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Current Affairs 2013- January International

The Fourth Meeting of ASEAN and India Tourism Minister was held in Vientiane, Lao PDR on 21 January, in conjunction with the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2013. The Meeting was jointly co-chaired by Union Tourism Minister K.Chiranjeevi and Prof. Dr. Bosengkham Vongdara, Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Lao PDR. Both the Ministers signed the Protocol to amend the Memorandum of Understanding between ASEAN and India on Strengthening Tourism Cooperation, which would further strengthen the tourism collaboration between ASEAN and Indian national tourism organisations. The main objective of this Protocol is to amend the MoU to protect and safeguard the rights and interests of the parties with respect to national security, national and public interest or public order, protection of intellectual property rights, confidentiality and secrecy of documents, information and data. Both the Ministers welcomed the adoption of the Vision Statement of the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit held on 20 December 2012 in New Delhi, India, particularly on enhancing the ASEAN Connectivity through supporting the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity. The Ministers also supported the close collaboration of ASEAN and India to enhance air, sea and land connectivity within ASEAN and between ASEAN and India through ASEAN-India connectivity project. In further promoting tourism exchange between ASEAN and India, the Ministers agreed to launch the ASEAN-India tourism website (www.indiaasean.org) as a platform to jointly promote tourism destinations, sharing basic information about ASEAN Member States and India and a visitor guide. The Russian Navy on 20 January, has begun its biggest war games in the high seas in decades that will include manoeuvres off the shores of Syria. Officials say, more than two dozen ships drawn from all four fleets, as well as long-range warplanes, will conduct nine-day exercises in the Mediterranean and Black seas. It is the largest naval manoeuvres since the collapse of the Soviet Union.The purpose is to improve coordination among different naval groups during missions in far-away sea zones.Experts suggested the exercises would serve to project Russias naval power to a highly explosive region and render moral support for the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.Russia leases a naval base at the Syrian port of Tartous. The naval manoeuvres will involve training for landing operations on the Syrian shore, informed sources told Russias Interfax news agency. Moscow may also be prepa ring for possible evacuation of thousands of Russian nationals from war-torn Syria, experts said. About 9,000 Russians are registered with the Russian Embassy in Damascus, but their total number may well exceed 30,000. Barack Obama was sworn in as the President of the country for the second term on 20 January 2013 . The oath-taking ceremony was held in the White House East Room by Justice John Roberts. Obama took oath as the President of the country on the family Bible. On 21 January 2013, Obama repeated oath-taking process on those Bibles which were used by Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln because 20 January 2013 was an official holiday in the US. Apart from Obama, in yet another ceremony, Vice-president Joseph Biden administered this oath-taking by associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Barack Obama became the first mixed-race president who was elected for second consecutive term. Also, Barack Obama is the third consecutive president to win two terms, after Bush and Clinton. This

had happened two centuries ago earlier when Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe were elected for two terms each between the time periods of 1801 to 1825. China, the world's second largest economy, grew 7.8% in 2012, a 13-year low, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced on 19 January. In 2010, economy grew 10.4%.NBS does not see any significant improvement this year when China's new leader, Xi Jinping, will take over as president as part of a once a decade political change. The earlier low point was in 1999 when GDP grew 7.6%. The numbers released by NBS is bound to cause pessimism among economists, who were expecting China to give a fillip to the world economy, which is facing a slowdown. But, China has fared much better than leading economies with its GDP reaching $8.28 trillion and cementing its position as the second biggest economy. The war crimes tribunal trying those accused of committing atrocities during the Bangladesh liberation war in 1971 pronounced its first verdict on 21 January, awarding death sentence to a former Jamaat-e-Islami leader, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. Maulana Azad, best known as Bachchu Razakar, was the leader of Islami Chhatra Sangha, the then student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami. He went into hiding a few hours before the war crimes tribunal issued an arrest warrant against him on April 3 last year. On November 4, Azad was indicted on eight charges based on eight incidents that left at least 12 people, mostly minority Hindus, dead and in which several Hindu women were raped, during the 1971 war. He was convicted on seven of the charges and sentenced to death by hanging. The much-awaited verdict by the International Crimes Tribunal-2 was passed by chairman of the three-member panel Justice Obaidul Hassan. The summary of the 112-page verdict was pronounced in a packed court amid tight security. Liberation War veterans have expressed satisfaction over the verdict and National Human Rights Commission Chairman Mizanur Rahman called for early execution of the order. Two American Senators on 25 January, have introduced a legislation in the name of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani peace activist who was shot by the Taliban, to provide scholarship to girls from Pakistan. Introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer and Mary Landrieu,the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act is designed to expand scholarship opportunities for disadvantaged young women in Pakistan. The bill would require a 30 per cent increase in the number of scholarships awarded under the programme for the next four years, and that these awarded solely to women. It would also expand the range of academic disciplines that recipients could pursue to improve graduates chances of obtaining meaningful employment. Russia will ban smoking in public places, hike tobacco taxes and restrict the sale of cigarettes from mid-2014 to cut the alarmingly high rate of deaths from smoking-related diseases. A law approved by the State Duma, Lower House, on 25 January, in the second of three readings calls for an immediate ban on all tobacco advertising and kiosk sales and the phasing out of smoking in all bars and restaurants, in medical, sports, educations and cultural institutions by January 1, 2015. It will be against the law to smoke at childrens playgrounds, in the halls and stairways of apartment houses.

Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley was on 24 January, sentenced to 35 years in prison by a U.S. court for masterminding the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks . The sentence will be followed by five years supervised release. While the U.S. government admitted the deplorable nature of his role in the 26/11 attacks, the prosecution had pressed for a sentence of 30-35 years under a plea bargain with Headley in return for his cooperation. The death penalty and extradition options were dropped. Pronouncing the sentence in Chicago , U.S. federal district court judge Harry Leinenweber said he had to consider that Headley had committed numerous crimes in the past, confessed to them and received lenient sentences. A British human rights lawyer is to lead a U.N. inquiry into the legality of American drone attacks and their impact on civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan and several other countries. Ben Emmerson, QC, who will head a team of international experts in his capacity as a U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-terrorism, said in London on 22 January that the exponential rise in the use of drone technology represented a real challenge to the framework of international law. The inquiry, which will examine 25 attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, the Palestinian territories and Somalia, follows anger over the loss of innocent civilian lives. Critics have called them extra-judicial killings. According to the London -based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, American drone attacks in Pakistan since 2004 had killed up to 3,461 people, including nearly 900 civilians. Mr. Emmerson said the U.N. had decided to investigate the complaints as a final resort because America and its allies who should have done so had not done it. Swiss to accept group requests for banking information

Switzerland will be able to provide banking and other details sought by other countries, including India, from next month about a 'group of persons' even without their individual identification, provided the information has not been requested as part of some 'fishing expedition'. A new Tax Administrative Assistance Act will come into force on February 1 and the Switzerlands Federal Council has passed a resolution to this effect. US to lift ban on women in front-line combat jobs

The US military will formally end its ban on women serving in front-line combat roles, officials said on 23 January, in a move that could open thousands of fighting jobs to female service members. The move knocks down another societal barrier, after the Pentagon scrapped its "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban in 2011 on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. The decision by outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to be formally announced on 24 January and comes after 11 years of non-stop war that has seen dozens of women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have represented around 2 percent of the casualties of those unpopular, costly wars, and some 12 percent of those deployed for the war effort, in which there were often no clearly defined front lines, and where deadly guerrilla tactics have included roadside bombs that kill and maim indiscriminately. "This is an historic step for equality and for recognizing the role women have, and will continue to play, in the defense of our nation," said Democratic Senator Patty Murray from Washington, the outgoing head of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

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Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem was confirmed by his euro zone peers as president of the Euro group on 21 January, a senior euro zone official said. The ministers, meeting in Brussels, appointed Dijsselbloem to take over from Luxembourg's Jean-Claude Juncker as the head of the influential group of policymakers, which comprises the 17 finance ministers from the euro zone countries. Dijsselbloem told his colleagues he wanted to move on from simply fighting crises and focus on longer-term policies to boost fledgling confidence and restore growth, and that he saw an enhanced role for his new task. U.S. Federal Court sentenced 35 years in Prison for David Coleman Headley

David Coleman Headley, the Pakistani-American and the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai Terror Attack 2008 was sentenced to 35 years in Prison on 24 January 2013 by a U.S. Court. The Court sentence would be followed by a five years of supervised release. The U.S. Federal District Court Judge Harry Leinenweber, who said that Headley was a terrorist, pronounced the sentence and Headley committed numerous crimes but his confessions turned up to be the reason that lenient sentences were issued for him. It was admitted by the U.S. Government that the nature of roleplayed by Headley in 26/11 attacks were deplorable and the prosecution pressed for a sentence of 30 to 35 years for him. The death penalty and extradition options were dropped because of the cooperation shown by him. Headley, under a deal with U.S. Government supplied major information about the terror suspects, which was really helpful in carrying on the investigation and bring defendants like Ilyas Kashmiri, Tahawwur Rana and other Pakistan-based operatives under criminal charges. Justice Leinenweber in third week of January 2013 sentenced 14 years in Jail to Tahawwur Rana, the Chicago based businessman and immigration consultant for his alleged involvement in supporting the terrorist group from Pakistan, which worked with the intelligence service of Pakistan and carried out the 26/11 Mumbai Attacks in 2008. He was also a convict for a Denmark strike in a Jyllands-Posten a Danish newspaper. Air India ranked world's third worst airline

Air India has been rated world's third least safe airline after China Airlines and TAM Airlines, according to a report from a website that monitors plane crashes around the world. India's national carrier is ranked 58th among 60 listed airlines by Hamburg based Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre (JACDEC). Finn air is now the world's safest airline, followed by Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific and Emirates, according to JACDEC Safety Ranking 2012. None of the top nine ranked airlines had lost an aircraft or had a fatality during the 30-year period, but many had also not been active for the full 30 years. Not one North American carrier made the top 10 list, but none of them made the bottom 10 either. The centre calculates its annual rankings based on aircraft loss accidents and serious incidents over the past 30 years. The resulting index relates that information to the revenue per passenger kilometer earned by the airline over the same period. There were 496 fatalities on commercial passenger flights last year, according to the report, two fewer than in 2011. The most significant involved a Dana Air flight which crashed in Nigeria, killing 169 people, and a Bhoja Air flight which crashed in Pakistan, killing 127. 30 planes were destroyed and there were 44 "hull losses", or aircraft write-offs, one less than the previous year.

Thousands of demonstrators demonstrated in Moscow in freezing temperatures on 14 January, against the law banning Americans from adopting Russian orphans . The ban, which President Putin signed on New Years Eve, was rushed through the Kremlin-controlled Parliament in retaliation for the so-called Magnitsky Act; a U.S. law that blacklists Russian officials accused of human rights violations. Up to 30,000 protesters marched through Moscow chanting shame on the scum and carrying the posters with the word shame splashed across the portraits of Mr. Putin and legislators who voted for the adoptions ban. Over the past two decades, more than 60,000 orphans have found new families in the U.S. Many of them are children with disabilities, because they rarely get adopted into Russian families. Pakistan on 15 January plunged into a fresh political crisis with the Supreme Court ordering the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf for allegedly receiving bribes in power projects . Already rocked by fiery cleric Tahirul Qadri's ongoing protest seeking dissolution of provincial and national assemblies, Pakistan appeared headed for uncertainty with the court setting a 24-hour deadline for authorities to implement its arrest orders that may cost a second Prime Minister to lose office in less than a year. 62-year-old Ashraf, who became Prime Minister after the exit of Yousuf Raza Gilani in June last year, has been accused of receiving kickbacks and commission in the Rental Power Projects (RPPs) case as federal minister for water and power . Gilani had to quit in the midst of a raging battle with the Supreme Court over his refusal to write to Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari there. After Ashraf assumed power, the government wrote to Swiss authorities. It is not clear as to what will be the political fallout of the Supreme Court's order against Ashraf as this is probably the first case of an incumbent Prime Minister being ordered to be arrested in a corruption case. It remains to be seen whether the ruling PPP will elect a new leader to replace Ashraf. In March last year, the Supreme Court had declared all contracts signed by the government for "rental power plants" as illegal and directed authorities to take legal action against those responsible for clearing the projects, including Ashraf. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the country's main anti-corruption agency, had so far refused to act on the court's directive. Ashraf was Power Minister when contracts were signed for several rental power projects, which were part of the PPP-led government's strategy to overcome a crippling energy shortage. Delegations from some 140 countries agreed on 20 January gathered in Geneva, to adopt a groundbreaking treaty limiting the use and emission of health-hazardous mercury, the U.N. said, though environmental activists lamented it did not go far enough. The worlds first legally binding treaty on mercury , reached after a week of thorny talks, will aim to reduce global emission levels of the toxic heavy metal, also known as quicksilver,which poses risks to human health and the environment. The treaty has been named the Minamata Convention on Mercury, in honour of the Japanese town where inhabitants for decades have suffered the consequences of serious mercury contamination. The text will be signed in Minamata in October and will take effect once it has been ratified by 50 countries something organisers expect will take three to four years. Mercury is found in products ranging from electrical switches, thermometers and light-bulbs, to amalgam dental fillings and even facial creams. Large amounts of the heavy metal are released from small-scale gold mining, coal-burning power plants, metal

smelters and cement production. Serious mercury poisoning affects the bodys immune system and development of the brain and nervous system, posing the greatest risk to foetuses and infants. The treaty sets a phase out date of 2020 for a long line of products, including mercury thermometers, blood pressure measuring devices, most batteries, and switches, some kinds of fluorescent lamps and soaps and cosmetics. It, however, provides exceptions for some large medical measuring devices where no mercury-free alternatives exist. Achim Steiner, U.N. Under-Secretary General and head of the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP), told reporters in Geneva that, the treaty is a dynamic instrument. The 2nd Health Ministers meeting of the BRICS count ries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) concluded in New Delhi, India on January 11, with a strong call for strengthened cooperation in the implementation of affordable, equitable and sustainable solutions for common health challenges. During his opening remarks, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Minister of Health and Family Welfare of India, highlighted the progress of the BRICS countries in the global AIDS response. In India, we have reduced new HIV infections by 57% in the last decade, which puts us on track to halt and reverse the spread of HIV. He was making reference to reaching one key HIV -related development goal by 2015.Addressing the participants, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe emphasized the unique role of the BRICS countries to draw on their positive experience with HIV to serve as an engine for innovation, research and development of health solutions for other developing countries. Several of the other BRICS Ministers highlighted their national commitments to HIV and the need to create a BRICS platform to enhance cooperation on global health, including HIV. The five BRICS countries represent 43% of the global population, giving them a unique and growing role in contributing to global health. The meeting adopted the Delhi Communiqu, which calls for the BRICS to renew efforts to face the continued challenge posed by HIV. The Delhi Communiqu reiterated the commitment of the BRICS countries to ensure that bilateral and regional trade agreements do not undermine TRIPS flexibilities so as to assure the availability of affordable generic antiretroviral drugs to developing countries.At the closing of the meeting, it was announced that the next BRICS Ministerial meeting will be hosted by South Africa in January 2014. India was ranked lowest among the worlds major economies for its preparedness to tackle global environmental risks and second-lowest for economic risks, while Switzerland is on the top, a report said on 8 January. As per the annual Global Risks Report published by Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF), the biggest global risk in terms of likelihood would be severe income disparity for the next 10 years and major systemic financial failure will be the top -most risk before the world in terms of impact. The report said that Switzerland is best placed among the worlds 10 major economies for adapting to or recovering from global economic and environmental risks. While India is ranked ninth in terms of its ability to tackle global economic risks and comes last at tenth position for environmental risks. Italy is ranked lowest at tenth position for economic risks. The rankings of the 10 major economic of the world - Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, Russia, the UK and the US - are based on Global Risks Perception Survey of over 1,000 experts from across the world. India fared relatively better at sixth position in terms of the governments risk management effectiveness, although it ranks second-lowest in terms of its global competitiveness index score. The survey on risk management

effectiveness found that Germany, Switzerland and the UK are perceived by business leaders to have highest riskmanagement effectiveness, while Russia was seen as having the least effective risk management. The US and China were ranked fourth and fifth respectively, while those positioned below India on this metric included Italy, Brazil, Japan and Russia. Surveys were conducted across a total of 139 countries. Taking into account the scores of all the countries, India was ranked 38th in terms of its risk management effectiveness and 32nd for its resilience to global risks. Singapore was ranked on top in both these surveys. Among the top-five global risks in terms of likelihood are: severe income disparity, chronic fiscal imbalances, rising greenhouse emissions, water supply crises and mismanagement of ageing population. On the other hand, water supply crises would be the second-biggest global risk in terms of impact, followed by chronic fiscal imbalances, food shortage crises and diffusion of weapons of mass destruction in the top five, the WEF report said. The Sultan of Malaysia's Selangor state on 9 January, has decreed that non-Muslims in the region have been barred from using the word "Allah," saying it is a sacred word exclusive to Muslims. Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah had expressed shock and regret over opposition DAP party's Secretary General Lim Guan Eng's recent remarks urging the Malaysian Government to allow the word "Allah" to be used in the Malay version of the Bible.Sources said the Sultan had stated that stern action could be taken against anyone who questioned the 'fatwa' that was issued according to state laws. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that Sultan Sharafuddin had every right, as head of the State's Islamic affairs, to issue the decree. Barrack Obama, the US president signed into law the Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012 which extends life-time protection to the former American presidents as well as family which includes the children till 16 years of age. The new Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012 also restores the lifetime Secret Service protection of the former presidents who were not serving as the President before 1 January 1997, along with their spouses. Indian-origin politician Halimah Yacob (58) is set to become the first woman Speaker of Singapores Parliament replacing Michael Palmer, who was forced to quit over his extra-marital affair. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on 8 January, said he would nominate Ms. Halimah as the next Speaker when the House sits on January 14, 2014.Ms. Halimah, a former labour lawyer, is a Member of Parliament from the ruling Peoples Action Party (PAP) and has extensive experience in the labour movement, social work and pre-school education. Saudi King Abdullah appointed 30 women to the previously all-male consultative Shura Council in decrees published on 11 January, marking a historic first as he pushes reforms in the ultraconservative kingdom. The decrees, published by the official SPA news agency, give women a 20-per-cent quota in the Shura Council, a body appointed by the king to advise him on policy and legislation. King Abdullah took the decisions following consultations with religious leaders in the kingdom, where women are subjected to many restrictions and are not allowed to mix with men, according to the decrees published by the SPA. They stipulate that men and women will be segregated inside the council, with a special area designated for females who will enter through a separate door so as not to mix with their male colleagues. King Abdullah had been carefully treading towards change,

introducing municipal elections for the first time in Saudi Arabia in 2005 .In September 2011 he granted women the right to cast ballots and run as candidates in the next local vote, set for 2015. Obama nominates Hagel as Defence Secy, Brennan as CIA chief

Revamping his national security team, US President Barack Obama on 7 January chose former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as his next defence secretary and nominated his top counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan, who was involved in the planning of the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, as the next CIA director. If confirmed by the Senate, 66-year-old Hagel would replace, defence secretary, Leon Panetta. Brennan, 57, a former CIA analyst and CIA station head in Saudi Arabia before he joined the 2008 Obama Campaign and then his administration, would replace Gen (rtd) David Petraeus, who resigned last year citing extra-marital affairs. "To help meet the challenges of our time, I'm proud to announce my choice for two key members of my national security team, Chuck Hagel for secretary of defence and John Brennan for director of the Central Intelligence Agency," Obama said in an announcement made in the East Room of the White House. At least 61 people were crushed to death in a stampede outside a stadium in Ivory Coast's main city of Abidjan after a New Year's Eve fireworks display . The incident took place near Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium where a crowd had gathered to watch fireworks, emergency officials said. Fire Chief Issa Sacko said 61 people were now confirmed dead, with at least another 49 injured. President Alassane Ouattara, visiting the scene and later injured people at a local hospital, called the incident a national tragedy and said an investigation was under way to determine what happened. The incident was the worst of its kind in Abidjan since 2010, when a stampede at a stadium during a football match killed 18 people. The US Congress sent President Barack Obama legislation to stop a recession-threatening "fiscal cliff" of tax increases and spending cuts on 1 January night, hours before financial markets reopen after the New Year's holiday. The bill's passage on a 257-167 vote in the House of Representatives sealed a hard-won political triumph for the president less than two months after he secured re-election while calling for higher taxes on the wealthy. In a landmark ruling, a South Korean court, on 3 January, sentenced a 31-year-old pedophile to 15 years in jail and ordered the countrys first ever -chemical castration. The ruling is the first since the country passed a law in 2011 that allows hormonal treatment or chemical castration for convicted child molesters, who are at risk of repeating their crimes. The defendant, only known by his surname Pyo, was charged with having sex with five teenagers, whom he met through a smartphone chat service, six times between November 2011 and May 2012. Mr. Pyo then threatened to circulate the online video footage of them engaging in sexual acts and nude photos of the minors. He also raped them threatening with deadly weapons The court also ordered that Mr. Pyos information be made available to the public for 10 years and that he should wear an electronic monitoring anklet for 20 years after his release from prison. Mr. Pyo was also ordered to undergo 200 hours of therapy to treat his sexual impulses. South Korea was the first country in Asia to adopt this type of treatment, although Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Poland and the U.S. state of California have used it for years. The Seoul courts verdict came at time when India is debating

whether to introduce punishment like chemical castration to check crimes against women in the wake of the horrific gang-rape of a 23-year-old girl in Delhi, who died in Singapore last month. China has launched a postage stamp for the upcoming "Year of Snake" depicting a reptile that carries a bright pearl in its mouth in gratitude for the man who saved its life. The stamp is with a face value of 1.20 Yuan (19 cents). The snake is the sixth among the 12 Chinese zodiac signs. $100 M First Earthquake-Proof Hindu Temple of the World Opened Near Hollywood

One among the biggest Hindu temples in US, which is built at an enormous cost of 100 million dollar near Hollywood city, Los Angeles was opened on 3 January 2013. The temple became an attraction for its majesty as well as eco-friendly design ever since it was inaugurated on 23 December 2012. This is the 68th Swaminarayan temple built by Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) by making use of the 35000 hand-carved Italian Carrara marble pieces as well as Indian Pink Sandstone. The temple is also said to be the first earthquake-proof Hindu temple of the world and it is expected to standstill for 1000 years. Making use of the state-of-the-art technology for providing it protection from the earthquakes, the temple includes two huge domes, 122 pillars, five pinnacles, 129 archways and four balconies. The upper portion of the entire complex is earthquake-proof because it is segregated from base with line of 40 base-isolator units. There are 6600 hand-carved motifs which are a depiction of assortment of devotion, dedication and inspiration apart from historical figures that showcase Hinduism. The temple is located on 20acre site comprising of 91 foot pond that is lotus-shaped, gymnasium, classrooms as well as Cultural Centre. For generating electricity, the temple makes use of the solar power system. The temple in all is said to be an amalgamation of traditional stone art as well as architecture along with modern technology. US President clears $633 defence bill

US President Barack Obama has signed into law a whopping $633 billion defence bill that authorises spending on the war in Afghanistan and enhanced security for American missions worldwide. Obama in a signing statement said that he was doing so to ensure that the US would continue to have the strongest military in the world. The President, who is holidaying in Hawaii, said that he was clearing the bill even as he has strong reservations on several provisions of National Defence Authorisation Act 2013. The White House had earlier threatened to veto the bill. The bill provides the Department of Defence with a spending threshold of $633 billion for 2013, including $527.4 billion for the Pentagon budget and a $88.5 billion for overseas operations.

National
The Supreme Court on 21 January, banned tourists from taking the Andaman Nicobar Trunk Road that passes through the area where the Jarawas live. The road is used to reach the Limestone Cave. The court has already banned all commercial and tourism activities within a five-km radius of the Jarawa Tribal Reserve on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and H.L. Gokhale passed the order, taking on record the Andaman and Nicobar Administrations January 17 notification to comply with the court directives issued last year.

Except 30 villages notified in the schedule, the notification declares a buffer zone the area up to a five-km radius, adjacent and contiguous to the Jarawa Tribal Reserve Area ,starting from the Constance Bay in South Andaman to Lewis Inlet Bay in Middle Andaman. No person shall operate any commercial or tourist establishment directly or indirectly in the buffer zone. Furthermore, no one shall carry out any activity, which may be prejudicial to the safety, security and interests of the Jarawas in any of the settlement villages. The Bench directed that only government officials, persons residing in the reserve and vehicles carrying essential commodities for the Jarawas would be allowed on the Trunk Road. A special CBI court on 22 January, sentenced former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala and his son Ajay Chautala to ten years rigorous imprisonment for illegal selection of over 3,000 junior basic trained (JBT) primary school teachers in 1999-2000 by replacing the original selection lists compiled from 18 Haryana districts with fake ones. Special Judge Vinod Kumar sentenced eight others including Mr. Chautalas political advisor Sher Singh Badshami, his former OSD Vidya Dhar, and the former Haryana Director of Primary Education Sanjeev Kumar to ten years rigorous imprisonment. One person was sentenced to five years and 44 others were sentenced to four years in prison. The government on 24 January, said it will set up a committee to look into the allegations that US retail giant Walmart indulged in lobbying activities in India to gain entry in the country's market . Corporate Affairs Minister Sachin Pilot said the government will set up a committee to look into the matter. As per the proposal, the government will set up one-man commission to be headed by a retired High Court Chief Justice or a judge. The move comes over a month after the proceedings of Parliament during the Winter Session were paralysed over the allegations that the US retail giant indulged in lobbying here to gain entry into the Indian market. According to the proposal of the Corporate Affairs Ministry, the Commission, to be set up under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1951, will submit its report within three months of its constitution. The Terms of Reference include probe into "recent media reports regarding their lobbying activities" and "whether Wal-Mart undertook any activity in India in contravention of any Indian law". Under the Commission of Inquiry Act, it is obligatory on part of the government to table the probe report as well as the action report in Parliament. 24 January is celebrated as the National Girl Child Day every year by the Government of India with an objective to raise consciousness of Indian society towards the girl children. The Women and Child Development Ministry observed National Girl Child Day on 24 January 2013. 24 January is celebrated as the National Girl Child Day every year since 2008 by the Government of India. The primary objective of the National Girl Child Day is raising awareness and consciousness of the society towards the girl child. The primary aim is to ensure that every girl is respected and valued in Indian society. On this day, the Women and Child Development Ministry take up multi-pronged approach for addressing as well as working towards the trend of diminishing child sex ratio in India. The initiatives like these ensure that girl child is born as well as nurtured in a way that it gives them equal opportunities as well as rights like those to the boys. On the National Girl Child Day, the aim is to address issues related to health, education and nutrition of the girl

child. The State's Women and Child Development Department instructed the District Programme Officers of various states of India to organise programmes for the National Girl Child Day. The Election Commission of India celebrated the 3rd National Voters Day across the country on 25 January 2013. The theme for the 3rd NVD is Inclusion. NVD functions were held at more than 6.5 lakh locations across the country covering nearly all 8.5 lakh Polling Stations. Around 46000 Educational Institutions also celebrated National Voters Day. Around 4867 Youth Voter Festivals have bee n held across the states to engage youth in the registration process. The National Function to mark the 3rd National Voters Day was held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. 25th January is also the foundation day of the Commission, which came into being on this day in 1950. The Commissions objective through NVD is to increase enrolment of voters, especially of the newly eligible ones, to make universal adult suffrage a complete reality. The National Voters Day is also utilized to spread awareness among voters regarding effective participation in the electoral process. The West Bengal Government on 22 January 2013, the day of Neta Ji Subhash Chandra Boses birth anniversary, declared that it would give a heritage status to his ancestral house at Kodalia in South 24 Parganas district. The Government also announced that if the need arises to acquire the land, than it is also ready to do so. Kalyan Singh, the former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh on 21 January 2013 merged his Jan Kranti Party with Bhartiya Janta Party. Singh merged his party with BJP during the Atal Shankhnaad Rally of BJP in Lucknows Jhelum Park. He himself was unable to join the party himself as he is an independent MP from Etah Constituency and before joining the party it is required for him to resign from the membership of the house as it is an electoral cause under anti-defection law. His resignation from the Parliament would have created a space for by-elections for the Etah Seat. Kalyan Singh left BJP before the Lok Sabha Elections of 2009 due to the differences with the senior leaders of BJP. India celebrated its 64th Republic Day on 26 January 2013 . Unfurling of National flag, the rich cultural heritage, and nation's achievements in various fields were the highlights of Republic Day Parade at Rajpath in Delhi. The impressive march-past was watched by Chief Guest, King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk. The Army showcased its impressive weaponry which included main battle tank- ARJUN, Super Sonic Cruise Missile Brahmos Weapon System and Multi Barrel Rocket System -Pinaka. Display of above 5000 kilometer range AgniV missile, Mobile Integrated Network Terminal and mini version of INS Vikramaditya also remained the centre of attraction during the function. 19 tableaux from various States and Central Ministries also mesmerized the spectators. The Justice Verma panel, which is a 3-member commission created to review the laws for sexual crimes submitted the report to the Government of India on 23 January 2013. Justice Verma panel was created after the brutal gang rape of the Para-medical student on 16 December 2012. Former Chief Justice of India, Justice JS Verma headed the commission and reviewed the laws on sexual crimes which exist already. The report was prepared by the panel in its 30-day deadline. The former CJI described that there were more than 80000 suggestions from the length and breadth of India as well as abroad after 5 January 2013 was declared as the deadline for receiving comments from

common man in order to refurbish the present legislation that deals with the sex offenders. The Justice Verma panel recognised failure of governance as primary cause of sexual crimes. The panel additionally criticised the police, government and also the public for the lack of interest and also recommended changes in the entire society. Some of the changes described by the Justice Verma panel are as follows: o o There is a need for overall wide spectrum of law for violence against the women. It is important to address even the placid sexual harassment and that every complaint of sexual harassment should be registered. o o o o Anyone committing rape shall be given rigorous imprisonment which may range from seven years to life term. Crimes like gang rape shall entail punishment ranging from not less than 20 years to whole life of the convict. Gang-rape causing death of the victim shall amount to life imprisonment for the convict. The panel also mentioned in its report the Khap panchayat mentioning that Khaps were unconstitutional and they had no right to declare the marriage invalid. o o o o o o In order to preserve the rules of law, there is a need for police reforms as well. The Panel suggested that Law enforcement agencies should not work as slaves of the political masters. All the marriages should be registered, while making sure that there was no demand for dowry. Minor children trafficking should be considered as a serious offence. Trafficking should be made punishable with imprisonment ranging from not less than 7 years to 10 years. In case, a police officer or a public servant is involved in child trafficking, it should be dealt with in a stricter manner than usual.

Union

Home

Ministry

issued

Strict

Guidelines

for

Regulating

Surrogacy

in

India

The Union Home Ministry in India issued stricter guidelines for those visas which are used by the foreign nationals interested in surrogacy. This is said to be the archetypical step by the Home Ministry to regulate surrogacy in India. The new guidelines indicated that single foreigners as well as the gay couples would not be eligible for having the Indian surrogate. Only those foreign man and woman, who are married for at least two years, would be granted the visas. The Union Home Ministry stated that they had noticed a few foreign nationals visiting India for the purpose of surrogacy on their tourist visa, which is not appropriate. Back in July 2012, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had decided in the circular sent to foreign embassies that the foreigners were entitled to enter India for surrogacy only on their medical visas and no other kind of visas. Also, it was mandatory for the foreign nationals to fulfill a few criterions. The circular was notified on 17 December 2012 by the Foreign Regional Registration Office in Mumbai and was also sent to the fertility clinics. The guidelines are issued when the legislation for regulating the fertility clinics is waiting for tabling in the Parliament. This legislation is called the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Regulation Bill 2010. SC, ST sub-plans Act in force

Andhra Pradesh SCSP and TSP Act came into effect on 25 January. A gazette notification has been issued to the effect

after Governor ESL Narasimhan signed the papers. With this, Andhra Pradesh becomes the first state in the country to give effect to such Act. The Bill was passed in both the A P Legislative Assembly and Council in December 2012. Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, who participated in the Jaipur Chinthan Shivir, urged the AICC to bring such an Act at national level for the uplift of Scheduled Castes and Tribes in the country. It is expected that the provisions of the Act would make available an additional amount of about Rs 3,000 crore every year for SCSP and another Rs 1,200 crore for TSP. There are three salient features of the SC Sub-Plan (SCSP) and Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) -- Earmarking of funds for the SCs and STs in proportion to their population, giving the funds to a nodal agency and appointing a separate Finance Secretary to release the funds allocated to SCSP and TSP. The recommendation of the Sub-Committee to establish an ombudsman to monitor utilization of funds was not accepted since there is the Lokayukta to handle complaints and the nodal agency, comprising ministers in charge of concerned portfolios, to oversee the implementation. The 8th Annual Status of Education Report, ASER 2012 was released in New Delhi on 17 January by the Minister of Human Resource Development, Dr. M.M. Pallam Raju. Speaking on the occasion the Honble Minister said that the focus of the current 12th Five Year Plan is on quality of education imparted in schools . He said that the quality of the teachers in schools has to be improved and infrastructure needs to be strengthened. Appreciating the trend in improvement of infrastructure in schools including sanitation and mid-day meals, he said that the trend of the girls enrollment going down is a matter of concern. Expressing satisfaction over the performance of some states, the Minister said that after the enactment of RTE Act some states are doing well in primary and elementary education but states from north-east regions have to catch up. Stating that aspiration level of the parents and the child is going up. The report says that the enrollment level for the 6-14 age group continued to be very high in rural areas. In 2012, 96.5% of all the children in this age group in rural areas were enrolled in schools. The proportion of the children in the age group of 6-14 who are not enrolled in schools has gone up slightly from 3.3% in 2011 to 3.5% in 2012. The increase is largest in Rajasthan and UP. The report also says that learning outcomes were low but steady in the years leading to 2010. But across the country, childrens ability to read simple text and do basic arithmetic has declined since then.Nationally, private schools enrollment has increased (6-14 age group). In next five years, the country may have half of the children attending private schools even in the rural areas. President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the 28th Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (APAO) Congress in Hyderabad on 17 January. Speaking in the occasion he says, Private sector companies and Government institutions should join hands to fight blindness. Citing the World Health Organisation data, the President said by 2020, there would be 76 million blind people indicating that visual impairment would double in 1990-2020. India had a historical tradition of focusing on eye-care as its ancient sage-cum-surgeon, Shushruta was the father of cataract surgeries, he said. Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy said about 80 lakh school children were screened for detecting visual impairment in the State under various initiatives. The treatment for visual impairment was also included under State Governments health scheme Aarogyasree, he added. The four-day congress is being organised in conjunction with the 71st annual conference of All-India Ophthalmological Society. It would

throw light on the recent advances in the field. About 10,000 eye specialists and experts are expected to participate in the event. The Supreme Court on 19 January banned fresh encroachment of roads, pavements and sideways by construction of religious structures or installation of statues of public figures . The apex court's ruling addresses a common hazard in all Indian cities and towns where unauthorized religious structures - often thinly disguised cases of land grab - have sprung up on public and private land and are obstructing roads and inconveniencing residents. The order can empower municipal and government bodies to prevent unauthorized constructions being carried out under the garb of religious structures as often local political interests and religious sentiments render authorities helpless. Along with religious structures, the court also ruled on installation of statues. "Henceforth, states shall not grant permission to install any statue or erect any structure on public roads, pavements and sideways and other public utility places," ordered a bench of Justices R M Lodha and S J Mukhopadhaya. The order was passed on an application challenging the Kerala government's permission to a private society to install the statue of public figure on a traffic island on a national highway at a busy intersection where vehicles had to crawl because of existing encroachments. Presidents rule was finally imposed in Jharkhand on 18 January, a day after the Union Cabinet accepted Governor Syed Ahmeds report recommending that the Assembly be kept in suspended animation. Regional ally JMM had withdrawn support to the Arjun Munda government on January 8, reducing it to a minority. President Pranab Mukherji has signed the proclamation under Article 356(1) of the Constitution,imposing Centres rule for the third time, on a request from the Union Home Ministry. Former Director General of CRPF, Vijay Kumar and former Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta have been appointed advisers to the governor, the ministry stated. The governments move has invited mixed reactions. The JMM was disappointed, having lost an opportunity to instate either Shibu Shoren or his son Hemant as the chief minister. A miffed BJP said it will stage a dharna against the Cabinet decision. Prompted by nationwide outrage over the Nirbhaya gang rape incident, New Delhi, the law ministry on 17 January has approved Rs 80 crore for recruitment of 2,000 more judges across the country for fast-track courts. In a letter to state governments and high courts on January 9, the Centre asked them to increase the strength of subordinate judiciary from the current 18,000 to 20,000 with the additional judges to be deployed in fast-track courts. The law ministry took Cabinet approval in the last week of December when India was rocked by mass protests over Nirbhaya's gang rape that saw activists, lawyers, officials and jurists pointing to how victims were disadvantaged by long trials that allowed accused to influence witnesses. Sources said the government was working on another proposal to allow states to use funds available for morning and evening courts to further increase the number of fast-track courts, a demand raised by various sections of society to expedite trial of pending cases, particularly those of sexual assault and heinous crimes.

Govt.

raises

LPG

cap

to

nine

cylinders

per

year

The government on 17 January raised the cap on supply of subsidised LPG cylinders to nine bottles from six per year and allowed oil companies to hike diesel prices by a small quantum periodically. There will be no change in LPG and kerosene rates, Oil Minister M. Veerappa Moily told in New Delhi after the meeting on Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA). Consumers will get a quota of five subsidised cylinders between September 2012 and March 2013 and from April 1, 2013, they will be entitled to nine cylinders per annum.Mr. Moily said that the oil companies have been permitted to raise diesel prices by a small quantum periodically till such time that they are able to cover Rs. 9.60 per liter loss they incur on the fuel. Political uncertainty deepened in Jharkhand on 8 January, with Chief Minister Arjun Munda submitting his resignation to Governor Syed Ahmed. On 7 January, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) announced the withdrawal of its support to the BJP-led government. Mr. Munda recommended that the Governor dissolve the Assembly to facilitate fresh elections. He has been asked by the Governor to continue as caretaker chief minister. Mr. Munda said the decision was taken as no national party came forward to provide an alternative government after the JMM decided to pull out of the government, which was formed in September 2010. Both the JMM and the BJP have 18 seats each in the 81-member Assembly. The Congress has 13 seats, while the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) has 11. The JMM is expected to approach the Congress to stitch together an alliance, taking in five MLAs of the RJD and seven Independents. The Andhra Pradesh government has banned the manufacture and sale of gutkha and pan masala in the state with immediate effect, according to the State Health and Family Welfare Department.The ban has made Andhra Pradesh the 14th state in the country to take the step towards eradicating tobacco use, bringing down shutters on the 12 gutkha manufacturing units in the state. Various departments, including vigilance and enforcement, commercial tax, transport, labour, municipal administration, panchayat raj and police will work together to enforce the ban. According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS 2010), released by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in October 2010, about 29 per cent of the adult population in AP consumes tobacco products in some form or the other. Among them, 15 per cent use smokeless tobacco while 17.4 per cent are smokers. Experts point out that among the 3,095 chemical components found in the tobacco products, including gutkha, 28 were proved to be carcinogens which cause cancer. While it is widely known that gutkha causes oral cancer in the long run, not many users are aware that its immediate effects are on the cardiovascular and gastrointestinal systems. The non-food grade agents and chemicals present in gutka can also lead to heart attacks and infertility, experts warned. The Prime Minister on 9 January, unveiled the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020 in the presence of Mr. Praful Patel, Minister for Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises and Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Dy. Chairman, Planning Commission. The principal end objectives of the National Mission for Electric Mobility (NMEM) are National energy security, mitigation of the adverse impact of vehicles on the environment and growth of domestic manufacturing capabilities. The NEMMP 2020, the mission document for the NMEM that was approved by the National Council for Electric Mobility (NCEM) on 29th August, 2012, sets the vision, lays the targets

and provides the joint Government industry vision for realizing the huge potential that exists for full range of efficient and environmentally friendly electric vehicle (including hybrids) technologies by 2020. The NEMMP 2020 is a well researched document and relies on in-depth primary data based study conducted jointly by the Government and the Industry which indicates that high latent demand for environmentally friendly electric vehicle technologies exists in the country. As per these projections, 6-7 million units of new vehicle sales of the full range of electric vehicles, along with resultant liquid fuel savings of 2.2 2.5 million tones can be achieved in 2020. This will also result in substantial lowering of vehicular emissions and decrease in carbon di-oxide emissions by 1.3% to 1.5% in 2020 as compared to a status quo scenario. The NEMMP 2020 projections also indicate that the savings from the decrease in liquid fossil fuel consumption as a result of shift to electric mobility alone will far exceed the support provided thereby making this a highly economically viable proposition. Therefore on all counts encouraging the faster adoption of hybrid & electric vehicles and their manufacture in India is a wise investment for our future generations. NMEM is amongst the most significant interventions of the Government that promises to transform the automotive paradigm of the future by lessening the dependence on fossil fuels, increasing energy efficiency of vehicles and by providing the means to achieve ultimate objective of cleaner transportation that is compatible with sustainable renewable energy generation. This Intervention will also help encourage the Indian Automotive Industry to shift to newer, cleaner technologies so that it builds its future competitive advantage around environmentally sustainable products, high end technologies, innovation and knowledge. The implementation and roll out of the NEMMP 2020 will be done through various specific schemes, interventions, policies that are currently under formulation and will be considered by the Government in the near future. The Union Cabinet on 10 January, approved the revised cost estimates of Rs.1457.56 crore for reconstruction and completion of the Salma Dam Project (3X14 MW) in Afghanistan by M/s WAPCOS Ltd. towards civil, hydro-mechanical, electro-mechanical and other components of the dam till completion of the dam in December 2014 or two years from the date of approval of revised cost estimates. The expenditure on the projects will be met from the Non-Plan head of 'Aid to Afghanistan' budget of the Ministry of External Affairs. The Cabinet had approved the proposal in June 2010 for the revised cost estimates of Rs.854.86 crore up to December 2010. The project has registered physical progress of 60 percent. The project is being executed by M/s WAPCOS, a central PSU under the Ministry of Water Resources. The local communities of Western Afghanistan would directly benefit from the project. The availability of power and water through the project upon its successful completion will lead to overall economic development of Afghanistan's Western region and generate goodwill for India in Afghanistan. The completion of this project will address the issues of energy requirement and irrigation needs in Western Afghanistan. The Union Cabinet on 10 January approved the declaration of the National Institute of Design (NID) by Parliament by law as an 'Institution of National Importance' . The status of 'Institution of National Importance' would authorise NID, Ahmadabad to award degree to its students. This, in turn, may prove to be beneficial for students who wish to pursue post graduation. This will fulfill the need to professionalize, standardize and internationally

benchmark professional design education in India, so as to take full advantage of opportunities opening up for the design industry, both in domestic as well as in international markets. The Union Ministry of Tourism will organise an International Tourism Mart at Guwahati from 18th to 20th of January, 2013. Announcing this at a press conference in New Delhi, Union Tourism Minister K. Chiranjeevi said that this will not only be the first ever International Tourism event to be organised in the north-eastern region, but also the first International Tourism Mart to focus on a specific region of India. He said It wil l bring together the tourism business fraternity and entrepreneurs from the eight north eastern States of India and West Bengal. The event has been planned and scheduled to facilitate interaction between buyers, sellers, media, Government agencies and others. The Minister informed that about 100 delegates including tourism Ministers, Tourism Secretaries, Tour operators, Hoteliers and Media Representatives from Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Combodia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, The Philippines, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States of America and Vietnam will be attending the mart. He said these delegates will engage in one-two-one meetings with sellers from the north eastern region and West Bengal. Mr. Chiranjeevi said this will enable tourism product suppliers from the region to reach out to international and domestic buyers and promote tourism in the region. Chiranjeevi disclosed that celebrity artistes such as Lou Majaw from Meghalaya, Rubin from Manipur, Mami Varte from Mizoram and Debojit Saha, Dikshu, Priyanka Bharali, Manas Robin, Joy Chakravarty, Simanta Shekhor, Mousam Gogoi and Papori Sharma from Assam will perform at the Mart. The north east region of India comprising the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim, is endowed with diverse tourist attractions and products. The varied topography of the region, its flora and fauna, the ethnic communities with their rich heritage of ancient traditions and lifestyles, festivals, arts and crafts, make it a holiday destination waiting to be explored. Considering the contiguous features of West Bengal with the north east, the state has been included in the Mart. The Union Cabinet on 10 January approved the introduction of a Bill in the Parliament for declaring Lakhipur-Bhanga stretch (121 kms.) of the Barak River as a National Waterway. It also gave its approval for preparation of projects/schemes for development of infrastructure facilities on this stretch of the river at an estimated cost of Rs.123 crore with implementation in two phases. Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) set up under IWAI Act, 1985 will be the implementing agency for this project. The first phase of the project would be completed by 2016-17 followed by the second phase which is likely to be completed by 2018-19. The enactment to declare Lakhipur-Bhanga stretch of the Barak River as National Waterway will result in unified development of the waterways for shipping and navigation and transportation of cargo to the North Eastern Region particularly in the states of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh. The Government of India has so far declared five waterways as National Waterways. These are:- (i) Allahabad-Haldia stretch of the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system (1620 km); (ii) Dhubri-Sadiya stretch of Brahmaputra River (891 km); (iii) Kottapuram-Kollam stretch of West Coast Canal along with Udyogmandal and Champakara Canals (205 km); (iv) Kakinada-Puducherry stretch of the canal along with designated stretches of Godavari and Krishna Rivers (1078 km); and (v) designated stretches of East Coast

Canal, Brahmani River and Mahanadi Delta (588 km). The Lakhipur-Bhanga stretch of the Barak River would be the sixth National Waterway. The Union Cabinet on 10 January, has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Rural Development to provide a quality and affordable house and also taking into account numerous requests from the stakeholders for increasing the unit cost, keeping in view the steep increase in cost of materials . The approval is that -Enhancement of unit assistance under the Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) from Rs. 45,000/- to Rs. 70,000/- in plain areas and from Rs. 48,500/- to Rs. 75,000/- in hilly/difficult/LAP district; The IAY is a flagship scheme of the Ministry of Rural Development and aims at addressing rural housing issues by providing grant for construction / upgradation of dwelling units of BPL families especially giving priority to Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes, freed bonded labourers and physically challenged persons with financial assistance of Rs. 45,000/- in plain areas and Rs. 48,500/- in hilly /difficult areas. The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee released a Commemorative Postage Stamp on Silk Letter Movement at a function in New Delhi on January 11, 2013.Speaking on the occasion, the President said that the sacrifices of individuals and groups, such as those associated with the Silk Letter Movement, constitute a glorious chapter of Indias history of Freedom struggle and need to be acknowledged and appreciated. The President said that he is happy that the Department of Posts has done its bit over the years and has issued postage stamps to acknowledge the contribution of various groups and movements which in their own ways contributed to the overall effort to liberate India. Recognizing the importance of cinema as a powerful tool for the development and promotion of various tourist destinations, Union Tourism Minister K.Chiranjeevi announced, several initiatives for promoting Film Tourism through films shot in India.Announcing this in New Delhi on 11 January, the Minister said that a Land of Pi campaign would be launched soon across all media, including print, online, electronic and outdoor, to promote Puducherry and Munnar as tourist destinations . The widely acclaimed film Life of Pi has been partly shot in the beautiful locales of Puducherry (Pondicherry) and Munnar in Kerala. In order to enable viewers of the film to visit the two regions shown in the film, Mr. Chiranjeevi held a meeting last month with the Secretaries of Tourism of Puducherry and Kerala along with Tour Operators of the region, immediately after it was observed that the film had highlighted awareness of the two regions. K.Chiranjeevi has already announced special National Tourism Awards for Mr. Ang Lee, Director and Mr. Yann Martel, author of the Book Life of Pi, for promoting India through the film. President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi on 12 January, inaugurated the celebrations to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda . Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson UPA, A.K. Antony, Minister of Defense & Chairman NIC, P. Chidambaram, Minister of Finance, were also present at the function organized at the Rashtrapati Bhawan auditorium. The Finance Minister P. Chidambaram released a set of Commemorative Coins and presented the first set to the President Pranab Mukherjee. The coins

are of Rs.150 and Rs. 5 denomination . The Government of India decided to undertake the commemoration of 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. A National Committee under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was constituted to approve policies/plans, programmes and supervise and guide the Commemoration of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda including preparatory activities leading up to the Anniversary year in 2013-14. A National Implementation Committee was also constituted in 2010 under the Chairmanship of the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to implement the decisions of the National Committee. On Pranab Mukherjee assuming the office of President of India, Defence Minister Shri A.K. Antony has been appointed Chairman of the said National Implementation Committee. Foreign Exchange Earnings from Tourism shows an Increase of 21.8 Percent During 2012 Foreign Tourist Arrivals also Goes up by 5.4 Percent during the Year Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from Tourism during the year 2012 showed an increase of 21.8% as compared to FEEs of 2011. Foreign Tourist Arrivals ( FTAs) in the country also registered an increase of 5.4% during the year 2012 as compared to FTAs of 2011. The following are the important highlights regarding FTAs and FEEs from tourism in India during the year 2012: o FEEs from tourism in rupee terms during 2012 were Rs.94, 487 crore with a growth of 21.8% as compared to the FEEs of Rs.77, 591 crore with a growth of 19.6% during the year 2011 over 2010. o o FEEs from tourism in terms of US$ during 2012 were US$ 17.74 billion with a growth of 7.1% over 2011. FTAs in India during 2012 were 66.48 lakh with a growth of 5.4% as compared to the FTAs of 63.09 lakh during the year 2011. Ministry of Tourism compiles monthly estimates of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) on the basis of data received from major ports and Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from tourism on the basis data available from Reserve Bank of India. National Aluminum Co Ltd (Nalco) Commissioned its First Wind Power Project in AP

National Aluminum Co Ltd (Nalco) in the Month of January 2013 commissioned its first wind power project at Gandikota in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh. Nalco which is the Government-owned manufacturer and distributor of aluminum products had invested around 275 crore rupees for the 50-MW Suzlon-erected project.

Nalco signed a power purchase agreement with the States power transmissio n utility Transco and has begun inoculation of power to the State grid. The windmill project had received clearance from the Ministry of Forests and Environment. Also, setting up of the second wind power is on the line which is supposed to be of 50 MW, and will be situated in Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan. The cost of this project is estimated to be around 190 crore rupees.

Nalco, a large thermal power consumer for its aluminum smelting in Odisha, is appreciative to generate renewable energy under electricity regulations. As per the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, the Indian Wind Turbine Manufactures Association (WTMA) had reported that public sector units have so far established around 1135 MW of wind power projects in the country, besides solar power projects of 27 MW.

News Broadcasting Standards Association Issued Guidelines for Reporting of Sexual Crimes The News Broadcasting Standards Association (NBSA) on 7 January 2013 issued certain guidelines for the television channels to exercise discretion and sensitivity, while reporting the sexual assault cases. Keeping in view, the Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), NBSA directed television channels to keep the identity of the victims involved in sexual assault, hideous. The guidelines were a result of the Zee News television interview of the friend of Delhi gangrape victim. The name of victim was also disclosed in one international publication. NBSA while issuing guidelines declared that the news channels needed to keep in mind that the coverage as well as reporting of crime can influence the mindset of viewers, thereby also creating significant impact on perception of their minds for such crimes. The news channels were advised to balance the right to privacy of the survivor as well as his/her family with the public interest. Channels were therefore asked to secrete the identity of victims of sexual assault, aggression and violence. The issued guidelines declared that in reporting of such sexual crimes on women, victims of juvenile offending and child abuse, the privacy should be respected and name, photographs as well as other private details should not be disclosed. The television channels were directed to practice sensitivity, sound judgment as well as discretion, especially while disclosing the details of sexual assault because these details re-traumatized the survivor. National Data Centre for UIDAI to come up in Gurgaon

The Chief Minister of Haryana, Bhupinder Singh Hooda on 7 January 2012 laid the foundation stone of the state-of-theart National Data Centre of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) at Maneshar, Gurgaon in Haryana. The centre that will spread in an area of five-acres would serve as the respiratory system for the UIDAI and would store all the basic biometric and demographic information of the residents, before the 12-digit Aadhaar Number is issued. The development work of the UIDAI center would be completed by mid 2014 and is being developed as a green data centre and abides to all the global standards and guidelines. Railway fares hiked for first time in 10 years; increase across all classes

Ahead of the rail budget for 2013, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on 9 January announced a fare hike with effect from January 21-22 midnight. Addressing a press conference Bansal said that having hiked the railway fares now, the government will not increase the tariff in the budget. This is the first railway fare hike in ten years. The new fares imply 2 paise per kilometer increase in second class ordinary suburban tariffs. The fare for second class non sub-urban travel has gone up by 3 paise per kilometer and that of sleeper class has been hiked by 6 paise per kilometer. Travelling in Air conditioned (AC) chair car and sleeper class will now be costlier by 10 paise per kilometer. Justifying the hike, Bansal said, "Input costs have increased immensely while rail fares have remained stagnant. In fact there was a decrease in lower class fares. Given economic slowdown, we have not been able to so far achieve this year's targets in either freight or fare side." In the last railway budget, government hiked the fares only to roll them back, except for AC-1 and II passengers. The last across-the-board hike had happened at the start of the millennium, when Nitish Kumar held the charge. His successors fought shy of taking the "politically incorrect" step. Three centers of ISRO, viz., Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram, Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), with campuses in Thiruvananthapuram, Bangalore and Mahendragiri and Satish Dhawan Space

Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota, have new Directors (Mr. S. Ramakrishnan, Mr. M. Chandradathan and Dr. M.Y.S. Prasad respectively) from January 1, 2013.Mr. S. Ramakrishnan, Distinguished Scientist of ISRO and hitherto Director, LPSC, has assumed the office of the Director, VSSC. He took over the charge from Mr. P. S. Veeraraghavan, the retiring Director. VSSC is the lead centre for the design and development of launch vehicle technologies for the Indian Space Programme. Mr. M. Chandradathan, Distinguished Scientist and hitherto Director, SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota, is appointed as Director, LPSC with campuses in Thiruvananthapuram, Mahendragiri and Bangalore. He took over the charge from Mr. S. Ramakrishnan, who is appointed as Director, VSSC. Dr. M.Y.S. Prasad, Distinguished Scientist and Associate Director of SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota has assumed the office of Director, SDSC SHAR. He took over the charge from Mr. M Chandradathan, who has been appointed as the Director of ISRO's Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre. SDSC SHAR with two launch pads is the spaceport of ISRO. Former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma, who broke with Sharad Pawar's NCP last year to contest the Presidential elections against Congress nominee Pranab Mukherjee, launched his own National People's Party (NPP) on 6 January and joined hands with BJP-led NDA. Launching the NPP at the "national level," in New Delhi Sangma said, it has been active for long as a recognised party from Manipur. Sangma had previously joined hands with NDA after he put together a coalition of north-east parties ahead of the 2004 election. Sangma who unsuccessfully contested the Presidential polls last year as a candidate of the Tribal Forum of India said that his party would give due importance to tribal and women issues.He announced that former Union minister Arvind Netam will be working president of the new party. The government is going to roll out its ambitious scheme of transferring cash to beneficiaries of select schemes in 20 districts on 1 January 2013, but food, fertiliser and fuel subsidies will not be covered in the initial phase. As per the roll-out plan, more and more districts and schemes would be covered under the scheme during the course of 2013.All 26 schemes are ready for rollout. On 1 January 2013 the seven schemes in which payout is due in the (20 selected) districts, the money will be transferred through the direct benefit transfer system using the UIDAI platform. However, Government clarified that subsidies relating to cooking gas (LPG), kerosene, diesel, food and fertilizers will not be included in the first phase of the rollout. The scheme is going to be rolled out in 43 districts by 1 March 2013, 20 districts from January 1, 11 districts from February 1 and 12 districts from March 1. By end of 2013, the direct cash benefit transfer will be rolled out in all the districts of the country. The subsidies would be transferred to the beneficiaries bank accounts if they do not have an Aadhaar number. Union Minister Jairam Ramesh on 6 January launched the Aadhar-enabled Direct Benefits Transfer Scheme (DBTS) for MGNREGP and Social Security Pensions at Gollaprolu village in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. East Godavari (EG) is one of the four districts in Andhra Pradesh where the scheme is being launched as part of the nationwide roll-out of DBTS in the first phase. EG has the distinction of achieving 99 per cent enrolment for Aadhar and as many as 43.32 lakh persons were already issued UID cards. To mark the launch of the scheme, the Union Rural Development Minister paid the pension amount to Nilla Satyanarayana, a physically challenged person, using a micro ATM. The minister also paid wages using micro ATM to MGNREGP workers on the

occasion. Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, state Home Minister P Sabita Reddy, MPs Undavalli Arun Kumar and G Harsha Kumar, ministers, legislators and senior officials were present on the occasion. Task force formed to review womens safety in Delhi

The Ministry of Home Affairs has formed a special task force to look into the issues of womens safety in the capital every fortnight. The 13-member body, to be headed by the Home Secretary, will also regularly review the functioning of the Delhi Police. Its members are the Chief Secretary; the Police Commissioner, the Special Commissioner (Traffic) and the Special Commissioner (Law & Order); the chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women; the New Delhi Municipal Council chairperson; the Transport and Excise Commissioners; the Corporation Commissioners of East Delhi, North Delhi and South Delhi; and the Joint Secretary (Union Territory) in the Home Ministry, an official statement said. The task force may co -opt any such member it may deem fit. It will also take into consideration the suggestions made by the Members of Parliament during the debate on the issue. The task force shall continuously review action taken by the Delhi Police and the Delhi Government, the statement said. The Delhi Police works under the Home Ministry. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has been demanding that the State government be given control of the force for better policing of the capital Foreign Tourists Not Allowed To Work as Journalists on Tourist Visa

Ministry of Home Affairs on 2 January 2013 ordered foreign tourists not to indulge in the journalistic activities on their tourist visas. The order was issued by the Ministry after observing that a lot of foreigners visiting India on their tourist visa are also involved in covering the events as well as journalistic activities in India. The Home Affairs official cleared that tourist visa was not the appropriate visa for covering journalistic activities by foreigners. Tourist visa is issued to the foreigners who do not have residence as well as occupation in India and the primary objective of their visit is recreation, casual visit for meeting relatives and friends as well as sightseeing. Any other activity on this tourist visa was not permissible. Ministry of Home Affairs also requested the Ministry of External Affairs to communicate directives to the Indian Missions or Posts abroad. The Ministry also ordered that the State Governments as well as concerned authorities of India should strictly abide by the order. Chief Justice of India Inaugurated First Fast-Track Court in Delhi for Hearing Rape Cases Chief Justice of India (CJI) Altamas Kabir inaugurated the first fast-track court in Delhi on 2 January 2013 for dealing with the crimes against females. The first fast-track court is one among other four fast-track courts which would deal with the cases of crime against the women. This court is set up in the Saket Court Complex and the first case to be heard here is that of the Delhi gangrape which took place on 16 December 2012. Other fast track courts would function from 3 January 2013 at Rohini, Tis Hazari and Dwarka in New Delhi. In the first rape case which would be heard in the fasttrack court, the Delhi Police decided to submit a 1000-page chargesheet in the magistrate court in Saket on 3 January 2013 after which it would move to fast-track court where hearing will take place on daily trial basis. In December 2012, the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court announced that all the cases of crime against women in Delhi would be dealt in the fast-track courts.

Regional

Passport

Office

sets

national

record

The Regional Passport Office, Hyderabad, has become the first RPO in the country to deliver more than 5 lakh passport services, according to Dr Srikar Reddy, Regional Passport Officer, Hyderabad. He announced this at a press conference on 4 January. During 2012, the RPO, Hyderabad, received about 5.73 lakh applications (20 % more than 2011) and provided about 5.5 lakh passport services. Dr Srikar Reddy said that the AP police authorities were extending full cooperation in completion of police verification in the mandated three weeks time. The PVRs pending for more than 21 days had come down to about 4,000 as of December 31, 2012, from over 60,000 at the beginning of August 2012. The average police verification time for the month of December 2012 was 22 days, with over 84% of the police reports being submitted within 21 days. Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde launched Pilot Project of Crime and Criminal Tracking System Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on 4 January 2013 launched Pilot Project of Crime and Criminal Tracking Systems. The Government launched the project to make use of technology in bringing greater transparency and accountability into government functioning, as Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) is supposed to be an important step forward in this direction which requires a significant change management effort. The pilot launch of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) Project would create a nation-wide environment for the real-time sharing of crime and criminal information and connect approximately 14000 police stations throughout the country apart from higher offices in police hierarchy.

Bilateral
Smt. Panabaka Lakshmi, Minister of State for Petroleum & Natural Gas on 22 January, has said that India will soon send a delegation of experts to Niger for exploring possibilities of cooperation between two countries in the hydrocarbon sector. Responding to the proposal of her counterpart Mr. Foumakore Gado, Minister of Energy & Petroleum of Niger, at a meeting in New Delhi, Smt Lakshmi said Indian companies are interested to choose exploration blocks and invest in the oil Marketing infrastructure of the country. She also offered to provide training by PSUs like ONGC, GAIL, IOC to the Nigers hydrocarbon sector personnel. Mr. Gado invited Indian delegation of experts in the oil & gas sector to provide them technical expertise in the hydrocarbon value chain. He welcomed Indian companies to invest in exploration blocks and other oil & gas sector activities. Mr. Foumakore Gado led a high level delegation of Niger at the meeting, which included Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Transport and chairman & Finance Commission of Niger. Defence Minister AK Antony on 22 January called on the President of Myanmar U Thein Sein in NayPyiTaw. Antony conveyed the importance placed by India on enhancement of bilateral ties in all fields, including defence. He noted that the recent exchanges of visits between both countries at political and other levels had imparted a new momentum to the bilateral relationship. In the case of defence in particular, the defence minister noted that the two

sides were working to consolidate ties, in mutual interest of both. He informed that the visit of all three Service Chiefs of India to Myanmar in the last 18 months reflected the desire of the Indian government to strengthen ties. These visits and other exchanges in the recent times had provided each side a better understanding of mutual concerns, needs and strengths. Antony stated that as neighbours which share a land and maritime boundary, both sides should work together to address common concerns. The Myanmar President welcomed the enhancement of bilateral ties between both countries in all fields. He stated that Myanmar can also play the role of a bridge between India and South-East Asia. The President also assured that Myanmar will not allow its territory to be used by anti-India insurgent groups. He welcomed the development of cooperation between the Armed Forces of both sides to deal with challenges along the land and maritime boundaries between both countries. India and Sri Lanka on 22 January, signed two separate agreements on combating international terrorism and avoidance of double taxation, eyeing elevation of robust bilateral ties to building of a special economic partnership. The two key accords were signed after the 8th India-Sri Lanka Joint Commission meeting held in New Delhi, discussed enhanced cooperation in a range of areas including civil nuclear energy. At the meeting, the Indian side was led by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid while the Lankans were led by his counterpart G.L. Peiris. The two sides also discussed the emotive issue of fishermen and rehabilitation process of Tamils in Sri Lanka besides the 13th Amendment of the Lankan constitution that gives autonomy to provinces. India and Sri Lanka are each others largest trade partners in South Asia. Khurshid said Given the vast untapped potentia l, we have stressed the need for intensive consultations towards a more comprehensive framework for economic cooperation and building of a special economic partnership,. United Kingdoms Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Lord Green called on D r. Ashwani Kumar, Union Minister of Law and Justice, in New Delhi on 16 January, and discussed various issues of mutual interest. Lord Green is on a preparatory mission for the forthcoming visit of United Kingdoms Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron. During the hour long meeting the two leaders discussed ways and means for enhancing the Indo-UK business relationship; streamlining of the visa regime for Indians in the UK; greater cooperation in the fields of science, health and education. The possibilities of opening up of legal service sector between the two countries also came in for discussion. Dr. Ashwani Kumar informed Lord Green that India attaches great importance to the unique and historical relationship between the two countries and that the Government of India remains committed to carrying forward the process of economic reforms and to establish an overall atmosphere in the country conducive to foreign investment. Railway officials from India and Bangladesh on 16 January decided to fast track some more rail links between the two countries. They also decided to study the feasibility of increasing the frequency of Maitree Express between Kolkata-Dhaka. The three-day inter-government meeting, which concluded on 17 January, discussed ongoing rail projects and feasibility of a few more rail connectivity points. For some of the projects, survey has already been completed while feasibility of new links is to be studied. The meeting also took up issues like streamlining of inter-country freight train operations. With a view to increasing people to people contact between India and Bangladesh, it was decided to expedite the projects for opening rail links between Akhaura (Bangladesh) Agartala

(India), Chilahati (Bangladesh) Haldibari (India), Shahbazpur (Bangladesh) Mahishashan (India) and Birol (Bangladesh) Radhikapur (India) and also examine the feasibility of establishing a rail link between Feni (Bangladesh) and Belonia (India), said Indian officials. The meeting constituted a working -group to study feasibility of increasing the frequency of the bi-weekly Maitree Express. The trains around 375-km run from Kolkata to Dhaka has two stoppages for immigration check, at Gede (on Indian side) and at Darshana (Bangladesh side). It takes 10 11 hours to cover the stretch. India, Vietnam signed MoU to Strengthen Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises

India and Vietnam on 15 January 2013 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which is directly meant for building capacity and developing institutional framework and identifying thrust areas and opportunities for micro, small and medium enterprises in Vietnam.The MoU was signed during the 4 day state visit of Vice President Hamid Ansari to Vietnam. The Commerce, Industry and Textiles Minister Anand Sharma, who is on a two day visit to Mauritius, had a meeting with the Hon. Navinchandra Ramgoolam, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius on 9 January, at Port Louis. Mr.Sharma informed the Prime Minister of Mauritius that there was a need for deepening and diversifying trade and investment ties between the two countries. Towards this end, he stressed upon the need for making the Mauritius India Business Council (MIBC) a robust institutional mechanism for giving a boost to trade and investment ties by identifying the priority sectors and sectors of engagement. The identified sectors can be tourism, infrastructure, manufacturing and light engineering, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, health and life sciences, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and textiles. It was agreed that a Joint Working Group on trade and investment would meet before April, 2013 to work out the modalities for broadening and deepening the economic engagement between the two countries. Anand Sharma assured of full support for the development of the textiles sector in Mauritius. He stated that the three draft MOUs in the textiles sector proposed by the Government of Mauritius involving cooperation of the Northern India Textile Research Association (NITRA) and the Apparel Promotion Council of India with the Mauritian institutions would be finalized soon. He further stated that a delegation from India in the textiles sector will visit Mauritius shortly to establish institutional linkages. The Commerce, Industry and Textiles Minister announced that 35 scholarships would be made available by India annually 15 in the Institute of Apparel Management (IAM) , 10 in the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) and 10 in the Apparel Training and Design Centre (AT & DC) . He further announced that 1000 trainees from Mauritius would be provided training for skill development in the textiles sector and 10 factories in Mauritius would be taken up by the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) for compliance with the requirements of quality certification. Anand Sharma thanked the Prime Minister of Mauritius for consistently supporting Indias candidature for a permanent seat in the Security Council. Sharma announced that in addition to the existing Line of Credit of US $ 250 million (which was announced during the visit of the Prime Minister of Mauritius in February, 2012), buyers credit to the tune of US 100 million would be provided to Mauritius.

The 10th meeting of the India-Kazakhstan Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological, Industrial and Cultural was held during 8-9 January 2013 in New Delhi. Dr. M. Veerappa Moily, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, led the delegation from India. The Kazakh side at the IGC meeting was led by Mr. Bulat Akchulakov, Vice Minister of Oil and Gas, Republic of Kazakhstan. The two Ministers signed IGC Protocol after conclusion of the India-Kazakhstan IGC meeting. The two sides reviewed progress with regard to various decisions taken at the 9th Inter-Governmental Commission meeting held in Astana on 12th October 2011.The discussions took place in 20 sectors of cooperation like Energy, Trade, Agriculture, IT, Science & Technology, Mines etc. Both the sides agreed that the current level of bilateral trade is not commensurate with the potential existing between the two countries and called for conscious efforts to increase Indo-Kazakh trade through the Joint Working Group on Trade and Economic Cooperation and the India Kazakh Joint Business Council. The meeting of the Joint Working Group on cooperation in hydrocarbon sector was held along with the IGC meeting. The next meeting of the Joint Working Group will be held in Kazakhstan. The dates will be agreed through diplomatic channel. Both sides also agreed that tourism provides the opportunity to strengthen the links between the two countries at human and cultural level. Both sides agreed that the 11th meeting of the IGC will be held in Astana, Kazakhstan. The Indian Diaspora has made the country proud through the significant contributions that they have made to the development of the nations which they have chosen to make their homes. Delivering the valedictory address at the 11th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas held at Kochi during January 7-9, President Pranab Mukherjee said that it is a matter of pride that there are at least 5 Heads of States and over 70 senior political leaders such as Deputy Heads of State, Speakers and Ministers in various countries who can trace their roots to India. Highlighting the Indian Economy, Mukherjee said that India is the third largest economy in the world on the basis of Purchasing Power Parity basis. It too is the second fastest growing economy after China. It has managed to grow at a rate above 8 per cent. Due to the slowdown in the global economy and other factors, the growth rates have declined, from 8.4 per cent in 2010-11 to 6.5 per cent in 2011-12, and further to 5.4 per cent in the first half of 2012-13. He expressed hope the economic growth back to the level of 8 to 9 per cent. He called upon NRIs to invest in India. Addressing on the occasion, the Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Mr. Vayalar Ravi said that Pravasi Bharatiya Divas has over the years, grown not only in size but also in its contents. Meeting under the overall t heme of Engaging Diaspora-the Indian Growth Story this year a wideranging and interesting discussions were held in various sessions such as the Seminar on NRIs in the Gulf; on Skill Development; on Heritage and Diaspora; on engaging the young Overseas I ndians; on Indias Growing Soft Power; and, on Science, Innovation and Technology. On the occasion of the centenary year of the Ghadar movement, a stamp was released by the Prime Minister.

Economy
Beverages giant Coca-Cola on 22 january, announced $ 100,000 fund for a WEF initiative aimed at helping young people take action on issues they care about in more than 200 cities worldwide. The

Global Shapers Community, set up by the World Economic Forum in 2011 with the aim of engaging young people as active agents of change, is also supported by DST Global Advisors and Reliance Industries. The funding is offered in a competition aimed at more than 1,700 entrepreneurs, social activists and "positive disruptors" who make up the 'Global Shapers Community', WEF said in a release. "It will provide seed financing for Shapers' projects that address some of the most pressing problems in their communities," it said. Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Companysaid a challenge to spark and expand innovative ideas from the young leaders is what the world needs. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on 23 January 2013 projected that the economic growth rate of India in 2013 would be 5.9 percent . The IMF also projected an increased growth rate of 6.4 percent for 2014 looking forward towards the gradual strengthening of the global expansion in Indias context. In its update at the World Economic Forum , the IMF also forecasted that the global economic growth rate would be 3.5 percent, little higher than the 3.2 percent estimated earlier. As per the report of IMF, uncertainty in policy making and supply bottlenecks were one of the most visible causes that hampered the growth aspects of the economies like India and Brazil. It also stated that the scopes of easing the policy to any further extent have also gone down in these countries. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization of 188 countries that works for fostering the global monetary cooperation, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, facilitate international trade, secure financial stability and reduce poverty around the world. FDI Inflow Decreased to Two-Year Low in November 2012

The inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) in India decreased to around 2-year low at 1.05 billion US dollar in November 2012 because of uncertainties of the global economies. Back in November 2011, the FDI was worth 2.53 billion US dollar. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) announced that from April-November period 2012-13, inflows of FDI decreased by around 31 percent to 15.84 billion US dollar from 22.83 billion US dollar in 2011-12. The reason why inflow of FDI decreased was because of the issues arising in the global economic scenario. Economic slowdown as well as absence of political consensus on FDI-associated issues is the main causes of decline in FDI inflow. During 2012-2013, the sectors which remained on the positive side of the FDI inflows included services, hotel and tourism, metallurgical, construction and automobile. In India, maximum FDI inflow came from Mauritius (USD 7.2 billion), Japan (USD 1.56 billion), Singapore (USD 1.5 billion) the Netherlands (USD 1.09 billion) and the UK (USD 615 million). The FDI declined to a low level earlier in January 2011 when the inflow was recorded to be 1.04 billion dollar. Foreign direct investments play a very crucial role in Indias economy. India has a requirement of FDI inflow of around 1 trillion US dollar in next 5 years time so that it can refurbish infrastructure sectors like highways, airports and ports. Decrease in the FDI inflow will pressurize the balance of payment of the country, while also impacting the Rupee. IMF: World Economic Growth Rate would be 3.5 percent in 2013

International Monetary Fund (IMF) in at update to World Economic Outlook (WEO) on 23 January 2013, projected that the global economic growth rate would be 3.5 percent in 2013. The update mentioned that the global economic growth

would strengthen gradually as the limitations of the economic activities have seen a positive note with the start of the year. Some of the major projections of IMF are o o o Global growth would reach 3.5 percent in 2013, from 3.2 percent in 2012 Crisis risks would narrow down but the downside risks will remain crucial Main sources of growth would be the emerging markets, developing countries and the United States

Government

to

auction

700

Mhz

spectrum

for

4G

services

next

year

The government on 21 January said it will auction spectrum in 700 Mhz band, which is used for offering high-speed Internet services through fourth generation technologies, in 2014. "We are going to auction the 700 band in any case by 2014," Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said during the commissioning of country's first lab for measuring specific absorption rate (SAR) for mobile handsets. The 700-Mhz spectrum band ranges from 698 Mhz to 806 Mhz and has been identified by the International Telecommunication Union for telecom services. "We have set up a lab in the country so that mobile phones can be tested here for electromagnetic radiations," Sibal said. He added more such labs will be set up across the country starting with Mumbai. Aiming at providing hygienic condition at rail premises, the Railways on 22 January, has decided to undertake cleanliness drive at about 100 important stations across the country and equip maximum number of coaches with bio-toilets. Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has written to General Managers of all zonal railways to ensure cleanliness at 100 stations with more than 10 lakh population and with religious and tourists importance. The stations have been identified for taking up cleanliness drive in the first phase, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said at the Consultative Committee meeting held in New Delhi on 22 January. The agenda of the meeting was 'Railways ongoing projects'. Bansal said that more and more coaches will be provided with bio-toilets and the washing aprons are being provided at the stations. Emphasising on cleanliness, he also informed the committee that a team of officers of Railway Board will be formed who will go around the country to undertake inspections to ensure cleanliness. Referring to the catering services, the minister said that efforts are on to provide quality catering services at station and in running trains. The committee was informed that new tenders are being floated and base kitchens are being constructed to cook food in the most hygienic environment. Expressing concern over the accidents at unmanned level crossings, Bansal said that railways is constantly working to eliminate such crossings and cooperation of state governments is being sought in this regard. State Bank of India (SBI) will open its second branch in China in the north-eastern port city of Tianjin in February, to cater to the growing trade with India, particularly from the northern part of the country. While Chinas more prosperous southern provinces drive much of the annual $66 billion bilateral trade, SBI officials believe the increasing trade from northern China and particularly through the fast-developing trade hub of Tianjin will provide a platform to grow the operations of the banks second China branch. SBI is also considering opening a third office i n the

southern port city of Guangzhou. SBI Shanghai, in 2010, became the first Indian bank to acquire a licence from Chinese authorities to do business in the local Renminbi (RMB) currency. Dinesh Sharma, CEO of the SBI Shanghai Branch, said the Tianjin branch would open towards the end of February. Under Chinese rules, banks have to go through a five-year waiting period before they can acquire an RMB licence. The Tianjin branch will open with $47 million capital. SBI Shanghai operates with $76 million capital, including 300 million RMB. Union Government of India increased Import Duty on Gold and Platinum by 2 Percent The Union Government of India on 21 January 2013 hiked the import duty on Gold and Platinum from 4 percent to 6 percent. The step of the Government came in effect to control the import of the precious metals leading a widening gap in the Current Account Deficit of the country as the import of gold has shown tumbling effects on different economic fronts and has also played a major role in distortion of the balance of trade. The Government has also linked the Gold ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) along with the Gold Deposit Schemes, so that the supply of the physical gold in the market can be increased. These regulations and increased in the import duty would also show changes on the customs duty as well as the excise duty of gold ores, refined gold, gold dore bars and more. Within a year, the import duty on gold has been hiked for third time. Before this, the government increased the duty on import of gold from 1 percent to 2 percent in January 2012 and it doubled the import duty on standard gold from 2 percent to 4 percent in March 2012. The Apparel Training & Design Centre (ATDC) under the Education & Training Initiatives of Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) is going to set up Indias first Technology Innovation Research Centre at the ATDC-Training of Trainers Academy, Gurgaon, in collaboration with JUKI India Pvt. Ltd. This Centre will demonstrate leading edge technologies and undertaking applied research. The ATDC-JUKI TECH Innovation Centre is an important initiative to strengthen the Apparel Industry, especially the SMEs, to adopt new technologies for increasing productivity, efficiency and quality for better price realisation and better global competitiveness. The Centre will be launched by Textiles Secretary Smt. Kiran Dhingra, IAS on 17 January. The ATDC-JUKI TECH Innovation Centre will be a platform where industry and academia can focus on showcasing and demonstrating leading edge technology and carrying out applied Research which is a key word in SMART (Skills for Manufacturing of Apparel through Research and Training). Applied Research combined with technology training can become a potent force to catalyse advancement of apparel production techniques and praxis, that would be relevant for Indias apparel manufacturing environment. Amidst a string of varying growth numbers being projected by multilateral institutions, a report by the United Nations has estimated the Indian economy to grow by 6.1 per cent in 2013, marking a recovery from the decade-old slowest pace of 5.5 per cent in 2012. The UN, in its report titled World economic situation and prospects 2013 (WESP), released in New Delhi on 16 January, said: GDP growth in India will accelerate to 6.1 per cent in 2013 and 6.5 per cent in 2014 as a result of stronger growth of exports and capital investment... Investment demand is expected to respond to a more accommodative monetary policy stance and slightly improved business confidence. The WESP noted that Indias economy, representing almost three quarters of the South Asian regions GDP (gross domestic product), slowed markedly in the past years with annual growth declining from more than 9 per cent in

2010 to 5.5 per cent in 2012, the slowest pace in 10 years. Releasing the report, United Nations ESCAP (Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) Chief Economist Nagesh Kumar, however, viewed that India had a huge growth potential in the long term. India and China are playing a major role in the growth of world economy, he said. As for the South Asian region as a whole, the report pointed out that economic growth during 2012 also fell to its lowest pace in a decade. After growing by 5.8 per cent in 2011 Sout h Asias gross domestic product expanded by only 4.4 per cent in 2012. The Implementation of GAAR deferred by 2 Years, to Come into Force from 1April 2016 The implementation of General Anti Avoidance Rules (GAAR) was deferred by two years by the government of India. It will now come into force from 1 April 2016. Earlier, the provisions of GAAR were to be implemented from 1 April 2014. GAAR will not apply to those Foreign Institutions Investors, FIIs who are not taking any benefit under an agreement under the Income Tax Act. Besides, it will also not apply to non-resident investors in FIIs. The Parthasarathi Shome Committee in its final report submitted to Finance ministry on 30 September 2012 had suggested that GAAR should be deferred by three years. The report was made public on 14 January 2013. Union Government accepted major recommendations of the Shome Committee with some modifications. Shome Committee was set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in July 2012 to address the issue of GAAR. Ban on export of processed food products lifted

Cabinet committee on economic affairs, on17 January, lifted ban on exports of processed foods and value added agricultural products. These include wheat of muslin flour, cereal flours, grouts, meal pellets and grains, milk products including casein and its products, butter and other fat derivatives from milk and dairy spread, cheese and curd and value added products of onion and peanut butter. The move will give a push to Indias sagging merchandise exports and is estimated to add $5 billion to exports over the next two year with West Asia identified as a key market for processed food from India. Besides, it will help Indian exporters to move up the value chain as well as create additional employment in the country. At present, Indias major agricultural exports comprises of raw or primary produce and unprocessed or semi processed agriculture commodities, which are susceptible to restrictions owing to various reasons such as bad weather conditions, deficient or delayed ra infall and food security issues. The exports of processed and value added products constitute a very miniscule portion of the overall exports, and hence their continuation would not affect the availability in the domestic market owing to very marginal processing capacity in the country. Always open policy of this sector will not only help reduce wastage of perishable products but also encourage value addition, a statement from CCEA said. For long, there has been no consistent policy on exports of agricultural products in India, as a result of which the overseas buyers were reluctant to import from India to meet their domestic requirement year-afteryear. Even for the raw or primary agricultural products, India has been adopting switch-on and switch-off approach citing issues of domestic food security. Industry experts feel that the decision will now bring clarity on Indias stand on exports of processed food and agricultural products and help generate additional exports in coming years. Union Cabinet Approved 50 Percent Reduction in the Reserve Prices for CDMA Spectrum The Union Government on 17 January 2013 approved a 50 per cent reduction in the reserve price of spectrum used by

CDMA mobile operators. Spectrum auction, for both GSM and CDMA, is supposed to be completed by 31 March 2013 and thereafter the markets will decide how much revenue the government will get. With the reduction of reserve price to 50 percent pan-India 5MHz of 800 MHz spectrum (CDMA radio waves) will now cost 9100 crore rupees. It was witnessed that auction of CDMA spectrum that took place in November 2012 did not attract bidders due to high reserve price. The reserve price set was 11 times higher than what operators paid in 2008. Earlier CDMA spectrum price fixed by government was priced at 1.3 times more than the GSM spectrum in 1800 Mhz band. The Cabinet has already approved a 30 per cent cut in the reserve price of 1,800 MHz band spectrum used for offering GSM services. The Supreme Court has recently allowed the companies whose licences were cancelled to continue operations till 4 February 2013 when the government is supposed to inform it of the final reserve or minimum price for the spectrum sale. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on 10 January, approved the disinvestment of 10 percent paid up equity in Engineers India Ltd. (EIL) out of its equity capital holding of 80.40 percent through a prospectus based Further Public Offering (FPO), in the domestic market as per SEBI Rules and Regulations. After this disinvestment, Government of Indias shareholding in the company would come down to 70.40 percent. The paid up equity capital of the company, as on 31st March, 2012 is Rs.168.47 crore. EIL is a listed Mini-Ratna Central Public Sector Enterprise under the administrative control of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. It is one of Indias largest companies to provide design, engineering and related project management and consultancy services for the hydrocarbon sector and the process plants industry in the country. Dr M Veerappa Moily, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, launched on11 january, new IT/web enabled initiatives to make distribution of domestic LPG more customer friendly and enhance transparency. Speaking on the occasion, he said, currently, the three OMCs together home-deliver over 30 lakh cylinders everyday across the length and breadth of the country, including far-flung areas like Leh and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, making it a mammoth and challenging marketing exercise. The Government of India has launched new initiatives, Project Lakshya, in the LPG business focusing on greater customer empowerment, better subsidy administration, enhanced transparency in the distribution chain; along with a slew of IT-based customer service initiatives. With the launch of Transparency portal, the Minister said, customers have already been empowered to know their consumption and enabled civil society activists to look through and flag anomalies in the distribution of LPG cylinders. This effort has started bearing fruit. The Union Cabinet on10 January 2013 approved a proposal of infusing 12517 crores rupees in public sector banks so that bank could enhance the lending activity and meet the capital adequacy norms. As per the Finance Minister P Chidambaram about 9-10 public sector banks are going to be benefitted from the capital infusion programme. Also, the name of the banks, the amount for each bank and terms of the conditions will be decided in consultation with them at the time of infusion. The government is supposed to Provide capital funds to PSBs during the year 2012-13 to the tune of 12517 crore to maintain their Tier-l CRAR (capital to risk-weighted assets ratio) at comfortable level. The need for that is to make the PSU remain obedient with the stricter capital adequacy norms under BASEL-III as well as to support internationally active PSBs for their national and international banking operations

undertaken through their subsidiaries and associates. In principle approval of the Cabinet is accorded for need based additional capital infusion in PSBs from the year 2013-14 to 2018-19 for ensuring compliance to Capital Adequacy norms under Basel- III. Empowered Group of Ministers decided to Auction four Telecom Circles in 1800 MHz Band The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on 7 January 2013 decided to auction the four telecom circles in 1800 MHz band, which failed to win bidders in the November 2012 auction. The EGoM also decided to reduce the reserve price fixed in November by 30 percent. The auction is planned in March 2013. Of the 1800 MHz Band the quantum of spectrum that would be put forward for auction in different states and cities are 15 MHz in Mumbai and Delhi and 10 MHz in Rajasthan and Karnataka. There also are provisions of getting an extra topping of 3.75 MHz as was in November 2012 SEBI notifies regulations to set up SRO for MF distributors

In a move to regulate mutual fund distribution business, SEBI on 9 January said it has notified regulations to set up a Self Regulatory Organisation (SRO) to monitor distributors of mutual fund and portfolio management products.The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) hereby appoints the date of this notification as the date on which the regulations shall come into force in relation to distributors engaged by asset management companies of mutual funds and distributors engaged by portfolio managers , the regulator said in its notification dated January 8.In August, last year, SEBI in its board meeting had approved the proposal made by its Mutual Fund Advisory Committee (MFAC), to set up an SRO to regulate the Mutual Fund distribution business. The decisions followed concerns about mutual fund distributors in India not being regulated and there having been various complaints against them for mis-selling of products to the investors. Presently, the distributors need to register with Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) and their registration can be cancelled by AMFI for violation of a prescribed Code of Conduct or for any other malafide practice. Fitch's threat of India's rating downgrade fails to ruffle govt

Fitch Ratings has warned that India still faced the risk of a sovereign credit rating downgrade despite the wave of reform measures announced in September last year, and has said that the upcoming budget will indicate the government's commitment to fiscal consolidation. But the government brushed aside the warning, saying it was taking steps to address the concerns of rating agencies. Standard & Poor's also had last month reiterated the possibility of a downgrade and on 8 January, Fitch warned that the twin deficits, on the fiscal and current account, were cause for concern. In June last year, Fitch had revised the outlook on India's BBB- rating to negative, joining S&P that had in April said that India might become the first BRIC nation to lose the coveted investment grade rating. Any downgrade will send India's sovereign debt into junk grade, which could weaken capital flows and raise the cost of borrowing overseas for Indian companies. Proposing a major overhaul of corporate governance norms for listed companies, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has suggested an omnibus set of measures that align pay of top-level executives in companies with their performance and providing greater powers to minority shareholders. It also makes it

necessary to expand the size of the boards by excluding nominee directors from the definition of independent directors. SEBI has also proposed a new concept of Corporate Governance Rating by in dependent rating agencies to monitor the level of compliance by companies and regular inspection by the Sebi and stock exchanges. The measures incorporate the Adi Godrej committee report, the Companies Bill 2012 and Sebis own corporate governance guidelin es in one document. Sebi said institutional investors should show more involvement in the boards where they have nominee directors instead of just protecting their investments. Sebi has proposed to exclude the nominee directors from the category of independent directors to align the provisions of Clause 49 with the bill. Government mulling steps to reduce gold import: FM

The government is considering steps to reduce gold import by making it more expensive, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on 2 January. "Demand for gold must be moderated...We may be left with no choice but to make it more expensive to import gold. The matter is under government consideration," he told. Gold import is a major constituent of India's rising Current Account Deficit (CAD). The CAD, which represents the difference between exports and imports after considering cash remittances and payment, widened to a record high of 5.4 percent of GDP, or USD 22.3 billion, in the July-September quarter. In value terms, gold imports stood at USD 20.2 billion in the AprilSeptember period of the current fiscal, a decline of 30.3 percent over the corresponding period a year ago. For the entire 2011-12 fiscal, gold imports stood at USD 56.2 billion. The decline was mainly on account of increase in customs duty on gold imports by government in January and March 2012. Mukesh Ambani 18th richest man in world: Report

Indian business magnate Mukesh Ambani is the 18th richest person in the world with a personal wealth of $24.7 billion in 2012, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world's 100 wealthiest individuals. Mexican telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim remained the world's richest person last year holding a personal fortune of more than $70 billion, it said. Ambani, 55, chairman & MD of Reliance Industries, has also retained his position as the world's richest Indian for the sixth year in a row and increased his ranking from 19th to 18th position and personal wealth from $21 billion to $24.7 billion in the world, the Index showed. The world's top 100 billionaires got even richer in 2012, with their total wealth rising by around 15% to $1.81 trillion, it said. Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the founder of fashion retailer Zara, Amancio Ortega, rounded out the top three spots, with wealth estimated just over and just under $60 billion, respectively. Renowned investor Warren Buffett slipped to fourth place, but added around $5 billion to his fortune over the year despite donating a substantial amount to charity last year. IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad saw his net worth rising 16.6% to approximately $40 billion, putting him in fifth place on Bloomberg's billionaire index. 5 pc cut in defence budget

The government has imposed around five per cent cut in the Rs 1.93lakh-crore defence budget this year in view of economic slowdown. The Ministry of Finance recently conveyed to the Defence Ministry that there would be a cut of around Rs 10,000 crore in the Rs 1.93 lakh crore allocated for the defence sector, Ministry officials said here. After the cut in budget, several key acquisition plans of the three forces including the procurement of 126 combat aircraft for the

IAF are expected to be pushed for the next fiscal, they said. Defence Minister A K Antony had given indications in this regard recently when he said that the Ministry would be struggling to get even the allocated amount. Union Government Doubled 12th Plan Outlay for Science and Technology Ministry

Union Science and Technology Minister S. Jaipal Reddy on 4 Jan uary 2013 declared that the Centres allocation for the science and technology and earth sciences ministry had been doubled for the 12th Plan period. The declaration came in the inauguration ceremony of Children Science Congress as part of the 100th Indian Science Congress where Jaipal Reddy announced that in the 12th Five-Year Plan, the combined planned allocation for science and technology and earth sciences had been nearly doubled from 33000 crore rupees in the previous Plan period to around 60000 crore rupees in the present 12th plan period.The Minister S. Jaipal Reddy also stressed on the newly announced Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, and recommended that the policy would emphasise on the importance of greater innovation and suggested that there is a need for integrating science, research and innovation to develop valuable technologies.

Persons
S. N. Ananthasubramanian- a Fellow Member of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) has been elected as the President of the Institute w.e.f 19th January 2013. Harish K. Vaid, also a Fellow Member of the Institute, has been elected as the Vice President. Ananthasubramanian has been in practice as a Company Secretary at Thane since 1991. He has contributed to the visibility and growth of the profession as member of ICSIWIRC between 2001 and 2006. As its Chairman in 2005, he was actively associated in ICSI-NSE Collaboration towards the inclusion of Corporate Governance Module in National Certificate in Financial Markets (NCFM) and as its Secretary, facilitated the formation of Thane Chapter of ICSI in 2003. Shri Ananthasubramanian was a member of various Committees of the Council of the ICSI including the Core Group for formulating the ICSI-Vision 2020. Rahul Gandhi Rahul gandhi was formally elevated to the number two position in the Congress party on 19 January after being appointed its vice-president, but his role in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls would be decided later. The anointment of the 42-year-old leader nine years after he entered politics was formalised at the meeting of the party's highest policy making body, the Congress working committee (CWC), which unanimously adopted a resolution for this moved by defence minister AK Antony.The decision ends prolonged speculation about a bigger role for Rahul, so far one of the 11 general secretaries of the Congress. The speculation focussed on the possibility of his being made working president or secretary general of the party. Sri Lankan President Kicked Out First Woman Chief Justice of the Country over Graft Mahinda Rajapaksa, the President of Sri Lanka, on 13 January 2013 kicked out the first woman chief justice of the country, Shirani Bandarnayake after endorsing her impeachment by the Parliament that caught her guilty on the corruption charges. It is worth noticing that Bandarnayake was fired despite widespread protests by the lawyers as well as others. Bandarnayake, 54, was given the notice in which the President ordered her to move down from the post. This happened two days after the Parliament in Sri Lanka voted to put her on trial, widening the face-off between the government and the judiciary. Impeaching Bandarnayake was initially declared unconstitutional by the courts. In the

meanwhile, the finding by parliamentary committee which had found her guilty was cancelled. The parliamentary committee had declared on 8 December 2012, that Bandarnayake was guilty of 3 charges out of 14. The impeachment proceedings were held against her, which were moved by ruling UPFA coalition legislators. The three charges in which she was held guilty were those of financial impropriety which were based on non-declaration of the assets. Mohan Peiris-Sri Lankas president Mahinda Rajapaksa on 15 January swore in Mohan Peiris, a retired attorney general and a legal adviser to the Cabinet, as Chief Justice of Srilankaafter his nominee was approved by a parliamentary council on 15 january.On14 January, Rajapaksa dismissed Chief Justice Shirani

Bandaranayake after a parliamentary committee found her guilty of having unexplained wealth and misuse of power. Wie Wei-China on 16 January appointed career diplomat Wei Wei, its current envoy to Singapore, as the country's new Ambassador to India, succeeding Zhang Yan. President Hu Jintao has appointed Wei Wei, 57, as China's new ambassador to India, replacing Zhang, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.Hu made the appointment in line with a decision made by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature. Tahir-ul Qadri- The Canada-returned cleric led thousands of the protestors in Pakistan and rallied in Islamabad for the third consecutive day on 16 January 2013. Qadri asked the government to quit as well as dissolve the provincial and national assemblies on 16 January 2013. The demand is electoral reforms, among others. In his speech, Qadri who marched on 14 January 2013 to Islamabad with thousands of supporters to protest near the Parliament in Pakistan outlined four major demands, which included electoral reforms as per the Constitution before the elections as well as reconstitution of Election Commission. On 16 January 2013, Qadris protests leveraged as the apex court passed an order for arresting Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on the corruption charges associated with power projects. Tahir-ul Qadri has in a way triggered the political emergency in Pakistan. Qadri is Thehrik-eMinhajul Quran leader who is protesting for a corruption-free Pakistan. Halimah Yacob (58) - Halimah Yacob became the first woman Speaker of the Singapore Parliament on 14 January 2013. She replaced Michael Palmer, the former People's Action Party MP. Palmer got down from the post of Speaker of the Parliament and as an MP on 12 December 2012. Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong nominated her for the designation of speaker. Halimah Yacob came down from her post of Minister of State (Social and Family Development) and was elected as the Speaker by Members of Parliament. Halimah Yacob, 58, is an Indianorigin woman born in Singapore. She belongs to the People's Action Party. New chief for Southern Command

Lt Gen Ashok Singh will take over as Pune-based Southern Army Commander, replacing Lt Gen A K Singh who is superannuating on January 31. Lt Gen Ashok Singh is at present the Commandant of NDA. Prior to his present appointment, he had also commanded the elite 1 Strike Corps in Mathura and held various important command and Staff appointments. He is a graduate of Defence Services Staff College, Wellington. He is an alumnus of the 45th NDA course

Justice D.K.Jain- Union Government of India on 7 January 2012 appointed Justice D.K. Jain as Chairman of the 20th Law Commission of India. Justice Jain would take on the chair of the Chairman of the Law Commission on 24 January 2012 after he retires of a Judge of Supreme Court on the same day. The Law Commission is responsible for offering advices on complex issues to the Government. He would be heading the commission as its chief for a period of three-years from the date of being in the office. The 20th Law Commission of India was constituted with the Order of the Government of India with effect from 1 September 2012. The functioning of the commission would end on 31 August 2012. The commission would be responsible for identification of obsolete laws and suggest measures suitable for quick grievance handling and redressal of the citizens. It would also be examining the laws that effects poor and suggest measures which would help in harnessing the law and the legal process for the economically weaker and poor section of the society. Ravindra Dholakia-The Ministry of Civil Aviation on 3 January 2013 constituted a five-member committee to look into and suggest the measures that can be taken for cost cutting as well as optimal utilization of resources in Air India. The committee would be headed by Prof. Ravindra Dholkia of IIM, Ahmadabad. The Ministry has provided a two months time to Prof. Dholkia and the committee to submit its report along with interim recommendations, for immediate implementation. Rajiv Takru is new Financial Services Secretary

Rajiv Takru, now Additional Secretary and Financial Advisor in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has been appointed as Financial Services Secretary in the Finance Ministry. A promotion for the 1979-batch IAS officer (Gujarat cadre), Mr. Takru will take over as Secretary, Department of Financial Services, from Dinesh Kumar Mittal, who retires on January 31. According to official release on 9 January, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also approved the appointment of Ravi Mathur as Secretary, Department of Disinvestment, under the Ministry of Finance. A 1979-batch IAS officer (Rajasthan cadre) and now Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr. Mathur will fill the vacancy in the Department of Disinvestment following the retirement of Mohammad Haleem Khan as Secretary. The ACC also appointed Prof K. Vijayraghavan, Director, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, as Secretary, Department of Biotechnology. M S Gopalakrishnan (82)-Veteran violinist M S Gopalakrishnan died in Chennai on 3 January following a brief illness. Awarded with Padma Bhushan among others, Gopalakrishnan's career spanned over seven decades during which he was known for his deep knowledge of Carnatic and Hindustani music. His contemporaries include Lalgudi G Jayaraman and TN Krishnan. Y.V. Reddy to head 14th Finance Commission

Former RBI Governor Y.V. Reddy will be the Chairman of 14th Finance Commission, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said on 2 January. The Finance Commission has been asked to submit its report by October 31, 2014. Finance Commission, a constitutional body, is set up every five years. Besides other things, the Commission lays down principles governing the grants-in-aid to states and other local bodies for a five-year period beginning April 1, 2014. Prior to

joining RBI as its Governor in September 2003, Mr. Reddy was Indias Executive Director on the Board of the International Monetary Fund. The 13th Finance Commission was headed by former Finance Secretary Vijay Kelkar. Syed Asif Ibrahim, Alok Joshi new chiefs of Intelligence Bureau, RAW respectively

Syed Asif Ibrahim and Alok Joshi on1 January took over as new chiefs of the country's top snoop agencies Intelligence Bureau and Research and Analysis Wing. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had cleared their names in November. 59-year-old Ibrahim is the first Muslim to lead the internal intelligence agency of the country. A 1977-batch IPS officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre, Ibrahim was appointed as OSD in the Intelligence Bureau last month. He today took over as its Director after incumbent Nehchal Sandhu retired yesterday. Ibrahim, who joined as a Special Director in the organisation after his return from London where he served as Minister (Coordination), has been with the IB for nearly three decades. He has served the agency in various capacities handling operations, Kashmir, Naxal, security and cyber security. He was also Private Secretary to late Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia and PDP patron Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. Joshi, who took over as RAW chief, is a 1976 batch officer of Haryana cadre. He has earlier served as Special Secretary in the agency besides occupying other important positions. The Appointments Committee of Cabinet had approved Joshi's appointment for a period of two years or until further orders, whichever is earlier, in place of present incumbent SK Tripathi, whose tenure completed on December 29. Joshi has served in Intelligence Bureau and Haryana Police with key operations in Nepal and Pakistan to his credit. S. Ramakrishnan took over as Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre o o o Before Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre he served as director (project) at VSSC and Chairman of Flight readiness review panel o o o o He played a major role in accomplishing the PSLV C-11/Chandrayaan Mission He was hounoured with a Padma Shri in 2003 He served as the Mission Director for PSLV C1, C2, C3 and C4 flights He played a major role in helping India accomplish its first satellite Launch Vehicle SLV-3 He is an expert in aerospace propulsion, launch vehicle systems and project management

Urjit

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Urjit Patel was appointed as the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India on 3 January 2013. Urjit Patel succeeds Subir Gokarn, who handled Monetary Policy in RBI. The three-year term of Subir Gokarn terminated in November 2012 but he was given an extension that ended finally on 31 December 2012. Urjit Patel was chosen over current Deputy Governor Subir Gokarn and International Monetary Fund (IMF) economist Kalpana Kochhar. There are in all four Deputy Governor Posts in RBI. With the termination of term of Subir Gokarn, one post was vacant. Urjit Patel is an

economist with hawkish point of view on inflation. He authored a research paper called Dynamics of Inflation Herding: Decoding India's Inflationary Process along with Gangadhar Darbha, ED, and Nomura. PM Manmohan Singh Became the 19th Most Followed Leader on Twitter

As per Digital Policy Council (DPC), PM Manmohan Singh became the 19th most followed leader of the world on Twitter. PM Manmohan Singh is ahead of David Cameron and Julia Gillard, both of who were left behind in less than 12 months time. The latest study conducted by Digital Policy Council (DPC) concluded that leaders of politically-unstable states or fragile states considered social media threatening but Manmohan Singh and India were an exception to this fact. Singh ranked 19th with 342612 followers. US President Barrack Obama topped the list with 24611982 followers. Second on the list was President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez with 3802177 followers. Nevertheless, Manmohan Singh has more followers on Twitter than Prime Ministers of Canada, Australia and UK. DPC provides its analysis about government institutions and world leaders who make use of the social media sites for connecting with the citizens. The latest study conducted by DPC proves that 75 percent of the heads of countries were making use of Twitter. The study about the ranks of leaders of states on Twitter also considers the factor of state fragility and this is what forms a negative point for Manmohan Singh because India ranks very poorly on this factor. Manmohan Singh is depicted as the leader of a state which is among politically unstable nations. The state fragility includes factors such as changes in the important policies, factionalism, auto-coups as well as state failure.

Science & Technology


Construction of the worlds largest optical telescope by a five -nation consortium including India is expected to start next year with Indian scientists making a significant contribution in developing its key components. The Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT),dubbed as the worlds most advanced ground -based observatory, will be built at the summit of Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii at a cost of $1.2 billion. The TMT Governing Board ended its two-day meeting in New delhi on 22 January, where it reviewed the status of the project and the contributions to be made by partner nations India, China, Japan, Canada and the US . The TMT will be 81 times more sensitive than the current telescopes of its kind, said TMT Governing Board vice -chairman Edward Stone. TMT Project Manager Gary Sanders said 15% of the 492 mirror segments, each 1.44 m in size, will be fabricated in India. India has decided to go it alone in its second lunar mission, the Chandrayaan-2, which was originally proposed as an Indo-Russian venture. This was disclosed on 21 January by S.V.S. Murty of the Planetary Exploration Group of the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), an institution under the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) .Dr. Murty was speaking on Indias lunar and Mars missions at the ongoing workshop on exoplanets at the laboratory located in Ahmedabad. According to an agreement signed on November 12, 2007 between ISRO and Roskosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency, ISRO had the primary responsibility to provide both the orbiter and the rover, while Roskosmos was to design and build the lander for this combined orbiter-rover-lander mission. However, following the failure in December 2011 of Roskosmos Phobos -Grunt mission, there was a delay in the construction of the Russian lander. The mission had a lander to return soil sample from the Martian satellite

Phobos. This resulted in a complete review of technical aspects connected with the Phobos-Grunt mission, which were also used in the lunar projects such as the lander for Chandrayaan-2. Due to this, as well as financial problems, the Russian agency apparently expressed its inability to provide the lander to meet even the revised time frame of 2015 for the Chandrayaan-2 launch. Dr. Murty stated that the cancellation of the Russian lander also meant that mission profile had to be marginally changed. The design of the indigenous lander and the preliminary configuration study was completed by the Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad, he said. Chandrayaan-2 will have five primary payloads on the orbiter, two of which will be improvements on instruments that were onboard Chandrayaan-1.In addition, the rover too will carry two additional instruments. Chandrayaan-2 will be launched by a GSLV powered by an indigenous cryogenic engine. A new state-of-the art, anti-radiation missile that can target enemy radars and communication facilities is being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). At present there is no such missile in Indias arsenal, while some advanced countries, including the US, Israel and Russia, have such a weapon, top DRDO sources told the media. The government recently gave the go-ahead for the project, and the design work has already begun at one of the key DRDO laboratories. Sources added that in any war scenario, radar and communication facilities of the enemy would be the first target.The new air-to-surface 100-km range tactical missile picks up radiation or signals emitted by radars and communication systems, homes on to the target and destroys the network. The missiles front-end comprises a sensor to pick up various radio frequencies. The missile is expected to be ready in the next three to five years. After a series of developmental trials, it will be integrated with fighter aircraft, including Sukhoi and Light Combat Aircraft. The Naval offshore patrol vessel (NOPV) INS Saryu was formally commissioned into the Indian Navy on 22 January. The commissioning was done by air marshal P K Roy, commander-in-chief Andaman and Nicobar command, at the Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) in Vasco. The first in the series of four new class of NOPVs designed and built by the GSL for the Indian Navy, the state-of-the-art ship will be based at Andaman and will be tasked with protecting India's strategic maritime interests and assets in the region . Besides ocean, surveillance and surface warfare operations to prevent infiltration and protect maritime sovereignty the ship will monitor sea lines of communication, defence of offshore oil installations and other assets. The 105m INS Saryu is powered by twin SEMT Pielstick diesel engines and is equipped with the latest navigation, communication and radar equipment. Its weapons systems include a 76mm super rapid gun mount and two 30mm close-in weapon system guns as well as six chaff launchers. President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the 28th Congress of the Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology at Hyderabad on 17 January. Speaking on the occasion, the President said as stated in the Vision 2020 document of WHO, the problem of blindness can only be combated through increased political commitment, professional commitment, provision of high quality eye care, increasing public awareness and support of nongovernmental organizations and private sector. Private sector companies and government institutions should join hands to fight blindness and visual impairment. The private sector companies should not consider this a burden but as a way of

discharging their social obligations. The President said he is confident that the Congress would find solutions for providing greater medical access to the needy. He also hoped that the technical sessions would provide the necessary platform for knowledge sharing and information dissemination. India on 27 January, made a major stride towards completing its nuclear triad capability by successfully test firing a nuclear-capable ballistic missile K-5, from an underwater platform in Bay of Bengal. Completion of the nuclear triad will give India the ability to fire nuclear-tipped missiles from land, air and sea. This is the first missile in the underwater category to have been fully developed by India and can be launched from a submarine. The medium range K-5 ballistic missile was test fired successfully from an underwater pontoon and all parameters of the test firing were met," Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief V K Saraswat told the press. Officials said more than 10 trials of the missile had been carried out earlier. Only a select few nations including the US, France, Russia and China have this type of missile capability. The development phase of the K-5 missile, which comes in the category of submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), was over and it was now ready for deployment on various platforms including the around 6,000-tonne indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant which is under development.K-5 is part of the family of underwater missiles being developed by DRDO for the Indian strategic forces' underwater platforms. The missile, which is also known as BO5, has been developed by DRDO's Hyderabad-based Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL).This missile will help India to achieve the capability of launching nuclear warheads from underwater facilities. So far, India had the capability of delivering nuclear weapons from land and aerial platforms only. The 54th All India Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology began in Mumbai on 17 January. Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare was the Chief Guest at the inaugural programme. Addressing the function, Mr. Azad said Maternal and Child Health has received utmost priority from the Health Ministry. There has been a significant decline in MMR, IMR and TFR in India. The current MMR as per the latest Sample Registration Survey is 212 per 100,000 live-births and the IMR is 44 per 1,000 live births. However, the current pace of decline needs to be further accelerated to achieve the commitments on the millennium development goals. About 28 million pregnancies occur along with an estimated 56,000 maternal deaths in India every year. It may be mentioned that the All India Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AICOG) is the important annual event on the academic calendar of the Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI) involved with womens health. Gynecologists and medical experts from India and abroad participate in the academic event. The programme includes pre-congress workshops, continuous medical education sessions, detailed scientific sessions, free paper and poster presentations. FOGSI is the professional organization representing practitioners of obstetrics and gynecology in India. With 219 member societies and over 27,000 individual members spread over the length and breadth of the country, FOGSI is one of the largest membership based organizations of specialized professionals. FOGSI has close links and affiliation with international and regional organizations like FIGO, AOFOG and SAFOG. The Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoEF ) in its endeavor to promote Non Timber Forest based Handicrafts, Herbal/Health/Cosmetic Medicinal & Food items (Forest/Argo/Biodiversity food) is organising 15 Days program:

GREEN HAAT with primary objective of Connecting nature with our lives. The event would be organized in New Delhi from 16th January 2013. It will continue till 31st January 2013. Green Haat is an initiative of Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoEF), Govt. of India to raise awareness on the rich forest and bio diverse heritage of the country among the growing urban population often living far off from the forests. The initiative is to showcase various value added forest based products developed by Rural Artisans, Community Self Help Groups, NGOs, and State Federations and thus provide support to biodiversity conservation and sustainable livelihoods. The first Green Haat was organized on the eve of World Environment Day 2011 where India played as a Global Host. Union Minister for science & Technology and Earth Sciences S.Jaipal Reddy has inaugurated the Weather Services of IMD on Mobile in a glittering function organised to mark the 138th Foundation Day of India Metrological Department (IMD) in New Delhi on 15 January. Mr. Reddy while commending the commend the progress made by the IMD in different fields of atmospheric science said the increased needs of the society for timely, authentic and directly usable information on weather and climate have thrown up new challenges before us. It calls for enhanced efforts in the field of atmospheric observations, analysis and weather forecasting. Appreciating the efforts of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) in bringing all concerned organisations under the umbrella of Earth System Science Organisation (ESSO) for understanding the complex interactions among key elements of the EARTH SYSTEM the minister said the co-ordinated efforts of the ESSO are now clearly visible in improving observational system and enhancing the weather forecasting capabilities. However, the dedicated services for specialised sectors such as agriculture, aviation, power etc developed by IMD need to be extended to other weather sensitive economic activities. Shailesh Nayak, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences said IMD has taken a new initiative in the development of an application called Indian-Weather for smart phones and TABS based on android. This application is freely downloadable through goggle play available on the home screen of android based smart phones and tabs. The occasion also marked the foundation of IMD as on this day of Mr. H. F. Blanford assumed his office as Imperial Meteorological Reporter on 15th January, 1875. The day is being celebrated with a view to highlight the achievements of the Department and to promote awareness about new initiatives taken and also to focus on the future plans for improving the weather and climate services of the Department. A centre of excellence specialising in reading space weather conditions to help air traffic on polar routes would come up in Kolkata by the middle of this year(2013), the first of its kind in the country. Besides air traffic on polar routes, the centre would help in the functioning of GPS networks and mobile satellites placed in space. Scientists said coronal mass ejections (CME) and solar flares were two kinds of storms originating from the sun that exposed flights to immense amounts of radiation over Polar Regions. Several commercial flights from south Asia, Europe and North America flew over the Polar Regions to cut short time and distance. They said if the weather in the solar system was not good it would impact the functioning of satellites, which in turn would have an adverse effect on the GPS system and mobile networks. The centre, approved by the Union HRD ministry, would come up at the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER) campus. The ministry has sanctioned Rs four crore for it.

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The European Space Agency released surprising pictures of the remains of huge river which ran across the Red Planet, Mars at some point of time, on 17 January 2013. The images which were captured by the ESAs Mars Express showed Reull Vallis, the river-like structure, which is believed to have formed when water ran from the surface of Mars in distant past. The Reull Vallis, cut a steep-sided channel through Promethei Terra Highlands and then ran towards the floor of huge Hellas basin. The structure which surprised the astronomers stretches for around 900 miles or 1500 km across the Martian surface and also shows various tributaries. One of the tributaries was seen cutting the main valley towards the upper side in the north. Experts from ESA opined that these images displayed a resemblance with the morphology which is found in various areas affected by glaciation on Earth. Planetary scientists, in the meanwhile opined that images represented the presence of high water or the glacial levels on Mars, before the water or ice evaporated. ESA described that the sides of Reull Vallis were mainly sharp as well as steep in the images captures by the Mars Express. The parallel longitudinal features covered floor of the channel. The structures like these were believed to be formed due to passage of loose ice or debris during Amazonian period because of the glacial flow along the channel. These structures, it is believed, were formed somewhere around 3.5 billion years ago. The lineated structures like these, which were rich in ice, were also found in the surrounding craters. Such images were useful because they provided the scientists and astronomers a glimpse into the past of the Red Planet. President of India on 13 January, launched the National Immunization Day, 2013 by administering polio drops to children at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Speaking on the historic occasion, Ghulam Nabi Azad said that he was extremely happy to inform the august gathering, that day is a momentous day for the whole country, as India had completed two years without any case of wild polio virus. On 25th February 2012, the World Health Organization removed India from the list of polio endemic countries , which was a historical achievement since there was a perception among many experts that India would be the last country to eradicate polio. This was more so because, until 2009, India accounted for half of the total polio cases in the world. To mitigate the risk, we need to continue to protect every child up to the age of 5 years with the polio vaccine, till polio is eradicated globally. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria still continue to be polio endemic countries in the world. Ajad also says, I would like to mention here that to deal with any case of polio importation, we have put in place an Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan which we are committed to implement in all States across the country. Under this plan, a case of poliovirus anywhere in the country will be treated as a public health emergency. Rapid Response Teams have been formed in all the States and Union Territories, to effectively respond to any case of polio importation. The focus of the Ministry and the partners continues to be on the most vulnerable migrant, mobile populations, youngest children and under-served populations, which remain at the highest risk of contracting the disease. I am happy to inform you that the Nation-wide Immunization campaign for Polio Eradication will start on 20st January 2013, in which more than 170 million children of less than 5 years of age will be given polio drops. More than 23 lakh volunteers will participate in this massive national effort, with more than 1.5 lakh supervisors monitoring the quality and coverage of the Immunization activity.

Indian Coast Guard Ship ICGS-Rajkamal, the fourth in the series of eight Inshore Patrol Vessels (IPVs) designed and built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers, Kolkata, was commissioned at Chennai by the Minister of State for Defence Shri Jitendra Singh on 8 January. The 50 meter indigenous IPV displaces 300 tones and can achieve a maximum speed of 34 knots, with an endurance of 1500 nautical miles at an economical speed of 16 knots. Equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry and advanced communication and navigational equipment, it makes an ideal platform for undertaking multifarious close-coast missions such as surveillance, interdiction, Search and Rescue, and medical evacuation. The special features of the ship include an Integrated Bridge Management System (IBMS), Integrated Machinery Control System (IMCS) and an integrated gun mount with indigenous Fire Control system (FCS). ICGS "Rajkamal", literally meaning "Royal Lotus", will be based at Chennai and will be under the administrative and operational control of the Commander, Coast Guard Region (East).The ship is commanded by Commandant Ravindra Kumar and has a crew of 05 Officers and 30 Enrolled Personnel. The ship will enhance the Indian Coast Guards capability to undertake operations to further Maritime Safety and Security and Coastal Security on the Eastern Seaboard. With the commissioning of ICGS Rajkamal, the force level of ICG has gone up to 77 ships and boats and with the planned inductions the force level would be doubling by 2018. India is expected to start building the world's largest solar telescope on the icy heights of Ladakh to study the sun's atmosphere and understand the formation of sunspots and their decay process. The Rs 300-crore project is expected to come up at either Hanle or Merak, which is very near to the Ladakh's Pangong lake along the Line of Actual Control with China. Currently, the world's largest solar telescope is the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope with an aperture size of 1.6 metres in Kitt Peak National Observatory at Arizona in the US "Fabrication of the National Large Solar Telescope is expected to begin in late 2013," Siraj Hasan, Principal Investigator for the project, told reporters on the sidelines of the 100th Indian Science Congress in Kolkatta. Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics is the nodal agency for the project, which also has participation from Indian Space Research Organisation, Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, IUCAA, IISc and IISER. Internet Turns 30 Years Old

The Internet, a revolutionary and cheap communications system that has transformed the lives of billions of people across the world, turned 30 on 1 January 2013. The computer network officially began its technological revolution when it fully substituted previous networking systems on January 1 1983. Known as "flag day", it was the first time the US Department of Defence (DoD)-commissioned ARPANET network fully switched to use of the Internet protocol suite (IPS) communications system. Using data "packet-switching", the new method of linking computers paved the way for the arrival of the World Wide Web. "I don't think that anybody making that switch on the day would have realised the importance of what they were doing," the Daily Telegraph quoted Chris Edwards, an electronics correspondent for Engineering and Technology magazine, as saying. "But without it the Internet and the World Wide Web as we know them could not have happened." Commenting on the historic event's impact on the world, Edwards said: "The Internet means there is nowhere and no one in the world you can't reach easily and cheaply.''

Based on designs by Welsh scientist Donald Davies, the ARPANET network began as a military project in the late 1960s. It was developed at prestigious American universities and research laboratories, such as the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Stanford Research Institute. Starting in 1973, work on the powerful and flexible IPS and Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) technology which would change mass communications got under way. The new systems were designed to replace the more vulnerable Network Control Program (NCP) used previously, making sure the network was not exposed to a single point of failure. This meant a single attack could not bring it down, making it safer and more reliable, the report said. By January 1 1983, the substitution of the older system for the new Internet protocol had been completed and the Internet was born. British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee was then able to use it to host the system of interlinked hypertext documents he invented in 1989, known as the World Wide Web. Indias Mars exploration mission by Oct

Indias tryst with Mars will begin in October to explore the red planets atmosphere and search for life -sustaining elements, a top space official said on 4 January. We are trying very hard and by mid -October we are expecting to launch the Mars mission, said J.N. Goswami, in-charge of the exploration mission. Speaking on the sidelines of the Indian Science Congress in Kolkata, Mr. Goswami said the mission is yet to get an official name. The Rs.470-crore mission will demonstrate Indias capability to launch a spacecraft on a 55 million km journey from earth and look for life-sustaining elements from 500 km over the Martian surface.

The mission has a very specific science objective as we want to study the atmosphere of Mars. This mission will explore things which have not been done previously by other countries, said Mr. Goswami, director of Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad. The Indian space agency plans to use a high-end rocket (PSLV-XL) to launch the 1.4-tonne Martian spacecraft from its Sriharikota spaceport, about 80 km northeast of Chennai, with five instruments to study various aspects of the red planet. The Mars mission will allow India to join the elite club of five top nations comprising the US, Russia, Europe, China and Japan which have launched similar missions. As the fourth planet from the Sun and smallest celestial object in the solar system, Mars is terrestrial with breath-taking valleys, deserts, craters and volcanoes in a thin atmosphere. Named after the Roman god of war, the red planet has many similarities with Earth like the rotation period and seasonal cycles. Researchers: Siachen Glacier Shrinking Due to Increasing Temperatures

The researchers claimed that the Siachen Glacier reduced to 5.9 km in its longitudinal extent from the time period of 1989 to 2009. This happened because of increasing temperatures. The researchers additionally also believed that presence of humans on Siachen would affect other neighbouring glaciers such as Milan, Janapa, Miyar and Gangotri which are a source to Chenab, Sutlej and Ganges river. Hindukush, Karakoram and Himalaya actually form the largest mountain chain on this planet. They are also keepers of the third-largest ice reserves only after Polar Regions. The glaciers found in these mountains feed a population of 1.7 billion via seven huge Asian river systems which also include Brahmaputra, Mekong, Yangtze, Ganges and Indus. Siachen is largest mountain glacier of the world, which is 70 km in length and 5-10 km in width. The satellite pictures revealed that the glacier was shrinking. It is even worse that the satellite images displayed increasing numbers as well as sizes of blue lakes in glacier. The main cause of Siachen

shrinking is construction of the helipads as well as frequent flights of helicopters which loosen packed snows leading to avalanches. Snow scooters also cause the same. Most of the experts believe the fact that saving these glaciers is actually the scientific challenge which needs attention immediately.

Sports
Novak Djokovic of Serbia defeated Andy Murray of UK in four sets to win Australian Open2013 final held in Melbourne. It was Djokoviks third consecutive Australian Open titleand fourth overall. In 2012, Djokovic had started with an epic 5-hour, 53-minute five-set win over Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open, the longest Grand Slam final. Djokovic won his first major title in 2008 Australian Open. He now has six Grand Slam titles altogether. Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on 26 January 2013 won the Womens Singles title of the Australian Open Tennis tournament at Melbourne by defeating Li Na of China, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the final to win the title for the second successive time. Top seeded American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan won the men's doubles title. Americans Mike and Bob Bryan won their record 13th Grand Slam doubles title, defeating the Dutch team of Robin Haase and Igor Sijsling 6-3, 6-4. Fauja Singh(101), the oldest marathon runner of the world decided to stop running in the competitions after Hong Kong marathon which will be held in February 2013. However, before the Hong Kong marathon, Singh will be running in the Australia marathon as well. Fauja Singh is also popularly known as the Turbaned Tornado in all the international events. Though Fauja Singh announced his retirement from marathon, but he admitted that he would keep running for inspiring the masses. Fauja Singh was born on 1 April 1911. Fauja was also felicitated at the Buckingham Palace by the queen in London on December 7, 2005. Indian Grandmaster MR Lalith Babu emerged the winner of the CSK 5th Chennai Open International Grandmasters Chess Tournament when he scored a crucial win over Swapnil Dhopade in the final round on 23 January. Grandmaster Lu Shanglei of China became the runner-up of the event as he outwitted Russian Grandmaster Anderi Deviatkin.Though both Lalith Babu and Lu Shanglei were tied with nine points each, Lalith Babu emerged champion because of superior tie-break.Indian Grandmaster B Adhiban annexed the third place with 8.5 points. The prizes totalling Rs 10 lakh were distributed in a grand function. K Shankar, President, Shipping Division, India Cements Ltd., representing the sponsors -- Chennai Super Kings -- distributed the prizes to the winners. Kohli became the Quickest Indian and Second at World Level to complete 4000 ODI Runs The Indian Cricketer and the right handed batsman Virat Kohli on 19 January 2013 completed his 4000 runs in One day International cricket tournament. He is the 12th Indian batsman and 84th at world level to reach this milestone. By scoring these runs in just 93 innings, he became the first quickest from India and second at world level to accomplish this milestone. Viv Richards, the West Indies player reached this milestone in 88 innings in the year 1985 and is placed at the 1st position in the list of crickets to touch the mark of 4000 runs in less number of innings. Both Richards and

Kohli played in 96 matches to reach the score. Before Kohli, the former Indian Captain Sourav Ganguly had this record of scoring the fastest 4000 runs in ODI in 110 matches and 105 innings. Defending champion Kerala defeated Tamil Nadu 25-22, 25-23, 25-23 to retain the mens title in the 61st National volleyball championship in Jaipur on 15 January. In the womens final, Kerala tried its best, but could not make much of an impression onRailways, which clinched its 28th title in the championship. Saina Nehwal, the Olympics bronze medalist on 17 January 2013 clinched her career best second rank in the latest rankings released by the Badminton World Federation (BWF). To clinch the second position in the latest rankings released, Saina scored 80091.7444 points and is leaded by the Chinese Li Xuerui, who has 94626.7153 points by her name.Parupalli Kashyap the quarterfinalist in London Olympics was also successful in clinching his career best tenth position in mens list and he has 51986.6900 points by her name. Kashyap is the only Indian player to be within the list of top-25 players in the BWF list. Saina Nehwal regained her world number two position after an interval of two years. For the first time, she achieved this position in December 2010. The International Olympics Committee (IOC) on 17 January 2013 asked the popular Cyclist Lance Armstrong facing the charges of doping to return the Olympic Bronze Medal and Certificate of 2000 Sydney Games. The IOC wrote a letter to the defamed Cyclist and the winner of seven times Tour de France and asked him to return back the bronze medal and the certificate that accompanied it fo r the mens time trial event. Lance Armstrong is a cyclist, who used performance enhancing drugs and banned substances IOC asked Armstrong to return the Sydney Olympic Bronze Medal

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) on 17 January 2013 asked the all time popular Cyclist Lance Armstrong facing the charges of doping to return the Olympic Bronze Medal and Certificate of 2000 Sydney Games. The IOC wrote a letter to the defamed Cyclist and the winner of seven times Tour de France and asked him to return back the bronze medal and the certificate that accompanied it for the mens time trial event. The dominoes continue to fall for Lance Armstrong, with the International Olympic Committee formally requesting that the disgraced cyclist return his Olympic bauble from the 2000 Sydney Games. Lionel Messi added yet another record to his stellar list of achievements over the past 12 months on 8 January, when he won an unprecedented fourth, consecutive, Ballon d'Or at a FIFA gala in Zurich . Messi received a vote share of 41.60 percent to 23.68 for Ronaldo and 10.91 for Iniesta. Messi and former French star, UEFA president Michel Platini, had been the only players to win three straight Ballon d'Or awards while Dutch greats Johan Cruyff and Marco Van Basten both won the accolade on three occasions. Spain's Vicente del Bosque was named coach of the year for 2012.Messi finished 2012 with an astonishing 91 goals in all competitions. Andy Murray, the third seeded Scottish tennis player retained his Brisbane International Tennis Title after defeating the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov on 6 January 2013. Murray defeated Dimitrov by 7-6 and 6-4 in straight sets.

Australian pace legend Glenn McGrath was on 4 January, inducted into the International Cricket Councils Hall of Fame, making him its 68th male member.McGrath was formally inducted during the lunch interval of the ongoing third Test between Australia and Sri Lanka in Sydney. McGrath joins fellow 2012-13 inductees West Indian Brian Lara and Englands Enid Bakewell in being recognised by the ICC and the living members of the Hall of Fame. While Lara and Bakewell were inducted in September at the ICC Awards, McGrath was inducted at his home ground of the SCG by ICC President Alan Isaac, along with Cricket Australia chairman Wally Edwards in front of a large and appreciative crowd. McGrath represented Australia in 124 Test matches between 1993 and 2007 claiming 563 Test wickets at an average of 21.64. He has taken more Test wickets than any other seam bowler currently in the game or retired. When McGrath retired from the game in 2007 he had represented Australia in 250 ODIs, claiming 381 wickets at an average of 22.02 while he took over 800 first-class wickets in his career. Serena Williams won the WTA Brisbane International on 5 January with a straight sets demolition of Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Serena defeated the world no. 36 6-2, 6-1 in just over an hour to win her 16th consecutive match - her 52nd win in her last 54 matches and her 47th career title. Serena now heads into the Australian Open as the odds on favourite. She already has 5 singles titles in Melbourne and will be aiming for her 16th grand slam title. Andy Murray defended Brisbane International title by defeating Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 76, 64 on 6 january,2013. Murray began his breakthrough season in 2012 by winning in Brisbane and followed that up later with titles at the London Olympics and U.S. Open. Sania Mirza and her partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands won the WTA Brisbane International trophy by winning against Kveta Peschke and Anna-Lena Groenefeld on 6 January. The second seeded Indo-American pair crashed the fourth seeded rivals by 4-6 6-4 10-7. It was Sania's first doubles title of the season while 15th of her career. Young India batsman Virat Kohli on 4 January bagged the International Cricketer of the Year award while Pakistan was named as the Best International Cricket Team in the 2011-2012 season at the CEAT cricket awards. Another former Pakistan batting great Zaheer Abbas received the Lifetime Achievement Award. In the special India-Pakistan award category, legendary Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar lifted the Best Test Batsman trophy while former Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq was honoured with the Best ODI Batsman award.The 1983India's World Cup winning captain Kapil dev was adjudged the Best Test bowler, Akram received the award Best ODI bowler award. EAT Audience Choice Awards 2011-2012 went jointly to former Pakistan opener Saeed Anwar and Indian opener Virender Sehwag. Serbian world number nine Janko Tipsarevic by defeating the Spaniard Roberto Bautista-Agut clinched the Chennai Open on 6 January. Tipsarevic beat the unseeded 24-year old Spaniard by 3-6 6-1 6-3.

Awards
Senior Indian diplomat D. Bala Venkatesh Varma , a key member of the negotiating team that saw the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal through from the first agreement of July 2005 down to the Additional Protocol in 2010, was given the

first S.K. Singh award for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen India's position in the global nuclear order by UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi at a high-profile function held in New Delhi on 4 January. The award for excellence in the Indian Foreign Service is named after the former foreign secretary and Governor, Shailendra Kumar Singh, a diplomat widely respected within the IFS community for his acumen, professionalism and leadership. Mr. Varma was selected as the first recipient of the prestigious award by a top-drawer jury consisting of Vice President Hamid Ansari, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, Ms Gandhi and Congress M.P. Rahul Gandhi. 58th Idea Filmfare Awards were given away on 20 January 2013 at YRF Studio, Andheri. At the 58th Idea Filmfare Awards, Barfi!, the much-acclaimed film grabbed seven awards while, Kahaani bagged five awards. The award for the Best Actor was given toRanbir Kapoor for his deaf-mute performance in Barfi! Vidya Balan, on the other hand was adjudged as the Best Actress for Kahaani. Barfi! was awarded with the Best Filmaward, while Kahaanis director Sujoy Ghosh won the Black Lady for the Best Director. The lifetime achievement award was given away to Yash Chopra posthumously. Yash Chopras wife Pamela collected this award on his behalf.

The other awards areo o o o o o o o o o o o Critics Award for Best Actor: Irrfan Khan for Paan Singh Tomar (Director: Tigmanshu Dhulia) Critics Award for Best Film: Gangs of Wasseypur (Director: Anurag Singh Kashyap ) Critics Award for Best Actor (Female): Richa Chadda for Gangs of Wasseypur Best Lyricist: Gulzar for Challa (Jab Tak Hai Jaan: Director Yash Chopra) Best Music Director: Pritam for Barfi! Best Background Score: Pritam for Barfi! Best Production Design: Rajat Podar for Barfi! Best Playback (Female): Shalmali Kholgade for the song Pareshaan Best Playback (Male): Ayushmann Khurrana for the song Pani da Rang Lifetime Achievement Award -Yash Chopra Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Female): Anushka Sharma (Jab Tak Hai Jaan) Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Male): Annu Kapoor (Vicky Donor)

Charles Wright, professor emeritus of the English departments Creative writing programme in the University of Virginias college of Arts and Sciences, has won the 2013 Bollingen Prize for American Poetry . Wright taught at U.Va. for almost 30 years, retiring in 2011, and is one of Americas most celebrated poets. The Bollingen Prize in American Poetry is among the most prestigious prizes given to American writers. Established by Paul Mellon in 1949, it is awarded biennially by the Yale University Library to an American poet for the best book published during the previous two years or for lifetime achievement in poetry. The prize includes a cash award of $150,000.The judges awarded Wright the Bollingen Prize for his 2011 book, Bye -and-Bye: Selected Late Poems, describing it as an extended

meditation in which we sense splinters of the divine in the phenomena and cyclic changes of the natural world, and in the elusive reaches of memory, myth, and history. President has approved the conferment of 108 Padma Awards. These comprise 4 Padma Vibhushan, 24 Padma Bhushan and 80 Padma Shri Awards. 24 of the awardees are women and the list also includes 11 persons in the category of Foreigners, NRIs, PIOs and Posthumous awardees. Padma Awards, the countrys highest civilian awards, are conferred in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. The awards are announced on Republic Day every year. The awards are conferred by the President of India at a function held at Rashtrapati Bhawan sometime around March/ April.

Padma Vibhushan

Sl No. 1. 2. 3. 4.

Name Shri Raghunath Mohapatra Shri S. Haider Raza Prof. Yash Pal Prof. Roddam Narasimha

Discipline Art Art Science and Engineering Science and Engineering

State/ Domicile Orissa Delhi Uttar Pradesh Karnataka

Padma Bhushan

Sl No. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

Name Dr. Ramanaidu Daggubati Smt. Sreeramamurthy Janaki Dr. (Smt.) Kanak Rele Smt. Sharmila Tagore Dr. (Smt.) Saroja Vaidyanathan Shri Abdul Rashid Khan Late Rajesh Khanna Late Jaspal Singh Bhatti Shri Shivajirao Girdhar Patil Dr. Apathukatha Sivathanu Pillai Dr. Vijay Kumar Saraswat Dr. Ashoke Sen Dr. B.N. Suresh

Discipline Art Art Art Art Art Art Art Art Public Affairs Science and Engineering Science and Engineering Science and Engineering Science and Engineering

State/ Domicile Andhra Pradesh Tamil Nadu Maharashtra Delhi Delhi West Bengal Maharashtra Punjab Maharashtra Delhi Delhi Uttar Pradesh Karnataka

14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24.

Prof. Satya N. Atluri Prof. Jogesh Chandra Pati Shri Ramamurthy Thyagarajan Shri Adi Burjor Godrej Dr. Nandkishore Shamrao Laud Shri Mangesh Padgaonkar Prof. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak Shri Hemendra Singh Panwar Dr. Maharaj Kishan Bhan Shri Rahul Dravid Ms. H. Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom

Science and Engineering Science and Engineering Trade and Industry Trade and Industry Medicine Literature & Education Literature & Education Civil Service Civil Service Sports Sports

USA USA Tamil Nadu Maharashtra Maharashtra Maharashtra USA Madhya Pradesh Delhi Karnataka Manipur

Padma Shri

SlNo. Name 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. Shri Gajam Anjaiah Swami G.C.D. Bharti alias Bharati Bandhu Ms. B. Jayashree Smt. Sridevi Kapoor Shri Kailash Chandra Meher Shri Brahmdeo Ram Pandit Shri Vishwanath Dinkar Patekar alias Nana Patekar Shri Rekandar Nageswara Rao alias Surabhi Babji Shri Lakshmi Narayana Sathiraju Smt. Jaymala Shiledar Shri Suresh Dattatray Talwalkar Shri P. Madhavan Nair alias Madhu Shri Apurba Kishore Bir Shri Ghanakanta Bora Borbayan Smt. Hilda Mit Lepcha Smt. Sudha Malhotra

Discipline Art Art Art Art Art Art Art Art Art Art Art Art Art Art Art Art

State/ Domicile Andhra Pradesh Chhattisgarh Karnataka Maharashtra Orissa Maharashtra Maharashtra Andhra Pradesh Tamil Nadu Maharashtra Maharashtra Kerala Maharashtra Assam Sikkim Maharashtra

17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47.

Shri Ghulam Mohammad Saznawaz Shri Ramesh Gopaldas Sippy Ms. Mahrukh Tarapor Shri Balwant Thakur Shri Puran Das Baul Shri Rajendra Tikku Shri Pablo Bartholomew Shri S. Shakir Ali Sh. S.K.M Maeilanandhan Ms. Nileema Mishra Ms. Reema Nanavati Ms. Jharna Dhara Chowdhury Late Dr. Ram Krishan Late Manju Bharat Ram Prof. Mustansir Barma Shri Avinash Chander Prof. Sanjay Govind Dhande Prof. (Dr.) Sankar Kumar Pal Prof. Deepak B. Phatak Dr. Mudundi Ramakrishna Raju Prof. Ajay K. Sood Prof. Krishnaswamy Vijayraghavan Dr. Manindra Agrawal Dr. Jayaraman Gowrishankar Prof. Sharad Pandurang Kale Smt. Vandana Luthra Ms. Rajshree Pathy Shri Hemendra Prasad Barooah Shri Milind Kamble Ms. Kalpana Saroj Dr. Sudarshan K. Aggarwal

Art Art Art Art Art Art Art Art Social Work Social Work Social Work Social Work Social Work Social Work Science and Engineering Science and Engineering Science and Engineering Science and Engineering Science and Engineering Science and Engineering Science and Engineering Science and Engineering Science and Engineering Science and Engineering Science and Engineering Trade and Industry Trade and Industry Trade and Industry Trade and Industry Trade and Industry Medicine

Jammu and Kashm Maharashtra Maharashtra

Jammu & Kashmir West Bengal

Jammu & Kashmir Delhi Rajasthan Tamil Nadu Maharashtra Gujarat Bangladesh Uttar Pradesh Delhi Maharashtra Delhi Uttar Pradesh West Bengal Maharashtra Andhra Pradesh Karnataka Karnataka Uttar Pradesh Andhra Pradesh Maharashtra Delhi Tamil Nadu Assam Maharashtra Maharashtra Delhi

48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69. 70. 71. 72. 73. 74. 75. 76. 77. 78.

Dr. C. Venkata S. Ram alias Chitta Venkata Sundara Ram Dr. Rajendra Achyut Badwe Dr. Taraprasad Das Prof. (Dr.) T.V. Devarajan Prof. (Dr.) Saroj Chooramani Gopal Dr. Pramod Kumar Julka Dr. Gulshan Rai Khatri Dr. Ganesh Kumar Mani Dr. Amit Prabhakar Maydeo Dr. Sundaram Natarajan Prof. Krishna Chandra Chunekar Dr. Vishwa Kumar Gupta Prof. (Capt.) Dr. Mohammad Sharaf-e-Alam Dr. Radhika Herzberger Shri J. Malsawma Shri Devendra Patel Dr. Rama Kant Shukla Prof. Akhtarul Wasey Prof. Anvita Abbi Shri Nida Fazli Shri Surender Kumar Sharma Dr. Jagdish Prasad Singh Late Shaukat Riaz Kapoor Alias Salik Lakhnawi Prof. Noboru Karashima Shri Christopher Pinney Smt. Premlata Agrawal Shri Yogeshwar Dutt Shri Hosanagara Nagarajegowda Girisha Subedar Major Vijay Kumar Shri Ngangom Dingko Singh Naib Subedar Bajrang Lal Takhar

Medicine Medicine Medicine Medicine Medicine Medicine Medicine Medicine Medicine Medicine Medicine Medicine Literature & Education Literature & Education Literature & Education Literature & Education Literature & Education Literature & Education Literature & Education Literature & Education Literature & Education Literature & Education Literature & Education Literature & Education Literature & Education Sports Sports Sports Sports Sports Sports

Andhra Pradesh Maharashtra Orissa Tamil Nadu Uttar Pradesh Delhi Delhi Delhi Maharashtra Maharashtra Uttar Pradesh Delhi Bihar Andhra Pradesh Mizoram Gujarat Delhi Delhi Delhi Madhya Pradesh Delhi Bihar West Bengal Japan UK Jharkhand Haryana Karnataka Himachal Pradesh Maharashtra Rajasthan

79. 80.

Ms. Ritu Kumar Dr. Ravindra Singh Bisht

Fashion Designing Archaeology

Delhi Uttar Pradesh

Major Abup J Manjali of the Rashtriya Rifles has been awarded the Kirti Chakra on this Republic Day for the exhibition of exceptional valor in counter- terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir. Manjali is the only soldier to be awarded the second- highest peacetime gallantry award Kirti Chakra on this Republic Day. Major Abup J Manjali of the Rashtriya Rifles was selected for the award of Kirti Chakra for his extraordinary bravery efforts in counter- terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir. Major Manjali will be awarded on 26 January 2013. Shaurya Chakra, on the other hand, is being given away to Major Sandeep Kumar of 13 Sikh Regiment for his bravery act in Northeast area. Noted Indian scientist Dr CNR Rao has been conferred with China's top science award for his important contributions in boosting China-India scientific cooperation. Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) on 24 January, gave its 2012 Award for International Scientific Cooperation to three scientists from India, Germany, and Russia. Rao, 79, founder of Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research ( JNCASR), Bangalore, shared the 2012 award with Herbert Jaeckle of Germany's Max Planck Society and Russian space physicist GA Zherebtsov. The awards are given every year by the CAS, which is China's top academic and research institution for natural sciences. It has so far honoured 17 international scientists for their contributions in China-foreign research cooperation, since the prize was instituted in 2007.Rao has won various prestigious awards. He is currently the head of the scientific advisory council to the Indian Prime Minister. The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 15 January, presented the lifetime achievement awards for the scientists in the field of Atomic energy to R.B. Grover , who played a key role in negotiating the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal, K. Balaramamoorthy, who developed non-destructive testing techniques, mathematician R. Balasubramanian, and S.K. Sikka, a key player in the nuclear tests of 1974 and 1998. Presenting the lifetime achievement awards of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) to four of its veteran scientists at a brief ceremony at his residence, Dr. Singh noted that the Department worked in one of the most complex, sophisticated and challenging areas of science, technology and engineering. He appreciated its scientists for working with unfailing commitment, dedication and skill, despite decades of facing international technology denial regimes. He urged the DAE to ensure that it continued to attract the best scientific minds among the younger generations and expressed hope that its scientists would continue to be guided by the basic goal of directing scientific activities to bring about an improvement in peoples quality of life .Dr. Singh paid special tributes to nuclear scientist and Principal Scientific Advisor to the government, R. Chidamabaram for guiding Indias atomic energy programme with such great distinction and said his [Dr. Chidambarams] life and work were a source of inspiration for all scientis ts and technologies in the country. President Pranab Mukherjee on 15 January, presented Krishi Karman Awards to eight States for their achievements in food grains production in 2011-12. Ten States were given commendation awards. Madhya Pradesh,

Tamil Nadu, Manipur and Nagaland received the awards for special contribution to total food grains production. Bihar received the award for contribution to production and productivity of rice, Haryana for wheat, Jharkhand for pulses and Uttar Pradesh for coarse cereals. Punjab, Uttarakhand, Assam, West Bengal, Tripura, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Himachal Pradesh received commendation awards. The awards were received by Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Manipur and Agriculture Ministers/ Agriculture Secretaries of other States. For the first time one female and one male farmer from the eight award winning States were also given awards for their outstanding performance. Krishi Karman Awards were instituted in 2010-11 for recognizing the meritorious efforts of States in food grain production. The awards are given to best performing States in two broad sets, one for the total food grain production and the other for individual food grain crops of rice, wheat, pulses and coarse cereals. States for total food grains category are further divided into three categories based on total food grain production capacity of the State. London-based Indian researcher Mahaveer Golechha has been selected for a prestigious award for his work on a drug to cure Alzheimers . The 27-year-old will be travelling in the month of February to San Francisco to receive the Alzheimers Drug Discovery Foundations Young Investigator Scholarship Award at the 7th Annual Drug Discovery for Neurodegeneration Conference .He has been recognised for his outstanding research on naringin, a bioflavonoid found in grape fruits and citrus fruits. In his study, he found that naringin possesses significant anti Alzheimer activity and will form the basis of further research t o develop as a cure for the degenerative disease related to old age, which worsens as its progresses and eventually leads to death. Alzheimers is a common form of dementia afflicting millions around the world and has no known cure at present. It is estimated that by 2025 at least 34 million people worldwide will be affected by the disease. Mahaveer is currently pursuing a Masters in Health Policy, Planning and Financing at the London School of Economics (LSE) and was recently elected director of external relations of the LSE Students Union India Society. Golden Globe Awards 2013: Argo Won Best Picture and Best Director Awards .

In the prestigious Golden Globe Awards 2013, the hostage-crisis movie Argo thrashedLincoln to bag best picture as well as best director awards on 13 January 2013. Les Miserables, on the other hand won the awards in best musical or comedy category with the actors Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman winning one trophy each. The award-winning movie Argo is actually inspired by 1979 crisis US diplomats in Iran. In the category of Best Drama, other nominees were Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty as well as Life of Pi. Lincoln which was leading the race with a total of seven nominations took away just the trophy of best actor which was awarded to Daniel Day-Lewis for his role as the 16 President of US. However, the film might have better opportunities at Oscars where it is running first with 12 nominations. The Golden Globe Awards 2013 also did not stand with Life of Pi and the film only took home a single award, the best original score by Mychael Danna.

List of Golden Globe Awards 2013 Winners: o o o Best Motion Picture-Drama: Argo Best Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy: Les Miserables Best performance by an actor in a motion picture Drama: Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)

o o o

Best performance by an actress in a motion picture Drama: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) Best performance by an actor in a motion picture- Musical or Comedy: Hugh Jackman (Les Misrables) Best performance by an actress in a motion picture- Musical or Comedy: Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)

o o o o o o o o o o o o

Best Director: Ben Affleck (Argo) Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway Best Television Series (Drama): Homeland Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series (Drama): Claire Danes (Homeland) Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series (Drama): Damian Lewis (Homeland) Best Screenplay: Adele - 'Skyfall' (Skyfall) Best Television Series (Comedy or Musical): Girls Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series (Comedy or Musical): Lena Dunham (Girls) Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series (Comedy or Musical): Don Cheadle (House of Lies) Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Game Change Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Julianne Moore (Game Change)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Kevin Costner (Hatfields & McCoys)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Ed Harris (Game Change)

o o

Best Original Score: Life of Pi Best Animated Feature Film: Brave

The other winners at the Golden Globe Awards 2013 were as follows: o Best Foreign Language Film: Amour (Austria, Les Films Du Losange, X Filme Creative Pool, Wega Film; Sony Pictures Classics) o o o Best Animated Feature Film: Brave Best Original Song: Skyfall, Adele from Skyfall Best Original Score: Mychael Danna, Life of Pi

Malala Yousafzai, 15, the schoolgirl from Pakistan shot by Taliban for campaigning girls education, on 9 January 2013 received France's Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women's Freedom in Paris. Malalas father Ziaudin Yousafzai received the honour on her behalf. The award is accompanied with 2.5 million Rupees honorarium. In the first week of January 2013, Malala Yousafzai got released from the British hospital. She is waiting for the reconstructive

surgery to be performed on the skull. Malala was shot by the Taliban in her head after her school bus drove through Mingora town of Swat Valley of Pakistan. Renault Duster was awarded the Car of the Year Award 2013 by the automotive magazine Autocar India at the annual awards night on 9 January 2013 in Mumbai. Autocar India gave away 22 awards in all, in the two-wheeler as well as four-wheeler segment.Renault Duster grabbed three awards in all and these were SUV of the year 2013 viewers choice car of the year 2013 and overall Autocar car of the year 2013. In the meanwhile, Mahindra and Mahindra were awarded with the Manufacturer of the Year Award 2013 and Bajaj KTM 200 Duke bagged the Autocar Bike of the Year 2013 and viewers choice Bike of the Year 2013. Irelands prestigious Tipperary International Peace Prize for 2012 was awarded on 3 January 2013 to Malala Yousafzai the teenage schoolgirl from Pakistan, who was shot by Talibans Gunman in October 2012.Malala, would be conferred with the award for her bravery, courage and determination to speak and support the cause of access to equal education for every child. With this award, Malala became the second Pakistani National to win the award. Before this, Lt. Benazir Bhutto was awarded with the same award in 2007. Malala was one among the five nominees, which included Sonia Gandhi, the Indian National Congress Party President and Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State. Well-known filmmaker Shyam Benegal has been chosen for the 8th annual Akkineni Nageswara Rao (ANR) national award by the ANR International foundation on 3 January at Hyderabad. The award carries a prize of Rs 5 lakh. Hemamalini, K Balachander, Lata Mangeshkar, Vyjayantimala Bali, Anjali Devi, Shabana Azmi and Dev Anand among others were recipients of this award earlier. Professor Joseph Stiglitz , Noble Laureate in Economics received the degree of Doctor of Science from Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan at the University of Hyderabad on 4 January. Muthunayagam and Saraswat to be awarded with Aryabhatta Award by the ASI

The Astronautical Society of India (ASI) in the last week of December 2012 announced names of former secretary of the Department of Ocean Development, Dr. A.E. Muthunayagam and Dr. V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister for prestigious Aryabhatta Award for the year 2010 and 2011 respectively. The two have been selected for the achievement in rocketry. Dr. G. Satheesh Reddy an associate Director of Research Centre Imarat Hyderabad and P. Kunhikrishnan of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO),

Thiruvananthapuram would receive ASI Awards for rocket and rocket related technologies for the year 2010 and 2011 respectively. Scientist Venkatesh Mannar honoured with Order of Canada Award

Venkatesh Mannar a Channai-born Scientist of Indian Origin and President, Micronutrient Initiative, Canada was awarded with Canadas Highest Civilian Award the Order of Canada in the last week of December 2012. Mannar, a Graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and a post graduate in chemical engineering from Northwestern

University, US, was honoured with the award for his forty years long contribution working towards reduction of debilitating micronutrient deficiencies among the worlds most vulnerable. Dr. P.R. Swarup conferred with EPC World Awards 2012 for Outstanding Contribution to HRD Dr. P.R. Swarup, Director General, Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC) has been conferred with the EPC world Awards 2012 under the category Special Achievement Awards in the field of Human Resource Development for the Indian Construction & Infrastructure Industry. The award ceremony was held on 15th December 2012 at hotel The Ashok, New Delhi. EPC World Media Group has been presenting the award for the past three years to recognize the qualitative & quantitative performance, innovation and strategic initiatives of the companies, individuals & projects in the field of Infrastructure & Construction sector in India. Irelands prestigious Tipperary International Peace Prize for 2012 awarded to Malala

Irelands prestigious Tipperary International Peace Prize for 2012 was awarded on 3 January 2013 to Malala Yousafzai the teenage schoolgirl from Pakistan, who was shot by Talibans Gunman in October 2012. Malala would be conferred with the award for her bravery, courage and determination to speak and support the cause of access to equal education for every child. With this award, Malala became the second Pakistani National to win the award. Before this, Lt. Benazir Bhutto was awarded with the same award in 2007. Malala was one among the five nominees, which included Sonia Gandhi, the Indian National Congress Party President and Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State.

February Current Affairs will be coming soon.