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Current affairs NATIONAL AFFAIRS

RBI

unveils

draft

Basel

III

norms

In order to strengthen risk management mechanism, the Reserve Bank has issued draft guideline envisaging that the equity capital of a bank should not be less than 5.5% of risk-weighted loans.

Besides, it also recommends Tier 1 capital comprising pure equity and statutory and capital reserves must be at least 7% and total capital must be at least 9% of RWAs. RBI has also suggested setting up of the capital conservation buffer in the form of Common Equity of 2.5% of RWAs. It is proposed that the implementation period of minimum capital requirements and deductions from Common Equity will begin from January 1, 2013 and be fully implemented as on March 31, 2017.

However, the capital conservation buffer requirement is proposed to be implemented between March 31,2014 and March 31,2017. The instruments which no longer qualify as regulatory capital instruments will be phased out during the period beginning from January 1, 2013 to March 31, 2022. The central bank has invited comments and feedback on the draft guidelines, including implementation schedule by February 15, 2012.

Though the Indian banking sector was comfortably placed to implement Basel III regulations, some banks might need additional capital.

Currently, RBI follows Basel II norms under which Tier I component is not only pure equity capital but Perpetual Non-cumulative Preference Shares (PNCPS), Innovative Perpetual Debt Instruments and capital reserves. Banks are required to maintain a minimum Capital to Risk weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR) of 9% within which Tier 1 capital should be at least 6% of risk weighted assets.

Under the existing capital adequacy guidelines based on Basel II framework, total regulatory capital is comprised of Tier 1 capital (core capital) and Tier 2 capital (supplementary capital).

Lokpal

Bill

passed

by

Lok

Sabha;

Rajya

Sabha

leaves

it

in

limbo

Eleven hours after an often stormy debate, the Lok Sabha passed the Lokpal & Lokayukta Bill, 2011 on December 27, 2011, after incorporating several amendments. But the UPA suffered a setback, and a major embarassment, when the government failed to muster two-thirds majority of the Members present and voting in the House, which turned down the proposal to confer Constitutional status to the Lokpal.

The proposal to have the Lokpal as a Constitutional body, like the Election Commission or the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG), was first mooted by Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

There was considerable confusion as the House dealt with the amendments clause by clause and as each amendment was put to vote. The most important of them related to the government ceding ground to the opposition, and some of its allies, and providing for specific approval by State governments before notification of the Lokayukta.

The government also agreed to remove the six-month ceiling on investigation and the provision which required the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha to submit reports to the Lokpal. By yet another amendment, it was resolved to keep the defence forces out of the purview of the Lokpal.

However, several amendments moved by the Opposition, including one to bring corporate bodies under the purview of the Lokpal, were rejected.

The Opposition parties, and also some UPA constituents, criticised the provision for reservation in the Lokpal and called upon the government to ensure that the Bill does not force the States to adopt and enforce a Lokayukta Act on the lines of the Lokpal Bill. The government argued that the States had the option of improving upon the Act and that the Central Act would just be an enabling Act.

On December 29, however, the Parliament lost the historic opportunity to enact the Lok Pal law when an embarrassed government was forced to beat a hasty retreat in the Rajya Sabha, lacking the numbers to push through the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill. A total of 185 amendments were moved by different parties and what weighed in the minds of UPA managers was that if the amendments were carried the legislation then would have to go back to the Lok Sabha. If the Lower House was to reject the amendments, it would have necessitated a joint session of the Parliament. Whistleblowers Protection Bill

On December 27, 2011, Lok Sabha passed the Whistleblowers Protection Bill which seeks to provide for setting up a regular mechanism to encourage persons to disclose information on corruption or wilful misuse of power by public servants, including ministers.

The Bill also seeks to provide adequate protection to persons reporting corruption or wilful misuse of discretion that causes demonstrable loss to the government or commission of a criminal offence by a public servant. While the measure sets out the procedure to inquire into the disclosures and provides adequate safeguards against victimisation of whistleblowers, it also seeks to provide punishment for false or frivolous complaints.

A major amendment cleared by the Union Cabinet is the inclusion of ministers, MPs, defence services, intelligence agencies, bank officials and PSUs under the ambit of the Bill. The Special Protection Group (SPG) has been kept out of the ambit of the Bill.

The definition of disclosure has also been amended to include wilful misuse of power or wilful misuse of discretion that leads to demonstrable loss to the government or demonstrable gain to the public servant or any third party.

The definition of competent authority to which a complaint can be made has also been expanded. For complaint against a Union Minister, the competent authority is the Prime Minister and for MPs, its the LS Speaker.

Citizens

Charter

Bill

The Citizens Charter Bill, called the Right of Citizens for Time-bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 20, 2011.

It envisages the Right to Service under which every individual citizen shall have the right to time-bound delivery of goods and provision of services and redress of grievances. It also provides for publication of the Citizens Charter and Grievances Redressal Officer by Public Authorities whereby: Every public authority shall publish, within six months of the commencement of this Act, a Citizens Charter specifying therein all the category of goods supplied and services rendered by it, the time within which such goods shall be supplied or services rendered. The details of all the goods supplied and services rendered by the public authority and the name of person or agency through which such goods are supplied or services rendered and timings during which such goods are supplied or services rendered. The conditions under which a person becomes entitled to goods or services and the class of persons who are entitled to receive such goods and avail services. The complaints redress mechanism, including the time within which the complaint should be disposed of and the officer of the public authority to whom such complaint may be made. The names and addresses of individuals responsible for the delivery of goods or rendering of services.

Union

Cabinet

clears

Food

Bill

Brushing aside fears of food scarcity and inflation, the Union Cabinet, on December 18, 2011, cleared the much-awaited National Food Security Bill, taking the Manmohan Singh government a step closer to fulfilling the promise made to the Aam Admi in the Congress manifesto for the 2009 Lok Sabha election.

Under the proposed landmark law, the government would provide rice at Rs 3 per kg and wheat at Rs 2 per kg to all people living below the poverty line (BPL) across the country.

The law is aimed at providing access to food to 75 per cent of the rural population and 50 per cent of the urban households by subsidising foodgrains sold to them.

Under the proposal, coarse grains would be made available to them at Re 1 per kg. In all, 63.5 per cent of the countrys population would be legally entitled to subsidised foodgrains under the scheme.

The subsidy would involve Rs 3.5 lakh croreRs 1.1 lakh crore for the agriculture sector and Rs 95,000 crore for the poor people covered under the scheme.

About 2.25 crore pregnant women and lactating mothers are also expected to benefit from the legislation that proposes to give Rs 1,000 per month for six months as maternity benefit. Maternity benefits that are available only in 52 districts will be extended across the country.

Aiming to empower women, the Bill also proposes that the ration card will be issued to the eldest female member of the family.

There is a provision of meals to special group such as destitute, homeless, person living in starvation and disaster affected persons.

The proposed Bill also holds great promises for children. Children in the lower and upper primary classes would be entitled to mid-day meals as per the prescribed nutritional norms.

Fears have been expressed that the new Bill, as and when enacted, will fuel both shortages and inflation. The fears are not misplaced because in August 2011, the foodgrain stock with the government was 61.27 million tonnes, short of what will be required to implement the scheme. The annual procurement of foodgrains by the government stands at 54 million tonnes and will have to be raised to at least 62 million tonnes, if the scheme is to be implemented.

The scheme was also opposed by several States, which apprehend food scarcity and higher food

inflation as and when the Bill becomes the law. They had also objected to the discrepancy between the proposed central scheme and the existing Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAA) under which the poor are entitled to 35 kg rice at Rs 2 per kg. The Centre sought to go round the issue by raising the entitlement of everyone to 35 kg under the new, legal entitlement. Indias infant mortality rate down

Child survival strategies are beginning to pay dividends with India, for the first time ever, reporting a consecutive drop of three points in Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) for the second year in a row.

The countrys latest IMR is 47 as against 50 in 2009, indicating a reduced mortality of three infants per 1000 live births. If this rate of drop is sustained, India could achieve the target of bringing down infant deaths to 30 by 2015, as planned.

The highlights of 2010 Sample Registration System (SRS) data, released by the Registrar General of India, is: greater reduction in rural IMR (four points) as against urban IMR (3 points); massive improvements in problem States, with Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh leading the national IMR declines by reporting the highest reduction of 5 points each in IMR in the respective States.

Overall, rural IMR came down from 55 to 51 while urban IMR dropped from 34 to 31, nationally.

The heartening news is that almost all States managed to report IMR reductions, particularly in rural IMR, indicating better delivery of child related health services in villages.

Nine States reported a 4 point drop in IMR. These include Bihar, Odisha, Punjab, Tripura, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Meghalaya and Sikkim.

Andhra, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Delhi, Nagaland, Uttrakhand and Chandigarh saw a decline of 3 points in IMR between 2009 and 2010.

Jharkhand, UP, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur and Andaman and Nicobar Islands fared the worst nationally, with only 2 point drop in infant death rates. In Lakshadweep and Puducherry the IMR remained unchanged.

Visit

of

Prime

Minister

of

Japan

Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshihiko Noda visited India on December 28, 2011. He held wideranging talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on bilateral issues as well as international developments.

In a significant departure from its long-standing policy, Japan today said it was not insisting on India signing the CTBT as a prerequisite for nuclear cooperation between the two countries and indicated it was open to hold talks with New Delhi on exporting military technology to India.

The prospects of reviving civil nuclear cooperation figured prominently in talks between the two PMs.

A joint communiqu issued at the end of talks said the two PMs decided to enhance the earlier bilateral currency swap arrangement from $ 3 to 15 billion. They hoped that this enhancement would further strengthen financial cooperation, contribute to ensuring financial market stability and further develop growing economic and trade ties between the two countries.

Manmohan Singh said the two countries have also begun negotiations on a social security agreement, and would hold the first ministerial level economic dialogue in 2012.

India and Japan have already held three round of civil nuclear negotiations, but the talks stalled after the March 11, 2011, Fukushima radiation disaster, fuelling security concerns in that country. Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs visit to Russia

India and Russia signed a slew of agreements in the fields of military, energy and trade during

Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs three-day visit to Moscow from December 15, 2011.

His visit came in the midst of a political unrest in Russia over allegations of rigging in the recent Parliamentary elections. The Russian leadership was keen to go ahead with the visit for the annual India-Russia Summit lest its postponement sends wrong signals to the world.

New Delhi and Moscow discussed ongoing defence projects such as the leasing of the Russia nuclear-powered submarine to Indian Navy for 10 years beginning 2012, joint development of the fifth-generation fighter aircraft and multi-role transport aircraft, and refit of the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier that is to be delivered to Indian Navy in December 2012.

The two countries also finalised means to achieve the target of $20 billion annual bilateral trade, which now hovers at $10 billion, before 2015.

UPA

government

approves

4.5%

minorities

quota

within

OBC

pie

With an eye on the coming Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and three other States, the UPA regime, on December 22, 2011, approved 4.5 per cent reservation for the minorities within the 27 per cent quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in government jobs and educational institutions.

The move is expected to benefit the students belonging to the minority communities in getting admission in top institutions, like the IITs, IIMs and AIIMS.

The castes/communities of the minorities, which are included in the central list of OBCs notified State-wise from time to time by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment would be covered under this sub-quota. The suggestions for reservation for the minorities had been made by the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities.

CURRENT GENERAL KNOWLEDGE: DECEMBER 2011 SPORTS NEWS IN BRIEF: DECEMBER 2011 ATHLETICS Golden girls of India get one-year ban On December 23, 2011, the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) handed over a one year ban on Ashwani Akkunji, Jauna Murmu, Mandeep Kaur, Priyanka Panwar, Sini Jose and Tina Mary Thomas for testing positive for banned drugs. The chief culprit, according to the findings, is Yuri Ogorodnik, the SAI-appointed Ukranian coach. He is said to have administered stimulant ginsing to the athletes, which was found to be contaminated with banned substances. The ban rules out the participation of the athletes in the 2012 Olympics BADMINTON World Super Series Finals Wang Yihan won the title after defeating Saina Nahiwal of India. The tournament was held in Liuzhou, China. CRICKET Australia-India Test Series Australia crushed India by 122 runs in the first Test, played at Melbourne. India, chasing a historically challenging 292 runs for victory, were bowled out for 169 runs. South Africa-Sri Lanka Test Series Sri Lanka took the final three wickets in four balls to complete a historic 208run win over South Africa in the second Test played at Durban. It was Sri Lankas first win in South Africa on four Test tours and their first win of the previously bleak 2011. Earlier, South Africa had won the first Test, played at Centurion, by an innings and 81 runs. South African bowler Vernon Philander finished with 10 wickets in only his third Test. Australia-New Zealand Test Series Doug Bracewell bowled New Zealand to a sensational seven-run victory over Australia in the second Test played at Hobart. This was the first win for the Kiwis against Australia since 1993 and the first win on Australian soil since 1985. The two-Test series ended in a 1-1 draw. Australia had won the first Test at Melbourne by nine wickets.

India-West Indies ODI Series India beat West Indies by 34 runs in the fifth and final ODI in Chennai to clinch the series 4-1. Earlier, in the fourth ODI, played in Indore, Virendar Sehwag created history by scoring the highest-ever ODI score of 219, helping India win the match by 153 runs. Sehwag also became the worlds second cricketer to score a double century in ODIs after Sachin Tendulkar, who had scored an unbeaten 200 against South Africa in Gwalior in 2010. Sehwag is now Indias highest individual scorer in both Tests (319) and ODIs. The third ODI at Ahmedabad was won by West Indies by 16 runs FOOTBALL SAFF Championship India made a dramatic turnaround in the second half to quell the challenge of Afghanistan by four goals to nil to retain the SAFF Championship title. GOLF Womens Indian Open Swede Caroline Hedwall fired a final round 69 to triumph at the Hero Womens Indian Open Golf championship. HOCKEY Champions Trophy Reigning world champions Australia maintained its stranglehold on the Champions trophy with a 1-0 win over Spain, claiming a record fourth straight title. This was their 12th Champions trophy title overall. LUGE Shiva wins Asia Cup title Shiva Keshavan has won the luge title in the Asia Cup with a new continental speed record. The 30-year-old Manali (Himachal Pradesh) resident is the first non-Japanese to win this title. The Championship was held at Nagano, Japan. TENNIS Davis Cup Rafal Nadal mounted a thrilling comeback from a set down to beat Argentinas Jaun Martin Del Patro and clinch for Spain its fifth Davis Cup title. ABBREVIATIONS SUUTI: Specified Undertaking of the Unit Trust of India. DEFENCE Russia hands over N-submarine to India

Russia has handed over the much-awaited nuclear-powered attack submarine Nerpa to India on a 10-year lease, boosting the Indian Navy's firepower. The submarine, capable of remaining underwater for months, will be rechristened as INS Chakra and it would be for the first time in more than two decades that the Indian navy would have a nuclear attack submarine. India has now become only the sixth operator of nuclear submarines in the world. PERSONS Anand, Dev Dev Anand, the leading actor, producer and director of Indian film industry, died on December 4, 2011 while on a visit to London. He was 88. He was born on September 26, 1923 as Dharam Dev Pishorimal Anand in Gurdaspur district of Punjab. He completed his English literature graduation from Government College Lahore. In 1946 he debuted as an actor in Hum Ek Hain. His first big break wasZiddi in 1948. His first colour film Guide is still hailed as a cinematic masterpiece. Dev Anand made his directorial debut in 1970 with Prem Pujari. In 1971, he directed and acted in the cult film Hare Rama Hare Krishna. RESEARCH Prosthetic eye may help blind see Scientists have developed a new prosthetic device that sends images directly to the brain, a technology they say could be used to help blind humans in less than a decade. The device, which was developed by a team at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University and tested on animals, takes information from the outside world and decodes it into a pattern that the brain can read as an image. Neuroscientist Sheila Nirenberg , who led the research, explained that the key was converting the data into patterns of electrical activity for the brain to process. Patterns of pulses coming out of the eye tell the brain what is seen. With the blind person, the brain no longer gets the necessary visual information from the eye. Her prosthetic, with its encoder and transducer, can send out signals that the brain

can understand. Prof Nirenberg explained that if a person has a retinal disease, theres very little that can be done for them, with drug treatments only effective on a small number of sufferers. There are prosthetic devices, but they only allow patients to see simple images, mainly just outlines. But the new device is something that could make a difference. SPACE RESEARCH NASA discovers first Earth-sized planets beyond Solar system Astronomers have found a pair of Earth-sized planets orbiting a star similar to the sun, though neither is believed to be suitable for life, scientists on NASAs Kepler telescope team said. The discovery follows confirmation of a super-Earth sized planet, called Kepler22b, which circles the right distance from its parent star for liquid water to exist on its surface. The newly discovered planets, called Kepler-20e and 20f, have at least three gasgiant siblings, one of the larger planetary systems found to date. But the family is nothing like our solar system, where rocky worlds like Venus, Earth and Mars are grouped together closer in toward the sun while gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn are segregated in the outer regions. The two Earth-like and three Neptune-sized planets in the Kepler-20 family are interspersed and all orbit closer to the parent star than our solar systems innermost planet, Mercury. Kepler-20e and 20f, which are believed to be too hot for liquid water, probably are not habitable, at least not today. The system is located about 1,000 light-years away in the constellation Lyra. Twin NASA spacecraft enter moon orbit Nearly three months after they were launched, the twin solar-powered NASA spacecraft entered Moon's orbit on December 31, 2011, in a mission designed to map the interior of the Earth's satellite. The washing-machine-sized Grail spacecraft short for Gravity Recovery and

Interior Laboratorylaunched from the Florida coast in September 2011, will map the Moons interior 100 to 1000 times more accurately than any past lunar mission. The precise lunar gravity measurements will help scientists understand better how the Moon evolved over the past 4 billion years. The findings also should help identify the composition of the Moon's core: whether it's made of solid iron or possibly titanium oxide. Another puzzle that Grail may help solve is whether Earth once had a smaller second moon. Astronomers have speculated that some of the landmarks on the Moons surface are a result of a collision with a second, smaller moon. The spacecraft will spend the next two months flying in formation and chasing one another around the Moon until they are about 35 miles above the surface with an average separation of 124 miles. Data collection will begin in March. Past missions have tried to map lunar gravity with mixed success. Grail is the first mission dedicated to this goal. As the probes circle the moon, regional changes in the lunar gravity field will cause them to speed up or slow down. This in turn will change the distance between them. Radio signals transmitted by the spacecraft will measure the slight distance gaps, allowing researchers to map the underlying gravity field. Using the gravity information, scientists can deduce whats below or at the lunar surface such as mountains and craters and may help explain why the far side of the Moon is more rugged than the side that faces Earth.

SPORTS NEWS IN BRIEF: DECEMBER 2011


ATHLETICS Golden girls of India get one-year ban On December 23, 2011, the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) handed over a one year ban on Ashwani Akkunji, Jauna Murmu, Mandeep Kaur, Priyanka Panwar, Sini Jose and Tina Mary Thomas for testing positive for banned drugs. The chief culprit, according to the findings, is Yuri Ogorodnik, the SAI-appointed Ukranian coach. He is said to have administered stimulant ginsing to the athletes, which was found to be contaminated with banned substances. The ban rules out the participation of the athletes in the 2012 Olympics BADMINTON

World Super Series Finals Wang Yihan won the title after defeating Saina Nahiwal of India. The tournament was held in Liuzhou, China. CRICKET Australia-India Test Series Australia crushed India by 122 runs in the first Test, played at Melbourne. India, chasing a historically challenging 292 runs for victory, were bowled out for 169 runs. South Africa-Sri Lanka Test Series Sri Lanka took the final three wickets in four balls to complete a historic 208run win over South Africa in the second Test played at Durban. It was Sri Lankas first win in South Africa on four Test tours and their first win of the previously bleak 2011. Earlier, South Africa had won the first Test, played at Centurion, by an innings and 81 runs. South African bowler Vernon Philander finished with 10 wickets in only his third Test. Australia-New Zealand Test Series Doug Bracewell bowled New Zealand to a sensational seven-run victory over Australia in the second Test played at Hobart. This was the first win for the Kiwis against Australia since 1993 and the first win on Australian soil since 1985. The two-Test series ended in a 1-1 draw. Australia had won the first Test at Melbourne by nine wickets. India-West Indies ODI Series India beat West Indies by 34 runs in the fifth and final ODI in Chennai to clinch the series 4-1. Earlier, in the fourth ODI, played in Indore, Virendar Sehwag created history by scoring the highest-ever ODI score of 219, helping India win the match by 153 runs. Sehwag also became the worlds second cricketer to score a double century in ODIs after Sachin Tendulkar, who had scored an unbeaten 200 against South Africa in Gwalior in 2010. Sehwag is now Indias highest individual scorer in both Tests (319) and ODIs. The third ODI at Ahmedabad was won by West Indies by 16 runs FOOTBALL SAFF Championship India made a dramatic turnaround in the second half to quell the challenge of Afghanistan by four goals to nil to retain the SAFF Championship title.

GOLF Womens Indian Open Swede Caroline Hedwall fired a final round 69 to triumph at the Hero Womens Indian Open Golf championship. HOCKEY Champions Trophy Reigning world champions Australia maintained its stranglehold on the Champions trophy with a 1-0 win over Spain, claiming a record fourth straight title. This was their 12th Champions trophy title overall. LUGE Shiva wins Asia Cup title Shiva Keshavan has won the luge title in the Asia Cup with a new continental speed record. The 30-year-old Manali (Himachal Pradesh) resident is the first non-Japanese to win this title. The Championship was held at Nagano, Japan. TENNIS Davis Cup Rafal Nadal mounted a thrilling comeback from a set down to beat Argentinas Jaun Martin Del Patro and clinch for Spain its fifth Davis Cup title.

EVENTS; APPOINTMENTS; ETC.: DECEMBER 2011


APPOINTED; ELECTED; Etc. Kim Jong-un: He has been selected to head the ruling coterie of North Korea following the death of his father Kim Jong-il. Nancy Powell: She has been appointed as the US Ambassador to India. DISTINGUISHED VISITORS Yoshihiko Noda: Prime Minister of Japan. Badr Bin Saud Bin Harib: Minister of Defence Affairs of Oman. Stephen Smith: Defence Minister of Australia. DIED Kim Jong-il: Head of government of North Korea. Vaclav Havel: A dissident playwright who was jailed by Communists and then went on to lead the bloodless Velvet Revolution and become Czech President. He was 75. Mario Miranda: Renowned cartoonist, immortalised by his depiction of Goan life and his humorous takes on the world around him. He was 85. Dev Anand: Leading actor and director of Indian film industry. He was 88.

Satyadev Dubey: Noted theatre personality and playwright. He was 75. EVENTS DECEMBER 4The ruling Labour party of Australia approves plan to lift decade-old ban to export uranium to India. 5The Union government agrees to put on hold its decision to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-product retail trade, following protests by opposition parties. 9More than 89 people are killed in a hospital blaze in Kolkata. 18The last US soldiers roll-out of Iraq, across the border to neighbouring Kuwait. The exit marks the end of a bitterly divisive war that ravaged for nearly nine years and left Iraq shattered. The mission cost nearly 4,500 American soldiers and more than 1,00,000 Iraqi lives. 24The Election Commission announces the schedule for the Assembly polls in five StatesPunjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarkhand, Manipur and Goa. 27Lok Sabha passes historic Lokpal Bill by voice vote. 30Cyclone Thane batters Tamil Nadu coast. More than 33 people are killed MILESTONES Jyoti Amge: She has been declared as the worlds shortest living woman by the Guinness World Records. This Nagpur woman stands just 62.8 cm tall. Siddhartha Mukherjee: The Indian origin American physician who had won the Pulitzer prize for general notification, has added another literary accolade by winning the Guardian First Book Award for his biography of cancer, The Emperor of All Maladies.