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Government panel to set poverty mark for rural schemes The Centre has set up an expert committee to determine the poverty mark to identify beneficiaries of rural development ministry's programmes. The committee, to be headed by Planning Commission member Abhijit Sen, will examine the figures of the socio-economic caste survey to decide who is below the poverty line in terms of deserving the rural welfare schemes focused on poor like Indira Awas Yojana, old-age pension and national rural livelihood mission. The committee, which is to give its report by March-end, includes Kirit Parikh, Mahendra Dev, Nikhil Dey, Dr Himanshu and P P Mitra. A historic rail link to Kashmir Valley Northern Railway made history as the first train chugged through Indias longest railway tunnel in the Pir Panjal mountain range, connecting Kashmir Valley to Banihal town on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway. The train services between Banihal and Kashmir Valley will start in February or March 2013 while the entire railway project connecting the Valley with the rest of the country will be completed by 2017. While the Baramulla-Srinagar-Qazigund link has been functional for the past four years, this was the first time that a train has crossed the mighty Pir Panjal Mountain range. The highlight of the Qazigund-Banihal link is the 11.21-km tunnel, the longest railway tunnel in India, which has reduced the distance between the two towns by half. The tunnel, which was constructed by Hindustan Construction Corporation (HCC), will reduce the travel distance between Qazigund and Banihal from 35 kilometres (by road) to just 17.5 kilometres (by train). The Pir Panjal tunnel, which is the second longest in Asia. The tunnel is 8.40 metres wide with a height of 7.39 metres. There is a provision of a three-metre-wide road along the length of the tunnel for the purpose of maintenance and emergency relief. Israel Grants Scholarships to 66 Outstanding Indian Researchers For the first programme of its kind time, almost 66 Indian Post-Doctoral Scholars will travel to Israel, to pursue research at top universities. The researchers will benefit from three-year scholarships granted by the government of that country. Panel submits probe report on Vadra's land deal A Haryana Government-appointed committee, that probed the orders of senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka cancelling the sale of over 3 acre of land to realty major DLF in a deal with Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi. The three-member committee, headed by Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue) Krishan Mohan, submitted its report to Haryana Chief Secretary PK Chaudhary. Khemka, as the then Director General Consolidation of Holdings and Land Records-cum-Inspector General of Registration, had ordered cancellation of the land deals.

China opens its first subway crossing Asia's longest river After launching the world's longest high-speed rail line, China has opened its subway line across the mighty Yangtze River to connect the two sides of Wuhan, the most populous city in Central China. The metro link passes through a 27-km tunnel linking Wuchang and Hanku, two major urban areas in Wuhan city, the capital of Hubei Province. The two stations are separated by the Yangtze River, China's longest waterway. The trains will only take three minutes to run under the Asia's longest Yangtze River. Yangtze is the world's third longest river. Putin OKs law to bar US adoption of Russian kids Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law controversial parliamentary legislation banning the adoption of Russian children by American families. The law - a retaliation for a United States law punishing Russian officials implicated in the 2009 prison death of the whistle-blowing attorney Sergei Magnitsky - will come into force on January 1,2013.

Page 1 of 2 29th December 2012

Business & Economy:

Raman takes over as whole-time member of SEBI The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), has appointed S. Raman as its whole-time member for five years. Before his appointment as whole-time member, Mr. Raman served as Chairman and Managing Director of Canara Bank from September, 2010, to September, 2012. Three DTH players pull the plug on ESPN, Star Cricket HD channels Three of the countrys six direct-to-home (DTH) service providers have stopped showing high definition channels Star Cricket and ESPN ahead of the much anticipated India-Pakistan series. Airtel Digital TV, Sun Direct and Dish TV have stopped these channels on their platforms alleging hike in prices. Airtel Digital TV, the DTH service arm of Bharti Airtel, has also stopped showing the standard versions of ESPN, Star Cricket and Star Sports on its platform for some of its customers.

India is runner-up India lost 4-5 to Pakistan in a high-scoring final of the second Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament.

Page 2 of 2 29th December 2012