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French honour for first V-C of Vidyapeetha The awarding of the French Governments coveted title of Chevalier to noted Sanskrit scholar N.S. Ramanuja Tatacharya has been welcomed by his disciples in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. French ambassador to India Francois Richier formally presented the Ordre National de laLegion dhonneur to Dr.Tatacharya at Puducherry. The Chevalier title is the highest recognition to Sanskrit at the international level and it is yet another jewel on Dr. Tatacharyas already-dazzling crown, who is a recipient of a dozen awards and titles including the Presidents Certificate of Honour from the Government of India in 1986. Himachal to tag satellite collars on snow leopards Theyve been captured on camera. Wildlife officials now want to tag satellite collars on the elusive and highly endangered snow leopard in the steep and rocky cliffs of Himachal Pradeshs Spiti Valley, the countrys first collaring attempt on this wildcat species. The States Wildlife Department is already monitoring the snow leopards through cameras in the Spiti Valley, the states northernmost part which borders Tibet. The department, in partnership with Mysore-based Nature Conservation Foundation, has installed 60 camera traps (automatic cameras) in the valley. This (collar installation) is part of the Central Governments Snow Leopard Conservation Project which was launched in five trans-Himalayan States, including Himachal, in January 2009. The presence of a sizable population of prey species like the Asiatic ibex, a wild goat species, the Himalayan blue sheep and the wolf indicates the valley supports a good population of the wildcats. The snow leopard, a graceful golden-eyed animal with thick fur, padded paws and a long tail, is found in rocky regions at an altitude of 2,700 to 6,000 metres. Apart from the Spiti Valley, the States Pin Valley National Park, the Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary, the Great Himalayan National Park and the Pangi and Bharmour areas of Chamba district have a sizeable population of the snow leopard. Cash transfer finds place in Govt calendar The much-talked about Direct Cash Transfer Scheme is the first among the various Government schemes highlighted in the Government of India- Wall Calendar 2013 released. The calender based on the theme Bharat Nirman- Sabka hit, Sabka Haq, was released by the Department of Audio Visual Publicity. While the month of January displays the Aadhar-based Direct Cash Transfer Scheme, February shows PMs 15-point programme for welfare of minorities. March displays Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, April the - Mid Day Meal Scheme while Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGA) is the picture for the month of May. Immunisation (June), Saakshar Bharat Abhiyan (July), Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram (August), Empowerment of scheduled castes (September), Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (October), Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (November) and the Indira Awas Yojana (December) are the other schemes displayed in the calendar. Frank Noronha is chief of DAVP. Only 5 of 53 pvt varsities inspected by UGC in order In a poor reflection of the countrys regulatory mechanism in the education sector, the HRD Ministry has informed the Rajya Sabha that only five private universities of the 53 inspected by the UGC were found to be in order. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has inspected over a third of the 145 private universities in the country and found only five of them in order. Private universities can be established either by the Central Government by an Act of Parliament or by State Governments by an Act of State legislature. Bhanu Athaiya returns Oscar fearing theft Renowned Bollywood costume designer Bhanu Athaiya has returned her Oscar statuette, the first to be won by an Indian, to its original owner, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Los Angeles, for safekeeping fearing it could meet the same fate as Rabindranath Tagore's Nobel medal which was stolen. The statuettes were couriered in a special container and have been received by the Academy.

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CIA tortured and sodomised terror suspect CIA agents tortured a German citizen, sodomising, shackling, and beating him, as Macedonian state police looked on, said the European court of human rights in a historic judgement. In a unanimous ruling, it also found Macedonia guilty of torturing, abusing, and secretly imprisoning Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese origin allegedly linked to terrorist organisations. Mr. Masri was seized in Macedonia in December 2003 and handed over to a CIA rendition team at Skopje airport and secretly flown to Afghanistan. It is the first time the court has described CIA treatment meted out to terror suspects as torture. European Court of Human Rights unanimously found that Mr. el-Masri was subjected to forced disappearance, unlawful detention, extraordinary rendition outside any judicial process, and inhuman and degrading treatment. 90 nations sign Net treaty amid split Envoys from nearly 90 nations signed the first new U.N. telecommunications treaty since the Internet age, but the U.S. and other Western nations refused to join after claiming it endorses greater government control over cyberspace. The head of the U.N. telecoms group pushed back against U.S. assertions, defending the accord as necessary to help expand online services to poorer nations and add more voices to shape the direction of modern communications technology. The negotiations pitted the Wests desire to preserve the unregulated nature of the Net against developing countries yearning for better Web access and strongarm states such as Iran and China that closely filter cyberspace. Around 1.06 lakh people missing after war in Sri Lanka Author of a book on the internal conflict in Sri Lanka involving its armed forces and rebel LTTE said around 1.06 lakh persons were missing in LTTE-controlled areas after the war. Having worked as a BBC correspondent in Sri Lanka from 2000 to 2004, Frances Harrison said she had accessed World Bank population data in this regard to substantiate her claim. Harrison said she had accessed the World Bank data on population of Mullaitheevu, Kilinochi, Vavuniya and Mannaar in the island nation, which she said, revealed that 1.06 lakh persons were "missing" after the war. Author of the book "Still Counting the Dead," which is set to be released in Tamil soon, said it was based on tales of survivors including a former rebel, a nurse, a nun and a teacher, among others.

Business & Economy:

RBI extends deadline for new cheque standard The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has extended the deadline given to migrate to new-look cheques (CTS2010 Standard cheques), with more security and standardised features, to March 31, 2013. Earlier, it had set a December 31 deadline. Banks were in the process of issuing new-look cheques to all its customers by December 31, 2012. Cheque Truncation System (CTS)-2010 standard is a set of benchmarks towards achieving standardisation of cheques issued by banks across the country. These include provision of mandatory minimum security features on cheque forms such as quality of paper, watermark, banks logo in invisible ink, void pantograph and standardisation of field placements on cheques. IOC retains top slot in Fortune 500 India list Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is the biggest company in terms of revenue, followed by Reliance Industries, according to the Fortune 500 list of Indian companies for 2012. IOC is the biggest company with annual revenue of Rs.4,20,287 crore, followed by Mukesh Ambani-led RIL with a full-year revenue of Rs.3,67,539 crore. Bharat Petroleum Corporation is at the third spot with a revenue of Rs.2,14,866 crore. The three firms IOC, RIL and BPCL have retained their last years respective ranks. Hindustan Petroleum Corporation is ranked fourth with annual revenue of Rs.1,87,693 crore and State Bank of India is ranked fifth with Rs.1,77,033 crore revenue.

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CBEC cuts import tariff value of gold Central Board of Excise and Customs ( CBEC) has slashed the import tariff value of gold marginally to $550 per 10 grams amid weak global prices of the precious metal. The tariff value of silver has, however, been hiked marginally to $1,062 a kg. The tariff value is the base price on which the customs duty is determined to prevent under-invoicing. The import tariff value of brass scrap has been increased to $4069 from $4,029 a tonne in the review period. Delhi's Nehru Place among world's top 30 notorious IT markets Indian capital's famous Nehru Place market has been placed among the top 30 notorious IT markets of the world that deal in goods and services infringing on intellectual property rights. "Nehru Place is reportedly one of the many markets in major cities throughout India that are known for dealing in large volumes of pirated software, pirated optical media containing movies and music, and counterfeit goods," said US Trade Representatives (USTR). Among other internet and physical markets that exemplify marketplaces that deal in infringing goods and services, facilitating and sustaining global piracy and counterfeiting include Urdu Bazaars in Karachi and Lahore. However, China has the largest number of notorious markets listed in the report. Pratyush Kumar to head Boeing India US-based Boeing, a leading maker of airplanes, has named Pratyush Kumar as President of Boeing India. He succeeded Dinesh Keskar, who returned to Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Kumar, an IIT graduate, was Delhi-based president and CEO of GE Transportation for South Asia. Before joining GE in 2003, Kumar founded a biotech start-up in Boston. He began his career as a McKinsey and Company management consultant in its Atlanta and Delhi offices. Second biggest SIM card supplier in India A Chinese company has emerged as the second biggest supplier of SIM cards for mobile phones in India this year. The government-controlled Eastcompeace Technology is supplying the phone chips to Reliance Communications, Tata Teleservices, Airtel and Vodafone, besides providing SBI with smart cards. The company is the biggest player in Pakistan. Its India operation is the largest, with revenue worth $18 million followed by Pakistan ($9m), Russia ($6m) and South Africa ($4m).

Anjali clinches a bronze Anjali Bhagwat managed to win a bronze medal behind two Chinese who set a World record 400 out of 400 in womens air rifle in the fifth Asian Air Gun championship in Nanchang, China. Anjali had to fight it out for the bronze against another Chinese and won the medal by a 0.2 point margin, with a total of 500.4. She shot 397 in qualification and 103.4 in the final to outwit the Chinese Chang Jing who shot 398 in qualification but only 102.2 in the final. It was only her third Asian level medal for Anjali who had won the air rifle bronze in Nanjing in 2008 and the standard rifle prone silver in Langkawi in 2000. Ashour regains world crown Former champion Ramy Ashour regained the world title with a marathon 2-11, 11-6, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8 win over Egyptian compatriot Mohammed El Shorbagy. Earlier, Ashour was assured of the world No. 1 ranking after he beat defending champion Nick Matthew in the semifinals. The 21-year-old Shorbagy had beaten the topseeded world No. 1 James Willstrop in the semifinals. Narain and Karun win ROC Asia Indias Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok won the 2012 Race of Champions Asia and qualified for the Nations Cup where they will be in the same group as defending champion Germany, which has Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher in its ranks. Team India defeated Japan 2-0 in the final with four wins out of six races. Both the Indian drivers won three out of their four races. The ROC, being staged for the 25th consecutive year, brings together the worlds best drivers from motorsports main disciplines, including Formula One, world rally, touring cars, Le Mans, MotoGP, Indycar and the X-Games. The drivers battle it out head-to-head in identical machinery.

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