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Current Affairs

2013

Current Affairs from Jan 2013 to Sep 2013

Contents
International Affairs - 2013 ..................................................................................................................... 1 January ................................................................................................................................................ 1 February .............................................................................................................................................. 9 March ................................................................................................................................................ 12 April ................................................................................................................................................... 20 May ................................................................................................................................................... 24 June ................................................................................................................................................... 30 July .................................................................................................................................................... 38 August ............................................................................................................................................... 43 September......................................................................................................................................... 50 National Affairs 2013 ......................................................................................................................... 55 January .............................................................................................................................................. 55 February ............................................................................................................................................ 66 March ................................................................................................................................................ 72 April ................................................................................................................................................... 79 May ................................................................................................................................................... 85 June ................................................................................................................................................... 93 July .................................................................................................................................................. 101 August ............................................................................................................................................. 107 September........................................................................................................................................... 118 BiLateral Affairs 2013 ....................................................................................................................... 121 January ............................................................................................................................................ 121 February .......................................................................................................................................... 124 March .............................................................................................................................................. 127 April ................................................................................................................................................. 130 May ................................................................................................................................................. 132 June ................................................................................................................................................. 135 July .................................................................................................................................................. 139 August ............................................................................................................................................. 141 September....................................................................................................................................... 143 Economic Affairs 2013 ..................................................................................................................... 145 January ............................................................................................................................................ 145 February .......................................................................................................................................... 152

March .............................................................................................................................................. 160 April ................................................................................................................................................. 166 May ................................................................................................................................................. 170 June ................................................................................................................................................. 174 July .................................................................................................................................................. 180 August ............................................................................................................................................. 185 September....................................................................................................................................... 190 Science & Technology - 2013 .............................................................................................................. 194 January ............................................................................................................................................ 194 February .......................................................................................................................................... 200 March .............................................................................................................................................. 203 April ................................................................................................................................................. 205 May ................................................................................................................................................. 208 June ................................................................................................................................................. 209 July .................................................................................................................................................. 211 August ............................................................................................................................................. 213 September....................................................................................................................................... 219 Awards - 2013 ..................................................................................................................................... 221 January ............................................................................................................................................ 221 February .......................................................................................................................................... 229 March .............................................................................................................................................. 231 April ................................................................................................................................................. 237 May ................................................................................................................................................. 238 June ................................................................................................................................................. 241 July .................................................................................................................................................. 242 August ............................................................................................................................................. 243 September....................................................................................................................................... 245 Persons - 2013..................................................................................................................................... 248 January ............................................................................................................................................ 248 February .......................................................................................................................................... 251 March .............................................................................................................................................. 253 April ................................................................................................................................................. 256 May ................................................................................................................................................. 259 June ................................................................................................................................................. 263

July .................................................................................................................................................. 266 August ............................................................................................................................................. 270 September....................................................................................................................................... 272 Sports - 2013 ....................................................................................................................................... 275 January ............................................................................................................................................ 275 February .......................................................................................................................................... 277 March .............................................................................................................................................. 279 April ................................................................................................................................................. 282 May ................................................................................................................................................. 284 June ................................................................................................................................................. 286 July .................................................................................................................................................. 288 August ............................................................................................................................................. 290 September....................................................................................................................................... 296

International Affairs - 2013

International Affairs - 2013

International Affairs - 2013


January
US President Barack Obama on 31 January, has come out with his much-awaited comprehensive immigration reforms, that will pave the way for legalization of more than 11 million undocumented immigrants. The reforms, which also propose to eliminate the annual country caps in the employment category, are expected to benefit large number of Indian technocrats and professionals. In a major policy speech on comprehensive immigration in Las Vegas, Obama urged the Congress to act on his proposals. The other key proposals of his "comprehensive" reform plan include "stapling" a green card to the diplomas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), PhD and Masters Degree graduates from qualified US universities who have found employment in the country. The President also proposed to create a startup visa for job-creating entrepreneurs. The proposal allows foreign entrepreneurs, who attract financing or revenue from American investors and customers, to start and grow their businesses in the US, and to remain permanently if their companies grow further, create jobs for American workers, and strengthen the economy. The proposal removes the backlog for employment-sponsored immigration by eliminating annual country caps and adding additional visas to the system. Outdated legal immigration programs are reformed to meet current and future demands by exempting certain categories from annual visa limitations, the White House said. Obama also proposed to eliminate existing backlogs in the familysponsored immigration system by recapturing unused visas and temporarily increasing annual visa numbers. The proposal also raises existing annual country caps from seven per cent to 15 per cent for the family-sponsored immigration system. It also treats same-sex units as families by giving US citizens and lawful permanent residents the ability to seek a visa based on permanent relationship with a same-sex partner. Referring to the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America, of which more than 2, 40,000 are from India, Obama said though they have broken the rules, but it is "impossible" to deport them. Urging the Congress to immediately act on his comprehensive immigration reform, Obama said the good news is that for the first time in many years, Republicans and Democrats seem ready to tackle this problem together. India dropped nine places to 140th rank in the list of 179 countries in the latest World Press Freedom Index 2013, which is the lowest since 2002. India got this lowly rank because of increasing impunity for violence against journalists and internet censorship. Netherlands, Norway and Finland topped the list. The Press Freedom Index was released by world Press Freedom index for the year 2013. China got 173rd rank. Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea were placed at the bottom of the list as has been in the last three years. As per the Press index report, there has been a decline in freedom of information in South Asia and the Indian subcontinent among Asia witnessed the sharpest deterioration in providing freedom and security for those involved in news reporting in 2012. In India considered as the world's biggest democracy, the authorities insist on censoring the Web and impose numerous kinds of restrictions, while violence against journalists was not punished and the regions like Kashmir and Chhattisgarh are getting increasingly isolated. Iran on 2 February, has unveiled a new home-made combat aircraft, which Iran officials say it can evade radar. The single-seat Qaher F313 (Dominant F313) is the latest design produced by Iran's military since it launched the Azarakhsh (Lightning), in 2007. President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad said it had "almost all the positive features" of the world's most sophisticated jets. China on 3 february, has given a political role to Mo Yan,the 2012 winner of Nobel prize for literature and movie star Jackie Chan by selecting them as members of one of the houses of parliament, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. They are among the 2,237 persons handpicked by China's new leaders led by Xi Jinping as new members of the CPPCC National Committee. The CPPCC members, who are from different walks of life were selected without an election process and include 893 members of the Communist Party. Those chosen include officials, military officers, members of non-Communist parties, along with representatives from economic, political, cultural, social and environmental fields. India on 30 January pledged a donation of $2.5 million as humanitarian assistance for over two million Syrians displaced by the ongoing conflict in the country. The announcement was made by Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed at an international conference of donors on Syria held in Kuwait,

International Affairs - 2013


inaugurated by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The Indian minister said the conference was an important initiative of the UN to support the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people. The Indian assistance could be in the form of life saving drugs, food and other essential items. At the same time, Minister Ahamed expressed India's opposition to foreign military intervention in Syria. He said at a reception hosted by the Indian mission in Kuwait that India wanted the people of Syria to decide their own future. Some 60,000 people have been killed since the conflict between the government of Bashar al-Assad and USbacked opposition groups determined to topple him began nearly two years ago. Some four million Syrians in Syria are in need of food, shelter and other aid, according to UN figures. More than 700,000 have escaped to Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt. India has closely followed the developments in Syria and is "deeply concerned" about the hardships and sufferings of the people of Syria as a result of violence in the country. At the meeting, the UN chief said the situation in Syria was catastrophic and getting worse. Ban urged warring factions in Syria to end the violence. He said Syria's problem can be resolved only politically. He urged the international community to donate liberally to raise $1.5 billion to provide humanitarian assistance to the displaced Syrians. Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed announced $300 million contribution while the US pledged $155 million. The new commitment will bring the total US assistance to $365 million, making it the single largest donor. Milos Zeman became Czech Republics first directly elected President as per the Czech Republic Presidential election results declared on 25 January 2013. He won 55 percent as compared with 45 percent of Karel Schwarzenberg. Milos Zeman is the former Prime Minister of Czech Republic and head of the Party of Civic Rights-Zemanovci (SPOZ) while Karel Schwarzenberg is foreign minister in the present centre-right coalition government. Zeman succeeds Vaclav Klaus as the President of Czech Republic.Milos Zeman is the first directly elected President in Czech history (and overall third President), with the presidential elections held prior to 2013 all being decided internally by the senate. Prior to this, he served as the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic from 1998 to 2002. As leader of the Czech Social Democratic Party during the 1990s, he transformed it into one of the country's major political parties. He was also the Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies- the lower house of the Czech parliament- from 1996 to 1998. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi announced emergency as well as curfew in three main cities of Egypt on 27 January 2013. Emergency and curfew was declared by the Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in three main cities, i.e., Suez, Ismailia and Port Said because of increasing violence and protests in the streets. The violence posed serious threats to Morsis government as well as the democracy of Egypt. It is important to note that the three major cities sit on the economically crucial Suez Canal. The state of emergency was imposed for one month in three major cities of Egypt. Under the Mubarak-era laws which are in-effect to the Egypts new constitution, under the state of emergency, the ordinary judicial process as well as most of the civil rights is suspended. Also, the state of emergency imparts extraordinary powers to the police and the President. The balance in cash-strapped Zimbabwe's government public account stood at just 217 dollars, Finance Minister Tendai Biti told the press on 30 January. Biti, claiming some of civil servants had healthier bank balances than the state, told journalists that last week after paying salaries to them there was only 217 dollars left in government coffers. He said that the government finances are in paralysis state at the present moment, adding that they were failing to meet their targets. Zimbabwe's economy went into free-fall at the turn of the millennium, after President Robert Mugabe began seizing white-owned farms. The move demolished investor confidence in the country, paralyzed production, prompted international sanctions and scared off tourists. After more than a decade, in which the country suffered hyper-inflation of 231 million percent and infrastructure that crumbled as quickly as prices went up, the situation is now more stable. But public finances remain a mess and local business battles against unstable electricity supplies, lack of liquidity and high labour costs. Zimbabwe's government has warned it does not have enough money to fund a constitutional referendum and elections expected this year. Biti said that left no choice but to ask the donors for cash. Government's national budget for this year stands at $3.8bn and the economy is projected to grow five percent. Taiwanese Business Magnate Launches Asias Nobel-Type Prizes A business tycoon from Taiwan with interests mainly in China declared on 28 January 2013 that he was funding the Asia's Nobel Prizes for outstanding achievements in natural and social sciences. Samuel Yin, the head of Ruentex Group announced that he would establish Tang Prize Foundation which would have an initial donation of 103 million dollar. Tang Prize Foundation, which uses the name of Tang Dynasty (618907 AD), is valued by the Chinese for cultural as well as scientific achievements. It was decided that the prizes under the Tang Prize Foundation will be awarded every alternate year to the international leaders in

International Affairs - 2013


sustainable development, biopharmaceutical science, and the rule of law as well as the study of China. Samuel Yin declared that these categories were kept in the new awards because the Nobels, which are 118 years old, did not include these fields. He also opined that these categories had high importance for the humanity. The prizes under the Tang Prize Foundation will commence from 2014. The winners of the prize would be entitled to receive 1.7 million US dollar. Nobel prizes award 1.2 million US dollar to the awardees. The winners of the Tang Prize will be nominated as well as screened by the special committees which in turn would be established by the Academia Sinica, the highly prestigious research organization of Taiwan. Dutch queen to step down Dutch Queen Beatrix announced on 28 January that she would step down in April after nearly 33 years on the Dutch throne, which means her son Willem-Alexander is set to become the country's first king since the 19th century. "Responsibility for our country must now lie in the hands of a new generation," the monarch said in a brief televised address. Beatrix recalled she is about to turn 75 and this is "the moment to lay down my crown" in favour of Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, 45. The queen's first-born has been married since 2002 with Argentine investment banker Maxima Zorreguieta, with whom he has three daughters. The couple is the most popular figures in the Dutch royal family. Beatriz was married in 1966 to the German Claus van Amsberg, who died in 2002. The second of their three sons, Prince Friso, has been in a coma since February 2012, when he was buried under an avalanche in Austria. US Senate panel approves John Kerry for secretary of state Veteran Senator John Kerry, known for his relationship-building skills, is all set to replace Hillary Clinton as the new US Secretary of State after the Senate overwhelmingly confirmed his nomination. 69-year-old Kerry, currently the chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been a close confidant of President Barack Obama on foreign policy issues especially on the volatile Af-Pak region. The nomination of Kerry, a Vietnam war veteran, was confirmed on 28 January by 94-3, with all three negative votes coming from Republican Senators James Inhofe, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, who is Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus. This is the first Cabinet selection during Obama's second term to be confirmed by the Senate. Senator Robert Menendez, incoming Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, noted that Kerry was the best choice to head the State Department. One billion tourists took international trips in 2012: UN A record one billion tourists took international trips last year, says a report published on 29 January by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The figure showed a four-percent rise from that in 2011, Xinhua reported. Around 1.03 billion tourists visited foreign countries, 39 million more than in 2011, the report said. The strongest growth was seen in the Asia and Pacific region with a seven-percent rise in international tourism last year, taking the total number of arrivals to 233 million. Despite the ongoing economic crisis, the region is expected to see higher-than-average growth in 2013 at 5-6 percent. Europe was still the most-visited region in the world with 535 million arrivals, while North-East Asia and Central America each saw a six-percent growth in international tourism. "Tourism is thus one of the pillars that should be supported by governments around the world as part of the solution to stimulating economic growth," UNWTO General Secretary Taleb Rifai was quoted as saying. Tourists spent more while travelling last year. Hong Kong was the best performer, seeing increase of receipts by 16 percent, followed by a 10-percent rise in the US and a six-percent rise in Britain, which was partly due to the 2012 London Olympics. The importance of China as a source market was highlighted by a 42-percent rise in expenditure by Chinese tourists. There was also a 31-percent rise in spending from Russians travelling abroad. International tourism in the US and Canada both grew by seven percent, while the biggest losers turned out to be France and Italy where tourism dropped by seven and two percent respectively. 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

International Affairs - 2013


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 preparing 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.

International Affairs - 2013


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. Dutch finance minister confirmed as new head of Euro group 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,

International Affairs - 2013


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 role-played 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 socalled 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

International Affairs - 2013


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 countries (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 risk-management 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.

International Affairs - 2013


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 preschool 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-percent 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 hardwon political triumph for the president less than two months after he secured re-election while calling for higher taxes on the wealthy.

International Affairs - 2013


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 20-acre 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.

February

Nicos Anastasiades, the centre-right DISY (the Democratic Rally) party leader won the presidential elections of Cyprus. Nicos Anastasiades had a very easy-going victory over Communist-backed Stavros Malas . The major challenge that would be faced by Nicos Anastasiades is that Cyprus is standing on the verge of bankruptcy because of knock-on effect of the economic despair of Greece. Nicos Anastasiades after winning therefore declared that his first priority would be to reinstate the credibility of Cyprus. For this, he would favour deals with the foreign lenders. Nicos Anastasiades is a 66-year old lawyer and a member of the Cypruss parliament since 1981. He is the leader of centre-right DISY (the Democratic Rally) party since 1997.Nicos Anastasiades would be replacing the former President of Cyprus, Dimitris Christofias who served the office from 28 February 2008 and will remain into the designation till the end of his term on 28 February 2013. Dimitris Christofias belonged to the Progressive Party of Working People.

International Affairs - 2013


Former Republican senator Chuck Hagel on 27 February, sworn-in as the new US Defence Secretary, in the midst of a controversy over his remarks that India "financed problems" for Pakistan in Afghanistan. 66-year-old Hagel, a Vietnam war veteran, was confirmed by the Senate on 26 February. Senators voted 5841 to approve Hagel, ending a long and acrimonious nomination process and clearing President Barack Obama's choice for the top post held by Leon Panetta. Sworn in by the Director of Administration and Management Michael L Rhodes, Hagel took the oath of office in a private ceremony attended by family members and his immediate office staff. Hagel will replace incumbent Panetta at a time when the department is faced with multiple challenges including defence budget cuts, rapidly changing developments in the Middle East, increasing threat from North Korea besides the scheduled withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan in 2014. Fresh clashes erupted on 1 March, in Bangladesh, bringing the number of people killed to 52 in violence triggered by convictions for Islamist leaders over war crimes committed during the 1971 independence war. On 28 February, clashes flared across the country after Jamaat's vice president was found guilty of murder, religious persecution and rape by a war crimes tribunal hearing cases dating back to the 1971 independence conflict. Delwar Hossain Sayedee, now a firebrand preacher, was the third person to be convicted by the court whose previous verdicts have been met with outrage from Islamists who say the process is more about settling scores than delivering justice. According to Sultana Kamal, head of rights group Ain O Salish Kendra, it was the deadliest political day of violence in the impoverished country's history since winning its independence from Pakistan in 1971.Security has been stepped up at Hindu villages after homes and temples came under attack by Islamists in the southern Noakhali and Chittagong districts, killing one old Hindu man, police said. Cuban President Raul Castro (81) elected, sworn in to a second and final five-year term. This will be my last term, he told lawmakers after the National Assembly re-elected him. In a surprise move, the new Parliament named a rising young star as his first Vice-President, Miguel Diaz-Canel (52), a member of the political bureau who rose through the party ranks in the provinces to become the most visible possible successor to Mr. Raul Castro. He would succeed Mr. Raul Castro if he cannot serve his full term. Mr. Raul Castro was in charge of the security apparatus and its armed forces during his brother Fidels rule. But after succeeding the ailing Cuban revolutionary leader, he embarked on a reformist course in order to secure Communisms survival. Having assumed presidency in February 2008, he took the helm of the Communist Party in April 2011. Targeting highly skilled talents from India and China, the US lawmakers have introduced a new bill in the Congress on 15 February, to create more than 125,000 new visas to attract global talents to America. The bill called Startup 3.0 proposes to help increase America's access to talent by creating a new set of conditional visas for 75,000 immigrant entrepreneurs and 50,000 foreign STEM (Science technology, engineering and math) graduate students. This will create half a million new American jobs. Startup 3.0 allows qualified companies to apply research and development tax credits to their payroll tax liability, up to $250,000.For small startups, it also makes permanent the 100 per cent capital gains tax exemption on investments that are held for more than 5 years, in addition to the 28 per cent exemption on qualified small business stock. These provisions will unlock over $7.5 billion in new investments which will result in more innovation and jobs. Finally, the bill helps cut red tape, by requiring a cost-benefit analysis of any significant rule being proposed by a federal or independent agency. According to the authors of the bill, research has demonstrated the positive impact of immigrants on American job creation: more than 40 per cent of all Fortune 500 companies were founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant. Research shows that startups create three million jobs per year, on average. North Korea on 12 February 2013 announced success of its underground Nuclear Test. The country cleared that the miniaturized nuclear device was detonated successfully and it announced that the test was an act of self-defence from the US Hostility and threatened stronger steps in future. This was the third test conducted by the country since 2006 that had defied the UN regulations in existence. The test is reported to have conducted in the North Hamgyeong Province nearby the Punggye-ri nuclear complex, the place where the tests of 2006 and 2009 were conducted. Due to the past two nuclear tests of 2006 and 2009, North Korea is already facing many sanctions over it imposed by the United Nations Security Council. This is the first test conducted in North Korea under the leadership of Kim Jong-un. The Western Nations termed this act to be highly provocative act of North Korea and claimed it to be a threat to the stability of the region. Whereas Asian countries like, China, Japan and Russia criticized the test and announced it to be a threat beyond tolerance. The international bodies like UN and NATO claimed this test as irresponsible and threat to the world peace.

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About 1200 people were injured when a meteorite shot across the sky in central Russia on 15 February, sending fireballs crashing to Earth, smashing windows and setting off car alarms. Residents on their way to work in Chelyabinsk heard what sounded like an explosion, saw a bright light and then felt a shockwave, according to a media correspondent in the industrial city 1,500 km (950 miles) east of Moscow. The meteorite raced across the horizon, leaving a long white trail in its wake which could be seen as far as 200 km (125 miles) away in Yekaterinburg. Car alarms went off, windows shattered and mobile phones worked only intermittently. Chelyabinsk city authorities said about 1200 people sought medical help, mainly for light injuries caused by flying glass. The Emergencies Ministry described the event as a "meteor shower in the form of fireballs" and said background radiation levels were normal. It urged residents not to panic. Chelyabinsk city authorities urged people to stay indoors unless they needed to pick up their children from schools and kindergartens. They said a blast had been heard at an altitude of 10,000 metres (32,800 feet), apparently signaling it occurred when the meteorite entered Earth's atmosphere. Giuseppe Orsi, head of an Italian defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica was arrested in Milan on 11 February 2013 on the charges of his alleged involvement in the bribery activity to secure an Indian defence helicopter deal of 3600 crore rupees. He was arrested in relation to the probe of the international corruption. The contract signed with Italian defence giant Finmeccanica in February 2010 involved supply of 12 VVIP three-engine AW-101 choppers from AgustaWestland for the Indian Air Forces elite Communication Sqadron. By now, three choppers have already been delivered to India. As per the reports on the bribe scam, its expected that about 362 crore rupees that is equivalent to about 10 percent of the final deal was given back to help the Italian firm in winning the contract. The Finmeccanica is an Italian defence Giant company that entered into a deal to supply 12 three-engine AW-101 helicopters to India in February 2010. Giuseppe Orsi, now the CEO of Finmeccanica and the then head of its Helicopter Unit was arrested on the charges of the bribe scandal that surfaced. Pope Benedict XVI announced on 11 February 2013 that he would resign at the end of the month. He reasoned that he was too infirm to carry on. He is the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years. The decision set the stage for the election of a new Pope before the end of March 2013.Pope Benedict XVI is 85 years old. He had become the Pope in 2005. The last Pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who took this step in 1415 to put an end to the Great Western Split among competing papal claimants. The Indian government has permitted former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed to stay in Indian Mission in Male. Nasheed entered into Indian High Commission on 13 February soon after an arrest warrant was issued against him by a Maldivian court. The 45-year-old leader turned up at the singlestorey Indian mission around noon to evade arrest warrant issued by a court in a case concerning the detention of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court during his Presidency in January last year. Later in the day, as his application for stay on the arrest was rejected by the Maldivian High Court, Nasheed stayed put in the Indian mission. "Following the arrest warrant issued against him by the Hulhumale Magistrate Court, Nasheed, who is a candidate for the Presidential elections in Maldives scheduled for September 2013, is in the Indian High Commission and has sought India's assistance. "We are in touch with the relevant Maldivian authorities to resolve the situation," official spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs said in New Delhi. India has expressed concern over the ongoing political instability in Maldives and called upon the Government and all political parties to adhere strictly to democratic principles and the rule of law, thereby paving the way for free, fair, credible and inclusive elections. Nasheed became the first democratically elected president of the Indian Ocean archipelago in 2008. He resigned a year ago after weeks of public protests against the judge's arrest. His deputy, Mohammed Waheed, succeeded him. Immediately after his resignation, Nasheed claimed that he was ousted in a coup; a claim was dismissed by an inquiry commission last year. India will host the next meeting of BASIC Environment Ministers. The meeting will be held in Chennai on February 15-16, 2013. This was stated by Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan, Minister for Environment & Forests while briefing the media in New Delhi on 5 February. Smt. Natarajan said that BASIC Group is a platform of the four countries for coordination on issues related to climate change. BASIC has emerged as an important grouping in the climate change negotiations, and has acted as a key voice of developing countries. BASIC countries meet four times in a year and once a year in each of the four countries by rotation. Typically, the first meeting of the year takes place in India. At the Chennai meeting, the BASIC Ministers are expected to review the decisions taken at Doha and plan the future steps for taking the global process for an ambitious and equitable agreement under Durban Platform, she added. The important issues that will engage the attention of the BASIC Ministers are principles under the Durban Platform, the role and relevance of independent international initiatives including sectoral actions in

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promotion and achievement of global ambition, and the steps needed to ensure means of implementation to parties for enhancing their efforts. Smt. Natarajan further stated that in line with the BASIC Plus approach; representatives of other important members of G-77 and China have also been invited. Bhutan (SAARC and Mountain), Mali (LDC and Africa), Argentina (Latin America), Fiji (G-77 Chair), Nauru (SIDS) and Qatar (CoP-18 Presidency) have been invited. India is a member of like minded developing countries who are meeting in Geneva on 27-28 February, 2013 to review the decisions at Doha and plan the future steps. The deliberations in the BASIC meeting will help India and other BASIC countries in formulating their approach to the future issues in the negotiations and plan help build ambitious and equitable architecture for post 2020 arrangements. The United States of America on 5 February 2013 filed a civil lawsuit against Standard and Poor's (S&P) the credit rating agency alleging that the agency lied about the nations objectivity and independence by the way it rated the mortgage bonds. The lawsuit have claimed that as a result of the ratings issued by the S&P, which misrepresented the securities true credit risks the investors, even those who were federally insured financial institution lost billions of dollars on collateralized Debt Obligations. Pakistan and Afghanistan on 4 February, pledged to have a peace deal in place within six months following talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London aimed at ensuring regional stability after the withdrawal of western troops from Afghanistan next year. Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai promised to take all necessary measures to achieve peace in the region. Mr. Cameron said the two sides agreed to an unprecedented level of cooperation. The talks centred on the Afghan-led peace process and strengthening of cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mr. Zardari said that Pakistan wanted to help Kabul in peace talks with the Taliban. It was the third round of trilateral talks in less than a year but it was the first time that military leaders and intelligence chiefs of the two countries were also present. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became on 5 February, the first Iranian head of state since the 1979 revolution to pay an official visit to Egypt , a step which could become a game changer in defining the regions power hierarchy.Irans Press reported, quoting an official from the Presidential office that Mr. Ahmadinejad was participating in the OIC meeting as the current chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) a grouping of more than hundred countries.Significantly, the Iranian President is slated to meet the Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb. Analysts view this meeting as part of an effort by Iran and Egypt to heal the rift between the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam, exacerbated by the crises in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.Before his plane touched down in Cairo, Mr. Ahmadinejad advocated unity among Sunnis and Shias. In an interview with Lebanese satellite channel al- Mayadeen, Mr. Ahmadinejad slammed the SunniShia rift as a colonial plot. He also pledged to provide security cover to Egypt and Saudi Arabia against any attack, similar to the support that Tehran has provided to Afghanistan and Iraq.According to Iranian media reports, Mr. Ahmadinejad could hold talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his three-day stay. Ahead of his arrival, the Iranian President said that Iran and Egypt should work together to liberate Palestine entirely. Mojtaba Amani, head of Irans interest section in Egypt said that Tehran is willing to hold consultations with Cairo for reaching a political settlement of the Syrian crisis.

March
South Africa hosted the fifth BRICS Summit from 26 to 28 March 2013 at the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC). The central area of discussion was under the overarching theme, BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialization. BRICS is an acronym for the powerful grouping of the worlds leading emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The first BRIC Summit took place in Yekaterinburg, Russia, where the elected leaders of the four countries formally declared the membership of the BRIC economic bloc. South Africa joined the bloc in 2010, resulting in BRICS. The BRICS mechanism aims to achieve peace, security, development and cooperation. It also seeks to contribute significantly to the development of humanity and establish a more equitable and fair world Subsequent to the discussions that took place at the Business Forum Meeting, the industry leaders from the business communities of the five countries agreed on the following points: BRICS and Africa will forge a closer partnership for development integration and industrialization. BRICS countries will actively support infrastructure development and industrialization on the African continent in order to contribute to its development and to expand trade links between Africa and BRICS. BRICS countries remain committed to the cause of promoting sustainable growth. Greater economic cooperation amongst BRICS countries is imperative. This can help in addressing some of the

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domestic challenges each of us face as well as prove beneficial for global economic growth China and Brazil have agreed to establish a currency swap line worth around 30 billion dollar in their respective currencies, which they say is designed to protect against future global financial crises.

Key recommendations of the Summit 1) The BRICS Nations fully support the efforts of their respective governments at the G20 that has emerged as the premiere forum to address critical global economic and financial issues. We shall work collectively to carry forward the work agenda set by the G20 leaders for promoting stronger, sustainable and more equitable growth. 2) They reiterate that the world economic order is changing and that the process of developing economic policy agenda at the global level should reflect this. While there is a realization even amongst the developed countries about the increasing economic weight of emerging economies, this is not fully reflected in the governance model of global institutions such as the IMF and World Bank. We shall continue to work alongside our governments to gradually usher in governance reforms at multi-lateral institutions. 3) The BRICS nation urges their respective governments to deepen their consultative engagements on economic policies to bring about stability and certainty in global financial markets. 4) The BRICS nations encourage their respective governments to take steps to deepen economic engagement amongst the BRICS countries. The establishment of the BRICS Business Council is, therefore, supported as a practical measure that will deepen economic engagement amongst BRICS countries. Trade and investment are the two pillars of economic engagement amongst BRICS countries. We should look to continue enhancing intraBRICS trade to achieve at least US$ 500 billion by 2015 as per agreement from previous Business Forum in India. It is essential to improve the quality of trade by focusing on more value added trade in all the three sectors namely manufacturing, services and agriculture. Likewise, we should capitalize on opportunities in sectors such as but not limited to agriculture and agro-processing, energy, sustainable development, infrastructure, mining beneficiation, pharmaceutical and information and communication technology. There is agreement that support for industrialization projects on the African continent will contribute to the expansion of trade and investment links between BRICS and Africa. 5) The Countries are encouraged by the discussions that are taking place amongst our respective governments towards greater cooperation in the financial sector. The possibility of setting up of a development bank and investment fund and promoting trade within this group in local currencies are particularly encouraging and progress in finalizing these. The BRICS Summit (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), with about 12 African leaders and all the continents eight regional economic communities attending as interested parties, will announce the setting of an exclusive bank for themselves(BRICS Bank) and the developing world. BRICS officials say the bank will start functioning in two years after details such as capitalization, location and holding percentages are worked out. The Sherpas, or high officials nominated by the heads of government were eventually finalized the Durban Declaration (eThekwini Declaration, the African name for Durban).It emerges that the economic aspects will be given a firm push with the announcement of a stand-alone BRICS business council and two agreements that could serve as a precursor to the bank, pushed hard by China but looked at with reservations by the rest for fear that Beijing, having emerged as a bigger lender last year than the World Bank, would dominate the bank completely. Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi resigned on 26 March 2013 in the wake of a dispute with India over the 2012 killing of two Indian fishermen by two marines while they are on anti-piracy duty. Italy has agreed to send two Italian marines accused of the crime to India to face trial, after initially refusing to return them. The marines, Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, are facing trial in India over the shooting dead of two fishermen off the southern state of Kerala in February 2012 when they were deputed to protect an Italian commercial tanker from pirates. The dispute began after Italy allowed the two suspects to return to Italy in February 2013 to vote in national elections. Italys initial refusal to send them back angered Indian government officials and Supreme Court justices, who noted that the Italian ambassador had given assurances to the court that the marines would come back to India after the elections. On 11 March 2013, the outgoing technocrat government of Mario Monti in Italy said it would not send the marines back because Indian courts did not have jurisdiction over the incident, which as per the Rome occurred in international waters. Iran, North Korea and Syria on 28 March, have blocked adoption of a UN arms treaty that would regulate the USD 70 billion conventional arms trade around the world, saying it fails to ban sales of

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weapons to groups that commit acts of aggression. The text of the first international treaty on arms trade needs support from all 193 UN member states for its approval. The draft text came up for approval on 28 March, after the UN members failed to adopt it in July last year even after month-long negotiations. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed disappointment on the failure of the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty to reach an agreement on the text, which for the first time would have regulated the international arms trade. Iranian UN envoy Mohammad Khazaee told the conference his country could not accept the treaty in its current form. The current draft does not ban sales of weapons to armed groups but says all arms transfers should be subjected to rigorous risk and human rights assessments first. India and others had complained that the treaty favors the arms exporting nations and remains silent on the illicit trafficking of such weapons to nonstate actors. Britain the main sponsor of the resolution said that though it is disappointed, it has not given up. Malala Yousafzai, the 15 years old Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the head by Taliban in October 2012 for advocating girls education, signed a deal for around 3 million dollars in March 2013 to publish her memoir. The Book which is titled I am Malala is supposed to Publish later in this year. It is going to be published by Weidenfeld & Nicholson in the UK and Commonwealth and by Little, Brown in the rest of the world. The book is based on life story of Malala and as per Malala Yousafzai and it will be part of the campaign to give every boy and girl the right to go to school. It is their basic right. Malala Yousafzai started writing a blog on the BBC Urdu service under a pseudonym about life in the Swat Valley in 2009. She was shot after her real identity became known. Since the shooting, Malala has been awarded several peace prizes and is the youngest person to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Brazil and China signed the currency swap agreement on 26 March 2013 in Durban, South Africa. The agreement is designed specifically for providing safety against the future global financial issues. The currency swap agreement was first announced in 2012. The agreement will enable the central banks of two countries to swap the local currencies worth 190bn Yuan or 60bn Reais, i.e. 30 billion US Dollar. The agreement will enable smooth bilateral trade irrespective of the financial conditions at the global level. The currency swap agreement between Brazil and China was signed on sidelines of 5th BRICS Summit which was held recently in Durban, South Africa. BRICS refers to Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It is important to note that in order to push its currency (Yuan) for a greater international role, China has been continuously trying to promote Yuan as the alternative to US dollar as global reserve currency. Mir Hazar Khan Khoso was on 25 March sworn in as Pakistans caretaker Prime Minister by President Asif Ali Zardari during a ceremony held at the presidency. Former premiers Raja Pervez Ashraf and Yousuf Raza Gilani, leaders of political parties, top military officials, bureaucrats and diplomats attended the ceremony. The general election was scheduled for May 11. After the Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition and a bipartisan parliamentary committee were unable to choose a caretaker premier after six days of deliberations, the matter was sent to the five-member Election Commission on 22 March. Following two days of discussions, Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G Ebrahim announced on Sunday that Mr. Khoso had been chosen for the slot. President Barack Obama on 26 March chose veteran agent Julia Pierson as Secret Service director, the first woman to lead the male-dominated agency, a year after its reputation was tarnished by a scandal involving agents and prostitutes in Colombia. Pierson will replace Mark Sullivan, who retired in February and was in charge during the Colombia scandal - one of the worst in the agency's history. The Secret Service has been criticized for having an insular, male-dominated culture, and Pierson's appointment also comes as Obama fends off criticism that his second-term picks for high-level posts have not included enough women and minority candidates. Pierson, a native of Florida, is currently chief of staff at the Secret Service and began her career as a special agent with the Miami field office in 1983. The director's position does not require confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Starting in 1988, Pierson served four years with the Presidential Protective Division, and she became deputy assistant director of the Office of Protective Operations in 2005. An agreement, on the RadioAstron space satellite was signed between the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) on the Margins of BRICS Summit on 26 March 2013 in Durban. The agreement paved the way for the two countries to work together on the development of science and space technologies. In 2006 the South African and Russian governments signed an agreement to cooperate on the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. The agreement signed confirms a strategic role in the area of global space science and technology and provides an opportunity to use space science and technology to contribute towards socio-economic development. As per the agreement,

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Roscosmos will provide the hardware for upgrading the tracking station (antenna) for compatibility with RadioAstron, while SANSA will install and maintain the upgraded hardware and operate the tracking station. Dubai International Airport has been confirmed as the world's second busiest for international passenger traffic, moving ahead of Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport for the first time, it has been announced. Since the start of the year, Dubai International has moved up two positions in the global rankings and now has London Heathrow's title as the world's busiest international airport firmly within its sights. The rankings were confirmed by the latest figures published by Airports Council International, the Dubai Airports company said in a statement. Dubai Airports has maintained its impressive passenger growth in 2013, with passenger traffic at Dubai International rising 13% to 10,640,120 passengers in the first two months of this year, up from 9,413,286 for the same period in 2012."It is extremely gratifying to see Dubai International leap up two places in the international passenger rankings in a single year. It is a clear signal that more people are choosing Dubai as their preferred hub for not only its extensive global network but the superb facilities on the ground too. Given our surging growth rate and London Heathrow's capacity constraints we are well placed to overtake them as the world's busiest airport for international traffic by 2015," Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths said. Following large-scale arms acquisition by Pakistan, China has become the fifth largest arms exporter in the world. According to the latest global arms transfer data released by SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) at Observer Research Foundation on 18 March, China has pushed the UK to the sixth place. This is the first time China has been in the top five arms exporters since the end of the cold war, said Pieter Wezeman, senior researcher of SIPRI, releasing the new data at ORF. In the five-year period from 2008-12, the largest supplier of major conventional weapons continues to be the United States with a share of 30 percent of the global arms export. Russia is the second largest supplier with 26 percent of global share while Germany is placed at the third place with 7 percent global share and France the fourth with 6 percent global share. Wezeman said during 2008-12, Asia and Oceana accounted for almost half (47 percent) of the global arms imports of major conventional weapons, with India leading with 12 percent. The Chinese share in global imports was six percent, while Pakistan and South Korea accounted for five percent and Singapore four percent. Talking on China-Pak-India dynamics, ORF Distinguished Fellow Manoj Joshi pointed out that 70 percent of Chinese arms exports are going to the Indian neighborhood, raising security concerns. He also pointed out that Pakistan was able to move faster in arms and technology acquisition with the help of China while Indias cooperation with Russia was slower. Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati resigned on 22 March, due to government infighting that threatens to leave a void in the state's highest ranks at a time of rising tensions and sporadic violence enflamed by the civil war in neighboring Syria. Najib Mikati stepped down to protest the parliament's inability to agree on a law to govern elections set for later this year, as well as for the Cabinet's refusal to extend the tenure of the country's police chief, who is about to retire. The dispute was mainly created by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah that dominates the Parliament of Lebanon. The resignation of the Government still awaits its acceptance by the President, Michel Suleiman. With the resignation of the Government, Lebanon has entered into the political crisis and it has been suffering from the protests in Syria. The Syrian conflict had affected Lebanon by the emigration of the refugees from Syria to Lebanon, which was also responsible in the slowdown of the countrys economy and a surge of 67 percent in its budget deficit in 2012. The Euro group President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on 25 March that the Euro zone finance ministers had approved a new bailout plan for Cyprus, putting an end to uncertainties over the fate of the Mediterranean island country in the euro area. Euro group has reached political agreement with the Cypriot authorities on a financial assistance program," Euro group President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said at a press conference after hours of tough negotiations. The Euro group welcomes the plans for restructuring the financial sector as specified in the annex. These measures will form the basis for restoring the viability of the financial sector," he said. The program will contain a "decisive approach to addressing financial sector imbalances," and there will be "an appropriate downsizing of the financial sector," with the domestic banking sector reaching the EU average by 2018. The deal came after days of uncertainties after the Cypriot parliament rejected a former bailout deal struck on March 16, under which depositors in Cypriot banks will be hit with a one-off tax on their savings. Under the new agreement, deposits below the EU deposit-guarantee ceiling of 100,000 euros will be all protected. The armies of Nepal and the United States on 24 March, launched a joint military exercise called ExShanti Prayas-II at the Birendra Peace Operation Training Centre in Panchkhal, Kavre,Nepal. The

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exercise will conclude on April 7.Commander Colonel Ishwor Hamal of the Birendra Peace Operation Training Centre said the training is exclusively a peace support exercise. According to him, the Ex-Shanti Prayas II training will involve as many as 871 military personnel from 23 countries, including Nepal, United States, Bangladesh, India, Thailand Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, among others. Of them, 416 participants are from the Nepali Army. This multinational exercise is the latest in a continuing series of exercises in the Asia-Pacific region designed to promote regional peace and security and enhance the United Nations peacekeeping capabilities and capacity of nations participating in the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI). The exercise has three separate events: senior training seminar (STS), staff exercise (STAFFEX) and field training exercise (FTE). The training model has been developed by the UN Department of Peace Keeping Operations. Nepal and the US government will be bearing the financial costs of the exercise. The former President of Pakistan, Gen. Pervez Musharraf returned back to Pakistan on 24 March 2013, ending four years self-imposed exile. He declared that he was going back for the political future of Pakistan, despite threats from Pakistani Taliban. He came back to Karachi from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is also known that general elections will be held in Pakistan on 11 May 2013. He belonged to the All Pakistan Muslim League party of Pakistan. Gen. Pervez Musharraf resigned from the post of President of Pakistan in August 2008 because of threat of impeachment. He left Pakistan on 19 April 2009. Though the court in Sindh province granted protective bail to him, but he has charges in cases of 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto, 2006 death of Nawab Akbar Bugti as well as 2007 sacking of judges. The former President of Pakistan, Musharraf ruled in Pakistan from 2001 to 2008. Mir Hazar Khan Khosa (84), a retired judge, will be Pakistans caretaker Prime Minister till a new National Assembly is elected by mid-May. His name was finalized on 24 march by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) after the political class failed to arrive on a consensus over caretaker premiership. The announcement was made by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim after the matter was put to vote. Mr. Khosas candidature was suggested by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and its allies. Speaking to the media soon after his candidature was finalized, Mr. Khosa said he would invite all political parties for consultation to ensure a fair election. About the size of his Cabinet, he maintained it would be small, no more than a dozen-strong. The UN Human Rights Council on 21 March adopted a US-sponsored resolution on human rights violation in Sri Lanka with 25 countries, including India, voting in favor of the document in the 47-nation strong body. While 13 countries, including Pakistan, voted against, eight member-states abstained from voting on the contentious resolution that saw political tremors in India with DMK pulling out of the UPA alliance and the government. Gabon, a member-country had voting rights issue. The watered down resolution also saw India pushing for new elements through written amendments calling for an independent and credible investigation into allegations of human rights violation and other accountability measures to be accepted by Sri Lanka, according to sources. During 'Intervention in the United Nations Human Rights Council on the Resolution on Promoting Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka', India's permanent representative Dilip Sinha said, "We reiterate our call for an independent and credible investigation into allegations of human rights violations and loss of civilian lives". Criticizing the resolution, Sri Lanka at the UNHRC said, "The resolution presented in Geneva today is clearly unacceptable to Sri Lanka.""The government of Sri Lanka totally rejects the attempts by the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner and proponents of this resolution," the Sri Lankan representative said. The resolution urged the government of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to address "continuing reports of violations of human rights" in the country, including threats to judicial independence and media intimidation. India said it believes that the report of the Lessons Learnt Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and its findings and recommendation provides a window of opportunity to forge a consensual way forward towards a lasting political settlement through genuine national reconciliation and the full enjoyment of human rights by all its citizens. The new leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Xi Jinping on 14 March 2013 was appointed as the President of China. It is also known that Xi Jinping, 59, was also chosen as the General Secretary of CPC in November 2012. He overtook the office from Hu Jintao. On 14 March 2013, Xi Jinping was approved by National Peoples Congress (NPC), the Parliament of China, in the comprehensive election process at Great Hall of the People. Politburo member Li Yuanchao (63) was also chosen as the Vice President of Xi Jinping on the same day. Li Keqiang, 57, was appointed as the Premier of China. He replaced Wen Jiabao. The Euro zone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) signed a deal on 16 March 2013 in Brussels to aid Cyprus with a bailout package worth 10 billion Euros. It is important to note

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that Cyprus is the fifth country to go to Euro zone for the financial aid because of sovereign debt crisis that kicked off in 2010. Other countries that reached Euro zone for financial aid before Cyprus - Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. However, the Euro zone agreed for the bailout agreement of up to 10 billion Euros, while Cyprus in 2012 had asked for around 17 billion Euros. The Euro zone Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund agreed on the terms that included one-time tax of 9.9 percent on Cypriot bank deposits of over 130000 Dollars or 100000 Euros as well as the tax of 6.75 percent on smaller deposits. Actually, Cyprus had estimated its requirement for 17 billion Euros, which was the amount that it required for restoration of its economy. Of this, 10 billion Euros was required for recapitalizing the banks while 7 billion Euros was required for the servicing debt as well as the operations of the government. Britain and Argentina were on 12 March, embroiled in a renewed war of words after the residents of the disputed Falkland Islands voted overwhelmingly in favor of it staying as a British overseas territory. Argentina immediately rejected the outcome saying it did not recognize the referendum even as Prime Minister David Cameron described it as the clearest possible expression of the wishes of the islanders, and urged Argentina to respect their view. A whopping 99.8 per cent of the voters all of British origin said yes to the question: Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom? Only three voted no. Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, however, made clear that her country did not recognize the referendum, saying it had no legal validity. Argentina, which calls the islands Las Malvinas, insisted it belonged to them and called for a diplomatic solution. Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi was sworn-in as the new Prime Minister of Nepal on 14 March 2013. Khil Raj Regmi will be the head of interim government which will have its elections by 21 June 2013. He took over the office from Baburam Bhattarai. Regmi will be the head of 11-member electoral government. Khil Raj Regmi, 63, took oath of the office and secrecy from the President Ram Baran Yadav after the top leaders of four main parties- the United Democratic Madhesi Front, Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) and United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists), reached the 11-point understanding. It is for the first time in the political history of Nepal that any sitting Chief Justice was named as Head of the Government. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari on 11 March 2013 launched a 7.5 billion dollar gas pipeline project that will link Iran's gas pipeline to that of Pakistan. The inauguration ceremony of gas pipeline project was held in Iran's Chabahar city. With the launch of pipeline, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asserted that west has no right to obstruct Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project that has nothing to do with Iran's nuclear issue. Both the presidents mentioned that the completion of the pipeline is in the interests of peace, security and progress of the two countries and is supposed to consolidate the economic, political and security ties of the two nations. Iran has constructed 900 km of the 1600-km pipeline on its soil. Both Iranian and Pakistani firms have undertaken the construction of the remaining part in Pakistan. The project will be completed by mid-2014, as scheduled; Iran will export 21.5 million cubic meters of natural gas to Pakistan on daily basis. The work on the Iranian side is almost complete and on 11 March 2013 and the construction work started on the Pakistani side. A total of 780km of pipeline is to be built in Pakistan by December 2014. The project provoked several warnings of sanctions from the US. Washington stated that the pipeline would enable Tehran to sell more gas, undermining efforts to step up pressure over its nuclear activities. As per US, if this deal is finalized for a proposed Iran-Pakistan pipeline, it would raise serious concerns under our Iran Sanctions Act. Mauritius celebrated its 45th Independence Day on 12 March 2013. The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee was the chief guest at the 45th Independence Day celebrations of Mauritius. It is important to note that 12 March 2013 is also iconic for India because it is the anniversary of Dandi March as well. Apart from being the Chief Guest at the 45th Independence Day of Mauritius, Pranab Mukherjee also visited the World Heritage Site, the Aapravasi Ghat, where Indian labourers first landed. India as well as Mauritius share a mutual interest in various sectors such as science and technology, renewable energy, investment, education, culture and trade. The Dutch first settled Mauritius in 1638. Later, the French overtook it in 1715. Even later, it was taken over by the British. Mauritius finally achieved its Independence on 12 March 1968. The cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church chose Argentine Jorge Bergoglio on 13 March 2013 as the new Pope (266th pope). The new pope chose Francis as his Papal Name. He is the first non-European pope in almost 1300 years and first pontiff from the Americas. A Pope sits in the Vatican City. Before Jorge Bergoglio, no other Pope took the Papal Name Francis after Saint Francis of Assisi. Saint Francis of Assisi was the reformer of 13th Century, who lived in extreme poverty and preached his followers to preach the Gospel

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always, if necessary use words. After being elected as the Pope, Pope Francis waved his hands to the huge crowd gathered at St. Peters Square. Pope Benedict XVI, who was appointed pope in the year 2005 resigned from his position in February 2013 claiming that he was infirm to carry. He was the first pope in past 600 years to resign after Pope Gregory XII, who resigned from the position in 1415 to put an end to the Great Western Split among competing papal claimants. The UN Human Development Report 2013 was released on 14 March 2013, according to which India has poor Gender Inequality Index, apart from the overall poor Human Development Index (HDI). Apart from Afghanistan that got a rank of 147 in comparison to 132 of India, all the countries in the region of South Asia were ranked higher on Gender Inequality Index. China was also ranked very high on Gender Inequality Index. This Gender Inequality Index measures the inequality in terms of achievements between males and females in three main aspects namely, labour market, reproductive health and empowerment. Women representation in Parliament in India is only 10.9 percent. The only worse country than India is Iran with 3.1 percent. The country that has best representation of women in Parliament is Nepal with 33.2 percent. India ranks badly on the Maternal Mortality Ratio as well. Maternal Mortality Ratio measures the ratio of the number of maternal deaths to the number of live births in a given year. It is expressed per 100000 live births. In India, for every 100000 births, 200 women die during the childbirth or due to complications in childbearing. The only countries to have higher Maternal Mortality Ratio than India are Bangladesh (240), Pakistan (260) and Afghanistan (460). The countries with lowest Maternal Mortality Ratio are Sri Lanka (35) and Iran (21). The Human Development Index (HDI) is a combined index which measures the average achievements of the countries in three main human development dimensions. These dimensions are decent standard of living, knowledge and long and healthy life. In the 2013 Human Development Index (HDI) report, analysis of the 40 developing countries in South Asia was done. Police in the Maldives detained Opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed on 5 March. Twenty masked policemen in riot gear arrested Mr. Nasheed (45) at his family home in the Capital Male. Authorities said Mr. Nasheed was taken into custody on a court order and would appear in magistrates court on 6 March to face abuse of power charges, stemming from his order to arrest a judge. He is not under arrest, but he has been taken into custody on a court order issued after he repeatedly evaded summonses to appear in court, presidential spokesman Masood Imad told. Skirmishes erupted between government supporters and opposition activists in the capital shortly after the arrest, but police quickly controlled the crowds. President Mohamed Waheeds brother Ali Waheed was also roughed up by angry crowds, but police intervened to save him. Seeking to avoid arrest, Mr. Nasheed took refuge in the Indian high commission last month for 10 days and walked out only after an informal agreement was brokered by New Delhi under which he would be free to campaign. Presidential elections are due September 7. China unveiled a government restructuring plan on 10 March, cutting cabinet-level entities by two and dissolving its powerful railways ministry, as the country's new leaders look to boost efficiency and combat corruption. The reforms mark the biggest reduction in ministries since 1998 when then-premier Zhu Rongji oversaw the overhaul of the State Council, and coincides with growing public concern over transparency and overlapping bureaucracies. The government will join the Family Planning Commission, the agency that controls the controversial one-child policy with the health ministry, and strengthen the powers of the food and drug regulators. The railways ministry and Family Planning Commission have been particularly unpopular, and their restructuring was widely expected. The railways ministry has faced numerous problems over the past few years, including heavy debts from funding new high-speed lines, waste and fraud. Railways planning will be coordinated under the broader transport ministry. The government has pledged to open the rail industry to private investment on an unprecedented scale. Family planning officials, meanwhile, have been known to compel women to have abortions to meet birth-rate targets. High profile cases have sparked national fury, such as when a woman in inland Shaanxi province was forced to abort her 7-month pregnancy last year. The reports said family planning must continue "on the basis of stable and low birth rates", but added that policies would be "improved. Chinas one-child policy is still generally enforced, although there are a number of family situations exempt from the rule. Venezuelan Vice- President Nicolas Maduro on 8 March 2013 was sworn in as Venezuelas acting president, despite the Opposition resistance as it is being considered to the violation of the countrys constitution. Late President Hugo Chavez who died on 5 March 2013 after two year long fight against cancer named Maduro as his successor before undergoing the latest surgery in December 2012. He picked Nicolas Maduro as the presidential candidate of Chavezs socialist party. As per the country's 1999 constitution, the National Assembly speaker becomes interim president in the event of a president-elect's death or inability to be sworn in. The constitution also says new elections should be called within 30 days. Leader of opposition

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Angel Medina boycotted the swearing-in ceremony, with the vast majority of opposition legislators who havent attended the ceremony. Pakistan's parliament on 8 March has passed a bill for setting up a new organization that will integrate counter-terrorism efforts by different bodies in the wake of criticism of civilian law enforcement agencies by the powerful army. The bill for establishing the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) was passed by the National Assembly or lower house of parliament after incorporating some amendments suggested by law makers. NACTA, to be headed by the Prime Minister, will "unify and orchestrate national counterterrorism and counter-extremism measures" by several existing organizations. Besides the Prime Minister, the board of NACTA will include the Interior, Finance and Defence Ministers, the Chief Ministers of all provinces and the chiefs of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau , Military Intelligence and Federal Investigation Agency. The authority will be assisted by an executive committee headed by the Interior Minister, and a national coordinator and a deputy will execute the board's policies and the government's instructions NACTA will also be responsible for conducting scientific studies on extremism and terrorism. It will coordinate with law enforcement agencies for taking action against elements involved in terrorism and extremism and play a key role in preparing national counter- terrorism and extremism strategies. The bill is the latest in a series of anti-terrorism laws authored by the outgoing Pakistan People's Party-led coalition government. It must be passed by the Senate or upper house of parliament to become law. NACTA will be established within 90 days of the bill receiving presidential assent. In recent weeks, civilian law enforcement agencies have been repeatedly criticized by the army for failing to control banned groups like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has carried out a string of attacks on the minority Shia sect that killed some 250 people. Kenyan Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta has won the country's presidential elections by slight margin defeating Prime Minister Rohila Odinga. A win by Kenyatta could greatly affect Kenya's relations with the West. Kenyatta faces charges at the International Criminal Court for his alleged role in directing some of Kenya's 2007 post-election violence. The US has warned of "consequences" if Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's founding father, wins, as have several European countries. Britain, which ruled Kenya up until the early 1960s, has said they would have only essential contact with the Kenyan government if Kenyatta is president. The election outcome is being closely watched by the US and Europe. The US Embassy in Kenya is larger than any American mission in Africa, underscoring Kenya's strong role in US foreign policy. The US also has military forces stationed here near the border with Somalia. Kenya, the lynchpin of East Africa's economy, plays a vital security role in the fight against Somali militants. Kenyatta's International Criminal Court trial is set to begin in July and could take years, meaning that if he wins he may have to rule Kenya from The Hague, Netherlands, for much of his five-year term. Another option is, as president, to decide not to attend the trial. But that decision would trigger an international arrest warrant and spark even more damaging effects for Kenya's standing with the West. Kenyatta has promised to report to The Hague, even if he wins the presidency. Odinga's camp may have grounds to file legal challenges after myriad failures in the systems Kenya's electoral commission set up. The US President, Barack Obama on 7 March 2013 signed into law, the Violence against Women Act Reauthorization 2013 in Washington. The Violence against Women Act was first passed in 1994. Reauthorized since then, the new Act offers support to the organizations which serve to the victims of domestic violence. Usually, the local authorities are responsible for criminal prosecutions of abusers, but now the Act made a stricter sentence for stalking under the federal law. The Violence against Women Act of 1994 is primarily a US Federal Law which was signed in 1994 by President Bill Clinton. The Act established the Office on Violence against Women in the Department of Justice. The new Act creates as well as expands the federal programs for helping local communities for the purpose of law enforcement as well as helping the victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. The most important feature was offering protection to the transgender, bisexual and gay victims of the domestic abuse. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) sanctioned 42 firms and 38 individuals for engaging in corrupt practices while implementing projects financed by the Manila-based lender last year. ADB said it also barred 57 firms and 51 individuals from seeking ADB-financed contracts as part of a cross debarment agreement it forged with four other multilateral lending institutions, Xinhua reported. The Office of AntiCorruption and Integrity (OAI) of the ADB reported that it received 240 complaints and opened 114 new investigations in 2012. The bulk of the complaints involved fraudulent misrepresentations about qualifications, experience, and technical capabilities of consulting firms, contractors, and individuals seeking work from ADB. The Manila-based lender said it has toughened measures to battle fraud and corruption as complaints reached a new annual high in 2012. ADB piloted project procurement-related spot reviews aimed at strengthening monitoring and compliance. The OAI also provides substantial support and advice to management and project

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teams on issues relating to integrity, money laundering, and financing of terrorism risks, particularly for its public and private sector projects. John Kerry was sworn-in as 68th Secretary of State of the United States on 1 March 2013. John Kerry preceded Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Secretary of State has the role of carrying out the foreign policies of the President through the State Department that encompasses Civil Service, Foreign Service and U.S. Agency for International Development. In 1984, he was elected to the United States Senate. He won re-election for four times since then. At present, John Kerry is the 10th most senior Senator in US as well as the second longest serving Senator in the office. He held senior positions in the Senate in Commerce, Finance as well as Small Business Committees. Back in 2002, he also announced that he would contest for the President of the United States and was nearly elected as the President. Citing Russian and American diplomatic sources a leading Russian media source said, Russia and the United States may resolve their standoff on the U.S. global missile defense with Washington providing security guarantees to Moscow that the system is not aimed at Russian nuclear deterrence forces. Under a compromise formula being discussed by the two sides, the U.S. and Russian Presidents will exchange political declarations, pledging to cooperate on missile defenses and not to use them against each other, U.S. assurances will come in the form of a so-called presidential agreement that does not require legislative approval. President Vladimir Putin for his part will sign a memorandum of understanding confirming the agreement. The documents are also expected to set out a mechanism for mutual notifications, sharing of information, joint exercises and threat assessment. The breakthrough agreement will be discussed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at their first meeting in Berlin on7 March. Mr. Obama last year promised outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to show greater flexibility on missile defense after his re-election for a second term.

April
The High Court in the northwestern city of Peshawar on 30 April 2013 imposed a lifetime ban on former President Pervez Musharraf from contesting elections. It was the first time a court in Pakistan had declared a citizen ineligible from contesting elections for life. Musharraf returned in March 2013 after nearly four years of self-imposed exile to contest May 11 general election. The court observed that Musharraf abrogated the Constitution twice. The first was when he carried out a coup to oust a democratically elected government. The second time when he declared emergency in 2007 and detained 60 judges. Bangladesh got its first woman Speaker with the election of Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury by the Jatiya Sangsad on 30 April. Dr. Chaudhury, State Minister in the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, was nominated by the ruling Awami Leagues parliamentary party. Born in 1966, Dr. Chaudhury is also the countrys youngest Speaker. She will succeed Abdul Hamid who assumed presidency last week following the death of President Md. Zillur Rahman.Women now occupy many of the top posts, with the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Leader of Parliament, Foreign Minister and Agriculture Minister, all being women. A lawyer by profession, Dr. Chaaudhury entered Parliament for the first time as an MP from one of the reserved seats for women. She holds a Ph.D. from Essex University in the United Kingdom. The Federal Investigation Agency in Pakistan arrested former President, Pervez Musharraf in relation to the Benazir Bhutto murder case. He was arrested formally by the FIA Deputy Director from his farmhouse in Chak Shahzad. On 26 April 2013, he would be produced in the Anti Terrorism court in Rawalpindi. Musharraf is under the two-week house arrest because of his decision to sack the judges when in November 2007, he imposed emergency rule. The second case in which he has been facing allegations is in Bhutto murder case. Overall, there are three cases for which he is facing allegations, all of which date back to 1999-2008 rule of Musharraf as the Pakistani President. Turkey on 26 April 2013 joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as its dialogue partner. Turkey and SCO signed a memorandum of understanding in the Kazakh city of Almaty. This partnership between the SCO members and Turkey with strengthen the ties between them especially in fields like transportation and Economy. This would also provide maximum opportunities to fight against the threats making a collective effort. SCO was formed in 2001 as a regional security bloc to fight against the threats posed by radical Islam

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and drug trafficking from Afghanistan by China, Russia and four Central Asian nations - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The Serbian government on 22 April, approved a landmark agreement to normalise relations with breakaway Kosovo, but thousands of Kosovo Serb demonstrators rejected the deal. Up to 10,000 flag-waving protesters gathered in the divided northern Kosovo town of Mitrovica, demanding that the EU-brokered agreement be annulled and branding the Serbian officials who endorsed it traitors. The Serbian government approved the deal unanimously at an extraordinary session and ordered ministries to implement it, said government spokesman Milivoje Mihajlovic. The agreement could end years of tensions and put the Balkan rivals on a path to EU membership. The Prime Ministers of Serbia and Kosovo reached a tentative EU-mediated deal in Brussels on 18 April that would give Kosovos ethnic Albanian leadership authority over rebel Kosovo Serbs. In return, the minority Serbs would get wide autonomy within Kosovo. Italian Centre Left Politician, Enrico Letta on 27 April 2013 formed a new coalition Government in Italy by winning the support of other parties. He will be the new Prime Minister of Italy. The newly formed Government will include former Prime Ministers Silvio Berlusconi's closest allies as deputy prime minister. The two months of political stalemate, since the general elections in Italy ended with this coalition. Enrico Letta met Giorgio Napolitano, the President of Italy to inform him about the coalition agreement reached with the leaders of the centre-right People of Freedom (PDL) party. With this agreement for coalition, the two parties Democratic Party (PD) and the People of Freedom party (PDL) came together for the formation of the Government. The new Cabinet and Prime Minister of Italy will be sworn in at the presidential Quirinal Palace in Rome. NASA has successfully launched three smart phones into space to snap images of Earth and the handsets may prove to be the lowest-cost satellites ever flown into space. Each Smartphone is housed in a standard cubesat structure, measuring about four inches square. The Smartphone acts as the satellites onboard computer. Its sensors are used for attitude determination and its camera for Earth observation. The smart phones destined to become low-cost satellites rode to space on 21 April, aboard the maiden flight of Orbital Science Corporations Antares rocket from NASAs Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia. The trio of PhoneSats is operating in orbit, and may prove to be the lowest-cost satellites ever flown in space. The goal of NASAs PhoneSat mission is to determine whether a consumer-grade Smartphone can be used as the main flight avionics of a capable, yet very inexpensive, satellite. Transmissions from all three PhoneSats have been received at multiple ground stations on Earth, indicating they are operating normally. The PhoneSat team at the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, will continue to monitor the satellites in the coming days. The satellites are expected to remain in orbit for as long as two weeks. The spacecraft also will attempt to take pictures of Earth using their cameras. The hardware for this mission is the Google-HTC Nexus One Smartphone running the Android operating system. International experts probing Chinas deadly H7N9 bird flu virus said on 24 April, it was one of the most lethal influenza viruses seen so far as Taiwan reported the first case outside China. China has confirmed 108 cases and 22 deaths since the first infections were announced on March 31 and Taiwan on 24 April, confirmed its first infection in a man who had recently returned from working in eastern China where most cases have been reported.This is definitely one of the most lethal influenza viruses we have seen so far, said Keiji Fukuda, one of the leading flu experts for the World Health Organization, which has led a team on a week-long visit to China to study H7N9.Mr. Fukuda told a news conference that the H7N9 virus was more easily transmissible than the more common H5N1 strain of bird flu. Experts had previously remarked on the affinity of H7N9 for humans. Taiwanese health authorities said their first case, a 53-year-old man who had been working in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou, showed symptoms three days after returning to Taiwan via Shanghai. The WTO team, however, said poultry were the likely source of the H7N9 outbreak as chickens, ducks and pigeons from markets had tested positive, but nevertheless warned over the potential for human-to-human transmission. French lawmakers voted to legalize same-sex marriage on 23 April, despite vocal protests from some conservatives opposed to the step. The nation's lower house approved a marriage bill, which would also give same-sex couples the right to adopt, in a 331-to-225 final vote. They cast their votes after impassioned speeches by lawmakers for and against the legislation. President Francois Hollande, who pledged his support for samesex marriage on the campaign trail last year, will have to sign the bill before it becomes law. After lower house vote, a group of senators filed a legal challenge with the country's Constitutional Council, according to a statement published on the UMP conservative opposition party's senate website. The court has a month to rule on the challenge filed by conservative and centrist senators. The measure had been expected to pass on 23 April since the left, which includes Hollande's governing Socialist Party, dominates the National Assembly, or lower

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house. The legislation was approved in the Senate earlier this month. If the measure is enacted, France would be the ninth country in Europe to allow same-sex marriage. South-East Asian leaders were upbeat on 25 April about progress made on an ambitious plan to weld the region into a European Union-style economic community as a counterweight to Asian powerhouse China, while efforts were stalling on South China Sea disputes. Leaders attending the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) summit in Brunei had hoped China would soon agree to start talks on a nonaggression pact to prevent a major clash in the disputed territories that could smoke out their regions robust economies. But China has given no clear indication when it would agree to negotiate such a stopgap accord, known in ASEAN parlance as a code of conduct. The ASEAN leaders said in a joint statement after the summit that they have asked their foreign ministers to continue to work actively with China on the way forward for the early conclusion of a code of conduct. We all agreed to encourage continuing discussions, dialogues and consultations at all levels, especially claimant countries, and to keep the lines of communication open, said Bruneis leader, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, host of this years ASEAN summits. During the summit, ASEAN leaders also expressed concern about North Koreas latest threats. Although overshadowed by security issues, an ambitious plan by ASEAN to transform itself into an EU-like community of more than 600 million people by the end of 2015 has sparked more optimism, with diplomats saying the bloc was on track to meet the deadline. Turkey Treasury Under secretariat on 26 April 2013 announced that it would close the debt chapter with IMF (International Monetary Fund) by refunding 422.1 million US dollars of capital as part of its 19th Stand-by. This will end Turkeys 52 years long indebter category from IMF. IMF was established in 1944 for economic cooperation at the UN meeting in the United States. At present IMF has 188 members registered with it. Turkey became the part of IMF in 1947 and till date has been successful in completing only two of the 19 stand-by deals. As per the new IMF regulation that was agreed in 2010, Turkeys quota was increased to 4.6 billion SDRs and will now be the 20th country in the highest quota share within IMF. At present Turkey is ranked 32nd in the listing. Turkey will be performing as the Director within IMF from 2014 to 2016 and 2018 to 2020. Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn-in as the new President of Kenya on 9 April 2013. He is the fourth president of Kenya. Kenyatta won in a tightly fought race for Kenya's presidency on 9 March 2013 against Raila Odinga. He won with 50.07 percent votes in the election. Uhuru Kenyatta is Jomo Kenyattas son. Jomo Kenyatta was the first President of Kenya. He also served as the Deputy Prime Minister (2008 to 2013), Finance Minister (2009 to 2012) under President Mwai Kibaki as well as Minister for Trade (in April 2008). Jubilee Alliance coalition nominated Uhuru for presidential race against Raila Odinga. Uhuru Kenyatta needed over 50 percent of the national vote to avoid a run-off. He received 50.07 percent in the election and became the President of Kenya. Uhuru Kenyatta's party, The National Alliance (Kenya) (TNA) formed alliance with United Republican Party (URP) of William Ruto, National Rainbow Coalition party of Charity Ngilu and Republican Congress Party (RCP) of Najib Balala. This coalition was called Jubilee Alliance coalition. Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad has resigned on 13 April, following a dispute with President Mahmoud Abbas over the limits of the former's authority. The president accepted Fayyad's resignation after they met in person, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa said. But Abbas has asked Fayyad, 61, to remain in his post until a new government can be formed. Fayyad has served since mid-2007 as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, the self-rule government that administers roughly 40 percent of the Israeli-controlled West Bank.His resignation is the climax of long-running and increasingly bitter dispute between the prime minister and the president. Both have been at odds over economic policy since finance minister Nabil Kassis quit last month, and rumours about Fayyad's stepping down were rife. Fayyad had accepted Kassis's resignation. But he was subsequently overruled by Abbas, challenging his authority. 25th Joint Meeting of UNWTO Commissions for South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific was inaugurated by Union Tourism Minister K Chiranjeevi on 13 April 2013 at Hyderabad. The event will enable India to showcase the rich heritage to world. In the year 2012, Asia and the Pacific region saw the highest growth with a rate of over 7 percent. The sub-region of South East Asia recorded the maximum number of arrivals within these regions with a growth of 9 percent. The Indian tourism growth of 5.4 percent in terms of foreign tourist arrivals was higher than the world average of 4 percent. During the joint meeting, the delegates shared the market trends of the region in the year 2012 and tourism prospects for the year 2013. Various bilateral meetings took place for developing intra-regional and inter-regional strategies. Apart from this, the issue of development of UNWTO Convention for the protection of tourists and tourism service providers and implementation of Global code of ethics for Tourism was also discussed. The meeting identified Visa, Taxation and Connectivity as three important determinants for the growth of tourism. The 25th Joint Meeting of UNWTO Commissions for South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific was attended by delegates from 21 countries, eight UNWTO affiliate

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members, two regional organizations as well as industry organizations. The next Joint Meeting would be held in Philippines and the 21st Session of General Assembly of UNWTO will be held in Cambodia. The International Monetary Fund announced on 12 April that it is recognizing Somalia's new government after a 22-year break in relations with the once-chaotic country, part of a general push by the United States, United Nations and the West toward encouraging rehabilitation there. The US formally recognized the African nation's new government in January, ie. The first time the US had recognized a Somali government since 1991, when warlords overthrew longtime dictator Siad Barre and then turned on one another. The UN Security Council in March voted unanimously to partially suspend an arms embargo on Somalia for 12 months for military equipment intended solely to develop the country's security forces and provide security for the Somali people. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama cleared the way for the US to arm and train Somali forces. The International Monetary Fund on 12 April, announced it was recognizing the Somali government of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who took office last September. The move will allow the IMF to offer Somalia technical assistance and policy advice. But the IMF said Somalia will not be able to borrow IMF funds until it repays some $352 million in arrears that it owes the agency. A relative peace has returned to Somalia's war-battered capital of Mogadishu since African Union forces ousted al-Shabab - a militant group loosely associated with al-Qaida - from the city over 18 months ago. But al-Shabab rebels are not yet defeated, and the US remains concerned about the threat the group could pose to the region's stability. Margaret Thatcher, Britains first woman Prime Minister who led the Conservative party for more than a decade through one of the most tumultuous periods in modern British history and became a deeply divisive political figure, died on 8 april following a stroke.She was 87 and was suffering from Alzheimers. Thatcher was the Prime Minister of Britain from 1979 to 1990 from Conservative party of Britain and was the first lady to hold the post of Prime Minister. She succeeded James Callaghan from Labour Party and a Member of Parliament from Cardiff South East.She resigned from her office in 1990 after she returned from the Euro Summit in Rome, after her policies and her style of government led to the growth of rebellion inside her party. John Major succeeded her in the office of the prime Minister. Margaret Thatcher was also known as the Iron Lady of Britain. United Nations World Tourism Organization ( UNWTO) Commissions Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development and 25th Joint Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for East Asia, Pacific and South Asia will be held at Hyderabad from 12th to 14th of April. Announcing this in New Delhi on 4 April, Union Tourism Minister K. Chiranjeevi said the need of the hour is not the tourism growth alone but development of tourism in sustainable manner. He said in this meeting, International experts; delegates from the member countries of the UNWTO Commissions for South Asia and East Asia and Pacific, UNWTO, various state governments of India and tourism industry will participate. During the conference exchange of ideas will take place on the way forward to develop tourism in a sustainable manner. He said the UNWTO will be represented by Mr. Taleb Rifai, Secetary General and his team. This meeting will also be attended by the Chief Executive Officer of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). The tourism Minister said that for the first time Ministry of Tourism will be sending an electronic invitation and itinerary in form of a short film to all delegates and invitees welcoming them to the city of Hyderabad. This film shows them in advance the venues of the meetings, dinners and tours. The film is being uploaded on the promotional website of the Ministry www.incredibleindia.org The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, in collaboration with the Government of Andhra Pradesh is hosting the joint meeting and the conference. The UNWTO is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. As the leading international organization in the field of tourism, UNWTO promotes tourism as a driver of socio-economic growth and development and advocates its inclusion as a priority in national and international policies. India is currently the chairperson of the UNWTO Regional Commission for South Asia. India accords great importance to the issue of Sustainable Tourism. As a commitment to Safe and Sustainable Tourism Development, India has developed a code for Safe & Honorable Tourism and Sustainable Tourism Criteria for the Accommodation and Tour Operators sectors. The UNWTO Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development will include a global review on sustainable tourism development and sustainable practices as well an industry and media perspective on sustainable criteria for tourism. Over 250 delegates are expected to participate in the Sustainable Tourism Conference. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina rejected the demands of Islamists for new antiblasphemy law, according to which the people who defame Islam or Prophet Muhammad would be punished. Sheikh Hasina declared that the laws which were existing earlier were sufficient for punishing people who insulted the religion. In recent times, a lot of Islamists in Bangladesh rallied in Dhaka for demanding the death penalty for people who were guilty of blasphemy. The Islamists gave three-week ultimatum to

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Bangladeshi Government for meeting the demands which included tough punishments to the atheist bloggers too. Bangladesh was a secular state in 1971 and became the Islamist state in 1988. However, the secular penal code is used in Bangladesh since 1980. In a move that could exacerbate tensions with its neighbors, China has announced plans to allow tourist cruises to disputed islands in the South China Sea, also claimed by Vietnam. China is scheduled to let tourists visit the Xisha Islands, called by Vietnam as Parcel Islands in the South China Sea ahead of the forthcoming May Day holiday. People will be allowed to visit the islands on cruise tours. The announcement came as China's new President Xi Jinpin in a speech called for peace and stability in the Asian region. Since last year, China has been asserting its rights on the oil-rich islands which it has controlled since a short war with South Vietnam in 1974.China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and the claims have been strongly countered by Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia. Recently, even Thailand objected to maps on the Chinese passports with a U-shaped mark claiming swathe of the sea running in counter to exclusive economic zones under UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea) by other claimants. The Supreme Court of Pakistan on 8 April 2013 directed the authorities of the nation to not allow the former President, Pervez Musharraf to leave the country. The Court is hearing petitions against the former military ruler and President Pervez Musharraf for challenging the Constitution and declaring an emergency in 2007. The petitions against the ex-military ruler by a two-judge bench led by Justice Jawad S Khwaja and the petitioners have challenged Musharrafs decision of obstructing access to Justice and detention of the Judges during the Emergency. The petitions have also targeted the decision of substituting the judges, who were appointed unconstitutionally. Before the hearing was scheduled to begin, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikar Chaudhary withdrew his name from the bench of three-judge bench that was constituted for hearing up the petitions. Musharraf, returned back to Pakistan on 24 March 2013 after completing a self-declared exile of four years to lead his All Pakistan Muslim League Party for the elections set to be held on 11 May 2013. The third SAARC Ministerial Level Meet on Poverty concluded in Nepal on 5 April 2013. The representatives from all the eight members of SAARC attended the meet and pledged to reduce regional poverty through strategic cooperation with each other. The meet that started on 5 April 2013 was inaugurated by the chairman of the Interim Election Government of Nepal Khil Raj Regmi. Before the Ministerial level meet, fifth SAARC secretary-level meet was held on 4 April 2013. The decision had taken that the formulation of a Common Poverty Reduction Strategy following the end of UN Millennium Development Goals in 2015.

May
Kyrgyzstan will shut a key United States airbase in July next year despite Washingtons efforts to retain the facility beyond its forces drawdown in Afghanistan. The Kyrgyz government is sending a closure motion to Parliament, said an announcement posted on the cabinet website on 21 May. The Pentagon has been using the airbase, which sits at Kyrgyzstans main civilian airport Manas in the capital Bishkek, since 2001 as a major supply centre for Afghanistan. It hosts about 1,500 U.S. troops and operates round-the-clock, with planes hauling thousands of troops and hundreds of tones of cargo every month. Russia, which is opposed to American long-term military presence in Central Asia, has long been lobbying for the base closure with the Kyrgyz authorities. The US Senate on 23 May 2013 approved Srikanth Srinivasan was as the most senior US Judge of the South Asian descent to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The unanimous approval of Srinivasan gave birth to speculations that one day he may be tapped for the Supreme Court. Srinivasan born in Chandigarh, India and raised in Kansas is the first justice who has been confirmed to the Washington court since 2006 a year after Chief Justice John Roberts elevation created a vacancy. He is the Principle Deputy Solicitor General and defends the policies of US President Barack Obama before the Supreme Court. Earlier he has also worked under the former President, George W. Bush. He is a proud recipient of the Attorney Generals Award for Excellence in Furthering US National Security in 2003. 91 people, including 20 children were killed because of huge tornado that went through Oklahoma City suburbs in US on 20 May 2013. The worst affected area was Moore, situated towards the south of Oklahoma.

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The tornado travelled with the speed of 320 kmph. Apart from 91 killed, 120 are seriously injured. The President of US, Barack Obama declared the Oklahoma tornado as the major disaster. Tornado is the rotating column of air which is in contact with the earth as well as cumulonimbus cloud, at the same time. They are also called cyclones or twisters. The tornado is encircled by the cloud of dust and debris. Most of the tornadoes travel with a speed of less than 110 miles per hour and are around 250 feet across. Before dissipating, they travel to several kilometres. President Robert Mugabe on 22 May 2013 signed Zimbabwe's new constitution into law, clearing the path to crucial elections later this year. The constitution was unopposed through both houses of parliament. The new constitution was approved overwhelmingly in a referendum in March 2013.The constitution cut short the powers of the president, limits presidential tenures to two five-year terms and does away with the post of prime minister. However, it does not apply retroactively so the 89-year-old Mugabe could technically extend his three decades in office by another 10 years. A new constitution is one of the pre-conditions for elections to pick a successor to the power-sharing government Mugabe formed four years ago with Tsvangirai. The date for the elections is yet to be announced. China has indicated it will go ahead with building infrastructure in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) despite Indias concerns, signing a memorandum of understanding with Pakistan on a transport corridor expected to pass through the disputed region. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who on 24 May, wrapped up a two-day visit to Pakistan following his trip to India, called on both countries to start formulating a long-term plan for the China-Pakistan economic corridor project and gradually push forward its construction, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Both countries signed an MoU to cooperate on a long-term plan on the corridor, among 11 agreements announced during Mr. Lis visit. Chinese planners have called for a transport and economic corridor to link Chinas far-western Xinjiang region to the port of Gwadar, on the Arabian Sea, which China helped build and is now managing. The corridor, they hope, will speed up development in Xinjiang, which has seen intermittent unrest, and also open up a new route for Chinas energy imports from West Asia. The corridor will pass through PoK, which borders Xinjiang and provides the only feasible transport link between China and Pakistan. Pakistan's new parliament sworn in the capital on 31 May, Islamabad, in that country's first-ever democratic transition of power. The swearing-in ceremony took place amid tight security around the city's "Red Zone," where key government buildings are located. A new speaker should be elected by secret ballot on June 3.The new Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, whose Pakistan Muslim League (N) party won Mays elections, should be formally elected by the lower house and sworn in two days later. Sharif's party commands 177 of the 342 seats in the assembly. That gives it significant leverage if it seeks to oust President Asif Ali Zardari when his term expires in September. Zardari was credited with steering Pakistan to its democratic milestone by holding together the fractious coalition government led by his Pakistan People's Party for its full five-year term. In a historic milestone for the Sikhs in Pakistan, Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora has become the first person from the minority community to enter the Punjab province assembly, since the country's independence in 1947. Arora belongs to Narowal district, 80 km from Lahore, and is associated with the Pakistan Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee. He took oath along with 340 other lawmakers during the first session of the new Punjab Assembly on 1 June. He was nominated to a seat reserved for minority communities by the PML-N, which has formed governments in Punjab and at the centre after its victory in the May 11 polls. "June 1 will be remembered as a special day as it brought a triumph to the local Sikh community and other minorities living peacefully in Pakistan," he said. Arora said he would work to rehabilitate historical and religious sites of the Sikhs. Media reports described Arora's induction as a member of the provincial assembly as a "historic milestone for the Sikh community". According to World Health Organization, World No-Tobacco day is observed every year on 31 May 2013. The Theme this year is Ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. WHO urged Governments (with its message free yourself) everywhere to address this needless threat to public health. The day is meant to highlight the risks associated with tobacco usage and reduce its consumption. Tobacco is the single largest cause of preventable death globally and approximately 5.5 million people die around the world every year - with India accounting for nearly a fifth of this. The primary risk of tobacco usage includes many forms of cancers. The ultimate goal is to contribute to protect present and future generations not only from these devastating health consequences, but also against the social, environmental and economic scourges of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.

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The President of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas on 2 June 2013 named Rami Hamdallah as his new Prime Minister. Rami Hamdallah replaced Western-favored economist Salam Fayyad who had left the office of Prime Minister in April 2013 and formally quit now. Rami Hamdallah is a member of Fatah Palestinian National Authority which is headed by Mahmoud Abbas. He also served as secretary general of the Palestinian central elections commission. On 27 April 2013, Mahmoud Abbas, the President had announced about the commencement of consultations for forming the unity government under his leadership. This had to be done in line with the reconciliation deal between rival Islamist movement Hamas and Fatah. Hamas, the controller of the Gaza strip, however termed Rami Hamdallahs appointment as the PM, illegal. Nigeria's House of Representatives on 30 May, has voted to ban gay marriage and outlaw any groups actively supporting gay rights, endorsing a measure that also calls for 10-year prison sentences for any "public show" of affection by a same-sex couple. Representatives appeared to unanimously approve the proposal in a voice vote, sending it immediately to President Goodluck Jonathan for him to potentially sign into law in Africa's most populous nation. It wasn't immediately clear if Jonathan would sign the measure, though gays and lesbians already face public ridicule and possible prison sentences in Nigeria. Under the proposed law, Nigeria would ban any same-sex marriage from being conducted in either a church or a mosque. Gay or lesbian couples who marry could face up to 14 years each in prison. Witnesses or anyone who helps couples marry could be sentenced to 10 years behind bars. Anyone taking part in a group advocating for gay rights or anyone caught in a "public show" of affection also would face 10 years in prison if convicted by a criminal court. Gay sex has been banned in Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people, since colonial rule by the British. Gays face open discrimination and abuse in a country divided by Christians and Muslims who almost uniformly oppose homosexuality. Across the African continent, many countries already have made homosexuality punishable by jail sentences. Ugandan legislators introduced a bill that would impose the death penalty for some gays and lesbians, though it was amended in November to remove the threat of execution. Even in South Africa, the one country where gays can marry, lesbians have been brutally attacked and murdered in so-called "corrective rapes. Nigeria has one of the world's largest populations of people living with HIV and AIDS. A 33-nation block of American countries has expressed the desire to open communications with the five-country BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa), Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Eduardo Rodrguez Parrilla told the media on 27 May. India has the distinction of being the first dialogue partner of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), followed by China. Formed in late 2011, CELAC groups together all states in the Americas, barring the United States and Canada. In August last year, Chile, the pro-tem Chairman of CELAC, along with Cuba and Venezuela, had held talks in New Delhi, with the then External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna for a strategic alliance that would include annual meetings, working together in regional organizations, and increasing commercial exchange. The troika then went to China and struck a similar alliance. As the Cuban Foreign Minister pointed out, CELAC was planning its next engagement with India on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September. Though CELAC had kept out the US and one of its major demands was to end the half-century-old American economic embargo on Cuba, its members include nations being led by parties with different ideologies from a conservative Chile to a vehemently anti-America Cuba along with several countries following middle-of-the-road policies as well. At the second CELAC-India meeting in September, the two sides will work on the creation of a business economic development forum, an agricultural working group and an energy forum. Earlier, at a talk at the Indian Council of World Affairs, the Minister pointed out that CELAC consisted of 600 million people, it was free from wars and had abundant energy and water resources. More Indians have stopped believing in God, according to the latest Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism. The report has found that the number of non religious people in India has risen. As against 87% saying they were religious in the same survey in 2005, the percentage has fallen to 81% in 2013. The survey found a 1% dip in the number of people calling themselves as an atheist. In 2005, 4% people said they didn't believe in God. In 2012, that had dipped to 3%. Globally, the trend is similar. Religiosity has dropped by 9%, while atheism has risen by 3%. The report says there is a notable decline across the globe in self-description of being religious. Pakistan is among the few countries which have seen an increase in the number of people who call themselves religious - by 6%. South Africa has seen a 19% dip in those calling themselves religious, US 13%, Switzerland and France 21% and Vietnam 23%.

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A total of 51,927 persons were interviewed globally from 57 countries across the globe in five continents. In each country a national probability sample of around 1000 men and women was interviewed. China has the highest number of atheists living in a single country with nearly 50% of its population describing themselves as non-believers compared to an average of 13% across the world. Australia is the world happiest nation, according to Better Life Index by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It has once again topped the world as the Happiest Industrialised Nation in the OECD report, which was released on 28th May, 2013. The OECD Better Life Index compares the well-being of 34 developed and emerging countries based on eleven categories including housing, income, jobs, education, life satisfaction and work-life balance. The Better Life Index found that 84 % of Australians are satisfied with their lives -- better than the OECD average of 80 %. Participants said they have more positive experiences, such as feelings of rest, pride in accomplishment and enjoyment, in an average day than negative ones. Australians' happiness was even greater than that of Canadians and Swedes, also known for high standards of living. The survey also found that Australians are living longer, with life expectancy at almost 82 years -- two years higher than the average. Employment levels are also stronger -- at 73 % compared with an average of 66 percent for people aged 15 to 64. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) has declared and designated the Nicobar Islands in India as a world biosphere reserve under its Man and the Biosphere Programme. Member countries establish such reserves. UNESCO recognizes them under the programme to promote sustainable development based on local community efforts and sound science. They are considered as sites of excellence, where new and optimal practices to manage nature and human activities are tested and demonstrated. The island chain is home to 1,800 animal species and some of the world's most endangered tribes. It is among 12 new sites added to the global network of biosphere reserves in Paris on 30 May. Such reserves are located in 117 countries and nine of them are now located in India. Chinese authorities on 16 May, have granted approval for an environmental assessment of a controversial 2 GW dam project slated to be the countrys tallest dam despite concerns voiced by a number of environmental groups. The Ministry of Environmental Protection this week said it had approved a year-long assessment of the Shuangjiangkou project on the Dadu River in the southwestern Sichuan province. Even as it gave the go-ahead, the Ministry acknowledged the project would affect the spawning and movement of rare fish species, as well as the growth of endangered plants, including the Chinese yew, which is under first-class state protection. The Ministry reasoned that countermeasures would help mitigate the impact. It called for protecting fish habitats and constructing seed banks for rare plants but did not say how it would enforce the measures. The Shuangjiangkou dam will have an installed capacity of 2 GW and will generate 7.93 billion kilowatthours of power annually, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. The project will cost $ 4 billion. At 314 metres, it will be Chinas tallest dam, surpassing the nearly 300-metre-tall Xiaowan dam on the Mekong river. The Shuangjiangkou dam will be 180-metre taller than Three Gorges dam. The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on 16 May passed a non-binding resolution condemning the government of Syria and calling for political transition. The vote passed with 107 of 193 nations in favour, 12 against and 59 abstentions, including India, representing a sharp fall in support compared to a similar resolution passed last August with 133 votes in favour, 12 against and 31 abstentions. Discomfort over signals of growing extremism within the ranks of Syrias rebel groups was apparent, with Indias Permanent Representative to the U.N. Ashoke Kumar Mukherji warning that, Unilateral action of any kind will not resolve the crisis... It will only exacerbate the problem and cause greater instability and violence even beyond Syrias borders. The International Monetary Fund on 15 May 2013 approved a three-year, $ 1.3 billion loan for supporting Cyprus attempts to stabilize its financial sector and to bring the Governments deficit under control and restore economic growth. The IMF loan to Cyprus is basically a part of a rescue package of 10 billion Euros (US $ 12.9 billion) counterfeit in March 2013 with the Eurozones bailout fund. The loan was approved by IMFs Executive Board which also includes an immediate disbursement of US $ 110.7 million.

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Counting the IMF disbursement, Cyprus has received about US $ 2.7 billion in the third week of May from its international lenders. The Luxembourg-based European Stability Mechanism, which is a Eurozone bailout fund, on 13 May, announced that it had approved its first bailout tranche for Cyprus and transferred an initial 2 billion euros (US $ 2.6 billion). The rest of the tranche up to 1 billion Euros will be transferred by 30 June 2013. On the eve of a major international donors conference, the European Union on 14 May, announced that it was pledging 520 million (US $ 674.8 million) over the next two years to help rebuild the west African country of Mali as a functioning state. The announcement was made by Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, the EUs executive branch, who said the investment would benefit Europe as well as Africa. Until a military intervention by France, followed by the engagement of other African countries, many international officials were concerned that Malis vast, ungoverned north was a haven for terrorist groups that, unhindered by government control, could feel free to plot attacks anywhere in the world. Officials in Mali have come up with a $4.3-billion-euro ($5.58-billion) multifaceted plan for what EU officials are calling a total relaunch of the country. The plan includes rebuilding government institutions and the military, staging elections in July, holding dialogues with rebels in the north, rebuilding roads and schools, reviving the moribund economy so that people get paid for working, among others. Indias bid for observer status in the Arctic Council was successful on 15 May 2013, along with that of five other countries China, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Singapore at a meeting in Kiruna, Sweden. Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, welcomed Indias admission. An MEA official spokesperson said India would contribute its scientific expertise, particularly in polar research capabilities, to the work of the Arctic Council to support its objectives. However, at the level of realpolitik, India will be looking at the opportunities for hydrocarbon exploration offered in the Arctic circle by joining hands with either of the five countries gearing up for the purpose the US, Canada, Norway, Russia and Denmark. When geography is considered Russia emerges as the most attractive partner. But for that to happen, India will have to take a firm political stand on the Lomonosov Ridge and the Mendeleev Ridge which Russia claims are an extension of its continental shelf. By supporting Moscows position, India could get access to the rich deposits and also utilize the North Sea Route. India has its Arctic research station named Himadri since 2008 that is located at the International Arctic Research base, Ny-Alesund at Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway. The station is operated by the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research. Indias approach in the Arctic Circle since 2008 has always been purely scientific. China became the first Asian country to navigate the area with a threemonth sea voyage in an ice breaker across the Arctic Circle. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on 19 May 2013 declared that it will start the work on worlds biggest hydroelectric Inga dam on Congo River in October 2015. DRC made the announcement on the construction of the dam in Paris after the talks between the DRC and International officials ended. The meet on the development of the dam involved multilateral lending institutions. The planned Inga dam project will produce 40,000 MW power and provide electricity to half the African Continent. Whereas, the World Bank has estimated that DR Congos total hydropower resources can generate up to 1,00,000 MWs. As per the World Bank estimates if the project is completed at full its capacity than it will be capable of providing power to about 500 million African households. During the first phase the Inga 3 Basse Chute project will have a capacity of 4,800 megawatts. The Paris meet of the DR Congo and the international officials followed the deal signed on 7 May 2013 between South Africa and DR Congo for cooperation in the energy sector. As per the 7 May 2013 deal, South Africa will buy some of the electricity produced by the project. The project will be developed on the powerful Inga Falls that lie is a narrow strip of DR Congo Territory, through which the Congo river runs down to the Atlantic Coast. At present, Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River of China is the world's largest hydropower complex, with a capacity of 22,500 MWs. North Korea on 19 May 2013 test-fired a short-range missile off its east coast, counted as fourth test firing in two days. The missile was fired into the Sea of Japan. Earlier on 18 May, the country fired three shortrange missiles off its east coast, considered as part of a military drill. The launching of missile by North Korea is not usual but it came at a time of sensitive alert on the peninsula followed by the Pyongyangs nuclear test in February 2013 which had led to tougher UN Sanctions. The launch of missile by North Korea was to demonstrate its military ambitions in rebelliousness of international sanctions and diplomatic efforts to convince the totalitarian state to return to talks. The first phase of Sri Lankas northern railway project, funded by a line of credit facilitated by India, was commissioned on 14 May. Coaches in chugged along from Medawachchiya in Anuradhapura, the North Central Province, to Madhu Road, marking the return of a crucial transportation link .Tracks along the 43 kmstretch were reconstructed as part of the $800 million-project, being executed by the Indian Railway Ministrys

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IRCON International Limited to restore the 252 km-railway line that would connect different parts of the country. Commissioning the service, Minister for Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa said India had been with Sri Lanka at every stage of rehabilitation and reconstruction of the north. The Election Commission of Pakistan on 14 May 2013 announced results of 272 National Assembly seats, with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML (N)) heading the count with 126 seats, followed by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) with 31 seats. The voting took place for all parliamentary constituencies of Pakistan to elect 342 members for the National assembly, including 60 seats reserved for women and 10 for non-Muslims, simultaneously voting took place for the four Provincial Assemblies of Punjab, KPK, Sindh and Balochistan as well. Pakistan Election 2013 was intended to elect members for its lower house Majlis-e-Shoora. Pakistan's opposition parties, Imran Khan`s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and PML (N) were the major contenders for the general Election. The 63-year-old Sharif, the Chief of PML (N) had twice served as premier. The party attained an overpowering lead with 130 seats. The first runner up is Imran Khan`s PTI with 37 seats and the last is the PPP with 31 seats. To have a majority in the 342-member National Assembly, a party or coalition would need 172 seats. The Senate or upper house of the parliament is currently controlled by the PPP. France's President Francois Hollande on 17 May 2013 signed the bill to legalize gay marriage. It makes France the ninth in Europe, and 14th in the world to do so. The move was opposed by many conservatives and the Catholic Church in France. As of May 2013, thirteen countries (Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, France, Netherlands, Portugal, Norway, Spain, South Africa, Sweden), and several subnational jurisdictions (parts of Mexico and the USA), allow same-sex couples to marry. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak began a second term on 6 May, after his Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition, which has ruled for 56 years, held on to power in elections branded as fraudulent by a bitter opposition. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim terming the victory worst electoral fraud in our history called for a protest rally. The ruling camp won the election with a minority vote. Barisan won 133 seats in the 222-member Parliament. The opposition alliance won 89 seats, an increase of 14, largely at the expense of non-aligned candidates. This makes Mr. Najib the first leader in four decades to win with a minority of the ballots according to Malaysian media. Mr. Najib (59), who had promised free and fair polls and has since brushed off numerous allegations of irregularities, was sworn in by the king in Kuala Lumpur. Russia and the US on 8 May, have agreed to work together to bring the warring sides in Syria to the negotiating table, raising hopes for an end to carnage in the war-torn country and a thaw in frosty relations between Moscow and Washington. Emerging from hours-long talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russias Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that the sides agreed to convene as soon as possible, maybe at the end of this month an international conference on Syria. The meet will be a follow-up to the Geneva Peace Conference in June 2012, which called for the Syrian government and the opposition to create a transitional government to steer the peace process in Syria. The Geneva plan got stalled because the U.S. demanded that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down as a precondition for peace talks. Arab countries on 1 May, have collectively agreed to accept an arrangement that would allow Israelis and Palestinians to go ahead with land swaps to resolve differences, rather than strictly sticking to the pre-1967-war position. Speaking on behalf of the 22-nation Arab League (AL), Qatar Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasem Al Thani, appeared to concede land swaps following a meeting in Washington of Arab officials and John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace. The Israeli establishment seemed elated by the development. The perceptible shift in the Arab position seemed to have the approval of the Palestinian Authority (PA), whose Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki was present at the meeting. Foreign Ministers of Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan and Qatar also participated in the talks along with officials from Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Joe Biden, the U.S. Vice-President, also attended part of the meeting. The ALs proposal in its original form was pegged around a full Arab recognition of an Israeli state, in case it gave up land captured in the 1967 war, and accepted a just solution for Palestinian refugees. The Israelis had earlier rejected the plan, which was proposed in 2002 at the AL summit in Beirut. Israel objects to the return to 1967 borders, the return of Palestinian refugees displaced in earlier wars, and the inclusion of East Jerusalem in a future Palestinian state.

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Days ahead of Indias external affairs Minister Salman Khurshids planned visit to Beijing, Official sources said on 5 May, India and China pulled back their troops from the face-off point at Daulat Beg Oldi sector in Ladakh, where the Chinese forces had intruded nearly three weeks ago. A group of Chinese troops estimated at around 50 and accompanied by vehicles and dogs had intruded 19 km inside the Indian Territory across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Daulat Beg Oldi sector on 15 April and set up five tents. Indian troops had also established tented posts facing the Chinese forces at a distance of 300 meters. The troops of the two sides held four flag meetings, the last one being yesterday. However, there was no positive outcome from these meetings, which went hand-in-hand with high-level diplomatic efforts to break the impasse. But an agreement was reached on 4 May, for both sides to pull back their troops simultaneously from the face-off point. The face-off in Ladakh had cast a shadow over the visit of Mr Khurshid to China on 9 May to prepare the ground for the new Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang's visit to India from 20 May. Libyas parliament on 5 May 2013 passed a comprehensive law, which bans anyone who served as a senior official under Muammar Gaddafi during his 42 year-long rule from working in government. The passing of such Political Isolation Law possibly will lead to the dismissal of many current leaders, some of whom had defected to the rebel side during the countrys 2011 civil war or had been elected to office since Gaddafis ouster and killing. The move is also likely to further stall the countrys already unsteady transition to democracy by ousting elected lawmakers. The General National Congress, Libyas elected parliament, voted overpoweringly in favour of the law. Almost 260,000 people, half of them young children, died of hunger during the last famine in Somalia, according to a U.N. report on 1 May, which admitted the world body should have done more to prevent the tragedy. The toll is much higher than was feared at the time of the 2010-2012 food crisis in the troubled Horn of Africa country and also exceeds the 220,000 who starved to death in the 1992 famine. Half of those who died were children under five, according to the joint report by the U.N.s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the U.S.-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network.Famine and severe food insecurity in Somalia claimed the lives of about 258,000 people between October 2010 and April 2012, including 133,000 children under five, said the report, the first scientific estimate of how many died. Somalia was the hardest hit by extreme drought in 2011 that affected over 13 million people across the Horn of Africa. China, on 2 May 2013, successfully launched a communications satellite called Zhongxing-11 from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest Sichuan province. The satellite was launched into its present orbit from Long March-3B rocket. Zhongxing-11 is mainly to provide services for the commercial communications and broadcasting. The satellite is also responsible for meeting needs of digital broadband multimedia, streaming media for clients, Direct-to-Home as well as data transmission for the Asia-Pacific region. Irelands government on 1 May 2013 unveiled the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill. It explains when life-saving abortions can be performed. Moreover, its a clarification of rights within the ambit of Current law. The bill mentioned clearly that anyone illegally involved in abortion could face a maximum 14-year prison sentence whether he is a doctor or a patient. The bill was unveiled following the death of an Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar in 2012. Maryland, the U.S. state located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, on 2 May 2013 became the first southern US state to abolish the death penalty. The measure on it was signed by Democratic Governor Martin OMalley on 2 May 2013. The person who was attended was former Maryland death row inmate Kirk Bloodsworth. He will be the first person in the country freed from death penalty because of DNA evidence after being convicted in a death penalty case. On the global level, Maryland is the 18th state to abolish the death penalty. The Governor can commute the death sentences of intimates to life without parole. The Governor OMalley has asserted that he will consider them on a case-by-case basis. The states last execution was in 2005.

June

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The United States Senate on 27 June passed a landmark immigration bill that will adversely affect India in at least two ways. It will deal a body blow to Indian IT services firms using the guest worker visa (H1B program) to win contracts in the US as it legislates higher fees and salaries, robbing Indian companies of their competitive edge. The bill will also pave way for fast-track permanent residency (Green Card) for foreign students who graduate in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) subjects, which may be good news for those seeking to buy their way into American residency through the education route, but will leach elite Indian talent. Compounding this, separately, Washington is also gradually setting up other barriers against transfer of capital and knowledge, undermining the long-held argument in New Delhi that brain drain has its benefits for India. The Senate bill actually increases the H1-B visa cap from the current 85,000 to 1,95,000 but to placate opponents of the guest worker program, the bill has provisions to penalize companies that are primarily dependent on these visas, which happen to be the Indian IT majors such as Infosys, Wipro, TCS etc. The US lawmakers have primarily attempted to shield the American economy and its job creation by shutting the doors on from low-cost competition from them, while opening the doors to some 11 million illegal immigrants - mostly of Hispanic stock - who constitute a huge vote block. Negotiators at a United Nations-backed forum in Marrakesh on 27 June adopted a landmark copyright treaty to enhance access to books for millions of people who are blind or visually impaired. The treaty, approved after more than a week of intense debate among negotiators meeting under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), is the culmination of years of work on improving access for the blind, visually impaired, and print-disabled persons to published works in formats such as Braille, large print text and audio books. This treaty is a victory for the blind, visually impaired and print disabled, but also for the multilateral system, said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 31.4 crore blind and visually impaired persons in the world, 90 per cent of whom live in developing countries. The treaty, called the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print Disabled, requires parties to adopt national law provisions that permit the reproduction, distribution and making available published works in accessible formats without having to seek permission from copyright holders in each case. The treaty also ensures authors and publishers that the system will not expose their published works to misuse or distribution to anyone other than the intended beneficiaries. On June 25, President Obama laid out his three-part plan to address climate change during a speech at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Scientific measurements accumulated and reviewed over decades tell us our plant is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on all of human kind, he said. The 12 warmest years in recorded history have all come in the last 15 years, Obama said. Last year temperatures in some areas of the ocean reached record highs, and ice in the Arctic shrank to its smallest size on record, faster than most models had predicted it would. These are facts. Now, we know that no single weather event is caused solely by climate change. Droughts and fires and floods, they go back to ancient times, but we also know that in a world that is warmer than it used to be. All weather events are affected by a warming planet. During his speech, Obama also noted that 97 percent of scientistsincluding some that have previously disputed climate change datahave now acknowledged the planet is warming and human activity is contributing to it. The question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it is too late, he continued. How we answer will have a profound impact of the world we leave behind. The first part of the three-part plan includes actions directed at cutting carbon pollution in America. The second component of the presidents action plan aims to prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change, while the third calls for our nation to leads global efforts to address climate change. Thirty ninth G8 Summit was held at Lough Erne in Northern Ireland from 17-18 June 2013. The twoday summit was presided over by the David Cameron, the Prime Minister of United Kingdom.

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The two-day summit was attended by the leaders from G8 Nations namely Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the USA and UK. Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, and Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council also were a part of the meet. The Lough Erne Declaration from the G8 Summit 2013 sets out agreed principles for the future. The declaration focused on private enterprises which would drive growth, help in reduction of poverty and creation of jobs and prosperity for people around the world. It also sets out that governments have a special responsibility to make proper rules and promote good governance. In addition, fair taxes, increased transparency and open trade are vital drivers of this. The UK assumed the one-year Presidency of the G8 in January 2013 and thus David Cameron, the Prime Minister of United Kingdom was the presiding leader of the 39th Summit. Julia Gillard, Australias first female Prime Minister, on 26 June, had to step down from position as she last intra-party election to her long-standing rival Kevin Rudd. She was voted down to give Rudd the party premiership ahead of the forthcoming general election. The meeting, summoned at just a few hours notice, was the climax to months of in-fighting as Labour MPs faced up to the near-certainty of their partys defeat in an election which Ms Gillard had declared would be held in September, Gillard, 51, who hails Wales and migrated to Australia had been at the centre of a longrunning gender war in which she endured persistent mockery. She said that she would retire from politics and would not contest in the coming elections, which was the condition for the loser of the intra-party poll. She believed that she had suffered from the continuing sexist furore surrounding her leadership. It has not been an easy environment to work in, she said. Croatia has become the 28th member of the European Union, with crowds joining celebrations in the capital Zagreb. The membership became effective at midnight of 30 June, with President Ivo Josipovic describing the event as historic. It comes almost two decades after Croatia's brutal war of independence. But Analysts say enthusiasm for the EU in the country has been dampened by the euro zone crisis, and Croatia's own economic problems. Italy has ratified Istanbul Convention which aims to combat violence against women. The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) was opened for signature on May 11, 2011, in Istanbul, Turkey. The convention aims at prevention of violence, victim protection and to end with the impunity of perpetrators. It has been signed by 29 countries and on 12 March 2012 Turkey became the first country to ratify the Convention, followed by three countries in 2013 (Albania, Montenegro, Portugal). World Bank will provide $255 million (Rs 1,499.6 crore) loan to India for National AIDS Control Project to promote safe behavior among high risk groups. The closing date of NACP IV is September 30, 2017, the Finance Ministry said in a statement on 17 June. An agreement for loan of USD 255 million (equivalent) from World Bank for the 'National AIDS Control Project (NACP-IV)' was signed in New Delhi on 17 June, between India and the World Bank, it said. The Ministry said: "The objective of the project is to increase safe behaviors among high risk groups in order to contribute to India's national goal of reversal of the HIV epidemic by 2017."The project aims at scaling-up targeted prevention interventions, behavior change communications and institutional strengthening at the national, state and district levels. The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO decided on 20 June, to inscribe Mount Fuji on the U.N. agencys prestigious World Heritage list. The 3,776-meter volcano straddling Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures was approved by the 21-member panel of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization during its 37th session in Cambodias capital. Japans highest and most celebrated peak was designated a cultural rather than natural site and registered under the title Mt. Fuji: Object of Worship, Wellspring of Art.It is Japans 17th site to make the list and the first since the historic Hiraizumi area in Iwate Prefecture and the Ogasawara Islands in the Pacific won approval in 2011.Fuji spans roughly 70,000 hectares, including Sengen Shrine at its foot, five major lakes, the Shiraito Falls and the Miho-no-Matsubara pine grove.

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Malis government has signed a peace deal with Tuareg rebels on 19 June, to help pave the way for elections next month. The planned elections on 28 July, will be the first in Mali since the military staged a coup in 2012, accusing the government of failing to end the conflict in the north. The deal was reached after nearly two weeks of talks brokered by Burkina Fasos President Blaise Compaore in the Burkina capital, Ouagadougou. The accord calls for an immediate ceasefire and for government troops to return to the last rebel-held northern town of Kidal. The rebels captured Kidal after a French-led offensive forced militant Islamists out of the town in January. The Tuaregs have been fighting for autonomy in the north since Mali gained independence from France in 1960. They say they are marginalized by the government in the capital, Bamako. Foreign ministers of the Friends of Syria group, who are meeting in Qatar on 22 June, have agreed to provide urgent support to rebels who are fighting President Bashar al-Assad. Qatar's PM Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani said "providing arms may be the only means of achieving peace". The group also condemned the Syrian government for its use of Iranian and Hezbollah fighters. More than 90,000 people have died in more than two years of conflict. The Syrian government says it is fighting foreign-backed "terrorists". The Friends of Syria group includes the US, Britain, France and Germany as well as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and Jordan. Hezbollah is a proxy for Iran... Hezbollah in addition to that is a terrorist organization. That is a very, very dangerous development said, John Kerry US Secretary of State. Support would be channeled through the Western-backed rebel military command.The group also called on the immediate withdrawal of Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian fighters from Syria.The meeting in Qatar's capital, Doha, comes a week after the US announced it would provide Syrian rebels with "direct military aid". That decision followed what the US said was evidence of small-scale chemical weapon attacks by the government. The Friends of Syria group was set up in response to moves by Russia and China to block UN resolutions on Syria. The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is a United Nations observance each June 17. Its purpose is to highlight ways to prevent desertification and recover from drought. Each annual celebration has a different theme. This years slogan, "Dont let our future dry up" calls for everyone to take action to promote preparedness and resilience to water scarcity, desertification and drought. The World Day to Combat Desertification has been observed since 1995 to promote public awareness relating to international cooperation to combat desertification and the effects of drought. The goal of the 2013 World Day to Combat Desertification is to create awareness about the risks of drought and water scarcity in the dry lands and beyond, calling attention to the importance of sustaining healthy soils as part of post Rio+20 agenda, as well as the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 17 the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought to promote public awareness of the issue, and the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa. Moderate cleric Hassan Rohani won Irans presidential election on 15 June, the interior ministry said, scoring a surprising landslide victory over conservative hardliners without the need for a second round runoff. Rohanis resounding election mandate could provide latitude for a diplomatic thaw with the West and more social freedoms at home after eight years of belligerence and repression under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was legally barred from seeking a third consecutive term. Rohani will take up the presidency, the highest elected office in Irans hybrid clerical-republican system, in August. Though an establishment figure, Rohani is a former chief nuclear negotiator known for his nuanced, conciliatory approach. He has pledged to promote a policy of constructive interaction with the world, but no surrender to Western demands for a nuclear suspension, and enact a domestic civil rights charter. Rohani could act as a bridge-builder between hardliners around Khamenei who reject any accommodation with the West and reformers marginalized for the last four years who argue that the Islamic Republic needs to be more pragmatic in its relations with the world and modernize at home in order to survive. His wide margin of victory revealed a widespread reservoir of reform sentiment with many voters, undaunted by restrictions on candidate choice and campaign rallies, seizing the chance to rebuke the unelected power elite over Irans economic miseries, international isolation and crackdowns on secular lifestyles. In an apparent move to convey political continuity to both domestic and foreign audiences, Khamenei congratulated both the people of Iran for the high turnout in the polls and Rohani for his electoral success. Greece faced a new political crisis on 12 June, as the government was hit with a storm of public protest and a looming general strike over its shock decision to shut down state broadcaster ERT. The broadcaster's television and radio stations were abruptly pulled off air from 12 June and its nearly 2,700 staff suspended as part of the conservative-led coalition governments deeply unpopular austerity drive.

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The administration quickly presented legislation creating a new broadcaster called New Hellenic Radio, Internet and Television (NERIT) to replace the 60-year-old ERT. Greece is caught in a six-year recession which austerity critics say has been exacerbated by successive pay and pension cuts imposed at the behest of its EU-IMF creditors. A bridge opened on 14 June, between Bulgaria and Romania, the second on the 500-km stretch of the Danube River that forms the border between the Balkan neighbors, is touted as a key to boosting growth in one of Europes poorest regions. It is part of the Pan-European corridor IV, linking Dresden in Germany with the Aegean port city of Thessaloniki and Istanbul further east. The cablestayed, steel and concrete bridge has two traffic lanes in each direction, a railway line, two pedestrian paths and a bicycle track. The only other bridge between the two countries was completed in 1954. World Day against Child Labour was celebrated on 12 June 2013. The theme this year was, No to Child Labour in Domestic Work. According to International Labour Organization, ILO, throughout the world, there are around 215 million children who work, many of them, full-time. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates 10.5 million children around the world are working as domestic workers in hazardous, sometimes slave-like conditions. The ILO report finds 6.5 million of the 10.5 million child domestic laborers are aged between five and 14 years. More than 70 percent are girls. The United Nations action plan has proposed that the ILO and its member states continue to pursue the goal of effective abolition of child labour by committing themselves to eliminate all its worst forms by 2016. The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the World Day against Child Labour in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. Each year on 12 June, the World Day brings together governments, employers and workers organizations, civil society, as well as millions of people from around the world to highlight the plight of child labourers and what can be done to help them. Dubai in the first week of June 2013 inaugurated the tallest twisted tower of the world called Cayan Tower at the cost of 272 million US dollar. Earlier it was called the Infinity Tower. It was inaugurated in Dubai Marina. With this, Dubai created yet another record of engineering marvels as well as skyscrapers. Cayan Tower is 310 metre or 1017 foot tall residential tower. It is 75 storey building which is twisted at 90 degrees from the top most position to the bottom most position.The developer of this tower is Cayan Real Estate Investment and Development Company.Construction of this tower started in 2006, but then it was delayed.The Cayan Tower has been designed by the masterminds of Burj Khalifa - Chicago-based Skidmore Owings and Merrill. Burj Khalifa is the tallest tower of the world with a height of 2717 foot. It broke all architectural and engineering records when it was inaugurated in January 2010. The Guinness World Records in May 2012 declared Princess Tower (the 1356 foot tower) of Dubai as the tallest residential building of the world. Also, in 2012, the tallest hotel of the world- JW Marriott Marquis Dubai was inaugurated. John William Ashe, the ambassador to the United Nations for Antigua and Barbuda in the month of June 2013 selected as the President of UN General Assembly for its 68th session. With his appointment, John Ashe stressed the importance of reflecting on new and emerging development challenges, with attention to two main goals: overcoming poverty and ensuring sustainable development. Also the New and revised partnerships are of vital importance in integrating economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainability. The sixty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly is going to open in September 2013. Norway will soon become the only country in Europe to extend its military conscription to women in peacetime, after Parliament reached agreement on the issue on 14 June. All the parties represented in Parliament, with the exception of the small Christian Democrat party, agreed to back a proposal by the centre-left government for a gender neutral military conscription. Norways mandatory one-year military service will be extended to women, probably as of 2015, according to the Defence Ministrys proposal. A number of other European countries have gone in the opposite direction in recent years, moving away from conscription towards professional armies. Norways Parliament is expected to adopt the bill by a broad majority, but a date has yet to be set for the vote. It is not due to a lack of conscripts: only 8,000 to 10,000 Norwegians are called up each year, among the some 60,000 who are theoretically eligible. Norwegian women have been allowed to do military service on a volunteer basis since 1976. Even before the adoption of a gender neutral military service, the Defence Ministry had set a target of 20 per cent women in the armed forces by 2020.Outside of Europe; some countries such as Israel require both men and women to complete their military service.

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The United States of America on 14 June 2013 announced to supply military aid directly to the Syrian rebels. The President Barack Obama made the decision, after his administration concluded that the Syrian forces under Bashar al-Assad were using Chemical Weapons. For the first time, US have made such an announcement. The US intelligence has suggested that about 150 people have been killed by due to the small number of chemical attacks in Syria. The decision to give direct military support to the Syrian rebels came up after President Obamas discussions with the European leaders over the Syrian conflict. The decision to arm the Syrian rebels by US Government has been opposed by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. On the other hand, Syria has claimed the US claim as fabricated information over chemical weapons for justifying its aid to the rebels of Syria. The Government of Pakistan on 14 June 2013 decided to declare Panja Sahib as a holy city. The government will initiate steps for sorting out the issues related to the welfare of the Sikhs, who live at the pilgrimage site. It is believed that Panja Sahib is the house of a rock that has the handprint of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion. This is a popular Sikh pilgrimage across the world. Panja Sahib is located near Rawalpindi in Pakistan. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on 13 June, that companies cannot patent parts of naturally-occurring human genes, a decision with the potential to profoundly affect the emerging and lucrative medical and biotechnology industries. The courts unanimous judgment reverses three decades of patent awards by government officials. It throws out patents held by Myriad Genetics Inc. on an increasingly popular breast cancer test brought into the public eye recently by actor Angelina Jolies disclosure that she had a double mastectomy because of one of the genes involved in this case. Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the courts decision, said that Myriads assertion that the DNA it isolated from the body for its proprietary breast and ovarian cancer tests were patentable had to be dismissed because it violates patent rules. The court has said that laws of nature, natural phenomena and abstract ideas are not patentable. The company has used its patent to come up with its BRAC Analysis test, which looks for mutations on the breast cancer predisposition gene, or BRCA. Those mutations are associated with much greater risks of breast and ovarian cancer. Myriad sells the only BRCA gene test. Opponents of its patents say the company can use the patents to keep other researchers from working with the BRCA gene to develop other tests. Ms. Jolie revealed last month that she carries a defective BRCA1 gene and her doctor said the test that turned up the faulty gene link led Ms. Jolie to have both of her healthy breasts removed. Companies have billions of dollars of investment and years of research on the line in this case. Their advocates argue that without the ability to recoup their investment through the profits that patents bring, breakthrough scientific discoveries to combat all kinds of medical maladies wouldnt happen. The court did rule that synthetically created DNA, known as cDNA, can be patented because it is not naturally occurring, said Mr. Justice Thomas. A German official source said on 13 June that the country plans to create an 8 billion ($10.6 billion) emergency fund to pay for damage caused by recent flooding. The Elbe, the Danube and other rivers overflowed their banks following persistent heavy rain, causing extensive damage over the past two weeks in southern and northeastern Germany. Fitch Ratings earlier this week estimated that the cost of damage in Germany would total about 12 billion. India will surpass China to become world's most populous nation around 2028, with its population crossing the 1.45 billion mark, according to latest report by the United Nations. The report named World Population Prospects says the world's population will hit 7.2 billion mark next month and is projected to reach 10.9 billion by 2100, with the growth mainly occurring in developing countries, with more than half in Africa. But, with the number of future global dwellers linked to fertility, the number at the end of the century could be as high 16.6 billion or even fall to 6.8 billion, it adds. The report says India is expected to become the world's most populous country, overtaking present Chinas position around 2028, when both countries will have populations of 1.45 billion each. After that, India's population will continue to grow and that of China is expected to start dwindle. India ranks 141st out of 162 in this years (2013) Global Peace Index (GPI). Iceland tops the list and Afganistan ranks at bottom. The major indicators that bring down Indias ranking are militarization, domestic and international conflicts, and corruption. According to the 2013 GPI, key drivers in making the world a less peaceful place are: rise in the number of homicides and countries increasing their military expenditure as a percentage of GDP.110 countries have seen their score deteriorate while only 48 became

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more peaceful, The GPI is the worlds leading measure of global peacefulness produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace. The list was launched first in May 2007, then continued yearly. It is claimed to be the first study to rank countries around the world according to their peacefulness. It gauges ongoing domestic and international conflict, safety and security in society, and militarization in 162 countries by taking into account 22 separate indicators. IEP is an international think tank dedicated to shifting the worlds focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being and progress. The notion of historic links between India and Britain may have acquired a whole new meaning following claims that Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge and the second line to the British throne, has Indian lineage. A British genetics expert has claimed that Prince Williams great-great-greatgreat-great grandmother, Eliza Kewark, who was until now thought to be an Armenian may have been half-Indian. It is said to be based on a DNA test of saliva samples taken from his relatives. Nawaz Sharif, elected Pakistans Prime Minister to an unprecedented third term, took office on 5 May. Speaking to Parliament after he was elected, Mr. Sharif (63) says, I will do my best to change the fate of the people and Pakistan. He had received 244 votes in the 342-seat Parliament and was sworn in by President Asif Ali Zardari. Mr. Sharif emphasized that fixing the economy was his top priority. He listed the problems facing Pakistan, including nonperforming assets, unemployment, disillusioned youth, extremism, lawlessness, and widespread corruption. Over the last five years of the previous administration, power outages some as long as 20 hours have plagued the country. Malnutrition is responsible for nearly 45 % of deaths in children under-five, according to new research report published as part of the Lancet Series on maternal and child nutrition. The research shows that malnutrition is responsible for the death of around 3.1 million children under five annually. Results estimate that stunting (retard growth of body) affected at least 165 million children worldwide in 2011 while at least 52 million children were affected by wasting (low weight for height), and another 100 million children were underweight. Over 90 per cent of these children were in Asia or Africa, with Africa the only major world region where the number of children with stunting increased. A study based on a survey of the height and weight of more than one lakh children across six States in India last year had found that as many as 42 per cent of underfives were severely or moderately underweight and that 59 per cent of them suffered from moderate to severe stunting. The findings contained in the Hunger and Malnutrition Report by the Naandi Foundation were described by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a national shame. Under nutrition affects development of a child, with consequences ranging from poorer school performance to increased susceptibility to infectious disease. The authors, led by Professor Robert Black of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA, performed a comprehensive new analysis of the different causes of maternal and childhood malnutrition to arrive at these conclusions. Studies were done on breastfeeding practices and deficiencies of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, zinc, iron and calcium. They also analyzed the consequences of malnutrition, including stunting, wasting and underweight (low weight for age), all of which result in increased risk of death and illness for both pregnant women and children. Deficiencies of vitamin A and zinc result in deaths; deficiencies of iodine and iron, together with stunting, can contribute to children not reaching their developmental potential. The Lancet reports that under nutrition reduces a nations economic advancement by at least eight per cent because of direct productivity losses, losses via poorer cognition and losses via reduced schooling. The U.N.s food agency has said obesity and poor nutrition weigh heavily on the global economy and told governments that investing in food health would bring big economic as well as social returns. Lost productivity and spiraling health care bills linked to obesity cost the world economy around $1.4 trillion a year, said the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Improving nutrition would boost earnings, with a benefit-to-cost ratio of almost 13 to 1, it said, adding that some 1.4 billion people in the world are now overweight and a third of them are obese. The FAO underlined that while there had been some progress in reducing hunger rates around the world, the problem of improving nutrition was still treated as a low priority by many countries.

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In its yearly report, the Rome-based agency found 12.5 per cent of the worlds population or 868 million people are still undernourished, while 26 per cent of children are stunted by malnutrition. A rapid rise in obesity is being seen in the associated costs in low- and middle-income countries, it said, pointing out that the highest obesity rates in the world were now in Mexico.FAO said rising urbanization, sedentary lifestyles and the increased availability of packaged foods meant policy-makers faced significant challenges in bettering nutrition and reversing obesity. The costs of under nutrition are estimated at two-three percent of global GDP, equivalent to $1.4 to $2.1 trillion per year, the FAO said. The agency urged global leaders to enhance nutrition in part through agricultural policies and promote behavioral change through education. The United States on 6 June, exempted India and eight other countries from having to adhere to its sanctions on importing oil from Iran, noting that these nations had significantly reduced their dependence on Iranian oil in the last six months. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said India, China, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Taiwan had qualified for being granted an exemption from rules under Americas Iran Sanctions Act, based on additional significant reductions in the volume of their crude oil purchases from the middle-eastern nation and for having reduced such purchases to zero and maintained it. Reiterating the U.S.s stand against the Iranian nuclear programme, Mr. Kerry said the international community stood shoulder to shoulder with the U.S. in maintaining pressure on Iran till it fully addressed prevailing concerns Todays determination is another example of the international communitys strong and steady commitment to convince Iran to meet its international obligations, he said. China has, for the first time, attempted to spell out its strategy and plans to secure its interests in the Indian Ocean in its first blue book on the region, released in Kunming on 8 June. The blue book makes a case for China to deepen its economic engagements with the Indian Ocean Regions (IOR) littoral states, but stresses that Beijings interests will be driven by commercial rather than military objectives. However, it warns that the Indian Ocean could end up as an ocean of conflict and trouble if countries like India, the U.S. and China failed to engage with one another more constructively as their interests begin to overlap. In a frank assessment of Chinas role in the IOR so far, the book laments that Beijing has trailed behind New Delhi and Washington in securing its interests. The 350-page books introduction says candidly that China has no Indian Ocean strategy, while India has put forward its own Look East policy and the U.S. has put in place its pivot or rebalancing in Asia. The book calls for China to be more proactive in securing its economic interests in the region. Official Chinese think tanks release blue books, which are policy documents that put forward recommendations to the government, on a range of subjects every year. The authors of the book, published by the official Social Sciences Academic Press, say it does not represent the governments official position. The book was launched only two days after China opened its first South Asia Exposition, a trade push led by Yunnan and backed by the central government. The book includes chapters on Indias Look East policy, the expansion of Indias interest eastward in an interlinked Indo-Pacific. and lessons for China on the decline of U.S. and U.K. hegemony in the region. World leaders on 8 June in London, signed a global agreement to fight malnutrition in children and made commitments of up to USD 4.15 billion to tackle the global menace. The participants, who signed a Global Nutrition for Growth Compact, committed their countries and organizations to reduce the number of children under five who are stunted by an additional 20 million in developing countries like India by 2020. Stunting affects around 165 million children worldwide and nearly 50 per cent of children in India. The World Health Assembly recently agreed a new global target of a 40 per cent reduction in the number of stunted children by 2025. Hosted by Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, the central London summit saw the participation of two presidents and four prime ministers from Africa, philanthropist Bill Gates, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Unilever chief executive Paul Polman, the Guardian reported. Top secret documents obtained by The Guardian claimed that US National Security Agency (NSA) has obtained direct access to the systems of Facebook, Google, Apple and other US internet giants. All this was done under the secret program of US to search the data potentially linked with terrorism, espionage or nuclear proliferation. The US agency tapped into the central servers of different internet giants under the six-year old programme, code-named PRISM. Under this program, the FBI and NSA searched for the emails, videos, photographs, search history, the content of emails, file transfers, live chats and other documents. Existence of the program PRISM was confirmed by James Clapper, US Director of National Intelligence. As per Clapper, the information accessed under the programme is among the most valuable

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intelligence information collected by the agency and has been helpful in protecting US from a wide range of threats. The IT companies which were directly into surveillance of the US Agency were Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Face book, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple and all these companies denied the knowledge of surveillance despite the of the claims that the programme was assisted by them. Over 60 countries signed the Arms Trade Treaty on 3 June. The Arms Trade Treaty intended to regulate the multibillion-dollar global arms trade. Signing the treaty will start the first crucial international campaign in order to curtail the illicit trade in weapons. The US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that US was the largest dealer of arms in the world and that it will sign the treaty soon, but the strength of the treaty was dependent on support by major arms importers and exporters. The Arms Trade Treaty was approved by the UN General Assembly on 2 April 2013. Signing of the treaty is first step of its ratification and it will take only be effective after ratification by 50 countries. The co-sponsors of the Arms Trade Treaty United Kingdom, Finland, Japan, Argentina, Australia, Kenya and Costa Rica announced at a conference on 3 June 2013 that on first day that the treaty was signed by a good number of countries. Bangladesh approved the draft law meant for the development of Hindu religious properties as well as for protection of these properties from land grab and encroachment on June 3rd. The Cabinet gave its final approval to the draft law. The Government decided to prepare a list of the Hindu charitable endowments also known as Devottar property. A management board will also be constituted once this law will be passed by the Parliament. A Hindu law expert Advocate Rana Dashgupta explained that since the British era, there is a law meant for protection as well as management of the Muslim Wakf sites. But no such laws have been designed for the Hindu sites. Over the past 10 years, thousands of land pieces of Hindu religious properties were encroached. Therefore, there have been increasing demands of the Hindus for curtailing the incidents of grabbing or encroachment of Devottar property.

July

Kate, Prince Williams wife, has given birth to a boy, a child now third in line to the British throne. The child was born on 22nd July, after many Britons woke up to the news that Kate had gone into labor with the couples first child. The birth announcement, via a press release from Kensington Palace, said the boy was born at 4:24 p.m. weighing 8 pounds 6 ounces. The royal birth recalled that of the babys father, William, in 1982, at the same Central London hospital. Many remember the moment when he was carried out in his mother Princess Dianas arms with proud father Prince Charles at their side. William and Kates son is expected to follow Charles and William to the throne. No one can tell what political and personal changes the intervening years will bring, but the baby can be expected to become the head of state of 16 countries, including Britain, Australia and Canada, and possibly the head of the Commonwealth, which covers 54 nations. The child will also eventually become Supreme Governor of the Church of England. A team of Israeli archaeologists believes it has discovered the ruins of a palace belonging to the biblical King David, but other Israeli experts dispute the claim. Archaeologists from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Israel's Antiquities Authority say on 18 July, the large fortified complex west of Jerusalem is the first palace of the biblical king ever to be discovered. One of the archeologists who led the dig says the site revealed the best example exposed to date of a fortified city from the time of King David,

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suggesting that David himself would have used the site. He says his team found "unequivocal evidence" that David and his descendants had ruled at the site, such as cultic objects typically used by Judeans, the subjects of King David. Critics say the site could have belonged to other kingdoms of the area. The consensus among most scholars is that no definitive physical proof of the existence of King David has been found. In a bid to make sanitation for all a global development priority, the United Nations General Assembly on 24 July, designated 19 November as World Toilet Day, urging changes in both behavior and policy on issues ranging from enhancing water management to ending open-air defecation. Adopting a new resolution, the Assembly urged UN Member States and relevant stakeholders to encourage behavioral change and the implementation of policies to increase access to sanitation among the poor, along with a call to end the practice of open-air defecation, which it deemed extremely harmful to public health. The resolution also recognizes the role that civil society and non-governmental organizations play in raising awareness of this issue. It also calls on countries to approach sanitation in a much broader context that includes hygiene promotion, the provision of basic sanitation services, and sewerage and wastewater treatment and reuse in the context of integrated water management. Of the worlds seven billion people, six billion have mobile phones. However, only 4.5 billion have access to toilets or latrines meaning that 2.5 billion people, mostly in rural areas, do not have proper sanitation. About 1.1 billion people still defecate in the open. The countries where open defecation is most widely practiced are the same countries with the highest numbers of under-five child deaths, high levels of under-nutrition and poverty, and large wealth disparities. World Toilet Day has previously been marked by international and civil society organizations all over the world. However, it was not formally recognized as an official UN day until today. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on 25 July 2013 officially launched his political party to contest Australian elections this year. According to him, the new party i.e. Wikileaks Party would be fielding seven candidates including Assange for upper house Senate seats in the states of New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. It is important here to note that the two Indian-origin persons are among the seven candidates who will contest elections on Wikileaks Party ticket in Senate polls in Australia. Indianorigin academician Binoy Kampmark, who was born in Malaysia and has Bengali heritage, will stand for the Upper House election from Victoria whereas Suresh Rajan, who is based out of Kerala, will stand for the party in Western Australia. The core value of Wikileaks Party's is transparency, accountability and justice are the template against which we will examine any important issues for Australians: tax reform, asylum-seekers, climate change policy and more. Australia will be going into polls in November 2013 where the ruling Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's Labour party is up against Tony Abbott-led conservatives. Julian Assange is held up at Ecuador's embassy in London since June 2012 where he demanded refuge during his legal battle for exile from Britain to Sweden. A senior United Nations team tasked with investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria's civil war began a mission to Damascus on 24 July, trying to hammer out with Syrian officials the terms for its investigation. It is the first such trip by international experts, and the talks were expected to be thorny - focusing on about a dozen incidents in which chemical arms were allegedly used. The rebels, the United States and others have accused the government of using the weapons of mass destruction, while Damascus and its ally Russia have blamed the rebels. The team was invited by the Syrian government to discuss the terms of a possible inquiry. Damascus agreed that the UN investigate only one of the reported attacks - a March 19 incident in the northern village of Khan al-Assal in which rebels and the government accuse each other of using chemicals weapons - but rejected inquiries into other alleged attack sites in the central city of Homs, Damascus and elsewhere. The U.S. and UN have called on Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime to grant the United Nations team unfettered access to investigate all allegations of chemical weapon use. Swedish chemical weapons expert Ake Sellstrom and UN disarmament chief Angela Kane arrived from neighbouring Lebanon for a two day visit, during which they are set to meet with senior Syrian officials, the UN said in a brief statement issued in the Syrian capital.

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The US, UK and other western countries and a section in the UN leaving no stone unturned to prove the existence of chemical weapons in Syria, but only want to establish such proof against the government. They have conveniently forgot the evidence submitted by Russia on alleged use of chemicals by the terrorist forces that are ransacking the country with support of Saudi, Qatar and the West. On 23 July, UN Mideast envoy Robert Serry said in the Security Council that the UN has received 13 reports of alleged chemical weapons use in Syria. He said Sellstrom's team is studying this and other material. Russia, Syria's close ally, has called the chemical weapons allegations against Assad's regime groundless, claiming Russian experts determined that Syrian rebels made sarin nerve gas and used it in the Khan al-Assal attack, in which 31 people died. Gay marriage to become legal in England and Wales soon, as the lower house of the British parliament approved the final changes here on 16th July. The law has Prime Minister David Cameron's backing, but split his ruling Conservative party.The law also had the support of Labour and the Liberal Democrats, Britain's two other main political parties, but damaged Cameron's standing within his own party with many of his own lawmakers criticising him for being too liberal. His own MPs had previously twice voted against it. Gay marriage will be declared legal as soon as the final assent given by Queen Elizabeth, which is a mere formality. The writings of Cuban Revolution leader Ernesto "Che" Guevara are to be included in the Uited Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisations (UNESCO) Memory of the World Register on 19 July. The documents include original manuscripts from his youthful Motorcycle Diaries days and his diary from the mountains of Bolivia where he was executed by that nation's military in 1967.They will now be protected and cared for with the help of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The Memory of the World Register comprises nearly 300 documents and collections from five continents. Guevara's works are among 54 new additions this year. European Union (EU) has issued a directive that will bar all 28 member states from funding projects connected to Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, including annexed east Jerusalem. The guidelines, adopted by the European Commision (EC) on June 28 and are due to be published on 12 July, will affect all EU grants, prizes and funding from 2014 onwards, with no further funding available to Israeli entities beyond the 1967 Green Line, a spokesman said. The new rules require that a clear distinction be made in all signed agreements between Israel and the territories it occupied in the 1967 Middle East war including the Golan Heights as well as the Gaza Strip and the West Bank including east Jerusalem. Israeli officials slammed the directive. A high-ranking official described it as a disproportionate attack on Israel. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin told army radio the Europeans had made a mistake and that the directive would undermine any return to peace talks with the Palestinians. Direct peace talks have been on hold for nearly three years, with the Palestinians refusing to return to the table without a freeze on settlement activity and Israels acceptance of the 1967 lines as the basis for final status negotiations. Israel says it wants to resume talks, but without such preconditions. Nelson Mandela International Day was observed across the world on 18 July 2013 to earmark freedom, justice and democracy. In November 2009, the UN General Assembly declared 18 July as the Nelson Mandela International Day to recognize the former South African Presidents contribution to the culture of peace and freedom. United Nations General Assembly Resolution, recognizes Nelson Mandelas values and his dedication to the service of humanity, in the fields of conflict resolution, race relations, the promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, as well as the upliftment of poor and underdeveloped communities. It acknowledges his contribution to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world. The committee in charge of international book industry named the South Korean city of Incheon the "World Book Capital" for the year 2015, announced the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on 19 July. The nomination was made by an international committee of experts representing the book industry and UNESCO, who met on July 16 at the Paris headquarters of UNESCO.UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova endorsed the committee's decision and welcomed the number and quality of applications received by UNESCO for the title of World Book Capital 2015. Since 2001 when Madrid was the first to win the title, UNESCO and the international organizations representing the three major sectors of the book industry -- the International Publishers Association (IPA),

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International Booksellers Federation (IBF) and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) -- select every year the World Book Capital for a one-year period. This initiative, in addition to the celebration of World Book and Copyright Day, represents a collaborative undertaking by key stakeholders in the publishing world and cities to promote books and literacy. Incheon comes as the 15th city to be to crowned with "World Book Capital," after Bangkok in 2013 and Port Harcourt in 2014. Opposition party, The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the National Assembly elections in Bhutan on 14 July, by having secured a majority of thirty two seats. The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) won fifteen seats and was elected as the opposition party. In 2008, the DPT had won the election by a landslide and won the first round of this year's polls with 45 percent of the vote. Bhutan's king had given up the monarchy's centuries-old absolute power in 2008 and allowed the introduction of democracy to the Himalayan kingdom. World's largest building opens in west China. China now has what is billed as the world's largest building a vast, wavy rectangular box of glass and steel that will house shops, hotels, offices and a faux ocean beach with a huge LED screen for video sunsets. The mammoth New Century Global Center that opened last month in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu has 1.7 million square meters (19 million square feet) of floor space or about 329 football fields edging out the previous record-holder, the Dubai airport. The structure is half a kilometer long, 400 meters wide and 100 meters high. The New Century project is a sign that China's growth has spread from the country's more prosperous eastern and southern regions to the west, where wages are lower and the central government has encouraged development with subsidies and tax breaks. With its booming economy, China has become home to some of the largest and tallest buildings in the world. The building also has a 14-screen movie theater and an ice rink. Irish lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favour of a groundbreaking law that will allow abortion in limited cases in the predominantly Catholic country on 11th July, following an outcry over the death of an Indian dentist after a miscarriage last year. Prime Minister Enda Kenny and his coalition government pushed through the protection of life in pregnancy bill, which will allow for abortions only when a woman's life is under threat if her pregnancy continues or if she is suicidal. The bill was voted through by 127 to 31 against after marathon discussions on 165 amendments. Ireland was forced to review its abortion law in cases where the mother's life is at risk following the death of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar in a Galway hospital last October after she was denied an abortion. China has cancelled the construction of a USD six billion nuclear procession plant in Guangdong province apparently due to public concerns over its safety. The planned nuclear fuel processing project in south China's Guangdong Province has been cancelled, state-run Xinhua news agency reported on 13 July. The planned Longwan Industrial Park project under China National Nuclear Corporation, located in Zhishan Township in Heshan City, was cancelled, the report said. The planned industrial park, with a designed capacity of 1,000 tonnes of uranium in 2020, was to feature facilities for uranium conversion, enrichment and manufacturing of nuclear fuel equipment, involving a total investment of 37 billion yuan (USD 6 billion). The brief report did not mention why the project was cancelled. This is the first nuclear project cancelled by China, which is embarking on a massive expansion of nuclear power projects. Earlier reports said local people had expressed concerns over the safety of the processing plant handling such large quantities of uranium. Public protests which are rare in China are now becoming common specially when it comes to preservation of the environment. Hazem El-Beblawi on 9 July 2013 was named as the new Prime Minister of Egypt by the Interim President Adly Mansour. A leading economist, Beblawi will form a caretaker Government that comprises technocrats from different walks of life. The caretaker government would play a major role in steering away Egypt through the transitional period. The interim President Adly Mansour also named Mohammad ElBaradei, a Nobel laureate and former IAEA chief as the new Vice-President of the country. In a gesture of reconciliation, the new designated prime minister of Egypt declared that his government will offer cabinet posts to the leaders of Muslim Brotherhood of the ousted President Mohammed Morsis Government. Earlier, Mohammed Morsi, the first democratically elected President of Egypt was ousted from his office following a military coup conducted by the Army Chief Abdel Fateh Al Sissi. The coup was conducted following the mass protests by the nationals of the country against Morsi and his Government.

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12 July 2013 was observed as Malala Day across the World and by United Nations. The day is being observed by the United Nations to highlight the fight of education of the Pakistani child activist Malala Yousafzai. Seminars, conferences and other ceremonies were held across Pakistan wherein scholars, educationists and analysts participated to pay tribute to Malala, who fought for girl's education in Swat valley against the Taliban. 12 July, the day of Malalas Birth was declared as Malala Day by UN General Secretary Ban-Ki-Moon on her 16th Birthday. Malala is the girl from Pakistan, who was shot in head and neck by the terrorists of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on 9 October 2012 for advocating girls for their right to education and speaking against Taliban. On Malala Day, UN awarded the United Nations' Special Envoy for Global Education's Youth Courage Award for Education to Razia Sulatana, a teenager from a Nanglakhumba village of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, India. Razia was opted for the award for her efforts to motivate 48 children to go school after freeing them, from child labour bondage. India and Iraq signed a pact to enhance co-operation in energy security, bilateral trade commerce, infrastructure and others on 8th July. The agreement was signed by the Union Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily and his counterpart from Iraq, Abdul Karim Luaibi at the end the India-Iraq Joint Commission on technical co-operation in Baghdad. As per the agreement, in energy sector, Iraq will supply more crude oil to India to meet the growing needs of energy in the country. Petroleum Minister M. Veerappa Moily is leading a 28-member delegation to Iraq to participate in the 17th India-Iraq Joint Commission meeting in Baghdad. Delegation reached Baghdad on 6 July 2013. Earlier, Salman Khurshid, the Union External Affairs Minister was on a two-day visit to Iraq from 19 to 20 June 2013, which was the first visit of an Indian Minister to Iraq after 1990 visit of Inder Kumar Gujral, during his tenure as Union External Affairs Minister. North and South Korea on have agreed in-principle to resume work at the Kaesong Business Park, a joint venture at the border between the two states. The deal was reached after 15 hours of talks held at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone. As part of the deal, both sides agreed to allow South Korean company managers to inspect their factories, as well as retrieve finished goods and raw materials. The Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma has, co-chaired the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) Economic and Business Conference in Port Louis, Mauritius. Member States and Dialogue Partners of IORARC, met in the Mauritius, for the First Economic and Business Conference on July 4-5, 2013, under the theme of Deepening Economic Linkages for Balanced, Inclusive & Sustainable Growth. The meeting was co-hosted by the Governments of Mauritius and India and brought together Ministers and business representatives from across the Indian Ocean Rim. First IOR-ARC Economic and Business Conference was in keeping with the decisions taken by the IOR Business Forum held in Gurgaon, India, during the IOR-ARC Council of Ministers and Related Meetings in October-November 2012,which recommended that business-to-business meetings have an important role to play for expanding trade and commerce between Member States. Discussions took place in the four panel sessions, namely:1).Unlocking the Potential of the Services Sector in the IOR-ARC (ICT, Tourism, Financial Services), 2).Enhancing Trade and Investment in the IOR-ARC, 3).Creating Agri-business linkages, addressing Food Security and Sustainable Development, 4).Ocean Economy/Blue Economy. The conference encouraged the concept of Open Regionalism and identifies trade as an integral factor in promoting economic cooperation and development. The Indian Ocean Rim-Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), initially known as the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative, is an international organization with 20 member states. It was first established in Mauritius on March 1995 and formally launched on 67 March 1997. In 2011 six priority areas of cooperation were identified for IOR-ARC, which include - Maritime Safety and Security, Trade and Investment Facilitation, Fisheries Management, Tourism and Cultural Exchanges, Academic and Science and Technology Cooperation, and Disaster Risk Management. Its full members are India, Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

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China and Russia kicked off their largest-ever joint naval drills on 5 July, in the Sea of Japan, a further sign of the broad-based progress in ties between the former Cold War era rivals. Eighteen surface ships, one submarine, three airplanes, five ship-launched helicopters and two commando units were taking part in the Joint Sea-2013 exercise that runs through July 12. The drills will cover anti-submarine warfare, close maneuvering, and the simulated take-over of an enemy ship. The drills are bigger than anything Chinas navy has previously held with a foreign partner. China has long been a key customer for Russian military hardware, but only in the last decade have their militaries begun training jointly. The naval drills are to be followed by another round of anti-terrorism joint drills in Russias Ural Mountain region of Chelyabinsk. Mohamed Morsi, Egypts first elected President was ousted from his office in a military revolt on 3 July 2013. After the revolt, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt, Adli Mansour has sworn in as the interim President on 4 July to oversee early Presidential elections of the country. Mansour will get the support of national unity government in running the country until the elections are held. The ousted President, Mohamed Morsi has been moved to an undisclosed location and a travel ban has been imposed on him from going abroad. After the revolt, the new military rulers of Egypt have issued arrest warrants for up to 300 members of Muslim Brotherhood .Leading liberal opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei on 6 July was named as Egypt's new Prime Minister to head a caretaker government. ElBaradei leads an alliance of liberal and left-wing parties, the National Salvation Front. He was named as Prime Minister after interim President Adly Mahmud Mansour held talks with the army chief and political leaders. The 71-year-old Mohamed Mustafa ElBaradei is an Egyptian law scholar. He was the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organization under the auspices of the United Nations, from 1997 to 2009. He and the IAEA were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. ElBaradei also played an important role in recent politics in his country, particularly the 2011 revolution which deposed President Hosni Mubarak, and in the 2013 revolution that ousted President Mohamed Morsi. The World Health Organization announced on 5 July that it had convened emergency talks on the deadly MERS corona virus for on 2 July, but said the move did not mean it was hiking its global alert level. The first recorded MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia. The number of infections stands at 79, with 43 dead an extremely high rate of 54 per cent, compared to nine per cent of the 8,273 recorded patients with SARS. Like SARS, it has flu-like symptoms but causes kidney failure.

August
A 25-year quest by nearly 1,000 scholars to document and present one of the world's oldest living traditions came to fruition when the 'Encyclopedia of Hinduism' was unveiled in the University of Southern California campus, Columbia, on 28 August. Hundreds of scholars, dignitaries, students, Hindu leaders and the public converged on the university campus to witness the release of much anticipated and definitive 11-volume guide conceived, compiled and produced by the India Heritage Research Foundation. Those present on the occasion included South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Indian Consul General in Atlanta Ajit Kumar and Gandhian Anna Hazare. The comprehensive encyclopedia has 11-volume work and it covers Hindu spiritual beliefs, practices and philosophy, and is the culmination of a 25-year academic effort. The English language encyclopedia includes about 7,000 articles on Hinduism and its practices. The work also deals with Indian history, languages, art, music, dance, architecture, medicine, and women's issues. It contains more than 1,000 illustrations and photographs. The encyclopedia's volumes run from 600 to more than 700 pages. Some 3,000 copies are being printed in first edition. Hinduism is the world's third-largest religion, with 1 billion followers, according to a Pew Research Center study. Christians number 2.2 billion and Muslims 1.6 billion.

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India on 31 August 2013 announced an aid of Rs. 5,000 crore to Bhutan. The aid includes economic stimulus package of Rs. 500 crore. The decision to provide an aid to Bhutan was taken by the Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India after his talk with his Bhutanese counterpart Tshering Tobgay at New Delhi. The Butanese Prime Minister is on six day visit to India and during this visit issues related to political security, developmental assistance and matters of mutual concern was also discussed between the two nations to strengthen bilateral relations. During the meet, the India also ensured the Bhutanese Prime Minister about its commitment to install an additional 10,000 Mega Watt of power generating capacity in Bhutan. At present three Indian projects are under process in Bhutan. Around 35 per cent of food is lost between harvest and distribution across the Asia-Pacific region, depriving millions of nutrition, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said on 27 August. Poor production planning, a lack of storage, weak transport systems, crop disease and parasites also cause some 30 per cent of cereals and 42 per cent of fruit and vegetables to be lost before reaching consumers, the FAO said in Bangkok. The FAO defines loss as food which does not make it from harvest to the market, while waste is food thrown away by consumers, restaurants and supermarkets a trend that increases with greater urbanization. The region, whose economies have boomed in recent years, wastes substantially less than more developed areas such as the United States and Europe. The FAO says that if just a quarter of the food wasted worldwide was saved, this would be enough to feed the 870 million people suffering from hunger, of whom 536 million live in the Asia-Pacific region. The trial of former Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case began on 27 August, at the anti terrorism court (ATC) in Rawalpindi. According to special public prosecutor Chaudhury Mohammed Azam, the evidence of the constable Kashif Bashir was completed and so was his cross examination. Four more witnesses, all of them doctors will be examined next week. Two of them had not come to the court. These were the doctors who had conducted autopsies following the December 2007 assassination of Ms. Bhutto in Rawalpindi. Last week, Gen. Musharraf was charged with murder and criminal conspiracy among eleven charges in the case. He pleaded not guilty and the court granted him exemption from appearing in court after his lawyer made an application that his life was under threat. The trial will resume on September 3. The Chinese and Pakistani air forces will hold a joint exercise next week. The joint drill will be held during September 2-22 in Chinas Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the Chinese Defence Ministry said on 27 August. The exercise, code-named Shaheen (Eagle)-2, is another cooperative project between the two air forces after the Shaheen-1 drill in Pakistan in March 2011, sources said. The drill between the two close allies is being held ahead of an India-China military exercise planned for November. That exercise, codenamed Hand-in-Hand, is scheduled to be held in Chinas Chengdu Military Command area from November 4 to 14. India and China are expected to field about 150 troops each for the exercise, which is likely to focus on antiterrorism manoeuvres. The 22-nation Arab League has opposed a military attack, despite holding the Syrian regime responsible for this heinous crime of chemical attack on civilians. On 28 August, Iran, a top ally of the Syrian leadership stepped up the level of its opposition in anticipation of U.S.-led military strikes in Syria. Irans Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned the Americans that the consequences of military intervention in Syria would be catastrophic, as Washington would incur losses comparable to its experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. With high stakes riding their mission, U.N. chemical weapons inspectors, who are in Syria, proceeded on 28 August to inspect the site where the alleged chemical attack took place. Counselling patience and restraint, the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the U.S. and its allies to give time to the inspectors to complete their findings. Ghanas Supreme Court on 27 August, upheld President John Dramani Mahama's victory in elections last year, dismissing the opposition's case alleging voter fraud in a test for one of Africas most stable democracies. The decision ended a month-long saga that had riveted the west African nation which is widely seen as a rare beacon of democracy in the turbulent region. In the December polls, Ghanas electoral commission said Mr. Mahama took 50.7 per cent of the vote over ex-Foreign Minister Akufo-Addos 47.7 percent. The first respondent [Mahama] was validly elected and the petition is therefore dismissed, presiding judge William Atuguba said, reading from the verdict issued by the nine-justice panel. The advocacy of war in Syria by the United States and its allies is meeting stiff escalatory resistance, with countries including Russia, China and Iran citing the violations of international law, regional

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destabilization, and the fragility of the international economy as arguments against a military intervention. As the drumbeat of war grew louder, Russia quietly decided to strengthen naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea close to the Syrian coastline. A Russian anti-submarine warship is now steaming towards the Mediterranean coast. The Russians made it clear that their deployments are in response to the situation surrounding Syria. By announcing their intentions, the Russians seemed to have reinforced the point that a conflict in Syria could quickly acquire a dangerous international dimension, as the area is already teeming with American and British warships. Irans recently elected President Hassan Rouhani counseled the U.S. and its allies to respect international law in their decision-making on Syria, which has been accused of mounting a chemical attack last week on the outskirts of Damascus. The Chinese have also been highlighting the negative fall-out of the escalating Syrian crisis on the global economy. In Britain, the opposition Labour Party seemed unconvinced about the justification of waging a war against Syria. The coalition government of Prime Minister David Cameron is confronting a growing number of skeptics in parliament who do not wish to repeat the Iraq experience, when a military invasion against Baghdad materialized a decade ago on the false pretext that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Thousands of people, including children were killed in the toxic gas attack on 21 August 2013 on the eastern suburbs of Damascus, the capital of Syria. Rocket barrages and intense artillery firing took place on 21 August 2013 and killed at least 100 people. The death tool, which is rising continuously, made it the deadliest alleged chemical attack in the civil war of Syria. The death toll ranged from 100 to 1300. The shelling started off in the eastern suburbs of Zamalka, Arbeen and Ein Tarma. The bombardment as well as sounds of fighter jets was observed on 21 August 2013. The White House said that the Obama administration was working in order to gather the information about the use of chemical weapons. It accuses that the Syrian government was behind the gas attack. The US also demanded UN to investigate the matter and start off the Security Council debate. Former rebel leader Michel Djotodia sworn in as president of the Central African Republic on 18 August, five months after seizing power in the violence-wracked country. Djotodia swore the oath of office on the Transition Charter, which has substituted for the constitution since the removal of President Francois Bozize, who himself had come to power on the back of a military coup in 2003. The UN said more than 60,000 Central Africans had fled their country and 2,00,000 have been internally displaced since the crisis erupted in December 2012. Germany will become the first country in Europe to join a small group of nations which recognise a third or undetermined sex when registering births, according to the sources. From November 1, babies born in Germany without clear gender-determining physical characteristics may get birth certificates registered without a reference to their sex, according to the report. The change is being seen as the countrys first legal acknowledgment that it is possible for a human to be neither male nor female which could have far-reaching consequences in many legal areas. While transsexuals are already legally recognised in Germany, hermaphrodites those with both male and female genitalia have always been forcibly registered as one or other sex at birth. The decision was based on a recommendation by the constitutional court, which sees legal recognition of a persons experienced and lived gender as a personal human right. Such undetermined persons will be allowed, at a later date, to identify themselves as the one or other sex and register the change on their birth certificates . Facebook and other technology giants launched Internet.org, an initiative on 21 August, designed to give the whole world access to the internet. The projects goal is to cut the cost of smart phone-based Internet services in developing countries.Everything Facebook has done has been about giving all people around the world the power to connect, The company founder Mark Zuckerberg said, There are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy. Internet.org brings together a global partnership that will work to overcome these challenges, including making internet access available to those who cannot currently afford it. Today some 2.7 billion people, just over a third of the worlds population, have access to the Internet and the number of new users is growing only slowly each year, a statement said. The other partners in the project are Nokia, Ericsson, Samsung, Qualcomm, MediaTek and Opera, while Twitter and LinkedIn also due to sign up. The seven founding partners are going to develop joint projects, share knowledge and mobilise governments and industry to bring the world online. The partnership emulates one launched by Face book in 2011 called Open Compute Project. That project was originally met with scepticism but has gradually won over the computer industry. The new thrust comes at a key time for tech

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groups. Mature markets are saturated and have little potential for significant growth, while poor regions like Africa, Latin America and some parts of Asia are pools of potential new customers. Robert Mugabe, the incumbent President of Zimbabwe on 21 August 2013 sworn in for his seventh term as the President of the country. He took oath to the office in the main sports stadium in Harare. Earlier, the 89 year old Mugabe of Zanu-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front) party won the Presidential election (Parliamentary Election) by winning 61 percent votes in his favour on 3 August 2013. Presidential election of Zimbabwe was held on 2 August 2013.The swearing-in ceremony of Mugabe was delayed due after his rival; Morgan Tsvangirai (won 34 percent votes) filed a petition against Mugabe in the court alleging widespread electoral fraud. The petition was dismissed by the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe by declaring Mugabe's re-election free, fair and credible. Mugabe has headed the country ever since its independence from United Kingdom in 1980. Egypt declared a state of emergency on 14th August, after a heavy crackdown on two huge Cairo protests by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi turned into a bloodbath. The violence in Cairo, that drew international condemnation, sparked deadly clashes across the country. Egypt's army-installed authorities declared a month-long state of emergency effective from 14 august. The Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi emerged, said that 2,200 people had been killed and over 10,000 injured as authorities confirmed 95 deaths in 14th August violence. Europe's leading powers along with Iran, Qatar and Turkey strongly denounced the use of force by the military-backed interim government. It was a dramatic turn of events for the Muslim Brotherhood, who just over a year ago celebrated Morsi's victory as Egypt's first elected president. But his turbulent year in power, marred by political turmoil, deadly clashes and a crippling economic crisis, turned many against the Islamist movement. On June 30, millions took to the streets to call on the army to remove Morsi. The 14th August crackdown came just hours after the United States, which provides US $1.5 billion in mostly military aid to Egypt every year, urged the military-backed interim government to allow Morsi supporters to protest freely. Israel and the Palestinians resumed their first direct peace talks under total secrecy in Jerusalem on 15th August, after a three-year of hiatus, as the Jewish nation freed 26 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture. Few details have been released about the location, timing or agenda of the US-brokered talks as Israel released a brief video showing the chief negotiators - Yitzhak Molcho and Tzipi Livni of Israel and Saeb Erekat of the Palestinians - shaking hands in an undisclosed location. "The talks resumed," Justice Minister Livni's spokesperson Mia Bengel wrote on Twitter at around 7 pm. The US special envoy Martin Indyk did not initially take part in the discussions. He, however, met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on 14th August, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the next day. The next round of talks is expected to be held next week in the West Bank, also under total media blackout. There were extremely low expectations on both the sides over the outcome of the fragile peace talks as Palestinian fears that Israeli announcements of settlement plans could torpedo the talks. As per US Secretary of State John Kerry's announcement last month, the negotiations between the two sides will be held under American mediation. Egypts Vice President Mohamed Elbaradei resigned in protest over the attacks on pro Mohamed Morsi supporters in Cairo on 14th August. The Egyptian police stormed the two sit in protest sites to disperse them following which 281 people were killed.United States, European Union and United Nations condemned the violent dispersal of protesters while the Prime Minister of Egypt Hezam Beblawi justified the act saying it was necessary since it had become a threat to national security. Emergency was declared in Egypt for a month and night curfew was clamped in 14 Governorates.Mohamed ElBaradei had given political support to the ousting of Egypt's first freely elected President Mohamed Morsi. However, he resigned in protest at the use of force instead of a negotiated end to the stand-off between the government and protesters. It should be noted that Mohamed ElBaradei is a Nobel Peace Prize winner. The United Nations Trusteeship Council elected Alexis Lamek of France as its President and Peter Wilson of the United Kingdom as its Vice President on 15th August. Both candidates were elected by acclamation during a brief organizational meeting held at UN Headquarters in New York, during which the Council also adopted its provisional agenda.

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The Trusteeship Council is a principal organ of the UN, created to administer 11 Trust Territories placed under the Organizations care at its founding in 1945. The Council suspended operations when the last UN Trust Territory, Palau, attained independence in 1994.Membership of the Council now comprises the five permanent members of the Security Council China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States. The Councils future role is under consideration as part of the broader reform of the UN and the Security Council. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has been announced as Mali's new president on 16th August, after he won a landslide victory in a poll intended to give a fresh start to the African nation .The ex-prime minister won an overwhelming 77.6 per cent of the vote, with his rival Soumaila Cisse trailing on 22.4 per cent. The country's first election since 2007 was seen as crucial for unlocking more than US $ 4 billion pledged by international donors. Aid to the country had been halted after a separatist uprising led to a 2012 coup and an Islamist insurgency that plunged the country, then seen as one of the region's most stable democracies, into turmoil. Keita, 68, has a reputation for toughness and is known for his blunt speaking and unwillingness to compromise. To mark India's 67th Independence Day, a street in the Canadian city of Winnipeg has been named after Mahatma Gandhi. A portion of York Avenue leading to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg, capital of Manitoba province, got the new name on 15th August.It is only fitting that Mahatma Gandhi Way leads to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, devoted to promoting respect for others and encouraging reflection and dialogue, Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz was quoted as saying in media reports. Winnipeg councillor Devi Sharma, K. Dakshinamurti, president of the Winnipeg-headquartered Mahatma Gandhi Centre of Canada, and members of the Indian community in Winnipeg attended the event. Sharma said the naming was done at the request of the Mahatma Gandhi Centre of Canada. Incorporated in 2007, the Centre is a Canadian national organization with membership spanning the country's entire ethnic and cultural mosaic. Spain's Melia brand of hotels on 11th August, has unveiled their new Sol Wave House in Majorca as the first 'Twitter Hotel' of the world that merges the real and virtual worlds to create a total new experience. Social Wave House connects everyone in the hotel to their own social community, where they can meet, interact, have fun, compete, experience, flirt, tweet, and much more. There's a dedicated Twitter concierge and a Twitter Party Suite that includes concierge assistance during the stay of visitors. Guests can communicate with the check-in desk and hotel staff using # SocialWave hashtag. Guests can order room service, a drink by the pool, or any other request using the hashtag (#). Brushing aside pleas and warnings from President Obama and other senior American officials, Russia granted Edward J. Snowden temporary asylum and allowed him to walk free out of a Moscow airport transit zone on 1st August, ending his legal limbo of more than five weeks. Snowden thanked Russia in a statement issued by WikiLeaks. He stated that the United States of disregarding the law in its global manhunt to arrest him and said "in the end, the law is winning". Russia's decision, which infuriated American officials, significantly alters the legal status of Snowden, the former intelligence analyst wanted by the US for leaking details of the NSA's surveillance programmes. Even as those leaks continued, Snowden now has legal permission to live and conceivably even work anywhere in Russia for as long as a year, safely out of the reach of American prosecutors. Meanwhile, founder of Russia's most popular social network VKontakte, known as the Facebook of Russia, Thursday offered a job to Snowden, Agence France-Presse reported. The International Monetary Fund approved a further 1.7 billion Euros (2.3 billion US dollars) for Greece's bailout program after completed the fourth review of IMF on 29th July. The total funds from the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank include 5.8 billion Euros. Greece's reform record has been dismal ever since its EU/IMF bailout began in mid 2010, resulting into frequent delays in the disbursement of rescue funds. Greece goes through its sixth year of recession and unemployment increases at a record rate of 27 percent. The IMF's board relinquished several requirements Greece had to fulfill by the end of June2013, since data was

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not yet available. This comprises targets for overall government debt, government domestic arrears and the general government balance. Although Greece cut budgets and external imbalances it has not done enough on broader reforms to its tax collection and public sector, which are necessary to ensure its economy returns to growth. Greece will receive another 1 billion Euros from international lenders in October 2013. Greece's bailout package was approved in March 2012, will total 173 billion Euros over four years. It was done to help Greece recover from a sovereign debt crisis and return to markets, and protect the country from a possible exit from the euro zone. The Cambodian People's Party (CPP), which is led by Prime Minister Hun Sen won at least 68 seats in the Lower house comparing with the 55 seats for the main opposition. The National Election Committee (NEC) gave a list of results from each polling station but no tally for parliamentary seats. The election in Cambodia was held on 28 July 2013 and the results were also declared on the same day. The Prime Minister Hun Sen has been in power in Cambodia for nearly three decades (28 years). The major opponent of CPP in the election was Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which is led by Sam Rainsy, who recently came back to the country from self-imposed exile. More than nine million people were found eligible to vote. Cambodia is a one party dominant state with the Cambodian Peoples Party in power. Opposition parties do exist, but are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power. Italy's Supreme Court on 1 August, upheld a jail sentence against Silvio Berlusconi for tax fraud in a devastating blow to the former prime minister that could throw the country's fragile coalition government into crisis. Berlusconi is Italy's most colorful and scandal-prone figure but it was his first definitive conviction in up to 30 court cases on charges ranging from fraud and corruption to having sex with an under-aged prostitute. After a three-day hearing, the five judges of the apex court rejected Berlusconi's final appeal against the verdict handed down by two lower courts in Milan which sentenced the media mogul to four years in jail - commuted to one year under an amnesty. But the top judges ordered a review by a Milan court of the second part of his sentence, a five-year ban from public office. This will enable him to remain as a Senator and as leader of his center-right People of Freedom Party (PDL) for the moment. Berlusconi, a 76-year-old billionaire who has dominated politics for 20 years, was convicted over the fraudulent purchase of broadcasting rights by his Mediaset television empire. Because of his age he is likely to serve the sentence either through community service or under house arrest. Bangladesh's High Court has declared the registration of Jamaat-e-Islami, the country's main Islamist party, is illegal, banning it from contesting January's general election. The court made the ruling in the country's capital, Dhaka, on 1st August, after a petition was lodged arguing that Jamaat's charter breached the constitution."It is hereby declared illegal," said Moazzem Hossain, the chief judge hearing the case amid tight security outside the courthouse in Dhaka. Violence flared amid mass protests after the ruling. Jamaat immediately appealed to the Supreme Court against the High Court verdict, senior defense lawyer Abdur Razzak said. The party would be barred from contesting elections if the Supreme Court upholds the verdict. The ruling comes after a leading Sufi group, which practices Islamic mysticism, filed the public interest litigation in January 2009 seeking to scrap Jamaat's registration. Secular protesters have long demanded that Jamaat be banned for its role in the 1971 war of independence, during which it opposed Bangladesh's breakaway from Pakistan. Top Jamaat leaders are being tried for crimes during the war and four of them have been sentenced to death for murder, mass murder, rape and religious persecution in Bangladesh's controversial International Crimes Tribunal, which is not endorsed by the UN and has been criticized by rights groups. Robert Gabriel Mugabe was re-elected the President of Zimbabwe on 3 August, extending a 33-year reign at the helm of the country he helped liberate from white rule in 1980. Mr. Mugabes ZANU (PF) proved similarly dominant, winning two-thirds of the seats declared thus far. Mr. Mugabe (89) and the ZANU (PF) have ruled Zimbabwe since independence, seeing off numerous challenges through a recipe of realpolitik and control of security forces and institutions of state. The victory was as comprehensive as it was controversial with Mr. Mugabe sweeping the polls with 61 per cent of votes cast, nearly twice as those polled by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, his closest rival, amidst opposition allegations of fraud. At the time of press,

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Harare was calm with none of violence of the 2008 election in which security forces killed 200 people after Mr. Tsvangirai emerged as the front-runner in a presidential run-off. Mamnoon Hussain was elected as the 12th President of Pakistan on 30 July 2013. 73-year old Mamnoon Hussain belonged to the PML-N Party. He will be administered the oath on 9 September 2013. Mamnoon Hussain succeeded Asif Ali Zardari. Mamnoon Hussain competed against the ex-judge Wajihuddin Ahmed of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party. Raza Rabbani of Pakistan Peoples Party was withdrawn as a competitive candidate. Mamnoon Hussain was born on 2 March 1940 in Agra, India.He is the textile businessman and politician of Pakistan.He migrated to Pakistan from India in 1954. The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif on 1 August 2013 announced that China has agreed to set-up four coal-fired power plants at Gadani Power Corridor in Balochistan, Pakistan. He also made an announcement that the corridor would be renamed as Gadani Power Park. The first plant in the park would be established to attract local and foreign investors. Nawaz Sharif also confirmed that the park envisages establishment of eight coal fired power plants with an aggregate capacity of 5200 MW. The Project is being developed with an aim of creating economic and employment opportunities in the far-flung and backward regions of Balochistan and Sindh. Japan has unveiled its biggest warship since the Second World War as part of a plan to bolster its defense of territorial claims in disputed waters. Japanese authorities revealed the 250-meter-long destroyer Izumo at a ceremony in Yokohama on 6 August. The $1.2 billion Japanese-made vessel will be capable of carrying at least nine helicopters when it goes into service in 2015.Tokyo says the warship is designed for use in defense and surveillance of Japanese-claimed waters, such as those around an East China Sea island chain where China also claims sovereignty. The Izumo also is intended to provide assistance to areas affected by natural disasters. The Japanese military is barred from building up offensive capabilities by the country's pacifist constitution, but the government of conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering modifications to that restriction. Beijing has long viewed Japanese military activities with suspicion and accused Tokyo of failing to fully atone for 20th century wartime atrocities against China. China's growing military arsenal also has alarmed its Asian neighbors, as the build-up has coincided with an increasingly assertive Chinese stance on maritime disputes. Beijing commissioned its first aircraft carrier last year. Hassan Rouhani took oath as the new President of Iran in the ceremony held at the Iranian Parliament in Tehran on 4 August 2013. The 64 year old Rouhani took his oath to the office before the countries senior politicians, foreign dignitaries and MPs. The newly elected, Iranian President began his four-year mandate to the office from 3 August 2013 after Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Irans Supreme leader certified his victory in the Presidential election that was conducted on 15 June 2013. Rouhani is the seventh (different) President of Iran after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. He secured a little over 50 percent votes to win the election and has succeeded Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the President. Earlier, he defeated Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf of Islamic Society of Engineers party. The Presidential elections in Iran took place on 14 June 2013. Japan on 8 August, pledged huge spending cuts amounting to $83 billion over two years as it works to bring down the industrialized world's biggest debt mountain. The cuts amounting to an average reduction of more than 4.0 per cent of current annual spending , comes days after the International Monetary Fund warned again over Tokyo's borrowings. The moves were outlined in the government's mid-term fiscal plan which called for cuts of 8.0 trillion yen ($83 billion) between April 2014 and March 2016. There were few details about where the reductions would be made, and they come after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to boost public spending to stoke Japan's tepid economy. Another key part of Abe's plan, dubbed "Abenomics", was the Bank of Japan's huge monetary easing plan, unveiled in April, as Tokyo looks to counter years of growthsapping deflation. Japan's annual budget is about 93 trillion yen, with about 40 per cent of that spending coming from borrowing which has created a debt pile that is more than twice as big as Japan's economy -- the worst among industrialised nations. The country has not faced a public debt crisis like the kind seen across the Euro zone, largely because most of its low interest rate debt is held domestically rather than by international creditors .However, the IMF and others have warned that Japan must follow through on key fiscal and structural reforms to the economy, another key plank of Abe's plan but a difficult sell to many of Japan's cosseted industries. U.S. President Barack Obama has cancelled a much-talked-about summit with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next month, blaming Russias decision to grant whistleblower Edward Snowden temporary asylum and other components of a bilateral morass. In a statement on 7 August, the White House

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delivered the snub saying, Following a careful review begun in July, we have reached the conclusion that there is not enough recent progress in our bilateral agenda with Russia to hold a U.S.-Russia Summit in early September. However, the Obama administration admitted that Snowden was also a factor that we considered in assessing the current state of our bilateral relationship. The White House said there had been a lack of progress in areas of bilateral cooperation such as missile defense and arms control, trade and commercial relations, global security issues, and human rights and civil society in the last 12 months, prompting it to inform the Russian government it would be more constructive to postpone the summit.

September

Banned chemical weapons have been used on a wide scale in the Syria war and there is clear evidence sarin killed hundreds of people in one major attack, U.N. inspectors said on 16th September. Chemical arms have been used in the 30-month-old conflict on a relatively large scale, says the report to be released by UN leader Ban Ki-moon. UN Experts, who went to Syria last month, are not allowed to say who carried out the attacks. But they said there is clear and convincing evidence that sarin gas killed hundreds of people in an attack on Ghouta near Damascus on August 21st. The attack sparked threats by the United States and other western nations of a military strike on President Bashar al-Assads forces. The United States says more than 1,400 people died in Ghouta. Though the military threat has eased after Russia and the United States agreed a plan to put Syrian chemical arms under international control, the U.N. report will influence what measures are taken to make Mr. Assad stick to the plan. The experts said that based on evidence they had found, the conclusion is that chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic ... against civilians including children on a relatively large scale. Tony Abbott was sworn in as Australia's new Prime Minister on 18th September. Tony Abbott is the 28th Prime Minister of Australia. He took the oath at Government House in Canberra in front of GovernorGeneral Quentin Bryce. His Conservative Party defeated former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's centreleft Labor Party in 7th September 2013 elections. Tony Abbott has immediately ordered the scrapping of Australia's carbon tax and the halting of asylum-seeker boats after being sworn in as Prime Minister. Russia announced that they would reopen a major naval base in the Arctic and resume regular naval patrols in the region as it laid claim to a vast swath of the Arctic seabed. President Vladimir Putin said on 18th September, Russia is going to rebuild a naval base off its Arctic coast that was abandoned 20 years ago. He added that the naval facility would mark a new step in the opening up of the Northern Sea Route and would help effectively control the Russian section of the Arctic Ocean. The move comes a month after Russia submitted to the United Nations a claim to extend its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone by another 150 miles or 1.2 million square kilometers. Moscow argues that it has scientific evidence proving beyond doubt that seabed it claims is continuation of its continental shelf. The Russian Defense Ministry said that next year it will start establishing naval outposts in Novaya Zemlya and the Franz-Josef Land archipelagos in the Arctic Ocean. The United Nations and the African Union on 17th September, have agreed to strengthen protection of conflict-affected children in Africa, where despite progress, grave child rights violations including under-age recruitment, continue. As the African Union is taking a larger role in the continents mediation and peacekeeping operations, it had become essential to make our partnership stronger, said Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. Her office and the Peace and Security Department of the AU Commission signed an agreement on 17 September, in partnership with the UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF), to step up measures to protect children from armed violence. Among the areas of collaboration outlined in the document, the AU, with UN support, agrees to include the protection of children in all its peace and security activities. The agreement also calls for the development of a joint programme of work to align domestic legislation with regional and international child rights, as well as to develop guidelines on protection of children. In addition, improved and harmonized training programmes in child protection will be developed for countries contributing troops to AU peace missions.

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China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, returned to its homeport, Qingdao on 21st September, after a three-month voyage, during which it carried out major and crucial tests. During the voyage that started on June 11, the carrier witnessed more than 100 sorties of landing and takeoff by various aircrafts, including the J-15 carrier-borne fighter, the official Liberation Army Daily (Jiefang Ribao) said on 22 September. The tests have resulted in further improvement of the carrier's flight control processes, according to the official newspaper. The voyage is the longest and farthest that has been taken by the Liaoning since its maiden voyage, the report said. It is also the first since it based its homeport in Qingdao in February. The Liaoning is China's only aircraft carrier in operation. It was refitted based on an unfinished Russian-made carrier and delivered to the navy on Sept. 25, 2012. Russia has offered to India, to set up manufacturing facilities in the country for joint production of defense hardware and also reached an understanding for setting up two major projects in a joint venture for producing civil choppers and aircraft. This was decided during the meeting between Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Rogozin and Russias Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov in St. Petersburg. Mr. Sharma is there to attend the 7th India Russian Forum on Trade and Investment. The visit assumes significance in the light of Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs forthcoming visit to Russia next month. Both Mr. Sharma and Mr. Rogozin agreed on collaboration to jointly develop and manufacture civilian aircraft and helicopters for especially for emergency relief and medical purposes. Both Russia and India felt that these two aircraft projects should not be seen only for domestic use but will also explore the possibilities of third country exports. One of the projects under collaboration for civilian aircrafts/helicopters envisages the setting up of the joint venture for manufacturing in Indian factories different modifications of light helicopters Ka-226T for medical, rescue and other purposes. The Russian side has mooted a new proposal involving IL112V.Russia also proposed to India for setting up manufacturing facilities in the country for production of defense equipment in various fields. The opportunity could also be used to make India as the export base for such defense hardware it was felt. A Nigerian woman, Obabiyi Aishah Ajibola (21) on 18th September, won the Miss Muslimah World contest, a riposte to the Miss World. The 20 finalists, all required to wear headscarves, were judged on beauty as well as how well they recited Koranic verses and their views on Islam in the modern world. After a show in front of an audience of mainly religious scholars and devout Muslims, a panel picked Obabiyi Aishah Ajibola (21) from Nigeria as the winner. She said it was thanks to almighty Allah that she had won the contest. She received 25 million rupiah (US $ 2,200) and trips to Makkah and India as prizes. The earliest fully modern humans arrived in West Asia around 42,000 years ago, a new study led by Oxford scientists has found. Researchers obtained the radiocarbon dates of marine shell beads found at Ksar Akil, a key archaeological site in Lebanon, which allowed them to calculate that the oldest human fossil from the same sequence of archaeological layers is 42,400 to 41,700 years old. This is significant because the age of the earliest fossils, directly and indirectly dated, of modern humans found in Europe is roughly similar, researchers said. The discovery throws up intriguing new possibilities about the routes taken by the earliest modern humans out of Africa, according to the study published in journal PLOS ONE . The research team radiocarbon dated 20 marine shells from the top 15 meters of archaeological layers at Ksar Akil, north of Beirut. It was widely believed that at some point after 45,000 years ago early modern humans arrived in Europe, taking routes out of Africa through the Near East, and, from there, along the Mediterranean rim or along the River Danube. The evidence suggests populations of early modern humans arrived in Europe and the Near East at roughly the same time, sparking a new debate about where the first populations of early humans travelled from in their expansion towards Europe and which alternative routes they may have taken. The team was able to calculate the age of the lost fossil at 40,800-39,200 years ago. As the rest of the world reconsiders the use of nuclear energy in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan, China has made its new, domestically-developed, fourth-generation reactor as the answer for developing countries concerns regarding costs and safety. The State-run China Nuclear Engineering Group Corporation (CNEC), closely involved in the design and construction of many of the 17 nuclear reactors in operation, on 15th September, presented designs of its new fourth-generation High Temperature Reactor (HTR) and High Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor (HTGR), on the sidelines of the first China-Arab States trade exposition which opened in this western Chinese city. With global interest in nuclear power waning following Fukushima, the CNEC is hoping that success with its reactor will help rekindle interest abroad. The CNEC has been charged by the State Council, or Cabinet, with expanding the

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nuclear industrys reach overseas. The company was behind the Chashma-3 and Chashma-4 reactors in Pakistan. The deals triggered controversy because they were agreed to after China joined the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).China is building 28 reactors more than in any other country with most of the projects entirely designed and constructed domestically, using technology adapted from the U.S., France and Russia. China has made a case for its domestically-developed, fourth-generation reactor as the answer for developing countries concerns regarding costs and safety. The Man Booker Prize, described as the the most important and influential award for literary fiction in the English speaking world might from now on actually qualify for that claim. According to an announcement by Jonathan Taylor, Chair of the Booker Prize, the prize will from 2014 be expanded to include writers in English from any part of the world provided their books have been published in the United Kingdom. Thus far the Booker Prize was for literary fiction by authors from the Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland and Zimbabwe. The decision to open up the Booker was not one that the trustees took quickly or lightly Mr. Taylor said. Over the following 18 months the views of writers, readers, publishers, agents, booksellers and others were canvassed on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond. However, other rules remain: the books must be published in the UK and entered by their UK publishers, the practice of long lists and shortlists will stay, and judges will be required to consider all entries. U.S. President Barack Obama faced growing pressure from Russia's Vladimir Putin and other world leaders on 5 September, to decide against launching military strikes in Syria, which many of them fear would hurt the global economy and push up oil prices. At a summit of the Group of 20 (G20) developed and developing economies in St. Petersburg, this was happened. The rift over Syria overshadowed the discussions on how to revive growth but not before splits emerged within the group over a U.S. plan to wind down an economic stimulus program. The G20 accounts for two thirds of the world's population and 90 percent of its output. The first round at the summit went to Putin, as China, the European Union, the BRICS emerging economies and a letter from Pope Francis all warned of the dangers of military intervention in Syria without the approval of the U.N. Security Council. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon later told the leaders over the dinner in a tsarist-era seafront palace that any military action must have the Security Council's backing. The G20 achieved unprecedented cooperation between developed and emerging nations to stave off economic collapse during the 2009 financial crisis, but the harmony has since waned. Member states are at odds as the U.S. recovery gains pace, Europe lags, and developing economies worry about the impact of the Federal Reserve's plans to stop a bond-buying program that has helped kick-start the U.S. economy. The BRICS agreed to commit $100 billion to a currency reserve pool that could help defend against a balance of payments crisis, although the mechanism will take time to set up. There is likely to be an agreement on measures to fight tax evasion by multinational companies at the summit in the spectacular, 18th-century Peterhof palace complex, built on the orders of Tsar Peter the Great. An initiative will be presented on refining regulation of the $630trillion global market for financial derivatives to prevent a possible blow-up. India will be hosting the 33rd Asian & Pacific Conference of Correctional Administrators (APCCA), 2013 in New Delhi from 22nd to 27th September, 2013. The conference will be inaugurated by the Union Home Minister. This is a prestigious event for the correctional officers to share ideas and learn from others experiences and give direction to innovative ideas in correctional administration and welfare. Apart from delegates from 23 member countries, the delegates from States/UTs dealing with correctional administrations will also attend the conference. The theme of this years conference is CorrectionTransformation-Re-integration. This pushes the agenda of the correctional welfare beyond conventional practices to assist the reintegration of the released inmates back to the society. Asian & Pacific Conference of Correctional Administrators (APCCA) is an organisation of 23 countries viz., Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, China, Fiji, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Korea, Macao, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga and Vietnam. India is a founder member of this organization. India is an elected member of the Governing Board of the organization since 2008. Every year the annual conference is organized by the member countries on rotational basis where Correctional Administrators of member countries exchange ideas in relation to the prison reforms in the Asia Pacific region. The conference gives correctional officers a chance to express their knowledge and exchange best practices being adopted in various countries. The conference was organized by Brunei last year. Malala Yousafzai on 3rd September, officially opened Europe's largest public library in Birmingham. She was shot in the head by the Taliban on her school bus in Pakistan - for daring to campaign about girls'

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rights to education. Malala made a speech at the inauguration in which she said "I have challenged myself that i will read thousands of books and i will empower myself with knowledge. The building cost nearly 200m to build and holds a million books. Ms. Yousafzai was the chief guest at the opening ceremony of the new Birmingham Library .The new state-of-the-art library will now be the largest in Europe and is expected to attract three million visitors a year. The Vice President of India, Hamid Ansari inaugurated the one day international conference on alliance for literacy, peace and development in South Asia at New Delhi on 7 September. India has called for enhanced cooperation in the field of literacy and education. Inaugurating the conference, Hamid Ansari said that through mutual cooperation involving sharing of experiences, lessons learnt and best practices, the region can together fight the scourge of illiteracy, remove ignorance from our midst and build modern educated and enlightened societies in our countries, the region and beyond. He said 40 crore adults, almost half of the worlds illiterate population live in South Asia. Women and girls constitute nearly two thirds of the illiterate adult population, making the magnitude of the problem even greater. Appreciating the literacy among young women growing at a faster pace than that of young men, the VicePresident said that gender parity in literacy is a distinct possibility in the future. In the Conference, the Vice-President of India also announced that Saakshar Bharat programme has been recognized by experts and it is being conferred UNESCOS King Sejong Literacy prize for this year. This International Conference on Peace, Literacy and Development in South Asia was organized by National Literacy Mission Authority, Department of School Education and Literacy under Ministry of Human Resource Development. Egypt's army-backed government has dissolved the Muslim Brotherhood as a registered nongovernmental organization, the state-run Al-Akhbar newspaper reported on 6 September. The decision applies to the NGO registered by the Brotherhood in March in response to a lawsuit that argued the group had no legal status and marks a legal challenge to Morsi's movement as the police round up its leaders across the country. After veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011, the Brotherhood won parliamentary and presidential elections. The army deposed Morsi on July 3 in response to mass protests against his rule. The authorities are mounting the harshest crackdown on the Brotherhood in decades, killing hundreds of Morsi's supporters and arresting many of its leaders on charges of inciting violence. There has so far been no attempt to ban its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party. India on 4th September gave USD one million as to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for providing food and medicines to Palestine refugees. UNRWA provides assistance to some five million registered Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and in the Palestine. Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Syed Akbaruddin said the financial assistance to the UN agency has been given as part of India's annual contribution to it. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN member-states. UNRWA Commissioner General Filippo Grandi, who had a meeting with senior officials in the MEA on 4 September, thanked India for its continuous support to the UN agency. "India has been supporting the humanitarian efforts. We want India to expand the cooperation further," he said. Fijis military regime passed a Constitution on 6 September, in a step that is raising both hopes and concerns among many who want democracy restored to the South Pacific island nation. The regime that seized power in a 2006 coup says the Constitution is another step toward it holding free elections next year. The document envisages a Parliament consisting of 50 representatives elected every four years based on one person, one vote. But many say the Constitution also curtails freedoms and is self-serving to the regime. Former Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry was among those arrested and taken into custody for about two hours during protests on Friday against the Constitution. Iran plans to send its second monkey into space onboard home-made rocket Pishgam (Pioneer) II within 45 days. In January, Iran had sent a capsule containing a monkey onboard the Pishgam I, Xinhua reported. Unlike the first rocket which was solid-fuelled, the Pishgam II will use liquid propellant, sources said. The plan to send living creatures into space was part of the project to send human beings into space within a course of five to eight years, said the Iranian official. Amr Moussa, a longtime member of former Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak's government, has been selected to chair the committee on 8 September, entrusted with amending a constitution pushed through by the deposed Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi. Moussa, who was foreign minister for 10 years under Mubarak, won the votes of 30 of the committee's 50 members when the group convened for the first time Sunday. Egypts interim government, installed by the army after it ousted Morsi on July 3,

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wants the panel to complete its work within 60 days. The constitution will then be put to a popular vote and provide the basis for parliamentary and presidential elections and a return to civilian rule early next year. While the interim army-backed government promised an inclusive political process going forward, it has included only two Islamists on the constitutional committee, neither of whom were from the Muslim Brotherhood, the primary Islamist group that supports Morsi. The Brotherhood has become the target of a sweeping security crackdown since Morsi was overthrown. The first draft of the constitution seeks to restore the voting system that kept Mubarak in power for 30 years, something that has disappointed smaller parties who have struggled to establish themselves since the end of Mubarak's one-man rule. The Egyptian state news agency MENA said the first draft of the constitution scrapped articles that allowed Islam to be considered in the creation of laws, accorded al-Azhar, Egypt's highest Islamic institution, a role in vetting legislation, committed the state to upholding morals, and banned insults to "prophets and religions."

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National Affairs 2013


January
The Union Cabinet on 31 January paved the way for further consideration of Lokpal legislation in Parliament as it approved most of the modifications recommended by a Rajya Sabha Select Committee on its draft Lokpal Bill. The Cabinet approved 14 of 16 recommendations made by the committee. These include the mode of appointing the Lokpal and CBI director. The Cabinet, however, delinked the Lokpal from the institution of Lokayukta at the state level. Contrary to provisions of the earlier draft, states will continue to appoint Lokayuktas. The Cabinet accepted that the CBI director will be appointed by a panel comprising the prime minister, the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha and the chief justice of India. But it dropped related recommendation that CBI officials involved in probing cases under Lokpal supervision will not be transferred by the government. Therefore, though the CBI will be under the Lokpal, the government will have the authority to transfer them. The Cabinet decisions were announced by Minister of State for Personnel V. Narayanasamy. Non-religious charitable institutions receiving government funds too will come under the Lokpal purview, though the Upper House panel did not favour this. As per the decision, the nine-member Lokpal will be selected by a panel comprising the prime minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, the chief justice of India and an eminent jurist who will be in turn selected by the first four. The decision to leave out Lokayukta appointment came after states vehemently opposed and accused the Centre of usurping the rights of the states in the Lokayukta appointment. Owing to opposition, the controversial bill got stuck in the Upper House. After the enactment of the bill by the Centre, states will have to appoint their Lokayuktas within a year. President Pranab Mukherjee on 3 February, gave his assent to the ordinance sharpening laws against sexual assault, mandating harsher punishment like death penalty for offenders in cases where the victim dies or is pushed into a persistent vegetative state. The amended law comes into force immediately. The ordinance, which also introduced voyeurism, stalking, disrobing of women and acid attacks as specific offences under the Indian Penal Code, was approved by the Union Cabinet on 1 February. Though the presidential assent has brought the "changed" provisions of the law into force, the government will have to get it passed in Parliament within six months. The President's assent to the ordinance came even as women's rights activists expressed unhappiness over the provisions. They were upset over the government's refusal to recognize marital rape as an offence, failure to hold command officers accountable for rapes by their subordinates and omission of rapes by armed forces as a category. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 comprising several recommendations of the Justice (retired) JS Verma committee , was rushed through to beat the notification of the budget session which is due to begin on February 21. Going beyond recommendations of the Justice Verma committee, the ordinance has prescribed death penalty for cases of rape which lead to the victim's death or pushes her into coma. It seeks to treat such cases as "rarest-of-rare" for which courts can award capital punishment if they so decide. For such cases, the ordinance prescribes a minimum sentence of 20 years which can be extended to imprisonment until the natural life of the convict, or death. Brought against the backdrop of Nirbhaya's case, the ordinance changes various clauses in existing criminal law by amending Indian Penal Code (IPC), Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Evidence Act. The new provisions will be brought before Parliament as part of official amendments to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012 which was introduced in December last year. The pending legislation is currently being examined by a parliamentary standing committee. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting on 29 January, has constituted an Expert Committee for the purpose of reviewing the institutional frame work of Prasar Bharati including its relationship with Government, its continuing role as a public broadcaster and measures needed to ensure technical up gradation of the organization. The composition of the Expert Committee is as under the chairmanship of Sam Pitroda, Advisor to the Prime Minister of India on Public Information Infrastructure & Innovations. the other members are-Smt. Asha Swaroop, IAS (Retd.) and former Secretary to the Govt. of India, Dr. B.K. Gairola, Mission Director (e-Governance), Sh. Shekhar Kapur, Member of the National Innovation Council, Prof. M.P. Gupta, IIT Delhi

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Government of India on 31 January signed an agreement for a $100 million loan with Asian Development Bank (ADB) as second tranche of Uttarakhand Urban Sector Development Investment Program which will support rehabilitation and expansion of basic urban infrastructure in five major urban centers of Uttarakhand and ensure sustainable municipal service delivery. The project will supplement the urban infrastructure program already initiated under the first tranche in Dehradun, Haridwar and Nainital and will be extended to cover in addition Haldwani, Roorkee and Ramnagar towns specially for improving the water supply infrastructure that will benefit about 800,000 residents. A comprehensive sewerage system will also be developed under the project, which will provide improved sanitation facilities to about 100,000 residents of Roorkee town. The documents were signed by Dr. Anup Wadhawan, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of Government of India, Mr. Hun Kim, Country Director of ADBs India Resident Mission on behalf of ADB and Mr. M.H. Khan, Secretary (UD) on behalf of Government of Uttarakhand. Smt. Radhika Jha, Project Director and Dr. Anwar A. Khan, Deputy Program Director from Uttarakhand Government were the part of loan signing team. ADB based in Manila is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members Shah Rukh Khan, the Bollywood superstar topped the inaugural Forbes India Celebrity 100 list. The ranking was given based on the popularity as well as income of the biggest entertainers of India. Second on the list was Salman Khan and MS Dhoni followed in the third position. The special edition of Forbes India judged in eight different categories, i.e., directors, film actors, TV personailities, models, comedians, sports stars, authors and singers/musicians. Even though Salman Khan and MS Dhoni were ahead in the ranking in terms of popularity, in comparison to SRK, but the Bollywood King ranked high because of his earning, most of which came from the brand endorsements. According to the Forbes India estimates, the total earning of SRK from October 2011 and September 2012 was 202.8 crore Rupees. In comparison to SRKs, Salmans earning was 144.2 crore Rupees, while that of Dhoni was 135.16 crore. In the list of top 10 celebrities were Akshay Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar, Kareena Kapoor, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli and Katrina Kaif. The list prepared by Forbes India is meant to rank most powerful Indians in media as well as entertainment sector. Among the sportspersons, MS Dhoni, the captain of India cricket team grabbed the top most position. In the category of singer/musicians, AR Rahman led the pack. Malaika Arora Khan was declared as the leading TV personality. On the other hand, Karan Johar was listed as the most powerful director. The youngest celebrity in the list of Forbes India was Saina Nehwal, aged 23 years. Chief Justices recommended for 3 NE states The Supreme Court collegium has recommended three Chief Justices for the proposed High Courts in the northeastern states of Tripura, Manipur and Meghalaya, officials said here on 27 January. The three High Courts are likely to start functioning in March after completion of necessary formalities. "We have heard that the Supreme Court collegium has recommended the names of three Chief Justices to the Union ministry of Law and Justice," Datamohan Jamatia, secretary, Tripura Law Department, told. "Now the law and justice ministry through the Prime Minister would send the recommendations to the president for the appointment and notification of the three chief justices," he said. As per the suggestions of the Supreme Court collegium, Justice T Meena Kumari, a judge of the Patna High Court, who hails from Andhra Pradesh, is being elevated as the chief justice of Meghalaya.Justice Deepak Gupta, who hails from Himachal Pradesh is being elevated as the Chief Justice of Tripura, and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, a judge of the Chhattisgarh High Court, is being appointed as the Chief Justice of Manipur. 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.

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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 been 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.

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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 tankARJUN, Super Sonic Cruise Missile Brahmos Weapon System and Multi Barrel Rocket System -Pinaka. Display of above 5000 kilometer range Agni-V 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 There is a need for overall wide spectrum of law for violence against the women. o It is important to address even the placid sexual harassment and that every complaint of sexual harassment should be registered. o Anyone committing rape shall be given rigorous imprisonment which may range from seven years to life term. o Crimes like gang rape shall entail punishment ranging from not less than 20 years to whole life of the convict. o Gang-rape causing death of the victim shall amount to life imprisonment for the convict. o 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 In order to preserve the rules of law, there is a need for police reforms as well. o The Panel suggested that Law enforcement agencies should not work as slaves of the political masters. o All the marriages should be registered, while making sure that there was no demand for dowry. o Minor children trafficking should be considered as a serious offence. o Trafficking should be made punishable with imprisonment ranging from not less than 7 years to 10 years. o 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.

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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-cumsurgeon, 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.

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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 fasttrack 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

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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 will 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

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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) KakinadaPuducherry 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.

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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 FEEs from tourism in terms of US$ during 2012 were US$ 17.74 billion with a growth of 7.1% over 2011. o 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 transmission 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

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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-the-art 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

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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 fast-track 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

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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.

February
Rajya Sabha on 25 February 2013 approved the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill. The Bill was passed by Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament in September 2012.The bill seeks protection for women in all type of organized, unorganized as well as Private Sectors, including the sexual harassment of domestic help as well as agricultural workers. The bill had made it mandatory for every organization with 10 or more employees to form an internal complaint committee to deal with the complaints of sexual offences. The committees should be disposed of within 90 days and organizations that fails to follow the guidelines, would be penalized with 50000 rupees. Organizations that repeatedly violate the provisions of the bill would be penalized to a greater level and the offence may lead to the cancellation of the licenses or registration of the business conduct. Under its list of offences, the bill covers sexual remarks, sexual favour demands, any act of unwelcome touch and physical advance and showing pornography. In the backdrop of incidences of violence against women which challenges liberal and progressive credentials of our country, the Finance Minister P. Chidambaram pledged to do everything possible to empower women and to keep them safe and secure. Presenting the Budget 2013-14 in the Lok Sabha on 28 February, the Finance Minister proposed to set-up Nirbhaya Fund. Citing the multifarious role a woman plays as a child, a young student, sportswoman, homemaker, working woman and the mother who needs their support, the Minister announced that the Government will contribute Rs. 1,000/- crores in this Fund. Chidambaram said that Ministry of Women and Child Development and other ministries concerned will work out the details of the structure, scope and the application of the Fund. The Government of India on 27 February 2013 announced constitution of Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe into the allegations in the VVIP helicopter deal from Agusta Westland and to identify the role of the middlemen in the purchase of the 12 helicopters. The motion was moved by the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath. The proposed JPC will constitute of 20 members from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha and submit the report of its findings within three months from the day of its constitution. Joint Parliamentary Committee is an ad hoc Parliamentary Committee that is constituted by the Indian parliament. The JPC is constituted only after a motion is adopted in one house of the Parliament and accepted by the other house. The strength of JPC can be different every time it is constituted but the number of members from the Lok Sabha is always double to the members from Rajya Sabha in the committee formed. Delhi Became the First State in India to Ban the Manual Scavenging Delhi became the first state in India to ban the manual scavenging. The Chief Minister of Delhi on 26 February 2013 banned deployment of the cleaning staff for the purpose of manual sewer cleaning. At the Swabhiman Diwas celebrations on 26 February 2013, the CM announced that the Delhi government was facilitating the amenities to the cleaning staff according to the service rules. The Delhi government was also taking initiatives for modernising the working mechanism for them and facilitating appropriate training to them. In the meanwhile, it was also declared that all the civic bodies of Delhi would be asked to regularise services of the cleaning staff that was working for several years on contractual basis.

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The Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs Mullapally Ramachandran in Lok Sabha on 26 February gave the information that the Government has approved a Scheme to create National Population Register (NPR) and issue Resident Identity Cards to all usual residents of age 18 years and above in 3331 coastal villages in 13 maritime States/ Union Territories namely, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Puducherry as one of the measures for strengthening coastal security. All the towns in Andaman and Nicobar Islands have also been covered. An amount of Rs. 216.31 crore has been approved by the government for creation of NPR in these coastal villages and issue of resident identity cards. The data collection has already been completed in these areas. The demographic data has been collected for 1.2 crore people and biometrics (photograph and ten fingerprints) for 67.3 lakh people. The Resident Identity Cards have been dispatched directly to the residents by Department of Post through a secure Speed Post. As on date, more than 48.06 lakh cards have been dispatched. The Government in order to give the Community Radio movement a fresh impetus would be providing Rs.100 crores in the XII Plan. During the Plan period, it was proposed to set up 500 new Community Radio Stations (CRS) also. This was stated by Manish Tewari, Minister for Information & Broadcasting, while delivering the valedictory address at the 3rd National Community Radio Sammelan in New Delhi on 11 february. Tewari further stated that the Ministry had identified key benchmarks for the Plan period whereby a roadmap would be prepared to provide assistance for operating Community Radio Stations. Elaborating on the proposal of the Plan fund, the minister said Rs.90 crores had been proposed for providing financial support, while Rs.10 crore was being proposed for training, capacity building and awareness activities of Community Radio Stations. The two-day International Conference on Traditional Medicine for South-East Asian Countries concluded with the Adoption of Delhi Declaration in New Delhi on 13 February. The Health Ministers of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Minister of Indigenous Medicine of Sri Lanka, Regional Director General of WHO SEARO, representatives from SEAR countries, experts from different parts of the world including officers of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare attended the valedictory function. In his concluding remark, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare acknowledged the collaboration and assistance of WHO - South East Asia Regional Office and WHO for the conference. He said we have a useful set of recommendations from the four panel groups on the strategic themes now. All member countries of South East Asia will remain committed to steer the implementation of the identified activities henceforth. We have made a joint Declaration from the historical city of Delhi to strengthen the future of traditional medicine for the welfare of human health. The spirit behind Delhi Declaration is to foster development of traditional medicine across the region. Regarding the institutional mechanisms for information sharing and capacity building in traditional medicine, Azad said the Delhi Declaration has indicated the need to examine the setting up of regional centres. He offered hosting a Regional Traditional Medicine Centre in India with everyones cooperation and collaboration. We will be able to nurture the Centre and develop it as a Centre of Excellence in the days to come, he added. The Ministry of Defence has initiated action for cancellation of contract for procurement of 12 AW101 helicopters for the use of VVIPs. MoD on 15 February, issued a formal show cause notice to the AgustaWestland of UK seeking cancellation of contract and taking other actions as per the terms of the contract and the Integrity Pact. MoD had already put on hold further payments to the company on 13 February. With the show cause notice, the operation of the contract has been put on hold. The company has been asked to reply to the notice in seven days. The Supreme Court (SC) of India on 15 February 2013 directed the telecom companies that failed to win bidding in the fresh 2G Spectrum Auction or didnt participated into it to cease their operations immediately. The fresh auction took place after the licenses issued earlier were scrapped by the Court. The Supreme Court also cleared that the Court would soon order the companies, which were successful in winning their biddings in the actions those were held on 12 November and 14 November 2012 to start operations in their respective circles immediately. The Supreme Court bench of two Judges that comprised justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan directed the telecom companies whose licenses were scrapped on 2 February 2012 but allowed to function were supposed to pay back the reserved price fixed for the licenses during the first round of November 2012 auction.

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Stampede took place at the Allahabad railway station on 10 February 2013. On 11 February 2013, the death toll reached to 36 people. The death toll is likely to increase. The injured were being treated at SRN hospital in Allahabad and railway hospitals. The stampede took place at Platform number 5 and 6 where a number of passengers, most of which were Maha Kumbh devotees, were returning after they took dip in the Holy Sangam on the occasion of Mauni Amavasya. The government of Uttar Pradesh ordered inquiry into this matter. The government also asked Railways to sanction ex- gratia of 5 lakh Rupees to families of deceased. Following the stampede that tolled 36 lives, Mohammad Azam Khan, the UP minister resigned as an in- charge of ongoing Kumbh Mela, owing to the moral responsibility. 'Operation Three Star' was the code name of the entire top secret plan in which Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist Afzal Guru was hanged in the high- security Tihar Jail on 10 February morning. The operation had started on February 4, a day after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected the mercy petition of the Parliament attack convict paving the way for his execution. Government sources said that a handful of top officials in the Home Ministry and Tihar prison were aware of the operation which was kept top secret considering its sensitive nature. Guru, a medical college dropout and resident of Sopore in north Kashmir, was executed at 8 am on 10 february and buried on the prison premises. 'X' was the code name of the operation in which Ajmal Kasab, the lone Pakistani gunman caught alive after the Mumbai terror attack, was hanged to death at Pune's Yerwada Central Jail on November 21. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on 11 February 2013 removed the public prosecutor AK Singh from the 2G Spectrum Case. The decision of removal came after the alleged public prosecutor was caught discussing the strategy of prosecution with one of the prime accused of the 2G Spectrum Allocation Case in a taped conversation. The 2G Spectrum Case is under trial in a Court of Special Judge at New Delhi and the court was informed about the alleged involvement if the Public Prosecutor by the CBI. AK Singh was the part of the 2G scam legal team of the CBI that was headed by the senior lawyer UU Lalit (the special public prosecutor in the case).The 2G Spectrum Scam of India is a scam that involved Government Officials, Political Leaders and Industrialists within its circumference. The Government officials and politicians were accused for their alleged involvement in undercharging the frequency allocation licenses to the mobile telephony companies, resulting in a total loss of about 176,645 crore rupees as valued by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG). The Government in order to give the Community Radio movement a fresh impetus would be providing Rs.100 crores in the XII Plan. During the Plan period, it was proposed to set up 500 new Community Radio Stations (CRS) also. This was stated by Manish Tewari, Minister for Information & Broadcasting, while delivering the valedictory address at the 3rd National Community Radio Sammelan in New Delhi on 11 february. Tewari further stated that the Ministry had identified key benchmarks for the Plan period whereby a roadmap would be prepared to provide assistance for operating Community Radio Stations. Elaborating on the proposal of the Plan fund, the minister said Rs.90 crores had been proposed for providing financial support, while Rs.10 crore was being proposed for training, capacity building and awareness activities of Community Radio Stations. The two-day International Conference on Traditional Medicine for South-East Asian Countries concluded with the Adoption of Delhi Declaration in New Delhi on 13 February. The Health Ministers of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Minister of Indigenous Medicine of Sri Lanka, Regional Director General of WHO SEARO, representatives from SEAR countries, experts from different parts of the world including officers of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare attended the valedictory function. In his concluding remark, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare acknowledged the collaboration and assistance of WHO - South East Asia Regional Office and WHO for the conference. He said we have a useful set of recommendations from the four panel groups on the strategic themes now. All member countries of South East Asia will remain committed to steer the implementation of the identified activities henceforth. We have made a joint Declaration from the historical city of Delhi to strengthen the future of traditional medicine for the welfare of human health. The spirit behind Delhi Declaration is to foster development of traditional medicine across the region. Regarding the institutional mechanisms for information sharing and capacity building in traditional medicine, Azad said the Delhi Declaration has indicated the need to examine the setting up of regional centres. He offered hosting a Regional Traditional Medicine Centre in India with everyones cooperation and collaboration. We will be able to nurture the Centre and develop it as a Centre of Excellence in the days to come, he added. The Ministry of Defence has initiated action for cancellation of contract for procurement of 12 AW101 helicopters for the use of VVIPs. MoD on 15 February, issued a formal show cause notice to the

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AgustaWestland of UK seeking cancellation of contract and taking other actions as per the terms of the contract and the Integrity Pact. MoD had already put on hold further payments to the company on 13 February. With the show cause notice, the operation of the contract has been put on hold. The company has been asked to reply to the notice in seven days. The Supreme Court (SC) of India on 15 February 2013 directed the telecom companies that failed to win bidding in the fresh 2G Spectrum Auction or didnt participated into it to cease their operations immediately. The fresh auction took place after the licenses issued earlier were scrapped by the Court. The Supreme Court also cleared that the Court would soon order the companies, which were successful in winning their biddings in the actions those were held on 12 November and 14 November 2012 to start operations in their respective circles immediately. The Supreme Court bench of two Judges that comprised justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan directed the telecom companies whose licenses were scrapped on 2 February 2012 but allowed to function were supposed to pay back the reserved price fixed for the licenses during the first round of November 2012 auction. Stampede took place at the Allahabad railway station on 10 February 2013. On 11 February 2013, the death toll reached to 36 people. The death toll is likely to increase. The injured were being treated at SRN hospital in Allahabad and railway hospitals. The stampede took place at Platform number 5 and 6 where a number of passengers, most of which were Maha Kumbh devotees, were returning after they took dip in the Holy Sangam on the occasion of Mauni Amavasya. The government of Uttar Pradesh ordered inquiry into this matter. The government also asked Railways to sanction ex- gratia of 5 lakh Rupees to families of deceased. Following the stampede that tolled 36 lives, Mohammad Azam Khan, the UP minister resigned as an in- charge of ongoing Kumbh Mela, owing to the moral responsibility. 'Operation Three Star' was the code name of the entire top secret plan in which Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist Afzal Guru was hanged in the high- security Tihar Jail on 10 February morning. The operation had started on February 4, a day after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected the mercy petition of the Parliament attack convict paving the way for his execution. Government sources said that a handful of top officials in the Home Ministry and Tihar prison were aware of the operation which was kept top secret considering its sensitive nature. Guru, a medical college dropout and resident of Sopore in north Kashmir, was executed at 8 am on 10 february and buried on the prison premises. 'X' was the code name of the operation in which Ajmal Kasab, the lone Pakistani gunman caught alive after the Mumbai terror attack, was hanged to death at Pune's Yerwada Central Jail on November 21. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on 11 February 2013 removed the public prosecutor AK Singh from the 2G Spectrum Case. The decision of removal came after the alleged public prosecutor was caught discussing the strategy of prosecution with one of the prime accused of the 2G Spectrum Allocation Case in a taped conversation. The 2G Spectrum Case is under trial in a Court of Special Judge at New Delhi and the court was informed about the alleged involvement if the Public Prosecutor by the CBI. AK Singh was the part of the 2G scam legal team of the CBI that was headed by the senior lawyer UU Lalit (the special public prosecutor in the case).The 2G Spectrum Scam of India is a scam that involved Government Officials, Political Leaders and Industrialists within its circumference. The Government officials and politicians were accused for their alleged involvement in undercharging the frequency allocation licenses to the mobile telephony companies, resulting in a total loss of about 176,645 crore rupees as valued by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG). Government on 5 February, has approved multi-connectivity in naxal affected districts under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, PMGSY. Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh told that States can prepare Detailed Project Reports, DPRs in two stages. The Centre will also consider including insurance premium for personnel of contractors on a 75:25 cost sharing basis with State governments. Out of the 52,000 habitations in the 82 naxal affected districts, 30,000 have been sanctioned, but only 19,000 habitations have been connected so far. HRD Minister Dr. M.M. Pallam Raju on 6 February opened in New Delhi, the international conference on community colleges. In his speech the Minister said that 200 community colleges will be started from the next academic session 2013. He said his ministry realizes the role of education in capacity building of youth. Pointing decline in quality of education, he said out of 30 lakh people are added every year only 1/4th of them worth giving jobs as per the industry requirement. He said there is shortage of skill

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people in critically areas including IT, because of mismatch between the outdated syllabus and the changing need of the industry. Stressing for more skill based education, Dr. Raju appealed to the educational institutions to make tailor made courses for industry. He advocated for flexibility to the education programmes. The Minister said industry, including business and service sector, would be associated at all levels viz., development of curriculum, training of trainers/teachers, supply of guest faculty, development/maintenance of laboratories workshops for hands on practical training and evaluation so as to ensure employment of the learner. These Community Colleges would have short duration credit-based modules leveraging on the National Vocational Education Qualifications Framework (NVEQF) to facilitate mobility of learners into the employment sector and banking (accumulation) of credit leading to certificates, diplomas, etc. The US under secretary for public affairs Ms. Tara Sonenshine offered her countrys idea and experience in promotion of community schools. Pointing similarity of challenges between the developing countries and the developed nations in promoting education, she said they are global in nature. Ms. Sonenshine said that community colleges provide education and skill to half of the students in USA at under graduate level. The secretary for higher education Ashok Thakur said that 60 countries are participating in two days conference and as per the govt. priority vocational education will get top priority. There are about 100 foreign participants coming from USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. A new health initiative Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram was launched by Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson, UPA from Palghar, a Tribal Block in Thane district, Maharashtra on 6 February. The initiative is to provide comprehensive healthcare and improve the quality of life of children through early detection of birth defects, diseases, deficiencies, development delays including disability. Launching the programme, Smt. Gandhi said UPA Government is committed to achieve the objective of Health for All through accessible, affordable and equitable healthcare services. Government introduced Janani Suraksha Yojana in 2005 to encourage institutional deliveries by giving cash assistance to pregnant women as incentives. Building on the success of the JSY scheme, Janani Shishu Suraksha karyakram was launched in 2011 to eliminate out-of-pocket expenses for both pregnant women and sick neonates. Under this scheme, every pregnant woman is entitled to absolutely free delivery, including caesarean section, in public health institutions now. Besides the free ante-natal and post-natal check-ups, the scheme provides for free diagnostics, free medicines, free consumables, free food during hospital stay, free caesarean section and free blood, if required and free transport to health facility and drop back home. In a top secret operation on 9 February morning, the 2001 Parliament attack case convict Mohammed Afzal Guru was hanged and buried inside the Tihar jail complex. With this ended the decade-long uncertainty over the execution of the surrendered militant from Sopore, Kashmir, as his mercy petition got caught up in a political slugfest between the Congress-led UPA government and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party. The Ministry of Home Affairs had rejected Gurus petition in 2011 and forwarded it to Pratibha Patil, who was President at the time. Ms. Patil chose not to act, but when Mr. Mukherjee took over as President last year, he returned all pending mercy petitions, including that of Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab the Mumbai terror attack case convict for reconsideration after Mr. Shinde took over as Home Minister in August 2012. But before the Centre gave a go-ahead for the hanging, security across the country, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir, was beefed up to avert any backlash. The MHA also issued an advisory to all State governments to remain on high alert. Afzal Guru was convicted of playing a central role in the entire conspiracy leading to the attack on Parliament on December 13, 2001. He had been on death row for the past 10 years since he was first convicted and sentenced by a special court in December 2002, while his death penalty was upheld by the Supreme Court on August 4, 2005. In a major initiative to reach out to the people in the Social Media Space, the I&B Minister, Manish Tewari on 7 February, launched the MyIndia Initiative-A Digital Volunteer Programme. The initiative aims at disseminating the development messages across the Social Media platforms by registering citizens as volunteers in an effort to contribute positively towards nation building. Speaking on the occasion, Shri Tewari said that this initiative was a milestone as it would enable the Government to disseminate information to citizens specially the youth of the country. It was a programme rooted in the principles of participative governance leading to real time engagement through the Social Media tools. The Minister called upon the youth to be part of the Digital Volunteer Family that would enable the Government to have a personalised interaction with the citizens. Registration for the programme is now open at Ministrys Blog inbministry.blospot.in. In yet another initiative to reach out to the people of India in shortest possible time, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has planned for the first time, a Live Twitter

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Conference on the eve of 3rd Community Radio Sammelan, on 8th February, 2013. This will be the first ever such conference by any Ministry of Government of India. Mani Majra a small town within the Union Territory of Chandigarh was known mainly for being a prosperous suburb. After the release of the international film Zero Dark Thirty, which was shot in Mani Majra, it has acquired the potential to attract international tourists keen to see where the film was shot. The film has received Five Oscar nominations. The Ministry of Tourism has launched an effort to popularise the town and inform potential visitors about how to get there. The Incredible India website has not only embedded a You Tube video that shows the majestic mediaeval Mani Majra Fort, but also shows glimpses of the town and shows the exact locations where the film was shot. The website also has a detailed map that shows how to reach Mani Majra by air, rail and road from Chandigarh as well as from the four major international airports of India. This is part of the Ministrys efforts launched under K. Chiranjeevi, Minister of Tourism to promote every part of India that has any potential to attract international tourists. It may be recalled that the Ministry had recently launched a campaign to promote Puducherry and Munnar (Kerala) where the international film Life of Pi was shot and also hosted a major Tourism Mart at Guwahatiin January, to promote North-Eastern India for international tourism. The first success of the North-Eastern campaign has been the attention received in 14 international media outlets (print and electronic) by the hitherto little-known Pobitora Rhinoceros sanctuary near Guwahati. The Hydro Projects worth 2500 MW across various states have been accorded clearance on 8 February, by the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of M/o Environment & Forest. The projects include Tawang-II H.E. Project (800 MW) in Arunachal Pradesh, Teesta-IV H.E. Project (520 MW) in Sikkim to be executed by NHPC Limited and Luhri H.E. Project (775 MW) in Himachal Pradesh to be executed by Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN) Limited. The National Board for Wild Life (NBWL) has accorded wild life clearance to Vishnugad Pipalkoti H.E. Project (444 MW) in Uttarakhand to be executed by THDC India Limited subject to clearance by the State Board of Wild Life. The clearance has been pending for a long time. The way is straight clear in tapping the hydro potential of the country to meet the countrys power needs. The Centre on 25 January, has constituted three new High Courts in the northeast Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura taking the total number of High Courts in the country from 21 to 24. According to Law Ministry sources, the strength of judges in each High Court will be as follows: Tripura 4 (including the Chief Justice), and Meghalaya and Manipur: three each (including the Chief Justice). As per the recommendations of the Supreme Court collegium, Justice T. Meenakumari, judge of the Patna High Court, who hails from Andhra Pradesh, is being elevated as Chief Justice of Meghalaya. Justice Deepak Gupta, who hails from Himachal Pradesh, is being elevated as Chief Justice of Tripura, and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, judge of the Chhattisgarh High Court, is being appointed CJ of Manipur. President of India Pranab Mukherjee Gave Assent to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee on 3 February 2013 agreed to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 for sharpening the laws against sexual assault. The President mandated harsher punishment such as death penalty for the offenders in such cases where the victim either dies or lands into the vegetative state. The amended law would come into force almost immediately. India accounts to 86 percent Oral Cancer Figure across the World Experts of National Institute of Health and Family Welfare (NIHFW) in first week of February released a report on the harmful effects of gutka. It reported that 86 percent of the total oral cancer figure across the world accounted to India. A total of 75000 to 80000 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in India itself. In case of India the maximum number of cancer was a result of tobacco chewing, because Indians chew tobacco more than smoking. India consists of 14 percent smoking tobacco users and 26 percent chewing tobacco users. As per the report tobacco is responsible for creating 1.5 lakh cancer patients, 4.2 million heart diseases and 3.7 million lung diseases in India every year, making India an oral cancer capital. The statistics released by the Health Ministry 65 percent cancers in India are caused due to the use of tobacco. Other data released reveled that a third of the annual 5.6 million cancer deaths in India occurs due to the excessive use of tobacco. The rate of oral cancer reported in India is about twice the global average. In 2008 cancer was the cause of 7.6 million deaths worldwide. In case of men from South-East Asia Region, oral and lung cancers are the most prevalent ones and breast and cervical cancers are mainly found in women. The Government of India invests a sum of 300 billion rupees per year approximately on treatment of

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tobacco related illness via both private and public spending. It accounts to one-fourth of the total spending on health issues in the country. About 2500 persons die every day in India due to diseases related to tobacco. Panel to Examine issues of Certification under Cinematograph Act 1952 Constituted The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on 4 February 2013 constituted a panel for examining the issues of certification under Cinematographer Act 1952. Shri Mukul Mudgal, the retired Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court have been appointed the Chairman of the Panel. The Committee would be referring following terms i. The committee would be responsible for reviewing the mandate and functioning of CBFC and recommend measures that includes constitutional changes for enabling CBFC to deal with contemporary requirements of certification with increased transparency/efficiency. The issues, inter alia, may include: a. The process of certification under the Act and Rules, including the mechanism followed by Examining and Revising Committees b. Categories of certification, existing and proposed, under the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2013 c. Requirement of special categories of certification for the purposes of broadcasting on television channels and radio stations ii. It will be responsible for reviewing the mandate and functioning of Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) in order to make it a more efficacious appellate body iii. It will be responsible towards examining the role of Central Government regarding sanctioning of cinematograph films for exhibition under Entry 60, List I of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India with reference to Entry 33, List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India iv. The Committee will also be responsible for suggesting measures for carrying on more effective legal remedies and penal provisions in the Act, particularly with reference to making of the unlawful copies, camcording in cinema halls, interpolation/insertion of clips after certification and such similar issues v. It will be responsible for the issues that the Committee may find fit to deliberate upon

March
The National IPv6 Deployment Roadmap Version II, a document containing policy guidelines for IPv6 transition prepared by NT Cell, Department of Telecom (DoT), was released by Union Minister for Communications & IT, Kapil Sibal in New Delhi on 25 March. Sibal said that Internet is an important tool to connect not only people but also people and devices. The explosive growth of mobile subscribers and exponential growth of data has made it imperative to transit to IPv6 to move to smart knowledge society. He emphasized that IPv6 is a limitless highway and the challenge is to bridge the gap between IPv4 and IPv6. He further added that Internet of Things (IoT) offers an immense opportunity for India whereby products & services based on IPv6 can be manufactured here and exported globally. He said that IPv6 based innovative applications in areas like rural emergency healthcare tele-education, smart metering, smart grid, smart building, smart city etc. have tremendous potential to boost the socio-economic development of the country. In a major step towards indigenisation and making the Navy self-reliant, the third anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvette, designed under the ambitious Project-28 (P-28) by the Navys Directorate of Naval Design, was launched in Kolkata on 26 March. Aimed at enhancing the Navys underwater warfare capabilities, the warship, in a first of its kind, will be fitted with indigenous state-of-the-art weapons and sensors, including a medium range gun, torpedo tube launchers, rocket launchers and close-in weapon system. Being built by one of Indias leading shipbuilders, Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd. (GRSE), it has been named after an island Kiltan in the Lakshwadweep archipelago of India. It was launched by Chitra Joshi, wife of the Navy Chief Admiral D. K. Joshi. The first GRSE-built ASW corvette, Kamorta, is expected to be delivered to the Navy by this year-end. It was launched on April 19, 2010 and had suffered a delay of nearly one year. The remaining ships, according to GRSE, will be delivered by 2016. The fourth ASW corvette will be launched in 2014 and built, fitted and tested and delivered to the Navy in little over 20 months, the officials said.

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All government organisations should have a plan to shift to a network that supports new version of internet addresses, IPv6, by 2017-end, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal on said on 26 March. IPv6 will be used for rural emergency healthcare, tele-education, smart-metering, smart grid, smart-building, smart-cities which has tremendous potential for socio-economic development of this country, Sibal said while unveiling the roadmap. The government has started issuing IPv6 address following shortage of previous version of internet address, IPv4. The current version, IPv4, has almost run out of addresses. The explosive growth of number of subscribers and the increasing number of devices has made it necessary to migrate to IPv6. Its adoption is must for secure and sustainable growth of internet, Telecom Secretary R Chandrashekhar said.According to the plan, DoT has said that government organizations should prepare a detailed transition plan for complete migration to IPv6 by December 2017.The plan should be prepared latest by December 2013 and accordingly the required budgetary provisions should be made in their demand for grant. For this purpose, it is recommended that a dedicated transition unit in each organization should be formed immediately to facilitate entire transition, DoT Member (Tech) R K Bhatnagar said.The roadmap mandates that all internet connections provided to business organizations should support new version of internet addresses, IPv6, from January 1, 2014 onwards.All new enterprise customer connections both wireless and wire line, provided by Service Providers on or after 01-012014 shall be capable of carrying IPv6 traffic either on dual stack or on native IPv6, Bhatnagar said. Meanwhile, Sibal said the government will not extend tenure of Chandrasekhar. The Union Government on 29 March 2013 decided to set up 2000 telecom towers in tribal areas with a cost of around 3000 crore Rupees. With over 93 crore mobile connections in use, the next e-governance revolution would be expected to happen around mobile telephones. The government has created special programmes to ensure that all the services being provided now online through kiosks can be provided through mobile phones as well. The domestic IT industry is expected to grow at 12% over the next four years, reaching a size of R1.75 lakh crore by 2016. While the IT services segment is expected to grow at 14% to R96600 crore by 2016, the hardware segment is likely to grow 6% to R44,400 crore and the software products will grow by 14% to R34400 crore. In addition, the government is also planning to set up 10 more Software Technology Parks of India for promoting IT exports. In what can be considered as a breather for the common man, people can book their refill gas cylinder without having to wait for 21 days from the first cylinders delivery. The Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministrys decision to scrap the time limit to book the second subsidized gas cylinder will come into effect from April 1. Local gas agencies have been empowered to allow booking for LPG refill without any wait. Greater Hyderabad Gas Cylinder Dealers Association member Ashok said that from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014 consumers can avail up to nine cylinders of their subsidized quota. After giving a proper reason for the immediate necessity, consumer can avail the second cylinder, he said. On reaching the subsidized limit, if the consumers want to purchase an LPG cylinder, it will have to be at the non-subsidized rate. The Union Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on 19 March 2013 approved the National Food Security Bill. The food security bill approved is directed towards giving the right to food to around 67 per cent of India's 120-crore population. The amendments to the Bill will guarantee 5 kg of food grains per person per month; while families in the poorest of the poor will continue to get 35 kg of grains per month. As per the bill around 800 crore people will be entitled to get five kilos of subsidised grain per month. Rice will be made available at 3 Rupees per kilo; wheat will cost 2 rupees a kilo and cereal will be sold for 1 Rupees per kilo. The beneficiaries are supposed to be decided by state governments, while the criteria to exclude 33 per cent of population would be provided by the Planning Commission, Thomas said. The scheme will be linked to the Aadhar scheme which provides every citizen with a unique identification number that's linked to a database that includes the biometrics of all card-holders. It is also evident from the present year budget, that 90000 crore Rupees is allocated for spending on food subsidies with the government setting aside an extra 10 000 crore Rupees for the bill. To enhance the Army's firepower, the government has approved a Rs 1,500 crore proposal for production of more than 2,000 rockets for the Pinaka multi- barrel weapons system. The Army requires more than 2,000 of these rockets to equip its 10-12 regiments comprising the Pinaka launchers. A meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 23 March, has given a nod to the proposal moved by the Defence Ministry for upgrading the capabilities of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for producing these rockets. As per the proposal, OFB, under the Department of Defence Production, will upgrade facilities at nine of its factories engaged in the production of Pinaka rockets.With a focus on indigenisation to avoid scams in acquisition of foreign military hardware, the Defence Ministry has also decided to pump in Rs 15,000 crore to augment domestic military production.The major plans of OFB include augmentation of production capabilities for T-90 and T-72 tanks, engines for

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armored vehicles and setting up of 155mm howitzer production plants. Pinaka is a multiple rocket launcher produced in India and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) for the Indian Army. The Pinaka system has a maximum range of 3940 km and can fire a salvo of 12 HE rockets in 44 seconds, neutralizing a target area of 3.9 km2. The system is mounted on a Tatra truck for mobility. Pinaka was in service and in large use during the Kargil War, where it was successful in neutralizing enemy positions on the mountain tops. It has since been inducted into the Indian Army in large numbers. Tripura, Meghalaya and Manipur on 23 March 2013 got their own High Courts. Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, Judge of Chhattisgarh High Court took oath as the first Chief Justice of Manipur High Court on 23 March 2013. Gurbachan Jagat Governor of Manipur administered his oath for the office in Imphal. Justice Deepak Gupta along with three other judges would be administered the oath to the High Court of Tripura by the Governor of Bihar and Tripura Dr. D Y Patil. Ashwini Kumar, the Union Law Minister will open the High Court of Manipur in Presence of Chief Justice of India, Altamas Kabir on 25 December 2013. Justice T Meena Kumari was sworn in as the first Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court by Governor Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary.Justice Kumari was earlier a judge of the Patna High Court. The newly established Meghalaya High Court will be formally inaugurated on March 25 by the Chief Justice of India (CJI), Justice Altamas Kabir. Apart from Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura have also been given their own full-fledged high courts. While, the strength of judges in the two high courts will be three each including the chief justice, Tripura High Court, however, will have four judges including the chief justice. Notably, with the approval of these three full-fledged high courts in the North East, the total number of high courts in the country will increase from 21 to 24. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013 was passed in the Lok Sabha on 19 March 2013. Now the bill will be the tabled in the Rajya Sabha where the voting will take place. The bill encompasses features that will provide stringent punishment for crimes against women such as rape, acid attacks, voyeurism and stalking. The punishments range from life term to death penalty for the repeated offenders. The Bill brought out after the Delhi gang rape of the Para-medical student on 16 December 2012, also fixed the age of consensual sex to 18 years. The key features of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013 passed in the Lok Sabha are as follows: 1) The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013 was actually the Ordinance that was promulgated by the President of India on 3 February 2013. 2) The bill seeks to make amendments in the Code of Criminal Procedure, Indian Penal Code, and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act as well as Indian Evidence Act. 3) The bill states that offender could be given an imprisonment of not less than 20 years, extendable up to life term. 4) The bill also includes provisions for death sentence for offenders who are convicted earlier for such crimes. 5) This is for the first time that the bill described voyeurism and stalking as the non-bailable offences, in case repeated for the second time. 6) Perpetrators of acid attacks would be sentenced for 10-year jail term. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013 incorporated some new offences in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) .those are- Acid Attack, Attempt to Acid Attack, Sexual Harassment, Public disrobing of woman, Voyeurism, Stalking. In light of the gang rape of female physiotherapy student on 16 December 2012 in Delhi, the judicial committee which was headed by Justice J. S. Verma was appointed by the Government of India on 22 December 2012 for submitting the report, suggesting amendments in criminal law for dealing with sexual assault cases. 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.As a result, the Cabinet Ministers approved the bringing of ordinance on 1 February 2013 for bringing into law the suggestions of Verma Committee Report. Subsequently, the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee on 3 February 2013 agreed to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 for sharpening the laws against sexual assault. India has been ranked 136 among 187 countries evaluated for human development index (HDI) - a measure for assessing progress in life expectancy, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living or gross national income per capita. The Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for 2013, released on 14 March, puts Indias HDI value for the last year at 0.554, placing it in the medium human development category, which it shares with Equatorial Guinea. On the positive side, Indias HDI value went up from 0.345 to 0.554 between 1980 and 2012, an increase of 61 per cent or an average annual increase of 1.5 per cent. Life expectancy at birth increased by 10.5 years, mean years of schooling by 2.5 years and expected years of schooling by 4.4 years. Importantly, the gross national income (GNI) per capita went up

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273 per cent, the report says. Despite Indias progress, its HDI of 0.554 is below the average of 0.64 for countries in the medium human development group, and of 0.558 for countries in South Asia. From South Asia, countries which are close to Indias HDI rank and population size are Bangladesh and Pakistan with HDIs ranked 146 each. But the report points out that the ranking masks inequality in the distribution of human development across the population. Even on the Gender Inequality Index inequalities in reproductive health, empowerment and economic activity India has been ranked 132nd among the 148 countries for which data is available. In India, only 10.9 per cent of the parliamentary seats are held by women, and 26.6 per cent of adult women have reached a secondary or higher level of education, compared with 50.4 per cent of their male counterparts. For every 100,000 live births, 200 women die of causes related to pregnancy, and female participation in the labour market is 29 per cent, compared with 80.7 per cent for men. As for the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which identifies multiple deprivations in the same household in education, health and living standard, Indias value averages out at 0.283, a little above Bangladeshs and Pakistans. The figures for evaluating MPI have been drawn from the 2005-06 survey, according to which 53.7 per cent of the population lived in multidimensional poverty, while an additional 16.4 per cent were vulnerable to multiple deprivations. Union Cabinet approved Electronic Services Bill that is directed towards providing access to all central and state government services such as passport, ration card and driving licenses electronically, especially the Internet, within eight years. The bill will be of directive nature and mandate the government organisations to start providing all services for citizen within eight years time through electronic medium. The (central and state) governments will notify the service that they will provide electronically in next 5 years. They will be given extra three years after five years to ensure all services all provided electronically. The bill is supposed to bring more transparency in the system as the electronic delivery of services will help rein in corruption. The Electronic Service Delivery bill was brought before the Cabinet to bring it in sync with Citizens Charter Bill or The Right of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011, and was approved by Union Cabinet on 7 March 2013. The State Bank of India (SBI) planned to start around 1200 new branches in India as well as eight overseas branches in financial year 2013-2014. SBI planned to open 100 branches in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra under its domestic expansion plan. In the overseas expansion plan, it planned to open two branches in UK and Bangladesh each and one each in Sri Lanka, South Korea, China and Netherlands. It is important to note that South Korea already has SBI branch and now there are plans to upgrade the existing representative office into full-fledged branch. SBI aimed to open offshore branches for catering to the Non-Resident Indians as well as Indian businesses. By starting these eight offshore branches, the network would increase to 59. SBI is said to be the largest bank of India with 14677 branches spread across India. In the meanwhile, SBI is also in the process to recruit 1500 Probationary Officers for managing the increasing operations. In Madhya Pradesh, Union power ministry on 16 March 2013 inaugurated a Spice Park in Mawan area of Guna district. This spice park has been built at a cost of fifty five crore rupees. Farmers from Madhya Pradeshs Neemuch, Ratlam, Guna, Ashoknagar, Shivpuri, Bara and Jhalawad districts of Rajasthan will be benefited by the spice park. Products will be processed and packaged in the park and will be exported to different countries. The Fruit and Spice Park is a 37-acre (15 ha) botanical garden in metropolitan Miami at 24801 SW 187 Avenue, located in the rural agricultural community of the Redland, Florida, United States. The park contains more than 500 varieties of fruit, nut, and spice trees, including more than 80 banana varieties, 125 varieties of mango. The Union Cabinet on 14 March 2013 cleared a Bill providing for severe punishment for rape, acid attack, stalking and voyeurism more to the point reducing the age of consent for sex to 16 years. The bill which was named the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 lowers the age of consent for sex from 18 to 16 years with making of rape as a gender-specific offence under which men only can be charged for it. The Bill is brought in line with the Indian Penal Code, but at variance with the Child Protection Act, 2012, which raised it to 18. The bill brought against the milieu of the 16 December 2012 Delhi gang rape, provides for minimum jail term of 20 years for rape which may be extended to natural life of the convict in jail. There is also provision for death sentence if the victim dies or is left in a 'persistent vegetative state'. Stalking, voyeurisms have been defined as criminal offences in the bill. Sustained stalking will be a non-bailable offence. As per the bill there is replacement in more general expression sexual assault used in the ordinance. It also provides for the death sentence if the rape victim dies or ends up in a vegetative state. The approval of the Cabinet paves the way for

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introduction of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 in Parliament before it goes into recess on 22 March 2013.The bill also proposes a punishment of not less than 10 years to a maximum of life imprisonment. The Supreme Court on 14 March, restrained Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini from leaving the country even as the Government decided to withhold the sending of a new envoy to Italy and resolved to throw out Mr. Mancini once the court finishes dealing with the issue. On a parallel track, the Foreign Office began a review of its engagements with Italy to be in a position to implement Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs warning of consequences if Rome went back on its commitment of sending the marines back within four weeks. As the apex court had let off the marines on February 22, Government sources said the window will close after a week. In a significant decision taken following a late evening meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister (EAM) Salman Khurshid, India will not send a new Ambassador to Rome to replace Rajiv Dogra who has retired and is back in the country. Mr. Basant Gupta was all set to leave for Rome but was asked to stay back .The Government is also thinking of throwing out the Italian Ambassador once the Supreme Court is through with the issue. Our hands are tied at the moment because the Supreme Court is hearing the matter. We dont know what direction the case will take. But once the court has decided how to deal with the Ambassador, we will declare him persona non-grata, said sources.At the PM-EAM meeting, it was also felt that the European Union must be taken into confidence about the developments. Accordingly, Indian envoys in the 27 EU member countries will present the case in Brussels as well as in the respective national capitals. In Delhi too, envoys will be briefed on the reasons for Indias anger, to balance the perspective provided by Italy. Union Minister of Communications & IT, Kapil Sibal on 8 March 2013 inaugurated the First All Women Employees Post Office of India at Shastri Bhawan in New Delhi. The Post Office is called Project Arrow Office and consists of three counters. Two of the three counters offer Multi Purpose services such as registration, booking of money orders, booking of speed post as well as sale of IPOs. Other counter is meant to facilitate the sale of stamps. All the three counters will have only women employees. Overall, there are 1003 women employees at operative level in Delhi circle. The percentage of these women in overall workforce is around 14 percent. In administrative cadres, percentage of women employees is 22 percent. The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee on 15 March 2013 released a commemorative postal stamp at XXXIII Convocation of Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER) at Chandigarh. The President attended the 33rd Convocation of PGIMER. The President announced that for the future of India, progress in health sector was crucial. The stamp was released as the part of Golden Jubilee Celebrations of PGIMER. It is important to note that PGIMER includes doctors, students, faculty members as well as officials of UT Administration, Punjab and Haryana. Andhra Pradesh Cheif Minister N.Kiran Kumar Reddy at Zaheerabad, Medak district on 6 March, inaugurated Asias first largest tractor plant and first in Andhra Pradesh state, established by Mahindra and Mahindra Limited. The 300-crrore worth tractor plant set up with an installed capacity of 1,00,000 tractors per annum was the first manufacturing unit come up in Andhra Pradesh after become chief Minister of the state, Mr Reddy said on the occasion. The world class facility which is equipped to meet international manufacturing standards spread across 80 acres of land. As many as 65 projects were cleared in the state Investment board earlier and Rs 1, 33,000 lakh crore investments would come up in the state, the chief Minister said on the occasion. Speaking on the occasion, M & M Group Chairman Anand Mahindra said with the support of the state government that the plant was constructed within 18-months and the group was planning to establish 200 Mahindra Pride Schools across the country and in which one school will come up in Andhra Pradesh. Facing relentless opposition, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured the Rajya Sabha on 6 March, of stringent action against those who had siphoned off money from the UPAs farm loan waiver scheme. The government also agreed to have a discussion on the Comptroller and Auditor-Generals report, which was tabled in Parliament on 5 March and highlighted the irregularities. His promise of action apart, Dr. Singh favored that the normal procedure be followed: referring the report to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).Conceding the vociferous demand from the Opposition, the government agreed to discuss the report in the Lok Sabha. Raising the issue during zero hour, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj said thousands of people were denied the benefit, while those ineligible got the relief. Demanding that bank officials and auditors be questioned, she said the RBI had convened a meeting of banks in January and given them time to rectify the mistakes, but no action was taken.Ms. Swaraj also sought a structured discussion on the very serious matter.

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62 year old Former CBI Director, Ashwani Kumar on 9 March 2013 appointed as Governor of Nagaland. Ashwani Kumar was the Director of the agency from August 2008 to November 2010. He will be the first head of the agency to be appointed as a Governor. With the appointment of Ashwani Kumar Former Delhi Police Commissioner Nikhil Kumar, who was serving as Governor of Nagaland, has been transferred and appointed as Governor of Kerala for the remainder of his tenure. President Pranab Mukherjee also transferred Governor of Tripura D Y Patil to Bihar and shifted Bihar Governor Devanand Konwar to Tripura for the remainder of their five-year terms, Four time Chief Minister of Nagaland and former Governor of Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat, 81-year-old SC Jamir was appointed as Governor of Odhisa. SC Jamir succeeds 84-year-old M C Bhandare who had been appointed as Governor in August 2007 and was continuing even after his term had expired last year. Mukul Manda Sangma of Congress was sworn-in as the Chief Minister of Meghalaya for the second term on 5 March 2013. He took oath for the second term as 26th Chief Minister of the state. The Governor, R.S. Mooshahary administered him the oath of office and secrecy at the Raj Bhavan premises in Shillong. 47year old Mukul Sangma led the Congress with 29 seats, merely two seats short of the majority in a house of 60. He was sworn-in without the Council of Ministers. Announcement of the list of Council of Ministers will be made by Mukul Manda Sangma in the second week of March 2013. The Union Cabinet on 6 March gave in principle approval to a bill providing for time-bound delivery of services like pensions, passports, caste certificates, death certificates, ration cards and tax refunds, among others, to the citizens. Defaults will attract a penalty of Rs 250 a day subject to a maximum of Rs 50,000. The Right of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011, was approved by Union Cabinet at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The bill envisages penalty of up to Rs 50,000 against a government official failing to provide his or her duties, official sources said.It lays down an obligation upon every public authority to publish citizen's charter, stating therein the time within which specified goods shall be supplied and services be rendered and provides for a grievance redressal mechanism for non-compliance of its provisions. The Railway Budget 2013-14 presented by the Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal in the Parliament on 26 february,lays thrust on safety, consolidation, improving passenger amenities and fiscal discipline. The Budget has proposed working expenses of Rs. 96,500 crore against the Gross Traffic Receipts of Rs. 1, 43,742 crore for the year. The Railway Minister has proposed that appropriation to the Pension Fund of Railway Employees to Rs. 22,000 crore while appropriation to Depreciation Reserve Fund to Rs. 7,500 crore. With these proposals Railways expected to close the year 2013-14 with a balance of Rs. 12,506 crore in the Railway Fund. Pawan Kumar Bansal has proposed highest ever plan outlay of Rs. 63,363 crore for 201314 which will be financed through Gross Budgetary Support of Rs. 26,000 crore and internal resources of 14,260 crore. Market borrowing of Rs.15,103 crore, Railways share in Road Safety Fund of Rs.2000 and Rs.6000 crore will also be mobilized through PPP mode to finance operations of Railways during the year. Due to the financial discipline railways has been able to fully repay its loan of Rs. 3,000 crore and its operating ratio during the 2013-14 is expected to increase to 87.8% as compared to 88.8% in 2011-12. The Minister informed that the Indian Railways is set to achieve the milestone of entering the select club of railways with over 1 million ton freight loading. At present, only the Chinese, Russian and the US Railways have this distinction. The Indian Railways have joined another select club of railways which run freight trains of more than 10,000 tones load. Highlights of Railway Budget 2013-14 67 new Express trains to be introduced 26 new passenger services, 8 DEMU services and 5 MEMU services to be introduced Run of 57 trains to be extended Frequency of 24 trains to be increased First AC EMU rake to be introduced on Mumbai suburban network in 2013-14 72 additional services to be introduced in Mumbai and 18 in Kolkata Rake length increased from 9 cars to 12 cars for 80 services in Kolkata and 30 services in Chennai 500 km new lines, 750 km doubling, 450 km gauge conversion targeted in 2013-14 First ever rail link to connect Arunachal Pradesh Some Railway related activities to come under MGNREGA For the first time 347 ongoing projects identified as priority projects with the committed funding Highest ever plan outlay of Rs. 63,363 crore

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Loan of Rs. 3000 crore repaid fully. A new fund-Debt Service Fund set up to meet committed liabilities. Freight loading of 1047 MT, 40 MT more than 2012-13 Passenger growth 5.2% in 2013-14 Gross Traffic Receipts Rs. 1, 43,742 crore i.e. an increase of 18,062 crore over RE, 2012-13 Dividend payment estimated at Rs. 6,249 crore Operating Ratio to be 87.8% in 2013-14 Supplementary charges for super fast trains, reservation fee, clerkage charge, cancellation charge and tatkal charge marginally increased Fuel Adjustment Component linked revision for freight tariff to be implemented from 1st April 2013 Enhanced reservation fee abolished Elimination of 10797 Level Crossings (LC) during the 12th Plan and no addition of new LCs henceforth Introduction of 160/200 kmph Self Propelled Accident Relief Trains Aadhar to be used for various passenger and staff related services Internet ticketing from 0030 hours to 2330 hours E-ticketing through mobile phones Project of SMS alerts to passengers providing updates on reservation status Next Gen e-ticketing system to be rolled out : capable of handling 7200 tickets per minute against 2000 now, 1.20 lakh users simultaneously against 40,000 now Introduction of executive lounge at 7 more stations: Bilaspur, Visakhapatnam, Patna, Nagpur, Agra, Jaipur and Bengaluru Introduction of Azadi Express to connect places associated with freedom movement Four companies of women RPF personnel set up and another 8 to be set up to strengthen the security of rain passengers, especially women passengers 10% RPF vacancies being reserved for women 1.52 lakh vacancies being filled up this year out of which 47000 vacancies have been earmarked for weaker sections and physically challenged Railways to impart skills to the youth in railway related trades in 25 locations Provision of portable fire extinguishers in Guard-cum-Brake Vans, AC Coaches and Pantry Cars in all trains Pilot project on select trains to facilitate passengers to contact on board staff through SMS/phone call/e-mail for coach cleanliness and real time feedback Provision of announcement facility and electronic display boards in trains providing free Wi-Fi facilities on several trains Upgrading 60 stations as Adarsh Stations in addition to 980 already selected Introduction of an Anubhuti coach in select trains to provide excellent ambience and latest facilities and services 179 escalators and 400 lift at A-1 and other major stations to be installed facilitating elderly and differently-abled Affixing Braille stickers with layout of coaches including toilets, provision of wheel chairs and battery operated vehicles at more stations and making coaches wheel-chair friendly Centralized Catering Services Monitoring Cell set up with a toll free number (1800 111 321) Complimentary card passes to recipients of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna & Dhyan Chand Awards to be valid for travel by 1st Class/2nd AC Complimentary card passes to Olympic Medalists and Dronacharya Awardees for travel in Rajdhani/Shatabadi Trains Travel by Duronoto Trains permitted on all card passes issued to sportspersons having facility of travel by Rajdhani/Shatabadi Trains Facility of complimentary card passes valid in 1st class/2nd AC extended to parents of posthumous unmarried awardees of Mahavir Chakra, Vir Chakra, Kirti Chakra, Shaurya Chakra, and Presidents Police Medal for Gallantry and policy medal for Gallantry Passes for freedom fighters to be renewed once in three years instead of every year. Setting up of six more Rail Neer bottling plants at Vijayawada, Nagpur, Lalitpur, Bilaspur, Jaipur and Ahmedabad Setting up of a multi-disciplinary training institute at Nagpur for training in rail related electronics technologies

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Setting up of a centralized training institute at Secunderabad--Indian Railways Institute of Financial Management Five fellowships in national universities to be instituted to motivate students to study and undertake research on Railway related issues at M.Phil and Ph.D. levels Fund allocation for staff quarters enhanced to Rs. 300 crore Provision of hostel facilities for single women railway employees at all divisional headquarters

April
Sushil Kumar Shinde, Union Home Minister on 30 April, released the Primary Census Abstract-Data Highlights of Census 2011 in a function organized by the Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India in New Delhi. On the occasion, Union Home Minister distributed Census Medals to G. K. Pillai, former Union Home Secretary and the officers of the Census Organization in recognition to the outstanding services rendered by them during Census 2011. Some of the salient features of the data released are as below: Total population of the country is 1.21 billion showing an increase of 181.96 million persons in absolute numbers of population in India during the decade 2001-2011. During this decade, population of India grew by 17.7% as against 21.5% in the previous decade. As per Census 2011, 833.5 million persons live in rural areas and 377.1 million persons lives in urban areas. Thus, more than 2/3rd of total population of India lives in rural areas. Density of population as per current Census is 382 persons per sq.km against 325 persons per sq.km. in 2001. Child population in the age group 0-6 years in 2011 Census is 164.5 million as against 163.8 million showing an increase of 0.4% in the last decade. Sex ratio in Census 2011 is 943 females per 1000 males as against 933 in 2001 Census. Population of Scheduled Castes in this Census is 201.4 million as against 166.6 million in 2001 registering an increase of 20.8% whereas Scheduled Tribes population increased to 104.3 million in 2011 from 84.3 million in 2001. As per Census 2011, number of literates is 763.5 million as against 560.7 million in 2001.

A sessions court in New Delhi on 30 April, acquitted senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar of all charges in the murder of five Sikhs in the Raj Nagar area of Delhi Cantonment in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case. Among the five other accused, former Municipal Corporation of Delhi councilor Balwan Khokhar, Captain Bhagmal and Girdhari Lal were held guilty of murder and rioting charges, while the former MLA, Mahender Yadav, and Balwans brother, Krishan Khokhar, were held guilty of rioting charges. The conspiracy charges pressed by the CBI on all six accused failed to stick. District and Sessions Judge J.R. Aryan will hear arguments on sentence on May 6. AP third-best in sex ratio, lags in literacy Census 2011, released by home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on 30 April, said India's total population as on March 1, 2011 stands at 1.21 billion, 17.7 per cent more than the previous decade. In an encouraging sign, growth of females was higher than that of males, with Andhra Pradesh at third place with 993 females for 1,000 males. The other four top performing states on female-male ratio were Kerala (1,084 females), Tamil Nadu (996), Chhattisgarh (991) and Odisha (979). The worst performing state on female-male ratio is Haryana with just 879 females for 1,000 males. AP however has failed to replicate its sex ratio success on the literacy front, failing miserably at 67.01per cent. The state is fifth from the bottom, with Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Arunachal Pradesh and Bihar bringing up the rear. According to the census, Andhra Pradesh has a recorded population of 8,45,80,777 with a male population of 4,24,42,146 and a female population of 4,21,38,631. The figures show that 5, 63, 61,702 people stay in rural areas of the state while only 2, 82, 19,075 stay in the urban areas. The Telangana districts, including Hyderabad, have a population of 3, 51, and 70211. 5, 05, 56,760 of the total population are literate. The density of population in the country has also increased from 325 in 2001 to 382 in 2011 in per sq km. Among the major states, Bihar occupies the first position with a density of 1106, surpassing West Bengal which occupied the first position during 2001. The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh inaugurated the National conference to celebrate the National Panchayati Raj Day in New Delhi on 24 April. On the occasion, annual awards under Panchayat Empowerment and Accountability Incentive Scheme (PEAIS) and Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Puraskar (RGGSP)) were

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conferred upon the best performing States and Panchayats. 18 top ranking Gram Panchayats were awarded with Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Purskar. 193 Panchayats were also received awards for best performance. The Panchayat Strengthening Index Awards (PSI) were given to States this year. Under the Cumulative PSI Awards 1st Prize is won by Maharashtra, while 2nd Prize is bagged by Karnataka, 3rd Prize Kerala and 4th Prize Tripura. Under the Incremental PSI Awards 1st Prize is won by Karnataka, 2nd Prize Rajasthan, 3rd Prize Maharashtra and 4th Prize is won by Odisha. The prize money for Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Puraskar award is Rs. 10 lakhs. The Award money will be utilized by the Panchayats for public purposes such as augmentation of civic services like primary education, primary health care, safe drinking water, public utilities; provision rural infrastructure in the Panchayat jurisdiction. The Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said that there is a need to take immediate action by the non life insurance sector to increase penetration and coverage of the non life insurance in the country. He said that India is one of the most under insured country in the world as non life insurance sector has a penetration of only 0.7 percent in the country. The Finance Minister said that there is a need to increase insurance density in the country as well. The Finance Minister was speaking at a function organized in New Delhi on 24 April, to launch mediclaim facility for the farmers holding Kisan Credit Cards (KCC) issued by Dena Bank. The Finance Minister later handed over medi claim policies and ID cards to six farmers of different States holding KCC of Dena Bank in the presence of Namo Narain Meena, Minister of State for Finance, Shri Rajiv Takru, Secretary, Department of Financial Services, Shri Ashok Dutt, Executive Director Dena Bank, Shri Milind Kharat, CMD, United India Insurance Company (UIIC) and other senior officers of the Finance Ministry to mark the occasion. At the launch of the said scheme, the Union Finance Minister P.Chidambaram complimented Dena Bank and United India Insurance Company (UIIC) for introducing an innovative and noble scheme for the benefit of farmers at large. He said though it is a small step, in terms of coverage of farmers in relation to total KCC holders of the country, to provide hassle free cashless mediclaim facility to the farmers yet it is a welcome step. While wishing the scheme all the success, he mentioned that on successful implementation of the scheme, it can be considered for implementation on a larger scale. Dena Bank, celebrating its Platinum Jubilee year, has as an initiative under CSR launched a Nobel scheme for its 2, 25,000 KCC holder farmer customers covering their family members under Mediclaim with maximum cover up to Rupees Thirty Thousand. Ministry of Home Affairs, government of India and the NSCN(K) have jointly agreed to extend the current period of cease fire, which is to expire on April 28,2013 for a further of one year stated a press release issued by GoI on 25 April. The extension of the cease fire was signed in New Delhi on 22 April, between a five-member NSCN(K)team led by its kilonser Wangtin Naga, supervisor Lincoln, kilonser P.Tikhat, kilonser Hukato and member-secretary CFSB H.K.Sema and MHA representatives led by union joint secretary(MHA) Shambhu Singh. Minister of State for Civil Aviation, K. C. Venugopal informed Rajya Sabha on 25 April, that the concept of Flexible Use of Airspace (FUA) for sharing of airspace between civil and military users has been agreed in principle. The Government has accorded approval for constituting a High Level Airspace Policy Body (HLAPB) with the Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation as its Chairperson, and also for establishing sub-committees by the HLAPB to develop modalities for implementing the concept of FUA. Salient features of the airspace sharing settlement includes establishment of three levels of airspace management, viz., ASM Level 1, the strategic level, wherein the per-determined airspace structures will be established, ASM Level 2, the pre-tactical level, wherein day-to-day allocation of airspace according to user requirements will be carried out and ASM Level 3, the tactical level, wherein real-time use of airspace allowing a safer and fuel efficient civil and military flights is effected. The airspace sharing settlement also includes establishment of an Airspace Management Cell (AMC) for conducting ASM Level 2 operations in close coordination with Central Flow Management Unit. The concept of FUA is expected to bring in significant savings in terms of fuel and air travel time. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation has proposed to launch a National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM) in 12th Five Year Plan, which will replace the existing Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY). NULM would focus on the primary issues pertaining to urban poverty such as imparting skill training, enabling entrepreneurship development, providing wage employment and selfemployment opportunities to the urban poor. This was stated by Ajay Maken, Union Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA), in the Rajya Sabha on 25 April, in a written reply to a question by Shri Nand Kumar Sai. The Minister stated that the proposal of NULM is at approval stage. The annual targets under NULM will be fixed after final approval as per budget allocation for its implementation. The High Court of Delhi on 24 April 2013 directed the Union Government of India to respond on a plea that questioned how children below the age of 18 were allowed to open an account on social networking sites like

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Face book and others. The response was sought by the Supreme Court because Indian Majority Act, the Indian Contract Act and the Information and Technology Act dont permit a child below 18 years to open an account on the social networking sites. The High Court bench of justices BD Ahmed and Vibhu Bakhru ordered the Union Government to file an affidavit on the issue making its stand clear within 10 days. The Court posted the matter for further hearing to 13 May 2013. The Court also ordered Face book Inc and Google Inc, the US based firms to respond to how is the recovery of taxes from the websites on their income from operations in India is done. The Indian Railways reduced the advanced booking period of the tickets from four months duration to two months, with effect from 1 May 2013. This has been done to prevent the enormous amount of cancellations after the booking process. The Railway notification issued on 25 April 2013 declared that the advance reservation period (ARP) in order to book the reserved train tickets was being reduced from 120 days to 60 days from 1 May 2013. It was also declared that the bookings which were done up to 30 April 2013 under already-existing ARP of 120 days will not be changed. Railway officials believed that this action would help the genuine travelers and reduced touts that booked bulk tickets in advance. No change was introduced to ARP limit of 360 days for foreign tourists. Cancellation of booking which was made beyond the time duration of 60 days shall be permitted. At present, tatkal tickets are being issued when a person produces self-attested photocopy of a valid identity proof. In order to monitor the tout, Railways conduct raids on the railway stations as well. India and United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed an MoU on Air Services, following the two-day bilateral negotiation at Abu Dhabi on 24 April. The UAE had urged India to allocate additional 40,000 seats per week, grant Goa, Pune, Amritsar and Lucknow as additional points of calls, remove the maximum cap prescribed from each point of call in-term of seats/ frequency per week and allow 3rd country /domestic code share facility. India was looking at the negotiations in overall economic interest of India and Governments policy of liberalization for attracting foreign investment in India, including civil aviation sector. The Indian side had requested the UAE side to grant change of gauge facility at Abu Dhabi to Indian carriers in addition to ensuring full 5th freedom rights from UAE. India and Saudi Arabia on 28 April 2013 decided to set up a joint working group to address the concerns of expatriate Indian workers in Saudi Arabia on the Nitaqat law. The India-Saudi Arabia Joint Working Group on Labour will discuss a Memorandum of Understanding on labour co-operation and other issues. The decisions were taken at a meeting of a high level Indian delegation led by the Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vyalar Ravi with the Saudi Labour Minister Adel Fakieh in Jeddah. The first meeting of the group will be held in Riyadh on 1 May 2013.The Joint working group led by a Saudi Deputy Minister and Indias Deputy Chief of Mission in Saudi Arabia will discuss and evolve mechanism to address all immediate problems facing the NRI community including issues related to overstaying Indian workers. The process of recruitment of Indian workers would be made more transparent. The Nitaqat law makes it mandatory for local companies to hire one Saudi national for every 10 migrant workers. The new policy will result in to denial of job opportunities for many Indians working there. The Nitaqat aims to create more jobs for Saudi citizens. It was enacted following Arab Spring, which happened mainly because of huge unemployment in countries such as Yemen and Egypt. With a view to create awareness amongst masses in general and youth in particular about the exceptional biodiversity of India, the Union Minister of Railways, Pawan Kumar Bansal, Minister of Environment & Forests, Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan and Smt. Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister of Delhi flagged off Science Express Biodiversity Special (SEBS) Train from Safdarjung Railway Station in New Delhi on 9 April. It has been a collaborative initiative of the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) & Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India, the Indian Railways, the Vikram Sarabhai Community Science Centre, and the Centre for Environment Education. It has also engaged a large number of knowledge partners, State Biodiversity Boards, State Education Agencies, State Nodal Agencies on NGC and NEAC, Government officials, Peoples Representatives, colleges and academia, civil society organizations and the media. Participation of school children and teachers has stood out. Under the second phase of programme, the SEBS will cover 62 stations over next 6 months. Of the 16 coaches of Science Express- Biodiversity Special, 8 are solely dedicated to showcasing the myriad biodiversity spread across all the bio-geographical zones of India through a variety of interactive exhibits, short films & videos that are shown on Plasma & LED TV screens, large format displays, kiosks, backlit panels, and so on. The rest of coaches have interesting & informative exhibits on Climate Change, Energy and Water conservation and topical issues in science. The Science Express Biodiversity Special (SEBS), a mobile biodiversity exhibition train is a Mission to create massive awareness on Indias rich biodiversity. SEBS was showcased as Indias brand ambassador during recently concluded CBD Conference of Parties (CoP). The Science Express: Biodiversity Special- is a unique, state-of-the-art exhibition train that brings biodiversity awareness to a cross section of people,

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particularly children and youths, as it travels across the country. During its first phase, which ended on 22 December 2012 at Ahmadabad, it made halts of 3-4 days duration each at 51 locations and over 23 lakh people, including 6 lakh students and 32000 teachers from 7000 schools enjoyed learning in a fun filled way. The train was also stationed at Secunderabad during 9-19 October 2012 to facilitate visit of delegates to Conference of Parties (CoP-11). India hosted the CoP II meeting at Hyderabad attended by participants from more than 190 countries across the world. SEBS was the brand ambassador to showcase the rich bio diversity of India. The High Court of Delhi on 9 April 2013 recommended the Union Government of India to constitute a Statutory Regulatory Body to control Electronic Media. The High Court Bench of Delhi led by Justice Pradeep Nandarajog rejected the idea of self-regulation of the broadcasters. The Court in its judgment ruled that state intervention is necessary to promote the media environment that is characterized by pluralism and diversity. The High Court bench added that a regulatory body was required for ensuring compliance of the provisions mentioned under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 and the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994 by the media organizations. The court in its recommendation said that a statutory regulatory body that consists of men and women of eminence from field of law, science, art and culture, literature, history and social sciences to be constituted. Security of tenure needs to be brought into practice for the members of the regulatory body to ensure non-interference from the government. The Court appointed selfregulatory body of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation Broadcasting Consumers Complaint Committee as the regulatory body to look into the complaints of violation of program and advertising codes and other provisions by the media and give its ruling, until as statutory body is constituted by the Union Government. The court also ruled that the decisions of the Broadcasting Consumers Complaint Committee shall be treated as the foundation stone for taking appropriate action against the offenders. The Government has approved a project to create National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) connecting all the 2, 50,000 Gram Panchayats (GPs) in the country through Optical Cable (OFC).The Central Government, through Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), is funding the project while the contribution of State Government would be by providing free Right of Way (RoW) for laying OFC. The project envisages signing a tripartite MoU for free Right of Way (RoW) among Central Government, State Government and Bharat Broadband Network Limited, BBNL (the SPV incorporated for execution of the project). 16 States/UTs have already signed MoUs on 26.10.2012: Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Manipur, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and 3 Union Territories viz. Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu and Puducherry. This arrangement covers 1, 40,727 GPs to be provided with Optical Fibre Network in these States and UTs. Tripartite MoU were signed on 12 April, in the presence of Union Minister of Communications & IT, Shri Kapil Sibal with further 10 States /UTs on 12 april: Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Total of 85731 GPs will get covered by Optical Fibre Network in these States and UTs. With the availability of NOFN at 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats a minimum bandwidth of 100 Mbps will be available at each of GP and will lead to proliferation of broadband services. A Delhi court on 11 April 2013 ruled that a surrogate mother and her husband cannot have any right over a child conceived and delivered through artificial means. The court ruled that definition of term surrogacy in guidelines laid down by Indian Council of Medical Research itself recognizes that the intended parents are parents genetically related to the child and not the surrogate mother or her husband. Additional Senior Civil Judge Sonu Agnihotri's remarks came while declaring a single woman from the UK as the biological mother of a boy delivered by an Indian woman acting as a surrogate mother. The court passed the order on a suit initiated by the UK national who, after having received the custody of the child from the surrogate mother, moved the court praying for a decree declaring her as the biological mother of baby boy to put to rest her apprehension that in future, the surrogate mother or her husband might claim custody of the boy. Odisha decided to set up First Public Health University in India Odisha on 8 April 2013 decided to set up the first public health university in India. This university will be set up under Public-Private Partnership mode at Gramadiha village in Jatni tehsil on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar. A MoU has been signed in this regard by State Health Department and Asian Institute of Public Health in Bhubaneshwar. In the first phase, 100 crore rupees will be invested in this University. The University will offer master and postdoctoral degree, diplomas and certificates courses in public health and public health management to both medical and non-medical professionals. Indian Railways Carried 1009.73 Million Tones of Freight during Fiscal 2012-13 -Indian Railways carried 1009.73 million tonnes of revenue earning freight traffic during the financial year 2012-13 as per the data released by Ministry of Railways. The freight carried shows an increase of 39.95 million

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tonnes over the freight traffic of 969.78 million tonnes actually carried during the corresponding period last year, registering an increase of 4.12 per cent. During the month of March 2013, the revenue earning freight traffic carried by Indian Railways was 98.20 million tonnes. There is an increase of 4.35 million tonnes over the actual freight traffic of 93.85 million tonnes carried by the Indian Railways during the same period last year, showing an increase of 4.64 per cent. AP Government launched GPS-GIS based Emergency Response System Dial 100 -State Government of Andhra Pradesh on 11 April 2013 launched a GPS-GIS based Central Emergency Response System Dial 100 in Hyderabad. The emergency response system is designed to enable police reach the area of complaint within minutes of receiving the complaint. The project with state-wide network was launched by the states Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy. The project is jointly being exercised by State Police and a Private Firm that will operate the GPS-GIS based state of the art emergency response system that will operate on a single command and control centre for complete state. The same centre of Dial 100 will coordinate in cases of other emergencies like fire, medical as well as the disaster related response. This facility will enable citizens of the state to Dial 100 and register the complaints via mobile or landline phone. AP launched Amma Hastham to Provide Food Items to Poor at Subsidized Rates -The State Government of Andhra Pradesh on 11 April 2013 on occasion of Ugadi Festival launched a new scheme named Amma Hastham (mother's hand) to supply nine essential food items to poor at subsidized rates. The Amma Hstam scheme was named after the name of Late Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. Chief Minister of the state Kiran Kumar Reddy has formally launched the scheme at Hyderabad. About 2 crore 20 lakh poor families will be benefitted with the launch of the scheme that is to be run on an additional annual burden of 660 crore rupees on the state exchequer. The nine essential item mentioned in the scheme includes a kilo of Wheat, Wheat Flour, Palm Oil, Salt Red Gram, half a kilo of Sugar and Tamerind, quarter kilo of Red Mirchi powder and 100 grams Termaric Powder. World Bank announced a Multi-billion Dollar Plan for Poverty Alleviation in Indian States -The World Bank in the second week of April 2013 announced a multi-million dollar four-year plan that is to be initiated in seven low-income states of India to bring down the poverty levels. The World Banks Country Partnership Strategy for India proposed to lend 3 billion to 5 billion US dollars every year for a period of next four years. The recognized states are Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. The states have been identified depending upon the number of poors that live in these states. President PranabMukherjee has given his assent to the Anti-rape Bill which provides for life term and even death sentence for rape convicts besides stringent punishment for offences like acid attacks, stalking and voyeurism. Mukherjee accorded his assent to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill-2013 on 2 April, brought against the backdrop of the country-wide outrage over Delhi gang-rape case, and it will now be called the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.The law, passed by Lok Sabha on March 19 and by Rajya Sabha on March 21, has replaced an ordinance promulgated on February 3.It amends various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Indian Evidence Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. With an aim of providing a strong deterrent against crimes like rapes, the new law states that an offender can be sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 20 years, but which may extend to life, meaning imprisonment for the remainder of the convict's natural life and with a fine. It has provisions for handing out death sentence to offenders who may have been convicted earlier for such crimes. The law, for the first time, defines stalking and voyeurism as non-bailable offences if repeated for a second time. Perpetrators of acid attack will attract a 10-year jail. It also defines acid attack as a crime besides granting a victim the right to self-defense. It also has provisions for imposing a minimum 10-year jail term for perpetrators of such acts. The law has fixed age for consensual sex at 18 years. Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to the Anti-rape Bill, providing enhanced punishment for rape, making stalking and voyeurism criminal offences and fixing the age of consent for sex at 18.The Bill incorporates suggestions of the Justice JS Verma Committee, formed after the brutal Delhi gang-rape of Dec 16 last year, to make anti-rape laws stronger. It provides for rigorous imprisonment for a minimum of 20 years, extendable to life imprisonment, to those convicted for the offence of gang-rape, and also defines and prescribes punishment for stalking, voyeurism and sexual harassment. Smt. Chandresh Kumari Katoch, Minister of Culture, Government of India inaugurated the Tagore Centre for Global Thought at India Institute, Kings College, London on 2nd April, 2013. Smt. Katoch is currently on a 3- day visit to London. Set up as part of the Tagore Commemoration celebrating 150th Birth Anniversary of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, this Tagore Centre will enhance Tagore-related, academic intellectual and philosophic work globally. The underlying concept is to promote the study of liberal arts and

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support programmes connected with all aspects of Tagores works and showcase how the Indian thought and intellectual capability was influenced by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. The Tagore Centre has been established in partnership with the India Institute of Kings College, London by signing an agreement. The Centre will take up five core activities promoting global implications and connections of Indian thought besides promoting Tagores literary and cultural legacy. The Centre is also expected to promote research in Tagores literature and artistic works in all the areas of music, art and films. Besides promoting Tagores philosophy it is also expected to promote and support research students working on the Global Intellectual history of Indian Thought. The activities will include Tagore distinguished lectures in Global Thought, Lecture series on Tagore, Doctoral Scholarships and film series based on Tagore Stories and writings. The Tagore Centre is expected to become a vibrant Centre of excellence and an intellectual hub in the field of art and culture. It will not only promote and support research studies on Tagores thought and work in art, music, education and traditional literature but also studies in Indian Philosophy and cultural tradition, for which India is known worldwide. Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh on 3 April, said that the scheme Himayat launched in Jammu and Kashmir in 2011 is progressing well to realize the goal of providing training and jobs to one lakh youth in five year period ( 2011-12 to 2016-17). Addressing a function at Zorawar Auditorium in Jammu University, where 947 youth were given job letters, he said, over 5,000 youth had been provided jobs in various companies within and outside the State since the inception of the scheme and over 15,000 would be given training and placements during the year 2013-14. Priority will be given to youth who are school drop-outs, have studied up to 10th class or 12th class and those who are college drop-outs. As of now, 45 HIMAYAT training centres have been set up across 19 districts (out of the total 22 districts in the state). Ramesh also promised one PC Tablet each to 400 youth who have completed one year of service in various companies under Himayat. He said that the stipend of Rs. 1000 per month for two months being provided to the placed youth in various companies has been enhanced to Rs. 2000 per month for six months. The Minister informed that under Mahila Sahayta Samuh, Rs. 800 crores will be spent on socio-economic welfare of women in Jammu and Kashmir and added that the scheme Umeed has been launched keeping this in mind. The Union Government of India on 5 April 2013 sanctioned 4065.81 crore rupees for pollution abatement schemes of rivers and lakes in different states. Of all the states, Uttar Pradesh received 1385.95 crore rupees. The sanction cost of projects and expenditure includes the State Governments share under the National River Conservation Programme (NRCP) and the National Lake Conservation Programme (NLCP).National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP) started in June 2001 with a funding scheme of 70:30 fund sharing between centre and state. The main objective of the scheme is to restore and conserve the urban and semi-urban lakes of the country degraded due to waste water discharge into the lake and other unique freshwater eco systems, through an integrated ecosystem approach. National River Conservation Programme (NRCP) is the centrally sponsored Scheme implemented by the central Government jointly with the State Government on a cost-sharing basis. The pollution abatement works under NRCP presently cover identified polluted stretches of 39 major rivers in 185 towns spread over 20 States in the country. Andhra Pradesh Government on 1 April 2013 launched the AP Industrial Infrastructure Corporations online services for entrepreneurs and grievance redressal system. The platform is proposed to be a link between the APIIC and entrepreneurs which would make the process of application and registration of land for setting up industries a paperless one. The online services for entrepreneurs will enable them to file their request for sale endeavor, change in line of activity or change in the name of firm. Information about the status of their application will be sent through Email and SMS. The online grievance redressal system, Parishkaram, is a 24x7 service, facilitating entrepreneurs in tracking grievances, including infrastructure issues and maintenance of industrial parks. With this, the Minister also launched a Citizen Charter of APIIC, which is meant to provide a stipulated period of response for 13 different requests. The response include -finalization of action on valid applications for allotment of lands (within 45 days), issue of provision allotment letter (seven days), execution and registration of Agreement of Sale (21 days) and execution, registration of sale deed on receipt of documents (45 days). The corporation was in the process of setting up industrial parks in the 14 revenue divisions in the State that do not have this infrastructure. The Supreme Court of India on 1 April 2013 rejected the plea of Novartis, the Swiss drug maker, to patent the updated version of cancer drug called Glivec. A bench of justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai dismissed the patent plea to Novartis on the basis that there was no inventiveness or novelty in the new version of the drug. In its ruling, the Supreme Court of India declared that because the application for patent on beta-crystalline salt did not meet any inventiveness or novelty standard, therefore the companys plea

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for patent was dismissed. The judgement implied that patents in India would only be granted to companies that were involved in genuine inventions. Litigative patenting would be dismissed. Glivec is used for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukaemia along with certain other kinds of cancers. The cost of this drug is around 2600 US dollar per month. The generic of Glivec is equivalent to 175 US dollar in India.

May
The Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh on 23 May 2013 laid the foundation stone of the Indian National Defence University (INDU) at Binola, Gurgaon. The university is going to be an autonomous institution of national importance. The Defence University came up following the recommendation of the Review Committee constituted after the Kargil Conflict by the Government for the establishment of a University that deals exclusively with defence and strategic matters. The review committee was headed by eminent strategic expert K Subrahmanyam. INDU aims to provide knowledge based higher education for management of the defence of India to the military leadership and other concerned civilian officials. It will also keep them abreast of the emerging security challenges via scholarly Research and Training It will develop and propagate higher education in Defence Studies like Defence Management, Defence Science and Technology. It will also promote the policy with its orientation towards, research related to National Defence. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on 23 May 2013 approved the proposal of Department of AIDS Control, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare for the implementation of National AIDS Control Support Project (NACSP) under the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP). The amount for this would be 2550 crore Rupees. The Government of India as well as the World Bank will finance the NACP in equal proportions. The main objective of the project is increasing the safe behavior among high risk groups in pursuance of the national goal of accelerated reversal of the HIV epidemic by 2017. The focus of the activities of this project would be on strengthening as well as scaling up prevention interventions and related BCC strategies for sub-groups of population identified to be most-atrisk by the NACP. These vulnerable groups include Injecting Drug Users (IDU), Transgender (TG), Female Sex Workers (FSW) and Men who have sex with Men (MSM). The aim of the project is also to support the planned expansion and consolidation of tailored interventions for other at-risk populations which include migrant workers and truckers. National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) in its third phase (2007-2012) saw remarkable success in controlling spread of HIV. As a result, India is on its track to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for HIV prevention and control. Over past 10 years, there has been reduction of 57 percent in the new HIV infections and 29 percent reduction in AIDS-related deaths. The Election Commission of India and the National Literacy Mission Authority, Ministry of Human Resource Development, on 21 May 2013 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Electoral Literacy and Greater Participation for a Stronger and Inclusive Democracy in New Delhi. The MOU is the first ever by the Election Commission of India with a Government Department. Under the MoU, ECI and NLMA will work jointly to sensitize citizens, especially the vulnerable and disadvantaged including women, SCs, STs, Minorities, in NLMA covered districts, about their electoral rights and about exercise of franchise. Electoral Literacy will form part of curriculum for adult Literacy and Basic education. NLMA will spread electoral literacy during its environment Building and mass mobilization campaigns, with specific focus on electoral registration and informed and ethical voting in co-ordination with the Election Commission. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was re-elected to the Rajya Sabha from Assam for the fifth consecutive time on 30th May, 2013. Another Congress nominee, Santiuse Kujur, also won the second Rajya Sabha seat from the State, polling for which took place in the Assembly. Dr. Singh polled 49 first preference votes and Mr. Kujur 45 first preference votes. All India United Democratic Front nominee Aminul Islam polled 18 votes. Nine legislators of the Asom Gana Parishad and five BJP MLAs in the 126member House abstained from voting. The first all-women post office (Mahila Dak Ghar) in Andhra Pradesh has come up in Visakhapatnam on 1st June. The post office in MVP Colony area was inaugurated by Union Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology, Killi Kruparani. Speaking on the occasion, she said the initiative was part of the UPA Government's focus on women empowerment, safety and gender equality. "Four all-women post offices will be soon opened at Narayanaguda, Vivekanandanagar, Andhra Mahila Sabha and Vidyanagar in Hyderabad, the Minister said. Hyderabad's main post office in Shamsabad

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will soon have an Automated Mail Processing Centre. Once the centre becomes operational, no documentation will be required with respect to sorting, dispatching and delivering of mails, the Minister said. The HRD Ministry on 30 May has constituted a seven-member Task Force under former IIT Kanpur Director Sanjay Dhande to set up a national testing agency for conducting various kinds of nationallevel exams. It will prepare a blue print for creating a special purpose vehicle to take the concept of National Testing Agency (NTA) forward. The Central Advisory Board for Education (CABE), the highest decision-making body on education, had earlier endorsed the proposal, as the move would relieve different bodies such as the UGC and the IIT from the responsibility of holding national-level tests. Higher Education Secretary Ashok Thakur had said the proposed agency might be formed through an executive order and not set up as a statutory body through an Act of Parliament. According to a Ministry statement, the rationale for setting up the body lies in ensuring that a multiplicity of entrance examinations, leading to stress on the students, is addressed in a comprehensive manner by formulating a uniform entrance examination for admissions in different branches of higher learning. The ISRO Navigation Centre (INC), established at Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) complex at Byalalu, about 40 km from Bangalore, was inaugurated on May 28, 2013 by Mr. V. Narayanasamy, Minister of State in the Prime Ministers Office, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions. INC is an important element of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), an independent navigation satellite system being developed by India. IRNSS will have a constellation of seven satellites and enables its users to determine their location and time accurately. These satellites will positioned in geostationary and inclined geosynchronous orbits 36,000 km above the earths surface. IRNSS coverage will extend over India and its neighborhood and the satellites are equipped with high precision atomic clocks and continuously transmit navigation signals to users. As the focal point of many critical operations of IRNSS, ISRO Navigation Centre is responsible for providing the time reference, generation of navigation messages and monitoring and control of ground facilities including ranging stations of IRNSS. It hosts several key technical facilities for supporting various navigation functions. IRNSS will have a network of twenty one ranging stations geographically distributed primarily across India. They provide data for the orbit determination of IRNSS satellites and monitoring of the navigation signals. The data from the ranging/monitoring stations is sent to the data processing facility at INC where it is processed to generate the navigation messages. The navigation messages are then transmitted from INC to IRNSS satellites through the spacecraft control facility at Hassan/Bhopal. The state of the art data processing and storage facilities at INC enable swift processing of data and support its systematic storage. The Annual Plan for the year 2013-14 for the state of Andhra Pradesh was finalized in New Delhi on 30 May, at a meeting between Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Mr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, N.Kiran Kumar Reddy. The plan size has been agreed at Rs. 53,000crore. Mr Ahluwalia complemented the State Government for efforts to make development truly inclusive and also for the efforts aimed at promoting public private partnership in the development of both social and physical infrastructure. He said better involvement of private sector would be needed during 12th plan period as State funds would not be enough to meet the needs of infrastructure development. He said the State Governments should come forward with the suggestions that can improve efficiency of flagship schemes and commission would consider them while finalizing plan document. It was pointed out that in the 11th plan outlay for Andhra Pradesh was approved at Rs. 1,87,797 crore of which it has achieved Rs. 1,61,756 crore, i.e. 86% of the approved outlay. The 12th Five Year Plan of the State has targeted plan outlay is Rs. 3,42,842 crore of which Rs. 48,935 crore was approved for 2012-13.The GSDP growth of the State is more than the national level growth rate and the sectoral growth rates also places the state above the national growth rates. In terms of mobilization of resources, Balance from Current Revenue (BCR) has remained positive at about 43% of the aggregate plan resources, with States Own Resources (SOR) contributing about 50% of aggregate resources during the 11th Five Year Plan. In 2012-13, BCR (Latest estimates) account for 40% of the aggregate resources and SOR is 40% of the aggregate resources. Tax-GSDP ratio for Andhra Pradesh has improved to about 8.5% of GSDP in 2012-13 as compared to 7.9% of GSDP in 2007-08. The State is revenue surplus, and fiscal deficit is within a comfortable level of 3%. Planning Commission expressed concern over the slow progress in the literacy rate and pointed out that as per Census 2011, the States

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literacy rate is 67.6% with male literacy at 75.6% and female literacy at 59.74%. The States literacy rate is much lower than the national average of 74.0%. IRCTC website will start booking 7,200 tickets per minute soon. With the aim of bridging the gap between demand and supply in e-ticketing category, IRCTC spelt out its grand plan to book 7,200 etickets per minute in the current fiscal. This strengthening process of the ticketing site will cost Railways about Rs. 100 crore, said a statement from the Ministry on May 27, 2013. Currently, the ticketing site of the IRCTC can handle about 1.2 lakh concurrent connections and book about 2,000 tickets per minute. The upgrading of website is a continuous process as an average booking per day has been increased from 3.67 lakh in 2012 to 4.15 lakh now. There are about 31 crore reserve tickets being booked in a year out of which 55 percent tickets are sold through windows. While 37 percent tickets are booked online, eight percent are being booked by ticketing agents. The Indian telecom sector became the second largest telephone network in the world, after China by registering exceptional growth during last nine years. The reasons for growth of telecom sector including the sectoral reforms initiated by the Union Government, active participation of the private sector and development of wireless technology. In case of mobile penetration, the progress is must steeper. By on 31 March 2012, the wireless telephones reached to 96.74 percent from 96.62 percent by June end 2012. The share of landline phones increased from 3.38 percent to 3.44 percent between April and December 2012.. The wireless subscriber base also increased from 33.6 million in March 2004 to 864.72 million till December 2012. The average tariff for every outgoing call per minute for GSM services went down from Rs. 2.89 in March 2004 to 47 paisa in December 2012. Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA), operated by GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL), has been accorded 5-star rating by the British Safety Council for its health & safety management system. The BSC 5-star rating is a significant safety award globally and RGIA is the only Airport in the whole world to receive this coveted award. The achievement clearly demonstrates RGIAs commitment towards health and safety of its employees, passengers, and the entire airport community; and I thank all for their contribution, said S.G.K. Kishore, CEO, GHIAL. The award criterion is very stringent. There are 995 safety compliance requirements for the health and safety management system covering 57 elements. In order to get a 5-Star rating, a minimum of 92 per cent has to be obtained out of a total score of 5000, and RGIA scored 96 per cent. The Union Government on 16 May 2013 revised the criteria for creamy layer of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) from Rs. 4.5 lakh to Rs. 6 lakh to avail benefits of reservations in government jobs and admissions to central educational institutions. The decision came up in a view to increase the income limits in tune with the increase of the consumer price index. This would enable more people to take an advantage of reservation benefits that are extended to OBCs. Creamy layer is the income limit beyond which OBCs are not eligible for quotas. Government of India decided to launch Direct Benefit Transfer for LPG (DBTL) Scheme in 20 high Aadhaar coverage districts from 1 June 2013. The scheme aims to curb leakages and prevent blackmarketing and provide subsidy to consumers in their bank accounts. All LPG consumers are advised to immediately do the following to avail of subsidy in their bank accounts. For the benefit of LPG consumers, who cannot complete formalities by 1 June 2013, a grace period of three months is being given to complete the formalities. After this period, all consumers who have not completed the formality will get LPG cylinders at market price, without any subsidy, till they complete the same.

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Siddaramaiah, the leader of the Indian National Congress on 11 May 2013 was sworn in as the 22nd chief minister of the state of Karnataka. 64 years old Siddaramaiah was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor HR Bhardwaj at Sree Kanteerava stadium. Under Siddaramaiah leadership, the Congress in Karnataka won 121 seats in the 225-member Assembly for which election was held on 5 May and voted counted on 8 May. The Congress last ruled the state on its own in 1999-2004. The Union Government on 15 May 2013 had set up an Expert Committee under the supervision Raghuram G Rajan, Chief Economic Adviser to evolve a composite index to measure backwardness of states. The panel is set up in consistent to the Budget announcement, and it can also invite other experts as Special Invitees for discussions. The decision was taken amid demands for special category status by Bihar. The backwardness of the States will be consider in terms of measures like distance of the State from the national average under criteria such as per capita income and other human development indicators and for evolving a Composite Development Index of States. The Committee is supposed to submit its report within 60 days. The other members of the committee are Shaibal Gupta, Bharat Ramaswami, Najeeb Jung, Nirija G Jayal and Tuhin Pandey. It is important here to note that the present criteria for determining backwardness are based on terrain, density of population and length of international borders. Indian National Defence University, a first-of-its-kind institution for training and research in military studies, will be set up near Gurgaon in Haryana. The location is close to the national capital. The foundation stone of INDU, to be constituted under an Act of Parliament, will be laid by Prime Minister on May 23, Deputy Commissioner P C Meena said on 19 May. The proposed institute will be equipped with training and research facilities on all aspects of national security as part of the strategic national policymaking. While one-third of its strength will comprise of civilian students, the remaining seats will be reserved for in-service defence personnel. The sprawling 200 acre campus will be set up in Binola village with an estimated cost of Rs 300 crore, Meena said, adding, land for the purpose has already been acquired by the state government. The Union Cabinet of India on 16 May 2013 approved the establishment of the Gandhi Heritage Sites Mission. The objective behind this approval is to conserve and restore the heritage sites associated with the Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation. Gandhi Heritage Sites Mission will be assigned with the identification, collation and assessment of the information on Gandhi Heritage material, its management and deployment. The mission will also be responsible for identifying the conservation methodology as well as the priorities for documents and objects, with its point of view of archival storage and museology and for physical structures and sites, as also guidelines for their subsequent maintenance. The mission will also preserve the 2000 important sites identified by the panel that was chaired by Gopalkrishna Gandhi, exGovernor of West Bengal along with the other 39 core sites. Kapil Sibal takes charge as Law Minister New Delhi: Kapil Sibal on 13th May assumed the charge of the Union Law Ministry, taking over from Ashwani Kumar who resigned last week after he came under attack in the Supreme Court for vetting the CBI report on the allocation of coal blocks. Sibal will hold additional charge of law along with the communications and information technology ministry. Ashwani Kumar resigned on 10th May. Govt forms GoM to insulate CBI from external influence New Delhi: In response to the Supreme Court's scathing observations on autonomy of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Union Government formed a Group of Ministers (GoM) to draft a law to insulate the investigating agency from external influence, here on 14th May. The GoM, headed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, has External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, Communications and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari and Minister of State for Personnel V. Narayanasamy as members, official sources said. CBI Director Ranjit Sinha will also give his input to the newly-constituted GoM. The GoM will deliberate on ways to shield CBI from outside interferences and strengthen its autonomy. The government's move came after the Supreme Court reprimand to the government for making CBI "a caged parrot" of its political masters, while hearing a case related to alleged irregularities in Coal Blocks Allocation Scam. The Union Cabinet of India on 9 May decided to declare the year 2013 as Water Conservation Year. Following the theme of the year, the Government has proposed to conduct several mass awareness activities to sensitize masses on water issues and to encourage water conservation among them. The national

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awareness programs launched by the Government will aim towards achieving the identified objectives of the National Water Policy 2012 and National Water Mission. National Water Policy 2012 was adopted by the National Water Resources Council headed by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 28 December 2012. The Policy takes cognizance of the existing situation and proposes a framework for creation of a system of laws and institutions and a plan of action with a unified national perspective. Meira Kumar, the Speaker of Lok Sabha unveiled the statue of former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Founder of Telugu Desam Party N. T. Rama Rao in the Parliament on 7 May 2013. N. T. Rama Rao who is popularly known as NTR was born on 28 May 1923 and died on 18 January 1996. He was a film actor, director and producer by profession and his debut film was Mana Desam, which was directed by L. V. Prasad in 1949. He starred in about 320 Telugu Films. In 1982, he founded the Telugu Desam Party. He served Andhra Pradesh as its Chief Minister for three terms between 1983 and 1995. He was instrumental in formation of the National Front Government in 1989, which was a coalition of nonCongress parties and lasted in power for two years. The statue was donated by NTRs daughter and Minister of State for Commerce and Industry D. Purandeswari. Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Law Minister Ashwani Kumar submitted their resignation to the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh on 10 May 2013. P.K. Bansal resigned from his office after a weeks time since his nephew Vijay Singla was arrested for his alleged involvement of bribery of 90 lakh rupees from the Railway Board Member, with a promise of promotion. Ashwani Kumar resigned as the CBI revealed to the Supreme Court about his scandalous role in tweaking its Report on the Coal Block allocation scam. Sahara India Pariwar created a new Guinness World Record on 6 May 2013 when its 121653 staff and workers sang Indias national anthem Jana Gana Mana in union at Lucknow, UP. Hitherto, the world record in this category has been held by Pakistan where a crowd of 42813 sang national anthem in a group at one place. Apart from this, Sahara India Pariwar had also attempted the record of more than one million employees singing the national anthem in one uniform at 4512 Sahara offices across the country. The representatives of Guinness World Record witnessed the moment and confirmed the world record. Subrata Roy Sahara, the Chairman of Sahara India Pariwar was conferred with the certificate by officials of Guinness Book of World Records. The Supreme Court has cleared the decks for the commissioning of the Kudankulam nuclear plant on 6 may. A bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra, in concurring judgments, however, made it clear that the plant should not be made operational unless the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) gave their final clearances. The Bench said we have to balance economic scientific benefits with that of minor radiological detriments on the touchstone of our national nuclear policy. Economic benefit has to be viewed on a larger canvas which not only augments our economic growth but alleviates poverty and generates more employment. NPCIL, while setting up the NPP at Kudankulam, have satisfied the environmental principle. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between National Commission of Women (NCW) and the Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd. (HUDCO) in the presence of the Minister of Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath and the Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Ajay Maken. The MOU was signed by V. P. Baligar, IAS, Chairman & Managing Director (HUDCO) and Smt. K. Ratna Prabha, IAS, Member Secretary, National Commission for Women (NCW) in New Delhi on 7 May. This understanding forms part of the CSR of HUDCO. The focus will be on providing better amenities of housing and other facilities such as drinking water, sanitation, electricity etc to poor and destitute women. This, the Minister noted, is a good start and one which will provide encouragement and incentive to other corporate house and Navratanas to come forward and spend in activities which have a wider and more meaningful social outcomes. The NCW and HUDCO have entered into this MoU to improve the living conditions of destitute women on the identified areas for facilities like women hostels, remand homes or anything that is pertinent to women welfare or development by enhancing the quality of their habitats. HUDCO and NCW shall cooperate in the areas of re-construction of existing structures where women in distress are housed, providing for living quarters, kitchens and toilets, construction of living quarters, kitchens and toilets in pre-identified sites, providing support in design of the building, monitoring the progress of each project and any other activity which is mutually considered important/relevant by the HUDCO and NCW in connection with the above

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agreed activities. Under the executed MoU, NCW shall identify the areas where the activity/project has to be undertaken as per the vulnerability/need based address the Government organization concerned with the desired development area and urge it to formulate a suitable proposal for the purpose along with identification of a suitable implementing agency and HUDCO shall provide financial assistance for implementation of these projects along with technical advice, if required. Also present during the signing were the Chairperson of NCW, Smt. Mamta Sharma and senior officers from the Ministries. The Minister for Women & Child Development, Krishna Tirath on 9 May 2013 launched the World Bank assisted ICDS Systems strengthening and Nutrition Improvement Project (ISSNIP). The aim of the programme is improvement of child development and nutritional outcomes for children in selected districts having higher proportional of child under nutrition. The project is worth Rs. 2893 crore with 70 percent IDA share of Rs. 2025 crore over the time duration of 7 years. The cost of phase-I of the project is estimated to be around Rs. 682 crore. The project received an initial support of US $ 106 million from theWorld Bank, which is payable over the time of 25 years. This will be followed by the support for second phase of US $ 344 million, which will be subject to assessment of phase-I. Salient features of ISSNIP: ISSNIP is designed to supplement and provide value addition on the existing ICDS programme, through systems strengthening for better service delivery, as well as to allow the selected states and districts to experiment, innovate and conduct pilots of potentially more effective approaches for ICDS in order to achieve early childhood education and nutrition outcomes. The additional support through the project is catalytic and is an important dimension of MWCDs overall efforts to strengthen and restructure the ICDS programme. Four major components of the project are: (i) institutional and systems strengthening in ICDS (ii) community mobilization and behaviour change communication (iii) piloting multi-sectoral nutrition actions, and (iv) Project Management, Technical Assistance and Monitoring & Evaluation. The Tamil Nadu government on 8 May banned production, possession, distribution and sale of tobacco products such as pan masala and gutkha in the state. Some states, including Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, have already banned sale of pan masala and gutkha. Making a suo motu statement in the Assembly, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa referred to Supreme Court's remarks in a case pending before it, seeking to know the action taken by state governments in controlling usage of tobacco and announced the government's decision. She also referred to her government's notification on November 19, 2011, to ban the use of tobacco under the Prevention K. Siddaramaiah is the new Chief Minister of Karnataka. He was elected for the post by 75 of 121 Congress MLAs, who voted in secret ballot election here on 10th May, 2013. The new CM-elect, who was invited by the Governor H. Bhardwaj to form the government is expected to call on him to apprise about his preparations to form the government. Mr Siddaramaiah is a backward caste leader from the Kuruba community with a big support base, especially in the Old Mysore region in the south. He has been Opposition leader and was among those who scripted the Congress' successful campaign. He is a five-time MLA and represents the Varuna constituency in Mysore district. Once part of the Janata Dal (Secular) and a Deve Gowda protege, Mr Siddaramaiah has been a Congressman for only about six years. A central Congress team headed by Defence Minister A.K. Antony oversaw this election. The Union Cabinet on 1 May, has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Railways for setting up of an Electric Locomotive Factory at Madhepura, Bihar and a Diesel Locomotive Factory at Marhowra, Bihar, to start afresh the bidding processes for these projects. Estimated costs for setting up the Electric Locomotive Factory and Diesel Locomotive Factory, as approved by CCEA and included in the Railway Budget are Rs. 1293.57 crore and Rs. 2052.58 crore respectively, with limited equity contribution by Ministry of Railways. Over a ten-year period, the factories will provide Indian Railways with 800 electric locomotives of 12,000 horse power (h.p.) each and a mix of 1,000 diesel locomotives of 4,500 and 6,000 h.p. with high level performance guarantees similar to international practices.

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The Union Cabinet on 1 May gave its approval to launch a National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) as a new sub-mission under the over-arching National Health Mission (NHM). Under the Scheme, the following proposals have been approved: 1. One Urban Primary Health Centre (U-PHC) for every fifty to sixty thousand population. 2. One Urban Community Health Centre (U-CHC) for five to six U-PHCs in big cities. 3. One Auxiliary Nursing Midwives (ANM) for 10,000 population. 4. One Accredited Social Health Activist ASHA (community link worker) for 200 to 500 households.

The estimated cost of NUHM for 5 years period is Rs.22, 507 crore with the Central Government share of Rs.16, 955 crore. Centre-State funding pattern will be 75:25 except for North Eastern states and other special category states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand for whom the funding pattern will be 90:10.The scheme will focus on primary health care needs of the urban poor. This Mission will be implemented in 779 cities and towns with more than 50,000 population and cover about 7.75 crore people. NUHM aims to improve the health status of the urban population in general, particularly the poor and other disadvantaged sections by facilitating equitable access to quality health care, through a revamped primary public health care system, targeted outreach services and involvement of the community and urban local bodies. The Union Cabinet in its meeting held in April 2012 has already approved the continuation of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and the other sub-mission under NHM till 31.3.2017. The Expert Committee on Leveraging Panchayat Raj Institutions for the more efficient delivery of public good and services on 4 May called on the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan and made a presentation on the contents of its 20th anniversary Report. The Committee was constituted by the Union Ministry of Panchayati Raj on August 27, 2012 under the chairmanship of Mani Shankar Aiyar. Other members of Committee who called on the President included Peelipose Thomas, Manabendra Nath Roy and Member Secretary M.V. Rao. The Committee has in its recommendations said that there is a need to constitute a National Panchayat Commission to oversee the cooperative effort of the Centre and States to strengthen Panchayati Raj. The Committee also said that there is a need to provide for District Councils through an appropriate amendment of the Constitution as a single local government at the district level for better urban-rural convergence and equal treatment of urban and rural people. Vice President of India inaugurated the International Centre for Environment Audit & Sustainable Development at Jaipur on 4 May. The Vice President of India M. Hamid Ansari has said that India has been active in international forums relating to environmental protection, and is party to 94 multilaterals environmental agreements such as the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), among many others. We have signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and acceded to the Kyoto Protocol in 2002. Addressing at the inaugural function of the International Centre for Environment Audit and Sustainable Development (ICED) organized by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) at Jaipur (Rajasthan) on 4 May, he said that despite not having binding mitigation commitments as per the UNFCCC, India has communicated its voluntary mitigation goal of reducing the emissions intensity of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025 per cent, over 2005 levels, by 2020. He released a Special Cover on ICED brought out by Department of Posts and visited an Exhibition on ICED on the occasion. The Vice President said that the CAG has a very important role to play in this regard - not only to comment on effectiveness of rules, regulations and programmes for conserving the environment but also has to offer concrete recommendations to the executive for improving environmental governance. He said that the CAG is already an important member of the Steering Committee of the International Organization of Supreme Audit institutions, and of its Working Group on Environment Audit. The creation of this Centre here, and its emphasis on research to upgrade knowledge and skills, will further strengthen Indias role in this important body. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) under the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh approved 11000 crore Rupees project on 1 May 2013 for modernization of central paramilitary forces. These forces include ITBP as well, which is responsible for guarding the Sino-Indian border. The approval will be implemented in five years duration, beginning 2013-14 fiscal years. The approval of the project is followed by altercation along Sino-Indian border in Ladakh. The approval will also benefit Border

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Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), National Security Guard (NSG), Assam Rifles and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). Modernization will make sure that all these forces get better night vision devices, arms, vehicles, patrolling equipment and ammunition along with infrastructural upgrade. The Supreme Court of India directed that the Kudankulam nuclear plant situated in Tamil Nadu could start its operations now. A bench of Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra issued the directions to the government on safety as well as security of the plant, along with its operations. The Supreme Court directed Nuclear Power Corporation of India and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board to ensure that all steps were taken for the safety of the nuclear plant. The Apex Court explained that the Kudankulam nuclear plant was absolutely safe and secure and that it was necessary to start its operations for economic growth as well as welfare of India. In 2012, the fishermen as well as villagers protested against the fuelling of this plant. Opponents of this plant, People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) complained that it was situated in the area which was affected badly by 2004 Asian tsunami and that there was a fear of disaster like that of Fukushima nuclear plant of Japan in 2011. The Kudankulam nuclear plant is among those plants which is a part of Indias aim of generating 63000 MW of nuclear power by 2032. Even as it acknowledges India as the world's most populous democracy, the Economist magazine's Index of Democracy 2012 ranks India 38th among 165 nations with an overall score of 7.52. India also gets high scores for electoral process and pluralism (9.58) and Civil liberties (9.41). The top three positions go to Norway (9.93) Sweden (9.73) and Iceland 9.65, while the United States is ranked 21st with an overall score of 8.11 in the fifth edition of the Index prepared by the London weekly focusing on international politics and business. Noting the wide disparities in democratic development across Asia, the report says "although parts of the region - from North Korea and Laos, to Vietnam and China - are still entrenched authoritarian regimes, the past couple of decades have seen the spread of democracy in the region overall." Over the past decade, some 20 Asian countries have held elections, and many have undergone peaceful transitions in government. "Despite its problems, India remains the world's most populous democracy," the report said noting. "Yet even in the democratic countries, there are often significant problems in the functioning of political systems." "The US and the UK remain at the bottom end of the full democracy category," the report said. "The US democracy has been adversely affected by a deepening of the polarization of the political scene and political brinkmanship and paralysis. The UK is beset by a deep institutional crisis." "The unprecedented rise of movements for democratic change across the Arab world led many to expect a new wave of democratization," it said. "But it has become apparent that democracy in the region remains a highly uncertain prospect." Popular confidence in political institutions continues to decline in many European countries, it said noting in Eastern Europe democracy declined in 10 countries in 2012. Andhra Pradesh government is planning to set up a State Disaster Response Force on the lines of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), which will be stationed at Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam and Tirupati. "Discussions are on and a meeting has been convened with the Chief Secretary on forming the SDRF. The proposed SDRF will have separate force, which will be set up at Hyderabad, Tirupati and Visakhapatnam centres," Disaster Management Commissioner T Radha said. "The SDRF is likely to have 120 personnel. New persons will be recruited for the force and discussions for allotting/ identifying land for the proposed SDRF centers in these three major cities of Andhra Pradesh are still being worked out," he said. According to the Disaster Management officials, SDRF personnel will be trained and provided with equipment by NDRF to effectively deal with natural and man-made disasters."There was a need felt to establish SDRF centers at Hyderabad as it is the state capital, Tirupati due to pilgrimage rush and at Visakhapatnam, which is having port and several The Union Government of India on 3 May 2013 revised the production estimates of the food grains upwards by 5.22 million tones for 2012-13, over earlier expectation of 254.24 million tones due to the higher output of wheat, rice and coarse cereals. With this revision, the total cereal output estimation has gone up to 255.36 million tones. The wheat and rice production pegged at 93.62 million tones and 104.22 million tones respectively. The earlier estimate set for the food grains for the year was 254.24 million tones. The third advance estimate that was officially released on 3 May 2013 estimated that the total food grain production for the year will be lower by 3.96 million tones from the previous year 2011-12 record production of 259.24 million tones. As the total output for wheat and rice in 2011-12 were 94.98 million tones and 105.31 million tones respectively. While for 2012-13, it is estimated to be 93.62 million tones and 104.22 million tones respectively. Delayed monsoon and drought in different parts of states like

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Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan had an impact on the production of pulses and coarse cereal during Kharif season.

June
Union health ministrys ambitious schemes of providing free generic drugs at government health care centres have been launched on 17th June, after being put on hold last year due to financial constraints. The initiatives, called 'Free Drug Service' and 'Free Diagnostics Service' under the National Health Mission, are aimed at sprucing up health care facilities in the country. The Health Ministry has written to the states to take advantage of this scheme under which they can access funds from the central government by following certain guidelines laid down by it. The guidelines include appropriate systems for procurement, logistics, and quality assurance, among others. The scheme was one of the government's keystone projects of the 12th Five Year Plan. Almost 33% people suffer from poverty due to their medical expenditures," an official said. The directions for accessing the funds make it mandatory for a state to have a clearly notified policy of providing free essential drugs and diagnostics to all patients coming to public sector facilities at least up to district hospital level. The state should have a robust procurement, logistics and supply chain system that is backed by Information technology. The state should have adopted Standard Treatment Guidelines and provide for prescription audits to ensure rational use of drugs and it should name the initiative as 'National Health Mission-Free Drug Service' or 'National Health Mission-Free Diagnostic Service' or its translation in Hindi or regional language. The free generic drugs scheme was proposed after a 2011 report of the High Level Expert Group which stated that 76% of the out-of-pocket expenditure on health is on drugs. The Union government on 26 June 2013 has banned three major medicinesthe widely prescribed anti-diabetes drug pioglitazone, painkiller analgin and anti-depressant deanxit. The decision to ban the drug was taken in wake of health risks associated with them. It was taken after strong stand by the government on suspending marketing of all drugs prohibited for sale in other countries like the US, the UK, EU and Australia. Pioglitazone is widely believed to cause heart failure and increases the risk of bladder cancer, analgin has been discarded the world over on grounds of patient safety. Deanxit is made up of harmful combination, which has been long banned even in Denmark, its country of origin. Analgin is known to cause a steep decrease in the count of white blood cells, which can lead to a potentially fatal state. The drug was thus taken off the shelves in many countries including Sweden, Japan, France, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Earlier in year 2010-11 Drug Controller General had banned various drugs which include painkiller Nimesulide, anti-diabetes medicine Rosiglitazone and antibiotic Gaifloxacin. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 28 June, approved the proposal of the Department of Health Research under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for the setting up of 10 regional labs, 30 State level labs and 120 medical college level labs under the scheme for establishing a network of laboratories for managing epidemics and natural calamities. The scheme is estimated to cost Rs. 646.83 crore during the 12th Five Year Plan. The expenditure on the establishment of the labs at the State level and at medical colleges would be shared between the Central Government and State Governments in the ratio of 75:25 (90:10 in North-Eastern, Hill States, including Sikkim and Jammu and Kashmir). Expenditure on the regional labs would be fully borne by the Central Government. This major initiative taken by the Government for establishment of a 3-tier network of laboratories across the country will greatly help in building capacity for handling viral diseases in terms of early and timely diagnosis, development of tools to predict viral disease outbreaks beforehand, continuous monitoring and surveillance of existing as well as new viral strains and handling viruses with a potential to be used as agents of bio-terrorism. The initiative shall also help in smooth data flow from across sites of epidemics, creation of efficient knowledge management network for policy interventions such as quick deployment of resources and measures like introduction of preventive strategies, new vaccines, etc. Currently only national apex

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institutes like NCDC, New Delhi and NIV, Pune are mandated to undertake investigations. This leads to creating a heavy burden and affect their real referral role. The resultant delay in diagnosis/detection and inadequate/incomplete data during outbreaks significantly impacts on response time for interventions. All the laboratories will work under the overall guidance of apex institutions like NIV and NCDC through appropriate linkages and networking. The States/UTs which do not currently have any government medical colleges will be linked with the nearby State's laboratories. In recognition of the contributions by Late Prof. Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis in the fields of economic planning and statistical development, the Government of India has designated 29th June every year, coinciding with his birth anniversary, as the Statistics Day in the category of Special Day to be celebrated at the national level. The objective of this Day is to create public awareness, specially the younger generation for drawing inspirations from Late Prof. Mahalanobis about the role of statistics in socio-economic planning and policy formulation. The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has been celebrating the Statistics Day every year since 2007. The theme for the Statistics Day 2013 is Labour and Employment Statistics. The Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh dedicated the newly constructed railway line between Banihal (Jammu region)-Qazigund (Kashmir valley) section to the nation by flagging off the first DEMU train from Banihal through the Pir Panjal tunnel- the longest transportation tunnel of India, from Banihal Railway station in Jammu & Kashmir on 26 June. Ircon International Ltd., a PSU under the Ministry of Railways, has been the principal executing agency for Northern Railway to execute the work of Dharam-Qazigund Section of USBRL Project which includes Banihal-Qazigund section and Pir Panjal Tunnel.The Kashmir Valley railway (Qazigund-Baramulla section) is a 119 km long modern railway line that became completely operational in October 2009. So far it is an island railway, not yet connected to the Indian Railway network. It connects Baramula in the western part of Kashmir to Qazigund at the other end of the Valley, via Srinagar. With this challenging project which is dedicated to the nation, the extension of this railway line beyond the Pir Panjal Mountains in to the Jammu region has been achieved with trains running on the new railway section of QazigundBanihal. The 17.7 km long rail link paves way for the future railway connectivity of Kashmir region with the national railway network.This section mostly consists of a 11.2 km long, Tunnel T-80 which pierces through the Pir Panjal range, providing a direct rail connection between the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region. Government has set up an investment target of Rs. 1.15 lakh crore for Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects in infrastructure sector in the next six months. The proposals include Mumbai elevated rail corridor of Rs. 30,000 crore and two international airports in Bhubneswar and Imphal and power and Transmission projects. A steering group is also being set up to monitor the award and implementation of infrastructure projects. The decisions were taken at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh with key infrastructure Ministers in New Delhi on 29 June. The meeting was convened to finalize the infrastructure targets for the current financial year. According to an official release, Government has also decided to put in place new policies for ramping up coal production in the country. The Prime Minister also set the target to build eight Greenfield Airports in PPP mode this year. An Inter-Ministerial Group will be formed to work out a creative financing-cum-implementation mechanism in two months for clearing the large backlog of sanctioned projects of over two lakh crores rupees in a time-bound manner. The flagship projects of railways, including the two Loco Manufacturing Projects, Elevated Rail Corridor, the Dedicated Freight Corridor and station redevelopment will be closely monitored for awarding the contract in the next six months. The Power Ministry has been asked to work with Planning Commission and Finance Ministry to resolve remaining issues in the power sector and improve generation and transmission capacity. The award of road projects should get expedited with focused attention on Expressways. The two new PPP ports at Sagar in West Bengal and Durgarajapatnam in Andhra Pradesh approved by Cabinet will be awarded.

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The Union Cabinet on 28 June, gave its approval to the proposal of signing of a headquarters agreement between the Ministry of External Affairs and Nalanda University. This agreement would confer on the University and members of its academic staff privileges and immunities considered necessary to provide an overall framework for the efficient functioning and operation of the University, and allow it to obtain talent from across the globe. The Agreement will come into force immediately upon signing and notification. The signing of the headquarters agreement will facilitate hiring of the best academicians from across the world, well before the commencement of the first academic session. Recruitment of the Universitys faculty cannot take place without fixing their terms and conditions, for which the conclusion of the headquarters agreement is essential. The University will serve as an international centre of excellence in higher learning. It would integrate modern, scientific and technological knowledge and skills with basic human values and promote universal friendship, peace and prosperity through the spiritual awakening of the individual and society. At the 4th East Asia Summit (EAS) held in Thailand in October, 2009, member States issued a Joint Press Statement which supported the establishment of Nalanda University as a non-State, non-profit, secular and selfgoverning international institution with a continental focus, that would bring together the brightest and most dedicated students from all countries of Asia. UNESCO has recognized an ancient Jain manuscript Shantinatha Charitra as one of the rarest documents in the world and has registered it in its Register as Heritage Documentary. Shantinatha Charitra is a text in Sanskrit written in Devanagari script. It describes the life and times of Shantinatha, the 16th Jain Tirthankara. This work was composed and written in the late fourteenth century 1396 C.E. (1453 Vikram Samvat). This unique manuscript contains as many as 10 images of scenes from the life of Shantinatha in the style of Jain paintings from Gujarat. UNESCOs Memory of the World Programme is an international initiative launched to safeguard the documentary heritage of humanity against collective amnesia, neglect, the ravages of time and climatic conditions, and willful and deliberate destruction. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has constituted a Committee to finalize modalities for media campaign against indecent portray of women in mass media. The Committee will be headed by Additional Secretary, M/o WCD, Smt. K. Ratna Prabha. The terms of reference of the Committee are as follows:- 1)Finalize modalities of a media campaign, through print and electronic media, to instill a sense of respect for women in all spheres of life. 2) Suggest innovative campaign/ strategy to project women in a more positive, proactive and empowered manner, which can have maximum impact on the society and bring about an attitudinal/ behavioral change of people towards women. 3)Draw up national campaign to sensitize families regarding the values of girls, through depicting women achievers, abhor civil practices like female foeticide, dowry, child marriages, etc. 4)Identify areas of corporation between M/o WCD and M/O I&B on all such issues that demand sustained public interest campaigns in print, electronic as well as social media. Unemployment rate in India has increased. It is 2% in rural areas and 3% in urban India. The unemployment rate per 1,000 population is at 27, while it was 25 two years ago. As on January 1, 2010, the number of unemployed was 9.8 million. By January 1, 2012, it has increased to 10.8 million.--In rural areas, the unemployment rate for both male and female is almost at the same level, 2%. But, in, urban areas, women are more unemployed than men. The rate is 5% for women and 2% for men. These are some findings of the 68th Round Survey by the National Sample Survey Office ( NSSO), ministry of statistics and programme implementation, which was released on23 June. India has witnessed a work force (activity status determined on the basis of reference period of one year) growth of 13.9 million in just two years, between 2010 and 2012.As per the NSS 66 th round survey, as on January 2010, the workforce at the all-India level, was about 459 million (rural men - 231.9, rural women - 104.5; urban men - 99.8 million and urban women - 22.8 million) . As on January 2012 (present survey), it has increased to 472.9 millions (rural men - 234.6, rural women - 101.8 million; urban men -- 109.2 million and urban women - 27.3 million). The current workforce at the all-India level is 47.2 crore. More than half the population (52%) is selfemployed, while 18% work as regular wage/salaried employees and 30% as casual laborers. More people are self-employed (56%) and work as casual laborers (35%) in rural India. In Urban India, it is the

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waged/salaried (43%) who constitute a majority. They are followed by the self-employed (42%) and casual laborers (15%). Nearly half the population (49%) is engaged in agriculture, while 24% are working in secondary sector and 27% in tertiary sector. In India, women are more self-employed than men.The share of self-employment in total workforce is 55 % for rural men, 59 % for rural women, while it is 42 % for urban men and 43 % for urban women. Men work more as casual labourers. when it comes to agriculture, it is again the women who dominate. In the rural areas, 59% men work in agriculture, but the figures are 75% for women. The involvement of women in the agriculture sector is more even in the urban areas. It is 11% as against the 6% for men. When it comes wages, obviously, the urbanites are paid more than their rural counterparts. Men are paid more than women. At the national level, average wages earned by regular wage/salaried employees is Rs 396 per day (Rs 299 in rural areas and Rs 450 in urban areas). In the rural areas, wages earned per day by a regular wage/salaried employee is Rs 322 (men) and Rs 202 (women). In the urban areas, this is Rs 470 for men and Rs 366 for women. The Union Cabinet on 20 June, decided to restructure the existing centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS)/ Additional Central Assistance (ACA) schemes in the Twelfth Five Year Plan into 66 schemes, including Flagship programmes. This includes 17 Flagship programmes with significant outlays for major interventions required in health, education, irrigation, urban development, infrastructure, including rural infrastructure, skill development, etc. To suit the requirements of the States, the Cabinet has also approved that a scheme may have state specific guidelines which may be recommended by an Inter-Ministerial Committee constituted for this purpose. Besides, the financial assistance to the States in these schemes would be provided through the Consolidated Funds of the states. Further, to bring in desired flexibility, the Cabinet has approved that 10% of the outlay of the Schemes be kept as flexi-funds. For each new CSS/ACA/Flagship scheme, at least 25 per cent of funds may be contributed by the General Category States and 10 percent of funds by the Special Category States including J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Earlier, the National Development Council (NDC), while approving the 12th plan in its meeting in December 2012 had also recommended building flexibility in the schemes to suit the requirements of the State Governments. Despite a sharp slowdown in the economy which led to an increase in unemployment, India's consumption story remained intact, the latest data on households' consumer expenditure in 2011-12 conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) revealed on 23 June. In fact, the average rural monthly per capital expenditure went up by 35.7% in the two year period between 2009-10 and 2011-12. Of the total expenditure, rural households spent less than half on food items, suggesting rise in wages. The average monthly per capita expenditure during 2011-12 stood at around 1,430 for rural India, a 35.7% increase compared to the 2009-10 survey and 2,630 for urban India, a 32% jump. The average urban monthly per capita expenditure was 84% higher than rural areas. The share of expenditure on food declined substantially from 53.6% to 48.6% in rural areas and from 40.7% to 38.5% in the urban areas. The faster rise in share of non-food expenditure in rural areas suggest a rise in wages. The rural wages went up from 231.59 a day in 2009-10 to 299 a day in 2011-12, a 29% increase. This could again be explained by the rural urban migration, as semi-skilled or unskilled workers in the urban areas would send home higher wages back home, an analyst said."As MGNREGA has led to increase in wages, people in rural areas are spending more on non food items", said Madan Sabnavis, chief economist, CARE Ratings. Urban wages went up to 450 a day from 354.95, according to the 68th round of the NSSO survey. The monthly per capita expenditure on food totaled 756 against 1,121 in the urban areas. Within food, the share of protein based items went up in the consumption basket. The share of milk and milk products went up from 8.6% in 2009-10 to 9.1%. Among non-food items, the share of durable goods in the consumption basket of rural areas went up from 4.8% to 6.1%. People in Andhra Pradesh are spending more money on various kinds of intoxicants than citizens of most other states in the country, according to a report by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation on the average amount spent by an Indian on household consumer items. The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), which falls under the ministry, released key indicators of consumer

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expenditure generated from the data collected for the period from July 2011-June 2012 on 21 June. The report revealed that the average monthly amount spent on intoxicants like tobacco, paan, alcohol, gutka etc stood at Rs 88.98 per person in rural Andhra Pradesh and Rs 61.61 per person in urban areas. The national average expenditures per person in the rural and urban areas are comparatively much lower at Rs 45.93 and Rs 42.3 respectively. With regard to AP, Tamil Nadu's urban per capita expenditure on intoxicants is only Rs 40.14, while that of Karnataka is Rs 48.68. The spending in the state is also comparatively much higher than in Maharashtra and Odisha as well. Social scientists say the differences are very significant and are a major cause for concern."AP is one of the highest liquor consuming states as the political culture here encourages it. The revenue targets being set for the excise department have increased. If targets have to be met, more people have to spend more on liquor," social scientist C Ramchandraiah said. The excise department revenue in the last financial year had crossed the Rs 10,000 crore mark, earning the state more than 10% of its total revenue. The excise revenue has grown more than ten-fold in the last decade. The Union Council of Ministers was expanded with the induction of four new Cabinet Ministers and four Ministers of State on 17th June. Mallikarjun Kharge was given the charge of Railways Ministry. The newly appointed ministers were administered the oath of office and secrecy by the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee at Rastrapati Bhawan . List of newly appointed Cabinet Ministers and their departments Kavuri Sambasiva Rao Sisram Ola Oscar Fernandes Girija Vyas Textiles Ministry Labour and Employment Ministry Road Transport and Highways Ministry Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation

List of newly appointed State Ministers and their departments Manikrao Gavit Santosh Chowdhury Jesudasu Seelam E.M.S. Natchiappan Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Minister of State for Finance and Minister of State for Commerce and Industry

The Geographical Indication (GI) certificate for unique Toda embroidery of hilly Nilgiris District in Tamilnadu has been handed over to a representative of the tribal community. The GI accorded in March would insulate the embroidery from being duplicated besides ensuring uniform pricing for the products. Nearly 400 Toda tribals are actively involved in the embroidery business and produce a wide range of products like shawl, table mat, wall hangings, bags and shopping bags and the certificate allowed the products to display the specific geographical location or origin. GI is a name on goods to indicate their specific geographical location or origin. Geographical Indications of Goods are defined as that aspect of industrial property which refer to the geographical indication referring to a country or to a place situated therein as being the country or place of origin of that product. According to latest UN Report, the current world population of 7.2 billion will increase by 1 million over the next 12 years and reach 9.6 billion by 2050. Report points out that growth will be mainly in developing countries, with more than half in Africa. The report, World Population Prospects: the 2012 Revision, notes that the population of developed regions will remain largely unchanged at around 1.3 billion from now until 2050.The report notes that India is expected to become the worlds largest country, passing China around 2028, when both countries will have populations of 1.45 billion. After that, Indias population will continue to grow and Chinas is expected to start decreasing. Meanwhile, Nigerias population is expected to surpass that of the United States before 2050.The 49 least developed countries are

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projected to double in size in 2050.According to report while there has been a rapid fall in the average number of children per woman in large developing countries such as China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Brazil and South Africa, rapid growth is expected to continue over the next few decades in countries with high levels of fertility such as Nigeria, Niger, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Uganda etc. Europes population is projected to decline by 14 per cent, the report states. It warned that the continent is already facing challenges in providing care and support for a rapidly aging population. Overall, life expectancy is projected to increase in developed and developing countries in future years. At the global level, it is projected to reach 76 years in the period 2045-2050 and 82 years in 2095-2100. By the end of the century, people in developed countries could live on average around 89 years, compared to about 81 years in developing regions. Indira Gandhi Institute of Technology has been upgraded to a state university and will now be known as Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University. Inaugurated on 14 June, it is the first technical institute for woman in the country. Formerly under Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, it shares its Kashmere Gate campus with Ambedkar University, and like it, will be a non-affiliating university."I hope this will outshine all the technical institutes in Delhi," said chief minister Shiela Dikshit who inaugurated it. The upgrade takes the number of state universities in Delhi to five. Indira Gandhi Institute of Technology was established in 1998 as the first engineering college for women in Delhi. The university is launching M Tech programmes in five courses for the 2013 round of admissions. This includes information security management, VLSI design, mobile and pervasive computing, robotics and automation and electronics and communication - the last being a weekend programme. Fifteen MLAs of the Congress and the Telugu Desam were disqualified on 8 June, from the Andhra Pradesh Assembly for openly defying the whips issued by their respective parties during voting on the no confidence motion in March this year. Announcing his verdict in Hyderabad, Speaker Nadendla Manohar said these MLAs nine of Congress and six TDP -- stood disqualified from the 13th Legislative Assembly for violating their party whips. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti had moved a motion of no confidence against the Kiran Reddy government and was supported by Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddys YSR Congress on March 15. The Congress had asked its members to vote against the no-trust motion while the TDP instructed its MLAs to remain neutral. But 18 MLA of both these parties stepped out of line, following which disqualification petitions were moved against them. In his judgment, the Speaker said he was of the opinion that respondents had exercised their vote on the no confidence motion on the floor contrary to the whip issued, attracting provisions of the X Schedule to the Constitution read with the AP Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on the ground of Defection) Rules 1986. The Indian Railways is all set for a long-term engagement with Japan with the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL) granting a Rs.6,700-crore contract for construction of 640-km twin-track line between Rewari and Palanpur of Western Dedicated Freight Corridor to an Indo-Japanese consortium. L&T-Sojitz, a joint venture comprising L&T of India and Sojitz Corporation of Japan, has won the contract through an international bidding process. The contract is likely to be completed in four years, a press release said on 8 june. The project is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Japanese government arm for providing technical and financial aid to developing countries, which is also DMRCs lending agency. Earlier in January, DFCCIL had awarded the Rs.3,300-crore contract for 343-km-long Khurja-Kanpur section of Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor, funded by the World Bank. The length covered under the new contract is more than 40 per cent of the entire western corridor. Land for almost the entire stretch has already been acquired. The Western Dedicated Freight Corridor, which will cover a length of about 1,500 km from Dadri to Jawaharlal Nehru Port (Mumbai), is being funded by the JICA, which has pledged a special terms for economic partnership loan of 677 billion yen for the entire Western Dedicated Freight Corridor. As per the loan conditionalities, the lead partner for any contract has to be from Japan. India got its 8th Telecom Centre of Excellence in New Delhi on 5 June, with RailTel Corrporation signing an MoU with IIT Roorkee for establishing RailTel IIT Roorkee Centre of Excellence in Telecom (RICET). The MoU was signed in the presence of Kapil Sibal, Minister of Communications &

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Information Technology and Law & Justice. RailTel shall fund the TCOE through 100% budgetary support over 5 year period for doing Research & Development in the field of ICT & Broadband Applications. RailTel Corporation, which is a Mini Ratna (Category I) PSU of the Ministry of Railways, is one of the largest telecom infrastructure providers in the country having country wide optic fiber network along Railway right of way. Already 7 TCOEs are working in the country established by all major Telecom operators in partnership with premier institutions like IITs & IIMs. Over 28 innovations and products have been developed in various fields of telecommunication by existing TCOEs which are available for commercial roll out. With the establishment of the 8th TCOE, north India also got its first TCOE in the region. RICET will work upon R&D in the field of development of applications, services and technology in the domain of broadband & ICT for providing affordable services to the citizens with high network availability. The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee laid the foundation stone of Atal Bihari Vajpayee Hindi University on June 6, 2013 at Bhopal. Speaking on the occasion, the President said that language has an important role between the Government and people. Success of social welfare and development programme depends on language. Therefore, we should encourage Hindi and other regional languages. Hindi has always played an important role in the national integration. It is symbol of Indias social and cultural unity. The President said that decade of 2010-20 has been declared as the decade of innovation. He said that recently, he had opened Innovation Clubs in two Central Universities in Uttar Pradesh and Assam and attended innovation exhibitions organized in these universities. He called upon the University to take the initiative to build a strong innovation culture. A newsletter Atal Samvad was released on the occasion and its first copy was presented to the President. 5 June is World Environment Day. 5th June was declared as the World Environment Day on the recommendations made by UN Conference on Human Environment in 1972. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) through the celebration of World Environment Day spreads awareness and gets citizens support for environment protection across the globe. The theme for this years World Environment Day (WED) is -Think. Eat. Save- Reduce our Foodprint. The campaign calls for minimizing waste of food at all stages of the food chain, from farm to fork. This is to raise awareness about the environmental consequences of our food choices and find ways to reduce our environmental foodprint, as food production has profound impact on environmental resources. Agriculture is responsible for 70% of fresh water consumption, 80% of deforestation, and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. It is the cause of land-use change, biodiversity loss, and responsible for largescale soil, water and air pollution. The campaign is also to remind each one of us that despite producing enough food for everyone, 90 crore people still go hungry world over. On this day we take a pledge to make a difference, individually as well as collectively, to reduce food loss or wastage and move towards a world where everyone has enough to eat and no one is malnourished or undernourished. Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan, Minister for Environment & Forests presided over the function to celebrate World Environment Day organized by the Ministry of Environment & Forests in New Delhi on 5 June. As the part of the celebrations, Five publications namely, Animal Discoveries- 2012, Plant Discoveries 2012, Coastal Zones of India, National Wetland Atlas: High Altitude Lakes of India and National Wetland Atlas and Wetlands of International Importance under Ramsar Convention were released by the dignitaries for spreading awareness and sensitizing the citizens. On the occasion, Smt. Natarajan, presented this years Young Environmentalist of the Year Award 2013to Ms. Arundhati Srivastava, from New Delhi. In a major step towards improving the quality and safety of ambulances on Indian roads, National Ambulance Code AIS:125 (Automotive Industry Standard) recommended by Central Motor Vehicles Rules-Technical Standing Committee (CMVR-TSC) has been approved by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways on 7 June. This Code puts in place minimum standards and guidelines regarding the constructional and functional requirements of road ambulances in India. Drafted in line with the global best practices in the field of ambulance design, the code has been suitably adapted to factor in the special requirements of the Indian sub-continent, including traffic conditions, need for economy and industry maturity.

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The National Ambulance Code classifies road ambulances into four types (A, B, C & D) that is First Responder, Patient Transport, Basic Life Support and Advanced Life Support, respectively. The category of First Responder, which also includes two wheeled ambulances, has been specially introduced for the first time in India to cater to the need for providing prompt medical care in congested by-lanes and high traffic areas. Special care has been given to Care Ergonomics, Patient Safety, Oxygen System Design, Infection Control, Crash Rescue, etc. in the Code. Once implemented, this Code will ensure uniformity and standardization in ambulance design and a minimum level of patient care as per the ambulance designation when appropriately staffed and equipped. So far no guidelines were available for hospitals and other procuring agencies for floating tenders and for industry outlining required specifications. The Government would now consider bringing the Ambulance Code within the mandatory framework of Central Motor Vehicles Rules. The Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh on 7th June has launched a new skill development scheme called Roshni for rural youth from 24 most critical left-wing extremism affected districts in the country. Briefing the media, Ramesh said that the initiative aims at skilling and placement of fifty thousand youth from these districts. Six districts each from Jharkhand and Odisha, five from Chhattisgarh, two from Bihar and one each from Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have been chosen for the scheme, which will be implemented at a cost of Rs 100 crore over the next three years. The Minister said, the projects shall be funded jointly by the central and state governments in the ratio of 75:25 and the national level agencies shall be designated to act as monitoring and coordinating agencies for Roshni. Ramesh said that at least 50 percent of the candidates covered under the scheme shall be women and special efforts will be made to proactively cover Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups on a priority basis. He said, beneficiaries aged between 18-35 years with requisite aptitude depending upon the trade or job requirements are to be selected as per the Participatory Identification of Poor. Training will be imparted through public-private and public-public partnerships. Educational institutions, corporate entities, entities that train and place for improved public service delivery, commercial and not for profit training providers will be roped in for implementing this scheme. The Central Information Commission (CIC) brought political parties under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act on 3rd June. The CIC recognized the need for bringing the parties under public scrutiny in view of benefits like allocation of land at throwaway prices and tax exemption enjoyed by them. The CIC decision may usher in an era of transparency in the functioning of the parties. A full bench decision of the apex transparency panel rejected the contention of major political parties like the Congress, BJP, CPI, CPM, BSP and the NCP that they could not be described as public bodies. The Union Cabinet of India approved the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill 2013 to set up a regulator for the real estate sector in the country on 4th June. This was done with the objective of protecting home buyers from dishonest builders. The bill seeks to make it mandatory for developers to launch projects only after acquiring all the statutory clearances from relevant authorities. It also has provisions under which all relevant clearances for real estate projects would have to be submitted to the regulator and also displayed on a website before starting construction work. A real estate regulator will be set up in every state. It will ensure that private developers get all their projects registered with it before sale and only after obtaining all necessary clearances. The commercial real estate is not covered under the purview of the proposed bill. However, it will apply to residential buildings. The bill has a provision for mandatory public disclosure of all project details such as lay out plan, land status and credentials of promoters etc. An adjudicating officer in the state will be appointed by the authority for fast tracking settlement of disputes. There will be Real Estate Appellate Tribunal as per the bill. It will hear appeals from orders, decisions or directions of regulator and adjudicating officer.

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July
With Tirumal shrine attracting visitors in hordes, Andhra Pradesh has become the top tourist destination in the country, recording 206.8 million domestic tourists last year, according to the data available with Union ministry of tourism revealed on 23rd July. Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh stood at second and third places respectively, with 184.1 million and 168.4 million domestic tourists. Built in 10th century, the Lord Venkateswara temple, located in Tirumala, near Tirupati town, attracts more tourists than the domestic visitors to Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, which boast of Taj Mahal and AjantaEllora caves respectively, a senior tourism ministry official said. The footfall at domestic tourist destinations across the country witnessed a surge touching 1,036 million compared to 865 million in 2011 -an increase of 19.87 per cent. It was 748 million in 2010. Meanwhile, the number of foreign tourist visits (FTVs) to states/UTs registered a growth of 6.33 per cent during the same year. These states accounted for 84.5 per cent of the total number of domestic tourists during 2012. The top 10 states in terms of FTVs in 2012, remained the same as those in 2011 with Maharashtra topping the list. In a record of sorts, the AP State Legislative Assembly will become the first paperless legislature house in the country. Assembly speaker, N. Manohar has said that the Union Ministry of Information Technology and Communications had chosen the AP Assembly for implementation of an Rs 16.50-crore World Bank-aided project for its computerization. The paperless functioning will increase the efficiency in the functioning of the legislature and will improve transparency. Even Parliament is yet to convert itself into paperless mode, he said on 22nd July. A file-monitoring network, integrated with all government departments, will be put in place to ensure paperless administration. All information on government schemes and public assets in each constituency will be made available to legislators on their mobile phones through GIS. Hereafter, all communication to MLAs will be in electronic format only. The Assembly website - www.aplegislature.org will be made bilingual (English and Telugu) soon for the convenience of legislators and the Telugu-speaking populace of Andhra Pradesh. ZEE News has changed its identity and now become ZEE Media Corporation Limited. The channel has so far reached to 100 million people, stated the CEO of the company, Alok Agarwal. The Zee network includes several channels like ZEE 24 Gantalu, Zee Uttar Pradesh Uttarakhand, Zee Madhya Pradesh Chhattisgarh, Zee 24 Taas, Zee Business, Zee News, and Zee Punjab, Haryana and Himachal. The Judicial Commission on Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) appointed by the Supreme Court of India submitted a 100 page report to the Court in the third week of July 2013. The report has highlighted the rampant misuse of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur. The judicial commission also noted that the Act has failed in tackling the insurgencies and the armed forces were indulged in gross violation of Human Rights. The Commission in its findings has also noted that the Act was abused widely and several encounters under the blanket of the Act, carried out in the North-Eastern states, were fake. The report submitted by the commission also mentioned that the activities of the forces appear as if they believed a priori that the suspects involved in the encounters had to be eliminated and acted accordingly. The Judicial Commission on AFSPA was headed by Santosh Hegde the former Judge of Supreme Court and included J.M. Lyngdoh former Chief of Election Commission and A.K. Singh, retired IPS officer as its members. The commission was formed by the Supreme Court to probe into the alleged cases of extra judicial killings in Manipur after receiving complaints related to 1500 fake encounter deaths that occurred in Manipur in last 10 years in September 2012. The Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association (EEVFAM) along with Human Rights Alert (HRA) demanded investigations into the deaths. The Ministry for Women and Child Development is going to celebrate the World Breastfeeding Week in the first week of August to focus attention on the important aspect of protection, promotion and support of Breastfeeding with a theme: BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT- Close to Mothers.

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As part of the Breastfeeding Week, the Ministry will disseminate crucial information about breastfeeding through district/ State Officials of Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) and National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Child Development Project Officers (CDPOs), NGOs etc. During this week various activities will also take place in the Anganwadi centers which includes, Community/ family sensitization on Breastfeeding, Mothers Meet (specially for the pregnant and lactating women), growth monitoring linked with counseling on breastfeeding, Healthy Baby show, sensitization on breastfeeding through audio aids, wall writing, display/ exhibition on breastfeeding at Anganwadi centers, quiz competition on breastfeeding involving women, mothers, adolescent girls, grandmothers. The Union Government of India on 27 July 2013 announced that it would set-up a Marine Training Academy at Tuticorin. The academy would be set-up through the Shipping Corporation of India in collaboration with the VO Chidambaram Port Trust.The announcement was made by Shipping Minister, GK Vasan at Chennai that the Ministry has already allocated 15 crore rupees for the development of the infrastructure for the academy. The first batch of the academy would commence from September or October 2013, with a batch of 40 students. The Campaign Clean India will be extended to cover the World Heritage Site, Taj Mahal which would be adopted by ONGC in the presence of K. Chiranjeevi, the Union Minister for Tourism at a function to be held tomorrow at Agra. Taj Mahal a world heritage site and is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The Minister has strongly felt the need to undertake sustained operations to ensure clean and hygienic environment, commensurate with the stature of this prestigious destination. At the initiative of Ministry of Tourism, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has agreed to the proposal of ONGC for adopting five more monuments under the Clean India Campaign which include -1). Ellora & Elephanta Caves Maharashtra 2). Red Fort Delhi, 3). Golkonda Fort Hyderabad and 4). Mahabalipuram Tamil Nadu. The Ministry of Tourism launched Clean India Campaign as part of Government strategy for 12th Five Year Plan for improving the quality of services and environs in and around tourist destinations across India. The campaign is aimed at undertaking both sensitization and action at field level on bringing tourism destinations and their surroundings to an expectable level of cleanliness and hygiene. The Peoples Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI) has revealed that northeast has the highest per capita language in the entire world. While addressing a press conference in Guwahati, on 24 July, PLSI chairperson G. N. Devy told that linguistic survey has been completed in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Nagaland and Manipur. It is the first linguistic survey since George Griersons survey conducted a century ago. PLSI told that the survey accounts 130 languages, as well as near extinct languages of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Nagaland and Manipur. The region contains more than 210 languages. PLSI have published books on the survey and the volume will also depict the rich cultural and linguistic geography of all the indigenous communities of the states of the region. The Supreme Court upheld the Juvenile Justice Act providing for differential treatment to a minor irrespective of the nature of crime committed by him or her on 17th July. The apex court bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir upheld the Juvenile Justice Act by declining the prayer that the age in the act should be reduced from 18 to 16 and those involved in heinous crimes should not be treated differently. The petitioner had also sought that the punishment for heinous crime committed by a minor should not be decided by the juvenile justice board. Rejecting the petition, Chief Justice Kabir said here was no need to interfere in the matter. The petition was filed in the context of a minor who was among those who were arrested for the gang rape, brutal assault and torture of a 23-year-old woman in a moving bus in Delhi on December 16 last year. She later died in a Singapore hospital on December 29. The Bengaluru International Airport will be named after the city's founder Kempe Gowda as Kempegowda International Airport. The government on 17 July approved a Civil Aviation Ministry proposal to this effect. The proposal was approved by the Union Cabinet at its meeting, fulfilling a longpending demand of the people of Karnataka, official sources said. Hiriya Kempe Gowda was a ruler under the Vijayanagar Empire who ruled most parts of Karnataka during the 16th century. Having built the Bengaluru Fort and moved his capital from Yelahanka, he is widely accepted as the founder of Bangalore.

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The airport, run by a private-led consortium, would be renamed Kempegowda International Airport after the founder whose 503rd birth anniversary was observed this year. The Civil Aviation Ministry had last year approved the proposal of the state government following efforts by then External Affairs Minister S M Krishna. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 17 July has approved an allocation of 50 lakh tonnes of food grains to States/ Union Territories (UTs) during 2013-14 for Below Poverty Line (BPL) families. This additional allocation of 50 lakh tonnes will remain valid for lifting up to 31st March, 2014 or till the National Food Security Bill is passed by Parliament and implemented in the respective States/UTs. The allocation will meet the additional requirement of food grains for BPL families. The estimated subsidy on additional allocation of 50 lakh tones of food grains (rice and wheat) for BPL families in all the States/UTs at BPL prices during 2013-14 will be Rs. 9471.22 crore. Considering the sufficient availability of stock of food grains in the Central Pool and requests received from States/UTs, Government has been allocating additional BPL allocation of 50 lakh tonnes of wheat and rice to the States/UTs since 2010-11. The Government of India is allocating food grains to the States/UTs under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) for 6.52 crore BPL families which include 2.43 crore Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) families. Union Cabinet on 17 July 2013 approved amendments to the marriage law enabling a married woman to get a share of her husband's ancestral property as reparation in case of a divorce. The Bill is now expected to come up for channel in the Monsoon Session of Parliament in August 2013. The decision was taken to make marriage law more women friendly and to decide how sufficient compensation can be given to a woman from her husband's ancestral property in case of divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage. As per the bill the woman should get adequate compensation by calculating the husband's share in the event that ancestral property cannot be divided. Government has taken key decisions on FDI limits in 13 sectors, in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 16 July .These decisions areo FDI cap in telecom raised to 100 percent from 74 percent; up to 49 percent through automatic route and beyond via FIPB. o No change in 49 percent FDI limit in civil aviation. o FDI cap in defense production to stay at 26 percent, higher investment may be considered in stateof-the-art technology production by Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). o 100 percent FDI allowed in single brand retail; 49 percent through automatic, 49-100 percent through FIPB. o FDI limit in insurance sector raised to 49 percent from present 26 percent, subject to Parliament approval. o FDI up to 49 percent in petroleum refining allowed under automatic route, from earlier approval route. o In power exchanges 49 percent FDI allowed through automatic route, from earlier FIPB route. o Raised FDI in asset reconstruction companies to 100 percent from 74 percent; of this up to 49 percent will be under automatic route. o FDI limit increased in credit information companies to 74 percent from 49 percent. o FDI up to 49 percent in stock exchanges, depositories allowed under automatic route. o FDI up to 100 percent through automatic route allowed in courier services. o FDI in tea plantation up to 49 percent through automatic route; 49-100 percent through FIPB route. o No decision taken on FDI cap in airports, media, brownfield pharma and multi-brand retail.

Boosting the Army's war fighting capabilities along the Line of Actual Control, government on 16 July, gave the go-ahead for the creation of a corps including deployment of 50,000 additional troops along the China border at a cost of around Rs. 65,000 crore. The Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cleared the proposal in its meeting, sources said. As part of the plans, the around 1.3 million-strong Army is expected to raise the new Corps' headquarters at Panagarh in West Bengal along with two divisions in Bihar and Assam and other units from Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh. Army Chief Gen. Bikram Singh and IAF chief Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne were also present at the Prime Minister's Office for providing any possible clarifications, if any,

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sought by the CCS members including Defense Minister A.K. Antony, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. As per the plans, the IAF will also deploy its force multiplier assets such as six each mid-air refueling tankers and C-130J Super Hercules special operations aircraft at Panagarh. The army had sent the proposal in this regard in 2010 but it was returned by the government asking the three services to work together on plans to strengthen their capabilities in that region. The Army will also get a number of new armoured and artillery divisions along with it to be deployed along the Northeast region. Hyderabad could become a women-dominated city in the future if the current population trend continues. Despite the real concerns about female foeticide and infanticide, the city has shown impressive numbers in terms of female births. Hyderabad is the only one of the six major cities in the country to have a higher number of female births than males. The proportion of female deaths in the city was also the least among all the cities. According to new data released by the Census of India, there were about 1.75 lakh births in the city in 2009 and 48,000 deaths. Of course, the level of reporting is also low in the state. About 76.3 per cent of births and 68.4 per cent of deaths are registered. However, in terms of recorded births, Hyderabad was the only city which had more females being born than males during that year. Every other city, including Chennai which has a higher sex ratio than Hyderabad, had a substantial difference in the number of male and female births. The sex ratio in the city has been seeing an upward curve over the last decade with the figure rising from 933 females per 1,000 males to 954: 1,000. According to the Civil Registration System report, female births in the city were about 52 per cent of all births in the year 2009. Every other major city had a female birth proportion of less than 50 per cent. The Supreme Court upheld the right of bar dancers to pursue their profession subject to dancing bars taking licence from the State authorities on 16th July. The apex court bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice S. S. Nijjar upheld the right of bar dancers as it rejected the Maharashtra governments plea against the Bombay High Court verdict striking down the police orders that bar dancing in hotels below three stars. Pronouncing the judgment, Justice Nijjar said that they have not touched the question of the right of the dancing girls under article 19 (A). The bar dancers had contended that besides being discriminative the police order impinged on their right to livelihood. They had also contended that besides dancing at the bar they knew no other trade to earn their living. President Pranab Mukherjee launched Kisaan Portal for sending SMS through mobile phones to the farmers across the country, here on 16th July, 2013. The SMS initiative will enable the farmers to take informed decisions as to different aspects of farming including crop production and marketing, animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries and weather forecasts. The Kisaan Portal directly aimed at spreading information, advisories and services through SMS to more than 12 crore farmers across the country. Farmers will need to register for this service by calling Kisaan Call Centre on the toll free number 1800-180-1551 or through the web portal.The farmers can opt to receive SMS messages customized to their specific requirements. The Supreme Court Thursday banned over-the-counter sale of acid at retail outlets and ordered a compensation of Rs.3 lakh to be paid by the government to each acid attack victim on 18th July. The apex court bench, headed by Justice R.M. Lodha, issued detailed directions for regulating the sale of acid at retail outlets. The court direction came in the wake of reports of increasing number of acid attacks. In a direction, the court said the retail outlets having license to sell acid will maintain a stock register and failing to do so or possessing unaccounted acid will lead to a fine of Rs.50,000.

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The court said all the states which already have rules to regulate the sale of acid will reinforce them and those who don't have them will frame them in accordance with the model rules framed by the central government. The court said the rules should be made stringent as has been spelt out in the model rules framed by the government. Penguin Books India has launched a dedicated website for young readers, titled youngreaders.penguinbooksindia.com. The new portal has child-friendly navigation and has organized sections, which the book house claims to be interesting. A category called Read What of the website offers literature on various subjects such as non-fiction, classic, anthology, short stories, young adults, crime and many more. The new website includes works of some of the popular authors such as Asha Nehemiah, Rabindranath Tagore, Herge as well as Ruskin Bond. Metro rail coach is reaching Hyderabad city by the end of September month. The rail coach is coming from South Korea and it will be displayed at Peoples Plaza for the people to have a look at. The L & T Metrorail will be accepting suggestions and advises from people. The first Metrorail will run in the NagoleMettuguda route, track works for which will begin in another four weeks, on March 23, 2015. L & T Metrorail Managing Director V.B. Gadgil supervised the metro rail works along with media persons. Speaking to the reporters, he said Grand Metro Museum will be set up show the developments in city transport sector from 1911 to 2013. The place of the Museum will be opened will be informed later, he said. Visitors to the IRCTC portal would soon get to shop apparels, home appliances, and electronic products along with buying rail tickets. The railway PSU has tied up with online lifestyle and home portal Yebhi.com, thus making its entry into the online shopping. Yebhi.com is a franchisee of Shop Online Trading Pvt Ltd. (SOTPL). Through this tie-up SOTPL and Yebhi.com will be responsible for developing and managing the e-commerce platform for IRCTC. IRCTC gets close to 1.2 million daily visits generating 180 million transactions every year thus making it the largest e-commerce site in the country. Officials in IRCTC said they want to capitalize on the large user base of its portal which sees about 12 lakh visitors per day and four lakh ticket bookings. Yebhi.com, on the other hand, gets close to 100 million visits per annum and does over 2 million transactions every year. "We are thrilled to partner with the India's largest e-commerce website, and look forward to this mutually beneficial association. With this association IRCTC is getting a readymade supply chain with all products offering at one go powered by us," said CEO of Yebhi.com Manmohan Agarwal. As per the contract, SOTPL will be deploying the entire online shopping platform for IRCTC within 60 days from the date of signing of the agreement. Jharkhand Mukti Morcha legislator Hemant Soren, son of former Chief Minister Shibu Soren, was sworn in as Jharkhands ninth Chief Minister. 37-year-old Soren, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Syed Ahmed on Saturda after President Pranab Mukherjee revoked the nearly six-month-long President rule in the state. Soren became the fifth tribal CM after Babulal Marandi (once), Arjun Munda (thrice), Shibu Soren (thrice) and Madhu Koda (once) since the Jharkhand state was created on 15th November 2000.The Soren had staked claim on 9th July for formation of a government in alliance with Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal, smaller parties and independent MLAs. The Presidents rule was imposed on 18th January due to political instability after the JMM withdrew support to the BJP-led government under Arjun Munda and it was set to end on 18th July. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 10 July, constituted a Cabinet committee to oversee reconstruction and rehabilitation in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand.Defence minister AK Antony, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, finance minister P Chidambaram, health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, road transport minister Oscar Fernandes, law minister Kapil Sibal, housing minister Girija Vyas, rural development minister Jairam Ramesh and water resources minister Harish Rawat are the members of the committee chaired by Singh. Planning commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Uttarakhand chief minister Vijay Bahuguna and national disaster management authority vice chairman M Shashidhar Reddy are the permanent invitees. The committee will provide broad guidance to reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in Uttarakhand, and take such decisions,

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as may be required, said a notification issued by the Cabinet Secretariat. Singh has announced Rs. 1,000 crore for disaster relief measures in flood-devastated parts of Uttarakhand. Lawmakers have to quit if they are convicted of a crime and can't stay on regardless of appeals to higher courts, the Supreme Court said, in a big leap towards cleaning up Indian politics. The top court struck down a provision in the Representation of the People's Act (RPA) that protects convicted MPs and MLAs from disqualification if they appeal to a higher court. "The disqualification takes place from the date of conviction," said a bench of justices A K Patnaik and S J Mukhopadhaya. The verdict won't affect lawmakers who have already filed appeals against their conviction. A petition had said that allowing such lawmakers to stay in office was "discriminatory and encouraged criminalization of politics'. The petition sought to highlight the dichotomy in the laws that allow convicted lawmakers to stay on but ban a person convicted and sentenced to a term of over two years from even contesting an election. The government's affidavit had argued against MPs and MLAs being disqualified. The Supreme Court in its landmark judgment on 11th July barred persons in jail or police custody from contesting election for legislative bodies. The Supreme Courts decision would help in bringing an end to the era of the under trial politicians, who contest elections from behind the bars. The Court ruled that only an elector can contest the polls and the elector ceases the right to cast vote due to confinement in prison or being in custody of police. The court, however, made it clear that disqualification will not be applicable to person subjected to preventive detention, under any law. The Bench that comprised Justices A.K. Patnaik and S.J. Mukhopadhayay, while referring to the Representation of Peoples Act said that the Act (Section 4 & 5) lays down the qualifications for membership of the House of the people and legislative assembly and one of the qualifications laid down is that he must be an elector. The court passed the order on an appeal filed by the Chief Election Commissioner and others challenging the order of Patna High Court that barred people in police custody from contesting polls. The judgment of the Supreme Court has confirmed 2004 ruling of the Patna High Court that said if - a jailed person cant vote, than a jailed person cant contest election. The country's first exclusive women university is set to come up at Raebareli in Uttar Pradesh with the government on 11 July, clearing a proposal in this regard. The university, which would focus on research and higher studies, would be named after late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who represented Raebareli during a substantive part of her political career. At present, the constituency is represented by Congress president Sonia Gandhi. The proposal, which received the Union Cabinet's nod on 11 July, would be set up at a cost of Rs 500 crore during the 12th Plan Period. A bill named the 'Indira Gandhi National University for Women Bill' will be introduced in the coming Monsoon Session of Parliament, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari told reporters in new Delhi, adding that the varsity will be set up following its passage. The establishment of the varsity would "set the pace for all-round growth and development of women in the country and supplement the efforts of the government for women's empowerment by giving them an increased access to employment oriented basic courses and high-end research," a government statement also said. The first-ever national aviation university in the country would come up at Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh, Sonia Gandhi's Lok Sabha constituency, to impart complete training to pilots, cabin crew and aircraft engineers. The Union Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, approved the creation of this university in the name of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi as a central university, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari told reporters in New Delhi on 11 July. The Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University would be set up on a 26-acre plot of land at the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Udaan Academy (IGRUA) at Fursatganj. It would have an estimated funding of Rs 202 crore during the 12th Plan period, of which Rs. 80 crore has already been sanctioned by the Centre. The university would be an autonomous body under the administrative control of the Civil Aviation Ministry. Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari has said that Right to Safe Drinking Water for the entire country is under the consideration of the Centre. Addressing a gathering in Ludhiana on 7 July, he said special care will be taken for those who cannot afford RO systems and distilled

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bottled water. The Minister also said that the government is giving top priority to the healthcare of the people through the National Rural Health Mission and National Urban Health Mission. President Pranab Mukherjee gave his assent to the government's food welfare programme on 5 July 2013. The scheme that provides subsidized food to nearly 800 million or 67 per cent of the population is now law, but it must be cleared within six weeks of Parliament's next session. The populist programme, championed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, will cost Rs. 1.25 lakh crore per year. The cabinet used an executive order to clear the scheme to bypass a debate in Parliament. "Up to 75 per cent of the rural population and up to 50 per cent of the urban population will have uniform entitlement of five kilos per month at highly subsidized prices," a government statement said. The bill had been expected to be cleared by Parliament in February, but it was never introduced due to opposition protests. Critics of the food programme also say that India can ill-afford such a costly subsidy at a time of slowing economic growth and when credit ratings agencies are eyeing the country's large deficit. The Global Innovation Index 2013 (GII), in its 6th edition this year, is co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO, a specialized agency of the United Nations). According to this report, the United States rejoined the five most-innovative nations and the United Kingdom moved up to the third spot while Switzerland retained its first place in the rankings in the Global Innovation Index 2013.A group of dynamic middle- and low-income countries including China, Costa Rica, India, and Senegal are outpacing their peers, but havent broken into the top of the GII 2013 leader board. India got 66th rank, while Sri Lanka attained 98th rank. The core of the GII Report consists of a ranking of world economies innovation capabilities and results. Recognizing the key role of innovation as a driver of economic growth and prosperity and the need for a broad horizontal vision of innovation applicable to developed and emerging economies, the GII includes indicators that go beyond the traditional measures of innovation such as the level of research and development. In just six years, the GII has established itself as the premier reference among innovation indices, and has evolved into a valuable benchmarking tool to facilitate public-private dialogue, whereby policymakers, business leaders and other stakeholders can evaluate progress on a continual basis. To support the global innovation debate, to guide polices and to highlight good practices, metrics are required to assess innovation and related policy performance. The Innovation Input Sub-Index gauges elements of the national economy which embody innovative activities grouped in five pillars:(1)Institutions,(2) Human capital and research,(3) Infrastructure,(4) Market sophistication, and(5) Business sophistication. The Innovation Output Sub-Index captures actual evidence of innovation results, divided in two pillars: (6) Knowledge and technology outputs and (7) Creative outputs. Union Government of India on 4 July 2013 announced to launch Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Surakhsa Yojna (MGPSY), a pension scheme for blue-collar Indian workers in the Gulf. The scheme would be launched in August 2013. The Pension and Life Insurance fund scheme, is applicable for the Overseas Indian workers having Emigration Check Required, ECR passports. The announcement was made by the Rajiv Mehrishi, Secretary of Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in Riyadh. This pension and life insurance fund scheme would benefit a large number of oversees Indian Workers. The MGPSY is aimed towards helping the overseas Indian workers in saving money for their retirement, re-settlement in India after their return and a life insurance that will cover them against natural death during the period of coverage.

August
Union Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, S.Jaipal Reddy informed to Rajya Sabha for a question on 26 August, that the government has launched the National Monsoon Mission to set up a state-of-the-art climate model for (a) improved prediction of monsoon rainfall on extended range to seasonal time scale (16 days to one season) and (b) improved prediction of temperature, rainfall and extreme weather events on short to medium range time scale (up to 15 days).

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The National Food Security Bill, a historic initiative for ensuring food and nutritional security to the people was passed by Lok sabha on 26 August. According to the amendments approved by the house State Governments existing food grain entitlements will be protected legally subject to it being restricted to average annual off take during last three years. Earlier it was proposed to be protected by an executive order. The definitions of the meal for mid day meal and ICDS programmes has also been amended. Now meal means hot cooked or pre-cooked and heated food and not the packaged food. This amendment has been made to remove the apprehensions of misuse of the earlier provision for supply of packaged food in large quantity. Another amendment now provides one year to states for implementation of the Food Bill instead of six months. Removing all apprehensions of the States regarding their say in the implementation of the ambitious Bill, the other amendment says that the Central Government will make rules in consultation with the State Governments to carry out the provisions of Food Security Act. Total ten amendments have been approved by the Lok Sabha in the National Food Security Bill which was introduced in the house on August 7, 2013 by Union Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister, K.V. Thomas to replace the National Food Security Ordinance, 2013 promulgated on 5th July, 2013 The Bill proposes to provide wheat and rice at Rs 2 and Rs 3 per kg to about 81 crore people, while under the existing Targeted Public Distribution System only 2.5 crore Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) families or about 32.5 crore persons (assuming 5 as the average household size) are getting food grains at these prices. Thus, population getting food grains at these highly subsidized prices as their legal right will increase to 67% from existing 27%. Ministry of Minority Affairs has constituted a committee to evaluate the process of implementation of the recommendations of the Sachar Committee Report and their impact on socio-economic and educational status of the Muslim population. The first meeting of the Committee was held in New Delhi on 27th August, 2013 where Minister of Minority Affairs, K. Rahman Khan addressed the members of the Committee. Prof. Amitabh Kundu of Jawaharlal Nehru University will be the Chairman of the committee with other 8 members drawn from various streams. The other members of the Committee include Dr. AmirUllah Khan, P.A.Inamdar, Dr.ManzoorAlam , Smt. Jeemol Unni , Smt. Farah Naqvi , Professor Abdul Shaban, P. C. Mohanan and Ali Ahmed Khan Member Secretary. The committee is expected to submit its Report within a period of six months. The committee will primarily look at the impact of the implementation of the recommendations of the Sachar committee in its report, the institutional reforms and programmatic shifts. Besides, it would assess the programmes executed by the various Ministries especially the schemes aimed at educationally empowering the minorities particularly the Muslims. The Committee will also recommend interventions and corrective measures to be launched at the level of policies, programme and schemes. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 mandates eight years of elementary education to all children in the 6 to 14 years age group. While supply side provisioning is being done by the Government, at the same time creation of demand in a rights based perspective is also of utmost importance. Different media tools have been used in this regard and the RTE Anthem is an attempt to do it in a joyful and child friendly manner, wherein children will imbibe the RTE message from popular public figures in a creative melody. The melodious RTE Anthem was launched on 29 August, by Union Minister for HRD Dr. M.M. Pallam Raju, in the presence of MoS for HRD, Dr. Shashi Tharoor and also the lyricist and MP Javed Akhtar. National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) supported the Ministry in creating the Anthem, which has been written by renowned lyricist Javed Akhtar and sung by Sonu Nigam and Sunidhi Chauhan. The Anthem depicts child-centered principles and entitlements and has been shot in government schools. The anthem will be dubbed in English and 15 regional languages (Assamese, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Dogri, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Naga, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu) to generate constructive awareness among the community and stakeholders for the implementation of RTE. The High Power Committee (Running & Safety) headed by D. P. Tripathi, former Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Food Processing, has submitted its final report to Arunendra Kumar, Chairman, Railway Board. Other three Members of the Committee which was constituted by the

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Ministry of Railways were V.K. Manglik, former General Manager, West Central Railway, Amar Nath, former General Manager, Chittaranjan Locomotive Works and M. S. Khan, former Additional Member/Budget, Railway Board, The Committee was constituted to look into pending demands of Labour Federation regarding working hours of Running Staff (Guards and Drivers) and review of Safety Categories staff over Indian Railways. The Committee conducted wide ranging consultation with Railway Administrations, Federations and staff all over Indian Railways and prepared a comprehensive report as per terms of reference. The Ministry of Railways shall be examining the report for implementation of the recommendations of the Committee. The Minister of State for Tourism, K. Chiranjeevi in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha informed that the Government has proposed to set up the Central Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition in the country. The said IHM will be set up at Jagdishpur (Sultanpur Dist.), Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh presently has only one IHM which is located at Lucknow. The institute is expected to play a pivotal role in employment generation for Jagdishpur area. The Union Minister for Human Resource Development M. M. Pallam Raju was presented a report on Geospatial Education by Dr K. Kasturirangan, Member of Planning Commission who headed the National Task Force on Evolving Geospatial Strategy in New Delhi on 30 August. Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said that XII Five Year Plan has a vision of rapid, sustainable and more inclusive growth and to meet the ambitious targets enlisted in Plan document and beyond, harnessing and augmenting Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is the need of the hour. Geospatial Technology assumes special importance as it facilitates planning, implementation, and monitoring of projects of national importance, the HRM added. Kasturirangan highlighted the salient points of the report. He said that National Task Force has given a four-pronged recommendations on Geospatial Strategy which includes (i) School Geospatial Education Project (SGEP) led by the Department of School Education, MHRD; (ii) Geospatial University Networking Project (GUNP) led by the Department of Higher education, MHRD; (iii) Geospatial Training and Outreach Project (GTOP) led by Department of Science & Technology (DST); and (iv) National Institute of Geospatial Knowledge, Engineering and Management (NGKEM) led by MHRD and DST. He further mentioned that a high-level management council is also recommended with Minister, MHRD as Chair and Member (Science), Planning Commission as Co-chair, with various Secretaries as Members and experts as Members, for guiding and supervising the implementation of recommendations. Avani Riverside Shopping Mall, Kolkata, will become the first ever shopping mall in the country to get a BEE 5 star label. It is being recognized by the Government for its endeavour towards incorporating energy efficiency measures resulting in award of a 5 star label. Director General, Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) will present the 5 star label to the shopping mall in a ceremony on 31st August, 2013 at Kolkata. This mall has achieved an EPI(Average Annual Energy Performance Index) value of 185.62 kWh/sq. m/annum in comparison to the general shopping mall EPI of 400 kwh/sq. mtr/ per annum by implementing various energy efficiency measures like integration of day light, use of sensors and controllers, waste energy recovery wheel etc. The mall has also adopted energy management system and performance indicators for facility management staff for energy saving through awareness among renters and shopkeepers in the mall. Shopkeepers and occupiers in the mall would be benefitted by reduced electricity bills and enhancing their business profitability. BEE, a statutory body under the Ministry of Power, has developed a voluntary Star rating programme for commercial buildings, which is based on the actual performance of a building in terms of its specific energy usage in kwh/sqm/year. With the objective to prevent women and children from all types of violence, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has introduced an awareness and women empowerment program Ahimsa Messenger on 31 August,. The UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi launched this program in an event in the presence of Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath, which was organized by Ministry of Women and Child Development at New Delhi. The 'Ahimsa Messenger' programme aims at preventing violence against women and children and generating awareness about basic legal rights, procedures and provisions amongst women and children at the grassroots, said Gandhi while launching this tough law. This initiative by the Ministry of Women and

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Child Development addresses violence against women in all forms through a mass movement by creating numerous Ahimsa Messengers in various parts of the country, till the grassroots level. Given the spate of violence against women and children in the current context, a full-fledged programme is being started which has the following dimension: a series of awareness building programmes across the nation on gender issues, a series of training and sensitization programmes for grass root level functionaries across the nation, developing and introducing a gender sensitive module/ curriculum which is now being introduced in various training institutes across states. The programme involves both men and women including youths to address and eliminate all forms of violence against women and children at grassroots and facilitate social/community mobilization to fight social evils.This programme will be implemented through all Anganwadi Centres, all Panchayati Raj Institutions, Sabla Girls (in the age group of 16-18 years) and Poorna Shakti Kendras (PSK) coordinators under the National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW) will be trained as Ahimsa Messengers. The Supreme Court collegium on 19 August, has recommended that the acting Chief Justice of the Madras High Court Rajesh Kumar Agrawal be made its Chief Justice. Justice Agrawal assumed office as acting Chief Justice on February 7 this year. The senior most judge of the High Court, Justice R. Banumathi, has been recommended to be appointed as the Chief Justice of the Jharkhand High Court. Justice N.V. Ramana, acting Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court, will be the new Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court. At present, there is no judge from the Andhra Pradesh High Court holding the post of Chief Justice in any High Court. Justice P.C. Pant, senior most judge of the Uttarakhand High Court, is being elevated as the Chief Justice of the Meghalaya High Court. This is the first time an Uttarakhand High Court judge is occupying the position of Chief Justice. These recommendations received by the Law Ministry are being processed and the appointments will be completed in two-three weeks, according to informed sources. The Congress launched its ambitious food security programme in Delhi, Haryana and Uttarakhand on 21 August, on the occasion of Rajiv Gandhis 69th birth anniversary, as the ordinance on the scheme is still in operation though the Lok Sabha once again failed to push the Bill through. Indeed, with the Opposition mounting an attack on the government on the missing files related to the coal blocks allocation scam, the subject was not even discussed in the House. For the Congress leadership, which is determined to pass the Food Security Bill, time is running out this session, which ends on August 30. Now, if the Bill is not legislated by then, the government will have two options to re-promulgate the ordinance or revert to the Public Distribution System in the three Congress-ruled States, where the programme was inaugurated with much fanfare. The government on 23 August 2013 announced the national e-mail policy to protect privacy of email users in India. In the proposed policy all government departments and Indian embassies are being asked to use NIC server for their email correspondence. The NIC server is located in India and it cannot be accessed by any foreign agency. The government is working to enhance its capacity to protect data and information flows by building better cyber and telephony infrastructure and by evolving new cyber and telecom security practices. The government is also promoting Indian players in the information technology sector to develop and offer Internet services by their servers located in India. A major fire broke out on board INS Sindhurakshak at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai on 14 August 2013. An explosion on board damaged the submarine. The fire was doused in time and prevented from spreading to other vessels docked in the vicinity.INS Sindhurakshak is the ninth of the ten Sindhughoshclass diesel-electric submarines of the Indian Navy. On 4 June 2010, the Indian Defence Ministry and Zvezdochka shipyard signed a contract worth US $ 80 million to upgrade and improve the submarine. The submarine suffered two fire incidents, a minor one in 2010 and a major one on 14 August 2013, which led to in its sinking at Mumbai's naval dockyards. Sindhurakshak was constructed in Admiralty Shipyard, St. Petersburg. Construction of the submarine started in 1995 and submarine was launched in June 1997 and delivered in December 1997. A fire broke out aboard Sindhurakshak while the vessel was in Visakhapatnam in February 2010. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) asked all the state governments for establishing the fund as well as formulating the scheme for the purpose of providing compensation to the victims of crime.

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The compensation would be given to the crime victims who suffered injury or loss due to crime. The Ministry of Home Affairs declared that the action was aimed for providing help to victims of all sorts of crimes, especially acid attack victims. The MHA Advisory declared that all the state governments as well as UT administration was required to prepare the scheme for facilitating funds for providing compensation to the victims or dependents of the victims. For the purpose of finalising the scheme, the consultation of Union Government of India could be taken. MHA, in the meanwhile, also declared that draft scheme need to be prepared within a time period of just 4 weeks. The Union Cabinet cleared a proposal to scrap the collegium system of appointing judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts on 22 August 2013. A Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) will be set up which will replace the collegium system of appointing judges to Suprecme Court and High Courts. According to the proposal, the government will set up a panel headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) to appoint and transfer senior judges. The other members of the proposed Commission will comprise the Law Minister, two judges of the Supreme Court, two eminent persons as members and Secretary (Justice) in the Law Ministry as Member Secretary. Moreover, the Leader of the Opposition of either House of Parliament will be part of a committee which will be set up to nominate two eminent persons to the JAC. The committee will also include the CJI and the Prime Minister as other members. A constitutional amendment bill will be tabled in Parliament to approve the proposal. The move to set up JAC will require amendments to Articles 124, 217, 222 and 231 of the Constitution and insertion of Article 124 A. Minister of State in the Ministry of Civil Aviation, K. C. Venugopal informed the Lok Sabha on 23 August, that the Government of India has granted "in-principle" approval for setting up of a Greenfield airport at Kannur in Kerala. The project is to be implemented on Build Own and Operate (BOO) model. The State Government of Kerala has appointed M/s Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (KINFRA) as a nodal agency for the construction of the Kannur Airport. M/s KINFRA has formed a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), namely M/s Kannur International Airport Limited (KIAL), for the development of the airport. Ministry of Environment & Forest has granted necessary environment clearance to the project. M/s KIAL has acquired 1278 acres of land so far. M/s KIAL has requested for financial assistance under Viability Gap Funding (VGF) scheme. Ministry of Civil Aviation has supported the request of M/s KIAL and requested Ministry of Finance to grant the VGF. Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram unveiled the National Skill Certification and Monetary Reward Scheme that will be implemented on pan-India basis on 17 August. The scheme was first proposed by the Finance Minister in the last Union Budget to allocate Rs. 1,000 crore for a scheme that will motivate the youth of this country to acquire a vocational skill. The scheme is expected to benefit a million people in the first year of its implementation. The scheme that is branded as STAR (Standard Training Assessment and Reward) for promotional purposes envisages that a monetary reward that will in essence financially help those who wish to acquire a new skill or upgrade their skills to a higher level. The National Skilling Mission envisages adding 500 million skilled Indians by the year 2022. The Union Cabinet gave its nod to the proposal for establishing the International Centre for Drinking Water Quality in Kolkata on 13th August. The Centre will be registered as a Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, with the requisite manpower, building and support infrastructure. The aim of the Centre is to work in the area of identification, mitigation and management with focus on research and development on drinking water quality related problems in India (both urban and rural) with a focus among other contaminants, also on arsenic and fluoride. The Centre will also provide policy advice on request to the Central and State Governments as also to other countries on demand on water quality issues. The Centre will benefit the entire population of the country through provision of safe and quality drinking water. All States/ districts in the country will be covered as bacteriological contamination is more or less evenly spread and focus will also be made on drinking water quality affected habitations in the States/districts. The total cost of the project will be Rs. 176.64 crore. Janata Party was merged with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) following a meeting of Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy and BJP President Rajnath Singh on 11th August. Subramanian

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Swamy had served as member of the Planning Commission of India. He was also former Cabinet Minister at the Centre and has been a five-time MP. He has been an ardent proponent of Hindutva philosophy and was active in exposing the 2G Spectrum scam. He was a former member of the Jana Sangh. The Janata party was officially launched on 23rd January 1977 when the Janata Morcha, Charan Singh's Bharatiya Lok Dal, Swatantra Party, the Socialist Party of India (Raj Narain and George Fernandes), and the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) came together, merging their separate identities. Morarji Desai was elected the first party chairman. Ramakrishna Hegde was appointed the party general secretary and Lal Krishna Advani became the party spokesperson. Janta Party won the 1977 parliamentary elections but started disintegrating after coming to power and lost the 1980 mid-term election. Slowly and gradually it faded away from the limelight and continued its small existence in the politics of the state of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Chandigarh, Delhi and at the national stage under the chairmanship of Subramanian Swamy. The Union Government has constituted of a High Level Committee on 17th August, to prepare a report on the socio-economic, health and educational status of the tribal communities of India. In keeping with the special status accorded to Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the Constitution of India, the Union Government has affirmed its commitment to improving their socioeconomic status and has taken initiatives that encompass policy, programmatic and legislative interventions. The HLC shall suggest policy initiatives as well as effective outcome-oriented measures to improve development indicators and strengthen public service delivery to STs and other tribal populations. The High Level Committee has the following composition: 1. Prof. Virginius Xaxa - Chairman 2. Dr. Usha Ramanathan - Member 3. Dr. Joseph Bara - Member 4. Dr. K.K. Misra - Member 5. Dr. Abhay Bang Member 6. Ms. Sunila Basant - Member 7. Secretary, M/o Tribal Affairs - Member Secretary .The above HLC will be provided all possible assistance by all Ministries/ Departments and other bodies under the Government to ensure timely collection of data and information to facilitate their task. All pertinent reports available with the Government on tribal and related issues including the reports of Bhuria Committee, Mungekar Committee and of the National Commission of Scheduled Tribes will be made available to HLC. All existing data (including RGI and NSSO data) and data collected by above mentioned Committees will also be made available to HLC. The Rashtriya Uchattar Shiksha Abhiyan proposes to put a ceiling of maximum number of colleges to be affiliated to any university at two hundred. The proposal has been submitted following several State Universities having a large number of colleges affiliated to a single university. For example Osmania University has 901 colleges affiliated to it while 811 colleges are attached to Pune University. This phenomenon negatively affects the academic quality of the University. It is imperative that States create more universities so that affiliation does not result in large number of colleges being tied academically to one university. The one lakh crore rupees scheme when implemented will lead to setting up and upgradation of new colleges and universities. The scheme may also facilitate increased number of students from secondary to higher education. The Rashtriya Uchchatar Abhiyan is a new centrally sponsored flagship umbrella scheme aimed at providing strategic funding to State higher and technical institutions. States will develop comprehensive state higher education plans that utilize an interconnected strategy to address issues of expansion, equity and excellence together. Central funding will be linked to academic, administrative and financial reforms of state higher education. As a part of its social commitment to make Railways friendlier towards specially-abled passengers, Indian Railways has decided to provide Braille stickers in coaches to facilitate visually impaired passengers. Presently coaches are provided with signage, instructions, seat numbers etc. which are mostly in the form of vinyl stickers/metallic plates and have no Braille characters and can not be read by visually impaired passengers. Now it is planned to use stickers with metallic base with printed characters embedded into it. Integral Coach Factory (ICF), a production unit of the Indian Railways has developed the specification for integrated Braille signages in coaches in consultations with Blind associations and

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input received from Research Design & Standards Organization (RDSO) and issued to Railways. The first prototype coach is expected to be turned out from ICF in October 2013 for feedback. This is expected to be a major step for facilitation of visually impaired passengers during journey in trains. Braille printing will be superimposed on these stickers and same can be used by both a person with normal vision and visually impaired person. With embedded picture/characters, there would not be any defacing even on repeated contacts/rubbing. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA)on 2 August, has approved the collaboration project of Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad (IITH) under the Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan by Government of Japan and grants by Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India. The project costing Rs. 1776.50 crore will be financed out of the ODA loan of Rs. 1501.72 crore from the Government of Japan. The balance of Rs. 274.77 crore represent 15.5% non-eligible portion of the project as the Indian portion to be met from grants by MHRD over a period of four years starting from 2013-14 to 2016-17. The project would create value addition through collaborative interactions with academics and the industry of Japan and exchange of students and faculty. This will enhance cooperation between the two nations in the area of science & technology and human resource development. For the Indian side, the project would also help in creation of a number of basic infrastructure facilities and faster scaling up of a quality institution viz. IIT, Hyderabad with benefits for the Indian economy. The IIT, Hyderabad is one of the eight new IITs established by the GOI in 2008 at an estimated cost of Rs.760 crore based on the Cabinets approval in July, 2008. The IIT, Hyderabad and Japan collaboration is an externally aided central sector project emanating from the broader Indo-Japan Collaboration and agreement between the Prime Ministers of India and Japan for a Japanese loan to fund the specific projects of IIT, Hyderabad. The quarterly newsletter of the National Archives of India entitled e-Abhilekh was launched by the Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Ravindra Singh in New Delhi on 1st August. This news bulletin has been planned with the objective of disseminating information for the development of Archives. The inaugural issue provides information about the activities of National Archives of India, States/Union Territories Archives, Archives of Business and other learned institutions for the period April-June 2013. The Cabinet gave its nod to amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act to keep political parties out of the ambit of transparency law on 1st August. The decision to change the RTI Act was taken during a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, official sources said. The move followed after the Central Information Commission (CIC) had in June held that six national parties - Congress, BJP, NCP, CPI-M, CPI and BSP - have been substantially funded indirectly by the central government and were required to appoint Public Information Officers (PIOs) as they have the character of a public authority under the RTI Act. The decision from transparency watchdog evoked sharp reactions from political parties, especially Congress which has been credited with bringing in the transparency law but is opposed to the CIC's directive. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which acts as nodal department for the implementation of the RTI Act, in consultation with Law Ministry decided to amend the law. The government seeks to change the definition of public authorities mentioned under Section 2 of the RTI Act to keep all recognized political parties out of the jurisdiction of RTI, the sources said. The government will have to introduce a Bill in this regard in the monsoon session of Parliament beginning Monday, they said. Congress and the UPA unanimously decided to create a separate Telangana State carving out of Andhra Pradesh on 30 July 2013.The Congress Working Committee (CWC), the highest decision-making body of Congress Party, on 30 July 2013 decided to recommend to the Central Government to form the 29th State which will comprise of 10 districts. The districts that will be a part of the new State are Hyderabad, Adilabad, Karimnagar, Khammam, Mahaboobnagar, Medak, Nalgonda, Nizamabad, Rangareddy and Warangal.Hyderabad, the central point of the Telangana, will be the common capital of the newly proposed State and the other regions, Rayalaseema and Andhra for a period of 10 years. A new capital for Andhra will be identified in Seemandhra region within this period. Telangana State will have a geographical area of 10 of the 23 districts of undivided Andhra Pradesh. Out of 42 Lok Sabha seats and 294 Assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana is likely to have 17 Lok Sabha seats and 119 Assembly seats.

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Andhra Pradesh government extended the ban on CPI (Maoist) and its several front organisations on 8th August for a period of one year from August 17. The government had declared the top Naxal outfit as an unlawful association in 2005 for one year and has been extending the ban every year since then."The government has reviewed the matter and is of the opinion that the Communist Party of India (Maoist) is continuing to indulge in unlawful activities," a G.O. issued by the Chief Secretary said here. "Its unlawful activities, if not stopped, will constitute a serious danger and menace to public order, peace and tranquility," it said. The front organisations against whom the ban has been extended include the Radical Students Union, Radical Youth League and Rythu Coolie Sangham, among others. The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology inaugurated Data portal of India in New Delhi on 8 August 2013. The portal - www.data.gov.in - is aimed at sharing more and more data as it empowers and connects to policy making. It will also help in bringing more transparency in the system and continuing the information revolution which started with the RTI act. The information revolution that started with the Right to Information Act has brought us to a stage where government is now willing to share data with everybody because we realised that is the absence of data you cannot yet appropriate decision making. Open Data Application and Data portal is a part of Manmohan-Obama Initiative which allows plugging in all type of data. The Rajya Sabha passed the much-awaited Companies Bill on 8th August, replacing the decades old Companies Act, 1956. The Bill had been passed by the Lok Sabha in December last year. Here are the top 10 facts about the Bill: Now that both houses of Parliament have passed the Bill, it will go to President Pranab Mukherjee for his assent before it becomes law, following which the Ministry of Corporate Affairs will issue a notification. The new rules make the earmarking of funds by companies for corporate social responsibility (CSR) spending mandatory. Companies are required to spend at least 2 per cent of their net profit on CSR. The companies will also have to give preference to the local areas of their operation for such spending. If they are unable to meet CSR norms, they will have to give explanations and may even face penalty. To help in curbing a major source of corporate delinquency, the Bill introduces punishment for falsely inducing a person to enter into any agreement with bank or financial institution, with a view to obtaining credit facilities. The new legislation has more provisions to guard the interests of employees. It mandates payment of two years' salary to employees in case a company shuts operations. The appointment of auditors for five years shall be subject to ratification by members at every annual general meeting. Also, the limit in respect of maximum number of companies in which a person may be appointed as auditor has been proposed as 20. Independent directors shall be excluded for the purpose of computing "one-third of retiring directors". The maximum number of directors in a private company has been increased from 12 to 15, which can be increased further by special resolution. The financial year of any company can end only on March 31 and the only exception is for companies which are holding/subsidiary of a foreign entity requiring consolidation outside India. It also makes auditors subject to criminal liability if they knowingly or recklessly omit certain information from their reports. The Bill has a provision that keeps tabs on exorbitant remunerations for the board of directors and other executives of the companies. This will protect the interest of shareholders as well as employees. The National Green Tribunal restrained sand mining activity on riverbeds across the country, which is being carried out without obtaining environmental clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests on 5th August. The tribunal stated that besides violations of law, the mining activity is being carried out on a large scale, causing state revenue loss which may be running into lakhs of crores of rupees. The five-member bench headed by tribunal chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar directed the states to reply by 14 August 2013.The bench stated that the contention is that majority of people carrying out the mining activity of removing mineral from the river bed have no license to extract sand. In the meanwhile, the Tribunal restrains any person, company, authority to carry out any mining activity or removal of sand, from river beds anywhere in the country without obtaining environmental clearance from environment ministry and license from the competent authorities.

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The hand-woven Pashmina shawls of Kashmir were accredited with the Geographical Indication (GI) mark. The Chief Minister of Kashmir Omar Abdullah, on 5 August launched the Kashmir Pashmina GI mark, which will now be imprinted on all hand-woven Pashmina Shawls, in the form of label. This GI Mark will be imprinted at Testing and Quality Certification Centre. The Centre was inaugurated on 5th August 2013 by Omar Abdullah at Craft Development Centre. The GI Mark labels will be attached to Pashmina shawl after it has been tested on weaving technology, spinning method, originality of fabric as well as fineness of thread. The mark of Kashmir Pashmina will also provide details of the manufacturer as well as quality of shawl. The label will also carry a number, which will be verifiable from official website. This move will help in restoring the handicrafts of Kashmir. It will also help in economic prosperity of the artisans. The Government of Kashmir has already achieved the GI for six handicrafts, which will have same testing facilities. The National Museum Institute in New Delhi on 7 August, launched Yuva Saathi, the Young Visitor Programme in the National Museum. The programme was launched by the Minister of Culture Smt. Chandresh Kumari Katoch. She also awarded certificates to the volunteers participated in the Pathpardarshak and Yuva Saathi training programme. Yuva Saathi is a pioneering programme in India aimed at engaging young minds in a dialogue with the National Museum. The Programme envisages the deployment of Volunteer guides, Yuva Saathi, to provided guided tours to school children. The programme intends to make National Museum a place of learning and fun for the young visitors and their teachers. Yuva Saathis are undergraduate students from various colleges of Delhi trained specifically to guide children in the National Museum. It is for the first time that a guide programme exclusively for children is being launched in an Indian Museum. The programme caters solely to School Groups. The Defence Minister A.K. Antony in a written reply to H.K. Dua in Rajya Sabha on 7 August, that the Government is aware of the development of Gwadar Port in Pakistan with Chinese funding and of the reports of handing over the control of port operations to a Chinese firm. The port could be used for military purposes in future. Government keeps a constant watch on all developments concerning our national security and commercial interests and takes all necessary measures to safeguard them in accordance with the prevailing security situation and strategic considerations. China has also participated in the Indian Ocean Region in development projects like ports, deep sea mining, ocean research as well as anti-piracy operations. The Minister of Culture Chandresh Kumari Katoch has informed in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on 6th August that the two nomination dossiers namely the Hill Forts of Rajasthan from State Government of Rajasthan and the Qutb Shahi Monuments of Hyderabad from State Government of Andhra Pradesh were received and forwarded to the World Heritage Centre (WHC). Out of these, the Hill Forts of Rajasthan has been inscribed on the World Heritage List. No proposal has been received from the State of Odisha. Katoch said, two members ICOMOS Advisory Mission visited India in November, 2012 for evaluation of Hill Forts which has been inscribed on the World Heritage List during 37th Session of World Heritage Committee held in Cambodia in June, 2013. The proposals on Qutb Shahi Monuments of Hyderabad, Majuli Island (Assam) and Rani-ki-Vav, Patan (Gujrat) under Cultural Category and the Great Himalayan National Park (Himachal Pradesh) under Natural Category have been submitted to WHC. Conservation of all World Heritage monuments/sites under Archaeological Survey of India are being preserved and maintained by the department and are in a good state of preservation, the Minister added. Minister of State for Civil Aviation, K.C. Venugopal informed Lok Sabha on 8th August, that Kolkata and Chennai airports have been modernized at a cost of Rs. 2,325 crore and Rs. 2,015 crore respectively. The Task Force on Financing Plan for development of airports constituted under the Planning Commission has recommended that operations and management of Chennai and Kolkata Airports could be taken up through Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode. Airports Authority of India (AAI) has suggested that management, maintenance and operation of these two airports be undertaken by formation of JVs with world class Airport Operators, with AAI being lead partner. As a first step, an Inter Ministerial Group (IMG) has been constituted to evolve, recommend and monitor the implementation of the appropriate

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model for achieving the desired objectives of operation and management of these airports with private participation. Government has released the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) on June 30, 2008. NAPCC comprises, inter alia, of eight National Missions in specific areas of Solar Energy, Enhanced Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Habitat, Water, Sustaining the Himalayan Eco-system, Green India, Sustainable Agriculture and Strategic knowledge for Climate Change. This was stated by Jayanthi Natarajan Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment and Forests, in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on 8 August. The Minister further stated that as a follow-up to the announcement made by Prime Minister in the State Environment Ministers Meeting held in August, 2009, States have been advised to prepare the State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC) in-line with the objectives of the NAPCC. 22 states namely, Andaman and Nicobar, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir, Kerala, Karnataka, Lakshadweep, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odhisa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttrakhand, Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal have prepared the SAPCC. Jharkhand State is yet to submit the SAPCC report to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Minister added. Union Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister, K.V. Thomas on 7 August, introduced National Food Security Bill in Loksabha to replace the National Food Security Ordinance, 2013 which was promulgated on 5th July, 2013.The National Food Security Bill is a historic initiative

for ensuring food and nutritional security to the people. It gives right to the people to receive adequate quantity of food grains at affordable prices. The Bill has special focus on nutritional support to poorest of the poor, women and children. In case of non-supply of food grains now
people will get Food Security Allowance. The bill provides for grievance redressal mechanism and penalty for non compliance by public servant or authority. Other features of the Bill are as follows: Coverage of two thirds population to get highly subsidized food grains up to 75% of the rural population and up to 50% of the urban population will have uniform entitlement of 5 kg food grains per month at highly subsidized prices of Rs. 3, Rs. 2, and Rs. 1 per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains respectively. It will entitle about two thirds of our 1.2 billion population to subsidized food grains under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS). Poorest of the poor continue to get 35 kg per household The poorest of poor households would continue to receive 35 Kg food grains per household per month under Antyodaya Anna Yajna at subsidized prices of Rs 3, Rs. 2 and Rs. 1. It is also proposed to protect the existing allocation of food grains to the States/Uts, subject to it being restricted to average annual off take during last three years. Eligible households to be identified by the States Corresponding to the coverage of 75% rural and 50 % of urban population at all India level, State wise coverage will be determined by the Central Government. The work of identification of eligible households is left to the States/UTs, which may frame their own criteria or use Social Economic and Caste Census data, if they so desire. Special focus on nutritional support to women and children There is a special focus on nutritional support to women and children. Pregnant women and lactating mothers, besides being entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed nutritional norms will also receive maternity benefit of at least of Rs. 6000. Children in the age group of 6 months to 14 years will be entitled to take home ration or hot cooked food as per prescribed nutritional norms. Food Security Allowance in case of non supply of food grains The Central Government will provide funds to States/UTs in case of short supply of food grains from

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Central pool, In case of non-supply of food grains or meals to entitled persons, the concerned State/UT Governments will be required to provide such food security allowance as may be prescribed by the Central Government to the beneficiaries. States to get assistance for intra-State transportation and handling of food grains In order to address the concern of the States regarding additional financial burden, Central Government will provide assistance to the States towards cost of intra-State transportation, handling of food grains and FPS dealers margin, for which norms will be developed. This will ensure timely transportation and efficient handling of food grains. Reforms for doorstep delivery of food grains The Bill also contains provisions for reforms in PDS through doorstep delivery of food grains, application of information and communication technology (ICT) including end to end computerization, leveraging Aadhaar for unique identification of beneficiaries, diversification of commodities under TPDS etc for effective implementation of the Food Security Act. Some of these reforms are already underway. Women Empowerment-- Eldest women will be Head of the household Eldest woman of eighteen years of age or above will be head of the household for issue of ration card, and if not available, the eldest male member is to be the head of the household. Grievance redressal mechanism at district level There will be state and district level redressal mechanism with designated officers. The States will be allowed to use the existing machinery for District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO), State Food Commission, if they so desire, to save expenditure on establishment of new redressal set up. Redressal mechanism may also include call centers, helpline etc. Social audits and vigilance committees to ensure transparency and accountability Provisions have also been made for disclosure of records relating to PDS, social audits and setting up of Vigilance Committees in order to ensure transparency and accountability. Penalty for non compliance The Bill provides for penalty to be imposed on public servants or authority, if found guilty of failing to comply with the relief recommended by the District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO). Expenditure At the proposed coverage of entitlement, total estimated annual food grains requirement is 612.3 lakh tons and corresponding estimated food subsidy for 2013-14 costs is about Rs.1,24,724 crore. K. Rahman Khan, the Union Minister for Minority Affairs launched a dedicated toll free Helpline with brand name Khidmat, in New Delhi on 8 August. Dedicating Khidmat helpline to the minority people of India, the Minister expressed hope to fulfill the dream of Father of Nation Mahatma Gandhi for inclusive growth of all sections, particularly deprived sections of Society. Speaking on the occasion K. Rahman Khan said that the service will empower minorities through up to date information. With helpline being operational, initially, it will remain open from 9:00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. on all working days he, added. Depending on success and demand, the Ministry may go even for 24X7 helpline with upgraded facilities. In the changing India, when phone services and mobiles have reached every nook and corner, the dedicated helpline would be a better idea to spread information about development and welfare programmes and related complaints. The right information in time is the power, the Ministry through Khidmat helpline endeavours to hand over power to the minority people of all levels equally, the Minister added. This helpline would not only help in inclusive growth of minorities but will also increase transparency and efficiency in governance. With launch of this helpline, a student sitting in a village or remote area can get instant information at his or her leisure about scholarship schemes. An unemployed minority youth can get

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instant information about skill development training programmes run by Ministry and employment opportunities. Ministry of Rural Development has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Pradan, a nongovernmental organization to undertake developmental and training activities in hard core naxal affected districts in the country. Briefing the media after the signing of the agreement, the Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh said in New Delhi on 6 August, that the scheme will be implemented in some of the naxal affected districts of Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha in the first phase. The Minister said that organization like Pradan should work in these difficult areas as government agencies face a lot of problems in implementing developmental projects due to naxal threat. He said, two projects will be taken up initially by setting up NRLM ( National Rural Livelihoods Mission) support organization on Livelihoods, besides extensive training of the women self help groups. In the first project, 18,000 families will be helped through production and marketing of Tasar Silk in Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal in the coming three years with a budget of Rs 50 crore. The second project will be Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana and it will be implemented in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Odisha with a budget of Rs. 20 Crore. The Project is likely to benefit 18,000 families, where sustainable agriculture will be promoted through women headed households and it is estimated that income of the self help gropus will increase by 15 to 20 per cent by cutting on harmful chemicals and pesticides. Third component of the Programme will be training of the girls for alternative sources of livelihood. The Minister said the fourth issue is about the health and malnutrition problems that will be tackled by mobilising local communities.

September

The Union Minister for Culture Chandresh Kumari Katoch on 16th September unveiled the Brass Plate World Heritage Plaque at the Chittorgarh Fort, Rajasthan and released brochures on the Fort in Hindi & English. Chittorgarh Fort is one of the six hill forts of Rajasthan recently inscribed in the World Heritage List by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO. The selection was approved in June 2013 in the 37th Session of the Committee. The Union Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister Dr. Girija Vyas was also present on the occasion as a distinguished guest. Both the Ministers also jointly inaugurated the restored topkhana and a photo exhibition in kumbha palace on the occasion. Smt. Katoch lauded the people of Rajasthan for preserving rich cultural heritage of the country for centuries and said, both the international and domestic tourists always list Rajasthan as their preferred destination. 'Kanoon Lugat', an Urdu law dictionary, billed as a first of its kind in the country, was released in Mumbai on 15th September, in the presence of legal luminaries. The dictionary, encompassing 52,000 legal terms, has been translated in Urdu for the first time, said chief translator and Supreme Court advocate Muhammad Irshad Hanif. Advocate Hanif has also translated Indian Penal Code and Indian Evidence Act in Urdu, besides publishing two books 'Taziraat-e-Hind' and 'Qanoon Shahadat-eHind'. The Urdu legal dictionary has a foreword written by Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir. Jamiat Ulama-e-Maharashtra legal panel member, lawyer Shahid N Ansari said this is the first time that line-to-line translation of the two laws is available in Urdu. The Union Cabinet on 20th September, approved the following proposals of the National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Policy : i) to implement and monitor of the Policy through National and State ECCE Councils; ii) to develop National Early Childhood Care and Education Curriculum Framework and Quality Standards and circulate to the States/Union Territories (UTs) for preparation of Action Plans and implementation by States /UTs; and iii) to delegate of power to the Ministry of Women and Child Development to make necessary changes.

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The Policy would help to 158.7 million Indian children under six years of age who need holistic and integrated early childhood care. In particular it would enable preschool education inputs for their optimum development to realize their potential. The vision of the National ECCE Policy is to promote inclusive, equitable and contextualized opportunities for promoting optimal development and active learning capacity of all children below 6 years of age. The Policy focus is on early preschool learning for every child below six years. The key areas of this policy are universal access with equity and inclusion, quality in ECCE, strengthening capacity, monitoring and supervision, advocacy, research and review. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 21st September laid the foundation stone of the Kishangarh Airport in Ajmer district. Dr. Singh said Kishangarh has become fully accessible to tourists, which will rake in economic progress for the state. Dr. Singh stated that commercial airports are expected to grow throughout the country as the number of air travelers is expected to appreciate to 30 million by 2020.Kishangarh airport started to be developed under this effort (airports in smaller cities) is the first project. This number is expected to grow in the coming time, Dr. Singh said the airport, which is likely to start operations in 2016, would cater to pilgrims who visit the Ajmer Dargah and Pushkar Lake. The project for development of Chhindwara as a Tourist Circuit in Madhya Pradesh, with Central Financial Assistance from Government of India was launched on September 21, 2013 by the Union Minister of Tourism (Independent charge), Dr K. Chiranjeevi and the Union Urban Development & Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Dr. Kamal Nath. The Ministry of Tourism is continuously striving for creating better infrastructure, developing new tourism destinations and bringing them on the national and international tourism map. Dr Chiranjeevi informed that in view of the immense tourism potential in Chhindwara the scope of the tourist destination development project was agreed to be enhanced as the development of Chhindwara as a tourist circuit, with the inclusion of the famous Khedapati Mandir, Chakravyuha water falls in the Ananjangaon Harrai, development of surroundings of Pataleshwar Mandir, Chhote Mahadev Temple Tamia, Sharda Ghat Burman, Narsinghpur and Mundhara, Distt. Seoni etc, thereby considering additional funds of approximately Rs. 300.00 lakh. The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the 11th Asian Pacific Postal Union (APPU) Congress on 3 September at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi. Speaking on the occasion, the President said that the Asian Pacific Postal Union, an inter-governmental organization of 32 countries of the region is actively working to improve cooperation among member nations in the field of postal services. He stated that the changing global scenario calls for postal administrations around the world to think differently. He called upon postal administration to be proactive to change. They must leverage their strengths to provide quality service to the people. He stated that worldwide, postal administrations enjoy the trust of people. The President said that globalization and easier movement of workforce across nations have opened a great window of opportunity for the postal sector. With increasing requirement for remittance channels, it can, with the guidance of the Asian Pacific Postal Union, make a difference. He added that there is a huge scope for postal services to be engaged in e-commerce, and gain from the rising demand for such business products. The Union Cabinet on 3rd September, approved the proposal for setting up of the Bharat Rural Livelihood Foundation (BRLF) as an independent charitable society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 to facilitate and upscale civil society action in partnership with Government for transforming livelihoods and lives of rural households, with an emphasis on women, particularly in the Central Indian Tribal Region. It will provide financial grants to Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to meet their human resource and institutional costs for up scaling of proven interventions; invest in institutional strengthening of smaller CSOs and capacity building of professional resources working at the grassroots. Projects supported by BRLF would be able to reach 10 lakh poor families by the end of the fifth year. BRLF would also have supported the capacity building of 1,000 CSO professionals and institutional strengthening of a significant number of smaller CSOs within the above time frame. Even though BRLF will have an India wide mandate, the initial focus of the organization will be on the Central Indian Tribal Region, centered on blocks having significant tribal population across 170 districts in the States of Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat. Rs 500 crore will be released for creating the corpus fund of the new Society, in two tranches. The society will be constituted as a partnership between Government on the one hand and private sector philanthropies, private and public sector undertakings (under Corporate Social Responsibility) on the other hand.

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The Union Cabinet on 3rd September approved the proposal for setting up of an autonomous "National Institute of Solar Energy" (NISE) to assist the Ministry and function as the apex national centre for research and technology development and related activities in the area of solar energy technologies in the country. The National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) is to be set up immediately by converting the Solar Energy Centre (SEC), Gurgaon with a long term vision to develop it as a world class institute. A broad based national team in the form of a Review-cum-Strategy Formulation Committee would be set up with representation from industry, the scientific community, financial institutions etc. to prepare a blue print. This committee would look at various models available in the country and outside and prepare a roadmap for the Institute. Setting up of an apex national centre for Solar Energy is a part of the JNNSM, which was considered by the Prime Minister`s Council on Climate Change in August, 2009. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) and other related proposals were approved by the Govt. in November, 2009. While approving the JNNSM, the Govt. also approved specific targets and budget for the first phase of the Mission till March, 2013. This includes R&D in solar energy, including setting up of a Centre of Excellence as an apex centre on different aspects of solar energy technologies.

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January
Union Minister for Tourism K. Chiranjeevi held bilateral discussions with Spanish Minister for Industry, Tourism & Trade Mr Jose Manuel Soria Lopez in Madrid on 31 January. Both the countries agreed to set up Indo-Spain Tourism Promotion Forum for building a dialogue between the stakeholders of tourism, travel and hospitality industry of India and Spain. Spanish side showed keen interest to invest in Hotel sector in India which has 100% Foreign Direct Investment. Both sides emphasized on direct air connectivity between India and Spain. A delegation led by Ms. Isabel Maria Barrege Cortes, Secretary of State of Spanish Tourism will visit India shortly to take forward these proposals. New Delhi will be hosting the 1st Joint working group meeting on tourism co-operation between India and Spain in near future. Union Tourism Minister Chiranjeevi on 1 February, met the Secretary General of United Nation World Tourism Organization Taleb Rifai in Madrid, Spain, and discussed issues relating to tourism cooperation. "During the talks, the Secretary General and the Tourism Minister emphasized on the proactive approach to make tourism an important global political and economic agenda," a Tourism Ministry release said. Chiranjeevi also told Rifai about efforts taken by the Indian government to ease the visa regime. Chiranjeevi also invited Rifai for 25th Joint Meeting of UNWTO Commissions for East Asia and the Pacific and South Asia. The meeting will be held in Hyderabad on 12th and 13th April. India and the United States inaugurated the first triangular India-US-Africa partnership in agricultural training at the National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE), Hyderabad, on 6 January 2013 for 30 trainees from three African countries Kenya, Liberia and Malawi. The three-year triangular partnership program aims to improve agricultural productivity, strengthen agricultural value chains, and support market institutions in Kenya, Liberia, and Malawi. Supported by the U.S. Government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture of India, and implemented by two of Indias leading agricultural training institutes - National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE), Hyderabad, and the Chaudhary Charan Singh National Institute of Agricultural Marketing (NIAM), Jaipur, the program will train 180 mid-level African Government and private sector agriculture professionals from Kenya, Malawi, and Liberia in agricultural extension practices, agri-business, and agricultural marketing. The training will include classroom sessions, group work, field trips, and interaction with industry experts. After their training, these professionals will go home with new knowledge, skills, and potential innovations to address their domestic challenges in food and nutrition security. The 14th Session of the India - Australia Joint Ministerial Commission convened in New Delhi on 29 January, 2013. The Commission was co-chaired by Anand Sharma, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles, India and the Dr. Craig Emerson MP, Australian Minister for Trade and Competitiveness and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Asian Century Policy. Mr. Sharma and Dr. Emerson emphasised the importance of closer trade and investment relations as a critical component of the strategic partnership. The Ministers underlined the importance of a solid institutional framework to facilitate future growth in bilateral trade and investment. In this context, they highlighted the priority they placed on the conclusion of a mutually beneficial Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). The Ministers recognized the critical role played by industry in driving trade and investment between the two countries. In this regard, they expressed their strong support for the initiatives of the India Australia CEO Forum, co-chaired by Mr. Lindsay Fox AC and Mr. Naveen Jindal. The Ministers welcomed the launch of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations towards a modern, comprehensive, high quality, and mutually beneficial regional economic partnership agreement. They discussed their mutual commitment to strengthening the East Asia Summit (EAS) as a forum that incorporated all the major economies in the IndiaPacific region. The Ministers discussed the importance of consolidating the G20 as the pre-eminent global economic forum. The Ministers underlined their commitment to reinforce the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), both during India's remaining period as chair and Australia's two year term as chair from November 2013. The Ministers welcomed the inaugural Ministerial-level dialogue on energy security in December 2012 as a significant step in developing a strategic relationship on energy and resources. Ministers also welcomed the decision of the Australian Government on uranium exports to India, and the announcement to commence negotiations on a bilateral civil nuclear energy cooperation agreement in March 2013. They noted the significant growth in the bilateral agricultural cooperation, including the establishment and first meeting of the Joint Working Group on Agriculture held in New Delhi in

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September and the proposed first meeting of the Joint Working Group on Wool and Woolen products in February 2013. They announced plans for Australia and India to host a regional Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) workshop in 2013. They also commended the work by both countries in improving market access for meat and horticultural products. The Ministers warmly welcomed the success of Oz Fest, Australia's largest ever cultural festival in India including educational and business events in 18 locations all over India. The Ministers agreed that the next Joint Ministerial Commission will be held in Australia in 2014. Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Minister for New & Renewable Energy on 30 January, met Spanish delegation led by Ms. Carmen Vela Olmo, Minister of State for Research, Development and Innovation. Both the leaders agreed to enhance research, cooperation and technologies in the field of Renewable Energy. Besides, research projects in the area of forecasting of wind power and fabrication of cost effective solar cells will be considered for financing by the Indian and Spanish governments. The Spanish Minister, Ms. Carmen Vela Olmo is currently on a 3 day visit to India. During the meeting, the two ministers agreed to initiate a second call for research proposals so as to encourage joint research and development activities between research institutions as well as industry groups of both the countries. The joint Indo-Spanish programme for Technological cooperation in Renewable Energy was developed as a consequence of the visit of the Minister of New & Renewable Energy, to Spain last year. Following the signing of the agreement in May, 2012, a joint call for project proposals was published. Proposals on various aspects on Renewable Energy involving industry and R & D institutions in both the countries and covering all aspects of Renewable Energy. India is the fifth largest country in the world in terms of wind power installed capacity. In addition, Indias National Solar Mission aims to facilitate the installation of 20000 MW of grid connected power capacity by 2020. Spain is the 4th largest producer of wind generated power and is top-ranked worldwide in terms of photovoltaic solar power capacity. The Solar Platform of Almeria (PSA), run under the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness is considered one of the largest and best R&D facilitates for Concentrating Solar Power Technologies. India and Bangladesh on 29 January, signed two landmark agreements to extradite criminals and terrorists and liberalise the visa regime. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and his Bangladesh counterpart, Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir, signed the agreements on the first of the two-day Home Ministers meeting in Dhaka. However, refusal provisions have been built into the extradition treaty, which India waited for long. If extradition of someone poses a threat to national security, either country may refuse the deportation request. No political detainee will be brought within the purview of the treaty. If a controversy arose during an extradition process, officials explained, the matter would be settled as per the laws of the country concerned. The other agreement provides for a friendlier visa regime for Bangladeshis. Businessmen will be given a five-year, multiple-entry visa. Those travelling on medical grounds will get a two-year, multiple-entry visa, extendable for one more year. Three attendants of a patient will also be entitled to visa. Until now, India has been granting Bangladeshi tourists visas for up to six months and has allowed one person to accompany a patient. Earlier in the day, the Bangladesh Cabinet approved the extradition treaty at its regular meeting presided over by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The Indian Cabinet approved it on January 24. 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

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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 potential, 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 Dr. 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 1011 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

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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 theme 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 Indians; 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.

February
Mr.Maxime Bernier, Minister of Tourism, Canada called on Union Tourism Minister K Chiranjeevi in New Delhi on 26 February. Both sides resolved to strengthen cooperation in tourism sector. It was also decided that both the countries will identify areas for working together and explore new opportunities in tourism sector especially in the field of human resource development, exchange of tour operators, investment in the tourism sector and exchange of information related to tourism sector. The possibility of signing an agreement/MoU between India and Canada was also discussed. It was also agreed that Tour Operators and Travel Agents of both the countries will interact with each other in order to promote two way tourism between India and Canada. The possibilities of promoting more package

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tours in either of the countries could also be explored by the travel trade of two countries. Both sides also explored the possibilities of promoting joint venture investment in the field of hotel industry and tourism infrastructural sector. Now that Hotels and Tourism sector has been opened for Foreign direct investment up to 100% on automatic routes, Canadian investment in tourism infrastructure in India could be one of the major areas of cooperation. Canada is one of Indias primary source markets. Foreign tourist arrivals from Canada to India have increased considerably over the past few years. The Union Minister of Steel, Beni Prasad Verma recently led a delegation to Brazil to strengthen cooperation between the two nations in steel & mining. During the visit, a Letter of Intent (LoI) was signed by the Secretary, Ministry of Steel on behalf of Government of India and by the Executive Secretary (Mines & Energy) on behalf of the Government of Brazil on 7th February. The LoI inter-alia aims to promote and expand bilateral relations between the two countries in the mineral sector with focus on strengthening the supply chain for the growth of the steel industry in both the countries. The Letter of Intent aims to encourage investment opportunities in iron & steel related businesses by the Indian and the Brazilian companies in India and Brazil, facilitate exchange of technical know-how in developing the iron and steel production and other steel related raw materials, including pelletisation plants and other associated industries. Both the Governments would jointly work for developing the steel industry and to exchange technically qualified manpower for sustainable growth of the iron & steel industry. The possibility of signing a Memorandum of Understanding during the forthcoming visit of the President of Brazil to India is also being explored. Both India and Brazil have been showing robust growth in the consumption of steel and are globally viewed as the two large emerging markets after China in terms of their growth potential. The Health Ministers of India and Bangladesh signed an MoU on Health in New Delhi on 12 February. While GhulamNabi Azad, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare signed on behalf of Government of India, Dr. A. F. M. RuhalHaque, Health Minister signed on behalf of Government of Bangladesh.The salient features of the MoU between India and Bangladesh are as follows: The main areas of cooperation between the two Governments will include the following: 1. Exchange of medical doctors, other health professionals and experts: 2. Development of human resources. 3. Exchange of information on health. 4. Medical and health research development. 5. Regulations of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and cosmetics. 6. Health promotion and disease prevention. 7. Fostering cooperation for the development of culturally sensitive and effective public and professional awareness campaign including clinical are practices and best practices guidelines for healthcare providers and caretakers to benefit individuals and families touched by Autism Spectrum Disorders and Developmental Disabilities 8. Any other area of cooperation as may be mutually decided upon.

India and Japan have resolved to strengthen cooperation in tourism sector. This was decided at a meeting between the visiting Japanese Senior Vice-Minister of Tourism, Mr. Hiroshi Kajiyama and Union Tourism Minister K Chiranjeevi in New Delhi on 12 February. It was also decided that both the countries will identify areas for working together and explore new opportunities in tourism sector especially in the field of human resource development, exchange of tour operators, investment in the tourism sector and exchange of information related to tourism sector. The possibility of signing an agreement/MoU between India and Japan was also discussed.India and Japan are important tourism markets to each other. Japan is one of the top ten tourist generating markets for India as for as inbound tourism is concerned. There is a strong interest of Japanese Tourists in places connected with Buddhism in India. JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) has extended loan of 7331 million Japanese Yen (Rs.299 Crore) for Development of Ajanta Ellora Conservation and Development Programme Phase II). Ministry of Tourism will be holding road shows in Tokyo on 18th and Osaka on 20th of this month A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in New Delhi on 14 February, between the Ministry of Railways, Government of India and the Socit Nationale des Chemins de Fer Franais (SNCF), the French National Railways, for Technical cooperation in the field of Railways. The MoU was signed by Vinay Mittal, Chairman, Railway Board, from Indian side and Mr G.Pepy, Chairman and CEO SNCF from the French side. The MoU was signed in the presence of H.E. Francois Hollande, the

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President of France.Four areas of cooperation have been identified in the MoU. These are: 1. High speed and semi-high speed rail; 2. Station renovation and operations; 3. Modernisation of current operations and infrastructure; 4. Suburban trains. Under the High Speed Cooperation Programme, the Parties have decided to carry out jointly an operations and development feasibility project on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail. This project will be funded by SNCF with a support from the French Ministry of Finance. The MoU is valid for a period of 5 years and is extendable by 1 year with mutual consent. Specific cooperation projects would be undertaken under the MoU as agreed by both the parties. India and France on 14 February 2013 agreed to strengthen counter terrorism and intelligence cooperation between the two countries during the visit of French President Francois Holllande to India. Both nations exchanged views on a number of bi-lateral, regional and multilateral issues. India and France also reviewed progress on the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project and reiterated our commitment to its early implementation as soon as the commercial and technical negotiations, which have made good progress, are completed. Both the nations also concluded negotiations on the short range surface to Air missile to be co-produced in India. They also agreed on the need to reinvigorate economic engagement between the two countries. Moreover, they had in-depth discussion on the defence cooperation issue including submarines and missiles. Other Important India-France Agreements 1. Both the nations agreed to strengthen cooperation in the fields of the modernisation of the railway, high speed corridors and network upgradation of railway stations. 2. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and France's CNES under the space cooperation programme, jointly identified the means to pursue further cooperation. 3. A pact was changed to increase exchanges between the sportspersons, artists, architects, researchers, teachers, students to improve people- to- people contacts. 4. The cooperation between various Indian and French educational institutions was finalised. 5. MoU was signed between Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and France's CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) 6. CFA(Credit Facility Agreement) was signed for the Bangalore Metro Rail Project, Phase-1 between Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance and the French Development Agency(AFD)

Prime Minister of Bhutan, Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley was on the home visit to India from 7 February to 9 February 2013. During his visit to India he met with President of India, Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Vice-President of India-Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister- Manmohan Singh, Minister of Finance-P Chidambaram and Foreign Secretary-Ranjan Mathai. His visit was aimed at improving IndiaBhutan bilateral relationship. Thinley is the Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Bhutan from 2008, after Bhutan became a democratic country. Bhutan became the youngest democracy of the world on 6 November 2008. Lyonchhen served as the Prime Minister of Bhutan twice before introduction of Democracy in the nation and the period included July 1998 to July 1999 and August 2003 to August 2004. A delegation led by the Union Minister of Steel, Beni Prasad Verma met with the President of Uruguay, Mr. Jose Mujica in Montevideo on 6th February, 2013. The Union Minister of Steel and the President of Uruguay discussed points to improve co-operation in the mining sector between the two countries. Also present during the meeting were the Minister of Industry, Energy and Mining, Government of Uruguay Mr. Roberto Kreimerman and other ministers. The President of Uruguay welcomed the Indian Steel Minister and thanked him for visiting Uruguay. Both expressed their strong desire to increase trade turnover in the coming years. The Steel Minister invited the Uruguayan Trade and Industry to participate in the Indian Trade Exhibitions and conduct roadshows for more joint ventures, transfer of technology and inviting Indian investment for setting up production facilities in Uruguay for exports to other Latin American countries. The Steel Minister thanked the President of Uruguay for showing interest to collaborate with India in the mining sector. Later on the same day the Minister of Steel met with the Minister of Industry, Energy and Mining, Government of Uruguay, Mr. Roberto Kreimerman in Montevideo. The two ministers discussed various aspects of joint exploration and production of minerals in the Latin American country. Speaking on the occasion Mr. Verma said, There is a huge potential for mining of iron ore, granite, gold and diamond, which can be explored by Indian companies in Uruguay. I believe the two countries can collaborate to utilize each others strength in areas of mineral exploration.

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During the visit a Letter of Intent (LoI) was signed between Mr D.R.S. Chaudhary, Secretary Steel, Government of India and Mr Roberto Kreimerman, Minister, Industry, Energy & Mining, Government of Uruguay to explore and encourage investment opportunity in iron and steel sector and to facilitate exchange of technical knowhow in iron ore and steel related raw materials. The visit of the Indian delegation was successful in establishing a firm base for mineral exploration and production by Indian firms in Uruguay. India and Austria on 5 February 2013 inked a social security pact at Vienna, under which the Indian professionals working in Austria would be exempted from paying the social security contribution of the country, if such payments are already made in India. Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi and Austrian Minister for Labour and Social Security, Rudoulf Hundstorfer signed the pact. The pact of social security between the two countries would also boost cooperation of the labour market expansion in Austria, the country that is a home for more than 17000 Indian professionals. The Union Cabinet on 7 February, gave its approval for formation of the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Pipeline Project and to permit GAIL India Ltd. to join the SPV. The four countries involved in the TAPI Gas pipeline project, signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement along with a Gas Pipeline Framework Agreement (GPFA). To accelerate the project, parties have formed the Minister Level Steering Committee and Technical Working Group (TWO). Suitable provisions for security & safety of the pipeline have been made in the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) and Gas Pipeline Framework Agreement (GPFA).The SPV would take up the Feasibility Study and Design work of the TAPl pipeline to meet the agreed timelines for the project, as well as search for a consortium lead. Turkmenistan and Pakistan agreed to the formation of TAPl Ltd. considering it to be in consonance with the GPFA. Afghanistan also agreed to the formation of TAPl Ltd. so long as there was consensus amongst the Parties. TAPl Ltd. is required to have an initial contribution of USD 20 million that is USD 5 million from an identified entity from each of the four participating countries. GAIL, being a Navratna Company, is empowered to make an investment of this level for India. GAIL has agreed to make an investment up to USD 5 million in the proposed SPV that is TAPI Ltd. Based on an 'in-principle' approval of the Cabinet on 18th May, 2006, India joined the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) Project in April, 2008 and thereafter, the name of the project stood amended to Turkmenistan-AfghanistanPakistan-India (TAPl) Gas Pipeline Project.

March
Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India met H.E. Edward Ssekandi, Vice President of the Republic of Uganda on 25 March, 2013 during his visit to Kampala, Uganda to chair the 22nd Executive Committee Meeting of the Partners in Population & Development (PPD), an alliance of 25 member countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Recalling the close and historical ties between the two countries, both the dignitaries stressed upon the need to further strengthen and deepen bilateral cooperation during the meeting. Hon VP recalled his very recent visit to India, stating that he was very well received there and was able to appreciate the advances made by India in fields such as telecom, petrochemicals and health & medicine. He stated that not only people from Uganda but also from developed countries were now traveling to India for health care. Azad stated that several initiatives had been taken in the recent past in health & medicine and expressed the hope that India and Uganda would be able to collaborate for mutual benefit, especially to further improve maternal and child health. He stated that a large number of Indians were settled in Uganda and were contributing to the economic progress of Uganda. The progressive policies of the Government of Uganda under President Museveni had helped in economic growth of the country. India would be able to assist Uganda in optimum development of its abundant resources, especially in agriculture, agro-processing, hydro-electric power, oil exploration and refineries. Both dignitaries welcomed the opportunities to renew age old relationships, which were multifarious, encompassing political, economic and cultural ties. . India and Liechtenstein have signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) on 28 March at Bern, Switzerland. The Agreement was signed by Ms Chitra Narayanan, Indian Ambassador in Switzerland from Indian side and Madame Doris Frick, Ambassador of Liechtenstein in Switzerland on behalf of Liechtenstein. Salient features of the agreement (TIEA) with Liechtenstein are 1. It is based on international standard of transparency and exchange of information.

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2. 3. Information must be foreseeable relevant to the administration and enforcement of the domestic laws of the Contracting Parties concerning taxes covered by the agreement. There is a specific provision that the requested Party shall use its information gathering measures to obtain the requested information even though that Party may not need such information for its own tax purposes. There is a specific provision for providing banking and ownership information. It provides for the representatives of the competent authority of the requesting Party to enter the territory of the requested Party to interview individuals and examine records. The Agreement has specific provisions for protecting the confidentiality of the information obtained under the Agreement. Information is to be treated as secret and can be disclosed to only specified person or authorities, which are tax authorities or its oversight body. However, the information may be used for other purposes with the express consent of the Competent Authority of the supplying State. The Agreement shall enter into force one month from the later of the notification. On entering into force, information can be exchanged if it pertains to taxable periods beginning on or after 1st April, 2013. The Agreement provides for the exchange of documents or information created in or derived from a date preceding 1st April, 2013, that are foresee ably relevant to a request relating to tax years beginning on or after 1st April, 2013.

4. 5. 6.

7.

8.

The Union Minister for Commerce, Industry and Textiles Anand Sharma on 29 March met the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai during his visit to Harare for the India-Zimbabwe Joint Trade Committee (JTC) Meeting. Sharma briefed the Zimbabwean Prime Minister on the fruitful discussions held at previous day between the two sides in the JTC meeting. Sharma informed the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe that India has offered various capacity building programmes, including scholarships and dedicated courses in bamboo craft development and handicrafts, that Lines of Credit (LOC) proposals worth USD 400 million from the Zimbabwean side will be considered and Zimbabwe could also avail the Buyers Credit Scheme and the pilot 2 % Interest subvention scheme for projects in Zimbabwe. Sharma agreed to the request of Mr. Tsvangirai for providing assistance in revival of its textile industry and in developing its nascent diamond industry. The India-Zimbabwe Joint Trade Committee (JTC) meeting was co-chaired by Sharma and the Prof. Welshman Ncube, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Zimbabwe. During the JTC meeting, the two sides reviewed the bilateral trade and investment relations and held discussions on the following areas of cooperation: Textiles Sector, Agro/food Processing Sector, Gems and Jewellery, industrial cluster initiatives, Lines of Credit, capacity building programmes, establishing of Commodity Exchange in Zimbabwe. During the meeting, both the Ministers emphasized that the present levels of bilateral trade and investment were much below the potential. In the year 2012, the India-Zimbabwe bilateral trade was USD 166 million, with balance of trade heavily in favor of India. The Zimbabwean Minister sought investments and technical assistance from India to enable Zimbabwe in revival of its manufacturing sector, and to achieve greater value addition and beneficiation of natural resources, which will also enable Zimbabwe to increase the value of its exports. In his address during the JTC meeting, Sharma announced that India had approved a Line of Credit (LOC) worth USD 28.6 million for Up-gradation of Deka Pumping Station and the River Water Intake System in Zimbabwe. Further, India is actively considering two more LOC proposals received from Zimbabwe, namely, the Rehabilitation of Small Thermal Power Stations and the Gairezi Hydro Electric Project, and Bulawayo Power Station Upgrade Project. Sharma mentioned that India has been engaged in capacity building and human resource development efforts in Zimbabwe and is setting up a Food Testing Laboratory, a Rural Technology Park and a Vocational Training Centre in Zimbabwe under the India-Africa Forum Summit decisions. India has also set up three computer learning stations in Zimbabwe for children in high-density areas. The number of annual scholarships to Zimbabwe under Indias ITEC programme is now more than 250. South Australia on 25 March rolled out a 10-year strategy to enhance trade ties with India by holding its first meeting of South Australia-India Council in Adelaide. State Trade Minister Tom Kenyon said the strategy identified key sectors of the economy that could take advantage of India's rapid development and create local jobs. According to an official statement, "The SA-India Council is holding its first meeting in Adelaide on 25 March as part of the State Government's long-term strategy to become a significant trade and investment partner with India. The council is being supported by an India team within the Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy (DMITRE).This team will focus on the industry sectors identified in the India strategy - aerospace and defense, energy and natural resources, education and training and clean technology.

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India, Egypt ink 7 pacts and MoUs to boost talks In a bid to deepen ties and strengthen economic bonds, India and Egypt on 19March signed seven key pacts, including one on cyber security, after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi held bilateral talks in New Delhi. The two leaders also agreed to enhance cooperation in defence and at international forums like UN. Underlining that India and Egypt have enormous potential for deepening cooperation across the full spectrum of ties, Singh said economic partnership has rich possibilities. We agreed that information technology, services, electronics, small and medium enterprises, manufacturing, fertilizers, and renewable energy constitute important areas of cooperation. Egypts location, as a bridge between Asia and Africa, astrides a major global trade route and together with its skilled human resources makes it an attractive business destination for India, he said. India and Bhutan on 8 March 2013 signed a currency swap agreement for up to 100 million US dollars to strengthen economic co-operation between both the countries. The currency swap arrangement was signed between the Reserve Bank of India and the Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan (RMAB).The Agreement enables RMAB (Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan) to make withdrawals of US dollar, euro or Indian rupee in multiple tranches up to a maximum of 100 million dollars or its equivalent. The swap agreement is intended to provide a precaution line of funding for SAARC member countries to meet any balance of payments and liquidity crisis till longer term arrangements are made or if there is need for short-term liquidity due to market turbulence. The arrangement would be for a three-year period and would help bring financial stability in the region. Earlier, In May 2012, RBI had announced it would offer swap facilities aggregating 2 billion dollars, both in foreign currency and Indian rupee, to SAARC member countries Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Britain and India on 14 March, have clinched a multi-million-pound agreement to support industry and businesses by working together on the commercialization of research in key areas like energy and healthcare. As part of the deal, Global Innovation and Technology Alliance (GITA) sponsored by the Indian governments Department of Science and Technology and UKs Technology Strategy Board (TSB) will support UK and Indian businesses and academics in joint R&D and innovation projects over a three-year period. These programmes not only help build and strengthen links between countries but will help build the international partnerships between businesses so vital in todays global economy, said Iain Gray, Chief Executive, TSB after signing the Programme of Co-operation at the Innovate UK conference in London. Britains minister for universities and science, David Willetts was also present at the occasion. The latest agreement is the first-ever international partnership the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), Britains government-sponsored innovation agency, has signed outside Europe. GITA, a not-for-profit PPP company, is promoted jointly by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Technology Development Board of the Indian governments Department of Science and Technology. The Foreign Minister of Portugal, Paulo de Sacadura Cabral Portas visited India. This was his first official visit. Paulo de Sacadura Cabral Portas was accompanied by Minister of State for Culture of Portugal and a business delegation. The minister visited Goa and Mumbai with the delegation. During his visit, the Foreign Minister of Portugal held discussions with the Indias External Affairs Minister, Salman Khurshid. India and Portugal discussed bilateral, regional and global issues during the visit. The visit held importance because it would strengthen the friendly ties between India and Portugal. India has proposed the idea of a hydrocarbon pipeline with Kazakhstan that would bring fuel through a five-nation route. India unveiled the concept of the pipeline, which in future could be extended to Russia, during a meeting between External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and his visiting Kazakh counterpart Erlan Idrissov in New Delhi on 6 March. The two Ministers will revisit the idea when they will meet twice in the coming months first on the sidelines of the Istanbul process meeting on Afghanistan in Almaty and later during a stand-alone visit by Mr. Khurshid to the Kazakh capital of Astana. The proposed pipeline would cover about 1,500 kms (no study has yet been done), thus making it longer than the planned Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline which will serve as the role model. It will head from the former Silk Road caravanserai city of Shymkent, known today for oil refining, and enter Uzbekistan. From there it will go to Afghanistan and then follow the route to be taken by the TAPI pipeline into India via Pakistan. Officials said currently most hydrocarbon pipelines from Central Asia are on an east-west axis. This pipeline will, like TAPI, be on a north-south axis, providing a new route to South Asia for hydrocarbons extracted from Central Asia. The President of India Pranab Mukherjee and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina on 5 March 2013 jointly inaugurated the locomotives and tank wagons being supplied to Bangladesh under the

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800 million US Dollar line of credit that was provided by India. The freight train was inaugurated at Dhaka cantonment railway station. The freight train comprised of twenty broad gauge tank wagons, two locomotives and one brake van. Inauguration of the railway wagons as well as locomotives in Dhaka was a part of the implementation of 14 projects which were approved under the 800 million US dollar credit line provided by India to Bangladesh. Out of the total of 14 projects, 12 are the railway projects . The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee was on a three-day visit to Bangladesh and returned back on 5 March 2013. A Social Security Agreement (SSA) was signed between India and Portugal on 4 March 2013 at New Delhi. The agreement was signed by Vayalar Ravi, the Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs and Paulo Sacadura Cabral Portas, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs of Portugal. The bilateral social security agreement would help in taking advantage of the emerging employment opportunities and strengthening the trade and investments between the two countries. At present about 75000 Indians are living in Portugal and it includes self-employed people as well as working professionals. India has signed the Social Security Agreement with 17 countries of the world and they are Belgium, Germany (Social Insurance), Hungary, Switzerland, France, The Czech Republic, Republic of Korea, Germany (Comprehensive SSA), Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Japan, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Canada, Sweden and Austria. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between India and UK to strengthen their cooperation in Earth Sciences and environmental research on 1 March 2013 in New Delhi. The MoU will allow the two countries to share information on meteorology, hydrology and climate variability. This MoU will allow the two countries to share information on meteorology, hydrology and climate variability. The MoU will also help in promoting exchange of scientific and technical capabilities. And it will facilitate India and UK to identify new opportunities for collaborative activities as well as co-funding new environmental research. The MoU was signed between the Earth System Science Organisation of the Ministry of Earth Sciences and Natural Environment Research Council of UK. Science and Technology Minister of India, S Jaipal Reddy was also present. The Memorandum of Understanding will help India in improving the forecasting capability of various weather and climate-related phenomena by sharing the expertise and knowledge. This advance forecasting will help people associated with the agriculture sector, which is the main sector of the Indias economy.

April
India and Germany on 11 April, inked six key MoUs including that for putting together 7 million for next four years towards joint research in the field of Higher Education and a pact for a soft loan of 1 billion for strengthening the green energy corridor. A pact to promote German as a foreign language was also signed by the two sides following the 2nd round of inter-governmental consultations in Berlin. Under pacts signed, both Germany and India have committed to 3.5 million each towards working on joint research and innovation programmes. According to officials, under the strengthening of German language collaboration, currently 30,000 children in Kendriya Vidalia are learning German and under the pact they will try to increase the capacity. A pact regarding the establishment of green energy corridor was also signed besides one in agriculture and establishment of a working group in infrastructure, cooperation in standardization, conformity assessment and product safety. Under the pact for the green energy corridor, the grid system in several states will be used to transmit energy produced by renewable and non-conventional means. Another pact for India-German civil security research was also signed. Minister for human resources development Pallam Raju, who is accompanying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on three-day bilateral visit in Berlin, said the two countries knew each other's strengths and have identified some areas for the joint research. External Affairs Minister of India, Salman Khurshid visited Japan on 26-27 March, 2013 to co-chair the 7th annual IndiaJapan Strategic Dialogue with the Japanese Foreign Minister. Both nations reviewed all aspects of the India-Japan Strategic & Global Partnership including bilateral, regional and international issues. India and Japan also discussed the possibility of convening the Annual Summit between the Prime Ministers of India and Japan in the coming months. India and Japan also agreed to expand cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. It was agreed during this visit that India and Japan will coordinate their actions more closely within the East Asia Summit process. The Government of India and Government of Russian Federation have signed on April 10, 2013 in Moscow a Regulation defining the structure, functions and procedure of the Joint Commission which has been established by an Agreement signed on December 21, 2010 in New Delhi in the field of Emergency

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Management. Sushilkumar Shinde, Union Minister of Home Affairs and Mr.Vladimir Puchkov, Minister of the Russian Federation for Civil Defense, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters have singed this agreement. The agreement will enable both the countries to help each other in the field of prevention and elimination of the consequences of emergency situations. It will further strengthen the bond of friendship between the two countries and enhance the Indo-Russian Co-operation. The Indo-Russian Commission will ensure the implementation of the Agreement which was signed on December 21, 2010 in New Delhi for catalyzing cooperation in the field of Emergency Management and contribute to the well being and safety of the people of both the countries in the event of disasters and also to exchange mutually beneficial scientific and technical information in the area of Emergency Management. The meetings of the Joint Commission will be alternatively held in India and Russia. Minister of Information & Broadcasting, Manish Tewari on 11 april met the Bangladesh Minister for Information & Broadcasting Mr. Hasanul Haq Inu in Nerw Delhi and had extensive discussions on critical issues related to Information and Broadcasting Sector. During the discussions, both the Ministers agreed to consider a joint collaboration for production of a mega film depicting the War of Liberation. In this context, it was agreed to work towards a roadmap to finalize the proposal shortly. In this context, the Information Minister of Bangladesh also requested that the Government of India could consider providing the names of the soldiers who had laid down their lives during the War of Liberation. He reiterated that the Government of Bangladesh would like to recognize their contribution made during this historical event. During the discussions, both the Ministers also agreed to explore the possibility of setting up of a Joint Working Group on the critical sectors of the Information and Broadcasting domain. The Working Group would provide a roadmap for future collaborations between the two countries. The Bangladesh Information Minister also requested the Minister for Information and Broadcasting to facilitate the down linking of Bangladesh TV Channels through the private distribution network. Both Ministers also agreed to intensify the collaboration between Prasar Bharti and Bangladesh State Television in view of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two entities in 2011. The MoU had focused on mutual cooperation in the broadcast of television programmes between the two broadcasters. It was also mentioned that both countries could consider exchange of programmes and also explore the possibility of executive TV co-production. During the discussions, both Ministers also agreed to facilitate the exchange of archival material between the two countries. Two MoUs were signed between India and Germany on 11 April, - a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in the field of Higher Education and a Joint Declaration of Intent (JDI) regarding Promotion of German as a Foreign Language in India. The MoUs were signed by the Human Resource Development Minister, Dr. M.M. Pallam Raju at the 2nd Inter Governmantal Consultations held at Berlin. The HRM is accompanying the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh during his visit to Germany. The Chancellor of Germany, Prof. Dr. Ms. Johanna Wanka, Federal Minister for Education and Research of Germany was also present on the occasion. The MoU for cooperation in Higher Education envisages devising mechanisms of cooperation and sets the agenda for improving educational relations between the two countries. The MoU chiefly supports a new jointly funded programme entitled Indo-German Strategic Partnerships in Higher Education (IGSP) to intensify institutional linkages and to open up new and innovative areas of cooperation. India and Germany have committed to earmark 3.5 million Euros from each side for an initial period of four years (20132016) to support programmes under IGSP. India and Mauritius on 12 April, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in New Delhi, for cooperation in the field of election management and administration. The MoU was signed by the Chief Election Commissioner of India, V.S. Sampath and the Electoral Commissioner of Mauritius, Mr. Mohammad Irfan Abdool Rahman. Election Commissioners of India, H. S. Brahma and Dr. Nasim Zaidi; diplomats and senior officials of the Election Commission of India and Government of India were present at the signing ceremony. The major aims of MoU are: promotion of exchanges of knowledge and experience in electoral processes; exchange of information, materials, expertise and training of personnel; production and distribution of materials pertaining to electoral systems, voting technology, voters education and awareness, and participation of women and minorities in electoral process. Election Commission of India has so far signed seventeen MOUs with Election Management Bodies and international organizations across the world. Some of the MoU signed recently are with Egypt, Venezuela, Republic of Korea and UNDP. A Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters was signed between India and Azerbaijan on 4th April, 2013 in New Delhi. The Treaty was signed by Sushilkumar Shinde, Home Minister, on behalf of the Republic of India and by Mr.Fikrat Mammadov, Minister of Justice, on behalf of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty is one of the significant legal instruments to improve and facilitate effectiveness of the contracting states in investigation and prosecution of transnational crime including terrorism by providing the necessary legal framework for rendering/receiving legal assistance in criminal matters.

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Dr. Ashwani Kumar, Union Minister of Law & Justice and Fikrat Mammadov, Minister of Justice of Republic of Azerbaijan, on 4 April signed a Treaty in New Delhi, between the two nations on Legal and Judicial Cooperation in Civil and Commercial Matters. The two sides also had delegation- level talks. The two Ministers hailed the close cooperation between India and Azerbaijan and hoped that the bonds between the two countries will strengthen further. This Treaty between the two countries in Civil matters is a comprehensive agreement for reciprocal arrangement with foreign countries for service of summons, for issuing Letters of Request, for taking of evidence, for execution of civil decrees and for enforcement of arbitral awards. As per provisions of the Treaty, requests for legal assistance shall be made through the Central Authorities of the Contracting Parties. In India, the Central Authority is the Ministry of Law and Justice and in the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Central Authority is the Ministry of Justice. The Treaty aims to benefit the citizens of the respective States seeking Legal Assistance in Civil and Commercial Matters in the requested State irrespective of any gender, class or income bias. This Treaty will open the avenues of cooperation between both the countries in other sectors/spheres also. Similar Treaties on Civil and Commercial Matters have already been signed with France, U.A.E., Russia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Mongolia, Bulgaria and Kazakhstan. India and Singapore on 2 April 2013 signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on bilateral air services arrangement during the visit of Civil Aviation Minister, Ajit Singh to Singapore. It rationalizes the capacity entitlements of both countries in terms of seats per week in each direction with a route specific cap for Singapore on each route. The MoU also enhances, by 10%, the capacity entitlement with India now entitled to operate 29,400 weekly passenger seats from India to Singapore and the designated airlines of Singapore entitled to operate 28,700 weekly passenger seats from Singapore to India. No additional point of call has been given to Singapore. India also did not agree to the demand of Singapore for additional point of calls from Pune and Madurai. Government of India and the Government of Tanzania signed a Letter of Intent(LoI) on 6 April 2013 at De res Salaam during the visit of Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma to the latter. The LoI aims to promote and expand bilateral relations between the two countries in the mineral sector with focus on strengthening supply chain for growth of the steel industry in both the countries. The LoI aims to encourage investment opportunities in India and Tanzania in the iron & steel related businesses, facilitates exchange of technical know-how in developing iron and steel production and other steel related raw materials, including pelletisation plants and other associated industries. LoI aims that both the Governments jointly work for developing the steel industry and exchange technically qualified manpower for sustainable growth of iron & steel industry. The LoI will not only strengthen relations between India and Tanzania. It will also give added thrust to the possibility of exploration and development of mineral assets in the country.

May
The second US-India Homeland Security Dialogue was held in Washington on 21 May 2013. At the end of the dialogue, the two nations reaffirmed the commitment to, and importance of, bilateral homeland security cooperation between the US and India on common challenges faced such as terrorism, and countering violent extremism. It was decided to strengthen the global strategic partnership between the United States and India on issues ranging from cyber-security and megacity policing, to counterterrorism and countering violent extremism. India and USA reaffirmed the commitment of the two nations to work cooperatively on law enforcement issues, to combat common threats, improve bilateral cooperation through the development and application of innovative technology, combat the flow of illicit finances and currency counterfeiting, and to work closely to counter terrorism and promote cyber-security. The United States and India will explore areas in which to share best practices and lessons learned by both countries on how to enhance the ability of federal, state and local police to better detect, prevent and respond to acts of violent extremism. In May 2011, the first Homeland security dialogue between India and USA was held in India. India and Thailand signed a treaty for the extradition of runaways wanted for terrorism, transnational crimes, economic offences and other serious crimes which will shortly eliminate a safe refuge for criminals wanted in India and Thailand. The extradition treaty between India and Thailand was signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's first bilateral visit to Thailand. The treaty will help both the countries in expedited extradition of fugitives. This Treaty would further strengthen the relationship between two law enforcement agencies by providing a firm legal basis for their bilateral cooperation. The extradition treaty concluded after two decades of negotiations, and a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in anti-money

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laundering, gives a major signal of Indias shared commitment in combating terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking and counterfeiting. China's new premier Li Keqiangs visited India on his first foreign trip to India from 19-22, May 2013 since taking his office in March 2013. Both the countries are looking for speeding up their efforts to settle a decades-old border dispute and strengthen economic ties. The leaders of both the countries had a thorough exchange of views on bilateral relations and regional and international issues of common interest in a sincere and cordial atmosphere and reached broad consensus. Here is the list of Documents signed during the State Visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to India. 1) Protocol between Indian and China on Indian Official Pilgrimage (the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra) to the Tibet Autonomous Region of ChinaWith the signing of Protocol both the countries have agreed to conduct the Yatra every year from May to September. China will make further advancements in the existing facilities on the route of the pilgrims and to maintain even communication. They have also agreed to assist in renting wireless sets and local SIM cards. 2) Agreement on Work Programmes of the Three Working Groups under Joint Economic Group between Ministry of Commerce & Industry of India and China. The three working groups under the Joint Economic Group are: i) Services Trade Promotion Working Group ii) Economic and Trade Planning Cooperation iii) Trade Statistical Analysis 3)MoU on Buffalo Meat, Fishery Products and Agreement on Feed and Feed Ingredients between Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority of India and China It is directly aimed at strengthening mutual cooperation in trade and safety of buffalo meat, fishery products and feed and feed ingredients, and to meet the regulatory requirements with respect to safety & hygiene & quarantine and is also supposed to deal with the growing trade deficit between the two countries. 4) MoU between the Ministry of Urban Development of India and National Development and Reform Commission of China on Cooperation in the field of Sewage Treatment The MoU signed by the Urban Development will enhance cooperation in the field of Sewage Treatment and ideas and knowledge sharing in the areas of mutual interest in the urban sectors. 5) MoU between the Ministry of Water Resources of India and The National Development and Reform Commission, of China on Cooperation in the field of Water Efficient Irrigation The MoU directly aims at enhancing bilateral cooperation in the field of water efficient technology with applicability in the area of agriculture and exchange of best practices. 6) MoU between the India and the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of China on Cooperation in Mutual Translation and Publication of Classic and Contemporary Work As per the MoU a Joint Working Group will formed which will coordinate translation and publication of 25 books of Classic and Contemporary Works of each side over a period of 5 years in to Chinese and Indian languages respectively. 7) MoU between the Ministry of Water Resources of the India and the Ministry of Water Resources of China upon Provision of Hydrological Information of the Yaluzangbu/Brahmaputra River in Flood Season by China to India As per the Memorandum of Understanding China is supposed to provide India with information of water level, discharge and rainfall of 8:00 hrs and 20:00 hrs(Beijing Time) twice a day from 1st June to 15 October each day in respect of three hydrological stations on the mainstream Brahmaputra river. 8) Agreement between the Ministry of External Affairs, of India and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of China to facilitate cooperation and linkages between Indian and Chinese cities & states/provinces As per this said agreement both the sides agreed to identify sister cities and sister states/provinces in India and China with a view to establishing relationships between them in areas of mutual interest for enhancing greater people to people contacts A bilateral meeting between Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, India, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Minister of Health Switzerland, Alain Berset, was concluded on 20 May 2013 at Geneva. The meeting was held on the sidelines of World Health Assembly at Geneva. The aim of the meeting was to give further impetus to cooperation in the field of healthcare. In the past, various bilateral institutional arrangements between India and Switzerland have been signed and these include Indo-Swiss Joint Commission, Swiss- India Chamber of Commerce, Indo-Swiss Joint Committee on Science & technology and many more. In the meeting, it was decided that an MoU between the two countries will be inked soon for broadening the scope of bilateral ties. In the meeting, it was exuded that Switzerland will extend full support to India on global platforms in order to carry forward the pursuits of providing high quality generic medicines at affordable prices.

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An MoU was signed between Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare India, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Secretary of State for Health, UK, Jeremy Richard Hunt on cooperation in the field of health sector on 19 May 2013 at Geneva between the Government of India and the Government of the United Kingdom. The aim of the agreement is promotion of wide-ranging cooperation in the health sector between the two countries. The main areas identified for cooperation in the MOU include: 1)Promoting exchange on healthcare policy in India and the UK; 2)Human resources for Health; 3)Regulatory issues; 4)Health technology development: 5)Primary healthcare; 6)Strengthening of public infrastructure and capacity; 7)Health security, including cooperation on infectious diseases, emerging infections and drug resistance. India, at present, is the strategic partner to the UK and has been a recipient of UKs bilateral assistance in the form of grants since 1975. The aid agency of the UK is Department for International Development (DFID). The priority for DFID and Government of India partnership is improvement of maternal & child health and reducing the burden of communicable diseases. India and the US on 16 May 2013 decided to expand co-operation in knowledge sector. This was announced during a round table discussion on Advances in US-India Academic Partnership in Washington. It was also stated during the discussion that eight more awards finalized under the Singh-Obama Knowledge Initiative and it will be jointly announced during the forthcoming Indo-US strategic dialogue in New Delhi next month. Eight such awards were announced last year. He said there is a proposal to place young Indian faculty in best of US institutions to enhance their capabilities. Under this plan 126 post-doctorals have been selected. India sought US cooperation in promoting skill building through community colleges. Touching upon the possibilities of a wide ranging co-operation in education sector between the two countries, the co-operation should be supportive in the field of ICT, digital world, promoting quality research and innovation and boosting vocational education system. 20 billion dollars of additional resources will be pumped in the state system to ensure access and excellence in tertiary education through National Higher Education Mission (RUSA in vernacular). The round table organised by the International Institute of Education at Washington discussed issues such as collaboration in the field of Community Colleges and promoting massive online courses and Technology Enabled Education. It also discussed students mobility, particularly encouraging US students to visit India. India and USA also discussed issued relating to improvement of school education, teacher educators, assessment of schools and community participation in school education. India and Netherlands on 14 May 2013 signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Technical Cooperation in the field of Spatial Planning, Water Management, and Mobility Management at Hague, Netherlands during the visit of Kamal Nath, Minister for Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs.The Memorandum of Understanding will enable greater cooperation in the areas of - Spatial planning, urban and regional planning and development and architecture; Water management in terms of Water supply and sanitation and governance structures; Transport management and transport systems and infrastructure; Energyefficient and sustainable built forms. Under the MoU, a Joint Working Group would be set up that would prepare annual work programmes. It was decided that the first seminar under the MoU would take place in June 2013 at Rotterdam to be followed by another seminar in India later in the year. Minister for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath on 16 May, signed the fifth India Brazil South Africa (IBSA) womens forum resolution in New Delhi. Also signing the resolution were Lulama Xingwana, Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities Republic of South Africa, and Maria do Carmo Godinho Delgado, Secretary of Evaluation of Policies and Economic Autonomy of Women, on behalf of the Minister, Chief of the Secretariat of Policies for Women, Presidency of the Federative Republic of Brazil.The joint resolution stated that the three countries are committed to recognizing the key role of government with the support of civil society to ensure and accelerate all efforts towards achieving gender equality and empowerment of women.It also acknowledges the Forums shared commitment to various international conventions on rights of women and girls.The resolution recommends the following- to end violence against women and girls; to work towards economic empowerment of women, especially rural and marginalized women; to promote gender responsive budgeting, and equitable and sustainable development. External Affairs Minister, Salman Khurshid, paid an official visit to the Peoples Republic of China on 09-10 May 2013. The two nations discussed bilateral, regional and global issues of concern to both sides. They also discussed the proposed visit to India of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. India and China also discussed Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor and regional trading arrangement.

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They also discussed their recent problem on the Line of Control during this visit. Both countries signed a new protocol to enhance cooperation between their foreign ministries, while working on a mechanism to step up coordination for providing timely information to the media. The protocol that was signed by Salman Khurshid and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on 9 May 2013 was essentially an upgradation of a similar protocol signed in 2006. The 2006 protocol the two countries listed various new dialogue mechanisms that has been in existence between the two sides, since then. The two countries reviewed the fallout of the recent stand-off in the Depsang Valley in Daulat Beig Oldi sector of Ladakh. The two sides also tried to make existing mechanisms more effective to respond with greater urgency in dealing with border violations and recent episode on the border on the Line of Actual Control, LAC was also discussed. The two sides also discussed upon the Visit of the Chinese Premier to India. The eighth India-Seychelles Joint Commission Meeting was held on 8 May 2013 in New Delhi. The Joint Commission exchanged views on bilateral, regional and international matters of mutual interest during the meet. Review of the ongoing cooperation between the two nations in different fields was also done and views were exchanged for expanding and strengthening the perimeter of the cooperation between the two sides. The Indian Delegation to the meeting was led by Sudhir Vyas, Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs and the Seychelles delegation was headed by H.E. Ambassador Maurice Jean Leonard Loustau-Lalane, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Seychelles. The next meeting of the Joint Commission will be held in Seychelles at mutually convenient date.

June
The Secretary of State of the United States, John Kerry completed his India visit on 25 June 2013. He was on three-day visit to India from 23 June 2013 to 25 June 2013. He reached New Delhi along with his delegates on 23 June 2013. This was his first visit to India as a Secretary of State of the United States. During the visit, he had detailed discussions over topics such as strategic pillars of relationship between India and US, which included global issues, economics, security, technology and political issues. During his visit, various bilateral and multilateral accords were signed. Dialogues on higher education, space cooperation, health cooperation, international security as well as economic collaboration were held. India and Turkey have agreed to enhance their cooperation in the field of Renewable Energy. This was decided at a meeting held between the Turkish Energy Minister Mr. Taner Yildiz and Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Minister of New and Renewable Energy at Ankara on 27 June. Dr. Abdullah is visiting Turkey along with a high level delegation to explore greater opportunities for cooperation and collaboration between Indian and Turkey. Dr. Abdullah briefed his counterpart on the energy situation in India and Indias plans to add over 30 GW of renewable energy to its energy mix in the next 5 years. He also dwelt on the success of the wind programme as well as the significant cost reductions in solar energy through the Jawahar Lal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). The Turkish leader said that Ankara hopes to diversify its energy mix by introducing a large component of renewables. It has considerable potential in wind, hydro, solar and geothermal energy. It imports over 90% of its oil, gas and fossil fuel requirement. Mr Yildiz recognized Indias considerable achievements and strengths in renewable energy and noted that India had made large strides in this field. He expressed the Turkish governments desire to set up large generating as well as manufacturing capacities in renewable energy sources, particularly wind and solar. Dr. Abdullah offered Indias support and expertise to Turkey in setting up projects in wind, solar and hydropower. He also offered training slots in India to Turkish scientists, engineers and technicians through the ITEC programme. The Indian Minister expressed his countrys desire for a serious and meaningful cooperation with Turkey, especially in renewable energy and offered all possible assistance.

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Salman Khurshid, the Union External Affairs Minister was on a two-day visit to Iraq from 19 to 20 June 2013. This is the first visit of any Minister from Indian to Iraq after 23 years in the war-raved country. The two nations discussed issues of bilateral and mutual interests including import of oil for energy security along with the avenues of partnership. During his visit, Khurshid met with the Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri al-Maliki and his counterpart Hoshyar Zebari. Former Prime Minister of India, Inder Kumar Gujral visited Iraq in 1990 during his tenure as an External Affairs Minister of Indian Union. He visited Iraq to check the procedures of evacuation of Indians in the wake of Gulf war. Indo-Russian INDRA 2013 military exercise is scheduled to take place in October 2013 at Mahajan field firing range of Rajasthan in India. The joint Military exercise will involve over 250 servicemen from the Eastern Military District and the same number of troops will be involved from the Indian armed forces. Around 250 Russian servicemen from the Eastern Military District are already set to join RussoIndian joint ground and naval drills at Indra-2013.There will be a practice of joint planning and execution of anti-terrorist missions and leading intelligence activities by the serviceman. In year 2012, The IndoRussian Joint Military Exercise Indra 2012 was held from August 7-16, at Burduny training range in the Siberian republic of Buryatia in Russia. The two countries have already conducted six Indraseries joint drills since 2003. India on 8 June 2013 offered 150 million Dollars credit to Myanmar for establishing a Special Economic Zone at Sittwe in Myanmar's Buyer's Credit Scheme under National Export Insurance Account. The offer was made at a meeting the Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma had with the Myanmar President U Thein Sein recently in Nay Pyi Taw. Cooperation in Energy sector also came up for discussion during the meeting. India appreciated the Myanmar Governments decision to allow United Bank of India to set up a representative office in Myanmar. Bank of India and State Bank of India would also be permitted to operate in that Country. India has made significant progress in improving road connectivity with Myanmar which will create new opportunities for India's north eastern region. India also offered to help in revival of 300 apparel factories in Myanmar. It also offered 5 million Us dollars Line of Credit for revival of these factories. The South India Textile Research Association (SITRA) will provide technical assistance in formulation of revival plans for these factories. India will be setting up IndiaMyanmar Apparel Sector JVs in Thilawa SEZ in collaboration with other international brands. India will also set up a textiles trade show - Textiles Expo in Yangon for traditional textiles with Handloom Export Promotion Council (HEPC) as lead council. India and Britain have signed a pact to provide a framework for strategic and technical cooperation between the two countries on evidence informed healthcare policy and practice. The MoU was signed by Department of Health Research (DHR) Secretary V M Katoch and UK-based National Institute for Health and Care (NICE) Excellence chief executive Andrew Dillon in London on 14 June. The MoU followed the signature of an overarching health agreement between UK and India at the World Health Assembly, Geneva, last month by the health ministers of the two countries. The pact aims at bringing modern health technology to people by encouraging innovations in diagnostics, treatment methods and disease prevention. The aim is to translate the innovations into products and processes by facilitating synergy with other departments. The MoU creates provisions for exchange of institutional expertise and experience in clinical practice guidelines pathways and quality standards. Competition Commission of India (CCI) and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation at Canberra, Australia. The MOU was signed by Mr. Ashok Chawla, Chairperson, CCI and Mr. Rod Sims, Chairman, ACCC on 3rd June,2013. The signing took place in the presence of the State Minister of Corporate Affairs Sachin Pilot. The MOU provides for sharing information on significant developments in competition policy and enforcement developments in the respective jurisdictions. It is recognized that it may be in common interest of both the parties to work together in technical cooperation activities as well as cooperate in appropriate cases, consistent with the respective enforcement interests, legal constraints, and available resources. It is planned to evaluate the effectiveness of the cooperation under the Memorandum on a regular basis to ensure that the expectations and needs are being met. MOU is expected to further strengthen existing cooperation between CCI and ACCC.

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The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has an Official Working Visit to Japan on 27-30 May 2013 for the Annual Summit of the Prime Ministers at the invitation of the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Shinzo Abe. The two Prime Ministers held extensive talks on bilateral, regional and global issues on 29 May 2013 in Tokyo. Applauding the commemorative events held to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 2012, the two Prime Ministers reaffirmed that India and Japan, as the two largest democracies in Asia sharing such universal values as freedom, democracy and rule of law, enjoy very close and wide-ranging relations. The two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction at the steady growth of political exchanges, dialogue and policy coordination at all levels. They positively evaluated Ministerial-level annual dialogues and exchanges, particularly the Foreign Ministers Strategic Dialogue and the Ministerial Level Economic Dialogue. The two Prime Ministers also noted the successful outcomes achieved during the"2 plus 2 dialogue, the Foreign Secretary level Dialogue, the Foreign Office Consultations, the Defence Policy Dialogue, the Trilateral Dialogue between India, Japan and the United States, as well as other key interactions on various areas including cyber, counter-terrorism and economic partnership. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the launch of the bilateral Maritime Affairs Dialogue, the first meeting of which was held on 29 January 2013 in Delhi. They welcomed the expanding defence relations between the two countries based on the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation between India and Japan. The two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction that the first bilateral exercise between the Indian Navy (IN) and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF)was held in June 2012 off the coast of Japan and decided to conduct such exercises on a regular basis with increased frequency. They decided to establish a Joint Working Group (JWG) to explore modality for the cooperation on the US-2 amphibian aircraft. Prime Minister Singh expressed his appreciation to the Government and people of Japan for their continued and unwavering support to Indias development. Prime Minister Abe reaffirmed that Japan would continue its Official Development Assistance at a substantial level to encourage Indias efforts towards social and economic development, including in the area of infrastructure and human resource development. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the signing of the Exchange of Notes for yen loan totalling 71billion yen for the "Mumbai Metro Line-III project, as well as the yen loan of the fiscal year 2012 totalling 353.106 billion yen for eight projects. Prime Minister Singh appreciated the pledge by Prime Minister Abe for the Campus Development Project of Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad (Phase 2) for 17.7 billion yen and the "Tamil Nadu Investment Promotion Programme for 13 billion yen. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the signing of the Agreement between India and Japan on Social Security in November 2012 and directed their relevant authorities in the governments to work towards its early entry into force. They expressed hope that this agreement would contribute to further accelerating bilateral activities of private sectors. The two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction with the progress in cooperation of creative industries and welcomed the successful launch of the Indian Design Mark developed by the India Design Council and the Japan Institute of Design Promotion. The two Prime Ministers noted with satisfaction the progress in implementation of the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC). They expressed satisfaction that in Phase-I the procurement of civil works was at an advanced stage and that the Engineering Service Consultants for Phase-II were already in position. The two Prime Ministers also expressed satisfaction with the signing of the first tranche of the Main Loan Agreement for Phase-II totalling approximately 136 billion yen. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the progress made in the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) as a visionary India-Japan Strategic Partnership project which would enable India to access innovative, cutting edge technologies. The two leaders shared the view that all instruments of funding of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) including the Special Term for Economic Partnership (STEP) may be explored. They appreciated the formation of the DMIC Project Implementation Trust in India as well as the listing of possible projects for Japans public and private financing as Japans USD 4.5 billion facility decided during the DMIC Task Force meeting at Tokyo in October 2012. The two Prime Ministers reviewed the rapid progress made in absorbing next generation technologies through the Smart Community Projects and directed the relevant authorities to vigorously accelerate implementation of the seawater desalination project at Dahej, Gujarat, the Model Solar Project in

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Neemrana, Rajasthan, and the gas-fired independent power producer (IPP) project in Maharashtra. The two Prime Ministers also stressed on the early realization of other Smart Community Projects and directed that all necessary measures be taken to provide solutions for provision of gas at reasonable rates and for electricity and environmental regulations so that each project moves ahead speedily as a symbol of IndiaJapan strategic partnership. Prime Minister Abe welcomed the relaxations of capital and financial regulations by India which could bring sustainable and stable economic growth in India by enhancing private sector investments and domestic production. Recognizing the importance of development in the Chennai-Bengaluru areas, the two Prime Ministers underlined their commitment to reinforce their cooperation. Noting the importance of increasing Japanese investment and business in India for economic growth of both countries, the two Prime Ministers expressed their expectation to advance cooperation between the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of India and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan in the framework of Indias "National Manufacturing Policy in such areas as industrial human resource development and business environment improvement. The two Prime Ministers highly appreciated the achievements of the Visionary Leaders for Manufacturing (VLFM) programme as a valuable Japanese contribution to the development of the manufacturing sector in India and welcomed the development of this programme as the new project Champions of Societal Manufacturing(CSM). Prime Minister Singh noted Japans interest in supporting the introduction of high speed railway system in India. Prime Minister Singh appreciated Japans high level of expertise in designing and implementing High Speed Railway (Shinkansen) systems. He conveyed that India will plan such projects based on its infrastructure priorities, commercial viability and financial resources in India. The two Prime Ministers decided that the two sides will co-finance a joint feasibility study of High Speed Railway system on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route. At the invitation of the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, Yingluck Shinawatra, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh paid an Official Visit to Thailand from 30-31 May 2013. He was accompanied by the Minister of External Affairs, a high level official and media delegation. The Prime Minister of India presented a sapling of the sacred Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya as a special gift to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej as a symbol of the shared cultural heritage between India and Thailand. The official talks between Thailand and India were held on 30 May 2013 in a warm, cordial and friendly atmosphere, reflecting the excellent bilateral relations and friendship that exist between the two countries. The following agreements were signed during the visit: o Extradition Treaty. o MoU on the Establishment of the Thailand-India Exchange Programme. o MOU between Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency and Survey of India for cooperation in the field of Mapping and Geospatial Technology Applications. o MOU between Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, Thailand and National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organization, India for cooperation in the field of Mapping and Geospatial Technology Applications. o MOU between Financial Intelligence Unit, India and Anti Money Laundering Organization, Thailand on Cooperation in the exchange of Financial Intelligence related to Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing. o MOU on Establishment of Hindi Chair at Thammasat University. The Union Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, Vayalar Ravi on 30th May, announced that the 7th Regional Pravasi Bhartiya Divas to be held at Sydney, Australia from 10-12th November, 2013. He said that Sydney is the most important commercial city in Australia, and has a large Indian community. It is the best location on the Eastern sea board of Australia in terms of connectivity with New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. The theme of this event is Connecting for a Shared Future The Indian Diaspora, India and The Pacific. The session of the Regional PBD will include there on bilateral business opportunities, skill development and technology, education and culture. It will also provide a forum for sharing of Ideas and experiences among the Indian Diaspora in the region. The Regional PBD conventions are organized by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs with the collaboration of the host Government, the Indian Mission, prominent Overseas Indians and Organizations catering to the needs of the Indian Diaspora. It is a flagship event of the Ministry, which provides a platform to persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), in the process of their

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engagement with the Government and people of India, for charting mutually beneficial partnerships. These conventions have also been useful for PIOs and NRIs to synergize and network among themselves. India and Germany signed an umbrella agreement on financial and technical cooperation in fields of energy, environment and management of natural resources on 6th June. This agreement displays the commitment of both nations towards strengthening the long-standing partnership between the two in field of development co-operation. Earlier, India and Germany had negotiated about 723 million Euros worth projects in 2012 as part of a pact on development cooperation between them. The umbrella agreement was signed by German Embassy's Deputy Chief of Mission Cord Meier-Klodt and Joint Secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs Rajesh Khullar.

July
India plans to launch a business network to promote trade and commerce, investment, business-tobusiness interactions and exchanges with Saudi Arabia. The proposed Saudi-India Business Network (SIBN), which will function in Riyadh and Dammam, would comprise both Indian and Saudi businessmen, entrepreneurs, industrialists and members of business chambers. The first meeting of the SIBN (Riyadh) is scheduled to take place on September 2, a statement released by the Indian Embassy in Riyadh said on 27 July. India-Saudi Arabia trade relations have witnessed a steady and remarkable growth in the last few years. Saudi Arabia is Indias fourth largest trade partner and the bilateral trade stood at $43.19 billion in 2012-13.Saudi Arabia is also Indias largest supplier of crude oil, accounting for 17 per cent of the countrys requirements, and is one of the major markets in the world for Indian exports. Saudi Arabia is destination to more than 1.86 per cent of Indias global exports and is also the source of 6.35 per cent of Indias global imports. For Saudi Arabia, India is the fifth largest market for its exports. The 6th Session of the India-Belarus Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation was held on 24 July in New Delhi. The session was co-chaired from the Indian side by Dr. E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry and Mr. Dmitry S. Katerinich, Minister of Industry of the Republic of Belarus. Highlighting that the meeting is yet another step in the direction of strengthening trade and economic relations between the two countries, Dr. Natchiappan said that sectors like pharmaceutical, fertilizers, information technology and research & development offer tremendous potential for cooperation between India and Belarus. Elaborating on the fertilizer sector, the Indian Minister conveyed that India is looking for long-term contracts for supply of potash to meet its growing requirements. He also added that Indian companies can also look for opportunities for setting up joint ventures in Belarus for production of potash-based fertilizers. The Belarusian side recommended India to determine an Indian counterpart deputed to negotiate on the long-term cooperation agreement, take decisions and signing of the agreement for the full volume of the deliveries. The JSC,a Belaruain Potash Company, and an Indian counterpart to be nominated by the Government of India should finalize the volumes, terms and conditions of the long-term cooperation agreement for MOP deliveries to India within specified time period. The two Ministers also signed a Protocol after the Meeting. It was decided by both the sides that necessary steps will be taken to sign an MoU between the Ministry of Textiles, India and the Belarusian State Concern for Manufacturing and Marketing of Light Industry Goods i.e. Bellegprom on Cooperation in the Field of Textiles, Clothing and Fashion Industries. Both the sides also agreed to create a Certification Centre of Belarusian companies and professionals in the field of software at the earliest possible time. The Belarusian side will provide a draft concept for the same to initiate negotiations with the Indian side. The Belarusian delegation proposed to hold the 9th meeting of the Business Council India-Belarus in 2013 to promote the collaboration of business representatives, as well as agreed to define the dates of the National Exhibition of the Republic of India during 2013-2014 in Minsk. At the invitation of the Minister of Defence A.K. Antony, the French Minister of Defence Mr Yves Le Drianis on an official visit to India on 25-27 July, 2013. Both the ministers held detailed and useful talks on regional and international security challenges of mutual interest. They also reviewed the status of various measures for bilateral defence cooperation and the progress in various areas pursuant to their discussions in February, 2013, during the State visit of the French President to India.

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The Ministers noted that defence cooperation is an important pillar of the strategic partnership between both countries and that the ongoing dialogue and cooperation is mutually beneficial to both nations. The Ministers also noted that the range and depth of defence exchanges and interactions between the Ministries of Defence and the Armed Forces of both sides is being steadily enhanced in areas of mutual interest and in a spirit of mutual understanding, respect, trust and support, taking account of respective security interests. The Ministers agreed that exchanges between respective defence institutions and armed forces should continue to be progressed, including in the areas of military education and training and through the conduct of military exercises. In this respect, the Ministers welcomed the upcoming bilateral exercise Shakti in September 2013 in France between both Armies. The Ministers noted with satisfaction that the Navies of both countries are working towards finalizing the schedule for the conduct of Exercise Varuna off the coast of India and also that the next Air Force exercise Garuda would be held during the first half of 2014. The Ministers had detailed discussions regarding current and future co-operation in the areas of defence equipment and technology collaboration. They agreed that such cooperation should continue to be progressed to the mutual benefit of both countries, including in high technology areas involving joint research and development and transfer of technology. The Ministers tasked the High Committee on Defence Cooperation (HCDC), which is scheduled to meet in France in October 2013, to follow up the above points and to finalize practical measures to expand and deepen the bilateral partnership in defence. India and Nigeria on 22 July 2013 signed an agreement in Abuja to locate sites for solar power plants in Niger state. The agreement will provide additional energy for Nigeria's national grid. It would be the first of a series of power plant deals. The agreement was signed between the secretary to the Government of India, Sutanu Behuria and Nigeria's permanent secretary in the Ministry of Power Godknows Igali. With this agreement in place, Bharat Heavy Electricals (BSE) will begin preliminary studies for setting up independent solar-powered plants in selected locations in Niger. India expressed interest in the provision of funds in various forms for the development of Nigeria's power sector. India on 9 July 2013 agreed to co-operate with Mongolia in developing its renewable Energy Sector and Human Resource Development. The agreement between the two nations was reached during a meet between the Farooq Abdullah Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy and Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj at Ulaanbaatar during his visit to Mongolia. Farooq Abdullah was on a visit to Mongolia to represent India at the oath taking ceremony of Elbegdorj, who has been re-elected as the President for his second four-year term. During his visit to Mongolia, Abdullah also met Foreign Minister of Mongolia Lu Bold and Minister of Environment and Green Development, Sanjaasuren Oyun. The bilateral relations between India and Mongolia has expanded in recent past and at present it covers cooperation in defense and strategic issues along with educational and cultural exchanges. To give a new boost to the bilateral relations, the President of Mongolia Elbegdorj selected India as the first destination for foreign visit after taking over as President of Mongolia for his first term, in 2009. The Union Governments decision to depute a senior Cabinet Minister to the Presidents inauguration is a signal of importance that India places Mongolia and towards further strengthening of bilateral relations with Mongolia. The Union Government of India and Government of Albania on 8 July 2013 signed an Agreement for Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to the Taxes on Income and on Capital (DTAA). The agreement was signed to provide tax stability for the residents of both the nations. It would also facilitate mutual economic cooperation between the two countries. The signed agreement would also stimulate the flow of investment, technology and services between India and Albania. The agreement incorporates provisions for effective exchange of information between tax authorities of the two countries, which also includes exchange of banking information and supply of information without recourse to domestic interest. The agreement was signed by the Chairperson of Central Board of Direct Taxes, Dr. Sudha Sharma and the Ambassador of Republic of Albania, Fatos Kercikuon at New Delhi. Indian Defense Minister, A.K. Antony paid an official visit to China from 4-7 July 2013. He held talks with his counterpart Gen. Chang Wanquan. The two Defense Ministers had an extensive exchange of views on a wide range of defence and security issues. A. K. Antony meeting the Chinese State Councillor, Yang

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Jiechi in Beijing. They reaffirmed that defense exchanges were an important facet of the India-China strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity. They reviewed the working of agreements and protocols dealing with the maintenance of peace and tranquility and directed that it be further strengthened. Appreciating that border defense cooperation would make a significant contribution in this regard, they agreed on an early conclusion of negotiations for the Border Defense Cooperation agreement between the two Governments. The Ministers discussed ongoing and proposed bilateral exchanges and welcomed the holding of the counter-terrorism bilateral joint exercise between their armies in China in 2013.They also agreed on the following additional exchanges and visits between India and China: o Senior military commanders from service headquarters, command/military region and field formations will exchange visits regularly on a mutually agreed annual schedule. o Visits of border troop delegations would be enhanced to promote dialogue and strengthen trust and cooperation. o Border Personnel Meetings (BPM) will take place with greater frequency and additional locations will be finalized after discussions. o The Navies will increase ship visits, consider conducting joint maritime search and rescue exercises and cooperate in counter-piracy operations. The call by PLA Navy Hospital ship Peace Ark to Mumbai in August 2013 was welcomed. o The Air Forces will carry out high level visits and expand their functional exchanges. They would focus on topics of mutual interest including flight safety, aviation medicine and training. o Military training institutions will also strengthen their exchanges at the faculty and student levels. o To promote greater awareness and understanding among young officers of the armed forces, visits and exchanges will be carried out annually.

The Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma met Sayyad Abd-Al-Cader Sayed Hossen, Minister of Industry, Mauritius, in Port Louis on 4 July. During the meeting, the Mauritian minister conveyed that most of the issues regarding renewal of contract with Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL) have been sorted out. Sharma reiterated India`s commitment to ensure uninterrupted supply to Mauritius. Indias exports to Mauritius comprises largely of petroleum products as a result of the three year Agreement signed between MRPL and the State Trading Corporation of Mauritius in July 2007 for the supply of all petroleum requirement of Mauritius. The Agreement is expected to be renewed later this month. Five institutional level MoUs were signed to take the partnership forward. These are: MoU between Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) and Enterprise Mauritius (EM) MoU between Northern India Textile Research Association (NITRA) and Mauritius Standards Bureau o MoU between NITRA and National Productivity and Competitive Council (NPCC) of Mauritius o MoU between Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI) and Mauritius Export Association (MEXA); and o MoU between Institute of Apparel Management (IAM) and Fashion and Design Institute of Mauritius (FDI) Ministry of Tourism of India on 2 July 2013 agreed to a proposal from the visiting Tourism and Travel delegation from Nepal for joint publicity of India and Nepal as Tourist destinations in other countries. The Ministry also agreed to a suggestion for joint offering of Tour packages in third countries by tour operators of India and Nepal. The Nepalese delegation sought Indias cooperation in the development of Hotel Infrastructure in Nepal. They also suggested joint promotion and development of Buddhist Tourism sites in both the countries. The Indian side suggested joint venture with Nepal in Himalayan and Adventure Tourism. The above agreement will help in improving the tourism infrastructure both in India and Nepal. o o

August
The Second ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (Plus) (ADMM Plus) was held in Brunei on 29 August. The Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh led the Indian delegation at the meeting. The Ministers issued a joint Declaration at the end of the meeting in which it has been decided that the ADMM Plus

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countries will establish practical measures that reduce vulnerability to miscalculation and avoid misunderstanding and undesirable incidents at sea. The Minister of State for Railways Kotla Jaya Surya Prakash Reddy in written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha on 23 August, informed that, the present peak power requirement of Indian Railways is around 4000 Mega Watt (MW). Preliminary discussions have been held with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) for exploring the possibility of setting up of a nuclear power plant of 1400 MW capacity in Joint Venture with them. The thermal power plant of 1000 MW capacity being set up in Joint Venture (JV) with NTPC Ltd. is presently under construction and its first unit of 250 MW is likely to be commissioned by 2014 and subsequent units thereafter. Five New Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIITs) in the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode have started from this academic session. They are Chittoor in Andhra, Kota in Rajasthan, Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu, Guwahati in Assam and Vadodara in Gujarat. This is a part of a major step taken by the HRD Ministry to promote 20 IIITs in the current Five Year Plan under this scheme. Five more are expected to start from the next year. These institutes are steps forward in promoting academia industries partnership in technical education as the content of the Syllabi will be Industry aligned. The employability of the students will vastly improve. There will be more Research in the specific field required by the IT Industry and there will be greater interface between Teaching and Industry. The next five IIITs to start functioning from 2014-15 are in Kerala, Himachal, Madhya Pradesh, Tripura and Karnataka. The Minister of State for Railways Kotla Jaya Surya Prakash Reddy in written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha on 23 August, informed that, the present peak power requirement of Indian Railways is around 4000 Mega Watt (MW). Preliminary discussions have been held with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) for exploring the possibility of setting up of a nuclear power plant of 1400 MW capacity in Joint Venture with them. The thermal power plant of 1000 MW capacity being set up in Joint Venture (JV) with NTPC Ltd. is presently under construction and its first unit of 250 MW is likely to be commissioned by 2014 and subsequent units thereafter. Minister of State for Civil Aviation, K. C. Venugopal informed the Lok Sabha on 23 August that the Government of India has granted in-principle approval for setting up of a Greenfield airport at Kannur in Kerala. The project is to be implemented on Build Own and Operate (BOO) model. The State Government of Kerala has appointed M/s Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (KINFRA) as a nodal agency for the construction of the Kannur Airport. M/s KINFRA has formed a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), namely M/s Kannur International Airport Limited (KIAL), for the development of the airport. Ministry of Environment & Forest has granted necessary environment clearance to the project. M/s KIAL has acquired 1278 acres of land so far. M/s KIAL has requested for financial assistance under Viability Gap Funding (VGF) scheme. Ministry of Civil Aviation has supported the request of M/s KIAL and requested Ministry of Finance to grant the VGF. Special Envoy of India for Sudan and South Sudan and Special Secretary (Development Partnership Administration), Ministry of External Affairs, P.S. Raghavan paid an official visit to Juba, South Sudan on 08-09 August 2013. The visit came only a day after the swearing in of the new 18-member South Sudanese Cabinet, reflective of Indias strong commitment in partnering South Sudan, which gained independence only in July 2011, in its political transition process. In fact, Raghavan was the first foreign dignitary to interact with the new South Sudanese leadership. Raghavan had detailed discussions with the President of South Sudan H.E. Gen Salva Kiir, as well as with the key Ministers of Foreign Affairs; Electricity; Health; Agriculture and Rural Development; Petroleum, Mining and Industry as well as high level officials of the Ministry of Finance. He also interacted with key members of the Indian community based in Juba as well as representatives of the Indian contingent of the peacekeepers attached to the United Nations Mission for South Sudan (UNMISS). India has two battalions of 2,200 personnel in UNMISS, deployed in two of the largest states in South Sudan, Jonglei and Upper Nile, since 2011.The visit was useful for identifying Indias development projects for South Sudan. The visit was also undertaken in preparation for the forthcoming visit of the South Sudanese President to India, scheduled from 26-28 August 2013. President Kiir will be accompanied by a high level delegation of Ministers, senior officials and business leaders. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Centre signed an agreement in New Delhi on 12th August for US $ 300 million additional loan to upgrade 254 km of deteriorated highways in northern and southern Bihar. The additional financing for the ongoing Bihar State Highways-II Project will widen the sections of existing four highways to two lanes, build and maintain bridges and repair the pavements. It will optimize access to the state highway network for the beneficiaries living in remote villages. The loan agreement was signed by Nilaya Mitash, joint secretary (multilateral institutions), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Centre, and Narhari Rao, deputy

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country director for India, on behalf of ADB.

The project agreement was signed by Sunil Barthwal, resident commissioner of Bihar and Ranjit Kumar Mishra, DGM (tech), Bihar State Road Development Corporation Ltd. The ADB has supported Bihar's State Highway Development Programme through assistance to Bihar State Highways Project-I (US $ 420 million, closed in July, 2012) followed by Project-II (US $ 300 million, signed in December, 2010). Together, the projects are reconstructing 1,209km of state highways. India and Senegal enjoy age-old friendly relations and to reaffirm their commitment to have sustained cultural exchanges by signing MoU for Executive Programme for Cultural Cooperation between India and Senegal for the period 2013-2015 on 29th July 2013 at New Delhi. The MoU was signed by Smt. Chandresh Kumari Katoch, Minister of Culture on behalf of Government of India and by H.E. Mr. Adboul Aziz Mbaye, Minister of Culture, on behalf of Government of Republic of Senegal. The programme is valid for three years. Thereafter, however, it will continue to be in force till a fresh Exchange Programme is signed. The Executive Programme for Cultural Cooperation seeks to: Exchange the experts in the field of theatre. Encourage training in the areas of artistic heritage, creative activities, audio visual, music, dance, theatre and puppetry. Exchange the publications on cultural heritage. Exchange canvas works and grounding mats for exhibition. Exchange experts in the field of prehistoric archaeology; provide laboratory training in the field of restoration of cultural properties and monuments. Exchange experts reciprocally with a view to promoting library activities and expertise in the fields of publishing, printing and binding. Exchange programmes depicting various facets of life and culture in the two parties through their respective Radio and TV organizations. Exchange experiences in the field of sports and explore the possibilities of exchanging sports teams/coaches in diverse disciplines. Organize cultural week featuring various aspects of its culture. India signed a Protocol amending the India - Morocco Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) in New Delhi on 8 August. The Protocol was signed by Sudha Sharma, Chairperson, Central Board of Direct Taxes on behalf of Government of India and Larbi Reffouh, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to India on behalf of Government of the Kingdom of Morocco. The Protocol is based on international standards of transparency and exchange of information. It provides for effective exchange of information including banking information between tax authorities of the two countries. It also provides that each treaty partner shall use its information gathering measures to obtain the requested information even though it may not need such information for its own domestic tax purposes. The Agreement will enhance mutual co-operation between the two countries by having effective exchange of information in tax matters.

September
India and China have agreed to initiate steps to include Media Cooperation as part of 2014 celebrations being observed to commemorate Friendly Exchanges between the two countries. Both the countries agreed to proactively consider steps to promote high level media exchanges and facilitation between the two nations. It has also been agreed to outline a roadmap to include specific projects / proposals as part of the initiative under the Media domain to be considered under activities to mark the commemoration of Friendly Exchanges celebrations. Both sides agreed that media could play an important role in acting as a bridge for better cooperation between the two countries by highlighting the positive aspects of the bilateral relationship. This was agreed upon during the meeting between Manish Tewari, Minister for Information and Broadcasting and Mr. Cai Ming Zhao, Minister of State Council Information Office. The Chinese Minister met Tewari with a High level delegation in New Delhi on 16th September. During the discussions between the two delegations it was also agreed to explore possible areas of cooperation in the field of Capacity Building, Co-production Agreements related to Films, sharing of the

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experience of institutionalizing Digitization in the Broadcasting sector and enhanced participation during the Film Festivals being held in both countries. The Government of India on 18th September, signed an Agreement and the Agreed Note for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income (DTAA) with the Government of Latvia. The Agreement and the Agreed Note were signed by Salman Khurshid, External Affairs Minister, on behalf of the Government of India and Mr. Edgars Rinkevics, Minister of Foreign Affairs, on behalf of the Government of Latvia in New Delhi. Latvia is the third Baltic country with which DTAA has been signed by India. Earlier DTAAs have been signed and have come into force with Lithuania and Estonia. The DTAA provides that business profits will be taxable in the source if the activities of an enterprise constitute a permanent establishment (PE) in the source state. The Agreement provides for fixed place PE, building site, construction or assembly PE, service PE, Off-shore exploration/exploitation PE and agency PE. The Agreement further incorporates provisions for effective exchange of information between tax authorities of the two countries in line with latest international standard, including exchange of banking information and supplying of information without recourse to domestic interest. Further, the Agreement provides for sharing of information to other agencies with the consent of supplying state. The Agreement also has an article on assistance in collection of taxes. This article also includes provision for taking measures of conservancy. The Agreement incorporates anti-abuse (limitation of benefits) provisions to ensure that the benefits of the Agreements are availed of by the genuine residents of the two countries. The Agreement will provide tax stability to the residents of India and Latvia and will facilitate mutual economic cooperation between the two countries. It will also stimulate the flow of investment, technology and services between India and Latvia. India has offered to help Cuba to develop its renewable energy resources. This was conveyed by Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Minister of New and Renewable Energy to Mr. Marino Murillo, Vice president of the Republic of Cuba at Havana on 20th September. Dr. Farooq Abdullah is visiting Cuba along with a high level delegation of experts to explore greater opportunities for cooperation and collaboration between the two countries. Dr. Abdullah also held detailed discussions with Mr. Alfredo Lopez Valdes, the Cuban Minister of Energy and Mines. Dr. Abdullah briefed his counterpart on the energy situation in India and Indias ambitious plans in renewable energy. He explained that India currently has over 29 GW of gridconnected installed capacity using renewable sources of energy and that it has plans over to add over 30 GW more capacity by 2017. He also dwelt on the success of Indias wind programme as well as the significant cost reductions in solar energy through the Jawahar Lal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). India and Japan have resolved to strengthen cooperation in the tourism sector. This was decided at a meeting between the visiting Japanese Senior Vice Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Mr. Hiroshi Kajiyama and Minister of State for Tourism(I/C), Dr. K. Chiranjeevi in New Delhi on 3 September. The two sides agreed to move further on signing an MOU to promote bilateral tourism relations. Dr.Chiranjeevi informed his Japanese counterpart about the various measures being taken to improve Golf Tourism and MICE Tourism in India, which may be attractive to Japenese tourists and businessmen. Indian Tourism Minister invited Japan to invest in the low budget hotel sector where India has liberalized the FDI route. Dr. Chiranjeevi told his Japanese counterpart that there was a good potential for budget hotels for tourists coming from across the world to India. Mr. Kajiyama said that the proposal for investments in the budget hotel sector could form a part of the MOU between the two countries. The Japanese Sr. Vice Tourism Minister said that he would like to lead a delegation of businessmen from Japan in the next meeting in which he hoped to conclude the agreement/MOU with India. Mr. Kajiyama informed that two Japanese airlines are operating daily flights between India and Japan, which is an indication of the gravity of tourist traffic between countries. Japan has set for itself a target of attracting 10 million visitors from across the world to Japan. Japan Tourism is organizing a world class two-day INDIA-JAPAN TOURISM EXPO in New Delhi on 13 to 17 January, 2014.

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Economic Affairs 2013


January
The government on 1 February, granted Maharatna status to BHEL and GAIL, a development which will provide them greater financial and functional autonomy and also ensure better valuation for shares of the two PSUs. A Maharatna firm can take investment decision of up to Rs 5,000 crore without going to the government. For Navratna firms, this limit is Rs 1,000 crore. The apex committee, headed by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth, has approved both the proposals for awarding the status to these two PSUs as they meet the eligibility criteria to qualify for the status. Both the companies meet the eligibility criteria in terms of net worth, turnover and net profit. A company qualifying for the Maharatna status should have an average annual turnover of more than Rs 25,000 crore in the last three years, according to the Department of Public Enterprises guidelines. Among others, the PSU must have a net worth of over Rs 15,000 crore and net profit of more than Rs 5,000 crore during the last three years. The development will help the government get a better price for its equity in BHEL which will be offloaded as part of the disinvestment programme. The government is proposing to sell the equity in the power equipment major in the next fiscal. Indias overall food grain production in the 2012-13 crop marketing year that would end in June 2013 was expected to be around 250 million tones, nine million tones less than last years revised record output of almost 259 million tones because of low production during the kharif sowing season, Agriculture Secretary Ashish Bahuguna said on 29 january. According to the governments first advanced estimate, food grain production during the 2012-13 kharif season is expected to be almost 9.8 per cent less than the kharif production of 2011-12 because of an uneven southwest monsoon in most parts of the country. However, production of wheat during the ongoing rabi harvest season is expected to near 2011-12s harvest of around 94 million tones. According to official data, the area sown under wheat has declined to 29.4 million hectares so far in the current rabi season, from 29.5 5 million hectares in the yearago period. Rabi (winter crop) sowing starts from October onwards and harvesting begins from Februaryend. The government has kept a conservative production target for wheat at 86 million tones for the current year. States like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are likely to be affected as area under rabi crops is lower, while Karnataka, Rajasthan and Gujarat (which suffered drought during the Kharif season) are doing well. Sowing of crops like wheat, rice, maize and oilseeds like soybean is taken up well by farmers as the markets for these commodities are developed. However, the same is not the case with minor oilseeds like sunflower and cereals like jowar and bajra. Government on 31 January, revised the economic growth for fiscal 2011-12 to 6.2% from the earlier estimate of 6.5% .However, as per the first revised estimates of national income, consumption expenditure, saving and capital formation, the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) for the fiscal 2010-11 has been revised upwards to 9.3% from 8.4%."GDP at factor cost at constant (2004-05) prices in 2011-12 is estimated at Rs 52, 43,582 crore as against Rs 49, 37,006 crore in 2010-11, registering a growth of 6.2% during the year as against a growth of 9.3% in the year 2010-11," the estimates showed. The estimates were released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation for 2011-12, along with second revised estimates for the year 2010-11 and third revised estimates for 2009-10. At current prices, CSO said that GDP in 2011-12 is estimated at Rs 83, 53,495 crore as against Rs 72, 66,967 crore in 2010-11, showing an increase of 15%, as against an increase of 19% in the previous fiscal. The CSO said that the per capita income in real terms (at 2004-05 prices) is estimated at Rs 38,037 for 2011-12 as against Rs 36,342 in 2010-11, registering an increase of 4.7% during the year, as against an increase of 7.2% during the previous year. The per capita income at current prices is estimated at Rs 61,564 in 2011-12 as against Rs 54,151 for the previous year, depicting a growth of 13.7%, as against an increase of 17.1% during the previous year. The data further said that the growth in the GDP during 2011-12 has been achieved due to expansion in financing, insurance, real estate and business services (11.7%), transport, storage and communication (8.4%), electricity, gas and water supply (6.5%) and trade, hotels and restaurants (6.2%). The government on 31 January approved the Rs 200-crore revival package of ailing Lucknow-based public sector undertaking Scooters India Ltd (SIL) that includes debt waiver of nearly Rs 112 crore. The Cabinet also decided to hike salaries of employees of the two-wheeler maker. Their retirement age has also been increased to 60 years. According to sources, the clearance for revival has come in view of implications

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relating to the fate of about 1,000 employees of Scooter India, though the Finance Ministry had expressed reservations about providing such a package to the ailing unit. According to an official statement, the revival package will result in improvement of SIL's productivity through enhanced capacity utilization and improvement in efficiency. This would also lead to improved sales and employment generation in the area. Besides, it stated, the increase in production and sales will result in enhanced contribution to the exchequer. The automobile company has been incurring losses since 2002-03. In March 2009, the company was declared sick. SIL's net loss stood at about Rs 20 crore during the 2011-12 fiscal. Incorporated in 1972, SIL initially manufactured scooters under the brand name Vijai Super for the domestic market and Lambretta for overseas markets. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on 31 January, gave its approval to authorize ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) to acquire Participating Interest (PI) owned by Hess Corporation's whollyowned subsidiaries in the upstream and midstream oil and gas assets in Azerbaijan comprising 2.7213 percent PI in the Azeri Chirag Guneshli (ACG) contract area and 2.36 percent PI in Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline for an investment of US$ 1001 million, plus certain adjustments including working capital, interest from the economic date and other defined elements on cash sink basis, and also authorized OVL to incur expenses so as to keep the total exposure up to the approved amount i.e. US $ 1001 million at all times. The acquisition shall provide OVL, oil production of about 1 Million Ton per year for about a decade. In addition to oil revenue, the investment would enable OVL to enter into Azerbaijan, which is rapidly emerging into a strategically important country in the CIS region. Acquiring a stake in the strategic BTC pipeline would provide OVL the opportunity to enhance its portfolio around the region and transport crude from future assets, which the company may acquire in the Caspian Sea in the future. SpiceJet, the low-cost carrier, will become the only private Indian airline to fly to China starting on 8 February, when it will launch four weekly flights from New Delhi to Guangzhou. The first flight by an Indian airline to the southern port city , home to one of the biggest Indian expatriate communities in China as well as the centre of the countrys manufacturing heartland , will leave New Delhi on February 8.While much of India's trade with China is driven by the southern manufacturing provinces, Shanghai is the only major southern mainland city that is connected directly to India, through Air India and Air China flights. The Chinese carrier operates 14 weekly flights to New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, from Shanghai, Chengdu and Beijing, while Air India flies from Shanghai to New Delhi. The lack of adequate direct air connectivity between India and China has been seen by officials in both countries as an obstacle to boosting closer commercial engagement, even as trade has seen rapid growth this past decade. China became Indias biggest trade partner in 2011, with trade reaching $73 billion. Bilateral trade fell to $66 billion last year on account of the downturn.Spice Jet is looking to target the business community and will focus its China strategy on the southern part of the country. The airline is also looking into launching flights to Macau and Zhuhai, besides Hong Kong. Jet Airways became the first Indian carrier to fly to China when it launched a flight from Mumbai to Shanghai and onward to San Francisco in 2008. The flight was subsequently discontinued amid lower than expected load factors and after the carrier began to rationalise its routes on account of financial troubles. Reserve Bank of India slashed Repo Rate to 7.75 Percent and CRR to 4 Percent The Reserve Bank of India on 29 January 2013 slashed its key interest rates by 0.25 per cent and released 18000 crore rupees additional liquidity into the system to perk up growth through reduced cost of borrowing. RBI in its third quarter monetary policy review surprised the market by cutting short-term lending rate called repo, by 0.25 per cent to 7.75 per cent and Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) by similar margin to 4 per cent. The repo rate cut will reduce the cost of borrowing for individuals and corporates, whereas the reduction in CRR, which is the portion of deposits that banks have to park with RBI, would improve the availability of funds. Unveiling the policy review in Mumbai, RBI stated that the stance of monetary policy in this review is intended to provide an appropriate interest rate environment to support growth as inflation risks moderate. CRR cut will have impact on long term interest rates. The RBI, however, has reduced the growth projections for the current financial year to 5.5 per cent from its earlier estimate of 5.8 per cent. On inflation, it moderated the rate to 6.8 per cent for March-end from earlier projection of 7.5 per cent. The repo rate, which was cut last in April 2012, stands revised at 7.75 per cent with immediate effect, while the liquidity infusing CRR stands at 4 per cent effective February 9th. Inflation has been the prime inhibiting factor that has prevented the RBI from cutting repo rate in the last nine months, which have seen a host of liquidity infusing measures like a cut of 1.75 per cent in CRR, government bond buybacks and a one percentage point cut in SLR. RBI however, added the caveat stating that the stance will depend on how the government manages the risk from the twin deficits on the fiscal and current account side, and the evolving growth-inflation dynamics. Stating that the widening current account deficit, which represents the

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differential between the foreign exchange, earned and expended through trade and services, is a big concern, RBI said the number is expected to widen in third quarter, beyond the 5.4 percent in the preceding quarter. Union Ministry for Commerce launched eBiz Portal to Provide one Stop Shop for all Investment The Union Minister for Commerce on 28 January 2013 launched an eBiz portal at the CII Partnership Summit in Agra . The portal is Indias Government-to-Business (G2B) portal developed by Infosys in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) Model. This Mission Mode Project will mark a paradigm shift in the Governments approach to providing Government-to-Business (G2B) services for Indias investor and business communities. In order to enable businesses and investors to save time and costs and in order to improve the business environment in the country, an online single window was conceptualized in the form of the eBiz Mission Mode Project under the National e-Governance Plan. The project aims to create a business and investor friendly ecosystem in India by making all business and investment related regulatory services across Central, State and local governments available on a single portal, thereby obviating the need for an investor or a business to visit multiple offices or a plethora of websites. The core value of the transformational project lies in a shift in the Governments service delivery approach from being department-centric to customer-centric. E-Biz will create a 24x7 facility for information and services and will also offer joined-up services where a single application submitted by a customer, for a number of permissions, clearances, approvals and registrations will be routed automatically across multiple governmental agencies in a logical manner. An inbuilt payment gateway will also add value by allowing all payments to be collected at one point and then apportioned, split and routed to the respective heads of account of Central and State agencies along with generation of challans and MIS reports. This payment gateway is the first of its kind designed in India and can become a universal payment gateway for all eGovernance applications. The eBiz Project is the first of its kind ever implemented in the country. It marks the highest level of maturity in web-based eGovernance applications as it strives to achieve horizontal integration across various verticals of Central government, State governments and Para-statal agencies. The first phase of the project, which was being launched, provides an interactive tool that helps investors assess the Licenses and Permits requirements while setting up and operating a business in India. The License & Permit Information wizard will provide authentic information 24X7 to investors and businesses by providing answers to questions in an interview style format. Diesel prices to be hiked 40-50 paise every month Diesel prices will be hiked by 40-50 paise per litre every month till losses on the nation's most used fuel are completely wiped out, oil minister M Veerappa Moily said on 2 February. "Until further orders, oil marketing companies can increase it (diesel price) by 40-50 paise (per litre) every month," he told reporters here. The government had on January 17 decided to move towards deregulating or freeing diesel prices from state control and gave powers to state-owned oil firms to raise prices in small measures every month till all of their losses are wiped out. 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 Company said 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.

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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 20122013, 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 Global growth would reach 3.5 percent in 2013, from 3.2 percent in 2012 o Crisis risks would narrow down but the downside risks will remain crucial o 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

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trade, SBI officials believe the increasing trade from northern China and particularly through the fastdeveloping 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 in 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 ATDCJUKI 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 South 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

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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 rainfall 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-after-year. 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.

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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 misselling 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 independent 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 guidelines 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

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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 April-September 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 January 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.

February
The Minister of State for Commerce & Industry Dr. S. Jagathrakshakan in written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha on 27 February gives information that, as a part of Government's initiative to improve the business environment and the ease of doing business in the country, the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry launched the eBiz portal on 28.01.2013 comprising Licenses and Permits Services component that will allow business users to obtain a customized list of licenses, permits, and regulations that they require or need to comply with across all levels of government. eBiz will serve as a 24X7 online single-window system for providing efficient and convenient Government to Business (G2B) services to the business community, by reducing the complexity in obtaining information and services related to starting businesses in India, and dealing with licenses and permits across the business life-cycle. Economic Survey 2012-13 Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on 27 February presented the Economic Survey 2012-13 in the

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Lok Sabha of the Parliament. India's Economic Survey for 2012-13 pegs the country's growth at 6.1-6.7% and inflation at 6.2-6.6% for the next fiscal 2013-14 and made a strong call for cutting subsidies. Economic Survey is presented every year, just before the Union Budget. It is a flagship annual document of the Ministry of Finance, Government of India. The economic survey 2012-13 was prepared by a team of economists led by Chief Economic Advisor Raghuram Rajan, and pitches for speeding up economic reforms to activate a sluggish economy. It serves as an indicator of what is likely to be contained in the General Budget proposals. Following are the major Highlights of the Economic Survey 2012-13 GDP growth seen at 6.1-6.7 percent in 2013/14 Government target for fiscal deficit is 4.8 pct of GDP in 2013/14 Government target for fiscal deficit is 3 pct of GDP in 2016/17 Headline WPI inflation may decline to 6.2-6.6 pct by March2013 Focus on curbing imports, making oil prices more market determined to reign in current account deficit Prioritization of expenditure seen as key ingredient of credible medium-term fiscal consolidation plan Raising tax to GDP ratio to more than 11 percent seen as critical for sustaining fiscal consolidation India likely to meet fiscal deficit target of 5.3 pct of GDP in 2012/13, despite significant shortfall in revenues Recommends curbing gold imports to reign in current account deficit Industrial output seen growing around 3 pct in 2012/13 Govt priority to fight inflation by reducing fiscal impetus to demand as well as by focusing on incentivizing food production. More jobs in low productivity construction sector Balance of Payments under pressure with net exports decline Service sector has shown more resilience despite global slowdown Pitches for hike in price of diesel and LPG to cut subsidy burden Railway freight grows by 5.1 per cent in 2012-13 Foreign Exchange reserves remains steady at USD 295.6 Billion at December 2012 end.

Union Budget 2013-14 The Union finance minister on 28 February presented the Budget for the year 2013-14. Some of the key points that were highlighted by Chidambaram in the Budget are: No change in slabs and rate for personal income tax. Tax credit of Rs 2000 to be provided to every person to having income of up to Rs 5 lakh, this will benefit 1.8 crore people. 5 to 10 per cent surcharge on domestic companies whose taxable income exceeds Rs 10 crore. Commodities transaction tax levied on non-agriculture commodities futures contracts at 0.01 per cent. Modified GAAR norms to be introduced from April 1, 2016. No change in peak rate of customs duty for non-agriculture products. Direct Taxes Code (DTC) bill to be introduced in current Parliament session. No change in basic customs duty rate of ten per cent and service tax rate of 12 per cent. Import duty on rice bran oilcake withdrawn. Series of concessions granted to Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) business in the aviation sector. Import duty raised on set-top boxes from 5 to 10 per cent to safeguard interest of domestic producers. 10 per cent customs duty to be levied on unprocessed illuminate. Import duty rose from 75 to 100 per cent on luxury vehicles. Duty free limit on gold rose to Rs 50,000 in case of male and Rs 100,000 in case of female. No countervailing duty on ships and vessels. Specific excise duty on cigarettes and cigars raised by 18 per cent. Excise duty on SUVs to be increased to 30 per cent from 27 per cent, SUVs registered as taxis exempted. Vocational courses offered by state-affiliated institutes to be exempted from services tax. Duty on mobiles above Rs 2,000 rose from one to six per cent, based on their maximum retail prices. Service tax to be levied on all a/c restaurants.

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One time voluntary compliance scheme for service tax defaulters to be introduced. Interest and penalties to be waived. Direct tax proposals to yield Rs 13,300 crore, indirect tax proposal to give Rs 4,700 crore. Education cess to continue at 3 per cent. Contributions made to central and state government health scheme eligible to tax benefit. Eligibility conditions for life insurance policies of persons suffering disabilities to be liberalized. Investor Protection Fund set up by depositories will be exempt from tax. Transactions on immovable properties usually undervalued. TDS of one per cent on value of properties above Rs 50 lakh. Agriculture land exempted. Securities Transaction Tax (STT) reduced on equity future, mutual fund. Fiscal deficit will be 5.2 per cent in current year and 4.8 per cent in the next fiscal. Will redeem our pledge to reduce fiscal deficit to 3 per cent by 2016-17 and revenue deficit to 1.5 per cent of GDP. Tax Administration Reform Commission to be set up to regularly review tax law applications. In 2011-12, tax-GDP ratio was 5.5 per cent for direct taxes and 4.6 per cent for indirect taxes. Surcharge of 10 per cent for individuals whose taxable income is over Rs 1 crore. Plan expenditure pegged at Rs 555,322 crore. Non plan expenditure pegged at Rs 11,09,975 crore for 2013-14. Low interest rate funds to be provided from Clean Energy Fund for green projects for a period of five years. Generation-based incentives to wind energy projects reintroduced, Rs 800 crore provided for the purpose to Ministry of New & Renewable Energy. Constraints will not come in the way for providing additional funds for security of the nation. Rs 2, 03,672 crore, including Rs 86,741 crore capital expenditure to Defence in 2013-14. Grant of Rs 100 crore each to AMU (Aligarh), BHU (Varanasi) and TISS (Guwahati) and INTACH. National Institute for Sports to train coaches to be set up at Patiala at a cost of Rs 250 crore. Rs 532 crore to make post offices part of core banking. Rs 5, 87,082 crore to be transferred to states under share of taxes and non plan grants in 2013-14. Comprehensive social security package being evolved by convergence of several schemes run by various ministries. Investor with stake of 10 per cent or less will be treated as FII; any stake more than 10 per cent will be treated as FDI. FIIs will be allowed to participate in exchange traded currency derivatives. Small and medium companies to be allowed to listed on MSME exchange without making a public offer. Concessional six per cent interest on loans to weavers. Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) to submit its report next month. Govt to construct power transmission system from Srinagar to Leh at the cost of Rs 1,840 crore, Rs 226 crore provided in current Budget. Plan expenditure in 12th Five Year Plan revised to Rs 14, 30,825 crore or 96 per cent of budgeted expenditure. Budget expenditure is Rs 16, 65,297 crore and Plan expenditure Rs 5,55, 322 crore The revised expenditure target is Rs 14, 30,825 crore or 96 per cent of Budget estimate for this fiscal. In 2013-14, the budget estimate is Rs 6, 65,297 crore. One overarching goal to provide education and skills to youth for securing jobs in the 2013-14. FM allocates Rs 41,561 crore for SC sub-plan; Rs 24,598 crore for tribal sub plan. Additional sum of Rs 200 crore to Women and Child Welfare Ministry to address issues of vulnerable women. Rs 3511 crore allocated to Minority Affairs Ministry which is 60 per cent of the revised estimates. CFM allocates Rs 41,561 crore for SC sub-plan; Rs 24,598 crore for tribal sub plan. Rs 3511 crore allocated to Minority Affairs Ministry which is 60 per cent of the revised estimates. Rs 110 crore to be allocated to the department of disability affairs. Rs 37,330 crore allocated for Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. Rs 1069 crore allocated to Department of Ayush. In the Budget Rs 65,867 crore allocated to Ministry of HRD in 2013-14. Medical colleges in six more AIIMS-like institutions to start functioning this year; Rs 1650 crore allocated for the purpose.

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Rs 5,284 crore to various Ministries for scholarships for SC/ST, OBC and minority students. Rs 13,215 crore to be provided for mid-day meal scheme. Rs 17,700 crore provided for Integrated Child Development Scheme. Rs 15,260 crore to be allocated to Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. Rs 17,700 crore to be allocated for Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). Rs 80,194 crore allocation for Ministry of Rural Development in 2013-14. About Rs 33,000 crore for MGNREGA Rs 80,194 crore allocated for rural development schemes. States which have completed Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana will be eligible for PMGSYII, others will continue with PMGSY-I. Rs 14,873 crore for JNNURM for urban transportation in 2013-14 against Rs 7,880 crore in the current fiscal. Food grain production in 2012-13 will be over 250 million tons. Average annual growth rate of agriculture and allied services estimated at 3.6 per cent in 2012-13 when 250 MT food grains was produced. Rs 27,049 crore allocation to the Agriculture Ministry in 2013-14. Rs 7 lakh crore targets fixed for agriculture credit for 2013-14 compared to Rs 5.75 lakh crore in the current year. Eastern Indian states to get Rs 1,000 crore allocation for improving agricultural production. Green revolution in east India significant. Rice output increased in Assam, Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal; Rs 1,000 crore allocated for eastern states. Indian Institute of Biotechnology will be set up at Ranchi. Rs 10,000 crore set aside for incremental cost for National Food Security Bill over and above food subsidy. Four Infrastructure debt fund have been registered. Tax free bonds issue to be allowed up to Rs 50,000 crore in 2013-14 strictly on capacity to raise funds from the market. Rs 5,000 crore will be made available to NABARD to finance construction of godowns and warehouses. Government has decided to constitute a regulatory authority for the road sector. Rajiv Gandhi Equity Scheme will be liberalised to allow first time investor to invest in Mutal Fund and equity. First housing loan up to Rs 25 lakh would get additional deduction of interest of up to Rs 1 lakh in 2013-14. Govt to construct power transmission system from Srinagar to Leh at the cost of Rs 1,840 crore, Rs 226 crore provided in current Budget. Current account deficit continues to be high due to excessive dependence on oil, coal and gold imports and slowdown in exports. DIPP and Japan's JICA preparing plan for Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial corridor. Two new major ports to be set up in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. Oil and gas exploration policy will be reviewed and moved from profit sharing to revenue sharing. Policy on exploration of shale gas on the anvil; natural gas pricing policy will be reviewed and uncertainty removed. Govt to set up India's first women's bank as a public sector bank by October. Coal imports during Apr-Dec 2012 crossed 100 million tonnes and expected to go up to 185 million tonnes in 2016-17. 5 million tons Dabhol LNG import terminal to be operate at full capacity in 2013-14 SIDBI's re-financing facility to MSMEs to be doubled to Rs 10,000 crore. Incubators set up by companies in academic institutions will qualify for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities. Rs 500 crore would be allocated for addressing environmental issues faced by textile industry. Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) to submit its report next month. Standing Council of Experts in Ministry of Finance to examine transaction cost of doing business in India. Rs 14,000 crore capital infusion into public sector banks in 2013-14. PSU banks to have ATMs at all their branches by March 31, 2014. Rs 6,000 crore to be allocated for rural housing fund in 2013-14. All Regional Rural Banks and cooperative banks to be e-linked by this year-end.

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Insurance companies will be empowered to open branches in Tier-II cities with approval of IRDA. National Housing Bank (NHB) to set up urban housing bank fund and Rs 2,000 crore will be allocated in this regard. Public sector general insurance companies to set up adalts to clear disputes related to claims. Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana benefit will be extended to rickshaw pullers, auto and taxi drivers and sanitation workers. Comprehensive social security package being evolved by convergence of several schemes run by various ministries. Investor with stake of 10 per cent or less will be treated as FII; any stake more than 10 per cent will be treated as FDI. FIIs will be allowed to participate in exchange traded currency derivatives. Small and medium companies to be allowed to listed on MSME exchange without making a public offer.

Retirement fund body EPFO on 25 February decided to pay 8.5 per cent interest rate to its over five crore subscribers on their PF deposits for 2012-13, higher than 8.25 per cent provided in the previous fiscal. The decision was taken at the meeting of the Central Board of Trustees (CBT), the highest decision making body of the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). The meeting was chaired by Labour Minister. "A decision has been taken to pay 8.5 per cent interest on PF deposits ... but we have expressed our reservations as we wanted higher interest rate," said DL Sachdev, secretary All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) after the CBT meeting. Earlier, a note prepared by EPFO for consideration of the February 15 meeting of the Finance and Investment Committee (FIC) had said, "... 8.5 per cent rate of interest for the year 2012-13 is feasible." According to the EPFO's estimates, payment of 8.6 per cent interest rate would result in a deficit of Rs 240.49 crore whereas 8.5 per cent interest rate on PF deposits for current fiscal would leave a surplus of Rs 4.13 crore. In FIC meeting held on February 15, union leaders refused to discuss the issue regarding payment of interest in the current fiscal because the agenda note for the issue was not provided well in advance to them, sources said adding the note was tabled during the meeting. Anand Sharma, Union Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles on 12 February, accepted and unveiled a Task Group report to make India an International Trading hub for rough diamonds. The task group on diamonds was constituted by the Minister of Commerce, Industries and Textiles under the Chairmanship of Director General of Foreign Trade, Dr. Anup K. Pujari keeping in view the slump in exports of diamonds from India through the last few quarters. Some of the recommendations in report include setting up of a Special Notified Zone for import and trading of rough diamonds, permission to import cut and polished diamonds duty free up to the extent of 15% of the average of previous 3 years exports and reducing the rate of computation of profit under Benign Assessment Procedure (BAP) from 6% to 2.5%, amongst others. India is the largest diamond cutting and polishing center in the world, committed to continuing as a responsible and active member of the Kimberley Process Certification System by implementing all its regulations. This report is of great importance to the Government as India currently enjoys the status of the foremost hub for manufacturing of diamonds in the world. Diamond Exports is also a major contributor to the merchandise exports of the country. It also employs a large number of people from the underprivileged section of the society in India. Sharma appreciated the suggestions of the Task Group to help India retain its primacy as a trading hub, committed to take up the recommendations, which have been put forward with the concerned departments of the Govt. in a time bound manner so as to decrease the transaction cost of exports, simplify the compliance of the trade with taxation authorities and benefit the trade with the natural resources that is emanating out of India. Indian business aviation firm Aviator on 14 February, signed an order for supply of seven EC135 helicopters from chopper major Eurocopter to be used for emergency medical services. The firm order for an initial batch of seven Eurocopter EC135s for helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) operations was signed by the two companies in the presence of French President Francois Hollande. A second order is expected to be carried out later this year and rapid growth is anticipated in the HEMS market as many as 50 helicopters are expected to be deployed throughout the country in the coming years, Eurocopter said in a statement. This is one of the first chopper orders placed by an Indian company for HEMS purposes. The EC135 is operated worldwide for a broad range of missions, including HEMS, law enforcement, rescue operations and business aviation. Eurocopter is part of the Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter Group and a division of the global aerospace and defence conglomerate EADS. There are currently over 11,780 Eurocopter civil and military helicopters in service in 148 countries.

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Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) the stock market regulator of India on 13 February 2013 ordered freezing of bank accounts and attachment of properties of two Sahara group firms Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd., and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd. and its Chairman Subrata Roy as well as top executives Vandana Bhargava, Ravi Shanker Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary after it failed to refund more than 24,000 crore rupees to investors. The decision from the market regulator came after the Supreme Court of India granted it the freedom to freeze the accounts of the two companies and attach the properties of the defaulting groups. The market regulator gave 21 days time to Sahara Firms to submit the details of the investments done and not listed in an order. SEBIs orders restricts the Sahara India Estate Corporation from operating its demat accounts and redeeming the mutual fund units held by it as well as from transferring the shares controlled by it to any other body or company. The MCX-SX benchmark index SX40 went live with its equity-trading platform on both equities and equity derivatives on 11 February, Reliance Industries, Suzlon shares got spotlighted on MCX Stock Exchange launch. MCX-SX became the third full-fledged equity bourse after BSE and NSE in the country. The bourse was formally launched by Finance Minister P Chidambaram on 9 February. SX40 is a free-float based index of large-cap and liquid stocks, representing diverse sectors. The base value will be 10,000 with a base date of March 31, 2010, the exchange had said. The constituents of SX40 include ACC, ONGC, RIL, Tata Motors, TCS, Coal India, among others. The benchmark includes companies that have a minimum free float of 10 per cent and is within the top 100 liquid companies. Parle-G in February 2013 became the first Indian FMCG brand that crossed 5000 crore Rupees mark in terms of retail sales in one year. Parle Products were launched in 1939 when the British ruled India. Factually, Parle Products in 2012 sold 5010 crore rupees worth glucose biscuits at the retail price, surpassing the domestic sales of Godrej products and Dabur, while at the same time also selling thrice more products than Maggi. This means that Parle Products sold over 100 crore packets of the glucose biscuits every month, or 14600 crore biscuits in 2012. Parle-G that has less than 1 billion dollar sales in a year, but even then it has good lead over its rivals such as Hindustan Unilever's Wheel and Ghari Detergent. Parle -Gs share increased from 67 percent in 2002 to 79 percent in 2012. Comparatively, shares of Britannia's Tiger and ITC's Sun feast brand fell down The exports of India increased by 0.8 percent in the month of January 2013 to 25.58 billion US dollars. Comparatively, exports in January 2012 were 25.37 billion US dollars. Imports on the other hand, increased by 6.12 percent to 45.5 billion US dollars. During April to January 2012 -2013, the overseas shipments of India dropped by 4.86 percent to 239.6 billion US dollars. The main concern for the country is however to widen the trade deficit. As a cumulative result, the exports depicted an arrest in decreasing exports. Now, the result is -4.9 percent. Import of crude oil was growing at a faster pace. Oil imports in January 2013 increased by 6.91 percent to 15.89 billion US dollars in comparison to 14.87 billion US dollars in January 2012. American Airlines and US Airways have agreed to merge in an $11 billion deal to create the world's biggest airline. The combined carrier will be called American Airlines but run by US Airways CEO Doug Parker. The boards of the two airlines unanimously approved the 13February, and the companies announced the agreement on 14 February. The merger would reduce the number of major U.S. airlines to four: the new American, United, Delta and Southwest. The deal is a coup for smaller US Airways Group Inc., which pushed for a merger almost as soon as American parent AMR Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2011. While Parker runs the company, AMR CEO Tom Horton will serve as chairman until its first shareholder meeting, likely in mid-2014. AMR interests including creditors will own 72 percent of the new company and US Airways shareholders 28 percent. The companies said merging would create savings of more than $1 billion a year. The merger will be part of AMR's plan for exiting bankruptcy protection. The airlines said they expect $1 billion in combined savings. The new American would have more than 900 planes, 3,200 daily flights and about 95,000 employees, not counting regional affiliates. It will be slightly bigger than United Airlines by passenger traffic, not counting regional affiliate airlines. The inflation rate of India dropped down to the three-year low in the chart to 6.62 percent in January 2013 from the 7.18 percent, measured in December 2012. The inflation was measured based upon monthly Wholesale Price Index. The official Wholesale Price Index for All Commodities (Base: 2004-05 = 100) in January, 2013 rose by 0.4 percent to 169.2 (Provisional) from 168.6 (Provisional) for the previous month. Slowing exports and decline in investments and low demand in the domestic market have been a major factor in slipping down the growth rate of India. The two factors have affected the manufacturing as well as service sectors of India. The growth forecast for the running fiscal year that would end on 31 March 2013 was lowered by the Indias Statistical Office to 5 percent. The Reserve Bank of India also changed its forecast from 5.8 percent to 5.5 percent. To revive a fresh air in the slowing down economic conditions of India, the Reserve

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Bank took a major step of lowering the key interest rate from 8 percent to 7.75 percent; this was the first step in nine months. The Policy makers have also taken afresh steps to revive the slowing economic conditions of the nation. The Central Statistics Office (CSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation on 7 February, has released the advance estimates of national income at constant (2004-05) and current prices, for the financial year 2012-13.These advance estimates are based on anticipated level of agricultural and industrial production, analysis of budget estimates of government expenditure and performance of key sectors like, railways, transport other than railways, communication, banking and insurance, available so far. The advance estimates at current prices are derived by estimating the implicit price deflators (IPDs) at sectoral level from the relevant price indices. The salient features of these estimates are detailed below: ADVANCE ESTIMATES OF NATIONAL INCOME, 2012-13 Estimates at Constant (2004-05) Prices Gross Domestic Product Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at factor cost at constant (2004-05) prices in the year 2012-13 is likely to attain a level of Rs.55,03,476 crore, as against the First Revised Estimate of GDP for the year 2011-12 of Rs. 52,43,582 crore, released on 31st January 2013. The growth in GDP during 2012-13 is estimated at 5.0 per cent as compared to the growth rate of 6.2 per cent in 2011-12. Agriculture The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector is likely to show a growth of 1.8 per cent in its GDP during 2012-13, as against the previous years growth rate of 3.6 per cent. According to the information furnished by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC), which has been used in compiling the estimate of GDP from agriculture in 2012-13, production of food grains is expected to decline by 2.8 per cent as compared to growth of 5.2 per cent in the previous agriculture year. The production of cotton and sugarcane is also expected to decline by 4.0 per cent and 6.5 per cent, respectively, in 2012-13. Among the horticultural crops, production of fruits and vegetables is expected to increase by 3.5 per cent during the year 2012-13 as against 5.1 percent in the previous year. Industry The manufacturing sector is likely to show a growth of 1.9 per cent in GDP during 2012-13. According to the latest estimates available on the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), the index of manufacturing and electricity registered growth rates of 1.0 per cent and 4.4 per cent, respectively during April-November, 2012-13, as compared to the growth rates of 4.2 per cent and 9.5 per cent in these sectors during April-November, 2011-12. The mining sector is likely to show a growth of 0.4 per cent in 2012-13 as against negative growth of 0.6 per cent during 2011-12. The construction sector is likely to show a growth rate of 5.9 per cent during 2012-13 as against growth of 5.6 per cent in the previous year. The key indicators of construction sector, namely, cement production and steel consumption have registered growth rates of 6.1 per cent and 3.9 per cent, respectively during April-December, 2012-13. Services The estimated growth in GDP for the trade, hotels, transport and communication sectors during 2012-13 is placed at 5.2 per cent as against growth of 7.0 percent in the previous year. This is mainly on account of decline of 3.4 per cent and 4.8 per cent respectively in passengers and cargo handled in civil aviation and decline of 3.1 per cent in cargo handled at major sea ports during April-November, 2012-13. There has been an increase of 4.3 per cent in stock of telephone connections as on November 2012. The growth rate of 'community, social and personal services' during 2012-13 is estimated to be 6.8 per cent. National Income The net national income (NNI) at factor cost, also known as national income, at 2004-05 prices is likely to be Rs.47,64,819 crore during 2012-13, as against the previous year's First Revised Estimate of Rs. 45,72,075 crore. In terms of growth rates, the national income registered a growth rate of 4.2 per cent in 2012-13 as against the previous years growth rate of 6.1 per cent. Per Capita Income The per capita income in real terms (at 2004-05 prices) during 2012-13 is likely to attain a level of Rs.39,143 as compared to the First Revised Estimate for the year 2011-12 of Rs. 38,037. The growth rate in per capita income is estimated at 2.9 per cent during 2012-13, as against the previous year's estimate of 4.7 per cent. Estimates at Current Prices Gross Domestic Product

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GDP at factor cost at current prices in the year 2012-13 is likely to attain a level of Rs. 94,61,979 crore, showing a growth rate of 13.3 per cent over the First Revised Estimate of GDP for the year 2011-12 of Rs. 83,53,495 crore. National Income The NNI at factor cost at current prices is anticipated to be Rs. 83,68,571 crore during 2012-13, as compared to Rs. 73,99,934 crore during 2011-12, showing a rise of 13.1 per cent. Per Capita Income The per capita income at current prices during 2012-13 is estimated to be Rs. 68,747 as compared to Rs. 61,564 during 2011-12, showing a rise of 11.7 per cent. The Union Cabinet on 7 February gave its approval to the amendments to the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) Act 1981 The following amendments to the NABARD Act 1981 are proposed1. 2. Raising the authorized capital of NABARD to Rs. 20,000 crore from Rs. 5,000 crore. The meaning of cooperative society is proposed to be enlarged to include multistate cooperative societies registered under any Central law or any other Central or State law relating to cooperative societies. Change of ownership to facilitate the transfer of the remaining share capital of NABARD from the Reserve Bank to the Central Government. Increasing the scope of operations of NABARD under short term funding purposes and other changes.

3. 4.

The following benefits are projected by this amendment1. By increasing the authorized capital of NABARD to Rs 20,000 crore from Rs 5,000 crore, the ability of NABARD to mobilize resources from the market will be enhanced thereby new credit products, new credit linkages and new clients will be developed. The amendments allow NABARD to lend to new institutions, mainly Societies covered under multistate cooperative societies act and other central laws, producer organizations or such class of financial institutions which are approved by the Central Government. This is likely to benefit a larger segment of the financially excluded farmers in the country. The amendments allow combination of credit, creation of short term operations fund and swapping of debt of farmers. The decision of the Government to transfer the balance one percent shares to the Govt. of India from Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in NABARD shall be carried out, which will provide for increased public accountability, as the Government will acquire the equity held by RBI. NABARD will combine the post of Chairman and the post of Managing Director, into one, therefore Chairman and Managing Director, under the provisions of the NABARD Act relating to these two posts. This shall ensure a distinct line of command.

2.

3. 4.

5.

NABARD was established on 12 July 1982 to provide sharp focus to agriculture credit and rural development. NABARD adopted, as its mission, the promotion of sustainable and equitable development of agriculture and rural prosperity through effective credit support, related services, institution development and other innovative initiatives. Civil aviation minister, Ajit Singh on 8 February, released Shubh Yatra, an exclusive monthly bi-lingual (Hindi & English) in flight magazine of Air India; it covers travel, lifestyle, culture and entertainment in all colour and spice. This is the new name of the in flight magazine. India is likely to produce 250.14 million tones of food grains during 2012-13 (includes kharif 2012 and rabi crops in the field at present). This, despite a drop of 7 million tones in production during kharif, owing to erratic monsoons. As per the second advance estimates of crop production released on 8 February, by the Agriculture Ministry, production of major crops except pulses is likely to be less than last year, which happened to be the year of record food grain production helped by a favourable monsoon. In the present crop year (201213), despite deficient and late rainfall in many parts of the country in the monsoon season, the estimated production is higher than the food grain production achieved any time before last year, showing the growing resilience of Indian agriculture. A number of initiatives have been taken in recent years to increase production of pulses, including raising MSP of main pulses crops significantly and special schemes to encourage farmers to

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adopt modern agronomic practices in pulses production. The assessment of production of different crops is based on the feedback received from States and validated with information available from other sources. The successful NTPC stake sale, on 7 February, fetched the government Rs.11,500 crore, the second PSU share sale in a week that was over-subscribed, helping to move closer to the Rs.30,000-crore disinvestment target. The share sale of the countrys largest power producer, NTPC, was over-subscribed 1.7 times as an offer price lower than the scrips trading rate on stock exchanges received tremendous interest from foreign investors. Coming within a week of the share sale of Oil India, the NTPC issue was also lapped up by foreign investors in a big way, making the government say there is still a huge demand for PSU shares in the market. The total demand received for the offer was 132.84 crore shares, which is 1.7 times over the 78.32 crore shares or 9.5 per cent stake on the block. The government had fixed the floor price or the minimum offer price at Rs.145 a share. The indicative price, which is the weighted average price of all valid bids, came in at Rs.145.91 at the close of the auction. The ambitious rural road scheme received a boost on 7 February, with the government clearing projects worth an estimated Rs 38,500 crore to connect left out habitations including those in 82 Naxalaffected districts and areas of Arunachal Pradesh bordering China. The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Sigh, gave "in principle" approval for connecting all habitations with a population of 100 tribals and above in 82 Naxal-hit districts with all-weather roads under the Centre's flagship programme PMGSY.In case of multi-connectivity at the block level, identified by the Union Home Ministry, it is not compulsory that tar-paved roads should be constructed in such areas where Maoists target metalled roads used by security forces. At present, the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), envisages connecting all habitations with a population of 250 persons and above in tribal areas in Naxal-affected districts. The Cabinet also gave nod to connect unconnected small villages with population below 250 in strategically important districts of Arunachal Pradesh bordering China with all- weather roads. An amount of Rs 1200 crore is expected to be cost for providing new connectivity to the habitations in the border districts of Arunachal Pradesh. Out of the state's 17 districts, 10 districts are bordering China and Myanmar and the small habitations in these districts will be major beneficiaries. Researchers have identified the world's largest prime number yet, beating the previous record by over four million digits. The number has now shot up to 2 multiplied by itself 57,885,161 times minus 1, breaking a four-year dry spell in the search for new, ever-larger primes. Curtis Cooper from the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg made the finding as part of the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS), a distributed computing project designed to hunt for a particular kind of prime number first identified in the 17th century, the 'New Scientist' reported. All prime numbers can only be divided by themselves and 1. The rare Mersenne primes all have the form 2 multiplied by itself p times minus 1, where p is itself a prime number. The new prime, which has over 17 million digits, is only the 48th Mersenne prime ever found and the 14th discovered by GIMPS. The previous record holder, 2 multiplied by itself 43,112,609 times minus 1, which was also found by GIMPS in 2008, has just under 13 million digits. All the top 10 largest known primes are Mersenne primes discovered by GIMPS. GIMPS software runs on around a thousand university computers, one of which spent 39 days straight proving that the number was prime, which was then independently verified by other researchers NTPC signs loan pact worth $250 million with SBI State-run NTPC on 6 February said it has signed a loan agreement worth USD 250 million with State Bank of India and Japan-based Mizuho Corporate Bank for financing its expansion plans. "NTPC has signed a term-loan agreement for USD 250 million (approximately Rs 1,327 crore) with the New York branch of State Bank of India and Singapore branch of Mizuho Corporate Bank as lead arrangers and lenders," the company informed the stock exchanges today.

March
Aurobindo Pharma, the leading pharmaceutical research company in India, announced on 28 March 2013 that the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) lifted import alert on the Hyderabad-based antibiotics facility. This would enable Aurobindo Pharma to export nine products in all from its Hyderabadbased facility to US market. The USFDA lifted import alert from the non-sterile products that are manufactured at the Unit-VI cephalosporin facility in Hyderabad. It is worth noticing that before this import alert, the Hyderabad-based antibiotics unit had annual sales of 33 million US dollar in America. USFDA had issued import alerts on the products of Aurobindo Pharmas Hyderabad-based cephalosporin facility in 2011 because

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of which its exports had suffered. In December 2010, the USFDA audited the cephalosporin facility, Unit VI of Aurobindo Pharma Ltd at Chitkul Village, Hyderabad. After the audit, USFDA had imposed import alert on Aurobindo Pharma. Cephalosporins are actually the class of antibiotics which are used for treatment of those infections that are caused by bacteria. Indias international financial liabilities increased by 10.5 billion Dollars to 723.9 billion Dollars as at end- of December 2012 as per the Indias International Investment Position (IIP) Report Published by RBI in March 2013. In the October-December 2012 period, international financial assets of Indian citizens remained unchanged at 441.9 billion Dollars. Net claims of non-residents on India (as reflected by the Net IIP, i.e. International financial assets abroad less International financial liabilities) increased by 10.4 billion US dollars over the previous quarter to 282.0 billion US Dollar as at end-December 2012, mainly on account of 10.5 billion US Dollar increase in liabilities. The changes in IIP also reflect the valuation changes emanating from exchange rate movements. Due to rupee depreciation during end-September 2012 to end-December 2012 equity liabilities in US Dollars term revised downwards by US Dollars 13.2 billion (8.4 billion US Dollars in direct investment and 4.8 billion US Dollars in portfolio investment). The ratio of Indias international financial assets to international financial liabilities decreased to 61.0 per cent in December 2012 (61.9 per cent in September 2012). The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has summoned the promoters of Sahara group to appear in person before it on April 10 to ascertain the details of their assets and to facilitate settling of terms of proclamation of the sale of their immovable properties attached as per Supreme Court order. The order was issued to Ashok Roy Choudhary, Ravi Shankar Dubey, Vandana Bhargava and Subrata Roy Sahara who are the directors / promoters of Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd. (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd. (SHICL). This order was issued in compliance with the direction of the Supreme Court orders of August 31, 2012 and December 5, 2012. SEBI has also directed these individuals to produce in original, all title deeds of their assets which were attached by SEBI. The Sahara group has been making an all-out effort to circumvent the orders of the courts and the capital market regulator, in an attempt not to reveal details of investors who deposited funds in the optionally fully convertible debentures (OFCD) issued by the group companies of SIRECL and SHICL. The proposed Bank announced by the BRICS leaders at their summit in Durban will focus on infrastructure development due to insufficient long-term financing and foreign direct investment, especially investment in capital stock. These are all areas of acute interest to India, said government sources as well as Indian industrialists attending the Fifth BRICS summit, which ended in Durban on 27 March. But the specifics of the scale, location and structure of the Bank will be worked out over the coming months, and some finality is likely to be achieved by September when the five leaders are likely to meet on the sidelines of the next G 20 summit in St. Petersburg. Side by side with the Bank, the BRICS summit also saw action on another front creation of a Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) amongst BRICS countries. This too has its genesis last year when, meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Los Cabos (Mexico), the BRICS leaders asked their finance ministers and central bank governors to explore the construction of a financial safety net. The summit felt that the establishment of a self-managed Contingent Reserve Arrangement would have a positive precautionary effect, help BRICS countries forestall short-term liquidity pressures, provide mutual support and further strengthen financial stability. It would also help to strengthen the global financial safety net and complement existing international arrangements as an additional line of defence. The Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) on 21 March 2013 cleared Reliance Industries' (RIL) KG-D6 and NEC-25 blocks for oil and gas exploration along with three other areas. The work on these blocks, which has an investment close to 10.7 billion has dollars, was having difficulties because of interministerial differences, particularly relating to Defence issues. Eight blocks, including RIL's Krishna Godavari basin KG-D6 block and gas discovery area of NEC-25 in the North East Coast (NEC) region, were declared NoGo zones for reasons relating to defence issues raised by the Indian Navy, and the Indian Air Force. An approval for eight blocks, was Sought by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry of which one was already renounced by the contractor, Reliance Industries Ltd. Out of the remaining seven, conditional clearance for four blocks two of Reliance Industries, one each of ONGC consortium and Cairn India were sought. The Ministry had also sought CCI approval to declare three blocks as no go areas. Two blocks belonged to the ONGC-led consortium and one to the Oil India Ltd-led consortium. The CCI, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was set up to fast-track clearances to infrastructure projects involving investments of over 1000 crore rupees.

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 19 March 2013 cut the repo rate by 25 basis points to 7.5 per cent from 7.75 percent in its mid-quarter review of the monetary policy. The change of the Repo rate is aimed to prompt growth and revive investment. Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF stands adjusted to 6.5 per cent from the earlier 6.75 per cent and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate to 8.5 per cent with immediate effect. The Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) has been retained at 4 per cent. It is for the second time since the start of the year RBI has cut down the repo rate in a bid to help revive flagging growth in Asia's third-largest economy. RBI has also warned that its scope for further policy easing is limited. The RBI will continue to actively manage liquidity through various instruments, including open market operations, to ensure adequate flow of credit to productive sectors of the economy. With the change in Repo rate, the Reserve Bank of India also announced infusion of 10000 crore rupees into the financial system by purchasing government securities as part of its liquidity injection measure. The Indian economy expanded at a 25-quarter low of 4.5% in October-December 2012 quarter, and the 2.4% rise in industrial production in January 2013 after two months of contraction suggests the recovery is still weak. The current account deficit hit a record-high 5.4 per cent in the September quarter and is expected to end the 2012/13 fiscal year at its highest level ever. Commercial production of Aishwarya Oil Field at Barmer in Rajasthan has started on 23 March 2013. The commercial production of natural gas will take place from the Rageshwari Well of Barmer region. It is expected that every day production of the oil field shall be 25000 barrels of Crude Oil and 50000 lakh cubic feet of natural gas. The gas field was dedicated to the nation by Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily and Chief Minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot. After the operations of the Barmer Oil field will reduce the import bills of the country for petroleum that is about 6.5 lakh crore rupees at present. Creation of a national gas grid is in plans of the government for better distribution of natural gas. Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) headed by Justice BN Srikrishna in its final report submitted to the Union Government of India on 22 March 2013 recommended constitution of unified financial sector regulator by deriving powers from Indian Financial Code including Commodity Derivatives Market. The 200 page long report in its key recommendations have directed the Government of India for unification of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) and Forward Markets Commission (FMC) under a single regulator. It also recommended that the Reserve Bank of India should stay as the monetary Authority Regulating Bank. As per the report of the commission, the regulatory structure shall be governed by the Financial Regulatory Architecture Act that to create a uniform legal process for the financial regulators. Before changing the legislative structure the Ministry of Finance shall unify the regulatory structure. The proposed regulatory structure will be governed by the Financial Regulatory Architecture Act that will ensure a uniform legal process for the financial regulators. The Resolution notifying the FSLRC was issued by the Government on 24 March 2011. The FSLRC is required to submit its findings within a period of 24 months. FSLRC was set up two years ago for reviewing and harmonizing the financial sector legislations, rules and regulations that have gone obsolete or outdated in about a centurys time since when it was written. Andhra Pradesh on 18 March presented a tax-free, revenue-surplus budget for 2013-14 with an overall expenditure of over Rs 1.61 lakh crore (nearly USD 30 billion). Finance Minister Anam Ramanarayana Reddy told the assembly during his budget speech that the overall expenditure during 2013-14 would be Rs 1,61,348 crore, comprising Rs 1,01,926 crore under non-plan and Rs 59,422 crore under plan heads. Presenting his third budget, Ramanarayana Reddy said he estimated the revenue surplus would be Rs 10,023 crore and fiscal deficit Rs 24,487 crore, at 2.85 percent of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP). "I am confident that the budget 2013-14 will infuse new energy to the strategy of inclusive growth of the state," he said. He described the budget as momentous, as allocations enshrine the priority agenda of inclusiveness. It is the first budget after the state enacted a historic legislation in December last year to give statutory status to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribe sub-plan. Under this legislation, the first in the country, funds have been allocated separately to SC sub-plan and ST sub-plan in proportion to the population of these sections. The total allocation for SC sub-plan in 2013-14 budget is Rs 8,585 crore and for the tribal sub-plan Rs 3,666 crore, which is 16.21 and 6.92 percent of the annual plan size respectively. The finance minister said another path-breaking feature of this year's budget is the presentation of the first-ever exclusive agriculture action plan, which is expected to help in comprehensive development of the agriculture sector. Another change brought in the budget presentation this year is the constitution of departmentally related standing committees of the state legislature for considering the demands for grants.

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Farm sector in AP gets whopping Rs 25,000 crore: New Agricultural Action Plan n a first for the Congress Government in Andhra Pradesh, the Agriculture Minister Kanna Lakshminarayana on 18 March presented immediately after the regular budget for 2013-14 a new agricultural action plan for the farm sector which proposes to allocate a sum of Rs. 25,962.02 crore for the year 2013-14. The Minister said this agriculture budget will show a way in ushering in a new era for the farmers and suggest solutions for the problems engulfing the sector. The budget includes plan component of Rs. 17,694.61 crore and non-plan component of Rs. 8,267.41 crores. Supplementary to these proposed budgetary allocations, an amount of Rs. 72,450 crore is planned under agricultural credit plan. This makes the total investment for the farm sector as Rs. 98,940.54 crores as against Rs. 79,924.78 crores, an increase of about 24 per cent over last year. In tune with the basic theme of 12th Five Year Plan, faster, more inclusive and sustainable growth and in order to achieve the growth target of 6 per cent under the farm sector, the State has set an ambitious target of increasing food grain production to 300 lakh tonnes by 2016-17. The Minister said key strategies identified for the farm sector to grow rapidly are: establishment of agriculture technology mission for convergence among concerned departments, strategies to optimise and harness potential of horticulture, animal husbandry and fishery as farm sector growth engines. Highlighting the farm sector initiatives, the Minister said for the year 2013-14, the Government proposes to continue implementation of supply of quality seeds, Polam Badi (Farmers Field School), extension services, RKVY, National Agricultural Insurance Scheme, National Food Security Mission, Pavala Vaddi and interest free crop loans to farmers, farm mechanisation and input subsidies. Japanese automotive major Isuzu Motors on 15 March, announced setting up a manufacturing plant in India to make Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) and Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs). The plant, coming up in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh with an investment of Rs.1,500 crore, will manufacture one lakh units a year. Isuzu Motors India signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Andhra Pradesh government to set up the plant at Sri City in Nellore district. Officials of Isuzu and the state government signed the MoU in Hyderabad, in the presence of Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, Japan's Ambassador to India Takesai Yagi and Isuzu Motors Limited's executive vice president and general manager, sales, Ryozo Tsukioka. An agreement was also signed between Isuzu Motor India and Sri City, a special economic zone. Shigeru Wakabayashi, deputy managing director, Isuzu Motors India, later told reporters that the plant would manufacture pick-up truck (D-MAX) and SUV (MU-7) from late 2015 or early 2016.The company unveiled on the occasion both D-MAX and MU-7, which it started selling this month by importing built up vehicles. It is currently selling it only in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The plant in Andhra will also act as support foothold for Isuzu's main LCV operation in Thailand. The company manufactures three lakh LCVs and SUVs in Thailand every year. The oldest Japanese automobile firm is scouting for a local partner to assemble its vehicles in India till its plant commences production. It is keen to start the assembly of its products as soon as possible to avoid rising import duties. The Japanese envoy said India account for seven percent of the global production of Japanese automotive companies. He hoped that India would overtake Thailand and China, which account for nine and 10 percent of their production respectively. Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and the Government of Rajasthan on 14 March 2013 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at Jaipur for setting up a refinery-cumpetrochemical complex in Barmer, Rajasthan. The project will be a joint venture between HPCL and Rajasthan State Refinery Limited, apart from other equity partners. The MoU was signed by Subhash Pant, Secretary Mines and Petroleum, Government of Rajasthan and K.Murli, Director (Refineries) of HPCL. The refinery-cum-petrochemical complex in Barmer will be set up at an estimated capital investment of 37230 crore Rupees. The project will be completed in 4 years time duration. The purpose of the refinery will be to process the locally available crude apart from other crudes. The proposed complex will be the first of its kind to be specifically designed to produce petrochemicals from the indigenous crude oil. Infosys on 15 March has collaborated India Post for developing a service delivery platform that will allow more than 1.30 lakh rural post offices to offer online services. The platform will also connect and manage more than 1.30 lakh handheld devices used by rural postal workers for distribution of social benefits under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and process Electronic Money Orders, Infosys said in a statement. With this agreement, Infosys will facilitate India Posts Rural Systems Integration programme, which

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will increase adoption of the departments services and enhance the reach of postal services to the countrys rural population. The Central Government on 15 March, raked in over Rs.620 crore through sale of its 6 per cent stake in an aluminium producer Nalco, taking it closer to its disinvestment target for the fiscal. Nalco share sale, whose size was pruned to 12.88 crore shares or 5 per cent plus an option to retain an equal number in case of over-subscription, managed to get bids for 15.69 crore or 6 per cent of government shareholding. The government, which priced the issue at a discount of Rs.40 a share, decided to retain all of additional bids for over 2.81 crore shares that came in. The auction had received bids for over 15.69 crore shares, against an offer of over 12.88 crore shares, according to stock exchanges data. The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on disinvestment, headed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, on 13 March, cleared stake sale of 25.77 crore shares, or up to 10 per cent, in Nalco through the offer for sale (OFS) route. The World Bank on 11 March 2013 forecasted that the Indian economy is estimated to grow over 6 per cent during 2013-14. World Bank Chief Jim Young Kim, who is on a three-day visit to India asserted that India is estimated to have grown 5 percent in the current fiscal and the growth rate is likely to improve to 6.1-6.7 percent in 2013-14. The Indian economy, like any other economy, is subject to global slowdown. It has effect here and at the same time, the export market has started doing better. On the positive node, it also had be seen that share of India in global economy almost doubled in five years between 2005 and 2010. Kim is on his first visit to India after taking over as President of World Bank Group in July 2012. Indias Current Account Deficit (CAD) as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) rose to an alltime high of 5.4 per cent in the second quarter of 2012-13 on account of widening of trade deficit and slower growth in invisibles, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said in its monthly bulletin for March released on 11 March. The rise in CAD to GDP ratio was partly due to slower growth in GDP and rupee depreciation, the RBI report said adding that a steeper decline in exports growth (12.2 per cent year-on-year) compared with imports growth (4.8 per cent year-on-year) led to widening of trade deficit. The trade deficit widened to $48.3 billion during the quarter under review from $44.5 billion during the corresponding quarter of the previous year. While the net services receipts registered reasonable increase, net invisibles earnings could finance only a lower proportion of trade deficit as net primary and secondary income flows were relatively smaller. As per this report, during the first-half of 2012-13, Indias Balance of Payments deteriorated as trade deficit widened and invisibles remained sluggish. On the other hand, capital flows remained lower than that in the preceding year and were just sufficient to meet the gap of current account leading to small accretion to foreign exchange reserves, it said. Financial sector regulators of India, on 8 March, signed an agreement to monitor conglomerates - large banks and other key players - in view of their rising importance to the real economy, apart from approving a national strategy for financial education. The Reserve Bank said in a statement that the decisions were taken at a sub-committee meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) held in New Delhi. The four financial sector regulators are the Reserve Bank of India, Securities and Exchange Board of India, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority and Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority. The MoU is aimed at better cooperation in the field of joint supervision and monitoring of the large groups identified as financial conglomerates. The FSDC meeting, chaired by RBI Governor D Subbarao, also approved formulating a national strategy for financial education by incorporating the feedback received from public consultations and from a global peer review. All the four RBI Deputy Governors - K C Chakrabarty, Anand Sinha, H R Khan and Urjit Patel - and RBI Executive Director G Gopalakrishna was also present. A Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar cleared export of 5 million tone wheat from government warehouses through private traders on 7 March. The proposal is targeted to clear the huge wheat stock in the country ahead of the new harvest season. Earlier, the government had allowed export of 4.5 million tone through public-sector trading agencies out of which about 2 million tone has already been shipped in a price range of $295-$330 per tone. The National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), the apex body of the Indian business process outsourcing and software services industry, announced on 4March, that it is targeting revenues of $300 billion by 2020, 177 per cent more than that earned in 2012.N. R. Narayana Murthy, Infosys Chairman Emeritus, who headed an expert committee that deliberated on the ways and means of achieving the target, said revenues had traditionally come from four focus areas IT services, Indian operatives of MNCs, Business Process Management (BPM) and Engineering and R&D services. However, the industry needed to focus on areas such as mobile and Internet and the domestic market if it was to grow at a

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compounded annual growth rate of 15 per cent, which is the asking rate if the industry plans to reach its target by 2020.Revenues from the domestic market, a new focus area, are projected to increase from $23 billion to $75 billion. The biggest chunk of revenues is projected to come from the Internet and mobile space, one of the seven focus verticals identified by the committee. This segment is likely to account for one-third of all revenues earned by 2020.The Chairman of Nasscom, N. Chandrasekaran, said the focus on the domestic market reflected its large and growing size as well as the talent that was available to tap the potential. The Defence Ministry, in response to a direction by the Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI), has given a partial consent to two oil and gas blocks in areas near defence installations even while five others continued to remain in the no-go service zone. While five blocks, bagged by Oil and Natural gas Corporation (ONGC), BG Group of the U.K. and Cairn India, will continue to be in the no-go areas, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) received relief for its KG D6 gas block and discovery block of NEC-25 in the Bay of Bengal. Nearly 30 per cent of the KG-D6 block overlapped with one of the Navy's firing and exercise areas. The Ministry was of the view that any exploration and production activities near its naval base would hamper surveillance and detection operations. Following this, RIL agreed to relinquish 495 sq. km of area, qualifying it for receiving a formal nod from defence authorities.ONGC's two KG basin blocks, KG-OSN2005/1 and KG-OSN-2005/2, have not been cleared as they fall directly within the boundary of a proposed naval base. Also, the firm's KG-OSN-2009/4 block fell within the range of the DRDO's Machhlipatnam launch site. BGs block KG-DWN-2009/1 fell right at the entry of the proposed naval base, while Cairn's KG-OSN2009/3 block was in the proximity of the Suryalanka GWFR. The Ministry has also imposed stringent conditions for the exploration of the other 32 blocks. Considering the serious nature of the observations made by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on the gross misuse of the agricultural debt waiver and debt relief schemes, the Reserve Bank of India on 6 March, has asked all scheduled commercial banks and local area banks to undertake a complete verification of the list of beneficiaries with priority being given to areas where indebtedness was high. The RBI has told them to fix the accountability on those officials involved in the administrative/accounting lapses. Banks have been asked not to spare the internal auditors and statutory auditors who were responsible for verification, certification, or for passing the claims. They must be identified, and full responsibility fixed at the earliest with no exceptions, the bank said. The apex bank said debt waiver/debt relief certificates must be issued in all eligible cases immediately, and full records of such issuance must be kept ready for inspection. For effective monitoring of the action being taken, the RBI has asked banks to report it on a monthly basis, latest 7th of every month so that the government would be informed accordingly. The CAG in a report has pointed out that several ineligible farmers had availed themselves of the benefits under the governments much- published Rs.52, 000 crore farm loan waver scheme. Mukesh Ambani retained his title as the richest person of India for the sixth consecutive year with the net worth of 21.5 billion US Dollars, according to the annual rankings published by Forbes on 4 March 2013. The richest man in the world for fourth time in a row was Mexican business tycoon Carlos Slim with the net worth of 73 billion US Dollars. In the overall list of the billionaires of the world, Mukesh Ambani was ranked at number 22. Lakshmi Mittal, on the other hand was ranked at 41st position with the net worth of 16.5 billion US Dollars. The first in the list was Carlos Slim, followed by Bill Gates with the net worth of 67 billion US Dollars, Spain's Amancio Ortega with net worth of 57 billion US Dollars, Warren Buffett with the net worth of 53.5 billion US Dollars and Larry Ellison with the net worth of 43 billion US Dollars. A total of 55 billionaires from India appeared on the list of 1426 people from the world who have a minimum net worth of 1 billion US Dollars. Among Indians, Mukesh Ambani as well as Lakshmi Mittal was followed by Azim Premji, Dilip Shanghvi, Shashi & Ravi Ruia, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Savitri Jindal, Sunil Mittal, Shiv Nadar, K P Singh and Anil Ambani. Failure to pay excise duty and service tax could lead to arrest of defaulters, as per the provisions proposed in the Finance Bill 2013 introduced by finance minister P Chidambaram in the Lok Sabha on 4 March. As per the provisions, offences relating to excise and customs duty evasion of over Rs 50 lakh would be made cognizable and non-bailable. Similarly in case of service tax, the failure to deposit the tax amount exceeding Rs 50 lakh with the government would result in imprisonment up to seven years. More than Rs 31,900 crore was received by over 68,000 NGOs operating in different parts of the country during 2008-11, Rajya Sabha was informed on 6 March. Minister of State for Home Mullappally Ramachandra also said that registration of 4,138 NGOs was cancelled under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 for violating existing guidelines, while 24 cases were referred to CBI for investigation.

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A Chennai Bengaluru Industrial Corridor Being Planned The Finance Minister, P Chidambaram in his Budget speech in Lok Sabha on 28 February, said that the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project has made rapid progress. Plans for seven new cities have been finalized and work on two new smart industrial cities at Dholera, Gujarat and Shendra Bidkin, Maharashtra will start during 2013-14. We acknowledge the support of the Government of Japan. In order to dispel any doubt about funding, The Government will provide, if required, additional funds during 2013-14 within the share of the Government of India in the overall outlay for the project. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are currently preparing a comprehensive plan for the Chennai Bengaluru Industrial Corridor. The corridor will be developed in collaboration with the Governments of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The next corridor will be the Bengaluru Mumbai Industrial Corridor on which preparatory work has stared. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on 1 March issued detailed guidelines allowing shareholders to convert their depository receipts into equity shares of the Issuer Company and vice-versa. IDRs are generally instruments denominated in rupees and allow overseas companies to raise funds from the Indian market. It stipulated that IDRs would be redeemable into underlying equity shares after completion of one year period from the date of listing them and the issuer will provide two-way fungibility of IDRs. This move is expected to attract more foreign companies to be listed on Indian bourses. So far only the UKbased banking major Standard Chartered PLC was listed as an IDR.

April
The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on 30 April has launched an Islamic equity index based on the wide-measure S&P BSE 500 index, providing a new benchmark for Islamic investors in one of the world's largest stock exchanges. The new index comprises the largest 500 companies in the BSE, out of more than 5,000 listed, which fit Islamic finance principles such as bans on investing in alcohol, tobacco and gamblingrelated businesses. The country's first Islamic index was launched in 2010, also by the BSE, tracking the 50 largest and most liquid stocks. The Mumbai exchange had a total market capitalization of $1.32 trillion as of January 2013.In order to cater to an estimated 177 million Muslims in India, the largest Muslim minority population in the world, the industry is hoping to develop investment products that work around this requirement, but political and legal obstacles mean progress has been slow. World Bank on 30 April scaled down India's growth forecast to 6.1 per cent for the current fiscal from 7 per cent projected six months ago. The decline in the growth forecast is largely due to the decline in agriculture sector which is expected to grow at 2 per cent during 2013-14 against the previous estimate of 2.7 per cent despite normal monsoon projection. However, the multi-lateral funding agency said that India is regaining economic momentum and growth is expected to recover gradually to its high long-term potential. As per the latest India Development Update of the World Bank, Indian economy would grow by 6.1 per cent in 2013-14 on account of robust domestic demand, strong savings and investment rate. Growth projections for 2013-14 have been arrived at by taking into account present internal and external factors. "Economic growth is likely to accelerate to over 6 per cent during the current financial year (April 2013-March 2014). Growth is expected to increase further to 6.7 per cent in 2014-2015," said Denis Medvedev, Senior Country Economist, World Bank, India. "Recent data point to some improvements in economic activity: inflation and trade deficit came down in recent months, while private consumption and investment growth had accelerated in the third quarter of 2012-2013," he said. According to the Update, a twice-yearly report on the Indian economy and its prospects, GDP growth during 2012-13 would be around 5 per cent, lowest in the decade. As per the International Monetary Fund (IMF) report released yesterday, India's GDP is likely to improve to 5.7 per cent during year ending December 2013 and further to 6.2 per cent a year after. The Union Minister for Commerce, Industry and Textiles, Anand Sharma launched 21 New Textile Parks approved under Scheme for Integrated Textile Parks (SITP) in New Delhi on 23 April. These new parks take the total number to 61 parks as 40 Parks were sanctioned earlier. The Scheme for Integrated Textiles Parks (SITP) has been instrumental in development of wide range of models for green field clusters from a 1000 acre FDI driven integrated cluster, to a 100 acre power loom cluster and a 20 acre handloom cluster. Under the scheme, 61 parks have been sanctioned 40 projects were started in the 11th Five Year Plan and another 21 projects are to be implemented in the 12th Five Year Plan. Out of the 40 parks sanctioned earlier, a total of 25 Parks are already operational. Most of the balance Parks are expected to be completed during this financial year. The estimated employment generation is over 10 lac persons with total estimated investment of Rs. 27, 562 crore. Out of the 21 new parks, six are in Maharashtra, four in Rajasthan, two each in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu

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and one each in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Tripura, Karnataka, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. In this years budget speech, the Finance Minister announced an additional amount of up to Rs. 10 crores per park for setting up apparel manufacturing units for the projects under the SITP. Necessary action is being taken for implementing the announcement. The Minister of State for Petroleum & Natural Gas Smt. Panabaaka Lakshmi informed the Rajya Sabha in a written reply on 23 April, that the recommendations of the Committee constituted under Chairmanship of Dr.C. Rangarajan, Chairman, Prime Ministers Economic Advisory Council (EAC) are under consideration of the Government. The committee was set up to review among other things, the basis for determining price of domestically produced natural gas. She also said that under the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) regime, the current sale price of natural gas, including Coal Bed Methane (CBM), varies from a minimum of US$ 2.67 per Million British Thermal Unit (MMBTU) to a maximum of US$ 6.79 per MMBTU. The sale and pricing of natural gas under the PSC regime is governed by the relevant PSC provisions. Price of Administered Price Mechanism (APM) gas varies from $2.52 to $4.2 per MMBTU. While the price of non-APM gas varies from $4.2 to $ 5.25 per MMBTU. Union Tourism Minister K Chiranjeevi inaugurated the new campus of Indian Institute of