• Chetan Anand makes history: It was a memorable day for Indian badminton as Chetan
Anand became the first Indian to win the men’s singles title in a Grand Prix event and the
pair of V. Diju and Jwala Gutta claimed the honours in the mixed doubles event in the
Bitburger Open in Germany
Books & Author
• An Introduction to Cultural Studies: Pramod K. Nayar
• Panchayati Raj and Financial Resources: S. Chandra Sekar
• Social Justice and the Politics of Reservation in India: The Post Mandal Phase; V.
• Footprints of Development and Change: N. Jayaram, R. S. Deshpande
• Women’s Studies in India- A Reader: Mary E. John
• India’s Turn-Understanding the Economic Transformation: Arvind Subramanian
• India’s Nuclear Technology Dilemma-Projects and Realities: G. Reddy
• Infrastructure Development and the Indian Economy: L. N. Dash
• Politics and Policies – A Marxist Perspective: Prakash Karat
• First-ever Everest skydive successful: Three adventurers skydived from above the
world’s tallest peak, Mount Everest, Wendy Smith (New Zealand), Neil Jones (Canada) and
Holly Budge (Britain) dived from 29,500 ft.–2,500 ft higher than the 27,000ft-tall Mount
Everest — and landed at 12,350 ft in Shyangoche, the highest Drop Zone in the world, at
the first Everest Skydive 2008. This is the first time skydiving has been organised in the
Himalayan country, which has eight out of the world’s 10 tallest mountains.
• Nepal endoreses new child as goddess: Nepal's Maoist president has endorsed the choice
of a three-year-old girl to be worshipped as a goddess, upholding an age-old tradition
despite his government's atheist stance. The selection of the child goddess, or Royal
Kumari, had for centuries required the approval of Nepal's kings, but the abolition of the
monarchy earlier this year brought about a shift of protocol. Three-year-old Matine Shakya
was chosen to replace the current Royal Kumari, 12-year-old Kumari Preeti Shakya
because the older girl is close to puberty, after which she will be considered ritually
• Teachers to be rated: If all goes as planned, postgraduate students of Delhi University
(DU) will have the opportunity to evaluate their teachers’ performance at the end of the
current academic year. The recent recommendation of a similar nature made in the report
submitted by the University Grants Commission Pay Review Committee comes as a shot in
arm for the varsity, which had already passed the proposal in its Academic Council (AC)
meeting. But DU hasn’t yet taken a call on whether it will implement the Pay Review
Committee’s suggestion to use this while deciding on faculty promotion.
• Purulia arms case: The extradition of one of the key accused in the Purulia arms drop
case, Kim Davy, from Denmark seems close as the government has, in principle, agreed on
giving "sovereign assurance" to the Danish authorities on their conditions and bringing
about some changes in the existing extradition law. The conditions Denmark has set
include waiving off of the death penalty if Davy is convicted here by court for his alleged
involvement in the dropping of a huge cache of arms and ammunition from an aircraft in
West Bengal in 1995. The matter is likely to come up before the Union Cabinet. If the
Cabinet approves the mandatory clause of extending "sovereign assurance", it will be the
second instance of the government giving such a promise to facilitate extradition. India
had given a similar assurance to Portugal in 2003 for the extradition of 1993 Mumbai
serial blast case accused Abu Salem and his former companion Monica Bedi.
• Mammals face extinction: A comprehensive survey of mammals included in the annual
report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which covers more
than 44,000 animal and plant species, shows that a quarter of the planet's 5,487 known
mammals are clearly at the risk of disappearing forever. But the actual situation may be
even grimmer because researchers have been unable to classify the threat level for another
836 mammals due to lack of data.
• Dubai to get a 1km- high tower: Even before formal inauguration of the world’s tallest
building Burj Dubai, the city called the jewel of the emirates is all set to break its own
record, by building a tower with a dizzying height of more than one kilometer.
• China is world’s No. 1 executioner: The world is moving closer to the final abolition of
the death penalty, according to the latest figures published to coincide with World Day
against the Death Penalty today. Five nations were responsible for almost all the state
executions carried out in the past year. A total of 137 countries have abolished the death
penalty in law or practice, while 60 countries retain its use, usually for people convicted of
murder. At least 1,252 known executions in 24 countries during 2007. Of all the
executions in 2007, 88% took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the US.
"Asia leads the way globally as the continent that carries out the most executions."
• Power in Rajasthan: A new integrated computer system has been introduced in
Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Prasaran Nigam for reduction of energy losses and ensuring better
power supply to the consumers. The new system, being undertaken with the support of
the World Bank under its institutional strengthening scheme.
• Warm time for the Penguins: Sea ice cover 40% less area than it did 26 years ago,
leaving the Emperor and Adelie penguin little space to breed. The Antarctic warming five
times faster than the average rate of global warming.
• Alternative Nobels': An activist-couple from Tamil Nadu, an American journalist, a Swissborn
doctor and an activist from Somalia were named as this year’s winners of the Right
Livelihood Award, also known as the “alternative Nobel.” They will share a 2 million kronor
(about Rs. 1.34 crore) cash award that will be split in four parts. A Swedish-German
philanthropist Jakob von Uexkull founded the awards in 1980 to recognise work he felt
was being ignored by the Nobel Prizes. American reporter Amy Goodman, founder and host
of the syndicated radio and television programme Democracy Now, was honoured for “truly
independent political journalism that brings to millions of people the alternative voices
that are often excluded by mainstream media,” The jury also honoured the founder of
medica mondiale, gynaecologist Monika Hauser, for her work to help sexually abused
women in world crisis zones. Somali lawmaker Asha Hagi was honoured for her efforts to
promote peace in her homeland. The last part of the prize was shared by Krishnammal
and Sankaralingam Jagannathan for their efforts to promote social justice through their
• International award for NDPL: Power distribution company North Delhi Power Limited
has been awarded the International Palladium Balanced Scorecard Hall of Fame Award -
2008. The award and also it is the fourth Indian company after Tata Motors, Trent and
Infosys to win it. The award was presented to NDPL at Seoul in South Korea. This is the
second international recognition for NDPL after the recent Edison Award.
• Award for fighting tobacco menance: Social activist Hemant Goswami has been selected
for the prestigious international "Global Smoke Free Partnership Award" in recognition of
his work in controlling the menace of tobacco. The honour is awarded every year by the
Global Smoke free Partnership, a joint worldwide initiative of over 20 international
organisations formed to promote effective smoke-free air policies worldwide.
• Nobel for particle physics: Two Japanese scientists and a Tokyo-born American shared
the 2008 Nobel Prize for physics for discoveries in sub-atomic particles. The Nobel
committee lauded Yoichiro Nambu, a Tokyo-born America citiezen, and Makato Kobayashi
and Toshihide Maskawa of Japan for separate work that helped explain why the universe
is made up mostly of matter and not anti-matter via processes known as broken
symmetries. They helped figure out the existence and behavior of the very tiniest particles
known as quarks.
• Tata Steel wins Deming award: Tata Steel won the Deming Application Prize for
excellence in Total Quality Management (TQM) for 2008. The award was announced by the
Deming Prize Committee instituted by the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE).
• Satish Rai banned for life: Nineteen months after he tested positive for a second time in
his career, the Indian Weightlifting Federation has imposed a life ban on weightlifter
• Raj Babbar joins Congress: Babbar who won the seat on a Samajwadi Party ticket in
2004 had quit two years later after he raised the banner of revolt against its general
secretary Amar Singh.
• Lakshmi N. Mittal was elected Chairman of the World Steel Association (formerly
International Iron and Steel Institute), representing about 180 steel producers from across
• Kapil: The Government had recently appointed Kapil Dev as an honorary Lieutenant-
Colonel in the Territorial Army and named him a brand ambassador to attract new talent
to the defence forces.
• Rohini Bhate passes away: Veteran Kathak dancer-guru Rohini Bhate died in Pune.
Rohini Bhate was among the senior most Kathak exponents of the country and a Fellow of
Sangeet Natak Akademi.
• Montgomery gets five year prison term: Former Olympic champion and tracks star Tim
Montgomery was sentenced to five years in prison on heroin charges in Virginia.
• Ahtisaari wins Nobel Peace Prize: Finland’s ex-president Martti Ahtisaari received the
Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to build a lasting peace from Africa and Asia to Europe
and the Middle East. “The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel
Peace Prize for 2008 to Martti Ahtisaari for his important efforts, on several continents and
over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts.
• Paul Krugman wins Nobel: Paul Krugman won the Nobel prize for economics for his
analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity.
• Mazor Itika Suri is the only woman peacekeeper among t he 4,554- strong Indian
contingent in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
• Solar radiation: If tropical India were to convert just 1% of the 5,000 trillion kilowatt-hour
of solar radiation (or, simply, sunlight) it receives a year into energy, the country will have
enough to meet its energy needs-even in 2030-according to the national action plan on
climate change. “India’s focus till now has been in manufacturing and exports. More than
60% of PVs (photovoltaic cells produced in India is exported and the biggest market is
Europe. Waiting for approvals India’s semiconductor policy, announced by the ministry of
communications and information technology in 2007, has come as a big boost to
companies making photovoltaic cells. That’s because these cells are made from materials
that go into semiconductors. The policy gives 20% capital subsidy to units inside special
economic zones that make semiconductors and 25% to those outside.
• India enhances anti-submarine warfare capability: Even as Pakistan prides itself as the
first South Asian country to commission into service a diesel-electric submarine, PNS
Hamza, which has an air-independent propulsion system, India is on the threshold of
perfecting its indigenous state-of-the-art underwater surveillance mechanism as part of its
Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) programme. Nagan, the low frequency active-cum-passive
towed array sonar system developed by the Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory
(NPOL), Kochi, Presently, the Navy operates passive only towed array sonar system from
Thales (France) onboard a few platforms such as INS Mumbai, a Delhi-class guided missile
destroyer. “Nagan marks a major technological breakthrough as it is capable of long-range
• Role reversal: India to launch French satellites: An agreement between Indian and French
space agencies will give India a larger play in the global satellite launch market, worth
$2billion annually. Astrium, the commercial arm of French space agency Centre National
d'etudes Spatiales (CNES) and a lead player in the commercial satellite launch industry
will outsource a large component of its business to Indian Space Research Organisation
(ISRO). The agreement is a role reversal for the French agency. For over 20 years, India
has been dependent on CNES for launching the Indian National Satellite System (INSAT)
communication satellites using its big Ariannespace boosters. (INSAT-1C was the first
Indian satellite to be launched by Ariannespace on July 21, 1988). Now, ISRO will launch
satellites for CNES, which will be at a cost advantage. The Indian agency's launch costs
are up to 35 per cent lower than those of countries like the US and Russia. "Although
India has signed MoUs with 25 countries, this Indo-French compact is the first cooperative
agreement," Every year, some 15 countries launch more than 1,600 satellites, but only six,
including India, have actual launch capabilities. India, however, is a marginal player in a
lucrative global market as the PSLV can only launch satellites that weigh up to 1,600 kg
and that, too, into low-earth orbits (200-2,000 km above earth's surface). ISRO is
speeding up the development of GSLV-Mark III, which will be able to launch 5-tonne
payloads into geo-stationary orbit.
• Ozone hole getting bigger by the year: Reports from the ESA (European Space Agency)
indicate that the ozone hole in 2008 is larger than last year. Ozone is a protective
atmospheric layer found in about 25 kilometers altitude that acts as a sunlight filter
shielding life on Earth from harmful ultraviolet rays, which can increase the risk of skin
cancer and cataracts and harm marine life. The depletion of ozone is caused by extreme
cold temperatures at high altitude and the presence of ozone-destructing gases in the
atmosphere such as chlorine and bromine, originating from man-made products like
chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were phased out under the 1987 Montreal Protocol but
continue to linger in the atmosphere. This year, the area of the thinned ozone layer over
the South Pole reached about 27 million square kilometers, compared to 25 million square
kilometers in 2007 and a record ozone hole extension of 29 million square kilometers in
2006, which is about the size of the North American continent. Depending on the weather
conditions, the size the Antarctic ozone hole varies every year.
• Indian moon mission: On 22 October, India joins Japan and China in an all-Asian race
to explore the moon, even as the US, which put the first man on the moon in 1969, plans
to repeat the feat by 2020. That is the scheduled date for the launch of Chandrayaan-1,
India’s first moon mission. The spacecraft, fitted with 11 scientific instruments, including
five from the US, Sweden, Japan, Germany and Bulgaria, will also explore and identify
deposits of helium-3 or He-3, a clean nuclear fuel that can potentially solve all of the
world’s energy problems. The highly unstable He-3 is found in abundance on the moon.
India’s moon mission will follow that of Japan, which launched its Selene spacecraft in
September 2007, and China, which launched Chang’e-1 in October 2007. For Isro, which
has till now only sent a satellite up to 36,000km over earth, its first scientific mission is
also the toughest. The spacecraft needs to travel nearly 400,000km, and the mission will
test the agency’s expertise in rocket technology, guidance and navigation of the spacecraft.
Isro has built a deep space network, with a 32m antenna in Bangalore, to receive data
from the spacecraft. Data from the moon mission will also be received at the three deep
space complexes of the US’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or Nasa,
which are located in California, Spain and Australia.
• Cervical cancer vaccine enters Indian market: Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD),
launched a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, the most common form of the condition in
India with more than 130,000 women diagnosed with it every year. The vaccine is the first
of its kind and has been approved by the US Food and Drugs Authority. The vaccine
Gardasil was launched in 2006 and is available in 108 countries. According to a World
Health Organisation study, the risk of the cancer in India is 2.4%compared with an
average of 1.3 % for the world.
• SBI moves up: SBI with over Rs 7 lakh crore assets has improved its ranking from 70th
to 57th position, according to the latest annual top 1,000 bank list prepared by the UK
based leading banking publication The Banker.
• ADB loan to revive khadi industry: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is extending a
loan of $150 million to India to help revive the khadi, the widely-revered handspun and
handwoven cloth, which has not developed to desired levels owing to poor production
and marketing techniques. According to an ADB statement here, a $ 2-million grant will
also be provided by the Japan Special Fund through the Manila-based multilateral
institution to support the implementation and monitor the progress of the loan-funded
reform package for the khadi industry. The 11th Plan document has laid great stress on
khadi production, mainly owing to the huge employment prospects for women and
• Export to major countries during 2007-08: USA, UAE, CHINA SINGPORE AND UK are
the top five destination for India’s exports during 2007-08 accounting 12.71%, 9.59%,
6.65% and 4.11 % share respectively in the Country’s total exports during the year,
Exports during 2007 -08 at $ 1,62,904. 16 million, went up by 29.02% from the 2006 -
07 level of $ 1,26,262.68 million.
• Biotech sector to touch $5-billion by 2010: India is ranked among the top 12 biotech
destinations in the world and is the third biggest in Asia-Pacific in terms of the number
of biotech companies”. Investments in the segment are also growing at the rate of about
38% for the last three years and have touched $560 million in 2006-07.
• Govt. cuts fee for telcos completing 95% rollout: Government has cut the licence fee
for the telecom service providers which have completed over 95% network roll-out in a
service area, except metros, a move aimed at encouraging operators to increase teledensity.
The applicable universal service obligation levy will be 3% instead of 5%, which
means the licence fee is automatically reduced for category A, B and C circles to 8%, 6%
and 4% respectively, DoT said while amending the UASL licence.
• Saving your savings: One of the key amendments in the draft of the US bailout Bill now
passed by the US Senate and House of Representatives is the move to hike US federal
deposit insurance from the current $100,000 to $250,000. This increase in the federal
insurance limit is expected to calm depositors in the midst of a flurry of collapsing
financial institutions. It is also expected to bring greater stability to the financial system,
particularly banks—if deposits worth $250,000 are guaranteed the chances of a run on a
bank are much reduced. The UK is also seriously considering raising its deposit
insurance from 35,000 pounds to 50,000 pounds. Deposit insurance is a necessity in an
era of fractional-reserve banking India, despite its archaic financial system, has a
surprisingly commendable deposit insurance scheme. India was, in fact, one of the
earliest implementers of deposit insurance way back in the 1960s. Currently, an amount
of Rs 1 lakh is guaranteed to depositors in the event of a failure or closure of a bank.
This is small when compared with the US—Rs 1 lakh is worth just over $7,000 in the US
in PPP terms. India is, of course, a country with much lower average incomes; so the size
of deposits is much less than in the US. The total number of bank accounts (in
scheduled commercial banks) in India is around 5.19 crore. The average size of a deposit
is around Rs. 50,000, well below the deposit insurance level. If one extracts the figures
for metropolitan areas, then the average amount of a deposit is around Rs. 90,000.
Again, this is under the deposit insurance amount. It would seem then that there is little
to worry about in terms of saving the aam aadmi’s savings in the event of a run on a
commercial bank in India. But two things are still necessary: first, the government must
educate the public at large about the existence of a deposit insurance scheme. Second,
there is a need to begin thinking about raising the limit further, as incomes grow. Even
now, many of the 98,31,000 metropolitan accounts would have deposits of more than
Rs. 1 lakh. No need to wait for a crisis to up the limit.
• Global stocks tumble as crisis escalates: World stock markets plunged, striking fouryears
lows in London and New York as the financial crisis showed no sign of abating
despite a multi-billion dollar bailout for U.S. banks. European equities were rattled by
fresh troubles of the leaders of France, Britain, Germany and Italy failed to produce a
joint European financial rescue package.
• Govt. mandate EPF for foreign workers: The labour ministry has made it mandatory
for international workers–both Indians working outside the country and non-Indian
citizens working here–to contribute 12% of their salary (matched by an equal amount
from the employer) to the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), irrespective
of the contributions they may be making to such schemes in other countries. This new
rule, which applies to all countries, would immediately and adversely affect employees of
those countries that have so far not signed so-called SSAs (social security agreements)
with India, such as the US. The agreements are also called totalization agreements.
Effective 1 October, international workers will be able to export, or transfer back, their
contributions only to countries with which India has signed SSAs, essentially Belgium
and France so far.
o India has signed SSAs with France and Belgium, will sign a pact with Germany.
o Concluded negotiations on SSA with the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.
o Negotiations on with Norway, Switzerland and Hungry.
o SSAs proposed with all European Union countries and Australia.
• CRR cut by 50 bps, first in five years: To reverse the tight liquidity situation in the
dimestic markets brought on by the global financial turmoil, the reserve Bank of India
duced the cash reserve ratio (CRR) the amount of reserve banks keep with RBI by 50
basis points, the first time in five years. It also made it clear that liquidity concerns, not
inflation, will get priority now the new CRR of 8% in place of 9% will come into effect from
October 11 Since September 16, when the global crises broke, the daily borrowing by
banks through the repo window has jumped from an average of Rs. 15000 crore to above
Rs. 50,000 crore. The bank said the CRR reduction will release Rs. 20,000 crore into the
• FDI heads for China, India: Despite the current global economic slowdown and financial
instability, India and China continue to be the most preferred FDI destination in 2008-
2010. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) survey titled
“World Investment Prospects (WIPS) 2008-10” released points to an upward trend among
developing and transition economies especially in Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, and
Latin America, both for FDI inflows and outflows. The six preferred destination for FDI in
the survey are the same as last year’s: China takes the lead, followed by India, the United
States, the Russian Federation, Brazil and Vietnam. The next in order of preference are
Germany, Indonesia, Australia, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Canada.
• ECB cap on exploration, mining raised to $500m: The government allowed companies
operating in the refining, exploration & mining sectors to bring into India up to $500
million of external commercial borrowings (ECBs), a ten-fold expansion from the earlier
cap of $50 million. This would significantly benefit companies. The timing of the relaxation
could not have been better as Indian companies have been finding it difficult to raise
money from the equities market, down 40% this year. Also, the rapid rise in the domestic
• Credit of Rs 150 cr for constant IOC supply to Nepal: As a goodwill gesture, New Delhi
has agreed to allow a credit of upto Rs 150 crore for uninterrupted supply of petroleum
products by the state-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) to Kathmandu during the
festival season. “The Prime Minister has agreed to allow a credit of upto Rs 150 crore to
the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) for the next three months. NOC imports all its petro
products from India and had even defaulted on payments for its POL supplies from India.
Its dues had mounted to Rs 400 crore in March last year. Under an agreement between
IOC and NOC, the outstanding dues are being liquidated at the rate of Rs 15 to 20 crores
per month which has brought down the dues of NOC significantly from Rs 400 crores to
Rs 44.36 crore.
• Iron ore: India’s exports of iron ore to China have declined to almost nothing since August
following a slump in demand for the commodity in that country, resulting in an almost
50% decline in the price of the mineral in the global market. China has, over the past few
years, been the single largest consumer of iron ore, a key input in the manufacturing of
steel. Iron ore is India’s biggest export to China by value. India’s mining industry has
grown significantly over the past five years, largely on the back of a construction boom in
China. The growth rate in iron ore production in India ranged between 9.49% and 18%
during the period.
• $2bn fund for secondary agriculture: A panel formed by the government in 2006 has
proposed the creation of a $2 billion fund to boost so-called secondary agriculture.
Secondary agriculture typically includes activities such as extracting vitamins from food
grains, medicines from herbs, fibre boards from rice straw, oil from rice bran and so on.
The 15-member committee, headed by D.P.S. Verma. Suggested setting up the fund–called
the secondary agriculture innovation fund, or SAIF–during the 11th Plan (2007-12).
Agriculture, which provides a living to some 70% of India’s population, accounts for just
19% of the country’s gross domestic product. Development of secondary agriculture may
help raise the sector’s contribution, according to Tacsa.
• Exports surpass target in 2007-08: India succeeded in surpassing its export target of
$160 billion in the last fiscal (2007-08), as per the latest date released by the Directorate
General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics. The cumulative value of exports for
2007-08 stood at $162.9 billion, registering a growth of 29.02 per cent over the same
period last year, while in rupee terms, it reached a level of Rs. 6.55-lakh crore as against Rs. 5.71-lakh crore, a growth of 14.71 per cent.
Temple stampede: Tragedy struck the Sun City of Rajasthan on the first day of the nineday
navaratra festivities when 147 pilgrims were killed in an early morning stampede
outside the Chamunda Devi temple on a hillock adjoining the Mehrangarh Fort.
• Smoking in Pubic: Eight states are already imposing penalty on those caught smoking in
public, even before the official ban on tobacco consumption in government or private
buildings comes into effect from October 2. The states include Delhi, Jharkhand, Andhra
Pradesh, Orissa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and the UT Chandigarh.
o India is home to nearly 12 crore smokers
o At present, 9 lakh people die every year due to tobacco related diseases.
o Smoking will kill 10 lakh people annually from 2010.
o It will be the primary cause behind one of all male deaths and one in 20 of all female
o For every cigarette, 8 beedis are sold in India.
o Nearly 85% of the world’s beedi tobacco is grown in India.
• Fertility rate in TN dips: In a boost to the national population control programme, the
fertility rate in Tamil Nadu has dropped below the replacement level to touch 1.8,
according to the third National Family Health Survey (NHFS-3). The first NFHS was carried
out in 1991-92 and the next in 1998-99. The total fertility rate is the number of children a
woman is expected to have during her reproductive lifetime. The ideal replacement rate-the
degree to which a population is replacing itself -is two. Indian Institute of Population
Studies, showed Tamil Nadu is among 10 states where fertility rates have reached the
replacement rate or dropped below it. According to NFHS-3, while the overall fertility rate
continues to decline in the country with the national average touching 2.7 as compared to
2.9 during NFHS-2 and 3.4 in NFHS-1, TN along with Goa and Andhra Pradesh have
recorded the best performances.
• Docs who turn away AID patients will pay: Center: The Centre informed the Supreme
Court that it has decided to take firm action against doctors and paramedical staff, both in
the government and private sectors, for refusing treatment to HIV/AIDS patients.
Apprising a bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan about its latest guidelines,
issued to state governments and private hospitals, Addition al Solicitor General Gopal
Subramanium said: “It will be ensured there is no discrimination or stigma to PLHAs
(persons living with HIV or AIDS) at health care facilities otherwise. The cases of denial of
service to positive patients would be viewed seriously and action initiated in all such
• Incredible Indian to cover North- As part of the Incredible India campaign, a luxury
tourist train to cover popular destinations in North India has been launched by the
ministry of Tourism, Indian Railways and government of Punjab. The luxury train will
cover popular destinations
• Incentive for senior citizens in Haryana: Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh
Hooda announced a series of incentives for senior citizens, including institution of State
level awards, 50 per cent bus fare concession to women above 60 years of age in Haryana
Roadways buses, setting up of senior citizens’ clubs, distribution of free spectacles to
those below the poverty line and implementation of the Maintenance and Welfare of
Parents and Senior Citizen Act to ensure their security.
• Oil companies to launch cell to address consumer grievances: The Petroleum and
Natural Gas Ministry is set to launch an all-India toll free number and cells across the
country to address consumer grievances over securing LPG connections and cylinders and
in the matter of availability of petrol, diesel and kerosene.
• A remarkable year for India in the field of nuclear energy: Anil Kakodkar, Chairman,
Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), made a pitch in Vienna for the sale of India’s
indigenous 220 MWe Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) to developing countries.
His offer comes in the wake of India’s 30-year isolation by the Nuclear Suppliers Group
coming to an end. “India has an ongoing programme on 220 MWe PHWRS, a reactor
system that is competitive in terms of capital costs, safety performance and unit energy
cost. This system is well suited to the needs of countries with small electricity grids,
especially those in the developing world”. India has by now clocked 285 reactor-years of
safe and economic nuclear power generation. A new national record for continuous “power
operation” was created when the second nuclear power unit at Kaiga in Karnataka ran
uninterrupted for 529 days from August 2006 to January 2008.
• Seven tier-two cities to get infrastructure development: The Karnataka government
has decided to develop seven tier-two cities encompassing all the Revenue divisions in the
State. Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa has termed the programme “Looking beyond
Bangalore,” funds for which will be provided by the State. All the seven city municipal
corporations, including the recently-formed Davangere City Corporation, will receive a
special grant for the development of infrastructure. The cities will get special attention
with regard to the development of air connectivity.
• Higher ceiling now for creamy layer: The Union Government has approved raising the
income criterion for the “creamy layer” among the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) from
Rs.2.5 lakh to 4.5 lakh a year. This will help in bringing more people under the reservation
category. The decision, taken at a Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister
• Senior posts in armed forces: The government approved the upgrading and creation of
nearly 2,000 senior-level posts in the armed forces. Half of the posts will be in the Army.
The approval is part of an unfinished agenda to reduce the age profile of commanding
officers and improve career mobility. Based on the Ajay Vikram Singh Committee
recommendations, it will lead to the upgrading or creation of 30 posts in rank of
• Biofuel imperatives: The Union Cabinet has cleared the National Biofuel Policy, and set
an indicative 2017 target to blend 20 per cent sugarcane-extracted ethanol with petrol,
and non-edible oil with diesel.
• Cabinet nod for revised blindness control programme: The Union Cabinet’s Committee
on Economic Affairs (CCEA) gave its green signal for revising the National Programme for
Control of Blindness, with a stepped up allocation, for the 11th plan period. Chaired by
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the CCEA decided to provide an outlay of Rs. 1,250
crore for the programme during the plan period and to expand its scope to include other
causes of blindness such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, apart from cataract,
which had been its main focus so far.
• Moving out, but still trust Bengal, says Tata: Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Motors Ltd
announced at a press briefing that the company is abandoning its Singur plant that was
to produce the world’s cheapest car after weeks of violent demonstrations triggered by a
land dispute. The move will hamper the company’s plans to start selling the car, branded
• New Karnataka rule to affect Maharahstra: In a move that would impact wine makers in
Maharashtra—India’s largest producer—and help local wine makers, Karnataka has
notified a new excise rule that raises the price of wines from its larger neighbour. The new
duty—Rs300 a bulk litre from Rs10 earlier—applies to all wines made outside of
Karnataka and is seen by wine companies as a response to Maharashtra’s seven-year-old
wine policy that exempts locally made wines from a 150% duty that all other wines have to
pay. India’s current per capita consumption of wine and beer is far below the global
average, and foreign companies see an opportunity in the increasing market for these
goods, primarily driven by higher incomes in an economy growing at nearly 8% annually.
• UGC puts premium on youth: As per the new UGC recommendation, 25% of teachers in
the pay band of Rs. 15,600-390,100 would get 4% increment of the basic salary on the
basis of better teaching and research performance. All recommended with effect from
January 1, 2006.
• Schemes targeted at population below poverty line
Schemes for BPL Year of launch
Indira Awas Yojana Jan 1996
Swapoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana August 2001
National Rural Employment Grarantee Act February 2006
Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana October 2007
Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme November 2007
Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana April 2008
Many erstwhile schemes for BPL population, like the food for Work programmer have been
integrated into these schemes. Some schemes are older than the launch date specified
above, but were re-launched with expanded mandates buy the UPA.
• IB go hi-tech, get more manpower to fight terror: Intelligence Bureau -which has come
under flak for its failure to keep tabs on tech savvy jihadis-is set for major revamp with the
government recruiting 6,000 more spies to strengthen its existing cadre of nearly 25,000
personnel. The IB will also get modern gadgets to monitor cyber communication. The home
ministry also plans to set up an exclusive "research & technology centre" within IB to keep
a complete databank of terrorists and suspicious persons under one umbrella. The plan
for modernisation and increasing the strength of IB– which has already got Cabinet nod.
• Ladli scheme: Ladli scheme is in the first year of implementation but according to
government sources, the effects are already visible. Sources said that not only over one
lakh girls have registered under the scheme in the government schools, it has also
increased the registration of girls in MCD-run schools. The government puts aside Rs
10,000 when the family registers a girl child under Ladli scheme. To this amount, Rs
5,000 would be added every time the girl takes admission in classes I, VI, IX, X and XII.
On attaining the age of 18 years, the girl would be entitled to Rs 1 lakh, as well as the
interest that would have accumulated over the years. Only families with an annual income
of less than Rs 1 lakh per annum are entitled to the scheme.
• Gujarat as new home for Nano: Forced to move out of Singur in West Bengal, Tata
Motors will locate its small car project at Sanand in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad district. An
agreement between the Gujarat government and the Tata group for the Rs. 2,000-crore
ventures was signed here, ending speculation on the relocation of the project that had
been marred by controversy since work began two years ago. Tata has been allocated
1,100 acres at Chharodi and Charal villages, just 25 km from Ahmedabad.
• Medical labs to come under uniform quality standards: The pathological shops that
ring-fence every major hospital in the country could be in for a wake-up call. So far, except
for a few national chains, one lakh such shops have needed only a registration from the
state governments, under the Shops & Establishments Act, to function. This meant their
accountability was no more than that of a grocery store or barbershop for the services they
provide to their customers. But that picture is about to change. Recognising the
mushrooming path labs as the weak underbelly of the Indian medical sector, Quality
Council of India (QCI) has roped in four state governments, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala,
Tamil Nadu and Gujarat to block recognition to a path lab as a legal entity unless it is
registered with QCI and meets the international accreditation standard of ISO 15189. This
ISO standard is specially designed for the medical laboratories by the National
Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories, an autonomous body under the Department of
Science and technology.
Assocham seeks faster process for clinical trial nod: The domestic pharma companies
have urged the Prime Minister to reduce the length of time the government takes to grant
approval for clinical trials after a drug is discovered, it takes around 6 to 8 months time in
India to accord clinical trial approvals, in countries like Canada, UK, USA and
Netherlands, the same approval is doled out in a month's time She added that it took just
28 days for Piramal group to obtain approval for phase I trials for four new chemical
entities (NCEs) in Canada, USA and Netherlands while the same is lying with the
government since February awaiting clearance. The problem is prevalent in the other
emerging markets; for instance, in China it takes around 8 months while in Brazil it takes
4.5 months. Such delay adversely impacts the pharma companies patent filing process for
• Old age pension will also to be paid via banks: Buoyed by the success of paying wages
through bank and post office accounts under the National Rural Employment Guarantee
Act (NREGA), the government has decided to extend the facility to the beneficiaries under
the recently relaunched and rechristened National old age pension scheme. The ministry
of rural development is working out the modalities of payment of pension under the Indira
Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) in consultation with finance and
communication ministries which would benefit around 1.6 crore aged persons in the
country. “The government had re-launched IGNOAPS in November last year, which covers
all the people who are above 65 years living below poverty. The scope of the new IGNOAPS
had been widened to cover almost 1.6 crore old BPL people from the earlier level of 87 lakh
Under IGNOAPS, some states like Goa and Delhi have decided to contribute Rs 800 and Rs
400 respectively as premium under the social security programme along with the Centre’s
contribution of Rs 200 per month. However, there are some states that do not have
enough resources to contribute even the Rs 200.
• Maternal mortality: India is still quite far from achieving the Millennium Development
Goal of reducing maternal mortality rate (MMR) by three quarters by 2015. On an average,
there are at least 301 women dying annually for every 100,000 live births. In some states
the MMR is even higher—358 in Orissa, 371 in Bihar and 379 in Madhya Pradesh.
• Punjab, Haryana families spend 40-45% on health: A study by the National Council of
Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and Max New York Life Insurance has revealed that
on an average, households in Punjab spend 44.9% of their income on health expenses,
while the figure stands at 40% for households in Haryana. The survey, conducted across
23 states, says that Punjab stands ninth in the rankings with a health index of 0.655 and
Haryana nineteenth, with a health index of 0.473. For an average household in Punjab,
with an income of around Rs 77,325, the annual health expenditure is Rs 43,729, while
for Haryana, which has an average household income of Rs 82,901, the annual health
expenses amount to Rs 33.958.
• Exit polls set to come to an end: Exit and opinion polls during elections are set to come
to an end. Ahead of the coming assembly as well as Lok Sabha elections, the government
has decided to give the go ahead to a proposal to amend the Representation of People’s
Act, 1951 that will place restrictions on conducting of such polls and surveys when the
election process is on. The need to ensure legislative cover in banning exit polls became
necessary after the apex court censured the Election Commission for taking such action
without any legal sanctity. In 1999, the EC had imposed a ban on exit polls on the basis of
opinion of national and state political parties, who had agreed with the view that the
surveys were not only unscientifically conducted, but were motivated and aimed at
influencing voters. This was challenged in some high courts, which then led the EC to
convene another meeting of political parties in 2004. This meeting arrived at the
consensus that results of exit polls conducted during any stage should not be published or
telecast before the close of the last phase of elections.
• India shows the way in fighting forest fire: The forest department’s response time in 67
per cent of cases has been cut to less than two hours after the state installed the system
in April last year. Madhya Pradesh’s success story has come as a blessing for 1 lakh
protected forest areas around the globe, which now have a similar satellite-based firewarning
system. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and World
Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) launched a worldwide Fire Information for
Resource Management System (FIRMS) developed by the University of Maryland and
NASA. A moderate Forest Survey of India (FSI) estimate says timber worth Rs 35 crore is
lost to fires in 63 million hectares of forests every day. But, if figures from a UN study in
1987 are calculated at present price, the annual loss could be around Rs 410 crore,
environment ministry estimates say. The FSI data shows that half of India’s forests are
• Floods put brake on uranium mining: India’s domestic uranium enrichment programme
has received another setback. Mining in Andhra Pradesh has been put on hold since
September after flash floods swept uranium deposits into agricultural land, sparking
protests by farmers. India produces only 260 tonnes of uranium every year but has plans
to increase its domestic production with an additional 690 tonnes by 2012. Most of the
additional uranium is expected from two sites–Domiasiat and Wakhyn in Meghalaya and
Lambapur-Peddagattu and Tummallapalle in Andhra Pradesh. Mining in Meghalaya has
been on hold since 1992 following protests by residents who don’t want to part with their
land. With only 30-25 per cent of fuel available, India’s nuclear plants are running at only
50 per cent of their capacity. At preset, Jharkhand produces 260 tones per year. India has
nuclear capacity of 4000 mw, but because of fuel shortage the plants are producing 2000
• India's cremated leave ashes, carbon footprint: Preference of Indian Hindus for
conventional cremation in a country of 1.1 billion is only exacerbating the global problem.
If you want to burn a body completely, it will require 400-500kg of wood, means about 50-
60 million trees, covering 1,500-2,000 sq. km of forest land, are cut every year to burn the
dead in India, says Anshul Garg, director of Mokshda, a New Delhi-based nongovernmental
organization (NGO) that is developing a technology to make cremations more
environment- friendly. “The ritual produces half a million tonnes of ash and also releases 8
million tonnes (mt) of greenhouse gases or carbon dioxide.”
• British raj relic, Indian Trusts Act of 1882 to be amended: The Cabinet approved a key
amendment to the Indian Trusts Act, 1882 which specifies the investment options of trust
money. This will throw open a gamut of options for registered trusts, which will now be
able to park their funds in shares, bonds and debentures and any other marketable
securities. Till now, Section 20 of the Act listed out specific investment options for trusts.
They were permitted to invest their funds in promissory notes, debentures, stock and
other securities of the United Kingdom and Ireland and bonds, debentures and annuities
charged or secured by the British Parliament.
• Now, 3.5 cr savings accounts for NREGA, 1.7 cr with post offices: In one of the biggest
initiatives for financial inclusion in recent times, more than 3.5 crore savings accounts
have been opened with post offices and banks across the rural belt in the country for
ensuring the payment of wages under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act
(NREGA). The ministry of rural development had urged the state governments to stop cash
payment of wage to the workers under NREGA at the earliest for stopping irregularities
and preventing delay in payment of wages.
• National Literacy Programme to get a boost: The Union Human Resource Development
Ministry has redesigned the National Literacy Mission programme to infuse new zeal into it
and to check relapse into illiteracy for want of further learning avenues. ‘Lok Talim’ is the
name selected by the Ministry for its redesigned programme for basic literacy and
continuing education. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Nai Talim,’ the name seeks to
represent India’s composite culture; ‘Lok’ being a Hindi word for people and ‘Talim’ an
Urdu word for education. The Ministry hopes to be able to implement ‘Lok Talim’ with the
funding that has been earmarked for Adult Education in the XI Five Year Plan by the
Planning Commission. Unlike the NLM (National Literacy Programme)-set up 20 years ago.
Child Abuse: The national Study on child abuse conducted by Prayas institute Juvenile
Justice in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government
of India, supported by UNICEF and Save the Children Fund, UK brought in shocks for
everyone last year. More than 53 per cent of children in India were sexually abused and
the majority of victims did not dare to report the abuse.
• CFLs: Vishakapatnam will be the first city in the country to get compact flourescent lamps
(CFLs) at Rs 15 each — arguably the cheapest in the world. The central government plans
to replace the 400 million incandescent bulbs around the country with similarly priced
CFLs under the Bachat Lamp Yojna. Yamunanagar will be the next city where the scheme
will be operationalised. For a change, the super subsidy to the consumer is not being
borne by the government. It will be recovered by the CFL manufacturer through the global
carbon market run under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as
the Clean Development Mechanism. This is the first time in the world that such a scheme
is being run under the mechanism.
• SBI ranks low in Employees Productivity-RBI: State Bank of India may be the largest
bank of the country in terms of capital reserve, but in terms of employee productivity, it
ranks abysmally low, especially when compared with the private banks, says RBI. This is
despite SBI's wages as percentage of total expenses being higher than the industry
average. The SBI's wages, as percentage of total expenses, stands at 17.5 per cent against
the industry average of 14 per cent for the year 2007-08, a RBI report says.
• Milestone journey begins today: The hype is not misplaced: the 70-km is the only
mountain railway in India to be built on the broad gauge, the biggest and most difficult
project undertaken since Independence. It took 14 years to get here. The stretch
Anantnag-Srinagar-Rajwainsher track–will be the first train link in the Kashmir Valley.
The 345-km long Jammu-Udhampur-Katra-Qazigund-Baramullah stretch, however, is far
from being fully operational.
The Rail Link
o Declared national project in 2001 in Katra-Qazigund section.
o This section also envisages the longest bridge of the Railway.
• Wind power industry: Indian wind power industry, driven mainly by the private sector
like IT, is on the threshold of a major expansion in turbine manufacturing and installation
of power generation capacity with the entry of new players and substantial foreign direct
investment. With an installed capacity of 8,748 mw, it is the fourth largest in the world,
next to Spain, Germany, and the US.
• Reliance Brands inks JV with Diesel: The Mukesh Ambani controlled Reliance Brands,
has signed a Joint Venture (JV) with world famous Italian lifestyle brand, Diesel, to launch the brand in the country in 2009.
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