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Current Affairs June 2010


AWARDS

IIFA Awards, 2010


Best Film: 3 Idiots.
Best Actor: Amitabh Bachchan, for his role as a progeria-afflicted child in “Paa”.
Best Actress: Shared jointly by Vidya Balan for “Paa” and Kareena Kapoor for “3
Idiots”.
Best Director: Rajkumar Hirani for “3 Idiots
Best Screenplay: 3 Idiots.
Best Cinematography: 3 Idoits
Best Supporting Actor (Male): Sharman Joshi for his role in “3 Idiots”.
Best Supporting Actor (Female): Divya Dutta for her performance in “Delhi 6”.
Best Actor in Negative Role: Boman Irani for his role in “3 Idiots”.
Best performance in Comic Role: Sanjay Dutt for performance in “All the Best”.
Best Music Director: Pritam for “Love Aaj Kal”.
Best Singer (Male): Shaan, for “Behti hawa sa tha woh” (3 Idiots).
Best Singer (Female): Kavita Seth for “Iktara’ in “Wake Up, Sid!”.
Best Lyrics: Swanand Kirkire for “3 Idiots”.
Best Debut (Female): Jacqueline Fernandez and Mahie Gill share the award for
their role in “Aladin” and “Dev D”, respectively.
Best Debut (Male): Omi Vaidya for his role of Chatur in “3 Idiots” and ackky
Bhagnani for “Kal Kissne Dekha”.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Veteran filmmaker J. Om Prakash and yesteryear
actress Zeenat Aman.
Outstanding achievement by an Indian in International Cinema: Anil Kapoor.

The awards ceremony was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

DAYS; YEARS
World Environment Day
The World Environment Day is the biggest global celebration for positive
environmental action, coordinated by United Nations Environment Programme
every year on June 5. It is a day that reminds everyone on the planet to get involved
in environment-friendly activities. From school children to community groups,
companies and governments, all come together to pledge towards building a
greener planet. The day urges every citizen to mitigate environmental problems,
which are a result of human activities.

This year’s theme—Many Species. One Planet. One Future—focuses on the


importance of wealth of species and ecosystems to humanity.
This year's global host, Rwanda, has made huge strides on environmental
protection. Rwanda is already internationally-renowned for introducing a ban on
plastic bags, nationwide environmental clean-up campaigns and the restoration of
previously degraded natural rain forests as part of a chimpanzee conservation
programme.

Every year the World Environment Day is hosted in a different city with a different
theme with the message to protect and save our environment. In 2008, the event
was hosted at Wellington, New Zealand with the theme “Kick The Habit—Towards A
Low Carbon Economy”.

In 2009, the event was held at Mexico City and the theme was: “Your Planet Needs
You—UNite to Combat Climate Change”.

DEFENCE
First flight of Tejas supersonic fighter plane
The dream of having a supersonic fighter jet of indigenous built came one step
closer to realisation on June 2, 2010, when the Limited Series Production Tejas
aircraft (LSP-4) took off from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited airport, Bangaluru,
for its first flight.

Test pilot, Group Captain Suneet Krishna, flew the aircraft to an altitude of 11 kms
and went supersonic, touching 1.1 Mach speed. A fighter plane flies in supersonic
speed when it has already accomplished its mission and is being chased by enemy
aircraft. For testing, there was a plane chasing the Tejas LSP-4 during its first test
flight.

The Tejas flew in the configuration that would be finally delivered to the Indian Air
Force.

Navy gets two Warships


Giving a boost to the Navy’s defence capabilities, two state-of-the-art high-speed
warships, INS Cankarso and INS Kondul, were commissioned into the naval fleet on
June 29, 2010.

The indigenously-built ships use water jet propulsion technology and can achieve
speeds in excess of 35 knots. Water jet technology has rapidly gained acceptance
as the leading means of propulsion for all types of high-speed marine craft,
including ferries, work boats, patrol crafts and pleasure boats.

The ships will be based in Goa and tasked with the role of detecting, locating and
destroying small, fast-moving enemy surface craft engaged in covert operations.

INS Cankarso and INS Kondul are fitted with 30-mm CRN-91 gun built by Ordnance
Factory, Medak, and Igla missiles and set of machine guns ranging from light to
heavy.

These two ships are the first lot of the ten similar ships that the Navy proposes to
induct in its fleet. They belong to the Car Nicobar class V and VI in the FAC series.

INS Cankarso is named after an island near Goa while INS Kondul derives its name
from an island near Nicobar. Kolkata-based Garden Reach Ship Builders and
Engineers built these ships in two years.

EDUCATION
India’s first PG course in Golf Management
Golf, as a sport, is one of the fastest emerging sectors in India, with an estimated
growth of 30 per cent in the next five years. However, there is a huge gap for good
quality management professionals to join the golfing industry in India. To bridge this
gap, International School of Corporate Management (ISCOM) has partnered with the
prestigious Elmwood College, St. Andrews, Scotland, to introduce the first ever
Postgraduate Programme in Golf Management.

The course is India’s first ever PG course in Golf Management and includes six
months’ intensive apprenticeship at a golf facility in Scotland, UK. Minimum degree
required to be eligible for the course is graduation. Admission is through entrance
test. Candidates who qualify in GMAT, CAT, MAT or equivalent with at least 60%
marks will be exempt from the entrance test. You have to be a golf player with
minimum 24 handicap.

ENVIRONMENT
Solar-powered LED lanterns to earn carbon credits
The United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)—aimed at slowing the
warming of the planet—has notified governments and companies on how to
calculate carbon-emission saved by installing solar-powered Light Emitting Diodes
(LEDs) instead of ubiquitous, ancient lanterns. This could give India an incentive to
replace the lamps that are used in 30 per cent of households, meaning a saving of
50 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year.

A tonne of emission saved fetches up to Rs 19,000 in the international carbon


market.

A poor Indian household can save up to Rs 1,000 per annum on kerosene costs, half
the cost of a solar-powered LED lighting system. Once charged, LED bulb works for
up to 42 hours, compared with eight to 10 hours that conventional solar lanterns do.

LED lamps are about 90 per cent more energy efficient than traditional
incandescent lamps and about 20 per cent more than Compact Fluorescent Lamps.
The UN estimates its new initiative can change the lives of a quarter of humanity,
which still gets light by directly burning fuels, emitting nearly 200 million tonnes of
carbon dioxide each year, the equivalent of 60 million cars.

PROJECTS
India’s first integrated Waste Management Plant
Infra firm a2z Infrastructure will set up India’s first integrated municipal solid waste
management plant in Kanpur. The project, touted to be Asia’s largest, would
comprise management of the city’s solid waste in an environment friendly manner
and subsequent power generation for captive and merchant use.

Majority of the fuel used in the plant will be RDF (Refuse Derived Fuel) derived from
solid waste, which is considered a better replacement for coal with lesser emissions.
The power plant will have the capacity to produce 15 MW power.

IIT-Kanpur to set up experimental power plant


The Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K) has planned to set up a 550
kilowatt (KW) Solar Energy Research Experimental Station (SERES) in its campus.
The station would serve the purpose of solar energy development research, apart
from being a pilot project for improving the commercial viability of solar energy
generation.

It would provide uninterrupted free power supply to six neighbouring villages,


Nankari, Bara Sirohi, Singhpur, Bakunthpur, Naramau and Kachchar. The villages
are electrified, but the present power supply is highly erratic.

The Rs 18-crore project has been taken up as a part of the ongoing golden jubilee
celebrations at the institute.

Currently, the solar power produced in India costs around Rs15 per KW hour,
whereas conventional energy costs as little as Rs 3.5 per KW hour. The institute will
bring in team from the biotechnology and electrical departments to work on
reducing the production cost of solar power to make it more economical and
commercially viable.

The project will be modelled on the German mode of solar power generation after
conducting the requisite studies on production and transmission.

RESEARCH
“Printer” to create human organs
It may sound a bit too much, but doctors could one day be able to “print” new
organs for transplant, say scientists who claim to have designed a “bio-printer” to
create made-to-measure human organs. A prototype machine developed by the
California-based regenerative medicine company Organovo is already capable of
growing new arteries.

It is based on 3-D laser printing technology used to create new machine parts for
industry. But, instead of combining layers of plastic and metal, the “bio-printer”
puts living tissue together.

Two laser-based printing heads are used to place living cells onto thin sheets of gel
with microscopic precision. Multiple layers are then laid on top of each other in a
specially designed mould, or ‘scaffold’ and the cells begin to fuse together.

SPACE RESEARCH
Thirty Meter Telescope Project
On June 25, 2010, India joined as an observer in the ambitious astronomical
observatory, Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT), in Hawaii, which will help in unravelling
mysteries of black hole, origin of galaxies and formation of planets among others.

The status of an observer is first step by India in becoming a full partner in TMT,
which will be fully operational in 2018 and will be world’s most advanced
astronomical observatory.

The telescope will have a 30-metre segmented mirror which uses diffraction of light
and focuses in much sharper way than smaller telescopes. Such a large size of
aperture will help it collecting more light, thus generating much clearer and sharper
images of fainter objects, which may not be possible by present day scopes. The
images generated by the telescope will be 12 times sharper than the Hubble Space
Telescope.

A look at these images will help the scientists to understand several key aspects of
universe, including the black hole formation, formation of galaxies, starting of the
Universe and formation of first heavy elements in it.

MISCELLANEOUS
National Business Register
The sixth economic census, set to take off in 2011, will provide India with a National
Business Register (NBR) for the first time, containing the details of every business
establishment in the country.

The creation and maintenance of a business register and directory are expected to
be an economic data framework for various needed statistical surveys, including the
Annual Survey of Industries and others of the National Sample Survey Organisation.

Currently, a fairly reasonable database exists for the agricultural sector, while much
is lacking for the non-agricultural ones, particularly services. The move to create a
directory will particularly benefit the latter. The services sector, contributing 62.5
per cent to the country’s gross domestic product, does not have a comprehensive
data bank. The national accounts significantly under-states the sector, even as it is
the major contributor.

The business register is to keep an account of all business establishments with a


workforce of 10 or more people—addresses, sectors, turnovers, number employed
etc.

Now, fly tricolour at night


India’s National flag will now fly even during night, which was not earlier allowed
under the flag code rules. This has been possible due to efforts of industrialist-
turned-politician and chairman of the Flag Foundation of India and MP Naveen
Jindal.

The Union Home Ministry has allowed keeping the National Flag fly even during
night with a rider that the flag does not remain in dark.

Current Affairs June 2010


APPOINTED; ELECTED; Etc.

Naoto Kan: He has been elected as the Prime Minister of Japan. He has become
the fifth Prime Minister of Japan in three years, taking the helm as the country
struggles to rein in a huge public debt, engineer growth in an aging society, and
manage ties with security ally USA and a rising China.
Julia Gillard: She scripted history when she was elected as the first woman Prime
Minister of Australia. She succeeded Kevin Rudd, who stepped down following revolt
against him within the Labour party. The rebellion had been spearheaded by Ms
Gillard, opposing his policies on health, education and climate change.
Roza Otunbayeva: She has been elected as the first woman President of
Kyrgystan. She claimed victory in a referendum in Kyrgyzstan, making her the
interim President till 2011, a vote held to decide the legitimacy of her rule after
President Kurmanbek Bakiyev regime was ousted in April 2010.
Benigno Aquino: He has been elected as the President of Philippines.
Justice (Retd) K.G. Balakrishnan: Former Chief Justice of India, he has been
appointed as Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission.
Sharad Pawar: He has taken over as the President of International Cricket Council
(ICC).

RESIGNED
Madhav Kumar Nepal: Prime Minister of Nepal.
Shibu Soren: Chief Minister of Jharkhand.

DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
Mahinda Rajapaksa: President of Sri Lanka.
Jacob Zuma: President of South Africa.

MILESTONES
Nitin Noharia: An Indian-American he has taken over as the Dean of Harvard
Business School. He is the first person of Indian origin to occupy the prestigious and
high profile post.

EVENTS
JUNE
11—The first World Cup football tournament in Africa kicks-off with a feast of song
and dance in Johannesburg, South Africa.
14—The 64-day-old blockade of the two crucial highways leading to Manipur is
suspended by the Naga Student Federation following talks with the Union
government. The organisation had launched the blockade protesting elections to
Autonomous District Councils in Manipur hills and Manipur government’s decision to
ban entry of NSCN leader T. Muivah to the State.
26—The Union government finally lifts government control and allows oil companies
to fix prices of petrol on the basis of market forces.
29—Masoists kill 26 CRPF personnel in a remote area of Chattisgarh’s Narayanpur
district.

SPORTS

BADMINTON
Yonex-Sunrise India Open Grand Prix
Saina Nehwal of India beat Malaysia’s Mew Choo Wong to win the title. This was her
second international title win at home. She had won the Lucknow Grand Prix in
2009.

Indonesia Open
Saina Nehwal notched up an incredible hat-trick of titles by successfully defending
her Indonesian Open Super Series title with s hard-fought win over Japan’s Sayaka
Sato. She had earlier won the Indian Open Grand Prix and the Singapore Open
Super Series.

Singapore Open
Indian ace Saina Nehwal clinched the second Super Series title of her career by
winning the Singapore Open with a straight-game triumph over Chinese Taipie’s Tzu
Ying Tai.

CRICKET
Asia Cup
India defeated Sri Lanka by 81 runs to win the Asia Cup. India had set the Lankans a
stiff target of 299 runs. Dinesh Karthik was declared man of the match.

West Indies-South Africa One Day Series


South Africa completed a 5-0 white-wash of the series with a thrilling one wicket win
in the final match. Earlier, the South Africans had also won the Twenty20 two-match
series.

England-Australia One Day series


England won the five-match series 3-0. This followed 2009’s Ashes triumph and
2010’s Twenty20 World Cup final win over their oldest rivals.

SHOOTING
ISSF Shotgun World Cup
Double-trap marksman Ronjan Sodhi clinched the gold in the tournament held at
Lonato, Italy.

TENNIS
French Open, 2010
Men’s Singles title: Rafael Nadal won the title by defeating Robin Soderling. This
was his fifth French Open win.

Women’s Singles title: Francesca Schiavone became the first Italian woman to
win a Grand Slam singles title when she defeated Australian Samantha Stosur to win
the women’s singles title.

Men’s Doubles title: Canada’s Daniel Nestor and Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic won by
beating defending champions Leander Paes of India and Lukas Dlouhy of Czech
Republic.

Women’s Doubles title: Serena and Venus Williams of USA. Serena Williams won
her second French Open Women's Doubles title, and the twelfth title in that
discipline, which this was the fourth win in a row in the women's doubles in the
Slams. Venus Williams won her second French Open Women's Doubles title, and the
twelfth title in that discipline, which this was the fourth win in a row in the women's
doubles in the Slams.

Mixed Doubles: Katarina Srebotnik and Nenad Zimonji? were the winners.
Srebotnik won her third French Open Mixed Doubles title, and the fourth Slam title
in that discipline. Zimonji? won his second French Open Mixed Doubles title, and the
fourth Slam title in that discipline.

Current Affairs June 2010


INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
Hatoyama resigns as Japan’s PM
Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who ended five decades of single-party
rule when he swept to power in August 2009, but stumbled when he confronted a
long-time ally, the United States, resigned on June 2, 2010. Hatoyama quit at a
meeting of leaders of the Democratic Party of Japan in Tokyo, becoming the fourth
straight Japanese leader to leave after a year or less in office.

“Since last year’s elections, I tried to change politics in which the people of Japan
would be the main characters,” he said later at a nationally broadcast news
conference. But he conceded that his efforts weren’t understood.

Hatoyama ran for the premiership on a campaign platform of maintaining a more


equal relationship with the United States, which still enjoys enormous support
among most Japanese. His decision to challenge Washington over the details of a
massive military base relocation plan on the island of Okinawa befuddled Japanese
and American analysts and government officials alike.

Hatoyama also called for Japan to become more of an “Asian nation,” which sparked
concern in Washington that he wanted to move away from the country’s pro-US
stance and closer to China.

Finance Minister Naoto Kan succeeded Hatoyama as the new Prime Minister.

Maoists force Nepal PM to resign


Nepal’s Prime Minister announced his resignation on June 31, 2010, bowing to
pressure from opposition Maoists who had been demanding his ouster in Parliament
and on the streets. Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal said in a televised speech
that he decided to resign to end political deadlock and shore up the peace process.

Mr Madhav Kumar had taken over the post in May 2009 after the previous
government led by the Maoists resigned following differences with the President
over the firing of the army chief. He had the support of 22 political parties in
Parliament and more than half of the 601 members in the Assembly. However, the
Maoists, who have the largest number of seats in the Assembly, refused to support
his government and instead staged protests to demand disbanding the government.

In May 2010, the Maoists had shut down the nation for more than a week, imposing
a general strike. The protests also delayed the writing of a new constitution, which
was supposed to be complete by May 2010. The deadline has now been extended
by one year.

Landmark US Financial Reform Bill


On July 1, 2010, the US House of Representatives approved a landmark overhaul of
financial regulations. The Bill would impose tighter regulations on financial firms and
reduce their profits. It would boost consumer protections, force banks to reduce
risky trading and investing activities and set up a new government process for
liquidating troubled financial firms.

However, the Republicans say the Bill would hurt the economy by burdening
businesses with a thicket of new regulations. They also point out that it ducks the
question of how to handle troubled mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie
Mac, which Democrats plan to tackle in 2011.

Ethic Riots in Kyrgyzstan


Russia sent hundreds of paratroopers to Kyrgyzstan on June 13, 2010 to protect its
military facilities as ethnic clashes spread in the Central Asian State, bringing the
death toll from days of fighting to 97. Ethnic Uzbeks in a besieged neighbourhood of
Kyrgyzstan’s second city Osh said gangs, aided by the military, were carrying out
genocide, burning residents out of their homes and shooting them as they fled.
Witnesses saw bodies lying on the streets.

The interim government in Kyrgyzstan, which took power in April 2010, after a
popular revolt toppled President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, appealed for Russian help to
quell the riots in the south.

Led by Roza Otunbayeva, the interim government sent a volunteer force to the
south and granted shoot-to-kill powers to its security forces in response to the
deadly riots, which began in Osh, before spreading to Jalalabad.

Renewed turmoil in Kyrgyzstan has fuelled concern in Russia, the United States and
neighbour China. Washington uses an air base at Manas in the north of the country,
about 300 km from Osh, to supply its forces in Afghanistan.

G-20 Summit meeting


A Summit meeting of Leaders from the Group of 20 economic powers was held in
Toronto, Canada on June 28, 2010. The leaders have agreed to halve deficits by
2013 and stabilise or reduce the government debt-to-GDP ratio by 2016. At the
same time, the bloc left it to individual countries to decide on levying taxes on
banks or adopting other means to fund future bailouts.

Along the way, the G-20 leaders who completed their fourth meeting since the
global financial crisis of 2008, also diluted their position on a number of problems
they had decided to fix earlier. For instance, while reinforcing their desire to move
to a more stringent capital structure, the communiqué issued after two days of
discussions said countries would “aim” to put in place a new framework by the end
of 2012, which was earlier the target date. Members will also get flexibility in
phasing the new rules.
The good news is that once these rules are implemented banks will have more
capital to deal with crises as the ratio of core Tier-I capital of a bank to its risk-
weighted assets is expected to double from the present level of 2 per cent.

On trade, too, there was dilly dallying. The G-20 leaders, who had earlier said that
the Doha Round of trade liberalisation talks should be concluded in 2010, have not
mentioned any deadline now. All that has been said is that they will now deliberate
on the ways to take forward the talks when they meet in Seoul in November 2010.

G-20 members have also decided against erecting any new trade and investment
barriers.
The decision to increase the quotas for developing countries in the International
Monetary Fund by the Seoul summit was touted as another gain.

While many elements in the 19-page statement were a reiteration of the earlier
pledges, these were at least two new elements. One of them was a proposal to set
up a working group on development. The other was the desire to focus on issues
related to corruption with members urging to ratify and implement the United
Nations Convention against Corruption.

However, the move by some developed countries to insert another new element —
a levy on bank transactions — did not find a mention in the final text as the focus of
the deliberations remained on reducing fiscal deficit levels. A key demand of
European countries, was resisted by the US and developing countries such as India
and Brazil.

Along with deficit reduction, G-20 leaders also agreed on ushering in structural
reforms by emerging surplus economies, such as China. These countries, which can
tailor their reform moves to strengthen social safety nets, should increase
infrastructure spending and enhance exchange rate flexibility to reflect underlying
economic fundamentals.

G-20 meeting of Finance Ministers


Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of G-20 countries met in Busan,
South Korea on June 4, 2010.

At the top of the agenda was Europe’s debt crisis. The Ministers also discussed
medium-term growth framework and how to solve economic imbalances which
caused the global financial crisis. Canada, the current G-20 President, hopes to
secure an agreement in Toronto on the broad suite of policies needed to reduce
these imbalances. Individual countries would then commit themselves to specific
policies at the next G-20 summit in Seoul.
Building on progress to date, the leaders affirmed their commitment to intensify
efforts and to accelerate financial repair and reform. They also agreed that further
progress on financial repair is critical to global economic recovery and requires
greater transparency and further strengthening of banks’ balance sheets and better
corporate governance of financial firms.

The leaders also committed to reach agreement expeditiously on stronger capital


and liquidity standards as the core of our reform agenda and in that regard fully
supported the work of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.

The leaders also emphasized the need to reduce moral hazard associated with
systemically important financial institutions and reinforced their commitment to
develop effective resolution tools and frameworks for all financial institutions on the
basis of internationally agreed principles.

The G-20 was established in 1999, in the wake of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, to
bring together major advanced and emerging economies to stabilize the global
financial market. Since its inception, the G-20 has held annual Finance Ministers and
Central Bank Governors’ Meetings and discussed measures to promote the financial
stability of the world and to achieve a sustainable economic growth and
development.

China announces plans to make its currency more flexible


Equity markets across the world made handsome gains on June 21, 2010, after
China announced plans to make its currency, the yuan, more flexible against the
dollar. India’s benchmark equity index, the Sensex, and the broad-based Nifty today
touched their highest levels in more than two months.

Market analysts said China’s move would go a long way in lifting the global
economic sentiment that was under the weather due to the Euro crisis. China’s
decision would result in a higher growth rate, especially for countries that have a
significant trade relation with the Asian behemoth, as currency appreciation would
make imports comparatively cheaper in China.

According to Barclays Commodities, there is a thinking that a stronger yuan will


“increase Chinese purchasing power” leading to an increase in its “purchases of
base metals”. “This coincides with a strong set of Chinese trade data for May 2010,
which showed that the country turned a net importer of aluminium and lead, while
copper and zinc imports remained strong”.

UNSC slaps sanctions on Iran


On June 9, 2010, the UN Security Council slapped sanctions on Iran over its
controversial nuclear programme, targeting the powerful Revolutionary Guard,
ballistic missiles, and nuclear-related investments, despite opposition from Brazil
and Turkey.

In the 15-member Council, 12 countries, including the US and Britain, voted in


favour of the resolution, with Lebanon abstaining and Brazil and Turkey voting
against.

The new resolution, which is fourth against Iran to be adopted by the UNSC, creates
new categories of sanctions like banning Iran's investment in nuclear activity
abroad, banning all ballistic missiles activities, blocking Iran's use of banks aboard
and asset freezes for members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The resolution blacklists entities that includes 15 enterprises of the Islamic


Revolutionary Guards Corps, three entities owned by the Islamic Republic of Iran
Shipping Lines and 23 industrial companies. The international community accuses
Iran of seeking to develop an atomic weapon. But, Tehran has been maintaining
that its uranium enrichment program is for peaceful civilian purposes.

India has been maintaining that it is opposed to such kinds of sanctions as it will
affect the common people more than the establishment. Russia and China, which
have previously raised objections against such sanctions, supported the resolution
and said they were happy with the text of the resolution as long as it did not have
any negative impact on the people.

Iran voiced defiance, saying it would not halt uranium enrichment and suggesting it
may reduce cooperation with the UN nuclear agency.

SAARC nations pledge coordinated action to tackle terror


Members of SAARC have pledged to step up coordinated action against the common
menace of terrorism, including steps to apprehend or extradite persons connected
with acts of terrorism and facilitate real-time intelligence sharing.

The meeting of the Interior Ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional
Cooperation, held on June 27, 2010 in Islamabad, Pakistan, also resolved to step up
cooperation in real time intelligence-sharing and to consider Pakistan’s proposal for
creation of SAARCPOL, an institution on the lines of Interpol.

The ministerial statement on cooperation against terrorism adopted at the meeting


said the SAARC member States had underscored their “commitment to apprehend
and prosecute or extradite persons connected, directly or indirectly, with the
commissions of acts of terrorism”. They also reiterated their commitment to
strengthen SAARC’s regime against terrorism.

The ministers resolved to ensure that “nationals and entities” of SAARC States who
commit, facilitate or participate in commission of terror acts are “appropriately
punished”.

The SAARC members—Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Maldives,


Nepal and Sri Lanka—also acknowledged that linkages between terrorism, illegal
trafficking of drugs, human trafficking, smuggling of firearms and threats to
maritime security remained a “serious concern” and said these problems would be
addressed in a comprehensive manner.

US-Russia ties improve


On June 25, 2010, US President Barack Obama declared he had succeeded in
“resetting” the US-Russia relationship, which he said had reached its lowest point
since the Cold War at the end of George W. Bush’s term in office. Obama was
speaking to reporters in the East Room of the White House following meetings with
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Medvedev, meanwhile, agreed to allow a resumption of US poultry exports to his


country which Russia had banned earlier in 201, claiming that a chemical used in
the US violated its food safety rules.

But despite the bonhomie between the two leaders, who have met seven times
since Obama took office, both Obama and Medvedev acknowledged that they had
differences over certain issues, including Georgia. Relations between the two
countries deteriorated after the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008.

The US and Russian Presidents said they had resolved a majority of the obstacles in
the path to Russia’s entry into the WTO. They have instructed their negotiators to
work as quickly as possible to wrap up what Obama said were “difficult issues” that
will require “some significant work”, but Medvedev described as “minor problems”.

The two sides released 11 joint statements at the end of their meeting. These
covered promotion and implementation of open government; Kyrgyzstan; energy
efficiency; strategic stability; counter-terrorism cooperation; inter-country adoption;
Afghanistan; people-to-people connections; strategic partnership in innovation;
Russia’s accession to the WTO; US-Russia Presidential Commission.

Canada government blamed for Kanishka crash


A long-awaited inquiry into the 1985 Air India Kanishka bombing, which killed 329
persons, mostly of Indian origin, has blamed the Canadian government for its failure
to prevent the tragedy and recommended the appointment of a powerful security
czar to resolve disputes between conflicting interests among security agencies.

“The government needs to take responsibility to avoid further failure and to prevent
a return to a culture of complacency,” Justice John Major, the head of the Kanishka
bombing inquiry commission, recommended on June 17, 2010, nearly 25 years after
Canada's worst terrorist attack.

In the much-awaited final report from the commission that investigated the
bombing of Air India Flight 182 on June 23, 1985, he observed that the national
security continues to be badly organised between the RCMP and Canada's spy
agency. He also recommended radical transformation in prosecution.
Meanwhile, Candian Prime Minister Stephen Harper assured the family members of
the victims of the 1984 Air India Kanishka bombing that the government would
respond “positively” to the recommendations made by an inquiry committee and
said compensation would be offered to all.

Years of criminal investigation have yielded just one conviction, for manslaughter,
against a British Columbia mechanic Inderjit Singh Reyat, who assembled bomb
components.

G-8 leaders drop commitment to complete Doha round in 2010


On June 27, 2010, G-8 leaders met in Totonto, Canada for their annual Summit
meeting. The leaders decided to drop a commitment to complete the troubled Doha
trade round in 2010 and vowed to push forward on bilateral and regional trade talks
until a global deal could be done.

In 2009, a G-8 summit in Italy and a Pittsburgh meeting of the Group of 20 both had
committed to a 2010 end date that now looks impossible to meet.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who chaired the G-8 summit, said Doha
was not dead. “I don't think we can afford to say that. We’ve got to find a path over
time to get to a successful conclusion,” he told a closing news conference.

Doha round has been dogged by differences among trade powers who want more
access to one another’s markets but have struggled to lower their own trade
barriers.

n ongoing study by Singapore-based Centre for Liveable Cities to rank 64 cities


across the world has ranked Geneva and Zurich as most liveable places in the
world. Singapore is ranked third. None of the six Indian cities that were included in
the study—Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Pune—find mention
in the top 20, either in the global or Asian list.

From July 1, banks will move to a new, more transparent regime of loan pricing.
They will jettison the Benchmark Prime Lending Rate (BPLR) and price loans off a
‘base rate’. Unlike the BPLR that was set somewhat arbitrarily by banks, the base
rate will follow an explicit formula that factors in a bank’s cost of deposits, operating
costs (expenses of running its branches, for instance), the cost of statutory drafts
on bank funds imposed by the Reserve Bank of India (the Cash Reserve Ratio and
Statutory Liquidity Ratio) and the profit margin. The base rate will help borrowers to
compare interest rates offered by various banks and make the process of how
banks arrive at interest rates for loans more transparent. RBI has stipulated that
banks cannot charge below the base rate for most loans. (There are a couple of
exceptions like agricultural loans and export credit.) While the new model will
ensure greater transparency, it need not mean lower lending rates for borrowers.

The finance ministry has asked Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority
(IRDA) to make following changes to ULIPS: Minimum risk cover is to be of times
(against 5 times). Pension products to come with guarantee. Minimum lock-in raised
to five years and minimum life cover to Rs one lakh.

Indian consumers are the greenest in the world, according to a global survey of
17 countries. Brazil is ranked number 2, while US consumers are ranked last, just
below Canada. The survey uses an index of consumption habits and their
environmental impact in five categories: goods, food, housing, transport and
attitudes. India’s proclivity for small cars, its relatively low vehicle density (India has
12 vehicles per 1,000 people; the US has 765 per 1,000), the penchant Indians have
for fruits and vegetables and locally grown foods over imports these contribute to
the score.

Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has become the first municipal body of
India to cash in on cutting down carbon emissions warming the planet. A municipal
compost plant in south Delhi, run by the private sector ILFS group, generated a first
modest cheque of Rs 5 lakh in carbon emission reduction (CER) credits for its plan
to keep more than 9,000 tonnes of carbon over the next 10 years by stopping
methane leaks from garbage.

World Environment Day is celebrated on June 5.

World Day against Child Labour is observed on June 12.

World Blood Donor Day is observed on June 14.

Vaxiflu-S is India’s first indigenous vaccine to counter influenza-A H1N1, also


known as swine flu.

India is ranked a lowly 128 on 2010 Global Peace Index. Pakistan (145) is placed
among the five countries that were least peaceful. India had ranked 122 in 2009.
New Zealand was ranked the most peaceful, followed by Iceland and Japan.

Shyam Saran Negi, resident of the remote Kalpa village in Kinnaur district of
Himachal Pradesh, was the first to cast his vote in independent India’s first elections
on October 23, 1951. Elections in snow-bound Kinnaur region were held ahead of
other places in India, where the elections were held in January and February of
1952.

The world's largest gold coin, "Maple Leaf 2007" has been sold at an auction for
$4.03 million. Measuring 53 centimetres in diameter and with a purity of 99.999 per
cent, it is listed in the 2010 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records as the
world’s biggest gold coin. The front side of the coin displays Queen Elizabeth II and
the reverse shows three maple leaves, the national symbol for Canada. There are
five Maple Leaf 2007 coins worldwide. One is owned by Queen Elizabeth II, two
belong to unidentified investors in Dubai and the whereabouts of the fifth are
unknown.

Tobin Tax is a levy on all spot conversions of one currency into another. It is
imposed to prevent fluctuations in the market due to excessive capital inflows.

Current Affairs June 2010


NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Compulsory public float rule issued


On June 5, 2010, the Union government made it mandatory for all listed companies
to have a minimum public float of 25 per cent. Those below this level will have to
get there by an annual addition of at least 5 per cent to public holding.

The move is expected to result in equity dilution of about Rs 1,60,000 crore by 179
listed companies. These include Reliance Power, Wipro, Indian Oil Corporation, DLF
and Tata Communications.

According to the notification, ‘public’ will not include the promoter, promoter group,
subsidiaries and associates of a company. ‘Public shareholding’ will mean equity
shares of the company held by the public and not the shares held by the custodian
against depository receipts issued overseas.

A company can increase its public shareholding by less than 5 per cent in a year if
such increase brings its public shareholding to the level of 25 per cent in that year.
If the public shareholding in a listed company falls below 25 per cent at any time,
the company will have to bring the public shareholding to 25 per cent within 12
months from the date of such fall, compared with the two years allowed at present.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy verdict


On June 7, 2010, nearly 26 years after the world's worst industrial disaster left more
than 15,000 dead in the Bhopal gas tragedy, former Union Carbide India Chairman
Keshub Mahindra and seven others were convicted and sentenced to two years
imprisonment.

Chief Judicial Magistrate Mohan P. Tiwari held the 85-year-old non-executive


chairman of the Indian subsidiary of the US-based company and gave them
punishment under less stringent provisions of the Indian Penal Code for causing
death by negligence.

The 89-year-old Warren Anderson, the then Chairman of Union Carbide Corporation
of USA, who lives in the United States, appeares to have gone scot free for the
present as he is still an absconder and did not subject himself to trial. There was no
word about him in the judgement.

The US based company reacted to the judgement saying neither it nor its officials
were subject to the jurisdiction of the Indian court since they were not involved in
the operation of the plant, which was owned and operated by Union Carbide India
Limited.

In his 93-page verdict, Tiwari said the accused were not sentenced under section
304 IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder that provides a maximum of
life imprisonment) since they were old age and were suffering from serious ailments
including heart disease.

All the convicts applied for bail immediately after the sentencing and were granted
relief on a surety of Rs 25,000 each.

Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily described the verdict as an example of “justice


buried” and said there was need for fast-tracking such cases and ensuring proper
investigation.

The BJP termed the order as “painful” and said the prosecution should appeal
against the lower punishment. It also utilised the opportunity to reconsider the
provisions of the nuclear liability Bill.

ONGC, OIL get freedom to price natural gas


In a significant development, the Union government has given national oil
companies, Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and Oil India Ltd (OIL), freedom to
price any additional natural gas produced from blocks given to them on nomination
basis at market rates. So far, all gas—current and future—produced from blocks
given to ONGC and OIL was priced at government-controlled rates, called
administered price mechanism (APM).

Even the price of APM gas from June 1 has been more than doubled to $4.2 per
million British thermal units, on a par with the rate at which Reliance Industries sells
gas from its eastern offshore KG-D6 fields.

The government has also made a significant departure from the previous practice of
pricing natural gas in rupees and has now decided to price it in US dollars.

State-run ONGC and OIL produce 54.32 million cubic metres of gas per day — about
40 per cent of the total amount originating from the country — through fields given
to them on a nomination basis.

Petrol, Diesel prices freed from government control


On June 25, 2010, the Union government announced that prices of petrol and diesel
would become market-driven, in line with the recommendations of a panel headed
by former Planning Commission member Kirit Parikh.

An empowered group of ministers led by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee agreed


to raise diesel prices by Rs 2 a litre for now. The fuel will eventually be freed from
State control. Petrol has been freed fully.

The panel also increased prices of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) by Rs 35 a cylinder
and of kerosene by Rs 3 a litre, though both will remain under government control.

The decision will help to cut fuel subsidies and limit losses of State-run refiners.

The market-driven mechanism would mean users would have to pay more
whenever international crude oil prices rise and less when they fall.

The move would bring down the government’s huge subsidy bill and relieve State-
owned oil marketing companies of some of the burden they bear by selling fuels
much below the market prices. This burden, also called under-recovery, is
estimated at Rs 215 crore every day.

Jharkhand again under President’s rule


On June 1, 2001, Jharkhand came under Central rule with President Pratibha Patil
accepting a recommendation of the Union Cabinet after the Congress and the BJP
gave up efforts to form an alternative government following resignation of Chief
Minister Shibu Soren.

The State Assembly will be kept in suspended animation during the President’s rule,
which has been imposed for a second time in two years.

The Soren government was reduced to a minority on May 24 when the BJP, with 18
MLAs and the JD(U) with two, withdrew support to it. The JMM, with 18 MLAs and
having the support of seven other legislators, was short of the required 42 in the
82-member House. The BJP took the decision after Soren voted against the cut
motions sponsored by the opposition in Lok Sabha on April 27.

Jharkhand has seen seven CMs since its creation on November 15, 2000, came
under President’s rule for the first time on January 19, 2009.

India, Canada sign civil nuclear pact


On June 28, 2001, India and Canada signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement.
The pact was signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Canada.

The deal, the ninth signed by New Delhi, significantly alters Canada’s stance
towards India. The North American nation had led the world in pushing for nuclear
isolation after the 1974 tests in Pokhran.

The US, France, Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Argentina, Namibia and Britain are
the eight countries that have already signed similar pacts with India.

Among other things, the India-Canada Agreement for Cooperation in Peaceful Uses
of Nuclear Energy provides for tie-ups in design, construction, maintenance, supply
of uranium and waste management. The two countries can also promote
cooperation in the development and use of applications related to health, industry,
environment and agriculture.

Visit of South African President


On his maiden visit to an Asian country as the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma
was given a rousing reception by the Indian leadership on June 4, 2010, as the two
countries signed three key pacts, including one on air services, and agreed to
support each other’s candidature for the non-permanent seat at the UN Security
Council for the 2011-2012 term.

A wide range of bilateral issues as well as global developments, including reforms of


the UN Security Council, closer cooperation between the two countries at various
international fora, particularly on climate change, and increasing the volume of
bilateral trade, came for discussions during the talks.
Apart from the pact on enhancing air connectivity, the two countries signed an MoU
on agriculture cooperation and another for linkages between the Foreign Service
Institute of India and the Diplomatic Academy of South Africa.

Both India and South Africa are keen to increase the two-way trade, which currently
stands at $7.5 billion annually. Zuma said he wanted that to grow to $10 billion by
2012.

Visit of Sri Lankan President


Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited New Delhi on June 9, 2010. During
his talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he sought to cool down tempers in
India over the plight of Tamils in his island nation by promising to quickly resettle
displaced Tamils and expedite a political solution to the ethnic issue.

The two countries also signed seven agreements, including a treaty on mutual legal
assistance in criminal matters and an MOU on sentenced prisoners, after wide-
ranging talks.

The two countries announced a major initiative to undertake a programme of


construction of 50,000 houses for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Northern
and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka with India’s assistance. India would also be
taking up several projects for the reconstruction of the North and the East, including
rebuilding of railway infrastructure, rehabilitation of Kankesanthurai harbour and
Palaly Airport, construction of a cultural centre in Jaffna and several vocational
training centres, renovation of the Duraiappaj stadium and rehabilitation of war
widows.

The two countries also decided to resume the ferry services between Colombo and
Tuticoran and between Thalaimannar and Rameswaram. India would also establish
consulates general in Jaffna and Hambantota. India would also assist the island
country in setting up a thermal power plant at Trincomalee.

At their one-on-one meeting which was followed by delegation-level talks, the Indian
PM and the Sri Lankan President also discussed a wide range of bilateral issues,
including the proposed comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA), as
well as international issues. Sri Lanka supported India’s case for inclusion in an
expanded UN Security Council, as well as its candidature for a non-permanent seat
for the 2011-2012 term.

The five other agreements, signed after the talks between the two sides, were:
renewal of MoU on SDP schemes, MoU on setting up of a women’s trade facilitation
centre and community learning centre, renewal of cultural exchange programme,
MoU on interconnection of electricity grids and MoU on Talaimannar-Madhu railway
line.

Indo-US strategic dialogue


The Strategic Dialogue between India and US is another “milestone” in bilateral
relationship with the Obama Administration. External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna
and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton co-chaired the first Cabinet-level Indo-US
Strategic Dialogue, which helped to set the pace for the long-term strategic
relationship between the two countries.

CURRENT EVENTS JUNE2010


International Relations (Major Issues)
What is ACTA and why is it in the news?
• An ACTA is an acronym for anti-counterfeiting trade agreement; otherwise
also known as 'Trips Plus' that is reportedly being given a shape by countries
such as the US, Japan, the EU, Australia and South Korea.
• The ACTA being negotiated between eleven countries (it also includes
Canada, Mexico, Switzerland, NZ, Morocco and Singapore), proposes to widen
the scope of protection and setting up higher standards for enforcement of
intellectual property rights. It would extend to import, export and in-transit
goods and includes infringement of all IPRs.
• While the negotiations for the agreement have been going on for more than
three years, the international community got to know about it this April
through media reports.
• It is feared that it could hamper India’s trade in a number of areas including
pharmaceuticals and IT products.
• Therefore India and China have decided to rake up the issue at the World
Trade Organisation (WTO).
On the predicament of Europe over its debt crisis
• The text book solution to a sovereign debt crisis and loss of competitiveness
— as is the case with Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy — is a substantial cut
in government spending and a deep enough currency devaluation that makes
the country's exports competitive. In addition, structural reforms to address
the problem of inflexible labour markets and loss of competitiveness are
needed. If there is enough appetite for the country's exports in the rest of the
world, fiscal consolidation and a stable economy should be the end result.
This economic prescription is difficult to follow in crisis-ridden Europe
because the eurozone countries are unable to individually depreciate their
currency. This robs these countries of a very potent tool to address the crisis
and regaining competitiveness sans currency depreciation would be harder
and more painful involving recession and deflation.
Riots in Kyrgyzstan
• Deadly riots swept through Osh and another southern city of Jalalabad,Kyrgyz
news agency AKI press reported on Sunday. Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbek groups
set ablaze cars, and looted stores and markets. The Kyrgyz interim
government, which imposed curfew in the entire Jalalabad region, has
allowed police and troops to shoot to kill in order to control the riots.
• About 117 people have been killed over the past three days in what is being
described as the worst ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan in the last two decades.
The interim government in Kyrgyzstan, which took power in April after a
popular revolt toppled President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, had appealed for
Russian help to quell the riots.
• Media reports added that violence continued unabated with Kyrgyzs rioters
torching Uzbek villages and slaughtering residents. More than 75,000 Uzbeks
are said to have crossed over to Uzbekistan. Tensions between Kyrgyzs and
Uzbeks have erupted earlier too, and appear to have been reignited by the
ouster of the president in April. Local Uzbeks largely support the country’s
new leadership in a predominantly Kyrgyz stronghold of the former president
Kurmanbek Bakiyev.
• The provisional government has accused Bakiyev of provoking the violence in
order to destabilise the country.
• There are about 116 Indians trapped in Osh and Jalalabad towns. For the
present they are reported to be safe.
Schengen at 25
• The Schengen area, associated in this part of the world with a single travel
visa — valid across several countries in the European Union (EU) and beyond
— is now 25 years.
• It symbolises an arena of relative success in the grand project of regional
integration. It is hard to make a similar claim with equal confidence, many
would argue, with respect to the other visible sign of transnational integration
— the decade-old single currency — in the wake of the handling of the impact
of the financial crisis in the 16 countries that constitute the eurozone.
• The Schengen area, now comprising 22 of the 27 EU states besides
Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway, entails the absence of internal barriers in a
territory along a 42,673 km external sea and 7,721 km land borders.
Building a bright future with coherent effort
• The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's (SCO) annual summit ended
in Tashkent with the leaders of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Tajikistan and Uzbekistan agreeing to further enhance regional stability and
seek common development.
• Against the backdrop of complicated regional and international situations, it
is both a necessity and the collective wish of these countries and their
peoples to safeguard regional stability, and cooperatively promote social and
economic advancement of the entire region.
• The Tashkent declaration, issued at the end of the six-member summit,
stressed the importance of constructive dialogues and cooperation among
SCO member states, with a particular emphasis on countering new threats
and challenges that have emerged in the security sector.
U.N. imposes sanctions on Iran
• The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has by a heavy margin imposed a
fourth round of sanctions against Iran.
• Of the 15 members in the Council, 12 voted in favour of sanctions. Turkey
and Brazil opposed the sanctions, while Lebanon abstained.
• However, Brazil and Turkey, both of whom had signed a nuclear swap deal
with Iran last month, warned that the latest sanctions would impede
diplomacy on Iran's atomic programme.
• The new sanctions include provisions that prohibit Iran from purchasing
heavy weaponry, of various types, including attack helicopter and missiles.
• It recommends all countries to inspect cargo from Iran, suspected of
containing banned items at their ports and airports.
• Banning licences of banks suspected of funding nuclear activities is also part
of the recommendations.
• Besides, a travel ban and asset freezes for a number of individuals, including
senior nuclear officials and associated firms is proposed.
• Hours before the UNSC vote, Russia, France and the United States responded
to the nuclear swap deal that Iran, Turkey and Brazil had signed last month.
• While the full details of the response were still awaited, diplomats familiar
with the issue said that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head
Yukiya Amano conveyed to Iran, the response of the three countries, the so-
called Vienna group.
• The Vienna group apparently wants some significant changes to the Tehran
document.
An analysis A needless provocation
• Driven by myopia and sheer bloody-mindedness, the United States and 11
other members of the United Nations Security Council have voted to tighten
sanctions on Iran. Brazil and Turkey, which recently brokered an important
fuel swap agreement with Tehran, voted against the sanctions resolution
while Lebanon abstained.
• What matters is not the specific provisions contained in the latest round of
sanctions but the fact that Washington insisted on pushing them through just
when a small window for confidence-building and trust between Iran and the
international community had been opened by the Turkish-Brazilian initiative.
Under their proposal, which the International Atomic Energy Agency is now
considering, Iran will promptly transfer 1,200 kg of low enriched uranium —
roughly half the amount the IAEA estimates it has produced to date — to
Turkey, where it would be held in escrow.
• Russia and France would then fabricate an equivalent amount of enriched
uranium fuel rods suitable for use in the Tehran Research Reactor. Once
these rods are ready, they will be exchanged for the Iranian LEU.
• Although the swap addresses an issue distinct from the one Iran is currently
being sanctioned for, the successful implementation of the agreement would
have been a major confidence-building measure. The U.S. and its allies would
have succeeded in removing from the territory of Iran half its LEU stockpile —
an amount that could theoretically be used to fabricate one nuclear device
should Iran leave the Non-Proliferation Treaty and start weapons-grade
enrichment.
• From the Iranian point of view, it would have demonstrated that the
international community was capable of reasonableness and flexibility. From
there, the Turks and Brazilians, perhaps supplemented by other powers,
might have been able to move their engagement with Iran to a higher level,
securing answers to the few remaining questions the IAEA has about the
Iranian nuclear programme.
• But Wednesday's sanctions resolution changes everything. They send a
signal to the diverse stakeholders in Tehran that reasonableness doesn't pay.
Iran is likely to harden its attitude, thereby allowing the U.S. and its allies to
take one more step down the path of confrontation.
• India, which has a major economic and strategic stake in the preservation of
peace in the Persian Gulf and West Asia, should stop being a passive
bystander to the crisis that is now looming large. By insisting on sanctions at
this stage, the P-5 have only succeeded in scoring own goals. India may not
be a member of the U.N. Security Council but that should not preclude it from
actively pursuing a diplomatic end to the standoff.
The curse of Okinawa
• Japan's new Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, faces unenviable challenges. He was
elected to the office by the Democratic Party of Japan following last week's
sudden resignation by Yukio Hatoyama.
• Credited with fashioning the election victory of the centre-left DPJ only eight
months ago, Mr. Hatoyama managed to become dramatically unpopular in
record time.
• A controversy over financial irregularities during the election campaign
destroyed the impression that the new government represented change from
the sleazy money politics of the Liberal Democratic Party.
• But the trigger for Mr. Hatoyama's resignation was the U.S. military presence
on the island of Okinawa. Of nearly 40,000 American troops in Japan under a
bilateral security treaty, over two-thirds are in bases in Okinawa.
• The local population resents them. The DPJ made an election promise to
reduce the number of U.S. troops in Okinawa, and specifically to move the
Marine Corps Air Station Futenma off the island. The plan was fiercely
opposed by the U.S., which sees its presence in Okinawa as vital; the island is
located strategically close to North Korea and China. Public anger mounted
when it became apparent that the U.S. carried more weight on this issue than
voters, and that all Mr. Hatoyama could do was relocate the base to a less-
populous area on the island. Across the rest of Japan, he was blamed for
mishandling relations with an important international ally. With elections to
the Diet's upper house due in less than a month, he opted to fall on his
sword, leaving the mess to his successor.
Three-day “peace jirga
• Only way out is exit
• A three-day “peace jirga” in Afghanistan has given rise to more questions
than answers.
• President Hamid Karzai called the jirga to win an endorsement for a peace
deal with the Taliban so that it could be held out as a nationally mandated
plan.
• The Taliban, the real and deadly opposition, was not invited; and the non-
attendance of some heavyweight opposition politicians took away from the
moment. Still, this traditional assembly, seen as a very Afghan way of taking
crucial decisions, has helped the embattled Mr. Karzai put behind him some
of the controversy surrounding his re-election last year.
• But the workability of the proposed peace deal is another matter. Foremost
among the difficulties relates to the issue of what can be gained by
negotiating with a reactionary and brutal group that rejects every way of
ordering the world except its own, and Al-Qaeda's. Secondly, the Taliban has
a strong card to play: it will not negotiate unless its condition that all foreign
troops in Afghanistan must leave is met.
• Mr. Karzai, however, wants to implement his plan under the protective
umbrella of the U.S./ NATO security forces. His game plan is to wean away
‘non-ideological' Taliban fighters with an amnesty, cash, and jobs. There is
talk of offering asylum to hardline Taliban leaders in another country,
possibly Saudi Arabia, and of working on the international community to have
some other Taliban leaders taken off a US/UN blacklist.
• This would have made sense were the Taliban on the verge of military defeat.
It is inconceivable that at this point, when the Taliban senses victory, the core
leadership will opt for voluntary exile. Then there is the matter of how
compatible Mr. Karzai's plan is with the interests of Pakistan and the United
States.
Israel's rogue behaviour
• Tuesday's attack on an unarmed, humanitarian flotilla of activists carrying
relief supplies for the besieged and blockaded people of Gaza is a reminder
to the world of the lawless, outlaw nature of the Israeli state. Although the
death toll is still unclear, as many as 10 activists, several of them Turkish
nationals, died when Israel Defence Forces commandos swooped down on the
vessels in international waters and used grossly disproportionate force to
overcome the not unexpected resistance they encountered.
• The boats, their passengers, and cargo have all been illegally detained.
Among those locked up by the Israelis are a number of journalists from
around the world who had joined the flotilla to cover the story. The criminal
Israeli response to what was intended to be a Gandhian act of solidarity with
the Palestinian people is the product of the international community's failure
to ensure that Tel Aviv's illegal and immoral blockade of Gaza was lifted.
Israel cut off Gaza from the rest of the world in June 2007 as a means of
weakening the political hold Hamas has on the territory. The rocket attacks
were a pretext for the blockade, which quickly escalated into a full-scale war
on the people of the territory. Gaza suffers all the evils of occupation despite
the withdrawal by the Zionist forces in 2005.
• The Israeli invasion of 2008-09 led to the commission of war crimes as
documented by the UN-mandated Goldstone Commission. And the blockade
of Gaza and its people amounts to collective punishment of civilians, another
grave breach of international humanitarian law. Any other country would
have been hauled over the coals by the UN Security Council for such rogue
behaviour but Israel enjoys the backing of the United States. As a presidential
candidate, Barack Obama held out the faint hope of a more even-handed
approach to the problems of West Asia.
• But as President, he has dismally failed to exert the kind of pressure needed
to get Israel to withdraw from the territories it has illegally occupied since
1967. The crime that played out on the high seas on May 31 is very much
part of the crime of occupation. There is little sense in the UNSC asking for an
inquiry into the incident when previous inquiries into Israeli behaviour —
notably the Goldstone report — ended in the dustbin. At the very least, the
international community must ensure the immediate end of the Israeli
embargo on Gaza. No goal or logic can justify subjecting an entire civilian
population to an economic blockade. India has joined democratic forces
round the world in condemning the attack on the flotilla. It must move
beyond this now and actively work for the lifting of the inhuman blockade.
The way forward in Nepal
• A political and constitutional crisis of sorts was averted in Nepal last week
when the three biggest parties — the Maoists, the Nepali Congress, and the
Unified Marxists-Leninists — agreed to extend the life of the Constituent
Assembly (CA) by another year.
• Under the interim statute adopted after the overthrow of the monarchy, the
CA's term was set to expire on May 28, 2010, the assumption being that two
years was sufficient time to write the new constitution. In the light of the
interminable squabbling among the big three, that goal turned out to be
hopelessly ambitious. But what guarantee is there that the new deadline of
2011 will be met? So far, at least, the outlook is not very promising.
• The three-point agreement on the basis of which the CA's life was extended
spoke of forming “as soon as possible… [a] national consensus government.”

International Relations (Minor Issues)


What exactly is ailing Europe
• For example, the total debt of Greece is $226 billion while that of Spain is
$1.1 trillion — almost four and a half times larger. Of that, about $220 billion
is owed to French institutions, a similar number to German institutions and
about $120 billion to British firms. With 20% unemployment, Spain has one of
the weakest economies in Europe. Meanwhile of Italy's gross debt of $1.4
trillion, about 40% is owed to France, which amounts to almost half of the
latter's GDP. The interconnectedness of these economies is such that the
weakest link will determine the strength of the EU.
Asia's global responsibility
• According to a recent assessment by the International Monetary Fund, Asia
will grow by 7 per cent this year, with its bigger economies, China and India,
posting higher rates. But leadership in the global economic recovery casts
special responsibilities on these countries.
• Their current strengths, and the policy choices they will be making from now
on, will have a significant bearing on the fortunes of the global economy.
• The debt crisis in Europe has added to the problems created by financial
market volatility. Economic recovery has been uneven across regions; and in
many countries, it is still fragile.
• The outlook is much better for the world's most populous continent. Output in
most of Asia is well above pre-crisis levels and, for the first time, its
contribution to a global recovery is outstripping that of other regions. In a
development that portends well for the sustainability of growth, domestic
consumption rather than an overwhelming dependence on exports has
become the growth driver in most Asian economies.
• There are two sets of risks the global economy faces. First, many advanced
countries have practically exhausted the fiscal space available for continuing
policy support. Secondly, the financial sector continues to be vulnerable to
external shocks. A key concern is that political leaders in the developed
countries have so far not been able to deliver on the promised bank reform
packages. Adverse developments in Europe could disrupt trade in Asian
economies. But fortunately the financial linkages to euro area economies are
limited.
• The biggest challenge India and a few other emerging economies face relates
to capital inflows. Asia's bright prospects have attracted large inflows of
capital from developed countries, which have very low interest rates.
Poland arrests alleged Mossad agent
• Polish authorities have arrested an alleged Mossad spy from Israel wanted in
connection with the slaying of a Hamas agent in Dubai, the German federal
prosecutor's office said.
• A man using the name of Uri Brodsky is suspected of working for a foreign
spy agency in Germany and helping issue a fake German passport to a
member of the Mossad hit squad allegedly behind the killing of Mahmoud al—
Mabhouh in January, the German spokesman told The Associated Press.
• Brodsky was arrested in early June upon his arrival in Poland because of a
European arrest warrant issued by Germany and Germany is now seeking his
extradition, the spokesman said, declining to be named in line with
department policy.
Democracy diminished
• The failure of the United Kingdom, despite warnings from the Council of
Europe, to comply with the 2004 ruling of the European Court of Human
Rights that all prisoners must be allowed to vote illustrates the extent to
which medieval notions of punishment colour the understanding of the
canons of modern rule of law even in advanced democracies.
• The Court is the judicial arm of the Council of Europe, which comprises 47
states. Under any system of liberal constitutional government that enshrines
universal adult suffrage, the deprivation of the basic democratic right of the
vote to anybody undermines his or her fundamental identity as a citizen of a
nation-state.
• As such, a denial of the right to felons is tantamount to a double penalty,
considering that incarceration fulfils the punitive objective of curtailing their
liberty. Disenfranchisement runs counter to the spirit of proportionality,
deterrence, and reformation — values that are increasingly seen as
underpinning the purpose of punitive measures and intended to undercut the
harshness and cruelty historically associated with the administration of
criminal justice.
• The Council's warnings to the British government to let prisoners vote in the
2010 general election or be in breach of their human rights came on the back
of a campaign by liberal democrats and activist groups to enfranchise the
country's 70,300 convicted prisoners. The court had held that a prisoner's
right to vote — in addition to his or her rights to marriage, practise religion,
freedom of expression and correspondence, access to legal remedy, and
protection against torture — fell outside the purview of the deprivation of
liberty sanctioned under a conviction.
• The United States presents a unique case of barring an estimated five million
convicted felons from voting. American states have different laws relating to
prisoner voting rights. While several of them permanently disenfranchise
felony convicts, a couple of states allow prisoners serving a sentence to vote.
Equally bizarre is the Indian case where contesting and often winning
elections from within prison walls is not uncommon, although exercising the
franchise is another matter. India needs to follow the European, not the U.S.,
example in this respect. To prevent prisoners serving a sentence from
fulfilling a basic democratic duty is indeed to deny them their human rights.
Happy reunion
• Tim Coco and Genesio Oliveira married in 2005, among the throngs who wed
after same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts. But for nearly three
years, they lived apart — Mr. Coco in Haverhill and Mr. Oliveira in his native
Brazil — because federal law does not recognise their union.
• On Wednesday, Mr. Oliveira returned to Massachusetts for an emotional
reunion after federal immigration officials took the rare step of granting him
permission to stay for one year on humanitarian grounds, clearing the way
for him to try again for legal residency. His return followed personal appeals
by Senator John F. Kerry, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, and Homeland
Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on their behalf.

National - Social/Political (Minor Issues)


Vivek Sahai takes over as chairman of Railway Board
• Vivek Sahai, a senior railway official who earned accolades for deftly handling
the suburban train operation in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks, on
Monday took over as the new chairman Railway Board.
• Sahai, an Indian Railway Traffic Service officer, who was the Railway Board
(member) traffic, has taken up the top job from S S Khurana upon his
superannuation.
India gets help in piracy fight
• A number of developing countries from East Asia, Latin America and Africa
have extended their support to India in its fight against an attempt by
developed countries to narrow the difference between fake medicines and
counterfeits.
• Counterfeits are drugs produced in violation of intellectual property
agreements. These are different from fake medicines.
• WHO launched IMPACT in 2006 -- International Medical Products Anti-
Counterfeiting Taskforce -- which allegedly represents the interest of
multinational pharmaceutical firms. WHO, in partnership with IMPACT, has
been actively considering using the term counterfeit to define fake and
spurious medicines.
• Developing countries including India argue that if counterfeits are confused
with fake medicines, it could result in more seizures across the globe and
affect supply of genuine and cheap medicines to the poor.
• India had submitted that its genuine generic medicines were seized at
European ports because EU followed intellectual property laws that went
beyond the international Trips agreement and this should not be allowed to
become the norm.
Lodha to gift Mumbai world’s tallest homes
• Lodha Developers, one of India’s biggest realtors, is taking a tall bet on
Mumbai’s top-end residential property market and is reportedly negotiating
with foreign as well as local financiers to fund what it claims would be the
world’s tallest residential tower.
• The tower will come up on the 17.5-acre plot of the defunct Shrinivas Mill in
Lower Parel, central Mumbai, that the Lodhas got control of after purchasing
the shares of Shrinivas Cotton—which owned the land title— some years ago.
• The tower may have 117 floors. As and when the booking starts, the price
should be around Rs 22,000 per sq ft.
• The height of the world’s tallest residential tower—Queensland Number One
in Australia—is 322.5 metres. Pentominium, the supertall skyscraper that’s
under construction in Dubai, will be 516 metres with 120 floors.
Delhi sends Afzal file recommending rejection of mercy plea
• Afzal Guru should be hanged, the Delhi government said in its
recommendation forwarded to the Union home ministry.
• The state government’s opinion on the mercy petition of Parliament attack
convict Mohammad Afzal Guru was given to the MHA after a good four years
and 16 reminders to the Sheila Dikshit regime.
• But President Pratibha Patil is said to be averse to clearing death penalties.
She has informally conveyed to her aides her reluctance to clear death
penalties for even the most-hardened criminals in view of her religious
beliefs.
Some interesting stats relating to forest produce
• A unique study — Green accounting for Indian states and Union Territories —
found the value of our forest at Rs 88,60,259 crore in 2003.
• The ILO Report 2009 estimates that the global market for environment
products and services is projected to double to $2,740 billion by 2020 from
the present $1,370 billion per year.
• World export market for handicraft is estimated to be worth $350 billion.
Headley spills ISI’s 26/11 beans
• The exchanges between the FBI and the Indian agencies as well as
preliminary details of the NIA team’s interview with David Coleman Headley
point to the ISI’s direct role in the Mumbai attacks. According to sources in
the investigating agencies, Pakistan’s semi-rogue spy agency “planned and
guided” the attack on Mumbai.
Irretrievable breakdown to be ground for divorce
• The Cabinet will clear amendments to the Hindu Marriage Act today by
including “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” as ground for divorce.
• Under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriages Act, which provides for grant of
divorce, a decree of divorces for separation can be given only on the grounds
such as “cruelty”, “adultery” and “desertion”.
• The lack of this provision was recently pointed out by the Supreme Court
while hearing a petition filed by Union power minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s
daughter, Smriti Shinde. A 2006 judgement, too, had voiced the need for
legislative intervention on the issue.
• In 1981, a Bill was introduced to give effect to “irretrievable breakdown” as a
ground for divorce, but it did not find acceptance as some were of the view
that unscrupulous husband would desert their wives by taking advantage of
this provision.
At Rs 16.4cr, Raza Sets World Record
• A painting by SH Raza was sold at Christie's for £2.4 million (Rs 16.42 crore)
on Thursday, making it a record for any modern or contemporary Indian work
of art. Saurashtra, a 7-foothigh, richly-coloured abstract dating from 1983,
had been expected to sell for £1.3-1.8 million.
• The London auction price broke the previous record held by Raza’s work La
Terre, which sold for £1.27 million (Rs 8.56 crore) on June 30, 2008, and
Souza’s Birth, which set a record on June 11, 2008, with a similar price tag of
£1.27 million. The earlier Raza and Souza prices were world auction records
for the artists too.
New DGH
• S K Srivastava is new director general of DGH
• Over seven months after controversial oil regulator V K Sibal demitted office,
the government has appointed S K Srivastava as the new director general of
the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH).
• Srivastava was Director (Operations) in state explorer Oil India when in late
October last year he was given the additional charge of DGH after Sibal was
denied an extension amid charges of favouring private parties.
Australia is no longer a favoured destination for Indian students
• The increasing regularity with which Indian students have been targeted in
racial attacks in Australia, appears to have finally taken a toll. Many of the
Indian students are no longer preferring Australia as a destination for their
higher education. It’s almost certain now that the number of Indian students
going to Australia will take a big hit in 2010, and some experts even see a
75% decline.
• Australia has received over 2.67 lakh global student visa applications in the
fiscal year to May 31, 2010. The figure represents a fall of over 18% when
compared to the record figures of 2008-09.
• Indeed, Fall 2010 will be a tad different from previous years. A combination of
factors such as stricter immigration norms, changing dynamics in the global
job market and incidents of racism in some georgaphies is reshaping the
decisions taken by Indian students on overseas education. Some are actually
putting their overseas studies on hold for a year or two, despite having got
their visas stamped. Many of them prefer to stay back in India and work–at
least for now.
India's first professional symphony orchestra makes international debut
• India created history by fielding its first professional symphony orchestra in
the Fifth Festival of World's Symphony Orchestras here, and winning the
applause of Muscovites, one of the most demanding audiences in the world.
• The Symphony Orchestra of India (SOI), during its maiden foreign trip,
performed Beethoven's 9th symphony in the finale of the 10-day festival in
the historical House of Columns, once the club of Russian Imperial gentry.
The SOI was formed by the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in 2006.
Science & Tech/Environment/Sports (Major/Minor Issues)
Nadal lifts his fifth French Open crown
• Rafael Nadal recaptured the French Open crown on Sunday, gaining revenge
over Robin Soderling with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win and, in so doing, he also retook
the world No.1 spot from Roger Federer.
• Nadal was simply too powerful on clay for the Swede who 12 months ago
ended the Spaniard's 31-match, four titles win streak in Paris in stunning
fashion with a four sets, fourth round triumph.
• The win, Nadal's fifth here since 2005, put him second on the all-time list of
French Open winners, one behind Bjorn Borg whose last title here came in
1981. He is now 38-1 in matches played at Roland Garros.
The World Cup football
• The 64 matches in World Cup 2010, which kicks off on June 11 in South
Africa, could have a cumulative viewership of over 26 billion going by the
trend in the previous tournament of 2006.
• Some 700 million viewers watched the World Cup 2006 final between Italy
and France.
• Fifa sold World Cup TV rights for $2.7 billion.
• India connection to the World Cup
 Latex bladder from India is being used in the manufacture of
footballs specially designed for the World Cup, incorporating
eight thermally-bonded three-dimensional panels, all spherically
moulded and textured with grooves to improve aerodynamics,
based on inputs from researchers at the UK’s Loughborough
University.
• The ball for this World Cup was designed by Adidas. It is given the name
Jabulani (Zulu for ‘Bringing joy to everyone’).
• The World Cup mascot is Zakumi — an anthropomorphed leopard with green
hair.
FIFA World Cup history
• From its humble beginnings in Uruguay in 1930 to a global phenomenon, the
FIFA World Cup (WC) has grown as a passion for both foot-ballers and fans.
With Uruguay, the football champion in the 1924 and 1928 Olympics, along
with celebrating 100 years of Independence in 1930, FIFA decided to give the
country the hosting rights for the first World Cup.
• Only 13 nations participated in the first World Cup and Uruguay won. FIFA
then asked teams to qualify for the following World Cup, held in Italy.
Uruguay did not defend its title, miffed with the non-appearance of European
nations on its soil. Italy went on to win in 1934.
• The succeeding edition saw the host nation and defending champion given
direct entries into the finals. Italy retained the title while many South
American nations boycotted the event because of the finals staying in
Europe. The next two tournaments were cancelled because of World War II.
• The 1950 World Cup in Brazil saw England participating for the first time. The
competition did away with knockouts and had two group phases.
• A 17-year old Pele, displaying skills beyond his age, became the youngest
player to win the WC. With the likes of Garrincha by his side, Pele and
Selecao again won the World Cup in 1962.
• England hosted the 1966 event and won, and it would be remembered for
many things. The Jules Rimet trophy was lost and found, South Africa was
banned for apartheid, the first WC mascot was unveiled, and North Korea
became the first Asian nation to enter the last eight.
• In 1970, Brazil coasted to a dominating triumph, with Pele becoming the first
and till now only player to win three WCs. The team, which also had the likes
of Gerson and Tostao, is widely recognised as the best ever football team.
• Now in its 80th year, the World Cup touches down in Africa. The African
nation, riddled with economic strife and racial tensions, has done all the
spadework for the quadrennial event.
Saina Nehwal wins Indian Open
• Saina Nehwal, the women's top seed and World No.6 overcame a stiff
challenge from Choo Wong Mew of Malaysia, the second seed, to win 20-22,
21-14, 21-12 in 56 minutes in the singles final in the $1,20,000 Yonex
Sunrise-India Open Grand Prix gold badminton championships.
Performance of Kyoto protocol -- an assessment
• The rich must reduce so that the poor can grow. This was the basis of the
climate pact signed in Rio. This was the basis of the Kyoto Protocol that
committed the industrialised world to cut emissions by 6% over 1990 levels
by 2008-12.
• But the world has never been serious about this pact. Between 1990 and
2006, carbon dioxide emissions of the rich countries have increased by
14.5%. Furthermore, emissions from the growth-related energy sector have
increased by 15%.
BASICs meet in July
• Ahead of the August round of negotiations at Bonn, the BASIC (Brazil, South
Africa, India and China) countries will meet in Rio de Janeiro in late July.
• It is expected that the other developing countries will be invited to take part
in the deliberations. This is a part of the agreement that the four countries
agreed to at their May meeting in Cape Town. In a departure from practice,
the Rio meeting will have technical segment followed by the high-level
ministerial segment. The technical segment would focus on three issues —
equity, leveraging private finance, and science and possible scenarios.
• Each of the four countries is working on a model for equity in carbon space.
India has prepared a paper on a burdensharing model based on the principle
of per capita emission, South Africa is working on a study which is based on
the global development rights framework, China is preparing a carbon budget
as well. Brazil already has an equity study, which it prepared in 1997.
Green Revolution's diet of big carbon savings
• The Green Revolution of the 1960s raised crop yields and cut hunger — and
also saved decades worth of greenhouse gas emissions, a study concludes.
U.S. researchers found cumulative global emissions since 1850 would have
been one third as much again without the Green Revolution's higher yields.
• Although modern farming uses more energy and chemicals, much less land
needs to be cleared. The study is published in Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences.
• “Converting a forest or some scrubland to an agricultural area causes a lot of
natural carbon in that ecosystem to be oxidised and lost to the atmosphere,”
said Steven Davis, from the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global
Ecology at Stanford University in California.
Rich countries accused of carbon ‘cheating'
• Some rich countries are seeking new rules under the U.N. climate convention
that campaigners say would allow them to gain credit for “business as usual.”
Russia, Australia, Canada and some EU countries are among the accused.
• The rules relate to land-use change, which can either release or absorb
carbon, depending mainly on whether forests are planted or chopped down.
Rich countries, apart from the U.S., could account for about 5 per cent of
their annual emissions through this loophole.
• The U.S. is not involved in these negotiations because the proposals fall
under the Kyoto Protocol, of which it — alone among developed countries —
is not a part. By way of comparison, 5 per cent is roughly equal to the total
emissions reduction that developed countries pledged to make between 1990
and 2012 under the Kyoto Protocol. The benefit for some countries, notably
Russia, would be much greater.

• Indian Economy (Minor Issues)


MTN rings Anil for merger with RCOM
• With the rapprochement between the two Ambani brothers making headlines
all over the world, MTN is reported to be considering in its board meeting, as
early as today, a merger with RCOM.
• MTN is a South Africa based telecom giant with interests in Africa. Currently,
South Africa’s Public Investment Body holds 18% in MTN, Lebanon’s Mikati
family holds 10, while the rest is owned by institutional and individual
investors.
• In 2008 also there were merger talks between MTN and Anil Ambani. But they
came to a naught with the elder brother Mukesh saying that he has the first
right of refusal over RCOM and hence MTN cannot be acquiring any stake in
RCOM without his refusal.
• MTN has proved to be the runaway bride for many. So far, the company has
entered into nine negotiations with a stated objective to sell out.
• The last among them was Bharti Airtel. The proposed $24-billion transaction
would have seen Bharti acquire a 49% stake in MTN while the South African
company and its shareholders would have purchased 36% of Bharti. The deal
would have created a telecom giant with the third-highest subscribers of any
wireless carrier in the world.
• If the RCOM and MTN join hands, the combined entity would have annual
revenues of approximately $13.4 billion, with earnings before interest, tax,
depreciation and amortisation of $7.7 billion. The two would also have 218
million subscribers, putting it among the top five companies around the
world.
GDP grew at 7.4% in FY 2010
• Indian economy expanded at a better-than-expected 7.4% in 2009-10, helped
by strong growth in manufacturing and agriculture that lifted fourth quarter
numbers, but faces global headwinds as it pushes for 8.5% growth in the
current fiscal year.
• The country’s gross domestic output grew by 8.7% in the fourth fiscal quarter
as agriculture grew 0.7% and manufacturing cruised at 16.3%, data released
on Monday showed.
• The numbers emboldened finance minister Pranab Mukherjee to say the
economy would grow by more than 8.5% in the current year. But his
optimism is not shared by many others.
• In the three months to March 2010, gross fixed capital formation—a measure
of investment activity—grew 34.6% quarter-on-quarter, indicating that
investments have begun to pick up. However, analysts suspect that these
investments are largely by the government in infrastructure sectors and will
like to see private players stepping in.
Criteria for starting a bank?
• Under the existing regulations, the initial minimum paid-up capital for a new
bank should be Rs 200 crore and the promoter’s contribution shall be at least
40% of the paid-up capital of the bank at any point of time.
• The current laws state that an individual company or its subsidiaries can only
hold a maximum of 10% stake in the proposed new bank.
Bharti wraps up Zain deal
• Bharti has reportedly closed the $9 bn purchase of the African operations of
Kuwait's Zain Telecom.
• This is India's second biggest overseas deal after Tata Steel's $13 bn
purchase of Corus in 2007.
• The completion of the deal gives Bharti Airtel a firm foothold in a market that
it has long coveted: two previous attempts to enter Africa with MTN, the
continent’s largest phone firm, came to nought.
• Cash from the African operations will pay for the about $9-billion loan that
Bharti has taken to fund the deal and will reportedly cost the company less
than $200 million a year in interest payments.
• The combined entity will be the world’s fifth largest, with 180 million
customers, 42 million of them in Africa.
On the importance of tackling inflation
• Inflation will be a nagging issue for India because: (a) We are a nation with a
large population, which is underserved in terms of food, clothing, housing,
etc, (b) Indian GDP is on the trajectory of high trend growth rate of over 8%
and GDP per capita is growing at the rate of 7.5%. There is significantly high
unsatiated demand at current level of economy, which is bound to rise
significantly further as the GDP per capita increases. Hence, the managers of
Indian economy have to address the issue of inflation with short-, medium-
and long-term perspective.
Tribunals for economic disputes, offences likely
• The government plans to set up special dispute resolutions panels and courts
to resolve economic offences and disputes, as it looks to make a clear
distinction between cases of general and specialised nature.
• The proposal will now be discussed and finalised by the law ministry. It may
require changes in existing legal framework.
• This initiative follows a suggestion made by the Prime Minister’s Council on
Trade and Industry, which called for a special dispute resolution mechanism
to administer all existing and future economic legislations.
Private funds flowing swiftly to infrastructure projects
• Private investments in India’s infrastructure projects crossed $25-billion mark
in the first three quarters of 2009, as conducive government policies and
liquidity in capital market opened the floodgates of corporate funds into the
booming energy and transport sectors.
• An improved show by infrastructure industries helped India lead its South
Asian neighbours in terms of economic performance, according to a World
Bank report. India’s energy and transport sectors attracted 40% of total
investment commitments worth a record $26 billion.
• Investment commitments to new infrastructure projects with private
participation grew by 15% in 2009.
• This could be because of the country’s globally competitive manufacturing
sector.
Basic about Pass through certificates
• A pass through certificate (PTC) is created on conversion of a loan to an
investible debt instruments such as bonds and debentures. The PTC has
features of any other debt instrument and earn a return to the investor. Such
certificates are sold against an underlying security which is generally the loan
that a bank converts into securities or bonds.
• In India, servicing of such PTCs is done by a special purpose vehicle (SPV)
which is created by the issuer of such PTCs. The issuer is essentially a bank
or an NBFC which benefits by converting loans to PTCs through what is known
as securitisation as it generates further resources for the entity for further
lending. The investor earns a fixed return like any other fixed income
instrument.
RIL drawing up plans to foray into telecom space
• The board of Reliance Industries (RIL) is believed to have approved plans to
enter the Indian telecommunications sector when the opportunity arises.
• India’s largest private sector company is expected to go for only the lucrative
corporate bandwidth market, or the business of selling telecom and internet
services to companies rather than individuals.
• It is likely that the company could unveil its intent to foray into telecom at its
annual general meeting on June 18.
• The government is currently auctioning frequency spectrum for broadband
wireless access, or WiMAX, a technology that speeds up internet access and
RIL is likely to set up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to acquire one of the
winners.
• It is rare for a telecom company to sell only to companies, ignoring retail
consumers. The only comparable initiative to what RIL seems interested in
would be Tulip Telecom. But Tulip is small and has found it difficult to expand
business beyond a point. Tulip offers companies wireless bandwidth
solutions, including virtual private networks, on radio spectrum that is free for
use. Only last month, the company announced plans to start its own overseas
hubs for customers that required access globally.
• In the year ended March 2010, Tulip had revenues of Rs 1,967 crore with a
net profit of Rs 275 crore. Yet, RIL’s entry into the market will set the cat
among the pigeons for telecom operators. Already beleaguered by falling call
rates in India, the sector can ill afford a sharp decline in leased-line rates and
corporate client spends.
Broadband Wireless Airwaves auction touches record high
• The cost of pan-India broadband airwaves, which crossed Rs 12,000 crore
after 14 days of bidding, has baffled analysts and stunned telecom
companies participating in the auctions, many of whom concede that the
price has become ‘highly irrational.’
• On Wednesday, the pan-India bid licence for BWA spectrum touched Rs
12,257 crore, after two weeks of auction, which translates into a revenue of
Rs 36,772 crore for the government from the sale of three slots.
• The government had estimated to garner Rs 35,000 crore from both 3G and
BWA auctions combined. This takes the total revenues for the government
from 3G and BWA combined to over Rs 1 lakh crore.
No tax on retirement benefits under new draft code
• The revised draft Direct Taxes Code (DTC) proposes tax exemption on
retirement benefits, the Public Provident Fund (PPF), the Government
Provident Fund (GPF), the Recognised Provident Funds and the Employees
Provident Fund and addresses important issues such as Minimum Alternate
Tax (MAT).
• It also takes care of taxation of long-term savings, capital gains and housing
loans.
• Also, a proposal to levy MAT on corporates based on their assets had been
dropped. However, the DTC did not give any details on the Income-Tax
structure such as the slabs or rates, which were provided in the first draft
released in August 2009.
• “As of now, it is proposed to provide the EEE [exempt-exempt-exempt]
method of taxation for GPF, PPF, the Employees Provident Fund and
Recognised Provident Funds,” it said.
CURRENT EVENTS MAY 2010

May 2010

APPOINTED; ELECTED; Etc.

David Cameron: He has been elected as the Prime Minister of UK.


Kamla Persad-Bissessar: A 58-year-old woman of Indian origin, she has been
elected as the first woman Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago. Her party, People’s
Partnership, won 29 of the 41 parliamentary seats to end the 43-yeaqr-old rule of
the ruling party.
Justice Sarosh Homi Kapadia: He has been appointed as the 38th Chief Justice of
India. He is an expert in taxation and commercial laws.
Dr Ratan Kumar Sinha: He has been appointed as the new Director of Bhabha
Atomic Research Centre (BARC). He is closely associated with the design and
development of India’s first Thorium-based advanced Heavy Water reactor.

RESIGNED
Horst Koehler: President of Germany. He resigned following criticism over his
comments about Germany’s military engagement in Afghanistan. He is the first
President in Germany’s post-war history to resign before completing his term.

DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
Jacob Zuma: President of South Africa.

DIED
Bhairon Singh Shekhawat: Former Vice President of India. He was 86. A senior
BJP leader, he had also held the post of Chief Minister of Rajasthan.
Mac Mohan: Veteran character actor of Hindi film industry, he immortalised in the
role of Gabbar Singh’s sidekick “Sambha” in blockbuster “Sholay”. He was 71.

MILESTONES
Nitin Nohria: India-born American, he has been named the 10th Dean of Harvard
Business School. He is the first person of Indian origin to achieve this honour.
Mamta Sodha: 30-year-old Dalit girl from Kaithal, Haryana, she has achieved the
distinction of climbing Mount Everest. She was part of the Mission Mount Everest
2010 expedition.
Jordan: A 13-year-old American boy from California, he has become youngest
person to climb Mount Everest. He achieved the feat on May 22, 2010.
Arjun Bajpayee: 16-year-old resident of Uttar Pradesh's Noida city, he has become
the youngest Indian to climb the Mount Everest. He broke the record of Krushnaa
Patil,18, from Maharashtra who became the youngest Indian to reach the highest
peak in 2009.
Commander Dilip Donde: He has become the first Indian to sail solo around the
world.
Shah Faesal: An MBBS degree holder from Srinagar, he has topped the Civil
Services Exam 2009.
Gita Gopinath: She is the first Indian woman in the history of Harvard University to
be appointed a full time professor at the University. She is a professor in Economics
Department of Harvard University.

EVENTS
MAY
1—The police in New York foil a major terror attack by defusing a crude car bomb in
the heart of city’s famous tourist hub of Times Square.
17—Maoists blow up a passenger bus in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, killing
more than 36 people.
17—The Strategic Forces Command, with logistics support from DRDO, successfully
launches the Agni-II surface-to-surface, intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM).
22—In one of the worst air tragedies in India, Air India flight from Dubai overshoots
runway at Mangalore airport and bursts into flames, killing 158 passengers and
crew on board.
28—More than 80 people are killed as a goods train rams into already derailed
Gyaneshwari Express near Kharagpur, West Bengal. The Maoists are blamed for the
derailment of the passenger train.

CURRENT EVENTS APRIL 2010

April 2010

APPOINTED; ELECTED; Etc.


Justice S.H. Kapadia: He has become the 38th Chief Justice of India.
D.M. Jayaratne: He has been appointed Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.
Mukul M. Sangma: He has been appointed as the Chief Minister of Meghalaya.
Gen V.K. Singh: He has taken over as the Chief of Army Staff, Indian Army.
Chirayu Amin: He has been appointed as the interim chairman of Indian Premier
League (IPL) by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

RESIGNED
D.D. Lapang: Chief Minister of Meghalaya.
Shashi Tharor: Minister of State for External Affairs in the Union Cabinet.

DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
Admiral Dary Roughead: Chief of the US Navy.

DIED
Lech Kaczynski: President of Poland.
Prabha Rau: Governor of Rajasthan.
C. K. Prahalad: Globally known influential management thinker.

MILESTONES
Manasvi Magmai: Delhi girl, she has been crowned Femina Miss India World.
Nicole Faria from Bangalore has won the Miss India Earth title and Neha Hinge has
won Miss India International title.
Prasun Chatterjee: An Indian environmental engineering student whose research
has contributed to a new way of detecting toxic lead and copper in water, has won
one of the highest US research honours. Chatterjee, a research student at the
University of Lehigh, Pennsylvania, received the 2010 C. Ellen Gonter Environmental
Chemistry Award from the American Chemical Society's (ACS) Environmental
Chemistry Division.

EVENTS
APRIL
1—The exercise to conduct the 15th Census of India begins.
6—Seventy three security personnel are killed in the deadliest Naxal strike in the
restive Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh.
6—Prime Minister Gordan Brown of UK announces General Elections on May 6; the
Parliament is dissolved.
7—Thailand’s embattled Prime Minister declares a state of emergency in Bangkok
after protesters storm Parliament in a dramatic escalation of their bid to topple the
government.
10—Polish President Lech Kacznski and his wife are among 97 people killed in air
crash in western Russia.
14—More than 400 people die as a magnitude 7.1 earthquake hits China’s Qinghai
province on the Tibetan plateau.
15—After 18 years of research and testing, the Indian Space Research
Organisation’s (ISRO) first attempt to put a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch
Vehicle (GSLV) powered by an indigenous cryogenic engine ends in failure.
19—The Supreme Court upholds the conviction and life sentence to Manu Sharma
for the 1999 murder of model Jessica Lall.

CURRENT EVENTS MARCH 2010

March 2010

APPOINTED; ELECTED Etc.

Sonia Gandhi: UPA chairperson and Congress President, she has been appointed
as the head of National Advisory Council (NAC), four years after quitting the post
over an office-of-profit controversy. She will hold the rank and status of a Cabinet
Minister.
S. Ramadorai: He has been appointed as the Chairman of Bombay Stock Exchange
(BSE).

DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
Vladmir Putin: Prime Minister of Russia.
Stephen Smith: Foreign Minister of Australia.
General Mohammad Abdul Mubeen: Army chief of Bangladesh.
Nelson Jobin: Defence Minister of Brazil.

DIED
Girija Prasad Koirala: Five-time Prime Minister of Nepal and architect of the
landmark peace deal with the Maoists that ended a decade-long insurgency in
Nepal.
G.P. Birla: Noted industrialist and second most eldest member of the Birla clan. He
was 86.

MILESTONES
Capt Tejdeep Singh Rattan: A 31-year-old Dentist, he has become the first Sikh
in over 25 years to be allowed to complete US Army officer basic training without
giving up his turban or shaving his full beard.

EVENTS
MARCH
7—Explosions rock Iraq as the country votes to elect a new government, leading to
36 people getting killed.
29—Two female suicide bombers blow themselves up on two packed metro trains,
near iconic Gorky Park in Moscow, killing more than 40 people.
CURRENT EVENTS FEBRUARY 2010

February 2010
APPOINTED; ELECTED; Etc.

S.C. Sinha: Haryana cadre IPS officer, he has been appointed as the Director General of the National
Investigation Agency (NIA).

Salil Shetty: He has been appointed as the Secretary-General of Amnesty International. He is the first
Indian to be appointed to the job and will succeed Irene Khan in June 2010.

RESIGNED

Shyam Saran: Prime Minister’s special envoy on climate change.

DISTINGUISHED VISITORS

Abdullah Gul: President of Turkey.

Horst Koehler: President of Germany.

Salman Bashir: Foreign Secretary of Pakistan.

DIED

Fred Morrison: Inventor of the Frisbee, a flying-saucer shaped toy. He was 90.

Nanaji Deshmukh: One of the founder members of Bhartiya Jan Sangh, social worker and former
member of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sbha. He was 93.

Kakkadah Nandanath Raj: Leading economist of India who made a significant contribution in
preparation of India’s first five-year Plan (1951-56). He was 85.

Nirmal Pandey: Hindi films actor. He was 46. A graduate rom National School of Drama, he is best
known for his roles in “Bandit Queen”, “Iss raat kee subha nahin” and “Pyar Kiya to darna kya”.

Tahir Hussain: Well-known Hindi film-maker and father of film star Amir Khan. He is known for
producing hits like “Hum hain rahi pyar ke”, “Zakhmee”, “Anamika” and “Caravan”.

MILESTONES

Sanjiv Mehta: He is the new owner of East India Company, the world’s first multinational whose forces
once ruled much of the globe, including India.
EVENTS

FEBRUARY 2010
5—Twin blasts in Karachi claim 25 lives. Terrorists target a Shia religious procession and a hospital.

7—India successfully test-fires its indigenous, nuclear-capable Agni-III missile, with a range of over
3,000 km.

13—More than 11 people are killed in a high-intensity bomb explosion at the German bakery at
Koregaon Park, Pune. This is the first major terror strike in India after 26/11 strikes in Mumbai.

15—Maoists kill 24 jawans during s daring attack at a police camp at Simplipal in the West Midnapore
district of West Bengal.

18—Naxals gun down 11 persons in a village under Jamui district of Bihar.

21—Taliban behead a Sikh in Pakistan for refusing to pay ‘jazia’ (money to protect a non-Muslim
community).

24—Railways Budget is presented in the Lok Sabha by Union Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee.

24—Sachin Tendulkar becomes the first cricketer in the world to hit a double century in One-Day
format (in ODI against South Africa, played in Gwalior).

26—Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee presents his fifth Union Budget in the Lok Sabha.

26—Nine Indians are among 18 people killed in a series of attacks by militants in central Kabul,
Afghanistan.

27—Earthquake measuring 8.8 on Richter scale hits areas around Santiago, Chile, killing more than 500
people and destroying property worth billions of dollars.

27—Prime Minister Manmohan Singh becomes the first Prime Minister in 28 years to visit Saudi Arabia.

CURRENT EVENTS 2010

January 2010
APPOINTED; ELECTED; Etc.

Mahinda Rajapaksa: He has been re-elected as the President of Sri Lanka,

E.S.L. Narasimhan: He has been appointed as the Governor of Andhra Pradesh.

Shivraj Patil: He has been appointed as the Governor of Punjab and Chief Administrator of Union
Territory of Chandigarh.
M.K. Narayanan: He has been appointed as the Governor of West Bengal.

Prabha Rau: She has been appointed as the Governor of Rajasthan.

Sekhar Dutt: He has been appointed as the Governor of Chattisgarh.

M.O.H. Farooq: He has been appointed as the Governor of Jharkhand.

K. Sankaranarayanan: He has been appointed as the Governor of Maharashtra.

Urmila Singh: She has been appointed as the Governor of Himachal Pradesh.

Gen Vijay Kumar Singh: He has been appointed as the Chief of Army Staff, Indian Army.

Shiv Shankar Menon: He has been appointed as the National Security Advisor.

S. Sundareshan: He has been appointed as the Petroleum Secretary in the Union government.

Vikram Srivastava: He has been appointed as the Director-General of Central Reserve Police Force
(CRPF).

Raman Srivastava: He has taken over as the Chief of Border Security Force (BSF).

Ranjeet Kumar Bhatia: He has taken over as the Chief of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

Mrinal Pandey: She has been appointed as the Chairperson of Prasar Bharti.

DISTINGUISHED VISITORS

Lee Myung-bak: President of South Korea. He was the Chief Guest on occasion of the Republic Day
2010.

Sheikh Hasina: Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

Uzi Arad: National Security Adviser of Israel.

Vice-Admiral Elizer Marom: Commander-in Chief of Israeli Navy.

Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak: Prime Minister of Malaysia.

DIED

Jyoti Basu: CPM patriarch and former Chief Minister of West Bengal. He was 95.

Billy Arjan Singh: Pioneering wildlife activist and author. He was 94.
Erich Segal: Author of the tear-jerking novel Love Story and screenwriter of the Oscar-winning film
version. He was 72.

MILESTONES

Asma Parween: Her story features on the 2010 UN Population Fund calendar. A native of an obscure
village, Sakri Saraiya in Bihar’s Muzzafarpur district, this 19 year-old girl defied her orthodox father to
join an education-cum-vocational centre in her village. Today she is a history honours student as also a
karate trainer.

EVENTS

JANUARY 2010
1—India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (FTA) comes into effect with Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand
implementing it with immediate effect.

1—A suicide bomber blows up a car packed with explosives killing 70 people during a volleyball game in
a village in north-west Pakistan.

4—Blazing fireworks and dazzling lights mark the opening of the world's tallest tower, Burj Khalifa
(formerly known as Burj Dubai).

14—The first holy bath of century’s and Uttarkhand’s first Maha Kumbh starts at Haridwar.

15—Century’s longest annular solar eclipse takes place.

18—Taliban attack heart of Kabul by targeting key government buildings.

13—More than three lakh people are killed as an earthquake with 7.0 magnitude hits Port-au-Prince,
capital of Haiti.

25—Ninety persons die in Ethiopian airlines crash into Mediterranean sea, shortly after take-off from
Beirut.

26—Sri Lanka goes to polls to elect new President.

27—Bangladesh hangs five ex-Army officers convicted for assassinating country’s founder Sheikh
Mujibur Rahman, almost three decades after he was killed in a military coup.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS - MAY 2010


INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS - MAY 2010
Hung House in Britain after 36 years
On May 7, 2010, Britain woke up to a hung Parliament, an election outcome that
this country last experienced in 1974 when the then Prime Minister Edward Heath
tried and failed to persuade the Liberal Party to join him in a coalition.

The Conservatives under David Cameron emerged as the single largest party with
306 seats in the 650-member House of Commons, while Labour bagged 258 and Lib
Dems 57.

Eight NRIs won elections, four each from the Labour Party and the Conservatives.
Likewise four Pakistani-origin MPs, Sadik Khan, Khalid Mahmood, Anas Sarwar and a
woman lawyer Shabana Mahmood, were successful on behalf of the Labour Party.

The LibDems play an extremely important role in the formation of the next
government, although they have not been able to attract as many votes as they
hoped for. They were expecting to win more than 100 seats, but they had to be
satisfied with less than 60. However, despite the poor show, they still hold the
trump card and are destined to play the role of king-makers.

On May 11, Conservative leader David Cameron (43), who favours a ‘new special
relationship’ with India, took charge as Britain’s youngest Prime Minister in nearly
200 years, heading a coalition with the support of centrist LibDems, and vowed to
put aside party differences and provide a strong and decisive government. He made
Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg Deputy Prime Minister.

EU steps to halt economic crisis


On May 10, 2010, European policy makers unveiled an unprecedented loan package
worth almost $1 trillion and a program of bond purchases to stop a sovereign-debt
crisis that threatened to shatter confidence in the euro. Following the
announcement, stocks surged around the world, the Euro strengthened and
commodities rallied.

The 16 Euro nations agreed in a statement to offer as much as 750 billion Euro
($962 billion), including International Monetary Fund backing, to countries facing
instability and the European Central Bank said it will buy government and private
debt. The rescue package for Europe’s sovereign debtors came little more than a
year after the waning of the last crisis, caused by the US mortgage-market collapse,
which wreaked $1.8 trillion of global credit losses and write-downs. Under US and
Asian pressure to stabilise markets, Europe’s governments bet their show of force
would prevent a sovereign-debt collapse and muffled speculation the 11-year-old
Euro might break apart.

The new war chest would be used for countries like Portugal or Spain in case their
finances buckle. Deficits are set to reach 8.5 percent of gross domestic product in
Portugal and 9.8 percent in Spain in 2010, above the Euro region’s 3 percent limit.
Both countries pledged “significant” additional budget cuts in 2010 and 2011.

The vow to push budget shortfalls below the Euro's 3 percent limit echoes promises
that have been regularly broken ever since governments in 1999 set a three-year
deadline for achieving balanced budgets. The Euro region’s overall deficit is forecast
at 6.6 percent of gross domestic product in 2010 and 6.1 percent in 2011.

Britain, the EU’s third-largest economy, won’t contribute to a Euro rescue fund,
though it backs efforts to restore stability.

Now Spain struggles


Spain’s socialist government is seeing its political power erode as it struggles to
chart a path out of deep financial trouble, failing so far to satisfy conflicting
demands to cut its budget and stimulate job creation.

The coming months could bring far more problems as Prime Minister Jose Luis
Rodriguez Zapatero reforms the country’s labour market, risking national strikes
and the loss of support from trade unions, a core source of his centre-left party’s
strength.

Zapatero’s minority government is already running into serious trouble, although


there appears to be no immediate threat of it falling.

A package of austerity measures was passed by only one vote in the Parliament’s
lower chamber on May 27, 2010. Opposition parties have called for new elections.

The austerity package aims to cut spending by Euro 15 billion ($18.4 billion) over
two years by freezing pensions and cutting civil servants’ wages.

But investors and lenders such as the International Monetary Fund are demanding
that Spain reform its labour market, overhauling hiring and firing rules and moving
to find jobs for the long-term unemployed and the young.

Europe’s top job creator only two years ago, Spain now has the highest
unemployment rate—just over 20 per cent—of the 16 nations that share the Euro
currency.

The resulting austerity package, nicknamed the “scissors action” by Spanish media,
was welcomed by the European Union and the IMF, which said Spain’s “ambitious
fiscal consolidation is under way to reach the three percent GDP deficit target by
2013”.
US asks Pak, China to follow NSG rule
The US administration has said that civil nuclear cooperation between Pakistan and
China must be in compliance with rules of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) if
China proceeds with plans to set up two new nuclear reactors in Pakistan.

China’s decision to sell nuclear reactors to Pakistan, which has not signed the
nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is proving to be a litmus test for President Barack
Obama, who has championed the cause of curbing the spread of nuclear
technology.

China has helped Pakistan set up nuclear reactors since 1991 when China National
Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) entered into a contract with the Pakistan Atomic Energy
Commission (PAEC) to build Chashma-1, a 325 MW nuclear power reactor. When it
joined the NSG in 2004, China cited a Sino-Pakistan framework agreement that
committed it to set up a second reactor, Chashma-2, for Pakistan.

CNNC and PAEC have also worked out a deal to set up two separate 650 MW
reactors—Chashma-3 and Chashma-4.

Analysts say the Obama administration is reluctant to press China on the matter in
case Beijing responds by dropping its tentative support for sanctions on Iran.

NSG rules prohibit the sale of sensitive nuclear technology and materials to nations
that have not joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and do not allow
international monitoring of their nuclear activities.

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, says the
agreement between China and Pakistan is “deeply troubling because we have China
engaging in civil nuclear trade with a country that does not meet the requirements
of the NSG for such trade.” He said the Obama administration should insist at the
NSG that the Chashma -3 and -4 projects be discussed and it be determined that
they not be permitted.

Iran ready for nuke fuel swap


It’s being regarded as a major diplomatic coup that could spell the beginning of the
end of the isolation of Iran from world affairs. On the sidelines of the G-15 summit in
May 2010, Iran dramatically announced that it has arrived with Brazil and Turkey a
deal that could possibly break the nuclear stalemate, stave off sanctions being
contemplated by the UN and the US against Iran and bring the contentious issue
back to the negotiating table.

Under the agreement Tehran will ship 1,200 kg of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to
Turkey in exchange for fuel for a research reactor. Turkey will keep Iran’s LEU and
the IAEA and Iran can monitor the fuel.
Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regime (NPT) which had
enabled it to received nuclear technology for civilian use from other NPT
signatories, including the US in return for committing that it would not be diverted
or misused for military purposes. In 2002, Iran was discovered to have clandestinely
set up a uranium enrichment plant and a heavy water unit without informing the
IAEA. Since then major powers led by the US have got the UN to impose severe
sanctions and refuses to lift them till Tehran's comes clean and puts an end to all
clandestine use.

Apart from curbs on banking and trade, heavy sanctions had been imposed on some
key public sector enterprises of Iran and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Council,
the striking arm of the current regime.

Currently Iran is estimated to have 1,500 kg of 3.5 per cent (low) enriched uranium.
For running research reactors like the Tehran facility for medical purposes, the
uranium needs to be medium enriched to 20 per cent. According to a deal, Iran
would swap 1,200 kg of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium in exchange for 120
kg of medium-enriched uranium that is to be supplied by the Vienna Group.

For making weapons grade material, uranium has to be enriched to at least 90 per
cent. At least 300 kg of this highly enriched uranium is needed to develop an atom
bomb. By keeping Iran’s low enriched uranium stockpiles to around 3,000 kg, the
world hopes that it would prevent it from crossing the threshold of nuclear material
needed to make a bomb.

Reacting to the Iran’s deal with Brazil and Turkey, the US pointed out that Tehran’s
decision to continue with some enrichment of nuclear fuel is a direct violation of UN
Security Council and that the details of the agreement must be conveyed to the
International Atomic Energy Agency before it can be considered by the international
community.

UK responded by saying that Iran’s actions remain a serious cause for concern.
“There is a need for a continued effort to impose sanctions.”

EU responded by saying that “this is a right direction but it does not answer all the
concerns raised over Iran’s nuclear programme.

Tension between Koreas escalates


On May 24, 2010, South Korea announced steps to tighten the vice on the North’s
already stumbling economy in punishment for sinking one of its navy ships, with
both sides stepping up their war-like rhetoric.

The United States, which backs Seoul, warned that the situation was “highly
precarious”. China, the North’s only major ally, urged calm. The mounting tension
followed report by international investigators accusing the North of torpedoing the
Cheonan corvette in March 2010, killing 46 sailors in one of the deadliest clashes
between the two since the 1950-53 Korean War.

The United States, which has 28,000 troops on the peninsula, threw its full support
behind South Korea and said it was working hard to stop the situation from
escalating.

Few analysts believe either Korea would dare go to war. The North’s military is no
match for the technically superior South Korean and US forces. And for the South,
conflict would put investors to flight.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS - MAY 2010


NATIONAL AFFAIRS - MAY 2010

RBI measures to boost liquidity


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced special measures to provide
liquidity in the system, which may face a cash crunch because of huge outgo on
third generation (3G) telecom spectrum licences and payment of advance tax by
companies.

On May 27, 2010, RBI allowed banks to avail of additional support under the
liquidity adjustment facility (LAF). Till July 2, banks have been permitted to avail of
support of up to 0.5 per cent of their net demand and time liabilities, which will
provide an additional liquidity support of over Rs 20,000 crore.

In addition, RBI said that as an ad hoc measure, banks can seek a waiver for any
shortfall in maintenance of the prescribed 25 per cent statutory liquidity ratio (SLR)
while availing the temporary facility.

Decks cleared for first Defence University


More than 40 years after it was mooted, the Union Cabinet, on May 13, 2010, gave
its approval to set up the nation’s first defence university at Binola, around 20 km
from Gurgaon. It would aim at imparting education on strategic challenges to armed
forces officials, bureaucrats, academicians, parliamentarians and trainees at
military academies.

To be established at an estimated Rs 300 crore, the institute would come up on an


area of about 200 acres. A sum of Rs 100 crore has been earmarked for land
acquisition. The existing defence educational institutions like the National Defence
College, New Delhi, College of Defence Management, Secunderabad, National Staff
College, Wellington, and National Defence Academy, Pune, would also be affiliated
to the INDU. At present, these institutions are attached to various universities
across the country.

The proposed university, which would be fully autonomous and constituted under an
Act of Parliament, would promote policy-oriented research on all aspects of national
security as part of the strategic national policy-making. The university was first
mooted in 1967 and the matter was accorded all seriousness after the 1999 Kargil
conflict.

The government had set up a Kargil Review Committee, headed by strategic expert
K. Subrahmanyam, which had recommended establishment of such a university to
exclusively deal with defence and strategic matters. It will encourage awareness of
national security issues by reaching out to scholars and an audience beyond the
official machinery.

No law practice without clearing exam


From September 2010, law graduates will have to clear an entry-level exam to be
eligible for legal practice. In a widely anticipated move, the Bar Council of India—the
regulator for the legal profession—has decided to implement its decision of making
aspiring lawyers walk the extra mile.

Till now, a law degree from a recognised university or a law institute was the sole
eligibility criterion for getting registered as a lawyer.

Emissions up, but way lower than US, China


Driven by higher industrial growth, energy production and transport, an
environment ministry report says the annual GHG (greenhouse gas) emission of
India increased by around 58 per cent from 1994 to 2007, but per capita emissions
were still much less than those of US or China. Greenhouse gas emissions per unit
of the GDP, however, declined by more than 30 per cent during 1994 and 2007,
says the country’s updated emission inventory “India: Greenhouse Gas Emissions
2007”.

The country’s net GHG emissions in 2007 were 1.9 billion tonnes compared to 1.2
billion tonnes in 1994. However against 1.5 tonnes of CO2 per capita in 1994, the
per capita GHG emission was estimated to be 1.7 tonnes of CO2 in 2007.

Even though India is ranked fifth in aggregate GHG emissions after US, China, the
European Union and Russia in its contribution to global warming, emissions of US
and China are almost four times that of India.

China and the US are the world's top emitters of greenhouse gases and
disagreement between the two on slashing their carbon dioxide output was a major
cause of the failure of the UN-sponsored climate change talks in 2009. At the
Copenhagen Summit, India announced its intent to further reduce the emission
intensity of the GDP by 20-25 per cent between 2005 and 2020 even as it pursues
the path of inclusive growth.

No lie detector tests: SC


In a verdict expected to weaken cases against terrorists, other dreaded criminals
and high-profile offenders, the Supreme Court has cited “mental privacy” to rule
that police and other prosecuting agencies cannot forcibly conduct lie detector tests
—narco-analysis, polygraph or brain electrical activation profile (BEAP, popularly
known as brain mapping)—on accused, suspects or witnesses.

“Compulsory administration of any of these techniques is an unjustified intrusion


into the mental privacy of an individual. It would also amount to cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment with regard to the language of evolving international human
rights norms,” a Bench comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, R.V. Raveendran
and J.M. Panchal held.

Further, placing reliance on the results gathered from these techniques would come
into conflict with the right to fair trial. “Invocations of a compelling public interest
cannot justify the dilution of constitutional rights such as the right against self-
incrimination” guaranteed under Article 20(3) of the Constitution, the Bench said in
the 251-page verdict.

The apex court also observed that the scientific validity of the techniques “has been
questioned and it is argued that their results are not entirely reliable…empirical
studies suggest that the drug-induced revelations need not necessarily be true”.

The Bench said that before arriving at the conclusion it also assessed the “tensions
between the desirability of efficient investigation and the preservation of individual
liberties” and the reasoning that these techniques “are a softer alternative to the
regrettable and allegedly widespread use of third degree methods by
investigators”.

At the end, the apex court made it clear that the eight-point guidelines issued by
the National Human Rights Commission in 2000 for conducting narco-analysis tests
should be strictly adhered to. Among the guidelines were: No lie detector tests
should be administered except on the basis of consent of the accused. If the
accused volunteers for a lie detector test, he should be given access to a lawyer
and the physical, emotional and legal implication of such a test should be explained
to him by the police and his lawyer. The consent should be recorded before a
judicial magistrate.

OECD warns inflation will remain high


The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has argued
that the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) process of raising policy interest rates is
“still very low by historical standards”.

In a global economic outlook report, the Paris-based grouping warned: “With


inflation remaining elevated and the recovery appearing to have taken root, there is
a risk that price increases for inputs will flow through to second-round increases and
that inflationary expectations will become destabilised. To mitigate this risk,
sizeable further monetary tightening will be required through 2010 and into 2011.”

OECD projected the inflation rate to be 7.7 per cent in 2010 and 6.1 per cent in
2011. It expected the consumer price index rise to be at 10.2 per cent in 2010 and
still hovering at 6.3 per cent in 2011. The trade deficit has been projected at $80
billion (imports of $405 billion) in 2010 and going up to $101 billion (imports of $478
billion up 13.1 per cent from 2010) in 2011 and real GDP growth in 2010 at 8.3 per
cent and at 8.5 per cent in 2011.

OECD Chief Economist Pier Carlo Padoan said: “The outlook for inflation remains the
main downside risk, especially if monsoonal rainfall is again deficient. In that case,
food inflation would likely begin to risk anew. More generally, the strong state of
domestic demand could lead to persistently higher inflation and an upward drift in
inflationary expectations.”

Adding the context of anticipated deficit reduction being underpinned on “expected


revenue growth, asset sales and some more modest tax measures”, Padoan added
“the expected rebound in agricultural activity should help limit further increase in
food prices, which have been a major contributor to high inflation. However,
underlying inflationary pressures are likely to persist given the strong outlook for
demand. Timely policy action to limit the scope for second-round price increases is,
therefore, required. Monetary policy normalisation is also important in the light of
relatively modest fiscal consolidation”.

National Water Mission gets Cabinet nod


The Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change has approved the National Water
Mission, focusing on making water conservation a peoples' movement in the
country.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who chaired the meeting of the Council,
highlighted the need to create a general consciousness of the need to use water in
the most sustainable manner in view of its scarcity and assess the impact of climate
change on water.

The Council felt that to make the Mission a peoples' movement it was essential to
make available all data on water in the public domain, to be able to mobilise
citizens, local bodies and State governments for focused action on water
conservation and augmentation.

Members felt incentives should be provided for using water in a sustainable manner
and that the Research and Development requirements of the mission should be
focused upon.

Water Mission is one of the eight missions in the National Action Plan on Climate
Change launched by the Prime Minister in 2009 to tackle the threats of global
warming.

The government has already launched Energy Efficient and Solar Mission while a
draft of Green Mission has been prepared for public consultation.

Economic growth better than expected


The Indian economy roared past estimates to post a whopping growth rate of 8.6%
in the January-March quarter of 2010. The quarter's strong showing also helped
India end the fiscal year with 7.4% growth, beating the earlier estimate of 7.2%.
Manufacturing led the way, with a whopping 16.3% growth in the quarter and 10.8%
overall, while even agriculture, which was expected to decline, ended with marginal
growth of 0.2% year-on-year after growing 0.7% in Q4.

The GDP growth rate had slowed to 6.7% in 2008-09 following the global economic
crisis, after topping 9% in the previous three years.

The first quarter growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) is better than
expected. In February, the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) had estimated that
the Indian economy would grow at 7.2% in 2009-10, with growth of 7.7% in the
fourth quarter. But the unexpectedly strong performance in the fourth quarter
helped boost the final figure to 7.4%.

The fourth-quarter showing is particularly commendable in the light of a sudden dip


in the third quarter to 6.5% from 8.6% in the second quarter due to the impact of a
drought-like situation in the country.

China is the only large economy with a higher growth rate at 11.9% in the January-
March quarter. The rest of the world is witnessing a fragile recovery, which is now
under threat due to the brewing Euro-zone crisis. The sixteen developed countries
in the Euro-zone expanded by just 0.2% in the quarter. At the same time, the
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)—a grouping of
mostly developed countries including Europe that account for over 60% of the
global economy—grew at only 0.7% in the quarter, against 0.9% in the previous
quarter. US and Japan grew at 0.8% and 1.2%, respectively.

The 7.4% growth in 2009-10 also showed that stimulus provided by government
yielded results.

Visit of President Patil to China


Indian President Pratibha Patil visited Beijing from May 27, 2010. She is the first
Indian Head of State to visit China in a decade. She had been invited by her Chinese
counterpart Hu Jintao and her trip coincided with the 60th anniversary of the
establishment of diplomatic relations between India and China.

During her visit, Patil inaugurated China’s first Indian-style Buddhist temple in
Luoyang city in Henan province.

Skirting contentious issues, she held discussions with the top Chinese leadership.
Controversial issues such as Chinese border incursions, stapled visas for Kashmiris,
Indian visas for Chinese telecom companies and Sino-Pak ties did not figure in the
discussions. Patil sought Chinese support for New Delhi's permanent membership of
the UNSC during talks. The Chinese leaders supported India's aspirations for UNSC
permanent seat and assured the Indian leader that Beijing would back India’s bid in
2011’s election for a non-permanent membership of the UNSC.

Rs 67,000 crore 3-G bonanza for government


The bidding frenzy for third generation (3-G) spectrum came to an end on May 19,
2010, with leading operators Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications and Aircel
winning licences for 13 circles each. This was the 34th day of the auction and it saw
the price of a pan-India, or nationwide, licence touching Rs 16,828 crore, nearly five
times its base price. No single operator could garner enough cash to win bids for all
the 22 circles that went under the hammer.

The government emerged as the biggest winner. The sale of wireless airwaves
would make it richer by at least Rs 67,719 crore, the double of what it had targeted
in the Union Budget 2010 and about 1 per cent of the country’s gross domestic
product.

The proceeds from the sale of 3G and BWA spectrum will together help the
government plug its fiscal deficit, projected at 5.5 per cent of GDP in the Budget.
The winning operators said if the government allots them spectrum as promised, by
September 1, they will be able to roll out 3G services in four to six months.

Seventy per cent of the revenue for spectrum comes from only six circles, while
locations such as West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir
saw licences being awarded at virtually the base price. The surprise package was
Bihar where the bids closed at Rs 203.46 crore, seven times its base price.

Ajmal Kasab convicted of 26/11 attacks


On May 3, 2010, a Mumbai court found 22-year-old Pakistani national, Mohammad
Ajmal Kasab, guilty of mass murder and waging war against India, while acquitting
two other accused, Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed for want of evidence, in
the November 26, 2008 attacks on the city. Kasab is the lone surviving gunman
from the attacks that killed 166 people. He has been given the death sentence.

“It was not a simple act of murder. It was war,” judge M.L. Tahiliyani said in a
summary of the 1,522 page judgement. “This type of preparation is not made by
ordinary criminals. This type of preparation is made by those waging war.”

The court also held 20 other accused, including Lashkar-e-Tayiba founder Hafiz
Saeed, its operations chief Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Abu Hamza, guilty of
conspiracy.

Pakistan withdraws objection to J-K power projects


In a significant development, Pakistan, on May 30, 2010, withdrew its objection to
construction of Uri-II and Chutak hydel power projects in Jammu and Kashmir. At the
Indus Water Commissioner-level talks in New Delhi, the Pakistani side said it had no
objection to the designs of the two power projects after the Indian side provided
details of these.

Pakistan had earlier raised objections over the 240 MW Uri-II project being
constructed on Jhelum river in Kashmir valley and the 44 MW Chutak plant being
built on Suru, a tributary of Indus river in Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir's
Ladakh province. Pakistan had claimed that the projects would deprive it of its share
of water.

India scores poorly among the middle-income countries when it comes to health
care and well-being of mothers. The country is ranked 73 in the list of 77 nations
rated for the “best place to be a mother”, according to a report by child rights
organisation Save the Children. What is more shocking in the “State of the World's
Mothers 2010” report is that India is rated much lower than a host of conflict-ridden
African countries like Kenya and Congo. China is at 18th place, Sri Lanka at 40,
while Pakistan lags behind India at 75th place. Bangladesh, featured in the list of 40
least developed countries, is ranked 14. The report analysed a total of 166
countries, among which Sweden is placed at the top while Afghanistan is at the
bottom.

A depository receipt is a type of negotiable financial security that is traded on a


local stock exchange but represents a security, usually in the form of equity that is
issued by a foreign publically listed company.

A survey of slums in cities and towns with a population of over one lakh as per
the 2001 Census, says there are 189 cities and towns in India with big slums.
Andhra tops the list—it has 36 cities and towns with a slum population of 50,000
and above. It is followed by Maharashtra with 26, Uttar Pradesh (25), West Bengal
(21) and Madhya Pradesh (15). Other States with a sizable slum population in its
cities are Haryana (8), Chhattisgarh (6) and Gujarat and Rajasthan (5 each). Goa
and Kerala and north-eastern States, barring Meghalaya, are the only States where
slums are non-existent.
The Centre has launched two programmes to improve the living conditions of slum-
dwellers across the country. Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission
(JNNURM) provides funds to States for creating housing and infrastructural facilities
for the urban poor in 65 cities, including Mumbai, under the Basic Services to Urban
Poor Programme (BSUP). For the remaining 124 towns, the Integrated Housing and
Slum development Programme (IHSDP) has been introduced. The components for
assistance include provision of basic services to the slum dwellers, whom the
government prefers to call urban poor.

The world's first gold vending machine has been set-up in a hotel in Abu Dhabi in
the UAE. The 'Gold To Go' machine gives out 1, 5 and 10 gram gold bars as well as
gold coins.

Spectrum is radio frequencies used to transmit voice, video and data. 2-G and 3-G
are second generation and third generation spectrum, respectively. The fourth
generation is being tested. 3-G facilitates high-end use and faster transmission of
video images and data etc. 2-G spectrum is used only for voice transmission.

National Technology Day is observed on May 8.

In a rating of 423 cities, done by the Union Urban Development Ministry—to


check their access to proper sanitation facilities, how the solid waste is managed
and quality of drinking water—Chandigarh has been ranked on the top of the list,
followed by Mysore, Surat, New Delhi, Tiruchirrapalli and Jamshedpur. Charu
(Rajasthan), Lakhimpur (UP), Pilibhit (UP) and Srinagar (J&K) were listed among the
bottom ten. The survey found 190 cities on the brink of public health and
environmental emergency.

Vienna has retained its ranking as the place offering the best quality of living in
the world in an annual survey which was dominated by European cities. The survey,
by management consultancy Mercer, said Western European cities had fared well
despite the global economic downturn, with Zurich coming in second place, followed
by Geneva in third position. In Asia, Singapore remains the highest-ranking city at
28, followed by Japanese cities Tokyo (40), Kobe and Yokohama (both at 41), Osaka
(51) and Nagoya (57). Baghdad retained its position at the bottom of the list as the
place offering the worst quality of life. Bengaluru remains the best placed among
Indian cities in the global list at 140th rank. New Delhi climbed to 143 rank from
145th slot in 2009. Mumbai moved up four places to 144th rank.
Sahara India has won the sponsorship rights of Indian cricket team till 2013.

The 11th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards were held in Sri Lanka.

India observed May 21 as Anti-Terror Day to mark former Prime Minister Rajiv
Gandhi’s assassination on May 21, 1991.

The per capita income of India grew by 10,5 per cent to Rs 44,345 in 2009-10,
against Rs 40,141 in 2008-09. The per capita income (at 2004-05 prices) stood at Rs
33,588 in 2009-10, against Rs 31,821 a year ago. Per capita income means income
of each Indian if national income is evenly divided among the country’s population
of 117 crore. The size of the economy rose to Rs 62,31,171 crore in 2009-10, up
11.8 per cent over previous year.

The Reserve Bank of India has decided to increase the cash withdrawal limit for
ATMs to Rs one lakh in a single day.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS - APRIL 2010


INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS - APRIL 2010

Interim government formed by Opposition in Kyrgyzstan


Opposition alliance headed by former Foreign Minister Ms Roza Otunbayeva formed
an interim government in Kyrgyzstan on April 8, 2010, dissolving Parliament and
asked the toppled President Kurmanbek Bakiyev to quit as they shored up global
diplomatic support for the new regime.

Announcing that they would run the turbulent Central Asian nation for six months,
Ms Otunbayeva said the new alliance proposed to hold new elections within this
period.

In her first action, Ms Otunbayeva, designated the head of the interim government,
said that a US airbase outside the capital Bishkek, which is seen vital to the NATO
campaign in nearby Afghanistan would remain open despite the shift in power.

Historic Bill to clip powers of Pakistan’s President


On April 19, 2010, President Zardari signed into law sweeping constitutional reforms
relinquishing key powers designed to bolster parliamentary democracy weakened
by military rule. The 18th Amendment had earlier been cleared by Pakistan’s
Parliament and sent to him for his signature.

The amendment removes the head of State’s power to sack the Prime Minister and
dissolve Parliament. It also removes many of the sweeping powers amassed by
military dictators Pervez Musharraf and Zia-ul-Haq. The Bill also abolishes a clause
barring the election of a Prime Minister for more than two terms. This would allow
the Nawaz Sharif, who was toppled by Musharraf in 1999, to become Prime Minister
again.

The amendment effectively makes the President of Pakistan a titular head of State
who can only formally appoint heads of the armed forces, dissolve the National
Assembly and appoint Provincial Governors on the advice of the Prime Minister. The
law also takes away the President’s power to appoint and dismiss the heads of the
Election Commission and the Public Service Commission.

UPFA returns to power in Sri Lanka


President Mahinda Rajapaksa's UPFA impressively returned to power on April 9,
2010, bagging 117 of 225 seats in the first post-LTTE era Parliamentary polls in Sri
Lanka, with its closest rival UNF securing just 46 and detained ex-army chief Sarath
Fonseka's DNA failing to touch even a double digit mark.

In Sri Lanka, the general elections directly decide 196 seats while the remaining 29
members are chosen based on the percentage of votes secured by each party.

The UPFA, which campaigned to get a two-third majority in the House, fell short of
just six members to get the magic figure which is needed to bring about
constitutional changes that the President wants to put in place. These changes
include the scaling down of the executive powers vested with the President, as well
as a change in the country’s proportional representation (PR) system of elections.
The main opposition United National Party (UNP) saw much of its voter base eroded
in the poll, the first since the defeat of the Tamil Tigers, winning only 60 seats,
down from the 82 it had won in the 2004 general election.

A third party led by detained former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka won seven
seats, including one for the retired general, while the majority of the seats in the
north and east were won by the Tamil National Alliance.

Civil strife in Bangkok


Thailand has been sliding to anarchy for the last few months with the capital
Bangkok turning out to be a virtual battlefield. The current violence is the
culmination of a political strife that has been brewing ever since Prime Minister
Thaksin Shinawatra was overthrown in a military coup in September 2006.

The protests looked like they had ended when Democrat Party leader Abhisit
Vejjajiva became the Prime Minister in December 2008. But in March, the pro-
Thaksin group launched a new wave of protests to bring down the government.

The tension has escalated in recent months as the protesters laid siege to the
capital Bangkok. As security forces launched a crackdown, violence escalated,
leaving many dead.

Apart from the pro-Thaksin angle, the protests are also seen as an initiative to bring
in more participation for the common people—read rural mass—in government
formation.

In the December 2007 elections, held 18 months after the coup, Thaksin's vote
bank remained loyal, though he was in exile. His allies came to power but fell
following sustained protests by Yellow Shirts and unfavourable court rulings. In
March 2009, Thaksin's supporters in red shirts poured into the streets of Bangkok,
forming the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship.

Though it was mostly made of the rural poor, students and pro-democracy activists
joined them. Claiming that the judiciary was biased against Thaksin, they question
the legitimacy and credibility of the current government. What began as innocuous
sit-in protests outside government offices quickly turned violent when they stormed
the venue for ASEAN summit, forcing its cancellation.

The Yellow Shirts, called the Peoples' Alliance for Democracy, who are bitterly
opposed to Thaksin, were behind the street protests that led up to the military coup
of September 2006. They were also instrumental in forcing Thaksin's allies out of
power in 2008.

If the Red Shirts are mostly rural poor, the Yellow Shirts comprise royalists,
businessmen and the urban middle-class. They wear yellow because it is the Thai
King's colour. Media-baron Sondhi Limthongkul and General Chamlong Srimuang are
seen as the leaders of this outfit. In 2006, as the Yellow Shirts shut down the
capital, the army ousted Thaksin.

US, Russia ink pact to cut N-arsenal


On April 8, 2010, the United States and Russia signed a landmark strategic nuclear
disarmament treaty. Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev signed the
pact at a ceremony in the mediaeval Prague Castle after talks that covered nuclear
security, Iran's atomic programme and an uprising in the Central Asian State of
Kyrgyzstan, where both major powers have military bases.

The treaty will cut strategic nuclear arsenals deployed by the former Cold War foes
by 30 per cent within seven years, but leave each with enough to destroy the other.

Obama said the agreement had “ended the drift” in relations between Moscow and
Washington and sent a strong signal that the two powers that together possess 90
per cent of all atomic weapons were taking their disarmament obligations seriously.

Icelandic Volcano causes air travel mess in Europe


Europe saw air traffic chaos in April 2010 as a plume of ash from the Icelandic
volcano that erupted under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier, made northern Europe a no-
fly zone. An estimated 63,000 flights were cancelled, effecting more than five
million passengers who were trying to get in and out of major cities of Europe. The
eruption of the volcano caused the greatest air travel chaos since the Second World
War II.

Goldman Sachs, another US financial behemoth in trouble


Goldman Sachs, the most profitable securities firm in Wall Street history, released
more than 70 pages of email and other documents on April 25, 2010, ahead of a US
Senate sub-committee hearing on the firm’s actions throughout the mortgage
meltdown. The firm disputes the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC’s)
claim that Goldman Sachs misled investors in a 2007 collateralised debt obligation
(CDO) about the role played by hedge fund Paulson & Co, which bet the CDO would
collapse.

SEC has accused Goldman Sachs of “making materially misleading statements and
omissions” in connection with a synthetic collateralised debt obligation (CDO)—
Abacus—that the firm structured and marketed to investors.

Goldman Sachs is said to have created marketing material about Abacus and
invited its clients—investment managers of banks, insurance companies, pension
funds, etc—to invest in the CDO. It is said to have given an impression to the
investors that the residential mortgage-backed securities that made up the CDO
were hand-picked by ACA Management—then seen as a reputable fund manager,
looking after dozens of CDOs. Goldman clients invested in the CDO, believing these
loans were of good quality.

SEC claims Goldman deliberately hid from its clients John Paulson’s involvement,
which was a huge conflict of interest. Since Paulson was looking to short the sub-
prime market, he was most likely to have picked the worst possible bonds.

Within a year, 99 per cent of the assets within Abacus were downgraded. Paulson,
who was by this time betting against Abacus by buying $15 million worth of credit
default swaps (CDS) on Abacus, earned around $1 billion from the trade.

Bonn climate talks


Delegates to the first UN climate talks after Copenhagen met in April 2010 in Bonn
and agreed to intensify their negotiations on curbing greenhouse gases before
2010’s decisive ministerial conference in Cancun. As representatives of the 192
countries that are party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC), they had a messy task. In the end, the parties to the UNFCCC merely
“noted” the existence of the accord, as some were utterly opposed to it.
The aim of the negotiators was to pick up the broken pieces of the Danish meeting
and see what could be salvaged and turned into a proper global agreement at the
next UNFCCC conference, in Cancun, Mexico in December 2010.

The United States seems to be the only country that still sees the Copenhagen
accord as having a life of its own. Almost all the rest, including countries that have
“associated” themselves with the accord have insisted that the UNFCCC remains
the only agreed decision-making forum. Hence the discussions in Bonn revolved
around which bits of the accord could be brought into the UNFCCC and how.

The Bonn talks were mainly about procedures—for example, which texts to start
with, how many meetings to hold before Cancun, whether to mandate the chair to
prepare draft text, and so on—but there was also much informal stock-taking about
which pieces could be put together by Cancun.

While some countries continued to call for an all-or-nothing approach, most feel that
it is more realistic to aim for a number of less ambitious, partial agreements on
several elements. These include ways to transfer climate-friendly technologies and
funds for adaptation to climate change from rich to poorer countries, as well as a
deal that would compensate countries for keeping their forests intact.

This would mean delaying the more difficult decisions on ambitious targets for
countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and an overall legally binding
agreement to the conference in South Africa at the end of 2011 or beyond.

Over 110 nations back Copenhagen climate deal


More than 110 nations, including top greenhouse gas emitters led by China and the
United States, back the non-binding Copenhagen Accord for combating climate
change, according to a first formal UN list.

The list, of countries from Albania to Zambia, helped to end weeks of uncertainty
about support for the deal, agreed at an acrimonious summit in the Danish capital
in December 2009. The list was compiled by the UN Climate Change Secretariat.

The accord, falling short of a binding treaty sought by many nations, sets a goal of
limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius. But, it does not spell out what
each nation has to do.

It also promises almost $10 billion a year in aid for poor nations from 2010-12,
rising to at least $100 billion from 2020, to help them slow emissions growth and
cope with impacts such as floods, droughts and rising sea levels. Apart from China
and the United States, the list also includes top emitters such as the European
Union, Russia, India and Japan.
The accord was merely “noted” by the 194-nation summit after objections by a
handful of developing nations, including Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Sudan.
The United Nations then asked all countries to say if they wanted it to be listed.
Many big emerging economies were initially reluctant to sign up after the deal failed
to gain universal support, even though the original text was worked out by
President Barack Obama with leaders of China, India, Brazil and South Africa.

Nations not on the list include many Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries
nations such as Saudi Arabia, which fear a loss of oil revenues if the world shifts to
renewable energies, and some small island States which fear rising sea levels.

BASIC countries seek environment treaty by 2011


India, China, Brazil and South Africa, jointly called BASIC countries, have said that
the legally binding climate treaty on reduction of carbon emission should be
finalised latest by 2011 as the “world could not wait indefinitely”.

The third meeting of BASIC ministers concluded in Cape Town April 25, 2010.

The statement also said that the developing countries strongly support international
legally-binding agreements, as the lack of such agreements hurts developing
countries more than developed nations.

The ministers said that negotiations should follow a two-pronged approach. One
track is on long-term cooperative action to combat climate change. The other is for
developed countries to commit to what extent they will reduce their greenhouse
gas emissions after 2012, when the current commitment period of the Kyoto
Protocol runs out.

The next BASIC ministerial meeting will be held at the end of July 2010 in Brazil,
followed by one hosted by China at the end of October 2010.

International Conference on Nuclear Disarmament


Iran hosted an international conference on nuclear disarmament on April 17, 2010.
Delegates from more than 60 countries, including as many as 25 foreign ministers
or deputy foreign ministers, attended the conference, ignoring attempts by the
West to dissuade them from attending the meet.

The presence of so many countries came as a pleasant surprise to Iran itself. Iranian
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the response to the conference was
overwhelming. He said the conference would go a long way in achieving the goal of
nuclear disarmament and presenting to the international community the true nature
of his country’s nuclear programme.

Even as the US was making a strong pitch for further sanctions against Iran, China
and Russia, two permanent members of the UN Security Council, attended the
meet. India, another key global player, was also present at the conference, though
it was only represented by the Joint Secretary (Disarmament) in the External Affairs
Ministry.

Iran showcased the two-day event to demonstrate that its nuclear programme was
aimed at meeting its growing energy needs and that it has no military agenda.

Iran moots establishment of independent global group under the UN to plan nuclear
disarmament and suspension of membership of the US and others which from the
board of governors.

India opposes sanctions against Iran and feels that Tehran should enjoy all rights to
develop N-energy for peaceful purposes.

Plot to sell Uranium foiled by Georgia


Georgian security forces have foiled a criminal plot to sell weapons-grade uranium
in the black market, the country’s President told a gathering of world leaders on
April 13, 2010.

The revelation brought a sense of urgency to the Washington summit on nuclear


security, where Barack Obama called on the rest of the world “not simply to talk,
but to act” to destroy vulnerable stockpiles of nuclear material, or to safeguard
them against theft by terrorists.

Georgian sources said the highly-enriched uranium HEU was intercepted in a sting
operation carried out by the Tbilisi authorities in March 2010. They said the uranium
was more than 70 per cent enriched and appeared to have been pure enough to
use in a crude nuclear weapon.

The amount seized was small, but Georgian officials said the gang was offering the
HEU as a sample of a bigger quantity available for purchase.

“The Georgian ministry of interior has foiled eight attempts of illicit trafficking of
enriched uranium during the last 10 years, including several cases of weapons-
grade enrichment. Criminals associated with these attempts have been detained,”
the Georgian President said.

Visit of Chinese President to USA


Chinese President Hu Jintao, during his visit to USA in April 2010, told US President
Barack Obama that their two nations should defuse economic strains through
negotiations, but neither leader touched on the yuan dispute. Hu also covered the
Iran nuclear dispute and China’s demands over Tibet and Taiwan, two areas that
recently flared as sore-spots in US-China relations.
The potentially touchy issue of China’s currency, the yuan, did not appear in either
country’s public account of the chat. Domestic US political pressure has been
building on the Obama administration to label China a “currency manipulator”.

The relationship between Beijing and Washington has been dragged down in recent
months by disputes spanning China’s currency and internet controls, US arms sales
to the self-ruled island of Taiwan, and Obama’s meeting with exiled Tibetan spiritual
leader the Dalai Lama.

Both leaders agreed to work hard to ensure positive results at a second round of
their Strategic and Economic Dialogue in May.

The United States welcomed Hu’s decision to attend the nuclear security summit,
saying it would allow them to address a “shared interest in stopping nuclear
proliferation and protecting against nuclear terrorism”.

SAARC Summit, 16th


The 16th SAARC summit began at Thimpu, Bhutan, on April 28, 2010, with India’s
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and leaders of seven other member nations
pledging to combat extremism and terrorism, launch joint initiatives to deal with
climate change and boost intra-regional trade.

The Summit ended on April 29, 2010, with leaders adopting the ‘Thimphu
statement’ on climate change, signing an agreement on trade in services and
expressing their firm resolve to stamp out terrorism from the region. The next
summit would be held in the Maldives in 2011.

Facing criticism for the slow pace of development in the region, the SAARC leaders
reiterated their commitment to implement the South Asian Free Trade Agreement
(SAFTA) in letter and spirit to boost intra-regional economic cooperation for the
prosperity of their people. The closing ceremony of the summit was attended by
leaders from all the eight SAARC countries—India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal,
Afghanistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Representatives of nine observer
countries—Mauritius, South Korea, China, Japan, Iran, the US, the EU, Australia and
Myanmar—were also present.

The seven-page ‘Thimphu Silver Jubilee Declaration-Towards a Green and Happy


South Asia’’ emphasised the importance of reducing dependence on high-carbon
technologies for economic growth and hoped promotion of climate resilience will
promote both development and poverty eradication in a sustainable manner.

In line with India’s position, the SAARC countries underlined that global negotiations
on climate change should be guided by the principles of equity, and common but
differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities as enshrined in the UN
framework convention and conducted in an open, transparent and inclusive
manner. They also underscored the need to initiate the process to formulate a
common SAARC position for the Mexico conference on climate change in December.

The SAARC leaders agreed to establish an inter-governmental expert group to


develop clear policy directions for regional cooperation as envisaged in the SAARC
Plan of Action on Climate Change. The leaders directed the SAARC Secretary-
General to commission a study aimed at accreditation of SAARC with the Kyoto
Protocol’s Adaptation Fund as a regional entity for undertaking adaptation projects
in South Asia.

IBSA Summit
The 2nd India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Summit was held in Brasilia on April 15,
2010. Speaking at the Summit, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the grouping
of leading developing economies must speak against the protectionist policies,
“which are only short-sighted and self-defeating in the long run”. IBSA can
contribute to the shaping of the global agenda and highlighting the issues of
concern to developing countries, he added.

Underlining that the world must ensure that “we do not repeat the mistakes of the
past”, the Prime Minister said for the global economic recovery to be sustainable, it
must be anchored in the real economy.

He also underlined the need for the IBSA to coordinate its positions in the G-20 and
continue to pursue the early conclusion of the Doha round of trade negotiations
“because a fair and rule-based multilateral trading system is in our interest”.

Nuclear Security Summit


World leaders, including Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, attending the
Nuclear Security Summit in Washington D.C., on April 12, 2010, set a stiff four-year
target to secure all vulnerable nuclear material in the world to prevent terrorists
from laying their hands on any of them.

In a communiqué issued at the end of the summit, the leaders emphatically stated:
“Nuclear terrorism is one of the most challenging threats to international security”
and agreed that “strong nuclear security measures are the most effective means to
prevent terrorists, criminals or other unauthorised actors from acquiring nuclear
material.” Another summit would be held in 2012 in South Korea to review the
progress.

At a press conference after the summit, US President Barack Obama, under whose
initiative the summit was convened, acknowledged that the task was tough but had
to be done. Obama said: “This is an ambitious goal, and we are under no illusions
that it will be easy. But the urgency of the threat, and the catastrophic
consequences of even a single act of nuclear terrorism, demand an effort that is at
once bold and pragmatic. And this is a goal that can be achieved.”

Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said he was satisfied with the outcome of
the summit and that it had endorsed what India had been pressing for at various
international forms in the past several years.

The summit also recognised that even as nations fulfil their national responsibilities
these could not addressed by countries working in isolation. What was needed was
a sustained, effective programme of international cooperation. The leaders agreed
that at the international level the need was for compliance with existing key
conventions and initiatives.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS - APRIL 2010


NATIONAL AFFAIRS - APRIL 2010

RBI hikes key rates to tame inflation


On April 20, 2010, the Reserve Bank of India announced a 25 basis points increase
in repo and reverse repo rates as part of monetary tightening measures to rein in
inflation. The apex bank also announced a 25 basis points increase in the Cash
Reserve Ratio (CRR) for banks. Following the hikes, the CRR now stands at 6 per
cent while the repo and reverse repo rates stand at 5.25 per cent and 3.75 per cent,
respectively.

The RBI expected the hike in CRR to absorb Rs 12,500 crore from the banking
system. The apex bank said it was tightening liquidity in a bid to rein in inflation
which was hovering in double digits. The RBI, however, expected inflation to remain
at 5.5 per cent during FY 11 with the GDP growing at 8 per cent.

FDI on Tobacco banned


On April 8, 2010, the Union government notified the ban on Foreign Direct
Investment (FDI) in cigarette manufacturing. Manufacturing of cigars, cheroots,
cigarillos and cigarettes, of tobacco or of tobacco substitutes have been put under
the list of sectors where FDI is prohibited.

The government took the decision to enhance public accountability towards


proliferation of the anti-smoking regime in the country. The decision to ban FDI is
the latest in the government's long-standing drive against smoking. In 2008, the
government had banned smoking at public places and put a curb on tobacco
advertisements.

Earlier, 100 per cent FDI was permitted in cigarette manufacturing, but an industrial
licence was needed and the proposals required to be approved by the Foreign
Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).

New foreign investment policy document


The Union government has launched a new policy document consolidating the
plethora of rules and norms governing foreign investment in the country under one
comprehensive document. The move is aimed at making available all information
on FDI policy in one place.

It will lead to simplification of the policy; greater clarity of understanding of foreign


investment rules among foreign investors and sector regulators, as also
predictability of policy direction.

Having a single policy platform that would subsume the 178 press notes would also
ease the regulatory burden for government; it will be updated every six months.
This consolidated press note will be superseded by a press note to be issued on
September 30, 2010 to ensure that the framework document on FDI policy is kept
updated.

Chinese hackers crack India’s top defence secrets


The computer systems of scores of Indian embassies, military establishments and
corporate bodies, as well as the email account of the Dalai Lama, were hacked by a
Chinese cyber spy ring between September 2009 and April 2010.

Hundreds of documents, including classified files, were stolen, says a Canadian


cyber-security team that monitored the ring—the Shadow Network—for eight
months.

The Shadow Network focussed on India, especially its military. The Canadians, in
effect, hacked the hackers and saw many documents themselves.

The Chinese hackers stole foreign ministry reports on India’s policy in West Africa,
Russia and West Asia. They got National Security Council secretariat assessments of
security situations in Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur, as well as the Maoist
problem.

The penetration of India’s defence establishments was remarkable. Three air force
bases, two military colleges and an array of military institutes like the Army Institute
of Technology, Pune, were broken into.

The hackers seemed interested in any defence information they could find: from
sensitive issues like live fire exercises and Project Shakti—the army’s artillery
command system—to more innocuous material like personnel files.
“This is a very serious, broad spectrum assault,” said strategic technology expert
Ajay Lele, whose own agency, the Institute for Defence and Security Analysis (IDSA),
was robbed of 180 documents.

The ring is believed to be based in Chengdu, in China’s Sichuan province. The


cyber-sleuths, based at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs,
avoided saying this was government-approved but did say it was “possible”.

The Indian security establishment has little doubt the Shadow Network is cast by
Beijing. Says K. Santhanam, former IDSA head: “These rings are normally consortia
in which Chinese academia, intelligence and military work together.”

Education becomes a basic right


The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Elementary Education Act came into
force in the country from April 1, 2010, amid an emotional appeal of collective effort
by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and loads of applauses for the government from
various parties, including those in the Opposition—the BJP and the Left.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recalled the 100-year old resolve of Gopal Krishna
Gokhale, who urged the Imperial Legislative Assembly to confer on the Indian
people the Right to Education.

With the RTE Act coming into force, the fundamental right to education as
incorporated in the Constitution under Article 21 A also became operative.

Right to Education (RTE) Act has, however, come into force amid a whopping
shortage of 5.3 lakh school teachers. Add to this, an additional seven lakh teachers
that would be required for proper implementation of the Act that gives a three-year
window period to States to make education a fundamental right of children in 6-14
age group and mandates setting up of neighbourhood schools with full
infrastructure.

Uttar Pradesh tops the list, contributing 32 per cent of all existing teachers’
vacancies in the country. Next is the Left Front-ruled West Bengal, where 53,000
posts were lying vacant, as per MHRD records. Bihar has 51,000 vacancies, the
figure for Chattisgarh and Orissa, the other educationally backward States, is
37,000.

Single-teacher schools are another big challenge for the RTE law. Currently, 9 per
cent (about one lakh) of the total 12 lakh schools at primary level have only one
teacher, whereas the RTE Act specifies that any school with enrollment of up to 60
students must have at least two teachers.

Union Budget passed after Rs 400 crore tax relief


On April 29, 2010, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced changes in tax
proposals that will benefit coffee growers, new hospitals and construction sector
while making it clear that service tax on domestic travellers would be Rs 100 per
domestic journey and a maximum of Rs 500 for international travel.

Mukherjee announced these concessions that would cost the exchequer Rs 300-400
crore a year but did not touch the demand for rolling back the hike in petroleum and
fertiliser prices on which the entire opposition walked out before Lok Sabha passed
the Finance Bill, 2010.

Explaining the reasons for his inability to concede the opposition's demand, he said
the financial position was such that oil marketing companies faced an under
recovery of Rs 85,000 crore in 2010, apart from heavy outgo on account of
subsidies, interest and other payments.

Five years of National Rural Health Mission


As India celebrated completion of five years of National Rural Health Mission on
April 12, 2010, Assam won the best performing State award among the north-
eastern State category for implementing the programme well.

Rajasthan was adjudged the best performing State among the high-focus areas,
while Tamil Nadu claimed the award in the category of non-focus States.

Claiming credit for arresting the infant mortality rate (down to 53 in 2008 from 58 in
2005 when NRHM started) and maternal mortality rate (down to 254 in 2004 as
against 301 in 2003), Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said the government was in
the process of designing a comprehensive programme on population stabilisation in
consultation with the State governments.

For the record, India has missed the goal of reaching 2.1 total fertility rate by 2010,
as envisaged in the National Population Policy of 2000.

For the future, five challenges have been listed for NRHM—transition from curative
to preventive health care, human resource management, setting of output and
outcome targets, convergence and inclusive growth and approaches to public
health that look at the different stages of health transition at State and district
levels so that appropriate strategies can be adopted.

SC quashes expulsion of Amarinder Singh by Punjab Assembly


In what is being viewed as a major political victory for former Punjab Chief Minister
and Congress leader Capt Amarinder Singh, the Supreme Court has ruled that his
expulsion from the State Assembly on September 10, 2008 was “constitutionally
invalid” and ordered restoration of his membership.
If Amarinder had committed any irregularities in the allotment of land to a private
builder when he was Chief Minister during the tenure of the 12th House of the
Vidhan Sabha, the proper course of action for the State government should have
been to move the criminal law machinery, a five-member Constitution Bench
headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan held.

Further, the alleged improper exemption of land from the Amritsar Improvement
Scheme “was an executive act” in his capacity as Chief Minister which “did not
distort, obstruct or threaten the integrity of legislative proceedings in any manner”,
the apex court ruled.

Also, the exemption had taken place during the 12th term of the Vidhan Sabha,
whereas the constitution of the Special Committee to inquire into it took place
during the 13th term. “It was not proper for the Assembly to inquire into actions
that took place during its previous term, especially when there was no relatable
business that had lapsed from the previous term.”

The court clarified that its judgment would not act as a hurdle against the
investigation, if any, into the alleged role of Amarinder Singh in the Amritsar
Improvement Scheme notified on January 13, 2006.

Visit of Afghan President Karzai


Afghan President Hamid Karzai, during his two-day trip to New Delhi on April 26,
2010, sought to allay India’s concerns over the proposed re-entry of the Taliban in
the Afghanistan government.

Karzai indicated that his government would enter into a power-sharing arrangement
with those elements of Taliban who had accepted the country’s constitution and
were not part of the Al Qaida.

His meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh came in the backdrop of moves
being initiated by the Afghan government to enter into a power-sharing
arrangement with the so-called “moderate” elements of the Taliban. New Delhi is
worried that such a development will lead to the increased influence of Pakistan in
Afghanistan.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Karzai said they had discussed the
upcoming Afghanistan peace consultative jirga that, he explained, should “comprise
people of Afghanistan, those from all walks of life to advise on how to move forward
for reintegration and reconciliation of those elements of Taliban and others who
have accepted the Constitution and are not part of the Al Qaida or any terrorist
network.”
The Afghan President also requested Prime Minister Singh to send representatives
to the follow-up to the London conference in Kabul so that “India can participate
once again in Afghanistan’s reconstruction”.

India was forced to backtrack on the Taliban issue after the US and other European
countries encouraged Karzai to do business with the Taliban at the London
conference held in early 2010. While the US and NATO countries are looking for an
exit route from war-ravaged Afghanistan, India is worried that that this will have an
adverse impact on the security and stability of the region.

Bangladesh lifts ban on Indian films


On April 24, 2010, Bangladesh announced that it has lifted an almost four-decade
ban on Indian films in a bid to boost attendances at cinemas. The move, however,
drew loud complaints from local actors and directors.

Films produced by Bollywood were banned from cinemas in Bangladesh since the
country’s independence in 1972 in a bid to protect the local movie industry.

The lifting of the ban comes amid warming relations between India and Bangladesh
after ties worsened between the neighbours when an Islamist-allied government
was in power in Dhaka from 2001 to 2006.

But not everyone supports the move. “Indian films will completely destroy our film
industry and our culture. At least 25,000 people will be jobless,” said Masum Parvez
Rubel, a leading star and a co-coordinator of a front against Indian films.

India, China Prime Ministers to connect via hotline


On April 7, 2010, India and China signed an agreement to establish a hotline
between Prime Ministers of the two countries, as External Affairs Minister S.M.
Krishna and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi resolved to take the bilateral
relationship to new heights.

The agreement, under which dedicated phone lines will be set up in the Prime
Minister's office of the two countries, was signed by Krishna and Yang after their
talks in Beijing. This would enable Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese
counterpart Wen Jiabao to hold direct conversations whenever they want.

This is the first time in recent years that India has established a dedicated hotline
facility with any country. The two countries also decided to strengthen their
cooperation in regional forums and on addressing issues like global financial crisis
and climate change.

Summit meeting between India-Pak Prime Ministers


On April 29, 2010, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart
Yousaf Raza Gilani held their first bilateral meeting in nine months to end the
diplomatic stalemate in ties between their two nations since the 26/11 Mumbai
terror attacks.

At their hour-long meeting, described as an “exercise in soul searching” by Indian


officials, the two leaders decided to upgrade the bilateral dialogue to the political
level, something which Islamabad had been insisting upon for months.

After the Pakistani premier assured Manmohan Singh that his government would
not allow the misuse of the Pakistani territory for launching terror attacks in India,
the two PMs instructed their foreign ministers and foreign secretaries to meet “as
soon as possible” to work out the modalities to pave the way for a “substantive
dialogue” on all issues of mutual concern to restore trust and confidence in the
relationship.

Political analysts, however, pointed out that this was not the first time that the
Pakistani leadership has promised not to allow the misuse of the country’s soil for
anti-India activities. This commitment has been given to India time and again by
Islamabad since January 2004 when Pervez Musharraf was at the helm of affairs.

The two PMs did agree that there was lack of mutual trust that was impeding the
normalisation process and it was time to think afresh on the way to move forward.

ISI mole in MEA held


Madhuri Gupta, a promotee officer of the Ministry of External Affairs who was
posted as Second Secretary at the Indian mission for the last three years, was
arrested by Delhi police on April 25, 2010, on the charge of passing sensitive
information to her contacts in Pakistan’s ISI.

“We have reasons to believe that an official at the High Commission of India in
Islamabad had been passing information to Pakistan intelligence agencies. The
matter is under investigation. The official is cooperating with our investigations and
inquiries,’’ MEA spokesman Vishnu Prakash.

Fifty three-year-old Madhuri, who is a spinster, was summoned to New Delhi on the
pretext of discussions on the SAARC Summit when she was taken into custody.

Medical Council Chief held for taking bribe


The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested Medical Council of India (MCI)
president Ketan Desai in Delhi on charges of corruption.

Desai and an associate, J.P. Singh, were picked up for allegedly demanding Rs 2
crore for granting recognition to a private medical college in Punjab. It is the MCI’s
responsibility to maintain standards in medical education and in the profession.

Desai is also accused of granting recognition to several colleges that didn’t meet
required criteria. In 2001, he had stepped down as MCI president after the Delhi
High Court indicted him on corruption charges.

Meghalaya gets its 9th CM in 12 years


Meghalaya Chief Minister D.D. Lapang submitted his resignation to Governor R.S.
Mooshahary on April 19, 2010, paving the way for his deputy Mukul M. Sangma to
take charge.

Sangma, elected as leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP), was sworn in as
the 25th CM since Meghalaya acquired Statehood in April 1970.

Political instability in Meghalaya has seen eight CMs coming and going in the past
12 years. Only two CMs have completed five-year terms since the State was formed.

The Congress-led ruling alliance has a comfortable majority of 44 in the 60-member


Assembly, though the Congress has 28 MLAs of its own. Its partners are the United
Democratic Party with 10 MLAs and six others, including three Independents.

Sangma, known to be a Lapang loyalist, is a four-time MLA from Ampatigiri


Assembly constituency. More importantly, he is believed to be the counter of
Congress to Nationalist Congress Party veteran and former Lok Sabha Speaker
Purno A. Sangma in the Garo Hills half of Meghalaya. This Garo tribe-inhabited half
has a traditional ambivalent relationship with the other half dominated by Khasi-
Jaintia tribes.

Trouble began for Lapang after some Congress MLAs wanted him to drop three
Independents and the lone regional party (KHNAM) MLA from the Cabinet. Lapang
declined, saying he could not betray “friends” who helped him form the Congress-
led Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) government.

The Independents and some regional party MLAs had broken away from the NCP-
backed Meghalaya Progressive Alliance to help Lapang cobble together the MUA
government on March 19, 2008, after voters delivered a fractured verdict in the
Assembly elections that year.

Naxals kill 73 security personnel in the deadliest attack ever


In the biggest Naxal strikes in the country, the Left-wing extremists killed 76 jawans
of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and critically wounded eight others in the
restive Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh on April 6, 2010.

The rebels had meticulously planned the entire operation; inviting security
personnel to walk into the trap laid on the Chintalnaar-Tademetla road, about 100
km from the district headquarters and some 540 km south of the State capital.
The Naxalites, who were reportedly 1,000 in number, had planted landmines and
created temporary bunkers on the hilltops to easily target the jawans. The kaccha
road where the incident took place had been surrounded by hilly terrains and dense
forests.

The CRPF jawans did not get much time to take position and retaliate. The Naxalites
opened indiscriminate fire from the bunkers located at strategic points and
detonated a series of landmines.

A key reason for the CRPF’s dismal response to the Naxal attack has been their lack
of training. As CPO units poured into Chhattisgarh for Operation Green Hunt, 5
battalions of the Border Security Force (BSF), 5 battalions of the Indo-Tibet Border
Police (ITBP) and 2 battalions of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) were all put through
jungle warfare orientation courses at Chhattisgarh’s well-reputed Jungle Warfare
College in Kanker. The CRPF, inexplicably, refused to undergo this training.

Training at the Jungle Warfare College, as every organisation except the CRPF
seems to have known, has underpinned anti-Naxal operations in Chhattisgarh since
2005, when the college was set up with the help of the Indian Army. Over the last
five years, Chhattisgarh has trained 12,700 policemen (including 3700 from other
States) at this institution. The college’s credo: Fight the guerrilla like a guerrilla.

Instead of providing adequate training to each battalion that is sent into counter-
insurgency operations, the CRPF has relied heavily for success on “elite” units, like
its feared “Naga Battalion” which was based in Bastar for several years before
being pulled out. In 2008, the Home Ministry authorised the CRPF to raise 10 COBRA
(Commando Battalions for Resolute Action) units, for counter-Naxal operations. But
the regular battalions remain largely untrained, pushed at will from election duty, to
counter-insurgency, to patrolling riot-affected areas, to anti-Naxal operations. The
Home Ministry’s approach has always centred on getting the CRPF to the trouble-
spot. After that, it is left to the harried battalion or company commander to deliver
the goods.

The answer clearly lies in carefully training CPOs, especially before they go into
counter-insurgency operations.

New strategy to counter Naxals


The Union government is tweaking its strategy to deal with Naxals. The list of
changes includes: segregation within the CRPF to have specialist anti-insurgency
units, which will be trained to “attack first”; introduction of unmanned aerial
vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance; more choppers; and re-training of men on the
pattern of Indian Army before induction.

“Operations will go on…rather they are still on,” said well-placed sources, adding
that 10 such battalions had been trained specially for the “attack first” policy which
is the dictum of the Army and the BSF in dealing with adversaries.

The training will include ramping up of infrastructure with firing ranges and also the
use of the existing training facilities of the Army in Jungle warfare. The Army’s
jungle warfare expertise is such that even the Chinese Army conducted a joint
exercise with India in 2009.

For effective use, the CRPF—comprising 2.30 lakh personnel—will be segregated


into two parts. One will help the State governments in maintaining law and order
duties, while the other, comprising younger men, will deal with insurgents.

The CRPF has also made it clear that the State governments have to start raising
special operations groups of its local policemen, like in Andhra Pradesh and J&K. The
local boys know the population and glean out good information from villagers which
comes handy.

In an indication of sustained economic growth, the per capita income in Delhi


has increased to Rs 78,690 in the financial year 2007-08 as against the national
figure of Rs 33,283. Delhi's per capita income is the third highest in the country with
Chandigarh having per capita income of Rs 110,676 topping the list and closely
followed by Goa at Rs 105,582.

The Unique Identification (UID) project of India has been renamed as ‘Aadhaar’.

India has achieved the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for drinking
water by providing 84 per cent of its rural population with access to improved
sources of water.

With the Right to Education Act coming into force, India has joined the league of
135 countries that have legal guarantee to provide free and compulsory education
to children.

BPL Studylite is India’s first eco-friendly rechargeable light-emitting diode (LED)


study lamp. It has bagged the Red Dot Product Design Award in the Lighting
category, one of the most prestigious international product design awards.

World Book Day is observed on April 23.

Oil India Limited has been granted the coveted ‘Navratna’ status by the
government, a move that will empower the board of the compant.

A unique coincidence was created when General V.K. Singh took over as Chief
of Indian Army on March 31, 2010. All the three serving Chiefs (Army, Air Force and
Navy) are from the same squadron of the National Defence Academy (NDA).

The 37th National Games will be hosted by Chattisgarh.

The tiny north-eastern state of Mizoram recently set a Guinness World Record
for the “largest and longest dance”. A 10-minute performance of its colourful
traditional bamboo dance, Cheraw, saw an astounding 10,736 dancers in 671
groups set a record in the heart of Aizawl.

World Health Day is observed on April 7.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and economist


Amartya Sen are among nine Indians figuring in the Time magazine’s annual list of
100 most influential people.

Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has added 83 million tonnes (mt) of oil
and gas reserves in 2009-10, the highest in two decades. The reserve had gone up
due to Kasomarigaon discovery in Assam, South Mahadevpatnam and Pennugonda
in Krishna-Godavari onland, GK-28-1 in Kutch offshore and PER-1 in Mumbai
offshore. The company produced 24.858 million tonnes of crude oil in the 2009-10
fiscal, lower than the target of 25.764 million tonnes. Gas production at 23.1 billion
cubic metres was higher than 22.24 bcm target.

India's say in the World Bank has increased a bit after member nations
approved a shift in voting rights, while its peer China's voice in the funding agency
has grown louder than that of Germany, France and the UK. Both India and China
hitherto enjoyed an identical 2.8 per cent voting rights. India’s voting power stands
increased to 2.9 per cent and that of China leaped to 4.4 per cent— placing it third
overall. India is now the seventh largest member in terms of voting power, with
United States leading the table with 15.9 per cent, Japan (6.8 per cent), China (4.4
per cent), Germany (4.0 per cent), France (3.8 per cent) and the UK (3.8 per cent).

A non-government organisation, Aranyak, has found that the Kaziranga


National Park in Assam has 32 tigers per 100 sq km, as compared to Corbett
National Park, Uttarkhand, which has 20 tigers for the same area.

The Indian Air Force has laid the groundwork for operationalising its latest fighter
base at Phalodi in Rajasthan.

CURRENT NATIONAL AFFAIRS - MARCH 2010


CURRENT NATIONAL AFFAIRS - MARCH 2010

BANKING & FINANCE


RBI raises repo, reverse repo
On March 19, 2010, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) surprised banks and money
market players by raising key policy rates 25 basis points. The move, aimed at
taming inflation and anchoring inflationary expectations, marked a reversal in the
easy monetary policy regime amid signs of strong economic revival.

The central bank said the repo rate, or the rate at which banks borrow from RBI, is
being increased 25 basis points to 5 per cent. Similarly, the reverse repo rate, or the
rate at which surplus cash is parked with the central bank, was increased to 3.5 per
cent, from 3.25 per cent earlier.

This was the second action since January 2010, when RBI announced a 75-basis
point rise in the cash reserve ratio (CRR) to 5.75 per cent.

But, unlike CRR, which is used to manage liquidity in the system, an increase in the
repo and reserve repo rates is aimed at signalling an increase in interest rates.

RBI joined central banks in Australia and Malaysia, which raised rates in March,
while Norway and Israel did so at the end of 2009. The US Federal Reserve and the
European Central Bank are among those waiting for evidence of a more concrete
recovery before they unwind record low borrowing costs.

DEFENCE
Delhi High Court orders for Permanent Commission for Women Officers
On March 12, 2010, in a path-breaking judgement, the Delhi High Court has directed
the Centre to offer within two months Permanent Commission (PC) to Short Service
Commissioned (SSC) women officers of the Air Force and the Army at par with male
SSC officers with all consequential benefits, including promotion.

At present, the Indian Army offers permanent commission to women after 10 years
of SSC. This is applicable to those who were recruited after March 2009 and that too
only in two streams — the Judge Adjutant General (JAG) branch and the Education
corps. Women are also recruited in Signals, Engineers, Ordnance and Air Defence
but are not eligible for PC.

In the IAF, women are offered a permanent option in the Legal, Accounts and
Education corps. Women chopper and transport pilots, engineering corps, Logistics
and Meteorological streams are not eligible for permanent commission. At present,
there are about 1,050 and 827 women officers in the Army and the IAF,
respectively. Separately, the Navy has 280 women.

The benefit would be extended to women officers recruited prior to change of policy
(March 2009) and the PC shall be offered to them after completion of five years.
However, these benefits would be available only to women officers in service or who
approached the HC but retired when the case was pending in the court, the Bench
clarified.

The court made significant remark on having women in combat roles saying “the
claim of absorption in areas of operation not open for recruitment of women officers
cannot be sustained being a policy decision.”

LAW POINT
Live-in not an offence: SC
The Supreme Court has opined that a man and woman living together without
marriage cannot be construed as an offence. “Living together is not an offence. It
cannot be an offence,” a three judge bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan,
Deepak Verma and B.S. Chauhan observed.

The court said even Lord Krishna and Radha lived together according to mythology.
The apex court made the observation while reserving its judgement on a special
leave petition filed by noted south Indian actress Khusboo seeking to quash 22
criminal cases filed against her after she allegedly endorsed pre-marital sex in
interviews to various magazines in 2005.

The judges grilled the counsel for some of the complainants in the case and
repeatedly stressed that the perceived immoral activities cannot be branded as
offence.

The apex court further said the views expressed by Khusboo were personal. “How
does it concern you. We are not bothered. At the most it is a personal view. How is
it an offence? Under which provision of the law ?” the bench asked the counsel.

Khusboo had approached the apex court after the Madras High Court in 2008
dismissed her plea for quashing the criminal cases filed against her throughout
Tamil Nadu.

Promotion fundamental right: SC


The Supreme Court has ruled that governments at the Centre and States should
“act as model employers” and that all eligible employees virtually had a
“fundamental right” to promotion as guaranteed under Article 16 of the
Constitution.

A Bench comprising Justices R.V. Raveendran and Asok Kumar Ganguly made the
clarification while directing the Centre and the Union Public Service Commission to
grant promotion with retrospective effect to members of the Uttar Pradesh State
Civil Service (SSC) who had been affected by a delay of more than two years in the
cadre review following the creation of Uttaranchal (now Uttarakhand) in 2000.

The Centre and the UPSC contended that the statutory mandate of a cadre review
exercise every five years “is qualified by the expression ordinarily” and as such it
was not necessary to undertake it every five years. The Bench, however, did not
buy this argument. “We hold that the statutory duty which is cast on the State
government and the Central government to undertake the cadre review exercise
every five years is ordinarily mandatory subject to exceptions which may be
justified in the facts of a given case.

“Surely, lethargy, inaction, an absence of a sense of responsibility cannot fall within


the category of just exceptions,” the apex court ruled, obviously indicting the UP
government for not responding to the Centre’s reminders.

The court accepted the government’s arguments that Rule 4(2) did not have
retrospective effect, but refused to interfere with the Delhi HC order which had, by
using its special power under Article 142 of the Constitution, directed the Centre to
“mitigate the hardship and denial of legitimate rights of the employees” in view of
the “facts and circumstances of the case.”

LEGISLATION
Foreign Education Bill
After several years of debate, the Union Cabinet, on March 15, 2010, unanimously
approved a Bill that would allow foreign education providers to set up campuses in
India and offer degrees. A Bill to this effect was first introduced in the Rajya Sabha
in August 1995. The new one is expected to be introduced in Parliament and be
voted into law by the monsoon session of 2010.

This is a milestone which will enhance choices, increase competition and


benchmark quality. A larger revolution than even in the telecom sector awaits us,”
said Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for Human Resource Development (MHRD).

The Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operations,


Maintenance of Quality and Prevention of Commercialisation) Bill will allow foreign
universities to invest at least 51 per cent of the total capital expenditure needed to
establish the institute in India. Such institutes will be granted deemed university
status under Section 3 of the Universities Grants Commission (UGC) Act, 1956.

The Bill aims to regulate the entry, operation and maintenance of quality assurance
and prevention of commercialisation by foreign educational institutions, besides
protecting the interest of the student community from sub-standard and ‘fly by
night’ operators.

The Bill is aimed at not only bringing in investment in the education sector, but also
draw in foreign students, besides helping check the flight of Indians to study (then
work and settle) abroad.
PLANNING & ECONOMY
India’s food security goals in danger
An alarming new report by the World Bank has shown that an increasing number of
aquifers in India are reaching unsustainable levels of exploitation, endangering
long-term food security goals. If current trends continue, in 20 years about 60 per
cent of all aquifers in the country will be in a critical condition, putting at risk over a
quarter of the harvest, concludes the report “Deep Wells and Prudence: Towards
Pragmatic Action for Addressing Groundwater Overexploitation in India”.

The report rings alarm bells for policy makers, warning them against status quo. A
rainfall deficit in 1963-66 had decreased India’s food production by 20 per cent, but
a similar drought in 1987-88 had very small impact on food production due to
widespread prevalence of groundwater, which is now declining.

India is the largest groundwater user in the world, exploiting 230 cubic kilometres of
groundwater every year—over a quarter of the global total. Today, groundwater
supports 60 per cent of irrigated agriculture and more than 80 per cent of rural and
urban water supplies.

Even though there is a major dependence of many sectors on groundwater and it is


being overexploited, there is little investment in its management. This inaction has
arisen mainly because the solutions often proposed for groundwater management
are very controversial, including “command-and-control” regulation of wells and
curbing the supply of free or cheap power for groundwater irrigation.

FOREIGN RELATIONS
India to sign extradition treaties with Iran, Sri Lanka, Brazil, France &
Israel
After signing extradition treaties with Saudi Arabia and South Korea, India has
finalised draft agreements with five more nations—Iran, Sri Lanka, Brazil, France
and Israel. The government is now working out the dates on which the treaties can
formally be signed.

The treaty with Saudi Arabia was signed in February, during Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh’s visit to Riyadh. Another such treaty was signed with South Korea
when its President, Lee Myung-Bak, visited New Delhi in January 2010.

With bilateral cooperation in security and counter-terrorism measures assuming


significance, India has stepped up efforts to formalise agreements with other
nations so suspects can be brought back to the country to be tried under Indian
laws. Indian government is giving extradition treaties the utmost importance as
intelligence inputs suggest that some nations could be used as safe heavens by
terrorists and the underworld.
India has extradition treaties with several countries, including Nepal, Belgium,
Netherlands, Canada, UK, Switzerland, Bhutan, USA, UAE and the Russian
Federation.

Loan agreement with Japan


India has signed an agreement for Rs 10,500 crore (Yen 215.611 billion) Official
Development Assistance (ODA) from Japan. This includes Rs 1,648.36 crore for the
second phase of Delhi mass rapid transport system project (DMRTS), Rs 4,422.83
crore for the dedicated rail freight corridor and Rs 2,933 crore for Chennai metro.

Six projects will be covered under the loan, including Sikkim Biodiversity
Conservation and Forest Management Project, Kolkata East-West Metro Project (II)
and Rengali Irrigation Project (III). With this, the cumulative commitment of ODA
from Japan has reached Rs 15,5840 crore.

Visit of Prime Minister Putin of Russia


Russian Prime Minister Vladmir Putin’s one-day visit New Delhi on March 13, 2010,
has gone some distance in adding a strong economic dimension to ties between the
two nations. The visit helped in building a roadmap to strengthen economic ties,
including in the pharmaceutical sector, getting Russian investments in
infrastructure projects and accessing Russian markets for Indian services.

Demonstrating the solidity of their strategic relationship to the world, India and
Russia sealed multi-billion dollars deals in key areas like defence, nuclear energy,
diamond, petroleum and aviation as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
reaffirmed Moscow’s support to Delhi in its fight against terrorism.

The visit is noted for the success in taking this vital strategic partnership forward,
giving the much needed economic impetus. A host of steps aimed at scaling up the
current $7.5 billion bilateral trade to $20 billion by 2015 were set in motion.

Besides agreement on nuclear reactors, an MoU for cooperation in Russia’s satellite


navigation system was also agreed upon during the visit.

Russia announced its readiness to build 16 nuclear reactors for power stations in
India. An important agreement was the umbrella pact between the National Power
Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and the Atom Stroy for Kudankulam III and
Kudankulam IV nuclear reactors as part of the nuclear cooperation accord between
the two sides. The agreement on peaceful uses of nuclear energy is expected to
open more avenues of nuclear cooperation between the two countries. The two
sides also signed a pact on serial construction of Russian designed nuclear reactors.

The most significant accords between the two sides were on the Admiral Gorshkov
aircraft carrier that was approved by the Union Cabinet for the purchase of the
vessel at $ 2.33 billion and the supply of 29 MIG 29K—the sea variant of the fighter
used by the IAF—valued at $ 1.5 billion.

India-USA agree on N-reprocessing


India and the United States have reached a deal on reprocessing American-origin
spent nuclear fuel to be supplied to India under the landmark civil nuclear
agreement signed in September 2008.

The talks were wrapped up well before the August deadline. The US statement
noted that these arrangements will enable Indian reprocessing of US-obligated
nuclear material under IAEA safeguards. Completion of these arrangements will
facilitate participation by US firms in India’s rapidly expanding civil nuclear energy
sector.

The reprocessing arrangements were negotiated pursuant to Article 6 (iii) of the US-
India civil nuclear cooperation agreement, also called the 123 Agreement. Under
the 123 Agreement, India will construct new facilities dedicated for reprocessing the
safeguarded nuclear material under IAEA safeguards.

The advanced consent agreement is only the third of its kind ever undertaken by
the US. The US has such agreements with the European consortium EURATOM and
Japan. China, Brazil, Indonesia, South Korea, which have 123 Agreements with the
US, do not have such agreements.

RESERVATIONS
SC okays quota for Andhra Muslims
On March 25, 2010, the Supreme Court okayed religion-based reservation in
government jobs and educational institutes in Andhra Pradesh but referred the
matter to a constitution bench to decide on its constitutional validity.

In an interim order, a bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan extended the
benefit of four per cent reservation in jobs and education to 14 other backward
classes of Muslims in the State. In the process, it stayed the February order of the
State High Court that had quashed the Andhra Pradesh Reservation for Socially and
Educationally Backward Classes of Muslims Act, 2007.

But the apex court refused to grant quota benefit to a 15th category of Muslims
mentioned in the Act as the social groups were not specified. It also made it clear
this was a temporary measure. The constitution bench is expected to take up the
case in August 2010.

According to Andhra government, the reason for giving four per cent quota to
backward Muslims was because they constitute 5-6 per cent of the State's
population. The creamy layer—those who earn over Rs 4 lakh annually, children of
class-I officers working with the State/Central governments and those who hold
constitutional posts—are not entitled.

All parties barring the BJP welcomed the decision.

Rajya Sabha passes historic Women’s Reservation Bill


Fourteen years after it was envisaged, the Rajya Sabha, on March 10, 2010, passed
the landmark Women’s Reservation Bill that will pave the way for reserving 33 per
cent seats for women in Parliament and State Assemblies. But prior to that, the
legislation has to be seen through in the Lok Sabha.

Of the 186 members present in the Rajya Sabha, 185 voted in favour of the Bill.
Barring the parties from the Hindi-belt—Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and
BSP—all other parties that included the constituents of Congress-led UPA and BJP-
led NDA supported the Bill that was to carry out the 108th amendment to the
Constitution for enabling reservation.

The Congress-led UPA, the BJP-led NDA and also the Left parties were on the same
side as the Parliament authored the “historic move”, which could upstage several
well ensconced politicians but ensure proper representation of women, which
languishes at 11 per cent in Lok Sabha.

SP and RJD MPs walked out even before the discussion began. BSP’s leader in Upper
House Satish Chandra Misra walked out after expressing his party’s point of view:
“We support the cause of reservation, however, oppose the Bill in its present form.”

The proposed legislation to reserve 33.3 percent seats in Parliament and State
Legislatures for women was drafted first by the H D Deve Gowda-led United Front
government. The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on September 12, 1996.
Though it has been introduced in Parliament several times since then, the Bill could
not be passed because of lack of political consensus.

Main points of the legislation

• Seeks to reserve one-third of seats for women in Lok Sabha and State
Assemblies.
• Allocation of reserved seats shall be determined by the authority prescribed
by the Parliament.
• One-third of the total seats reserved for SCs and STs shall be reserved for
women from these groups in LS and Assemblies.
• Reserved seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in the
State or Union Territory.
• Reservation of seats for women shall cease to exist 15 years after the
commencement of the Act.
TERRORISM; LAW & ORDER
Union Cabinet okays tougher laws to deal with hijackers
With terror threats in the aviation sector looming large, the Union government has
decided to make the Anti-Hijacking Act of 1982 tougher by including death sentence
as a punishment for hijacking a plane with intention of creating a terror strike.

A cabinet meeting headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approved the


amendments to be incorporated in the existing Act, which at present only provides
for life imprisonment and fine.

The anti-hijack policy that was revised and approved by the Cabinet Committee for
Security in 2005 could not be made a law primarily due to lack of consensus on the
punishment for the hijacker, having intent of creating terror strike and caught alive.

The policy also has provision for immobilisation of the plane and disallowing it to
take off, if the hijack occurs on the Indian soil. Notably, during the Kandahar hijack
in December 1999, in which passengers and crew members were exchanged for
four dreaded terrorists, security forces had failed to immobilise the plane when it
had landed at the Amritsar airport. The CCS, in August 2005, had cleared the
proposal to shoot down a commercial plane if it was hijacked. It also strictly ruled
out any negotiations with hijackers on meeting any of their demands.

According to the policy, if a rogue aircraft paid no heed to ATC warnings and
deviated from its specified path or headed towards any strategic spot, a decision on
shooting it down would come into play. In case of an emergency situation, the shoot
down orders could be given by the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister or the Home
Minister, whoever could be contacted first.

CURRENT INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

USA
Law on healthcare passed
On March 23, 2010, US President Barack Obama signed into law the landmark
Health Care Bill that introduces sweeping reforms in the USA’s healthcare system,
capping a historic legislative victory that had eluded several of his predecessors. It
will take four years to implement fully many of the reforms.

Obama said that henceforth insurance companies will no longer be able to drop
people's coverage, when they get sick or they won't be able to place lifetime limits
or restrictive annual limits on the amount of care they can receive.

The President said once this reform is implemented, health insurance exchanges
will be created, a competitive marketplace, where uninsured people and small
businesses will finally be able to purchase affordable quality insurance.
Obama said this legislation will also lower costs for families and for businesses and
for the federal government, reducing deficit by over $1 trillion in the next two
decades.

WORLD ECONOMY
IMF paints grim picture of fiscal tightening needs
Developed countries with big budget deficits must start now to prepare public
opinion for the belt-tightening that will be needed starting 2011, says John Lipsky,
the International Monetary Fund’s first deputy managing director. He added that the
scale of the adjustment required was so vast that it would have to come through
less-generous health and pension benefits, spending cuts and increased tax
revenues.

Policy-makers should already be making it clear to their citizens why a return to


prudent policies is a necessary condition for sustained economic health, Lipsky said.

The IMF estimates that, by raising real interest rates, maintaining public debt at its
post-crisis levels could reduce potential growth in advanced economies by as much
as half a percentage point annually.

Second, fiscal institutions must be strengthened to withstand adjustment fatigue.


Options include reinforcing fiscal responsibility legislation and improving tax
collection.

Third, entitlement reforms such as increases in the retirement age would have
favourable long-term fiscal effects but do little near-term damage to aggregate
demand.

RBI to buy IMF notes worth $10 bn


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has signed an agreement with the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) to purchase notes worth up to $10 billion to improve the ability
of the international lender to provide timely and effective balance-of-payment
assistance to member countries. IMF will issue the notes in the special drawing
rights (SDR)-denominated form. The pact is a temporary bilateral arrangement for
one year, which might be extended to two years.

The pact is part of the international effort to support IMF’s lending capacity
following the decision of the Group of 20 nations at its London Summit (held in April
2009) to treble IMF’s resources to $750 billion.

Generally, IMF will give a five-day notice to RBI about its intention to issues notes,
including the amount. It will restrict issuance to a principal amount not exceeding
SDR 500 million in any calendar week.
At the beginning of each quarter, IMF will also provide estimates for the amount for
which notes will be issued during a three-month period.

Permanent increases in IMF’s resources are expected to take place through an


increase in quotas and standing borrowing arrangements currently under
negotiation.

ENVIRONMENT
India and China Okay Copenhagen Pact
On March 9, 2010, India and China formally backed the Climate Change Accord
hammered out in Copenhagen in 2009, calling for voluntary cut in greenhouse gas
emissions. Both the countries submitted official letters to the UN Climate Change
Secretariat saying that they agreed to being listed in the preamble of the Accord,
subject to certain conditions.

India made it clear, however, that the accord is a political document and not a
legally binding one.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Google leaves China
Late on March 23, 2010 night, the Internet giant Google shut its Chinese website
and shifted its search engine services to uncensored Hong Kong after two months of
confrontation with Beijing over censorship and alleged hacking attacks. But those
re-routed to Hong Kong still couldn’t access sensitive websites as these were
blocked by Chinese filters.

Google’s bold censure of the business environment in the world’s number three
economy—and the biggest online market of 384 million netizens— had left the fate
of its future China operations in doubt.

Soon after Google’s announcement, Beijing lashed out by calling the action “totally
wrong” and saying it “violated the written promise” it made four years ago, when it
arrived, promising to self-censor online services as required by Chinese law.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the exit would not affect Sino-
US relations unless someone politicised the issue.

China believes its citizens need strict censorship. It blocked YouTube after the Tibet
riots in March 2008, fearing the spread of mass unrest through the Internet.
Facebook and Twitter were blocked after the Xinjiang riots in July 2009.

US President Obama’s visit to Afghanistan


On March 28, 2010 US President Barak Obama sneaked into Afghanistan under the
cover of darkness, to avoid being targeted by militants. This was his first visit to the
country since taking office. For security reasons, the trip was cloaked in secrecy.

Obama met Afghan President Karzai in the palace’s outdoor grounds and stood
under a pavilion for a brief welcoming ceremony. The President spent roughly six
hours in the country.
During their meeting the Afghan leader was invited to the White House on May 12,
2010. Mr Obama also tackled Mr Karzai on his failure to make any meaningful
reforms since he narrowly won a second term in fraud-ridden polls in 2009.

Mr Karzai made grandiose promises in his inauguration speech but so far he has
failed to deliver. At the time, US officials said he had six months to reform or risk
losing American support.

Mr Obama also addressed 2,500 US troops at Bagram air force base, nine miles
from Kabul. He praised them for their courage, sacrifice and focus, and warned of
tough days ahead.

US, Russia seal N-arms cut deal


US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sealed a
landmark arms-control treaty on March 28, 2010 to slash their countries’ nuclear
arsenals by a third.

After months of deadlock and delay, a breakthrough deal on a replacement for the
Cold War-era START pact marked Obama’s most significant foreign policy
achievement since taking office and also bolsters his effort to “reset” ties with
Moscow.

Russia made clear, however, that it reserved the right to suspend any strategic
arms cuts if it felt threatened by future US deployment of a proposed Europe-based
missile defence system that Moscow bitterly opposes.

The agreement replaces a 1991 pact that expired in December 2009. Each side
would have seven years after the treaty takes effect to reduce stockpiles of their
most dangerous weapons—those already deployed—to 1,550, from the 2,200 now
allowed, and also cut their numbers of launchers to half.

INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM
Chechen insurgency re-surfaces in Russia
During the six years since the last suicide bomb attack on the Moscow subway,
Muscovites came to think of themselves as insulated from the guerrilla warfare.
Terror, however, returned to the heart of Russia on March 30, 2010, with two deadly
suicide bombings on the Moscow subway at rush hour, including an attack at the
station beneath the headquarters of the secret police. At least 40 people were killed
and more than 60 wounded in the blasts.

Russian police had killed several Islamic militant leaders in the North Caucasus
recently, which raised fears of retaliatory strikes and escalating bloodshed by the
militants. The bombings showed that the beleaguered rebels are still strong enough
to inflict harm on an increasingly assertive Russia, and they followed a warning in
February 2010 from Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov that “the war is coming to
their cities.”

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who built much of his political capital by directing a
fierce war against Chechen separatists a decade ago, promised to track down and
kill the organizers of what he called a “disgusting” crime.

Headley pleads guilty to all 12 charges


In a volte-face, Pakistani-American LeT operative David Coleman Headley, accused
of plotting the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks and conspiring to target a Danish
newspaper, has pleaded guilty before a US court. Charged on 12 counts, he
admitted guilty in all of them.

Headley (49), who was arrested by FBI's joint terrorism task force on October 3,
2009, told US District Judge Harry Leinenweber that he wanted to change his plea to
guilty, in an apparent bid to get a lighter sentence than the maximum death
penalty.

Headley, son of a Pakistani diplomat and a Philadelphia socialite, admitted to using


his friend Tahawwur Rana's immigration company as a cover for surveillance
activities in India and Denmark on behalf of Pakistan-based terrorist groups,
including LeT.

Headley admitted guilty in all six counts of conspiracy involving bombing public
places in India, murdering and maiming persons in India and providing material
support to foreign terrorist plots and LeT; and six counts of aiding and abetting the
murder of US citizens in India.

In an indication of sustained economic growth, the per capita income in Delhi has
increased to Rs 78,690 in the financial year 2007-08 as against the national figure of Rs
33,283. Delhi's per capita income is the third highest in the country with Chandigarh having
per capita income of Rs 110,676 topping the list and closely followed by Goa at Rs 105,582.

India has signed an agreement for Rs 10,500 crore Official Development Assistance from
Japan. This includes Rs 1,648 crore for the second phase of Delhi Metro project.

World Water Day is observed on March 22 every year to focus attention on the importance
of fresh-water and advocating for the sustainable management of fresh-water resources.
Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD) hosted a
conference in Manila, Philippines, in March 2010, on indigenous peoples, climate change and
rural poverty.

From April 1, 2010 consumers in 13 cities of India, including Delhi and Mumbai, shifted to
use of environment friendly Euro-IV complaint petrol and diesel.

According to the Liveability Index 2010, prepared jointly by the CII and the Institute for
Competitiveness, Delhi is the best city to live in, followed by Mumbai. A liveable city,
according to the report, is not just an urbanised area in an urbanised region defined by the
presence of a municipality. Liveability refers to an urban system that contributes to the
physical, social and mental well being and personal developments of all its inhabitants.

The ceiling for payment of gratuity to private sector employees has been raised from Rs
3.5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.

The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal to declare Andaman and Nicobar set of
Ports as a major port and establish the Andaman and Nicobar Port Trust with its HQ at Port
Blair.

The UAE has become the world’s fourth biggest weapons importer. China, India and South
Korea are the top three arms importers, in that order.

CURRENT NATIONAL AFFAIRS - FEBRUARY 2010


CURRENT NATIONAL AFFAIRS - FEBRUARY 2010

AGRICULTURE
Scientists slam study behind Bt Brinjal ban
A vital study cited by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh to justify his decision to disallow the
commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal in India is flawed, claim top European scientists. Mr Ramesh had
referred to the findings of France-based Caen University professor Gilles-Eric Séralini and his team,
which had branded Bt brinjal—India’s first genetically modified (GM) food crop—“unsafe”.

Experts claim that Séralini was unduly influenced by the renowned international NGO Greenpeace—
with its aggressive green agenda—which sponsored the study, and never carried out a peer-reviewed
laboratory study on GM crops he called hazardous, including Bt maize and Bt brinjal, its gene or seeds.

The European Food Safety Association, a risk assessment body, has trashed Séralini’s findings on
Monsanto’s MON 863, a variety of Bt maize.

On February 9, 2010, the Union government decided to freeze the introduction of Bt Brinjal in India till
independent scientific studies established health and environment safety of the product to the
satisfaction of both public and experts.

Bt Brinjal is a genetically modified vegetable that is infused with Cry1Ac gene from a bacterium,
bacillus thuringiensis, to make the plant resistant to fruit and shoot borers and certain pests.
The Environment Ministry has appointed a Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) to regulate
research, testing and commercial release of genetically modified crops, foods and organisms. The GEAC
had cleared Bt Brinjal for commercial release in October 2009. According to GEAC Bt Brinjal would
reduce farmers’ dependence on pesticides and enable higher yields.

EDUCATION
Uniform Math and Science content for Class 11 and 12
From the 2011 academic session, students of Classes XI and XII across the country will study a uniform
science and math curriculum. Currently, course content of these critical subjects varies with the State
school board an institution is affiliated to.

The idea is to have for every student a level playing field for entry to professional colleges. The
government has also received the approval of all school boards—including State boards—to work
towards a single, national-level entrance exam for all engineering and medical courses in India from
2013. Gradually, such an exam would be extended for entry to colleges of other disciplines, such as
law.

One test would mean the end of plenty like IIT-JEE, AIEEE and State exams for engineering colleges and
various State-level PMTs, beside national level PMT, which the CBSE conducts. This, the Human
Resource Development (HRD) Ministry believes, would lessen the burden on students, who have to
prepare for different exams, which bring their own levels of stress.

ENVIRONMENT
India to launch mission to cut emissions
India will spare no efforts to contribute to the success of post-Copenhagen process, Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh declared on February 6, 2010, as he announced the launch of a National Mission on
Enhanced Energy Efficiency, aimed at cutting carbon emissions by 99 million tonnes. Within the ambit
of our National Action Plan on Climate Change, India has already unveiled one of the world's most
ambitious plans for promoting solar energy, targeting an installed capacity of 20,000 MW by the year
2022. The initiative is expected to lead to avoidance of capacity addition of nearly 20,000 MW and
reduce carbon dioxide emissions of almost 99 million tonnes.

LAW POINT
Courts do not need nod for CBI probe: SC
On February 17, 2010, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of courts’ powers to order
CBI probe without the consent of State governments but with a rider: the powers should be used
cautiously and sparingly. The five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan,
said that such powers have to be used sparingly in exceptional and extraordinary circumstances in
cases having national and international ramifications. Otherwise, the CBI will be flooded with such
directions in routine cases. Such powers are vested with the apex court and High courts to ensure
protection of fundamental rights of citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution, it said.

LEGISLATION
Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill
The proposed Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, which will replace the four decade-old Judges
Inquiry Act, has laid down 14 guidelines for judges. These guidelines will be called judicial standards.
Major highlights of the Bill are:
• No judge shall give an interview to the media in relation to any of his judgement delivered, or
order made, or direction issued, by him in any case adjudicated by him.
• No judge shall enter into a public debate or express his views in public on political matters,
except views expressed by a judge in his individual capacity on issues of public interest, other
than as a judge during a private discussion or at an academic forum.
• The Bill bars the judges from allowing any member of his family, who is a practising lawyer,
from using the residence in which the judge actually resides or use of any other facilities
provided to the judge, for professional work of any family member.
• The proposed law expects judges not to delay delivering a judgement beyond three months
after conclusion of arguments and have bias in judicial work or judgements on the basis of
religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
• Any wilful breach of judicial standards could be treated as misbehaviour and lead to a
disciplinary panel initiating proceedings against the erring judge.
• A complaint alleging misbehaviour or corruption would be referred to a scrutiny panel
comprising three judges. If the panel finds merit in any complaint, it would be forwarded to an
Oversight Committee, which after investigating the matter can refer it to the President for
initiating action against the judge.
N-liabilities Bill
In an important step towards the implementation of the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, the Union
government is to introduce a Bill to facilitate the entry of American companies in the nuclear sector.
The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2009 is commonly known as the nuclear liability Bill.

The Bill aims at limiting the liability of a nuclear plant operator to Rs 300 crore in the eventuality of an
accident and provides for appointing a claims commissioner with powers of a civil court to arbitrate
such cases. It also provides for the penalty to be paid by the operator and not the supplier companies,
which would mainly be American in this case.

The operator would not be liable for any nuclear damages if the incident is caused by “grave national
disaster of exceptional character”, armed conflict or an act of terrorism and is suffered by the person
on account of his own negligence.

The Bill also provides for the establishment of the Nuclear Damage Claims Commission, which will have
one or more claims commissioners for a specified area. The claims commissioner shall have all the
powers of a civil court for the purpose of taking evidence on oath, enforcing attendance of witnesses,
compelling the discovery and production of documents and other material objects.

Environment activists have described the attempt to cap the level of compensation for victims of a
nuclear accident as a violation of fundamental rights. Currently, the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, allows
the government-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India to operate nuclear power plants in the
country.

PLANNING & ECONOMY


Union Budget, 2010
On February 26, 2010, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee presented a Budget that broadly focused on
fiscal stabilization. The Union Budget was presented at a time when the Indian economy was on the
path of revival and almost all demand indicators had turned significantly positive. Investment and
consumption demand was also on a revival mode. The buoyancy in the manufacturing sector and up-
tick in import and export were also working well for economic growth prospects. In the current
economic scenario, what was required from the Budget was a further push for consumption and
investment. The Budget announcements tried to do just that.

Highlights:
• Additional Rs 1,65,000 cr for bank re-capitalisation
• Rs 3000 cr for agricultural impetus
• Farm loan payments to be extended for six months
• Fertilizer subsidy to be reduced
• Rs 100 cr woman farmer fund scheme
• Coal regulatory authority to be set up
• Clean energy fund to be established
• Interest subvention of 2% to be extended for handicrafts and SMEs
• Rs 200 cr for Tamil Nadu textile sector
• Interest subvention for housing loans up to 1 lacs
• Allocation to defence raised to Rs 1.47 lakh cr
• Defence capex raised to Rs 60,000 cr
• Divestment target of Rs 25,000 cr
• Rs 1200 cr assistance for drought in Bundelkhand
• Rs 48000 cr for Bharat Nirman
• NREGA scheme allocation raised to Rs 41,000 cr
• Allocation to health Rs 22,300 cr
• Allocation for school education up from Rs 26,800 cr to Rs 31036 cr
• Allocation to power sector at Rs 5130 cr
• Rs 10,000 cr allocated for Indira Awaas Yojna
• Social Security Fund to have corpus of over Rs 1000 cr
• Rs 2400 cr for MSMEs
• Government to contribute Rs 1000 per month for pension security
• Rs 5400 cr allocated for urban development
• Rs 66100 cr allocated for rural development
• Rs 1900 cr allocated for UID project
• Gross tax receipts Rs 7.46 lakh cr
• Government to set up National Mission for delivery of justice
• 15% rise in planned expenditure
• Fiscal deficit target of 5.5% in FY11
• Excise on all non smoking tobacco raised
• Televisions to be costlier
• Mobile phones to become cheaper
• Cement to be costlier
• Refrigerators to be costlier
• Jewellery to be more expensive
• Monorail granted project import status
• CDs to be cheaper
• Excise duty on CFL halved to 4%
• Bank farm loan target: Rs 3.75,lakh crore
• Nutrient based fertiliser subsidy scheme to come into force from April 1, 2010
• To build 20 km of highway every day
• Income tax on income upto Rs 1.6 lakh: Nil
• Income tax on income above Rs 1.6 lakh and upto Rs. 5 lakh: 10 per cent
• Income tax on income above Rs.5 lakh and upto Rs. 8 lakh: 20 per cent
• Income tax on income above Rs. 8 lakh: 30 per cent
Economic Survey 2010
• Economy likely to grow by up to 8.75 per cent in 2010-11.
• Full recovery; return to 9 per cent growth in 2011-12.
• Broad recovery gives scope for gradual stimulus roll back.
• High double-digit food inflation in 2009-10 major concern.
• Signs of food inflation spreading to other sectors.
• Farm & allied sector production falls 0.2% in 2009-10.
• Need serious policy initiatives for 4% agriculture growth.
• Moots direct food subsidy via food coupons to households.
• Favours making available food in open market.
• Favours monthly ration coupons usable anywhere for poor.
• Gross fiscal deficit pegged at 6.5 pc of GDP in 2009-10.
• India 10th largest gold holding nation at 557.7 tonnes.
• Exports in April-December 2009 down 20.3 per cent.
• Imports in April-December 2009 down 23.6 per cent.
• Trade gap narrowed to USD 76.24 bn in April-December.
• 32.5% savings & 34.9% investment (of GDP in 2008-09) put India in league of world's fastest
growing nations.
• Government initiates steps to boost private investment in agriculture.
• Wants credit available at reasonable rates on time for private sector to invest in agriculture.
• Slowdown in infrastructure that began in 2007, arrested.
• Domestic oil production to rise 11 per cent in 2009-10.
• Gas output up 52.8 per cent to 50.2 billion cubic meters with RIL starting production.
• India world's 2nd largest wireless network with 525.1 million mobile users.
• Virtually every second Indian has access to phone.
• Auction for 3G spectrum to provide existing and foreign players to bring in new technology and
innovations.
Railways Budget, 2010
Union Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee presented the Railways Budget, 2010, on February 24. No
change in passenger fares was announced—Planning Commission was pitching for a hike—and the freight
rates on select, but significant items such as kerosene and food grains, were cut to keep prices down.

54 new trains, including 10 Durantos, were announced. The Minister also promised to construct over
1,000 km of new rail lines over next one year.

The operating ratio, proportion of expenses to earnings, which was a healthy 75 per cent in 2007-08,
was up to 94.7 per cent in 2009-10. The Railways hope to bring it down to 92.3 per cent in 2010-11.
Though the budget proposes to raise net surplus from Rs 951.03 crore in 2009-10 to Rs 3,173 crore in
2010-11, these figures were called “peanuts” by experts when compared to the figures of some years
ago.

Only Rs 373.09 crore was provided for new projects. Many projects come with riders: they’re either
proposed in the public-private partnership (PPP) mode or are “subject to sanction by the Finance
Ministry and Planning Commission”.

Highlights:
• No increase in passenger fares.
• Rs.100 reduction in freight per wagon for fertilisers and kerosene.
• Free travel for cancer patients in 3rd AC classes.
• Cost-sharing in public-private-partnership (PPP) mode in some gauge-conversion projects.
• Further extension of Kolkata Metro on priority basis; stations to be named after Bahadur Shah
Zafar, Tagore family.
• Karmabhoomi trains to be introduced for migrant labour.
• New Janmabhoomi train between Ahmedabad and Udhampur.
• Special 'Bharat Teertha' train to be run around India to commemorate Rabindranath Tagore's
150th birth anniversary. A special train to be run from West Bengal to Bangladesh to
commemorate the anniversary.
• Railway line to be extended from Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh to Leh in Jammu and Kashmir.
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands to get railway line from Port Blair to Diglipur.
• Sikkim capital Gangtok to be connected by rail from Rangpo.
• Impact of Sixth Pay Commission recommendations placed at Rs.55,000 crore.
• Gross earnings in 2009-10 estimated at Rs.88,281 crore.
• Working expenditure in 2009-10 estimated at Rs.83,440 crore.
• Expenses during 2010-11 estimated at Rs.87,100 crore.
• Thrust on expansion in 2010-11 with allocation of Rs.4,411 crore.
• Net profit of Rs.1,328 crore in 2009-10.
• Ten automobile ancillary hubs to be created.
• Policy decision to employ one member of family whose land is requisitioned for railway
projects.
• North-south, east-west dedicated freight corridors to be created.
• Centre for railway research to be established with Indian Institutes of Technology and Defence
Research and Development Organisation.
• Design, development and testing centre for railway wheels at Bangalore.
• Five sports academies to be set up; astroturf to be provided for development of hockey;
employment opportunities for sports persons.
• Railways to be lead partner for Commonwealth Games.
13th Finance Commission
The Union government has accepted most of the recommendations of the Thirteenth Finance
Commission headed by former Finance Secretary Vijay Kelkar.

The Commission has told governments at the Centre and States to set their fiscal house in order, even
as it raised the share of taxes that the States would be entitled to receive over the next five years by
1.5 percentage points.

In addition, the Commission, a Constitutional body that is appointed every five years to recommend a
tax-sharing formula between the Centre and States, has suggested a roadmap for the introduction of a
single-rate goods and services tax (GST), the key indirect tax reform to create a common market in
India.

Its stringent new roadmap for fiscal responsibility suggests, among other things, that the overall debt
of the Centre and States be capped at 68 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) from the current 82
per cent, and 75 per cent recommended by the Twelfth Finance Commission.

The Finance Commission has recommended that the Centre reduce debt to 45 per cent of GDP by
March 2015, against 54.2 per cent at present. For States the reduction in debt is recommended at 2
percentage points to 25 per cent. The relatively less stringent condition for States comes with the rider
that the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act allows the Centre to borrow on behalf of the
States to help them counter macro-economic shocks. During the financial crisis, the Centre had relaxed
the cap on the fiscal deficit.

The Finance Commission has said the Centre should transfer 32 per cent of the taxes it collects to
States, against 30.5 per cent at present. The overall ceiling— including transfers to local bodies—on
transfers from the Centre’s gross revenue has been raised from 38 to 39.5 per cent.

Among proposals that provide a thrust to fiscal federalism, the commission has recommended that
local bodies receive up to 2.5 per cent of the divisible tax pool. Of this, up to 1 per cent can be
incentive-linked.

While there is more reason for the States to cheer since the commission proposes an increase in grants,
much of it is tied to specific spending programmes such as those for elementary education and
environment. There is, however, a performance incentive of Rs 1,500 crore for Assam, Sikkim and
Uttarakhand and a grant of Rs 51,800 crore to meet the deficits of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal
Pradesh and the north-eastern States (excluding Assam).

Like its predecessor, the Thirteenth Finance Commission has recommended a debt relief scheme for
the States. The first element is to cap the interest rate on a part of the loans from the National Small
Savings Fund at 9 per cent from up to 10.5 per cent. This will translate into a benefit of Rs 28,360
crore to the States. In addition, there is a Rs 4,506 crore benefit with the government accepting the
suggestion to write off central loans that are not administered by the finance ministry but were
outstanding at the end of 2009-10.

Including the higher grants-in-aid, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra would be the
biggest beneficiaries in terms of share of transfers. Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and
Kashmir would be the top losers.

The Finance Commission has projected that tax receipts would see a compounded annual growth rate
of over 17 per cent between March 2010 and March 2015, while nominal GDP growth is estimated at
13.2 per cent.

Prescribing a zero revenue deficit as the golden rule, the Commission has recommended that the
endeavour for all States should be to reach that level by 2014-15.

Union Cabinet raises Urea prices


On February 18, 2010, the Union government decided to raise urea prices by 10 per cent. It also
allowed the industry to fix retail prices of other subsidised fertilisers, while limiting the government’s
subsidy burden under a new policy that will determine the subsidy on phosphorus and potash based on
their nutrients.

The decision, to take effect from April 1, 2010, will help the government reduce its fertiliser subsidy
bill, estimated at Rs 50,000 crore for 2009-10. But, the move will hit farmers, even as fertiliser
companies will stand to gain. The latest decision does away with the practice of government fixing a
maximum retail price and aims at replacing the current system of giving subsidy to the industry with
direct assistance to farmers.

The switch to the nutrient-based fertiliser plan is significant as companies will now be able to change
retail prices of only nutrient-based fertilisers (nitrogen, phosphorus, potash and sulphur), which will
help the government cap the subsidy on these fertilisers. The move is also expected to attract fresh
investment in the fertiliser industry.

The government’s annual subsidy bill on fertilisers in 2008-09 was estimated at Rs 75,849 crore, which
was expected to be brought down to Rs 49,980 crore in 2009-10. The bulk of the increase in the
fertiliser subsidy is on account of the sale of decontrolled fertiliser with concession to farmers. Urea
accounts for about 30 per cent of the total fertiliser subsidy burden.

POLITICAL
Justice Srikrishna committee to look into formation of Telangana
The Union government has set-up a five-member committee headed by Justice B.N. Srikrishna to look
into the modalities of forming the separate State of Telangana. The committee has been given time till
December 31, 2010 to consult all sections of the society and submit report. The terms of reference of
the committee are:
• Examine the situation in Andhra Pradesh with reference to demand for separate Telangana
State, as well as the demand for maintaining the present status of a united Andhra Pradesh.
• Review developments in the State since its formation and their impact on the progress and
development of different regions of the State.
• Examine the impact of recent developments in the State on different sections of people such as
women, children, students, minorities, OBCs, SC and STs.
• Consult all sections of people, especially political parties and elicit their views on a range of
solutions that would resolve the present difficult situation.
• Identify the key issues that must be addressed.
• Consult organisations of other civil societies such as industries, trade unions, farmer
organisations, women students.
• Make any other suggestion and recommendations that the committee may deem appropriate.
• The protagonists of separate State, however, rejected the terms of reference of the Justice
Srikrishna committee and vowed to intensify their agitation. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi
(TRS), which has been spearheading the statehood agitation, struck a belligerent note and
announced that its MPs, MLAs and MLCs would resign in protest.
• Rejecting the terms of reference and the ten-month time frame given for the committee, the
TRS chief said the Centre had once again cheated the people of Telangana by backtracking on
its December 9, 2009 statement announcing initiation of the process for formation of separate
State.
Taking serious objection to the inclusion of the demand for continuation of united Andhra Pradesh
among the terms of reference, he said: “what is the point in looking into the demand for united Andhra
Pradesh when it already exists now? There is only one popular movement going on in the State and that
is for separate Telangana State.”

However, the leaders from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions found comfort in the open-ended
nature of the panel’s terms. “We welcome the terms of reference, which are fairly balanced. It will
give an opportunity for a thorough assessment of the ground situation,” a ruling Congress MP from
coastal Andhra region said.

FOREIGN RELATIONS
Asian group endorses seat to India in UN Council
India's candidacy for a non-permanent seat in the Security Council has been endorsed by all 53 member
States of the Asian group in the UN General Assembly. Nineteen countries, including Nepal, Sri Lanka,
Afghanistan and Bangladesh, spoke in favour of giving India a slot on the Security Council table from
January 2011.

In January 2010, India's path to a non-permanent seat got cleared after its sole competitor from Asia,
Kazakhstan, backed out of the race.

The Security Council is made up of 15 States—five permanent members who have the veto power and
15 non-permanent members elected for a two-year term. To win, India needs two-thirds of the General
Assembly vote, which adds up to about 128 counties saying yes to India's presence in the Council.

Running after more than a decade, India orchestrated a year-long campaign led by India’s envoy to the
UN Hardeep Singh Puri, who campaigned in New York and at multilateral events at the United Nations.

The last time India had a seat at the Council was in 1992. In 1996, Japan won with India trailing behind
with approximately 40 votes.

Visit of Nepalese President


President of Nepal Ram Baran Yadav visited New Delhi from February 15, 2010. In an effort to make the
visit a truly successful event, India offered a 250-million dollar soft loan through EXIM Bank and signed
four major accords with the Himalayan nation.
India also offered to supply 50,000 tonne of wheat, 20,000 tonne of rice and 10,000 tonne of yellow
peas to its neighbour. An additional 2,000 tonne of wheat would be provided to Nepal, if required.

The four accords signed by the two countries are: new air services agreement, MOU on development of
railway infrastructure at five border points, MOU on development of India-Nepal friendship polytechnic
at Hetavda in Makwanpur district of Nepal; and MOU on establishment of India-Nepal friendship
convention centre at Birgunj in Nepal.

During the delegation-level talks, the Indian Prime Minister hoped that the peace process and drafting
of the constitution would be completed in Nepal as per the schedule. Sixty-two-year-old India-
educated Yadav expressed his gratitude to the Indian leadership for assisting his country in its
economic development.

The Presidential visit came on the eve of a new constitution the Nepal government has pledged to
promulgate in May 2010. Nepal's fragile peace process that began after a decade of insurgency is
expected to be consolidated by the new statute. However, hiccups continue, with the Maoists now
saying they will agree to the rehabilitation of their guerrilla army, the People's Liberation Army (PLA),
only after the new statute came into effect.

Talks with Pakistan end without much headway


A breakthrough eluded India and Pakistan at the Foreign Secretary-level talks with New Delhi rejecting
Islamabad’s plea for the resumption of the composite dialogue process (CDP) and handing over three
fresh dossiers to the neighbouring country linking elements in Pakistan, including JuD chief Hafiz
Saeed, with terrorist activities on the Indian soil.

At the first official dialogue between the two countries after a 14-month hiatus, on February 25, 2010,
India focused on terrorism emanating from the Pakistani territory, while Pakistan raised the Kashmir,
water and Baluchistan issues.

The three-hour talks, seen by diplomatic observers more as an exercise in scoring brownie points by the
two sides, ended with Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir
announcing at separate press briefings that they would remain in touch and continue endeavours to
restore trust in the relationship. However, it was quite clear from the statements of the two top
diplomats that they would have to cover a lot of distance in putting the peace process between the
two neighbours back on track.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Saudi Arabia


On February 26, 2010, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh became the first Indian Prime Minister in 28
years to visit Saudi Arabia. During the visit, Saudi Arabia expressed concerns over extremism in
Pakistan as New Delhi and Riyadh firmed up a strategic partnership.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unveiled a roadmap for comprehensive economic partnership as he
addressed captains of industry from both the countries.

Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, who had a discussion with Singh, later spoke of the “dangerous
trend” of extremism in Pakistan and made it clear that Riyadh had nothing to do with the Taliban.
Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were among the few countries that had recognised the Taliban regime in
Afghanistan.

The Saudi minister said, “Pakistan is a friendly country. Therefore, any time one does see dangerous
trends in a friendly country, one is not only sorry but worried. And it is indeed the duty of all political
leaders in Pakistan to unite to see that extremism does not find a way to achieve its aim in the country
and this can only happen with united political leadership in Pakistan. This, we hope, Pakistan will
possibly achieve.”

India sees Saudi Arabia as a strategic partner for promoting peace, stability and economic
development. Such a partnership will bring benefits not only to the two countries but to the region.
After discussions between Mr Singh and King Abduallah, the two sides signed the Riyadh declaration.

The Delhi Declaration, signed during the historic visit of King Abdullah to India in 2006 as the chief
guest on India's Republic Day, had charted out a new path of cooperation between India and Saudi
Arabia across a range of fields including security, bilateral trade and investment, culture, science and
technology. According to the new declaration, keeping in view the development of relations between
the two countries, and the potential for their further growth, the two leaders decided to raise their
cooperation to a strategic partnership covering security, economic, defence and political areas.

Visit of President of Turkey


The Turkish President, Abdullah Gul, visited India on February 9, 2010 and held wide-ranging talks with
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on all issues of mutual interest, including the international situation.
Apart from the declaration on terrorism, the two countries issued a document on cooperation in the
field of science and technology.

Days after keeping New Delhi out of the Istanbul conference on Afghanistan at the instance of Pakistan,
Turkish President Abdullah Gul sought to placate India by strongly endorsing its position on the issue of
terrorism.

Turkey is the first Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) member to support India’s call for early
conclusion of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, which finds a mention in the
joint declaration on terrorism. Turkey’s position is being seen as a major departure from that of OIC,
which is not willing to exclude armed forces from the purview of the convention.

On Afghanistan, the Turkish President praised the role being played by India in the reconstruction plan
in the embattled nation.

India, UK ink N-pact


On February 11, 2010, India signed a civil-nuclear cooperation declaration with Britain, making it the
eighth country to sign such a pact with New Delhi after India secured approval of the Nuclear Suppliers’
Group (NSG) to undertake nuclear commerce in September, 2008. It is a general umbrella agreement
on civil-nuclear cooperation between the two countries.

India has already signed nuclear deals with France, the USA, Russia, Kazakhstan, Namibia, Mongolia and
Argentina. A nuclear agreement between India and Canada has also been finalised. Germany and South
Korea have also expressed their desire to cooperate with India in the field of civil-nuclear energy.

The pact is expected to provide legal framework to British companies to export components and
products.

RESERVATIONS
Andhra HC quashes quota for Muslims
In a major setback to the Andhra Pradesh government’s Muslim reservation policy, the High Court, on
February 8, 2010, struck down a legislation providing four per cent quota for the minority community in
jobs and educational institutions.

A seven-member constitutional bench headed by Chief Justice A.R. Dave found fault with the way the
survey was conducted by the Backward Classes Commission, whose recommendations had formed the
basis for quota policy.

The State Assembly had passed the legislation in July 2007 providing four per cent reservation for
socially and educationally backward Muslims by including them among backward classes. The quota was
made applicable to 15 Muslim groups identified by the Andhra Pradesh Backward Classes Commission as
socially and educationally backward. These were categorised as BC-E Group for the purpose of
providing reservation.

Acting on a bunch of writ petitions filed by several individuals and organisations challenging the
legislation, the court—in a majority verdict—termed the commission’s survey as “irrational and
unscientific” and held the legislation as “unsustainable”.

TERRORISM; LAW & ORDER


Maharashtra, West Bengal ‘poor performers’ in fight against naxalites
Maharashtra and West Bengal, which have been hit by terrorist and Maoist violence, are among the
seven States that have fared poorly in modernising their police force. According to official documents,
put together by the Home Ministry, Maharashtra and West Bengal have been labelled as “poor
performing States” as they failed to use the funds sanctioned to them by the Centre for upgrading their
police force and intelligence apparatus.

The Centre earmarked Rs 1,230 crore for 2009-10 for the scheme for modernisation of the State police
forces (MPF), which is meant primarily to equip State governments to deal with emerging challenges to
internal security like terrorism and naxal violence.

The poor performing States have outdated and obsolete weapons and even the extremist-prone police
stations are often not supplied with modern weapons, and even when it is supplied police personnel
are not trained to use them. Their police communication network does not function efficiently, they do
not have enough vehicles and their forensic laboratories lack proper infrastructure.

CURRENT INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

DISASTER
Chile hit by 8.8 magnitude earthquake
On February 27, 2010, more than two million people were affected in some way and more than 300
people were killed as an 8.8-magnitude earthquake hit coastal Chile. Santiago, capital of Chile, is 200
325 km northeast of the epicentre.

The quake was 700 to 800 times stronger, but at a greater depth—35 km—compared to the shallow 14
km depth of the Haiti quake, which contributed towards much of the damage there.

Coastal Chile has a history of deadly earthquakes, with 13 quakes of magnitude 7.0 or higher since
1973. As a result, experts said that newer buildings are constructed to help withstand the shocks. Still,
the damage from Chile's earthquake was widespread. A 15-story high rise near the southern city of
Concepción collapsed; the country's major north-south highway was severed at multiple points; and the
capital city's airport was closed after its terminal sustained major damage.

The epicentre was just a few kilometres north of the largest earthquake recorded in the world: a
magnitude 9.5 quake in May 1960 that killed 1,655 and unleashed a tsunami that crossed the Pacific.

WORLD ECONOMY
US Fed signals end to emergency liquidity
On February 20, 2010, the US Federal Reserve Board sent its most explicit signal yet that the
emergency supply of liquidity to financial markets is done and the most aggressive monetary policy
easing in its 96-year history will eventually reverse. Chairman Ben S Bernanke and his colleagues at the
Board of Governors raised the rate charged to banks for direct loans by a quarter-point to 0.75 per
cent. It was the first increase in the discount rate since June 2006.

The Fed portrayed the decision as a “normalization” of lending that would have no impact on monetary
policy. The assurances didn’t stop investors from increasing bets that the Fed would tighten policy in
the fourth quarter. The dollar rose and US stock futures fell after the announcement.

US central bankers closed four emergency lending facilities in February 2010 and are preparing to
reverse or neutralize the more than $1 trillion in excess bank reserves they have pumped into the
banking system. The discount-rate increase will encourage banks to borrow in private markets rather
than from the Fed. In any case, financial institutions have reduced their reliance on the Fed window.
Banks had borrowed $14.1 billion as of February 17, 2010, representing less than 1 per cent of the
central bank’s $2.28 trillion in total assets. A year ago, borrowing stood at $65.1 billion.

Greek debt crisis tests euro zone


The euro, the single currency that 16 EU (European Union) countries share, is usually highlighted as one
of the main achievements of the European project; a rare example of “success” in what has
increasingly become a beleaguered tale of EU infighting and lack of vision. But, a threatening debt
crisis, with Greece as the main offender, has put the euro-zone to test like never before in its 11-year-
long history. February 2010 saw the euro coming in for a pummelling, sending ripple across global
markets.

However, it is the political crisis that is posing a question mark before the very future of the EU. The
result is a monetary union that features a common currency without a matching fiscal or political
union. Thus, although the European Central Bank sets interest rates for the euro-zone, it does so in a
vacuum, with constituent governments retaining control over fiscal and economic policy.

The large disparities between euro-zone nations have been thrown into sharp relief by the global
economic crisis. On the one hand, you have the unflatteringly named PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece
and Spain), all of whom are finding accruing debt increasingly expensive, leading to the spectre of
State bankruptcy. The worst of the lot is Greece. Its economy shrank by 1.2 per cent in 2009. Having
been found out to be cooking its books for years, Greece’s public debt is expected to break 120 per
cent of output.

The poor economic condition of the PIGS, in particular Greece, has thrown up a conundrum for the
large, surplus economies of the euro-zone like France, Germany and the Netherlands.

There are three options on the table, none of which are finding immediate takers. The first is to issue a
common euro-zone bond, which would be placed at Greece’s disposal. But countries with good credit,
like Germany, are opposed to the idea because of the higher interest rates that would result.

An alternative is giving bilateral financial aid with economically healthy countries in the euro-zone
taking out loans on the financial market at good rates and passing these on to Greece.

The final option is an old-style IMF bailout, perhaps the most sensible of the choices. But, for the IMF
to come to Greece’s rescue would be a slap in the face of EU, implying that it cannot take care of its
own house and requires an institution that has always been sceptical of the euro to act as saviour.

Basic Capabilities Index 2009


The Basic Capabilities Index (BCI), 2009, has found that South Asia will get 80 points on the index by
2015, 10 points higher than the present value of 70. India received 68 points in the index, an increase
of meagre four points since 2004.

The global NGO Social Watch’s index of 130 countries says 100 points defines well-being of the citizens
based on children getting education till primary level, child mortality rate and percentage of births
attended by skilled labourers. The BCI does not use income as an indicator.

According to the index, South Asia, a region with worst BCI in 2004, has been making fast progress, but
the situation is still “extremely critical”. Since 2004, the report said, one-third of the countries failed
to raise their BCI value by more than one per cent and only one out of six countries showed significant
progress.

The index also tells about the increasing gap in living standards of rich and poor in the world. The
highest BCI is 97 of Iran and lowest is 44 of Chad in Africa, followed by Afghanistan, Ethopia,
Bangladesh and Nepal.

Japan still world’s second largest economy


Retaining its position as the world's second largest economy, the Japanese economy grew at a faster-
than-expected pace of 1.1 per cent in the last three months of 2009.

China, the fastest-growing large economy, clocked a growth of 10.7 per cent in the December 2009
quarter, bringing it at a sniffing distance to surpass Japan as the second largest economy in the world.

Japan’s economy, which is primarily exports-driven, rose 1.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2009. On
an annual basis, GDP expanded a much higher pace at 4.6 per cent. For the whole of 2009, the
Japanese economy shrank 5 per cent and is valued at 474.92 trillion yen (about $5.1 trillion). The
better-than-expected Japanese growth in the December 2009 quarter was mainly driven by better
exports and effects of stimulus measures. To bolster the recession-hit economy, Japan had unveiled
stimulus measures worth over $130 billion.
NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION
Iranian President declares Iran a nuclear State
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared on February 11, 2010, that Iran had produced its
first batch of 20 per cent enriched uranium, amidst a growing view in the West that Tehran is bluffing.

“Iran was now a nuclear State,” Ahmadinejad told a huge rally of supporters on the 31st anniversary of
the Islamic Revolution. Experts say that once Iran can enrich uranium to 20 per cent it should move
relatively quickly toward 90 per cent purification, weapons-grade fuel.

Former U.S. officials and independent nuclear experts say continued technical problems could delay—
though probably not halt—Iran’s march towards achieving nuclear-weapons capability, giving the US
and its allies more time to press for a diplomatic solution.

While Iran says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful, Western nations suspect that the country is
intent on developing an atomic bomb.

CURRENT NATIONAL AFFAIRS - JANUARY 2010


CURRENT NATIONAL AFFAIRS - JANUARY 2010
AGRICULTURE
Bt Brinjal controversy
Faced with vehement protests by farmer groups and the green lobby, as also some States, the Union
government has decided to freeze the introduction of Bt Brinjal in the country till independent
scientific studies established health and environment safety of the product to the satisfaction of both
public and experts.

Although India’s biotechnology regulator, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), has
cleared Bt brinjal for regular agriculture purposes, the detractors say that the variety may have passed
the yield test and the pest-resistance analysis, but its edibility is yet to be confirmed.

Three major brinjal producing States, West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, which account for nearly 60 per
cent of the produce, have also refused to endorse the product. The governments of Madhya Pradesh
and Chhattisgarh also specified that they would not have Bt Brinjal in their States.

The variety has been developed by Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds. It has been created by inserting gene
from the soil bacterium bacillus thuringiensis into brinjal, which is said to give the plant resistance
against insect pests.

BANKING & FINANCE


RBI monetary policy review
There is a shift in RBI’s monetary policy stance to managing the revival of the economy from managing
the crisis. In its review on January 29, 2010, the central bank has accepted a 7.5% growth with 8.5%
inflation.

RBI is worried about the high inflation rate but its governor D. Subbarao pointed out that it is mainly on
account of supply side constraints. The condition could further deteriorate. "With growth accelerating
in the second half of 2009-10 and expected to gain momentum over the next year, capacity constraints
could potentially reinforce supply side inflationary pressure," the review document said.
Therefore, the Reserve Bank's new shift in the policy stance from managing the risk to managing the
recovery made it to take a relatively milder action to increase the cash reserve ratio by 0.75
percentage point to take out Rs 36,000 crore from the system. Besides that, it did not take any harsh
measure.

On the food inflation front, the central bank pinned its hope on good rabi crop and good monsoon in
2010. Assuming a normal monsoon, it expected inflation to moderate from July 2010 onward.

At the same time, RBI expressed its worry over the industrial growth, as it is not broad based, and
underlined the need for consolidating it. The RBI's document on macro-economic development showed
that while industries like food products, beverages, tobacco and related products showed a negative
growth, industries like basic metals & alloys and paper & paper products were still decelerating. On the
other hand, the RBI document showed industries like transport equipment, rubber, petroleum, textile
products and a host of other industries were growing.

PLANNING & ECONOMY


Rural poor estimated at 42%
Agriculture sector in India continues to suffer, save for sharp growth in some years. The expert group
to review the methodology for estimation of poverty, chaired by Suresh Tendulkar, has now suggested
that the poverty ratio at the all India level was actually 37.2% in 2004-05.

Rural poverty was projected at 41.8% and urban at 25.7% by the committee, as against official
estimates of 28.3% and 25.7% for rural and urban population, respectively.

In the past, the poverty line was defined in terms of per capita consumer expenditure at 1973-74
market prices and adjusted over time and across States for changes in prices keeping unchanged the
original 1973-74 reference poverty line baskets of goods and services. The all-India rural and urban
poverty line baskets were derived separately, assuming per capita daily calorie intake of 2,400 for rural
people and 2,100 for urban population.

The Tendulkar panel has made four major departures from the past practices. It moved away from the
calorie intake criteria for determining poverty line. Instead, it tests for adequacy of actual food
expenditure near the poverty line to ensure aggregate nutrition, rather than just calories.

Two, it has recommended adoption of uniform PLB for the urban and rural population, breaking away
from the past practice of two separate baskets. This has been done to get rid of the problem of
outdated PLB, a major criticism of the existing poverty line.

Three, it has suggested a new price adjustment procedure based in the same data set as the one used
for poverty estimation, rejecting the earlier practice of using price indices that are generated
externally, specific to population segments and were outdated.

And four, it incorporates explicit provision in the price expenditure on health and education, which in
any case has been rising. The official poverty estimate, in contrast, assumes basic health care and
education services would be provided by the State, and although the 1973-74 base takes note of the
private expenditure on these items, it does not take into account the increase in the proportion for
total expenditure over the years.
The Tendulkar panel has also recommended that 365-day mixed reference period be used to collect
data instead of the past practice of using 30-day uniform reference period. The advantage of using MRP
is that data integrity is better when respondents are asked about their expenditure in the 365 days
prior to the survey, particularly on items of low frequency consumption such as clothes, footwear and
durables, than when they are questioned on expenditure on the preceding 30 days.

Nutrient-based subsidy policy cleared


The Union government has approved the Nutrient Based Fertiliser Subsidy (NBS) plan with effect from
April 1, 2010. This is likely to have positive sentimental impact on share prices of fertiliser companies.
Under the new policy, the companies can fix retail fertiliser prices. However the urea prices will be
increased by Rs 483 per tonne or 10 per cent.

“The hike in urea prices is not going to impact the bottom-line or EPS of fertiliser companies as extra
10 per cent will go from farmer’s pocket directly. However, looking at the shift in policy, it’s a big
positive for the industry,” said an analyst.

Fertilisers are sold at government-fixed prices, which are lower than their costs of production or
import. The difference is met through subsidy. The NBS does away with maximum retail price. It
proposes to replace the current system of giving subsidy to the industry with direct assistance to
farmers.

Solar Mission launched


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launched India’s Solar Energy Mission (named Jawaharlal Nehru
National Solar Mission) on January 11, 2010. The main aim of the mission is to help generate 20,000 MW
of solar power by 2022.

The Prime Minister urged the industry to create ‘Solar Valleys’ on the lines of Silicon Valleys and asked
business houses to view the Solar Energy Mission as a business opportunity. He added that the success
of the mission had the potential of transforming India’s energy prospects while contributing to national
and global efforts to combat climate change.

The solar mission assumes important because it holds the centre-stage of the country’s activities to
combat climate change. The mission is an important part of the country’s National Action Plan on
Climate Change and is trying to establish the country as a global leader in solar energy, not just in
terms of solar power generation but also in solar manufacturing and generation of this technology.

The mission targets 1,100 MW grid solar power, 7 million sq meter solar collectors and 200 MW off grid
solar applications in first phase by 2013, and 20,000 MW grid solar power, 20 million sq m solar
collectors and 2,000 MW off grid solar applications by the year 2022.

New adult literacy mission gets under-way


The Union government has chosen 19 States to start adult literacy classes under the all-new Sakshar
Bharat Mission, which the Prime Minister launched in September 2009.

The mission, with a whopping budgetary support of $1 billion, seeks to educate 70 million illiterates by
2012; 60 million being women. Its first phase began on January 15, 2010 in 167 districts of 19 States,
which have, in the past, displayed commitment to adult literacy.
The selected States are the ones that continued to stress adult literacy even after the old National
Literacy Mission (NLM) was disbanded. Some States like Punjab and Himachal neglected the sector,
with none having any ongoing adult literacy component or programme.

The mission aims to achieve 100 per cent literacy in 365 low literacy districts where adult female
literacy rate is 50 per cent less as per the 2001 census. The final goal, however, is to take national
literacy level from 64 per cent to 80 per cent by 2017, and reduce the gender gap from 21 to 10 per
cent. In the first phase, Rajasthan has clinched the maximum number of projects for 31 districts. Close
behind is Uttar Pradesh with projects for 26 districts, Andhra Pradesh 18, Gujarat 13 and Uttarakhand
five.

The focus will be on learning beyond reading, writing and arithmetic to include life skills and
employment as part of adult literacy. The idea is to retain learners and not lose them to lack of post-
literacy avenues.

Another thing that sets the Sakshar Bharat Mission apart from the NLM is its complete ownership with
the Gram Panchayat. The past programme was controlled by districts, which used to get certificates
for compliance. Now the programme will be run and monitored by Panchayats and learners will be the
king.

Social Situation Report


With over 40 per cent of people in India still living on less than $1.25 (around Rs 60) a day, India now
stands third in terms of the highest proportion of extremely poor people in South Asia, next only to
Nepal and Bangladesh, with corresponding percentages at 54.7 and 50.5, respectively.

The latest UN Report on the World Social Situation 2010, places India below Pakistan, Myanmar and Sri
Lanka in terms of extreme poverty. Pakistan is the only nation in the sector to have achieved the
Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of cutting poverty by half between 1990 and 2015. It had 73 per
cent of the people in ‘extreme poverty’ 15 years ago; it now has 22.6 per cent as against its MDG
target of 29.3 per cent.

India is lagging on the front, and must have an annual poverty reduction rate of 4.7 per cent (between
2005 and 2015) against 1.4 between 1990 and 2005 if it wants to meet the MDG target of 27 per cent;
so far it has touched only 41.6 per cent. Rural India has 43.8 per cent of the people in extreme poverty
as against 36.2 per cent in urban areas.

This underlines the need for inclusive growth in India, as stated by the UN report, which credits China,
and to some extent India, for reduced global poverty in the past two decades when the number of
people living on less than $1.25 a day came down from 1.9 billion to 1.4 billion.

EDUCATION
Forty four deemed universities to be de-recognised
The HRD Ministry has decided to de-recognize as many as 44 "Deemed Universities", spelling uncertainty
for nearly two lakh students who are enrolled with them. The Ministry's decision amounts to an
acknowledgement of irregularities in conferring the "deemed" tag to these institutions under the first
UPA government in which Arjun Singh was the HRD minister.

These deemed Universities were found deficient on many grounds—ranging from lack of infrastructure
to lack of evidence of expertise in disciplines they claim to specialize in.

The HRD Ministry emphasized that the affected students would be taken care of. The Ministry's task
force has recommended that institutions not found fit for deemed University status "revert to status
quo ante as an affiliated college of the State University of jurisdiction so that students would be able
to complete their ongoing courses and obtain degree from the affiliating University." Similarly, medical
and dental colleges not found suitable can affiliate to State University or State medical University.

In case, the institution is unable to obtain affiliation, efforts would be made to facilitate the
migration/re-enrolment of the affected students in other institutions. Doctoral students will have to
re-register in affiliating Universities and those in distance education should either go to IGNOU or State
open Universities. While these safeguards have been recommended, the students are nonetheless likely
to go through a phase of uncertainty as they move from one University to another.

Tamil Nadu has the distinction of having 16 of the 44 de-recognized deemed Universities, 15 of them
private and one government-sponsored.

Karnataka has six de-recognized deemed Universities; Uttar Pradesh four; Haryana, Uttarakhand,
Rajasthan and Maharashtra three each; Gujarat, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Bihar, one each. The
three government-run institutions to be de-recognized are: Nava Nalanda Mahavira in Bihar, Rajiv
Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development, Tamil Nadu, and National Museum Institute of the
History of Art, Conservation and Musicology, New Delhi.

National Knowledge Network


The Union government has approved the setting up of a National Knowledge Network (NKN) that will
connect all major educational institutions like the IITs, the IIMs and top universities for exchange of
information and research.

One of the important recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) is to inter-
connect all knowledge institutions through high speed data communication network. This would
encourage sharing of knowledge, specialised resources and collaborative research. The government’s
decision to set up such a network was announced in 2008-09 and an initial amount of Rs.100 crore was
allocated to the Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and IT for this.

The architecture of the NKN will be scalable and the network will consist of an ultra-high speed core
(multiples of 10Gbps and upwards) to provide a nationwide ultra high-speed data-network highway.
The IT mesh will connect around 1,500 institutions and the setting up of core network is expected to be
completed in a span of two years.

The network will enable scientists, researches and students from diverse spheres across the country to
work together for advancing human development in critical and emerging areas.

Health, education, grid computing, agriculture and e-governance are the main applications identified
for implementation and delivery on NKN.

Model rules for RTE Act


On January 30, 2010, the Union government approved model rules for the Right to Education Act 2009,
which requires State governments to make free and compulsory elementary education a right of every
child between 6 and 14 years of age.

The model rules, list priorities for States, which would have to conform to the standards under the Act
within three years of its commencement; non-conformation could bring de-recognition. The Act,
passed by the Parliament in August 2009, is yet to be officially notified though.

To begin with, the rules ask school management committees or the local authorities to identify
children, who have never been to school or not managed to complete elementary education, and
arrange for their special training in appropriate classes so that they can ultimately be integrated into
the system. Any child above 6 years of age will be entitled to free special training either at school or
residential facility, before he/she is ready to enter school at a convenient level. Such children would
be allowed to complete elementary education even after they have attained 14 years, for the obvious
reasons that they enter the school late.

At least one primary school (class I to V) must be located within a km of walking distance of the
neighbourhood; for schools with classes VI to VIII, this distance would be three km. States need to
provide more neighbourhood schools in highly populated areas and ensure safety of students in areas
with tough terrains.

But before a school comes up, the States would have to undertake a mapping to identify all children in
remote areas, including those from disadvantaged groups. This must be done in a year and the data
updated every year.

For the first time, the law mandates maintenance of records of all children from birth to 14 years of
age through a household survey to be updated every year. The rules further prescribe strict norms for
non-segregation of students and safe transport for disabled children to ensure that they attend school.

Also, there is flexibility on birth certificate for admission. If formal birth record is not available, an
affidavit would suffice, so would a hospital/ANM or anganwari record.

Adequate qualification for teachers has been stressed upon, with the academic authority (to be set up
under the Act) to enlist the qualifications for teachers, who would get five years to upgrade their skills.
An important part of the rules pertains to specifications on recognition of elementary level schools.
The Act will, for the first time, mandates recognition of such schools within three years of the
commencement.

ENVIRONMENT
India submits proposed carbon cuts to UN
On January 30, 2010, India submitted its proposed emission intensity cut targets by 20-25 per cent by
2020 to the UN, a day before the world body’s January 31 deadline for submitting the climate change
mitigation steps under the Copenhagen Accord.

However, it made it clear to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC) that all its domestic mitigation actions were entirely voluntary in nature and not
legally binding, a position India had maintained at Copenhagen Summit in Denmark.

Though agriculture sector contributes around 14 per cent of the total GHG emissions, India has kept it
out of the purview of the mitigations actions in its blueprint submitted to the UN to ensure food
security.

LAW POINT
CJI comes under RTI ambit, says Delhi HC bench
In an unusual display of checks and balances within the judiciary, the Delhi High Court, on January 12,
2010, rejected the contention of the Supreme Court that the office of the Chief Justice of India was
beyond the ambit of the Right to Information Act.

A full bench of the High Court, comprising Chief Justice A.P. Shah, Justice Vikramjit Sen and Justice S.
Muralidhar, unanimously dispelled the fear raised by the apex court that the extension of RTI to the
CJI’s office would undermine judicial independence.

Referring to a resolution adopted by Supreme Court judges in 1997, a resolution adopted by a


conference of Chief Justices in 1999 and the UN-sponsored 2001 Bangalore principles of judicial
conduct, the HC said, ‘‘Well defined and publicly known standards and procedures complement, rather
than diminish, the notion of judicial independence.’’

The HC verdict came in the context of the prolonged controversy over whether the declarations of
assets made by judges should be put in the public domain.

Free to criticize religions but without hate


In a significant ruling, a three-judge bench of the Bombay High Court has held that in India criticism of
any religion—be it Islam, Hinduism, Christianity or any other—is permissible under the fundamental
right to freedom of speech and that a book cannot be banned on those grounds alone.

However, the criticism must be bona fide or academic, said the Court, as it upheld a ban issued in 2007
by the Maharashtra government on a book titled “Islam—A Concept of Political World Invasion by
Muslims.” The book contained an “aggravated form of criticism made with a malicious and deliberate
intention” to outrage the feelings of Muslims, the Court said.

Delivering the landmark verdict, the Court upheld the State’s ban on a book but at the same time
brought joy to civil rights activists when it held that, “in our country, everything is open to criticism
and religion is no exception. Freedom of expression covers criticism of religion and no person can be
sensitive about it.”

The Court also found “totally unacceptable” the author’s argument that banning the book in the age of
the internet is passe and pointless.

FOREIGN RELATIONS
India-ASEAN trade treaty gets operational
The Union government has notified the rules to operationalise the India-ASEAN free trade agreement,
which came into effect from January 1, 2010. The rules specify that products having more than 35 per
cent of local content will get preferential tax treatment under the free-trade treaty.

The rules also specify the methodology for calculation of the cost of products to be traded between
India and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

New Delhi had signed the an agreement on August 13, 2009, in Seoul with ASEAN for duty-free import
and export of as many as 4,000 products ranging from steel to apparel to sugar and tobacco over a
period of eight years.

While the pact opens the 1.7-billion consumer market to each other, it also eliminates duties on 80 per
cent of goods traded between the two regions by 2016.

Visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister


On January 11, 2010, India committed one billion dollars line of credit for developmental projects in
Bangladesh and transformed its bilateral ties by signing five accords, including three key security pacts
to expand counter-terror cooperation, during the visit of Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina.

“This visit has opened a new chapter in India-Bangladesh relations, reflecting the unity of minds and
hearts,” Manmohan Singh told Sheikh Hasina.

The one-billion dollar line of credit is the largest ever one-time bilateral financial assistance India has
provided to any country. This will be used for construction of railway bridges and lines, supply of
coaches and locomotives and buses, and assistance in dredging, an issue of pressing concern to Dhaka.

India also agreed to supply 250 MW of electricity through its central grid. The two sides also took major
steps to improve connectivity, including the start of the Akhara-Agartala rail link.

The ties between the two nations had suffered under the previous regime in Dhaka over a host of tricky
issues, including the alleged sheltering of insurgents from India’s north-eastern States in Bangladeshi
territory.

The three security-related pacts signal a major step forward in expanding counter-terror cooperation
and in addressing India’s concerns over this issue that had earlier strained their ties. The pacts will
help New Delhi press Dhaka for the extradition of suspected insurgents from its north-eastern States
who have taken shelter in Bangladeshi territory over the years.

During her visit, Sheikh Hasina was also conferred the prestigious Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace,
Disarmament and Development.

Visit of Prime Minister of Malaysia


On January 20, 2010, India and Malaysia y signed an extradition treaty and two other accords during
the visit of Malaysian Prime Minister Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak. The extradition treaty will enable
India to seek the transfer from Malaysia of Indians who commit crime on the Indian soil and take refuge
in the South East Asian nation.

A Malaysia-India capital market collaborative agreement was signed between the Securities and
Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the Security Commission of Malaysia. The third agreement was in
the field of higher education.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Malaysian leader discussed a wide range of issues, including
bilateral ties as well as international developments. India’s ties with ASEAN were also discussed at
length. Mr Razak strongly pitched for the early conclusion of a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation
Agreement (CECA) between the two countries.
With bilateral trade exceeding $10.5 billion in 2008-09, Malaysia is India’s second largest trading
partner (after Singapore) among the 10 ASEAN members. Infrastructure, IT, biotechnology, energy and
education have emerged as promising areas of cooperation between the two countries.

Nepal assures of no anti-India activity from its soil


Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna visited Kathmandu on January 15, 2010. During his
meetings with his counterpart Sujata Koirala he gave positive gesture to Nepal to the latter’s long-
standing proposal to review the Nepal-India Peace and Friendship Treaty-1950.

In return, Nepal sought to address India's concerns with regard to fake currency being smuggled from
here, pledging that it would not allow its territory to be used against its neighbour.

India and Nepal also agreed to “cooperate closely” to end the menace of terrorism and extremism,
including human trafficking, smuggling of arms and fake Indian currency.

During the meeting, Nepal raised serious concerns over the highly controversial issues on border
encroachment from the Indian side whereas the Indian officials urged Nepal to cooperate with India by
signing the much-awaited Extradition Treaty that Nepal had been dilly dallying to sign.

Five MoUs regarding the construction of Terai roads with Indian assistance at an estimated cost of Rs
805 crore, a project worth Rs 9.2 crore for the Nepal Stock Exchange Ltd and Central Depository
Services (India) Ltd, Rs 6.3-crore electrification project, and construction of a Science Learning Centre
with India’s assistance of Rs 16.6 crore, were signed during the visit.

During his meeting with Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, alias
Prachanda, Mr Krishna expressed disappointment on their ongoing anti-India movement.

However, just a day after he met with Krishna when he had said he received positive response from
him to address their concerns, Prachanda, in his address to party cadres in Khotang district, criticised
India and said it has played negative role by backing up other political parties to uphold civilian
supremacy in Nepal.

Visit of Korean President


Cooperation in the civilian nuclear energy field was high on the agenda during the meeting between
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, on January 25, 2010.
Presdent Myung-bak was also the chief guest at the Republic Day.

During the visit the two countries signed accords in diverse areas, including IT and civilian space,
following the talks between the two leaders.

President Lee Myung-bak began his four-day visit to India with a visit to the Hyundai factory near
Chennai to meet Korean businessmen living in the city before reaching New Delhi.

Regional and global issues, including the intensification of economic ties and cooperation in sphere of
civilian nuclear cooperation and space technologies, figured prominently during talks between the two
sides. Closer cooperation in combating global financial recession was also discussed in the context of
the G-20 summit to be held in Seoul later in 2010.
Apart from the civilian nuclear sector, the two sides also agreed to look at the possibility of joint
venture co-operation in research and development, and manufacture of military equipment including
through transfer of technology, the joint statement said. The two leaders also agreed to work towards
a revised double taxation avoidance convention before the end of 2010.

The Posco steel project in Orissa was also discussed with both sides agreeing that there was a need to
expedite the project, which has been facing delays for three years. The two leaders also recognised
the need to expedite the implementation of the POSCO project in Orissa,’’ the joint statement said.
The Indian side assured South Korea the government is doing its best to expedite the project, which
continues to be entangled in land acquisition issues. The Indian side further hoped that South Korean
investment would expand in the infrastructure and manufacturing sectors.

CURRENT INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

CONFERENCE
Commonwealth Speakers’ Conference, 20th
The 20th Commonwealth Speakers’ Conference was held in New Delhi from January 5, 2010. It was
inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Describing the growth of regional parties as a challenge for governance and conduct of parliamentary
democracy, Mr Manmohan Singh said: “Though the aspirations of smaller parties may often be anchored
in narrow considerations, they carry great weight for their constituents. In the end, democracy must
respond to everyday concerns of the common man and Parliament should be the forum to address such
concerns.” The remark was in obvious reference to the growing influence of sub-regional parties in
coalition politics and Parliament.

Presiding officers from 42 Commonwealth nations were present (some in traditional Speaker robes).
The Conference discussed, among other things, the Speaker’s role as a mediator and administrator of
Parliament and use of technology in disseminating information on Parliamentary proceedings.

The forum also saw India voicing the aspirations of developing nations on climate change.

AFGHANISTAN
London Declaration
A one-day international conference on Afghanistan was held on January 27, 2010 in London. Seventy
Foreign Ministers and officials of international organisations attended the convention at the 185-year-
old Lancaster House.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, hosting the conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, announced in his opening address the establishment of a $500
million 'trust fund' to buy "peace and integration" with warriors who are engaged in violence for
economic rather than ideological reasons. A whopping $140 million has been pledged already for 2010.

During his pre-conference discussion with the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, External Affairs
Minister of India, S.M. Krishna, specifically said, “there should be no distinction between a good
Taliban and a bad Taliban.” But this clearly fell on deaf ears. The participants rejected India's
argument that there were no degrees of Talibanism.
It was also unclear whether remnants of Afghanistan's Northern Alliance, once cultivated by India,
would be accommodated in any way. There was also no reference to the erstwhile Foreign Minister,
Abdullah Abdullah, who put up a spirited fight in the first round of the recent controversial Presidential
election and exposed fraud before withdrawing from the contest.

Pakistan supports a differentiation between Taliban segments, including being generally soft towards
the Afghan Taliban, which was sponsored by the Pakistani Army's Inter-Services Intelligence.

As a goodwill gesture, the conference was preceded by a lifting of United Nations sanctions on five
leaders of the obscurantist Taliban regime, which was ousted by armed forces led by the United States
after the 9/11 attack on New York by the Afghanistan-based Al Qaida. Among the beneficiaries is a
former foreign minister Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil.

In keeping with United States President Barack Obama's plan to start withdrawing American troops in a
little over 18 months, Brown also declared that to fill the breach the strength of the Afghan army
would be increased to 134,000 by October 2010 and to 171,600 by October 2011. Corresponding
enlargements would also occur in respect of the Afghan police. The template for Afghanistan is similar
to the one utilised in Iraq.

The Taliban central leadership rejected the London declaration on Afghanistan while several top
Pakistani leaders said they support dialogue with the Taliban to end the conflict.

The statement by the Leadership Council of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan issued in Pashto said:
“The US and its allies should have freed all prisoners from jails in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan,
Pakistan and elsewhere, removed the names of all Taliban members from the UN ‘blacklist’ and
refrained from sending more troops if they really meant to take the proper steps for ending the Afghan
conflict.”

The statement argued that the ‘Mujahideen’ were not fighting for money or to grab power. Describing
as baseless that most Taliban fighters were not ideologically committed, it claimed that nobody
compelled the ‘Mujahideen’ to take up arms and fight the invaders.

Accusing President Obama and Prime Minister Brown of trying to deceive their people by organising
conferences on Afghanistan like the one in London to win public support for a failed war, the
statement reminded that such conferences did not work in the past and would not succeed this time as
well.
Arguing that the only solution of the conflict was the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan,
the Taliban statement also tried to reassure the West and rest of the world about their future plans in
case they returned to power.

SRI LANKA
Rajapaksa re-elected President
On January 27, 2010, Mahinda Rajapska emerged victorious in the bitterly-fought first post-LTTE era
Presidential elections. He won fighting against former army chief Sarath Fonseka, securing nearly 60
per cent of the total votes polled.
On 59-year-old Fonseka's charges of poll rigging, the sources said it was "absolutely untrue" and pointed
out that even former Prime Minister and opposition UNP chief Ranil Wicremasinghe had given a clean
chit on the issue.

ENVIRONMENT
Biodiversity protocol divides rich and developing world
An international protocol on biodiversity has become the new bone of contention between the
developed and developing countries. The rich countries are opposing an international legal framework
for use of biological resources.

The agreement will deal with the issue of bio-piracy, which is a cause of concern for countries like
India. Negotiations are on to finalise the protocol that is expected to be adopted at Nagoya, Japan, in
October 2010.

India and other developing countries are pushing for a protocol on access and benefit sharing (ABS).
Bio-piracy is an important issue for India, which is keen on the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol.

The Convention on Biological Diversity, adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, is the
first comprehensive global agreement addressing all aspects of biodiversity. The convention reaffirms
sovereign rights of nations over their biological resources. It has three main goals — the conservation of
biological diversity, sustainable use of its components and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits
from the use of genetic resources.

While an international legal framework appears to be a distant possibility, India has been taking steps
at the national and bilateral level to protect its biodiversity. Besides the Biological Diversity Act, 2002,
and the national Biodiversity Authority, India has also put in place a traditional knowledge database —
the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL). Managed by the CSIR, TKDL is a computerised
database of documented information available in Indian texts, relating to Indian systems of medicine.
Over 10 years, more than 2 lakh formulations of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Yoga have been
documented under the TKDL.

Natural disasters not linked to global warming


The United Nations climate science panel, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), faces a
new controversy for wrongly linking global warming to a rise in natural disasters such as hurricanes and
floods. It based the claims on an unpublished report that had not been subjected to routine scientific
scrutiny and ignored warnings from scientific advisers. The report's author later withdrew the claim
because the evidence was too weak.

The link was central to demands at Copenhagen climate summit by African nations for compensation of
$100 billion from the rich nations blamed for creating the most emissions. According to The Sunday
Times the IPCC knew in 2008 that the link could not be proved but did not alert world leaders.

The latest criticism came less than a week after IPCC was forced to retract claims that the Himalayan
glaciers would be largely melted by 2035. It turned out the claim had been lifted from a news report
published in 1999 by New Scientist magazine.

Two scientific reviewers who checked drafts of the IPCC report urged greater caution in proposing a
link between climate change and disaster impacts, but were ignored.
The paper at the centre of the latest questions was written in 2006 by Robert Muir-Wood, head of
research at Risk Management Solutions, a London consultancy, who became a contributing author on
the IPCC report on climate change impacts. In the research, Muir-Wood looked at a wide range of
hazards, including tropical cyclones, floods and hurricanes. He found from 1950 to 2005 there was no
increase in the impact of disasters once growth was accounted for. For 1970 to 2005 he found a 2%
annual increase that "corresponded with a period of rising global temperatures," but said almost all of
it was due to strong hurricane seasons in 2004 and 2005. Despite such caveats, the IPCC report used the
study in its section on disasters and hazards, but cited only the 1970-2005 results.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Google, China face-off over Internet
On January 13, 2010, Google threatened to shut down its operations in China after uncovering “highly
sophisticated” hacking attempts into e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

“These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered, combined with the attempts over the past
year to further limit free speech on the web, have led us to conclude that we should review the
feasibility of our business operations in China,” David Drummond, senior V-P of corporate development
and chief legal officer, said in a blog post.

“We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over
the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could
operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all,” he said.

Evidence indicated that the attackers were trying to get access to mail accounts of Chinese human
rights activists, according to Drummond. At least 20 other large companies, including finance, Internet,
media and technology were similarly attacked, according to Google.

INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM
Taliban attack on match in tribal Pakistan
A northwest Pakistani village that tried to resist Taliban infiltration mourned on January 2, 2010 the
victims of an apparent revenge suicide bombing that killed 96 residents during a volleyball game. The
attack on the outskirts of Lakki Marwat city was one of the deadliest in recent Pakistani history and
sent a bloody New Year’s message to Pakistanis who dare take on the armed Islamic extremists.

Lakki Marwat district is near South Waziristan, a tribal region where the army has been battling the
Pakistani Taliban since October 2009.

Across Pakistan’s north-west, where the police force is thin, underpaid and under-equipped, various
tribes have taken security into their own hands over the past two years by setting up citizen militias to
fend off the Taliban. The government has encouraged such “lashkars”, and in some areas they have
proven to be a key to reducing militant activity. Still, tribal leaders who face off with the militants do
so at high personal risk. Several suicide attacks have targeted meetings of anti-Taliban elders, and
militants also often go after individuals. One reason militancy has spread in Pakistan’s semi-
autonomous tribal belt is because insurgents have slain dozens of tribal elders and filled a power
vacuum.

Af-Pak strategy unveiled


In a candid assessment of the fragile relationship of USA with Pakistan, a US State department policy
paper has admitted that there is a degree of mistrust between Washington and Islamabad, but
democratic rule in Pakistan has created a window of opportunity. The report makes a point of noting
that while the US military presence in the region is not open-ended, its non-military commitment
would be a long-term one.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled the Obama administration's strategy to stabilise Pakistan and
Afghanistan, noting that the challenge in both countries is immense.

US officials have expressed concern over Pakistan's selective war on extremists within its borders,
noting the Pakistani army's offensive ignores deadly terrorist groups such as the Haqqani network,
responsible for attacks against US troops in Afghanistan.

The State department report outlines US objectives in Pakistan and Afghanistan. "While our combat
mission in Afghanistan is not open-ended, we will remain politically, diplomatically and economically
engaged in Afghanistan and Pakistan for the long-term to protect our enduring interests in the region,"
it says. On Pakistan, it lays out the intention of USA to lead the international community in helping
Pakistan overcome the political, economic and security challenges that threaten its stability, and in
turn undermine regional stability. "And we seek to build a long-term partnership with Pakistan based on
common interests, including a recognition that we cannot tolerate, a safe haven for terrorists whose
location is known and whose intentions are clear," it added.

"Achieving progress will require continued sacrifice not only by our military personnel, but also by more
than the 1,500 US government civilians serving in Afghanistan and Pakistan," Clinton said, pointing out
that for the first time since this conflict began, the US has a true whole-of-government approach. She
said the Obama administration's policy, rather than being an exercise in nation-building, was aimed to
achieve realistic progress in critical areas, and that Afghan and Pakistani governments had endorsed
this strategy.

WORLD TRADE
Asia free-trade zone
On January 1, 2010, China and 10 South-east Asian nations ushered in the world’s third-largest free-
trade area. While many industries are eager for tariffs to fall on things as diverse as textiles, rubber,
vegetable oils and steel, a few are nervously waiting to see whether the agreement will mean boom or
bust for their businesses.

Trade between China and the 10 countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations,
also known as ASEAN, has soared to $192.5 billion in 2008, from $59.6 billion in 2003. The new free-
trade zone, which will remove tariffs on 90% of traded goods, is expected to increase that commerce
still more.

The zone ranks behind only the European Economic Area and the North American Free Trade Area
(NAFTA) in volume. It encompasses 1.9 billion people. The free-trade area is expected to help ASEAN
countries increase exports, particularly those with commodities that resource-hungry China desperately
wants.

The China-ASEAN free trade area has faced less vocal opposition than the European and North American
zones, perhaps because tariffs were already low and because it was unlikely to alter commerce
patterns radically. However, some manufacturers in Southeast Asia are concerned that cheap Chinese
goods may flood their markets, once import taxes are removed, making it more difficult for them to
retain or increase local market shares.

CURRENT AFFAIRS MONTH WISE


CURRENT AFFAIRS MONTH WISE
MAY 2010
For the very purpose of getting you ready for the challenge that is Current Affairs In
India, we are covering the 2010 current affairs including politics current affair,
current affair news, science current affairs, general knowledge current affair,
current government affair and international current affairs. Only studying India's
current affairs or political current affairs is not sufficient as you have to cover
international events and current affairs along with the Indian current affairs, as well
as those in the field of science and sports.

International Current Affairs 2010

* G-15 summit was held at Tehran on 16-17 May.


* Bangladesh handed over Ranjan Daimary of the National Democratic Front of
Bodoland to India. The group was responsible for serial bombing in Assam in 2008.
* National League for Democracy (NLD) party of Myannmar’s democracy leader
Aung San Sui Kyi was abolished after deadline to re-register as a political party was
over.
* EU-IMF provide a $ 1 trillion rescue package to the Greece to resolve its debt
crises.
* Pakistan successfully test fired two short range ballistic missiles, Shaheen I( range
650 Km) and Ghazani (range 290 Km) capable of carrying nuclear war heads and
striking Indian cities.

National Current Affairs 2010

* Naxalites killed 47 people in a landmine blast between Dantewada and Sukma in


Chattisgarh.
* Test fire of nuclear capable Agni-II missile was successfully carried out from
Wheeler Island off the coast of Orissa on 17th May. Agni II has a range of 2000Km. It
is 20m long two stage solid propelled ballistic missile. It was developed by
Advanced System Laboratories alongwith DRDO & Bharat Dynamics Ltd.
* Supreme Court in a recent judgement upheld a rule that allows the adjustment of
reserved category candidate SC/ST/OBC against their quota seats even if they
manage to qualify an examination for govt services on merit.
* National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) is the monitoring
authority for the Right to Education Act which became effective from April 1, 2010.
Sports Current Affairs 2010

* England won 2010 ICC World Twenty20 Cricket tournament defeating Australia.
The tournament was held at South Africa. Kevin Pieterson of England has been
declared as Player of the Tournament.
* Australia won 2010 Women’s World Twenty20 Cricket tournament defeating New
Zealand.
* India and South Korea were declared joint winner of 2010 Sultan Azlan Shah
Hockey Cup, after suspension of the final match due to heavy rains.India’s Sardar
Singh has been declared as Best Player of the Tournament. Australia won the
Bronze medal. The tournament was held at Ipoh (Malaysia). India had won the
tournament earlier in 1985, 1991, 1995 & 2009.
* China won Thomas Cup ( Men’s Badminton) defeating Indonesia.
* In the World Youth Boxing Championship, held at Baku, Azerbaijan, India won 1
Gold & 1 Silver. Gold medal was won by Vikas Krishan and Silver medal was won by
Shiva Thapa.
* India won bronze medal in the 2nd Asian Paragliding Championship held at
Nishiewa, Japan.
* World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand retained his title after defeating
Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria in the World Chess Championship 2010.

Awards Current Affairs 2010

* Vandana Shiva has been awarded Sydney Peace Prize 2010 for her work in the
field of social justice.

Persons in News 2010

* Gita Gopinath an Indian origin associate professor at Harvard Univ has been
appointed a full professor, the first Indian woman in the Institution’s history to ge
given this appointment.
* Former Vice President of India, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat died.
* Rima Fakih was crowned Miss USA 2010. She became the first ever muslim
American Miss USA. She is of Lebanese muslim descent.
* Singer Christina Aguilera was named Ambassador against hunger by the United
Nations World Food Programme.
* Rushanara Ali became first person of Bangladesh origin to be elected to the British
Parliament.
* David Cameron elected Prime Minister of Britain. Nick Clegg became the Dy Prime
Minister. Britain gets first coalition govt since World War-II. It is between
Conservative and Liberal Democrats.
* Justice S H Kapadia sworn as new Chief Justice of India.
* Hari S Bhartia elected as President of Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) for
2010-11.
* Jessica Watson became the youngest person to sail unassisted around the world in
a yatch.

Misc Issues

* International Mosaics Festival was held in Tunisia.


* Aman ki Asha- the name of the Indo Pak Business Meet held at New delhi.
* International Museum Day- 18 May.
* ’Yours Sincerely’ written by Natwar Singh.
* ’The Duel’ written by Tariq Ali.
* ’The Promise :President Obama, Year One’ written by Jonathan Alter.

April 2010
For the very purpose of getting you ready for the challenge that is Current Affairs In
India, we are covering the 2010 April current affairs including politics current affair,
current affair news, science current affairs, general knowledge current affair,
current government affair and international current affairs. Only studying India's
current affairs or political current affairs is not sufficient as you have to cover
international events and current affairs along with the Indian current affairs, as well
as those in the field of science and sports.

International Current Affairs [April 2010]

* Belgium became the Europe’s first country to ban burqa.


* Pakistan’s National assembly passed a bill that takes away the President’s power
to dissolve parliament, dismiss a elected government and appoint the three
services Chiefs. Pakistan’s parliament passes 18th amendment which was later
signed by Presient cutting President’s powers.
* USA and Russia signed Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty(START) that allowed a
maximum of 1550 deployed overheads, about 30% lower than a limit set in 2002.
The treaty was signed in the Progue Castle.
* Emergency was imposed in Thailand.
* Nuclear Security Summit held at Washington.It was a 47 nation summit wherein
P.M. announced setting up of a global nuclear energy centre for conducting
research & development of design systems that are secure, proliferation resistant &
sustainable.
* PM visit USA & Brazil, a two nation tour. He attended Nuclear Security Summit in
USA & India- Brazil-S.Africa(IBSA) and Brazil-Russia-India-China(BRIC) summit in
Brasilia (Brazil).
* 16th SAARC Summit held in Bhutan in 28-29 April. The summit was held in Bhutan
for the first time. It is the silver jubilee summit as SAARC has completed 25 years.
The summit central theme was ‘Climate Change’. The summit recommended to
declare 2010-2020 as the “Decade of Intra-regional Connectivity in SAARC”. The
17th SAARC summit will be held in Maldives in 2011.

National Current Affairs [April 2010]

* Naxals killed about 75 CRPF personal at Chintalnar-Tarmetla village in Dantewada


distt ,Chhattisgarh. Government appoint E.N. Rammohan, to probe the incident.
* Uninque Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) now known as Aadhaar. It’s
Chairman is Nandan Nilekani. It will assign 16 digit identification number to all
residents in India.
* NTRO- National Technical Research Organisation. The organization came to
limelight after allegation of phone tapping of politicians.
* Indian navy commissioned India’s first indigenously built stealth warship ‘ INS
Shivalik’. The other stealth warship to be built are named as ‘INS Sahyadri’ and INS
Satpura’.
* Right To Education Act is notified and will become a legally enforceable from 1
April 2010. Key features of RTE Act are : All children in 6-14 age group must get free
and compulsory eduction; No child shall be held back,expelled or required to pass a
board examination till Class VIII; There must be 25 % reservation for poor children
even in private & minority schools; There must be one teacher for every 30
students; A child rights commission will look into violations of the RTE law.
* Govt start Census 2011. It is the 15th Census. It is in two phase. The first phase is
called –House listing & Housing Census and the second phase is called decadal
headcount which will be held in Feb 2011. The Registrar General of India is C
Chandramouli.

Sports Current Affairs [April 2010]

* IPL3 season won by Chennai Super Kings defeating Mumbai Indians.


* Youth Olympics Games 2010 to be held in Singapore in Aug 2010.
* World Youth Championship was held at Baku, Azerbaijan.
* Lawn tennis legend Martina Navratilova diagnosed with Breast Cancer.
* ‘Jumbo’ chosen as 2011 World Cricket Cup Mascot.
* World Kabbadi Cup 2010- India defeated Pakistan to won World Cup Kabbadi 2010
held at Ludhiana.
* Pankaj Advani won the Asian Billiards Championship defeating Singapore’s Peter
Gilchrist for the consecutive third time.
* Badminton Asia Championship, Delhi :
o Men’s singles – Lin Dan defeated Wang Zhenguing
o Women’s singles-Li Xiurei defeated Liu Xin.

Persons in News [April 2010]

* Shashi Tharoor (born 9 March 1956) is a member of the Indian Parliament from
the Thiruvananthapuram constituency in Kerala. A prolific author, columnist,
journalist and human rights advocate, he has previously served as the United
Nations Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information and
the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs.
* Lalit Modi (born 29 November, 1963 Delhi, India) is an Indian cricket administrator
and businessman. He is best known for his stint as the Chairman and Commissioner
of the Indian Premier League and the Chairman of the Champions League from
2008 to 2010. He is also the Vice President of the Board of Control for Cricket in
India (BCCI) since 2005 and Vice President of the Punjab Cricket Association.

Economics & Commerce [April 2010]

* India became the 7th largest shareholder in World Bank. India’s voting rights has
gone up to 2.91 %. The USA has highest voting rights of 15.85 % followed by Japan
with 6.84 % and Germany with 4 %.
* Govt proposed that concept of GGDP – Green Gross Domestic Product to be
introduced in the country by 2015. In 2012 India will host the Rio+20 conference on
biological diversity.
* Government approved disinvestment of 20% of share in SAIL in this financial year.
* India’s total external debt as on December 2009 is 251 billion.
* India’s Gems & Jewellery export grow by 16% to $28.41 billion in 2009-2010.
* RBI announced the credit policy. The CRR has been raised from 5.75 % to 6 %. The
Repo rate has been raised from 5 % to 5.25 %. The reverse repo rate has been
raised from 3.5 % to 3.75 %.

Awards Current Affairs 2010 [April 2010]

* 19Th Bihari Puraskar 2009 has been awarded to Hemant Shesh for his collection of
poetry ‘Jagah Jaisi Jagah’.
* 2010 Commonwealth Writers Prize for the best first Book was awarded to Glenda
Guest for the novel ‘Siddon Rock’. Rana Dasgupta won Commonwealth Writers Prize
for best Book 2010 for book ‘Solo’.
* Carl Zeiss wildlife conservation award was won by Joydip Kundu.
* Amitav Ghosh won the Dan David Prize alongwith Margaret Atwood for ‘Rendition
of the 2oth century’.

Misc Issues [April 2010]

* ‘Decision Points’ memoir of former US President George W Bush.


* A variety of mango has been named after Sachin Tendulkar.
* Scientist create element 117 from calcium & Berkelium.
* International congress of Mathematicians will be hosted by India for the first time
in August 2010 at Hyderabad. The congress has been held once every four years
since 1897except the breaks during two world wars.
* Government will opened four new campuses for the IIMC(Indian Institute of Mass
Communication) at Nagpur, Kochi, Jammu and Aizawl.
* Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Derjeeling become first zoo in the
country to install infrared night vision cameras in the enclosures housing
endangered snow leopard.
* ‘Hindutva, Sex & Adventure’ written by Mark Tully.
* Gorumara National Park, Jalpaigudi has been declared the best among the 235
national parks & sanctuaries in the country by the MOEF.
* ‘Gandhi-Naked Ambition’ written by Jad Adams.
* India ranks 5th in the World’s cybercrime ranking for 2009 after US, China, Brazil
& Germany.
* India lauched GSLV from Sriharikota on 15 April 2010. However the launch was
failed in the third stage. The launch was important as GSLV-D3 was the third
developmental mission of India’s GSLV during which ISRO’s indigenously developed
cryogenic upper stage (CUS) was to be flight tested. This is the 6th flight of GSLV,
but the first one to test Indian made cryogenic upper stage. GSLV-D3 was to launch
the GSAT-4 satellite into an elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit. The total flight
of the vehicle was planned to be 1022 seconds.
* India likely to complete building its first strategic crude oil storage by Oct 2011.
India is building underground storage at Visakhapatnam in AP and Padur in
Karnataka to store about 5.33 million tones of crude oil which is enough to meet
nation’s oil requirement for 13-14 days. India will join nations like the US, Japan &
China that have strategic reserves.

Persons in News [2010]

* Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra was sworn in as Judge of Supreme Court of India. She
became the 4th women judge to be elevated to the Supreme Court of India.
* Justice S H Kapadia will be next Chief Justice of India.
* Mukul Sangma shown in as Meghalaya Chief Minister.
* Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski died in a air crash at Moscow.
* Juan Antonia Samaranch, Former President of International Olympic Committee
(IOC) died.

March 2010
For the very purpose of getting you ready for the challenge that is Current Affairs In
India, we are covering the 2010 March current affairs including politics current
affair, current affair news, science current affairs, general knowledge current affair,
current government affair and international current affairs. Only studying India's
current affairs or political current affairs is not sufficient as you have to cover
international events and current affairs along with the Indian current affairs, as well
as those in the field of science and sports.
International Current Affairs [March 2010]

* China will launch in 2011 unmammed space mode ‘ Tiangong I’ for its future space
laboratory.
* US internet giant Google close its business in China.
* India’s largest telecom service provider Bharti Airtel buy Zain’s Africa operations
for an enterprise value of $ 10.7 billion (Rs 49000 crore). Currently Bharti’s non-
India operations include Sri Lanka & Bangladesh.
* Russia abolished two of its eleven time Zones.

National Current Affairs [March 2010]

* Govt launched National Mission for Empowerment of Women aimed at inter-


sectoral convergence of all pro- women programmes.
* Constitution 108th Amendment Bill 2008 commonly known as women’s
reservation bill was passed by Rajya Sabha by 186 in favour 1 against 39 abstained
(Current strength of Rajya Sabha is 233). The bill seeks to reserve a third of the
seats on the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for 15 years on a rotational basis. It
was first introduced in 1996. Sharad Joshi, an independent MP is the only MP which
cast vote against the bill. In the present Lok Sabha, there are 59 women MPs out of
543 MPs. Total MLAs in 29 state assemblies in India are 4093.
* Yamunanagar (Haryana) and Vishakhapatnam (AP) are choosen for a pilot project
on saving household energy by replacing incandescent lamps with CFLs (Compact
Fluorescent Lamps).
* Earth Hour 2010 has been celebrated on 27 March organized by World Wide Fund
for Nature, India. Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru are official Earth Hour Cities among
15 Indian cities.
* Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister of Russia visit India in March 2010.
* Supreme Court allowed religion based 4 % reservations in Govt jobs & educational
institutes in Andhra Pradesh. It extended the benefit to 14 OBC in muslims in the
state. The matter is further referred to Constitutional bench of Supreme Court.
* ’Bold Kurushetra’ a joint armour exercise between India and Singapore was held at
Jhansi(UP).
* Prohibition of unfair practices in technical, medical educational institutions &
universities Bill is passed by Govt. It provided for 3 year imprisonment and a fine of
upto Rs 50 lakh for higher education providers guilty of misleading students.
* Govt approved Foreign Educational Institution (Regulation of Entry & Operation)
Bill 2010. It provides foreign universities to set up campuses in India.
* Govt amends Anti Hijacking Act 1982. It now provides for death sentence to the
hijackers.
* Govt starts the scheme for creation of the National Population Register (NPR) of
Indian residents. The project will cover an estimated 1.2 billion people and total cost
of the project will be Rs. 3539.24 crore.
* India became 1st country in the world to have a ‘manoeuvrable’ supersonic cruise
missile, when it successfully test fired 290 km range Brahmos missile.
* Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu visit India in March 2010.

Sports Current Affairs [March 2010]

* Tamil Nadu defeated West Bengal to won Vijay Harare Cricket Trophy.
* Australia won World Hockey Cup 2010 defeating Germany. India ranked at 8th
place.
* India won six gold medal in the Commonwealth Boxing Championship held at
Delhi.
* Two new IPL teams, Kochi was auctioned for Rs 1533 crore and Pune was
auctioned for Rs 1702 crore. Kochi was auctioned to Rendezvous Adventure Sports
Ltd. Pune was auctioned to Sahara Adventure Sports Ltd.

Persons in News [March 2010]

* Rajan Bharti Mittal appointed President FICCI.


* Major Dimple Singla became first women army officer in the country who has been
sentenced to imprisonment for corruption.
* Bhubneshwar Kalita has been choosen as the Chef de Mission of the Indian
contingent at Commonwealth Games 2010.
* Cricketer Kapil Dev has been inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame.
* Former Supreme Court judge P V Reddy appointed as Chairman, Law Commission
of India.
* Lt Gen V K Singh appointed as new Army Chief.
* Sonia Gandhi appointed head of National Advisory Council. NAC advice the govt on
policy matters, monitor flagship programmes and prepare the ground for other pro-
poor legislatures.
* Lyricist Javed Akhtar, Mani Shankar Aiyar, Dr Ram Dayal Munda, Dr Balchandra
Mungekar and Kannada Actress B Jayashree are among other persons nominated to
Rajya Sabha.
* Austrian base jumper Felix Baumgartnar will became the first person to leaps from
the edge of space at a height of 37 km above earth’s surface. He become the first
man to break the speed of sound hitting a top speed of about 11000km/hr. He will
jump on 11 April 2010.
* Katie Spotz became the youngest person to complete a solo journey across the
Atlantic Ocean.
* Girija Prasad Koirala, Nepal Ex Prime Minister died. He was 5th time Nepal PM.

Awards Current Affairs 2010 [March 2010]

* Oscar Awards 2010


o Best Director- Kathryn Bigelow for The Heart Locker. She became first women to
win the Oscar for best director.
o Best Film- The Heart Locker.
o Best Actor- Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart.
o Best Actress- Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side.
o Best Supporting Actor –Christoph Waltz for Inglorious Basterds.
o Best Supporting Actress –Mo’Nique for Precious.
o Best foreign language film- The Secret in their Eyes, from Argentina.
* Amitabh Bachchhan honoured with lifetime achievement award at 34th Hong Kong
International Film Festival.
* Surjit Pater has been awarded with 19th Saraswati Samman 2009 for ‘Lafzan Di
Dargah’.
* Moortidevi Award was given to the Law Minister M Veerappa Moily for his work
Shri Ramayan Mahanveshanam.
* Vyas Samman 2009 was awarded to Amar Kant for his work ‘Inhin Hathiyaron Se’.

Misc Issues [March 2010]

* Brahan Natyanjali 2010 festival was organized to celebrate 1000 years of Tanjavur
temple in Tamil Nadu which was built by Chola emperor Rajaraja Chola in 1010 AD.
* 192 year old Presidency College of Kolkatta (India’s oldest college) converted into
Presidency University. It became 18th state university in West Bengal.
* Railways started ‘Maharajas Express’ from Kolkatta to Delhi. It is a tourist train
having stoppage at Gaya, Varanasi, Bandhavgarh, Gwalior, Khajuraho and Agra.
* The book ‘Way to go’ written by Upamanyu Chatterjee.
* The book ‘Wide Angle’ written by cricketer Anil Kumble.
* The book ‘El Sari Rojo’ written by Javier Moro, is on the life of Sonia Gandhi.
* World TB Day celebrated on 24 March.
* Constitution 112th Amendment Bill 2009 seeks to amend following clauses of
Article 243T of the Constitution that provides for reservation of seats for SC & ST
and also for women in Urban Local bodies : a) In clause (2) for the word ‘one third’,
the word ‘one half’ shall be substituted, b) In clause (3) the word ‘one third’ , the
word ‘one half shall be substituted.

February 2010
For the very purpose of getting you ready for the challenge that is Current Affairs In
India, we are covering the 2010 February current affairs including politics current
affair, current affair news, science current affairs, general knowledge current affair,
current government affair and international current affairs. Only studying India's
current affairs or political current affairs is not sufficient as you have to cover
international events and current affairs along with the Indian current affairs, as well
as those in the field of science and sports.
International Current Affairs [February 2010]

* NATO forces carried out Marjah operation (dubbed Moshtarak) against Taliban
forces in Afghanistan.
* European Union summit was held in Brussels. EU & IMF decided to giving support
to Greece in its struggle to bring its ballooning budget deficit under control. EU
President is Herman Van Rompuy.
* Iran’s President Mahmood Ahmedinejad declared that Iran had produced first
batch of 20 % enriched uranium and now Iran became a nuclear state.
* Iran launched ‘Kavoshger -3 rocket’ capable of carrying a satellite. It carried a
mouse, worms & two turtles.

National Current Affairs [February 2010]

* Kirit Parikh committee , set up to review petro pricing regime, submit its
recommendation. Its major recommendation are to deregulate the prices of petrol &
diesel as per market prices, reduce the subsidy on LPG.
* India signed a Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement with the UK, which became
the 8th country to enter into such a pact, since the lifting of atomic trade embargo
in 2008.
* Govt set up a panel under the Chairmanship of former Justice B N Srikrishna which
would consider the demand for splitting Andhra Pradesh.
* India and Denmark signed a social security pact which will relieve their workers
from double taxation and provide for cooperation in areas of labour market
expansion and orderly migration.
* Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits Saudi Arabia in Feb 2010. He was the first
Indian PM in 28 years to visit the gulf country. Saudi Arabia is India’s largest
supplier of crude oil ( 23 %) followed by Iran ( 17 %) and Nigeria ( 11 %). India is
offering upto 10 % equity to Saudi petroleum firm Saudi Aramco in a refinery being
built in Orissa. PM addressed the Shoura council of Saudi Arabia.
* Constitution 111th Amendment – Proposes to incorporate a new Part ( Part IX B) in
the Constitution so as to provide for legal framework to regulate the functioning of
cooperative societies. A new Article ( Article 43 B) is also proposed to be inserted in
Part IV of the Constitution (Directive Principles of State Policy) for the States to
promote voluntary formation, autonomous functioning of cooperative societies.
* Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill 2009 commonly known as Nuclear Liability
Bill will be introduced by Govt in Parliament in Winter session 2010. The draft bill
aims at limiting the liability of a nuclear plant operator to Rs. 300 crore in the
eventuality of an accident. The bill provides for the penalty to be paid by the
operator and not the supplier companies which would mainly be American in this
case. India has entered into civil nuclear cooperation agreement with eight
countries so far.

Sports Current Affairs [February 2010]


* 11th South Asian Games 2010 : Held at Dhaka, Bangladesh from 29 Jan to 8 Feb.
Originally scheduled to take place in 2009, but due to general elections in
Bangladesh, the games were held in 2010. This was the third time that the Dhaka
hosted the Games, thus becoming the first city to hold the games three times. 8
countries participated in the games in 23 different sports, including T20 cricket,
which was introduced for the first time in SAG. The 8 countries included are
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan & Sri Lanka. 1The
logo of the games was ‘Kutumb’, a flying doel , which is the national bird of
Bangladesh. The mascot of the games featured a magpie robin, which was holding
the torch to begin the games. The final medal tally include : India - 1st place with 90
G 55 S 29 B Total 174, Pakistan- 2nd place with 19 G 25 S 36 B Total 80,
Bangladesh- 3rd place with 18 G 23 S 56 B Total 97.
* West Zone won Duleep Trophy ( 2009-10) defeating South Zone.
* India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar won the Asian Tour International Trophy 2010. It is his
2nd consecutive title.
* Euro 2012 to be co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine.
* 2010 Winter Olympic Games were held at Vancouver, Canada. Mascot of the game
was MIGA (a sea bear), QUATCHI( a sasquatch) and SUMI (animal guardian spirit).
The logo of the games was Ilnaaq meaning Friend in Inuktut. There were 86 events
in 7 sports. The games were held from 12 Feb to 28 Feb. Final medal tally. Canada-
14 G 7 S 5 B, Germany- 10 G 13 S 7 B, USA- 9 G 15 S 13 B.
* IOC (International Olympic Committee ) has approved ICC (International Cricket
Council) bid to join the Olympic games 2020. The first time cricket was included in
the Olympic games was in Paris Olympic 1900.
* 11th World Hockey Cup 2010- To be held in Delhi, India. This is 2nd WHC which
India is hosting. India also hosted the WHC in 1982 at Mumbai. 12 countries
participated in the tournament. WHC is held in the years between two summer
Olympics. First WHC was held at Barcelona in 1971. Pakistan has won the cup four
times, Netherland three times, Germany two times, India & Australia once each.
India won the WHC in 1975.
* Sachin Tendulkar became first player in the world to score a double century in ODI
(One day International). He scored 200 (Not out) against South Africa.
* Commonwealth Shooting Championship was held in New Delhi in Feb 2010. India
stood at first place with 35 Gold 25 Silver and 14 Bronze. England stood at 2nd
place with 4 gold and Wales stood at 3rd place.

Science and Technology Current Affairs [February 2010]

* USA Space agency NASA launched Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) to discover
the causes of extreme solar activity such as sun spots and solar winds & flares.
* ‘GANGES’- Global Advisory Network Group on environmental sciences. It was
created by Govt for environment research work.
* Agni-III ballistic missile with a range of 3500 Km was successfully launched from
Wheeler Island, Orissa.
* Ht Cotton – Herbicide Tolerant Cotton. The variety of Ht Cotton in MON 1445. The
variety can withstand herbicides (weed killers) for better productivity and is under
trail.
* Cervical cancer is caused by HPV- Human Papilloma Virus.
* South Korea has world’s highest average connection speed at 14.6 Mbpd in
Internet links. Japan has 2nd highest average speed.
* Scientist deciphered the genetic blueprint of South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond
Titu.

Persons in News [February 2010]

* Horst Kochler , Germany President visit India in Feb 2010.


* Abdullah Gul, Turkey President visit India in Feb 2010.
* Economist Kokkadan Nandanath Raj, who made a significant contribution in the
preparation of first Five Year Plan(1951-56) died.
* Sharad Chandra Sinha is appointed as Director General of National Investigation
Agency(NIA).
* Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian President visit India in Feb 2010.
* Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob of Malaysia appointed Chairman, International
Atomic Energy Agency.
* Govt appointed R S Pandey as its mediator for talk with NSCN(IM) in Nagaland to
carry forward the peace process.
* Former Justice P V Reddy will be appointed as Chairman, Law Commission of India.
* Ram Baran Yadav, Nepal President visit India in Feb 2010. It was the first visit by
Yadav to any foreign country after taking over as Nepal’s President. Yadav is the
first President of Nepal since monarchy ended in 2008. India extended $ 250 million
soft line of credit to Nepal.
* Rajinder Singh became first non-white and also first Asian member of the right
wing British National Party, after it amended its constitution to allow black and
Asian to be its member.
* Amitabh Bachan became the brand ambassador of Gujarat state.
* Amnesty International, the global human right organization has appointed Salid
Shetty as its next Secy General from June 2010. He will be the first Indian to head
the organization.
* Shah Rukh Khan & Kajol become the first Indian bollywood actors to ring the
opening bell of the world’s biggest stock exchange’ NASDAQ’.
* Rajiv Satav appointed President, Indian Youth Congress.
* Katrina Kaif awarded with 2009 Excellence in Performing Arts Award established
by ASSOCHAM.
* M H Hussain, famous painter accepted citizenship of Qatar.

Economics [February 2010]


* Planning Commission grant special category status to the Bundelkhand region
comprising 9 distt of Uttar Pradesh and 15 distt of Madhya Pradesh for the irrigation
projects. Under special category status, state govt can seek 90 % grant assistance
from the centre and 10 % as loan.
* Govt revises base year for the calculation of National Income from 1999-2000 to
2004-2005. The GDP for 2009-10 will be Rs. 55,74,449 crore and the fiscal deficit for
the corresponding period will be 6.4 %.
* Capital Control – Foreign capital inflows in the form of loans and equity that are
allowed in a restricted form are said to be controlled. The capital inflows include
foreign borrowings by Indian corporate and businesses, NRI deposits and portfolio
flow from institutional investors into the stock market. Loans to Govt and short term
trade credit are also included. India had control on both capital account transactions
as well as on current account with the local currency fixed by the Central Bank. In
1991, rupee was first made convertible on the current account. In 1994, Govt allows
foreign portfolio investments.
* Govt will replace Benchmark Prime Lending System (BPLR) with Base rate system
from 1 April 2010 to make bank lending more transparent. It provided for minimum
rate for all types of loans for banks.

Misc Issues [February 2010]

* Milan 2010, a biennial meeting of navies of Asia Pacific countries held at Port Blair
in Feb 2010. 12 countries of Asia Pacific Region participated in it. It is the 7th
edition of Milan exercises. It is a biennial exercise of Asia Pacific maritime navies,
hosted by the Indian Navy. First Milan exercise was held in 1995.
* ‘Vayu-Shakti’ name given to IAF exercise conducted at Pokhran range in the Thar
desert in Feb 2010. IAF is the 4th largest air force in the world after USA, Russia and
China.
* ‘Bo’ language of Andaman become extinct. Its last speaker died.
* As per Indian Meteorological deptt, 2009 was the warmest year since 1990. The
annual mean temperature for 2009 was 25.55 degree celcius for the country s as a
whole.
* Uttarakhand became first state in the country to ban the cultivation of Bt Brinjal
( Country’s first Genetically Modified food crop). Bt Brijnal is a genetically modified
crop which has a special gene- Cry1AC, inserted to make it poisonous to pests. GM
Crops resists pests and give better yields as well as nutrition. Bt Brinjal is developed
in India by Mahyco company. GM foods are derived from organisms whose DNA has
been modified through genetic engineering.
* China ranked 1st in the wind power capacity in the world. India is at 5th place with
10925 MW capacity. The five top nations in the order of wind power capacity are
China, US, Spain, Germany & India.
* Eurozone is a economic and monetary union of 16 EU member states which have
adopted the euro currency as their sole legal tender. PIIGS countries include
Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece & Spain.
* 17 army jawans killed in a avalanche at High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) at
Khilanmarg, J&K.
* West Bengal govt reserved 10 % of govt jobs in the state for poor muslims.
* China will celebrate 2010 as Year of Tiger.
* India has a road network of 33 lakh km and is second largest in the world. It
included 200 km of expressway, 70548 km of national highways, 131899 km of
state highways, 467763 km of major district roads and 26.5 lakh km of rural & other
roads. The Golden Quadrilateral joining four metro cities of Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai
and Kolkatta, has a length of 5846 km.
* Taj Mahotsav organized by UP govt in Feb 2010 with the theme ‘Ek Utsav Prem
Ka’.
* Vancouver city, Canada named as the World’s most livable city as per survey
conducted by Economics Intelligence Unit. Delhi is ranked at 113th place and
Mumbai at 117th place.
* 16th Conference of Parties (COP) will be held in Dec 2010 at Mexico. The 15th COP
was held in Copenhagen in Dec 2009.
* Hyderabad International Airport has been named amongst the world’s five top
airports. Other four airports are Seol, Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing.
* ’1000 faces for 1000 tigers’ campaign was launched in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The campaign aims to help double the number of wild tigers in Malaysia by 2022.
* Sachin Tendulkar features in BMC’s ‘Save Water Campaign’.
* Indian Navy inducted Russian built MiG 29 K fighters planes.
* Basic Capabilities Index 2009- India received 68 points. The index was published
by Social Watch’s. The highest BCI points was given to Iran having 97 points and
lowest points 44 was given to Chad.
* K R Sridhar, an US based Indian scientist invented Bloom Box- which convert air
and virtually any other fuel source into clean electricity. The box uses solid oxide
fuel cells and can generate 100 KW of power.
* Present life expectancy of life at birth in India is 63.4 yrs. The highest expectancy
of life is in Australia of 81.4 yrs, 81 yrs for France and 79.3 yrs for England.
* World Cancer Day – 04 Feb
* International Condom Day – 14 Feb

January2010
For the very purpose of getting you ready for the challenge that is Current Affairs In
India, we are covering the 2010 january current affairs including politics current
affair, current affair news, science current affairs, general knowledge current affair,
current government affair and international current affairs. Only studying India's
current affairs or political current affairs is not sufficient as you have to cover
international events and current affairs along with the Indian current affairs, as well
as those in the field of science and sports.
International Current Affairs [January 2010]

* Gilgit Baltistan region elected its first Chief Minister Mehdi Shah on the basis of
Gilgit Baltistan Empowerment & Self Governance Order 2009. The new appointed
CM declare the Gilgit Baltistan region as 5th province of Pakistan. The Indian Govt
has, however, of the view that the region was part of J & K, and thus objected to the
remarks of CM.
* Venezuela devalued it currency ‘Bolivar’.
* A massive earthquake strike Haiti, the Carribbean nation. Capital of Haiti is Port-
au-Prince.
* Mahinda Rajapaksa won a second term as Sri Lanka’s President. He belongs to Sri
Lanka Freedom Party.

National Current Affairs [January 2010]

* Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visit India in Jan 2010. She belongs to
Awami League Party. The two countries signed five agreements – on mutual legal
assistance in criminal matters, on transfer of sentenced persons and on combating
international terrorism, organized crime & illicit drug trafficking besides MOU on
cooperation in the power sector and on cultural exchanges. India give Bangladesh a
$ 1 billion line of credit, the biggest it has given to any country so far.
* South Korea President Lee Myung Bak visit India in Jan 2010. The two countries
decided to double the bilateral trade to $ 30 billion by 2014. Four facts were signed
between two countries – cooperation in peaceful use of outer space, IT, science &
technology for the year 2010-12 and transfer of sentenced persons. South Korean
President was also the chief guest at 2010 Republic Day Parade.
* Gujarat Local Authorities Law (amendment) Bill 2009- The Bill makes it the duty of
a qualified voter to vote during elections to local bodies. Voting is compulsory, but
the Bill allows voters to cast their vote in favour of none of the candidates. Election
officers will declare those who fail to vote defaulter, and serve them a notice.
* India and China has decided to start joint military exercise from 2011.
* Najib Razak, Malaysia Prime Minister visit India in Jan 2010.
* Govt launched Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. Key highlights of the
mission are :
o To create an enabling policy framework for the deployment of 20,000 MW of solar
power by 2020.
o To create favourable conditions for solar manufacturing capability for indigenous
production and market leadership.
o To promote programmes for off grid applications, reaching 1000 MW by 2017 and
2000 MW by 2022.
o To achieve 15 million sq. meters solar thermal collector area by 2017 and 20
million by 2022.
o To deploy 20 million solar lighting systems for rural areas by 2022.
* New Governors appointed : a) M K Narayanan – West Bengal, b)Shivraj Patil –
Punjab, c) Mohsina Kidwai – Jharkhand, d) Shekhar Dutt – Chhattisgarh, e) E S L
Narasimhan – Andhra Pradesh.
* Govt plans to create a National Gas Highway Development Authority. The present
Gas Pipeline Density in India is 3.29 Km per 1000 Sq.Km.
* Govt plans to set up a National Green Tribunal to control Carbon Emissions and
pollution. It will be responsible for implementing the low carbon roadmap to be set
forth in the 12th Five Year Plan.

Sports Current Affairs [January 2010]

* U-19 World Cup 2010 held in New Zealand from 15 – 30 Jan 2010. Javagal Srinath
from India appointed as one of the match referee for the tournament.
* Australia won the U-19 World Cup for the third time defeating Pakistan. India is
placed at 6th rank. Australia won the cup for the third time.
* Rafael Nadal won the Capitala World Tennis Championsip, held at Abu Dhabi
defeating Robin Soderling.
* Magnus Carlsen becomes the youngest World No.1 chess player at the age of 19
years breaking the Garry Kasparov’s record when he became the world’s top ranked
chess player at the age of 22 years in 1985. Magnus Carlsen is the 5th player after
Kasparov, Kramnik, Topalov and V.Anand (India) to cross the 2800 ELO rating. In the
Jan 2010 FIDE ranking, Carlsen stood at 1st place, Topalov at 2nd place and V
Anand at 3rd place.
* Marin Cilic defeated Staniglas Wawrinka to won Men’s singles title of Aircel
Chennai Open.
* Pakistan’s cricketer Shahid Afridi was banned for two T20 internationals after he
was found guilty of ball tempering in a ODI against Australia.
* Corus Chess Grandmaster Tournament won by Magnus Carlsen. V.Anand of India
ranked at 4th place. Hopman Cup 2010- Spain defeated Great Britain.
* Australian Open 2010 : Women’s Single- Serena William defeated Justin Henin. It is
Serena’s 5th Australian Open title. It is also Serena’s 12th Grand Slam title equaling
the record of Billie Jean King.
* Men’s Single- Roger Federer(Swiss) defeated Andy Murray(Britain). It is Federer’s
4th Australian Open title. It is Federer’s 16th Grand Slam title.
* Men’s Double- Mike Bryan & Bob Bryan defeated Daniel Nestor & Nenad Zimonjic.
* Women’s Double – Serena Williams & Venus Williams defeated Cara Black & L
Huber.
* Mixed Double – Laender Paes (India) & Cara Black (Zimbabwe) defeated Ekterina
Makasova & Jaroslav Levinsky. It is Paes’s 11th Grand Slam title.

Science and Technology Current Affairs [January 2010]

* 97th Indian Science Congress held at Tiruvananthapuram in Jan 2010. The theme
of this year congress was ‘ Science & Technology of 21st Century- National
Perspective’.
* The longest annular solar eclipse on the third millennium occur on 15 Jan 2010.
The next annular solar eclipse will be visible in year 3043. Annular eclipse is
occurred when the sun is visible like a ring of fire, with the moon darkening its
centre. The last annular solar eclipse visible from India was occurred in 1976. In July
2010 also, a total solar eclipse will be occurred.
* There are three strains of wild Polio virus namely P1, P2 & P3. Type 2 wild Polio
virus (P2) was eliminated from the world in 1999.
* First public hearing on the introduction of Bt Brinjal (First Genetically Modified
Food Crop in India) was held in Kolkatta. Seven such public hearing are being
organized by Centre for Environment Education, for opinion of public in respect of
introduction of Bt Brinjal. 2nd hearing was held at Hyderabad.
* 50th anniversary of creation of LASER is being celebrated in 2010. Theodore
Maiman constructed the first LASER in May 1960. LASER stands for Light
Amplification for Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Charles H Townes was father of
MASER.

Persons in News [January 2010]

* Billy Arjan Singh, wildlife conservationist and Padma Shri awardee died.
* P D Dinakaran, Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court faces impeachement motion.
The process was initiated in the Parliament. He is the first High Court Chief Justice
against whom impeachment motion have been initiated. Justice V Ramaswami is the
only judge to have faced impeachment proceedings in parliament.
* Justice V S Sirpurkar appointed to head a three member panel to look into
allegation of land grab and misconduct against Chief Justice P D Dinakaran in the
wake of impeachment motion initiated against him in Parliament.
* Fahmida Mirza is the first woman Speaker of Pakistan National Assembly.
* Ricky Ponting, Australian cricket team captain, has been named as ESPN Cricinfo
Player of the Decade for 2000.
* Jyoti Basu, former West Bengal Chief Minister, died.
* Mrinal Pande, appointed as Chairman, Prasar Bharti Board.
* Lee Myung Bak, South Korea President was the Chief Guest at 2010 Republic Day
Parade.
* Shiv Shankar Menon is appointed as National Security Advisor.
* Vikram Srivastava appointed as Director General of CRPF(Central Reserve Police
Force).
* Ranjit Kumar Bhatia appointed as Director General of ITBP (Indo Tibetan Border
Police).

Books & their Authors [January 2010]

* ‘All that you can’t leave behind’ written by Soumya Bhattacharya.


* ‘We Must Have No Price’ written by Arun Sourie.
* ‘Train to India- Memories of another Bengal’ written by Maloy kumar Dhar.
* ‘Not by Reason alone : The Politics of Change’ written by N K Singh.
* ‘Five Point Someone’ written by Chetan Bhagat.
* ‘Nehru : The invention of India’ written by Shashi Tharoor.
* ‘The Museum of Innocence’ written by Orhan Panuk.
* ‘Thoughts on Linguistic States’ written by B R Ambedkar.