 2011 in Washington. The summit was

to dispose it. E-wastes are considered dangerous, as certain electronic components contain substances such as lead, cadmium, lead oxide (in cathode ray tubes), toxic gases, toxic metals, biologically active materials, acids, plastics and plastic additives. These substances are considered hazardous depending on their condition and density. Under the new rules, producers will have to make consumers aware about the hazardous components present in the product. They will also have to give information booklets to prevent e-waste from being dropped in garbage bins. However, according to the rules, bulk consumers such as enterprises and government will be responsible for recycling of the e-wastes generated by them. The bulk users have to ensure that the e-waste generated by them is channelized to authorised collection centres or is taken back by the producers. They also have to maintain records of e-wastes generated by them and make such records available with State Pollution Control Boards or the Pollution Control Committees.

announced during the visit of President Obama to India in 2010. The global oil consumption grew by 2.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2009-10, or 3.1 per cent, the strongest growth since 2004. Indias percentage of worlds consumption of oil is 3.9%. China consumes 10.6% of worlds oil while USA consumes 21.1%. China consumes 48.2% of worlds coal consumption. USA consumes 14.8% and India 7.8%. The new Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental jetliner is the worlds longest passenger aircraft. It is 5.6 metres longer than its predecessor, a standard 747 and seats 467 passengers. Airbus A380, however, continues to be the biggest plane with seating capacity of 525 passengers. The Punjab Mail, which runs from Ferozepur to Mumbai, has entered its 100th year of service. Once known as the pride of Punjab, the train was introduced by the British in 1912 between Peshawar and Mumbai. The Union government has approved the development of housing and basic facilities in slums across 250 cities in India under the Rajiv Awas Yojana. Two Indian firms have won the prestigious Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy, considered as the Green Oscar. Under the provision of the UNCLOS, a coastal country can seek extension of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) beyond the approved 200 nautical miles, if it can demonstrate through

scientific documentation that the continental shelf of the country extends beyond that distance throughout the natural prolongation of its land territory. India submitted its claim for extension of its EEZ to the UN commission in August 2010, placing it among the few countries which have been able to give evidence to lay their claims over extended continental shelf around them. The claim if ratified by the UNCLOS would help India in exploring additional area and exploit mineral resources in those areas. However, this claim will not extend to the waters in the area. The Indian Continental Shelf Project was started in 1999 by a team of 60 scientists to collect data for extension of the Indian continental shelf. World Blood Donor Day is observed on June 14. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is observed on June 15. World Environment Day is observed on June 5.

Events; Appointments; Etc.: May 2011

APPOINTED; ELECTED; Etc. Jarbom Gamlin: He has been elected as the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, replacing Dorjee Khandu, who died in a copter crash. Mamata Banerjee: She has been elected as the Chief Minister of West Bengal J. Jayalalitha: She has been elected as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Tarun Gogoi: He has been re-elected as the Chief Minister of Assam. N. Rangasamy: He has been elected as the Chief Minister of Puducherry. Oommen Chandy: He has been elected as the Chief Minister of Kerala. He heads the Congress-led UDF government. Air Chief Marshal N.K. Browne: An ace fighter pilot, he has been

appointed as the Chief of Indian Air Force. Rajiv Kumar: A well-known economist, he has been appointed as the Secretary-General of FICCI. Ajit Seth: A 1974 batch IAS officer, he has been appointed as the Union Cabinet Secretary. RESIGNED Dominique Strauss-Kahn: Head of International Monetary Fund (IMF), following charges of sexual assault slapped against him in USA. DISTINGUISHED VISITORS Angela Merkel: Chancellor of Germany. Islam Karimov: President of Uzbekistan. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: Managing Director of World Bank. G.L. Peiris: External Affairs Minister of Sri Lanka. Janet Napolitano: US Secretary of Homeland Security. DIED Dorjee Khandu: Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh. He is killed in a helicopter crash. He had become the Chief Minister of the State for the first time on April 9, 2007 and retained the post following the 2009 Assembly Elections which were won by the Congress. Mahendra Singh Tikait: Leader of the landed farmers who added solidity to the farmer lobby. He was 76. EVENTS MAY 2Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al-Qaida and the most recognisable face of global terrorism, is killed in a US military operation in Abbotabad, near Islamabad, Pakistan. 9Supreme Court of India stays the High Court ruling on Ayodhya title suit. 9Shantiniketan celebrates Rabindra Nath Tagores 150th birth anniversary. 13India ratifies the UN Convention against Corruption as also the Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and its three protocols. 22Terrorists attack a Pakistani military airbase in Karachi, triggering multiple blasts leading to killing of 14 people and destruction of a P-3C Orian surveillance airplane. 30Dalai Lama retires as the political and administrative head of the Tibetan government-in-exile. MILESTONES Air Commodore Dr Uma Raju: She has become the second woman in the history of Indian Air Force to be promoted to the rank of Air Vice Marshal. The first woman was P. Bandhopadhaya, in 2002. S. Divyadarshini: 24-year-old Chennai-based law graduate, she has topped the Civil Services examination, 2010. George Atkinson: A 16-year-old boy from Britain, he has become the

youngest person to climb Mount Everest. He was 16 years and 362 days when he reached the top of the worlds highest peak on May 26, 2011. Vikas and Sushma Kaushik: They have become the worlds youngest couple to climb Mount Everest. They belong to village Jalalpur in Panipat district of Haryana.

Current Affairs: May 2011

NATIONAL AFFAIRS RBI paves way for financial holding company The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has paved the way for a holding company structure for financial entities. But it was done with an important caveatthe apex bank has sought to be the sole regulator of financial holding companies (FHCs), irrespective of a banks presence in the holding company. In addition, it has called for a separate regulatory framework and a new Act for regulation of FHCs. A working group headed by RBI Deputy Governor Shyamala Gopinath has recommended that the FHC model can be extended to all large financial groups, irrespective of whether they have a bank or not. RBI feels that the implicit mandate of the central banks to ensure financial stability and monitor systemic risks makes it imperative to vest the responsibility of regulating FHCs with RBI. A holding company structure would ring-fence a bank or any other financial entity from the downside risks of its subsidiaries. It has been suggested that a separate unit within RBI should undertake the function of FHC regulation, with staff drawn from both RBI as well as other regulators. Till the time a new law is enacted and existing regulations are amended, the panel wants the FHCs to be registered with RBI as non-banking financial companies, while financial conglomerates having a bank within the group will need to convert to the FHC model in a time bound manner. In cases the business conglomerates do not want to convert to FHCs, the panel wants such entities to confine to only banking activities. For all other banking groups, conversion to the FHC model may be optional till the enactment of the FHC Act. However, all new banks and insurance companies, as and when licensed, will be mandatory to operate under the FHC framework. In case the holding company wishes to function as an anchor for capital support for all its

subsidiaries, the panel proposes either to have the holding company listed with the subsidiaries unlisted or some of subsidiaries listed along with the holding company. Since the transition to the FHC model would involve de-merger of various bank subsidiaries and transfer of ownership from bank to the holding company, the panel has suggested suitable amendments to various taxation provisions to make the transition tax and stamp duty neutral. In addition, the working group proposes exemption of dividend distribution tax for dividends paid by subsidiaries to the FHC if the dividends are used by the FHC for investment in other subsidiaries. State Elections, 2011 The results of Assembly elections declared on May 13, 2011 signaled a vote for change and a vote against corruption and poor governance. The spectacular rout of the Left in West Bengal and of the DMK in Tamil Nadu, however, overshadowed an equally spectacular vote for continuity in Assam. Four of the five governments seeking renewed mandate in the States were tossed out by the electorate, with only the Congress government in Assam returning to power for the third consecutive term. And barring a photo-finish in Kerala, where the Congress-led United Democratic Front barely secured a majority, the voters dished out clear and decisive mandates in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Puducherry. West Bengal: The Mamata juggernaut steamrolled the Left Front in West Bengal, dislodging the longest communist government in a democratic country after 34 long years. With her call for Poribartan (change), Mamata (56) swept everything before her, ensuring the victory of even political greenhorns like Anup Ghoshal (singer), Bratya Basu (playwright) , Amit Mitra (economist and FICCI secretary general), Upen Biswas (former Joint Director of the CBI), Debashree Roy and Chiranjeet (cine stars), Sultan Singh and Rachpal Singh (retired IPS officers) and even Manish Gupta, a retired IAS officer and Chief Secretary, who defeated Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee became the first Chief Minister since 1967 to lose his seat in the Assembly. Other CPM stalwarts who lost included industry minister Nirupam Sen, who spearheaded the land acquisition for Tata Nano at Singur, Housing minister Gautam Deb, IT minister Debesh Das and urban development minister Ashok Bhattacharya. The TMC-Congress combine won 225 of the 294 Assembly seats, up from 52 in the last Assembly. The CPM+ could manage only 63 seats against 229 in the out-going Assembly. Tamil Nadu: The J. Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK front struck the DMK-Congress combine like a tsunami and won a landslide victory in Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, sweeping everything on its way, including the freebies, cash-for-votes and caste politics. The AIADMK, which contested 160 seats in the 234-member Assembly, won 151 seats. As the Jaya juggernaut rolled throughout Tamil Nadu, most of the DMK ministers, including Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, bit the dust, while Chief Minister M.

Karunanidhi was elected to the Assembly for the 12th time from his native town of Tiruvarur. The DMK governments free colour TVs, Re 1 a kg rice, medical insurance, marriage assistance and other populist schemes failed to bring it back. The ruling DMK, which won 96 seats last time, was routed this time, winning only 23 seats in the 234-member Assembly. AIADMKs ally and actor Vijaykanths DMDK came out with flying colours, winning 28 of the 41 seats it contested. The other allies of the AIADMK, the CPM, which contested 12 seats, won 10 and the CPI, which fielded candidates in 10 constituencies, emerged successful in eight. The Congress was decimated, winning only five of the 63 constituencies it contested. Kerala: In a photo finish, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) unseated the CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF), winning 72 seats in the 140-member Assembly, the thinnest majority margin in the last four decades. The UDF, which had won 16 of the 20 Lok Sabha seats two years ago and over 50 per cent local bodies in the civic body polls held six months ago, had hoped to sweep the election by cashing in on the disenchantment of the people against the incumbent government. The UDF, however, lost the political momentum after Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan raked up old scandals involving several senior UDF leaders. The scandals put the UDF on the defensive. Instead of focusing on the failures of the government, the Opposition tried to attack the Chief Minister and his family members. However, the campaign did not click in the face of massive corruption scams emanating from the UPA dispensation. The determined effort made by the BJP to prove its strength in the State also affected the UDF to a great extent. Though the BJP was not been able to achieve its objective of opening its account in the Assembly, the party considerably improved its vote share in several seats. This affected the UDF all the more. Political observers feel that the victory of the UDF by a slender margin will plunge the State into political uncertainty. They believe that the Congress, which has won only 38 seats, may not be able to withstand the political pressures from small parties, especially those with one or two seats in the Assembly. Assam: It was a hat trick for the Congress in Assam and that too in the form of a landslide victory, thanks to leadership of Tarun Gogoi who has become the Chief Minister for the third consecutive term at the age of 75. The Congress governments policy to take the party closer to the common people, especially those from rural areas and from the lower income bracket, apparently paid rich dividends to the party in the election though the opposition parties had sounded skeptical about those schemes, terming those as sops only meant for Congress members.

Some of these included laptops to all students who have passed Class X Board exams in the first division, bicycles for girl students, cash incentives against every girl child born in government hospitals, cash incentives to pregnant women, working capital to unmarried women and young widows, free thread to BPL weavers, mosquito nets and blankets to BPL families and umbrellas to students from BPL families. Moreover, massive improvement in healthcare system in the State during the last 10 years, successful implementation of mobile health clinics to take health care to far flung areas and introduction of emergency healthcare scheme were instrumental in endearing the Congress to the common man. The Gogoi governments achievement in tackling insurgency in the State by bringing in many insurgents groups to the negotiation table, coupled with firm initiatives in improving infrastructure development in the State during the last 10 years also paid dividends for the party. The AGP and the BJP failed to make any impact in the election because the entire Opposition failed to forge an alliance to present a viable alternative before the people. To make matters worse for the Opposition, the regional AGP was dogged by internal squabbles. The regional party instead of giving chances to young leaders preferred to field old horses, who had already been rejected by the people in the 2001 and 2006 elections. Congress has won 76 Assembly seats in the 126-member Assam Assembly. AGP got 10 and BJP only 4. Independents and others together got 36 seats. Puducherry: Making a spectacular electoral debut, the All India NR Congress in alliance with AIADMK secured a two-third majority in the 30-member Puducherry Assembly, ending the DMK-supported Congress rule. Former chief minister N. Rangasamy led the AINRC he formed on the eve of the polls to power with the party winning 15 seats and its ally AIADMK five. The Congress ended with a tally of seven and DMK two. DMK rebel VMC Shivakumar won the Neravi TR Pattinam segment. It was a sweet revenge for Rangasamy who floated his own outfit after resigning from the Congress about two years after he was removed as Chief Minister in the face of revolt against his leadership. SC quashes Speakers decision to disqualify Karnataka MLAs On May 13, 2011, the Supreme Court of India set aside Karnataka Speaker K.G. Bopaiahs decision to disqualify 16 MLAs, including 11 rebel BJP and five Independent MLAs, ahead of the no confidence motion in 201 that had ensured survival of the Yeddyurappa government.

A Bench, comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph, ruled out that the Speaker had failed to observe the basic constitutional values and principles of natural justice, while disqualifying the MLAs under the Anti-Defection Act. The MLAs were disqualified as it was apprehended that they would support the no-trust motion against the government during the voting. The 16 MLAs had withdrawn their support to the government on October 6, 2010 and were suspended on October 11. In their appeal, the MLAs had contended that their disqualification had raised substantial questions of constitutional and administrative laws of public importance having serious implications for the democratic representative government and involving an interpretation of the provisions of the Tenth Schedule and the rules made there under. The legislators had submitted that they had made a categorical statement in their replies to the show-cause notice issued by the Speaker before their suspension that they had no intention at all to leave BJP or the membership of its legislature party and that their letter to the Governor was aimed at "cleansing the image of the party by getting rid of Yeddyurappa as Chief Minister." According to the petition, democratic dissent, without any intention of leaving the party but in the hope of saving its image and reputation by getting rid of a "corrupt" Chief Minister, cannot be regarded as voluntarily giving up the party membership as such. It was submitted that they were disqualified before the voting actually took place in the Assembly apprehending that they would vote against the Chief Minister on the specious ground that they had voluntarily given up BJP membership. The SC also held that the Independents had not sacrificed their independent identity by extending support to Yeddyurappa or by joining the Council of Ministers. Rising food prices and poverty line For a country that has been reeling under the impact of higher food prices, here are some chilling numbers. Food prices single-handedly seem to have considerable power to reverse our progress as an economy. The price rise in food staples between June and December 2010 could have pushed as many as 10 million more Indians into poverty. In its recent report Estimating the short-run poverty impacts of the 2010-11 surge in food prices, the World Bank estimates that the price increases in the second half of 2010 have increased the poverty head count in India by 0.8 percentage points. We infer the increase in the number of poor from their data measure on total population (1.19 billion) and the poverty rate used for their analysis (43.8%). Typically, given that poor households spend a majority of their income on food, rising food prices hit them the hardest. Sugar, rice and wheat price increases have also resulted in a rise in the poverty headcount in India. And this is despite the fact that price hikes in India are nowhere near global levels. However rising import prices of food will compound the inflation situation further.

The prices of sugar, rice and wheat globally have increased between 20-75%, but in India price increases for all three are at sub-10% levels. This is an alarming wake-up call for a country that has not seen abatement in food price increases even now. Food inflation jumped to a two-month high of 9% in terms of annual growth recently. Seems like anti-poverty schemes also increase the levels of poverty when they push prices up. The key number to look for is how much they reduce poverty and how much they increase it through wage-price inflation. Panel recommends FDI in retail On May 27, 2011, the Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) suggested two major steps to control inflation including opening up multi-brand retail to foreign companies and changes in agriculture marketing laws to bridge the margin between farm gate prices and retail price. The IMG warned that though it was important to allow the entry of FDI into this sector in a properly regulated fashion and there is a need to guard against the risk of these new corporations becoming monopolistic and charging high prices. We are taking a clear position on FDI in multi-brand retail. Of course, it is a recommendation, not policy, chief economic advisor and IMG chairman Kaushik Basu said. The debate on opening up the retail sector has been going on for a while now but is being strongly opposed by the domestic lobby that says that large MNC retail formats like Walmart coming in will wipe out the neighbourhood kiryana stores, which are huge in numbers and form an important constituency. The IMG said that the APMC Act ought to be amended so as to enable farmers to bring their products to retail outlets and also allow retailers to directly purchase from the farmers, without facing blockades by incumbent traders. The APMC system has abetted monopolistic behaviour and reduced the choices available to small farmers. The wellintentioned APMC law helped cartelisation and collusion amongst incumbent traders, the group said. The group IMG recommended that the government consider this at the earliest. Its logic is that Indias retail sector continues to be primitive and there is evidence that there are large losses that occur as products pass through the supply chain from farm to the retail customer. This will get new technology and expand organised retail and provide remunerative prices for farmers and fair prices for consumers especially during the peak marketing season. Once large corporations begin to source their products from Indian outlets it is very likely that they will gradually take these products to sell in their outlets in other countries, opening up exports.

The IMG said that correcting the margin between the price that farmers get and price that consumers pay is not going to solve the problem of inflation for all times to come but it can have a sharp desirable effect in the short run of bringing down food inflation. Visit of President of Uzbekistan On May 18, 2011, during the visit of Mr Islam Karimov, President of Uzbekistan, India and Uzbekistan entered into a long-term and strategic partnership based on equality and mutual understanding and concluded as many as 34 agreements in diverse fields, including pharmaceuticals and hydrocarbons. The two countries also agreed to cooperate closely in stabilising the situation in Afghanistan and condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Uzbekistan reaffirmed its support for Indias candidature for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. The two sides also resolved to expand their cooperation within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). India is currently an observer at the SCO and is keen to become a member of the six-nation Central Asian organisation. Great importance is being attached to the establishment of the strategic partnership which envisages active cooperation in a wide spectrum on areas, including political, counterterrorism, economic, education, health, human resource development, energy, science and technology, tourism and culture. Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs Afghanistan visit Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Afghanistan on May 12, 2011, on a two-day trip to reassure the Hamid Karzai government of New Delhis commitment to help stabilise the situation there. In a statement on the eve of his departure, the PM asserted that India could not remain unaffected by developments in Afghanistan, emphasizing that New Delhi took a long-term view of its partnership with the embattled country. The quest of the Afghan people for peace, stability and reconciliation needs the full support of all countries in the region and the international community, he said. The PM held wide-ranging discussions with the Afghan leadership on ways to advance Indias partnership to a new level in the coming years. We will also exchange views on developments in the region and our common fight against the scourge of terrorism. The visit took place three days after Manmohan Singh discussed with US President Barack Obama on phone the situation in the region in the aftermath of the killing of the Al-Qaida chief deep inside Pakistan. The visit was initially scheduled to take place in the first week of May but the American side had apparently advised New Delhi to postpone it without disclosing anything about the impending action by US forces in Abbottabad (Pakistan) in which bin Laden was killed.

India has become a key ally of the Afghan government since the fall of the Taliban regime, spending more than $ 1.3 billion in Afghanistan to help build highways, hospitals and the electricity grid. It is now the sixth largest contributor to Afghanistans reconstruction programme. During the visit Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a fresh aid package of $500 million for Afghanistan with focus on social sector, agriculture, capacity building and infrastructure projects. Second Africa-India Summit On May 24-25, 2011, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attended the second Africa-India Forum Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A ministerial meeting, in which Anand Sharma, Minister for Commerce & Industry, led the Indian side, preceded it. Addressing the meet, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a strong call to African countries to work collectively with India to combat the scourge of terrorism. "Apart from bilateral cooperation, India and Africa can and should work together on regional and international issues," he said at the retreat attended by leaders from 15 African countries. Mr Singh also highlighted the need to chart new pathways of engagement, take stock of the global economic and political situation and review the progress the two sides have made in their cooperation in the last three years. Singh noted that the current international economic and political situation was far from easy, particularly for developing countries and spoke about "new challenges" confronting the world in meeting the requirements of food and energy security. Manmohan Singh announced a mammoth $5 billion credit line to Africa for various development projects, reflecting Indias growing ties with the resource-rich continent. He also declared an additional $700 million package to establish new institutions and training programmes across the continent. Major sops offered during the Summit meeting were:
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$5 billion line of credit for 3 years Additional $700 million for new institutions, training programmes $300 million for Ethio-Djibouti rail line India-Africa virtual university with 10,000 new scholarships India-Africa business council $2 million for African Union mission in Somalia Increased access of African airlines to India in next 3 years India-Africa food processing and textiles clusters

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More than 22,000 scholarships to African students An India-Africa centre for medium-range weather forecasting, university for life and earth sciences, institute of agriculture and rural development Soil, water and tissue-testing laboratories, regional farm science centres, seed production-cum-demonstration centres, material testing laboratories for highways Institutes for English language training, information technology, entrepreneurship development and vocational training Rural technology parks, food testing laboratories, food processing business incubation centres and centres on geo-informatics applications and rural development.

The eight-page Addis Ababa Declaration adopted at the end of the two-day Africa-India Forum Summit said the African members of the UN Security Council and India affirm their commitment to coordinate closely during India's tenure as non-permanent member of the Council. In this context, we underscore the imperative of urgent and comprehensive reform of the UN system. We share the view that the UN should function in a transparent, efficient and effective manner and that the composition of its central organs must reflect contemporary realities. The expansion of the UN Security Council, in permanent and nonpermanent categories of membership, with increased participation of developing countries in both categories, is central to the process of reform and for enhancing the credibility of the United Nations, the declaration read. The joint declaration also expressed support for an International Convention prohibiting the development, production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons, leading to their destruction. It called for negotiating specific steps to reduce and finally eliminate nuclear weapons, leading to a world free from all weapons of mass destruction as envisaged in the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan of 1988. The first India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi in April 2008 produced a Framework of Cooperation. However, bureaucratic procedures in the African Union and in India slowed down the momentum. It took the two sides two years to finalize the joint Plan of Action, overshooting the deadline by a year. But thereafter, more concerted efforts have been evident. Throughout 2010, New Delhi played host to Presidents and Prime Ministers from Africa. Indias Vice-President as well as key ministers also travelled to several African capitals. With Africas rise no longer in doubt, India is concentrating on building partnerships at bilateral, regional and continental levels and not seeking a role in internal affairs of African States or intra-African conflicts. It reacted cautiously during the recent troubles in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and the Ivory Coast. Africa is host to 90% of worlds Cobalt, 50% of Gold, 98% of Chromium, 64% of Manganese & 34% of Uranium. Trade between India and Africa crossed US $ 46 billion in 2010 and is expected to reach US $ 70 billion by 2015. Indian private sector entrepreneurs have already made investments in excess of US $ 25

billion in a wide range of sectors from telecom, automobiles, IT, pharmaceuticals and agriculture. Bhartis $ 8.5 billion acquisition of Zain in Africa is one of the largest outbound investments by India. According to a FICCI study, Africa is on the brink of an economic take off. At present Indias OFDI is the 9th largest source of FDI into Africa. Among the Indian groups that have substantial presence in Africa include Bharti Airtel, Karuturi Global, the worlds largest producer of cut-roses, Tata Africa Holdings also has a strong presence in over 10 African countries with investments exceeding US$ 100 million. Essar has steel, oil and gas and telecom assets across Africa. The other players include M&M, Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Shapoorji Pallonji. Visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel On a 24-hour visit to New Delhi on May 31, 2011, German Chancellor Angela Merkel tried to hard sell the Eurofighter Typhoon jets to India as she discussed a whole range of issues with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, including the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden. Four accords were signed during her visit to expand cooperation in the fields of education, research and nuclear physics between India and Germany. The meeting between the two leaders also marked the launching of the first intergovernmental consultations between the countries on the entire gamut of bilateral relationsfrom security, defence policy, trade, vocational training, education and research to infrastructure and sustainable energy and environment technologies. Chancellor Merkel also received the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International understanding for 2009. I accept this award not only as an honour to the Chancellor, but especially as a tribute to the achievements of my fellow citizens in fulfilling the values of friendship and international understanding that the award recognises, said Merkel. She also formally launched the Year of Germany in India with Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar. The leaders of the two countries agreed to boost trade between the two countries to 20 billion Euros by 2020 from the present volume of 15 billion Euros. The meeting came a day after Germany announced it would phase out all its 17 nuclear plants by 2022. Merkel agreed to help India in areas related to nuclear safety and pledged support for the development of renewable energy. Chancellor Merkel was also appreciative of the role being played by India in the reconstruction programme under way in Afghanistan. She said a military solution was not an option in Afghanistan. Ultimately, Afghanistan would have to develop its own independent security architecture.

Indo-Pak defence talks In the month of May 2011, India and Pakistan began their first attempt in three years to demilitarize the Siachen glacier, the world's highest battlefield in the Himalayan region, that has claimed the lives of hundreds of soldiers. Here are some main facts about the Siachen glacier region:

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Siachen is in the northern part of Kashmir. Muslim-majority Kashmir is at the heart of hostility between India and Pakistan and was the cause of two of their three wars (the third was over the founding of Bangladesh). Indian and Pakistani forces, estimated to number between 10,000 and 20,000 troops combined, have faced off against each other in mountains above the Siachen glacier in the Karakoram range since 1984. The no-man's-land of Siachen is 20,000 feet (6,000 metres) above sea level. Military experts say the inhospitable climate and avalanche-prone terrain have claimed more lives than gunfire. The strategic importance of the glacier is debatable, military experts say. Until 1984, neither side had troops there. Both countries agree on a need to demilitarize the glacier, but neither side wants to take the first step. India controls the heights and is loath to withdraw for fear Pakistan might walk in. India says it is unwilling to bring its forces down until Pakistan officially authenticates the positions they hold. Pakistan has said it is willing to do so on the condition that it is not a final endorsement of India's claim over the glacier, a source of melt water for Pakistan's rivers.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs Tanzania visit On May 27, 2011, during the three-day visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Tanzania, India announced a new line of credit of $180 million for Tanzania and signed a pact on avoidance of double taxation as the two countries agreed to intensify cooperation to combat terrorism and piracy and work closely for comprehensive UN reforms. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said after wide-ranging discussions with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete that the new line of credit will be for water supply projects in country's capital Dar-e- Salaam. Addressing a joint press conference with Kikwete, Prime Minister voiced concern over the two major problems of terrorism and piracy both countries faced and said they have decided to intensify consultations and coordination to combat such threats. Kikwete felt that threats from piracy had never abated in the region and said it was agreed that there should be stronger collaboration through intelligence-sharing and other mechanisms.

On the issue of UN reforms, Kikwete reaffirmed Tanzania's support for India's candidature for permanent membership. 2-G Scam: Kanimozhi lands in jail On May 20, 2011, the CBI Special court hearing into the 2G Spectrum allocation scam dismissed the bail application of DMK MP Kanimozhi. She was arrested and sent to Tihar jail. Denying her bail, the judge said there was a possibility of witnesses being influenced considering the "magnitude" of the crime. 43-year-old Kanimozhi is daughter of former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Karunanidhi's second wife Rajathi. The judge also rejected the bail plea of Sharad Kumar, MD and CEO of Kalaignar TV Private Ltd, who along with Kanimozhi, faces the charge of conspiracy and bribery in accepting Rs.200 crore from DB Realty ordering their arrest forthwith. Kanimozhi and Kumar, both of whom are 20 per cent stake holders in Chennai-based Kalaignar TV have been charge sheeted by the CBI of having received Rs. 214 crore in illegal gratifications from Dynamix Balwa (DB) Realty, a company promoted by Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, one of the beneficiaries of 2G Spectrum allocation. As per CBI, DB Groups Swan Telecom was ineligible for a 2G Spectrum licence and Rs. 214 crore was paid to Kalaignar TV in lieu of the licence granted by the then Telecom Minister A. Raja, who is also a DMK member and close to Kanimozhi. India ratifies UN protocol against human trafficking India has ratified the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols, including one to combat trafficking in persons. The Convention remains, by far, the most potent international instrument in the fight against trans-national organised crime. Currently, human trafficking is the third largest organised crime in the world after the narcotics trade and illicit arms trading. Together, these crimes generate annual revenue of $ 9.5 billion, with the share of human trafficking gradually rising. For India, the development is significant considering it took 12 years to ratify the Convention, which is supplemented by protocols to combat human trafficking; migrant smuggling and illicit trafficking in firearms. The fact that India has ratified the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children means the country would now have to evolve a comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation that conforms to international standards and provisions. Right now, the laws are unclear. It would also have to find ways to train law enforcers who continue to book trafficked women under the provisions of Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, rather than booking them under provisions of the law which would see them as victims and not offenders. The National Human Rights Commission says only 6.6 per cent of the countrys law enforcers have any kind of training in trafficking issues.

Most rescued victims currently have little access to rehabilitation and care, which means even after being freed, they run the risk of getting back to brothels. A woman caught under the ITPA for example is required to pay a fine to walk free. Because she has no money, her brothel owner walks in again promising to rescue her from jail provided she agrees to return to sex work.

Events; Appointments; Etc.: April 2011

APPOINTED; ELECTED; Etc. Lobsang Sangay: A research fellow at Harvard Law School, he has been elected as the Prime Minister of Tibetan government-in-exile. Atifete Jahjaga: Kosovos highest ranking police-woman, she has been appointed as the President of Kosovo. RESIGNED Timothy Roemer: US Ambassador to India. DISTINGUISHED VISITORS Abhisit Vejjajiva: Prime Minister of Thailand. DIED Nawang Gombu: First person to climb Mount Everest twice. He was 75. Sathya Sai Baba: Renowned spiritual leader. He was 85. EVENTS APRIL 9Anna Hazare ends his 97-hour hunger strike after the gazette notification by the Union government, constituting a joint committee for drafting the Lokpal Bill. 11France officially bans burqa (women wearing full-face veils) in public places. 12Russia commemorates 50 years of the first human flight into space, undertaken by Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961. 29Britains Prince William and Kate Middleton get married at Westminister Abbey in a sumptuous show of British pageantry. MILESTONES U.K. Sinha: Chairman of SEBI, he has been elected as the Chairman of AsiaPacific regional committee (APRC) of the International Organisation of Securities Commission (IOSCO), which is the international standard setter for securities markets.

Current Affairs: April 2011

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Possession of Naxal literature is not sedition, rules SC On April 15, 2011, the Supreme Court granted bail to civil rights activist Dr Binayak Sen, holding that possessing Naxal literature or visiting jailed Maoists did not amount to sedition. If Gandhis books were found in my house, would that make me a Gandhian, said Justice C.K. Prasad. Justice H.S. Bedi, who headed the Bench, clarified that the State could not slap sedition charges on Sen unless there was material to show that he was actively preaching or propagating Maoist ideals. The Bench made the remarks in connection with the State governments contention that Sen had visited his co-accused Piyush Guha 30 times in a jail and pamphlets and documents relating to Maoist activities were recovered from his possession. The apex court said none of this amounted to seditious activities or waging a war against the State. Being a sympathiser did not make him guilty of sedition, the Bench felt. In December 2010, the trial court had sentenced Sen to life imprisonment after convicting him for sedition and having links with Naxalites. He was convicted along with Naxal ideologue Narayan Sanyal and Kolkata businessman Piyush Guha. Sixty one-year-old Sen, a child specialist who had studied medicine at the prestigious Christian Medical College (CMC) in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, has worked for 25 INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS President Saleh of Yemen agrees to step down On April 24, 2011, Yemen's embattled President agreed to a proposal by Gulf Arab mediators to step down within 30 days and hand power to his deputy in exchange for immunity from prosecution. A coalition of seven opposition parties said they also accepted the deal but with reservations. Even if the differences are overcome, those parties do not speak for all of the protesters seeking President Ali Abdullah Saleh's removal, and signs were already emerging that a deal on those terms would not end protests. Under the latest draft, Yemen's Parliament would grant Saleh legal protection from prosecution. The President would submit his resignation to lawmakers and hand power to his Vice President, who would call for new Presidential elections. BRIC expands to BRICS BRIC, the grouping of the four countries thought to radiate the largest lessons in developing an economyBrazil, Russia, India and Chinahas decided to transform itself to BRICS, with the much-awaited induction of South Africa into the cohort, making it more representative. Started in year 2009, the 2011 summit, held in Sanya on south China's tropical island of Hainan on April 13-15, was the first one for South Africa. Bringing South Africa makes the grouping more representative of the emerging powers from all the developing regions. All of them are members of the G-20, the high table of global economic policy coordination. This

years in the tribal and Naxal-infested belt of Chhattisgarh. He is also the vice-president of the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). Chinese troops in PoK worry India The presence of Chinese troops in Pakistanoccupied-Kashmir (PoK) has been causing anxiety to New Delhi, which has started strengthening infrastructure along the border. Responding to media reports about the involvement of Chinas PLA (Peoples Liberation Army) troops in various infrastructure projects in PoK, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said that the government was seized of media reports on the subject. The Minister said India continuously reviewed and took all necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of its people, as well as the territorial integrity of the nation. Another cause of worry for India is that China has been developing infrastructure in the border region opposite India in the Tibet and Xinjiang Autonomous Regions. This includes the Qinghai-Tibet railway line, with proposed extension up to Xigaze and Nyingchi, and development of road and airport facilities. India has also started paying special attention to the development of infrastructure in the border areas opposite China in order to meet the countrys security requirements and also to facilitate the economic development in these areas. Visit of Prime Minister Singh to Kazakhstan On April 16, 2011, during the official visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Kazakhstan, India and Kazakhstan signed seven key accords, including one on cooperation in the civil nuclear energy field

gives them a significant clout. If they can coordinate their positions in G-20 Summits, they will be more effective. Although the BRICS grouping is in a nascent stage it has been able to emerge as an important voice. BRICS represent the worlds fastest growing market, comprising 44 per cent of the world population. All of them are members of the UN, of which two are permanent. Experts say all the member-countries must take advantage of the moment and come out with a clear map for long-term sustenance. And, that the grouping should take a leadership role in closing the Doha round of multilateral trade deals under World Trade Organisation (WTO). Besides, focusing on financial cooperation and an effective mechanism for global development, the leaders also dwelled on some of the recent events around the world, such as the unrest in West Asia, turmoil in North Africa and the disaster in Japan. Leaders of BRICS countries adopted a farreaching declaration that, among other things, called for restructuring of international financial institutions to reflect changes in the world economy, thus increasing the voice and representation of emerging economies. The cooperation among BRICS countries was neither directed against nor was at the expense of anyone, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said while addressing the plenary of the BRICS leaders. Recognising that the international financial crisis has exposed the inadequacies and deficiencies of the existing international monetary and financial system, the leaders supported the reform and improvement of

and another for joint exploration in the oil and gas sector, and condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and those who supported the menace. The other five accords were: joint action plan for further strengthening strategic partnership (road map), MoU between the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) and the Kazakhstan Computer Response Team, treaty on mutual legal assistance in civil matters, agreement for cooperation between the agriculture ministries of the two countries and an agreement between their health ministries. Kazakhstan rolled out the red carpet for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who became the first top world leader to visit the Central Asian nation following the reelection of President Nursultan Nazarbayev for a fourth consecutive term. With his victory coming close on the heels of widespread pro-democracy protests in West Asia and North Africa, the Kazakh leader left no stone unturned to demonstrate his democratic credentials by inviting the envoys of nearly 50 countries to the Akorda Presidential Palace for the ceremony to accord welcome to Manmohan Singh, leader of the largest democracy in the world. From Indias point of view, it is obviously the nuclear accord that is being considered the singular achievement of Manmohan Singhs two-day visit. Under the IndoKazakh nuke accord, Kazakhstan would supply 2100 tonne of uranium to India by 2014. The umbrella nuclear accord envisages a legal framework for mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, including fuel supply, nuclear medicine, use of radiation technologies for healthcare, reactor safety mechanisms, exchange of scientific and research information, exploration and

the international monetary system, with a broad-based international reserve currency system providing stability and certainty. At a joint press conference by summit leaders, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced that the designated banks of BRICS nations have signed a framework agreement on financial cooperation which envisaged grant of credit in local currencies and cooperation in capital markets and other financial services. Under the agreement, banks in each country would work out modalities so that projects and loans could be encouraged in other BRICS nations, if national laws permit them to do so. The five nations also signed an MoU on BRICS long-term business contacts to facilitate trade amongst them. The FICCI will be the focal point for this on the Indian side. The Chinese leader also sought to dispel the impression that BRICS wanted to emerge as a grouping aimed at countering leading global economies The BRICS countries also resolved to carry out closer cooperation on food security, support development and use of renewable energy resources, and recognise its importance as a means to address climate change. Supporting the G-20 initiative, the BRICS leaders desired that the grouping should play a bigger role in global economic governance as the premier forum for international economic cooperation. In an action plan, the five nations decided to hold a meeting of high representatives for security issues in the latter half of 2011 in China, engage in joint research on economic and trade issues, encourage cooperation in sports and promote cooperation in scientific,

joint mining of uranium, design, construction and operation of nuclear power plants. The agreement on cooperation in the oil and gas sector signed between the ONGC Videsh Limited and Kazakh national company Kazmunaigas gives effect to the transfer of participating interest of 25 per cent in the Satpayev Block from the Kazakh firm to the Indian company. The Satpayev exploration block, located in the Kazakh sector of the Caspian Sea, covers an area of 1482 sq km and is at a water depth of 6-8 meters. It is situated in a highly prospective region of the North Caspian sea and is in close proximity to major discoveries. Visit of Prime Minister of Thailand On April 5, 2011, India and Thailand agreed to intensify their cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, education, tourism and culture and to aim towards doubling of their trade by 2014. The decisions were taken during the visit of Abhisit Vejjajiva, Prime Minister of Thailand.. The visit helped to impart a new momentum to the relations between the two countries. The two sides also agreed to expedite the conclusion of negotiations on a bilateral Free Trade Agreement that would include goods, services and investment. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Thailand as a close friend and a valued regional partner for India and noted that the two countries shared civilisation links and were maritime neighbours. A joint statement, which was released after the summit meeting announced the establishment of a regular High-Level Dialogue on Defence Cooperation that would consider widening the scope of cooperation in the sector. This dialogue is expected to lead to a Memorandum of

technological and innovation cooperation in BRICS format.

Business News
Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) has renamed its Logan car as Verito. Anup Bagchi has taken over as the MD and CEO of ICICI Securities. Veteran banker K.V. Kamath has been appointed as the Chairman of Infosys, in place of founder N.R. Narayana Murthy. S.D. Shibulal has been elevated as the CEO and MD. Ashok Soota, the ousted chairman of the Bangalore-based software major MindTree, has launched a new company by the name of Happiest Minds Technologies Pvt Ltd with a mission to creating the happiest customers and the happiest team. Italian luxury sports car maker Maserati has announced its foray into the Indian market with its complete range of cars. The latest Nielson corporate image monitor has rated Tata Steel as the best in a list of Indian firms, followed by Tata Motors and Aditya Birla Nuvo. Wipro retained the fourth rank and Bharti Airtel was ranked fifth. The Union Ministry of Defence has signed a Rs 1,904-crore contract with Tata Powers Strategic Electronics Division (Tata Power SED) for modernising 30 Indian Air Force airbases across India. The project is officially called Modernization of

Understanding on Defence Cooperation and is part of India's burgeoning defence ties with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, South Korea and Japan. In addition to taking a closer look at the ongoing exchanges between the armed forces, the dialogue would attempt to broaden the scope of cooperation to include the Defence industry and technology. The summit meeting saw both sides agreeing to intensify coordinated patrolling, which would be aimed at sanitising the busy but narrow and vulnerable Malacca Straits. Ever since the September 11, 2001 attacks, naval ships from both countries jointly patrol their respective stretches to foil any piracy or disruption of shipping through the deliberate disabling of a ship. On the security side, the two Prime Ministers resolved to improve sharing of intelligence, develop more effective counter-terrorism policies and increase interaction between law enforcement agencies. In this respect, they decided to expedite discussions on some of the building blocks, such as the Extradition Treaty, the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in Civil and Commercial Matters. CWG Scam On April 25, 2011, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested Suresh Kalmadi, Member of Parliament and former chairman of the Organising Committee (OC) of the Delhi Commonwealth Games (CWG). The CBI has charged him with criminal conspiracy to buy timing, scoring and result (TSR) system from a Swiss company at an inflated cost of R141 crore. The CBI has alleged that this cost the government Rs 95 crore extra. "Investigation has revealed that the OC committee for

Airfield Infrastructure (MAFI) Leading global consumer goods firm Reckitt Benckiser Group plc. has appointed India-born Rakesh Kapoor as its global CEO.

As many as 57 Indian companies, including Reliance Industries, State Bank of India and ONGC figure in The Forbes Global 2000 list of public companies based on their rankings for sales, profits, assets and market value. Other companies in India's top ten were ICICI Bank, NTPC, Coal India, Bharti Airtel, Larsen & Toubro and Tata Motors. JP Morgan Chase is in the top spot for the second consecutive year as the world's largest company, followed by HSBC. According to International Monetary Fund (IMF) Indias economic growth rate will moderate to 8.2 per cent in 2011, mainly because of tight monetary policy measures. The Ashoka Pillar in Delhi was uprooted from Topra village near Yamunanagar, Haryana by Feroz Shah Tughlaq in 14th century and taken to Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi. According to Tuglaqs court historian Shams-iSiraj, author of Tarikh-i-Feroze Shahi, the pale pinkish sandstone pillar was ferried to Delhi by 8,000 people. The Delhi pillar is the only Ashoka pillar that has seven edicts issued by Ashoka. The rest of Ashoka pillars have only six edicts. The ancient Brahmi script used to write on the pillars was first

short-listing prospective bidders for TSR was constituted by selecting handpicked officials who favoured the Swiss company while members of the tenders evaluation committee were coerced and threatened to disqualify other bidders". The CBI had earlier arrested former OC secretary general Lalit Bhanot and director general V.K. Verma in the case. 2G Spectrum Scam Five corporate honchos, including Unitechs Sanjay Chandra and Reliance ADAGs Gautam Doshi, were arrested on April 20, 2011, and sent to jail after a Delhi court dismissed their bail plea saying they might tamper with evidence and even flee to avoid prosecution in the highest magnitude 2G Spectrum allocation scam. The court also rejected the bail plea of copromoter of Swan Telecom Vinod Goenka and Reliance ADAGs Surender Pipara and Hari Nair. A bare perusal of the facts of the case and the allegations in the charge-sheet make it out a case of the highest magnitude and gravity and there is enough incriminating material on record against the accused. The court also dealt with the arguments of defence lawyers that they be granted bail ipso facto (by default) as they were not arrested during the probe. The court, however, concurred with CBIs apprehension that the accused might tamper with the evidence by trying to win over witnesses. On April 25, 2011, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) named DMK Member of Parliament Kanimozhi as a co-accused in the supplementary charge-sheet filed by it before the special CBI court in the 2G Spectrum case.

deciphered on Ashoka pillar at Delhi by a British expert James Prinsep in 1837. The Union Finance Ministry has introduced simpler income tax return forms Sahaj and Sugam. While Sahaj is for salaried people, Sugam return form is applicable for small businessmen and professionals covered under presumptive taxation. With only 17 per cent people describing themselves as thriving, India ranked 71 in a new Gallup study on overall well-being conducted in 124 countries. According to the study, which combined the results of Gallup's 2010 global well-being surveys, majority of Indians (64 per cent) believe they are struggling while 19 per cent think they are suffering. Pakistan, whose economy is in tatters, has been ranked as the 40th happiest nation in the world. With only 12 per cent happy respondents, China is ranked 92. Denmark topped as the most contented. Sweden and Canada ranked as the second happiest countries, followed by Australia, Finland and Venezuela. The African nation of Chad remained at the bottom of the list with less than one per cent reporting they were thriving. BRIC or the group of four most developing countriesBrazil, Russia, India, Chinahas transformed itself to BRICS with induction of South Africa. Indira Gandhi Scholarship Scheme offers scholarships to single girl child for post-graduate studies. Earlier the scholarship was offered to 1200 single girl children in a year. Now the UGC

Kanimozhi has been charged under Section 7 and 11 of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), which relates to acceptance of alleged gratification. Besides Kanimozhi, Kalaignar TV Managing Director Sharad Kumar, and Karim Morani of Cineyug Films (Pvt) Ltd were also charge-sheeted. CBI disclosed in the charge-sheet that Rs 200 crore connected with the 2G Spectrum had travelled from DB Realty to Kalaignar TV which has Kanimozhi, Dayalu Ammal and Sharad Kumar (MD Kalaignar TV), with 20, 60 and 20 per cent shares in the channel, respectively. Answering the question as to why Dayalu Ammal, wife of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Karunanidhi has been left out in the charge-sheet, while the other two stakeholders of the channel (Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar) have been charged, CBI said that Dayalu Ammal does not have a single signature on any paper that we have come across. All the papers, wherever required, have been signed by Sharad Kumar. She cannot understand any language besides Tamil and we had a hard time questioning her. Under such circumstances, it is highly unlikely that she could have been part of the conspiracy.

has decided to lift the cap and open the scholarship programme to all girls who meet the eligibility criteria. Indias exports for 2010-11 have clocked $245.9 billion registering a growth of 37.5 per cent. This is the first time exports have crossed $200 billion.

World Heritage Day, also known as the international day for monuments, is observed on April 18. World Health Day is observed on April 7. World Haemophilia Day is observed on April 17. Haemophilia is a genetic blood disorder in which blood does not clot properly. Civil Services Day is observed on April 21.

Events; Appointments; Etc.: March 2011

APPOINTED; ELECTED; Etc. Thein Sein: He has been appointed as the President of Myanmar. DISTINGUISHED VISITORS Yousaf Raza Gilani: Prime Minister of Pakistan. DIED Arjun Singh: Veteran Congress leader, former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, former governor of Punjab and former Union Minister. He was 81. Bob Christo: Hindi film actor known for his roles as a villain. He was 72.

Elizabeth Taylor: Hollywood actress who won the Oscar thrice. She was 74. Navin Nischol: Veteran Hindi film actor who starred in films like Victoria No. 203, Dhund and Budha Mil Gaya. He was 65. EVENTS MARCH 2Shahbaz Bhatti, minorities minister of Pakistan, is gunned down by radicals. He is the second official to be killed after Punjab governor Taseer Rana over blasphemy row in less than two months. 11A devastating tsunami triggered by the biggest earthquake on record in Japan kills more than 10,000 people. The 8.9 trembler triggers a 10-metre tsunami. 18UNSC resolution imposes no-fly zone over Libya. India stays away from voting. India wanted the UNSC to wait for the report of the special envoy of the Secretary-General. India also made it clear that it was very important to fully respect sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Libya. 19US, European and Arab leaders begin the largest international military intervention in the Arab world since the invasion of Iraq, in an effort to stop Muammar Gaddafis war on Libyan opposition. 30Myanmars military hands power to a nominally civilian government after almost half a century of army rule. MILESTONES Adi Godrej: Godrej group chief, he has been appointed as the head of the executive board of Indian School of Business (ISB), following the resignation of Rajat Gupta who is embroiled in an insider trading case in USA. ISB was founded by Gupta. Brig Gen Ravinder Singh: He is the first Sikh in more than 30 years to be appointed as the army chief of Singapore, Chhavi Rajawat: She is Indias youngest and only MBA to be village sarpanch. She is sarpanch of Soda village, 60 km from Jaipur, Rajasthan. Gen. V.K. Singh: Chief of Indian army, he is the first Indian army officer to be inducted into the Hall of Fame of the US Army War College at Carlisle. Mukesh Ambani: Chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd, he has been appointed as the first non-US director of Bank of America. P.M. Murthy: CEO of Asian Paints, he has been selected as the Business Standard CEO of the Year.

Current Affairs: March 2011

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Passive euthanasia permissible: SC The Supreme Court of India has rejected the INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Canadian Parliament Dissolved On March 26, 2011, Canada's Governor-

petition for mercy killing of Aruna Shanbaug, who has been in a persistent vegetative state for the past 37 years. There is no law to allow it. However, the surprise is that the apex court has permitted passive euthanasia under certain, supervised by a High Court. The conditions require the High Court to seek the opinion of three eminent doctors as well as listen to the government and close relatives of the terminally ill patient. Under passive euthanasia the life support system of a terminally ill patient is withdrawn, while under active euthanasia the patient is given a lethal injection by a doctor. During the arguments Attorney General G.E Vahanvati had contended that the withdrawal of food to the victim will be a cruel, inhuman and intolerant approach unknown and contrary to Indian laws. Euthanasia, also called assisted suicide, has been debated worldwide. Only a small number of countries permit it: Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg and Switzerland in Europe, Thailand in Asia and the two US States of Washington and Oregon. Australia and the UK have toyed with the idea but dropped it due to opposition from the believers. Pope John Paul II dubbed it a crime that no human law can claim to legitimize. However, support for mercy killing is growing, especially in Europe. Polls in the UK and France have shown up to 80 per cent support for a law to shorten life if illness is terminal and causes intolerable suffering. Cabinet nod for Banking Reform Bill The Union Cabinet has given its nod to the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, which proposes to increase the voting rights of foreign investors in private sector banks. The Billwhich seeks to align the voting rights of foreign shareholders in banks in proportion to their equity holdingwill

General dissolved the Parliament after a vote of no-confidence in Tory Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government, setting up a May 2 election, the fourth in seven years. From the steps of the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II's representative in Canada, Harper announced the official launch of the campaign, contrasting his Conservatives' economic recovery plan with the prospects of opposition parties forming a leftist coalition. The snap poll was forced following the passage of the no-confidence vote against the minority government engineered by the opposition Liberal Party and backed by two other opposition parties, on the heels of a historic contempt of Parliament charge. Junta rule ends in Myanmar On March 30, 2011, Myanmars military handed power to a nominally civilian government after almost half a century of army rule, as the junta was disbanded and a new President appointed. But the army hierarchy retains a firm grip on power in the resource-rich Southeast Asian country, and many analysts believe Senior General Than Shwe will attempt to retain some sort of control behind the scenes. The handover came after controversial elections in November 2010, the countrys first in 20 years, which were marred by the absence of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and claims of cheating and intimidation. Former PM Thein Sein, a key Than Shwe ally, was sworn in as President. He is among a slew of generals who shed their army uniforms to contest the elections and

make it easier for banks to raise capital. Going forward, as we need capital in banking, this will make it easy for those who are standing on the sidelines to put more capital into banks as and when there are initial and follow-on public offers. It will strengthen the Indian banking system at a time the economy is going great guns. The Bill, first introduced in the Lok Sabha in May 2005, had lapsed as the Lok Sabha was dissolved for general elections in 2009. The government could not move it ahead in its previous tenure due to stiff opposition from the Left parties, which were its allies. The Bill also proposes to make it mandatory for a person who wants to acquire 5 per cent or more share capital of a bank to get approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). It also proposes to give RBI more operational flexibility in the conduct of monetary policy and power to specify the statutory liquidity ratio without any floor or ceiling. The restriction on bank lending to directors and companies in which the directors have an interest is leading to problems in appointing competent independent directors. The Bill says it is necessary to empower RBI to grant exemption from this rule in appropriate cases. Law to deal with sexual offences against kids A government study says that 53 per cent of children below 18 years of age have undergone some or the other form of sexual victimisation. What is even more worrisome is that more than half the abusers are known to the children. The gravity of the situation has set the wheels rolling for a crucial Bill that will give

are now civilian members of Parliament, which also has a quarter of its seats kept aside for the military. Dalai Lama announces his retirement as political head On March 10, 2011, the Dalai Lama announced his retirement plan on the 52nd anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising Day. Announcing that he would step down as political head of the Tibetan government-inexile, the Dalai Lama in his speech said he would hand over his formal authority to a freely-elected leader. As early as the 1960s, I have repeatedly stressed that Tibetans need a leader, elected freely by the Tibetan people, to whom I can devolve power. Now, we have clearly reached the time to put this into effect, the 75-year-old Nobel Peace Laureate, who has been at the forefront of a six-decade-long struggle for freedom of Tibetans, said. The Dalai Lama further said he was committed to playing his part for the "just cause" of Tibet. The decision to devolve authority has not been taken because I feel disheartened. It is to benefit the Tibetans in the longer run. I feel gradually people will come to understand my intention and will support my decision and let it take effect, said the spiritual leader. He has formally proposed to the Tibetan Parliament in-exile to make necessary amendments to the Charter for Tibetans-inExile reflecting his decision to devolve his authority. As per the Tibetan Charter, according to which the Tibetan governmentin-exile runs, the Dalai Lama is the head of state and also the political and administrative head of Tibetans. By devolving his powers, the Dalai Lama hopes to give the Prime Minister greater

the country, for the first time, a comprehensive law to deal with sexual offences against children, by providing for stringent punishment of up to 10 years in jail, which may even extend to life imprisonment. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, 2011, will deal exclusively with sexual offences against children. It will protect children from sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography and provide for establishment of special courts for trial of such offences and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The legal tool also provides for treating sexual assault as aggravated offence where it is committed by a person in position of trust or authority over a child, including a member of the security forces, police officer, public servant, management or staff of a childrens home, hospital or educational institution. It will be treated as an aggravated offence where the child victim is below the age of 12 or suffers from a mental or physical disability or the sexual offence causes grievous hurt or injury to the child with a long-term adverse effect on the childs mind and body. The punishment for such an offence would be imprisonment of up to seven years with fine. The punishment for penetrative sexual assault has been proposed to be at least five years in jail and a minimum fine of Rs 50,000. Sexual assault also includes fondling the child in an inappropriate way, which will invite a penalty of minimum three years in jail. Section 7 of the Bill provides for no punishment if the consent for sexual act has been obtained with a person aged between 16 and 18 years.

clout as the region seeks autonomy from China. The aging Dalai is concerned about the future of Tibetan struggle after him. He wants that a Tibetan leadership should evolve during his lifetime that has the acceptance of all members of the community and can take the freedom struggle further after him. However, most Tibetans, especially those living in Tibet, are still spiritual and believe in the institutions of lamas. There is also an apprehension that the political leadership elected by around 80,000 Tibetans living in exile might not have legitimacy of the people in Tibet in the absence of the Dalai Lama. They believe only a spiritual leader could take place of Dalai Lama rather than the political leadership. Japan faces its worst disaster since World War II After a cataclysm so powerful that it moved the Earth 10 inches off its axis, Japan woke to find itself a country that had, literally, been shunted two meters from where it was on March 11, 2011 morning. Neighbourhood after neighbourhood was submerged under a grotesque soup of water and debris. Homes were flattened. Tens of thousands of once orderly acres became a jumble of broken homes, cars, boats, and concrete, with shipping containers cluttering the landscape. Only 300 km from Tokyo, radiation leak from a nuclear plant crippled by an explosion threatens to convert into a major nuclear disaster. Officials were swift to assert that any meltdown, if it came, would not be on anything like the scale or severity of Chernobyl. The 8.9 Richter scale earthquake was the

Pension Bill introduced in Parliament Paving the way for setting up of a regulator for the insurance sector, the Union government, on March 24, 2011, introduced the long-awaited Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Bill in the Lok Sabha. The move aims at providing social security to millions of employees through efficient intermediation of long-term household savings. The proposed legislation, however, steered clear of making any mention of a ceiling on foreign direct investment (FDI) in the sector. The government will separately notify the ceiling. The Bill also allows for part investment in stock markets although Left leaders are against equity investment option given to pension scheme. The Bill, which provides powers to sectoral regulator PFRDA to oversee multiple pension funds in the country, will largely follow the suggestions made by a Parliamentary standing committee in 2005. The PFRDA is yet to get statutory powers as the Bill pertaining to that effect lapsed in Parliament with the dissolution of the last Lok Sabha in 2009. The interim PFRDA is functioning since 2003 through an executive order. Unlike other regulators such as the Reserve Bank of India, the PFRDA does not have statutory status or the quasi-judicial powers of other regulators. Hence, if one of the entities regulated by the PFRDA violates norms, it cannot impose penalties. The New Pension System, introduced by the government in January 1, 2004, was opened to all citizens of India from May 1, 2009 on a voluntary basis.

most monstrous that Japan, the world's most tremor-prone country, has ever recorded. This was strong enough to leave a 300 km rupture on the ocean floor. The subsequent tsunamisending 30ft-high waves lashing into Japan's north-east coastturned a disaster into a cataclysm. The wall of water, moving at an estimated 50 kmph, swallowed boats, homes, cars, trees and even small planes, and used these as battering rams as it charged up to 15 kms inland, demolishing all that stood in its way. The first estimates of the total insured loss caused by the quake and tsunami were put at USD 12 billionan unwelcome burden on an economy that had just starting to show signs of revival. US and European planes hit Libya Starting March 19, 2011, Western forces launched a series of air and missile strikes against forces of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to force him to stop war on opposition forces in Libya. Earlier, on March 18, a UNSC resolution had imposed a no-fly zone over Libya. India stayed away from voting. India, along with four other countries, wanted the UNSC to wait for the report of the special envoy of the Secretary-General. India also made it clear that it was very important to fully respect sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Libya. Away from principles of democracy, the need to secure oil supplies and tackle a history of appeasement toward Muammar Gaddafi are some of the less-publicised reasons for Europe taking on a leadership role in prodding the world to act over Libya, analysts say. Days into the enforcement of a no-fly zone and with the US continuing to take a backseat, there is much speculation over the surprising swiftness with which

Census 2011: Population pegged at 1.21 billion India's most backward and populous States slowed down their rate of population growth, helping the country register its sharpest decline in population growth since Independence. India's population grew to 1.21 billion, according to provisional results of the decadal headcount declared by Census Commissioner C. Chandramouli on March 30, 2011. The absolute addition of about 181 million people is slightly less than the population of Brazilthe world fifth most populous countrybut the slower decadal growth rate of 17.64% has offered hope to policy makers. This is the first time since 1921 that the country has actually added lesser people in a decade compared to the previous decade. Eight States, including India's most backward StatesBihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradeshbroke the jinx to reduce their percentage decadal growth to 20.9%. This is a significant achievement since the growth rates of these States had frozen at 24-25% since 1971. The absolute number of children in the 0-6 age group also recorded decline, from 163 million in the 2001 census to 158 million in 2011, signalling a fall in fertility. But worryingly, this decline is sharper in case of females than males. The figures broadly indicate a drop in fertility across the country except in Jammu & Kashmir, where the proportion of children has in fact increase to 16.01%, compared to 14.65 in 2001. There are 57 more Indians for every square kilometer in addition to those already jostling for space in the country. Census 2011 shows that from 325 per square km in

France and Britain have galvanised European military action on Libya. While the UN resolution authorizing the enforcement of a no fly zone is aimed at protecting civilians and backed by the Arabs, it is also pushed by a mix of unstated personal and political factors rooted in Europe. In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron defended committing British forces by declaring the action "necessary, legal and right". Even more than Cameron, it is French President Nicolas Sarkozy who has led calls for military intervention. His reasons could be far more personal than Cameron's: in 2007, Sarkozy became the first western leader in decades to welcome Gaddafi on an official State visit. With his approval ratings sinking to record lows and a presidential election due in summer 2012, Sarkozy has strong domestic political reasons to be seen to be acting swiftly and decisively. Italy has more reasons to be wary of events in Libya than Britain or France. Libya's most important European economic partner, Italy sources some 25 percent of its oil imports and 10 percent of its gas from Libya and billions of Euros are tied up in infrastructure and security projects in the country. Some strategic analysts, however, disagree that domestic political reasons characterize European action. "This is a European, American and Canadian action supported by a UN resolution aimed at protecting civiliansthey will deny that it is about Gaddafi," said Christian Le Miere of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

2001, the average density of population has increased to 382 in 2011up by 17.5%. While the cow-belt and West Bengal continues their dominance, the density spread is more in the urban areas, pointing to the pressure on the natural resources, infrastructure and government aid. India accounts for a meager 2.4% of the world surface area of 135 million sq km and supports 17.5% of the worlds population. In contrast, the US accounts for 7.2% of the surface area with only 4.5% of the population. At 11,297 people for every sq km, Delhi tops the list of States and Union Territories in terms of density. Chandigarh comes next, with 9,252 people. Among States, however, the top slot goes to Bihar with 1,102 people/ sq km. West Bengal is the only other State to have a density in excess of 1,000. Uttar Pradesh, otherwise the most populous State, has a density of only 828. Andaman and Nicobar and Arunachal Pradesh are the least densely populated territories, with 46 and 17 people, respectively, in every sq km. Dibang valley of Arunachal has only one person in a sq km, while Samba in J&K has two. Nagaland is the only State that has statistically demonstrated a negative growth rate and a marginal decline in density. Women steal literacy lead over men: More Indian women gained literacy over the past decade than men, according to the 2011 census. A total of 110 million additional women have become literate since 2001, as opposed to 107 million men over the same

Business News
AT&T Inc has decided to but T-Mobile USA for $ 39 billion. The deal will give AT&T additional capacity to expand and meet ever-increasing demands for videos and data from devices such as Apple Incs iPhone. Berkshire Hathaway, owned by Warren Buffet, one of the worlds most successful investors, will distribute general insurance products in India through its online portal and telemarketing arm. It has become a corporate agent of Bajaj Allianz General Insurance. HDFC Ltd is the only Indian company on a list of 110 worlds most ethical companies, according to an annual survey by US think-tank Ethisphere Institute. The list does not give ranks and has 42 companies from outside USAsix from Japan. No Chinese firm could make the cut. Japanese insurance firm Nippon Life Insurance Company has decided to acquire 26% share in Reliance Life Insurance for Rs 3,062 crore. Manchester United Cafe, the franchise model bar and restaurant of the English Premier League football team, has planned to invest Rs 100 crore in India as part of its expansion. The cafe had entered the Indian market in 2010 and currently has presence in three metros. Maruti Suzuki India Ltd rolled out its 10 millionth car from its facility in Gurgaon on March 15, 2011, to become the first Indian automobile manufacturer to attain this milestone.

period. Never before have women outdone men in numbers gaining literacy over any decade. Indias overall literacy rate has risen from 64.8 % in 2001 to 74.04% but the surge in women literates means the gap between male and female literacy has shrunk. While male literacy has increased from 75.2% in 2001 to 82%, female literacy has jumped from 53.6% to 65.4% over the same period. The literacy increaseoverall and for womenfollows a decade in which successive governments have focused on school education like never before since Independence. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan launched in 2001, along with the universalisation across government schools of the mid-day meal scheme, are credited by most experts as critical interventions that have helped India achieve near universal enrollment in primary education. Bihar and Uttar Pradeshtraditional laggards in educationhave shown maximum improvement both in improving overall literacy and in their female literacy rate. Bihars overall literacy has gone up from 47% in 2001 to 63.8% in 2011, while UPs overall literacy has risen from 42.2% to 59.3% over the same period. The female literacy rate of Bihar has jumped a startling 20%from 33.1% in 2001 to 53.3% now. UP has a seen a rise from 42.2% to 59.3% in female literacy. Kerala remains at the top of the pile in overall, male and female literacy.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) has entered into a code share agreement with Kingfisher Airlines. Pratip Chaudhuri has been appointed as the new Chairman of State Bank of India. Software giant Microsoft has appointed Bhaskar Pramanik as chairman for its India operations. Subway has surpassed McDonalds to become the largest restaurant chain in the world. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has launched iONa fully integrated information technology solution for small and medium businesses (SMBs). Tata Motors have become the first Indian company to produce one lakh commercial vehicles in a financial year. The International Council for Small Business (ICSB) has decided to launch its operations in India through the Indian Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship. ICSB is a global membership organisation for those interested in theory and practice of entrepreneurship and the development of small and medium enterprises. US firm Sara Lee Corp has terminated the licence of Godrej Household Products Ltd to sell Kiwi shoe care and Kiwi Kleen brands in India and Sri Lanka. US-based paper and packaging firm International Paper Co. Has picked-up 53.3% share in Andhra Pradesh Paper

Direct Subsidy Payout Plan The Union government has approved a three-step strategy to create a foolproof system for transferring fertilizer subsidy directly to farmers. In the first step, the government plans to track the movement of fertilizers from factories to farmers via retailers. This is expected to be over by December. After this, based on the collected data, it would start paying retailers. According to DoF, there are around 230,000 retailers who will be paid based on the quantity of fertilizer they receive from companies or through the wholesale route. In the third stage, the government would gradually start paying farmers directly. Fertilizer companies said the strategy might cause delays and the deadline of March 2012 for directly transferring kerosene, LPG and fertilizer subsidies to consumers could be missed. In order to account for all subsidy liabilities and lower the outgo, the government has set up a task force under Nandan Nilekani, the chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India. It has been given a deadline of March 2012. The revised estimates put the subsidy bill food, kerosene and fertilizersat Rs 1,64,153 crore for 2010-11. The subsidy bill for food, petroleum and fertilizers is estimated at Rs 1,34,210 crore for 2011-12. Direct subsidy transfer is positive for the industry, as it removes the working capital issues which arise from delayed payments and under-recoveries. FDI policy liberalised Relaxing the rules for foreign direct

Mills for around $257 million.

Child sex ratio of India, as per Census 2011, is 914 females against 1000 males. This is lowest since independence. The overall sex ratio has risen by 7 points to 940 females per 1000 males. Chinese President Hu Jintao has been named the most powerful person in the world by Forbes, ahead of US President Barack Obama, who is ranked second among 68 people "who matter", a list that also includes Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Sonia ranks 9th on the Forbes 2010 list of the "world's most powerful people". Singh comes in at number 18. India's business tycoons Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, Tata Sons chairman Ratan Tata and head of ArcelorMittal Lakshmi Mittal also make the list. Cricket is known as ban qiu in Chinese. Denmark is ranked first in the list of worlds happiest countries, followed by Finland, Norway and Sweden. India is ranked 115 and shares the spot with Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Pakistan is ranked 58, while China is ranked 125. Facebook Credits is a virtual currency which enables the users of Facebook to watch films on the site or buy various applications. Beam, a mobilecommerce company has applied to the

investment (FDI) in the country, the Union government, on March 31, 2011, decided to permit the issuance of equity to overseas firms against imported capital goods and machinery. Furthermore, the norms for overseas investment in production and developments of seeds have been liberalised. The measure which liberalises the conditions for conversion of non-cash items into equity, is expected to significantly boost the prospects for foreign companies doing business in India. In the agriculture sector, FDI will now be permitted in the development and production of seeds and planting material without the stipulation of having to do so under 'controlled conditions'. The government has further decided to abolish the condition of prior approval in case of existing joint ventures and technical collaborations in the 'same field'. It is expected that this measure will promote the competitiveness of India as an investment destination and be instrumental in attracting higher levels of FDI and technology inflows into the country. Further, companies have now been classified into only two categories'companies owned or controlled by foreign investors' and 'companies owned and controlled by Indian residents'. The earlier categorisation of 'investing companies', 'operating companies' and 'investing-cum-operating companies' has been done away with. Cricket diplomacyPakistans PM invited to watch cricket World Cup semifinal at Mohali Much against the opinion of his own Cabinet, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

RBI for permission to make Facebook Credits available in India. Five most populated States of India are (as per 2011 Census): Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. Five least populated States/UTs are: Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu, Dadar & Nagar Haveli, Andaman & Nicobar and Sikkim. In its credit policy review, on March 17, 2011, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) raised key policy rates by 25 basis points (100 basis points equals 1 per cent) for the eighth time since March 2010 to cool down inflation. It raised short-term lending (repo) and borrowing (reverse repo) rates to 6.75 per cent and 5.75 per cent, respectively. The move will make loans costlier. India now accounts for 17.5% of the worlds population. China accounts for 19.4%. India Post has launched online portal e-post office to provide postal transactions and tracking service online. This portal will provide electronic money order (eMO), instant money order (iMO), sale of philatelic stamps, postal information, tracking of express and international shipments, PIN code search and registration of feedback and complaints online. Through this portal, DoP will also sell products, handicrafts and other products made by small-scale industries. The content of the portal is in English. The next version of the portal is expected to be launched in Bangla and Kannada language.

invited Pakistani leadersboth Prime Minister and Presidentto witness the cricket World Cup semi-final match at Mohali, played between the teams of the two nations on April 29, 2011. Pakistans Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani accepted the invitation to take forward the peace initiative taken by the Indian Prime Minister. At the dinner table in the stadium itself, Mr Manmohan Singh was quick to remind Mr Gilani that there was a need to create an atmosphere free of violence and terrorism for truly realising the goal of normal ties. Prime Minister Gilani full shared the views expressed by Mr Singh. Before leaving for Islamabad, Mr Gilani said the two countries had the will and ability to resolve their problems and stressed the need to give this positive message to the world. Prime Minister Singh termed the meeting as a very good beginning. SC strikes down CVC appointment On March 3, 2011, the Supreme Court of India ruled that the appointment of P.J. Thomas was in contravention of the provisions of the CVC Act, 2003, and hence it is declared that the September 3, 2010, recommendations of the HPC is nonest in law and consequently his appointment is quashed. The verdict was given by a three-member Bench headed by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia. The Bench, which included Justices KSP Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar, ruled that the HPC neither considered the personal integrity of Thomas nor the need for maintaining the institutional integrity and competence of the Central Vigilance Commission, a statutory body set up to fight corruption by guiding the CBI. The HPC, which included Home Minister P.

Indias per capita income, often used to measure a country's standard of living, increased by 14.5 per cent during 2009-10 to Rs 46,492. The per capita income at factor cost is estimated as Rs 46,492 at current prices. As per the base year 2004-05, the per capita income in rural areas was Rs 16,327, while in the urban areas it stood at Rs 44,223. Indias total population, as per the 2011 Census is 12102.2 million. Out of this 586.5 are females and 623.7 are males. Literacy rate of India, as per Census 2011 has gone up to 74.04% from 64.83% a decade ago. 82.4% is male literacy and 65.46 is female literacy. NLU-Delhi, NALSAR-Hyderabad, NLSIU-Bangalore, NUJS-Kolkata and RGSOIPL-IIT Kharagpur have come together to set up the Legal Information Institute of India. The online portal provides for 300,000 decisions from 37 courts and tribunals, 800 bilateral treaties, 500 law journal articles and much more. Over 4,000 cities, including New Delhi and Mumbai, from 131 countries turned off their lights during the global Earth Hour observed on March 26, 2011 Seismic zones are divided into zones from 1 to 5 with 1 being least active to 5 being highest. Indian N-plants at Kakrapar, Gujarat, Tarapur, Maharashtra and Kaiga, Karnataka are in zone 3. Narora in Uttar Pradesh lies in zone 4. Kalpakkam, TN,

Chidambaram and Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, failed to consider the 2003 corruption case relating to the import of palm oil in 1992 by Kerala, where Thomas was Food Secretary, and the four departmental recommendations between June 2000 and November 2004 for initiating penalty proceedings against Thomas in the light of the allegations against him in the case. The SC and the Kerala High Court had also rejected the pleas for quashing the FIR filed in the corruption case and that fact was also not brought before the HPC. The explanation that the HPC could not consider these details as these were not included in the file put up before the committee by the Department of Personnel was immaterial, the Bench ruled. The fact remains that the HPC, for whatsoever reason, has failed to consider the relevant material keeping in mind the purpose and policy of the 2003 CVC Act, the apex court pointed out in its judgment while disposing of two PILs challenging the appointment of Thomas. The HPC should take into consideration whether the candidate would or would not be able to function as a CVC. Whether the institutional competency would be adversely affected by pending proceedings and if by that touchstone the candidate stands disqualified, it shall be the duty of the HPC not to recommend such a candidate, the apex court ruled. The verdict was strictly confined to the legality of the September 3, 2010, recommendation of the HPC, the Apex Court clarified. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), set up in 1964, is Indias top corruption watchdog, which is empowered to conduct

Kudankulam, TN and Rawatbhata, Rajasthan lie in zone 2. Steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal has overtaken Mukesh Ambani to become the wealthiest Indian, according to the annual Forbes list of World Billionaires for 2011. With a net worth of $31.1 billion (Rs 1.4 lakh crore), Mittal is ranked sixth richest in the world. Globally, Carlos Slim Helu, the Mexican telecom baron stayed the richest, increasing his worth by $ 20.5 billion. India, with its 55 billionaires, has the third largest pool of billionaires, after the US and China. The 11th Info-Poverty World Conference was held in March 2011 at the United Nations. The 2011 BRICS summit was hosted by China at Sanya. The biennial Wind Power India conference was held in Chennai. The Constitution (115 Amendment) Bill, 2011, proposes to give powers to both the Centre and the States to make laws with respect of Goods and Services Tax (GST). The amendment is required as currently the Centre cannot impose excise duty beyond the manufacturing stage and the States cannot levy a tax on services. The decadal growth rate of population in 2001-11 was 17.64%. It was 21.54% in the previous decade. The density of population of India (as per Census 2011) is 382 persons per sq km. Delhi (11,297) is the densest State, followed by Chandigarh (9,252).

inquiries in departmental actions against public servants. It is the designated agency to receive written complaints and recommend action in cases of graft or misuse of office by officials. The jurisdiction of the CVC extends to all central government departments, central government companies, including nationalised banks, and central government organisations. It is not an investigating agency. CVC gets the investigations done either by the CBI or through chief vigilance officers in government offices.

Arunachal Pradesh is the least dense State with a density of 17. The Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSRLC) has been set up by the Union government to re-write and clean-up financial laws of India. It is headed by Justice B.N. Srikrishna The three-day world Sufi music festival was held on March 11-13, 2011 in New Delhi. World House Sparrow day is observed on March 20. World Water Day is observed on March 22.

Events; Appointments; Etc.: February 2011

APPOINTED; ELECTED Etc. Jhalanath Khanai: He has been elected as the Prime Minister of Nepal. U.K. Sinha: He has taken over as the chief of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). DISTINGUISHED VISITOR Hamid Karzai: President of Afghanistan. DIED Anant Pai: Creator of Amar Chitra Katha comics in India. Satinder Singh Noor, Dr: Internationally acclaimed multi-lingual scholar and eminent Punjabi litterateur. He was 70. EVENTS FEBRUARY 10The United Liberation Front of Assam, a separatist group from Assam, holds the first round of peace talks with the Union and Assam government in New Delhi. 11Hosni Mubarak steps down as President of Egypt, following 18 days of mammoth protests in Cairo, ending three decades of autocratic rule. 17Cricket World Cup opening ceremony is held at Bangabandhu stadium

in Dhaka, Bangladesh. As part of the ceremony, the captains from the 14 competing teams parade through the stadium in colourfully draped rickshaws. 17The Union government annuls the deal between ISROs commercial arm Antrix and Bangalore firm Davos Multimedia Private Limited. The agreement hasd been signed in 2005 for handing over 70 MHz of S-band Spectrum to the private firm for Rs 1000 crore. The agreement has been annulled following CAGs findings that the deal had resulted in a loss of Rs 2 lakh crore to the nation. 22More than 65 people are killed as a 6.3-magnitude eathquake strikes New Zealands southern city of Christchurch. MILESTONES Lt Gen J.D.S. Rawat: He is the first officer of the Corps of military Intelligence (MI) to be elevated to the rank of Lt. General. Till now, the senior-most rank that officers of MI could attain was major general. MI is responsible for counter-intelligence, field security and information gathering. Major Mitali Madhumita: She is the first woman officer of Indian army to get decorated with a gallantry medal. She has been honoured for her act of bravery during the attack on guest house of Indian officials in Kabul, Afghanistan Dilip Sanghvi: Chairman and Managing Director of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, he has been named as the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2011.

Current Affairs: February 2011

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Union Budget 2011 Highlights

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS People power forces Hosni Mubarak to quit as President of Egypt On February 11, 2011, Hosni Mubarak stepped down as Egypt's President, handing over to the army and ending three decades of autocratic rule, bowing to escalating pressure from the military and protesters demanding that he go. A military council would run the affairs of the Arab world's most populous nation, till a free and fair presidential election is held in September. After a speaker made the announcement in Cairo's Tahrir Square, hundreds of

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Standard rate of excise duty held at 10 percent; no change in CENVAT rates. Personal income tax exemption limit raised to Rs 180,000 from Rs 160,000 for individual tax payers. For senior citizens, the qualifying age reduced to 60 years and exemption limit raised to Rs 2.50 lakh. Citizens over 80 years to have exemption limit of Rs 5 lakh. To reduce surcharge on domestic companies to 5 percent from 7.5 percent.

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A new revised income tax return form 'Sugam' to be introduced for small tax papers. raise minimum alternate tax to 18.5 percent from 18 percent. Iron ore export duty raised to 20 percent Nominal one per cent central excise duty on 130 items entering the tax net. Peak rate of customs duty maintained at 10 per cent in view of the global economic situation. Service tax widened to cover hotel accommodation above Rs 1,000 per day, A/C restaurants serving liquor, some category of hospitals, diagnostic tests. Service tax on air travel increased by Rs 50 for domestic travel and Rs 250 for international travel in economy class. On higher classes, it will be ten per cent flat. Works of art exempt from customs when imported for exhibition in state-run institutions; this now extended to private institutions. Subsidy bill in 2011-12 seen at 1.44 trillion rupees. Food subsidy bill in 2011-12 seen at 605.7 billion rupees. Revised food subsidy bill for 201011 at 606 billion rupees. Revised fertilizer subsidy bill for 2010-11 at 550 billion rupees. Revised petroleum subsidy bill in 2010-11 at 384 billion rupees. State-run oil retailers to be provided with 200 billion rupee cash subsidy in 2011-12. Fiscal deficit seen at 5.1 percent of GDP in 2010-11. Fiscal deficit seen at 4.6 percent of GDP in 2011-12.

thousands of protesters broke down in tears, celebrated and hugged each other chanting: The people have brought down the regime. The 82-year-old Mubarak's downfall after 18 days of unprecedented mass protests was a momentous victory for people power and is sure to rock autocrats throughout the Arab world and beyond. The sharpening confrontation had raised fear of uncontrolled violence in the most populous Arab nation, a key US ally in an oil-rich region where the chance of chaos spreading to other long stable but repressive States troubles the West. Washington has called for a prompt democratic transition to restore stability in Egypt. Hundreds of thousands of protesters rallied across Egypt, including in the industrial city of Suez, earlier the scene of some of the fiercest violence in the crisis, and the second city of Alexandria, as well as in Tanta and other Nile Delta centers. Since the fall of Tunisia's long-time leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, which triggered protests around the region, Egyptians had been demonstrating in huge numbers against rising prices, poverty, unemployment and their authoritarian regime. Nepal finally gets a Prime minister after seven months and sixteen attempts Ending a seven-month-long standoff over the Prime Ministerial election, Nepal's Parliament, on February 3, 2011, elected veteran communist leader and chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) Jhalanath Khanal as the new Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Nepal.

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Total expenditure in 2011-12 seen at 12.58 trillion rupees. Plan expenditure seen at 4.41 trillion rupees in 2011-12, up 18.3 percent. Gross tax receipts seen at 9.32 trillion rupees in 2011-12. Non-tax revenue seen at 1.25 trillion rupees in 2011-12. Corporate tax receipts seen at 3.6 trillion rupees in 2011-12. Tax-to-GDP ratio seen at 10.4 percent in 2011-12; seen at 10.8 percent in 2012-13. Customs revenue seen at 1.52 trillion rupees in 2011-12. Service tax receipts seen at 820 billion rupees in 2011-12. Economy expected to grow at 9 percent in 2012, plus or minus 0.25 percent. Inflation seen lower in the financial year 2011-12. Disinvestment in 2011-12 seen at 400 billion rupees. Government committed to retaining 51 percent stake in public sector enterprises. Net market borrowing for 2011-12 seen at 3.43 trillion rupees, down from 3.45 trillion rupees in 2010-11. Gross market borrowing for 2011-12 seen at 4.17 trillion rupees. Revised gross market borrowing for 2010-11 at 4.47 trillion rupees. To create infrastructure debt funds. FDI policy being liberalized. To boost infrastructure development with tax-free bonds of 300 billion rupees. Food security bill to be introduced. To permit SEBI registered mutual

UML chairman Khanal, 61, was elected by securing 368 votes in the 601-member Parliament. Khanal proved lucky and became the third communist Prime Minister after the April 2006 uprising by replacing his fellow comrade Madhav Kumar Nepal after the Unified CPN-Maoists, the single largest party in the Parliament, decided to withdraw its candidate and forge a Left alliance by extending support to Khanal. Jhalanath Khanal, who was elected chairman of the UML in February 2009, was born in Ilam in May 1950. A graduate in political science and history from Tribhuvan University, Khanal entered politics in 1965. He was one of the founding members of the National Co-ordination Committee for all Communist Revolutionaries of Nepal in 1975 and CPN (ML) in 1978. He was jailed for a total of 26 months in his early political career and went underground in 1979. After restoration of democracy, he was a minister in the interim government formed in 1990. He was elected as a lawmaker in the 1991 and 1994 general elections. G-20 ministers reach deal to correct economic flaws G-20 Finance Ministers have reached a compromise deal to correct global economic imbalances and expressed concern over excessive commodity price volatility impacting the world food security, an issue pressed by India. After two days of hard bargain by their Finance Ministers, major economies, faced with uneven recovery and downside risks, reached a text in the face of tough resistance from China to agree on guidelines for removal of structural flaws in the global

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funds to access subscriptions from foreign investments. Raised foreign institutional investor limit in 5-year corporate bonds for investment in infrastructure by $20 billion. Setting up independent debt management office; Public debt bill to be introduced in parliament soon. Bills on insurance, pension funds, banking to be introduced. To allocate more than 1.64 trillion rupees to defence sector in 2011-12. Corpus of rural infrastructure development fund raised to 180 billion rupees in 2011-12. To provide 201.5 billion rupees capital infusion in state-run banks in 2011-12. To allocate 520.5 billion rupees for the education sector. Rs.21,000 crore for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. To raise health sector allocation to 267.6 billion rupees. Rs.500 crore more for national skill development fund. Rs.54 crore each for AMU (Aligarh Muslim University) centres at Murshidabad and Mallapuram. Rs.58,000 crore for Bharat Nirman; increase of Rs.10,000 crore. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme wage rates linked to consumer price index; will rise from existing Rs.100 per day. Infrastructure critical for development; 23 percent higher allocation in 2011-12. Removal of supply bottlenecks in the food sector will be in focus in 201112. To raise target of credit flow to agriculture sector to 4.75 trillion

economy. However, the document did not talk about an issue of much interest to India. New Delhi wanted that G-20 should urge all jurisdictions to conclude Tax Information Exchange Agreements so that menace of black money in tax havens can be tackled. This issue seems to have been put on back seat as a lot of time was spent on reaching an agreement with China, which was opposed to inclusion of foreign exchange reserves and its exchange rate among the guidelines. China is sitting on a $2.8 trillion forex reserves and is accused by the US of manipulating its currency yuan. Faced with a double-digit food inflation, India also pressed for a coordinated approach to tackle food, commodity and oil price volatility, which make emerging economies "vulnerable". The ministers agreed on a plan to strengthen the international monetary system (IMS) with regard to disruptive capital flows and disorderly movement in exchange rates, a matter of great concern to India. The document also expressed its worries on the impact of rising oil prices, which have exceeded $100 per barrel. On the most contentious guidelines to remove structural imbalances, the communique appeared to have accommodated China's objections to including forex reserves and current account deficit. The communiqu, instead, said that indicative guidelines, without targets will be used to assess: i) public debt and fiscal deficit; private savings and private debt; ii) external imbalances composed of trade balance and net investment income flows and transfers, taking into due consideration of exchange rate, fiscal, monetary and other policies.

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rupees. 3 percent interest subsidy to farmers in 2011-12. Cold storage chains to be given infrastructure status. Capitalisation of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) of 30 billion rupees in a phased manner. To provide 3 billion rupees for 60,000 hectares under palm oil plantation. Food storage capacity to be augmented; 15 more mega food parks to be set up in 2011-12; of 30 sanctioned in previous fiscal, 15 set up. Comprehensive policy on further developing PPP (public-privatepartnership) model. To move towards direct transfer of cash subsidy for kerosene, LPG and fertilizers. Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge B. Srikrishna, to complete its work in 24 months; to overhaul financial regulations. Five-fold strategy against black money; 13 new double taxation avoidance agreements; foreign tax division of CTBT strengthened; strength of Enforcement Directorate increased three-fold. Bill to be introduced to review Indian Stamp Act. New coins carrying new rupee symbol to be issued. Anganwadi workers salary raised from Rs.1,500 to Rs.3,000. Housing loan limit for priority sector lending raised to Rs.25 lakh.

US, Russia launch nuclear arms reduction pact On February 5, 2011, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched a landmark nuclear arms reduction pact with Russia, a showpiece of Washingtons reset of ties with its former Cold War enemy. The new START officially came into force when Clinton and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov exchanged ratification documents at a security conference in the German city of Munich. Today we exchange the instruments of ratification for a treaty that lessens the nuclear danger facing the Russian and American people and the world, Clinton said. The chief US diplomat hailed the pact as another example of clear-eyed cooperation between the two military powers, part of a journey we have been taking for more than 60 years. Lavrov told the Munich conference that the agreement would enhance international stability. The pact slashes existing warhead ceilings by 30 per cent over the next 10 years and limits each side to 700 deployed long-range missiles and heavy bombers. The original 1991 pact expired at the end of 2009 amid stark differences over how the two sides planned to proceed.

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Business News
Reliance Industries Ltd and UKs oil and gas exploration company BP have announced a historic deal under which BP will pay $7.2 billion to acquire 30

Railway Budget, 2011 For the third year in a row, Railway Minister

Mamata Banerjee made an attempt to come out with the aam aadmi budget sparing the passengers and industry from fare and freight hikes and announcing the highest ever investment of Rs 57,630 crore, with 68 new trains. On February 25, 2011, presenting her third Railway Budget in UPA-II in the Lok Sabha, Mamata vowed to build a stronger railroad infrastructure based on the Vision 2020 document while announcing a slew of concessions, including reducing the eligibility age of senior women citizens from 60 to 58 years and raising the fare concession for senior citizens (above 60) from 30 to 40 per cent. The budget estimates for 2011-12 project a freight loading of 993 million tonne and a passenger growth of 6.4 per cent. Ordinary working expenses have been estimated at Rs 73,650 crore and appropriation to depreciation reserve fund pegged at Rs 7,000 crore. A provision of Rs 6,735 crore has been made for dividend payment and the excess for railways for the new fiscal has been projected at Rs 5,258 crore, with an operating ratio of 98.1 per cent. Gross traffic receipts have been fixed at Rs 94,840 crore, which is higher by Rs 75 crore over budget estimates. The ordinary working expenses have been fixed at Rs 67,000 crore. A target of 1,300 km of new lines, 867 km of doubling of lines and 1,017 km of gauge conversion has been set. Indian Railways, the worlds second largest under a single management, has a network of 64,099 km to ferry as many as 18.9 million passengers on 7,000 trains daily, from 6,906 stations. It also runs 4,000 freight trains to carry 850 million tonne of cargo.

per cent equity stake in 23 oil and gas production sharing contracts that RIL operates in India, including the KG D6 block. Future performance payments of up to $1.8 billion could be paid based on exploration success. Fortis Global Healthcare Holdings will acquire a majority stake in Australias Dental Corporation Holdings (DCH). Fortis Global is the wholly-owned overseas investment vehicle of Fortis Healthcare Ltd. Educomp Solutions has picked up a majority stake in test preparation company Gateforum Educational Services which provides preparatory tools for Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE), an entrance test for admission to postgraduate courses in technical institutes in India. Nokia Oyj, the worlds biggest maker of mobile phones, has formed a software partnership with Microsoft Corp., betting that together the two companies can challenge Google Inc and Apple Inc.

Indias first inland fish processing unit has been set up in the village of Bhutana in Karnal district of Haryana. The unit has been set up in technical collaboration with ZTM BPD Unit, South Zone, Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Cochin, which comes under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). As per the Economic Survey, 2011, India has the fourth largest foreign

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No hike in passenger fare and freight rates. Highest ever plan outlay of Rs 57,630 crore proposed. Rs 9,583 crore provided for new lines. 1,300 km new lines, 867 km doubling of lines and 1,017 km gauge conversion targeted in 2011-12. 56 new Express Trains, 3 new Shatabdis and 9 Durontos to be introduced. 16,000 ex-servicemen to be given jobs in railways. Ten-year backlog of 1.75 lakh jobs to be addressed. Durontos on the Allahabad-Mumbai, Pune-Ahmedabad, Sealdah-Puri, Secunderabad-Visakhapatnam, Madurai-Chennai routes. Integrated suburban network to be set up in Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmedabad. A bridge factory in Jammu & Kashmir and a state-of-art institute for tunnel and bridge engineering proposed at Jammu. New Shatabadi to link Ludhiana with New Delhi. New weekly train, "Vivek Express", on Bandra (T)-Jammu Tawi Express route via Marwar-Degana- Ratangarh -Jakhal-Ludhiana. Industrial park in Nandigram, Metro coach factory for Singur. Centre for excellence in software at Darjeeling. Concession for senior citizens increased from 30% to 40%. Age for senior women citizens concession reduced to 58 from 60. Pradhan Mantri Rail Vikas Yojana to be launched. Student special .trains to be started;

exchange reserves in the world. Indias foreign exchange reserves touched $ 297.3 billion in December 2010, from 279.1 billion in March. The National Science Day is observed on February 28 to mark the discovery of Raman Effect by Sir C.V. Raman in 1928, for which he was awarded the Nobel prize. To reduce the burden of small taxpayers, a new, simplified income tax return form, Sugam, has been introduced. The Union Budget 2011 has increased the Defence budget by 11 per cent. Additional Rs 17,071 crore have been allotted over 2010 Budget figure of Rs 1,47,344 crore. About Rs 69,199 crore has been earmarked for capital expenses like weapons, planes, ships, special classified projects etc. The Budget 2011 has earmarked Rs 52,000 crore for education, out of which Rs 21,000 crore will be spent on Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, Rs 6,213 crore on secondary education and Rs 2,200 crore on higher education. The Hyderabad international airport has bagged the first rank in its category in the latest Airport Service Quality (ASQ) rankings of the Airports Council International (ACI). The theme song of Cricket World Cup, 2011 was De Ghuma Ke. It was composed by the trio of Shankar, Ehasan and Loy India received foreign direct investment (FDI) worth $21 billion

start of Rajrani Express. Multi-purpose smart card to be introduced for all-India travel.

9Rs 96,104 crore) in the calendar year 2010, a decline of 22 per cent over 2009. The SAARC Foreign Ministers meet was held in Thimpu, Bhutan on February 8, 2011. The NASSCOM India Leadership Forum (NILF) was held in Mumbai in February 2011. Mahatma Gandhi and the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama have been listed by the Time magazine as the worlds top 25 political icons. Times top 25 political icons are: Mahatma Gandhi, Alexander the Great, Mao Zedong, Winston Churchill, Genghis Khan, Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Adolf Hitler, Ernesto Che Guevara, Ronald Reagan, Cleopatra, Franklin Roosevelt, the Dalai Lama, Queen Victoria, Benito Mussolini, Akbar the Great, Lenin, Margaret Thatcher, Simn Bolvar, Qin Shi Huang, Kim Il-Sung, Charles de Gaulle, Louis XIV, Haile Selassie, King Richard the Lionheart and Saladin. India has agreed to temporarily lend fragments of Buddhas bones, famously known as Kapilavastu relics, to Sri Lanka for an exposition to celebrate his 2600th year of enlightenment in 2011. China has emerged as the worlds largest economy, surpassing Japan, which had held on to the position for over four decades. At the end of 2010, Japanese economy was estimated to be worth about $5.5 trillion and that of China $5.8 trillion. USA continues to

Review of economic growth story of India As per the Economic Survey 2011, nonCongress States are scripting Indias economic growth story. The Survey places Bihar on top in terms of performance on growth, with the State posting a whopping 16.59 per cent growth in 2008-2009, the latest year for which the data is available. But Gujarat pips Bihar (which is followed by Orissa, Haryana and Uttrakhand) to the lead spot when the growth performance is measured from 2002-2003 onwards to 2009. Interesting to see is the fact that out of top five growing States in the country, four are ruled by non-Congress governments, with the exception of Haryana which stands fourth in this list. The Economic Survey reveals that though Rajasthan, followed by Andhra Pradesh, UP, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Bihar, provided maximum employment under MNREGA in 2009-2010, it was Punjab (ruled by the Shorimani Akali Dal-BJP combine) which employed the maximum Scheduled Castes under the programme (Punjab also reports the lowest number of people below poverty line in India) while the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh employed the maximum STs, followed by Jharkhand, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh. After Punjab, the maximum SC employment under MNREGA was reported from Tamil Nadu, UP, Haryana and Bihar. On gross enrollment ratios in elementary education also, the Opposition-ruled States of Jharkhand (where the JMM and BJP are in coalition), Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh

and Gujarat rank the highest. So far as the progress under the National Rural Health Mission goes, the maximum health centers have come up in Tamil Nadu, followed by Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Ironically, though they are doing well in terms of economic growth, non-Congress ruled states like Orissa and Bihar continue to perform poorly on poverty indicators. The percentage of people below the poverty line is very high in Orissa, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttrakhand and Madhya Pradesh. Rural income inequality is the highest in Haryana and urban income inequality is the highest in Madhya Pradesh. Plan to deal with black money menace Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said that the government had adopted a five-fold strategy to deal with the problem of generation and circulation of black money. Presenting the Budget, he said: The fivefold strategy consists of joining the global crusade against black money, creating an appropriate legislative framework, setting up institutions for dealing with illicit funds, developing systems for implementation and imparting skills to the manpower for effective action. He added that while the membership of the Financial Action Task Force was secured in June 2010, the government has also joined the Task Force on Financial Integrity and Economic Development, Eurasian Group and Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. Discussions have also been concluded for 11 Tax Information Exchange Agreements and 13 new Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs), along with revision of provisions of 10 existing DTAAs, he

be the largest economy of the world with the economy worth $14.6 trillion.

said. India, Japan sign free trade agreement On February 16, 2011, India and Japan signed a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) to open markets and reduce barriers on goods, services and movement of people between the two countries. The pact was signed between Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Seiji Maehara in Tokyo. Indian government has set a target of doubling bilateral trade to $25 billion by 2014, which is currently at $10.3 billion. CEPA will lead to a quantum increase in bilateral trade and investment flows, by relaxing barriers to trade in goods, services and movement of natural persons, besides enhanced cooperation on protection of intellectual property. This agreement is the most ambitious agreement signed by India so far and covers trade in goods, services and investment under its ambit. This agreement follows from the commitment of the two Prime Ministers in October 2010. The agreement has ensured that the sensitive sectors for India are fully protected, including agriculture, fruits, spices, wheat, basmati rice, edible oils, wines and spirits and also certain categories of industrial products such as auto and auto parts. India, Malaysia ink free trade pact On February 18, 2011, India and Malaysia signed a comprehensive market opening pact that throws up myriad trade opportunities for both sides and give a boost to India's LookEast Policy and the prospects for its economic integration with South-East Asia.

Indias Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and his Malaysian counterpart Mustapa Mohamed, in the presence of Prime Minister Najib Razak and several leading captains of industry from both sides, signed the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). The agreement, which was reached after seven rounds of negotiation, will see Indian mangoes, cotton, motorcycles, trucks and basmati rice attract less duty in Malaysia, among other things. As a quid pro quo, the South-East nation will face less barriers on the sale of its fruit, engineering goods and chemicals in India. Shivraj V. Patil panel report on 2G scam Unveiling the report of the Shivraj V Patil panel that went into the lapses made during the allocation of the 2G Spectrum, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said on February 4, 2011, the committee had concluded that all decisions on Spectrum allocation since 2003 by successive governments, including the UPA regime, were procedurally wrong. In what could be a damning admission of Raja not following procedures despite advice from other ministries, the report says that the DoT did not follow the advice of the Law Ministry or the views of the Finance Ministry over Spectrum pricing. The findings on procedural lapses are being sent to the CBI, which is looking into the criminal culpability in the scam. ULFA agrees to unconditional talks After three decades of armed conflict that cost thousands of lives in Assam, the outlawed United Liberation Front of Assam( ULFA) has finally decided to sit for unconditional talks with the Government of India.

On February 5, 2011, leaders of the outfit informed that ULFA had been invited by Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram for a preliminary round of talks in New Delhi, as a prelude to formal negotiations that would materialize once ULFA submitted its charter of demands. With this ULFA has finally given up its earlier preconditions of, one, holding talks in a third country; two, including sovereignty as the core issue; three, of having a UN observer for the talks. The ULFA foreign secretary, Sasadhar Choudhury, pointed out that preconditions set by both ULFA and the government had stood in the way of holding peace talks since 1992, the year ULFA leaders had met then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao only to renege on their promise to come forward for a dialogue on a later date. On ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Barua airing his opposition to dialogue, the outfit leaders said he had done it before the general council of ULFA decided on unconditional talks. The decision of the general council is binding on everyone. Anyone defying it will face disciplinary action as per the provision of the ULFAs constitution. Paresh Barua was invited to both the central executive committee and general council meeting, but he didnt come. We have conveyed our decision for talks to him and are waiting for his response, the ULFA leaders said. ULFA claims to have been founded on April 7, 1979. It initiated major violent activities in 1990, which led the Union government banning the organisation. Military operations against it by the Army also began in 1990. In the past two decades, some 10,000 people have died in clashes between the rebels and

the government. In December 2009, the chairman and the deputy commander-in-chief of ULFA were arrested. There has also been a large ULFA crackdown in Bangladesh in last one year, which significantly assisted India and led to ULFA softening its stand and dropping the demand for independence as a condition for talks. Godhra Train Burning Case On February 22, 2011, thirty one persons were convicted and 63 others, including the main accused Maulvi Umarji, were acquitted by a special court in the 2002 Godhra train burning incident that left 59 persons dead and triggered violence in Gujarat that claimed the lives of over 1200 people. The trial, conducted inside the Sabarmati Central Jail, Ahmedabad, began in June 2009 with the framing of charges against 94 accused. The accused were charged with criminal conspiracy and murder in burning of the S-6 coach of the train on February 27, 2002, near Godhra, about 125 km from Ahmedabad, in which 59 people were killed. As many as 253 witnesses were examined during the trial and over 1,500 documentary evidences were presented before the court by the Gujarat police. There were a total of 134 accused in the case, out of which 14 were released due to lack of evidence, five were juvenile, five died during proceedings of over nine years, and 16 are absconding. Of the 94, against whom the trial was conducted, 80 are in jail and 14 are out on bail. Two different panels appointed to inquire into the 2002 case had given different views on the Godhra train burning incident. The Nanavati Commission, appointed by the

Gujarat government to probe the carnage, had in the first part of the report concluded that the fire in the S-6 coach was not an accident, but was caused by throwing petrol inside it. The one-man U.C. Banerjee Commission appointed by the Railway Ministry under Lalu Prasad Yadav had said that the fire was "accidental". The Court accepted the conspiracy theory.

Events; Appointments; Etc.: January 2011

APPOINTED; ELECTED; Etc Dilma Rousseff: She has been elected as the first woman Presient of Brazil. Marouf Bakhit: He has been appointed as the Prime Minister of Jordan by King Abdullah. Union Cabinet Reshuffle Praful Patel: Union Minister, Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Salman Khurshid: Union Minister, Water Resources and additional charge of Minority Affairs S. Jaiswal: Union Minister, Coal. Sharad Pawar: Union Minister, Agriculture & Food Processing Industry. Vilasrao Deshmukh: Union Minister, Rural Development & additional charge of Panchayati Raj. Jaipal Reddy: Union Minister, Petroleum & Natural Gas. Kamal Nath: Union Minister, Urban Development. Vayalar Ravi: Union Minister, Overseas Indian Affairs and additional charge of Civil Aviation. Murli Deora: Union Minister, Corporate Affairs. Virbhadra Singh: Union Minister, Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises. C.P. Joshi: Union Minister, Highways & Transport. M.S. Gill: Union Minister, Statistics, Programme Implementation. Kumari Selja: Union Minister, Culture, Housing, Urban Poverty alleviation. Subhod Kant Shay: Union Minister, Tourism. Ashwani Kumar: Minister of State (Independent Charge), Parliamentary Affairs, Planning, Science & Technology, Earth Sciences. Ajay Maken: Minister of State (Independent Charge), Youth Affairs & Sports. Beni Prasad Verma: Minister of State (Independent Charge), Steel. Prof K.G. Thomas: Minister of State (Independent Charge), Consumer

Affairs, Food & Public Distribution. K.C. Venugopal: Minister of State, Power. E. Ahamed: Minister of State, External Affairs. V. Narayanasamy: Minister of State, PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Parliamentary Affairs. Gurudas Kamath: Minister of State, Telecom. A. Sai Prathap: Minister of State, Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises. Bharatsinh Solanki: Minister of State, Railways. Jitin Prasad: Minister of State, Road Transport & Highways. Madhav S. Khandela: Minister of State, Tribal Affairs. R.P.N. Singh: Minister of State, Petroleum & Natural Gas and Corporate Affairs. Tusharbhai Chaudhary: Minister of State, Raod Transport & Highways. Arun Yadav: Minister of State, Agriculture & Food Preocessing Industries. P.P. Patil: Minister of State, Coal. Vincet Pala: Minister of State, Water Resources and Minority Affairs. RESIGNED Zine El Abidine Ben Ali: President of Tunisia, following popular revolt against his regime. DISTINGUISHED VISITORS Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono: President of Indonesia. He was the Chief Guest at the 2011 Republic Day function. DIED Pt. Bhimsen Joshi: Legendary Hindustani classical vocalist. He was 89. K. Subrahmanyam: Renowned strategic expert whose recommendations in the aftermath of Kargil conflict led to the revamp of Indias intelligence network. He was 82. He was the founding Director of security think-tank, Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis. EVENTS JANUARY 1India joins the UN Security Council (UNSC) as its non-permanent member for a two-year term after a gap on 19 years. 11Chinas first radar evading stealth fighter makes its maiden test flight, making the country only the second nation after USA to test such cuttingedge technology. 14More than 85 people are killed in stampede at Sabrimala shrine in Kerala. 20All-India mobile number portability services are launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. MILESTONES M.D. Mallaya: Chief of Bank of Baroda, he has been chosen as the Business

Standard Banker of the Year. Bappi Lahiri: He has become the first Indian composer to be in the Grammy jury for the awards in 2012.

Current Affairs: January 2011

NATIONAL AFFAIRS RBIs Mid-Term Policy Review On January 25, 2011, the Reserve Bank of India raised its policy interest rates by a quarter percentage point, squeezing money supply again in the economy in its battle to control price rise. It also upped its inflation forecast, underlining a grim posture. The RBI raised the repo rate, at which it lends to banks, by 25 basis points to 6.5%, while the reverse repo, at which it takes bank funds, rose by the same measure to 5.5%. Such squeezes are aimed at making loans costlier to control demand, and thus, inflation. The RBI kept options open for a further squeeze on rates, even as it maintained that GDP growth would be a strong 8.5% in 2010-11, although it might ease the following year. It revised up the benchmark inflation estimate based on wholesale prices to 7.0% at end-March from 5.5%. Inflation stemming from structural demandsupply mismatches in several non-cereal food items such as pulses, oil-seeds, eggs, fish, meat and milk is likely to persist till supply response kicks in," said the RBI. Rural job Plan turns five but a lot needs to be done The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, UPAs flagship aam admi scheme, turned five on February 2, 2011. However, more than 30% of the INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Dilma Rousseff is Brazils first woman President On January 1, 2010, Dilma Rousseff became the Brazil's first female President. She has promised to build on an unprecedented run of economic success achieved by her popular predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Thousands of admirers braved a driving rain and cheered as Rousseff rode to her inauguration in a 1953 Rolls Royce flanked by an all-female security detail. The former Marxist guerrilla, who evolved over the years into a pragmatic civil servant with a professed obsession for reducing poverty, smiled broadly and clapped along with spectators as she was sworn in before the Congress. More than 20 million Brazilians were lifted out of poverty during Lula's eight years in office, thanks largely to his social welfare policies and stable economic management that made Brazil a darling among Wall Street investors. The coming decade also looks bright, with massive, newly discovered offshore oil reserves due to be exploited and the World Cup and Olympics to be hosted here. Yet, Rousseff also faces a long list of daunting challenges that Lula failed to tackle, including an overvalued currency that is hurting industry, rampant public spending that is fueling inflation, and

rural India working under the right-to-work act continue to receive wages below the guaranteed minimum as per the minimum wages act. On January 14, the Ministry of Rural Development issued a notification revising the wage rates under the MNREGA from Rs 100 per day to between Rs 117 and Rs 181 (17-30 % hike) in different States. The revision under Section 6(1) of the 2005 Act, coming in wake of inflationary pressures on the poor, adjusts the wages by indexing it to the Consumer Price Index of Agricultural Laborers (CPIAL). Though the Ministry claims the revision takes NREGA wages above the minimum wages in 26 States and Union Territories, analysis shows the other eight States that continue getting less than minimum wages constitute 1.3 crore households or 31% of the total 4.1 crore households provided work till January 31, 2011. The eight include smaller States such as Goa and Mizoram, which have less number of workers under the scheme. But, the States also include the two showpieces under MNREGAAndhra Pradesh and Rajasthanthat brought in reforms like social audit, post office-bank payments into the mother of all schemes with a budget allocation of Rs 40,100 in 2010-11. Though numerous villages, like Saru in Udaipur district of Rajasthan, have benefited from MNREGA, the average they receive is under Rs 100 a day, forcing many to go in search of work as far as Ahmedabad, Surat where they Rs 200 to Rs 250 per day. Srikrishna panel report The Justice B.N. Srikrishna Committee

notorious bureaucracy that stifles investment and discourages innovation. Perhaps the biggest task will be living up to the example set by Lula, a former metalworkers' union leader who leaves office with an approval rating of 87 per cent and near folk-hero status, especially among the poor. New PM appointed in Jordan following protests On January 31, 2011, Marouf Bakhit was appointed as the Prime Minister of Jordan by King Abdullah. The move came following protests inspired by mass demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt, but the opposition dismissed the move as insufficient. The earlier Prime Minister Samir Rifal was criticized for following a pro-Western reforms agenda. His opponents sought to reverse free market reforms they say have cut State support for East Bank Jordinians, the original inhabitants of the country who depend on government support more than Jordinains of Palestinian origins. UN ends Peace Mission in Nepal On January 15, 2011, the UN ended its peace mission as the government and the main Opposition Maoists inked a crucial eleventh-hour deal to monitor fragile peace process. The UN mission was tasked to supervise the arms and the army of the former rebels and the military. The UNMIN closure, however, makes the fate of the 19,000 Maoist combatants confined in the cantonments uncertain, as there is no clear road-map regarding the future monitoring, integration and rehabilitation of the former combatants. The government said a special committee comprising representatives from the main political parties would monitor the exguerrillas, which the Maoists do not agree

report was made public on January 6, 2011. It has strongly advocated maintaining united Andhra Pradesh along with creation of statutory Telangana Regional Council to address the core socio-economic concerns of the backward region. This is the most workable option in the given circumstances and in the best interest of the social and economic welfare of people of all the three regions in the state, the committee said in its 500-page report. The five-member panel was set up in February 2010 to examine the competing demands for carving out a separate Telangana State and maintaining the status quo. After an elaborate exercise involving interactions with various groups, field visits and examining over 2.50 lakh petitions, the committee presented a set of six options and discussed their pros and cons in great detail. The stress on maintaining unity formed a common thread that ran through the report. On bifurcation, which has been the single point agenda of Telangana protagonists, the Committee said it was the second best option but could be recommended only in case it is unavoidable and if this decision can be reached amicably among all three regions. However, the committee warned that division of the State would have repercussions in other regions. If earlier agitations are anything to go by, this decision will give rise to serious and violent agitations in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions where backlash will be immediate, the key issues being Hyderabad and sharing of water and irrigation resources, the report said.

to. Governor of Punjab province of Pakistan assassinated for supporting a woman convicted under blasphemy law The assassination of former Governor of Punjab province of Pakistan, Salmaan Taseer, on January 4, 2011, once again drew attention to Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws, which have been at the center of debate of late. Religious parties have been able to force Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to step back from the government's earlier stance of changing these laws Taseer's killing due to his support for a woman convicted under the blasphemy law is yet another addition to the list of those killed as a direct or indirect consequence of this legislation. Threats were made, and protests held against Taseer after he visited Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman awarded the death sentence for committing blasphemy, and expressed his support for her. According to data compiled by the National Commission for Justice and Peace, a local NGO, extra-judicial killings of those accused under the country's blasphemy laws started in 1990, but the laws were in place since 1980, instituted by military strongman General Zia Ul Haq. South Sudan says Yes to secession South Sudan has overwhelmingly voted to split from the north in a referendum intended to end decades of civil war, as per the result declared on January 30, 2011. Thousands cheered, danced and ululated after officials said 99.57 per cent of voters from the souths 10 States chose to secede.

Elaborating further on consequences of splitting the State, the Committee said: The division will also have serious implications outside AP. It will give fillip to other similar demands. The matter should also be seen in the larger context of whether a region can be allowed to decide for itself what its political status should be, as that would only create a demand for a great number of smaller States resulting in problems of coordination and management. The panel said: We are convinced that the development aspect is of utmost importance for the welfare of all the three regions and could best be addressed through a model that includes deeper and more extensive economic and political de-centralisation. The OPTIONS Maintaining status quo but allow economic and political de-centralisation. Bifurcation of the State into Seemandhra and Telangana; with Hyderabad as a Union Territory. The two States will develop their own capitals in due course of time. Bifurcation into Rayala-Telangana and coastal Andhra regions with Hyderabad being an integral part of Rayala-Telangana. Bifurcation into Seemandhra and Telangana with enlarged Hyderabad Metropolis as a separate Union Territory. This Union Territory will have geographical linkage and contiguity via Nalgonda district in the south-east to district Guntur in coastal Andhra and via Mahboobnagar district in the south to Kurnool district in Rayalaseema. Bifurcation into Telangana and Seemandhra as per existing boundaries with Hyderabad as the capital of Telangana and Seemandhra to have a new capital. Historical Timeline Andhra, Rayalaseema were part of Madras province.

The vote was promised in a 2005 peace-deal which ended decades of north-south conflict, Africas longest civil war which cost an estimated 2 million lives. Kiir, the head of the former southern rebel Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM), praised his former civil war foe, Sudans overall president Omar Hassan alBashir, for agreeing to the 2005 accord. According to the terms of the accord, south Sudan will be able to declare independence on July 9, 2011, pending any legal challenges to the results. Leaders from the SPLM and Bashirs northern National Congress Party (NCP) still have to agree on a list of politically sensitive issues, including the position of their shared border, how they would split oil revenues after secession and the ownership of the disputed Abyei region. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised north and south Sudan for the peaceful vote but said he was concerned about the unresolved issues. Visit of Chinese President to USA President Hu Jintao of China visited USA in second week of January 2011 to narrow rifts between the worlds top two economies. This was the first visit of a Chinese President to USA in 13 years. The State-run Chinese media recorded the visit as a successful summit of equals. However, the pomp and rhetoric did little to resolve acrimony between the two countries over US interference in South China Sea, US policies on Taiwan, the Dalai Lama, currency and trade differences. During the joint press conference President Jintao admitted that his country needed to

Telangana was part of the Hyderabad State for 400 years. In 1953, Andhra and Rayalaseema separated from Madras. In 1956, Andhra merged with Telangana. 1969: Telangana Praja Samiti was formed. 1972: Jai Andhra movement in Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra. 2000: TDP opposes creation of Telangana. 2001: K. Chandrashekhara Rao forms Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS). Visit of President of Indonesia History met geography when Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono took the salute as the Chief Guest at Indias 62nd Republic Day parade on January 26, 2011. President Soekarno, whose close friends Jawaharlal Nehru and Biju Patnaik helped defy the Dutch colonial embargoes of the late 1940s that enabled Indonesia gain independence, was the Chief Guest at the founding of the Indian republic, in 1950. President Yudhoyono came to Delhi with a large business delegation and witnessed the signature of a clutch of agreements, including between private enterprises. New investment commitments worth $12 billion were signed, with the Indians looking to put their money in infrastructure projects such as airports, railways and ports. Indian business interest in Indonesia is kindled not only by the fact of its large, 238 million population, and therefore, a large market, but also because it is the gateway to the ASEAN, a region of over 300 million people that spans 10 States from Myanmar to the Philippines. India and Indonesia signed nearly 30 agreements, including an extradition treaty and a mutual legal assistance treaty, and pledged to achieve a bilateral trade target of $ 25 billion by 2015, from about $ 11 billion

do a lot more on human rights. The human rights were clearly the top concern of USA despite the economic ties between the two countries. President Jintao warned USA to keep away from Tibet or else bilateral ties will be greatly effected, a day after President Obama asked him to talk to representatives of the Dalai Lama to resolve the issue. Global Innovation Report, 2010 Innovation levels, as measured by patent volume, shifted across 12 major technology areas from 2009 to 2010, according to the second annual analysis of world patent activity published by the IP Solutions business of Thomson Reuters. The 2010 Innovation Report: Twelve Key Technology Areas and Their States of Innovation tracks patent activity in key technology areas using the Thomson Reuters Derwent World Patents Index (DWPISM) database, the world's most trusted source of patent information. Key findings between 2009 and 2010 innovation data include: Aerospace technology area blasts into a new orbit: In addition to increasing overall activity by 25% year over year, the largest aerospace sub-sector increase from 2009 to 2010 occurred in the field of Space Vehicles and Satellite Technology, which jumped up 108%. The three companies in this area were Japanese manufacturer Sharp, followed by Korean manufacturers LG and Samsung. Semiconductor innovation short circuits: The Semiconductor technology area saw the largest drop in innovation activity across the 12 areas tracked, falling 9% last year. The drop was driven by subsector declines in Integrated Circuits;

in 2009-10. The main accords signed by the two sides were: MOU for cooperation in the field of education; MOU on the establishment of biennial trade ministers forum; protocol for extension of the MOU on cooperation in marine and fisheries; MOU for the development of urea manufacturing plant in Indonesia; air services agreement; MOU on cooperation in oil and gas; MOU on cooperation in the field of micro, small and medium enterprises; MOU on cooperation in science and technology; and MOU between the Press Council of India and the Press Council of Indonesia. In a joint statement issued after the talks between the Prime Minister and the Indonesian President, the two countries unequivocally condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and stressed that there could be no justification whatsoever for any act of terrorism. In the field of tourism, the two leaders recognized that a quantum leap in tourism between India and Indonesia was desirable to strengthen vibrant and long-standing people-to-people ties. As a step towards this objective, the Prime Minister announced a scheme of granting visa on arrival to the citizens of Indonesia. India, Italy to set-up joint trade panel On January 31, 2011, India and Italy decided to set up a Joint Business Council (JBC), a bilateral trade cooperation body, to work together in areas like ICT, infrastructure and manufacturing. The decision was taken during the meeting of Indias Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Italian Minister for Economic Development Paolo Romani, in Rome. The JBC will be managed by FICCI from the

Discrete Devices; and Memories, Film & Hybrid Circuits. The one Semiconductor sub-sector showing growth in 2010 was Materials and Processes. The innovators with the most patent activity in this subsector were Korean manufacturers Samsung and Hynix Semiconductor, followed by Japan's Toshiba. Computers & Peripherals tops the list of the most innovative technology areas with the highest volume of patent activity for second consecutive year, despite an overall decline from 2009: The Computers & Peripherals technology area published 212,622 unique inventions in 2010, earning it the top slot among the 12 areas in the analysis. However, this is a 6% decline from the level seen in 2009. Muslim demographic peak over next 20 years The world's Muslim population will grow at double the rate of non-Muslims over the next 20 years, according to a broad new demographic analysis that is likely to spark controversy in the West. The Future of the Global Muslim Population may be the first to attempt to map the Muslim population of most of the world's countries. The analysis was conducted by two giant non-profit groups interested in religion: the Pew Research Center and the John Templeton Foundation. This is part of a larger project to map the population of all the world's religions. Among its other projections are: Muslim populations in some parts of Europe will reach the double digits, with France and Belgium at 10.3 percent by 2030. Pakistan will overtake Indonesia as the world's most populous Muslim nation. Muslim population growth and fertility

Indian side and by CONFINDUSTRIA from the Italian side. It will meet once a year, coinciding with the bilateral ministerial meeting. The two ministers also discussed the importance of SMEs and it was agreed that soon industry chambers of both the countries would organise workshops and seminars. Seeking closer cooperation in infrastructure sector, Sharma informed Romani that India would soon come out with a manufacturing policy aimed at increasing the contribution of manufacturing to 24 per cent of the GDP, from 16 per cent now. Romani assured India that Italian entrepreneurs would take huge advantage of the investment opportunities in India. USA lifts export curbs on DRDO, ISRO The US has removed nine Indian space and defence related companies, including those from ISRO and DRDO, from its export control Entity List in an attempt to expand high technology trade and strategic cooperation with India. The US decision meets a long pending Indian demand and is the first step to implement the export control policy initiative announced by US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on November 8, 2010, after their summit talks in New Delhi. The nine entities are Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL), four remaining subsidiaries of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in the US sanction list and another four of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The DRDO subsidiaries are Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), Defence Research and

rates will continue to decline. India will remain home to the world's third largest Muslim population. The number of US Muslims will more than double, from 2.6 million in 2010 to 6.2 million in 2030. The analysis could fuel critics of Islam in Europe and the United States, who argue that the religion is at odds with Western values and worry that the number of Muslim extremists is on the rise. Or it could calm those fears by providing evidence that Muslim populations in the West will remain relatively tiny. The studywhich uses a dizzying mix of public and private data sourcesmakes it clear that even rapid growth among Muslims will not produce dramatic demographic shifts in most parts of the world. Eighty-two percent of the world's Muslims live in Asia, West Asia and North Africa, and that number is projected to be around 79 percent in 2030. According to the study's projections, Muslims make up 23.4 percent of the world's population of 6.9 billion; in 2030, that percentage will be 26.4. Europe is home to 2.7 percent of the world's Muslims, a percentage that is predicted to remain stable.

Business News
The NASDAQ-listed iGate has sealed the deal to buy Patni Computers, Indias seventh largest IT services firm, to create a $1-billion entity Starbucks, the worlds largest coffee retailer, has entered into an agreement

Development Lab (DRDL), Missile Research and Development Complex and Solid State Physics Laboratory Liquid Propulsion Systems Center, Solid Propellant Space Booster Plant (SPROB), Sriharikota Space Center (SHAR), and Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC) are the four ISRO subsidiaries. Removal from the Entity List eliminates a licence requirement specific to the companies, and results in the companies off the list being treated the same way as any other destination in India for export licensing purposes. These changes reaffirm the US commitment to work with India on our mutual goal of strengthening the global non-proliferation framework, said US Under-Secretary of Commerce Eric L. Hirschhorn. Justice Patil report on 2G Scam The one-man committee headed by retired Supreme Court judge Justice Shivraj V. Patil, who was appointed by the Telecom Ministry to look into the lapses in the allocation of the 2G Spectrum, has identified the guilty in the report which was submitted on January 31, 2011. After former Telecom Minister A. Raja resigned, the panel was set up on December 13 2010 to look into the Spectrum allocation procedures and policies from 2001 to 2009. The period also included the issuing of telecom licences during the NDA regime. During 2001-04, the BJP-led NDA Government was at the Centre and Raja had been saying that he only followed the policies of his predecessors. The panel has nailed A. Raja for procedural lapses. The report also named seven other officials in the Department of Telecom

with Tata Coffee for a strategic alliance in India. Under the non-binding MoU between the two, Starbucks will set up stores in the Tata groups retail outlets and hotels and source roast coffee beans from Tata Coffees Kodagu facility. Infrastructure, Leasing & Finance Services (IL&FS) will be the new promoter of Maytas Properties, the cashstrapped company owned by family members of disgraced Satyam founder Ramalinga Raju. Wipro Chairman Azim Premji has done away with the dual helmsman-ship model and appointed T.K. Kurien as Wipros new CEO. Google Inc co-founder Larry Page has taken over as CEO from Eric Schmidt. Pages assumption of day-to-day operations marks a return to Googles technological roots, 13 years after he and fellow Stanford University student Sergy Brin founded what has become the worlds number one internet search engine. Mahindra & Mahindra, the market leader in utility vehicles, has launched a pick-up vehicle based on the Xylo model. The vehicle has been named Genio. The Aditya Birla group has bought the $1-billion revenue earning US firm Colombian Chemicals for $875 million, catapulting the group to become the world leader in carbon black, from its number four position that it held before the acquisition. Opening another chapter in aviation history, G.R. Gopinath, known as the pioneer of low-cost carriers in India, has

(DoT), including former DoT Secretary Siddharth Behura and R.K. Chandolia, a former lieutenant of Raja. Justice Patil clarified that procedural lapses of different types were found in different periods and that referred to not just the particular year in question but also before that. He said that procedural shortcomings were found in applications of telecom operators and that there were many shortcomings on the part of DoT officials in implementing procedures. The panel was also asked to examine if procedures were followed consistently and if these were followed in fair and transparent manner and report any deviation, shortcomings and lapses. Countrys top audit body Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had earlier alleged that several operators had suppressed information while applying in 2007 to bag licences and the 2G Spectrum from A Raja. Justice Patil said that in the report he had suggested remedial measure with regard to the licensing policies and procedures. Concerning the guilty identified in the report, Patil said he could not produce supporting documents as they were with the CBI. Prime Minister draws up 20-point agenda on Corruption Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has outlined a comprehensive agenda to make transparency and ethics the core focus of governance at all levels. A 20-point agenda to bring about procedural improvements to achieve this goal is on the anvil. Adoption of Finlands procedural model is also under consideration.

had his Deccan Charters Ltd join hands with Taj Air, the executive charter service of Indian Hotels Company Ltd and with Business Jets India Pvt Ltd, to launch Powerfly, an alliance in the air charter industry. Maruti Suzuki India Ltd has entered into luxury sedan segment with launch of its car Kizashi. ICICI Bank has entered into an agreement with Indian Army for extending modern banking products to the personnel in uniform.

Critical steps under active consideration by the government include instructions to clearly mention on files involving clearances by them whether the decision was a government one (taken by the Cabinet) or one by the official himself. Other steps being planned are: Proper scrutiny of officials before appointments, especially to critical posts, posting on websites the names of officials involved in corruption cases and permission to prosecute identified cases.

Per capita income of Indians grew by 14.5 per cent to Rs 46,492 in 2009-10, from Rs 40,605 in 2008-09. The new per capita income figure estimates on current market prices is over Rs 2,000 more than the previous estimate of Rs 44,345 calculated by the Central Statistical Organisation. Per capita income means earnings of each Indian if the national income is evenly divided among the country's population at 117 crore (1.17 billion). Per capita income (at 2004-05 prices) stood at Rs 33,731 in FY10 against Rs 31,801 in the previous year. The size of the economy at current prices rose to Rs 61,33,230 crore (Rs 61,332.30 billion) in 2009-10, up 16.1 per cent over Rs 52,82,086 crore (Rs 52,820.86 billion) in FY'09. Based on 2004-05 prices, the Indian economy expanded by 8 per cent during the fiscal ended March 2010. This is higher than 6.8 per cent growth in fiscal 2008-09. The gross domestic product (GDP), or gross domestic income (GDI), is the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period of time. The idea of gross domestic product came into existence after the Great Depression and World War II. GDP was first developed by Simon Kuznets for a United States Congress report in 1934. His idea was to calculate all economic production by individuals, companies and the government in a single measure. According to him, GDP would rise in good times and fall during any crisis. In 1944, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund accepted GDP as a method to assess a nation's economy. The 98th Indian Science Congress was held at SRM University near Chennai. While 2010 was observed as the International Year of Biodiversity, from 2011 starts the Decade of Biodiversity. During the decade, a UN body, much like the IPCC for Climate Change, is expected to push for action on biodiversity front. The Qingdao Haiwan Bridge in China is the worlds longest sea bridge. It is 42.48 km long, 8.04 km further than the distance between Dover and Calais, as also longer than a marathon. The bridge links the main urban area of Qingdao city in east Chinas Shandong province with

Huangdao district. January 14, 2011 marked the 250th anniversary of the third battle of Panipat. The defeat of the Marathas by the army of Ahmad Shah Abdali prepared the ground for the gradual take-over of India by the East India company. Army Day is observed in India on January 15. The World Bank has offered to India a loan of $1.5 billion (about Rs 6,800 crore) for building 24,000km of all-weather roads in the rural seven economically poor and hilly areas States Himachal Pradesh, Uttarkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Punjab and any other State which may join at alter date over the next five-year period. On January 17, 2011, Indian Navy commissioned a squadron of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), named INAS 343, at Porbander, Gujarat, to enhance coastal surveillance capabilities. The UAVs have been nick-named Frontier Formidables. The worlds highest restaurant is located on the 122nd floor of the worlds tallest building Burj Khalifa. It is called At.mosphere. The restaurant is 92 meter taller than the worlds second highest eatery, the revolving 360 Restaurant in Torontos CN Tower. Rural roads account for about 61% of Indias road length. National Highways comprise less than 2 per cent of the road network, but carry 40 per cent of road-based traffic. RBI has decided to circulate Rs 5 coins to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Dr Rajendra Prasad, Indias first President. Objective Anti-Leprosy Day is observed in India on January 30.