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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