Sports


• 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.

Santosh Kumar

• 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

Miscellaneous

• 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


unclean.

• 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

non-profit organization.
 
• 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

Satish Rai.

• 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

the globe.

• 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.

Current Affairs - October 1-15, 2008 S&T

• 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

detection.

• 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

minorities.

• 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

system.

• 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

borrowing costs.

• 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.



• Gurkha soldiers win right to retire in Britain: Former Gurkha soldiers cheered and


waved their regiment’s flag outside the high court in London after they won a long-running

fight to secure the right to retire in Britain. Members of the famous unit, which has fought

for Britain since 1815, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan, overturned an earlier ruling

that meant those who retired before 1997 had no automatic right to live in Britain. All

other foreign soldiers in the British Army can settle in Britain after four years’ service

anywhere in the world. About 2,000 Gurkhas are affected by the current rules. The high

court ruled that instructions given by the home office to immigration officials were

unlawful and must be changed.

• Sri Lanka: At least 62 LTTE cadre and 10 soldiers were killed as the military launched an

all-out offensive to “flush out their last presence in the bastion Kilinochchi town. A

Ministry statement said the LTTE’s casualties were on the rise as security forces were

making their presence felt in Kilinochchi and are “on the verge of mounting a full-fledged

assault at the Tiger heartland.”
 
• India-France sign civil N –deal: Following the waiver granted by the Nuclear Suppliers


Group (NSG), France became the first country to sign a civil nuclear energy. This

pathbreaking development brings down the wall keeping India away from nuclear

technology and may act as a spur for swift closure of the 123 agreement with the US. The

agreement on the Development of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy' signed by Anil

Kakodkar, secretary, department of atomic energy, and French foreign minister Bernard

Kouchner at the Elysee Palace marks the unshackling of India from the denial regime

forced on it after the first Pokharan test in 1974. An official statement said, "This

agreement will form the basis of wide ranging bilateral cooperation from basic and applied

research to full civil nuclear cooperation including reactors, nuclear fuel supply, nuclear

safety, radiation and environment protection and nuclear fuel cycle management."

o Areva, a French company, is world leader in nuclear equipment, technology.

• U.S. Senate clears nuclear deal: The India-U.S. nuclear deal secured the approval of the

U.S. Senate which overwhelmingly voted a bill rejecting all the killer amendments and

paving the way for its implementation. The landmark civil nuclear cooperation agreement,

entered into between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and U.S. President George W. Bush

in 2005, secured 86 votes while 13 Senators voted against it. The U.S.-India Agreement

for Cooperation Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy (123 Agreement) got bipartisan

support after the killer amendments, moved by two Democratic Senators, were

turned down.

• India, Sri Lanka to resolve fisherman issue: With incidents of Indian fishermen being

targeted allegedly by Sri Lankan Navy in the Palk Straits on the rise, India and Sri Lanka

have agreed to evolve a mechanism to resolve the issue. External Affairs Minister Pranab

Mukherjee and Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollogama, who discussed a wide

range of subjects, agreed to task their relevant departments to evolve the mechanism.

• Glory in Africa: With Indian Air Force helicopter gu- nships killing hundreds of rebels and

infantry combat vehicles punching through rebel positions, India's largest-ever deployment

of soldiers on foreign soil has taken on a muscular new turn in the heart of Africa. The

Democratic Republic of Congo's internal conflict - whose resolution is a test case of strong

global intervention - has led an Indian brigade under the United Nations mission (known

by its French acronym MONUC) to rework its peacekeeping strategy from a velvet glove to

an iron fist.

Congo Matter:

o It’s largest deployment of Indian troops on foreign soil.

o It’s the United Nation’s costliest peace keeping mission ever, meant to show that

global intervention can work.

o Indian first sent troops to the Congo in 1960; there are 4,554 Indian soldiers

deployed as part of the UN peace keeping mission.

o More than three million Congolese have died kin endless wars and human slaughter.

• India looks at more economic engagements with SAARC nations: The government gave

its green signal for the entry of Afghanistan, with a GDP of about $8 billion, to become the

latest member of the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (Safta). In this regard the Cabinet

approved the proposal for ratification of the protocol of accession of Afghanistan to

Agreement on Safta. “Early ratification of the Protocol of Accession will accelerate

Afghanistan’s formal joining of Safta. It will also help in full implementation of Safta by

putting pressure on Pakistan to adhere to Safta norms for the sensitive list and give

transit to Afghanistan. The Saarc countries had earlier aimed to increase the intra-Saarc

trade from the present $20 billion to $40 billion in the next 3-5 years. According to

Research and Information System for Developing Countries, South Asia has emerged as

one of the world’s fastest growing regions with an average growth rate of 8% sustained

over the past five years. Saarc was set up in 1985 by the heads of India, Pakistan, Sri

Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives to advance common interest. Safta was
 
launched in January 2006 and become operational in July 2006, opening over 4, 000


commodities for trade. In 2007, Afghanistan had joined the Saarc as the eighth member.

• Nanotech park in Himachal: An US-based nanotechnology firm Nanobiosym Inc has

evinced interest in setting up India’s first integrated nanotechnology and biomedicine

technology park in Himachal Pradesh.

• Bush signs $ 700-bn bank rescue: US President George W bush signed a $ 700 billion

financial market rescue plan into law, calling its decisive action to ease the credit crunch

that is now threatening our economy. The bipartisan legislation was sent to Bush after it

was approved by the House reversing its September 29 rejection of the measure which had

sent global stock markets plunging. The bill, approved on October 1 by the Senate with $

149 billion in tax breaks to attract House votes, authorizes the government to buy

troubled assets from financial institutions reeling from record home foreclosures. It also

affirms regulators, power to suspend asset-valuing rules that companies blame for fueling

the crisis. The House approved the measure 263-171, four days after rejecting an earlier

version by 228 to 205.

• India retains major share in global BPO: India, home to six of the world’s top eight

outsourcing hubs, continues to be a major global IT and BPO outsourcing destination

amid a determined bid by the neighbouring China to give it a tough competition in the

field, according to a new study. Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Mumbai and

Pune are the six Indian cities in the list of top eight outsourcing cities of the world,

according to a study by Global Services, the media platform for global IT outsourcing and

BPO industry and Tholons, a global investment advisory firm. The other two cities are

Dublin of Ireland and Mataki city, the Philippines, the survey adds. But China dominates

the list of emerging cities for global outsourcing with Shanghai and Beijing leading the list

along with Cebu City from The Philippines.

• G-20: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Cuba, Egypt, Ecudor, Guatemala, Indonesia, Mexico,

Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay,

Venezuela, Zambia. The actual number of countries in G-20 varies. In the above list,

Educator, Peruand Turkey have sometimes been in the group and some times out of it. G-

20 was formed through the Brasilia Declaration in June 2003 by India, Brazil and South

Africa and with China joining these four countries form the core of G-20. G-33 actually

has 44 countries as members. Then there is the G-90 coalition that emerged in Cancun in

2003.

• Russia begins withdrawal from Georgia: Russia began dismantling checkpoints in the

buffer zones inside Georgia despite deadly car bomb blast across the border in South

Ossetia which Moscow blamed on Georgian secret services. A Russian military spokesman

said the moves were in line with a France-brokered peace plan that called for Russian

troops to be replaced by European observers by October 10.

• PM announces $20 mn assistance for Palestine: Affirming India's consistent

commitment to the Palestinian cause, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced an

assistance of $20 million (Rs. 96 crore) to the Palestinian Authority.

• S & P cuts Pak’s credit rating on debt payment concerns: Pakistan’s credit rating was

cut by Standard & Poor’s, which doubts about the country’s ability to meet $3 billion in

debt-servicing costs as terrorism risks grow and investors flee emerging markets. The

nation’s long-term foreign-currency rating was cut two levels to CCC+ from B, with a

negative outlook, the US rating company said in a report Pakistan’s President Asif Ali

Zardari is seeking $100 billion to overcome the nation’s economic crisis and to fight

terrorism,

• In a first, UAE gets a women judge: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has got its first

woman judge with Khulood Ahmed Jawan Al Daheri being sworn in to the post.

• Pak rupee hits all-time low: Pakistani rupee dived to an all-time low against the US

dollar as the country's economy was battered by mounting security and financial problems

which have scared investors. The State Bank of Pakistan had to intervene to inject $100
 
million into the inter-banking market as the rupee slid to an low of Rs 80.5 to the US


dollar in the foreign exchange market.

• World GDP growth: The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest World Economic

Outlook sharply reduces its forecast for world gross domestic product (GDP) growth to 3%

in 2009, whittling it down from the 3.76% predicted in April. A global GDP growth rate of

4.21% is now forecast for 2010, compared with 4.76% earlier. The report says the current

crisis is “the most dangerous shock in mature financial markets since the 1930s”. It’s

difficult to see how that squares with the 3% growth rate in world GDP forecast for next

year. In 2001, after the technology bust, the global economy grew by a mere 2.2%. During

the recession of the early 1990s, global GDP growth was 1.45% in 1991, 2.02 in 1992 and

2% in 1993, before bouncing back to 3.37%. In 2009, China and India are expected to

grow at 9.2% and 6.9% respectively.

• Sri Lanka earmarks record amount for defence spending: Sri Lanka’s government

plans record spending on defence and public security next year to pay for driving Tamil

Tiger rebels from their last strongholds and end a civil war that’s left 100,000 people dead.

Defence ministry outlays are forecast to rise to 177.1 billion Sri Lankan rupees (Rs8040

crore) in 2009 from LKR 166.4 billion this year. Tamils, who make up 11.9% of the

population according to a 2001 census, are discriminated against by the Sinhalese

majority, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

• India’s competitiveness ranking drops: India has dropped in its global competitiveness

ranking to the 50th place, while neighbouring China has improved its ranking to the 30th

spot in the latest list compiled by the World Economic Forum. In the annual Global

Competitiveness 2008-09 Report, India has dropped two places from last year’s 48th spot.

Even as the financial turmoil is ravaging the economy, the US has topped the league of

134 countries. In last year’s list, China was at the 34th place.

• India to participate in Asia-Europe met for first time: For the first time India will be

participating in the ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) founded in 1996, ASEM’s summit in

Beijing later in October. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accompanied by senior officials

will be attending the meeting as an invitee, where the head of states and governments of

45 European countries & the European Commission, with their counterparts from Asian

countries will be attending. The 7th ASEM summit is the first multilateral meeting that the

Prime Minister will be attending soon after the historic nuclear agreements with both the

US and France.

• Baglihar Hydro Power: The first phase of the 450-MW Baglihar power project in the

Kashmir Valley, built over the Chenab river is going to be completed. The project has faced

prolonged delays since it was started in 1999, including objections from Pakistan. The

Pakistan Government had given up “its objections” to the project in September and the

Indian Government had put into action the process to synchronise the first 150 MW unit

of the project.

• Rich live longer, poor die younger: For the first time, difference in life expectancy

between the richest and poorest countries is over 40 years, says the World Health

Organisation's World Health Report (WHR) 2008. Japan has the longest life expectancy at

81 years 6 months, while Zambia is the shortest at 32 years 8 months. The world's

average life expectancy is 67 years. In India, the average life expectancy is 63 years, 62 for

men and 64 for women. In India, the total health expenditure — including out-of-pocket

spending — is 5 per cent of the GDP, but the government's spending on healthcare is

barely 1 per cent of the GDP. In India, 49 per cent women gave birth with assistance from

a health professional, but the disparity between urban and rural India is pronounced —

75 per cent of urban women had medical help as compared to 39 per cent women in rural

areas. In India, 59 per cent women still deliver their babies at home.

o Japan – 81.5 years

o US – 78 years

o China – 73.5 years
 
o India – 63 years


o Pakistan – 62.5 years

o Zambia – 33 years

• India Mega Air Show in Hyderabad: The international exhibition and conference on civil

aviation being held in Hyderabad. France and Europe are India’s first partners in this

area.

• India fares badly on global hunger index: India, in comparison, is failing miserably to

tackle hunger. India ranks 66 out of 88 countries on the 2008 Global Hunger Index (GHI).

Even Punjab, the food bowl and the best performing state within India, came off worse

than countries like Gabon and Vietnam when measured on the index. Out of the 17 states

that researchers measured on the index, Madhya Pradesh came up worst. Compared

internationally, it could not measure up to even strife-torn countries of Africa such as

Congo, Rwanda and Sudan. It was marked as facing an "extremely alarming" hunger

crisis. The index was based on an average of three leading indicators-prevalence of child

malnutrition, rates of child mortality and the proportion of people who are calorie

deficient.

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

death.

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

cases.”

• 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

Manmohan Singh.

• 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

Lieutenant Generals.

• 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

Nano.

• 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

their discoveries.

• 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

fire-prone.

• 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

MW.

• 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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